Archive for the ‘AT&T’ Category

AT&T raises DirecTV prices again amid customer losses and possible sale

November 19th, 2020
A DirecTV satellite dish mounted to the outside of a building.

Enlarge / A DirecTV satellite dish seen outside a bar in Portland, Oregon, in October 2019. (credit: Getty Images | hapabapa)

AT&T has announced another round of price hikes for DirecTV satellite and U-verse TV services, with monthly prices set to rise up to $9 starting January 17, 2021.

"Due to increased programming costs, we're adjusting the price of our video packages," AT&T said in a notice on its website. "Periodically, TV network owners increase the fees they charge DirecTV for the right to broadcast their movies, shows, and sporting events." Of course, AT&T itself determines some of these programming prices because it owns Time Warner.

A $5 monthly increase is coming to DirecTV's 160-channel "Entertainment" package, which currently has a standard rate of $97 a month. A $7 monthly increase is coming to the 185-channel Choice package, currently at $115 a month. A $9 increase is coming to both the 250-channel Ultimate package (currently $142) and the 330-channel Premier package (currently $197).

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Broadband power users explode, making data caps more profitable for ISPs

November 13th, 2020
An illustration of $100 bills being sucked into an Internet connection.

Data cap cash. (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The number of broadband "power users"—people who use 1TB or more per month—has doubled over the past year, ensuring that ISPs will be able to make more money from data caps.

In Q3 2020, 8.8 percent of broadband subscribers used at least 1TB per month, up from 4.2 percent in Q3 2019, according to a study released yesterday by OpenVault. OpenVault is a vendor that sells a data-usage tracking platform to cable, fiber, and wireless ISPs and has 150 operators as customers worldwide. The 8.8- and 4.2-percent figures refer to US customers only, an OpenVault spokesperson told Ars.

More customers exceeding their data caps will result in more overage charges paid to ISPs that impose monthly data caps. Higher usage can also boost ISP revenue because people using more data tend to subscribe to higher-speed packages.

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What using AT&T’s 768kbps DSL is like in 2020—yes, it’s awful

November 6th, 2020
A snail resting on a computer mouse, to illustrate slow Internet service.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Synergee)

Millions of Americans live in broadband deserts with no access to anything resembling modern Internet service. But few people have it as bad as those who must rely on AT&T's ancient DSL network.

Kathie McNamee of Raymond, Mississippi is one of those unlucky AT&T DSL customers. McNamee said she pays AT&T $35 a month for a 768kbps Internet plan that rarely works well enough to be usable for her, her husband, and two teenage sons. McNamee contacted Ars after reading a story about AT&T incorrectly claiming that certain homes in Mississippi had access to broadband when in fact AT&T isn't capable of providing service to those addresses.

AT&T has received over $283 million from the Federal Communications Commission since 2015 to extend home-Internet service to over 133,000 potential customer locations in Mississippi. AT&T says it will exceed that requirement by the end-of-2020 deadline, but the company's mapping mistakes have led to unpleasant surprises for customers who thought they'd get modern broadband.

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The tech antitrust problem no one is talking about

October 31st, 2020

After years of building political pressure for antitrust scrutiny of major tech companies, this month Congress and the US government delivered. The House Antitrust Subcommittee released a report accusing Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook of monopolistic behavior. The Department of Justice filed a complaint against Google alleging the company prevents consumers from sampling other search engines.

The new fervor for tech antitrust has so far overlooked an equally obvious target: US broadband providers. “If you want to talk about a history of using gatekeeper power to harm competitors, there are few better examples,” says Gigi Sohn, a fellow at the Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy.

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Posted in AT&T, broadband, Charter, Comcast, Competition, Policy, verizon | Comments (0)

AT&T loses another 600,000 TV customers as it seeks buyer for DirecTV

October 22nd, 2020
AT&T's logo and stock price displayed on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in January 2019.

Enlarge / AT&T's logo and share price displayed on a monitor at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

AT&T lost 627,000 TV customers in Q3 2020, an improvement over previous quarters as the company continues its attempt to sell its failing DirecTV division.

In earnings results reported today, AT&T said it lost 590,000 "Premium TV" customers, a category that includes DirecTV satellite, U-verse wireline TV, and the online service known as AT&T TV. AT&T also lost 37,000 customers from AT&T TV Now, the streaming service formerly known as DirecTV Now.

The Premium TV loss of 590,000 customers in Q3 is the best result since AT&T lost 544,000 subscribers in Q1 2019. AT&T's Premium TV losses ranged from 778,000 to 1.16 million customers per quarter from Q2 2019 through Q2 2020. AT&T currently has 17.1 million Premium TV customers, down from over 25 million in early 2017.

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AT&T has trouble figuring out where it offers government-funded Internet

October 13th, 2020
An AT&T logo on the side of a building.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | ljhimages)

If you live in an area where AT&T has taken government funds in exchange for deploying broadband, there's a chance you won't be able to get the service—even if AT&T initially tells you it's available.

AT&T's Mississippi division has received over $283 million from the Federal Communications Commission's Connect America Fund since 2015 and in exchange is required to extend home-Internet service to over 133,000 potential customer locations. As we previously reported, the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) accused AT&T of submitting false coverage data to the FCC program. As evidence, Mississippi said its "investigation found concrete, specific examples that show AT&T Mississippi has reported location addresses... as being served when, in fact, the addresses are without service."

AT&T has since provided an explanation that confirms it submitted false data on the serviceability of some addresses but says it will still meet the overall requirement of serving over 133,000 new customer locations. The problem is in how AT&T determines whether its wireless home-Internet service can reach individual homes and businesses. AT&T uses propagation modeling software to map out coverage areas, but the software isn't always accurate. This wouldn't be a problem if AT&T deployed fiber-to-the-home or fiber-to-the-node in these areas, but the company is meeting its obligations with wireless service.

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AT&T plans thousands of layoffs at HBO, Warner Bros., rest of WarnerMedia

October 9th, 2020
AT&T's logo pictured on a wall at its headquarters.

Enlarge / AT&T's logo at its corporate headquarters on March 13, 2020 in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Getty Images | Ronald Martinez )

AT&T is planning thousands of layoffs at HBO, Warner Bros., and other parts of WarnerMedia as part of a plan to cut costs by up to 20 percent, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.

WarnerMedia is what used to be called Time Warner Inc. before AT&T purchased the entertainment company in 2018. Layoffs and cost cuts are nothing new at AT&T in general, including at WarnerMedia. But WarnerMedia has taken a particularly big hit since the pandemic began. AT&T laid off about 600 people from WarnerMedia in August, a prelude to the new cuts revealed yesterday. The Journal wrote:

AT&T's WarnerMedia is restructuring its workforce as it seeks to reduce costs by as much as 20 percent as the coronavirus pandemic drains income from movie tickets, cable subscriptions and television ads, according to people familiar with the matter.

The overhaul, which is expected to begin in the coming weeks, would result in thousands of layoffs across Warner Bros. studios and TV channels like HBO, TBS and TNT, the people said.

WarnerMedia told the Journal that it has been significantly impacted by the pandemic and plans to reorganize to focus on growth opportunities. "We are in the midst of that process and it will involve increased investments in priority areas and, unfortunately, reductions in others," WarnerMedia said. WarnerMedia had nearly 30,000 employees earlier this year.

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AT&T offloading DirecTV could be a “fire sale” as company weighs low bids

October 7th, 2020
AT&T's logo and stock price displayed on a monitor on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in January 2019.

Enlarge / AT&T's logo and share price displayed on a monitor at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

AT&T is reportedly moving ahead with its plan to sell DirecTV despite receiving bids that value the satellite division at less than one-third of the price AT&T paid for it.

AT&T bought DirecTV for $49 billion in 2015 and has lost seven million TV subscribers in the last two years. In late August, news broke that AT&T is trying to sell DirecTV to private-equity investors and that a deal could come in at less than $20 billion.

The New York Post yesterday provided an update on the sale process, writing that AT&T is pressing ahead with an auction even though it is "shaping up to be a fire sale." The sale process is being handled for AT&T by Goldman Sachs.

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AT&T kills DSL, leaves tens of millions of homes without fiber Internet

October 5th, 2020
A snail resting on a computer mouse, to illustrate slow Internet service.

Enlarge (credit: Getty IMages | Synergee)

AT&T has deployed fiber-to-the-home Internet to less than 30 percent of the households in its 21-state territory, according to a new report that says AT&T has targeted wealthy, non-rural areas in its fiber upgrades.

The report, co-written by an AT&T workers union and an advocacy group, is timely, being issued just a few days after AT&T confirmed it will stop connecting new customers to its aging DSL network. That does not mean customers in DSL areas will get fiber, because AT&T last year said it was mostly done expanding its fiber service. AT&T said at the time that it would only expand fiber incrementally, in areas where it makes financial sense for AT&T to do so. We'll provide more detail on the DSL cutoff later in this article—in short, the fiber/copper hybrid known as AT&T Internet is still offered to new customers, but the slower product that AT&T sells under the DSL name is being discontinued except for existing customers.

Citing data that ISPs are required to submit to the Federal Communications Commission, the report issued today said that AT&T had built fiber-to-the-home to 28 percent of the households in its footprint as of June 30, 2019. The report was written by the Communications Workers of America (CWA), a union that represents AT&T employees; and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), an advocacy group that has been tracking AT&T's broadband deployments for years. The groups say that AT&T has left rural areas and people with low incomes with old, inadequate broadband services.

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Posted in AT&T, Biz & IT, DSL, fiber broadband, fiber internet, fiber-to-the-home, Policy | Comments (0)

AT&T took $283 million but didn’t deploy required broadband, Mississippi says

October 1st, 2020
A man with an umbrella walking past a building with an AT&T logo.

Enlarge / A man walks with an umbrella outside of AT&T corporate headquarters on March 13, 2020, in Dallas, Texas. (credit: Getty Images | Ronald Martinez)

AT&T falsely told the US government that it met its obligation to deploy broadband at more than 133,000 locations in Mississippi, state officials say.

Since 2015, AT&T has received over $283 million from the Federal Communications Commission's Connect America Fund to expand its network in Mississippi. But the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) said it has evidence that AT&T's fixed-wireless broadband is not available to all the homes and businesses where AT&T claims it offers service. The PSC asked the FCC to conduct "a complete compliance audit" of AT&T's claim that it has met its obligation.

"Our investigation has found concrete, specific examples that show AT&T Mississippi has reported location addresses... as being served when, in fact, the addresses are without service under their [Connect America Fund] obligations," said a letter to the FCC sent Tuesday by all three Mississippi PSC commissioners. "This pattern of submitting false data to the USAC [the Universal Service Administrative Company, which administers the program on the FCC's behalf] merits a full compliance audit by the FCC, USAC, or whichever appropriate agency. We feel it is our duty to alert you to this issue."

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