Starting now, a so-called “six strikes” program has begun with at least the following Internet providers: AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon. It appears that these five ISPs are the only companies implementing the program negotiated with the MPAA and the RIAA Under the program, users will be monitored ad if they are detected downloading copyrighted material, they will be notified by their ISP and become subject to increasing levels of punishment. So much for privacy. Can you imagine the phone company scanning your calls looking for prohibited content or behaviour? Can you trust your ISP with the sort of deep scanning that is required?
If a customer believes he or she is innocent, they can file an appeal (which costs $35, refundable if the customer wins). I would expect a large number of “false positive” claims to be made by the carriers. And I would switch away from these five carriers if you possibly can.
You lie awake at night worrying about what is that which will disrupt your business model. Apple iMessage is a classic example. If you’re using iMessage, you’re not using one of our messaging services, right? That’s disruptive to our messaging revenue stream.
– AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, regretting that the telco carriers’ massively over-priced text messaging plans are under serious assault.
I think this Tweet expresses my view quite ably:
@parislemon What an insufferable asshole. Maybe if they didn’t charge margins of +10,000% Apple wouldn’t have had to side step them.
The FCC has released its report on the likely impact of AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile. It isn’t pretty. Among other conclusions, the report determines that if the merger were to occur, there would be a no significant wireless competition in any major US city (with the sole exception of Omaha).
Update: The FCC report was originally at the link shown above, but has been removed from that location. Currently, a copy of the report is available here. However, the new version of the report is heavily redacted. What the heck is going on here?
Update 2: Via Lauren Weinstein, the original version of the FCC report is available here.
Well, here are two interesting datapoints: both Sprint and AT&T set one day activation records on Friday. Not surprising for Sprint, given that the iPhone is new to that carrier. But AT&T has offered the iPhone from day one, and they say that they activated more than twice their previous record.
As of 4:30 pm ET [Friday], AT&T had already activated a record number of iPhones on our network – and is on-track to double our previous record for activations on a single day. These record volumes may produce slower activations for some customers, though our systems continue to run at record levels.
The nation’s major mobile-phone providers are keeping a treasure trove of sensitive data on their customers, according to newly-released Justice Department internal memo that for the first time reveals the data retention policies of America’s largest telecoms.
The single-page Department of Justice document, “Retention Periods of Major Cellular Service Providers,” (.pdf) is a guide for law enforcement agencies looking to get information — like customer IP addresses, call logs, text messages and web surfing habits – out of U.S. telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.
We believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices and lower-quality products for their mobile wireless services.
– James M. Cole, deputy Attorney General, announcing that the DOJ will seek to prohibit the merger of the second and third largest US mobile telecom operators. Leaving only two significant operators absolutely would be against the interest of consumers.
Verizon and Apple are now taking pre-orders for the iPhone. And early reviews of the performance of the iPhone on Verizon’s network are coming in and it appears that this phone and network drop far fewer calls, although data is slower than on AT&T.
… to answer everyone’s question, the Verizon iPhone is nearly the same as AT&T’s iPhone 4 — but it doesn’t drop calls. For several million Americans, that makes it the holy grail.
Even if Verizon’s network is the best in America, its policies and prices are still among the worst. This is the company, after all, that admitted to billing $2 every time you accidentally hit the up-arrow button. (Verizon refunded $52 million and paid the Federal Communications Commission a record $25 million fine.) This is the company that just eliminated its “new phone every two years” discount policy, that just cut its new-phone return policy to 14 days from 30, that doubled its early-termination fee (to $350 if you cancel your two-year contract before it’s up).
On the big question, I can say that, at least in the areas where I was using it, the Verizon model did much, much better with voice calls. In numerous tries over nine days, I had only three dropped calls on the Verizon unit, and those were all to one person who was using an AT&T iPhone in an especially bad area for AT&T: San Francisco. With the nearly identical AT&T model, I often get that many dropped calls in one day.
What about the trade-offs? Chief among them is data speed. I performed scores of speed tests on the two phones, which I used primarily in Washington, and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and for part of one day at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. In these many tests, despite a few Verizon victories here and there, AT&T’s network averaged 46% faster at download speeds and 24% faster at upload speeds. This speed difference was noticeable while doing tasks like downloading large numbers of emails, or waiting for complicated Web pages to load. AT&T’s speeds varied more while Verizon’s were more consistent, but overall, AT&T was more satisfying at cellular data.
Yesterday, I made a 45-minute phone call from my office.
This seemingly unremarkable statement is remarkable for two reasons. First, I was able to place a call from my office — something which was impossible for me to do a week prior. Second, I made it through the entire 45-minutes without the call being dropped once. Again, this was impossible a week prior.
I would expect AT&T to run a number of ads like this again. The feature highlighted is not available on CDMA phones, including the Verizon iPhone. Only GSM (and the next version of GSM called LTE) have this feature.
It is always the carrier. The iPhone is a big hit. But in the United States, the iPhone has been held back by being restricted to a single carrier: AT&T. AT&T is often viewed as unreliable, at least for voice communication.
But now comes the competitors to the iPhone and iPad, and they are available on most carriers. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab can be purchased for use on Verizon. Isn’t that great?
Well, not really. Joel Evans writes about his interaction with Verizon and his Samsung Galaxy Tab:
Long story short, I used to think that the pricing of the hardware itself on the Samsung Tab was too high. Now I see that there are a bunch of hidden fees if you decide to start and stop your service. This may be acceptable for some people, but I would think that most people are going to be shocked when they receive a bill that’s not only loaded with an activation fee and more taxes, but also a possible overage fee. Overage fee, you ask? It turns out that even though I mostly used my Samsung Tab on Wi-Fi this month, whatever time I spent demoing the Tab completely sucked away my 1GB of data. I can honestly say that I think the total demo time was maybe 10 minutes, so I’ll be researching that one, too. Verizon Wireless wasted no time sending me an email letting me know that my data usage was running out, though.
I’m not sure what the other carriers are doing for pricing and hidden fees on the Samsung Tab, but this definitely makes me appreciate my $14.99 a month fee for my iPad. In the case of the iPad, the $14.99 never changes, except when I have to renew it again for another $14.99 for the next month.
Hardware makers can cook up stunning devices, but a service provider that can provide good coverage without hidden fees and without mucking up the device with its own crapware is crucial for any mobile device.
MG Siegler has a great essay on the risk that the hoped-for Verizon iPhone might end up being crippled or even ruined by Verizon restrictions. This is a real risk and maybe enough for Apple to refuse a deal with Verizon.
Verizon can no longer laugh at Apple’s ideas, but instead the prospect of the iPhone as it is currently constituted on their network probably scares the hell out of them. Sure, they’d add billions in revenues from new contracts, but they’d essentially be a dumb pipe for this device. As they’ve proven with all of their other devices — including the RAZR and now their Android phones — they don’t want to be that. They want to be in control of not only the network, but at least some of the content on that network.
So now the question in my mind is whether or not Apple is willing to make any concessions to Verizon? Would Apple allow them to include a V CAST app standard on every iPhone, for example? One that couldn’t be deleted? What about apps in the App Store that only work with Verizon iPhones and not AT&T iPhones (just like Skype for Android)? What about interface changes (either software or hardware) that show more prominently that this is a Verizon phone? Or what about a cut of all apps sold and all music/movies/tv show downloaded?
The two corporations have argued about almost everything. Jobs has been apoplectic about the state of AT&T’s network and what he views as its slow-footed upgrade efforts almost since launch day three years ago. One Apple source says that Jobs has discussed dropping AT&T at least half a dozen times.
AT&T executives aren’t so crazy about Jobs, either. They complain that Apple hasn’t accepted its fair share of the blame. They say — and Apple sources confirm — that the software running the iPhone’s main radio, known as the baseband, was full of bugs and contributed to the much-decried dropped calls. What’s more, Apple had chosen to source the radio from Infineon, whose hardware was used widely in Europe but rarely in the US, where cell towers are placed farther apart and reception is therefore less forgiving.
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The true cost to AT&T of this exhausting relationship will be debated for years. If the short-term bottom line is the only yardstick, it will be deemed one of the most lucrative business partnerships ever conceived. For its part, Apple has seen the iPhone become its largest and most profitable business generator almost overnight. It now represents more than $13 billion in annual revenue and has been a huge factor in Apple’s recent success. The company’s profit has doubled since 2007, and its stock price has nearly tripled since the end of 2006. (Indeed, Apple surpassed Microsoft in May to become the world’s most valuable technology company.) The iPhone has also been very, very good for AT&T’s wireless division — helping to generate record revenue, customer growth, and profit — despite the unprecedented amount of control it surrendered in exchange for the exclusive right to sell the device. Since early 2007, AT&T’s wireless revenue is up 43 percent, profit has risen roughly 200 percent, and the number of subscribers has grown 40 percent.