AT&T

AT&T and Comcast Finalize Court Victory Over Nashville and Google Fiber (arstechnica.com) 122

"AT&T and Comcast have solidified a court victory over the metro government in Nashville, Tennessee, nullifying a rule that was meant to help Google Fiber compete against the incumbent broadband providers," reports Ars Technica. From the report: The case involved Nashville's "One Touch Make Ready" ordinance that was supposed to give Google Fiber and other new ISPs faster access to utility poles. The ordinance let a single company make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires. But AT&T and Comcast sued the metro government to eliminate the rule and won a preliminary victory in November when a U.S. District Court judge in Tennessee nullified the rule as it applies to poles owned by AT&T and other private parties.

The next step for AT&T and Comcast was overturning the rule as it applies to poles owned by the municipal Nashville Electric Service (NES), which owns around 80 percent of the Nashville poles. AT&T and Comcast achieved that on Friday with a new ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger. Nashville's One Touch Make Ready ordinance "is ultra vires and void or voidable as to utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Service because adoption of the Ordinance exceeded Metro Nashville's authority and violated the Metro Charter," the ruling said. Nashville is "permanently enjoined from applying the Ordinance to utility poles owned by Nashville Electric Service." The Nashville government isn't planning to appeal the decision, a spokesperson for Nashville Mayor Megan Barry told Ars today.

AT&T

AT&T Pulls Out of Deal To Sell China's Huawei Phones In the US (phonedog.com) 63

According to the Wall Street Journal, AT&T has walked away from a deal to sell China's Huawei smartphones in the U.S. Neither AT&T nor Huawei have commented on the matter, but the news is certainly going to disappoint those of you who were looking forward to picking up Huawei's flagship Mate 10. Prior to this report, Huawei was expected to announce that its flagship Mate 10 will launch on AT&T in 2018. PhoneDog reports: Huawei has a major presence internationally, with recent reports saying that it's the No. 3 smartphone brand in the world behind Apple and Samsung. The company hasn't made much of a dent in the U.S., though, despite the fact that it's been selling its phones unlocked in the U.S. for awhile now. This AT&T deal would've been big for Huawei, helping it to get its phones inside carrier stores and in front of U.S. consumers, the majority of which still buy their phones from their carriers. Now we'll have to wait and see if Huawei can strike a deal with another carrier or if it'll have to continue on in the unlocked market. A Huawei spokesperson only said "Huawei has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the U.S. market."
Iphone

Some Smartphone Salesmen Aren't Sold on the iPhone X (cnet.com) 230

A CNET reporter visited four carrier stores to ask their salesmen if they'd recommend an iPhone X. But after visiting stores for Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon, "I couldn't even find a salesperson to tell me it was the best iPhone I could buy." So he finally tried asking three salesmen at Apple Stores -- and still got equivocal answers. An anonymous reader quotes CNET's report: "Well, it depends on what you like," the salesman said, somewhat coyly. "The biggest problem I have with it is using Face ID for Apple Pay. You really have to put the phone at a certain angle or it doesn't work." He started with a problem. I was already suspicious. I was in something of a hurry, but I asked him: "So are you selling a lot more of these than other phones?"

He turned into a high-ranking member of a political party. "All our phones sell well," he said. Which sounded not entirely reassuring. Indeed, it sounded like a "no."

Chatting next with an Apple store "Genius" (who was testing his iPhone 6), CNET's reporter was told that "The X and the 8 are the same phone... Inside, I mean. With the X, you're just paying the extra money for the design." Unfortunately, that salesman's $999 iPhone X was wrapped in an ugly pink case, because after four weeks he'd already cracked it. And a third Apple salesman -- who touted the glories of an OLED screen -- also kept his iPhone X in a case at all times "It's glass," he explained. "You'll definitely need a case."

"But what about not being able to see the lovely phone?"

"Get a see-through case," he replied with a smile.
AT&T

AT&T Sheds Thousands of Employees After Touting GOP Tax Plan, Giving Out Bonuses (appleinsider.com) 105

Prior to Christmas, AT&T and DirecTV gave layoff notices to a large number of landline, legacy service, and home installers spanning the country. "It is not clear if the firings relate to the pending AT&T and Time Warner acquisition, or how it specifically relates to the announcement that the company was giving $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees in commemoration of the tax overhaul signed just before Christmas," reports Apple Insider. Slashdot reader deadwill69 writes: Just more doublespeak after they announced their bonus program to justify the tax cuts. Seems they really didn't mean it after all. "Technology improvements are driving higher efficiencies, and there are some areas where demand for our legacy services continues to decline, and we're adjusting our workforce in some of those areas as we continue to align our workforce with the changing needs of the business," AT&T said in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "Many of the affected employees have a job offer guarantee that ensures they'll be offered another job with the company, and we'll work to find other jobs for as many of them as possible." Let's hope they keep that promise. On a bright note: their service really couldn't get much worse?
AT&T

ISPs Won't Promise To Treat All Traffic Equally After Net Neutrality (theverge.com) 232

An anonymous reader writes: The FCC voted to put an end to net neutrality, giving internet providers free rein to deliver service at their own discretion. There's really only one condition here: internet providers will have to disclose their policies regarding "network management practices, performance, and commercial terms." So if ISPs want to block websites, throttle your connection, or charge certain websites more, they'll have to admit it. We're still too far out to know exactly what disclosures all the big ISPs are going to make -- the rules (or lack thereof) don't actually go into effect for another few months -- but many internet providers have been making statements throughout the year about their stance on net neutrality, which ought to give some idea of where they'll land. We reached out to 10 big or notable ISPs to see what their stances are on three core tenets of net neutrality: no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. Not all of them answered, and the answers we did get are complicated. [The Verge reached out to Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, Charter (Spectrum), Cox, Altice USA (Optimum and SuddenLink), and Google Fi and Google Fiber.]

Many ISPs say they support some or all of these core rules, but there's a big caveat there: for six of the past seven years, there have been net neutrality rules in place at the FCC. That means all of the companies we checked with have had to abide by the no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization rules. It means that they can say, and be mostly correct in saying, that they've long followed those rules. But it is, on some level, because they've had to. What actually matters is which policies ISPs say they'll keep in the future, and few are making commitments about that. In fact, all of the companies we contacted (with the exception of Google) have supported the FCC's plan to remove the current net neutrality rules. None of the ISPs we contacted will make a commitment -- or even a comment -- on paid fast lanes and prioritization. And this is really where we expect to see problems: ISPs likely won't go out and block large swaths of the web, but they may start to give subtle advantages to their own content and the content of their partners, slowly shaping who wins and loses online.
Comcast: Comcast says it currently doesn't block, throttle content, or offer paid fast lanes, but hasn't committed to not doing so in the future.
AT&T: AT&T has committed to not blocking or throttling websites in the future. However, its stance around fast lanes is unclear.
Verizon: Verizon indicates that, at least in the immediate future, it will not block legal content. As for throttling and fast lanes, the company has no stance, and even seems to be excited to use the absence of rules to its advantage.
T-Mobile: T-Mobile makes no commitments to not throttle content or offer paid fast lanes and is unclear on its commitment to not blocking sites and services. It's already involved in programs that advantage some services over others.
Sprint: Sprint makes no commitments on net neutrality, but suggests it doesn't have plans to offer a service that would block sites.
Charter (Spectrum): Charter doesn't make any guarantees, but the company indicates that it's currently committed to not blocking or throttling customers.
Cox: Cox says it won't block or throttle content, even without net neutrality. It won't make commitments on zero-rating or paid fast lanes.
Altice USA (Optimum and SuddenLink): Altice doesn't currently block or throttle and suggests it will keep those policies, though without an explicit commitment. The company doesn't comment on prioritizing one service over another.
Google Fi and Google Fiber: Google doesn't make any promises regarding throttling and paid prioritization. However, it is the only company to state that it believes paid prioritization would be harmful.
AT&T

AT&T Begins Testing High-Speed Internet Over Power Lines (reuters.com) 119

AT&T has started trials to deliver high-speed internet over power lines. The company announced the news on Wednesday and said that trials have started in Georgia state and a non-U.S. location. Reuters reports: AT&T aims to eventually deliver speeds faster than the 1 gigabit per second consumers can currently get through fiber internet service using high-frequency airwaves that travel along power lines. While the Georgia trial is in a rural area, the service could potentially be deployed in suburbs and cities, the company said in a statement. AT&T said it had no timeline for commercial deployment and that it would look to expand trials as it develops the technology.

"We think this product is eventually one that could actually serve anywhere near a power line," said Marachel Knight, AT&T's senior vice president of wireless network architecture and design, in an interview. She added that AT&T chose an international trial location in part because the market opportunity extends beyond the United States.

The Courts

AT&T, Comcast Lawsuit Has Nullified a City's Broadband Competition Law (arstechnica.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T and Comcast have convinced a federal judge to nullify an ordinance that was designed to bring more broadband competition to Nashville, Tennessee. The Nashville Metro Council last year passed a "One Touch Make Ready" rule that gives Google Fiber or other new ISPs faster access to utility poles. The ordinance lets a single company make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles itself, instead of having to wait for incumbent providers like AT&T and Comcast to send work crews to move their own wires. AT&T and Comcast sued the metro government in U.S. District Court in Nashville, claiming that federal and local laws preempt the One Touch Make Ready rule. Judge Victoria Roberts agreed with AT&T and Comcast in a ruling issued Tuesday. Google Fiber is offering service in Nashville despite saying last year that it was waiting for access to thousands of utility poles. "We're reviewing [the] court ruling to understand its potential impact on our build in Nashville," a Google spokesperson said this week, according to The Tennessean. "We have made significant progress with new innovative deployment techniques in some areas of the city, but access to poles remains an important issue where underground deployment is not a possibility."
AT&T

US Sues To Block AT&T Purchase of Time Warner (reuters.com) 64

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing AT&T to block its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner. "The legal challenge was expected after AT&T rejected a demand by the Justice Department earlier this month to divest its DirecTV unit or Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting -- which contains news network CNN -- in order to win antitrust approval," reports Reuters. From the report: AT&T's chief executive said then that he would defend the deal in court to win approval, and the company criticized the Justice Department's case on Monday. The lawsuit is "a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent," said AT&T lawyer David McAtee, arguing that so-called vertical mergers, between companies that are not direct competitors, are routinely approved. "We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently," he said, adding that AT&T is confident a judge will reject the Justice Department's case.
AT&T

Verizon, AT&T Announce Plans To Build and Share Hundreds of New Cell Towers (fiercewireless.com) 34

An anonymous reader shares a report: Verizon and AT&T announced a joint venture with Tillman Infrastructure to build and share hundreds of cell towers in more in a move that is sure to be seen as a threat to more established tower companies. The companies said the new structures "will add to the overall communications infrastructure in the United States," filling gaps in current tower footprints, but will also enable the nation's two largest network operators to relocate equipment from towers they're currently using. Construction plans on the first towers will begin early next year and will come online "quickly" as they are completed.
Google

Alphabet's Project Loon Delivers Internet To 100,000 People In Puerto Rico (engadget.com) 34

Google announced that its Project Loon internet balloons have delivered internet service to over 100,000 Puerto Ricans who were knocked offline by Hurricane Maria. Engadget reports: It's not a total success, which isn't to be expected after Puerto Ricans' communications infrastructure suffered so much damage. But the team was able to work with AT&T and T-Mobile to get "communication and internet activities like sending text messages and accessing information online for some people with LTE enabled phones," head of Project Loon Alastair Westgarth wrote in a blog post. The team launched their balloons from Nevada and used machine learning algorithms to direct them over Puerto Rico, where they've been relaying internet from working ground networks over to users in unconnected areas. In the post, Westgarth noted that Project Loon has never fired up internet from scratch this rapidly, and will improve their ability to keep balloons in place (and deliver sustained connectivity) as they become familiar with the air currents.
AT&T

Justice Department Tells Time Warner It Must Sell CNN Or DirecTV To Approve Its AT&T Merger (nytimes.com) 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): The Justice Department has called on AT&T and Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, the group of cable channels that includes CNN, as a potential requirement for approving the companies' pending $85.4 billion deal, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday. The other potential way the merger could win approval would be for AT&T to sell its DirecTV division, two of these people added. As originally envisioned, combining AT&T and Time Warner would yield a giant company offering wireless and broadband internet service, DirecTV, the Warner Brothers movie studio and cable channels like HBO and CNN. If the Justice Department formally makes either demand a requisite for approval, AT&T and Time Warner would almost certainly take the matter to court to challenge the government's legal basis for blocking their deal.
Iphone

Some iPhone X Buyers Are Having Problems Activating Their Phones (theverge.com) 82

Apple has started to ship the iPhone X across the United States, but some new iPhone X owners say they aren't able to start using their new phones due to carrier activation issues and congestion. From a report: A number of iPhone X owners on Twitter have reported having issues activating their new phones. The issue seems to be affecting some AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint users in the last few hours as they try to get service on Apple's $1,000 phone. When users try to activate the device, a message pops up saying, "The activation server is temporarily unavailable."
Television

Another Million Subscribers Cut the Pay TV Cord Last Quarter (dslreports.com) 105

A report from FierceCable says that a million more U.S. pay TV subscribers cut the TV cord last quarter. "Only five of the seven biggest pay TV providers have released their third quarter subscriber data, but collectively these companies saw a net loss of 632,000 pay TV subscribers during the period (385,000 for AT&T and DirecTV, 125,000 for Comcast, 104,000 for Charter, 18.000 for Verizon FiOS TV)," reports DSLReports. "Dish has yet to report its own cord cutting tallies, but the company is again expected to be among the hardest hit due to a high level of retransmission fee feuds and a lack of broadband bundles."
AT&T

Department of Justice Considers Blocking AT&T Deal For Time Warner (reuters.com) 32

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: AT&T and the U.S. Department of Justice are discussing conditions the No. 2 wireless carrier needs to meet in order for its acquisition of Time Warner Inc to win government approval. The $85.4 billion deal, hatched last October, is opposed by some consumer groups and TV companies on the grounds that it would give the wireless company too much power over the media it would carry on its own network. Donald Trump, who has accused media companies like Time Warner's CNN of being unfair to him, criticized the deal on the campaign trail last year and vowed that as president his Justice Department would block it. The proposed deal represents an early challenge for the Justice Department's new antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee who was confirmed by Congress in late September. Delrahim may be looking to ramp up pressure on AT&T. The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was laying the groundwork for a potential lawsuit aimed at stopping the deal if settlement talks did not work out.
AT&T

AT&T Admits Defeat In Lawsuit It Filed To Stall Google Fiber (arstechnica.com) 34

According to Ars Technica, AT&T is reportedly abandoning its attempt to stop a Louisville ordinance that helped draw Google Fiber into the city. The telecommunications giant sued Louisville and Jefferson County, Kentucky to stop an ordinance that gives Google Fiber and other ISPs faster access to utility poles. AT&T's lawsuit was dismissed in August by a district court, who determined that AT&T's claims that the ordinance is invalid are false. WDRB News and Louisville Business First are both reporting that AT&T has decided not to appeal the ruling.
AT&T

DirecTV to Launch Android TV-Based OTT Set-Top Box (variety.com) 28

Janko Roettgers, reporting for Variety: AT&T's DirecTV is getting ready to embrace internet-based content delivery beyond its DirecTV Now service: The company is about to introduce a new TV set-top box that's based on Google's Android TV platform and ditches satellite connectivity for over-the-top streaming, according to a new FCC filing. The new device, which goes by the model number C71KW-400, is being described by these documents as "the new AT&T/DirecTV Wireless 4K OTT Client." A user manual published as part of the filings specifies that the device won't be able to interact with any of DirecTV's existing Genie hardware, and hints at a future hardware product called HS27. Helpfully, the manual also supplies a definition of OTT as "the delivery of video via the internet directly into user-connected devices, allowing access to services anywhere, anytime, on any device." The manual also reveals that the set-top will shop with a voice remote with integrated touch pad, and photos show that it has Ethernet, digital audio, HDMI and USB ports, but no antenna connectivity -- meaning that any and all programming will indeed come over the internet.
AT&T

Mobile Phone Companies Appear To Be Selling Your Location To Almost Anyone (techcrunch.com) 149

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: You may remember that last year, Verizon (which owns Oath, which owns TechCrunch) was punished by the FCC for injecting information into its subscribers' traffic that allowed them to be tracked without their consent. That practice appears to be alive and well despite being disallowed in a ruling last March: companies appear to be able to request your number, location, and other details from your mobile provider quite easily. The possibility was discovered by Philip Neustrom, co-founder of Shotwell Labs, who documented it in a blog post earlier this week. He found a pair of websites which, if visited from a mobile data connection, report back in no time with numerous details: full name, billing zip code, current location (as inferred from cell tower data), and more. (Others found the same thing with slightly different results depending on carrier, but the demo sites were taken down before I could try it myself.)
Television

Cord-Cutters Drive Cable TV Subscribers to a 17-Year Low (houstonchronicle.com) 201

An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: On Wednesday, AT&T told regulators that it expects to finish the quarter with about 90,000 fewer TV subscribers than it began with. AT&T blamed a number of issues, including hurricane damage to infrastructure, rising credit standards and competition from rivals. The report also shows AT&T lost more traditional TV customers than it gained back through its online video app, DirecTV Now. And analysts are suggesting that that's evidence that cord-cutting is the main culprit... "DirecTV, like all of its cable peers, is suffering from the ravages of cord-cutting," said industry analyst Craig Moffett in a research note this week. Moffett added that while nobody expected AT&T's pay-TV numbers to look good, hardly anyone could have predicted they would look "this bad."

The outlook doesn't look much healthier for the rest of the television industry. Over the past year, cable and satellite firms have collectively lost nearly 3 million customers, according to estimates by market analysts at SNL Kagan and New Street Research. The number of households with traditional TV service is hovering at about the level it was in 2000, according to New Street's Jonathan Chaplin, in a study last week. Other analysts predict that, after factoring in AT&T's newly disclosed losses, the industry will have lost 1 million traditional TV subscribers by the end of this quarter.

AT&T

Sprint, T-Mobile Could Announce a Merger By Month's End (androidpolice.com) 47

Last month, it was reported that T-Mobile is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with Sprint. Now, it appears that negotiations between the two companies are almost complete. Android Police reports: The report claims that Sprint and T-Mobile are putting the finishing touches on the merger, which will likely be announced at the quarterly earnings report at the end of this month. Some of the current discussion topics include Sprint's valuation (estimated to be around $29 billion), the location of the combined company's headquarters, and appointments to the executive management team. The merge is not expected to include a breakup/termination fee, meaning if one company backed out of the deal, there would be no financial penalty. This would align both companies to lobby government regulators for approval without any conflicts of interest. After AT&T called off its buyout of T-Mobile in 2011 due to government opposition, the company paid a $4 billion breakup fee to T-Mobile, which helped strengthen T-Mobile as a competitor. The report notes that while T-Mobile and Sprint's quarterly earnings reports have not been set, T-Mobile's was on October 24 last year, and Sprint's was the next day.
AT&T

AT&T Seeks Supreme Court Review On Net Neutrality Rule (bloomberg.com) 143

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: AT&T and other broadband providers asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Obama-era "net neutrality" rule barring internet service providers from slowing or blocking rivals' content. The appeals, filed Thursday, will put new pressure on a rule enacted in 2015 when the Federal Communications Commission was under Democratic control. Filing a separate appeal from AT&T were the United States Telecom Association, a trade group, and broadband service provider CenturyLink. The embattled net neutrality rules bar internet service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from blocking or slowing some web traffic in favor of other content -- their own or a paying customer's. "The practical stakes are immense," AT&T said in its appeal of a ruling that backed the FCC. The company pointed to a dissenting opinion that said the regulation "fundamentally transforms the internet" and will have a "staggering" impact on infrastructure investment.

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