American consumers are sleepwalking into being permanently locked to ever-rising phone bills from monolithic incumbents. This is exactly the scenario that the government tried to avoid when it broke AT&T into seven Baby Bells in 1982. In France, the average mobile bill is now dropping by $7 a year. In America, the average bills from AT&T and Verizon Wireless keep rising as operators force consumers into texting bundles and sneak in new monthly charges. European incumbent operators are facing a consumer revolt as millions of Europeans switch to cheap challenger operators every month. American incumbents have no fear; AT&T and Verizon have locked in 75% of the smartphone market and keep growing. More →
AT&T said earlier this week that it will add a new administrative fee to each of its wireless subscribers’ monthly bills. The fee is only $0.61, which doesn’t sound like much, and an AT&T spokesperson was quick to point out to several news sites that this new fee is lower than similar fees charged by rival carriers. Subscribers were still outraged. Now that the shouting has died down a bit, however, people are looking for a batter explanation for the new charge they’ll see each month. According to one industry watcher, that explanation couldn’t be simpler: “Because they can.” More →
Making sure that people have access to the Internet in the wake of disasters has become crucially important since it gives disaster victims the ability to communicate and learn important information that could help save lives. But what happens if an ISP’s basic infrastructure in a given area gets completely wiped out by a hurricane without any hope of being rebuilt for months? In AT&T’s case, that’s when it’s time to start rolling out its fleet of network equipment trailers that are capable of replicating the functions of a 10-story office building in the space of a small parking lot. More →
When it comes to U.S. carriers, just about everyone dreads the thought of having to call customer service to resolve an issue. Some carriers are certainly worse than others, of course, and the annual American Customer Satisfaction Index survey found that Verizon Wireless once again was ranked highest in customer service quality by subscribers. The company scored 73 points out of a possible 100, up 3 points from 2012. Sprint was flat in the No.2 spot with 71 points while AT&T gained a point to hit 70. T-Mobile remained the lowest-ranked major carrier as its score slid to 68 in 2013 from 69 last year. The full press release follows below. More →
AT&T has always been hesitant to allow customers to use video chat applications on its cellular network. The company previously blocked Apple’s FaceTime service from iPhone devices, only recently allowing customers on a tiered data plan to use the feature. AT&T further angered customers when it blocked Android users from using the video chatting feature in Google’s new Hangouts application unless connected to a Wi-Fi network. In a statement given to The Verge, the carrier confirmed that it will update its controversial policy later this year and will enable preloaded video chat applications over its cellular networks for all customers, regardless of their data plan or device. AT&T’s statement follows below. More →
The HTC First, or “Facebook phone” as many prefer to call it, is officially a flop. It certainly wasn’t a good sign when AT&T dropped the price of HTC’s First to $0.99 just one month after its debut, and now BGR has confirmed that HTC and Facebook’s little experiment is nearing its end. BGR has learned from a trusted source that sales of the HTC First have been shockingly bad. So bad, in fact, that AT&T has already decided to discontinue the phone. More →
It’s good to be king, but ensuring your kingdom continues to expand is always a top priority. According to a recent report from ABI Research, the world’s top-10 wireless carriers — which include Verizon Wireless (No.2) and AT&T (No.4) — took in a combined $202 billion in gross profit last year. That 2012 total is up 4.2% compared to the prior year, but high plan prices and growing subscriber bases aren’t drumming up the growth rates they used to. “As the underlying lift from accumulating subscribers has matured, carriers are starting to cast around for additional revenue streams that don’t just boost revenues but also profitability,” said ABI analyst Jake Saunders. “There is still tremendous income to be generated from mobile services; the Top 10 Mobile Carriers alone generated US$202 billion in gross profit, up 4.2 % year-on-year in 2012.” According to the research firm, IP-based value-added services are now a big focus for top carriers as they look elsewhere for growth opportunities.
HTC’s “First” smartphone received mixed reviews from critics when it was released last month. The handset received praise for its affordable price — $99 with a new two-year agreement — and critics liked its decent internal hardware as well as the fact that it was running a nearly stock version of Android. Reviewers were less enthusiastic about the device’s rear camera and integrated Facebook Home software, however. BGR noted in a review last month that while Facebook Home is appealing for the frequent social network user, it is still a long way off from being a finished product. But despite the sizeable advertising budget, sales of the HTC First appear to be off to a slow start. AT&T this week slashed the price of the smartphone from $99 to $0.99 with a new two-year agreement and reduced the off-contract price from $450 to $350. Although no sales data has been released, the recent price cut suggests that Facebook may be in the midst of its First big mobile flop.
In move that Sigmund Freud would certainly approve of, T-Mobile has released a new ad that claims its network “pipes” are able to gush out more data at a faster rate than AT&T’s, which can apparently only muster a slow trickle. The point of the new ad seems to be that T-Mobile’s network can give iPhone 5 users faster data service despite having very limited LTE availability because it’s not as “overcrowded” as AT&T’s, which is just a nifty way of saying that AT&T has tens of millions more subscribers. T-Mobile has made AT&T its biggest target for ridicule in its “UNcarrier” campaign where it’s been trying to redefine itself as a more consumer-friendly wireless carrier. AT&T so far has responded to T-Mobile’s barbs with a one-word response of “whatever.” A video of the ad is posted below. More →
The latest flagship phone from Samsung is off to a hot start, but some customers felt slighted when they found out that about half of the Galaxy S4′s internal storage is eaten up by the OS and system files. Samsung’s somewhat curt response was to suggest users buy a microSD storage card, but a new solution presented itself on Monday. AT&T confirmed on Twitter that beginning May 10th, Samsung’s Galaxy S4 will be available with 32GB of internal storage for $249.99 on contract. Presuming the Android OS and Samsung’s apps take up the same amount of memory on the 32GB model as they do on the 16GB version, users who opt for the $250 Galaxy S4 should have nearly 25GB of internal storage to work with out of the box.
LG has continued to make inroads in the lucrative mobile market that in recent years has become dominated by its South Korean rival Samsung. The company has taken an aggressive approach against Samsung and even attempted to steal the thunder away from its Galaxy S4 event earlier this year. LG’s original Optimus G smartphone was well received by critics and LG hopes its sequel will find even more success. But can the Optimus G Pro hold its own in a Galaxy controlled by Samsung? More →
The biggest decision that outgoing Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski made during his tenure was to block the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, which earned him plaudits from rival carrier Sprint and scorn from AT&T executives. The Hill reports that Genachowski still has absolutely no regrets for thwarting AT&T’s T-Mobile takeover bid and said this week that a wireless industry dominated by AT&T and Verizon would be a “very bad thing for our innovation economy.” More →
AT&T on Wednesday announced the upcoming launch of LG’s latest flagship smartphone, the Optimus G Pro. The newest addition to LG’s Optimus smartphone lineup features a 1.7GHz quad-core Snapdragon processor, a 5.5-inch full HD 1080p display, a 3,140 mAh battery, a 13-megapixel camera and Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. “The LG Optimus G Pro gives AT&T customers the ability to create and share rich content easily,” said AT&T’s SVP od devices, Jeff Bradley. ”There’s no better place to experience that content than exclusively on our 4G LTE network, the nation’s fastest.” The Optimus G Pro will cost $199.99 on contract when it becomes available beginning May 10th.