The advent of the World Wide Web has delivered instant knowledge to the masses. As the Internet grows, however, danger begins to lurk around every corner. From hackers who steal credit card numbers to cyberbullies, many experts have argued that the Internet has turned into a lawless wasteland where knowledge enters and ignorance exits. The Arizona State Legislature on Monday passed an Internet censorship bill that extends telephone harassment laws to the Internet and other means of electronic communication. The legislation aims to put an end to cyberbullying and states that virtually anything said online that the state deems “offensive” can be a punishable offense. Law enforcement officials will be able to charge Internet lawbreakers with a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a $2,500 fine and up to six months in jail. Opponents of the legislation argue that the vague wording of the bill could lead to a crack down on public message boards such as 4Chan and Reddit, thus infringing upon basic American freedoms. The bill is currently on the Governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law or vetoed. More →
The United States House of Representatives approved the Wireless Tax Fairness Act on Tuesday, an initiative that prevents new local and state taxes on wireless bills for the next five years. “We need to encourage the development and adoption of wireless broadband, not tax it out of existence,” Representative Zoe Lofgren said. The average tax rate on goods and services in the United States is 7.4% but consumers with wireless contracts pay an average of 16.4% in taxes and fees, WirelessWeek said. “The exorbitant discriminatory taxes on wireless customers are not only unfair, they are counterintuitive, adding another costly impediment to the success of so many American businesses who are struggling in the midst of a prolonged recession,” Representative Trent Franks argued. Read on for more. More →
If you are an everyday wireless consumer walking into a store to purchase a new smartphone, the terms HSPA+, WiMAX and LTE may mean very little to you. Yet, each of those networks is different and each is being advertised as “4G” in the United States, thanks to an International Telecommunications Union policy that allows carriers to market newer 3G technologies as “4G” networks. A new bill presented to the U.S. Senate this week hopes to force wireless carriers to clarify what exactly their “4G’ networks offer, including minimum and maximum data speeds. The bill was filed by Senator Amy Kobuchar and Al Franken from Minnesota as well as Senator Richard Blumenthal from Connecticut. “Wireless providers need to make sure their customers can count on the speed, reliability, and the price they were promised when they signed up” Senator Franken explained. “And if they can’t fulfill their promise, they need to be held accountable.” The bill is in addition to The Next Generation Wireless Disclosure Act, which was filed in June by Congresswoman Anna G. Eschoo, who applauded the new bill from Kobuchar, Franken and Blumenthal. Read on for the full press release from Eschoo’s office. More →
In a coyly named and vaguely worded press release, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint announced that it would “increase its postpaid rates by applying a $10 per month Premium Data add-on charge to activations of smartphones beginning Jan. 30.” The company notes that smartphone users, on average, use “10 times more data than users of traditional feature phones.” As the press release reads:
Sprint defines smartphones as devices with robust operating systems that deliver a rich wireless experience by bringing the full function of mobile applications and programs to life, including Blackberry, Android, Windows Mobile, Palm, and the Instinct family of devices. The Premium Data add-on charge previously applied to HTC EVO 4G, HTC EVO Shift 4G and Samsung Epic 4G devices.
The Now Network certainly isn’t going to win over the hearts and minds of wireless consumers with this latest move. We’ve reached out to Sprint to find out when current Sprint customers will be forced to pay the additional fee and what options, if any, are available. The full press release is after the break. More →
Today, regional carrier U.S. Cellular announced a promotion aimed at courting new smartphone customers from both within and outside its existing customer base. The offer will give users opening a new smartphone lines a $150 credit off of future bills and is valid from today through November 29th. “We want to remove barriers for consumers who’ve heard about everything we have to offer and are ready to experience something better,” said Edward Perez, the company’s vice president of marketing and sales operations. “We believe the $150 activation credit combined with the great deals on our Android-powered smartphones and the unmatched benefits of The Belief Project will make it hard to resist giving U.S. Cellular a try.”
If you’re looking to jump to U.S. Cellular, or add a friend/family member to your current plan, now looks to be a pretty good time to do it. The press release is waiting for you after the break. Any takers? More →
Typically, the word “shrinkage” isn’t a good thing, however… if you’re a wireless provider it could actually be a selling point. Today, Sprint announced a new program known as “Monthly Unlimited with Shrinkage” for its Boost Mobile prepaid customers. As Boost’s website explains:
Boost will lower your monthly payment by $5 for every 6 on-time payments. Monthly Unlimited with Shrinkage customers can shrink their monthly payments from $50 to as low as $35/month. BlackBerry Monthly Unlimited with Shrinkage customers can lower their monthly payments from $60 to as low as $45/month.
The idea seems pretty ingenious, trying to retain budget conscious consumers using value-based incentives. The offering is available for both new and existing customers and all that is required is an on-time payment. Hit the read link to check out the potential savings. More →
The House of Representatives defeated the digital TV delay bill with a 258-168 vote that failed to secure the two thirds needed for passage. The vote closely followed party lines with 155 Republicans voting against the bill and 22 Republicans voting for it. Amongst House Democrats, 236 voted for the bill and a mere 13 voted against it. The defeat signaled a win for House republicans who have opposed the delay, claiming the four month delay would further confuse consumers, cause an unnecessary delay for companies and public safety agencies waiting for the spectrum to be released and burden TV companies with the additional cost of broadcasting both analog and digital signals during the four month delay. The defeat is a setback for the Obama administration and congressional democrats who believe that the current resources to assist people in the digital TV transition are in a state of disarray and are concerned that the public, particularly poor, rural and low-income Americans, will not be adequately prepared when the analog air waves are turned off on February 17th. The Obama administration and congressional democrats still claim to be exploring all options to secure another vote on this issue.