AT&T accused of overcharging iPhone, iPad users for cellular data in latest lawsuit [Updated]

By on May 20, 2011 at 12:23 PM.

AT&T accused of overcharging iPhone, iPad users for cellular data in latest lawsuit [Updated]

An MSNBC investigative report, and related lawsuit, claims that AT&T has “systematically overstated” the data usage of iPhone and iPad customers. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, seeking class action status, hired an independent computer firm to compare the actual amount data used by iPhone and iPad customers with the amount that AT&T bills users for. “Did you find overcharges on every single transaction,” asked MSNBC’s Lisa Myers, speaking with the investigating firm’s representative. “Yes, every single one,” he responded. “Did you ever find an instance where the discrepancy worked to the benefit of the customer,” poses Myers as a follow-up question. “Never,” quipped the representative. “Always an overcharge; never an undercharge.” The study alleges that AT&T overstates customer data usage by 7% to 14% and, in some rarer cases, by up to 300%. To illustrate its point, the firm bought a new AT&T iPhone and line of service, “disabled everything that might trigger data usage,” and let the phone sit untouched for ten days. During that time period, thirty-five different data charges appeared on the virgin phone’s bill. AT&T responded to the report saying that the claims are “without merit” and that applications may auto-update or refresh in the background without a consumer’s knowledge or consent. Whatever the reasoning is for the purported up-charging, we’re sure this isn’t the last you’re going to hear about this one. A video clip of MSNBC’s report is waiting for you after the break.

UPDATE: An official statement from an AT&T spokesperson is after the break. More →

96 Comments

AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition to receive in-depth Department of Justice investigation

By on May 3, 2011 at 3:59 PM.

AT&T’s T-Mobile acquisition to receive in-depth Department of Justice investigation

The Department of Justice will perform an “in-depth” investigation of AT&T’s proposition to acquire T-Mobile USA, Reuters is reporting. Such an investigation comes as no surprise, as one FCC official assured the public on April 14th that the acquisition would get a thorough review from government antitrust and communications officials. Bloomberg says that the DoJ can issue a decision in as little as 30 days, however, a “second request,” could mean that the investigation will take longer. AT&T announced its plan to purchase T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion on March 20th. Despite Sprint’s claims that the acquisition will stifle competition in the U.S. wireless market, AT&T has argued that the deal will fuel economic growth and create new jobs. More →

39 Comments

AT&T's T-Mobile acquisiton to get thorough review, FCC official says

By on April 14, 2011 at 12:27 PM.

AT&T's T-Mobile acquisiton to get thorough review, FCC official says

AT&T’s plans to purchase Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile USA will get a thorough examination from government agencies, including antitrust and communications investigators, an FCC aide affirmed on Thursday. AT&T proposed the $39 billion deal on March 20th and a company spokesperson told Bloomberg that Ma Bell plans to file its official application to the Federal Communications Commission “around April 21st.” Once the application has been submitted, the FCC reportedly has 180 days to grant approval. However, one FCC employee told Bloomberg that the FCC isn’t always limited to 180 days, so it could take a bit longer before a final decision is released. The deal has been openly opposed by Sprint, which claimed the transaction would “harm consumers and harm competition at a time when this country can least afford it,” and one anonymous FCC official has said “there’s no way the chairman’s office [will] rubber-stamp” the deal. AT&T’s CEO Randall L. Stephenson sees things differently. On March 30th he said the acquisition will immediately improve reliability for AT&T customers, and argued that there’s plenty of wireless competition in the United States that will continue to help push prices down for consumers. More →

25 Comments

FTC may investigate Google in antitrust case

By on April 6, 2011 at 6:45 AM.

FTC may investigate Google in antitrust case

Google’s plan to acquire ITA Software may result in an antitrust probe by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), two sources speaking to Bloomberg said Tuesday. The FTC is currently waiting for the Justice Department to render a decision on whether or not the acquisition will stifle competition among firms competing for clicks in the travel search engine market. Both the FTC and the Justice Department are capable of executing an antitrust investigation, and some pundits believe the scale of this probe could match that of the Justice Department’s antitrust investigation of Microsoft during the 1990’s. The search engine giant “could fight the FTC, but that’s going to cost a lot of money and time,” Keith Hylton, an antitrust law professor at Boston University School of Law told Bloomberg. Google also faces an antitrust probes abroad. On March 31st Microsoft filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission in regards to Google’s search operations and practices in the European Union, alleging that Google has made it harder for other firms to compete in the search market there. Google announced that it had plans to acquire ITA Software, a firm that helps airlines manage flight times and sell tickets at the best prices, in July of 2010. Google hopes to use the acquisition to create new flight search tools that will allow consumers to find better flight options and prices. More →

8 Comments

Huawei asks for government investigation; wants to sell telecom equipment in U.S.

By on February 25, 2011 at 4:44 AM.

Huawei asks for government investigation; wants to sell telecom equipment in U.S.

Looking to assuage the previously expressed concerns of some lawmakers, Chinese telecom juggernaut Huawei is asking for a formal U.S. government investigation into its businesses. Huawei is looking to sell its equipment to United States companies, but has been met by heavy political headwinds. Our company is asking for this investigation “in an effort to reach a clear and accurate conclusion,” writes Huawei.

“Efforts to do business in the United States in the past 10 years had been hurt by misperceptions,” reports Reuters. This includes “unproven claims of ‘close connections with the Chinese military.'”

Huawei made the request this week via an open letter on its website. The coalition of lawmakers who have opposed the company’s entrance into the U.S. market place have yet to issue a statement. More →

21 Comments

FCC calls for Verizon probe into thousands of dropped 9-1-1 calls

By on February 22, 2011 at 11:40 PM.

FCC calls for Verizon probe into thousands of dropped 9-1-1 calls

In a letter sent last Thursday to the nation’s top wireless carrier, the Federal Communications Commission is calling for an investigation into thousands of dropped emergency calls placed during a blizzard in late January. Approximately 10,000 emergency 9-1-1 calls placed on the Verizon Wireless network in Maryland were dropped, the FCC says. The calls were made on January 26th during a major snowstorm. “The large number of missed 9-1-1 calls on January 26 is truly alarming,” FCC public safety and security chief James Arden Barnett wrote in the letter. “I therefore request that Verizon provide an explanation of the causes of this and similar failures, provide Verizon’s assessment of the possibility of occurrence in other locations and describe what actions Verizon is taking to prevent recurrence of these problems.” The FCC is calling for a written response to its inquiry, along with a meeting within two weeks to discuss Verizon’s resolution of the issue. More →

46 Comments

Windows Phone 7 data hog bug identified by Microsoft; fix in the works

By on January 19, 2011 at 4:02 PM.

Windows Phone 7 data hog bug identified by Microsoft; fix in the works

Last week, BGR reported on a bug within the Windows Phone 7 operating system that resulted in superfluous data being uploaded over 3G networks. The bug was causing some Windows Phone owners to quickly reach or surpass their monthly data allotments. According to a statement from a Microsoft spokesperson, the company believes it has identified the cause of the issue in most or all cases.

We have determined that a third-party solution commonly accessed from Windows Phones is configured in a manner that potentially cause larger than expected data downloads. We are in contact with the third party to assist them in making the necessary fixes, and are also pursuing potential workarounds to address the configuration issue in case those are needed. At this point in our investigation, we believe this is responsible for most of the reported incidents.

We are investigating additional potential root causes for the remainder of the reports.

A small (low single-digit) percentage of Windows Phone customers have reported being affected.

We are continuing to investigate this issue and will update with additional information and guidance as it becomes available.

Unfortunately, Microsoft has not yet put a timeline on a potential solution it claims to be developing. It also failed to identify the “third-party solution” responsible for the bug. Finally, Microsoft has not yet said what it intends to do for users who may be exceeding their data caps and incurring fees as a result of the bug. More →

19 Comments

Microsoft investigates superfluous data transmissions in Windows Phone 7

By on January 10, 2011 at 9:34 PM.

Microsoft investigates superfluous data transmissions in Windows Phone 7

Following several reports of Windows Phone 7 devices sporadically transmitting “huge chunks” of seemingly superfluous data via 3G, Microsoft told the BBC that it is investigating the matter. The reports originated on a Windows enthusiast site where a reader claimed her phone was sending a large amount of data unbeknownst to her. She discovered the issue when she received an email alert from AT&T stating that her data usage was nearing its monthly limit. Several other Windows Phone 7 users mirrored the claims after examining their own data usage. Upon learning of the apparent bug, Microsoft confirmed that it is working on a fix. “We are investigating this issue to determine the root cause and will update with information and guidance as it becomes available,” a Microsoft spokesperson told the BBC. More →

12 Comments

EU to investigate Google for anticompetitive advertising practices

By on November 30, 2010 at 7:11 AM.

EU to investigate Google for anticompetitive advertising practices

Bloomberg is reporting that European Union antitrust regulators are preparing to launch an investigation aimed at concluding whether or not search giant Google “imposes exclusivity obligations on advertising partners.” Several companies, including Microsoft, are claiming that Google is preventing said partner-sites from placing ads for “competing services” on their websites. Foundem, a U.K. based price-comparison site, said Google was “stifling innovation” and that the company “should not be allowed to discriminate in favor of its own services.” In a written statement, Google explained: “There’s always going to be room for improvement and so we’ll be working with the commission to address any concerns.” The European Commission can levy fines of up to 10% of a company’s revenue for monopolistic practices. More →

13 Comments

Eight U.S. senators call for investigation of Huawei equipment sale to Sprint

By on August 19, 2010 at 3:37 PM.

Eight U.S. senators call for investigation of Huawei equipment sale to Sprint

The Washington Post is reporting that eight Republican U.S. senators are trying to block the sale of telecommunications equipment from Chinese manufacturer Huawei to U.S. wireless provider Sprint Nextel. The group, led by Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, is asking the Obama administration to investigate if the country’s national security will be compromised by the equipment. In a statement, the group said, “A Chinese company with such a leading role in Iran’s economy and close relationship with the IRGC should not be able to do business in the U.S.” Pretty interesting language out of a group that heralds the wonders of the “free market.” The senators also note that Huawei sells equipment to the Chinese Military, Afghanistan, and Iraq. “At worst, Huawei’s becoming a major supplier of Sprint Nextel could present a case of a company, acting at the direction of and funded by the Chinese military, taking a critical place in the supply chain of the U.S. military, law enforcement and private sector,” said the eight senators. You get the idea… what do you think? Is Huawei equipment in the U.S. a national security risk or is this just more political gamesmanship?

Thanks, Q! More →

122 Comments

Samsung investigates high cancer rates at chipmaking plants

By on April 15, 2010 at 9:04 AM.

Samsung investigates high cancer rates at chipmaking plants

samsung-logo

Samsung, the world’s largest manufacturer of flash memory chips, announced today it is launching an independent investigation into high rates of cancer amongst its employees. From 1998 to 2010, some 22 employees who assembled flash memory chips were diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma, with 10 of the workers eventually succumbing to the disease. An investigation led by the South Korean government ultimately concluded in 2008 that the various chemicals used in the manufacturing of the chips were not to blame, but continued protests over the objectivity of the findings have forced Samsung’s hands. For its part, Samsung admits it should have done a better job calming fears that its workers are exposed to carcinogens, but vowed to “do our best to improve the working environment and better communicate from now on.” All workers who assembled the chips were required to wear an assortment of safety paraphernalia. More →

10 Comments

FCC unsatisfied and troubled by Verizon Wireless' response regarding its ETF and $1.99 phantom data fee

By on December 25, 2009 at 9:31 AM.

FCC unsatisfied and troubled by Verizon Wireless' response regarding its ETF and $1.99 phantom data fee

verizon-logo

In a scathing one page response, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn cut Verizon Wireless to its knees by saying the answers the wireless carrier provided in response to the FCC’s investigation were “unsatisfying and, in some cases, troubling.” The commissioner chided Verizon for the fluctuating rationale behind its early termination fee, which has been expanded to include not only the cost of the device itself but operating and retail costs as well. She pointed out that high voice and data costs already subsidize these business costs and the fees levied, especially those at the end of a contract, are not in the public’s best interest. Clyburn further condemned Verizon by stating that she was “alarmed” by these $1.99 phantom data fees and that Verizon can not just bury its head in the sand and ignore this issue by saying it does not exist. The letter concludes with a stern reprimand reminding Verizon Wireless that they should be “focusing primarily on developing innovative products, maintaining affordable prices, and providing excellent customer service”. Hear that Big Red? Clyburn also promises to discuss this issue in greater depth with her colleagues next year. That water in which Verizon Wireless is standing just got a little bit hotter. More →

117 Comments

FCC opens investigation into Apple's rejection of Google Voice apps

By on July 31, 2009 at 8:37 PM.

FCC opens investigation into Apple's rejection of Google Voice apps

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FCC has begun investigating Apple’s rejection of Google’s official Google Voice application and the subsequent removal of similar third-party apps from the App Store. You know the story by now — Google submitted the app, it was rejected, third-party GV apps were then pulled, everyone was pissed, somehow heat was deflected on AT&T, AT&T called BS and so on. Well apparently the FCC has decided to step in. The WSJ reports that letters were sent from the FCC to Apple, AT&T and Google seeking information on the matter. Specifically, “the FCC asked why Apple rejected the Google Voice application for the iPhone and removed related applications from its App Store. The letter also seeks information on how AT&T, the exclusive U.S. iPhone carrier, was consulted in the decision, if at all.” The Journal claims to have obtained the letter that was sent to Apple, which you’ll find in its entirety after the jump. We truly hope that — if nothing else — the FCC manages to take Apple down a peg where its ridiculous app approval process is concerned. For the sake of developers’ sanity, if nothing else. Our favorite part of the letter:

What are the standards for considering and approving iPhone applications? What is the approval process for such applications (timing, reasons for rejection, appeal process, etc.)? What is the percentage of applications that are rejected? What are the major reasons for rejecting an application?

Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t love to see Apple’s responses to those questions? Priceless.

More →

72 Comments