AT&T

Mobile Phone Companies Appear To Be Selling Your Location To Almost Anyone (techcrunch.com) 145

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) 197

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.
AT&T

AT&T Uverse Modems Found To Have Several Serious Security Vulnerabilities (threatpost.com) 75

dustman81 writes: AT&T Uverse modems were found to have several serious vulnerabilities, including a superuser account with hardcoded username/password exposed to the internet via SSH, a HTTP server with little authentication which allows command injection, and an internet exposed service which exposes internal clients to external attacks. Information security consulting and software development firm Nomotion reports the findings in their blog: "It was found that the latest firmware update (9.2.2h0d83) for the NVG589 and NVG599 modems enabled SSH and contained hardcoded credentials which can be used to gain access to the modem's 'cshell' client over SSH. The cshell is a limited menu driven shell which is capable of viewing/changing the WiFi SSID/password, modifying the network setup, re-flashing the firmware from a file served by any tftp server on the internet, and even controlling what appears to be a kernel module whose sole purpose seems to be to inject advertisements into the user's unencrypted web traffic. Although no clear evidence was found suggesting that this module is actually being used currently, it is present, and vulnerable. Aside from the most dangerous items listed above, the cshell application is also capable of many other privileged actions. The username for this access is remotessh and the password is 5SaP9I26." The report continues to detail the other vulnerabilities: Default credentials 'caserver' https server NVG599; Command injection 'caserver' https server NVG599; Information disclosure/hardcoded credentials; and Firewall bypass no authentication.

Further reading: FierceTelecom; The Register

AT&T

AT&T's Slow 1.5Mbps Internet In Poor Neighborhoods Sparks Complaint To FCC (arstechnica.com) 213

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T is facing a complaint alleging that it discriminates against poor people by providing fast service in wealthier communities and speeds as low as 1.5Mbps in low-income neighborhoods. The formal complaint filed today with the Federal Communications Commission says that AT&T is violating the Communications Act's prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination. That ban is part of Title II, which is best known as the authority used by the FCC to impose net neutrality rules. But as we've explained before, Title II also contains important consumer protections that go beyond net neutrality, such as a ban on discrimination in rates, practices, and offerings of services.

"This complaint, brought by Joanne Elkins, Hattie Lanfair, and Rachelle Lee, three African-American, low-income residents of Cleveland, Ohio alleges that AT&T's offerings of high-speed broadband service violate the Communications Act's prohibition against unjust and unreasonable discrimination," the complaint says. AT&T is not immune to the ban on discrimination "merely because its discrimination is based on investment decisions," the complaint also says.

AT&T

Judge Dismisses AT&T's Attempt To Stall Google Fiber Construction In Louisville (arstechnica.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T has lost a court case in which it tried to stall construction by Google Fiber in Louisville, Kentucky. AT&T sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County in February 2016 to stop a One Touch Make Ready Ordinance designed to give Google Fiber and other new ISPs quicker access to utility poles. But yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge David Hale dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, saying AT&T's claims that the ordinance is invalid are false. "We are currently reviewing the decision and our next steps," AT&T said when contacted by Ars today. One Touch Make Ready rules let ISPs make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles themselves instead of having to wait for other providers like AT&T to send work crews to move their own wires. Without One Touch Make Ready rules, the pole attachment process can cause delays of months before new ISPs can install service to homes. Google Fiber has continued construction in Louisville despite the lawsuit and staff cuts that affected deployments in other cities.
Power

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Batteries Are Being Recalled For Overheating Risk (theverge.com) 77

According to The Verge, over 10,000 batteries for the Galaxy Note 4 are being recalled for risk of overheating that could lead to burns or fires. Given last year's Note 7 fiasco, this recall sure doesn't sound good. It is, however, far more limited than the Note 7 recall and doesn't appear to be Samsung's fault. The Verge reports: Only phones refurbished through AT&T's insurance program and handled by FedEx Supply Chain are impacted by the recall. Some of the refurbished phones apparently ended up with "counterfeit" batteries that include anomalies that could make them overheat. Fortunately, the Note 4 has a replaceable battery, so this recall isn't as big of a deal. Owners can just buy a new battery to use in their phone until the recall is taken care of. FedEx is currently sending out replacement batteries as well as boxes for returning the recalled phones. "FedEx Supply Chain is conducting this recall of non-genuine Samsung batteries as some of them are counterfeit," the spokesperson said. "The refurbishment program was managed by FedEx Supply Chain and operated independently of Samsung. Any affected owners should contact FedEx Supply Chain at 1-800-338-0163 or go online at www.exchangemybattery.com for more information." There's only been one report of a phone overheating and no damage to people or property because of it.
AT&T

Verizon, AT&T Customers Are Getting Slower Speeds Because of Unlimited Data Plans (recode.net) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Unlimited data plans are slowing down mobile speeds for Verizon and AT&T customers, according to data released today by mobile network measurement company OpenSignal. Verizon and AT&T reinstated their unlimited plans in February to compete with T-Mobile and Sprint, which have long offered unlimited data plans, and have since seen a deluge of demand. Greater data demand -- either more data usage or more customers -- means slower speeds. Think of it as increased traffic on a highway. Verizon and AT&T also have nearly double the subscribers of T-Mobile and Sprint, so changes in their offerings hit their networks harder. Both Verizon and AT&T saw a notable decline in speeds after introducing unlimited plans. T-Mobile and Sprint have been able to gradually account for the increase in data demand, so their speeds weren't negatively affected this year -- indeed, they both got faster since OpenSignal's February report. Verizon and T-Mobile were basically tied for speeds at the beginning of this year. Now, T-Mobile has taken the lead with an average LTE download speed of 17.5 Mbps, compared with Verizon's 14.9 Mbps. Here's a good comparison of the unlimited plans currently offered by the "Big 4" carriers.
Facebook

The Chiefs of Facebook, Google and Other Tech Giants Aren't Committing To Testify To the US Congress On Net Neutrality (recode.net) 46

Amazon, Facebook, Google and Netflix -- along with their telecom industry foes -- have not committed to sending their chief executives to testify before the U.S. Congress in September on the future of net neutrality. From a report: Not a single one of those companies told the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is convening the hearing, that they would send their leaders to Washington, D.C., in the coming weeks, even at a time when the Trump administration is preparing to kill the open internet rules currently on the government's books. The panel initially asked those four tech giants, as well as AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon, to indicate their plans for attendance by July 31. Now, the committee is pushing back its deadline indefinitely, as it continues its quest to engage the country's tech and telecom business leaders on net neutrality. "The committee has been engaging in productive conversations with all parties and will extend the deadline for response in order to allow for those discussions to continue," a spokesman said.
AT&T

AT&T Loses Record Number of Traditional TV Subscribers In Q2, Drops 156,000 DirecTV Satellite Customers (variety.com) 83

According to Variety, AT&T's pay-TV business has lost a record 351,000 traditional video customers in the second quarter, with the internet-delivered DirecTV Now service failing to fully offset the losses. From the report: In Q2, historically a seasonally weak period for the pay-TV business, DirecTV's U.S. satellite division lost 156,000 customers sequentially, dropping to 20.86 million, compared with a gain of 342,000 in the year-earlier quarter. AT&T's U-verse lost 195,000 subs in the quarter, which was actually an improvement over the 391,000 it lost in Q2 of 2016. AT&T touted that it gained 152,000 DirecTV Now customers in Q2, after adding just 72,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Overall, it had signed up 491,000 DirecTV Now subs as of the end of June, after the OTT service launched seven months ago.
The Internet

House Panel Wants Google, Facebook, AT&T CEOs To Testify On Internet Rules (reuters.com) 35

The chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday asked the chief executives of Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon.com, AT&T, Verizon Communications and other companies to testify at a Sept. 7 hearing on the future of net neutrality rules. From a report: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is considering tossing out 2015 Obama administration net neutrality rules that reclassified internet service like a public utility. The rules bar providers from blocking, slowing or offering paid prioritization of websites. Many internet providers want Congress to step in and write permanent rules. Other chief executives asked to testify include the heads of Comcast, Netflix and Charter. Some companies including Facebook said they were reviewing the letter but none immediately said if they will testify.
Democrats

Democrats Propose New Competition Laws That Would 'Break Up Big Companies If They're Hurting Consumers' (arstechnica.com) 332

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Senate and House Democratic leaders today proposed new antitrust laws that could prevent many of the biggest mergers and break up monopolies in broadband and other industries. "Right now our antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care," US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote in a New York Times opinion piece. "We are going to fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they're hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition." The "Better Deal" unveiled by Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was described in several documents that can be found in an Axios story. The plan for "cracking down on corporate monopolies" lists five industries that Democrats say are in particular need of change, specifically airlines, cable and telecom, the beer industry, food, and eyeglasses. The Democrats' plan for lowering the cost of prescription drugs is detailed in a separate document. The Democrats didn't single out any internet providers that they want broken up, but they did say they want to stop AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner: "Consolidation in the telecommunications is not just between cable or phone providers; increasingly, large firms are trying to buy up content providers. Currently, AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner. If AT&T succeeds in this deal, it will have more power to restrict the content access of its 135 million wireless and 25.5 million pay-TV subscribers. This will only enable the resulting behemoths to promote their own programming, unfairly discriminate against other distributors and their ability to offer highly desired content, and further restrict small businesses from successfully competing in the market."
Communications

Telecom Lobbyists Downplayed 'Theoretical' Security Flaws in Mobile Data Backbone (vice.com) 33

An anonymous reader shares a report: According to a confidential document obtained by Motherboard, wireless communications lobby group CTIA took issue with an in-depth report by the Department of Homeland Security on mobile device security, including flaws with the SS7 network. In a white paper sent to members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security, CTIA, a telecom lobbying group that represents Verizon, AT&T, and other wireless carriers, argued that "Congress and the Administration should reject the [DHS] Report's call for greater regulation" while downplaying "theoretical" security vulnerabilities in a mobile data network that hackers may be able to use to monitor phones across the globe, according to the confidential document obtained by Motherboard. However, experts strongly disagree about the threat these vulnerabilities pose, saying the flaws should be taken seriously before criminals exploit them. SS7, a network and protocol often used to route messages when a user is roaming outside their provider's coverage, is exploited by criminals and surveillance companies to track targets, intercept phone calls or sweep up text messages. In some cases, criminals have used SS7 attacks to obtain bank account two-factor authentication tokens, and last year, California Rep. Ted Lieu said that, for hackers, "the applications for this vulnerability are seemingly limitless."
Electronic Frontier Foundation

American ISPS Are Now Fighting State Broadband Privacy Proposals (eff.org) 74

The EFF complains that "the very companies who spent millions of dollars lobbying in D.C. to repeal our federal broadband privacy rights are now fighting state attempts to protect consumers because they supposedly prefer a federal rule." The EFF urges Californians to phone their state senator ahead of a crucial back-to-back committee hearings on Tuesday. An anonymous reader writes: "Congress stole your online privacy. Let's seize it back," begins an email that the EFF is sending to California supporters. It warns that "Big Telecom has massive amounts of money to spend on an army of lobbyists. But if Internet users from across California unite with one voice, we can defeat their misinformation campaign... Don't let the big ISPs coopt our privacy."

The EFF's site points out that more than 83% of Americans support the privacy regulations which were repealed in March by the U.S. Congress, according to a new poll released last week. That's even more than the 77% of Americans who support keeping current net neutrality protections in place, according to the same poll. The EFF now hopes that California's newly-proposed legislation could become a model for privacy-protecting laws in other states. And back in Silicon Valley, the San Jose Mercury News writes that California "has an obligation to take a lead in establishing the basic privacy rights of consumers using the Internet. Beyond being the right thing to do for the whole country, building trust in tech products is an essential long-term business strategy for the industry that was born in this region."

The EFF has also compiled an interesting list of past instances where ISPs have already tried to exploit the personal information of their customers for profit.
AT&T

Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T Want Congress To Make a Net Neutrality Law Because They Will Write It (theverge.com) 170

From a report on The Verge: Companies and organizations that rely on an open internet rallied on Wednesday for a "day of action" on net neutrality, and America's biggest internet service providers have responded with arrogance and contempt for their customers. Comcast's David Cohen called arguments in favor of FCC regulation "scare tactics" and "hysteria." Beyond the dismissive rhetoric, ISPs are coincidentally united today in calling for Congress to act -- and that's because they've paid handsomely to control what Congress does. There's one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, and that's taking money from ISPs. The telecommunications industry was the most powerful lobbying force of the 20th century, and that power endures. It's no secret that lobbyists in Washington write many of the laws, and the telecom industry spends a lot of money to make sure lawmakers use them. We've already seen net neutrality legislation written by the ISPs, and it's filled with loopholes. It's not just in Congress -- companies like AT&T have deep influence over local and state broadband laws, and write those policies, too. Some pro-net neutrality advocates are also arguing today that Congress should act, and there are some good reasons for that. Laws can be stickier than the judgements of regulatory agencies, and if you want to make net neutrality the law of the land that's a job for Congress. But there's a reason the ISPs are all saying the same thing, and it's because they're very confident they will defeat the interests of consumers and constituents. They've already done it this year under the Republican-controlled government. Further reading: 10M+ web users saw yesterday's net neutrality protest -- but rules are still getting scrapped.
Businesses

3 ISPs Have Spent $572 Million To Kill Net Neutrality Since 2008 (dslreports.com) 150

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: A study by Maplight indicates that for every one comment submitted to the FCC on net neutrality (and there have been roughly 5 million so far), the telecom industry has spent $100 in lobbying to crush the open internet. The group found that Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) have spent $572 million on attempts to influence the FCC and other government agencies since 2008. "The FCC's decision, slated to be announced later this summer, will be a clear indicator of the power of corporate cash in a Trump administration," notes the report. "Public sentiment is on the side of keeping the Obama administration's net neutrality policies, which prevented internet companies from blocking, slowing or giving priority to different websites." Congressional lobbying forms indicate that Comcast alone has spent nearly $4 million on lobbying Congress on net neutrality issues from the end of 2014 through the first quarter of 2017.
AT&T

AT&T Pretends To Love Net Neutrality, Joins Tomorrow's Protest With A Straight Face (techdirt.com) 68

Karl Bode, writing for TechDirt: You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger enemy of net neutrality than the fine folks at AT&T. The company has a history of all manner of anti-competitive assaults on the open and competitive internet, from blocking customer access to Apple FaceTime unless users subscribed to more expensive plans, to exempting its own content from arbitrary and unnecessary usage caps while penalizing streaming competitors. AT&T also played a starring role in ensuring the FCC's 2010 net neutrality rules were flimsy garbage, and sued to overturn the agency's tougher, 2015 rules. So it's with a combination of amusement and awe to see the company's top lobbying and policy head, Bob Quinn, pen a missive over at the AT&T website proudly proclaiming the company will be joining tomorrow's "day of action protest" in support of keeping the existing rules intact. According to Quinn, the company still opposes the FCC's popular 2015 consumer protections, but wanted to participate in the protest because that's just how much the sweethearts at AT&T adore the open internet.
Government

White House Could Use AT&T/Time Warner Deal As 'Leverage' Against CNN (arstechnica.com) 302

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Ars Technica: AT&T seems to be on track to close its purchase of Time Warner Inc., but President Donald Trump's hatred of Time Warner property CNN could still be a "wild card" in the deal. Trump's feud with CNN was described yesterday in a New York Times article titled "The Network Against the Leader of the Free World." Within that article is one tidbit that could affect AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner, which owns CNN and other media properties such as HBO and Turner Broadcasting System: "White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN's parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump's Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president's animus toward CNN remains a wild card."

Separately, The Daily Caller wrote today that Trump doesn't want the merger to be approved unless CNN President Jeff Zucker is fired. The conservative news website attributed the information to "a source familiar with President Trump's thinking." Zucker told the New York Times that the pending merger has not affected his journalistic or management decisions.

AT&T

Forced Arbitration Isn't 'Forced' Because No One Has To Buy Service, Says AT&T (arstechnica.com) 342

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T is denying that its contracts include "forced arbitration" clauses, even though customers must agree to the clauses in order to obtain Internet or TV service. "At the outset, no AT&T customer is ever 'forced' to agree to arbitration," AT&T Executive VP Tim McKone wrote in a letter to U.S. senators. "Customers accept their contracts with AT&T freely and voluntarily; no one 'forces' them to obtain AT&T wireless service, DirecTV programming, or other products and services." AT&T was responding to concerns raised by Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), who previously alleged that AT&T's use of forced arbitration clauses has helped the company charge higher prices than the ones it advertises to customers. While AT&T is correct that no one is forced to sign up for AT&T service, there are numerous areas of the country where AT&T is the only viable option for wired home Internet service. Even in wireless, where there's more competition, AT&T rivals Verizon and Sprint use mandatory arbitration clauses, so signing up with another carrier won't necessarily let customers avoid arbitration. One exception is T-Mobile, which offers a way to opt out of arbitration. The terms of service for AT&T Internet and DirecTV require customers to "agree to arbitrate all disputes and claims" against AT&T. Class actions and trials by jury are prohibited, although individual cases in small claims courts are allowed. AT&T doesn't offer any way to opt out of the arbitration/small claims provision, so the only other option is not buying service from AT&T.

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