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27 Jun

Senators Claim AT&T-Time Warner Merger Will Result In High Price And Low Selection

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AT&T-Time Warner Merger

Recently, a few Senators sent a letter to the Attorney General Jeff Sessions that highlighted their objection to the proposed acquisition of Time Warner® by AT&T®. The group of Senators urged the Attorney General to reject the merger if it harms the users. In the letter, 10 Democrats and an independent Senator asked the Department of Justice to closely look at the ways by which the $108.7 billion deal would increase charges for the customers and lower their access to entertainment, news content, and best internet services.

“We have strong concerns that the combined company’s unmatched control of popular content and the distribution of that content will lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans — substantial harms that cannot be remedied with unreliable, unenforceable, and time-limited behavioral conditions,” they wrote.

Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) signed the letter.

AT&T® announced their plans to buy Time Warner® in October last year. If approved, the deal between AT&T® and Time Warner® would connect one of the top entertainment providers with the largest pay TV and fastest internet provider of the country. Time Warner® owns many entertainment brands like Warner Bros®, HBO®, TNT®, TBS® and CNN®.

The merger is pending regulatory approval and the Justice Department has the power to block the deal, approve it, or approve with conditions. AT&T® came forward with the deal so they do not have to get the broadcast licenses and will not be subject to the FCC review. However, it is not clear when the DOJ will provide their review. CEO of AT&T®, Randall Stephenson had said in April that the deal would go through by the end of the year.

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High Price And Low Selection

During the election campaign of President Donald Trump, he assured to block the deal and described it as “an example of the power structure I’m fighting.” However, since he took the Oval Office, the President was able to see only merger-friendly advisers. The President’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General for antitrust in the Justice Department is Makan Delrahim and he seems to favor the hand off regulatory.

The Senators said in the letter that AT&T® has not said how the merger would be beneficial for the subscribers. Instead, they said that their merger would limit competition and offer them reasons to limit content access or offer priority to their content over that of the others.

Stephenson had called the deal “pro-competitive and pro-consumer” at a Senate hearing in December. He added that AT&T® would “not withhold content to disadvantage someone else.”

22 Jun

AT&T® And GE Aviation Join Hands To Improve Aircraft Health Monitoring

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Improved Aircraft Health Monitoring

AT&T® Internet of Things (IoT) and GE Aviation recently announced that they have joined hands to together connect the off board and onboard parts of Aircraft Health and Trend Monitoring System (AHTMS) – powered PlaneConnect HTM systems that are used on the Gulfstream G500, G650, G600, and G650 ER jets. The companies made the announcement in the recently conducted Paris Air Show.

Experts say that the AHTMS collects the performance data of the aircraft to help find the issues before they occur. The system also helps in troubleshooting difficult to find issues with the aircraft. When an aircraft connected with the system lands, the AT&T® Global SIM and the AT&T® Control Center connects to AHTMS. If the user is okay, Gulfstream Technical Operations will be able to have access to the data to improve their Product Support. If the users choose to go with the improved support, the system will be able to:

  • Activate fleet wide comparison and issues as they arise;
  • Help and support the specialists by allowing data queries;
  • Send time stamped data to a web portal of MyGulfstream that is dedicated to the particular aircraft;
  • Provide transient issue visibility offering resolutions to the most difficult of the issues to solve; and
  • Offer data to each of the operator in an organized and prioritized way. The data offered include aircraft usage data, pressure readings, fuel consumption, and operations details.
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AT&T® Control Center

“Our focus is to help our customers and the overall industry to be more efficient,” said Darin DiTommaso, who is the VP for Digital Services and Solutions at GE Aviation. “This system improves an already great track record at Gulfstream. The beautiful part about the system is that it will continue to grow and respond as the needs of each fleet change throughout their lifecycle.”

GE Aviation makes use of AT&T® Control Center to ensure coverage across the globe of these mobile assets. They make use of secure connection and custom MPLS/VPN of the fastest internet provider to offer a very high degree of control and secure connection to the network. Experts said that the data that is transferred from the aircraft to Gulfstream Operators and Gulfstream Technical Operations would be highly secure and encrypted.

“IoT solutions have the potential to significantly transform the operational efficiency of nearly any industry,” said Chris Penrose, President of IoT Solutions at AT&T®. “It’s exciting to see that our solution with GE Aviation is giving them actionable insights into the performance and health of their planes.”

19 Jun

Word Network Files Complaint Against Comcast®

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Complaint Against Comcast®

The ongoing spat between Comcast® Corp. and Word Network has gained the attention of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently. In a complaint that was written to FCC by the Word Network, they said that Comcast Corporation® has hurt the African American ministry channel, as they dropped the channel from about seven million households in the United States. In addition, the complaint also says that Comcast® has tried to get the digital rights of Word Network in negotiations that took place in 2016.

The complaint claims that the action of Comcast® against the Word Network has clearly violated the agreement which was signed by Comcast® with FCC in 2011, as per which, they acquired the NBCUniversal entertainment. The complaint’s legal base is that Comcast® has discriminated the Word Network by treating them less favorably than the NBCUniversal channels that are owned by Comcast Corporation®. Word Network is considered as an independent programmer and Comcast® does not own it.

In the month of January, Comcast® had cut the distribution of Word Network channels to just five million US homes from twelve million. One of the cities that lost access to the Word Network was Philadelphia and Comcast® replaced the Word Network with another black ministry channel, the Impact Network.

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Digital Rights Of Word Network

Comcast® rejected all the discrimination claims of Word Network and denied that they have sought the digital rights of the network improperly. “The claims by the Word Network are baseless, and we hope the FCC will agree,” Comcast® spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice said in a statement. “Comcast is broadly distributing Impact, an independent, African American-owned service, in which Comcast® has no ownership. Comcast still carries the Word Network, which is not African American-owned, to millions of our customers. The distribution decisions for these two networks are based on our reasonable business judgment.”

Many protestors traveled from Michigan by bus over the winter to picket the headquarters of Comcast Corporation® that is located in Philadelphia for their decision on the Word Network that is located in Southfield, Michigan. Some reports say that many of these picketers were paid by churches to take part in the protest.

12 Jun

Senators Claim That AT&T® Used Forced Arbitration For Overcharging Subscribers

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Forced Arbitration Clauses

Reports from several reliable sources indicate that five Democratic US senators claimed that the usage of forced arbitration clauses by the telecom company, AT&T® has allowed them to charge higher prices than the ones they normally advertise to their subscribers. The US senators highlighted a CBS News investigation, which described that “more than 4,000 complaints against AT&T® and [subsidiary] DirecTV® related to deals, promotions and overcharging in the past two years.”

According to Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), most of the AT&T® subscribers have shown little remorse, as they are currently being forced to settle disputes with the telecom giant. The senators wrote a letter to the CEO of AT&T®, Randall Stephenson, in which they said, “Forced arbitration provisions in telecommunications contracts erode Americans’ right for seeking justice in the federal courts by urging the individuals into a privatized system, which is inherently biased in the favor of internet providers like AT&T®.” They also added that the privatized system provides virtually no way for challenging a biased outcome.

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Leading Telecom Company

“Forced arbitration requires consumers to sign away their constitutional right to hold providers accountable in court just to access modern-day essentials like mobile phone, Internet, and pay-TV services,” the letter added. The senators also stated that the forced arbitration provisions of the telecom company also “includes a class action waiver; language which strips consumers of the right to band together with other consumers to challenge a provider’s widespread wrongdoing.”

The senators further said that they are “particularly concerned about AT&T’s treatment of customer complaints alleging that the company charged a higher rate for services than initially offered in a deal or promotion.” On the other hand, the officials from AT&T® reacted to the issue by arguing that the arbitration is actually a lot more better for their customers when compared to courts of law.

In reply to that, the senators said, “Only 18 out of AT&T’s nearly 150 million subscribers sought accountability for these or other issues through individual, forced arbitration proceedings.” The senators also asked for information on how many complaints the telecom company has received on breaches of promotions, deals, and offers, in the last two years. However, we still have to wait for AT&T’s detailed take on the issue.

06 Jun

Is There A Difference Between AT&T® And Cox® Broadband?

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Fiber Cable Networks

AT&T® offers broadband internet to thousands of households and individual consumers in the United States. The telecom conglomerate offers the triple play plans, which bundle home phone with internet and satellite TV. The broadband is transmitted via relayed fiber cable networks. The networks stretch the AT&T® broadband to households via telephone, Ethernet, or coaxial cable.

In fact, AT&T® also gives the Fiber-To-The-Home internet in select American states. It can be said that AT&T® is the fastest internet provider in the US, as they offer the best internet connection to most parts of the country. Come to think of it, Cox Communications® is another which delivers broadband via hybrid fiber coaxial network.

Coaxial Cable Transmits Cox® Broadband

Cox® internet transmits data through gen-next fiber optic cables. The coaxial cable diverts a particular fiber cable network in a neighborhood to the households nearby. In fact, a Cox® network may serve more than 2000 households in a region. The coaxial cable transmits the broadband data too at high speeds.

Choosing Between Household Needs

The broadband subscribers have plenty to consider when choosing between the two fastest internet providers in the US. Both the AT&T® DSL network and Cox® coaxial network offers similar speed and rates. The choice of selecting between the two is left to the broadband needs of a household and their data usage.

Features Of AT&T® Broadband Plans:

  • $40 to $80 a month
  • 18 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (download)
  • 5 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps (upload)

Features Of Cox® Broadband Internet:

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    Gen-Next Fiber Optic Cables

    $39.99 to $84.99 a month

  • 10 Mbps to 300 Mbps (download)
  • 0 Mbps to 30 Mbps (upload)

*The data sheet is as on February 2017.

The internet plans by the telecom giants are priced differently, and where the maximum broadband speed by AT&T® is 1000 Mbps, Cox® provides 300 Mbps only. There are separate data caps as well for the both, which can be verified at the time of broadband set up. Further, the subscribers get to choose wireless, satellite TV, and home phone internet as a triple play bundle in AT&T®.

06 Jun

AT&T® To Acquire Vyatta Operating System For Expanding Its Virtual Networks

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Vyatta Operating System

AT&T®, the fastest internet provider in the country, has declared that it will acquire the Vyatta network operating system and other products from Brocade. This is done on behalf of expanding its virtual networks and operations. Brocade had emerged as a major player in the area of network virtualization before Broadcom announced its plan for acquiring the company as a part of a multi-billion dollar deal.

AT&T® has made plans that it will finalize the deal for acquiring Brocade’s software-defined networking (SDN) products and research plans prior to Broadcom’s closing of the $9.5 billion acquirements of Brocade. Besides Verizon®, AT&T® is the other major carrier that has come up with several long-term projects intended for creating wider virtual network environments. Previously, the carrier has relied on specialized equipment provided by Telco giants.

However, they have abandoned the strategy and are now relying on software-based methods for managing the network. This will aid in increasing the flexibility, cutting down costs, and quicker provision of the best internet services to the customers. For this purpose, AT&T® has made extensive plans that include transforming about 55 percent of the network into software controlled by the end of this year. By 2020, the company expects to increase the software-based networking by about 75 percent.

AT&T® Labs President and CTO, Andre Fuetsch said, “Our network transformation effort lets us add new features quicker than ever before at a much lower cost. Being able to design and build the tools we need to enable that transformation is a win for us and for our customers.”

Network virtualization offers immense possibilities in building and managing networks in a more effective and affordable manner than the conventional methods. It includes SDN and Virtual-Network Functions (VNFs) that shifts the control and management of the various networking processes from the hardware to software.

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Multi-Billion Dollar Deal

SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN) is quickly growing, which is particularly intended for educational institutions and remote wire-area networks. AT&T’s acquiring of the Vyatta OS from Brocade includes all of its Virtual-Network Functions (VNFs), vRouter products, and a distributed services platform. In addition, the will also purchase developing software, existing software licenses, patents, and applications.

With this acquiring, AT&T® will maintain many of the employees of Brocade in California and the UK. Previously, AT&T® has also entered into collaboration with VeloCloud, a major SD-WAN technology provider for building an SD-WAN center.

05 Jun

Comcast® Begins Gigabit Internet Service In Houston

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Gigabit Internet Service

Comcast Corporation®, the fastest internet provider in the US, has recently started offering ultra high-speed gigabit internet service in Houston area and other cities. The move comes amidst of the increasing competition among other major internet providers in offering high-speed internet connectivity to all the regions of the country.

The company is using its latest residential service that provides lightning fast service up to 1 gigabit per second speeds through the DOCSIS 3.1 technology. Moreover, this high-speed internet connectivity is also owed to the already existing networking infrastructure deployed by Comcast® across the whole of the country.

For accessing this service, the residents in Houston and other major cities require the use of the latest cable modem that comes with DOCSIS 3.1 compatibility. This will be levied a fee of $159.99 exclusive of the contract. In addition, Comcast® has proclaimed that the service is made available in other cities that include Portland, San Francisco Bay Area, Colorado, Portland, and Kansas City.

In the Houston region, the high-speed internet service is initially made available to the business customers. The company declared that is in the last phases of expanding the service to residential customers.

Comcast® is also testing a promotional pricing of $109.99 per month. For the existing Xfinity® customers, an additional $50 or $70 per month must be paid for adding the 1-gigabit service to their current subscription bundle. In a press release, Ralph Martinez, senior vice president of Comcast’s Houston region, said, “We realize technological innovations are occurring rapidly, and our customers need the speed to make the most of them.”

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Existing Networking Infrastructure

The new service utilizes the latest networking technologies unlike the previous internet offering by the company and is transmitted through cables. With this new service, Comcast® has entered into the highly competitive market of internet providers across the country. In 2015, Comcast® launched its fiber connections to residential customers in The Groves, a master-planned community in the area. The company also expects to expand this fiber service into another newly planned community, Balmoral by Land Tejas Cos.

Besides Comcast®, AT&T® is the other major internet provider that is engaged in strict competition for claiming the internet connectivity business in the Houston region. In 2015, AT&T® launched its 1 Gbps internet offering in the area, and gradually expanded the connectivity among major suburbs. With the latest offering by Comcast®, users get to choose who the fastest internet provider in Houston is.

01 Jun

AT&T® Collaborates With California Institute Of Technology To Develop Quantum Networking

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Developing Quantum Networking

AT&T’s Foundry Innovation Center, the company’s technological development wing, has proposed a new collaboration with the California Institute of Technology for developing quantum-networking technologies. Both the institutions have come up together to form the Alliance of Quantum Technologies (AQT) that aims to bring together various industries, government, and the academic community for developing quantum technology and its practical applications.

Reports say that this new collaboration will also consist of a new research and development initiative known as Intelligent Quantum Networks and Technologies (INQNET). Its sole focus is for developing the necessary security and capacity for future quantum networking technologies.

Quantum networking represents the future of computing and internet communications that will bring forth innovations such as super fast and secure internet networks. AT&T®, which is the fastest internet provider in the US, will also aid in carrying out trials and testing for such technologies for many commercial applications.

Quantum computers will eliminate all the existing physical hardware peripherals like keyboard, mouse, etc., and instead, come up with more advanced solutions. This includes the use of cryogenic technology for cooling, laser optics, improved solid state, and atomic devices.

Igal Elbaz, vice president of ecosystem and innovation at AT&T®, said that, “Quantum computing and networking holds the potential to radically transform how we connect as a society. It will make the impossible possible, as the internet once did. The AT&T® Foundry was founded to advance new products and services through innovation and collaboration. It’s the ideal place for this work as quantum technologies become a rapidly developing field in industrial research.”

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Intelligent Quantum Networks and Technologies

By using quantum-networking technologies, AT&T® aims at connecting quantum computers and devices through ultra fast and highly secure networks that enable best internet speeds throughout the country. The principles of this new technology involve the application of some of the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics for the purpose of data processing and transfer.

AT&T® has indicated that such technologies require extensive testing and trials in the controlled laboratory environments before deploying in the real world. “With quantum technologies and quantum engineering we’re experiencing a revolution in the applied fundamental,” Maria Spiropulu, Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology said. “It is quite thrilling to accelerate the progress by integrating systems and ongoing R&D and especially by bringing together the experts. The spirit of innovation and collaboration at the AT&T® Foundry is the culture we hope permeates throughout this endeavor. I expect the catalysis effect on science and technology to be analogous.”

26 May

AT&T® CEO Thinks 60-Minute Episodes Might Be Too Long For Mobile Devices

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Sitcom-Length Episodes

TV shows are actually shaped by the format of their TV network programming. The length of some of the TV series is half-an-hour while the length of other TV shows is one hour and it is being aired by the networks with or without commercial breaks, as per they wish. However, more and more American citizens have started to watch their favorite TV shows through tablets and smartphones. At the same time, more and more TV companies have become closely intertwined with mobile carriers over the last few years. The CEO of AT&T®, Randall Stephenson, recently shared his view on the same subject.

Stephenson said that the premium content, which us unique for a mobile environment, would help telecom companies attract more customers to their offerings. Reports indicate that AT&T® will be able to earn more profit through this way since they are planning a merger with the massive media grant,

“It will cause [Richard] Plepler at HBO to panic when I say this, but can you begin to think about things like Game of Thrones as an example, where in a mobile environment a 60-minute episode may not be the best experience, should you think about 20-minute episodes?” Stephenson said.

In addition to that, he also clarified that even though Time Warner-owned HBO will be tied to the telecom company after the proposed merger, “You can’t think about taking Game of Thrones and [only making] it available to AT&T customers, that’s crazy.” Stephenson also said, if you “do things uniquely with Game of Thrones for your mobile environment, where you have the ability to innovate faster and if the fast innovation creates a unique experience in your environment, you’re probably going to want to make that available later to other providers as well.”

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Trending TV Shows

Reports indicate that the close connection between media companies and mobile distribution channels will eventually offer something like this in the near future. However, it is hard to imagine such a fan-favorite TV series like Game of Thrones being cut down into sitcom-length episodes.

The attractive packages offered by AT&T® have enabled the telecom giant to acquire some more customers to their offerings recently. In addition to that, it has also benefited several wireless customers in the United States to acquire of some of the best and cheap internet deals.

22 May

AT&T® Expands Internet Capability To Jasper County

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Expanding Internet Capability

In the middle of many allegations, AT&T® has announced that selected rural areas in the Jasper County will now be able to access high-speed internet service via AT&T’s Fixed Wireless service. It is reported that Jasper County is one of the first locations in the United States where the fastest internet provider is offering their service.

In the announcement, AT&T® said that they have finished the first wave of fixed wireless internet availability for many of the underserved and rural areas in Georgia, as part of the FCC Connect America Fund commitment to offer the service to more than 400,000 locations by 2017 end and 1.1 million locations by the end of 2020.

“It is essential that we continue to work to bring greater access to high-speed Internet to rural Georgians, and this announcement today, marks a positive step in that direction,” said State Representative Susan Holmes. “I am glad to see the innovative approach by private industry to help close the remaining connectivity gap.”

“I am thrilled to see Jasper County residents among the first in the nation to be able to connect to this service and have the high-speed Internet connections that we need in our homes,” said State Senator Burt Jones. “While private industry is investing heavily in our state, we need to make certain that rural communities are not left behind, and I will continue working with the private sector to extend the high-speed connectivity that Georgians want.”

“The more than 19,000 men and women who work for AT&T and call Georgia home, are working every day to turn our investments into the high-speed connectivity that Georgia’s residents and businesses demand,” said Bill Leahy, president of AT&T® Georgia. “Through this innovative service, we are further closing the remaining connectivity gap in rural Georgia.”

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Fixed Wireless service

The fixed wireless internet from AT&T® offers their best internet service to homes with download speeds of minimum 10 Mbps. The wireless connection comes from a remote tower to an antenna that is fixed at the home of the subscriber. This is a very cost effective way to offer high-speed and high-quality internet to subscribers living in the underserved rural areas.

“Access to the internet is an important tool for advancing opportunities in communities. It creates economic growth, helps increase community engagement and makes education accessible,” said Eric Boyer, senior vice president of Wireless and Wired Product Marketing at AT&T®. “We’re committed to utilizing available technologies to connect hard-to-reach locations.”

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