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FCC wants more data on AT&T's new plan to pause its fiber rollout

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November 17, 2014

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson's intention to put on hold his company's plans to deploy high-speed fiber-optic lines throughout the United States has raised the Federal Communications Commission's curiosity in the project.

Specifically, Stephenson got on the FCC's radar with comments he made last week. The FCC on Friday sent a letter to AT&T seeking more information about the company's fiber deployment plans, including the current rollout, the breakdown of the technology used and both its former and current plans on the number of households it plans to reach.

Stephenson was supposed to make his announcement on Wednesday, a day after President Obama came out in support of tougher regulations that would treat broadband services like a utility.

"We can't go out and invest in that kind of network without knowing the rules governing the network," Stephenson said.

The FCC added it would explore all of its options, including Obama's preference for placing broadband services under "Title II" regulations, which would give governments a say in how Internet service providers could price their offerings.

Proponents of the initiative say Title II represents the best way to ensure Net neutrality, or unbiased handling of all Internet traffic by Internet service providers.

AT&T and other ISPs have argued that the additional regulations would hurt innovation and capital investment.

The comments and subsequent letter come as AT&T is attempting to get approval from the FCC on its $48.5 billion deal to acquire DirecTV.

The approval process at the FCC was already put on hold for a separate matter relating to consumer protection provisions.

The Dallas telecommunications giant said it would work with the FCC. "We are happy to respond to the questions posed by the FCC in its review of our merger with DirecTV," the company said in an emailed statement.

"As we made clear earlier this week, we remain committed to our DirecTV merger-related build-out plans."

AT&T had previously thought of deploying fiber-optic lines capable of achieving speeds of 1 gigabit per second to 100 cities in 2015.

But Stephenson said he would limit the deployment to 2 million additional homes that were committed as part of the DirecTV deal.

The GigaPower service is only in a few select cities, including Austin, Texas. In addition to its rollout plans, the FCC wanted to look at whether AT&T's investment plan in fiber is unprofitable; whether the 2 million homes it has committed to would be an unprofitable venture; and all documents related to those plans following the acquisition of DirecTV.

The FCC gave AT&T until November 21 to respond. We'll keep you posted on these and other developments.

The iPhone has gained its high level of popularity for a good reason. It’s simple, light and very easy to use.

Nevertheless, there are people who want to get rid of some restrictions set by Apple and break free into the world of unlimited mobile apps.

Those users do a simple step called Jailbreak, removing the limitations placed by Apple to change the iPhone software. Keep in mind that this is very different from phone unlocking.

The jailbreakers' frustration comes from the numerous possibilities that they have on the Mac, and also the many restrictions they have on the iPhone, such as when they can't change the default look or download programs that are not on the list in iOS App Store.

That’s why more and more people prefer to jailbreak their phones. In this article, we will list five pros and cons of jailbreaking your smartphone.

The 5 pros of jailbreaking your phone:

  • The first and most important reason is that it's literally your phone. You paid for it, that’s why you should be able to do whatever you want with it.
  • The second advantage is that you will have hundreds or even thousands more apps to install.
  • The third pro is that you will be able to download them from anywhere you want, not only from the Apple Store. It can be games, special apps, songs, videos, etc.
  • Fourth, you will be able to customize the look and feel of your smartphone to make it more personal, install your favorite music outside App Store, etc.
  • Last but not least, you will be able to block annoying spam messages or adverts in Safari and upgrade your keyboard at the same time.
  • You can do all of the above completely free of charge. Although the list of pros could be much longer, it is fair to write the cons as well.

    The 5 cons of jailbreaking your phone:

  • The first disadvantage is that this is an invalidation of your phone’s warranty since Apple will refuse helping you if something is broken. We strongly suggest performing a back-up of your data and contact information.

  • Then one big drawback and probably the worst are potential security issues. If what you install from the App Store is most likely to be tested and safe, jailbreaking will expose your phone to the high risk of catching a virus by downloading a new app.

  • Another big disadvantage is that if your iPhone is jailbroken, one can install a spying app on your phone and track all of the incoming and outgoing information. This action can reduce the capacity of your battery. While some people don’t seem to care much, others, especially travelers, can find it quite alarming.

  • Also, if you perform a jailbreak incorrectly, it can affect your phone in the most unpleasant manner. It can break the phone and turn it into a useless device.

  • Last but not least, if you are not sure how to do it correctly, ask someone else. If it's not done correctly, you will most likely live to regret it.
  • Remember that you already have a great phone, which works just right and a vast majority of users around the world are satisfied with it. And you should take that at full face value.

    Mrs. Grane is an IT specialist and a contributor to working women. Right now she is a part-time blog editor for parental control mobile monitoring service at

    In other mobile news

    After several weeks of talking about the new iPhones, attention has now turned to Apple's new payment solution dubbed Apple Pay.

    Some reports surfaced this week that some major retailers such as WalMart and Rite Aid are now blocking Apple's contactless payment system as they are preparing a competing product of their own.

    To be sure, Apple CEO Tim Cook addressed the issue during a talk at a Wall Street Journal conference. Video clips of the talk were broadcast online.

    Cook called the initial resistance from retailers a skirmish and went on to tout how quickly iPhone users are adopting Apple Pay.

    "In the first seventy-two hours we'd gone over the one million mark on activations of the new cards," Cook said. "If you sum up everyone that's in the contactless mobile payments at the point of sale, we're already number one."

    Apple also may be looking for a payments partner in China. According to Cook, Apple is targeting a potential wedding with Alibaba's AliPay.

    Cook added that Alibaba Group's Executive Chairman Jack Ma is exactly the kind of person that Apple likes to partner with.

    "I have the utmost respect for Jack," Cook said. "We love to partner with people that are smart, that have flexible teams and make great products."

    Cook's remarks come after a number of retailers began rejecting Apple Pay. Those retailers are part of a joint venture called the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCE), which is developing something called the Current C Platform.

    Current C is testing in limited locations around the U.S. with a full rollout expected by 2015. A press release from MCE states that Current C aims to simplify and expedite the customer checkout process by applying qualifying offers and coupons, participating merchant rewards, loyalty programs and membership accounts, and offering payment options through the consumer’s selected financial account, all with a single scan.

    In other mobile news

    Everybody and their dog suspected it and now it’s finally official-- the Amazon Fire Phone is a huge fiasco for the company, and it just lost $544 million in the quarter because of it.

    During the company’s third-quarter earnings call last Thursday, Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak put it in perspective by primarily attributing a $170 million loss “to the Fire phone inventory evaluation and supplier commitment cost,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.

    Amazon's Fire Phone huge failure helped contribute to an unexpected $544 million operating loss on the quarter, up substantially from a $25 million loss in the year-ago quarter. Amazon this summer announced its first smartphone and made it a $199 exclusive at AT&T. Shortly after launch the cost of the Fire Phone dipped to $0.99 with a two-year contract.

    Slow adoption for Amazon’s new device has been partly blamed on its AT&T exclusivity and its pricing on par with other more popular top-tier smartphones.

    On a separate earnings call, Szkutak called the Fire Phone a “good device in a very competitive market,” according to a Recode report.

    The Fire Phone gathered some hype based on its 3D display, dubbed “dynamic perspective,” and its Firefly button able to identify music, movies and everyday items and then direct users to a product page on Amazon. But that's pretty much what it was: hype.

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    In other mobile news

    Verizon said today that it's currently seeing an industry-wide shift from prepaid to postpaid plans, according to Chief Financial Officer, Fran Shammo.

    During a 3rd quarter earnings call yesterday, Shammo said that recent competitive pressure on pricing levels in the U.S. would drive mobile subscribers to postpaid plans.

    “We’re just looking at the overall mobile industry, and the assumption is that we do see the prepaid customer moving,” Shammo added. “If you look at single-line pricing, those price points are pretty close to what you’d pay on postpaid.”

    Shammo made the comments during an earnings call that saw Verizon Wireless post a whopping 1.5 million postpaid net adds in the third quarter, up 63.5 percent from the same 2013 quarter.

    To be sure, tablets continued to be a big driver of usage. Broken out, Verizon’s total postpaid additions included 457,000 postpaid phones and 1.1 million postpaid tablets.

    Shammo also noted that tablet customers are currently using more data than 3G smartphone customers. So while margins slipped slightly year over year to 48.5 percent on $12.6 billion in capital expenditures (CapEx), revenue for the company’s wireless segment was up 7 percent to $21.8 billion.

    Consolidated earnings per share came in at 89 cents per share, up from 78 cents per share in the same quarter in 2013.

    Shammo said that he still expects CapEx to hit $17 billion by the end of the year, but he believes the company can improve on margins going forward.

    When asked whether increased upgrades in the fourth quarter would improve margins, Shammo said that service revenue margins will continue to be affected by Verizon’s response to industry competition.

    “There is some deceleration here, as we increase the bundles, it’s going to take some time before people have to take the next step up,” Shammo said.

    In all, Verizon activated 8.9 million smartphones during the quarter. The wireless carrier noted that about 77 percent of all mobile phones on Verizon’s network are now smartphones, up 67 percent from the same quarter last year.

    Retail postpaid average revenue per account (ARPA) increased 3.5 percent annually to $161.24 per month.

    And while Verizon has expanded its XLTE offering to 400 markets on its AWS holdings, Shammo said he was unable to comment on the upcoming AWS auction due to the FCC rules.

    European Union trade chief Karel De Gucht believes he’s come to a practical solution to a trade dispute with China over telecom equipment subsidies.

    The EU has been fighting relentlessly with China, its second largest trade partner behind the United States, over what the EU claims are illegal subsidies for mobile network equipment made by Chinese companies such as Huawei.

    Following a trade conference in Rome yesterday, De Gucht told Reuters that the trade partners had reached a sort of agreement, and he’d be asking the European commissioners to drop the case next week.

    Chinese telecom equipment makers Huawei and ZTE export approximately US $1.26 billion worth of products annually to the EU, competing directly with European-based equipment makers Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks and Alcatel Lucent.

    Some details of the agreement are expected to be released in the next few days. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will be meeting with top EU officials in Milan, Italy, later this week.

    The EU has fined Deutsche Telekom and its Slovak subsidiary US $88.5 million for blocking its competitors in Slovakia’s Internet market.

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    Source: The FCC.

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