AcidPenguin9873 writes "Earlier this year, Google announced that it would build its next fiber network in Austin, TX. Construction is slated to start in 2014, but there's a hitch: AT&T owns 20% of the utility poles in Austin. The City of Austin is considering a rules change that would allow Google to pay AT&T to use its utility poles, but AT&T isn't happy about it. The debate appears to hinge on a technicality that specifies what types of companies can attach to the utility poles that AT&T owns. From the news story: 'Google 'would be happy to pay for access (to utility poles) at reasonable rates, just as we did in our initial buildout in Kansas City,' she said, referring to Google Fiber's pilot project in Kansas City...Tracy King, AT&T's vice president for public affairs, said in a written statement that Google "appears to be demanding concessions never provided any other entity before. ... Google has the right to attach to our poles, under federal law, as long as it qualifies as a telecom or cable provider, as they themselves acknowledge. We will work with Google when they become qualified, as we do with all such qualified providers," she said.'"
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First time accepted submitter binarstu writes "The New York Times reports that 'The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company's vast database of phone records, which includes Americans' international calls, according to government officials. The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate, according to the officials.'"
Nerval's Lobster writes "Google might have big plans to wire America with high-speed broadband, but at least one carrier isn't willing to let Google Fiber have a free run: AT&T has announced that it will deploy a '100 percent fiber' network in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds of up to 1GB per second. That location is auspicious, given how Google's already decided to make Austin the next city to receive Google Fiber. Whereas Google plans on connecting Austin households to its network in mid-2014, however, AT&T promises to start deploying its own high-speed solution in December. But there's a few significant catches. First, AT&T's service will initially roll out to 'tens of thousands of customer locations throughout Austin' (according to a press release), which is a mere fraction of the city's 842,592 residents; second, AT&T has offered no roadmap for expanding beyond that initial base; and third, despite promises that the service will roll out in December, the carrier has yet to choose the initial neighborhoods for its expansion. Could this be a case of a carrier freaking out about a new company's potential to disrupt its longtime business?"
Jah-Wren Ryel writes "Forget the NSA — the DEA has been working hand-in-hand with AT&T on a database of records of every call that passes through AT&T's phone switches going back as far as 1987. The government pays AT&T for contractors who sit side-by-side with DEA agents and do phone records searches for them. From the article: 'For at least six years, law enforcement officials working on a counter narcotics program have had routine access, using subpoenas, to an enormous AT&T database that contains the records of decades of Americans’ phone calls — parallel to but covering a far longer time than the National Security Agency’s hotly disputed collection of phone call logs.'"
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Sue Marek reports at Fierce Wireless that the mobile virtual network operator business is booming again, with new MVNOs launching nearly every week and operators like Sprint and T-Mobile hungry for MVNO partners because MVNOs offer a good economic return and can help them to grow their market share and reach into markets where they might not have visibility. 'It's a good strategic play for us,' says Matt Carter, president of Sprint wholesale and emerging solutions. 'It's another army to help us garner more subscribers on the network.' But unlike the MVNO craze of the 2005-2006 era--highlighted by high-profile failures like ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile, Amp'd Mobile and Helio, today's high-profile MVNOs like FreedomPop, Republic Wireless, Solavei and Ting offer innovative service plans, marketing techniques and, in some cases, devices that they hope will draw consumers to their offerings. Today's MVNOs can be successful with a seemingly tiny number of customers. For example, Tucows' MVNO Ting, which sells mobile usage by minutes, text messages and megabytes, announced they currently have around 25,000 total customers, and that the business is on track to cross the break-even threshold in the fourth quarter of this year. Virtual carriers now also get the latest phones like the Moto X at launch and don't have to wait for new Android handsets to trickle down."
onehitwonder writes "The race to build out advanced cellphone networks in the U.S. has contributed to a spike in deaths among tower workers, making this one of the industry's deadliest years and drawing fresh scrutiny from federal regulators, according to The Wall Street Journal. At least 10 workers have died in falls from communication towers so far this year, and three more were seriously injured. The accidents, nine of which were related to cellphone network work, come during one of the biggest building booms in years, as Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. ramp up major network upgrades in an attempt to catch up with Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc."
Mark Gibbs writes "AT&T's implementation of the FCC's Emergency Alerts System provides minimally useful information in an untimely fashion with little geolocational relevance. ... Yesterday California got its first AMBER alert and my notification arrived at 10:54pm. It came up as panel over my lock screen and here's what it looked like on my notifications screen: 'Boulevard, CA AMBER Alert UPDATE: LIC/6WCU986 (CA) Blue Nissan Versa 4 door.' The problem with this it that's all there is! You can stab away at the message as much as you like but that's all you get, there's no link to any detail and considering the event it related to occurred over 240 miles away from me near to the Mexican border, the WEA service seems to be poorly implemented. Indeed, many Californians were annoyed and confused by the alert and according to the LA Times 'Some cellphones received only a text message, others buzzed and beeped. Some people got more than one alert.' I got a second copy of the alert at 2:22am and other subscribers reported not receiving any alert until late this morning." It seems to have gone down about as well as New York's.
coolnumbr12 writes "A new partnership between Starbucks and Google hopes to improve the lives of freelance writers around the country. Starting in August, Google plans to make Internet speeds at all 7,000 Starbucks locations in the U.S. 10 times faster than the current AT&T-powered service. For people in a city equipped with Google Fiber, Google says the speed in Starbucks could increase as much as 100 times."
USSJoin writes "Andrew Auernheimer (or Weev, as he's often better known) is serving a 41-month sentence under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The case is currently on appeal to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals; his lawyer filed the appellate brief last week. Now, a group of 13 security researchers, led by Meredith Patterson, and including include Peiter "Mudge" Zatko, Space Rogue, Jericho, Shane MacDougall, and Dan Kaminsky, are making their own thoughts heard by the court. They are submitting a brief to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals that argues that not only is Weev's conviction bad law, but if upheld, it will destroy independent security research, and perhaps the rest of consumer safety research as well."
An anonymous reader writes "AT&T is ready to follow in its rivals' footsteps and begin selling the private usage data it collects from its subscribers' phones to advertisers. The data in question is anonymized, according to AT&T, but it includes very sensitive information such as customers' locations, Web browsing history, mobile app usage and more. Privacy is something of a hot button issue right now, so it is likely that a number of AT&T subscribers would prefer to not have their private data sold to advertisers. Luckily, there is a fast and easy way to opt out of AT&T's 'External Marketing and Analytics Reporting' program."
anagama writes "Lots of new program names, flowcharts, and detail in four previously unreleased PRISM slides published by the Washington Post today. These slides provide some additional detail about PRISM and outline how the NSA gets information from those nine well known internet companies. Apparently, the collection is done by the FBI using its own equipment on the various companies' premises and then passed to the NSA where it is filtered and sorted."
An anonymous reader writes "Internet provider AT&T has patented a new technology that allows the company to accurately track content being shared via BitTorrent and other P2P networks. The company explains that the technology can be utilized to detect pirated downloads and combat congestion on its network. Whether the company is already using the system to track infringing content, or has plans to do so, is unknown."
Nerval's Lobster writes "When hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City last fall, it left a sizable percentage of the metropolis without electricity. Residents had trouble keeping their phones and tablets charged, and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power. Come the next disaster, at least a few citizens could communicate a little easier thanks to 25 solar-powered charging stations going up around the city. The stations—known as 'Street Charge' — are the result of a partnership between AT&T, Brooklyn design studio Pensa, and portable solar-power maker Goal Zero (with approval by the city's Parks Department). The first unit will deploy in Brooklyn's Fort Green Park on June 18, followed in short order by others in Union Square, Central Park, the Rockaways, and other locations. Each station incorporates lithium-ion batteries in addition to solar panels; charging a phone to full capacity could take as long as two hours, but the time necessary for a partial charge is much shorter. But a couple of charging stations also won't help very much if half the city is without power: In order to help mitigate the effects of the next hurricane, New York City major Michael Bloomberg has put forward a $20 billion plan for seawalls, levees, and dozens of other improvements. 'Sandy exposed weaknesses in the city's telecommunications infrastructure — including the location of critical facilities in areas that are susceptible to flooding,' reads one section of the plan's accompanying report. The city will harden the system 'by increasing the accountability of telecommunications providers to invest in resiliency and by using new regulatory authority to enable rapid recovery after extreme weather events.'"
adeelarshad82 writes "For the fourth year running, PCMag sent drivers out on U.S. roads to test the nation's Fastest Mobile Networks. Using eight identical Samsung phones, the drivers tested out eight separate networks for four major carriers across 30 cities evenly spread across six regions. Using Sensorly's 2013 software, a broad suite of tests were conducted every three minutes: a 'ping' to test network latency, multi-threaded HTTP upload and download tests including separate 'time to first byte' measures, a 4MB single-threaded file download, a 2MB single-threaded file upload, the download of a 1MB Web page with 70 elements, and 100kbps and 500kbps UDP streams designed to simulate streaming media. Nearly 90,000 data cycles later, the data not only revealed the fastest networks (AT&T) and the most consistent (Verizon), but also other interesting points. The tests recorded the fastest download speed (66.11 Mbits/sec) in New Orleans and the best average in Austin (27.25 Mbits/sec), both for AT&T's LTE network. The tests also found T-Mobile's HSPA network to have the worst Average-Time-To-First-Byte, even when compared with AT&T HSPA network. Also according to the tests, Sprint's LTE network didn't even come close to competing with other LTE networks, to the point that in some cities its LTE network speed averaged less than T-Mobile's HSPA network speed."
Trailrunner7 writes "Those of you who like to tinker and jailbreak Android phones should take notice of some new research conducted on Samsung Galaxy S4 Android devices shipped by AT&T and Verizon. Both devicemakers ship the Galaxy S4 smartphones with a locked-down bootloader that prevents users from uploading custom kernels or from making modifications to software on the phone. Azimuth Security researcher Dan Rosenberg has found a vulnerability in the manner in which the devices do cryptographic checks of boot image signatures and was able to exploit the flaw and upload his own unsigned kernel to the device."
guttentag writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T Mobility, the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has added a new monthly administrative fee of 61 cents to the bills of all of its contract wireless lines as of May 1, a move that could bring in more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue to the telecom giant. An AT&T spokeswoman said the fee covers 'certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell-site rents and maintenance.' The increased cost to consumers comes even though AT&T's growth in wireless revenue last year outpaced the costs to operate and support its wireless business. The company has talked of continuing to improve wireless profitability. Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins noted that the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year. He said the fee should add 0.30 of a percentage point to AT&T's 2013 revenue growth; he predicts total top-line growth of about 1.5%. Normally, consumers could vote with their wallets by taking their business elsewhere. AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge,' effectively forcing millions of people to either pay more money per month or pay the ETF."
Georgia Tech and Udacity — the online courseware project led by Sebastian Thrun — have announced a plan to offer an accredited M.S. Computer Science program online. The two organizations are also working with AT&T. This is the first time a major university has made an actual degree available solely through the MOOC format. Getting a degree in this manner is going to be much cheaper than a traditional degree: "... students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have quickly become one of the most significant catalysts of innovation in higher education. As parents know all too well, America urgently needs new ideas about how to make higher education accessible and affordable. This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers." Georgia Tech is looking at the big picture: "At present, around 160,000 master’s degrees are bestowed in the United States every year in computer science and related subject disciplines; the worldwide market is almost certainly much larger, perhaps even an order of magnitude larger."
zacharye writes "The HTC First, or 'Facebook phone' as many prefer to call it, is officially a flop. It certainly wasn't a good sign when AT&T dropped the price of HTC's First to $0.99 just one month after its debut, and now BGR has confirmed that HTC and Facebook's little experiment is nearing its end. BGR has learned from a trusted source that sales of the HTC First have been shockingly bad. So bad, in fact, that AT&T has already decided to discontinue the phone. Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC. How much unsold inventory is there? We don’t have an exact figure, but things aren’t looking good. According to our source, AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units nationwide through last week when the phone’s price was slashed to $0.99."
tdog17 writes "Verizon and MySpace scored a zero out of a possible six stars in a test of how far 18 technology service providers will go to protect user data from government data demands. Twitter and Internet service provider Sonic.net scored a perfect six in the third annual Electronic Frontier Foundation 'Who Has Your Back?' report. Apple, AT&T and Yahoo ranked near the bottom, each scoring just one star. 'While we are pleased by the strides these companies have made over the past couple years, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Amazon holds huge quantities of information as part of its cloud computing services and retail operations, yet does not promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government, produce annual transparency reports, or publish a law enforcement guide. Facebook has yet to publish a transparency report. Yahoo! has a public record of standing up for user privacy in courts, but it hasn't earned recognition in any of our other categories. Apple and AT&T are members of the Digital Due Process coalition, but don’t observe any of the other best practices we’re measuring. ... We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories.'"
itwbennett writes "According to a study (PDF) by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, restricting the ability of Verizon Wireless and AT&T to bid in upcoming spectrum auctions would drive down the bidding during the auction, and could cost the U.S. treasury as much as $12 billion. Even a partial restriction of bids by Verizon and AT&T could have a significant impact on auction revenues, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a co-author of the Georgetown study. Matt Wood, policy director at digital rights group Free Press, fired back, saying 'No one is talking about completely barring AT&T and Verizon from the incentive auction. Sensible people are talking about making sure that more than two companies have a chance at obtaining spectrum. The fact that these duopolists hired economists to parrot the companies' own talking points isn't really that newsworthy.'"