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Monday Morning Links - - Mon, 25 Sep 2017


Internet giants shift U.S. policy strategy to the defensive venturebeat.com
Frontier says its FiOS buried fiber proved more reliable in hurricane convergedigest.com
Sprint s Merger With T-Mobile Might Be Announced In October ubergizmo.com
T-Mobile US to Roll Out Nationwide NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M Network in 2018 thefastmode.com
Verizon eyes 5 carrier aggregation as gigabit deployments roll mobileworldlive.com
Verizon Backs Off Dickish Plan to Boot Rural Customers (Sort Of) gizmodo.com
RIAA: 30M+ pay for streaming, which now accounts for 62% of US music biz; streaming revenue up 48% in first half of 2017 to $2.5B, digital downloads down 24% recode.net
Electric Co-op Broadband Report: Feasibility Studies Are Essential telecompetitor.com
Love coffee? Then you'll really want to win this week's T-Mobile Tuesday contest phonearena.com


Verizon Gives Booted Users A Bit More Time to Get The Hell Out - - Mon, 25 Sep 2017


After the company took massive heat for kicking 8.500 people off its network for "substantial" usage, the company is giving those users some additional time to leave. We've been discussing how Verizon informed these users they were being booted of the network for using a "substantial" amount of data, despite the fact many of the impacted users say their usage comprised just a few gigabytes per month. Verizon has refused to define "substantial," harkening back to the days when Verizon was sued by New York's AG a decade ago for having a unique definition of "unlimited" data.

But many of these impacted customers were law enforcement officers in rural communities, who say Verizon's decision impacted their ability to protect and serve the public.

And while consumer outrage for being booted for using connections Verizon promised were "unlimited" didn't apparently bother the company, the public perception that it could be putting consumer lives at risk with the plan clearly has. It's due to this pressure that Verizon backed off the plan completely in states like Montana after politicians asked Verizon what the hell it was up to.

And the company has subsequently announced it will be delaying the termination date for many other users a few months.

"We recently notified approximately 8,500 Verizon customers that we would no longer offer service to them because our costs when they roam on other wireless networks exceeds the amount they pay us every month," says the company in a statement e-mailed to DSLREPORTS.com. "Since that notification, we have become aware of a very small number of affected customers who may be using their personal phones in their roles as first responders and another small group who may not have another option for wireless service."

"After listening to these folks, we are committed to resolving these issues in the best interest of the customers and their communities," adds the company. "We re committed to ensuring first responders in these areas keep their Verizon service."

As a result, Verizon now says if you've received one of these termination letters in the last two weeks, the company is going to give you until December 1 to get the hell out of dodge. Users can stick around, but only if they sign up for one of Verizon's metered usage plans by December 1: S (2 GB), M (4 GB), 5 GB single line or L (8 GB).

"We re making these changes so that your options with Verizon are clear, and that we re there for those who need us," says the telco. "We have a long history of serving rural markets and care about you, your friends and families in these communities."

Isn't that sweet? The problem is even Verizon's build partners say the company launched the rural program, paid companies to build additional capacity, hyped the unlimited nature of the service to customers, then pulled the plug abruptly without really adequately explaining anything. So while it's nice Verizon is giving users a little more time, that shouldn't overshadow how poorly Verizon managed this whole affair.
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Verizon Kicked Some Off Its Network for Just a Few Gigs of Usage - - Fri, 22 Sep 2017


So over the last few weeks, Verizon has been taking heat for its decision to kick thousands of customers off the company's network. Most of these customers are part of Verizon's LTE in rural America program (LTEiRA), which provides smaller rural carriers spectrum and technology access in exchange for extending Verizon's cellular reach in these markets. Short version: Verizon launched the program, promised these users unlimited data connection, then abruptly pulled the plug after it decided the economics didn't work.

And while that's Verizon's prerogative as a company accountable to its investors, the net result has been thousands of customers -- and some law enforcement officials -- who say the abrupt decision left them in a lurch.

Verizon's made the problem worse by being murky about how many customers have been impacted and why precisely they've been kicked off the network. In an e-mail to many of these customers, Verizon has insisted they're being booted off the network next month because of "substantial" data usage -- though how Verizon measures "substantial" is never defined.

"During a recent review of customer accounts, we discovered you are using a significant amount of data while roaming off the Verizon Wireless network," a letter being sent to these users states. "While we appreciate you choosing Verizon, after October 17, 2017, we will no longer offer service for the numbers listed above since your primary place of use is outside the Verizon service area."

Except Ars Technica has talked to numerous impacted users who say their monthly usage was just a few gigabytes per month:

quote:
Sarah Craighead Dedmon, editor of the Machias Valley News Observer in Machias, Maine, has been writing about the Verizon disconnections and was one of the unlucky recipients of a disconnection letter herself. Like the 8,500 other Verizon customers in 13 states, her service is scheduled to end on October 17. In total, those customers have 19,000 lines on Verizon.

"My family has three lines, and we had a 6GB plan," Dedmon, who lives in Machiasport, told Ars. "We frequently either bumped it or had to purchase 1GB extra for $15." Dedmon provided us with screenshots of her data usage that back this up.
Despite the growing annoyance at Verizon's decision, the company remains utterly mute on how they determined what constitutes "substantial" use, and refuses to provide any hard, meaningful network or financial data on how this decision came to be. At least one state however (Montana) has managed to get Verizon to reverse the terminations after law enforcement officers there stated it impacted their ability to protect and serve the public.

Update: After mounting public pressure, Verizon sent us this statement saying they're giving some of these folks a little additional time to get off their network:
quote:
We recently notified approximately 8,500 Verizon customers that we would no longer offer service to them because our costs when they roam on other wireless networks exceeds the amount they pay us every month. Since that notification, we have become aware of a very small number of affected customers who may be using their personal phones in their roles as first responders and another small group who may not have another option for wireless service.

After listening to these folks, we are committed to resolving these issues in the best interest of the customers and their communities. We re committed to ensuring first responders in these areas keep their Verizon service.

If you ve received a letter in the past two weeks, we re giving you more time to switch providers - you now have until December 1, 2017. If there is no alternative provider in your area, you can switch to the S (2 GB), M (4 GB), 5 GB single line or L (8 GB) Verizon plan but you must do so by December 1.

We will continue to regularly review the viability of accounts of customers who live outside of the Verizon network. Supporting these roaming customers can often be economically challenging, especially supporting those on plans with unlimited data or other high data plans. However, we are continuing to look for ways to support existing roaming customers with LTE service.

We re making these changes so that your options with Verizon are clear, and that we re there for those who need us. We have a long history of serving rural markets and care about you, your friends and families in these communities.

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A Sprint, T-Mobile Merger Remains a Very Bad Deal for Consumers - - Fri, 22 Sep 2017


The long-rumored Sprint, T-Mobile merger is finally getting closer to fruition. Reuters notes that the two companies have had a "breakthrough" in negotiations on a mega-merger, and are "close to agreeing tentative terms" on a deal that could be completed by the end of October. Regulators previously blocked an earlier attempt at this same transaction due to the fact it would seriously harm competition in the wireless space, but most analysts believe the Trump administration and FCC boss Ajit Pai will happily approve the deal.

That could prove problematic for not only wireless prices, but the recent resurgence in unlimited data plans.

While wireless carriers still often engage in theatrical non-price competition more often than not, the government's decision to block AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile several years ago helped spur an unprecedented period of competition in wireless (something large ISPs and their policy armies like to ignore). The end result was a brasher and more competitive T-Mobile, who lead the way on a wave of improvements in the sector culminating most recently in the return of simpler, easier unlimited data plans.

The government's decision to block Sprint from acquiring T-Mobile helped keep that competition intact, something large ISPs and their policy folk would similarly like you to forget. As a result, T-Mobile has added more customers per quarter than any other wireless carrier for several years running, as the resulting competition put an end to numerous, nasty industry tactics including overcharging for international roaming, to obnoxious fees and long-term contracts.

And while the new, combined company will likely still be run by current popular T-Mobile CEO John Legere, the very act of eliminating one of only four major players in the wireless market will indisputably reduce the incentive to more seriously compete on price, and could help reverse the progress the sector has seen in recent years. It's well within reason that this reduced competition could also bring back metered plans and put an end to unlimited data.

Meanwhile, Sprint's balance sheet and network performance has notably improved over the last few years courtesy of deep-pocketed Softbank. The company also has other options (being bought by Charter, Dish or Comcast) that wouldn't involve eliminating a major wireless competitor, making the argument that this deal is essential to keep Sprint alive (one you'll see floated a lot in the coming months) rather flimsy. Especially when the net result will again be less competition, and less incentive than ever to seriously compete on price, network quality, and customer service.

Of course should the final details of the deal be hashed out, prepare to be inundated with an endless flood of "non profit" and other industry-backed editorials insisting that killing one of just four major wireless competitors in the market will be of immeasurable benefit to everyone. That ignores decades of history, which repeatedly makes clear that these types of deals always benefit just one party: the companies involved. The blind adoration of mindless M&As in the telecom space is the primary reason we all get to enjoy what passes for customer service from the likes of Charter or Comcast.

Given that Legere has spent the last few years convincing the public he's a massive consumer advocate (despite the company's failure to support net neutrality and that time Legere attacked the EFF), watching him try and sell this dog of a deal to Millennials should prove entertaining.
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Weekend Open Thread! - - Fri, 22 Sep 2017


The weekend has arrived! Let us know what you're up to this weekend in the comment section below.
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Virgin Media U-turn – Agrees to Extend Cable Broadband in Central Wargrave - Mon, 25 Sep 2017

virgin media engineer street works
Residents of central Wargrave (Berkshire) have been told that cable operator Virgin Media will now expand their ultrafast broadband and TV network to cover around the High Street, which follows an earlier decision not to proceed due to a lack of demand and fears over the potential for major disruption. The large village was originally […]

Cambridgeshire Businesses Asked to Help Identify Broadband Slowspots - Mon, 25 Sep 2017

connecting cambridgeshire uk 800px
The Connecting Cambridgeshire project, which is currently helping to extend “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) coverage to 99% of homes and businesses in the county by the end of 2020, has setup a new online survey in the hope that local businesses can help them to spot any remaining gaps in coverage. Cambridgeshire County Council claims that […]

John Henry Group Reveals the Obstacles to Building UK Fibre Optic Networks - Sun, 24 Sep 2017

mark_heraghty_jhg_chairman
Mark Heraghty, Non-Executive Chairman of civil engineering firm the John Henry Group, has told ISPreview.co.uk that FTTP lines are the “only real future proof” broadband solution for the UK, but issues with notice and permit schemes, training and wayleaves can hurt progress. JHG has been around for 30 years and they’re currently one of the […]

Pogue's Basics: Access YouTube's free music and sound effects - Tue, 19 Sep 2017

Pogue's Basics: Access YouTube's free music and sound effectsWant to add some cool sound effects or music to your YouTube video (or any video)?


MIZUHO: Here's why Facebook has 'a realistic opportunity' to enter China in 2018 - Tue, 19 Sep 2017

MIZUHO: Here's why Facebook has 'a realistic opportunity' to enter China in 2018Facebook has a "realistic opportunity" to enter China in 2018, Mizuho analyst James Lee wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday. Lee came to the conclusion after meeting "various industry contacts" in China during a recent trip. Facebook's recent appointment of an executive to manage relations with China will help the company "understand the regulatory requirement and negotiate Facebook's operating structure in China," said Lee in the note, a copy of which was obtained by Business Insider.


Apple's wireless charger may not ship with the new iPhones at launch - Tue, 12 Sep 2017

Apple's wireless charger may not ship with the new iPhones at launchApple is expected to include wireless charging as a core feature in the iPhones it launches on...



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