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Report: AT&T, T-Mobile Users Get the Most Robocalls - - Thu, 19 Apr 2018

A new report claims that AT&T and T-Mobile customers get more robocalls than customers at Sprint or Verizon. According to new research from the YouMail Robocall Index, AT&T users are robocalled the most frequently, averaging of 15.1 robocalls per person last month, followed by T-Mobile users with 14.8 robocalls each. Sprint users saw 12.4 robocalls per user last month, while Verizon users saw 11.8 robocalls per user in March. That said, the report notes that the rate of robocalls are soaring at all four carriers, with Sprint's 21% month-over-month increase being the worst.

The hike in robocalls come as carriers and FCC boss Ajit Pai have routinely claimed to be doing everything in their power to combat the annoyance.

Data released by the FTC indicates that there were 4.5 million consumer complaints about robocalls in 2017, a dramatic increase from the 3.4 million consumer complaints government received the year before. Many robocalls are coming from cable TV and broadband ISPs themselves (Charter is facing two different lawsuits) for calling customers who didn't want to be sold to.

AT&T's spot at the top is particularly ironic, given the company was selected by former FCC boss Tom Wheeler to spearhead a "robocall task force" after the company had been widely criticized for doing too little to thwart such calls. AT&T was selected after the company falsely tried to blame the FCC for the company's failure to adequately police the problem. AT&T's history in this arena isn't great; it has occasionally been fined for actively helping crammers and scammers because it historically netted a portion of the proceeds.

The firm tracked robocalls by the type of scam being pushed, noting that mortgage interest rate scams, credit card scams, student loan scams, business loan scams and IRS scams were the top five most common.

"There was a big surge in scam calls in March, with the top three financial scams estimated to reach a combined 276.4 million calls alone, up a full 33% from 207.4 million in February," the firm notes. "In addition, IRS-related scam calls nearly doubled in March from February, making it the 5th most common scam, and Home Security Scams were up over four times, leaping into 9th place."
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T-Mobile Offers Jobs, Discounts to Military Families - - Thu, 19 Apr 2018

T-Mobile is promising service discounts and potential employment to military families as part of a new company marketing effort. According to the full T-Mobile announcement, the company's new "T-Mobile One Military" plans reduce the company's standard $70-a-month plan by 20% to $55, also providing half off the next five lines. In other words, military families will pay $25 a month for the second line, and $10 for the next four lines. T-Mobile claims the new promo will save a military family of four $665 annually compared to AT&T and $764 annually when compared to comparable Verizon offerings.

"What the Duopoly do for military--help cover taxes and fees--is what we do for everyone already," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere. "Now, we re also going big to save military customers hundreds per year--all on America s best unlimited network."

The program formally begins on April 22, according to T-Mobile.

Users must sign up for autopay to nab the discounts, or they'll pay $5 more per month. As with T-Mobile's other plans, taxes and fees are included in the monthly price. T-Mobile said the company will also offer a promotion for half-off select Samsung smartphones like the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+.

T-Mobile also promised to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses in the next five years, effectively doubling an already-announced 2016 promise by the company.

We re going full-throttle to support our military and their families," Legere said of the new promo. "This is T-Mobile s biggest discount ever for families. Our biggest hiring commitment ever. And, we re putting our biggest network investment ever -- our $8 billion in nationwide spectrum -- to work so that military communities aren t left behind when it comes to 5G."
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Traditional Cable Lost 3.66 Million Customers Last Year - - Thu, 19 Apr 2018

A new report notes that streaming video revenue jumped 41% last year as competition finally begins to take root among over the top (OTT) video providers. According to a Convergence Research Group study, The Battle for the American Couch Potato (pdf), streaming video revenue among 55 streaming operators tracked grew 41% to $11.9 billion in 2017. The firm predicts that those numbers will jump to $16.6 billion in 2018, and $27.6 billion by 2020 as more and more companies jump into the market. That includes broadcasters like Disney, who is expected to launch its own, new service this year.

The firm notes that the impact on traditional television is not subtle.

Convergence estimates that traditional pay TV providers lost 3.66 million subscribers in 2017, up from 2.2 million in 2016. The firm predicts they should lose another 3.72 million in 2018 as the over the top streaming field gets increasingly crowded.

As of the end of last year, the report estimates that 32.13 million US households don't have a traditional TV subscription from a cable, satellite, or telcoTV provider. That's up from 27.56 million at the end of 2016, and should rise to 36.76 million by the end of this year.

"The traditional TV ecosystem does not show decline yet except for TV subscribers," notes the report. "TV access players continue to raise prices, and programmers have kept up increases in programming fees & advertising rates but this architecture can not last in the long-run...programmers have read the writing on the wall and have already gone, or are in process of going direct to consumer, again at competitive price points," it notes.
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Thursday Morning Links - - Thu, 19 Apr 2018

Time Warner CEO says AT&T merger needed to compete with internet titans
Bad news for AT&T and Comcast: Calif. Senate panel OKs net neutrality bill
T-Mobile says it will spend $500M this year on expanding LTE coverage and preparing for 5G on US military bases, doubles veteran hiring goal to 10K over 5 years
Report Advises Positioning Sling TV as a Mobile Offering
FCC Initiates Process to Restrict USF Funding for National Security Risks
T-Mobile says thank you to those who defend the country with huge military discounts of up to 50%
In wireless, BOGOs and ETF buyouts quietly disappearing
Amazon and Best Buy to collaborate on smart TV with Fire TV built in
FuboTV, an online TV service, has raised $75 million from TV programmers and other investors
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Comcast Expands Gigabit Availability in the Northeast - - Thu, 19 Apr 2018

Comcast continues to slowly but surely expand availability of gigabit broadband connections. Fresh on the heels of several gigabit market launches across the South this month (Charleston, SC; Memphis; Savannah; and Corinth and Hattiesburg, Mississippi), the company has now expanded gigabit availability into additional parts of Vermont, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

The company's Vermont announcement notes that service in the state will be notably cheaper than the $140 price point we've seen in some other markets, with Comcast gigabit service starting at $105 a month without a contract, or $90 a month for 12 months without one.

That price point is also being offered in Connecticut. Comcast's Notheastern division tends to see more competition than in other regions, one of the only reasons that part of the country hasn't been introduced to Comcast usage caps and overage fees yet.

"With the launch of our 1 Gigabit service, we continue to deliver an unparalleled Internet experience for our customers in terms of speed, control and reliability," said Michael Parker, Senior Vice President of Comcast's Western New England Region. "We've increased internet speeds 17 times in the past 17 years and we will continue to bring customers the absolute fastest speeds possible by proactively investing in our advanced, high performance network."

Of course it's not like customers aren't paying for it. Americans still pay some of the highest prices for broadband among all developed nations, and Comcast hit its broadband and TV customers with a bevy of rate increases (and numerous sneaky fees) earlier this year.
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The Best and Worst 10 Areas in the UK to Live by Broadband Speed - Fri, 20 Apr 2018

broadband internet speed uk
A new study has identified the top 10 and bottom 10 council areas in the United Kingdom to live by their average (mean) broadband ISP speed, which is ranked by considering the average speed that is possible if everyone in the area brought the fastest available service. Speedtest data is then used as a balance. […]

Snooping TalkTalk Security Feature Causes Customer Concern - Fri, 20 Apr 2018

TalkTalk Logo 2017
A number of TalkTalk’s broadband ISP customers in the UK have raised concerns after the provider sent them an alarmist warning email, which without providing any useful details claimed that they “may have downloaded a virus on one or more of your devices” (phishing emails adopt a similar approach). The message, which was sent several […]

UK and EU Mobile Broadband Speeds Fall While Roaming Q1 2018 - Thu, 19 Apr 2018

european union including united kingdom map
Ookla has published a new table, which reveals how much your Mobile Broadband (3G / 4G) speeds could drop within the EU when you roam outside of your home country. For example, the average local mobile download speed in the UK is 26.16Mbps but this drops by -19.4% (21.08Mbps) when roaming. Overall the mean (average) […]

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant duke it out at CES 2018 - Sat, 13 Jan 2018

Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant duke it out at CES 2018CES 2018 had more than its fair share of wacky items and compelling gadgets, but one of the biggest trends to emerge, once again, from the popular tech expo was voice-enabled devices. And, of course, it was all about Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The weirdest tech of CES 2018 - Fri, 12 Jan 2018

The weirdest tech of CES 2018Here are seven items at CES 2018, some of which address legitimate use cases and some of which may be closer to mad-scientist territory.

Sennheiser co-CEO: Why we're betting on AR and VR with 3-D audio - Fri, 12 Jan 2018

Sennheiser co-CEO: Why we're betting on AR and VR with 3-D audioAt CES 2018, Sennheiser announced two new products that focus on recording or playing back 3-D audio.

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