Monthly Archives: March 2011 - Page 2

The UBB Deception

Here’s a very awesome video that explains the situation the best. It’s from a guy in Canada, where they’ve had caps for a long time:

Verizon: “No interest” in Sprint deal

Verizon’s CEO denied interest in a Sprint deal in a statement released today:

“We’re not interested in Sprint. We don’t need them,” said Mead, speaking to Reuters ahead of the CTIA Wireless Conference.

You may not need them, but your shareholders might. Unregulated capitalism inevitably leads to consolidation in the market, and if Sprint begins to take customers from AT&T and Verizon, he may be forced to act.

Minnesota senator to regulators: “Do your job” regarding T-Mobile/AT&T merger

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) released a statement today calling on the FCC and the Department of Justice to take a “close look” at the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger:

“At a time when many Americans are using wireless phones as the sole means of telephone communication, it is vital that competition in the wireless market remain robust,” Klobuchar wrote in the letter. “That is why I urge you to take a close, hard look at this proposed acquisition and ensure that consumers are provided with adequate choice in the wireless market.”

Well said. I hope the FCC and DoJ do their due diligence and realize the downsides of having AT&T and Verizon control the vast majority of the mobile market.

How you can help

Here’s a few things you can do to help:

  • Cancel ALL AT&T services and switch to alternatives, if possible. If you can only get AT&T DSL and you need Internet at home, drop to the lowest possible AT&T plan that you can get. Make sure to tell the representative that their bandwidth caps are the reason why you are ending service so that this can be relayed upward, and make sure to treat the person you’re talking to well–they’re not the ones in charge of policy.This will have two effects: a) to reduce your liability in case you do go over the cap, and b) reduce the amount of revenue AT&T gets from you, the subscriber.
  • Contact your representatives in Congress (House; Senate) — let them know that you want the federal government to encourage broadband competition and that you want federal regulators to be much tougher on our telecom oligarchy.
  • Contact your representatives at your state’s legislature. They will be able to put pressure on AT&T and others through the Attorney General and by enacting state-level programs to increase telecom competition.
  • Join Stop The Cap and help with them their efforts.

Together, we can get people’s attention and protect our Internet.

T-Mobile: What now?

You may have heard by now that AT&T will soon own T-Mobile. What should you do?

It’s important to keep in mind that this deal will take up a year to complete. It also needs to be approved by regulators before the sale will be final. Until then, do not treat T-Mobile equivalent to AT&T when fighting the caps; they are a separate firm for the time being. Instead, efforts should be focused at ensuring that regulators take a close look at the proposed deal and getting the word out about the deal’s downsides.

However, if the deal does become final, for all intents and purposes, T-Mobile and AT&T will be the same, even with different names and management. Switch away from both of those carriers for your mobile phone needs to either Sprint, Verizon or a regional carrier–AT&T’s wireless division is what’s making most of its money right now, and a cut here will hurt more than canceling landline phone service/DSL/U-Verse. Of course, if you have AT&T phone service, you should immediately switch to another carrier with the best service and coverage in the areas you’ll be.

How far can AT&T’s new cap really take you?

Do you know how much bandwidth you’re using? To be honest, I didn’t really know for certain, so I decided to get a better idea. Since I live alone, I only needed to measure the bandwidth my MacBook Pro’s using, vs. what my router thinks it’s using. Luckily, there’s an easy to use Mac OS X application called SurplusMeter that keeps track of your bandwidth usage as you’re using it, so I installed that on my laptop.

At 11:40am, I took the following screenshot several minutes after rebooting to clear the meter. All that’s open at the moment is Adium (IM client), Safari with 12 tabs, Terminal and iTunes. I disabled Time Machine for this test because Time Machine traffic gets counted by this application:

After rebooting my laptop

At 12:50pm, after one TV episode in standard definition on Netflix (~45 minutes) and a bit of Web browsing:

After one episode on Netflix

I took this screenshot 5:10pm, after 6 Netflix episodes of ~45 minutes each in standard definition plus some light Web surfing and IRC usage. This works out to 4.5 hours, or a bit more than the average of 28 hours per week that Americans spend watching TV:

After six episodes on Netflix

At 3.8GB per day and 31 days at most in a month, this works out to ~118GB for the month. On regular AT&T DSL, I would have gotten at least one warning from AT&T during the month, and come close to getting one on U-Verse. If I had housemates, used the Web extensively, or spent that time watching HD content instead of standard def content, I would be subject to AT&T’s overage fees. It sounds even more ridiculous when you take into account the fact that AT&T won’t be counting U-Verse TV as part of the cap. This is why it’s so important to do your part to let AT&T know how much of a bad idea its plan actually is and to make our legislators and regulators ensure fair, equal competition in the Internet space.

New Twitter account

As a FYI, the cause now has a Twitter account. All posts to the site will be announced there as well on RSS, so you can stay informed :)

AT&T To Buy T-Mobile USA

Well, this is unexpected:

AT&T announced on Sunday that it has agreed to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion in cash and stock, in one of the biggest mergers since the onset of the financial crisis.

The deal will dramatically bolster AT&T’s footprint in the country, adding an additional 46.5 million customers.

(It makes more sense from a technology perspective than the Sprint/T-Mobile merger the rumor mill thought was going to happen, anyway, but that’s a different subject for another day.)

Sadly, after the deal completes, there’ll only be three national wireless carriers: one GSM carrier (AT&T) and two CDMA carriers (Verizon and Sprint). Fewer competitors in an industry is never a good thing, regardless of the industry, and this is no exception. Verizon already follows AT&T in whatever it does, so how long will it be until Sprint has to follow to maintain profitability? How long will it be until Sprint get bought out by Verizon too?

I hope the FCC and regulators keep that in mind when approving this merger, but why do I have this feeling it’ll just get approved without conditions anyway? This stuff is why we need to fight for true competition in the telecommunications industry. It’s far bigger than a single ISP imposing bandwidth caps–this is the future of the Internet and mobile technology at stake.

AT&T’s Internet Overcharging Spells Trouble for Online Innovation

From Free Press, a media reform group:

At worst, this is a plan designed to discourage cord-cutting and pad profits; at best, this is another example of an antiquated phone-company business model being forced onto an otherwise vibrant and limitless marketplace.

Indeed. Right now, I’m watching the Al-Jazeera English live stream on my PS3. Hulu has the TV shows that I would be watching from a DVR, and Netflix has movies that would be on HBO/Showtime or on a cable company’s On Demand service. We are rapidly reaching the point technologically where purchasing TV service from AT&T or a cable company isn’t really necessary any more. And they’re scared of having to compete with the Internet for people’s entertainment.

On competition

From a comment that I made on Reddit:

Even if AT&T changes their mind, it’s not going to solve the real issue: most people in the US have the choice of 2 or fewer Internet providers, and other ISPs are going to continue to try to push this on people. I’m going to write my representatives as well and push for policies that encourage competition in the ISP industry, and I encourage you to do the same.

In the meantime, if you have AT&T DSL and your cable provider also caps, I would look into switching to a CLEC such as DSLExtreme if you’re in SoCal, or Sonic if you’re in the Bay Area; they don’t have caps AFAICT. There might be other companies similar to them outside of California as well. If you can only get AT&T DSL (e.g. no CLECs) and you really need Internet at home, then switch to the absolute lowest Internet plan you can possibly get with them and cancel any of their other services that you don’t absolutely need. This will reduce your liability if you do get owned by malware/WiFi leechers and help to hurt AT&T’s bottom line. If possible, do this over the phone and tell them the caps are why you’re downgrading/ending service.