by ilene - March 21st, 2011 6:48 pm
You all know I really despise AT&T, even though I continue paying them thousands of dollars per year for three cell phones. Since getting my Verizon iPhone I haven’t dropped a call and I can actually hear the other party. Steve Gillmor got one on Friday and, wow, what a difference. Not to mention that the world’s toughest dead zone: Devil’s Slide is non-existent for AT&T and TMobile, but works the entire way on Verizon for me.
TMobile is even worse. It doesn’t have enough coverage. My entire neighborhood, which includes some of the houses of the richest VCs, not to mention VPs from Apple, HP, and other places, has NO TMobile Coverage. This isn’t back waters of some flyover state. It’s 13 miles from the tech center of the world (at least until Beijing takes over later this decade).
CNBC just announced AT&T is buying TMobile’s US business for $39 billion. More details flowing in on Google News and even more over on Techmeme. That’s one way to get more bandwidth to try to serve iPhone users better before they all realize Verizon has a better network.
I think this COULD be a good thing, if they fill in some of the numerous dead zones and get us better service. I’m stuck with AT&T because I need to head to Europe every few months and AT&T’s iPhone is better there. Also because in other places AT&T does have better coverage, and its data is faster and also I can use data while talking, which really isn’t that big a deal for ME anymore (since I have two phones, I solved that problem).
Anyway, does one bad company buying another make a good one? I guess we’ll see.
Yes, I know I might get crap for calling these companies bad companies, but I’ve paid AT&T thousands of dollars over the last few years. I’ve earned that right.
Speaking of which, why didn’t they just spend that $39 billion making a better network? Oh, do I love capitalism sometimes.
This is a forced marriage due to Verizon finally getting the iPhone. If that hadn’t happened AT&T would have continued
by ilene - August 13th, 2010 6:00 am
Courtesy of PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS writing at CounterPunch
I write about major problems: the collapsing US economy, wars based on lies and deception, the police state based on “the war on terror” and other fabrications such as those orchestrated by corrupt police and prosecutors, who boost their performance reports by convicting the innocent, and so on. America is a very distressing place. The fact that so many Americans are taken in by the lies told by “their” government makes America all the more depressing.
Often, however, it is small annoyances that waste Americans’ time and drive up blood pressures. One of the worst things that ever happened to Americans was the breakup of the AT&T telephone monopoly. As Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury in 1981, if 150 per cent of my time and energy had not been required to cure stagflation in the face of opposition from Wall Street and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, I might have been able to prevent the destruction of the best communications service in the world, and one that was very inexpensive to customers.
The assistant attorney general in charge of the “anti-trust case” against AT&T called me to ask if Treasury had an interest in how the case was resolved. I went to Treasury Secretary Don Regan and told him that although my conservative and libertarian friends thought that the breakup of At&T was a great idea, their opinion was based entirely in ideology and that the practical effect would not be good for widows and orphans who had a blue chip stock to see them through life or for communications customers as deregulated communications would give the multiple communications corporations different interests than those of the customers. Under the regulated regime, AT&T was allowed a reasonable rate of return on its investment, and to stay out of trouble with regulators AT&T provided excellent and inexpensive service.
Secretary Regan reminded me of my memo to him detailing that Treasury was going to have a hard time getting President Reagan’s economic program, directed at curing the stagflation that had wrecked President Carter’s presidency, out of the Reagan administration. The budget director, David Stockman, and his chief economist, Larry Kudlow, had lined up against it following the wishes of Wall Street, and the White House Chief of Staff James Baker and his deputy Richard Darman were representatives of VP…
by ilene - June 14th, 2010 8:01 pm
Courtesy of Andy Kessler
AT&T’s Picturephone, shown at the 1964 World’s Fair, was a huge flop. Apple’s new iPhone 4, announced this week, has a front-facing camera for video chats. It might succeed, except that AT&T isn’t providing enough bandwidth capacity.
First, the company won’t allow two-way video to work over its data network. Second, AT&T just made bandwidth-intensive video expensive by dropping iPhone and iPad’s $30 per month unlimited data plans and replacing them with a two-tiered plan of $15 a month for under 200 megabyte usage or $25 for two gigs. Not that I have a problem with AT&T charging me or the 2% of its customers who are heavy data users. I can always sign up with a competitor. Oh, wait. There are none. AT&T has an exclusive contract with Apple.
AT&T can easily build out enough capacity to handle heavy data users. But it may be playing a game of chess with the FCC over its attempt to impose "network neutrality" rules. The FCC (plus Google and friends) wants all users to have free rein to do what they want on the Internet and smart phones. AT&T just wants users to pay for excess bandwidth.
Both are fine and not incompatible goals, except that competition, rather than rules, will best set the right price and make it happen. But without more broadband capacity and much higher speeds, the productivity applications needed to drive the next wave of growth in the economy will be stillborn.
Read the rest here:
See also: AT&T Goes AOL on Data Hogs, Jr. Deputy Accountant
by ilene - March 27th, 2010 1:59 pm
Courtesy of Jr. Deputy Accountant
Some of us obviously need a refresher in Econ 101 (Ben Bernanke, OMGObama if he ever actually took it, Nancy Pelosi, etc etc) but it’s all good; Obamacare is here to teach us that there is no "something for nothing". Pelosi should probably listen to the lesson twice.
AT&T Inc (T.N) said on Friday it would record a $1 billion non-cash charge for the current quarter related to the new U.S. health care reform law, as lawmakers called on the company and three other large employers to testify about expected cost hikes.
AT&T’s charge appeared to be the largest in a series of charges announced by U.S. companies this week.
A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee said on Friday it will call on the chief executives of AT&T, Caterpillar (CAT.N), Verizon (VZ.N) and Deere (DE.N) to testify on April 21 about how the reform might adversely affect their ability to provide health insurance.
"The new law is designed to expand coverage and bring down costs, so your assertions are a matter of concern," the subcommittee said in the letters.
AT&T, whose annual revenue is expected to be $124.1 billion this year, said the charge is the result of a provision in the law related to the tax treatment of Medicare subsidies.
And where, exactly, are companies supposed to come up with the difference? Public company accounting – in case you are not aware, I’ll save you the filthy GAAP details – is not like government (fund) accounting. While the Obama administration may have the advantage of a conveniently-located printing press in town at Bernanke’s place and fund accounting on its side, public companies actually have to make balance sheets balance and put something aside or borrow to comply with this awesome new health reform plan.
Way to encourage economic growth, Washington.
Money that could have easily gone into infrastructure, technology, inventory, human capital, or R&D ends up going to Washington (as if the printing press and fund accounting weren’t pay day enough in DC. Here’s a hint: there is never enough) to be redistributed. Partially to the IRS to pay all these new "auditors".
See where we’ve gone wrong yet?
And hey! All you asshat iPhone users can also blame Obamacare for the ever-crappier network you’ll be on as AT&T will, naturally, have to take $1 billion from somewhere else.
by ilene - August 21st, 2009 4:47 pm
Courtesy of Andy Kessler
Earlier this month, Apple rejected an application for the iPhone called Google Voice. The uproar set off a chain of events—Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt resigning from Apple’s board, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigating wireless open access and handset exclusivity—that may finally end the 135-year-old Alexander Graham Bell era. It’s about time.
With Google Voice, you have one Google phone number that callers use to reach you, and you pick up whichever phone—office, home or cellular—rings. You can screen calls, listen in before answering, record calls, read transcripts of your voicemails, and do free conference calls. Domestic calls and texting are free, and international calls to Europe are two cents a minute. In other words, a unified voice system, something a real phone company should have offered years ago.
Apple has an exclusive deal with AT&T in the U.S., stirring up rumors that AT&T was the one behind Apple rejecting Google Voice. How could AT&T not object? AT&T clings to the old business of charging for voice calls in minutes. It takes not much more than 10 kilobits per second of data to handle voice. In a world of megabit per-second connections, that’s nothing—hence Google’s proposal to offer voice calls for no cost and heap on features galore.
What this episode really uncovers is that AT&T is dying. AT&T is dragging down the rest of us by overcharging us for voice calls and stifling innovation in a mobile data market critical to the U.S. economy.
For the latest quarter, AT&T reported local voice revenue down 12%, long distance down 15%. With customers unplugging home phones and using flat-rate Internet services for long-distance calls (again, voice is just data), AT&T’s wireline operating income is down 36%. Even in the wireless segment, which grew 10% overall, per-customer voice revenue is down 7%.
Wireless data service is AT&T’s only bright spot, up a whopping 26% per customer. How so? As any parent of teenagers knows, text messages are 20 cents each, or $5,000 per megabyte. After the first month and a $320 bill, we all pony up $10 a month for unlimited texting plans. Same for Internet access. With my iPhone, I pay $30 a month for unlimited data service (actually, one gigabyte per month). Is it worth that? The à la carte price for…