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HissyfitWatch: Witch Hunt – T-Mobile Declares War on “Abusive LTE Tethering”

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Burn Her! T-Mobile CEO John Legere announces a data hog crackdown.

T-Mobile’s CEO has declared war on about 3,000 current customers caught “stealing data from T-Mobile” by using workarounds to avoid T-Mobile’s tethering usage allowance.

T-Mobile customers with unlimited 4G LTE plans get a fixed allowance to be used for tethering when using the Smartphone Mobile HotSpot feature, which allows laptops, tablets, and other wireless devices to share a T-Mobile wireless data connection.

“These violators are going out of their way with all kinds of workarounds to steal more LTE tethered data,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile USA. “They’re downloading apps that hide their tether usage, rooting their phones, writing code to mask their activity, etc. They are ‘hacking’ the system to swipe high-speed tethered data.”

Legere claims the “clever hackers are willfully stealing for their own selfish gain” and are running up as much as two terabytes of usage a month over T-Mobile’s network. Legere thunders he won’t allow this on his watch and the company is starting a campaign of countermeasures this week to go “after a small group of users who are stealing data so blatantly and extremely that it is ridiculous.”

Legere was not specific about how T-Mobile identifies customers it considers to be abusing its network, but a new FAQ on the carrier’s website explains what will happen to those deemed to be exploiting workarounds to exceed T-Mobile’s standard 7GB tethering allowance:

We’re first warning these customers that they’re illegally using more data than they bought. We hope folks will stop on their own so they can keep their current plan. These customers are on an unlimited 4G LTE smartphone plan that includes a set amount of Smartphone Mobile HotSpot data, but they’re using workarounds to make their tethering look like smartphone usage which helps them use significantly more 4G LTE tethering than their plan includes.

Customers who continue to do this will be warned, then lose access to our Unlimited 4G LTE smartphone data plan, and be moved to an entry-level limited 4G LTE data plan.



Legere is clearly concerned the crackdown could be interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission as a Net Neutrality violation.

“These abusers will probably try to distract everyone by waving their arms about throttling data,” Legere wrote. “Make no mistake about it – this is not the same issue. Don’t be duped by their sideshow. We are going after every thief, and I am starting with the 3,000 users who know exactly what they are doing. The offenders start hearing from us tomorrow. No more abuse and no risk to the rest of our customers’ experience. It’s over. If you are interested, you can find more info in our [FAQ].

The FCC has no rules prohibiting usage caps, but the issue of speed throttling is less settled and Legere’s comments are intended to frame the issue in terms of data theft and violations of the company’s terms and conditions.

Carriers are often less lenient with hotspot usage because desktop computers and laptops often consume much more data than portable handheld devices like tablets and smartphones. T-Mobile admits that customers who need to consume a lot of data should find another ISP:

[Wired] Broadband services would be a better solution for customers who need more high-speed for tethered devices.

Blow Your Usage Allowance With New Unlimited Pornhub Premium, the “Netflix of Porn”

pornhubThe unstated reality of Internet traffic growth usually leaves out what impact streaming pornographic videos can have on network traffic, and for consumers, their broadband usage allowance. We are about to find out with last week’s arrival of Pornhub Premium (noted by DSL Reports), a new on-demand Internet streaming service its owners believe will quickly become the “Netflix of porn.”

Pornhub Premium ($9.99/mo) “offers an all new ad-free experience to its users, complete with faster playback and higher quality streaming on the millions of videos currently on Pornhub as well as the largest collection of exclusive full length HD adult titles available in crisp 1080p resolution.” Customers get a free seven-day trial before the charges begin. They can use it to test what kind of impact HD video will have on their usage allowance. It could prove considerable for frequent return visitors.

“Simply put, Pornhub Premium, is setting the new standard. Users will benefit from enhanced access to all of the content they already enjoy on Pornhub.com – with improved streaming quality – as well as over 100,000 full-length premium exclusive scenes at the touch of a finger or click of the mouse,” said Corey Price, vice president, Pornhub. “We’re looking to take the crown as the ‘Netflix of porn,’ and with the colossal amount of content we’ll be providing – and adding tons more daily – we’re confident our fan base will totally embrace this product and reinforce our position as the top provider of on-demand adult video.”

Pornhub Premium's ad campaign has sparked an international incident. Cheese producers in Italy are not pleased.

Pornhub Premium’s ad campaign has sparked an international incident. Cheese producers in Italy are not pleased.

Or not.

The publicity campaign introducing the adult entertainment service has already caused one international incident. The Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese Consortium is weighing legal action against Pornhub after referring to their aged family friendly Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in the same sentence as “that vulgar website.”

The European Union and Italian authorities both protect the image of the consortium’s dairy products, so there could be trouble. The cheese group wants Pornhub to immediately stop capitalizing on the fame of Parmigiano-Reggiano to pitch “vile” porn videos.

The dispute threatens to become far worse than the Spaghetti Scandal of 1957, when Italian authorities were on fire after the BBC aired a hoax story suggesting spaghetti was harvested from trees. Adding to the outrage – many in northern Europe believed the report was true.

Then there are the other objections, of course.

“Pornhub Premium is unlimited filth and degradation, a new low,” came an anonymous comment from a Florida resident who claimed he was a pastor.

California Court Tosses Byron Allen’s Racial Discrimination Lawsuit Against Comcast, TWC



Citing tissue-thin evidence to prove the allegation Comcast and Time Warner Cable conspired to racially discriminate against minority-owned cable channels, a California judge dismissed a $20 billion lawsuit brought by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios Networks.

Allen accused Comcast and Time Warner Cable of creating minority interest cable networks that were actually owned by white ex-cable executives and hedge fund operators. Allen charged Comcast with seeking to pass the minority networks off as fulfillment of a diversity agreement Comcast had with federal officials as a condition of approving the 2010 merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal.

Allen also claimed Comcast “brazenly stated that it does not want to create any more black billionaires, such as Bob Johnson, the African-American founder of Black Entertainment Television.” Allen also referred to Sharpton as “Comcast’s least expensive negro.”

Allen widened the list of defendants to include several minority groups that have close ties to Comcast, including Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, the NAACP, and the Urban League. All of the named defendants are regular promoters of Comcast’s ventures and business interests in letters to regulators.

U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. found Allen’s case less than compelling and dismissed it outright, ruling it lacked enough verifiable facts to show his court has jurisdiction over the defendants and lacked sufficient evidence to prove liability.

The ruling did not seem to bother Allen much.

“Knowing that our lawsuit helped the FCC and the DOJ deny Comcast’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable is already a big win for us,” said Allen in a statement. “We are going to immediately appeal this decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals who I believe will deliver us a favorable decision.”

Comcast and the other defendants called the lawsuit offensive, frivolous and outlandish.

Comcast’s Collection Calls Hound Woman for 9 Months Over $527 Bill She Already Paid

comcastA Philadelphia woman is suing Comcast after its collections department allegedly placed automated calls to her personal cell number once or twice a day for almost nine months to collect a past due cable bill she says was paid in 2011.

Kim Elder and her attorney Craig Thor Kimmel from Kimmel & Silverman, P.C., are seeking a refund for the per-minute cell charges incurred answering Comcast’s collection calls, damages of $500 per call for violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), triple damages of $1,500 per call due to Comcast’s “malicious, intentional, willful, reckless, wanton, disregard” of Elder’s rights, as well as additional injunctive relief if the court finds Comcast’s actions egregious.

James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse - Philadelphia, Pa.

James A. Byrne U.S. Courthouse – Philadelphia, Pa.

Elder’s lawsuit states the automated collection calls began in September 2014, always beginning with a pre-recorded announcement stating the call was originating from Comcast. The call would then be transferred to a collection agent seeking payment for a $527 cable television bill. The complaint states Elder paid that bill years ago and repeatedly asked Comcast to stop the calls, but claims they continued daily through at least mid-June of this year.

First enacted in 1991, the TCPA (among other things) regulates telemarketing calls, the use of automated equipment to make calls, use of automated or pre-recorded voices during calls and the means and manner of sending faxes. Ongoing clarifications by the Federal Communications Commission over the years have tightened the rules to close or curtail loopholes and give consumers easier ways to revoke consent for future calls.

A lawsuit decided earlier this month found Time Warner Cable liable to a Texas woman for almost $230,000 in damages for repeatedly calling the wrong number to reach another customer. Because part of the call was automated, and Time Warner did not stop the calls after being asked, a judge used damage provisions in the TCPA to heavily fine the cable company.

Elder’s case was filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia — home to both Elder and Comcast’s corporate headquarters.

Cases of this type are usually required to be designated for arbitration within the court system to guarantee a speedy civil trial if Comcast does not privately settle with Elder and her attorney.

An AT&T Emergency Generator Left On for Weeks Drives San Jose Family Out of Their Home

Phillip Dampier July 8, 2015 AT&T, Consumer News, HissyFitWatch, Video No Comments
U-verse cabinets often make the evening news when they are plunked down in your front yard. With statewide video franchise laws, you and your local community leaders no longer have a say.

U-verse cabinets often make the evening news when they are plunked down in your front yard, as this report from North Carolina shows.

A drunk driver that managed to take out one of AT&T’s “lawn refrigerators” powering its U-verse service in San Jose was the start of a four-week nightmare for a family driven from their home by a loud, polluting emergency generator left running by the phone company 24 hours a day.

AT&T responded to the accident scene after half the neighborhood lost service. Technicians installed a replacement green lawn box and fired up an emergency generator to restore service until Pacific Gas & Electric could arrive to hook up regular power to the AT&T box.

And then nothing happened… for weeks.

Emily White’s home on New Jersey Ave was treated to nearly a month of continuous generator noise and fumes that made staying in the house impossible.

“We could smell the exhaust in our house and the noise was just endless and loud,” White told KGO-TV. “It vibrated the windows, we couldn’t use our backyard, we went away on the weekends just to get away from it.”

The family ended up canceling their Father’s Day barbecue and left for an area hotel, regularly calling AT&T to try to get them to deal with the generator but had no response. But it turned out they may have called the wrong company to complain.

Nearly a month after the accident, PG&E trucks arrived to finally restore power to AT&T’s equipment. They also assumed full responsibility for the delay.

“We could have and should have done better by this customer. We want to do a deeper dive into why the work took so long,” PG&E spokesperson Nicole Liebelt said.

The electric company is also picking up the cost of the family’s hotel stay.

KGO-TV reports PG&E may have been the guilty party for leaving an AT&T emergency generator up and running for nearly a month. (2:11)

Shameless Morning Joe/MSNBC Puff Piece on Comcast Founder Ralph Roberts

Phillip Dampier June 25, 2015 Comcast/Xfinity, Consumer News, HissyFitWatch, Video 3 Comments


Although perhaps understandable that MSNBC (owned by Comcast) would report on the death Ralph Roberts, the founder of America’s largest cable operator, some thought Joe Scarborough went too far in a nearly seven minute puff piece about Roberts on Morning Joe, recounting the history of Comcast and its founder.

“Tupelo, Mississippi. That was our introduction to the cable business,” Roberts said. “I didn’t pay too much attention to Tupelo because I didn’t know anything about cable — I didn’t even know what it was. And Tupelo, nobody ever heard of that except I later found out it was the birthplace of Elvis Presley.”

Scarborough was very friendly about Comcast, calling it “a family” he was proud to work for.

Roberts went on to say he raised his kids to go forth and do whatever gives them the greatest happiness and don’t worry about what anyone says about it.

“I wanted to throw up,” said Stop the Cap! reader Joe Weigel. “Comcast is a family, but so are the ‎Gambinos, the ‎Bonannos and the ‎Luccheses. Maybe that goes a little far and I feel bad when anyone passes away and hold nothing against the patriarch of the Roberts family on this sad occasion. But what the hell is NBC News thinking running a seven minute puff piece about the founder of the most-hated corporation in America without bothering to mention that fact? I’m more angry about that than anything.”

“They have all that airtime and tell a very one-sided tale about a family whose ethics in the cable business is frankly to do whatever gives them the greatest happiness and not worry about what anyone says about it,” Weigel adds. “That isn’t news and it’s shameful for a news channel to discard any standards in journalism and produce a story that doesn’t even try to tell the whole story. Viewers deserved better.”

Roberts died June 18th. He was 95.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/MSNBC Comcast Lovefest 6-25-15.mp4

Morning Joe aired a very gracious piece about the founder of the most-hated corporation in America. Ralph Roberts founded Comcast in 1963. He died last week at the age of 95. MSNBC is wholly owned by Comcast. (6:49)

Illinois Supreme Court Orders Comcast to Reveal Identity of Anonymous Comment Troll

troll sprayComcast must reveal the identity of its broadband subscriber who left an anonymous comment on the Freeport Journal Standard’s website that suggested a political candidate was a child molester.

The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed a local court ruling that compels Comcast to name the writer known as “Fuboy” and share that information with Bill Hadley, who ran for a seat on the Stephenson County board in 2011.

In response to a story about Hadley, “Fuboy” anonymously attacked the candidate in a comment attached to the story:

“Hadley is a Sandusky waiting to be exposed,” the commenter wrote. “Check out the view he has of Empire (Elementary School) from his front door.”

Sandusky is an apparent reference to former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky, convicted of child sexual abuse in 2012.

Hadley spent three and a half years and more than $30,000 pursuing the identity of the commenter. Hadley is a retired Illinois corrections officer and chairman of the county board.

“It’ll be a huge victory for me, but it has practically broke me financially,” Hadley told the Associated Press.

At the heart of the case is whether a person is allowed to make potentially libelous comments anonymously on an online forum. Multiple court rulings in Illinois suggest there is no guarantee of privacy if those comments defame another.

“There are folks who go through life thinking that the Internet provides permanent anonymous protection. This case makes clear that that’s not true,” said Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association.

Atlanta Reporter Discovers the Insidious World of ALEC, Gets Thrown Out of His Hotel Room

Chatham County Sheriff's Deputy O'Berry ejects a WXIA-TV news crew from a Savannah, Ga. hotel room at the direction of a senior official of the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Chatham County Sheriff’s Deputy O’Berry ejects a WXIA-TV news crew from a Savannah, Ga. hotel room at the direction of a senior official of the American Legislative Exchange Council. (Image: WXIA-TV)

When an Atlanta news crew from WXIA-TV asked questions about a closed-door meeting involving Georgia lawmakers, wireless industry lobbyists, and the American Legislative Exchange Council, Bill Meierling, vice president of communications for ALEC, directed four armed sheriff’s deputies to kick the news crew out of their hotel rooms and escort them to the street.

“I am a guest of the hotel, sir,” WXIA reporter Brendan Keefe told Chatham County sheriff’s deputy A. O’Berry.

“Not for long, we’ll take care of that,” responded O’Berry.

“Are we violating a law here?” Keefe asked another deputy who told them to gather their belongings.

“Don’t say nothing,” O’Berry told the other deputy.

“To protect Republicans and serve giant corporations,” said Atlanta resident Larry Jefferson, who tipped us off. “To watch a hack from ALEC wave his arm and see armed deputies throw a reporter who paid for his room out of a hotel for just asking questions should wake up every American about where this country has gone.”

In a resort hotel in Savannah, the newest crop of bills likely to end up before Georgia lawmakers are being written by corporate lobbyists for introduction by friendly legislators willing to do their bidding.

At ALEC’s Communications & Technology Task Force Luncheon, Keefe spotted Rep. Ben Harmon hobnobbing with a lobbyist for CTIA, the giant wireless lobby. When he approached Harmon, Keefe was pulled out of the room. He soon found Meierling in the lobby being watched over by four off duty Chatham County deputies paid to protect ALEC’s event.

“Turn off the camera,” Meierling demanded.

alec-logo-smWhen Keefe refused, Meierling told him he was going to have him thrown out of the hotel.

Keefe persisted and asked who was paying for the legislators to attend. “Lobbyists?” Keefe asked.

“No,” Meierling replied.

Unfortunately for Meierling, looser lips from an unidentified New England legislator and two lobbyists in the hotel bar the night before suggested otherwise. One lobbyist admitted she paid a higher fee to be there to help subsidize legislators’ travel expenses.



When confronted with that information, Meierling sighed deeply and waved over the officers to do their duty… to ALEC.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” Deputy O’Berry immediately demanded as he walked up to the reporter. He was uninterested in the fact Keefe was a paid guest at the hotel. Keefe and WXIA had to go, to protect the interests and the secrecy of a group that is responsible for writing many state laws across the country.

“It’s a corporate bill mill,” said former ALEC member Sen. Nan Orreck. “The truth be told, they write the bills.”

“There are votes taken that have the corporate folks at the same table voting with the legislators on what bills to pick and that at its core just screams out inappropriate,” Orreck said. She left the group.

For the convenience of legislators, ALEC model bills come to their desks already written. All a legislator has to do is fill in the name of his or her state on a blank line and the bill is ready for introduction. To help educate lawmakers about the hot button issues bothering America’s largest corporations, ALEC’s legislative members — almost all Republicans — are paid “scholarships” in the thousands of dollars to attend resort meetings.

David Ralston, the speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives, even penned a fundraising letter on ALEC letterhead looking for $5,000 contributions to send fellow lawmakers to ALEC’s annual meetings.

“O’Berry and those other deputies should be suspended, fired, and then thrown in jail for dereliction of duty,” Jefferson believes. “These deputies either don’t know or don’t care about the law, something O’Berry was well aware of when he told another deputy to keep his mouth shut.”

“ALEC exists to subvert our democracy and any identified member of this group in public office should no longer be there.”

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WXIA Atlanta ALEC -- The Backroom Where Laws Are Born 5-20-15.mp4

WXIA-TV in Atlanta introduces viewers to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that can summon sheriff’s deputies to toss a reporter out of a hotel where he was a paid guest just for asking too many embarrassing questions. (6:31)

HissyFitWatch: New Hampshire Town Declares War on Comcast: “On a Scale of 1-10, Comcast is a Zero”

comcast gunThe community of Hampton Falls, N.H., was first settled in the year 1638 but many of the 2,200 residents of the New England town are settling for Comcast no more.

Selectmen of Hampton Falls called on Comcast to send a representative to their meeting after scores of locals complained about the awfulness of the local cable company.

“Comcast’s service is absolutely miserable,” said Hampton Falls vice-chairman Larry Smith. “On a scale of 1-10, I’d say it’s a zero.”

Smith shared a personal experience about his wife’s attempt to shift her business email to her residential account. Comcast repeatedly sent her to the wrong department.

“This is designed to be the worst system possible,” Smith said. “It’s a virtual monopoly. Comcast doesn’t reward or honor loyalty. If you don’t have an hour or two to devote to it, you don’t even bother picking up the phone.”

Comcast made another local resident drive back and forth to Portsmouth three times to pick up a new router because the equipment proved defective each time.

“Everyone who knows me knows that I don’t get irate, but this ticked me off,” the customer said.

hampton fallsComcast representative Jay Somers took heat throughout the meeting for missed service calls, poor equipment, poor Internet service, and lousy customer service.

His responses did not seem to satisfy residents:

  • On missed service calls, Somers said Comcast did not provide enough technicians to handle service calls in the area. He added the company tries to have someone responding within 24 hours, but that obviously was not consistently happening in Hampton Falls;
  • On Internet outages, Somers blamed customers using their own purchased modems instead of relying on Comcast’s own Internet Gateway, which costs an extra $10 per month;
  • Television and other outages were the fault of home wiring or animals allowed to chew on Comcast’s cables.

Somers promised Comcast treated every customer the same, regardless of whether they were a budget minded customer or one taking every service they have.

While in no rush to deal with customer complaints, Comcast sent a letter signed by Nick Leuci, vice president of franchising, pressuring the town to hurry renewal of Comcast’s local franchise, despite having over a year remaining on the current agreement.

Based on the number of complaints from local residents, the board decided to take that matter up at a later date.

Wall Street Investment Bankers Start Worrying They Won’t Get Their Fat Fees if Comcast Merger Fails

merger smash

With regulators considering rejecting Comcast’s $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, investment bankers hoping to reap fat fees “advising” Comcast and Time Warner Cable about the deal are starting to panic they won’t get paid.

Although a merger flop won’t hurt giants like JPMorgan Chase, which operates a 24/7 cash vacuum, continuously sucking fees from companies engaged in Mergermania, smaller “boutique” investment banks like Allen & Co., Centerview Partners, and PJT Partners don’t have that luxury.

Reuters reports some of the smaller investment banks involved in the deal are now on edge, worried they won’t get their share of at least $140 million in investment banking advisory fees that would be paid to complete the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger deal.

“Big banks have many deals going on, and they can afford to lose one more, even though it is painful. Smaller firms are less diversified, so for them it’s much more painful,” Campbell Harvey, a professor of international business at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, told Reuters.

But crying towels are also being readied for investment bankers involved in two side deals involving Charter Communications, which are likely to also fall apart in a chain reaction if the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger dies.

dominoesCharter has deals pending with both Comcast and Time Warner Cable to launch GreatLand Connections and have plans to takeover Bright House Networks, both contingent on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger getting approval.

Those two transactions will bring another $170 million in fees to investment bankers, with JPMorgan Chane, former top Morgan Stanley banker Taubman, and Barclays Bank splitting $51-68 million in fees between the three firms.

Time Warner Cable’s own advisers are waiting for $57-75 million in fees as well, among them Morgan Stanley, Allen & Co., Citigroup, and Centerview Partners.

To understand how important the fees are to smaller bankers, Taubman was ranked 23rd in mergers & acquisitions fees in 2014. Without the Comcast deal, Taubman drops out of the top-100.

Some bankers may have negotiated a token fee to be paid by Comcast and Time Warner Cable if the deal falls apart. Most estimates suggest usual fees amount to around 10-15 percent of the amount they would collect if a merger is successfully completed.

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