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T-Mobile Increases True Unlimited to 50GB a Month Before Speed Throttling

T-Mobile today announced it was boosting the amount of data its “unlimited data” customers can use before they are subject to speed throttling from 32GB to 50GB, effective Sept. 20, 2017.

“Meanwhile, Verizon and AT&T sit at a meager 22GB, meaning Un-carrier customers can use more than 2x the data before prioritization kicks in,” wrote Neville Ray, T-Mobile’s chief technology officer. “Now, 50GB of data usage means a T-Mobile customer is basically the top 1% of data users, and to put it in context, you could stream a full two hours of Netflix every single day – that’s 30 SD movies – and never even reach that point! You’d still have roughly 8GB to go.”

Like other wireless companies, “unlimited data” does not actually mean “unlimited.” Providers allot a certain allowance of truly unlimited data which, once exceeded, subjects the customer to speed-reducing “throttles” until the next bill cycle begins. T-Mobile claims it only throttles customers when a customer exceeds their “prioritization” allowance — 50GB as of tomorrow — and the cell tower they are using is currently experiencing congestion.

“When T-Mobile customers who use the most data hit these prioritization points during the month, they get in line behind other customers who have used less data and may experience reduced speeds,” Ray wrote. “But this impacts them only very rarely, like when there is a big line, and it resets every month. If you have a lot of congestion in your network (I’m looking at you, Verizon & AT&T), these lines can be long and deprioritized customers can be waiting a long time.”

No wireless company will provide data on which cell towers are likely to experience the most congestion, how many customers are speed throttled, or what speeds customers will get for how long before the throttle usually drops. But it is definitely harder to hit 50GB than 22 or 32GB, which means fewer customers are likely to find their wireless data connections throttled.

There has been no response yet from T-Mobile’s competitors — AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

Verizon Wireless Pushes Customer to Upgrade Data Plan Before Closing His Account

Danny, who lives in eastern Hancock County, Me., was more than a little confused by his September Verizon Wireless bill.

“You haven’t had an overage yet, but you recently cut it close,” warned the wireless company. Verizon’s definition of “cutting it close” was using 7.3GB of data in June, 7GB in July, and 7.4GB in August. His data plan includes an allowance of 12GB a month, and he only used just over half of that. Despite that, Verizon Wireless recommended he “get on the right plan.” For Danny, who already spends nearly $250 a month with Verizon, that would mean an upgrade to “Beyond Unlimited,” which offers “unlimited” 4G LTE data (subject to throttling once you head north of 22GB of usage a month) and 15GB of hotspot usage. The added cost? Another $52.99 a month, taking Danny’s bill to $300 a month.

A $300 cell phone bill might be a subject of a story all on its own, but what really got Danny’s attention was a billing notice (and letter mailed separately to his home), telling him his family was being kicked off Verizon Wireless and his account would be closed Oct. 17. The reason? He was “using a significant amount of data while roaming off the Verizon Wireless network:”

The same company inviting him to spend $52 more on an unlimited data plan has now dis-invited him as a customer because it didn’t like how and where he used the existing data plan that came with his account.

“I checked all of my data usage for the past 12 months,” Danny tells Stop the Cap! “Data usage was anywhere from 3.5GB (for three lines), up to 8.5GB.  We have rollover data as part of our plan (previous month of unused data rolls over to the next month). One month we used 16GB (that was the month that we drove to Texas and back), but still never went over the data we had available.”

Danny’s family uses their phones primarily in eastern Hancock County, a well-recognized trouble spot for cell phone dead zones until Wireless Partners, an independent cell tower owner/operator, partnered with Verizon Wireless to construct new cell towers using spectrum acquired by Verizon. Many of the cell sites were specifically designed to reach Downeast Maine, home to a number of small communities — some drawing tourists in the summer and others not. Wireless Partners’ new towers concentrated improved coverage along the Route 1 corridor between Ellsworth and Calais, and the Route 9 corridor known to the locals as the Airline — from Calais to Aurora, communities mostly east of Bangor on roads that take visitors to communities like Bar Harbor, right on the coast, or all the way to the New Brunswick border.

Downeast Maine

In this part of Maine, customers have to choose their cellular provider carefully because no company offers solid coverage in every community in the region. Those living in more tourist-focused communities or cities on the coast or one of the offshore islands often select U.S. Cellular, a regional carrier that has accepted millions of federal dollars from the Universal Service Fund to expand service. U.S. Cellular has added towers in communities like Bangor, Lewiston-Auburn, Ellsworth and the Presque Isle-Houlton area. But in many smaller towns, U.S. Cellular reception often disappears. The other two providers — Verizon Wireless and AT&T — focus most of their attention on cities like Portland, Augusta and Bangor, and along I-95 and in popular tourist areas on the coast.

“Unlike in many other states, if you choose the wrong carrier in Maine, you get absolutely no reception at home and perhaps one bar, if you are lucky, while on the road going to work or doing errands,” said Mike Fastler, a lifelong resident. “More than anywhere else I know, people here talk to their neighbors about what cell company works for them, and in a lot of towns almost everyone relies on the same company because it is the only one that delivers good reception.”

Fastler says in large parts of Downeast Maine east of I-95, Verizon Wireless has recently been the most solid, primarily because its network has been supplemented with towers built by Wireless Partners, which has prioritized improving cell reception around the inland areas of Washington and Hancock counties. The customers most likely of being booted by Verizon Wireless are customers that live and/or work in these two counties.

Customers like Danny have no idea Verizon considers them roaming abusers because when using cell towers run by Wireless Partners, Verizon devices show reception as part of Verizon’s home LTE network. No roaming indicators appear at all. But Verizon must still pay Wireless Partners when their customers use the third-party company’s cell towers. Verizon’s interpretation of its customer agreement allows it to terminate customers found roaming excessively. The question is, is 7GB of usage on a cell tower network built to augment Verizon Wireless’ coverage area be defined as “excessive.”

Verizon thinks so, telling Ars Technica:

“These customers live outside of areas where Verizon operates our own network,” Verizon said. “Many of the affected consumer lines use a substantial amount of data while roaming on other providers’ networks and the roaming costs generated by these lines exceed what these consumers pay us each month.”

But Danny and many other affected readers tell us their usage is well below 10GB a month. Some customers received termination notices and use an average of only 3GB a month and live near a Wireless Partners tower.

“It seems highly unlikely Verizon Wireless is incurring costs that are exceeding customers’ bills,” adds Fastler, who is also scheduled to be canceled on Oct. 17. “I used 1.5GB in August and never came close to hitting 5GB on our account over the last two years and I am being shut off.”

Fastler tried to sign up as a new Verizon Wireless customer with his wife to escape the account closure, but Verizon Wireless’ crackdown is complete and the company has at least temporarily stopped accepting new customers in areas where its third-party cell tower operators provide service.

“Give them your zip code and if it is in an affected area the system kicks the order out and won’t accept it,” reports Fastler.

Jason Sulham, a spokesperson for Wireless Partners confirms Verizon’s order lockdown on Maine Public Radio in response to questions about just how many customers are being removed from Verizon’s network.

“Verizon is restricting any new customers in those areas, so when you talk about what that final number is, what they have indicated is a final number of current customers who have received a termination letter. However, that doesn’t take into account the number of people who are in that area that can’t even sign up as new customers for the service, which is certainly not what was part of the original intent of building this network,” Sulham says.

The crackdown on rural coverage will make life exceptionally difficult for affected customers. Maine is America’s most rural state, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, with more than 61% of the population living in communities of less than 2,500. Many of those communities are spread far apart, making cell towers difficult to place to reach the largest number of customers. Some communities have access to just one tower. Others are only partly serviced, requiring users to go outside, run up nearby hills, or take a short drive to get a single bar of reception. That is why Verizon’s news has hit this part of Maine so hard.

For many locals, Wireless Partners solved a problem Verizon itself wouldn’t solve, and stronger cell coverage came as a result. Now Verizon threatens to recreate the original problem, and by limiting access to its partner networks, it could throw those companies’ business plans into the air and make them financially untenable.

Verizon Wireless’ Great Rural Purge: Tens of Thousands Losing Cell Service

Herding rural customers off Verizon Wireless.

Nearly 20,000 rural Verizon Wireless customers in states like Maine, Michigan, North Dakota, and Montana are being notified their cell service is being terminated because they spend too much time roaming outside of a Verizon Wireless coverage area.

Verizon Wireless won’t say exactly how many customers it recently sent letters to advising them that because they have used “a significant amount of data while roaming off the Verizon Wireless network,” their service will be terminated Oct. 17.

“We’re providing advance notice to these customers so they have plenty of time to port their wireless number to another company before their Verizon Wireless service ends,” Verizon spokesperson Laura Meritt stated. “We regularly review accounts with data use that primarily takes place outside of the Verizon network.”

Verizon denies reports as many as 19,000 customers are losing service as a result of the purge, but their representatives are routinely quoting that number to customers and officials calling Verizon to complain.

Customers have no recourse and if they don’t port their number to another service provider by the termination date, their number will be disconnected and lost for good. The only good news? Verizon wants to disconnect customers so badly, they are willing to forgive the remaining owed balances for any devices financed through Verizon.

Maine

In Winter Harbor, many Verizon Wireless customers reportedly received the same letter, including the town’s police chief Danny Mitchell, who is concerned about the impact Verizon’s decision will have on local public safety.

“From a public safety standpoint, a lot of our 911 calls come in via mobile phone. And when you have less towers or less service to ping off from, then your area of location, instead of getting more specific in the location, is gonna get wider,” Mitchell told WLBZ-TV in Bangor.

Maine’s Public Advocate is concerned as well, and noted this is what happens when unfettered deregulation of telecommunications services give providers the right to terminate any customer for any reason.

“The Office of the Public Advocate is concerned about the well-being of all Maine residents,” the agency wrote. “This loss of wireless communication underscores the importance of our landline network to ensure that individuals can contact public safety officials in the event of an emergency.  Verizon’s actions raise new concerns that areas once deemed a competitive marketplace for telecommunications will once again be served only by their landline provider.  This possibility should be considered as the de-regulation of landline telephone continues throughout the state.”

Public Advocate Barry Hobbins thinks it all comes down to money.

“Because it’s not cost-effective for them, now they’re going to pull the plug — and basically pull the plug on 2,000 customers — then that becomes an issue,” he says.

The decision to terminate an estimated 2,000 customers in rural Maine alone is especially stinging to residents, public safety officials, and community leaders because they bent over backwards to get Verizon Wireless to expand its coverage area in the state.

In 2015, communities in Washington and eastern Hancock counties joined forces to make life easier for Verizon in return for expansion of cell service in the region, quickly approving more than a dozen new cell towers adjacent to well-traveled Routes 1 and 9.

Mitchell said residents are more than a little annoyed that Verizon is kicking them off after all that they’ve done for the company.

In 2015, the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) insured, at the public’s expense, a $3.4 million loan for Wireless Partners, LLC of Portland to enhance Verizon’s 4G LTE network with up to 32 new cell towers for those counties.

FAME Board Chair Raymond Nowak said at the time, “It is our hope that the planned communication improvements by Wireless Partners will support business expansion, emergency services, and the tourism industry in Maine. Such partnerships are a key part of FAME’s strategy to support infrastructure that enables the success of other businesses.”

“We are pleased to be partnering with FAME and Mechanics Savings Bank on this important project,” added Bob Parsloe, president and CEO of Wireless Partners, LLC. “This project will make it possible for people who live, work and recreate in Downeast Maine to have reliable 4G LTE broadband and voice cellular service that allows them to be connected like the rest of the world.”

Not anymore.

“[People are] going to come out their door every day, look at a cellphone tower and say, ‘Hey, I can’t connect to that because Verizon won’t let me,’” Mitchell said.

Letter from Verizon Wireless terminating service for “excessive roaming.”

In fact, Verizon Wireless customers who don’t live in the area, along with customers of other wireless companies who happen to be roaming while traveling, will be able to use those cell towers while former local Verizon Wireless customers cannot.

Law enforcement and public safety officials feel a little bait-and-switched by the decision.

Sheriff Curtis

Washington County Sheriff Barry Curtis says his department is still trying to wrap their heads around what Verizon Wireless is doing. But he seems confident it could adversely affect the department’s ability to stay in touch with law enforcement officials and respond quickly to calls. The decision could, in his view, set back the county several years.

“It’s kind of difficult sitting in this seat as far as being the sheriff here,” he says. “I’m in contact with the commissioners. I’m hoping that they’re going to be stepping up to the plate here, assisting us in this too — filing their complaints. We’re going to need all the help we can get here.”

With a chorus of complaints across rural Maine, officials at Wireless Partners have launched their own damage control effort to point the finger of blame at Verizon Wireless, and claim they had no idea the wireless company was pulling the plug on so many customers.

“Access to 4G LTE is an essential 21st century infrastructure need and it is the mission of Wireless Partners to meet that need in rural, underserved areas of Maine and New Hampshire,” said Wireless Partners CEO Bob Parsloe. “To that end, Wireless Partners built, owns, operates, and is expanding a Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network in Downeast Maine. Along with our network users, we were blindsided to learn that Verizon Wireless mailed subscription cancellation notices to their customers on this network. Wireless Partners was not given advance warning that Verizon Wireless was planning to restrict new customers nor terminate existing customers. We were only made aware of this development from concerned Verizon Wireless customers who were in receipt of the cancellation notification.”

Parsloe did hint at what is motivating Verizon to drop its own customers.

“Verizon Wireless did ask Wireless Partners to assist them in reducing the contractually agreed costs of using our networks,” Parsloe added. “Wireless Partners promptly informed Verizon that it was ready to address their concerns. At no point during this dialogue, which continues in earnest, did Verizon Wireless indicate to us their intent to restrict new customers and cancel current customers.”

Maine’s Public Advocate believes Verizon’s resumption of its unlimited data plan is probably costing the company more than it anticipated in roaming data charges levied by third party cooperating providers like Wireless Partners. In rural areas, private companies and independent providers often lease their networks to larger cellular companies like Verizon to enhance rural coverage and avoid exposing customers to punitive roaming charges. As far as customers are aware, they are using Verizon’s home network and there are no indications on their devices they are roaming.

Hobbins adds Verizon is doing this “all over the country” and residents in Maine — with large expanses of rural areas, are just among the first to react. But it annoys him that Verizon is implying in its letters that customers are doing something wrong. In fact, he says, they were simply using the service plan that Verizon sold them.

“It appears that Verizon induced these companies to build out in the rural areas around the country and then significantly promoted it by saying that they’re covering the rural areas when it fact now after putting those ads out, they’re now not covering the rural areas — in fact, they’re cutting it back,” Hobbins said.

Michigan

Tuscola County, Mich.

In mid-Michigan, customers are also getting termination letters from Verizon Wireless. In Tuscola County, Frank Rouse says he routinely spends $275 a month on four lines with Verizon Wireless and has been a customer for years. But Verizon is kicking him to the curb.

“I was pretty livid. I called customer service and I wasn’t real pleasant with them,” Rouse said, claiming he was furious when he opened the letter. “Why not do something proactive and maybe put up a tower in the area or something to keep the customers and draw in new customers.”

Mid-Michigan residents already have just a few choices for cell service, and now there is one fewer.

For Jamie Hay, it isn’t all bad news. He will lose his Verizon Wireless account but scored more than $3,600 in free phones and tablets he acquired for his family of six just two weeks before getting the letter.

“I made one payment and now I get to keep everything for free because Verizon is closing my account, voiding my payment plans and reporting all devices as now effectively paid in full,” Hay tells Stop the Cap! “Thanks to every other Verizon Wireless customer for covering my fabulous new phones and iPad!”

WNEM-TV in Michigan reports some customers are furious about being terminated by Verizon Wireless, and the company isn’t saying much. (1:32)

North Dakota

SRT Communications’ coverage map in North Dakota.

At least several hundred customers were notified across North Dakota that their Verizon Wireless service would also be terminated on Oct. 17. For many, once Verizon is no longer an option, cell service is no longer an option. Customers tell Stop the Cap! northern parts of the state are already reeling from North Dakota-based SRT Communications’ decision to exit the wireless business after 20 years. The company said it can no longer compete against larger companies like AT&T and Verizon and lack the resources to continue upgrades.

Customers are being encouraged to switch to Verizon Wireless, and Verizon has bought SRT’s spectrum and promised to improve coverage as part of the deal. But now some customers have been told they will not be able to keep their SRT service or Verizon Wireless much longer.

Montana
“Dropped like a bad habit,” as he put it, Kyle Wasson is among an unknown number of Verizon Wireless customers in Montana losing their Verizon service on Oct. 17.

Wasson, who was nearing a decade as a Verizon Wireless customer, is now no longer wanted, according to the letter he received: “We will no longer offer service for the numbers listed above since your primary place of use is outside the Verizon Wireless network” and “we discovered you are using a significant amount of data while roaming off the Verizon Wireless network.”

Northern Montana

Wasson had switched to Verizon’s unlimited data plan which he suspects might have had something to do with Verizon’s decision. Wasson doesn’t have many options in the town of Loring, 15 miles south of the Canadian border.

Neither does Brandi Horn in Harlem or Sue Hagen of Scobey — also told their Verizon service was being terminated next month.

“There is no better service in rural Montana than Verizon,” Horn said. “It’s going to be hard finding an affordable and high-coverage service now.”

LTE in Rural America (LRA) Program Implicated in Disconnections

Observers suspect the crackdown on rural roaming is primarily affecting customers served by the 21 partners Verizon has enrolled in its (LRA) program.

Under the program, LRA members lease Verizon’s 700MHz Upper C Block spectrum. Partners have access to Verizon’s network vendors and discounts and can sell the same equipment Verizon offers its customers in their stores. But the 21 companies are responsible for financing and building their own networks and can sell service independent of Verizon. In return, Verizon customers can “roam” on those networks as if they were still within Verizon’s home network. Verizon’s partners gain access to resources to build out their own LTE 4G networks and have a certain amount of effectively guaranteed traffic from Verizon customers in their service areas.

Verizon has leased out LTE spectrum covering 225,000 square miles in 169 rural counties in 15 different states. The company said more than 1,000 LTE cell sites have been built and switched on through the program, covering 2.7 million people.

But Verizon does not have the capacity to throttle or deprioritize traffic on third-party networks, meaning customers enrolled in an unlimited data plan can use as much data as they want on partner networks. There is a strong likelihood Verizon has to compensate those providers at premium rates for network traffic generated by their customers.

That means customers are at the highest risk of being disconnected if they are on an unlimited data plan and use their Verizon devices in areas served by these providers — all participants in the LRA program:

Bluegrass Cellular; Cross Telephone; Pioneer Cellular; Cellcom; Thumb Cellular; Strata Networks; S and R Communications; Carolina West; Custer Telephone Cooperative; KPU Telecommunications; Chariton Valley Communication Corporation; Appalachian Wireless; Northwest Missouri Cellular; Chat Mobility; Matanuska Telephone Association; Wireless Partners; Triangle Communications; Nemont; Mid-Rivers Communications and Copper Valley Telecom.

“But You Promised!”: AT&T Upsets Wall Street With B1G1 iPhone Price War

Phillip Dampier September 13, 2017 AT&T, Competition, Wireless Broadband 2 Comments

Wall Street analysts are warning their institutional investors AT&T has broken its promise to end price wars on smartphones with the announcement it will offer a free iPhone 8/8+ with the purchase of another, as long as customers also subscribe to DirecTV.

The promotion breaks a truce among wireless carriers to stop heavily discounting smartphones and other devices in bids to win over subscribers. The deal could cost AT&T between $700-800 per promotion participant, before any dealer discounts are applied. AT&T has not said whether the promotion will also extend to Apple’s ultra-deluxe iPhone X, which starts at $999. It will apply to other phones AT&T offers in its retail stores and online.

AT&T is looking to boost subscriber numbers for DirecTV and get its wireless customers to bundle television service with their phone plan. Getting a customer to commit to a term committed DirecTV subscription, especially if they have not subscribed in the past, is a high hurdle to overcome, but a free iPhone may be enough for some to take AT&T up on its offer. AT&T will even sweeten the deal with an iPad for an additional $99.99, if the customer signs a two-year wireless contract.

The promotion starts this Friday and is the first of what could be several aggressive offers targeting iPhone fans. The popular Apple device attracts scores of high income customers wireless carriers desperately want on their networks. In 2016, a vicious cutthroat price war started by T-Mobile soon dragged in almost every wireless carrier and cost at least $200 per customer in margins.

So far, T-Mobile has avoided a similar offer, content with offering customers up to $300 in trade-in-credit for iPhone 6 or newer smartphones in good condition. That credit can be spent on the iPhone 8/8+ or iPhone X. Verizon has a similar offer. Sprint is offering a “half-off lease” for the iPhone 8/8+ if a customer trades in their iPhone 7 in good condition.

Wall Street worries about equipment promotions because it can challenge carriers’ cash on hand and cut into profit margins. Since rate plans are no longer adjusted upwards to recoup the cost of the promotion, the provider has to eat the expense.

As Battery Backup and Generators Fail, New Telecom Outages Across Florida

Unattended generators that have run out of fuel and exhausted battery backup systems are causing additional service outages for telephone and wireless customers in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Although the last remnants of Hurricane Irma are now a mild rainmaker moving into the Ohio Valley, the impact of the storm at its peak is still being felt across the southeast, and some customers are surprised to discover new outages even as providers work to restore service in the region.

Data from the Federal Communications Commission and from impacted providers indicate that new cell towers are failing because backup generators have now run out of fuel. Technicians often cannot reach the cell tower sites to refill generator fuel tanks because of driving restrictions and inaccessible roads. The worst outages continue in rural parts of Florida, the Florida Keys, the U.S. Virgin Islands and parts of Puerto Rico.

Most of the telecommunications network failures are a result of power interruptions. Most cell towers are able to withstand hurricane force winds and short-term flooding, and underground fiber connectivity between the tower and the provider means failures from trees falling on utility poles is not usually a problem. In most cases, once power returns, cell towers will return to service almost immediately.

Wireline facilities in Florida are not faring as well, however.

911 Call Centers

Since yesterday, the FCC reports 29 emergency 911 call centers are down or compromised, up from 27 a day earlier:

In Florida:

Down with no re-routes: Homestead Air Force, Marathon County SO, and Ocean Reef

Up without Automatic Caller Location Information (ALI): Cape Coral PD, Collier County EOC, Ft. Myers Police Department, Hardee County Back Up, Hardee County Sheriff, Highlands County Sheriff, Lee County Emergency Dispatch Center EOC, Lee County Sheriff, and Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Department

911 Calls Re-routed with ALI: Atlantic Beach PD, Belle Glade PD, Broward County South Region, Indian River SO, Manalapan PD, Miami Beach PD, Neptune Beach PD, Sanibel Police Department, and St. Augustine PD

911 Calls Re-routed without ALI: Big Cypress Indian Reservation, Clewiston Police Department, Desoto County Sheriff, Glades County Sheriff, Glades County Sheriff Back Up, Hendry County Sheriff, Lee County Backup, and Naples PD

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, the 911 call centers in St. Croix and St. Thomas cannot locate callers and calls from Voice over IP phone lines do not provide the number the person is calling from.

Wireless

As of Sept. 12, the worst affected areas with cell towers out of service:

Cell tower on wheels

Alabama: Less than 1% of cell sites in the disaster area are out of service — two of the 87 cell sites in Henry County are offline.

Florida: 24.6% (down from 27.4% yesterday) of all cell sites in the state are out of service. The worst affected counties:

  • Collier: Out of 212 sites, 154 are out of service (72.6%)
  • Hendry: 36 of the county’s 46 cell sites are down (78.3%)
  • Highlands: 43 of 80 cell towers are out of service (53.8%)
  • Monroe: 89 of 108 cell towers are out of service (82.4%). Much of Monroe County is in the Florida Keys.
  • Union:  Seven of 13 cell sites are not functioning. (53.8%)

Georgia: 10.5% of cell sites in the designated disaster area are out of service. Wilkes County is hardest hit, with one of the county’s two sites out of service. Other significantly affected counties include: Glynn (26.2%), Camden (17.4%), Mitchell (14.7%), Brooks (14%), and Colquitt (12.2%).

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico: 14.5% (down from 19.4% yesterday) of cell sites are out of service.

U.S. Virgin Islands: 53.8% (down from 55.1%) of cell sites are out of service.

Wireline (Cable and Telephone)

There are at least 7,184,909 (down from 7,597,945 yesterday) subscribers out of service in the affected areas in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. This includes users who get service from cable or wireline providers.

A massive spike in landline central office failures was also documented yesterday, with service outages at switching centers up from 390 yesterday to 819 today in Florida.

Customer complaints are starting to rise based on early predictions that once power was restored, telecommunications services would quickly follow. That has not always been the case in South Florida, however.

Comcast’s Wi-Fi hotspots are all functioning normally, as long as there is internet service in the neighborhood. But home broadband outages are common, especially in coastal areas and in the Florida Keys. Where power is out, Comcast services go out with it. Getting service back requires first restoring power.

“As of Tuesday morning, we have been able to restore power to some but not all of the equipment that services customers in the Miami-metro area. We are working very closely with Florida Power and Light so they can prioritize these critical facilities and restore commercial power service to them as quickly as possible,” said Mindy Kramer, a Comcast spokesperson. “Our facilities in South Florida have been running on generators since the storm began and unfortunately everyone is need of the same fuel resources. We have been doing our best to refuel these generators so that our facilities are able to stay functioning without commercial power. We have teams deploying additional generators today in South Florida.”

Comcast has a website for customers to report storm impact issues: https://www.xfinity.com/florida.

AT&T U-verse customer Ron Dias in Southwest Miami-Dade lost his bundled services — TV, Internet and digital home phone — Saturday and they are all still out, even though his power was restored Monday. He wants answers.

“I wish they would tell us what is going on. This is the information age,” he told the Miami Herald.

AT&T is treating its outage and restoration information as a proprietary trade secret, much to the frustration of customers like Dias.

AT&T issued the same statement to media outlets:

“In Florida, South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia some [U-verse] customers may be experiencing issues with their service because of flooding and storm damage. Our technicians are working to restore service to affected areas as quickly and safely as conditions allow. Our Network Disaster Recovery team is deploying portable cell sites to the Florida Keys, Miami and Tallahassee. Additionally we are deploying an electronic communication vehicle, command center and a hazmat team to Miami. We have additional resources being staged for further deployment across the region. We are monitoring our network closely and are coordinating with emergency management officials and local utility companies.”

AT&T stages repair crews to deal with Hurricane Irma.

The newspaper quoted Reginald Andre, president of Ark Solvers, a company that manages computer services for condominiums and other businesses, who estimated about 80 percent of his 240 business customers are experiencing outages with either Atlantic Broadband — many of them Miami Beach condominiums — Comcast’s XFINITY or AT&T U-verse, he said. Many have their business’ phone services through the internet too. “If the internet is down, their phones are down.”

Atlantic Broadband, which serves some high-end gated communities, condos and exclusive enclaves in South Florida notes most of its customers lost service during the hurricane, but the company has already restored service to 25% of its customers.

“Atlantic Broadband’s restoration workforce is currently mobilized in Florida and our network and facilities are intact. We have assembled additional response teams from across all Atlantic Broadband operating locations to support these efforts. As commercial power is restored and downed drops are cleared, Atlantic Broadband will be moving briskly to restore services to its customers,” the company said in a written statement.

Frontier Communications, which serves some small Florida communities as well as former Verizon service areas in Florida, has said little about the storm or its recovery efforts, except to ask customers to call the company if their services are not working after power is restored.

Verizon has announced it is relieving itself of all liabilities for Hurricane Harvey and Irma-related outages:

We must also declare a Force Majeure event for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to the extent that there is any delay or inability by Verizon or its vendors to provide services. Under Verizon’s Service Guide and customer contracts, this declaration relieves Verizon of liability that would otherwise result from any such delays or non-performance.

Verizon Wireless reports 90% of its cell towers in Florida and 97% in Georgia are in service.

Free text messages sent to AT&T and Verizon customers in storm-affected areas. Verizon has extended its offer until Sept. 15.

“Many of those cell sites are running on backup power as designed for reliability, and massive refueling operations are underway to ensure those sites without commercial power continue in service for our customers and first responders,” the company said on its website. “We continue to assess the impact across Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and mobile equipment and personnel have been moved into impacted areas. This week we will begin deploying Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) to survey sites and assess antennae and tower damage. Repairs to impacted network facilities are well underway, and in many cases already complete. We are in contact with federal, state and local emergency management teams and are coordinating communication needs and efforts with them.”

Verizon is also extending its “data relief” offer until Sept. 15 in storm-affected areas. The initial offer began just after midnight on Sept. 9. Verizon is giving postpaid customers talk, text and data overage relief while prepaid customers receive an extra 3GB of data. To see if you qualify, see: Postpaid customer list of qualifying counties or Prepaid customer list of qualifying counties.

Sprint claims: “Progress is being made to the Sprint network as commercial power is gradually restoring across Florida. Sprint has fixed generators at our sites which are helping to provide service to some customers. Additionally, our network crews continue to assess any damage, refuel generators, and work to restore wireless service to customers who may be impacted. As it becomes safe, we will continue to deploy more crews, portable generators and satellite trucks providing temporary wireless coverage across the area. We are reminding people to continue to use text messaging rather than voice calling to help relieve network resources.”

Sprint is waiving all text, call and data overage fees for Sprint, BoostMobile and Virgin Mobile customers in Florida through September 15, 2017, and extending the same previously announced waived overage fees for customers in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands through September 15, 2017. Fees will be proactively waived during the specified timeframe. Customers on Unlimited plans will continue to enjoy their unlimited data, call and text benefits. The company will also waive all international call and text overage fees for Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile customers in the U.S. to the Bahamas, and roaming voice and text overage charges for Sprint customers in the Bahamas, effective today through September, 15, 2017. Customers can sign in to their My Sprint account to enable international calling before attempting to make a call. They can also chat with a Sprint International Representative. Customers may cancel international calling at any time following the effective period.

T-Mobile is making it free to call and text from the United States to the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. T-Mobile will also waive roaming fees on calls and texts for customers in the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. The offer is good until Sept. 15. T-Mobile also is offering free calling/texting, as well as unlimited data, for Florida customers not on T-Mobile ONE (customers on T-Mobile ONE always have unlimited calling/texting/data). The Florida offer applies to T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers in the following area codes until Sept. 15: 239, 305, 321, 352, 386, 407, 561, 689, 727, 754, 772, 786, 813, 850, 863, 904, 941, 954.

AT&T is automatically issuing credits and waiving additional fees to give unlimited data, talk and texts to AT&T wireless customers and unlimited talk and texts to AT&T PREPAID customers. This is effective beginning Sept. 8 across all of Florida and Sept. 12 in impacted Georgia counties and continuing through Sept. 17 for all impacted customers. AT&T is also extending payment dates for impacted AT&T PREPAID customers with voice and text service through Sept. 17. This applies to AT&T wireless customers with billing zip codes and AT&T PREPAID customers with billing phone numbers in all of Florida and in nearly 25 Georgia counties – Appling, Atkinson, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Candler, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Coffee, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Jeff Davis, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Tattnall, Toombs, Ware and Wayne. Customers in these areas may still receive data alert notifications during these protected dates, but billing will reflect the correct data charges.

Broadcasters

TV Stations out of service: 9 (up one from yesterday)

  • Alabama: None
  • Florida: WVFW, WGCU, WSBS (up one from yesterday)
  • Georgia: None
  • Puerto Rico: WOST, WMEI, WQQZ, and WWKQ (same as yesterday)
  • U.S. Virgin Islands: WTJX-TV and W05AWD (same as yesterday)

Radio stations out of service: 51 (up from 25 yesterday)

  • Alabama: None
  • Florida: WMFM, WAXY, WDOZ, W227CP, W250BH, W274BB, W298BO, W300CL, WAQV, WFLJ, WJFH, W251BM, WROK, WAOA- FM, WHKR, WLZR, WIOD, WOLZ, WINZ, WBTT, WCKT, WZTA, WSVU, WSWN, WOTW, WMFQ, WXUS, WYGC, W240CI, W295BJ, W233AP, WMKO, WEAT, WMFL, WWFR, WJFR, WTIR, WMYR, WCNZ, W294AN, WNWF, WEJZ, WGNE-FM, and WJGO (up 19 from yesterday)
  • Georgia: WLFH, WHFX, WBGA, WGIG, WEKL and WGCO (all added since yesterday)
  • Puerto Rico: None
  • U.S. Virgin Islands: WTJF-FM (same as yesterday)

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Recent Comments:

  • Doug: So what are they (Charter Spectrum) supposed to do? Continue repairing the sabotage? Pay for "protection?" I am certain that those customers whose ...
  • tony russo: Promo with TWC ending this week. Had Starter TV (25 channels) plus Turbo internet for $65 total. Called to see what is available and the lowest tv p...
  • FredH: ....talk about flimsy (or no) evidence.....good luck Charter, wasting our cable fees on a lawsuit they stand no chance of winning....
  • Will: I have to agree with ATT here... Can't blame cord cutters when it's just that ATT's video service is awful and customers are fleeing at the first oppo...
  • kaniki: I really do not see much changing on the Tmobile end of things.. Sprint does not have much coverage outside of Tmobiles right now, so, Tmobile would g...
  • kaniki: I would have to disagree with the "cable company" part.. I would like to see someone, more like google, get them, then a cable company.. Most cable co...
  • MAD DOG: Company really losing customers. What a shame I like it better when the Dolan was running the show. It was like a family company....
  • LG: This is what happens when you charge $150-$300 for TV. People have better things to spend their money on. TV in general is losing viewers after deca...
  • Josh: Good for them! Don't know that $500/day is remotely reasonable (how about $500,000/day?) but regardless good for them....
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  • EJ: If you don't pay they will more then likely turn it into collections and it will affect your credit. The better move is to pay them again, send a canc...
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