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DirecTV Now Up to 155 Local Channels; Showtime Available for $8/mo

Phillip Dampier September 20, 2017 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video No Comments

AT&T’s DirecTV Now is aggressively pursuing agreements to include local network stations in its online streaming platform.

This week, the company announced it added CBS and CW stations in more than 75 markets reaching over 70% of U.S. households, and now carries 155 local stations on its lineup. As part of that agreement, DirecTV Now also now offers customers the option of adding Showtime at what AT&T calls the cheapest price available from any streaming service — $8 a month. Access to the Showtime Anytime app isn’t ready yet, but will be “in the coming weeks,” claims AT&T.

Subscribers to the “Go Big” package will soon find CBS Sports Network added to their lineup. Those with at least the “Just Right” package will see Pop added as well. On Demand programming from CBS and The CW will begin in October.

Here’s the current lineup of TV markets and stations available on DirecTV Now as of late September:

“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.

Telecom Companies Prepare for Hurricane Irma

AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile are sending technicians to hundreds of cell sites across Florida to top off fuel generators, test back up batteries, and protect facilities from Hurricane Irma’s anticipated storm surge and associated flooding.

“Customers rely on us, especially during major storms,” said Joe York, AT&T Florida president. “That’s why we practice readiness drills and simulations throughout the year. We do all we can to have our networks prepared when severe weather strikes. We’ve worked for the past few days to position equipment and crews to respond to the storm. We’re closely linked with Florida public officials in their storm response efforts. With a storm of this size, we may have some outages. But if service goes down, we’ll do all we can to get it back up as fast as possible.”

With landfall possible along the Florida coast or inland, Verizon pointed out that in Florida, since last hurricane season, it has densified its network with 4G, fortified coverage along evacuation routes, put cell sites equipment on stilts and installed new systems in hospitals, government and emergency facilities, and high-traffic public areas.

“The country is only beginning to wrestle with recovery efforts from Harvey, and already, residents of Florida and the Caribbean are bracing for another potentially devastating storm in Hurricane Irma,” said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure. “During times like these, the cost of staying connected to friends and loved ones should be the last thing on anyone’s mind, and we want to do what we can to support our customers across impacted areas.”

Hurricane Irma’s impact on Puerto Rico.

AT&T and Verizon Wireless are positioning portable cell tower trailers just outside of areas anticipated to take the brunt of the hurricane. AT&T in particular has a lot to prove as its network now includes FirstNet — a public private wireless broadband network for emergency responders that also depends on AT&T’s wireless networks. States are still in the process of opting in to AT&T’s FirstNet. The company has more than 700 pieces of emergency cellular equipment, including Cell on Wheels, Cell on Light Trucks, portable trailers and generators, and even the possibility of deploying Cells on Wings — airborne cell towers that can restore cell service in areas where roads are inaccessible because of floods.

Wireline companies are also positioning repair crews in the region to bring service back online. Other technicians are checking on emergency generator and battery backup power, particularly for maintaining landline service.

“Our team is working to prepare for extreme weather and will be there for our business and residential customers to quickly and safely restore any affected network services,” reports Frontier Communications, which provides service in former Verizon landline service areas.

The phone company is reminding landline customers that not all phones will operate during a power outage, but that does not mean Frontier’s landline network is down.

“Customers who rely on cordless phones should consider plugging a traditional corded phone directly into the wall. In the event of a commercial power outage, corded phones on the copper network will still operate; cordless ones will not,” the company says. “If commercial power is unavailable, generators and batteries in Frontier’s central offices serve as a backup. Phone lines generally will have enough power in them to use a corded phone. For customers using FiOS phone services, the battery backup will supply voice service for up to eight hours.”

The company also warns customers to watch out for damaged utility lines after the storm is over.

“Stay far away from any downed cables or power lines. Contact Frontier at 800-921-8102 (business) or 800-921-8101 (residential) to report any fallen telephone poles or cables.”

Some companies are offering customers a break on their bills:

  • Verizon: Landline customers will not pay any long distance charges for calls to Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and the Turks and Caicos Islands from Sept. 6-9. Taxes and any government surcharges applicable will still apply. Verizon Wireless customers inside the U.S. will not be charged for texts or calls originating in the U.S. to those same countries and territories for the same period.
  • T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers in affected areas of Puerto Rico:  Will get calls, texts, and unlimited data free from Sept. 6th through Sept. 8th. This free service will be available to customers in the 787 and 939 area codes.
  • Sprint: Effective today through Sept. 9, 2017, Sprint will waive call, text and data overage fees for its Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile customers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For Sprint, Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile customers in the U.S., the company will also waive all international call and text overage fees to the following: Anguilla, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Turks and Caicos, and British Virgin Islands. For the same period, Sprint will also waive roaming voice and text overage fees for its customers in those locations. Fees will be waived during the time specified.
  • Comcast: Opening more than 137,000 XFINITY Wi-Fi hotspots throughout Florida to anyone who needs them, including non-XFINITY customers, for free. For a map of XFINITY Wi-Fi hotspots, which are located both indoors and outdoors in places such as shopping districts, parks and businesses, visit Xfinity.com/wifi. Once in range of a hotspot, select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots and then launch a browser. Comcast internet customers can sign in with their usernames and passwords and they will be automatically connected to XFINITY Wi-Fi hotspots in the future. Non-Comcast internet subscribers should visit the “Not an Xfinity Internet Customer” section on the sign-in page to get started. Non-customers will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every 2 hours through Sept. 15, 2017.

AT&T Offers These Customer Tips:

  • Keep your mobile phone battery charged. In case of a power outage, have another way to charge your phone like an extra battery, car charger or device-charging accessory. Applicable sales tax holidays are a great time to stock up on cell phone accessories.
  • Keep your mobile devices dry. The biggest threat to your device during a hurricane is water.  Keep it safe from the elements by storing it in a baggie or some other type of protective covering, like an Otterbox phone cover.
  • Have a family communications plan. Choose someone out of the area as a central contact.   Make sure all family members know who to contact if they get separated. Most importantly, practice your emergency plan in advance.
  • Program all of your emergency contact numbers and e-mail addresses into your mobile phone. Numbers should include the police department, fire station and hospital, as well as your family members.
  • Forward your home number to your mobile number in the event of an evacuation. Call forwarding is based out of the telephone central office. This means you will get calls from your landline phone even if your local telephone service is disrupted. If the central office is not operational, services such as voicemail and call forwarding may be useful.
  • Track the storm and access weather information on your mobile device. Many homes lose power during severe weather. You can stay up to speed as a DIRECTV customer, by streaming local weather channels using the DIRECTV application on your smartphone. If you subscribe to mobile DVR, you can also stream every channel directly to your phone.
  • Camera phones provide assistance. If you have a camera phone, take, store and send photos and video clips of damage to your insurance company.
  • Use location-based technology.  Services like AT&T Navigator and AT&T FamilyMap can help you find evacuation routes or avoid traffic from downed trees or power lines. They can also track a family member’s wireless device if you get separated.
  • Limit social media activity. Keep social media activity to a minimum during and after a storm to limit network congestion and allow for emergency communications to go through.

Business Tips:

  • Set up a call-forwarding service to a backup location. Set up a single or multiple hotline number(s) for employees, their families, customers and partners so they all know about the business situation and emergency plan.
  • Back up data to the Cloud. Routinely back up files to an off-site location.
  • Outline detailed plans for evacuation and shelter-in-place. Practice these plans (employee training, etc.). Establish a backup location for your business and meeting place for all employees.
  • Assemble a crisis-management team. Coordinate efforts with neighboring businesses and building management. Disasters that affect your suppliers also affect your business. Outline a plan for supply chain continuity for business needs.

Keeping the lines open for emergencies:

During evacuations, the storm event and its aftermath, network resources will likely be taxed. To help ensure that emergency personnel have open lines, keep these tips in mind:

  • Text messaging. During an emergency situation, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls because they require fewer network resources. Depending on your text or data plan, additional charges may apply.
  • Be prepared for high call volume. During an emergency, many people are trying to use their phones at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion, leading to “fast busy” signals on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone. If this happens, hang up, wait several seconds and then try the call again. This allows your original call data to clear the network before you try again.
  • Keep non-emergency calls to a minimum, and limit your calls to the most important ones. If there is severe weather, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls to loved ones, friends and business associates.

Additional information and tips for disaster preparedness can be found at www.att.com/vitalconnections.

DirecTV Now Adds 25 More Local Stations in Various Cities

Phillip Dampier August 30, 2017 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, DirecTV, Online Video No Comments

DirecTV Now is continuing to boost the number of live, local stations included in its streaming service with the addition of more than 25 local ABC, NBC and Fox affiliates, most in smaller cities.

The additions bring the station total to nearly 130 stations in 70 cities.

“We’re giving DirecTV Now customers more live local channels to stay connected, with more channels coming,” said Daniel York, senior executive vice president and chief content officer of the AT&T Entertainment Group.

The new stations:

Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. NBC
Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M. ABC, NBC
Bend, Ore. Fox
Buffalo, N.Y. ABC
Butte-Bozeman, Mont. Fox
Columbia-Jefferson City, Mo. Fox
Evansville, Ind. Fox
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo, Mich. ABC
Great Falls, Mont. Fox
Greensboro-Winston-Salem, N.C. ABC
Joplin-Pittsburg, Kan. Fox
Lafayette, La. Fox
Lima, Ohio Fox
Little Rock-Pine Bluff, Ark. ABC
Louisville Fox
Missoula, Mont. Fox
Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C. Fox
Norfolk-Newport News, Va. ABC
Oklahoma City ABC
Palm Springs, Calif. Fox
Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, Calif. Fox
St. Joseph, Mo. Fox
Tulsa, Okla. ABC, NBC
Yuma, AZ-El Centro, Calif. Fox

Communications Struggling in Southeast Texas Post-Harvey

Downtown Houston

Telecommunications services are straining across southeastern Texas and Louisiana after Hurricane Harvey’s remnants have caused unprecedented flooding across the region.

More than 50% of cell sites in Aransas, Calhoun, Refugio, and San Patricio counties in Texas are down as a result of electric outages and wind/water damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Worst affected is around Rockport, in Aransas County located on the Gulf of Mexico. Just one cell tower in that county remains in service. In Calhoun County, only four cell towers remain functional.

911 services have strained as a result of the storm, with the city of Houston receiving as many as 75,000 calls a day. But in other parts of the region, 911 outages and other problems have forced officials in more than a dozen cities to route incoming calls to other 911 centers in the state:

  • 911 Service Down: Portland Police Department, Tex.
  • Degraded 911 Service: Calhoun County Sheriff, Tex.
  • Rerouted 911 Without Automatic Location Information: Aransas County SO, Tex.; Bee PD, Tex.; Beeville PD, Tex.; Kingsville PD, Tex.; Kleberg County SO, Tex.; Mathis PD, Tex.; Port Aransas PD, Tex.; Refugio County SO, Tex.; and Ingleside PD, Tex.
  • Rerouted 911: Aransas Pass PD, Tex.; Cameron Parish SO, La.; Richmond PD, Tex.; Robstown PD, Tex.; Victoria PD, Tex.; and Wilson County SO, Tex.

There are at least 148,565 wired subscribers out of service in the affected area. This includes users who get service from Comcast and other cable systems, AT&T and other wireline phone companies. There are 11 landline switching/central offices out of service and 21 offices on back-up power.

There are 9 radio stations out of service, all in Texas:

KJOJ-FM, KKTX, KUNO, KPRC, KKWV, KAYK, KZFM, KKBA and KEYS.

As a result of the storm, the Federal Communications Commission activated its Disaster Information Reporting System, which asks providers to report outages so the FCC can track the status of telecommunications networks in disaster areas.

More than two feet of rain has fallen — more than six months of average precipitation in the Houston area — in two days.

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Recent Comments:

  • PAUL: I JUST CANCELED HULU BECAUSE THEIR ROKU SCREENS CHANGES ALMOST EVERY DAY. ALSO HULU LISTS CHANNELS, NOT ALL THE SHOWS ON ABC,CBS, NBC AND FOX ARE AVAI...
  • nbeacon: The valid complaints with Spectrum/TWC have visited me many times over. Then suddenly my bill went from $76 to $102 without any notice. This charge ...
  • LG: It is now Sept. 23rd, and the same is true. I am using a neighbor's satellite internet while my Comcast is still out. Many promises of "by 7pm if n...
  • LG: (Sorry i wrote 911 twice)...
  • LG: Yes, I agree this "HD fee" is hysterical. It would be even funnier if people knew their picture is barely HD or not at all. There isn't enough bandw...
  • Brian: Let me tell you a little story about cable companies, they like to charge their customers even when there are no service to be had, well I learned a l...
  • Geroge: 100mbps is now base speed in many areas that aren't maxx...
  • Ed: I find it amazing that anyone expected Frontier to do anything differently...they have never been an invest and build company...they have always been ...
  • kim collins: i work for Frontier. And i have to say there is alot of people who still need their landlines because cell service is not available to them. Frontie...
  • Lee: Those who own the land leased to cell towers, they should NOT have sold the land, need to get good legal council on the terms of the lease if the comp...
  • Rex: The lights in your home (whether incandescent, CFLs or LEDs) emit far more electro-magnetic radiation (over the course of a day) than you could ever g...
  • Adam: That's pretty unfair to Frontier... Obviously AT&T and Verizon sold off big chunks of their wireline operations because they saw the end of profi...

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