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AT&T Introduces Low Cost Internet for Low Income Households

Phillip Dampier March 19, 2019 AT&T, Broadband Speed, Consumer News No Comments

AT&T is following the cable industry’s tradition of offering slower speed internet service at a discount to qualified customers, at prices as low as $5 a month.

AT&T is introducing Access, available only to those receiving public benefits.

“We’re making it easier for more people to connect to friends, family, their communities and the possibilities of the internet,” said Cheryl Choy, vice president wired voice and broadband products, AT&T. “Access from AT&T is an affordable internet option available to millions of Americans with limited budgets.”

The service offers participants the fastest available speed tier that will work reliably at their home. AT&T DSL service can be speed variable, so some households may only be able to get slower service. If AT&T qualifies you for 5 or 10 Mbps, the service will cost $10 a month. If only 3 Mbps or less is available, the price is $5 a month. Installation and equipment is provided free of charge.

Service will include a monthly data allowance of either 150 GB or 1 TB of data per month depending on the type and speed of service you receive. If you exceed your monthly data plan allowance, you will be automatically charged $10 for each 50 GB of data usage in excess of your data plan, even if less than 50 gigabytes is used. For more information, go to att.com/internet-usage.

Get more information and enroll here.

Speed Tiers (the speed furnished will be whatever is fastest and reliable at your service address)

  • 10 Mbps $10 per month
  • 5 Mbps $10 per month
  • 3 Mbps $5 per month
  • 1.5 Mbps $5 per month
  • 768kbps $5 per month

To qualify, a household must have at least one resident participating in the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as ‘SNAP’) and must live in an area where AT&T provides landline service. Customers must also not owe any past due balance to AT&T within the last six months. California residents only: If at least one member of your household receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits you also may qualify to participate.

Verizon On Track to Mothball CDMA/3G Network; Older Devices Will Cease Working End of 2019

Times up. Legacy devices like the GizmoPal watch will stop connecting to Verizon after the company shuts down its CDMA/3G network at the end of the year.

Customers with older phones and devices that are dependent on Verizon Wireless, take note: those devices may stop working at the end of this year as Verizon Wireless mothballs its legacy CDMA network and 3G mobile data. Verizon originally announced it was planning to shut down CDMA and 3G service last summer, and stopped activating new devices that did not support the current 4G LTE standard. Since that time, the company has been gradually replacing CDMA and 3G-dedicated frequencies to 4G LTE to relieve congestion.

As this transition continues, some customers with older basic phone are noticing call issues and a lack of adequate mobile data service. That happens when a tower has re-dedicated almost all of its available spectrum to 4G LTE service, and those using older devices share a quickly declining number of frequencies. Some smartphone owners are also affected, even if their device supports 4G LTE data, because it may still rely on Verizon’s CDMA network to make and receive phone calls.

One of the biggest impacts of the shutdown will be felt by General Motors’ OnStar customers driving vehicles made before 2015, which rely on Verizon CDMA and 3G technology to support GPS, crash detection, diagnostics, and voice calling. Starting with 2015 models, GM moved its OnStar platform in new vehicles to AT&T’s 4G LTE network. Some GM vehicle owners, but not all, have the option of upgrading to OnStar over AT&T’s 4G LTE network with a retrofit kit, which also supports an in-vehicle hotspot. If this option is not available, service is expected to sunset for older vehicles on Dec. 31, 2019.

Some medical monitoring devices that rely on Verizon’s legacy CDMA network will also cease working unless a retrofit or upgrade is made available by the manufacturer.

Affected devices include:

  • CDMA (3G)-only devices, including 3G basic phones and 3G smartphones
  • 4G LTE smartphones that do not support HD Voice
  • Apple iPhone 5s or prior including the Apple iPhone 5c
  • Connected devices with CDMA (e.g,, GizmoPal, GizmoPal2, GizmoGadget and some Hum + models).
  • In-car telematics devices like GM’s OnStar on pre-2015 model year vehicles
  • Certain medical monitoring devices

Verizon had originally planned to mothball its CDMA network in late 2021, but the carrier needed to repurpose existing spectrum to meet growing data demands on its network, so it moved the drop dead date forward to Dec. 31, 2019.

Verizon’s Mobile 5G Network Launch Will Cover Only Tiny Parts of Chicago, Minneapolis

You may not want to hurry upgrading your devices to be ready for Verizon’s launch of its 5G mobile network this spring, because only a tiny portion of Chicago and Minneapolis are slated to initially get service.

A review of permits, publicity studied by PC, and reports from residents witnessing the installation of wireless equipment suggests Verizon’s mobile 5G launch will be focused on tourist, entertainment, and shopping areas inside the cities of Chicago and Minneapolis, and will be targeted to people spending time downtown.

Verizon (in red) and Sprint (in yellow) anticipated 5G coverage in Chicago.

Verizon’s 5G service will reach places like Union Station, Millennium Park, and the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, but not far beyond that. In contrast, Sprint’s forthcoming 2.5 GHz 5G network will reach west to East Garfield Park and south to Chinatown.

In Minneapolis, Verizon’s 5G network is likely to reach neighborhoods in the Downtown East, Elliot Park, Downtown West, Central Minneapolis, and the Waterfront area between West 2nd Avenue and 35W. It will also be available inside the Mall of America, the Minneapolis Convention Center, Central Library, and Target Center.

Verizon 5G coverage anticipated in Minneapolis.

Verizon’s network should be faster, but Sprint’s will cover a larger area. Carriers are prioritizing 5G coverage on dense urban areas that attract significant crowds, which can also strain wireless networks. Suburban areas in cities and suburbs are not a priority at this stage, and rural areas are ignored completely.

Verizon and Sprint 5G Coverage — Chicago and Minneapolis (Courtesy of PC). Use zoom controls to study anticipated coverage areas in both cities.

Verizon Wants You to Pay $10/mo Extra for Mobile 5G Service

Verizon has decided to treat its emerging mobile 5G network as a premium service that customers should pay more to access.

The company is debuting its mobile 5G network next month at select locations in Chicago and Minneapolis, but customers wishing to use it will need a new phone and a new, costlier plan.

Verizon confirmed its new Mobile 5G service will require a new premium unlimited plan, starting at $85. That is $10 more than Verizon’s current GoUnlimited plan. Customers will also need a Motorola Moto Z3 phone — currently the only model compatible with Verizon’s 5G network, and a special 5G Moto Mod attachment, sold separately.

You will need to switch to one of three 5G-capable unlimited plans from Verizon (pricing does not reflect $10 5G surcharge and legacy unlimited plans do not qualify for 5G service):

5G Moto Mod (back and front)

Some other points to consider:

  • The $10 charge will not apply to your first three billing cycles.
  • Verizon normally sells the Motorola Moto Z3 phone for $480.
  • Verizon normally charges $350 for the 5G Moto Mod add-on, but if you preorder, it sells for as little as $50. Required for 5G service. It snaps on the back of your Z3 phone.
  • Samsung will be ready with its first 5G phones later this year, but they will not support all the frequency bands expected to be used for 5G.

Verizon is planning a special sale on March 14 only:

  • Add a new line of service to a Verizon device payment plan on March 14 only, and get a Moto Z3 for free.
  • Existing customers can upgrade their phone to a Moto Z3 for $10 a month for 24 months, half the usual $480 retail price.
  • Preorder the 5G Moto Mod add-on and pay $50 (usual retail price is: $349.99)

Comcast Gives Up on Rescuing Cord Cutting TV Customers; No More Deals

Phillip Dampier March 12, 2019 Comcast/Xfinity, Competition, Consumer News 2 Comments

Watson

Unhappy about your cable TV bill? Don’t bother complaining to Comcast, because the cable company is ready to tell you to take your business elsewhere.

New competition usually means those already in the business freshen their game, get creative, cut prices, or out-compete the competition with a better product. But Comcast plans to lose its restless cable television customers if they complain about the company’s prices for cable TV.

Dave Watson, president and CEO of Comcast Cable, told investors at the Deutsche Bank 2019 Media, Internet & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach the company is done handing out retention deals with cut-rate pricing to keep cable TV customers from leaving.

“[Comcast is] simply not going to chase unprofitable video relationships,” Watson said, noting with the growing number of new streaming video competitors, more and more customers are calling looking for better deals and threatening to cut the cord. Watson says Comcast is prepared to let them.

“Because of consumer choice, because of all this competition, we’re just not going to chase video [customers],” Watson repeated.

Comcast’s new “we don’t negotiate” attitude with its customers isn’t groundbreaking in the industry. Satellite providers and some cable companies like Charter/Spectrum have largely stopped negotiating with customers as well.

Some cable operators have intentionally avoided significant video price hikes in recent years, already sensitive to the cord-cutting calls that increase after each rate hike announcement. Others hide rate increases in surcharges, often for local TV stations or regional sports channels. For some companies, giving customers a better deal may even make their video pricing unprofitable.

To compensate for tightening margins on cable television, most providers have been significantly increasing broadband pricing in recent years, knowing broadband is one service customers are least likely to drop as a result of rate increases.

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