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13 Dec

AT&T® Introduces Real Time Text (RTT) to Discontinue its Old TTY Technology

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Modernizing Telephony Networks

In its relentless push for modernizing its existing telephony networks, AT&T® has introduced a new service known as real-time text (RTT). The launch of this new service will replace the TTY technology that it had relied for about 50 years. The newly introduced real-time text (RTT) is actually a text-based service that will remove many of the limitations of the older TTY service. As the best internet service, AT&T® has incorporated several new technologies into the RRT.

Real-time transmission of each of the RRT text character is one feature. It provides a more conversational flow of communication along with voice. The older TTY technology requires that the users send messages in turn, which lacked efficiency and speed. AT&T® has designed the RTT to work seamlessly across both Android and iOS smartphones that have updated operating system. Moreover, accessing this service does not require the use of specialized equipment.

With this new service, customers are provided the option to establish communication with RTT and TTY users. Besides, it will also help them connect to 911 centers and relay services operating around the region. The origins of the TTY service go back to the 1960’s, as it was introduced as a reliable means for the deaf, hearing impaired or speech-disabled customers to communicate with each other directly or indirectly via a telecom relay service provider. However, AT&T® has assured that this feature will remain intact in the new RTT service.

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Support Non-Voice Conversations

Users with such disabilities will still be able to communicate with other through the TTY or text messaging service. TTY systems broadcasted the tones from a keyboard stroke by the user over a phone line to the other end and support non-voice conversations. AT&T® has urged the FCC to consider RTT as a reliable service to serve as an alternative for customers with any hearing or speech disabilities.

Moreover, the Telco has mentioned that the calls made with the RTT will be billed as voice calls. Linda Vandeloop, Assistant Vice President of Federal Regulatory, AT&T® has said, “This launch on AT&T’s network is the first step in making RTT as widely available as possible. Initially, AT&T® RTT users will be able to communicate with other users on AT&T’s network. By the end of the year, more carriers will deploy the service, enabling communication between networks.”

“By 2021, most if not all carriers will be offering RTT,” She further stated. “So, half a century after TTY was first introduced, AT&T® is excited to be leading the charge and offering this new service making communications even more accessible for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, or have a speech disability.”

21 Mar

AT&T Demands Out Of Illinois Wide Mandate For Landline

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AT&T Phone Services

Experts say that a longstanding rule needing AT&T to offer landline services to many of the residents of Illinois might go away, but many of the watchdog agencies claim that the proposal needs more safeguards to offer protection to low income and rural customers of AT&T.

It is reported that an Illinois Senate committee offered an early OK to a bill to free AT&T from all legal obligations to offer landline coverage to the state. AT&T said that more than ninety percent of the users have abandoned landline connections in favor of internet based and wireless calling services. If the bill is passed by the full Illinois General Assembly, then the FCC would have to sign before AT&T could stop the landline service using copper lines.

AT&T has tried similar legislations in twenty-one states where they are the traditional voice service provider and said that nineteen of these states have made decisions to modernize the laws. AT&T has not yet applied for FCC approval to finish the process, said president of AT&T Illinois Paul La Schiazza. He added that AT&T needs to win relief in all the states before approaching the FCC. If they get the approval, AT&T will have to offer sixty days notice to the customers who will be affected by the move.

The rule is a part of an old system setup by the government to make sure that all are having telephone service, essentially by offering a monopoly to AT&T, La Schiazza said. The market has become more competitive now, as more and more users are turning away from landline services to wireless and broadband options that offer much more than voice calls.

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Traditional Voice Service

“What we’re left with in Illinois is we’re not guaranteed any customers, we’re not guaranteed any return … yet we still are required to provide an old-style, voice-only telephone line to every customer in our service territory,” he said. “No competitor is required to do that. They can pick and choose whatever customers they want to serve and they can use whatever available technology that they want to.”

La Schiazza said that freeing money from their old landline service would help them to shift the money that they invest in Illinois, to new technologies that the users need to become the best among the telephone and internet providers. However, he has not said anything on how much AT&T spends annually on maintaining their landline service.

16 Feb

AT&T To Deploy LTE-M Network By Mid Year

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LTE-M Network

AT&T, one of the best internet providers in the US, is speeding up the development of a LTE-M network and si gearing up to deploy it by the mid-2017. LTE-M is an IoT network that is currently used in tracking shipping containers and pallets, monitoring water usage, and connecting fleets. In a recent press release, AT&T announced that it would provide nationwide LTE-M coverage by the middle of the year. This new statement has updated the deployment of the network six months ahead of schedule.

This updated schedule for the nationwide rollout of the network came after the successful pilot conducted at AT&T Labs in San Ramon, California. “Thanks to the success of our pilot, we’re on track to support LTE-M devices across our commercial network in the U.S. and Mexico ahead of schedule,” said Chris Penrose, who is AT&T’s president for IoT Solutions. “We are seeing real momentum for LTE-M that will let us connect more end points than ever before. And we can do it at a lower cost with superior performance and carrier-grade security.”

Through this initiative, AT&T will provide LTE network across the country and by the end of the year, extend the services to Mexico too. This will aid in creating an extensive network coverage area for businesses operating on both sides of the border. The new move by AT&T comes ahead of the growing market for connected devices. Many companies like Samsung, Xirgo Technologies, Capstone Metering, PepsiCo, Telular, RM2, and CalAmp already use the IoT network for their enterprise and consumer applications.

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AT&T Initiatives

LTE-M is among the several LPWANs (Low Power, Wide Area Networks) that link sensors and other devices to the Internet of Things. Taking into consideration the speed of data transfer, the LTE-M is slower than the conventional LTE connections utilized by smartphones. LTE-M provides a top speed of 1 Mbps within a range of up to hundred kilometers, and has higher penetration property though walls. These networks and the other NB-IoT are based on LTE, which are designed to move over the licensed spectrum of the carriers.

According to analyst Daryl Schoolar, they may be the best available options for enterprises with security concerns. Deployment of the LTE-M service by AT&T will make it a major player in the field along with many mobile operators and internet providers like Orange, SoftBank, etc. Together with this, the carrier has already started the first commercial trial of LTE-M in California, Columbus, and Ohio.

15 Feb

AT&T Plans To Discontinue Its Voice DNA Service For Small Businesses

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Voice DNA Service

Reports indicate that the telecom giant, AT&T is planning to discontinue their Voice DNA service for small businesses. However, one of the current AT&T subscriber, Concord, a California-based law firm Roscha & Odne LLP, shared their concern on AT&T’s new plan and stated that if the telecom company goes forward with this plan, then they will have to suffer without internet and phone service.

The law firm even requested the FCC to make sure that the telecom company will not discontinue its Voice DNA service until they have found a permanent replacement for their internet and phone service. Reports say that Concord has been using the Voice DNA service and AT&T internet since 2011. However, the recently issued letter from AT&T to the law firm indicates that the telecom giant is planning to shut down their Voice DNA service on February 15, 2017.

One of the partners of Concord, Nicholas Roscha informed the FCC that they have been trying to find a replacement service from other internet and phone service providers after they received AT&T’s letter regarding the shutdown of their Voice DNA service. It is also reported that a number of service providers did approach the law firm with plenty of proposals. However, the downfall is that it might take more than a month for the installation of the new service to complete, which means that the law firm will not be able to access internet and phone services for more than a few weeks, if AT&T went on to discontinue their services.

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In a letter to FCC, Roscha said that, “Those that provided proposals have indicated that it would take 3-45 days from signing a contract to be able to pull wiring, supply equipment and get us up and running,” adding that “all of this would be at our cost.” He also requested the FCC “to consider its comments and insure AT&T does not discontinue service until we have alternative services in place.”

Just like other service providers, AT&T also stated that the reason for discontinuing the Voice DNA service is that their vendors are no longer supporting the voice platform. However, as AT&T has been delivering best internet service to their customers for a very long time, experts believe that the discontinuation of their Voice DNA service might affect some of their customers badly.

01 Feb

CenturyLink Updates Telephone Service In North Dakota

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CenturyLink Telephone Service

The North Dakota Public Service Commission has approved an agreement that demands CenturyLink to improve their phone service to some of the communities in western Dakota. The agreement also includes a commitment of 2.66 million dollars in infrastructure improvements. This order came after the Commission filed a complaint against CenturyLink, when they received a series of complaints related to CenturyLink home phone service.

“This settlement shows a major commitment from CenturyLink to improve service to their customers by rehabilitating their cable network and installing more fiber,” said Commissioner Randy Christmann. “Taking care of their staffing shortage problem seems to already be making a noticeable improvement.” He also added that this is the first time in four years that the PSC had to step in to resolve issues.

In the complaint filed by the Commission, the advocacy staffs claimed that CenturyLink violated quality of service requirements for telecommunication businesses, as they failed to address the issues like phone line not working. The complaint also included twenty-eight CenturyLink users who had contacted PSC after the provider failed to address technical issues with their phone service.

The complaints also included users from various areas of the state, but the communities in North Dakota accounted for majority of the complaints. This is why North Dakota was identified as the area with recurring service issues owing to aging infrastructure staffing shortages of CenturyLink.

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Better Network

CenturyLink currently does not have offices in the western side of the state. “Customers in these areas went far too long without adequate telephone service, so this resolution is much needed and long awaited,” said Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak. “The good news is these investments will resolve the telephone issues and significantly enhance broadband services for this area as well.”

The order was a result of the settlement agreement that was worked out between CenturyLink and the Commission advocacy staffs. In this settlement, the telecom provider agrees to:

  • Replace or rehabilitate the phone cable routes in Fairview, Mont. exchange and the Belfield exchange.
  • Fully staff all the unstaffed positions in western North Dakota to offer timely response and adequate coverage when the uses report issues
  • Expand the fiber optic network in the area
  • Improve communication with the customers when they report issues

They have also committed to complete the rehabilitation process of the cables and installation of fiber by the end of 2017.

24 Jan

AT&T Increases Phone Activation Fee To $25

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Phone Activation Fee

The telecom giant, AT&T recently raised their non-contract phone upgrade and activation fee to $25. The previous fee that non-contract AT&T customers had to pay was just $20. AT&T customers, who have bought the providers phone services, were excluded from paying upgrade or activation fee until July 2015.

In addition to that, the customers, who have brought a phone from AT&T on installment fee, also enjoyed activation and upgrading services for free. However, AT&T customers, who did not sign a two-year agreement with the company, were asked to pay an activation fee of $15 from July 2015. Furthermore, the provider also increased the upgrade/activation fee for their contract subscribers from $40 to $45 in the same month.

AT&T went on to raise the activation fee for their non-contract subscribers from $15 to $20 last year. The company then again raised this fee to $25 a few days ago and this has created a major concern among AT&T’s non-contract phone subscribers.

Officials from the company said that customers who approach AT&T to purchase devices on installment agreements would have to pay an amount of $25 for new upgrades or activations. In addition to that, customers who bring their phone to the network for a new line of service will also have to pay $25, although they will not be charged for upgrading their phones on an existing line of service.

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AT&T Wireless Services

“We are making a minor adjustment to our activation and upgrade fees. The change is effective today,” AT&T officials said. The telecom company also stated that they will be charging $45 activation and upgrade fee even for two-year agreements, but those deals will be “available only on select devices.”

Reports indicate that AT&T added about 1.5 million wireless customers in the third quarter of 2016 for an estimated total of $133 million. However, the wireless carrier did lose approximately 268,000 postpaid phone subscribers, and a major portion of these customers had cheaper phones with minimum features.

AT&T posted a US wireless operating margin of 29.6 percent “and a best-ever US wireless service EBITDA margin of 50.1 percent.” However, the total revenue of the company did experience a downfall of 0.7 percent year-over-year “due to decreases in service and equipment revenues.” Many experts claim that the raise in activation fees will help them company to earn a little more revenue from their subscribers.

18 Jan

CenturyLink Restores Telephone And Internet Services

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Telephone And Internet Services

Recently, the fiber network of CenturyLink was cut in Rexburg, and it was restored after forty-eight hours. The internet and telephone services of the users were restored after restoring the network. Reports say that around 4,200 internet lines were disrupted, out of which, 126 users in Ririe were not even having the “dial tone service.”

“We’re horrified by this too,” said CenturyLink’s Market Development Manager Megan Griffin. “We had a team out there all night long with backhoes working diligently. Imagine being out in the middle of the night digging and digging through 18 inches of frozen ground. It was like digging through cement.”

“They spliced new fiber in where it was cut. When it all came back up, it all came back up (at the same time). It took it time to process,” she said. Griffin confirmed that the fiber was cut at about 03:11 p.m. and the reason is not known yet. Shortly after that, some of the CenturyLink users who managed to get some internet connection, through some other provider, got on social media asking if any of the other CenturyLink users were experiencing disruption in their services.

For around three hours, many restaurants and businesses were unable to accept any credit or debit cards as their internet services were down. However, Griffin was unable to confirm if this happened due to the cable cut. Yet she added that shortly after they learned that there was an interruption in the internet services, CenturyLink employees searched the snowy and cold weather to find and fix the problem.

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CenturyLink Phone

“We had people around the clock on site in those horrible, horrible temperatures. The ground was frozen to 18 inches deep. It’s a pretty difficult dig to locate the problem and obviously rectify the problem,” Griffin said. Although CenturyLink received many phone calls after the outage, Griffin said that everyone who called was good and understanding. “There are always people who are frustrated. We do our best to inform them as to what’s going on to work to get back up,” she said.

Griffin was very much pleased with the work of the CenturyLink technicians to restart the internet and telephone services very quickly. “Our line was cut, and we fixed it. It was far quicker than anyone could have imagined. Those techs worked very hard. It’s very difficult to access (a cable) on a hillside on frozen ground,” she said. “I’m very proud of the work our team did.”

30 Dec

CenturyLink Promises To Offer Better And Reliable Phone Service

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Better Phone Services

The recently approved agreement by the North Dakota Public Service Commission has asked CenturyLink to improve their phone service to some of the western North Dakota communities. In addition to that, the agreement also contains a $2.66 million commitment in infrastructural developments.

This new agreement was introduced after a series of formal complaints, which was filed against the provider by the commission for the service they are offering to customers. In a press release, Commissioner Randy Christmann said that, “This settlement shows a major commitment from CenturyLink to improve service to their customers by rehabilitating their cable network and installing more fiber. Taking care of their staffing shortage problem seems to already be making a noticeable improvement.”

He also added that this marks the first time in last four years where the Public Service Commission has stepped in to resolve the issue related to the service from a telecom provider. However, the Commission advocacy staff claimed that the provider has violated the quality of service requirements for telecommunications companies, as they didn’t address any issues such as when the customers complained that their phone lines were not working.

About 28 customers contacted the Commission and complained that the provider has failed to address issues related to their phone service more than a few times. Reports also indicate that CenturyLink has a shortage of staffs in Western North Dakota region. Furthermore, the company doesn’t have any offices in the western side of the state currently.

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CenturyLink Commitment

Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak said, “Customers in these areas went far too long without adequate telephone service, so this resolution is much needed and long awaited. The good news is these investments will resolve the telephone issues and significantly enhance broadband services for this area as well.”

In the settlement, CenturyLink has promised to replace or rehabilitate their phone cable routes in the Fairview, Mont. exchange and Belfield exchange. The company also guaranteed that they will expand fiber in the region and they plan to use the Federal funding of $1.2 million to accelerate the fiber construction in Belfield area.

In addition to that, CenturyLink also ensured that the company would increase the number of staffs in North Dakota to offer timely response and adequate coverage to customers. The company is also looking to considerably improve their communication with customers when they call to report a problem.

23 Dec

AT&T Unveils New Robocall Blocking Service

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Call Blocking Service

AT&T recently revealed a new free robocall blocking service, which is named as Call Protect. This latest feature blocks unwanted fraud calls directly at the network level before they reach the customers. However, this service is only available to AT&T’s postpaid smartphone subscribers.

In instances, where the provider is unable to decide whether the calls are fraudulent or not, the Call Protect service will not block the calls. Instead, it will display “suspected spam warnings on the incoming call screen which let customers choose whether or not to answer calls that originate from a suspected spam source.”

This service is currently restricted to AT&T postpaid wireless customers with Android phones or iPhones, which support the HD Voice technology. Company officials also stated that this feature cannot be automatically enabled to your phones, but you will have to initially add the feature either on the Call Protect app or on your personal AT&T account settings.

It is reported that a few Android users have already registered complaints through their Google Play Store reviews by claiming that the Call Protect service doesn’t support on unlocked devices including Google Pixel. Although AT&T has not yet responded to this issue, they warned their customers that the network-level fraud blocking “may inadvertently block wanted calls.” However, the customers can change their settings “to turn off blocking or allow specifically designated numbers” to effectively resolve this issue.

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AT&T Wireless Services

In addition to that, AT&T customers can also find the blocked calls list on the app. The network-level call blocking feature works throughout the AT&T network, but the suspected spam warnings displayed on the call screen will work only in the regions with AT&T HD Voice coverage. The HD calling offers a much better clearer voice call when compared to LTE. Another major highlight of the Call Protect is “Temporary Call Block”, which allows users to block specific phone numbers for a short time, but to a maximum of 30 days.

In a recent announcement, AT&T marketing executive Jeff Bradley said, “Nuisance calls are an industry-wide problem that unfortunately affect many people. We’ve listened to our customers and know they want a network that provides tools to proactively assist in blocking nuisance calls.” Reports also indicate that AT&T is ahead of all other major carriers in the country in robocall blocking.

21 Dec

EchoStar 19 Launched Successfully To Offer High Speed Internet Service

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HughesNet Gen5

A powerful communication satellite named EchoStar 19 was launched into orbit by a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. This satellite will offer broadband internet service to rural and passenger jets consumers across the US and parts of Central America and Canada that do not have any access to fiber or cable networks.

Reports say that the launch of the satellite ran 46 minutes late due to a last second technical issue. The 1.6 million pounds Atlas 5, which is equipped with three strap-on solid fuel boosters to offer extra power to it, was launched at 2:13 p.m. EST. The rocket quickly lifted off from the launch complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

The rocket accelerated rapidly as it used the liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The launch was a show for the residents, beachgoers, and tourists in the area and left a long trail of exhaust as it climbed out to the sky and disappeared. The Russian built RD-180 engine powering the rocket offered flawless performance.

The on-board propulsion system of EchoStar 19 will be used to circularize the orbit at attitudes of 22,300 miles. In those geosynchronous orbits, satellites will look stationary in the sky and this will help to use fixed antennas on Earth stations. Along with offering service to the rural areas that are not wired for broadband, the satellite also offers 200 megabits-per-second internet access to passenger jets.

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High Speed Internet Service

“It’ll provide capacity primarily for our consumer business in the U.S. as well as additional capacity in Canada, Mexico and other countries in Central America,” said Pradman Kaul, President of HughesNet. “Subscriber online time and video consumption have continued to increase. And today’s subscribers are looking for faster speeds and higher data caps. With HughesNet Gen5, we’ll be offering more data and materially higher speeds than we are today.”

The Ka-band antennas of EchoStar 19 will offer 183 spot beams and 22 gateway beams, which will cover North America. It is expected that the satellite will have a lifetime of 15 years. “Our target markets will continue to be the geographies not penetrated by cable and fiber, and we believe that the improved service offering will allow us to expand our addressable market of underserved homes,” Kaul said.

“We intend to announce our Gen5 service plans and pricing in January, followed by pre-launch marketing. We are obviously very excited about launching the new Gen5 service on (EchoStar 19).”


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