The Tech News Blog

April 17, 2014

AT&T Threatens to Ditch Spectrum Auction Over Rules

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AT&T might withdraw from next year's incentive spectrum auction if the FCC imposes rules on the proceedings that make it difficult for AT&T to secure the spectrum it wants, the company said this week.

Specifically, AT&T is concerned that the FCC wants to restrict just how much spectrum a larger company can purchase in any one market. The idea is to prevent huge carriers like AT&T or Verizon from buying everything, allowing smaller players - including T-Mobile and Sprint - to have a chance. But the larger carriers argue that restrictions might not allow them to purchase enough spectrum to make the investment worthwhile.

"As we understand it, after a certain aggregate threshold is reached in the auction (which threshold currently remains undefined), staff is proposing that certain significant bidding restrictions be imposed on any bidder that has more than one-third of the available low band spectrum in a market," Joan Marsh, vice president of federal regulatory issues at AT&T, said in a Wednesday letter submitted to the FCC. "AT&T estimates that if such restrictions are adopted, it will be restricted in markets covering over 70 percent of U.S. [points of presence] POPs."

March 17, 2014

4G LTE Surface 2 Arrives Tuesday

Microsoft Surface 2 AT&T 4G LTE

A 4G LTE version of Microsoft's Surface 2 tablet arrives on Tuesday via AT&T for $679.

The 64GB model will be available at Microsoft retail and online stores, as well as all Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile locations and

Microsoft's Surface 2 boasts increased speed and battery life over its predecessor, a dual-position kickstand, Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013 RT and Outlook 2013 RT, a full HD screen, an upgraded front- and rear-facing cameras, and a full-size USB 3.0 port.

New customers will also receive 200GB of free OneDrive storage, good for two years.

"Every day, more and more people are using Surface," Panos Panay, corporate vice president of Surface, wrote in a blog post. "As the device becomes a part of people's everyday lives, I get excited about the possibilities that start to open with a fully connected device."

February 24, 2014

AT&T Extends 4G LTE Roaming to 13 Countries

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At MWC in Barcelona today, AT&T announced that it will offer 4G LTE data roaming in 13 more countries, including the trade show's host country of Spain.

AT&T launched LTE data roaming in Canada and the U.K. in December, and it will now be available in Spain, France, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore, Guam, Hong Kong, and Antigua, and Barbuda.

"AT&T is committed to providing its customers a wider global footprint to enjoy LTE data speeds," the company said in a news release, which said AT&T has agreements for LTE roaming in more than 200 countries.

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February 5, 2014

AT&T Ends $450 T-Mobile Poaching Promotion

Switch to AT&TLess than a month after launching a promotion to lure customers away from T-Mobile with the promise of up to $450 in cash and discounts, AT&T has abruptly ended the offer.

"We can confirm that promotion is over," an AT&T spokeswoman said in an email to PCMag. The promotion, which began on Jan. 3, was a limited-time offer, and officially ended on Jan. 31.

While it lasted, T-Mobile customers who switched to AT&T could trade in their smartphone for a credit worth up to $250, which could be used for AT&T products and services. As part of the deal, former T-Mobile customers could also nab $200 per line when they purchased an AT&T device at full retail price, or activated an existing device, and selected the carrier's early upgrade Next plan.

T-Mobile was, of course, not impressed by the move. In a statement last month, the company's outspoken CEO John Legere called the promotion "a desperate move by AT&T on the heels of what must have been a terrible Q4 and holiday for them."

He seems more pleased now that the deal has ended. Legere took to Twitter this week to poke fun at AT&T and its CEO Randall Stephenson for ending the offer so abruptly.

February 2, 2014

AT&T Drops Prices with 10GB+ Mobile Share Value Plans

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Good news for AT&T fans with a giant family, a conglomerate of friends, or another means by which one signs up for a family plan with the carrier. The company announced today that it is debuting "best-ever prices" for its "Mobile Share Value" plan – a fancy way of saying "buckets of data shared among a group of individuals."

Here's how the savings will work, straight from AT&T: Anyone purchasing a Mobile Share Value plan will get 10GB of data to play with. Slap two smartphones on the plan and the monthly service cost works out to $130. Each additional smartphone added to the Mobile Share Value plan costs an addition $15 — thus, a family of three will pony up $145, four will dish out $160, and five will cough up $175. In addition to the data, members of the Mobile Share Value plan enjoy unlimited minutes for chatting and unlimited texts.

Great deal, right?

Here's a catch. If you're coming from another carrier – as in, you don't already have an agreement with AT&T for service, you have one of three options: Pay for a brand-new phone unsubsidized by AT&T; bring your own compatible phone to use on AT&T's network; or sign up for AT&T's early-upgrade program, Next, as part of the Mobile Share Value plan.

January 29, 2014

AT&T Offering $100 Credit for New Lines

AT&T $100 Credit

AT&T announced today that it will provide a $100 credit to customers who add a new line of service to their accounts.

New and existing customers can nab a $100 credit on their bills for each new smartphone, tablet, feature phone, mobile hotspot or Wireless Home Phone line of service they add to AT&T.

The offer ends on March 31 and applies on post-paid accounts; GoPhone, Machine-to-Machine, Enterprise on Demand, and BusinessConnect plans are not included. Customers also need to be with AT&T for 45 days and have an account in good standing before they can take advantage of the offer.

"This $100 credit is a way we can reward our existing customers who add an additional line of service for their loyalty, and it's an incentive for customers of Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and other wireless carriers to come to AT&T and enjoy the nation's most reliable 4G LTE network," David Christopher, chief marketing officer of AT&T Mobility, said in a statement.

January 6, 2014

AT&T’s ‘Sponsored Data’ Lets Advertisers Foot the Bill

AT&T Announces Sponsored Data, Which Lets Advertisers Pay For Data

LAS VEGAS–AT&T today announced Sponsored Data, a way for companies to pre-pay for the data AT&T customers use to access their services, putting those services outside subscribers' data caps.

And while AT&T and its corporate customers say that this will offer new options for companies to reach AT&T subscribers, consumer advocates are worried that it'll make firms that don't do deals with AT&T second-class citizens.

"It's going to provide fantastic benefits for companies who work with us and our mutual customers," AT&T senior executive vice president John Donovan said at an AT&T developer event in advance of CES today. "Similar to a 1-800 phone number, or free shipping for Internet commerce, AT&T's new sponsored data service opens up new data use options to businesses that choose to participate as sponsors."

Sponsored data and non-sponsored data will be delivered with the same speed and quality of service, Donovan assured us; the only difference will be who's paying.

Donovan brought out some companies that work with AT&T and plan to use sponsored data. Bud Flagstad of United Health Group, for instance, said it'll be used to push health data and suggestions to UHC consumers for free.

Suzie Kim Riley from Aquto had a more radical thought. Her company turns mobile-data megabytes into a currency, so people can get additional data on their monthly service plans by signing up for offers or buying stuff online.

"Mobile data as a reward actually works very well," she said. "We've basically turned megabytes into a form of currency."

Sponsored data is "coming soon" to AT&T LTE subscribers, the carrier says.

January 3, 2014

AT&T Offers Up to $450 to Switch From T-Mobile

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The battle between AT&T and T-Mobile is heating up, with AT&T offering T-Mobile customers several hundred dollars to switch carriers.

Starting today, T-Mobile customers who switch to AT&T can trade in their smartphones and get up to $250 that can be used on AT&T products and services. They can nab an additional $200 per line when they switch to AT&T and select an AT&T early upgrade Next plan, buy a device at full retail price, or activate a device they already own.

Trade-in values will vary depending on the current state of your device, but "most popular smartphones will qualify for a value of $250," AT&T said.

According to an AT&T website, making the switch and pocketing your cash is a four-step process. First shop for a smartphone and select an AT&T Mobile Share Value plan. Before checkout, enter your existing T-Mobile number and transfer it to AT&T. Then, visit and follow the steps to trade in your current smartphone for an AT&T Promotion Card worth up to $250. When the switch is done, you can get that extra $200 if you stick with AT&T for three months.

December 5, 2013

AT&T Unveils Cheaper No-Contract Plans

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Starting Sunday, AT&T will make it more affordable for off-contract customers to use the carrier's service.

AT&T's new Mobile Share Value Plans will be available as of Dec. 6, and are open to those users who purchase a phone at full retail price, bring a compatible phone to the network, have finished their contract, or participate in AT&T's Next early upgrade plan.

big complaint about AT&T Next was that it didn't give customers a service price discount for dropping the contract and paying full price for a phone. Now, off-contract and Next customers will save about $15 per month on service. Customers can select data plans ranging from 300MB to 50MB per month, but someone with a smartphone and the 2GB per month plan will pay $80 per month under the new plan rather than $95, for example.

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November 4, 2013

AT&T: iPad Activations Up 200 Percent Over Last Year

iPad Air Alt

Though lines for the iPad Air were not as long as those for the new iPhones, AT&T isn't complaining. The carrier said Monday that it saw a sharp increase in iPad activations over the weekend.

"iPad activations on AT&T increased more than 200 percent over the past three days compared to last year's launch weekend, driven by consumer excitement around the new iPad Air and the popularity of AT&T Mobile Share, which lets customers add an iPad to their existing data plan for just $10 a month," Ralph de la Vega, president and CEO of AT&T Mobility, said in a statement. "We also saw strong demand for AT&T Next, which offers customers an iPad for $0 down."

The iPad Air went on sale Friday in 42 countries, including the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Apple has yet to release official sales figures for the new tablet, but CEO Tim Cook said during a recent earnings call that he was confident that it would be an "iPad Christmas."