AT&T Unveils New ‘Sleek’ U-Verse On Demand Hub
AT&T is launching a redesign of its U-verse On Demand storefront, intended to streamline the service to be more convenient and user-friendly.
AT&T promised a "sleek" new look with more intuitive navigation. The interface features a bar on the left, for easy access to categories like: My Videos, which houses all your current rentals; My Queue, a list of saved selections you want to watch later; and My Offers, which serves up coupons and free offers.
A revamped Search function also allows you to find titles by cast, read bios, and more, AT&T said, while poster art from TV shows and movies helps you find content faster. More features are in the works, AT&T said, such as an advanced recommendation engine that will serve up suggestions based on what you watch.
"Customers have access to thousands of titles today, and our new On Demand storefront will help them quickly discover the best movies and titles," Mel Coker, chief marketing officer for, AT&T Home Solutions, said in a statment. "We have a history of rolling out enhancements for U-verse customers to give them a better and differentiated TV experience. It's what U-verse has always been about, and we have even more in store for our customers."
AT&T tested the new storefront in its Austin labs and with customers in several markets before rolling it out, and it received high marks for "ease of use, search effectiveness and overall customer satisfaction," according to AT&T. In Austin and San Antonio, the revamped storefront also led to increased use of on-demand services, AT&T said.
AT&T Launches No-Contract Service, Aio Wireless
AT&T today launched a new wireless service, dubbed Aio Wireless, that will provide customers with no-contract talk, text, and data.
Aio Wireless, which will function as a subsidiary of AT&T Inc., is coming to "multiple markets" over the next year, but will initially start in Houston, Orlando, and Tampa.
Aio said pricing will vary from $35 to $70 per month for 4G service, depending on the market. For Tampa, the Aio website listed several service plans: Aio Basic with unlimited data (throttled after 250MB), talk, and text for $40 per month; Aio Smart, which throttles after 2GB for $55 per month; and Aio Pro, which throttles data after 7GB, for $70 per month.
A $15 per month tablet plan offers 250MB of high-speed data.
Gadget users can also add another 1GB of data to their device or add global calling and texting across 35 countries for a one-time or monthly payment of $10.
Customers can bring their own, unlocked device to use on Aio, or purchase one from the carrier. The Aio website lists a number of smartphones, including the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy Express, and Lumia 620.
AT&T Digital Life Promises Whole Home Connectivity
On Friday, AT&T launched its new home automation service, dubbed Digital Life, promising to painlessly connect all aspects of customers' homes to its wireless network. Riding the momentum surrounding the "Internet of Things," AT&T's Digital Life offers customers an integrated solution for wireless home automation and security. The company stressed that its newest venture will focus on ease of use, customization, and pricing transparency.
At the heart of Digital Life is 24/7 home security, which customers will be able to customize to suit their needs. This includes security cameras, sensors placed throughout the home, and professional monitoring provided through AT&T. That's nothing new though; the exciting part here is the wireless connectivity and remote access afforded, allowing customers to quickly and easily view live feeds of their home from mobile devices like the Apple iPad.
Beyond security, AT&T wants customers to enjoy the benefits of wireless home automation. From climate control to lighting to water shutoff valves, Digital Life customers will be able to wirelessly control nearly every aspect of their home. This extends beyond monitoring and simple on/off controls, as Digital Life offers automated schedules and even rules for how your home will react to changing conditions. For example, you can set your porch light to turn on and off at the same time every day or set up sensors to shut off your water if a leak is detected.
AT&T Expands 4G LTE Network, Adding 77 New Markets This Summer
AT&T this week continued to build out its 4G LTE network, bringing faster speeds to six markets across the country.
AT&T 4G LTE is now available in Jackson, Tenn.; Kalamazoo, Mich.; Napa, Calif.; Orangeburg, S.C.; Rocky Mount-Wilson, N.C.; and Santa Rosa-Petaluma, Calif. The move brings the total number of 4G LTE markets to 182. The carrier said today it will add another 77 by the end of the summer (see below), as it moves toward its goal of covering 300 million people by the end of 2014.
Earlier this year AT&T fired up its 4G network in Northwest Georgia, covering the cities of Dalton and Calhoun, as well as Albany, Ga., in the southwestern part of the state. Up north, a February expansion included Norfolk, Va., as well as parts of Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
The carrier also expanded existing LTE coverage in parts of Philadelphia and Baltimore, where service initially launched last year. The Pennsylvania extension covered parts of Montgomery and Bucks Counties, including Doylestown and Hatfield. In Maryland, sections of Cecil County, including Elkton, gained access.
AT&T is still lagging behind Verizon's 440-plus nationwide markets, but has Sprint beat by almost 125. T-Mobile, meanwhile, launched its 4G LTE network in seven cities — Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington, D.C. — late last month.
Boingo, AT&T Offer Free Wi-Fi at International Airports
AT&T customers traveling abroad can take advantage of the carrier's new partnership with Boingo Wireless, but only if they subscribe to specific international data plans.
The companies today announced that travelers will have access to Boingo's global network of Wi-Fi hotspots in major international airports via the AT&T Wi-Fi International app. The catch: It is applicable only to those with the $60 (300MB) or $120 (800MB) Data Global Add-On packages.
With Boingo, AT&T customers can consume up to 1GB of data over Wi-Fi each month for free.
"We're committed to keeping our customers connected to the people, places and information that matter most," JR Wilson, vice president of AT&T Mobility Partnerships and Alliances, said in a statement. "Which is why we're pleased that many of them can now seamlessly connect to Boingo's global Wi-Fi during their travels abroad."
Boingo and AT&T did not specify which airports will offer the service, except to say that service will expand throughout 2013. Boingo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The deal also means that Boingo customers traveling in the U.S. will have access to AT&T's network of Wi-Fi hotspots in airports, restaurants, sporting arenas, and retail locations.
AT&T Samsung Galaxy S4 Pre-Orders Begin April 16
AT&T announced Thursday that it will start accepting pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy S4 on April 16.
The device will cost $249.99 with a two-year service contract. AT&T will be taking orders on its website; for now, users can sign up to be notified when the Galaxy S4 is available. AT&T did not reveal when users could expect to actually have the smartphone in their hands.
"We are proud to offer this iconic device and continue to offer our customers the best smartphone line-up, with a variety of devices for every lifestyle and budget," AT&T said in a statement.
The Galaxy S4 will tap into AT&T's 4G LTE network, which is now available in 157 markets.
Earlier this week, T-Mobile said it would start offering the Galaxy S4 on May 1. The carrier did not reveal pricing, but T-Mobile recently embraced a no-contract policy and will be charging $99 down plus $20 per month for $24 months for other high-profile smartphones like the HTC One and BlackBerry Z10.
AT&T: Don’t Worry About Phone Unlocking Ban
AT&T said today that the recent ban on unauthorized cell phone unlocking will have "very little impact" on most of the carrier's customers.
The recent decision by the Copyright Office to ban cell phone unlocking without a carrier's permission was "reasonable," but will ultimately not affect very many AT&T customers, Joan Marsh, AT&T's vice president of Federal Regulatory, wrote in a blog post.
"As we make clear on our website, if we have the unlock code or can reasonably get it from the manufacturer, AT&T currently will unlock a device for any customer whose account has been active for at least 60 days; whose account is in good standing and has no unpaid balance; and who has fulfilled his or her service agreement commitment," Marsh wrote.
AT&T also said it will offer SIM cards to those who bring unlocked, compatible devices to AT&T's network. AT&T will unlock up to five devices per account, per year, and requests can be submitted online. AT&T will not, however, unlock devices that have been reported lost or stolen.
"We believe this policy is fully consistent with the White House statement from earlier this week – namely that if a customer has paid for his or her device and is no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation, the customer should be able to use the device on another network," Marsh continued. "We hope this clears up any confusion."
AT&T first started allowing non-contract iPhone users to unlock their devices for use on other GSM networks in April 2012, which helped facilitate the use of Apple smartphones while traveling abroad.
AT&T Expands 4G LTE Network in Georgia, Virginia
AT&T customers in parts of Georgia and Virginia now have access to the carrier's ultra-fast 4G LTE network.
The nation's second-largest wireless carrier today fired up its 4G LTE network in Northwest Georgia, covering the cities of Dalton and Calhoun. AT&T also rolled out service in Albany, Ga., which is located in the Southwestern part of the state. Traveling back up north, AT&T's Tuesday rollout also includes Norfolk, Va. as well as parts of Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.
Besides adding those new markets, AT&T also expanded its existing 4G LTE coverage today in parts of Philadelphia and Baltimore. The company initially launched service in the greater Philadelphia area back in September, and today's expansion covers parts of Montgomery and Bucks counties, including Doylestown and Hatfield. In Maryland, the expansion covers parts of Cecil County, including Elkton.
With the latest rollouts, AT&T's 4G LTE network is now live in 141 markets, the carrier said. That's less than Verizon's more than 440 markets. Sprint is currently coming in third in the 4G LTE rollout race with around 58 markets, while T-Mobile should begin its upgrade to 4G LTE any day now.
Meanwhile, in other AT&T news, the carrier yesterday announced that it is rebranding its U-verse Live TV mobile subscription service as Mobile TV. The service is available on most AT&T smartphones, and now costs $9.99 a month, regardless of the phone you use.
AT&T also announced yesterday that the Unite, a 4G LTE mobile hotspot, will be available for just 99 cents with a two-year agreement beginning Feb. 8.
AT&T Buys Verizon Spectrum for $1.9 Billion
Verizon Wireless and AT&T continued to dance the spectrum shuffle today, with the companies inking deals for the transfer of licenses in the 700 MHz and AWS bands.
Verizon agreed to sell 39 lower 700 MHz B block licenses to AT&T for $1.9 billion. In exchange, AT&T will hand over 10 MHz of AWS spectrum to Verizon in western markets like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Fresno, and Portland, Oregon.
Verizon also sold 700 MHz B block licenses to Florida-based private equity firm Grain Management for $189 million in exchange for leased access to Grain's AWS spectrum in Dallas, Texas - which Grain is buying from AT&T.
The sales are part of Verizon's April 2012 promise to sell its 700 MHz spectrum if regulators approved its $3.6 billion purchase of spectrum from U.S. cable companies. That deal went through in August, and Verizon is now ridding itself of its 700 MHz licenses.
Back in 2008, Verizon spent $9.4 billion on 109 licenses in the 700-MHz band during an auction run by the Federal Communications Commisison, ending up with spectrum in the A, B, and C blocks. Verizon said last year that it has used spectrum in the upper C block to deploy its 4G LTE network, and plans to use the cable-owned spectrum to continue that rollout. As a result, Verizon is selling the 700-MHz spectrum it purchased in the A and B blocks to the highest bidder.
AT&T is More Profitable But Falls Short on Expectations, Customer Additions
Analysts predicted a profit of $0.4545 USD/share on revenue of $32.2B USD. AT&T delivered a profit of $0.44 USD/share (after one-time charges) on revenue of $32.6B USD. AT&T did reward shareholders with $4.4B USD in stock buybacks for the year, taking its total for the year to $12.8B USD.
AT&T sold 10.2 million smartphones for the quarter, which it claims is a record for any American phone carrier. IPhone upgrades accounted for the majority of those sales; in total AT&T sold 8.6 million iPhones, ahead of Verizon's 6.2 million iPhones sold. AT&T added 780,000 total new post-paid subscribers, less than the 2.1 million Verizon tacked on.
If Verizon is winning the war of customer additions, AT&T is winning on the profitability front. However, both of America's top two carriers fell slightly short of analyst hopes amid various issues, including damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Ma Bell continues to grow its U-Verse cable service, which is slowly creeping across the country.