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Do broadband providers really deserve their billions from taxpayers?

Posted by wicked March - 5 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Broadband Monopoly SeattlePI

One of the most common themes stated by those against net neutrality and Title II classification is the need to get the government out of the Internet. As one corporate-funded group noted in their petition to stop the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from issuing rules on net neutrality: “The American people won’t stand for a federal takeover of the Internet. The best way to keep it open and free is what has kept it open and free all along—no government intervention.”

In terms of that government view, many share it and I generally agree with it. I prefer to see the government stay out of meddling in the tech sector. But, why are these same people/groups ignoring the massive involvement that the carriers have with the government on a daily basis?

Let’s start way back in the early 1990’s. In order to receive billions from state and local governments, Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) promised the world without any rules being given to them about how to use such taxpayer money.

What was promised?

By 2000, according to the Bell companies’ annual reports, press releases and state filings, about 50 million households should have been rewired. California’s Pacific Telesis (Pac Bell) promised to have 5.5 million households wired with fiber optic services, Ameritech; which covered 5 states including Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin) promised 6 million homes by 2000, Bell Atlantic claimed 8.75 million homes, and NYNEX said 1.5-2 million by 1996. (Ameritech, Pac Bell, Bell Atlantic and NYNEX were four of the original Bell companies.) Alongside the annual reports, the Bell companies also filed with the FCC to offer “video dialtone” services over fiber optic wire. Over 9,787,400 households in 43 cities were supposed to be upgraded between 1995 and 1997. - Bruce Kushnick, “$200 Billion Broadband,” Teletruth Executive Director, New Networks Institute.

I feel quite comfortable summarizing that we didn’t see results anywhere close to those goals. But maybe over time broadband providers have gotten better at their promises of using taxpayer money in exchange for improved broadband.

 

 

 

FrontierCommunicationsSucks PolarVortexTech

In 2012, West Virginia taxpayers gave Frontier Communications over $125 million in broadband stimulus funds. How did that money get spent?

Last year the state buried a study on their spending of the stimulus money (which they spent $118,000 for) that leaked anyway, highlighting that how Frontier Communications did a sloppy job in tracking spending, may have overbilled taxpayers substantially, and only built a mish mash of geographically scattered fiber upgrades that the majority of state residents wouldn’t benefit from in the slightest. - DSLReports

In Pennsylvania, taxpayers have given Verizon nearly $2.1 billion for services that never came to fruition. In 1994, Verizon (then Bell Atlantic) agreed to have 20% of the state broadband wired by 1998, and 50% by 2004. Note that we are talking about 45MB/s symmetrical fiber service right to the door.

So, how did Verizon do? Not well. In fact, by 2002, the state of Pennsylvania acknowledged that Verizon (again, then Bell Atlantic) would not come close to reaching the agreement and asked Verizon to update their plans as to how they would accomplish the agreement going forward.

That update, which needed to show Verizon was working toward that 45Mbps goal, never really came. Instead, in a ruling this week, the state essentially allowed Verizon to completely ignore the agreement, keep all financial incentives, and provide state-wide connectivity via copper lines, ignoring the language of the original agreement. - DSLReports

In New Jersey, taxpayers gave Verizon almost $13 billion in surcharges in return for having the entire state by 2010, a plan called “Opportunity New Jersey.” Again, Verizon didn’t even come remotely close to finishing off the agreement. When asked why Verizon never even wired many cities in the state, Verizon claimed that their more expensive, data-capped wireless service was more than enough to fulfill the 45 Mbps broadband agreement.

When some state government politicians in New Jersey called out Verizon, Verizon defended themselves by sending bogus public support letters to the state Board of Public Utilities, in the hopes that the state would let Verizon off the hook with the agreement. Verizon was let off the hook.

On the whole, this country seems to have a rich history of simply handing out freebies to the broadband providers. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston wrote a book in 2012, which detailed how for years taxpayers have handed hundreds of billions to cable and phone companies for networks that were never delivered.

To quote one of my favorite tech writers:

Verizon wants what any massive, government-pampered duopolist wants: more strings-free taxpayer money, a lazy regulatory body with no consumer protection authority whatsoever, government protection from competition, and the ability to engage in any business practices they like, no matter how unethical or anti-competitive. - Karl Bode

Back in 2009, the wireless industry’s primary trade and lobbying group, the CTIA, proposed that the FCC use taxpayer dollars to acquire additional spectrum for the wireless industry. According to the CTIA, taxpayers would spend between $1.37 billion and $1.83 billion to free up specific spectrum for mobile broadband service.

But getting back to the federal government, Verizon made $19.3 billion in U.S. pretax profits from 2008-2012. Therefore, it makes sense that Verizon would have to pay a sizeable amount in taxes. Oh, wait.

Verizon paid no federal income taxes during the period; instead got $535 million in tax rebates. Total tax subsidy: $7.3 billion. Received up to $6 billion in federal contracts from 2011 through 2023. - Institute for Policy Studies

AT&T also got quite the help from the terrible federal government by having received over $77 billion in tax breaks from 2008-2012.

Cable and broadband providers have no interest in keeping the government out of their industry. They want the government as involved as ever when it benefits them, which is apparently often.

Softcard App Will Shut Down on March 31, Accounts Closed With It

Posted by Kellex March - 5 - 2015 - Thursday Comments Off

Softcard, the failure of a mobile payment system created by Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, that tried its hardest to kill Google Wallet for years only to be acquired last month by Google in the most hilarious turn of events, is officially shutting down on March 31. According to emails being sent out to the four Softcard users in existence, the Softcard app will no longer work come March 31 and accounts will then be closed shortly after. 

We have also heard from sources that the Softcard app will be pulled from Google Play by March 16 and that sign-ups for the service have already stopped.

Here is a copy of the email:

softcard shutdown

With Google acquiring some of the tech behind Softcard and the service preparing for the end, now is the time to go ahead and download Google Wallet. Trust me, your mobile payment life will be much better by making the switch.

Cheers J!

Softcard App Will Shut Down on March 31, Accounts Closed With It is a post from: Droid Life

Verizon starts updating HTC One (M8) with Android Lollipop

Posted by wicked March - 4 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

HTC_One_M8_Back_HTC_Logo_TA_02

HTC One (M8) users on Verizon may be glad to know the carrier has finally started to roll out Android Lollipop to the device on their network. The update just started rolling out this evening, so it may be a few days before you receive a notification letting you know it is available in you have an HTC One (M8) on Verizon. You can check for the update manually by going into your Settings and checking for updates.

The new version of Android brings the standard fare we know about for Lollipop, like the new notification panel and lock screen notifications. Verizon notes that World Clock Globe has been removed for “memory considerations.” In addition to Lollipop, the Verizon update includes a couple other enhancements. Band 4 roaming has been enabled on the HTC One (M8) and the 3-way calling feature has been improved.

For more information you can hit the source link below for Verizon’s announcement regarding the update.

source: Verizon

Come comment on this article: Verizon starts updating HTC One (M8) with Android Lollipop

Android 5.0 Lollipop update now rolling out to Verizon HTC One M8

Posted by wicked March - 4 - 2015 - Wednesday Comments Off

htc-one-m8-launch-aa-14-of-27 resized

Not too long ago, HTC announced that it would fail to update all carrier variants of the One M7 and M8 handsets to Lollipop within the company’s self-imposed 90-day guarantee. We’ve seen the update roll out to most other carrier variants in the US since that announcement, but one carrier that always seems to be the straggler of the bunch is Verizon. We heard a few weeks ago that HTC anticipated the arrival of Lollipop to the Verizon One M8 in early March, and it seems as though they didn’t disappoint. Verizon is now pushing out the update to Android 5.0 Lollipop to HTC One M8 owners.

Just like all the other One M8 variants, your phone will run Sense 6 atop all of the beautiful Material Design enhancements that Android 5.0 Lollipop brings to the table. Among others, you’ll get a slew of new security features, new notification improvements, a redesigned recent apps panel, and many, many more. Specifically for Big Red customers, the Lollipop update brings the addition of Band 4 LTE roaming and enhancements to 3-way calling.

If you don’t want to wait for the update to hit your phone, you can check for it manually by heading to Settings>Software update>Check new. Any Verizon One M8 owners receive the update yet? If so, how are you liking it?

Verizon shares a picture of the Galaxy S6 with its famous branding

Posted by wicked March - 3 - 2015 - Tuesday Comments Off

 

2000px-Verizon_logo

Verizon took to its Twitter profile, earlier today, not only share an image of Samsung’s Galaxy S6 with its famous Big Red branding, but also to announce it’s plans to launch the handset on its 4G LTE network in the United States early 2nd quarter.

Hit the break to see the picture in all its glory.

Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 16.42.50

Come comment on this article: Verizon shares a picture of the Galaxy S6 with its famous branding

And This is How Verizon Will Brand the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Posted by Kellex March - 2 - 2015 - Monday Comments Off

Shortly after yesterday’s big MWC announcements wrapped, we poked fun at Verizon’s mid-back branding of their variant of the HTC One M9. To keep it fair, we couldn’t help but do the same for Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge now that we have official photos. As you all know, Verizon is notorious for blasting their “Verizon 4G LTE” logo in increasing size all over the backs (and sometimes fronts) of phones. They appear to be doing so in full force this year on all flagships. 

As can be seen in the images included through a Verizon news Tweet, the branding is kind of all over the place, and definitely quite different from what Samsung had originally intended. Verizon and its “Verizon 4G LTE” brand takes over the middle of the back plate, set above a semi-centered “Galaxy S6″ or “Galaxy S6 edge” depending on the device. It’s a bit odd, because in Samsung’s own official renders, neither the S6 or S6 Edge name appears on the back. In fact, all each says is “Samsung.”

As a reminder, Samsung went with the non-removable back this year, so if you go Verizon, you are stuck.

Verizon also mentioned that the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge will arrive in early Q2.

verizon galaxy s6 edge

Via:  @VZWnews

And This is How Verizon Will Brand the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge is a post from: Droid Life

Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge Coming to These US Carriers and Retailers

Posted by Kellex March - 1 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

Starting in April, you will be able to buy Samsung’s new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge phones at carriers and retailers across the US. Not all are getting both phones, though, so if one in particular grabbed your attention – like say the Galaxy S6 Edge – you will want to check the list below. 

Galaxy S6 Availability

  • Carriers:  AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, Boost Mobile, Cricket, and MetroPCS
  • Retailers:  Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, and Walmart

Galaxy S6 Edge Availability

  • Carriers:  AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon
  • Retailers:  Best Buy, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club, Target, Walmart

Specific dates and pricing will be provided by each closer to availability.

Which one are you leaning towards?

Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge Coming to These US Carriers and Retailers is a post from: Droid Life

If you are skipping Samsung’s two new amazing-looking phones to instead going with HTC’s new One M9, know that the phone won’t be available from Verizon until some time in Q2 of this year. HTC announced this morning that the new M9 would start shipping in March at select carriers and retailers. However, Big Red likely needs more time to test it…or something. Maybe it’s hanging out with the Nexus 6?

Oh, if you buy the One M9 on Verizon, you also get this awesomely large “Verizon 4G LTE” logo on the phone’s backside to look forward to. 

FYI: Verizon’s HTC One M9, With Its Massive “Verizon 4G LTE” Logo, Won’t Launch Until Q2 is a post from: Droid Life

HTC One M9 heading to Verizon, logos included

Posted by wicked March - 1 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

htc_one_m9_verizon_silver_gold

In true Verizon fashion, the HTC One M9 will be available with two sizeable logos on its rear. Big Red confirmed the One M9 on its network by posting an image of handset on Twitter. As you can see in the image above, both Verizon and 4G LTE logos are stamped. The carrier will also include its LTE logo in the status bar and plenty of bloatware such as the Verizon Messages app.

The four largest carriers in the United States’ have all confirmed that they will be selling the HTC One M9.

Click here for our MWC 2015 coverage.

Source: @VZWnews (Twitter)

Come comment on this article: HTC One M9 heading to Verizon, logos included

Here is a List of Retailers and Carriers That Will Sell the HTC One M9

Posted by Kellex March - 1 - 2015 - Sunday Comments Off

The HTC One M9 is now official, so you are probably wondering where you can buy one? Depending on who you ask, the phone should arrive around the globe in March or “early Spring” at a variety of retailers and wireless carriers. Yes, all of your favorite spots will have the new M9 for sale.

HTC’s press release for the One M9 specifically states that the phone will arrive at AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon by “early Spring.” It will also be available through HTC.com, Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, and Target. Finally, an unlocked version will be sold through HTC.com.

A Best Buy posting suggests that the off-contract price will drop in around $649.

We still don’t have specific dates, but we are now in March so the launch could be within the next couple of weeks.

htc one m9-4

Here is a List of Retailers and Carriers That Will Sell the HTC One M9 is a post from: Droid Life

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