The Power to Password Protect

Posted by: Bob Quinn on August 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Once upon a time, with the increasing popularity of talking on the go, AT&T made it easier for our wireless subscribers to get access to their cell phone voicemail boxes without having to use their password when they were calling the mailbox from their mobile device.  For folks who do a lot of talking while traveling, that option proved safe and certainly more convenient (no entering four or more numbers into the telephone) for our users. 

However, given the advent and, unfortunately, the wide availability of sophisticated telephone number spoofing technology that allows people to “fake” the telephone number they are calling from, we are moving in a new direction.  We have long encouraged our subscribers who might have concerns about voicemail privacy to establish passwords and to set their voicemail preferences to require the use of a password whenever voicemail is accessed. 

Beginning today, however, we will automatically set the default voicemail setting to Password Protect on any new subscriber or new line added to an existing account.  In addition, beginning in early 2012, we will set the default voicemail setting to Password Protect anytime you upgrade or change your handset.  That means whenever you get a new device, you will be required to set a password and use it unless you affirmatively turn the feature off. 

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Who Knows Broadband Speeds?
Sam Knows.

Posted by: Bob Quinn on August 2, 2011 at 11:44 am

So, the FCC/Sam Knows “Measuring Broadband America” speed test is finally finished and guess what?  The Sam Knows results, which measured the actual speeds provided by ISPs to their subscribers, demonstrates that American consumers are getting the broadband speeds they’re paying for.  For example, most major broadband providers deliver actual speeds that are “generally 80% to 90% of advertised maximum speeds or better.”  And even during peak usage periods (7pm to 11pm on weeknights), ISPs were still able to deliver actual speed that are “80% of advertised maximum speeds or better.”  These results, based on data from monitoring equipment installed in consumer homes and in ISP networks, debunk the conventional mythology that ISPs are delivering far less than the speeds they advertise.  Unfortunately, that mythology grew out of an unscientific and unreliable report that was picked up and repeated by some credible sources in the past, even making its way into the National Broadband Plan.  Of course, real facts will not be enough to satisfy everyone.  Some of the so-called public interest groups actually began bashing the report a couple of weeks ago (apparently you don’t have to actually see a report before you begin attacking its findings).  Like other conspiracy theorists, those consumer groups are wedded to the mythology and won’t let things like pesky facts get in their way.  

But you have to hand it to the FCC.  True to the Chairman’s word, he was not satisfied with guesswork and instead insisted on conducting a fact-based inquiry into what was really happening in the marketplace.  The results are in, and it’s clear that consumers are getting high-quality broadband services from their ISPs.  Perhaps now we can get past the rhetoric about advertised vs. actual speeds and focus on the important task of ensuring all Americans have access to these broadband services.  Reforming the universal service program to provide support for broadband, making more spectrum available for mobile broadband services, and, of course, approving the AT&T / T-Mobile merger, which will enable the combined company to deploy LTE to 97% of the U.S. population, would all be big steps the FCC could take toward the goal of making broadband ubiquitous in America.  SamKnows has shown us what broadband can do where it’s available; the challenge now is to make sure everyone has an opportunity to use it.

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Bringing Healthcare
Into a 4G LTE World

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on July 26, 2011 at 2:47 pm

By Jeff Brueggeman, AT&T Vice President of Public Policy and Deputy Chief Privacy Officer

A recent AT&T television spot shows a video diagnosis between a patient in an ambulance and an emergency room doctor over a mobile tablet device.  It’s a powerful example of how broadband technology enables cutting-edge health care solutions.  After participating in a recent seminar on Capitol Hill sponsored by the Institute for e-Health Policy, I walked away further convinced that continued broadband build out, including the expanded next-generation mobile broadband network that will be enabled by the AT&T and T-Mobile combination, will promote e-Health initiatives nationwide. 

One of the key takeaways from this seminar is the trend of e-Health toward mobile devices, which enable medical information to be shared quickly and securely.  The challenge is to provide customers with a full range of high quality e-Health offerings.  Not only do customers desire High-Definition video conferencing with doctors, but they also want low-cost, ubiquitous, mobile services, like apps that help monitor and control chronic conditions and wireless-enabled devices to remotely monitor patient biometrics in the home and on-the-go.  AT&T’s challenge is building an intelligent and secure broadband network that meets all of these needs. 

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The Facts that Matter
On Jobs and Diversity

Posted by: Joan Marsh on July 19, 2011 at 9:42 am

In a blog posting last week, Public Knowledge attempted to mount an attack on AT&T on two fronts:  jobs and diversity.  Faced with the unpleasant reality that those whose very mission is to promote and protect those agendas – labor unions and civil rights organizations – have enthusiastically endorsed the AT&T/T-Mobile USA merger, PK patronizingly dismisses their advocacy as misinformed, going so far as to accuse them of “blindly follow[ing] AT&T off of a cliff.”  But ironically, even as PK arrogantly discredits those who support the merger, its analysis is cluttered with misinformation and irrelevancies.  

For example, PK, using testimony from a state hearing, asserts that, since 2004, AT&T reduced its workforce by 40% in California while its access line loss was under 9% nationally.  Had PK bothered to check the facts it would have learned that AT&T lost over 11% of its total switched access lines last year alone, with an 11.2% access line loss in 2009 as well.  Indeed, over the past 9 years, AT&T has lost a full half of its access lines.  Yet from 2006 to 2010, AT&T employee headcount decreased by only approximately 12%.  So, far from cutting jobs at a rate that exceeds its access line losses, AT&T has lost access lines at a rate that far exceeds its headcount decreases.  

PK also conveniently ignores the significant investment that will be necessary to expand our LTE network to reach over 97% of all Americans.  That investment will create jobs, and will have job-creating ripple effects throughout the economy, particularly in rural areas.  Recognizing these important ripple effects, the CWA commissioned a study that found that the transaction will create as many as 96,000 new, quality jobs, while accelerating broadband build out and improving wireless communications.  

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Bringing LTE to Rural America

Posted by: Joan Marsh on July 5, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Late last month, 76 Democratic Congressional Representatives urged the FCC and the Department of Justice to give important consideration to the increased broadband wireless coverage that will be made possible by AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile.  More specifically, the letter recognized the significant benefits of expanded LTE broadband services to 55 million Americans that might not otherwise see 4G LTE deployments in their communities.

AT&T has made clear that the scale, spectrum, and other resources generated by the transaction will permit AT&T to deploy LTE – the premier next-generation wireless broadband technology – to more than 97% of the U.S. population.  That deployment in turn will create jobs, incent investment, help bridge the digital divide and help achieve the Administration’s broadband objectives for rural America, relying entirely on private capital and without the expenditure of government funds.

Free Press has long acknowledged that high-speed broadband Internet access has become a necessity for productivity and economic growth.  Free Press also acknowledges that more than one-third of Americans still lack access to a high speed service in their home and laments that “whole regions of the country are not being served by broadband providers.”  Yet, when confronted with AT&T’s commitment to deploy LTE – a faster and more spectrally efficient wireless broadband technology – to a significant portion of all Americans now under-served, Free Press glibly accuses us of misleading members of Congress and making “phony promises.”  In support of this, Free Press points to our ongoing efforts to expand our HSPA+ deployments – apparently concluding that HSPA+ is the same as LTE.

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