An $80 billion merger between two of the country’s biggest communications companies will become a political hot potato for the next U.S. president given the size and scope of the deal.AT&T is expected to announce Saturday that it will buy Time Warner in a deal valued at more than $80 billion that could reignite Washington fears about consolidation in the telecom industry. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump weighed in against the deal before it was announced.The pairing would create a telecom behemoth by combining AT&T’s wireless, broadband and satellite services with Time Warner’s film and cable properties, which include HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. AT&T completed a nearly $50 billion purchase of DirecTV last year. The deal has not been announced but the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets have reported it’s coming as soon as today, citing unnamed sources.The merger continues a flurry of consolidation in the media industry, coming on the heels of Charter’s takeover of Time Warner Cable, the pay-TV provider, earlier this year. If approved, the AT&T-Time Warner tie-up could create a major rival to the cable powerhouse created by the 2011 merger between Comcast and NBCUniversal.Public Knowledge was quick to raise the alarm against further consolidation. The advocacy group warned combining a major programmer with a distributor could lead to AT&T favoring Time Warner content on its platform or making it more expensive for AT&T’s competitors to access Time Warner programming.“Ultimately, it would be AT&T's job to try to prove that this deal would benefit, rather than harm consumers and competition,” Public Knowledge senior counsel John Bergmayer said in a statement before the deal was announced. “As with all proposed mergers, competition authorities should carefully review an AT&T/Time Warner transaction to determine whether the substantial competitive dangers are either outweighed by demonstrable benefits or whether the dangers can be prevented with thoroughly enforceable conditions.”Before it can proceed, however, the deal will have to survive a regulatory review, although it's not yet clear what agency will take the lead. Time Warner also owns a TV station in Atlanta, Ga., which could draw FCC attention. Both the DOJ and FCC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.Any governmental review would almost certainly stretch into the next presidential administration. Already Trump has slammed the proposed merger, pledging during a speech in Pennsylvania that he wouldn't allow the deal to proceed."As an example of the power structure I'm fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few," Trump said in Gettysburg, Pa.Trump then directed his ire at other major transactions and tech companies. He said he disapproved of the Comcast-NBC Universal merger, and pledged that if he became president, he would consider breaking it up. He also said he Amazon “controls” the Washington Post and should be paying more taxes. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013, and the newspaper is owned by him, not Amazon.A spokesman for Hillary Clinton's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.--Ashley Gold contributed to this story.
Telecom Stock Roundup: FCC Incentive Auction Sees Price Cut, FTC Challenges AT&T's Data Throttling Ruling
The telecom industry experienced a good run on the bourse last week as most of the key stocks traded in the green.
Evidence of a hostile workplace for women at the FCC should have raised red flags about the agency's prevailing institutional culture and prompted swift remedial action. Instead, the agency's chairman, Tom Wheeler, appears to have done nothing but engage in a pattern of denial, delay, and inaction.
Новый смартфон HTC Bolt (кодовое имя Acadia), видимо, прошёл сертификацию в Федеральной комиссии по связи США (FCC). По данным источников, новая модель будет поставляться с предустановленной операционной системой Android 7.0 Nougat. Поэтому после появления сообщений о том, что в FCC прошёл сертификацию новый гаджет тайваньской компании, работающий под управлением Nougat, а также в связи с тем, что анонс других новых мобильных устройств HTC пока не предвидится, был сделан вывод о том, что это HTC Bolt. Номер модели устройства — 2PYB200. В документации FCC указано, что смартфон поддерживает беспроводные технологии 4G LTE, NFC, Bluetooth и Wi-Fi 802.11ac. Других официальных данных о новинке пока нет.
T-Mobile US (TMUS) has been fined by the FCC for providing inadequate information to customers related to its unlimited data plans
Sprint Corp. (S) is slated to report second-quarter 2016 financial numbers before the opening bell on Oct 25.
Mignon Clyburn, a commissioner with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg Wireless companies are experimenting with new offerings that allow consumers to use data to access some content at no charge. You would think that a plan to give customers free data would not be controversial, but it [...]
Федеральная комиссия по связи США предъявила штраф оператору сотовой связи T-Mobile, входящему в телекоммуникационный холдинг Deutsche Telekom, за обман клиентов по безлимитным тарифам мобильной связи и интернета.
Федеральная комиссия по связи США предъявила штраф оператору сотовой связи T-Mobile, входящему в телекоммуникационный холдинг Deutsche Telekom, за обман клиентов по безлимитным тарифам мобильной связи и интернета.
The auction clearing target price has been lowered substantially by the FCC to $54.6 billion from the initial target price of $86.4 billion.
Data throttling basically means data traffic blocking and slowing any data traffic once customers hit certain usage thresholds in a month.
Petros Papadakis, former USC college football captain and current analyst for Fox Sports, tells Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer about the lure of the game for young people. The two also debate whether politics belong on the field and in the locker room. Papadakis suggests that unionizing college players could be complicated and agrees that college players deserve some financial compensation. Adapted from Truthdig.com Read the transcript below: Robert Scheer: This is Robert Scheer with another edition of Scheer Intelligence, where the intelligence comes from my guests, and my guest today is Petros Papadakis, a person that ... Petros Papadakis: Hi, Bob. Scheer: Hi. That I love having come to speak in my class at the University of Southern California, which is where we're recording from. Papadakis: Beautiful. Scheer: I do it because you're about the only person I can get to talk honestly about what football does and does not do for a college campus, and for those who don't know your work, you obviously in addition to having been on the USC football team as a running back, scoring I think 16 touchdowns in one season. Papadakis: No, two seasons. Scheer: Two seasons? Papadakis: That's accurate. Scheer: On what you describe as the worst football team in USC history. Papadakis: Captain of the worst, in the year 2000. Scheer: Let's begin with USC, which has been a football legend, a major contender. You come from a football family. Your father, John, played for SC. Papadakis: My older brother Taso was a starting linebacker here, and I played here. Scheer: Then, your brother deserted and went over and played for UCLA. I'd like to begin with one of the great achievements of football as a social reformer. Now there's a lot of feeling, "What does football do?" Your father wrote a book with a great running back, Sam Cunningham, about the integration of college football ... Papadakis: And a great writer, Don Yaeger. Scheer: Why don't you tell us about that book, and the significance of that. Papadakis: Well, in 1970, the head coach at USC, who was a hard man, and the head coach at Alabama, who was almost as equally hard, and two of the great legendary coaches in the history of college football, John McKay and Bear Bryant, had a relationship. They had known each other for a long time, and the SCC, believe it or not, in 1970, was an all-white league. They weren't competing, obviously. They weren't competing against other colleges, and Bear Bryant knew that in order to move Alabama forward, they were going to need to integrate the football team. In order to do that, they were going to need to show the people of Alabama that black players were necessary. Not only necessary, but great. In order to do that, they scheduled USC to come play at Legion Field in Birmingham, and my father was on that team. He was a Mike linebacker. I think he was a defensive captain. He had 15 tackles in the game. Sam Cunningham, obviously playing his first game ever as a sophomore. Freshmen didn't play back then. Had a great game. Multiple touchdowns, over 100 yards. That was the game that kind of, as they say, turned the tide in the south. USC was a big part of that social reform. I remember years before that, CR Roberts, another great trojan. A big, big black running back, went to Texas and did something similar. USC, being on the west coast, I think, too, and the Cunningham family was from Santa Barbara. They didn't know southern racism. A lot of the guys who play at SC don't. Scheer: People don't know, he was a black player, and a legend. Papadakis: His brother, Randall Cunningham, a lot of people know, and Randall's son is an Olympic-level high jumper here now, at USC, and was in your class a couple of years ago. I gave him a ride home after I spoke at your class. That tradition continues at USC, but it's very interesting, because due to my criticism, I believe, of the university ... The last time USC took a trip to play a team in Alabama, they brought my father on the trip, and he spoke to the team. This year, because of I guess some divisiveness in the program, and some of the way that I've reacted in my media position over the years to USC's decision making, they invited Sam but not my father, who wrote the book together. That kind of bummed me out. I thought that they were kind of above that, when it came to some of their great history. Scheer: You and your father probably don't even agree on your view of the whole thing. Papadakis: No. We don't agree on ... But you know what? We talk a lot about USC, and how I shape my opinion. Scheer: For people who don't know the family, you did cooperate in running one of the great Greek restaurants. Papadakis: Yeah, and that's where USC did most of their recruiting in the peak Carroll era, so if you can imagine, I mean, not just the guys that ended up signing here, like the Reggie Bushes and LenDale White, but the Tim Tebows of the world, and CJ Speller, all the great college football players came through there, in the recruitment. Scheer: Before we get winded too far for this story, I mean, you say amazingly enough, 1970, much of the south was still segregated in athletics and university. You know, it's not ancient history that Jackie Robinson came in after World War II, when we fought the great war for freedom, that the US Army itself was segregated and what have you, and basketball, when the Lakers came here from Minnesota, there was something like only two blacks could be on a team, was the sort of code and what have you. Papadakis: USC's always been on the forefront of that. You could say that. Scheer: One of the good things, and you've pointed out when you've spoke in my class, is that once you're playing together, there's an intimacy, even if you discriminate in certain positions like the quarterback or the coach or what have you, which is legendary, the fact is, athletics has broken down racial barriers. Papadakis: It has, but at the same time, something ... This is not something we've talked about a whole bunch in your class, because it wasn't as socially relevant, especially to young kids, but with the anniversary and the OJ Simpson stuff, and obviously OJ Simpson played here at USC, and there's a deep history there, and he played with my father. I remember, and I totally forgot about it, but I remember OJ Simpson, just the subject of it. Not because it was a USC locker room, because he was never really around us, but just if you brought it up. Most of the white guys on the team thought that OJ was a killer, and most of the black guys on the team really thought he was innocent, or framed, or whatever. Her son did it, or there was some theory. You couldn't bring that up. I remember, you couldn't bring that up unless you wanted to get into a heated discussion, and sometimes it was funny, sometimes people got their feelings hurt, but that was a real thing. Today, it makes me wonder, with all the different things going on racially in our country, and the narrative that we have, what the conversations in the locker room are like when it comes to the anthem, and different things like that. Football, once you go out of the tunnel and you're locking arms, I mean, it's you and those guys against the world. Think about the world of boxing. Those guys, I really have so much respect for in athletics, because they're just naked to the world, and you're going to fight in that ring, and there's nobody to help you except for the bell. Scheer: I didn't give you a proper introduction, so let me just say, your football career, you didn't go into the pros because you were severely injured and had real problems, and you actually were one of the lucky athletes who didn't go into the pros. You found a way to make a living, and you've been a major radio personality, and you've done national television broadcasting and so forth, and that's what you do to this day. You're one of the guys who managed to get a good career out of this. Papadakis: One of the uglier broadcasters on the air, and sweatier. Scheer: Yeah, but off the field. I think to this day, you have an objective view of what goes on with sports. Yet, when I've had you in the class and talk to you, you've played down certain things. You played down concussions, was one. Papadakis: Yeah. A little bit. Scheer: On the other hand, when you get going, you talk about what it did to your head, right? Papadakis: Yeah. Well, and that's something we all have to monitor, those of us that played football from the past, and guys playing now. There's no doubt it's something people need to think about, just like any of us. I've been talking out of my behind about sports for 15, 16 years now, on platforms where people hear me, and your opinions do evolve, and things change. The concussion thing, my opinion kind of started to change when I started to get my own head checked out, and wondering why I had these flashes of emotion, and these different things that is not unique in the football world to deal with. That being said, when it comes to concussions and football, every guy playing at a high level, and this has always been my argument, they know what's happening out there. It's like, remember Casablanca, where the Captain Renaud says, "I'm shocked, shocked that there's gambling going on"? We're hitting each other in the head with our heads. There's not a lot of grey area there. We know what we're doing. Nobody's putting a gun to anybody's head. That's why I always used to say, when the guys would pray before the games and they'd all lock arms and pray for victory, and pray for all these things, and I would say to the guys, even though I'm Greek Orthodox Christian, I'd say, "God's not making us do this. This is our choice. This is our identity. This is who we are." If your identity is a football player, if that's really your identity, then concussions probably aren't in your mindset. Now, you played five years in the NFL and had your bell rung a few times, and you've made some money, and you have a wife and kids, you're thinking about retiring, a couple guys have. Not every guy, but a few guys, and more often than ever before have started to walk away from the sport at younger ages. Scheer: We began by discussing sports as an educator, which it was around segregation, certainly, integration of sports. In terms of the money, you've got these coaches on the college level. What does the coach of Avalon make? $7 million? Papadakis: Reported, but you know, somebody might say, "Hey, good job coach. Here's $2 million." I mean, one of the alums. They're working on a level, and you understand politics in a way that I could never even begin to scratch, and I always figured when you're the president, you've been bought and sold 100 times by somebody. You're working on a level that is far beyond a lot of people's contemplation. When you're the head coach at USC or Alabama, it's very similar. There's things that are touching you, and things that you're part of that the rest of us just don't know. How much money is actually being made? I have no ... I mean, when Pete Carroll was here, I had no idea how much money he was making. There was a listed salary, but with a private school, and not having to report anything but to his own tax attorneys, who knows? Who knows how much money is coming into that guy? Most states, if they're public institutions, the highest paid person in the state is generally, like, Iowa, or these places, it's the head coach of the basketball or football team. Men's basketball. Scheer: We have this issue even in the amateur level, the NCAA and so forth. Papadakis: We treat these guys like the leaders of society. It makes [crosstalk] ... Scheer: They make enormous amounts of money, and then they send people like you out on the field, and you're ... You used the word, it's not fashionable anymore, but you always refer to yourself as a cripple. Papadakis: Yeah. Legally. Scheer: Legally. Go through your injuries, and they're kind of typical, aren't they? Aside from the concussion. Papadakis: My one injury to my foot was relatively unique. In fact, it was one of the worst here. You can still go see the x-rays on a screensaver of one of the trainers down there, because they had never seen anything like it. My foot just looked like it exploded, and all the bones basically scattered almost like a bag of cereal. Pins, and needles, and screws, and two staph infections, and long time in the hospital. Scheer: Even if it's not unique, and I teach here also, and I've had students and they blow out their knee, or ... Papadakis: Everybody gets hurt. You're always going to get surgery. Scheer: They get hurt, and then suddenly there isn't the professional career, or they're vulnerable. I'm sticking to the money for a minute, here. It's such a grotesque contradiction that you're telling these kids one of two things. Either, "Be a good Trojan. It's great for the school. It's great for the spirit, and you're going to get banged up, and the odds are, even at a top ranked school like this, most of you are not going to make a living at this." Papadakis: No, no, no. Scheer: Then, "Forget about all the other sports that you've got going." On the other hand, when people come along like they did at Northwestern and say they want to form a union, they want compensation, I know in the past you've been contemptuous of that, or dismissive. Papadakis: Well, to me, the union thing in particular. Now, you understand that stuff better than me, and I know there was a reason they did it in Illinois and all that. At the same time, you can't sign the letter of intent, which has very clear language, with saying you're going to go play somebody for somebody on scholarship, and then turn around and try to unionize. It just doesn't work that way. That being said, I understand it. I think we are evolving. I think we should be in a better place. I was always in the ... Because I was a guy who went to school here, and I was as big of a mess as anybody at school here. I had as many problems as any college student, probably more, and at the same time, was carrying the ball a whole lot in practice, and taking shots, and taking pills, and doing whatever I had to do to get out there, and I got a degree here. I got two degrees. Not only that, the university community and being part of it, and my major, which was odd for a football player, but in English and American lit, it helped me considerably in my work and communicating with people. I did that while falling apart on the football team, and there's way more diligent guys than me out there, and they really make the most of their situation. Scheer: You did get an education here, because you were kind of a weirdo and you became an English major, and you read Dostoyevsky and everything, and all that. Papadakis: Yeah, I did. Scheer: Now, what about kids coming to school and say, "Hey, we got a Black Lives Matter movement in America. I'm going to read about it. I'm going to look into to see the national anthem, and the third stanza of the national anthem actually says it's a good thing to have freed slaves, and that the Brits are terrible people for taking them into their army. There are contradictions." What's wrong, whether on the college level, or on the pro level, of somebody saying, "Okay, I'll play the game, but I'm a full human being. I got free speech rights. I got a right to have an attitude. I've got a right to speak up, and you know what? I'll use my celebrity the same way other people use their celebrity, to support things that I care about"? Papadakis: In a vacuum, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. In a vacuum, pretending as if it wouldn't effect anybody else on the team, or however. You're your own one person, your own individual, whatever you want to do. Obviously, there's incongruities throughout history that you can point to no matter what you want to go up against. Christianity here in America, or anything that people tend to really cling to. The only problem with a football team is they constantly tell you what you represent, which is not yourself. The team. When you're wearing that uniform, when you have that platform, it's not because you're a full thinking human being at all. It's because you're a football player. That's why you have the platform. To me, just in my own situation, if somebody was causing me as a football player at USC to have to answer questions about my political proclivities because of what they were doing, that's a problem on a football team. Maybe not for everybody, but it's a divider. Scheer: Let me ask you the basic question about the money and thought, okay? You got people who presumably have gone through college, have thought about things. They think about social justice. They think about life. They think about ... They look at the money coming into this sport. They look at it, and that's the one thing they're not supposed to ask tough questions about in terms of its social impact, right? At a college, you're not supposed to question that your coach, who's yelling at you all the time, is making this incredible amount of money. You're a kid who comes from maybe where your family didn't have enough to get by, and this guy's making $7 million. How much does the bandleader make? Papadakis: Art Bartner? Scheer: Yeah. Papadakis: I don't know his endowment, but I'm sure he does quite well. Scheer: I mean, the assistant coaches quite often ... Papadakis: Some of them make millions. Scheer: Yeah. The guys who do the weight training and all that. Papadakis: At least hundreds of thousands. Scheer: Aren't we exposing people to a situation where just, as human beings, you'd think they'd want to say, "Wait a minute. I'm having trouble paying my rent. I'm having trouble"? As you have pointed out, when you come to my class, getting pizza where your picture was on the box, one of your stories, and yet I'm not supposed to question, "Where is the money going?" Papadakis: I think you should be able to question where the money is going. There's no problem about that. I also think we live in a free society, and if somebody wants to pay you for something, that's what you're worth. These guys, they want to play football. Football is attractive to them because of the money flowing through football. There are countless ... Just because guys don't go to the league doesn't mean that they don't have a life in football. There was a guy I played with here, Kenichi Daisy, who was a number 10 pick in the draft, and came down with leukemia, and beat it, but couldn't play football anymore. He's a coach. Chris Richard, a guy I played with, is the D-coordinator for Seattle. Scheer: I've got you, but [crosstalk] ... Papadakis: They get into the profession ... Scheer: You have this organization called the NCAA, and they're the ones that have stressed the amateur, amateur, amateur, amateur, right? They only stress it for the players. Papadakis: They're all tied up. The whole thing is based in hypocrisy. You want me to defend that, you're barking up the wrong tree. To me, the best solution, and something very doable, is if a guy gets his 12 units every semester, you give him $10,000 in the bank. If he has five years, or he graduates, he walks, there's $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 for a young person to start their life out with, as opposed to just being spit out by a program when they can no longer use you, whether you're crippled or you can't play in the league, or whether you're moving on to the NFL. It doesn't matter. Whoever you are. It's a lonely feeling when you're done playing here, because they can't use you anymore, and there's somebody new coming in. There's always going to be more football players, not less, as far as history goes. You're going to be forgotten. Scheer: I think in my class, you said you wouldn't let your child play football. Papadakis: No, I don't want to, but he's a meat head, violent kid. I think he might just be such a meat head that we have to have him play. Scheer: He's in the family. Oh, let me shift this a little bit. Get to the pros. They are making so much money, whether they're lousy or good, because of the TV contracts, the shared revenue and everything. Papadakis: For a short amount of time, there's a lot of money. Scheer: On the other hand, and we're at USC, we're broadcasting now. USC happens to control the Colosseum here in LA, and play at the Colosseum, and the Rams are playing at the Colosseum until their new stadium is built. Okay, they abandoned, right, a city that liked them. Papadakis: St. Louis? Scheer: Yes. Papadakis: Lovely place. Scheer: Okay, but they abandoned it. They used to be here. They went. Papadakis: They were in Cleveland before that. Scheer: Then they come here, fortunately, as I understand it, unless I'm missing something, at least they're using their own money to build [crosstalk] ... Papadakis: Yeah, Kroenke's going to build it himself, which is why it's getting done. Scheer: Then, there's a question of, who are they going to steal from some other place? Is it going to be San Diego, or horror of horrors, they steal the Oakland Raiders? Papadakis: Or they go to Vegas. Scheer: Which happened once before, or Oakland goes to Vegas. Papadakis: Do you care as a Raider fan, or is it just a universal thing? Scheer: If Oakland Raiders leave Oakland, I'm not a Raider fan. Papadakis: Even to Vegas? Scheer: I didn't go with them once to LA. I've been a Raider fan since the 60s. I'm a season ticket holder. To tell the truth, I'm as fanatical as anyone, and the reason is ... Papadakis: You're a face painter, aren't you Bob? Scheer: Yeah, I wear the costume. It does get to the money thing. Now, these teams make so much money, the idea that they can't remain loyal to a community is outrageous. It doesn't bother you at all? Papadakis: They don't care. It's a money maker. They don't care. Scheer: We're talking greed now, right? Papadakis: Yeah, but that's American business. They only care as far as it looks good or bad. Look, the L in ... Let's forget about the individual owners and what they own. Let's just look at the NFL as a whole. The NFL is made up of, what? 30 billionaire owners that have a little boys club, and that's that. That is it. No one gets in or out of the door. It is the most elite club in the world. Maybe the English Premiere League is similar in London, but these are people that are beyond our comprehension when it comes to how they move and change things around. The L in the NFL stands for "lawyers," because all they really want to do, and all they're really concerned with, whether or not it's players beating up on people, whether or not it's players beating up on themselves, whether or not it's suicide, whether or not it's concussions, whatever the issue is, they're only concerned with protecting their own ass. That is the only thing they care about, to protect the money that's being made by their owners. These are multi-billionaire people, and maybe they care about their players, maybe they don't, but they chip them off the money that they have to in order to stay in business, they hire and fire coaches in order to stay in business, PR people, this and that. They'll keep a player who's violent as long as they can until it's somehow a public problem, and people get after them, and then it's just like any other corporation. Trying to hold them to a higher standard because people root and care about their product, I think it's futile, because they don't care. It's just a business. Look, Joe Montana is suing the NFL. He's the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL, and they don't speak to each other. They have giant lawsuits going back and forth. This is not a patty cake league. It's a big, ugly, American endeavor and it's all those things. You like it, you're a fan? I don't. I'm not a huge pro football ... I'm really not. I'm more of a college football person. The pro football, to me, is just too much. It's too good. The margin of error is too small, and it's just not as fun. Everybody runs the same offense, everybody runs the same defense. Everybody plays the same songs in the stadium. It just feels generic to me. It's a cookie cutter league. All the games fit into three hour windows. I just prefer the college game, because that's what I know and that's what I'm more passionate about. There's no doubt that the NFL, it's become something that is even very different from what I grew up with, which was giant even then. I remember those Raider teams, and Marcus Allen, and Todd Marinovich, and Jay Schroeder, and all those teams here in LA growing up. It's changed. People are very, very passionate about football, and they don't understand the sport. That's what I think is a little dangerous about it. Scheer: What is it they're missing? Papadakis: I just don't think they relate to the flesh and blood under the uniform. I think they think it's all robo-cops out there. I mean, I really do. I think people look at football players, and you know what? To a certain degree, how can you blame them? Especially with the way a lot of these guys behave off the field. That's also, not to make excuses for people, because we're all responsible for what we do no matter what, but that's a certain ... There's a product of that in the sport. The sport breeds violence. It trains people to respond with violence. If you're not violent enough, you're not good enough, and for us to act shocked when that boils over in a college campus environment or in an entertainment environment in some big city where the pro players are, it should never shock people. Scheer: What is the role of the media in describing all this? I want to conclude on this, you're a media person now. You've gone from being a player to media, and it was kind of strange to read articles after USC got wiped out by Alabama, opening game. The LA Times was mercilessly on television, on radio, all you guys were just bashing them. What I wonder is, what is the conflict of interest that the media has in covering sports? Papadakis: There's a major conflict of interest, because you have broadcast partnerships. The broadcast partnerships are what's worth so much money, and that's why we don't have a pay to play. That's why you don't go on iTunes and pay 99 cents to watch the Raider game, because that would eliminate the network, the middle man, and the money being made is the networks and the league making a deal with each other. That's where the money is coming. Your role when you're actually putting the game on television, as the analyst, which is my job, or the play by play guy, or the sideline person, or the production in the truck, and the people back in the studio that we're producing toward, and the seven cameras that we have out there, our responsibility is to celebrate this game. The way I look at it is, these guys are not being compensated. I want to give them a good call. I want to give these guys what they deserve. I'm going to give them their moment publicly. I want to say their name properly. I want their family to be able to watch the game [crosstalk] ... Scheer: That is fair enough, but what about reporting? Papadakis: Let's say after the game ... Scheer: Come on. Penn State right now is doing the 50th anniversary ... Papadakis: I'm just telling you the differences. That there's differences. You know, when I'm calling the game, I'm not going to talk about what happened with Jerry Sandusky. On my radio show, if I'm passionate about it and I need to take a stand about something, I can do that. In the studio at Fox, you're probably somewhere in the middle there. When you're at the game, I feel like you have a responsibility to the players and the coaches to put that thing on TV. Whatever your column is, whatever your place of commentary, like for me it's my radio show on AM 570, then go ahead. If you're passionate about it, then go ahead and say it. That's kind of where I've kind of drawn the line. Every medium has its own boundary, whether it's the printed word, whether it's on TV, studio, whether it's at a game, whether it's an internet kind of thing, on the radio. These are all different things where you can take different angles and take different stances. The truth is, the harder you go, the more you're going to hear from your, quote-unquote, "broadcast partners," or whoever is employing you. It depends on who your boss is, just like if you were writing at a newspaper. Scheer: The crowded media field is supposed to give some hope. You've got bloggers who can call you out. You've got websites and so forth. Papadakis: I think it just becomes a place where you go to the place where they're saying what you want to hear. Scheer: That's one danger, and the other, at least the old, established ... You've been around. You're still a young guy. You're not even 40 yet. Papadakis: I'm almost. 39. Scheer: You've been around a lot, and you've seen how it's changed. It seems to me, at least in the old days, CBS, The LA Times or The New York Times, these were major institutions that could tell even a professional team or a college program, "You've got to shape up. You're not doing it right. You're not handling it." Now, they all seem to be in bed with the people they're supposed to be covering. They're running scared. They don't know whether they're even going to be in business. Papadakis: They've all started to resemble each other, kind of like the end of Animal Farm. Man, and pigs, and all that, in a way that they started just to really fill the stereotype that you always thought. Everybody always talked about ... Okay, there's three places to work. Big network sports. There's three places you can work. I've only worked at one. You don't want to work at all three before you're 40, because then you're not going to work anymore. You're going to burn your bridges. I work at Fox. The reputation at Fox is, Fox is great. They let you be yourself. The infrastructure is a little wacky, but they let you be yourself. Get used to things changing, and every year a lot of chaos. CBS, everybody's a stuffed shirt, right? "We're in the Les Moonves building." You wear the eye on your jacket, and you don't say "boo" or anything like that. Everything's about Jim Nance and the masters. That's CBS. ESPN or ABC is all about Mickey Mouse and Disney. If you piss off the mouse, you're gone. Really, those places, I mean, people told me that when I was young, and I said, "Oh, no. Everybody's different, and every crew is different, and every producer is different." As we've kind of worked more towards just a really confused, I think, and discombobulated media, kind of like a flight schedule, those places have really kind of emerged as exactly what you expect them to be. I don't think that's good for the media. I don't think you should be able to go somewhere and just see what you expect to see, you know what I mean? Just see what you want to hear. You go to CBS and they are going to say great things about the FCC. You go to Fox, and they're going to say great things about the PAC 12 and Big 12, because those are their broadcast partners. You go to the ESPN, and they're back on the FCC. To me, we're just promoting our broadcast partners, and we're not doing any kind of real analysis or work. I'd like to see it get back to that a little bit more. Scheer: We'll have to get back to this sometime in the future. Papadakis: I'll come back. Scheer: You got a last word about public radio to throw in? Papadakis: NPR, or KCRW? Listen, I've been to this station in Santa Monica City College, and I've always loved this station. If you've ever been downstairs, and I know they're redoing it, so it's even going to be more spectacular, but just the corridor of the black and white photos of every great person, from Gorvey Dahl to Iggy Pop, in the hallway of the place, and you say, "Wow. I'm coming here to be on the air, and there's Joseph Heller," or something like that. That is a great thing. I love this place, and I ran for 230 yards at Santa Monica City College against Santa Monica High School in 1994. Scheer: Great. The fact that you know who Joseph Heller was showed that you did get some kind of education here at the University of Southern California, so that's it for Scheer Intelligence. Our producers are Joshua Scheer and Rebecca Mooney. Our engineers are Kat Yore and Mario Diaz. Sebastian Grubaugh at USC has been the person holding it together, and we thank USC and the Annenberg School. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
There’s an urgent need to invest in America’s crumbling infrastructure. Even our politicians agree on that. As anyone who has driven a car, ridden a train, turned on the tap, or lost power during a minor storm can tell you, we’ve fallen desperately behind in maintenance, to say nothing of improvements. The latest “report card” from the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the U.S. an overall grade of D+ for everything from roads and bridges to water systems, ports, public transit, power grids, and schools, estimating that just making critical repairs would cost over $3.5 trillion. Our presidential hopefuls are making their cases on the matter. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Hillary Clinton plans to spend $250 billion to create a national infrastructure bank funded by increased corporate taxes. Donald Trump promises to double that amount, borrowing the necessary funds through government bonds. But the U.S.’s most recent experience with jump-starting infrastructure spending, the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, suggests a third way to get the job done, one that both parties should be paying more attention to: encouraging more private investment in infrastructure. That’s especially true for digital infrastructure, which both ties together the country and supports connections — commercial, social, cultural — with the rest of the world. While much of our physical infrastructure has long been either government-owned or regulated as semi-governmental utilities, nearly all of today’s digital networks, though still heavily regulated, have been privately built and privately funded. Since 1996, according to trade group USTelecom, investors have poured over $1.4 trillion into building and rebuilding the commercial internet. Americans today stand on the brink of next-generation wired and wireless networks that will offer speeds as much as 20 times faster than today’s best connections, making possible new applications and even new industries. We’ve only scratched the surface of ideas such as the internet of things; smart cities, homes, and energy grids; autonomous transportation; and much more that entrepreneurs will think up. Much of that success can be credited to what Congress both did and did not do as part of the Recovery Act, and in particular to the National Broadband Plan (NBP), which the Federal Communications Commission published in early 2010. The plan, written under the direction of former FCC chief of staff Blair Levin, was and remains a visionary document. It set aggressive goals for broadband evolution, including upgrading digital networks to provide 100 million homes with connection speeds of 100 Mbps (a goal already reached, according to the Department of Commerce). It called on the government to vastly accelerate release of radio spectrum for fast-growing mobile broadband services. And it called for radical reform of programs to close the digital divide, resulting in a complete overhaul of services that once subsidized telephone service for poor and rural Americans but which now support wired and wireless internet. Perhaps most radical of all, however, is what the NBP didn’t propose. With minor exceptions, the authors did not recommend that any of the NBP’s goals be met through taxpayer spending. Rather, they called on Congress and the White House to “unleash private investment” by reinforcing a bipartisan decision, dating back to the mid-1990s, to leave the internet alone. The results speak for themselves. Despite the lingering effects of the 2007 recession, which catalyzed the Recovery Act in the first place, private investment in the broadband ecosystem grew, particularly in mobile infrastructure and fiber connections, tying wired and wireless networks together for a coming 5G revolution. The U.S. has the most home broadband connections and the most high-speed mobile subscriptions in the world, leads in innovation for apps and new services, and is home to the vast majority of internet market leaders, creating trillions of dollars in new value in the last two decades. You can see some of this illustrated in the expenditures chart below (originally created for an earlier article of mine on the U.S.-EU digital divide). This time period has also seen new entrants to the infrastructure market, notably Google Fiber, whose early deployments in Kansas City and elsewhere provide important insights. Development agreements with municipalities reveal, for example, that Google and other home fiber providers, including Verizon, AT&T, and CenturyLink, don’t want government funding. What they ask instead is for cities to streamline bloated permitting processes, provide rights of way to existing infrastructure and access to government facilities, and appoint a single point of contact in city government to resolve bureaucratic tangles. Providers, in other words, simply want governments to stay out of their way. This doesn’t mean governments shouldn’t do anything to oversee our digital infrastructure. But it is clear that removing rather than adding regulation accelerated investment, exactly as the NBP recommended. The NBP cost only $20 million to produce but helped significantly in creating trillions of dollars of new economic value, with trillions more to come. It could prove to be the most cost-effective infrastructure investment the U.S. has ever made. By contrast, direct expenditures of billions of dollars for shovel-ready broadband projects in high-cost rural communities, authorized elsewhere in the Recovery Act, delivered very little if any value. The Rural Utilities Service, for example, promised to use its stimulus money to provide internet access to 7 million Americans who didn’t have it. But a blistering 2014 report from the Government Accountability Office concluded that the program had failed on nearly every dimension. An in-depth investigation by Politico estimated that fewer than 200,000 rural residents actually benefited from RUS-supported projects. Even more worrisome in my view is that the FCC has in recent years taken significant steps backward in maintaining a healthy environment for continued investment, often at the urging of the White House. In the name of preserving the open internet, or “net neutrality,” the agency last year exercised the nuclear option of reclassifying broadband providers as public utilities, subject to hundred-year-old regulations written for the former Bell monopoly. It also approved an order that preempted state limitations on municipal broadband services, most of which have failed, leaving state taxpayers with the bill. (Federal courts have so far upheld the first decision but soundly rejected the latter.) Whatever the ultimate fate of these proposals in the courts, the next administration should take away two crucial lessons from America’s broadband track record over the last decade: Fast-changing digital networks, at the very least, don’t need vast government support from an infrastructure bank, whether funded through tax increases or borrowing. Providing policy incentives that encourage private investment has proven to be the far superior approach. A bipartisan policy to leave the internet “unfettered by Federal or State regulation” must be reestablished after years of withering decline. Streamlining local government and keeping the regulator’s thumb off the scale in picking winners and losers in the evolving digital ecosystem will do more to stimulate broadband deployment than the most well-meaning government initiatives. Continue the wildly successful policy of making available more radio frequencies for mobile networks through spectrum auctions. Doing so will turbocharge investment in the mobile internet while earning billions in revenue for the Treasury. That’s a far cry from direct investment programs and government-run networks that have cost taxpayers dearly in wasted spending. With a little updating and some minor tweaks, the visionary National Broadband Plan can continue to inform sound national policy for another decade. The next administration could get that done in its first 100 days, cementing a legacy of value creation that alone might define one of the best policy choices the U.S. has ever made.
Climate change activist Tom Steyer is the top megadonor of the 2016 cycle so far. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,File) By: Soo Rin Kim If you think campaign finance is just a right-wing billionaires' spending spree, take another look. Liberal money has been pouring into federal elections in recent years. In 2012, when post-Citizen United money started flowing in earnest, wealthy Republicans took the leading roles. The number of individuals making contributions of $1 million or more grew from 16 in 2010 to 108 in 2012. That year, 69 percent of the $380 million coming from the top 100 individual donors was conservative money. This election, liberal benefactors have worked to close the gap. So far this cycle, about 40 percent of the $558 million provided by the top 100 donors has come from Democrats. In fact, seven of the 10 biggest donors this cycle are liberal, with the top slot occupied by climate change activist Tom Steyer. The San Francisco billionaire has spent a total of about $39 million so far, with most of it going to his own super PAC, NextGen Climate Action. NextGen, in turn, has spent more than $4.5 million opposing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Now, don't get us wrong: Most of the big money goes to outside groups like super PACs, and conservative groups are outspending liberal ones by almost two-to-one. But individual liberal donors come close to holding their own versus conservative ones in the upper reaches of those who have given most. More from Dems or less from Republicans? While liberal megadonors have gained ground this cycle over the last presidential election, the 2014 midterms saw them actually out in front: 61.5 percent of funds from the 100 biggest individual donors came from liberals; conservatives on the list gave just $112 million, roughly, of the $303 million total. Current top donor Tom Steyer has been making small contributions since the early 1990s, but he wasn't close to making the top donors roster until 2014, when he forked over $75 million. That was twice as much as second-place donor Michael Bloomberg, even though the New York news mogul had doubled his outlays from $14 million in 2012 to $28.5 million -- most of which went to his super PAC, Independence USA PAC. And it was almost seven times the sum given by the biggest conservative megadonor, Paul Singer. Campaign Finance Institute Executive Director Michael Malbin said top liberal donors may have arrived on the scene more slowly because they took more time to learn how to exploit the new landscape and build their own full-blown political staffs. Unlike Steyer and Bloomberg, who were using their own super PACs, conservative donors were giving to large existing outside spending groups such as American Crossroads in 2012. Public Citizen lobbyist Craig Holman said another factor was the "Obama Phenomenon," which allowed Democrats to avoid relying on large scale donations in 2012. "Obama excelled at candidate fundraising," Holman said. "Though he also made use of super PACs -- where megadonors contribute -- most of his money came in direct and limited candidate contributions. Super PACs were not the chief fundraising vehicles for Democrats until 2014." In a marked difference with then-GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's campaign, 43 percent of President Barack Obama's $540 million in individual contributions came from donations of $200 or less in 2012. Big liberal donations seem to have accelerated even more this cycle. New York financier Donald Sussman, long a source of largess in Democratic politics, had only given $1.6 million by the end of the 2012 cycle, but has already spent about $26 million so far this cycle. Most of that has gone to Priorities USA Action in support of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Money from liberal megadonors may be on the rise this cycle "because they are aghast at the thought of a Trump presidency and are putting their money where there brains and hearts are," said Miriam Galston, a law professor at George Washington University. That's what has brought Hungarian-born investor George Soros out of his self-imposed dormancy as a big donor since his vigorous, but unsuccessful, 2004 effort against former President George W. Bush. Soros had said Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are "doing the work of ISIS." This cycle to date, he has given $17 million, mainly to Priorities USA Action and to House Majority PAC. So where are the conservative megadonors? Republicans lost two of their biggest donors in 2013. Texas homebuilder Bob J. Perry and a fellow Texan, Harold Simmons, gave a combined $50 million in the last presidential election cycle, mostly to conservative outside groups such as American Crossroads and Restore Our Future (the pro-Romney super PAC) in 2012. But both passed away the next year. Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is still around, but he has been relatively quiet until now. In the 2012 cycle, Adelson dumped a total of $93 million into the system, making him by far the single biggest individual donor. The GOP billionaire wrote several $5 million checks to Winning our Future, a super PAC backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's presidential bid. When Gingrich dropped out of the race, Adelson quickly shifted gears and continued funding Restore our Future and American Crossroads. This year, he halted at a mere $1.7 million until summer, when he and his wife Miriam each gave $10 million to the Senate Leadership Fund to back Republican Senate candidates. Adelson has recently committed to giving more than $40 million by the end of this cycle to super PACs supporting congressional bids. And two GOP operatives told the Guardian that Adelson had given $10 million to a 501(c)(4) group called One Nation this year, though the group has not confirmed that. The "social welfare" organization isn't required to disclose its donors. That group is the successor to Crossroads GPS, a dark money outfit masterminded by GOP operative Karl Rove that was very active in previous election cycles but faded as it became mired in a long battle with the IRS. One Nation has already spent at least $25 million on broadcast time this cycle, according to an analysis of FCC political ad buy records, but FEC data shows only about $1.5 million in expenditures by the group because its spending prior to early September didn't have to be reported to the agency. One Nation and other 501(c) groups demonstrate a major caveat to any list of top donors: Unless there's a leak, there's no way to know whether individuals are giving heavily to nondisclosing groups. Adelson appears finally to be coming off the sidelines in the presidential contest, though: He has recently pledged at least $25 million to a pro-Trump dark money group, 45Committee, and an associated super PAC, Future45, according to Politico. The groups are run by Todd Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs and has a history of big Republican donations; he's urging other Republicans to fall in line. According to CNN, a Ricketts family insider said the family now has $35 million in the bank thanks to Adelson and is planning on boosting the number up to $70 million exclusively for the presidential bid. "There is a substantial appetite for a nondisclosing vehicle, because it's embarrassing to support Trump," a GOP finance insider told Politico. "There are more donors who are willing to support Donald anonymously than with their names on it." Ironically, earlier in the year, the Ricketts family helped lead the #NeverTrump movement, giving millions to Our Principles PAC in an effort to stop the combative billionaire from winning the Republican nomination. And they weren't alone in not supporting Trump -- which makes this cycle far different from 2012, when the biggest conservative spenders almost unanimously funneled the majority of their dollars to super PACs of similar purpose, American Crossroads and Restore Our Future, to attack President Obama and support Romney. Another big donor to Our Principles? New York hedge funder Singer, who had spent $3.7 million, mostly on congressional elections, by the end of 2012; he has spent about $19.7 million already in 2015-16. Earlier this year, Singer gave $5 million to Conservative Solutions PAC in support of former Republican candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and $2.5 million to Our Principles PAC, attacking Trump. Singer still has not joined the Trump bandwagon. Since the Republican primaries ended, he's been focusing entirely on congressional bids, records show. One of the few Republican top contributors who declared relatively early for the GOP nominee is another hedge fund manager, Robert Mercer. As the biggest conservative donor this cycle, Mercer has given $22.6 million so far, more than three times the $6 million he invested four years ago. He began 2015 by dumping $11 million into an outside group backing Cruz called Keep the Promise I and then focused mainly on funding down-ticket races until after the super PAC refurbished itself as Make America Number 1 in late June 2016. The New Yorker has since given additional $2 million to the super PAC aiming to "defeat crooked Hillary." Mercer's daughter Rebekah Mercer has been running the anti-Hillary group since September. Doug Weber and Alex Baumgart contributed to this post. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Facebook Inc. (FB) has sought permission from FCC to fly drones over its Menlo Park headquarters.
United States Cellular Corporation (USM) was raised to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
It looks like billions of dollars in wireless data charges are being added to customers' wireless bills, some causing "overages"; i.e.; when a customer goes over their monthly data usage, known as the 'data cap', they can be charged a fee, or have to buy more expensive data or have a slow down of their service, which is called 'throttling'. Many customers, it appears, purchase additional 'gigs' to avoid this. Point of fact, Verizon, et al., have made customer ignorance a new profit center. And it is not being done by just one or two or three different ways, but many. We dubbed it "Gig Pumping". About a month ago, I got a call from the Cleveland Plain Dealer. They had just started on what is now a series of articles about customer overages on wireless service, much of it focusing on Verizon. One woman, for example, had a $9,100.00 Verizon Wireless bill in one month. The paper has since gotten thousands of complaints and the FCC has started an investigation. In short, Verizon, AT&T, et al., appear to have figured out that a lack of consumer education (customer ignorance) and sneaky billing practices can be a new cash machine for their wireless and even wireline companies. And they are being assisted by the hardware manufacturers, and the apps and their associated services, products and social media. Is it intentional or are the wireless companies just taking advantage of an out of control marketplace with lax government oversight? Are the other companies doing to it due to some tie with the carriers or again, is it just the wild wireless west? Thus, if you ever had a problem with overages or you bought a larger package of 'gigs' so you wouldn't go over the allotment, or you noticed large increases in your usage, which you didn't do (or your family members) - you might want to take to check your blood pressure while reading this. I have divided this into two articles: Part I discusses the different ways the companies have figured out how to "pad the bill" so you pay more. Part II ties the overages of your bills with the previous discussion about the "special access" networks and wires that carry wireless backhaul traffic. In 2015, Verizon NY, which is the state wired utility showed access services had a 66% profit margin, while Verizon Wireless, a separate company, has about a 50% profit margin--Is the price of wireless service and the issue of these overages reflected in the profits of the special access wires that are being used to carry the wireless data services? PART I Ignorance Is the New Telco Wireless Cash Machine Bliss In doing some informal surveys we found that most customers have no clue about the settings on their wireless phone that could control their use, such as shutting off, adjusting or eliminating an application. And not knowing how to use these different settings just makes more money for the wireless company. For example, not knowing there is a way to switch to use 'WiFi', which is free, vs using up the cell phone data usage, appears to be common. And so, most people don't know that they can set all updates of an application to only do it when the phone is connected using WiFi. There have been a slew of articles about a few of these issues over the last several years, and even in 2016. USA Today ran an article - "How to keep your cell phone apps from eating up all your data" in April 9, 2016. And C/NET ran a few articles, including one called "5 apps that are quietly killing your data plan" in April 2016. But these are far and few in educating consumers. Also, most of the other articles are in tech mags or covering a specific phone or even operating system. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's coverage opened up a larger issue; some stuff doesn't add up and worse, this is out of control. And it is way worse than even I imagined. There are also billing issues that are generating large amounts of data expenses, such as the previously mentioned, massive nine thousand dollar expense, that just make no sense, but aren't uncommon. Some Wireless Fun Facts Worldwide: More Access to Cell Phones than Toilets According to the ITU, more people have access to cell phones than have access to toilets. Cisco's 5G Vision Series states: "Since the advent of electrical engineering in the nineteenth century, no single mobile electronic device has surpassed the cell phone in popularity. According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), 6.8 billion people had access to cell phones in 2013: more than had access to toilets, according to research by the United Nations. And by 2015, a third of the 7.2 billion people on Earth were using a fourth-generation long-term evolution (4G LTE) network." Number of US Wireless Connections: Larger than the Population There were 386 million estimated connections in the US at the end of 2015 according to the FCC's 19th Mobile Wireless Competition report. The US Census claims that in 2015 America had a population of 321,418,820. Pricing of Broadband Data Wireless Services--Expensive. This stuff is very expensive. Here is the basic current pricing per gig for Verizon. This is AT&T's Pricing, as of October 2016. Slow you down Notice that AT&T (and Verizon) will essentially push you onto a speed of 128 Kbps if you go over your allotted amount. Though, Verizon is more than happy to let you buy more data. And Verizon will even remind you when you are getting 'low' on data. And when I say expensive... Below is the Netflix discussion of their service and data caps. According to Netflix, their service uses 1 GB per hour - so just two movies at 1.5-2 hours would eat up the $50.00 plan. You can use slower speeds, but it may not be pretty. Netflix on Data Consumption: Usage "Watching movies or TV shows on Netflix uses about 1 GB of data per hour for each stream of standard definition video, and up to 3 GB per hour for each stream of HD video. This can create headaches for Netflix members who have a monthly bandwidth or data cap on their Internet service. Below, you'll find a few ways to reduce the amount of data Netflix uses, without having to resort to drastic measures (like actually watching less Netflix)." "Adjust your data usage settings Adjusting the data usage settings for your account is the easiest way to reduce the amount of bandwidth used while watching Netflix. There are four data usage settings to choose from. Each estimate below is per stream: Low (0.3 GB per hour) Medium (SD: 0.7 GB per hour) High (Best video quality, up to 3 GB per hour for HD and 7 GB per hour for Ultra HD) Auto (Adjusts automatically to deliver the highest possible quality, based on your current Internet connection speed) What the...? And one has to ask: Why are they selling the data plans as a package with X amount of "Gigs" vs you pay for what you use - and the more you use the cheaper the cost? The Answer: Because they make more money via people purchasing more than they will use--or there is the unused 'leftover' every month from the package. Overages and Wireless Billing Issues First and foremost, overages for wireless services have been increasing, especially as the size of streaming and files keeps increasing, and this is not just a local Cleveland problem. CNN reported in January 2016, that overages on bills was a serious problem, with 28% of AT&T customers claiming that they paid extra and 20% of Verizon Wireless customers paid extra. "Overage charges, already at record highs, are up yet again, according to a survey conducted by Cowen & Co. "Nearly one in five cell phone customers reported paying overages during the past six months. But AT&T continued to lead all of its rivals -- 28% of AT&T customers told Cowen & Co. that they were charged for overages, compared to 20% of Verizon customers, 12% of T-Mobile customers and 5% of Sprint customers. "That's up across the board from Cowen's survey in October -- which then showed overages were at record levels." Recently, NerdWallet combined some info and believes that wireless overages comes to an additional $600 million in charges. Pew Research found that 37% of smartphone owners maxed out their monthly data allotment. "Even with the best cell phone plan, many of us exceed our data limit. A 2015 Pew Research Center survey found that 37% of smartphone owners use their maximum amount of monthly data at least occasionally, while 15% do so frequently. Those who did go over during one month or more in a year collectively paid their carriers at least an additional $600 million, according to an analysis by NerdWallet and smartphone app My Data Manager, which helps users keep track of their data consumption. We think the $600 million is a low number and it is getting worse and will continue to get worse. a) There is no oversight by any government agency on this. b) You can't take wireless companies to court because their 'arbitration' clauses pre-empt class actions suits. c) There are thousands of new application "apps", some of which are data hungry, and d) different phones and models complicate all of this. Moreover, e) the size of the files and streams continue to expand. Multiple Ways and Flows of Customer Billed Data Services. We started our own investigation, with experts, because some of the details that the Cleveland Plain Dealer found were not easily explained. On October 06, 2016, the paper uncovered that customers are being charged when they are asleep and not using their phones. "As the rage over Verizon Wireless' recent unexplained spike in overages and fees continues, one little-known issue really makes customers see red: The company charges for data used in the middle of the night often when customers are asleep and not using their phones. Could this be a sign of a deeper, more-troubling billing issue?" But besides these mysteries, this is like a whack-a-mole on steroids. When you go to a web site and it is playing a video, you are charged for that video, even if it is part of an advertisement, even if you didn't click on it. Or, have you turned off or removed all of the apps that are running that you may not want or need? How it Works Your phone is really a computer with lots of different things it can do, many of which used to be part of different devices. It can play music, or videos and even replace a separate camera, send a text message, and oh, yeah, it lets you make voice phone calls. And you may have literally hundreds of apps on your phone now--one that can tell you which way to walk or another is a radio station that is somewhere on the globe, or maybe you have a tablet and want to read a book. And these computers are connected to networks like a spider dancing on a web. When you are walking, your communications session is going with you but unknown to you it hops from one wireless antenna to another in the cell network. And every application is screaming - or at least checking to look for updates, cool things to entice you to click on it. Or maybe you want to send the cat video to YouTube and post it to Facebook, then tweet about it. And everyone one of these applications want a 'secure', stable connection, but also the applications may load and play videos, send you pictures. And they all are racking up data-charges time. Moreover, the phone itself and the carrier may be sending, updating, and other tasks, which also may be different based on which phone you own (as well as the model and year), or which carrier you have selected. And always remember that the phone company wants to optimize profits - i.e. squeeze you for more money by having you use the networks more and pay more. One of the Largest Issues: WiFi Connection vs Cell Connection Cell data services are expensive, but there are ways to use the service without having the data charges rack up. WiFi doesn't have the same wireless fees as opposed to using the wireless carrier cell networks--which charges you per gig. How many customers know there are settings on the phone to control this? Who knows? Where are the public announcements from the carriers (he laughed) the manufacturers or even the applications that WiFi should be used? Our informal survey found most people had no idea there were settings and that there were no charges for using WiFi, or where you could even get access to it. (NOTE: There is equipment to add WiFi to your home broadband connection, for example, and there are hot spots all over most cities to use WiFi.) On current cell phones like Apple or Android there are 'settings' to control whether you are using the paid cell data or the WiFi --- free data. But, this is compounded quickly by the fact that each phone company and sometimes even the different models, have different settings, names for these things, and even how the phone has been configured. Macworld discussed overages based on Apple's 'WiFi Assist", in January, 2016. Apple set up WiFi Assist so that it would always use the paid cell network because it gives a "more consistent experience". "This feature added in iOS 9 is intended to make your Internet experience more consistent. When you're on a Wi-Fi network that has erratic service, such as Internet connection dropouts, Wi-Fi Assist uses the cellular network as a secondary data source. "Apple notes on its site that Wi-Fi Assist has a lot of options to prevent excessive data use. It only engages for foreground apps, not background tasks; it doesn't kick in for third-party audio and video streaming apps; and email attachments aren't automatically downloaded." And Apple lists various options it used to help with overages. But, from the point of view of the uneducated user--who knew that the services had "foreground apps", "background apps", "third party audio and video streaming apps", etc. According to Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Android phone has a different name for its WiFi connection, and it has the phone look for the 'WiFi' connection first (by default). "On an Android, the button is called "Avoid Bad Wi-Fi" or "Smart Network Switch" or something similar, depending on the phone. Go to Settings, then Wi-Fi, then Menu, then Advanced. You should see some sort of Wi-Fi connection option that you can turn off. Androids tend to come with this setting turned off by default." However, WiFi use and settings are tied to signal strength, i.e.; does your connection to the network have enough 'bars' to function? In a WiFi location, the distance from the antenna, or even the number of people on the connection and what phones they are using and what applications they are running could shake your connection back to the cell paid networks by diminishing your 'signal strength'. But Stop: This is not about how the tech works, or even how to find the settings in a convoluted collection of settings and sets. What we found is that almost no one has a clue about these intricacies, and there are many of them. For example, How many reading this have gone through the apps that are on your phone, eliminating the ones you don't want, which may actually be doing updates regularly - all being charged to your account? Or how many have examined the details of how many of the apps are generating hefty amounts of usage because of the continuous uploads? Have you ever looked for the WiFi setting or your cell phone usage? And unfortunately, our previous research on consumer behavior and customers' knowledge of the charges they are paying shows customers will just pay their bill and never look at any of the details. We're finding the same thing with informal interviews of wireless customers. But the problems that are being uncovered by the Cleveland Plain Dealer's investigative reporting appear to have very deep implications into the billing for all wireless services, as well as the phones in use. "The Plain Dealer's research points to several potential issues driving the data usage phenomenon, which may have spiraled as the months passed: A new data-eating setting, Wi-Fi Assist, on iPhones beginning September 2015. New settings on apps for both Androids and iPhones this year that caused many to use more data. A billing system at Verizon that glitched, multiplying the existing data consumption problems for some. Verizon's new LTE-Advanced, which launched in August and can cause consumers to use more data,
Several US Senators wrote to the FCC Commissioner expressing concerns over the use of Stingray devices in communities of color and whether police are operating it lawfully Visit http://therealnews.com for more videos.
At the end of fiscal 2015 (ended Mar. 31, 2016), Sprint Corp. (S) had nearly $37 billion of total debt outstanding and a negative cash flow of $3.17 billion.