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Amtrak has been offering Wi-Fi on board some of their trains for several years
(a full list is here
), though historically the quality of the connections have been ridiculed. Since earlier this year the company has been promising upgrades. Amtrak nowstates in an announcement
(pdf) that the upgrades are complete on the company's 400 mile high-speed Acela route between Washington and Boston, as well as a significant chunk of California.
The upgrades involve updating on-train antennas and hardware so they can obtain LTE speeds from towers (Amtrak uses both Verizon and AT&T networks). Amtrak insists that most of their lines should be upgraded to LTE by the end of the summer.
How reliable that signal is as the train zips in and out of tower range remains to be seen. In the North East, there's plenty of regions along major highway routes where LTE signal simply evaporates for significant stretches. Many Amtrak routes will obviously be worse.
Last week reports emerged
that ESPN has at least been in talks to take AT&T up on their idea of cap-exempt content contracts. In short, AT&T has been pitching content companies on the idea of paying AT&T a toll that would allow users of their specific content to bypass user caps.
As I've been discussing a lot lately
(because it's the most important issue facing the broadband sector right now), both AT&T and Verizon are in the process of gutting regulations that require they continue offering copper landlines -- and by proxy DSL -- to tens of millions of Americans. Both companies insist that they're simply interested in "modernizing regulations" and ushering us into an "all IP age." In reality, both companies simply want to exit the fixed-line market in areas they're unwilling to upgrade.
The Justice Department is under fire for obtaining two months of telephone records for twenty different lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press. Said data included phone numbers, names, calls made, and potentially call duration. story continues..
As noted last week, Verizon is informing Sandy victims who've been waiting for seven months that they'll never have their DSL lines repaired
. Instead, users are being given Voice Link, a service that connects home phones to the Verizon Wireless network but has a few kinks and fails to offer data.
CenturyLink has announced plans to offer a small fiber to the home pilot providing speeds of 1 Gbps. While Google Fiber's expansion hits competitively-challenged AT&T and Time Warner Cable hard in a few markets, their recent announcement of expansion into Provo, Utah
hits smaller, regional incumbent CenturyLink even harder.
Verizon's launch of higher audio quality voice over LTE (VoLTE) has seen some delays, largely because initial implementations of the service gobbled up smartphone battery life
. Speaking at Genband's conference in Orlando, Verizon CTO Tony Melone stated
that they should have the network ready for VoLTE service this year, but it will be up to the company's marketing department as to when it actually gets launched. "When we do it, we want to make sure it reaches the same high-quality standards of our current voice network," Melone said. "We'll be network ready this year. How we decide to roll it out is still being discussed within our marketing organization."
Windstream users say that they've spent much of today unable to use Windstream phone service. A statement
posted to our forums by the company insists the outage only impacts 1-800 numbers, though users say that the outage impacts all long distance service and some local calls.
Washington State's Attorney General is hammering T-Mobile over the company's new no contract claims
, insisting that the carrier is engaging in false advertising. Washington AG General Bob Ferguson seems to have taken particular issue with T-Mobile's promises of a $99 iPhone 5, which requires users pay $99 down, then twenty four monthly payments of $20.
By now AT&T's total disregard for privacy and wiretap laws in their cooperation with the government's warrantless wiretap program is fairly well established. As numerous NSA and AT&T whistleblowers have illustrated, the company dumps all voice and data from any carrier that touches their network directly into the lap of the NSA
-- with no warrants or transparency and only marginal government oversight.
Numerous Verizon executives are on record stating that Verizon has more than enough spectrum to deploy LTE nationally -- before
Verizon nabbed another massive swath of spectrum from the cable industry. Studies
have shown Verizon has plenty of spectrum, particularly after re-farming spectrum currently being used for 2G and 3G (EVDO) services.
According to documents obtained by CNET
, the DEA is upset because the encryption used by Apple's iMessage foils their ability to snoop on those communications. Even with a warrant (increasingly seen as optional these days by law enforcement and intelligence agencies) and the fact that carriers let the NSA snoop on everything in real time
, "it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices."
Well not entirely impossible; the memo notes that sometimes interception is possible, but it would require the government to conduct man in the middle attacks using spoofed cell towers, something the feds just got busted for using for years without properly informing Judges
A new report
from research firm OpenSignal found that T-Mobile LTE is currently live in nine United States cities ahead of the company's official network launch expected tomorrow. Only Kansas City and Las Vegas were specifically mentioned as launch markets, though the firm notes they've also seen significant LTE presence in Seattle, Denver, New Orleans, New York, San Diego, and the Bay Area.
by Revcb Thursday 14-Mar-2013
by Revcb Wednesday 13-Mar-2013
If you live in the United States, you may be familiar with the common sentiment that you generally cannot take your favorite cellular enabled device (tablet, smartphone, Sony PlayStation Vita, etc.) and use it on any carrier you like. With GSM carriers, this is referred to as a SIM lock. story continues..
by Revcb Monday 11-Feb-2013
Given Verizon's FiOS expansion has stopped in most places (unless you're somewhere with franchise obligations), the only way DSL users will be getting FiOS is if your regional core infrastructure is upgraded and
your line is perennially problematic. During yesterday's earnings call Verizon stated
they migrated some 223,000 "troublesome" lines from copper to fiber, most of those in regions impacted by Sandy.
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Recent news contributorsKarl Bode , telcodad