Mar 222011
 

In the tech news here this week is the announcement that US telecom giant AT&T is buying smaller mobile carrier T-Mobile, which will reduce the number of nationwide major carriers to three (AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint, though Sprint is smaller than the “big two”). Ars Technica reports all the ugly details of this, and why such a merger is a bad idea:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/03/analysis-higher-prices-fewer-choices-once-att-swallows-t-mobile.ars

As the article (and a million other people online) have noted by now, this is definitely a bad thing for the already-sorry state of US mobile phone service. Only two major cell phone companies to choose from, and both of them mediocre companies at best, isn’t good for consumers. While I’m currently with Sprint, an even-worst-case-scenario would see Sprint (a smaller company than AT&T and Verizon) bought out by Verizon. Not something I’d like to see come to pass, though if it did, I’d probably give some thought to going to some smaller regional provider, like the midwest’s US Cellular.

Of course, the FCC *could* stop the merger from happening, but since they clearly just rubber-stamp any media merger nowadays, no matter how ill-conceived or money-grubbing (see: Comcast-NBC), I’m sure they won’t be a problem…

Update (3/22/11): Verizon’s CEO has stated that his company has no interest or plans to buy Sprint. Assuming it’s true (or Verizon doesn’t change their minds later on), that’s good news for Sprint, though they could still be bought by/merge with some other company…

Jun 102009
 
According to what I’ve read online (no email from AT&T on the subject), AT&T (my ISP) is dropping Usenet service as of July 15th. While Usenet’s popularity has dropped in recent years, imagine it couldn’t be costing that much to keep the text-only, non-binaries groups going. Suspect it’s probably just another money-grubbing tactic by ISPs (a la not offering personal web page space for users anymore) or the assumption that the Internet = the Web. Granted, if AT&T didn’t have any regrets (or shame) about turning over phone record info to the Bush administration for its own corporate gain, I suppose dropping Usenet (or anything else) shouldn’t surprise me.

Meanwhile, guess I’ll be needing another Usenet provider. While I’ve used Giganews before, not sure reading rec.arts.comics.* and rec.arts.tv is worth paying even $3 a month for. Someone online suggested this site, Motzarella, which is free. Might be worth looking into…

Jun 102008
 

At a keynote speech today, Steve Jobs of Apple Computer announced a new version of the iPhone will be coming out, featuring various new features (including GPS), as well as a plastic (vs. brushed-metal) back. First generation iPhones will be allowed to upgrade to the new iPhones’ software for free; the upgrade is also being offered for the iPod Touch, albeit for a $10 fee. The new iPhones will also be offered at a lower price, $199 for an 8 GB model and $299 for a 16 GB model.

However, as the Associated Press notes, AT&T, the iPhone’s exclusive carrier within the US, has raised the price of its cheapest iPhone plan by $10 a month, which combined with a minimum two-year contract being required, will cancel out Apple’s price cut on the iPhone. The iPhone must also be activated (and the contract signed) at the moment it’s purchased at the store… presumably to stop the practice of “jailbreaking” first-generation iPhones (i.e. unauthorized mucking to make them usable with other cell phone networks). As probably a by-product of this, the ability to choose AT&T’s “Go Phone” prepaid month-to-month service plan is going bye-bye.

Speaking of pricing, I wonder where this will put the iPod Touch, the iPod with the non-phone features of the iPhone (incuding a touch screen), in terms of price. I’d assume there’ll be some sort of price cut on the iPod Touch being announced, though wonder what it’ll be (in relation to the pricing for the iPod Classic and the Nano)…