Home // Articles posted by David Bidwell

A Beautiful day without power.

20140705-153934-56374349.jpg20140705-153935-56375283.jpg

20140705-153934-56374968.jpg

20140705-153934-56374654.jpg

The other day with all the bad storms we never lost power but today we lost power on the nicest day we lost power due to a car accident on bates rd in Westfield right at the intersection with Northwest st.

AT&T’s secret loophole: If you want out of an Internet contract, just curse

guyonphone-flickrcommons
Topics:  ♦  ♦ 
  • 4

     

  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Email this page

Update (below): AT&T responds, and doesn’t deny it

With telecom giant AT&T rolling out limitations and additional fees on how much information its Internet users can access, it seems the company is bracing for an influx of anger.

In a little-noticed contract tweak recently, AT&T customer service representatives have been empowered to cancel the contract of any customers who behave in an abusive manner towards them.

In other words, when those top two percent of users get massive bandwidth bills at the end of May, and they call in with full-bore nerd rage, AT&T will have an easy solution: cut them off entirely, and waive the cancellation fee.

But in perhaps an unintended consequence of this move, that would also allow disgruntled users to wriggle out of their contract with whatThe L.A. Times called “some strategic cussing.”

Raw Story put that to an AT&T spokesman, in the same language reflected above. While they disagreed with “the premise” of this story, they did not refute it. After AT&T promised a more detailed response, Raw Story held this report for a day, but no word had arrived at time of publication.

AT&T claims its top 2 percent of users are responsible for about 20 percent of the traffic on their network, but they add that most users don’t get anywhere near the coming-soon bandwidth cap of 150 gigabytes per month. Still, it’s unclear why their bandwidth caps are necessary if, as they say, most users are topping out at around 10-20 gigabytes.

The bandwidth cap would impose a $10 fee for every 50 gigabytes over the limit. A more expensive 250 gigabyte subscription was also in the works. Users who go over their information limit will have their first three violations will be waived, the company said.

Metering information like water

The move toward metered Internet and bandwidth as a tangible commodity has some tech businesses and Internet freedom advocates up in arms, calling AT&T’s plan a way to force other companies into a restrictive and costly business model. Some are also concerned that with Internet users watching their bandwidth meters, usage may go down and innovation could suffer.

Analysts are predicting the move could have a tremendous effect on Netflix, the most popular movie rental service online with a massive catalog of watch-anytime titles available for streaming. While it does not yet offer true 1080p video (high definition is at 720p), should Netflix finally upgrade to full fidelity video as planned, AT&T users would have to keep their viewing time to less than 90 minutes a day to avoid overage fees.

In Canada, where users have been forced into much smaller bandwidth allotments by Internet providers, Netflix even offers a option to decrease the resolution and make their videos look much worse in order to save on bandwidth.

But with most Americans watching over 153 hours of television a month according to Nielsen ratings, that leaves little time for Netflix, let alone bandwidth-intensive video games like “Call of Duty” or “World of Warcraft.”

But it’s not just entertainment: distributed computing networks, Internet professionals and tech startups of many stripes depend on unlimited access to data networks as a utility, and will all be tremendously affected once the new bandwidth-as-a-commodity business model is forced upon Internet users.

“Our new plan addresses another concern: customers strongly believe that only those who use the most bandwidth should pay more than those who don’t use as much,” an AT&T spokesman claimed earlier this month. “That’s exactly what this does – and again, 98% of our customers will not be impacted by this.”

The company imposed similar system of bandwidth caps on their wireless data services last year, doing away with the $30 unlimited package and offering instead 200 megabytes for $15 or 2 gigabytes for $25.

AT&T has also taken action against users of their smartphones who’ve broken the company’s software limitations. Savvy users with unlocked Android phones or iPhones can install software that uses their device’s data connection to feed Internet into any computer, but AT&T has its own software solution and and seeks to force its “unlimited” users into it by specifically looking for PC and Mac-like Internet traffic, which will soon trigger an automatic charge on that users’ account.

The so-called net neutrality rules that recently passed the FCC permit “throttling” (or slowing) of certain data on wireless networks, and explicitly allows the creation of tiered Internet subscription packages similar to AT&T’s.

The telecom giant said recently it was seeking to buy-out competitor T-Mobile for $39 billion. Though the deal faces steep regulatory hurdles, industry observers suspected it would be approved. The move would turn AT&T into America’s largest telecom, a position currently held by Verizon.

AT&T’s restricted Internet plans begin May 2.

Update: AT&T responds, and doesn’t deny it

AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom writes:

“[This] is about ensuring that our employees are treated with respect and not subjected to verbal abuse…and ensuring they’re able to help all of our customers. It’s also designed to be used in extreme cases and would only happen after multiple incidents and warnings.

“We’re not saying customers can’t get upset. This is about truly extreme and abusive situations.”

In other words: it’s going to take a little commitment, if you really want out of an AT&T contract without paying. Might want to send the kids out of the room for that one.

Bloom also added that AT&T is not actively “throttling” users who tether their smartphones to computers, but that the company will soon start automatically adding charges to their bills if these customers continue using their phone to surf the Internet.

Image credit: Flickr user akaalias.

Updated from an original version.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.

Here we go again… more Thunderstorms on the way!

20140703-210840-76120573.jpg20140703-210840-76120924.jpg

Severe Weather and Tropical Storm Arthur Coordination Message #2

..Weather Pattern still will turn active Wednesday Evening through Friday and possibly into Saturday Morning with several days of severe weather and flood to flash flood potential and the potential for some possible impacts from Tropical Storm Arthur or Arthur’s interaction with a cold front that will move through the region..
..Isolated to Scattered Strong to Severe Thunderstorms are possible Wednesday Evening in Western New England and across much of Southern New England on Thursday. Strong to Damaging Winds, Hail, and heavy rainfall with the potential for urban and poor drainage flooding or flash flooding are the main threats. As we get into later Thursday and Friday, possibly extending into Saturday Morning, impacts from Tropical Storm Arthur and his interaction with a cold front, could cause additional heavy rainfall and flood to flash flood potential across portions of Southern New England with exact locations for impact uncertain. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed portions of Western New England in a Slight Risk for Severe Weather for Wednesday and much of Southern New England in a 5% probability for severe weather Thursday..
..SKYWARN Activation with Ops at NWS Taunton are possible Wednesday Evening and Thursday. It is too early to say whether any SKYWARN Activation will be needed late this week for any impacts from Tropical Storm Arthur and his interaction with the cold front..

After a relatively quiet stretch of weather over the past few weeks, the weather will turn active as we get into Wednesday Evening through Friday and possibly into Saturday Morning. Hot and humid conditions will prevail over the region over the next few days. A Cold Front will be gradually approaching Southern New England from the west and will begin to affect our region Wednesday Evening. This could bring the first round of isolated to scattered strong to severe thunderstorms starting in Western New England Wednesday Evening. Strong to damaging winds, large hail and heavy rainfall with the potential for urban and poor drainage flooding to flash flooding are the main threats. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed portions of Western New England in a Slight Risk for Severe Weather for Wednesday.

As we get into Thursday and Friday, possibly extending into early Saturday Morning, impacts from Tropical Storm Arthur and the interaction of the approaching cold front could potentially lead to what is known as a ‘predecessor rainfall event’ also known as a PRE which could result in the potential for widespread heavy rainfall in the axis of where this event take place. It is unclear where this axis will setup across the region or if it stays south of our area. Even without this event, the approaching cold front has the potential for another round of isolated to scattered strong to severe thunderstorms for Thursday to much of Southern New England with strong to damaging winds, hail and urban and poor drainage flooding to flash flooding as the primary threats. The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has placed much of Southern New England in a 5% probability for severe weather Thursday.

In terms of the exact track of Tropical Storm Arthur, the track currently brings Arthur around the 40 North/70 West Benchmark. While this track would keep the strongest winds south and east of Southern New England, the interaction of this system with the cold front and its transition to a post tropical system could change the impacts of this system on the region. In addition, the cone of uncertainty on the track guidance extends as far north as Southeast New England. As the system organizes and begins its expected shift to the north, model tracks should become more certain as we get into the Wednesday afternoon into Thursday Morning timeframe. Interests in Southern New England should monitor the track of Tropical Storm Arthur as well as how this system interacts with the cold front as we get into the timeframe of impact late this week.

SKYWARN Activation with Ops at NWS Taunton are possible Wednesday Evening and Thursday. It is too early to say whether any SKYWARN Activation will be needed late this week for any impacts from Tropical Storm Arthur and his interaction with the cold front. The next coordination message will be posted by 1000 AM Wednesday Morning. Below is the NWS Taunton Hazardous Weather Outlook, Marine Weather Statement, SPC Day-2 and Day-3 Convective Outlooks and links to latest National Hurricane Center products on Tropical Storm Arthur:

NWS Taunton Hazardous Weather Outlook:

http://kamala.cod.edu/ma/latest.flus41.KBOX.html

NWS Taunton Marine Weather Statement:

http://kamala.cod.edu/ma/latest.fzus71.KBOX.html

SPC Day-2 Convective Outlook:

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day2otlk.html

SPC Day-3 Convective Outlook:

http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/day3otlk.html

National Hurricane Center – Miami Florida Information:

Tropical Storm Arthur NHC Advisory and Graphical Information:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

Tropical Storm Arthur Public Advisory Information:

http://kamala.cod.edu/TPC/latest.wtnt31.KNHC.html

Tropical Storm Arthur Technical Discussion Information:

http://kamala.cod.edu/TPC/latest.wtnt41.KNHC.html

Tropical Storm Arthur Forecast/Advisory Information:

http://kamala.cod.edu/TPC/latest.wtnt21.KNHC.html

Tropical Storm Arthur Wind Speed Probabilities:

http://kamala.cod.edu/TPC/latest.font11.KNHC.html

Yeki Jeki Eki liked this post
112 ‘queries’