America's super-concentrated telcoms industry unites to sue California over Net Neutrality law

Competition scholar Tim Wu has described how industries over time become more concentrated and less competitive, as executives move sideways from one giant company to another, creating a web of backchannels that lets the companies unite to pursue their industry-wide goals rather than competing with each other to deliver better service at better prices to their customers. Read the rest

North Carolina Verizon customers, trapped by Hurricane Florence, say they're being throttled and upsold

Redditor AbeFroman21 posted that he and his family are without power or internet due to Hurricane Florence, and that Verizon has throttled their internet access to an unusable trickle, offering to unblock them if they pay for a higher tier of service. Read the rest

Santa Clara fire department: Verizon's pants are on fire

When Verizon's life-threatening price-gouging was introduced in a sworn statement from the Santa Clara County Fire Department as part of 22 states' lawsuits against the FCC over its dismantling of Net Neutrality rules, Verizon's crisis communications team leapt into action. Read the rest

Verizon to fire department: you're exceeding your bandwidth while you fight wildfires, so we're throttling you

The Santa Clara County Fire Department had its Verizon wireless access throttled to 0.5% of normal, in the midst of its fight against the California wildfires; Verizon said that the firefighters had been using too much bandwidth while they risked their lives racing to save the county from being engulfed in flames. Read the rest

New York City makes all prisoner calls free

The City of New York has declared that all calls from its city jails will henceforth be free; meaning the city will forego the $5,000,000 it took from prisoners and their families every year. Read the rest

UK regulators ban lies in ISP ads, advertised speeds drop by 41%

The UK Committees of Advertising Practice changed the rules for ISP advertising: where once the ISPs could advertise speeds of "Up to" some incredibly high number so long as 10% of customers ever achieved that speed, now ISPs can only advertise a speed promise if 51% of their customers attain that speed at all times. Read the rest

Fraudsters offers thousands to low-waged telco employees for help with SIM Swap scams

SIM Swapping is a powerful form of fraud in which criminals convince the phone company to switch your phone number to a SIM they control; once they have your phone number, they can bypass the SMS-based two-factor authentication protecting your cryptocurrency wallets, social media accounts, and other valuable systems. Read the rest

Your phone company's shitty security is all that's standing between you and total digital destruction

Online services increasingly rely on SMS messages for two-factor authentication, which means on the one hand that it's really hard to rip you off without first somehow stealing your phone number, but on the other hand, once someone diverts your SMS messages, they can plunder everything Read the rest

Comcast's $1.2b/year modem-rental scam picks your pocket, then exposes you to hackers, stalkers and identity thieves

For most of a century, AT&T ripped off its customers by requiring them to rent their phones, meaning that over the life of your phone subscription, you would buy your phone thousands of times over. Read the rest

Cable industry attains the impossible: makes Americans hate it even more

Comcast is America's perennial most hated company, so it's hard to imagine how it could get even less popular, but you've got to give the company credit: on the way to growing to never-seen size and profitability, it continues to lead its ever-more-unpopular industry in customer dissatisfaction! Read the rest

Ajit Pai: portrait of a Vichy nerd who transformed from debating-society darling to thin-skinned, brooding manbaby

Andrew Rice's long profile of neutracidal FCC chairman Ajit Pai paints a portrait of a genuine nerd who really loves the ways the internet let him escape his small-town life, who really dotes on memes and Star Wars, and who threw fun parties when he was a young man -- and who is a textbook bootlicker, convinced that corporations will save America from the tyranny of government overreach, and who decided that if Trump was the way to get there, he would carry water for Trump. Read the rest

Comcast charges you $90 to "install" cable in houses that are already wired by Comcast

If you move into a new place and start service from Comcast -- increasingly the only way to get internet service in many places -- the company will often charge you a $90 installation fee, even if the previous occupants had already installed Comcast service, and even if you buy and set up your own modem. Read the rest

AT&T to the Supreme Court: "Fuck the FTC"

Back when the anti-Net-Neutrality was pretending to have anything like an argument (apart from, "NETWORK NEUTRALITY INTERFERES WITH MY ABILITY TO BECOME LIMITLESSLY RICH, GO FUCK YOURSELF), one of the stupid pieces of spaghetti they threw at the wall was, "The FCC shouldn't regulate telcos, that's the FTC's job." Read the rest

Comcast: if you don't subscribe to cable TV, we won't sell you high-speed internet

Comcast has found a new way to stem "cord-cutting" (cutting off your cable TV subscription in favor of subscription services like Netflix, or, as in my case, in favor of giving up on watching TV altogether); in markets where they are a monopoly or duopoly, they will reserve their highest-speed internet offerings for customers who agree to pay extra for cable channels that they don't want or need -- if all you want is internet access, Comcast will relegate you to its slow lanes. Read the rest

100 US Mayors sign a pledge to boycott ISPs that commit Net Neutrality violations

As states pass a wave of laws barred non-neutral ISPs from providing services to state agencies, more than 100 US mayors have pledged to disqualify non-neutral ISPs from getting city contracts as well. Read the rest

T-Mobile fined $40m for scamming rural users with Potemkin ring-tones

T-Mobile didn't want its rural users to know how shitty its service was, so when the company couldn't connect a call, it would play fake "ring tones" to the caller that made it sounds like the person on the other end wasn't picking up. It did this "hundreds of millions of times" per year. Read the rest

Between Trump, Ajit Pai and a GOP Congress, there's never been a better time for a terrible Sprint/T-Mobile merger

One of the factors that makes the Net Neutrality fight so urgent is how little competition there is in the telcoms sector; it -- like the whole modern economy is dominated by a few giant, top-heavy firms that are gobbling one another at speed. Read the rest

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