Apple pledges $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools toward Obama’s ConnectED education program

A student looks at his iPad as his class watches a live broadcast of a lecture given by Shenzhou-10 spacecraft astronauts on the Tiangong-1 space module, at a primary school in Quzhou

While it was announced briefly during the President’s State of the Union address last week, Associated Press reports today that Apple along with other tech companies are pledging around $750 million in an initiative to bring high-speed internet to schools. Called ConnectED, the program was officially announced by the White House today with the goal of connecting “99 percent of America’s students to the internet through high-speed broadband and high-speed wireless within 5 years.” For its part, Apple is reportedly providing around $100 million in iPads and other equipment: Read more

Sprint buys $480M in spectrum/customers from US Cellular, FCC fines AT&T $700K for overbilling

A couple carriers are making headlines today for different reasons. Sprint, which could soon be scooped up by Softbank, announced today (via Engadget) it is spending $480 million to acquire PCS spectrum and 585,000 customers from U.S. cellular across the Midwest. As always, the deal is subject to approval from government officials in the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, but Sprint could take over the spectrum and customers in “parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio including the Chicago and St. Louis markets” by sometime next year:

Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will acquire 20 MHz of PCS spectrum in the 1900 MHz band in various Midwest markets including Chicago, South Bend, Ind. and Champaign, Ill. and 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market.

AT&T is also making the news today with the FCC announcing the carrier will pay a $700,000 fine to put an end to the agency’s investigation into how the carrier handled its transition to mandatory monthly data plans (via BGR). The investigation followed complaints from consumers that AT&T had switched them from grandfathered pay-as-you-go plans to its new monthly plans as far back as 2009. According to the FCC, as part of the settlement, AT&T “has agreed to refund excess charges paid by individual customers, which could be as much as $25 to $30 a month, depending on data use”: Read more

Verizon spanked by FCC for charging extra for tethering/apps, should drop extra fee in short order

Verizon iPhone Personal Hotspot settings (Image: TechCrunch)

Verizon was fined a measly $1.25 million today for blocking access to tethering apps mostly on the Android platform. That does not apply to most iOS users (currently), however. That is because this ruling —for now— only affects LTE 4G devices. With the next-generation iPhone, which will launch in mid-September, heavily rumored to be the first iPhone to include LTE access, this will affect those choosing to go with Verizon Wireless for their fancy new iPhone.

The ruling asserts that Verizon must not charge an additional fee for tethering on its devices—so long as they are not on the grandfathered unlimited data plans. The iPhone has included tethering support since iOS 3.0, and the feature was taken to the next level by Apple and Verizon Wireless with the launch of the Verizon iPhone 4 and the wireless Personal Hotspot feature in early 2011. The feature was soon spread to iPhone carriers globally with iOS 4.3.

Earlier this year, Apple brought the Personal Hotspot feature to its tablet with the LTE iPad. Something notable with Apple and Verizon’s agreement for the iPad is that the wireless tethering feature is included in the pre-paid data plans. If a user pays a certain amount for data, they will not have to pay anything extra to access the wireless tethering system. With the LTE iPhone, according to today’s FCC ruling, users will have the same, great experience.

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Verizon back-tracks, will not impose $2 single payment fee

Verizon Wireless has been under fire this week after announcing it would begin imposing a $2 fee on customers who do not have their bill set to be paid automatically, and instead pay it through electronic check. Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced they would begin investigating Verizon’s new fee. Shortly after, Verizon announced on its website that they will not impose the fee to meet with customer’s requests.

The company made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions. The company continues to encourage customers to take advantage of the numerous simple and convenient payment methods it provides.

Verizon said this fee was going to help move customers to a more convenient payment method. Luckily, they have chosen to go the other way.
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AT&T- T-Mobile Merger looks to be over, companies pursuing a tactical workaround


Image via ARS

Big news today (surprisingly on a 4 day US weekend).  The AT&T and T-Mobile merger was withdrawn from the FCC today.

 On November 23, 2011, AT&T Inc. and Deutsche Telekom AG electronically withdrew without prejudice, as of that date, the pending applications listed in the Public Notice released by the Federal Communications Commission on April 28, 2011 in that proceeding. Associated manual notification of withdrawal filings also are being made.

The two companies look to be pursuing an alternative plan… Read more