AT&T

Paul Taylor

I had fun at Mobile World Congress last month demonstrating a new go-anywhere ruggedised phone from Sonim that can withstand being rolled over by a rubbish truck or used as a hammer to knock a nail into wood.

Now AT&T, the second largest US mobile network operator, has launched its first ‘intrinsically safe’ rugged device – the A25is smartphone by Aero Wireless

Joseph Menn

If your iPhone is still sluggish a few years from now, don’t blame Cisco Systems.

The top networking equipment maker on Tuesday announced a new high-end router for telecom companies that it said could handle three times the internet traffic of its current model at the same $90,000 base price.

Put a few of them together–ok, 72–and you could handle a video call from every man, woman and child in China. 

Joseph Menn

Top wired telecom provider AT&T is clearly doing something right with U-verse TV, its cable-like service delivering more than 100 high-definition television channels over internet pipes to what are now more than 1.8m living rooms.

On Thursday, AT&T Chief Technology Officer John Donovan and others came to San Francisco to show off what may be coming improvements to U-verse, among other things, from the research labs that claim 8 Nobel Prizes. 

Chris Nuttall

Android phones loomed large at the CTIA show in San Diego this week, while the FCC chairman made the trip to the West Coast to warn the wireless industry’s convention of a looming spectrum crisis.

AT&T and others blamed heavy-duty data users and smartphones like the iPhone for a 5,000 per cent increase in data traffic over three years.

It has also been a big week for antitrust cases, as Europe finally ended its battle with Microsoft and the US began one with IBM.

We discussed all of this and more in our weekly FT techtalk – a live, multimedia chat with the FT’s tech correspondents. Read the transcript below and  join us again next week – at 0800 Pacific time (1500GMT, 1600BST) here on Friday. 

Chris Nuttall

The major video game publishers have switched development of next-generation games from consoles to the OnLive platform of internet-based gaming, according to the service’s founder.

Steve Perlman, (pictured) OnLive chief executive, said his service was also gaining considerable attention from investors, as he announced a major funding round led by AT&T Media Holdings. 

Richard Waters

  • The Federal Communications Commission said it would look into the exclusive ties in the US that have limited some mobile handsets to particular operators. The promise came as AT&T prepared to welcome another spate of new customers, thanks to its exclusive deal to carry the iPhone in the US. Three students were the first to start lining up to buy the iPhone 3G S in New York, arriving 24 hours before the official Friday morning launch of the device. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted sales of 500,000 this weekend.

 

  • A Yahoo / Microsoft deal could still be struck if it involved “a boatload of money.” That was the word from Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s chief executive, who said her company is no longer in serious talks with Microsoft over a deal to combine their search efforts. But she acknowledged that negotiations between the two companies were continuing “a little bit”.
  • Time Warner is close to a decision to spin off all of its AOL internet business, according to three people in contact with the company. Although a decision has not yet been finalised, executives prefer spinning off the whole division rather than a part. Over the past year, Time Warner has considered spinning off either its advertising-driven “audience business” or its legacy dial-up internet business, they say.

 

Chris Nuttall

It seems there is a downside to AT&T’s exclusive relationship with Apple and the iPhone and it can be summed up in the microcosm of AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.

As the Wall Street Journal pointed out on Monday, iPhone users are bandwidth hogs. The comScore research firm reported in March that 80 per cent of UK iPhone users were accessing news and information through a browser – four times the rate for all mobile phone users. More than 18 per cent had bought and downloaded a game, compared to 6 per cent of other smartphone owners. 

  • The US Federal Trade Commission is looking into the close ties between the boards of Apple and Google, according to the New York Times. The regulators are looking at whether the fact that Apple and Google share two directors, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and former Genentech chief executive Arthur Levinson, while also competing in several areas, falls foul of anti-trust laws, the New York Times said.
  • Amazon is on Wednesday expected to announce a large-format device similar to the Kindle that is optimised for reading textbooks, newspapers and magazines. Amazon has taken the lead in the rapidly emerging market for e-book readers with its Kindle and Kindle 2.

 

  • Verizon Communications has held talks with Apple about selling versions of either the iPhone or other Apple devices in the US. Currently AT&T is the exclusive distributor of the iPhone in the US, and the company was reportedly trying to extend that deal for another year. A lucrative deal with Apple would be a coup for Verizon, which reported strong quarterly profits from its growing mobile business.
  • Qualcomm, the world’s biggest maker of chips for mobile phones, put an end to legal wrangling by settling a four-year patent dispute with rival Broadcom. Qualcomm has agreed to pay Broadcom $891m over four years in exchange for the dismissal of all court cases and Broadcom withdrawing its complaints about Qualcomm’s business practices.