& cplSiteName &

AT&T Plays Big Brother

Mari Silbey
12/12/2013
50%
50%

Spying: It's not just for the National Security Agency anymore.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has just launched its new high-speed "U-verse with GigaPower" service in Austin, Texas. Tacked on to the service agreement for the Premier tier is a clause that stipulates users must opt in to AT&T Internet Preferences. Internet Preferences lets AT&T "use your individual web browsing information, like the search terms you enter and the web pages you visit, to tailor ads and offers to your interests."

For agreeing to participate, subscribers get a $29 monthly discount off the Standard U-verse-with-GigaPower offer of $99 per month. There's also a waiver of all fees for equipment, installation, and activation. Both Standard and Premier tiers promise downstream speeds of up to 300 Mbits/s now, with a free upgrade to speeds of 1 Gbit/s in 2014.

Not too coincidentally, the AT&T gigabit launch in Austin coincides with a push by Google Fiber Inc. to introduce its own gigabit service in the area. (See AT&T 1-Gig Fiber Live This Week in Austin.)

But, in a sign of how hugely valuable targeted advertising rights can be, AT&T is only offering its new broadband connections at Google prices if it can also access subscriber browsing data. Starting in Kansas City, Google Fiber set the standard for 1Gbit/s broadband service at $70 per month. (See Keeping Up With Google Fiber.)

While AT&T beat Google Fiber to the punch in Austin, its Internet Preferences clause may prove problematic. As GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham points out, it may be that AT&T is using deep packet inspection to gauge the content of user traffic. If so, the telco could face regulatory scrutiny in addition to a backlash in the press.

AT&T did make a case for the Internet Preferences program in a written response to GigaOM. In that response, it included assurances that the company won't sell any personal information discovered in the web monitoring process.

"We use various methods to collect web browsing information, and we are currently reviewing the methods we may use for the Internet Preferences program," AT&T said. "Whichever method is used, we will not collect information from secure (https) or otherwise encrypted sites, such as online banking or when a credit card is used to buy something online on a secure site. And we won't sell your personal information to anyone, for any reason."

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

(18)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Phil_Britt
50%
50%
Phil_Britt,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/16/2013 | 9:06:05 PM
Not surprising
With Google and several other companies tracking what you do, this AT&T move shouldn't be a surprise. Retailers and several other firms track much of what you do through loyalty programs, social media and a variety of other means.

1984 is here.
Aloysious
50%
50%
Aloysious,
User Rank: Lightning
12/16/2013 | 1:15:15 PM
Re: Pricing
"It was only willing to be competitive with a big caveat."

It was only willing to be competitive to be in order to somewhat be relevant in Austin. So, pretty much like most of the major players in this country.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/13/2013 | 8:07:05 PM
Re: Pricing
I don't dount that there are teams in AT&T that can perform, but the question is can AT&T not get in their way, and frankly I have my doubts.
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/13/2013 | 4:55:41 PM
Re: Pricing
OK. I think i follow that. But can AT&T execute nearly as well as Google? I have my doubts.  
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/13/2013 | 11:59:27 AM
Re: Pricing
I doubt is was that well thought out :)
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/13/2013 | 11:53:25 AM
Re: Pricing
That's true, AT&T is new, so it's marketing of it is new as well. Maybe they're doing it this way becuase they got so much push-back when they changed their opt-in policy on the wireless side.
MordyK
50%
50%
MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
12/13/2013 | 11:34:35 AM
Re: Pricing
It's pretty much teh same set of fixed cost numbers that made Google price it at $70 which includes a set of numbers about how much they can monetize the data, which is akin to their model with Android. For AT&T this is a new concept in wireless but in reality its comparable to the wireless subsidy model, where you can buy full price phones/service or you can pay it out over time with an alternate value which in this case is usage data.
Sarah Thomas
50%
50%
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
12/13/2013 | 10:37:00 AM
Re: Pricing
What's the full rate though? Isn't that just determined by market and competition dynamics? I don't believe that either is just covering their costs.
Carol Wilson
50%
50%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
12/12/2013 | 4:41:41 PM
Re: Pricing
Okay, I'm not one to defend AT&T but it looks to me like they are doing what Google and Facebook and others do all the time and getting whacked for it. 
albreznick
50%
50%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
12/12/2013 | 3:35:22 PM
Re: Pricing
Yup. It sure does. They're taking a good thing and making it look worse.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
From The Founder
Cisco's Conrad Clemson, recently promoted to head up the company's Service Provider Apps & Platforms developments, talks to Light Reading's Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about how he's bringing cloud video, mobile and virtualization together to empower network operators.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei's Pre-MWC Analyst Briefing 2017 Highlights

2|22|17   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei shares its vision for this year's MWC.
LRTV Interviews
MWC17: 5G, Cloud RAN & More

2|21|17   |   04:35   |   (0) comments


Ovum Senior Analyst Julian Bright talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about all things MWC, including Cloud RAN, Huawei's pitch to the industry and the road to 5G.
LRTV Interviews
MWC 2017's Key 2-Letter Terms

2|20|17   |   08:29   |   (1) comment


5G, AI, VR... these are just some of the two-letter terms that will dominate show-floor chat at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, according to these two blow-hards (a.k.a. Scott Bicheno of Telecoms.com and Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre). And then there's PB...
LRTV Interviews
Key Trends for Mobile Operators in Developing Markets

2|20|17   |   06:37   |   (0) comments


Ovum's Matthew Reed talks to Scott Bicheno from Telecoms.com about the challenges and opportunities facing mobile operators in the developing markets of Africa and the Middle East.
LRTV Documentaries
YouTube Takes on Facebook Live-Streaming

2|17|17   |     |   (0) comments


Popular 'YouTubers' will be the first to get the new service on their smartphones. You have been warned.
LRTV Custom TV
Open Source NFV/SDN Automation

2|17|17   |   05:54   |   (0) comments


AT&T ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) code is transitioning into the Linux Foundation for placement into open source. In this video, Carol Wilson provides an update on the maturation of open source ECOMP and meets with industry leaders from AT&T, Bell Canada, Orange, Linux Foundation and Amdocs to discuss what this means for the ...
LRTV Documentaries
Uber & NASA Collaborate on Flying Car Project

2|16|17   |     |   (0) comments


Is Uber for real? Well, it's hired NASA engineer Mark Moore to lead the project, and he wouldn't come cheap.
LRTV Documentaries
Zuckerberg Tries Out the Oculus Rift VR Glove

2|15|17   |     |   (0) comments


Facebook CEO shows off a new way to interact with the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset: an Oculus glove.
LRTV Custom TV
Huawei Digital Transformation Forum 2017

2|10|17   |     |   (0) comments


Here's a preview of the upcoming Huawei Digital Transformation Forum taking place in Barcelona with trending telecom topics like cloud, IoT, 5G and much more!
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Dan Sahar of Qwilt on Open Edge Cloud Platform

2|8|17   |   08:38   |   (0) comments


Dan Sahar, Qwilt's co-founder, sits down with Steve Saunders of Light Reading for a conversation about Qwilt's Open Edge Cloud platform and the new role of service providers in application and content delivery.
LRTV Documentaries
ZeroStack's 'Self-Driving Cloud'

2|7|17   |   01:09   |   (0) comments


Its Z-Brain tech automates day-to-day management and long-term planning for hybrid clouds.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Nominum's Craig Sprosts on DNS & Cybersecurity Trends

2|7|17   |     |   (0) comments


Nominum's Craig Sprosts talks about the fast-changing landscape of cybersecurity with Steve Saunders of Light Reading. Sprosts touches on the trend of the rise of ransomwares, rivals of IoT base attacks, and mobile network security. He also discusses the realization of the importance of IoT security after a recent cyber attack that paralyzed several major ...
Upcoming Live Events
March 21-22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
March 22, 2017, The Curtis Hotel, Denver, CO
May 15-17, 2017, Austin Convention Center, Austin, TX
May 15, 2017, Austin Convention Center - Austin, TX
June 6, 2017, The Joule Hotel, Dallas, TX
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Is the Time Right for a Cisco/Ericsson Wedding?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 2/17/2017
Broadband Has a Problem on the Pole
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/21/2017
Verizon to Start Fixed 5G Customer Trials in April
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 2/22/2017
Nice to See at Least One CSP Taking My Advice
Mitch Wagner, Editor, Enterprise Cloud, 2/17/2017
Charter Launches 5G Field Trials
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/16/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders chats with Sportlogiq CEO Craig Buntin about sports data analysis.
Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox Technologies, speaks to Steve Saunders, CEO of Light Reading, for an exclusive interview about the 100 GB cable challenge, cybersecurity and much more.
Animals with Phones
No One Likes This Click Here
Take a hint!
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.