DWW: The new offense, brought to you by AT&T and MediaFLO

Soon you’ll be able to speed down the highway who watching AT&T’s TV two-channel service on your mobile phone.  Call it “Driving While Watching” (DWW).

“Gee, Judge, I really wanted to see the whole episode of Lost, so that’s why I accidentally hit that old lady crossing the street. Sure the light was red, but I was really engrossed in the plot when I passed over the lady, and really, there weren’t any cars in the intersection at the time. You understand, don’t you, your honor?!”

Here’s the PR puff:

AT&T Mobile TV – Coming to Your Wireless Phone in May

Innovative New Service to Broadcast on Two New AT&T Exclusive Handsets from LG and Samsung

AT&T Will Feature Full-Length Television Content, including Two Exclusive Channels

San Antonio, Texas, March 27, 2008

AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) and MediaFLO USA Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM) announced today the launch of AT&T Mobile TV with FLO, a mobile television service featuring high quality live programming. The mobile TV service will launch in May 2008 on two new exclusive handsets, the LG Vu™ and the Samsung Access™. AT&T Mobile TV will also feature two exclusive channels, which will be announced soon.

AT&T Mobile TV will deliver full-length television content and sporting events from top networks, including programming from leading entertainment brands CBS Mobile, Comedy Central, ESPN Mobile TV, FOX Mobile, MTV, NBC 2GO, NBC News2Go and Nickelodeon.

“AT&T Mobile TV is a powerful new mobile entertainment offering, which will give our customers a formidable lineup of sports, news and primetime shows, including two channels exclusive available to AT&T customers,” said Mark Collins, vice president of Consumer Data for AT&T’s wireless unit. “We are thrilled to team with MediaFLO USA to offer our customers an unmatched mobile entertainment experience that is changing the way we all look at TV.”

“By making the FLO TV service available to AT&T customers, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, MediaFLO USA continues to expand our award winning FLO TV service to consumers across the country,” said Gina Lombardi, president of MediaFLO USA. “We look forward to working closely with AT&T to continue the momentum of making mobile TV a staple for more consumers.”

The AT&T Mobile TV service will be launched on two stylish devices: the Vu from LG Electronics MobileComm U.S.A. Inc. (LG), and the Access from and Samsung Telecommunications America (Samsung).

  • LG Vu: A sleek and stunning device, the Vu gives you a clear view of TV, Web, pictures or videos on its large interactive touch screen. It also lets you get the utmost in mobile entertainment with a music player, 2.0 megapixel camera and Bluetooth® capabilities.
  • Samsung Access: This stylish handset features a large landscape display, ideal for delivering a rich viewing experience and an internal antenna for exceptional reception. It’s a great device for customers who are looking for advanced multimedia capabilities such as a camera, external stereo speakers, stereo Bluetooth, AT&T Music, CV, of course, AT&T Mobile TV.

More details on AT&T’s soon-to-be-launched mobile TV service from MediaFLO USA and the company’s exclusive handsets from LG and Samsung will be available soon. To learn more about AT&T’s other mobile entertainment offerings, visit www.wireless.att.com/entertainment.


Eco-friendly MonoPalm in St. Lucia? Not really.

Eco Friendly MonoPalm?

Cable and Wireless must get the prize for its odd attempt to position a fairly ugly monopalm as being eco-friendly.

This poorly designed monopalm is located on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia.

Poorly designed? Well, yes. Let take a close look at C&W’s monopine in the photo:

1. The monopalm has its antennas showing;

2. The site uses microwave for backhaul to the MTSO, so it requires a very visible dish below the palms;

3. The clamps are not camouflaged;

4. The metal of the trunk of the monopalm is partially exposed.

5. The climbing safety cable is visible.

All-in-all, fairly ugly.

Below is C&W’s news release praising itself for this project:

A history making moment was created by Cable and Wireless after the company installed the first ever environmentally-friendly Palm Tree Cellular Tower in St Lucia. The Mono Palm as it is called is shaped like a palm tree with a trunk and palms fronds at the top. The palm fronds are made of plastic and metal and they flutter in the wind. The Mono Palm stands majestically at 71 ft. and is located high up on ridge in Monchy where it blends naturally with the green vegetation in the area. The eco-friendly tower, like the other towers of Cable and Wireless around St Lucia, is able to withstand up to category five hurricanes.Cable & Wireless VP Networks, Sean Auguste said: “Cable & Wireless is pleased to have erected the first palm tree cellular tower in St Lucia which will not only provide enhanced mobile coverage to customers in the north but it also blends perfectly with the island’s natural habitat and preserves the aesthetic beauty of St Lucia’s landscape.” He was full of praise for the members of the C&W Networks, Operations and Mobile teams who worked diligently to set up the tower and have it activated.

“We are very proud of this quarter million dollar investment, which is located high above a new and expanding residential area overlooking Rodney Bay. This technologically advanced cell tower, plus its tremendous height makes it ideal for providing the expanded coverage that will be needed in the immediate area and areas further north, including Beausejour and Rodney Bay,” Auguste added.

Cable & Wireless has also installed a Mono Palm in Dominica in the William Estate in the Pond Casse area. The erection of the towers in St Lucia and Dominica means that in technical terms these are first such cell towers to be set up in the OECS.


Sprint Nextel = Racketeer?

In a class action suit filed by Jerald D. Crawford against Sprint Nextel Corporation, Mr. Crawford asserts that:

“Throughout the Class Period, as defined below, the Defendant originated, designed, implemented, and executed a policy, a form or established pattern and practice and/or course of conduct, by and which it would transmit via federal interstate wires, including electronic messaging (e-mail”), and federal mails, a series of deceptive, false, fraudulent and misleading advertisements regarding its “Sprint Picture Mail” plan to all persons whose names had been ascertained through the Defendant’s billing and/or business records.”

…and goes on to claim that

“The purpose and intent of these deceptive, false, fraudulent and misleading advertisements was to entice and/or lure Sprint/Nextel customers into purchasing the “Sprint Picture Mail” plan for a $5.00/month service charge without disclosing the true charges associated with this add on service, which were exorbitant and in many cases caused the purchaser’s bill to double. “

The facts of the case as asserted by Crawford are:

“In or around October 2006, the Plaintiff, Jerald Crawford began receiving advertisements via his cellular phone from the Defendant regarding its Picture Mail service that stated the following: “Service Fee to gain access, add Sprint Picture Mail to your Sprint Service Plan. A $5.00/mo. service charge (plus taxes and fees) will be added to your Sprint Invoice.

“This advertisement and promotion does not mention what other fees and costs are associated with this service. After a customer purchases this service, they still are not apprised of what other costs may be associated with it until the end of the billing cycle.

“At the end of the billing cycle, Defendant Sprint presents the customer with a total price, which the customers must pay. Defendant Sprint, through its advertisements, marketing, sales techniques, statements, actions and omissions, leads the customer to believe and understand that the price presented represents the cost of the service alone.

“Plaintiff Crawford was induced to purchase this service because ofthe allegedly low service charge associated with it, however, it was never disclosed to him or, upon information and belief, anyone else at the point of purchase that this service also charged a PCS Data fee of $0.031 per KB of data transmitted.

“Plaintiff Crawford used this service to transmit photos he had taken with his cellular phone not realizing that each time a photo was sent the Defendant was charging the PCS Data fee. At no time prior to receiving his phone bill was Plaintiff Crawford aware of the PCS Data transmission fee.

“Sprint charged Plaintiff Crawford $69.72 for the Sprint Picture Mail service. Plaintiff Crawford complained to Sprint customer service representatives about these charges and the deceptive and misleading terms of the advertisement, but was informed that the charges for the picture transmissions had to be paid.

“As described above, the $5.00 Imo. Service Fee to gain access to the Sprint Picture Mail service is a scheme to defraud and obtain money by means of false, fraudulent pretenses, and representations. Defendant Sprint operates this illegal scheme and enterprise and is aided by use of the federal interstate wires, including electronic messaging (e-mail”), and the federal mails. “

This case was filed on March 11, 2008 in the Northern District of Alabama. The case number is 2:08-cv-00443-WMA.  Click on the following link to download the case:

Crawford v. Sprint Nextel


Florida Attorney General Helps AT&T Wireless Define “Free”

It seems like AT&T Wireless (Cingular) had a strange notion about the definition of the word, “free” as it applies to certain downloadable content such as ringtones and SMS messages. Lucky that the Florida Attorney General could figure it out for AT&T for a settlement of $2.5 Million, which certainly isn’t free!

From the Florida Attorney General’s website:

February 29, 2008

Media Contact: Sandi Copes
Phone: (850) 245-0150

McCollum Retrieves Millions For Florida AT&T Wireless Customers Billed for “Free” Ringtones

~ National model for advertising integrity obtained through CyberFraud Task Force settlement ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – In a significant step toward protecting consumers throughout the nation from unauthorized charges on cell phone bills, Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that AT&T Mobility will be the first wireless company in the nation to police representations made in internet advertising for cell phone content to ensure fair and full disclosure. The company will also make full restitution to Florida consumers who were unknowingly billed for “free” cell phone content. The cooperative agreement reached by the Attorney General’s CyberFraud Task Force with AT&T Mobility will establish a new model for the advertising and billing of cell phone content. Additionally, AT&T Mobility will pay $2.5 million to the Attorney General’s Office to fund the efforts of the task force as it continues to press for similar reform across the industry and will contribute an additional $500,000 toward consumer education on safe internet use.

“Consumers should never be billed for services they thought were free of charge,” said Attorney General Bill McCollum. “Today’s agreement establishes a precedent for wireless companies accepting responsibility for the way cell phone content is advertised on the internet and the manner in which charges are passed along to consumers. AT&T should be commended for being the first wireless company in the industry to offer this reform.”

Complaints received by the Attorney General’s CyberFraud Task Force led to an investigation which showed that thousands of Florida AT&T Mobility consumers had received charges on their cell phone bills for certain third party services that they did not authorize. Often, these charges were for ringtones or other services which were advertised as “free,” but resulted in customers unwittingly being signed up for costly monthly subscriptions for third-party content, including horoscopes, wallpaper and other cell phone-related content. Examples of the bill charges often appear under the following indiscernible names:

– “Direct Bill Charges””
– “3rd Party Downloadable Content”
– “Premium SMS Messages”
– “Premium Text Messages”
– “M-Qube”
– “M-blox”

Investigators further determined that these third-party content offers often target teens who frequently respond to these advertisements because they think the services are “free,” and download them to their cell phones, not knowing their parents will later be charged. These misleading practices are common in the industry and wireless companies often receive a percentage of the charges paid by consumers. Attorney General McCollum also announced today that he has directed the CyberFraud Task Force to initiate investigations into Verizon, Sprint/Nextel, Alltel and T-Mobile in an effort to ensure that all Floridians will be protected from being similarly charged without their knowledge.

“This settlement comes at a time when the digital consumer is faced with new deceptive internet scams on a daily basis,” said Brad Ashwell, legislative advocate for the Florida Public Interest Research Group. “It’s encouraging to see a corporation of AT&T’s magnitude taking responsibility for unfair charges and it is encouraging that the funds from this settlement will ensure that the Attorney General’s CyberFraud Task force continues protecting consumers in the virtual marketplace.”

Under the agreement announced today, AT&T Mobility has agreed to adopt and enforce strict standards for internet advertising developed by the CyberFraud Task Force. The company, through its contracts with all content providers and advertisers, will now require those entities to clearly and conspicuously disclose the true cost of ringtones and other content in all online advertising to potential customers. For example, a “free” ringtone offer that results in a monthly subscription at a cost of $9.99 per month to the customer must now clearly state, “Free ringtone with paid monthly subscription of $9.99/month,” and any such charges must be separately set out in the consumer’s AT&T Mobility monthly bill. This will ensure that parents have timely notice of any unauthorized charges so they may cancel such subscriptions if they wish. Moreover, AT&T Mobility will continue to offer parents the option of blocking downloaded content from their children’s cell phones and will make this service available free of charge if third-party charges have already been billed without the parents’ knowledge.

The agreement with AT&T Mobility, formerly known as Cingular Wireless, allows customers to seek refunds even if they are no longer AT&T or Cingular customers. The company has also agreed to enhance its customer complaint resolution process and, upon request, will terminate a customer’s enrollment in any recurring membership program and will issue full credits and refunds without referring the customer to a third party for such resolution. The task force intends to use the AT&T Mobility agreement as a model as it continues its investigation of the industry.

Here is a link to the signed settlement agreement: CLICK HERE