The Post and Courier – Verizon shutting North Charleston call center; 500 employees to work from home, 02/22

&Round-up of other VZW call center closure stories

Broadcasting Cable – Dish Will Spend $1B on First Phase of Wireless Buildout, 02/21

The Verge – AT&T announces Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco as first three 5G cities for 2018, 02/20

The Verge – AT&T expands ‘sponsored data’ to prepaid plans, 02/20

Fierce Wireless – No more penny pinching: Wireless carriers’ capex to surge in 2018, 02/20

Bisnow – Verizon Opens Next Generation Store On 14th Street, 02/19

Fortune – Inside T-Mobile’s Big, Brash Comeback, 02/15


Jezebel – Former Comcast Employees Describe Sexual Harassment Allowed to Run Amok at Call Centers for Years, 02/22

Digital News Daily – CenturyLink To Shutter OTT Bundle, 2/22

Ars Technica – Charter fails to defeat lawsuit alleging false Internet speed promises, 02/16


Verizon shutting North Charleston call center; 500 employees to work from home

The Post and Courier, 2/22/18

by John McDermott

Verizon Wireless will shut its large North Charleston call center by early fall as it shifts over to a home-based business model to be staffed by about 500 workers.

The closing of the Mall Drive service site was announced Wednesday and will be finalized by September, spokeswoman Karen Schultz said.

Affected Verizon employees who choose to work from home will “support customers the same way and with similar tools as if they were working from a traditional brick-and-mortar call center,” she said in a statement Thursday

The company’s website shows it has 16 call centers around the country, including two others in South Carolina. Employees at six of those sites are transitioning to home-based workers. Verizon’s customer support operations in Columbia and Greenville are not among them, Schultz said. [Link to full article]

Additional coverage of VZW closure announcements:

Huntsville, AL

Huntsville Verizon Call Center transitioning employees to work from home

Alabama.com, 2/21/18

Mankato, MN

Verizon Call Center in Mankato Closing; Some Employees to be Home-Based

Mankato Free Press, 2/22/18

Albuquerque, NM

Top state official: Verizon transition could be part of trend

Albuquerque Journal, 2/22/18

Little Rock, AR

600 Verizon Call Center Employees to Work at Home

Arkansas Matters, 2/21/18

Dish Will Spend $1B on First Phase of Wireless Buildout

Michael Farrell, 02/21/18
Broadcasting Cable

Dish Network will spend up to $1 billion on Phase One of its planned wireless network buildout, reaching at least 70% of its licensed territory with a narrowband IoT offering that will transform the satellite TV company into a business that offers full connectivity.

The network will make its debut in time for Dish to meet a March 2020 federal deadline to make the wireless network available to at least 70% of its licensed territories, part of the requirement for obtaining the licenses in the first place. But Dish chairman Charlie Ergen said its wireless offering won’t be a simply cellular and data network, instead offering connectivity across platforms and devices and supporting the “Internet of Things.” [Link to full article]

AT&T announces Dallas, Atlanta, and Waco as first three 5G cities for 2018

Nick Statt, 02/20/18
The Verge

Following AT&T’s pledge last month to build out a true 5G network by the end of the year, the telecom has announced its first three of 12 locations that will get standards-based, mobile 5G by the end of the year. The company says two Texas cities, Dallas and Waco, are on the list, as well as Atlanta, Georgia. An AT&T spokesperson says additional cities will be “announced in the coming months, rounding out the dozen we have committed to hit this year.”

AT&T originally announced its intentions to build a 5G network last year. But that technology was essentially a rebranding and deployment of existing LTE capabilities that AT&T cleverly called “5G Evolution,” which it seems was intended to confuse consumers into thinking its network had jumped ahead of competitors. However, 3GPP — the standards organization in charge of classifying what is and isn’t 5G — signed off on official specifications for a true 5G network in December of last year. Shortly after, AT&T announced its intentions to build a true network that matches the new standards.
[Link to full article]

AT&T expands ‘sponsored data’ to prepaid plans

Jacob Kastrenakes, 02/20/18
The Verge

AT&T has expanded its “sponsored data” program to cover customers on its prepaid wireless plans, offering them the ability to stream content from select partners without counting toward their data cap. The program was previously available to postpaid customers, but it now seems to apply to most AT&T wireless users.

While the program is in some ways a benefit to AT&T’s subscribers, the policy flies in the face of basic tenets of net neutrality. By offering some services for free and not others, AT&T gives a huge advantage to those apps and companies, because its customers will be much more likely to use them than competitors they’d have to give up data to use.

Not coincidentally, the only three services I could find that support AT&T’s sponsored data are owned by AT&T: DirecTV, U-verse, and Fullscreen, all video services. If you’re an AT&T wireless customer deciding between DirecTV Now and a competitor, like Hulu or Sling TV, this program gives the AT&T-owned service a huge advantage. [Link to full article]

No more penny pinching: Wireless carriers’ capex to surge in 2018

Mike Dano, 02/20/18
Fierce Wireless

“Indications suggest 2018 is going to be a big year for telecom-related spending,” wrote the analysts at Wall Street Research firm Barclays in a recent note to investors. Specifically, the analysts said they expect capex among the “big four” (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint) to rise by 10% this year, which they said would be the largest increase in the past five years.

That growth is likely to be driven mainly by AT&T and Sprint. Both companies have made it clear that they are getting ready to open their purse strings in order to grow their respective network strategies. [Link to full article]

Verizon Opens Next Generation Store On 14th Street

Jon Banister, 02/19/18

Verizon is the latest company to unveil its experiential retail concept in D.C.

The telecommunications company celebrated the opening Saturday of its Next Generation store in a 1,605 SF space at 1529 14th St. NW. D.C. Chamber of Commerce CEO Vincent Orange was one of several local officials present at the ribbon-cutting.

The Next Generation concept is “something between a convenience newsstand and a community bookstore,” Verizon said, aiming to make the shopping experience more efficient. The iteration it opened on San Francisco’s Market Street included virtual reality headsets. [Link to full article]

Inside T-Mobile’s Big, Brash Comeback

Aaron Pressman, 02/15/18

The crowd in the ballroom at the Westin New York at Times Square on this February afternoon is in a partying mood well before sundown. They’re enjoying the buzz of being an elite crew: some 200 employees handpicked by managers as top performers. They’re nodding their heads to a pounding soundtrack (Beck’s “Wow,” “Havana” by Camila Cabello and Young Thug, some Coldplay). They’re competing in cheering contests. And they’re antsy for the big moment when they’ll pull the triggers that set off a fusillade of confetti cannons.

This is definitely not what most companies do on quarterly earnings day. But the company hosting this bash is T-Mobile (tmus), the formerly downtrodden wireless carrier—where rebounding employee morale and rising revenue are almost inextricably linked. [Link to full article]


Former Comcast Employees Describe Sexual Harassment Allowed to Run Amok at Call Centers for Years

Bryce Covert, Kelly Stout, 02/22/18

From the first interview Rylinda Rhodes had for a dispatch position at a Comcast center in Washington, D.C., something seemed off to her. The manager “in so many words made it clear it wasn’t the most professional environment,” she said, recalling that they had just fired some managers. But Rhodes took it as a challenge, a way to prove herself at the company. Once she started the job, though, she quickly sensed that it was going to be a nightmare. “It was shell shock,” she recalled. “Profanity used on a regular basis.”

It wasn’t just words. Rhodes had one male coworker in particular who would walk around the center hugging women. Rhodes didn’t want to be hugged; she says that as a survivor of childhood sexual assault, “I like boundaries.” So she made a concerted effort to avoid him. But one evening she was on the phone with a customer when she saw him coming her way. When he gestured to get her to stand up she shook her head no. “So he grabbed my wrist and tried to pull me out of my seat,” she said. She pulled her wrist away. [Link to full article]

CenturyLink To Shutter OTT Bundle

Digital News Daily

by Alex Weprin , February 22, 2018

Telecom company CenturyLink is shutting down its CenturyLink Stream over-the-top video service. The company says that the OTT bundle will go offline at the end of March.

CenturyLink Stream was one of the players in the increasingly crowded OTT “skinny bundle” category, which has telecom companies like Dish and DirecTV and tech companies like YouTube, Hulu and FuboTV competing to offer bundles of cable channels delivered over the internet rather than direct to cable boxes.

CenturyLink’s product launched in beta in June 2017, with prices starting at $45 per month. The company never released subscriber figures for the service, which was available on a number of connected TV devices. [Link to full article]

Charter fails to defeat lawsuit alleging false Internet speed promises

Jon Brodkin, 02/16/18
Ars Technica

Charter Communications cannot use the federal net neutrality repeal to avoid a lawsuit over slow Internet speeds in New York, the state’s Supreme Court ruled today.

The lawsuit was filed by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against Charter and its Time Warner Cable (TWC) subsidiary in February 2017. Schneiderman alleges that the Internet provider “conduct[ed] a deliberate scheme to defraud and mislead New Yorkers by promising Internet service that they knew they could not deliver.”

Charter thought that the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality repeal would help it fight the lawsuit. In November, Charter argued in a court filing that its motion to dismiss the case was bolstered by the repeal because the FCC also preempted state-level regulation.

But the New York Supreme Court rejected that and other arguments made by Charter in today’s ruling, which denies Charter’s motion to dismiss Schneiderman’s complaint. (The NY Supreme Court is a trial-level court; New York’s highest state court is the Court of Appeals.) [Link to full article]


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