Apple, AT&T under attack for charge-to-quit service

first_imgWASHINGTON – The Apple iPhone has enjoyed favorable reviews since its recent debut, but it came in for some rare criticism on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. The phones, which Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple Inc. debuted late last month for up to $600, are usable only on AT&T Inc.’s wireless network and will remain that way until 2012. Even though the phones become expensive paperweights if customers quit AT&T’s wireless plan, the company will still charge a $175 early termination fee, said Rep. Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., chairman of a House subcommittee on telecommunications and the Internet. It is a “Hotel California” service – “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave,” said Markey, referring to the late-1970s song. “You’re stuck with your iPhone, and you can’t take it anywhere.” The issue arose at a hearing on whether Congress should grant the industry’s wish and pre-empt states from regulating wireless phone companies. State public utility commissions have no authority over pricing on wireless plans, but they have the authority to regulate the terms and conditions of wireless service agreements. Verizon Wireless general counsel Steven Zipperstein said the wireless industry opposes “patchwork, utility-style regulation” as “unnecessary and harmful.” Verizon wants a national framework for wireless oversight that would take authority away from state utility commissions while still allowing state attorneys general to protect against unfair and deceptive industry practices. Tony Clark, a North Dakota public utility commissioner and chairman of the telecommunications committee of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said the states should be allowed to maintain their enforcement authority. “The bottom line is that state regulators are seeking a middle ground that relies on each level of government doing what it does best: the federal government setting standards that apply to all, and the states enforcing those rules and tailoring them to specific emerging issues,” he said. Timothy Wu, a law professor at Columbia University and commentator on technology issues, described the industry as a “spectrum-based oligopoly” in which customers must give up their property rights. “Imagine buying a television that stopped working if you decided to switch to satellite – or a toaster that died if you switched from Potomac Power to ConEd,” Wu said. The Federal Communications Commission is considering rules that would dictate the use of a valuable swath of spectrum to be auctioned in the next six months. Among the proposals is a requirement to make one block of airwaves in the spectrum accessible to all wireless devices, which would include the iPhone.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Europe is Neville’s last chance to save a dismal season at Valencia

first_imgThe only hope now is to look to Europe, something that is of huge importance to Valencia. Their previous success in international competitions is an immense source of pride, with part of the Mestalla’s decoration dedicated to highlighting their UEFA Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup wins, and the club museum giving pride of place to those trophies as well as other European honours. Losing out on playing in the Champions or Europa League next season will hurt supporters immensely therefore, and reflect pretty badly upon their coach.Yet Neville also has an opportunity to use Europe to his advantage. Incredibly, despite their largely abysmal performances, Valencia still have a trophy left to play for this season, their Europa League last 16 tie against Athletic Club hanging by a slender one goal margin in the Basques’ favour. Turn it around and eliminate a fellow La Liga team to reach the quarter-finals, and the English coach could start to win back his team’s supporters, a famously vocal bunch who can either make or break a manager. When Valencia unveiled Gary Neville as their next head coach in the autumn of last year many observers feared for the worst, scepticism over how useful someone with no experience of management would be at an incredibly demanding club in a difficult moment. Unfortunately for Neville, it looks like the sceptics were right. The Englishman has lost almost half of his league games in charge of Los Che, and increasingly looks to be captaining a sinking ship.A string of three wins between February 13th and March 2nd suggested there may be some home for a domestic turnaround, but it was a false dawn. Valencia went on to lose twice in a row, and while being outclassed by Atletico Madrid was no surprise, the subsequent loss was much more damning. On March 13th, Levante won the Valencia derby 1-0, and more embarrassingly still, the team at the bottom of the La Liga table outclassed their city rivals. Thirteen points beneath the nearest European spot, the best Neville can now do in La Liga is to try and provide the lesser of various disappointments. The Bury native has a huge chance to change his situation, and in truth, it is probably a much bigger chance than he or his players deserve. Valencia were clearly bettered by Athletic in the first leg of their European tie, the difference in coaching ability between the two hopefuls particularly clear. At the San Mames, the visitors failed to get to grips with a difficult surface, barely stringing two or three passes together in succession and spending most of the game on the back foot as a result. Ernesto Valverde’s men, by contrast, were clearly instructed to keep the ball off the ground as much as they could, maximising the use of aerial outlets Raul Garcia and Aritz Aduriz. When that wasn’t possible, they took short touches to minimise the chances of being caught out by the unpredictable movement of the ball on the muddy field, all signs of detailed and well planned coaching. Los Leones dominated the game, bulldozing their tactically inferior opponents.Thankfully for Neville, mother nature intervened and saved his skin. Athletic were looking more and more likely to score a second goal when the heavens opened, the infamous Bilbao rain obliterating what remained of the San Mames grass and reducing the match to kick and rush.With the local climate not known for its kindness, Athletic are used to unfavourable conditions, but even they couldn’t cope with this kind of downpour, and what had at one stage looked destined to become a route eventually ended in a 1-0 win.Fortune dealt Valencia a favourable hand, the kind of gift their coach can’t afford to waste. Athletic are a quality side — certainly the better of the two — but the beauty of knockout football is that a 1-0 lead in a two-legged tie never provides certainty. Valverde’s team could have an off night on Thursday. Whether they do or not, Neville needs his team to have a good night, more than ever.It seems an age ago now, but it is perhaps worth remembering that Valencia took a 2-2 draw from Real Madrid at the Mestalla last January. They are capable of taking a win from Athletic, therefore.Sealing progression to the quarter-final of the Europa League through whatever means necessary and Neville would achieve the biggest result of his tenure. It could even be the start of saving his tenure.last_img read more