Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–October 13, 2014

AT&T Pays $105 Million for ‘Cramming’ Phone Charges
AT&T will pay $105 million to federal and state authorities to settle charges that the carrier placed unauthorized charges for third-party services on customers’ mobile phone bills, the Federal Trade Commission has announced. Over about five years beginning in 2009, the carrier billed customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in subscriptions and premium text-messaging services, many of which were not authorized by consumers in a practice called “cramming.” Story by Mike Snider for USA Today.

Study Shows Millennials Addicted To Their Smartphones
Millennials are hooked on smartphone technology-we can see it every day at restaurants, in traffic and nearly everywhere we look. A new study by Zogby Analytics brings to light just how intense this obsession is, and the results are astounding. According to the study, 87% of millennials say their phones never leave their side. 78% of millennials spend more than two hours a day using their smartphones, and 80% say the first thing they do in the morning is reach for their smartphones. One of the biggest features millennials love about their phones is the camera, which they use for more than just taking selfies. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

The U.S. Town With No Cell Phones or Wi-Fi
Pocahontas County in West Virginia falls within the National Radio Quiet Zone. It’s home to quiet country living, friendly people, and one of the most impressive engineering marvels in the world–the Green Bank Telescope. The GBT measures radio waves from throughout the universe, but due to the telescope’s extreme sensitivity, any operating wireless device can have a negative effect on its observations. But to the people who live in the NRQZ, the restrictions and the quiet, peaceful life that comes with them are welcome. Story in National Geographic.

FAA, Flight Attendants Square Off Over Electronics
The nation’s largest flight attendants union says it wants airline passengers to return to stowing cellphones and other electronics during takeoffs and landings, but the group’s arguments didn’t seem to fly Friday in court. A lawyer for the union argued before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that aviation officials acted improperly last year in clearing passengers to use small electronics during takeoffs and landings. The union says the devices can distract passengers from safety announcements and become dangerous projectiles. The union also says that in letting passengers keep the devices out, the Federal Aviation Administration changed an agency regulation without steps required by law. But the judges hearing the case suggested they won’t be prying portable electronics out of passengers’ hands. Story by Jessica Gresko for the Associated Press.

Wireless Taxes Far Above General Sales Tax
Wireless telephone service taxes and fees have continued to remain high in 2014, at an average rate of 17.05%-more than double the average rate of general sales tax-according to a report from the Washington D.C.-based think tank, the Tax Foundation. Of that 17.05 percent, 5.82 percent comprises the federal rate, and an average 11.23 percent makes up state-local tax rates. Consumers in seven states-Washington, Nebraska, New York, Florida, Illinois, Rhode Island, and Missouri-pay wireless taxes and fees in excess of 20 percent of their bills. Story by Sean McCabe for Accounting Today.

Americans Spend Less on Food, More on Technology
The nationwide survey, with margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent, found the top way to save for technology, chosen by about a third, is to cut back on traditional entertainment such as movies and restaurants. But 20 percent report cutting back on clothing, 11 percent purchase less food and 10 percent have reduced spending on health care. When it comes to which technology is the most important, Americans clearly choose the cellphone. Asked which bills they definitely would pay if they ran into hard times, 39 percent said they would make sure to get a check in the mail for their cellphones, compared with 28 percent for Internet services and 20 percent for pay television, such as satellite or cable. But just 46 percent felt totally committed to paying their credit card bills, just five points above the response for paying for cellphone bills. Story by Steve Liesman for CNBC.

Efficiency Rules Target Power Cords for Cellphones, Laptops
The Department of Energy is considering new efficiency standards for fast-charging power cords used for consumer electronics like cellphones and laptops. Proposed rules published in the Federal Register would update the test procedures for such external power supplies to measure their standby and active-mode efficiency. Story by Tim Devaney for The Hill.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.