NEW YORK (AP) — T-Mobile is phasing out data limits and pushing people toward unlimited data plans — which will mean higher prices for many new customers.
Although T-Mobile is cutting the price of the unlimited plan, those who haven’t been using that much data might eventually pay more for unlimited data they don’t need.
T-Mobile’s announcement Thursday comes a day after AT&T said it would raise prices on some plans while giving customers more data. Verizon made a similar move last month.
The wireless industry has become increasingly competitive over the past few years given that most people already have smartphones. Carriers have had to reduce prices to lure customers from rivals and have tried to make up the revenue by selling larger data plans.
T-Mobile has also tried to make its plans more appealing by letting many customers stream video from dozens of services including Netflix, ESPN and HBO without eating up data. Making all its plans unlimited is an extension of that, given that video is one of the biggest drains on data.
Starting Sept. 6, T-Mobile will cut the price of its unlimited plan and start phasing out plans that have data limits. There’s no date for when the older plans won’t be available — a new customer could still get them after Sept. 6 — but the new unlimited plan will eventually be T-Mobile’s “main offer,” spokeswoman Bethany Frey said.
Existing customers can keep their plans for now.
Unlimited isn’t really unlimited, though. Customers who use more than 26 gigabytes in a given month may have their speeds slowed if there is network congestion.
Those who already have an unlimited T-Mobile plan now could save with the new prices. For one person, the price is dropping to $70 from $95 a month for customers who don’t mind DVD-level video quality. Those who want high-definition video pay an extra $25 a month, or the same as what they pay now.
Families who have plans with six or 10 gigabytes a month per person — T-Mobile’s most popular plans now — could see their overall bills go up or down. With four people getting six gigabytes each, the price could rise $40, to $160; five people getting 10 gigabytes each would pay $10 less at $180. Individuals could pay $5 more or $10 less with the new option, depending on their current plan.
T-Mobile also currently has a 2 GB plan that costs $50 a month. The company suggested that customers who want to pay less than $70 for unlimited could switch to a prepaid service, in which monthly bills are paid ahead of time.
Following T-Mobile’s announcement, Sprint also said that it would cut the price of its unlimited plan — to $60 a month for individuals, from $75. The second line is now $40 extra instead of $45.
Unlimited plans used to be the norm. But as smartphones took off with the iPhone’s debut and later the popularity of Android, carriers eliminated them to address network congestion and increase revenue opportunities with higher data buckets.
There’s been a reversal. Sprint and T-Mobile have been pushing unlimited plans recently as ways to distinguish themselves from their larger rivals. AT&T reintroduced an unlimited plan in January for customers who also took DirecTV or its home-TV service U-verse. Verizon no longer offers them to new customers and has been trying to push older customers off such plans with rate hikes and other measures.
ISTANBUL (AP) — A Qatar Airways passenger jet with over 300 people on board made an emergency landing at Istanbul’s main airport Thursday after an engine caught fire, the airline said, blaming a “bird strike” for the blaze.
Video footage showed flames spitting out of the left engine of the Airbus 330 as it prepared to land at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. It made it safely to the ground.
Doha-based Qatar Airways later issued a statement to The Associated Press saying that “all 298 passengers and 14 crew disembarked normally.” However, local Turkish news agencies reported one woman on board was hospitalized after suffering a fainting spell.
It said it would send a replacement aircraft to Istanbul to ferry waiting passengers onward to its hub in the vast new Hamad International Airport in Doha, which is preparing to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The airline blamed the fire on Flight QR240 on what it described as a “bird strike,” without elaborating. Typically, such strikes can see birds sucked into a passenger plane’s jet engine, sparking a fire and shorting it out.
State-backed Qatar Airways is one of the Mideast’s three biggest carriers, alongside the region’s biggest carrier, the Dubai-based Emirates airline, and the Abu-Dhabi-based Etihad Airways. The three have increasingly challenged Western airlines in long-haul flights.
Qatar Airways has a fleet of 190 aircraft flying to over 150 destinations. It holds a 20.01-percent stake in British Airways and Iberia parent IAG and posted net profits of $445 million for the fiscal year ending March 31, with revenue peaking to $9.6 billion.
Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, and Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Ride-hailing service Uber says it will start hauling passengers with self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh in next several weeks.
The company says its autonomous Ford Fusions will have human backup drivers but will transport passengers just like normal Uber vehicles.
Uber has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh and is working on autonomous technology.
Also Thursday, Uber and Volvo announced a $300 million deal for Volvo to provide SUVs to Uber for autonomous vehicle research. Eventually the Volvo SUVs will be part of the self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh. Volvo will develop base vehicles for research and both companies will develop autonomous vehicles on their own.
The ride-hailing company also announced that it is acquiring a self-driving startup called Otto that has developed technology allowing big rigs to drive themselves.
The maneuvers are intended to significantly accelerate Uber into the quest to deploy self-driving vehicles to the public. It’s also the latest tie-up between Silicon Valley, ride-hailing firms and major automakers.
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said the ride-sharing company’s future — indeed, the future of all transportation — is driverless. The deals are a bold down payment on that vision, one characteristic of the ambitious Uber, a company valued in the billions.
With the acquisition of Otto, Uber gets a fast infusion of self-driving expertise, including Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski.
Self-driving technology is not ready for the masses. Hurdles include software that is not yet good enough for public rollout, safety concerns raised by state and federal regulators, and uncertainty over society’s readiness to trust robot drivers.
But the race is on. Large tech and auto companies suggest they could start selling self-driving cars within three to five years.
If history is any guide, that push will begin with high-end models that few people can afford. Uber’s vast on-demand auto fleet could presumably bring the technology to ordinary people more quickly.
Uber, however, isn’t alone in the race for autonomous vehicles. It’s not even a leader.
The company’s primary U.S. competitor, Lyft, received a $500 million investment from GM earlier this year. Those two companies said they plan to put self-driving vehicles into Lyft’s fleet on a small scale sometime in the next year. GM also bought itself some self-driving expertise in March with the acquisition of a company called Cruise Automation.
This week, Ford Motor Co. announced — in Silicon Valley, not Detroit — that it intends to have a self-driving vehicle on the road by 2021. The car will have neither a steering wheel nor pedals and will be rolled out for commercial ride-hailing services, not directly to consumers.
Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. is even further ahead in pursuing driverless cars that offer passengers little control beyond an emergency stop button. Google began testing its fleet of prototype self-driving cars on public roads in 2009.
Though the Google car project just lost its director, Chris Urmson, it has a big head start. Its leaders have suggested they could launch public pilot tests of cars with no steering wheels or pedals in the next year or two.
In the small but growing community of self-driving vehicle experts, Levandowski is a founding father. Putting robotic vehicles on the road has been his obsession. One earlier effort, a self-driving motorcycle named Ghostrider, is now in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Until the start of this year, Levandowski was at Google. He left to found Otto with two other former Google employees.
After outgrowing the leafy Palo Alto neighborhood where they worked on their first rigs, Levandowski moved his headquarters to San Francisco and came out of stealth mode by posting a video of a truck driving itself down a Nevada highway. An actor sitting at a table in the cab jots notes on a pad of paper.
Levandowski’s business proposition was straightforward. Big rigs spend most of their time on highways, making them a relatively easy problem to solve. Unlike bustling city streets, highways have well marked lanes, little or no cross traffic, and other features that make them far easier for a self-driving vehicle to navigate.
Indeed, Levandowski was commuting to work in a Google self-driving Prius several years ago.
CHICAGO (AP) — Jorge Soler has made the Chicago Cubs’ lineup deeper by going deep.
Soler, who hit a three-run home run to lead Chicago to a 6-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday night, has hit seven home runs in seven starts since coming off the disabled list in early August. He’s hitting .379 in 10 games over that stretch.
“When Jorge is in there it makes a deep, long lineup,” said Cubs catcher David Ross, who hit a solo home run as the Cubs won their third straight and 17th in 20 games.
“When he was out … the lineup was shortened, you know, once you get past a certain guy, it’s a little easier to navigate the lineup,” Ross said.
Hitting in the sixth spot, Soler sent Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson’s 2-2 pitch far over the wall in left-center field, depositing it just under the videoboard atop the stands.
The homer capped a five-run first inning after RBI singles by Ben Zobrist and Addison Russell.
That made for an easy night for Cubs starter Jon Lester (13-4), who got his fourth straight win, giving up one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings while striking out seven. He hasn’t lost since July 3.
“You get five runs after the bottom of the first, it kind of relaxes you, you don’t have to grind as much,” Lester said.
Lester and the rest of the Cubs starting pitchers have been magnificent, going 11-0 in August, with Chicago’s only two losses being hung on relievers. But Lester credited the offense for the starters’ success.
“It makes our lives as pitchers a lot easier when they’re consistent, and doing what they’ve been doing pretty much the whole year for us,” Lester said. “We just kind of go about our business after what they do.”
Nelson (6-13) walked leadoff batter Dexter Fowler then hit Kris Bryant with a pitch to begin the first. Then came Soler’s home run.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon said Soler has worked on staying patient since coming back from the DL.
“He’s really staying in the zone,” Maddon said.
Carl Edwards Jr. and Travis Wood combined for 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief for the Cubs.
Nelson is 1-10 over his last 14 starts.
Milwaukee rarely threatened Lester. The Brewers got a run in the sixth when Keon Broxton singled, then stole two bases before scoring on a groundout by Orlando Arcia. Milwaukee loaded the bases on two singles and a walk in the second inning, but Lester got Nelson to ground into an inning-ending forceout.
The loss was the fifth in six games for the Brewers.
“We’re having a tough go of it putting together offense,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “But there’s no breaks, no quit. We just keep going at it.”
LA STELLA RETURNS
Cubs INF Tommy La Stella will report to Double-A Tennessee, and Maddon said he hopes La Stella will be back with the big league team by early September. La Stella was optioned to Triple-A Iowa on July 29, but refused to report, and the Cubs placed him on the temporary inactive list on Aug. 9. La Stella reportedly said he was contemplating retirement. “He’s reported to Double-A, and moving on up to Triple-A, and he’ll be back here probably by the first of September,” Maddon said before the game. La Stella, 27, was hitting .295 in 51 games for the Cubs this season before the demotion.
Brewers: OF Ryan Braun is day-to-day after crashing into a wall at Wrigley Field on Tuesday. Braun injured his left knee and ankle and was out of the lineup Wednesday. Braun and Counsell said he might be ready to play Thursday in Chicago and is expected to play over the weekend in Seattle. … RHP Chase Anderson, who was hit in the left quadriceps by Bryant’s comebacker Tuesday, said he felt much better and would play light catch and evaluate from there. Counsell said Anderson might be well enough to start in the Brewers’ three-game series in Seattle.
Cubs: OF Chris Coghlan was placed on the 15-day DL on Wednesday with a right rib contusion. … RHP Joe Smith was placed on the 15-day DL with a left hamstring strain. The sidearm reliever said he didn’t feel right during his ninth-inning appearance on Tuesday, when he walked two of the three hitters he faced, and that it might be a recurrence of an injury from May.
The Cubs send RHP Jake Arrieta (14-5, 2.55) to the mound for the series finale on Thursday. RHP Zach Davies (9-5, 3.80) will pitch for the Brewers.
PARIS (AP) — The leak of what purports to be a National Security Agency hacking tool kit has set the information security world atwitter — and sent major companies rushing to update their defenses.
Experts across the world are still examining what amount to electronic lock picks. Here’s what they’ve found so far.
WHAT’S IN THE RELEASE?
The tool kit consists of a suite of malicious software intended to tamper with firewalls, the electronic defenses protecting computer networks. The rogue programs appear to date back to 2013 and have whimsical names like EXTRABACON or POLARSNEEZE. Three of them — JETPLOW, FEEDTROUGH and BANANAGLEE — have previously appeared in an NSA compendium of top secret cyber surveillance tools .
The auctioneers claim the tools were stolen from the Equation Group, the name given to a powerful collective of hackers exposed by antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab in 2015. Others have linked the Equation Group to the NSA’s hacking arm, although such claims are extraordinarily hard to settle with any certainty.
The leaked tools “share a strong connection” with the Equation Group, Kaspersky said in a blog post late Tuesday. The Moscow-based company said the two used “functionally identical” encryption techniques.
The leaked tools also appear to be powerful, according to a running analysis maintained by Richmond, Virginia-headquartered Risk Based Security. The group said several of the vulnerabilities targeted by the malware — including one affecting Cisco firewalls — were previously unknown, a sign of a sophisticated actor.
Security and networking companies scrambled to investigate the flaws exposed by the auction. Cisco Systems, Inc. issued an urgent update to its software late Wednesday. Fortinet, Inc., a Sunnyvale, California-based security company, also said it was investigating.
Nicholas Weaver, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, California, said that the news was terrible for the NSA no matter the circumstances behind the leak because companies like Cisco guard critical U.S. infrastructure.
“If the NSA discovered breach in 2013 and never told Cisco/Fortinet, this is VERY BAD,” he said in a message posted to Twitter . “If they didn’t know, this is VERY BAD.”
The NSA has not returned repeated messages seeking comment.
WHO IS BEHIND THE LEAK?
The documents have been leaked as part of a surreal online auction by a group calling itself “Shadow Brokers.” Their madcap, Borat-like manifesto rails against the “Wealthy Elite” and the group’s name appears to be a nod to the “Mass Effect” series of video games, where an elusive Shadow Broker traffics in sensitive information.
Few take the name or the manifesto at face value. Many have floated the possibility of Russian involvement, a theory that received unexpected support when NSA leaker Edward Snowden endorsed it on Twitter.
In a series of messages, Snowden wondered aloud whether the server the data was stolen from might be linked to a U.S. attempt to influence a foreign election. That would be a politically charged development in the context of recent allegations that Russia is trying to tamper with America’s presidential campaign.
The leak looks like a warning that any attempt to point the finger at Moscow over alleged electoral interference “could get messy fast,” Snowden tweeted. He did not return messages seeking further comment.
Comae Technologies founder Matt Suiche said the theory of a disgruntled insider couldn’t be ruled out.
In a blog post , Suiche said he’d been contacted by a former NSA analyst who pointed out that the tools leaked online normally resided on a segregated network and that the way they were named suggests the data was copied direct from the source. Suiche cautioned it was just a theory.
“We’ll never know,” he said in a message to AP.
Repeated emails and online messages seeking comment from the Shadow Brokers went unreturned.
HOW DOES THE AUCTION WORK?
Shadow Brokers have already published much of the data they claim to have. The rest — “the best files” — will be released, they claim, to whoever wins the auction.
The content of the files is secret, the group said in its announcement. So too is the length of the auction, which it said would end, in its signature broken English, “when we feel is time to end.”
Many dismiss the auction as a stunt.
Hopeful bidders have been invited to send bitcoins — the borderless electronic currency — but as of late Wednesday the address specified by the group had only gathered 1.72 bitcoins, or $981.
It’s more than pocket change. But the group’s stated goal is 1,000,000 bitcoins, or $570 million.
This story has been corrected to show the reference should be to a former NSA analyst, not a former NSA hacker.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Mr. Robot” is now a video game.
A fake messaging app inspired by the USA Network hacker drama was released Wednesday for mobile devices.
“Mr. Robot:1.51exfiltratiOn” casts players as a stranger who finds a mysterious smartphone and begins communicating with the show’s characters through an app published by the fictional E-Corp.
The game was developed by “Oxenfree” creators Night School Studio and published by Telltale Games . The app’s developers worked on “1.51exfiltratiOn” with “Mr. Robot” creator Sam Esmail and show writer Kor Adana.
“Working hand in hand with Sam, series writer Kor Adana and Universal Cable Productions, we’ve created an opportunity for players to meaningfully interact with characters like Elliot, Darlene and Cisco, truly feeling like they’re joining the hack at a critical moment in the TV series,” said Night School Studio co-founder Sean Krankel. “As fans, it’s nothing short of a dream come true for us.”
The developers say the game takes place over the course of a week.
The popular moody hacker series stars Rami Malek as anti-social computer programmer Elliot Alderson and Christian Slater as the cryptic Mr. Robot. The show is currently in its second season.