AT&T: What Connection Hijacking And New Data Plans Mean For The Stock

| About: AT&T Inc. (T)
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AT&T (NYSE:T), as well as at least 47 other carriers, were recently identified as having vulnerabilities that leave them open to hijacking.

The vulnerability that has been identified by computer scientists allows "attackers to surreptitiously hijack the Internet connections of smartphone users and inject malicious content into the traffic passing between them and trusted websites." This is not what we want form a mobile data carrier. We want to know that we are surfing the web on our phones easily and without any interference from an outside entity at all. The vulnerability is caused by a certain firewall that mobile carriers use. Essentially the weakness lies in the very method used by the carriers to protect your data.

If you are a victim of this form of sabotage, you could suddenly find that you have done things on Facebook or Twitter that you did not actually do. In addition, this can be used more seriously to direct you to a banking website that is not genuine. If this happens, the hacker may be able to gain access to your funds. The hijacker could also use this to send fake messages in apps such as Window Live Messenger from your account. The possibilities seem endless, and are certainly frightening.

This does not make me feel very safe about using AT&T's network on my mobile device. If a hacker can gain access to my activities and take control of them so easily, I may choose to switch to someone else. And I'm probably not the only one with this in mind. This news could have a huge and largely negative impact on AT&T stocks. The only way for the company to restore our faith is by creating a firewall that does not come with this weakness, or by putting another measure in place to counteract the effects of the firewall.

AT&T has released the new Samsung Focus 2, now available for purchase, which runs the OS Windows Phone Mango. The phone is available on contract for less than $50. As it extends support to the 4G LTE network, the phone provides relatively fast Internet access to those who opt to purchase it. The phone's many advantages and features, including an advanced ability to multitask, make it a product which I suspect will be extremely popular. Now that the phone is available at AT&T it will no doubt get off the ground very quickly indeed. I think that we can expect great things from this device.

AT&T and one of its main competitors, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), are in a race to see who can produce shared-data plans first. I expect that both companies will announce their final plans in this regard any day now. The reasons they are so hesitant is that there is a lot at stake. If they get it right, then the company that gets there first will make a lot of money and a larger customer base will be generated. However, if they get it wrong, the cost of the entire endeavor will skyrocket.

The basic idea is that soon companies such as these will introduce data plans that allow you to split the data over a number of devices on which you may need to use the internet. For example you will be able to use data from the same package to get internet access on your mobile, your iPad and your PC. This reflects the country's hanging needs and wishes for internet access in the current day and age, it is important that companies like these are willing to try and keep up with this change. Close attention should be paid to this situation by stockholders of both companies.

Another competitor, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), is on top of its game in terms of customer satisfaction. Once again the company finds itself at the top of the customer satisfaction rating this year. It has now held the title four years running, which is quite impressive when you consider that it worked itself up from the bottom spot. The company seems to have a good understanding of the fact that the image you portray to the customer is one of the best ways to keep their loyalty, and this plan is working. The company does have its shortcomings, but it knows how to keep your attention.

CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) has been in the news recently for attempting to gain exemption from a law in Idaho that was passed in 1993. According to the law companies such as this one must deal with outages in their service within 24 hours or else the customer will receive credits. This, the company claims, gives the competition an unfair advantage. Other companies not governed by the rule are making headway in broadband installation, while CenturyLink has to focus on repairing outages instead. A compromise was reached in which the outages have to be fixed within 48 hours and no credits will be awarded provided the company fixes 80% of the problems within the specified time frame. This should help CenturyLink stay focused in providing broadband, which works against AT&T and its U-Verse system.

Last but not least, Cablevision (NYSE:CVC) is in the news because it wants to create a system that is similar to that of the Xbox that is owned by Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). According to a job ad that the company posted, it is looking for an "executive to help it deliver video content to connected TVs and gaming consoles." If it get this off the ground it could be a serious competitor to companies like Microsoft and Verizon and even the cable provider side of AT&T, but it is important to note that it is a very late player in the game, so its new offering will have to be really amazing to get ahead.

If AT&T can right its securities, gain its consumers trust back and then introduce shared data plans, it stands to have a huge quarter. However, if one of these parts goes awry, especially in the data plans, the company may find itself reeling off into losses for a while.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.