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Economy Briefs: AT&T to introduce shared-data plans

NEW YORK — Following in Verizon’s footsteps, AT&T Inc. said Wednesday that it will introduce wireless plans that let subscribers connect as many as 10 phones or other devices.

Connected phones get unlimited calling and texting, and all devices get wireless data access. The devices tap into a limited pool of data usage, which gets renewed each month.

Verizon Inc. introduced its "Share Everything" plans June 28, replacing nearly all of its traditional phone plans.

AT&T says its "Mobile Share" plans will debut in late August, but it is keeping its current individual and family plans.

AT&T’s prices will track closely with those of Verizon. One smartphone with 1 gigabyte of data will cost $85 per month with AT&T, compared with $90 with Verizon. Two smartphones and a tablet computer with 6 gigabytes of shared data will cost $170 on either carrier.

AT&T is the country’s second-largest cellphone company, behind Verizon. AT&T has 76.8 million direct wireless customers, and millions more through wholesale arrangements.

AT&T’s and Verizon’s shared-data plans are intended to stimulate the adoption of nonphone devices such as tablet computers and USB modems for laptops by making monthly service cheaper.

ECONOMY

Fed survey: Growth, hiring slowed in parts of U.S.

A Federal Reserve survey finds the U.S. economy expanded modestly in June and early July, but growth and hiring slowed in several parts of the country.

The report says three of the Fed’s 12 banking districts — New York, Philadelphia and Cleveland — reported weaker growth while a fourth — Richmond — said economic activity was mixed.

From mid-April through May, the Fed said growth picked up in 10 districts.

The survey also says hiring was "tepid" in most districts; retail sales slowed in Boston, Cleveland and New York, and manufacturing weakened in most regions. All 12 districts reported gains in housing.

The report will form the basis of the Fed’s next meeting July 31 and Aug. 1.

INTERIOR

BP pays $5 million for false production reports

DENVER — BP America Inc. has paid a $5 million civil penalty for submitting false, inaccurate or misleading reports for energy production on Southern Ute Indian tribal lands in southwestern Colorado.

The U.S. Department of the Interior says BP America initially requested a hearing on the civil penalty but decided to pay up instead.

The agency says auditors found that BP used incorrect royalty rates and prices for royalty payments.  

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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