Verizon

Verizon's Mobile Video Won't Count Against Data Caps -- but Netflix Will (arstechnica.com) 101

Earthquake Retrofit writes: Ars Technica has a story about how Verizon Wireless is testing the limits of the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules; Verizon has announced that it will exempt its own video service from mobile data caps—while counting data from competitors such as YouTube and Netflix against customers' caps.
Facebook

Top Telcos Join Facebook Open Source Hardware Project (thestack.com) 18

An anonymous reader sends word about the latest telcos to join Facebook's Open Compute Project. The Stack reports: "A new wave of communications companies has joined Facebook's non-profit Open Compute Project (OCP), including AT&T, Verizon, Deutsche Telekom and South Korea's SK Telecom, as the movement seeks to share innovative hardware designs and drive down costs in the telecom arena. An OCP sub-section focused entirely on telecom requirements has been set up to look into servers and networking efficiency in the field. As one of the largest hardware buyers, telcos will provide a significant new market for the project, alongside its successful data center efforts.
Wireless Networking

Verizon Vows To Build the First 5G Network In the US (networkworld.com) 103

alphadogg writes: Verizon says it will have the first 5G network in the U.S., a promise it probably can't fulfill until 2020 but will start working at this year. Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo made the pledge Thursday on the company's fourth-quarter financial results call. He also repeated the company's plans for so-called 5G trials this year.
Security

Teen Hacks US Intelligence Chief's Personal Accounts (vice.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, has now joined the CIA's John Brennan in having his personal online accounts hacked. A teenage hacker known as 'Cracka' has claimed responsibility for the hack, reporting that he had infiltrated Clapper's home telephone, online accounts and his personal email, as well as his wife's Yahoo account. Cracka had managed to change the settings on Clapper's Verizon Fios account so that any calls to his home number were redirected to the Free Palestine Movement group in California.
Verizon

Verizon Accused of Helping Spammers By Routing Millions of Stolen IP Addresses (spamhaus.org) 120

An anonymous reader writes: Spamhaus, an international non-profit organization that hunts down spammers, is accusing Verizon of indifference and facilitation of cybercrime because it failed for the past six months to take down stolen IP routes hosted on its network from where spam emails originated. Spamhaus detected over 4 million IP addresses, mainly stolen from China and Korea, and routed on Verizon's servers with forged paperwork. Spamhaus says, "For a start, it seems very strange that a large US-based ISP can be so easily convinced by abusers to route huge IP address blocks assigned to entities in the Asian-Pacific area. Such blocks are not something that can go unnoticed in the noise of everyday activity. They are very anomalous, and should call for an immediate accurate verification of the customer. Internal vetting processes at large ISPs should easily catch situations so far from normality."
Verizon

Verizon Launches Auction To Sell Data Centers (reuters.com) 39

operator_error writes: Verizon has now chosen to reverse "its strategy to expand in hosting and colocation services after it acquired data center operator Terremark Worldwide Inc in 2011 for $1.4 billion", and has "started a process to sell its data center assets". The so-called 'colocation' portfolio up for sale includes 48 data centers, and generates annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of around $275 million. The enterprise telecommunications industry has had to adapt in recent years to corporate customers seeking more sophisticated and cheaper offerings to manage their data. Verizon joins a host of its rivals in telecommunications who are shedding their data centers.
HP

HP's Spectre X2 Is a Solid Core M Powered Surface Pro Alternative For Less (hothardware.com) 93

MojoKid writes: Now that we're a few years removed from the introduction of the original Surface and Surface Pro, it's clear that Microsoft's vision had merit, and virtually all of the company's major OEM partners are producing at least a few machines that were influenced by Microsoft's design. HP's new Spectre X2 hybrid is as similar a machine to the Surface Pro 4 that we have seen to date. Its form factor, detachable keyboard design, kickstand and overall look at feel of the machine are very "Surface-like". But HP has made some well thought-out changes and packed the machine with different hardware. The end result is rather interesting, somewhat better experience in some respects, for a lower price point. The model tested here features a Core m7-6Y75 dual-core / quad-thread processor with a base frequency of 1.2Hz and a max Turbo frequency of 3.1 GHz. Its on-processor HD 515 graphics can Turbo up to 1GHz and feature all of Intel's latest graphics tech, like Quick Sync, InTru 3D, etc. Other specs include 8GB of LPDDR3 memory, a 256GB Lite-On SSD, a 12" WUXGA screen, 802.11ac WiFi / Bluetooth and Verizon LTE support, a various IO including a built-in card reader and USB type C. The machine's detachable keyboard is held in place by magnets, similar to Microsoft's method. However, the Spectre X2's keyboard is quite similar to a full laptop keyboard. It's arguably superior to Microsoft's Type Cover, both aesthetically and functionally. Power users looking for a high-performance mobile device for heavy-duty workloads would probably be better served by something powered by a Core i5 or i7-series processor, but for the majority of users out there, the Core m at the heart of this machine should pack more than enough punch.
Verizon

Verizon Offering $650 To Switch To Their Network (pcmag.com) 83

An anonymous reader writes: Verizon is offering up to $650 to customers who switch to their network. PC Mag reports: "To get the discount, you'll need to port your number to Verizon, trade in your current device, and buy a new 4G LTE smartphone. Verizon will give you up to $650 on a prepaid card to cover the installment plan balance, minus the device trade-in value, or up to a $350 via a prepaid card to cover your old carrier's early termination fees (minus the device trade-in value). Your existing phone needs to be in 'good working condition,' and you have to keep your new Verizon line active for at least six months."
Verizon

Verizon Creates Minecraft Mod To Let Players Video Chat On an In-Game Smartphone 36

Deathspawner writes: There's never a lack of stuff to be impressed by in Minecraft, but rarely does that impressive stuff involve a corporation. Recently, Verizon teamed up with some prolific Minecraft streamers to design a mod that takes interactivity to a new level. After building an in-game smartphone and cellular tower, the gamer is not only able to browse the Web on the device, but also video call, all in a humorously low resolution. Verizon has created a GitHub page to explain how the magic is done.
Businesses

Why Free Services From Telecoms Can Be a Problem On the Internet 89

HughPickens.com writes: T-Mobile said last week that it would let customers watch as many movies as they wanted on services like Netflix and HBO as well as all other kinds of video, without having it count against their monthly data plans. But the NYT editorializes that there are real concerns about whether such promotions could give telecommunications companies the ability to influence what services people use on the Internet, benefiting some businesses and hurting others. Earlier this year, the FCC adopted net neutrality rules to make sure that companies like T-Mobile, Verizon and Comcast did not seek to push users toward some types of Internet services or content — like video — and not others. The rules, which telecom companies are trying to overturn in court, forbid phone and cable companies to accept money from Internet businesses like Amazon to deliver their videos to customers ahead of data from other companies. The rules, however, do not explicitly prevent telecom companies from coming up with "zero rating" plans like the one T-Mobile announced that use them treat, or rate, some content as free.

"Everybody likes free stuff, but the problem with such plans is that they allow phone and cable companies to steer their users to certain types of content. As a result, customers are less likely to visit websites that are not part of the free package." T-Mobile has said that its zero-rating plan, called Binge On, is good for consumers and for Internet businesses because it does not charge companies to be part of its free service. "Binge On is certainly better than plans in which websites pay telecom companies to be included," concludes The Times. "But it is not yet clear whether these free plans will inappropriately distort how consumers use the Internet."
The Internet

No Such Thing As 'Unlimited' Data (wired.com) 622

An anonymous reader writes: According to an article at Wired, the era of 'unlimited' data services is coming to an end. Carriers don't give them out anymore unless they're hobbled, and they're even increasing the prices of grandfathered plans. Comcast's data caps are spreading, and Time Warner has been testing them for years as well. It's not even just about internet access — Microsoft recently decided to eliminate its unlimited cloud storage plan. The big question now is: were these companies cynical, or just naive? We have no way of evaluating their claims that a small number of users who abused the system caused it to be unprofitable for them. (A recent leaked memo from Comcast suggests it's about extracting more money, rather than network congestion.) But it's certainly true that limited plans make costs and revenue much easier to predict. Another question: were we, as consumers, naive in expecting these plans to last? As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Unlimited data plans clearly won't work too well if everybody uses huge amounts. So did we let ourselves get suckered by clever marketing?
Television

Coming Set-top Box Mandate May Help Break Pay TV Firms' Hold Over Viewers (latimes.com) 153

Joe_Dragon sends a report from the LA Times about proposed regulations that could disrupt the cable industry's hold on consumers by targeting set-top boxes. These boxes are required to view most pay-TV programming these days, and consumers often require multiples if they have more than one TV. The rental fees add up to almost $20 billion in revenue for the industry each year. Yet the technology within these boxes is nothing special, and alternatives could easily arise if there was incentive to create them. "The changes aren't coming fast enough for some lawmakers and consumer advocates as well as tech companies such as Google Inc., which are eager to jump into the set-top box market. They want the Federal Communications Commission to require that pay TV providers make their services more easily compatible with third-party set-top boxes or similar devices. ... Such a mandate could allow consumers to access their pay TV and streaming services through one device instead of having to switch between two or more. And it could lead to innovations such as an ability to search for programming across services to determine, for example, whether a movie is available on Netflix or on-demand via a pay TV provider."
Privacy

Carriers Selling Your Data: a $24 Billion Business (adage.com) 125

An anonymous reader writes: It goes without saying that cellphone carriers have access to tons of data about their subscribers. They have data about who you call, what sites you visit, and even where you're located. Now: "Under the radar, Verizon, Sprint, and other carriers have partnered with firms including SAP to manage and sell data." The article describes some of the ways this data is used by marketers: "The service also combines data from telcos with other information, telling businesses whether shoppers are checking out competitor prices on their phones or just emailing friends. It can tell them the age ranges and genders of people who visited a store location between 10 a.m. and noon, and link location and demographic data with shoppers' web browsing history. Retailers might use the information to arrange store displays to appeal to certain customer segments at different times of the day, or to help determine where to open new locations." Analysts estimate this fledgling industry to be worth about $24 billion to the carriers, and they project huge growth over the next several years. The carriers are trying to keep it a tightly held secret after seeing the backlash from the public in response to government snooping, which involves much less private data.
The Internet

NY To Probe Broadband Providers Over Internet Speeds (reuters.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes with a report from The Stack that New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman has begun a probe into the state's three dominant ISPs to assess whether they are actually delivering the service they advertise at the levels promised. From the article: According to leaked documents, sent to Verizon Communications, Cablevision Systems and Time Warner Cable, the New York attorney general asked each firm to hand over copies of the advertising and copy they have provided to consumers regarding internet speeds, along with any testing documents which studied the speed of their service. ... The probe plans to focus on the exchange of data through contractual partnerships between the ISPs and other networks. The AG office suspects that customers who are paying a premium fee for higher internet speeds could be experiencing a disruption to their service due to technical issues brought about by business disputes in these interconnection deals.
Advertising

Sprint Will Start Throttling Customers Who Exceed 23GB Monthly (sprint.com) 153

CNET reports (and CTO John Saw explains on the company's blog) that Sprint has decided to taper access to a slice of its "unlimited" wireless data customers, by throttling access (not curtailing it, at least) to those who slurp down more than 23 gigabytes per month -- the same cap that T-Mobile has imposed. If you think "throttled" and "unlimited" don't quite jibe to describe the same service, you're not the only one to quibble: CNET notes that regulators have "begun scrutinizing the carriers' practice [of slowing access past a cap]. In June, the Federal Communications Commission threatened to fine AT&T $100 million for deceiving its customers by mislabeling its service as unlimited. The FCC also challenged Verizon when the company planned to expand its data throttling policy to its 4G customers. The company retracted that policy last fall. In June, Verizon also stopped slowing unlimited-data traffic for 3G customers."
Verizon

Verizon Boosts Price of Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans By $20 (theverge.com) 176

nicholasjay writes: In November, Verizon Wireless is going to start charging its customers with the grandfathered "unlimited data" plans an extra $20 for the data. This is obviously an attempt to get people off of the old unlimited data plans. Even though a Verizon spokesperson confirmed the change, I'm hoping they won't go through with this plan — but right now I'm weighing all my options.
Verizon

Verizon Is Merging Its Cellphone Tracking Supercookie with AOL's Ad Tracking Network 100

schwit1 writes: ProPublica reports that Verizon is giving a new mission to its controversial hidden identifier that tracks users of mobile devices. Verizon said in a little-noticed announcement that it will soon begin sharing the profiles with AOL's ad network, which in turn monitors users across a large swath of the Internet. That means AOL's ad network will be able to match millions of Internet users to their real-world details gathered by Verizon, including — "your gender, age range and interests." AOL's network is on 40 percent of websites, including on ProPublica.
Businesses

Sprint To Begin Layoffs, Cut $2.5 Billion In Expenses 55

An anonymous reader writes: Sprint's struggles to remain a major carrier continue. Just a few days after announcing that it is dropping out of a major low-band spectrum auction, the company now says it must cut between $2 billion and $2.5 billion in costs over the next six months. The cuts will need to be aggressive — according to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled), Sprint "had $7.5 billion in operating expenses during the three months ended June 30," even as it cut $1.5 billion over the past year. The only good news for Sprint is that its subscriber base is still slowly growing, though not quickly enough to keep pace with T-Mobile, let alone Verizon or AT&T.

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