Submission + - Former FCC Broadband Panel Chair Arrested For Fraud (dslreports.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The former chair of a panel built by FCC boss Ajit Pai to advise the agency on broadband matters has been arrested for fraud. Elizabeth Ann Pierce, former CEO of Quintillion Networks, was appointed by Pai last April to chair the committee, but her tenure only lasted until September. Pierce resigned from her role as Quintillion CEO last August after investigators found she was engaged in a scam that tricked investors into pouring money into a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme. According to the Wall Street Journal, Pierce convinced two investment firms that the company had secured contracts for a high-speed fiber-optic system that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. She pitched the system as a way to improve Alaska's connectivity to the rest of the country, but the plan was largely a fabrication, law enforcement officials say. "As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks. “Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counterparty signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe." Quintillion says it began cooperating with lawmakers as soon as allegations against Pierce surfaced last year. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Submission + - selling full autonomy before it's ready could backfire for Tesla (arstechnica.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla has an Autopilot problem, and it goes far beyond the fallout from last month's deadly crash in Mountain View, California. Tesla charges $5,000 for Autopilot's lane-keeping and advanced cruise control features. On top of that, customers can pay $3,000 for what Tesla describes as "Full Self-Driving Capability." "All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go," Tesla's ordering page says. "Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts, and handle densely packed freeways with cars moving at high speed." None of these "full self-driving" capabilities are available yet. "Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction," the page says. "It is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval."

But the big reason full self-driving isn't available yet has nothing to do with "regulatory approval." The problem is that Tesla hasn't created the technology yet. Indeed, the company could be years away from completing work on it, and some experts doubt it will ever be possible to achieve full self-driving capabilities with the hardware installed on today's Tesla vehicles. "It's a vastly more difficult problem than most people realize," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research and a former auto industry engineer. Tesla has a history of pre-selling products based on optimistic delivery schedules. This approach has served the company pretty well in the past, as customers ultimately loved their cars once they ultimately showed up. But that strategy could backfire hugely when it comes to Autopilot.

Submission + - The U.S. Ban on ZTE Accelerates China Pursuit of Technology Independence. (bloomberg.com)

hackingbear writes: The Commerce Department imposed a seven-year ban on the company's purchases of key U.S. technology. ZTE halted trading of its shares in Shenzhen Tuesday as it prepares to explain itself to anyone who'll listen. The U.S. dominates the essential technologies that go into building China's communications networks, with Broadcom Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. all probably selling chips to ZTE which has helped create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. But all should be worried about Chinese President Xi Jinping's aggressive plan to make his country technology independent. Beijing has earmarked billions of dollars to develop semiconductor industry, which accounted for only 13% of its $104 billion chip market in 2016, to avoid the exact scenario playing out in Washington this week.

Submission + - Japan's Rare Earth Minerals Find Can Supply Global Demand for 700+ Years (cnn.com) 2

Notabadguy writes: Sixteen million tons of deep sea mud off Minamitori Island have concentrated amounts of rare earth minerals sufficient to supply rare earth mineral demand at current global demand for the next 700 years. More importantly, the find is wholly within Japan's territorial waters and economic control, making Japan poised to devastate China's iron-fisted control of 95% of the world's rare earth mineral supply.

Submission + - Amazon shelves plan to sell prescription drugs (cnbc.com) 1

Major Blud writes: CNBC is reporting that Amazon Business, which considered selling pharmaceutical products after considering it last year, has put it's plans to do so on hiatus.

The change in plan comes partly because Amazon has not been able to convince big hospitals to change their traditional purchasing process, which typically involves a number of middlemen and loyal relationships. Amazon was able to gain licensing in 47 out of the 50 U.S. states, but has struggles to land contracts with large hospital networks.

"The setback illustrates the challenges of getting into the medical supply and pharmaceutical space, even for a company as big as Amazon. Several health-care and pharmaceutical distribution companies saw their stock take a nosedive following recent reports of Amazon potentially getting into the space, but it will likely take some time before those concerns turn into real threats."

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