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The Internet

Tumblr To Introduce Ads Across All Blogs 44

Reader evelynlewis445 writes: Tumblr this week quietly announced plans to roll out a new advertising program across its site which will see it implementing ads across users' blogs. The company did not provide specific details on how the program will operate, but it appears to be an expansion of its earlier Creators program, which connects brands with Tumblr users directly, instead of having advertisers work with third-party influencer networks.The ads will begin appearing on the platform starting today. Tumblr remains one of the most popular blogging platforms, attracting over 550 million monthly users to its blogs. Tumblr creators will have an opportunity to share in the revenue from ads on their blogs. The company says that bloggers will have the ability to opt out of the program should they wish not to participate.
Yahoo!

Once Valued at $125B, Yahoo's Web Assets To Be Sold To Verizon For $4.83B, Companies Confirm 206

The reports were spot on. Verizon Communications on Monday announced that it plans to purchase Yahoo's Web assets for a sum of $4.83 billion in cash. The multi-billion dollars deal will get Verizon Yahoo's core internet business and some real estate. The announcement also marks a remarkable fall for the Silicon Valley web pioneer, which once had a market capitalization of more than $125 billion. For Verizon, the deal adds another piece to the mammoth digital media and advertising empire it owns. The deal is expected to close early 2017. CNBC reports: The transaction is seen boosting Verizon's AOL internet business, which the company acquired last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo's advertising technology tools, as well as other assets such as search, mail, messenger and real estate. It also marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it only as the owner of a 35.5 percent stake in Yahoo Japan, as well as its 15 percent interest in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba. In December, Yahoo scrapped plans to spin off its Alibaba stake after investors worried about whether that transaction could have been carried out on a tax-free basis. It instead decided to explore a sale of its core assets, spurred on by activist hedge fund Starboard Value. Forbes has called it one of the "saddest $5B deals in tech history."Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who was expected to leave -- or get fired -- said she intends to stay. "For me personally, I'm planning to stay," Mayer said in a note on Yahoo's Tumblr page. "I love Yahoo, and I believe in all of you. It's important to me to see Yahoo into its next chapter."
AT&T

FCC Calls On Phone Companies To Offer Free Robocall Blocking (fastcompany.com) 120

The FCC chairman on Friday pressed major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to develop technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge. Chairman Tom Wheeler, in letters to CEOs of Verizon Communications, AT&T, Sprint, US Cellular, Level 3 Communications, Frontier Communications, Bandwidth.com, and T-Mobile, said that so-called robocalls, automated pre-recorded telephone calls often from telemarketers or scam artists continue because the industry isn't taking any action. Wheeler demands answers with "concrete, actionable solutions to address these issues" within 30 days. A report on FastCompany adds: Wheeler also urged carriers to create a list of institutions like government agencies and banks that are commonly impersonated by scammers and filter out overseas callers impersonating them through falsified caller ID data
Yahoo!

Verizon Nears Deal to Acquire Yahoo (bloomberg.com) 70

Verizon Communications is nearing a deal to buy Yahoo, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the matter. While nothing is official yet, the publication claims that Verizon is discussing a price close to $5 billion for Yahoo's core Internet business. The report adds that Yahoo's patents are not part of the discussion, and it's unclear whether the two companies are considering Yahoo's real estate. "The companies may be ready to announce the deal in the coming days, the people said," the report adds. Interestingly, CNBC, citing its own sources, is independently reporting the same thing.
Verizon

Verizon To Disconnect Unlimited Data Customers Who Use Over 100GB/Month 421

Verizon Wireless customers who have an unlimited data plan and use significantly more than 100GB a month will soon be disconnected from the network unless they agree to move to limited data packages that require payment of overage fees. Ars Technica reports: Verizon stopped offering unlimited data to new smartphone customers a few years ago, but some customers have been able to hang on to the old plans instead of switching to ones with monthly data limits. Verizon has tried to convert the holdouts by raising the price $20 a month and occasionally throttling heavy users but stopped that practice after net neutrality rules took effect. Now Verizon is implementing a formal policy for disconnecting the heaviest users.In a statement, Verizon said: "Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a very small group of customers on unlimited plans who use an extraordinary amount of data that they must move to one of the new Verizon Plans by August 31, 2016." a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. "These users are using data amounts well in excess of our largest plan size (100GB). While the Verizon Plan at 100GB is designed to be shared across multiple users, each line receiving notification to move to the new Verizon Plan is using well in excess of that on a single device." FYI: The 100GB plan costs $450 a month.
Businesses

Verizon Begins Charging a Fee Just to Use an Older Router (dslreports.com) 180

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: Several users have written in to note that Verizon has informed them the company will begin charging FiOS customers with an older router a new "Router Maintenance Charge." An e-mail being sent to many Verizon FiOS customers says that the fee of $2.80 will soon be charged every month -- unless users pay Verizon to get a more recent iteration of its FiOS gateway and router. Since Verizon FiOS often uses a MOCA coax connection and the gateway is needed for Verizon TV, many FiOS users don't have the ability to swap out gear as easily as with other ISPs. "Our records indicate that you have an older model router that is being discontinued," states the e-mail. "If you do plan to keep using your current router, we will begin billing, on 9.29.16, a monthly Router Maintenance Charge of $2.80 (plus taxes), to ensure we deliver the best support."
Communications

White House Pledges $400M To Back Speedier 5G Wireless Networks (fortune.com) 86

The Obama Administration has announced a new funding initiative to ensure the United States maintains its leadership in the mobile technology space. For this, it will spend over $400 million on large-scale test platforms led by National Science Foundation with an aim to develop and advance wireless technology to 5G and beyond. Fortune reports: To be sure, the private sector has also been getting smarter and better organized for 5G this year and the new Obama effort will be conducted in conjunction with a bevy of technology and telecommunications partners. All four major wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon Communications, Sprint, and T-Mobile, are participating. Tech companies on board include Intel, Juniper Networks, Qualcomm, and Nokia. Notably, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are missing from the list. "These super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks will enable breakthrough applications for consumers, smart cities, and the Internet of Things that cannot even be imagined today," the White House said in a statement. The report adds: The transition to the next generation standard for wireless networks, so-called 5G, has so far been fraught with confusion, complications, and even some contradictions. But in a few years, when 5G gear sending data at up to 100 times the speed of current networks is commonplace, people may remember July 2016 as a major turning point. The private sector has offered mixed messages about when 5G will be available for regular people and just what it will be used for. Without many standards yet agreed upon, some predicted 5G would be ready starting next year, but others said not until 2020 or later. Some wanted to use it to speed up smartphone connections, while others said it was better suited to improve home and business Internet connections or to collect data from smart devices in the "Internet of Things."
Communications

Verizon Completes Its Radio Specs for 5G, Pushing Its Agenda For Global Standard Down the Line (cnet.com) 44

Roger Cheng, reporting for CNET: The reality of 5G, wireless connectivity that's faster than our speediest home internet service, is years away. But that isn't stopping Verizon from making its presence felt now. The nation's largest wireless carrier said Monday it has worked out the radio specifications for its 5G deployment with its vendor partners, providing a common blueprint for everyone regarding the network infrastructure, processors and devices. It's a significant step on the path to 5G. And by moving quickly now, Verizon hopes to set the agenda for how the standards look, a similar strategy it took with its 4G LTE deployment. Setting the specifications not only speeds the process for its own vendors, but may influence the international community when players around the world finally begin hammering out a global standard, expected in 2020. The Federal Communications Commission is also working to free up resources to drive 5G in the US. [...] Verizon said it will begin commercially deploying its service next year.
Verizon

Verizon To Hike Prices On Plans But Offer More Data (cnet.com) 145

Roger Cheng, reporting for CNET: Big changes are afoot at Verizon. The nation's largest wireless carrier is set to unveil changes to its plans that will make them more expensive, but will also include more data, according to someone familiar with the changes. The low-end "S" plan will go up by $5 to $35 a month, but will include 2 gigabytes of data, twice as much as before. The "M" plan will go up by $5 to $50 a month, while its data will rise from 3GB to 4GB. The "L" plan will go up by $10 to $70 a month, while data increases from 6GB to 8GB. The "XL" plan will go up by $10 to $90 a month, but you'll get 16GB, up from 12GB before. Lastly, the "XXL" plan will cost $10 more at $110 a month, but you will get 24GB instead of 18GB. The changes are part of a broader overhaul of its plans, which will also include a rollover data program called "Carryover Data," a new way to avoid overage fees, and better access to Canada and Mexico. The move reflects a heightened competitive environment, one in which smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint have begun winning away customers through aggressive offers. Many of these changes mimic offers already available at the other carriers.
Businesses

FCC Says TV Airwaves Being Sold For Wireless Use Are Worth $86.4 Billion (reuters.com) 72

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday the price of 126 MHz of television airwaves taken from broadcasters to be sold for wireless use in an ongoing auction is $86.4 billion. The FCC disclosed the price in a statement after completing the first part of an auction to repurpose low-frequency wireless spectrum relinquished by television broadcasters. The so-called "broadcast incentive" spectrum auction is one of the commission's most complex and ambitious to date. In this round, called a reverse auction, broadcasters competed to give up spectrum to the FCC for the lowest price. In the next stage, the forward auction, wireless and other companies will bid to buy the airwaves for the highest price. If wireless companies are unwilling to pay $86.4 billion, the FCC may have to hold another round of bidding by broadcasters and sell less spectrum than had been expected, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal points out that $86.4 billion is more than the market cap of T-Mobile and Spring combined. It's roughly double the amount raised in the last FCC auction, where ATT spent $18.2 billion and Verizon spent $10.4 billion. It's highly likely we'll see multiple rounds stretching into 2017 that will eventually match the supply with the demand.
Communications

Remember When You Could Call the Time? 171

An article on The Atlantic this week takes a stroll down the memory lane. It talks about phone services that people could call for knowing the time. The service, according to the article, was quite popular in 1980s. But many of them don't exist now. For instance, Verizon discontinued the line -- as well as its telephone weather service -- in 2011. But what's fascinating is that some of these services still exist, and are getting more traction than many of us would've imagined. From the article:"We get 3 million calls per year!" said Demetrios Matsakis, the chief scientist for time services at the Naval Observatory. "And there's an interesting sociology to it. They don't call as much on the weekend, and the absolute minimum time they call is Christmas. On big holidays, people don't care about the time. But we get a big flood of calls when we switch to Daylight [saving] time and back." As it turns out, people have been telephoning the time for generations. In the beginning, a telephone-based time service must have seemed like a natural extension of telegraph-based timekeeping -- but it would have been radical in its own way, too, because it represented a key shift to an on-demand service. In the 19th century, big railroad companies had used the telegraph to transmit the time to major railway stations. By the early 20th century, people could simply pick up the telephone and ask a human operator for the time.
AT&T

Net Neutrality Advocates To FCC: Put the Kibosh On Internet Freebies (cnet.com) 173

An anonymous reader cites a CNET report:Net neutrality advocates demand action. Representatives from Fight the Future, the Center for Media Justice and Free Press on Friday hand-delivered a 6-foot tall package containing 100,000 letters of complaint to the Federal Communications Commission. They ask the agency to take action against AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon for violating the agency's Open Internet order by offering so-called zero-rating service plans. While the practice offers some benefits to customers, critics say it violates the agency's Net neutrality principles, which requires all services on the internet be treated the same. They claim it puts smaller competitors at a disadvantage and highlights the fact that data caps are unnecessary. Carriers say they are simply experimenting with new business models that will make their service more affordable for consumers.
Privacy

The NSA Would Be Eliminated Under President Gary Johnson (thehill.com) 412

An anonymous reader writes: Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson says he'd sign an executive order eliminating America's National Security Agency if he wins the 2016 election. And he's also forcefully arguing that domestic surveillance of internet activity and phone calls in the United States is worse than in China. Johnson took issue with an interviewer at The Daily Beast who pointed out that China monitors political dissidents, saying "What do you call the NSA and the satellites that are trained on us and the fact that 110 million Verizon users are having everything we do on our cell phones being data-collected?"

Johnson also wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, replacing both income taxes and corporate taxes with a single federal consumption tax, and says he'd be willing to sign legislation eliminating the Department of Education, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Commerce, which he says fuels "crony capitalism". "I'll sign legislation to eliminate any federal agency that they present me with."

Johnson has also said that if he were elected President, he'd pardon Edward Snowden.
Communications

Tom Wheeler Defeats the Broadband Industry: Net Neutrality Wins In Court (bloomberg.com) 165

Andrew M Harris and Todd Shields, reporting for Bloomberg: The Federal Communications Commission won a major appeals court ruling supporting its efforts to prevent broadband Internet service providers from favoring some types of web traffic over others. The Washington-based court Tuesday denied challenges to the federal government's so-called net neutrality regulations, which were backed by President Barack Obama. The ruling hands a victory to those who champion the notion of an open internet where service providers are prevented from offering speedier lanes to content providers willing to pay for them. It's a defeat for challengers including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., which said the rule would discourage innovation and investment.FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, "Today's ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web, and it ensures the Internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth. After a decade of debate and legal battles, today's ruling affirms the Commission's ability to enforce the strongest possible internet protections -- both on fixed and mobile networks -- that will ensure the internet remains open, now and in the future."
Twitter

How Activist DeRay Mckesson's Twitter Account Was Hacked 86

Racial justice activist DeRay Mckesson became the most recent victim of a high-profile Twitter account hack. Mckesson this week started to endorse for Donald Trump and posted a self-defamatory tweet. Later he announced that his account was hacked. What's interesting about this hack was that Mckesson had two-factor authentication enabled on "all" of his accounts. Hackers apparently resorted to a much-sophisticated attack: Hacker or hackers were able to take over by convincing Verizon to reset his SIM. With the SIM reset, the person responsible was able to receive text messages intended for Mckesson and therefore bypass the two-factor authentication the activist used to keep his account secure.
Businesses

Yahoo Bidders Can't Even Agree On What They're Buying (recode.net) 46

It's been a while since Yahoo has been up for sale, but the interested companies are still struggling to figure out what parts of Yahoo are worth purchasing. "Being for sale is what Yahoo does for a living now," Kara Swisher reports. "This is a pretty basic deal with everyone trying to figure out the risk and reward here of taking over a clearly failing business," said one bidder quoted in the report. "Everyone has different criteria for what matters." Yahoo essentially has three things to offer, which come with their own set of problems. From the report: (1) Its core business that includes search, advertising and media assets, all of which are in decline and getting worse.
(2) Its patent portfolio that the company thinks is worth as much as $3 billion, but others peg at $1 billion.
(3) Its real estate, which the company is pegging at about $1 billion, while others put it at a much lower value.
It's also being reported that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will have to leave the company, regardless of whether it gets acquired or not. Some of the potential buyers include Verizon, which according to the report, isn't interested in getting Yahoo's patents. It is offering $3B to $3.5B all-cash. Several private equity firms, who are interested in getting hold of Yahoo-owned patents and real estate, are offering Yahoo a sum of $5 billion or more. "This deal is not one in which everyone's really enthusiastic, since there is a giant question of how quickly the business is deteriorating," said another bidder. "If you win, you might lose and vice versa."
Patents

Yahoo Preps Auction For 3,000 Patents Worth $1 Billion (arstechnica.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Wall Street Journal reports that bids are being accepted for nearly 3,000 Yahoo patents and pending applications. In April, Yahoo moved 2,659 patents into a patent-holding company called Excalibur IP LLC, which was seen as a first step toward a patent sale. "This represents a unique opportunity for companies operating in the Internet industry to acquire some of the most pioneering and foundational patents related to Web search and advertising," Yahoo said in a statement. Those invited to join the auction include "strategic buyers, private-equity firms, and investment firms focused on intellectual property," according to the Journal. Preliminary bids are due by the middle of this month, and the patents are expected to fetch more than $1 billion, according to "people familiar with the matter" who spoke to the Journal. Bloomberg, which also reported on the patent sale, said there was no official reserve price or bidding guidelines. Yesterday, Verizon submitted a $3 billion bid for Yahoo's core internet business. The sale will include 500 U.S. patents and more than 600 pending applications, but will not include the larger collection of patents going in the patent sale.
Businesses

Frontier Has No Plans For Data Caps As They're Not Necessary, Says CEO (consumerist.com) 91

An anonymous reader writes: Frontier's CEO Dan McCarthy has said at an investors conference that the company has no plans to institute data caps that squeeze overage fees from data-hungry customers, yet. "The nice part of technology and what has happened is that transport costs continue to decline," he explained. "We have not really started or have any intent about initiatives on usage based pricing," said McCarthy. "We want to make sure our products meet the needs of customers for what they want to do and it does not inhibit them or force them to make decisions on how they want to use the product." He did note that data caps could someday come into play: "There may be a time when usage-based pricing is the right solution for the market, but I really don't see that as a path the market is taking at this point in time." The gist of what McCarthy is saying as noted via Ars Technica is that data caps are a business decision, not a network necessity.
AT&T

No, Apple Won't Become a Wireless Carrier (fortune.com) 33

Don Reisinger, reporting for Fortune: Apple won't be competing with its carrier partners anytime soon. Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam during an interview on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook squashed rumors that his company is planning to eventually get into the cellular market to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon. "Our expertise doesn't extend to the network," Cook said. "We've worked with AT&T in the U.S., O2 in the U.K., as well as T-Mobile and Orange, and we expanded as we learned more. But generally, the things Apple likes to do, are things we can do globally. We don't have the network skill. We'll do some things along the way with e-SIMs along the way, but in general, I like the things carriers do."
The Almighty Buck

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer In Line For $55M Severance If Fired Within A Year Of Sale (nytimes.com) 181

whoever57 writes: A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Friday revealed that Yahoo's board has agreed to a $55 million severance package for Marissa Mayer if she loses her job within a year of a sale. That's a lot of money for a chief executive who hasn't been able to keep Yahoo's stock from falling. In 2015, the value of Yahoo's stock fell by 33%. Worth noting: most of the money from the severance package is composed of restricted stock units and options -- there's only $3 million in cold hard cash. Also, Yahoo revealed Mayer received a significant pay cut last year. Her "reported pay" was $36 million, but her "realized pay" is closer to $14 million.

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