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Posts Tagged ‘FCC’

Do you get what you pay for buying broadband?

Monday, February 18th, 2013

mobile devicesYou’re probably getting at least very close to the broadband speeds your provider advertises, according to a study by the Federal Communications Commission. It found that ISPs are providing 97 percent of advertised speeds during peak hours.

That’s a slight improvement from previous FCC reports.

Cablevision, Comcast, Mediacom and Verizon’s fiber services all met or exceeded their advertised speeds in the FCC test.

Winstream was the worst performer studied, delivering only around 81 percent of advertised download speeds at peak hours.

T&T, Centurylink, Frontier, Insight, Qwest and Verizon DSL delivered better than 80 percent of their advertised speeds, the report says.

“Faster broadband has brought untold benefits to millions of Americans — from distance learning to distance healthcare,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. “This is good news for consumers and the economy, but we can’t be satisfied. To unleash innovation and realize broadband’s full potential, we must continue to see increases in broadband speed and capacity.”

 

Americans want Wifi on flights, but they don’t want to pay for it

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Airline JetAmericans want to stay connected wirelessly when they fly, but most don’t want to pay for it, according to a new consumer survey from Fly.com, an airfare search engine.

The survey of 500 US travelers this summer found that 80 percent want to connect to the Internet during flights and 66 percent want the option to talk on their cell phone.

But nearly half, 49 percent, do not want to pay a penny for WiFi service while flying and 27 percent said they won’t pay more than $5.

Although more than half, 55 percent, expressed concerns about the safety of using their cell phones during a flight, nearly a third, 32 percent, admitted they broke the FCC cell phone ban and intentionally or unintentionally left a cell phone on during a flight.

It is not clear that cell phones or other electronic devices actually pose any risk during flights.

In 2011, ABC News reported that the  “International Air Transport Association, a trade group representing more 230 passenger and cargo airlines worldwide, documents 75 separate incidents of possible electronic interference that airline pilots and other crew members believed were linked to mobile phones and other electronic devices.”

Grant Cardone, though, wrote over at Wired this year that “Cellphones on planes are not a safety threat.”

 

FCC raises privacy concerns over mobile apps for children

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Touch Screen PhonesThe Federal Trade Commission today issued a staff report showing  that neither app stores nor app developers provide the information parents need to determine what data is being collected from their children, how it is being shared, or who will have access to it.

“At the FTC, one of our highest priorities is protecting children’s privacy, and parents deserve the tools to help them do that,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

Kids app ecosystem needs a wake-up call

“Companies that operate in the mobile marketplace provide great benefits, but they must step up to the plate and provide easily accessible, basic information, so that parents can make informed decisions about the apps their kids use.  Right now, it is almost impossible to figure out which apps collect data and what they do with it.  The kids app ecosystem needs to wake up, and we want to work collaboratively with industry to help ensure parents have the information they need.”

According to the FTC report, Mobile Apps for Kids: Current Privacy Disclosures are Disappointing, in 2008, smartphone users could choose from about 600 available apps.  Today there are more than 500,000 apps in the Apple App Store and 380,000 in the Android Market.  “Consumers have downloaded these apps more than 28 billion times, and young children and teens are increasingly embracing smartphone technology for entertainment and educational purposes.”

The report says the survey focused on the largest stores, the Apple App Store and the Android Market, and evaluated the types of apps offered to children, the disclosures provided to users, interactive features such as connectivity with social media, and the ratings and parental controls offered for such apps.

Lack of information available

The report notes that mobile apps can capture a broad range of user information from a mobile device automatically, including the user’s precise geolocation, phone number, list of contacts, call logs, unique identifiers, and other information stored on the device.

At the same time, “the report highlights the lack of information available to parents prior to downloading mobile apps for their children, and calls on industry to provide greater transparency about their data practices.”

While there was a diverse pool of kids apps created by hundreds of different developers, there was almost no information about the data collection and sharing on the Apple App store promotion pages and little information beyond general permission statements on the Android Market promotion pages.

“In most instances, staff was unable to determine from the information on the app store page or the developer’s landing page whether an app collected any data, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose for such collection, and who … obtained access to such data.”

The report recommends:

  • All members of the “kids app ecosystem” – the stores, developers and third parties providing services –  should play an active role in providing key information to parents.
  • App developers should provide data practices information in simple and short disclosures.  They also should disclose whether the app connects with social media, and whether it contains ads.  Third parties that collect data also should disclose their privacy practices.
  • App stores also should take responsibility for ensuring that parents have basic information.  “As gatekeepers of the app marketplace, the app stores should do more.”  The report notes that the stores provide architecture for sharing pricing and category data, and should be able to provide a way for developers to provide information about their data collection and sharing practices.

The report notes that more should be done to identify the best way to convey data practices in plain language and in easily accessible ways on the small screens of mobile devices.  The agency will host a public workshop in 2012, in connection with its efforts to update the FTC’s “Dot Com Disclosure” guide, about how to provide effective online disclosures.  “One of the topics that will be addressed is mobile privacy disclosures, including how they can be short, effective, and accessible to consumers on small screens.”

The FTC enforces the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.  The Rule requires operators of online services, including interactive mobile apps, to provide notice and get parental consent prior to collecting information from children under 13.  The report says in the next 6 months, FTC staff will conduct an additional review to determine whether some mobile apps were violating COPPA.

HTC violated Apple patent; Lightsquared money trouble; AT&T drops T-Mobile merger

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

HTCThe U.S. International Trade Commission says Taiwan-based HTC’s Android phones violated two Apple patent claims in a ruling that goes into effect April 19.

While this is good news for Apple and its iPhone, it may not be so good for consumers. Of the half dozen smartphones we tested last year (all Android or Windows phones), we like HTC’s hardware the best.

The ITC decision says HTC infringed on Apple patent claims that deal with software to make phone numbers and addresses actionable links.

HTC has said it has created workarounds to the patent difficulties. But the decision will afffect the Droid Incredible, EVO 4G, Nexus One and other HTC phones running Android 1.6 to 2.2, says Gizmodo.

Lightsquared may run out of money

Virginia-based LightSquared, the wholesale wireless network firm, could run out of cash by Q2 2012, according to an analysis of its most recent financial statement by Reuters.

The company, backed by Philip Falcone’s $5 billion Harbinger Capital Partners hedge fund, had a $427 million loss the first nine months of 2011. The financial statement seen by Reuters notes that the company may not be able to “continue as a going concern,” if it cannot raise additional capital.

Lightsquared is wrestling with FCC concerns that its plans for high-speed 4G wireless broadband services interferes with the GPS spectrum. It has submitted a plan to the FCC to circumvent the problem.

AT&T gives up on T-Mobile merger

At&tJust two weeks ago, an AT&T public relations person approached me with the firm’s position at the time that it was still working on its potential merger with T-Mobile despite dropping its bid with the FCC to focus on U.S. Department of Justice concerns. Yesterday, though, AT&T threw in the towel.

It will have to pay T-Mobile USA owner Deutsche Telekom the $4 billion fee it agreed to pay if the merger fell through, but says it will enter a mutually beneficial roaming agreement with the company.

In a statement, the company said:

“After a thorough review of options it has agreed with Deutsche Telekom AG to end its bid to acquire T-Mobile USA, which began in March of this year.

“The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry. It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished and must be addressed immediately.

“The AT&T and T-Mobile USA combination would have offered an interim solution to this spectrum shortage.  In the absence of such steps, customers will be harmed and needed investment will be stifled.”

AT&T chair and CEO Randall Stephenson said, ““To meet the needs of our customers, we will continue to invest. However, adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things.

“First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC.  Second, policymakers should enact legislation to meet our nation’s longer-term spectrum needs.

 

LightSquared won’t hurt GPS; Kindle Cloud Reader; MS update fixes 22 flaws

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

LightSquaredThe U.S. Federal Communications System says it won’t permit LIghtSquared’s proposed middle broadband service to interfere with GPS signals.

The FCC is considering whether or not to let LightSquared’s service proceed.

Some tests showed that GPS receivers pickup interference from spectrum beyond that used by the devices.

In a backgrounding event for reporters, FCC officials said that it won’t allow the LightSquared proposal to use spectrum from 1526 to 1536 MHz and a satellite service in part of the 1600 band if it interferes with nearby GPS spectrum at 1559 to 1610 MHz.

New Microsoft update fixes 22 security flaws

On 8/10, Microsoft issued 13 security updates that patch 22 security flaws in IE, Windows, Office, and other software. Three are rated critical.

The updates fix, among other things, critical vulnerabilities in Internet Explorer 9. Security experts say the IE9 updates should be deployed first. They prevent drive-by downloads of malware when visiting infected web sites.

Market volatility scotches some tech IPO plans

The Wall Street Journal reports (requires a subscription to read entire article) that two of four tech firms planning initial public offerings of stock this week have “hit the pause button.” Both Pandora and LinkedIn shares fell substantially in August and the S&P downgrade, political instability and economic uncertainty are shuttering what once looked like a wide-open IPO window for Internet companies and other tech firms.

VC-backed 3D motion sensor maker InvenSense and Portuguese mobile payment company TIM and Wageworks have all gone into drop back ten and punt mode. Boston-based online backup company Carbonite, still plans to price Thursday night (after slashing its offering range from $15-$17 to $11 to $12.

Amazon releases Kindle Cloud Reader

Amazon For over two years, Amazon has been offering a wide selection of free Kindle reading apps that enable customers to “Buy Once, Read Everywhere.” Customers can already read Kindle books on the largest number of the most popular devices and platforms, including Kindles, iPads, iPhones, iPod touches, PCs, Macs, Android phones and tablets, and BlackBerrys.

Today, Amazon.com has released the Kindle Cloud Reader, its latest Kindle reading application that leverages HTML5 and enables customers to read Kindle books instantly using only their web browser – online or offline – with no downloading or installation required. As with all Kindle apps, Kindle Cloud Reader automatically synchronizes your Kindle library, as well as your last page read, bookmarks, notes, and highlights for all of your Kindle books, no matter how you choose to read them. Kindle Cloud Reader with its integrated touch optimized Kindle Store is available starting today for Safari on iPad, Safari on desktop and Chrome at www.amazon.com/cloudreader.

Features of Kindle Cloud Reader include:

  • An immersive view of your entire Kindle library, with instant access to all of your books
  • Start reading over 950,000 Kindle books instantly within your browser
  • An embedded Kindle Store optimized for your web browser makes it seamless to discover new books and start reading them instantly
  • New Kindle Store for iPad is built from the ground up for iPad’s touch interface
  • Your current book is automatically made available for offline use, and you can choose to save a book for reading offline at any time
  • Receive automatic software updates without the need to download new software
  • Select any book to start reading, customize the page layout to your desired font size, text color, background color, and more
  • View all of the notes, highlights, and bookmarks that you’ve made on other Kindle apps or on Kindle
  • Sync your last page read across your Kindle and free Kindle apps so you can always pick up where you left off

Kindle Cloud Reader is available for Safari on iPad, Safari on desktop and Chrome starting today. Kindle Cloud Reader on the iPad is optimized for the size and unique touch interface of iPad. Without even leaving the app, customers can start shopping in the Kindle Store and will find a unique and immersive shopping experience built specifically for iPad’s Safari browser.

Kindle Cloud Reader will be available on additional web browsers, including Internet Explorer, Firefox, the BlackBerry PlayBook browser, and other mobile browsers, in the coming months.

Amazon.com customers can start reading their Kindle books immediately using Kindle Cloud Reader at www.amazon.com/cloudreader.

FCC halts talks on broadband network neutrality

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Capiltol domeWASHINGTON, DC – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has halted talks with large telecommunications, cable and Internet companies on proposed network neutrality rules that would ensure companies do not favor any types of broadband traffic transmitted over their systems.

The FCC said Thursday that it would abandon the talks, although Edward Lazarus, FCC chief of staff said in a statement that the talks had been “productive on several fronts, but has not generated a robust framework to preserve the openness and freedom of the Internet – one that drives innovation, investment, free speech, and consumer choice. All options remain on the table as we continue to seek broad input on this vital issue.”

The decision to halt the current discussions on the issue comes on the heels of separate talks between Google and Verizon, both involved in the FCC discussions. Google and Verizon said they will release details of a proposal of their own they hope will be a framework for Congressional action on the issue.

The New York Times, however, said in a report on the Google Verizon talks that their proposal could eventually lead to broadband users paying higher fees for higher use of networks.

Cloud computing will outpace the desktop by 2020

Monday, June 28th, 2010
janna anderson

Janna Anderson

By 2020, most computer users will carry powerful pocket-sized computing devices that connect to networks using data and applications in the cloud rather than on the device, Robert Cannon, senior cousel for Internet law at the Federal Communications Commission told the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.

Cannon responded to a Pew study that surveyed about 900 Internet and technology experts that found 72 percent believe future technology users will do business on shared mobile platforms and smart phones rather than desktops in coming years.

Some experts in this survey said that for many individuals the switch to mostly cloud-based work has already occurred, especially through the use of browsers and social networking applications.

They point out that many people today are primarily using smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers to network with remote servers and carry out tasks such as working in Google Docs, following web-based RSS (really simple syndication) feeds, uploading photos to Flickr and videos to YouTube, doing remote banking, buying, selling and rating items at Amazon.com, visiting with friends on Facebook, updating their Twitter accounts and blogging on WordPress.

“It’s obvious that people are enthusiastically embracing the ideal of ambient intelligence — being able to share and access data and create things anywhere, anytime,” said Janna Anderson, an associate professor at Elon University’s School of Communications and the report’s author.

Anderson pointed out, though, that the shift requires overcoming obstacles such as security and privacy concerns and limited broadband spectrum.

The desktop will survive

Among the other observations made by those taking the survey were: large businesses are far less likely to put most of their work “in the cloud” anytime soon because of control and security issue

This does not mean, however, that most of these experts think the desktop computer will disappear soon. The majority sees a hybrid life in the next decade, as some computing functions move towards the cloud and others remain based on personal computers.

Some survey participants said they expect that a more sophisticated desktop-cloud hybrid will be people’s primary interface with information. They predicted the desktop and individual, private networks will be able to provide most of the same conveniences as the cloud but with better functionality, overall efficiency, and speed.

Among the defenses for a continuing domination of the desktop, many said that small, portable devices have limited appeal as a user interface and they are less than ideal for doing work.

The Web-based survey was conducted with Elon’s Imagining the Internet Center. It is the fourth of five reports this year.

Previously on TechJournal South:

The Future Internet

Contact Tech Journal South Editor and writer Allan Maurer:

Allan at TechJournalSouth dot com.

Five reasons new Internet regulations could impede broadband progress

Friday, February 5th, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC – New regulations on net neutrality proposed by the FCC could “Bring a high degree of  uncertainty and could have unintended consequences,” and actually impede goals of connecting all Americans, says David Sutphen, co-chair of the Internet Innovation Alliance (IIA), a broad-based coalition that has supported broadband development since 2004.

Sutphen cites ten reasons why the IIA thinks new regulations are a bad idea. Here are five from his list we think of most importance to those in the Internet business:

1 - The open Internet exists today. We have been living with  ‘net neutrality’ since 2004, when it was established that  companies cannot control the content and applications that  people are able to access online.

2 - It is impossible to konw for sure how new Internet regulations would impact private investment, and a decline in capital investment could have a harmful effect on jobs and the U.S. economy. A reduction by 5 percent would reduce employment by 47,073, according to research from the ITIF, or more than 78,000, according to former FCC commissioner and economist Harold Furchtgott-Roth.

3 – The net neutrality debate, which only concerns those  already online, is a distraction from creating an effective National Broadband Plan.

4 - Today’s open Internet is making possible huge innovation. We reduce the possibilities and raise barriers if we don’t give everyone access to smart networks.

5 – Lack of net neutrality regulations cannot be reduced to “charging more fees and extracting more money from  wealthier customers.”

For the full list see: Internet Innovation Alliance