Samsung Hosting a Meeting to Standardize 5G Standards

We’ve all heard about 3G and 4G, the standards that define the technology that has helped shape mobile communications and mobile phones for the last generation. Samsung looks to get ahead with the next generation by hosting a meeting in hopes of standardizing standards for the next generation, 5G.

Hosting the 3GPP RAN (3rd Generation Partnership Project – Radio Access Network) group, Samsung Electronics hopes that the meeting taking place in Busan, Korea, will help encourage companies to “discuss ways to support the effective integration of new services such as IoT (Internet of Things) into 5G, and measures to ensure the compatibility of 5G technologies”.

5G is not a new technology, having been in development by Samsung since 2011, but with more and more companies looking to have the first standards ready for June 2018, we could soon see a network that could see speeds of 1.2 Gbps for moving vehicles and 7.5 gigabytes for anyone who stands still for a minute.

With companies looking at rolling out the technology for 2020, the meeting hopes to cover everything from energy and cost efficiency to security and availability, all key factors in releasing a successful piece of technology that people not only accept and pick up but support years down the road.

China’s Not Happy About US Sanctions On ZTE

ZTE is a well-known manufacturer of telecom equipment, and while they have seen success in the past they are more than worried about the future with the US looking to impose sanctions on the company. As you can imagine, China’s not happy about this turn of events and are looking to hopefully stop this action before it goes too far.

Hong Lei, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, stated that “China is opposed to the US citing domestic laws to place sanctions on Chinese enterprises”. The restrictions were only announced yesterday and were made on the back of allegations that the company planned have sold US-made equipment to Iran in 2012. This is in violation of the US export restrictions with Iran, but this move may have an impact on other companies just as much.

Intel, Qualcomm and Microsoft all supply parts and equipment to ZTE, something which will now require paperwork which will “generally be denied”. ZTE are obviously worried that, since they cooperated with the US since the trading with Iran first surfaced in 2012, they are going to be hit badly by the restrictions, ultimately causing “significant supply problems to ZTE”. The company has already taken a hit with the trading of company shares being halted.

Google Hangout is Going Peer-to-Peer

Google hangout is used for work and personal use, often fighting against Skype for dominant market use. With tweaks and improvements over the horizon, the next change is going to be fundamental to how Hangouts will communicate with each other.

Hangouts suffers from the fundamental flaw that most video and audio communications technology suffer from, the connections. A bad connection often means that video services have to lower the quality of your video and even the audio. Remember when you’re watching Netflix and suddenly realise you are staring at coloured blocks and crackly audio? That’s because the connection you’ve got to the Netflix library is a little bumpy. This is even worse with services like Skype and Hangout when the connection goes from yourself to your contact/s via the service’s own servers, this means you are running through a busy junction in order to reach your destination. Hangouts looks to change this though by going Peer to Peer (this means you will only ever create a connection to your intended contact/s when possible.

If you often use Hangouts you will notice a small change, possibly a large one if you frequently get a bad connection. Could this be the first step to Hangouts becoming the go to communications service for people over the likes of its competition?

Valve Increasing Steam’s Speed With 100 Gbps Connections

Steam is a global name in video games. As a platform for everything from selling games to networking players, the service enables you to download a small client and regain access to a collection of thousands of games. Not surprising then that they’ve recruited Level 3 communications to increase their network speed.

Level 3 deliver a collection of high-speed connections all around the world, a service that Steam users will be able to enjoy soon as Valve has approached Level 3 to upgrade their network to include their “100 gigabits per second” connection. They state several good reasons for this upgrade, the first of which is the service’s growth year on year. With a 75% increase year on year, you can imagine how their servers must be with new games released causing massive spikes of downloads. 400-500 petabytes of data are downloaded worldwide per month with 4-5 exabytes being downloaded per year, a figure that will only increase with games increasing in average size year on year. With Steam games coming from MB’s to GB’s the “standard” for Steam is roughly 10-40 gigabytes per user download. This is quite hefty given the service has over 100 million users, with users often being online at peak times such as during sales in which it’s not uncommon for millions of users to be online at the same time.

During those busy times, you may quickly notice that your connection stays at peak performance with such an array of upgrades coming soon. Now if only we could all get stable, fast internet at homes it would help make that game time less stressful.

California’s Legal System Now Supports Digital Privacy

In recent years, there has been a big uproar courtesy of a certain reveal by a man named Edward Snowden, regarding digital privacy. To be more precise, it was about the lengths that groups went to in order to avoid any legal requirements when it came to accessing and using your personal information. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act looks to be the first, and hopefully the first of many, to enforce a legal right to digital privacy.

Governor Gerry Brown signed the Act taking it into full effect and I have no doubt that a wide variety of people will be happy about it. The Electronics Communications Privacy Act states that any, I repeat, any state law enforcement agency or any other investigative entity are required to have a warrant in order to obtain digital information (including information stored in the cloud, such as emails or text messages) and that they cannot ‘compel’ businesses to hand over this information without a warrant. It doesn’t end there though if they want to use your GPS to track you or even to search your phone, they will need a warrant for that too.

While not the first to outline in a legal document the requirement of a warrant for your data, or even your location, it is the first to cover things like metadata and your device searches. Many hope that this could be the first of many laws, with other states taking up their own versions of the Electronics Communications Privacy Act or pushing for these conditions to be placed on a national scale, affecting all agencies regardless of state.

Thank you Wired for the information.

Image courtesy of Falkvinge

NSA Surveillance Program Operating For a Very Long Time

NSA operations have been going on a long, long, long, long time, that is according to the latest revelations by both Edward Snowdon and also by a report from The Intercept, NSA/GCHQ’s top secret surveillance program “Project Echelon” has been spying on the US allies, enemies, and its citizens for last 50 years. It’s being called the first-ever automated global mass surveillance system.

A British investigative journalist by the name of Duncan Campbell wrote a magazine article in 1988 about the existence a surveillance program by the name of Echelon, which is essentially a giant and automated surveillance dragnet that indiscriminately intercepted phone and Internet data from communications satellites. This technique was a precursor to today’s tapping of undersea fibre optic cables by survey non-military targets; these include governments, organizations and businesses in virtually every corner of the world.

In 2000, the European Parliament appointed a committee to investigate the program which lead to the outcome of the same old “The NSA played by the rules” mantra. How do you sum these latest revelations up? A foreign affairs directorate special adviser managed it perfectly by concluding the following,

In the final analysis, the “pig rule” applied when dealing with this tacky matter: “Don’t wrestle in the mud with the pigs. They like it, and you both get dirty.”

If anyone attempts to challenge these practises then both parties will be slandered into oblivion, the only difference is, the good guy always looks worst. I am not surprised by these revelations because frankly, who the hell can be after so much has been leaked out. I also think there is now more than surveillance at stake, but the underpinning of democracy which is looking weaker by the day.

This is also where GCHQ and the NSA look stupid, if they are able to track everyone all of the time, how come the likes of Osama Bin Laden managed to hide for so long? How come there are many criminals, illegal activities and an escalation in gun violence in the US within a world which is perceived to be more under surveillance? After all, the perpetrator of the Charleston church shootings wrote a manifesto which was easily accessible online, if the words “It was obvious that George Zimmerman was in the right” does not look slightly psychopathic, then nothing will.

Thank You fossbytes and The Intercept for providing us with this information.

Data Breach: The Sure Fast Way to Become a Retail Pariah

“18.5M Californians lose data to hackers”  

Shocking weekly headlines such as this illustrate the growing problem of major data breaches at multinational enterprises and have both consumers and operators crying foul. In fact, these large data breaches have spawned a 600 percent increase in the number of California customer records violated in cyber-attacks in 2014 according to the California Data Breach Report from state Attorney General Kamala Harris. Moreover, the average cost to investigate and deal with a data breach is $5.9 million, according to the 2014 Cost of Data Breach Study published by the Ponemon Institute and funded by IBM.

The unfortunate consequence of the data breach phenomenon is it not only affects large multinational enterprises but all in-store and online retail business engaging in point of sale transactions. Ultimately, your business is vulnerable as your valuable customers are losing confidence in the security of point of sale transactions.  After all, a primary concern raised by these data breaches is risk to consumer financial health. Data security and customer trust are inseparably linked. Once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers. Never underestimate the value of retention. Customer retention is the lifeblood of your business. Indeed, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system.

“FCC Slaps Telcos With $10M Fine for Data Breaches” 

This recent headline illustrates the cost of a data breach to your business is not only qualitative in nature but quantitative. The United States Federal Communication Commission (FCC) fines for violations of the Communications Act can run into the tens of millions of dollars for those operators who do not properly secure customer information such as customer names, Social Security numbers, and addresses. The bottom line is if you fail to protect your customer data, the U.S. government can find you liable and you will have to pay up.

What Can You Do To Mitigate a Data Breach?

Proper security measures to secure customer information must be in place to protect the confidentiality of the consumer information you have on file. It is imperative to honor the trust of your customers and protect them from harm caused by violations of the Communications Act.

Whether point of sale providers or hackers are to blame, as an operator, you are the bridge between your customer information and the point of sale provider. The simple fact is not if you should shore up your consumer data, but when.According to techhealthperspectives.com, you must ask your point of sale provider how secure your customer data is. Additional questions should be asked such as: Is it stored on publicly accessible Internet servers? Do they have a current risk assessment model in place to determine if your investment in data security is up to par? Can they help you improve your audit controls and conduct breach drills?

Data security is usually reactive in nature. However, it is imperative for you to be proactive and reduce the threat and ultimately prevent a data breach. The use of a reputable expert such as Shopify can shore up your customer data and assist you with rapid and continuous defense against cyber-attacks to save your business from the monetary and reputational damage of a data breach.  Reputable online point of sale providers should host a Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant shopping cart. Moreover, to streamline your operations, you will want to look for a complete eCommerce solution which will help you organize your products, customize your storefront, track and respond to orders, and of course accept credit card payments.

If you currently find yourself in a situation where your customer data has been breached, until Congress passes a data breach notification law, you will be required to traverse the complex maze of 47 state requirements. A guide to assist you with state laws on data breach notifications has been released by the Direct Marketing Association and is available at thedma.org.

It’s never too late to secure your customer data. Protect your business and provide your customers with confidence in the security of your point of sale transactions. After all, once data security is compromised, your customer will no longer trust your company. In summary, to retain customers you must gain and keep their trust with an ironclad point of sale system. What can you do to avoid a data breach? Assess your current point of sale provider and determine if they are Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCI) compliant. Be bold and take a stand for your business and your customers against hackers. Ask your point of sale provider what steps you need to take to avoid becoming the latest weekly headline as a data breach retail pariah.

BT to Buy EE For £12.5 Billion

British Telecom is to buy mobile network Everything Everywhere (EE) for £12.5 Billion ($19 Billion). This unprecedented deal makes BT, an already giant organisation (owning much of the UK’s landline infrastructure), even bigger with the largest UK mobile network in the fold.

EE was formed as a partnership between Orange and Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile) in 2010. It currently has 31 million customers and the largest 4G customer base in Europe. This new deal will make BT exceptionally large – BT is already one of the world’s largest telecom companies, a company that consists of most of the assets that belonged to the UK’s state telecoms network before privatisation under Margaret Thatcher in the early 1980s. Deutsche Telekom will still have a part to play however – they will hold 12% of the new company, with a seat on the board.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this plays out – whether EE will be rebranded as part of BT, or whether it will stay as a separate entity is something we don’t yet know.

Source: The Verge

Bayan Audio StreamPort Universal Audio Streamer Review

Bluetooth audio streaming devices are a common sight amongst many homes and even in cars where stereos handle hands free connections through the technology. Now in its fourth version, the capabilities and quality of Bluetooth has improved drastically and rather than the somewhat grainy on poor quality audio that we used to experience, the standards have improved drastically with high quality audio now the standard and connectivity much easier.

More recently there has been a newer technology being incorporated in to the likes of mobile phones, making wireless streaming, sharing and connections so much easier than before. NFC or Near-Field-Communications is a wireless standard that allows mobile phones to establish connections with other NFC enabled devices, simply by bringing it within close proximity of the device (around a few centimetres depending on the device). NFC itself is not used to stream audio to the StreamPort as it has a very low transmission range and its top speed is 424kbps. The integration of NFC is more to make the task of connecting a mobile device to the StreamPort much more simplified and quick with the process done purely by sitting the NFC enabled phone on top of the StreamPort to establish the Bluetooth connection without any further interaction required.

We’ve taken a look at one of Bayan Audio’s products before, namely the Bayan 7 iPod Speaker Dock and it won us over with its great looks and great audio that had definition and clarity right through the range, which for us at eTeknix is a key factor – we love clear sound. I’m not a massive audiophile, however I like my sound to be good with definition clarity and volume at both the high and low ends of the scale. These factors may not play the same major part in a product of this nature as it does not reproduce the audio itself, leaving that to a third party system, but more importantly decoding the audio signal that it receives over Bluetooth to give a good source feed to the playback system.

Inside the box alongside the StreamPort that we’ll look at a little closer on the next page, Bayan Audio include a USB mains adaptor with UK and EU plugs, along with a USB cable to power the unit as well as a 3.5mm to 3.5mm and 2ch RCA cable for flexibility in connecting the unit to a variety of audio systems. A user manual also gives information on getting the system working and how to pair it with Bluetooth and NFC enabled devices.