Verizon Looking to Switch Everyone From Copper to Fiber

Internet speeds are going up and up, but the US still lags behind the rest of the world leaving many upset. Some companies charge for the bigger internet, but internet provider Verizon looks to be one of the first to encourage users to switch to fiber optic cables.

Fiber is the only fix” was revealed by a document that seems to suggest that those who request fixes to any copper line will be told that the only way to fix the problem is by taking up the fiber optic lines. This will fall in line with the companies new official stance is to refuse repairs on any copper lines with the document stating that their official response when asked to fix a copper line “do not fix trouble with copper lines”.

If you don’t have a problem with copper lines, but someone near you has, then Verizon is making steps to improve and upgrade other people’s lines, perhaps in a move to help defer and delay future problems.

Some have felt like Verizon has been rather hostile in their actions to upgrade users from copper to fiber cables, with this being but the latest in a slew of moves to force users to upgrade to the latest technology. While people are happy for faster internet and connections, being forced to do anything is often seen with reluctance and anger.

Host of Potential Yahoo Buyers Emerge – Major Companies Linked

Yahoo is up for sale, and some of the major players in media and technology are keen to pick over the bones of the once-great company, with Microsoft, Google, Verizon, Time, and the Daily Mail all indicating an interest in future bids.

“Media companies, such as the Daily Mail and Time Inc., are reportedly thinking of making an offer,” reports CNN Money. “A Daily Mail spokesman confirmed to CNN Money that the company is looking at bidding for Yahoo.”

Yahoo is currently valued at around $34b – a shadow of its value in late-2000, when the company was worth closer to $255b – with the company’s Asian stock accounting for the bulk of that valuation, indicating that the company’s internet business is practically worthless.

Google and Microsoft have also been linked with purchases of pieces of Yahoo’s business, though the former is unlikely to make any such deals over concerns of breaking antitrust laws. Microsoft, however, already has a close relationship with Yahoo, and previously attempted a $45b takeover of the company back in 2008.

“Verizon could also be a player,” CNN Money adds. “It owns Yahoo rival AOL and other media assets, and the company has publicly expressed interest in taking a look at Yahoo. AOL is like a mini version of Yahoo, with a sizable digital advertising and online content business. Verizon bought AOL last year for more than $4 billion.”

“Private equity firms General Atlantic, TPG and KKR are also widely reported to be considering buying Yahoo,” CCN Money reveals.

Former Vice President of Google Product Search Marissa Mayer was appointed CEO of Yahoo in 2012, tasked with changing the fortunes of the ailing business. After a promising start, Mayer soon proved impotent in her efforts to stop the rot that had already decimated Yahoo, with her cost-cutting measures of sub-division closures and staff redundancies designed to keep the company ticking over until it could find a new owner.

Verizon Enterprise Breach Leads to 1.5 Million Customers Records Up For Sale

It’s not been a good year for Verizon. Earlier this month we reported on the fact that the company had been fined by the FCC for “supercookie” tracking, and now it would seem that Verizon Enterprise has been breached resulting in 1.5 million customer records being put up for sale.

The revelation comes as a seller has begun advertising the sale of a database with information for 1.5 million customers of Verizon entertainment, all being offered for the price of $100,000. If you feel like that is a little much you can buy 100,000 records for just $10,000. The thread also contains the option to buy information about security vulnerabilities in Verizon’s website, leading people to question just how safe their data is.

In response, Verizon stated that they had “recently discovered and remediated a security on our enterprise client portal”. Regarding the data itself they state that “an attacked obtained basic contact information on a number of our enterprise customers”.

This would appear to authenticate that the data is real although it may not be as juicy and chock filled with information as some might hope it is. This only looks bad for Verizon Enterprise as they are the ones commonly finding flaws and reporting on breaches like these every year. If you were wondering just how much that could have an impact on people, Verizon’s Enterprise client list includes 99% of Fortune 500 companies.

Verizon Fined $1.35 Million by FCC Over ‘Supercookie’ Tracking

Everyone wants your browsing data, from the government to your ISP, for reasons ranging from tracking potential criminals to lucrative advertisement revenue. Now Verizon is settling with the FCC over their usage of an ad targeting technology known as ‘supercookie’, which tracks the sites visited by phones on their network. These supercookies allow ads to be better targeted for users on of the Verizon cell phone service, however, Verizon neglected to inform their users of the tracking and allow them to opt-out. This action has caused them to incur a fine of $1.35 million from the US Federal Communications Commission and force them to receive customer permission before sharing any tracking data with other companies and those inside its organization, including AOL.

Verizon’s usage of the supercookie tracking garnered a lot of negative feedback when it was introduced last year, causing the company to allow users to opt-out of the program. This move is forced even further by today’s settlement, limiting the data that can be shared even from customers that do not opt-out. This is a big change, as it addresses one of the main concerns with supercookies, which could allow websites to track users on a permanent basis, as it was impossible to disassociate a user from their supercookie on the Verizon network.

This settlement represents the FCC successfully defending the Open Internet Transparency Rule, only the second time that it has been done (the first being a fine against AT&T over unlimited data plans.) This ruling seems to allow for some level of tracking to be permitted, so long as there is transparency and the option to opt-out exist for the customer. “Consumers care about privacy and should have a say in how their personal information is used, especially when it comes to who knows what they’re doing online,” stated Travis LeBlanc, chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. It is clear that Verizon overstepped their bounds in this case, and we can only hope that other network providers will learn from this when considering the tracking and sharing of their users’ data.

Apple Sued For Data Consuming “Bug”

Apple is known for a lot of things but none more than their iPhones, for better or worse. In this case, it’s again for the worse. Apple has had some problems regarding their software and just like almost a year ago when it was revealed that Siri shared your conversations with other companies, they have been caught yet again relating to their data usage. Apple had the issue in October when they went to court that iOS’s 9 WiFi assist would use mobile internet alongside their WiFi, without alerting the user that they were now using their data roaming. Why not face another lawsuit for the same problem?

Hagens Berman Sobol Shaprio LLP have filed a class-action lawsuit relating to iPhone 5 and 5’cs using iOS 6 and 7. The issue relates specifically to these models because when users were streaming video for even a couple of minutes the phone would switch off its CPU allowing the phone to save power and battery life. The problem being is that doing this would also silently turn off the WiFi and start streaming the video data from a cellular signal.

The suit claims that they violated California consumer laws given that while Apple were aware of the defect they not only failed to fix or warn customers about the issue but that it was fixed for Verizon users back in September 2012 but wasn’t fixed for AT&T users until October 2014.

Streaming data is a costly activity and having your data drained without being warned, because of a known bug, has to annoy anyone. Have you ever gone over your data allowance or found you’ve used your phone data more than you expected?

Guy Builds a Mobile Phone in Minecraft That Can Make Real Video Calls

One of the biggest YouTube successes of recent years has built a working mobile (or cell) phone in Minecraft that can actually call other players in-game. Jordan Maron, otherwise known by his YouTube handle CaptainSparklez, can use his phone to browse the internet (kind of, in a blocky, Minecraft style) and make audio or video calls.

23-year-old CaptainSparklez quit college to become a full-time YouTuber and Twitch streamer and, with his 8.75 million YouTube subscribers and 1.6 billion video views, is so successful that he recently purchased a $4.5 million mansion, and recently made the move into producing games through his company Xreal.

The idea for the Minecraft phone was not CaptainSparklez’s alone, though. He was approached by phone carrier Verizon to effectively produce an ad for them, which led to the video below. While the sponsorship angle may tarnish the concept for some, its execution is still mightily impressive.

“In the world of Minecraft, almost everything is made of blocks,” CaptainSparklez said. “We’ve created a web application, Boxel, that translates real web pages and streaming video into blocks so they can be built on a Minecraft server in real time. Our server plugin uses Boxel-client to handle the communication between Minecraft and the real world as translated by the web application.”

AOL Being Bought for $4.4 Billion by Verizon

Verizon is moving into the content and media business with its planned purchase of AOL. If regulators approve the $4.4 billion USD deal, Verizon will join the likes of Comcast which is not only a telecommunications giant but also a major media conglomerate.

The acquisition would involve the entirety of AOL becoming a wholly owned subsidiary. Of course, the purchase includes the old dial-up internet service with 2 million customers that AOL is famous for. This will net Verizon about $168 million in revenue a year. Other noteworthy mentioned include The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, MAKERS, AOL.com and AOL’s advertising network. AOL is expected to operate independently of Verizon at least in the short-term and AOL CEO Tim Armstrong will stay on.

One major hurdle being faced by Verizon and AOL is regulatory approval. On one hand, an approval has precedence. Comcast was able to move ahead with its acquisition of NBC after the previous Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman gave approval. However, the regulatory landscape has changed with new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who recently implemented Net Neutrality rules which aim to prevent companies from using their monopoly to leverage advantages. What is likely to happen is that the FCC will grant approval but with some rules that Verizon will have to follow regarding AOL.

While purchasing AOL’s dial-up service sort of makes sense, it will be interesting to see how Verizon will make use of their media and content acquisitions. Both consumers and the FCC will be sure to watch the acquisition carefully to guess if Verizon will abuse its new position as a media outlet.

ISP Promotes Higher Broadband Deal for ‘Ideal’ Streaming

We all know the basics that a better internet connection means better internet experience. Well, it seems that this is all Verizon customer service employees know too and it’s over Netflix streaming again.

Netflix offers two standard streaming qualities, standard at approximately 3Mbps and High Definition at approximately 5Mbps, but Verizon sales reps told one customer he should upgrade from his 50Mbps Fibre Optic service due to it not being able to provide the smoothest experience. Industry analyst Day Rayburn had a small run in with multiple sales reps who tried palming this pitching this to him.

“Last week I contacted Verizon to discuss the renewal of my two-year FiOS Triple Play contract which already gives me 50Mbps up/down,” Rayburn wrote. “Three different sales reps via the phone and one via an online chat all tried to convince me to upgrade to 75Mbps, with the false promise that it would give me better quality Netflix streaming, amongst other OTT [over-the-top] streaming services. I was told that with 75Mbps I would get ‘smoother video viewing’ and ‘better quality’ with a higher tier service. Of course, this claim by Verizon is 100 percent false and they know it.”

“During HBO’s Game Of Thrones Season 5 premiere, I had ten separate streams going on at the same time via HBO Now and Sling TV,” Rayburn wrote. “All combined, I consumed just under 29Mbps of my 50Mbps connection and all ten streams had perfect quality. HBO Now’s bitrate maxes out at 4Mbps and some of the streams I had going were to mobile devices. Amongst the ten streams, they averaged 2.9Mbps per second. So even if I had a household of ten people, all streaming at the same time, going from 50Mbps to 75Mbps would not have given me any better video streaming quality over what I already have. Verizon is simply using the average consumer’s lack of knowledge of bitrates and streaming technology to scare them into thinking they need a higher tiered package than they really do.”

Rayburn, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, actually tried defending the ISP last year over the financial dispute with Netflix; I bet he’s changed sides now.

I understand the “make a sale” pitch, but blatantly lying to a customer is just dirty dealings; I wonder how many customers they have falsely snagged with this hook.

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information

Use Video to Make Internal Communications Fun

Do you know how many browser games your staff is playing? You may have key personnel so bored in that standing meeting that they’re doing an open-eyed lecture hall doze. Meetings are often looked upon as a necessary evil, but well run meetings can be therapeutic for stressed professionals, who are disengaged from their workplaces and coworkers in distressing numbers, according to a Gallup poll. That these workers comprise some of the most highly educated and experienced workers in the payroll should be a sign to put the common wisdom of human resources into the dumpster and rethink how employees engage with management and how they can feel more engaged and satisfied with their work and working environment.

Getting Rid of the Cube Farm Mentality

The first step in opening up the workplace and re-engaging staff is to rethinking the fallacy that more meetings are a good thing. Don’t think that people don’t value meetings, they do! However, when a Verizon whitepaper puts the average number of meetings a busy professional at 60 per month, there’s something wrong with that. Revising your meeting schedule is not going to go over well with some people in your organization is not going to go over well. There are managers and executives in any organization who call meetings just so that they can feel important, and from the feeling that sound and motion are indicative of progress. However, to carry the sound and motion analogy a little further, in the case of swimming, sound and motion can also be indicative of drowning as well as swimming, but the two activities are nothing alike.

Meetings need to serve a purpose that can’t otherwise be covered by an email blast, a phone call, or even a face-to-face in the break room over donuts and coffee. Meetings also need to take into account the disruptions to workflow caused by even a small meeting held by people who work in the same office, much less those who might be working in different time zones, reporting from a remote location where work is ongoing, or even on another continent. Getting your teams together wherever they with a cloud based app like BlueJeans that can cover a room or just a single person on their smartphone is a flexible, scalable way to make sure that everyone’s included. Team collaboration with BlueJeans is easy, and can be fun, especially when used by team members to communicate on a regular basis, share content in app, and even brainstorm face to face from anywhere. All this and no IT guy needed!

Face Time Needed

Giving your staff the face to face meeting time they need is one way to increase engagement and revive a sense of purpose and even enthusiasm from a creative process that has become less about creative and more about process. Businesses need to keep the new blood and wise heads engaged in a competitive business environment, with room for creativity, valuable input, and participation. While a lot of day-to-day operations can be handled with emails and phone calls, there are times when you need a face in front of you. A Gigaom study showed that 87 percent of videoconferencing feel more connected and involved with their teams, their projects, and the processes. For burned out employees, putting meetings in the hands of someone who knows how to run one can be a therapeutic experience, even if they’re not in the actual room.

In time, and with use, team members will find that using video for conferences, meetings, and symposiums feels natural, and is no more an interruption to their work flow than a trip to the coffee house on lunch hour. Talking to one another singly or in groups is easy when you don’t need Bill from IT to set up and manage every meeting, and cloud based video conferencing apps are secure enough to share even sensitive content. It’s the age of big data, and also the age of some very big data hacks, so be sure that you pick a secure application, as well as one that is easy to use.

It’s the 2000s

A lot of the so-called “classic management” is to blame for employee disengagement. Instead of being results focused, the HR process and policies have come to take center stage and in some cases brew a toxic environment where nobody’s happy. Classic management is not diverse, does not reward creativity, and can lock out some people who have tremendous abilities to offer any company. This outmoded, micromanaged, bottom-line style is stacked against your staff.  If, instead, you can think about HR as your talent office, and your staff as your talent pool, you might just find that you have some real star power hanging around the coffee pot some morning.

Firefox OS Set to Enter the US and Other Developed Markets in 2016

Mozilla has developed its Firefox OS in order to target low-cost smartphone markets all around the world. Its recent statement claims that the company is considering to enter more developed markets next year.

Mozilla has stated a project with US, Japanese, South Korean and Spanish carriers to get ready for shipping high-spec smartphones starting from 2016 onwards. However, the more developed markets for smartphones are currently owned and heavily competed by Apple, Android and Windows Phone. But Mozilla seems to be taking a rather strange and out of fashion approach.

Flip phones and sliders would be the main attraction and key feature of these new Firefox OS phones, as stated by Andreas Gal, chief technology officer at Mozilla. He stated that customers like the older form factors of mobile phones and this is the main cause of why they are stuck with older operating systems.

“Development of feature phones has essentially stopped, said Gal. “This project will bring a modern smartphone OS into this market.”

The project has been announced on Sunday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, pointing out that Verizon Wireless, KDDI, LG uPlus and Telefonica will be the first carriers to start shipping these new smartphones next year.

Thank you Computer World for providing us with this information

Verizon Pokes Fun at Net Neutrality With Response Written in Morse Code

It’s no surprise that Verizon, one of the big monopolistic US ISP and mobile providers, is unhappy with yesterday’s net neutrality ruling. They, amongst others, including AT&T and Comcast, have always contested against such a decision. They’ve constantly maintained that the ‘fast lanes’ they could provide would not only help their profits, but improve the services provided to users.

Whether you agree with their interpretation or not, the company decided to make their position clear following the historic decision, by utilising a popular social media meme – #ThrowbackThursday. 

– — -.. .- -.– .—-. …   -.. . -.-. .. … .. — -.   -… -.–   – …. .   ..-. -.-. -.-.   – —   . -. -.-. ..- — -… . .-.   -… .-. — .- -.. -… .- -. -..   .. -. – . .-. -. . –   … . .-. …- .. -.-. . …   .– .. – ….   -… .- -.. .-.. -.–   .- -. – .. –.- ..- .- – . -..   .-. . –. ..- .-.. .- – .. — -. …   .. …   .-   .-. .- -.. .. -.-. .- .-..   … – . .–.   – …. .- –   .–. .-. . … .- –. . …   .-   – .. — .   — ..-.   ..- -. -.-. . .-. – .- .. -. – -.–   ..-. — .-.   -.-. — -. … ..- — . .-. … –..–   .. -. -. — …- .- – — .-. …   .- -. -..   .. -. …- . … – — .-. … .-.-.-   — …- . .-.   – …. .   .–. .- … –   – .– —   -.. . -.-. .- -.. . …   .-   -… .. .–. .- .-. – .. … .- -. –..–   .-.. .. –. …. – -….- – — ..- -.-. ….   .–. — .-.. .. -.-. -.–   .- .–. .–. .-. — .- -.-. ….   ..- -. .-.. . .- … …. . -..   ..- -. .–. .-. . -.-. . -.. . -. – . -..   .. -. …- . … – — . -. –   .- -. -..   . -. .- -… .-.. . -..   – …. .   -… .-. — .- -.. -… .- -. -..   .. -. – . .-. -. . –   .- –. .   -.-. — -. … ..- –

What you see above is just an excerpt from Verizon’s real statement on the ruling, written entirely in Morse Code. They say that the decision to bring internet provision under Title II regulation is antiquated and not fit for purpose in the 21st Century.

Just incase you did want to read the real thing, the company posted a link to the statement for “readers in the 21st century” which you can read here. Even that they styled as though it was written on a typewriter.

Source: Verizon

CNN Name T-Mobile Tech Company of the Year

News network CNN has declared T-Mobile as its Tech Company of the Year for 2014. Faced with stiff competition from Apple and Microsoft, CNN posits that “no other tech company shook up its entire industry the way that T-Mobile (TMUS) did this year.”

In 2013, mobile telecom provider T-Mobile shifted its business model, scrapping phone contracts, allowing customers to switch network easily, and introducing free international roaming. This year it went one better, offering to pay early termination fees for customers wanting to move to T-Mobile from another network, introducing free music streaming, independent of existing data plans, offering seven-day smartphone loans, free in-flight internet, and monthly rollover data allowances.

The move kicked off a major price war amongst its rivals, with Sprint offering half-price bills and Verizon and AT&T lowering rates while upping data allowances, with all three now offering free smartphones on contract. But still, T-Mobile has gained 3.5 million customers this year, more than any other mobile network, taking its market share from 11% at the start of the year to 18% now.

To CNN, this remarkable growth and brilliant business strategy has earned T-Mobile the title of Tech Company of the Year, and could point towards the company becoming a long-term success story.

Source: CNN

ISPs Threaten to Sue the FCC if they Enforce Net Neutrality

In response to US President Barack Obama’s statement supporting net neutrality, and asking the FCC to reclassify internet service as a utility under Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, American ISPs have come out fighting, threatening to take legal action against the FCC if they agree to Obama’s plan.

Verizon, who has previously threatened litigation over net neutrality proposals, released a statement claiming the Title II proposal is “a mistake that will do tremendous harm to the Internet and to U.S. national interests.” AT&T also weighed in, calling net neutrality a “hypothetical problem posed by certain political groups whose objective all along has been to bring about government control of the Internet.,” followed by the threat, “if the FCC puts such rules in place, we would expect to participate in a legal challenge to such action.”

Though many ISPs remained silent, their representative trade group, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, criticised the proposal, stating, “this tectonic shift in national policy, should it be adopted, would create devastating results.” The FCC’s official statement is so far non-committal, saying only, “we will incorporate the President’s submission into the record.”

Source: Consumerist

Comcast and Verizon Lowered Speed to Cogent below 0.5Mbps

New detailed measurements have been released displaying exactly how much throttling of traffic was done by major US ISP’s Comcast and Verizon through to Cogent – a backbone operator of Netflix traffic. As almost everyone in the United States discovered over the span of the last year, traffic through to Netflix got bad – really flipping bad. A new study released by M-Lab data has a detailed analysis of just how terrible the throttling from both Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast made it for traffic passing through to Cogent. The study reveals a detailed insight into traffic through the ISP’s over the span of a 5 year period, of which between late May through to February of this year – traffic trickled down to a ludicrously slow 0.5mbps speed. It’s no wonder Netflix was failing to stream for most US citizens.

“Using Measurement Lab (M-Lab) data, and constraining our research to the United States, we observed sustained performance degradation experienced by customers of Access ISPs AT&T, Comcast, CenturyLink, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon when their traffic passed over interconnections with Transit ISPs Cogent Communications (Cogent), Level 3 Communications (Level 3), and XO Communications (XO),” researchers wrote. “In a large number of cases we observed similar patterns of performance degradation whenever and wherever specific pairs of Access/Transit ISPs interconnected. From this we conclude that ISP interconnection has a substantial impact on consumer internet performance—sometimes a severely negative impact—and that business relationships between ISPs, and not major technical problems, are at the root of the problems we observed.”

“The three degraded Access ISPs [Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon] failed to achieve median download throughputs above 4Mbps when connecting over Cogent in New York City for most of the period between Spring 2013 and March 2014,” M-Lab wrote. “While daily median download throughput overall hovered around 4Mbps, performance degradation was much worse during peak use hours. For much of the time between Spring 2013 and March 2014, download speeds during peak use hours remained well below 4Mbps. By January 2014, the download throughput rate during peak use hours for Comcast and Verizon traffic over Cogent’s network was less than 0.5Mbps, the minimum rate necessary for web browsing and email according to the FCC. Note that only between 2:00 AM and 1:00 PM were the three affected Access ISPs able to attain speeds above 4 Mbps across the Transit ISP Cogent.”

The full dataset of information from M-Lab has been published online, and is available for viewing here. One thing is for certain after going through the findings – the internet is in for a bumpy ride if strong net neutrality laws and regulation checks aren’t brought into place. The wild west could start to get a lot wilder.

Thanks to M-Lab for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Slate.

Free iPhone 6 and Trade-In by Verizon

Verizon is straight into the new iPhone market, offering up a potential deal to customers wishing to have the latest Apple technology.

On Tuesday, they announced a new deal offering a 16GB iPhone 6 to users – the catch being that you must trade in your old phone and renew your existing contract for another two years. Doing the math we’ve learned that overall this is going to save you around $199, taking into account all costs and comparing them to the original purchase price of the phone.

They’ve obviously got some competition however, with Sprint offering the new phone on their $50 unlimited data plan, alongside T-Mobile putting up a claim that they will match any other companies trade-in deals and provide consumers with $50 credit on-top.

Missed the Apple iPhone 6 releases? Deactivated your Facebook due to the plethora of incoming posts about peoples sudden ‘expert’ opinions, but still want to know the full information? We’ve covered it too, and you can check it out if you wish.

If you’re keen on a trade-in with Verizon, they’ve said that they will accept the iPhone 4, 4s, 5, 5C and 5S – no Nokia 3310’s this time sorry guys.

Image courtesy of TechAdvisor

Solar-Powered, Smartphone Charging Benches to be put in Boston

Soofa is a smart urban furniture company developed by Changing Environments, (an MIT Media Lab spin-off) and they’re bringing the Silicon Valley feel to Boston. As we’ve learned, this companies trendy name is derived from the acronym SUFA (Smart Urban Furniture Appliance) with the ‘double o’ added for a modern feel.

Being described as an ‘urban watercooler’, Soofa hopes to bring strangers together in a commonplace whilst providing an almost-essential service in todays technology age.

Soofa Co-Founder Sandra Richer explained her companies intentions to Mashable:

“There isn’t too much knowledge or perception around renewable energy these days because people are removed from it — it’s either on the roof or set aside somewhere that you don’t see it. We wanted to change the way people see its immediate benefits by putting something out into public spaces.”

Boston already has six benches in full operation with a further four set to be placed in the next few weeks. As it stands, Soofa currently has 100 of these benches ready to roll out with plans for further production.

Richer also commented on the ever-growing demand for such technology:

“It’s hard to get investors to back something that is a new market, but we’re already gotten so many requests from corporate campuses, education organizations, retailers and cities, from Tel Aviv to places in Italy, Germany and Hong Kong, so now we’re focused on how to scale quickly” Mashable

Interested in looking at your own bench for your workplace, common hangout spot or company? A cast iron bench will set you back around $10,000 USD, but others are said to be significantly cheaper. Obviously this price is nothing to scoff at, especially if you’re looking to implement quite a few of these in one venue. When this issue was raised, Richer commented:

“The smart benches will be on the pricier side because of the electronics, but we want it also to be affordable enough to encourage adoption.” Mashable

Being adopted as a full business around one year ago, the company was formed as current thanks to a partnership with Verizon and Cisco to help get it off the ground.

Soofa are said to be developing other style products to be suited to further environments. It’s highly likely you’ll be seeing more of these around in America and globally in the near future.

Image courtesy of Slashgear

FCC to Investigate Netflix and Verizon Fiasco

The fight between Netflix and Verizon has been escalating rapidly over the last few days, with Netflix warning its customers that the Verizon network is “crowded” and then Verizon trying to take legal action against Netflix, issuing them with a cease and desist for saying such things. This then promoted Netflix to issue the following statement:

To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you’re the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour.”

There has been a lot of back and forth debate between the two companies recently and there are no signs of it getting better, as both companies appear to be standing their ground and blaming each other for the issues, albeit it seems to me that it really is Verizon that are at fault, but that’s just my personal opinion on the matter.

Now the FCC has had enough, with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler issuing the following statement:

“Consumers pay their ISP and they pay content providers like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon. Then when they don’t get good service they wonder what is going on. I have experienced these problems myself and know how exasperating it can be.

Consumers must get what they pay for. As the consumer’s representative we need to know what is going on. I have therefore directed the Commission staff to obtain the information we need to understand precisely what is happening in order to understand whether consumers are being harmed.”

Even with the FCC offering to step in, Verizon are still standing their ground, while Netflix are welcoming the extra help in their fight against the provider, saying “We welcome the FCC’s efforts to bring more transparency in this area. Americans deserve to get the speed and quality of Internet access they pay for.”

Verizon Issues Cease and Desist against Netflix – Netflix Stands Their Ground

In a heated debate between the american based ISP Verizon and the entertainment streaming service Netflix, Verizon has issued a cease and desist asking Netflix to stop putting down Verizon’s service but to also to “provide Verizon with any and all evidence and documentation that it possesses substantiating Netflix’s assertion”. Netflix is defending their right to display the message about Verizon’s network traffic issues.

Netflix’s general counsel David Hyman wrote a letter, obtained by QUARTZ to Verizon and  claimed that Verizon were at fault for the poor performance some of their mutual customers were experiencing, not Netflix. Hyman also added that they have placed the internet performance related message “The Verizon network is crowded right now” onto their service to show that it’s due to Verizon’s methods of handling traffic at peak times. Netflix has determined Verizons performance by looking at the way it handles Netflix traffic at peak and non peak times.

Hyman: “We are testing this type of messaging across the U.S. with multiple providers,” he also states in his letter that Verizon tried to “shift blame for our customer’s experience on the Verizon network ‘squarely to Netflix itself’”

The full letter follows below.

Dear Randy,

I am in receipt of your letter dated June 5, 2014.

Your interpretation mischaracterizes our messagingThe message you cite to in your letter merely lets our consumers know that the Verizon network is crowdedWe have determined this by examining the difference between the speed at which the Verizon network handles Netflix traffic at peak versus non-peak timesThe messaging is part of our ongoing transparency efforts to let consumers know their Netflix experience is being affected by congestion on their broadband provider’s networkWe are testing this type of messaging across the US with multiple providers.

Furthermore, your attempt to shift blame for our customers’ experience on the Verizon network “squarely to Netflix itself” disregards Verizon’s responsibility to provide its customers with the service it has promised them. Verizon sells residential Internet access to its customers. In fact, it is my understanding that Verizon actually upsells customers to higher speed packages based on improved access to video services, including Netflix. Verizon’s unwillingness to augment its access ports to major Internet backbone providers is squarely Verizon’s fault. As an ISP, you sell your customers a connection to the Internet. To ensure that these customers get the level of service they pay you for, it is your responsibility to make sure your network, including your interconnection points, have sufficient capacity to accommodate the data requests made by those customers. To try to shift blame to us for performance issues arising from interconnection congestion is like blaming drivers on a bridge for traffic jams when you’re the one who decided to leave three lanes closed during rush hour.

As you are well aware, Netflix, for more than two years, through its Open Connect Program, has been willing to bring the data ISP subscribers request directly to any network for free, including Verizon. Despite our willingness to do so, you have chosen not to participate in the Open Connect Program, but instead have allowed your network connection to Netflix to degrade until we agreed to pay for augmented interconnection. We brought the data right to your doorstep…all you had to do was open your door.

We hope that our recent agreement will soon result in a better Netflix experience for our mutual customers. The current transparency test to which your letter relates is scheduled to end June 16 and we are evaluating rolling it out more broadly. Regardless of this specific test, we will continue to work on ways to communicate network conditions to our consumers. We’re also happy to work with you on ways to improve network transparency to our mutual customers.

Sincerely,
David Hyman
General Counsel

What Verizon’s response to this will be, I’m not sure, but it looks as though Netflix have enough evidence to put up a good fight against whatever card Verizon might play next.

Thank you to QUARTZ for supplying us with this information.

Image courtesy of  QUARTZ.

Verizon To Finally Offer Nexus 7 (2013) But Is It Too Little Too Late?

Verizon are well known for taking a painfully long time to bring certain devices onto their network, the Google Nexus devices suffering particularly badly. The Nexus 7 2013 edition was released on July 26th 2013 and according to Engadget Verizon users will finally see a Verizon LTE version from February 13th. The 32GB 4G LTE model will cost $350 or will be available on a two-year contract for $250.

Verizon users who already own a LTE-ready Nexus 7 2013 edition will be able to access the Verizon LTE network once you’ve downloaded the latest Android system update. Verizon users will be able to add the Nexus 7 2013 edition tablet to their Share Everything plan for an extra $10 a month.

Why such a long delay? Well Verizon still claims the lengthy certification process is to blame, but we’re hardly buying that one. No way on earth does it take nearly 8 months to certify a Nexus tablet for LTE use when other vendors have had them available pretty much since launch. Clearly Verizon need to get their act together with future product releases or they risk driving customers away.

Image courtesy of Droid-Life

Verizon To Disclose Government Requests For Customer Data

Verizon is getting ready to release a detailed report twice a year in regards to the number of law enforcement requests they get for their customers data in the US and aboard. The first of these reports which will cover the whole of 2013 will be made available in early 2014, from then on Verizon will release a report twice a year about the number of requests it receives from the various branches of government agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Randdal S. Milch went on to shed more light on this mater;

“All companies are required to provide information to government agencies in certain circumstances. This new report is intended to provide more transparency about law enforcement requests. Although we have a legal obligation to provide customer information to law enforcement in response to lawful demands, we take seriously our duty to provide such information only when it is authorized by law. Verizon has been offering this information to the public for the last two years, however by releasing these reports yearly will we make this information more consistently and easily available”.

Verizon isn’t the only company to come out and state that they will make available all requests to the public, with tech companies Google, Twitter, Facebook and many others stating that they will release the total number of requests they get from government agencies about their end users.  In these reports will be the number of subpoenas, court orders and warranted requests the companies have received. All of this change started to happen after it was leaked that in June that the NSA had been saving records of millions of phone calls made in the US. All this change and information started when former NSA contractor Edward Snowden started leaking documents from the NSA and making their practices public.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of rt.

Google Says Nexus 5 Will Not Come To Verizon

Google made a statement recently to the Verge which suggests that Verizon will not be offering the Google Nexus 5 handset.

Google’s senior VP of Android Sundar Pichai stated clearly and simply that “the Nexus 5 will not be on Verizon” without any explanation of why this will be the case. The announcement is strange given that the Nexus 5 will run on all rival carriers: Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T in the USA, but apparently the lack of support can be put down to the Nexus 5 not supporting the LTE Band 13 required for use on Verizon’s network. However, the device does still support GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900, HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100, HSDPA 900 / 2100 and most other LTE bands so it will work on the vast majority of networks.

It isn’t exactly surprising news as in the past Google and Verizon haven’t worked well together. The Verizon Galaxy Nexus took so long to come to market, due to Verizon’s long software review process, that it was almost out-dated and second class by the time it was ready, while the Nexus 4 didn’t support Verizon’s LTE so it meant Verizon couldn’t offer the phone to its customers. Google and Verizon also had a little scuff over the new Nexus 7 2013 Edition tablet where Google showed it operating on the Verizon network despite Verizon claiming it wasn’t supported. Verizon then changed its message saying it would support the device “soon” but has stayed quiet on the topic since.

It isn’t all bad news for Verizon customers though, as Google and Verizon are working together “on a set of projects for 2014” according to Sundar Pichai.

Image courtesy of Google

Verizon Boosting LTE In Key American Markets, Up To 80 Mbps Download

Engadget report that Verizon have finished with a roll-out of mobile speed boosts across some parts of the USA. Verizon has upgraded many of its key 4G LTE areas to AWS Band 4 frequencies allowing the LTE network to not only offer faster speeds but also improved reliability and increased subscription to LTE networks.

GigaOM reader Milan Milanovic managed to get a staggering 80.82 Mbps download and 15.35 Mbps upload with a 35ms ping while out and about in Midtown Manhattan. According to other network testers Verizon have also activated these same AWS Band 4 frequencies in Chicago and Los Angeles so people there should also be able to access those speeds with a compatible handset.

Of course that is the catch – only handsets with the appropriate radios compatible with AWS can surf that AWS band and access those high speeds. Verizon says an update for its customers using compatible phones (such as the Samsung Galaxy S4) will be delivered in the near future. It is also worth noting that as the number of users on the network increases the speed will drop substantially but it should still be blazing fast by mobile standards.

Image courtesy of Milan Milanovic

AT&T To Bring 300Mbps Fiber To Austin

Austin, Texas seems to be the new place to be if you are interested in a blazing fast Internet connection as AT&T has announced plans to deploy fiber in the city that will ultimately provide speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Known as GigaPower, the service will be an extension of AT&T’s existing U-verse program. At launch, it will be limited to 300 Mbps on the upstream and downstream which is said to be the fastest available to consumers from any Austin broadband provider.

GigaPower will initially reach tens of thousands of customers throughout Austin and the surrounding areas later this year. Those that sign up for the 300 Mbps service will be upgraded to speeds up to 1 gigabit per second at no extra cost when it becomes available in mid-2014.

Dave Nichols, President of AT&T Texas, said Austin embodies innovation and social consciousness and is the heart of a vibrant, ever-evolving tech culture and entrepreneurial spirit. With their all-fiber U-verse services, they are building the foundation for a new wave of innovation for Austin’s consumers, businesses and civic and educational institutions, he said.

Google Fiber is already available in Kansas City, and Google is now running ads for the service in Provo, Utah, where it will launch in mid-October. The service has generated a lot of buzz, and AT&T is hoping that it can overcome some of this in Austin by coming out first.

The fee for Google Fiber is $70 per month for Internet service and $120 per month with a TV bundle. For comparison, Verizon’s 500 megabit-per-second service is only available for homes in a phone and TV package for $309.99 per month.

Google may have an advantage with Fiber by starting from scratch and installing a brand new fiber optic network. This allows all Fiber customers to experience the same speeds. AT&T will instead by tapping into an existing network of fiber optics and copper lines, meaning that not everyone will get the same speed.

AT&T said this is just the start of its super high-speed services, but did not state where it plans to go next.

Thank you TechSpot and IBTimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of IBTimes.

Nokia Tablet “RX-114” Approved by the FCC and Heading for AT&T and Verizon

Until now there were rumors circulating about a new Nokia tablet said to be running Windows 8.1 RT in the works. This rumor became official when the device was approved by the FCC and will become available, according to Nokia’s tweets, on the 22nd of October. The Nokia team did a good job at covering it up with a 167 page document full of measurements and technical graphs. Below are some leaked diagrams of the device along with specific references to its slate-like state.

Nokia RX-114 packs support for LTE bands 2,4,5,13 and 17 in addition to full 2G and 3G connectivity, which means both variants of the tablet will support 4G LTE.

At Nokia World, scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi on October 22nd, gets closer and while four of the six devices that were to be announced on that day day have already been revealed, details about the two other “mystery” devices are still unknown.

Thank you NextPowerUp and Engadget for providing us with this information. 

Images courtesy of NextPowerUp.

American Network Carrier AT&T Considering European Expansion

The Wall Street Journal reports that the American network carrier AT&T is seeking to expand into Europe in the near future. AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson said his company will consider making an acquisition of a European network carrier in the future stating that their are a lot more opportunities for expansion in Europe than in the USA. AT&T’s CEO said that Verizon’s deal to purchase Vodafone’s 45% stake in Verizon Wireless opened his eyes to a European expansion. It is also believed that AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile 2 years ago, which was halted by the U.S government based on competition concerns, is part of the reason AT&T are looking to expand into new markets. Currently the USA has four major network carriers – AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile – so the U.S government is unlikely to let that slide to three any time soon.

“We have pretty much written off that any kind of large-scale deal in our sector is going to get done … going from four players to three is kind of a threshold issue.”

AT&T’s plans to expand and invest into the European market certainly will not be plain sailing. Issues of differences in public policy (such as concerns over data protection) as well as the way spectrum licenses are handled could both pose obstacles to AT&T’s expansion.

Image courtesy of AT&T

Motorola Droid Maxx Developer Edition Now Available For A Hefty $649

Motorola, in partnership with Verizon, is now offering the Droid Maxx handset in a Developer Edition version. The Droid Maxx is now available for $649.99 on the Motorola store with Verizon and Developer Edition branding. The unlockable bootloader does void your warranty when activated but it gives developers and crazy phone geeks a chance to tweak and tune their handset.

The core specifications of the Motorola Droid Maxx Developer Edition are the same as the standard version of the phone. These specifications (courtesy of AndroidCentral) are as follows:

Dimensions

  • 5.41”(H) x 2.80”(W) x 0.28”(D) inches
  • Weight: 4.94 oz

Network

  • Network: LTE, CDMA/1xEVDO Rev. A (800/1900 MHz)
  • Global Network: EDGE/GSM (850/900/1800/1900), HSPA/UMTS( 850/900/1900/2100), HSDPA 42.2 Mbps (Category 20), HSUPA 5.76 Mbps

Operating System

  • Android 4.2, Jelly Bean

Memory / Processor

  • Processor: 1.7 GHz Dual Core with Quad–Core Graphics, attention hub, & 2GB of RAM
  • 4FF preinstalled SIM
  •  32GB interal memory (formatted capacity less)

Battery

  • Battery: Non–removable 3500 mAh Li–Ion
  • Usage: Up to 48 hours OR
  • Standby Time: Up to 25 days

SAR

  • SAR: Head 1.54 W/kg / Body–worn 0.32 W/kg

Camera

  • 10MP RGBC camera with quick capture

Video

  • 1080p HD Video capture, up to 60FPS
  • 2MP Full HD Recording Front Facing Camera
  • Video Formats: H.263, H.264, MPEG4, RV v10, RV v9, WMV v10, WMV v9

Bluetooth

  • Bluetooth® 4.0 LE +EDR, Bluetooth Class 2
  • Bluetooth® Profiles Supported: Stereo (A2DP), Serial Port Profile, Object Push (vCard & vCalendar only) Profiles, A2DP, AVRCP, BPP, DUN, FTP, HFP, HID, HSP, MAP, NAP, OPP, PAN, PBAP

Image courtesy of Motorola

Nokia Lumia 928 Down To $0.99 On Contract

It seems like Nokia will do anything to shift their Lumia smartphones as the lacklustre demand from the Windows Phone mobile OS stifles demand. The new smartphone from Nokia costs around $499.99 SIM-free which clearly hasn’t inspired many buyers given what else you can get for the $500 price point and the hesitant nature of people to opt for Windows Phone OS. Nokia’s latest tactic to shift some Lumia 928 smartphones comes in partnership with Verizon. On contract in the USA you can now grab a Nokia Lumia 928 smartphone for just $1 if you opt for an individual or family plan 2 year contract with Verizon.

The Nokia Lumia 928 is the newly release smartphone from Nokia boasting a 4.5″ PureMotion HD+ OLED 1280 by 728 display, dual core 1.5GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage. While this phone is probably the best Windows Phone OS smartphone on the market today we are still seeing very slow uptake on Microsoft’s Windows Phone devices as other large smartphone vendors simply refuse to use the Microsoft-built OS in favour of Android. Nokia’s amazing deal with Verizon will surely help although the popularity will be determined by the terms of the Verizon contract which are likely adjusted to account for the “free” handset.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com