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Watch Out, NSA - Here Comes the Snowden Phone
March 06, 2014
Brash startup mobile carrier FreedomPop, which leases bandwidth from Sprint and has launched several aggressive programs to help it take off, on Wednesday unveiled the Privacy Phone -- nicknamed the "Snowden Phone" -- a Samsung Galaxy SII tweaked to be highly secure. The fully encrypted device costs $189, which includes unlimited talk, text and 500 MB of data for three months.
Appeasing Consumers' Insatiable Appetite for Online Video
March 03, 2014
At nearly 30 hours per week, video consumption in the average U.S. broadband household has increased approximately 29 percent since 2010. Although the TV set remains the most popular platform, its usage rates have remained relatively constant. Eighty-three percent of U.S. broadband households participating in a recent survey reported having watched video on a television in the past 30 days.
Comcast-Netflix Deal: Watershed Moment for Web Content
February 27, 2014
The Comcast Netflix deal represents a completely new and refreshing direction for the industry. It clears away much confusion and illuminates a clearer path for growth for all companies in the battle. This deal represents a watershed moment for Web content providers. Congratulations to both Comcast and Netflix on reaching this agreement. It may indeed jump-start the next wave of change.
White House Leaps Onto NSA Surveillance Merry-Go-Round
February 26, 2014
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reportedly have submitted four proposals to reform the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program. The recommendations come well before the March 28 deadline set by President Obama. Three deal with having the data stored by some other organization, and the fourth calls for scrapping the program.
Investors Drop $350M on Dropbox
February 25, 2014
Dropbox reportedly has secured $350 million in a new round of funding to further its growth. The funding round generated at least $325 million but that figure could swell to as much as $450 million, according to documents filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It appears that $350 million already has been raised. The financing gives Dropbox a $10 billion valuation.
Netflix, Comcast Get Better Connected
February 24, 2014
Netflix users who subscribe to Comcast Internet services soon may see much smoother streaming video. The companies have agreed to a "mutually beneficial interconnection agreement" with the goal of giving Comcast's U.S. broadband customers a high-quality experience when using Netflix's streaming video service. The companies have collaborated for several months to institute more direct connections.
Google May Let 34 More Cities Munch on Fiber
February 20, 2014
Google has revealed plans to expand its Google Fiber Internet service to as many as 34 new cities. Google Fiber offers connection speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps -- around 100 times faster than the average U.S. speeds of 9.8 Mb/sec, according to Akamai -- by providing service through fiber-optic cables instead of copper wiring. Google's service also delivers high-definition television.
Comcast-TWC Merger Is All About Investors
February 20, 2014
What's most unexpected about the acquisition of Time Warner Cable is that the buyer is Comcast. Will the regulators give their blessing or block the deal? If approved, what changes can we expect as investors, customers and workers? If it is not approved, then what comes next? The cable television industry is completely different today from 10 years ago.
Comcast-TWC Customers: Be Afraid, Very Afraid
February 19, 2014
While federal regulators mull the possible antitrust ramifications of the proposed $45 billion merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, the companies' customers also are considering the fallout from this deal. Both companies have a reputation for poor customer service, and the fear is that a combination of the conglomerates may result in the achievement of a new low.
Heavy Hitters Go to Bat for WiFi
February 14, 2014
A group of 18 organizations on Thursday announced the formation of WifiForward, a coalition that aims to persuade policymakers to open more unlicensed wireless spectrum for use by WiFi-enabled devices. Members include the American Library Association, the ARRIS Group, Best Buy, Comcast, the Consumer Electronics Association, Google, Microsoft and Time Warner Cable.
Naysayers Wring Hands Over Comcast-TWC Merger
February 13, 2014
After months of being courted by both Comcast and Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable has agreed to be purchased by Comcast for $45.2 billion in stock. The deal, if approved by the United States Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, will create the biggest broadband provider in the country, with 33 million customers.
Cable TV's Chilly Customer Relationships
February 13, 2014
Quality and reliability problems have been increasing with the new digital services from the cable television industry. I am a customer of both Comcast and Time Warner Cable and have noticed the issues, and it's safe to assume other cable-TV providers are having similar problems. This may cause further harm to the cable TV industry. Can it fix what is broken in time?
10 New Pilots Sweeten Amazon's Prime Proposition
February 07, 2014
Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Studios' brand-new pilot season of original comedy, drama and kid-oriented content. New to this year's lineup are dramas from the creators of The X-Files and Harry Bosch, plus comedies from Oscar-nominated Roman Coppola and Tony-nominated writer and director Alex Timbers. In all, there are five prime-time pilots and five aimed at kids.
Dems Introduce Bills to Bring Back Net Neutrality
February 04, 2014
Democratic members of Congress this week moved to replace by legislative means the Net neutrality rules that a court decision last month suddenly rendered defunct. Lawmakers introduced the Open Internet Preservation Act in both chambers. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals last month changed the telecom and data landscape by striking down FCC rules that mandated ISPs treat all Internet data the same.
Apple TV: From High Hopes to Has-Been
January 24, 2014
When it comes to TV, Apple is starting to recede into the dark corners of my mind. Its relevance -- and even potential relevance -- is waning. A fancypants Apple-made big-screen HDTV device that seems to float in the air and function like a delightful work of art... . It not only seems unlikely any time soon, but also unlikely to really matter to anyone but rich Apple enthusiasts.
The Net Neutrality Ruling: All Sound and Fury?
January 16, 2014
A federal appeals court's Tuesday ruling on Net neutrality has sparked dire predictions: Streaming video will cost more; Internet-based multiplayer games could get expensive; and innovation might be stifled. Credo Mobile is gathering names for a petition to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler. However, nothing is going to happen for a while because "it's not a done deal," said tech analyst Dan Rayburn.
Time Warner Cable Gives Charter Cold Shoulder
January 15, 2014
Charter Communications is pursuing the acquisition of Time Warner Cable, but it seems unable to offer a price the cable giant can accept. Now, with its third offer made and spurned, the dialogue between the two companies has gone public and become somewhat nasty in tone. Charter on Monday offered to acquire Time Warner Cable for $132.50 per share, or $62.35 billion.
Net Neutrality Takes a Licking
January 15, 2014
Net Neutrality received a body slam from a federal appeals court Tuesday, but the door was left open for resuscitating the policy. In a case brought by Verizon against the FCC, the judges on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the agency lacked the authority to impose antidiscrimination and antiblocking rules on providers of Internet broadband services.
Amazon, LLBean Tie at the Top for Customer Satisfaction
January 09, 2014
Retailers performed well this holiday season in terms of customer satisfaction across multiple channels, according to the ForeSee Experience Index: 2013 U.S. Retail Edition, which was released this week. The report focuses on customer satisfaction at the company level and queried consumers about every applicable sales channel, ranging from the brick-and-mortar store to the contact center to mobile.
Verizon to Disclose Some of What It's Disclosing to the Government
December 20, 2013
Verizon on Thursday said it will release a semiannual report about the data requests it receives from the government. It is the first major telecom to make such a move. Verizon and other tech industry giants have come under fire for cooperating with government surveillance programs. Verizon and AT&T in particular were named in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
CFPB Suit Targets Predatory Online Lending Practices
December 19, 2013
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau this week put online finance companies on notice that it will not overlook them merely because they operate in cyberspace. Specifically, the bureau sued CashCall for collecting money consumers allegedly did not owe. In its suit, the bureau charged that CashCall and its affiliates engaged in unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.
Tech Firms Vie With Telecoms for Internet Infrastructure Control
December 18, 2013
Several major tech firms are making a strong push into Internet infrastructure, leading to increasingly fraught relationships with telecoms. Google and Facebook in particular have drastically invested more in Internet infrastructure over the last year, installing new undersea and underground cables, creating their own networking hardware systems, and cutting long-term dark fiber deals.
Viber Out Aims to Out-Do Skype in International Calling Game
December 11, 2013
Viber on Monday launched v4.1 of its eponymous VoIP chat application. It includes Viber Out, a feature that lets users call anyone mobile phones or landlines anywhere. Calls to other Viber users are free; otherwise, a fee is assessed. The company also unveiled additions to its line of stickers. Viber, which has 200 million or so users, is targeting Skype, which is aiming for 1 billion.
Online Record-Busting Black Friday Spurs High Hopes for Cyber Monday
December 02, 2013
More than 131 million shoppers -- or 54.8 percent of the shopping population -- are planning to hit the online deals this Cyber Monday. That is one finding of a National Retail Federation survey conducted over the weekend. For comparison, the corresponding figure from last year's survey was 129 million. "We expect Cyber Monday to be bigger than ever," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

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