NEWS BRIEF

AT&T Partners with Best Buy To Push VoIP

AT&T today announced that Best Buy will be among the first national retailers to offer AT&T’s residential Voice-over-IP (VoIP) phone service, called the AT&T CallVantage Service, in its 628 stores nationwide and online at bestbuy.com.

AT&T CallVantage Service will be available in Best Buy stores beginning this fall. According to the companies, Best Buy and AT&T will promote AT&T CallVantage Service through in-store marketing as well as print, broadcast and online advertising.

“We’re delighted to launch our retail strategy for AT&T CallVantage Service with Best Buy, a well-known and respected brand name and the nation’s leading specialty retailer of technology and entertainment products and services,” said Cathy Martine, AT&T senior vice president for Internet Telephony, Consumer Marketing and Sales.

“Voice-over IP is an exciting technology and service offering for consumers and small businesses alike,” said David Sprosty, vice president of subscription services at Best Buy.

AT&T CallVantage Service works with most cable modem or digital subscriber line (DSL) broadband connections. The service is compatible with most home computer networks and can be used in conjunction with various home network routers.

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Ubuntu Core 22 Release Addresses Challenges of IoT, Edge Computing

Canonical is pushing the security and usability conveniences of managing internet of things (IoT) and edge devices with its June 15 release of Ubuntu Core 22, the fully containerized Ubuntu 22.04 LTS variant optimized for IoT and edge devices.

Combined with Canonical’s technology offer, this release brings Ubuntu’s operating system and services to a complete range of embedded and IoT devices. The new release includes a fully preemptible kernel to ensure time-bound responses. Canonical partners with silicon and hardware manufacturers to enable advanced real-time features out of the box on Ubuntu Certified Hardware.

“Our goal at Canonical is to provide secure, reliable open-source everywhere — from the development environment to the cloud, down to the edge and to devices,” said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical. “With this release and Ubuntu’s real-time kernel, we are ready to expand the benefits of Ubuntu Core across the entire embedded world.”

One of the important things about Ubuntu Core is that it is effectively Ubuntu. It is fully containerized. All the applications, kernel, and operating system are strictly confined snaps.

This means that it is ultra-reliable and a perfect fit for unattended devices. It has a lower footprint with all the unnecessary libraries and drivers removed, explained David Beamonte Arbués, product manager for IoT and embedded products at Canonical.

“It uses the same kernel and libraries as Ubuntu and its flavors, and that is something that developers love, as they can share the same development experience for every Ubuntu variant,” he told LinuxInsider.

It has some out-of-the-box security features such as secure boot and full disk encryption to prevent firmware and data manipulation along with preventing firmware replacement, he added.

Certified Hardware Key

Ubuntu’s Certified Hardware Program is a main distinguishing factor in industry response to the Core OS. It defines a range of off-the-shelf IoT and edge devices trusted to work with Ubuntu.

The program uniquely includes a commitment to continuous testing of certified hardware at Canonical’s labs with every security update over the full lifecycle of the device.

Advantech, which provides embedded, industrial, IoT, and automation solutions, strengthened its participation in the Ubuntu Certified Hardware Program, noted Eric Kao, director of Advantech WISE-Edge+.

“Canonical ensures that certified hardware goes through an extensive testing process and provides a stable, secure, and optimized Ubuntu Core to reduce time to market and development costs for our customers,” he said.

Another use example, noted Brad Kehler, COO at KMC Controls, is the security advantage Core OS brings to the company’s range of IoT devices, which are purpose-built for mission-critical industrial environments.

“Security is paramount for our customers. We chose Ubuntu Core for its built-in advanced security features and robust over-the-air update framework. Ubuntu Core comes with 10 years of security update commitment which allows us to keep devices secure in the field for their long life. With a proven application enablement framework, our development teams can focus on creating applications that solve business problems,” he said.

Solving Key Challenges

IoT manufacturers face complex challenges to deploy devices on time and within budget. Ensuring security and remote management at scale is also taxing as device fleets expand. Ubuntu Core 22 helps manufacturers meet these challenges with an ultra-secure, resilient, and low-touch OS, backed by a growing ecosystem of silicon and original design manufacturer partners.

The first key challenge is to enable the OS for their hardware, whether custom or generic, noted Arbués. This is hard work, and many organizations lack the skill to perform kernel porting tasks.

“Sometimes they do have the expertise in-house, but the development can take too long. This can affect both time and budget,” he explained.

IoT devices need to be mostly unattended. They are usually deployed in places with limited or difficult accessibility, he offered. So it is necessary that they are extremely reliable. Sending a technician to the field to recover a bricked or not-starting device is costly, so reliability, low-touch, and remote manageability are key factors to reduce OpEx.

That also enhances the challenge of managing the software of the devices, he added. A mission-critical and bullet-proof update mechanism is critical.

“Manufacturers have to decide at the beginning of their development if they are going to use their own infrastructure or third party for managing the software of the devices,” Arbués said.

Beyond Standard Ubuntu

Core 22’s containerized feature goes beyond the containerized features in non-Core Ubuntu OSes. In Ubuntu Desktop or Server, the kernel and operating system are .deb packages. Applications can run as .deb or as snaps.

“In Ubuntu Core, all the applications are strictly confined snaps,” Arbués continued. “That means that there is no way to access them from other applications except by using some well-defined and secure interfaces.”

Not only are the applications snaps. So are the kernel and the operating system. This is really useful to manage the whole system software, he added.

“Although the classic Ubuntu OSes can use snaps, it is not mandatory to use them strictly confined, so applications could have access to the full system, and the system can have access to the applications.”

In Ubuntu Core strict confinement is mandatory. Additionally, both the kernel and the operating system are strictly confined snaps. Moreover, classic Ubuntu versions are not optimized for size and do not include some of the features that Ubuntu Core has, such as secure boot, full disk encryption, and recovery modes.

Other essential Core 22 features:

  • Real-time compute support via a real-time beta kernel delivers high performance, ultra-low latency, and workload predictability for time-sensitive industrial, telco, automotive, and robotics use cases.
  • Dedicated App Store for every device running Ubuntu Core has a dedicated IoT App Store. This offers full control over the apps and can create, publish, and distribute software on one platform. The IoT App Store offers enterprises a sophisticated software management solution, enabling a range of new on-premises features.
  • Transactional Control for mission-critical over-the-air (OTA) updates of the kernel, OS, and applications. These updates will always complete successfully or roll back automatically to the previous working version so a device cannot be “bricked ” by an incomplete update. Snaps also provide delta updates to minimize network traffic, and digital signatures to ensure software integrity and provenance.

More information on Ubuntu Core 22 can be found at ubuntu.com/core.

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Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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Study Finds Sports Is King Among Livestreamers

livestreaming sports

Events that are streamed live on the net are growing in popularity among internet households, especially live sports, according to a study released by Parks Associates.

The report, “Livestreaming: The Next Hot Video Market,” indicates that more than 40% of U.S. internet households have streamed content over the past three months. More than three out of five households (61%) were watching a streaming sports event.

The study also found that consumers who livestream spend about half their online video time watching live events.

“Traditionally, live sports programming has performed well,” observed Parks Contributing Analyst Eric Sorensen, Sr.

However, “pre- and post-event programming does not perform nearly as well in terms of ratings as the actual event itself,” he told TechNewsWorld. “These facts apply to both linear television and live streaming platforms.”

“Sports are popular because they matter when live and matter far less when watched later,” added Michael Pachter, managing director for equity research at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“You don’t care about a baseball game that ended up 12 – 2 or about a football game that ended up 49 – 14, and there is no point in watching a replay,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Some lopsided wins might have value if records were broken — Brady’s 500th touchdown or a no-hitter in baseball — but they are largely worth a lot less if watched after the fact.”

Chasing Eyeballs

Sorensen explained that live sports programming is migrating to online platforms as more rights become available.

“Numerous streaming providers continue to outbid one another for coveted sports media rights,” he said. “Sports consumers do not want to miss ‘water cooler’ moments with their favorite sports teams.”

Professional sports leagues don’t want the fans to miss those moments, either. “The leagues want to be where their viewers are and these days, that’s online,” observed Michael Goodman, director for digital media strategies at Strategy Analytics, a global research, advisory and analytics firm.

“Streaming is giving them additional revenue streams,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Amazon is paying a huge amount of money for Thursday Night Football. Streaming is also driving up the rights fees because there are new competitors for them.”

Michael Inouye, a principal analyst at ABI Research, noted that sports has always been the largest driver for livestreaming due to the nature of the programming, size of audience, and market potential.

“One issue with live streaming was latency,” he told TechNewsWorld. “OTT [over-the-top] services in the past lagged behind the live broadcasts by quite a bit. A typical live broadcast is six to eight seconds behind a live event, while livestreaming was 30 to 45 seconds or more behind.”

“Now we’re seeing more live streaming hitting the same broadcast levels — sub 10 seconds — so this, too, is making this type of programming more equitable with traditional broadcast channels,” he said.

Edge Over Netflix

Inouye observed that live sports streaming is growing as more viewers cut the pay TV cord. “Securing distribution rights is the largest hurdle but more and more streaming is often part of new deals and negotiations and as direct to consumer continues to grow, we’ll see more content going through streaming channels,” he continued.

“The strong growth in video advertising in streaming markets is also a significant driver to bringing sports and other live streaming content to a broader audience,” he added. “It’s still not at traditional broadcast levels, but it’s at least now viewed as a key complementary channel.”

Some online platforms see livestreaming as a way get an edge in the market, noted Neil Macker, an equity analyst with Morningstar. “Live streaming is something that companies competing with Netflix have been adding to packages, not only here in the states, but internationally, as well, to differentiate themselves,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Those moves by its competitors may not be ignored for long by Netflix, which is reportedly mulling over a livestreaming strategy.

“Streaming is getting more attention from Netflix because it’s having a hard time competing against companies with vast troves of intellectual property like Disney and Warner Bros. It could be a way to diversify a bit,” observed Ross Rubin, the principal analyst with Reticle Research, a consumer technology advisory firm in New York City.

“It’s also interesting, given the recent discussion of Netflix opening up an advertising tier, that live events — particularly news and sports — typically have advertising associated with them,” he told TechNewsWorld.

“It’s questionable, though, how much investment livestreaming will receive when Netflix is looking to cut back budgets and be more fiscally conservative,” he added.

An Important Opportunity

Sorensen noted that Hulu with Live TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+ are key providers that now offer live streaming services that are challenging Netflix’s leadership position in the OTT ecosystem.

He maintained that offering live streaming content is not just a chance for Netflix to acquire new subscribers, but also to retain existing ones. “Sixty-four percent of Netflix subscribers currently live stream content on other services,” he explained. “By livestreaming, Netflix could retain longer engagement with its service.”

“This is particularly important in light of Netflix’s recent earnings call announcing their expectation that they will lose millions of subscribers in 2022,” he said. “There are several opportunities for a service like Netflix to provide egaming, esports, and red-carpet premiere events as livestreaming entertainment, in addition to sports and news.”

“Netflix appears to be suffering from higher expenses and lower viewership due to increasing competition and behavioral changes as people venture away from their homes.” added Charles King, the principal analyst with Pund-IT, a technology advisory firm in Hayward, Calif.

“Livestreaming popular events could help the company bolster its fortunes,” he told TechNewsWorld.

Not for Netflix

Pachter asserted that Netflix would fail miserably at livestreaming.

“Live streaming is by appointment, and Netflix is on-demand,” he explained. “Its customers will never associate it with events that are watched live, and I think it will abandon the idea after dabbling with it and failing.”

“Netflix is grasping at straws. Its brand isn’t built around livestreaming,” added Mark N. Vena, president and principal analyst at SmartTechResearch in San Jose, Calif.

“I think many of the mistakes Netflix is making are self-inflected wounds,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Livestreaming isn’t going to help them get out of their morass.”

“The amount of content that the average consumer has access to is overwhelming, but Netflix is acting like it’s 2010, not 2022,” he said. “The amount of content available to users is exponentially higher than it was 10 to 12 years ago, when Netflix didn’t have a lot of competition.”

“Now they do have a lot of competition,” he continued. “They’re not going to be able to livestream themselves out of that situation.”

John P. Mello Jr. has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, IT issues, privacy, e-commerce, social media, artificial intelligence, big data and consumer electronics. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including the Boston Business Journal, the Boston Phoenix, Megapixel.Net and Government Security News. Email John.

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