AT&T Resists Plan to Bring High-Speed Fiber to Rural Homes

AT&T expressed opposition to the proposal of subsidized fiber-to-the-home for everyone in the U.S., with the argument that rural communities don’t need anything faster than the existing service’s 10Mbps upload speeds. AT&T executive vice president of federal regulatory relations Joan Marsh defined “broadband for the 21st Century” as its VDSL (very high-speed digital subscriber line), a 14-year-old system that uses copper telephone wires for the last mile to the home. She noted the “significant additional cost” to deploy fiber to every home, saying there is “no compelling reason” to justify the expense. Continue reading AT&T Resists Plan to Bring High-Speed Fiber to Rural Homes

OpenAI and EleutherAI Foster Open-Source Text Generators

OpenAI’s GPT-3, the much-noted AI text generator, is now being used in 300+ apps by “tens of thousands” of developers and generating 4.5 billion words per day. Meanwhile, a collective of researchers, EleutherAI is building transformer-based language models with plans to offer an open source, GPT-3-sized model to the public for free. The non-profit OpenAI has an exclusivity deal with Microsoft that gives the tech giant unique access to GPT-3’s underlying code. But OpenAI has made access to its general API available to all comers, who then build services on top of it. Continue reading OpenAI and EleutherAI Foster Open-Source Text Generators

Countries Plan to Invest in New Chip Manufacturing Facilities

Due to a global semiconductor shortage, the United States, European Union countries and Japan are planning to spend billions of dollars to build chip fabrication plants (“fabs”). These countries also face the fact that more than two-thirds of the world’s chips are made in Taiwan. China is offering subsidies to its domestic chip industry, as industry-leaders Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics plan to build U.S.-based fabs, potentially aided by significant U.S. government subsidies. Continue reading Countries Plan to Invest in New Chip Manufacturing Facilities

Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

Apple will finally roll out its app-tracking transparency initiative to protect user privacy. With new software, users will be asked in a pop-up window whether they want a given app to be able to track their activities. Advertisers, ad-tech companies and app developers are preparing ways to weather the change, which could include tweaked payment models and new advertising strategies. Many experts expect users to reject tracking. Facebook plans to debut its own pop-up window telling users the benefits of tracking. Continue reading Advertisers Strategize as Apple Rolls Out Its Privacy Initiative

T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Five months ago, T-Mobile debuted its TVision streaming service. Now, the company explains that its three live channel bundles — Live, Live Plus and Live Zone — will end April 29th. That’s due to its new partnership with Google and YouTube, in which YouTube TV will “now fill the role of its live TV solution.” Customers who subscribed to one of the TVision Live packages will get one free month of YouTube TV, and all T-Mobile subscribers can save $10 on the YouTube TV monthly rate of $64.99 and get three free months of YouTube Premium. Continue reading T-Mobile Swaps TVision for Its Partner Google’s YouTube TV

Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

Verizon Media Group has three million subscribers across its Yahoo-related products such as Yahoo Fantasy and Yahoo Finance. In the future, explained Verizon Media head of consumer Joanna Lambert, the company’s media products will all be rebranded under the Yahoo rubric and reside in a subscription hub dubbed Yahoo Plus. Lambert said its non-Yahoo brands will, over time, also be centralized around Yahoo. For example, RYOT has already been rebranded Yahoo Ryot Lab and the women’s media brand MAKERS will be known as MAKERS by Yahoo. Continue reading Verizon to Launch Media Hub with Yahoo Branded Products

TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Irvine, California-based smart TV maker Vizio had its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last week, offering 12.25 million shares priced at $21, valuing the company at about $3.9 billion. Vizio chairman and chief executive William Wang, who founded the company in 2002, is focused on the SmartCast streaming platform. Among smart TVs in North America, Vizio is second only to Samsung. Vizio’s platform business grew four-fold from 2018 to 2020, to $147.2 million, with total revenue topping $2 billion in 2020. Continue reading TV Maker Vizio Goes Public on the New York Stock Exchange

Google Alliance to Speed Up Launch of Digital Wallets, Keys

Google recently formed the Android Ready SE Alliance with the goal of enabling the speedier distribution of Secure Element (SE) technology for digital wallets and digital car and home keys among other products. In Google’s Pixel phones, the SE is a Titan M chip which, separate from the phone’s processor, stores encryption keys and validates the operating system. The Android Ready SE Alliance’s device manufacturers and SE sellers hope to speed up the timeline to bring a variety of these digital products to market.

Continue reading Google Alliance to Speed Up Launch of Digital Wallets, Keys

Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Prior to a House hearing on social media’s role in extremism and disinformation, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg submitted written testimony on Section 230, suggesting that “platforms should be required to demonstrate that they have systems in place for identifying unlawful content and removing it.” Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act holds that platforms are not liable for content posted by their users. In a bipartisan effort, lawmakers are pushing for change. “Our nation is drowning in disinformation driven by social media,” suggested Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pennsylvania). “We will legislate to stop this.” Continue reading Congress Grills Big Tech Executives on Accountability Issues

Fidelity Reveals It Will Launch Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund

Fidelity Investments plans to launch the Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust, an exchange-traded fund (ETF) that tracks the price of Bitcoin via the Fidelity Bitcoin Index. Fidelity Digital Assets will store Wise Origin’s holdings. The Securities and Exchange Commission, which blocked nine applications for Bitcoin ETFs in 2018, must approve the plan. Fidelity Investments chief executive Abigail Johnson has long advocated the market potential of cryptocurrencies, and Fidelity was one of the first big financial firms to embrace them as an asset class. Continue reading Fidelity Reveals It Will Launch Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Fund

Amazon Faces Pressure from Workers to Improve Conditions

As Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama prepare to vote this month on whether to unionize, the Big Tech company is getting pressure from its staff worldwide to improve working conditions. President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders have expressed support for unionizing the Alabama warehouse and workers have already cast “thousands of votes.” Meanwhile, Amazon deleted hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers’ profiles from the internal online staff directory, which has some charging the company with union busting. Continue reading Amazon Faces Pressure from Workers to Improve Conditions

More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

One lesser-known story of COVID-19’s impact on the entertainment industry is how brands have turned to filmmaking. “The Day Sports Stood Still,” a documentary about the NBA shutdown, started as an idea that NBA player Chris Paul brought to producer Brian Grazer and his Imagine Entertainment. The documentary, which debuted on HBO and HBO Max, also drew in Nike’s production entity Waffle Iron Entertainment. “The best partnership you can have is a marriage where the themes between the company and the story are aligned,” said Grazer. Continue reading More Brands Consider TV/Film Sponsorship in COVID-19 Era

Intel to Spend $20B on New Chipmaking Factories in Arizona

Intel’s new chief executive Patrick Gelsinger committed $20 billion to build two new semiconductor manufacturing plants in Arizona. Over the years, Intel has failed to keep up with the miniaturization of transistors, giving Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Samsung Electronics the lead. These two companies now make chips for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), Amazon, Apple, and Nvidia but Gelsinger — who hopes for federal incentives — vowed to regain enough ground with the new factories to rival them. Continue reading Intel to Spend $20B on New Chipmaking Factories in Arizona

GameStop’s Changes Include Its Digital Transformation Push

GameStop shares dropped during the last quarter after skyrocketing during an earlier trading frenzy but its e-commerce sales rose 175 percent, representing more than a third of its sales in the period. The Texas-based company is pushing its transformation from brick-and-mortar to digital, naming a new operating chief, former Amazon exec Jenna Owens, and promising additional new hires. In addition to less foot traffic due to COVID-19, GameStop is also impacted by the trend towards game subscription services and free-to-play games. Continue reading GameStop’s Changes Include Its Digital Transformation Push

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC, SMPTE Collaborate on AI Standards

Yves Bergquist, director of ETC@USC’s AI & Neuroscience in Media Project, described how ETC’s task force is working in concert with SMPTE to develop standards for AI and machine learning (ML) in the media and entertainment industry. During the HPA Tech Retreat, Bergquist noted how the two organizations successfully collaborated to develop standards in digital cinema, interoperable media, and cloud production. “We thought it was an opportunity to step up and help the media community better understand the scope of the AI technology,” he said. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC, SMPTE Collaborate on AI Standards

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