FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

As data usage soars during the coronavirus pandemic, the big carriers are seeing their 4G LTE networks stressed to the max. On Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission gave permission to T-Mobile to use 600MHz spectrum on loan from Dish, Comcast, NewLevel and other companies for 60 days. In fact, Dish is allowing AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to utilize some of its unused spectrum to enhance and speed up their 4G LTE networks. AT&T customers, for example, could see an “up to 20Mbps uptick in data performance.” Continue reading FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

In response to precautions being taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres announced that, as of yesterday, it is closing its U.S. locations for at least 6-12 weeks while remaining flexible to comply with CDC and government guidelines. “AMC Stubs A-List members will automatically have their accounts paused” for the period of closure (without billing or payments), while film fans “are encouraged to continue the AMC movie-watching experience through AMC Theatres On Demand.” AMC joins Regal Cinemas, which announced earlier that it would be closing all its theater locations “until further notice.” Continue reading Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

The coronavirus is hitting the National Association of Theatre Owners particularly hard, as local governments close movie theaters and consumers turn to streaming services. Regal Cinemas announced it is closing all its theaters, effective today, until further notice. Meanwhile, studios are reconsidering the exclusive 90-day window for theatrical exhibition. Universal Pictures is the the first major studio to announce a change to the traditional model. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Continue reading Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Due to the coronavirus, Apple closed its retail stores outside of mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The move will shutter 450 stores in 21 countries until March 27. Apple chief executive Tim Cook noted that, “the most effective way to minimize risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance.” Employees of the stores will continue to be paid. The company is also paying special attention to apps related to the coronavirus, to weed out misinformation and inappropriate content. Continue reading Apple Closes its Retail Stores, Vets Apps Related to COVID-19

Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

As more companies ask employees to work from home due to the global spread of the coronavirus, Google, Microsoft and Zoom have responded by providing their workplace software for free. Microsoft’s Teams saw a 500 percent increase in meetings, calls and conference usage in China since the end of January, and demand is rising in the U.S. as work-from-home policies are instituted. Many Microsoft employees have been instructed to work from home and, last week, their Teams chat volume rose 50 percent, with video/audio meetings up 37 percent from a week earlier. Continue reading Work-at-Home Software on the Rise Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Coronavirus: NAB 2020, Tech & Engineering Emmys Canceled

On March 11, NAB president/chief executive Gordon Smith announced that the NAB Show 2020 would be canceled. The NAB Show, which would have taken place April 18-22 in Las Vegas, gathers over 100,000 media, entertainment and technology professionals from all over the world. In a letter to the community, Smith wrote that the organization has been “carefully monitoring coronavirus developments both domestically and globally over the past few weeks.” Additionally, the NATAS Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards dinner was been moved to October. Continue reading Coronavirus: NAB 2020, Tech & Engineering Emmys Canceled

E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

The Entertainment Software Association announced that E3 2020, slated for June 9-11 in Los Angeles, has been canceled. “After careful consultation with our member companies regarding the health and safety of everyone in our industry — our fans, our employees, our exhibitors and our longtime E3 partners — we have made the difficult decision to cancel E3 2020,” explained ESA in a statement. “Following increased and overwhelming concerns about the COVID-19 virus, we felt this was the best way to proceed during such an unprecedented global situation.”  Continue reading E3 Joins Growing List of Canceled Media & Technology Events

EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

As the European Union readies to release new rules to govern digital platforms, Big Tech chief executives have made the trip to Brussels to add to the discussion on artificial intelligence. Alphabet chief executive Sundar Pichai, for example, noted during his trip to Brussels that, “while AI promises enormous benefits for Europe and the world, there are real concerns about the potential negative consequences.” With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU has set a standard that others look to follow. Continue reading EU Plans to Propose New Regulations on Artificial Intelligence

Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

According to six sources, in response to FBI concerns, Apple dropped the plan to allow iPhone users to encrypt backups in its iCloud service. Although this took place two years ago, it is just now being reported. Stress between Apple’s stance on privacy and law enforcement’s push to have access to its phones re-emerged a few weeks ago when a Saudi Air Force officer killed three Americans at Naval Air Station Pensacola. U.S. attorney general William Barr and President Donald Trump urged Apple to unlock the killer’s two iPhones. Continue reading Apple Drops iCloud Encryption Plan Based on FBI Concerns

All About You: CES Products Highlight Personal Experiences

The display of Sony’s 360 Reality Audio at CES 2020 just might summarize the entire show: a personalized experience in a 360-degree spherical sound field, exactly as intended by artists and creators. Listeners optimize Sony’s object-based spatial audio technology with an app that captures an image and then analyzes their ears. With the app connected to one of the select new Sony headphones and a premium music service such as Deezer, nugs.net, and TIDAL they will hear individual instruments, vocals, and even the audience placed in the sound field. Continue reading All About You: CES Products Highlight Personal Experiences

CES 2020: Two Startups Debut Object Detection Solutions

The ETC team found two interesting object detection startups at CES’s Eureka Park: Italian company ARIA Sensing, which claims to manufacture “the world’s smallest UWB [Ultra-Wideband] radar” for offering “unparalleled detection performances” — and French startup Ingenious Things, which is promoting what it describes as “the first IoT tracker for less than $1.” ARIA Sensing has developed a 13mm x 15mm postage stamp size chip that is able to detect small movements, gestures and even breathing at distances up to 10 meters. The $1 Stick Trackr by Ingenious Things is less than 5mm thick and can operate for up to three months before it needs a new battery. Continue reading CES 2020: Two Startups Debut Object Detection Solutions

Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Senate Commerce Committee chair Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) proposed draft legislation that he said will support tough protections for consumer data and address the concerns of Democrats. Last week, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), the Committee’s top Democrat, proposed a data privacy law. The idea, Wicker continued, is to create a national privacy law that will override state privacy laws passed by California and other states. He and others believe state laws will create an unwieldy patchwork. Continue reading Republicans Issue Draft of Federal Data Privacy Legislation

Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

Google is buying wearable fitness-tracking company Fitbit for $2.1 billion. But the deal already faces antitrust scrutiny as well as concern about the massive amount of personal private health data that Google will gain with the purchase. Google stated — and Fitbit chief executive James Park reiterated — that health data would not be used for Google’s advertising business, but that might not be enough for regulators. The 12-year old Fitbit pioneered wearables before the advent of smartwatches. Continue reading Google $2.1B Acquisition of Fitbit to Face Antitrust Scrutiny

WWDC: Apple Unveils iOS 13, iPadOS and Project Catalyst

At this week’s WWDC, Apple unveiled its latest mobile operating system for iPhones and iPod touches, iOS 13, which includes faster performance, upgraded Siri, Dark Mode, advanced Photo and Camera tools, and new privacy features. The company also announced a separate iPadOS for its tablets, which features the same upgrades as iOS 13 in addition to multitasking improvements and a redesigned home screen. Apple is encouraging developers to create new apps that work across all its devices, including Macs. The company announced Project Catalyst (formerly code-name Marzipan), a set of tools that make it simple for developers to make their apps accessible on the Mac. Continue reading WWDC: Apple Unveils iOS 13, iPadOS and Project Catalyst

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