FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

The Federal Communications Commission approved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, a $26 billion merger that has been opposed by numerous state attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the nation’s third and fourth-largest wireless carriers, pioneered the end of early termination fees and reintroduction of unlimited data plans. The FCC, which is dominated by Republicans, lauded the deal as likely to speed up the adoption of 5G networks across the U.S. Meanwhile, a group of state attorneys general are continuing with a lawsuit that intends to fight the merger. Continue reading FCC Approves T-Mobile and Sprint Merger, States File Suit

Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

Yesterday we reported that Jack Dorsey announced Twitter would ban all political ads, placing pressure on Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider Facebook’s laissez-faire approach to such content. As the CEOs’ opposing philosophies are generating a great deal of media buzz, screenwriter and director Aaron Sorkin published an open letter to Zuckerberg, criticizing the chief executive for not doing his part to stop the spread of misinformation on the social network. In response, Zuckerberg used lines from the Sorkin-penned 1995 film “The American President” to essentially call Sorkin a hypocrite. Continue reading Zuckerberg Responds to Sorkin’s Open Letter of Criticism

FCC Proposals Will Ban Carriers’ Use of Huawei, ZTE Gear

The FCC introduced two measures that would prevent U.S. carriers from using technology from Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE. Both measures impact the Universal Service Fund, managed by the FCC, that provides subsidies to low-income households. The first would prohibit carriers from using money from the Fund to buy ZTE or Huawei equipment. The second, under-development measure would require carriers receiving money from the Fund to remove existing Huawei and ZTE gear, possibly in exchange for replacements. Continue reading FCC Proposals Will Ban Carriers’ Use of Huawei, ZTE Gear

Tech Companies, Startups Offer Wireless Internet Options

Some big tech companies and smaller Internet providers are attempting to compete with cable companies by delivering speedy wireless Internet at a cheaper price and with fewer data restrictions. Facebook, for example, is building networking technology that will enable home Internet connection via wireless service. It plans to license the technology to Internet providers and equipment manufacturers for free. These new providers, which are targeting cord cutters, may also compete with new 5G services beginning to roll out. Continue reading Tech Companies, Startups Offer Wireless Internet Options

Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Ahead of next year’s U.S. Presidential election, social platform Twitter is planning to introduce a new policy that intends to help curb manipulated media including altered videos known as “deepfakes.” Twitter plans to create its first ever such policy regarding deepfakes and will seek feedback from the public in doing so. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services has joined Facebook, Microsoft and others in the Deepfake Detection Challenge (DFDC) and will serve as a tech partner and committee member helping to oversee the challenge. Continue reading Major Tech Firms Are Taking Action to Combat Deepfakes

Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

Continue reading Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

The Federal Communications Commission approved the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint yesterday, months after the Justice Department gave its approval. FCC chair Ajit Pai and Republican commissioners Brendan Carr and Michael O’Rielly indicated their support of the deal in May, believing that it would lead to a faster deployment of 5G. Democrats voted against the merger, and commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel argued that it would lead to higher prices and less innovation, ultimately impacting consumers. A coalition of state attorneys general are still attempting to prevent the merger with a multistate lawsuit. Continue reading FCC Formally Approves the Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

While streaming your favorite show on Netflix via an Internet-connected smart TV, your data is being collected, according to a new study from Princeton University, which found that smart TVs are equipped with data-collecting trackers. Researchers built a bot that installed thousands of channels on both Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and mimicked human behaviors like watching videos and browsing. When the bot ran into an ad, it tracked what data was collected. Researchers claim there’s little consumer awareness of this activity.

Continue reading Princeton Study Shows Smart TVs Are Collecting Your Data

Piper Jaffray Research: Teens Prefer YouTube Over Netflix

According to a fall 2019 survey by Piper Jaffray, Google-owned YouTube is now a more popular video platform than Netflix for teen consumers. The research found that 37 percent of today’s teens stream video on YouTube, followed closely at 35 percent by longtime leader Netflix. Piper Jaffray credits YouTube’s diversified content library, including a wide array of areas favored by younger audiences, such as music videos, how-to tutorials, social influencer content, and video game play-throughs. Continue reading Piper Jaffray Research: Teens Prefer YouTube Over Netflix

CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA), producers of January’s CES tech confab in Las Vegas, recently projected CE trends for 2020 and beyond after updating its semi-annual U.S. Consumer Sales and Forecasts report. According to Variety Intelligence Platform (VIP), a new division of Variety, key takeaways from the report most relevant to the entertainment industry include subscription video streaming services, smart TVs, 4K tech, gaming and 5G Internet (in addition to related networking options and VR/AR products). CTA anticipates consumer tech retail revenue will reach $415 billion in the U.S. next year, up 5.7 percent from 2018.  Continue reading CTA Predicts SVOD, Smart TVs, 5G Will Drive CE Revenue

Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit yesterday upheld the federal government’s repeal of net neutrality in the latest ruling that impacts how companies connect people to the Internet. However, the appeals court also ruled that the FCC had overstepped in its decision to prevent state and local governments from establishing their own related rules. The mixed ruling will likely lead to continued debate over net neutrality regulation, especially on the state level. It is also seen as a victory for the Trump administration, which has supported deregulation, and FCC chair Ajit Pai, who believes the repeal is good for the economy and fosters innovation. Continue reading Federal Appeals Court Offers Mixed Ruling on Net Neutrality

Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Impatient with the slow pace of overhauling corporate taxation to better represent the real profits of international digital companies, European Union commissioners propose that the EU agree on a tax if no global decision is reached by end of 2020. Up until now, individual countries have crafted different approaches to taxation. In France, former digital affairs minister Mounir Mahjoubi said he may file an amendment to a budget bill forcing these same Internet behemoths to reveal how much profit they make in the country. Continue reading Incoming EU Commissioners Plan Tax for Digital Companies

Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Amazon is strategically moving its Alexa digital voice assistant into a wide range of products, for use in many settings. Among the newly introduced smart products powered by Alexa are earbuds, a ring, eyeglass frames and even a lamp. The idea, said Amazon hardware head Dave Limp, is to allow Alexa to follow the consumer throughout her day, via such smart lifestyle devices. To enable this, Amazon also debuted its own low bandwidth 900MHz network, Amazon Sidewalk, to connect Internet of Things devices. Continue reading Amazon Unveils New IoT Devices for On-the-Go Consumers

Landmark Privacy Case: EU Court Rules in Favor of Google

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that Google will not be required to apply “right to be forgotten” rules globally. Based on the landmark privacy case, the tech giant will only need to remove links to sensitive personal data and disputed search results in Europe, after it receives approved takedown requests. The case was initiated in France in 2015 when privacy watchdog CNIL ordered Google to remove certain search results globally under “right to be forgotten” laws. Google refused and took the case to the French Council of State, which eventually turned to the CJEU.  Continue reading Landmark Privacy Case: EU Court Rules in Favor of Google

Latest Google Feature Provides Shortcut to Video Highlights

Google introduced Key Moments, a feature that enables users to find shortcuts to video highlights. A search for a how-to video, for example, will bring up links that creators have time-stamped. According to Google, the feature will also make video easier to find for people using screen-reading software to navigate the Internet. Key Moments will first appear in English for YouTube videos time-stamped by the creators. It is limited to a small number of creators but those interested can sign up for early access. Continue reading Latest Google Feature Provides Shortcut to Video Highlights

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