Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Facebook debuted the Facebook Surround 360 camera for 360-degree video and VR at its F8 conference this week. The company will also freely share its hardware schematics and complex stitching software via GitHub this summer. Others share Facebook’s vision of virtual reality, including Nokia, Jaunt and Google, all of which built their own 360-degree cameras. But Facebook, by open-sourcing its plans, says chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, furthers its central mission of connecting everyone in the world. Continue reading Facebook Open-Sources 360-Degree Camera to Jumpstart VR

Layer3 Aims to Improve Cable Model, Leases its IP Network

Although cable companies lost more than a million subscribers last year and Internet viewing is booming, Layer3 chief executive Jeff Binder thinks the future isn’t about cutting the cord to cable, but making it better, with improved pictures, design and customer service. That, he hopes, will win over customers struggling to find content online and on cable. Layer3 will debut in Chicago and a few unnamed major cities on the East and West Coasts, at $80 to $150 a month, depending on the number of TVs in a home. Continue reading Layer3 Aims to Improve Cable Model, Leases its IP Network

YouTube Gaming Focuses on Live, Mobile Capture, 360 VR

YouTube’s gaming video site draws hundreds of millions of gamers watching 144 billion minutes of game videos every month, half of which are on mobile devices. YouTube Gaming content creators have posted videos on more than 25,000 games. The channel’s fans are 30 percent women, 30 percent over 34 years old and 47 percent parents. Now 11 years old, YouTube continues to evolve its gaming ecosystem, with a push to do more livestreaming of games, a new “mobile capture” feature and an emphasis on 360-degree VR game videos. Continue reading YouTube Gaming Focuses on Live, Mobile Capture, 360 VR

FCC Approves Broadband Subsidy Plan, Looks at Privacy Rules

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved a $9.25 per month subsidy that will bring broadband Internet to millions of low-income families. Three out of the FCC’s five commissioners voted for the subsidy plan, which is part of a reform of the Lifeline program and the latest FCC effort to treat broadband as a public utility. The subsidy for broadband comes at a time when high-speed Internet has become indispensible for school homework, finding and keeping employment and other essential tasks. Continue reading FCC Approves Broadband Subsidy Plan, Looks at Privacy Rules

Netflix, Not AT&T or Verizon, Throttles Speeds Over Networks

For the last five years, Netflix has been throttling speed of its service to AT&T and Verizon subscribers so they would not exceed mobile data caps and incur extra charges that could discourage viewing on mobile devices. After T-Mobile’s chief executive noted that AT&T and Verizon customers were watching Netflix at slower speeds, the two carriers were initially blamed, but denied the charges. Net neutrality rules prevent wireless carriers from throttling the speed, but those rules appear not to apply to content companies. Continue reading Netflix, Not AT&T or Verizon, Throttles Speeds Over Networks

Nielsen Debuts Connected TV Data, Adds to Television Usage

Starting April 25, Nielsen will provide data for connected TV devices, including Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo Wii. Also new is Nielsen’s Total Use of Television (TUT) that adds connected-TV device data to traditional TV usage. Nielsen research, based on data from 40,000 households with 100,ooo+ TVs and 50,000 TV-connected devices, also shows that consumers are less likely to cut the cord than add streaming services to traditional pay TV. Continue reading Nielsen Debuts Connected TV Data, Adds to Television Usage

Starboard Suggests Replacements for Yahoo Board Members

As Yahoo’s global online ad revenue is forecast to drop by 14 percent this year, and scrutiny of the embattled Internet company’s leadership continues, Starboard Value has initiated a shareholder revolt. Yesterday, in a letter to investors, the activist hedge fund introduced nine candidates to run for the Yahoo board (including Starboard chief exec Jeffrey Smith). Starboard, which holds a 1.7 percent stake in Yahoo, has called into question the leadership of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and is looking to oust the company’s current board. Starboard hopes that such pressure will encourage the sale of Yahoo’s core businesses. Continue reading Starboard Suggests Replacements for Yahoo Board Members

Streaming Boosts Music Revenues, But Not Equally for Artists

The Recording Industry Association of America reports that streaming is booming, more than offsetting declines in CD sales and digital downloads. In 2015, overall revenues rose almost 1 percent to $7 billion, the fifth consecutive year that the market grew — albeit slightly — in wholesale value. But artists and their representatives are saying that the gains aren’t being fairly shared, since many users still listen for free. In 2014, for example, on-demand streams grew 63 percent while revenue increased only 34 percent. Continue reading Streaming Boosts Music Revenues, But Not Equally for Artists

Comcast, Amazon Partner to Sell TV, Internet, Phone Services

Comcast now sells TV, Internet and phone service on Amazon.com in a new retail partnership that has been a year in the making. A new Amazon landing page — the Amazon Cable Store — sells Comcast’s Xfinity-branded bundles, with dedicated customer service for Amazon customers. Comcast, which hopes the relationship will improve its customer service image, also opened two customer call centers to focus entirely on Amazon-generated inquiries about Comcast sales, part of $300 million earmarked to improve customer service. Continue reading Comcast, Amazon Partner to Sell TV, Internet, Phone Services

FTC Goes After Paid Endorsements Presented as Commentary

As smartphone users turn increasingly to ad blockers, marketers are getting their messages out by paying Internet influencers under the table to promote their products as personal reviews and commentary. For some time, the practice was beyond the reach of the Federal Trade Commission, which made sure paid endorsements were advertised as such in television, newspapers and magazines. With new guideline changes initiated in 2015, however, the FTC is now going after violators, just reaching a settlement with video network Machinima. Continue reading FTC Goes After Paid Endorsements Presented as Commentary

Spotify, Music Publishers Settle Mechanical Licensing Dispute

Spotify and the National Music Publishers’ Association settled a long-standing licensing dispute, although neither will reveal details. Sources say Spotify will pay between $16 million to $25 million in royalties that are owed but unpaid, as well as a $5 million penalty. In exchange, the publishers will not file copyright infringement claims. The suit hinges on a rule governing mechanical licensing rights that dates back to player-piano rolls. In the digital world, the rule is just one that’s made legal licensing complex. Continue reading Spotify, Music Publishers Settle Mechanical Licensing Dispute

Users Seek New Storage and Cloud Solutions as Data Explodes

IBM estimates that smartphones and devices related to the Internet of Things will generate 44 zettabytes (exabytes to the thousandths) by 2020. To handle all that information, IBM is looking at storage solutions that combine machine learning and artificial intelligence, both of which excel at finding patterns. Other companies are looking for solutions, including Pure, which is combining flash storage and engineering to create a storage unit that currently holds 16 petabytes, or five times most storage devices. Continue reading Users Seek New Storage and Cloud Solutions as Data Explodes

FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

In a shift in the status quo, the Federal Communications Commission will take over the Federal Trade Commission’s power to regulate Internet access providers regarding customer privacy. The FCC already proposes new rules to shield users from unwanted use of their Internet data. Impacted cable and wireless firms are protesting that the rules would target them unfairly, putting them at a disadvantage against Internet service firms such as Facebook and Google, which will continue to be regulated by the FTC. Continue reading FCC Will Regulate Cable, Wireless Companies on Data Privacy

FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has a lot to say about net neutrality, zero rating, privacy and Silicon Valley companies, among other topics that he’s been facing over the last months. Although net neutrality passed a year ago, a lawsuit still challenges its legality in court, with Senate Republicans issuing a report that President Obama “inappropriately and secretly influenced the FCC” into regulating broadband providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. Wheeler begs to differ. Continue reading FCC Chairman Talks Net Neutrality, Privacy and Opening STBs

Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

By foreseeing how the Internet would dramatically change the retail business, Amazon became the digital behemoth it is today. Now the company has turned its sights to the entertainment industry, volatile due to technology changes, and is taking a deep dive into prestige films, online shows and virtual reality. Amazon recently became a major player in independent feature distribution by spending top price for films at Sundance and elsewhere. Now it’s debuted a streaming TV show and is forming a team to build a VR platform. Continue reading Amazon Pursues Indie Film, Streaming TV and Virtual Reality

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