U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Following a deal made by President Trump, the U.S. Commerce Department has given the go-ahead to Chinese telecom company ZTE to resume its commercial relations with U.S. suppliers. ZTE was told the ban would be lifted once the company placed $400 million into an escrow account and paid a $1 billion fine, part of the penalty the Department had imposed on ZTE for breaking an earlier agreement to not sell to Iran and North Korea. ZTE’s failure to make good on this agreement led the Commerce Department to ban U.S. companies from selling to the Chinese company. Continue reading U.S. Commerce Department Lifts Trade Ban on China’s ZTE

Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media Company

Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcast Group announced it will acquire the Tribune Media Company, which owns 42 television stations across 33 markets. Chicago-based Tribune also owns cable network WGN America, digital multicast network Antenna TV, and holds minority stakes in Food Network and CareerBuilder. Sinclair has agreed to pay $3.9 billion for Tribune ($43.50 per share), plus the assumption of $2.7 billion in debt. According to the Chicago Tribune, “The combined company will become a TV broadcasting behemoth, owning and operating 233 television stations in 108 markets, pending any required divestitures by the FCC.” Continue reading Sinclair Broadcast Group to Acquire Tribune Media Company

Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Under pressure from the ACLU and other advocacy groups, Facebook announced it would not allow law enforcement and third party vendors to use its data for surveillance purposes. Facebook did not define surveillance in the update to its data policy, but police have reportedly been using the social network to track protesters and activists. In October, the ACLU published documents from startup Geofeedia that detailed how the location-based, social media analytics platform tracked protestors in Baltimore, Maryland and Ferguson, Missouri. Continue reading Facebook Data Policy Update Will Curb Surveillance of Users

Amazon Receives FAA Approval to Test Drones in Open Spaces

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Amazon’s request to test drones outdoors. The FAA is stipulating that the tests be conducted only during the day and no higher than 400 feet off the ground. Amazon is hoping that unmanned aerial vehicles may be used for a future 30-minute package delivery service, and the open-space testing would help in its development efforts. During testing, Amazon will report to the FAA regarding the number of flights, any software issues and related data. Continue reading Amazon Receives FAA Approval to Test Drones in Open Spaces

Prime Now Delivery Service Expands to Baltimore and Miami

Amazon’s Prime Now one-hour delivery service, which launched last year in Manhattan as a benefit to Prime members and recently expanded to more New York neighborhoods, is now available in select areas of Baltimore and Miami. From 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, seven days a week, the service offers free two-hour delivery, and one-hour delivery in select zip codes for a $7.99 charge. Prime members interested in the ultrafast delivery service can download the Prime Now app, available for iOS and Android. Continue reading Prime Now Delivery Service Expands to Baltimore and Miami

Senate Majority Leader Offers Support for Open Internet Rules

Senate Majority Leader and Nevada Democrat Harry Reid explained in a letter Monday that he would support “any Open Internet rules” passed by federal regulators. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed rules that would allow companies such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to charge more for faster Internet access. Meanwhile, opponents view such arrangements as a direct threat to net neutrality. Reid’s letter could help provide cover for the FCC in regulating Web services similar to a utility. Continue reading Senate Majority Leader Offers Support for Open Internet Rules

NASA Sets Data Transmission Record Between Earth and Moon

NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) uses a pulsed laser beam to transmit data from Earth to the moon. The record-setting laser recently made history by sending data 239,000 miles at a download speed of 622 megabits per second (Mbps). Radio frequency has been the main method of communication, but does not have the data capacity and speed of laser. If the laser program is successful, NASA plans to use it on future missions. Continue reading NASA Sets Data Transmission Record Between Earth and Moon