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

AMC Joins the Streaming Business with On-Demand Movies

AMC Theatres is launching an iTunes-style digital video store today in the U.S. that will allow AMC Stubs members to rent or purchase movies for home viewing. Similar to the model introduced by Amazon, Apple and other VOD retailers, AMC Theatres On Demand will offer about 2,000 movies following their theatrical runs, despite the fact that chains have generally been at odds with online video. A major theater chain joining the expanding collection of studios, networks, tech companies and popular platforms already embracing this technology illustrates the impact of streaming video on entertainment media. Continue reading AMC Joins the Streaming Business with On-Demand Movies

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.

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TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Local TV station executives are increasingly aware that viewers watch content on all kinds of devices. Accordingly, NBCUniversal and Hearst have stopped using traditional ratings and switched to total viewer impressions, which will count all the ways a show is viewed. Other local TV groups vowed to do the same by 2020. At the same time, national TV executives also plan to add in those who view shows outside the home, in offices, hotels and the like, into final ratings. Nielsen has long dominated ratings of linear TV viewership. Continue reading TV Execs Push to Include Out-of-Home Viewing in Ratings

Verizon to Launch 5G Fixed Wireless Home Network Service

Verizon announced the formal commercial rollout of a 5G fixed wireless home network service in all its 5G enabled markets by year’s end. The new offering will combine the telecom’s broadband product Fios with its 5G Home product by taking advantage of their shared network architecture. Verizon plans to bring this new package to select areas in 30 cities. The move will provide the company with a pathway for expanding its home connectivity business at the same time it presents fresh options to consumers. Continue reading Verizon to Launch 5G Fixed Wireless Home Network Service

Games Are Targets for Ransomware and Credential Stuffing

Cybersecurity firm Cyren recently discovered Syrk, a free tool that allows players to cheat at video game “Fortnite.” It also learned that Syrk can disable anti-malware software and encrypt batches of user files for ransom. Akamai has reported a significant rise in so-called credential-stuffing attacks, by which criminals use stolen identities in automated attacks to break into accounts. Akamai found 55 billion credential stuffing attacks from November 2017 to the end of March 2019. Gaming sites had 12 billion of these attacks. Continue reading Games Are Targets for Ransomware and Credential Stuffing

Wi-Fi Alliance Plans to Introduce Wi-Fi 6 Certification in Fall

At CES 2019, even though Wi-Fi 6 had yet to launch, manufacturers including Asus, Dell and HP listed support for the next-generation connectivity, in order to future-proof their laptops and routers. The same approach was taken by Samsung, which debuted its Galaxy S10 in February, also with Wi-Fi 6 support. Wi-Fi 6 will offer incrementally improved speed, but its superpower is to handle simultaneous streaming to multiple devices. It’s also the first major upgrade of dual-band support since Wi-Fi 4 (or 802.11n) rolled out in 2009. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Plans to Introduce Wi-Fi 6 Certification in Fall

DOJ Okays T-Mobile/Sprint Merger, State AGs Sue to Block

The Justice Department approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, respectively the U.S.’s third and fourth largest wireless networks. Critics of the merger, who include several state attorneys general and Democratic presidential candidates, reiterated that the deal would not benefit consumers, a point of view shared, until recently, by DOJ’s antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. He considered the ramifications but changed his mind when both companies agreed to sell portions of their businesses to Dish Network. Continue reading DOJ Okays T-Mobile/Sprint Merger, State AGs Sue to Block

Tech Companies Join Forces to Ask FCC For Faster Wi-Fi

Apple, Broadcom, Facebook, Google, HP, Intel, Marvell, Microsoft and Qualcomm are all petitioning the FCC to approve a Very Low Power (VLP) category of Wi-Fi, which would allow them to take advantage of the FCC’s recent opening up of the 6GHz band for unlicensed activity. VLP would enable short-range, point-to-point connections between two devices that travel below a specific power threshold (14 dBm EIRP); they say they can deliver 2Gbps at a distance of three meters — and that VLP is necessary for the proliferation of 5G. Continue reading Tech Companies Join Forces to Ask FCC For Faster Wi-Fi

Apple to Pay $1B For Intel’s Smartphone Modem Business

Earlier this week, we reported that Apple was close to a deal to pick up Intel’s 5G mobile chip business. Now it’s official. Apple revealed yesterday that it would spend $1 billion to purchase the majority of the chip giant’s smartphone modem business in a deal expected to close during the fourth quarter. The acquisition, which will provide Apple with new intellectual property, equipment, leases and about 2,200 Intel employees, should help the company gain more control over the development of wireless tech for its iPhones and reduce its reliance on Intel-rival Qualcomm. Continue reading Apple to Pay $1B For Intel’s Smartphone Modem Business

Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

Hackers likely associated with the Chinese government broke into at least 10 global telecom carriers, stealing call logs, users’ locations and text-messaging records, according to a report from Boston-based Cybereason. The cybersecurity firm spent 2018 scrutinizing a multi-year, ongoing campaign, suspected to be directed by China and aimed at 20 military officials, spies, law enforcement and dissidents in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Cybereason believes the recent hacks point to Chinese group APT10. Continue reading Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Target Global Telecoms

FCC Plans to Reallocate Educational TV Spectrum For 5G

To create space for 5G in the mid-band spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to reallocate a block of 2.5GHz spectrum once reserved for educational TV and put it on the auction block. The reallocation vote is scheduled for July 10, with the auction planned for some time next year. Mid-band spectrum, also called sub-6GHz frequencies, delivers slower rates but better penetrates buildings and travels faster than millimeter wave signals. Crowdsourced network coverage service Opensignal quantified 5G speeds in South Korea. Continue reading FCC Plans to Reallocate Educational TV Spectrum For 5G

Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

New York-based cable provider Altice USA is planning to compete in the crowded wireless market by launching a new mobile service that offers consumers unlimited data at a $20-$30 monthly price point per phone, according to individuals familiar with the plans. Employees will test the new service, likely to be named Altice Mobile, in the coming weeks, with plans for a summer launch. The company will be joining cable rivals Charter and Comcast in offering wireless deals to subscribers. Cable providers are hoping that offering wireless service will discourage their customers from cord-cutting. Continue reading Cable Providers Hope Wireless Deals Will Curb Cord-Cutting

YouTube Launches New Ad Tool Dubbed Bumper Machine

Ahead of the May 14th Google Marketing Live event, during which the company will describe its latest digital marketing products, YouTube announced a new editing tool designed to streamline ad production. Bumper Machine, which YouTube is currently alpha testing, intends to help advertisers optimize content for mobile audiences by identifying compelling moments in video content to create packages of six-second videos that highlight key brand and product information. According to IAB, mobile video ads are steering a significant part of the digital media market, worth $107.5 billion last year in the U.S. alone. Continue reading YouTube Launches New Ad Tool Dubbed Bumper Machine

U.S. Blocks Chinese Telecom Bid for International Services

Citing law enforcement and national security risks, the Federal Communications Commissions unanimously denied an application by China Mobile USA (the U.S. arm of Chinese telecom giant, China Mobile Ltd.), which aimed to provide international calls and other services via American networks. This could be another in a series of signs of escalating tensions between China and the U.S. The crux of the FCC’s concern is that the company is owned by the Chinese government and would be therefore vulnerable to that influence.

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