Georgia Tech and Udacity — the online courseware project led by Sebastian Thrun — have announced a plan to offer an accredited M.S. Computer Science program online. The two organizations are also working with AT&T. This is the first time a major university has made an actual degree available solely through the MOOC format. Getting a degree in this manner is going to be much cheaper than a traditional degree: "... students also will pay a fraction of the cost of traditional on-campus master’s programs; total tuition for the program is initially expected to be below $7,000." U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, "Massive open online courses (MOOCs) have quickly become one of the most significant catalysts of innovation in higher education. As parents know all too well, America urgently needs new ideas about how to make higher education accessible and affordable. This new collaboration between Georgia Tech, AT&T and Udacity, and the application of the MOOC concept to advanced-degree programs, will further the national debate — pushing from conversations about technology to new models of instruction and new linkages between higher education and employers." Georgia Tech is looking at the big picture: "At present, around 160,000 master’s degrees are bestowed in the United States every year in computer science and related subject disciplines; the worldwide market is almost certainly much larger, perhaps even an order of magnitude larger."
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zacharye writes "The HTC First, or 'Facebook phone' as many prefer to call it, is officially a flop. It certainly wasn't a good sign when AT&T dropped the price of HTC's First to $0.99 just one month after its debut, and now BGR has confirmed that HTC and Facebook's little experiment is nearing its end. BGR has learned from a trusted source that sales of the HTC First have been shockingly bad. So bad, in fact, that AT&T has already decided to discontinue the phone. Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC. How much unsold inventory is there? We don’t have an exact figure, but things aren’t looking good. According to our source, AT&T sold fewer than 15,000 units nationwide through last week when the phone’s price was slashed to $0.99."
tdog17 writes "Verizon and MySpace scored a zero out of a possible six stars in a test of how far 18 technology service providers will go to protect user data from government data demands. Twitter and Internet service provider Sonic.net scored a perfect six in the third annual Electronic Frontier Foundation 'Who Has Your Back?' report. Apple, AT&T and Yahoo ranked near the bottom, each scoring just one star. 'While we are pleased by the strides these companies have made over the past couple years, there’s plenty of room for improvement. Amazon holds huge quantities of information as part of its cloud computing services and retail operations, yet does not promise to inform users when their data is sought by the government, produce annual transparency reports, or publish a law enforcement guide. Facebook has yet to publish a transparency report. Yahoo! has a public record of standing up for user privacy in courts, but it hasn't earned recognition in any of our other categories. Apple and AT&T are members of the Digital Due Process coalition, but don’t observe any of the other best practices we’re measuring. ... We remain disappointed by the overall poor showing of ISPs like AT&T and Verizon in our best practice categories.'"
itwbennett writes "According to a study (PDF) by the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy, restricting the ability of Verizon Wireless and AT&T to bid in upcoming spectrum auctions would drive down the bidding during the auction, and could cost the U.S. treasury as much as $12 billion. Even a partial restriction of bids by Verizon and AT&T could have a significant impact on auction revenues, said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a co-author of the Georgetown study. Matt Wood, policy director at digital rights group Free Press, fired back, saying 'No one is talking about completely barring AT&T and Verizon from the incentive auction. Sensible people are talking about making sure that more than two companies have a chance at obtaining spectrum. The fact that these duopolists hired economists to parrot the companies' own talking points isn't really that newsworthy.'"
schwit1 writes "You won't see it advertised on billboards or television, you won't hear it mentioned in a carrier store, and your less technologically-savvy friends most certainly won't know about it — but quietly, HTC's done something extraordinarily important this month: it's broken AT&T's stranglehold on its nationwide LTE network. It's a move that even Google, for all its money, power, and influence, didn't make with the Nexus 4. HTC is shipping both 32GB and 64GB versions of the One — an early contender for the best phone of 2013 — in a carrier- and bootloader-unlocked version that supports both T-Mobile and AT&T LTE. No strings attached."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Within hours of Google announcing that Austin, Texas would be the next lucky recipient of its Google Fiber initiative, AT&T released a statement indicating that it was willing to build a high-speed broadband network in the city, too. 'AT&T announced that in conjunction with its previously announced Project VIP expansion of broadband access, it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds up to 1 gigabit per second,' read the statement. But there's a not-so-slight catch: AT&T wants whatever conditions Google received from the city of Austin. Google itself has provided precious little guidance about its future plans. 'We are still in the very early stages of it,' Google CEO Larry Page told media and analysts during the company's Jan. 22 earnings call, according to a transcript. 'Obviously, we are going to a small number of people and so, but we are excited about the possibilities.' But if Google Fiber keeps expanding, it could compel AT&T and other infrastructure providers to boost their broadband service and offer it on more reasonable terms — nothing like some competition to make things a little better for the collective customer base. In that sense, even if Google Fiber doesn't expand into a national program (and imagine the costs of that), its existence will still do some larger good."
Nerval's Lobster writes "Facebook has announced "Home" for Android smartphones (and, eventually, tablets). It's something less than a full Facebook mobile operating system, as some expected before the company's presentation, and more like an app update. Facebook also announced the Facebook Home Program, which will work with several carriers and device makers to pre-load Home onto select devices, including ones built by Samsung, Sony, ZTE, and Lenovo. The first "Home" phone will be the HTC First, a $99.99 phone that will ship April 12 from AT&T. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg told analysts and journalists assembled for his presentation that Home was designed to reorient the phone and the Facebook mobile experience around people, not apps: "On one level, Home is the next mobile version of Facebook. On the other, it's a change in the relationship with the next generation of computing devices." Home essentially is a custom start screen for your Android phone, replacing the home screen with one centered on Facebook. While users can access other Android apps on the phone, the focus is on those apps that run on the Facebook platform. Home can also be enabled as a lock screen." Reader RougeFemme points out that France Telecom/Orange will be the first carrier in Europe.
In 2010, querying a public AT&T database yielded over 114,000 email address for iPad owners who were subscribed to the carrier. One of the people who found these emails, Andrew 'weev' Auernheimer, sent them to a news site to publicize AT&T's security flaw. He later ended up in court for his actions. Auernheimer was found guilty, and today he was sentenced to 41 months in prison. 'Following his release from prison, Auernheimer will be subject to three years of supervised release. Auernheimer and co-defendant Daniel Spitler were also ordered to pay $73,000 in restitution to AT&T. (Spitler pled guilty in 2011.) The pre-sentencing report prepared by prosecutors recommended four years in federal prison for Auernheimer.' A journalist watching the sentencing said, 'I felt like I was watching a witch trial as prosecutors admitted they didn't understand computers.'
An anonymous reader writes "Joel Runyon recounts a tale that will be familiar to many people who have bought secondhand smartphones. After his old dumbphone died a few months ago, Runyon picked up a used iPhone. He just needed it for basic phone capabilities, and used it as such, turning data off. However, AT&T eventually figured out he was making calls from a smartphone, and they decided he needed a data plan, even if he wasn't going to use it. They went ahead and opted him into a plan that cost an extra $30 a month. Quoting: 'According to AT&T: They can opt me into a contract that I didn't agree to because I was using a phone that I didn't buy from them because it had the ability to use data that I wasn't using (and was turned off). To top it all off, they got the privilege of charging me for it because I bought a differently categorized device – even though the actual usage of their network did not change at all and I never reconstituted a new agreement with them.'"
SonicSpike writes "AT&T U-verse customers are reporting this morning that an outage that began Monday and is affecting at least 15 states is still not resolved. Some customers were told this morning that the problem will not be fixed for at least 24 hours."
adeelarshad82 writes "AT&T has purchased the U.S. retail wireless operations of Atlantic Tele-Network Inc. (ATNI) for $780 Million. Alltel operates under the Alltel brand in several markets. The acquisition includes wireless properties, licenses, network assets, retail stores, and about 585,000 subscribers. It also includes spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz, and 1900 MHz bands, and that's likely the big draw as the carrier continues to build out its 4G LTE network. If the deal is approved by the FCC and Justice Department, AT&T expects it to close in the second half of 2013."
TrueSatan writes "Andrew Auernheimer doesn't appear suicidal, no thanks to U.S. prosecutors, yet he has been under attack for his act of altering an API URL that revealed a set of user data and posting details of same. 'In June of 2010 there was an AT&T webserver on the open Internet. There was an API on this server, a URL with a number at the end. If you incremented this number, you saw the next iPad 3G user email address. I thought it was egregiously negligent for AT&T to be publishing a complete target list of iPad 3G owners, and I took a sample of the API output to a journalist at Gawker.' Auernheimer has been under investigation from that point onward, with restrictions on his freedom and ability to earn a living that are grossly disproportionate to any perceived crime. This is just as much a case of legislative overreach and the unfettered power of prosecutors as was Swartz's case."
Carnth writes "Netflix will start releasing monthly ISP speed reports for the U.S. Google Fiber ranks at the top. They say, 'Broadly, cable shows better than DSL. AT&T U-verse, which is a hybrid fiber-DSL service, shows quite poorly compared to Verizon Fios, which is pure fiber. Charter moved down two positions since October. Verizon mobile has 40% higher performance than AT&T mobile.' Hopefully this will give consumers a better overall picture on how their ISP performs compared to others."
concealment sends this quote from MIT's Technology Review: "AT&T screwed up in 2010, serving up the e-mail addresses of over 110,000 of its iPad 3G customers online for anyone to find. But Andrew Auernheimer, an online activist who pointed out AT&T's blunder to Gawker Media, which went on to publicize the breach of private information, is the one in federal court this week. Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation worry that should that charge succeed it will become easy to criminalize many online activities, including work by well-intentioned activists looking for leaks of private information or other online security holes. [Auernheimer's] case hasn't received much attention so far, but should he be found guilty this week it will likely become well known, fast."
stox writes "As many of you know, AT&T has implemented caps on DSL usage. When this was implemented, I started getting emails letting me know my usage as likely to exceed the cap. After consulting their Internet Usage web page, I felt the numbers just weren't right. With the help of Tomato on my router, I started measuring my usage, and ended up with numbers substantially below what AT&T was reporting on a day-to-day basis. Typically around 20-30% less. By the way, this usage is the sum of inbound and outbound. At this point, I decided to contact AT&T support to determine what exactly they were defining as usage, as their web pages never really define it. Boy, did I get a surprise. After several calls, they finally told me they consider the methodology by which they calculate bandwidth usage to be proprietary. Yes, you read that right; it's a secret. They left me with the option to contact their executive offices via snail mail. Email was not an option. So, I bring my questions to you, all-knowing Slashdotters: are there any laws that require AT&T to divulge how they are calculating data usage? Should I contact my state's commerce commission or the FCC to attempt to get an answer to this?"
Charging portable devices without needing to carry a power adapter sounds handy, and it's slowly getting closer to widespread use. IPAQ2000 writes that AT&T, Google and Starbucks announced yesterday "that they have joined the Power Matters Alliance (PMA). Founded by Powermat Technologies and Procter & Gamble, the PMA's Honorary Chairman is Google's Vint Cerf – one of the fathers of the Internet — and its board now also includes AT&T, Duracell, Google and Starbucks. The U.S. Government's Energy Star and Federal Communications Commission – both PMA members — are board observers." (How does Starbucks come into it? They're "testing PMA-compatible Wireless Charging Spots in select Boston stores.")
Today several public interest groups, including Public Knowledge, announced plans to file a net neutrality complaint with the FCC over AT&T's restriction of FaceTime on iPads and iPhones. Free Press Policy Director Matt Wood said, "AT&T’s decision to block FaceTime unless a customer pays for voice and text minutes she doesn’t need is a clear violation of the FCC’s Open Internet rules. It’s particularly outrageous that AT&T is requiring this for iPad users, given that this device isn’t even capable of making voice calls. AT&T's actions are incredibly harmful to all of its customers, including the deaf, immigrant families and others with relatives overseas, who depend on mobile video apps to communicate with friends and family." The groups have sent a letter (PDF) to AT&T asking them to reconsider their policy. The communications giant has previously responded to complaints by proclaiming their transparency and saying that charging more for being able to use FaceTime over mobile broadband is a "reasonable restriction."
WIn5t0n writes "Even though AT&T has now promoted itself to the 'Largest 4G Network' (HSPA+), it is still lagging far behind in advancing its LTE Coverage. AT&T's largest competitor, Verizon, has turned up the heat on the company now that it claims to cover 75 percent of US population with LTE, while AT&T's network only fully covers a few cities. However, AT&T has recognized consumer unrest and has planned to expand its 4G LTE coverage into '48 new markets' by the end of the year. With the iPhone 5 (rumored to have LTE capabilities) likely to be in consumers hands by the end of this month, AT&T is now feeling the pressure to make sure its customers can take full advantage of their new phones on a faster network. The company's full rollout of 4G LTE coverage is not scheduled to be complete until at least 2013."
An anonymous reader writes "Remember the Internet Tax Freedom Act? The whole point was to prevent the government from ever taxing the Internet. But that's the proposal from the FCC — and backed by companies like Google, AT&T and Sprint. Would you pay a buck or two extra for fast access — or vote for someone who thinks you should? 'If members of Congress understood that the FCC is contemplating a broadband tax, they'd sit up and take notice,' said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press, a consumer advocacy group that opposes the tax."
zacharye writes "AT&T is wasting no time hitting back at critics of its decision to limit the use of popular video chat app FaceTime over its cellular network to users who sign up for its shared data plans. In a post on the company's official public policy blog on Wednesday, AT&T chief privacy officer Bob Quinn sneered at criticisms that restricting FaceTime over cellular to shared data plans violates the Federal Communications Commission's network neutrality rules for wireless networks."