Communications

August Solar Eclipse Could Disrupt Roads and Cellular Networks 90

GeoGreg writes: On August 21, 2017, the contiguous United States will experience its first total solar eclipse since 1979. According to GreatAmericanEclipse.com's Michael Zeiler, approximately 200 million people live within one day's drive of the eclipse. Zeiler projects that between 1.85 to 7.4 million people will attempt to visit the path of totality. As the eclipse approaches, articles are appearing predicting the possibility of automobile traffic jamming rural roads. There is also concern about the ability of rural cellular networks to handle such a large influx. AT&T is bringing in Cell On Wheel (COW) systems to rural locations in Kentucky, Idaho, and Oregon, while Verizon is building a temporary tower in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The disruption could be frustrating to those trying to get to the eclipse or share their photos via social networking. If cellular networks can't handle the data, apps like Waze won't be much help in avoiding the traffic. If communication is essential near the eclipse path, Astronomy Magazine recommends renting a satellite phone.
Network

Comcast and Charter In Talks With Sprint To Offer Wireless Service (theverge.com) 40

According to The Wall Street Journal, Sprint's merger talks with T-Mobile are temporarily on hold while the carrier mulls over a number of potential deals with the United States' two biggest cable companies, Comcast and Charter. While Comcast is already using Verizon's wireless service under their own name, the company may want to use Sprint's network as well. Charter doesn't have a wireless phone offering yet, but the company's CEO indicated last year that it has every intention of launching one. The Verge reports: Such a deal would likely involve the two cable companies making an investment in Sprint, which the carrier would then use to build out its network, generally known to be the worst of the four major phone service providers. The Journal also reports that Comcast and Charter could make a bid to acquire Sprint outright, but it said the outcome was seen as less likely. Though they're usually an unlikely pairing, Comcast and Charter agreed in May to team up when making deals around wireless coverage for a full year. For the most part, both companies have been slowly losing TV subscribers year after year as customers shift over to online services. They see phone service as a new offering that could help to restore growth and lock in subscribers.
The Internet

'I'm Suing New York City To Loosen Verizon's Iron Grip' (wired.com) 62

New submitter mirandakatz writes: New York City is lagging far behind when it comes to ensuring ubiquitous, reasonably priced fiber optic internet access for every resident. There's a jaw-dropping digital divide in the city, and more than a quarter of households are still using dial-up. The city could be doing more to fix that -- but it's not. That's why Susan Crawford, a professor at Harvard Law School and fierce advocate for nationwide fiber, is suing the city. At Backchannel, Crawford writes that "the city's intransigence should be embarrassing to it. Instead of a plan, instead of exercising power and acting coherently, all we've got is shuffling and nay-saying. Getting information regarding access is the key to transforming telecommunications policy in the U.S. -- as well as in New York City. We must do better." "New York City is the regulator of all the underground conduit in those two boroughs -- meaning the pipes running under the streets through which fiber optic lines are threaded," Crawford writes. "At any moment, it could require that additional conduit be built where it doesn't now exist. It could require that choked-up conduit that is now decades old be cleaned and repaired. And it could require that that conduit run to every building in the city, and require that all new buildings have neutral connection points in their basements allowing many competitors to hawk their services to tenants. If the city took these steps [...] it would foster a vibrantly competitive marketplace for retail fiber-based services for everyone. Dozens of competitors. Low prices for data transmission. But the problem is that, as far as I can tell, the city that never sleeps is, in fact, asleep: It is not taking advantage of its powers. That is why I sued the city five years ago seeking information about its regulatory efforts."
The Internet

Verizon Is Killing Tumblr's Fight For Net Neutrality (theverge.com) 75

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: In 2014, Tumblr was on the front lines of the battle for net neutrality. The company stood alongside Amazon, Kickstarter, Etsy, Vimeo, Reddit, and Netflix during Battle for the Net's day of action. Tumblr CEO David Karp was also part of a group of New York tech CEOs that met with then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in Brooklyn that summer, while the FCC was fielding public comment on new Title II rules. President Obama invited Karp to the White House to discuss various issues around public education, and in February 2015 The Wall Street Journal reported that it was the influence of Karp and a small group of liberal tech CEOs that swayed Obama toward a philosophy of internet as public utility. But three years later, as the battle for net neutrality heats up once again, Tumblr has been uncharacteristically silent. The last mention of net neutrality on Tumblr's staff blog -- which frequently posts about political issues from civil rights to climate change to gun control to student loan debt -- was in June 2016. And Tumblr is not listed as a participating tech company for Battle for the Net's next day of action, coming up in three weeks. One reason for Karp and Tumblr's silence? Last week Verizon completed its acquisition of Tumblr parent company Yahoo, kicking off the subsequent merger of Yahoo and AOL to create a new company called Oath. As one of the world's largest ISPs, Verizon is notorious for challenging the principles of net neutrality -- it sued the FCC in an effort to overturn net neutrality rules in 2011, and its general counsel Kathy Grillo published a note this April complimenting new FCC chairman Ajit Pai's plan to weaken telecommunication regulations.
Iphone

'The Unwillingness To Foresee The Future' (stratechery.com) 193

An anonymous reader shares a few excerpts from Ben Thompson's analysis: Back in 2006, when the iPhone was a mere rumor, Palm CEO Ed Colligan was asked if he was worried: "We've learned and struggled for a few years here figuring out how to make a decent phone," he said. "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They're not going to just walk in." What if Steve Jobs' company did bring an iPod phone to market? Well, it would probably use WiFi technology and could be distributed through the Apple stores and not the carriers like Verizon or Cingular, Colligan theorized." I was reminded of this quote after Amazon announced an agreement to buy Whole Foods for $13.7 billion; after all, it was only two years ago that Whole Foods founder and CEO John Mackey predicted that groceries would be Amazon's Waterloo. And while Colligan's prediction was far worse -- Apple simply left Palm in the dust, unable to compete -- it is Mackey who has to call Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the Napoleon of this little morality play, boss. The similarities go deeper, though: both Colligan and Mackey made the same analytical mistakes: they mis-understood their opponents' goals, strategies, and tactics.
Yahoo!

Ask Slashdot: Advice For a Yahoo Mail Refugee 322

New submitter ma1wrbu5tr writes: Very shortly after the announcement of Verizon's acquisition of Yahoo, two things happened that caught my attention. First, I was sent an email that basically said "these are our new Terms of Service and if you don't agree to them, you have until June 8th to close your account". Subsequently, I noticed that when working in my mailbox via the browser, I kept seeing messages in the status bar saying "uploading..." and "upload complete". I understand that Y! has started advertising heavily in the webmail app but I find these "uploads" disturbing. I've since broken out a pop client and have downloaded 15 years worth of mail and am going through to ensure there are no other online accounts tied to that address. My question to slashdotters is this: "What paid or free secure email service do you recommend as a replacement and why?" I'm on the hunt for an email service that supports encryption, has a good Privacy Policy, and doesn't have a history of breaches or allowing snooping.
It's funny.  Laugh.

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's Ex-CEO, Says She's Looking 'Forward To Using Gmail Again' 187

Former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who resigned on Tuesday after running the company for about five years, appeared at a conference in London today. At the conference, Mayer said one of the things she was looking forward to in her post-Yahoo life was using Gmail again. "I am always faster when using a tool I designed myself," she added.
Businesses

Verizon Closes $4.5B Acquisition of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer Resigns (techcrunch.com) 126

An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch article: After Yahoo shareholder approval last week, Verizon today announced that it has finally closed its acquisition of Yahoo, which it plans to combine with its AOL assets into a subsidiary called Oath, covering some 50 media brands and 1 billion people globally. It will be led by Tim Armstrong, who was the CEO of AOL before this. As expected, Marissa Mayer, who had been the CEO of Yahoo, has resigned. "Given the inherent changes to Marissa Mayer's role with Yahoo resulting from the closing of the transaction, Mayer has chosen to resign from Yahoo. Verizon wishes Mayer well in her future endeavors," Verizon said in a statement. You can find Marissa in her own words here on Tumblr. It's a long list of the achievements made with her at the helm these last five years, and -- alas -- you will only read of the struggles that Yahoo went through between the lines. The deal, nevertheless, brings to a close the independent life of one of the oldest and most iconic internet brands, arguably the one that led and set the pace for search -- the cornerstone of doing business on the spaghetti-like internet -- at least until Google came along and surpassed Yahoo many times over, and led the company into a number of disastrous and costly attempts to redefine itself, ultimately culminating in the sale we have here today.
Iphone

Apple's New iPhones May Miss Out On Higher-Speed Data Links (bloomberg.com) 114

Due to Apple's complicated way of managing the supply of the components embedded in its flagship devices, the company's upcoming iPhones may miss out on the higher-speed data links that many rival smartphones employ. "One of Apple's suppliers, Qualcomm, sells a modem capable of the 1 gigabit download speeds," reports Bloomberg. "Another supplier, Intel, is working on a modem with the same capability, but it won't be ready for the iPhone's introduction, according to people familiar with Apple's decision." From the report: Apple could in theory just use Qualcomm's chips, but it has an aversion to being dependent on a single supplier, and its relationship with San Diego-based Qualcomm is particularly thorny. Cupertino, California-based Apple is embroiled in a bitter legal fight with the chipmaker, accusing the supplier of maintaining an illegal monopoly, and it's seeking to loosen Qualcomm's grip on the market for high-end smartphone modems. That's why Apple will stick with Qualcomm modems for some of its new iPhones while relying on Intel for others. Until Intel is able to offer its chips with matching features, Apple won't enable some of capabilities of the phones running with Qualcomm modems, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn't public. Apple, Qualcomm and Intel declined to comment. Apple's decision clashes with the marketing plans of a cellular industry desperate to show off faster network speeds to grab market share. The top U.S. wireless carriers -- Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. -- have declared 2017 the year of 1 gigabit speeds.
Operating Systems

Skype Retires Older Apps for Windows, Linux (techcrunch.com) 121

An anonymous reader writes: The newest version of the Skype app takes a big hat-tip from social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook's Messenger with its newest features, adding a Stories-like feature called Highlights, a big selection of bots to add into chats and a longer plan to upgrade group conversations with more features. Now, as part of the effort to get people to use the new Skype more, the company is also doubling down on something else: Skype is trying to get users off of older versions of Skype. As part of that push, the Microsoft-owned company has sent out messages to users this week noting that it will be retiring a host of older iterations on July 1. Those who are still using them after that day will likely no longer be able to sign on. Skype app won't work on the follow OS versions: Android 4.0.2 and lower, BlackBerry OS 7.1 and lower, iOS 7 and lower, Linux (Linux users must upgrade to Skype for Linux Beta), Mac OS X 10.8 and lower, Symbian OS, Skype mobile for Verizon, Skype on 3, Skype on TV, Windows 10 task-based app, Windows Phone 8.1 and lower, and Windows RT.
Verizon

Verizon Expected To Cut Up To 1,000 Yahoo, AOL Jobs After Acquisition (recode.net) 36

Verizon's acquisition and merger of AOL and Yahoo will result in many job cuts. According to Recode, up to 1,000 AOL and Yahoo jobs are expected to take place across the two companies as the merger is completed. From the report: This action is not unexpected, given that both companies have a lot of redundancies, including in human resources, finance, marketing and general administration. The merger between the two companies -- after Verizon bought both in succession to add tech and content to its mobile services -- is expected to be completed in the next week. The shareholder meeting to approve the deal takes place tomorrow. Plans to combine both companies have been in the works for a while, as the pair attempt to make a cohesive unit out of two entities that have multiple assets and also multiple problems. It will be headed by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who will become the CEO of Oath, the new name for the Verizon subsidiary.
Businesses

Comcast Customer Satisfaction Drops 6% After TV Price Hikes, ACSI Says (arstechnica.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast's customer satisfaction score for subscription TV service fell 6 percent in a new survey, putting the company near the bottom of rankings published by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Comcast's score fell from 62 to 58 on ACSI's 100-point scale, a drop of more than 6 percent between 2016 and 2017. The ACSI's 2017 report on telecommunications released this week attributed the decrease to "price hikes for Xfinity (Comcast) subscriptions." Satisfaction with pay-TV providers dropped industry-wide, tying the segment with Internet service (a product offered by the same companies) for last place in the ACSI's rankings. The ACSI summarized the trend as follows: "Customer satisfaction with subscription television service slips 1.5 percent to 64, tied with Internet service providers for last place among 43 industries tracked by the ACSI. Many of the same large companies offer service for Internet, television, and voice via bundling. The threat of competition from streaming services has done little to spur improvement for pay TV. Customer service remains poor, and cord-cutting continues to accelerate. More than half a million subscribers defected from cable and satellite TV providers during the first quarter of 2017 -- the largest loss in the history of the industry. Customers still prefer fiber optic and satellite to cable, putting FiOS (Verizon Communications) in first place with a 1 percent uptick to 71. AT&T takes the next two spots with its fiber optic and satellite services."
Businesses

The Cable TV Industry Is Getting Even Less Popular (fortune.com) 104

Aaron Pressman, writing for Fortune: It seems nobody loves their cable TV or home Internet provider. Wireless carriers, however, are on the upswing.That's the news from the huge annual survey of 43 industries from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. In 2017, cable operators and ISP tied for last place, with an average customer satisfaction rating of just 64 percent. The wireless industry was still near the bottom of the rankings, in 38th place, just below the U.S. postal system. But its 73 percent score was up almost three percentage points from last year. Many of the same companies, like Comcast and Verizon, dominate both fields, ACSI noted. And neither industry offer much choice to consumers, with most localities having only one or two cable and Internet providers. The cable industry's rating slipped 1.5 percentage points from last year, while the rating for ISPs was unchanged.
Government

Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right To Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm (vice.com) 235

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Lobbying records in New York state show that Apple, Verizon, and the tech industry's largest trade organizations are opposing a bill that would make it easier for consumers and independent companies to repair your electronics. The bill, called the "Fair Repair Act," would require electronics companies to sell replacement parts and tools to the general public, would prohibit "software locks" that restrict repairs, and in many cases would require companies to make repair guides available to the public. Apple and other tech giants have been suspected of opposing the legislation in many of the 11 states where similar bills have been introduced, but New York's robust lobbying disclosure laws have made information about which companies are hiring lobbyists and what bills they're spending money on public record. According to New York State's Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Apple, Verizon, Toyota, the printer company Lexmark, heavy machinery company Caterpillar, phone insurance company Asurion, and medical device company Medtronic have spent money lobbying against the Fair Repair Act this year. The Consumer Technology Association, which represents thousands of electronics manufacturers, is also lobbying against the bill. The records show that companies and organizations lobbying against right to repair legislation spent $366,634 to retain lobbyists in the state between January and April of this year. Thus far, the Digital Right to Repair Coalition -- which is generally made up of independent repair shops with several employees -- is the only organization publicly lobbying for the legislation. It has spent $5,042 on the effort, according to the records.
Wireless Networking

Comcast's New Wireless Service Goes Live For Current Xfinity Subscribers (digitaltrends.com) 52

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Comcast already pipes internet into millions of homes, and now it wants to take its service to the airwaves. In April, the media giant announced the details of a new service, Xfinity Mobile, that will compete toe-to-toe with Google Fi, US Cellular, and incumbents like AT&T and T-Mobile. Now it appears the company is in the initial stages of launching the service nationwide. If you're already an Xfinity subscriber, you can head to the company's new mobile website now to get started. The service is available in all markets in which Comcast already operates. Xfinity Mobile features an unlimited data, talk, and text plan starting at $65 a month for up to five lines ($45 per line for customers with Comcast's top X1 TV packages), or $12 per GB a month a la carte. The unlimited option has been reduced to $45 a month through July 31 for the network's first customers. A combination of Comcast's 16 million Wi-Fi hot spots and Verizon's network will supply coverage, and, as with Google's Fi technology, phones will automatically switch between Wi-Fi and cellular depending on network conditions. Xfinity Mobile customers have their choice of the iPhone, 7, 6S, and SE series, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S7 series, and the LG X Power.
Businesses

Sprint Sues FCC For 'Capricious' Deregulation of Business Data Services (bizjournals.com) 19

An anonymous reader writes: Sprint and another wireless company have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission for the agency's recent decision on business data services. Overland Park-based Sprint and Arkansas-based Windstream Services filed the petition for review earlier this week, seeking relief "on the grounds that the Report and Order is arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion," according to a filing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The lawsuit is based on an April 20 vote by the FCC to deregulate its business data services, among them wireless backhaul services, which are crucial for transmitting large amounts of data quickly. Sprint had supported the price caps proposed under former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, as the carrier pays companies like AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink to use their bandwidth to bridge gaps in the Sprint network during backhaul services. Although Sprint did not report the breakdown of these costs in its annual filing, the carrier noted that they are "a significant cost for our wireless and wireline segments."
Verizon

Verizon Outbids AT&T For Nationwide 5G Wireless Spectrum (theverge.com) 34

Verizon has agreed to pay $3.1 billion for wireless spectrum holder Straight Path Communications, beating out rival AT&T, which had offered to buy Straight Path for $1.6 billion in stock. Verizon's acquisition will give it access to the frequencies necessary to build a 5G network across the U.S. The Verge reports: The news that AT&T was aiming to buy the Glen Allen, VA-based Straight Path was first reported last month, prompting a bidding war between the carriers that the WSJ describes as "unusually intense." Straight Path's purchase gives Verizon access to millimeter wave frequencies that are set to be used by 5G networks across the United States, making it a useful purchase from the start. Experts have also noted that the company's owner may also be afforded even more spectrum in future auctions with the FCC, potentially giving Verizon access to the entire 39GHz band down the line.
Government

Oracle And Cisco Both Support The FCC's Rollback Of Net Neutrality (thehill.com) 136

An anonymous reader quotes The Hill: Oracle voiced support on Friday for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's controversial plan to roll back the agency's net neutrality rules. In a letter addressed to the FCC, the company played up its "perspective as a Silicon Valley technology company," hammering the debate over the rules as a "highly political hyperbolic battle," that is "removed from technical, economic, and consumer reality"... Oracle wrote in their letter [PDF] that they believe Pai's plan to remove broadband providers from the FCC's regulatory jurisdiction "will eliminate unnecessary burdens on, and competitive imbalances for, ISPs [internet service providers] while enhancing the consumer experience and driving investment"... Other companies in support of Pai's plan, like AT&T and Verizon, have made the argument that the rules stifled investment in the telecommunications sector, specifically in broadband infrastructure.
Cisco has also argued that strict net neutrality laws on ISPs "restrict their ability to use innovative network management technology, provide appropriate levels of quality of service, and deliver new features and services to meet evolving consumer needs. Cisco believes that allowing the development of differentiated broadband products, with different service and content offerings, will enhance the broadband market for consumers."
Google

Advertisers Are Still Boycotting YouTube Over Offensive Videos (go.com) 155

An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press:The fallout from the YouTube boycott is likely to be felt through the rest of this year. Skittish advertisers have curtailed their spending until they are convinced Google can prevent their brands from appearing next to extremist clips promoting hate and violence... At one point, about 250 advertisers were boycotting YouTube... The list included big-spending marketers such as PepsiCo, Wal-Mart Stores, Starbucks, AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson, and Volkswagen.

It's unclear how many, if any, of those have returned to YouTube since Google promised to hire more human reviewers and upgrade its technology to keep ads away from repugnant videos. Both Verizon and AT&T, two companies that are trying to expand their own digital ad networks to compete with Google, told The Associated Press that they are still boycotting YouTube. FX Networks confirmed that it isn't advertising on YouTube either. Several other boycotting marketers contacted by AP didn't respond.

Thursday CEO Sundar Pichai told analysts that responding to the boycott, Google held "thousands and thousands" of conversations with advertisers, and one analyst now estimates reduced ad spending on YouTube and Google could cost the company $300 million this year alone.
Yahoo!

Marissa Mayer Will Make $186 Million on Yahoo's Sale To Verizon (cnbc.com) 157

Vindu Goel, reporting for the NYTimes: Yahoo shareholders will vote June 8 on whether to sell the company's internet businesses to Verizon Communications for $4.48 billion. A yes vote, which is widely expected, would end Marissa Mayer's largely unsuccessful five-year effort to restore the internet pioneer to greatness. But Ms. Mayer, the company's chief executive, will be well compensated for her failure. Her Yahoo stock, stock options and restricted stock units are worth a total of $186 million, based on Monday's stock price of $48.15, according to data filed on Monday in the documents sent to shareholders about the Verizon deal. That compensation, which will be fully vested at the time of the shareholder vote, does not include her salary and bonuses over the past five years, or the value of other stock that Ms. Mayer has already sold. All told, her time at Yahoo will have netted her well over $200 million, according to calculations based on company filings.

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