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More Than 200 Tech Companies Ask FCC To Keep Net Neutrality

November 29, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

More than 200 firms, including AirBnb, Reddit and Twitter, are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to rethink its plan to repeal its net neutrality regulations.

In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Monday, the companies asked the agency to reverse course and scrap plans to roll back most of the Obama-era regulations that prevent broadband providers from messing with your internet access. The letter, released to coincide with Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day in the US, argues that blocking or slowing online content would hurt the US economy.

“The internet is increasingly where commerce happens,” the companies said in the letter. “This would put small and medium-sized businesses at a disadvantage and prevent innovative new ones from even getting off the ground.”

The letter cited figures showing Americans spent $3.5 billion on Cyber Monday last year, a 10 percent increase over the previous year’s peak online shopping day.

The letter came about a week after Pai unveiled plans to dismantle the 2015 regulation that requires all internet content be treated equally. The rules banned broadband providers from “throttling” traffic. They also prohibited providers from offering so-called fast lanes to companies willing to pay extra to reach consumers more quickly than competitors.

“An internet without net neutrality protections would be the opposite of the open market, with a few powerful cable and phone companies picking winners and losers instead of consumers,” the companies said in the letter.

The FCC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FCC is expected to vote on Pai’s proposal at the commission’s next meeting on Dec. 14.

Republic Wireless Building It’s Own Smart Speaker System

November 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Phone calls are still new features for both the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers, both of which focused on music and house controls before adding calling.

Wireless carrier Republic Wireless announced plans to take the opposite approach, saying it will enter the space with a speaker that appears to be all about phone calls.

The Anywhere HQ is the company’s first hardware product. It’s an LTE-connected speaker that can be used to make calls, as well as issue commands.

Like “Alexa” on Echo and “OK Google” on Google Home, Anywhere HQ will require customers to use a start phrase — something like “OK Republic” — before it will make a call.

The speaker itself has volume and mute controls on top and a full number pad underneath.

Republic, a mobile virtual network operator that runs on Sprint, T-Mobile and Wi-Fi, said the speaker also has a built-in smart assistant and works with a customer’s phone number.

Anywhere HQ is part of Republic Wireless’ Labs program, where it’s being tested. Pricing and availability aren’t yet available, and the fine print on the announcement says that it can’t be sold until it obtains authorization from the Federal Communications Commission.

Republic Wireless didn’t immediately return a request for comment about further details.

Sprint, T-Mobile Ends Merger Talks

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc announced they have discontinued merger talks to create a stronger U.S. wireless to rival to market leaders, leaving No. 4 provider Sprint to engineer a turnaround on its own.

The announcement marks the latest failed attempt to combine the third- and fourth-largest U.S. wireless carriers, as Sprint parent SoftBank Group Corp, and T-Mobile parent, Deutsche Telekom AG, show an unwillingness to part with their prized U.S. telecom assets.

The companies’ unusual step of making a joint announcement on the canceled negotiations could indicate they still recognize the merits of a merger and could keep the door open for potential future talks.

The companies said they ended talks because they “were unable to find mutually agreeable terms.”

A combined company would have had more than 130 million U.S. subscribers, behind Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc.

John Legere, president and chief executive of T-Mobile, said in the statement that the prospect of combining with Sprint was compelling but “we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile’s shareholders compared to our outstanding stand-alone performance and track record.”

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said that even though the companies could not reach a deal, “we certainly recognize the benefits of scale through a potential combination.”

Claure said Sprint has agreed it is best to move forward on its own with “significant assets, including our rich spectrum holdings, and are accelerating significant investments in our network to ensure our continued growth.”

Failure to clinch an agreement leaves SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, a dealmaker who raised close to $100 billion for his Vision Fund to invest in technology companies, with the need to find another option for Sprint.

Sprint is in the middle of a turnaround plan and has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs. But industry analysts have expressed concern that the company, weighed down with total debt of $38 billion, has few financial options. Even though its customer base has expanded under CEO Claure, growth has been driven by heavy discounting.

Claure said in August that while Sprint could sustain itself, cost savings from a transaction were significantly better than remaining a standalone entity.

Analysts said an end to talks to T-Mobile would leave debt-laden Sprint without the scale needed to invest in its network and to compete in a saturated market.

Sprint has sought to strengthen its balance sheet by cutting costs. To shore up cash over the past two years, the company has already mortgaged a portion of its airwaves and equipment through sale leaseback deals.

Mark Stodden, telecom analyst at Moody‘s, said “To really take the kind of next step from a business that has been stabilized to a business that has been growing is going to require a new more intense investment phase.”

T-Mobile is a better position than Sprint as a standalone company, analysts have said. German majority owner Deutsche Telekom, which owns roughly 65 percent of the U.S. carrier, was the first major carrier to eliminate two-year contracts, a shift quickly embraced by consumers and copied by competitors. The company has also badgered rivals with its unlimited data plans.

Deutsche Telekom CEO Tim Höttges said in a statement on Saturday that T-Mobile has a “strong basis for growth in the upcoming years.”

AT&T, Time Warner Merger Deal Fate Still Uncertain At DOJ

November 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Will it or won’t it? That’s the question hanging over a megadeal between AT&T and Time Warner Cable valued at $85 billion as of last year.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the US Department of Justice is looking into how it would build a case against the acquisition in federal court, if it comes to that. Sources told the Journal that the regulatory agency is just as likely to reach a settlement with the companies that would let the deal go forward without running afoul of antitrust law.

At the heart of the Justice Department’s quandary is whether AT&T, the second-biggest wireless carrier in the US, will create a monopoly by buying Time Warner, the second-biggest cable company in the US. Combining the companies would place two huge consumer markets under one banner, making it so more consumers would pay all their bills for internet access and cable television to the same company.

Market analysts predicted smooth sailing for the deal, and the possibility of a lawsuit makes things more uncertain, according to the Journal.

  “When the DOJ reviews any transaction, it is common and expected for both sides to prepare for all possible scenarios,” AT&T said in a statement, noting that “vertical” mergers are always approved because they don’t eliminate competitors from the marketplace. “While we won’t comment on our discussions with DOJ, no reason in the law or the facts why this transaction should be an exception.”

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Deal Is Close To Being Announced

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

As things stand now, a deal between wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint seems like a done deal.

The talks are close to wrapping up, according to Bloomberg, which pegs an announcement coming by the end of the month, likely during one of the companies’ earnings reports. The two sides are just deciding on the final exchange ratio for the stock swap deal, the report says.

merger would bring together the third (T-Mobile) and fourth (Sprint) largest wireless carriers in the nation, creating a stronger competitor to Verizon Wireless and AT&T. Theoretically, their combined wealth of spectrum and network infrastructure assets could lead to better coverage, although that could take years to settle out.

The deal would call for T-Mobile CEO John Legere and his management team to take control of the combined company, according to a person familiar with the deal talks.

The two companies have flirted with a merger before. Sprint’s parent, Japanese carrier SoftBank, tried to strike a deal with T-Mobile majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom back in 2014, but dropped its attempt when the government signaled that it favored four national competitors. The odds might be better now under a more business-friendly Trump administration.

Even as separate, smaller entities, both companies have made an impact on the industry over the last few years. T-Mobile eliminated contracts and phone subsidies and last year led the push to bring unlimited plans back to the industry in a bigger way. Sprint introduced the concept of a phone leasing plan and this year began offering a year of its service for free.

T-Mobile declined to comment. A Sprint spokesman wasn’t available for comment.

Google Has Unique Way To Provide Cell Service To Puerto Rico

October 9, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced that it has approved Alphabet Inc’s application to provide emergency cellular service to Puerto Rico through balloons.

 In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has struggled to regain communications services. The FCC said on Friday that 83 percent of cell sites remain out of service, while wireless communications company are deploying temporary sites.

Alphabet, which announced its Project Loon in 2013 to use solar-powered, high-altitude balloons to provide internet service in remote regions, said in an FCC filing it was working to “support licensed mobile carriers’ restoration of limited communications capability” in Puerto Rico.

 Earlier on Friday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced he was forming a Hurricane Recovery Task Force with an emphasis on addressing challenges facing Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“It is critical that we adopt a coordinated and comprehensive approach to support the rebuilding of communications infrastructure and restoration of communications services,” Pai said in statement.

Separately, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a Twitter posting late on Friday that he had a “great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities. Next steps soon to follow.”

Musk, the chief executive of Tesla Inc, said on Friday the company would send more battery installers to Puerto Rico to help restore power after Hurricane Maria knocked out all power on the island over two weeks ago.

Musk said he was diverting resources from a semi-truck project to fix Model 3 bottlenecks and “increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.”

In late September, Tesla said it was sending hundreds of batteries that can store power generated by solar panels to Puerto Rico to provide emergency help in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

T-Mobile, Sprint Edge Closer To Merger

September 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

 T-Mobile US Inc is has moved closer to agreeing on tentative terms to merge with Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers.

The transaction would significantly consolidate the U.S. telecommunications market and represent the first transformative U.S. merger with significant antitrust risk to be agreed since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump in January.

The progress toward a deal also indicates that T-Mobile and Sprint believe that the U.S. antitrust enforcement environment has become more favorable since the companies abandoned their previous effort to combine in 2014 amid regulatory concerns.

The latest development in the talks between T-Mobile and Sprint comes as the telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, which controls Sprint, and other Sprint shareholders will own 40 to 50 percent of the combined company, while T-Mobile majority owner Deutsche Telekom and the rest of T-Mobile shareholders will own the majority, the sources said.

SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son met with Trump late last year and said in February that the Japanese firm should benefit from Trump’s promised deregulation.

Once terms are finalized, due diligence by the two companies will follow and a deal is expected by the end of October, though talks may still fall through, the sources said.

T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Talks Heat Up

September 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile and Sprint are a hot topic in the world of wireless.

The nation’s third- and fourth-largest wireless carriers are in active discussions for a merger, according to a person familiar with the talks. It could take anywhere between three and five weeks before the deal might be made official, although there’s no guarantee it will go through. CNBC’s David Faber was the first to report on the talks.

A merger would mark the culmination of years of flirting between T-Mobile and Sprint. The combined company would have a shot at shaking up the industry, sizable enough to compete with larger rivals Verizon Wireless and AT&T. But opponents of a deal say the presence of four carriers has resulted in stiffer competition, lower prices and better deals for consumers.

Both companies have made their impact felt on the industry over the last few years. T-Mobile eliminated contracts and phone subsidies and last year led the push to bring unlimited plans back to the industry in a bigger way. Sprint introduced the concept of a phone leasing plan and this year began offering a year of its service for free.

They’ve tried to merge before. Sprint’s parent, Japanese carrier SoftBank, tried to strike a deal with T-Mobile majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom back in 2014, but dropped its attempt when the government signaled that it favored four national competitors. But with a more business-friendly White House in place, the companies are attempting to get together again.

Under the proposed deal, Deutsche Telekom would be the majority shareholder, and T-Mobile CEO John Legere would run the company with his management team. SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son would have a minority stake in the combined company.

Wall Street analysts and industry players have long called for the two to combine in an effort to challenge Verizon and AT&T. A combination would mean a heftier customer base and could lead to more retail outlets across the country and greater oomph in bargaining for network equipment at a lower price.

Millions Of Users Info Left Exposed By Time Warner Cable

September 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

More than four million records of users of Time Warner Cable’s MyTWC app were discovered unsecured on an Amazon server last month, according to digital security research center Kromtech Security Center.

The files — more than 600 gigabytes in size containing sensitive information such as transaction ID, user names, Mac addresses, serial numbers, account numbers — were discovered on Aug. 24 without a password by researchers of Kromtech.

“A vendor has notified us that certain non-financial information of legacy Time Warner Cable customers who used the MyTWC app became potentially visible by external sources,” Charter Communications Inc,  Time Warner Cable’s parent, said in an email.

The information was removed immediately after the discovery and the incident is being investigated, Charter said.

The breach was eventually linked to BroadSoft Inc, a communications company, whose unit developed the MyTWC app.

Broadsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

AT&T May Be Planning On Ditching Home Security Business

August 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

AT&T Inc is mulling over options for its Digital Life home security business, including selling it, as it seeks to pay down debt following its planned $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc, people familiar with the matter said.

The sale would be an about-face for AT&T, which entered the U.S. home security market with the introduction of Digital Life in 2013. The service offers customers sensors and cameras so they can monitor their homes and pets on their phones.

Digital Life accounted for a tiny fraction of AT&T’s $163.8 billion in revenue in 2016. It is estimated to have between 400,000 and 500,000 customers and may fetch close to $1 billion in a sale, the sources said.

While this would do little to reduce AT&T’s debt, which totaled $143.7 billion on June 30, the sale could be a prelude to more divestitures, the sources added.

 They requested anonymity because the deliberations are confidential. AT&T declined to comment.

“AT&T will carry an incredible debt load (after the Time Warner deal closes), which is a risky proposition for a company with declining revenues,” MoffettNathanson research analyst Craig Moffett said in an email. “They will almost certainly have to find assets to sell to appease the bond rating agencies.”

AT&T has said it expects the Time Warner acquisition to close by the end of the year. The deal is currently under antitrust review by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Digital Life reaches 80 U.S. markets, including large cities such as Chicago and New York, but it has not matched the scale of U.S. cable company Comcast Corp’s rival service. Comcast introduced its Xfinity Home service in 2012 and said this year that it was approaching 1 million customers.

Cable operators turned to home security services a few years ago for a new revenue stream and as a way to rebuild margins whittled away by swelling programming costs.

Buyout firms and home security companies may show interest in the AT&T unit, the sources said. Private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC, for example, bought home security company ADT Corp for about $7 billion in 2016 and merged it with smaller U.S. peer Protection 1.

Are VPNs The Absolute Privacy Measure

August 11, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

So between the newly-announced Data Protection Bill and the expected destruction of net neutrality, you’re probably feeling a bit vulnerable right now.

You’ve got nothing to hide as such, you’re just someone who appreciates the boundaries of what ‘the man’ knows about you. You accept it’ll break Cortana, but you know… that’s just a bonus.

All the conventional wisdom seems to be to get a hosted VPN. The idea is that it will divert all your traffic to somewhere anonymous… somewhere far away… and encrypt it.

But, just as we are now realising that the “wife anniversary present mode” in browsers is really not that effective, perhaps we need to start taking a closer look at VPNs too. And there are two reasons.

Firstly, when we agree to a VPN we’re putting our trust in the hands of that VPN provider. And there are a lot. Some, for example, offer fantastic deals on “lifetime access”.

But are they really doing what they say? The short answer is, in a lot of cases, no. RestorePrivacy took a look and found that quite often data that was supposed to be carried anonymously simply wasn’t, and in many cases, where you pick a country that you’d like your IP to show in, quite often you’ll find, under the hood, you’re connected to a completely different one.

HideMyAss, one of the more popular services, openly admits that some of its country specific servers have been “virtualised”. Others, like ExpressVPN, were claiming to connect to countries all across Asia, which were in fact, actually all in Singapore.

PureVPN meanwhile, actually hosts its Azerbaijan server in Edinburgh, says the study.

It’s not just about honesty. It’s about the safety of your data. If you are running your data through one country’s servers because of its stance, and in fact, you’re using another, you could be completely violating the wrong set of laws.

Take the PureVPN example – the consequences of using the Pirate Bay in the UK rather than Azerbaijan are more serious, if you were found out, of course.

All of which makes choosing a VPN something of a risky business. Firstly, let’s make it clear – no free ones. They’re bound to be shonky. You get what you pay for. We’re not in the business of recommending anyone in this article, but we’d say that often if the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

But wait. There’s a second issue. We talk about how VPNs stop you leaving footprints. Well, they don’t. They just make it a damn sight harder.

Take, for example, you want to look at some nudey-pics on your phone. You turn on Incognito Mode. You switch your VPN to a country that will keep it nice and anonymous. But there’s a Telltale Heart and it could give you away.

Your phone’s apps are churning out (mostly M2M) background data all the time from your IP address to servers all over the world.

When you turn that VPN on, that heartbeat disappears, and pops up somewhere else in the world and continues. And then when you’ve erm… finished… you might turn off the VPN and suddenly that trail follows you back.

A determined adversary could easily join the dots from that “heartbeat” of background data that you aren’t even aware you are sending. It might be encrypted – but then it might be in the country you thought it was. And it might… not.

Yes, there’s a lot of “what ifs” to the scenario. There’s a lot of “they’d have to really, really want to”. But yeah. They could. If they could get you before VPNs, they can get you now, especially this new breed of too-good-to-be-true ones. 

We’re not saying VPNs are bad. But remember, they’re not foolproof. The data may be anonymized, but your unique heartbeat simply moves. You’re never completely off-grid.

It’s not about to affect our privacy tomorrow, but there’s a danger that VPNs are seen as a holy grail. They’re not. They’re not even close. So let’s not get complacent.


Google Asked To Provide Details On How It Tracks Your Purchases

August 3, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Privacy advocates are questioning Google’s assurances that it’s protecting consumer privacy when it tracks the success of online ad campaigns into ringing up sales in physical stores.

The advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a formal complaint with the US Federal Trade Commission that asks the agency to begin an investigation into Google’s “in-store tracking algorithm.” The algorithm lets the search giant tell advertisers how well their marketing campaigns are working in offline sales.

The Store Sales Management program, which Google began testing in May, allows it to tell an advertiser how many people who clicked on an ad actually bought something. For example, it could tell Home Depot or Walmart what percentage of people who clicked on an ad for grills went to a store to buy one. The company gets credit card and other financial information from data brokers and marries it with its own online tracking software.

Giving marketers insight into how their online ads translate into physical store sales is difficult to do. Privacy advocates, like EPIC, worry information gleaned from these databases could reveal more about people’s private lives than they realize. That information could include medical conditions, religious and political affiliations, and other personal details. They want to make sure the data is protected because of Google’s advertising and consumer reach.

Google says all the data it collects is anonymized, so it never sees individual transaction data. The company says it matches transactions with Google ads in a “secure and privacy-safe way.” Google hasn’t said how it’s doing this.

EPIC says it doesn’t take Google on its word alone. It wants the company to explain what data on credit and debit card purchases it’s accessing, how it’s getting the information and what encryption it’s using to ensure user data remains anonymous.

“Here we have the largest company on the internet which has access to millions of people’s browsing histories and 70 percent of credit card records and they’re linking these things together and saying, ‘Don’t worry about this, we’ve got it covered,'” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of EPIC. “We think it’s reasonable to be concerned. And we’d like the FTC to do an independent investigation into how this data is de-identified.”

In its complaint, EPIC alleges Google is using a type of “double-blind” encryption known as CryptDB, which was developed by MIT researchers in 2011 with partial funding from Google. It argues this technology isn’t entirely secure.

A Google spokeswoman said the company isn’t using this encryption technology, but declined to give further information on how Google’s system works.

“Our researchers spent years working on a privacy-preserving methodology to measure the impact of advertisements on store sales,” the spokeswoman said in an email. “Our research will show that we are using cryptographic techniques in new ways and at scale.”

She said the company is planning to share this research in the coming months.

Charter Communications Squash Sprint Acquisition Rumors

August 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

U.S. cable operator Charter Communications Inc has denied interest in buying U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp, leaving the latter’s majority owner, SoftBank Group Corp, pondering how to orchestrate a merger.

A merger of Charter and Sprint would create a telecommunications powerhouse, providing a one-stop shop for customers looking for internet and mobile phone services, and giving the combined company a stronger footing in creating the infrastructure required for so-called 5G wireless technology.

SoftBank Chief Executive Masayoshi Son is considering making an acquisition offer for Charter, which has a market capitalization of $101 billion and another $60 billion in debt, as early as this week, a person familiar with the matter said on Sunday, in what would be by far the Japanese telecommunications conglomerate’s biggest ever deal.

SoftBank remains interested in merging Sprint with T-Mobile US Inc, another U.S. wireless carrier controlled by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG, with which Sprint held deal negotiations earlier this year, the source added.

The source asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. SoftBank declined to comment.

“We understand why a deal is attractive for SoftBank, but Charter has no interest in acquiring Sprint,” a Charter spokesman said in an emailed statement on Sunday. He declined to comment on whether Charter would entertain a bid from SoftBank and at what price.

Sprint and T-Mobile could not be immediately reached for comment.

SoftBank’s potential bid for Charter would follow the conclusion of two months of negotiations with Charter and larger cable peer Comcast Corp over Sprint potentially serving as their mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), allowing them to use its network to offer wireless services.

“We have a very good MVNO relationship with Verizon Communications Inc and intend to launch wireless services to cable customers next year,” the Charter spokesman said.

SoftBank’s interest in Charter also shows it is looking for alternatives to strengthen its negotiating hand in Sprint’s negotiations with T-Mobile, analysts said.

FCC Tightens Rules Regarding ‘Robocalls’

July 17, 2017 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

The Federal Communications Commission intends to further attack those unwanted “robocalls” and is looking at ways to help consumers block them.

On Thursday, the commission voted unanimously to evaluate a system that would allow phone companies to check if a number calling you is legit. The goal is to deter unscrupulous companies that make these automated calls from “spoofing,” or using a fake phone number to trick you into answering their calls.

A call authentication system could help improve third-party apps that allow consumers to block these calls. It could also open the door to phone companies that may want to offer a service to block unwanted calls.

The FCC has already been considering rules that would allow phone companies to block robocalls from unassigned numbers or from numbers that don’t exist.

Ridding the world of robocalls entirely is tricky since some legitimate communications are made using automated call technology, such as messages from schools, weather alerts, public utilities or political organizations. Phone companies don’t want to block legitimate calls that consumers want to receive.

The agency also voted to consider how to prevent unwanted calls after a number has been reassigned. There is currently no way for legitimate companies to know if customers who have agreed to receive their marketing calls are still using a particular number. The FCC wants to get public comment on how phone companies should report when a phone number has been reassigned and how the data could be used.

Robocalls are a big nuisance to consumers with an estimated 2.5 billion automated calls being made per month.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said robocalls are a top consumer complaint. “Americans are mad as hell” that they still get these calls in spite of efforts by Congress and the FCC to stop them, he said. The FCC said it gets more than 200,000 complaints each year concerning unwanted calls, and the Federal Trade Commission said it received roughly 5.3 million complaints about telemarketing calls in 2016.

Pai said the FCC’s latest efforts to curb these calls could make a huge difference in the volume of robocalls consumers get.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn,agreed. She said the agency must take a “multi-pronged approach, to address this persistent problem.”

The FCC has also been stepping up its enforcement of illegal robocalls. Separately, it voted 2-1 to fine a New Mexico-based company $2.88 million for making unlawful robocalls. Last month, the FCC fined a Florida resident $120 million for allegedly making almost 100 million illegal robocalls in a three-month period.

Is Google Glass Making A Comeback

July 5, 2017 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

It appears the death of Google Glass has been somewhat exaggerated, as the accompanying MyGlass app has received its first update in three years.

For the first time since September 2014, you can suck up some bug fixes to your ridiculous goggles, recently seen adorning the newly opened “Museum of Failure” in Sweden.

But not only that! There’s a new set of firmware too!

We’re not entirely sure who is still wearing the early wearable devices which despite a huge fanfare, never really got to the high street, but if you do, it’s good to know that you four-figure investment hasn’t gone the way of Google Reader.

So what’s new? Well, the biggest news is Bluetooth. Yes, actually ruddy Bluetooth support. Because it had a Bluetooth chip all along that was never activated.

This actually is quite a big deal. It means that you can now hook up Human Interface Devices (HID) such as keyboards and mice and do a bit more than the “tap and slide” controls you had before.

But who is still working on the project? Surely Google isn’t paying for the continuing development of a project that hasn’t even had a working web presence for two years?

Perhaps it’s the 20 percenters, using their free time at Google to tinker with the former favourite. Or perhaps the successor for Google Glass, oft suggested but never realised is closer than we thought.

We were told that a Google Glass 2 with enterprise credentials was on the way in 2015, powered by an Intel chipset, but nothing emerged.

It’s not like the device didn’t find fans. Virgin Atlantic used it at check in to allow staff to keep better eye contact with customers.

But before there was a drone epidemic and alleged Russian hacking of elections, everyone was frantic about what would happen when we all walked around with head-up displays.

Turns out nobody did, and nobody has. Battery life was a big problem and turning on Bluetooth will do little to improve that. But someone, somewhere clearly thinks there’s life in the old dog yet. What it all means remains to be seen.


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