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Verizon Launching 5G Wireless Network Next Year

December 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon confirmed that it will to launch wireless 5G service in up to five US cities by the end of next year.

Sacramento, California, is expected in the second half of the year to be the first city to get access to the 5G network, which promises to be 10 to 100 times faster than Verizon’s speediest existing cellular connections. Information on other market deployments is expected to be revealed later, the company said in a statement.

“Verizon estimates the market opportunity for initial 5G residential broadband services to be approximately 30 million households nationwide,” the company said.

5G networks were previously expected to arrive in 2019. The conventional wisdom is that the early examples will be for what’s called “fixed wireless” connections, bringing fast broadband to your house without the need to dig a pesky trench for a fiber-optic cable.

The announcement comes after Verizon, one of many companies trumpeting its work in 5G, completed trials of the technology in 11 US markets earlier this year. Verizon said the launch was made possible by its confidence in new technology powered by millimeter-wave spectrum — very high frequencies that can carry large amounts of data and transfer signals with minimal delay.

Verizon isn’t the only company racing toward 5G. AT&T has already tested 5G as a broadband replacement in an Intel office in Austin, Texas, and has tested its DirecTV Now video service over 5G in that city as well.

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.”

Will DRAM Growth Explode In 2018

November 6, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters at DRAMeXchange say that as Samsung looking to expand production capacity, the global bit growth of DRAM will reach 22.5 percent in 2018 compared with 19.5 percent this year.

DRAMeXchange said that for two years, chipmakers’ limited production capacity growth and technology transition challenges have stunted the overall DRAM industry supply bit growth. DRAM contract market prices began to rise in the second half of 2016, driven particularly by a seasonal pick up in end-market demand. The supply of DRAM memory has also been tight since 2017.

The average contract price of mainstream 4GB DDR4 PC DRAM modules had soared from $13 at the end of second-quarter 2016 to $30.5 in the fourth quarter of 2017.

DRAMeXchange research director Avril Wu, said: “This represents an increase of 130 percent over six consecutive quarters.”

Samsung is considering expanding its production capacity to extend its DRAM market lead and raise barriers to entry, the tight supply of DRAM memory is expected to ease “sooner than originally anticipated”, DRAMeXchange said.

Samsung will allocate more of the available capacity at its new fabrication line in Pyeongtae for the production of DRAM memory, and add more DRAM capacity to its Line 17 fab in Hwaseong.

DRAM production at Samsung’s Pyeongtaek facility will use the 18nm process and there is still room for further capacity expansion, DRAMeXchange added.

Samsung will expand its monthly DRAM output for 2018 by 80,000-100,000 wafers, and increase its total DRAM production capacity from 390,000 wafers monthly at the end of 2017 to nearly 500,000 units by the end of 2018, DRAMeXchange said.

SK Hynix and Micron Technology will also be encouraged to expand their production capacities to maintain market share,.

SK Hynix is transitioning to 18nm and has plans to build its second fab in Wuxi, China in 2018. As for Micron, the company may be preparing to expand production capacity and upgrade its manufacturing technology with sufficient working capital given by a recent rally in the company’s stock price, DRAMeXchange said.


T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Appears To Be In Trouble

October 31, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The merger between T-Mobile and Sprint may not happen after all.

Sprint’s parent company, Japanese carrier SoftBank, plans to break off merger talks, according to a new report from Nikkei. The publication cited a dispute over ownership of the combined entity.

SoftBank may approach T-Mobile’s parent company, German carrier Deutsche Telekom, as early as Tuesday to end the deal, Nikkei said. It added that the two companies had reached a broad pact but haven’t agreed who would control the combined company. Deutsche Telekom reportedly had insisted on a controlling stake, something SoftBank initially was open to but then reconsidered, Nikkei said.

A possible merger between T-Mobile and Sprint has been rumored for years but has failed to materialize. The two companies lag behind their bigger rivals, Verizon Wireless and AT&T, when it comes to the US market. Combining would give them an advantage, but critics fear having three players would reduce competition and hurt consumers.

Deutsche Telekom said it doesn’t comment on rumors and speculation. Sprint, T-Mobile and SoftBank didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

HTC Rumored To Be Launching New Bezel-less Handset

September 26, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

In terms of design, the HTC U11 is definitely different from its rivals. Instead of a more somber look, it has been given a rather bright and shiny finish, but if there was one thing we wish HTC could have done was reduce or eliminate the bezels like we’re seeing offered by the competition.

For fans of HTC who might have been wishing the same thing, you guys might be in luck because according to a report from French website FrAndroid (via GSMArena), HTC could be working on a handset known as the HTC U11 Plus that could be launching this November with a bezel-less display.

The handset in question is said to be codenamed “Ocean Master” which is something we have heard about in the past. It is said to sport a display with an 18:9 aspect ratio, a near bezel-less display with a QHD+ resolution. It is expected to be powered by the Snapdragon 835, come with 6GB of RAM, and will sport the same camera setup as the HTC U11, while also being IP68 certified and will also come with support for wireless charging.

It is a rather interesting rumor given that recently Google has announced that they’ll be acquiring some of HTC’s smartphone team, so take it with a grain of salt but with an announcement pegged for November, we shouldn’t have to wait too long to find out.

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.

Is The Server DRAM Supply Drying Up

August 21, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Server DRAM revenue from Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and Micron Technology rose by 30 percent sequentially in the second quarter as the tight supply of DRAM chips continued to lift average selling prices, according to market watcher DRAMeXchange. The firm expects server DRAM supply to remain tight throughout the remainder of 2017.

Despite product mix adjustments, suppliers had trouble meeting the various growing demands of the DRAM market, said DRAMeXchange, a unit of market research firm TrendForce that tracks memory chip pricing.

DRAMeXchange analyst Mark Liu said that thanks to the increase in the average memory density of server systems, as evidenced by the adoption of high-density 32GB RDIMMs and 64GB LRDIMMs in this year’s first half, the profit margin of server DRAM surged.

DRAMeXchange said it expects the penetration rate of DDR4 2666MHz modules to rise in the second half of this year due to the introduction of servers based on Intel’s Purley platform.

Samsung, the leading memory supplier and the leader in server DRAM market share, saw its second quarter server DRAM revenue rise by 36.5 percent sequentially to reach nearly $2 billion, DRAMeXchange said. Samsung continues to benefit from a commanding lead in the overall DRAM market and an overall lead in manufacturing technology.


AES Encryption Gets Cracked

July 7, 2017 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Dutch researchers have discovered a way of cracking AES-256 encryption using reasonably cheap gear and wireless tech.

Fox-IT explains that it, and an other company called Riscure, have created a new method for slurping up security that is enabled through proximity and relies on the monitoring of electromagnetic signals in what is known as a side channel attack.

Researchers put together a piece of kit worth less than $200 and were able to wirelessly extract secret AES-256 encryption keys from a distance of one metre. They said that the attack can be carried out by people on all budgets and with all kinds of means.

“The recording hardware can range from extremely high-end radio equipment, down to €20 USB SDRs. We have found that even the cheap USB dongles can be used to attack software implementations!” they said. “This is not a game exclusively for nation states, but also anyone with pocket money and some free time (PDF).”

Usually, such an attack would require direct access and manipulation, but Fox-IT found that it was possible just to swan past the target with a bag of SDR, amplifiers, filters, and an antenna and catch a winner in record time.

“Using this approach only requires us to spend a few seconds guessing the correct value for each byte in turn (256 options per byte, for 32 bytes — so a total of 8192 guesses),” boasts the firm.

“In contrast, a direct brute-force attack on AES-256 would require 2^256 guesses and would not complete before the end of the universe”

The next challenge is distance. Currently, Fox-IT has met reached a goal of 30cm but says that a full meter is a possibility given the right circumstances.

“Our work here has shown a proof of concept for TEMPEST attacks against symmetric crypto such as AES-256. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first public demonstration of such attacks. The low bandwidth requirements have allowed us to perform the attack with surprisingly cheap equipment (€20 radio, modest amplifiers and filters) at significant distances,” it added.

“In practice this setup is well suited to attacking network encryption appliances. Many of these targets perform bulk encryption (possibly with attacker controlled data) and the ciphertext is often easily captured from elsewhere in the network.”


T-Mobile Offers To Pay For Your Verzion iPhone, Google Pixel Device

May 25, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile has upped the ante regarding Verizon Wireless customers.

The company announced that it will cover the payments left on your Apple iPhone or Google Pixel if you bring it over from Verizon. Since they work equally well on both networks, the hope is that customers will just keep their phones when using T-Mobile service. The offer is a limited promotion that starts on May 31.

It’s the latest push by T-Mobile to extend its lead over rivals by getting you to make the jump. The competition has heated up with every carrier offering an unlimited plan, but T-Mobile has continually shaken things up with new offers. The carrier teased that this was the first of three announcements as it rolls into summer.

Initially, you will still have to pay off the balance of what you owe on the phone before you switch. After 15 days on T-Mobile’s service, the carrier will send you a digital prepaid MasterCard for that same value. If you have an early termination fee, T-Mobile said it will cover that as well. To ward off scammers, T-Mobile will only accept Verizon customers who have an established account for at least 60 days.

Families of up to five will be able to take advantage of this deal.

“We want all phones on all carriers to have complete freedom,” said Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert. “We think it’s the start of a trend.”

The offer only works with iPhones and Pixels. Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray said he is working with other manufacturers to ensure their phones are easily switchable, “but we’re not there yet.”

AT&T and Sprint customers aren’t completely left out. T-Mobile will likewise cover the cost of your phone if you switch, but you’ll have to buy a new device on T-Mobile. Sievert said that it takes a longer time to port a phone from those two carriers over to T-Mobile, so there isn’t an instant switch like with Verizon devices. Those customers will be able to sell that phone or use it for another account once it’s paid off. T-Mobile had previously required that customers trade in that device.

Has AACS 2.0 Encryption Been Cracked

May 15, 2017 by  
Filed under Computing

Smurfs have made a mockery of the AACS 2.0 encryption used to protect UHD Blu-ray disks.

A cracked copy of a UHD Blu-ray disc surfaced on the HD-focused BitTorrent tracker UltraHDclub. The torrent in question is a copy of the Smurfs 2 film and is tagged “The Smurfs 2 (2013) 2160p UHD Blu-ray HEVC Atmos 7.1-THRONE”.

This suggests that AACS 2.0 may have been “cracked” although there are no further technical details provided at this point.

UltraHDclub is proud of the release, though, and boasts of having the “First Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc in the NET!”

It will take a while to download the 53.30 GB disk and there are few seeders which means it will take a while. But after you do… you have a bloody Smurf movie!

Torrent Freak said that while the audio seems to match, the Maximum Content Light Level and Maximum Frame-Average Light Level listed in the media info appear to be different, and the colours in the screenshots are off too.

But this is not the first time that we have heard a rumour that the AACS 2.0 has been broken.

If the encryption has indeed been broken it will be bad news for AACS, the decryption licensing outfit that controls it. The company, founded by a group of movie studios and technology partners including Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft and Intel, has put a lot of effort into making the technology secure.


BlackBerry’s KeyOne Android Phone To Launch In May

April 28, 2017 by  
Filed under Mobile

The BlackBerry KeyOne, an Android-based smartphone with an integrated physical keyboard, will be available in the U.S. and Canada from May 31, the phone’s maker said Thursday.

TCL Communications, the Chinese company that acquired rights to produce BlackBerry-brand handsets, originally had said the phone would go on sale in April, so the delay may disappoint potential users. This could be a bad time to test the patience of potential buyers, as Samsung and LG are both heavily promoting their new flagship handsets, the S8 and G6.

But true BlackBerry fans — and yes, they do exist — probably won’t be put off. The phone includes elements from the heyday of BlackBerry that aren’t available on competing smartphones, including the keyboard.

There’s also the hub, which collects messages from numerous apps, and the keyboard can be used like the trackpad that was a prominent feature in BlackBerry phones. There are also some new features, such as a security dashboard and the ability to assign each key on the keyboard a shortcut.

The KeyOne will be available for pre-order in Canada starting May 18 through Bell, Bell MTS, Rogers, SaskTel and Telus Business. In the U.S., TCL will sell unlocked GSM and CDMA versions that can be used with U.S. carriers. It will be available from Sprint later in the year.

OpenAPI Suffers Another Security Issue

July 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

A remote code execution flaw has been identified in the widely used OpenAPI framework, also known as the Swagger APIs, that will be easily exploited unless a patch is rushed out.

The disclosure was made this week when a module for the widely used Metasploit hacking tool was released, making it easier for criminals to exploit the flaw.

Metasploit is used by companies that build services using RESTful APIs, such as Microsoft, PayPal, Getty Images, Intuit and Apigee, to test the resilience of systems.

Swagger is an open source project that provides a standard, language-agnostic interface to RESTful APIs, which enables humans and computers to discover and understand the capabilities of a service without access to source code, documentation, or through network traffic inspection.

Scott Davis, application security researcher at Rapid7, explained in a blog post about the CVE-2016-5641 flaw that the disclosure “will address a class of vulnerabilities in a Swagger Code Generator in which injectable parameters in a Swagger JSON or YAML [a human-readable data serialisation language] file facilitate remote code execution. This vulnerability applies to NodeJS, PHP, Ruby, and Java and probably other languages as well.”

Other code-generation tools may also be vulnerable to parameter injection and could be affected by this approach.

“By leveraging this vulnerability, an attacker can inject arbitrary execution code embedded with a client or server generated automatically to interact with the definition of service,” Davis added.

“Within the Swagger ecosystem, there are fantastic code generators which are designed to automagically take a Swagger document and then generate stub client code for the described API.

“This is a powerful part of the solution that makes it easy for companies to provide developers the ability to quickly make use of their APIs. The Swagger definitions are flexible enough to describe most RESTful APIs and give developers a great starting point for their API client.”

The flaw is caused by code generators that do not take into account the possibility of a malicious Swagger definition document which results in a classic parameter injection with a “new twist on code generation”, according to Davis.

“Maliciously crafted Swagger documents can be used to dynamically create HTTP API clients and servers with embedded arbitrary code execution in the underlying operating system,” he explained.

“This is achieved by the fact that some parsers/generators trust insufficiently sanitized parameters in a Swagger document to generate a client code base.

“On the client side, a vulnerability exists in trusting a malicious Swagger document to create any generated code base locally, most often in the form of a dynamically generated API client.

“On the server side, a vulnerability exists in a service that consumes Swagger to dynamically generate and serve API clients, server mocks and testing specs.”

It is not yet known when a patch for the flaw will be released.



Is TLS (transport layer security) Putting Users At Risk?

April 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Web user are at risk of main-n-the-middle attacks, security firm Sucuri has warned, having discovered that popular web development languages remain vulnerable to transport layer security (TLS) spoofing and exploitation from revoked certificates.

Sucuri, following up a 2012 academic paper that had first warned about such weaknesses, warns that many of the vulnerabilities highlighted in that paper still have not been patched.

“Web developers today rely on various third-party APIs. For example, APIs [that] allow you to accept credit card payments, integrate a social network with your website, or clear your CDN’s cache,” it wrote a blog post.

“The HTTPS protocol is used to secure the connection with the API server. However, if your web app doesn’t verify the TLS certificate, a malicious person can steal your passwords or your customers’ credit card numbers.

“When implemented correctly, the TLS protocol provides both encryption and authentication. The connection between your server and the API server is encrypted using a symmetric cipher (typically AES) so an eavesdropper cannot read your data.

“The server also confirms its identity (authenticates itself) by sending an X.509 certificate to the client. The client must verify the certificate’s signature against the list of known root certificates, but this step is often neglected. As a result, a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack becomes possible,” warned Sucuri.

In particular, Sucuri warned that financial institutions, especially ones offering online banking or other transactions online, ought to ensure that their sites verify TLS certificates correctly. In tests, it found a complicated and poorly documented situation.

“Two years ago, IOActive tested 40 mobile banking apps and found that 40 per cent of them are vulnerable to MITM attack. Another group of researchers from Leibniz University of Hanover and Philipps University of Marburg found that eight per cent of popular Android apps fail to verify certificates. A passive MITM attack against these mobile apps is very real when you use a public Wi-Fi hotspot. The attack is also possible in case of a web server accessing a third-party API.”

The trouble is, the use of third party SSL libraries, such as OpenSSL, GnuTLS and CryptoAPI, as well as higher-level data transport libraries, such as Apache HTTPClient, that act as wrappers around SSL libraries.

There are some mitigation methods that developers can employ, suggests IBM Security Intelligence.

“Upgrading to the latest version of languages will remove many certificate verification problems, although not the revocation aspect… There are also web services that can test any APIs a server is using. This kind of service can identify problem situations that may arise from the use of shared or unmaintained programs.

“The end result is that TLS can still be broken, even four years after significant faults were pointed out. The remedies are there, but their use must be vigilant for them to be effective,” it warned.




Seeed Studios Debuts $59 Do-it-yourself Mobile Phone Kit

February 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

You can put together a basic 2G cellphone at home with the RePhone Kit Create, which can also be used to make wearables and IoT devices.

The kit from Seeed Studios ships with separate modules that can be pieced together to create a 2G phone with a 1.54-in. LCD screen. Icons on the display can be used to make phone calls or send text messages.

There’s more to RePhone than being a fun device. The kit also is a small development board to make wearable and IoT devices with cellular communication capabilities.

The $59 kit is now shipping, and comes with a small battery and modules for a SIM card — that’s how you connect to a carrier’s network — as well as speaker, GSM, NFC and Bluetooth Low Energy. It also ships with craft paper that can be the skin of the phone.

By October, the company hopes to upgrade RePhone Kit Create with a 4G communications module, said Wells Tu, marketing director at Seeed Studio in an e-mail.

Seeed Studio, which is in Shenzhen, China, received $276,865 from 3,399 backers on Kickstarter to make the RePhone Kit Create. More than 10,000 kits have been sold so far, Tu said.

The kit has spawned interesting wearable and IoT ideas, Tu said. One project involves a homegrown traceable dog tracker, with a RePhone kit in the collar tracking and calling dogs back home through voice commands.

Another idea floated in RePhone’s forums is a simple tracking device for things not expected to move, like a parked car. The goal with RePhone is to have a basic device to allow new IoT applications to be explored, Tu said.

Most IoT development boards today have only Bluetooth or Wi-Fi capabilities. Wearable development boards like MIPS’ Creator Ci40 don’t have cellular capabilities.

The RePhone has two connectors so other modules for motion control and GPS can be attached. It has standard ports found on developer boards to attach cameras and other external devices.

The guts of the phone include an ARM-based microcontroller, 4MB of RAM and 16MB of storage. Programs for RePhone can be written using JavaScript, the Lua scripting language or the Arduino integrated development environment.




DRAM Prices Appear To Be Falling Fast

October 6, 2015 by  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters from DRAM Exchange have added up some numbers and divided by their shoe size and worked out that sales of DRAM for notebooks and PCs suffered a downturn in September.

Analyst VP Avril Wu said that notebook shipments in the third quarter didn’t reach expectations, with the Windows 10 free upgrade hitting potential sales of new notebooks.

She added that sales of smartphones and servers were not much chop either and this eroded the margins of DRAM suppliers.

“If the global economy continues to stagnate, the end market will not generate the demand needed to effectively consume the new DRAM chips produced on advanced processes,” she muttered.

After shuffling her Tarot cards and chewing on a laurel leaf she predicted that prices will continue decline in the first half of next year in a way which is even worse than 2015.

Samsung, SK Hynix and Micron rule the DRAM market and they are moving production of the chips to 17 nanometres, meaning higher densities and better power efficiency next year. If the figures are this pants it will make their investment in the technology pretty wasted.


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