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Samsung Still Facing Challenges Recovering Galaxy Note 7 Phones

December 9, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-recall-150x150Samsung’s recall of Galaxy Note7 smartphones because of exploding batteries remains a challenging task, and some users, for example, in Canada, are still not exchanging their devices for a refund or a different phone.

The South Korean company has decided to cut these phones from the network, adopting similar measures to those taken last month in New Zealand and earlier this month in Australia.

The company said Wednesday that starting Dec. 12, functional limitations on Note7 phones, including curbs on the battery charge, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth disablement will be introduced in Canada.

From Dec. 15, customers still using the Note7 will no longer be able to connect to any Canadian mobile network service to make calls, use data or send text messages. Samsung said it had been able to secure nearly 90 percent of the Note7 devices that were brought into the Canadian market.

When Samsung announced in September a recall of the Note7 in tandem with Health Canada, a Canadian federal government department, it was said that about 22,000 of the recalled smartphones were sold in the country.

Samsung announced a global recall of the Note7 in early September after it found a “battery cell issue.” The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Sept. 15 announced a recall in the U.S. of about 1 million Note7 phones as it found that the lithium-ion batteries in the devices could overheat and catch fire. By Oct. 13, the CPSC expanded the recall to include replacement Note7 phones that Samsung had supplied to customers under the first recall as they too were found to have the battery problem.

The company also stopped production of the phones. It has yet to explain in detail what caused the batteries to explode. A recent report suggested that the phone design could compress the battery even during normal operation.

Samsung said on Dec. 1 that it was working with local carriers to disconnect from Dec. 15 Note7 phones that were still being used by customers in Australia. Note7 owners in the country responded well to the recall, but a small number of affected devices are still with them, the company said. Customers in New Zealand were to be disconnected from Nov. 18.

The Note7 recall has been both a public relations and financial debacle for Samsung. The company has reported that the third quarter revenue of its IT and Mobile Communications division was down 15 percent from the same period last year to 22.5 trillion Korean won (US$19.8 billion) while operating profit fell 95 percent to 100 billion won, as a result of the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7.

Smartphone-based Bank Number26 Expanding

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

number26-bank-150x150Mobile phone only bank Number26 is now offering its services in 17 countries in the euro zone, expanding from a smaller core of European markets it entered a year ago, it said on Tuesday.

The Berlin-based company is backed by Li Ka-shing, one of Asia’s richest men and Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, along with other investors including Berlin’s Earlybird Ventures and Zurich-based Red Alpine.

The company, which received its own banking license from German financial regulator Bafin this year, offers online accounts for cash withdrawals, savings and insurance services that users manage on their mobile phones.

 It currently counts 200,000 customers in 8 countries.

Without the expense of branches or legacy computer infrastructure and by relying on selective outsourcing, mobile-first banks can challenge established banks by promising lower lending rates and higher rates on savings.

Established banks have responded by plowing more money into upgrading their own computer systems, rolling out mobile apps of their own, closing retail bank branches and investing in fintech startups.

N26, which first launched in 2015 in Germany and Austria, then moved into Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Ireland and Slovakia, is now adding the Benelux countries, the Baltics, Finland, Portugal and Slovenia.

“We have built Europe’s most modern mobile bank,” Number26 Chief Executive and co-founder Valentin Stalf said in a presentation at the TechCrunch Disrupt London conference.

“We are getting closer to building a truly European bank.”

Will The TeraHertz Band Help Increase Wi-Fi Speeds

December 7, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

teraResearchers have worked out a way to push Wi-Fi speeds to 34 Gbps using the TeraHertz band.

While greater bandwidth in the 300GHz and above band has been known for a while it is pointless because the range makes it a chocolate teapot.

Some researchers have managed to hit 100 Gbps but when it only works for a few centimetres it is not commercially viable.

Now boffins at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have got the technology to provide a great 34 Gbps speed with a decent range.

Naoto Oshimo, one of the scientists behind this latest test, said that “device performance is almost sufficient for short-distance wireless communication such as KIOSK downloads, which might be its first application”. By that they mean that they have managed 10 metres, almost OK for home use.

Oshimo believes that this technology will scale hugely in terms of the speed as well, and we could eventually be looking at topping the 1Tbps mark.

Courtesy-Fud

PC Shipments Expected To Finally Rise In 2017

December 6, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While PC shipments are set to decline in 2016, beancounters at IDC think that the drop will be better than expected and there will be an improvement in 2017.

IDC expects PC vendors to ship a total of 258.2 million units this year, a figure which would be 6.4 percent lower than last year. It had been expected that there would be a 7.2 percent fall. Now IDC is saying that growth will still be negative in 2017, but shipments are expected to decrease by just 2.6 percent compared to this year.

Commercial shipments of notebooks will grow this year, while desktops should stay flat in terms of growth. The pressure from mobile devices is said to decrease as the markets mature. The tablet market in particular is not as big of a concern or threat to PCs as it is declining too.

IDC Worldwide Tracker Forecasting and PC research vice president Loren Loverde said that the PC market continues to perform close to expectations.

“Some volatility in emerging regions is being offset by incremental gains in larger mature markets while the interaction with tablets and phones is stabilizing. We continue to see steady progression toward smaller desktops and notebooks as replacement buying helps stabilize overall shipments in the coming years”.

Looking towards 2020, IDC claims that the market will still face a decline in terms of unit shipments, but only a small one at 0.8 percent. In 2020, PC vendors are expected to move 250 million units.

IDC Devices and Displays senior research analyst Neha Mahajan said:

“Despite continued weakness in the consumer segment, the US PC market is showing some signs of stability in the near future with some sources of optimism for the long haul. Backed by early Windows 10 transitions that are expected to boost commercial PC shipments in the next couple of years, and steady growth of PCaaS (PC as a Service) which should help shorten refresh cycles of commercial systems in the long-term, the overall US PC market sentiment certainly seems to be improving”.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Launches New Video Streaming Service

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

directv-now-150x147If you’re looking ditch cable TV, a new video streaming service from AT&T will be available starting today.

DirecTV Now is a flexible pay-as-you-go streaming service that starts at US$35 per month. DirectTV’s conventional satellite service is the foundation, but the content will be streamed over the internet.

Traditionally, users needed a two-year commitment and credit check to get DirecTV, but those requirements are not needed for the new service. The streaming service will work on the Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, as well as mobile devices with Android and iOS and PCs.

There are four pricing bundles, AT&T said at a press event in New York City. Users will be able to get more than 60 channels for $35, more than 80 for $50, more than 100 for $60, and more than 120 for $70. As an introductory promotion, AT&T will offer 100 channels for $35.

The programming lineup includes Disney channels, ESPN, AMC, Turner Broadcasting, NBC Universal, Fox, and many more channels. HBO and Cinemax can be added for $5 each. A deal to add CBS and Showtime is being negotiated.

NFL Sunday Ticket won’t be available with the service, but AT&T is also negotiating to add the service. NFL content will still be available on the games broadcast on NBC, Fox, and ESPN. When CBS is added, its NFL games will be available, too.

AT&T also plans to add a cloud DVR service in the coming years. Subscribers will be able to watch two streams simultaneously on separate devices.

The interface is key to the success of a streaming TV service. DirecTV Now will be able to track the programs users are watching and provide recommendations based on categories. The content is categorized as TV shows, movies, and networks. The interface will list shows people are watching, and users will be able to search content.

DirecTV Now is the third major streaming TV option after Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Dish’s Sling TV. It’s competitive on price with PlayStation Vue, which starts at $40, but not as cheap as Sling, which has fewer channels for $20.

For AT&T, DirecTV Now is a big deal and a new way to deliver programming. It’s also a way to say goodbye to the ubiquitous DirecTV satellite receivers.

“This is the foundation for how we’ll do things in the future,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group.

Is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 Going Eight Cores?

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has already revealed that Snapdragon 835 is officially the world’s first 10nm SoC, and Fudzilla exclusively posted this in April 2016. At that time, Qualcomm didn’t want to officially talk about the insides of the Snapdragon 835, but a leaked roadmap claims that the new SoC has 4+4 cores based on updated Kryo 200 architecture. 

The same leak doesn’t talk about any clock speeds, but one can assume that there are four faster and more powerful and four slower cores, something that you saw with the Snapdragon 810 and the  Snapdragon 600 series. A Chinese source includes the fact that this is a 10nm FinFET processor and has a Snapdragon X16 Gigabit class modem. These two things have been officially confirmed by Qualcomm.

The roadmap details Adreno 540, obviously, with faster GPU support for 4x LPDDR 4x @ 1866 MHz memory. The new Snapdragon 835 (also called MSM 8998 internally) supports UFS 2.1 storage and it is supposed to arrive in Q1 2017. The source is quite confident that you can expect to see this SoC inside some versions of Samsung Galaxy S8 phones.

Snapdragon 660 is clearly a successor to the recently launched Snapdragon 653. The Snapdragon 653 comes with four Cortex A72 with speeds up to 1.95GHz and four Cortex A53 for power saving. The new Snapdragon 653 supports a few important features that will drive phone sales in the mainstream part of the market in 2017. The Snapdragon 653 has a Snapdragon X9 Cat 7 modem with 300 Mbps downlink speeds and 150 Mbps uplink speeds, dual cameras, and supports 8GB of RAM.

This is what you will see in mainstream phones in early 2017. Let’s not forget the Qualcomm upload plus. It comes with 2x20MHz carrier aggregation and 64-QAM modulation on both upload and download side. We think 8GB will be very big for mainstream and performance phones, but of course is pure marketing and very little to do with need or necessity.  

According to the leaked roadmap, the information about the chip potentially called Snapdragon 660 are all over the place. First they called it the MSM 8976 Plus and Qualcomm  shared on its website that the Snapdragon 653 also shares a 8976 Pro internal branding. The Snapdragon 660 and 8976 Plus might be two different chips. In any case they would come to replace the Snapdragon 653 / 652 SoCs. 

The roadmap also claims that the MSM 8976 Plus chip comes with Kryo 4×4 configuration while the Snapdragon 660 comes with Cortex A73 quad core with four Cortex A53s. It would make a lot of sense to see the 14nm Cortex A73 quad core with four Cortex A53 cores. The GPU is updated to Adreno 512, while the Snapdragon 653 comes with Adreno 510. The 14nm makes sense as it will offer a lot of power savings compared to the Snapdragon 652 and 653, both based on a 28nm manufacturing process. 

We would not expect to see Snapdragon 660 and mysterious MSM 8976 Plus before the middle of next year at the earliest, but the roadmap also claims that the new chip comes with Snapdragon X10 300/ 150 Mbit capable LTE Category 13 (uplink) LTE Category 7 (downlink) modem.

Last and not least, the new MSM 8976 Plus might support UFS 2.1 storage and 2x LPDDR4 4X at 1866 MHz.

Courtesy-Fud

Is HTC Jumping Out Of The Smartphone Business?

November 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Troubled maker of smartphones HTC has denied rumours that it could be about to flog off its smartphone business.

The rumours had been picked up  largely because HTC has not been doing very well, the company was not Apple and the Tame Apple Press does love to pretend that only Jobs’ Mob makes money from smartphones.
Now according to the Taiwanese media HTC has denied those rumors and is refusing to ever speak of it again. So to make up for this lack of a quote the Tame Apple Press has continued to rubbish HTC and implied that it really is going to flog off its smartphonebusiness but “the official stance”  is that isn’t.” Apparently, HTC’s alternative is to go into VR – yeah that will sort it out.

We feel sorry for HTC because it generally makes good gear, has Google’s Pixel as a contract, but does not seem to get a lucky break.

Courtesy-Fud

Is The Mobile Gaming Space Difficult To Succeed?

November 23, 2016 by  
Filed under Gaming

There’s something quite noble about Phil Larsen, Luke Muscat and Hugh Walters, and their reasons for turning their collective backs on Halfbrick.

The trio had been partly responsible for some of the biggest games in the smartphone space, including Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, but they felt they had nothing left to learn working at the developer, so took the gamble to go it alone.

“There weren’t too many more challenges, and the challenge of starting something new and being small and agile seemed like a smart idea,” says Phil Larsen, who is the MD at the studio. “And we are all basically in our early 30s, and we thought that maybe we wouldn’t get another chance. So we decided to go for it.”

The team left Halfbrick at the start of 2015 and attended GDC with “no money, no game, no nothing”. Although Larsen felt the newly formed team, named Prettygreat, had the capacity to pull in some big investors, they instead decided to aim a little lower, and accept funding from the founders of Crossy Road makers Hipster Whale.

“Matt [Hall] and Andy [Sum], being so successful with Crossy Road at the time, wanted to put some investment into other studios, and they were the perfect fit for us,” Larsen explains. “They were other developers who understand what we do, they trust in us as a team because we’ve done it all before, and it just helped us get everything off the ground. It has basically been the best possible decision we could have made.”

Prettygreat has only been going for 18 months, but it’s already created two games, with a third deep in development. The firm initially made the modestly popular smartphone title Landsliders, a casual collect ’em up project that it managed to pull together in just four months.

“Although we’d worked together before, working on our first game is always going to be tricky, you’ll be understanding each other and finding a new approach,” Larsen explains. “The way we did that was to try and create something a little bit unique, a bit weird, with some control innovation… as a game, it was profitable, which is good. It wasn’t the mega hit of the year or anything like that, it wouldn’t have reached any Top Ten charts in terms of downloads, but we made that game in four months, and we supported it for six months after launch, which we wouldn’t have done if there wasn’t profit to be made. The game has about 5m downloads so far, which is not bad. We’ve come from a place where 200m or 300m downloads were the norm, so we’re scaling back, which is fine. But Landsliders is a first game that says: ‘hey, this is what we can do. Make a game fast and make it successful’.”

It may seem like a rapid turnaround, but Prettygreat managed to outpace that with its second game, Slide the Shakes, which was designed and released in just six weeks.

“Basically, we had about three weeks left at the end of last year, because we’d done everything for Land Sliders. So we just decided to make a game. It also made a profit and had 3 or 4m downloads already. That was also a game where we understood its scope and potential, so we invested the appropriate amount of time – which was six weeks, but I think our quality level for that was quite high.

“We are game strategy agnostic, for want of a better way of expressing that. We are not sitting here saying we’re going to make triple-A games on mobile, or make six months projects every time. We are going to pick projects that we like and we are going to develop it to the level that we think it will be successful – and if that means it is six weeks, fine, if it is six months, which is our current project, then we will do that. We just want to make all sorts of crazy ideas. We don’t have any specific business model or genre.”

The Prettygreat team seem to know a thing or two about building sustainable smartphone games, which is difficult in a market where discoverability is difficult and the competition is plentiful. Even some of the world’s biggest mobile developers struggle to enjoy repeat success in this space. It’s a fact that’s not lost on Larsen, but he says if developers are smart, plan carefully and make sure the projects are in tune with the team’s talents, then success is not necessarily that hard to come by.

“A lot of people talk about how competitive it is, which is true. And they talk about how hard it is to make a whole bunch of money, which is true. But a misconception that a lot of people have is that you have to be making Clash Royale money, or you need to be spending loads of money, or you need to take years making the games,” Larsen begins.

“There is a lot of competing factors as to what makes a business successful. For a while it was Angry Birds, and building a brand, and merchandise. Then it was all about free-to-play. We have been through all of that at Halfbrick. Our perspective is, it is competitive but you need to pick the right business model for your team, and you need to pick the right approach for you. With three dudes at the start of a company, we weren’t saying: ‘Let’s do a Candy Crush and make $1m a day.’ No. We will pick something that we know we can get out there in a short amount of time, know generally what monetisation trends that are happening, and what is the easiest way of getting some revenue going for our games.

“Yes it is hard, but it is not impossible. A lot of people say it’s impossible, but no, you just need to be smart about how you approach it for your team specifically. If we had taken AUS$2m in funding when we started, or attacked it in a bigger way, then people would be expecting us to make a Candy Crush. But we didn’t want to do that.

“Our biggest strength as a company is scoping products right, and making them for the right people at the right time. It is very easy for an indie team to say mobile is hard, but that’s possibly because they’ve spent 18 months making the game – that might be hard to recoup as an investment. We would sooner spend four months on a game.

“Having a team that works together really well, and approaching it with a clear focus, then you can make money. We haven’t made millions of dollars yet, but that’s ok, you don’t need millions to pay three people.”

Prettygreat’s next product is currently not announced, although Larsen says it is an online multiplayer project that will be unveiled soon. This title has a much bigger scope and has already been in the works longer than its previous projects. However, Larsen is reluctant to suggest the team will continue to make bigger, more ambitious projects. He tells us that the following game could take six weeks again, or four months.

Yet don’t take this to mean there is a lack of ambition on the part of the former Fruit Ninja makers.

Larsen concludes: “I don’t want to be perceived as just three guys making stuff for the hell of it, and it’s all crazy and whatever happens, happens. That’s true to an extent, and day-to-day things are very fun and casual. But we are very serious about success financially, and our reputation is very high and we want to keep that going. The path we take is sometimes a bit unconventional, and it doesn’t necessarily have a simple six month or 12 month goal, which is what the bigger investors want to see. But we still have our eyes on the prize. We are probably not going to become a 100-person studio anytime soon, but the idea that we can create some of the biggest games in mobile and strategically scale to support them, then that’s fine. If that happens, then we will make that happen.

“We have come from a place where we were working on Fruit Ninja and Jetpack Joyride, which were some of the biggest mobile games ever for a few years. We are not strangers to that environment. We haven’t started a studio to figure out how to do mobile, we absolutely already know how to do that. We’ve been through the highs and lows of some of the biggest things out there. We know what to expect and we are definitely aiming for it, but we are not going to compromise quality or our studio culture to get there.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

Will The iPhone 8 Go OLED?

November 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Hopes that Apple might sex up its iPhone 8 with OLED technology could be dashed by the fact that its suppliers can’t make enough of the technology.

After producing an iPhone 7 which was more or less the same as the last one, Apple had been expected to do something special with the iPhone 8. OLED screens were being touted as a way that the tax-dodging cargo cult might pull that off.

However according to the IB Times  suppliers may not be able to meet the demand.

This could force Apple to release limited next-gen iPhone units in 2017 with the rest using the older LCD technology. In other words it will be regurgitating the same technology it has used for years meaning that the iPhone 8 will look and feel like the iPhone 7, which looked suspiciously like the iPhone 6, which was not much of an advance from the iPhone 5.

Samsung Display, LG Display, Sharp and Japan Display cannot mass produce enough units as demanded by the smartphone industry. OLED screens are difficult and time-consuming to produce and it is likely that this constraint will spill over to 2018.

Samsung is reported to be the chief supplier for iPhone’s OLED panels in 2017 but it is facing low yield rates along with its high demand. Apple ordered an initial round of 100 million units for 2017 but Samsung is likely to produce only a portion of that.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple may resort to releasing a fair amount of units featuring screens that use older LCD technology.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Offers Repairs For iPhone 6 Plus Phones With ‘Touch Disease’

November 21, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iphone-6-plus-150x150Apple is offering to fix at a reduced price iPhone 6 Plus smartphones with display flickering or multi-touch problems.

The issue, described in August as “touch disease” by repair guide website iFixit, is characterized by a gray, flickering bar at the top of the display and an unresponsive touchscreen. The issue affects both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, according to iFixit.

Apple appears to consider it a problem with the way users handled the phone rather than a defect. It said Thursday that the company has determined that the smartphones may exhibit display flickering or Multi-Touch issues “after being dropped multiple times on a hard surface and then incurring further stress on the device.”

The company is offering to repair the problem for a service price of $149 if the phone is in working order, and the screen is not cracked or broken.

The problem, however, runs deeper, according to iFixit. Merely replacing the touchscreen doesn’t fix the issue as the gray bar eventually shows up on the new screen, too, it said. It quotes repair experts as stating that the problem is with the two touchscreen controller chips, or Touch IC chips, on the logic board inside the phone, which convert touch information into inputs for the phone.
iFixit said it had found that stress on the phone causes the chips to eventually lose connection with the motherboard, and pointed to “insufficient structural support around the logic board.” It said it had seen the problem on phones that have never been dropped.

A proposed class-action lawsuit on behalf of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus users was filed in August, alleging a design defect in the iPhone 6 series phones.

Apple has offered to reimburse the cost difference to those iPhone 6 customers who have already repaired the phone earlier for the same issue either through Apple or through an authorized service provider. Those who have paid for a repair believed to be related to the issue but have not been contacted yet by Apple, are asked to get in touch with the company.

 

China Asks Apple To Investigate Mysterious iPhone 6 Shutdowns

November 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

 

iphone-6-150x150A consumer protection group in China has made a request to Apple to investigate an issue with iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S units that are automatically shutting off.

Recently, iPhone customers in the country have complained about the problem to the China Consumers Association, the group said in a statement on Tuesday. The shutdowns occur when the phone’s battery charge drops to between 60 and 50 percent.

The problem will persist despite upgrading to the latest version of iOS. It will also occur in both cold environments and at room temperature.  After the automatic shutdown, the phones will also fail to turn on without connecting to a power supply.

A “considerable number” of consumers have contacted the China Consumers Association, and many have the same problem, the group said. It made the statement as the local press in the country have written stories about the shutdowns.

Apple hasn’t publicly commented on the matter.

Prior to Tuesday’s statement from the consumer association, affected iPhone users in the country also took to local social media services to express their complaints.

“When the battery is at 60 percent it shuts down,” wrote one user on Sina Weibo. “On restart, the phone will display no battery. Then when I turn it on again, it will be normal, only to automatically shut down again.”

Local Chinese media have posted the letter the China Consumers Association sent to Apple. It asks that the company reply within 10 days.

The association is asking Apple what the problem is, whether the phone’s battery is responsible, and what steps the company will take to address the issue.

ARM Finally Adds Security To IoT Chips

November 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

 ARM has announced that it will introduce tiny processors which have Trustzone baked in to run the next generation of IoT devices.

The ARM TechCon in Silicon Valley was told that the new designs will stop devices from being hacked and recruited into huge botnet swarms.

TrustZone has been around for a decade for Windows, Mac OS and Android products but never for chips this small or low-powered.

ARM’s new Cortex-M33 chip design is just one-tenth of a square millimeter, and the Cortex-M23 is 75 percent smaller than that. They are based on the new ARMv8-M architecture and are designed to work with ARM’s mbed OS. Already Chip vendors including Analog Devices, NXP and STMicroelectronics have already licensed the design.

ARM expects chips based on them to be used in products like bandages that collect and send medical data, tracking tags for packages in transit, and portable blood-monitoring devices.

These things won’t be plugged in to an outlet and may not even have batteries: A pocket-sized blood-testing device for diabetics could harvest enough energy to do its job just from the motion of the user removing the cap, ARM says.

ARM also introduced a cloud-based platform for managing and updating IoT processors for as long as they’re deployed. The mbed Cloud software-as-a-service platform is designed to solve the problem of how to manage millions of chips in devices that may be deployed all over a city or a global enterprise.

When a device boots up, mbed Cloud can provide a security key for the communications channel and specify who can get access to the data from the device, based on enterprise policies.

The service can also help to prevent IoT-based denial-of-service attacks by monitoring what’s going on in the network. If there are abnormally chatty devices, it can isolate them or shut them down.
The service can be run on multiple public clouds.

Courtesy-Fud

FCC Wants Beefed Up Attack On Pesky Robocalls

October 28, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

fcc-150x150A task force of more than 30 major technology and telecommunications companies are reporting progress but have not found a definitive solution to eliminate “robocalls” or automated, prerecorded phone calls, but a top U.S. regulator urged faster action.

“We are not yet where we want to be,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said Wednesday at a meeting of industry executives who have been working on the issue since August. “We’ve not reached the goal. We need solutions now.”

The strike force said it would report back by early 2017 on strategies for blocking unwanted automated calls. But Wheeler wants “commitments and timelines” to move up action.

AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, who is chairing the strike force, said the blue-ribbon group has “come a long way in 60 days and we’ve got a long way to go – I fully recognize that Mr. Chairman, he said. “There’s no one part of this ecosystem that’s going to fix this. So it’s going to take everybody’s cumulative efforts.”

Wheeler wrote major companies in July urging them to take new action to block robocalls, saying it was the top source of consumer complaints at the FCC. Scam artists often times based abroad try to appear to call from a bank or a government phone to trick consumers into disclosing confidential financial or account information.

Wheeler said he and Stephenson will bring the strike force back together in six months to check in on the group’s progress.

Google parent Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and Comcast Corp are among members of the “Robocall Strike Force” that joined the task force that has met more than 100 times since August.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said more action is needed. “There are no prizes for participation,” she said.

The strike force hopes to implement Caller ID verification standards to help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and eventually create a “Do Not Originate” list that would block spoofers from impersonating legitimate phone numbers from governments, banks or others. It is also working on authentication standards in a bid to try to ensure a phone call is from the number that appears.

The task force ran a “Do Not Originate” with Internal Revenue Service phone numbers that were often spoofed that reduced robocall complaints by 90 percent.

The IRS phone numbers on the list had to be “receive only” and had to be entered into a database, said Joan Marsh AT&T’s vice president for federal regulatory affairs. “There is no easy way for any of this,” this I adds a multiple pronged effort.”

There are other technical issues about how to create and manage the database of phone numbers and how carriers get access to the database.

Carriers cannot block all mass automated calls or texts made because of legitimate communications from schools, weather alerts, utilities, political calls and others. Marsh said it is tough to “get the bad ones” but not block calls people want.

T-Mobile Seen As Next Target Of A Merger

October 26, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

t-mobile-binge-on-150x150T-Mobile US Inc is the likeliest acquisition target as media giants partner up wireless carriers following AT&T Inc’s proposed $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner Inc, analysts said.

AT&T announced the deal late on Saturday, stoking urgency in the telecoms and media sectors, where carriers facing a saturated wireless market are looking for content to attract mobile users and producers of shows and movies are seeking digital distribution.

T-Mobile took most of the wireless industry’s subscriber and revenue growth in the third quarter. Its strong balance sheet and fast-growing wireless business makes it an attractive target for a pay-TV or media company, analysts said.

T-Mobile shares jumped 9.5 percent on Monday after it announced third-quarter financial results. At least nine analysts raised their target price on the No. 3 wireless company, which said it added 851,000 postpaid subscribers in the quarter.

T-Mobile has taken market share from bigger rivals Verizon and AT&T, and that momentum is expected to continue, analysts said.

“The takeout target over the next twelve months has got to be T-Mobile,” New Street Research analyst Spencer Kurn said. Potential buyers include Comcast Corp, satellite-TV provider Dish Network Corp, and Mexican telecom company America Movil, analysts said.

Comcast and Dish declined to comment. America Movil could not be immediately reached for comment.

“Content of all kind is rapidly landing on the internet and the internet itself is rapidly transforming toward mobile,” T-mobile Chief Operating Officer Mike Sievert told Reuters.

T-Mobile is “very interested” in exploring strategic opportunities, he said.

Sprint Corp, which is aggressively working towards reviving its wireless business, is another takeout candidate, analysts said.

Sprint received more calls than usual from bankers over the weekend after the AT&T-Time Warner deal was announced, Chief Executive Marcelo Claure said on an earnings call on Tuesday.

“Our strategic value to many has significantly grown,” he added.

Tesla To Get Into Ride-sharing Business

October 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

tesla-motors-logo-150x150Tesla Motors Inc has plans to introduce a ride share services program and will announce details next year, the luxury electric vehicle maker said on its website, a service first outlined by Chief Executive Elon Musk in his master plan in July.

News of the Tesla Network was in a disclaimer about the self-driving functionality on new Model S vehicles. Musk said last week Tesla is building new vehicles with the necessary hardware to eventually enable full autonomy, although the software is not yet ready.

“Please note that using a self-driving Tesla for car sharing and ride hailing for friends and family is fine, but doing so for revenue purposes will only be permissible on the Tesla Network, details of which will be released next year,” read the disclaimer.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for more detail.

Car makers have rushed to invest in so-called mobility services, hoping to capture the potential trillions of dollars in revenue from selling both vehicles and such on-demand services, while carving out a stake in the industry dominated by Uber.

Barclays analyst Brian Johnson wrote in a note to investors on Thursday that although a Tesla Network could “excite the market” over its potential earnings stream, it was a costly proposition.

“While we think ride-sharing/hailing is the future of mass-market mobility, we have some financial concerns with the idea of an OEM-owned fleet,” Johnson wrote.

Venture capitalists and corporate investors had poured nearly $28 billion into the ride services sector in the past decade as of June, according to a Reuters analysis.

General Motors has made the biggest bet, investing $500 million in Lyft in January. GM’s upcoming electric Chevrolet Bolt was designed expressly with car sharing in mind, executives have told Reuters.

Money-losing Tesla lacks the deep pockets of GM, and ride services companies like Uber and Lyft burn billions of dollars in price wars to secure regional dominance, as occurred with Uber in China before it ceded to local rival Didi Chuxing.

In his “Master Plan, Part Deux” in July, Musk outlined a system in which a Tesla owner could add a car to a shared Tesla fleet using a phone app, allowing it to “generate income for you” and lower the cost of ownership.

Musk said that in cities where car ownership is lower, Tesla would operate its own fleet.

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