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Espionage Hacking On The Increase, According To Verizon Study

April 23, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Hacking for espionage purposes is drastically rising, with groups or national governments from Eastern Europe playing a growing role, according to one of the most comprehensive annual studies of computer intrusions.

Spying intrusions traced back to any country in 2013 were blamed on residents of China and other East Asian nations 49 percent of the time, but Eastern European countries, especially Russian-speaking nations, were the suspected launching site for 21 percent of breaches, Verizon Communications Inc’s said in its annual Data Breach Investigations Report.

Those were by far the most active areas detected in the sampling, which drew more than half of its data from victims in the United States. About 25 percent of spying incidents could not be attributed to attackers from any country, according to the authors of the report.

Though the overall number of spying incidents studied tripled to 511 from total in the 2013 Verizon report, most of that increase is due to the addition of new data sources. Even looking at just the same contributors as before, however, espionage cases grew, said Verizon investigator Bryan Sartin.

Not all electronic spying was blamed on governments. Investigators from Verizon, Intel Corp’s McAfee, Kaspersky Labs and other private companies and public agencies contributing data ascribed 11 percent of espionage attacks to organized criminals and 87 percent to governments.

In some cases, the criminal gangs were probably looking to sell what they found to governments or competitors of the victims.

“We do see a slight merging between the classic organized criminal and the espionage crook,” Sartin said, adding that he expected that trend to continue.

If the rise of detected Eastern European spying comes as a surprise to those mainly familiar with accusations against China, a bigger surprise might be the study’s findings about attacks on retailers.

Though recent breaches at Target Corp and other retailers through their point-of-sale equipment have dominated the headlines and prompted congressional hearings in the past few months, fewer such intrusions have been reported to the Verizon team than in past years, even as the number of report contributors has multiplied.

“The media frenzy makes quite a splash, but from a frequency standpoint, this largely remains a small-and-medium business issue,” the study says.

 

Apple Says Good bye To iPad 2, Hello To iPad 4

March 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc said it would offer an iPad 4 tablet to replace the mid-range iPad 2 at the same price and the company also debuted a cheaper, lower capacity version of its plastic-backed iPhone 5C in Australia, China and some European countries.

The iPad 4 is available at $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model and $529 for the 16GB Wi-Fi + cellular model at the four major U.S. carriers – AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.

The fourth-generation iPad, which has a 9.7-inch Retina display and supports 4G carriers worldwide, was launched in 2012, while the iPad 2 was launched in 2011.

Apple discontinued the iPad 4 last year when it launched its current flagship tablet, the iPad Air. The company had cut the price of iPad 2 to $399 in 2012.

Tablets based on Apple’s iOS platform held 36 percent share of the market in 2013, trailing those based on Google Inc’s Android software that had 62 percent share, according to research firm Gartner.

Apple also launched on Tuesday an 8GB iPhone 5C priced at 429 pounds ($710), 40 pounds cheaper than the 16GB version, according to the company’s UK website.

The 8GB iPhone 5C will also be available in France and Germany.

“We believe this newly configured device will have a lower gross margin as we estimate the difference in cost to Apple for the 8GB of NAND is $5 to $10,” Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross wrote in a research note.

Analysts have said earlier that the iPhone 5C, which is about $100 cheaper than the iPhone 5S, was unable to grab market share from rivals offering lower-cost phones based on Android.

 

Sally Beauty Latest Retailer To Confess To Data Breach

March 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Sally Beauty Holdings acknowledge on Monday that it too was a victim of a data breach, an incident that may have occurred alongside a project to update point-of-sale terminals at its U.S. stores, a recent regulatory filing shows.

The Denton, Texas, based company, which has more than half of its 4,669 stores in the U.S., said it found evidence that fewer than 25,000 records containing credit card data were accessed and possibly removed, according to a statement.

That follows its statement on March 5 that it was investigating “rumors” of a breach but had no reason to believe any credit card or consumer data had been lost.

The data it now says was likely stolen is known as “Track 2″ card data. Payment cards have a magnetic stripe on the back that contains three data tracks. Track 2 data contains only the card number and expiration data. Track 1 data contains the card number, expiration data and cardholder’s name, and Track 3 is rarely used.

Forensic investigators from Verizon are working with Sally Beauty along with the U.S. Secret Service.

“As experience has shown in prior data security incidents at other companies, it is difficult to ascertain with certainty the scope of a data security breach/incident prior to the completion of a comprehensive forensic investigation,” the company said.

“As a result, we will not speculate as to the scope or nature of the data security incident,” it said.

A representative of a public relations firm for Sally Beauty said the company could not comment further.

Sally Beauty’s annual report for fiscal 2013 shows the company undertook large IT infrastructure upgrade projects worldwide, including installing a new POS system for 2,450 stores in the U.S.

Target and Neiman Marcus blamed recent data breaches on malicious software that had been installed on POS systems, which are modern, software-driven cash registers that process card payments.

Target’s POS terminals were infected with a type of malware called a “RAM scraper.” The malware recorded payment card details after a card was swiped and the unencrypted data briefly sat in a system’s memory.

Sally Beauty wrote in its annual report that the POS system is expected to provide benefits such as enhanced tracking of customer sales and store inventory reports.

 

Softbank Still Wants A Sprint, T-Mobile Merger

March 12, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank Corp is still attempting to acquire T-Mobile US Inc and merge it with its U.S. wireless carrier Sprint Corp, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said, even though U.S. regulators appear set against a deal.

Son told U.S. TV show host Charlie Rose in an interview that if the deal goes through, he would launch a price war to break what he called a duopoly by dominant U.S. carriers AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc.

“We would like to make the deal happen, but there are steps and details that we have to work out,” said Son, who had previously declined to comment on whether Softbank was in talks to buy T-Mobile. “We have to give it a shot.”

Excerpts of the interview with the PBS network show were posted on YouTube. The show is scheduled to be broadcast late on Monday in the United States.

The possibility of a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, which was acquired by Softbank last year, was given the cold shoulder by regulators, with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler expressing skepticism in meetings with Son and Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse on February 3, according to an FCC official briefed on the matter.

Regulators are concerned that reducing the number of major wireless carriers to three from four would hinder competition, but Son has argued that competition would be more robust if a third strong player is created through the merger of smaller firms Sprint and T-Mobile.

Softbank is now focused on convincing the parties involved with the merits of a merger, a senior company executive said, adding that any moves towards pursuing a deal were now on hold. The official declined to be named because he was not authorised to speak about the matter publicly.

Son plans to present his vision for the U.S. wireless communications industry in a speech in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, although a person familiar with the matter said he would not talk about a bid for T-Mobile.

 

Verizon Exploring Online Video Service Offering

March 6, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Verizon Communications is engaged in discussions with content providers to deliver web-based TV services to mobile platforms, chief executive Lowell McAdam, said at an investor conference earlier in the week.

Just recently, Dish Network Corp and Walt Disney Co announced a landmark deal that will allow the No. 2 satellite TV provider to deliver Disney-owned network content online, outside of a traditional TV subscription.

Verizon’s goal “is to work with the content providers,” said

McAdam at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.

“I have personally had discussions with the CEOs of the large content companies, and we would love to partner with them to see how we can take FiOS contact mobilely across the country.” he said.

McAdam said the company could also look at providing a service delivered over wireless airwaves and not just broadband.

According to PwC’s annual entertainment and media forecast, North American consumers will spend $6 billion in 2014 on entertainment from services such as Netflix that are offered over the top, meaning they are utilized over a network but not offered by the network operator.

“I think you can actually get a virtuous cycle where broadcast viewing goes up and over-the-top viewing goes up, if you time this properly,” McAdam said.

In January, Verizon acquired Intel Corp’s OnCue service for an undisclosed sum to accelerate its push into next-generation video services, including integrating it with Verizon’s FiOS fiber-based Internet and TV service that has more than 5 million video subscribers, about 5 percent of pay TV households. The company said it was open to providing over-the-top content to any device.

McAdam also stressed that Verizon expects Netflix to pay for faster video delivery as part of a so-called interconnect deal, in an arrangement similar to the one the video provider has made with Comcast Corp.

“I have spoken live and via email with (Netflix CEO) Reed Hastings, and I believe that we will get some sort of an arrangement with them as well,” said McAdam.

 

US Government Wants Retain Phone Data Beyond 5-Year Limit

February 28, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

The U.S. government has requested a secret surveillance court to allow it to retain telephone metadata for a period beyond the current five-year limit, for use as potential evidence in civil lawsuits regarding the collection of the data.

In June last year, former National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, revealed that the agency was collecting bulk phone records of Verizon customers in the U.S.

The government subsequently confirmed that it had a program for the bulk collection of phone metadata, which triggered a number of privacy law suits in various courts challenging the legality of the NSA program under section 215 of the Patriot Act.

When litigation is pending against a party, or is reasonably anticipated, the party has a duty to preserve relevant information that may be evidence in the case, the Department of Justice stated in a filing Tuesday before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that was made public Wednesday.

“A party may be exposed to a range of sanctions not only for violating a preservation order, but also for failing to produce relevant evidence when ordered to do so because it destroyed information that it had a duty to preserve,” it wrote, while pointing out that it hasn’t received a specific preservation order so far in any of the civil lawsuits.

The American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles are among those who have filed lawsuits challenging the phone records program.

The telephony metadata retained beyond five years for the purpose of the civil litigation will be kept in a format that prevents access or use of it by NSA staff for any purpose including queries for gathering foreign intelligence information, according to the filing.

The federal government, meanwhile, is exploring alternatives to the NSA’s holding the phone data. It has asked industry for information on whether commercially available services can provide a viable alternative to the government holding the bulk data.

In a review of NSA surveillance last month, President Obama called for a new approach on telephony metadata that will “establish a mechanism that preserves the capabilities we need without the government holding this bulk metadata.”

 

Cybersecurity Firm Says It Has Uncovered Over 300M Stolen Credentials

February 27, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

A cybersecurity firm has stated that it has found stolen credentials from some 360 million accounts that are available for sale on cyber black markets, though it is unsure where they came from or what they can be used to access.

The discovery could represent more of a risk to consumers and companies than stolen credit card data because of the chance the sets of user names and passwords could open the door to online bank accounts, corporate networks, health records and virtually any other type of computer system.

Alex Holden, chief information security officer of Hold Security LLC, said in an interview that his firm obtained the data over the past three weeks, meaning an unprecedented amount of stolen credentials is available for sale underground.

“The sheer volume is overwhelming,” said Holden, whose firm last year helped uncover a major data breach at Adobe Systems Inc in which tens of millions of records were stolen.

Holden said he believes the 360 million records were obtained in separate attacks, including one that yielded some 105 million records, which would make it the largest single credential breaches known to date.

He said he believes the credentials were stolen in breaches that have yet to be publicly reported. The companies attacked may remain unaware until they are notified by third parties who find evidence of the hacking, he said.

“We have staff working around the clock to identify the victims,” he said.

He has not provided any information about the attacks to other cybersecurity firms or authorities but intends to alert the companies involved if his staff can identify them.

The massive trove of credentials includes user names, which are typically email addresses, and passwords that in most cases are in unencrypted text. Holden said that in contrast, the Adobe breach, which he uncovered in October 2013, yielded tens of millions of records that had encrypted passwords, which made it more difficult for hackers to use them.

The email addresses are from major providers such as AOL Inc, Google Inc, Microsoft Corp and Yahoo Inc and almost all Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations. Holden said he alerted one major email provider that is a client, but he declined to identify the company, citing a nondisclosure agreement.

Heather Bearfield, who runs the cybersecurity practice for accounting firm Marcum LLP, said she had no information about the information that Hold Security uncovered but that it was plausible for hackers to obtain such a large amount of data because these breaches are on the rise.

She said hackers can do far more harm with stolen credentials than with stolen payment cards, particularly when people use the same login and password for multiple accounts.

“They can get access to your actual bank account. That is huge,” Bearfield said. “That is not necessarily recoverable funds.”

After recent payment-card data breaches, including one at U.S. retailer Target, credit card companies stressed that consumers bear little risk because they are refunded rapidly for fraud losses.

Wade Baker, a data breach investigator with Verizon Communications Inc, said that the number of attacks targeting payment cards through point-of-sales systems peaked in 2011. That was partly because banks and retailers have gotten better at identifying that type of breach and quickly moving to prevent crooks from making fraudulent transactions, he said.

In addition to the 360 million credentials, the criminals are selling some 1.25 billion email addresses, which would be of interest to spammers, Hold Security said in a statement on its website.

 

Power Users Of The Internet Should Pay More, According To Verizon

February 26, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Heavy broadband users should help shoulder the cost of their traffic, but Verizon Communications does not give preferential treatment to some Web traffic, the company’s CEO stated.

Still, Verizon has had its own interconnection discussions with Netflix related to increasing the video provider’s traffic speeds on the broadband carrier’s networks, Verizon Chairman and CEO Lowell McAdam said. Following a Sunday announcement that Comcast and Netflix had reached an interconnection deal, McAdam said his company has had similar discussions with the video provider.

The Comcast and Netflix deal shows “the commercial markets can come to agreement on these to make sure the investments keep flowing,” McAdam said.

McAdam addressed the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules during a conference call about the company’s acquisition of Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless. The FCC’s move this month to resurrect net neutrality rules should provide “clarity” for the broadband industry, said McAdam, whose company successfully challenged an old version of the regulations in court.

McAdam dismissed concerns that his company would selectively block or slow some Web content. “We make our money by carrying traffic,” he said. “That’s how we make dollars. So to view that we’re going to be advantaging one over the other really is a lot of histrionics, I think, at this point.”

But McAdam suggested that broadband power users should pay extra. “It’s only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the Web healthy,” he said. “That is the most important concept of net neutrality.”

The FCC needs to look at the broad Internet industry, not just broadband providers, when it considers new net neutrality rules, McAdam said. Companies like Netflix, Apple, Microsoft and Google have a role, and “any rules will have to include all of these players,” he said.

McAdam called for the FCC to create “light touch” rules on net neutrality. The FCC needs to consider growing uses of broadband in medicine and other fields, he said. “Everything from health care to telematics to the energy grid need to be balanced with someone who’s trying to watch last year’s episode of [TV show] NCIS,” he said.

McAdam said he’s “encouraged” that the latest FCC effort may bring clarity on net neutrality rules.

 

Investors Drop Telecom Stocks, Fear Pricing War

February 4, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Shares in U.S. mobile operators dropped dramatically on Monday after a AT&T Inc price cut fueled fears from investors that market leader Verizon Wireless and other rivals would have to react.

AT&T shares closed down 4 percent a day after the No. 2 U.S. mobile services provider slashed the monthly fee for a data plan from $40 to $15.

Some analysts saw the price cut as a drastic step that could force rivals such as Verizon Communications to response with their own price cuts and, as a result, hurt profits across the industry. AT&T and T-Mobile have been at each other’s throats for months, with offers aimed at each other’s customers, but many analysts had hoped that fight would be contained.

Shares in Verizon fell 3 percent, as did No. 4 operator T-Mobile US shares, and Sprint stock ended down 5 percent after AT&T’s move on Sunday.

“Now we’re seeing real evidence of increasing competition having real cost to the industry,” said Jonathan Chaplin, a New Street Research analyst who saw the price cut as a sign that AT&T’s recent efforts to regain market share lost to T-Mobile had not been successful.

“It makes investors worry the market is really in trouble.”

AT&T lowered its monthly fee for a 10 gigabytes monthly data share plan aimed at families to $15 per device, from $40.

Chaplin expects the price cut to shave a relatively modest 0.5 percent to 1 percent off his previous estimate for AT&T 2014 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of $42.7 billion and a 1 to 2 percent cut to his 2015 EBITDA estimate of $43.3 billion.

But he sees the move as only one step in what could result in a bigger decline in prices across the industry.

“If this was the end, we wouldn’t care and neither would the market,” Chaplin said, but added: “World War I started with one archduke getting assassinated.”

The competitive pressure started with aggressive discounts by market laggard T-Mobile last year, which helped the company report three quarters of customer growth after four years of losses, mainly at AT&T’s expense.

AT&T countered on January 3 by offering to pay consumers to switch from T-Mobile, while No. 3-ranked Sprint promised big discounts for family and friend groups days later. T-Mobile then upped the ante with an offer to cover the hefty exit costs for consumers switching to its service.

T-Mobile’s announcement last month “may have pushed AT&T too hard,” making it fight back, J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Philip Cusick said on Monday.

“The back and forth in price cuts is a negative for the entire wireless industry,” J.P. Morgan’s Cusick said.

Some analysts had hoped that at least Verizon could stay above the battle, but Jefferies & Co analyst Mike McCormack said on Monday that AT&T’s new pricing plan also targets Verizon’s “prized” family plan customers.

McCormack said it was unlikely that Verizon would respond with service price discounts. But others were less convinced, as Verizon Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said this month that his company would react to competition when required.

“(Verizon) will be the one to watch, in our view as they have been on record saying it would react to price moves if they felt the need,” Wells Fargo Securities analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in a research note.

A Verizon Wireless spokesperson said that the company does not comment on its competitors plans.

 

Sprint Announces New ‘Framily’ Plan

January 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint will allow friends, neighbors or any other group sign up for savings on monthly bills under the Sprint Framily Plan, announced earlier this week.

Family plans can save money in traditional households of three or more people, but 60 percent of all U.S. households have only one or two people, and those are the fastest-growing kind, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse told the Citi 2014 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference taking place near International CES in Las Vegas. The Framily Plan, available starting Jan. 10, is designed for them.

Members of a “framily” won’t share a pool of data or receive a single bill, but they will pay less per month. The first subscriber will pay $55 per month for unlimited talk and text and 1GB of data, and every time another person joins, each member’s bill will go down by $5 per month. As many as 10 people can join a framily, but the maximum savings is $30 per month, bringing each member’s monthly bill to $25 plus taxes and surcharges. Then, any member who wants unlimited data instead of the 1GB limit can pay an extra $20 per month.

Buying a phone is separate from the Framily Plan. Subscribers have to either bring their own device or buy it from Sprint in installments. Those who upgrade to unlimited data will also be entitled to an annual upgrade to a new device.

Sprint’s new offer comes amid an upheaval in the ways U.S. consumers can buy devices and pay for mobile service. Unlike traditional family plans, the Framily Plan could bring a wide range of friends and acquaintances of Sprint subscribers into the company’s fold. Following its acquisition last year by Softbank, Sprint is still much smaller than AT&T or Verizon Wireless and looking to make up for subscribers lost during the shutdown of the former Nextel network last year.

 

T-Mobile Sees Strong US Customer Growth

January 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US has reported a fourth-quarter boost in customer growth and offered to pay customers to ditch rival service providers, escalating already intense competition in the U.S. wireless market.

The company, the No. 4 U.S. mobile operator, promised payments of up to $350 per line to consumers who break their contract with any of its bigger rivals and switch to T-Mobile.

The offer came just days after AT&T Inc promised a $200 credit to T-Mobile customers who switch. While AT&T also offered up to $250 for switching customers who trade in their phone, T-Mobile said it would pay up to $300 for trade-ins.

The companies have been targeting each other because they use the same network technology, making it easy for consumers to bring their phone when they switch, but some on Wall Street are concerned they will cause an industry-wide price war.

T-Mobile said it hoped that whole families as well as individuals would switch to its service in response to the new cash offer, which is aimed at covering early contract termination fees typically charged by wireless operators.

John Legere, the outspoken chief executive of T-Mobile, said he hoped the offer would end the “industry scam” of family plans, which tie entire families into long-term contracts.

Legere joked that AT&T’s recent offer would actually play to T-Mobile’s advantage because it would allow AT&T customers to try a different service with less financial risk than before.

“If it doesn’t work they’ll pay you to come back,” Legere said in announcing the offer at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

T-Mobile, which is 67 percent owned by Deutsche Telekom, managed to turn the corner on four years of customers losses in 2013 by criticizing its rivals and promoting its service plans as being more flexible and consumer friendly.

It said it added 1.645 million net customers in the fourth quarter, up from 1.023 million in the quarter before, marking its third quarter of customer growth for 2013.

The fourth-quarter additions included 869,000 valuable post-paid customers, which was up 13 percent from the third quarter, according to the company.

It said customer defections, known in the industry as churn, stayed at third-quarter levels of 1.7 percent and compared with 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

 

CTIA Debuts Website That Shows Apps Data Usage

December 30, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

A new website unveiled by mobile trade group CTIA shows smartphone and tablet users how much data is used by popular apps.

KnowMyApp.org, launched by CTIA late last week, allows mobile device owners to estimate an app’s data usage before it’s downloaded. This is the first tool allowing consumers to learn about an app’s data usage before downloading it, although there are tools available to measure an app’s data use after downloading, CTIA said.

CTIA has also aimed KnowMyApp.org at app developers, by giving them information about conserving data usage and minimizing impact to battery life, the trade group said.

Visitors to the website can search by app name, operating system or app categories. They can learn now the app was tested, how much data is used when an app is downloaded, at initialization, during active run time and during background time.

The website also includes information about how mobile device owners can conserve data.

KnowMyApp.org currently includes test results for the top 50 paid and free apps from the Apple and Google stores, and CTIA plans to add more apps each month. The trade group invites developers to submit apps to be tested.

The tool was developed through the CTIA’s Application Data Usage Working Group, with members including Apple, AT&T, Ericsson, HTC America, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon Wireless. Intertek developed the mobile app data usage benchmark testing using the AT&T Application Resource Optimizer, an open-source diagnostic tool that captures, analyzes and reports network app data usage to help developers create more efficient apps.

 

Sprint, T-Mobile Move Closer To Merger Deal

December 26, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank and German telecom operator Deutsche Telekom are close to a deal that would merge T-Mobile US with Sprint, eliminating one of the four major mobile competitors in the U.S., according to the Nikkei news agency.

SoftBank would pay more than 2 trillion yen ($19 billion) for a stake of up to 70 percent in T-Mobile, which is the fourth-largest mobile operator in the U.S.,Nikkei said, citing unnamed sources. SoftBank already owns a majority of Sprint, the country’s third-largest carrier. T-Mobile is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom.

The Wall Street Journal had reported earlier this month that Sprint was studying regulatory concerns about such a deal and might make an offer for T-Mobile in the first half of next year. The Nikkei story, posted on Wednesday in Japan, said the parent companies of Sprint and T-Mobile were in the final stages of talks on a possible deal. SoftBank might make its offer as early as spring 2014, Nikkei said, roughly matching the earlier report on timing.

A $19 billion price tag for T-Mobile would nearly equal the $21.6 billion that SoftBank paid for 78 percent of Sprint earlier this year.

Combining Sprint and T-Mobile would create a carrier with nearly 100 million customers, close to subscriber parity with AT&T and Verizon Wireless, each of which has more than 100 million. However, U.S. regulators might block such a transaction in order to preserve competition in the nation’s wireless industry. When the government shot down AT&T’s proposed takeover of T-Mobile in 2011, some regulators cited the need to keep four major rivals in the market.

T-Mobile has proved a scrappy competitor since emerging from the failed AT&T deal. In the past year, in a successful bid to make gains against its bigger rivals, the company has introduced new service and device-purchase plans that other U.S. carriers have emulated.

 

T-Mobile To Reveal Next Step In ‘Un-carrier’ Plan At CES

December 23, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile USA is gearing up to unveil the next step in its “un-carrier” plan at January’s CES in Las Vegas.

The No. 4 carrier sent invitations to reporters Friday for a CES press  conference Jan. 8.

“This one you aren’t going to believe,” the invitation read over the number “4.0″ in the background.

T-Mobile has been using such numbers to refer to successive iterations of its business strategy, dubbed “un-carrier” by CEO John Legere.

Legere is seeking to boost T-Mobile’s share of the U.S. market by attempting to woo customers with pricing and services that are different from its bigger competitors: AT&T, Verizon and Sprint.

So far, the company has simplified pricing plans, done away with phone subsidies, begun offering free international data roaming over 2G networks and said it will offer 200MB of data per month over its 4G LTE network at no charge to tablet PC users who sign up for a Mobile Internet account.

No further details of the company’s CES announcement were immediately available.

In the last week, several news reports said number-three carrier Sprint isconsidering an acquisition of T-Mobile USA. Sprint was acquired itself earlier this year by Japan’s SoftBank.

 

Verizon Acquires EdgeCast

December 11, 2013 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon has signed an agreement to buy EdgeCast Networks, in an attempt to enhance its video delivery and Web services capabilities.

The growth of online video, both in fixed and mobile networks has made content delivery networks such as EdgeCast and the services they offer more interesting. Verizon’s Digital Media Services unit will integrate EdgeCast’s capabilities to further improve “ability to meet the exponential growth in online digital media content, as well as broaden its portfolio of site acceleration services for enterprises,” the operator said earlier this week.

With the acquisition, Verizon will get its hands on EdgeCast’s content delivery network, a global network of servers that can be used to handle traffic spikes, stream content to thousands of viewers concurrently, or secure websites from attacks, according to EdgeCast.

This isn’t the first time this year Verizon has opened its wallet to improve its video distribution capabilities. Last month, Verizon announced the acquisition of technology from upLynk that streamlines the process of uploading and encoding video for live, linear and video-on-demand content.

EdgeCast’s list of customers includes Pinterest, Kellogg’s, Mercedes, Yahoo and WordPress.

The financial details of the deal were not revealed, but Verizon’s and EdgeCast’s board of directors have approved the acquisition and Verizon hopes to finalize it early next year, it said. Once the deal is complete, Verizon will compete with the likes of Akamai Technologies.

Today, online video is the biggest contributor to mobile traffic volumes, constituting 25% of total smartphone traffic and 40% of total tablet traffic, according to a recent report from telecom vendor Ericsson.

The rising number of smartphone subscriptions is the main driver for mobile-data traffic growth in the coming years. Users consuming more data per subscription — mainly driven by video — is adding to this. A compound annual growth rate of around 45% for data traffic is expected between 2013 and 2019 or by a factor of 10 during the whole period, Ericsson said.