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News tagged: hardware


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by Karl Bode 05:43PM Wednesday Feb 25 2015
"If you make it easy, we will come. If you make it hard, enjoy your Time Warner Cable,” Google Fiber's Milo Medin told attendees of a Comptel Competition and Innovation Summit this week. Medin was speaking on a panel about network deployment, fresh off of Google's announcement that it will be expanding Google Fiber into Charlotte, Nashville, Atlanta and Raleigh/Durham.

According to Medin (who longtime readers may remember from his @Home days), cities can do a lot to improve their area's chances when it comes to next-gen broadband deployment:
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Medin cited byzantine permission processes (including a fetish for faxes) and an inability to provide accurate information about infrastructure as prime reasons that hurt some cities’ chances to attract new broadband services...Medin, who was speaking on a panel about network deployment, added that some markets in the U.S. are simply uneconomic for internet providers to enter, and that local telephone companies are reluctant to grant access to key telephone pole infrastructure.
Numerous cities have been so eager to get Google Fiber, they've signed rather sweetheart deals that, for example, allow Google to simply walk away from builds should TV subscriber uptake numbers not be met. Perks also include the right to redline and cherry pick deployment neighborhoods (though the resulting digital divide may be obscured by fun "fiberhood" rallies), something traditional ISPs have lusted after for years -- but found blocked by many traditional franchise obligations.

Of course it's not quite as simple as fixing all of your city's restrictions and suddenly finding yourself awash in $70, 1 Gbps connections. Thousands of cities have petitioned Google for service, and so far Google Fiber's still only actively functioning in a few thousand homes in Austin, Kansas City and Provo. As noted repeatedly, Google Fiber's effort is in some ways a PR experiment designed to encourage a nationwide conversation on a lack of real broadband competition and how we plan to fix it.

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by Karl Bode 09:04AM Wednesday Feb 25 2015
Last week, we noted how the NSA had been caught hacking into Gemalto, the world's largest product of SIM cards for cellular carriers around the world. The report over at The Intercept went into great detail regarding how NSA hackers managed to compromise numerous PCs at the company, resulting in the theft of billions of encryption keys used by 450 different carriers in 85 countries around the world.

After initially saying they had absolutely no idea an attack occurred, Gemalto has issued a report on their investigation into the matter, and have concluded that an intrusion "probably happened."

The document is clearly aimed at damage control and keeping Gemalto stock price from plummeting further, concluding that the attacks "could not have resulted in a massive theft of SIM encryption keys." If a large-scale theft of encryption keys happened, claims the company, it was likely the fault of one of the company's many partners, claims Gemalto.

"It is extremely difficult to remotely attack a large number of SIM cards on an individual basis," claims the report. "This fact, combined with the complex architecture of our networks, explains why the intelligence services instead chose to target the data as it was transmitted between suppliers and mobile operators," stated the company.

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by Karl Bode 08:10AM Monday Feb 23 2015
You'll recall that Google Wallet was blocked by AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile as those companies focused on their own mobile payment service (first called ISIS, now called SoftCard). Unfortunately SoftCard and to a lesser degree Google Wallet have struggled to see adoption in the face of Apple's new Apple Pay service.
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by Karl Bode 12:34PM Thursday Feb 19 2015
Sprint today announced that the company has extended their faster "Spark" upgrades to dozens of new markets. The Kansas City Business Journal received early word that Sprint's LTE network will soon go live in twenty-four new markets, including Flagstaff, Arizona, Washington DC, and Pueblo, Colorado. The company's faster Spark upgrades are similarly going live in another twenty four markets, including Providence, Rhode Island and Spokane, Washington. According to Sprint their LTE network now reaches 270 million potential customers, and their tri-band Spark offering (with theoretical top speeds of 50-60Mbps) reaches 125 million potential customers.

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by Karl Bode 09:05AM Thursday Feb 19 2015
Samsung recently found itself at the center of a controversy after somebody actually bothered to read the company's privacy policy to discover the company's TVs potentially record and transmit snippets of living room conversation to help improve voice command functionality. At the time, Samsung responded by declaring that this wasn't a particularly big deal since nothing of note was being collected, and the data transmitted from the sets over the Internet was encrypted.
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by Karl Bode 11:11AM Wednesday Feb 18 2015
If you recall, back in 2013 carriers agreed to a voluntary new set of guidelines requiring they ease off of their phone unlocking restrictions a bit. As part of the agreement carriers had to do a better job communicating their policies, provide clear explanation if they refuse to unlock, and automatically alert users when it's possible for their devices to be unlocked (they apparently really balked at this last one, but ultimately acquiesced).
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by Karl Bode 03:21PM Wednesday Feb 11 2015
Samsung took a lot of heat this week after their privacy policy illustrated the company may record snippets of living room conversations and send them to third parties to improve voice control technology. But in a far more troubling move, Samsung this week was also caught using their smart TVs to inject thirty-second ads into video streams.
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by Karl Bode 01:54PM Wednesday Feb 11 2015
If you recall, back in 2013 carriers agreed to a voluntary new set of guidelines requiring they ease off of their phone unlocking restrictions a bit. As part of the agreement carriers had to do a better job communicating their policies, provide clear explanation if they refuse to unlock, and automatically alert users when it's possible for their devices to be unlocked (they apparently really balked at this last one, but ultimately acquiesced).
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by TheMole 12:30PM Monday Feb 09 2015
Samsung is taking some heat for the fact their newest "smart" TVs may record, store and distribute recorded conversations in the home. Over the last few years Microsoft, Comcast and Verizon have all filed patents for DVR technology that would monitor people in your living room to deliver more suitable ads.
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by Karl Bode 10:15AM Tuesday Jan 20 2015
In late 2013 Motorola, then under the Google umbrella, unveiled plans for a modular smartphone by the name of Ara. The idea is to allow users to buy a base platform for their smartphone, then buy, mix and match a variety of upgrades for the device they can switch in and out depending what they need.
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by Karl Bode 09:35AM Thursday Jan 15 2015
Reuters reports that Samsung recently approached Blackberry with a buy out offer that topped out at $7.5 billion. Executives from both companies met last week to discuss a potential transaction, though neither side is obviously commenting on the rumor.
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by Karl Bode 10:45AM Friday Jan 09 2015
As we've been noting, Comcast is one of several cable operators that has been very quickly increasing monthly modem rental fees, something it's estimated brings Comcast around $300 million in additional revenue -- per quarter. On the heels of Comcast recently bumping their modem rental fee from $8 to $10, one Boston Comcast customer complained to the FCC.
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by Karl Bode 08:05AM Friday Jan 09 2015
Speaking at CES this week, Netflix has announced a new "Recommended TV" program the company says will "help consumers identify televisions built for a superior Internet TV experience." According to the company's press release, TVs that feature the Netflix Recommended TV logo on it "will provide an excellent Netflix experience, based on criteria our members tell us matter most.’’" It's unclear from the press release if Netflix is just slapping a sticker on televisions made by companies that pay Netflix, or if there's an actual detailed criteria for inclusion in the program. The company says TVs by Sony Electronics, LG Electronics, Sharp Electronics, and VIZIO will be the first to don the new classification sometime this Spring.

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by Karl Bode 09:07AM Wednesday Jan 07 2015
Speaking at CES, Charter Communications this week unveiled a new cloud-based TV platform and set top box the company hopes will bring customers a more "state of the art" TV viewing experience. According to the company's press release, Cisco's providing the cloud-based security suite, DRM, and downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) for the company's next-gen video platform.
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by Karl Bode 12:48PM Tuesday Jan 06 2015
Broadcom this week announced at CES that the company has announced their first "system on a chip" design based on the freshly-built DOCSIS 3.1 standard, paving the way for 1 Gbps cable service to the home. According to the company announcement, these 1 Gbps offering should start arriving this year, though most deployments aren't expected to ramp up in scale until 2016.
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by Karl Bode 08:28AM Monday Jan 05 2015
Rather unsurprisingly, Roku has announced their support for 4K streaming via a number of solutions that should be unveiled this week at CES. According to a company announcement (pdf), the company has prepared a Roku TV reference design for 4K smart TVs for license to TV OEM partners. Out of the gate the first two Roku 4K-supported TVs will be coming from the Haier and Best Buy Insignia brands, the latter arriving sometime in the Spring and the former arriving sometime later this year. There's no word yet on an official date for their set top devices getting 4K integration, but it's something the company acknowledges is in the works.

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by Karl Bode 06:40PM Monday Dec 29 2014
Back in October we noted that Marriott agreed to pay a $600,000 fine to the FCC for blocking user access to their own tethered phones or mobile hotspots, instead forcing convention center attendees to use Marriott's pricey Wi-Fi. At the time we noted how this was a pretty clear example of Marriott simply using technology in an uncompetitive fashion, though in filings since Marriott has attempted to argue they were only looking out for the welfare and security of their customers.
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by Karl Bode 10:31AM Friday Dec 19 2014
CableLabs continues to push the DOCSIS 3.1 standard to completion, which means that significantly faster cable speeds are just over the horizon. According to a CableLabs announcement, six unnamed hardware vendors have completed the first round of interoperability tests for new DOCSIS 3.1 products, gear that will someday be capable of offering 10 Gbps downstream and 1 Gbps upstream.
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by Karl Bode 02:10PM Thursday Dec 18 2014
You might recall that back in February Blackberry CEO John Chen insisted he was "outraged" that T-Mobile was running a promotion aimed at selling discounted iPhones to Blackberry users. A few months of subsequent snark resulted in Blackberry stating they wouldn't be renewing an expiring licensing arrangement with T-Mobile. Comments made by both T-Mobile and Blackberry suggest that the companies are healing any rifts made by the verbal scuffle, even though it remains entirely unclear when exactly an actual deal could emerge:
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Answering media questions after T-Mobile's Uncarrier 8.0 launch on Tuesday, Legere said that he's open to finding a way for T-Mobile customers to have BlackBerry phones, provided the handset maker cooperates. Chen then told CNet today at its BlackBerry Classic event that he was also open to it and should connect with Legere (although I imagine he'd like to do it in person and not over Twitter).
Chen's move was curious given that after the last few years, Blackberry still needs all the friends it can get.

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by Karl Bode 10:16AM Tuesday Dec 16 2014
HBO Go this week announced that the streaming service has been made available to Amazon Fire TV owners today, with Fire Stick customers having access to the app sometime in the Spring. Of course if you head to activate your device, you'll find that Comcast and Charter aren't supported.
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