As Karl Bode noted last month
, Google’s installation of a telecom cabinet in the middle of a sidewalk caused a bit of an issue with residents of Kansas City, MO. Now, others seem to be having similar issues with the installation of Google fiber boxes. Reports of uprooted trees and large holes have been sent in by viewers to KCTV
in Kansas City.
One resident woke up one morning to find a crew digging behind, in front, and besides her residence:
Betty Ulschak has been in her Kansas City home on Drury Lane for over 50 years. "My husband totally rebuilt this house. It used to look like that but he rebuilt it," she said. When she saw crews digging in her yard, in front and beside her home, she didn't understand what was happening. "I said, ‘who are you and what are you doing in my yard?' And they said, ‘we are just doing our job' and I said, ‘well, what job is that?' ‘We are Google people and we are doing our job,'" Ulschak said.
As the article notes, Betty most likely doesn’t realize what is and isn’t ‘technically’ her property as Kansas City owns the easements and right-of-ways near her home. Additionally, a Google spokesperson told KCTV that the ten feet surrounding a utility pole in her yard belonged to the city.
Although Google would most likely win any legal challenge from residents of Kansas City about this type construction, it should be noted that contractors are required to leave a note on a person's door if their crews are planning to walk through that person’s property.
Seeing as how Google is beginning to install fiber huts in Shawnee, Kansas
, Google can and should make it a point going forward to stay on top of these types of notifications for homeowners whose yards are about to be ripped up.
By this point, most of us are familiar with the concept of COWs
, or cellular towers on wheels. They're usually brought in either during major events like the Superbowl -- or during natural disasters to quickly shore up cellular infrastructure.
HBO has announced that they continue to expand availability of their HBO Go streaming effort, which is this week being made available on the Sony Playstation 3
. However, once again highlighting the fractured and often annoying tendency of content agreements and the "TV Everywhere" approach, Comcast users won't be able to use the new functionality.
Roku has officially announced the new $50 Roku Streaming Stick, which the company hopes will more directly compete with Google's $35 Chromecast Internet TV device. According to the company website
features an HDMI port on one end and a micro-USB port on the other, allowing inexpensive access to most of the content and channels made available on Roku's larger devices.
TechCrunch story continues..
is the first to report that Facebook is preparing to purchase drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace for $60 million. The deal is being struck as part of Facebook's Internet.org effort
, which explores ways to bring broadband access to developing nations like Africa.
Google appears to be working on a new application that will store all of your credentials for the company's Starbucks locations -- as well as potentially Boingo hotspots, notes Engadget
. The app woulud utilize a user's Google account installing a dedicated security certificate on their device to automatically authenticate devices when a connection is available (we're obviously talking about bypassing browser-based authentication requirements, here). The app comes as hardware vendors start more seriously testing Hotspot 2.0 and Next Generation Hotspots (NGH) that should also highly simplify the login process
, especially if you're offered free Wi-Fi through your cell carrier (like AT&T).
Chatty anonymous sources tell ReCode
that Amazon is gearing up for a March rollout of a new Internet video set top box, which would compete directly with Apple TV and Roku's line of products while obviously heavily pushing Amazon's streaming video offerings. Amazon vehemently denied last month
that they were "not planning to license television channels or offer a pay-TV service," but that was worded in such a way as to not exclude the box itself. As you might expect the box will be Android powered and will very likely carry the Kindle brand name.
As we've recently noted
, Austin is starting to resemble the kind of competitive market most of us only dream about. Thanks to Google Fiber, AT&T is now planning to offer $70, 1 Gbps connections in the city -- recently joined by Grande Communications, who says they too will offer 1 Gbps lines for $65 a month
T-Mobile continues to be a disruptive force in the market, and will soon announce some additional tweaks to the company's "Jump
" handset early upgrade program. According to a leaked memo obtained by TMONews
, on February 23rd T-Mobile will announce several changes to Jump, including the elimination of the 6 month waiting period, the elimination of limits on how often customers can upgrade, and the inclusion of tablets as part of the program.
A source gives the website a little more detail on how exactly the lifting of several existing restrictions will work:
•Current customers with the original JUMP! feature will be grandfathered in and will still be able to upgrade before paying off half of the device, as long as they’ve had JUMP! for 6 months or more.
•New customers adding JUMP! will be able to upgrade whenever they like, as long as they trade-in their current phone and 50% of the phone cost is paid by doing so. At least, that’s how we understand it."
There's some missing details there that should be clearer when T-Mobile makes the announcement official on February 23.
Several users have written in to note that Verizon appears to be slowly shuttering their FiOS retail stores, on the heels of having largely frozen any significant FiOS expansion. In conversations with Verizon, I've confirmed that the company will be closing their eight "Verizon Plus" stores in California, the remaining five stores in Texas, as well as three stores in Florida as of March 30. story continues..
For almost half a year users have been complaining
that Verizon Wireless was being absurdly slow about certifying the Nexus 7 tablet for use on their network. Verizon kept offering vague technical explanations as to why certification was taking so long, yet conveniently managed to launch and promote their own, inferior, bloatware-loaded tablet
during the period while everybody was waiting for the Nexus 7 to get certified (surely just a strange coincidence, right?). Regardless, Verizon has announced
users can activate their tablets starting today, or buy an LTE, 32 GB model from Verizon for $350 -- or $250 with a two-year contract.
There have been rumors for years that Apple wanted to do something truly disruptive in the TV sector (like a new subscription TV service). Unfortunately those repeated rumors
have never amounted to much of anything because Apple keeps running into the same problem every other company that attempts this does: stubborn broadcasters who are terrified of the existing cash cow being disrupted.
Last fall the FAA lifted restrictions on in-flight electronics use during take offs and landing, and last January the FCC began rulemaking to lift the restrictions on in-flight phone calls. Wheeler and the FCC took a lot of heat for that move
(and is still fielding mostly negative comments
on the idea).
Comcast's shiny new X1 platform has slowly been getting deployed nationwide, with the company's X2 update
coming on its heels offering significantly more set top advancements. However, as users in our forums note
, Comcast is sending alerts to users stating that "commencing March 15, 2014, a one-time X1 Platform Upgrade fee of $49.99 may apply to existing Xfinity customers upgrading to the X1 services platform" (some users are charged $100). According to the Comcast website
, the X1 Platform Upgrade Fee enables Comcast "to continue developing and enhancing the features of the X1 Platform."
Last week we noted that hacker collective NullCrew had claimed that they'd hacked Comcast's mail servers
, the group posting evidence of an exploit impacting 34 Comcast mail servers that were vulnerable to one local file inclusion vulnerability exploit. Comcast has refused to respond to media inquiries about the possible exposure of user data
(us included), sending their only public comment on the hack to cable trade magazine Multichannel News
, insisting they are "aggressively" investigating the incident:
"We're aware of the situation and are aggressively investigating it," a Comcast spokesman said. "We take our customers' privacy and security very seriously, and we currently have no evidence to suggest any personal customer information was obtained in this incident."
The problem is that while it doesn't appear that NullCrew posted any user data, they did post the vulnerability for all to see for around 24 hours, meaning it's very possible that user data was in fact exposed. Changing your passwords just to be safe might not be a bad idea.
In April of last year, wireless carriers and the government announced
that they'd be collaborating on building a new nationwide database to track stolen phones (specifically the IMEI number, not just the SIM card ID). The goal is to reduce the time that stolen phones remain useful, thereby drying up the market for stolen phones and reducing the ability of criminals to use the devices to dodge surveillance.
Last June, Comcast took a page from services like Fon and started offering users routers configured out of the box to provide free Wi-Fi to any other Comcast users in range
. At the time, Comcast noted that user could disable this second, public "xfinitywifi" SSID, though it would be enabled by default. Amusingly, it appears that some people didn't pay attention to Comcast's announcement, and are now suddenly shocked to learn they've been providing Wi-Fi
to the neighborhood via what one reporter implies is a nefarious "trojan horse":
When Comcast asked Ronaldo Boschulte to swap out his malfunctioning broadband modem and Wi-Fi router with an all-new model late last year, he didn't know the Internet device was a high-tech Trojan horse of sorts. Comcast fessed up a bit later in an email to the Maple Grove man...“I didn't know it had a hotspot” feature, the accountant said. “That was pretty much a surprise." Boschulte has plenty of company in this regard — and not all are thrilled about it.
Fortunately Comcast's usage cap trials
don't include the publicly-available Wi-Fi, which would certainly only add to the confusion.
Users in our Comcast forum
note that Comcast has ramped up deployment of their "X2" set top box upgrade, with all of the company's X1 set top customers now getting the upgrade by default. The X2 provides a host of improvements for Comcast TV customers, and will be the platform the company's upcoming cloud DVR functionality rides on the back of. A post by Comcast over at their official forums
notes that "X2" is simply an internal naming convention for the latest upgrades, and that the "consumer facing" brand for the upgrade will remain X1. As the X2 is a software update, X1 users had previously been given several temporary sneak peaks
at the upgrade previously.
Last night I started tinkering with a new Roku 3 and Plex
, a combination that's delivering a lot of surprisingly impressive (to me, anyway) functionality promised but not delivered by more expensive devices like Microsoft's Xbox One. I then decided I'd finally give Aereo
a whirl, in the hopes of catching the Super Bowl or some Olympics coverage ahead of any potential Supreme Court imposed shutdown.
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