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Android

Thousands of Note 7 Phones Still in Use On Verizon, All Non-911 Calls To Be Rerouted To Customer Service (cnet.com) 133

Thousands of Verizon customers continue to use the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, the carrier said. This despite the widely publicized recalls spurred by battery fire concerns and a software upgrade designed to kill the phone by preventing it from recharging. From a report: "In spite of our best efforts, there are still customers using the recalled phones who have not returned or exchanged their Note 7 to the point of purchase," a Verizon spokeswoman said. "The recalled Note 7s pose a safety risk to our customers and those around them." So now Verizon is fighting fire with fire, so to speak. The carrier plans to reroute all non-911 outgoing calls to its customer service line, and it might bill the holdouts for the full retail cost of the phone.
Businesses

Verizon Looking To Buy Comcast or Charter, Says Report (nypost.com) 80

"Two well-placed sources" told The New York Post that Verizon is considering purchasing a big cable company to help it grow demand for its wireless data products. The source said the most likely targets would be "Charter or Comcast." New York Post reports: Verizon Chief Executive Lowell McAdam may be getting ready to answer rival ATT's moves to buy DirecTV and Time Warner. To be sure, Verizon is not in talks with any cable company and may not ever make such a move. Still, McAdam has been under pressure recently with Verizon's deal to acquire Yahoo still a question mark months after two major hacks of the internet portal were revealed. The wireless giants operate on 4G wireless networks but are preparing to become a real alternative to the cable company with phone, TV and data services. To do that more effectively, the phone companies are pouring money into 5G connections that can work with cable systems to provide more stable coverage for consumers. McAdam has already given Wall Street analysts and investors big hints that he's looking at a combination with, say, a Charter Communications. In a mid-December meeting with Wall Street analysts, McAdam said a get-together between the two "makes industrial sense." Three weeks later, at CES, his comments to friends make it clear that cable distribution is a path he is exploring, perhaps more seriously than first thought. "For regulatory reasons, Verizon can't dominate in FiOS and cable, so it appears to have to set its sights on cable," an industry source said. Charter could be a seller under the right conditions, the source added, emphasizing that Malone and Charter CEO Tom Rutledge are just getting going on their vision for Charter.
AT&T

New FCC Report Says AT&T and Verizon Zero-Rating Violates Net Neutrality (theverge.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Just a week and a half before he is set to leave office, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has issued a new report stating that the zero-rated video services offered by ATT and Verizon may violate the FCC's Open Internet Order. Assembled by the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, the report focuses on sponsored data programs, which allow companies to pay carriers to exempt exempt their data from customers' data caps. According to the report, many of those packages simply aren't playing fair. "While observing that ATT provided incomplete responses to staff inquires," Wheeler wrote to Senators, "the report states that the limited information available supports a conclusion that ATT offers Sponsored Data to third-party content providers at terms and conditions that are effectively less favorable than those it offers to its affiliate, DirecTV." In theory, sponsored data should be an even playing field, with providers bearing the costs and making the same charges regardless of who's footing the bill. But according to the report, ATT treats the DirectTV partnership very differently from an unaffiliated sponsored data system, giving the service a strong advantage over competitors. "ATT appears to view the network cost of Sponsored Data for DIRECTV Now as effectively de minimis," the report concludes. While ATT still bears some cost for all that free traffic, it's small enough that the carrier doesn't seem to care. The report raises similar concerns regarding Verizon's Go90 program, although it concludes Verizon's program may be less damaging. Notably, the letter does not raise the same concerns about T-Mobile's BingeOn video deal, since it "charges all edge providers the same zero rate for participating."
Businesses

The End of Yahoo: Marissa Mayer To Resign; Yahoo To Change Its Name To Altaba (arstechnica.com) 399

maxcelcat writes: Spotted on The Register's twitter feed: Yahoo! Submission to The SEC. Most of the board is leaving, including CEO Marissa Mayer. The company has been bought by Verizon and is changing its name to Altaba Inc. I'm old enough to remember when Yahoo was a series of directories on a University's computers, where you could browse a hierarchical list of websites by category. And here I am watching the company's demise. According to the regulatory filing, the changes will take place after the sale of its core business is completed with Verizon for roughly $4.8 billion. The Wall Street Journal notes: "Verizon officials have indicated all options remain possible, including renegotiating the terms of the deal or walking away."
Network

Verizon Purges Unlimited Data Customers, Targets Those Using 200GB (arstechnica.com) 196

If you're a Verizon customer on an unlimited data plan who uses more than 200GB a month, you will soon need to switch to a limited plan or be disconnected, according to Verizon. "Because our network is a shared resource and we need to ensure all customers have a great mobile experience with Verizon, we are notifying a small group of customers on unlimited plans who use more than 200GB a month that they must move to a Verizon Plan by February 16, 2017," Verizon spokesperson Kelly Crummey told Ars Technica today. Ars reports: Since Verizon stopped offering unlimited data to new smartphone customers in 2011, this change affects only longtime customers who were allowed to hang on to the old plans. Verizon could simply force all customers who aren't under contract to switch to new plans, but instead it has periodically made moves that reduce the numbers of unlimited data subscribers. This policy will apply to people who average more than 200GB "over several months," Verizon said. Customers who do not move to limited plans "will be disconnected," Verizon confirmed. On limited plans, customers get reduced speeds after they exceed monthly data limits unless they purchase extra 4G LTE data. Verizon previously purged its unlimited data rolls in August 2016. In that case, Verizon set a limit of 500GB a month, the company told Ars today. This is more specific information than we previously reported. Shortly before the August 2016 move, Verizon told us that it was targeting customers who were "using data amounts well in excess of our largest plan size (100GB)," but Verizon did not specify that it was only targeting customers using at least 500GB. With the threshold being dropped from 500GB to 200GB, the latest move will affect customers who weren't using enough data to be caught up in the last round.
Verizon

Verizon Executive Says Company Unsure About Yahoo Deal (reuters.com) 70

A senior executive of Verizon said on Thursday the company was unsure about its planned acquisition of Yahoo's internet business. From a report on Reuters: "I can't sit here today and say with confidence one way or another because we still don't know," Marni Walden, president of product innovation and new businesses, said at the Citi 2017 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Las Vegas.To walk away, Verizon likely will have to show the overall value of Yahoo has declined as a result of the two hacking disclosures. "I have to have certain facts in order to be able to make a decision," she told WSJ. "There's a lot of stuff we don't know."
AT&T

Verizon and AT&T Prepare to Bring 5G To (Select) Markets In 2017 (ieee.org) 53

An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum: This year, Verizon and AT&T plan to deliver broadband internet to select homes or businesses using fixed wireless networks built with early 5G technologies. These 5G pilot programs will give the public its first glimpse into a wireless future that isn't due to fully arrive until the early 2020s. With 5G, carriers hope to deliver data to smartphone users at speeds 10 times as fast as on today's 4G networks, and with only 1 millisecond of delay... Over the past year, companies have completed a flurry of lab tests and trials to figure out what types of radios, antennas, and signal processing techniques will work best to deliver 5G in hopes of bringing those technologies and their capabilities to market as soon as possible.
The article notes that standards groups are halfway through their eight-year process of finalizing technical specifications (set to finish in 2020), but "With so much cash on the line, and facing pressure from data-hungry customers, carriers are moving fast." In Japan, NTT Docomo has even tested dozens of programmable antennas simultaneously transmitting signals, resulting in transmissions at 20 gigabits per second. "At that speed, a complete 2-hour, 1080p, high-definition movie can be transmitted in a second and a half."
Security

Nigerian Man Charged in Hacking of Los Angeles County Emails (theguardian.com) 44

A 'mere' 10.8% phishing success rate has forced Los Angeles County to notify approximately 756,000 individuals that their personal information may have been compromised. The attack occurred on May 13, 2016 when 1,000 County employees received phishing emails. 108 employees were successfully phished. A Nigerian national has been charged in connection with the hack. From a report on The Guardian: Many large organizations would welcome a 10% success rate in their internal anti-phishing training sessions, with 30% and above being common. The 2016 Verizon DBIR suggests that 30% of all phishing emails are opened. The high number of individuals affected from a relatively low number of successes in LA County demonstrates how dangerous phishing attacks can be. The nature of the potentially compromised information is also concerning. "That information may have included first and last names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, driver's license or state identification numbers, payment card information, bank account information, home addresses, phone numbers, and/or medical information, such as Medi-Cal or insurance carrier identification numbers, diagnosis, treatment history, or medical record numbers," said the County of Los Angeles Chief Executive Office in a statement.
Google

Google Joins the Open Source Cloud Foundry Foundation (betanews.com) 6

BrianFagioli quotes a report from BetaNews: Today, Google announces that it has joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a gold member. This is yet another example of the search giant's open source focus. Google joins some other respected companies at this membership level, such as Verizon, GE Digital, and Huawei to name a few. For whatever reason, the search giant stopped short of committing as the highest-level platinum member, however. "From the beginning, our goal for Google Cloud Platform has been to build the most open cloud for all developers and businesses alike, and make it easy for them to build and run great software. A big part of this is being an active member of the open source community and working directly with developers where they are, whether they're at an emerging startup or a large enterprise. Today we're pleased to announce that Google has joined the Cloud Foundry Foundation as a Gold member to further our commitment to these goals", says Brian Stevens, Vice President, Google Cloud.
AT&T

AT&T, Verizon Tell FCC To Back Off On Net Neutrality Complaints (theverge.com) 102

ATT and Verizon have responded to the FCC's letters that argued the way the two companies handle the practice of exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers' smartphones can hurt competition and consumers. The Verge reports: The companies defended the programs, which allow select data sources to not count toward customers' data plans through a process known as zero-rating. Although it did not explicitly ban them in new net neutrality rules laid out last year, the FCC has been critical of such programs, arguing that they can be used to hurt competition by unfairly favoring some data, creating an uneven playing field for businesses. In a noticeably pointed response, ATT takes a similar line to the position it's held all along: programs like Data Free TV, which allows customers to use data from ATT-owned DirecTV without it counting toward a plan, are not anticompetitive, but are simply a perk consumers enjoy. Verizon, in its response, makes similar arguments defending its FreeBee data program, which allows data from Verizon-owned Go90 to not count toward a data plan. "FreeBee data provides tangible benefits to consumers by increasing the amount of what they can do and watch online, at no cost to them," the company's response says.
Android

Verizon Changes Its Mind and Will Kill Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 on January 5th (theverge.com) 96

Verizon has just announced that it plans to roll out Samsung's upcoming Note 7 update, which permanently stops the recalled smartphone from charging and disables its wireless radios, on January 5th. Only last week, the leading US carrier took a controversial stance when it said it would "not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note 7 users that do not have another device to switch to." From a report on The Verge: The company was particularly concerned about nuking the Note 7 during the holiday travel season, something that its US rivals also seemed to take into consideration when scheduling a roll-out date for the update. AT&T is waiting until the very same day. Sprint will release it on January 8th. And T-Mobile's going first among major US carriers on December 27th. Verizon still seems to think it's making the right decision pushing things off a bit for the same reasons. "We want to make sure you can contact family, first responders, and emergency medical professionals during the holiday travel season."
Yahoo!

Verizon Explores Lower Price or Even Exit From Yahoo Deal (bloomberg.com) 52

Verizon is reconsidering its $4.8 billion purchase of Yahoo, according to Bloomberg. Citing a source, the publication claims that Wednesday's announcement by Yahoo -- theft of info from one billion users -- has led Verizon to consider scrapping the deal entirely. From the report: While a Verizon group led by AOL Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong is still focused on integration planning to get Yahoo up and running, another team, walled off from the rest, is reviewing the breach disclosures and the company's options, said the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. A legal team led by Verizon General Counsel Craig Silliman is assessing the damage from the breaches and is working toward either killing the deal or renegotiating the Yahoo purchase at a lower price, the person said. One of the major objectives for Verizon is negotiating a separation from any future legal fallout from the breaches. Verizon is seeking to have Yahoo assume any lasting responsibility for the hack damage, the person said.
Security

Yahoo Says Hackers Stole Information From Over 1 Billion Accounts (go.com) 71

An anonymous reader quotes a breaking report from ABC News: Yahoo says it believes hackers stole data from more than one billion user accounts in August 2013. The Sunnyvale, California, company says it's a different breach from the one it disclosed in September, when it said 500 million accounts were exposed. That new hack revelation raises questions about whether Verizon will try to change the terms of its $4.8 billion proposed acquisition of Yahoo. Yahoo says the information stolen may include names, email addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and security questions and answers. The company says it believes bank-account information and payment-card data were not affected.
Android

Verizon Says It Will Not Push Samsung's Update That Disables Galaxy Note7 Because Of User Inconvenience (verizon.com) 192

Samsung confirmed on Friday that it will indeed release an update to Galaxy Note7 smartphones in the United States to "prevent US Galaxy Note7 devices from charging and will eliminate their ability to work as mobile devices." In a new wrinkle to this whole situation, Verizon said today it will not be releasing Samsung's software update to Galaxy Note7 users on Verizon network. In a blog post, Verizon said: "Verizon will not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note 7 users that do not have another device to switch to. We will not push a software upgrade that will eliminate the ability for the Note 7 to work as a mobile device in the heart of the holiday travel season. We do not want to make it impossible to contact family, first responders or medical professionals in an emergency situation." To recall, the Galaxy Note7 remains banned on airlines by the FAA and has also been prohibited from being used on many other public transit services in the United States. Elsewhere in the world, similar bans have been imposed on the phone.
Cellphones

Samsung May Permanently Disable Galaxy Note 7 Phones In The US As Soon As Next Week (theverge.com) 193

Those who are still clinging on to their Galaxy Note 7, even after Samsung recalled the devices due to faulty batteries in mid-September, may want to seriously reconsider returning them to the Korean company. The Verge has obtained an image of an alert that went out to at least one Note 7 owner on U.S. Cellular today stating that, "As of December 15th, Samsung will modify the software to prevent the Galaxy Note 7 from charging. The phone will no longer work." The Verge reports: It's not clear whether Note 7s will be disabled across the major U.S. carriers as well, but it seems likely that'll be the case. In the past, updates disabling Note 7 features have rolled out across Verizon, ATT, and other carriers within a matter of days. That's probably what'll happen here, as well. By preventing the phone from charging, Samsung takes the final step to making the phone entirely unusable. It's still offering Note 7 owners the ability to fully return the phone or exchange it for another Samsung device. As of November 4th, when Samsung last provided an update, 85 percent of Note 7s sold in the U.S. had been recovered. That still left around 285,000 phones unaccounted for. Completely disabling the phone seems to be Samsung's last-ditch effort to either recover the remaining devices or remove what risk they still pose to consumers.
AT&T

FCC Calls Out AT&T, Verizon For 'Zero Rating' Their Own Video Apps (zdnet.com) 56

U.S. regulators are calling out AT&T and Verizon for exempting their own video apps from data caps on customers' smartphones. The FCC has sent letters to the country's biggest wireless carriers saying the way they handle the practice, known as "zero rating," can hurt competition and consumers. From a report on ZDNet: AT&T launched DirecTV Now earlier this week. AT&T Mobility customers can stream video data over LTE without impacting their data allowance. Verizon offers something similar with its go90 service. AT&T and Verizon don't see any wrongdoing. In a statement Friday, AT&T said exempting services like DirecTV Now from data caps saves customers money. Verizon said its practices are good for consumers and comply with regulations. "We will provide the FCC with additional information on why the government should not take away a service that saves consumers money," AT&T wrote in a statement Friday. The FCC hasn't released any official ruling on "zero rating," just guidance. It said on Thursday a similar letter was sent to AT&T in November, but the FCC didn't like AT&T's original response.
Republicans

Trump Appoints Third Net Neutrality Critic To FCC Advisory Team (dslreports.com) 191

Last week, President-elect Donald Trump appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Trump has added a third adviser today who, like the other two advisers, is a staunch opponent of net neutrality regulations. DSLReports adds: The incoming President chose Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the broadband-industry-funded American Enterprise Institute, to help select the new FCC boss and guide the Trump administration on telecom policy. Layton joins Jeffrey Eisenach, a former Verizon consultant and vocal net neutrality critic, and Mark Jamison, a former Sprint lobbyist that has also fought tooth and nail against net neutrality; recently going so far as to argue he doesn't think telecom monopolies exist. Like Eisenach and Jamison, Layton has made a career out of fighting relentlessly against most of the FCC's more consumer-focused efforts, including net neutrality, consumer privacy rules, and increased competition in the residential broadband space. Back in October, Layton posted an article to the AEI blog proclaiming that the FCC's new privacy rules, which give consumers greater control over how their data is collected and sold, were somehow part of a "partisan endgame of corporate favoritism" that weren't necessary and only confused customers. Layton also has made it abundantly clear she supports zero rating, the practice of letting ISPs give their own (or high paying partners') content cap-exemption and therefore a competitive advantage in the market. She has similarly, again like Eisenach and Jamison, supported rolling back the FCC's classification of ISPs as common carriers under Title II, which would kill the existing net neutrality rules and greatly weaken the FCC's ability to protect consumers.
Google

Morgan Stanley: Pixel Phone Will Generate Google Almost $4 Billion In Revenue Next Year (9to5google.com) 66

An anonymous reader quotes a report from 9to5Google: With initial Pixel pre-orders exceeding expectations and promising activation numbers from Verizon, Google is on track to sell three million phones with revenues of $2 billion in 2016. The Morgan Stanley estimate comes as the Pixel reportedly captured 10% of the premium smartphone market in India. Unsurprisingly, the 128GB Pixel XL has the largest gross profit margin at 25%, while the cheapest 32GB Pixel is at 22%. Morgan Stanley also estimates that, compared to the iPhone, the Pixel will be half as profitable. Morgan Stanley expects Google to sell 5-6 million Pixel and Pixel XL devices in 2017 to the tune of $3.8 billion in revenue. Google is also expected to make money from increased usage of services like Android Pay and mobile search. Google's big gains were possibly due in part to Samsung's Note 7 debacle, with the company's marketshare falling to 23%. Apple captured the number one position at 66%. Additionally, Google benefitted from running a number of promotions, including cashback and exchange programs. The company also heavily advertised in newspapers, with billboards, and for the first time displays in large retail stores.
Republicans

Trump Names Two Opponents of Net Neutrality To Oversee FCC Transition Team (gizmodo.com) 395

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: President-elect Donald Trump has appointed two new advisers to his transition team that will oversee his FCC and telecommunications policy agenda. Both of the new advisers are staunch opponents of net neutrality regulations. Jeff Eisenach, one of the two newly appointed advisers, is an economist who has previously worked as a consultant for Verizon and its trade association. In September 2014, Eisenach testified before a Senate Judiciary Committee and said, "Net neutrality would not improve consumer welfare or protect the public interest." He has also worked for the conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and in a blog post wrote, "Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple." Mark Jamison, the other newly appointed adviser, also has a long history of battling against net neutrality oversight. Jamison formerly worked on Sprint's lobbying team and now leads the University of Florida's Public Utility Research Center. Both Eisenach and Jamison are considered leading adversaries of net neutrality who worked hard to prevent the rules from being passed last year. For the uninitiated, the rules passed last year prevent companies internet providers from discriminating against any online content or services. For example, without net neutrality rules, internet providers like Comcast and Verizon could charge internet subscribers more for using sites like Netflix. The FCC's net neutrality rules would protect consumers from paying exorbitant fees for internet use.
AT&T

Apple's Chip Choices May Leave Some iPhone Users in Slow Lane (bloomberg.com) 35

Not all iPhone 7s are created equal, it turns out. The latest flagship smartphones from Apple that run on Verizon's network are technically capable of downloading data faster than those from AT&T. Yet in testing, the two phones perform about the same, according to researchers at Twin Prime Inc. and Cellular Insights. From a Bloomberg report: Neither firm is clear on the reason, but Twin Prime says it may be because Apple isn't using all the potential of a crucial component in the Verizon version. "The data indicates that the iPhone 7 is not taking advantage of all of Verizon's network capabilities," said Gabriel Tavridis, head of product at Twin Prime. "I doubt that Apple is throttling each bit on the Verizon iPhone, but it could have chosen to not enable certain features of the network chip." "Every iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus meets or exceeds all of Apple's wireless performance standards, quality metrics, and reliability testing," Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said. "In all of our rigorous lab tests based on wireless industry standards, in thousands of hours of real-world field testing, and in extensive carrier partner testing, the data shows there is no discernible difference in the wireless performance of any of the models." It would be an unusual step for a major phone company to restrain its devices. Normally, companies battle to make the fastest, most reliable handsets. Apple may be doing this because it wants to ensure a uniform iPhone experience, according to analysts.

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