This week’s headline story: The Beginning of the End of US Phone Network
New FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is pushing for a massive overhaul of communication networks in the U.S. — from old copper lines to Internet-based technologies. Over the past two decades, voice and data traveling over US telecommunications networks have all become digitized. Where once, analogue voice signals dominated the lines, today, digital data traffic dominates. It simply no longer makes sense to maintain old analogue-based technologies. In fact, it is costly to maintain those old network technologies that only serve as bottlenecks to the flow of digital data. Wheeler and others believe that transitioning to purely digital networks could result in a significant economic boost for the U.S.. Others worry that the transition will benefit the telecom companies at the expense of their customers, and possibly disenfranchise people in rural areas.
Transitioning to a Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP network, is a costly undertaking. This is particularly true in rural areas where long expensive fiber optic cables are hard to justify for the comparatively small amount of use they would get. Naturally the telecom companies hope to fund the upgrades with higher fees to consumers or government subsidies. But ultimately, the upgrades will benefit the telecom companies by reducing their costs, so some feel that the telecom companies should incur the bulk of the costs of the upgrade.
These are just a few of the issues that the FCC will confront at its January meeting where it hope to develop recommendations regarding the upgrade. Wheeler says that methods of informing and protecting consumers will be a major area of focus.
- FCC Chair Moves Network Revamp to Top of To-Do List [Ecommerce Times]
- FCC Plans Overhaul of Old Phone Network [NewsFactor]
and elsewhere in Tech News.
- Yahoo to Tie Up Data With Neat Encryption Bow [Ecommerce Times]
Engineers Plan a Fully Encrypted Internet [MIT Review]
The revelations about NSA-engineered government snooping provided by documents leaked by Edward Snowden are spurring efforts to bolster the protection of online consumer data with encryption. Yahoo has announced that it will extend the 2048-bit encryption planned for Yahoo Mail across its entire network of sites and services in order to protect data from snooping government agencies. Meanwhile the Internet Engineering Task Force, or IETF, that governs much of the technology on which the Web is built, is working frantically to add encryption to the http protocol so that all web traffic can become encrypted.
- LG Smart TVs May Spy On Users [NewsFactor]
Are you concerned about your privacy online and on your cell phone? Well you can add your TV to the list. LG Electronics is looking into claims that its smart TVs violate user privacy settings and send data on user viewing habits around the world. The claims come from a technically-minded blogger who says that he has evidence that data packets containing his family’s TV, and movie viewing habits were collected by LG.
- FCC May Permit Cellphone Yakking on Flights [Ecommerce Times]
Now that the FAA has ruled that using electronic devices during take-offs and landings is safe, the FCC is considering mobile phone use. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler announced Thursday that the commission is considering changing its rules regarding the use of cellphones and mobile broadband in an effort to offer consumers more flexibility when flying. The rule change would allow fliers to use cellphones and mobile broadband services, including for voice calls, after an airplane reached an elevation of 10,000 feet.
- The Secret Ingredient in Computational Creativity [MIT Tech Review]
Can computers be creative? IBM thinks so. The company has built a computational creativity machine that produces results that a knowledgeable human would consider novel, useful and even valuable—the hallmarks of genuine creativity. Read all about it using the link in the show notes.
and in Information Security news this week..
and in Tech Industry news…
- Samsung Crowns Galaxy Gear Most Popular Smartwatch [Ecommerce Times]
Samsung claims Galaxy Gear smartwatch sales exceeded 800,000 in the last two months, but it is unclear how many of the watches are actually on consumers’ wrists. If Samsung has indeed sold that many smartwatches, and not simply shipped that many to retailers, it would make Samsug the reigning king of the latest wearable computer category. Among its Intern-connected features, the Samsung Galaxy Gear works hand-in-hand with a Samsung Galaxy smart phone to alert the wearer to incoming messages, and providing a means to open the message for viewing on the corresponding Samsung Galaxy phone.
- Debit Card Brings Google Wallet Offline [Ecommerce Times]
Google is hoping to jump-start its eWallet app by providing debit cards. Now users of Google Wallet, can get a free debit card that can be used to pay for items from their Google Wallet account, with no fees attached. Google is interested in getting users onboard with its eWallet application as it would provide the company with much more information about its user’s personal habits and interests.
- Jury Tips Toward Apple With $290M Samsung Penalty [Ecommerce Times]
A federal jury in California has decided that Samsung Electronics must pay Apple US$290 million in damages for infringing five of its patents.
- Apple Reportedly Buying Company Behind Kinect Tech [NewsFactor]
Apple has purchased the company responsible for developing Microsoft’s Kinect game controller. Kinect allows users to interact with Microsoft’s Xbox console using hand or body motions. It is not clear if Apple is interested in getting involved with the technology or simply wants to keep it out of its competitors hands.
- Xbox vs. PlayStation: Beginning of the End for Consoles? [MIT Technology Review]
The next generation of game consoles are now on store shelves. Sony’s PlayStation 4 launched in the U.S. a little over a week ago, while Microsoft’s Xbox One went on sale just last week. These are the first new game console offerings from the two companies in seven years! The consoles are a technological leap over their predecessors in both processing power and screen resolution. Each has a powerful external camera that facilitates facial recognition and motion control. Sony’s focus is on the core “gamer” while Microsoft’s more expensive Xbox One has a broader aim, acting as an HDMI-enabled set-top box as well as offering a vast array of non-game apps, from streaming TV and movie services to a camera-enabled fitness program.
- Google Opening Hardware Showrooms [newsFactor]
Google is opening showrooms in six American cities: Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Paramus in New Jersey. The six are in addition to at least two showrooms, previously announced, that are being built on barges. Unlike the barge showrooms, the city-based showrooms will be so-called pop-up stores, in that they have a limited lifespan for the holidays. Named Winter Wonderlabs, they will present Nexus 7 tablets, Chromebook computers and Chromecast dongles for video streaming.