According to The Wall Street Journal, Sprint's merger talks with T-Mobile are temporarily on hold while the carrier mulls over a number of potential deals with the United States' two biggest cable companies, Comcast and Charter. While Comcast is already using Verizon's wireless service under their own name, the company may want to use Sprint's network as well. Charter doesn't have a wireless phone offering yet, but the company's CEO indicated last year that it has every intention of launching one. The Verge reports: Such a deal would likely involve the two cable companies making an investment in Sprint, which the carrier would then use to build out its network, generally known to be the worst of the four major phone service providers. The Journal also reports that Comcast and Charter could make a bid to acquire Sprint outright, but it said the outcome was seen as less likely. Though they're usually an unlikely pairing, Comcast and Charter agreed in May to team up when making deals around wireless coverage for a full year. For the most part, both companies have been slowly losing TV subscribers year after year as customers shift over to online services. They see phone service as a new offering that could help to restore growth and lock in subscribers.
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RendonWI writes: A Wisconsin wireless contractor discovered a flaw in the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) database, and changed the ownership of more than 40 towers from multiple carriers and tower owners into his company's name during the past five months without the rightful owners being notified by the agency, according to FCC documents and sources knowledgeable of the illegal transfers. Sprint, AT&T and key tower companies were targeted in the wide-ranging thefts... Changing ASR ownership is an easy process by applying online for an FCC Registration Number (FRN) which is instantly granted whether the factual or inaccurate information is provided. Then, once logged in, an FRN holder can submit a form stating that they are the new owner of any or multiple structures in the database. As soon as it is submitted, the change is immediately reflected in the ASR.
Mozilla and the National Science Foundation want a new internet. And they want it to be free and accessible for everybody. From a report: They'll pay $2 million for it. On Wednesday, the two organizations issued a call to action for "big ideas that decentralize the web" as part of the "Wireless Innovation for a Networked Society" challenges. The challenges include getting the internet to communities off the grid, with proposals like a backpack with a computer and Wi-Fi router inside.
An anonymous reader shares a report: Samsung Electronics has launched the Exynos i T200, its first processor optimised for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, the company has announced. The South Korean tech giant said the chip has upped security and supports wireless connections, with hopes of giving it an advantage in the expanding IoT market. The Exynos i T200 applies Samsung's 28-nanometer High-K Metal Gate process and has multiple cores, with the Cortex-R4 doing the heavy lifting and an independently operating Cortex-M0+ allowing for multifunctionality. For example, if applied to a refrigerator, Cotext-R4 will run the OS and Cotex-M0+ will power LED displays on the doors.
U.S. President Donald Trump offered support for emerging technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and next-generation wireless networks in a meeting on Thursday with the chiefs of AT&T and General Electric and other business leaders. From a report: For the likes of AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, the public audience with Trump offered an opportunity to continue nudging the U.S. government -- including in a scheduled, private session with the leader of the Federal Communications Commission earlier Thursday -- to cut back on restrictions that make it difficult for AT&T and other telecom giants to grow their footprint and deploy the new technologies, such as 5G wireless. Speaking with Recode later Thursday, Marcelo Claure, the chief executive of Sprint, said that he and others in his industry had emphasized to Trump that the government must help them deploy new tools like small cells -- essentially, mini cell towers that improve wireless connectivity. Trump, for his part, promised Thursday to cut down on "too many years of excessive government regulation" to enable innovators and investments to offer new cutting-edge tools in health care, science, medicine and communication. "We have had regulation that's been so bad, so out of line that it's really hurt our country," he said.
s122604 quotes a report from Yahoo Finance: T-Mobile, the third largest U.S. national wireless operator, has decided to roll out 600 MHz wireless spectrum in its footprints by this summer. Low-band spectrum is essential for wireless operators as the signals can be transmitted over longer distances and through brick-and-mortar walls in cities. Smartphones for this radio frequency are likely to be made available by Samsung and other manufacturers this summer.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Amazon's long been a go-to for people to online price compare while shopping at brick-and-mortars. Now, a new patent granted to the company could prevent people from doing just that inside Amazon's own stores. The patent, titled "Physical Store Online Shopping Control," details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways. The document details in great length how a retailer like Amazon would use this information to its benefit. If, for example, the retailer sees you're trying to access a competitor's website to price check an item, it could compare the requested content to what's offered in-store and then send price comparison information or a coupon to your browser instead. Or it could suggest a complementary item, or even block content outright. Amazon's patent also lets the retailer know your physical whereabouts, saying, "the location may be triangulated utilizing information received from a multitude of wireless access points." The retailer can then use this information to try and upsell you on items in your immediate area or direct a sales representative to your location.
An anonymous reader writes: After a two-week hiatus, WikiLeaks dumped new files as part of the Vault 7 series -- documents about a CIA tool named CherryBlossom, a multi-purpose framework developed for hacking hundreds of home router models. The tool is by far one of the most sophisticated CIA malware frameworks in the CIA's possession. The purpose of CherryBlossom is to allow operatives to interact and control SOHO routers on the victim's network. The tool can sniff, log, and redirect the user's Internet traffic, open a VPN to the victim's local network, execute actions based on predefined rules, alert operators when the victim becomes active, and more. A 24-page document included with the CherryBlossom docs lists over 200 router models from 21 vendors that the CIA could hack. The biggest names on this list are Apple, D-Link, Belkin, Aironet (Cisco), Linksys, and Motorola.
An anonymous reader shares a report: Canada's telecom regulator has announced that as of December 1st, 2017, all individual and small business wireless consumers will have the right to have their mobile devices unlocked free of charge upon request, while all newly purchased devices must be provided unlocked from that day forward. The decision came following the February 2017 review of the Wireless Code, where unlocking fees took center stage, with some parties (like Freedom Mobile) advocating for the abolishing of those fees altogether, some arguing they should remain as an important theft deterrent and the CRTC suggesting the fee should be far under the current $50 CAD standard. "The Wireless Code has helped make the wireless market more dynamic to the benefit of Canadians. While they appreciate the Code, they told us loudly and clearly that it could be more effective," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chairman of the CRTC, in a press release.
_Sharp'r_ writes: Professor Thomas Hazlett of Clemson University analyzed the history of wireless spectrum and concluded the technology was known and available for cellphones in the 40s, but there was no spectrum available. Based on assumptions cellphones would always be luxury goods without mass appeal, significant spectrum for divisible cellular networks wasn't legally usable until the early 80s. Instead, the unused spectrum was reserved for the future expansion of broadcast TV to channels 70-83. Here's an excerpt from the report: "When AT&T wanted to start developing cellular in 1947, the FCC rejected the idea, believing that spectrum could be best used by other services that were not 'in the nature of convenience or luxury.' This view -- that this would be a niche service for a tiny user base -- persisted well into the 1980s. 'Land mobile,' the generic category that covered cellular, was far down on the FCC's list of priorities. In 1949, it was assigned just 4.7 percent of the spectrum in the relevant range. Broadcast TV was allotted 59.2 percent, and government uses got one-quarter."
Robert Hwang, CEO of a large iPhone manufacturing company in India, has let slip that the upcoming iPhone will have wireless charging. Hwang told reporters after the company's shareholder's meeting: "Assembly process for the previous generations of [iPhones] have not changed much, though new features like waterproof and wireless charging now require some different testing, and waterproof function will alter the assembly process a bit." 9to5Mac reports: Just this week, new glass panels purporting to be from the upcoming iPhones have given us another glimpse into the devices' designs. Showing off an iPhone 7s, 7s Plus, and iPhone 8, the images indicated that the glass back panels would open the door for wireless charging across all the devices. According to Hwang, Wistron's India facility is currently making "a small number" of handsets for Apple. He states the growth in manufacturing will hinge on relations between Apple and the Indian government.
Logitech has just revealed a new Powerplay technology that builds wireless charging directly into its mouse pad, allowing compatible wireless mice to charge constantly while on the pad. The Verge reports: The wireless charging tech built inside the Powerplay mouse mat is proprietary to Logitech, and the company claims it took more than four years of research and development to make it a reality. I asked Logitech why it didn't go with something more ubiquitous like the Qi standard, and the answer I received was that it wouldn't have been possible to cover the whole surface (275mm x 320mm) of the pad with Qi. Alongside the Logitech G Powerplay, which is to be priced at $99.99 and released in August, Logitech has also announced the first two mice officially compatible with it: the G903 and G703. The G903 is a very modest upgrade from the G900 while the G703 is practically identical to the well liked G403; both of the two new models use the PMW3366 optical sensor and just add improved switches rated to last longer. The G903 will cost $149.99 and the G703 will be $99.99 when they go on sale later this month.
Due to Apple's complicated way of managing the supply of the components embedded in its flagship devices, the company's upcoming iPhones may miss out on the higher-speed data links that many rival smartphones employ. "One of Apple's suppliers, Qualcomm, sells a modem capable of the 1 gigabit download speeds," reports Bloomberg. "Another supplier, Intel, is working on a modem with the same capability, but it won't be ready for the iPhone's introduction, according to people familiar with Apple's decision." From the report: Apple could in theory just use Qualcomm's chips, but it has an aversion to being dependent on a single supplier, and its relationship with San Diego-based Qualcomm is particularly thorny. Cupertino, California-based Apple is embroiled in a bitter legal fight with the chipmaker, accusing the supplier of maintaining an illegal monopoly, and it's seeking to loosen Qualcomm's grip on the market for high-end smartphone modems. That's why Apple will stick with Qualcomm modems for some of its new iPhones while relying on Intel for others. Until Intel is able to offer its chips with matching features, Apple won't enable some of capabilities of the phones running with Qualcomm modems, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plan isn't public. Apple, Qualcomm and Intel declined to comment. Apple's decision clashes with the marketing plans of a cellular industry desperate to show off faster network speeds to grab market share. The top U.S. wireless carriers -- Verizon AT&T, T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. -- have declared 2017 the year of 1 gigabit speeds.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: The United States is 28th in terms of wireless broadband data speeds, according to the latest Akamai state of the internet report (pdf, hat tip ReCode). According to the data collected by the company, the United States average mobile broadband speed is now a not-entirely unrespectable 10.7 Mbps. But that speed pales in comparison to the top average speeds being seen in the UK (26 Mbps), Cyprus (24.2 Mbps), Germany (24.1 Mbps), and Finland (21.6 Mbps). The report is quick to note that US carrier efforts to boost speeds via next-generation broadband aren't quite as cutting edge as carrier marketing departments might have you believe. Many U.S. carriers have promised that their own fifth generation (5G) broadband deployments should deliver theoretical speeds up to 1 Gbps as well, but serious deployment isn't expected until 2020 or so. Some of this lagging can be explained away by the United States' mammoth geography, though some of it can also be explained by what, until recently, has been fairly muted but theatrical competition between major carriers.
An anonymous reader shares a report: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a major case on privacy rights in the digital age that will determine whether police officers need warrants to access past cellphone location information kept by wireless carriers. The justices agreed to hear an appeal brought by a man who was arrested in 2011 as part of an investigation into a string of armed robberies at Radio Shack and T-Mobile stores in the Detroit area over the preceding months. Police helped establish that the man, Timothy Carpenter, was near the scene of the crimes by securing cell site location information from his cellphone carrier. At issue is whether failing to obtain a warrant violates a defendant's right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures under the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment. The information that law enforcement agencies can obtain from wireless carriers shows which local cellphone towers users connect to at the time they make calls. Police can use historical data to determine if a suspect was in the vicinity of a crime scene or real-time data to track a suspect.
An anonymous reader writes (edited and condensed for length): Smartphones are already computers in our pockets, but Intel's new Compute Card turns an actual PC into something you can take with you wherever you go. Equipped with a range of processor options -- including an ultra-efficient Celeron, and notebook-class Core i5s, this slap that looks like a USB backup battery is attracting a range of interest from Intel OEM partners hoping to use it for everything from smart signage to modular notebooks. The Intel Compute Card, which was originally revealed at CES earlier this year, will come in a range of configurations that include up to 4GB of RAM and 128GB of flash storage, as well as built-in AC 8265 wireless networking and Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, the company said today at Computex. Intel also announced availability of the Compute Card Device Design Kit today, which will let OEM partners create devices that work with the modular computing core. LG Display, Sharp, Dell, HP and Lenovo are already working on accessory solutions for Compute Card, Intel said.
RadioShack, an almost 100-year-old American chain of wireless and electronics stores, had a hell of ride at retail. The cradle of building your own electronics at home, and an early participant in the PC revolution, is finally facing the end after a long, slow death at the hands of consumer disinterest, a dysfunctional marriage with Sprint. From a report: Tons of electronics stores have shuttered over the past decade, but few are as tragic as RadioShack, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015, appeared to be rescued by Sprint in agreement to co-share the stores, then got kicked to the curb and had to file for a second bankruptcy this past March. The new agreement means hundreds of RadioShack shops will officially close down and be replaced by Sprint stores, fizzling out dreams of the Maker movement. So while this is an end to another chapter of our American electronics retail culture, we do have to wonder: how are the folks at RadioShack doing? They have been selling the leftover stocks of electronics for a while, with only mostly store fixtures, ladders, and carpet tiles seemingly left on offer. This is what RadioShack posted earlier this month. The company has since been tweeting about the leftover stuff it has up on sale, though.
Aaron Pressman, writing for Fortune: It seems nobody loves their cable TV or home Internet provider. Wireless carriers, however, are on the upswing.That's the news from the huge annual survey of 43 industries from the American Customer Satisfaction Index. In 2017, cable operators and ISP tied for last place, with an average customer satisfaction rating of just 64 percent. The wireless industry was still near the bottom of the rankings, in 38th place, just below the U.S. postal system. But its 73 percent score was up almost three percentage points from last year. Many of the same companies, like Comcast and Verizon, dominate both fields, ACSI noted. And neither industry offer much choice to consumers, with most localities having only one or two cable and Internet providers. The cable industry's rating slipped 1.5 percentage points from last year, while the rating for ISPs was unchanged.
The Wireless Power Consortium has released a leaked image of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S8 Active. While it's only one photo, the image shows a smartphone greatly resembling LG's G6. The Verge reports: First, the display: the S8 Active won't have curved edges, like the regular S8. The big question this year was what Samsung planned to do about the screen, since curved glass may be more susceptible to cracking, and Samsung seems to have decided the best option was to get rid of it altogether. Instead, the S8 Active has a flattened out look but retains the S8's rounded corners, making the front of the phone look a lot like LG's G6. Samsung seems to have made the bezels a little bit larger on the S8 Active, particularly on the sides. But overall, the front of the phone still seems to get fairly close to the nearly all-screen look of actual S8. The second thing this photo shows is that Samsung isn't putting buttons back on the front of the phone. That's not necessarily a huge surprise, but it'll make the device a bit harder to handle when wet, since owners will be relying on the touchscreen. And finally, this photo reveals a bit of what Samsung is doing to make the phone rugged. All four of its corners bump out, suggesting they've been reinforced to absorb shock should the phone get dropped; it looks a lot like what Samsung has done in the past.