T-Mobile Introduces Next-Gen Network Map with Real-Time Data Updated Biweekly

by Istvan Fekete on March 31, 2015

T-Mobile has found another way to distance itself from carriers in the US: its coverage map. Yesterday, the wireless player unveiled its so-called “Next-Gen Network Map”, which will show real-world network information sourced from its customers.

Actually, the initiative isn’t new: We’ve seen T-Mobile’s CEO highlighting speed data coming from customers in earlier public events, showcasing the “uncarrier” features. Now, T-Mobile is back and is presenting this as a new uncarrier feature, quickly degrading every existent network map to an ancient level, since all of them display theoretical speeds.

According to a blog post penned by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, the next-gen map will show real-time customer experiences on the carrier’s network and is based on more than 200 million actual customer usage data points collected every single day.

“For years, every carrier has produced their network map in the same way, based on ‘predictive coverage estimations.’ The problem is that these maps are exactly that—best estimates. But for some time now, there have been far more advanced methods and technologies available to produce far more accurate coverage maps—based on the actual experience of real customers, like you and your family,” wrote Ryan.
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Facebook ‘Aquila’ Drones will Deliver Internet to Unconnected Billions

by Matt Klassen on March 31, 2015

Facebook revealed yet another stage of its audacious and ostentatious plan to become the Internet for the unconnected billions that populate our planet, and this time it’s all about drones. No my friends, it won’t be a bird, nor a plane, nor Superman you might see in the sky in coming years, it’ll likely be one of Facebook’s 1000 proposed giant Aquila drones, ostensibly flying Internet routers with wingspans larger than a Boeing 737, designed to bring the Internet to the rural areas of our world.

In a keynote address on the second day of its F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced its plans to use such high tech, lightweight flying hardware to beam broadband signals down to the unconnected billions in the world, a move that follows the company’s bold Internet.org campaign that currently offers users in the developing world free access to the Internet, or Facebook’s own carefully constructed version of the Internet at least.

It’s truly scary to see Facebook’s worldwide Internet plan unfolding, as it strikes me as equal parts evil and genius (one can almost hear Mark Zuckerberg practicing his maniacal laugh). Much like marketing campaigns designed to reach young children– knowing that reaching people early and often is truly the key to lasting brand awareness and interaction– Facebook is creating an online ecosystem that it will be able to deliver to anyone, anywhere on the globe, providing those who are only now having their first experiences online with free (or low cost) access to the worldwide web, but only the parts the social network wants them to see.

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BlackBerry Fourth-Quarter Earnings Surprise Investors

by Istvan Fekete on March 30, 2015

BlackBerry reported a surprise quarterly profit on Friday and said it is looking forward to a bright future, which includes ending the slide in revenue with the end of this fiscal year.

“Our financial viability is no longer in question. We’re now turning our attention to revenue stabilization,” BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen said in a conference call.

John Chen took over the bleeding company at a time when rumours of a Samsung takeover had surfaced. The rumours turned out to be false (just like earlier this year when they surfaced again), as Chen has done a tremendous job with his two-year turnaround plan.
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Foxconn to Replace Beleaguered Workers with Robots

by Matt Klassen on March 30, 2015

Although the tech industry is still woefully dependent on under paid, over-worked labourers in some far off country to assemble the gadgets many in the developed world simply can’t live without, it seems all that is about to change, as infamous tech manufacturer Foxconn plans to automate 70% of its workforce in the next three years. The announcement has been widely lauded as a positive move by both economists and labour rights groups, who respectively note that deploying robots could save the company a significant amount of money and ease tensions related to working conditions.

For years Foxconn has been exploring ways of automating its production process, but until now the conclusion has always been that the delicate assembly of our favourite iPhones and iPads demanded the precise touch of an over-worked, beleaguered human hand, but it seems finally the company has found a way to produce a “robot army” to reduce labour costs as well as increase manufacturing efficiency.

But of course such automation raises labour rights issues of its own, most notably, the right to actually have work to do and get paid for, for as the manufacturing industry increasingly turns to robots the world will be faced with a significant increase in unemployment, as people who have long fed their families through being part of the manufacturing process will now find themselves largely obsolete…and that could be more disastrous to the human psyche than any menial job ever could be.

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RadioShack Puts Customer Information on the Auction Block

by Jeff Wiener on March 27, 2015

Like many boom-to-bust tech firms before it, the now defunct RadioShack saw the remnants of its once respectable retail business put up for auction earlier this week; giving hungry vultures bidders the chance to start plundering the company’s remaining stock of trademarks, patents, and other intellectual property. But in an issue truly unique to the digital age there is a privacy debate brewing around the company’s selloff, as aside from all the physical and intellectual assets a bankrupt company usually sells, RadioShack is attempting to sell off a completely new class of assets as well: its customers’ personal data.

As a Bloomberg report explains, “A website maintained by Hilco Streambank, which is serving as an intermediary for RadioShack, says that more than 13 million e-mail addresses and 65 million customer names and physical address files are for sale.” The website also noted that the bankruptcy court may not approve the inclusion of customer data as corporate assets, and there have already been two separate legal challenges attempting to block the sale of personal data.

Things get more complicated when one realizes that RadioShack already made an explicit promise to its customers to not sell customer information, as one legal challenge cites a sign displayed in a RadioShack store window that read: “We pride ourselves on not selling our private mailing list.” I suppose that same pride may now also be on the auction block, any takers?

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Sprint CEO Backs Net Neutrality

by Matt Klassen on March 27, 2015

In a move that truly rivals anything we’ve seen so far in T-Mobile’s ongoing UnCarrier revolution, Sprint has done something that totally and absolutely sets it apart from the rest of the wireless industry: it has supported Net Neutrality.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure praised the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to impose utility style regulation to govern and maintain an open Internet—which in its latest iteration includes regulation for both wired and wireless service—noting that his company won’t be able to compete, let alone survive, without them.

Claure acknowledged that being the only wireless carrier to come out in favour of the FCC’s Net Neutrality standards will likely make him unpopular among his industry peers, but for a company rife with issues and still haemorrhaging customers at an alarming rate one can’t argue that America’s third largest wireless carrier is in desperate need of reprieve from the free-wheeling free market capitalism that’s currently driving it out of business and Net Neutrality may just be able to provide an industry framework that would allow Sprint to not only recover, but once again perhaps even thrive.

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Bell Media President Kevin Crull Publicly Apologises for CTV News Interference

by Istvan FeketeMarch 26, 2015

Following media reports of his “intrusion” into CTV’s CRTC coverage, Bell Media president Kevin Crull has publicly apologized for his action and says he has “relearned a valuable lesson” from the incident. The “fire” was started by the Globe and Mail (partly owned by Bell Media) on Wednesday, alleging that last Thursday Crull influenced CTV’s [...]

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Facebook Aims to Control the News

by Matt KlassenMarch 26, 2015

Building on its desire to become everyone’s one-stop Internet hub, Facebook is reportedly now in talks with multiple news organizations in an attempt to convince the media industry to host their content on the social network, rather than link to external webpages as media currently does. The move to host the news is equally as [...]

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Partnership with Samsung Brings Microsoft’s Services to Android Devices

by Istvan FeketeMarch 25, 2015

In an effort to reach more potential users, Microsoft has struck a deal with Samsung and seven lesser-known Android device manufacturers to have some of its software and services pre-loaded. The deal comes at a time when Microsoft is struggling to compete with other mobile operating systems: Windows Phone captured only 2.7% of the smartphone [...]

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Let the Lawsuits Begin: Broadband Industry Challenges Net Neutrality

by Matt KlassenMarch 25, 2015

Just a few weeks old and the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial Net Neutrality have now officially met its first legal challenges, as US broadband providers have filed lawsuits to overturn the open Internet regulations. The USTelecom Association, a trade firm representing some of America’s largest Internet providers, was the first to the plate on Monday, [...]

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