’s Top 6 Posts for July 2014

by Jeff Wiener on July 31, 2014

1. Landmark Apple and IBM Partnership makes for Strange Bedfellows

One needs only to look at the rare 1983 photo of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs giving IBM the finger to comprehend the monumental gap in philosophy between Apple’s popular consumer-friendly “cool” vibe and IBM’s stuffed-shirt “legacy” persona. In fact, in the early days of the computer revolution there was no love lost between these two tech giants, but time, as they say, heals all wounds…and makes for the strangest bedfellows.

To that end, Apple and IBM announced this month that they have signed a landmark partnership deal focused on enterprise mobility services, and while early reports indicate that hell has not frozen over, such a partnership is one of those paradigm altering arrangements that simply can’t help but alter the landscape in today’s tech industry.

2. CRTC Challenges Telecom Industry Practice of Charging for Paper Bills

The CRTC (Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission) announced this month that it will meet with telecom companies to discuss the practice of charging additional fees to customers who wish to receive paper bills.

Before sitting down for a round-table discussion, the CRTC has looked into the current status of these practices inCanadaand other countries. As it turns out, 36 companies have said they have not charged any fees for paper bills since November 2013.

On the other hand, there are a further 27 companies acknowledging that their fees range from $0.99 to $5.95 per month just for issuing paper bills. Some of the companies mentioned here provide exemptions to these charges for customers who do not have Internet access.

3. Ottawa Spectrum Auction Aims to Increase Competition

Industry Minister James Moore announced yesterday thatOttawaplans to auction AWS-3 spectrum early next year. The good news for new entrants is that the government will set aside more than half of these valuable wavelengths specifically for wireless startups.

What this means is that smaller companies such as Wind Mobile, Mobilicity, etc. will have the opportunity to expand their networks at much lower cost, because they won’t have to bid against the big three, which, as you may have already seen, dominated the 700 MHz spectrum auction that took place earlier this year.

4. Germany Cancels Verizon Contract over Security Concerns

While the concern over telecommunications companies operating as fronts for their home nation’s foreign surveillance practices is something we might normally assume relates to Chinese telecom companies working abroad, this time such allegations have hit significantly closer to home, as Germany announced this month that it was cancelling its communication contracts with Verizon over concerns that the provider might be in league with American intelligence agencies.

The announcement follows an investigation into allegations made by American intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, who last month claimed that theU.S.had bugged German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone, a story that sparked outrage across the country.

5. T-Mobile Guilty of Bilking Victims of Text Scams, FTC Alleges

T-Mobile may have spent millions rebranding itself as the UnCarrier, a refreshing new voice in the stagnant mobile market who’s revolutionary way of doing things has shattered industry standard practices, but revolutionary or not, it looks like America’s fourth largest wireless carrier is still guilty of old industry tricks.

In a complaint filed earlier this week the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has accused T-Mobile of making hundreds of millions of dollars on dubious fees related to “premium” text messages that customers didn’t sign up for, taking between 35 and 40 percent of the total amount the third party text services charged to consumers. The complaint also alleges that the company’s shady practices date back to 2009 and are still ongoing, despite T-Mobile’s promise last year to end such conduct.

6. “Right to be Forgotten” Strikes BBC as Google makes News Story Disappear

The recent removal of a BBC article from Google’s European search results has thrust the EU’s controversial “Right to be Forgotten” legislation back into the limelight, as the media outlet has expressed concerns over the implications of disappearing news. According to BBC economics editor Robert Peston, the news media outlet was informed on July 2nd that Google had removed search results relating to a 2007 blog posted titled “Merill’s Mess” from all Europe-based search queries.

But with decisions to edit the global media in this way just how long will it be until legislation intended to preserve privacy morphs Google into some sort of grotesque Orwellian Ministry of Truth, the arm of the government (which for all intents and purposes Google is in this case) responsible for whitewashing history to make it a little more palatable for everyone.

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