Tag: telco

Google to buy Softcard

google-IC Google is having a quiet word with the mobile-payments company Softcard with a view to buying the outfit.

The move would link  Google with the largest US wireless carriers to battle Apple and its much hyped but mostly ignored Apple Pay service.

The deal may be valued below $100 million, the report said citing sources.

Softcard is jointly owned by AT&T, Verizon Communication, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US.

So far it is seen as rumour and speculation and no one is commenting on the record about it.  However, if Google does buy the outfit it will give it significant clout in the payment markets.  However, at the moment most of the focus is on the bigger retailers coming up with payment systems of their own.

The fear with Google or Apple getting their paws on transaction data is that you can be bothered by advertising based on your buying  history, which could be embarrassing if you went to a stripper club once.



AT&T sulks

parenting1AT&T is sulking about the FCC and the government not immediately doing what it says over the vexed issue of net-neutrality.

The outfit has said that it will stop investing in gigabit internet “until it has a better idea of what the government will do regarding net neutrality.”

President Barak Obama told the Federal Communications Commission to reclassify broadband as a telecom service rather than an information service in its upcoming net neutrality rules. The move would give the FCC more power to regulate ISPs (like AT&T) and wireless carriers. The FCC said it would think about the issue a bit more and make an announcement next year.

AT&T’s move to demand its ball back is an indication how much pressure the US telcos are heaping on politicians to allow them to charge customers twice for the internet.  The telcos fear that they will have to stump up a huge chunk of their profits to pay for the network for an open internet.

Ultra-fast fibre is a carrot that AT&T is waving in the hope that users will demand the right to be charged an arm and a leg for their internet connection. It was supposed to be rolled out to 100 cities nationwide, including 21 major metropolitan areas.

AT&T Chief Randall Stephenson said during an appearance at a Wells Fargo conference  that AT&T can’t go out and just invest that kind of money, deploying fibre to 100 cities other than these two million [covered by the DirecTV deal], not knowing under what rules that investment will be governed.

Of course if it does not pull finger there is a chance that Google, along with the city councils of cities might start providing the backbone themselves – something else that the telcos have been pressuring their tame politicians to block.

The fact that AT&T is trying to cut its costs at the moment has absolutely nothing to do with it delaying the fibre scheme.


FCC leaks terrible net neutrality decision

face-palmThe US FCC was expected to bow to public pressure and allow some semblance of net neutrality in the Land of the Free.

It was to be a brave move – after all a huge chunk of the FCC has connections with phone companies and the watchdog is widely seen as being in the telco pockets.

But the problem was that a huge chunk of the American public had told the FCC that they did not want the telcos strangling their bandwidth or making them pay extra for a reasonable service. In fact, more than four million Americans made it clear to the FCC that they were not going to stand for this thing.

However a new leak shows that the FCC is considering a proposal which it is called a hybrid proposal. It would expand the FCC’s powers to regulate broadband while also allowing cable providers to charge more money for fast lanes.

The “hybrid” proposal now under consideration has not been finalised but according to media leaks and discussions with interested parties they would expand the FCC’s powers to regulate broadband while also allowing a carve out for cable providers to charge more money for fast lanes. However, the rules will only allow the FCC to intervene to promote competition.

The idea is that would not upset the comms companies because they would be allowed to do what they like.

All those people who voted against such a scheme are a little miffed. Apparently, they thought if enough people voted against such a scheme the US government would have to listen. After all the US is supposed to be a democracy and follow the will of the majority and not corporates.

Apparently not.

Protesters having been gathering outside the White House and in a dozen US cities to demonstrate against a “hybrid” solution now being considered to end a stalemate over regulating the internet.


Comcast declares war on Tor

Newspaper Seller, 1939The most popular telco in the US, famous for its happy customers and commitment to a positive future for an open internet, Comcast has declared war on the encrypted system Tor.

Comcast agents have contacted customers using Tor and instructed them to stop using the browser or risk being cut off.

According to Deep Dot Web one Comcast agent named Jeremy insisted Tor an “illegal service” and was against usage policies. The Comcast agent then repeatedly asked the customer to tell him what sites he was accessing on the Tor browser. Of course the customer told him to go forth and multiply.

What is scary is that Comcast knew that any customer was using Tor. This would mean that Comcast is spying on the online activities of its users.

There is some bad blood between Tor and Comcast. The Tor project has listed Comcast as a Bad ISP. The Tor project cited Comcast’s Acceptable Use Policy for its residential customers which claims to not allow servers or proxies.

A Comcast spokesperson insisted that the outfit did respect customer privacy and security and would only investigate the specifics of a customer’s account with a valid court order.

However, this did not happen in the case of Comcast’s treatment of Ross Ulbricht, alleged Dread Pirate Roberts.

Comcast previously collaborated with the FBI by providing information on alleged Silk Road mastermind Ross Ulbricht’s internet usage. Ulbricht was most certainly never given a warning by Comcast or given time to contact a lawyer before he was arrested in a San Francisco library last October.


US telcos claim that 10Gps is “too fast” for broadband

the-tortoise-and-the-hareShowing that they are at the cutting edge of technology profits, the US telcos have told regulators that 10Gps is too fast for broadband.

They have asked the Federal Communications Commission not to change its definition of broadband from 4Mbps to 10Mbps.  We guess anything faster than 4Mbps requires a man on a horse with a red flag ridding in front of it.

According to AT&T, internet users get by just fine at the lower speeds and have no need for broadband that fast.

“Consumer behaviour strongly reinforces the conclusion that a 10Mbps service exceeds what many Americans need today to enable basic, high-quality transmissions,” AT&T wrote.

Verizon and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA), agreed.

“The Commission should not change the baseline broadband speed threshold from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream because a 4/1 Mbps connection is still sufficient to perform the primary functions identified in section 706 [of the Telecommunications Act]—high-quality voice, video, and data,” the NCTA wrote.

More than 47 percent of Comcast subscribers get at least 50Mbps, the company says.

The FCC has periodically raised the minimum standard for Internet service to be considered “broadband.” This affects how the commission measures industry progress in deploying sufficient Internet service to Americans, particularly in rural areas.

There are signs that the Telcos might have a job convincing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler who thinks that  10Mbps is too low and that a 25Mbps connection is fast becoming ‘table stakes’ in 21st century communications,” he said.

If the definition is kept at 4Mbps, statistics on broadband deployment and competition make the telcos look brilliant and they don’t actually have to upgrade their aging infrastructure.