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Telecom Customer Service: The Wrong Things Stay the Same
March 27, 2014
I started writing about service as a magazine editor back in the last century -- well, 1996, if you want to be specific -- but it might as well have been in the days of hula hoops and big fins on Fords. Service practices for telephone companies -- and for all utilities -- were still rudimentary, and they weren't getting any better. The telecom act of 1996 opened up competition.
NSA Lifts Middle Finger to Middle Kingdom
March 24, 2014
Oh, there have been some good National Security Agency revelations. Like the one about the NSA tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone. Or the one about the NSA planting agents inside World of Warcraft, or impersonating Facebook in a global quest to spread malware. Delicious as all those stories are, however, last weekend's NSA bombshell may take the cake.
Alibaba Takes Tango for a Whirl
March 21, 2014
Alibaba is putting some skin in the mobile-messaging game with a $215 million investment in Tango; the companies announced the funding on Thursday. Mobile messaging apps are hot. Facebook recently scooped up WhatsApp for $19 billion, and Japanese e-commerce titan Rakuten recently acquired Viber for $900 million. Tango is a cross-platform app -- Android, iOS, Windows Phone, PC and Mac.
China to Test Drone's Smog-Clearing Powers
March 07, 2014
China is taking its chemical war with smog to another level. Government agencies in China hope a newly designed drone can help mitigate air pollution. The airborne vehicle will spray chemicals that freeze pollutants, thereby knocking them to the ground. This tack begs whether it is advisable to have pollution snowing on people from above -- but hey, at least the sky won't be so unsightly.
Sprint Softbank's Jockeying for the Inside Track
March 06, 2014
What is going on with Sprint Softbank? What will the company look like when it finally emerges from its cocoon? Who else will it merge with? Where will it be based? There has been quite a bit of transformational work going on. Sprint and Softbank won U.S. government approval after months of vigorous debate and got together last summer. It once seemed doubtful the merger would happen, yet it did.
Comcast-Netflix Deal: Watershed Moment for Web Content
February 27, 2014
The Comcast Netflix deal represents a completely new and refreshing direction for the industry. It clears away much confusion and illuminates a clearer path for growth for all companies in the battle. This deal represents a watershed moment for Web content providers. Congratulations to both Comcast and Netflix on reaching this agreement. It may indeed jump-start the next wave of change.
White House Leaps Onto NSA Surveillance Merry-Go-Round
February 26, 2014
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence reportedly have submitted four proposals to reform the National Security Agency's phone surveillance program. The recommendations come well before the March 28 deadline set by President Obama. Three deal with having the data stored by some other organization, and the fourth calls for scrapping the program.
Heavy Hitters Go to Bat for WiFi
February 14, 2014
A group of 18 organizations on Thursday announced the formation of WifiForward, a coalition that aims to persuade policymakers to open more unlicensed wireless spectrum for use by WiFi-enabled devices. Members include the American Library Association, the ARRIS Group, Best Buy, Comcast, the Consumer Electronics Association, Google, Microsoft and Time Warner Cable.
Cable TV's Chilly Customer Relationships
February 13, 2014
Quality and reliability problems have been increasing with the new digital services from the cable television industry. I am a customer of both Comcast and Time Warner Cable and have noticed the issues, and it's safe to assume other cable-TV providers are having similar problems. This may cause further harm to the cable TV industry. Can it fix what is broken in time?
The New Wireless Wave: Prices Falling, Cloud Rising
February 06, 2014
I get a kick out of reading the media coverage of news events in the wireless sector. Sometimes reporters understand what is happening -- sometimes they don't. AT&T Mobility just reduced the price of its Mobile Share Value Plan. Many wrote about it, but few really understood the issues involved. This is more about a broad industry shift than a single company's strategy.
AT&T Gives Icy Appraisal of Russia's Anti-Gay Laws
February 05, 2014
Joining athletes and activists, AT&T has rebuked Russia's less-than-progressive stance on homosexuality ahead of this month's Sochi Winter Games. AT&T, the U.S.'s second-largest wireless character, penned a blog post -- titled, "A Time for Pride and Equality" -- in which it declared its "pride in America and everything for which it stands."
Sprint Chairman Goes Knocking at FCC's Door
February 03, 2014
Sprint Chairman Masayoshi Son reportedly was scheduled to meet with the FCC on Monday to discuss a possible purchase of T-Mobile, although the DoJ already has signaled its opposition. Both U.S. government bodies would have to approve of a merger, but they would view it from different perspectives. Son is CEO of Japan's Softbank, which purchased 78 percent of Sprint last July.
AT&T's Gently Simmering Vodafone Ambitions
January 30, 2014
AT&T just said it would not bid for Vodafone -- at least not within the next six months. Over the years, we have seen the wireless and telecom sectors change dramatically in wave after wave of mergers and acquisitions. As U.S. carriers look for new areas of growth, will they start looking to expand overseas? I think so -- and not just AT&T, but Verizon as well, and then others.
T-Mobile Gives Customers No-fee Checking
January 23, 2014
T-Mobile USA on Wednesday launched Mobile Money, a money management application for smartphones that is meant to be used in conjunction with a reloadable T-Mobile Visa Prepaid Card. There is no charge for activation, monthly maintenance, in-network ATM withdrawals, or for replacing lost or stolen cards. There are also no minimum balance requirements.
The Net Neutrality Ruling: All Sound and Fury?
January 16, 2014
A federal appeals court's Tuesday ruling on Net neutrality has sparked dire predictions: Streaming video will cost more; Internet-based multiplayer games could get expensive; and innovation might be stifled. Credo Mobile is gathering names for a petition to FCC Chair Tom Wheeler. However, nothing is going to happen for a while because "it's not a done deal," said tech analyst Dan Rayburn.
T-Mobile, the Rip Van Winkle of Wireless
January 16, 2014
What's up with T-Mobile? It reminds me of that old Rip Van Winkle tale. Rip fell asleep for 20 years, somewhere in the Catskill Mountains, and then woke up with a long, white beard. Except for the facial hair and the length of time, his story sounds a lot like T-Mobile USA's, right? It too has awakened from its long nap and has come out swinging. So what can we expect next?
Net Neutrality Takes a Licking
January 15, 2014
Net Neutrality received a body slam from a federal appeals court Tuesday, but the door was left open for resuscitating the policy. In a case brought by Verizon against the FCC, the judges on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia found the agency lacked the authority to impose antidiscrimination and antiblocking rules on providers of Internet broadband services.
Google Apologizes for Hitler Miscue
January 13, 2014
Google has had its share of headaches in Germany, but this one is new. Google apologized after Google Maps briefly changed the name of a Berlin intersection, "Theodor-Heuss-Platz," to its Nazi-era moniker, "Adolf-Hitler-Platz." Google released a statement explaining that user-submitted edits for Google Maps are reviewed by Google moderators or "the community of mapping volunteers."
T-Mobile's Legere Comes Out Swinging at CES
January 09, 2014
John Legere, T-Mobile's feisty CEO, gave a speech at CES best described as highly entertaining. His remarks came one day after being kicked out of AT&T's party at the technology event. "I was circled by this huge amount of humanity -- four large guys," Legere related. "... I looked at these people and I said, 'Listen, that's not why I came here. Are you sure AT&T wants to kick me out?'"
Verizon to Disclose Some of What It's Disclosing to the Government
December 20, 2013
Verizon on Thursday said it will release a semiannual report about the data requests it receives from the government. It is the first major telecom to make such a move. Verizon and other tech industry giants have come under fire for cooperating with government surveillance programs. Verizon and AT&T in particular were named in documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

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