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US Mobile: Another Bait-and-Switch Disappointment
May 16, 2019
I just dumped US Mobile after less than four months, setting a new speed record for hitting my tolerance-for-b.s. ceiling. I'd had high hopes for this relatively new mobile virtual network operator, but it turns out I chose poorly. Switching wireless service providers is one of those things I don't relish doing, but every few years I find that I'm in a one-way relationship with my carrier.
No Easy Decision: Choosing Between Pay-TV Services
May 3, 2019
Many consumers in recent years have opted to cut the cord -- that is, to ditch cable or satellite TV and instead rely on OTT streaming services for their viewing pleasure. Price has been one factor, but changing viewing habits has been another. As a reporter who covers pay-TV services of all varieties, I actually went the opposite direction and for some time have had both cable and satellite.
What Matters Most in the Race to 5G Wireless
April 11, 2019
With 5G knocking on our door, a growing number of wireless competitors have been getting on their high-horses and trying to knock down the current leaders. All I have to say is, cut it out! No customer or investor is interested in all this meaningless industry-wide jibber-jabber. If you keep this up, you may pay a price when you do begin to offer 5G. Does it really matter which company is first?
FTC Eyeballs ISPs' Data Privacy Practices
March 28, 2019
The United States Federal Trade Commission has announced an investigation into the privacy policies, procedures and practices of seven Internet broadband providers and related entities: AT&T Inc., AT&T Mobility LLC, Comcast Cable Communications doing business as Xfinity, Google Fiber Inc., T-Mobile US Inc., Verizon Communications Inc., and Cello Partnership dba Verizon Wireless.
T-Mobile's Home Broadband Carrot
March 25, 2019
Not long ago, T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert said the company would start selling a wireless home broadband service. Now, it looks as though it has begun a pilot program of invited users. However, there is an important catch with respect to this new service: the motive behind it. Sievert made it clear that growth with this new service will be possible only with a Sprint merger. That's too bad.
Google Fiber Missteps Could Tarnish Brand
February 22, 2019
This winter has been very rough on Google Fiber, Alphabet's high-speed Internet service. An overabundance of snow, ice and water have caused service outages. Why do these issues not seem to hamper competitors? The latest news is that the service is leaving Louisville, supposedly due to a faulty installation process. Why not correct the faults? What is the real problem at Google Fiber?
Will Congress Override State Net Neutrality Laws?
February 21, 2019
Way back in the dark ages in May 2011 -- about 2,345 Internet years ago -- I wrote a column about Net neutrality, which was in court at the time. For those of you who are not sure, "Net neutrality" is short for "Internet neutrality" or "network neutrality." The concept addresses user access to the Internet, and the debate around Net neutrality centers on whether ISPs can limit, tier, block or otherwise affect Internet performance.
YouTube TV Hits Screens Across Most of the US
January 24, 2019
YouTube TV will be rolling out to an additional 95 markets in the U.S., almost doubling its coverage. The streaming video service already covers the top 100 markets in the country, and the expansion will enable it to reach more than 98 percent of households in the U.S., YouTube said. There are roughly 120 million TV households in the U.S., but only about 108 million households have broadband.
Cable One's Bright Sparklight Idea
December 21, 2018
The cable TV industry has been changing over the last decade and lately has been penetrating the wireless space. Brands like Xfinity Mobile, Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile have emerged. Cable One, a smaller cable television company, has announced its new brand, Sparklight. Could this be its first step toward offering a wireless service? That's the direction I think it could be heading.
AT&T to Switch On 5G in 12 Cities
December 19, 2018
AT&T is poised to activate its 5G network in parts of 12 U.S. cities. A select group of users will receive a 5G hot spot that connects to AT&T's 5G+ network. AT&T's 5G service will roll out in parts of Atlanta; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Florida; Louisville, Kentucky; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh, North Carolina; and San Antonio and Waco, Texas.
No Time Like the Present to Get Up to Speed on Sales Tax Laws
December 11, 2018
Americans are used to hearing the refrain, "We pay the sales tax," from mattress sellers and car dealerships during big sales weekends. The phrase, "You pay the sales tax," however, is something we're all going to become a lot more familiar with in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair. That's because the Wayfair decision reverses a precedent set in 1967 and upheld in 1992.
HBO Fires Back at Dish in Blackout Tussle
November 9, 2018
HBO chief Richard Plepler has issued a response to Dish CEO Charlie Ergen's claim that the ongoing impasse between the companies was the result of a purely anticompetitive play on AT&T's part. It was Dish that dropped HBO and Cinemax signals at midnight on Oct. 31, blacking out programming for subscribers, Plepler said. That was the first time in HBO's nearly 50-year history that any pay-TV service dropped the premium channel from its lineup.
How to Protect Your Online Privacy: A Practical Guide
November 7, 2018
Do you take your online privacy seriously? Most people don't. They have an ideal scenario of just how private their online activities should be, but they rarely do anything to actually achieve it. The problem is that bad actors know and rely on this fact, and that's why there's been a steady rise in identity theft cases from 2013 to 2017, often resulting in loss of reputation or financial woes.
Oracle OpenWorld: Margin Lab
October 24, 2018
Markets grow at the margins. This bit of sage advice was given to me at the start of my analyst career, and it has kept me in good nick for nearly two decades. Of course the focus has drifted over time but that's the point: The CRM market has evolved, and the job of an analyst is to make sense of the evolution. Oracle OpenWorld 2018 held in San Francisco this week is a laboratory for the margin.
The CRM Oligopoly
October 4, 2018
As markets mature, they trend toward oligopoly or even outright monopoly. There isn't much difference, because an oligopoly has several members instead of just one. Examples include electric power generation, an oligopoly made up of vertically integrated monopolies in most areas, and the airline industry -- an oligopoly made up of many airlines that may have monopolies in regional hubs.
Dreamforce 2018
October 1, 2018
Salesforce has been very good at skating to where the puck will be, to paraphrase the great Wayne Gretzky. As a result, the company has a long line of firsts, beginning with its initial disruption and continuing through its early adoption of social media and analytics. So it's no surprise that it is pursuing some very different issues now than it did almost 20 years ago -- or even five.
Why Is Wireless Caller ID So Often Wrong?
September 24, 2018
I have a gripe with the way Caller ID works -- or in fact, increasingly doesn't work -- on wireless phones. I've noticed that most very stinking time I get a call on my wireless phone, the Caller ID information is wrong. Sometimes the number is correct, but the city is wrong. When Caller ID was introduced a few decades ago, it was great. It started on the landline phone, either providing a name or number.
The Internet's Truth vs. Fake News Showdown
August 10, 2018
Facebook earlier this week pulled the plug on the official page for Alex Jones, host of Infowars and noted conspiracy theorist. YouTube quickly followed, removing Infowars and Jones' videos. Facebook's move followed Apple's decision to pull five of Infowars' six podcasts -- including the "Alex Jones Show" and "War Room" -- from the iTunes and Podcasts apps.
DoD Launches JEDI Program Amid Cloud Provider Criticism
August 1, 2018
The U.S. Department of Defense has decided to bet on the cloud for much of its future information technology operations -- presenting significant opportunities for cloud service providers and related IT suppliers. However, DoD's latest foray into cloud technology has stimulated significant criticism. DoD released its final RFP for the JEDI program last week.
IBM, CLS Launch Blockchain Platform for Banks
July 31, 2018
IBM and currency trading utility CLS have announced a new platform that enables financial institutions to deploy, share and consume services on a hosted blockchain network. Nine financial institutions have agreed to participate in the initial launch of the platform, which is sort of an app store for solutions that use distributed ledger technology, also known as "blockchain."
Who's Your Buddy? The Evolution of OTT Video Partnerships
July 21, 2018
Buddy movies have been an entertainment staple for years. Like Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple or Murtaugh and Riggs in Lethal Weapon, the buddy film genre shows how two people can overcome obstacles, and each other, to produce a happy ending. Today, we are seeing over-the-top video services buddy up with others in the market to find their own happy endings.
What Ever Happened to Google Fiber?
June 14, 2018
A couple of years ago, one of the hottest new technologies was Google Fiber. Everyone wanted access to it. Every city wanted to be the next on the list to get it, because it would attract new citizens and encourage existing residents to stay. It was thought there would be an advantage to early cities -- my home town Atlanta was one of them. Google Fiber is an ultra-fast Internet service.
The Wireless Industry's Two-Horse Race
May 30, 2018
There has been a lot of noise in the wireless industry in the last few years. Between the competition among existing wireless carriers and the challenges of new players, the industry has been growing and transforming. However, despite all the chaos, one thing has remained unchanged: Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility are still the top two competitors in the space.
Cloud Providers Look for Legal Loopholes to Protect Customer Data
May 17, 2018
U.S.-based providers of e-commerce resources, including cloud services, must release foreign-held customer information to law enforcement agencies under a new law. Providers have strongly objected to releasing customer information residing outside the U.S. for fear of violating the privacy laws of other countries. The providers noted a potential "staggering" loss of international customers.
Charter Spectrum May Want to Rethink Its Digital Pay-TV Service
May 14, 2018
Cable television companies have been rushing to introduce new digital pay-TV products. Traditional cable TV has been on the decline in the midst of a growing wave of new competition and new technologies. The new offerings reflect forward thinking and are a step in the right direction, but too many providers still don't offer good quality digital pay-TV.
Senate Action on Net Neutrality Could Change the Debate
May 11, 2018
All 49 members of the Senate Democratic caucus have expressed support for a resolution to save Net neutrality, introduced Wednesday by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, under the Congressional Review Act. The CRA is a legislative tool that lets Congress reverse federal regulations via a simple majority vote. For the resolution to become law, it also would need support from a majority of House members as well as the president's signature.
Disney Debuts ESPN+ Streaming Sports Service
April 13, 2018
Disney has introduced EPSN+, an all-in-one, direct-to-consumer premium streaming service that offers thousands of live sporting events as well as original series and films. ESPN+ is the first such premium service from The Walt Disney Company's Direct-To-Consumer and International Group through a partnership with ESPN. The release of ESPN+ coincides with the release of the free ESPN App.
UC Has a Bright Future as the Next Generation of Business Communications
April 12, 2018
Unified communications is coming on strong and growing fast. It is positioned as the next big step forward in the communications industry, both wireline and wireless. In the past, companies of every size had to have telephone gear -- like an expensive and complicated private branch exchange -- that was paid for, installed and continually updated. The rise of UC has replaced that burden.
California Weighs Tough Net Neutrality State Law
March 19, 2018
A California legislator has fleshed out the details in legislation that would provide comprehensive Net neutrality protection. Sen. Scott Wiener last week offered an amended version of a bill he introduced earlier this year, which essentially prohibits ISPs from engaging in any practice that would manipulate or hinder consumer access to certain content, devices or services.
FCC's Final Rule on Net Neutrality Sparks Legal Challenges
February 23, 2018
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday officially published its Net neutrality rollback order in the Federal Register, triggering a flurry of legal actions and Capitol Hill scrambling to stop it before it takes hold. The order, which goes into effect on April 23, reverses an Obama era rule requiring that broadband access be regarded as a utility.
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Will U.S. tariffs have a positive or negative effect on e-commerce?
Positive. Companies will adjust and sell better-quality goods.
Positive. Tariffs will protect U.S. jobs.
No effect. Companies will avoid tariffs by getting cheap goods elsewhere.
Negative. Tariffs will hurt small e-commerce companies the most.
Negative. Higher costs will be passed on to consumers.