Monthly Archives April 2014

Big Changes in Wake of Target Security Breach

Target Data BreachTarget has taken the next step in its recovery from last year’s massive credit card security breach by appointing a new chief information officer and announcing big changes to its customer loyalty cards.

Bob DeRodes will step into the CIO role on May 5. His hiring illustrates the retailer’s push to regain consumer confidence after 70 million customers had their confidential information compromised – DeRodes has acted as an advisor to the Department of Justice, the Secretary of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

“Establishing a clear path forward for Target following the data breach has been my top priority,” Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said in the statement. “Target has a tremendous opportunity to take the lessons learned from this incident and enhance our overall approach to data security and information technology.”

The store will also be introducing EMV cards that feature Chip-and-PIN technology. Partnering with MasterCard, Target’s REDcards will now run on the New-York based Purchase network. Customers will be required to enter a PIN number when using their card.

*Source: Bloomberg

Rogers Unleashes 700 MHz Spectrum

Rogers Wireless
Rogers customers in select areas of Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary can now tap into the company’s 700 MHz spectrum, which it bought in a federal auction in February.

It’s just the start for Rogers, which plans to roll out the wireless spectrum gradually on its high-speed LTE network nationwide in both rural and urban areas.

The signal will penetrate more deeply through concrete walls into places such as elevators, basements and parking garages. It will also transmit data over longer distances with fewer towers.

“With our beachfront spectrum, we’ll deliver the ultimate mobile video experience to our customers in even more places where they couldn’t access LTE before,” John Boynton, executive vice-president and chief marketing officer at Rogers Communications, was quoted as saying.

The new license of spectrum cost Rogers $3.3 billion, purchased in an auction that earned the federal government $5.27 billion.

*Source: CBC News

More Businesses Embracing VoIP Services

Schooley Mitchell telephoneVoice-over-IP (VoIP) services are gaining mainstream acceptance, with more and more businesses adopting the technology, states a new report.

Infonetics Research’s VoIP and US Services and Subscribers report found that from 2012 to 2012, global business and residential VoIP services grew eight percent to $68 billion. Sales of unified communication and hosted PBX services grew 35 percent to meet growing demand for enterprise cloud-based services. About 10 to 20 percent of new IP PBX lines are part of a managed service or outsourced contract.

Overall, VoIP services revenue is expected to increase to $88 billion by 2018.

“Business VoIP services have moved well beyond early stages to mainstream, strengthened by the growing adoption of SIP trunking and cloud services worldwide,” said Diane Myers, principal analyst for VoIP, UC, and IMS at Infonetics Research, in a press release. “Hosted unified communications are seeing strong interest up market as mid-market and larger enterprises evaluate and move more applications to the cloud, and this is positively impacting the market.”

*Source: Fierce Telecom Press Release

Cali Kill Switch Bill Falls in Senate

smartphoneDevice makers and service providers will get to decide whether to participate in a kill switch program after legislation to mandate the move failed to pass in the California senate this week.

Earlier this year State Sen. Mark Leno introduced the bill requiring all wireless phones to have a built-in capacity to allow its functions to be remotely disabled. Lawmakers hoped the function would serve as a theft deterrent, considering mobile devices are stolen in 30 to 40 percent of robberies across the United States.

The bill fell in a 19-17 vote and many telecom companies are applauding the decision. If passed, the bill would have only impacted California but many suspected it would lead to a national strategy since the technology would be expensive to implement in a select market.

However, the California decision doesn’t impact the recently announced CTIA Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment program, which has a more limited reach than the failed bill. Under the CTIA program, all handsets manufactured after July 2015 will be enabled with baseline anti-theft tool that is either preloaded or downloadable. Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola, Google, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile have all signed on to the program.

*Source: PC World

Credit Card Interest Rates on the Rise

credit card swipe feesIt’s easy to be lured into a signing up for a credit card that has a zero percent interest rate for an introductory period. But after the honeymoon is over, companies nail the consumer with ever-increasing rates.

According to CardHub’s Landscape Report, the average credit card interest rate in the United States now sits at 21 percent, a two percent increase from last year’s figures.

“Credit card interest rates were higher across the board during the first three months of 2014 relative to the same period last year – rising an average of 2.12 percent on a year-over-year basis,” the report stated.

Cash advance fees are on the rise, jumping a startling 10 percent in the first quarter of 2014. Cards offering initial rewards bonuses, whether it is cash or points, are also growing in popularity, experiencing a 10 percent growth.

“I think credit card companies are essentially realizing that consumers are more focused on introductory rates,” CardHub CEO Odysseas Papadimitriou was quoted as saying. “So they are not paying much attention to what happens after the introductory rates.”

*Source: New York Post

Telus Introducing Taxi Charging Stations

taxiSometimes our phones die at the most inconvenient times. That’s why Telus wants to give Canadians a chance to top up their battery while hitching a ride by installing charging ports in taxis in Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

“We’ve all been there – running late for a dinner date with friends or in between meetings when your phone dies before an important conference call,” Anne-Marie Laberge, vice president of brand and marketing communications at Telus, was quoted as saying.

Partnering with Play Taxi Media, Telus will set up the in-car chargers in 1,000 taxis to start. Participating fleets include Mayfair Taxi in Calgary, Taxi Union in Montreal, Ambassador Taxis in Toronto, and Blacktop & Checker Cabs in Vancouver. If successful, the program could be expanded in the future.

While use of the chargers is free, taking a cab sure isn’t. And since cab rides can be short, you may not be able to get much of a charge in a few blocks. However, it could offer convenience to the general public and a nice marketing boost for Telus. We’re interested to see if the program catches on.

*Source: Mobile Syrup

AT&T to Introduce Fiber to New Markets

AT&TAT&T is gearing up for an expansion that could see fiber rolled out to 100 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles and St. Louis.

In total, 21 metropolitan areas are included in the tentative plans. It would give U-verse clients a big boost, bumping Internet speeds to 1 gigabit per second, which – according to AT&T – could allow an HD movie to be downloaded in just over 30 seconds.

“We’re delivering advanced services that offer consumers and small businesses the ability to do more, faster, help communities create a new wave of innovation, and encourage economic development,” said Lori Lee, senior executive vice president of AT&T Home Solutions, in a statement.

AT&T has already deployed its fiber network in Austin and Dallas.

*Source: PCMag

 

Facebook Could Launch European Money Transfer Service

Facebook passwordsWould you trust Facebook with your money? Some Europeans may find themselves pondering that very question as the social media giant contemplates the release of a continent-wide money transfer service allowing users to store and transfer money on Facebook.

“Facebook is thinking about financial services in general, money transfer being one of these areas,” the source was quoted as saying in Forbes article. “They are making their minds up about what to do.”

Apparently Facebook is on the cusp of receiving regulatory approval in Ireland for the e-payments service. It’s something the company has already done on home soil – Facebook has already obtained Money Services Business licenses in most states, but has yet to do anything with them.

Could Europe be its testing ground?

*Source: Forbes

 

Telus Loses $2.6M Lawsuit

Schooley Mitchell lawsuit

Telus recently lost a class-action lawsuit in Quebec, and has been ordered to reimburse customers for text messaging fees. Between 2008 and 2011, Telus started charging 15 cents per incoming text without fair waning, the court ruled.

Although damages will only amount to about $15 a person, 177,425 customers were involved in the lawsuit, meaning Telus will have to cough up $2.6 million. The Vancouver-based carrier is reviewing the court’s decision and may file an appeal.

Telus argued that customers were notified of contract changes “well in advance” and even offered bundles with new rates that included unlimited incoming texting. However, under Quebec law, consumers must know exactly how much they are paying under the contract they signed.

*Source: CBC

Kill Switch Coming to Some Smartphones by 2015

CTIAA handful of wireless handset makers and service providers have pledged to add a remote kill switch to their devices by 2015 in an attempt to curb theft. Companies such as Apple, Samsung, HTC, Motorola and Google, along with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, have all signed on to CTIA’s Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment program.

Under the program, all handsets manufactured after July 2015 will include a “baseline anti-theft tool” that is either preloaded or downloadable. It will only apply to devices sold in the United States.

According to CTIA, the anti-theft tool will have the following capabilities:

1. Remote wipe the authorized user’s data (i.e., erase personal info that is added after purchase such as contacts, photos, emails, etc.) that is on the smartphone in the event it is lost or stolen.

2. Render the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user (e.g., locking the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN), except in accordance with FCC rules for 911 emergency communications, and if available, emergency numbers programmed by the authorized user (e.g., “phone home”).

3. Prevent reactivation without authorized user’s permission (including unauthorized factory reset attempts) to the extent technologically feasible (e.g., locking the smartphone as in No. 2 above).

4. Reverse the inoperability if the smartphone is recovered by the authorized user and restore user data on the smartphone to the extent feasible (e.g., restored from the cloud).

The program’s launch comes on the heels of growing demands from state legislators who want to see the smartphone industry play a more active role in combating theft. In February, California State Sen. Mark Leno (D – San Francisco) introduced a bill requiring all new smartphones to have a built-in kill switch by next year. Washington, D.C.’s chief of police has made similar requests.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, 30 to 40 percent of robberies in the U.S. involve a mobile device.

*Source: CNET