Monthly Archives July 2014

Questions Over the Fate of the Samsung Z

samsungzIt was big news when Samsung announced its next smartphone model, the Samsung Z, would run the Tizen OS instead of Android. Now, Samsung has said that the Z’s release date has been delayed, with no information as to when it will hit the market.

The smartphone was originally supposed to be rolled in Russia in the third quarter of this year, but Samsung said in a statement that it needs time to “enhance the Tizen ecosystem.” Meaning, the company is likely increasing the number of apps running on the OS. Neither Samsung nor Tizen has commented on their plans for the device.

The Samsung Z features a 4.8-in. HD display device and a 2.3 GHz Quad-core application processor. It also has 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD slot to support up to 64GB of additional storage.

*Source: Computerworld

Sprint on the Upswing

Sprint logoThings are looking up for Sprint, as the U.S. carrier posted its first quarterly profit in years and exceeded analysts’ estimates. It was expected that Sprint’s revenue would top $8.75 billion and lose 263,000 subscribers in Q1. Instead, it brought in revenues of $8.79 billion – for a net income of $23 million – and lost only 245,000 subscribers. It was a improvement from the previous quarter, when Sprint lost 333,000 subscribers.

Some analysts are crediting the new Sprint Framily plan for the growth.

“Good subscriber numbers would be a surprising sign that Framily is working better than people expected,” Colby Synesael, an analyst with Cowen & Co. in New York, was quoted as saying. “This could mean that they might be adding customers by the end of the year.”

The good news also had an impact on Sprint shares, which rose 1.3 percent to $8.10.

*Source: Bloomberg

Changes Coming to E-Rate Program

E-Rate changesAs an E-Rate specialist, I help clients make sense of what can be a confusing program. I recently shared this information about important changes to the E-Rate program with my clients, and am happy to share it here today as well.

On July 11, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced steps to modernize the E-Rate program and expand access to digital learning technologies by providing support for Wi-Fi networks in schools and libraries. The program increases focus on the largest and most urgent needs – closing the Wi-Fi gap – while transitioning support away from legacy technologies to 21st century broadband connectivity (Internet access), ensuring E-Rate Program money is spent smartly and improving program administration.

Funding for broadband connectivity will continue to be provided but non-broadband services will be gradually phased out. It’s still unclear if that means all non-broadband services will be affected and how the phase out will be implemented.

We will provide more details as they are announced later this year.

Closes the Wi-Fi Gap

– Sets an annual funding target of $1 billion for Wi-Fi while ensuring support continues to be available for broadband connectivity to schools and libraries.

– Directs at least $1 billion in support for Wi-Fi for funding years 2015 and 2016 to connect over 10 million students and thousands of libraries each year by establishing reasonable budgets for applicants.

– Allows support for Wi-Fi purchased as a managed service and caching servers through the new internal connections funding mechanism.

– Continued use of new Wi-Fi funding methodology after funding year 2016 will be evaluated as part of a review of the long-term funding needs of the program.

– Increases support targeted for Wi-Fi in rural school districts substantially – a nearly 75 percent increase; and targets a nearly 60 percent increase in urban and suburban districts.

– Begins a multi-year transition of all program funding to broadband, by gradually phasing down support for non-broadband services.

– Adopts clear broadband goals to measure overall program success, while maintaining local flexibility to determine the needs of individual schools and libraries.

Maximizes E-Rate Spending

– Incentivizes consortia and bulk purchasing.

– Increases transparency on how E-Rate dollars are spent and on prices charged for E-Rate services.

Makes the E-Rate Administration and Application Processes Faster, Simpler, More Efficient

– Streamlines the process for multi-year applications.

– Expedites process for small dollar, cost-effective applications.

– Speeds review of all applications.

– Moves to electronic filing of all documents.

– Simplifies discount calculations.

– Strengthens efforts to combat waste, fraud and abuse by toughening document retention and site inspection rules.

This administrative review is already delivering huge dividends

– More funds: The FCC identified $2 billion that could be freed from existing reserve accounts and other sources over the next two years toward an initial down payment on broadband expansion. The $2 billion for Wi-Fi over the next two years comes from these reclaimed reserves.

Brings E-Rate into the 21st Century

– New digital learning technologies are opening new opportunities for students, teachers and library patrons.

– In schools, emerging educational technology allows an increasingly interactive and individualized learning environment and expands school boundaries through distance learning applications.

– The plummeting costs of tablets and netbooks, increasing Wi-Fi speeds, and innovative cloud-based software are allowing this technological transformation of learning, much of which would have been impossible five years ago.

Too many U.S. schools and libraries lack the infrastructure necessary to fully utilize today’s learning technologies particularly when it comes to Wi-Fi in the classroom.

– Three out of five schools in America lack the Wi-Fi needed to deploy 21st century educational tools.

– Half of school buildings have older, slower internal wiring that won’t carry data at today’s broadband speeds.

Greg Lowry is a Schooley Mitchell consultant based in San Francisco, Calif. His areas of expertise include supplier negotiation, billing analysis and contract optimization, business continuity planning, and sales and business development consulting.

WIND Mobile Launches Account App

WIND MobileCanadian WIND Mobile users will be happy to know a new account management app has been launched for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices. Previously, the only option available to users was the troublesome WIND website.

On the app, users are able to check their account balance and view their billing and payment history as well as make payments via credit or debit card, apply top up codes and set up preauthorized payments. Users can also manually remove add-ons. The free app does not count towards the account’s data use.

And for those who have trouble staying within their monthly limits, the app will also monitor data usage, texts, and minutes.

*Source: Mobile Syrup

Sony Investing $345M in Selfies

Sony selfiesWomen once used restaurant washrooms to fix their hair or touch up their make-up – today they’re used for selfies. In fact, the popularity of the digital self-portraits has become so intense that major players in the tech industry are focusing efforts on including them in their devices.

Sony – which supplies cameras for some of the world’s top smartphone makers – is one such company, announcing it is investing $345 million in better front-facing image sensors. It is allegedly increasing production at two of its factories by 13 percent, producing 68,000 sensors a month.

Improved cameras will allow for users of Samsung and Apple phones to enjoy the benefits of better selfie-taking, as well as Skyping and other video-call services. Currently the Samsung Galaxy S5 has a two megapixel front camera, while the iPhone 5 has a 1.2 megapixel camera.

Sony leads the market for rear-facing cameras, but Omnivision Technologies Inc. currently has a lock on screen-side sensors, which typically are poorer quality, something Sony’s recent announcement may soon change.

*Source: Reuters

CRTC Takes Aim at Paper Bills

CRTC Wireless CodeAre you paying extra for a paper copy of your wireless bill each month? The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) wants to do something about that and is preparing to sit down with industry execs to gather more information on the practice.

A survey conducted last November found 36 percent of wireless companies do not charge a fee to customers who wish to have a paper bill mailed to them each billing cycle. Twenty-seven percent said they charged between 99 cents and $5.95 per month. Some offer exemptions to customers who do not have Internet access.

“The CRTC is concerned that the approach taken by the industry in transition from paper to electronic bills may not have taken into account the specific circumstances of some Canadians,” states a press release. “The CRTC is inviting representatives from communications companies to a meeting that will be held on Aug. 28 at its central office.”

The CRTC aims to develop a consistent approach to paper bills that can be applied by all wireless companies and has warned if there is disagreement it is prepared to escalate the matter.

“We are concerned that not all Canadians have a reasonable choice when it comes to paper bill fees for communications services,” said CRTC chair Jean-Pierre Blais, in a statement.

“We are challenging telecommunications and broadcasting distribution companies to come up with a comprehensive approach that will enable Canadians to make informed decisions. We are prepared to explore regulatory options if the industry fails to find an appropriate approach.”

Italy: Google Has 18 Months to Change its Ways

Google ItalyGoogle has been under a lot of fire in Europe concerning privacy laws. Now, Italy has given the company 18 months to alter the way it collects and stores user data.

A group of regulators from the European Union has been pushing the Internet giant to change its ways for several months. The move came after Google combined 60 privacy policies into one, meshing data collected on individual users across its services including YouTube, Gmail and Google+.

Italian regulators have ordered Google to change its system in the next year in a half, requiring users to give consent before Google can use their information for commercial purposes. As well, Google must meet requests from users to delete their accounts within two months.

A Google spokesman has assured that the company will comply with the Rome-based regulator’s decision, as it has with other European regulators, such as France and Spain. As a part of that, it will present a plan on how it will follow through with the new regulations. If it does not meet Italy’s requirements, Google could be subject to a €1 million fine and criminal proceedings.

*Source: The Star

Canada Making Large Broadband Investment

Broadband infrastructure

Rural communities stand to benefit from a major broadband investment from the Canadian government. On Tuesday, the government called for communities lacking high-speed Internet to apply for a share of the $305 million funding that will be available over the next three years.

“Connecting Canadians is about ensuring that Canadians, whether they live in urban centers or remote regions of the country, have access to the latest wireless technologies and high-speed networks at the most affordable prices possible,” Industry Minister James Moore said in a statement.

If the project is successful, about 98 percent of Canadians will have access to high-speed Internet. Western provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta are among the most underserved.

*Source: Reuters

AT&T Billing Error Leaves Municipalities on the Hook

AT&TSometimes it’s not the telcos that suffer most for their mistakes. This is a lesson the City of Springfield, Ill. is learning the hard way after it was ordered to repay $273,000 thanks to an AT&T billing error.

The fallout is just one stemming from a huge AT&T federal telecommunications tax error, where the company overcharged customers on data plans from November 2005 to September 2010. A class action settlement has called for AT&T to refund the money to users, meaning governments that already received the funding will have to return it.

“It was a letter saying a settlement was negotiated with AT&T and oh, by the way, you owe $273,000 in overpayments in taxes and we’re going to start collecting that,” Springfield director of budget and management Bill McCarty was quoted as saying.

It also means those same governments will face a funding shortfall for projected revenues already included in their budgets. While it is not expected to do major damage in Springfield – the city may end up short in its budget surplus – there is no doubt other areas will be harder hit.

*Source: ABC News

Plan Your Escape with TIYO

This Is Your OutEver felt stuck in a meeting or conversation and needed an excuse to break away? A Canadian man has the perfect solution: This Is Your Out, or TIYO.

The premise is simple. A small device attaches to your key ring, and when the time comes to plan your escape, you discreetly push the button which triggers an incoming call to your cellphone. Your caller ID displays the caller as your boss, babysitter, spouse or kid’s school. You repeat back from the script on the call – which comes complete with the other party’s voice – and quickly make your exit.

A crowdfunding campaign is underway and if all goes as planned, production of the TIYO is expected to begin in September. Bad dates, beware.

*Source: Metro News