The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are launching parallel probes into the mobile industry’s security update practices. The agencies want to determine how manufacturers issue security updates for mobile devices, and how carriers review and release the patches.
“As consumers and businesses turn to mobile broadband to conduct ever more of their daily activities, the safety of their communications and other personal information is directly related to the security of the devices they use,” stated an FCC press release.
“There have recently been a growing number of vulnerabilities associated with mobile operating systems that threaten the security and integrity of a user’s device, including ‘Stagefright’ in the Android operating system, which may affect almost 1 billion Android devices globally.”
In all, the FTC has contacted eight companies – Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC, LG, Microsoft, Motorola and Samsung – to gain insight into how manufacturers determine if a vulnerability needs to be patched. It has also asked for a list of all devices offered for sale since 2013, with information on any bugs that have impacted them and any fixes that were issued.
The main concern is that delays in developing patches may be leaving devices unprotected. Older devices may never receive the necessary protection.
Verizon Wireless and Boston announced plans Tuesday for a $300 million fiber upgrade, replacing copper cables over a six year period. This will bring faster internet to the city’s 650,000 residents, as well as expand broadband. This is all a part of Mayor Marty Walsh’s initiative to ensure every resident has online access by connecting businesses, schools, hospitals and libraries.
But connectivity isn’t the only thing Verizon is up to in Boston. It’s also running a trial to reduce traffic congestion alone Massachusetts Avenue by experimenting with sensors in traffic signals. It is also attaching wireless equipment to street lights and utility poles with the goal of boosting wireless service for residents. If these trials are successful, and the city of Boston benefits from the upgrades, Verizon may expand the project to other cities.
Boston residents will be able to register online to request fiber optic connections, allowing for prioritization. Communities like Dorchester, West Roxbury and Dudley Square will be among the first Verizon intends on upgrading.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) won’t be looking to claims that Netflix is throttling its own video streams, said FCC Chair Tom Wheeler.
According to the FCC, Netflix and similar services are considered “edge providers” meaning that the rules of Open Internet do not apply to them.
“We do not regulate edge providers,” Wheeler was quoted as saying. “It’s outside of our jurisdiction… It is not an Open Internet issue what they’re doing. I’m going to leave it at that.”
Netflix has admitted to reducing video speeds for AT&T and Verizon customers for over five years now, but it maintains it wanted to “protect customers from exceeding mobile data caps.” The company also says it limits its streams at only 600-kilobits-per-second, which is slower than modern wireless networks operate.
While news of video throttling is enraging both advocacy groups and broadband providers alike, the FCC says there is nothing it can do. Ironically, Netflix recently supported both the FCC ruling on net neutrality and its ban on throttling.
In this edition of the Schooley Mitchell lawsuit watch, a consumer advocacy group is squaring off against Verizon, accusing the telecom giant of scamming customers and diverting the funds to expand its wireless and fiber optic networks.
The New Networks Institute alleges Verizon has overcharged New York landline subscribers to the tune of $1,000 to $1,500 each, spending the money on infrastructure improvements and corporate expenses. New Networks executive director Bruce Kushnick says Verizon is overcharging for its copper-based landline service and that its other services are a rip-off. For example, call forwarding and call waiting costs $7.95 per month, but only costs the company 2 to 3 cents, he says.
“All the copper networks have been written off,” Kushnick was quoted as saying in a New York Post article. “Copper-based phone services should be $10 or $20 [per month].”
New Networks is planning on filing a lawsuit related to these allegations, while Verizon continues to deny any wrongdoing. Stay tuned …
The results are in: T-Mobile is the top performing carrier in the United States, says OpenSignal’s recently released State of Mobile Networks report. According to the testing firm’s data, T-Mobile has increased its LTE coverage by 81 percent, bringing it in line with big players like Verizon.
“Verizon is still the operator to beat when it comes to network reliability, but T-Mobile is squaring off against the super-carrier in download speed,” states OpenSignal’s report. “Nationally both operators are averaging 4G connections of 12 Mbps, and in a speed comparison in the 11 largest U.S. cities, T-Mobile just barely edged out Verizon. AT&T and Sprint hardly even factored in the contest.”
T-Mobile was recognized with three awards: 3G latency, 3G download speed and 4G download speed. Verizon slid in second place with nods for its 4G coverage and download speeds. It was bad news for AT&T and Sprint, which fell far behind in just about every category.
The Spamhaus Project researches cybercrime and spammers across the world, and has recently focused in on the IP addresses of perpetrators of these acts. According to Spamhaus, 4 million IP addresses operated by American cybercriminals are run through the Verizon Network.
Why is this a problem? Well, IP addresses are limited and are becoming a precious commodity. According to hothardware.com, cybercriminals are stealing large blocks of old addresses that aren’t currently active or being used by their rightful owners, and as such, there is a black market circulating. And with the high concentration of this happening under Verizon’s nose, Spamhaus has called the ISP the largest offender of “snowshoe spamming.”
Spamhaus says that Verizon is “failing to properly vet IP address ranges for which it provides transit.” Also, that “while Verizon has anti-spam policy and has participated in working groups such as M3AAWG, its present defacto policy of routing illicitly obtained IP address space for spammers means that it is directly responsible for facilitating massive sources of spam and cybercrime affecting millions of Internet users and networks.”
If you’re looking for something unique to put under the tree this year, Verizon data may be what you need. The United States’ largest carrier has just announced its subscribers can send 1 GB of data as a gift this holiday season. It’s like giving your friend or family member 3,000 web pages, 13,000 emails or three hours of content streaming for just $10.
Verizon is updating its Messages app for Android to include a way to send data to your contacts. If you’re not a user of Verizon Messages, you can also purchase the data through the carrier’s website. Before sending the gift, it can be personalized with a message.
Verizon has not yet said whether this is a limited offer for the holiday season, or if it will extend into the new year.
Verizon subscribers traveling in foreign countries can now pay a flat daily fee for calls, texts and data. Launched last week, TravelPass will set you back $10 per day if overseas, or $2 per day if visiting Canada or Mexico.
The flat fee is simpler than the old system, which saw users pay separately for international minutes, texts or data. Verizon is promising 3G to 4G speeds under their new plan.
“Unlike other providers, Verizon doesn’t use gimmicks like ‘free data roaming’ to lure you in and then put you on the slowest network and restrict your data use while outside of the U.S.” the company was quoted as saying in a CNN article.
TravelPass is best suited for short trips. Those who plan on being out of the country for a longer period of time may want to consider the International Travel Preferred Pricing Plan with 100 MB of data, 100 outgoing texts and 100 voice minutes for $40 per month.
Ever opened an outrageous bill and thought it was time for some cellphone cost reduction? You aren’t alone. But once and awhile a truly extreme case comes along, and we’d like to introduce you to one of them.
Meet Ken Slusher of Damascus, Ore. Until a few weeks ago, he owed Verizon Wireless over $2 million.
Yes, take a moment to digest that. $2 million.
His saga started late last year, when he and his girlfriend got new phones from the carrier. A short time later, he realized he was being overcharged on his bill – which sadly isn’t unusual – and returned the phones, cancelling the plan.
You’d expect that to be the end of this story. It’s not. The bills kept coming, still littered with errors. Then the collection agencies started ringing.
Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Slusher got the news that changed everything: a recorded message from Verizon stating his account now totaled $2,156,593.64.
Ten months later, a frustrated Slusher hit a brick wall when attempting to purchase a new home. Unable to get his mortgage approved due to the phantom debt, he turned to the media for assistance. After coverage by both KPTV Fox 12 Oregon and ABC, Verizon finally admitted a programming error was to blame for the outrageous bill and wiped the slate clean.
We could share a different story about someone hit with a ridiculous bill every day – it’s something we’ve written about before. These big errors are easily spotted and often make the news, but millions of smaller errors go unchecked and unnoticed every month. If one person’s bill can be off $15 each cycle, imagine what goes on at a company who uses 500 cellphones? Unfortunately, we don’t need to: it’s something that our consultants at Schooley Mitchell encounter every day.
Verizon and AT&T will soon be setting up miniature stores inside electronic retail chain Best Buy. These stores will be in addition to the space they already occupy on the shelf.
Both carriers recently made separate announcements, stating they are planning to install mini-stores in 250 Best Buy locations within the United States this year. More specifically, Verizon said it would start by opening 100 this month.
Verizon revealed it will be referring to these shops as “Experience Stores”, and they will be operated by Best Buy employees who receive additional training. Joan Colaiuti, vice president for national distribution for Verizon Wireless, said these Experience Stores would be very similar in appearance to the company’s pre-existing Destination and Smart Stores.
AT&T will take a similar route, with Best Buy employees working at its shops. However, in addition to selling smartphones, tablets, plans and other various tech, the carrier plans to include a dedicated section for smart home offerings such as Digital Life and DirecTV.