Verizon is in the the news and under the gun for its use of supercookies to track mobile users. The company uses the tracking technology — alphanumerical customer codes known as supercookies — to segment its subscribers into clusters and tailor advertising pitches to them. Although Verizon allows subscribers some choices regarding the use of their information for marketing purposes, the company does not permit them to opt out of being tagged with the persistent tracking technology. Our discussion: Within the first cluster proposed by Solove, the most relevant problem is surveillance. In the context of big data, it is useful to distinguish between active and passive surveillance.
That actually was said by a Verizon executive. Is this the future? Verizon’s move on this sliver of land is a look into the not-too-distant future, a foreshadowing of nearly all telephone service across the United States. The traditional landline is not expected to last the decade in a country where nearly 40 percent of households use only wireless phones. Even now, less than 10 percent of households have only a landline phone, according to government data that counts cable-based phone service in that category.
Verizon has started to assess and issue “report cards” on mobile apps that its customers are likely to use, according to the NYT. Sounds like a noble effort on Verizon’s part, but why is the carrier reviewing apps in the first place? After all, Verizon would benefit from apps using excess data, because that would result in higher cellphone bills for customers. David Samberg, a Verizon spokesman, said that it behooved the company to inform customers on how apps affect their smartphones because an app that behaves badly can detract from the entire customer experience. And dissatisfied customers might complain to the carrier, not the app maker.
We’d be lucky to be able get wireguided communications to 10 percent of homes in the countries we work in. But we can reach 75 percent plus homes with wireless even now. So we’re all for getting fiber to neighborhoods and are quite agnostic about the access network as long as it’s wireless. In places where they got money, life is not that simple. The bills to pay for those who get the answer wrong are quite high.
It took us a long time to adopt a position on net neutrality, but finally we did, based on the lessons for policy we drew from the Budget Telecom Network Model (BTNM). We concluded that it was not appropriate for countries that relied on BTNM and the high volumes of use and extraordinarily low prices associated with it. Now it appears that two of the main protagonists of the fight over net neutrality in the US are crafting a compromise that will in effect end the debate. Google and Verizon, two leading players in Internet service and content, are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege. The charges could be paid by companies, like YouTube, owned by Google, for example, to Verizon, one of the nation’s leading Internet service providers, to ensure that its content received priority as it made its way to consumers.
Verizon is a standout cell-phone carrier for most people, based on our exclusive best cell phone service survey of readers in 23 cities. The company received high marks from survey respondents in overall satisfaction and customer service, and service is available in most of the country. Overall, cell-phone service has become significantly better, judging by the annual survey conducted in September by the Consumer Reports National Research Center. Contract terms for cell-phone service are less onerous, and there were fewer problems with call quality in this year’s survey. The best carriers even came through after a hurricane hit one of our survey cities.
US Broadband users are clamoring for more speed, according to a just-released report by Horowitz Associates. The report, “Broadband Content and Services 2008,” finds that almost one-third of data subscribers feel their Internet service does not meet their speed needs; 19% are thinking about upgrading to a higher speed (or would if it were available); 10% are thinking about switching to another provider; and 5% are not happy with their current speed, but are not planning to upgrade at this time. Of all broadband customers, DSL subscribers are the least satisfied, and those with the telco services Verizon FiOS and AT&T U-verse report the highest satisfaction levels with the speeds of their respective services. According to the study, almost eight in 10, or 78%, of FiOS or U-verse customers are satisfied with the speed of their current service and are not planning to switch, compared to 70% of cable modem and 63% of DSL customers. The study, which now includes a multicultural component, finds that almost one-third of Hispanic and Asian (both groups at 32%) broadband users say they are thinking about upgrading or switching to get faster speeds, compared to 23% of both white and black broadband users.
It appears that erstwhile rivals Google and Verizon are talking about putting Google on the mobile palmtop. Good news for those who see a mobile-centric future, like us.
AT&T is finally warming up to Google’s phone OS, Android. T-Mobile and Sprint and members of the Open Handset Alliance, which champions Google’s new Linux-based platform, and Verizon has promised to make its network open to any device, a move that likely had Android devices specifically in mind. At the CTIA wireless show in Vegas AT&T Mobility chief, Ralph de la Vega said, “I like it a lot more than I did before… It’s something we would want in our portfolio.” His conversion on Android came after Google executives showed him that AT&T would be able to load its own applications on any Android handset it sold. Previously, the company had been fearful the handset would be geared too much towards the Google brand.
The phone company has reversed its position on censoring content intended for their customers who have indicated their consent to receive the content, but continues to assert its right to decide what messages it will transmit. Public policy must ensure that the common-carrier principle be formally extended to text messages as well. Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Messages – New York Times Reversing course, Verizon Wireless announced yesterday that it would allow an abortion rights group to send text messages to its supporters on Verizon’s mobile network.“The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect,” said Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon, in a statement issued yesterday morning, adding that the earlier decision was an “isolated incident.”
It has long been a staple of telecom law that telcos could not decide what went through the tube. According to the article below, this principle does not apply to text messages. One academic apologist goes as far as claiming that competition will look after the problem. He misses the point that under present arrangements there is only one way to reach a mobile user with a text message, though his/her operator (an equivalent condition does not exist in the Internet). Until that changes, the common-carrier principle must applied, be it for text or voice.
The article also contains interesting data on minutes of use by age group. What’s Good for a Business Can Be Hard on Friends – New York Times Unlike traditional landline telephones, which once made callers distinguish between local and long distance, cellphone carriers divide the world into in-network and outside. And because basic plans from the three major cellphone carriers, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T, are all about the same price — under $60 a month — the deciding factor for young people, in particular, is what network friends are on. Carriers are giving customers more options to stay connected with people outside their network. This year, T-Mobile introduced a plan that allows customers to choose five telephone numbers outside its network that they can call free at any time.
We have generally tried to focus on the fundamental issues of access to ICT infrastructure, and not the esoteric issues of Internet governance. However, after two and half years, we are beginning to think of broadening the scope a little. The anti-competitive uses of intellectual property have so far been discussed on this blog only in relation to attempts to claim a patent on the way the Sinhala language is standardized for the computer. Here is another aspect. A Patent Lie – New York Times Vonage developed one of the first Internet telephone services and has attracted more than two million customers.
Competition in emerging Asia has spectacularly succeeded in extending connectivity and, now, is also bringing down prices. But there has been little improvement in service. It looks like that too is happening in the US which has facilities based competition between cable and conventional telephone companies. “When workers from AT&T and Verizon visit homes to install their new television services, they come with blue hospital booties that they slip over their shoes before going inside. The sight of burly installers in dainty slip-ons might induce snickers.
In the 1990s, I was involved in intense debates in the US about how to incentivize telcos to bring fiber closer to the home. It’s finally happening, and guess what is driving it? Competition. “Verizon will spend about $20 billion by the end of the decade to reach 16 million homes from Florida to California. But it is in New York City where Verizon has the most at stake, because New Yorkers are some of the nation’s biggest buyers of video, Internet and phone services.
Rohan Samarajiva started out by introducing the four case studies that LIRNEasia will be conducting this year which will be LIRNEasias contribution to the Expert forum to be held in September-October 2005. Since all four study teams were represented, Rohan gave an overview of the terms of reference common to the projects and went over the timeline. Rohan observed that a good research organization and a consulting firm has a common culture, values and quality standards. This is not the case for bodyshops and hence their output was unpredictable, varying from mediocre to excellent. LIRNEasia will not be a bodyshop but will build a common organizational culture, value and standards using multiple methods, the colloquium being one.