Category Archives: Communications

T-Mobile, Comcast Turn on Call Verification Between Networks in Latest Robocall Fight

pgmrdlm shares a report: Calls between T-Mobile users and Comcast's Xfinity Voice home subscribers will now be "verified," the latest move in the ongoing fight against robocalls. The two companies announced Wednesday that they have launched cross-network verification, allowing users to know that the calls they are receiving is from an actual person and not a spammer or robocaller. They use a handoff system recommended by the FCC where the caller's network verifies that a legitimate call is being made with a "digital signature." The recipient's network then confirms the signature on its side. A number of major wireless and traditional home voice providers have pledged support for the verification method, including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Charter, Cox and Vonage, with several announcing plans to roll out or test the feature in 2019.

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White House, FCC Unveil 5G Push and $20B Fund For Rural Broadband

The White House on Friday will unveil a new 5G push to position the US ahead of global rivals in the race to deploy the next-generation wireless technology. President Donald Trump and Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai will announce new airwaves auctions and plans to spend $20.4 billion over 10 years on rural broadband. From a report: The FCC will auction off three segments of millimeter-wave spectrum -- which can offer insane data speeds but has limited range -- for commercial use. The auction is scheduled for December, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said on a conference call with reporters ahead of the White House event. He said the FCC plans to auction off 3,400 MHz of spectrum in three different high-frequency bands. "This will be the largest spectrum auction in American history," he said. Pai went onto say that this auction, along with others planned for the future, are putting the US on a good path. "The US is well-positioned to take a lead in 5G," he said. The FCC is also announcing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The agency plans to reallocate $20.4 billion from its Universal Service Fund over the next 10 years to subsidize eligible companies to build out broadband infrastructure in underserved areas. The money will be allocated to internet service providers that can provide a minimum of 25 megabit per second downloads in areas that are currently in need of connectivity, Pai said. He added that the new infrastructure will also help bring 5G to these rural areas. "There are a number of startups that are working on millimeter wave technology to bring 5G to rural America," he said on the call.

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Net Neutrality Bill Sails Through the House But Faces an Uncertain Political Future

House lawmakers on Wednesday approved a Democrat-backed bill (alternative source) that would restore rules requiring AT&T, Verizon and other Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally, marking an early step toward reversing one of the most significant deregulatory moves of the Trump era. From a report: But the net neutrality measure is likely to stall from here, given strong Republican opposition in the GOP-controlled Senate and the White House, where aides to President Trump this week recommended that he veto the legislation if it ever reaches his desk. The House's proposal, which passed by a vote of 232-190, would reinstate federal regulations that had banned AT&T, Verizon and other broadband providers from blocking or slowing down customers' access to websites. Adopted in 2015 during the Obama administration, these net neutrality protections had the backing of tech giants and startups as well as consumer advocacy groups, which together argued that strong federal open Internet protections were necessary to preserve competition and allow consumers unfettered access to movies, music and other content of their choice.

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Mitch McConnell: Democrats’ Net Neutrality Bill is ‘Dead on Arrival’ in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that the net neutrality bill Democrats are pushing through the House is "dead on arrival" in the Senate. From a report: The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote later today on the Save the Internet Act, which is the Democrats' proposal to restore Obama-era net neutrality protections that were repealed in 2017. It's expected to pass the Democrat-controlled House. McConnell was asked by reporters about whether the Senate would consider the bill once it passes. He indicated it would not, according to several tweets from reporters. McConnell's office confirmed the comment. The Save the Internet Act restores rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2015. These rules would ban internet service providers from blocking or throttling access to the internet. And they would prevent ISPs from charging companies extra to deliver their online faster to consumers. The Democrats' bill restores these rules and also restores the FCC's authority to regulate and oversee broadband networks.

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Chat App Viber Now Lets You Buy Local Numbers That Anyone Can Call You On

Viber, the chat and messaging app acquired by Japanese ecommerce titan Rakuten for $900 million five years ago, is introducing a new subscription service that lets users pay to have a local phone number that anyone can call. From a report: Founded in 2010, Viber has grown to claim more than 1 billion "registered users" globally, though the company doesn't reveal how many of those are active on the platform. As with similar messaging apps such as WhatsApp, users sign up to Viber using their own mobile phone number, which allows them to easily connect with other friends and contacts who have joined Viber. With Viber Local Number, which has been in closed beta until now, users can pay $4.99 per month to access a local telephone number for anyone outside of Viber to call or text (SMS). For the caller, it costs whatever their network rates are for calling a local number, while the Viber user doesn't pay anything extra beyond their monthly subscription. There are caveats with the service for now, though: Viber users can't call out using their local number, and they can't respond to text messages using their local number. So if someone messages you on your special Viber number asking a question, you won't be able to respond. The company told VentureBeat that it plans to make the number function bidirectionally in the future.

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Samsung Begins Mass Production of Its Own 5G Chips

Samsung Electronics has started mass-producing its 5G chips, the company said. From a report: Among the company's new chip offerings is the Exynos Modem 5100, which contains a 5G multi-mode chipset; it is the same chipset that is used to power the Galaxy S10 5G, which became available for sale in South Korea as of Wednesday. The model, unveiled in August, is the world's first 5G modem to be compatible with the 3GPP's 5G New Radio (5G-NR) standard. Mass production for its single-chip radio frequency transceiver, the Exynos RF 5500, and supply modulator solution, the Exynos SM 5800, have also started, Samsung said. These technologies also power Samsung's flagship 5G phone. The Exynos RF 5500 has 14 receiver paths for download, 4x4 MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output), and a higher-order 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) scheme for data transfer in 5G networks; and the Eyxnos SM5800 is 30% more power efficient than previous offerings.

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Satellite Airliner Tracking Over Oceans Goes Global

dryriver shares a report from the BBC: Tracking airplanes anywhere in the world just got a lot easier. The U.S. firm Aireon says its new satellite surveillance network is now fully live and being trialled over the North Atlantic. The system employs a constellation of 66 (Iridium) spacecraft, which monitor the situational messages pumped out by aircraft transponders. These report a plane's position, altitude, direction and speed every eight seconds. The two big navigation management companies that marshal plane movements across the North Atlantic -- UK Nats and Nav Canada -- intend to use Aireon to transform their operations. The more detailed information they now have about the behavior of airplanes means more efficient routing can be introduced. This ought to reduce costs for airlines. Passengers should also experience fewer delays. Aireon has receivers riding piggyback on all 66 spacecraft of the Iridium sat-phone service provider. These sensors make it possible now to track planes even out over the ocean, beyond the visibility of radar -- and ocean waters cover 70% of the globe. The rapid-fire nature of the messaging also means aircraft visibility is virtually continuous. Existing data links only report ocean-crossing aircraft positions every 14 minutes. '

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LinkNYC’s 6 Million Users Have Used 8.6 Terabytes of Data

An anonymous reader shares a report: What better way to replace New York City's thousands of aging pay phones than with 9.5-foot-tall kiosks outfitted with 55-inch HD displays, gigabit internet, and Android tablets preloaded with informational apps? So went the thinking back in 2014, when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a competition -- the Reinvent Payphones initiative -- calling on private enterprises, residents, and nonprofits to submit designs for spruced-up, publicly accessible hubs that would provide advertising-subsidized services to the public. CityBridge's LinkNYC beat out piezoelectric pressure plates, EV charging stations, and other competing proposals for a contract, and the consortium wasted no time in getting to work. Intersection -- which with Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes manages the kiosks -- said it plans to spend $200 million laying down 400 miles of new communication cables and installing as many as 10,000 Links that supply free Wi-Fi to passersby within a 150-foot radius. The first kiosk went online in January, though the project has quite a ways to go -- 1,780 Links are active currently, short of the initial goal of 4,500 kiosks by July of this year. [...] And the initial kiosks have really taken off. According to Intersection, the LinkNYC network now has more than 6 million unique users who have used 8.597 terabytes of data collectively -- equivalent to about 1.3 billion songs or 292 billion WhatsApp messages. And the project facilitates 600,000 phone calls every month, up from 500,000 in September of last year. Further reading: Free Municipal Wi-Fi May Be the Next Front In the War Against Privacy.

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Telegram Adds ‘Delete Everywhere’ Nuclear Option — Killing Chat History

Instant messaging service Telegram has added a feature that lets a user delete messages in one-to-one and/or group private chats, after the fact, and not only from their own inbox. From a report: The new 'nuclear option' delete feature allows a user to selectively delete their own messages and/or messages sent by any/all others in the chat. They don't even have to have composed the original message or begun the thread to do so. They can just decide it's time. Let that sink in. All it now takes is a few taps to wipe all trace of a historical communication -- from both your own inbox and the inbox(es) of whoever else you were chatting with (assuming they're running the latest version of Telegram's app).

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How Diet May Have Changed the Way Humans Speak

"Ancient hunter-gathererers often had front teeth that met together, unlike today's more common alignment where the upper front teeth 'overbite' the lower front teeth," writes Slashdot reader omfglearntoplay. "This malocclusion is a result of changes to the ancestral human diet and introduction of soft foods, according to a new study published in the journal Science." ABC News reports: More than 2,000 different sounds exist across the roughly 7,000 to 8,000 languages that humans speak today, from ubiquitous cardinal vowels such as "a" and "i" to the rare click consonants found in southern Africa. Scientists had long thought this range of sounds was fixed in human biology since at least the emergence of our species about 300,000 years ago. However, in 1985, linguist Charles Hockett noted that labiodentals -- sounds produced by positioning the lower lip against the upper teeth, including "f" and "v" -- are overwhelmingly absent in languages whose speakers are hunter-gatherers. He suggested tough foods associated with such diets favored bites where teeth met edge on edge, and that people with such teeth would find it difficult to pronounce labiodentals, which are nowadays found in nearly half the world's languages. To explore Hockett's idea further, researchers developed computer models of the human skull, teeth and jaw in overbite, overjet and edge-on-edge bite configurations. They next analyzed the amount of effort these configurations needed to pronounce certain labiodental sounds. The scientists found that overbites and overjets required 29 percent less muscular effort to produce labiodental sounds than edge-on-edge bites. In addition, overbites and overjets made it easier to accidentally mispronounce bilabial sounds such as "m," "w" or "p," which are made by placing the lips together, as labiodental ones. The researchers also discovered that hunter-gatherer societies only have about 27 percent the number of labiodentals found in agricultural societies. "Moreover, when they focused on the Indo-European language family -- which stretches from Iceland to the eastern Indian state of Assam and has records stretching back more than 2,500 years on how sounds in some of its languages were pronounced -- they found the use of labiodentals increased steadily following the development of agriculture," the report says. "All in all, they estimated that labiodentals only had a 3 percent chance of existing in the Indo-European proto-language that emerged about 6,000 to 8,000 years ago but are now found in 76 percent of the family's languages."

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Facebook’s WhatsApp Explores Using Google To Fight Misinformation

An anonymous reader shares a report: WhatsApp is working on a major new feature to tackle the spread of misinformation on its service. The Facebook-owned chat app is internally testing a new option that would allow a user to quickly verify the legitimacy of images they have received on WhatsApp by checking if those images had ever appeared on the web before. [...] The unnamed feature relies on Google's reverse image search function to let WhatsApp users upload an image and find where it has appeared on the web. This is a clever solution by WhatsApp, which protects all messages and media content on its platform with end-to-end encryption. While hugely beneficial to end users, using encryption also significantly curtails WhatsApp's ability to scan the content of messages and media on its platform. In emerging markets, users are exhibiting a growing appetite for sharing information through images. In places like India, WhatsApp's largest market and where the service is grappling with the spread of false information, the feature could potentially help many users quickly verify facts and get more context about the image they have received.

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