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Preview: DSLreports - front page

DSLreports - front page



The largest broadband users community on the web



Published: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:15:22 EDT

Last Build Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:15:22 EDT

Copyright: Copyright 2005-2010, dslreports.com
 






Apple Confirms Cellular Data Flaw in New Apple Watch Series 3 -

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 17:46:46 EDT

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One of the biggest perks of Apple's new Apple Watch Series 3 was supposed to be the embedded LTE cellular chipset, which allows the watch to use cellular data without being paired to a smartphone. But many of the reviews of the new watch indicated that the device suffered from a connectivity glitch -- wherein the device tries to connect to unknown WiFi networks instead of connecting to cellular. As a result many reviewers highlighted that the primary function of the device -- using it on your LTE data plan -- was largely unusable.

Apple has subsequently acknowledged the problem and says it will be fixed in an upcoming patch at an unspecified date.

We have discovered that when Apple Watch Series 3 joins unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks without connectivity, it may at times prevent the watch from using cellular, an Apple spokesperson told The Verge in an e-mail. We are investigating a fix for a future software release.

Still, the device will be shipping without said fix in place, meaning many early adopters won't really be able to use the LTE-enabled watch as intended. There's also been an odd decision by Apple not to allow LTE music streaming until a software update is released sometime next month, making the new device even less useful. There's another caveat: the device won't work on prepaid cellular plans or smaller carriers, as it's only compatible with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile.

And of course the Apple Watch series 3 won't be cheap. The device costs $330 without LTE and $400 with the embedded LTE chipset. From there, you'll need to pay your carrier an additional $10 per month charge to connect it to your existing wireless plan. Some carriers like Verizon are also charging users a $30 activation fee to use the device as well.
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Judge Kills FTC Lawsuit Against D-Link for Flimsy Security -

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:00:03 EDT

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Back in January, you might recall that the FTC sued hardware vendor D-Link for adequately failing to secure the company's home networking hardware. According to the original FTC complaint, an agency inquiry found that while D-Link PR material consistently claimed the highest security standards, little to nothing was done by the company to eliminate a number of "well-known and easily preventable security flaws" that potentially put millions of residential consumers at risk. The flaws, found in both D-Link routers and cameras, included:

• "Hard-coded" login credentials integrated into D-Link camera software -- such as the username guest and the password guest -- that could allow unauthorized access to the cameras live feed.

• A software flaw known as command injection that could enable remote attackers to take control of consumers routers by sending them unauthorized commands over the Internet.

• The mishandling of a private key code used to sign into D-Link software, such that it was openly available on a public website for six months; and

• Leaving users' login credentials for D-Link s mobile app unsecured in clear, readable text on their mobile devices, even though there is free software available to secure the information.

But a Judge has now dismissed the FTC's case (pdf, hat tip to the fine folks at the Consumerist), claiming that the FTC failed to provide rnough specific examples of harm done to consumers, or specific instances when the routers in question were breached.

The FTC does not identify a single incident where a consumer s financial, medical or other sensitive personal information has been accessed, exposed or misused in any way, or whose IP camera has been compromised by unauthorized parties, or who has suffered any harm or even simple annoyance and inconvenience from the alleged security flaws in the D-Link devices, wrote the Judge. The absence of any concrete facts makes it just as possible that D-Link s devices are not likely to substantially harm consumers, and the FTC cannot rely on wholly conclusory allegations about potential injury to tilt the balance in its favor.

Of course that doesn't mean D-Link's products were secure, just that the FTC did a piss poor job presenting the case, or citing more clear examples of consumer harm. But default credentials are among the worst habits of many hardware vendors, and have been routinely abused by hackers for years. And D-Link isn't alone when it comes to half-assed security; the FTC settled a similar case against Asus back in early 2016.





Comcast's Top Lobbyist Doubts Trump Will Block Any Mergers -

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:40:03 EDT

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So far, the Trump administration and his Ajit Pai-run FCC have acted as little more than a rubber stamps for AT&T, Verizon and Comcast, whether that's axing broadband privacy rules, the killing of net neutrality, or the dismantling of plans to improve cable box competition. This rubber stamp approach to regulating has extended to approval of potentially anti-competitive deals like AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, despite Trump's campaign promise to block the deal. That has resulted in a wave of merger mania and merger proposals that were previously seen as horrible and impossible.

For his part, Comcast's top lobbyist David Cohen think it's unlikely that Trump will block many deals in the telecom space, no matter how large.

Overall, this president and this administration is likely less hostile to horizontal growth or even vertical growth in the telecom space and elsewhere, Cohen said during an interview this week on CSpan's The Communicators. I don t think that s a license for anything goes, the lobbyist added, while admitting there's pretty clearly going to be less hostility and a greater willingness to allow the market to work.

So far though, "anything goes" does appear to be the law of the land, whether the deals help the "market work" or not. AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner is being green lit by the Trump DOJ despite widespread concern the deal will make it harder for streaming providers to compete with AT&T's own DirecTV Now service. The Trump administration is also likely to approve a Sprint and T-Mobile merger, previously blocked by regulators because it would have reduced competition by eliminating one of four major carriers in the space.

Trump had also promised to somehow break up Comcast's 2011 acquisition of NBC Universal, something that obviously didn't happen. But Comcast isn't ruling out deals of its own, and was rumored to at least be contemplating its own joint bid for Sprint with Charter Communications. A tie up between Comcast and Verizon -- which would have a devastating impact on the already barely-competitive US broadband market, has also been a Wall Street rumor for months.

We re not out there saying, Oh my god, to survive we need something else to buy, Cohen said. On the other hand, we have never viewed ourself from being foreclosed from the acquisition marketplace, either domestically or internationally.
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Altice's Plan to Acquire Charter Has Stalled, For Now -

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 14:00:02 EDT

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Reports indicate that Altice's interest in acquiring Charter Communications has run cold after the company spent much of the summer trying to crunch the numbers for such a deal. Altice has made no secret of its desire to grow larger after acquiring both Cablevision (Optimum) and Suddenlink in recent years. But much like Sprint and Verizon, Altice may lack the financial resources or shareholder motivation to reach Charter's steep asking price. Verizon's offer of $100 billion was rejected over the summer, and few companies can afford the $180 billion or more Charter wants.

Altice had also been considering a joint bid with Sprint, but CNBC notes that reports this week that Sprint was giving up on Charter and returning its focus to acquiring T-Mobile has impacted Altice's planned trajectory.

"The urgency for Altice to put together a bid has diminished now that it appears Sprint is going in a different direction," notes the report. "That means a plan floated more than a month ago in which SoftBank would combine Charter and Sprint in a new company have been pushed aside. Faber said negotiations between T-Mobile and Sprint, which is controlled by SoftBank, are still weeks away from completion and the chances of reaching a deal aren't assured."

Altice is still interested in acquiring Charter, but the report indicates that the company has shifted its timeline, and is now thinking about an acquisition one or two years from now.

That's probably not a bad thing for Charter customers, who are still reeling from the higher prices, worse service, and frozen speed upgrades in the wake of Charter's acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. A year or two would give Charter a chance to digest its last deal before throwing the company's customers at yet another new owner.

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Sprint Beefs up its iPhone 8 Promotion -

Thu, 21 Sep 2017 07:40:03 EDT

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When the launch of the new iPhone 8, most carriers were criticized for offering promotions that were "unremarkable." AT&T is offering a 32 GB iPad for $100 on a two-year contract to customers who buy any of the new iPhone models through its AT&T Next program. T-Mobile, in contrast, announced it would be giving a $300 trade-in discount on any new iPhone bought on the company's installment plan -- if users hand over their iPhone 6 or newer in good condition. Verizon and Comcast's Xfinity Wireless meanwhile stated they were still contemplating their own offers.

"The carrier deals that have emerged so far are unremarkable and largely in line with expectations, said CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber. That said, T-Mobile s trade-in deal of $300 is more aggressive and I d expect others to eventually follow suit.

Sprint, however, has since announced a new promotion: it's ofering a free 18-month lease of an iPhone 8 64 GB to users who activate a new line of service -- and trade in an iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8. After the 18-month lease period expires, customers can return the phone and upgrade to a new handset -- or pay $29.17 a month over six more months to own the device.

This could be a sign that Sprint s preorders of the iPhone 8 did not live up to expectations, Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research wrote in a blog post (hat tip, Fierce Wireless). Other operators might be experiencing the same result with iPhone preorders, but feel less pressure than Sprint to use costly promotions to drive subscriber growth."

You can find the full details on Sprint's iPhone 8 promotion here.
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Google Acquisition Rumors Heat up As HTC Halts Stock Trades -

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 12:00:02 EDT

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Reports out of Taiwan earlier this month indicated that Google may be preparing to acquire hardware maker HTC. Now HTC has added fuel to the rumor fire by announcing the company will be halting trading of the company stock "pending the release of material information." This major announcement, according to Bloomberg reports, is widely expected to be a Google takeover announcement. HTC has been operating at a loss for well over a year and needs a buyer to stay afloat, while Google has been interested in using a company like HTC to more directly manufacture the company's own mobile hardware.
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T-Mobile Confirms It Will Now Slow You Down After 50 GB -

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:00:03 EDT

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T-Mobile has confirmed that the company is boosting the "deprioritization" threshold for the company's "unlimited" data plans to 50 GB per month. The new 50 GB limit is a notable bump up from the company's previous cap of 32 GB -- which the company has been quick to highlight was already 10 GB or so higher than most of its competitors. When users in congested areas hit this 50 GB threshold, their LTE connections are deprioritized to last generation speeds for the remainder of their billing cycle.

In a blog post by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray announcing the move, T-Mobile pats itself on the back for being more generous than other big wireless carriers, who have a threshold of 22 GB (AT&T, Verizon) or 23 GB (Sprint).

"Verizon and AT&T sit at a meager 22GB, meaning Un-carrier customers can use more than 2x the data before prioritization kicks in," the company proclaims. "Now, 50GB of data usage means a T-Mobile customer is basically the top 1% of data users, and to put it in context, you could stream a full 2 hours of Netflix every single day -- that s 30 SD movies -- and never even reach that point!"

Ray noted that the changes will take effect Wednesday of this week (aka today). In his post, Ray insists that what carriers are doing with unlimited data plans should be called "deprioritization," not "throttling."

"Often confused for a throttle or cap, prioritization is different," the CTO said. "It doesn t cap how much you can use, and someone would only notice it when TWO things happen: the customer has already consumed a ton of data in the month (50GB) AND they are in an area of the network is that currently experiencing congestion."

"When T-Mobile customers who use the most data hit these prioritization points during the month, they get in line behind other customers who have used less data and may experience reduced speeds," the CTO explains. "But this impacts them only very rarely, like when there is a big line, and it resets every month."

The full announcement has a little more detail on the changes.
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Forum Topic: Piriform Hacked, CCleaner Infected With Malware -

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 16:00:02 EDT

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Users in our security forum note that Piriform, the creator of the popular software CCleaner, has been hacked. Only recently acquired by Avast, the hack was so severe it compromised some installer packages of the CCCleaner software, infecting it with malware that not only lifted some user data, but installed a payload that exposed millions of the software's users to attack.





Locals Say Google Fiber Deployment Has Slowed in Atlanta -

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 10:00:03 EDT

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Reports out of Atlanta indicate that Google Fiber has slowed its pace of deployment in the city, another indication that the company's love affair with its once-ambitious disruption project may be on the ropes. Local Atlanta news outlets state that Google Fiber deployments in metro Atlanta areas including Sandy Springs and Brookhaven have "significantly stalled," and that the company simply stopped seeking the necessary build permits late last year -- right around the time Google Fiber began laying off employees amidst reports execs were growing weary of the pace and cost of the project.

I ve checked with our utilities manager and to date, Google has not provided any formal notice of delay, said Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun. They halted their permits about six months ago. Restoration work continues, which ensures property where work was conducted is left in order.

As is now tradition, Google Fiber was only willing to issue a statement that doesn't actually answer any of the questions asked of the company.

Google Fiber is currently available in over 100 residential buildings in the metro Atlanta area and in several neighborhoods in the center of the city," says a spokesperson. "We re working hard to connect as many people as possible, and encourage people to sign up for updates on our website."

Google Fiber has given similar non-answers in places like Kansas City, where consumers that had been waiting for service for years were recently informed their installations had been cancelled. It's fairly obvious to most that Google Fiber is dramatically slowing down its deployment, but it's also fairly obvious Google/Alphabet doesn't want to admit as much.

Part of the problem is that Google Fiber executives are enamoured with next-generation wireless as a cheaper deployment option, but many of these technologies (including millimeter wave and 5G) remain uncooked. So while Google fiber management is stuck in a holding pattern waiting to see if wireless will be a less expensive alternative to fiber, PR reps are stuck with no real answer for annoyed users, who have slowly but surely begun to notice Google Fiber's waning interest in its own existence.
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FCC Sued for Inaction on Bogus Net Neutrality Comments -

Wed, 20 Sep 2017 08:30:02 EDT

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So we've been noting for some time that "somebody" appears to be spamming the FCC's net neutrality proceeding with utterly bogus comments in support of the agency's plan, likely an attempt to help downplay the scope of opposition to the agency's myopic move. Many of the comments were posted by a bot that appears to be pulling names from a hacked database of some kind -- in alphabetical order. While it wouldn't be hard to identify and purge this bogus comments since they all say effectively the same thing -- the FCC has made it clear it has absolutely no interest in policing the ongoing fraud on the agency's website.

Why? Again, if the legitimacy of the commenting process is undermined, it's easier for the FCC to downplay the massive public opposition to its plan to aid giant broadband duopolies by killing popular net neutrality protections.

But in a bit of a twist, the FCC has now been sued by freelance Jason Prechtel, who says the agency simply ignored a Freedom of Information Act request attempting to glean more information about the bogus comments -- and the FCC's response to them.

Prechtel filed his FOIA request on June 4. On June 14 the agency stated that it would be extending the deadline for responding to his request from July 3 to July 18, after which they never contacted him again.

"As the agency is legally obliged to respond to my request, and as the underlying questions behind my request still haven t been answered, I have filed a lawsuit against the FCC for its refusal to conduct a reasonably timely search for the records, and have demanded the release of these records," Prechtel said in a blog post. "Even now, over three months after my FOIA request, and even after I ve filed a lawsuit, this request is still listed as 'under agency review.'"

That's par for the course for this current FCC, who similarly informed me they'd be doing aboslutely nothing about a comment filed in my name (and in the name of DSLReports.com) that voiced support for the killing of the rules. Again, the benefit to the FCC and industry should be obvious; if the legitimacy of the entire public comment system is questioned, it's easier to try and ignore the obvious will of the public. It's a dangerous game the agency and industry is playing that will likely pop up again in the inevitable lawsuits filed against Pai and friends -- when they vote to finally kill the rules later this year.

Those interested can find the complete lawsuit here (pdf).
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