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T-Mobile Fined $48 Million By FCC For Mischaracterizing 'Unlimited' Plan and Throttling Users' Data ( 148

T-Mobile will have to pay $48 million in fines after reaching a settlement with the FCC over the way it promoted its unlimited data plans. T-Mobile's unlimited data plans don't charge you for going over a certain data limit, but the carrier can slow down connection speeds after you reach a certain threshold. From a Bloomberg report: The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday announced the settlement, including a $7.5 million fine and $35.5 million worth of discounted gear or data for customers of third-largest U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile and its MetroPCS unit. An investigation found that company policy allows T-Mobile to decrease data speeds when customers on plans sold as unlimited exceed a monthly data threshold, the FCC said in a news release. The agency heard from hundreds of "unhappy" customers who complained of slow speeds and said they weren't receiving what they were sold, according to the news release.

Will The iPhone 8 Include Augmented Reality? ( 55

Earlier this month Mashable wrote "it's now even more obvious what [Apple] is working to bring to the masses, and it's probably not, as some rumors have indicated, virtual reality." They cited CEO Tim Cook's recent predictions that augmented reality "is going to become really big" -- he said it again on Thursday -- and BuzzFeed noted that Apple "has quietly put into place the components of what could prove to be an AR ecosystem: The iPhone 7 Plus has...a two-camera system capable of gathering stereoscopic data and generating image depth maps... In Apple Watch, the company has a spatially-aware, wearable device outfitted with an accelerometer and GPS. In its new AirPod wireless earphones, Apple essentially has a pair of diminutive, spatially-aware microcomputers -- each one with an Apple W1 wireless chip (the company's first), two accelerometers, two optical sensors, beam-forming microphones, and an antenna... And sources tell BuzzFeed News that the company has recently been taking meetings with immersive content companies like Jaunt.
Their article also lists AR companies that Apple's bought over the last three years -- plus their patents for a "head-mounted display" and a "peripheral treatment for head-mounted displays." BGR adds that Tim Cook "likes to tease future products," and points out that Cook has even said Apple is working on AR features "behind the curtain". This casts a new light on those rumors of an all-glass case for next year's iPhone 8. Will the whole body of the phone become part of an Augmented Reality display system? (And could AR also explain Apple's aggressive push for wireless headphones?)
United States

California City Converts Its Street Lights Into A High-Speed IoT Backbone ( 61

Harvard Law professor Susan Crawford describes how the city of Santa Monica installed its own high-speed IoT backbone on its street lights and traffic signals -- and why it's important. Neutral "micro" cell sites can make very high-capacity wireless transmissions available, competitively, to everyone (and every sensor) nearby. This can and should cause an explosion of options and new opportunities for economic growth, innovation, and human flourishing in general... Very few American cities have carried out this transmogrification, but every single one will need to. Santa a city that will be able to control its future digital destiny, because it is taking a comprehensive, competition-forcing approach to the transmission of data...

Cities that get control of their streetlights and connect them to municipally overseen, reasonably priced dark fiber can chart their own Internet of Things futures, rather than leave their destinies in the hands of vendors whose priorities are driven (rationally) by the desire to control whole markets and keep share prices and dividends high rather than provide public benefits.

Santa Monica's CIO warns that now telecoms "are looking for exclusive rights to poles and saying they can't co-locate [with their competitors]. They're all hiring firms to lock up their permits and rights to as many poles as possible, as quickly as possible, before governments can organize."

DHS Warns of Mirai Botnet Threat To Cellular Modems ( 21

chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: The Mirai malware that is behind massive denial of service attacks involving hundreds of thousands of "Internet of Things" devices may also affect cellular modems that connect those devices to the internet, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning. An alert issued by DHS's Industrial Control System CERT on Wednesday warned that cellular gateways manufactured by Sierra Wireless are vulnerable to compromise by the Mirai malware. While the routers are not actively being targeted by the malware, "unchanged default factory credentials, which are publicly available, could allow the devices to be compromised," ICS-CERT warned. The alert comes after a number of reports identified devices infected with the Mirai malware as the source of massive denial of service attacks against media websites like Krebs on Security and the French hosting company OVH. The attacks emanated from a global network of hundreds of thousands of infected IP-enabled closed circuit video cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), network video recorders (NVRs) and other devices. Analysis by the firm Imperva found that Mirai is purpose-built to infect Internet of Things devices and enlist them in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The malware searches broadly for insecure or weakly secured IoT devices that can be remotely accessed and broken into with easily guessed (factory default) usernames and passwords. The report adds: "Sierra said in an alert that the company has 'confirmed reports of the 'Mirai' malware infecting AirLink gateways that are using the default ACEmanager password and are reachable from the public internet.' Sierra Wireless LS300, GX400, GX/ES440, GX/ES450, and RV50 were identified in the bulletin as vulnerable to compromise by Mirai. Furthermore, devices attached to he gateway's local area network may also be vulnerable to infection by the Mirai malware, ICS-CERT warned. Sierra Wireless asked affected users to reboot their gateway. Mirai is memory resident malware, meaning that is erased upon reboot. Furthermore, administrators were advised to change the password to the management interface by logging in locally, or remotely to a vulnerable device."

Sprint To Provide 1 Million Students With Free Internet, Mobile Devices ( 65

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Wireless carrier Sprint Corp on Tuesday pledged to provide 1 million U.S. high school students with free mobile devices and internet access as part of a White House initiative to expand opportunities for lower income kids. Marcelo Claure, chief executive of Sprint, said the plan builds on the company's prior commitment through the White House's ConnectED program to get 50,000 students high speed internet. He said Sprint realized that while providing students with internet at school was helpful, students would still need to be able to use the internet at home. "We are going to equip 1 million kids with the tools they need to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams," Claure told reporters on a White House call. Sprint aims to give cell phones, tablets, laptops or mobile hot spots to students who do not have internet at home. Students would be able to choose the type of device that might meet their needs and it would be coupled with four years of free data plans. The company hopes to reach its goal of a million students in five years. Manufacturers have agreed to provide the mobile devices at no cost, Claure said. He also said the company would encourage customers to donate their old devices to the program and that it would not cost Sprint much to allow the free use of its network.

Google Hires Joke Writers From Pixar and The Onion To Make Assistant More Personable ( 38

One of the biggest announcements made at Google I/O earlier this year and at Google's hardware launch event this past week was Google Home, an always-listening wireless speaker that features the Google Assistant. The Google Assistant is similar to Amazon Echo's voice assistant named Alexa, as it can deliver search results, sports scores, calendar information, and a whole lot more. But in an effort to make the Assistant more personable to better compete with Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, Google has decided to hire joke writers from Pixar and The Onion. An anonymous reader quotes CNET: According to a Wall Street Journal report, comedy and joke writers from Pixar movies and the Onion are already working on making Google's upcoming Assistant AI voice service feel more loose and vibrant. The development of compelling voice AI will need to start drawing from deeper, more entertaining wells, especially as these home hubs try to have conversations all day long. Current voice AI like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa on the Echo try to engage with personality, and they even tell jokes (usually, bad ones). But, as these services aim to be entirely voice-based, like the upcoming Google Home hub, they'll need to feel more alive and less canned. Google Home debuts this November, and the upcoming Google Pixel phone, arriving in stores and online on October 20, is the first Google product featuring the new Assistant voice service.
Open Source

FreeBSD 11.0 Released ( 121

Long-time Slashdot reader basscomm writes, "After a couple of delays, FreeBSD 11 has been released. Check out the release notes here." The FreeBSD Foundation writes: The latest release continues to pioneer the field of copyfree-licensed, open source operating systems by including new architecture support, performance improvements, toolchain enhancements and support for contemporary wireless chipsets. The new features and improvements bring about an even more robust operating system that both companies and end users alike benefit greatly from using.
FreeBSD 11 supports both the ARMv8 and RISC-V architectures, and also supports the 802.11n wireless networking standard. In addition, OpenSSH has been updated to 7.2p2, and OpenSSH DSA key generation has been disabled by default, so "It is important to update OpenSSH keys prior to upgrading."

AT&T Considers Stopping All Samsung Note 7 Sales ( 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: ATT Inc. is considering stopping all sales of Samsung Electronics Co.'s flagship Galaxy Note 7 over concerns about the smartphone's safety, according to a person familiar with the situation. A final decision will likely come as soon as Friday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. ATT spokesman Fletcher Cook declined to comment. Like many competitors, the second-largest U.S. wireless carrier is already offering alternative smartphones to people who return Note 7 devices. Samsung started replacing the Note 7 last month because of a flaw in its lithium battery that can lead to overheating and pose a burn hazard to customers. Airlines have banned customers from using the smartphones on flights, and the evacuation of a Southwest Airlines Co. plane earlier this week was blamed on smoke caused by a replacement device. ATT's move would be a further blow to Samsung. The wireless carrier is the third-biggest customer of the South Korean company, according to estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Samsung is already facing a bill that analysts estimate stretching into the billions of dollars for the recall of 2.5 million Note 7 phones that it announced last month. A U.S.-based Samsung spokeswoman didn't immediately have a comment.

FCC Proposal: Internet Providers Must Ask To Share Your Data ( 83

The FCC has unveiled a new privacy proposal Thursday that is sure to appeal to millions of internet users. Internet service providers? Not so much. The proposal would require ISPs like Verizon and Comcast to get your permission before sharing your precious info with advertisers. Fox News reports: The Federal Communication Commission has changed its broadband-privacy plan since it was initially proposed in March. The wireless and cable industries had complained that under the initial plan, they would be more heavily regulated than digital-ad behemoths like Google and Facebook, who are monitored by a different agency, the Federal Trade Commission. The FCC explained its new approach Thursday and plans to vote on it Oct. 27. The revised proposal says broadband providers don't have to get permission from customers ahead of time to use some information deemed "non-sensitive," like names and addresses. The previous plan called for customers to expressly approve the use of more of their information. This time around, customers still need to OK broadband providers' using and sharing a slew of their data, like a phone's physical location, websites browses and apps used, and what's in emails. And customers must be told what types of information is kept and how it will be used, and agency officials said they can still say no to internet service providers using other data, like names and addresses.

Facebook Is Talking To the White House About Giving You 'Free' Internet ( 164

Facebook is in talks with the government and wireless carriers to bring its 'Free Basics' internet service to the United States, reports Washington Post, citing sources. If everything goes as planned for Facebook, it would target "low-income and rural Americans who cannot afford reliable, high-speed internet at home or on smartphones," (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source) the paper adds. From the report: Exactly what specific services would be offered in the U.S. app has not been determined. But the idea to bring Free Basics to the United States is likely to rekindle a long-running debate about the future of the Internet. On one side are those who view services such as Facebook's as a critical tool in connecting underserved populations to the Internet, in some cases for the first time. On the other side are those who argue that exempting services from data caps creates a multitiered playing field that favors businesses with the expertise and budgets to participate in such programs. The fight over this tactic, known as "zero-rating," has largely taken place overseas where local start-ups are mixing with globally established firms in still-nascent Internet economies. But a launch of Free Basics would bring the discussion to U.S. shores in a major way.India banned Free Basics program in the country earlier this year, stating that Facebook's initiative violates net neutrality. The government told Facebook to open Free Basics so that underserved Indians could access any website that would like -- as opposed to select websites handpicked by Facebook. The government added that if it is not feasible for Facebook to offer unlimited access to every website, it could look into introducing limited monthly data plans (like 500MB or 1GB for users). India was not open to the idea of Facebook offering users access to select websites.

Verizon Workers Can Now Be Fired If They Fix Copper Phone Lines ( 314

Verizon has told its field technicians in Pennsylvania that they can be fired if they try to fix broken copper phone lines. Instead, employees must try to replace copper lines with a device that connects to Verizon Wireless's cell phone network, ArsTechnica reports. From the article:This directive came in a memo from Verizon to workers on September 20. "Failure to follow this directive may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal," the memo said. It isn't clear whether this policy has been applied to Verizon workers outside of Pennsylvania. The memo and other documents were made public by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) union, which asked the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to put a stop to the forced copper-to-wireless conversions. The wireless home phone service, VoiceLink, is not a proper replacement for copper phone lines because it doesn't work with security alarms, fax machines, medical devices such as pacemakers that require telephone monitoring, and other services, the union said.

Google Gets Serious About Home Automation: Unveils Google Home, Actions on Google and Google Wifi ( 91

At its hardware launch event earlier today, Google launched Google Home, a voice-activated speaker that aims to give Amazon's Echo a run for its money. The speaker is always-listening and uses Google's Assistant to deliver sports scores, weather information, commute times, and much more. Tech Crunch reports: So like the Echo, Google Home combines a wireless speaker with a set of microphones that listen for your voice commands. There is a mute button on the Home and four LEDs on top of the device so you can know when it's listening to you; otherwise, you won't find any other physical buttons on it. As for music, Google Home will feature built-in support for Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and others. You can set up a default music service, too, so you don't always have to tell Google that you want to play a song "on Spotify." Google also noted that Home's music search is powered by Google, so it can understand relatively complex queries. Music on Google Home will also support podcast listening and because it's a Cast device, you can stream music to it from any other Cast-enabled device. Home integrates with Google's Chromecasts and Cast-enabled TVs. For now, that mostly means watching YouTube videos, but Google says it will also support Netflix, too. Google Home will cost $129 (with a free six-month trial of YouTube Red) and go on sale on Google's online store today. It will ship on November 4. What's more is that developers will be able to integrate their third-party apps with Google Assistant via "Actions on Google." With Actions on Google, developers will be able to create two kinds of actions: Direct and Conversation. Direct is made for relatively simple requests like home automation, while Conversation is made for a back and forth interaction utilizing Actions on Google will also allow third-party hardware to take advantage of Google Assistant. Those interested can sign-up for the service today. But Google didn't stop there. The company went on to reveal all-new, multi-point Wifi routers called Google Wifi. The Verge reports: The Wifi router can be purchased two ways: as a single unit or in a multipack, just like Eero. A single unit is $129, while the three-pack will cost $299. Google says Wifi will be available for preorder in the U.S. in November and will ship to customers in December. There was no mention of international availability. Google says it has developed a number of technologies to make the Wifi system work, including intelligent routing of traffic from your phone or device to the nearest Wifi unit in your home. It supports AC 1200 wireless speeds, as well as simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. It also has beamforming technology and support for Bluetooth Smart. Google says the system will handle channel management and other traffic routing automatically.

Researchers Develop System To Send Passwords, Keys Through Users' Bodies ( 61

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: Credential theft is one of the more persistent and troubling threats in security, and researchers have been trying to come up with answers to it for decades. A team at the University of Washington has developed a system that can prevent attackers from intercepting passwords and keys sent over the air by sending them through users' bodies instead. The human body is a good transmission mechanism for certain kinds of waves, and the UW researchers were looking for a way to take advantage of that fact to communicate authentication information from a user's phone directly to a target device, such as a door knob or medical device. In order to make that idea a reality, they needed to develop a system that could be in direct contact with the user's body, and could produce electromagnetic signals below 10 MHz. And to make the system usable for a mass audience, the team needed widely available hardware that could generate and transmit the signals. So the researchers settled on the fingerprint sensor on iPhones and the touchpad on Lenovo laptops, as well as a fingerprint scanner and a touchpad from Adafruit. The concept is deceptively simple: generate an electromagnetic signal from the fingerprint sensor or touchpad and transmit that through the user's body to the target device. The signal can carry a typical password or even an encryption key, the researchers said. "We show for the first time that commodity devices can be used to generate wireless data transmissions that are confined to the human body. Specifically, we show that commodity input devices such as fingerprint sensors and touchpads can be used to transmit information to only wireless receivers that are in contact with the body," the researchers, Mehrdad Hessar, Vikram Iyer, and Shyamnath Gollakota, of UW said in their paper, "Enabling On-Body Transmissions With Commodity Devices."

Google Fiber Is Now a Fiber and Wireless ISP ( 21

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Google Fiber today said it has completed its acquisition of Webpass, a wireless Internet service provider that will figure prominently into its plans for deployment of high-speed Internet. But the Alphabet division is not giving up on fiber, saying it will use both wireless and fiber networks to compete against cable companies and telcos. Google Fiber revealed its plan to buy Webpass in June, and the company said in an announcement today that Webpass "is now officially part of the Google Fiber family." The Webpass site has been updated to call the service "Webpass from Google Fiber." Webpass uses point-to-point wireless technology that's useful for connecting businesses and multi-unit residential buildings in densely populated areas. It hasn't been financially feasible for Webpass to bring its high-speed network to single-family homes, so it can't fully replace Google Fiber's wired Internet service. "[O]ur strategy going forward will be a hybrid approach with wireless playing an integral part," Google Fiber President Dennis Kish wrote. "Going forward, Webpass will continue to grow and scale their business with point-to-point wireless technology, including expanding into new cities. And for our part, Google Fiber will continue to build out our portfolio of wireless and fiber technologies, to bring super fast Internet to more people, faster." Existing Webpass customers will see no change to their service, he wrote. Webpass's residential service offers speeds of up to 1Gbps for $60 a month in San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Chicago, and Boston. There's no word yet on where Webpass will deploy next.

Sandpoint Town Square Home To First Public Solar Roadways Panel Installation ( 163

Two years after the Idaho-based company Solar Roadways exceeded its crowdfunding goal of $1 million for constructing roads that gather solar power, the company has completed its first public installation in the City of Sandpoint, Idaho, where there are 30 tiles currently installed. New Atlas reports: The 150 sq ft (14 sq m) installation in Sandpoint's Jeff Jones Town Square is made up of 30 SR3 panels. Where Solar Roadways' second generation prototype was a 36-watt panel, the SR3 is the same size but is rated at 48 W, made possible by replacing the panel mounting holes with edge connectors. The new units each include four heating elements to help keep the installation free of snow and ice and over 300 brighter, daylight readable LEDs with over 16 million available colors. Though now laid down and switched on, not everything went exactly to plan with the installation. Manufacturing difficulties meant that some of the SR3 panels were not fully operational at the time of the public reveal. The working units were placed in the center of the grid and surrounded by dead panels. Solar Roadways aims to swap out the non-working units as soon as possible. Sandpoint officials plan to allow the public to interact with and modify the light show soon, and future plans for the town square include free public Wi-Fi and the roll out of electric vehicle charging stations. You can view the live stream of the Solar Roadways installation here.

FCC Votes To Upgrade Emergency Smartphone Alerts ( 103

After recent bombings, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to update the four-year-old emergency smartphone alerts system, which is used by officials to ping smartphones to alert people of severe weather, missing children, terror attacks or other danger. Some of the new changes allow the system to send texts with links to pictures, maps and phone numbers. CNNMoney reports: The agency also voted to allow longer messages -- 360 characters, up from 90 -- and to require wireless providers to support Spanish-language alerts. Wireless carriers will be allowed to support embedded links later this year. They'll be required to next year. The system's limits were on display last week when millions of New Yorkers received a text alert seeking information on Ahmad Khan Rahami, suspected in bombings in New York and New Jersey. "See media for pic," the alert said. Emergency alerts still won't include embedded photos, but commissioners said they're open to the idea. "Vague directives in text about where to find information about a suspect, just as we saw in New York, are not good enough," said Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner. "As we move into the 5G future, we need to ensure that multimedia is available in all of our alert messages." Not everyone was so sure. Michael O'Rielly, another commissioner, said adding links and multimedia could jam cell networks during emergencies.

Researcher Find D-Link DWR-932 Router Is 'Chock Full of Holes' ( 70

Reader JustAnotherOldGuy writes: Security researcher Pierre Kim has unearthed a bucketload of vulnerabilities in the LTE router/portable wireless hotspot D-Link DWR-932. Kim found the latest available firmware has these vulnerabilities: Two backdoor accounts with easy-to-guess passwords that can be used to bypass the HTTP authentication used to manage the router
-A default, hardcoded Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) PIN, as well as a weak WPS PIN generation algorithm
- Multiple vulnerabilities in the HTTP daemon
- Hardcoded remote Firmware Over The Air credentials
- Lowered security in Universal Plug and Play, and more.
"At best, the vulnerabilities are due to incompetence; at worst, it is a deliberate act of security sabotage from the vendor," says Kim, and advises users to stop using the device until adequate fixes are provided.


Verizon Technician Is Accused of Selling Customers' Call Records and Location Data To Private Investigator ( 50

A former Verizon technician who worked in Alabama is being accused of selling customers' private call records and location data to an unnamed private investigator. Authorities said the data was sold for more than four years, from 2009 to 2014. The Associated Press reports: [Daniel Eugene Traeger] logged into one Verizon computer system to gain access to customers' call records, authorities said. He used another company system known as Real Time Tool to "ping" cellphones on Verizon's network to get locations of the devices, according to the plea agreement. He then compiled the data in spreadsheets, which he sent to the private investigator for years, the court records show. "Between April 2009 and January 2014, the defendant was paid more than $10,000 in exchange for his provision of confidential customer information and cellular location data to the PL, an unauthorized third party," court records state. Though Traeger was based in the Birmingham area, the court records do not indicate whether the information that was sold involved Verizon Wireless customers in Alabama or elsewhere. He faces up to five years in prison, but prosecutors are recommending a lesser sentence since he accepted responsibility, according to terms of the plea agreement.

DJI Unveils the Mavic Pro, a Foldable and Ultra-Portable Camera Drone ( 55

It didn't take long for DJI to respond to GoPro's voice-controlled Karma drone. Today, the company has unveiled the Mavic Pro, an ultra-portable drone that can fold up into roughly the "size of a standard water bottle," DJI says. Of course, it also features a high-resolution camera and several autonomous software tricks. PetaPixel reports: Despite its petite form factor, the drone packs a punch: there's a 4K camera on the front, a visual navigation system, a 4.3-mile (7km) range, and a 27-minute flight time. By comparison, the Karma has a range of 0.62 miles (1km) and a flight time of 20 minutes. The Mavic Pro can be operated with a remote controller for long-range uses, or simply with your smartphone if you're not planning to fly it far. For the latter, the drone can go from folded up to in flight in less than a minute. In the Mavic Pro is a new FlightAutonomy system, which uses 5 cameras, GPS and GLONASS navigation, 2 ultrasonic rangefinders, redundant sensors, and 24 computing cores to serve as the drone's "brain and nervous system." Using FlightAutonomy, the Mavic Pro can follow positions and routes while avoiding obstacles at 22mph (36kph), allowing you to create advanced flights with minimal input and flying skills. What's more, the drone can even be controlled with your physical gestures, making it easy to shoot an aerial selfie if you so desire. A new compact remote controller has been designed for the Mavic Pro, and it features an LCD screen with essential data, dedicated buttons (e.g. Return-to-Home, Intelligent Flight pause), and a OcuSync video link system that provides live view at 1080p resolution. DJI is also announcing DJI Goggles to go along with the Mavic Pro. Wearing the goggles allows you to fly the drone with an immersive 85-degree view in full 1080p, viewing the world through the eyes of the drone. The DJI Mavic Pro will be available starting October 15th, 2016, with a price tag of $749 for just the drone and $999 with a remote controller bundled in. The DJI Mavic introduction video can be viewed here.

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