Tech News This Week:
FCC says AT&T Violates Net Neutrality with Sponsored Data Scheme; Verizon is Next
The Federal Communications Commission has reached a preliminary conclusion that AT&T is violating net neutrality by offering to let customers stream DirecTV without it being deducted from their data plans. Net Neutrality prevents internet service providers from favoring their content over competitors. In September, AT&T let it’s wireless customers stream DirecTV without it counting against their monthly data caps, whereas this week, AT&T started offering the $35 per month streaming service to all of wireless customers. Verizon is also in question with the Go90 video service which also does not charge for data usage. The FCC is concerned that AT&T and Verizon have a cost advantage over competitors because they are providing the streaming service to their own networks. According to the letter provided by the FCC, this structure is designed to “inhibit competition, harm consumers, and interfere with the ‘virtuous cycle’ needed to assure the continuing benefits of the Open Internet.” Both AT&T and Verizon maintain that the programs they offer are open to competitors who are willing to pay the cost of the customer data. The telecommunication companies also believe this will harm customers, forcing them to pay more for they streaming services they enjoy.
Saudi Arabia Hit Hard by State Sponsored Attack by Iran; Could be Black Cloud for Trump Administration
Saudi Arabia has been hit hard over the last two weeks by state sponsored attacks carried out most likely by Iran. The destructive attacks have erased data and created problems in the computer systems of the agency running the country’s airports as well as five additional targets. According to a Bloomberg investigation, thousands of computers were destroyed at the headquarters of Saudi’s General Authority of Civil Aviation. The attack wiped out critical data and stopped operations within office administration systems for a few days although air travel was not affected by the attack. The remaining locations of the attack have not been disclosed. These attacks could present a challenge for the United States when President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into his Presidency.
Smartwatch Maker Pebble Turned Down $740 Million Deal in 2015 is Now Being Acquired by Fitbit for $40 Million
Rumors spread this week that Fitbit is to acquire Pebble, the smartwatch maker that had multi-million dollar Kickstarter fame. According to sources close to the company, the Fitbit acquisition will be for an estimated $35-40 million – nearly 1/20th of Pebble’s highest offer in 2015, which according to TechCrunch, was made by watch maker Citizen for $740 million. The CEO, Eric Migicovsky, has been said to not see Apple Watch as a threat when launched in 2014, as well as other economic indicators that the smartwatch market was becoming highly competitive with limited demand. This last March, the company laid off nearly 25 percent of its staff and will be eventually shutdown by Fitbit.