Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler today sent a letter [PDF via Gigaom] to Verizon Wireless, questioning its plan to throttle customers that have unlimited data plans during peak usage times. Verizon first announced its intention to throttle high-usage customers on grandfathered unlimited LTE plans last week.
In the letter, Wheeler says that he is “deeply troubled” by Verizon’s decision to throttle its unlimited users, as the company described its efforts as necessary for “Network Optimization.” Wheeler stated that he does not believe slowing the data speeds for select users falls under the “reasonable network management” umbrella.
“Reasonable network management” concerns the technical management of your network; it is not a loophole designed to enhance your revenue streams. It is disturbing to me that Verizon Wireless would base its “network management” on distinctions among its customers’ data plans, rather than on network architecture or technology.
Wheeler goes on to ask Verizon to answer a series of questions, requesting that the company explain its rationale for treating customers differently based on data plan type and questioning whether Verizon’s new throttling policy is justified under the FCC’s Open Internet rules. Wheeler also questions the necessity of cutting data speeds on the much more efficient 4G LTE network.
In a statement to The Wall Street Journal Verizon said that it would respond to the Chairman’s letter following a review of the content.
“We will officially respond to the Chairman’s letter once we have received and reviewed it,” Verizon Wireless said in a statement. “However, what we announced last week was a highly targeted and very limited network optimization effort, only targeting cell cites experiencing high demand. The purpose is to ensure there is capacity for everyone in those limited circumstances, and that high users don’t limit capacity for others.”
Verizon plans to begin throttling high-usage LTE customers accessing congested network cells beginning on October 1. The company says the change will only affect users with grandfathered unlimited plans not under contract who rank in the top five percent of data users.
At the time of its announcement, Verizon said that the top five percent consisted of customers who used 4.7GB of data each month, and those customers may experience slow data speeds “when using certain high bandwidth applications, such as streaming high-definition video or during real-time, online gaming” when connected to a cell site “experiencing heavy demand.”
Verizon, which has long restricted 3G data usage for unlimited users, is not the first wireless carrier that has implemented LTE usage restrictions for customers on grandfathered unlimited plans. Other carriers, like AT&T, have similar policies and restrict key features from unlimited data plan holders in an effort to encourage them to switch to pay-by-usage tiered data plans.
Despite years of rumors about what Apple might, could or should do to revolutionize the TV experience, the company hasn’t done much beyond releasing (and occasionally updating) its Apple TV set-top box. The Information reports that engineers working on the long-rumored project to go further, have been told not to expect a launch this year, and are targeting 2015. If true, the leaks today reflect mostly the same situation as they did about two years ago, with Apple trying to talk cable operators and studios into a sort of joint operation. That way, viewers could watch live TV or cloud-stored recordings / VOD (plus apps and gaming) all through Apple’s box and UI. Of course, working out how everyone will get paid and trying to convince operators like Comcast to give up their hold on the (often troubling) relationship with customers hasn’t been easy and the usual “people in the know” say those negotiations are to blame for the slow progress.
Source: The Information
Apple today seeded the first build of OS X 10.9.5 to developers, one month after releasing OS X 10.9.4 to the public. The new beta is available through the Software Update mechanism in the Mac App Store and through the Mac Dev Center. The beta has a build number of 13F7.
OS X 10.9.5 follows new seeds of Safari 7.0.6 and 6.1.6 for Mavericks and Mountain Lion, which were released to developers last night.
It is unclear what improvements the 10.9.5 update will bring to Mavericks, but it is likely to include bug fixes and stability enhancements. Apple is asking developers to focus on USB, USB Smart Cards, Graphics, and Safari.
Along with working on improvements to Mavericks, Apple is also beta testing OS X Yosemite, which is due to be released in the fall. The last Mavericks update, 10.9.4, added several Wi-Fi fixes and improved wake from sleep reliability.
While there are hundreds of different portable battery options for the iPhone, the NomadPlus is unique because it functions with an existing Apple charger. The NomadPlus plugs into an Apple wall charger, transforming it into a 1500 mAh portable battery with enough juice to recharge an iPhone to 70 percent.
One of the most cumbersome aspects of most battery packs is the recharging of the battery itself, but the NomadPlus allows the add-on battery to be charged as an iPhone charges via the wall charger, a simple solution that saves time and effort.
The NomadPlus is not much larger than an iPhone wall charger, measuring in at 2.75″ x 1.33″ x 1.10″, and it weighs just 2.1 ounces. It supports pass-through charging, and will charge the iPhone before charging the battery itself.
While NomadPlus takes advantage of the Apple wall charger’s superb design and engineering, its USB port can be used to power up any number of smartphone or tablet devices. Upcycling your wall plug with NomadPlus is the way to go when looking for a portable battery; it’s a practical upgrade of something you already own.
The update, originally released on July 15 to address sleep/wake issues, caused some MacBook Air machines to shut down completely for several hours. On other machines, the update simply refused to install. Today’s re-released software, labeled 2.9.1, presumably fixes these issues, allowing the update to be properly installed.
The MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.9.1 is available in the Mac App Store for 2011 MacBook Airs and can also be downloaded from the Apple Support site.
Russia has been extra-sensitive to technological threats to its government as of late, and that’s clearer than ever in the wake of a new government proposal. Communication Minister Nikolai Nikiforov has suggested that Apple and SAP should hand over their source code to prove that it doesn’t have “undeclared capabilities” for spying on Russian agencies. In other words, he doesn’t want to give the NSA free rein just because an official brought an iPhone to work. While he isn’t certain as to whether or not institutions will keep using products whose code remains a secret, there’s an implication that Apple and SAP may be locked out of government contracts if Putin and crew believe there’s too much of a risk. Much of that business could go to Microsoft, which has been cooperating with Russia since 2003.
Neither Apple nor SAP has commented on the proposal so far, although the concept came about after their national managers met Nikiforov last week. Whether or not they’re forced to make a decision about their code, it’s not clear that divulging source code will be effective. Many of the NSA’s intrusion efforts are based on security exploits, not voluntarily created back doors — innocuous code on any platform can still contain surveillance-friendly bugs. And yes, there’s a degree of irony when Russia has been accused of both discouraging political transparency and using malicious code to spy on world leaders.
[Image credit: AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin]
For several months now, rumors have continually suggested Apple is working on a revamped Apple TV, which may include capabilities like support for games and apps and expanded access to television content.
A source that spoke to The Information has suggested that Apple engineers who are working on the device have been informed that the product will not launch in 2014, largely due to ongoing contractual issues with cable companies and Comcast’s pending purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Apple engineers who are working on aspects of the device have been told by their bosses not to expect a launch this year and are working off timelines that assume a launch next year, according to a person familiar with the plans. Apple employees have cited cable companies “dragging their heels” and the pending Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger as reasons the device and accompanying TV service haven’t launched.
Conversely, sources in the television industry have denied that cable companies are behind the delay, suggesting Apple has “bit off more than it can chew,” and needs permission from many different rights holders to “create the service it wants to offer.”
Over the years, various rumors have pointed towards very ambitious plans for the Apple TV, suggesting Apple once aimed to create a subscription television service that would potentially replace cable packages. Due to a continual inability to negotiate a deal with cable companies, Apple is said to have scaled back on its television ambitions, aiming to work with cable companies rather than against them.
The most recent content rumors from February of 2014 have suggested Apple is working to wedge itself between cable companies and consumers, potentially providing content from cable companies through its set-top box, overlaid with an Apple TV-style interface. Apple is also seeking to add DVR capabilities to the service.
In 2013, Apple was said to be close to completing a deal with Time Warner Cable over a possible TWC Apple TV app, allowing Time Warner subscribers to watch live television through the Apple TV, but the negotiations may have stalled due to the pending Time Warner-Comcast merger.
Earlier this year, a product roadmap from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo pointed towards a Q3 2014 launch date for the redesigned Apple TV, but based on The Information‘s new data, it seems any potential launch plans have now been pushed back.
Modbook, the company with a history of offering pen-based Mac tablets using the internals of Apple’s notebooks, is announcing a new Kickstarter campaign today to support the launch of a new Modbook Pro X based on the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro. The $150,000 campaign will allow users to send in their own machines for conversion at $1999 or reserve complete systems directly from Modbook starting at $3999.
An innovative computer modification product, the Modbook Pro X incorporates the original hardware of a Retina-display Apple MacBook Pro 15.4-inch base system running the OS X 10.10 Yosemite operating system. The expansive drawing and writing surface of the Modbook Pro X has a scratch-resistant ForceGlass screen with paper-emulating texture that covers a crisp, clear 15.4-inch Retina display with a resolution of 2,880 by 1,800 pixels. Users get highly sensitive pen input with 2,048 pen pressure levels and pen tilt and rotate functionality for producing pro-quality creative deliverables.
Various configurations of the Modbook Pro X are available, including processor options ranging up to the top-of-the-line 2.8 GHz chip launched in the Retina MacBook Pro just yesterday, up to 32 GB of RAM, and up to 2 TB of flash storage.
Additional options for Modbook Pro X customers include integrated Keybars on the rear of the device providing eyes-free programmable access to key combinations for commands and shortcuts, as well as a Keyboard Stand that serves as a keyboard, adjustable easel stand, and protective cover for the Modbook Pro X.
Given its price, the Modbook Pro X is obviously targeted at a niche market interested in a tablet running full OS X such as creative professionals, but for those people the device may be an appealing option. For others, particularly those who would appreciate an OS X-based iPad, it’s at least an interesting example of what can be done.
Modbook, the company behind those aftermarket Apple tablets, just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its latest product, the Modbook Pro X. After paying a pre-order price of $1,999 today, backers will be able to convert their own Retina MacBook Pros into a tablet beginning early next year. The conversion incorporates the laptop’s original hardware, with components shifted from the lower half of the computer to just behind the 15.4-inch 2,880 x 1,800-pixel LCD.
The Modbook Pro X supports pen input with 2,048 pressure levels, along with tilt and rotate functionality. You can also interact with the device using the rear-mounted shortcut keys or the detachable keyboard stand, both of which will be available for an additional cost. And, since your Apple warranty won’t be valid, you can purchase a three-year warranty through Modbook, which provides complete coverage for the first year free of charge. If you’d prefer to avoid supplying your own MacBook, you’ll also be able to pre-order a complete device from $3,999 and up, depending on the model.
Source: Modbook (Kickstarter)
Following yesterday’s spotting of an unreleased “Mac mini (Mid 2014)” on an Apple support page, French site MacPlus noticed [Google Translate] another entry on the same page mentioning a Mid 2014 27-inch iMac model. Both the Mac mini and iMac entries have since been removed from the page, although they are still visible on a cached version of the page from yesterday.
While the Mac mini entry has been taken as a hint that an upgrade may be imminent, especially since the machine has not been updated since October 2012, the iMac entry may point more towards the inclusions being an error. With the new low-end iMac having been added just last month, it seems unlikely that further iMac updates will occur in the near future.
It is possible Apple may have planned for a broader iMac update in the middle of the year with the low-end model appearing as part of that refresh, but the company may have changed plans due to a lack of chip availability or other factors. Alternatively, it may simply be an error unrelated to Apple’s product launch plans.