AT&T argued several months ago that its proposed $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile USA posed no danger because the US wireless market features "sharply declining prices, dazzling innovation, soaring output, enormous product differentiation, new entr[ies], and fierce advertising."
The US government disagrees. Today, the Department of Justice filed suit in DC's federal court, arguing that the merger violated antitrust law. "AT&T’s elimination of T-Mobile as an independent, low- priced rival would remove a significant competitive force from the market," said a copy of the US complaint seen by Bloomberg.
For as long as history can recall, mankind has thirsted for faster, deeper, and broader connectivity with other sentient simians. At its most basic, way back at the beginning, human language enabled us to connect with each other, and eventually neighboring tribes and societies. The written word took things to the next level, and we all know the importance of the printing press and later the typewriter. Eventually the telegraph emerged — speed-of-light communication over thousands of miles! — and a few years later, perhaps the most disruptive invention of all time: the telephone.
Our undersea cables might be fiber optic and our telephony network might be entirely digital, but for the most part we are still living in the shadow of the telephone. We’re not going to belabor the point, though; we’ve talked about the history of computer networks before, and you all understand the importance of the world-spanning web of wires and how they form the backbone of the internet that we know and love. Instead, we’re going to talk about the future of the internet.
What do you think will happen when every home is connected to the internet via 100 or 1,000Mbps Ethernet or fiber?
Your internet access would be faster and lower-latency, sure — and yes, you’ll be able to watch 1080p videos on YouTube and Netflix without bandwidth concerns. If music, movie, and TV publishers still haven’t pulled their fingers out, you’ll be able to pirate stuff really quickly, too. Ultimately, you’ll be able to do everything that you already do — but faster and with more flexibility.
The problem with this conclusion, though, is that it’s based on your current mental model of the web where you are a consumer. As it stands, the web is basically formed out of two networks: a very fast network of data centers that host the services that we use, and a low-speed network of spurs that extend from the nearest data center to your house. Fundamentally, the big difference between these networks is symmetricalness: internally, each of the data centers is connected to each other at gigabit speeds both up and down — your home connection, however, is nearly always biased towards download speed.
As consumers of content on the web, though, this makes sense; a faster upload speed doesn’t help you watch videos on YouTube or download the latest episode of Naruto any faster, after all. This isn’t to say that upload bandwidth isn’t helpful — the army of live and life streamers on sites like Justin.tv and Ustream need a couple of megabits at least — but generally, it is download speed that we’re interested in, and as a result it is download speed that ISPs optimize their network for.
Inexorably, though, our home and office connections are going to get faster. There are already huge swaths of Sweden, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and other territories that are connected at symmetrical speeds between 50Mbps and 1Gbps via VDSL, Ethernet, and fiber — and judging by the worldwide government-level pressure and funding, more countries are sure to follow. At some point in the not-so-distant future, then, we’re all going to be connected to the web at LAN-like speeds — 100 megabits per second up and down — and this, just like the advent of the telephone, will change the world as we know it.
Yes, symmetricalness is a word
You see, once we are all symmetrically connected to each other, the internet will finally become democratic, or at least 100 times more equal than it is today. You might be under the illusion that the web as it stands is democratic — that everyone has an equal voice — but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, Google or Twitter or Facebook could turn around tomorrow and ban every single American from its services, and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Twitter and other forms of social media have definitely made the web more democratic, but we are still just consumers of delicious, commercial web services.
If we all had symmetric 100Mbps internet connections, however, it would be different. Instead of storing your data with Google or uploading your files to Dropbox, you could store the files at home or in the office on a network-attached storage device. You wouldn’t even have to bother with long-term, offline backups, either: if everyone’s connected at 100Mbps or faster, and we all have terabytes or petabytes of hard disk storage, then all you need is a backup buddy: you store your important files at his house, and he stores his at yours. In other words, you will have permanent, free, available-from-My-Computer access to every digital file you’ve ever created — try doing that with a cloud storage provider. In fact, with symmetrical web connections, the cloud would have a rather nebulous (!) fate indeed.
Then there’s the other web services: at the moment you use Gmail or Hotmail, but if you had a 100Mbps connection at home, why not host your own mail server? The same goes with streaming video: why not just store a ton of videos on your home computer and stream them to wherever you might be? Symmetric connections completely rewrite the rules of file sharing, too: just check out Sweden with its city-wide DirectConnect and FTP hubs with petabytes of movies, music, TV, and applications available 24/7 at crazy download speeds. They could use BitTorrent or Hulu or Megaupload, but why bother when you can get everything from your friend across the road?
With a symmetric web, these hubs will spring up all over the place — but unlike the ones in Sweden which cannot extend into other countries where connections are slower, these hubs will span the entire world. Instead of your entire life being represented by a handful of bytes in amongst Facebook’s faceless sea, symmetric connections will enable the web to become metropolitan. Your presence on the web will be your home. Rather than being virtually connected to your friends through a list on a social network, the symmetric web will fashion physical connections. Instead of uploading a file and sharing a link, you will click My Friends from your Windows 10 start menu and simply drag the file to a friend’s computer. Instead of connecting to a centralized World of Warcraft server with thousands of random players, one of your friends could run the server instead. Web servers, mail servers, chat servers — you name it, with a fat pipe to the internet, they could all be run locally beyond the reach of Google, Facebook, and even the federal government.
Finally, because this would still be the internet, you would be free to hop between these hubs. It would be like moving to a new city — a new, physical Facebook group — but faster. There might be gated communities, of course, and you might lose touch with your friends — but that’s how the cookie crumbles.
The end result would be a truly decentralized internet that closely mimics human settlement and society. There will still be nodes on the internet where more people congregate — the bars, clubs, and McDonalds of the real world — but for the most part, a symmetric web would let people hang out and connect with the people they care about, and ignore everyone else.
Of course, at this point we have to point out that Google itself is currently laying its own super-fast fiber network. Google, in its infinite wisdom, has either realized that the internet will eventually fracture into decentralized hubs and wants a piece of the infrastructure — or it thinks that in 10 years, even with gigabit connections, we’ll still be slurping down YouTube content and wiping our greasy chins with Gmail. Either way, Google wins: 100Mbps-to-the-house is the future, and if I had any money I would plow every last cent into the internet.
[Image credit: Information Architects]
Hackers can be any shape, size, color, and creed, but they are all graced with a level of mental acuity that mere mortals simply do not possess. Physically, they are rarely exceptional. Philosophically and morally, they can vary from ultra-conservative to bleeding-heart liberal. Even by nature and nurture, there is no obvious way to discern whether someone will become a hacker or not.
But there is something that sets hackers apart from normal people. Hackers see things differently, and they tend to have a very different view of how the world and its constituent parts are put together. Instead of merely accepting something as true or workable or ideal, a hacker needs to know the why; a hacker needs to tear the construct apart until he can look upon the constituent parts and decide for himself how and why it works — or, as the case may be, why it doesn’t work.
Hackers exist in almost every technological arena, too. Computer hackers (sometimes referred to as crackers) — the kind who break into the Pentagon — are by far the most common in popular culture, but there are software hackers (programmers), gadget and consumer electronics hackers (hobbyists), and more. Generally, if you put someone with a hacker mindset in the vicinity of an object that can be hacked — which is almost everything — then it will be hacked, either for the forces of good… or evil.
The funny thing about hacking, though, no matter its flavor, is that it’s an incredibly valuable skill to have. There is a reason that almost every lone wolf hacker eventually ends up in the employ of a large, multi-national company — and believe it or not, many hackers that break into NASA or the CIA are usually offered a full-time job to prevent other hackers from doing the same. There are other hackers, however, that have committed crimes so heinous that they will never again be allowed to touch a computer, or even own a digital device like an iPod.
Today we’re going to look at some of the most famous computer hacks of all time, their perpetrators, and where they are now. First up, the hacking superstar who started it all: Kevin Mitnick.
If you're the type to hoard frequent flyer miles or credit card points, MileWise is a new search engine designed specifically to help you reap the largest rewards from flights. More »
It’s only Tuesday, but the big news this week is already behind us: Google intends to shell out $12,5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility and its portfolio of roughly 25,000 patents. The deal was covered far and wide, but some of the most interesting thoughts surrounding the news came late Monday night from Apple pundit John Gruber. The initial intent of Gruber’s piece was to point out to irony of reporter Dan Lyons’ repeated use of baseless speculation in an effort to discredit “Apple fanboy MG Siegler” of TechCrunch, but it evolved into an interesting commentary on the acquisition itself. Moreover, it brings a few interesting observations to light that went widely overlooked in yesterday’s coverage of the deal. BGR noted yesterday that it was curious Google chose to spend a fortune — nearly two times its 2010 profits, as Gruber points out — to acquire Motorola rather than licensing its patents. The answer might just be that Google, despite its size, was not in a position of power with this deal, and saving Android in the face of unending patent complaints became its top priority. Read on for more.
With Apple and Microsoft using patents as a weapon in an effort to slow competition from Android vendors and even block the sale of their products, Google had to act. The company’s odd public patent spat ended up being a prelude to something more — something much more: a massive $12.5 billion acquisition. Of course this purchase will give Google the ability to create an end-to-end Android experience across smartphones, tablets and Google TV boxes that represent its vision more precisely, but many experts agree that this was not the driving force behind the deal. Instead, it was Motorola’s massive patent portfolio, which will arm Google with the means to defend Android and its partners. With this in mind, it now makes that Google was willing to part with $12.5 billion to buy a struggling smartphone vendor that reported an operating loss of $85 million last quarter. It also might explain how Motorola Mobility managed to work out a sale rather than a licensing deal.
“I think Motorola knew they had Google by the balls,” Gruber wrote on Daring Fireball. “Google needed Motorola’s patent library to defend Android as a whole, Motorola knew it, and they made Google pay and pay handsomely.” He also notes that during the company’s negotiations with Google — which only took place over the past five weeks according to a report from GigaOm — CEO Sanjay Jha publicly spoke of Motorola’s interest in Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, and even openly threatened to use Motorola’s IP to wage war on other Android vendors. In this context, Jha was asserting power and giving Google ultimatums. Gruber continued, ”I don’t think it’s curious at all why Google didn’t simply license Motorola’s patents. Motorola held out for a full acquisition at a premium far above the company’s actual value, and threatened to go after its sibling Android partners if Google didn’t acquiesce. Thus the public threats from Jha and Icahn. Thus the high price. Thus the lack of a simpler, cheaper licensing agreement. Thus the unusual $2.5 billion reverse breakup fee.”
In the end, Motorola may have just played an incredible game of chess with Google, a company that identified Motorola’s patent war chest as its best line of defense against Apple, Microsoft and even a patent battle that was brewing within the ranks of its Android partners. Motorola has been behind some of the most popular smartphones in Android’s short history, and yet it is still unable to turn a profit. Now that Samsung and HTC have emerged as clear leaders in the Android space, Motorola might have seen a potential acquisition as its best chance to create a return for investors. And so by denying Google the ability to license its patents and forcing Google’s hand, an acquisition of Motorola Mobility might have become the only way for Google to ultimately save Android from patent predators like Apple.
Crazy news just in—Google is acquiring the handset division of Motorola, Motorola Mobility, for $12.5 billion. This means Google is now officially in the hardware business. More »
This may come as a shock considering how seriously Facebook takes your privacy, but if you’re a Facebook user with one of Facebook’s mobile applications installed on your iPhone or one of several other smartphones, you’ve been robbed. Each and every contact stored on your phone is probably now also stored on Facebook’s servers, as was re-re-rediscovered by Facebook users this past week. Whether or not people in your contact list even have Facebook accounts, their names and phone numbers are likely now in Facebook’s possession. There is probably a clause buried deep within Facebook’s terms and conditions that makes this invasion of your privacy OK on paper, but odds are still pretty good that it’s not OK with you. It should also be noted that no terms and conditions display on your device when installing and logging into many versions of Facebook’s mobile app, so you likely did not give Facebook permission to take possession of your private contact data at the time the app was installed. Complete instructions outlining how to remove all of your contacts’ phone numbers from your Facebook account can be found below. Whether or not the data will be completely wiped from Facebook’s servers is unclear, but we’ll leave that for the lawyers to figure out.
- Visit facebook.com from a PC and log in
- in the top-right corner of the screen, click on Account and then Edit Friends
- In the menu on the left side of the screen, click on Contacts
- Here, you will see that each and every one of your contacts in Address Book are listed along with their phone numbers… wipe the look of shock and disgust from your face
- On the right side of the screen, click on the “this page” link
- Follow the instructions on this page — you’ll have to disable contact-sync in Facebook’s mobile app if it’s enabled — and click the Remove button
You know the look-that one of haughty derision shot your way as you board a plane and are forced to do a walk of shame past the first class passengers as they suck down champagne and warm nuts while you're left to vie for the last overhead space and a free armrest in coach. More »
It seems that Apple has ported iOS's background applications system over to the desktop in a feature called Automatic Termination. In concept, it frees memory. In practice, it closes things when you don't want it to. More »
Plan A, we suspect, is not losing your phone. Plan C is biting the bullet and buying a new one. Plan B, on the other hand, is an Android app that helps you locate a missing handset even if you don't have it installed when you misplace the device. Sounds too good to be true, right? Turns out the thing actually works, something an Ars Technica writer discovered the hard way, after his phone slipped out his pocket during a cab ride from the airport. What follows is a wild mobile goose chase -- one, thankfully, with a happy ending. Get the full story in the source link below.Permalink | Ars Technica | Email this | Comments"
BGR took hands-on looks at the all new BlackBerry Bold 9900, the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860 last night, and while we were pleasantly surprised with RIM’s new hardware, several analysts were not impressed. Jefferies & Co.’s Peter Misek and Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu each cut their price targets on RIM stock Thursday morning, suggesting that the Waterloo, Ontario-based vendor’s BlackBerry 7 phones just aren’t enough to reignite the public’s interest in BlackBerry devices. “Handset shipments will be worse than expected in the November quarter despite the sell-in of new OS 7 handsets,” Misek wrote Thursday in a note to investors. RIM said on Wednesday that the upcoming BlackBerry device releases across more than 225 carriers will be the vendor’s biggest launch ever, but Misek isn’t convinced that the handsets will get enough of a push. ”Preliminary reviews of the handsets cite improved speed but a browsing experience still inferior to Android and iOS. We do not believe carriers will put extensive marketing dollars behind the new handsets,” he wrote. Shaw Wu at Sterne Agee said the devices were “better late than never,” but like Misek, he’s still not convinced the devices will be a hit. Misek cut his price target on RIM stock to $22 from his earlier target of $24, and Wu dropped his target to $23 from $27.
Android: Dropbox for Android is already a useful tool, but DropSync allows you to select a folder on your SD card and automatically have that folder synchronized to your Dropbox account whenever a change is made to it on your phone, or on another system. More »