AT&T Loses Face
AT&T has come under fire from several technology advocacy groups for its controversial decision to block the functionality of Apple’s FaceTime app for many cellular customers who do not subscribe to a voice plan through the carrier and use their devices for data only. The groups, which include Free Press, Public Knowledge, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, are filing a formal complaint against AT&T under the pretense that the company’s policy violates the FCC’s Open Internet rules. AT&T has defended its decision, stating that customers will still be able to use the application via WiFi connections and that only the application’s use of AT&T’s digital data network itself is restricted.
The Laws of Cyber Warfare
In a conference hosted at Fort Meade by the U.S. Cyber Command, State Department Attorney Harold Koh has definitively indicated that international law applies to cyber warfare just as it applies to other forms of attack. As with other forms of military action, military cyber warfare must distinguish between military and civilian targets and must avoid targeting civilian infrastructures in hostile territories. At this time, the U.S. is one of a very few number of governments who have employed cyber warfare in any capacity to date. As technology advances, cyber warfare is expected to play a more significant role in tomorrow’s conflicts.
Why Telecom Monopolies Threaten Internet Equality
Susan Crawford, the former leader of the FCC’s transition team at the beginning of Obama’s presidency, explains in her upcoming book the dangers of Internet monopolization. After a series of deregulations began in the latter half of the 1990s intended to encourage competition in the Internet service market, the market slowly found itself being consumed by major ISPs who offered cutthroat pricing which forced its smaller competitors completely out of the market. In the year 2000, the U.S. Census reported over 9,000 independent ISPs in America. By 2005, that number plummeted to under 2,500 thanks to the aggressive lobbying from ISP giants to further deregulate the market and permit this sort of disastrous chain of events. According to FCC estimates, 75% of American households may have only one choice for broadband Internet service in their area in the near future if trends do not change. This would force prices higher and higher until many families were forced to abandon connectivity altogether.
Google Acquires Nik Software, Challenges Instagram
In an effort to further promote its Google+ social network, Google has acquired the creators of Instagram’s #1 rival Snapseed to bring more powerful photo sharing software into the Android and Google+ markets. Snapseed won Apple’s “iPad App Of The Year” award in 2011 for its multitouch photo editing interface and is expected to further advance the software under Google’s umbrella. Facebook acquired Instagram earlier in the year and many see Google’s acquisition of Nik Software as a way of trying to catch up to the social media powerhouse.
Why WiFi is Often Slow
While many broadband service providers boast speeds of hundreds of megabits per second, many home users only ever see a fraction of that potential. While there are many factors involved in why such things might happen, none are so prevalent as the usage of wireless routers. While connected wirelessly, users often receive less than half of their Internet bandwidth, particularly in households with numerous wireless devices using the same network. Internet service providers have stated that the speeds they advertise pertain to wired speeds and should not be expected in wireless environments. Technology is advancing to better handle the inherent slowness in wireless networking, but even the fastest wireless routers cannot hope to match today’s full broadband potential.