It was a rather quiet week—not one huge piece of news, such as Microsoft agreeing to acquire Nokia’s phone business—came up. But, as usual, a good deal of interesting items and commentary could be found. Here are some highlights from this week’s data and telecom news.
Slowing Google Fiber
In most cases, towns and cities are lining up around the cyber block to become home to Google Fiber. There is trouble in at least one paradise, however. According to eWeek, Overland Park, Kan. halted the service Monday due to uncertainty of legal liability for the services.
A one month delay – until Oct. 14 – was announced. eWeek’s piece summed up the issue:
Bill Ebel, the Overland Park city manager, told eWEEK on Sept. 17 that the delay on approving the Fiber deal came over indemnity language in a contract the city was asked to sign. ‘Essentially, Google has asked the city to indemnify them for any third-party claims … and there is no limit to it,’ said Ebel. Instead, the City Council is seeking extra time to ask Google to make changes to the indemnity text by limiting any indemnity with a cap that would place a maximum amount of any such liability, said Ebel. ‘Everything else was generally supported. The council made it clear they are very interested in getting Google Fiber here for the city.’
Mobile Advances in Action
Periodically taking time to look at situations in which technology and telecommunications are doing things to help people – to see what is happening in the real world – is worthwhile. Healthcare IT News does just that in a short feature on TeleNICU, which it says is billed as Texas’ first neonatal telemedicine program.
TeleNICU is a project of Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. It provides remote neonatal intensive care units with round the clock access to neonatologists. The links, according to the story, are through mobile equipment carts that include medical-level videoconferencing, data transfer and digital scoping equipment.
The story discusses a similar system that Intermountain Healthcare is also installing at the Utah Valley Medical Center in Provo.
We the Mobile Devices
InformationWeek reports that the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is asking the Federal Communications Administration (FCC) to issue orders unlocking all mobile devices.
The move comes after a We The People petition at the White House website gained more than 114,000 signatures. The site reports that the administration broadened the request from the unlocking of smartphones to other mobile devices.
The story notes that the House of Representatives is considering legislation – H.R. 1123 – that would do the same thing. The bill has not yet come to a vote, however.
BlackBerry’s End Games
The newest wrinkle in the long-running demise of BlackBerry focuses on reports that 40 percent of the staff, or about 5,000 people will be laid off by year’s end. While there is nothing definitive on that move, the hard times have led the company to expand the potential customer base for BlackBerry Messenger (BBN) by inviting aboard the two rivals likely to put them out of business.
This Saturday, Android users will be able to download the BBN app. Folks with Apple devices will be able to follow suit on Sunday. GigaOm says that Android 4.0 and iOS 6 or iOS 7 will be necessary to use the app. The site also reports that the app…
…will allow Android and iOS users to communicate with BlackBerry owners without needing to send a traditional text message. It offers delivery, read and typing notifications, and supports group chats with up to 30 people. It also lets users share files, images and voice notes. And you’ll get a unique BBM PIN so you don’t have to share your email address or phone number.
And, finally, comes a story about two guys who got what was coming to them. The Next Web reports that the U.S. FTC has settled with Rentbro – or, more specifically, principals Daniel Pessin and Jacob Engel – for sending more than 42.5 million spam text messages. The spam promised a $1,000 Target gift card and eventually attempted to get personal information from the victims.
The story said that agreement, among other things, includes a “partially suspended” judgment of $377,321 – the amount the scam generated – and forfeiture of Rentbro’s remaining assets.