The weather in the northeast is getting cooler, the trees are turning and the Halloween decorations are up. That means one thing: The holiday shopping season is here. It’s too bad that the consumer electronics world skips autumn, but there are millions of tablets and phablets to sell and only so many days to do so.
In any case, the week as usual brought interesting news and insightful commentary. Here are some of the highlights:
Cruz to Discuss FCC Hold with Wheeler
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who doesn’t seem to stay out of the news for too long, has a hold on the nomination of Tom Wheeler as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The issue at play is whether the FCC can demand the disclosure of funders of political ads. Broadcasting & Cable said that Wheeler’s answers on the topic were deemed insufficient by Cruz both at his confirmation hearing in June and in written follow ups.
The site reports that the two may meet to hash out the matter, possibly next Tuesday. The FCC currently has three commissioners, down two from the proscribed number.
Good Times for U-Verse
AT&T usually plays second banana to Verizon when it comes to fiber infrastructure. FiOS, which brings fiber all the way to the premise, arguably is a more elegant and pure use of glass.
U-verse, however, is deeply engrained. Indeed, Engadget reports that during the third quarter, the business passed the 10 million-subscriber mark and is the fastest growing part of the company.
The Dallas News adds that U-verse – which it says is seven years old – has a $12 billion revenue stream that is growing at a 28 percent clip. For the quarter, U-verse had net income of $3.8 billion, an increase of 4.9 percent compared to the year-ago quarter. AT&T’s third quarter ended on Sept. 30.
Verizon Unveils Converged Health Management
The idea that modern telecommunications and IT can have a huge positive impact on health certainly isn’t new. It is nice, however, whenever a new offering or service becomes public. Unlike cooler video games, sharper videos or more feature-rich phones, health care technological advances help people live longer and more happily.
This week, Verizon launched the Converged Health Management platform. InformationWeek describes it as a remote monitoring platform that sends vital data via a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)-compliant link to clinicians. Verizon is working with Ideal Life on the project, which delivers blood pressure, oxygen saturation, glucose levels and weight data. The types of devices and their makers will expand, and the system can interface via an application program interface (API) to any electronic health record (EHR) system, the story said.
PCs' Road to Recovery
Sales of PCs are going down. The trend is deep and long standing. However, Tom’s Guide’s Avram Piltch has some ideas on how to reverse the trend. At the highest level, the theme is that vendors should focus on the category’s strengths instead of what it doesn’t do well.
The six ideas: Focus on what users need, not arbitrary price points; forget about hybrids and build great laptops; feature high-resolution screens; build in long battery life; provide great keyboards and touchpads and make touch screens standard.
And, finally, comes a story that is out of this world. What NASA and MIT have announced has nothing to do with earthbound telecommunications – yet. But the government and education have a great track record seeing their innovations trickle down to consumer and business users.
There is no reason to think that this innovation – using lasers to beam data from the moon to earth – won’t someday take the same path. ExtremeTech said that the link transmitted data at 622 Megabits per second (Mbps). The story, in laying out why the system is a key step for space travel, suggests that the limits of radio communications are being reached.
The key is that it is probably only a matter of time before such communications, or tools derived from it, will benefit earthbound consumers and business folks.