Election Stops FCC IoT Security Initiative

    One of the high-priority items in many circles is finding ways in which to secure the Internet of Things (IoT). The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), according to cyberscoop, had planned to issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to examine responses to cyber risks that are outside “market-based measures.”

    The story says that this is the first time that the FCC planned to take steps itself. Previously, it suggested that internet service providers (ISPs) take control.

    It is not going to happen, however. Correspondence between FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and Virginia Senator Mark Warner said that the election changed everything. It read, in part, that the FCC “had to postpone some of the next steps in this combined approach in light of the impending change in administrations.”

    Smartwatches Struggle, but Wearables Wear Well

    As is common in evolving markets, there are ebbs and flows in the evolution of the wearables market. IDC reports that the smartwatch sector of the market didn’t do well during the third quarter of the year, but the overall wearables sector rose 3.1 percent in the third quarter as compared to the third quarter of 2015.

    Basic fitness wearables, which account for 85 percent of the category, enjoyed double-digit growth. The firm expects the remainder of the year to be positive, but for smart wearables – those capable of running third-party apps – to struggle.

    The top five players didn’t change position. They are Fitbit (11 percent year-over-year growth), Xiaomi (4 percent growth), Garmin (12.2 percent growth), Apple (-71 percent shrinkage) and Samsun (89.9 percent growth).

    What Technology Is Really Hot?

    SpiceWorks surveyed more than 560 IT pros in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa about which technologies they think “are about to revolutionize the business world.”

    The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence (IoT and AI) will have the biggest impact, the respondents said. Virtual reality (VR) and 3D printing will have impact, but are not ready for mass adoption.

    Organizations aren’t concerned with security and privacy in relation to 3D printers and VR – but it’s at the top of the list of concerns for AI and the IoT. No frontrunners have emerged among vendors in any of the four categories.

    In-Flight Wi-Fi Voice Calls Gain

    Permission for people to make voice phone calls on airplanes in the United States is a pie in the sky prospect to some travelers and a possible nightmare to others. It is on the horizon again: The Associated Press reports that the Department of Transportation is considering allowing Wi-Fi calls as long as travelers are told that the policy is in place when they buy tickets.

    The story at WirelessWeek says that there is a 60-day comment period. The FCC has its own ban on voice calls during flights.

    The most interesting thing about the issue is that it is both technical and social. The rationale for cell phone bans is that they could interference with air-to-ground communications. Most often, however, those who want the prohibitions continued cite the annoyance factor. Air personnel fear potential disruption, including fights between angry passengers.

    Cramming Refunds and Credits Start to Flow

    AT&T and two other companies, through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), will refund $88 million to more than 2.7 subscribers who were victims of “cramming” in 2014.

    Cramming is unauthorized charges put on a subscriber’s bill. Tatto and Acquinity, along with the carrier, had settled with the agency. The FTC says that more than 300,000 current subscribers will receive credit on their bills within 75 days. Former subscribers will get checks.

    The average amount, the press release says, will be $31. The checks and credits began to flow this week. The release says that the penalty is the largest ever awarded to victims of cramming.

    Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk
    Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk is a long-time IT and telecom journalist. His coverage areas include the IoT, artificial intelligence, artificial intelligence, drones, 3D printing LTE and 5G, SDN, NFV, net neutrality, municipal broadband, unified communications and business continuity/disaster recovery. Weinschenk has written about wireless and phone companies, cable operators and their vendor ecosystems. He also has written about alternative energy and runs a website, The Daily Music Break, as a hobby.

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