Displaying items by tag: US

A US telecommunications colossus has made an exciting announcement in relation to a major pilot program it is set to embark on later this year. Verizon is set to offer fixed wireless ‘5G’ services in 11 markets by the end of June. The pilot program is aimed at defining the parameters for 5G specifications in advance of future standards and will be based on Verizon’s 5G Technology Forum (5GTF) which includes heavyweights such as Qualcomm, Cisco, Ericsson, Samsung and Intel.

Verizon didn’t disclose who exactly would be able to access the network, but did note that ‘select customers’ would be the beneficiaries of the innovative program. The US mobile operator has boldly claimed that the pilot will be ‘the largest proving ground in the world’ for 5G, encompassing several hundred cell sites which will cover several thousand customer locations.

The eleven cities selected by Verizon for the trial are Ann Arbor, Atlanta, Bernardsville (NJ), Brockton (MA), Dallas, Denver, Houston, Miami, Sacramento, Seattle and Washington, D.C. VP of Samsung’s Next Generation Business Team, Kim Woojune, said the 5G systems deployed will provide wireless broadband services to homes. He said, “The 5G systems we are deploying will soon provide wireless broadband service to homes, enabling customers to experience cost-competitive, gigabit speeds that were previously only deliverable via fiber.”

In a separate statement issued by Samsung the South Korean conglomerate added that it will collaborate with Verizon in five cities such as New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Washington and unnamed fifth location in April. Verizon is committed to leading the way to global deployment of 5G – but it will face strong competition from Japanese and Korean carriers to become the world’s first 5G operator – however, it looks increasingly likely to be the first to launch in the US. It was the first operator to launch 4G in 2010.

In a statement issued by Verizon the organization said the 5GTF delivered an open specification for 5G fixed wireless that is immediately implementable. Analysts have suggested the statement has been circulated in an effort to allay fears its equipment will not align with the 3GPP’s initial standards for 5G wireless services.

Rivals AT&T announced earlier that 5G trials are taking place in Austin, Texas and Indianapolis, Indiana. It also recently announced it has completed fixed wireless ‘5G’ tests with Nokia that saw it stream its DIRECTV NOW services at the AT&T labs facility in New Jersey.

Published in Telecom Operators

Google has announced its plans to launch voice-activated shopping from its artificial intelligence-powered home speaker, which analysts have suggested represents a direct response to the success of Amazon’s Alexa.

The new feature can enable users to tell the speaker to order them items and get delivery from dozens of retailers who are participating in the collaboration with the US tech giants. Google Assistant product manager David Wang said it’s just the start of what’s possible with the Google Assistant and declared that they would continue to add new features in the forthcoming months.

 "If picking up paper towels or stocking up on coffee is on your list, consider it done. To help you keep up with your busy schedule and shop for the things you need, we're introducing shopping with your Google Assistant on Google Home." The service marries in with Google’s delivery arm ‘Google Express’ whose US retailers include Costco, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens, PetSmart, Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Consumers can add payment information to their accounts to enable voice-activated shopping, which is a feature on Amazon's devices powered by the digital assistant called Alexa. Wang added: "Today is just the beginning of what's possible for shopping with the Google Assistant. Over the coming months, we'll continue to add new features and enable purchases for other apps and service."

Published in Internet of Things

Accenture plan to boost US workforce by creating 15,000 jobs

Written on Monday, 20 February 2017 10:04

Accenture have disclosed its plans to create an additional 15,000 jobs over the next three years in the US. The technology consulting and services company announced that it will increase its American workforce by 30%. In a statement issued by Accenture they outlined plans to create 15,000 ‘highly skilled new jobs’ which would subsequently increase its overall workforce in the US to more than 65,000 by the end of 2020.

Accenture further disclosed its plans to create 10 new ‘innovation hubs’ and confirmed it will invest $1.4 billion in training employees in order to have ‘leading-edge capabilities’ for doing their jobs. Accenture chief executive, Julie Sweet said the announcement represented a key moment for the company. She said: “Today marks a key moment for Accenture to help our clients play an even bigger part in the nation's growth and innovation agenda.”

Accenture has been a leader in the outsourcing business, and the Accenture boss says the new innovation hubs will be designed to help create the next wave of competitiveness. Sweet added: “That will involve helping companies figure out how to use new technologies in a process of “continuous innovation.” That kind of work "requires proximity to clients,” which is why Accenture is creating the regional centers.

Accenture are the latest in a series of major companies to announce investments or job creation in the United States. It is a trend that has followed the election of US president Donald Trump whose presidential campaign was centered on the theme of job creation. Trump vowed to bring back domestic manufacturing and jobs if he was elected president.

Published in Finance

US regulator, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have pledged that they will not ‘deny Americans free data’ following the conclusion of an investigation into zero-rated data programs which have been offered by the country’s leading operators.

The commission concluded their investigation into the data programs and decided not to take any action – citing that the ‘free-data’ plans offered by telecom operators such as AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US have enhanced competition in the country’s mobile market and have proved extremely popular amongst consumers.

In a statement issued by the new chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, he said: “Going forward, the Federal Communications Commission will not focus on denying Americans free data.”

That stance is the latest indicator that the new FCC chairman is set to remove the country’s net neutrality rules which were imposed by the previous administration. In the aftermath of President Trump’s election in November, he declared that the regulation’s days were numbered.

Last year, the FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler launched an investigation into zero-rated services which enabled US consumers to stream video content from applications without it counting against data caps. Net neutrality laws prohibit providers from offering a better quality of service to certain online content at the expense of other services, and due to this the FCC decided to embark upon an investigation in which looked at zero-rated offerings on a case-by-case basis.

One of Wheeler’s final acts as commissioner of the FCC was to issue letters to AT&T and Verizon in which he warned operators that their zero-rated offers violated net neutrality rules and harmed competition.

It was disclosed further what the contents of the letter contained – it said that AT&T, through its ‘Sponsored Data’ program had offered third party providers less favorable terms and conditions than those it offers its affiliate DirecTV.

It echoed similar concerns of Verizon’s FreeBee Data 360, which offers mobile video through its Go90 video platform. However, with Pai’s latest move both companies are free to continue offering their respective services.

AT&T issued a statement following the close of the investigation by the FCC and declared the decision a ‘win for millions of customers’.

Published in Telecom Operators

A number of leading US technology companies are to send a letter to US President Donald Trump in which they will urge his administration to follow through on proposed changes to an executive order in relation to a travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim countries.

The technology companies expected to sign the letter include firms such as Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, Google, Twitter, Microsoft and Yahoo. The tech firms are keen to establish clarity on the issue as the travel ban would significantly impacts its workforces.

President Trump signed an executive order on January 27th which imposed a 90-day ban directly affecting citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – and the order also included a 120-day bar on all refugees. It sparked worldwide protests - and resulted in chaos at airports with some passengers trapped at airports - while others were left stranded overseas.

However, a federal judge put a temporary nationwide block on the executive order, which angered the Republican US president – who proceeded to blast the judge and the court system – and vowed to execute the order.

A draft of the letter from US firms has been leaked, and in it the tech giants have requested that their employees can travel with predictability and without undue delay.

"We welcome the changes your administration has made in recent days in how the Department of Homeland Security will implement the Executive Order. We stand ready to help your administration identify other opportunities to ensure that our employees can travel with predictability and without undue delay. We are concerned that your recent Executive Order will affect many visa holders who work hard here in the United States and contribute to our country's success our ability to grow our companies and create jobs depends on the contributions of immigrants from all backgrounds."

It has been reported that the US tech firms are set to post the letter to President Trump today.

Published in Government

AT&T announce first two cities to get 5G mobile data

Written on Thursday, 02 February 2017 13:07

One of America’s largest telecommunications conglomerates officially announced the cities in which it will initiate its 5G rollout campaign. AT&T will launch its 5G campaign in the US cities of Austin and Indianapolis.  AT&T have named the high-speed network plans as the ‘5G Evolution’ and has indicated that it will we able to provide top speeds of up to 400Mbps – which to put that into context is around 40 times faster than a standard cellular data connection.

The network conceded that it has to improve the network in order to be able to improve and evolve to actually hit 1Gbps which is what a true 5G network is theoretically capable of. The US telecom which is headquartered in Dallas, has said that it hopes to be a position to reach those speeds by the end of the year.

The initial rollout is part of a much larger project initiative by the US’s second-largest wireless carrier. Network 3.0 – or Indigo – is set to use software advancements to improve the performance of hardware, bringing upgrade costs down and speeds up without being required to make significant network infrastructure investments moving forward.

The news follows fast on the heels of a similar announcement from AT&T who relayed that ‘AirGig’ is a project that intends to bring gigabit speeds to homes over existing powerlines. Currently AT&T is in ‘advanced talks’ to start testing in two locations by this fall.

Published in Telecom Operators

US ridesharing platform Uber has been hit with a whopping fine of $20m dollars - after it was discovered that the tech firm was guilty of making exaggerated claims about how much drivers could potentially earn working with the company.

Uber agreed the settlement figure with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) who also took umbrage with Uber’s misleading message on how affordable its vehicle financing plans were.

The FTC said that the global ridesharing platform’s declaration that uberX drivers earned an income of more than $90,000 per-year in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco were ‘grossly exaggerated’ – and the commission that established less than 10% of all drivers in those cities earned that kind of money.

In addition to these findings the FTC’s also shed light on Uber’s false claims about its Vehicle Solutions Program. The company claimed to offer payment plans for as little as $140 per week to own a car and $119 per week to lease one; between late 2013 and April 2015, those weekly payments exceeded $160 and $200, respectively.

This isn’t the first incident regarding the issue of Uber’s attitude towards its drivers that has been highlighted. In May, 2016 the company was forced to pay $84m in order to settle class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts in relation to two cases which raised the question over whether or not drivers should be classified as employees by Uber.

By refusing to accept the responsibility of recognizing its drivers as employees, the company dodged paying out over $730m to the 385,000 plaintiffs in those cases, which would have been towards fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.

Uber has now established a reputation for having a negligent attitude towards ensuring the financial well-being of its drivers – and the issues raised in the US represent the same problems for the company in other countries as they continue to expand globally.

Uber needs to actively work towards changing its attitude towards the people that drive its business – both at home and abroad. It won’t be easy, but no one said that launching a global cab service was going to be a walk in the park.

Published in Finance

US aircraft companies have revealed that the demand for drone pilots has risen – and that is why they have launched an initiative aimed at persuading young people to consider carving out a profession as a drone pilot.

The plea comes due to a shortage of skilled aviators in the industry – with many of the young generation deeming ‘drone technology’ to be cool, the specific aim of the leaders in the unmanned aircraft sector is to get that generation to select drone aviation as a career path.

In the US, commercial pilots must obtain a federal aviation administration (FAA) drone license and some companies that employ such pilots have started selling classes that help students prepare for the FAA test or just figure out whether they would be interested in such a career – as a result of the significant shortage of skilled aviators in that sector.

Drone-makers are chasing a market that is forecast to grow an average 32% annually over the next decade to reach $30billion. It is an extremely hyped market at present, and some of the world’s biggest companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon are all involved in developing drone technology.

Businesses use drones to take photos and video, for security and to conduct inspections or surveys, among other things. With the number of commercial drone operations outpacing the pool of certified drone pilots, experts say more training is needed to help young flyers operate the planes legally and safely.

Some companies have already embarked on autonomous drone deliveries with one American company revealing last month that it had successfully completed 77 autonomous delivery missions.

James Barnes founded the New Jersey Drone Academy in an old miniature golf and driving range complex over three years ago. He has revealed that his primary motivation behind the project was to give kids from urban and underprivileged areas – who cannot afford to go to college the chance to learn a trade and make decent money.

He said, “We are growing at an outrageous pace, but I hardly see anybody in the country moving in that direction. I’m trying to hire two experienced drone technicians at $20 an hour and I can’t find anybody.”

The drone industry will continue to expand, and the demand for drones now represents a real opportunity for young people interested in the sector to carve out a living as a drone pilot.

Published in Gadget

An American start-up technology company have unveiled its highly anticipated first production vehicle at CES 2017 – and made the bold proclamation that the vehicle would represent a ‘new species’ for personal transportation.

Faraday Future, which has its headquarters in Los Angeles, has held no secret regarding its ambitions in becoming a market leader in developing intelligent electric vehicles. Management for the tech firm previously outlined their desire to overtake Tesla.

Faraday Future have been backed by Chinese billionaire Jia Yueting (YT Jia) – and many analysts feel they are now well placed to seriously mount a challenge to overtake Tesla. The company announced at CES 2017 in Las Vegas that it would begin taking reservations for deliveries in 2018 with a $5,000 deposit for its FF91 model.

However, the electrical car start-up declined to disclose how much the vehicle would cost when it does become commercially available – but it did reveal it was building a factory outside Las Vegas. Industry analysts say it’s clear it’s taking Tesla head on – and revealed that its new vehicle outperformed Tesla on a number of key benchmarks including, battery range, power and acceleration.

One of the key benchmarks show that Faraday offers an estimated 378 miles (604km) of range before needing to be recharged. In contrast Tesla, based on US testing standards, can only offer consumers 315 miles before needing to be recharged.

Vice president of engineering Nick Sampson said it was the beginning of a new era of mobility and the emergence of a new species of vehicle. He said: “This is day one of a new era of mobility. This is the first of a new species. Because Faraday started from scratch, we don't have to follow outdated practices or retrofit existing equipment. We have to flip the auto industry on its head."

The vehicle is packed with technology: It has a semi-autonomous mode which allows for self-parking and multiple modems to connect to the internet. It personalizes settings for each driver and occupant. “Everyone in the car will have their own seat configured for them,” added Sampson.

Peter Savagian, vice president of propulsion for Faraday Future said it’s the fastest electric EV in the entire world – and revealed that the vehicle out-clocked its key rivals in relation to speed. He said: "This is the fastest production electric EV in the world. Our tests show our vehicle accelerates from zero to 60 mph (100 kph) in an eye-popping 2.39 seconds, which out-clocks all of our key rivals.”

Faraday refused to comment on speculation the company was enduring some financial difficulties – with some reports suggesting that they missed a number of payments to suppliers – and were ultimately forced to cut costs.

Those reports come amid news of a cash crunch at Jia's Chinese-based technology group LeEco, which has been rapidly expanding its products and moving into the US market.

Jia appeared at the Las Vegas event, telling the audience in halting English that ‘this car is very, very cool’. The Chinese entrepreneur said he hopes the project will help usher in a new era of mobility which is more environmentally friendly. "Once you have this you can get rid of the other cars in the garage," he said."

Published in Internet of Things

China’s internet regulator has issued a report in which it has outlined plans to formalize a new cybersecurity review which would represent a new challenge for foreign tech firms in what has become an increasingly volatile market for the tech sector. It has been an exceptionally difficult year for US technology companies in China - Uber sold off its operations, Apple services were discontinued in some parts - while Microsoft faced a new inquiry.

However, the latest proposal by the Cyberspace Administration of China looks set to create a new standoff - and further increase tensions between the US and China over internet policy. In the report submitted by the Cyberspace Administration it didn’t elaborate on what the government checks would entail, but it has been speculated that it is likely to consist of security checks targeting encryption and data storage.

Over the last number of years, a number of US and other foreign tech firms were subject to a series of secretive Chinese security reviews. The reviews involved employees of tech companies being asked to disclose specific information about certain products in person. This naturally set alarms bells ringing off among many US tech companies – and now the latest news regarding the proposed cybersecurity reviews being formalized by China has increased fears.

US companies fear that once subject to secretive reviews, Chinese authorities may use the checks to extract trade secrets, or find weaknesses in the products for state hackers. The reviews are run by a committee of engineers and experts with ties to China’s military and security agencies. It’s a further indication of China’s efforts to enhance the already unprecedented internet controls it has in place in the country.

China broadened their efforts to streamline cybersecurity management in the country – and seem intent on continuing this trend with the latest review. Only last month, it passed a new cybersecurity law which drew criticism from human rights groups and foreign companies. However, authorities seem undeterred by the scrutiny its policies in relation to cybersecurity have come under.

Beijing has struggled to balance its goal of fostering innovation with its desire to keep control over a communication medium it believes could be destabilizing. While it includes boilerplate references to opening up, the report makes clear that the government will continue to err on the side of control for now.

In a section subtitled “Peace,” the report said that Beijing would work to get ahead of a global cybersecurity arms race threatening international peace. In another part, the regulator said that China would use military means if necessary to protect its internet sovereignty. China has said in the past that the internet represents a new realm, akin to space, in which it must assert its rulership rights.

The new report is the clearest signal yet of the government’s intent to crystallize those checks into a formal policy.

Still, if China were to be more public about the checks, it could lead to copycat policies from other countries, analysts have said.

Drafts of proposed Chinese laws are typically released to domestic and foreign companies for comment. In this case, the reviews were carried out without formal legislative process, meaning that companies had little room to push back.

Published in Government
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