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Cellphones

Ask Slashdot: Best Data Provider When Traveling In the US? 142

An anonymous reader writes: I am visiting USA 3-4 times a year and I need a data service. I also need to keep my cell phone number, so swapping the SIM card in my phone is not an option. I have bought those 19.95$ phones in Best-Buy to get a local number, but those were voice only. So I have been thinking about getting a MiFi hotspot.

I have been looking at pre-paid plans from Verizon(only 700 LTE band for their pre-paid hotspot), AT&T, T-Mobile etc. perhaps to put in a MiFi hotspot or buy a hotspot from a provider, but have no idea which one to use, their reputation, real life coverage etc. It is clear that all data plans in the USA are really expensive, I get 100GB monthly traffic with my Scandinavian provider for the same price as 6-8 GB monthly in the US, which I guess could be a problem with our Apple phones as they do not recognize a metered WiFi hotspot. But that is another issue. I travel all over but most of the time outside the big cities -- and my experience from roaming with my own phone and the cheap local phone so far tells me that coverage fluctuates wildly depending on the operator.
Verizon

Verizon Retrofits Vintage Legacy Vehicles With Smart Features 87

An anonymous reader writes: Verizon have released an after-market system called Hum that can bring 'smart' features to 150 million existing cars of various vintages going as far back as 1999. The system consists of an on-board diagnostic (OBD) reader plugged into the vehicle's OBD port and a Bluetooth-enabled device clipped to the visor. It's the presence of the ODB port that limits the maximum age of the car to 1996. Hum comes with an app, and enables features such as automatic accident reporting, roadside assistance services and the tracking of stolen cars. The service will cost $14.99 per month via subscription.
Businesses

Sprint Drops Two-Year Contracts 112

An anonymous reader writes: Following the recent news that Verizon has ended smartphone subsidies, now Sprint has announced it is ending two-year contracts as well. This leaves AT&T as the last of the major carriers to offer such a plan. Most consumers will now have to get used to paying full price for their phones, though Sprint is also running a phone-leasing plan that lets people pay an additional $22/month for an 16GB iPhone, with yearly upgrades.
AT&T

AT&T Helped the NSA Spy On Internet Traffic 82

An anonymous reader writes: Newly disclosed NSA documents show that the agency gained access to billions of emails through a "highly collaborative" relationship with AT&T. The company provided access from 2003 to 2013, including technical assistance to carry out court orders permitting wiretapping. "The company installed surveillance equipment in at least 17 of its Internet hubs on American soil, far more than its similarly sized competitor, Verizon. And its engineers were the first to try out new surveillance technologies invented by the eavesdropping agency. One document reminds NSA officials to be polite when visiting AT&T facilities, noting, 'This is a partnership, not a contractual relationship.'" The new files don't indicate whether the partnership currently exists, but the government has been doing its best to keep corporate partnerships hidden. The article also notes that "In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after 'a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,' according to an internal agency newsletter."
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Phones Now Available Worldwide (On Some Networks) 45

An anonymous reader writes: When Canonical's phone-centric adaptation of Ubuntu first made it onto devices last year, it received a mostly "wait-and-see" reception. For anyone outside Europe, they didn't have much choice, since it was unavailable elsewhere. Now, BQ has opened sales of the Ubuntu phones worldwide. That said, the devices still have technological restrictions. "Both of these devices support GSM bands 850, 900, 1,800 and 1,900, as well as UMTS 900 and 2,100 — so you're not going to get any joy if you're on a CDMA network like Verizon."
Verizon

Verizon Ends Smartphone Subsidies 155

JoeyRox writes: Verizon has discontinued service plans that include subsidies for upgrading a smartphone. The new plans require customers to pay full price for their smartphones, either up front with a single one-time purchase, or by monthly payments. Unlike their previous subsidized plans, Verizon's new plans don't require a long-term commitment. Under the new plan, Verizon will charge flat fees for connected devices: $20 for smartphones and $10 for tablets. Subscribers will be able to pick from four data monthly packages to go with their devices: 1GB for $30, 3GB for $45, 6GB for $60, and 12GB for $80. The changes go into effect on August 13th. Existing subscribers will get to keep their current plans
Wireless Networking

Cell Service At US Airports Varies From 1st Class To Middle-seat Coach 40

alphadogg writes with this NetworkWorld story about the wide disparity in wireless coverage available at airports across the U.S.. Atlanta scores very high while Los Angeles International is less than mediocre. According to the story: You can download an episode of your favorite show in less than a minute and a half on Verizon Wireless at Atlanta's airport—or spend 13 hours doing the same over T-Mobile USA at Los Angeles International. The comparison of 45-minute HD video downloads illustrates the wide variation in cellular service at U.S. airports, which RootMetrics laid out in a report for the first half of 2015 that's being issued Thursday. Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson is the best place to go mobile and Verizon covers airports best overall, but just like security lines and de-icing delays, it all depends.
Verizon

How Verizon Is Hindering NYC's Internet Service 123

Cuillere writes: Verizon promised to make FiOS available to all New York City residents. The deadline passed a year ago, and many residents still don't have FiOS as an option, but Verizon claims to have done its part. "The agreement required Verizon to 'pass' homes with fiber (not actually connect them), but no one wrote down in the agreement what they thought 'pass' meant. (Verizon’s interpretation, predictably, is that it doesn’t have to get very close.)" The situation is a mess, and the city isn't having much luck fighting it in the courts. Susan Crawford offers a solution: set up wholesale fiber access for third party ISPs and absolve Verizon of customer service responsibility.
The Internet

Study: Major ISPs Slowing Traffic Across the US 181

An anonymous reader writes: A study based on test results from 300,000 internet users "found significant degradations on the networks of the five largest internet service providers" in the United States. This group includes Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and AT&T. "The study, supported by the technologists at Open Technology Institute's M-Lab, examines the comparative speeds of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which shoulder some of the data load for popular websites. ... In Atlanta, for example, Comcast provided hourly median download speeds over a CDN called GTT of 21.4 megabits per second at 7pm throughout the month of May. AT&T provided speeds over the same network of of a megabit per second." These findings arrive shortly after the FCC's new net neutrality rules took effect across the U.S.
Spam

Ask Slashdot: How Effective Is Your ISP's Spam Filter? 269

An anonymous reader writes with the question in the title: does your ISP do a decent job culling spam? The reason I'm asking is that my ISP is Verizon and the Verizon spam filter is next to useless. It only blocks 15% of spam while also blocking 5% of legitimate emails. I've tried calling Verizon support a couple of times and the experience is about as pleasant and productive as banging my head on a wall. At this point I think my best move is to change ISP, but before I go around changing my email address at probably dozens of web sites I'd like to be sure that a new ISP would actually be better.
The Internet

Remote Massachusetts Towns Welcome Broadband's Arrival 90

New submitter arnoldjm writes: This story from the Boston Globe tells of the effort to bring publicly funded fiber-optic data transmission capabilities to Western Massachusetts. The Globe Reports: "The network, financed with state and federal stimulus money, will extend broadband to 45 isolated towns where 40 percent of homes have no Internet access... Leverett [one of the towns involved] has contracted a private company to provide Internet service, which will cost subscribers $65 a month. That's about same as Comcast and Verizon FIOS customers pay in Greater Boston, but the speeds in Leverett are about 10 times faster."
NASA

NASA Building Air Traffic Control System For Drones 38

An anonymous reader writes: Last week, The Guardian got its hands on documents indicating NASA would be working with Verizon to monitor civilian and commercial drones around the U.S. using phone network towers. Now, NASA has confirmed its plans for a drone traffic control system, saying that it wants to help "define" this new generation of aviation. They are testing ways of communicating with drones in flight, both for providing helpful information to drones and collecting information about them. For example, the ATC system could send real-time weather updates to the drones, and inform them of no-fly zones. It could also monitor a drone's battery life and compare its flight path to surrounding terrain. NASA has gathered over 100 organizations to contribute to this project, and they're looking for more. "One of the biggest challenges to integrating UAS into the national airspace beyond line of sight is developing a system that enables the aircraft to see and be seen by other aircraft." This is where the involvement of Verizon and other telecoms is important. NASA is holding a convention next month to develop the idea further.
Android

LG Arbitrarily Denying Android Lollipop Update To the G2 In Canada? 131

Lirodon writes: Its funky rear-mounted buttons may have left critics divided, but the LG G2 is still a pretty capable Android device. While it has gotten an update to Android 5.0 "Lollipop" in some major markets (including the United States, of course), one major holdout is Canada. Reports are surfacing that LG's Canadian subsidiary has decided not to release the update for unknown reasons. But, what about custom ROMs? Well, they handled that too: they have refused to release Lollipop kernel source for the Canadian variant of the device. It is arbitrary actions like this that cause Android's fragmentation problems. A curious note, LG has not specifically made reference to the bugs other users have been having with the update.
America Online

Does Using an AOL Email Address Suggest You're a Tech Dinosaur? 461

Nerval's Lobster writes: Despite years of layoffs and tumbling net worth, AOL seemed to get a new lease on life this week when Verizon bought it for $4.4 billion. But even if AOL's still alive, using an AOL email address has long been seen as a way of signaling that you're stuck in the 1990s. A recent analysis of Dice data found that a mere 1.8 percent of those registering for the site used an AOL address, versus 55 percent for Gmail. For the past several years, Websites from Gizmodo to Lifehacker have all declared that still using an AOL email address is counterproductive, to put it mildly. But is that actually true? Do the people in your life and work actually care whether you use AOL, Hotmail, Gmail, or a custom address, or is the idea of 'email bias' an overblown myth?
Verizon

Verizon, Sprint Agree To Pay Combined $158 Million Over Cramming Charges 66

mpicpp sends news that Verizon has agreed to pay $90 million (PDF), and Sprint another $68 million (PDF), to settle claims that they placed unauthorized charges on their customers's bills. The process, known as "cramming," has already cost T-Mobile and AT&T settlements in the tens of millions as well. Most of the settlement money will go towards setting up refund programs, but Verizon and Sprint will be able to keep 30% and 35% of the fees they collected, respectively. In response to the news, both companies issued vague statements about "putting customers first." They are now banned from charging for premium text message services and must set up systems to ensure informed consent for third-party charges.
America Online

Closing This Summer: Verizon To Scoop Up AOL For $4.4 Billion 153

MojoKid writes with this excerpt from Hot Hardware: We learned this weekend that AOL's dial-up business still has over 2 million customers who pay on average just under $21 per month for service. Regardless of how strange that seems to those of us that salivate over the prospects of gigabit Internet, folks are still clinging to 56k modems are adding millions to AOL's bottom line. However, also recall that AOL has a massive digital advertising platform with a heavy focus on the mobile sector and also owns a wealth of popular web destinations including Engadget, TechCrunch, and The Huffington Post. With this in mind, it shouldn't be too surprising that Verizon has offered AOL a marriage proposal. Verizon is acquiring AOL for an estimated $50 per share, which brings the total value of the transaction to $4.4 billion. Here are stories from The New York Times, NBC News, and NPR on the proposed sale, which it's worth noting isn't yet final, and is subject to regulatory approval.
Windows

Single Verizon IP Address Used For Hundreds of Windows 7 Activations 323

An anonymous reader writes with this story from TorrentFreak: A presumed pirate with an unusually large appetite for activating Windows 7 has incurred the wrath of Microsoft. In a lawsuit filed [in] a Washington court, Microsoft said that it logged hundreds of suspicious product activations from a single Verizon IP address and is now seeking damages. ... Who he, she or they are behind address 74.111.202.30 is unknown at this point, but according to Microsoft they're responsible for some serious Windows pirating. "As part of its cyberforensic methods, Microsoft analyzes product key activation data voluntarily provided by users when they activate Microsoft software, including the IP address from which a given product key is activated," the lawsuit reads. The company says that its forensic tools allow the company to analyze billions of activations of software and identify patterns "that make it more likely than not" that an IP address associated with activations is one through which pirated software is being activated.
Verizon

Verizon Tells Customer He Needs 75Mbps For Smoother Netflix Video 170

An anonymous reader writes: Verizon recently told a customer that upgrading his 50Mbps service to 75Mbps would result in smoother streaming of Netflix video. Of course, that's not true — Netflix streams at a rate of about 3.5 Mbps on average for Verizon's fiber service, so there's more than enough headroom either way. But this customer was an analyst for the online video industry, so he did some testing and snapped some screenshots for evidence. He fired up 10 concurrent streams of a Game of Thrones episode and found only 29Mbps of connection being used. This guy was savvy enough to see through Verizon's BS, but I'm sure there are millions of customers who wouldn't bat an eye at the statements they were making. The analyst "believes that the sales pitch he received is not just an isolated incident, since he got the same pitch from three sales reps over the phone and one online."
Television

ESPN Sues Verizon To Stop New Sports-Free TV Bundles 329

Mr D from 63 writes: ESPN isn't a fan of Verizon's new way of offering cable channels under its Fios TV service — they're now suing Verizon for it. The lawsuit comes after Verizon unveiled new bundles that allow customers to choose specific packages of channels that can be swapped every 30 days. ESPN claims this offer is not in compliance with their agreements with Verizon. In the U.S., ESPN depends heavily on viewership during the football season, then basketball. "ESPN is at the forefront of embracing innovative ways to deliver high-quality content and value to consumers on multiple platforms, but that must be done in compliance with our agreements," said an ESPN spokeswoman in a statement. "We simply ask that Verizon abide by the terms of our contracts."