On Tuesday, Verizon Communications agreed to pay $93.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. Verizon was accused of overcharging the U.S. government for both voice and data services. Reuters reports that the the company’s MCI Communications Services unit “invoiced the General Services Administration for various taxes and surcharges in violation of contracts or regulations.” Back in October of 2010, Verizon was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to repay customers more than $52 million for erroneous data charges. More →
The New York State Attorney General’s office on Tuesday announced that it plans to conduct a thorough review of AT&T’s proposed T-Mobile USA acquisition. The $39 billion deal would reposition AT&T as the nation’s top wireless carrier, though the merger is already being met with substantial opposition. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman may soon be the latest on the list of those opposed to the deal, for fear that the union may drive up wireless service costs for New York residents. “Cell phones are no longer a luxury for a few among us, but a basic necessity. The last thing New Yorkers need during these difficult economic times is to see cell phone prices rise,” said Schneiderman in a statement. “Affordable wireless service and technology, including smart phones and next generation handheld devices, are the bridge to the digital broadband future. We want to ensure all New Yorkers benefit from these important innovations that improve lives.” Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
International Business Machines (IBM) has agreed to a settlement in a bribery case filed by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC alleges that IBM, through its overseas subsidiaries, bribed Chinese and South Korean government officials with gifts, trips, and cash payments in exchange for government contracts from 1998 to 2009. According to the SEC’s filing, IBM used “local business partners and travel agencies as conduits for bribes or other improper payments to South Korean and Chinese government officials over long periods of time.” The government agency also notes that IBM tried to hide its wrongdoings by recording the transactions as legitimate business expenses. The terms of the settlement, which would see IBM paying out $10 million, is still awaiting court approval. More →
Robert Crow, a VP for Research In Motion, recently told The Wall Street Journal that India’s security agencies are making “rather astonishing” demands for access to RIM’s secure messaging and email networks. India and RIM have been up in arms since October 2010 when India gave RIM until January 2011 to comply with India’s intelligence laws. RIM fired back in January saying that there was no possibility to provide access to its secure email services, but has allowed Indian authorities “lawful” access its BlackBerry Messenger service. “I think this may well go on and on in India, and frankly it will be one of those factors that people talk about in the Indian business environment—not one that will be seen in India’s favor in international comparison,” Crow said. Crow also discussed RIM’s plans to expand its footprint in India, where 11,000 developers work on BlackBerry apps, and added that there’s a possibility that RIM may begin to manufacture BlackBerry parts in India. More →
Looking to assuage the previously expressed concerns of some lawmakers, Chinese telecom juggernaut Huawei is asking for a formal U.S. government investigation into its businesses. Huawei is looking to sell its equipment to United States companies, but has been met by heavy political headwinds. Our company is asking for this investigation “in an effort to reach a clear and accurate conclusion,” writes Huawei.
“Efforts to do business in the United States in the past 10 years had been hurt by misperceptions,” reports Reuters. This includes “unproven claims of ‘close connections with the Chinese military.'”
Huawei made the request this week via an open letter on its website. The coalition of lawmakers who have opposed the company’s entrance into the U.S. market place have yet to issue a statement. More →
The Federal Communications Commission put in place a limited set of net neutrality rules today, and early reports suggest people are not overly pleased. The “Open Internet” order was approved 3-2 in a vote that took place on Tuesday, with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and two more Democrats voting in support of the new rules. While the full details of the order are not yet available, the intended purpose of these rules is theoretically to ensure consumers are protected while not imposing too much control over ISPs and content providers. Preliminary reports suggest the rules are more stringent for wired Internet service providers, with wireless ISPs granted more space to work the system. More →
French digital journalism monitor OWNI published an interview Monday with former right-hand man to Julian Assange, Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Domscheit-Berg shot from anonymity to the spotlight recently when he announced that he was leaving WikiLeaks and launching a new project called OpenLeaks. “In these last months, the organization has not been open any more, it lost its open-source promise,” Domscheit-Berg said of WikiLeaks. He did not elaborate, but OpenLeaks will apparently be focused on achieving WikiLeaks’ initial vision as Domscheit-Berg saw it. The OpenLeaks website is now live (www.openleaks.org), though no content has been published at this point. It will initially be a vehicle for short essays that will serve as a test for the site “without pressure.” This will be the case through early 2011, and then the site will turn to “bigger media.” OpenLeaks is currently a 10-man operation but those numbers will likely rise with haste; Domscheit-Berg said the team is “drowning in applications” from people who want to join the crusade. More →
Today, Research In Motion announced that the cryptographic kernel of its BlackBerry 6 mobile operating system has earned the FIPS 140-2 security certification. FIPS, or Federal Information Processing Standard, is a classification used by the U.S. — and others — to validate the security of a computer system’s cryptographic services. The certification officially green-lights the OS for use by government employees handing “sensitive but unclassified” information. Just another security feather for RIM’s proverbial cap.
Research In Motion has been getting a lot of stick recently for not providing government agencies controlled access to their encrypted servers. In August, the United Arab Emirates threatened to pull the plug on BlackBerry services before the two parties reached an agreement. In October, India chimed in on the situation giving the Waterloo based firm an ultimatum: meet compliance standards by January 31, 2011 or get shut down. BlackBerry users in India will be happy/unhappy to know that RIM and the Government of India have reached an interim arrangement wherein RIM will allow for the “lawful interception of BBM services.” RIM still has until January 31, 2011 to come up with a final solution to put this whole thing to bed. In the mean time, it’s business as usual. More →
Canadian handset manufacturer Research In Motion, fresh-off a recent victory(?) in the UAE, has been given a hard deadline by the nation of India to comply with the country’s intelligence laws. According to minutes for a recent meeting between RIM and the Indian government:
RIM would be asked to adhere to the timeline of January 2011 to give the final solution wherein lawful access for BlackBerry messenger will not involve the overseas data path. Intelligence Bureau (IB) and National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), which had attended the discussions, found that the solutions offered by RIM (for BlackBerry messenger) are prime-facie agreeable. The timelines of January 2011 were also agreeable.
Presumably — as they did in the UAE — RIM will setup BlackBerry infrastructure within India’s borders in order to assuage concerns about international intelligence sovereignty. Previously, RIM called banning BlackBerry use in India “futile,” but it looks as though the handset manufacturer will agree to the governments prerequisites in order to continue operating in the second most populous country; population: 1.18 billion. More →
While Macs are ever-popular with students and consumers, enterprises have traditionally been more of an uphill battle for a number of reasons; and government sales pretty much don’t exist. Needham & Co.’s Charlie Wolfe, in a note to clients, broke down the latest market share numbers by category. According to IDC’s latest report for Q2, Mac sales grew 35% compared to the standard market growth rate of 20.9%. Wolfe notes that Mac shipments in government, however, grew an astonishing 200%; sixteen times more than market growth of 12.1%. Enterprise growth was also successful at a 49.8% increase which is over three times higher than the market’s 15.7%. Additionally, Wolfe indicates Apple’s European home market share doubled between Q1 and Q2 thanks to in large part to the iPhone. More →
We’ve been alerted that a Research In Motion VP has sent out a letter to top business customers and government officials inviting them to join in a conference call bridge at 10:00 AM this morning. RIM is hosting this call to, “provide an update on media reports discussing RIM and governments who wish to monitor Blackberry services or have special access to our services.” It sounds like the folks up in Waterloo are either going to pull damage control or come out swinging their security sword. With Saudi Arabia, China, India, UAE, and most definitely more countries pushing for access to RIM’s data, what do you think RIM is going to do? Can they keep their system closed and still expect to operate in these countries?
In a press release dated July 20th, the FCC announced that between 14 and 24 million Americans are still without access to broadband internet, and that the “immediate prospects for deployment to them are bleak.” The report also goes on to define “broadband” as a connection that provides a 4 Mbps downlink and 1 Mbps uplink. Prior to the report, broadband was defined as providing a 768 Kbps downlink connection. The report goes on: “In an era when broadband has become essential for U.S. jobs, economic growth, global competitiveness, and democratic engagement, millions of Americans live in areas without broadband. Many of these Americans are poor or live in rural areas that will remain unserved without reform of the universal service program and other changes to U.S. broadband policy that spur investment in broadband networks by lowering the cost of deployment.” What do you think? Is 4 Mbps an acceptable speed? Should the government push telecoms to provide broadband access to more rural areas?
Thanks, Henry! More →