Verizon Puts an End to Supercookies — Which isn’t as Sad or Delicious as You Think

Nope, supercookies are not the latest mall food court franchise to be invading a shopping space near you (how awesome would that be?), nor are they Cookie Monster’s nemeses from a planet of baked goods (though, again, awesome if it were true).

Supercookies are of the digital type that’s gained notoriety in the last decade and a half. You know, those little digital crumbs that track where you browse, so those ads for erectile dysfunction medication are tailored especially for you.

In this case, it’s a a cookie that tracks all mobile browsing on a mobile device and that, reportedly, could also report the location of a device without the need of cell towers and that could easily provide information about the user and their internet habits to marketers as well as federal agencies with three letter acronyms. Accessing the internet on smartphones and tablets is to millennials what bee’s knees are to your grandparents and the data supercookies collect are of interest anyone who engages in commerce or surveillance.

AT&T used to enable supercookies on its network, but as of November 2014, the company stopped the practice. However, Verizon wireless continued the practice until, reportedly, today. The company will allow its customers to opt-out of the program, though most probably didn’t know they were opted-in to begin with.

Sprint and T-Mobile didn’t use the technology. While the nation’s two largest cellular carriers now offer an opt-out, you wouldn’t need a tinfoil hat to to deduce that they’ve probably moved on to another, as-of-yet unnamed tracking scheme that security experts haven’t sniffed out yet.

Via the New York Times. Photo by Esti Alvarez (esti-)/flickr.

Amazon to Offer More than Goods with Amazon Local Services, Launches on Monday

If you buy a brand new LCD TV from Amazon, the company might also be able to find someone to mount that on your wall, or a carpenter to help build some shelves for that AV gear or an interpretive dance instructor, just because.

That’s what the company hopes will happen with Amazon Local Services, which will compete against Craigslist, Angieslist and other online classified marketplaces and review sites.

Originally known as Amazon Home Services, TechCrunch is reporting Amazon Local Services will go live on Monday, with an expanded offering of service categories and cities. Though services through Amazon have only been available in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York and offered in conjunction with a purchase, Amazon Local Services’ listings will include “plumbers, auto mechanics, and yoga instructors” in more than 25 cities.

Amazon participating and partnering with service providers in the on-demand economy isn’t the same as the drastic pivot into physical stores that Scott Galloway advocated. However, when viewed with Amazon Fresh, its online art store and sellers program, it is an interesting development and a possible hint as to where the company is headed.

Via TechCrunch. Photo from Lars Plougmann/flickr.

Google Fiber Expands to Salt Lake City, Rest of Country Still Jealous

Google Fiber, which offers 1Gbps up and down for less than dinner at a good restaurant for two, announced Salt Lake City, Utah as one of the areas it will service.

Currently, Google Fiber is available in Provo, also in Utah, as well as Austin, Texas and Kansas City, Kansas/Missouri. Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee are also slated for Google Fiber.

The collective residents of these areas have been reportedly sticking their tongues out at New York City and Los Angeles.

Via Ars Technica. Photo by Rodney T (rodney1114)/flickr.

AT&T, Verizon and Texas ISP Fire First Legal Shots Against Net Neutrality

To no one’s surprise, the FCC’s net neutrality rules are coming under legal fire by the telecom industry.

A pair of lawsuits, filed by USTelecom — a broadband “association” led by Verizon and AT&T (again, like the Radiohead song, no surprises) — and Texas-based Alamo Broadband, are contesting the agency’s rules which have not yet been implemented, but USTelecom and Alamo Broadband filed their petitions, just to sure.

The net neutrality ruling was published in the FCC’s website on March 12, but have not been published in the Federal Register. Normally, the ruling would take effect 60 days after publication in the register, but any lawsuits need to be filed within 10 days of the rulings going into effect. For this reason, the language used in the court filings are vague to ensure they are in effect when the ruling is enforced.

The FCC told Ars Technica, “We believe that the petitions for review filed today are premature and subject to dismissal.”

The website also speculated other telecom and wireless industry groups will engage in their own lawsuits against the FCC.

Via Ars Technica. Photo by Free Press/flickr.

Rumor: Apple TV Will be Updated in the Summer

With a headlining announcement about HBO Now’s streaming service and speculation about cable and TV networks making themselves available on Apple TV, reports are surfacing that the platform will see a hardware refresh in a few months during the company’s Worldwide Developer Conference.

The device, which saw a price cut from $99 to $69 (usually an indicator that something new is on the immediate horizon), will reportedly see Siri integration and an App Store. Other improvements, according to BuzzFeed, will be an A8 processor and expanded storage beyond the 8GB that’s currently in the Apple TV. It may also include HomeKit automation for “smart home” functionality.

Via DaringFireball, Buzzfeed; MacRumors. Photo by _zand/flickr.

Comcast Testing Gigabit Connections with Employees, Rollout Expected in 2016

The nation’s largest cable provider and ISP, Comcast, announced its employees are testing gigabit internet connections.

The company expects availability of gigabit service in 2016, as well as a wider rollout of DOCSIS 3.1 (Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification) across its infrastructure, which is required to support the speeds. However, the speeds will only be found in select areas. It won’t be cheap, either — Comcast’s fastest internet service package is currently 505Mbps/100Mbps at $400 a month.

Comcast has also faces criticism from internet users for usage caps and is threatening to file lawsuits in an attempt to scuttle net neutrality. Its also in the process of attempting to merge with No. 2 cable and internet provider Time Warner Cable, though the FCC’s delayed the merger.

Offering gigabit internet is an attempt to meet increased competition from ISPs that utilize fiber optic connection. In contrast to Comcast’s prices, Google Fiber offers 1Gbps for both download and upload speeds for $70 a month. However, its availability is limited to seven cities.

Ars Technica via Light Reading. Photo by Mr.TinDC/flickr.

WSJ Says Apple Will Offer 25 Channels; The Loop Says, ‘(Probably) Nope’

Hot on the heels of news about HBONow, The Wall Street Journal is reporting other content providers are jumping on board.

The Journal reports that Apple will be offering a bundle of about 25 channels, including major networks “such as ABC, CBS and Fox”. The service will be available through the company’s iOS devices, including Apple TV. NBC, USA and Bravo, owned by NBCUniversal, are not expected to be part of this package, because of rumored tensions between Apple and NBCUniversal’s owner and cable TV provider Comcast.

However, Apple site The Loop (known for webmaster Jim Dalrymple’s laconic and accurate “yep” and “nope” responses to rumors about the company and its products) questions the past accuracy of Daisuke Wakabayashi, one of the authors of the piece. Wakabayashi and The Wall Street Journal have been called on by writers who follow Apple in the past for reporting analyst speculation as fact.

Apple offering bundled TV service would be curious. The Apple TV, which would be the logical flagship device to lead the company’s charge onto HDTVs in the living room, hasn’t been updated in close to three years and its price dropped from $99 to $69 during last week’s Apple Watch/MacBook announcement. Apple TV also faces increasing competition from Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick as well as Roku’s lineup of IPTV boxes.

The Loop, via The Wall Street Journal. Photo by bfishadow/flickr.