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Telecom News & Information

Saturday, July 15 2006

Secret court may end up hearing AT&T illegal surveillance lawsuit

A lawsuit in San Francisco federal court accusing AT&T of illegally collaborating with the Bush administration's electronic surveillance of U.S. citizens would be transferred to a secret court accessible only to the government under new legislation backed by the White House. Full Story

Monday, July 03 2006

FCC Declares all prepaid calling cards subject to traditional telephony regulations

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that issuers of prepaid calling cards must pay connection fees and help subsidize phone service in rural areas. Full Story

Thursday, June 29 2006

Net neutrality amendment dies

In a dramatic tie vote Wednesday, a U.S. Senate committee rejected an amendment that would have preserved the status quo of equal pricing for all Internet traffic, an issue known as network neutrality. Although the net neutrality amendment did not prevail in the committee, the issue could be revived. Full Story

Wednesday, June 28 2006

Verizon Wireless to lower early termination fees

Targeting a top gripe by cell phone users and breaking ranks again with its industry, Verizon Wireless plans to prorate the fee it charges subscribers who break a contract so they only pay an amount proportional to the time left on their agreements. Full Story

Thursday, June 08 2006

Judge to hold private review of AT&T case

The judge in a lawsuit that accuses AT&T of turning over millions of customer records to the federal government for illegal surveillance says he must examine government evidence about the spying program in secret before deciding whether to dismiss the case. Full Story

Wednesday, June 07 2006

Google co-founder Sergey Brin goes to Congress

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin worked the halls of Congress Tuesday, asking members including Republican Sen. John McCain to block Internet access providers from charging Web sites more to deliver data faster to consumers. Brin's high-profile appearance in Washington comes as Congress considers a raft of legislation dealing with so-called network neutrality, a phrase that describes a system in which all Internet traffic is treated equally. Full Story

Tuesday, June 06 2006

Vonage investors sue, cite securities breach

Vonage Holdings Corp., the Internet phone company whose shares have fallen sharply since their debut, was accused in a class-action lawsuit of violating securities laws and improperly selling shares to customers. Full Story

Thursday, June 01 2006

Vonage's IPO buyers can't back out of deal

Ending speculation, Internet phone company Vonage Holdings Corp. said customers who agreed to buy into its initial public offering last week must follow through on their commitment to buy shares, even though they have fallen more than 29 percent in value. Full Story

Monday, May 29 2006

Broadband Internet becoming a part of daily life

More people than ever -- including minorities and lower- and middle-income households -- are hooking up to high-speed Internet access, the majority of them using DSL, a study released Sunday said. Full Story

Wednesday, May 24 2006

Vonage Holdings IPO rings up $531.3 million

David Menlow, president of, told Bloomberg News that while the IPO was a success, and the company had done a brilliant job of marketing, "There's nothing about Vonage that shouts 'unique' and they don't have the ability to curtail expansion by other vendors." Full Story

Tuesday, May 23 2006

Electronic Frontier Foundation accuses AT&T of violating users' digital privacy

In January, the [EFF] foundation filed what may be its biggest case: a lawsuit accusing AT&T of illegally turning over tens of millions of telephone and Internet records to the National Security Agency. The suit faces a crucial test June 23, when a federal judge in San Francisco will hear dismissal motions by AT&T and the Bush administration. Full Story

Friday, May 19 2006

Net neutrality debate attracts performers

A group of performing artists led by alternative musician Moby and Michael Stipe of REM has joined the grassroots effort to derail a House bill that would let telephone companies and other broadband carriers set up toll roads on the Internet. Thursday's Washington news conference by the Save the Internet coalition is the latest round in the so-called network neutrality debate that pits Internet companies and activist groups, led by Google and, against telephone companies and network equipment vendors such as AT&T and Cisco. "The Internet would become a private toll road auctioned off by companies like AT&T,'' said Save the Internet spokesman Timothy Karr. Full Story

Tuesday, May 16 2006

U.S. opens assault on AT&T wiretap suit

The Bush administration has launched a multipronged attack on a lawsuit that accuses AT&T of collaborating with the U.S. government in illegal electronic surveillance, arguing that customers can't prove their phones were tapped or that the company or the government broke the law -- and that, in any event, the entire case endangers national security. Those assertions in a move for dismissal were based on arguments and evidence that the government submitted to a federal judge under seal, keeping them secret from the public and from the privacy-rights group that filed the suit on behalf of AT&T customers. Full Story

Saturday, May 13 2006

Google, Nokia plan Wi-Fi phone service

Google's partnership with Nokia relates to an upgraded version of the Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, a handheld device that is slightly larger than a personal organizer. The Nokia device features a wide high-resolution screen and costs around $360. Users of Google's calling feature will be able to talk directly into the Nokia tablet or use a headset. Calls will be limited to individuals who also have Google Talk software on their Nokia devices or personal computers. Full Story

Friday, May 12 2006

U.S. phone-call database ignites privacy uproar. Bush doesn't deny widespread domestic spying

President Bush, reacting to a fresh furor over the disclosure that federal investigators have collected millions of domestic telephone records, said Thursday that authorities aren't "mining or trolling through the personal lives'' of ordinary Americans, but his comments failed to satisfy congressional critics from both parties who demanded answers about the program. The firestorm over privacy rights versus the tools used in the fight against international terrorism has renewed debate about the administration's domestic spying and is all but certain to lead to further hearings in Congress. Full Story

Wednesday, May 10 2006

NSA has massive database of Americans' phone calls

The National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans, using data provided by AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth, people with direct knowledge of the arrangement told USA TODAY. Full Story

Monday, May 01 2006

Visto challenges BlackBerry maker after patent win

Emboldened by a recent victory in a patent lawsuit, wireless e-mail software provider Visto said Monday it is suing Research in Motion, the maker of BlackBerry mobile devices, over similar claims. Full Story

Thursday, April 20 2006

Watchdogs take Yahoo to task over new arrest in China

Human rights groups have again accused Yahoo of helping Chinese officials jail a dissident, the third time the Internet company has been implicated in such a case. Full Story

Tuesday, April 18 2006

Instant wireless networks for emergencies

A Redwood City startup has developed new technology that will help police, fire departments and other first responders keep communication networks running after terrorist attacks or major disasters, like earthquakes or hurricanes. PacketHop, a spin-off of the Menlo Park research institute SRI, recently released the software and several trials are now running at police departments to test it. Full Story

Friday, April 14 2006

Phones find kids with GPS

Forget about Big Brother. What about Big Mother? Sprint [has] introduced a global positioning system service called Family Locator that allows parents to use a mobile phone to track their cell-phone toting children while out and about. Now, harried mothers and fathers can be on their way to work or on an assignment and still know that their child made it to school or soccer practice on time. Full Story

Monday, April 10 2006

Short of cash? Buy it with your cell phone

Mobile phone makers, cellular operators, financial institutions and other players are working on ways to make your phone a nimble payment device. The notion is that since the cell phone has evolved to become a device people can't leave home without, like a wallet or keys, why not put it to work as a "smart wallet" and take cash and credit cards to a new mobile realm. Full Story

Saturday, April 08 2006

Court filings may reveal role of AT&T in federal Net spying

A privacy rights group that is suing AT&T over its alleged role in secret government electronic surveillance says internal company documents support its claim that the telecommunications giant has illegally funneled millions of private Internet communications to the National Security Agency. Full Story

Wednesday, April 05 2006

Bill would profoundly change the Internet

The issue of so-called net neutrality, as in network neutrality, is at the heart of legislation that represents the most sweeping overhaul of telecom law since the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The question is whether network providers like AT&T and Verizon should have the ability to charge some Web sites fees for faster access speeds -- and whether such a two-tier system inherently discriminates against any site that doesn't pony up extra cash. Full Story

Wednesday, March 22 2006

FCC Chief Kevin Martin backs tiered internet

Martin told attendees at the TelecomNext show that telcos should be allowed to charge web sites whatever they want if those sites want adequate bandwidth. Full Story

Monday, March 13 2006

Cheap rates, versatility move internet telephone technology into fast lane

"There's no reason to think this acceleration we're seeing will slow down anytime soon," said Paul Brodsky, an analyst with TeleGeography. "If you look at the take-up rate of VoIP, it's astonishing." Full Story

Tuesday, March 07 2006

Consumer Groups Wary of AT&T BellSouth Deal

While the blockbuster deal between AT&T and BellSouth will bring immediate savings and opportunities for the combined companies, consumer advocates and analysts warned about its long-term impact on consumers. Full Story

Monday, February 20 2006

AOL to offer business instant messaging

Called AIM Pro, the business version will offer more security communications, for instance, will be encrypted and more features to help workers collaborate, using conferencing tools offered by WebEx, based in Santa Clara, Calif. AIM Pro users can communicate with those on the basic AIM, although not all features, including encryption, would be fully available. Full Story

Thursday, February 16 2006

Could Skype's Encrypted Calls Kill Wiretaps?

Skype calls whip around the Internet encrypted with "keys," which essentially are very long numbers. Skype keys are 256 bits long twice as long as the 128-bit keys used to send credit card numbers over the Internet. The security is much more than doubled in theory, Skype's 256-bit keys would take trillions of times longer to crack than 128-bit keys, which are themselves regarded as practically impossible to break by current means. Full Story

Tuesday, February 07 2006

Are Internet toll roads ahead? Is Internet as we know it at risk?

Should everyone's information travel over the Internet's digital highways at the same speed? Or should the firms that own those roadways be able to collect tolls from those willing to pay more to avoid traffic jams? Those questions will be at the core of testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee today, with consumer advocates arguing that Congress should protect the Internet's open traditions while network providers counter that they should be free to charge for speedier delivery of video and voice traffic. Full Story

Thursday, February 02 2006

Western Union sends its last telegram

In a final bit of irony, Western Union informed customers last week in a message on its Web site. "Effective January 27, 2006, Western Union will discontinue all Telegram and Commercial Messaging services," said the notice. "We regret any inconvenience this may cause you, and we thank you for your loyal patronage." Full Story

Wednesday, February 01 2006

AT&T calls for end to free internet

AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre has called for an end to the free Internet which he says is costing coms companies a fortune. Full Story

Thursday, January 26 2006

First Data to spin off Western Union

Western Union, a global money transfer business with roots predating the Civil War, will be spun off this year as parent First Data Corp. moves to focus on its struggling financial card-issuing and business financial services units. Full Story

Wednesday, January 25 2006

Google bows to China pressure

Bowing to Chinese laws, Google Inc. has agreed to censor search results about topics forbidden by the government there, eliciting scathing criticism from civil rights advocates. The popular search engine will block results that include such terms as "free Tibet," "democracy" and "Falun Gong" as part of a Chinese Web site the company is introducing today. Full Story

Saturday, January 21 2006

The Coming Tug of War Over the Internet

The nation's largest telephone companies have a new business plan, and if it comes to pass you may one day discover that Yahoo suddenly responds much faster to your inquiries, overriding your affinity for Google. Or that Amazon's Web site seems sluggish compared with eBay's. Full Story