Weekly Tech News: Facebook, ATT and the Pope!

technologyWelcome back to another week of Weekly Tech News, with ATT, Facebook having issues and the Pope’s affect on data!

AT&T Tests Fixed Wireless Local Loop Services – AT&T said it is currently testing fixed wireless local loop (WLL) technology in select areas of the country with local residents who want to try the service, including in Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia, and is seeing speeds of around 15 to 25 Mbps. The carrier said the operation is part of its work with the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund, where it said it will provide connectivity to over 1 million locations with speeds of at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. AT&T also said that its fixed WLL network will serve largely rural areas with fewer than 250 people per square mile and that around 85 percent of customer locations will be outside its wireline footprint.

AmazonAmazon to Stop Selling Google Chromecast, Apple TV – Amazon on Thursday said it would bar the sale of Google’s Chromecast and Apple’s Apple TV streaming devices by month’s end. Amazon made the announcement in an email Thursday to some sellers to its online marketplace. In the email, Amazon said it won’t allow any new listings of the devices and will pull unsold ones by October 29. The retailer sells a competing streaming device, the Fire TV, but will continue to offer some other streaming devices such as Roku. Amazon said the removal of the Google and Apple devices was to prevent “customer confusion” since they don’t allow for streaming of Amazon’s video content, which is tied to its Prime membership.

attSchnurman: AT&T Bets Big on TV Everywhere – With video making up the majority of AT&T’s 120 million subscriber wireless network, the company’s growth strategy remains steadfast: TV everywhere. Armed with its DIRECTV acquisition, the volume of video on the company’s network more than doubled last year. It expects the number of households with video to grow by 12 million by the end of the decade. While some observers project that pay TV subscribers will continue to decline, AT&T is betting that growth from viewers accessing content through smartphones, tablets and other devices that use wireless and Wi-Fi connections will rise and more than offset that decline.

sophie-cruz-pope-575x402Pope Francis Visit Causes Surge in Network Usage – The pope’s visit to the U.S. last week elevated mobile network usage way beyond normal levels and burned through many terabytes of data. AT&T said that during the pope’s visit to Philadelphia, total data usage on its mobile network was 12.6TB. This is equivalent to 36 million individual social media posts with photos. AT&T network usage in Philadelphia during the visit was about 7.5 times above that experienced at the Phoenix stadium during this year’s Super Bowl. To handle the load, AT&T deployed two Cells-On-Wheels (COWs), two temporary high-powered rooftop antennas and an outdoor distributed antenna system (oDAS). The carrier also upgraded nearly 200 cell sites in the area in anticipation of the visit.

FacebookFacebook’s Internet.org Provokes Backlash in Developing Countries – Facebook has encountered unexpected criticism of its initiative to bring free Internet access to the world’s population. Many users said the Facebook-led partnership, Internet.org, is providing truncated access to websites and thwarting the U.S. principles of net neutrality. This puts Facebook in an awkward position. The company is a member of the U.S. industry group Internet Association, which advocates for net neutrality, among other issues. In markets like Indonesia and India, critics say Facebook is more interested in controlling which websites users can tap into than in ensuring free Internet access.

Sources: Light Reading; Philly.com; Wireless Week.Wall Street Journal. Boy Genius Report; FierceWireless.  Ars Technica; Boy Genius Report; CNET; Engadget; Gizmodo; SlashGear; TechCrunch; Wall Street Journal; USA Today.Dallas Morning News (Op-Ed).

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