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  1. Ericsson signs $8.5bn Verizon 5G deal Landmark deal will improve the coverage and speed of Verizon's 5G network Ericsson and Verizon are expanding their long-standing partnership with the announcement of a new landmark $8.5bn multi-year agreement in which the Swedish network equipment vendor will provide the US telecom with its 5G solutions. Through the deal, Verizon plans to accelerate the deployment of its 5G network throughout the US after first beginning its rollout of the next generation of mobile internet connectivity back in 2019. President and head of Ericsson North America Niklas Heuveldop provided further insight on both companies' strategic partnership in a press release, saying: “This is a significant strategic partnership for both companies and what we’re most excited about is bringing the benefits of 5G to U.S. consumers, enterprises and the public sector. We’re looking forward to working with Verizon to leverage solutions like Cloud RAN and our Street Macro, adding depth and versatility to 5G network rollouts across the U.S.” Landmark deal As part of the new $8.3bn agreement, Verizon will deploy Ericsson's 5G MIMO C-band, low-band and millimeter wave (mmWave) solutions to boost and expand its 5G Ultra Wideband coverage, network performance and user experience. Ericsson's technology solutions, which include Massive MIMO, Ericsson Spectrum Sharing and Ericsson Cloud RAN, complement its Ericsson Radio System portfolio to support 5G services. Verizon and Ericsson have worked together in the past and last year, Verizon was the first telecom to receive a commercial 5G mmWave Street Marco base station from Ericsson's US smart factory in Lewisville, Texas. Verizon customers will soon see a performance boost as well as better coverage when using a 5G smartphone on its network and we'll likely hear more regarding the deal once the telecom begins rolling out Ericsson's equipment. Ericsson signs $8.5bn Verizon 5G deal
  2. Why is Verizon Blocking Pirate Sites Such as NYAA and Mangadex? For more than a week, Verizon customers have been unable to access several popular pirate sites. The IP-addresses of sites such as NYAA and Mangadex are null-routed instead. While the blocks appear to be intentional, Verizon is keeping its motivation quiet. So why are these sites blocked and has it got anything to do with piracy? Could it be related to Russian CDN provider DDoSGuard, which the sites have in common? A week ago, complaints started pouring in that Verizon is actively blocking pirate sites. The issue was widely discussed on social media as well, where some suggested that pirate site blocking has officially arrived in the US. At first sight, it indeed seems this way. Popular sites such as NYAA and Mangadex are unreachable. The same applies to Kemono.party and many others. Users who try to access the sites get an error message in their browsers instead, noting that the domain names are unreachable. The big question is why these domains are being blocked. Not a Simple Error To find out more we reached out to Verizon through the official press channels last week, but without any response. That leaves us with no other option than to simply report what we know and what this could potentially mean. At this point, it’s clear that Verizon has known about the issue for over a week. Aside from reaching out ourselves, we heard from several Verizon subscribers who contacted the company. They were told that the issue was being investigated. This suggests that it’s more than a simple routing error or misconfiguration. That would have been fixed by now. There is more going on here, it seems. The Russian Connection The blocked sites we know of have things in common in that they’re all pirate sites. Some operate in the anime/manga niches, but others such as vojvodinanet.com are inaccessible too. In addition, all sites use the same CDN and DDoS protection service, DDoS-Guard. DDoS-Guard is a Russian CDN provider that’s considered a safe haven for pirate sites. A few months ago the company was reported to the US Government by Hollywood’s MPA, which said that DDoS-Guard is not responsive to takedown requests. In addition to pirate sites, scammers, spammers, and other types of abuse also take place through DDoS-Guard. We don’t know if this is more prevalent than on comparable services, but it’s an important element to keep in mind. Piracy Block or Collateral Damage? NYAA and Mangadex have similar but different DDoS-Guard IP-addresses. NYAA uses 185.178.208.182 and Mangadex resolves to 185.178.208.185. Both IP addresses are blocked by Verizon and all traffic is sent into a black hole. However, it is worth noting that other sites use these same addresses as well. This includes xn--bstchange-hib.com, which is a phishing site. Many other domains have their hosting accounts suspended, while ipts-money.site is linked to a dubious Ethereum and Bitcoin giveaway site. Looking through the list we see several abuse-related domain names linked to those IP-addresses. For example, znot-stresser.com sounds a lot like a DDoS tool. That domain is currently offline but the list of questionable names doesn’t instill much confidence. It is certainly possible that the NYAA and Mangadex IP-addresses are being blocked due to collateral damage because other sites of services are using those IPs for nefarious purposes. Large network providers regularly block malicious IP-addresses, so that wouldn’t be unusual. Not a Typical Pirate Site Block Verizon’s ‘looking glass‘ reveals that, in North America, the blocked IP-addresses are null routed to AS65512. This essentially means that all traffic goes into a black hole, which is a typical way to handle abuse. This is certainly not how other ISPs block pirate sites. That often happens through a relatively simply DNS blockade. And when that happens, users often see a message explaining why the site is blocked. In this case, users who try to access NYAA or Mangadex simply get an error message in their browser explaining that the domains are unreachable. Again, this applies to all sites that use these IP-addresses. History of (Un)intentional Pirate Site Blocking This isn’t the first time that pirate sites have found themselves mysteriously blocked. A few years ago, Cogent suddenly blocked several Cloudflare IP-addressed that were linked to The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites. Cogent’s blockade was eventually linked to a court order, which required the Internet backbone provider to block several IP-addresses. Many of the pirate sites subsequently went down as collateral damage. Comcast also has a history of unintentional blocking. Ten years ago the ISP’s users were unable to access The Pirate Bay. However, the company swiftly reached out to The Pirate Bay and resolved the issue within a few hours after it became public. Verizon Has the Answers To us, it seems unlikely that Verizon has unilaterally started blocking pirate sites – that all happen to use DDoS-Guard – without a court order. But it’s possible. Or perhaps there is a court order? Verizon is the only one with the answers here but, for now, the company is silent. Why is Verizon Blocking Pirate Sites Such as NYAA and Mangadex?
  3. Verizon sells Yahoo and AOL businesses to Apollo for $5 billion KEY POINTS Verizon will sell its media group, which includes brands from AOL and Yahoo, to private equity firm Apollo Global Management. The sale signals that Verizon will focus on its internet-provider businesses as rivals continue to explore media. Verizon will sell its media group to private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $5 billion, the companies announced Monday. The sale allows Verizon to offload properties from the former internet empires of AOL and Yahoo. Verizon will keep a 10% stake in the company and it will be rebranded to just Yahoo. The sale will see online media brands under the former Yahoo and AOL umbrellas like TechCrunch, Yahoo Finance and Engadget go to Apollo at much lower valuations than they commanded just a few years ago. Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion in 2015 and Yahoo two years later for $4.5 billion. Verizon will get $4.25 billion in cash from the sale along with its 10% stake in the company. Verizon and Apollo said they expect the transaction to close in the second half of 2021. There has been increasing evidence recently that Verizon wanted to sell off its media properties and instead focus on its wireless networks and other internet provider businesses. Last year, Verizon sold HuffPost to BuzzFeed. It also recently sold off or shut down other media properties like Tumblr and Yahoo Answers. Before that, Verizon’s original vision was to turn Yahoo and AOL properties into online media behemoths that could take on Google and Facebook’s dominance in online advertising. Under former AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, the Yahoo and AOL brands were converged into a new online media division within Verizon called Oath. But the Oath project largely failed to gain momentum, and Armstrong left the company in 2018. Oath rebranded again as Verizon Media Group in November 2018 and was run by Guru Gowrappan. Gowrappan will continue to lead Yahoo under Apollo. With the sale of Yahoo and AOL, Verizon signaled it is no longer interested in media, unlike its rivals. AT&T is still trying to grow WarnerMedia into a streaming competitor to Netflix and Disney, even as it struggles with loads of debt from its media acquisitions. Comcast, another internet provider, is still in the media business as well with NBCUniversal. Verizon Media’s sale to Apollo marks the latest turn in decades-long roller coaster ride for AOL and Yahoo, two of the most dominant forces in the early days of the consumer internet. After spinning out from Time Warner, AOL struggled under its CEO Armstrong, despite making bold bets on digital media properties like HuffPost and the network of local news sites called Patch. Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns CNBC. Source: Verizon sells Yahoo and AOL businesses to Apollo for $5 billion
  4. Verizon tries to sell Yahoo and AOL after spending $9 billion on fallen giants After spending $9 billion combined, Verizon may sell units for $4 billion or so. Enlarge / Yahoo logo at the 2014 International CES conference in Las Vegas. Verizon is reportedly ready to give up on Yahoo and AOL after spending a combined $9 billion on the once-dominant Internet brands that fell from prominence years before Verizon bought them. "Verizon is exploring a sale of assets including Yahoo and AOL, as the telecommunications giant looks to exit an expensive and unsuccessful bet on digital media," The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday. The sale process involves private-equity firm Apollo Global Management and "could lead to a deal worth $4 billion to $5 billion," the Journal wrote, citing "people familiar with the matter." We asked Verizon if it has a response to the WSJ report today, and a spokesperson told us the company has "nothing to add." The Journal report is a bit vague. The headline says that Verizon is exploring the sale of "parts of Yahoo and AOL," but the story itself does not contain that "parts of" qualification. The article also said that "[o]ther details couldn't be learned." Bloomberg's article on the potential sale said that Verizon is considering selling its entire media division, including Yahoo and AOL, and did not contain any qualification suggesting that only "parts of" the units would be sold. Verizon "is talking to Apollo Global Management about a deal, [people familiar with the matter] said. It couldn’t immediately be learned how a deal would be structured or if other suitors may emerge. No final decision has been made and Verizon could opt to keep the unit," Bloomberg wrote. Verizon purchased AOL in 2015 for $4.4 billion and bought Yahoo in 2017 for $4.5 billion, combining the two into a subsidiary called "Oath." Failure quickly followed Yahoo purchase Verizon's acquisition-fueled media division failed to compete effectively against Google and Facebook in the advertising market. Verizon realized its media plans weren't panning out by the end of 2018 when it said that Oath "experienced increased competitive and market pressures throughout 2018 that have resulted in lower-than-expected revenues and earnings." This led to a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of about $4.6 billion, wiping out nearly all of Oath's goodwill value. In January 2019, Verizon announced layoffs of 7 percent of the 11,385 employees in the media division, or about 800 employes. Verizon renamed Oath as "Verizon Media" that same month. Another 150 layoffs followed in December 2019 after another drop in revenue. "The [Verizon Media] business, which also includes Yahoo Finance and Yahoo Mail as well as news sites TechCrunch and Engadget, generated $7 billion of revenue in 2020, down 5.6 percent from the previous year due to a sharp advertising pullback during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic," the Journal report said. "Business picked up in the second half and the unit has logged two consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, including a boost of 10 percent, to $1.9 billion, in the first quarter." However, the media business "failed to reach its target of $10 billion in annual revenue by 2020," and "[b]y selling now, Verizon could raise needed cash at a time when valuations of similar assets are enjoying an upswing," the Journal wrote. Tumblr, which Yahoo bought for $1.1 billion in 2013, was sold by Verizon to WordPress.com owner Automattic in 2019. An Axios report at the time said that a "source familiar with the deal puts the price-tag 'well below' $20 million, while another source puts it below $10 million." Verizon agreed to sell HuffPost to BuzzFeed in November 2020 and subsequently informed investors of "a net loss of $119 million primarily related to the disposition of the HuffPost business." Verizon recently committed to spend $45.45 billion in the 3 GHz "C-Band" spectrum auction to improve its mobile network. Verizon told investors that its capital expenditures in 2021 will total between $19.5 billion and $21.5 billion, "including the further expansion of 5G mmWave in new and existing markets, the densification of the 4G LTE wireless network to manage future traffic demands and the continued deployment of the company's fiber infrastructure," and "deployment of the company's C-Band 5G network." Verizon's total operating revenue in Q1 2021 was $32.9 billion, up 4 percent year over year. Net income was $5.4 billion, up 25.4 percent year over year. Source: Verizon tries to sell Yahoo and AOL after spending $9 billion on fallen giants
  5. (Reuters) - Verizon Communications Inc beat estimates for third-quarter profit on Wednesday, helped by strong demand for its phone and internet services as offices and schools continued to operate virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The health crisis has brought global economies to a halt, but the telecom sector has been relatively less affected. With lockdowns easing, Verizon gradually reopened all of its company-operated retail stores in the quarter, implementing touch-less retail, appointments and curbside pickups. Verizon added 283,000 postpaid phone subscribers in the third quarter, above the average estimate of 268,000, according to research firm FactSet. Total operating revenue fell 4.1% to $31.54 billion, which the company attributed to lower customer activity and the timing of certain device launches. Apple Inc, one of Verizon’s key partners, has delayed the launch of its new iPhones by about a month this year. Revenue in Verizon’s media unit, which includes Yahoo, HuffPost and TechCrunch, declined 7.4% in the quarter to $1.7 billion from a year earlier as companies cut down on advertising to rein in expenses. Net income fell to $4.50 billion, or $1.05 per share in the quarter, from $5.34 billion, or $1.25 per share a year earlier, with about 5 cents of COVID-19-related net impact, Verizon said. Excluding items, Verizon earned $1.25 per share, above analysts’ average estimate of $1.22. The company also said it now expects full-year 2020 adjusted EPS growth of 0% to 2%. Its prior guidance range was -2% to 2%. Source
  6. Verizon has been leaking customers’ personal information for days (at least) A bug in a customer chat feature shows transcripts of other people's chats. Enlarge / A Verizon FiOS truck in Manhattan on September 15, 2017. Getty Images | Smith Collection | Gado 28 with 26 posters participating Verizon is struggling to fix a glitch that has been leaking customers’ addresses, phone numbers, account numbers, and other personal information through a chat system that helps prospective subscribers figure out if Fios services are available in their location. The personal details appear when people click on a link to chat with a Verizon representative. When the chat window opens, it contains transcripts of conversations that other customers, either prospective or current, have had. The transcripts include full names, addresses, phone numbers, account numbers (in the event they already have an account), and various other information. Some of the transcripts viewed by Ars date back to June. A separate Window included customers' addresses, although it wasn't clear who those addresses belonged to. “Hi—I’m looking to get the teacher discount for Fios,” one person wrote on November 29. Below are redacted screenshots of some of what has been available. First image of article image gallery. Please visit the source link to see all images. Ars learned of the leak on Monday afternoon and alerted Verizon representatives immediately. The plan was to report the leak only after it had been fixed. As this post went live, the leak was still occurring, although the number of exposed chats had lessened. Ars decided to report the leak to alert people who may use the service that this data is being exposed. It’s not clear when Verizon began leaking the data. With some of the chats dating back to June, it’s possible that the leak has been occurring for months. In a statement issued Thursday morning, Verizon said: We're looking into an issue involving our online chat system that assists individuals who are checking on the availability of Fios services. We believe a small number of users may have seen a name, phone number, and/or a home or building address from an unrelated individual who had previously used this chat system to enter that information. Since the issue was brought to our attention, we've identified and isolated the problem and are working to have it resolved as quickly as possible. It’s not the first time Verizon has spilled customer information. In 2016, a database of more than 1.5 million Verizon Enterprise Solutions customers was put up for sale on an online crime forum. Verizon said at the time that a “security flaw in its site [had] permitted hackers to steal customer contact information,” according to KrebsOnSecurity, which broke the news. Verizon was also one of four US cellphone carriers caught selling customers’ real-time locations to services that catered to law enforcement. One of the services made subscriber locations available to anyone who took the time to exploit an easily spotted bug in a free trial feature. For the time being, it makes sense to avoid using Verizon’s Fios availability chat feature. This post will be updated once Verizon says the glitch has been fully fixed. Verizon has been leaking customers’ personal information for days (at least) (To view the article's image gallery, please visit the above link)
  7. Verizon indefinitely delays 3G network shutdown Verizon has backtracked on its plan to turn off its 3G network by the end of 2020. In response to questions from Light Reading, Verizon spokesperson Kevin King said "our 3G network is operational and we don't have a plan to shut it down at this time. We'll work with customers to move them to newer technology." That's a decided change from Verizon's plans from roughly a year ago. In July 2019, Verizon spokesperson Howie Waterman confirmed to Light Reading that the operator had delayed the shuttering of its 3G network from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020. He said the action would give impacted customers "an extra year to decide what they want to do." Verizon's decision to keep its 3G network up and running means the service provider will continue to operate three separate wireless network technologies – 3G, 4G and 5G – for the foreseeable future. Verizon's latest position on 3G adds a new twist to a story that stretches across almost an entire decade. Verizon in 2012 – shortly after it launched 4G – that it would eventually discontinue 3G service. In 2016 the carrier put a firm date on that shutdown plan: Dec. 31, 2019. The carrier in July 2018 confirmed it stopped activating 3G phones. Verizon reiterated its 3G shutdown plans to Light Reading at the beginning of 2019 before announcing its delay. Now Verizon is apparently free to shutter the network whenever it wants to. Verizon's new 3G position likely reflects the operator's desire to retain its 3G customers. While Verizon has not disclosed the number of customers it counts on its 3G network, the figure could be significant. For example, AT&T discontinued service on its 2G network in 2017. According to AT&T's filings with the SEC around that time, it counted 4 million customers on its 2G network, though the majority were IoT devices. Verizon's flip-flop on 3G comes as AT&T plans to shutter its own 3G network in "early" 2022 in order to "help free up spectrum to better accommodate next generation technologies and services." T-Mobile has said it will shut down its 3G network "over the next several years" but "we haven't shared timing." Roughly a year ago, network-monitoring company Opensignal reported that 83.2% of 3G-only users in the US lack a 4G rate plan, 12.7% of 3G-only users spent time exclusively in areas where 4G does not reach, and just 4.1% of 3G-only users lack a 4G-capable smartphone. However, 3G network shutdowns represent a significant issue not only for smartphone users but also for companies that use the network for their IoT services. For example, auto giant Toyota has begun warning some customers that its "Safety Connect" services in North America, including collision notification and roadside assistance, will no longer work after Nov. 1, 2022, due to 3G network shutdowns. "This was a decision made by third-party wireless service providers," Toyota writes on its website, without naming the providers. "Although these circumstances were created by factors beyond our control, we sincerely regret any inconvenience this may cause." Source: Verizon indefinitely delays 3G network shutdown
  8. It was under ideal conditions, but Verizon finally puts real numbers to mobile 5G. Enlarge / The blazing fast conclusion of Verizon's speed test. David Weissmann It was a bit earlier than scheduled, but Verizon switched on parts of its 5G network today, debuting in "select areas" of Minneapolis and Chicago. Every carrier out there likes to slice and dice definitions to have the "First 5G" everything, but in terms of using a real, mmWave 5G signal and something approximating a 5G smartphone, Verizon has made the most progress yet in getting a 5G ecosystem up and running. 5G is still in its very early stages, with access in only a few cities and almost zero device support, so it has been hard to know what 5G will really be like in the real world. Verizon spokesperson David Weissmann shared on Twitter the best look yet at 5G, where he showed a real-life 5G speed test, running on a real smartphone, getting data from a real 5G tower. Specifically Weissmann was out in Minneapolis, pulled out his Verizon™ Moto Z3 phone with the Moto 5G Mod attached, and loaded up the Ookla Speedtest.net app. Behold his speed test: Weissmann's speed test ended with a blazing-fast 762Mbps down and a 19ms ping (the video does not show upload speeds). Unless you are rocking gigabit fibre Internet at home, this is probably much faster than your home Internet connection. Ookla's latest aggregate speed reports peg the average US mobile download speed at 27Mbps, while the average fixed broadband download in the United States is at 96Mbps. Qualcomm's current 5G modem has a theoretically max speed of 5Gbps, but of course nothing is going to hit the theoretical maximum. Carriers are happy to crow about 5G rollouts and upcoming devices, but it has been rare to see actual numbers attached to 5G. Weissmann's test is the closest we've come so far to seeing what real 5G performance is like, and today's press release from Verizon claims "early customers in Chicago and Minneapolis should expect typical download speeds of 450Mbps, with peak speeds of nearly 1Gbps, and latency less than 30 milliseconds." The latency here isn't great compared to the previous promises of 5G. Verizon's Home 5G Internet supposedly has 4-8ms latency, while for mobile Verizon is only promising around 30ms (and showing 19ms in the speed test). According to testing by OpenSignal, 4G LTE latency is usually around 54-64ms, so while this is a bit of an improvement, it's not quite as fast as we were expecting. Verizon’s ideal circumstances Now for the list of many caveats with this video and with 5G in general. Weissmann's test—which was probably pre-approved by Verizon—is being run under ideal circumstances. First, he is standing basically next to a 5G tower with a clear line of sight on a sunny day. Verizon's 5G equipment is actually visible in the frame of the video—it's all those boxes and antennas glommed onto the post lamp on the left. 5G's real problems come in range and penetration, so if you were indoors—or on the other side of a building, or if there was a tree in the way, or if you were farther away from the tower—performance would be significantly worse. 5G even has problems with the weather, so on a rainy or foggy day, performance will suffer. 5G is all about building a network in the slice of spectrum we haven't used for other radio signals yet, and the reason this spectrum is available is because the performance characteristics are very challenging. Second big caveat: there's a good chance Weissmann was the only person on Earth using Verizon's 5G network at the time of this speed test. His own tweet refers to the test as "historic," and we've got to guess the user base with 5G Verizon hardware active the very instant the 5G network went live was approaching "one person." With more people online, the network will be slower. Third big caveat: 5G hardware. 5G smartphones are going to be awful for the first year, as first-generation 5G modems and antennas take up a lot more space and power than our refined, well-worn 4G technology. That's going to impact phone design and battery life negatively. Weissmann's phone—the Moto Z3 with the 5G MotoMod—has a good chance of being the "Worst 5G Smartphone of all time." The 5G MotoMod takes an old smartphone, the Moto Z3, and adds 5G compatibility to it through Motorola's clip-on modular system. Thanks to the state of 5G hardware, though, the 5G MotoMod is almost an entire new smartphone that you're clipping onto the back of your old smartphone. The 5G MotoMod has an entire extra smartphone SoC inside of it, the Snapdragon 855. That's along with a 5G modem, its own 2000mAh battery (because 5G needs a lot of power), and a whole heap of 5G antennas. If you could run apps on it, the MotoMod would be way faster than the Snapdragon 835-powered Moto Z3. Still, for something in a smartphone form factor, the Moto Z3 with the 5G backpack is the best we can do right now. The first fully integrated 5G smartphone should be the 5G version of the Samsung Galaxy S10, which is due out this month in South Korea. Despite all the caveats, this feels like a big step in the wait for 5G. We just need way more coverage, more mature 5G hardware, and more 5G smartphones. Even then, the shaky performance characteristics of 5G make us wonder if any of this is actually worth it. In perfect conditions, it is pretty fast though! Source: Watch a Verizon 5G phone hit speeds faster than your home Internet (Ars Technica)
  9. It's not the social network it once was. The rumors of Verizon selling Tumblr turned out to have merit. Verizon (Engadget's parent company) is selling the social network to Automattic, the company behind the blogging tool WordPress. It's not disclosing the size of the deal, but Automattic is taking on 200 employees as part of the exchange. Automattic chief Matt Mullenweg told the Wall Street Journal that this is his company's largest acquisition both in terms of cost and sheer staff count. And in case you're wondering: no, Automattic won't reverse the ban on adult content. He saw Tumblr as a companion to WordPress and "just fun." It's a low-key end to a long, rough chapter in Tumblr's history. Yahoo bought the site in 2013 for a hefty $1.1 billion, but never really found a way to compete with the explosive growth of social networks like Instagram. Some features felt tacked on to seize on momentary trends. Yahoo would eventually write off about $230 million of the site's value in 2016, and things didn't improve when Verizon bought Yahoo. Its user base is still large with 475.1 million blogs, but it's not the force it was in its heyday. And yes, some of that decline came directly from the decision to ban porn and other racy material from the site. It's unclear how much the fallout from 'cleaning' Tumblr affected the decision to sell the site, but it clearly didn't help. Automattic faces the challenge of persuading users that Tumblr can uphold that decision while getting a second lease on life. Source
  10. Madison Square Garden is due 'soon.' You don't have to watch football if you want 5G coverage from Verizon (Engadget's parent company) while you're attending live sports. The carrier has switched on 5G coverage at three major basketball and hockey arenas, including San Francisco's Chase Center (home of the Golden State Warriors), Denver's Pepsi Center (Colorado Avalanche/Denver Nuggets) and Phoenix's Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix Suns). Madison Square Garden is also on deck, although 5G is only slated as "coming soon." The network plans to have 5G coverage in 10 arenas by the end of the 2019-2020 season. These building-by-building expansions are necessary in part due to the limited reach of current 5G tech. As we've discovered first-hand, Verizon's ultra-wideband 5G doesn't reach far indoors -- the company can't just place cell sites outside. If it's going to help you share the big game at gigabit speeds, indoor sites are the only options. Source
  11. Verizon Media, the division comprising brands like HuffPost, AOL, Yahoo, TechCrunch and Engadget, is set to lay off about 150 employees, the latest retrenchment by the telco’s still-declining digital-media group. Verizon confirmed the cuts, which were first reported by CNN. The job cuts represent around 1.4% of the 10,500 employees in Verizon Media, which the telco formed after acquiring Yahoo and AOL. Verizon Media did not provide details on which areas of the business will be affected by the layoffs. The pink-slips will hit U.S. teams across the organization, per CNN. In a statement, a Verizon Media rep said, “Our goal is to create the best experiences for our consumers and the best platforms for our customers. Today we are investing in premium content, connections and commerce experiences that connect people to their passions and continue to align our resources to opportunities where we feel we can differentiate ourselves and scale faster.” The cutbacks come after Verizon Media let go 7% of its employees in January, or around 800 staffers. Verizon Media revenue in the third quarter of 2019 was $1.8 billion, flat with the prior quarter and down 2% year over year. Revenue from mobile advertising is now outpacing desktop, which has been declining for years, according to the company. Going forward, Verizon Media is focused on augmenting its advertising revenue with subscription fees (via services like HuffPost Plus and TechCrunch’s Extra Crunch), and transactions and ecommerce, such as the launch of Yahoo Sportsbook to allow mobile sports betting (initially only for users in New Jersey), CEO Guru Gowrappan said at a media conference last month. Gowrappen, speaking the Code Media conference, also said Verizon is not selling HuffPost after reports that the telco was shopping the brand (possibly because it could not find a buyer). Verizon Media previously sold off other assets including Tumblr, Flickr and Moviefone. Source
  12. Verizon says the archivists it has blocked breached its terms of service. Verizon, which bought Yahoo In 2017, has suspended email addresses of archivists who are trying to preserve 20 years of content that will be deleted permanently in a few weeks. As Verizon announced in October, the company intends to wipe all content from Yahoo Groups. As of December 14, all previously posted content on the site will be permanently removed. The mass deletion includes files, polls, links, photos, folders, database, calendar, attachments, conversations, email updates, message digests, and message histories that was uploaded to Yahoo servers since pre-Google 1990s. Verizon planned to allow users to download their own data from the site's privacy dashboard, but apparently it has a problem with the work of The Archive Team who wants to save content to upload it to the non-profit Internet Archive, which runs the popular Wayback Machine site. "Yahoo banned all the email addresses that the Archive Team volunteers had been using to join Yahoo Groups in order to download data," reported the Yahoo Groups Archive Team. "Verizon has also made it impossible for the Archive Team to continue using semi-automated scripts to join Yahoo Groups – which means each group must be rejoined one by one, an impossible task (redo the work of the past four weeks over the next 10 days)." News of the apparently aggressive move from Verizon was first reported on boingboing.net. The Yahoo Groups Archive Team argues that it is facing a near total "80% loss of data" because Verizon is blocking the team members' email accounts. The Yahoo Groups site isn't widely used today but it was in the past. The size of the archive that the group is trying to save is substantial and the group had saved about 1.8 billion messages as of late 2018. According to the Archive Team: "As of 2019-10-16 the directory lists 5,619,351 groups. 2,752,112 of them have been discovered. 1,483,853 (54%) have public message archives with an estimated number of 2.1 billion messages (1,389 messages per group on average so far). 1.8 billion messages (86%) have been archived as of 2018-10-28." Verizon has issued a statement to the group supporting the Archive Team, telling concerned archivists that "the resources needed to maintain historical content from Yahoo Groups pages is cost-prohibitive, as they're largely unused". The telecoms giant also said the people booted from the service had violated its terms of service and suggested the number of users affected was small. "Regarding the 128 people who joined Yahoo Groups with the goal to archive them – are those people from Archiveteam.org? If so, their actions violated our Terms of Service. Because of this violation, we are unable reauthorize them," Verizon said. "Also, moderators of Groups can ban users if they violate their Groups' terms, so previously banned members will be unable to download content from that Group. If you can send the user information, we can investigate the cause of lack of access." Additionally, Verizon mentioned that the email functionality of the platform will still continue to work, at least for members who haven't been expelled. "While users will no longer be able to post or upload content to the site, the email functionality exists. If you are having issues with this feature, please reach out to [email protected] and we will work to fix the problem with any delay," the Verizon spokesperson wrote. ZDNet has contacted Verizon for comment and will update the story if it responds. Source
  13. Verizon offers no-tracking search engine, promises to protect your privacy With "OneSearch," Verizon promises no cookie tracking or personal profiling. Enlarge / Verizon's OneSearch, a privacy-focused search engine. Verizon Verizon today launched a new search engine, claiming that its "OneSearch" service will offer users more privacy than the standard options in a market dominated by Google. Verizon's actual search results are provided by Microsoft's Bing, but Verizon added several privacy-focused features—while retaining the ability to serve contextual ads. "To allow for a free search engine experience, OneSearch is an ad-supported platform," Verizon said in its announcement. "Ads will be contextual, based on factors like search keywords, not cookies or browsing history." Verizon already offered one well-known search engine, namely Yahoo's, as a result of buying Yahoo's operating business for $4.48 billion in 2017. Yahoo's search results are also provided by Bing, but they don't come with the same privacy promises. Verizon said OneSearch comes with these privacy-focused features: No cookie tracking, retargeting, or personal profiling No sharing of personal data with advertisers No storing of user search history Under the search bar is a toggle to turn on "Advanced Privacy Mode." This "encrypts your search terms and search URL, masking your search intent from third parties," Verizon says. The resulting "encrypted search results link will expire within an hour, adding another layer of privacy in the event that multiple people use the same device or if a search results link is shared with a friend," Verizon says. The Verizon search engine homepage says, "OneSearch doesn't use cookies. Period." Chrome detected that OneSearch did set one cookie on my computer, so that statement seems to be exaggerated. The EFF's Privacy Badger detected a potential tracker that's tied to the u.yimg.com domain, indicating a connection between OneSearch and Yahoo's image service. What Verizon apparently means is that it doesn't use cookies to build ad-targeting profiles. Verizon uses your IP address to determine your "general location," helping it deliver location-specific search results. Verizon said that "We only ever infer location data up to the city level of specificity for search localization purposes." Each contextual ad is based only "on each individual search that you perform," and it does not take into account "any of your previous search history or any other personal data that identifies you," Verizon says. Some anonymized information is shared with advertisers, the OneSearch privacy policy says: For example, if you search for "flower shops" we may display an advertisement/search result for one or more flower shops. We will sometimes provide your Search Query and/or your general location to advertising partners in order to provide you with advertisements/search results but the information they receive is never identifiable to you as we do not provide your IP Address to any advertising partners. Verizon’s failed media ventures OneSearch is delivered by Verizon Media, the division based largely on Verizon acquisitions Yahoo and AOL. Verizon Media has failed to compete effectively against Google and Facebook in the online advertising market, and it has suffered multiple rounds of layoffs. Verizon has pursued various media ventures outside its core telecom business, such as the Go90 video service that was unpopular and shut down after less than three years. While OneSearch is available on the Web today, Verizon said that mobile apps for Android and iOS will come later this month. Verizon said that OneSearch is initially available in North America and will be available in countries outside North America "soon." How OneSearch works The OneSearch privacy notice offers a breakdown of what happens after you enter a search query. The process involves Verizon, Microsoft's Bing, and other unnamed companies. Here's a summary of how it works: Your IP address, search query, and user agent are transferred over HTTPS to Verizon servers. The user agent generally includes data about the browser, operating system, and type of device and app you're using to make the search. Verizon derives your city-level location data from your IP address and then sends your IP address, user agent, search query, and location data to Microsoft's Bing "so that the actual search request can be made through their search engine." Bing provides the search results to Verizon, and then Verizon's automated process "works with our Search Partners to provide you with contextual advertisements and/or search results." Verizon describes the "search partners" vaguely as "certain companies providing search result optimization input" and says they "are not provided with your personal data." Verizon will store your IP address for four days "for the purpose of network traffic protection" and then permanently delete the IP address. Bing will continue to store the IP address, search query, and user agent, also for network traffic protection. After four days, Bing "obfuscates the IP address." Additionally, Verizon says it stores your IP address, search query, and user agent "in different servers in such a way that they are not able to be connected." Do you trust Verizon? Verizon is an unlikely candidate to launch a product whose entire pitch is based on privacy. In March 2016, Verizon agreed to pay a $1.35 million fine and give users more control over "supercookies" that were used to identify customers to deliver targeted ads. Verizon's use of the supercookies without properly notifying users violated a net neutrality rule that required Internet providers to disclose accurate information about network management practices to consumers, the Federal Communications Commission said at the time. Verizon was also one of several major carriers that sold its mobile customers' location information to third-party data brokers, but Verizon promised to stop the practice in 2018 after a security problem leaked the real-time location of US cell phone users. T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T apparently continued the sales longer than Verizon did. All four carriers were hit with class-action lawsuits accusing them of violating federal law by selling their customers' real-time location data to third parties. But a US District Court judge in Maryland granted the carriers' motions to compel arbitration, forcing customers to arbitrate the disputes outside of court. Despite Verizon's apparent devotion to privacy with OneSearch, the company has opposed government regulations that would force carriers to protect customer privacy. For example, Verizon opposed Obama-era FCC rules that would have required ISPs to obtain customers' opt-in consent before using, sharing, or selling Web-browsing history, arguing that "personalized advertising benefits consumers." That opt-in rule was blocked by the Republican-controlled Congress and President Trump before it took effect. If you're looking for a privacy-focused search engine, Verizon isn't your only option. DuckDuckGo provides a search engine and promises not to collect or share any of its users' personal information. There's also Startpage, which uses Google search results but removes trackers and logs in order to make search queries private. Source: Verizon offers no-tracking search engine, promises to protect your privacy (Ars Technica)
  14. Verizon’s new tracking tool tells advertisers when you’re looking at your email inbox The company calls it ‘View Time Optimization’l sharing options Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge Verizon quietly introduced a new email marketing feature yesterday that it ominously calls “View Time Optimization,” which is a fancy euphemism for a tracking tool that alerts advertisers to the moment you’re looking at your email inbox. Why? So they can send you an ad, of course. The service is part of Verizon’s suite of email and web advertising properties, which includes AOL and Yahoo, and well-known programmer David Heinemeier Hansson (the inventor of the Ruby on Rails web application framework) called out Verizon on Twitter today for what Hansson calls an “Orwellian” ad placement tool. (It should be noted Hansson is helping develop a privacy-focused email client called Hey through his company Basecamp, of which he is the co-founder and chief technology officer alongside chief exec Jason Fried.) View Time Optimization is a play on the popular email marketing tool Send Time Optimization. That tool is not exclusively used by Verizon but by Mailchimp and countless other email marketing firms as well. It uses existing data gathered about an email user through their interactions with tracking pixels and other invasive yet near-universally used ad tech to know the best time to target you with an ad, which comes in the form of a new email that shows right up at the top of your inbox. Send Time Optimization basically knows when you’re most likely to check your email, and it helps marketers time their ads appropriately. Verizon’s version of this, however, goes one step further and tracks people in their AOL or Yahoo email client to send the ad out “when users are actively engaging with their inbox.” If it shows up right then, apparently, the data shows someone is more likely to open the message. “It ensures emails appear close to the top of the inbox and thus it’s improving the sender’s open rates, click-through rates, and overall ROI of their email marketing campaign,” writes Verizon product director Marcel Becker. “Email senders who have used VTO with their email campaigns saw increases in opens by 4x and clicks by 2x.” Of course, Becker wouldn’t be a good marketer, or a model Verizon employee, if he didn’t spin this product as a benefit both to advertisers and consumers. This is where Hansson’s Orwellian descriptor is most apt. “We genuinely believe that our mutual customers deserve a unique experience which connects them to their passions,” Becker writes in the announcement. “We want to enable them to discover the things which matter to them. We want to enable them to get the most out of their inbox.” He goes to say that “we believe that tracking our customers is wrong,” and then follows that sentence up with, “But we also believe in the idea that they should be able to discover what is the most relevant to them.” It’s shocking because Becker is acknowledging that tracking is wrong while at the same time admitting Verizon simply does not care because the value it provides to the advertisers that pay it to use these tools is greater than the potential privacy implications. Of course, virtually every email client on the market, including Gmail and other popular services, aggressively tracks its users, collects and stores their data, and then sells access to the inbox and the contents of people’s messages to advertisers. That’s because these products are, by and large, free, and the companies that make them earn money by amassing large user bases of largely apathetic consumers and then monetizing that user base via ads. There are paid services out there for people who want more privacy, including ProtonMail and the recently released OnMail. But companies like Verizon accurately assume most people don’t care enough and will put up with invasive advertising in exchange for a free product. Still, View Time Optimization seems like an all-new level of tracking, and there are a lot of critical, unanswered questions about how this ad tech works — most importantly whether Verizon email users can opt out. Other pertinent issues include whether this tool provides marketers with instantaneous knowledge of when someone is sitting at their computer and whether location data is included; how much of this tool is automated or how much manual intervention a human being can take; and what kind of database of info is collected and kept on email users’ habits. Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Source: Verizon’s new tracking tool tells advertisers when you’re looking at your email inbox (The Verge)
  15. Verizon will shut down its 3G network in 2022 This is the final delay. George Frey / reuters Back in January, Verizon spokesperson Kevin King went on record saying the company didn't have a concrete plan to decommission its 3G network. Ah, how times have changed. Verizon will shut down its 3G services on December 31st, 2022, VP of network engineering Mike Haberman announced today. (Verizon is the owner of Engadget's parent company, Verizon Media.) According to Haberman, less than 1 percent of Verizon customers still access the 3G network, with 99 percent on 4G LTE or 5G. Verizon has roughly 94 million customers, so by the company's own math, as many as 940,000 people are still using Verizon's 3G network. "Customers who still have a 3G device will continue to be strongly encouraged to make a change now," Haberman wrote. "As we move closer to the shut-off date customers still accessing the 3G network may experience a degradation or complete loss of service, and our service centers will only be able to offer extremely limited troubleshooting help on these older devices." Verizon has been teasing a shut-off of its 3G CDMA services for years. The company rolled out 4G LTE in 2012, and by 2014 it was playing around with the idea of dropping 3G in favor of the new tech. In 2016, Verizon formally announced plans to decommission its 3G network by 2019, but later pushed that date back to 2020. The delay to 2022 is final — there will be no more extensions, Haberman said. He noted that this will be "months after our competitors have shut off their networks completely." Source: Verizon will shut down its 3G network in 2022
  16. Verizon’s Visible now has 5G, eSIM, and Canada/Mexico calls, no rate increase You can now get Visible 5G service at the same price you pay for 4G LTE service. The company is also introducing eSIM support, Canada/Mexico calls, and a few other new features. Even with these new perks, the company is keeping its same pricing. Visible is a prepaid subsidiary brand of Verizon. For almost three years now, it’s offered unlimited 4G service on the Verizon network for just $40 each month. Today, though, it’s upping the ante. Starting now, customers get Visible 5G service for free with their monthly plan. Obviously, you’ll need to have a 5G-capable device to access that network, and that device must be on Visible’s shortlist of supported phones. What’s more, the 5G service isn’t limited to Verizon’s Sub-6 network. You can also access the mmWave network, assuming you live in the very limited areas in which it’s available. What’s the catch? Unfortunately, your 5G speeds will be capped at 200Mbps. While that’s still plenty fast, there are reports of 5G speeds blowing past the 1Gbps barrier. Visible customers won’t be able to see those speeds. Visible 5G support comes with eSIM and more In addition to 5G, Visible customers now can activate their phones using eSIM. That means they no longer need to buy a Visible SIM card and wait for it to arrive in the mail. With a supported device, customers can activate their phones in just 15 minutes from wherever they might be. The catch here is that only iPhones are supported for now. When Visible first launched, it only supported iPhones, so it makes sense that it would start this new system with iPhone exclusivity. The company promises that Android eSIM support is coming soon. However, not every Android phone supports eSIM at the moment, which is a shame. Visible is also expanding outside of the United States. Starting today, customers can make calls to Canada, Mexico, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. This was previously a big barrier for potential subscribers. Finally, Visible is also opening a referral program, launching a new community forum, and expanding the number of people who can contribute to a monthly plan using Party Pay. You can find out more about the new Visible 5G service, eSIM support, and all the other new features at Visible.com. Source: Verizon’s Visible now has 5G, eSIM, and Canada/Mexico calls, no rate increase
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