BlackBerry’s no-phone business model isn’t working out as planned

BlackBerry Ltd, the company that once led the world’s “smartphone” market and ruled the corporate mobile e-mail world, posted its financials today for the most recent three months, and they were not pretty. Software and professional services sales were down by 4.7 percent, totaling $101 million for the quarter, and as a result the company missed analyst expectations for revenue by a wide mark.

The news comes as a blow to investors, who had pumped up the price of BlackBerry’s stock by about 60 percent over the past three months—largely because people were so bullish on BlackBerry’s software sales exploding. Today, the company’s share price fell by over 12 percent before close. In fact, the company only turned a profit because of a $940 million payment from Qualcomm to settle arbitration over royalty payments.

In 2016, BlackBerry completely outsourced manufacturing of its phones. Since then, revenues from phone sales have collapsed—totaling $37 million for the quarter ending May 31, compared to $152 million last year.

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Low-latency satellite broadband gets approval to serve US residents

A company seeking to offer low-latency broadband from satellites yesterday received a key approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

“Over a year ago, OneWeb was the first company to seek approval to enter the US market with a system of high-capacity satellites that orbit closer to Earth than any satellite has ever before,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said before yesterday’s vote. “The goal of this non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) technology is to provide global, high-speed broadband service—and its use case is particularly compelling in remote and hard-to-serve areas.”

Today’s satellite ISPs have average latencies of 600ms or more, according to FCC measurements, with satellites orbiting the Earth at about 35,400km. By contrast, OneWeb satellites would orbit at altitudes of about 1,200km. The company says its Internet access would have latencies of around 30ms, just a bit higher than typical cable systems. Speeds would be around 50Mbps.

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Comcast accused of cutting competitor’s wires to put it out of business

A tiny Internet service provider has sued Comcast, alleging that the cable giant and its hired contractors cut the smaller company’s wires in order to take over its customer base.

Telecom Cable LLC had “229 satisfied customers” in Weston Lakes and Corrigan, Texas when Comcast and its contractors sabotaged its network, the lawsuit filed last week in Harris County District Court said.

Comcast had tried to buy Telecom Cable’s Weston Lakes operations in 2013 “but refused to pay what they were worth,” the complaint says. Starting in June 2015, Comcast and two contractors it hired “systematically destroyed Telecom’s business by cutting its lines and running off its customers,” the lawsuit says. Comcast destroyed or damaged the lines serving all Telecom Cable customers in Weston Lakes and never repaired them, the lawsuit claims.

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Apple may look to pay labels less as Apple Music subscriptions rise

Changes may be coming to Apple Music, but for record labels rather than subscribers. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple may be looking to reduce how much it pays to record labels whose music populates the company’s music-streaming service. Labels’ deals with Apple expire in the coming weeks, and Apple may be looking to lower the percentage it pays to those labels with the hopes that any reduction will be offset by a consistent rise in subscriptions.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the deals that are set to expire soon will likely be extended even if Apple and the labels can’t agree on new terms. But Apple might try to renegotiate thanks to renewed hope in the music industry due to the popularity of paid streaming. Bloomberg’s report states the recording industry grew 5.9 percent last year worldwide mostly due to paid music-subscription services like Apple Music and Spotify.

Spotify recently renegotiated its rate with labels to 52 percent from 55 percent, but those numbers are tied to “certain guarantees of subscriber growth.” When Apple Music debuted about two years ago, the company initially overpaid labels to stifle anxiety that the new subscription service would overshadow iTunes, which has been a big source of revenue for record labels for years. Apple Music’s growth to the second-largest music streaming service hasn’t hurt labels’ revenue from iTunes much, but labels still clearly want to be careful with their streaming commitments going forward.

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Citrix isn’t just for telecommuting, Red Bull Racing uses it at the track

“Big Data” has been all the rage for the last few years. But the sport of Formula 1 racing caught that bug a long time ago, certainly in the days predating that buzzword. In the past, we’ve taken a look at how teams like Williams Martini Racing, Renault Sport Formula One, and Caterham F1 (RIP) have handled collecting and crunching their terabytes. Today, it’s Red Bull Racing’s turn.

“I’ve worked for the team for 13 years now, and we’ve been doing this for ages. The complexity of what we measure and sophistication of the analytics continues to improve, but we’ve been doing big data for a long time,” explained Matt Cadieux, Red Bull Racing’s Chief Information Officer. The data in question is collected by myriad sensors all over the team’s race cars, roughly adding up to a terabyte each race weekend (500GB for each of the two cars).

“But if you look at all the other data we use—video, audio, number crunching to run through various simulations—it’s a huge multiplication factor on top of that,” he told Ars. Cadieux wouldn’t give us an exact number for that data volume over a race weekend, lest that information prove too useful to the team’s rivals in the paddock, but company-wide the team manages 8PB of data. Cadieux reckoned that 95 percent of that was related to car design and car performance—think CAD (computer-aided design) and CFD (computational fluid dynamics), but also strategy simulations and historical telemetry data from previous seasons. “We have a very data-hungry business,” he said.

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Utility that says Comcast didn’t pay bills threatens to pull wires off poles

An electric utility in Tennessee has accused Comcast of not paying its bills for three years. The utility says it will start removing Comcast wires from utility poles next week unless the cable company pays up.

In a notice on its website, the electric co-op said:

If Comcast does not pay the amounts owed to STEMC [Southwest Tennessee Electric Membership Corporation] by June 28, 2017, we will begin removing their attachments from our poles. We regret that some customers may lose their Comcast service. However, the full cost and maintenance of these utility poles are borne by all members of STEMC, and we cannot allow STEMC members to subsidize Comcast’s services. We are hopeful that Comcast will make payment prior to the deadline and avoid the need to remove their cable attachments.

Comcast promised to pay the “correct amount,” but the industry giant says that STEMC tried to double its bill in 2015 and did not provide evidence to support the new amount until this month, according to a WREG news report last night.

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Democrats urge Trump administration to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

A group of mostly Democratic senators led by Al Franken (D-Minn.) today urged the Department of Justice to block AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner Inc. The senators’ letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions predicts that “the combined company’s unmatched control of popular content and the distribution of that content will lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans.”

The Democrats couched their language a bit and said that the DOJ should block the merger if it “determine[s] that the substantial harms to competition and consumers arising from the transaction outweigh the purported benefits.” But the senators made it clear that they believe the merger’s potential harms will outweigh the benefits for consumers even if the government imposes conditions on the transaction.

Time Warner is the owner of programmers such as HBO, CNN, and Turner Broadcasting System, while AT&T is the country’s biggest pay-TV provider, with 21 million DirecTV subscribers and four million U-verse TV subscribers. AT&T is also one of the largest home and mobile broadband companies. (The Time Warner involved in this transaction is completely separate from the similarly named Time Warner Cable, which is owned by Charter.)

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California may restore broadband privacy rules killed by Congress and Trump

A proposed law in California would require Internet service providers to obtain customers’ permission before they use, share, or sell the customers’ Web browsing history.

The California Broadband Internet Privacy Act, a bill introduced by Assembly member Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) on Monday, is very similar to an Obama-era privacy rule that was scheduled to take effect across the US until President Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress eliminated it. If Chau’s bill becomes law, ISPs in California would have to get subscribers’ opt-in consent before using browsing history and other sensitive information in order to serve personalized advertisements. Consumers would have the right to revoke their consent at any time.

“The idea that a person should have some say about how their Internet service provider can use, share or sell their personal information is not a controversial question for everyday consumers—it is common sense,” Chau said in an announcement. “Congress and the Administration went against the will of the vast majority of Americans when they revoked the FCC’s own privacy rules in April, but California is going to restore what Washington stripped away.”

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