As CA bill aims for 100% renewable by 2050, utility starts 30MW battery system


On Friday, Southern California utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) held a small press conference in Escondido to show off its brand new energy storage facility, a 30MW battery system capable of storing 120MWh of energy, which can serve 20,000 customers for four hours. SDG&E also introduced a 7.5MW battery system built in El Cajon, CA.

The two projects were built after state energy officials ordered power companies to add lithium-ion battery storage to their grids this past summer following a massive methane leak at Aliso Canyon in California that put the region in jeopardy for natural gas shortages. AES Energy Storage, a Virginia-based company that has been building utility-grade batteries since 2008, built the system for SDG&E.

Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FCC to halt rule that protects your private data from security breaches

The Federal Communications Commission plans to halt implementation of a privacy rule that requires ISPs to protect the security of its customers’ personal information.

The data security rule is part of a broader privacy rulemaking implemented under former Chairman Tom Wheeler but opposed by the FCC’s new Republican majority. The privacy order’s data security obligations are scheduled to take effect on March 2, but Chairman Ajit Pai wants to prevent that from happening.

The data security rule requires ISPs and phone companies to take “reasonable” steps to protect customers’ information—such as Social Security numbers, financial and health information, and Web browsing data—from theft and data breaches.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Uber might genuinely be worried that #DeleteUber is working

Social media calls to #DeleteUber are getting the company’s attention in ways that previous efforts have not.

This week, Uber drew increased scrutiny in the wake of public allegations by a former engineer named Susan Fowler. She described Uber as having a culture of sexual harassment during her tenure there. The San Francisco company has since publicly rebuked this behavior and announced that it has retained former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate those claims.

In response, some customers, however, renewed calls to “#DeleteUber,” which lead the company to respond with an automated message about the investigations. The hashtag that dates back to 2011, but didn’t really get going until 2014, and it has flared up at various moments since.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

ISPs who don’t want competition get good news from FCC chair

The Federal Communications Commission is preparing to eliminate a requirement that Charter Communications compete against other ISPs with new broadband deployments spurred by its purchase of Time Warner Cable.

The FCC’s approval of the merger last year required Charter to deploy broadband with download speeds of 60Mbps to at least 2 million residential and small business locations, of which at least 1 million must be in areas served by at least one other high-speed provider. Then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was frustrated by cable companies’ unwillingness to compete against each other, argued that having two high-speed providers in cities and towns would lower prices and give consumers more choice. ISPs often avoid each other’s territories because it’s easier to get customers in unserved areas.

But lobby groups for small and medium-sized ISPs objected to the merger requirement and asked the FCC to eliminate it. Newly appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is ready to oblige, as multiple news reports say he has circulated an order to fellow commissioners that would eliminate the “overbuild” requirement.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

5G specs announced: 20Gbps download, 1ms latency, 1M devices per square km

The total download capacity for a single 5G cell must be at least 20Gbps, the International Telcommunication Union (ITU) has decided. In contrast, the peak data rate for current LTE cells is about 1Gbps. The incoming 5G standard must also support up to 1 million connected devices per square kilometre, and the standard will require carriers to have at least 100MHz of free spectrum, scaling up to 1GHz where feasible.

These requirements come from the ITU’s draft report on the technical requirements for IMT-2020 (aka 5G) radio interfaces, which was published Thursday. The document is technically just a draft at this point, but that’s underselling its significance: it will likely be approved and finalised in November this year, at which point work begins in earnest on building 5G tech.

I’ll pick out a few of the more interesting tidbits from the draft spec, but if you want to read the document yourself, don’t be scared: it’s surprisingly human-readable.

Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Spotify is producing 3 original podcasts, with more to come this year

Spotify is doing more to become the place you go for original audio and video content, rather than just preexisting content. The streaming company announced that it is producing three original podcasts about various aspects of music culture, with more titles to be announced later this year. The first episode of one of the podcasts is already available: Showstoppers, with host Naomi Zeichner, Editor in Chief of The Fader magazine, focuses on “pop culture analysis of our favorite music moments in TV.”

The second podcast, called Unpacked, debuts March 14, coinciding with South by Southwest. Hosted by Matt FX, music supervisor for Comedy Central’s Broad City, and Michele Santucci of Spotify Studios, Unpacked brings the festival scene to you even when you’re miles away from the action. The hosting duo will travel to different music festivals and record interviews daily with musicians, filmmakers, and more so listeners can experience the festival via the podcast.

The third podcast announced, which has the working title The Chris Lightly Story, will showcase how music industry icon Chris Lightly shaped some of the biggest names in hip-hop culture. Hosted by Reggie Ossé, the podcast will dive into Lightly’s life and influence on the careers of artists including Missy Elliot, Foxy Brown, and LL Cool J, with commentary from other big names including Russell Simmons and Fat Joe.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

FCC lets “billion-dollar” ISPs hide fees and data caps, Democrat says

Who needs fee disclosures?

ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers won’t have to follow rules that require greater disclosures about fees and data caps after a vote today by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC’s Republican majority approved the change to help small providers avoid “onerous reporting obligations” included in the 2015 net neutrality order, they said. But by setting the threshold at 250,000 subscribers and exempting small ISPs owned by larger companies, the FCC is effectively “exempt[ing] billion-dollar public companies” from rules that can be complied with in mere hours each year, said Mignon Clyburn, the FCC’s only Democrat.

The commission’s 2015 order temporarily exempted ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers from the so-called enhanced transparency requirements, but that exemption expired in December 2016. Clyburn said she would support reinstating the exemption for ISPs with 100,000 or fewer subscribers, but she dissented from today’s order.

Read 14 remaining paragraphs | Comments

T-Mobile wants you to ignore last-place finish in nationwide network test

Verizon’s mobile network has once again been named the best in the US by testing firm RootMetrics, and T-Mobile USA finished last among the four major wireless carriers.

While Verizon Wireless bragged about its victory, T-Mobile claimed that the results are meaningless and that its network is the fastest in the US. The RootMetrics reports have been an ongoing problem for T-Mobile, which has repeatedly claimed that the results shouldn’t be trusted.

RootMetrics releases its reports every six months, based on drive tests conducted throughout the country a few months previously. T-Mobile used to claim that the tests are outdated, but that argument has gotten harder to make as T-Mobile keeps losing to Verizon and AT&T in the tests. In March 2014, T-Mobile said it had been the network leader for “months” and that the RootMetrics data was outdated. Six months later, T-Mobile lost again and predicted that it would “win in their studies in the future as [RootMetrics] data catches up to where our network performance is today.” In August 2015, T-Mobile CEO John Legere slammed the RootMetrics reports as “bullshit” and “antiquated.”

Read 16 remaining paragraphs | Comments