Fitbit deal tests Google’s willingness, ability to follow California privacy law

15 November 2019 by Steve Blum
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Google’s $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit will, if nothing else, be an excellent test case for California’s new consumer data privacy law, which takes effect in January. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requires companies above a certain size let their customers know what kind of personal data is being collected and what it’s being used for, and gives individuals a level of control over the collection and use of their data.

The activity, location and health data collected by Fitbit devices is highly personal.… More

Google’s Android bundling strategy whacked by EU

19 July 2018 by Steve Blum
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Google set two records yesterday: it was hit with the largest fine ever assessed by European Union anti-trust enforcers, which didn’t scare Wall Street because its stock price – actually, its nominal parent company Alphabet’s share price – hit the highest level ever.

The $5 billion fine was accompanied by an order for Google to radically change the way it markets the Android mobile phone operating system, according to a tweet by Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commission and a former member of the Danish parliament…

Fine of €4,34 bn to @Google for 3 types of illegal restrictions on the use of Android.


Blocking free speech is more dangerous than suffering it

19 August 2017 by Steve Blum
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Last week, Google and GoDaddy used the power that comes with being at the center of the domain name system to block a white supremacist website. They weren’t alone in their revulsion with the ideas expressed or in taking effective action against them.

But using control over the Internet’s plumbing to censor speech – even speech as vile and disgusting as this – is a wrong and dangerous path to follow. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains in a blog post that gets it exactly right, a weapon that’s used in a good cause can just as easily be used for evil…

All fair-minded people must stand against the hateful violence and aggression that seems to be growing across our country.


Microsoft discovers Google's business model in spectral gaps

22 July 2017 by Steve Blum
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Me too.

Microsoft’s TV white space broadband initiative is many things – a worthy effort to expand Internet access, a way of squeezing more useable bandwidth out of finite radio spectrum, a call to action for rural economic development and, as willingly acknowledged, a business opportunity.

It is also a foray into the market economics of free software. White space is the gaps between active television channels, which vary according to where you are in relation to whatever TV stations might be around.… More

CPUC approves Digital 299 fiber project, Webpass transfer, pole access enquiry

23 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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In a 4 to 1 vote, the California Public Utilities Commission voted to spend $47 million on the Digital 299 middle mile fiber project this morning. It’s a 300 mile network connecting Trinity and Humboldt counties to long haul routes in Shasta County. The no vote came from president Michael Picker.

The CPUC also unanimously approved Google’s purchase of Webpass, a mostly wireless broadband provider that is also licensed as a wireline telephone company – hence the need for commission review – and granted a request to begin consideration of new access rules that would allow licensed telephone companies to hang wireless equipment on utility poles.

CPUC considers pole access, Google and fiber

19 March 2017 by Steve Blum
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Update, 23 March 2017: the CPUC voted 4 to 1 to approve the Digital 299 grant this morning, and unanimously approved Google’s purchase of Webpass and the enquiry into expanded utility pole access.

Three important decisions are in front of the California Public Utilities Commission this week: a $41 million (or perhaps $47 million) grant for a northern California middle mile fiber project, formally considering whether telephone companies can attach wireless gear to utility poles and what the aesthetic impacts might be, and allowing Google to buy Webpass, a mostly wireless Internet provider that’s also licensed to offer wireline service.… More

Google Fiber says no settlement, CPUC to decide protest of Webpass deal

28 November 2016 by Steve Blum
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Big or small?

Google Fiber won’t agree to a settlement with the only group to lodge a protest in California to its acquisition of Webpass, an independent Internet service provider. The deal requires approval from the California Public Utilities Commission because Webpass is certified as a competitive telecoms company, which makes it a regulated public utility.

This sort of review is usually routine. Exceptions are generally the result of past problems with CPUC rules – not an issue in this case – or occur when the companies involved are major players in California’s telecoms ecosystem.… More

Google finds dropping cable off a boat is easier and faster than digging up streets

15 October 2016 by Steve Blum
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Many, many middle miles.

Google might be defaulting, excuse me, pivoting to wireless broadband technology in last mile broadband markets, but it appears to be moving full speed ahead with laying underseas fiber to connect continents. And Facebook is sailing right alongside.

Google, Facebook, TE Connectivity – the former Tyco Electronics – and Pacific Light Data Communication, a Hong Kong-based start up, are partnering to build a submarine cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with a completion target of summer 2018.… More

Cable, telcos use monopoly muscle to block access to California poles

5 October 2016 by Steve Blum
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Barrier to competition.

Google still can’t get access to utility poles in the Bay Area. Whether or not it still wants it is an open question – Google closed its purchase of the wireless Internet service provider side of Webpass this week – but even if it doesn’t, the blocking action by incumbents anxious to protect monopoly markets has caught the attention of California regulators.

The California Public Utilities Commission was told last week that the club that controls pole access – the Northern California Joint Pole Association – has again rejected Google’s requests for membership and permission to use poles.… More

Google's wireless goal isn't fiber replacement or magic radios

13 August 2016 by Steve Blum
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No need to wait.

Google is asking the Federal Communications Commission for permission to run wireless transmission tests in and around the 3.5 GHz band, which has been designated for use under new Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) rules.
One reason for the request is sure to be Google’s increasing focus on wireless technologies as a substitute for or supplement to fiber. But Google has another, immediately practical interest at stake too: widespread use of CBRS spectrum requires real time frequency coordination amongst users, who have varying degrees of priority in that band.… More