Sandy problems persist: Hurricane Sandy exposed gaps in the nation’s wireless and digital phone systems, The Washington Post reported, as problems with power, downed trees and even fuel shortages hinder carriers as they slowly restore service to the East Coast.
Some analysts say that plain old telephones — or POTS — that run on copper wiring can be more reliable than wireless networks. But those phones are disappearing from American households, with nearly 40 percent of American homes cutting off wireline phone service in favor of going wireless-only.
Updates on networks: On Thursday, carriers provided updates on the state of their networks. Sprint said its network in D.C., Maryland and Virginia has been fully restored, and is “more than 80 percent” operational in the New York and New Jersey areas.
AT&T reported Friday that it is setting up temporary cell sites in places such as lower Manhattan and will process text-based donations to the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Humane Society onto customers’ bills. The carrier entered an agreement with T-Mobile to allow consumers to use both companies’ networks free of charge.
T-Mobile also reported that its network is up to 80 percent functionality in Staten Island and up to 85 percent for New York City as a whole.
Verizon said it was making “substantial progress” in restoring its communications.
FTC action on Google patents expected: The Federal Trade Commission staff has formally recommended that the agency sue Google for its use of industry-standard patents in intellectual property lawsuits.
According to a report from Bloomberg, the agency’s staff has made its final recommendation on the matter, but the FTC is unlikely to take action until after the presidential election.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick said that the company takes its “commitments to license on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms very seriously and are happy to answer any questions.”
Government cloud: Industry experts are raising questions about whether the privacy policies at Google and other tech firms allow the companies to access troves of personal data when contracted by the federal government for e-mail and other services.
As The Washington Post reported, SafeGov.org, a group of industry experts promoting safe government use of cloud services, has been raising these concerns since January, when the company introduced its new policies.
Kids and ads: There’s a growing debate over the distinction between promotion and play when it comes to online activities designed for children, The Washington Post reported.
With children spending more and more time in front of screens, federal regulators are trying to keep up with companies appealing to kids with apps, games and social media sites.
Children’s advocates worry that children, who have a harder time distinguishing between advertisements and content, may not understand when they’re being targeted by marketers.