The Switchboard: Five tech policy stories you need to read today

September 4, 2013

(Photo by Glenn Fleishman)

Massive Verizon-Vodafone deal 'should sail through,' experts say. "Verizon's $130 billion bid to buy out Vodafone's stake in Verizon Wireless is unlikely to face opposition from regulators despite being one of the biggest transactions in history," says the Hill. "Verizon already owns a controlling share of Verizon Wireless, so gaining 100 percent ownership of the venture won't fundamentally alter the competitive landscape of the wireless industry."

The U.S. isn’t bombing Syria yet. But it is providing tech support to the rebels. "The United States hasn’t decided whether to launch airstrikes against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria," writes my colleague Andrea Peterson. "But the Obama administration long ago decided to provide the rebels with another form of assistance: hardware and software to help the rebels communicate more effectively and evade government censorship."

Microsoft Buying Nokia Reminds Us That Dominant Tech Companies Can Disappear Quickly. Techdirt's Mike Masnick says Nokia's sale is a "reminder of just how quickly and completely a 'dominant' tech firm can almost disappear off the face of the earth. Go back to 2007 (also known as The Time Before The iPhone) and Nokia absolutely and totally dominated the mobile phone market. Then along came the iPhone. And Android. And the world changed. And Nokia clearly wasn't ready for it, didn't recognize where the world was heading and was unable to respond in a timely fashion."

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite draws bright line between e-readers, tablets. "Amazon introduced a new version of its Kindle Paperwhite e-reader Tuesday, showing that it’s happy to play both sides of a conflict between e-book readers and tablets," reports our colleague Hayley Tsukayama. "E-readers saw a burst of popularity, particularly in 2012, but analysis firms such as IDC found in early 2013 that the single-focus devices were rapidly losing ground to tablets as users looked for more robust reading devices — particularly as tablet prices continue to drop."

Silicon Valley patent office shelved. Ars Technica points to a recent Associated Press story on delays in opening a branch of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Silicon Valley. "While most of the country is feeling some pinch from the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration, tech leaders say this one is unique and unfair, because the Commerce Department's promised satellite patent offices were never going to be funded by taxpayers."

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Andrea Peterson | September 3, 2013