The Washington Post

The Circuit: FCC approves USF reform, HP keeps PC unit, Samsung overtakes Apple

LEADING THE DAY: The Federal Communications Commission Thursday approved a plan to overhaul a $4.5 billion broadband Internet fund aimed at giving private companies money to bring broadband access to rural households. The commission voted unanimously to divert to the new project revenue collected from consumer fees and traditionally used to maintain older telephone lines.

The initiative drew swift praise and criticism from consumer groups. Some hailed the agency’s investment in expanding access to high-speed Internet, while others expressed concern that the move will increase consumer fees. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has pledged that no such increases will happen. The commission is expected to release the full order within a few weeks, The Washington Post reported.

HP to keep PC unit: Hewlett-Packard announced Thursday that, contrary to a plan championed by its former chief executive Leo Apotheker, the company will keep its PC business. The decision comes a little over a month after the company replaced Apotheker with former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman. When Whitman took over the lead position at HP, she said that she would objectively reevaluate the decision to spin off the PSG. But she also made it clear that her appointment did not indicate a “change in strategy.” HP currently has the largest PC business in the world.

Samsung overtakes Apple as leading smartphone vendor: Samsung has overtaken Apple as the world’s leading smartphone vendor, according to a report from Bloomberg, as the two companies fight over patent issues in several courts across the globe. Samsung is currently the largest maker of smartphones that run Google’s Android platform and, according to a U.K.-based analytics firm, has also captured 23.8 percent of the world smartphone market. Apple, the report said, is now the world’s second-largest manufacturer, with 14.6 percent of the market, followed by Nokia.

Facebook releases new security measures: Facebook has added two security features aimed at helping users secure their accounts at log-in. One feature, called “Trusted Friends,” allows users who have lost access to their e-mail accounts to designate a few members of their social network to help them unlock their Facebook profile. Friends will be sent unique codes which can then be forwarded on to the user to gain access. The network also began rolling out a feature that will allow users to generate unique passwords for third-party apps that use Facebook’s log-in credentials.

GPS industry, LightSquared trade barbs: In a release Thursday, the Coalition to Save Our GPS challenged claims made by LightSquared that it has been granted a legal right to build out its nationwide terrestrial broadband network in the satellite band. The group has accused LightSquared of cheating taxpayers out of billions of dollars in order to gain an increase in the value of its spectrum.

In his own Thursday statement, LightSquared’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy, Jeff Carlisle, said that the GPS industry has avoided solving interference problems with neighboring spectrum for years.

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.



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