Three UK will be launching its 5G network supporting both mobile and home broadband in August of this year. The telecommunications and internet service provider is the UK’s first commercial video mobile network. The Verge reports that the 5G network will be available in 25 locations across the country, initially in London then spreading to Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and more by the end of 2019.
Three claims that its 5G network will be the fastest in the UK, according to their website. CNet reports that the benefits of the service include quicker speeds, consistent coverage and the ability to expand the 5G technology to other areas of infrastructure, including autonomous cars and virtual reality games. Furthermore, the BBC reports that download speeds will increase as much as 100 times quicker than 4G networks.
Customers are curious to find out the price of this service, however, Three UK will not reveal cost details until next month. According to the BBC, BT’s EE and Vodafone are two other UK-based companies who have committed to launching 5G services in May and July of 2019, respectively. Three differs from these telecom providers as it still offers smartphones made by Chinese company Huawei, whereas EE and Vodafone have pulled these devices from their 5G launches. Three has not yet confirmed which devices are part of its 5G launch.
Smile, You’re on Camera
Imagine if no matter where you walked in your neighbourhood, there was a high chance of you making an appearance on a neighbour's surveillance footage? With the popularity of Amazon’s Ring doorbells, Google’s Nest security cameras and other similar products increasing, so is the level of concern about potential violations of residents’ privacy. Ring is a home security product that includes a motion-sensor camera that is activated when a visitor rings the owner’s doorbell. A notification and live video feed is available on the Ring owner’s smart device, enabling them to monitor their front door, check-in on their property while away from home, and even see, hear and speak to visitors in real time through the feed.
Law enforcement in over 50 towns and cities are promoting the use of “smart doorbells”, and according to Business Insider, several police departments have partnered with Amazon to offer free or discounted devices to residents. The fine print of these giveaways? Recipients have been required to turn over footage captured by the surveillance device when requested by the police department. This creates a surveillance network accessible by local law enforcement that is powered by Amazon and present in areas that aren’t typically surveilled by cameras. The network becomes especially powerful through Ring’s Neighbors app, which is a free app available to members of a community that allows them to share footage captured by their Ring app’s security camera.
CNet reports that a police partnership with Ring allows officers to access a law enforcement dashboard, where they can view footage sent in by residents that helps them solve neighbourhood crimes. Ring commented on this by stating that although the company has donated devices to law enforcement departments, they do not support users having to share footage captured by their Ring device or forcing users to purchase a recording plan. Critics are concerned about the potential for privacy violations to be committed, not only by tech giants like Amazon, but now local law enforcement as well.
An End to Robocalls
A major source of frustration for mobile phone owners in the United States? Robocalls. YouMail Robocall Index reports that just last month 4.7 billion automated phone calls, which often appear on caller IDs as nearby phone numbers or the recipient’s own phone number, were placed in the U.S. The average person received over 14 calls, with 1,800 calls placed per second. Although certain phone providers offer services that block robocalls, they often need to be requested by the customer and sometimes invoke additional charges.
The US Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai, informed CNet that the committee voted unanimously to allow phone carriers the power to block these spam calls for their customers, a proposition outlined in a public press release earlier this year. NPR reports that the ruling requires carriers to inform their customers of the call blocking option and ask their preference on having spam calls blocked from their number. It does not require that this service be cost-free, which has reportedly caused some hesitation from commissioners to approve the decision.
In the past, many phone companies have been hesitant to move forward with blocking these types of calls, mostly to avoid any legal issues that could arise if a legitimate call was blocked by mistake. To combat this fear, the FCC proposed a protective provision that is not yet official for phone providers from being accused of this, so long as they use an authentication framework that is approved by the FCC to verify that the phone call is in fact not legitimate.
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