Altice to sell wireless service on Sprint's network

(Reuters) – U.S. cable operator Altice USA will sell mobile service on wireless carrier Sprint Corp’s network under a new multi-year agreement announced on Sunday, becoming the latest firm to enter the wireless market in a bid to retain customers.

FILE PHOTO: A Sprint store logo is pictured on a building in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S. on March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The companies announced the agreement a day after Sprint and T-Mobile US Inc ended merger talks.

Under the terms of the agreement, Altice, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, will use Sprint’s network to provide voice and data services in the United States. It gave no time line on when it will introduce such services.

The deal will allow Sprint to use Altice’s cable infrastructure to transmit cellular data and develop a next-generation network, or 5G.

Sprint and T-Mobile on Saturday called off merger talks to create a bigger U.S. wireless company to rival market leaders. That has left Sprint, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, to engineer a turnaround on its own.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, Sprint’s majority owner, said in a separate announcement on Sunday that it intended to increase its stake in Sprint but that it would keep ownership of outstanding common stock under 85 percent, a move that avoids triggering a tender offer for the remaining shares. SoftBank currently owns roughly 82 percent of Sprint.

U.S. cable companies have begun venturing into the wireless market as a way to bundle more services to reduce churn, or customer defections, at a time when more consumers are canceling cable subscriptions.

Comcast Corp started selling wireless service this year on Verizon Communications Inc’s network, and Charter Communications Inc plans to launch service next year.

Reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru and Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Paul Simao and Peter Cooney

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Altice USA, Sprint agree to wireless partnership agreement

(Reuters) – U.S. cable operator Altice USA will sell mobile service on wireless carrier Sprint Corp’s network under a new multi-year agreement announced on Sunday, becoming the latest firm to enter the wireless market in a bid to retain customers.

FILE PHOTO: A Sprint store logo is pictured on a building in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S. on March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

The companies announced the agreement a day after Sprint and T-Mobile US Inc ended merger talks.

Under the terms of the agreement, Altice, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, will use Sprint’s network to provide voice and data services in the United States. It gave no time line on when it will introduce such services.

The deal will allow Sprint to use Altice’s cable infrastructure to transmit cellular data and develop a next-generation network, or 5G.

Sprint and T-Mobile on Saturday called off merger talks to create a bigger U.S. wireless company to rival market leaders. That has left Sprint, the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier, to engineer a turnaround on its own.

Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, Sprint’s majority owner, said in a separate announcement on Sunday that it intended to increase its stake in Sprint but that it would keep ownership of outstanding common stock under 85 percent, a move that avoids triggering a tender offer for the remaining shares. SoftBank currently owns roughly 82 percent of Sprint.

U.S. cable companies have begun venturing into the wireless market as a way to bundle more services to reduce churn, or customer defections, at a time when more consumers are canceling cable subscriptions.

Comcast Corp started selling wireless service this year on Verizon Communications Inc’s network, and Charter Communications Inc plans to launch service next year.

Reporting by Parikshit Mishra in Bengaluru and Anjali Athavaley in New York; Editing by Paul Simao and Peter Cooney

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

App developer access to iPhone X face data spooks some privacy experts

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) won accolades from privacy experts in September for assuring that facial data used to unlock its new iPhone X would be securely stored on the phone itself.

A attendee uses a new iPhone X during a presentation for the media in Beijing, China October 31, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

But Apple’s privacy promises do not extend to the thousands of app developers who will gain access to facial data in order to build entertainment features for iPhone X customers, such as pinning a three-dimensional mask to their face for a selfie or letting a video game character mirror the player’s real-world facial expressions.

Apple allows developers to take certain facial data off the phone as long as they agree to seek customer permission and not sell the data to third parties, among other terms in a contract seen by Reuters.

App makers who want to use the new camera on the iPhone X can capture a rough map of a user’s face and a stream of more than 50 kinds of facial expressions. This data, which can be removed from the phone and stored on a developer’s own servers, can help monitor how often users blink, smile or even raise an eyebrow.

That remote storage raises questions about how effectively Apple can enforce its privacy rules, according to privacy groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Democracy and Technology. Apple maintains that its enforcement tools – which include pre-publication reviews, audits of apps and the threat of kicking developers off its lucrative App Store – are effective.

The data available to developers cannot unlock a phone; that process relies on a mathematical representation of the face rather than a visual map of it, according to documentation about the face unlock system that Apple released to security researchers.

But the relative ease with which developers can whisk away face data to remote servers leaves Apple sending conflicting messages: Face data is highly private when used for authentication, but it is sharable – with the user’s permission – when used to build app features.

“The privacy issues around of the use of very sophisticated facial recognition technology for unlocking the phone have been overblown,” said Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst with the American Civil Liberties Union. “The real privacy issues have to do with the access by third-party developers.”

The use of face recognition is becoming ubiquitous on everything from social networks to city streets with surveillance cameras. Berlin law enforcement officials in August installed a facial recognition system at the city’s main railway station to test new technology for catching criminals and terrorists.

But privacy concerns loom large. In Illinois, Facebook Inc (FB.O) faces a lawsuit over whether its photo tagging suggestions violated a state law that bars the collection of biometric data without permission. Facebook says it has always been clear with users that it can be turned off and the data for it deleted.

Privacy experts say their concerns about iPhone X are not about government snooping, since huge troves of facial photographs already exist on social media and even in state motor vehicle departments. The issue is more about unscrupulous marketers eager to track users’ facial expressions in response to advertisements or content, despite Apple’s contractual rules against doing so.

App makers must “obtain clear and conspicuous consent” from users before collecting or storing face data, and can only do so for a legitimate feature of an app, according to the relevant portions of Apple’s developer agreement that Apple provided to Reuters.

Apple’s iOS operating system also asks users to grant permission for an app to access to any of the phone’s cameras.

Apple forbids developers from using the face data for advertising or marketing, and from selling it to data brokers or analytics firms that might use it for those purposes. The company also bans the creation of user profiles that could be used to identify anonymous users, according to its developer agreement.

“The bottom line is, Apple is trying to make this a user experience addition to the iPhone X, and not an advertising addition,” said Clare Garvie, an associate with the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington.

ENFORCEMENT IN QUESTION

Though they praised Apple’s policies on face data, privacy experts worry about the potential inability to control what app developers do with face data once it leaves the iPhone X, and whether the tech company’s disclosure policies adequately alert customers.

The company has had high-profile mishaps enforcing its own rules in the past, such as the 2012 controversy around Path, a social networking app that was found to be saving users’ contact lists to its servers, a violation of Apple’s rules.

One app developer told Reuters that Apple’s non-negotiable developer agreement is long and complex and rarely read in detail, just as most consumers do not know the details of what they agree to when they allow access to personal data.

Apple’s main enforcement mechanism is the threat to kick apps out of the App Store, though the company in 2011 told the U.S. Congress that it had never punished an app in that way for sharing user information with third parties without permission.

Apple’s other line of defense against privacy abuse is the review that all apps undergo before they hit the App Store. But the company does not review the source code of all apps, instead relying on random spot checks or complaints, according to 2011 Congressional testimony from Bud Tribble, one of the company’s “privacy czars.”

With the iPhone X, the primary danger is that advertisers will find it irresistible to gauge how consumers react to products or to build tracking profiles of them, even though Apple explicitly bans such activity. “Apple does have a pretty good historical track record of holding developers accountable who violate their agreements, but they have to catch them first – and sometimes that’s the hard part,” the ACLU’s Stanley said. “It means household names probably won’t exploit this, but there’s still a lot of room for bottom feeders.”

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Edward Tobin

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

TransferWise raises $280M to Fund Global Expansion

TransferWise transferwise , a cross-border money transfer startup, just raised an enormous chunk of change to help expand in Latin America and Asia, and to grow its “Borderless accounts” service for businesses.

The London-based company, which has been profitable since early this year, announced Tuesday it raised $280 million in a Series E round led by the venture capital firm IVP and the asset manager Old Mutual Global Investors.

TransferWise, which was valued at $1.5 billion in August, has now raised a total of $397 million and counts high profile names like Andreesen Horowitz and Richard Branson among its investors.

Like other payments startups, TransferWise found a niche helping people move money across borders without expensive and cumbersome wire transfers.

The company started out by matching individuals in one country with counterparts in another who want to move cash in the opposite direction, and charging less than 1% for the transaction. TransferWise has since added business customers with its “Borderless accounts”—a service that lets companies maintain balances in multiple companies even if they don’t step foot there.

“Around the world small and medium business are similarly screwed. They’re being simultaneously underserved and overcharged by the banks,” TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus told Fortune.

He added that the company now has 10% of the international transfer market in the U.K., and expects that to rise to 20%, and that it’s “earlier in the penetration curve” in the U.S.

As for technology, TransferWise is not among those jumping on the blockchain bandwagon, which a number of banks and big companies, including IBM, are testing for cross-border payments.

According to Hinrikus, it takes an eternity for banks to adopt a new technology and that TransferWise will keep following its preferred approach, which is to work with local payment networks in different countries.

TransferWise’s massive funding round comes days after Seattle-based Remittly, another money transfer service, raised $115 million to expand its remittance business. Other competitors include Azimo and PayPal-owned Xoom.

While TransferWise’s valuation rate makes it a so-called unicorn, it is one of those that’s in no rush to go public. Hinrikus told Fortune his best estimate is that an IPO for the company is three or four years away.

Here are a few more details from TransferWise drawn from Thursday’s announcement:

TransferWise ​now ​serves ​over ​2 ​million ​customers ​and ​offers ​750 ​currency ​routes, ​with further ​expansion ​into ​Asia ​planned ​for ​the ​next ​12 ​months, ​including ​services ​from India ​and ​to ​Nepal. ​The ​company ​already ​has ​hundreds ​of ​thousands ​of ​customers ​in APAC, ​having ​announced ​a ​regional ​hub ​office ​in ​Singapore ​this ​year, ​with ​satellite offices ​in ​Tokyo ​and ​Sydney. Today ​TransferWise ​moves ​$1bn ​for ​its ​customers ​every ​month, ​saving ​them ​$1.5m ​a day, ​compared ​to ​if ​they ​had ​used ​their ​bank ​for ​the ​same ​transaction.

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts