Entries tagged with “Mobile phone”.

The CDC’s report on wireless substitution – aka canceling your land line for a cellphone – is out and we discover that one in five U.S. households have cut the cable, an increase of 2.7 percent over six months ago. Another tidbit: one in every seven American homes (14.5%) took all their calls on cellphones despite having a landline.

The report polled 12,597 families for 23,726 adults total – there were 8,635 kids under the age of 18 – which makes it a fairly strong sample size. A few other tidbits:

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Want to find out why you suddenly don’t have Internet access or cell phone service? You might want to check out the social-networking site Twitter. Want to find out why you suddenly don’t have Internet access or cell phone service? You might want to check out the social-networking site Twitter.

It seems that Twitter was one of the main ways that phone company AT&T has been communicating with customers and updating the public about the fiber cut that caused thousands of people in Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area to go without broadband, phone, and wireless service for most of Thursday.

Janine Popick, CEO of VerticalResponse, whose company has been affected by the outage, said the only way she has stayed on top of the situation has been through Twitter.

“All of my real time updates have been coming from the AT&T Twitter feed,” she said.

Indeed, she isn’t alone. Nearly 2,400 people have been keeping tabs on the situation via AT&T’s Twitter feed.

Twitter is a Web-based social-networking service that lets people send messages to a group of followers in 140 characters or less. It’s been around for a couple of years now. I have to admit when I first heard about it, I thought it seemed like a service only narcissists would be interested in. After all, who really cares what I am doing or where I am going or even what I decide to eat for lunch. But the service has taken off in the past year, and it’s now hitting the mainstream as everyone from doctors to restaurants are using the service to update patients and patrons.

And it appears that large companies, such as AT&T, are using the service to keep their customers and anyone interested in the company, informed in real time about a crisis.

AT&T began “tweeting” updates about the massive service outage in California around 7 a.m. PDT. With the first message saying:

“CA customers: We are aware of a cable cut situation impacting services in Santa Clara and San Jose areas.”

From then on the company has sent about eight more “tweets” or messages informing customers that technicians have been on the scene and service would be restored as quickly as possible. The company apologized for the outage and also informed its followers that the outage was likely caused by vandals who had cut the fiber cables.

The company’s most recent “tweet” actually notified its Twitter followers that AT&T is offering a reward for anyone responsible for vandalizing the company’s infrastructure:

“AT&T offering $100,000 reward for info leading to arrest/conviction of those responsible for CA vandalism. Call 408-947-STOP.”

The outage has affected thousands of people throughout the Bay Area, even non-AT&T customers. Because AT&T provides the fiber connections that link cell phone towers to their respective networks, wireless subscribers from almost every carrier were also affected by the outage. Some Verizon Communications DSL customers also saw service disrupted, because their service uses the AT&T fiber-optic cables to send its data traffic to its own nationwide network.

Sprint Nextel, whose wireless customers experienced service interruption, hasn’t provided official updates via Twitter, but the company’s spokeswoman Crystal Davis has also been updating customers and reporters via her Twitter feed. Davis’ most recent tweet indicated the company still had no idea when service would be restored.

“Still working w/ our network and disaster recovery team on fiber cut issue in CA.”

An earlier message tried to offer encouragement to those affected:

“Assessing fibercut issue in CA w/ network + emergency response team. We’re all in this together folks. Let’s have a day of peace in telecom.”

Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, has also sent updates with links to news stories about the outage. He even sent a message to AT&T’s media relations representatives asking who reporters should call for updates.

“@ATTNews Understand spokesperson has been tough for reporters to reach at AT&T on Silicon Valley outage. Who should they call for info?”

While hundreds of messages were sent back and forth on Twitter throughout the day among angry customers looking for more information on what has been happening, some affected business customers were also using Twitter and other social-networking forums to keep their customers updated on the outage.

For example San Francisco-based VerticalResponse has been following AT&T’s updates via Twitter, and it’s also been updating its own customers using Twitter. VerticalResponse works with roughly 56,000 small-business customers to distribute direct email marketing campaigns. And even though the company is based in San Francisco, its servers are collocated in Palo Alto, which was affected by the outage.

For most of the day, VerticalResponse was unable to send marketing campaigns on behalf of its customers. And because the company was disconnected from the Net, it also had no way to communicate with its customers through its corporate e-mail system.

So instead the company leveraged several social-networking platforms, including Twitter, to get the word out to its customers about what was happening. Instead of coming into the office, most of the company’s employees stayed home, or went to coffee shops in San Francisco where they could get Internet access.

“Our clients are pretty pissed,” said VerticalResponse’s CEO Janine Popick. “And rightly so. When something like happens you just have to throw your hands up. There’s nothing you can do. But the good news is we have been building up a Twitter base, and we have nearly 4,000 people as part of our online community, so we can communicate directly with them through Twitter or Facebook or some other social networking medium.”

Amen for Twitter. But the big question still remains, “When will AT&T fix this mess?” I guess you’ll have to check Twitter to know exactly when. VerticalResponse’s most recent tweet indicates that its servers are up and running. And the company has sent all its email campaigns for the day.

This article was originally posted on CNET News.

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BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. is suing fellow mobile phone manufacturer Motorola Inc., alleging it is improperly blocking it from hiring laid-off employees, according to a report.

The two companies signed an agreement earlier this year not to poach each other’s employees, but the deal expired in August and is no longer enforceable, according to court documents obtained by Bloomberg News.

Motorola is now trying to expand the deal “to prevent the RIM entities from hiring any Motorola employees, including the thousands of employees Motorola has already fired or will fire,” the documents said. The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in Illinois state court in Chicago.

Waterloo, Ont.-based RIM could not be reached on Wednesday to confirm the filing.

The company’s lawsuit comes three months after Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Ill., sued RIM for allegedly breaking their agreement. Motorola asked a judge to prevent RIM from soliciting or hiring any of its employees or using its confidential information, Bloomberg reported.

RIM and Motorola are competitors in the market for smartphones and are not strangers to suing each other. The two companies filed lawsuits earlier this year, each alleging the other had violated its patents.

Motorola in November announced it would lay off 3,000 employees.

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Survey of more than 1,000 Internet activists, journalists, and technologists about tech life in 2020 finds expectations of haptic and voice interfaces.

This was originally published in CNET News.

Step aside, keyboards, laptops, and 9-to-5 jobs. A survey of more than 1,000 Internet activists, journalists, and technologists released Sunday speculates that by 2012, those quaint relics of 20th century life will fade away.

It’s not a formal survey of the sort that, say, political pollsters use. Nor are computer journalists especially known for their prognosticative abilities. Still, the Pew Internet and American Life Project hopes the effort will provide a glimpse of the best current thinking about how online life will evolve in the next decade or so.

Lee Rainie and the other Pew researchers asked their survey respondents to respond to a series of questions about 2020 future scenarios, including whether the mobile phone will be the “primary” Internet connection (most agreed), whether copy protection will flourish (most disagreed), and whether transparency “heightens individual integrity and forgiveness (evenly split).

The rough consensus was that “few lines divide professional time from personal time,” and that professionals are happy with the way work and play are “seamlessly integrated in most of these workers’ lives.”

Another, which also met with broad agreement: “Talk and touch are common technology interfaces. People have adjusted to hearing individuals dictating information in public to their computing devices. In addition ‘haptic’ technologies based on touch feedback have been fully developed, so, for instance, a small handheld Internet appliance allows you to display and use a full-size virtual keyboard on any flat surface for those moments when you would prefer not to talk aloud to your networked computer.”

One respondent was Google chief economist Hal Varian, who said: “The big problem with the cell phone is the (user interface), particularly on the data side. We are waiting for a breakthrough.”

It’s easier to read the report itself, which you can find here (PDF). This is Pew’s third report in the series; further reading can be found in its 2005 first survey (PDF) and 2006 second survey (PDF).

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 160_computer_email.jpgYour cell phone or mp3 player could soon be sporting a more powerful memory as computer chip manufacturer Freescale Semiconductor Inc. announces a new high-endurance memory chip that claims to combine the power of several chips in one.

After a decade in the works, Freescale created a chip that has the endurance of traditional computer memory but with the ability to store data while powered down like a hard drive.

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