Spying AI, FCC Battles Robocalls, Oath, and More

Internet Telecom Cable Service News

By Wayne Porter -

This is your weekly internet and cable service news update for April 10, 2017. These are the top stories making industry headlines this week:


Big Brother is Watching


Internet Service Provider CenturyLink has signed an agreement to provide various federal, state and local government agencies with real-time monitoring of US citizen’s use of pharmaceutical medications, including opioid prescriptions.

The intrusion into people’s lives is provided through an agreement with EagleForce Associates, Inc. This agreement extends CenturyLink's existing big data mining and analytics practice and will help government agencies spy on citizens.

The system uses predictive analytics tools (Artificial Intelligence) to spot “improper use” like drug waste, fraud, abuse and other irregularities concerning the use of opioids and other prescription medications and report them to the authorities.

FCC Takes Step To Combat Robocalls

In late March the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry to explore ways to make it easier for telecommunications carriers to block robocalls calls. This will include spoofed calls, which fake the caller ID number to hide a caller’s real identity. Spoofing phone numbers can trick people into answering the call since they may believe it is coming from a neighbor or even the IRS.

US consumers get an estimated 2,3000,000,000 unwanted automated calls a month. That breaks down to over 50,000 a minute!

"Robocalls often take advantage of the most vulnerable members of our population. They scam elderly Americans out of their hard-earned dollars,” said FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.

The rules were developed in partnership with a group of telecom and tech companies dubbed the “Robocall Strike Force” consisting of Apple, Google, Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, and others.

Telemarketing and robocalls are currently the number one consumer complaint to the FCC.

Yahoo and AOL take the Oath

Sometime later this year Verizon will complete the purchase of Yahoo. Adding it to AOL already under its ownership. Verizon apparently did not learn from having to live their own funny name and for some reason, they are going to call the new company formed by their acquisition of AOL and Yahoo “Oath.”

Their announcement on April 3rd was seen by some as maybe an April Fools Joke a few days too late.

Yahoo was founded in January 1994 as Jerry and David’s Guide to the Web. The name was changed to Yahoo a few months later. Yahoo gets about 7 billion views a month and is the sixth most viewed website worldwide. Verizon’s purchase of Yahoo was announced on July 25, 2016.

AOL was founded in 1983 as Control Video Corporation. The name was changed to America Online in 1989. The America Online service was marketed heavily through free AOL Online CDs. At one point, half of all the CDs made in the world were AOL free trial CDs. For a few years in the early 2000s, AOL was part of AOL TimeWarner before becoming its own company again in 2008. It was purchased by Verizon in 2015.

Verizon can trace its lineage all the way back to the Bell System.

Oath, when Yahoo is finally totally absorbed, will include the Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Mapquest, Engadget, AOL, Yahoo, Tumblr, Flickr and Moviefone brands among others.

YouTube TV Rolls Out In Five Markets

YouTube TV, Google’s answer to the skinny TV bundle was released in five major U.S. markets on Wednesday. The cities that will be the first to get the OTT network are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

YouTube TV will offer live streaming from NBC, ABC, CBS, CW and Fox as well as other cable sports and entertainment channels. They are offering the first month for free and you get six account logins per household. It has unlimited DVR storage with each account.

Shows can be watched on Androids, iPads, iPhones, TVs (with Chromecast) and computers (laptops and desktops). Google Chromecast comes free after the first payment.

The cost is $35.00 per month with the ability to add Showtime for $11.00 a month and Fox Soccer plus for $15.00. It can be canceled at any time with no penalty.


Several States To Take Internet Privacy Matters Into Their Own Hands


Minnesota, Montana, Illinois and Washington are among the first states to enact Internet Privacy Rules in the absence of Federal guidelines since the US Congress repealed the FCC’s Privacy rules put in place last year.

States such as Minnesota and Washington are going for requiring the ISPs to get permission from customers before using their data. Illinois wants to include websites like Facebook and Google in requirements. Other states like Montana wants to bar ISPs from getting state contracts if they collect customers info without their consent.

Comcast Announces New Xfinity Mobile Service

Comcast introduced Xfinity Mobile, a new wireless service available with your choice of iPhone, Samsung or LG phones.

There are two data options, unlimited or pay by the gig. Pay by the gig is $12.00 per gigabyte of data used. Unlimited is $65.00 per month.

Xfinity Mobile service, which will only be available to existing Comcast customers, will be a hybrid of cellular and WiFi using Verizon’s 4G LTE network along with Comcast’s 16 million Wi-Fi hotspots.