Smart meter installation hits Texan resistance

The installation of smart meters is running into fierce resistance in the state of Texas, where homeowners are going to extreme lengths to prevent it from happening, according to a report from Associated Press.

Consumer report says Ford touch-screen system "stinks"

Reuters

An influential consumer magazine on Wednesday lambasted Ford Motor Co's touch-screen entertainment and navigation system, saying it is distracting, clumsy and overly complex.

"MyFord Touch still frustrates us like few other control systems in any other brand's automobiles," Consumer Reports said in a blog post. "And worse, it is influencing competitors."

PayPal deepens retail drive in Discover payments deal

Reuters

EBay Inc's PayPal (San Jose, USA) online payments service has gained access to millions of stores across the United States through an agreement with Discover Financial Services (Riverwoods, USA), extending its reach beyond the Web and into the physical world.

Under the deal unveiled on Wednesday, PayPal will issue payment cards to its more than 50 million active users in the United States next year, which they can use to buy from merchants that already use Discover Network, which links more than 7 million U.S. retail locations.

Porto Seguro launches M2M vehicle service in Brazil

Insurance company Porto Seguro (Sao Paolo, Brazil) has launched its first M2M offer in Brazil, providing a service that allows it to track and monitor the driving of its automotive customers.

The company began testing the service in February and started installing SIM cards in vehicles in June.

It is currently providing the M2M service to about 2,000 vehicles owned by insurance customers and aims to serve around 450,000 vehicles by 2014.

Landis+Gyr to help build smart grid on Guam

Smart meter specialist Landis+Gyr (Zug, Switzerland) has been chosen to help build a smart grid on the island of Guam.

The Guam Power Authority (GPA), which provides electric power across the US territory, plans to deploy more than 52,000 advanced meters over the next two years.

It plans to use Landis+Gyr’s Gridstream RF network as a backbone for possible communication with other grid devices and home area network applications in the future.

The meters themselves are to incorporate integrated service switch and ZigBee capabilities.

Telefonica and Arduino team up on M2M

Spanish telecoms operator Telefónica (Madrid, Spain) has teamed up with electronics specialist Arduino (London, UK) on the development of a new programmable electronic board with M2M capabilities.

Arduino boards are already used to connect sensors and control applications ranging from lighting to motors, but the new-look board developed with the Spanish operator incorporates remote monitoring capabilities, with a GPRS/GSM connection that links the hardware motherboard with Telefónica’s M2M service.

China Unicom hit by 3G competition

Rising handset subsidies led to a 2% year-on-year fall in profit at China Unicom (Beijing, China) for the second quarter of the year.

China’s second-biggest mobile operator reported net profit of 2.42 billion yuan ($381 million) as it increased spending on smartphones in a bid to lure more Chinese consumers on to its 3G networks.

Even so, the results were slightly better than expected, based on a poll of six analysts conducted by Reuters, due to a drop in depreciation expenses.

Brazil considers auction of new 4G spectrum

The president of Brazil’s telecoms regulator has told Bloomberg that his country is considering an auction of spectrum in the 700MHz band for use with 4G wireless services.

The spectrum is currently used for television broadcasting in Brazil but will become free when Globo Comunicacao e Participacoes SA and Grupo Record, among other TV networks, complete their transition to digital broadcasting from analog signals.

The networks have been forced to complete that transition by June 2016 under a presidential decree of June 2006.

Telecom New Zealand profit boosted by Chorus demerger

Telecom New Zealand has reported huge gains in profitability thanks to one-off adjustments related to the demerger of its infrastructure business in December last year.

New Zealand’s incumbent operator reported net profit of NZ$1.2 billion ($973 million) for 2012, compared with just NZ$166 million last year, several months after agreeing to spin off Chorus.

The company agreed to the separation under pressure from the New Zealand government, but Chorus was subsequently awarded the bulk of contracts to build a new fibre-optic broadband network across the country.

FCC suspends flexible pricing on coveted broadband lines

Reuters

Regulators have temporarily suspended pricing flexibility rules for high-capacity broadband lines, raising hopes for companies that say Verizon Communications Inc and AT&T Inc have overcharged them billions of dollars for access to the lines in recent years.

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