Jul 03

TechLatino’s Statement on DISH Stops Carrying Univision at this Important Time.

dish-univision-logoOver the weekend, DISH Network stopped carrying Univision’s networks and stations over a contract dispute. This is outrageous, especially as Univision offered a two-week extension so that DISH’s customers could continue receiving popular and important Spanish-language programming, including news about the crisis at the border while the companies continued negotiations. DISH even went as far to stop carrying Univision on the eve of the Mexican elections. 

“When our community needs access to the information on what’s happening to our immigrant families on the border most. It is unacceptable for #Dish to walk away from the negotiation table,” said Jose Marquez-Leon, CEO @TechLatino.  Where is the commitment to diversity & Latino community? 

DISH has claimed that Univision is asking for more money but has not denied that it is refusing to pay for Spanish-language programming on par with what it pays for English-language programming.  My question to DISH – why won’t you pay Univision the same rates you pay its peers for English-language programming?  Spanish-language programming should not be relegated to second-class status, especially given DISH’s extensive marketing to our Hispanic communities.

All interested parties must come to the negotiation table in good faith and remember the community you serve. #QuieroMiUnivision

Please join me in calling DISH at 1-800-500-4252  or tweeting @DISH to tell it that we expect DISH to restore Univision’s networks immediately and negotiate a fair and equitable deal that doesn’t undervalue Spanish-language programming or the Hispanic community. 

Jul 02

Oculus TV is now available: VR gets its own streaming-TV hub

VRFacebook promised to make VR a lot more social back in May when the $199 Oculus Go debuted, announcing a handful of new apps to bring people together while goggled in. Oculus Venues, a live event viewing platform that mixes large crowds of virtual avatars and streaming video, was the first.

Oculus TV is the second, and it’s now available on Oculus Go (but not Samsung Gear VR) with a bunch of new video streaming apps. It aims to be a central place to find all the streaming videos to watch when you have your VR headset on your face. But it doesn’t have the most promising feature yet: social viewing with Oculus friends won’t arrive until later this year. For now, it’s a solo experience.

Do I want this? Well, I tried it out over the weekend.

Oculus TV is all about old-fashioned, flat-screen 2D entertainment, but viewed in your otherwise 3D VR goggles. I’ve been using it over the weekend, and while it’s a fine way to check out a show, watching 2D videos in VR just isn’t something I need to do.

There are already plenty of ways to watch videos and movies in Oculus’ mobile headsets: Oculus Video, which looks like a giant movie theater, was a launch app when the Gear VR arrived in 2014. Standalone Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, Pluto and other apps browse streaming video, too.

Oculus TV launches into a sleek little virtual living room screen in front of a sofa, just like Hulu, Netflix, and other VR apps already do. The browser tries to help discover content (the early build I tried only discovered Facebook videos, Red Bull TV and Pluto: Netflix, Hulu and Showtime shows weren’t there yet). In addition, each streaming app can be launched from within the Oculus TV app.

I start by seeing some neighbor’s home videos that appear via Facebook (and a colleague whose kid’s throwing knives, I guess.) I end up watching Red Bull TV’s skateboard roller coaster challenge. I find myself streaming CNET Roadshow videos on Pluto, and old episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

To Oculus TV’s credit, watching videos is better than I’ve tried on any other VR headset. But I didn’t get to try watching with others: Social would be where this could finally be fun. Without that social experience, it’s a lot less compelling.

 

Jun 30

Univision’s Statement Regarding DISH’s Rejection of Extension Offer and Interruption of Service

univision_logo_720px-600x546It is outrageous that DISH has rejected our offer of a two-week contract extension to allow its customers and our viewers to continue to have access to Univision’s highly rated networks and stations. While DISH has routinely used blackouts against broadcasters—its 68 broadcast blackouts since 2010 are significantly more than any other distributor in that time — Univision expected DISH to take our negotiations and its commitment to Hispanic consumers seriously when it told its customers this week that it wanted to “reach a mutually beneficial deal” for Univision’s “high quality content.”

Instead of fulfilling its promise to its customers, DISH has chosen to devalue our programming, disingenuously offering a fraction of what it pays our English-language peers. We stand ready to continue negotiations and enter into a short-term extension to restore service, especially with DISH customers missing our coverage of the Mexican Presidential Election, which many are calling “the biggest election in Mexican history.” DISH should do right by its Spanish-speaking audiences, agree to restore service, and negotiate a good faith agreement.

***

Es indignante que DISH haya rechazado nuestra oferta de una prorrogación de dos semanas a nuestro contrato para permitir que sus clientes y nuestros televidentes sigan teniendo acceso a las populares cadenas y estaciones de Univision. Por más que DISH haya usado interrupciones de servicio rutinariamente en contra de sus difusoras —sus 68 interrupciones de trasmisión desde 2010 superan con mucho las de todos los demás distribuidores en ese periodo— Univision esperaba que DISH tomara en serio nuestras negociaciones y su compromiso con los consumidores hispanos después de que les dijo a sus clientes esta semana que quería “llegar a un acuerdo de beneficio mutuo” respecto al “contenido de alta calidad” de Univision.

En vez de cumplir su promesa a sus clientes, DISH ha decidido devaluar nuestra programación ofreciendo inverosímilmente una fracción de lo que les paga a nuestros homólogos en inglés. Estamos listos para continuar las negociaciones y aceptar una breve prórroga a fin de que se restablezca el servicio, en particular porque los clientes de DISH se están perdiendo nuestra cobertura de las elecciones presidenciales en México, que muchos describen como las más importantes en la historia de ese país. DISH debe hacer lo correcto a favor de su audiencia hispanohablante, aceptar restablecer el servicio y negociar un acuerdo de buena fe.

Jun 29

TechLatino applauds Senators Thune and Schatz

BA0AFA71-6095-474E-BE1C-768F53AF276A

TechLatino applauds Senators Thune and Schatz for working on bipartisan legislation to streamline next-generation wireless deployment critical to our future and economic outlook. This bill introduction provides a strong starting point to make it easier to provide more advanced wireless to more communities.

Thune-Schatz expands both consumer and job opportunities not only in the Senators’ home states of South Dakota and Hawaii, but in communities everywhere. For the Latino community, this bill enhances the wireless technologies we utilize in record numbers. Above all, we recognize that our U.S. communities benefit when our country continues to remain a leader in wireless advancement

May 30

What Happens to Sprint if the T-Mobile Deal Fails?

ceo-sprint-tmobileWhat’s happening now?

After multiple failed attempts at merging, the number three and four wireless carriers have reached a deal wherein Sprint shareholders receive 0.10256 shares of T-Mobile for each Sprint share or 9.75 Sprint shares for each T-Mobile share. That puts Sprint’s enterprise value at $59 billion, and the value of the combined company at $146 billion.

The new entity will be called T-Mobile; no decision has been made yet as to whether the Sprint brand will continue to exist. T-Mobile CEO John Legere will lead the new company, and Claure will serve on its board.

Should the deal be approved, the combined company would be able to save about $6 billion each year through cost synergies. It would also be in a better position when it comes to the costs and spectrum needed to build out its next-generation 5G network.

What might go wrong?

Under President Barack Obama, federal regulators made it very clear that they would not approve any deal that took Sprint, T-Mobile or, in less-likely scenarios, AT&T or Verizon off the board. Now, however, it can be argued that cable companies have entered the wireless space, making the big four perhaps less important to overall competition.

That’s at least part of the argument Sprint and T-Mobile plan to make: Without combining, they won’t be able to take on AT&T and Verizon. For Sprint, that might indeed be the case.

What happens to Sprint if the deal gets denied?

If federal regulators deny the deal or ask for concessions that make T-Mobile walk away, Sprint will be in a challenging position. The capital commitments necessary to remain competitive are significant, and the company has only been able to raise its subscriber count by offering extreme discounts.

Thus on its own Sprint would face very long odds. That makes it likely the company would pursue another merger, or at least a strong strategic alliance. Perhaps the most-logical partner would be DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH). Both companies are in the subscription business, and 5G might be a viable method for delivering DISH’s Sling TV live-streaming television service.

Other merger possibilities would include two big cable companies that have put toes into the wireless space, Comcast and Charter. Sprint had explored a merger or significant partnership with each company after its previous attempt at a T-Mobile deal through an exclusive negotiating period in the summer of 2017.

Sprint can’t go it alone

The number-four wireless carrier needs a partner: If it stays on its own, it risks being spent out of existence by its three more-successful rivals.

Sprint on its own has no identity. It isn’t the maverick outsider like T-Mobile, nor is it the bastion of quality that consumers believe AT&T and Verizon are. On its own, Sprint is the company that will give you really cheap prices, and that’s not a tenable long-term strategy.

If the T-Mobile deal does not happen, Sprint will have to find a new partner. There aren’t many good choices, so the deal may not be all that favorable — but at least the company will likely have some suitors.

May 24

Guest Blogger Jan Rabney: What is 5G? The Next Generation of Wireless, Explained

rabaeyEvery decade or so, the wireless industry rolls out a new cellular  communications standard that can transmit more data more quickly. Already under development is the next round, called “5G” because it’s the fifth major generation of these standards for encoding and transmitting data over radio waves.

The first generation, retroactively called 1G, was a fully analog system for transmitting voice. In contrast, 2G phones transmitted voice and data digitally. Subsequent generations, 3G in 2000 and 4G in 2010, made technical improvements that brought data rates up from 200 kilobits per second to hundreds of megabits per second. With 2020 approaching, 5G is expected to transmit 1 gigabit per second – and perhaps as many as 10.

Being able to send and receive that much data so quickly opens new opportunities for augmented and virtual reality systems, as well as automation.

For instance, self-driving cars could communicate with each other, road signs, traffic signals, guard rails and other elements human drivers simply see. That would require an additional technical leap – reducing what is called “latency,” or the delay between when a signal is sent and when it’s received, to 1 millisecond. (If a network’s data rate is how wide a garden hose is, latency is how long it takes from the moment the spigot is turned on until water comes out the end.)

Shorter delays in data transmission

Latency, the delay between when a signal is sent and when it’s received, has dropped with every generation of mobile data technology.

Achieving high data rates with low latency requires a number of technical changes, including sending data using higher radio frequencies and designing arrays of antennas to reduce interference between many devices all communicating at the same time. Together these add up to a 5G network with many more base stations – each of which is physically smaller than a current cellular tower and placed much more closely together. 5G base stations could be placed every 250 meters, rather than the every 1 to 5 km needed for 4G.

In addition, 5G systems offer the possibility of providing reliable connections to massive numbers of wireless devices simultaneously. This could enable a huge expansion of the number of “internet of things” devices in use, monitoring nutrients in soil for farmers, package locations for shipping companies and vital signs for hospital patients, for instance.

Early 5G networks are being rolled out now in some U.S. cities. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 are supposed to present the very first showcase of the full range of what 5G technology can offer. Between now and then – and even beyond – companies rolling out 5G networks will deploy a new technology while it’s still evolving, as they did with earlier generations.

Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley

The article was originally published on The Conversation. 

May 11

As seen in the LA Times: Senate Democrats Move to Revive Net Neutrality Rules — the Wrong Way

 la-times-logo-300x300Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). (Zach Gibson / Getty Images)

Senate Democrats opened up a new front Wednesday in the fight to preserve the internet from interference by the broadband providers that control its on-ramps. But as good as it was to see them push back against the wrongheaded approach taken by the new Republican majority on the Federal Communications Commission, the maneuver is likely to be more of a distraction than a solution.

At issue is how to preserve net neutrality. Broadband providers that serve home internet users face little real competition, and they are uniquely positioned to distort competition online by, for example, favoring particular websites and services for a fee.

After several earlier net-neutrality efforts ran into legal trouble, the FCC’s Democratic majority in 2015 classified broadband access service as a utility and imposed a set of strict neutrality rules. Last year, however, the commission’s new Republican majority voted not just to rescind those rules, but effectively to drop all efforts by the FCC to preserve net neutrality.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). (Zach Gibson / Getty Images)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) speaks during a news conference on a petition to force a vote on net neutrality on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Also pictured are Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA). (Zach Gibson / Getty Images)

On Wednesday, Senate Democrats moved to force a vote on a resolution to restore the 2015 rules, and they have 50 Senators lined up in support. Yet the resolution faces next-to-insurmountable odds in the House, where top Republicans have praised the FCC’s deregulatory approach, and with like-minded President Trump. The most meaningful fights will take place in the courts and in state legislatures, where net neutrality supporters are seeking to restore the 2015 rules or impose similar ones at the state level.

Even opponents of the strict 2015 rules recognize that the continual legal and regulatory gyrations are a problem. Rather than jousting over a resolution of disapproval, Congress needs to put this issue to bed once and for all by crafting a bipartisan deal giving the commission limited but clear authority to regulate broadband providers and preserve net neutrality.

The Times Editorial Board

May 10

Uber, FedEx, Alphabet and Others will Participate in a New Government Drone Testing Program

Drone Shot

Ten states and a “who’s who of technology and aviation companies” (notably absent: Amazon) are involved in the Integration Pilot Program — the “most far-reaching” test initiative to date. The pilot will gather data on a myriad of drone uses, from transporting medical equipment to controlling mosquitoes. The burgeoning industry around drones in U.S. air space could become an $82 billion marketand create 100,000 jobs in the next ten years.   #DronesTesting

 

Apr 17

U.S. Latinos Win if U.S. Wins Race to 5G

C6D76B95-8DB8-43F0-B886-5911569C5A0DThe core mission of TechLatino is to ensure that the U.S. Latino community has a seat at the table for present and future generations to come. Latinos use wireless as our primary means of communication compared to other technologies and ethnic communities.
It is for this reason that we have championed reforms aimed at hastening the improvement of the wireless networks that our community relies on. This is also why it makes sense that the very first Latina U.S. Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), has become a champion of the wireless innovation that benefits the U.S. Latino community she hails from.
Our quickly growing population is tied to the expansion of wireless technologies. And the wireless industry is an important industry for all communities, particularly Latinos, as wireless contributes $475 billion annually to America’s economy and supports 4.7 million jobs.
The United States led the world in 4G wireless. U.S. leadership in 4G brought with it economic and job growth for its people—in fact, building 4G networks boosted wireless-related jobs by 84 percent! Given our outsized use of mobile services, this 4G win was a win for Latinos as well.
5G, the next generation of wireless, is the new frontier. 5G is slated to offer higher speeds, reduce latency, and expand real-world applications for our community’s favored technology. Latinos are the fastest-growing population in the United States, and wireless enhancements offer expanded job opportunities and access to broadband internet right from our mobile devices. 5G will mean even more opportunities for our community.
But here’s the rub. A new report finds China and South Korea are slightly ahead of the U.S. in terms of 5G readiness. Countries like China and South Korea angling to win the 5G race would siphon off opportunities and expanded access that would otherwise come here to the United States. 5G is projected to create 3 million new jobs in America. So for growing communities like Latinos, loss of leadership in next-generation 5G would drain us of opportunities waiting in the wings.
The United States is our home and we are invested in its success. U.S. Latinos are active participants in our country and our population growth means that our needs will only increase. There are significant downsides when countries are unable to maintain leadership as wireless generations evolve. For example, Europe lost tens of thousands of jobs when they fell behind in 3G. Two wireless generations later, Europe is not even among the first tier of regions ready to lead on 5G.
These potential consequences for us means that we fully support efforts to enhance networks across the country. The simple math here is that a growing population reliant on wireless, like Latinos, means that more devices will need to be supported on the networks. As the networks become more and more strained, we are looking to those who can address our needs.
Policymakers and regulators must carry on with efforts to free up airwaves and make it easier to deploy the wireless infrastructure that power wireless networks. Industry must continue to conduct testing trials to hasten the development of next-generation wireless.
TechLatino’s mission is to empower Latino communities. A U.S. loss in the 5G race would result in a world of missed opportunities for a vulnerable but resilient community like ours. Under no circumstances do Latinos want to be held back. Accordingly, we support all efforts to ensure wireless network improvement efforts help make 5G a reality.

 

About TechLatino: The Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association (LISTA).  www.techlatino.org 
Through its network of 15 affiliated community-based councils, association and partnerships with non-profit organizations, LISTA advocates on behalf of the millions of Latinos in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South America and Spain.
To achieve its mission, to educate, motivate and empower, LISTA conducts workshops and seminars, national business series, research, policy analysis, and technology awareness programs in order to provide a Latino perspective in many key areas in technology — development of the 21st century workforce, coding, health information technology, STEAM education, employment/economic status, business development cell and broadband.
In addition, it provides workshops and training to technology professionals and students in health it, big data and other technology opportunities for individuals small businesses and families. Helping Close the digital divide and giving opportunity to all.

Mar 14

@techLatino Agrees with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr and U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto Next Generation Wireless Deployment to Modernize Federal Process.

jamAs previously described by TechLatino, wireless deployment is of particular value to Latino communities, who are outsized users of mobile services when compared to other groups. As the wireless industry continues efforts to enhance networks across the country, a series of reforms have been underway to modernize federal processes to make that easier. Commissioner Brendan Carr of the Federal Communications Commission has released an order to streamline federal processes governing deployment of small cell antennas and macro towers, while respecting the authority of state and local governments. The Carr Order, in addition to legislation proposed by America’s first Latina Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, provides necessary updates required to deliver next-generation wireless service to communities nationwide.

Commissioner Carr has traveled across many regions of the country and consulted the views of minority communities to show how the Order will enhance deployment by updating federal historic preservation and environmental protection procedures. Specifically, the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”) and the 1970 National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) contain fee structures now unsuitable for the digital age, applying cost structures and procedural timelines associated with large towers in ways that negatively affect the costs and ability to the deploy small cell antennas. Increasing the costs to roll out the small cells needed over the next three to four years to enhance networks will harm communities that rely on wireless connectivity.

Pew Research data shows that mobile devices are important to Latinos across all income levels, who are less likely to own a computer or have home internet access. Latino smartphone owners are twice as likely to rely on their mobile devices to access the internet for their everyday needs. Access to mobile broadband brings with it many benefits, including employment, educational, and capital access opportunities. At the same time, next-generation wireless is slated to create 3 million new jobs.

The Latino community cannot afford to miss opportunities that this streamlining initiative will offer. Missed opportunities are exactly what will occur if our government leaders fail to pass these changes. The massive amount of funds that would be saved by these NEPA/NHPA streamlining reforms could instead be used to enhance the service that our community depends on. The Carr Order will help ensure that Latino communities across the country are not held back. TechLatino’s mission is to empower Latino communities everywhere, and therefore we support these efforts to ensure wireless network improvements become a reality.

About TechLatino: The National Association of Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology.

Through its network of 15 affiliated community-based councils, association and partnerships with non-profit organizations, LISTA advocates on behalf of the millions of Latinos in 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, South America and Spain.

To achieve its mission, to educate, motivate and empower, LISTA conducts workshops and seminars, national business series, research, policy analysis, and technology awareness programs in order to provide a Latino perspective in many key areas in technology — development of the 21st century workforce, coding, health information technology, STEAM education, employment/economic status, business development cell and broadband.

In addition, it provides workshops and training to technology professionals and students in health it, big data and other technology opportunities for individuals small businesses and families. Helping Close the digital divide and giving opportunity to all.

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