We’re heading into an age of unlimited data, and while most of the major carriers have adopted an unlimited plan of some kind, mobile virtual network operators, or carriers that use other carriers’ networks, haven’t really embraced the concept just yet. Google, however, seems to be making moves to change that with Project Fi. In fact, the company just announced its new “Bill Protection” program that will cap the amount you’ll pay each month for data.
To date, Google Project Fi has adopted a $10-per-1GB rate for data. You basically tell Google how much data you think you’ll use each month, and then either get reimbursed for data you didn’t use, or you pay a little extra if you go over that amount. Bill Protection changes that a little — you’ll still pay $10 per 1GB, but if you go over 6GB of data, your bill will be capped at $60. Combined with the $20-per-month base fee for Project Fi, that means you won’t ever pay more than $80 in one month unless you choose to.
Google also notes that those who use more than 15GB of data may see a decrease in their speed. Less than 1 percent of Project Fi users currently use more than 15GB of data, though that could very easily change with cheaper access to that much data. You can also opt out of the slow data speeds by simply continuing to pay $10 per 1GB — though obviously that will get a lot more expensive.
The plan is different than other unlimited data plans, and in a way that could make it a lot cheaper. Why? Because on months where you don’t need as much data, you won’t have to pay for it. If you use 1GB in a month on T-Mobile‘s unlimited data plan, you still have to pay $70 for your plan. If you use 1GB on Project Fi, you’ll only pay $30 ($10 for the data, $20 for the base fee).
Bill Protection is rolling out today, and if you’re a Project Fi subscriber, you’ll see it show up in your next billing cycle. New subscribers may want to think about joining — Google is offering up to $120 off some of the phones that work on Project Fi for a limited time.
But it’s not over yet. Moments after the Restoring Internet Freedom declaratory ruling was passed by the FCC, a handful of individual states rose to challenge the decision, led by noteworthy supporters of the net neutrality bill. These challenges range from legal challenges by state attorneys general to lawmakers in California and Washington pledging to propose net neutrality-style laws for their own states.
The legal challenge from New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman comes after his own investigation into allegedly faked comments left by a bot during the FCC’s public feedback process. This bot posted thousands of identical messages, using the names of thousands of unaware Americans — an act Schneiderman claims would have given the FCC a false impression of the popularity of the repeal. His open letter to the FCC was joined by attorneys general from 18 states, and it’s fairly safe to assume at least a few of those states will sign on to Schneiderman’s lawsuit against the FCC.
Two months after Schneidermann issued his challenge, the legal fight began in earnest on Tuesday, January 16. Now joined by 21 other state attorneys general (bringing the total to 22), Schneidermann is challenging the repeal on the grounds that it broke federal law. Calling it “arbitrary and capricious”, Schneidermann hopes to prove that by repealing net neutrality, the FCC has reversed its policy of preventing internet providers from blocking websites or charging for faster loading times, and essentially handed the companies the chance to become gatekeepers to the internet.
Another challenging the legality of the repeal is Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson; an official news release on Dec. 14 stated his intention to challenge the ruling. Claiming the repeal violates the Administrative Procedure Act, Ferguson is following the line set by Washington Governer Jay Inslee, who announced before the vote that Washington would be looking to introduce regulations to protect consumers in its state.
California State Senator Scott Weiner, a democrat, is also looking to introduce new regulations. Shortly after the vote, Weiner wrote on Medium that he would introduce legislation to mimic net neutrality in his state. Scott echoed the fears of many opponents of the repeal, stating “providers are now free to manipulate web traffic on their networks, which means they can speed or slow traffic to certain sites and even block access” — fears that were exacerbated in November when Comcast retracted part of its open internet pledge, and in July when Verizon was accused of throttling video services as a “test.”
Perhaps the largest foe of the repeal is the entire Democratic party. The Democrats have been staunch supporters of net neutrality — which makes sense, since they put it in place. The Hill reports that the Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer is planning on using the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse the FCC’s decision. The CRA was extensively used by Republicans to roll back a lot of later Obama-era legislation at the start of the year, so it’s ironic for the Democrats to now use that same tactic against the Republicans.
The FCC’s vote clearly wasn’t the end for the fight for the internet — and the battle for net neutrality is only just beginning.
Update: The legal challenge has begun as Schneidermann takes on the repeal, claiming it broke federal laws. Also added details on the legal challenge by Mozilla and the Free Press.
BMW has long provided its customers with reliable automobiles to transport them from one destination to the next, but it hasn’t always been concerned with what happens once customers have reached Point B. That is, until today. BMW has acquired Parkmobile, an app that helps folks look for parking space in North America, which means that the German automaker will now be with you at just about every point of your driving journey. The move isn’t a complete surprise considering that BMW Group has maintained a minority stake in Parkmobile since 2014. Now the company has now absorbed the app and its more than 100 employees altogether.
BMW says this acquisition makes it the “leading international provider of digital parking solutions.” And given that Parkmobile is available in more than 300 cities in the U.S. and processed 50 million transactions in North America last year from more than 8 million registered users, BMW’s bold new claim seems substantiated.
“Up to 30 percent of city traffic is caused by people looking for parking spaces. The acquisition of Parkmobile … makes us the leading international provider of digital parking solutions and means we can better address the pain point of parking by scaling our offering for customers worldwide,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, a member of the board of management for BMW AG.
Of course, you will not have to own a BMW in order to use Parkmobile’s services. Rather, the app allows drivers to find legal and free parking on the street, or off-street parking in garages and other infrastructure. And by making parking a more efficient process, BMW hopes that its new portfolio company can help reduce emissions in cities, as well as cut down on traffic. Parkmobile can also be used to find other transit-related services, aiding in BMW’s broader strategy to improve urban mobility.
“The BMW Group has always been on the forefront of disruptive mobility technology,” said Jon Ziglar, CEO of Parkmobile. “Having access to new capital as well as the BMW Group’s global network of partners and customers puts us in an excellent position to accelerate our growth and expand further beyond North America.”
It’s a new year, and that means another chance to reinvent yourself (or at least consider the idea). If you’ve been unhappy at work for a while now, maybe it’s time to start looking elsewhere. But are your skills likeso 2010?
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Amid the numerous Amazon Prime perks, there are a few lesser-known gems. For instance, did you know that Amazon Prime subscribers can augment their already extensive Instant Video library by subscribing to more than 100 different “channels,” and that several of those channels can be watched live? In essence, Amazon Prime can supplant a cable TV subscription, much like the numerous other services out there such as Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, Hulu Live TV, and more. However, until now, Amazon’s handling of its live TV content has held it back and while Amazon Prime isn’t yet a true competitor to the likes of Sling TV and its rivals, Prime has taken the first step by adding some important new features that make watching a finding live content easier.
On Tuesday, January 16, Amazon is adding a search functionality to its Fire TV streaming devices, which will allow Amazon Prime subscribers to browse all live content on select premium channels. Specifically, HBO, Cinemax, Stars, and Showtime will have a dedicated “On Now” column on the Fire TV homepage. As the name implies, whatever is currently being aired on those channels will show up here, and can be viewed simply by selecting the channel. Another new inclusion is the channel guide feature, which will show all video programming, including what’s currently airing live, as well as what you will be able to watch later.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an Amazon announcement if Alexa wasn’t involved. Users will be able to use the same Alexa commands they always have to browse content, but Alexa will now pull up whatever channel you want to watch when specified, and can be used to open and browse the channel guide and On Now sections of the Fire TV interface.
While HBO, Cinemax, Stars, and Showtime are currently the only supported channels, Amazon promises more channels will be added soon.
Bear in mind that in order to see HBO, Showtime, et cetera, in the On Now feed, you must be subscribed to the supported channels through Amazon Channels. If you watch any of these channels via other means — such as an HBO Go account, or as an add-on for another service — they won’t be available.
All Fire TV users will find the channel guide available now, while those with the necessary channel subscriptions will have immediate access to the On Now feed as well. If you aren’t yet subscribed to these channels through Amazon, a free trial is available to check them out.