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NEW YORK —
“Net neutrality” regulations, designed to prevent internet service providers like Verizon, AT&T, Comcast and Charter from favoring some sites and apps over others, have been repealed. On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to dismantle Obama-era rules that have been in place since 2015, but will forbid states to put anything similar in place.
Here’s a look at what the developments mean for consumers and companies.
What is net neutrality?
Net neutrality is the principle that internet providers treat all web traffic equally, and it’s pretty much how the internet has worked since its creation. But regulators, consumer advocates and internet companies were concerned about what broadband companies could do with their power as the pathway to the internet — blocking or slowing down apps that rival their own services, for example.
What did the governments do about it?
The FCC in 2015 approved rules, on a party-line vote, that made sure cable and phone companies don’t manipulate traffic. With them in place, a provider such as Comcast can’t charge Netflix for a faster path to its customers, or block it or slow it down.
The net neutrality rules gave the FCC power to go after companies for business practices that weren’t explicitly banned as well. For example, the Obama FCC said that “zero rating” practices by AT&T violated net neutrality. The telecom giant exempted its own video app from cellphone data caps, which would save some consumers money, and said video rivals could pay for the same treatment. Pai’s FCC spiked the effort to go after AT&T, even before it began rolling out a plan to undo the net neutrality rules entirely.
A federal appeals court upheld the rules in 2016 after broadband providers sued.
Big telecom companies hated net neutrality’s stricter regulation and have fought them fiercely in court. They said the regulations could undermine investment in broadband and introduced uncertainty about what were acceptable business practices. There were concerns about potential price regulation, even though the FCC had said it won’t set prices for consumer internet service.
Internet companies such as Google have strongly backed net neutrality, but many tech firms were more muted in their activism this year. Netflix, which had been vocal in support of the rules in 2015, said in January that weaker net neutrality wouldn’t hurt it because it’s now too popular with users for broadband providers to interfere.
What happens next
With the rules repealed, net-neutrality advocates say it will be harder for the government to crack down on internet providers who act against consumer interests and will harm innovation in the long-run. Those who criticize the rules say the repeal is good for investment in broadband networks.
But advocates aren’t sitting still. Some groups plan lawsuits to challenge the FCC’s move, and Democrats — energized by public protests in support of net neutrality — think it might be a winning political issue for them in 2018 congressional elections. (VOA)
Facebook-owned WhatsApp has finally started rolling out end-to-end encrypted chat backups for iOS and Android users globally. With the new update, if a user chooses to back up his chat history with end-to-end encryption, it will be accessible only to him, and no one will be able to unlock the backup. Neither WhatsApp nor the backup service provider will be able to access their end-to-end encryption backup.
"With end-to-end encrypted backups, no other messaging service at WhatsApp's scale will provide this level of security for people's messages -- from sending and transit, to receiving and storing in the cloud," the company said in a post. The feature will be rolling out "slowly" for people on the latest version of the app.
he feature will be rolling out "slowly" for people on the latest version of the app. | Photo by AARN GIRI on Unsplash
Once the feature rolls out, open WhatsApp, go to Settings > Chats > Chat Backups > End-to-End Encrypted Backup, and then follow the prompts. One can now secure their end-to-end encrypted backup with either a password of their choice or a 64-digit encryption key which means that no one else but only the user will be able to access the backup.
"This feature will provide people with more privacy and security for their digital conversations and that's a responsibility that we don't take lightly. Given this, we are rolling this out slowly to ensure a consistent and reliable user experience for people on iOS and Android around the world," the company added. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: encryption, encrypted, whatsapp, people, backup, End-to-end Encryption
A luxurious house makeover might seem to be an expensive and overwhelming task but it doesn't necessarily have to drill holes in your pocket. A few small changes and the right decor pieces can make a huge difference to the way your home looks. Keyur Zaveri, VP of Design at Furlenco shares some ideas that could give your home a rich look.
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication
While it may feel intuitive to keep adding expensive decor to your home to give it the luxurious touch, in today's ageless is really more. Simplifying your space can give your home a classy look. Invest in a few accent decor pieces - a lamp, wall art, decor for a centre table that are cohesive and work well together in the theme of your room as opposed to having numerous things that do not look like they belong together. Resist the temptation to buy over-the-top accessories and unnecessary furniture, which make your home look bulky.
Resist the temptation to buy over-the-top accessories and unnecessary furniture, which make your home look bulky. | Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash
The most important part of creating a luxurious house is to add furniture that is comfortable and elegant. Good furniture, paired with stylish soft furnishings is the first step to creating a beautiful house. Pillows & Cushions of various sizes and accent throws can instantly make a home feel more inviting. Play around with the colours and fabrics of the furniture and find soft furnishing that complements the centrepieces. Invest in good quality fabrics like velvet, linen or suede to upholster your furniture. You can even try textured fabrics like denim blue and faux leather.
Pillows & Cushions of various sizes and accent throws can instantly make a home feel more inviting. | Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Lighting can make all the difference to the vibe of your house and help you create a luxurious, beautiful looking space. Using multiple sources of light that draw attention to various corners in the house can make a space look very well put together. Invest in ceiling lamps, floor lamps, table lamps, and accent light fixtures to highlight your favourite areas in the house. While it is advisable to keep a single colour and tone of light, the intensity and direction can be played around to enhance the ambience of the space.
Lighting can make all the difference to the vibe of your house and help you create a luxurious, beautiful looking space. | Photo by Karan Nagpal on Unsplash
Layering works wonders everywhere- be it a chic coat or blazer over your outfit that adds extra charm, or adding decor pieces to your furniture for a luxe look. Carpets add splendour and exquisiteness, instantly changing the way a room looks. Area rugs under tables and sofas help in defining spaces and can blend together the whole look. Experiment with some elegant runners near your beds, on top of your dining tables, or even your bathrooms. You can also add wall coverings and window coverings for a more inclusive aesthetic.
Area rugs under tables and sofas help in defining spaces and can blend together the whole look. | Photo by Sina Saadatmand on Unsplash
You can add a small yet noticeable metallic touch to upgrade your interiors. However, you must be careful to not overdo it; the key to going bling is to keep the metallic accessories minimal. Consider golds, bronzes, copper or silver hues and incorporate them in cushions, lamps, accent walls, lighting fixtures, or centrepieces. You should ensure that each finish is a thoughtful addition to your space.
You can add a small yet noticeable metallic touch to upgrade your interiors. | Photo by Stephanie Harvey on Unsplash
Incorporating these tips can do wonders for your home decor. You can make your home luxurious, without costing an arm and a leg. More than anything it's about making the right choices that give your house look clean and classy.
(Article originally published on IANS Life) (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: metallic, lighting, fabrics, invest, luxurious, furniture
India may not see a billion smartphone users even by the end of this decade and there are seven key challenges to achieve 100 per cent smartphone penetration, according to a new report. With the shrinking addressable base for smartphones, India is likely to have 887.4 million smartphone users by 2030, said the report by Gurugram-based market intelligence firm techARC.
The new smartphone user acquisition has been on a decline since 2018, after 4G drove switch to smartphones as it ushered several new use cases and forced feature phone users to upgrade. This, however, is not the case with 5G, which can substantially bring out a new use case for the mobile users compelling the feature phone users to move to a smartphone.
Affordability is the first concern even if users would discover their own use cases. "This is on account of both - investment in the device and the recurring data cost. Even to own a device, it's a substantial increase in the outlay for around 200-250 million users who cannot spent more than Rs 1,500 on a mobile device," said Faisal Kawoosa, Founder and Chief Analyst, techARC.
Even to own a device, it's a substantial increase in the outlay for around 200-250 million users who cannot spent more than Rs 1,500 on a mobile device. | Photo by rupixen.com on Unsplash
Second reason is that there are no models that could self-subsidise the smartphones for this potential audience, who are on the other side of the fence waiting to join the smartphone arena. "Advertising-based revenue and value-added driven revenues are negligible for such audiences where advertisers would not be ready to spend much as this is not their target audience," the report mentioned. So, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cannot work out any model of recovering partial cost of the device upfront and then realising the gap in due course through other streams.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) cannot work out any model of recovering partial cost of the device upfront and then realising the gap in due course through other streams. | Photo by Zac Ong on Unsplash
The third key reason is that the OEM ecosystem is gradually moving away from the entry segment. All major OEMs have disinvested out of the entry segment (less than Rs 5,000) where the first-time smartphone user would fall. Rather OEMs are moving to higher average selling price (ASP) as consumers are willing to spend more (15-35 per cent) on their next upgrade/replacement of smartphones.
The fourth reason is that the OEMs are adding more features and functions to their smartphones to facilitate paying users leverage more from the device by consuming content and other services, which are subscription based. The interest of OEMs is gradually moving in this direction, where they could increase the lifetime value (LTV) per smartphone user by getting a pie of the services that the users are paying for.
"Another reason is that attempts such as a hybrid smart-feature phone, haven't paid off well. Though it has got in additional 80-85 million users into the digital ecosystem using fundamental digital services, majority of the featurephone users haven't accepted this 'workaround' wholeheartedly," said Kawoosa.
Attempts such as a hybrid smart-feature phone, haven't paid off well. | Photo by The Average Tech Guy on Unsplash
The sixth reason is that globally, we are witnessing prices of components going up on the one or another pretext. This is only forcing the OEMs to increase the cost of the devices and in a very hypersensitive market like smartphones, it is very challenging for the OEMs to frequently trade-off between input costs and the market opportunities.
Globally, we are witnessing prices of components going up on the one or another pretext. | Photo by Yiorgos Ntrahas on Unsplash
Finally, the entire smartphone ecosystem is interested in investing in opportunities which are rewarding. For example, when we compare education and gaming as two areas of immense opportunity, the entire smartphone ecosystem has preferred to make considerable investments in gaming than education. "There is hardly any OEM focusing on making devices affordable so that more and more students could benefit from digital means of education. But over the past two years, we have seen several OEMs making gaming smartphones in the affordable segments," the report argued. The result: At 4.9 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for smartphone subscriber growth, India may not have a billion smartphone users even by 2030. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: gaming, education, affordable, market, report, reason, device