Weekly Cell Phone News in Review–June 22, 2015

cell phone update

600 Million Samsung Galaxy Phones Exposed to Hackers
Every Samsung Galaxy device–from the S3 to the latest S6–has a significant flaw that lets in hackers, researchers have discovered. The vulnerability lives in the phones’ keyboard software, which can’t be deleted. The flaw potentially allows hackers to spy on anyone using a Samsung Galaxy phone. You can be exposed by using public or insecure Wi-Fi. But some researchers think users are exposed even on cell phone networks. Researchers at NowSecure, a cybersecurity firm, say they told Samsung about the vulnerability in November. Seven months later, nothing has been fixed. That’s why NowSecure made its findings public on Tuesday. How serious is this problem? NowSecure CEO Andrew Hoog said that, on a well-established system that ranks cybersecurity problems from 1 to 10, this vulnerability stood at 8.3. Story by Jose Pagliery for CNN Money.

FCC Fines AT&T $100 Million for Throttling Unlimited Data Customers
The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday said it planned to fine AT&T $100 million for misleading customers about their unlimited data plans. The $100 million fine will be the largest fine proposal of this type by the FCC. They accuse AT&T of not informing consumers enough about the “throttling” or reduction in speeds that would occur when those customers exceeded a certain data cap. The FCC believes AT&T failed to inform consumers about when speeds would be throttled, what speeds they would receive after throttling, and how that might affect video streaming applications. The failure to disclose that information put AT&T in violation of the 2010 Open Internet order. Story by John Oldshue for SaveOnPhone.com.

FCC Gives Phone Companies Okay to Block Robocalls, But Will They?
The Federal Communications Commission has given the nation’s phone companies the green light to block those annoying and illegal robocalls, as well as unwanted spam text messages. By a 3 to 2 vote, the FCC told the companies Thursday that they are legally allowed to provide this service to customers who request it in order to take back control of their phones. Just because the phone companies have permission to use this screening technology, however, doesn’t mean they will. The FCC can’t force them to do it. And so far, there’s been no indication they plan to provide this service. The technology already exists to protect customers from unwanted and illegal robocalls that are often used by scammers, but wireless and landline phone companies have not embraced it. Story by Herb Weisbaum for NBC News.

49ers Will Give Break Times During Practice to Check Phones, Update Statuses
If you’ve never in your life shaken your head in disgust at “These kids today,” you’re about to. Trust us. The San Francisco 49ers are in the midst of a complete franchise overhaul, resignations and retirements changing the entire character of the team. As part of that, the 49ers have consulted with Stanford University researchers to figure the best ways to reach the millennial generation. Their answer: let the players play on their phones. At first blush, it seems completely counter to every tough-guy football cliche ever: taking smartphone breaks? Really? But the more the 49ers considered it, the more it made sense, and as a result, the team takes breaks every half-hour to let the players check their phones, post status updates, and the like. Story by Jay Busbee for Yahoo Sports.

The FCC Wants to Help America’s Poorest Pay for Internet
Major upgrades are coming to a federal aid program that helps low-income Americans connect to basic communications services. The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to consider how to allow eligible Americans to purchase Internet access using government funds, in a move that recognizes high-speed Internet as a key to pulling the poor out of poverty. The decision highlights the FCC’s fast-growing role in regulating broadband. In a 3-2 vote, the agency opened a process to expand its Lifeline program—a Reagan-era plan that gives $9.25 per month to Americans who meet income requirements or who already receive some form of federal assistance. Story by Brian Fung for the Washington Post.

The U.S.’s $1.2 Billion Out-of-Control Cell Phone Bill
Every year, the federal government pays about $1.2 billion to provide federal workers with cell phones and service. But despite spending all that money, most agencies aren’t keeping track of who actually uses the phones, and they’re paying wildly different rates for service. That’s according to a new Government Accountability Office report that says most of the 15 agencies it reviewed did not have an inventory of more than 1.5 million government-issued cell phones handed out to federal workers. Instead of having agency-wide inventory policies, the auditors said, the departments delegated responsibilities to separate offices–making it even more difficult to track who (if anyone) ended up with the phones. Story by Brianna Ehley for The Fiscal Times.

Nokia Plans To Re-enter Mobile Phone Business
Nokia is planning to re-enter the mobile phone business in 2016 when it is already free from its agreement with Microsoft Corporation, according to the company’s CEO Rajeev Suri. Suri said Nokia will go back into designing and licensing mobile phones. According to him, Nokia will “look for suitable partners.” He added, “Microsoft makes mobile phones. We would simply design them and then make the brand name available to license. Nokia sold its mobile phone business to Microsoft last year for $7.2 billion The Finnish company’s manufacturing facilities in India, and South Korea was not included in the deal. Nokia agreed to license its patents to Microsoft and to stay away from the mobile phone business until 2016. Story by Marie Cabural for Value Walk.

How Apple, Google and Samsung Pitch Payments
You can learn a lot by looking at how each of the mobile payments players–at least those in the market today–tout their capabilities. What’s notable about each of the big tech “Pay” players–specifically Apple, Google and Samsung–since their respective launches is how they’ve chosen to promote their products and which companies they have promoted as part of their own mobile wallet promotions. Each promote convenience and security, but each does so in very different ways–a fact that becomes increasingly evident when looking through their marketing and promotional pushes. Story in PYMNTS.

Red Sox Bench Pablo Sandoval for Using Instagram During Game
Boston Red Sox third baseman Pablo Sandoval was benched for Boston’s 5-2 win Thursday by manager John Farrell after admitting that during Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to Atlanta he used his cellphone to click “like” on a woman’s photographs that appeared in his Instagram feed. Sandoval said he used his cellphone after returning to the clubhouse to use the bathroom. Sandoval was in violation of MLB Standards and On-Field Operations Regulations, which covers player use of cellphones. It reads, in part, that: “Uniformed personnel, clubhouse staff and equipment staff are prohibited from using cellular phones, including any type of portable or mobile phone, laptop, texting device or similar portable equipment while on the bench, in the bullpens or on the playing field once batting practice has begun; and are prohibited from using such devices in the clubhouse within 30 minutes of the start of a game.” Story by Gordon Edes for ESPN.

About John Oldshue

John Oldshue is the creator of SaveOnPhone.com. He worked for over 15 years in television and won an Emmy award for his reporting. He covers long distance and cell phone topics for SaveOnPhone.