Apple to Produce Largest-Ever iPad

AppleAfter announcing some disappointing third-quarter reports this July, Apple is recreating some of its favorite products. The company boasts the “largest ever” iPad is going into production in early 2015.

Currently Apple sells a 9.7-inch iPad and a 7.9-inch iPad Mini. In comparison, the new iPad will have a 12.9-inch display. As well, the iPhone is expected to be increased to a 5.5-inch screen when the next model – the iPhone 6 – is revealed in September.

This July, Apple reported it had only sold 13.3 million iPads in the three months prior to June 28. That is a million less than predicted, and down 9.2 percent from the same time period last year. Apple is clearly under the pressure to promote their device.

Bloomberg also reported that an updated version of both the iPad and the iPad Mini will be available to consumers for Christmas.

*Source: The Telegraph

Wind Mobile Lowers Domestic Roaming Rates

WIND MobileWind Mobile – a Toronto-based carrier that operates in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta – has announced serious price adjustments for data, voice and text.

The news comes on the heels of a recent move by the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to lower domestic roaming, even passing a cap on how much carriers can charge customers.

In the past, customers traveling outside of Wind’s main Canadian service areas paid $1 per megabyte in roaming fees. The recently announced cuts are significant – customers will now pay a mere five cents for the same service.

In an interview, Wind’s chief regulatory officer Simon Lockie said that since the CRTC passed the caps, the company has “been moving quickly to pass those savings on to customers.” Wind is also offering its users the ability to retain the 3G network while roaming, instead of the previous 2G.

Wind is not the only company to begin lowering rates. Halifax’s Eastlink has reduced its prices by offering nationwide roaming plans. It is only a matter of time before other carriers begin announcing lower prices as well.

*Source: Globe and Mail

E-Rate Broadband and Tech Update

E-Rate changesLast month, I shared a post on big changes coming to the E-Rate Program. This month, I’m pleased to provide even more information about what schools can expect in the coming years.

Following are the highlights of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) E-Rate Modernization Order released on July 23, 2014. We have only listed the changes that have the greatest impact. The purpose of the order is to continue support of high-speed access to schools and libraries and expand access to digital learning technologies by providing support for Wi-Fi networks within schools and libraries.

Changes include:

1. Priority One services is now known as Category One and Priority Two is known as Category Two.

2. Category One are the services needed to support connectivity to schools and libraries.

3. Category Two are the internal connections (hardware and software) on site at a school or library.

4. Funds will shift between Category One and Category Two services to meet demand.

5. The highest discount level for Category One services remains at 90%, but Category Two is reduced to 85%.

6. The highest discount rate for voice services will be 70% in 2015 (a reduction of 20%) and will decrease by 20% each funding year thereafter.

a. For example, if a school’s discount was 40% in 2014 it will be reduced to 20% in 2015 and then to 0% in 2016.

b. This will apply to all voice services including but not limited to: local and long distance service, cellular and voice-over-IP (VoIP). If the FCC takes no further action on this by the opening of funding year 2018, the phase down will continue.

7. All web hosting, email and voicemail discounts will be eliminated beginning in 2015.

8. Data plans and aircards for mobile devices will remain eligible for support only if a school or library can demonstrate that individual data plans are the most cost-effective options for providing internal broadband access for portable mobile devices.

9. Sets an annual funding target of $1 billion for eligible Category Two services for fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

10. The technology plan requirement for Category Two services is eliminated.

11. The current 2-in-5 year rule will not be in effect for applicants that receive support in fiscal year 2015 and 2016.

12. Schools applying for Category Two funding can request discounts on purchases up to $150 (pre-discount) per student over a five-year period. Libraries can request up to $2.30 (pre-discount) per square foot.

13. There is a minimum funding floor of $9,200 (pre-discount) on Category Two support for each school or library over a five-year period. Costs for services shared by more than one entity must be divided between entities.

14. The five-year budget applies to entities that receive support in 2015 and/or 2016.

15. Applicants can seek support for Category Two non-recurring services purchased on or after April 1, three months prior to the start of the funding year on July 1.

16. Funding for internal connections will be available for routers, switches, wireless access points, internal cabling, racks, wireless controller systems, firewall services, uninterruptable power supplies, caching and the software supporting each of these components. Note this is a preliminary list and the final 2015 Eligible Services List is not yet available.

17. Basic maintenance services, managed Wi-Fi, and caching are eligible for Category Two support. Support for these services will be available only to those applicants that receive Category Two support in funding years 2015 and/or 2016.

18. Category Two support is eliminated for telephone and video components (including VoIP or video-over-IP), servers (except those for caching) and storage devices. Note this is a preliminary list and the final 2015 Eligible Services List is not yet available.

19. Schools that use surveys to determine their E-Rate discount must calculate their discount using only the surveys they actually collect.

20. The document retention period will be extended from five to 10 years after the latter of the last day of the applicable funding year, or the service delivery deadline for the funding request.

Greg Lowry is a Schooley Mitchell consultant based in San Francisco, Calif. His areas of expertise include supplier negotiation, billing analysis and contract optimization, business continuity planning, and sales and business development consulting.

Verizon Boosts Solar Infrastructure

Verizon solar infrastructureVerizon is preparing to invest almost $40 million in solar power technology at eight sites, effectively tripling their use of the technology.

The rooftop, ground-mounted and parking-structure panels will be installed in New York, California, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey. When completed, Verizon will have the largest solar-generating capacity of any U.S. telecom company.

“Solar is a proven technology,” James Gowen, Verizon’s chief sustainability officer, was quoted as saying. “It didn’t hurt that the technology is getting better and prices are coming down.”

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek

Merchant Petition Asks Court to Reconsider Swipe Fees

swipe feesA handful of merchants groups are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take a second look at the debit card swipe fee cap.

The National Association of Convenience Stores, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association, the National Retail Federation, Boscov’s and Miller Oil Co. all filed the petition asking the court to have another look at the Federal Reserve’s decision to cap swipe fees at 21 cents per transaction instead of lowering it.

Originally, the Federal Reserve had pegged the average incremental cost at four cents per transaction and suggested the cap should be no higher than 12 cents. However, its final decision didn’t reflect those numbers.

“There’s so much at stake here for U.S. retailers and their customers that we have no choice but to pursue this case as far as possible,” Mallory Duncan, the National Retail Federation’s senior vice president and general counsel, was quoted as saying.

“When a federal agency blatantly disregards the clear intent of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, that’s a dispute that cannot be ignored.”

About 8 million merchants in the United States accept debit cards, so any decision will have far-reaching impact.

*Source: The Hill