Home / Tech News (page 2920)

Tech News

Sprint’s Virgin Mobile launches new prepaid unlimited and shared data plans at Walmart, with unlimited access to select apps for $5/month (Phil…

Sprint ( NYSE: S ) is abandoning its Virgin Mobile Custom prepaid brand but is sticking with the ItsOn cloud technology behind that brand and its retail partnership with Walmart. Sprint launched Virgin Mobile Custom in August exclusively through Walmart but found that consumers were confused about their rate plans. In response, as part of the regular Virgin Mobile brand, Sprint on Jan. 17 is launching shared data plans exclusively through Walmart that the company hopes will help simplify the rate plans and value proposition of the offering. Crucially, customers will be able to allocate shared data between family members on the plans. The launch represents the first time that a Tier 1 carrier has brought data sharing to the prepaid market; the concept has been the province of operators' postpaid brands. Angela Rittgers, vice president of Sprint Prepaid, said that Sprint has been working with Walmart on how to improve the Virgin Mobile Custom brand's traction. The brand was based around allowing customers create a mobile service plan they could customize on the fly. Rittgers called the new plans an "evolution" of the Custom brand. In an interview with  FierceWireless , Rittgers said that "the flexibility that that Custom product provides is phenomenal," but that in Walmart there were not enough retail sales representatives to explain the benefits of the product to consumers, which led to confusion. As a result, Sprint decided to simplify the product's rates while keeping all of the flexibility and benefits of the platform on the back end. With the ItsOn technology, the primary account holder can choose how much data certain family members get access to. For example, a parent can say that their children can only get 20 percent of the total data plan, or each child can get 1 GB. Those changes can be altered throughout the month. Rittgers said most consumers like the concept of shared data plans but complain that there is one family member who is a data hog, and the ItsOn platform gives consumers the flexibility to deal with that situation

Read More »

In letter to FCC, Sprint says "light touch application of Title II" regulation would not harm investment in data networks, delighting net…

Sprint became unlikely besties with consumer groups and net neutrality advocates Friday when it told the FCC that adopting new net neutrality rules under a law written with old phone lines in mind wouldn’t be the end of the world. “Sprint does not believe that a light touch application of Title II, including appropriate forbearance, would harm the continued investment in, and deployment of, mobile broadband services,” Sprint Chief Technology Officer Stephen Bye wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. Sprint’s competitors, including Verizon and AT&T, have expressed contrary views and have warned FCC officials that relying on Title II for the legal authority to act as an Internet-line traffic-cop would discourage investment in networks. In some ways, Sprint’s letter acknowledged the reality that the FCC is likely going to craft new net neutrality, or Open Internet rules, under Title II of the Communications Act no matter how much broadband providers complain. Wheeler recently telegraphed his intention to do that and has White House support for that move. Sprint’s move appears to be an effort to make the best of a bad situation and try to convince regulators to give wireless carriers more freedom in how they manage their networks under net neutrality rules. “So long as the FCC continues to allow wireless carriers to manage our networks and differentiate our products, Sprint will continue to invest in data networks regardless of whether they are regulated by Title II, Section 706 or some other light-touch regime,” Bye wrote in the letter. Net neutrality advocates quickly began forwarding Sprint’s letter and praising the wireless carrier on Twitter. An FCC spokeswoman did not have immediate comment on it. “Thanks to Sprint for sprinting ahead on the Open Internet, acknowledging what we have long known: strong net neutrality is good for consumers, competition, innovation and free expression online,” said Michael Copps, a special advisor to Common Cause and a former Democratic FCC commissioner, in a statement. Here is the full text of the letter from Bye to Wheeler: View this document on Scribd Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Contact Amy Schatz: @amy_schatz | EMAIL Click to share on Twitter Share on Facebook Click to share on Google+ Click to share on LinkedIn Click to share on Pinterest Click to share on Reddit Click to email this to a friend Join the conversation:

Read More »

Facebook open sources deep learning tools; head of AI research pledges to "start building things in the open" (Derrick Harris/Gigaom)

Facebook on Friday open sourced a handful of software libraries that it claims will help users build bigger, faster deep learning models than existing tools allow. The libraries, which Facebook is calling modules, are alternatives for the default ones in a popular machine learning development environment called Torch, and are optimized to run on Nvidia graphics processing units. Among the modules are those designed to rapidly speed up training for large computer vision systems (nearly 24 times, in some cases), to train systems on potentially millions of different classes (e.g., predicting whether a word will appear across a large number of documents, or whether a picture was taken in  any  city anywhere ), and an optimized method for building language models and word embeddings (e.g., knowing how different words are related to each other). “‘There is no way you can use anything existing” to achieve some of these results, said Soumith Chintala, an engineer with Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research . That team was formed in December 2013 when Facebook hired prominent New York University researcher Yann LeCun to run it. Rob Fergus, one of LeCun’s NYU colleagues who also joined Facebook at the same time, will be speaking on March 19 at our Structure Data conference in New York . A heatmap showing performance of Facebook’s modules to standard ones on datasets of various sizes. The darker the green, the faster Facebook was. Despite the sometimes significant improvements in speed and scale, however, the new Facebook modules probably are “not going to be super impactful in terms of today’s use cases,” Chintala said. While they might produce noticeable improvements within most companies’ or research teams’ deep learning environments, he explained, they’ll really make a difference (and justify making the switch) when more folks are working on stuff at a scale like Facebook is now — “using models that people previously thought were not possible.” Perhaps the bigger and more important picture now, then, is that Friday’s open source releases represent the start of a broader Facebook effort to open up its deep learning research the way it has opened up its work on webscale software and data centers. “We are actually going to start building things in the open,” Chintala said, releasing a steady stream of code instead of just the occasional big breakthrough. Facebook is also working fairly closely with Nvidia to rework some of its deep learning programming libraries to work at web scale, he added. Although it’s working at a scale beyond many mainstream deep learning efforts and its researchers change directions faster than would be feasible for a commercial vendor, Facebook’s advances could find their way into future releases of Nvidia’s libraries. Given the excitement around deep learning right now — for everything from photo albums to self-driving cars — it’s a big deal that more and better open source code is becoming available

Read More »

Parallels Access 2.5 released, adds file manager, computer-to-computer remote access (Steven Sande/TUAW)

Starting today, Parallels is shipping version 2.5 of the Parallels Access remote access and control app . Parallels Access has been a favorite of TUAW bloggers , featuring precise remote control and amazing speed when controlling Macs from iPads and iPhones. The new version provides a universal file manager that makes it possible to browse files on the remote computer, Dropbox or Google Drive without the need for using other apps. From an iOS or Android device, it's now possible to move documents between cloud storage and the remote computer without launching an app on the computer. The file manager also includes a way to preview both local and remote files without opening them. I had a chance to try out version 2.5 prior to release and found the new file manager to be a great help when searching for and opening documents stored in Dropbox. If anything, remote control seems to be somewhat faster than before, especially over 4G LTE connections. Parallels Access 2.5 also adds optimization of screen sizes and resolutions for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 PLus, as well as a new way to access your remote computers from any computer web browser (see below). As before, the app is free and the service - which allows unlimited mobile devices to connect to up to five computers - is US$19.99 for one year and $34.99 for two years. A business subscription licensed in five-computer packs goes for $49 per year per five computers.

Read More »