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Exclusive: What’s wrong with US broadband? – TalkOfNews.com

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What’s wrong with US broadband?

#Whats #wrong #broadband

Erik Carter for The Verge

The state of US broadband is bad. We already know huge portions of the country aren’t getting broadband speeds — but even where they are, those connections are often bogged down by limited options, predatory billing practices, and a general lack of choice. And because of the sorry state of federal data collection, measuring the full scope of the problem is difficult.

So last year, we took things into our own hands. In partnership with Consumer Reports, we asked readers to share their internet bills with us, and more than 22,000 of you did. The Consumer Reports data team has spent more than a year poring through that data, and together we’ve assembled a kind of snapshot of how much people are paying for internet access in the US. 

To be clear, this isn’t a standard statistical survey. The 22,000 bills we got are specific to our readers, so they’re not predictive or representative of the national broadband market. Having said that, this is one of the most ambitious efforts of its kind to understand and gives a unique look into what broadband access really looks like in America.

Consumer Reports has a more detailed and methodical writeup of the data where you can get into the weeds of exactly what we found and how we analyzed it. But for our side of things, we’re trying to take a bird’s-eye view of what we found out and what it says about the experience people are having with the companies they’re paying every month.

In short, this is what’s wrong with broadband in America.

Erik Carter for The Verge

It’s expensive

This is the most basic fact about all of it, something you’ve almost certainly noticed if you’ve picked up an internet bill. On average, the folks in our sample pay about $75 a month for internet access — a bit higher than previous estimates but certainly nothing unheard of. There are a few folks paying $150 or more, but they’re pretty clearly outliers.

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For most Americans, that will probably sound normal — but it shouldn’t. For a start, it’s more than people are paying in other countries. Our survey only looked at US customers, but there are plenty of other surveys that can give you a sense of the international picture. One survey done by the Open Technology Institute in 2020 found consistently lower prices in Europe, dropping as low as $31 in Paris and $40 in London.

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Not all of the price difference is nefarious. Countries that have lower prices often have slower connections, so the picture gets slightly better if you go by price per megabit — although not enough to completely close the gap. There are lots of intangibles that could fill the rest of the gap, whether it’s less downtime or more stable speeds.

But the simple fact is that we’re paying more, which raises the difficult question of whether we’re getting our money’s worth.

Erik Carter for The Verge

Most people can’t choose their carrier

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It’s the iron law of internet access: if you don’t like your carrier, you’re probably stuck with them — and when they know you’re stuck, you end up paying more.

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Those two claims might seem obvious, but proving them is harder than you might think. The FCC maintains a comprehensive map of US telecom coverage, but those maps rely on self-reported ISP data, which means they tend to paint an optimistic picture of what’s actually available. Put simply, telecoms will claim to cover large areas where they’ve never actually run a line.

Our data gives a peek at the broader problem, but we should be up-front about the drawbacks. Even with 20,000 bills, we have only limited coverage of the 40,000-plus ZIP codes in the US, so anyone who showed up as the only bill in a ZIP code is automatically getting lumped in the “1” column. Even if there’s more than one bill in a ZIP code, it’s unlikely we’ve clocked every single carrier in the region. In short, we don’t really know how many options most of these folks have; we can only make guesses based on the data.

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Having said that, there’s already ample evidence suggesting that a lack of choice is a problem. A 2020 study from ILSR found that 83.3 million Americans have only one broadband option, despite slower DSL lines increasingly being offered as an alternative. We know this is hurting consumers; the question is just how much.

That’s where the collected data starts to be really useful. Even with our limited data, we can see a pretty clear trend for ZIP codes with more than one bill in the database: as you have more options, service gets cheaper. So it’s not a huge difference — the split between having a sole provider and three or more only added up to a few dollars on average — but it’s a reminder of how grim the outlook can be without meaningful competition.

Erik Carter for The Verge

They add bogus charges

This is maybe the most annoying part. Even when the prices are both high and inescapable, they still find a way to add a little more on top.

The fees represented by the dark green bars are the main offenders here, and you can probably find a few on your own internet bill, labeled as things like “internet infrastructure fee” or “network enhancement fee” or the myriad data cap-related fees charged by some ISPs for going over the data cap or expensive “unlimited data allowance” fees to avoid the cap. For the purposes of keeping our charts tidy, we’re calling them all by the same name (“company-imposed fees”) because they’re all basically made up. There is only minimal cost associated with providing DNS or IP services and no relationship between that minuscule cost and the fee they’re charging you. Even if there were, there’s no reason they can’t bundle those costs into the overall price of the service like every other business. It’s nonsense — the telecom equivalent of selling you a $5 sandwich and then adding a 50 cents “mustard fee.”

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Equipment fees are slightly more legitimate. They usually mean your ISP is renting you a router, and you can get out of it by buying your own (which will almost certainly be cheaper and less hassle in the long run). Most people don’t do that, but at least it’s possible.

Still, the sheer variety of fees is worthy of some shaming. It’s part of a broader strategy of puffing up prices and confusing customers into bewildered compliance. Some providers are worse than others (congratulations to Sonic and TDS for being the least bad of the bunch), but everyone’s doing at least some of it. And with no clear incentives for good behavior, it seems unlikely we’ll see any of these fees go down in the future.

Erik Carter for The Verge

There is no escape from fiber

We’re a tech blog at heart, so it’s always tempting to think some new technology will rescue us from this kind of problem. In the case of internet access, that technology is satellite internet. The economics of laying fiber encourage this kind of rent-seeking, so maybe escaping fiber will let us build a better kind of telecom?

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Someday, perhaps — but we are not there yet. Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel went into the issues with Starlink last year (to put it generously, it’s still very much in beta), but it’s not limited to any single service. Providers like HughesNet, Dish, and Viasat have been delivering satellite connectivity for decades, and while newer generations have gotten better, they haven’t changed the basic challenges. It’s hard to deliver reliable service over satellite; it takes a lot of equipment and ends up not much cheaper than relying on terrestrial fiber. Unless you’re remote enough that satellite is your only option, it usually doesn’t make sense.

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The data we collected bears this out. For a start, only a tiny fraction of the people who sent in bills were using satellite service: just 274 bills out of more than 18,000 total. For those who were using satellite, the prices weren’t that different from the average wired connection — and that’s before factoring in the quality of the connection. That doesn’t mean the satellite revolution won’t make things better; it just means it isn’t here yet.

In the meantime, we’ll have to make the best of what we’ve got.

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Exclusive: Disney Plus is Taking Longer and Longer to Stream New Marvel Movies – CNET – TalkOfNews.com

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Disney Plus is Taking Longer and Longer to Stream New Marvel Movies     - CNET

#Disney #Longer #Longer #Stream #Marvel #Movies #CNET

After the depths of social distancing pushed a wave of big-budget movies straight to streaming, theatrical exclusives are the norm again. But for a while, it seemed like Disney and other big Hollywood movie studios might be falling into a new post-COVID rhythm for how long they kept flicks in theaters before streaming them, one that was much faster in shuttling films to a streaming service than before.

But now streaming release dates are all over the map. And for the biggest films, like Marvel’s, the waits seem to be stretching out longer and longer.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will take longer to start streaming on Disney Plus than any other Marvel movie in the pandemic era — and that may not bode well for how long you’ll have to wait to stream the Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy sequels hitting theaters soon.

When will Black Panther: Wakanda Forever start streaming? 

Disney Plus will start streaming the Black Panther sequel early Wednesday, starting at 12:01 a.m. PT/3:01 a.m. ET. Its streaming-release date is more than three months after it hit theaters. 

How long will it take to stream Marvel’s next big movies?

It’s anybody’s guess, but it probably won’t be quick. 

Last year, Marvel released three films in theaters: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in May, Thor: Love and Thunder in July and Wakanda Forever in mid-November. Doctor Strange took 47 days to reach Disney Plus. Thor hit Disney Plus 62 days after its theatrical release.

Now Wakanda Forever will take 82 days to start streaming. 

That’s the longest that a Marvel movie has spent in theaters before streaming on Disney Plus since the company resumed theatrical exclusives in 2021. That year, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was in theaters for 70 days and Eternals for 68 days. 

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(Coincidence or not, the Marvel film that Disney gave the shortest theatrical window among them also had the best overall box office performance. Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness grossed more than $955 million worldwide. Wakanda Forever has generated $840 million.)

However, Wakanda Forever may have been held off Disney Plus so long because of a consideration that doesn’t apply to those other Marvel films this year: The movie, with a Black director and predominantly Black cast, is debuting on Disney Plus on the first day of Black History Month. Disney hasn’t stated any connection in the timing, but it’s possible the film’s wait to start streaming may have been drawn out to coincide.  

Still, big Hollywood companies like Disney aren’t prioritizing streaming-subscriber growth nearly as much as they did, depressing the incentive to bring big movies to a service quickly. 

Paramount, for example, kept Top Gun: Maverick off its streaming service for 209 days, nearly seven months. The strategy paid dividends at the box office, with the Top Gun sequel grossing nearly $1.5 billion.

Disney has been much more aggressive than Paramount at putting its movies onto its streaming service quickly, but Disney is starting to show that it may be holding back its big-budget films longer in theaters as well. With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania set to hit theaters next month, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following in May and The Marvels arriving in July, you could be waiting more than three months to stream each of them if they stick to Wakanda Forever’s pace. 

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Exclusive: OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event – TalkOfNews.com

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OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event

#OnePlus #11R #OnePlus #Pad #set #launched #OnePlus #Feb #Cloud #Event

Although OnePlus has already launched its flagship device for the year, OnePlus 11 in China, they are yet to launch the device in India and the rest of the world. OnePlus has confirmed that the global launch of the OnePlus 11 will take place in India on February 7. However, it seems that OnePlus may be launching a bunch of other devices as well.

OnePlus 11R and OnePlus Pad set to be launched alongside OnePlus 11 on Feb 7 Cloud Event

OnePlus has a bunch of products lined up for its upcoming Cloud Event, including the OnePlus 11, OnePlus 11R, OnePlus Buds Pro 2, the OnePlus Keyboard, a new OnePlus TV and the OnePlus Pad.

OnePlus will also launch the OnePlus 11R along with the OnePlus 11. The OnePlus 11R hasn’t been launched anywhere else and was actually expected to be launched sometime in March or April. 

Amazon India pushed a notification prompt via its app yesterday, which said that the OnePlus 11R 5G will also launch on February 7th, 7:30 PM in India. OnePlus though is yet to make any such announcement.

OnePlus has a bunch of products to offer during its upcoming February 7th Cloud Event, including the OnePlus 11 5G, the OnePlus Buds Pro 2, its first-ever Keyboard, and the new OnePlus TV 65 Q2 Pro. It only makes sense that OnePlus, instead of just launching one of their premium smartphone devices at the event, may choose to launch the entire series on the same day.

A rumour has also surfaced which says that OnePlus may launch the OnePlus Pad as well at the event. Rumours of the OnePlus Pad have been going around since 2021 with more recent speculation suggesting a launch in 2023.

There isn’t much information out there about the OnePlus Pad. However, given the close ties that OnePlus has with Oppo, the OnePlus Pad may be a rebadged Oppo Pad or Oppo Pad Air.

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Coming back the smartphones, the global version of the top tier OnePlus 11 is expected to with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen2 SoC, a 6.7-inch E4 QHD+ OLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate, 50MP primary camera sensor with two additional cameras, 48MP and a 32MP unit, all of which have been tuned by Hasselblad, up to 512GB storage, and a large 5,000mAh battery which supports 100W fast charging. The OnePlus 11 is expected to be priced around the Rs 50,000 mark for the base variant.

The OnePlus 11R, on the other hand, is expected to come with a 6.7-inch FHD+ AMOLED panel with a 120Hz refresh rate and powered by a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, which will likely be paired with up to 16GB RAM and up to 512GB storage. As for the cameras, the OnePlus 11R 5G is tipped to come with a 50MP + 12MP + 2MP triple rear camera setup and a 16MP selfie snapper. Lastly, the device will reportedly feature a 5,000mAh battery with 100W fast charging support.


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Exclusive: Tesla Cybertruck mass production won’t start until 2024 – TalkOfNews.com

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Tesla Cybertruck mass production won’t start until 2024

#TeslaCybertruck #mass #production #wont #start

Tesla’s long-anticipated Cybertruck won’t be seeing full volume production until 2024, Elon Musk said during the company’s fourth quarter earnings call today.

During the call, Musk was asked whether the forthcoming vehicle would meet a mid-2023 production target that was set in Q2 last year. Musk cagily confirmed that Cybertruck manufacturing would start “sometime this summer,” but concluded that mass production of the polarizing pickup won’t start until next year. “I always try to downplay the start of production,” Musk said. “It increases exponentially, but it is very slow at first.”

Cybertruck was originally announced in 2019 to widespread interest, but has seen its production delayed several times. Pre-production was originally supposed to start in late 2021, but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was then slated for sometime in 2023, a projection made a year ago. Additionally, last year Musk told investors Cybertruck’s specs and price “will be different,” (read: will be more expensive).

As a consolation prize, Tesla revealed on Wednesday that it has started installing the production equipment needed for the Cybertruck’s assembly, including the castings that will produce the electric pickup’s body. The Cybertruck is expected to be largely manufactured at the company’s Gigafactory in Austin, Texas.

Industry experts warned that the timeline needed to be sped up in order for the Cybertruck to have its desired impact. “Cybertruck will be hitting an increasingly crowded sector of the EV market amid the F-150 Lightning, GMC Hummer EV, Rivian R1T, and likely the Chevy Silverado EV and RAM 1500 EV following closely behind,” said Edmunds executive director of insights Jessica Cawell in an email to The Verge. “The downside for Tesla is that the Cybertruck almost seems like old news.”

There’s still a lot of attention on the Cybertruck after its over-the-top unveiling that introduced its aggressive, post apocalyptic design. Maybe if Tesla throws more metal balls around it can get production rolling.

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