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New York (AirGuideBusiness - Travel Technology Business News North America) Oct 16, 2011

CEA praises Congress for passing free trade bill. The Consumer Electronics Association believes Congress made the right move in passing free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. "[T]he U.S. Congress has paved the way for American job creation, economic growth and prosperity," said Gary Shapiro, CEA president and CEO. Oct 14, 2011

National Telecommunications Cooperative Rural Phone Providers Warn of Higher Prices From Subsidy Cuts. Rural telephone providers told U.S. lawmakers that proposed changes to a $4.3 billion subsidy for landline service in high-cost regions may increase prices for customers of smaller carriers. The Federal Communications Commission wants to overhaul the subsidy to fund the expansion of high-speed Internet. Cuts to the program would boost the cost of operating in remote areas and curtail carriersO investment in their networks, Shirley Bloomfield, chief executive officer of the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, said today during a hearing of the Senate Commerce committee. The changes to the high-cost program, which is part of a broader subsidy known as the Universal Service Fund, were proposed Oct. 6 by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, who favors expanding access to broadband as a vehicle for economic growth and job creation. The proposal will be brought before the agencyOs four commissioners at an Oct. 27 FCC meeting. OOur plan to accelerate broadband build-out -- wired and wireless -- to unserved homes, businesses and anchor institutions in rural America,O would put the U.S. Oon the path to universal broadband access and bring massive consumer benefits,O Genachowski said in a speech to the Pew Charitable Trust today in Washington. The FCC wants to transform the Universal Service Fund (USF) into a OConnect America FundO designed to ensure affordable high- speed Internet in regions that lack access and to promote mobile broadband nationwide. Details of the proposal have yet to be released by the agency. The USF supports phone service to schools, libraries, the poor and high-cost areas. The fund is financed by charges on long-distance calls paid by telephone subscribers, and it subsidizes companies including Windstream Corp. (WIN) and Frontier Communications Corp. In 2010, the program paid $4.3 billion to carriers doing business in high-cost areas, according to the website of the Universal Service Administrative Company, a Washington-based independent nonprofit group that administers the fund. More than 1,700 carriers receive support from the high-cost program. A coalition of telephone companies led by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. asked the FCC in July to reduce the fees they pay to have calls connected by smaller rural carriers. The changes were part of a bundle of suggestions for revising programs designed to promote phone service. The plan presented by AT&T and Verizon, which Frontier Communications also signed, meets the goals of Osupporting deployment and operation of broadband service,O while Omaintaining the sizeO of the subsidy, Kathleen Abernathy, executive vice president of regulatory affairs for Frontier and a former FCC commissioner, said in prepared testimony. ! Oct 12, 2011

Amazon, DISH, Google Report: Amazon, DISH, Google still in Hulu hunt, but will it matter?. Amazon.com, DISH Network and Google reportedly remain active in the Hulu auction process, while Yahoo! has pulled out of the bidding, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter. While the parties conducting the Hulu auction evaluate the various bids, the corporate owners of the online video service are still debating whether to go through with the sale, given the conditions attached to the active bids, The Journal added. Oct 10, 2011

AMD AMD is as committed as ever to desktop chipmaking. While mobile computing may be gaining steam, AMD remains committed to the desktop market, and its latest FX CPU chip series, built to perform on its "Bulldozer" architecture, aims to illustrate its desire to remain competitive. Two eight-core processors promise increased performance and offer support for multidisplay gaming and high-definition content. Oct 13, 2011

Apple Fresh Target for Russia Regulators: iPhone Price Collusion. Long the champion of drivers in their futile fight against rising gasoline prices, RussiaOs Federal Anti-Monopoly Service is now shifting its trust-busting gaze to the price of something even more vital to the countryOs oil-fueled culture of materialism [ETH] the iPhone 4. While everyone knows the iPhone 4 smartphones sold by OAO Mobile TeleSystems and VimpelCom Ltd arenOt cheap, the antitrust bureaucrats revealed Wednesday that at most of the retail outlets of the two mobile phone companies in Russia, theyOre actually sold at the same price. The investigation is targeting both the 32 gigabyte and the 16 gigabyte iPhone 4 Black models, whose wholesale prices havenOt changed since September 2010 and arenOt regulated by any agreements, the watchdog tells us, citing material from Apple. The MTS website lists the phones as costing 31,890 rubles ($1,019) and 26,690 rubles ($853) in the Moscow area, although steep discounts are available to any Muscovite whoOs bold enough to buy unlocked phones unofficially on the street. For the sake of comparison, the average monthly Russian salary is just over 23,000 rubles, at least officially. A spokeswoman for MTS couldnOt immediately be reached for comment on the investigation, while a spokeswoman for VimpelCom declined to comment immediately, saying a statement would be released at some point. A London-based spokesman for Apple Inc. declined to comment on the probe. Oct 12, 2011

Apple Apple REIT continues acquisitions despite market uncertainties. Apple REIT's subsidiaries are taking advantage of the withdrawal of competing REITS due to market volatility and are pushing forward with a steady stream of acquisitions. "Operating numbers generally speaking are at historic lows, and there's a lack of competition in the way of buyers for a variety of reasons. [The] lack of capital for the sector ... creates a really good dynamic for acquiring assets," President Justin G. Knight says. Oct 10, 2011

Apple Apple iPhone 4S Breaks Pre-Order Record. Apple launched its iPhone 4S sales in seven countries, including the U.S., today amid a global clamor for Steve Jobs' farewell device, according to published reports that say the company already has increased its order with Asian equipment makers by 5 million units to total 15 million handsets. iPhone 4S smashed the company's record for pre-orders in a single day. The gadget maker announced on Monday that the iPhone 4S topped 1 million orders in the 24 hours following the device's pre-order debut on Friday. The company's previous record for first-day pre-orders was 600,000, held by the iPhone 4. Unveiled last week, the iPhone 4S offers a faster processor and better camera than its predecessor, the iPhone 4, and contains both GSM and CDMA antennas, enabling the device to run on U.S. and European networks. Apple also added Sprint to its list of U.S. iPhone partners. Pre-launch rumors that Apple was planning a completely new phone, the iPhone 5, however, proved untrue, much to the disappointment of many Apple zealots. Consumer appetite for the souped-up iPhone, though, is clearly healthy. In addition to the record pre-orders, more than 50% of respondents to TheStreet's recent iPhone poll said that they can't wait to get their hands on the iPhone 4S. The coolest new feature on the 4S is Siri, a software-based personal assistant who responds to your voice in a somewhat robotic, yet soothing female tone. Siri can do all sorts of things, from setting your alarm clock to finding a good local sushi joint to playing DJ with your music. She can't bring up specific websites, but she can search the Web for pretty much anything. Once you let her know who you are and where you live, she can even do complex tasks such as reminding you to call your boyfriend when you leave your house. She can understand conversational English, which is great because it let me speak as I normally would (though I did have to enunciate well). This means you can say things like, "what's happening today?" or "what's going on today?" and she'll let you know what's on your calendar. She's also a dictation dynamo, transcribing emails and texts much better than a phone running Google Inc.'s Android software. It would be awesome if she could intelligently insert punctuation marks, but she does get them if you tell her "period" or "exclamation point." For a particularly difficult test, I read a random paragraph from a copy of "The New Yorker" to the 4S and to an Android smartphone. Siri didn't get all the words correct, but she overwhelmingly beat the competition. Beyond Siri, I was happy to see a better camera on the 4S, which has an 8-megapixel lens compared with 5 megapixels on the iPhone 4. My shots had sharper details as a result. The new camera can also take pictures faster, and a new lens gathers more light so pictures shot in dim lighting look better. The addition of a camera icon on the phone's lock screen makes it easier to start snapping. Just double tap on the "home" button when the phone is asleep to bring up the icon, and tap that to open up the camera. Also, there's finally a physical camera button on the iPhone as the 4S's volume-up button does double duty. You can even record high-definition videos in 1080p on the 4S -- the best resolution currently available on a consumer camera. The iPhone 4S has the latest version of Apple's mobile software, iOS 5, which seems geared toward making the phone even easier to use. One of the best additions here is iMessage, which lets you send texts, photos or videos to other Apple devices over Wi-Fi or your wireless carrier's data network. That makes...

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