Don’t get too hyped on 5G — if you’re in the U.S., anyway

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Photo: Apple

Apple on Tuesday announced that its new lineup of iPhones will support 5G networks. But while Apple — and special guest Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon — hyped the inclusion of fifth-generation wireless technology in its new handsets as a major game-changer, U.S. consumers expecting earth-shattering improvements in wireless connectivity may be left disappointed.

Wireless carriers have worked overtime to portray 5G as an incredible revolution in modern communications. Companies like Verizon have called the technology the “fourth industrial revolution,” claiming that the standard will usher forth everything from the smart cities of tomorrow to revolutionary cancer treatments.

In reality…

Your best bet is still to ditch Zoom

A photo of a woman on her laptop, lying in bed.
A photo of a woman on her laptop, lying in bed.
Photo: SammyVision/Getty Images

For months, Zoom has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Now used for everything from pandemic-era yoga retreats to mass layoffs, the company’s popularity stems from the fact the platform is simple and it works. But its newfound fame has also brought unrelenting attention to the notion that company leaders haven’t taken privacy and security seriously enough.

But are the problems severe enough to warrant ditching Zoom entirely? It depends on what you’re using the platform for, how much time you’re willing to spend protecting yourself, and who you ask.

Some security experts insist Zoom is taking…

The FCC’s controversial move didn’t just kill rules for an open internet — it opened the door to broadband monopolies ripping consumers off with relative impunity

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Credit: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

When most people think about last year’s controversial repeal of net neutrality, they likely assume that the rules meant to protect an open internet were the only casualty. In the year since, the telecom sector and its defenders have tried to argue that because the internet didn’t immediately implode in a glorious fireball post-net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) repeal must not have been that big of a deal.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

The FCC’s Orwellian-named “Restoring Internet Freedom” order certainly did kill rules preventing internet service providers (ISPs) from abusing their broadband monopolies to harm competitors and…

Elizabeth Warren announced a new proposal to fight against the stranglehold telecoms have on broadband access

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Credit: Rhona Wise/Getty Images

Broadband is a subject that usually gets passing lip service during election season, only to be completely forgotten once the ballots are counted. But somebody forgot to tell Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren that.

In a Medium post, Warren this week outlined her plan to finally bring U.S. broadband out from under the thumb of mediocrity. The extensive plan proposes spending $85 billion (funded by a higher tax rate on the nation’s biggest corporations) to bring broadband to the 26% of rural Americans who are still left without high speed internet service.

Buried in Warren’s plan to fix the broken…

There’s a long road ahead for the streaming giant as new competitors, including your phone company, step up

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Illustration: Gabriel Gabriel Garble

By any measure, Netflix is a smashing success. Launched in 1997 as a mail-based DVD rental outfit, the company now streams video on demand to 151 million users worldwide every month. Once just a small thorn in the side of traditional cable giants, Netflix now serves more paying video consumers each month than Comcast, DirecTV, and AT&T, combined.

But things are only going to get tougher on Netflix from here. One of the company’s biggest threats? A telecom sector quietly laying the groundwork for revenge.

For years, big telecom has viewed Netflix as a mortal enemy because the company has…

The author has spent a decade fighting persistent Lyme disease symptoms — and convincing those who don’t believe him that his illness is real

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Karl Bode in Lincoln Park, Seattle. Photography by Ian Bates

This story is part of “Tickpocalypse,” a multi-part special report.

My first run-in with Lyme disease had few of the usual hallmarks of the illness. I never had the trademark bull’s-eye rash. I never even saw a tick. And despite adhering to all the standard treatments, I’ve never fully recovered. Nearly 10 years later, I still suffer from an often-debilitating array of symptoms that modern medicine has no concrete answer for.

My experience with the disease began shortly after my wife and I bought a home in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. While clearing dead trees and leaves…

The agency’s unwillingness to stand up to industry will likely be the proposal’s undoing

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Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

On any given day, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is blasted with a torrent of consumer complaints. Some are legitimate, while some are aggressively stupid. In addition to gripes about terrible broadband or high TV prices, the agency is routinely inundated with reports about everything from the unbelievable storylines in professional wrestling to the threat of subliminal penises on MythBusters.

But year after year, one annoyance routinely tops the list: robocalls. …

And why such censorship efforts usually backfire

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Photo: Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto/Getty

Not long ago, social media giants like Twitter and Facebook were soaking up praise for playing an essential role in supporting democratic revolutions in the Middle East. But less than a decade later, these same platforms are now widely derided as hotbeds of hate speech and disinformation, so much so that even some prominent tech journalists are supporting one country’s decision to temporarily ban social media sites.

After more than 300 people were killed in a series of coordinated bombings last weekend, the Sri Lankan government moved to do just that, starting with a temporary ban on Facebook. In a…

The fight for local broadband is finally heating up

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Illustration by Daniel Hertzberg

Not so long ago, as the internet emerged from the dial-up era and corporations were just beginning to monetize it, many writers argued that broadband would usher us into a new digital “utopia.” In 1996, John Perry Barlow, the founder of the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, wrote a Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace about the new ethics of the internet.

According to Barlow, a brave new online world that “all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth” was on its way. …

Retail and Alexa are just the start of the path toward total domination

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

Amazon trades on convenience: Prime shipping means avoiding lines at the store; your Echo tells you in seconds how many cups are in 3.5 quarts. The company has combined retail and technology in an irresistible package, weaving its services throughout millions of lives. The efforts have turned Amazon into the most valuable public company in the world and one of the most powerful.

Some experts warn that our reliance on Amazon is blinding us to the darker aspects of the company’s ambition. Unless we seriously rethink our understanding of monopoly power and the government’s role in protecting us from it…

Karl Bode

Seattle-based freelance writer with a focus on tech, tech policy, and consumer rights.

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