Germany Favors Deutsche Telekom to Replace Ousted Verizon

Germany favors Deutsche Telekom to replace Verizon Communications as a network provider after deciding to end the American company’s contract in the wake of reports about spy surveillance by the US.

“The federal government wants to win back more technological sovereignty and therefore prefers to work with German companies,” Tobias Plate, an interior ministry spokesman, said.

Germany is using an option in the current Verizon contract to end the arrangement in 2015, Plate said, declining to confirm whether the government had any evidence that the provider handed information from the network to the US National Security Agency.

Slim to Buy Out AT&T’s $6 Billion Stake in America Movil

Billionaire Carlos Slim will buy out AT&T’s $6 billion stake in America Movil SAB, propping up his Latin American mobile-phone company’s stock price as his longtime partner from the US exits the business. Slim’s holding company, Inmobiliaria Carso, told America Movil’s board it will acquire AT&T’s 8.3 percent stake, which includes 24 percent of the company’s voting shares, according to a filing. America Movil didn’t say how much Carso would pay, and Roberta Thomson, an AT&T spokeswoman, wasn’t immediately available for comment. The stake’s value of $6 billion is based on the closing price for the shares. AT&T is selling its holdings of Slim’s company after a 24-year relationship to avoid a conflict of interest because the Dallas-based company is buying DirecTV, which competes with America Movil for pay-TV customers across Latin America.

No Aereo? Alternatives Require More Money, Savvy

For cord cutters who want to ditch their cable service, watching broadcast TV on a computer or tablet is still possible even if Aereo disappears. Companies like TiVo and SiliconDust USA make products that work with TV antennas to turn live programs into digital bits and bytes.

And online, many shows from networks like NBC and Fox are available through Hulu. Still, those alternatives don’t offer the same combination of ease of use, affordability and up-to-the-minute programming that Aereo does.

The potential demise of Aereo’s $8-a-month service eliminates one of the easiest options for viewers who wanted to watch live football and basketball games, late-night talk shows and local news at a fraction of the cost of cable, which can cost $75 a month. That’s presenting a challenge to a new generation of consumers who have grown accustomed to viewing the programs they want on any device at any time, not just on a television on a network’s schedule.

“I should be able to get on my phone or any device and watch what’s on TV, and that’s been difficult for so many years,” said Jason Gaylor, a 38-year-old freelance application designer from Springfield, Missouri, where Aereo isn’t available. “If I want to watch the Super Bowl or the Oscars or anything that’s a huge part of American culture, I should be able to get it as easily as possible.”

Ex-NSA Chief Pitches Banks Costly Advice on Cyber-Attacks

As the four-star general in charge of US digital defenses, Keith Alexander warned repeatedly that the financial industry was among the likely targets of a major attack. Now he’s selling the message directly to the banks. Joining a crowded field of cyber-consultants, the former National Security Agency chief is pitching his services for as much as $1 million a month.

The audience is receptive: Under pressure from regulators, lawmakers and their customers, financial firms are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into barriers against digital assaults. Gen Alexander, who retired in March from his dual role as head of the NSA and the US Cyber Command, has since met with the largest banking trade groups, stressing the threat from state-sponsored attacks bent on data destruction as well as hackers interested in stealing information or money.

“It would be devastating if one of our major banks was hit, because they’re so interconnected,” Gen Alexander said. Gen Alexander, 62, said he was invited to give a talk to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, known as Sifma, shortly after leaving the NSA and starting his firm, IronNet Cybersecurity. He has met with other finance groups including the Consumer Bankers Association, the Financial Services Roundtable and The Clearing House.

Is the Firefox Mobile Operating System a Droid Killer?

Mozilla’s move into the mobile OS market makes it less of an ally and more an adversary to Google and Apple. Android dominates this market, accounting for about 78 percent, compared with 18 percent for second-place Apple’s iOS, according to market researcher IDC.

But neither was designed specifically for the lower-tech smartphones that mobile carriers are trying to sell in developing markets. By simplifying data management and cutting energy use, Firefox OS aims to attract people with less money and unpredictable access to networks and electricity.

Its influence is beginning to spread: Telefónica began rolling out Firefox phones in Spain and seven Latin American countries in 2013; Deutsche Telekom now sells them in Poland, Greece, Hungary, and Germany and will add Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Czech Republic in 2014.

In May, Carlos Slim’s América Móvil unveiled its own line in Mexico, and in June Mozilla said that within a few months Firefox phones will be on sale in India for $25.

Mozilla’s alternative isn’t likely to win over iOS and Android phone users in the US or Japan, who aren’t counting pennies on devices or data plans. But it could pose a serious threat to Apple and especially Google in the emerging markets where most sales growth lies.

For carriers, independence from those companies means they don’t have to negotiate subsidies or software license agreements. It also gives them more flexibility to modify handsets; Deutsche Telekom added privacy protections that its European customers want. And Firefox doesn’t burden carriers’ networks by sending back user data to the OS maker’s home servers for analysis or sale.

Ten Days in Kenya With No Cash, Only a Phone

Graeber traveled from New York to Nairobi to learn how to pay for things with a phone -- and to understand why Kenya has gained a reputation as the mobile payments future.

Almost everyone in the country uses M-pesa (M, for mobile; pesa is payment in Swahili) to transfer money from one phone to another via encrypted short message service, or SMS. In all, there are about 18.2 million active customers in a nation twice the size of Colorado.

Dish Says It’s Interested in NFL Sunday Ticket

Dish Network’s head of product management said the satellite-TV company would be interested in bidding on the rights to broadcast the National Football League’s Sunday games if rival DirecTV fails to renew its deal.

“It’s the only exclusive still left for TV content,” Vivek Khemka, Dish’s senior vice president of product management, said. “I’d be an idiot to say I didn’t want it.” “NFL Sunday Ticket” has been offered only on DirecTV since 1994, and the two sides are negotiating exclusively to renew the $4 billion agreement, which expires at the end of 2014.

The deal is so critical that AT&T, in its agreement to acquire DirecTV, retained the right to back out of the deal if the contract with the NFL isn’t renewed. In the event talks with DirecTV fail, the league could separate the rights to offer “Sunday Ticket” over the Web from the traditional TV contract, Khemka said.

TV Drama Season in DC Has Broadcasters Awaiting Rulings

Television executive Marci Burdick is gripped by a drama that isn’t appearing on her company’s CBS affiliate in South Bend, Indiana: She’s watching battles in Washington that figure to reshape the broadcast industry.

The US Supreme Court is set to decide soon whether Aereo can use coin-sized antennas to capture TV signals and sell them over the Internet -- without paying broadcasters such as Burdick’s closely held Schurz Communications. A decision for Aereo might lead cable and satellite companies to stop paying $4 billion a year to station owners, too. If Aereo wins, “local broadcasters and their networks would have to have serious conversations about the business model,” Burdick, senior vice president at Schurz, said.

That’s not the only thing worrying broadcasters. The Federal Communications Commission has proposed eliminating a 39-year-old rule that bars pay-TV companies such as Comcast and Dish Network from showing National Football League games that get blacked out on local broadcast stations whenever the stadiums aren’t sold out. Without that rule, the NFL may abandon over-the-air TV for pay-TV, rather than lose control of its telecasts, according to the broadcasters who spend billions for game rights.

The challenges for broadcasters probably will continue in 2015, when the FCC wants stations to decide whether to give up airwaves for cash. The agency will auction surrendered frequencies for use by wireless providers such as AT&T and Verizon Communications, which have said they need more airwaves to meet soaring demand for mobile communications.

Apple Settles E-Books Pricing Case With States, Consumers

The trial set for July involved cases related to a ruling in 2013 that company had orchestrated an illegal scheme with publishers to raise e-book prices. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered Apple and its adversaries to submit a filing seeking approval of their accord within one month.

Details of the agreement weren’t disclosed.

The US government sued Apple and five of the biggest publishers in April 2012, claiming the maker of the iPad pushed them to sign agreements letting it sell digital copies of their books under a pricing model that made most e-books more expensive. Under the contracts, the publishers set book prices, with Apple getting 30 percent.

Apple and the publishers used the contracts to force, the No. 1 e-book seller, to change its pricing model, the government claimed. At the time, Amazon was selling electronic versions of best-selling books for $9.99, which was often below cost.

US District Judge Denise Cote ruled against Apple after a non-jury trial. Steve Berman, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said that all the US attorneys general and consumers settled the case. Berman said he filed a memorandum of understanding with the court under seal, which prevents him from describing the agreement.

News Corp Hacking Jury Starts Deliberations

After seven months of testimony and legal arguments, jurors in the News Corp phone-hacking trial started deliberations.

“You are under no pressure of time,” Judge John Saunders said, sending the jury out to deliberate their verdicts after 130 court days since the trial began in late October. “You have to reach your verdicts according to the evidence.”

Rebekah Brooks, the 46-year-old former editor of the News of the World, is one of seven people on trial for phone hacking and bribing public officials by journalists at the company’s Sun and News of the World newspapers.

News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch closed the News of the World in 2011 in a bid to temper public outrage over the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler. Brooks, who headed News Corp’s UK unit, is charged with conspiracy to intercept voice mails, conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office and two counts of perverting the course of justice.