Washington Post

Some cellphone calls to 911 are notoriously hard to trace. But now we’re one step closer to a fix.

Today, federal standards help 911 call centers find victims within minutes if they're calling from outdoors or from a landline. In most cases, help arrives on the scene with no complications at all. But for people calling 911 on a cellphone indoors, it's often a different story.

Being inside thwarts GPS signals used by cellphones and dispatchers to locate people in an emergency. For this reason, the Federal Communications Commission has announced a breakthrough in developing a plan that everyone can get behind.

Consisting of four guidelines, the roadmap puts the country "on track" to improving location accuracy for wireless 911 calls, which account for 70 percent of all calls to 911, according to FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. Key to the guidelines is a requirement that wireless carriers provide 911 dispatchers with the exact floor and room of a caller.

The man who can see the Internet

Doug Madory is the senior analyst of Renesys, a small New Hampshire-based firm specializing in what it calls "Internet intelligence." Madory writes much of the company's coverage of news events.

Madory and his colleagues have the rare ability to see in real time where a nation is situated in the global digital fabric.

The insights found into which dictator has kicked his country off the Internet for how long is a byproduct of Renesys's core work of selling information on the flow of Internet traffic to Internet service providers. But by monitoring the Internet's vital signs, the company can see how the ever-evolving global network of networks fits into global events.

Research shows men are more likely to shop on mobile than women

It turns out that men shop online just as much as women do, and they are more likely to make purchases through their mobile devices compared to women, according to a recent BI Intelligence report.

Although 57 percent of US women and 52 percent of men made a purchase online in 2013, men tend to make more purchases on their smartphones and tablets than women.

According to a study conducted by SeeWhy, 22 percent of men bought something on their phones while 18 percent of women did; 20 percent of men made purchases on their tablets, compared with only 17 percent of women.

Why regulators are the big winners in the failed Sprint-T-Mobile deal

[Commentary] With so much riding on the upcoming auction of wireless spectrum -- an event Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has described as "once-in-a-lifetime" -- and with so few obvious competitive benefits of approving a merger between Sprint and T-Mobile, it comes as no surprise that the FCC has opposed the deal.

Now that the merger has fallen apart, the FCC can turn its full attention to the other mergers on its plate, involving Comcast and Time Warner Cable on the one hand and AT&T and DirecTV on the other. "The big winner here is the FCC," said analyst Craig Moffett.

UK judge says ‘freedom of information’ means choice of digital file format

PDFs can be the bane of open government advocates' existence: digital, yes, but often far more difficult to work with than other electronic file formats. But there is perhaps a bright spot for them over in the United Kingdom.

The competition for high-speed fiber optic Internet is escalating in 13 cities

The gigabit fiber war just got a little hotter. Louisiana-based broadband provider CenturyLink said that it's expanding its fiber optic service -- with speeds of 1 gigabit per second -- to 13 new cities. The speeds will be "symmetrical," meaning that users will get the same upload speeds as their download speeds.

The list of new cities getting CenturyLink residential fiber includes Seattle, Portland, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Orlando, and Columbia and Jefferson City (MO). Businesses will be able to take advantage of gigabit service in all those cities, as well as in Phoenix, Tuscon, Albuquerque, Spokane (WA), Colorado Springs, and Sioux Falls (SD).

Why did all these countries start asking for Twitter’s user data?

[Commentary] Twitter's latest transparency report is out, and the company's new data show a 46-percent jump in the number of government requests for user information since the company issued its last report covering July to December of 2013. Since its last transparency report, Twitter says eight new countries have begun asking for user data, for a total of 54.

What explains the spread isn't clear. Maybe governments are learning from each other that online user information is a useful tool. Maybe as adoption of technology (and of specific services like Twitter) grows in other countries, there's more information to be mined from people the government would be investigating anyway. Or maybe the very proliferation of transparency reports is drawing attention to this option for governments around the world.

Authors group pushes for NSA reform, while there’s still time

A Q&A with Suzanne Nossel, executive director of PEN American Center.

She spoke about the group's letter, its advocacy on this issue and the role Nossel believes writers must play in discussions about surveillance. ” We feel writers are the canaries in the coal mine. If their rights are impinged upon, they feel it first and most acutely because they rely on free expression to do their jobs,” Nossel said.

How the history of electricity explains municipal broadband

[Commentary] In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt launched the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Rural Electrification Administration, among a number of other offices meant to provide power to those who'd been passed over by the privately owned utilities because those areas weren't as profitable.

TVA in particular worked with cities like Chattanooga to provide affordable energy. To supporters of publicly owned broadband networks, the TVA's circumvention of commercially owned electric utilities to support public utility projects helps justify the rise of municipal Internet today -- despite the protests of incumbents both then and now.

Netflix and AT&T have signed an interconnection deal

AT&T has become the latest company to sign a deal with Netflix to ensure that the company's streaming videos get to consumers without lagging or delay.

Netflix said that the two companies had reached an agreement on interconnection in May. "We're now beginning to turn up the connections, a process that should be complete in the coming days," the company said.