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November 28, 2015
by admin

T-Mobile is Giving Sprint Customers Who Switch an Extra $200 Just Because

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T-Mobile continued its holiday giving ways this morning by announcing to Sprint customers that they will receive an extra $200 per line should they make the switch to magenta. The deal kicks off tomorrow, November 26, and doesn’t seem to be limited in the number of lines you can bring over nor do there seem to be any hidden tricks. If you switch from Sprint to T-Mobile, they will credit your account with $200 per line. 

Here is the exact copy from T-Mobile’s press release:

For customers fed up with Sprint’s slow speeds and limited coverage, getting your $200 gift couldn’t possibly be simpler. Just switch any Sprint number – including postpaid, prepaid, Boost and Virgin Mobile – over to a T-Mobile Simple Choice postpaid plan starting this Thursday, November 26 and you’ll automatically get a $200 credit on your bill. That’s $200 multiplied by as many lines as you switch. For a family of four, that could mean $800 extra, and for a business with 10 employees, we’re talking about a $2,000 credit!

If Sprint and its monthly promotions for half off this or that, or this or that confusing lease, haven’t been serving you well, here is another option.

Additional details of the deal can be seen at the link below.

Via:  T-Mobile

November 28, 2015
by admin

Black Friday deals in US: Smartphone traffic to overtake desktops

Black Friday, Black Friday Deals, Smartphone deals, Nikon, Canon, Samsung deals Analysts predict more than half of online traffic to retailer sites will come from smartphones than desktops during the busy Black Friday holiday shopping weekend. (Source: AP)
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If the beginning of the holiday season is any indication, it could be a merry mobile Christmas for shoppers.

For the first time, there’s expected to be more people visiting retailers’ web sites through their smartphones than on desktop computers or tablets during the first weekend of the holiday shopping season that begins on Thanksgiving Day.

Mobile traffic during the five-day start to what is typically the busiest shopping period of the year is expected to reach 56.9 percent of total traffic, up from 48.5 percent last year, according to IBM Watson.

And even though everyone who “window shops” on their phones isn’t going to buy, mobile sales are jumping too. Mobile sales are expected to account for 36.1 percent of online sales, up from 27 percent last year, according to IBM Watson Trend.

The bumps in traffic and sales come as retailers try to make the mobile shopping experience easier by improving their mobile apps and adding coupons and other deals. Shoppers also have gotten more comfortable browsing retailers’ web sites as smartphone screen sizes have gotten bigger, making it easier for them to see photos of the items they want to buy. Digital wallets and apps that let shoppers store payment information are helping too.

“It’s very convenient,” said Seth Reineke, 25, an insurance worker from Iowa City, Iowa, who plans to peruse Amazon’s weekend deals from his phone. “It allows me to keep track of time-sensitive sales without being tied to a computer or having to leave a holiday event or get-together.”

Overall spending this season is expected to be somewhat muted. The National Retail Federation, a trade group for storeowners, expects industry-wide sales to be up 3.7 percent in November and December, less than the 4.1 percent of last year’s holiday season.

But online spending figures are stronger. Forrester predicts online sales will rise 11 percent to $95 billion. And mobile sales are becoming a bigger piece of that pie. Forrester expects them to account for 35 percent of e-commerce this year and 49 percent in five years. That compares to 29 percent in 2014.

Adobe, which measures 80 percent of online sales from the top 100 U.S. retailers, predicts 40 to 45 percent of all retail traffic during November and December will come from mobile devices, up from 37 percent last year. Mobile sales are expected to total 20 to 25 percent of total online sales, up from 16 percent last year.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, expects that 75 percent of U.S. traffic to its website will come from mobile devices this holiday shopping season. That’s up from 50 percent two years ago. Likewise, eBay says it expects mobile sales during the holidays will be “significantly” higher than the 41 percent mobile sales made up of total revenue in the third quarter.

Thanksgiving and the day after the holiday known as Black Friday are expected to be particularly mobile-friendly shopping dates because people can use their phones to take advantage of limited-time offers wherever they may be. Adobe predicts mobile will drive the majority of shopping traffic, 51 percent, for the first time on Thanksgiving Day.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to do ‘shopping under the table’ on Thanksgiving Day,” said Tamara Gaffney, director of Adobe Digital Index. “In between cooking, watching football and in general hanging around family and friends, there’s down time to glance at the iPad and smartphone and do some shopping.”

Take Danyell Taylor, 34, a writer in Washington, D.C. who likes the “easy access” of smartphone shopping. Taylor plans to start looking for holiday deals on Wednesday and continuing through the weekend, specifically for Converse shoes and Kate Spade home accessories.

“I’m going to sit on my couch with my phone and my laptop and buy from there,” she says. “I don’t plan on going into the store at all.”

Mobile shopping still has its problems, including security concerns, sluggish apps and hard-to-navigate mobile web sites. And much of mobile traffic doesn’t translate into sales.

But for shoppers, the convenience factor is hard to beat, says Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru.

“While retailers may lament their low conversion rates and slow download speeds on mobile devices, shoppers still keep shopping on those devices,” Mulpuru says, adding that shoppers “appear to have greater tolerance for imperfection, much like in the early days of desktop.”

Jill Markiewicz, 38, a personal shopper in New York, says she shops frequently on her iPhone 6s on Saks Fifth Ave and J.Crew’s mobile web sites.

“I’m typically on foot running around a lot … don’t get a whole lot of desk time,” Markiewicz says. “You can go from email to checkout cart in a matter of minutes.”

November 28, 2015
by admin

Shifting Afghan Gears: Build, Don’t Blast

Afghanistan has enormous economic potential as outlined in a recent US Army review; developing this is the key to stability. Despite fourteen years of US military support, the situation has deteriorated to the point that the senior US officer has stated flatly, “we have to provide our senior leadership options different than the current plan.” This plan focuses on building up the capacity of the forces; it ignores the underlying reality that security simply cannot be achieved without development. No wonder Americans want out. Over 3,000 US service members and civilians have been killed and more than 20,000 wounded; direct, short-term costs come close to a trillion dollars. The Taliban’s reach is the widest it has been since the United States entered the country while corruption severely undermines the prospects for stability. Not only has the US government focused on the military operations, so has the media; major improvements in infrastructure, telecommunications and human resources have been invisible to the American public which understandably sees Afghanistan as a black hole that eats people and resources. Far from being a short-term solution, the military effort has evolved into a long-term quagmire. The United States has failed to provide a coherent alternative to the Taliban.

The Obama administration understands that a collapse in Afghanistan would be detrimental to US interests. Yet it continues to pursue a military solution when it needs to shift gears and focus on systematic economic development. Prioritizing economic development should be perfectly natural for the United States, the most advanced commercial economy in the world. Post-World War II the Economic Recovery Program – better know as the Marshall Plan – turned a group of historically warring European countries into a region of peace; later US support to South Korea transformed that war-torn country with almost no economic resources into a commercial powerhouse.

Simply announcing a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan with the support of the international community could have a significant short-term impact, giving everyday Afghans a sense of what is possible. But the most critical challenge is creating a comprehensive concept of economic development. The US Army report referenced above and a comprehensive New and Better Plan for Afghanistan by Prince Ali Seraj outline major areas of opportunity:

  • Agriculture. Before the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan was known as the Fruit and Vegetable Basket of Central Asia. Fresh and dried fruits and vegetables were exported worldwide. Today Afghanistan produces a fraction of what it produced 30 years ago. The Taliban and al-Qaeda cut down thousands of mature fruit trees in the Parwan Province alone. Wheat and corn were staple crops, and the olive groves of Jalalabad, the cotton farms of Helmand and the North, the citrus farms of Nangarhar and the sugar plantations of Nangarhar were all active agricultural producers. Then the government supported this with networks of irrigation canals and storage silos; the purchase and storage of excess crops; an active agricultural extension program; and a network of Agricultural Banks that helped provide working capital for farms. Even though the workforce is now 80% agricultural, only half the arable land is under cultivation, and much of that for opium. There are broad opportunities to reinvigorate the earlier production. So, for example, by 2007 fruit and nut exports had grown back to $113 million, but were still only a fraction of prior levels. Agriculture infrastucture is an obvious need along with equipment rental, and crop diversification provides new opportunities. Biodiesel production could help fill a critical economic need for fuel; saffron production in Herat has proven to be one of the best cash crops in Afghanistan and now even threatens Iran’s market dominance. A US-built soy processing facility in Mazar-e-Sharif has been basically idle due to poor organization and a focus on human nutrition rather than animal feed. Urban agriculture could provide a whole new area of development.
  • Industry. Prior to the Soviet invasion, Afghanistan had a significant light industrial base that has been destroyed by decades of fighting. Textile and cement facilities, as well as leather works, shoe factories, slaughter houses, sugar and cotton plants, pre-fabricated housing, wool processing, metal works, and vegetable oil plants are now sitting idle. The problem has been exacerbated by subsidized imports, particularly from Pakistan. So it is very difficult to start up a flour mill or a water bottling plant without protective tariffs for local industry. In one particular effort, personally related by Prince Ali Seraj, refurbishing a pharmaceutical plant was undermined by importers of fake medicine from Pakistan. Now the drawdown of Western support has significantly reduced demand. So, for example, in Herat, the economic hub of west Afghanistan, 200 of the province’s 470 factories have closed since the recent Presidential election and over 40,000 workers have lost their jobs. With the proper amount of investment, management and government tariff protection, all of these industries could be rekindled and thousands of jobs created.
  • Carpets. The rug industry is an unusual case because production does not depend on larger facilities, but is mainly a handicraft industry. So improvements here would directly affect hundreds of workers (mostly women) in rural area. The Army review estimates that production could increase several times if companies finished goods in country and sold directly to international markets, rather than exporting through intermediaries (mainly Pakistani) who add large markups and then sell to the world market without any reference to country of origin. Despite these problems, carpets have generally been the number one export item from Afghanistan so there is a clear potential for major development.
  • Mining. Afghanistan’s mineral potential represents a major opportunity for the national economy. A conservative estimate by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) agency valued these assets at nearly one trillion dollars. This includes a major copper deposit at Aynak and iron ore deposits at Hagijak as well as gold, chromite, lithium, coal, oil and gas deposits. There is some current exploitation, particularly for high-quality marble and scattered small-scale mining operations. A focused effort on gemstones has involved over 1000 women, including war widows, training artisans to produce high-quality jewelry and sell directly to the world market. But large-scale exploitation faces several major challenges. A contract with a Chinese company to mine Aynak got bogged down in corruption issues, security problems, and protection of overlying historical sites. Mining at Hagijak would require reliable rail access. Major mining efforts typically require several years of preparation, so it is critical that any contracts require initial infrastructure and human resource development if they are going to have any short-term impact. A new mining law helps to address the corruption problem, but illegal mining remains widespread.
  • Transportation. This is the key to any broad economic development, domestically to tie the country together; in a broader view, Afghanistan is central to any regional connectivity linking Central Asia to Iran and Pakistan and thence to the ocean and on to India and the Middle East. Internally, a basic network including a ring road and key extensions has been developed. But it has been hampered by security concerns and by poor quality construction – superficial asphalt road without solid bed; already much of the completed portions are badly in need of maintenance. This does provide an opportunity for significant jobs in the short term, as well as a need to build logistic facilities such as warehouses and maintenance parks. Regionally, Afghanistan is part of the traditional Silk Road network that connected China and Europe. China is actively working on revitalizing these corridors. Both China and Afghanistan are members of a Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) Program, ten nations working together on a regional transport network; Afghanistan would be the hub of this effort. Three specific aspects are worth noting. First, rail construction is critical both to tie the nation together and to facilitate international commerce. Afghanistan can also play a particular regional role as surrounding countries use three different rail gauges, so Afghanistan can create transfer facilities tying all together. Second, there is a broad effort to develop a Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India Gas Pipeline (TAPI) to transport Turkmen gas to South Asian markets; work had actually been scheduled to start this year. Finally, Afghanistan has no national electric grid and no prospects for creating one in the near future. So interconnectivity with neighboring countries is critical; existing connections with Uzbekistan can serve as a model. Construction of electric grid components could not only provide jobs but also contribute directly to short-term economic improvements

Overall, Afghanistan has an impressive potential for economic development. Failure to systematically support this development lies at the root of the current dismal situation. Afghans have no sense of their national potential or how to achieve it. With a fragmented and ineffective government, Afghans are staring nto an abyss of continuing bloodshed, civil war, economic disintegration. Although most Afghans reject the Taliban ideology as alien to Afghan traditions, many see no real prospects. Thousands are already fleeing, carrying with them many of the skills the economy needs and adding to a refugee flow that is already overwhelming Europe with refugees from Libya, Syria and Iraq. It is clear that the only real solution to the overall refugee crisis is to address the root causes in the home countries. Afghanistan is the most attractive starting point; it has not yet disintegrated into the turmoil of the other source nations; there is still an opportunity to reverse its decline before it produces another major refugee flow. So European nations have every incentive to join in an international Marshall Plan for Afghanistan to spur the economic development so central to stability and stanch a looming additional refugee flow before it intensifies. Afghan development would also help dispel Muslim skepticism on US motives, an increasingly important consideration as Daesh spreads turmoil

Obviously security is a major concern and this necessitates that initial economic development efforts must focus in quieter areas or in areas where the government can concentrate security forces. And it would necessitate working with Afghan ministries, economic associations, companies and other interested organizations to support grass roots developments, including support for current programs, such as the National Solidarity Program, which operate at that level. The immediate economic requirement is creating jobs, addressing continuing reports of Afghans who join the Taliban simply to get a job. In fact the government has recently initiated a Jobs for Peace program which could be significantly reinforced. Five years ago an Afghan Development Corps proposal to provide both jobs and infrastructure development originated in the Joint Chiefs of Staff, seeking to do just what the US Civilian Conservation Corps did in the 1930′s – put people to work. Infrastructure projects could provide short-term jobs and long-term prospects. Rail development projects are critical to real exploitation of Afghanistan’s mineral resources. Just as rail lines opened up the American West to broad development, Afghan rail projects could spur broad development in Afghanistan as well as heighten international interest in mineral exploitation and become a major joint project with Pakistan. Focused agricultural assistance in the quieter areas of the country could demonstrate broader possibilities and support an initial redevelopment of light industry. An assortment of small-scale mining operations could be developed into viable companies; large scale development remains years off, but contracts requiring initial infrastructure and human resource development could also be very helpful.

Shifting gears to economic development in Afghanistan would give everyday Afghans a whole new perspective on efforts to create a stable and prosperous Afghanistan, on how Afghanistan could become a modern nation. Broad involvement of locals would also provide a maximum incentive to support security activities. And it could provide a new model for the region. US global leadership cannot simply avoid defeat in Afghanistan but has to demonstrate real leadership in bringing stability to a failing state.

November 28, 2015
by admin

Government explores altnet fund and finds cash for mobile broadband

Alternative network developers – or altnets – could be set to receive a major funding boost from Westminster following an announcement in the government’s spending review.

The government said it would explore the possibility of setting up a new broadband investment fund that would “support the growth of alternative network developers by providing greater access to finance”.

It said the fund would be supported by a combination of public and private money, managed by the private sector on a commercial basis.

“Competition between broadband providers supports the delivery of the fast and reliable broadband a modern, productive economy needs,” said the government in its policy paper.

“Innovative approaches to supporting the market will help deliver ultrafast speeds to nearly all premises.”

A number of government-supported trials of alternative broadband delivery technologies have been running over recent months, including satellite broadband, which despite its shortcomings now appears to be emerging as the preferred solution to address the needs of the final 5%, those left out of the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) programme.

Elsewhere, rural fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) supplier and confirmed altnet Gigaclear scooped a number of contracts to deploy pure fibre broadband services in parts of Berkshire, the Cotswolds and Essex under the £1.7bn BDUK fund.

Separately, the spending review also contained details of a £550m investment to bring the 700MHz spectrum into use for mobile broadband, in support of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which earlier in November 2015 announced the worldwide harmonisation of the 700MHz band for exactly that purpose.

This area of radio spectrum is currently used mostly for digital terrestrial television and wireless communication for theatrical, musical and sporting events, some of which would need to be rehoused before the spectrum could be brought into use, which could be as long as seven years from now.

Other European Union countries have already moved on auctioning off the 700MHz band, with France having raised nearly €3bn from the process, and Germany just over €5bn, according to Total Telecom.

November 27, 2015
by admin

Gold Samsung Galaxy Note5 is finally available at Verizon and AT&T

A couple of weeks or so ago, T-Mobile started selling the gold variation of the Samsung Galaxy Note5. And today its two biggest competitors have finally followed suit.

Both ATT and Verizon are now offering the gold Galaxy Note5. While ATT only has it with 64GB of storage, Verizon only sells it with 32GB. So keep that in mind when you compare prices.

The gold Galaxy Note5 can be had from ATT for $349.99 with a new two-year contract, or $28 per month for 30 months using the carrier’s installment plan. The full price for the device is $839.99. At Verizon, you either pay $29 per month for two years, or shell out the full retail value of $696.

As you’d expect, the gold Note5 is identical to its differently colored siblings. It still comes with that 5.7-inch QHD AMOLED touchscreen, a 16MP rear camera, a 5 MP selfie shooter, 4GB of RAM, Samsung’s Exynos 7420 chipset, and a 3,000 mAh battery. It runs Android 5.1.1 Lollipop.