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    Thursday, August 11, 2011

    Reuter site - Verizon gets picket injunctions in 3 states, seeks more

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    Verizon gets picket injunctions in 3 states, seeks more

    Thu, Aug 11 21:17 PM EDT

    * Obtains New York, Delaware, Pennsylvania injunctions

    * Seeks New Jersey, Mass. injunctions

    * Legal moves may foretell long strike-lawyer

    NEW YORK, Aug 11 (Reuters) - Verizon Communications <VZ.N>
    won court injunctions in three states to prevent strikers from
    blocking facilities and it was seeking similar legal protection
    in two more states on the fifth day of a strike involving
    almost half the workers in its wireline business.

    Two unions representing 45,000 workers had called a strike
    Sunday after a labor contract expired and several weeks of
    talks for a new contract failed.

    By Thursday afternoon Verizon said it had been granted
    injunctions in New York and Delaware as well as Pennsylvania
    after it accused picketers of illegally blocking garages and
    work entrances. It also went to court on Thursday to seek
    injunctions for Massachusetts and New Jersey.

    The injunctions limit the number of people who can picket
    at each location and how close they can stand to building
    entrances to reduce the chances of them blocking managers from
    going into the buildings to cover for the strikers.

    While both sides continue to hold talks, the strike turned
    into a nasty public fight almost immediately after it started.

    Verizon complained about network sabotage and strikers
    blocking workers while the unions accused Verizon managers of
    injuring picketers with their work vehicles on day two.

    But the company's move to secure injunctions so soon into
    the strike could mean it is expecting the strike to drag on for
    some time, according to one lawyer who has helped companies
    with labor negotiations in the past.

    "If they thought it was going to be over soon (or) if it
    wasn't putting economic pressure on them, why go for the
    injunction?" said John Hancock a Detroit-based lawyer for
    Butzel Long. "I think they're preparing for the long term and
    it may be having some impact on them."

    The Communications Workers of America, which represents
    about 35,000 of the strikers, said the injunctions would not
    make much difference to their ability to picket effectively.

    "We will continue to be able to conduct a militant strike,"
    said CWA spokesman Robert Master.

    Meanwhile, at least one rival Towerstream Corp <TWER.O>, a
    small wireless broadband provider, is hoping to take advantage
    of Verizon's woes. It put out a statement on Thursday offering
    to waive certain fees for Verizon business customers looking to
    switch to its service to avoid installation delays.
    (Reporting by Sinead Carew; editing by Bernard Orr)

    Reuter site - Plan laid out for texting 9-1-1 messages

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    Plan laid out for texting 9-1-1 messages

    Thu, Aug 11 15:27 PM EDT

    By Jasmin Melvin

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Consumers will be able to text and send multimedia messages to 9-1-1 emergency call centers under a new plan from the top communications regulator.

    The Federal Communications Commission said next-generation 9-1-1 services will allow first responders to better assess emergencies with the ability to see photos and videos of an accident while still enroute. The IP-based infrastructure will also bring more reliability to the 9-1-1 network compared with the current circuit-switched system.

    FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski unveiled a plan Wednesday to help emergency response communications catch up to the technically advanced mobile devices people use every day.

    The FCC is expected to propose rules in September that will address the technical issues behind enabling text, photo and video transmissions to 9-1-1.

    Of particular concern to the agency will be ensuring that the country's broadband infrastructure can handle the bandwidth that new public safety answering points will need.

    An FCC official said widespread next-generation 9-1-1 services could be available in the next five to 10 years if the FCC acts and adequate funding is made available for equipment upgrades.

    The FCC is also looking at ways to more quickly get the texting component operational.

    "It's hard to imagine that airlines can send text messages if your flight is delayed, but you can't send a text message to 9-1-1 in an emergency," Genachowski said.

    Reuter site - Verizon sees FiOS less profitable than copper

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    Verizon sees FiOS less profitable than copper

    Wed, Aug 10 16:33 PM EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) - Verizon Communications' new high-speed fiber optic network will never make as much money as its old copper network, an executive said on Wednesday.

    The company has spent roughly $23 billion on building FiOS, a high-speed Internet and television service that runs on this new network. But Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo said that returns from the new service will be limited.

    "Let's face it, the FiOS cost structure will never be as profitable as the legacy wireline structure," Shammo said during the Webcast of an analyst meeting on Wednesday.

    Shammo cited fierce competition in the TV market as well as high-fees for digital content as reasons why FiOS will not be as profitable as its legacy service.

    Last summer, the company shut off its copper-based service for about 300 customers in Texas and replaced it with FiOS, a company spokesman said.

    Shammo said the company will continue to cut off its copper-based service in smaller markets that have high rates of FiOS subscribers.

    Verizon is looking into doing this in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a rural town outside Tampa Bay, a spokesman said.

    Shammo said the dynamics of the TV market means its wireline business needs a "fundamental cost change."

    The company's attempts to lower costs have crystallized as a strike by almost half of its wireline workforce.

    On Sunday, 45,000 workers from the U.S. Northeast went on strike, saying that Verizon's proposed contract asked for too many concessions in healthcare contributions, pensions, sick days and other work rules.

    Shammo said the cable market that Verizon is now competing in doesn't give its employees similar benefits, putting Verizon at a disadvantage.

    MOVING FORWARD WITH PREPAID

    Shammo also said that Verizon might be moving its trial of a prepaid unlimited data plan for $50 per month from its two trial markets.

    "The trial has gone very, very well for us," he said. "You may see us take that in a few other markets."

    Shammo said the prepaid plan had not taken service from its customers under contract. The company did not want its prepaid plans competing with its "crown jewel" contract plans, Shammo said.

    Michael Nelson, an analyst at Mizuho Securities, said the prepaid plan, which typically sells to a lower-income market, should not impact Verizon's contract business.

    "Verizon Wireless really does have premium pricing for their post-paid service," Nelson said. "Arguably, prepaid is a segment outside of their existing subscriber base."

    Shares of Verizon closed down 1.8 percent at $33.66.

    (Reporting by Roy Strom; Editing by Richard Chang and Gunna Dickson)

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    Reuter site - UK may disrupt social networks during unrest

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    UK may disrupt social networks during unrest

    Thu, Aug 11 09:57 AM EDT

    By Mohammed Abbas

    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is considering disrupting online social networking such as Blackberry Messenger and Twitter during civil unrest, Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday, a move widely condemned as repressive when used by other countries.

    Egyptian authorities shut down mobile and Internet services in January during mass protests against then-President Hosni Mubarak, while China is quick to shut down online communication it sees as subversive.

    Police and politicians have said online social networks, in particular Research in Motion's popular Blackberry Messager (BBM), were used by rioters and looters to coordinate during four days of disorder across England this week.

    "We are working with police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality," Cameron told parliament during an emergency session prompted by the riots.

    Many of the rioters favored Canadian firm RIM's BBM over Twitter and other social media because its messages are encrypted and private.

    The company said Monday that it cooperates with all telecommunications, law enforcement and regulatory authorities, but it declined to say whether it would hand over chat logs or user details to police.

    RIM's encrypted services have been blamed for aiding militant attacks in India and for allowing unrelated men and women to communicate in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

    In August last year, a source close to talks between RIM and Saudi authorities said the company had agreed to hand over information that would allow monitoring of BBM.

    Online social media was also widely used by members of the British public in recent days to help others avoid troublespots and to coordinate a clean up after the rioting had ended.

    BBM has more than 45 million active users worldwide, 70 percent of whom use it daily, sending billions of messages, pictures and other files in total every month.

    Authorities grappling with violent unrest should avoid heavy-handed clampdowns on social media and instead try to enlist the help of the public against the rioters, said John Bassett, a former senior official at British signals intelligence agency GCHQ and now a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.

    "The use of social media in the unrest looks like a game-changer. But any attempt to exert state control over social media looks likely to fail," he told Reuters.

    "A much better approach would be to encourage and support individuals and community groups in identifying alarming developments on social media and even speaking out on the internet against extremists and criminals, and ensuring that the police have the skills and technical support to get pre-emptive and operational intelligence from social media when necessary."

    (Additional reporting by Peter Apps; editing by Matt Falloon and Gareth Jones)

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