Weekly Digital News Roundup: April 16 – April 20
Google Introduces Wireless Service Called Project Fi
- According to the New York Times, Google unveiled its long-awaited phone service, called Project Fi, putting the search giant in competition with Verizon, AT&T and other wireless service providers. In addition to new turf, the service is an attempt to blend several communication tools and the multiplying ways of calling people — cellular calls, online calls like those offered by Skype — into a single phone number and service.
- For now, Project Fi could be considered an experiment. It will be available only to people using Google’s Nexus 6 phone, limiting its reach. Analysts see the new service as a bid to reimagine phone calls so that they have greater overlap with Google’s expanding world of devices and services.
- Unlike your typical cell service, Project Fi will mix traditional wireless technology, where calls are routed through cellular towers, with the wireless Internet service found in Starbucks, airports and elsewhere. Google has teamed with Sprint and T-Mobile to provide the traditional wireless service, and said it had about a million wireless hotspots for the rest.
Mark Zuckerberg seeks to ease net neutrality concerns over Internet.org
- According to LA Times, Mark Zuckerberg is defending Internet.org, the project to bring free Internet access to impoverished parts of the world. The Facebook-led initiative had been criticized for being anti-net neutrality. Internet.org grants access to only a limited number of Internet destinations, including Facebook. In India, that has led a number of start-ups to pull their support.
- In ablog post Friday, Zuckerberg said he strongly disagreed with characterizations that Internet.org violated the spirit of net neutrality. Universal connectivity and net neutrality, he said, “can and must coexist.” “To give more people access to the internet, it is useful to offer some service for free,” he wrote. “If someone can’t afford to pay for connectivity, it is always better to have some access than none at all.”
- org offers free access in local languages to basic Internet services in areas including jobs, health and education. Already, more than 800 million people in nine countries can access those services through the initiative, Zuckerberg said.
CDC using new technology to track listeria Illnesses
- According to com, the government is relying on some new technology — as well as a bit of luck — to track an outbreak of life-threatening listeria linked to Blue Bell ice cream products. Texas-based Blue Bell Creameries recalled all its products this week as listeria was found in a variety of the company’s frozen treats.
- The investigation has been helped by new technology called whole genome sequencing that maps all an organism’s DNA. With help from that new technique, federal and state officials realized the outbreak was not just a recent event — the ice cream had likely made people sick since 2010. It gives officials hope that future outbreaks can be tracked faster, and more accurately.