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January 23, 2013

Technology News Briefs — Jan. 23, 2013

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AT&T to Purchase Alltel U.S. for $780M

AT&T will be shelling out $780 million to acquire Atlantic Tele-Network’s Alltel U.S. retail wireless operations.

The purchase, which will include the licenses, retail stores and network assets, along with about 585,000 subscribers, is a bid by AT&T to increase its range in rural areas.

Alltel’s network encompasses roughly 4.6 million people, mostly in rural areas across six states: Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina.

AT&T said network upgrades will improve mobile Internet service for both Alltel and AT&T customers. Alltel runs on CDMA, so customers will need to be upgraded to GSM once the acquisition is complete.

The deal is subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2013.

Mozilla Announces Developer Preview Phones

Mozilla announced its developer preview phones Jan. 22 — devices that will allow developers to test its new Firefox OS.

The phones, which are being developed by Geeksphone in partnership with Telefonica and Geeksphone, are a bid by the company to “make the mobile web more accessible to more people,” says Mozilla director of websites and developer engagement Stormy Peters in a blog post.

“Developer preview phones will help make the mobile web more accessible to more people. Developers are critical to the web and to Mozilla’s mission to make the web accessible to everyone,” Peters writes. “Now we are working on bringing the power of the web to mobile, through Firefox OS, along with all the power of open standards and an open community.”

The developer phones, dubbed Keon and Peak, will run software created with HTML5. Peters says HTML5 apps can do “phone things — they can make the phone vibrate, make a phone call or send a text message.”

The Keon specs include: CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S1 1Ghz, UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA), GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE), screen 3.5-inch HVGA multitouch, 3 MP camera, 4GB ROM, 512 MB RAM MicroSD, Wifi N, light and proximity sensor, G-Sensor, GPS, MicroUSB, 1580 mAh battery, over the air updates, unlocked, add your own SIM card.

The Peak specs include: CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 1.2Ghz x2,  UMTS 2100/1900/900 (3G HSPA), GSM 850/900/1800/1900 (2G EDGE), screen 4.3-inch qHD IPS Multitouch, Camera 8 MP (back) + 2 MP (front), 4 GB (ROM) and 512 (RAM), MicroSD, Wi-fi N, light and prox. sensor, G-sensor, GPS, MicroUSB, flash (camera), battery 1800 mAh.

300 More Blockbusters to Close

The ever-growing popularity of on-demand Internet streaming media companies like Netflix and online video sites such as YouTube means more nails are hammered into the coffins of brick-and-mortar video stores.

Dish Network announced this week it will close 300 more Blockbuster stores putting about 3,000 employees out of work.

Underperforming stores and those nearing the end of a lease will be on the chopping block. With the recent cut, only 500 U.S. Blockbuster stores will remain in business — 26 of them near Dish Network’s Colorado headquarters.

The Dish Network acquired Blockbuster out of bankruptcy for $320 million in 2011. At the time of purchase, Blockbuster had 1,700 retail sites and a streaming service.

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