Oct 2, 2018

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1 big thing: Americans get their first taste of 5G
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Data: Strategy Analytics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

It may not be the much-anticipated mobile service, but Verizon launched 5G-based home broadband in parts of four cities Monday — making it the first to offer the next generation wireless service in the U.S.

Why it matters: 5G is more than just the next generation of wireless networks. Because it can offer low latency, higher speeds and long battery life, cellular will be able to go into billions of devices and pave the way for things as advanced as remote surgery. 5G home broadband is a first step toward that world.

The details:

  • Verizon is launching service in portions of Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento.
  • Customers will get three months free. After that Verizon Wireless subscribers will pay $50 per month, while non-wireless subscribers will pay $70 per month.
  • 5G Home customers will get YouTube TV free the first three months (it will cost $40 per month after that) and also receive a free Apple TV 4K or Google Chromecast Ultra device when service is installed.

Yes, but: This is a replacement for home internet service from the cable or phone company. Most of the interest in 5G is for true wireless service and that isn't ready just yet.

T-Mobile CEO John Legere took to Twitter on Monday, downplaying Verizon's 5G in a tweet storm.

"I cannot begin to explain how important 5G is going to be for this country, so I have to say congrats to Verizon on delivering its 5G* Home Service today. It doesn’t use global industry standards or cover whole blocks and will never scale … but hey, it is first, right?!"
— John Legere

What's next: AT&T has said it will launch mobile service in some cities later this year. However that won't be phones either, but rather a portable hotspot. All four major carriers plan to offer 5G smartphone service next year.

Go deeper: Axios published a deep dive all about 5G.

2. Seeking answers to Facebook hack

Facebook, third-party apps and regulators are scrambling to figure out key details of a breach that gave hackers access to 50 million accounts, Axios' David McCabe reports.

The big picture: Observers widely noted that past security failures on this scale have always ended up affecting much larger numbers of users than originally announced. Two major online services that allow users to sign in with Facebook reported no evidence of problems, but investigations are just beginning.

What happened: Hackers stole "access tokens" that gave them the ability to control 50 million accounts. It's not clear whether they used them to get into Facebook or any of the thousands of other services that take Facebook credentials.

What they’re saying:

  • A spokesperson for Tinder said the dating app “has conducted a full forensic investigation and has no evidence to suggest accounts have been accessed based on the limited information Facebook has provided.”
  • “Spotify has not experienced a security breach,” said a spokesperson for the music streaming service, which lets you log in with a Facebook account.
  • Airbnb, another major company that lets users log in with Facebook credentials, did not comment on the potential impact of the breach.
  • Pinterest told CNN it examining the impact on its platform.

Yes, but: Tinder's spokesperson said that "if Facebook would share the affected user lists, it would be very helpful in our investigation."

Multiple congressional committees want answers about the breach, with both the House Energy and Commerce and the Senate Commerce committees seeking briefings from Facebook, per aides.

What’s next: Facebook has promised to provide regulators and the public with more details. “As we work to confirm the location of those potentially affected, we plan to release further info soon,” Facebook said in a tweet.

Go deeper: David has more here.

3. How self-driving cars can talk to humans

Test vehicle with light bar communication system. Photo: Ford Motor Company

Ford's John Shutko writes for Axios ... One challenge for self-driving cars is how to communicate with the human beings around them, including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. To do this safely, autonomous vehicles need a shared, easy-to-understand visual language to communicate their intent.

The big picture: There is currently no industry standard governing this communication. Automakers and tech companies must come together to create one, since a variety of conflicting light and color signals could cause widespread confusion and distrust.

Where it stands: There are a number of possible approaches to such a standardized communication system, from flashing lights that indicate acceleration to a solid white light that shows active driving.

  • Ford has tested an initial design — a white light bar across the top of the windshield that projects three different signals of intention — in both virtual reality and the real world with Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
  • Any method used should be as simple as a brake light or turn signal flash, which can be understood easily around the world. Text messages, for example, are a poor choice because of language barriers.
  • Regulators may also play a part, as federal requirements would preclude light colors other than amber or white on the front of the vehicle, a standard aligned with international conventions. (Ford's light bar meets the current guidelines.)

Go deeper: Ford's call for an industry standard

Read more stories like this in our new weekly Axios Autonomous Vehicles newsletter. Sign up here.

4. Ad industry finally embraces privacy rules

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

After years of preaching self-regulation, the world's biggest advertising companies are suddenly getting behind the idea of national regulation on privacy, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: The ad industry realizes it can't avoid regulation forever — especially in light of increased data breaches and scandals over the past year — so its best bet is to support federal rules now rather than face dozens of different state regulations down the line.

The latest: Four of the biggest advertising trade bodies introduced a "Data Transparency Label" Monday at Advertising Week NYC. It's the advertising equivalent of the nutrition labels on food, disclosing the sources of data and segmentation.

Yes, but: These companies are wary of some of the biggest policy proposals backed by privacy advocates, according to David, including:

  • Mandatory opt-in to get consent to collect user data.
  • Allowing the Federal Trade Commission to set rules. Currently, it can only enforce congressional law rather than create rules of its own.

Sound smart: Even though ad giants believe that supporting a national framework will stave off state approaches, federal regulation is still unlikely.

"We're skeptical of passage given the complexity of issue and potential House-Senate split in 2019-20. We see only a 35% chance of Congress passing privacy legislation in the next two years."
— Paul Gallant, regulatory analyst, Cowen

Go deeper: Sara has more here.

5. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Facebook officially named Adam Mosseri as head of Instagram.
  • Google ad and search executive Sridhar Ramaswamy is leaving to join VC firm Greylock.
  • SoFi's Joanne Bradford is joining the board of financial software and services firm Wave.


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