T-Mobile Completes Merger With Sprint, Legere Leaves CEO Position

After years of rumors, failed negotiations, and CEO swaps, T-Mobile and Sprint are finally one company. With government approval, T-Mobile has completed its acquisition of Sprint and will slowly absorb the company’s network and branding to become the “New T-Mobile.” This means more 5G coverage for T-Mobile customers but also less choice for all US consumers. 

It’s been a long road for T-Mobile since the AT&T acquisition fell through almost a decade ago. The collapse of that deal granted T-Mobile cash and spectrum from AT&T, allowing it to expand and offer meaningful competition to AT&T and Verizon. Not long after, rumors began to swirl about a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. None of those talks bore fruit until 2018. 

T-Mobile CEO John Legere oversaw negotiations with US regulators, which finally cleared the $26.5 billion deal with limited concessions in early 2020. Legere is often credited with turning around T-Mobile, but he’s not sticking around to run the new company. Effective today, Mike Sievert (seen above) will take over as CEO of T-Mobile. Legere, meanwhile, will remain on the board of directors until his current term is up. 

While Sprint is now part of T-Mobile, nothing will change right away. Sprint customers will continue paying their bills and using Sprint’s network. Over time, T-Mobile will migrate people to its network and retire the Sprint brand. The combination of T-Mobile and Sprint customer bases puts the New T-Mobile in the same ballpark as Verizon and AT&T. This deal wasn’t just about the customers, though. T-Mobile really wanted to get its hands on Sprint’s wireless spectrum. 

A 5G millimeter wave cell site on a light pole in Minneapolis.

As we move into the 5G era, the US spectrum map has left carriers in a bind. Many of the mid-band frequencies ideal for 5G are reserved for government use. So, carriers are using slower low-band and fast but finicky ultra-high millimeter wave bands. Sprint was the only carrier with a significant chunk of mid-band spectrum in the US — the 2.5GHz block it used for WiMAX and LTE. This spectrum can offer moderately high speeds and much better range than millimeter wave. 

This deal leaves the US with three major carriers, but the government deal required the companies to divest some assets to Dish. The idea is that Dish will become a new fourth mobile carrier, but it has been hoarding spectrum for years with no plans to offer service. Hopefully, Dish can become a stabilizing force before the big three carriers jack up prices.

Now read:

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech https://www.extremetech.com/mobile/308674-t-mobile-completes-merger-with-sprint-legere-leaves-ceo-position

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/t-mobile-completes-merger-with-sprint.html

Coronavirus: Online classes keeping students learning in London

A London academy shows how it is delivering lessons to 1,000 pupils on coronavirus lockdown.

from BBC News – London https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-52125867

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/coronavirus-online-classes-keeping.html

2021 Kia Seltos Review: Standout Subompact SUV

The hits keep on coming for Kia. This time it’s the 2021 Kia Seltos, a rugged little SUV with a handsome exterior, good passenger and cargo space, and very good handling for a subcompact vehicle that slots between the Kia Soul and Kia Sportage. With the turbo engine on upper models, it’s right quick.

It’s important to pick the right trim line because Kia goes light on driver assists on the entry Seltos. You’ll probably want middle trim levels, Seltos S Turbo or EX. Option the car right and you can also have a 10.2-inch infotainment display, all-wheel-drive, and reasonable off-roading-lite experiences. Be prepared to live with firm suspension and some cabin noise at highway speeds.

Overall, this is a great first car for people who’d prefer to spend for a new subcompact vehicle rather than, say, a two- or three-year-old compact SUV of the Sportage class. It’s also as an around-town runabout or a car for people who don’t need a status symbol. Although, from a head-on view, it could be mistaken for Kia’s wildly successful Telluride SUV.

The 2021 Kia Seltos is nicely trimmed out for an entry crossover.

The Seltos is based on the Hyundai Kona, which arrived as a 2018 model.  The Seltos shipped to global markets a year ago, and now in the US. At 172 inches, it’s 8 inches longer than Kona, also 2 inches taller, which pays off in more cargo space as well as a bit more room in both seating rows. Four adults could go away for the weekend with soft-side luggage in the Seltos without much trouble. In the Kona, the baggage rules would be: If you bring a backpack, it goes inside the duffel, or it rides on your lap because four more backpacks/laptop bags might not fit in the back.

Front-seat room is fine, and cargo space is excellent for a 172-inch-long vehicle. The second row is good, but not great.

On the Road With Seltos

I test-drove the Seltos S Turbo with all-wheel drive, a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, keyless entry, cruise control (not adaptive cruise), a leather steering wheel, and a reasonable driver-assist package. It gets to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. In a week of driving split between city and highway, I got 28 mpg, about where the EPA sets the combined driving figure.

The seats are supportive and the cockpit shows good build quality, although there are some hard plastics (with no padded trim covering) that attest to the Seltos’ affordable price point. The driver’s knee may scrape the (also not padded) center console. The cargo area is quite spacious for a small car. Handling is good, although the flip side to that is a ride that’s stiffer than passengers might like on highways.

It would have been nice to have had more than one USB jack in a car with seat belts for five, even knowing that automotive-grade jacks can cost automakers $20-plus.

If you’re a fan of the Kia Soul and want all-wheel-drive, you’re looking at the solution: one of the Seltos trim lines with AWD. It’s 7 inches longer than the Soul.

Seltos Trim Lines

The Seltos comes in five trim lines (model variants) – LX, S, S Turbo, EX, and SX – and the trim lines take the place of options packages. The few options include two-tone paint and sunroof, although production constraints currently force you to pick sunroof or two-tone paint, not both. There are two engines, a 146-hp 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a continuously variable transmission, rated at 29 mpg city / 34 mpg highway, and the 175-hp 1.6-liter turbo-four rated at 25 mpg city, 30 mpg highway.

The SX is quite well equipped, with navigation and a 10.25-inch center stack display, which seems huge in such a small car. The six-speaker audio jumps to eight with branded Bose audio and Sound Connected Mood Lamp, meaning lights in the cockpit that pulse in sync with the music. There’s UVO Link telematics, remote start, wireless phone charging, and an additional USB jack. It is the one model with adaptive cruise control and limited autonomous driving, on limited-access highways.

The Kia Seltos LX is soft on safety and driver assists. The S Turbo hits the sweet spot. Only the SX ($29K) has it all – including Level 2 self-driving.

Driver Assists for the Upmarket Models

Kia offers a lot of Seltos driver assists, including SAE Level 2 self-driving (called Highway Driving Assist). But as you browse the Kia site, eventually you’ll find most of it is not on the cheapest model. (Minor annoyance: the Seltos’ underwhelming website only lets you cross-compare three of the five trim lines at a time. The table above, from kia.com, was snipped in segments from the site and stitched together in Photoshop. Harrumph.) The entry LX, $23,110 including shipping, with all-wheel-drive, has no driver assists beyond a reminder to check the rear seats when exiting, as well as the federally mandated backup camera. The Seltos S, the same price but with front-drive, adds a front-windshield camera that provides automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning/lane centering, and automatic high beams.

The S Turbo and EX (both AWD) add blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic alert. The top trim line, SX, is the only one with full-range adaptive cruise and active driving assistance (Highway Driving Assist), as well as safe exit assist that uses blind-spot warning to keep the left-side doors from opening into approaching traffic. The top-line SX with optional sunroof and premium paint runs $30,055.

Seltos X-Line Trail Attack Concept.

Kia has been showing concept off-roader versions of the Seltos and it’s likely one will come to market to compete against smaller Jeeps. (Also to separate Kia from Hyundai in buyers’ mind: Hyundai luxury/mainstream, Kia sporty.) There’s nothing like a Jeep, as Jeep people say, but there’s an opportunity for brands that get serious about off-roading albeit with nice cockpits and good reliability.

Awesome: The top-of-the-line Seltos SX gets a 10.25-inch center stack LCD.

Should You Buy the Seltos?

There are several good cars in the subcompact crossover category. As a group, they’re luring passengers away from compact sedans. The Seltos is one of the best and the interior room is good.

The strongest challenger is the new Mazda CX-30, an excellent driving car with great handling, an upscale cockpit, and a quieter ride on the highway. The older, smaller Mazda CX-3 is still a good car, but aging.

The Subaru Crosstrek is highly regarded and has a good reputation for reliability and being able to go lightly off-road, just not over boulders. Also look at the Nissan Rogue Sport, Ford EcoSport, Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Venue, and Honda HR-V.

If you like the Kia family, both the smaller Kia Soul and larger Kia Sportage are first-rate. (The Kia Niro SUV, an inch shorter than the Seltos, is sold as a hybrid/plug-in hybrid.)

As for the Seltos, you should probably avoid the entry model because it lacks driver safety assists. Note that Toyota’s cheapest C-HR LE ($22K) has extensive driver assists, even adaptive cruise control, and the only missing safety assist, blind-spot detection, is on the C-HR XLE ($24K). We’re not recommending the C-HR over the Seltos because it’s got less room, poor visibility, soft acceleration, and lacks all-wheel-drive. But if Toyota can put all that safety tech on every trim line of an entry vehicle, so can Kia.

The S Turbo and EX represent the bang-for-the-buck sweet spot, while the SX is very well equipped for long-distance highway driving, even if it doesn’t ride as smoothly as, say, the larger Sportage. If you’re shopping small SUVs, you need to drive the Seltos. Between Kia and corporate siblings Hyundai and Genesis, they have launched almost 10 vehicles since the start of 2019, and all have been good, excellent, or, in the case of the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, and Hyundai Sonata, best-in-class.

Now read:

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/308628-2021-kia-seltos-review-standout-subompact-suv

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/2021-kia-seltos-review-standout.html

ET Deals: Fly Through the Lockdown With a DJI Mavic Mini Drone Bundle for Just $499

Due to the dangerous COVID-19 virus, cities and states across the nation are issuing shelter-in-place orders in the hopes of stopping the spread of this highly contagious disease. Being locked up all day can be boring, but it doesn’t have to be if you’ve got something fun to play with, such as a new drone. For a limited time, you can get a DJI Mavic Mini with an accessory bundle for just $499.00.

The compact DJI Mavic Mini features a 12MP camera for recording high definition video, and the drone flies for up to 30 minutes on a single charge. This gives you plenty of time to explore without worrying about the drone suddenly running out of power.

Included in the accessory bundle that comes with this drone are several useful items, including a carrying case for the drone and a cleaning and maintenance kit to help keep the drone in excellent working condition. You will also receive three batteries for the drone, which extends your 30 minutes of fly time all the way up to an hour and a half — with periodic landings to swap batteries, of course. There’s also a 64GB microSDXC card included with the bundle for saving video footage.

Right now you can get the DJI Mavic Mini with the accessories bundle from Adorama marked down from $796.29 to an exceptional price of $499.00. This deal isn’t expected to last long, so order the DJI Mavic Mini drone today and start enjoying the great outdoors from the safety of your own home.

Note: Terms and conditions apply. See the relevant retail sites for more information. For more great deals, go to our partners at TechBargains.com.

Now read:

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech https://www.extremetech.com/deals/308660-et-deals-fly-through-the-lockdown-with-a-dji-mavic-mini-drone-bundle-for-just-499

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/et-deals-fly-through-lockdown-with-dji.html

Will MPG Rollback Help or Hurt Car Buyers, Automakers?

The Trump administration Tuesday markedly scaled back Obama-era fuel economy improvements through 2026. It ordered a modest 1.5 percent per year increase in fuel economy through 2026 versus the 5 percent per year increase set by under the Obama administration. That means the US vehicle fleet would average 40.4 mpg in 2026 rather than 46.7 mpg, although government mpg numbers typically include calculations that mean vehicles actually average less.

The factions are at war over whether the savings netted from building simpler cars is offset by higher fuel costs. Clean-air, longer-life groups say the health costs of less-clean air needs to be part of the calculations. Even as the administration says this is a win for business, several automakers plan to continue following the higher-mpg, lower-emissions path and so do a dozen states. Court battles loom.

Dueling Presidents Take to Twitter

The Trump administration pegs this as a pro-business deregulatory action that will save automakers $100 billion in compliance costs.  “[The plan] strikes the right balance between environmental considerations, health and safety considerations and economic considerations,” said James Owens, acting head of the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). New EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said the rule “strikes the right regulatory balance that protects our environment, and sets reasonable targets for the auto industry.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi shot back, “The Trump administration’s anti-science decision to gut fuel standards will unleash massive amounts of pollution into the air at the worst possible time.” Pretty much what you’d expect from both sides.

In announcing the rollback, President Trump pegged the move as a boost for autoworkers and criticized his predecessor and the “failed Obama Emissions Rule.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

For his part, former President Obama linked “climate denial” with “those who denied warnings of a pandemic.” Again, about what you’d expect, with good sound bites all around. Give Obama credit for linking to a nice picture that could be sunset or smog, take your pick.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Which Way Is Better?

The higher-mpg-versus-cheaper-cars calculation is based on many variables. The Trump administration says (claims):

  • Cars will cost $1,000 less, on average.
  • Fuel consumption over the life of the car (11-12 years is average) will be more than $1,000 extra.
  • Maintenance costs will be less, enough less to make total cost of ownership be less.
  • Pollution will go up, with 867-923 additional metric tons of carbon dioxide emitted.
  • An additional 2 billion barrels of oil will be consumed. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons and if the administration uses the rule of thumb that the barrel is refined into 19-20 gallons of gasoline, 10-12 gallons of diesel, 4 gallons of jet fuel (almost like diesel), liquified gases, and heavier byproducts all the way down to asphalt, then that would be 40 billion gallons of gasoline, or $80 billion at today’s $2/gallon average price. Give or take a 10-cent-per-gallon surcharge for paying by credit card.
  • Safety will increase because more people will buy new cars that are safer (and jettison older, less safe cars since they cost $1,000 less than expected) and because fuel costs are higher than expected, the average driver will drive fewer miles, which is safer still. They say.

These numbers will have to be examined by scientists and politicians to see how closely they relate to reality as the various sides see it. Health researchers will want to weigh in on the costs of more CO2 in the air. (Carbon dioxide is a proxy for fuel consumption and goes up in direct proportion to how much hydrocarbon fuel is burned.)

Unhappy Environmentalists? Of Course

Environmentalists and EV fanatics are outraged. (Surprise.) One of the most impassioned early-innings rants is “Hey, EPA Head Andrew Wheeler: You’re an Idiot and a Liar” in Elektrek (it’s an opinion piece, just FYI). One of writer Jameson Dow’s proof points is that EPA administrator Wheeler describes “corporate average fuel economy” in print as CAFÉ with an accent mark, and while “it’s pronounced as ‘café,’ like the French word for coffee … it’s just an acronym. As such, it is not written with an accent over the ‘E.’” (More seriously, the piece takes issue with the idea that even with more CO2 there’ll be less total pollution and that lives will be saved.)

Mother Jones weighed in to note that “the reversal means a total 18,500 premature deaths, 250,000 more asthma attacks, 350,000 other respiratory problems, and a total $190 billion health costs between now and 2050, according to an Environmental Defense Fund analysis.” (A longer period than the life of cars built 2021-2026.)

That’s by no means the last salvos to be fired. It will also be a likely campaign issue in the 2020 presidential race: fully employed workers in “good-paying jobs” versus sparkling clean skies. In real life, it’s more complicated. Consider the fully employed autoworker with a child who has asthma made worse by smog.

Some Automakers Tell Trump, ‘Count Me Out’

While the president says automakers should be happy campers with this move, that’s not the case universally. In the fall of 2019, four automakers – BMW, Ford, Honda, and VW (with more than a dozen brands among the companies) committed to following California’s lead on setting tougher standards for cleaner air. This came as President Trump sought to revoke California’s right to set its own air quality standards.

California, since 1970’s Clean Air Act, has had the option to follow EPA standards or, because of California’s unique status (millions of cars and the LA Basin that traps pollution), set its own tougher rules. The law also allowed other states to follow California’s rules and 12 other states currently do, with Colorado slated to do so in 2022. (They must use EPA or California rules; they can’t set their own.)

Trump’s move to revoke California’s status will also be challenged in court, because, at one level, it’s the question of whether an executive order of the president can undo an act of Congress. But it may also include the issue of whether California has the right to regulate CO2 emissions, because when a car is allowed to emit 10 percent less CO2, it’s effectively telling automakers to raise fuel economy by about 10 percent.

The administration initially investigated the BMW-Ford-Honda-VW alliance to see if their joint actions on behalf of cleaner California air violated anti-trust law. In February the Justice Department ended the investigation, either because the optics looked bad or because the feds didn’t believe they could make their case. Ford is “committed to meeting emission reductions consistent with the California framework,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The automakers may want to follow California clean-air rules because it makes them look better on the world stage, because they still have to engineer cleaner cars for Europe especially, and because they know a rule undone by the current president could be undone once more by a change of leadership at the start of 2021.

Now read:

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/308616-will-mpg-rollback-help-or-hurt-car-buyers-automakers

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/will-mpg-rollback-help-or-hurt-car.html

Windows 10 Update Fixes VPN, Proxy Connection Internet Issues

Normally, this isn’t the kind of software update that we’d dedicate an entire post to, but with millions of people attempting to work from home for the first time, fixing this kind of problem is of outsized importance. The ability to connect to remote resources using VPNs or proxy servers has become much more important for a lot of homebound folks trying to access remote corporate resources.

Microsoft has published the following update:

An out-of-band optional update is now available on the Microsoft Update Catalog to address a known issue whereby devices using a proxy, especially those using a virtual private network (VPN), might show limited or no internet connection status.

We recommend you only install this optional update if you are affected by this issue.

The company’s landing page includes links for patching each specific version of Windows 10, so as long as you’re on a relatively recent version of the OS you should be able to update without a problem.

This problem has the potential to strike any machine that’s installed the February 27 cumulative update (KB4535996) or any of the three subsequent cumulative updates released by Microsoft, which is to say, it impacts a pretty broad swath of machines (assuming that you keep your OS updated).

If you’ve been having problems accessing Microsoft services or applications, including Office 365, Teams, Office, Outlook, IE11, or Edge, this bug is likely why. Also, please don’t use Microsoft Internet Explorer. We may be grappling with a global pandemic but there’s no reason to give up all hope.

Social distancing! Social distancing! AND YOU TWO, GET AWAY FROM EACH OTHER.

In other news, Microsoft has announced a 775 percent increase in the use of Microsoft Teams since the pandemic began in Italy, where severe lockdown measures have forced citizens into hiding for a prolonged period of time. Some of the only bright spots on the entire market, to whatever dubious extent the world economy could be said to have bright spots at the moment, are the companies providing various remote communication and telework software solutions.

In any event, this is a small news story but an important one if you’ve been grappling with trying to get Windows to play nice with a corporate VPN or proxy server. Hopefully, you can move on to more important tasks, like wondering how your next-door neighbors managed to acquire an incredibly loud dental drill cleverly disguised as a small child.

Now Read:

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech https://www.extremetech.com/computing/308598-windows-10-update-fixes-vpn-proxy-connection-internet-issues

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/windows-10-update-fixes-vpn-proxy.html

Ancient Mars May Have Had 2 Distinct Water Reservoirs

Mars from Hubble: Astronomers took advantage of a rare close approach by Mars in 2001. When the Red Planet was just 43 million miles away, Hubble snapped this picture with the WFPC2. It has a surface resolution of just 10 miles. This is the best image we’ve gotten of Mars that didn’t involve sending a robot there.

We used to think of Mars as a bone dry husk of a world. While there is some evidence of occasional flowing water on the surface, most of the planet’s water is long gone. We can still reconstruct some of Mars’ liquid past with the help of rock samples in the form of Martian meteorites. A team from the University of Arizona analyzed a pair of such objects and determined that Mars may have had two distinct water reservoirs, and that could change how we understand planetary formation. 

Scientists may one day be able to send samples from Mars to Earth — the Perseverance rover will collect some material and store it for a possible future sample return mission. Until then, the best we can do is study the handful of meteorites known to come from Mars. The Arizona team led by Jessica Barnes analyzed two Martian meteorites known as Allan Hills 84001 (of Maritan microbe fame) and Northwest Africa 7034. The former was discovered in Antarctica in 1984 and the latter came from the Sahara Desert in 2011. 

The key to understanding past water on Mars is the way hydrogen isotopes are distributed in the samples. Water contains hydrogen, but not all hydrogen is the same. Hydrogen with one neutron is known as deuterium or “heavy hydrogen.” If there are no neutrons, that’s called protium or “light hydrogen.” On Earth, the vast majority of hydrogen is protium with a ratio of 1:6,420. However, deuterium is more common on Mars today. 

When evaluating the meteorites, the mix of materials allowed the team to track hydrogen isotope levels over about 4 billion years. They found the hydrogen ratio fell between that of Earth and modern Mars consistently over that time. But that didn’t match previous research, which found hydrogen isotopes in Martian meteorites vary considerably. 

The key to understanding the results was the geochemistry of two different types of volcanic rocks on Mars. So-called “enriched shergottites” have more deuterium and “depleted shergottites” have more protium, as you’d find on Earth. If you mix those two materials together, you get close to the values observed in this study. 

According to Barnes, enriched and depleted shergottites may be a record of two different water reservoirs in the planet’s past. That doesn’t happen on Earth because our planet has a global ocean of subsurface magma that homogenizes the crust. If Mars never had that, it could tell us a lot about the kinds of materials that were available to merge into planets in the early solar system.

Now read:

from ExtremeTechExtremeTech https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/308567-ancient-mars-may-have-had-2-distinct-water-reservoirs

from Blogger http://componentplanet.blogspot.com/2020/04/ancient-mars-may-have-had-2-distinct.html