Spring is in the air and plenty of companies seem to be in a spending mood. For starters, AT&T has sealed the deal to buy DirectTV for close to $49 billion dollars. (AT&T can walk away from the agreement the National Football League decides to take its NFL Sunday Ticket package elsewhere.) Yes, opponents of the pending Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal and telecom mergers in general are also speaking out about this one, too.
Although neither party is talking yet, Variety reports that YouTube, owned by Google, has crafted a deal to buy the videogame-streaming company Twitch for one billion dollars. While it had the checkbook out, Google also bought a company called Divide for an undisclosed purchase price. And while it’s not a done deal, the Re/Code site reports that Twitter may be considering an acquisition of SoundCloud.
On to fighting crime: Manhattan US Attorney and the FBI Assistant Director-in–Charge announced more than 90 arrests and law-enforcement actions in a massive global cyber-law enforcement operation. Meanwhile, the United States Department of Justice has unsealed an indictment of five members of Unit 61398 of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army on hacking charges. (In a probably unrelated incident, China has banned the use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system on its own government computers.)
Although the Asian market may have just gotten a bit smaller with the news, Microsoft announced some new hardware this week. Going against the trend of smaller tablets, the company unveiled a bigger version of its Windows-based Surface Pro tablet. The Surface Pro 3 has a 12-inch diagonal high-def screen and a bunch of other laptop-like features.
In happier news back home, Verizon is revving up the 4G LTE networks for some of its customers down south in Alabama. The new technology, called XLTE offers more wireless capacity and improved performance for wireless data customers; Verizon has been steadily adding XLTE service in many other markets around the country, including New York City. (If you’re burning your battery down uploading all those photos on the superfast network here in the Big Apple, be sure to visit one of AT&T’s mobile charging stations around town — all five boroughs get some love.)
In addition to thinking up new rules for Net Neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission does enforce other laws relating to telecommunications. The FCC Enforcement Bureau has come down on Sprint with a $7.5 million spanking for its failure to respect the Do Not Call List.
And finally, in case you were wondering if a certain friend is single or in a relationship, Facebook is testing an Ask button on user profiles that lets you send a gentle inquiry as to the relationship status of your acquaintance. So let’s see if Facebook’s statistics for blocks and unfriending go up in the next few weeks — or perhaps the arrival of the Step Off reply button.