As the coronavirus pandemic continues to expose the hard truth of the digital divide, bringing more people online to a faster internet is more important now than ever. Earlier this year, we announced our commitment to emerging startups that shared similar goals in addressing internet connectivity challenges by introducing the Facebook Accelerator: Connectivity program. This 12-week virtual program will help startups scale their business through industry-oriented training and workshops, access to experts, and potential strategic partners and investors. After months of sourcing and vetting, we are thrilled to announce the innovative startups that have been selected to participate in our inaugural connectivity cohort:
- BandwidthX Inc.
BandwidthX provides cloud services to unlock existing mobile capacity in single operator networks and across multiple independent networks, saving costs and improving performance.
Bridgefy increases engagement and revenue for tech companies by making mobile apps accessible without the need for an internet connection.
Toolchain that enables telecom operators to build a multi-vendor HW/SW disaggregated, secure, cost-effective, reliable open RAN infrastructure.
- Clear Blue Technologies
Clear Blue Technologies provides Smart Off-Grid power technology and Energy-as-a-Service for cost-efficient power that can be installed anywhere, managed over the internet, and deliver reliability and performance to help enable the world’s internet connectivity.
- Connecting Company
Connecting Company is bringing accessible and quality internet to rural communities through a self-sustaining system.
- Crunch Mediaworks
Crunch takes low resolution, distorted videos with missing frames, and converts them into a smooth, high definition video during playback.
A decision making platform for 5G capital planning.
- Equal Access Santa Cruz
EASC’s goal is to bridge the digital divide and bring true high-speed broadband to every family in Santa Cruz County.
FreedomFi builds cost efficient cellular networks using open source software and commodity hardware.
Galgus’s mission is to unleash the full potential of Wi-Fi networks for optimization, management, analytics, and security.
- GenXComm, Inc.
(Private) 5G/LTE: Enabling reliable, interference-free 5G/LTE-mesh networking for operators and enterprises
- Metawave Corporation
Metawave is advancing automotive radar sensing and boosting 5G mm-wave coverage with its all-analog platforms.
Software platform to control, manage and automate disaggregated Wi-Fi networks compatible with Telecom Infra Project Open Wi-Fi architecture,
Netwey is a telecom operator addressing the digital divide through a model that focuses on availability and affordability.
- Plexus Controls Inc.
Plexus Controls is a developer and manufacturer of wireless sensor systems, autonomous robotic and drone platforms.
- Plumeria Networks Inc.
Plumeria Networks eliminates expenses for enterprise Wi-Fi by using software defined wireless and smart algorithms, on top of commoditization of the hardware, to reduce customer costs.
- Radio Innovation
Delivering affordable mobile Internet thus eliminating digital literacy and helping mobile operators improve coverage, data rates, capacity and profitability primarily in emerging markets.
Robin’s cloud-native infrastructure and automation solutions enables mobile operators to transform their networks to support the next generation of services, including 5G.
Tanaza offers a flexible cloud-based platform to efficiently operate Wi-Fi networks and democratize connectivity.
Whitestack provides efficient connectivity and cloud infrastructure to operators around the world, leveraging open technologies.
The program officially kicks off on November 9th, at which point the startups will begin to meet industry experts, get to network amongst themselves, and join a workshop where they will learn about partnering with Facebook Connectivity and how to make the most of the program. The program will conclude with a demo day in February, giving these startups the opportunity to showcase their work to date. At Facebook, we understand the importance of investing in the next generation of innovators and partners that bring us closer to a more connected world. We’re so excited to see the impact that startups will make through the program. Congratulations to all of our 2020 startups!
Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.
Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.
However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.
On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.
In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.
Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws
It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.
Russian social media laws
As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.
Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses
Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.
The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.
With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.
Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.
Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.