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Computing

SpaceX fears Starlink service could be trashed by 5G plan

SpaceX has said its U.S.-based Starlink customers will see their broadband service badly disrupted if Dish Network is allowed to use the 12GHz band for its 5G cellular network.

The decision is in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as Dish Network and others such as New York-based RS Access lobby the agency to let them use the 12GHz band. But SpaceX isn’t happy.

“If Dish’s lobbying efforts succeed, our study shows that Starlink customers will experience harmful interference more than 77% of the time and total outage of service 74% of the time, rendering Starlink unusable for most Americans,” the company said in a message posted on its website on Tuesday, June 21.

The long-running dispute involves a number of companies that are trying to gain access to the 12GHz band that SpaceX already uses for its internet-from-space Starlink service.

Dish has previously published data suggesting that ground-based 5G networks could comfortably share the frequency with low-Earth orbit satellite networks operated by the likes of SpaceX for its Starlink service.

But this week, SpaceX said that technical studies “dating back as far as 2016” suggest that opening up the band to ground-based 5G networks could adversely impact its Starlink service, and it even accused Dish of attempting to “mislead the FCC with faulty analysis in hopes of obscuring the truth.”

The company led by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk also shared a 12-page technical analysis explaining how mobile services envisioned by Dish would “cause massive disruptions to users of next-generation satellite services,” such as Starlink.

It explained that a high-gain antenna, like the SpaceX user terminal, is “designed with sufficient sensitivity to receive very weak signals coming from a desired transmitter,” adding that “such antennas do not, however, ‘reject’ interference coming from other directions.” The result is that interference would “completely wipe out the desired signal.”

In widely reported comments, a Dish spokesperson said its “expert engineers are evaluating SpaceX’s claims.”

Dish announced last week that it has launched commercial 5G services in more than 100 U.S. cities — covering around 20% of the nation’s population — by using frequencies in other spectrum bands. But whether it can access the 12GHz band as part of its 5G rollout remains to be seen.

SpaceX has launched more than 2,500 Starlink satellites into orbit for its broadband service, which currently serves more than 400,000 customers in 34 countries.

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Game

‘Layers of Fears’ from Bloober Team hits PC and consoles in 2023

Bloober Team is returning to its roots with Layers of Fears, a “psychological horror chronicle” heading to PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and S, and PC in early 2023. The game is a new story chapter in the Layers of Fear universe, building on the spooky psychedelic foundation laid out in the previous installments.

“We are bringing back a franchise that is really special for us, in a new form that will give players a truly fresh gaming experience and that will shed new light on the overall story,” Bloober Team CEO Piotr Babieno said in a press release. “Our plan was to recreate the games, but we didn’t want to make it a simple collection of two remastered games. We’ve worked out a new approach, something that is maybe not yet obvious. But I can tell you there’s a reason why we called it Layers of Fears.”

Bloober Team launched its original horror franchise in 2016 with Layers of Fear and an expansion subtitled Inheritance. A full sequel came out in 2019, and throughout the years Bloober Team has partnered with major studios to create spooky games including Blair Witch and The Medium.

Last year, Bloober Team entered into a partnership with Konami, the publisher of the Silent Hill franchise, fueling rumors that the studio was working on a remake of Silent Hill 2. These rumors came to a head just before the Summer Game Fest kickoff show this year — but turns out, it was Layers of Fears all along. The studio is reportedly working on multiple games simultaneously, so there’s still a chance for Bloober Team to get in on the Silent Hill franchise.

Bloober Team is co-developing Layers of Fears with Anshar Studios, which also helped out with Observer: System Redux.

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Tech News

Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest phone show, cancelled over coronavirus fears

This year’s iteration of the world’s biggest phone show, Mobile World Congress, has been cancelled, mere weeks before it was supposed to kick off in Barcelona, Spain, on February 24. Before the cancellation, many of the show’s exhibitors withdrew over the past week due to coronavirus fears.

John Hoffman, CEO of the GSM Association that runs Mobile World Congress, announced the cancellation in a statement.

“With due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today, the GSMA has cancelled MWC Barcelona 2020 because the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances, make it impossible for the GSMA to hold the event. The Host City Parties respect and understand this decision. The GSMA and the Host City Parties will continue to be working in unison and supporting each other for MWC Barcelona 2021 and future editions. Our sympathies at this time are with those affected in China, and all around the world.”

While the biggest names in mobile—Apple, Google, and Samsung—tend to shy away from announcements at Mobile World Congress, instead preferring to reveal new products at dedicated events where they own the spotlight, MWC remains an important event for the industry. But Mobile World Congress 2020 would’ve been barren if it wasn’t scrapped, as LG, ZTE, Sony, Amazon, Intel, Nvidia, Vodafone, Nokia, Ericcson, and other companies pulled back from the show to prevent potential coronavirus exposure.

“Ericsson appreciates that GSMA have done everything they can to control the risk,” the company said in its withdrawal announcement. “However, as one of the largest exhibitors, Ericsson has thousands of visitors in its hall each day and even if the risk is low, the company cannot guarantee the health and safety of its employees and visitors.”

Mobile World Congress isn’t the only global event to shut down. This morning, WordPress also announced that its WordCamp Asia event scheduled for February 21 in Bangkok is also being cancelled due to health concerns. Earlier this week, PUBG Corporation announced that PGS: Berlin—a major PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds event—will be postponed from its original April schedule thanks to the coronavirus.

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Tech News

WhatsApp tries to ease users’ privacy fears with Status messages

WhatsApp, the popular messaging app that many users have abandoned for alternatives, is now using Status messages in an effort to reassure users that their data is safe. Put simply, Status messages are the same as Stories found on other platforms like Instagram — and WhatsApp plans to use them to talk about privacy.

WhatsApp has faced user privacy concerns surrounding an upcoming privacy policy change and general public distrust surrounding Facebook. The company has scrambled to address these concerns while competitors like Telegram report a huge uptick in new users.

A recent report from The Verge notes the presence of WhatsApp Status messages that offer snippets about the company’s privacy practices, stating things like, ‘WhatsApp can’t read or listen to your personal conversations as they’re end-to-end encrypted.’

The company confirmed its plan to use the Status feature to get information out to users, citing ‘a lot of misinformation and confusion’ about the latest update and the platform’s privacy practices. Users will be able to get updates about the topic in WhatsApp’s Status tab.

Users who want more information can head over to the WhatsApp FAQ page where the company talks about the latest privacy policy update. On the page, the company details the information neither it nor Facebook can access, including shared location, personal messages, and voice calls.

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