After bet between billionaires, South Australia buys 129MWh Tesla battery


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South Australia has suffered significant blackouts in recent months due to storms and heat. Now, the Australian state is looking for ways to fortify the grid, and it’s apparently turning to Tesla to provide some grid-tied storage.

In a press release, Tesla wrote that it was chosen “through a competitive bidding process” to build a 100 MW/129 MWh battery system, which will draw energy from Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, South Australia. The project will be the largest grid-tied lithium-ion battery system in the world.

The news comes several months after a Twitter exchange between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes, the billionaire behind software company Atlassian. Cannon-Brookes asked Musk if he could deliver 100MW in 100 days to South Australia and Musk responded in a tweet, “Tesla will get the system installed and working 100 days from contract signature or it is free. That serious enough for you?”

The high-profile bet sent Australian politicians scrambling, and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Musk personally the day after. Australian battery makers said they could beat or match Tesla’s offer on time. South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said that battery makers, including Tesla, would have to compete for access to a A$150 million ($115 million) renewable energy fund for any potential 100MW storage contract.

Now that Tesla has won a contract to install batteries in South Australia, Musk told reporters in Adelaide this morning that his company has to install the system in 100 days. Tesla’s press release notes that the system will go online in December 2017, which is more than 100 days from today. Ars has contacted Tesla for clarification and will update this post if we receive a response. According to Reuters, Musk said that missing the 100-day deadline would cost Tesla “$50 million or more,” although he did not elaborate.

Although Tesla did not divulge what its South Australian installation will cost, Musk tweeted to Cannon-Brookes back in March that he could offer “$250/kWh at the pack level for 100MWh+ systems.” That would bring a 129MWh system to about $32.35 million before taxes and labor.

Tesla has experience installing grid-tied batteries on a tight deadline. In January, the company installed an 80 MWh battery system in a little over 130 days.

from Ars Technica

Cable TV companies can charge higher prices thanks to new court ruling

Getty Images | KLH49

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The cable TV industry has won a big victory against rate regulation via a court decision that will make it harder for cities and towns to impose price controls on pay-TV service.

Today’s ruling from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a June 2015 decision by the Federal Communications Commission that helped cable companies avoid local rate regulation. The FCC, under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler, ruled that cable TV providers face “effective competition” nationwide, mainly because of the widespread availability of satellite TV service from DirecTV and Dish.

Local franchise authorities are allowed to regulate the rates cable TV providers charge for basic cable services and equipment if the local cable company does not face “effective competition.” Before the June 2015 FCC vote, the burden of proof was on cable companies to show that they faced effective competition. The Wheeler FCC’s decision shifted the burden of proof to local authorities by adopting a “rebuttable presumption” that cable operators face effective competition.

This move did not outlaw local rate regulation entirely, as an individual city or town can still regulate rates if it proves to the FCC that the local cable company doesn’t face effective competition. Cities and towns that did regulate basic cable TV rates were required to ask the FCC for permission to keep their price controls in place. (This is entirely related to cable TV; broadband services weren’t subject to the price controls. The price controls also affect only entry-level cable TV packages.)

FCC decision supported by evidence

After the 2015 ruling, the FCC was sued by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, the National Association of Broadcasters, and the Northern Dakota County Cable Communications Commission, which wanted to overturn the new restrictions on rate regulation.

Those groups filed a “petition for review of the Order as an impermissible construction of the statute and as arbitrary and capricious. We deny their petition,” a three-judge DC Circuit panel wrote in today’s decision. The commission properly relied upon evidence to determine that the vast majority of local franchise areas have cable TV competition, judges wrote.

“Here the evidence is that [satellite] services are in fact available to households in all areas, from which the Commission has reasonably inferred there is likewise effective competition in all areas,” judges wrote. “Instead of leaving it at that, however, because the statute operates on an area-by-area basis, the Commission has made that inference rebuttable with respect to any individual franchise area.”

The FCC arguments were supported in court by two cable lobby groups, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association and the American Cable Association (ACA).

Cable prices rose despite rate regulation

The price controls at issue in the court case stem from Cable Act of 1992, which “authorized the Commission to certify a state or local franchising authority to regulate the rates for basic cable service charged by any cable system that it ‘finds’ is ‘not subject to effective competition,’ the court decision noted.

Congress passed the Cable Act of 1992 after it “found rates for cable services rose significantly following the 1984 Cable Act,” the FCC says. “These rules were intended to improve service to the cable subscriber and to ensure competitive rates.”

The expansion of satellite TV has dramatically changed the competitive landscape since the early 1990s, the FCC said in its effective competition decision. Despite that, basic cable TV prices have risen significantly faster than inflation over the past 20 years, according to Federal Communications Commission data released last year.

The FCC’s effective competition decision was supported by Wheeler, a Democrat, and Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly. Democratic Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel approved of helping small cable TV companies avoid rate regulation, but they objected to giving the same relief to bigger cable companies.

The ACA, which represents small and medium-sized cable companies, celebrated today’s court ruling.

“In today’s market, consumers have at least three choices for traditional pay-television service and can elect to subscribe to many online video services, like Netflix and Hulu,” the lobby group said. “There is no longer any good reason that cable operators should remain subject to burdensome rate regulation. ACA is also pleased to see that broadcasters’ attempts to maintain unnecessary and unwarranted regulatory handcuffs on cable operators have been thwarted.”

Before the 2015 decision, cable companies had to prove to the FCC that their competitors served at least 15 percent of subscribers in a franchise area in order to get relief from price regulations in a city or town, the ACA said. This process was expensive for smaller providers, the group said.

from Ars Technica

PS4 Games Can Now Be Played on the PC

If you have been counting the days until Sony started making good on its earlier promise to bring PS4 gamers to PlayStation Now subscribers on Windows and the PS4, that day has come. Yesterday marked the launch of PS4 games on PlayStation Now and for starters there are 20 different games that you can play on the PC or PS4 console.

The games include Killzone Shadow Fall, God of War 3 Remastered, Saints Row IV: Re-Elected, WWE 2K16, Tropico 5, Ultra Street Fighter IV, F1 2015, Darksiders II Deathfinitive Edition, Evolve, MX vs ATV Supercross Encore, Resogun, Helldivers, Broken Age, Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition, Grim Fandango Remastered, Akiba’s Beat, Castlestorm Definitive Edition, Exist Archive: The Other Side of the Sky, Nidhogg and Super Mega Baseball.

Sony says that it doesn’t plan to debut new content on PS Now reports Time. If you are familiar with the line up on the PS4, you know that these are all older games. Sony execs say that the PS4 will continue to be the platform for new “frontline releases.” The executive did note that Sony has no firm criteria for when games can debut on the PS Now service.

Each month new games will come to the service and pricing is set at $99.99 for 12 months. A month-to-month subscription will sell for $19.99 monthly. A cheaper trial for the first month can be had for $9.99 to give new users a chance to check it out. If you already have a PS Now subscription you get access to the games now at no extra cost. The question that will be in many minds as these streaming games debut is how well will they perform in the real world on a variety of internet connections. Only time will tell but that $9.99 initial month sounds like a good place to test before you drop $100 on the year.

from Legit Reviews Hardware Articles

Qualcomm’s New Lawsuit Cites Six Patents, Seeks US Sales Ban of Infringing Apple Products

Qualcomm is about to enter another round of its legal battle against Apple. With a new complaint, the company is set to file on Friday with the U.S. ITC. In the complaint, Qualcomm accuses Apple of infringing its patents that cover various technologies that can extend the battery life of a mobile device and seeks to ban sales of Apple’s devices in the U.S with a limited exclusion order for non-Qualcomm baseband Apple devices, and a Cease and Desist Order for all infringing devices.

Back in January, Apple filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm and accused the company of overcharging for its chips and withholding a payment of about $1 billion in promised rebates, which is what Apple wants to get from its partner. Several days before Apple sued Qualcomm, the U.S. ITC charged the latter company with multiple antitrust violations, one of which was preclusion of Apple from sourcing baseband modems from Qualcomm’s rivals. In April, Qualcomm countersued Apple and accused the company of numerous wrongdoings, including interfering Qualcomm’s business relationships with manufacturers of Apple iOS devices as well as of artificially limiting capabilities of Qualcomm’s modem in the iPhone 7. In the new lawsuit to be filed on Friday, Qualcomm is accusing Apple of infringing six of its patents not related to wireless networks and ‘is seeking a Cease and Desist Order barring further sales of infringing Apple products that have already been imported and to halt the marketing, advertising, demonstration, warehousing of inventory for distribution and use of those imported products in the United States’.

The patents in question (see table below for details) cover various techniques that can extend the battery life of mobile devices. The patents are not covered by any industry standard, are not essential parts of any devices, and all six patents were issued in the last four years, Qualcomm asserts. At least one of the patents covers an essential aspect of any modern mobile SoC (e.g., a GPU stream processor supporting mixed precision instruction execution) and it could be considered impossible to build one without infringing that particular patent.

Qualcomm claims that Apple’s iOS devices use the aforementioned Qualcomm’s patents all the time, yet the hardware maker does not pay any royalties. What is ironic about the lawsuit is that while it does not involve Qualcomm’s wireless patents, it seeks to stop sales of iPhones and iPads with modems that compete against those from Qualcomm, essentially forcing Apple to buy baseband processors only from Qualcomm.

Qualcomm’s Patents Allegedly Infringed by Apple
U.S. Patent No.
(Year of Issue)
Name Abstract Description Qualcomm’s Description
Programmable streaming processor with mixed precision instruction execution. Relates to a programmable streaming processor that is capable of executing mixed-precision (e.g., full-precision, half-precision) instructions using different execution units. Enables high performance and rich visual
graphics for games while increasing a mobile
device’s battery life.
Low-voltage power-efficient envelope tracker. Techniques for generating a power supply for an amplifier and/or other circuits. Extends battery life by building intelligence into
the system so the antenna is always using just
the right amount of battery power to transmit,
whether it be video, text, or voice.
Compact and robust level shifter layout design. The field of invention relates to a semiconductor device and methods of manufacturing a semiconductor device handling a plurality of voltage, specifically multi-voltage circuits for shifting the voltage level between voltage domains. Maximizes smartphone performance while
extending battery life by connecting high
voltage circuits and low voltage circuits with
efficient interfaces.
Direct scatter loading of executable software image from a primary processor to one or more secondary processor in a multi-processor system. In a multi-processor system, an executable software image including an image header and a segmented data image is scatter loaded from a first processor to a second processor. Enables “flashless boot” which allows your
smartphone to connect to the internet quickly
after being powered on, while extending battery
life and reducing memory size.
Power saving techniques in computing devices. As the name implies. Enables the applications on your smartphone to
get their data to and from the internet quickly
and efficiently by acting as a smart “traffic cop”
between the apps processor and the modem.
Power tracker for multiple transmit signals sent simultaneously. Techniques for generating a power tracking supply voltage for a circuit (e.g., a power amplifier). The circuit may process multiple transmit signals being sent simultaneously on multiple carriers at different frequencies. Enables a mobile device to send high-speed data
such as live video from your phone by combining
many lanes of traffic into a data super-highway
while prolonging battery life.

Qualcomm expects the ITC investigation to start in August and for the case go to trial in 2018. In addition to the complaint with the ITC, Qualcomm also filed a lawsuit against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California alleging of the same wrongdoings.

We have questions fired at Qualcomm and Intel and will update in due course when we get responses.

Official Qualcomm Press Release

SAN DIEGO, July 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Qualcomm Incorporated (Nasdaq: QCOM) today announced that it is filing a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) alleging that Apple has engaged in the unlawful importation and sale of iPhones that infringe one or more claims of six Qualcomm patents covering key technologies that enable important features and functions in iPhones. Qualcomm is requesting that the ITC institute an investigation into Apple’s infringing imports and ultimately issue a Limited Exclusion Order (LEO) to bar importation of those iPhones and other products into the United States to stop Apple’s unlawful and unfair use of Qualcomm’s technology. The Company is seeking the LEO against iPhones that use cellular baseband processors other than those supplied by Qualcomm’s affiliates. Additionally, Qualcomm is seeking a Cease and Desist Order barring further sales of infringing Apple products that have already been imported and to halt the marketing, advertising, demonstration, warehousing of inventory for distribution and use of those imported products in the United States.

“Qualcomm’s inventions are at the heart of every iPhone and extend well beyond modem technologies or cellular standards,” said Don Rosenberg, executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm. “The patents we are asserting represent six important technologies, out of a portfolio of thousands, and each is vital to iPhone functions.  Apple continues to use Qualcomm’s technology while refusing to pay for it. These lawsuits seek to stop Apple’s infringement of six of our patented technologies.”

The six patents, U.S. Patent No. 8,633,936, U.S. Patent No. 8,698,558, U.S. Patent No. 8,487,658, U.S. Patent No. 8,838,949, U.S. Patent No. 9,535,490, and U.S. Patent No. 9,608,675 enable high performance in a smartphone while extending battery life.  Each of the patents does so in a different way for different popular smartphone features; While the technologies covered by the patents are central to the performance of the iPhone, the six asserted patents are not essential to practice any standards in a mobile device or subject to a commitment to offer to license such patents.

Qualcomm today also filed a complaint against Apple in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California alleging that Apple infringes the same six patents in the complaint filed in the ITC. The complaint seeks damages and injunctive relief.

Qualcomm expects that the ITC investigation will commence in August and that the case will be tried next year.

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