AT&T Temporarily Lift Data Caps in Response to Corona Virus Pandemic

broadband, Internet


Due to the corona virus epidemic, two big ISP companies have changed a few details in their home internet broadband plans to encourage working and studying from home.

AT&T is waiving overage fees and removing data cap after learning that the government is advising everyone including employees, and students to stay at home. According to Motherboard’s report, many customers of AT&T are already enjoying unlimited internet access after the data overage fees are waived. AT&T is also offering internet data to families who have limited income at only $10/month through Access. Data caps and overage fees are not charged in every internet plans so you should check with your ISP provider.

In response to the corona virus, Comcast is currently offering 60 days trial for the Essentials internet service plan for new customers. For a temporary period, the Xfinity Wi-Fi hot spots will also be given free access to everyone. They are also pausing their data plan so that their customers can enjoy unlimited data for free.

Dana Strong of Comcast stated that using internet at home becomes all the more important after American families have been encouraged to stay at home due to corona virus during an interview with Business Insider. Comcast’s Essential service costs $9.95/month in regular price. In addition, Comcast also announced that they will improve the speed of their internet plan from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all customers. The upgraded speed will be a standard for their internet plans.

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel of the Federal Communications Commision’s Democratic stated her concerns for those who choose to work and learn from home with internet might exceed the data limit and get a penalty charge from their internet service providers. She said that it is unfair to encourage people to work and learn online and then learning afterward that they have to pay a premium fee for it.

Many educational institutions, government offices, and lawyer offices have been shut down and employees are told to work from home until the corona virus epidemic is over. The infectious disease official in the US said that they can no longer rely on their testing systems. The travel restrictions imposed by President Donald Trump is also getting criticized by the people in Europe. Up to date, there is not a single ISP provider that has yet to notice any slow down in their network after encouraging Americans to stay at home to use the internet.

Spectrum is also prepared to face peak usage during this period. They told Business Insider that their servers are durable enough to endure overload use that frequently occur in the evening so it should be no problem for them to deal with it if it occur in the day time.

In a statement with Business Insider, Altice revealed that it has recently invested in new technology to improved their network capacity so that they can satisfy their customers’ demands. This include setting up contingency plans in case there is an overload usage on their servers.

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Fire at AT&T Facility Causes Massive Internet Outage in Dallas



AT&T internet service in Dallas has experienced a widespread outage starting from 10 a.m. Monday after a fire occurred at one of their facilities. Down Detector report shows that the internet service has been interrupted in the regions from Fort Worth to Garland to Dallas to Frisco. As soon as the outage occurred, AT&T  team quickly update their Twitter account with the status of the restoration progress.

Before the outage occurred, there was a heavy rain with lightning. It was thought that the lightning hit the facility and caused the fire. The fire crew came and left at 12:15 pm.  Curtis Poovey, the Fire Chief of Richardson fire department said the outage was not caused by the lightning strike. He commented that they still could not determine the reason why the wiring in the electrical room caught fire.

Customers are still experiencing outage at 9 pm on Monday. AT&T team replied hat they are not equipped with ETA. Customers with internet and cable reported that the internet service was back at around 9:30 pm. About 10 minutes later, sporadic customers reported that the internet is back but they still couldn’t access internet on their phones.

Fortunately, at 10:30 pm, the internet service was restored. Many customers are unhappy about the outage and demanded that AT&T provide some sorts of compensations. Many who filed the complaints rely on internet to work at home. The outage also affected  internet phone system of businesses who use AT&T business internet plan.

The outage caused the AT&T customer telephone support line and Twitter account to be flooded with complaints. One customer who was angry demanded refund for his phone data as he was forced to convert his phone into a Wi-Fi spot when the outage occurs. AT&T did not reveal the number of customers that are affected by the internet outage on Monday.

They also did not comment whether they will be providing any compensation for customers. Charles Bassett, the spokesman for AT&T, said that customers who are not satisfied can talk to the customer care team. Some people remarked that the outage coverage could be limited if there is a backup plan in place.

Scott Kingsley, the program director for telecommunications and network engineering graduate program at the Southern Methodist University, said that facility of big internet and cable company like AT&T should have battery and diesel generators in place. However, he believes that no electricity can pass through if the wiring is burned.

It seems that the Richardson switching station is the station where all U verse services are routed. What surprises Kingsley is that they did not reroute the customers when damage occured at the Richardson station. However, he said that there is no need for every company to make such preparation in their facilities because redundancy can occur all the times.

On Tuesday morning, people are still circulating the hostile and humorous messages on Twitter. Many of the social media messages are tagged with the #attoutage hashtag. Some people are still experiencing internet connection problems but it is on a smaller scale now.

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AT&T Launching a New Service to Compete with Netflix Next Year



On Wednesday, AT&T announced that they will start offering a new service to compete with Netflix next year. The new service plan will feature HBO as the leading content. At the moment, the company is already offering streaming services like DIRECTV Now, HBO Go, and HBO Now.

DIRECTV Now is designed for people who prefer streaming TV on their mobile devices. It is a great option for people who want to find an alternative to cable TV. HBO GO which requires a cable login allows you to watch TV shows on devices like phone, tablet, and computer. HBO Now is a standalone platform dedicated to broadcast HBO shows. Besides, AT&T also has a streaming service that specializes in offering DC Comics show. This plan costs only $7.99/month.

John Stankey said that Warner Media will provide lots of additional contents along with third party content at the New Establishment Summit in Vanity Fair on Wednesday. The decision comes after Dallas based AT&T had acquired Time Warner for $109 billion. He continued to say that they have lots of loyal customers who are interested in their content. Stankey hopes that they will launch a compelling product that can help them to increase their customer base.

Stankey said the reason why they introduce the new service plan is because they want to offer something that will give customers more time of engagement. He thought about what he can do to make the brand unique and resolved that the solution is to provide more interesting entertainment that will increase the customer engagement.

Ever since AT&T has taken over Time Warner, Stankey has been doing his best to improve HBO content. He wants AT&T to offer entertainment products that are as high quality as Netflix. HBO puts a lot more emphasis on quality instead of the quantity of movies. On the other hand, Netflix has more movies and shows to offer. Stankey now hope that HBO can offer just as many shows as Netflix.

Warner Media did not state what property it will include in the new service plan. Warner Media is the owner of movie franchises like Batman. It also has shows that aired on big networks like CNN, TNT, and TBS. The new service plan will include shows from the Cartoon Network. The plan is only available with the HBO included. Customers can also purchase the HBO separately.

The price will be more expensive than HBO which is priced at $14.99. Stankey said that it will be given a compelling price point due to the highly competitive fields. The price will only announced when close to the launch date next year. The plan on launching the new service plan was telegraphed at a New York Investor road show last month. The telegraph was sent by AT&T chief executive officer (CEO), Randall Stephenson. AT&T plans on launching the service in the 4th quarter of 2019. The launching of the new service will put AT&T in competition against other rivals such as Netflix,  CBS All Access, YouTube Premium, Hulu and Amazon.

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T-Mobile CEO Attends a Meeting with Sprint Employees in Kansas

broadband, mergers


The merging of Sprint and T-Mobile is postponed while the FCC carries out examination on the broadband wireless products offered by both cable companies. The examination is carried out to prevent issues related to antitrust occur after the merging. The FCC is just doing its job on protecting consumers from competitions. Both cable companies are to attend the evidentiary hearing set by The California Public Utilities Commission. The decision will only be revealed by June.

The 14 point review that the commission wants to conduct could stall the merging of Sprint and T-Mobile as they attempt to get fast regulatory approval. Sprint and T-Mobile has talked about merging into a single company for many months. The $26.5 billion merging was proposed in April this year. If the merging succeed, it will reduce the wireless provider to 3.

Tammera Chafee, a representative of Communication Workers of America said that they just want to make sure that John Legere promise that the merging will not affect the 4,100 jobs in the Kansas City area and that they will also do what they can to protect the 28,000 jobs that are forecast to lost after the merging. This is a big issue since Sprint is a large company in Kansas City area.

Recently, T-Mobile CEO has made a visit to Sprint Campus in Overland Park which shows that it values the presence of Sprint in the community. The Overland Park Chamber of Commerce has given his compliments on the merging. Dave Tovar, the spokesman for Sprint, told the press that Neville Ray and many others including Braxton Carter, and Sunit Patel has attended it. The meeting provides an opportunity for the T-Mobile team to introduce themselves. They also talk about how they can integrate Sprint into Bellevue. Tovar said the merging is something John Legere and Mike Sievert want to do.

During the meeting, Leger has given positive encouragement to Sprint employees on their talents. He also offer comparison between Overland Park campus and the second headquarter of Amazon. Legere has also talked with a number of Sprint employees. Some employees have posted photos of themselves with their possible new boss on Twitter. Employees can ask question through texting. The text must include the name of the employee and the location of his office. After the meeting, everyone goes outside to celebrate with music and food trucks.

T-Mobile does not have any responsibility to retain Sprint campus or meet a job quota. However, they will just try to prevent sending hundreds of workers into retrenchment. Oltjen said the intention is for the company to be strong in Washington and Kansas City area as well as to offer strong job opportunities for customers.

Comcast is the largest cable provider in the US. Comcast has provided a new wireless product last year and over 780K customers have signed up. Comcast provide its wireless services through Verizon Communications Inc. airwaves. It also offer over 19 millions Wi-Fi hotspots through Xfinity. Altice USA is also getting a query from FCC as it is involved in a deal to use Sprint’s airwaves.

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Verizon Breaks the Record by Reaching 1.45 Gbps on LTE in New York

4G, 5g, verizon wireless


Verizon has made a breakthrough in 4G by reaching a speed of 1.45 Gbps in New York commercial environment. The breakthrough in the internet speed is as the result of the cooperation with Qualcomm and Nokia. Bill Stone, the vice president of Technology Planning and Development, said that they will keep on upgrading their LTE network as they make the transition to 5G.

Next week, Verizon will be launching the 5G service in 4 cities. The 5G service promises to offer a speed of at least 1 Gbps. This speed is 10 – 100 times faster than the typical 300 mbps speed. However, Verizon also said that some 4G phones will be able to outperform 5G network by 50% which leads to some consumers asking the question why.

Right now, the chipmaker, Qualcomm is making a a chip called Snapdragon x50 series designed for 5G device. However, it also has been making another chip called 4.9G (x24), close to 5 G, which is designed to provide 4G device with higher performance over 5G device. When 5G debuts, many mobile devices will start to use x50 modems but there will also be some will use X24 modem only.

There are also a few devices like Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod that will include two types of modems including x50 and X24 modems. In case the 5G tower is not available, the user will still be able to connect to the internet through the 4G network. There is no clear designation on the speed range of 4G and 5G, for example, the speed of 4G is in between 5 Mbps – 1 Gbps and the speed of 5G is between 1Gbps – 100 Gbps. Rather, a more accurate statement is that there will be overlapping from the upper level of 4G to the lower level of 5G.

The late improvement on 4G will offer a lot of benefits for consumers. 5G consumers can enjoy faster fall back speed while 4G consumers can access a faster internet speed. Verizon told the press that they were able to achieve the record breaking speed of 1.45 Gbps on 4G LTE because they have a technology that features 6 channel carrier aggregation.

The 6 channel carrier aggregation includes 2 licensed radio frequencies and 4 shared spectrum. Verizon plans on using the same aggregation technology on the 5G network. In addition, Verizon also rely on the two technologies including the 4×4 MIMO and 256 QAM to fill the spectrum with data. The two technologies are already avaialble in more than 1,110 markets in the USA.

According to Qualcomm, Snapdragon X24 can offer up to 2GBps of speed on a LTE network. This means that there is a possibility that it will achieve a breakthrough record in 4G network. Verizon and other carriers are working hard to market its 5G service by advertising its advantages like low latency and improved security. Verizon aims on providing the 5G service in mobile hotspots and residential areas in the selected cities. Customers who order the 5G Home Internet and TV will receive free installation of the Wi-Fi devices. Free router and software upgrades will also be provided.

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Microsoft is Bringing Broadband Internet to Urban Iowa Counties

broadband access


Microsoft has signed a deal with Quad Cities to improve the broadband internet services in the rural areas in a few states including Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota. Besides, Microsoft and Network Business Systems are also working together to bring internet access to the residents in 3 counties including Scoot, Muscatine and Clinton. David Peters who holds a position as an associate professor in Iowa State University says the area where Microsoft plans to expand the internet service are not rural.

The city Davenport is located in metropolitan Scott County. Muscatine and Clinton are micropolitan counties with population ranging from 10K – 50K. However, Muscatine and Clinton are not modernized and has been reduced to more of a rural area. Peters said that experts remarked internet access is the key to modernized a rural area during the 1990s – 2000s. However, no action has been taken to bring internet access to rural America.

Peters told the press that if he has money to invest in building internet broadband infrastructure in the rural Iowa, he would choose the northwest or north central region. This is because these two regions are losing population fast. The people are moving to the city because it is not convenient for them to access internet in the rural area.

Peters said that he don’t know if it is wise to make such an investment. However, he suggests investors to install the internet infrastructure if they are interested in improving rural Iowa. Microsoft believe that there is a lack of internet broadband access for rural residents in urban counties.

The data of Federal Communications Commission shows that internet broadband amenities is not available to more than 60% of residents in Muscatine County. Clinton County and Scott County are much better than Muscatine County. It is estimated up to 71% of residents in Clinton County have access to broadband.

In Scott County, 80% of its residents have internet access. The FCC data shows a comparison of 98% urban Iowans that have internet access compared to only 77.4% rural Iowans having internet access. Broadband is defined as an internet access with minimum download speed of 25 mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3 mbps.

The goal of Microsoft is to help in providing internet access to the rural communities and to turn them into buyers of Microsoft products one day. Network Business Systems did not want to accept Microsoft funding offer. They will only get help in the form of technical support from Microsoft.

Network Business Systems owns 120 towers and each tower has the ability to transmit up to 7 miles range. They specialize in working with farms, businesses and private residential homes in rural regions to provide internet access. The technology Network Business Systems allows them to provide fast internet at a lower cost.

Doing so help them to avoid installing fiber optic wire to provide internet connection to the rural area. Kari Hoffman, the general manager of Network Business Systems, said that getting technical help from Microsoft may help them to get more customers as not many are aware of the technology.

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Altice USA Debuts Gigabit Fiber Services for Long Island



Altice USA has just launched Altice Gigabit fiber services for residential customers on Long Island. It is the fastest internet service on Long Island. The fiber internet is delivered via the new fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network based on the latest optical fiber technology in Altice Labs. Customers will use the giga optics router and WiFi device to connect to the gigabit fiber internet at home.

Currently, only selected areas of Long Island has access to Altice fiber internet service but they said they also plan to offer it in more areas on Long Island and in New York region. It is currently offering up to 400 mbps internet plan to residential customers and 450 mbps internet to business customers on the HFC network. Altice USA said that it plans on improving the hybrid fiber-coaxial (HFC) network by offering gigabit services next year.

Hakim Boubazine, the copresident of Altice USA said that Altice Gigabit fiber service is only the first step that they take to improve their network. He said they plan on activating a full fiber network that feature a smart Wi-Fi feature on the HFC network in the near future. The smart Wi-Fi will automatically switch to different frequencies depending on the device. Their goal is to offer up to 10 gigabit internet services to meet the increasing demand of data usage.

Dexter Goei, the chairman and CEO of Altice USA, said that they are happy with the achievements they have made so far. They hope that they can introduce more innovative products and services for customers. With Altice Gigabit services, customers can watch ultra high definition and high definition videos on the internet.

Customers can have optimal online gaming experience when playing big games online. Large files can be downloaded fast from the internet without having to wait for a few days. It allows you to enjoy optimum experience when playing virtual reality games. You can make video calls and chat on your computer smoothly without any silence in between.

The WiFi extender services offers increased coverage in all the corners of your home. The Wi-Fi extender service allows you to control the Wi-Fi availability in your entire house through an app. The gigabit service is great for household with a lot of people staying that needs internet connection for their devices.

Altice USA has just become independent of Altice NV and has formed its own organization after merging with Cablevision and Suddenlink. Altice USA is one of the top broadband providers in USA. Besides broadband services, it also offer cable television and telephone services. Customers that subscribe to Altice USA broadband plan will have access to free wi-fi hot spot.

At the moment, Altice USA has a base of approximately 4.9 millions customers including residential and business customers. Recently, it has debuted its gigabit services in 7 different cities including Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. They want to offer 1 Gbps broadband to up to 60% of Suddenlink customers.

Last month, Altice USA has successfully established its Altice Business unit which consists of departments such as Lightpath, Optimum Business and Suddenlink. Altice Business Unit offers several types of services including voice, video and managed services.

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Sprint Launches Unlimited Premium Plan



Sprint has recently rolled out a new series of Unlimited plans. The most powerful plan called  the Unlimited Premium plan is priced at $90/month. This pricing is valid only when you select the autopay option. The plan includes 2 subscriptions including Hulu and Tidal Lookout.

With this plan, you will be able to make unlimited nationwide calls/SMS and use up to 50GB of data in LTE hotspots. There is no charges for phone calls and texting to Mexico and Canada. It offers optimal movie watching experience at full HD streaming on your device.

The special bonus that comes with the Unlimited Premium plan is the free Amazon Prime membership that costs $119/year. Sprint did not purposely arrange for a partnership with Amazon to have the Amazon Prime membership included. They include the Amazon Prime membership as a unique bonus as other plans offered by the competitors did not have this bonus.

According to Sprint, it would cost $130/month if they did not offer any discount. Therefore, signing up for the plan will save you at least $40 per month which equals to $500 in a year. Sprint told the press that they are likely to include a free $20 monthly Uber credit in the Unlimited Premium plan in the near future. The Uber credit is for $10 per ride and up to 2 rides only.

It will cost you an additional $70 per month for a second line and additional $50 per month for the third line. For the fourth and fifth line, they will cost $30 per month for each line, Besides, Sprint is offering a $10 discount per line for anyone who bring their phone and port in their number. Customers can also get the $10 discount per line by purchasing a new phone at the online store.

Sprint also has two other Unlimited plans which are Unlimited Plus and Unlimited Basic. Unlimited Plus offers features such as Hulu and Tidal, 15 GB LTE, 1080 HD streaming. It offers unlimited talk and text and up to 10 GB of 4G LTE data for roaming in Canada and Mexico. It also support text and data in more than 185 countries. The Unlimited Plus plan costs $70 per month with autopay.

The Unlimited Basic plan only have Hulu subscription. When you are in a mobile hotspot, you can stream up to 500 MB of LTE data. It supports 480p DVD quality video streaming on the web. It offers unlimited talk, text and up to 5GB of 4G LTE data. With this plan, you can also send text and use internet in more than 185 countries just like the other two plans. The Unlimited Basic plan costs $60 per month with auto pay option selected.

The Sprint Unlimited internet plan deal is best for people who live in a region that is serviced by Sprint. It is also in the news that Sprint wants to merge with T-Mobile by the end of 2019. Therefore, Sprint may not be offering the new plan for a long time. If it successfully merge with T-Mobile, they will be able to provide wireless plans with faster internet connection.

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FCC Funds Broadband Companies to Build Internet Infrastructure in Rural Communities

infrastructure, internet access


Over 1.7 millions people in the country side areas will soon be able to enjoy internet access after a successful auction organized by the Federal Communications Commission. More than half of the rural population will get to access to high speed internet with download speed of 100 mbps. At least 19% of them will be able to access gigabit connection. The rest will enjoy an internet connection speed of at least 25 mbps.

FCC chairman, Ajit Pai told the press that he has always been trying to improve the broadband service for rural area. He said he is motivated by the people he saw in the rural communities who always try to use internet to help others. He hope that many people will choose to stay back in the rural community and not move away since they are now providing broadband access. It is the goal of FCC that everyone in rural regions can access a decent speed internet at home in the next 10 years.

The agency created the auction 2 years ago calling out to providers to start offering internet broadband services to customers in the rural areas. The auction was officially started nearly 2 months ago on the 24th July. Universal Service Fund is the company that contributed the two billions dollars to the Connect America Fund for subsidizing the broadband companies interested in building the infrastructure. About $1.5 billions of the fund has been allocated to 103 providers. The cost is enough for covering the broadband for about 10 years.

There are 3 companies that will receive a combined funding of $12 millions. The first company is Viasat who received $5.43 millions as subsidy for building the infrastructure in West Virginia. Viasat also receive other funding that total up to $122.5 millions which makes it the largest auction beneficiary. Viasat’s minimum internet standard is 25 mbps download speed.

The second company is Citynet who received $6.51 million as funding for carrying out the work on 898 locations. The third company is Hardy Telecommunications who receives $47,435 for setting up an infrastructure with gigabit connection in Hampshire County. Hardy Telecommunications offers internet in the gigabit performance, which is the highest standard in the performance tier. No funding is provided for Frontier to carry out the work in West Virginia.

The auction was participated by over 220 companies and has 103 winning bidders. The winning bidders will constructing infrastructure in the rural area of the 45 states to connect the residents their to internet. The priority is given to bidders who is able to offer internet services with high speed, low latency and generous bandwidth. There is no restriction on the type of technology the bidder uses to build the infrastructure.

Winning bidders are required to submit long form application that explain how they will plan to use the fund. They will only receive the funding following the approval of their long form applications. The building of the infrastructure must be completed by the 6th year. The FCC will soon launch another auction called Mobility Fund Phase II auction to increase the coverage of 4G LTE in rural areas.

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Verizon Will Offer Apple TV 4K as an Option in 5G Residential Broadband Packages This Year

Apple, News


Last week, Verizon reveals its plan to include Apple TV 4K as a freebie in their 5G residential broadband packages. The 5G residential broadband package is a new internet plan that is set to launch in the 2nd half of the year 2018. Apple TV 4K which costs $179 in the market provides customers with access to videos on iTunes, Netflix, Hulu and Amzon Prime Video.

The reason why Verizon makes the decision to offer Apple TV 4K in the 5G plan is because 5G broadband is still new and not yet well received yet by the locals. No one will be interested in getting their cable modems replaced at an additional fee unless there is an interesting freebie.

In the past, Apple has tried hard to get into a partnership with cable companies to include the Apple TV in their subscription plans but they had little success on it. Nowadays, more and more cable companies have consented in offering the Apple TV 4K as an alternative for customers. Apple TV 4K is a black square box which you can use to play 4K videos, and cheap games.

The mission of Verizon is to become the first provider of 5G residential broadband and 5G mobile services in the USA. The new plan will only be available in 4 states including Indianapolis, Houston, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.Previously, they give customers a traditional cable box. There are other providers like US based DirecTV and Switzerland based Salt who also offer Apple TV 4K to their broadband customers.

Apple TV 4K allows broadband subscribers to access free and paid cable content via a variety of apps. The app will keep a record of the movies that you have watch so you can always refer back to the history to keep track of the watch movies. It can work with Siri and let you control different functions by giving your voice command. You can tweak its setting to allow it to start streaming fast without 5G connection.

Verizon also plan provide YouTube TV subscription as an option for subscribers because they know not every customer want an Apple TV 4K. YouTube TV costs $40/month and will provide access to 60 TV networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Disney, and ESPN. Besides, you also get access to a number of free TV services. The team from Verizon can help you to install the Apple TV 4K while they are installing the 5G modem in your home.

Verizon did not release any information about the terms and conditions of this offer. Customers will have to choose between Apple or Google product. Verizon regularly roll out new deals. For example, recently, they offer 6 months of Apple Music subscription for the unlimited data plan.

Verizon claims that the 5G broadband offers internet connection that is 10 – 100 times faster than your current internet. It will allow your internet connection to support more devices. This is a temporary promotion because Verizon said that the offer will only be valid during the initial 5G broadband offering in the 4 cities which will take place later this year.

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