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Tech News: Verizon FiOS Closes in on Google Fiber, and New Research on iPhone 5 Sales Published

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Plus, Motorola and Nokia release new handsets, and the cyber threat and cyber surveillance market takes off.

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Internet speed: Google vs. Verizon.

With Internet access speeds growing by 17% worldwide and 27% in the US, providers need to catch up.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Fiber -- although available only in Kansas City -- remains one of the fastest Internet access options in the US with 1 Gbps fiber connection at $70 per month, but Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) new offering might challenge Google's speed.

The company rolled out its new pricing for the FiOS Quantum line Monday, with a blistering 500/100 Mbps uncapped speed for a mere $299.99 per month on a two-year contract. However, the speed won't be immediately available at all FiOS-enabled locations; Verizon plans to cover 70% of its FiOS customers by the end of 2014.

Analysts are skeptical about Apple's upcoming earnings.

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) Q3 financial results will be announced today after markets close, and they probably won't beat both the Street's initial estimates and last year's results, a fresh compilation of estimates say.

Nobody is expecting much from the Cupertino-based tech giant this time around. With Apple's own guidance between $33.5 billion and $35.5 billion in revenue and between 36% and 37% in gross margin, analysts expect slightly higher or flat revenue, and a declining margin – from 42.8% the same quarter last year to 37% this year.

Earnings are expected to drop significantly, from $9.32 per share to roughly $7.5 per share year over year.

In part, the results might be attributed to sales of the iPhone 5, the newest Apple smartphone to date. According to a new report, sales of the iPhone 5 represented 50% of iPhone salesfor three consecutive quarters after a short 68% burst at its launch. Roughly one-third of iPhone sales is still attributed to iPhone 4S, a model introduced in 2011.

New handsets from Motorola and Nokia are set to rekindle competition.

The traditional iPhone update is likely to happen in the fall, and with that in mind, smaller players tend to announce their handsets in the summer. Google's Motorola has revamped its Droid family today with new Mini, Ultra, and Maxx smartphones; they're available for pre-order today at $99, $199, and $299, respectively. All the devices feature Kevlar backing, improved performance, and HD screens (including an 1080p display in the Droid Ultra). Maxx boasts an enormous 3,500 mAh battery that runs for 48 hours.

But the major summer announcement from Google-Motorola is yet to come: Details about the Moto X, the flagship device dubbed "the first US-made smartphone," will be officially announced on August 1.

Finnish company Nokia (NYSE:NOK), once a venerable market leader, is now desperately trying to catch up to Apple and Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) by continuously lowering handset prices.

The Nokia Lumia 625 smartphone that was announced today will hit the shelves in early September for around $290 off-contract; it offers robust tech specs, including a 4.7-inch screen (800x480) and LTE connectivity.

The company keeps lowering prices for its entry level Lumia 520/521 smartphone, the world's most popular Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.

T-Mobile's (NYSE:TMUS) version, Lumia 521, was recently priced down to $99 (and less) off-contract – compared to $130 at Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT). And an "international version" of the device, Lumia 520, will arrive at AT&T (NYSE:T) at $99 off-contract on July 26.

Competition is heating up in the handset component market, too. Motorola said that it was using its own 8-core chips in the new Droid line-up, providing the devices with 24% more processing power and a 100% graphics boost. Samsung just unveiled its new Exynos 5 Octa chips based on ARM (NASDAQ:ARMH) solutions, featuring 3D graphics capabilities that are twice as good as previous chips in the Octa family.

Cyber security companies are on the rise, raising venture capital amid cyber threat fears.

The recent boom in media attention focused on digital privacy, cyber security, and cyber surveillance has cast some light on the thriving industry.

Cyber security startups are on the rise, collectively reaping about $700 million in financing from venture capitalist backers. Bigger public M&A deals are happening, too: Today Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO) announced its $2.7 billion acquisition of Sourcefire (NASDAQ:FIRE), a company that specializes in solutions that protect companies from cyber threats.

With the exception of public companies like Booz Allen Hamilton (NYSE:BAH), most security heavyweights like Endgame or Shape Security are privately owned.

The increase in cyber protection expenditures comes as no surprise, given the market's awareness of the threats facing the tech industry.

Cyber attacks might drain as much as $120 billion per year from the US economy, according to a joint study by Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The global numbers are even more spectacular, with an estimated annual loss of between $300 billion and $1 trillion.
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