Today, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) announced that development has started on the new Media Agnostic USB Specification. This new spec will allow wireless storage solutions to communicate over the USB protocol without the need for a physical connection. More importantly, the goal of the specification is to allow wireless gigabit transfer rates leveraging existing USB infrastructure.
The WiGig Serial Extension v1.2 specification will provide the initial foundation for this new spec. This WSE specification will be formally transferred to the USB-IF from the Wi-Fi Alliance.
"We are pleased to see the USB-IF use the WiGig Serial Extension in its development of the Media Agnostic USB specification," said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. "Advanced wireless usages of serial bus technology have the potential to deliver great benefit to users."
Additionally, wireless devices implementing the MA USB specification will retain compliance with the SuperSpeed (USB 3.0) and Hi-Speed (USB 2.0) protocols.
HDMI 2.0 has finally been officially announced, arriving at a perfect time to be baked inside of the 4K TVs flowing out of manufacturers' factories. HDMI Licensing took some time of out of its day to announce the new standard, which is quite powerful.
We'er looking at a bandwidth capacity of 18Gbps, which has enough room to squeeze 3840x1260 at 60fps, which is quite nice. HDMI 2.0 also has support for up to 32 audio channels, "dynamic auto lipsync" and additional CEC extensions. The connector itself remains unchanged, which means we should be all systems go for backwards compatibility.
The cables themselves also won't change, which is refreshing, with the HDMI Licensing group claiming that current high-speed Category 2 cables can handle the increased bandwidth.
This is something I didn't expect to read on the weekend, but US retail giant Amazon is rumored to be testing Globalstar's wireless satellite network to see if it could build a wireless service of its own.
If they did, the timing couldn't be better, as Amazon's video viewing audience is continuing to balloon, reaching 38 million unique views last month. On top of that, the amount of time that consumers are spending watching videos on Amazon has doubled over the last six months. What is helping fuel this? The company's Kindle and Kindle Fire range of tablets.
If Amazon built its own wireless network, it would give them total and utter control over its content distribution, which is the same as printing money essentially. Amazon could soon be running its own wireless network, blasting out content to Kindle and Kindle fire devices, to anyone across the United States.
Google are slowly rolling out its uber-fast Fiber service across the United States, but did you know that around 3% of Americans are still stuck on dial-up? You know, the old Internet that wasn't always-on and had your modem make weird sounds when it connected to the Internet.
The news comes from the Pew Research Center's report, that states that 3% of American Internet users are still using dial-up services for their Internet needs, with that 3% number not changing since 2011. This obviously means that there are 3% of Internet users who might not know better, maybe older Internet users without computer-savvy young children or friends, or Internet "black spots" where DSL or cable aren't available.
Intel has teased its latest MXC format, which will combine silicon photonics and a new form of Corning fiber, which will see servers linked at an incredible 1.6Tbps.
The chipmaker is using connectors that are very small, but Intel won't talk about MXC anymore until the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco next month. We can expect supercomputer operators to be on the floor, with huge smiles on their faces. We will be posting all sorts of news during IDF, so be sure to check back soon!
Google has finally started the testing of its Project Loon Wi-Fi balloons in California's Central Valley, where they are "to research various approaches for improving the technology, like the power systems (solar panel orientation and batteries), envelope design, and radio configuration."
The Wi-Fi balloons have previously been tested in New Zealand and various parts of Africa, but there's no concrete date when we could expect them to float across other skies just yet.
Today, Kwickset, the largest home entry lock maker in the US, unveiled a new deadbolt set that can be unlocked with your smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0. Dubbed the Kevo, the wireless deadbolt utilizes Bluetooth 4.0 LE technology to unlock your door when your phone comes within range of its sensor. A wireless Bluetooth key dongle is also included for those without smartphones, and the device still functions with a normal key for instances when the batteries may be dead.
The deadbolt is available in three finishes including Satin Nickel, Venetian Bronze, and Polished Brass. Powered by 4 AA batteries, the set includes two traditional keys, a wireless keyfob, and two "eKeys" for smartphones. For now, the company's smartphone app is only available for third-generation or higher iOS devices, but an Android app and BlackBerry 10 app are in the works. The new deadbolt lock is available for pre-order now at a hefty $219 price tag, which is about ten times the cost of a normal deadbolt.
Today, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced that the USB 3.1 Specification standard has been finalized. This will allow SuperSpeed USB to transfer at up to 10Gbps. The new transfer speeds are made possible by more efficient data encoding algorithms that allow the protocol to deliver more than twice the throughput of the current USB 3.0 standard.
"The USB 3.1 specification primarily extends existing USB 3.0 protocol and hub operation for speed scaling along with defining the next higher physical layer speed as 10 Gbps," said Brad Saunders, USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman. "The specification team worked hard to make sure that the changes made to support higher speeds were limited and remained consistent with existing USB 3.0 architecture to ease product development."
The Group says that the new standard is fully backwards compatible with existing USB 3.0 cables and connectors. All existing software stacks, protocols, and 5Gbps hubs will continue to function with the new standard as well. If you are interested, you can download the latest release of the specification from Source #2 below.
Acer have made quite a bold move today, shifting away from the super-fast Thunderbolt technology and into the arms of USB 3.0 from this point on. Acer spokesperson Ruth Rosene has said that USB 3.0 is less expensive than Thunderbolt, offering close to the same bandwidth, as well as charging devices we use in our every day lives like smartphones and tablets.
Intel are on the defensive, as you can imagine, with the Director of Intel's Client Connectivity Division, Jason Ziller, saying that there are over a dozen new platforms on the market that are powered by Thunderbolt with the Haswell-based fourth-generation Core processors from Intel. ASUS, Dell and Lenovo are all big names who are working with Intel and using Thunderbolt.
Ziller did note that Thunderbolt isn't aimed at value or mid-range systems, and that it is designed for premium systems. This will only become more apparent when Thunderbolt 2 arrives, which is capable of bi-directional speeds of 20Gbps.
MEOW. Yes, MEOW. Telstra's new Mobile Exchange On Wheels (MEOW) has been unveiled, which can handle twice the number of ADSL2+ and PSTN services as its predecessor.
Telstra have said their Mark. III of the MEOW can now support 768 ADSL2+ services, 780 PSTN services and 16 ISDN lines. Comparing this to the Mark. II trailer, which could only handle 330 ADSL2+ and 330 PSTN services. MEOWs are used primarily to get communities back online after an emergency or a natural disaster.
A natural disaster will take down essential services such as ATM and EFTPOS, and in this near cashless society, this can cause huge issues for residents of communities who have no access to electronics. Telstra have built two MEOW Mark. III trailers, and will have them housed Gnangara in Western Australia and Flinders in South Australia.
Just how popular is the iPhone 5 for 4G LTE web browsing? Does the word 'dominating' come to mind? Because it should, according to Comscore's latest study of US marketshare, with ad network Chitika reporting that when looking at just the "4G"-capable part of the market, the iPhone 5 completely dominates it.
When concentrating on just 4G-capable smartphones released after July 2012, the iPhone 5 by itself takes up 75% of US 4G web traffic. When mixing in all still-active 4G/LTE smartphones, it still takes a huge chunk: 40%. Considering the iPhone 5 is the only 4G-capable iPhone on the market, this is a huge win for Apple.
Wireless carrier T-Mobile has entered into an agreement to acquire 10MHz of advanced wireless spectrum (AWS) for $308 million. The deal was announced today and is pending regulatory approval by the FCC and Department of Justice. T-Mobile is interested in putting the new spectrum to use to expand their fledgling LTE network.
T-Mobile just recently started rolling out their 4G LTE network. This new 10MHz spectrum covers numerous key markets and could be put to use almost immediately to speed the LTE roll out and increase capacity in existing markets. The spectrum includes such markets as St. Louis; Nashville; Kansas City; Memphis; Lexington; Little Rock-North Little Rock; Birmingham; New Orleans; and Louisville.
According to T-Mobile's CEO, spectrum, especially AWS spectrum, is like gold. Without spectrum, a company would be hard-pressed to provide wireless coverage. Once all the regulatory hurdles are met, T-Mobile will immediately put the spectrum to use.
It looks like Google Fiber will have some competition in the near future from Gigabit Squared, who are set to roll out gigabit Internet services to the population of Seattle next year.
What can you expect to receive their speeds? Well, the minimum cost is $350 for installation, which includes 5Mbps down and 1Mbps up for free for the first 5 years. After which it will cost $10 each month afterwards. If customers sign up to a one-year contract, they can avoid the setup charge and receive 100Mbps both down and up for just $45 per month.
If you want that tasty and super-fast 1Gbps, that will set you back $80 per month with no setup costs involved. If you want to gain access to this service, you'll need to live in Seattle's West Campus District, First Hill, Capitol Hill or Central Area neighborhoods as they'll be the first to have Gigabit Square's cables laid in their grounds.
While I sit here on my 8Mbit/384Kbit connection, hating it, Telstra have decided to announce they won't be offering a 50Mbps NBN service. Instead, the leading Australian telco will be offering 12/1Mbps speeds, with upgrade options of 25Mbit and 100Mbps.
Telstra will also be offering just two quota amounts for their plans, 25GB and 500GB - which seems extreme. Nothing in between is a strange move, usually they move with quotas like 25GB, 50GB, 100GB, and so forth, but here, we're going from 25GB right up to 500GB. Telstra were asked if they would provide an option between 25GB and 500GB, but there's no confirmation on whether we should expect that.
Telstra's Executive Director of Service Delivery, Phill Sporton, told a live blog that they are still in the "early days" of NBN plan discussion. He adds: "We have developed a set of plans based on customer input. However, we are always interested in feedback from our customers and I expect we may develop more plans as we get more experience on what our customers want from NBN."
Being a Sprint user who got to enjoy LTE while in Los Angeles for E3, I can't wait for the company to flip the switch on LTE in my home town. The additional 22 markets Sprint just enabled include: Napa, CA; Palatka, Sebring, Tampa, and Miami, FL; Dalton, GA; Warsaw, ID; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA; St. Joseph, Benton Harbor, Lansing, and East Lansing, MI; St. Cloud, MN; Raleigh, Dunn, and Henderson, NC; Clarksville and Kingsport, TN; Corsica, TX; Longview and Centralia, WA; and Fond du Lac, WI.
This brings Sprint's total 4G LTE market count up to 110, bringing the telecom company closer to its goal of covering 200 million people by the end of 2013. In comparison, AT&T has 263 LTE markets and Verizon has 497. Sprint also announced that they will be bringing LTE to: Grand Rapids, Allegan, Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Flint, and Mount Pleasant, MI; Corpus Christi, Eagle Pass, and Laredo, TX; Oak Harbor and Aberdeen, WA; and Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids, Watertown and Fort Atkinson, WI.
We reported about Project Loon yesterday, part of Google's Project X's plan to provide Internet access through floating balloons in the sky. The first trials are happening right now in New Zealand, but these balloons could be floating above Australian skies by as early as next year.
Google have discovered that the best place to test this is in favorable weather conditions, which his 40th parallel south. This covers New Zealand, and Tasmania - which is south of Australia. Google are reporting going to have this technology floating above Australian skies in the second half of 2014.
Google's super-secretive but super-cool Google X labs have designed some amazing things so far, such as Google Glass and the self-driving cars from Google. Google X have just outdone themselves today by announcing Project Loon, which would see balloon-powered Internet access to parts of the world where Internet access is hard, or impossible to come by.
Google even started testing this new initiative during the week, which would provide users with 3G-like speeds using balloons blasting Internet down to the people below in New Zealand. Google have said that they've found a way to let these balloons "sail freely in the winds" and would steer them by moving them up or down to catch the right winds. Of course, this means that Google still have some work to do, which I can see them creating the technology to at least automate this process.
The Mountain View-based search giant have said that they're solving this problem "with some complex algorithms and lots of computing power." Google would be using wind data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to give the balloons their flight paths. The search giant are currently using 30 balloons to test the project with around 50 tests in New Zealand who are using the service on the ground.
Computex Taipei 2013 - If we weren't impressed with DisplayLink's technology powering four monitors from a single USB port on an Apple MacBook Air, then you'd better sit down for this one, folks.
The video above shows an ASUS monitor being powered by a single USB cable, from a notebook - impressive. The delay from plugging it in to the monitor working, which is 1920x1080 by the way, its mere seconds. This is such a great idea for people on the go, for someone like myself who would cover an event I can have this in my bag and when I get back to my hotel I can plug it in and have a Full HD monitor ready, all from a single USB port.
DisplayLink, you have impressed me so much today - one of the best technologies shown at Computex hands down.
Computex Taipei 2013 - We had a meeting at the gorgeous W Hotel here in Taipei today with Andy from DisplayLink, and boy did he have some ultra impressive tech to show us. DisplayLink have some output technology that is baked into various products, with the Targus device shown in the video below.
As you can see, it is running four - yes, FOUR monitors from a single USB 3.0 output. This is beyond impressive considering the MacBook Air outputs are usually limited to DisplayPort. The dock used can provide with HDMI or DVI output, with another USB dock daisy-chained in to provide another two monitor outputs for a total of four. We were very impressed with what we saw, and can't wait to get our hands on some of these for review, and general day-to-day use!
We've occasionally written about FreedomPop here on TweakTown. The company looks to offer a small amount of free 4G data--usually 500MB--and then charge if users would like to use more. Now, the company is looking to expand into the cellular communications market with a similar strategy.
FreedomPop announced that they will be offering unlimited SMS, 200 minutes, and 500MB of data each month for free. Included in this free service is unlimited calling between FreedomPop users for no extra charge. Of course, there will be no hidden charges, no dealing with wireless carriers, and no monthly fees.
The service will launch later this summer on "several popular Android phones."
Sky Broadband, one of the largest ISPs in the United Kingdom, has started blocking access to torrent proxy sites. Back in April 2012, the High Court ruled that the UK's largest ISPs had to filter access to The Pirate Bay. Numerous workarounds popped up almost immediately, but these could soon be shut down.
Without so much as a peep, Sky Broadband has blocked access to various services that allow access to The Pirate Bay and Kick Ass Torrents. The blocking appears to have started over the weekend. Customers reported being unable to access these sites. These sites could have been added to the required block list, but it's hard to say as that list isn't public knowledge.
If they are part of the block list, users of the other major ISPs in the UK will soon be unable to access these sites as well.