Google could provide Internet access to "emerging markets" like Africa and Asia, not by using the usual cables, but by balloons. Google would use "high-altitude platforms" in order to blast a wireless signal across a gigantic area which would span hundreds of square miles.
These aren't just normal Wi-Fi routers sitting in balloons, but they would use frequencies different than those used for usual television broadcasts, which is an area that Google would need governmental approval before they could take to the skies. Why would Google do this for emerging markets? Well, they do have countless services that they could provide to hundreds of millions of customers, and with half of the world's population without Internet access, this could be a large, untapped gold mine for the Mountain View-based giant.
BlackBerry is attempting to stay relevant with its latest offering of smartphones. While there is some debate as to whether or not it's working, BlackBerry is charging ahead with other attempts at stay relevant. BlackBerry has announced that they will be releasing BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) apps for both the iOS and Android platforms sometime this summer.
The app will be a free download for both iOS and Android. At the start, BBM will only support text communication, but BlackBerry has plans to add voice and screen sharing sometime down the road. Investors weren't too happy with this announcement and BlackBerry's stock price dropped by about 6 percent.
BlackBerry says the service currently handles around 10 billion messages every day, sent by over 60 million users. The mobile messaging market is heating up with WhatsApp being the messaging app currently on top. Why BlackBerry has just now decided to release BBM for other platforms isn't clear. It could be a good thing, or it could be the signal of a dying company.
Google seems serious about its Google Fiber endeavor as it has been announcing upcoming cities left and right. The latest city to join Google's growing list of cities that will be getting Google Fiber is Gladstone, Missouri. Gladstone is just north of Kansas City, as you can see on the map provided by Google:
Like the other cities currently pending for Google Fiber, Google needs to plan, engineer, and build the infrastructure. Not even a timeline or projected date has been provided to residents, but this should allow them to rest easy knowing that they will soon be getting super-fast and reasonably priced Internet access.
I'm not even enjoying 4G yet, and all I keep hearing is talk of a 5G network being deployed within the next decade. Samsung are behind the new talks, with an under-development wireless network to be capable of giving users the speed to stream data faster than ever dreamed before, even from current wired networks.
You might want to sit down to hear this, but Samsung's 5G network will be capable of 10 gigabits per second, giving users download speeds of around 1.25GB/sec. Considering 4G LTE provides around 75 megabits per second, or around 9.375MB/sec, it is a gigantic leap that can't be frowned upon. We're talking about downloading a Blu-ray movie in under one minute over your mobile Internet connection.
Syria regains Internet connectivity after 19 hours, outage believed to be caused by 'optical cable malfunction'
Internet connectivity is returning to normal in war-torn Syria. Multiple different sources have confirmed that connectivity has returned to the region, though a specific cause can't be determined as of yet. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency is reporting that the outage was a result of an optic cable malfunction.
Of course, being a state-run media, it's very possible this report could be inaccurate. What I still find extremely scary is the fact that an entire country can drop off of the Internet just like that. This is a case where we need to come up with a more redundant and reliable network.
Google has announced that Grandview, Missouri will join the growing list of cities in which Google Fiber will be available. This announcement comes just five days after Google announced that Shawnee, Kansas residents could expect Google Fiber to become available in the coming months and years.
Like the last announcement, the details were a bit on the light side. Residents know that they will be getting Fiber, but they don't know when. Grandview is located just south of Kansas City, the first city to get Google Fiber. This will make the expansion easy and makes logical sense as to why Google picked it for Google Fiber.
Google shows no signs of slowing down Fiber roll out. In fact, the announcements seem to be speeding up, suggesting that Google ultimately wants to be an ISP. Keep your fingers crossed that Fiber soon makes its way to your city.
Apple has never been very good when it comes to Internet-based activities. MobileMe and other offerings by Apple have often fallen by the wayside as Google and others produced better--and cheaper--alternatives. Apple's iMessage service makes use of the Internet to transmit text messages between iPhones and other Apple devices.
Apple's iMessage is also suffering from an interesting, if not too problematic, glitch that results in the last word of phrases to be replaced with spaces. The glitch only affects certain phrases and it's not clear why the glitch is even occurring. Even more interesting, if you copy the message and paste it into the compose window, the full, unadulterated phrase will be shown.
To trigger the bug, you have to use certain phrases with a trailing space. For instance, "I could be the next Obama" results in Obama being removed and replaced with spaces. You can also try "the best prize is a surprise". If you find any other phrases that trigger the bug, let us know!
We covered T-Mobile's 4G LTE launch and Uncarrier event pretty closely. At the time, all of the other major networks in the country already had operating LTE networks in multiple markets. T-Mobile now believes that it could end up being the first carrier to roll out 5G LTE-Advanced.
In a recent interview with Venture Beat, T-Mobile's head of radio network and evolution strategy, Yasmin Karimli, said that this is due to their slow rollout of 4G:
I think we'll probably be able to move faster [to LTE-Advanced] because we have the latest hardware in place. Others may have hardware that's two years old, so they may have to rip and replace.
We don't fully know what it will take for the other networks to roll out 5G LTE-Advanced, though what Karimli says makes sense. 5G LTE allows for theoretical speeds of up to 300Mbps, around three times faster than LTE. T-Mobile plans to cover 100 million people by mid-2013 and 200 million by the end of 2013 with 4G LTE.
Sprint is a bit behind the other major US carriers in terms of LTE availability because they originally went with WiMax as their 4G technology. Not wanting to be left behind, Sprint has been pushing out LTE as quickly as possible. We previously announced that Sprint was ready to bring LTE to 21 new markets and now they have officially announced its availability.
Joining the ranks of LTE-enabled markets are the following:
- Albemarle, N.C.
- Bloomington, Ind.
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Contra Costa County, Calif.
- Denison, Texas
- Greeneville, Tenn.
- Joplin, Mo.
- Kerrville, Texas
- Lafayette, Ind.
- Lincolnton, N.C.
- Los Angeles
- Mankato/North Mankato, Minn.
- Memphis, Tenn.
- Norfolk/Virginia Beach/Newport News, Va.
- Palm Bay, Fla.
- Port St. Lucie, Fla.
- Rochelle, Ill.
- Salisbury, N.C.
- Shelby, N.C.
- Tullahoma, Tenn.
- West Palm Beach, Fla.
These new additions bring Sprint's total LTE market count up to 88, still far behind the other carriers. Sprint has said that there will be more than 170 markets getting LTE in the coming months as they play catch up. Some cities, such as San Francisco, already have LTE, though they haven't been officially announced.
Google seems to be expanding their push to roll out Google Fiber. Just days after announcing that Austin, Texas would be Google's second Fiber city, ArsTechnica is reporting that Google is working to acquire iProvo, a fiber-based ISP owned by the city of Provo, Utah.
In order to bring Fiber to Provo, we've signed an agreement to purchase iProvo, an existing fiber-optic network owned by the city. As a part of the acquisition, we would commit to upgrade the network to gigabit technology and finish network construction so that every home along the existing iProvo network would have the opportunity to connect to Google Fiber. Our agreement with Provo isn't approved yet-it's pending a vote by the City Council scheduled for next Tuesday, April 23. We intend to begin the network upgrades as soon as the closing conditions are satisfied and the deal is closed.
Provo has a lot to gain from this. Not only would the city no longer have to finance the build-out of the network, Google is offering the same free 5Mbps/1Mbps connection as they have in Kansas and Austin. Google is also offering up free Gigabit connections to 25 different local public institutions, including schools, hospitals, and libraries.
Comcast has decided to start encrypting even their basic cable channels, forcing customers to use a settop box on every TV where they want to watch cable TV. Previously, basic cable channels would just require hooking a TV up to the coax jack in the wall.
We are beginning to proactively notify customers in select markets that we will begin to encrypt limited basic channels as now permitted by last year's FCC B1 Encryption Order. While the vast majority of our customers won't be impacted because they already have digital equipment connected to their TVs, we understand this will be a change for a small number of customers and will be making it as convenient as possible for them to get the digital equipment they may need to continue watching limited basic channels.
Comcast will provide up to two DTAs free for two years, provided that the customers do not currently have equipment on their account. Customers will also have to request the settop boxes during the offer period around the time of encryption. Comcast has put up this FAQ about what to expect from the new encryption.
According to a Google study, the mobile internet pipes are getting faster. Google used their Site Speed reports from Google Analytics and opted-in web publishers to get an idea of the speed of websites around the world. Google has again aggregated that data into the following graph:
As you can see, on the desktop side of things, not much has improved from 2012 to 2013. Speeds are just slightly better, but not by enough to really have much significance. On the mobile side of things, however, the mean time to load has decreased by about two seconds. The median time has decreased by about one.
Google credits most of these speed increases to LTE/4G roll outs as well as increased processing power in mobile devices. Read the full Google report.
Sony has launched the world's fastest home Internet service in Tokyo, Japan. The new fiber-based service is capable of 2Gbps download and 1Gbps upload, besting that of Google Fiber. Not only is Sony's new Internet faster, it's also cheaper, coming in at just $51 per month.
The new service is called "Nuro" and is available to homes, apartments, and small businesses in Tokyo and six surrounding prefectures for $51 per month, with a two-year contract, and a $535.49 installation fee, which is currently being waved for people who apply online. The price includes the rental of an optical network unit.
Xbox Live suffered an outage over the weekend, with thousands of users reporting various issues when trying to sign onto the service. The problem is, the outage came and ruined gamers' weekends, yet again.
The outage took out most of the Xbox 360's functions, including Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu and YouTube - not to mention the thousands of games that Xbox Live Gold subscribers love to, and pay to, play. The service is now working, but it should serve everyone - I'm looking at you, Microsoft - as a stark reminder of the dark path that is always-online consoles.
Sure, we (see: most of the first world) have Internet access, but it does go out from time to time. So do the services themselves, in this case: Xbox Live - and when it does, those thousand-dollar (console + games + Xbox Live Gold access) devices are rendered next to useless. Expensive, Internet-less paperweights. Microsoft, see the light please, before it is too late.
According to a document obtained by PhoneArena, Sprint will be rolling out LTE to 21 new markets tomorrow, April 12. Sprint has said that the roll out in Los Angeles will be more of a soft roll out as they continue to test bits and pieces much like the San Francisco roll out has taken place.
The markets below are said to be receiving LTE tomorrow:
- California: Los Angeles, Contra Costa County
- Florida: Palm Bay, Port St. Lucie, West Palm Beach
- Indiana: Bloomington and Lafayette
- Illinois: Rochelle
- Minnesota: Mankato-North Mankato
- Missouri: Joplin
- North Carolina: Charlotte, Shelby, Albemarle, Sailsbury, Lincolnton
- Tennessee: Memphis, Greenville, Tullahoma
- Texas: Denison, Kerrville
- Virginia: Norfolk-Virginia Beach-Newport News
The document says that users will be able to enjoy download speeds of 6-8 Mbps down and 2-3 Mbps up. Of course, to use LTE, you'll need an LTE compatible Sprint device such as the LG Optimus G, Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, or Apple iPhone 5. I'm still waiting for LTE to come to a city near me.
Verizon CEO takes credit for LTE-capable iPhone, states that video streaming accounts for 50% of their traffic
Verizon's chief executive has come out swinging, saying that video streaming now accounts for 50% of Verizon's traffic. Verizon CEO, Lowell McAdam, was speaking at the National Association of Broadcasters, when he said that his company's investment in their LTE network has benefited their customers, making high-quality streaming video possible.
He also said that with 3G you could only watch small video clips that require heaps of buffering, but with 4G LTE there are endless possibilities. The network believes that streaming video will continue to be popular with customers, and that by 2017 it could consume two-thirds of all traffic on the Verizon network.
Google's rollout of their gigabit broadband Internet service, Google Fiber, has cost the Mountain View-based company around $100 million so far. We've now got Carlos Kirjner and Ram Parameswaran of Bernstein Research estimating that the gigabit Internet rollout has cost Google $94 million total so far.
The estimate that Google have spent $42 million in Kansas and $52 million in Missouri. The analysts have the idea that the Austin rollout will cost around the same amount as the Kansas City, but they have remained skeptical on a nationwide build out. They added:
We remain skeptical that Google will find a scalable and economically feasible model to extend its build out to a large portion of the US, as costs would be substantial, regulatory and competitive barriers material, and in the end the effort would have limited impact on the global trajectory of the business.
Engadget is at NAB in Las Vegas, Nevada checking out the latest technology from Intel. Intel debuted an upgraded Thunderbolt technology capable of 20 Gbps in both directions. This is double that of the previous Thunderbolt iteration, which was only capable of 10 Gbps.
Intel stated that they currently have around 200 licensees and added that more Thunderbolt devices should be coming in the upcoming months. Intel also added that thinner Thunderbolt cables are in the works. The upcoming controller is code-named Redwood Ridge and Intel added that it will be built into some of Intel's upcoming Haswell processors.
Falcon Ridge, the next-gen Thunderbolt technology, will enable 4K video file transfer and display. This will be in addition to being capable of 20 Gbps transfer. The technology will be backwards compatible with previous cables and connectors.
It has been confirmed that Austin, Texas will be getting the elusive Google Fiber. Austin, TX will be just the second city to get access to Google's super-fast 1Gbps fiber internet connection and TV service. Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri is the other city to have access to Google's fiber ISP.
Gig.U congratulates Google and the City of Austin for their initiative to bring a world-leading network to one of the world's great research university communities. This effort will pay enormous dividends for the country, as it will help develop the human capital America needs to lead a global economy that increasingly creates value with big data and big bandwidth. The Austin project, as well as the recent response to the North Carolina Next Generation Network project demonstrates that university communities are increasingly recognized as attractive partners for next generation network deployments because of the innovative spirit and demand profiles of their residents. We look forward to watching and learning from the exciting growth and innovation to come from the Google Fiber projects, and accelerating such efforts in Gig.U communities throughout the country.
It's probably not enough to draw most people to move to Austin, but it could certainly help the start-up scene. Austin, Texas is already home to the South by Southwest conference and start-ups wouldn't have to travel if they were already based in Austin.
US Cellular is trying something new for their would-be customers, where they're offering up some play-before-you-pay trials saving customers from signing a two-year agreement, to only be disappointed with US Cellular's network performance.
The offer is for just selected markets, starting off with Eureka, CA, Klamath Falls, OR and Knoxville, TN. Some carriers already offer this, but what happens here is that you don't need to actually sign a contrat in order to get any of the equipment to test their network out. US Cellular will instead offer a loan device, with three on offer: Motorola's Electrify M, Samsung Chrono 2 or Samsung Galaxy Metrix, which can be used for eight days with 500 minutes, 500 texts and 1GB of data included.
This is a great way to test out their network, to see if it's worth a dive into a two-year contract on a new device.
Microsoft has announced a major milestone for the video and instant messaging platform Skype. They say that Skype users now use the service for a total of two billion minutes every day. To celebrate and explain just how large two billion minutes is, Microsoft provided the following infographic:
Two billion minutes is a testament to our users who are making Skype the everyday communications hub that brings people together. This massive amount of connection - enough time to watch 1.6 million movies - is also a testament to the hard work of our product teams who have enabled these great experiences. Whether making a voice or video call, sending an instant message, sharing a file or connecting with a group of friends, now more than ever before, Skype brings people together whenever they are apart