AT&T has said that it will support the iPhone 5's HD Voice technology sometime later this year. The technology will roll out along with AT&T's switching over to routing voice over LTE. "HD Voice is part of our voice over LTE strategy," AT&T senior VP Kris Rinne said.
T-Mobile, on the other hand, will support the iPhone 5's HD Voice technology right from the start. When the device launches, T-Mobile users will be able to experience the higher quality audio that some have called a noticeable improvement. Sprint is also considering implementing HD Voice technology.
T-Mobile has announced at today's Uncarrier event that its 4G LTE network is now live in seven US cities across the nation. T-Mobile customers in Baltimore, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Jose, and Washington DC will be able to surf at speeds faster than many home DSL connections.
T-Mobile expects to bring its 4G LTE network to 100 million Americans by the middle of this year and to 200 million Americans by the end of 2013. It's currently in last place in the LTE roll out race, though Sprint isn't too far ahead. Verizon and AT&T continue to be the front runners, but T-Mobile is trying to catch up quickly.
T-Mobile have just debuted a new contract-free, unlimited talk and text plan which comes with an included 500MB of tetherable data - the cost? Just $50 per month. The best part of this is that the US telco has effectively gone contract-free, with phone subsidies pretty much gone.
This also means that T-Mobile customers will be paying retail price for a new smartphone, but they'll have the option of spreading the cost of the phone over two years of monthly payments. T-Mobile's new $50 per month plan with payments for a high-end smartphone over two years still manages to compete against contract-based carriers such as AT&T and Verizon.
The new $50 plan includes 500MB of data, but users won't be capped for bursting through their monthly data allowance, but rather slowed down to "2G speeds." If 500MB of data per month isn't enough for you, for just $10 more you can expand that up to 2GB. This is a perfect option for those using lots of data, or for those who are always tethering their smartphone to a notebook or tablet for some Internet access.
T-Mobile is working quickly to roll out its LTE network. It appears that they are beginning to test installations in a few different cities and OpenSignal has seen their app utilized on the new 4G LTE installations. Lucky for us, we have some early testing data on the network that show it should be able to compete.
A quick disclaimer before we actually dive into the hard numbers: these tests were carried out with little load on the network and were likely in strong signal locations. With that said, the T-Mobile LTE came up with an average download speed of 25Mb/s and 8Mb/s upload. Combine that with an average ping of 40ms and it starts to look really good. Of course, real world speeds will be slower.
It's also interesting to note that the network was being tested with the Samsung Note II, Samsung Galaxy S4, an unlocked AT&T Galaxy S3, and the SII HD LTE. OpenSignal says they have detected testing in Seattle, Denver, Las Vegas, New Orleans, New York, San Diego, Kansas City, and the San Jose/Bay Area.
The National Broadband Network will not be rolling out as quickly as previously thought, with the NBN Co announcing a three-month delay in their roll-out targets.
The company in charge of rolling out the NBN has now officially begun scaling back their forecast construction timetable, taking the three-month delay into consideration. They had aimed to reach 341,000 premises by June 30, but we're now looking at the end of September. This means that the NBN Co is only going to get the NBN into around 200,000 or so homes and businesses by June 30.
I'm sure this is going to be the start of more delays, unless the NBN Co and their various partners really nail it from here on out. Give me the NBN already, damn it.
Google's Fiber service is slowly expanding, reaching out to the Kansas City suburb of Olathe, KS. The Olathe City Council has approved of an agreement which allows for the expansion, but there is no firm word on when we should expect the deployment of the super-fast Internet in Olathe.
Google will be competing with Comcast locally, instead of Time Warner in the other areas Fiber has rolled out thus far. Olathe is the fourth biggest Kansas City suburb, so residents should be over the moon with the news of Google Fiber rolling into town, soon.
Intel Computing Technology Demo in Taipei - controlling lightning with our fingertips and driving a car with no hands
Earlier today here in Taipei we attended the yearly Intel Computing Technology Demo which is tour held by Intel folks from the headquarters in US where they give Asian press a look into some fairly exciting tech that it's working on and stuff that we may see in the future.
At the event at the Sherwood Hotel today, Intel showed off a lot of its new Ultrabooks, tablets and smartphones, which of course are all powered by Intel chips. A lot of those products have been seen at events prior to this one, but what took our interest was Intel's take on perceptual computing and where it sees it going in the future.
At the front of the room was an Acer Aspire S7 Ultrabook running Windows 8, some may get excited for that fact alone. Besides just multitouch where we are now with such Windows 8 based machines, Intel showed off various demos which makes uses of the computer's web camera to produce some rather interesting results.
In the video above the first part shows a demo where a Creative Labs 3D camera (attached via USB) is able detect the user's fingertips and control lightning. It uses depth perception and other cool technologies to recognize your fingertips and interact with them on-screen. Another demo we saw (not shown in the video above) showed the camera being able to recognize an Intel employee's hands, and he was able to accurately move around balls on the screen, even flick them with a real flicking motion - quite cool.
We reported yesterday about the European Commission announcing a research grant for 5G, but now we have Tokyo, Japan-based NTT DoCoMo confirming that their tech-equipped vehicle successfully conducted a 10Gbps wireless test in Ishigaki in December.
They received help from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and their test relied on frequencies and bandwidth outside of the usual cellular service, trekking all the way into the 11GHz band with 400MHz of spectrum, but they proved they could far exceed the speeds of LTE and LTE-Advanced when moving outdoors.
In order to keep the connection, they required 24 antennas, with the telco hoping for similar speeds in frequencies over 5GHz, and they're hoping that the technology will define mobile communications as it improves. We shouldn't expect this tech inside of the next half decade or so, but it's impressive that we're seeing it this early on.
If you thought that you dream of getting 4G was getting close, well those bandwidth goal posts just moved, a lot. While the Mobile World Congress festivities are still bubbling along, the European Commission have just announced research grants for 5G mobile technology.
The news comes from the European Commission VP Neelie Kroes, who said that they're pumping approximately $65.4 million into research grants for 5G mobile technology, where they hope to have it online by 2020. Kroes said "I want 5G to be pioneered by European industry, based on European research and creating jobs in Europe - and we will put our money where our mouth is."
It's long been a contention that the advertised speeds are an "up to" rating meaning that the ISP doesn't actually have to provide that speed. Consumers generally expect that the advertised speed is the speed that they will be receiving at their house. The FCC monitors the actual versus advertised speed and has reported some data for September of last year.
According to the FCC's data, more than half of the major ISPs failed to meet the advertised download speed. An additional three meet the advertised speed when averaged over 24 hours, but fell short of the advertised speed during the peak hours of 7-11p.m. The chart of data can be seen above. Upload speeds can be seen below.
When it comes to upload, the companies performed better. Only four of the 15 companies didn't provide advertised upload speeds. It just goes to show that not all ISPs are created equal.
Users of Sprint with 4G LTE devices in Washington DC, San Francisco, and New York City should be able to pick up spotty LTE coverage. It appears that Sprint has started flipping the switch on towers in those cities without making an official announcement. It's likely they're testing the towers ahead of an official launch.
Coverage has been spotty meaning that not all towers have been turned on. Once the coverage is officially announced and made live, users should expect a blanket of LTE goodness. Sprint has confirmed that the cell towers were turned on for testing and that the company decided to leave them on until the official announcement so that users could continue using LTE.
We have been hearing rumors of Microsoft's plans to transition users of its MSN / Live Messenger service over to Skype for a while now, and today it appears that we have an official date. The transition will begin taking place on April 8th of this year.
The upgrade will target English users first and then trickle down to the rest of the world, over the rest of the month. This news comes shortly after a confusing email which alluded to all Live Messenger services shutting down on April 15th, which is not true.
"The upgrade process itself has been going really well, we've had millions of customers move over", said Skype's Parri Munsell. The transition process begins when existing Live Messenger users are greeted with an upgrade notification. The upgrade will prevent users from signing in to the messaging service using the existing Live Messenger application. Microsoft is pre-caching existing machines with the Skype installer so that the upgrade will appear seamless.
While some people are still stuck using 3G, including most Sprint users, many countries around the world have been upgraded to 4G LTE. OpenSignal, a company that crowdsources signal maps for different carriers around the world, is reporting that Sweden's LTE is the fastest in the world.
Unfortunately for users in the United States, our LTE speeds come in at eighth overall. Above us is Sweden, Hong Kong, Denmark, Canada, Australia, South Korea, and Germany. After Germany, the speed really drops off from 14 Mbps to 9.6 Mbps in the United States. Japan follows behind us with 7.1 Mbps.
Part of the reason for this could be due to carriers in the United States only having access to 20MHz of spectrum for their network. In Sweden, and most other countries, carriers have double that amount available, which gives them more bandwidth. If you're on 4G LTE, what's the fastest speed you've seen?
AT&T has acquired part of the 700MHz B band spectrum from Verizon for $1.9 billion in cash. This spectrum acquisition by AT&T will allow the company to boost its US LTE rollout. According to AT&T, the new 700MHz license will allow AT&T to rollout LTE to more than 42 million people across 18 US states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
AT&T says this spectrum purchase will "complement [its] existing holdings in the 700 MHz B band and will allow AT&T to continue to deploy 4G LTE services to meet demand for mobile Internet services on a wide array of smartphones, tablets and other devices."
AT&T has been in an acquisition mode as of late. Just a few days ago, AT&T paid $780 million to acquire Alltel's US wireless business. It plans to use this acquisition to expand rural coverage. The spectrum acquisition is subject to regulatory approval, so it hasn't closed yet. Once the transaction is approved, AT&T believes the deal will close "in the second half of 2013."
Google, according to CNET, is looking to acquire wireless spectrum. Before you get all excited about a Google wireless carrier or Google wireless broadband, you should know that Google is reportedly not after the spectrum for a new service. Instead, they are looking to acquire the spectrum to conduct testing.
An application by Google was filed last week and asks permission to test frequencies in the 2524 to 2546 MHz range and the 2567 to 2625MHz range. Clearwire currently uses these spectrum ranges for its 4G WiMax wireless broadband service. Google had previously owned a stake in the company up until last year.
One of CNET's sources has said that Google is only interested in using the spectrum for testing and nothing else. Google has declined to comment on the request. If Google were to create a wireless broadband company or wireless carrier service, would you be inclined to switch? What would it take?
At the US Conference of Mayors' Winter Meeting, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has voiced opinion for at least one "gigabit community" in all 50 states by 2015. The FCC Chairman wants a Google Fiber-like gigabit network across the US and believes that "establishing gigabit communities nationwide will accelerate the creation of a critical mass of markets and innovation hubs" enabled by the gigabit Internet connectivity.
At the moment, 42 communities in 14 states feature fiber optic Internet providers, but most of those installations aren't pushing gigabit speeds. In order to help out with the gigabit rollout, the FCC chairman has announced plans to create a new online and publicly accessable clearinghouse to collect and disseminate information about how to get the costs down, as well as increase the speed of broadband deployment across the United States.
We now have the problem of who would pay for it, as the current worldwide economy isn't strong to have the US government wholly fund the project. Could we see a telco or two step in, or Google possibly half finance the project? It looks like Internet access in the US is about to get interesting.
USB 3.0 about to get an injection of speed, will offer 10Gbps transfers and backwards compatibility, arrives in mid-2013
Currently USB 3.0 offers 5Gbps and with even cheap $150 SSDs offering read speeds of close to, or exceeding 500MB/sec, USB 3.0 is now... old. Well, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group has announced that an upcoming enhancement for USB 3.0 is on its way and will:
Add a much higher data rate, delivering up to twice the data through-put performance of existing SuperSpeed USB over enhanced, fully backward compatible USB connectors and cables.
We should expect this new injection of speed to hit USB 3.0 in the middle of the year, and will also include improved data encoding for more efficient data transfer as well as backward compatibility for current 5Gbps USB 3.0 hubs and devices, including USB 2.0-based hardware. We should hear more during CES, but it's great to see USB 3.0 being pumped up to 10Gbps, the future is looking mighty fast!
Time Warner Cable has announced that they are increasing the speed of their "Standard" service by 50 percent. This means the new "Standard" speed will be 15mbps, as opposed to the current 10mbps. There is no mention of an increase in price. To get the increased speed, you can reset your modem by unplugging it for 10 seconds.
Alternatively, you can wait for it to automatically be rolled out to your division.
Landline usage is in a decline. With the prevalence of wireless communications and VoIP, the number of landline subscribers is dwindling. The Center for Disease Control's Nation Health Interview Survey shows that 35.8 percent of American households have ditched the landline in favor of wireless choices.
More evidence is present that landlines are heading the way of the dinosaurs: just shy of 16 percent of American households said that they "received all or almost all calls on wireless telephones despite also having a landline telephone." When combined with the 36 percent above, you can extrapolate that more than half of the US doesn't use a landline.
With wireless coverage continuing to expand and improve, the trend will likely continue, with only mission-critical or privacy-concerned users continuing to use landlines.
Google's super-fast Fiber service has officially rolled out in Dorothy's backyard, in Kansas, but hasn't burst out of Kansas' gates and across the US just yet. But the question is, just how much would it cost to roll out the Google Fiber service across the entire of the US?
Well, according to the latest estimates from Goldman Sachs, it would come to the tune of around $140 billion. This is an incredibly huge sum of money, and while Google may be a huge and very powerful company - there aren't many companies who can just throw down $140 billion (estimated, it could cost much more than this) and rollout a Fiber network.
But, Google could roll it out in stages in bigger cities to see the reception from the consumers and continue from there. They could have a bigger 5-10 year plan where we see the super-fast Internet rolled out to all Americans.
Marvell, a fabless semiconductor company, makes a plethora of wireless chipsets and other integrated electronics. Today, they are touting that they have the industry's first 802.11ac 4x4 wireless solution. Marvell says that it is "built to improve the throughput of enterprise and retail access points (APs) and the robustness of wireless video distribution."
"I believe that with Marvell's new breakthrough 802.11ac 4x4 Wi-Fi solution, we are positioned to change the landscape for enterprise-class network infrastructure and carrier grade video applications, further empowering the entire spectrum of always-on devices. The new era of the digital lifestyle requires superior wireless connectivity which serves as a critical pillar for delivering live content across all screen sizes and 'Smart Furnishings' for connected consumers," said Weili Dai, Co-Founder of Marvell. "I am very proud to see our dedicated team of engineers continue to build ground-breaking wireless technologies that support the latest industry standards, significantly improving network capacity, performance and reliability for Wi-Fi devices accessing the cloud infrastructure. Working with the industry's largest and most innovative global carriers and OEMs over the last decade, Marvell has established a successful track record of delivering world class wireless solutions for enterprise, consumer and mobile applications."