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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."