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One of Google's more interesting initiatives, is Project Loon; giant, helium-filled balloons that fly through the stratosphere providing Internet access to those below. Since Google has been flying Project Loon in our skies, they've learned quite a bit about running them more efficiently, and how to keep the balloons in the air for extended periods of time.
Over the last 12 or so months, Project Loon balloons have travelled over 3 million kilometers, which is the same as going around the world around 75 times. The problem is, they could only stay in the air for a certain period of time before Google needed to bring them back down to the ground to be re-deployed. Loon balloons are now capable of staying in the air for up to 10 times as long as they could last year, and stay there for around 100 days, or just over three months.
The current record Google has for Project Loon staying in the air, is 130 days, with the extended fly-time due to "hundreds of discoveries" that have helped the company prevent leaks, and assisted with automating the manufacturing process. Google has new auto-fill equipment that drops fill times to just under five minutes, as well as the ability to launch some 20 balloons a day as the company improves its "ability to launch consistently at scale".
Just when you thought your GbE, or Gigabit Ethernet connection was fast with 1Gbps, and its lame, old wires - light-based communications are now coming into play and could blow away current physical line speeds.
Harald Haas, Chair of Mobile Communications at the University of Edinburgh said that the potential for wider bandwidth and quicker response time than Wi-Fi, is with light-based communications. He said: "All the components, all the mechanisms exist already. You just have to put them together and make them work". Haas is working with researchers from many different universities, which are currently half way through an expensive $9 million project funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, in the United Kingdom.
The researchers are looking into ultraparallel visible light communication, which uses "multiple colors of light to provide high-bandwidth linkages over distances of a few meters", as the Spectrum IEEE site reports. This system has the team using commercially-made red, green and blue LEDs as both emitters, and as photodiodes to detect light. Using this simple technology has speeds of 110Mbps, and when transmitting data in one direction only, they reached 155Mb/s.
Jeremy Gutsche signed up for a 30MB in-flight Internet plan when he boarded his Singapore Airlines flight, priced at $28.99. Once a user goes over the 30MB, they're charged for the data used beyond it, where Gutsche's bill ended up landing on $1171 in additional charges.
Gutsche took to his website, where he wrote: "I had an otherwise enjoyable flight but the sticker shock of being gouged $1,200 made me feel like I was deplaning from Total Bastard Airlines, that old skit from SNL where they kick you off the plane with a 'Buy BYE! If you were a family traveler or someone like my mother, that bill would certainly ruin your vacation".
Gutsche said that he visited around 155 webpages, checked his e-mail, and uploaded some PowerPoint presentations. He then estimated that his PowerPoint presentation cost around $100 to upload, adding that "I hope my team liked it". OnAir, the firm responsible for the in-flight Wi-Fi told The Wall Street Journal that the purchase process is "entirely transparent", and that "To consume several hundred megabytes during one flight takes much more than basic email viewing, for example downloading heavy attachments, cloud access and using Skype".
LinkNYC, a new "communications network" has announced its plans to turn all of New York City's existing payphones into public Wi-Fi stations, with Superman being the most disappointed with this news.
The new Wi-Fi kiosks will be taller, and narrower than the average phone booth, but will still have ads plastered all over them. These Wi-Fi stations will boast "up to gigabit speeds", doubling as charging stations for devices, which is a nice touch. The new Wi-Fi network is part of a "public-private" collaboration between LinkNYC, the Mayor's Office of Technology and Innovation, DoITT, and CityBridge. A collective of New York-based companies, such as Qualcomm, Antenna, Comark, and Transit Wireless are also involved.
Not only will the phone booths be turned into Wi-Fi hotspots, but the LinkNYC kiosks will have touch screens that will provide information about the city itself, as well as allowing for free domestic phone calls. LinkNYC has said that the network will be "the fastest and largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world" and that it will be "more than 20 times fast than the average home Internet service in NYC" including a "seamless roaming experience from Link to Link". The best bit? LinkNYC said that the free gigabit Wi-Fi across NYC will be done "at no cost to taxpayers" with all of its revenue being secured through advertising, with around $500 million being made over the next 12 or so years. The roll out begins early 2015, with up to 10,000 Links to be installed across five boroughs of the city at first.
The phrase Internet of Things (IoT) has been around for more than 15 years, and while it remains a buzzword, the industry is rapidly growing. There will be 30 billion connected "things" in 2020, with the industry valued at $3.04 trillion in 2020, according to the IDC research group - and that figure is only going to keep climbing, especially as adoption reaches outside of developed markets.
"The opportunities presented by IoT are driving widespread attention among both traditional and non-traditional ICT vendors looking to take advantage of emerging revenue opportunities," said Vernon Turner, IDC SVP of Enterprise Infrastructure, Consumer, Network, Telecom and IoT Research. "We're still in the early stages of maturation and IoT represents unparalleled opportunity in government, consumer, and enterprise environments."
Network security will remain a significant concern - and despite increased security protocols - social engineering and attacks designed to deceive users will pose problems.
Well, any network you're on has now been put to shame thanks to researchers from the University of Central Florida and Eindhoven University of Technology, who have worked together to completely blow away the world speed record for data transmission over a fiber network.
The researchers used a completely new type of fiber, which was able to jump right up to an insane 255 terabits per second. This is a number that is hard to get your mind around, as it can transfer 1GB in 31.25 microseconds, which is just 0.03 milliseconds, or 1TB in just 31 milliseconds. As it stands, single-fiber links used in commercial use today hit a ceiling of 100Gbps, which is a massive 2550 times slower than what this new fiber network is capable of.
This new fiber network uses seven separate cores that were built into a hexagon shape, and by using spatial multiplexing, the researchers were able to hit 5.1 terabits per carrier, with wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) to 50 carriers down the cores. This eventuated into the researchers slamming through 255 terabits per second. Now all we need is every single Internet connection in the world to be upgraded, NICs to be up to 10TB/sec and cheaper, faster SSDs to handle all of this insane bandwidth.
The FCC is laying the ground work for 5G mobile Internet in the United States, with the council voting unoanmously to start looking at accessing the higher-than 2.4GHz frequency spectrum than was previously thought to be unusable by mobile networks.
This would pave the way for Gigabit Internet connections, similar to what South Korea is doing with its incredible 10Gbps Internet access. The FCC believes that using "millimeter waves" would have higher bandwidth made possible, for more people and devices with speeds that blow most other in-home broadband connections provide now.
The problem is, it only works over short distances - for now at least - and requires line-of-sight for their point-to-point microwave connections. This is what the FCC hopes to fix, with this unanimous vote meaning research can nnow begin to see this technology arrive in the hands of US broadband users. Current estimates have it pegged at being available by 2020, so let's hope they're right.
South Korea is set to get the world jealous with an impressive new 10Gbps fiber Internet service, with SK Broadband to introduce the new super-fast Internet connection at the Plenipotentiary Conference of the International Telecommunications Union to be held at Busan's BEXCO Center, in partnership with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning and the National Information Society Agency on October 20.
Considering all of the advancements that broadband technology is experiencing in Asian countries like Japan and South Korea, citizens of both of these countries are product that they are far out and ahead of the United States. Natsuki Kumagai said: "In the 1960s the world watched NASA send men to the moon and many of us grew up amazed at the constant advancements of the Americans. Now the Americans watch us". Pyon Seo-Ju added: "In my travels to the United States, it is very plain they have lost their way in advancing broadband technology".
Seo-Ju continued: "Internet access is terribly slow and expensive because American politicians have sacrificed Americas's technology leadership to protect conglomerates and allow them to flourish. Although unfortunate for America, this has given Korea a chance to promote our own industry and enhance the success of companies like Samsung that are well-known in the United States today".
The new 10Gbps service will be 100 times faster than Korea's current average broadband speed, which is already blistering fast at 100Mbps. This means you can download a 1GB file in 0.8 seconds on the 10Gbps connection, less than one second, compared to the 80 seconds with the 100Mbps service.
Qualcomm has just teased the next generation of wireless technology with its new LTE Direct technology, something the company has been working on for close to a decade. LTE Direct is built upon the foundations of the LTE protocol, which allows LTE Direct-powered devices to communicate with one another without requiring a cell tower.
LTE Direct will also work at distances greater than 500 yards, which means we have signal ranges that far exceed that of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Better yet, LTE Direct uses very little energy, meaning a device can be on the look out for another LTE Direct signal without draining the battery. Then there's the other side of the LTE Direct coin: it's not just limited to handsets, as beacons can be set up to communicate directly with anything nearby.
Mahesh Makhijani from Qualcomm has said that this is somewhat of a sixth sense, which is constantly aware of the environment around you. With the world filled with information, LTE Direct can help people use their phones to better their lives. But, with retailers jumping on board, and you being blasted directly in places where you'd normally not get cell signal, it could get annoying, fast.
USB Type-C is on its way, but what else will the USB connector have to offer us? With a new agreement struck between the USB 3.0 Promoter Group and the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA), we will see USB Type-C supporting DisplayPort, and video.
VESA explains that this new feature is being called the DisplayPort Alternative Mode, or Alt Mode: "Using the DisplayPort Alt Mode, a USB Type-C connector and cable can deliver full DisplayPort audio/video (A/V) performance, driving monitor resolutions of 4K and beyond, SuperSpeed USB (USB 3.1) data and up to 100 watts of power-over a single cable. The DisplayPort Alt Mode can also drive adaptors that support the huge installed base of existing DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA displays".
Better yet, the cables and connections can also connect a DisplayPort device using a reversible USB Type-C to DisplayPort converter cable, which will open up a slew of doors for connectivity options.