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Connectivity & Communications Posts - Page 9

Google's 'Wi-Fi balloons' are currently being tested in California

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."

 

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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.

Kwikset unveils Kevo, a bluetooth-enabled deadbolt now on preorder

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.

 

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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.

USB 3.1 10Gbps standard finalized, moves into development

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.

 

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"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 drops Thunderbolt, gives USB 3.0 a big embrace instead

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.

 

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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.

Telstra use their cat-like reflexes and unveil MEOW, their next-gen exchange on wheels

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.

 

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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.

Continue reading 'Telstra use their cat-like reflexes and unveil MEOW, their next-gen exchange on wheels' (full post)

iPhone 5 makes up 75% of all 4G web traffic in the US

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.

 

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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.

T-Mobile spending $308 million on 10MHz of wireless spectrum

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.

 

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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.

Gigabit Squared unveils their fiber plans for Seattle, 1Gbps for $80 per month

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.

 

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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.

Telstra won't be offering 50Mbps NBN plans, will offer 25Mbps and 100Mbps, though

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.

 

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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."

Sprint flips the switch for LTE in 22 more markets

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.

 

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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.

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