With all of the issues going on in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the FCC fast-tracked 60 x Project Loon internet ballons to fly over both countries for six months.
Alphabet is behind Project Loon, with Google's parent company pushing cellular data capabilities from the skies. Project Loon would return internet connectivity to countless residents. Project Loon was recently deployed in Peru after floods affected the city, with Alphabet teaming with Peruvian network Telefonica to help get the signals from the ground and allocate them into the right spectrum and services.
An Alphabet spokesperson told Wired: "Things are a little more complicated because we're starting from scratch. Loon needs be integrated with a telco partner's network-the balloons can't do it alone".
For those who have no idea what Project Loon is, the balloons provide internet access by "relaying communications between Alphabet's own ground stations connected to the surviving wireless networks, and users' handsets". Awesome tech, for a great cause, Alphabet.
Google have announced that everyone's favorite assistant is back, in a new slimmed-down miniature version. The Google Home Mini is everything you've came to love from the Google Home range only in a smaller, more versatile miniature smart speaker. Featuring a 360 degree speaker with 40mm drivers, the physical size of the Google Home Mini is about the size of a mini-donut at 3.86inch diameter and 1.65inch in height.
A direct competitor to Amazon's Echo Dot, both smart speakers are very similar with Google Home Mini utilizing Google Assistant. Featuring Bluetooth, touch controls for volume and a physical switch for muting voice commands, Google have provided 3 colors to suit your preference- Chalk, Charcoal and Coral and is finished in a soft-touch mesh material.
Microsoft has teamed with Facebook and Spanish telco giant Telxis on a new undersea communications cable that is 17,000 feet below the surface of the ocean.
The companies claim that it is the "most technologically advanced subsea cable" with up to 160Tbps of data per second, beating out Google's recent "Faster" cable. The 160Tbps-capable cable spans a distance of 4000 miles from Virgina Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain.
Construction began in August 2016, with Microsoft announcing its completion on Thursday, while the super-fast cable won't be in operation until early 2018. The idea behind the cable started with Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which knocked out the connection between the US and Europe for a few days.
Microsoft explained in a blog post: "The superstorm sparked the realization that another major event could disrupt the vital connectivity lifeline across the Atlantic. As part of its ongoing efforts to drive innovation and expand capacity of its global network, Microsoft sought options for making transatlantic connections more resilient".
The race towards 5G is ramping up quickly, but Qualcomm keeps deploying new technologies and hurdles for consumers and its competitors, respectively - and while it's hard to keep up sometimes, there has never been a more exciting time for the always-connected world we live in.
Qualcomm has just announced that its new Snapdragon X50 modem is capable of not just 5G, but 4G, 3G, and even 2G. The Snapdragon X50 will work with Verizon in the US, and Korea ahead of the 5G rollouts in 2020, but Qualcomm and its partners are hoping to make this 5G reality happen sooner, rather than later.
Having 5G/4G/3G/2G all working on a single chip will be very advantageous for Qualcomm, as it means that we will see a truly global smartphone world thanks to the Snapdragon X50.
I've been spending the past few months dreaming of higher mobile speeds, with Qualcomm teaming with Australian telco, Telstra, alongside Ericsson, and Netgear on Gigabit LTE - but Qualcomm also teased 5G not so long ago.
Now, the International Telecommunications Unit (ITU) have decided on the 5G specifications: with the ITU statnig that a single 5G cell must feature 20Gbps of bandwidth, and include support for up to 1 million devices connected per kilometer (0.62 miles). The standard will also require carriers to have at least 100MHz of free spectrum, and where available: up to 1GHz.
The ITU published the first draft of its 5G radio interfaces a few days ago, but we should expect the final tech specs on 5G technology by November. But the tease of at least 20Gbps down and 10Gbps up is absolutely incredible, but you won't be getting 20Gbps to your smartphone - in reality, the 20Gbps will split its bandwidth across all of the devices it is blasting to.
The per-user download/upload speeds will hit 100Mbps and 50Mbps, respectively - something you can get right now on your 4G LTE device. Personally, I've hit 220Mbps+ on Telstra, on my Google Pixel smartphone - but 5G will offer 100Mbps, all the time - not just in the best conditions. The reduced latency to 1ms, is incredible - but we should expect bigger and better things from 5G once it's completely finalized.
Qualcomm is slowly moving its chess pieces around the 5G board, with a tease of Gigabit LTE in Sydney, Australia a couple of weeks ago - and a full detailing on 5G technology and its race to 5G leadership at Qualcomm HQ in San Diego, California.
Qualcomm has announced their first successful 5G connection "based on the New Radio (NR) work in 3GPP", something the company expects to "become the global 5G standard". The successful 5G test used Qualcomm Technologies' sub-6GHz 5G NR prototype system, something that is capable of operating at mid-band spectrum from 3.3-5.0GHz.
This huge speed allows for multiple Gbps in bandwidth, and better yet - at "significantly lower latency" than today's 4G LTE networks. 5G NR will take advantage of the wide range of spectrum bands, as it can use spectrum bands below 6GHz, something Qualcomm says is "critical for achieving ubiquitous coverage and capacity to address the large number of envisioned 5G use cases".
Right now, this is in the prototyping stage, but Qualcomm will handle over-the-air 5G NR trials in the second half of this year, hoping to push the 3GPP specification as the global 5G standard from 2018, into the future.
Qualcomm is on quite the technological roll, with a big show of Gigabit LTE in Sydney, Australia barely over a week ago - and now, the company has unveiled new Wi-Fi chips that will usher in the future of Wi-Fi technology.
Qualcomm's new IPQ8074 is a fresh system-on-chip (SoC) for routers and access points, while the new QCA6290 is for receivers - you know, your Wi-Fi device. This is the first end-to-end commercial Wi-Fi portfolio that supports the new 802.11ax standard, which is very, very exciting.
802.11ax is the next leap in Wi-Fi technology, after 802.11b debuted in 1999 - after that we saw 802.11g, 802.11n, and then what we have now - 802.11ac. 802.11ax is backwards compatible with all of your other Wi-FI devices and routers, but what's the main benefit of 802.11ax?
Well, 802.11ax provides increased real-world speeds, where it's up to 4x faster than 802.11ac - at least on paper. Furthermore, an 802.11ax router is capable of helping previous-gen Wi-Fi devices hit higher speeds as the new standard is capable of managing traffic diversity, and the overwhelming number of Wi-Fi networks that might be interfering with your new 802.11ax network.
Verizon has just announced its new unlimited data plan, simply known as Verizon Unlimited - which will cost $80 for an individual line, or $45 per line for a four-line family plan.
The company is calling the new Verizon Unlimited pricing as "introductory", which require both paperless billing and AutoPay to be enabled. The plan will offer 22GB at full LTE speeds, but once you hit the data cap you'll have your speeds throttled, and Verizon will de-prioritize you on their network.
If you plan on using the Verizon Unlimited plan as a hotspot, you'll get 10GB at LTE speeds - and 500MB per day of roaming data in Mexico and Canada. Additionally, you can pay $10 for a 500MB LTE TravelPass that will work anywhere in the world.
I'm literally sitting at the Sydney Airport about to fly back home to Adelaide, SA - after attending Qualcomm's impressive #GigabitLTE event where they displayed 900Mbps+ being blasted down to a Netgear-made router.
It was an incredible feat, and while Qualcomm has teased 5G just weeks ago at CES 2017 - AT&T has announced plans for deploying 5G wireless networks in two cities in the US: Austin, and Indianapolis. The new 5G-capable network will offer peak speeds of 400Mbps or better, but with technologies like carrier aggregation and more, we should see 1Gbps in "some areas" later this year.
AT&T plans to roll through its larger 'Indigo' network platform upgrade, which will be "more adaptable and responsive", reports Engadget. AT&T will use a software-shaped networking system that will cover 75% of their network by 2020, by using machine learning, and other technologies.
There's still no 5G standard established, so you won't be buying a smartphone this year that will be able to fully utilize the higher 400Mbps+ speeds, but AT&T are thinking into the future. We should expect some big things from the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung, AT&T, and others throughout the year towards the race to 5G.
Qualcomm invited tech media and analysts from around the globe to Sydney, Australia - which for me, was finally a tech event that didn't involve a 60-hour return trip - where they showed off the latest advancements with Gigabit LTE technology.
The event was held at Telstra's Experience Center in Sydney, involving partnerships between Qualcomm, Telstra (Australia's leading telco), Netgear, and Ericsson. The companies have been working together in separate, and combined relationships over the last 15+ years, but this latest partnership over Gigabit LTE is a giant leap for the entire mobile industry, and the world.
Qualcomm sat everyone down and showed off Netgear's new Nighthawk M1 router, exclusive to Telstra for 8 months - the world's first 4GX Gigabit LTE mobile router. Netgear's new Nighthawk M1 features up to 1Gbps LTE connectivity, is the perfect travel router as it supports Wi-Fi/Ethernet offloading - with the capability of taking up to 20 x Wi-Fi devices.