Billions to be spent replacing Iridium satellites – will the business fly this time?

3 February 2015 by Steve Blum
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A flood of cash was ploughed into building telecommunications systems in the 1990s, with generally bad results for the original investors. Some companies went through bankruptcy, but more or less came out the other side still functioning. Others collapsed completely, with the assets selling at fire sale prices.

The most glorious of those failures had to have been Iridium. Backed by Motorola, it launched a low earth orbit constellation of 66 satellites that were designed to communicate with brick-sized phones from any point on or over the planet.… More

CES exhibit floor grows in size but not in global reach

11 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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The eyes of the world.

The Consumer Electronics Associations warns journalists that it produces a global technology event called International CES and that none should dare speak the name Consumer Electronics Show. The problem is, it’s still a consumer electronics show and it’s still noticeably weak on the global, if not International bits. At least where exhibitors are concerned.

African and South American participation is painfully slim. South Africa-based Geco Action Cam – was the only representative from that continent: same count as last year and down from 2 in 2013.… More

Perfect security is beyond the realm of science fiction

25 December 2014 by Steve Blum
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The cracks keep getting bigger.

Around this time last year, we were worried about credit and debit card details being stolen from Target stores. Bad, but not bad enough it would seem to drive retailers into doing a thorough security overhaul. The past year has seen similar breaches at Home Depot — even bigger than Target — Staples and Bebe, to name just 3.

Wouldn’t it be nice if that were the worst of it? But no such luck.… More

Mobile operators are short term cure, long term cause of broadband divide

Wireline upgrades get low priority on the wrong side of the divide.

Mobile broadband networks are increasingly ubiquitous throughout the world, and are the most widely used way of accessing the Internet in developing countries. But that’s despite high costs and stingy caps on data transfer. As a solution for increasing primary household access to broadband and encouraging people to use it, mobile networks have limited potential, according to a South African broadband policy study

Of the access mechanisms, mobile coverage is the most extensive, but mobile broadband access is limited to lucrative urban areas and data costs are relatively high.


Mars is underserved

2 August 2014 by Steve Blum
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NASA is asking for private sector ideas to upgrade broadband infrastructure on Mars. Right now, there’s a 2 Mbps link between Earth and Mars orbit, and 500 Kbps between orbit and rovers on the surface. More bandwidth is expected to arrive in orbit in the next few years, but not enough to keep up with planned surface missions. So NASA has issued a request for information, in the hopes of finding a partner who can offer a sustainable solution

The RFI details possible new business models that would involve NASA contracting to purchase services from a commercial service provider, which would own and operate one or more communication relay orbiters.


ET could have phoned home faster on fiber

2 July 2014 by Steve Blum
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In case you missed it, today was World UFO Day, a good time to pause and reflect on why strange things happen. There’s no dispute that UFOs are real. Pretty much any night of the week – usually around the time that people come stumbling out of bars, according to ground-breaking research in the Economist – people look up in the sky and see flying objects they can’t identify. Not only that, but none of their friends can either.… More

Monopoly broadband network problems are common, solutions are not

Better markets attract better supply. Everywhere.

It’s not just best practices for broadband development policy that’s common to countries and communities, regardless of location or circumstance. Lack of competition at the network level is as big a barrier in South Africa as it is in California.

In South Africa the biggest gap in the national broadband infrastructure is currently in the access network illustrated by the fact that 86% of the population is within 10km from a fibre access point.


Developing countries take the lead in global broadband adoption

Click for the report.

By the end of the year, 3 billion people will be on the Internet, according to the latest projections by the International Telecommunications Union. Of those, three-quarters will be getting broadband access via mobile networks (with or without wireline access, too), a five-fold jump since the end of 2008. The majority of Internet users will be in the developing world, according to the report

The new figures show that, by the end of 2014, there will be almost 3 billion Internet users, two-thirds of them coming from the developing world, and that the number of mobile-broadband subscriptions will reach 2.3 billion globally.


Linux marches to the beat of broadband growth

10 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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Most of the world’s personal computers run on Microsoft Windows. Gartner, a tech industry research group, says that the 280 million Windows boxes shipped last year swamped 12.5 million Macs and 2.9 million Chromebooks. But Gartner is also predicting that the Linux-based Chrome operating system will overtake the Mac OS by 2016.

According to a BBC story

“There’s a couple of reasons – one is the number of vendors who are now pushing a [Chromebook] device,” explained Ranjit Atwal, research director at the firm.


South Africa endorses best practices for broadband development policy

South Africa’s goal is to bring a minimum of 5Mbps Internet access to half its population by 2016 and 90% by 2020, with 100% of school, medical and government sites getting at least 10 Mbps by then. To do it, the government is adopting essentially the same policy playbook as the European Union, Google, and Californian communities such as Santa Cruz, San Leandro and Loma Linda

  • Efficient permit granting: Responsible authorities will provide network operators with a clear, simple, transparent and efficient mechanism for granting permits for civil works.