Globalstar's terrestrial WiFi will help satellite customers too

9 March 2013 by Steve Blum
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Won’t have to party like it’s 1999 anymore.

Globalstar is the latest satellite operator to discover the possibility of boosting return on investment by using assigned frequencies on the ground (h/t to David Witkowski for the heads up).

Globalstar has slice of spectrum immediately adjacent to the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band that’s heavily used for WiFi. The thinking is that customers can do a quick software update to extend a WiFi device’s frequency range a bit and then use Globalstar’s channel to access the Internet via a pay wall.… More

AT&T fails to offload traffic to WiFi

22 February 2013 by Steve Blum
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AT&T must’ve hired the same guy who invented premium lifeboat pricing on the Titanic.

AT&T’s public WiFi network is not the offload destination of choice for its smart phone customers, according to usage data from January 2013. Instead, customers prefer to log onto randomly available hotspots where ever they might be – home, work or in a pub.

In the U.S., only 3% of a typical smart phone user’s WiFi traffic goes via a WiFi access point managed by his or her’s primary mobile carrier.… More

More unlicensed spectrum on the way

21 February 2013 by Steve Blum
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Super-sized WiFi too.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took a big step towards fulfilling a promise that Chairman Julius Genachowski made at CES in Las Vegas last month. Yesterday, commissioners voted unanimously to start the process of opening up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz range to unlicensed uses such as WiFi. (H/T to UCSC’s Jim Warner for tipping me off).

“WiFi congestion is a very real and growing problem,” Genachowski said. “Like licensed spectrum, demand for unlicensed spectrum threatens to outpace supply.… More

Local, state role curtailed for tower upgrades

6 February 2013 by Steve Blum
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No substantial change.

Local and state government agencies have to say yes to any request for “collocation, removal, or replacement of transmission equipment on an existing wireless tower or base station,” so long as it doesn’t involve a substantial change to the existing structure’s dimensions. That’s what last year’s Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act required. Now, the FCC has issued guidance that tries to come up with practical rules to apply it.

Drawing on language from a couple of past rulings, the FCC says that…

  • Requests must be granted.

More unlicensed spectrum coming soon, says FCC chairman

9 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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Tired of slow WiFi at the airport.

Julius Genachowski is a popular guy at CES today. The FCC chairman announced that the commission is moving ahead with freeing up spectrum that's currently assigned to government agencies for WiFi and other unlicensed uses.

“This is unlicensed spectrum. This is in 5 GHz. It's time to move to do it,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do with federal agencies that have this spectrum. We're moving forward with it and we're going to work out the problems as we go.… More

Sneak peek at the OLPC XO 4.0

6 January 2013 by Steve Blum
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The newest One Laptop per Child (OLPC) device made its debut at the CES Unveiled event in Las Vegas tonight, although it might have been by accident.

Marvell was demonstrating its Smile Plug e-learning platform, with the newest OLPC device just sort of sitting on the table, apparently as eye candy. Well, it certainly was that.

The OLPC XO 4.0 sports a touch screen and keyboard, and folds three ways: as a tablet, a netbook or a well protected carrying case.… More

Congresswoman Eschoo pushes for more broadband spectrum

Silicon Valley congresswoman Ann Eschoo wants to shake up the way that Washington manages and assigns spectrum. The goal is to free up a total of 500 MHz for wireless communications purposes. Much of that would come from turning over frequencies held by government agencies to public use. But some of it would come, willingly or not, from the private sector.


“We have to make freeing up spectrum a top priority,” she said at Joint Venture Silicon Valley's second annual wireless symposium, held on 2 November 2012 at Marvell Semiconductor Inc.… More

Skating through nuclear winter

The mood was grim, taken at face value, at the Wireless Communication Alliance’s annual Venture Capital panel, held in conjunction with the Wireless Communication Association’s symposium, in San Jose on Wednesday, 5 November 2008. VCs were saying things like “nuclear winter” and “survival is the new growth”. It sounded like they were concentrating on keeping their existing portfolio companies alive, rather than investing in new ventures. The two exit routes they rely on — acquisitions and IPOs— are largely blocked right now, so they’re marking time.… More