AT&T CEO Ralph de la Vega may have stuck his foot in his mouth recently when he suggested tiered pricing may be needed to bring mobile data usage under control. This resulted in a wave of complaints from users. De la Vega is now saying his comments were misinterpreted. "There are things people say I said that I didn't say. We have not made any decision to implement tiered pricing," said de la Vega. The iPhone carrier is apparently planning to take strain off its network by partnering with various networks of Wi-Fi hotspots.
AT&T hopes that better availability of free Wi-Fi will get users to consume less cell data. A deal with McDonalds has already been announced that will waive the $2.95 charge for Wi-Fi access. AT&T already has similar deals with Barnes & Noble and Starbucks. It’s not clear if this is supposed to be an interim solution while the 3G network is built out further.
It’s nice to see AT&T won’t be resorting to tiered pricing, but they haven’t made any firm commitments to network enhancement either. Maybe those golden arches can help a little, but wouldn’t you rather have a more robust data network?
The Ford Motor Company today announced plans to turn vehicles into rolling Wi-Fi hotspots when it introduces the second generation of its SYNC in-car connectivity system next year.
That means passengers will be able to connect to the Internet from just about anywhere. All the vehicle's owner has to do is plug in their USB mobile broadband modem into SYNC's USB port and it will start beaming out a secured Wi-Fi signal wherever the modem is able to connect.
"While you're driving to grandma's house, your spouse can be finishing the holiday shopping and the kids can be chatting with friends and updating their Facebook profiles," said Mark Fields, Ford president of The Americas. "And you're not paying for yet another mobile subscription or piece of hardware because Ford will let you use technology you already have."
To prevent unauthorized piggybacking, Ford says its SYNC Wi-Fi system will default to WPA2 with a randomly chosen password.
Are you eager to be the first among your small group of friends to Twitter “I’m tweeting from an airplane, unbelievable!”. If so, you might just find the following guide from the good folks over at jaunted.com a handy way to help you figure out which airlines offer in-flight Internet connections, and exactly what you should expect to pay for the right to annoy your friends and loved ones from 30,000 feet.
A quick peek at the list shows Virgin America and AirTran are still the only two airlines that can boast an “unqualified yes” when it comes to in-flight Wi-Fi, with the competition still lagging pretty far behind. Rates seem to be pretty universal across the board at about $5 for the first hour, or $13 for 3. Expect Wi-Fi in the air to eventually become universal since it is one of the last new and innovative ways airlines have found to earn a few extra bucks.
Stripping paint from the hull and pillows from the cabin to reduce weight are other ideas, lets just hope the extra cash helps keep them from getting any more desperate.
Beginning next month, McDonald's will do away with its $2.95 fee that it had been charging its customers for two hours of wireless Internet access, and will add free Wi-Fi to its menu, David Grooms, McDonald's USA Chief Information Officer, said in an interview.
Making the free access possible is AT&T, which has partnered with the fast food chain to offer free wireless through most of its restaurants. Financial details of the deal, however, were not disclosed.
McDonald's decision to make the switch to free Wi-Fi comes as the chain tries to transform itself into a social hangout and not just a greasy burger joint. In addition to its wireless plans, McDonald's will also begin selling frappes and smoothies in most of its stores by mid-2010.
"We're becoming a destination and free Wi-Fi just naturally fits," Grooms added. "This is another long-term investment that we see helps McDonald's stay relevant as a brand in the marketplace."
The future looks bright for the wireless LAN industry, which is on pace to reach record revenue by the end of the third quarter, says market research firm Dell'Oro Group.
The WLAN market wasn't hit as hard as other businesses in the recession, which took a particular toll in September, but was still affected enough to see lower sales in the first and second quarter of 2009. Before the economic downturn, revenue climbed to record levels in the fourth quarter of last year, and it appears the WLAN industry is finally picking up where it left off. Worldwide revenue for WLAN equipment recovered to $1.1 billion in the third quarter of this year, up about 12 percent from the second quarter, and came close to matching the $1.14 billion of the previous year's third quarter.
Analysts attributed the upswing to stimulus money granted by the U.S. goverment, for which vendors claimed have driven deals. Market researchers also point to the growth of IEEE 802.11n and the boost it has gotten from being standardized.
SMB's concerned about the security of their Wi-Fi networks have a new low-cost service to choose from that will tell them if their passwords are up to snuff.
The service is a cloud-based WPA Cracker with access to a 400-CPU cluster. For just $34, it will check a company's password against a 135-million word dictionary, which takes about 20 minutes. For those who don't mind waiting 40 minutes, the price drops to $17 to access the system at half mode.
What's notable about the 135-million dictionary is that it's been set up specifically for cracking Wi-Fi passwords. It contains common phrases and forms of "elite speak" that have taken WPA networks into account.
If you listen to Microsoft, ad hoc wireless networking, which lets several Windows computers share a single connection, is one of a bunch of networking features not included in Windows 7 Starter Edition. But is that really the case?
"On Windows 7 Starter Edition, the 'Set up a wireless ad hoc network' link in the [Set Up a Connection or Networking] dialog is missing," said Rivera in an entry on his Within Windows blog. "That's the licensed 'feature' you're missing out on. I repeat: You're licensed to use ad-hoc networking. You're not licensed to use the shortcut in this dialog. To access the wizard that this link normally points to, simply Start Menu search for 'adhoc.' It's a lot of work, I know."
So for the time being, netbooks users running Windows 7 Starter can still create an on-the-fly connection for sharing an Internet connection, but this is something that Microsoft will likely address in a future hotfix or Service Pack.
"I believe it's safe to assume this is an unintentional screw up," Rivera added. "Enjoy it while you can, netbook cheapos."
Xirrus, a provider of enterprise Wi-Fi, announced this week that it has secured an additional $20 million in funding in a financing round led by InterWest Partners. The latest round brings the total investment to $80 million, which Xirrus says it will use to bolster its reserves and invest in partnerships.
"Times have changed since my last technology venture," said Dirk Gates, founder and CEO of Xirrus. "Xirrius has reached critical mass and significant customer traction with far less fanfare, yet far more substance than venture-backed companies during the 1990s."
According to a TechCrunch report, Xirrus aims to replace Ethernet in the enteprise, which will help businesses lower their setup and usage costs for corporate networks.
Alcohol has been blamed for some pretty outrageous things over the years, but this is the first time I’ve heard anyone blame it for copyright infringement. It’s a bizarre argument to make, but its likely one a UK based bar owner will be considering after being handed down an £8,000 fine, which works out to about $13,000 USD. Worse yet, the bar is likely not even responsible for the infringement since the offense occurred on the pubs open Wi-Fi hotspot, a fact that is sure to spur an interesting debate over responsibility.
According to Internet law professor Lillian Edwards of the Sheffield Law School, open Wi-Fi operators “should not be responsible in theory” for the actions of their users. The bar will likely be immune from the disconnection clause in the new Digital Economy Bill since it can be classified as a public communications service provider, but it will be interesting to see if this will also eventually get them out of the fine as well.
The debate over who is responsible for network security is an interesting one, and is sure to eventually cross borders as well. If laws end up making it too dangerous to operate open hotspots, what’s next? If a neighbor comes along and cracks your WEP key and downloads copyrighted material, do you fine the owner of the router for not having stronger security?
The Flip digital camcorder may be headed for an upgrade. So reports Pocket-lint, anyhow. According to the website, Cisco, which purchased Pure Digital, the creator of the Flip, is poised to integrate some new features, including its own networking technology.
Pocket-lint confesses “details are thin on the ground” but that the new Flip will have a large screen, which will slide to reveal the record and menu buttons. (It doesn’t seem that touchscreen, because of price, will be part of the upgrade package.) And that it will also have Wi-Fi, allowing users to record and upload with having to use an intermediary.
It’s expected the upgraded Flip will be available about the middle of 2010. No information on pricing was available.