WiMAX provider Clearwire has expanded its Silicon Valley network to cover the Google and Intel campuses. This development is a long time coming as the two tech behemoths are principal investors in Clearwire. Cisco is another partner and expects to have Clearwire coverage soon. Everyone else in the San Francisco Bay Area can expect the 4G service at some point in 2010.
The service is capable of up to 10 Mbps down, with an average of around 3-6 Mbps. That’s probably a few times faster than any 3G wireless data service you’ve used in the US. Leading up the public launch, select developers will be given free access, provided they live or work in the so called "Innovation Network" coverage area. They need only purchase a $50 USB modem. Certainly a good deal if you’re a developer who wants to work with WiMAX. So, how much would you pay for WiMAX service like this?
After a long seven years of development and tweaking, the IEEE has finally approved the 802.11n high-throughput wireless LAN standard.
The new standard, which is reportedly capable of throughput of 300Mbps, has been changed six times since its first conception. And, according to the IEEE, all existing WiFi certified 802.11 Draft N wireless products will work with the final standard.
No word as to when the standard will make its way to market.
As we get ready to put 2009 in our rear view mirror, so too will we look back at power cords as a thing of the past. Or at least that's how Eric Blier, CEO of WiTricity, predicts the near future. According to Glier, laptops, phones, and other electronic devices will start operating without a power cord within a year, and be mainstream not long afterward.
"Five years from now, this will seem completely normal," Glier said.
We've already seen wireless pads and other similar de-tethering contraptions, but Glier, whose company is a spin-off of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research group, is hard at work on a technology called "magnetically coupled resonance." Put simply, this technology sends a magnetic field through the air at a specific frequency, which is then received by a compatible phone or other electronic device and turned back into electricity.
Glier says the technology won't significantly impact the price of MP3 players and other affordable gadgets, and the environmental benefits are pretty straightforward. But what health risks might be involved are yet to be seen.
Drawing ever closer to their goal of having a nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G wireless network, Verizon completed their first LTE calls in Boston and Seattle earlier this month.
The calls consisted of small talk, streaming video, file uploads and downloads, as well as some Internet browsing. According to Tony Melone, Verizon’s senior vice president and chief technology officer, “Verizon Wireless, with outstanding cooperation from our partner suppliers, is fully committed to harnessing the power of LTE over our 700MHz spectrum. This combination of state-of-the art technology and prime spectrum will soon make a ubiquitous, highly mobile, super-fast broadband experience a reality for customers. This significant milestone in our LTE 4G network testing, exemplified by the first data calls in Boston and Seattle, further validates our early support and decision to select LTE as the standard for our next-generation wireless broadband network.”
Verizon hopes to extend their LTE 4G network to 30 more markets in 2010, which they claim will cover 100 million people. This would be the last major milestone before their nationwide network, set to appear in 2013.
At long last, it looks like the 802.11n standard might finally get approved. Bob Heile, who heads up the 802.15 group for Personal Area Networks, fired off an email confirming that the IEEE 802.11n draft standard had been sent to the Standards Review Committee, PCMag.com reports.
"On other fronts, 802.11 was granted unconditional approval to forward 11n to RevCom," Heile wrote. "After a bit of a rocky period on getting acceptable coexistence language included in the draft, I was pleased to support this approval. Congratulations to Bruce for his patience and perseverance in getting this done. This was an extremely complex project."
And a time consuming one. The 802.11n standards process first began almost five years ago in 2004. Internal turmoil and political maneuvering put the clamps down on the process, even after a draft version of 802.11n was approved in January 2006. But come September 11, 2009, the draft may finally become a standard.
"We sought and were granted conditional approval to forward 802.15.3c latest draft to Revcom for its consideration at its Sept. 2009 meeting," Heile added. "A third and, we hope final, recirculation is in the process."
The only caveat being that interested persons will have to opt for a two-year service contract with Sprint Nextel, which costs $1,440 and offers 5GB of data.
The same netbook, which features a 1.60GHz Intel Atom processor, 10-inch screen and 160 HDD, is also being offered by AT&T and Verizon along with a two-year contract for $199. Its actual price is $389.
Earlier this week Asus announced their RT-N16 router, which brings their “three ‘S’s’ – Speed for ultra-fast data transfers, Simplicity for unparalleled ease-of-use and ease-of-setup, and Security for absolute peace of mind when performing online tasks.” (Seriously.)
The RT-N16 will feature wireless speeds up to 300Mbps, use an innovative “EZ UI” which will let system administrators easily setup and manage their networks, as well as allocate bandwidth to suit specific needs. And lastly, it’ll sport WiFi Protected Setup (WPS), so that users can lock down their networks quickly and easily.
Geeks have to be suckers for Bluetooth headsets. Don’t believe me? I have purchased no fewer than five Bluetooth headsets ranging from Plantronics, to Cardo and Motorola in the last two years.
Among the most disappointing was the Voyager 855. Although it fit my tiny ear canals well, the reliability of it was, well, everything you’ve come to expect of a Bluetooth headset. Sometimes it would connect with my admittedly mediocre Windows Mobile phone and sometimes it wouldn’t.
It didn’t help that the audio levels were just too low. At least the noise cancellation was top notch. Still, I had to chuck it for two Cardo units: The S-640 and the S-800. I had the highest hopes for the S-640 clip-on unit and carded ear piece. Unfortunately, incoming sound quality was dismal and the lack of noise cancellation made conversations in my beater with original struts impossible. Did I mention that it too was quite flakey with the Bluetooth connection. The S-800, however, was quite reliable. It locked onto my phone and worked fine. The volume was also almost painfully loud when set to max. The UI was good and the quick dial feature that let you access the first few slots in your speed dial was awesome.
I only use my headset in my car and turn it off when not in use. Initially I could get a week or two without having to recharge it. That turned into a week and now it seems like it needs to visit the charger every three days.
What is it lately with AT&T and inflated WiFi charges? Last week the ISP handed a Chicago Bears fan a $28,000 internet bill after his laptop's wireless card picked up an errant signal while he watched a football game on his notebook, and now the company has billed an Oklahoma woman $5,077 for data charges on her DataConnect plan.
Oklahoma resident Billie Parks is suing both AT&T and RadioShack, alleging the two companies co-conspired to offer a netbook and data bundle intentionally designed to mislead customers into racking up thousands of dollars per month in service charges. Parks purchased her netbook from RadioShack in December of 2008 for just $100, a price which required a two-year commitment with AT&T's DataConnect plan. On the $60/month plan, customers can get online no matter where they're at.
However, Parks maintains that she was never told that Internet data usage over 5GB would result in "astronomical additional charges running into the thousands of dollars." According to Parks, the Customer Service Summary says only that additional charges apply, but makes no mention of what those charges are.
"We're reviewing the suit and don’t have a comment on it at this time," AT&T spokesperson Seth Bloom told ArsTechnica. "But I can tell you that we go to considerable lengths to inform customers of the limits involved in these plans. We display the plan usage limits and overage rates on our collateral, terms and conditions, and on att.com, And customers can check their usage using myWireless Account or by using the usage monitoring capability on the AT&T Communications Manager application."
Does Parks have a fighting chance with her lawsuit? Hit the jump and sound off.
At the upcoming International Solid-State Circuits Conference Intel is planning to present 15 papers, most of them stressing integration of more functions into a single chip, and less on the raw amount of GHz they can pack in. “The trend of using smaller transistors to build larger microprocessor cores with higher operating frequency is coming to an end,” said Mark Bohr, an Intel senior in the Technology and Manufacturing Group.
Intel is planning to outline research that they’ve conducted on the “new system-on-a-chip (SoC) era,” which they describe as “a fundamental shift in the way semiconductor manufacturers will innovate to keep Moore’s Law alive.” With the introduction of the SoC, Intel is planning to integrate radio silicon into their chips for handhelds, netbooks and laptops, giving many of these WiFi, WiMax, 3G and Bluetooth capabilities right out of their respective boxes.
The prospect of a system on a chip is one that seems like it could do wonders for the mobile device market. Intel’s findings will be made public early next week when the conference finally gets under way, so unfortunately we’ll have to wait until then for specifics.