Election Day wasn't the only event to make history on November 4th - the FCC made its own kind of history on Tuesday in approving the development of wireless devices that can use "white space" (the unused broadcast TV spectrum between broadcast TV channels, which ranges from 512MHz to 698 MHz). Unlike the close race between fellow senators for the US Presidency, the FCC decision to open up unused TV spectrum was unanimous, ZDNet's Sean Portnoy reports, despite lobbying against the rule by 50 members of Congress and a variety of recording artists worried about the effects of the decision on their live performances.
The decision (available here in PDF format) balances the hopes of companies like Microsoft and Google to make wireless Internet-enabled devices even more ubiquitous than now with the fears of the theater industry that exploiting white space will interfere with wireless microphones that use the same spectrum, and the concerns of the National Association of Broadcasters that using "white space" will interfere with TV viewing.
To find out how the FCC plans to make everybody happy in wirelessland, join us after the jump.
The mini-ITX form factor is still alive and kicking, and to prove it, Zotac has just expanded its mini-ITX lineup with the nForce 630i-ITX WiFi motherboard. As the board's nomenclature suggests, WiFi comes integrated with 802.11b/g support, as does graphics chores, which are handled by Nvidia's GeForce 7100 chipset.
The pint-sized board comes ready for Intel's lineup of Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors with support for a full 1333MHz frontside bus. RAM support, on the other hand, comes somewhat gimped topping out at DDR2-800 instead of DDR2-1066 or DDR3. Other features include:
Eight USB 2.0 ports (four on back panel, four on pin header)
Onboard 10/100 Ethernet
HD Audio 5.1
Dual display ready (VGA / DVI)
Four SATA II ports with RAID Support
Not a bad feature-set for a compact board, particularly if you're in the market for an HTPC build, where the integrated WiFi could end up a major selling point.
When it comes time to shop for a videocard, most people are concerned about the pixel pushing power and how well a new GPU can handle Crysis. Yet others are more concerned with a videocard's ability to fit into a home theater PC setup, both physically and functionally. Some GPUs are even sought after for their ability to fold proteins, but apparently there's another use emerging, one with malicious intent.
According to Global Secure Systems, a Russian firm used Nvidia GPUs to break through WPA and WPA2 encryption. Assuming the report is accurate, the implications are nothing less than frightening, as GSS claims the brute force attack managed to accelerate WiFi 'password recovery' times by up to 10,000 percent.
"This breakthrough in brute force decryption of WiFi signals by Elcomsoft confirms our observations that firms can no longer rely on standards-based security to protect their data," noted David Hobson, managing director of GSS. "As a result, we now advise clients using WiFi in their offices to move on up to a VPM encryption system as well."
But even moving to a VPN may not be enough, as many VPNs use AES encryption just like WPA2. And by throwing videocards into the mix (it remains unclear which specific Nvidia GPUs were utilized), accessibility quickly becomes a growing concern.
Does this latest attack concern you? Hit the jump and post your thoughts.
Wi-Fi is fast emerging as the most popular technology for wireless communication between disparate gadgets, but security remains a major concern. However, researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering are working on an alternative way of connecting devices that will be innately more secure than Wi-Fi.
Moreover, an LED-based communication technology will enjoy a distinct security advantage. It will be more secure compared to Wi-Fi due to the inability of light to penetrate through opaque surfaces like walls.
“Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires,” said an ebullient Thomas Little, a BU engineering professor, about the idea. Soon, our networks will quite literally “light up”.
A study by market research firm In-Stat has found that our dependence on wires is rapidly waning with the rise in the sales of embedded Wi-Fi devices. The study pegged the sale of embedded Wi-Fi devices around the world at 294 million units in 2007. It expects the figure to leapfrog to 1 billion by 2012.
According to the study, Wi-Fi enabled cell phones will usurp PCs as the most popular (largest) category of Wi-Fi devices. Even digital TVs are expected to interact with a wide gamut of devices using Wi-Fi in the imminent future. As Wi-Fi marches towards ubiquity, there are some compatibility and security issues that need to be addressed urgently.
Commercial wireless systems, which top out at hundreds of megabits per second, still have a ways to go before being on the level of optical fiber, which boasts tens of gigabits per second. Looking to close that gap, engineers at Battelle, a research and development firm based in Columbus, OH, have found a way to send data through the air using millimeter-wave technology.
Achieving faster speeds by harnessing the millimeter-wavelength frequency of the wireless spectrum isn't new, but it is both expensive and complex due to the equipment involved to generate the signal. Or at least it used to be. The Battelle team has taken off-the-shelf telecommunication components and, by modulating data on two low-frequency laser beams, has been able to create a pattern of interference that acts as a 100GHz signal (millimeter-wave technology operates on frequencies between 60GHz and 100GHz). By doing so, the team demonstrated a 20 gigabit-per-second signal in its lab.
While the research looks promising, a shipping product could still be years away. Putting the system together using existing components has helped to break through the cost barrier, but the new challenge will be to create a smaller device that's less unwieldy.
This multi-function Wi-Fi device is super handy in some applications; utterly useless in others. It’s great if you have an extensive hardwired network and want to deploy a wireless access point and a three-port switch in a room your Wi-Fi router can’t otherwise reach. But it sucks as a wireless bridge because of its extremely poor range.
Going green is something that just about everyone is worrying about these days, and NETGEAR is no exception. Having recently announced a new line of Wireless-N routers with the Prius driving consumer in mind, they’ve finally thrown their hat into the eco-friendly ring.
NETGEAR’s new routers will be shipping in packaging that has been made from at least 80% recycled materials, as well as boasting a fancy new on/off switch that will allow users to save energy when the network isn’t in use. There’s also a separate on/off switch that will allow users to turn off only the router’s wireless component.
The inside of the routers will be getting quite a makeover as well, "The enhanced wireless speeds and greater coverage provided by Wireless-N technology enables the simultaneous use of applications such as voice-over-IP, video and multimedia streaming, console gaming, and Web surfing. The launch of these new Wireless-N networking solutions makes it easier and more affordable for consumers to replace their existing routers or modem routers and upgrade their WiFi networks to support these more bandwidth-intensive applications. The new product family is feature-rich in terms of performance capabilities and ease of use as well as energy-efficiency,” says Som Pal Choudhury, NETGEAR’s senior product line manager for advanced wireless products. And when he says affordable, he means it. These bad boys will run you only $89 for the router, and $119 for the router with a built in DSL modem.
Creative this week unveiled its Sound Blaster X-Fi Notebook, which as the name implies is an add-in soundcard for (cue the drum roll) notebooks. But wait, doesn't Creative already offer an X-Fi geared towards road warriors? The answer is yes, and the X-Fi Xtreme Audio Notebook has been available for some time now, but this re-release sports a slimmer profile, a new color scheme, and the ability to transmit wirelessly.
That's right - when paired with the optional Creative Wireless Receiver, the X-Fi will have the ability to beam music to your speakers rather than remain tethered. The new soundcard supports up to 4 wireless receivers, and each one can be placed up to 100 feet away from the notebook.
The slimmed down peripheral fits into both ExpressCard 34 and 54 slots (previous version is 54 only), and brings the usual assortment of goodies to the table, including CMSS-3D, EAX Advanced HD, and Creative's Crystalizer technology. You get a pair of headphones bundled in, along with a free download of PowerDVD with full DTS and Dolby Digital decoding support.
Look for availability by the end of month, with the X-Fi Notebook priced at $80 and optional receiver commanding $70.
If your ISP goes down during a bad thunderstorm or other unexpected outage, you might find yourself reflecting on just how dependent you've become on this thing they call the interweb. But while most of us only have to suffer through temporary downtime on rare occasions, what about the "other 3 billion" people who lack internet access altogether?
Google hopes to change that, and with the help of Liberty Global and HSBC, the three internet saviors are backing a start-up called O3b Networks (can you guess what O3b stands for?). Initial production of 16 low-cost satellites is already underway and will eventually provide the infrastructure for locales without high-speed networking cable, including emerging markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.
"The O3b Networks system wil completely change the economics of telecommunications infrastructure in the world's fastest-growing markets for communications services," O3b said in a statement.
Look for the service to become active in 2010, with the door being left open for even more satellites down the line.