If this was Twitter, we'd be tempted to slap a #firstworldproblems hashtag on all our complaints about data caps and download speeds. There's two problems with that idea, though: 1) This isn't Twitter, and 2) data speeds can't even be called a #firstworldproblem when plenty of folks in the rural U.S. don't have access to broadband Internet whatsoever. Verizon's looking to change that tomorrow, however, with the rollout of its "HomeFusion Broadband" service, which brings Big Red's mobile 4G LTE network to stationary homes across the nation.
Last September, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formalized a set of technical rules for the use of unused broadcast spectrum between TV frequencies (also known as “white space”), paving the way for what is being dubbed Super Wi-Fi. However, one final formality still remained: the finalization of the new wireless standard.
There were rumblings last week that Verizon and Google had struck an unseemly deal to end net neutrality, but today the two companies have issued a statement clearing the whole matter up. The proposal for "an open internet" makes some bold suggestions, at least when you consider who's involved. For fans of net neutrality, it's encouraging, but still a bit of a mixed bag.
The policy proposal is based around two main points. First: "Users should choose what content, applications, or devices they use, since openness has been central to the explosive innovation that has made the Internet a transformative medium." This all goes to the idea that content cannot be preferentially treated online. This is a big step for Verizon in particular with their status as an ISP. The statement also calls for enforceable penalties for companies found to be violating these tenets.
The second tentpole here is a sentiment that "America must continue to encourage both investment and innovation to support the underlying broadband infrastructure." Along with this a recognition that wireless and wireline broadband are different, and may need different levels of regulation to continue to grow. Google and Verizon appear to be conceding the point that wireless bandwidth is too constrained for all parts of net neutrality to be enforceable right away. What they are encouraging, is transparency. What do you think of the proposal? Sound off in the comments.
Smartphones have whetted the appetite for mobile data to the point that additional spectrum is needed to keep up with explosive demand. As a matter of fact, data traffic is said to have already surpassed the volume of voice calls globally. To satiate this growing hunger for spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission is working on a plan to reclaim 300MHz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next five years. But where is this spectrum going to come from?
Just after it unveiled the National Broadband Plan in March, the FCC made it clear that it plans to reclaim 120MHz of spectrum from TV broadcasters for wireless broadband services. The regulator is now eying 90 MHz of spectrum from the Mobile Satellite Service band to meet its goal.The FCC's Spectrum Force outlined its spectrum reallocation strategy on Friday. Besides reallocating some spectrum in the MSS band to wireless broadband services, it wants to ensure that the remaining spectrum is used more efficiently than before.
Cell carriers have been cashing in on mobile broadband in the last few years. If customers want to avoid a contract, the USB modem has to be purchased at full price and there’s no break on the monthly bills. A company called Telava intends to upend that model. The so-called “Broadband Bullet” is a prepaid USB data stick that you don’t even have to buy.
The Bullet is piggybacking on T-Mobile’s 3G network, so coverage isn’t going to be as expansive as Verizon might be. The device will operate on both HSPA 7.2Mbps and HSPA+ 12Mbps networks. The USB modem also has a microSD card slot for storage.
The cost is probably the real attention getter here. That business about not buying it? Yep, just leave a $100 security deposit and bring it back when you’re done. You can also buy it outright for $200, but why would you? Service is $50 per month for 5GB of data, and $60 for unlimited bandwidth. This is certainly of note seeing as the actual cell carriers usually won’t even sell you an uncapped data plan anymore. Not a bad deal for contract-free data. Color us intrigued.
According to Clearwire’s press release all three providers will have service available in more than 25 markets, covering over 30 million people. Checking out coverage maps there’s not a whole lot to get excited about. Much of Clearwire and Sprint’s coverage, geographically, is in suburban Texas. The only cities, and I use the term loosely, are Las Vegas, Boise, Atlanta, Portland, and Seattle. The only efforts to tackle legitimate urban areas are Chicago and Philadelphia.
So, if you happen to live in Milledgeville, Georgia, population 18,757, you’ve got Sprint’s 4G service waiting for you. But, if you live in Los Angeles, California, population 3,834,340, you’re out of luck.
Google must be pleased to see the market for 3G netbooks swelling at a time when it is preparing to launch Chrome OS. Market research firm iSuppli anticipates 3G netbooks – those with embedded wireless broadband – to become even more popular in the next few years, as always-on internet becomes an integral part of the whole netbook experience. iSuppli expects 3G netbook shipments to increase by over 70%, as compared to the previous year, to reach 17.8 million units this year.
But a spike in netbook shipments doesn’t imply that it would be smooth sailing for Google’s Chrome OS. “Google must counter the high visibility of the Microsoft brand name on countless products in retail outlets, ranging from software, to PCs, to peripherals,” iSuppli advised Google.
Baltimore became the first US city to be blessed with a commercial WiMax service in October, 2008. Though WiMax hasn’t spread like a flu across the country since then, the rate of implementation is expected to pick up a bit in the near future. Clearwire’s WiMax network has now become operational in Atlanta, Georgia and anyone living their can avail the service by purchasing a USB modem and a daily/monthly subscription.
The WiMax network in Atlanta is the biggest of its kind in the U.S and encompasses an area measuring 1,200 square miles. The speeds are expected to hover between four and six Mbps on an average with 15Mbps being the upper limit. Separate USB modems are available for desktops and laptops.
If laptop users will have to fork out $59.99 for the modem, their desktop-doting counterparts will have to pay $79.99 for the desktop-compliant modem. The latter species can also rent the device for a monthly sum of $4.99. The monthly subscription plan costs $40 whereas the service can also be accessed for $10 daily.
According to ABI Research, a dozen operators across the globe have positioned themselves to launch LTE services in 2010. Verizon Wireless, US Cellular and MetroPCS Wireless are the three US-based operators that figure on the list.
Infrastructure equipment vendors like Huawei, NEC, Fujitsu, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, and Starent are experiencing a windfall as operators prepare themselves to launch LTE services. However, regulatory impediments in some parts of the world mean that a large chunk of people will be deprived of this almost divine wireless bliss until regulators put the necessary spectrum on the block.
WiMax has been heavily touted for its ability to provide last mile connectivity. As a result people have been keenly awaiting the advent of WiMax, the technology that is capable of sustaining wireless broadband networks spanning entire cities. But the wait for WiMax in the U.S has constantly been elongated for the past few years and the technology has never arrived.
However, Sprint is finally going to put an end to the wait. Baltimore will become the first U.S city to have a WiMax network in October. Sprint has scheduled a launch event on October 8, 2008 in Baltimore. Some other major cities including Chicago and Washington, D.C., are also expected to jump onto the WiMax bandwagon this year.