FCC starts the process for making ‘5G’ gigabit mobile data a reality

, Engadget, 10/21/14

We’re barely seeing 4G take hold here in the States and the FCC has begun the process to push into 5G for mobile data. The government’s communications council voted unanimously to start looking into accessing the higher-than-24GHz frequency spectrum that was previously thought to be, as Reuters notes, unusable by mobile networks. So what are the benefits? Gigabit internet connections on the go, for starters — something our current sub-3GHz spectrum can’t quite handle — similar to the ones Samsung just tested. Yeah, now you’re excited. The feds believe that using these “millimeter waves” would allow for higher bandwidth for more people and devices at speeds that outclass most homes’ broadband.

However, these waves only work over short distances for now and require line of sight for their point-to-point microwave connections. And that, my friends, is what the FCC is hoping to fix in the interim. What the vote means is that the groundwork is being laid, and research to make sure the tech is actually feasible now has the green light. For now it’s anyone’s guess (some estimates say by 2020) when we’ll actually start surfing the mobile web at Google Fiber speeds while we’re out and about — millimeter waves may be fast, but the wheels of bureaucracy are not.

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Posted on October 21, 2014 at 8:03 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Samsung claims Wi-Fi speed breakthrough of 4.6 Gbps using 60 GHz WiGig standard

, FierceWireless, 10/17/14

Samsung Electronics said it has developed Wi-Fi technology using the 60 GHz WiGig standard that can transmit data at 4.6 Gbps. That is around five times faster than existing peak 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds of around 866 Mbps.

Samsung said the technology will let users transmit a 1 GB movie between devices in less than three seconds, and that uncompressed HD videos can be streamed from mobile devices to TVs in real time without any delay. Samsung plans to commercialize the technology as early as next year.

The 60 GHz WiGig specification was developed by the WiGig Alliance, which subsequently merged with the Wi-Fi Alliance, making WiGig part of the Wi-Fi family of specs. WiGig is standardized as IEEE 802.11ad.

Samsung said its 802.11ad technology maintains maximum speed by eliminating co-channel interference, no matter how many devices are accessing network. Thus, the conglomerate said the technology removes the gap between theoretical and actual speeds.

In a statement, Samsung noted that there are challenges in commercializing 60 GHz Wi-Fi because millimeter waves that travel by line-of-sight have weak propagation characteristics and are susceptible to path loss, resulting in poor signal and data performance. However, Samsung said that by leveraging millimeter-wave circuit design and high performance modem technologies, and by developing wide-coverage beam-forming antenna, it was able to produce high-performance 60 GHz technology.

Chipset companies, from behemoths like Qualcomm down to small, fabless semiconductor firms like Nitero, are developing 802.11ad chipsets for commercial smartphones for next year.

Samsung said it plans to put its 802.11ad technology in a variety of devices, including audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment. The company also said it will be important in the smart home and Internet of Things markets.

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Posted on October 17, 2014 at 11:45 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Google’s Android emulator is ready to help developers make 64-bit apps

There’s a lot to look forward to in Android’s next major update, but hardware nerds are focusing in one one key feature: official support for 64-bit mobile chips. It’s the mobile OS’ inevitable future, and chip-makers have been preparing for it for quite awhile. Now app developers can jump in, too: Google announced today that a x86 64-bit Android L developer preview emulator image is available for developers that want to take their apps to the next generation. Not every dev will need to rebuild, however — apps built in Java will automatically benefit from the 64-bit release’s increased accessibility to memory and registers. Choose another language? Well, you’ll need to recompile: head over to the source to start testing your apps in 64-bit.

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Posted on October 9, 2014 at 8:29 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Mobile Technology

IP Exchange will play key role in enabling VoLTE roaming

, FierceWireless, 10/9/14

IP Exchange (IPX) will play a crucial role in enabling voice roaming on LTE networks, panellists at the LTE Voice Summit said here.

Maria Cuevas, head of core mobile networks research at BT, said the operator already has many of the elements to offer voice over LTE (VoLTE) roaming, but conceded that IPX players have a large role to play in making roaming a reality.

“From a network to network perspective we think that IPX providers have a huge role to play and can actually help overcome…problems of interoperability between IMS providers be it at the signalling level, be it transcoding in the network, be it quality of service end-to-end, and things like multimedia routing and how to…route the media through the optimal path through the network. Those are value added features that an IPX provider can…help operators with,” Cuevas told delegates.

David Hutton, technical director of the GSMA’s Network 2020 Programme, noted that IPX providers will be critical to offering international VoLTE roaming. “An operator would find it very difficult to have relationships with each one of their partners, or each of the other 799 operators around the world. To set up all those routing and signalling establishments, particularly the routes that you use internationally, is very complex,” he said.

However, Hutton also noted that there are different ways operators can utilise IPX providers. “One is a hubbing model, in which case you have a one-to-one relationship between yourself as the operator and the IPX provider and that IPX provider then determines how to route it to all the other 799 operators around the world.”

IPX providers may also offer varied capabilities, said Steve Heap, CTO of Hot Telecom. “You’ve got IPX providers coming from different backgrounds–you have two on the panel here. One, Syniverse, coming from a roaming background…another [iBasis] coming from more of a voice and transmission background and both are going into the same space.”

Heap noted: “Why would Syniverse want to generate enormous billing systems to create this per minute [billing] model? Similarly, why would iBasis want to have the same model for signalling? So you’ve got two people coming in with nothing to lose into the same market place.”

Kees Hol, business strategist at iBasis, said the implementation of VoLTE seems more imminent than it did a year ago. “I have the feeling there is a more positive vibe on VoLTE and I believe…that we all are aware it will come.”

For Syniverse senior technology program director Pradeep Bhardwaj, IPX is the glue that will provide the interface between elements including IMS and signalling. “IPX is very very fundamental,” he said.

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Posted on October 9, 2014 at 8:26 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Wi-Fi offloading will drive up revenues for test equipment, report says

, FierceWireless, 10/3/14

Mobile operators offloading their data traffic to Wi-Fi need the latest and greatest testing and monitoring solutions to ensure the Wi-Fi networks being used meet carrier-grade quality requirements, and that will drive continued growth in the market for Wi-Fi test equipment, according to a new study from Frost & Sullivan.

More than 55 percent of all mobile data is expected to be offloaded to Wi-Fi networks in 2017, making it imperative for mobile operators to ensure that Wi-Fi networks are of carrier-grade quality,” said Frost & Sullivan Measurement and Instrumentation Program Manager Olga Yashkova-Shapiro.

The firm said the global Wi-Fi test equipment market generated revenues of $528.9 million during 2013. Revenues are expected to more than double, reaching $1.09 billion in 2020.

Test equipment for the latest generation of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac, is currently used in the research and development (R&D) and quality assurance (QA) testing phases. “However, as the market shifts towards manufacturing and field tests, a new set of intelligent testing solutions is required to address the performance and testing of .11ac products for consumers,” Frost & Sullivan said.

The firm noted, however, that 802.11ac’s features pose testing challenges. “For instance, the multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) antenna used in .11ac products requires channel emulation for testing radio performance. Vendors will need to set up a testing chamber for controlled RF conditions,” Frost & Sullivan said.

The firm also cited testing problems caused by changes in Wi-Fi gear as a standard develops. It noted that the final standard the Wi-Fi Alliance approves is often very different from earlier drafts used to develop many products, making it difficult for test equipment vendors to manufacture compliant test platforms. Frost & Sullivan suggested test equipment vendors either ensure their products can be updated continuously or hold off on releasing products until a final standard is released.

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Posted on October 3, 2014 at 8:18 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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FCC to explore wireless operations above 24 GHz, presaging ‘5G’ networks

, FierceWireless, 10/3/14

The FCC is going to start exploring whether and how wireless services can be used in extremely high-band spectrum frequencies above 24 GHz, potentially presaging work carriers will engage in to develop “5G” networks.

In announcing its agenda for its Oct. 17 open meeting, the FCC said it will vote on a Notice of Inquiry to “explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.”

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote that the inquiry is aimed at broadening the FCC’s “understanding of the state of the art in technological developments that will enable the use of millimeter wave spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services.”

He noted that “early studies show that these new technologies–what some are calling ‘5G’–can ultimately facilitate a throughput of up to 10 Gigabits/second, a speed that is orders of magnitude greater than that available today. Our effort here is to learn about the technology and ensure a regulatory environment where these technologies can flourish.”

It’s unclear exactly what the scope of the inquiry will be, but it could be related to multiple technologies or potential future wireless use cases. BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk said it could be related to line of sight and to point-to-point connections, or point-to-multipoint.

Current Analysis analyst (and FierceWireless contributor) Peter Jarich said the traditional use of spectrum in those high bands has been for backhaul or narrow-beam technologies, because of the spectrum’s weak propagation characteristics. He also mentioned point-to-multipoint as an option.

Wireless carriers and network vendors have consistently discussed high-band spectrum and millimeter wave technologies as two fronts in the development of next-generation 5G networks. Jarich said the FCC’s inquiry could be based on how to use very-high-band spectrum in the radio access layer of networks for expanded capacity.

In a statement, CTIA President Meredith Attwell Baker said the trade group is “pleased the FCC will open a proceeding to investigate the use of non-traditional spectrum bands for mobile wireless services.”

“The mobile broadband ecosystem continues to evolve to include new services and technologies, making it essential for policymakers to identify new sources of spectrum, and we look forward to working [with] the Commission as it starts this inquiry,” she said.

Meanwhile, the FCC also said it will consider a Report and Order to promote the deployment of wireless infrastructure. Wheeler wrote that Distributed Antenna System networks and other small-cell systems “use components that are a fraction of the size of traditional macrocells and can be installed–unobtrusively–on utility poles, buildings, and other existing structures.” He noted that the draft order crafts “a far more efficient process for small deployments that do not trigger concerns about environmental protection or historic preservation.”

Wheeler also wrote that the draft order implements “federal statutory directives that are intended to make state and local review more efficient for wireless deployments and modifications that are highly unlikely to affect local communities. At the same time, it preserves our commitment to safeguarding the essential roles that state, local and tribal governments play in this process.”

Baker said the CTIA welcomes “the FCC’s efforts to streamline this process. I am pleased that the FCC will be taking this important step to help boost America’s economy by providing shovel-ready jobs and meeting consumers’ demands for mobile Internet anytime, anywhere. “

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Posted on October 3, 2014 at 8:14 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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BlackBerry Squares Off Against Rivals with Passport

Jef Cozza, Mobile Tech Today, 9/25/14

Hoping to claw its way back into the palms of enterprise users who long ago switched to Android and iOS devices, BlackBerry released its new Passport smartphone Wednesday. Although once the most ubiquitous accessory for business executives, the company now holds only 0.5 percent of the smartphone market as of the second quarter of 2014, putting it behind Android, iOS and the Windows Phone operating system.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company highlighted the phone’s distinctive design, saying that the device would stand out in a “sea of sameness.” The name itself, “Passport,” was chosen to reflect the device’s unusual shape, about the size of an actual passport.

Tactile QWERTY Keyboard

The handset features a 4.5-inch 1440×1440 square touchscreen and a tactile keyboard with a full QWERTY layout. It runs on a quad-core 2.26-GHz processor that comes with 3 GB of memory and 32 GB of storage, along with a microSD slot for additional space, a 13-megapixel camera and the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system.

The company said its reputation for security  relative to mobile  operating systems such as iOS and Android would once again make BlackBerry an attractive device for enterprise customers. It also comes with a 3,450-mAH battery, which the company claims gives it 36 hours of life, a considerable advantage over the iPhone 6’s 1,810-mAH battery.

Although at 4.5 inches, the Passport is smaller than the 4.7-inch screen on the new iPhone 6, BlackBerry says the screen can display up to 60 characters across for users hoping to use the device to work on spreadsheets and other business documents. In addition, users can navigate through screens by swiping across the physical keyboard. The handset maker has also added compatibility with Android apps to the latest version of its operating system. Amazon’s App Store will also come installed.

Priced at $599 without a contract, the Passport comes in below the new iPhone 6, which starts at $649 for users without a contract.

Too Little, Too Late?

But the question remains whether the Passport can return BlackBerry to its former glory, or indeed, even compete against Android and iOS phones. The company said that business users account for 30 percent of the smartphone market, and pitched the device specifically to enterprise users such as mortgage brokers and stock traders. It also highlighted use cases such as looking at blueprints or X-rays. And the BlackBerry platform is still valued by government clients due to its strong security technology.

But Passport will have its work cut out for itself if BlackBerry hopes to recover  from the disastrous reception it received for its last major product launch, the BlackBerry 10. And the handset’s unusual square screen might make it a hard sell to executives accustomed to having just one phone for both work and personal use. Execs who prefer the more popular form factors of Apple and Android phones may find themselves wondering if it makes sense to carry two separate devices for work and pleasure.

The launch may also prove too little, too late for enterprises that long ago switched platforms, despite the company’s insistence that the Passport is “designed from the ground up for the working professional in mind.” The company has already been forced to lay off 60 percent of its workforce earlier this year as core enterprise partners switched to other manufacturers.

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Posted on September 25, 2014 at 8:32 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Mobile Technology, WinPhone

Simultaneous Voice/Data, HD Voice Now Available to Verizon iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Users

MacRumors, 9/22/14

Verizon began rolling out its Advanced Calling service earlier this week, enabling voice over LTE (VoLTE) capabilities for select devices that support the service, which includes the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.

Numerous iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users are reporting that the VoLTE service is now functional, allowing Verizon iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users to use simultaneous voice and data capabilities for the first time when connected to a 4G LTE network. MacRumors has confirmed that VoLTE is indeed working, enabling users to browse the web or access apps while on a voice call.

In addition to enabling simultaneous voice and data, Verizon’s Advanced Calling features also allow for High-Definition voice calls, which are said to be more “natural-sounding” and Verizon-branded video calls.

Advanced Calling 1.0, a first-generation service suite enabled by Voice over LTE, or VoLTE, technology, is now available on America’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network with XLTE. With Advanced Calling 1.0, there is a clear difference. You will be able to enjoy natural-sounding High-Definition (HD) Voice and a Video Calling experience that’s as simple as making a traditional voice call.

Users can enabled Advanced Calling features by visiting the Verizon website and adding the feature to their accounts. Users also need to make sure both Voice and Data are turned on in the iPhone’s Settings app. Go to Settings –> Cellular –> Enable LTE –> Tap Voice & Data.

Verizon’s Advanced Calling features are limited to the iPhone 6, the iPhone 6 Plus, the LG G2, and the Samsung Galaxy S5.

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Posted on September 22, 2014 at 8:09 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Verizon Wireless: We won’t support Wi-Fi calling until mid-2015

John Callaham, Crackberry, 9/19/14

A Verizon Wireless executive stated this week that the company won’t be adding support for Wi-Fi calling for its smartphones until sometime in mid-2015, stating that it will take “some technological work in our network to make it available.”

FierceWireless reports that Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo made those comments as part of an address for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference. Shammo added that adding Wi-Fi calling support was not a big priority for the company, adding, “We built our voice platform so extensively [that] there was never a need for us to tell our customers, ‘Oh, our network is not good enough so you need to go on Wi-Fi to complete your call.”

The news follows that of AT&T, which has also confirmed it won’t offer Wi-Fi calling support until 2015. T-Mobile has offered its customers that feature for a while and Sprint is adding it to a number of its Android phones.

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Posted on September 19, 2014 at 8:08 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Wi-Fi Alliance Promises Simpler Wi-Fi Direct

Joseph Palenchar, TWICE, 9/17/14

The Wi-Fi Alliance upgraded its Wi-Fi Direct spec to deliver a one-step connection between devices.

Product-certification tests got underway in August, and the first TVs and printers with the optional enhancement could be launched at International CES. Cellphones could arrive this year with the technology, said Edgar Figueroa, president/CEO of the alliance.

The option will deliver a “one-step connect and enable” connection between devices, reducing the number of steps from three, Figueroa said. Devices will automatically detect whether another product is equipped with the Wi-Fi Direct option, and consumers will click an icon to establish the connection and enable security.

Four services can be certified under the new certification regimen:

Wi-Fi Direct Print: Users will be able to print documents directly from a smartphone, tablet or PC with a single command.

Wi-Fi Direct Send: Users will transfer files, including photos, in one step.

Wi-Fi Direct for DLNA: DLNA-enabled devices will discover each other before making a connection to stream content.

Miracast: Screen mirroring will be enabled in one step. Miracast is a Wi-Fi Alliance technology based on the alliance’s Wi-Fi Direct technology.

As an example of the streamlined approach to connecting, Figueroa said current Miracast technology requires consumers with a TV and mobile device to manually discover the TV and manually set up a Wi-Fi Direct connection. Consumers must find the screen-sharing UI of the TV and mobile device and either push a button on both devices or enter a PIN on one device. Users go into a phone’s Wi-Fi settings for setup and, on a TV, go into the TV’s network, display or input settings, depending on the TV.

The procedure must be executed each time the user wants to do screen sharing, Figueroa said.

With the new spec, “we don’t mandate the names of the icons or how users access them, but once they find the icon, [connecting] will be one click,” Figueroa said.

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Posted on September 17, 2014 at 9:29 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology