Starting Thursday, the internet will get so much faster

, Business Insider, 4/28/16

CloudFlare, one of the startups that secretly runs the internet by handling as much of 10% of all web traffic, is making a little change to its core service that is opening the way to a vastly faster World Wide Web.

CloudFlare on Thursday becomes the first company to widely activate HTTP/2 Server Push, a technology that lets webpages and apps load as much as 15% faster, potentially shaving precious seconds without your having to do a thing.

That kind of speed will translate into a huge shift in the web and how apps are built.

For people with fast internet connections, it opens the door for all kinds of interactive content and apps that simply would have been too unwieldy in a pre-Server Push era. For those in the developing world, it means making the most out of a slower internet connection. Either way, it’s a big deal that will create some shockwaves.

“I don’t think the internet knows how this will be used,” CloudFlare CEO Matthew Prince says.

To be clear, this massive web speed boost won’t happen all at once, Prince says. It will take at least a year for it to come to full fruition. But HTTP/2 Server Push is a massive step in the right direction, as it encourages the entire tech industry to take notice of this technology.

To understand why the wait for a wider web, you need to know a little history.

A little history

When you visit a website, your browser talks to a server in language we call HTTP, or hypertext transfer protocol. That’s why there’s an “http://” in front of every site you visit — it’s to let your browser know that it’s a webpage you want and not some other kind of web service.

Even if you’re not on a browser, many apps use HTTP to talk to servers on the backend and get their data for display. If you’re online at all, ever, HTTP is unavoidable.

In 1997, HTTP 1.1 became the new — and still dominant — standard for serving webpages. It works fine (clearly, given that you’re reading this in a browser or an app). But it has struggled to keep pace with the modern internet, with photos, videos, and other interactive content presenting a bottleneck as it loads page elements one at a time. That’s why you sometimes have to wait for a video to finish loading before photos appear on a page, or vice versa.

Developers started to rely on their own gumption to get around HTTP’s limitations.

“Everybody had worked around its weaknesses with all kinds of tricks,” CloudFlare programmer (and Silicon Valley legend) John Graham-Cumming says.

http2 server push cloudflare

CloudFlareCloudFlare’s chart demonstrates the benefits of Server Push.

The most important example: Google built its own advanced version of HTTP, called SPDY (pronounced “speedy”), that could do clever tricks like load multiple pieces of a page simultaneously. The technology world liked SPDY so much that it adopted a modified version of it as a new HTTP 2.0 standard in February last year.

SPDY and HTTP/2 on their own are fine enhancements over HTTP 1.1, Prince says. But the really exciting part is that HTTP/2 also enables support for a feature called Server Push, which actually lets a web server “talk” to the browser and “explain” the next thing it should load.

In short, it means the browser doesn’t have to guess what is the most important thing it should display next — the server will tell it. That means a massively more efficient and organized loading process and shrinking wait times, right in our existing browsers and apps.

Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox fully support Server Push, and Apple’s Safari browser has beta support. Microsoft has promised it’s coming to its Edge browser. More support will probably come with time.

“This is a sea change in the way the web works,” Graham-Cumming says. “This upends the web.”

The problem is that the onus is on developers to actually go through with it and activate HTTP/2 and the Server Push feature. It’s not hard, necessarily, but it requires a little bit of work, and it has been slow to get widespread adoption.

This is where CloudFlare comes back in.

Flare up

CloudFlare exerts a disproportionate level of influence on the internet for a venture-backed startup, even one with investors like Google and Microsoft.

CloudFlare is what you’d call a content delivery network, or CDN. Basically, when you visit a website using CloudFlare, it detects where you’re at and routes you to the closest server.

Not only does it mean a better user experience — it can make the difference between life and death when it comes to trading on Nasdaq, or even a high-stakes game of “League of Legends.” Prince boasts that it handles somewhere between 8% and 10% of all web traffic, including 7% of the million most popular websites.

In other words, CloudFlare already handles much of the hard work when a browser is talking to a website. That means that with CloudFlare doing the legwork to get Server Push up and running, it makes it much easier for its many thousands of users to adopt.

So that should lead to a rush of websites tripping over themselves to activate it and capitalize on a better, faster user experience. And with that rush comes a critical mass, Prince says, as everyone everywhere looks to adopt Server Push. In fact, Prince says, CloudFlare has done it before, in 2014, pushing the adoption of the SSL security technology.

It will take at least a year to play out, Prince says, but the end result is an improved web for everybody and the potential for a new class of web applications. And you might slowly notice your favorite sites loading a little faster.

“This is going to light a fire under everyone’s a–, and it’s going to be awesome,” Prince says.

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Posted on April 28, 2016 at 11:34 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology

LTE-U coexistence moves along but not fast enough for some stakeholders

, FierceWireless, 4/28/16

Qualcomm, T-Mobile express frustration on length of LTE-U process

While some LTE-U stakeholders are frustrated with how long it’s taking, the Wi-Fi Alliance says it’s on track to meet its goal of releasing this summer a final test plan for ensuring coexistence between LTE-U and Wi-Fi in unlicensed spectrum.

The Wi-Fi Alliance hosted a Coexistence Test Workshop in San Jose on Tuesday, where attendees representing a cross-section of Wi-Fi, cable and wireless industries presented their contributions in order to move the whole process forward.

“There are still disagreements – don’t get me wrong — but attendees are having reasonable discussions and debate to come to consensus” around their areas of disagreement, Kevin Robinson, VP of marketing at the Wi-Fi Alliance, told FierceWirelessTech.

Stakeholders are making good-faith efforts to make positive contributions to move the effort forward, and that commitment was certainly maintained through the workshop, he said. By way of example in how contributions are being made, the Wi-Fi Alliance needs access to LTE-U equipment to conduct the validation process, so it’s reliant on others for that. Toward that end, one LTE-U vendor, Qualcomm, made a commitment to provide equipment to support the process. Robinson characterized that as a positive development, and the Wi-Fi Alliance is looking for similar commitment from others in order to move work items forward.

Qualcomm, however, still isn’t happy with the pace of the process. “Qualcomm believes that the Wi-Fi Alliance’s timeline for finalizing the test plan needs to be greatly accelerated,” Dean Brenner, SVP, Government Affairs at Qualcomm, said in a statement provided to FierceWirelessTech. “For many months, we have bent over backwards to collaborate with the Wi-Fi Alliance and our colleagues in the wireless industry to finalize a joint test plan and to prove — once and for all — that LTE-U will not have any detrimental effect on Wi-Fi — despite the mountain of evidence already proving this.”

He also said that for several months, Qualcomm has offered to provide prototype LTE-U equipment to the Wi-Fi Alliance so the test plan can be finalized, but the Wi-Fi Alliance has not been ready to accept its offer. That apparently changed this week, as the Wi-Fi Alliance confirmed to FierceWirelessTech that it has accepted the offer.

Brenner added: “We also provided feedback on the version of the test plan released on April 1 and engaged in deep technical collaboration to answer questions, provide technical feedback, and ease concerns. While it is positive that a deadline of late June was set to establish the mandatory energy detection levels in the final test plan, prior drafts of the test plan from months ago already included such levels. The time already taken to complete the test plan has been extended for much too long. This process needs to be completed soon. We will continue working to achieve this end result so this innovative technology can be used to deliver improved mobile service to U.S. consumers.”

Qualcomm’s desire to move faster is understandable given it’s been an early supporter of LTE-U and the sooner equipment is out there, the sooner it and its operator partners can reap the benefits. Robinson said the Wi-Fi industry is certainly mindful of the commercial interests of LTE-U vendors and there’s always a balancing act between their desire to get equipment out into the market and the Wi-Fi industry’s goal of making sure there’s no adverse impact on Wi-Fi.

T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray also expressed a degree of frustration this week when he talked with analysts during the company’s quarterly conference call. “We’re frustrated,” he said. “We’re not seeing the progress that we would like to see. We still have an ambition to push solutions into the marketplace inside 2016 but based on, from where we are from a regulatory perspective at this point in time… the light is dimming there a little. But that said, we are making good progress. We have an STA under review with the FCC which would allow us to advance testing.”

Ray also said the company has a commercial kind of small cell product ready to roll that’s LTE-U capable. The handsets “being the long pole in the tent, we’re still pushing with our OEMs for 2016 capability,” he said. “That piece may slide into early 2017, but that’s kind of the timeframe for us at this point in time. It’s a 4Q kind of 1Q 2017 story and we’re going to keep pushing very, very hard.”

One of the biggest topics of debate has been around what level one would expect an LTE-U device to become aware of nearby Wi-Fi and potentially defer transmission, according to Robinson. Where that threshold is set has important implications for coexistence with Wi-Fi. The guiding principle over all of it is to make sure the introduction of LTE-U has no greater impact on Wi-Fi than if a second Wi-Fi network were to be introduced.

The alliance also is in the process of identifying a third-party test house that can serve as an independent test laboratory. Robinson also noted that the Wi-Fi Alliance is moving faster on the LTE-U test regime process, which started around November, than it has with any of its own certification programs. It’s incumbent on anyone interested in moving the final LTE-U/Wi-Fi test process along to be involved and make contributions, he said.

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Posted on April 28, 2016 at 11:27 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

Android N takes baby steps toward becoming a virtual reality platform

, Ars Technica, 4/18/16

Android N gets a “VR helper service” and a “sustained performance mode.”

The second Android N Developer Preview came out this week, and while it brings support for Vulkan, new emojis, and a few UI tweaks, there are also a few references to virtual reality buried inside the new update.


Enlarge / The “VR helper services” screen.

It looks like apps will soon be able to register themselves as something called a “VR Listener” or “VR Helper.” In the latest Android N you can see this by navigating to Settings -> Apps -> Configure apps (the gear button in the top right) -> Special Access -> VR helper services. It looks like this will work similarly to the “Notification Access” screen (used by Android Wear to bring notifications to a smartwatch)—the VR helper services screen will show a list of apps that plug into this API, and users can allow or deny the permission.

In the settings strings there’s a permissions warning related to the VR service that states “[app name] will be able to run when you are using applications in virtual reality mode.” It sounds like when Android kicks over into whatever this VR mode is, the helper app will be able to pop up and do… something. We’re not sure what. We’re also not sure how comprehensive this “Virtual Reality Mode” is.

Right now Google’s VR products consist only of the Google Cardboard app, but we’ve long heard rumors of Google expanding that into a large VR push. Google is rumored to be working on both a smartphone-powered Gear VR-style headset and a standalone VR headset. The Wall Street Journal has also said Google is working on “a version of the Android operating system to power virtual-reality applications.” With this helper service we could be seeing the first of that VR integration work.

The Android N framework also has a new hardware support flag called “config_sustainedPerformanceModeSupported.” “Sustained performance” is something smartphone SoCs are very bad at today. Mobile chips are mainly designed for 2D app usage, so they’re great at spinning up quickly, loading an app or webpage, and quickly going back to sleep to save power. If you push the CPU and GPU for an extended period of time, you’ll quickly hit the chip’s thermal limit, and the SoC will start to throttle. The first Gear VR couldn’t handle extended usage and would actually boot the user out of VR mode when it got too hot. A “Sustained performance mode” sounds like it would change the SoC’s performance mode from a sprinter to a marathon runner, which could benefit gaming and virtual reality.

With Google Cardboard, the Samsung Gear VR, and Project Tango all running virtual reality or augmented reality programs on top of Android, it makes sense for Google to embrace this Android use case with official API support, but rumors from The Wall Street Journal, The Information, and The Financial Times would all put this on the map as part of a bigger push into virtual reality.

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Posted on April 18, 2016 at 10:35 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

Google is said to be considering Swift as a ‘first class’ language for Android

, The Next Web, 4/11/16

About the time Swift was going open source, representatives for three major brands — Google, Facebook and Uber — were at a meeting in London discussing the new language. Sources tell The Next Web that Google is considering making Swift a “first class” language for Android, while Facebook and Uber are also looking to make Swift more central to their operations.

Google’s Android operating system currently supports Java as its first-class language, and sources say Swift is not meant to replace Java, at least initially. While the ongoing litigation with Oracle is likely cause for concern, sources say Google considers Swift to have a broader “upside” than Java.

Swift is also open source, which means Google could adopt it for Android without changing its own open source mobile structure.

Could Google do it?

Born at Apple as a replacement to Objective C, Swift quickly found favor with developers as an easy-to-write language that shed much of the verbosity and clumsy parameters other languages have. It was introduced at WWDC 2014, and has major support from IBM as well as a variety of major apps like Lyft, Pixelmator and Vimeo that have all rebuilt iOS apps with Swift.

Swift can’t be copy-pasted for any platform, though. Specifically, Android would need a runtime for Swift — and that’s just for starters.

Google would also have to make its entire standard library Swift-ready, and support the language in APIs and SDKs. Some low-level Android APIs are C++, which Swift can not currently bridge to. Those would have to be re-written.

Swift would also not be useful in bridging higher level APIs in Java; they’d have to be re-written as well.

Using Swift for Android is not impossible, though. Late last year, developer Romain Goyet toyed with Swift for Android — and had some success. While that project was completed well ahead of Swift being open source, it nonetheless proved that it can be done.

That project used the Android NDK, which allows other languages to be loosely implemented into Android. With an open source Swift and support from Google, Android apps wouldn’t require that toolkit.

All told, Google would have to effectively recreate its efforts with Java — for Swift. If the company is motivated enough, it’s very possible to do so without compromising on its open source values or ruffling any developer feathers along the way.

Kotlin

Just reaching its potential, sources also claim Kotlin is being discussed as a first class language for Android.

Like Swift, Kotlin is object oriented with a focus on safety. Unlike Swift, Kotlin works with Android Studio, Google’s IDE for Android development.

Unfortunately, sources tell The Next Web that Google’s current mindset is that Kotlin is a bit too slow when compiling.

But, Kotlin is billed as a language that “works everywhere Java works,” and has “seamless” support for projects that mix it and Java.

It would be much less work on Google’s end to get Kotlin up and running for Android, but could be a tedious transition for developers.

Facebook and Uber

Facebook’s interest in Swift appears to be completely founded in technological advancement.

A benefit of Swift is that it can serve as both a forward-facing language as well as a server-side one. For a product like Facebook, that’s beneficial; apps and servers can speak to one another seamlessly, and it potentially gives the company a wider scope to write APIs for services.

And work may have already begun. A Github pull request in the Swift repository named ‘Port to Android’ was made by a Facebook employee. It’s not clear if his work was official Facebook business or not, though we have confirmed Facebook is already working with Swift internally — it’s just not known how thoroughly.

Uber’s road to Swift is probably a bit cleaner than either Google or Facebook. Though there are many moving parts to Uber’s service (app, server and API), it can use Lyft’s transition to Swift as an example.

When Lyft migrated its iOS app to Swift, it was a ground-up remodel that took a lot of time and effort — but resulted in an app that’s lighter, leaner and easier to maintain. It’s not known how much (if any) of Lyft’s back-end uses Swift, but the company has been highly complimentary of Swift in its existing application.

When could a move to Swift happen?

The short answer: not anytime soon. The reason? Android.

But Swift is quickly finding its way. Several studies suggest it’s one of the fastest growing languages around, and has blown up since going open source (GitHub tells The Next Web the language is currently its 11th most popular). Demand for developers who know Swift is also exploding, which could be all the indication these three companies need to at least explore using Swift more thoroughly.

Google’s onboarding for Swift would be long; it essentially has to rewrite every Android service, app and API. Google would also have to spearhead Swift support for Android — which is still only being poked and prodded at by clever developers in the Swift community.

In a way, Google has already begun moving away from bits of Oracle-flavored Java. It’s now using the Open JDK for Android rather than the proprietary Java API, and may be considering a post-Java life altogether. Talks in London were said to be exploratory; Google is not yet pushing to move on from Java. While it would be a big undertaking, Swift is meant for speed and safety, and Swift’s roadmap suggests it won’t be quite as difficult to use it for other platforms in the future, specifically when it comes to C++.

Though Kotlin is an alternative, it’s a very nascent language without the eager community Swift has.

Facebook and Uber face similarly daunting tasks when it comes to using Swift throughout, but can –and should — wait for Google to shoulder the load with Android. If the use of Swift is going to be as deep as our sources indicate (that is, all companies want to be using it for server side and forward-facing use cases), Android support is integral.

Moving to Swift for any of the companies also makes little sense unless it’s a thorough re-do, but it’s probably not quite as hard as it sounds. Services like Perfect prove that server-side Swift is ready, and it’s worth considering that Facebook’s engineers (perhaps from the Parse team) may already be working on this.

IBM is also working to make Swift ready for server-side functions.

But don’t expect Google, Facebook or Uber to announce Swift-y plans anytime soon. Facebook and Google both have developer conferences on the horizon, and there’s no indication that Swift will play a major part at either.

We reached out to all three companies for comment on the information our sources brought forward. All three declined to comment. Google specifically pointed to its ongoing litigation with Oracle as reason not to participate in this article. Make of that what you will.

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Posted on April 11, 2016 at 3:08 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

Windows 10 will bring your Android phone notifications to your PC

Tom Warren, The Verge, 4/4/2016

Microsoft is planning to bring Android phone notifications directly to Windows 10 PCs. During a session at Build 2016 today, Microsoft detailed how missed calls, messages, and other notifications from an Android phone will appear on a Windows 10 PC. Microsoft is using the Cortana app for Android to enable this support, and Windows 10 users will even be able to reply to the Android notifications directly from a PC.

Cortana for Android will build up a user notifications store in the cloud, allowing the notifications to mirror onto a Windows 10 PC. The software maker is also planning to allow you to dismiss notifications on an Android phone from a PC. Naturally, this functionality will work for Windows 10 Mobile devices too, but Microsoft won’t be bringing this to the iPhone. That’s largely because iOS is a lot more restricted, and Microsoft’s Cortana app would not have the access required to interact with notifications and respond to messages. Microsoft is planning to bring this notification support to a “future version of Windows,” so it’s likely this will arrive with the Anniversary Update to Windows 10 this summer.

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Posted on April 4, 2016 at 8:41 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 

Leaked T-Mobile doc reveals it’s launching data-only plans

Mariella Moon, Engadget, 3/31/16

Well, okay, they’re data plans with unlimited text messaging.

T-Mobile is preparing to launch six new Simple Choice plans on March 30th, according to a leaked image obtained by TmoNews. Based on the info in the image that we’ve embedded below the fold, these upcoming plans are tailored for subscribers who rely on VoIP and chat apps or who only ever use their phones to go online and text. They’re data-only plans that come with unlimited text messages, see, and they have absolutely no voice minutes included.

Rates start at $20 for 2GB of data up to $95 for a 22GB data bucket. The regular Simple Choice rates start at $50 for 2GB, though T-Mobile has a prepaid plan that costs $30 for 5GB of data, 100 minutes of voice and unlimited text. These options are only available for subscribers with GSM devices and BlackBerry users who have either a BB10 device or a Priv, which runs on Android. We pinged T-Mobile for confirmation, but if it’s true that these plans are launching on the 30th, we’ll hear about it from the carrier itself very, very soon.

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Posted on March 31, 2016 at 9:10 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Blackberry, iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 

This battle over wireless spectrum means getting a signal in more places (FAQ)

, CNET, 3/29/16

CNET breaks down the latest government auction for radio airwaves, and how it affects the future of the wireless industry — and your service.

You like streaming “The Walking Dead” to your phone? The wireless carriers are facing off to ensure that you’ll be able to keep watching those videos without a stutter for years to come.

Tuesday marks the start of the Federal Communications Commission’s so-called “Incentive Auction,” which will take valuable spectrum from TV broadcasters and sell it to companies looking to offer wireless service. This particular swath of spectrum is highly prized — industry insiders call it “beachfront property” — because it operates at a lower frequency, meaning it can run across greater distances and go through walls for superior coverage.

The auction represents one of the best chances for the wireless industry to obtain more spectrum, the lifeblood of the industry because it’s critical for ferrying to your phone everything from cat videos to your work emails. It could reshape the wireless industry, giving smaller carriers a chance to offer you the same kind of strong nationwide coverage as Verizon Wireless and AT&T, which together control more than 70 percent of the US wireless market.

Beyond the big two, T-Mobile, satellite TV provider Dish Network and cable giant Comcast are the other big players preparing to throw their hats in the ring.

To help explain what this auction means for you and to put the details into perspective, CNET has put together this FAQ.

Refresh my memory. What’s wireless spectrum again?

Spectrum is the range of radio frequencies used to transmit sound, data and video to TVs or smartphones. These are the airwaves that ignited Beatlemania in December 1963 when radio stations began playing the hit song, “I Want to Hold your Hand,” and that can deliver “Game of Thrones” to your phone via the HBO Go app.

More spectrum means faster and more-reliable wireless service. Spectrum is a limited resource controlled, for the most part, by the US government. Companies can get their hands on it if they participate in auctions, acquire a company with spectrum holdings or buy licenses from one another in the secondary market. More spectrum is necessary to handle the ever increasing amount of data traffic we’re consuming and sharing over phones, tablets, cars, and other gadgets and machines.

Why is this particular spectrum so important?

The 600MHz band, which is the spectrum that will be made available in this auction, has traditionally been used to transmit TV signals. It’s likely the last time the government will be able to auction off such spectrum.

Low-band spectrum works reliably indoors and across great distances, and it can help the carriers keep up with ever-increasing customer demands for coverage.

AT&T and Verizon, which were the big winners in 2008 in the last auction of low-band spectrum, have built the foundation of their 4G LTE networks on low-band 700MHz spectrum, another sliver of spectrum that was once used to broadcast TV.

T-Mobile, the nation’s third largest wireless provider, has been trying to assemble a similar set of assets for its own network. But for the most part, it lacks significant amounts of low-band spectrum.

(You can check out a full explanation of wireless spectrum here.)

What’s different about this auction?

The so-called Incentive Auction is really two auctions in one. There’s a reverse auction that will allow TV broadcasters to sell their airwaves back to the government. That process will start today. A forward auction will follow in a few months, through which the government will sell those same airwaves to wireless companies. In exchange for giving up their spectrum, broadcasters will get a cut of the proceeds.

This auction will be the biggest and most complicated auction the FCC has ever run.

How much money could this auction raise for the government?

Estimates suggest the auction could generate as much as $60 billion, but many in the industry feel that price is not realistic, given carriers’ constrained budgets. The 700MHz auction eight years ago raised $19.6 billion. Last year’s AWS-3 auction raked in a record-setting $45 billion.

Who are the major players in this auction?

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are likely to buy the bulk of available spectrum in this auction. Because the FCC recognizes how critical low-band spectrum is in creating a company that could rival AT&T and Verizon, the agency carved out a sliver especially for smaller players like T-Mobile and some rural operators to bid on without facing the deep pockets of AT&T and Verizon.

Another wild card in this auction is Dish, which has been steadily building up a war chest of spectrum. The company was aggressive in the 2014 auction, emerging as one of the top bidders, spending around $10 billion.

It’s unclear what Dish will do with the spectrum it already owns and the licenses it will likely pick up in this auction. It is possible the company will look for a partner or will create a fixed wireless service that serves as an alternate broadband connection to DSL or cable.

Comcast also plans to bid in the auction, providing a competitor in the auction to T-Mobile for spectrum set aside for smaller operators. Comcast has built an extensive wireless network using Wi-Fi technology and may eventually partner with a cellular operator to build a network to compete with traditional wireless carriers. It has kept mum on how it plans to use the spectrum. It could also use the licenses to build its own network, but it’s more likely Comcast will use the licenses as a bargaining chip when dealing with traditional carriers.Notably missing from the auction is fourth-ranked carrier Sprint.

How will the outcome of this auction affect me?

Depending on how the auction shakes out, T-Mobile could end up a big winner. For the average consumer, that means T-Mobile could be a stronger alternative to AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile has traditionally had weak signals outside major cities, but the spectrum from this auction will help it cover more regions of the US, especially in the suburbs and rural areas.

When will I actually see these changes?

It could be several years before the spectrum is ready for carriers to use. The auction itself is complicated and could take at least five or six months to complete, with some estimates saying it will drag into 2017.

Because the whole thing hinges on how many broadcasters are willing to participate in the first part of the auction, it’s hard to say how much spectrum will be freed up for carriers to bid on.

Even after the auction ends, there will still likely be delays. At that point, TV broadcasters have 39 months to move off their spectrum positions before handing the licenses over to the FCC. In the meantime, wireless operators can’t begin delivering service using those licenses.

Will the government auction off any more spectrum?

While this is likely the last bit of low-band spectrum to be auctioned off for awhile, Congress is working to pass legislation to free up wireless spectrum in the 3.1GHz-to-3.5GHz band and the 3.7GHz-to-4.2GHz band. This very high frequency spectrum will be able to transmit a tremendous amount of information, but only over shorter distances. And because it’s so high-frequency, it won’t be able to send signals through walls and could experience interference from weather phenomena like fog.

High-band spectrum is ideal for the next generation of wireless, called 5G. But that’s a story for another day, some years down the road.

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Posted on March 29, 2016 at 9:55 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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Wi-Fi Alliance says goal is to deliver LTE-U/Wi-Fi coexistence test plan by summer

, FierceWireless, 3/29/16

Timeframe could be accelerated or delayed based on contributions

A document that Ericsson filed with the FCC indicates the final test plan related to LTE-U and Wi-Fi coexistence from the Wi-Fi Alliance Coexistence Task Group will not be completed until mid-August at the earliest. But the Wi-Fi Alliance says its goal is to deliver a coexistence test plan by summer 2016.

Ericsson’s director of spectrum policy Mark Racek and systems architect Chris Richards met with FCC Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) chief Julius Knapp and others last week to provide an update on LTE unlicensed technologies and the status of product development. Ericsson says it has more than 20 LTE-U trials or demos underway throughout the world, including with the top three U.S. cellular operators.

Ericsson also discussed the process that involves the Wi-Fi Alliance Coexistence Task Group, saying that although a final test plan was to have been established in January 2016, and then April, it will not be completed until mid-August at the earliest. The April Revision “A” test plan contains 100+ tests covering all aspects of Wi-Fi coexistence, including channel selection, dynamic channel sharing and Wi-Fi calling, the company said in an ex parte filing.

“However, it also includes tests that do not pertain to Wi-Fi coexistence, for example in-device requirements that involve information display features which are commercial issues, not coexistence issues,” Ericsson’s filing states. “Other tests are not technology neutral.”

In a statement, the Wi-Fi Alliance told FierceWirelessTech that it is committed to “maintaining the inclusive and collaborative process we established for developing a test plan that will ensure fair coexistence among LTE and Wi-Fi devices. The process is working.”

There are a number of areas of the draft test plan under active deliberation, and “Wi-Fi Alliance does not make it a practice to presuppose how such deliberations might conclude. As with all aspects of our development to date, such discussions focus on ensuring fairness to Wi-Fi,” the statement said. “The Wi-Fi Alliance goal is to deliver a coexistence test plan by summer 2016, and completing the goal in that timeframe depends on contributions from stakeholders. Depending on those contributions, the timeframe could be accelerated or delayed.”

A delay in the ability to deploy commercial-ready LTE-U equipment is more than a little noteworthy given that early supporters of LTE-U said time to market was one of its advantages. A related technology, LAA is the version that is going through the standards groups 3GPP and ETSI, and according to Ericsson’s filing, the specs for LAA in 3GPP are expected to be completed by June, including coexistence conformance tests.

Part of the reason cable industry stakeholders were upset about LTE-U developments had to do with the fact that it was developed through the LTE-U Forum and not a formal standards body where all the stakeholders would get a more formal say in how it develops. Representatives of Qualcomm, one of the biggest promoters of LTE-U, told FierceWirelessTech last month that they were confident that LTE-U still would provide a significant time-to-market advantage.

In January, Knapp announced that the FCC’s OET granted a special temporary authority (STA) to Qualcomm to conduct very small scale performance evaluation tests of LTE-U equipment at two Verizon sites in Oklahoma City, Okla., and Raleigh, N.C. Both Verizon and Qualcomm promised to share results of lab and real-world coexistence tests with the commission.

In its presentation to the FCC last week, Ericsson said four of its labs are performing coexistence verification, including over-the-air in Canada.

For more:
– see this filing

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Posted on March 29, 2016 at 9:48 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , ,

iOS 9.3 brings international WiFi calling to iPhones on AT&T

Mariella Moon, Engadget, 3/24/16

You won’t have to pay additional charges, so long as you’re on a WiFi connection.

If you’ve been waiting for AT&T’s WiFi calling service to start working outside the US, you may want to install iOS 9.3 on your iPhone right now. It won’t only bring Night Shift to your device, but also the ability to call from other countries without incurring additional charges. So long as the feature has been toggled on in Settings, and you’re connected to a WiFi connection, you can make or receive calls abroad even if you barely have coverage. If you dial an international number, though, you’ll have to pay your plan’s usual rates.

It’s definitely a welcome upgrade, but note that the feature only works with the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus and, when it’s released, SE running Apple’s latest mobile platform. Besides updating its WiFi calling service, AT&T now allows iPads and Macs connected to your iPhones via Numbersync to make calls on a cellular connection.

Update: The recipient does not need to have WiFi calling for the feature to work. It works automatically when you’re abroad and can call any US phone number without extra charges.

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Posted on March 24, 2016 at 8:31 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

AT&T’s Wi-Fi Calling Will Now Work While Travelling Abroad

, iPhone Hacks, 3/24/16

AT&T has expanded its Wi-Fi calling feature to allow subscribers to make calls to the United States over Wi-Fi when travelling abroad. When the service was initially launched in late 2015, AT&T subscribers could only make calls over Wi-Fi while they were in the United States. Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So, now when you are travelling abroad and are in an area with poor network reception, you can use Wi-Fi calling to call back your friends and family in the United States for free. If you end up calling a non-U.S. number, you will be charged as per AT&T’s international call charge rates.

AT&T has also updated its website to reflect this change, and it clearly mentions that iPhone 6, 6s, 6 Plus and the iPhone 6s Plus support this feature provided they run on iOS 9.3. AT&T is also pushing a new carrier update to iPhones to enable this feature, so make sure you have it installed as well.

Additionally, using NumberSync AT&T will now also you to receive or make calls over its data network from other devices that are linked to your iPhone and account, even if the latter is switched off or in a different location.

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Posted on March 24, 2016 at 8:28 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,