LTE-U’s window is closing and bigger 5G disputes may be coming

The Register, 8/22/16

Verizon and Qualcomm slam Wi-Fi Alliance’s proposed test framework

One of the presumed outcomes of the 5G process is full convergence of licensed and unlicensed spectrum, with one or more air interface standards which can span both, using frequencies entirely flexibly according to requirement. This is a very long way off, if the current quarrels over extending LTE into licence-exempt bands are anything to go by.

Coexistence of Wi-Fi and LTE in the 5 GHz band is beset by political and commercial agendas, but there are also genuine technical problems in the way of being good neighbors. This is unsurprising, given that the two technologies started from very different places and have evolved separately, under the auspices of different standards bodies. Is converged, evolutionary 5G really practical?

Will this situation improve in the 5G era? The 3GPP is in control of the air interface standards process again and there seems to be little input from Wi-Fi’s IEEE body, though most Wi-Fi players expect their technology to evolve into a 5G component too. Operators want 5G to be an evolution of LTE, not a rip-and-replace new start, but the dream of a fully converged licensed/unlicensed solution might be more achievable with a new platform, avoiding the issues LTE-Unlicensed is now facing – many arising from the difficulties of forcing two such different wireless standards to play nicely together.

And that’s before the regulatory and ownership issues of convergence are aired, and the impact on the value of spectrum. Again, a clean slate would be desirable, to usher in a new approach to spectrum holdings, based around flexible access and doing away with outdated auctions and multi-decade, multi-million-dollar licences. But treasuries and spectrum owners alike will protest and the result, like LTE-U itself, is likely to be an uneasy compromise between the entrenched positions and the radical vision.

It is sadly easy to see, in the current 5 GHz rows, glimpses of the likely debates which will risk delaying or derailing full 5G platforms in the 2020s. The latest outbreak of hostility over LTE-U enters on a testing plan, proposed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, and more specifically over signal strength thresholds. LTE-U is, of course, particularly controversial because it does not have to support listen before talk (LBT), which is required for coexistence in the 5 GHz band in many parts of the world, but not in the US. LTE-U uses carrier sensing adaptive transmission (CSAT) instead.

Other unlicensed LTE solutions, such as LTE-LAA (licensed assisted access) and Qualcomm’s MuLTEfire, do implement LBT (so could be used worldwide if regulators agree) and have other safeguards for Wi-Fi. But those are yet to be commercialized (LTE-LAA is part of the current 3GPP Release 13 but will not be readily available until 2017), while LTE-U was part of Releases 10 to 12 and so could be rolled out now in the US and some other countries, if it can get the regulatory green light.

The Wi-Fi Alliance’s test regime draws backlash:

Hence the urgency with which the Wi-Fi community has claimed interference risks to try to block LTE-U, while also insisting on taking the lead in devising a coexistence framework, should the blocking effort fail. Meanwhile, many cellular players are concerned about the behaviour of Wi-Fi near their LTE signals – LTE-U adapts its duty cycle to coexist with Wi-Fi, and treats Wi-Fi devices as slaves, while Wi-Fi devices occupy the whole airtime, for instance.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has published its proposed test plan, but received a furious response from Qualcomm and others (even though Qualcomm is a prominent Wi-Fi player since its acquisition of Atheros, it is a cellular organization at heart, and its leadership of several 5 GHz LTE initiatives, from LTE-U commercialization to MuLTEfire, show how the chip giant continues to assert engineering and IPR dominance in the cellular platform, in a way it has never achieved in Wi-Fi.

The main issue around acceptable testing parameters concerns Wi-Fi received signal strength (RSSI) values. The Alliance has specified -82 dBm, but Verizon and Qualcomm, among others, believe the value should be -72 dBm. The Qualcomm camp believes the -82 dBm test is too rigorous, since Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and ZigBee only back off at levels of -62 dBm. LAA has already settled on a compromise level of -72 dBm for testing (but, of course, supports LBT, making the issue less divisive). But Broadcom and other Wi-Fi players say the tests should ideally be more demanding, testing signal sensitivity scenarios as low as -89 dBm.

“The latest version of the test plan released by the Wi-Fi Alliance lacks technical merit, is fundamentally biased against LTE-U, and rejects virtually all the input that Qualcomm provided for the last year,” Dean Brenner, Qualcomm’s SVP of government affairs, said in a statement earlier this month. “The latest version of the plan would require LTE-U to protect Wi-Fi 100 times more than Wi-Fi would protect LTE-U in all environments under criteria that ignore data submitted to the Wi-Fi Alliance, including data from Wi-Fi vendors.”

He expressed anger that the Alliance had rejected a compromise proposal submitted by Qualcomm and claimed the new plan had “the clear purpose of trying to keep the benefits of LTE-U away from consumers and off the unlicensed spectrum, which is supposed to be for all of us”. He added: “The watchword for unlicensed spectrum is supposed to be permissionless innovation, not incumbent protection,” a conclusion which had a certain irony, coming from the camp whose key interest is to defend the position of incumbents like Verizon.

Brenner urged the FCC to “disregard” the Alliance’s proposal, hinting that the regulator may have to intervene to move things forward – something it has been reluctant to do in unlicensed spectrum.

Posted on August 22, 2016 at 4:43 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Google’s brand new OS could replace Android

Andrew Orlowski, The Register, 8/18/16

webOS, BeOS and Android heritage

The source code of Google’s latest operating system has emerged, and it looks like all new code from the ground up.

The Fuchsia project can be found here, and uses an entirely new kernel, “Magenta.” It boots on ARM and x86, and the authors say they’ve managed to boot it on a Raspberry Pi. The IPC part is Mojo and higher up the stack is support for Google’s Flutter graphics.

Involved in the project are two Be Inc veterans, Brian Swetland and Travis Geiselbrecht, who moved to Danger Inc, where they developed the Danger Hiptop OS. Swetland then joined Danger founder Andy Rubin’s startup Android Inc, which Google acquired in 2005. Swetland was “Systems / Kernel Lead for the Android Project” between 2005 and 2012 according to his LinkedIn page.

Geiselbrecht took a slightly different route after Danger, spending 18 months at Apple as it developed the iPhone, then developed the webOS kernel at Palm, and was the architect of the Jawbone embedded OS.

Also involved is former head of OS at Palm, Chris McKillop, whose CV indicates he joined the project in March 2015.

These are highly skilled, serious practitioners of the art, and just who would want to create a future OS, rather than some whimsical side project. In addition, the presence of a compositor suggests the potential for Fuchsia reaches far beyond embedded systems.

Google is believed to be working on a “proprietary Android” that doesn’t require the Linux kernel, allowing them to speed up development and pass updates directly to end users. Fuchsia could allow them to break their dependencies and achieve the same goal.

Swetland has made a few comments on Hacker News, confirming that the OS is in its infancy. And kindly providing a photo of the OS booting.

Swetland explains:

The Magenta kernel is maybe a bit more of a minikernel (97% of drivers and services live in userspace, but the syscall surface provides a wider variety of primitives than just send/recv/exit that a hardcore microkernel design might embrace).

It inherits from LK, which was written in C, but the new surfaces in the Magenta kernel are written in C++ (a restrained, limited C++, intended to take advantage of nice things C++ brings without getting us in too much trouble in the controlled kernel environment).

The core Magenta userspace drivers and services are mostly C at the moment, some will shift to C++ over time, and provided they use the same RPC protocols, there’s nothing preventing one from building such components in other languages once those other languages are building suitable binaries for Magenta.

You can download Fuchsia here

Posted on August 18, 2016 at 4:17 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology

HP turns to Windows 10 for mobile devices, cuts reliance on Android

, ComputerWorld, 8/15/16

The company has no interest in selling low-cost Android mobile devices

HP has dabbled in many operating systems over the last few years, but the company always seems to come back to Windows.

The company is building a mobile device strategy around Windows 10 Mobile and is slowly cutting its reliance on Android, once high on the company’s list for tablets and PCs.

HP has discontinued low-cost Android tablets, and two remaining enterprise tablets feature aging hardware and an old version of the OS. Company executives have said future mobile devices will be built around Windows 10 unless there’s significant new demand for Android.

HP is following the lead of Dell, which has cut Android devices to focus on Windows. Lenovo, meanwhile, still sells Android tablets and smartphones but is cutting its number of Android tablets and increasing its number of Windows 2-in-1s.

The goal for HP is simple: to unify products around one OS, much like Apple. That’s a challenge facing Samsung, with its PCs on Windows, tablets and smartphones on Android, and wearables and smart TVs on Tizen. Samsung is still working to put the pieces together to ensure all devices communicate flawlessly, but the company claimed progress during the recent launch of Galaxy Note 7.

HP is re-entering the smartphone market its Elite X3 handset, which runs Windows 10 Mobile. The company is building its smartphone strategy around Windows 10 Mobile, which had just a 0.7 percent market share in the first quarter, according to Gartner.

In an ideal world, HP could have made Windows 10 Mobile and Android smartphones, but Windows aligns better with the company’s PC, virtual reality, and augmented reality strategy, said Michael Park, vice president and general manager of mobility at HP, in an interview.

Park recognizes Windows 10 Mobile doesn’t have a giant market share, which could make smartphone sales a challenge. But HP wants to provide a high-margin, premium product for office workers already running Windows PC apps.

HP says Elite X3 can be a PC replacement with help from cloud services and accessories. Users will be able to run Universal Windows apps on PCs and smartphones. HP also plans to bring augmented reality apps on HoloLens to the Elite X3.

“We’re not trying to hit the volumes and scales of Android,” Park said. “We’re going after IT shops. There are a lot of people in the commercial domain who are not using Pokemon Go.”

HP has said it doesn’t want to sell low-cost devices and has cut many Android devices in the process. But the same strategy doesn’t apply to Windows — this week it announced low-cost Stream notebooks running Windows 10 starting at US$199.

Windows 10 is also at the center of HP’s tablet and PC strategy as the OS glues together all product lines, said Mike Nash, vice president of customer experience and portfolio strategy at HP, in a recent interview.

“It’s very difficult to build differentiated $99 Android tablets,” Nash said.

If there’s an interest in Android, it’s through Chromebooks. HP offers a handful of Chromebooks — which run Chrome OS — and those devices will be able to run Android apps.

As customers “upgrade the OS on Chromebooks over time, they will run those [Android] applications on that device,” Nash said.

HP has dabbled with Android in PCs under the Slate product line. In 2014, the company shipped an Android laptop/tablet hybrid called Slatebook. That year, the company also shipped the Slate 21, an Android all-in-one desktop PC. The company has even put Android in printers.

HP has worked on mobile printing for Android and iOS devices, and those efforts should continue. Wireless printing is becoming a standard feature in HP’s printers, and mobile printing is growing.

While Android seems to be off HP’s map for now, it has an open-door policy for software and technologies. If a customer needs an Android device, HP will offer the OS, Nash said.

Posted on August 15, 2016 at 9:06 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, Mobile Technology, WinPhone

Vulnerability Exposes 900M Android Devices—and Fixing Them Won’t Be Easy

, Wired, 8/11/16

The latest Android vulnerability to fret about isn’t limited to any particular device, or any specific firmware version. That’s because it doesn’t start with Android at all, but with Qualcomm, the company that provides internal components for hardware manufacturers. Lots of them. In this case, 900 million Android smartphones with Qualcomm inside are at risk, and fixing them will be no easy task.

As security research firm Check Point detailed this week, the vulnerability in question is actually a set of four issues, collectively called QuadRooter, and affects Qualcomm chipsets from manufacturers ranging from HTC to LG to OnePlus to Google, which contracts with other makers for its own Nexus devices. It’s serious; compromised devices would give bad actors root access, meaning they could collect any data stored on the phone, control the camera and microphone, and track its GPS location. It’s like giving someone the keys to your house, then holding the door open for them while they make off with the jewels.

Smartphones and tablets often experience vulnerabilities like this, regardless of the operating system. When it happens on iOS, though, Apple’s generally able to address the issue quickly because it so tightly controls both the hardware and software that comprise its ecosystem. On Android, the fixes are rarely so easy.

“Android security updates are really hard,” says Jeff Zacuto, a member of Check Point’s Mobile Research team. “The Android ecosystem is so fragmented. There are a lot of different versions and variants of Android in the marketplace, because each individual device has its own particular nuances.”

That’s not a new problem; even at the most basic level, only 15 percent of Android devices have updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which Google released last October. Nearly a third are still on Android 4.4 KitKat, which by now is nearly three years old. Those updates don’t just bring fun new features; they also bring valuable security enhancements.

The nature of QuadRooter exacerbates these issues, because it impacts Qualcomm drivers, which are installed not by Google but by individual manufacturers. Those manufacturers also generally produce several models of each smartphone they ship, tailoring them to carriers, who often install custom software of their own before the devices get to the consumer.

That’s why, even though Qualcomm released patches for all four vulnerabilities between April and July, the fixes are still slow to reach actual devices. Even Google’s Nexus devices, which are typically at the vanguard of security, have only addressed three of the four issues. The last will be included as part of a broader security update in the coming months.

As for the other hundreds of millions of impacted devices, it’s not clear how many have gone through the update process. “In order to get these security patches to the end user, they have to travel the whole length of the Android lifecycle,” says Zacuto. “That’s all the way from the supplier down to the end user, and you’ve got manufacturers in the mix, Google in the mix, and also the carriers.” Check Point has created a free app with which people can scan their devices to see if theirs is currently vulnerable (which also, for what it’s worth, doubles as marketing for Check Point).

“We appreciate Check Point’s research as it helps improve the safety of the broader mobile ecosystem,” says a Google spokesperson. The company rated the four QuadRoot issues as “high” risk. The other options on its assessment scale are “moderate” and “critical,” making QuadRooter serious but not devastating.

That’s partly because falling victim to a QuadRoot attack requires downloading a malicious app. Zacuto says that while Google is generally very good at keeping malware out of the Google Play store, the practice of sideloading apps from untrusted sources could leave plenty of devices at risk, especially in regions outside of the US where the practice is more common.

Even if vigilant Android owners should be unscathed, QuadRoot is yet another reminder of how difficult it is to keep Android devices safe. With so many devices, and so many variants within those devices, and such belated updating on the part of users, problems like QuadRoot won’t just continue to appear. They’ll continue to stick around far longer than they reasonably should.

“The security model in the Android ecosystem is inherently flawed,” says Zacuto. And while Google has done terrific work securing its own devices, it’s got too far to go still making sure all of its partners can ensure our safety as well.

Posted on August 11, 2016 at 11:36 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: 

Everything you need to know about Wi-Fi calling

, CNET news, 8/2/16

Curious about Wi-Fi calling and what it entails? CNET has the rundown on what you need to know.

In addition to offering customers a cheaper alternative to their phone plans, one of the main draws of networks that integrate Wi-Fi technology like Republic Wireless and Google’s Project Fi is they will seamlessly switch a user’s phone service between cellular and Wi-Fi when needed.

Wi-Fi calling is nothing new; apps like Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp make it easier to use a phone to place calls and send texts over the internet and forgo mobile networks altogether. Carriers are also adopting Wi-Fi calling themselves. Whether it’s because they want to bolster their network coverage or improve user experience, several networks have phones that have this service baked in.

To help you make sense of what Wi-Fi calling is, why it’s important and what you can use it for, CNET put together a handy guide to walk you through everything you need to know.

What is Wi-Fi calling?

Instead of using your carrier’s network connection, you can make voice calls via a Wi-Fi network. That could mean using a Wi-Fi connection you have set up at home, or whatever Wi-Fi hotspot you happen to be on when you’re out and about, such as at a cafe or library. In most ways, it’s like any other phone call, and you still use regular phone numbers.

Why would I want that?

Wi-Fi calling is especially useful when you’re in an area with weak carrier coverage. For example, when you’re traveling to the residential countryside, or you’re in a building with spotty reception. You may already be familiar with using Wi-Fi to send messages when SMS texting is unavailable (apps like Kik and Facebook Messenger provide these services) — and the same applies when you’re trying to place a call. With Wi-Fi, you can call a friend up even if you’re in a dingy, underground bar (assuming you can connect to the bar’s Wi-Fi, that is.

Isn’t that what Skype does?

In a way, yes. There are various services including Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger that provide what’s known under the umbrella term VoIP, for “voice over Internet Protocol,” to make calls with either a Wi-Fi or data connection.

Carrier-branded Wi-Fi calling is a bit different, however. It’s baked directly into the phone’s dialer, so you don’t need to fire up an app or connect to a service to use it. You can set it as your default way of placing a call, or if you lose phone signal, it will automatically switch to Wi-Fi calling.

Because the service is built in, that also means you don’t need to add contacts to a service as you do with Skype. You’ll have access to your existing phone book, and your friends can receive your Wi-Fi call without needing to download a third-party app. With no contacts to add, carrier Wi-Fi calling requires little effort to set up.

What carriers and phones support this service?

All four major US carriers (T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon) provide built-in Wi-Fi calling. Republic Wireless and Google Project Fi provide Wi-Fi calling on certain phones too. The former carries nine Android handsets, while only three phones (the Nexus 6P, 5X and 6) work on the latter. Republic Wireless gets support from Sprint’s network if connection is unavailable, while Google uses T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular.

Currently, T-Mobile has 27 smartphones that support this option. As for Sprint, Wi-Fi calling is available on a number of iPhone models that run iOS 9.1 or higher. Several Android devices have the service as well, but you’ll need to check through your handset’s Settings menu to see if you have it. AT&T offers Wi-Fi calling for eight handsets, while Verizon has 14 phone in its Wi-Fi lineup.

Does it cost more?

For domestic calls, it doesn’t cost any extra as such. But making calls over Wi-Fi can come out of your regular minutes allowance depending on your carrier and your phone plan. Be sure to read the policies of your carrier to see if any of their potential restrictions and charges relate to your situation. Click the following to read the restrictions for T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon.

If you’re running out of minutes, using services like Skype or WhatsApp will help avoid incurring any additional charges.

Can I use it overseas without paying huge amounts?

Again, that depends. T-Mobile lets you make and receive Wi-Fi calls for free between 140 countries. Sprint customers won’t be charged for calls made to, from or between the US, the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but they will be charged “international calling plan rates” for other countries. Also, four of its Android phones don’t support international Wi-Fi calling: the HTC One Max, Sharp Aquos, HTC Desire 510 and Kyocera Hydro Vibe.

Unless you have an iPhone running iOS 9.3, both AT&T and Verizon charge for international Wi-Fi calls, whether you buy an international plan or pay per use.

Republic Wireless only supports Wi-Fi calling for the US and Canada. You can make calls to Puerto Rico, Guam, US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Johnston Atoll, Midway Atoll and Wake Island, however, but may be charged 50 cents per minute. Project Fi works in more than 135 countries, but you should check specific rates depending on the country you’re calling to and from. You’ll also only be charged for outbound calls.

If you’re going abroad and want to keep in touch, it’s best to stick with Skype and WhatsApp when you’re connected to a building or hotel’s Wi-Fi. You can use data, but remember that it will cost you a lot if you’re roaming on cellular networks. If you don’t have a roaming plan, make sure you only use Wi-Fi and turn off data roaming in your Settings before heading out.

Do I need a fast Wi-Fi connection?

Though the higher throughput you have the better your connection will be, a minimum of 1Mbps should be enough to patch a solid call through. Republic Wireless reports that it can hold a call with 80kbps, but the quality may decrease and you’ll experience more dropped calls as well.

Posted on August 2, 2016 at 10:18 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Android, iOS, Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

PureLiFi moves closer to commercialization

, FierceWireless, 7/18/16

PureLiFi, the Scottish startup led by “father of LiFi” Harald Haas, just announced the completion of a Series B financing round led by Temasek. The funding will support the development and commercialization of its proprietary LiFi technology that uses LED light to provide wireless communication.

LiFi, which uses the visible light spectrum instead of radio frequencies to deliver high-speed wireless data communication and internet access, initially gained fame during a TED speech that Haas delivered back in 2011. Radio waves are limited and expensive, he said, and can’t keep up with demand given constraints in spectrum resources.

PureLiFi, which has worked with the likes of Cisco and Lucibel, was formed in 2012 as a spin-off from the University of Edinburgh, where Haas has served as chair of the Mobile Communications department.

Since its last funding round in December 2014, the company has completed the development and production of the LiFi-X product, which it described as the world’s first mobile LiFi dongle, representing a step toward mass-market adoption. This enabled the company to secure the Series B funding and support its ambitions of ubiquitous LiFi infrastructure and device integration.

The company now has raised more than $10 million to date, with the most recent funding led by Temasek, an investment company based in Singapore. The company was advised by Quest Corporate, the Edinburgh-based corporate finance advisory business, and Dickson Minto, during the fundraising process.

“This funding, which exceeds what we set out to secure, gives the company the resources required to rapidly scale over the next few years,” said Russel Griggs OBE, chairman of PureLiFi, in a press release. “When I was asked to become chairman, my task was to build the initial base of the company and secure the funding to take it forward into the sectors we see as the future for the business. Having delivered all that successfully now, I am delighted that we have secured Mike Hickey to take over from me as chairman, whose international and sector experience will lead the company to even greater success.”

Along with Hickey coming in as chairman, the company has also brought on Alistair Banham as CEO, both of whom have substantial experience in the semiconductor industry.

Various universities around the world are studying LiFi as a complement to capacity-challenged Wi-Fi and cellular networks. LiFi uses light, which runs on a much higher frequency, instead of radio waves to transmit data.

Earlier this year, reports surfaced that recent versions of iOS code were found to contain references to LiFi. But analysts told FierceWirelessTech at the time that a reference to LiFi is no guarantee that Apple will actually implement it. If it does go that route, Apple likely would have to create an entire ecosystem to go with it – not implausible, but certainly bold.

Posted on July 18, 2016 at 2:37 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: ,

FCC votes to begin working toward 5G wireless networks

Jacob Kastrenakes, The Verge, 7/15/16

In a unanimous vote this morning, the Federal Communications Commission approved a plan to begin readying the United States for 5G wireless networks.

The proceedings will lead to the commission opening up airwaves that allow for faster data speeds; rights to those airwaves will then be auctioned off to companies like AT&T and Verizon. The FCC expects the first 5G networks to go live four years from now, in 2020.

“I do believe this is one of the — if not the — most important decision this agency will make this year,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

With this vote, the US can begin moving in earnest toward 5G wireless. There are two parts of the equation that still have to unfold. The FCC has to complete the plans it’s laying out today and open up high-speed airwaves to businesses; and wireless companies have to develop the technology that makes 5G work. Most of the big names are already at work on that, and some — like AT&T and Verizon — are already beginning tests.

What we still don’t know is specifically what 5G will do for us. It’ll be faster, of course — the question is, exactly how fast will that be? Wheeler says it’ll be capable of delivering 10 to 100 times the speed of currently wireless networks, but that’s a huge range. The reality likely depends on how mobile carriers decide to put 5G airwaves to work. Like 4G and LTE before it, expect 5G to exist somewhere the forthcoming technical papers’ grandiose promises and what we have today.

Commissioner Mignon Clyburn joked about this lack of certainty in her opening remarks. Turning to Wheeler, she said, “Mr. Chairman, just what is 5G?” You’ll have to trust me on this, but it was very funny. “I’m willing to bet that your answer to the question ‘What is 5G’ will be different from the person sitting next to you, and to the next, and to the next,” Clyburn elaborated. “What we can agree is that the next wireless revolution promises to change the way we live, interact, and engage with our communities.”

This proceeding also opens up the door for much higher speed Wi-Fi. Although that, likewise, will require technical advancements before it can be put to use.

Posted on July 15, 2016 at 9:02 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Verizon hopes to set 5G agenda with latest milestone

, CNET news, 7/11/16

The carrier and its partners agree to a set of standards — a move that pushes the 5G effort forward and that reinforces Verizon’s leadership in the upcoming wireless tech.

The reality of 5G, wireless connectivity that’s faster than our speediest home internet service, is years away. But that isn’t stopping Verizon from making its presence felt now.

The nation’s largest wireless carrier said Monday it has worked out the radio specifications for its 5G deployment with its vendor partners, providing a common blueprint for everyone regarding the network infrastructure, processors and devices. It’s a significant step on the path to 5G. And by moving quickly now, Verizon hopes to set the agenda for how the standards look, a similar strategy it took with its 4G LTE deployment.

Setting the specifications not only speeds the process for its own vendors, but may influence the international community when players around the world finally begin hammering out a global standard, expected in 2020. The Federal Communications Commission is also working to free up resources to drive 5G in the US.

“The level of collaboration that we’re seeing exceeds what we saw during 4G,” said Adam Koeppe, vice president of network technology planning.

Verizon said it was working on making sure its 5G specification lined up with KT, a South Korean carrier interested in making a quick leap into the new technology in time for the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

There’s been a lot of hype about 5G, and Verizon has had a hand in that. It offers massive potential as the next generation of cellular technology. The test speeds that Verizon has been able to produce are fast enough to download the entire “Simpson” series, or 600 high-definition episodes, in about half an hour.

While that may represent a theoretical best-case scenario, even modest predictions of what 5G will actually look like may transform our lives and a myriad of industries by improving and widening access to more people and more devices, and better enabling new tech like virtual reality and self-driving cars.

Verizon isn’t the only company working on 5G. T-Mobile has quietly looked into 5G. AT&T is investing in 5G as well and will run limited service in two cities by summer’s end. AT&T’s size will make it another influential voice in figuring out how 5G looks in a few years.

Verizon said it will begin commercially deploying its service next year.

These early deployments will serve more as a replacement for home internet service, referred to as fixed mobile broadband. Verizon even hopes to potentially provide home broadband access across the nation using its 5G network. But to get the kind of freedom of access you enjoy with 4G today, you’ll have to wait until all the carriers get on board the 5G train.

Posted on July 11, 2016 at 12:52 pm by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Verizon, AT&T offering interoperable VoLTE to some customers

, FierceWireless, 7/7/16

The nation’s two largest mobile network operators have begun to commercially deploy interoperable Voice over LTE (VoLTE). Finally.

VoLTE offers as much as three times more voice and data capacity than 3G technologies, enabling higher quality connections. The technology also allows carriers to increase bandwidth.

AT&T confirmed to FierceWireless that some of its customers can now place VoLTE calls to Verizon users. Verizon declined to comment, however.

“Currently, we are working with Verizon to allow our customers to enjoy that clear audio quality and video calling features when placing VoLTE calls to Verizon customers and vice versa,” an AT&T spokesperson said. “In December, we saw the first VoLTE exchange between our customers and Verizon’s in limited, select areas.  We’re working with others on this same feature, too.”

The news follows several Reddit posts last week claiming the carriers had begun to support interoperable HD voice in some markets.

A top Verizon executive said earlier this year that the company’s VoLTE interoperability testing with competitor AT&T Mobility was going well and that he expected VoLTE interoperability with AT&T to be commercially available this year. The companies had previously said interoperability would be available by the end of last year, but they fell short of that goal.

Adam Koeppe, vice president of network planning and technology at Verizon, said in February that the VoLTE interoperability trials between the two companies were progressing nicely. Koeppe was using VoLTE as an example of how the two carriers have come together to work on interoperability and will likely be able to work together in other areas in the future, like 5G.

T-Mobile said in May that 52 percent of its voice calls were routed on VoLTE, although the operator didn’t discuss interoperability with other service providers. “When you look at the amount of spectrum that is being dedicated to 4G LTE, it’s only 52 percent of our spectrum,” CFO Braxton Carter said at an investors conference in May. “We’re actually very aggressively refarming first PCS spectrum, then we’ll go in and start refarming increasing amounts over time, so we have amazing capacity in a very spectrum-differentiated standpoint.”

Posted on July 7, 2016 at 9:17 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Mobile Technology · Tagged with: , , , , ,

New Wi-Fi standard promises to speed up your wireless

, CNET, 6/29/16

Products that meet the new standard will have expanded high-speed features, such as MU-MIMO, quad-stream and faster channels.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, a body that certifies Wi-Fi products to enable interoperability, has expanded the “Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac” certification program to include features for faster performance.

This program, announced Wednesday, will now include features called “Wave 2” for newer and future AC network products.

What does that mean for you? Any new AC product you buy bearing the certificate’s seal has been tested to deliver these features:

Of all these features, the MU-MIMO (short for Multi-User Multi-Input Multi-Output) is the most anticipated and most significant, since it allows Wi-Fi devices of different Wi-Fi grades to each connect at their stop speed without slowing each other down.

MU-MIMO, as well as other features of Wave 2, have been available in many routers currently on the market, such as the Linksys EA8500, or the Netgear R8500, but only in draft or non-activated form. After today, these routers can be upgraded, via firmware, to fully support the final version.

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, currently more than 68 percent of devices are dual-band, operating in both 2.4 and 5GHz, with many of them supporting 802.11ac, which is capable of delivering wireless speed faster than Gigabit Ethernet. It’s expected that by 2020, 95 percent of devices will support dual-band and in the next five years, most Wi-Fi access points will support Wave 2 Wi-Fi.

Posted on June 29, 2016 at 11:55 am by lesliemanzara · Permalink · Leave a comment
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