Is Dailywireless kaput? Is Sam Churchill, dead? How come no posts in a couple of months? Regular viewers of Dailywireless have been sending me get well cards, great artisan coffee and many kind words.
I’m not dead, but Dailywireless has fallen into a coma. I’m contemplating pulling the plug. It’s been a good 12 year run.
Don Park and I started it in March of 2002. That was before smartphones or 4G, before Netflix or Youtube, before AdSense, and before terrific tools like Techmeme began aggregating content better than humans. The mission of Dailywireless always remained the same; to spread the word about fast, cheap wireless internet access. And by “cheap” we meant “free”.
Back in 2002, Don and I had seen WiFi clients go from $800 to $200 and Portland’s Personal Telco Project, a community non-profit, was installing “free” internet access in pubs and coffee shops. We wanted to spread the word with Dailywireless.org.
Community WiFi networks became all the rage in 2005-6. By late 2007 the movement was all but dead. It was killed by high costs of thousands of nodes, poor coverage and reliability, and 4G standards using licensed bands, first WiMax and then LTE.
But unlicensed WiFi became bigger than anyone had imagined. Smartphones became ubiquitous and needed indoor penetration and lots of bandwidth. WiFi was often the technology of choice. Everyone needed it.
The FCC expanded the 5 GHz band to nearly 1 GHz. The IEEE ran out of letters, developing the 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards, incorporating MIMO and other techniques to take advantage of new spectrum. Meanwhile, Bluetooth, iBeacon, the Internet of Things, drones, balloons, High Throughput satellites, white spaces, 3.5 GHz, and 70/80 GHz have percolated up in a primordial alphabet soup.
Ten years ago, Brewster Kahle’s community WiFi network in San Francisco’s Precideo had a goal of $1 per month for every 1 Mbps of speed. Today $1 per month per 1 GByte of capacity seems doable. That’s progress. It’s all good. Exciting. Revolutionary.
Take Google Fiber, for instance. They’ll probably use a combination of unlicensed and licensed spectrum to reach phones.
Don and I never expected Dailywireless was going to make a lot of money. And it never did. That’s okay with us. It WAS fun.
Dailywireless was a long-term “notes to myself” project, just to keep track of wireless news. I’m glad others found it useful. Thanks for all your kind words and support.
But I need to move on with something fresh. My newest project is Gorge-VR.org, which experiments with VR and Google Cardboard. It’s also just for fun. I should get a real job, but I’m 66 years old, now. I figure I can do what I want.
Thanks everyone. I really enjoyed our time together.
Sprint says its LTE network now covers 260 million people, mostly through the use of 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band. Next year, Sprint’s Chief Network Officer John Saw said Sprint will continue to build out its LTE network with its 800 MHz buildout about halfway finished. “We expect to be substantially complete with our LTE 800 MHz build by the end of 2015 in markets where the spectrum is available,” according to Saw.
Meanwhile T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray said the carrier’s LTE network coverage currently serves a similar 260 million pops, matching Sprint. Ray says T-Mobile is now on track to cover 280 million people with 4G LTE by mid-2015, and expects to hit the 300 million mark by the end of 2015.
T-Mobile has acquired more 700 MHz spectrum in the “A” block, reports FierceWireless, with the carrier making several deals for airwaves with small license holders in the last few months.
On December 18, 1958, the world’s first communications satellite was launched. Dubbed SCORE (Signal Communication by Orbiting Relay Equipment), the project was so secret that only 88 people were aware of its existence. Before the date of the SCORE launch, 53 of the 88 people had been told the project had been canceled and they were not to mention to anyone that it had ever existed.
“This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite traveling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.”
The underlying message was less cheery. The U.S. now had the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon from space.
T-Mobile has agreed to pay the FTC and FCC $90 million to settle cramming charges, according to the FCC’s site. An FTC and FCC investigation found T-Mobile guilty of breaking the law by “engaging in an unjust and unreasonable practice of billing consumers for products or services they had not authorized; and failing to provide a brief, clear, non-misleading, plain language description of the third-party charges.”
“Today we are suing Sprint for allowing illegal charges to be crammed onto consumers’ wireless bills,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a statement. “Consumers ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in unauthorized charges, even though many of them had no idea that third parties could even place charges on their bills. As the use of mobile payments grows, we will continue to hold wireless carriers accountable for illegal third-party billing.”
The CPFB contends Sprint outsourced payment processing for digital purchases such as apps, games, books, movies, and music to vendors called “billing aggregators” without properly monitoring them. The lack of oversight, the lawsuit alleges, gave aggregators “near unfettered access to consumers’ wireless accounts,” according to a CPFB statement.
“Sprint’s system attracted and enabled unscrupulous merchants who, in some cases, only needed consumers’ phone numbers to cram illegitimate charges onto wireless bills,” the CPFB said. “The charges ranged from one-time fees of about $0.99 to $4.99 to monthly subscriptions that cost about $9.99 a month. Sprint received a 30-40 percent cut of the gross revenue from these charges.”
“It appears the CFPB has decided to use this issue as the test case on whether it has legal authority to assert jurisdiction over wireless carriers,” she said in an email.
Prodded by state attorneys general, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile last year agreed to stop billing customers for third-party services.
The F.C.C. is conducting a similar investigation, and people close to the investigation said the parties were close to completing a settlement under which Sprint would pay $105 million in refunds and restitution for the unauthorized transactions.
In addition to the current Cox WiFi markets (Connecticut, Northern Virginia, Omaha, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sun Valley), customers also have access when they travel to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 hotspots made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called CableWiFi, launched in 2013. The hotspots are strategically located in high-traffic areas such as restaurants, malls, sports arenas, parks and beaches in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tampa.
CableWiFi uses Hotspot 2.0 technology where visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to roam across different hotspot networks. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot.
Qualcomm championed the so-called “LTE-U” or unlicensed LTE back in November 2013, before the 3GPP switched to the term “License Assisted Access.” According to Fierce Wireless, Macquarie Research analysts Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton said that after having met with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, they expect T-Mobile will use LAA “extensively on the 500 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum, with handsets becoming available at the end of 2015.”
Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time.
Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit most from MU-MIMO. Several enterprise and carrier-grade infrastructure providers are beginning to roll out their equipment (and backend software) now. LTE using the unlicensed 5GHz band is likely to be several years away, say most industry observers.
How large corporate takeovers of the unlicensed 5GHz band will (or will not) affect any truly “free” municipal network remains to be seen.
These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).
Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network
Qualcomm could be hit with a fine as high as $1 billion, reports Fierce Wireless. The San Diego-based company could also be forced to make concessions that would negatively impact its licensing business. At least 30 foreign firms have come under the scrutiny of China’s 2008 anti-monopoly law, reports Reuters. Qualcomm is the only major ongoing antitrust case in China involving a U.S. company and royalty fees.
Qualcomm’s prospects have been hampered by the National Development and Reform Commission’s (NDRC) 13-month investigation into the firm. An imminent decision in the case could force the company to pay fines potentially exceeding $1 billion and require concessions that would hurt its highly profitable business of charging licensing fees on phone chipsets that use its patents.
President Barack Obama, during his recent visit to China, pushed his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, on the use of Chinese antitrust policy to limit royalty fees for foreign companies. The push by Obama could alter China’s calculus on the issue, but it could just as well backfire. reports Fierce Wireless. It underscores the importance Washington places on China’s investigation.
China Mobile recently said it had 50 million LTE subscribers, with plans to have 150 million customers on the network by the end of next year and 300 million customers by the end of 2016. Their LTE network runs across a total of 130 megahertz of spectrum in the 1880-1900 MHz, 2320-2370 MHz and 2575-2635 MHz bands. China Unicom, the country’s No. 2 wireless carrier, said its 3G and LTE network attracted 4.9 million customers during Q3, while China Telecom, the country’s third-largest mobile operator, had 1.33 million LTE customers.