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Asus RT-AC87: First Mu-MIMO Router

Posted by Sam Churchill on

ASUS has officially announced its RT-AC87 Quantenna-based router. The AC2400 designation comes from the 1.73Gbps capacity on the 5GHz band in 802.11ac mode and up to 600Mbps via 802.11n.

Small Net Builder reports the RT-AC87 is the first of the “wave 2″ 802.11ac routers and supports Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO) using the 4×4 (four receive / transmit chains) architecture of Quantenna’s QSR1000 chipset.

The router was announced at January’s CES as the RT-AC87U. It becomes the first router to support MU-MIMO, although there are no devices that support MU-MIMO at this time. MU-MIMO is expected to be particularly useful in high-density urban environments such as stadiums where hundreds of people may try to share a single access point.

The RT-AC87 introduces some new features including AiProtection parental controls and a new intelligent QoS feature that uses packet inspection to allocate bandwidth.

MU-MIMO improves wireless throughput by enabling simultaneous transmission to three or more clients. Single User MIMO had to serve devices, round-robin style, one at a time. Devise support for Mu-MIMO is expected shortly. Phones using Qualcomm’s 801 processor may support MU-MIMO (with a software upgrade).

The router is available now in North America with the estimated price of $270.

Small Net Builder also has a first look at the NETGEAR R8000 Nighthawk X6 Tri-Band WiFi Router based on Broadcom XStream technology with two 5 GHz radios and a 2.4 GHz radio.

Tour de France 2014

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The 101st Tour de France (NY Times, Wikipedia and Twitter), began on Saturday July 5, 2014 and continues until July 27, 2014.

The 21-stage race began in Yorkshire, U.K., and stretches across Europe including Spain and Belgium. The race spans a total of 3,664 kilometers (or approximately 2277 miles).

Some 3.5 billion people watch some part of the 4,700 hours of television coverage. It’s the most-watched sports event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Unlike the other two, the Tour de France does not stay put in a few stadiums.

Broadcasting live to more than 180 countries from 21 stages over the course of a month is one of the most difficult challenges in broadcasting. Almost 200 riders compete over huge distances, many of which snake up and down isolated mountain passes.

This year they have experimented with fitting small cameras to riders, even though the footage can only be accessed after the race. Virgin Media used Siklu’s tiny Gigabit 60GHz radio for backhauling WiFi hotspots in Leeds, England.

Orange, a French communications multinational supplied infrastructure for the event. Cycling fans can follow live each of the stages directly on their PCs via the Orange portal. There are lots of apps, of course, on the Google Play and Apple’s Appstore

Fans have been risking life and limb to snap a selfies at the 2014 Tour.

Comcast’s NBC is charging $4.99 a day for live coverage.

Every morning, 25 engineers start building a communications headquarters from scratch, based in four trucks that travel from town to town. One truck is for the press, the second for photographers, and the third for broadcasters. The fourth truck is the heart of the communications infrastructure for the world’s media. The Orange Event trucks connect fiber to the France Telecom network and via satellites.

The feed is sent to one of two identical trucks provided by Orange, which provides all the communications infrastructure for the Tour. It is piped into high-bandwidth fiber optic lines and sent back to France, from where it is beamed to 185 countries and broadcast live with a delay of less than a second. Networks can add their own commentary on top.

Orange in partnership with EuroMedia France (formerly SFP), manages the Tour’s TV broadcasting.

EuroMedia provides motorcycle cameras, helicopters and aircraft in order to ensure broadcast (especially in the mountains). Images from motorcycle cameras are transmitted via high-frequency links to helicopters flying at 600 meters altitude that then retransmit them to aircraft flying at 3000 meters.

The aircraft then broadcast the image to the town where the finish line is located, via 4 HF aerials mounted on a crane 50 meters up. Out of the 4 aerials, 2 are used exclusively to receive images, while the other 2 are used to coordinate helicopters and motorcycle cameras with the production team.

Coverage of the race inside the 1750 m long Croix-Rousse tunnel in Lyon was made possible thanks to the special receiver system installed inside the tunnel.

NBC has online coverage of the Tour de France. Live video is shown in the upper left, but one can toggle the video to full screen.

The text column on the right has frames showing the peloton and other rider groups and a curated, Twitter-like news feed. The graphic frame at the bottom has five optional modes.

Orange telecom customers can access exclusive content on their mobile phones and tablet. Orange launched LTE-A this month in select cities, utilizing carrier aggregation encompassing frequencies in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, which will provide downlink transmission speeds of up to 75Mbps (800MHz) and 150Mbps (2600MHz) respectively, to deliver a combined download rate of 225Mbps.

Orange is installing Ericsson RBS 6000 base stations in Paris, as well as in the south-west and north-east regions of France. Orange plans to deploy LTE-A in early 2015 in 14 of the most densely populated cities, and expand outward. Orange expects 4G roaming will be available across Orange’s European footprint by the end of 2014.

The announcement came on the back of the commercial launch of rival Bouygues Telecom’s LTE-A network in Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Malakoff and Rosny-sous-Bois in June. It aggregates frequencies in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands. Residential users can access the LTE-A network using the Bbox Nomad mobile hotspot (above).

France is forecast to hit 10 million LTE connections within five years, accounting for close to one in eight of the country’s total connections by 2017.

More Tour de France news is available from Cycling News, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, Reddit’s Page, NBC Facebook page and NBC’s $15 app. Digital Trends explains how to watch the 2014 Tour de France.

AWS-3 Auction: Nov 2014

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The FCC last week updated rules for use of the AWS-3 spectrum that will be auctioned to commercial cellular operators on November 13, 2014, notes RCR Wireless.

The FCC in late March released its initial AWS-3 rules. The FCC’s Report and Order sets flexible-use regulatory, licensing, and technical rules for 65 megahertz of spectrum in the AWS-3 band, which includes the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands.

The licensed spectrum will include three 5×5 megahertz options, leaving just a single 10×10 megahertz license covering the country. The unlicensed spectrum will use the 1755-1780 MHz bands.

the FCC detailed the AWS-3 rules in mid-May, noting that there would not be any limitations on bidding eligibility. Verizon showed strong interest in the band, while Sprint has hinted that it may skip the AWS-3 proceedings.

The aggregate reserve price for the 1695-1710 MHz band is $580 million with a separate aggregate reserve price for the paired 1755-1780 MHz/2155-2180 MHz bands of approximately $10.07 billion. Some spectrum is being reallocated from federal use in the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands. The FCC will assign new licenses for the AWS-3 spectrum by competitive bidding.

In its AWS-3 transition plan released earlier this month, NTIA estimates total relocation and sharing costs for the 1695-1710 MHz band at $527.1 million and for the 1755-1780 MHz band at $4.576 billion. The spectrum at 2155-2180 MHz is in FCC hands and ready for auction. The 1695-1710 MHz band will be unpaired spectrum used for low-power uplink operations. The 1755-1780 MHz band will be licensed for low-power uplink operations and will be paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band for downlink operations.

As previously included in AWS-3 rulemaking, the FCC also reiterated that companies that gain access to spectrum licenses will have to put up with potential interference from federal users in the 1755-1780 MHz bands that are set to be cleared of federal users as part of the auction process.

The protection zone addition did not go over well with FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who fired off a formal letter stating his objection to the process. Pai’s objections centered on the lack of information regarding the location of the protection zones.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Sets AWS-3 Auction Rules, AWS-3 Auction Rules: Who Benefits?, Dish Wins Everything in H-Block PCS Auction, Verizon Activates AWS Band , DOJ Sets Conditions for Verizon AWS, Verizon Getting AWS Spectrum Says WSJ, T-Mobile Okayed to Test Spectrum Sharing, Verizon’s Spectrum Deal: Tough Nut, AT&T Buys 2.3 GHz from NextWave, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE, FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy,

Unlimited Voice Not Data, New Normal

Posted by Sam Churchill on

A few years ago, cellular companies charged for each call their customers made and gave most of them unlimited data, notes Recode.net.

Now carriers have effectively flipped their business model, with most people now getting unlimited calling and texting and paying for the size of data plans they want.

That transition in the U.S. is now largely complete, with the industry having managed to keep its profits high, while changing the way it does business, says Recode.

A new study from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners finds Verizon has navigated that shift best, with the fewest customers still on unlimited data. Some 51 percent of Verizon customers play more than $100 per month, including 14 percent that pay upward of $200 per month, according to the survey. The same survey found that just 22 percent of Verizon customers have an unlimited data plan, compared with 44 percent for AT&T and 78 percent for both Sprint and T-Mobile.

According to new research from Allot Communications, 85% of operators across the globe now have some sort of “value-based” pricing plan, whether it be shared data, zero-rating apps (free limited data), or a partnership with an over-the-top provider.

More mobile operators are choosing to collaborate with OTT app and content providers. 37% of operators had at least one OTT partnership, up from 26% in 2012. Facebook is the top free social media access app. It allows operators to attract more subscribers, keep them engaged and reduce churn.

Europe is leading the pack with service innovation, followed by Latin America and North America, according to Allot.

France’s Free Mobile is a good example of potential disruption in pricing that could come to the United States.

More than 8 million consumers flocked to Free Mobile as Orange and France’s two other wireless operators, Vivendi’s SFR and Bouygues suffered steep declines in sales. In April, Vivendi vacated the market altogether by selling SFR to Luxembourg-based Altice in a deal valued at 17 billion euros, reports Bloomberg.

Free offers 20 GB/mo 4G service along with unlimited voice and messaging for $US27/month. The Freebox Revolution router, which delivers a triple play of broadband, TV and landline telephone calls to Iliad’s 6 million subscribers, is a big reason Iliad’s stock returned 151 percent in the three years ended on June 24.

France owns 28.4 percent of Orange, previously France Telecom, which is Europe’s fourth-biggest telecom operator. Some in the government were concerned that Iliad did NOT charge higher prices. Orange has decided not to pursue a merger within the marketplace despite encouragement from the French government.

Orange and Bouygues Telecom, France’s third-largest mobile provider, had discussed partnership to buy SFR, but now Altice will merge SFR, France’s second-largest mobile provider, with its French cable unit Numericable.

GoAntenna: 10 Mile Cell Communications – Without Towers

Posted by Sam Churchill on

GoTenna has developed a 6-inch-long antenna that connects to iPhones and Android phones via Bluetooth low energy. The antenna then transmits the data to other GoTennas through proprietary protocols, at 151-154 MHz. You can send text messages up to 160 characters as well as share your location on offline maps.

The gadget is available for preorder at $150 for two devices, since it takes two devices to form a peer-to-peer network.

It uses the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), an unlicensed personal radio service in the 150 MHz band. The goTenna is dependent on FCC approval and is currently undergoing FCC testing. If it doesn’t pass, money would be refunded, says the company.

According to the company, you can send & receive messages for free:

  • Share locations on detailed, offline maps (also for free!)
  • Instantaneous transmission within range
  • Automatic message retry & delivery confirmation
  • Individual & group messaging
  • “Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range
  • Proximal friend map & location pinging
  • Emergency chat
  • End-to-end encryption (RSA-1024) & self-destructing messages
  • Compatible with iOS & Android devices

When cell towers and wifi aren’t available, goTenna makes the phone you have in your hand useful. CEO and co-founder Daniela Perdomo told GigaOM that GoTenna’s range is limited only by the horizon, or up to nine miles in open environments. In a heavily wooded area, the signal would travel a shorter distance, but still about four miles. A goTenna can only be paired to one phone at a time.

The part-95 radio services (FRS/GMRS/MURS) is available for unlicensed use in the United States. It is intended for short-range local voice or data communications.

The 150 MHz VHF band, used by the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), propagates better outdoors. The 450 MHz UHF band is used by the Family Radio Service (FRS) has a maximum output of 500 mW while the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS uses the lower 7 channels of FRS, in the 462 MHz range, with a maximum of 5 watts ERP. It requires a valid GMRS license, but propagates better in buildings and urban areas.

In Portland this Saturday cargo biking was utilized in the Disaster Relief Trials. Cell phones were turned off. Cyclists used paper maps and pedal power to move supplies.

Riders were required to haul 100 pounds of cargo over a 30-mile, obstacle-strewn course. In the more family-friendly Replenish Class, riders will be required to carry one passenger on a 15-mile “post-disaster household supply run.”

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Multnomah County Emergency Management agencies were on-site at the Oregon Museum of Science to track the riders via radio. Representatives from the FEMA Region 10 staffed checkpoints.

Maybe next year goTennas and smartphones will enable real-time tracking and messaging.

Satellite Capacity Report: Supply & Demand

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Northern’s Sky Research has released their 2014 Global Satellite Capacity Supply & Demand report, which projects that over 3,000 new transponders and 2+ Tbps of High Throughput Satellite capacity will far outstrip demand growth over the next decade.

Despite the reality of oversupply in a few regions and bands, NSR projects the market will grow by 76%, from about $11.8 Billion currently to $21.1 Billion by 2023.

On the supply side, NSR expects that nearly 3,000 transponders will be added based on satellites entering service between now and 2023. “Nearly every satellite being launched will carry traditional Ku-band, thus adding 1500 transponders of just Ku-band by 2017. This continues until the effect of HTS supply begins to eat into the broader demand, a phenomenon not expected until the end of this decade”, says the report.

Global demand paints a cautiously optimistic picture, with over 1,300 transponders of new demand for traditional C, Ku, and Ka-band capacity arising by 2023, supplemented by nearly 1 Tbps of new GEO-HTS demand. “Looking at global demand, the hype surrounding HTS is indeed justified, with a demand growth rate of over 30% annually, compared to less than 2% for traditional FSS C, Ku, and Widebeam Ka-band capacity,” reports Blaine Curcio, Analyst and report co-author.