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New Paperwhite & HDX Kindles

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Yesterday Amazon introduced the all-new Fire HDX 8.9 which features a high resolution HDX display (339 ppi) with a more powerful processor, exclusive Dolby Audio, and all-new Fire OS 4 “Sangria” with new features and services. The new Fire HDX is available for pre-order starting at $379.

Fire OS 4 is based on KitKat and adds features and services to make it faster and easier to use. For example, Fire OS includes ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) which predicts the movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and starts them instantly.

Fire OS 4 will be available on all 4th generation Fire tablets and will be available for all 3rd generation Fire tablets via a free, over-the-air software update. Firefly will be available on Fire HDX 8.9. Fire OS 4 will be available on Fire phone early next year.

Amazon also introduced the new Fire HD, featuring a quad-core processor, front and rear-facing cameras, an HD display. The High-definition display has 252 ppi for 6”, 216 ppi for 7” model and is now brighter than the previous generation Kindle Fire HD. The new Fire HD tablets are available in two sizes—6” for $99 and 7” for $139.

Amazon today introduced three new Kindles: a $79/$99 Kindle, the $119/$139 Kindle Paperwhite, and the $199/$219 Kindle Voyage.

A new Paperwhite display, has the highest resolution, highest contrast, and highest brightness of any Kindle, says Amazon, with 300 pixels per inch. All E Ink Kindles have the same 1GHz processor, and they have 256MB of RAM, except the new Kindle Voyage, with 512MB of RAM. The $79 entry-level Kindle uses an infrared touchscreen instead of capacitive like the Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Voyage.

The $120 Paperwhite is getting upgraded from 2GB to 4GB of storage. The budget $79 Kindle is getting a relatively significant revamp with the navigation buttons all gone and in place of an all-touch interface. The new design is almost indistinguishable from the earlier Paperwhite.

The $200 Kindle Voyage introduces PagePress, a new way to turn pages. PagePress uses a custom-designed force sensor that sits directly under the bezel. You simply rest your thumb on the bezel and turn the page by lightly pressing. When you turn the page, Kindle Voyage delivers tactile feedback from a haptic actuator. The screen on the $200 Kindle Voyage is flush with the body and the shell is made of matte magnesium with strengthened glass resistant to scratches and micro-etched to reduce glare and feel more like paper. A new adaptive front light automatically adjusts the brightness of the display based on the surrounding light.

In addition to the $199 base model, Amazon is offering a Voyage with built-in 3G data (for Amazon content downloads only) for $269. Both models require an additional $20 charge to remove the embedded ads on the home screen and lock screen.

Verizon Adds 22 XLTE Markets

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Verizon Wireless announced that it has launched XLTE in 22 new markets, bringing LTE to the AWS band (1700/2100 MHz), in addition to its 700 MHz LTE service. Verizon says that 4 out of 5 LTE markets, large and small, now have Verizon Wireless XLTE service.

According to Open Signal, T-Mobile is the fastest network in the US, with average speeds of 11.5 Mbps. Sprint performs worst of all US networks, according to Open Signal, posting LTE speeds that are scarcely faster than existing HSPA+, with their average speed of 4.3Mbps ranking as one of the slowest networks worldwide.

Open Signal collects data from users of their Android and iPhone application. This data is then stripped of any identifying information, uploaded to their servers, and made openly available.

T-Mobile has been pursuing spectrum license swaps and acquisitions (from AT&T and MetroPCS) to reach the goal of supporting the 20+20 MHz (40MHz) LTE bandwidth.

Sprint is rolling out 8T8R in its latest 2.5GHz installations (8 transmitters, 8 receivers). That results in better range and speed. Unfortunately, Sprint’s subscribers may not see much improvement since current WiMax subscribers utilize 30 MHz (10 MHz times 3 sectors).

Sprint has said they will utilize the same spectrum footprint with LTE, allocating it differently. With Sprint Spark, apparently, the same 2.5 GHz bandwidth will now be shared among both WiMax subscribers (10 MHZ across 3 sectors) and TD-LTE subscribers (20 Mhz across 3 sectors). The net result of this approach is still unclear. It may be that 2.5 GHz will not be the salvation Sprint had hoped.

Sprint doesn’t need 120 MHz of 2.5 GHz – but other carriers – especially AT&T – might find it useful for small cells. Sprint’s John Saw says the company wants to use Sprint Spark and TDD-LTE for small cell solutions to add capacity in densely populated areas.

Verizon is opened up to the possibility of selling its wireless towers, according to FierceWireless, because of AT&T’s agreement last year to sell and lease 9,700 of its cell towers to Crown Castle in a $4.85 billion deal. Verizon has between 12,000 to 15,000 towers and may be looking to sell about 12,500 sites.

Crown Castle acquired the rights to operate 7,200 T-Mobile towers for $2.4 billion in 2012. Tower operators like Crown Castle, American Tower and SBA Communications provide lease space to a variety of carriers.

Any Dish/Sprint or Dish/T-Mobile deal is reportedly unlikely — until after the 600 MHz auction. As a consumer, I’m partial to a move by Google or Facebook into telecommunications. Dish might be a good partner for Google – particularly if it could acquire 40 MHz of 2.5 GHz for small cells. Maybe Starbucks will be the next “carrier”.

4G Americas reports that in North America, LTE technology represented 33 percent or 127 million LTE connections of the total 391 million mobile connections in North America. It’s the largest market share for LTE (45%), compared to any country or region in the world.

Super Mobility Week

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Meanwhile, at CTIA’s Super Mobility Week in Las Vegas last week, Ericsson launched a new small cell that integrates 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi. Ericsson’s new picocell supports 10 different bands through carrier aggregation, with two 3GPP bands (LTE and WCDMA) as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Philips is offering municipalities street lights that can include small cells, and Ericsson is offering carriers the opportunity to rent space on Philips street lights for small cell installations.

CommScope camouflages cell radios in an eye-level structure that is well suited for advertising. The structure is about the size of a tall cylindrical parking meter.

RCR Wireless has posted lots of videos from the show.

Martha DeGrass interviews Derek Peterson (CTO) of Boingo Wireless at CTIA #SuperMobility Week. Derek gives his take on the Cable Operators and Wireless Carriers getting involved in WiFi.

But Dr. Martin Nuss, CTO of Vitesse Semiconductor, says the rapid growth of the BYOD market, coupled with an explosion in 4G networks and small cell deployment, is creating an IT security threat that the global market needs to urgently address, reports Fierce Wireless.

The connected car was all over CTIA’s Super Mobility Week, in Las Vegas with many booths showing vehicles and demos along with keynote addresses.

Airbiquity, a global leader in connected vehicle services, announced both Yelp and Reuters are now included in their connected car platform, Choreo.

Fifty developer teams were invited to compete in the Ford Connected Car-Connected City App Pursuit. In addition to the Ford vehicle data, hackathon participants will have access to the more than 200 data sets recently released by the City of Los Angeles (data.lacity.org) to create their apps. Ten finalists will be invited to compete in the Pursuit finals, displaying their innovations during the Connected Car Expo at the LA Auto Show, Nov. 18-20.

IDC reported that 1.25 billion smartphones were shipped in 2014 more than 23% over the previous year. Infonetics Research predicts small cell shipments will rise to 1.8 billion annually by 2018, with Japan, South Korea, the UK and US driving early adoption.

Budget Android One Ships

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The first Android One handsets, which are budget-priced smartphones, have been released in India, reports the BBC.

Android One handsets provide a minimum set of features determined by Google.

“Our goal was to develop high quality smartphones at an affordable price, with access to connectivity, done at scale around the world,” Sundar Pichai, who oversees Android, told the BBC ahead of the launch in Delhi.

Sundar Pichai, said Android One had delivered economies of scale that meant the first batch of phones could be offered for as low as 6,399 rupees ($105; £65) if bought contract-free.

Google’s minimum standards for Android One include:

  • 4.5in (11.4cm) display
  • 1GB of RAM (random-access memory)
  • 5MP rear camera and a 2MP front one
  • quadcore processor sourced from Taiwanese company Mediatek
  • the ability to run the next version of Android, due for release soon

In addition, they have been tailored to suit the local market by including a micro-SD (Secure Digital) slot, a replaceable battery, a built-in FM radio and the ability to support two Sim cards simultaneously.

While 1.75 billion people around the world already have a smartphone, the vast majority of the world’s population—over five billion more—do not. About 400 million smartphones will be sold in India over the next five years, according to a forecast by Pricewaterhouse, with the majority bought at Android One’s price point.

Indian carrier Bharti Airtel, the largest carrier in India with over 200 million subs, will have a special data plan for Android One users — the updates sent by Google as well as app updates will be free of charge and won’t be counted towards a user’s monthly 200MB data quota. Bharti Airtel is the fifth largest mobile operator in the world after China Mobile, Vodafone Group, China Unicom, and America Movil.

Currently, Aircel and Bharti Airtel provide LTE service in India. Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Tikonav, and Augere have acquired 2.3 GHz spectrum for TD-LTE in India, but a lack of ecosystem, is hindering nationwide service.

According to Wireless Intelligence, smartphones will account for two out of every three mobile connections globally by 2020. The number of smartphone connections will grow threefold over the next six years, reaching six billion by 2020, accounting for two thirds of the nine billion mobile connections by that time.

China iPhone Launch Delayed: Threat to National Security?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Apple is facing a potential setback in China, reports the NY Times, delaying the introductions of the new iPhone models in China.

On Wednesday, Apple told China’s three big state-owned mobile service providers that it would not release the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus in mainland China on Sept. 19, when sales start elsewhere. The carriers had already booked advertising campaigns for the phones.

Apple did not explain the delay, executives at the carriers said, but it appeared the phones had not received approval from Chinese regulators.

The Chinese leadership and the state-controlled news media grew wary of foreign technology providers after revelations last year by Edward J. Snowden of American cyberspying. In July, CCTV, the main state-controlled television network, broadcast a report saying that the iPhone could represent a threat to China’s national security. The accusations were promptly rejected by Apple.

Apple declined to comment on Wednesday, as did representatives for China’s three main mobile carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom.

In 2012, the US Intelligence Committee declared Huawei & ZTE Security Threats.

Huawei and Bain Capital Partners were forced to give up their bid in 2008 for computer-equipment maker 3Com after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States raised objections. Huawei dropped plans to buy certain assets from 3Leaf Systems, a computer services company, after more problems with the foreign investment panel. Sprint eliminated Huawei as vendor in its massive Network Vision upgrade, after pressure from the government.

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), an outspoken critic of N.S.A. surveillance, noted that the report flatly declared that the phone-logging program had not been necessary in stopping terrorist attacks.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper condemned Snowden’s actions as having done “huge, grave damage” to US intelligence capabilities, while lying to Congress.

Related Dailywireless articles include; NSA Spying Threatens Global Internet?, Snowden Pursuaded Co-workers to Give Up Passwords, NSA Stores Social MetaData on US Persons, GCHQ Stores and Searches Oceanic Fiber Data, NSA Decrypts Everything, Concerns Linger over Huawei and ZTE, Huawei Before Intelligence Committee, CISPA Passes House, NRO: The Real Ice Station Zebra?, DEFCON 20, FISA Amendments Extended, ISPs Adopt Cyber Security Recommendations, Russians Not Controling Springfield Water Pumps,

Mobile Carriers Object to Increased Net Neutrality Rules

Posted by Sam Churchill on

This week speec FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler hinted the agency is considering net neutrality guidelines that would apply to wireless carriers. In its original guidelines, the FCC drew a line between wired and wireless networks, getting wireless operators off the hook due to their limited spectrum.

Wheeler highlighted Microsoft’s letter to the FCC, saying the software giant wrote that we are living in a “mobile first” society in which mobile devices are the primary path to the Internet for many people.

Microsoft is advocating for net neutrality rules for the mobile Internet that will follow the guidelines established in the FCC’s 2010 Open Internet Order. That order prevented Internet service providers from blocking or slowing the delivery of packets on their networks.

Executives from the nation’s top wireless carriers were quick to unanimously rejected arguments that wireless networks should fall under the same net neutrality guidelines as wireline networks, reports Fierce Wireless.

Leonard Cali, senior vice president of global public policy for AT&T, said it would “chill innovation.” Cali made his comments here at the 4G World event, held in conjunction with the CTIA Super Mobility Week trade show. Cali argued that applying stricter net neutrality guidelines onto wireless carriers would cause them to either seek FCC approval for virtually every action, or would cause them to pay fines.

“It’s an incredibly complicated system,” argued Bruce Gottlieb for SoftBank. Gottlieb said that, during the past few years, device and platform companies like Apple, Samsung and Google have gained more control over the mobile user’s experience, although why that would apply was less clear.

Luisa Lancetti, chief counsel of law and policy with T-Mobile US, argued, “The core difference between fixed networks and mobile networks has not changed.”

On Wednesday, during Internet Slowdown Day, more than 10,000 sites participated in the action by placing spinning “loading” symbols on their web pages, according to Fight for the Future, a public advocacy organization.

The spinning symbols were meant to imitate a slow-loading site, a protest criticizing the FCC’s proposal to allow ISPs to charge websites for faster access to home Internet subscribers—a decidedly anti-net neutrality rule.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed rules that would allow ISPs to charge content companies to ensure their websites or applications load smoothly and quickly, as long as such deals are deemed “commercially reasonable.”
The FCC is currently considering a proposal for rules for the Open Internet that would establish that behaviour harmful to consumers or competition by limiting the openness of the Internet will not be permitted. The proposed rules would ensure:

  1. Transparency: That all ISPs must transparently disclose to their subscribers and users all relevant information as to the policies that govern their network
  2. No Blocking: That no legal content may be blocked
  3. No Unreasonable Discrimination: That ISPs may not act in a commercially unreasonable manner to harm the Internet, including favoring the traffic from an affiliated entity.

Wheeler has recently appeared to be warming up to increased net neutrality rules.

Thirty-three companies including Cisco, Intel, Alcatel Lucent, Ericsson, and Nokia’s NSN, joined activists, lawmakers and companies debating how the U.S. government should regulate Internet service providers. Critics, including Netflix and numerous advocacy groups, argue the plan would threaten less deep-pocketed content providers by potentially relegating them to “slow lanes” on the web.