Fujifilm WiFi Shown

The Fujifilm FinePix S9600, introduced just before Photokina features a nine Megapixel Fujifilm Super CCD sensor, 10.7x Fujinon optical zoom lens… and a WiFi adapter mounted under the camera.

Although it was being demonstrated at the giant, bi-annual Photokina Photo show, there’s no information on the device cost and availablity (or even if it will ever be available). In the demonstration, photos shot with the Fujifilm FinePix S9600 were transferred wirelessly to a printer. The wireless FTP option seems to be a challenge to camera manufacturers. Of course FujiFilm has shown WiFi prototypes before and nothing has ever become of them.

FujiFilm’s new FinePix S5 Pro DSLR ($1200) features a Super CCD chip (with 6.17 million S-pixels and 6.17 million R-pixels) while the camera body is comprised mostly of Nikon-compatible D200 parts. Fujifilm says it can be fitted with a wireless adapter, although details on their D-SLR WiFi adapter are hard to come by.

Maybe Fujifilm’s S5 Pro D-SLR ($1200) will work with Nikon’s Wireless Transmitter WT-3 (FCC filing). The oft delayed WT-3 (perhaps $500) works with the $1700 Nikon D-200, but not the $999 D-80. Nikon’s WT-3 WiFi adapter (if it ever comes out) is expected to have a 10/100 Ethernet port in addition to 802.11b/g for control of the camera wirelessly or by wire. It plugs into the camera’s USB connection.

Fujifilm was having fun displaying the S9600 WiFi adapter. Fujifilm is able to shoot multiple angles simultaneously. One main camera triggers a bunch of remote cameras with WiFi.

The main camera controls all the remote cameras. Each camera records the captured image in its internal memory. The main and remote camera are linked via WiFi’s ad-hoc mode.

Combine it with ORAD’s 3D software which can turn ordinary games into compelling, profitable experiences. “Matrix” a basketball game — or your downtown core. Let’s get Nike on this.

Wireless photography might be lots easier (and cheaper) with a good camera phone. Nokia’s N-95 ($700) is one of the best. It features a 5 Megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, up to 160 MB internal memory, built-in WiFi, HSDPA, and can record VGA movies.

DailyWireless has more on HDTV from Aircraft, WiFi Cameras and Panoramic Video.

Thinkpad Battery Recall

Lenovo, IBM and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued a recall for 526,000 Sony batteries in Thinkpad notebooks.

The recall comes after reports that a Lenovo system had caught fire at the Los Angeles LAX International Airport. The latest recall brings the tally to more than 6.4 million Sony batteries that are being recalled due to a fire hazard.

The recalled lithium-ion batteries were sold as standalone units or in combination with the:

  • Thinkpad T-Series (T43, T43p, T60)
  • R Series (R51e, R52, R60, R60e)
  • X Series (X60, X60s)

The batteries recalled carry the part numbers of the ASM P/N and FRU P/N series: 92P1072, 92P1072, 92P1088, 92P1142, 92P1170, 92P1174 92P1073, 92P1089, 92P1141, 92P1169, 93P5028, 92P1173 or 93P5030.

This recall is the third recall related to a potential fire hazard in Sony batteries, which prompted Dell to recall a total of 4.1 million notebooks and Apple 1.8 million notebooks. Toshiba also recalled 340,000 batteries dues to a charging or discharging problem.

Sony, which estimated that the Dell and Apple recalls would cost the company about $267 million, announced on Thursday that it has initiated a “global replacement program for certain battery packs that utilize Sony-manufactured lithium ion cells used by notebook computer manufacturers in order to address concern related to recent over-heating incidents.”

According to the company, metal particles in the recalled battery cells may come into contact with other parts of the battery cell, “leading to a possibility of short circuit within the cell.” Sony said that in a typical case, “a battery pack will simply power off when a cell short circuit occurs. However, under certain rare conditions an internal short circuit may lead to cell overheating and potentially flames.”

According to Lenovo’s FAQ:

Q1 Which ThinkPad notebook PC models are affected by the recall?
Customers who bought a ThinkPad or optional or replacement battery between February 2005 and September 2006 may have a Sony battery subject to the recall.

Q2 How can I find out if my battery is being recalled?
Go to www.lenovo.com/batteryprogram to determine if your Sony battery is affected by the recall. If you prefer to call a Service Center, a worldwide phone list is also available at www.lenovo.com/batteryprogram.

Q3. If my battery is recalled, how much will the replacement cost?
Lenovo is replacing the recalled batteries free of charge. If you return your recalled battery, your replacement battery will have a one-year warranty.

Q4. Do I have to return my defective battery?
Yes. Lenovo will send a prepaid shipping container to facilitate the return. To ensure customer safety, it is very important that all recalled battery packs be returned.

Q5. If my battery is recalled, how long will I have to wait for it?
Early in the process when demand is heaviest, it could take 3 to 4 weeks to receive a new battery.

Q6. If my battery has been recalled, may I continue using my system while I’m waiting for my replacement battery?
If your battery has been recalled, to continue using your ThinkPad notebook PC safely:

  1. Turn off the system
  2. Remove the battery
  3. Power your system with an AC adapter.

Directions for removing the battery are available at www.lenovo.com/batteryprogram.

Rural Broadband Dying

The New York Times has a feature story today on the pathetic state of rural broadband:

Bill and Ursula Johnson are among the unwanted. These dairy farmers in bucolic northeastern Vermont wake up before dawn not just to milk their cows, but to log on to the Internet, too.

Their dial-up connection is so pokey that the only time they can reliably get onto the Web site of the company that handles their payroll is at 4 in the morning, when it is less busy. Mr. Johnson doubles as state representative for the area, and he doesn’t even bother logging on to deal with that. He communicates with colleagues in Montpelier, the capital, by phone and post instead.

The Johnsons’ communication agony could soon get worse. Instead of upgrading them to high-speed Internet access, Verizon, their local phone company, is looking to sell the 1.6 million local phone lines it controls in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The possible sale is part of an internal plan called Project Nor’easter, according to a person with knowledge of the details.

Verizon is not alone in its desire to reduce the number of landlines it owns. Big phone and cable companies are reluctant to upgrade and expand their networks in sparsely populated places where there are not enough customers to justify the investment. Instead, they are funneling billions of dollars into projects in cities and suburbs where the prospects for a decent return are higher.

The United States already lags behind much of the industrialized world in broadband access.

Rural phone lines can be profitable because the basic infrastructure was paid for years ago, there are often few competitors and subsidies from the Universal Service Fund, which helps carriers provide service to hard-to-reach consumers, can be substantial.

But the subsidies do not benefit all carriers equally. For example, Vermont Telecom, which has 21,000 phone lines in the state, will receive $24.34 a month per line in the fourth quarter from the fund, money that is credited to customers on their bills.

But as a larger carrier, Verizon will receive one-tenth the subsidy, or $2.42 per phone line. Any company that buys Verizon’s lines will inherit the same subsidies, making such a deal a less attractive investment.

The goals of Universal Service Fund, as mandated by the 1996 Act, are to promote the availability of quality services at just, reasonable, and affordable rates; increase access to advanced telecommunications services throughout the Nation; advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas.

The FCC says funding for rural telephone service is drying up (pdf). Fewer people are paying into the Universal Service Fund as land lines are dropped for wireless phones and VoIP. To counter the estimated $350 million shortfall that move created, the FCC ruled VoIP providers must now pay into the fund.

New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a gubernatorial candidate, has his own plan to provide affordable broadband to all citizens of the Empire State.

If elected, Spitzer would contract with companies in the private sector to provide high-speed Internet service at affordable rates.

The private company or companies would pay for the necessary infrastructure and agree to sell the service at low rates, in exchange for being the sole provider over that infrastructure for several years.

A Navini Network will cover the entire state of Rhode Island. The $20 million border-to-border wireless network would allow collaboration between industry, and the public and private sectors. Users would include government agencies, businesses, and education institutions. It is not planned to provide network access for individual consumer usage.

IBAX Group, Navini’s long time exclusive partner in Italy, plans to launch and expand municipal and resort networks as well as build out a nation-wide network using Navini gear.

Navini’s antennas form individual, independent signal beams optimized for a customer’s location, distance and QoS. With 80 simultaneous beams, this capability can be shared across a great many customers on each site.

“The market is clearly ahead of the standard,” said Roger Dorf, president and CEO of Navini Networks. “Our new platform represents our third generation of Personal Broadband base stations, leading the industry in delivering the best overall CAPEX and OPEX.”

M2Z, a company funded by venture capitalists, has their own plan — free nationwide broadband wireless network. M2Z wants to use the simplex part of the AWS spectrum (from 2155Mhz to 2175 Mhz).

M2Z says their proposal solves the Universal Service Fund dilema. It would be free (with ads) or $20/month for faster access without advertising. In lieu of an auction, and in exchange for exclusivity, M2Z would give the Treasury 5% off the top.

M2Z argues the 20 MHz of bandwidth would lay fallow for years since they’re not paired with other airwaves. M2Z, which stands for “Move the cost of data transport to Zero,” has filed a 127-page proposal (PDF). It might also dovetail nicely with MVP’s satellite/cellular repeaters and Modeo’s DVB-H mobile television, which also use the 1.7GHz band. Triple play.

The FCC has decided that “free” nationwide broadband wireless (and exclusive use) is not an idea whose time has come. The FCC took the 20 MHz frequency block off the AWS auction table.

A co-founder of Nextel, through Cyren Call Communications, urged the FCC to establish a Public Safety Broadband Trust to hold the license for a key segment of spectrum in the 700 MHz band in a filing to the FCC.

They want to move spectrum that was previously allocated strictly for commercial use into shared public safety and commercial usage. Cyren Call says their proposal would enable a workable, self-sustaining business model for public safety communications.

Now Verizon Wireless has joined the fray, pitching a plan to build a nationwide broadband public-safety network in the 700 MHz band, reports RCR News.

The Verizon Wireless plan envisions using 12 of the 24 megahertz set aside for public safety to build a nationwide public-safety broadband network. Verizon Wireless would augment its existing infrastructure as necessary to give public-safety the coverage it needs and then would extract rent from public-safety agencies across the country to use that infrastructure. The spectrum, however, would not be shared with Verizon Wireless’ commercial customers. The Verizon Wireless plan is similar to one proposed by Cyren Call Communications.

The Cyren Call plan has been supported by public-safety advocates while the commercial wireless industry and some lawmakers are skeptical of dual-use on commercial frequencies.

Cyren Call says they can use 700 Mhz more efficiently and provide national broadband coverage. M2Z says they can provide broadband voice and data nationwide at 2.1 GHz. Free.

The Rural Broadband Fix

C|Net says the FCC is managing a $7.3 billion Universal Service Fund.

Managing it for whom?

It shouldn’t be that hard to structure a rural broadband solution that’s cost/effective and fair.

The technology is there. The money is there.

The political will is not.

It’s tempting to call FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, the Michael Brown of telecommunications. Look at his record.

Where’s the broadband competition?

– Sam

Related DailyWireless articles include; Does Net Neutrality Work?, The Verizon Tax, Funding Rural Broadband, AWS Auction: Does it Suck? and AWS: It’s Done.

Mobile ESPN Killed

Mobile ESPN is shutting down, according to their web site. Mobile ESPN will cease operations as an MVNO Dec. 31 and will refund the purchase price of all Mobile ESPN handsets. Sales are discontinued effective immediately. Details are available at Ars Technica, Engadget, GigOm and MoCo News.

Launched in February of this year after a massive ad campaign centered around the Super Bowl, the venture used Sprint Nextel’s network to provide cellular service, video clips, and other sports-themed content via ESPN-branded phones.

ESPN hoped sports fans would sign up for it’s virtual mobile service that featured packaged sports highlights, clips from ESPN programming (such as Sports Center and Baseball Tonight), real-time score updates, and fantasy sports information.

Plans start at $39.99 per month and include all the normal cellular features along with all of Mobile ESPN’s basic sports content. But if you wanted to watch highlights you had to pay an additional $14.99 per month, or $24.99 per month for the Total Sports Package, which covers all of the video offerings from the service. That’s close to $65/month.

Apparently sports fans didn’t want to buy a new phone service just to get ESPN content. Displaced users may wind up as Sprint Nextel customers once Mobile ESPN goes dark. ESPN is expected to seek deals with other mobile carriers to package ESPN-branded content for cell phones.

Mobile Virtual Network Operators lease spectrum and facilities (often on Sprint), and re-package the service to select groups.

There are dozens of MVNOs including Amp’d (games), Disney Mobile, Helio (Earthlink/SK Telecom), Qwest Wireless, Uphonia (urban ethnic) and Virgin Mobile.

Mobile TV Metrics

Primetime viewing for mobile video is largest during the afternoon and early evening, according to Telephia, a consumer research firm.

According to Telephia’s Mobile Video Diary Report, 30 percent of mobile video users watch mobile TV and video clips on their cell phones during the hours of noon and 4 pm, and 31 percent watch during the early evening commute hours of 4 pm to 8 pm.

Telephia also says contrary to popular belief, mobile video usage is being consumed by older age groups. Fifty percent of mobile video users are 25-36 year olds, compared to 24 percent of the total mobile population.

MediaFLO, HiWire, Modeo and Mobile WiMAX using 700 Mhz, 1.6 GHz and 2.5 GHz frequencies respectively, promise to multicast dozens of audio/visual channels to millions of mobile devices – often integrated into cell phones.

Sprint and Cingular use MobiTV for streaming video on cell phones. MobiTV currently uses a single 1.25MHz CDMA EV-DO channel for every viewer. MobiTV is also trialing a tv service using a mobile WiMAX network that will span a number of Northern California cities. Live HDTV delivered over a Navini pre-mobile WiMAX network has been demonstrated, too.

But portable devices need power conservation. That’s what DVB-H does. If Sprint and Clearwire have the bandwidth, perhaps there’s nothing to stop them from dedicating a slice to multicasting in DVB-H.

By dedicating (another) 6 MHz of bandwidth (for mobile television), perhaps WiMAX operators could deliver both local channels and premium channels at 640×480 (using MPEG-4 AVC). Pick it up on a WiMAX-enabled Zune or iPod. Mobile MTV.

MobileTV News, TV Phones and the MobileTV Blog have more.

ZUNE: $249

Microsoft announced today that their Zune digital media player and online service will be available on Nov. 14, 2006 for $249.99 to consumers in the U.S.

The $249.99, 30GB digital media player will be available in black, brown and white and features:

  • Wireless functionality with Zune-to-Zune sharing of music, pictures and home recordings.
  • A bright, three-inch LCD video screen that works in portrait or landscape mode to view pictures and videos.
  • A built-in FM tuner.

A selection of preloaded content including songs, music videos and film shorts are installed on the device’s hard drive. A Zune Pass subscription gives consumers access to millions of songs for $14.99 per month.