Realtime Ferry Tracking

Ferry riders on Puget Sound can now use “Vessel Watch” to access real-time location of each ferry. Washington State Ferries spokeswoman Marta Coursey said the new site, was launched Feb. 4 and upgrades a previous version that allowed users only to see approximate locations on a static map, reports the Seattle PI.

“Users can zoom in to see highly detailed information about a vessel’s location, including latitude, longitude and direction,” Coursey told the PI. With ‘next departure time’ to be available “by the end of the month.”

“Users can also move the map to easily view other vessels and routes. We are working right now on providing the next departure time. Though a lot of the work on that particular feature is done, we still have testing to do,” Coursey said.

Mobile users have access to the older version of Vessel Watch. ESRI, the GIS vendor for the Vessel Watch base map, is working on a mobile version. “Our goal is to provide a similar version of VesselWatch to mobile users as soon as we can but we don’t have a delivery date on that feature yet,” Coursey said.

AIS tracks vessel movements in real-time. Near land it works by interrogating a VHF transceiver that incorporates LORAN-C or GPS location information, with a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicators.

All ocean-going vessels and commercial vessels over 65 feet are required to use AIS equipment by the International Maritime Organization. Space-based AIS provides global coverage of maritime activity, re-transmiting GPS coordinates, along with bearing and speed, every few minutes.

Here’s the real-time vessel traffic world-wide posted on MarineTraffic.com, a mashup which was developed and hosted by the University of the Aegean in Greece.

In related news, Amtrak has rolled out wireless Internet access on all 20 of its Acela Express trains between Washington and Boston.

The northeast corridor service will also cover six major stations along the route. The service is free for now, though the railroad says that policy will be reviewed after an introductory period.

AmtrakConnect was deployed on Acela Express by Virginia Beach-based GBS Group and its partner Nomad Digital.

Amtrak aggregates mobile-broadband signals from AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile to provide service on trains. Amtrak’s filter also blocked the Hulu and YouTube sites and even removed embedded video clips and some interactive ads.

Related Dailywireless stories include How to Create Transit Applications, Dubai WiMAXes Metro Train, Microsoft’s Streetside: Indoors via Stills & Video, Global Ship Tracking via Microsat, Shipboard AIS Gets a Satellite Swarm, LORAN-C To Be Shut Down, and BBC Tracks a Container,

Cebit: World’s Largest Computer Show

The world’s largest computer exhibition, Cebit (wikipedia), runs March 2 to March 6, in Hanover Germany.

It’s a big deal for computer professionals, although the number of companies appearing this year has dropped to 4,157, compared to about 4,292 last year, down 26% from 2008. Cebit is now focusing more on enterprise IT, says ComputerWorld.

Still, there will likely be enough new gadgets to keep everyone amused.

  • The Archos 7 (above), a scaled up version of the Archos 5, runs a custom UI on top of the Android OS. The Archos Phone Tablet will use a 1 GHz ARM Cortex on Android with a 4.3 inch screen. An Archos 9, with an Intel Atom processor, could dump Windows7 for the Chromium OS, says SlashGear.
  • Acer was the first to offer up an Android netbook and may do the same with Chrome OS. Chrome OS for netbooks hasn’t been officially unveiled yet but Acer is so confident about tis success that Jim Wong, president of the Acer IT Products division, thinks they’ll be able to sell over one million Chrome OS netbooks this year.
  • Asus will show three new netbooks at CeBIT, the Eee PC 1018P, 1016P and 1015P. They’re not convinced tablets will be a significant market. Garmin-Asus smartphones include the Nuvifone M10 (Windows) and the Nuvifone A50 (Android). It comes pre-loaded with Garmin turn-by-turn navigation — no need to download them over the network.
  • MSI plans to showcase about 30 notebook models as well as an e-book reader. Their GT660 gaming laptop, and the company’s CR720 and CR620, feature Intel Core i5 CPUs.
  • Mio Moov V780, a Personal Navigation Device, features a 7-inch screen, digital TV receiver, HD Movie player, Wi-Fi connectivity, email, web browser (including Flash), YouTube viewer and optional keyboard.

  • Nokia’s Ovi Maps are now free and work off-line, compared to Google’s Navigation which requires an internet connection. Most states are between 50 and 100 megs. Symbian 3 and 4 are expected in the first and second half of the year respectively. The Moorestown-powered LG GW990 will be one of the first MeeGo phones.
  • Netbooks, laptops and computers with 3D support will be on display from several vendors. MSI has a 3D all-in-one and plans to show its first notebook with 3D technology. It features a 15.6-inch, 120Hz 3D screen with glasses required to see the 3D effect.
  • Google will show off its Street View technology which hasn’t been launched in Germany because of privacy concerns. The company will give an update on how the privacy discussions are progressing. Google’s Nelson Mattos, who is in charge of product management and engineering in Europe, Middle East and Africa, will be speaking on the evolution of an open, social, mobile and transparent Web.
  • Amazon Web Service is using Cebit to up its European presence. Amazon is facing stiffer competition in Europe from a growing number of telecom operators that are looking to offer Web services, according to Milind Govekar, research vice president at Gartner. It will also look to forge closer relationships with large software vendors, a move that could also help it get more users in Europe, Govekar said.

Intel is expected to release a faster version of its “Pine Trail” Atom processor on Monday. The N470 ‘Pine Trail’ processor integrates graphics and bumps speed to 1.83GHz. Intel is reportedly on track to deliver a new “Moorestown” Atom chip targeted at high-end smartphones and mobile Internet devices by midyear. MeeGo and Windows 7 Mobile will likely be running on Smartphones by the end of this year.

Engadget has more Cebit news.

Coming Soon: Tablet Wars

Engadget says the new iLet Mini HAL will cost only $199 and start shipping next week.

The HAL uses Android 1.6 as its OS and has WiFi b/g, Ethernet and optional 3G through a USB dongle. It also supports ePub, TXT and HTML eBooks, AVI video, MP3 audio and JPG images as well as Word, Excel and Powerpoint files.

Features:

  • CPU: 600MHz VIA ARM with Freescale MX Integration
  • 7″ TFT LCD touch screen with resolution: 800*480
  • Supports MP3/Audio,AVI, Motion JPEG/Video, Word docs, Excel, Powerpoint, Youtube, games, and several eBook formats; ePub, text, and html
  • RAM: 128MB DDR2
  • 2GB NAND FLASH, Supports to 32GB Flash or 250GB USB
  • Ethernet 10/100M, WIFI:802.11B/G, 3G USB optional
  • Ports: SD card (support up to 32G HCSD), USB x 2, Stereo Audio out, Microphone in

Apple’s iPad costs between $500 to $830 and has not yet shipped. You can get 3G for $29.99/month with no contract. It lacks USB, SD Card, camera, Flash support or free navigation apps.

Android tablets may offer more hardware features at less cost:

  • Archos 5 Internet Table. Features a 4.8 inch, 800 x 480 pixel resistive touchscreen display, 32GB of storage, an 800MHz ARM Cortex-A8 CPU, 256MB of RAM, 802/11b/g/n WiFi, a USB port, and runs Android 1.6 plus some custom Archos software. Amazon has them now for under $300.
  • Dell’s Mini 5; Dell says there will be “a family of tablets” which will “scale up to a variety of sizes.” Android will be in all of them. Dell will bundle “inexpensive data plans” with the new devices and is apparently working with AT&T on the Mini 5. No release date, though.
  • Viewsonic VTablet 101. This Android-powered and keyboard-free device features a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor and NVIDIA Tegra graphics powering an 8.9-inch, 1024 x 800 touchscreen display. There’s 4GB of storage, WiFi, and Bluetooth, and once Google and Adobe bring Flash support to the Android operating system, it should be able to play HD Flash video from the web as well. Under $500. No ship date, though.
  • JooJoo’s $500 12 inch capacitive touch screen tablet has been delayed until March 25.

Gartner expects Android to grab the No. 2 spot by 2012, with an accumulated sales total of 525 million smartphones. They expect Symbian to be number one, with 196.5 million sold, 37.4% share; Android number two, with 94.5 million sold, 18% share; BlackBerry 3rd, 73 million sold, 13.9%; iPhone 4th, 71.5 million sold; 13.6% share; Windows Mobile 5th, 47.7 million sold, 9% share; and Maemo 6th, 23.5 million sold, 4.5% share. Others include Linux (generally), 11 million, 2.1% share; and WebOS (from Palm) 7.6 million sold, 1.4% share.

A $500 tablet is a niche. Mass-market advertising (and publishers) will require cheap color devices. To sell 100 million devices, prices must drop. Give me $199.

LTE Migration White Paper

In December 2009, TeliaSonera launched the world’s first LTE networks in Norway and Sweden and an estimated 17 operators are expected to follow in its footsteps in 2010.

A reported 130 cellular operators around the world expect to move to Long Term Evolution (LTE).

But how?

3G Americas, a wireless industry trade association representing the GSM family of technologies including LTE, today announced that it has published an informational white paper titled, GSM-UMTS Network Migration to LTE (pdf), that examines key steps for introducing LTE technology into existing GSM-UMTS networks.

“This white paper reveals solutions that facilitate a smooth migration for network operators as they deploy LTE,” stated Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas. “3GPP has clearly defined the technology standards in Release 9 and Release 10, and this paper explores the implementation of these standards on 3GPP networks.”

Related Dailywireless articles include; MWC 2010: Really, Really Big Show, LTE: Roaming Three Bands, Verizon Calls on LTE, LTE Marketing Ramps Up, Sweden Tests LTE, Verizon LTE: 30 US Markets by 2010, T-Mobile: Faster HSPA Now, Samsung: Handsets. Get Your 4G Handsets., MetroPCS Goes LTE: It’s a Free For All, Verizon Updates 700MHz LTE Specs, Voice over LTE Gets a Spec: VoLGA, Nordic-based Telenor Rejects Ericsson & Nokia Gear, Solutions Promoted for Voice over LTE, Finland Completes 4G Auction, Kineto Wireless: Two Fer Voice over LTE, One Voice: New Voice Standard for LTE, LTE-Advanced Submitted to ITU, Mobile Supercomputing , China Mobile: TD-SCDMA to Penetrate 70% of Country, Huawei: Clear Sailing on WiMAX?, and Mobile World Congress: HSPA, WiMAX & LTE Faceoff, Clearwire in Portland, Clearwire’s Launch Party in Portland, WiMAX Speed Test in Portland – 10 Mbps, Clear Launches Mobile WiMAX in Las Vegas, Atlanta Gets Mobile WiMAX, Xohm Marks the Spot

D-Block: It’s Done; Congress Pays

The FCC today recommended a plan for a public/private partnership public-safety network, though the partnership is different than the one the FCC pursued in the failed 700 MHz D Block auction two years ago, notes Urgent Communications.

Two years ago, a segment of the 700 MHz frequency band, the “D Block”, failed to attain the $1.3 billion minimum price. The original plan was to combine 10 MHz of public service radio frequencies and 12 Mhz of commercial cellular service into a new joint public/private partnership, available to both parties. But the requirements of 24/7, ubiquitous radio coverage turned out to be too onerous for potential bidders.

Bids fell short of the FCC’s $1.3 billion minimum price. That auction was “doomed to fail” because it placed huge financial risks on bidders, a Verizon Wireless executive told Congress.

The new national broadband plan will recommend that Congress allocate between $12 billion and $16 billion over 10 years for a grant program that would allow public safety to build out. Like the old plan, it will combine 10 MHz of spectrum licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) in concert with commercial carriers’ LTE deployments.

The plan calls for the D Block winner and other commercial carriers operating in the 700 MHz band — most notably, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility, which dominated the 700 MHz auction conducted two years ago — to deploy LTE networks and provide roaming and priority access to public-safety users.

By deciding what to do with the D-Block, the FCC can move forward with building a nationwide wireless communications system for police, ambulances and firefighters, as well as U.S. and state agencies who deal with disasters and emergencies, says Reuters.

“Rather than solely focusing on just the D Block … public safety isn’t limited to 10 or even 20 MHz of spectrum, but could have access to as much as 80 MHz under these arrangements,” Genachowski said.

Jamie Barnett, chief of the FCC Public Safety & Homeland Security Bureau, said the plan is to also allow public safety workers access to the entire 700 megahertz band when necessary (pdf):


If public safety has the ability to roam and obtain priority access on commercial networks, it can roam on commercial networks in areas where public safety’s own network facilities have not yet been built or are otherwise unavailable. And priority access provides a means for public safety to use additional spectrum capacity in addition to its own dedicated spectrum.

This could be critical in times of emergency, when public safety entities may want to shift non-emergency traffic to other networks in order to reserve their own network and dedicated spectrum for mission-critical communications.

“The private sector simply is not going to build a nationwide, state-of-the-art, interoperable broadband network for public safety on its own dime,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said at a briefing with reporters.

It could also save Oregon taxpayers some $414 million building an already “obsolete”, non-broadband, non-LTE compatible radio network, dedicated only to first responders. Currently Oregon plans on spending more than $400 million of taxpayer money to build a state-wide, 700 MHz radio network for first responders.

Oregon’s Wireless Interoperability Network (above) expected State Government to pay $500M to build their network and the Feds to buy them P-25 radios (with essentially no map, photo or data capabilities).

The Oregon Legislature, in the just-completed Special Session, approved two measures supporting the (OWIN) project. “OWIN has $8 million of operating money and with the acquisition of a QA contractor on the horizon, OWIN will soon have the construction and radio funds scheduled for expenditure,” said OWIN Director Lindsay Ball. Cameron Smith, of Governor Ted Kulongoski’s office, told the OWIN Project Steering Committee, “This agreement was very collaborative in nature. It comes from a commitment to keep the OWIN project going.” OWIN’s List Serve has more.

APCO wants the “D Block” to use LTE, but wants the federal government to give them the frequencies. APCO wants the “D Block” removed from the auction. Police chiefs, sheriffs, and fire chiefs pitched their reasoning to reporters this January (C-Span video). First responders say they need all the spectrum they can get — and they need to build their own dedicated, nationwide network to deliver it.

The FCC, in contrast, wants to auction of the D Block spectrum. The FCC’s plan would enable public-safety roaming across all 700 MHz cellular services. The FCC recommended between $12 billion and $16 billion be authorized in federal funding to pay for this (joint) public/private first-responder broadband wireless network. LTE infrastructure comes from cellular providers. Like consumers, first responders get broadband access when they need it, and they get funding for their dedicated radio network.

Wireless Priority Service (WPS) delivers priority calling on cellular networks using an access code. Emergency calls gets priority access on congested cell towers.

The FCC wants a shared public/private partnership, using WPS as the mechanism to enable broadband for first responders. That approach would bring broadband to more citizens across the United States and lower costs for everyone.

Many other states, such as New York, had a similar dilemma in providing public service communications state-wide. New York eventually killed their $2B state-wide public service network.

U.S. public safety agencies support LTE technology for a proposed nationwide public safety network on the 700 MHz radio band. Washington, D.C. will test the 700 MHz broadband network licensed to the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) this summer, if vendors have equipment ready by then.

“To achieve the goal of national interoperability, we need to deploy a single technology everywhere, and public safety has identified Long Term Evolution (LTE) as that technology,” said Bryan Sivak, the District’s chief technology officer.

Public safety workers have already been allocated one-eighth of the 700 megahertz band of the spectrum. That portion could be developed under a public-private partnership. The LTE spectrum would add priority access (as needed for public safety users) with cellular broadband as well as programmable push-to-talk call groups.

Genachowski said the plan includes creating an Emergency Response Interoperability Center at the FCC to establish better communications among the array of emergency workers, including hospitals.

Plans to auction the airwaves and establish an emergency network will be part of recommendations to be made in the National Broadband Plan the FCC will release next month.

The plan will also propose reallocating spectrum, including some held by broadcasters, to wireless companies anticipating a shortage, as more Americans surf the Internet on their mobile devices.

The aim of the national blueprint, which is expected to make short- and long-term recommendations, is to help all Americans get access to broadband and establish very fast Internet speeds in most American households by 2020.

Related 700 MHz articles on Dailywireless include; Battle for Oregon’s State-wide Radio Net, Oregon’s $500 Million Statewide Wireless Network, Cascadia Peril, Commentary: Future of Public Safety Communications, New York Cancels Statewide Wireless Network, New York’s $2B Statewide Network Close to Canceling, M/A-COM to NY: We’re Good, NY Gives Tyco 45 days to Fix Network, NY State’s Public Service Net: Failure?, NY State’s Wireless Net Broken?, New York State’s $1B Wireless Net, FCC: What’s Wrong with 700MHz Public Service?, Senate Testimony on 700MHz Sharing, Public Safety: We Like 700MHz Public/Private Plan, Hearings on 700MHz Auction, TerreStar Roams with AT&T, Skyterra/MSV Get $500M, MSS: Battle Space, Verizon: LTE in 25 to 30 Markets By 2010,Sustainable Free Wi-Fi, Battle of the Bands Goes to Congress, Hearings on 700MHz Auction, AT&T/TerreStar: Dual-mode Satphone, APCO Celebrates 75th Annual Conference, 700MHz: Money Talks, Reed Hundt Talks, FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement, Frontline: Out of Business, Google’s 700 MHz Plans, AT&T “Open” to 700MHz — Not, AWS Auction: It’s Done!, RUS Funding for 700 MHz, Rural Broadband Gets A Plan, Cyren Call Proposes Joint Commecial/Muni for 700Mhz, 700 MHz Scenarios, AT&T Buys 700MHz from Aloha, Google Android hits G-Spot, Google’s 700 MHz Plans, Cyren Call to Manage Public Safety Spectrum, Android Developer Challenge — $10M, Oregon’s $500 Million Statewide Wireless Network, General Dynamics Wins IWN Contract, Joint Commecial/Muni Proposed for 700Mhz, Small Ops Squeezed Out of 700MHz?, The Smartest Guy in the Room, 700 Mhz Worth $28B, The 700 Mhz Club.

Sirius XM: Doing Okay

Sirius XM Radio (wikipedia) has posted its first quarterly profit since its merger and said it expects to add 500,000 new subscribers in 2010 with the recovery in the car market boosting demand for satellite radio.

The results suggest that the company, run by media industry veteran Mel Karmazin, has solidified and is set to grow. Just a year ago, it flirted with bankruptcy as it faced a hefty debt load and weak auto sales.

Sirius shares, which have risen more than 20-fold from a year ago when it traded as low as 5 cents a share, were at $1.07 on Thursday afternoon. Analysts and investors are re-evaluating shares of Sirius, whose market capitalization is now about $4.2 billion.

Born of the 2008 merger that united rivals Sirius Satellite Radio and XM Satellite Radio, Sirius XM has been resurgent after receiving a life-saving loan in February 2009 from Liberty Media. The transaction bought Liberty head John Malone a 40 percent equity stake in Sirius XM.

The merger brought the combined companies a total of more than 18.5 million subscribers based on current subscriber numbers on the date of merging, and the company finished 2009 with 18,772,758 subs.

Sirius XM battles competition from (free) digital terrestrial radio, portable media players, and Internet radio, such as Pandora and Slacker that also offer customized on-line listening on various handheld devices, including the iPhone, Android and Blackberry.

Related Satellite Radio articles on Dailywireless include; Pandora Vrs Dog Star, White Knight for Satellite Radio, Satellite Radio: The End Near?, XM Gets Sirius, PBS Switches to AMC-21 Satellite, Satellite Radio: Terrestrial Receivers or Not?, Clear Channel Traffic Network on HD Radio, and FCC Approves Satellite Radio Merger.