Sprint: Money Back Guarantee

Sprint Nextel announced today that it has expanded its 30-day money-back guarantee.

Like other major carriers, Sprint will waive an early termination fee and reimburse device costs associated with an unhappy customer in the first month.

But, starting Thursday, it will also waiving other fees that some companies keep when a customer walks during that first month of service.

This includes the device purchase and activation fees, the latter still being collected by some carriers after a few days, according to Sprint’s comparison of policies.

Cisco Routers Simplify Security

Today, Cisco announced two new 802.11n wireless router lines that aim to make home wireless networking easier and more accessible.

The Cisco Valet series includes:

  • The Cisco Valet ($100) is intended to simplify wireless networking. Instead of configuring a few dozen settings through a Web-based interface, you can use the Cisco Connect software on the included Easy Setup Key USB flash drive. Cisco says you can create a secure Internet access connection within five minutes. Once your network is up, plug the Easy Setup Key into each additional PC to configure them –no control panels or complicated passwords necessary.
  • The Cisco Valet Plus ($150) gets you the same functionality as the Valet, plus 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports (instead of the Valet’s 10/100 Ethernet ports) and an extra antenna for better wireless coverage. The Valet product line also includes the Valet Connector ($70), a USB Wi-Fi dongle for older PCs that don’t have Wi-Fi networking capability already.
  • The Valet Connector ($79.99) is a WiFi client that slips into the USB Port of your device that supports 802.11n with a 2 x 2 MIMO antenna.

Cisco also introduced the Linksys E-Series, which basically consists of several of the same devices, but without the simplification in setup. The E-Series devices are $10 to $30 cheaper than their Cisco Valet counterparts. The Cisco’s Linksys E-Series includes:

  • The Linksys E3000 ($179.99), allows simultaneous dual-band operation, Gigabit Ethernet Ports, and a USB port for centralized file sharing with built-in UPnP AV media server.
  • The E2100L ($120), a wireless router that includes the USB port and UPnP features of the E3000 but only has 10/100 Ethernet. Unlike the other new Linksys models, the E2100L is advertised as “utilizing the Linux Operating System for flexibility to customize the network”. Linksys routers have long been popular with homebrew router firmware developers, and it’s likely that the E2100L will allow software customization.
  • Linksys-branded USB adapter ($70) for PCs which don’t have 802.11n functionality. The Linksys AE1000 High Performance USB Adapter includes dual-band support as well as a USB extension cable to make it easier to move the antenna to a spot with a strong signal without having to move the whole laptop.

Both the new Valet and Linksys routers are available immediately.

Free WiFi on NM Communter Trains

AzulStar today announced the completion of a WiMAX rail network to provide high speed Internet services aboard New Mexico’s RailRunner Train System. The network, one of the first of its kind on a rail transit system, provides high speed Internet access for commuters while on the train and supports a variety of on train system operations.

The RailRunner high speed train is a new service for New Mexico commuters. It runs 95 miles from Belen to Santa Fe with multiple stops in Albuquerque and Bernalillo. The New Mexico Department of Transportation will offer passengers free public wireless internet in all trains along the entire route and at all 15 stations to assist with the state goals to improve traffic congestion and make public transportation services more attractive.

AzulStar says extensive field trials have been performed on the system, with passenger service expected to begin within the next few weeks.”

New Mexico D.O.T. awarded the $2.7M contract to the team of AzulStar and INX (pdf), in March 2009 after a multi-year RFP process. The network utilizes WiMAX (802.16) technology for the connection to the train and Wi-Fi for passenger access within the train and at the stations. The network provides speeds up to 6Mbps download and 4Mbps upload on the train moving at speeds up to 90mph and can accommodate over 1000 simultaneous users.

AzulStar, which already has a presence in New Mexico, deployed twenty-two WIMAX base stations along the 95-mile route. Hardware for the high performance network was provided by Alvarion, Dragonwave and Cisco Systems. Azulstar was one of the first companies to utilize 3.65 Ghz backhaul.

In addition to public broadband access, data-intensive rail applications such as: emergency phones, video displays in the trains and stations and video surveillance equipment are also provided.

Other successful AzulStar mobile intelligent transportation projects include:

  • WiFi/WiMAX Intelligent transportation network for New Mexico Highway 550 which coordinates signals and counts traffic in real time, transports live video from 25 traffic cameras and provides secure mobile access to New Mexico D.O.T. field personnel.
  • Mobile WiFi Network for Chrysler/Michigan D.O.T. in Auburn Hills which provides Wi-Fi and DSRC mobile access to over 1000 test vehicles.

Related Transit Connectivity articles on Dailywireless include; Proxim Unwires Indiana’s Statewide ITS Network and Amtrak WiFi Going National.

First Femto Plugfest

The Femto Forum, the independent association that supports femtocell deployment worldwide, today announced it has completed the world’s first femtocell plugfest. The plugfest process was organized in cooperation with ETSI (the European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and had widespread vendor support with over twenty companies participating.

A Femtocell is a small cellular base station, typically designed for use in a home or small business. It connects to the service provider’s network via broadband (such as DSL or cable); and typically support 2 to 4 active mobile phones in a residential setting, or 8 to 16 active mobile phones in an enterprise.

The companies involved were Ablaze Wireless, Acme Packet, Airvana, Alcatel-Lucent Telecom, Alpha Networks, Askey Computer Corporation, C&S Microwave, Cisco Systems Inc, Contela, Continuous Computing, Genband, Huawei, IntelliNet Technologies, ip.access, Kineto Wireless, NEC, Node-H, Nokia Siemens Networks, picoChip, Technicolor, TRaC Global and Ubiquisys.

Interoperability tests were conducted between femtocell network gateways, security gateways, femtocell access points and chipsets to verify 3GPP’s interface as defined in Release 8. 3GPP’s Release 8 femtocell standard was published in April 2009, and defines the secure interface between femtocell access points and femtocell gateways in the core network.

The Forum also commissioned a study to explore the business case for LTE & WiMAX femtocells. The study concluded that macro-offload network savings easily exceed the cost of the femtocell and that customer lifetime value also increases by 2 to 10 times in representative scenarios. A sample operator with 10 million LTE or WiMAX subscribers deploying femtocells to 10% of their base is able to realise a return on their incremental femtocell investment of more than 10 times.

UK femtocell firm Ubiquisys claims it has achieved a wholesale price below the $100 for the little 3G base stations.

Mapping the “Boom”

What would you do if you heard a giant boom and you didn’t know where it came from, asks Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb.

If you’re like thousands of people in Portland, Oregon, you might hit Twitter and Google Maps to participate in the city-wide exploration of a slightly frightening mystery. Last night at about 8 p.m., people in a big part of the city felt their windows shake and no one could tell them what caused it.

Reid Beels, a designer, geo-developer and one of the community organizers of Portland’s forthcoming conference Open Source Bridge, heard the boom and saw tweets streaming in within minutes. He searched Twitter for “boom” and “explosion,” limiting the results by location. Within five minutes, he says, a hashtag had emerged: #pdxboom.

He threw up a Google Map with instructions to put a pin in your location and describe how the boom sounded. Within an hour 100 people had placed pins on the map. Beels and developer Audrey Eschright came up with a color coded system to describe the intensity of the sound, and began retroactively coloring in pins based on any comments people left. Beels’ friend Aaron Parecki wrote a script to download the map’s data every fifteen minutes.

Investigators from the police bureau’s Explosives Disposal Unit discovered evidence of a large pipe bomb that had been detonated in Powers Marine Park, the following day. The map proved helpful in locating the source. The explosion, about 8:05 p.m. Sunday, set off car alarms and dozens of people called 9-1-1.

ReadWriteWeb says the developers were inspired by campaigns like CrisisCampPDX and the CrisisWiki, and want to set up an installation of open-source, crisis support software Ushahidi on standby in case a real crisis has to be dealt with.

Marshall Kirkpatrick is leading a webinar for Poynter’s News University on Thursday about how location services are changing the news.

Dailywireless has more on Haiti Communications and Nozzl: Local News Streaming Live.

Time Division LTE: Coming to the USA?

Industry momentum behind Time Division LTE continues to grow with news that a number of major operators and vendors are working with the 3GPP to allow the standard to be deployed in the USA, using the 2.6GHz spectrum band. Clearwire and its partners own the majority of that spectrum. Most of Clear’s 2.6 GHz spectrum goes unused.

Light Reading Mobile notes that China Mobile, Clearwire, Sprint Nextel, Motorola, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco Systems are asking for the 2.6GHz spectrum (2496MHz to 2690MHz) to be defined as a TDD band for LTE.

Outside the United States, part of the band (2570MHz to 2620MHz) is already specified for TDD. The new work will extend this compliance. The report adds that specifications for the US 2.6GHz band for TD-LTE is scheduled to be completed by March 2011.

Sprint and Clearwire may like the idea of TD-LTE because finding spectrum pairs for resale to cellular carriers could be problematic. Time Division LTE and WiMAX/WiMAX 2.0 might co-exist without stepping on each others spectrum.

The presence of Clearwire in the consortium of operators and vendors backing the US move indicates that the WiMAX service provider is keeping a very close eye on LTE.

Only last week the head of Clearwire called for greater integration between competing WiMAX and LTE standards. Clearwire is sitting on a spectrum bonanza. Selling or leasing spectrum for Time Division LTE makes good sense. It could also work with international TDD-LTE phones and devices that use the 2.6 GHz spectrum.

TD-LTE (the unpaired ‘version’ of the more common Frequency Division LTE), is in its infancy, but recent industry moves suggest it could become an important technology.

LTE pioneers TeliaSonera, NTT DoCoMo and Verizon Wireless, will all use different frequency bands for their respective LTE networks, explains TechWorld. So for roaming in the U.S, Japan and Europe to work, modems will have to support 700MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz, with more bands to be used in the future. That will be a challenge for roaming, says Light Reading.

Limited spectrum is the main problem with LTE in the 700 MHz band. There is also the issue of self-interference, limiting practical range and speed. AT&T and Verizon have a total of 20 MHz to work with. Clearwire has close to 150 MHz.

WiMAX advantages include data-centric Time Division channels (10 or 20 MHz wide), upgradability to WiMAX 2.0 with 100+ Mbps (and backward compatibility with Mobile WiMAX), unlicensed use in the 5 GHz and 3.65 GHz bands, and a more open infrastructure with a highly defined specification for plug and play compatibility between different vendors.

One of the biggest advantages of LTE (besides backing by cellular operators) is the Time Division variant. In a data-driven world, symmetrical pipes can be a waste of space. Compatibility with overseas TD-LTE devices on the “premier” 4G band – 2.6GHz – would also be a big plus for Clearwire.

Mobile data traffic from PC modems and routers is forecast to increase fourfold between 2010 and 2014, according to a new Research Brief from ABI Research

Related LTE stories on Dailywireless include; LTE-TDD & WiMAX: Two Peas in a Pod?, Indian 3g/4g Auction: Qualcomm Bidding TD-LTE, LTE Migration White Paper, LTE: Wait For ItBlowback on 2.6 GHz, LTE: Cox Cable Calling, LTE Phones to be Showcased at MWC, T-Mobile USA Merger? and Houston WiMAXed.