Basetrack: iPhone Goes to War

A group called Basetrack (team) provides some unusual coverage of the war in Afghanistan. The group, funded by the Knight Foundation uses social media and other online tools to bring the war home to America.

Basetrack covers the 1st Battalion, Eighth Marines in Helmand province. It uses WordPress in an innovative way and integrates closely with Facebook and tracks an interesting subject in a unique way.

An example was Basetrack’s use of iPhones to photograph the war. Photographer Rita Leistner blogged for The World about scaling down from her top-of-the-line gear to her cell phone. Here’s the on-line glossy magazine version.

VII Magazine is another innovative online project that will give readers unprecedented intimate access and insight to the work of the world’s leading photojournalists. VII Photo represents 29 photojournalists working at the forefront news industry.

Year of the tablet.

D-Block Gets a Hearing

Expressing concern about use of past federal investments of spectrum and money for public-safety communications, members of a key House subcommittee last week questioned whether proposals to reallocate the 700 MHz D Block would alleviate problems that exist today, reports Urgent Communications.

Multiple bills in the Senate and House call for the D Block to be reallocated to public safety. It’s currently slated to be auctioned to commercial operators.

Under current law an operator who buys D-Block spectrum would have to build LTE networks that provide first responders with mobile access as well as consumers (backgrounder pdf).

All members of the House Communications and Technology subcommittee acknowledged the need for interoperable broadband networks, but some raised doubts whether reallocating the D Block to public safety would fix the problem.

“We have provided public safety with nearly 100 MHz of spectrum for their exclusive use,” subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) said during last week’s hearing (pdf). “Given that fact, it’s strange to me that the debate on public-safety communications has been so focused on the 700 MHz D Block.”

Among the issues the subcommittee was addressing (pdf):

  • Why do we still not have voice interoperability for public safety?
  • How have the $13 billion and 100 MHz been used? What worked, what didn’t, and why?
  • How can public safety make the most of the approximately 80 MHz of spectrum it has outside the 700 MHz band?
  • Is the 10 MHz that public safety plans to use for broadband out of the 24 MHz cleared by the DTV legislation enough to meet public safety’s broadband needs in the short term?
  • How soon could public safety migrate from narrowband to broadband on the rest of the 24 MHz and how soon will public-safety grade VoIP service be available?
  • How long will it take to build the broadband network?
  • How much will construction of the broadband network cost? How much will operation and maintenance cost?
  • Who should hold the spectrum licenses and operate the network: public safety, a not-for-profit corporation, local government, the federal government, or commercial entities?
  • Should excess capacity be leased for commercial purposes?
  • Should the revenue go into funding the network or back to the U.S. Treasury?
  • Why have public safety radios lagged behind commercial devices?
  • How can public safety reap the benefits of the commercial sector?

Fire Chief Jeff Johnson, chief executive of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and immediate past president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, represented the Public Safety Alliance on the panel (pdf). He said the issue has been the “thin slices of spectrum” public safety has received over 50 years.

“That is why, today, we have over 55,000 public safety agencies each operating [their] own mission-critical radio system over six or more different radio bands.” He noted that the current spectrum allocation for public safety cited by lawmakers is somewhat misleading, because 50 of the 96 MHz for first responders is in the 4.9 GHz band, which lacks the propagation characteristics to be used for affordable wide-area broadband networks.

Some members of the committee expressed support for Senate legislation introduced by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) that would reallocate the D Block to public safety and would authorize the FCC to conduct incentive auctions, the proceeds of which would be used to pay for the public-safety LTE networks being deployed.

Walden noted that public safety recently received 24 MHz of 700 MHz airwaves, which have been “woefully underutilized,” as half the airwaves are being used to support narrowband LMR networks. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) cited a report that indicates Congress has appropriated about $13 billion in funding for public safety during the past decade.

“If you’re not using the 24 MHz efficiently, why would we give you 10 more? It doesn’t make sense to me. If $13 billion hasn’t solved the problem, then what will,” asked Terry.

The Mobile Offender Recognition and Identification System (MORIS) is an iPhone app combining facial-recognition, iris biometrics and fingerprint-scanning technologies for police. It scans a high-resolution image of the iris and uses infrared illumination to reduce reflection. For the face, the app analyzes the unique distances and dimensions between a person’s facial features and can use an attachable iPhone accessory to scan a suspect’s fingerprints.

Public safety advocates say the “D-Block” doesn’t have a guard band to isolate the dedicated public safety broadband block, and it merges better with their 700 MHz broadband segment to create a wider channel. Public service users typically have more powerful handheld radios that connect to fewer towers. That makes melding commercial and public service users tricky. Motorola, which got out of the cellular equipment business and owns perhaps 80% of the public service radio business, likes the idea of more spectrum dedicated to public safety. They’ll likely supply most of the radios.

The FCC and some in Congress have expressed a strong believe that having commercial operators pay for and build mil-spec towers makes more sense. They say it would deliver more broadband to more places and to more people at less cost. Public safety would have priority access to all of if.

Related stories on DailyWireless include; National Wireless Initiative, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire, State of the Spectrum, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, Charlie’s Big Play, Phoney Spectrum Crisis?, Oregon’s $600M Public Safety Network Likely Killed, Oregon’s Public Service Network: $100M Over Budget, Bay Area 700 MHz Net in Altercation , SF Announces LTE First Responder Net, New York Cancels Statewide Wireless Network, M/A-COM to NY: We’re Good, FCC: Interoperability on 700 MHz Band, Riot in D Block,AT&T Talks Up LTE AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum, Combining AWS and 700 MHz: Why?, Cox Communciations: Out of Cellular Operations, Free Mobile Development for Cities & Governments, U.S. Wireless Growth, T-Mobile’s Secret Sauce: 2x10MHz, FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement,

Cyber War: The New Frontier

The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war. That opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force, for the first time, reports Siobhan Gorman of the Wall Street Journal.

The Pentagon’s first formal cyber strategy, unclassified portions of which are expected to become public next month, represents an early attempt to grapple with a changing world in which a hacker could pose as significant a threat to U.S. nuclear reactors, subways or pipelines as a hostile country’s military.

In part, the Pentagon intends its plan as a warning to potential adversaries of the consequences of attacking the U.S. in this way. “If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.

Recent attacks on the Pentagon’s own systems—as well as the sabotaging of Iran’s nuclear program via the Stuxnet computer worm—have given new urgency to U.S. efforts to develop a more formalized approach to cyber attacks. A key moment occurred in 2008, when at least one U.S. military computer system was penetrated, says the WSJ.

Last week Lockheed Martin acknowledged that it had been the victim of an infiltration, while playing down its impact. But eight days after the “significant and tenacious” May 21 attack was detected and countered, Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed was still working around the clock to restore employee access to the network, according to Sondra Barbour, the company’s chief information officer.

The U.K. Government is developing a “toolbox” of Internet cyber-weapons that could be used to attack other countries, Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said in an admission that the military now treats the Internet as a battlefield like any other.

In other news, Tupac is still alive and living in New Zealand.

Oh, wait. Nevermind.

Intel’s Roadmap Shrinks

Intel VP Sean Maloney today at Computex in Taiwan, that by the end of 2012, 40 percent of the consumer laptop market segment will be no-compromise “Ultrabooks”, with best-in-class performance in thin, elegant form factors.

During his opening keynote speech, Maloney described their Intel Core processor roadmap and reiterated Intel’s push to accelerate the pace of innovation for their Atom processor for netbooks, smartphones, tablets, and other companion devices.

Maloney described three key phases in the company’s strategy to accelerate this vision, which begins to unfold today with the company’s latest 2nd Generation Intel Core processors. Systems based on these chips will be available for the 2011 winter holiday shopping season and include the UX21, ASUS Ultrabook. ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih joined Maloney on stage to showcase the company’s new ultra-thin laptop based on the latest 2nd Generation Intel Core processor.

Maloney outlined the next generation Intel processor family codenamed “Ivy Bridge,” which is scheduled for availability in systems in the first half of 2012. Laptops based on “Ivy Bridge” will bring improved power efficiency and visual performance, using Intel’s 22 nanometer (nm) manufacturing technology that uses a revolutionary 3-D transistor design called Tri-Gate announced in May. Maloney also highlighted complementary USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt™ technologies which are part of Intel’s ongoing work to drive the PC platform forward.

Following “Ivy Bridge,” planned 2013 products codenamed “Haswell” are the third step toward achieving the Ultrabook. With “Haswell,” Intel will change the mainstream laptop thermal design point by reducing the microprocessor power to half of today’s design point.

Ivy Bridge processors, the shrink after the current Sandy Bridge laptop processors, aren’t expected to hit until March of 2012, and possibly into April.

Intel’s laptop Ivy Bridge will use 22nm next year, with the Haswell chip in 2013 the 22nm “tock”. Intel hopes to launch 14nm Atom chips by 2013.

Maloney highlighted key milestones and additional details on upcoming generations of Intel Atom processor-based platforms for tablets, netbooks and smartphones. The Atom processor will outpace Moore’s Law, accelerating from 32nm through 22nm to 14nm within 3 successive years.

The Atom line will be getting a die shrink every year, as opposed to every two, starting with the 32nm Cedar Trail. “Cedar Trail” is the first netbook platform based on Intel’s 32nm technology with new capabilities such as Intel Rapid Start which provides fast resume, Intel Wireless Display and PC Synch, which let users wirelessly update and synchronize documents across multiple devices. “Cedar Trail” will support leading operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, Google Chrome and MeeGo.

Maloney showcased more than 10 tablets, running on three different operating systems, that are available today based on the Intel Atom processor Z670. Intel says the platform has more than 35 design wins since its launch in April.

Maloney also discussed “Medfield,” Intel’s first purpose-built 32nm platform for smartphones and tablets. “Medfield” has been optimized for both low power and high performance. Intel showcased a “Medfield” design running Google Android 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) for the first time. In production later this year, the platform will enable sub-9mm designs that weigh less than 1.5 pounds for tablet designs in market the first half of 2012. It will support a range of operating systems including Android and MeeGo.

According to Maloney, one new Intel-based server is needed for roughly every additional 600 new smartphones or 122 new tablets connecting to the Internet. He also reiterated the company’s “Cloud 2015” vision of a world of interoperable “federated” clouds that allow enterprises to share data securely across public and private clouds.

Intel’s new D1X fab in Hillsboro, Oregon, will cost $3 billion, and when it opens in 2013, the factory will bake the semiconductor industry’s most advanced technology. It may also be ground zero for a fair amount of industrial espionage.

Apple Joins Amazon & Google with Cloud Music

Apple is kicking off its Worldwide Developers Conference next week with the unveiling of its cloud-based service, iCloud, says C/Net.

Apple said in a press release that it will detail its next-generation desktop operating system, Mac OS X Lion, as well as iOS 5, the next version of the mobile operating system running on its iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. CEO Steve Jobs, who is on an indefinite medical leave, is scheduled to participate in WWDC.

Apple stopped short of providing specifics about Cloud in this morning’s announcement. However, details have been leaking out, since Apple acquired online music-streaming service Lala a year and a half ago. Apple’s rumored cloud music service will have the ability to scan a user’s iTunes library and “mirror” it in the cloud, says a report from Businessweek.

This is in contrast to the cloud music lockers recently unveiled from Amazon and Google that physically copy a user’s library and puts it in the cloud.

In contrast, Amazon Cloud Drive, Dropbox and mSpot rely on capacity limits. Google may launch a tiered pricing model for even more songs, but it’s unclear if the company’s mulling a free option.

The disadvantage to those uploading approaches is that it typically takes hours to copy many gigabytes of music. It also doesn’t provide the opportunity to “upgrade” the songs to higher-quality versions, as Apple’s service will supposedly do.

High Throughput Satellite Goes Live

Eutelsat today announced the commercial entry into service of its KA-SAT High Throughput Satellite, marking the official launch of its new-generation Tooway broadband service.

The high-capacity all Ka-band system, opens a new chapter in the market for satellite-based IP services with the world’s most powerful spotbeam satellite. It delivers up to 10 Mbps for consumers, about ten times the speed of previous satellite internet solutions.

Europe’s broadband map shows that at least 13 million households are still beyond range of ADSL, and 17 million access the Internet at speeds below 2 Mbps, which closes the door to many media-rich applications that users today expect to use on a daily basis.

The USA will soon get a sister satellite, ViaSat-1. The ViaSat-1 launch was delayed until late this summer following a factory incident where a small amount of hydraulic fluid leaked onto the spacecraft.

Carlsbad, Calif.-based ViaSat’s WildBlue competes with Hughes’ HughesNet service in providing satellite broadband to consumers in the United States. Hughes will get their own high capacity satellite next year, called Jupiter.

Both ViaSat and Hughes are using Space Systems/Loral to manufacture their new satellites.

Hughes reported that as of March 31, its HughesNet consumer broadband service had 613,000 subscribers, a 6 percent increase from Dec. 31. Revenue per subscriber held steady at $75 per month.

Intelsat’s new Ku-band communications system, called New Dawn, is not so lucky. The spacecraft’s wireless communications and broadcasting payload remains sidelined by a stuck antenna, a company spokesperson said Thursday.

Built by Orbital Sciences, the Intelsat New Dawn project is valued at approximately $250 million. It carries 14 active C-band transponders and 16 Ku-band transponders to serve customers in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and Western Europe.

The company has not disclosed potential insurance claims or the financial implications of the C-band reflector anomaly, reports SpaceFlightNow. Intelsat New Dawn was built to replace capacity on the Galaxy 11 satellite, which Intelsat expects to continue operating until 2015. New Dawn was one of ten Orbital STAR GEO communications satellites ordered by Intelsat.

SingTel says the usage cost is going to come down for the 20,000 vessels that it currently supports with the advent of more advanced satellites, cheaper base stations and wider coverage. At present, each sea-faring vessel pays about US$3,000 to US$4,000 for unlimited broadband access per month. SingTel is looking at a market worth up to S$620 million when it launched its ST-2 satellite earlier this month from French Guiana. The ST-3 satellite will launch in 2013. There are now six satellites in orbit using Mitsubishi’s DS2000 standard satellite platform, said Hiroyuki Inahata, General Manager of Space Systems Division, Mitsubishi Electric.

Susan Irwin, President of Euroconsult USA, predicted robust growth in emerging markets for satellite broadcasting in the next decade.

“By 2019 we expect an additional 10,000 television channels will be delivered via satellite, largely thanks to growth in HD and additional DTH platforms,” she said.

Northern Sky Research predicts broadband access revenues to skyrocket to over $5 billion in 2020, a net gain of over $3.8 billion.

Use of High Throughput Satellites, like KASat, ViaSat-1 and Jupiter, will increase total capacity strongly within a few years, but the Ku band terminals will still dominate.

The move to “High Throughput Satellites” will be key to success in broadband access around the world, says Northern Sky.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Eutelsat + Russia Grow Satellite Neighborhood, Charlie’s Big Play, TerreStar Successfully Launched , Eutelsat Launches Ka Band Internet Satellite , Orbcomm’s Space-based AIS Fails, Global Satellite Distribution, EU Satellite Mobile TV: Angels and Demons, Hot Bird is Hot, O3B: Funded for Launch, SkyTerra 1 Launched, Broadband Satellites: Black Hole?, LightSquared: Phase 1, LightSquared: 5K Basestations by 2011, LightSquared Announces LTE Network,