Open Source Tricorder

That $10 million Tricorder X-Prize from Qualcomm, to create an instrument similar to the ones used on Star Trek, got a step closer today, when Dr. Peter Jansen released the designs for his Mk 2 Tricorder, making all the specifics open source.

Dr. Jansen’s Mark 2 runs on Linux. The hardware includes an ARM Atmel microcontroller squeezed into a clam-shell with two OLED touchscreens. Schematics, board layouts, and the firmware is all available free and includes the initial proof-of-concept device.

The tricorders need six AAA to run and include sensors for temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, ambient light, distance and even magnetic fields. Dr. Jansen’s hope is to make scientists out of everyone.

The Tricorder X-Prize aims to bring a diverse array of inexpensive sensors together in an accessible, easy to use, handheld design. On Jan 12, 2012, the contest was officially opened at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Early entrants to the competition include Silicon Valley startups Scanadu and Senstore.

Wikidata, a machine-readable, user-editable database is Wikipedia’s Next Big Thing, says TechCrunch. The project has been funded By Google, Paul Allen and others.

Ward Cunningham, who developed the first wiki is the chief technology officer for CitizenGlobal, a place where people can create stories together using photos, video, and music. Cunningham is Nike’s first Code for a Better World Fellow.

Ward Cunningham’s goal is to do for data what Wikipedia did for text – enabling the sharing and collaboration of data.

Ward’s latest project is to publish field data from the Nike Community Garden as part of his work on the “Smallest Federated Wiki” (project videos). Russell Senior, President of Portland’s PersonalTelco, helped by providing WiFi connections to garden sensors. Here’s his installation with the garden in the distance.

Ward shows an Arduino micro controller collecting data from various sensors and publishing it as a federated wiki page.

T-Mobile USA to Sell Towers?

T-Mobile USA has hired advisers to help it sell its wireless towers, Bloomberg reported today.

After the merger with AT&T went belly up, Deutsche Telekom halted its plan to sell its tower assets last year. T-Mobile owns more than 7,000 wireless towers.

A sale is seen generating as much as $3 billion a year for T-Mobile, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Philip Cusick.

T-Mobile is spending $4 billion to improve its current service and deploy its 4G LTE network by next year. Much of the funds come from a break-up fee that AT&T had to pay T-Mobile for scrapping their planned merger, but more cash is likely needed in order for the business to run on its own with investment from its parent. Last week, T-Mobile said it would cut a net 1,900 jobs after shutting down seven call centers as it looks to continue cutting expenses.

But if T-Mobile is deploying a new LTE network, it will need towers. Perhaps that implies co-location with Sprint-Nextel is more likely. If T-Mobile should move its assets to Sprint towers, that also implies that Dish Networks will need a home. AT&T and Sprint towers might then be leading contenders for hosting Dish’s terrestrial network, which would use the 2.1 GHz (MSS) spectrum (near T-Mobile’s AWS band).

At the Rural Cellular Association spring expo in Orlando today, Cricket Wireless, the nation’s sixth-largest wireless carrier, called for smaller carriers to band together and share spectrum to offer better service. RCA members include nearly every carrier in the U.S. except AT&T and Verizon.

Sprint said it will have six LTE markets up by mid-year, far less than either AT&T or Verizon Wireless. “The duopolists are out there deploying their LTE networks, and we’re working really hard to compete with them,” Bob Azzi, Sprint’s SVP of network, said in his opening keynote, streamed live by RCR Wireless.

Sprint CFO Joseph Euteneuer told investors this week that Sprint might consider buying spectrum from Dish or signing a spectrum-hosting deal which would allow Dish to offer wireless services via a combination of Sprint’s network and the 40 MHz of S-band spectrum that Dish holds, reports Fierce Wireless. Sprint’s Network Vision program unifies its many networks and offers an opportunity for Sprint to host other carriers on its cell sites.

Wireless Estimator and National Association of Tower Erectors have more tower stats.

ISPs Adopt Cyber Security Recommendations

Cybersecurity advisor Richard Clarke is warning the U.S. that its major companies are being regularly infiltrated by Chinese hackers employed by the Chinese government to steal R&D.

Clarke said during an interview with the Smithsonian. “Every major company in the United States has already been penetrated by China. My greatest fear is that, rather than having a cyber-Pearl Harbor event, we will instead have this death of a thousand cuts. Where we lose our competitiveness by having all of our research and development stolen by the Chinese.

“The U.S. government is involved in espionage against other governments,” he says flatly. “There’s a big difference, however, between the kind of cyberespionage the United States government does and China. The U.S. government doesn’t hack its way into Airbus and give Airbus the secrets to Boeing [many believe that Chinese hackers gave Boeing secrets to Airbus]. We don’t hack our way into a Chinese computer company like Huawei and provide the secrets of Huawei technology to their American competitor Cisco. We don’t do that.”

“I think it’s pretty clear that the United States government did the Stuxnet attack,” said Clarke in the Smithsonian interview.

In a TED Talk recorded in February 2011, a security expert stated that, “The leading force behind Stuxnet is the cyber superpower – there is only one; and that’s the United States.”

Clarke is promoting his recent book, Cyber War.

In related news, the FCC’s Communications, Security, Reliability, and Interoperability Council (CSRIC) unanimously approved the recommendations for the nation’s largest ISPs including AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Sprint, Time Warner Cable, T-Mobile, Verizon, among others, to adopt cyber-security recomendations that address attacks on the Domain Name System (DNS), and Internet route hijacking. CSRIC’s mission is to provide security recommendations to the FCC.

Specifically, the advisory committee endorsed industry-based recommendations in each of these three areas,

  • Anti-Bot Code of Conduct — To reduce the threat of botnets in residential networks, CSRIC recommended a voluntary U.S. Anti-Bot Code of Conduct for Internet Service Providers (Anti-Bot Code). Under the Anti-Bot Code, ISPs agree to educate consumers about the botnet threat, take steps to detect botnet activity on their networks, make consumers aware of botnet infections on their computers, offer assistance to consumers whose computers are infected and collaborate with other service providers that have also adopted the Anti-Bot Code.
  • DNS Best Practices — CSRIC recommended that ISPs implement best practices to better secure the Domain Name System by using DNSSEC, a set of secure protocol extensions that prevent such fraudulent activity. This recommendation is a significant first step toward full DNSSEC implementation by ISPs and will allow users, with software applications like browsers, to validate that the destination they are trying to reach is authentic and not a spoofed website.
  • IP Route Hijacking Industry Framework — CSRIC recommended an industry framework to prevent Internet route hijacking, which is the erroneous routing of Internet traffic through potentially untrustworthy networks. CSRIC recommended that ISPs work to implement new technologies and practices to reduce the number of these events, thereby ensuring that users in the U.S. can be more confident that their Internet traffic will not be exposed to scrutiny by other networks, foreign or domestic, through misrouting.

60 Minutes ran an interview this month with Michael Hayden, former chief of the NSA and CIA, on the Stuxnet virus. Hayden has publicly called for legislators to harness the power of the NSA in fighting cyberattacks, saying the NSA has the ability to fight the war, now it needs the authorization to unleash it.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Russians Not Controling Springfield Water Pumps, Dueling Cyber Security Bills, SCADA: How Big a Threat?, Stuxnet: Year One, Cyber War: The New Frontier, Satellite Hacked?, Chinese Telecoms Investigated As Security Threat, Wireless Providers Team on AMR and SmartGrid.

Huawei LTE 4×4: Goes to 250 Mbps

Chinese telecom giant, Huawei, says its demonstration of the the world’s first LTE 4×4 MIMO field trial attained download data rates of up to 250 Mbps.

The trial was conducted on Deutsche Telekom’s live 1.8GHz LTE network in Cologne, Germany, using Huawei’s SingleRAN LTE gear. Huawei says its Beyond LTE technology increases peak rates to 30 Gbps, more than 20 times faster than existing commercial LTE networks. Beyond LTE technology incorporates changes in antenna structure, radio frequency architecture, IF (intermediate frequency) algorithms, and multi-user MIMO (multi-input multi-output), reports Fierce Wireless.

According to recent data from 3GPP, Huawei has had 265 LTE/LTE-A Core specifications approved since 2010, which is 20 percent of the total number approved and the most out of any other company in the industry.

Huawei – the world’s second-biggest supplier of telecoms network equipment – this week found itself facing shutouts from both Australia and the US, over cyber security concerns.

Huawei was banned from supplying equipment to Australia’s National Broadband Network. The U.S. Congress barred Huawei from selling kit to any US operator, after blocking a sale to Sprint Nextel in 2010.

In the UK, BT reiterated its confidence in Huawei, and said that it was able to examine source code for products to check for “back doors” or eavesdropping functions.

Huawei earlier this week said it was disappointed at being excluded from work on Australia’s high-speed Internet project and rejected claims that the company posed a security risk.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Clearwire and China Mobile Announce TD-LTE Testing Plan, Sprint’s Network Vision Detailed, Clearwire Chooses LTE Advanced, China Mobile + Clearwire + Apple?, Dish LTE-Advanced Called “Ollo”, Will Sprint Go TD-LTE?, ITU: The “Official” 4G Standard Approved, WiMAX at 330 Mbps, Towards a REAL “4G” Standard, Unified “4G” Standard Proposed, WiMAX 2 Collaboration Initiative, IEEE Submits 802.16m to ITU for 4G, LTE-Advanced Submitted to ITU, MIMO: The Paper War, CTIA 2010, LTE-TDD & WiMAX: Two Peas in a Pod?, Blowback on 2.6 GHz, Towards a REAL “4G” Standard, Unified “4G” Standard Proposed, Japan Sub-channels WiMAX, Samsung WiMAXes MWC, Verizon: LTE in 25 to 30 Markets By 2010, Motorola Testing LTE in UK, Qualcomm: Our UMB Standard? Furgetaboutit.

UK White Space Trial: Some Unimpressed

Early feedback from British Telecom’s White Space trial (IEEE 802.22) on the Isle of Bute, left some unimpressed with its speed and performance. The pilot programme on the Isle of Bute involves a transmitter at a tiny exchange near the community of Kilchattan Bay, from which a broadband signal is transmitted to 10 homes participating in the trial.

In theory the 802.22 specification suggests that download speeds of up to 22Mbps per channel could be possible. Some UK trials claim to have reached around 16Mbps. But White Spaces use only a 6 MHz channel, not the 20 MHz channel common in WiFi, so speeds should be expected to be at least 1/3rd the speed. Similar to WiFi, performance drops off sharply with distance.

Separate reports from both PC Pro and the BBC today found that the service, which is complicated to deliver due to the ever changing spectrum and the risk of causing interference to DTV services, could struggle to deliver its top speeds.

According to PC Pro:


“BT said it could offer up to 4Mbits/sec as far as 6km from the transmitter. The highest speed we achieved on location was 6.2Mbits/sec – and that was in sight of the mast. A point 6km from the transmitter had much slower speeds; we saw a top speed of 1.5Mbits/sec at the time, but BT claimed it has regularly achieved speeds of 3.5Mbits/sec.” Chris Gibbs of BT’s Openreach said, “Although it has the same characteristics as copper – the further you go the worse the signal gets – it goes a bit further, and that’s the advantage.”

The BBC reports:

“After a few hitches, it seemed to work pretty well, with sound and video coming across then network. The speeds on offer, however, are far from spectacular. BT says it can deliver around 10Mbps or more, but at the moment it’s giving users download speeds of between 4 and 8Mbps.

My own tests showed the network delivering only around 3Mbps – but then the upload speeds were about the same, making video conferencing eminently feasible. During the trial, the available capacity is being tweaked between upload and download to see what works best for consumers.”

BT will expand it’s existing White Space trials in Cambridge, and on the Isle of Bute, by conducting a further trial in Cornwall.

“White Space” technology is also being tested in the United States. Rural users may benefit most from the promise of White Spaces transmission. It has a longer range than most phone-based DSL which poops out after 3 miles or so. It also travels further than WiFi or cellular signals, and may provide a lower cost alternative to satellite broadband. Multiple channels can be ganged together to increase speed and the number of simultaneous users.

Unlicensed white space radios would automatically find unused VHF/UHF spectrum and utilize it for multi-point communications, much like long distance Wi-Fi.

In other UK wireless broadband news, the chances of an early 4G rollout in the UK are receding, reports PC Pro, following Ofcom’s decision to give rival networks more time to respond to Everything Everywhere’s proposal to get a service running later this year.

The UK’s 4G auctions will include the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands. The spectrum auction is not expected to start until the end of this year, with services perhaps a year later. Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between T-Mobile and France Telecom, hopes to reuse its 2G spectrum for 4G services in the 1,800MHz range.

The UK government aims to raise £5 billion ($8 billion) from their forthcoming spectrum auction. The UK will auction 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz for the equivalent of three quarters of the mobile spectrum that is in use today. Ofcom has delayed the auction to Q4 2012 at the earliest, with a strong likelihood of the auction being delayed until 2013. The government says they are committed to providing universal access to broadband throughout the UK, with at least 90 per cent of the population covered by broadband by 2015 (Google Map).

Telcordia and Spectrum Bridge are part of a group of 10 that the FCC conditionally approved to provide white-space database management services.

Related Dailywireless articles include; UK Broadband: TD-LTE at 3.5GHz , 02: Olympic WiFi Cloud, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction, IEEE to Enhance White Space Standard, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, FCC Gets Unlicensed White Spaces in Payroll Tax Bill, White Space Show Down, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed, Microsoft Announced Narrow Channel Whitespace, FCC Authorizes White Space Service in Wilmington, White Space Legislation Goes Dark, White Space War, Bills to Kill Unlicensed White Space?, White Space Trial Completed, White Space Trialed, Huawei to Trial White Space TD-LTE, NTIA “Finds” 1.5 GHz of Federal Spectrum, UK Delays 4G Auction Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction,

Worldwide Connected Devices Forecast

Nearly 1 billion “smart devices” were shipped in 2011, says IDC. The firm expects shipments of these devices to grow to 1.1 billion this year, and reach 1.84 billion units by 2016.

In 2011, Windows PCs running on any x86-compatible CPU had a 35.9% market share, while Android on ARM CPUs had a 29.4% share and iOS a 14.6% share.

By 2016, Android-based devices running on ARM CPUs are estimated to reach a 31.1% share – more than either iOS or Windows (x86), says IDC. By 2016, IDC estimates iOS will have a 17.3% market share, Android 31.1% with Windows dropping to 25.1%.

A separate report from Nielsen, finds that half of U.S. mobile subscribers now own smartphones.