Google Nixes Neighborhood Wireless

Google has turned down a Kansas City, Kan., neighborhood’s plan to tap into Google’s fiber network and create a kind of Wi-Fi cooperative.

Michael Liimatta, co-founder of local nonprofit Connecting for Good, said Google told the groups involved that the idea wasn’t in line with planned licensing agreements for the new product, Google Fiber.

Google says the new service will deliver speeds of up to one gigabit per second, allowing for downloads about 100 times as fast as the national average and uploads 1,000 times as fast.

Google announced in spring 2011 that it was coming to this market, choosing Kansas City over more than 1,100 other communities that begged to be first. Since then, it has said very little about what it is bringing to town.

Connecting for Good partnered with the Rosedale Development Association on the plan to share those speeds among residents of the community, which has several low-income housing developments and no central library or community center.

Adieu Minitel

The French Minitel system, a precursor to the internet, will be shut down tomorrow.

When the French phone system was revamped in the 1980s, it required new phone numbers to all its citizens. Videotex services, it was said, would be cheaper than printing millions of new phone directories. The PTT rolled out Minitels throughout France in 1982.

The state-subsidized Minitels were in every household. A Teletext system sent the information over broadcast television channels (as Antiope teletext). By the mid 80s, France was far more interconnected than any other nation

The French government said the mass adoption would provide French leadership for the burgeoning, world-wide electronic information business, and establish a world-wide standard for it. Government-owned France Telecom monopolized access and only newspaper companies supplied any content.

The French Minitel system primarily competed with Videotex systems from Britan and Canada.

The British Videotext system, developed by the British PPT in 1977, had blockier, character-sized graphics, but could it be transmitted over television (as Prestel) or by telephone (as Viewdata).

In 1978, the Canadian Telidon system was developed, using vector graphics. All three standards were battling for a world-wide standard.

In 1984, at the CCITT’s Eighth Plenary Assembly, the committee officially approved the North American Presentation Level Propocal (NAPLPS) as one of three international standard protocols.

NAPLPS appeared on the Prodigy online service, AT&T sold a $600 terminal, and CBS began transmitting teletext (called ExtraVision) over the national CBS television network in 1986.

From its earliest days, videotext users could make online purchases, make train reservations, check stock prices, search the telephone directory, have a mail box, and even chat. But Videotex (optional “t”) was not a long distance service. There were no internet ISPs. There was no Internet.

Consumers used local dial-up service to connect to local databases. It downlinked at 1200 bit/s and uplinked at 75 bit/s. Fast for the time. Teletext systems used television to transmit 50-100 “pages” (hidden in the vertical interval) using a carousel of repeated information that the decoder could “grab”.

France Telecom will pull the plug Saturday. Some regret that the nation didn’t build on its technological lead, but most French folks will probably remember the boxes nostalgically, knowing that they beat the internet by almost 20 years, notes Engadget.

The iPhone: 5 Years

Five years ago today, the original iPhone went on sale in the United States on June 29, 2007.

The original iPhone had a 3.5-inch display with 160-pixels per inch, a 2-megapixel camera and was running a mobile operating system that would later be come to be known as iOS. Apple filed over 200 patents related the first iPhone.

“Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone,” said Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, when he unveiled the first iPhone at the Macworld Conference in San Francisco on January 9, 2007. It used AT&T’s 2.5G EDGE network and was unable to connect using their 3G services.

The iPhone’s killer feature tuned out to be the tightly controlled App Store, released a year later, on July 10, 2008, that made the iPhone a hit.

The App Store created a new economy and business model. Apple has paid more than $5 billion to developers, after taking a 30% cut off all app sales for itself. Today, there are more than 650,000 mobile apps available in the App Store, ranging from free to $1,000.

Apple has sold 250 million iPhone units to date, generating $150 billion in revenue for the company. The hotly anticipated iPhone 5, this September, is expected to be a “world phone”, working on China and India’s mobile networks and adding LTE.

It almost didn’t happen.

In 2007, developers had to pay carriers big bucks for entree into their exclusive “walled garden”. Text messaging was their cash cow.

Carriers had a closed shop.

AT&T and Verizon were the dominant participants in the 2007, 700 MHz auction for LTE spectrum. Google got a provision through the FCC that required carriers using the “C” block to provide “open access” to competing software and hardware on their network, if they paid a minimum of $4.7 billion for the “C” block.

Google’s press release stated:


“Google earlier this year helped ensure that regardless of which bidders win a key portion of the spectrum up for auction (the so-called “C Block”), they will be required to allow their users to download any software application they want on their mobile device, and to use any mobile devices they would like on that wireless network. The winner must ensure these rights for consumers if the reserve price of $4.6 billion for the C Block is met at auction. The winner must ensure these rights for consumers if the reserve price of $4.6 billion for the C Block is met at auction.”

AT&T and Verizon vehemently insisted that “open access” would ruin their business. AT&T paid through the nose to avoid “open access” provisions, paying way more for their B & C blocks then Verizon paid for their “C” Block in the upper 700 MHz band.

AT&T paid $6.6 billion to acquire 227 B Block licenses (12 MHz) during the FCC’s 700 MHz auction in 2008. Later, AT&T acquired Hiwire’s C block spectrum in a $2.5 billion deal and Qualcomm’s unpaired MediaFLO licences for $1.93 billion for 12MHz of the lower 700MHz D and E block.

Verizon paid nearly $10 Billion for blanket, nationwide coverage using 22 MHz of “C block” spectrum, which committed them to “open access”. Both carriers anticipated a “walled garden” of software services. To their credit, AT&T allowed Apple’s App Store to develop and grow.

App stores, run by Apple, Google, Amazon and others, turned out to be the Golden Goose, both for the carriers and for the United States economy and prestige.

The carriers didn’t have a clue.

Apple’s hardware and software vision – combined with Google’s “open access” philosophy – created an unstoppable force that has transformed the world.

Mobile Travel Apps

ComputerWorld lists 11 mobile apps to enhance your travel experience. They suggest that you plan ahead and download apps with offline guides, maps and other databases beforehand. Then you may not even need an Internet connection.

  • Airport Transit Guide (iOS). Provides information on how to get from an airport to the city center for numerous airports around the world.
  • aMetro (Android, iOS). Download and view maps of public transit systems for 180 cities all over the world.
  • EveryTrail (Android, iOS). A GPS-enabled app that allows you to map your trip and share it.
  • FlightTrack (Android, iOS). Real-time updates of flights on a global map,
  • Fodor’s Mobile Apps for Travel (Android, iOS). Attractions are plotted on a map within the app with info to help you decide whether you want to go.
  • Goby (Android, iOS). An activity-driven search engine. With a single click, you can find a list of things to do near you or search by destination and travel dates.
  • Lonely Planet (Android, iOS). A popular guidebook among independent travelers
  • OffMaps 2 (Android, iOS). Offline maps for thousands of destinations, both in the U.S. and internationally. For $0.99, the app allows you to download two maps of your choice.
  • TripAdvisor (Android, iOS). Search for places to stay and eat, and find things to do, as well as filter results by category and see results plotted on a map.
  • TripIt Travel Organizer (Android, iOS). An organizing app that can turn your confirmation emails for flights, hotels or rental cars i
  • Wi-Fi Finder (Android, iOS). Search over 545,000 free and paid public Wi-Fi locations in 144 countries worldwide — and you don’t have to be online to do so.

Of course there are lots of other options. For example Google this week introduced off-line maps, allowing you to download maps so you don’t need a wireless connection. You’ll need Android 3.0 or higher . Compass mode for StreetView lets you to see an angled view of the area around you.

Window Seat tracks your flight without GPS or a network connection (using airline schedules). It shows you what’s below you while you’re offline. Airport Maps has gate maps that work with or without a data connection.

Wireless Emergency Alert Available Now

Millions of smartphone users will soon begin receiving text messages about severe weather from a sophisticated government system that can send a blanket warning to mobile devices in the path of a dangerous storm.

Beginning today, the system will notify people about approaching tornadoes, hurricanes, blizzards and other threats. Most messages are anticipated to be weather-related. It sends geographically targeted text alerts over cellular networks.

When a warning is issued for a specific county, a message of no more than 90 characters will cause late-model smartphones in that area to sound a special tone and vibrate. Alerts will automatically “pop up” on the mobile device screen.

All devices that are Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) enabled will have a logo on the side of the box (above), along with wording stating the device is Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) capable.

The new Wireless Emergency Alerts system gives the National Weather Service a new way to warn Americans about menacing weather, even if they are nowhere near a television, radio or storm sirens. Mostly the messages appear to tell you to tune into your local satellite-fed, group-owned broadcast station for more information.

Wireless carriers serving almost 97 percent of U.S. subscribers have agreed to participate, including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile USA. Each of the four offers at least some phones capable of receiving emergency alerts, with more on the way.

It is part of a broader alert network the Federal Emergency Management Agency launched in April that can also send public-safety warnings from the president and participating state and local governments. But the weather service estimates that more than 90 percent of the messages will be about storms.

The Commercial Mobile Alert System enables commercial mobile providers to transmit emergency alerts to their subscribers. Users do not have to sign up for the service or pay for the text message. And people who prefer not to get the warnings can opt out of the system.

At the National Association of Broadcasters show this spring, vendors showed off a Mobile-Emergency Alert System (M-EAS) that uses Mobile DTV handsets.

LG is readying M-EAS-equipped mobile DTV handsets and Harris is finalizing broadcast equipment designs to support a nationwide commercial deployment of M-EAS service, expected by 2014.

The terrestrial broadcast M-EAS project is now delivering trial alerts (that could include video, audio, text, and graphics) to mobile DTV-equipped cellphones, tablets, laptops, netbooks, and in-car navigation systems; in order to avoid the potential roadblocks of cellular system congestion during emergencies.

Backwards-compatible with the ATSC A/153 Mobile DTV standard, M-EAS is currently in the first phase of a trial with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; PBS; public broadcasters WGBH in Boston, Vegas PBS and Alabama Public Television; Harris; LG Electronics; and Roundbox.

Meanwhile officials are investigating why the nationwide emergency alert system failed during its test last November. FEMA is all over it.

Related stories on DailyWireless include; Broadcasters Push Mobile Emergency Alert System, D-Block: Back to Congress, AT&T and Verizon: No 700 MHz Interoperability For You!, D-Block Legislation Stalled, Seybold: Furgetabout Video on LTE Public Safety Band, Broadband Disability Act, Public Service Radio Convention, Public Safety Net Removed from Debt Ceiling Bill, The D-Block Gamble, D-Block Gets a Hearing, National Wireless Initiative, White House: D-Block to Police/Fire,

Privately Owned Space Telescope Planned

In a press conference at the California Academy of Sciences Thursday morning, the B612 Foundation unveiled its plans to build, launch, and operate the first privately funded deep space mission. Called SENTINEL, the infrared space telescope would be placed in orbit around the Sun in about 5 years.

The B612 Foundation aims to build, launch, and operate the privately funded deep space telescope. Sentinel will scan the entire night half of the sky every 26 days to identify every moving object with repeated observations in subsequent months. The foundation got its name from the asteroid home of the main character in The Little Prince, a best selling children’s book first published in 1943.

“During its 5.5-year mission survey time, Sentinel will discover and track half a million Near Earth Asteroids, creating a dynamic map that will provide the blueprint for future exploration of our Solar System, while protecting the future of humanity on Earth,” said Ed Lu, Space Shuttle, Soyuz, and Space Station Astronaut, now Chairman and CEO of the B612 Foundation.

“The reason we’re doing this is because we can”, Lu told SPACE.com.

The B612 Foundation is working with Ball Aerospace, which has designed and will be building the Sentinel Infrared (IR) Space Telescope with the same expert team that developed the Spitzer and Kepler Space Telescopes. It will take approximately five years to complete development and testing to be ready for launch in 2017-2018. The launch vehicle of choice is the SpaceX Falcon9.

Observations from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) have led to the best assessment yet of our solar system’s population of potentially hazardous asteroids. The results reveal new information about their total numbers, origins and the possible dangers they may pose.

Filmmaker James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page, among others, announced plans in April to mine near-Earth asteroids for resources such as precious metals and water.

Planetary Resources intends to sell these materials, generating a profit. It also aims to advance humanity’s exploration and exploitation of space, with resource extraction serving as an anchor industry that helps our species spread throughout the solar system.

Meanwhile, Darpa last week asked satellite companies to donate “a candidate satellite” to harvest satellite parts in a program called Phoenix and is hosting a conference on sustainable satellite servicing.

In other news, astronomers in Chile using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope are now able to analyze the atmosphere on a faraway planet by using CRIRES, a supercooled infrared spectrograph bolted to the telescope.

ESO’s VLT consists of four large telescopes, each with 8.2m primary mirrors. The VLT captured the first direct image of an exoplanet.

The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope (OWL), a conceptual design by the ESO for a single, 100 meter telescope, was abandoned for a more practical 39-meter Extremely Large Telescope.