2012: Wireless Year in Review

Quite a year, good old 2012. Lots of innovations, devices, wireless technology, mergers, policy making, booms and busts. Let’s review:

Here are some of my favorite stories of 2012:

What do you think were the most interesting wireless stories of 2012?

Intel to Offer IPTV Service?

TechCrunch says Intel will showcase a TV set-top box at CES next week. Rollout of the new service is expected to start “soon,” perhaps March, says Forbes.

Available through a broadband connection, the service would bundle certain TV channels and offer streaming content. One rumored feature would eliminate the need for a dedicated DVR. A cloud service might let people watch any program broadcast over the past month. It is counting on facial-recognition technology for targeted ads, say Reuters.

Advertiser Real-Time Bidding (RTB) will account for 13 percent of all U.S. display advertising spend in 2012, and is expect to grow sharply in the next few years. eMarketer estimates that RTB ad spending in the U.S. will grow 72% next year to $3.4 billion, up from $1.9 billion this year.

TechCrunch’s source said that Intel has decided to go it alone after attempting to convince smart TV makers to join the effort. The source added that Intel was frustrated with “everyone doing a half-assed Google TV so it’s going to do it themselves and do it right.”

Competing with cable and satellite TV providers as well as phone companies, Intel would reportedly offer the set-top box combined with a virtual TV service, according to Reuters. Intel has rethought their consumer strategy, eschewing retail systems such as TVs in favor of working directly with service providers and STB OEMs.

Intel would use their Atom CE5300 Media Processor, a dual-core Atom with an H.264 hardware encoder, and enhanced graphics for 3D and improved gaming. As in previous generations, the CE5300’s graphics engine is licensed from Imagination Technologies and the audio engine from Tensilica.

Intel plans to avoid the high cost of license negotiations by deploying the service one city at a time rather than nationwide, according to TechCrunch.

According to ABI Research worldwide set-top box market is expected to grow slowly, from 221 million in 2011 to 242 million in 2016. In comparison, shipments of legacy STBs, consisting of cable, satellite and terrestrial boxes, are estimated to rise more slowly, making IPTV the hottest segment of the market.

“The growth in satellite, cable, and IPTV markets was strong, although digital terrestrial TV growth was flat in 2012. We expect that the pay-TV market will continue to grow in 2013 to reach 907 million subscribers,” said Jake Saunders, VP and practice director at ABI Research.

The worldwide IPTV subscriber base has been increasing over the past few years. In 2013, the global IPTV subscriber base is expected to add over 9 million subscribers to reach 79.3 million.

Most Popular Dailywireless Stories of 2012

I went though my Google Analytics and found the most viewed 15 stories on 2012. Here they are starting from the most popular on down. Popularity can be a bit arbitrary, depending on whether some site picked up the story, or some other phenomena.

For what it’s worth, here were the most popular stories of 2012 on this site:

  1. Cracking Smartphone Codes (3,290). If law enforcement wants to see the data you’ve stored on your smartphone, those four digit security codes only take two minutes to crack…
  2. Sprint LTE Rollouts(2,849). The Sprint Network Vision blog lists LTE deployments and coverage maps…
  3. Open-source Tricorder (2,410). 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…
  4. iPhone5 World phone with LTE (2,408). Today Apple’s new iPhone 5 is being unveiled in San Francisco. Apple has now sold 400 million iOS devices through June of this year…
  5. Hotspot 2.0 (1,786). Roaming between WiFi networks and cellular carriers will be getting easier, thanks to the Hotspot 2.0 initiative…
  6. NSAs Utah Data Center (1,779). The Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency, reports James Bamford in Wired. The question, of course, is how the agency defines who is, and who is not, “a potential adversary.”…
  7. Top 100 (1,728). The Top Ten wireless stories of the decade. I reached #70. I keep planning to finish it.
  8. Broadcom Announces Enterprise 802.11ac chips (1,674). Chipmaker Broadcom today launched a 802.11ac standard WiFi chip, the BCM43460, said to be the world’s first “5G” WiFi system-on-chip…
  9. Freedom-pop Connects with Sprint LTE/3g (1,671). Today FreedomPop announced that they will now have access to Sprint’s new 4G LTE network, as well as its WiMAX and 3G network…
  10. Widi: Dead Tech (1,404). Intel is flogging their WiDi technology (pronounced like “Wi-Fi”) at CES again this year…
  11. HTC ONE-S Android 4 with Bluetooth Low Energy (1,365). Bluetooth 4.0 features ultra-low power consumption, with the ability of sensors to run for years on standard, coin-cell batteries. It was first available in the iPhone 4S and the new iPad and is also available in the Galaxy S III.
  12. Haiti (1,259). The Haitian Earthquake on Jan 12, 2010, left an estimated 200,000 dead.
  13. China Mobile Announces TD-LTE Rollout (1,178). China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator with 655 million customers, has unveiled their plan to widely deploy TD-LTE across the country.
  14. Samsung Tablet (1,120). Samsung’s next great Android super phone could in the form of an 11.6” Samsung tablet…
  15. Ivy Bridge Laptops from Lenovo and Sony (1,091). Lenovo has refreshed their entire ThinkPad lineup, each sporting Intel Ivy Bridge chips, USB 3.0, and a redesigned keyboard…

FCC Streamlines In-Flight WiFi

The FCC today established formal rules for satellite-based in-flight WiFi services such as that offered by Row 44, used by Southwest Airlines. Until today, such services could only be approved on a case-by-case basis. The new rules are designed to streamline the process, making it easier to roll out services that use satellite backhaul for in-flight Wi-Fi, cellular service, and live television.

Satellite WiFi provider Row 44, has secured exclusive North American rights with Hughes for backbone connections.

Rules already exist for competing services that connect planes directly to the ground using a network of cell towers with upward-facing antennas, such as GoGo which use terrestrial towers pointing up towards the skies.

Meanwhile, terrestrial-based Gogo has been testing its next generation air-to-ground (ATG) system, for the last four months. The new EVDO Rev. B system, combined with directional antennas, is capable of a maximum of 9.8 Mbps, tripling the peak speed of the previous air-to-ground network.

Satellite provided In flight connectivity is available Panasonic’s eXConnect system and AeroMobile while OnAir uses a satellite data unit (SDU) manufactured by Thales and a backhaul link through Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband in the L band. Gogo also plans a Ku-band satellite system for long-haul flights.

Qualcomm’s hopes to support “multi-gigabit per second” broadband connectivity to aircraft, but has run into staunch opposition from myriad stakeholders, including Boeing and the Satellite Industry Association (pdf).

Qualcomm wants to establish a new terrestrial-based, secondary status for air-ground mobile service in the 14.0-14.5 GHz band (within the satellite Ku band). The move was backed by Gogo customers, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and Virgin America, as well as Gogo itself.

FCC Economist: Cable Usage Caps Beneficial

DSL Reports says the FCC has hired a new chief economist with a history of cheerleading broadband usage caps for the cable industry.

According to the FCC, they’ve hired Steven Wildman, an economist and professor at Michigan State University, as the agency’s new chief economist.

In a statement, FCC boss Julius Genachowski insists that Wildman will help the agency by applying “his deep economic expertise and problem solving abilities daily to our most challenging initiatives.”

Except Wildman just got done penning a National Cable & Telecommunications Association paper supporting the industry’s use of punitive caps and costly per-byte overages. “…The effects of well-designed [usage-based pricing] plans on consumers are likely to be beneficial, as are the effects of UBP on investments in the broadband infrastructure,” insisted Wildman in the cable industry sponsored paper (pdf).

Wildman will take over as Chief Economist from Marius Schwartz, who is returning to his prior role as a Professor of Economics at Georgetown University.

“Wildman’s hiring is troubling for an agency that has already utterly refused to seriously address the anti-competitive impact of usage caps and high overage pricing”, concludes Karl Bode of DSL Reports.

Wildman is co-editor of The Journal of Media Economics and is the co-author or co-editor of five books, including Video Economics and Making Universal Service Policy, and numerous articles on economics and policy for communication industries.

China’s Satellite Navigation Now Operational

China’s Beidou satellite navigation system is now officially available for civilian and commercial use, reports The Verge. It’s currently available only across the Asia-Pacific region. The second generation of the system, known as Compass or BeiDou-2, will provide global coverage with 35 satellites by 2020, according to Chinese officials.

At a press conference yesterday, a spokesman said the service, with 16 satellites, is “comparable” to GPS, and is capable of pinning down locations by 10 meters (about 33 feet). An official version of the complete interface control document outlines the specifications for user equipment.

The start of commercial services comes a year after Beidou — which literally means the Big Dipper in Chinese — began a limited positioning service for China and adjacent areas. The Beidou constellation, also known as Compass, is China’s counterpart to the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System, which provides navigation services to military vehicles, precision munitions, civil aviation, personal cars, boats, and search-and-rescue forces.

There are four major global satellite navigation systems: the US GPS (30 satellites in orbit), Beidou (16 satellites in orbit), Russia’s Glonass (29 satellites in orbit), and the European Union’s Galileo (4 satellites in orbit). GPS is the dominant player, but Ran Chengqi, spokesman for the China Satellite Navigation Office, estimated that the Beidou system will hold 15 to 20 percent of market share (in China) by 2015.

GPS World calls Galileo and Compass: a Tale of Also-Runnings. The GLONASS system currently provides world-wide coverage, similar to GPS. After a deterioration of a few years, deployment of the Russian GLONASS constellation to the full capacity returned in 2011. But an ongoing fraud investigation has afflicted the GLONASS program, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) in recent years, reports Inside GNNS.

Related Dailywireless GPS articles include; GPS Times Four, GLONASS: 3 More, Qualcomm & Cisco Team for WiFi Location, Nokia: We Have Better Maps, Urban Airship Targets Location , Lightsquared Calls GPS Test “Rigged”, Lightsquared: Breaking Bad, Lightsquared Interference: No Immediate Fix?,