802.11ah: WiFi Standard for 900MHz

WiFi is preparing to ride the unlicensed 900 MHz band, reports EE Times. Chips for the upcoming IEEE 802.11ah standard are expected to hit the market starting in 2015. They will have to compete with numerous other protocols for home and building automation in the unlicensed 900 MHz band, including Zigbee and Z-wave.

The 802.11 standard is the most broadly used form of wireless local-area networking. IEEE has already developed a 1 Gbps standard for 5 GHz (IEEE 802.11ac) and a 7 Gbps standard for the 60 GHz band (802.11ad). Those compete against other protocols for home video connectivity.

While 2.4 GHz WiFi commonly uses a total of three 20 MHz channels (in the available 85 MHz of spectrum), the 802.11ah standard uses a more restricted 902-928 MHz band (in the United States).

The new 802.11ah standard allows twenty-six 1MHz channels or thirteen 2MHz channels. In Japan, the available band is within 916.5-927.5 MHz, with eleven 1MHz channels. In China the available band will be within 755-787 MHz, with thirty-two 1 MHz channels.

EE Times says the spec aims to support a range of options from throughput of 150 Kbits/s with a 1 MHz band to as much as 40 Mbits/s over an 8 MHz band. Distances supported could be about 50 percent longer than those of the streamlined 802.11n products now targeting the sector with throughput up to 72 Mbits/s.

The main use of 802.11ah is expected to be sensor networking. It will not use the TV white space bands (54-698 MHz in the US), which are instead targeted by the IEEE 802.11af standard.

A first vote on the 802.11ah standard could come as early as the end of September, says EE Times, although a final standard is not expected until January 2016. That makes 2014 the time frame for development of new silicon for end nodes and access points.

A host of companies have been working on the .11ah spec led by a Qualcomm engineer who chairs the group. Other participants come from companies including Broadcom, Huawei, Intel, LG, Marvell, NEC, Samsung, and ZTE.

The PHY transmission in IEEE 802.11ah is an OFDM waveform consisting of a total of 64 tones/sub-carriers which are spaced by 31.25 kHz. The modulations supported include BPSK, QPSK and 16 to 256 QAM. It will support multi user MIMO and single user beam forming.

As many as a dozen 900 MHz protocols are now crowded into the space of building and home control networks. “That’s the biggest problem — you need separate hubs or base stations for each of them, and that means extra costs, and if you add IP to these devices there are more costs,” according to Adam Lapede, a senior director of product management at Qualcomm Atheros.

The .11ah standard is expected to deliver up to 10-20 Mbits/s around the home. It will also help WiFi vendors extend into large building networks supporting up to 8,000 connections.

In another interesting wrinkle, Amazon plans to test terrestrial low-power service (TLPS) which would use both the upper 2.4 GHz unlicensed band and Globalstar’s terrestrial-use spectrum (2473-2495 MHz). The idea is to take the upper 2.4 GHz unlicensed band that isn’t now available for Wi-Fi, and combine it Globalstar’s terrestrial-use spectrum, creating a new service operating on 2473-2495 MHz.

Engineer Steve Crowley says they apparently plan to use 50 Linksys WRT54GL access points, 10 Ubiquity UniFi access points, 10 Ubiquity XR2 client cards, and 10 Ubiquity SR-71-12 client cards.

Meanwhile, Google plans an experimental license to use the 2524-2546 MHz and 2567-2625 MHz bands. Those frequencies are owned by Clearwire, a company that Google had invested in until last year. That’s a lot of unpaired bandwidth (40 MHz & 58 MHz) respectively.

Google is also taking over the Starbucks Wi-Fi network from AT&T, while nationwide cable Wi-Fi networks are linking up as well, using Hotspot 2.0 for seamless roaming between systems.

Free Mobile, a French carrier, has built a mobile network using Wi-Fi hotspots provided by its wireline broadband subscribers, and has proven to be a success.

Carriers and cellular will become the mortar while Wi-Fi will be the bricks“,” said David Morken, CEO of Bandwidth.com, which owns Republic Wireless, a Wi-Fi-based phone network.

Anyfi wants to turn any Wi-Fi access point into a virtual extension of mobile networks. The Swedish startup has raised $1.5 million to enable the construction of large Wi-Fi networks that would allow operators to easily build hybrid cellular-Wi-Fi networks like the ones deployed by France’s Free Mobile and by Japan’s Softbank.

Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft may be angling for spectrum. Combining higher frequencies (2.4-2.6 GHz) with lower frequencies (600 MHz-900 MHz) might be one strategy to deliver always on connectivity. It could also be useful for M2M devices like watches and headgear that don’t require high speed connectivity.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Amazon & Globalstar Test Wireless Service, Enterprise-grade Firmware for Community WiFi Networks, Community Wireless Summit, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Carrier WiFi Moves Ahead, Municipal Broadband: Here We Go Again, AT&T Can’t Give Away Their Muni WiFi Net, Top Ten Municipal WiFi Stories of the Decade

AT&T Prepaid Going Nationwide

AT&T’s prepaid AIO wireless brand, currently being sued by T-Mobile for use of the color magenta, will be available to all customers nationwide in September.

Currently the AT&T branded prepaid service is only made available in Florida, Texas, Metro-Atlanta, and Chicago. Now AT&T is taking it nationwide.

No-contract service cost between $40 and $70, and AT&T says they’re giving away a free month of usage if users sign up before September 29.

Prepaid Reviews points out that AIO is a company-owned brand, much like T-Mobile owns GoSmart Wireless, which offers a $35 monthly plan.

Aio will offer LTE along with a new handset, the ZTE Overture, a 4-inch device that runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

Nokia Announces Here Connected Driving

Nokia on Friday announced its intention to become a much bigger force in embedded infotainment and connected car systems with HERE Connected Driving, a full range of automotive products and services.

Nokia’s Here Auto, hopes to be a force in the world’s car infotainment systems. HERE Auto and its companion apps for smartphones, are said to deliver the right map at the right moment, with or without a data connection.

Nokia’s Here mapping and navigation are at the heart of Here Auto. The in-dash software contains all of the key features of its Windows Phone 8 app, from 3D maps to real-time traffic, points of interest, street-level imaging and local business search.

HERE aggregates services from many sources in the cloud and delivers a service package to carmakers and through them to drivers. Nokia says they have completely rebuilt our traffic engine to be more powerful and reliable.

Unlike most other embedded navigation systems, Here Auto isn’t walled off. It’s the same app you access on the smartphone or through a PC browser. All of your bookmarked destinations, preferred routes, contacts and preferences are stored in the cloud and synched between devices.

Nokia did not announce pricing or availability on its cloud integration, but more details should be announced next month at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt next month.

Galaxy Smartwatch Specs?

Kevin Tofels has dug up some more information on Samsung’s smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, expected to be announced Sept 4th.

According to AmongTech, the Galaxy Gear will have 10 hours of battery life. It is expected to have a 2.5-inch, 320 x 320 OLED display.

AmongTech says its specs include:

  • 2.5 inch OLED touchscreen display 320×320 resolution
  • 10 hours of battery life
  • Dual core processor 1.5GHz
  • 4 MegaPixel 720p camera
  • Speakers in the device’s strap
  • Accelerometer
  • Bluetooth 4.0 LE
  • Android Jelly Bean
  • 1 GB of RAM

AmongTech reports the watch will have 1 GB of memory and choice of storage in either 6 GB or 8 GB capacity, with an integrated camera.

Black Budget Revealed

The $52.6 billion “black budget” for fiscal 2013, obtained by The Washington Post from Edward Snowden, maps a bureaucratic and operational landscape that has never been subject to public scrutiny.

The 178-page budget summary for the National Intelligence Program details the successes, failures and objectives of the 16 spy agencies that make up the U.S. intelligence community, which has 107,035 employees.

Among the notable revelations in the budget summary:

  • Spending by the CIA has surged past that of every other spy agency, with $14.7 billion in requested funding for 2013. The figure vastly exceeds outside estimates and is nearly 50 percent above that of the National Security Agency.
  • The CIA and the NSA have begun aggressive new efforts to hack into foreign computer networks to steal information or sabotage enemy systems, embracing “offensive cyber operations.”
  • In words, deeds and dollars, intelligence agencies remain fixed on terrorism as the gravest threat to national security, which is listed first among five “mission ob­jectives.” Counterterrorism programs employ one in four members of the intelligence workforce and account for one-third of the intelligence program’s spending.

According to the spending blueprint for fiscal 2013, the NSA taps into “high volume circuit and packet-switched networks. The program was expected to cost $278 million in the current fiscal year, down nearly one-third from its peak of $394 million in 2011.

Sensitive details are so pervasive in the documents that The Post is publishing only summary tables and charts online.

According to the Washington Post, the only meaningful frame of reference came in 1994, when a congressional subcommittee inadvertently published a partial breakdown of the National Intelligence Program. At the time, the CIA accounted for just $4.8 billion of a budget that totaled $43.4 billion in 2012 dollars.

The NSA and the NRO commanded far larger shares of U.S. intelligence budgets until years after the Cold War ended. During the past decade, they have taken a back seat to the CIA.

Most Malware Targets Android

Some 79 percent of all mobile malware threats target devices running Google’s Android operating system, according to a joint unclassified memo from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice. It was obtained and published online by the website Public Intelligence.

“Android is the world’s most widely used mobile operating system and continues to be a primary target for malware due to its market share and open source architecture,” notes the July 23 memo.

Android also has 79% Market Share in global smartphone shipments, according to research firm IDC’s latest numbers.