FCC: Redefining Broadband at 25Mbps?

The FCC is beginning to consider whether to raise the definition of broadband from 4 Mbps to 10 Mbps, or even as high as 25 Mbps, reports the Washington Post.

These days, 4 Mbps may not get you very much, explains The Post. An HD-quality Netflix stream requires at least a 5 Mbps connection. And in today’s typical home, one family member may be streaming a movie while others are making a high-quality Skype call or downloading files from Dropbox, which only adds to the bandwidth requirements.

The notice of inquiry will be circulated internally at the commission Friday, reported the Washington Post, in preparation for a future public release.

In addition, it’ll ask the public whether the FCC should adopt a tiered set of definitions to account for varying speeds in different regions or during different times of day.

Meanwhile, a U.S. lawmaker has introduced legislation that would prohibit the FCC from reclassifying broadband as a common-carrier utility, a move many net neutrality advocates have called for. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) introduced legislation that would explicitly bar the FCC from reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. The cable industry threw its weight behind Latta’s bill, reports The Hill.

The FCC has proposed to restore net neutrality rules and asked for public comment on whether to reclassify broadband instead of taking an approach advocated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that would allow broadband providers to engage in commercially reasonable” traffic management“.

T-Mobile/Sprint Agreement?

Softbank Chairman Masayoshi Son has been eager to buy T-Mobile and merge it with Sprint, although the FCC and Justice have had a dim view of such a merger. U.S. regulators previously rejected AT&T’s $39 billion takeover bid for T-Mobile US in 2011.

Now Reuters reports that Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and Softbank have been talking and may have reached some kind of agreement whereby DT would keep a minority stake in a T-Mobile/Sprint deal. Other details such as price and financing remain to be worked out, according to Reuters.

Softbank owns a majority of Sprint, the third largest U.S. wireless carrier, while Deutsche Telekom owns 67 percent of T-Mobile US, which has a market value of $27.6 billion.

One possibility is for Deutsche Telekom to retain a roughly 15 percent in T-Mobile US as part of a deal, the sources said. That would help reduce the size of the equity check that Sprint has to write for T-Mobile US, while giving Deutsche Telekom the chance to benefit from potential synergies.

The FCC’s new Spectrum Cap Rules are also transforming the 600 MHz auction. Perhaps, if such a deal could clear in a year, the combined companies might improve their position in the 600 MHz auction. The FCC ignored Sprint’s arguments and instead weighs all spectrum the same, though the FCC will pay closer attention to deals involving spectrum below 1 GHz.

The 600 MHz auction is vital for both companies, since 600 MHz can fill gaps and penetrate homes.

Dish is the loose cannon. It is still looking for someone to host its 55 MHz of spectrum.

The decision to disallow the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile worked out well for consumers. Justice and the FCC may be reflecting on that success, although a merger of number 3 and 4 does make more competitive sense.

It’s business as usual — while the telecom industry is mutating in real-time. Perhaps more creative deal making should be the rule. Not mergers.

Asymmetric force multipliers like Cloud RAN, small cells, VoLTE, Dish, Google and Facebook are now in the game. The industry (and government) should embrace change, not shut it out.

See Dailywireless; New Spectrum Cap Rules Transforming 600 MHz Auction, Verizon Activates AWS Band, T-Mobile Files 600 MHz Proposal – Eliminating “Free” Spectrum, T-Mobile Buys 700 MHz from Verizon, Battle for 600 MHz: Spectrum Aggregation Limits?

Self-Driving Cars

Google is now developing self-driving prototype cars. The driver will be able to summon the car using a smartphone application and the car will automatically drive to the destination selected on the app, the New York Times reported.

It doesn’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal. Their software and sensors do all the work.

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The electric-powered car is simple: two seats, two buttons and a screen that displays the route. Google is having 100 cars built by a manufacturer in the Detroit area, which it declined to name.

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Ultra-light mass transit and self-driving, rubber-wheeled people movers could be an answer for urban transportation. They are fast, light, clean, comfortable and can connect neighborhoods to high speed transit.

Modified Neighborhood Electric Vehicles or 2-passenger vehicles, like GM’s EN-V, could cross bridges on bike-wide lanes. No rails or overhead power. No drivers, either.

England’s autonomous car project in the city of Milton Keynes may be the first real-world test of self-driving cars.

The autonomous Navia shuttle can fit up to 10 people and is designed to accommodate a wheelchair. It is currently being tested on college campuses in Switzerland, Britain and Singapore.

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Navia uses anchor points to see along its prescribed course and costs around $250,000, but the company says operating a conventional shuttle service, with drivers, fuel and maintenance, costs roughly the same.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications is expected to be standardized by 2017, and sometime around 2020, cars will communicate with each other and alert drivers to roadside hazards ahead, reports ExtremeTech.

V2V is also known as VANET (Vehicular ad hoc network) is a variation of MANET (Mobile ad hoc network), where the node is the vehicle.

Dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) technology, in the 5.9 GHz band, provides vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure to improve safety and mobility, says the DOT.

Mark Reuss, GM’s executive VP of global product development, told Bloomberg that he could see Google becoming a “serious competitive threat”. GM demonstrated Super Cruise last year, which supports semi-automated driving features including hands-off lane following, braking and speed control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the first generation of V2V systems would warn the driver but not take control of the car. Later implementations would improve to brake or steer around obstacles and eventually merge with self-driving cars.

Demographics of car ownership are shifting. Younger people are moving towards mass transit.

A Columbia University report, entitled Transforming Personal Mobility (pdf), suggests that shared AV’s could provide metro area transportation at a total cost per mile between 15 and 41 cents. They will offer safer, faster, more convenient and usually cheaper trips than public transit.

Intel’s Freeway to the Future survey found almost half of Americans aspire to live in a driverless city; more than one-third believe it will happen this decade. Intel wants to make the Atom processor the brains of the connected car, reports GigaOm.

In-Vehicle Solutions will use Linux-based middleware on top of which automakers can build their infotainment user interface and apps. The idea is to help automakers cut down on their long development times. Chipmakers with designs on the car also include Nvidia, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Texas Instruments.

Once automakers start adding the technology to all new cars, it is estimated to take 15 years or more for half the cars on the nation’s roads to be equipped, according to Qualcomm.

Drivers would also be alerted to a possible collision with a pedestrian or bicycle carrying a smartphone that continually sends out information to cars in the vicinity, even if it’s too dark to see the person or if the pedestrian darts suddenly into traffic.

Vehicular communications is usually developed as a part of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) which integrates communication between mobile and fixed nodes, using both wired and wireless communications.

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Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company, proposed partnering with the telecommunications industry to create cities in which “pedestrian, bicycle, private cars, commercial and public transportation traffic are woven into a connected network to save time, conserve resources, lower emissions and improve safety.”

Here’s My Proposal for self-driving cars in Portland.

Five years ago infotainment ranked 27th on a list of features most cars shopper wanted. Now it’s in the top five.

According to research firm Analysys Mason, 11.5 million connected cars will ship this year, growing to around 170 million in 2023. General Motors’ OnStar service currently has 6 million customers. Worldwide sales of HUD-equipped cars will increase from 1.2 million units in 2012 to 9.1 million in 2020.

Related DailyWireless stories on transit connectivity include; Google and Apple Battle for Connected Car, Audi Dumps T-Mobile for AT&T Connected Car, Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Moving Forward?, World Congress on Talking Cars, and 5.9 GHz Hits the Road Inside Google’s Driverless Car, Driverless Cars Rolling Out in UK, Autonet Does Control and Diagnostic Apps, Verizon Forms Connected Car Venture, Automotive Telematics Goes 4G, Ford Lowers SYNC Costs, Google’s Driverless Car Explained, World Congress on Talking Cars, Connected Car Conference,

Facebook WiFi Router from D-Link

D-Link today announced it is working with Facebook to deliver D-Link’s first wireless router with Facebook Wi-Fi. The Facebook Wi-Fi will redirect users to your Facebook page. Facebook Check In can be made optional, but redirection to the business Facebook page cannot.

The Facebook Wi-Fi 802.11ac router delivers advanced, connectivity for small businesses and their customers. It prompts customers to check in to their location on Facebook to connect to free Wi-Fi without the hassle of entering codes or creating new accounts.

Dlink says the features and benefits include:

  • Enhanced User Experience: Offers free Wi-Fi without the need for codes or special accounts
  • Expanded Customer Connections: Drives customer check-ins and interaction with business Facebook Pages
  • Increased Visibility: Allows small businesses to aggregate demographic data from customers who check in
  • Wi-Fi Performance: Up to 1750Mbps Wi-Fi with 802.11ac (1300ac + 450n) for a high-performance wireless experience
  • Secure Wi-Fi: Complete set of security features including an SPI firewall and WPA2 to protect business networks

The D-Link 11AC Router with Facebook Wi-Fi is available for $149.99.

Facebook Wi-Fi is available on Meraki wireless products, Cisco ISR G2 and ASR 1000 Series routers, NETGEAR R6300 Smart WiFi routers and the D-Link Facebook Wi-Fi AC1750 Router (DIR-865L).

Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network:

Related Dailywireless articles include; GOWEX: Free WiFi in Chicago, GOWEX: Free WiFi for Miami , Ruckus Announces Carrier-Grade WiFi Management , GOWEX: Free WiFi for Miami, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services,

Rooftop Small Cells: Big Gamble?

It’s tempting to think that Sprint or Dish could use rooftops as a basestation platform for urban small cells. But is it practical? I have no clue.

Wireless backhaul is currently running $10K a link while a small cell basestation unit can run another $10K or more. Multiply $20K by 1 million homes. That’s a lot of money to provide service to small, low density areas. Reduce the price from $20B to $2B and it might make sense.

Traffic growth and spectrum exhaustion will necessitate the further rollout of small cell networks. In this video, DragonWave discusses the key elements for successful small cell deployments.

nTelos, which has a partnership with Sprint, used Exalt ExploreAir radios for backhaul, among others. ExploreAir all-outdoor radios, are currently available in the ANSI/FCC 6, 11, 18 and 23 GHz bands, the 28, 29 and 31 GHz LMDS bands and the ITU/ETSI 11, 13, 15, 18, 23 38 and 42 GHz bands. They run about $10K a link.

nTelos uses both Ericsson basestations and those from Alcatel-Lucent. nTelos will add 800 & 2500MHz to their current 1900MHz LTE platform, so Sprint customer may roam with “The Full Monty” of connectivity in nTelos territory.

China Mobile wants to put the basestation in a datacenter. They communicate with small cell using fiber. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft could get on that train.

If the price is right.

Artemis is using spectrum controlled by Dish Network to conduct wireless tests in the San Francisco Bay Area using its innovative P-Cell technology. Maybe that’s the ticket.

Dish and Sprint have the spectrum. Google, Facebook (and Amazon) have the ad revenue. Mobile and desktop ads bring in about $50B/yr in the United States, with Google getting almost half of that.

Voice over LTE, rooftop small cells, relay nodes and Cloud RAN could trigger “free” business models. More eyeballs = more ad revenue. A greenfield wireless operator might also need a cool $12 Billion for 10 x 10 MHz at 600 MHz. For roaming.

Will rooftop small cells work? Are they cost/effective? It seems like a crap shoot. But blowing up the legacy phone network might be fun — and make good business sense.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ruckus Announces Carrier-Grade WiFi Management, Dish to Launch Commercial Fixed Wireless in July?, What’s inside Google’s Fiber Huts?, Google Fiber Going Wireless?, Intel: Basestation in the Cloud, Google Fiber Expands to More Cities, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City , FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band

Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Report

Every year, former analyst and venture capitalist Mary Meeker releases an in-depth look at the state of the web. The Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner also hints at up-and-coming startups and uncovers digital trends with a great slide deck.

This morning, Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report was released at the Re/code’s CodeCon conference. You can view the full report here (Slideshare pdf).

Mary Meeker’s 2014 Internet Trends report shows 6 of the top 10 global internet properties are Made in USA with more than 86% of their users are from outside US. Here are a few of the 140+ slides.