LTE Direct Gets Real

LTE Direct, a new feature being added to the LTE protocol, will make it possible to bypass cell towers, notes Technology Review. Phones using LTE Direct (Qualcomm whitepaper), will be able to “talk” directly to other mobile devices as well as connect to beacons located in shops and other businesses.

The wireless technology standard is baked into the latest LTE spec, which is slated for approval this year. It could appear in phones as soon as late 2015. Devices capable of LTE Direct can interconnect up to 500 meters — far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But issues like authorisation and authentication, currently handled by the network, would need to be extended to accommodate device to device to communication without the presence of the network.

At the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of proximity services via LTE device broadcast.

Since radio to radio communications is vital for police and fire, it has been incorporated into release 12 of the LTE-A spec, due in 2015.

At Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference in San Francisco this month, the company announced that it’s helping partners including Facebook and Yahoo experiment with the technology.

Facebook is also interested in LTE Multicast which is a Broadcast TV technology. Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (also called E-MBMS or LTE Broadcast), uses cellular frequencies to multicast data or video to multiple users, simultaneously. This enables mobile operators to offer mobile TV without the need for additional spectrum or TV antenna and tuner.

FCC: Better Rural Broadband & 5G Spectrum

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to see to the program that provides subsidies for Internet service in public schools and libraries known as E-Rate address broadband access by schools and libraries in rural areas, reports Roll Call.

In prepared remarks for an education technology event in Washington on Monday, Wheeler said that “75 percent of rural public schools today are unable to achieve the high-speed connectivity goals we have set.” He pointed to lack of access to fiber networks and the cost of paying for it when it’s available.

Wheeler says the FCC has set a clear target of $1 billion per year for Wi-Fi based internal networks for schools and libraries. “As a result, we will begin to see results in the next funding year, with expanded support for Wi-Fi to tens of millions of students and thousands of libraries”.

Wheeler’s speech comes after the FCC made changes to the E-Rate program this summer. Wheeler’s earlier plan to shake up the program was only partly successful — his FCC colleagues agreed to make more money available for Wi-Fi, as Wheeler proposed in June, but only if the money isn’t needed for basic Internet connections.

In other news, in announcing its agenda for its Oct. 17 open meeting, the FCC said it will vote on a Notice of Inquiry to “explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.”

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote that the inquiry is aimed at broadening the FCC’s “understanding of the state of the art in technological developments that will enable the use of millimeter wave spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services.”

“Historically, mobile wireless services have been targeted at bands below 3 GHz due to technological and practical limitations. However, there have been significant developments in antenna and processing technologies that may allow the use of higher frequencies – in this case those above 24 GHz – for mobile applications”, wrote the Chairman.

5G or 5th generation wireless systems is expected to be the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards and use frequencies above 5-6 GHz (where more spectrum is available. 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body, and is expected to deliver over 10 Gbps, compared to 1 Gbps in 4G. It is expected to be first utilized for backhaul to cell sites.

Currently, Ubiquiti’s AirFiber has set the standard in 24 GHz at $3K for 700 Mbps while SAF, Trango, and others have announced similar products at $5000 or less.

Regarding “net neutrality”, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between broadband providers and content sites might be OK so long as the agreement is “commercially reasonable” and companies disclose publicly how they prioritize Internet traffic.

Not everyone agrees. Netflix and much of the public accuses the FCC of handing the Internet over to the highest bidders. There is no deadline for the FCC to pass a new rule, and deliberations at the agency could continue into next year.

Proponents of government-owned broadband networks claim they introduce competition into the market, while critics say they are an inappropriate use of tax dollars and an example of government improperly competing with the private sector.

The 3G4G Blog, compiled by Zahid Ghadialy, is perhaps the most comprehensive site covering 5G technology news.

Coffee Shop WiFi Performance Compared

Wefi, a mobile intelligence company, said their Wi-Fi connectivity analytics has compared Wi-Fi speeds and application usage patterns of coffee shops nationwide. The report found Starbucks, Tully’s Coffee and Dunkin Donuts have the fastest Wi-Fi download speeds and highest total data consumption. Google Chrome, Facebook and YouTube are most used applications by coffee shop patrons.

The National Coffee Association reports that 61 percent of Americans drink coffee daily, making the stopover at the local brew house a popular destination for both work and play. Bandwidth connectivity has become a key differentiator for businesses especially as 39 percent of Americans would rather give up coffee over Wi-Fi, according to a recent Broadcom survey.

According to Wefi, Starbucks has consistently performed better than competing coffee shop chains. However, the most data consumed per device occurs at Dunkin Donuts with Facebook, YouTube and Twitter driving the most data usage.

Google Chrome was by far the most popular application, with over 18 minutes of foreground data consumption (amount of time an application is open and active), per device on average, closely followed by Facebook (16.78 min.) and YouTube (14.8 min.) Additional detailed findings include:

Coffee Shops with the fastest download speed

Coffee shops with the highest total data consumption

Wefi collected data from more than 45 million hotspots. The metrics are based on a 30-day average of Wi-Fi speeds for each location starting from August 1 to August 31, 2014.

Australia’s Telstra Fires Up National WiFi Network

Australia’s largest telecommunications company, Telstra, will install two million public hotspots that will be available for free to Telstra subscribers as part of a plan to blanket public spaces with internet access.

Trials of the $100m project will begin by November, reports The Guardian, and will allow Telstra customers who agree to share their bandwidth to get free access to any hotspot. The data they use will be deducted from their home allowance.

Non-Telstra customers, and those who don’t share their home connection, will be able to connect for an as yet undisclosed fee.

Many of the hotspots will be repurposed public phones which are mostly located in busy areas.

The trial will include busy spots such as Bondi Beach in Sydney, Bourke Street Mall in Melbourne and Rundle Mall in Adelaide. Popular holiday spots and parts of Perth, Brisbane, Hobart, Canberra and Darwin will also be included.

Some 1,000 hotspots should be operational by Christmas at sites that will include Telstra shops and exchange buildings.

Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) is a nation-wide, wholesale-only, open-access fiber data network delivering fixed line and wireless broadband connections that are sold to retail service providers, who then sell Internet access and other services to consumers.

The 2.3 GHz and 3.4 GHz radio spectrum will be used to provide LTE fixed wireless covering approximately 4 per cent of the population outside the fibre footprint. NBN Co has also contracted with Space Systems/Loral to build and launch two Ka band satellites in 2015 at a total cost of A$2 billion, for more rural areas.

The cost, estimated at A$37.4 billion, will be financed by a combination of a Federal Government investment of A$30.4 billion and private investment for the remainder. NBN Co intends to begin paying dividends back to the Federal Government in 2021, and to have fully repaid the Government’s contribution by 2034.

The concept is similar to those planned by Comcast and AT&T in North America. AT&T has built a network of free hotspots for customers at thousands of places—including train stations, as well as Starbucks and McDonald’s locations across the country. Comcast’s Xfinity wireless network turns customer’s cable modems into public Wi-Fi hotspots accessible with an Xfinity account login.

In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.

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:

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time. Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit with MU-MIMO but enterprise and carrier-grade gear could be a year away, say industry observers.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network

Related Dailywireless articles include; Comcast Buys Cloud Control WiFi Company, Gowex Declares Bankruptcy, Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

iPhone 6 Approved for China

Apple® today announced that iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be available in China beginning Friday, October 17 for all three major carriers. With support for TD-LTE and FDD-LTE, the new iPhones will provide access to the 4G/LTE networks from China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom across mainland China.

Reuters reports the phones received regulator scrutiny requiring Apple to reassure the Chinese government that the smartphones did not have security “backdoors” through which U.S. agencies can access users’ data.

In July, Chinese state media accused Apple of providing user data to U.S. agencies and called for ‘severe punishment’. Apple responded by publicly denying the existence of backdoors.

Apple won approval to sell the phones after also addressing risks of personal information leaks related to the operating system’s diagnostic tools, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on its website on Tuesday.

Apple earlier this month was hiring a head of law enforcement in Beijing to deal with user data requests from China’s government, reports Reuters, after it began storing private data on Chinese soil for the first time last month.

Apple Sells 10M iPhones First Weekend

Apple says the company sold 10M iPhone 6 and 6 Plus devices in first weekend. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore and the UK and will be available in more than 20 additional countries on September 26. The new iPhones will be available in 115 countries by the end of the year.

Apple last week said customers preordered more than 4 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 devices in the first 24 hours after advance sales began. By comparison, Apple two years ago received over 2 million preorders for the iPhone 5 within 24 hours, and first weekend sales totaled more than 5 million.

Apple reportedly has asked manufacturing partners to produce about 70 million to 80 million units of its larger-screen iPhones by December 30, which is about 30 percent to 40 percent more iPhones than it ordered for its initial run of last year’s iPhone 5S and 5C.

Apple “could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply, and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible,” Apple CEO Tim Cook, said in a statement.

The latest iPhones also missed out on a big market: China, reports the NY Times. Apple has delayed the release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus there, apparently because the devices have not yet received approval from Chinese regulators.

Despite missing out on hundreds of millions of potential Chinese customers, Apple impressed analysts with its weekend performance.

“Even without China, Apple was able to move $6.5 billion of product in three days which would be impressive for any industry,” said Walter Piecyk, managing director at BTIG Research.

According to Chitika Insights, iPhone 6 users are generating a steadily growing portion of North American iPhone Web traffic, surpassing a 1.5% usage share less than two days following the September 19 launch. That figure is roughly one percentage point behind the iPhone 5 over the same time period following its public release, but it took North American Samsung Galaxy S5 users over a week to generate a 1.5% share of Samsung smartphone Web traffic.