NYC: Free Phone and WiFi at 10,000 Payphones

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration announced this week that CityBridge will develop and operate up to 10,000 802.11ac access points for New York City’s LinkNYC. It promises to be the largest free municipal Wi-Fi deployment in the world.

Public pay telephones will be replaced with WiFi hotspots where residents can make free phone calls in the U.S. and get free 24/7 Internet access. Advertisng will pay for it. The plan is to make ads relevant and contextually-driven in the dense population of Manhattan.

A particular kiosk could change the ad it’s displaying based on what time of day it is, what events are happening nearby, or even potentially what sorts of people are walking by it, at least in a broad demographic sense. In order to ensure equity among all five boroughs and live up to the promise of bringing wireless access to all New York neighborhoods, these units will need to branch into areas currently not highly sought after by advertisers.

The payphone RFP began in 2012 when DoITT issued a Request for Information (RFI) about the future of the payphone.

CityBridge is the consortium of companies that will build the project and includes Qualcomm, Titan, Comark and Control Group. CityBridge’s extended team includes Transit Wireless, Antenna Design as well as a (rumored) Ruckus Wireless,. Transit Wireless would be primarily responsible for the fiber infrastructure and is providing the wireless and Wi-Fi technology for 279 underground subway stations in NYC.

A spokeswoman told FierceWirelesTech that CityBridge was unable to comment on Ruckus’ role in the project. The city’s Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications spokesman could not immediately confirm Ruckus’ participation. A spokesman for Ruckus Wireless would not comment.

Ruckus offers dual-band 802.11ac outdoor access points (AP) designed explicitly for high density public venues. Its Smart Wi-Fi equipment is Passpoint certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance, is being used to power the Hotspot 2.0 service across both San Jose and San Francisco Wi-Fi networks.

“LinkNYC is an initiative that could only be made in New York – it harnesses the latest technologies and it is a true partnership of the world’s leaders in technology, telecommunications, advertising and design,” said Minerva Tantoco, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York.

Of course lots of cities, including San Jose and others have tried free WiFi. Now, however, technology may have caught up with the vision. Utilizing Hotspot 2.0 (Passport) could allow multiple carriers and Wireless ISPs to use the service for seamless roaming, while smartphones and tablets have provided an insatiable hunger for more bandwidth. Beamforming and Multi-User MIMO will increase range and capacity. Bluetooth and WiFi tracking allow targeted advertising.

But NYC’s “free WiFi” plan could be politically naive. Ad beacons, “supercookies”, and big data could delay or possibly kill any proposal in the current climate of distrust.

Related articles on Dailywireless include; Reinvent Pay Phones, Ruckus Unwires San Jose Airport and Convention Center, Google Fiber Going Wireless?, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City, Qualcomm Annouces Proximity Beacons, Apple’s iBeacon: Location via Bluetooth 4.0, Small Cells for Cisco, Sprint to use Light Radio for Small Cells, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, Intel: Basestation in the Cloud,New Outdoor & Indoor 11ac Access Points from Ruckus, Ruckus Announces 802.11ac Access Points, What’s inside Google’s Fiber Huts?, 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,

Carriers Track Users with “Supercookies”

Verizon and AT&T, the largest wireless carriers in the US, are using “supercookies” to track users, but they could be a boon to advertisers, hackers, says C/Net.

Cookies can be used to remember the information about the user who has visited a website in order to show relevant content in the future. Many websites use cookies for personalization based on users’ preferences. They’re commonly used on desktop browsers, but mobile phones and tablets generally have not used them.

“You’re making it very difficult for people who want privacy to find it on the Internet,” Paul Ohm, a senior policy adviser to the Federal Trade Commission and associate professor at the Colorado Law School, told The Washington Post, which reported the tracking programs last week.

Verizon’s solution is called the PrecisionID. When consumers visit certain websites or mobile apps, a request is sent through a Verizon network. Precision ID packages the request, as a hashed, aggregated and anonymous unique identifier, then turns it into a lucrative chunk of data for advertisers.

According to eMarketer, U.S. adults now spend nearly 24% of their media consumption time with smartphones and tablets, but marketers only spend an average of around 10% of their ad budgets targeting those devices.

Marketers say that’s largely because of technical limitations related to targeting and measuring ads on phones and tablets using “cookies.” The problem is, cookies don’t work well on smartphones and tablets, and that makes it difficult for marketers to understand who their ads are reaching, and the effect they’re having on consumers.

Facebook, the No. 2 digital advertising platform in the world, analysis the data on its 1.3 billion users to sell individually targeted ads. Facebook’s rebuilt ad platform called Atlas (product tour) will allow marketers to tap its detailed knowledge of its users to direct ads to those people on thousands of other websites and mobile apps, while online ad giant Google is evaluating non-desktop alternatives to cookies as well.

The potential legal issues, experts say, stem in part from the Communications Act, which prohibits carriers from revealing identifying information about their customers or helping others to do so. That is at the heart of complaints by the EFF, which is contemplating a lawsuit or other action to stop Verizon, said one of the group’s lawyers, Nate Cardozo.

Tascam Portable Recorders Get WiFi

Today WiFi is in most modern cameras. Now Tascam has brought WiFi to portable audio recorders, enabling remote control from a smartphone, with instant uploading to the cloud and other features.

The Tascam DR-22WL ($149, two track) and DR-44WL ($299, four track) are Wi-Fi enabled portable audio recorders with stereo condenser microphone and multiple audio tracks. The DR-44WL can record both the internal microphones and through external XLR inputs simultaneously for a four-track recording.

The new WiFi feature works with free apps for iOS or Android devices. It provides control, file transfer and audio streaming to your smartphone. It connects with smartphones and other Wi-Fi devices directly. There is no need for a Wi-Fi router or other equipment.

You can start recording while on-stage or from anywhere in the room, while setting trim levels and check meters to make sure the transport is running. Any of the recording controls can be controlled over Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi transmission range is about 65 feet (20m) – well beyond the reach of infrared remotes – so the recorder can be placed wherever the recording sounds best. Audio can also be streamed over Wi-Fi to check the recording. Plug headphones into your smartphone and listen to a near-realtime feed from the remote recorder.

At the end of a performance, you can transfer recordings to your phone and instantly upload them to SoundCloud, Facebook, even email directly to fans.

Like Wi-Fi, perhaps audio recorders will soon sprout multiple inputs using microphone arrays. Here’s MIT’s Microphone Array Switching Demo using 1000 microphone elements that allow beam-forming and audio tracking in a crowded room with many people talking.

Who knows, perhaps digital signal processing chips like the Movidius Myriad 2, designed for computational photography, may soon provide audio surveillence from drones.

Amazon Announces Voice Activated Personal Assistant

Amazon is building a speaker that’s controlled with your voice called Echo. It will start shipping in the coming weeks.

Echo is always connected to the cloud and will provide information, music, news, weather, and more whenever you ask for it. It’s essentially a Siri-like personal assistant — but inside a speaker. The built-in voice recognition can hear users from across the room.

Seven microphones use beam-forming to pinpoint your voice and filter out background noise, including background music, in order to better understand requests. The speaker also produces 360-degree audio. It can play music from Amazon Prime Music, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn Plus. And it’s fully Bluetooth compatible, making playback from Spotify and Pandora possible. The device comes to life when you say the wake word, “Alexa.”

Features include:

  • News, weather, and information: Hear up-to-the-minute weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn.
  • Music: Listen to your Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.
  • Alarms, timers, and lists: Stay on time and organized with voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists.
  • Questions and answers: Get information from Wikipedia, definitions, answers to common questions, and more.

It’s $199, but Prime members will be able to buy it for $99 for a limited time.

AT&T & Verizon Work Toward VoLTE Interoperability

Verizon and AT&T are working to enable Voice over LTE interoperability, reports Fierce Wireless. The two carriers said they are going to enable VoLTE-to-VoLTE connections in 2015. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) was devised to standardise a method for transferring voice over LTE data networks.

According to a Verizon blog post, engineers from both companies will start with lab testing and then move to field trials next year. Verizon said customers will have a seamless experience making VoLTE HD Voice calls between the two networks as well as other Rich Communications Services (RCS) such as video calls, rich messaging and more.

T-Mobile, meanwhile, has VoLTE available in more than a dozen cities (with the proper phone), and has been testing interoperability, with interop agreements with VerizonWireless and Sprint since May, notes John Legere.

AT&T introduced VoLTE services in its initial markets earlier this year, and will continue to expand to more devices and more markets across the United States. “Interoperability of VoLTE between wireless carriers is crucial to a positive customer experience,” said Krish Prabhu, president, AT&T Labs and Chief Technology Officer, AT&T.

Currently, to experience Verizon’s VoLTE service both parties on a call need to be using a VoLTE-enabled Verizon smartphone. AT&T’s VoLTE-enabled HD Voice service lets customers only make HD Voice calls with other AT&T customers using AT&T HD Voice-capable devices within AT&T HD Voice coverage areas.

An additional requirement for VoLTE enabled networks is to have a means to handing back to circuit switched legacy networks in a seamless manner, while only having one transmitting radio in the handset to preserve battery life. A system known as Single Radio Voice Call Continuity (SRVCC) is required for this. Handover from LTE to the legacy network is required when the user moves out of the LTE coverage area.

The benefit to wireless operators is more-efficient use of their network resources, explains C/Net’s Maggie Reardon. VoLTE benefits for consumers include faster call setup times (twice as fast as a non-VoLTE call setup), LTE data speeds while you are on a call, and HD Voice service with greater call quality.

Amazon: $115 in Paid Apps Free this Halloween

Amazon is promoting some $115 in paid apps this Halloween for Android devices at the Amazon Appstore. You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app. The offer is good through November 1.

Here are some of the highlights, including their usual price:

You’ll first need to install Amazon’s Appstore Android app on your Android device, however. The offer is good through November 1.

Greenbot also has roundup of the best Halloween apps and spooky games from Humble Bundle.