Google Fiber Going Wireless?

Google has applied to the FCC for permission to begin wireless spectrum tests in the San Francisco area. According to Reuters, the company’s looking into a rarely-used millimeter wave frequency that is capable of transmitting large amounts of data, but only if the receiving equipment is in the line-of-sight.

Google reportedly may offer a fast wireless service in markets where it offers Google Fiber Internet and TV service. By beaming Internet services directly into homes, Google would open a new path now dominated by Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.

The Google wireless test, beginning Nov. 13, will apparently include three sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, including one in San Mateo county and two locations a half-mile apart which appear to be on Google’s Mountain View, California campus. It will use the 5.8 GHz frequency, the 24.2 GHz frequency and the millimeter wave bands of 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz, according to the application.

The FCC’s meeting on Friday discussed the use of wireless spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile services, including ways the agency can facilitate the development and deployment of technology. Their Notice on Inquiry looks at utilizing frequencies above 24 GHz for mobile use and “5G” applications. The FCC also adopted a Report and Order to facilite and clarify the use of public infrastructure for wireless transmitters.

Google bought Alpental Technologies in June, a stealthy Seattle startup led by ex-Clearwire researchers. Apparently Alpental will utilize 60 GHz 802.11ad and mesh networking.

The FCC loosened some rules governing the 60GHz band last year, saying that it could be used to provide wireless connections of up to a mile at speeds up to seven gigabits per second.

A wireless broadband network is cheaper than fiber. Rather than digging up roads and laying cables to each individual home, transmitters on nearby buildings could enable Google to bring Gigabit internet to more places in less time. Craig Barratt, the former Atheros Communications CEO, is now head of the Google Access and Energy division. He signed off as the authorized person submitting Google’s FCC application.

Goodyear Blimp Gets Competition

The Goodyear Blimp is often in the sky at major television events, and with the launch of a new Goodyear Blimp in August (Wingfoot One), Goodyear officials expect their fleet of three blimps to cover 160 events in 2014.

Doug Grassian, senior manager for airship communications at Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, explained the television operations to TV Technology.

On site at the event, the crew sets up microwave gear that carries signals from the ship to the network television production truck. They generally test the system out a day before the event.

The typical equipment complement starts with an Axsys Technologies’ Cineflex V14 gyro-stabilized pan/tilt head that can also rotate. The Cineflex V14 has an integrated Sony HDC-1500 camera and Fujinon 9.7×42 lens with a 2X extender.

Inside the ship, there’s a Sony PVM-1741A HD monitor and a Tektronix WFM5200 waveform monitor for the camera operator. A Sony PDW-HD1500 HD video recorder captures the feed for safe-keeping.

For the microwave downlink, Goodyear uses Janteq and Nucomm microwave transmitters and receivers, with Gigawave antennas picking up the signal at the production truck.

The balloon-like body of the airship – the “envelope” – is made of polyester with an innovative film from DuPont™ called Tedlar, surrounding a semi-rigid internal structure, which differentiates this airship from previous Goodyear blimps. The new airship can do up to 73 mph, which means it can cover more ground, and more events, than the older 50-mph models.

Wingfoot One replaces the Spirit of Goodyear that was retired.

Helicopters like the the all-new Cabri G2 may soon give small helicopters like the Robinson R-22 and R-44 some serious competition.

The company has also signed a deal with Eurocopter to develop an unmanned variant. An unmanned demonstration used a four-dimensional flight plan that was uploaded to the helicopter.

Another competitor, the Enstrom 480B-G, is equipped with the Garmin G1000H glass cockpit.

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The cost/effectiveness of drones will be hard to top for many applications. They can now be equipped with Lidar, Flir, tiny hyperspectral cameras and 360 degree cameras (videos).

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Of course FAA rules allowing coverage over public areas is still in the works.

EE UK: Quad Play Video Service

EE, the UK’s largest mobile operator, with 775,000 subs, is moving into TV services, providing on-demand audio and video. EE has launched its own TV service, offering live and recorded content which can be viewed on TVs, mobile devices and tablets via a set-top box. EE, formerly Everything Everywhere, is a 50:50 joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

Their smart TV box is said to be worth £300 but will be free for all EE mobile customers who sign up to an EE Broadband (landline) plan. The EE TV app enables smartphones to be used as remotes for controlling content broadcast from the TV box.

The EE television service will offer 70 Freeview channels, a 24-hour replay service and extra on-demand and catch-up TV channels, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, Daily Motion and Wuaki.tv. The set-top box contains a one terabyte (TB) hard disk, which the firm said could store up to 25 days worth of standard definition content and five days worth of high-definition shows.

“Today we’re taking EE somewhere completely new. We’re going to introduce EE TV, a personal TV that puts mobile at heart of the home TV experience,” EE CEO Olaf Swantee said.

The service will be free with EE’s home broadband and landline packages, but will cost from £9.95 per month for EE mobile customers. The replay and recording features help in differentiating it from similar offerings by BT or Netflix. Vodafone has also been pursuing a similar quadplay strategy in other European markets.

The launch of the service brings EE into competition with the likes of Virgin Media and BT, which will reportedly launch consumer mobile services in the first quarter of the next year.

BT’s plan is to undercut mobile operators by enabling calls and data use via its 5.4 million wifi hotspots instead of 4G networks. BT also bought a ton of 2.6 GHz spectrum in the UK’s auction last year, as did Vodafone and EE.

Some 13 years ago, BT spun off their cellular holdings to O2. BT is now expected to entice customers by offering full packages covering broadband, TV, mobile and fixed line phone services using its 2.6 GHz frequency, and re-enter the consumer mobile market.

EE TV tech specs

  • 4 HD (high definition) tuners – DVB (digital video broadcasting) – T2
  • 1 terabyte hard drive
  • Dual-band WiFi (2.4/5 gigahertz)
  • 1 gigabit per second ethernet
  • Latest Broadcom processor (3000 DMIPS)
  • Full home broadband TV support

The EE television service allows users to watch different programmes on a TV and up to three smartphones or tablets at the same time via a set-top box. It also provides the option to record four programmes simultaneously, with the set-top box having a 1TB capacity. EE TV is free with EE’s home broadband and landline packages which start at £9.95 per month for EE mobile customers, who will receive an increased data allowance to support the service.

There are plans to enable the EE TV service on EE’s 4G network in the future, with video content already accounting for more than half of the data traffic on EE’s 4G network.

Olaf Swantee, the CEO of EE, said that as the UK’s largest and fastest network, EE has “unrivalled insight into people’s changing viewing habits”, which helped it to create “a service that has mobile at its heart, and makes the TV experience more personal than ever before”.

The launch of the service brings EE into competition with the likes of Virgin Media, Vodafone and BT.

The UK has decided to break the 190 MHz-wide band of 2.6 GHz frequencies into two groups, 140 MHz of paired frequencies and 50 MHz of unpaired.

United Kingdom has a total of 80 million subscribers, with a 130.55% penetration rate. Mobile operators in the UK include:

French upstart telecommunications company Iliad, which is known as “Free Mobile” in France, made an initial offer for T-Mobile US, which was rejected. It is broadly expected to have another go at T-Mobile US, shortly.

Iliad’s French operator Free Mobile, launched in 2012, built their own 2.6 GHz network to cover at least 25% of the French population. Free is now the second largest ISP in the country.

Free offers 20 GB/mo 4G service along with unlimited voice and messaging for $US27/month. The Freebox Revolution router, which delivers a triple play of broadband, TV and landline telephone calls to Iliad’s 6 million subscribers.

More than 8 million consumers flocked to Free Mobile as Orange and France’s two other wireless operators, Vivendi’s SFR and Bouygues suffered steep declines in sales. In April, Vivendi vacated the market altogether by selling SFR to Luxembourg-based Altice in a deal valued at 17 billion euros, reports Bloomberg.

Could any Comcast, Google, Netflix or Amazon launch a quad-play start-up in the United States and blow up mobile, broadband and cable in one shot? I’ll take you there.

First you’d need a chunk of 600 MHz (for voice and mobile data), a chunk of 2.6 GHz, and then some 5 GHz (free) WiFi spectrum. Dish, Google and CBS would be a good partnership. Billboards and street furniture could be the infrastructure to hang it on.

How hard could it be. AT&T plans to buy one 10 x 10 block at 600 Mhz for $9 billion. Add 40MHz at 2.6GHz for $1.5 billion and $6 billion for infrastructure. And you’re done.

Will mobile ad revenue make wireless a practical option for greenfield operators like Google? Who knows. Somebody is running the numbers.

Related Dailywireless articles include; UK Auction Winner Announced, UK Begins 800/2.6GHz Auction Process, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, Ofcom: LTE This Year for Everything, Everywhere, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, UK Spectrum Auction: Delayed Again?, UK Spectrum Auction: Legal Threat from 02UK?, UK Delays 4G Auction, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi, Europe’s Digital Divide Auction, German 4G Auction: It’s Done,

FCC Prepares for AWS-3 and 600 MHz Spectrum Auctions

The FCC claims there are no limitations on bidding eligibility for the upcoming AWS-3 auction, scheduled to start on Nov. 13th. The AWS auction will be the most significant airwaves auction since the 700 MHz auction in 2008. Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as Dish Network are on the list of bidders released by the FCC. A total of 80 entities submitted initial applications.

There is currently 50 megahertz of spectrum set to be auctioned off for commercial services in those proceedings, which have garnered interest from most commercial operators. The spectrum license will include three 5×5 megahertz options, leaving just a single 10×10 megahertz license covering the country.

The FCC adopted rules to allocate another 15 MHz and license the 1695-1710 MHz band for uplink/mobile operations on an unpaired shared basis with incumbent Federal meteorological-satellite (MetSat) data users.

RCR Wireless News spoke with CCA President and CEO Steve Berry at the Competitive Carrier event in Las Vegas to get his view on how the FCC was handling the auction proceedings.

In July, the FCC and the NTIA issued a 43-page public notice outlining coordination procedures for the AWS-3 bands.

Meanwhile, FCC continues to make progress on crafting rules for the planned 600 MHz incentive auction (pdf), this week rolling out an information package (pdf) targeted at television broadcasters, RCR Wireless News.

The auction is scheduled for mid-year 2015, but several parties, including the National Association of Broadcasters, have challenged the auction in court, which could potentially push back that timetable.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has said the greatest challenge for the planned 600 MHz incentive auction process will be in convincing broadcasters to participate in the “reverse” auction process, noting at a recent speech that the opportunity was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to garner financial compensation for underutilized airwaves.

NAB’s members say they will lose coverage area during the auction’s repacking and reassignment process, or be forced to participate in the auction (and relinquish broadcast spectrum rights),” the NAB lawsuit stated.

Broadcasting & Cable calculated $38 billion would wind up in TV broadcasters pockets after the FCC funded the FirstNet emergency responder network and paid the auction costs as well as the TV stations moving expenses as they relocated to new frequencies.

The auction is estimated to generate as much as $45 billion. Some $19.5 billion was raised in the 2008 auction of 700 MHz spectrum. But the 2008 auction was for nearly half the spectrum and before the smartphone’s huge impact on bandwidth.

Wheeler took to the stage at the recent Competitive Carriers Association and CTIA trade shows to encourage mobile operators to participate in the 600 MHz proceedings, which are currently scheduled to begin in mid-2015.

If everything does goes according to the FCC’s plans, about 100 MHz of airwaves would be freed up for commercial mobile broadband services like LTE. The remaining 26 MHz would become guard bands between broadcasters and uplink and downlink transmissions, but that spectrum would also be made available for white space broadband uses.

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

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LTE Multicast Tested by 16 Operators

A new report from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association says sixteen operators, spanning 13 countries, are currently trialing LTE Multicast, also called eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services. LTE Multicast allows wireless operators to broadcast live video over their LTE networks to multiple users simultaneously.

Today’s unicast streams require a dedicated channel for each user and can easily overload the network. Major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, are good candidates for LTE Multicast.

AT&T, Verizon and Dish networks all own 700 MHz frequencies and are likely to utilize those frequencies for LTE broadcast.

Verizon has 98% of the country covered with LTE, with some 55% of customers now on it, generating almost 79% of the company’s data usage.

Other technologies, such as Qualcomm’s defunct MediaFLO, DVB-H, ATSC-M/H
or ISDB-Tmm, use a dedicated television channel to transmit data. LTE Multicast uses cellular channels so no special antenna or tuner is required.

Tablet TV offers a free over the air DVR-type service jointly financed by Granite Broadcasting and Motive Television, a London-based television software and services company. Rechargeable “T-Pods” capture the over-the-air digital TV signals and retransmit them to tablets using their own Wi-Fi signal. They are nearing a beta launch in the Bay area. Tablet TV will allow users to watch and record live over-the-air HDTV signals and will also allow on-demand packages for downloading in conjunction with local broadcasters—all without a cellular connection.

South Korea’s KT Corp. launched the first commercial service in January of this year and remains the only operator with an actual commercial service. Now, however, it’s joined by operators in Australia, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, South Korea, UAE, UK and the US, all of which are at least trialing the technology currently.

During the World Cup, Brazil welcomed over 1.5 million tourists and over 3.3 million fans watched the games live. They used smartphones, laptops, tablets, and even smart watches and glasses to access the Internet, updating Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and WeChat. They shared in real time every twist and turn of each game by uploading pictures and video clips or chatting.

Streaming television to multiple users may seem like it has limited appeal in the age of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. But perhaps streaming providers could, in essence, create their own “networks” by leasing cellular channels for wireless delivery.

LTE Multicast may come into its own for data delivery. Imagine multi-player games played on a massive scale. Amazon’s purchase of Twitch this week for nearly $1 billion, a case in point.

In addition to the shared transmission capability, the two-way capability of the eMBMS system allows users to dynamically interact with the broadcast network.

Parks Associates said about 61 percent of all U.S. homes with high-speed Internet own at least one tablet, and found that the weekly video viewing time on tablets has increased from an average of a half hour in 2012 to 1.3 hours this year.

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