McDonald’s Gets Softcard

Softcard (formerly Isis), a mobile payment system that competes with Apple Pay and Google Wallet, announced today that it is accepted at more than 14,000 McDonald’s locations around the country beginning today. Smartphone owners can make NFC-based mobile payments at the register and the drive-thru at all McDonald’s restaurants. McDonald’s will also accept Apple Pay.

Last month, Subway also announced a partnership with Softcard to support mobile payments.

Softcard is free to download and is compatible with more than 80 Android handsets sold by AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless. Softcard combines payments, offers and loyalty in one app. Softcard uses the EMV Contactless specification and SmartTap technology to enable payments, offers and loyalty redemption through one tap.

Apple Pay saw more than one million card activations within 72 hours of launch, reports NFC World, and is already the leading NFC payments player in the US, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Cook outlined future growth plans for the service at the WS Journal D Live conference this week, including a potential partnership with Chinese ecommerce giant Alibaba.

US pharmacy chains Rite Aid and CVS plan to launch their own CurrentC mobile payment service in 2015, and have stopped accepting NFC payments, blocking mobile payments services like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and Softcard.

Unfortunately, CurrentC is now warning people that hackers have already swiped some of the beta tester’s email addresses.

Mobile proximity payments have to date proven lacklustre despite the hundreds of millions spent on developing these platforms. But loyalty rewards and benefits of the digital wallet is now seen by many as potentially the killer app that will help to finally ignite the long simmering mobile proximity payment market.

Ovum’s research indicates that 53% of consumers globally report they’ve either used or are interested in redeeming offers and coupons with their handsets, while 44% have used or are interested using their mobile device to pay for things in store and restaurants, explains Gilles Ubaghs, Senior Analyst, Financial Services Technology at Ovum.

FTC Sues AT&T Over “Unlimited” Plan

The U.S. government sued AT&T Inc on Tuesday, alleging the No. 2 U.S. wireless carrier sold consumers unlimited data plans but would reduce their Internet speeds once they exceeded a certain amount of data.

The Federal Trade Commission said this throttling of Internet feeds was deceptive and that in some cases data speeds were slowed by nearly 90 percent.

FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said that AT&T wanted to retain longtime customers and so allowed them to buy unlimited data plans, in some cases after new customers were no longer offered unlimited plans. Then they unilaterally changed the terms, she said.

“They stopped providing the service that customers understood they had purchased when they entered into their contract,” she said. “Customers would be subject to an early termination fee if they wanted to get out of their existing contract.”

AT&T called the allegations “baseless” and said the practice was needed to manage network resources.

“We have been completely transparent with customers since the very beginning,” said Wayne Watts, AT&T’s general counsel. “This program has affected only about 3 percent of our customers, and before any customer is affected, they are also notified by text message.”

More than 3.5 million customers with legacy unlimited data plans had their Internet speeds slowed more than 25 million times by AT&T’s practice, which began in October 2011, the FTC said.

The mobile industry in the United States has commonly used the term “unlimited” to mean whatever they want. Today, “unlimited” often means LTE speed is limited to around 4GB/month, then throttled down to 3G speeds or below.

Prepaid data plans now offer LTE services and a broad range of plans — with no 2 year committment.

Verizon Wireless, a predominately postpaid company, offers a prepaid brand, AllSet, but offers only one smartphone plan, a couple of feature phone plans, and different tablet and mobile hotspot options, reports Fierce Wireless.

At the other end of the spectrum TracFone, a subsidiary of América Móvil, operates as an MVNO, buying wholesale voice and data from all four Tier 1 carriers. TracFone is 100 percent prepaid with over seven brands, including Telcel America, Simple Mobile, Page Plus, Net10, and Straight Talk, all with multiple plan levels.

Sprint prepaid brands include Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile while T-Mobile has MetroPCS and GoSmart Mobile monthly plans. The AT&T-branded GoPhone includes Leap Wireless‘ 4.5 million Cricket customers which compete directly against MetroPCS, Boost and Virgin Mobile without using its brand.

Mimosa Networks: Outdoor Multi-User MIMO

Mimosa Networks, a pioneer in gigabit wireless technology, has announced a new suite of outdoor 802.11ac 4×4 access points and client devices, to create “the world’s highest capacity low-cost outdoor solution and the first with MU-MIMO”. It’s targeting Wireless ISPs and enterprises, but their products won’t be available until Summer/Fall 2015.

Currently most 802.11ac access points use Single User MIMO where every transmission is sent to a single destination only. Other users have to wait their turn. Multi-User MIMO lets multiple clients use a single channel. MU-MIMO applies an extended version of space-division multiple access (SDMA) to allow multiple transmitters to send separate signals and multiple receivers to receive separate signals simultaneously in the same band.

With advanced RF isolation and satellite timing services (GPS and GLONASS), Mimosa collocates multiple radios using the same channel on a single tower while the entire network synchronizes to avoid self-interference.

Additionally, rather than relying on a traditional controller, the access platform takes advantage of Mimosa Cloud Services to seamlessly manage subscriber capacities and network-wide spectrum and interference mitigation.

“The next great advancement in the wireless industry will come from progress in spectrum re-use technology. To that extent, MU-MIMO is a powerful technology that enables simultaneous downlink transmission to multiple clients, fixed or mobile, drastically increasing network speed and capacity as well as spectrum efficiency,” said Jaime Fink, CPO of Mimosa. “Our products deliver immense capacity in an incredibly low power and lightweight package. This, coupled with MU-MIMO and innovative collocation techniques, allows our products to thrive in any environment or deployment scenario and in areas with extreme spectrum congestion.”

The A5 access points are available in 3 different options: A5-90 (90º Sector), High Gain A5-360 (360º Omni with 18 dBi gain) and Low Gain A5-360 (360º Omni with 14 dBi gain). The C5 Client device is small dish, available in 20 dBi gain. The B5c Backhaul leverages 802.11ac, 4×4:4 MIMO and is said to be capable of 1 Gbps throughput.

All four of the products will debut in wireless ISP networks in Summer/Fall 2015 and are currently available for pre-order on the Mimosa website. List Prices are: $1099 for A5-90, $999 for A5 360 18 dBi, $949 for A5 360 14 dBi, $99 for C5.

Mimosa Networks says the new FCC 5 GHz Rules Will Limit Broadband Delivery. New rules prohibit the use of the entire band for transmission, and instead require radios to avoid the edges of the band, severely limiting the amount of spectrum available for use (the FCC is trying to avoid interference with the 5.9 GHz band planned for transporation infrastructure and automobiles).

In addition, concerns about interference of Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (at 5600-5650 MHz) prompted the FCC to disallow the TDWR band. Attempting to balance the needs of all constituencies (pdf), the new FCC regulation adds 100 MHz of new outdoor spectrum (5150-5250 MHz), allowing 53 dBm EIRP for point-to-point links. At the same time, however, it disqualifies Part 15.247 and imposes the stringent emissions requirement of 15.407 ostensibly in order to avoid interference with radar.

Mimosa – along with WISPA and a number of other wireless equipment vendors – believes that the FCC’s current limits will hurt the usefulness of high gain point-to-point antennas. Mimosa wants FCC to open 10.0-10.5 GHz band for backhaul.

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
.

WifiForward released a new economic study (pdf) that finds unlicensed spectrum generated $222 billion in value to the U.S. economy in 2013 and contributed $6.7 billion to U.S. GDP. The new study provides three general conclusions about the impact of unlicensed spectrum, detailing the ways in which it makes wireline broadband and cellular networks more effective, serves as a platform for innovative services and new technologies, and expands consumer choice.

Additional Dailywireless spectrum news 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 Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, Samsung: Here Comes 60 GHz, 802.11ad, Cellular on Unlicensed Bands, FCC Opens 3.5 GHz for Shared Access, FCC Commissioner: Higher Power in Lower 5 GHz, FCC Authorizes High Power at 5.15 – 5.25 GHz

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.

Aerohive Announces Verizon LTE compliant WiFi Router

Aerohive Networks, a leader in controller-less Wi-Fi for the enterprise market, has introduced their Verizon-embedded LTE plus Wi-Fi branch router. The Aerohive BR200-LTE-VZ Router provides embedded Verizon 4G LTE capabilities. The turnkey solution allows granular control and security, with the ability to set up Quality of Service (QoS), time-of-day access schedules, firewall policies and web security settings.

Aerohive’s BR200 series comes in three models: the BR200, the BR200-WP (which includes PoE and 3×3 3 spatial stream), and the BR200-LTE-VZ which runs on the Verizon network. The BR200-LTE-VZ allows enterprises to instantly deploy Aerohive’s Personal Engagement Platform for retail, enabling retailers to prototype and test new loyalty solutions

Aerohive has been named a Gold-tier member of the Verizon Partner Program. The Verizon Partner Program tailors regional and national opportunities for systems integrators, value added resellers, agents and solutions providers.

Aerohive’s cloud-enabled wireless network can deliver a zero-touch, auto-provisioned network, complete with wired and wireless connectivity, for secure access.

Aerohive’s HiveManager Network Management System has the ability to manage devices from the cloud, so a central administrator can control wireless access remotely, regardless of where the routers are located. Corporate networks can then easily deploy secure, wireless networks and reduce complexity and time-to-operation of Wi-Fi deployments, says Aerohive.

Aerohive’s BR200-LTE-VZ router is available today and starts at $1,199 US list.

IDC predicts that the number of connected “things” will grow from 11.4 billion in 2014 to 28.1 billion in 2020. As a result, branch locations in industries ranging from hospitality to banking must be equipped to meet connectivity needs while ensuring secure, compliant access to corporate resources, says Aerohive.

New iPads Leaked

Apple appears to have accidentally spilled the beans about the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3, notes Engadget, which are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Cupertino’s tablets will apparently be getting Touch ID and burst shooting mode, which will be coming to the iPad Air 2, but not the mini 3, according to the document released by Mac 9to5. Besides the tweaked designs and Touch ID sensors, a gold color option, and a stronger A8X processor, improved camera optics, and new software can be expected at least on the new Air.

C/Net, ,9 to 5 Mac, Engadget and Twit.tv will have live coverage from Apple starting tomorrow at 10 am.