Hotspot 2.0 Streamlines New User Accounts

The Wi-Fi Alliance has expanded its Passpoint program, which provides seamless connection and WPA2 security, to include a streamlined method to establish new user accounts and connect Wi-Fi-only devices.

The WiFi Alliance is a non-profit trade organization formed to provide interoperability between device and promote the benefits of WiFi. The new features in Passpoint are particularly valuable to mobile and fixed operators, and open opportunities for other sectors, says the organization.

“Wi-Fi-first” business models have provided a disruptive counterpoint to traditional operator services, and retailers are deploying Wi-Fi as a way to improve customer engagement, says The Alliance. Wi-Fi roaming agreements among service providers are emerging as an important complement to traditional cellular roaming.

“Enthusiasm for Passpoint from both mobile and fixed operators continues to mount, and the strategic value of Passpoint extends into new segments as well,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of Wi-Fi Alliance. “What makes the new features exciting is that they empower businesses to realize the powerful commercial impact that Wi-Fi can offer by giving them the ability to engage with customers on a new platform in a secure and streamlined fashion.”

Passpoint was launched in 2012 and is based on Wi-Fi Alliance’s Hotspot 2.0 Technical Specification. Fixed and mobile operators, including Boingo, Orange, SK Telecom, and Time Warner Cable. More than 20 operators are now participating in Wi-Fi roaming trials based on Passpoint.

The Passpoint program expansion builds on its foundational authentication and security mechanisms, adding features that make Passpoint more versatile and scalable:

  • Online sign-up and immediate account provisioning: Passpoint now enables a streamlined process to establish a new user account at the point of access.
  • Secure registration: The process of establishing a new account or connecting a second device takes place securely.
  • Operator policy: Passpoint now includes the capability for service providers to distribute their specific subscriber policies, such as which networks to join and in what order of preference.

The Passpoint certification program test suite includes support from Aruba Networks, Broadcom, Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, Marvell, MediaTek, Qualcomm Atheros, and Ruckus Wireless.

New Outdoor & Indoor 11ac Access Points from Ruckus

Ruckus Wireless announced today the expansion of its line of Smart 802.11ac ZoneFlex access points with the launch of four new models.

The expanded lineup includes the new Ruckus ZoneFlex R500 (2×2:2) and ZoneFlex R600 (3×3:3) indoor dual-band (2.4/5 GHz) mid-range models.

The two new Ruckus outdoor APs are the ZoneFlex T300 Series with 802.11ac, the ZoneFlex T300e omnidirectional, which includes support for optional external 5 GHz antennas, and the ZoneFlex T301s, a 120 degree sectorized beam model with a sector adaptive antenna.

The dual-band indoor and outdoor 802.11ac APs integrate patented Ruckus BeamFlex+ technology for better performance and interference mitigation, as well as ChannelFly for predictive channel selection based on real-time capacity analysis. Ruckus says the new outdoor ZoneFlex T300 Series APs feature the industry’s smallest and lightest form factors.

“Our new indoor, mid-range APs are exceptional, high-performance options for deployments in small to mid-size retail businesses, branch offices of large enterprises, hotel common areas, classrooms and libraries, delivering best-in-class performance and reliability at competitive prices,” said Greg Beach, vice president of Product Management. “Our ZoneFlex T300 outdoor APs provide more flexibility for customers desiring carrier-class, high-capacity, high-density outdoor 11ac Smart Wi-Fi radio technology.”

Both the new ZoneFlex R500 and R600 APs can be powered by a standard Power over Ethernet (PoE) 802.3af and are easily concealed. Dual-band support allows for concurrent Internet and IP-based video services; wired ports that enable easy connections to laptops, VoIP phones, cash registers, printers, and other business devices, and; multiple SSIDs for differentiated user services.

The ZoneFlex T300e and T301s are lighter than other outdoor 802.11ac APs, and are among the smallest outdoor 802.11ac APs on the market.

The ZoneFlex T300e includes all of the features of the T300 model, plus offers the ability to attach a wide variety of external 5 GHz antennas.

It’s designed for mounting on poles, street corners, and rooftops, where the AP is remote from antennas or where the AP requires custom engineered RF coverage.

The ZoneFlex T301s has a sector adaptive antenna that is designed specifically for providing the best coverage and capacity at wider 120 degree sectors and can be mounted on poles and exterior walls. Both models are easy to install, and support co-location operation with distributed antenna systems (DAS) and small cell radios.

All four of these new Ruckus APs also feature 802.3af Power over Ethernet (PoE), support up to 500 clients each, and can operate as a standalone AP, or be centrally managed by a Ruckus ZoneDirector controller, or Ruckus SmartCell Gateway (SCG) 200 or virtual SmartCell Gateway (vSCG) for maximum scalability.

Ruckus Smart Wireless Services with Cloud-based Smart Wi-Fi include: the Ruckus Smart Positioning Technology (SPoT™) service, a Cloud-based location-based service; the Ruckus Smart Access Management Service (SAMs) for better enabling public Wi-Fi hotspots; and the virtual SmartCell Gateway, a carrier-grade Network Virtualization solution for mobile network operators (MNOs) and multiple system operators (MSOs).

The ZoneFlex R500 indoor 802.11ac AP has an MSRP of $645 (USD), and the ZoneFlex R600 indoor 802.11ac AP has an MSRP of $795 (USD). The ZoneFlex T300e outdoor 802.11ac AP has an MSRP of $1,395 (USD), and the ZoneFlex T301s outdoor AP has an MSRP of $1,495 (USD). All four will be available worldwide in Q4 2014 through authorized Ruckus Big Dog resellers.

Samsung Adds Nokia Maps to Phone and Watch

Nokia’s Here Maps are coming to Samsung Android and Tizen phones, report Engadget. Nokia’s maps work offline, so no celluar connection is required once regional maps are downloaded to the device. HERE for Android will let you download entire countries and regions, much like TomTom, or OpenStreetMap-powered alternatives such as Skobbler (now owned by Telenav).

Nokia (the part that wasn’t sold to Microsoft) today announced that it will bring Here Maps to Android for the first time, giving Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners advanced access to its own Google Maps alternative. The Korean smartphone maker has an existing deal to provide Nokia’s Here Maps to their Tizen wearables, such as the 3G-enabled Gear S smartwatch, which goes on sale in October.

By tapping on your location in HERE for Android, you can send a Glympse notice to friends to let them know you’re on your way. Glympse is a free and simple way to share your location in real time with people you trust.

On the Samsung Gear S, HERE is powering an application called Navigator, which offers turn-by-turn walk navigation and public transit routing. The app provides a complete stand-alone experience, including the ability to store map data locally on the device and use it offline for navigation, directions and search.

To get the most out of Navigator on a Samsung Gear S watch, you can also pair it with a the HERE app (beta) which works with the Samsung Galaxy family of devices. With the app you can plan and calculate routes for walking and public transit on your phone and then send them to your smartwatch. The app will be made available for download from the Samsung GALAXY Apps store when the Samsung Gear S hits stores.

If you go online you can use more advanced features, like live traffic and real-time transit schedules. You can also share the places you find with family and friends and save your favorite destinations into Collections that can be synced with other devices and here.com.

Samsung also announced today a partnership with NIKE, introducing the Nike+ Running App for Samsung Gear S watch/phone. The app utilizes the new Samsung Gear S’ built-in Bluetooth and 3G connectivity. With the pre-loaded Nike+ Running App on the Samsung Gear S, users can leave their phones at home.

A Nike+ app for Android was released earlier this summer, although there is no Android Wearable support yet.

State Fair Apps

The Minnesota State Fair has seen data usage on Verizon’s wireless network increase 156 percent compared to the first four days of the 2013 state fair. The State Fair runs through Labor Day and is expected to draw 1.8 million people.

The Minnesota State Fair created a mobile website and a mobile app to help navigate the massive event. In addition, most of the vendors are promoting their booths via social media.

In anticipation of the increased usage, Verizon Wireless boosted its data capacity more than 300 percent by increasing its mobile cell sites from four in 2013 to six and adding more 4G LTE data capacity with the addition of its XLTE network which utilizes Verizon’s AWS spectrum.

State Fair apps for Android and IOS are an obvious application. Crowdsourcing Labor Day Adventures in state and national parks is helped with Crowdflower mapping. Visualized on Mode Analytics, the map lets you sort by activity and links to official websites, Wikipedia, TripAdvisor and Yelp pages.

Fifty years ago, at the 1964 World’s Fair, plans for industrial farming on the seafloor and a machine for cutting down the rain forest to build roads were exhibited.

A world’s fair today would be different, says Paul Saffo, on NPR. Now the new and innovative is just a mouse click away.

Digital Life in 2025, from Pew Research, predicted state control, reduced public trust, and increased commercialisation of every aspect of web culture. Saffo says today’s fair would be about questions. Instead of showcasing ways to build roads through the rain forest, the fair would ask: How do we save the forest? How can we preserve the oceans? Are we, as a species, capable of understanding how our minds work?

One way to get people to go to a world’s fair today, Saffo says, would be to crowdsource it. Make it like a real-world version of Wikipedia. Today’s fair might be a lot like Burning Man.

Expo 2010, in Shanghai China was a major World Expo, the first since 1992, with over 73 million people attending – a world record. China Mobile exhibited LTE-Advanced at the fair for the first time.

Computational photography chips like the Movidius Myriad 2 may enable Streetview video with fast, efficient OpenVX computer vision algorithms for body and gesture tracking, object and scene reconstruction, and augmented reality. Sounds of Street View lets you create 3D sound experiences in a street view environment.

A virtualized World’s Fair may be an idea whose time has come. Stargates might provide free gateways though a Twitch stream. Local VR headsets could provide full immersion.

Spacemaker VR was an (unsuccessful) Kickstarter project for Oculus Rift walk-throughs. 3D modeling programs like 3dS Max, Blender, LightWave, Sketchup, Revit, Autocad and many others can create and export 3D models.

Unity is a cross-platform game creation system used to develop video games for web sites, desktops, consoles, and mobile devices. Unity3D and similar products such as the Unreal Engine and CryEngine helped democratize game development, making the kinds of tools used by the world’s largest game companies available to developers at little or no cost.

There are lots of free tools for Android App Design. Google’s Material Design provides a framework for responsive (crossplatform) design.

Google Cardboard is here today. Essentially, it’s a cardboard housing for a smartphone. You get a $10 lens kit, about $7 in off-the-shelf magnets, $3 worth of velcro, a rubber band, and an easily programmable $1.50 Near-Field Communication sticker tag for launching the companion mobile app. It lets you cruise through a landscape or city street in Google Earth, watch YouTube videos in a virtual theater or Chrome Experiments, visiting the Great Barrier Reef in a helicopter, or riding a roller coaster.

Screw the World’s Fair. Let’s travel along the Champs-Élysées tonight!

OnBeep: StarTrek Communicator?

OnBeep, a San Francisco startup, has raised a series A funding round worth $6.25 million. The money will be used to fund the creation of a new hardware device to make it easy for groups of people to communicate with one another, without having to fiddle with a smartphone.

OnBeep’s product is said to be similar to a “Star Trek” communicator, according to GeekWire. Users can wear it or clip it on, and be able to immediately get a hold of people they want to reach.

The company will combine wearables, bluetooth and smartphones to offer push-to-talk (PTT) capabilities, according to GigaOm.

OnBeep is built to help groups communicate with one another in real time, like families at an amusement park, or a team of people working on an event.

In order to communicate with the outside world, the OnBeep will pair with a user’s smartphone. The company isn’t ready to release exact details on what the device looks like or how much it will cost, but insists it will be available later this year.

OnBeep was co-founded by Jesse Robbins, Greg Albrecht, who previously served as a Senior Software Engineer at Splunk, and Roger Wood, who led product design and marketing for Nextel.

Push-to-Talk Apps can turn your Smartphone into a Walkie-Talkie, notes ReadWrite. Cellular carriers also offer PTT functionality, although these software solutions are generally not as fast as the now obsolete and mostly unavailable Nextel Network which used the iDEN infrastructure (Integrated Digital Enhanced Network) for Push-To-Talk.

Vocera Communications Badge is a lightweight, voice-controlled, wearable device that enables instant two-way or one to many conversations using intuitive and simple commands.

It uses WiFi to communicate, but requires everyone be on a compatible WiFi network. It’s often used in medical facilities.

Using unlicensed 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz frequencies results in very limited range, unless multiple WiFi routers are linked. But 150 Mhz may be used for device to device communications.

GoTenna has developed a 6-inch-long antenna that connects to iPhones and Android phones via Bluetooth low energy. The antenna then transmits the data to other GoTennas as far as 9 miles away through proprietary protocols, at 151-154 MHz.

You can send text messages up to 160 characters as well as share your location on offline maps. The gadget is available for preorder at $150 for two devices, since it takes two devices to form a peer-to-peer network.

GoTenna uses the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), an unlicensed personal radio service in the 150 MHz band. The goTenna is dependent on FCC approval and is currently undergoing FCC testing. If it doesn’t pass, money would be refunded, says the company. According to GoTenna, you can send & receive messages for free for several miles, without using a cell antenna.

The 150 MHz VHF band, used by the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), propagates well outdoors. The 450 MHz UHF band is used by the Family Radio Service (FRS) has a maximum output of 500 mW while the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS uses the lower 7 channels of FRS, in the 462 MHz range, with a maximum of 5 watts ERP. It requires a valid GMRS license, but propagates better in buildings and urban areas.

Standalone SIM-enabled smartwatches, that don’t need pairing with a cellphone to make a call, are likely to be coming from Samsung and others this year. Currently, Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone enables cellular connectivity while pairing with something like a GoAntenna may enable direct device to device connectivity (in the 150 or 450 MHz band).

Unlicensed white spaces, between 500-700 MHz, might be another option for device to device communications. Unlicensed LTE Advanced using the 5 GHz band, may also offer direct connections without going through a cell tower. Device-to-device connections is getting baked into the latest LTE-Advanced standard, and is especially useful for first responders.

Release 12, with Device to Device communications is slated for finalization this December.

See: GoAntenna: 10 Mile Cell Communications – Without Towers and Vocera + Wayport

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Network Proposed for United States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking input about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, which would let cars automatically exchange information, such as whether they’re close to each other.

On Monday, the NHTSA published a research report and issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) in hopes of collecting a lot of feedback before issuing a full NPRM in 2016.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the technology holds the potential to significantly reduce crashes, injuries and deaths on the nation’s streets and highways.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications utilizes a wireless network where automobiles send messages to each other. Traffic signals or other stationary devices are called V2I, or vehicle to infrastructure.

A transponder would continually transmit the vehicle’s position, heading, speed and other information 10 times per second in all directions. It has a range around 1000 feet or about 10 seconds at highway speeds.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications uses dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), using the 5.9GHz band, which is close to the new, higher power 5 GHz WiFi band authorized by the FCC. Proposed FCC rules would increase power for the U-NII-3 band–5.725-5.850 MHz, but it is drawing heavy criticism from highway advocates and wireless ISPs. The highway administration is concerned about possible DSRC interference from more powerful outdoor WiFi in the adjacent 5 GHz band.

The Association of Global Automakers has expressed concerns about more power in the adjacent 5 GHz WiFi band.

The TIA believes that the FCC acted correctly to promote use of the 5 GHz band by unlicensed devices, including allowing operations up to 5850 MHz which is adjacent to the automakers’ DSRC / U-NII-4 spectrum (5850-5925 MHz)

V2V would be a mesh network, meaning every node (car, smart traffic signal, etc.) could send, capture and retransmit signals. Five to 10 hops on the network would gather traffic conditions a mile ahead. That’s enough time for even the most distracted driver to take his foot off the gas. On the first cars, V2V warnings might come to the driver as an alert, perhaps a red light that flashes in the instrument panel, or an amber then red alert for escalating problems.

The intelligent highway communications network (using the 5.9 GHz band) is not directly connected to a car’s infotainment system which uses Bluetooth, WiFi and 4G commercial networks for passenger entertainment.

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.

Here’s My Proposal for self-driving cars in Portland. See Dailywireless stories on Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Moving Forward?, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, 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