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.

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.

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.

Samsung: Here Comes 60 GHz, 802.11ad

Samsung Electronics today announced a 60GHz (802.11ad) Wi-Fi technology that enables data transmission speeds of up to 4.6Gbps, a five-fold increase from 866Mbps, using the 5 GHz band. The 60 GHz Wi-Fi technology will enable a 1 gigabyte movie to be transferred between devices in less than three seconds while allowing uncompressed high-definition videos to be streamed from mobile devices. Samsung likely to include WiGig as a differentiator in its Galaxy and
Note smartphones by the end of 2015, say industry observers.

Samsung says its 802.11ad technology eliminates co-channel interference, no matter how many devices are accessing network. Samsung also enhanced the overall signal quality by developing what they say is the world’s first micro beam-forming control technology that optimizes the communications module in 1/3,000 second increments.

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance (WiGig) was a trade association that developed and promoted the adoption of multi-gigabit speed wireless standards over the unlicensed 60 GHz frequency band. The alliance was subsumed by the Wi-Fi Alliance in March 2013.

Samsung notes there are challenges in commercializing 60 GHz Wi-Fi because millimeter waves that travel by line-of-sight and have weak propagation characteristics that will be easily blocked by walls.

Chipsets supporting 60GHz 802.11ad are coming from a variety of sources including Qualcomm, Marvel and Broadcom as well as small, fabless semiconductor firms like Nitero. Qualcom’s Snapdragon 810, due next year, includes WiGig. Qualcomm acquired Wilocity in July 2014, and Nitero has announced its mobile WiGig solution.

Samsung said it plans to put its 802.11ad technology in a variety of devices, including audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.

Eventually, the Wi-Fi Alliance expects chipsets to support all three bands, enabling both compatibility and new uses.

Samsung isn’t the first to promote 60 GHz for consumers. Dell introduced the Latitude 6430u laptop at the 2013 CES which included both 2.4 and 5 GHz connections, as well as a new 60 GHz connections.

Here’s a review of evolving WiFi standards:

  • IEEE 802.11n: Increased the maximum raw data rate from 54 Mbit/s to 600 Mbit/s by using as many as four spatial streams with a double width channel (40 MHz). MIMO architecture and wider channels improved speeds on 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz channels.
  • IEEE 802.11ac: Provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band. It uses 80 MHz and 160 MHz channel bandwidths (vs. 40 MHz maximum in 802.11n) and supports up to 8 spatial streams (vs. 4 in 802.11n)
  • IEEE 802.11ad: Now with the WiGig specs folded in, provides high throughput in the 5 GHz band and 60 GHz bands. The 60 GHz band is stopped by walls, so range will be shorter, but the spectrum is wider, supporting nearly 7 Gbps throughput.

The unlicensed 60 GHz band varies slightly around the world. The standard divides the unlicensed 60 GHz band into four 2.16 GHz wide channels. Data rates of up to 7 Gbits/s are possible using OFDM with different modulation schemes. A single-channel version for low-power operation is available and can deliver a speed up to 4.6 Gbits/s.

ABI Research estimates over 1.5 billion chipsets with 802.11ad will ship in 2018. Smartphones will account for nearly half of all 802.11ad-enabled products in 2018, though with less than half the volume in smartphones compared to 802.11ac, says the research firm.

The IEEE 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards may also use Multi-user MIMO (MU-MIMO), where simultaneous streams are transmitted to different users on the same channels.

Related Dailywireless articles include; WiGig: 60 GHz WiFi Rolls Out, WiGig to Demo 4K Wireless at Intel Forum, WiGig Folded Into Wi-Fi at 60 GHz, Marvel 802.11ac: Now with 4×4 Beamforming, Fast Transistion to 802.11ac Predicts ABI, Broadcom 802.11ac for Phones, Quantenna: 802.11ac Chipset,

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,

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.