Cable & Carriers Target 5GHz Spectrum

Cox Communications announced today that it launched more than 1,700 additional WiFi hotspots for Cox Internet customers in the Phoenix and Las Vegas this month. The latest Cox WiFi hotspots bring CoxWiFi service to six markets to date with many more planned for 2015, including hundreds of hotspots in San Diego after the first of the year.

In addition to the current Cox WiFi markets (Connecticut, Northern Virginia, Omaha, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sun Valley), customers also have access when they travel to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 hotspots made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called CableWiFi, launched in 2013. The hotspots are strategically located in high-traffic areas such as restaurants, malls, sports arenas, parks and beaches in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tampa.

Only Cox customers who subscribe to the Preferred Internet Package ($49/mo for the first 12 months) or higher have free access to the CableWiFi network. Comcast offers a similar “deal” for access to the joint cable WiFi network offered across the country.

CableWiFi uses Hotspot 2.0 technology where visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to roam across different hotspot networks. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot.

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.

If Comcast’s strategy is to take over the lower 5GHz band with “free” public WiFi (for cable modem subscribers), they’ll have competition from T-Mobile US which wants to “privatize” as much as 500 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band for “unlicensed LTE, aka LTE-U.

Qualcomm championed the so-called “LTE-U” or unlicensed LTE back in November 2013, before the 3GPP switched to the term “License Assisted Access.” According to Fierce Wireless, Macquarie Research analysts Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton said that after having met with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, they expect T-Mobile will use LAA “extensively on the 500 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum, with handsets becoming available at the end of 2015.”

A spokesperson at T-Mobile confirmed the plan to use 5 GHz unlicensed technology to FierceWirelessTech, although the timing remains unclear.

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:


According to Ruckus Wireless, a recent survey of 400 U.S. small businesses with retail places of business, commissioned by Devicescal, found [to nobody’s surprise] that providing free Wi-Fi is good business for increasing:

  • Customer foot traffic
  • The time spent on premises (and most importantly),
  • The amount customers spend.
  • The study focused on independent “mom and pop” retail stores, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, fast food places, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, book shops, and salons.

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network. Ruckus Wireless gathered a bunch of interesting WiFi stats in a holiday-themed slide show.

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 most from MU-MIMO. Several enterprise and carrier-grade infrastructure providers are beginning to roll out their equipment (and backend software) now. LTE using the unlicensed 5GHz band is likely to be several years away, say most industry observers.

How large corporate takeovers of the unlicensed 5GHz band will (or will not) affect any truly “free” municipal network remains to be seen.

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

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

Sigfox Building 900 MHz M2M Silicon Valley Network

Sigfox, a startup based near Toulouse, France, hopes to raise more than $70 million to build a national network in the US for the Internet of Things. SigFox picked the Bay Area to demonstrate their IoT wireless network that promises to link anything to the Internet, from smoke detectors to dog collars and bicycle locks.

Sigfox will cover the San Francisco peninsula, from its urban tip to Silicon Valley, some 40 miles to the south. It will use the unlicensed 915-megahertz spectrum to provide connectivity. Sigfox hopes to close funding early next year. Sigfox technology already covers the whole of France, most of the Netherlands, and parts of Russia and Spain.

They now cover 420,000 square miles in Europe with ranges that run from a couple of kilometers for underground water meters to 500 km for connected billboards run by Clear Channel.

Four companies now make Sigfox base stations using 800-900MHz transceivers. The base stations can run for 5-20 years on batteries, but are limited to data rates of 100-600 bits/second, sending a maximum of 140, 12-byte messages a day and receiving no more than four eight-byte messages a day. Sigfox charges operators a subscription rate of $1-16 a year per node based on volume. That’s a fraction of the $1-2/day a cellular link would cost, said Castonguay of Machina Research.

It also has an unnamed partner with whom it hopes to put base stations on satellites for a future IoT network with global coverage.

Around the world cities are beginning to deploy a diversity of M2M sensors to improve the efficiency of transport, lighting, irrigation and refuse collection.

Technology competitors include Neul, recently bought by Huawei, and chip firms such as Broadcom and Qualcomm, who are also tracking the opportunities with the 900MHz version of WiFi.

The upcoming .11ah standard, using the 900 MHz band, is expected to cover many home uses at 10-20 Mbits/s. It will also help WiFi vendors extend into large building networks supporting up to 8,000 connections. Chips are expected to hit the market starting in 2015. NEC is the first company to deploy the new oneM2M service layer standard in a live smart city control center.

The Sigfox standard is proprietary. Competitors include the Z-Wave Alliance, a consortium of leading companies in the home technology space and operates in the sub-1GHz band. It supports data rates up to 100kbps, with AES125 encryption, IPV6, and multi-channel operation. Z-Wave utilizes a mesh network architecture, and can begin with a single controllable device and a controller. Additional devices can be added at any time.

Intel, Broadcom, Samsung, Dell, Atmel and others have joined forces to launch the Open Interconnect Consortium. The intention of the OIC is to create specifications for interoperability. It will encapsulate various wireless standards to enable secure device discovery and connectivity across different devices.

Apple and Google, two of the biggest players in the Internet of Things market, may go their own way.

Google acquired smart thermostat company Nest for $3.2 billion and WiFi-enabled camera company Dropcam for $555 million. Google also announced it partnered with Mercedes-Benz, Whirlpool and light bulb maker LIFX to integrate their products with Google’s Nest.

Meanwhile, Apple announced a smart home framework called HomeKit, which can be used for controlling connected devices inside of a user’s home. Apple’s connected car infotainment system is called CarPlay.

IDC expects the installed base of the Internet of Things will be approximately 212 billion “things” globally by 2020. This is expected to include 30.1 billion installed “connected (autonomous) things” in 2020.

Related Smartmeter articles on Dailywireless include; Qualcomm Buys Silicon Radio, Huawei Buys Neul, Internet of Things: Divided or United?, Wispapalooza: Jim Carlson on White Spaces, Ofcom Announces White Space Partnerships, 802.11ah: WiFi Standard for 900MHz, Facebook Promotes Internet for Next 5 Billion, Super Wi-Fi Summit, FCC Supports National White Space Networking

AWS-3 Auction: Now $43.8 Billion

The FCC’s AWS-3 spectrum auction has now racked up provisional winning bids now topping $43.8 billion. There are also signs that the auction will end shortly, reports Fierce Wireless. The auction for 65 MHz of spectrum, some of which would be shared by incumbant users, started Nov. 13.

At the close of round 94 today, the total provisional winning bid amount came in at $43.814 billion. The auction will continue until there are no new bids or waivers in a given round.

The auction has already quadrupled its reserve price and tripled some pre-auction estimates. According to analysts at Jefferies, after 91 rounds, the paired spectrum in the AWS-3 auction was at $2.65 per MHz-POP and unpaired spectrum at 50 cents per MHz-POP.

Proceeds will pay for FirstNet, the interoperable first responder network as well as for deficit reduction.

The success of the AWS auction bodes well for Treasury, and the big broadcast TV auction next year (FCC NPRM). That auction will put some 120 MHz of UHF TV channels (near Channels 30-50) on the auction block. The FCC more recently indicated it was planning on selling only 84 MHz. TV group owners (who never really “owned” the spectrum in the first place), will get a piece of the action for selling their slot and moving their channel to UHF Channel 29 or below.

The FCC proposed this month that the TV auction would meet an average price per MHz-POP benchmark of $1.25 for “Category 1 licenses” in the 40 largest license areas by population, with about 84 MHz of spectrum being cleared in the auction.

The FCC earlier assumed 100 MHZ of spectrum would sell at about $1.50 per megahertz POP with a forward auction revenue of $45 billion. That figure now looks overly conservative. The TV auction could have nearly twice the amount of paired spectrum as the current AWS auction (100 MHz vs 50 MHz) and generate twice the Mhz/Pop.

The MHz/pop figure is derived by multiplying the number of megahertz associated with a license by the population of the license’s coverage area. For nation-wide coverage you’d multiply times 300 million Americans.

Will next year’s TV auction generate in excess of $100 billion? Perhaps. But somebody’s going to have to pay for it.

Skype Language Translator Announced

Today, Microsoft announced the first phase of the Skype Translator preview program which provides real-time language translation using a voice synthesizer. The preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device.

Skype Translator was demonstrated between two elementary school classes—one in Washington and one in Mexico City. “Mystery Classroom” allowed the students guess where their school was located and discover the potential to break down language barriers and bring people together. Skype was acquired by Microsoft for $8.5 billion three years ago.

Skype Translator relies on machine learning, which means that the more the technology is used, the smarter it gets.

The training data for speech recognition and machine translation comes from a variety of sources, including translated web pages, videos with captions, as well as previously translated and transcribed one-on-one conversations. Microsoft says the advent of Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) for speech recognition, pioneered by Microsoft Research, dramatically reduced error rates and improved robustness, finally enabling the use of this technology in broad contexts such as Skype Translator.

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,

WorldVu Proposes Global LEO Broadband

According to the Wall Street Journal, Elon Musk is working with WorldVu Satellites which proposes to deliver Internet access across the globe. A network of 700 satellites in Low Earth Orbit would use the Ku band (12/14 GHz) to deliver broadband to end users. Industry officials estimate that it would cost $1 billion or more to develop the project.

Musk is working with Greg Wyler, a former Google executive and satellite-industry veteran. Wyler founded WorldVu Satellites which controls a large block of radio spectrum in the Ku band.

WorldVu hopes to bring the cost of manufacturing the satellites to under $1 million, with each satellite weighing about 250 pounds. The current WorldVu design has been granted radio spectrum rights by international regulators, to beam some 2 gigahertz of Ku-band (12/14 GHz) using nongeostationary satellites at between 800 and 950 kilometers in altitude.

The WorldVu satellite constellation would be 10 times the size of the current Iridium fleet. It is expected to require up to US$3 billion in capital by the time the full constellation becomes operational in 2019–2020. SpaceX, which has launched a dozen of its Falcon 9 rockets in the past five years, would likely launch the satellites.

O3b Networks, a previous satellite Internet startup founded by Mr. Wyler, has faced technical problems with the first four satellites it launched, which likely will shorten their lifespans. Today, satellites in the O3b constellation each weigh about 700 kg (1543 lbs), and were designed, tested and integrated by Thales Alenia Space. O3b serves large areas on either side of the equator with a constellation of eight satellites and is planning to launch four more by the end of the year. O3b is using Ka-band frequencies that were abandoned by the now-defunct Teledesic venture

Teledesic was the most ambitious of the early LEO broadband constellation proposals. Originally in 1994, 840 active satellites were planned, then 288 active satellites in 1997 after a Boeing-led redesign and before the merge with Motorola’s Celestri. Later it was reduced to a proposed 12 satelites in a Medium Orbit (as Craig McCaw’s ICO). Teledesic planned 21 near-polar orbital planes of 40 active satellites with 4 in-orbit spares per plane at an altitude of 700km. Each Teledesic satellite was originally planned to have eight intersatellite links, in the 60GHz band. Ka-band frequencies were allocated to Teledesic at the 1995 World Radio Conference.

Alcatel announced its SkyBridge constellation in February 1997. Unlike Teledsic, SkyBridge did not propose to use intersatellite links. Instead, its satellites were planned to act as in-orbit ‘bent-pipe’ transponders, in the Ku-band.

The WorldVu concept is similar to the defunct SkyBridge satellite constellation, and is an attempt to use the same spectrum. Before it disappeared, SkyBridge battled with existing satellite fleet operators about whether dozens of SkyBridge satellites in low orbit would interfere with the standard telecommunications satellite fleets in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers over the equator, notes SpaceNews.

Perhaps active beamforming antennas like Kymet’s flat antenna and improved frequency inteference rejection will bring LEO broadband satellites back from the dead. With WorldVu, Google may be adding another player in satellite space in addition to their SkyBox Imaging platform.

Third world and global broadband connectivity is being explored with a variety of platforms, including drones. Facebook purchased Britain’s Ascenta drone company as part of what it calls its Connectivity Lab project, while Google earlier this year purchased Titan Aerospace.

Near-space platforms at 12 miles (20K meters/65K feet) are 20 times closer than a typical 400-kilometer LEO satellite at 250 miles. High altitude UAVs can stare — 24/7 — without blinking or human needs. Mercury’s sigint computers are powered by nVidia GPUs and Intel processors for TeraFLOPS processing.

IEEE Spectrum has Five Ways to Bring Broadband to the Backwoods, including solar-powered drones, MEO and LEO satellites, balloons, blimps, and White Spaces.

Perhaps not co-incidentally, Google’s rumored fleet of LEO Comsats would weigh about the same as their new Skybox imaging satellites, or about 250 pounds (113 Kilograms).

Supposedly, the LEO comsats would operate in circular orbits of 800 and 950 kilometers inclined 88.2 degrees relative to the equator. Google may try for a regulatory deadlines of between late 2019 and mid-2020 to enter service by the ITU, using the Ku band (12/14 GHz).

In other news, the third MUOS secure military communications satellite has been delivered to Florida by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy for launch next year. MUOS, or Mobile User Objective System, spacecraft, is a geosynchronous platform that can send and receive secure voice and data communications directly to handsets.

MUOS-1 and MUOS-2 were launched respectively launched in 2012 and 2013. The MUOS Constellation will consist of Four Satellites in Geosynchronous Orbit with one on-orbit spare. A total of 16 communication beams can be provided by each satellite. MUOS will replace the legacy UHF Follow-On and operates primarily in the 300 MHz band which penetrates foliage well.

MUOS utilizes 3G (WCDMA) cell phone technology which was a pretty big deal back in 2002. Data rates of up to 384kbps will be available for mobile users. Today’s drones, however, now depend on commercial broadband satellites for most of their kill missions.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Google Buys Skybox Imaging for $500 Million, Fleet of LEO Comsats for Google?, Satellite Swarms Revolutionize Earth Imaging, Google Buying Drone Company Titan, Facebook Announces Connectivity Lab, Amazon & Globalstar Test Wireless Service, GlobalStar Promotes “Licensed” WiFi in 2.4 GHz band, OuterNet: CubeSat Datacasting?, Planet Labs’ Photo CubeSats Released,SpaceX: Geosynchronous Launch, Antarctic Expeditions Go Live, ExactEarth Launches 5th AIS Satellite, ViaSat-1 Launched