USAID Funds Community-based Digital Communications

The NY Times reports the State Department has provided $2.8 million to a team of American hackers, community activists and software geeks to a mesh network, as a way for dissidents abroad to communicate more freely and securely.

The United States Agency for International Development has pledged $4.3 million to create mesh networks in Cuba, a target that is sure to start debate.

Radio Free Asia, a United States government-financed nonprofit, has given $1 million to explore multiple overseas deployments. A mesh network can blanket main areas of town, and users have access to a local server containing Wikipedia in French and Arabic, town street maps, 2,500 free books in French, and an app for secure chatting and file sharing.

The mesh network does not need to be linked to the wider Internet.

Sascha Meinrath, founder of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan research group in Washington that has been developing the mesh system.

The Red Hook Network in Brooklyn is a community-led effort to close the digital divide and facilitate access to essential services using OIT’s Mesh system.

It was created by a group of Digital Stewards, local young adults ages 19-24, as part of a year-long job training program. It partners with local businesses and residents to host nodes.

The big advantage of mesh networks is availability. You can set up nodes wherever you can, and they’ll find other nearby nodes and self-organize to route data. It’s particularly valuable in emergency networks.

Commotion’s own site says that it can not hide your identity”, “does not prevent monitoring of internet traffic”, and “does not provide strong security against monitoring over the mesh”.

OTI has partnered with groups around the world to develop the concept of Digital Stewardship, and hopes to refine it as more communities adopt and adjust it for local needs.

Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that USAID engineered the creation of a Twitter-like communications network called ZunZuneo aimed at giving a platform to political dissent to spark reform.

The “Cuban Twitter”, reached at least 40,000 Cuban subscribers but was retired in 2012 without notice.

The Obama administration said the program was not covert and that it served an important purpose by helping information flow more freely to Cubans. Parts of the program “were done discreetly,” Rajiv Shah, USAID’s top official, said on MSNBC, in order to protect the people involved.

Google Fiber Expands to More Cities

Google Fiber is ready to expand, reports ArsTechnica. Google has identified nine areas around the country as possible deployment sites. Currently, Kansas City (KS and MO), Provo UT and Austin TX are using Google’s gigabit fiber.

“We’ve invited 34 cities in nine metro areas across the US to work with us to explore what it would take to build a new fiber-optic network in their community,” Google said in an announcement today. There’s no guarantee for any of these cities. It could be fired up by 2015.

To make a difference to Google’s roughly $70 billion in revenue this year, Fiber would need to expand dramatically, notes Reuters. In a city of one million households for example, Google would reap a modest $288 million a year in subscription revenue if 20 percent of families were to sign up for its $120 monthly service.

Google is asking municipal officials to do the following:

  • Provide detailed, accurate maps of existing infrastructure like utility poles, conduits, and water, gas, and electricity lines.
  • Ensure the company can access and put its fiber on existing poles or conduits.
  • Review permitting processes to make sure cities can handle as much as 100x their usual number of permit requests—once it starts building.

For nearly three decades David Olson was Portland’s crusader-in-chief at the city’s cable office, challenging the cable industry’s dominance. He guided much of the city’s research into broadband alternatives.

Mary Beth Henry, director of Portland’s Office of Community Technology, led the effort to attract Google’s interest with a broadband plan for the city. The City of Portland submitted two applications in response to Google’s Request for Information (RFI).

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said that he will marshal bureaus and bureaucrats to ensure Google gets what it needs. Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said city leaders will begin meetings with Google soon.

You know what Google is good at? Data centers.

Cloud-RAN is the cellular network architecture for the future. Fiber to the small cell can deliver broadband wireless to tiny wireless nodes. Without the bulky infrastructure. With 600 MHz, 2.6 and 5 GHz, smart cities may be mobilized.

Related Fiber Optic articles on Dailywireless include; Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City , Google Blasts Kansas Bill to Limit Fiber Competition, It’s Official: Austin Gets Google Fiber, Kansas City Wins Google Fiber, Gigabit Seattle: Late Paying Bills, RUS Awards $1.2B for Broadband, City Fiber Strategies, US Broadband Sub Count, Hawaii Plans Broadband Initiative, Unlicensed Muni Broadband: Take Two?, Ten Largest Data Centers, The Fiber Utility, 1 Gbps Fiber Comes Home,

Gone Fishing

Dailywireless is on holiday this week! Sorry for the inconvenience, but we’re moving the World Headquarters office closer to The Columbia River. Plan to do some fishing, too. We’ll be back next week.

Wish you a great summer holiday, too!

– Sam Churchill

CTIA 2013 Opens

CTIA 2013 runs May 21 – 23, 2013 in Las Vegas at the Sands Expo & Convention Center this week. Expect lots of Show News, Buzz, Videos , and MobileSmarts, Infographics & Whitepapers.

Show Topics include:

Among the announcement:

C/Net has additional coverage

LG Sells 10M LTE Smartphones

LG reports that it has sold more than 10 million LTE smartphones worldwide. LG is aiming to double that figure by the end of 2013.

Apple and Samsung are currently the clear leaders in LTE smartphones. Samsung is estimated to have shipped a record 215.8 million units in 2012, up 129 percent on its 2011 figure, while IDC estimates Apple’s total for 2012 was 136.8 million units. Apple’s iPhone 5 overtook Samsung’s Galaxy S3 to become the world’s best-selling smartphone model in the fourth quarter of 2012. The Galaxy IV, due March 14, will likely turn the tables (for a time).

LG is battling with Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, HTC, Sony and BlackBerry for the runners up. IDC recently ranked Sony in fourth place for the last quarter, claiming 4.5 percent of the mobile market, ahead of ZTE, but behind Huawei. Gartner ranked LG fifth on sales of all handsets, while IDC’s top 5 for smartphones sales didn’t include LG.

According to Strategic Analytics, global shipments of LTE smartphones are expected to increase to 275 million units in 2013. Global smartphone shipments (with and without LTE), are expected to jump 27 percent to 875 million this year.

Strategy Analytics estimates that Samsung will have a 33 percent share of the 2013 smartphone market, up from last year’s estimated 31 percent, while Apple will hold 21 percent, versus last year’s 20 percent.

See: Global Smartphone and Tablet Sales and Projections

$25 Tablet

The Indian government and UK company DataWind have launched a tablet aimed at students in India to sell for about $40, but the Indian government will offer a partially subsidized version to students for about $20.

DataWind’s new tablet features a 7 inch, 800 x 480 pixel capacitive touchscreen display with support for 4-point multitouch. It runs Android 4.0, has a 1 GHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, and 4GB of storage. There’s also a microSD card slot for additional storage, as well as WiFi and a USB port.