LTE Subs Hit 100 Million

The 4G LTE industry has hit 100 million global connections, according to Wireless Intelligence.

The research firm says there are 163 LTE networks in operation across 70 countries. By December 2017, they forecast over 400 networks will be live across 120 countries.

Joss Gillet, senior analyst at Wireless Intelligence, expects there to be over 900 million LTE connections globally by December 2017, with the 1 billion milestone achieved in the first half of 2018.

To date, industry growth has been primarily driven by operators in Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and the US. These five countries currently represent 90 percent of the global LTE connections market.

Mobile Future estimated that by 2014, voice traffic will comprise only 2% of the total wireless traffic in the United States while the CTIA reported in October 2011 that the number of wireless devices in the U.S. (322 million) had, for the first time, exceeded the number of people (315.5 million).

IHS iSuppli projects that global LTE users will double in 2013 and that by 2016 LTE will claim more than 1 billion subscribers. Global 3G subs passed one billion last year, says the UMTS Forum.

Real-time Transit Maps

Jason Brown, a Portland developer, was often foiled by the bus-arrival estimates generated by TriMet’s TransitTracker, reports the Oregonian’s transit columnist Joseph Rose.

Inspired by real-time transit maps, like the SF Live Bus app and accompanying website in San Francisco, the 23-year-old Portland web developer has created PDXLiveBus, “the coolest real-time TriMet map in the universe,” says Joe Rose.

Log on to Brown’s PDXLiveBus and watch buses and light rail move pixel by pixel.

Contrary to Tri-Met’s assertion of an “open” data structure, the GPS data set “is hidden very well” in the code, Brown told the Oregonian. “They’re not really being as transparent as they say. Definitely not.”

But once he found the application program interface buried in the code, he said the coding for the map was fairly easy.

His real time map sends a request for vehicle positions to TriMet every 6 to 20 seconds.

Brown has also turned to the Reddit community to help him come up with a growing list of features. He’s also planning apps for IOS and Android devices.

The London Underground realtime map is powered by Leaflet, an open-source JavaScript library for mobile-friendly interactive maps and uses Open Street Maps.

Leaflet works across all major desktop and mobile platforms, while offering third-party plugins for extensibility.

Companies that either host/manage mobile content or develop/manage real-time transit information applications include the following, according to a comprehensive study by the Federal Transit Administration (pdf)

TriMet App Center has data resources for developers.

TriMet’s buses and trains send their current location every minute or so to TriMet’s computer system and they have made this real-time data publicly available, explains Jason McHuff, who also has created a map for arrivals after you type in your stop. His Web site receives a request for updated data, it in turn asks TriMet’s system for current data, formats the reply and sends it on to your browser.

NextBus is a vehicle tracking system used by many transit agencies. It uses GPS to predict when the next bus will arrive at any given bus stop and factors in typical delays. NextBus was acquired by the Cubic Corporation in January 2013. The Portland Streetcar also uses NextBus.

The pioneer in real-time bus info may be OneBusAway, created by University of Washington (UW) graduate students Brian Ferris and Kari Watkins, which let King County Metro apps track buses. Their work is all open-source, so that others may reuse and build upon their efforts.

Portland’s TriMet transportation system has been a leader in data sharing. By making data on public transit accessible, TriMet has allowed for the creation of more than 35 phone applications since 2005 using TriMet’s open data initiative.

Geoloqi, a powerful platform for next-generation location based services, has free apps available at Apple’s App Store and Android Market. It lets you easily build your own geo-location apps and games on top of their application.

Geoloqi features a language agnostic SDK for iOS and Android, with a complete stack of geolocation tools, including geo-fencing, messaging, security and analytics. Their secret sauce is in the algorithms that conserve battery life, minimizing GPS, WiFi and cellular pings, while delivering 20 ft accuracy with “opt-in” control.

In other news, OpenSignal the team that offers an app that crowdsources carrier coverage, is launching WeatherSignal, which does the same thing, but for weather. It currently only works with the Samsung Galaxy S4, which has all the sensors the app can tap, but older ones can at least report temperature and manual reports.

President Barack Obama issued an executive order today that aims to make “open and machine-readable” data formats a requirement for all new government IT systems.

The mandate may bring new life to efforts started by the Obama administration with the launch of Data.gov four years ago. It would also expand an order issued in 2012 to open up government systems with public interfaces for commercial app developers.

As part of the Administration’s Digital Government Strategy and Open Data Initiatives in health, energy, education, public safety, finance, and global development, agencies have been working to unlock data from the vaults of government, while continuing to protect privacy and national security. Newly available or improved data sets from these initiatives will be released today and over the coming weeks as part of the one year anniversary of the Digital Government Strategy.

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AT&T Launches MVNO Prepaid Service

AT&T is rolling out an MVNO prepaid service, reports Light Reading with the launch of unlimited provider Aio Wireless on its GSM network.

The contract-free service is live in Houston, Orlando and Tampa, and Aio plans to expand service across AT&T’s HSPA+ footprint this year.

Service plans range from $40 for 250 MB of high-speed data, throttled at the cap, to $70 for 7GB. Tablets can jump on the HSPA+ network for $15 per month at 250 MB, for HSPA+ service only.

Customers may not receive the exact same service. The network taps into AT&T’s radio access network (their cell towers and switches,) but Aio manages its own core network for voice, data, and messaging. Handsets include the Nokia Lumia 620 for $180 or Samsung Galaxy Express for $250 and the iPhone 5 for $650, as well as customers bringing their own unlocked device.

This is AT&T’s first MVNO service, although it’s been offering a basic prepaid service called GoPhone.

Sprint and T-Mobile are the main champions of wholesaling their networks to virtual operators.

Ultra Mobile, a T-Mobile USA virtual operator, recently announced a new basic $19 per month service plan that will provide 250 voice minutes, unlimited global SMS (which the carrier said would work on any mobile number in 194 countries), 50 MB of high-speed data and $1.25 toward international calling.

Other Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), which lease network services at wholesale rates from larger mobile operators, include Ting, Jolt Mobile, FreedomPop, Ready SIM and Solavei.

For $49 per month, Solavei, another T-Mobile MVNO, can use Apple’s iPhone 5, Samsung’s Galaxy SIII or Google’s Nexus 4, with unlimited voice, text and data mobile service. The 4G data is capped at 4GB, after which Solavei throttles you back to 2G-level service.

The company said anyone using an iPhone 5 can buy a Solavei nano-SIM for $9, then pair it with Solavei’s service, which runs $49 per month. Solavei noted that its retail partner, GSM Nation, offers a range of unlocked pre-configured phones.

Walt Mossberg reviews cellphone service from Republic Wireless, which launched its $20/month unlimited wireless service last December. The upstart carrier uses the Sprint network, but charges just $19 a month for unlimited data, voice and texts — with no contract. The company is also offering a second pricing option for people who would rather pay less up front: $99 for the phone and then $29 a month, unlimited.

Motorola’s Defy XT and the LG Optimus S work with Republic’s network. The Motorola Android phone costs $249 — partly to help offset the low monthly price.

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Waze and Nook Rumored in $1B Deals

TechCrunch says at least two, $1B deals are rumored to be announced shortly; Facebook Is Buying Traffic App Waze for up to $1B, and Microsoft is Mulling a Nook Media Purchase For $1 Billion.

According to TechCrunch, if the rumors are true, adding Waze to Facebook makes a lot of sense in some respects: Facebook has been putting a lot of effort into its mobile business, which now has 751 million monthly active users as of March 31, 2013, an increase of 54% year-over-year.

A Waze purchase would put mobile on a faster track (54% year-over-year growth) than Facebook’s desktop business, says TechCrunch, which currently has 1.11 billion MAUs, an increase of 23% year-over-year.

The expected deal to buy the digital assets of Nook Media is the natural next step for Microsoft, says TechCrunch, which first announced a plan to work with Barnes & Noble on its Nook devices and content in April 2012, ponying up $300 million at the time to help.

That plan included an additional $180 million advance to develop content for its Windows 8 devices — which Nook has been doing.

To date, there have been 10 million Nook devices sold, including both tablets and e-readers, with more than 7 million active subscribers. Currently the Nook app is available on every major platform, including Android, iOS and Windows.

Barnes & Noble.com is one of the Web’s largest e-commerce sites, and features more than 3 million titles in its eBookstore (www.bn.com/ebooks).

Barnes & Noble may be following Kobo in moving toward supporting the EPUB3 standard for its Nook ebooks — but it’s not happening yet. Kobo says it will fully support EPUB 3 by the 3rd quarter of 2013.

I’m anxious to test out ePub-3. I’ve got lots of WordPress blogs I’m anxious to port over. I’m looking forward to embedded sound and video with responsive design.

Waze: Now Cloud Controlled , Barnes and Noble Removes Google Play Wall, Barnes & Noble Revamps Self-Publishing Platform, Microsoft Buys B&N’s Nook Business

Best TTS Apps for Android

Phone Arena rounde up some of the best text-to-speech engines available in the Play Store. They offer better voice quality than what typically comes packaged with an Android handset.

  1. IVONA Text-to-Speech HQ
    Arguably one of the best natural voice synthesizers, Ivona was recently bought out by Amazon, but its TTS apps are still present for all Android devices, covering major languages like English, French, German, Spanish and so on. Choose from, male or female. The language packs are huge and often north of 200 MB, but it has the stellar pronunciation.
  2. SVOX Classic Text To Speech Engine
    Support for more than 25 different languages, including Japanese, Korean and Mandarin, and 40+ male or female intonations. The engine is the most comprehensive of them all when it comes to language coverage, and you even have the opportunity to correct the pronunciation if you notice that everyone around you utters the word in a way different than the Oxford
  3. Samsung TTS
    If you own a Samsung Android handset or tablet you likely have some localization of Samsung’s own text-to-speech engine preinstalled. The pronunciation is stellar. If for some reason it is not set as default on your Galaxy handset, go to the language and input setting, and select it from the TTS menu, then download the respective language pack.
  4. CereProc TTS Voice
    CereProc’s TTS language packs aren’t free, but $2.30 is a really small price to pay for voice algorithms that have been polished for years with native speakers. Come with unmatched personality, and you can try out the Idyacy set for the app to have your phone grunt Latin like a pig to you, or speak with incomprehensible Lancashire accent.
  5. AquesTalk TTS
    Tailored specifically to Japanese users/learners, AquesTalk offers a pleasant female voice to read out your navigation, text, emails, or simply the words in your Japanese dictionary.

Orbcomm: World’s Largest Container Tracker

Orbcomm, the low earth orbit messaging satellite company, specializing in two-way Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, today announced that its ReeferTrak platform has been selected by seven new domestic and international transportation and logistics companies.

ReeferTrak enables customers to proactively monitor, manage and remotely control their refrigerated transport assets.

By leveraging the power of ReeferTrak’s temperature, fuel management, maintenance, and logistical application services, customers can achieve maximum compliance, increased efficiency and proven return on investment (ROI), says Orbcomm.

ORBCOMM’s Next Generation – OG2 satellite will launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9, beginning later this year. Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is building 18 OG2 satellites, with an option to purchase up to 30 additional satellites to augment and upgrade Orbcomm’s existing satellite constellation.

Orbcomm’s 27 current-generation satellites operate for the most part in an 825-kilometer orbit inclined 45 degrees relative to the equator. The second generation will be placed into a 52 degree inclination, an orbit that gives better coverage of northern latitudes to enhance Orbcomm’s AIS maritime coverage.

Each OG2 satellite will be equipped with an enhanced communications payload designed to increase subscriber capacity by up to 12 times over the current Orbcomm satellites. In addition, all OG2 satellites will be designed with Automatic Identification System (AIS) payloads to receive and report transmissions from AIS-equipped maritime vessels.

The Automatic Identification System works by interrogating a VHF transceiver that incorporates LORAN-C or GPS location information, with a gyrocompass or rate of turn indicators. All ocean-going vessels and commercial vessels over 65 feet are required to use AIS equipment by the International Maritime Organization.

Located at 78 degrees north latitude, SvalSat is the world’s only established commercial station capable of downlinking on every (polar-orbiting) satellite.

Berg Insight’s May 2013 Container Tracking and Security Report (pdf) says Orbcomm’s recent acquisitions of StarTrak, PAR LMS and GlobalTrak makes it the largest vendor of intermodal container tracking solutions featuring GPRS or satellite communication.”

Berg Insight estimates “the number of tracking systems with GPRS or satellite communication for intermodal containers in active use is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 49.1 percent from 137,000 units at the end of 2012 to 1.0 million by 2017.”

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