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California Mandates Smartphone Kill Switch

Posted by Sam Churchill on

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that will mandate all smartphones to come with a kill switch by July 2015. Kill switch software allows consumers to disable a phone after the device has been reported stolen and reactivate it only with a correct password or personal identification number.

The bill, introduced by State Senator Mark Leno, would be the strongest attempt yet by a U.S. state to fight smartphone theft, which accounts for more than half of crimes in several of the state’s largest cities.

Lawmakers believe that allowing smartphones owners to render their device unusable after it is stolen will reduce the appeal to thieves, who won’t be able to use or sell them.

If triggered by an authorized user, the kill switch will lock a handset and essentially make it useless. The feature must be installed and activated in new smartphones, but users will be able to deactivate it if they desire, and it must be resistant to attempts to reinstall the operating system.

The law doesn’t specify how the system locks the phone, nor what happens to the data on the phone when it’s locked. Each manufacturer can come up with their own system. It gives police the ability to cut off phone service in certain situations and typically requires a court order.

Minnesota enacted a similar law earlier this year, and the CTIA Wireless Association said all carriers will support kill switches by July 2015. The wireless industry removed its opposition to the bill after legislators agreed to postpone its effective date until July of 2015.

Apple already added a kill switch, called Activation lock, and Google and Microsoft are working on similar tools for Android and Windows Phone.

The four major U.S. wireless carriers (AT&T Mobility, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless), had already begun to implement a comprehensive stolen-phone blacklist.

The IMEI number (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) is used by a GSM network to identify valid devices and can be used for stopping a stolen phone from accessing that network. The IMEI number is only used for identifying the device and has no permanent relation to the subscriber. The subscriber is identified by transmission of an IMSI number (International Mobile Subscriber Identity), which is stored on a SIM card that can (in theory) be transferred to any handset.

If a mobile phone is stolen, the owner can call their network provider and instruct them to “blacklist” the phone using its IMEI number. This renders the phone useless whether or not the phone’s SIM is changed.

But thieves can change a stolen phone’s IMEI number so that it won’t be recognized as a stolen device, or can ship it overseas where the blacklist has no bite.

OnBeep: StarTrek Communicator?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

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

Body Sensors Network

Posted by Sam Churchill on

The FCC finalized rules covering Medical Body Area Networks (MBAN) used for wireless networking of multiple body sensors for performing diagnostic or therapeutic functions, primarily in health care facilities.

MBAN devices promise to enhance patient safety, care and comfort by reducing the need to physically connect sensors to essential monitoring equipment by cables and wires.

An MBAN is a low power network of sensors worn on the body controlled by a hub device that is located either on the body or in close proximity to it. MBAN devices operate in the 2360-2400 MHz band on a secondary basis, and must not cause harmful interference to and must accept interference from operating in the band, which is just below the WiFi band (2.4 ghz to 2.485 GHz).

The 2360-2390 MHz band is allocated for the Mobile Service on a primary basis and is used for aeronautical mobile telemetry (AMT). The 2390-2400 MHz band is allocated for both the Amateur Service and the Mobile Service on a primary basis.

Meanwhile, Ralph Lauren’s new Tech shirt is making its debut at the US Open this week. The new $200 Polo Tech shirt uses sensors and a removable electronics pack to track all of an athlete’s vitals

It has a conductive thread of sensors knitted into it that read biological and physiological information on the wearer. The technology, powered by Canadian company OMsignal, uses an accelerometer and gyroscope to collect data on the wearer’s movement, direction, vitals and even stress level when a ball comes flying across the court.

This data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to the cloud, where it is stored and analyzed, producing information on the user’s heartbeat, respiration, stress level, energy output and other activity-related stats, viewable from a mobile app.

“As flexible electronics merge into textile-based constructions, and eventually become intrinsic to the fiber itself, people will come to implicitly expect their clothes to be connected”, says Stéphane Marceau, co-founder of OMsignal. “Bio-tracking technology woven into fabric and sewn into seams will become the same baseline expectation as buttons are on a pair of jeans.”

Android Wear and Android Wear Apps now support the new wearables which include a variety of watches by Samsung Gear Live, the LG “G” Watch and Motorola’s Moto 360, as well as dedicated fitness devices, likely to appear next week at the IFA show in Berlin.

ABI Research forecasts shipments of Bluetooth enabled sports and fitness devices will grow ten-fold from 2011 to 2016, totaling 278 million and representing over 60 percent of the total available market.

In it’s new report, IC Insights says Bluetooth unit shipments will grow 29% per year over the 2010-2015 time period.

Juniper Research predicts by the year 2014, there will be a total of 2.7 million annual mobile health monitoring events globally, generating some $1.9 billion at the end of 2014.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Tour de France 2014, Watches Going Cellular, Real-time Running and Biking Apps, Bluetooth Bike and Fitness Sensors Get Smart, Polar Ships Bluetooth 4 Heart Monitor, HTC One S: Android 4 & Bluetooth Low Energy, FCC Okays Medical Body Networks, Wireless Control Expands Reach, Texting Clogs Cycling GPS Trackers at Olympics, Wireless Health Initiatives, Medical Devices Mobilize, Apps Enter the Twilight Zone, Mobile Health: Fast Growth , Open Source Tricorder and Mobile Health: Alive and Well.

Cellular on Unlicensed Bands

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Researchers working on next-gen cellular technologies are exploring cellular services on unlicensed 3.5 GHz, 5GHz and even 60 GHz, reports EE Times. Companies like DoCoMo, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia and Qualcomm are looking at using unlicensed spectrum for subscription LTE services because LTE is said to increase capacity and reliability over WiFi technolgoy.

Japanese cellco NTT DOCOMO has successfully demonstrated LTE over the ‘unlicensed’ 5GHz band. The test uses the so-called LAA (Licensed-Assisted Access) on the 5 GHz band.

“Currently, we are aiming to finish the joint experiment by fiscal 2015. The next step will be to develop a technology that will enable LAA and WLAN to efficiently coexist in the same spectrum. We hope LAA will be standardized with the Release 13 LTE which should come out in fiscal 2016,” DoCoMo said.

According to Huawei, operators must think outside-the-box by innovating their business models, and providing innovative solutions, such as LTE video for consumers & enterprises as well as using unlicensed bands for LTE.

Qualcomm is also an advocate of LTE on 5 GHz. With LTE broadcast, a single video channel can multicast to hundreds of users, particularly useful for stadiums or major national events.

Qualcomm’s proposal, dubbed Authorized Shared Access (ASA), is similar to the Licensed Shared Access (LSA) that is being considered among European carriers for the 5 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands.

The FCC proposed a 3.5 GHz sharing arrangement includes three tiers:

  1. Incumbent Access, which would include authorized federal users and grandfathered fixed satellite service licensees
  2. Protected Access, which would include “critical use facilities, such as hospitals, utilities, government facilities, and public-safety entities
  3. General Authorized Access, which would include all other users, including the general public.

The 3.5GHz Interest Group has reached a consensus on a uniform network scheme on Bands 42 & 43 to ensure effective collaboration and sharing. The group suggests that spectrum allocation be no finer than 40MHz per block, so that its roughly 400MHz of bandwidth is utilized effectively.

SoftBank constructed nine 3.5GHz base stations within the Ginza shopping area, making for an average spacing of less than 300 meters.

The network used 80MHz of 3.5GHz bandwidth, and supported an average download speed of 550Mbps (770Mbps peak), enabled by technologies the likes of 4*4 Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output systems (MIMO), carrier aggregation (CA), coordinated multipoint (CoMP) transmission and cloud baseband.

UK Broadband switched on its first TD-LTE system in London back in 2012 using the 3.5GHz band with gear from Huawei. It utilizes over 120MHz of spectrum in Bands 42 and 43, sufficient for six 20MHz channels that can be aggregated for LTE-A when the time comes.

UKB operates a wholesale model and works with partners like Relish to offer commercial services in the businesses, consumer and public sector. UK Broadband is a wholly owned subsidiary of PCCW Limited, the holding company of HKT, Hong Kong’s premier telecommunications provider.

One of the big questions, of course, is whether cellular operators will soon charge for the air that was previously free.

Related Dailywireless articles include; UK Broadband: TD-LTE at 3.5GHz, FCC Opens 3.5 GHz for Shared Access, Qualcomm: Chips for MU-MIMO, Small Cells, Home Gateway, Battle for 3 Dot 5, London Served 3.5GHz Fixed Wireless – with Relish, FCC Boss Wheeler Pushes for 3.5 GHz Spectrum Sharing, FCC Paves Way for 3.5GHz Band Nationwide, FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz, FCC Limits Dish on LTE Terrestrial Spectrum, Dish: On the Move, Dish and Sprint Battle over PCS band Extension, FCC Approves 2.3 GHz for AT&T, AT&T Likely to Get 2.3 GHz, Sprint’s Dish Compromise, MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, FirstNet: The Asymetrical Threat, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Spaces: Nationwide by Mid January, FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Genachowski Lobbies for Unlicensed White Spaces, Universal Service Reform Passed

D-Link 802.11ac Router for Enterprises

Posted by Sam Churchill on

D-Link today announced the DWL-8610AP, a new high power, 802.11ac unified wireless access point. Intended for the small/medium enterprise market, it provides up to 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, and 1300 Mbps using the 5 GHz band using 3 x 3 MIMO technology.

The DWL-8610AP is D-Link’s next generation Unified Wireless Access Point, designed to succeed the DWL-8600AP. It can be deployed as an autonomously managed, standalone wireless access point, or as a centrally managed access point controlled by a D-Link Unified Wireless Switch or Wireless Controller.

Businesses can start with standalone mode and then migrate to a centrally managed system. With an embedded antenna and a simple housing, the DWL-8610AP can be installed on a wall or ceiling and blends in with most office environments.

The DWL-8610AP will sense a neighbor nearby and automatically select a non-interfering channel. When a nearby AP is operating on the same channel, the DWL-8610AP will minimize interference by automatically lowering its transmission power.

The new DWL-8610AP unified wireless access point is currently shipping through D-Link’s channel partners and online retailers and costs in the neighborhood of $650.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Network Proposed for United States

Posted by Sam Churchill on

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