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Google May Have A Plan To Bring Wi-Fi To NYC Pay Phones

July 23, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Google may be amongst a list of hopefuls looking to transform the New York City phone booths of the past into “communication points” of the future with free Wi-Fi and cellphone charging.

The dominant search company was among 60 entities that attended a meeting on May 12 to discuss a project to replace or supplement as many as 10,000 pay phones around the city. The list came to light in a Bloomberg News article. Other participants included Samsung, IBM, Cisco Systems, Verizon Wireless, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.

Responses to the “request for proposals” (RFP) from vendors were due Monday. Google, or any other participant in the May 12 meeting, may have pulled out of the process before filing one. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

But it seems likely the company will at least submit a plan, given the opportunity to blanket much of New York’s streetscape with Wi-Fi. Despite some false starts and headaches in free public Wi-Fi in the past, Google looks more serious than ever about providing new forms of Internet access. It’s selling gigabit-speed service via fiber in Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, and plans to expand that service to Austin, Texas. A Google request for information sent to 34 other prospective Google Fiber cities suggested the company is looking at adding a Wi-Fi component to that service, too. Far outside major cities, its balloon-based Project Loon is being tested in licensed frequencies sometimes used for LTE cellular networks.

The New York project would be vast and potentially lucrative, as well as high profile. There are currently more than 7,000 pay-phone sites spread across all five boroughs of the city, and about 4,000 of them carry advertising on the sides. The winning bidder for the upgrade project would share ad revenue with the city, which says it would pay them at least US$17.5 million in compensation.

 

 

Is Apple Having Issues With Sharp?

July 17, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Around The Net

There is a spat brewing between Apple and its long term supplier Sharp. Sharp has been making Apple displays for ages and has an entire plant dedicated to this purpose. The manufacturing gear now belongs to Apple and Sharp wants to buy the equipment back for $293 million.

Apparently, Sharp wants to diversify its production and shift away from supplying only to Apple. Jobs’ Mob is amenable to the idea of selling the facilities but only if Sharp never sells anything to Samsung. Samsung mostly utilizes OLED screens in most of its products, so there is little for Apple to worry about. However some devices still use LCD screens and might have Sharp gear under the bonnet.

An agreement has not yet been reached and it seems unlikely as the manufacturer is not keen on accepting the blatant anti-competitive behaviour or as Apple would say “shrewed negotiation ability.”

Sharp does not want to piss off Apple. It is busy producing iPhone 6 screens for Apple and the Kameyama Plant No. 1 which is the one that Sharp wants to buy back, flat out.

Courtesy-Fud

Verizon Wins Top Honors For Mobile Network Performance In U.S. Cities

July 11, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

RootMetrics awarded Verizon Wireless its seal of approval in its latest biannual ranking of wireless network performance in cities across the U.S.

Verizon ranked first or was tied for first in 115 of 125 cities for overall network performance during the first half of 2014, leading all three other national carriers — AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Sprint didn’t finish first in any of the cities, while Verizon tied with either AT&T or T-Mobile, or both, in 56. That meant that AT&T was the only first place finisher in 59 cities, including major cities such as Cincinnati, Colorado Springs, Colo., Daytona Beach, Fla., Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and Seattle.

RootMetrics found that Verizon finished first in 23 of 50 airport network evaluations for the first half of the year and tied for first in seven out of 50 airports. Verizon won or tied at four major airports: Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and Denver.

Verizon has its 4G LTE network in 500 U.S. cities, providing access to 97% of the U.S. population. RootMetrics used devices capable of connecting to Verizon’s XLTE network, now operating in 300 cities.

XLTE uses AWS spectrum.

RootMetrics is an independent research company that uses testers driving in cars and in stationary locations, both indoors and outdoors, to conduct thousands of tests in each city to evaluate reliability and speed of connections and call, data and text performance. The company uses unmodified smartphones purchased off-the-shelf from operator stores.

 

Standalone Wearables Coming This Year, Says AT&T

July 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The most successful wearable devices will be ones that can operate without a phone, and AT&T will have at least one of them by the end of this year, the man who manages the carrier’s partnerships said.

“It needs to be an independent device. It needs to do something different for the end user, for people to buy it en masse,” said Glenn Lurie, AT&T’s president of emerging enterprises and partnerships.

A likely place to start could be wearables for wellness, such as a device that knows when your workout’s begun, holds your music, and lets you post information about your performance to social networks, he said. “I think you’ll see devices like that this year,” Lurie said.

The hottest devices will be able to work both on their own and with a phone, Lurie said. They’ll also have to be simple to use, a bar that no wearable has crossed yet, he said.

Once wearables start talking to LTE on their own, the sky’s the limit of what consumers will take with them, Lurie said. “Just like tablets, it’s going to all of a sudden explode.”

Cars will be another hot category of connected devices, with natural-language commands letting drivers do many things, he said.

“We believe technology in a car can make the car not only a safer place, but a place where you can do everything you can do today with your smartphone in your hand,” Lurie said. But there are hurdles left to be crossed: Cars will need to be able to talk to both Android and iOS phones without those phones coming out of the driver’s pocket. And as cars age through several generations of mobile technology, their software will have to be upgradable over the air. “The car is going to become a smartphone with four wheels.”

Lurie has overseen AT&T’s new businesses and partnerships for years, going back to the carrier’s blockbuster deal to carry the Apple iPhone exclusively for five years. Speaking before the audience at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, he wasn’t giving away any secrets about what manufacturers are showing off to AT&T.

“The things I’m seeing are pretty darn exciting,” Lurie said.

 

Verizon Says U.S. Government Made 150,000 Requests For Customer Data

July 10, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The U.S. government made approximately 150,000 requests for customer information from Verizon Communications in the first half of 2014, most of them subpoenas, the country’s largest wireless carrier has reported.

The report is the second summary of government requests Verizon has publicly issued since shareholders pressured the company to divulge information it shared with the government in December.

The government issued 72,342 subpoenas, half of which request subscriber information on a given phone number or IP address, while others ask for transactional information, like the phone numbers a customer has called, according to Verizon.

Verizon also received over 37,000 court orders, including 714 wiretaps, which give access to the content of communications and over 3,000 pen registers and trap and trace orders, which give the government real-time access to outgoing and incoming phone numbers, respectively.

“We repeat our call for governments around the world to make public the number of demands they make for customer data from telecom and Internet companies,” Randal Milch, Verizon’s general counsel, wrote in a company blog.

The report included limited information on international requests. France led all foreign countries listed in the report in customer information point requests, which include phone numbers or IP addresses used to identify a customer, with 762 requests.

 

Verizon Wireless Wants Dish Networks Spectrum

June 23, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Verizon Communications Inc unit Verizon Wireless is in hot pursuit of satellite-TV operator Dish Network Corp’s spectrum to improve wireless internet speeds, the New York Post reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

The two companies have held informal, early talks about the spectrum, the report said.

In May, Verizon Communications Chief Executive Lowell McAdam shot down rumors that the company was in potential merger talks with Dish.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed restrictions on how much the biggest wireless carriers can bid for in a major auction of TV spectrum scheduled for mid-2015.

A possible merger between Sprint Corp and T-Mobile US Inc could prompt U.S. regulators to rewrite rules they are now considering for the auction.

 

 

 

Google And Microsoft Finally Planning Kill Switches For Their Smartphones

June 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Responding to mounting  pressure, Google and Microsoft will follow Apple in adding an anti-theft “kill switch” to their smartphone operating systems.

The commitment comes at a time when new data shows a dramatic drop in theft of Apple iPhones and iPads after the September 2013 introduction of iOS 7, which included a kill-switch function that allows stolen devices to be remotely locked and deleted so they become useless.

In New York, iPhone theft was down 19 percent in the first five months of this year, which is almost double the 10 percent drop in overall robberies seen in the city. Over the same period, thefts of Samsung devices — which did not include a kill switch until one was introduced on Verizon-only models in April — rose by over 40 percent.

In San Francisco, robberies of iPhones were 38 percent lower in the six months after the iOS 7 introduction versus the six months before, while in London thefts over the same period were down by 24 percent. In both cities, robberies of Samsung devices increased.

“These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told IDG News Service.

Gascon and New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been leading a push to get smartphone vendors and telecom carriers to include kill switches in their products as a way to curb phone theft.

The joint work had early success with Apple but other carriers and phone makers dragged their feet. However, resistance to the idea appears to be dropping as several bills that mandate kill switches make their way through state legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

The bills demand a function that would enable a phone owner to remotely delete and disable a phone if stolen. The function could be disabled by consumers before a theft takes place if desired, but crucially new handsets would be supplied with it switched on by default.

 

T-Mobile Offering One Week Free Service To Lure New Customers

June 20, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

T-Mobile US Inc said it’s offering at least a million mobile phone users the chance to use an Apple Inc iPhone in a free one-week trial of the No. 4 U.S. wireless carrier’s network with unlimited access.

The announcement is the latest promotion from T-Mobile, which last year shook up the industry by unbundling service fees from device costs, a move other carriers soon followed.

In cooperation with device maker Apple, customers can sign up online, receive a free iPhone 5s in two days and pay no charges unless the phone is broken or not returned at aretail store one week later.

“We believe every Verizon, and every AT&T customer should cheat on their carrier and enjoy every minute of it,” said T-Mobile CEO John Legere, speaking at a T-Mobile event in Seattle that was broadcast on the Internet. The carrier’s “seven-night stand” campaign asks consumers to allow the company to “woo you with our powerful data strong network” for the week.

T-Mobile’s aggressive discounting won it more subscribers in the first quarter of 2014 than any of the top wireless carriers combined. But the company’s price slashing cost it $151 million in lost revenue in the first quarter.

The company also said on Wednesday that music streaming from eight major music providers, including Pandora and Spotify, will no longer count against the data allowance included in consumers’ subscriptions.

“Streaming music is a showcase of what makes our network different. We can handle it,” said T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert.

T-Mobile customers use 69 percent more data than Verizon, and 100 percent more data than AT&T, according to the company.

The company also launched a music streaming service called ‘unRadio’, in partnership with music provider Rhapsody, which is free of advertising and will be included for customers who have unlimited high speed service. The service will also be available for $4 a month to all other subscribers.

The move follows a January AT&T announcement of a discounted subscription to Beats Music for family plan members, and a similar partnership between Sprint and Spotify in April.

T-Mobile’s massive price discounts have led to a restructuring of pricing plans across the wireless industry, as carriers unbundled service plans from the cost of devices.

 

Vodafone Shows Interest In ‘Connected Cars’ With Latest Purchase

June 17, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Vodafone is acquiring an Italian car electronics maker for 145 million euros ($197 million), hoping to leap ahead in the race to connect more products to the internet and offset slowing growth in its core mobile phone business.

Telecoms and technology firms are looking to tap an expected surge in demand for so-called machine-to-machine (M2M) communications – or using the internet to get products from cars and washing machines to turbines and medical equipment to carry out more tasks, more efficiently.

Cars are at the forefront of the new industry, as manufacturers strive to add new features such as streaming music, playing audio books, navigation aids and security improvements to their vehicles.

Only about 10 percent of vehicles currently have built-in connectivity to the internet, but that number is expected to rise to more than 90 percent by 2020, according to British consulting firm Machina Research.

Vodafone said on Monday it had agreed to buy Cobra Automotive Technologies, which provides products aimed at improving car security, telecommunications and vehicle tracking for the automotive and insurance industries.

“The combination of Vodafone and Cobra will create a new global provider of connected car services,” said Erik Brenneis, Director of M2M at Vodafone.

“We plan to invest in the business to offer our automotive and insurance customers a full range of telematics services.”

Other mobile operators are also investing in the M2M industry – also known as “the internet of things” – looking for new sources of income as stiff competition and regulation slow growth in their core market.

For example, Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless carrier, spent $612 million in cash in 2012 to buy Hughes Telematics, which sells products including GPS tracking, communications and safety features in cars.

 

FCC Reviewing Slow Internet Download Speed Issues

June 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

U.S. regulators will review agreements between Netflix, Verizon, Comcast and other content and Internet providers to determine whether they are causing slow web download speeds for some consumers, especially for streaming video content.

Consumers have complained to the Federal Communications Commission about the ongoing spat between Netflix and Internet service providers (ISPs). Both sides accuse each other of causing a slowdown in Internet speeds by the way they route traffic.

“At the heart of this is whether ISPs that provide connectivity in the final mile to the home can advantage or disadvantage content providers, and therefore advantage or disadvantage consumers,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said on Friday.

Large content providers such as Netflix Inc have historically paid middlemen or ISPs to deliver their content to consumers. The specifics of such agreements, known as “interconnection” and sometimes “peering,” have been secret and outside of the FCC’s regulatory scope.

The FCC earlier this year launched a new effort to set rules regulating how broadband providers manage Internet traffic on their networks. Netflix has urged the agency to begin regulating such agreements to do away with fees that content companies pay.

Though the FCC has not indicated that it plans to regulate the deals, the agency is now asking multiple Internet service providers and content companies, particularly video service providers, to provide details, Wheeler said.

“Consumers need to understand what is occurring when the Internet service they’ve paid for does not adequately deliver the content they desire, especially content they’ve also paid for,” he told reporters after a monthly FCC meeting.

“What we are doing right now is collecting information, not regulating. We are looking under the hood. Consumers want transparency. They want answers. And so do I,” he said.

In an earlier statement Wheeler said the commission is “not suggesting that any company is at fault.”

Consumer advocates, who support stricter regulatory oversight of relationships between content and Internet providers, welcomed the step and called on the FCC to make details of those agreements public.

It is unclear whether the FCC plans to do so.

Analysts pegged the FCC’s move as a win for Netflix, which on Friday welcomed the move toward more transparency.

“Americans deserve to get the speed and quality of Internet access they pay for,” Netflix spokesman Joris Evers said in a statement.

Netflix earlier this year agreed to pay fees to Verizon Communications and Comcast to bypass middlemen and deliver content directly to the companies’ subscribers, ensuring faster speeds.

“Netflix has been paying (for traffic delivery) since inception. It wants free, I get it, but someone has to pay for it,” Jim Cicconi, AT&T Inc senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, said last week.

Netflix streaming accounts for nearly one-third of North American web traffic during peak times, according to research by Sandvine Corp.

Netflix vice president for global public policy, Christopher Libertelli, this week said the company already invests money in delivering traffic to the Internet provider.

“We pay a lot of money to drop content at the doorstep of an ISP. All we’re really asking is for the ISPs to swing the door open,” Libertelli said at the Aspen Institute think tank. “This has become a new choke point.”

 

Wi-Fi Calling Finally Coming To iPhones In iOS 8

June 5, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple’s new iOS 8 will support Wi-Fi calling when the version debuts this coming fall, and T-Mobile US was quick to say  it will support the feature on its customers’ iPhones.

T-Mobile was the first U.S. wireless carrier to enable Wi-Fi calling, way back in 2007, on its Android and Windows smartphones, according to a blog postedby T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert.

Like T-Mobile, Sprint also has Wi-Fi calling, which can be used when no cellular signal is available. When the nationwide carriers were asked on Tuesday whether they would support Wi-Fi calling in iOS 8 devices, Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Debra Lewis responded, “I’m not going to speculate on what might be offered in the future on our nationwide network, and we don’t offer Wi-Fi calling currently.”

Sprint hasn’t made any announcements about Wi-Fi calling for the iPhone, spokesman Mark Elliott said. Sprint has five smartphones with the feature included, such as the Samsung Galaxy S4, and plans to expand Wi-Fi calling to more devices in 2014, he said. AT&T didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The advantages of Wi-Fi calling would seem to include not having to pay the cellular service cost for a voice call, although T-Mobile counts voice over IP (VoiP) minutes using Wi-Fi calling as minutes against your service plan, according to Jack Gold, an analyst with J. Gold Associates who uses T-Mobile service. “Data is different, but voice is not free with Wi-Fi calling,” he said. “You don’t really save anything, as the carrier still counts VoIP minutes against your plan.”

T-Mobile noted in a fact sheet on Monday that it doesn’t charge any additional service charges for Wi-Fi calling. The carrier also noted that customers don’t have to integrate another app, such as Skype, and can use their existing phone number. To carriers, the service can reduce the load on their cellular networks.

 

 

 

Will The LTE Market Reach 1 Trillion By 2020?

May 22, 2014 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Analysts working for Allied Market Research are saying that the LTE market will grow quickly and be worth more than $997 Billion by 2020. It is a fairly safe bet, the market is primed to grow and no-one will remember that number in 2020 and quote it back to them and say “six years ago you got that number wrong.”

The report, with the catchy title ” LTE Market (TDD, FDD, LTE Advance) – Global Opportunity Analysis and Forecast – 2012-2020″ said that Asia Pacific is forecast to surpass other geographical markets by 2020 with approximately 40 per cent of the global LTE market.

Current revenue from LTE market in Asia Pacific accounts to $2.8 billion and is expected to reach a value of$390 billion by 2020. Furthermore, this would be the fastest growing market throughout the globe, experiencing a CAGR of 71.5 per cent during 2013-2020.

The report said that Telecom companies have already gained good number of 4G LTE subscribers in the developed countries.

Increased need for higher data rates and greater spectral efficiency are the primary factors driving the market growth. The development of LTE in the public sectors such as public safety as well as in defence and security is further driving the market exponentially.

These applications require high-speed communication at times of emergency and therefore LTE is the best-suited network to feed this need. Furthermore, changing customer preferences and rising demand for high-speed mobile broadband in Asia Pacific region has created a huge potential in the APAC market. Telecom operators have planned highest number of LTE installations in these developing countries, the report said.

Courtesy-Fud

FCC Says Its Still Better To Call 911 Instead Of Texting

May 19, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to warn the public not to depend on text messages to reach 911 in emergencies because the technology is only available to 59 of the more than 6,000 emergency communications centers nationwide.

On its official website, the FCC notes that “the ability to contact 911 using text is only available on a limited basis in a few markets. For this reason, you should not rely on text to reach 911.”

The agency instead urges calling 911 in an emergency, “even where text-to-911 is available.”

In recent years, the FCC has urged public safety officials and wireless carriers to implement text-to-911 to help serve deaf and speech-disabled people who might not be able to call 911. Also, during some major hurricanes and catastrophes, voice calls to 911 have failed while smartphone users were still able to send texts to friends and others.

The FCC has posted a document  listing the 59 emergency communications centers that had deployed text-to-911 as of May 9 in 16 states. Many on the list were ready last year; the state of Iowa is listed as having all its emergency communications centers allowing text-to-911 as early as August 2009.

There are more than 23,000 public safety communications centers in the U.S., but many are regional and not designated to take either 911 calls or texts. There are more than 6,000 Public Safety Answering Points, the FCC’s designated name for a communications center that takes emergency calls.

Nearly all the emergency communications centers on the May 9 list are served by Verizon Wireless, while T-Mobile is listed as serving one county in New York and AT&T is listed as serving two centers in North Carolina and Vermont.

May 15 was the date that the four largest wireless providers — AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon — voluntarily committed to make texting to 911 available in those areas where the local 911 center is prepared to receive the texts. The FCC said that delays in the text-to-911 service could be due to several factors, including coordination between phone companies, equipment vendors and state and local public safety agencies.

The agency doesn’t post a timeline when more emergency communications centers will come online with text-to-911, but adds on its site that the service “is likely to become more widely available over time as wireless phone companies provide text-to-911 capability and 911 centers modernize their systems to accept text messages.”

 

Samsung’s Galaxy 5 Sales Hit 11M First Month Out

May 16, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Despite less than glowing reviews from critics, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone is proving to be another hit for the company, with 11 million of the devices sold in the first month of launch.

The sales figure, disclosed on Thursday by a company spokesman, suggests the S5 is performing slightly better than its previous model. Last year, the Galaxy S4 sold 10 million units in 27 days after it went on sale.

But the days of a huge year-over-year sales boom for Samsung phones may be passing. When the S4 went on sale a year ago it sold 10 million units in almost half the time the Galaxy S3 needed to reach that figure. As for the older Galaxy S2, it was on sale for five months before reaching the number.

And even though 11 million units is still a big number, the figure shows Samsung’s flagship phone grew in sales by only about 10 percent. This is far lower than overall shipment growth in the smartphone market, which rose 29 percent year over year in the first quarter, according to research firm Canalys.

The Galaxy S series phones have been Samsung’s flagship line, and are built with some of the latest technologies. In the case of the S5, the Android phone has a fingerprint scanner along with a heart rate monitor, in addition to a HD screen and cutting-edge processor.

Not all the critics have been happy with the device. In particular, reviewers have been disappointed with the phone’s plastic casing that they said gives the handset a cheap feel. Others have said the fingerprint scanner and heart rate monitor don’t always function properly.

In a sign that Samsung maybe listening to the negative feedback, earlier this month the company named a new head for its mobile products design team. Vice president Min-hyouk Lee was promoted to the position, to allow the previous head, Dong-Hoon Chang, to focus on longer-term design of the company’s products.

Samsung said last month it expects the S5 to sell well, and predicted the phone would sell over 10 million units in its first month.

Lately, the company has been posting weaker earnings, as competition in the smartphone market continues to stiffen. But Samsung expects the S5 to give it a sales boost in this year’s second quarter.

 

Sprint Still In Pursuit Of Acquiring T-Mobile

May 2, 2014 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Sprint Corp is meeting with banks to devise a funding plan for its bid for smaller rival T-Mobile US Inc, a source familiar with the situation said, as the mobile carrier works to ease regulatory concerns that the deal would hurt competition.

The source said that Sprint, which is owned by Japan’s SoftBank Corp, is looking to fund the bulk of T-Mobile’s estimated $50 billion price tag with corporate bonds and cover the rest with syndicated loans and convertible bonds.

Sprint is currently having discussions with at least five banks, the source told Reuters, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank.

Bloomberg, which first reported that Sprint was in talks with banks on Thursday morning in Asia, said the carrier was also talking to Mizuho Financial Group Ltd and Citibank. Softbank is expected to make a formal offer in June or July, Bloomberg added.

Sprint spokeswoman Roni Singleton told Reuters the company does not comment on rumors and speculation. T-Mobile and SoftBank both declined to comment on the Bloomberg report.

Sprint is facing a battle ahead with U.S. regulators who oppose consolidation in the wireless market on the basis it would inhibit competition. The company is aware it may have to give up some of its spectrum holdings to win over critics, the source said.

Two of the most vocal opponents to the deal are Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler and U.S. antitrust chief William Baer, who have pointed to T-Mobile’s success since U.S. authorities rejected a 2011 merger between AT&T Inc and T-Mobile on the grounds the market needs at least four major players to be competitive.

The failure of that deal cost AT&T a $6 billion break-up fee, a penalty Sprint feels confident it can avoid, the source said, adding that it is leaning towards having Deutsche Telekom, which currently owns 67 percent of T-Mobile, retain part of that stake.