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mwagner writes: Skynet is coming. But not like in the movie: The future of communications is high-altitude solar-powered drones, flying 13 miles above the ground, running microwave wireless equipment, delivering broadband to the whole planet. The articles predicts this technology will replace satellites, fiber, and copper, and fundamentally change the broadband industry. The author predicts a timescale of roughly 20 years — the same amount of time between Arthur C. Clarke predicting geosynchronous satellites and their reality as a commercial business. "Several important technology milestones need to be reached along the way. The drones that will make up Skynet have a lot more in common with satellites than the flippy-flappy helicopter drone thingies that the popular press is fixated on right now. They're really effing BIG, for one thing. And, like satellites, they go up, and stay up, pretty much indefinitely. For that to happen, we need two things: lighter, higher-capacity wireless gear; and reliable, hyper-efficient solar tech."
17 comments | 36 minutes ago
New submitter iamacat writes I am thinking of canceling my regular voice plan and using an LTE hotspot for all my voice and data needs. One big draw is ability to easily use multiple devices without expensive additional lines or constantly swapping SIMs. So I can have an ultra compact Android phone and an iPod touch and operate whichever has the apps I feel like using. Or, if I anticipate needing more screen real estate, I can bring only a Nexus 7 or a laptop and still be able to make and receive VoIP calls. When I am home or at work, I would be within range of regular WiFi and not need to eat into the data plan or battery life of the hotspot.
Has anyone done something similar? Did the setup work well? Which devices and VoIP services did you end up using? How about software for automatic WiFi handoffs between the hotspot and regular home/work networks?
105 comments | 2 days ago
An anonymous reader writes A Notice of Inquiry was issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Friday that focuses research on higher frequencies for sending gigabit streams of mobile data. The inquiry specifically states that its purpose is to determine "what frequency bands above 24 GHz would be most suitable for mobile services, and to begin developing a record on mobile service rules and a licensing framework for mobile services in those bands". Cellular networks currently use frequencies between 600 MHz to 3 GHz with the most desirable frequencies under 1 GHz being owned by AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The FCC feels, however, that new technology indicates the potential for utilizing higher frequency ranges not necessarily as a replacement but as the implementation necessary to finally usher in 5G wireless technology. The FCC anticipates the advent of 5G commercial offerings within six years.
50 comments | 2 days ago
SternisheFan writes with an excerpt from Wired with some (state-specific, but encouraging) news about how much latitude police are given to track you based on signals like wireless transmissions. The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that obtaining cell phone location data to track a person's location or movement in real time constitutes a Fourth Amendment search and therefore requires a court-ordered warrant.
The case specifically involves cell tower data for a convicted drug dealer that police obtained from a telecom without a warrant. But the way the ruling is written (.pdf), it would also cover the use of so-called "stingrays" — sophisticated technology law enforcement agencies use to locate and track people in the field without assistance from telecoms. Agencies around the country, including in Florida, have been using the technology to track suspects — sometimes without obtaining a court order, other times deliberately deceiving judges and defendants about their use of the devices to track suspects, telling judges the information came from "confidential" sources rather than disclose their use of stingrays. The new ruling would require them to obtain a warrant or stop using the devices. The American Civil Liberties Union calls the Florida ruling "a resounding defense" of the public's right to privacy.
110 comments | 3 days ago
An anonymous reader writes: Personal drones are become more popular, and many companies are trying to figure out ways to incorporate them into their business. So what do we do in 10 years, when the skies are full of small, autonomous vehicles? NASA and a startup called Airware are working on a solution: air traffic control for drones. "The first prototype to be developed under NASA's project will be an Internet-based system. Drone operators will file flight plans for approval. The system will use what it knows about other drone flights, weather forecasts, and physical obstacles such as radio masts to give the go-ahead. Later phases of the project will build more sophisticated systems that can actively manage drone traffic by sending out commands to drones in flight. That could mean directing them to spread out when craft from multiple operators are flying in the same area, or taking action when something goes wrong, such as a drone losing contact with its operator, says Jonathan Downey, CEO of Airware. If a drone strayed out of its approved area, for example, the system might automatically send a command that made it return to its assigned area, or land immediately."
77 comments | 4 days ago
jfruh writes As it looks more likely that the U.S. will impose net neutrality rules on landline ISPs, big Web companies are aiming to get wireless data providers under the same regulatory umbrella. The Internet Association, a trade group that includes Google, Facebook, Amazon.com, and eBay, wants the FCC to "harmonize" the treatment of mobile and wired broadband providers in its net neutrality rules. Wireless providers are fighting back, claiming their networks are fundamentally different.
38 comments | 5 days ago
Mark.JUK writes: Samsung has become the first to successfully demonstrate a future 5G mobile network running at speeds of 7.5Gbps in a stationary outdoor environment. They also managed 1.2Gbps while using the same technology and driving around a 4.3km-long race track at speeds of up to 110kph.
Crucially, the test was run using the 28GHz radio spectrum band, which ordinarily wouldn't be much good for mobile networks where wide coverage and wall penetration is an important requirement. But Samsung claims it can mitigate at least some of that by harnessing the latest Hybrid Adaptive Array Technology (HAAT), which uses millimeter wave frequency bands to enable the use of higher frequencies over greater distances. Several companies are competing to develop the first 5G technologies, although consumers aren't expected to see related services until 2020 at the earliest.
36 comments | 5 days ago
Eggcyte has been working on this for two years. It's on Kickstarter now; a personal server you can use to share music, video, text, and just about anything else without resorting to cloud-based services where one weak password can put your private celebrity photos (you are a celebrity, right?) into the wrong hands. If you suddenly decide you don't want to share the information on your Egg any more, turn it off. If you suddenly have something new to share, like a video you just shot of the Loch Ness Monster capturing an alien spaceship, you can connect your Egg to the Internet anywhere you find a wireless access point. The main thing, say the Eggcyte people, is that your data is yours and should stay that way. Facebook and other cloud-based "sharing" companies use your data to learn about you. Here in the U.S. their primary purpose may be to show you ads for things you might want to buy. In more repressive countries, cloud-based sharing services may use your private data in ways that could be hazardous to your health. Of course, our government people would never keep track of what we post on Twitter and other online services... or would they? (Alternate Video Link)
94 comments | about a week ago
Lucas123 writes: The Anonabox router project, currently being funded through a Kickstarter campaign, has surpassed its original $7,000 crowdfunding goal by more than 10 times in just one day. The open source router device connects via Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable making it harder for your IP address to be seen. While there have been other Tor-enabled routers in the past, they aren't small enough to fit in a shirt pocket like the Anonabox and they haven't offered data encryption on top of the routing network. The device, which is being pitched as a way for consumers to securely surf the web and share content (or allow businesses to do the same), is also being directed at journalists who may want to share stories in places where they might otherwise be censored.
68 comments | about a week ago
The Register describes an advance in wireless speed announced by Samsung, which could make possible Wi-Fi speeds of up to 4.6Gbps in any device equipped with the new technology. By using “wide-coverage beam-forming antenna” and “eliminating co-channel interference, regardless of the number of devices using the same network” Samsung says it has cracked the problem and that products using its 802.11 ab standard could go on sale next year. Early products to use the technology will include “audio visual and medical devices, as well as telecommunications equipment.” Samsung also says the technology will be “integral to developments relevant to the Samsung Smart Home and other initiatives related to the Internet of Things.”
92 comments | about a week ago
michaelcole writes: Its name is BitHammer. It searches out and bans BitTorrent users on your local sub-net.
I'm a digital nomad. That means I travel and work, often using shared Wi-Fi. Over the last year, I've been plagued by rogue BitTorrent users who've crept onto these public hostpots either with a stolen/cracked password, or who lie right to my face (and the Wi-Fi owners) about it.
These users clog up the residential routers' connection tables, and make it impossible to use tools like SSH, or sometimes even web browsing. Stuck for a day, bullied from the Wi-Fi, I wrote BitHammer as a research project. It worked rather well. It's my first Python program. I hope you find it useful.
429 comments | about two weeks ago
kstatefan40 writes I am closing on a house next week which is connected to Google Fiber. I am ecstatic to have a gigabit connection, but the previous homeowner had them install the jack in an awful location. I'm going to be in a situation where I am paying for more than I can technically achieve over wireless. I have purchased a couple of 600mbps powerline adapters, but those still won't fully use the gigabit connection. Is there a better way to achieve a truly gigabit internal connection without substantial structural or wiring modifications?
279 comments | about two weeks ago
Nerval's Lobster writes Every year, approximately 250,000 military personnel leave the service to return to civilian life. When the home front beckons, many will be looking to become IT professionals, a role that, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is among the fastest growing jobs in the country. How their field skills will translate to the back office is something to ponder. With the advent of virtualization, mobile, and the cloud, tech undergoes rapid changes, as do the skill sets needed to succeed. That said, the nature of today's military—always on the go, and heavily reliant on virtual solutions—may actually be the perfect training ground for IT. Consider that many war-fighters already are IT technicians: They need to be skilled in data management, mobile solutions, security, the ability to fix problems as they arise onsite, and more. Military personnel used to working with everything from SATCOM terminals to iPads are ideally suited for handling these issues; many have successfully managed wireless endpoints, networks, and security while in the field. Should programs that focus on placing former military personnel in civilian jobs focus even more on getting them into IT roles?
299 comments | about two weeks ago
Almost a year ago you had a chance to ask professor Kevin Fu about medical device security. A number of events (including the collapse of his house) conspired to delay the answering of those questions. Professor Fu has finally found respite from calamity, coincidentally at a time when the FDA has issued guidance on the security of medical devices. Below you'll find his answers to your old but not forgotten questions.
21 comments | about two weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes Apple bought Siri in 2010, but its core technology is owned by Nuance, maker of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Now Samsung is looking to buy Nuance. From the article: "This past June, Nuance and Samsung began merger talks, but nothing came of it. At the time, the two companies said talks had 'slowed' due to 'complexities.' But they didn't say it was dead. Guess what? The talks are back on. The first hint came in June, after the company missed the quarterly projections. The Wall Street Journal then brought up the talks with Samsung and also noted the company had taken financial steps that could indicate a buyout was imminent. The company’s earnings report for June stated that Nuance was redeeming $250 million in 2027 convertible notes. By calling back the debt, that would save the future acquirer around $50 million from a debt-to-share conversion."
161 comments | about three weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes I understand a lot of people dislike Verizon in general, but assuming for a moment that they were your only option for a cellular service provider, is staying on their grandfathered unlimited data plan still worth it? Their recent announcement to not throttle traffic is inpiring, but I just don't know the long-term benefits of staying on this plan. I fear there is a tipping point where enough people will swap over to a metered plan and Verizon will ultimately abandon the unlimited altogether and assume the risk of losing a percentage of those remaining folks, at which point all of us who bought unsubsidized phones will have wasted the money doing so. Does anyone have any insight on this? Useful answers to this should take into account the problem with the question of "How long is a piece of string?" Give some context about how much you pay, and how much you use -- and how much that would change if the price were different.
209 comments | about three weeks ago
MetalliQaZ writes Verizon Wireless was scheduled to begin throttling certain LTE users today as part of an expanded "network optimization" program, but has decided not to follow through with the controversial plan after criticism from Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler. All major carriers throttle certain users when cell sites get too congested, but Wheeler and consumer advocates objected to how carriers choose which customers to throttle. The fact that Verizon was throttling only unlimited data users showed that it was trying to boost its profits rather than implementing a reasonable network management strategy, Wheeler said.
46 comments | about three weeks ago
Rambo Tribble writes The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered Boeing to replace Honeywell-built cockpit screens that could be affected by wi-fi transmissions. Additionally, the FAA has expressed concerns that other frequencies, such as used by air surveillance and weather radar, could disrupt the displays. The systems involved report airspeed, altitude, heading and pitch and roll to the crew, and the agency stated that a failure could cause a crash. Meanwhile, the order is said to affect over 1,300 aircraft, and some airlines are balking, since the problem has never been seen in operation, that the order presents "a high, and unnecessary, financial burden on operators".
142 comments | about three weeks ago
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to "talk" directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses. Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015. ... Researchers are, for example, testing LTE Direct as a way to allow smartphones to automatically discover nearby people, businesses, and other information.
153 comments | about three weeks ago
jfruh writes The U-blox SARA-U260 chip module is only 16 by 26 millimeters — and it's just been certified to work with AT&T's 3G network. While consumers want 4G speeds for their browsing needs, 3G is plenty fast for the innumerable automated systems that will be necessary for the Internet of Things to work. From the article: "The U-blox SARA-U260 module, which measures 16 by 26 millimeters, can handle voice calls. But it's not designed for really small phones for tiny hands. Instead, it's meant to carry the small amounts of data that machines are sending to each other over the 'Internet of things,' where geographic coverage -- 3G's strong suit -- matters more than top speed. That means things like electric meters, fitness watches and in-car devices that insurance companies use to monitor policyholders' driving."
118 comments | about three weeks ago