Thursday, August 20, 2009

Devicescape: Wi-Fi Expectations Continue to Rise

An overwhelming number of Wi-Fi users (96%) now expect device manufacturers to build Wi-Fi into more devices - such as cell phones, digital cameras and portable gaming devices, according to Devicescape's second quarterly Wi-Fi Report. The survey, conducted by Decipher, Inc. and sponsored by Devicescape, Intel and Meraki, queried more than 8,000 Wi-Fi users, representing a cross-section of Devicescape's overall membership.

Key findings from the Devicescape Wi-Fi Report showed:  

  • Ninety-three percent of respondents stated they will make a buying decision based on built-in Wi-Fi.

  • Users (84 percent) want hassle-free access to Wi-Fi, meaning no PIN or password.

  • Intelligence is expected: Eighty-five percent of people want their device to automatically switch between Wi-Fi and 3G networks based on what is best for the application.

  • Free Wi-Fi is a "must have" for 53 percent of respondents.

  • Ninety-eight percent of respondents log onto Wi-Fi daily; 57 percent of those log on more than five times a day.

  • Ninety percent of respondents make hotel and travel decisions based on the availability of Wi-Fi and 96 percent expect it to be free.

  • A surprising number of respondents are willing to participate in a community element of Wi-Fi sharing.

WildBlue Surpasses 400,000 Rural BB Customers, Adds 3rd Satellite

WildBlue Communications now has over 400,000 customers of its satellite broadband service. WildBlue initially launched its service four years ago.

WildBlue said it continues to aggressively add capacity to its network to serve additional rural customers throughout the U.S. The company recently activated services on a third satellite in early August, and has applied for federal stimulus money to help fund a next generation satellite with the ability to serve an additional 1.5 million customers in the rural U.S.

The third satellite is EchoStar's AMC-15. It will serve customers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas. The additional capacity allows WildBlue to offer better availability of its broadband service to new customers in many areas of the continental U.S. where customer demand has been the highest.
  • In March, WildBlue announced an agreement to lease Ka band capacity on the AMC-15 satellite from Colorado-based EchoStar Satellite Services, a division of EchoStar Corporation.

FCC Adds Wireless Inquiries to Thursday Meeting's Agenda

The FCC's Open Meeting scheduled for this Thursday, August 27, 2009 will include discussion of three new inquiries into the wireless industry.

First, the FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry to seek to understand better the factors that encourage innovation and investment in wireless and to identify concrete steps the Commission can take to support and encourage further innovation and investment in this area.

Second, the FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry soliciting information for the next annual report to Congress on the status of competition in the mobile wireless market, including commercial mobile services.

Third, the Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry that seeks comment on whether there are opportunities to protect and empower American consumers by ensuring sufficient access to relevant information about communications

Australia's TransACT Tests 1 Gbps FTTP with Alcatel-Lucent

TransACT, which provides TV, phone and broadband services in Canberra, Australia, has tested Alcatel-Lucent's GPON architecture to deliver up to 1 Gbps to residential users. A first for Australia, TransACT is now committed to provisioning Alcatel-Lucent's ONTs in all of its future fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployments.

TransACT Chief Executive Officer Ivan Slavich said: "TransACT has been deploying an open fibre-to-the-home network for two years now and we are committed to keeping our eye to the future, investing in the best technology available to ensure higher speeds and richer services moving forward. We recently announced that we are turning on 100Mbps services for our FTTP network customers in parts of the ACT. Whereas ONTs used to be the blocking factor, this latest trial with Alcatel-Lucent affirms our capability to boost these speeds even further as our customers' appetite for higher bandwidth services increases."

Alcatel-Lucent noted that it is currently involved in over 95 FTTP projects worldwide, over 80 of which are with GPON.

CEA Calls for Spectrum Reform and Unified Agency Control

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is calling for reform of U.S. federal spectrum usage and that the responsibility of spectrum allocation be placed under the control of one agency. The CEA's position on these issues were revealed in comments submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Notice of Inquiry regarding its implementation of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (CSEA).

"Spectrum is the lifeblood for wireless broadband technologies and services. More than any other country, Americans rely on their mobile devices and laptops for broadband connectivity at work, at home and on the go. In the marketplace, CEA member companies offer products and services that depend heavily on the availability of spectrum. As CEA has emphasized before, the future of our nation's leadership in innovation and technology depends in large part on broadband, and an increasingly larger share of broadband access is taking place over wireless platforms."

CEA supports pending legislation (H.R. 3125 and S. 649) that would require an inventory and assessment of the nation's radio spectrum.

Qualcomm's BREW Selected by Cox

Cox Communications plans to use Qualcomm's BREW technology to enable aspects of its mobile data experience. Following the launch of Cox's wireless service, its wireless subscribers with BREW-enabled handsets will be able to download a wide variety of applications from categories such as games, tools, lifestyle, location, messaging and ringtones. Qualcomm will host the BREW service for Cox, enabling them to provide their customers with a dynamic mobile application shopping experience.

"In today's competitive telecommunications market, providing subscribers with premium data services that are relevant to them helps build brand recognition and customer loyalty," said Arvin Chander, vice president for Qualcomm Internet Services. "Deploying their BREW-based service gives Cox the opportunity to generate additional revenue within wireless services."

Harris Stratex Networks Gains RUS Listing for Wireless Products

Harris Stratex Networks received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Rural Development product acceptance for two additional wireless transmission products. Specifically, Harris Stratex secured RUS listing for products within the Eclipse and TRuepoint 5000 platforms. These products are ideal for use in telecommunications systems operated by RUS loan program borrowers.

RUS acceptance is recommended for broadband stimulus funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and required for operators requesting federal funds from the USDA Rural Broadband Access Loan program for the purpose of purchasing and deploying broadband systems in rural communities -- programs designed to stimulate rural economies and enhance overall quality of life through programs such as distance learning and telemedicine.

Verizon Wireless Updates Specs for 4G LTE 700 MHz Devices

Verizon Wireless released updated specifications for wireless devices

-- traditional and innovative -- that will run on the nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network it is building on the Upper 700 MHz C-Block spectrum. The network access requirements contain key updates, clarifications and additions to guide developers into the next phase of bringing their LTE devices to the Verizon Wireless network.

Developers can access the specs online.

Verizon Wireless expects to commercially launch its LTE 4G network in up to 30 markets in 2010, covering 100 million people. In subsequent years, an equally aggressive growth plan will result in full nationwide coverage in 2013. The company's LTE network will ultimately connect a full range of electronics devices and machines.

Verizon Wireless Completes Key Phases of Alltel Integration

Verizon Wireless, which acquired Alltel in January, has completed key milestones in seamlessly converting former Alltel customers to its service in Florida. These efforts include welcoming these customers onto the nation's largest and most reliable wireless voice and data network, rebranding and remodeling 21 retail stores in Florida, and managing a multi-million dollar conversion of network operations across the state.

More than 700 former Alltel cell sites and several large switching facilities across Florida are being upgraded and reconfigured to work as part of the larger and more advanced Verizon Wireless EV-DO Rev A network. The massive, multi-million dollar Alltel-to-Verizon Wireless network conversion is expected to be completed throughout the state by 2011.

AT&T, Apple Comment on Google Voice App for iPhone

AT&T and Apple each responded to an inquiry from the FCC regarding the Google Voice app and Apple's App Store approval process AT&T stated unequivocally that it had "no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store. AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did we offer any view one way or the other." Furthermore, AT&T stated that its policy is "not block consumers from accessing any lawful website on the Internet. Consumers can download or launch a multitude of compatible applications directly from the Internet, including Google Voice, through any web-enabled wireless device."

For its part, Apple stated that it continues to study the Google Voice application and that it has not rejected it. "The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone." Apple also noted that Google is free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple's Safari browser.

Apple reiterated that it alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications. However, there is a provision in Apple's agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T's cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T's permission.

BT Reaches 500,000 Wi-Fi Hotspots

BT is now providing public wireless broadband at over 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK and Ireland. The sites include hotspots provided by the BT FON Wi-Fi Community, BT Openzone, 12 ‘wireless' city centres, plus BT Openzone hotspots via the BT Business Hub. Well known brands offering access include Hilton, Thistle and Ramada Jarvis hotels, Caffe Nero and Starbucks coffee stores, Welcome Break and Roadchef Costa service stations, BA, Flybe and Skyteam airport lounges.

BT noted that 4.8 million of its consumer and business broadband -- plus BT Mobile Broadband - users have inclusive network minutes in their contracts to surf the net, work or make cheaper VoIP calls via the hotspots. A further 50,000 hotspots are available in the UK and overseas through international roaming partners.