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Wireless News

Wi-fi 'to get a whole lot easier'
The world of wi-fi is to become a whole lot easier thanks to a major technology upgrade, says an industry group.  The Wi-Fi Alliance said it would soon finish work on a new specification called Wi-Fi Direct.  It will let wi-fi devices like phones and laptops connect to one another without joining a traditional network. The Wi-Fi Alliance - whose members include Intel, Apple and Cisco - hopes devices with the new technology will be on the market by the middle of 2010. FULL STORY_BBC News 10/14/09

US Traffic Safety Administration hid cellphone danger
Data released under Freedom of Information Act lawsuit

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration hid studies which proved that cellphone use presented a significant danger to drivers.  REsponding to a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency released data that it had kept out of public view which contained hundreds of pages of research and warnings about the dangers of driving while using cell phones. FULL STORY_ TG Daily_7/23/09

CEOs see wireless as answer to economic crisis
Wireless industry executives at the CTIA Wireless 2009 trade show said that despite the economic meltdown, the cell phone industry remains strong. And they're confident that it will be a driving force in pulling the nation out of the current financial crisis.  The executives said that despite the economic troubles facing the nation and the world, the wireless market is thriving and innovation is flourishing. They also agreed that as the nation moves through the current crisis that the wireless industry could play a significant role in the economic recovery of the country. But they also warned that reluctant investors and overzealous regulators could stunt its potential and harm the recovery.  FULL STORY_CNETNews_4/1/09

National Safety Council calls for U.S. ban on cell phone use while driving

The National Safety Council Monday called on state lawmakers to ban motorists from using cell phones while driving. Businesses should prohibit employes from driving while using cell phones or texting, the NSC said, and motorists should voluntarily quit talking on the phone while behind the wheel. A study from the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis estimates that cell phone use while driving contributes to 6 percent of crashes, which equates to 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries, 12,000 serious injuries and 2,600 deaths each year. The study also put the annual financial toll of cell phone-related crashes at $43 billion. The NSC also points to studies from researchers at the University of Utah that show that hands-free devices do not make cell phone calls while driving safe.   Full Story  News Release_ 1/12/09

Note: A fact sheet, data resources and other information concerning cell phone use while driving are available on the NSC website.  

MI Technologies expands wireless test systems capabilities with Bluetest partnership

MI Technologies has signed a distribution agreement with Bluetest AB of Gothenburg, Sweden, to distribute and support Bluetest’s products in North America, Italy, United Kingdom and India. This agreement broadens MI Technologies’ test and measurement capabilities for the Wireless marketplace and strengthens Bluetest’s sales and support channels for its innovative line of reverberation technology-based products for characterizing communication devices with small antennas.The Bluetest reverberation chamber technology is used to measure the total RF performance of cell phones and other wireless devices. The capabilities offered by this technology include extremely fast measurement of Total Radiated Power (TRP) and Total Isotropic Sensitivity (TIS). Additionally, the Bluetest chambers are the only commercially available test chambers that allow direct testing of antenna diversity gain and MIMO capacity, both of which are key technologies for new (e.g. HSPA, 802.11n) and future (WiMAX, LTE) wireless broadband systems.   Full Story   News Release_ 11/25/08

WiMax gets real

A $14.55 billion joint venture between telecom and technology heavyweights promises to speed the rollout of ultra-fast wireless Internet service in the U.S. The deal, which was announced Wednesday and is expected to close during the fourth quarter, pairs the wireless broadband units of Sprint Nextel and Kirkland, Wash.-based technology firm Clearwire with $3.2 billion from a combination of Intel, Google and cable companies Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House. The new company will take the Clearwire name and be headed by Clearwire Chief Executive Ben Wolff. Sprint will have a 51% equity stake, and Sprint Chief Technology Officer Barry West will serve as president. The aim: to build a national wireless broadband network based on a technology called WiMax that offers connection speeds on par with cable and DSL--much faster than even the most advanced wireless networks available today.  Full Story   Forbes_ 5/7/08

Europe takes step toward in-flight cellphones

The European Commission announced plans on Monday that will let airlines offer midair cellphone calls to passengers across the European Union, removing a major obstacle for companies that want to sell the service. With the new regulations, the commission will unify cellular licensing requirements and technical standards to cover mobile phones as they cross multiple boundaries in the air. That is likely to prompt a scramble among leading airlines to give their passengers access to in-flight calls on their own phones. Already, national regulators in Britain have said they were ready to grant licenses, and Air France, Ryanair and BMI are either holding trials or have plans to make an in-flight phone service available. Still, a few more steps need to be completed — like rate-setting by mobile networks and installing equipment by airlines — before the skies are alive with the sound of ringtones at 3,000 meters, or 9,800 feet, and above.  Full Story  New York Times_ 4/7/08 (logon required)

Just Ahead: A Wider Wireless World
Shutting down analog TV will free up a big slice of spectrum for more services

In the year ahead, a long-heralded revolution in wireless communications will finally come to pass. It may throw handset makers and service providers into turmoil, but over time it should be great for consumers. Fast, wireless data will become more widely available, the choice of data devices and mobile handsets will expand, and service just might get cheaper.  The biggest driver of change is an event slated for February, 2009. It is, of all things, the shutdown of analog television broadcasting. The conversion to digital TV will free up space now occupied by UHF channels 52 to 69. A chunk is being turned over to police and fire departments, and the rest will be auctioned off in January, 2008.  There are three reasons this spectrum will change the wireless landscape. First, it increases the total bandwidth available for wireless networks. Second, the relatively low frequency—around 700 MHz—penetrates buildings well. That means it will work as an alternative to cable or DSL Internet service to homes as well as for mobile phones. Finally, the Federal Communications Commission will require the buyers of a large piece of the spectrum to give customers much greater freedom in their choice of devices than carriers have traditionally allowed.

FULL STORY_Business Week 12/20/07

Google to battle telecom giants for wireless Web

After weeks of playing coy, Google said Friday it will bid in the auction for a highly coveted part of the nation's airwaves, setting the stage for a multibillion-dollar game of corporate poker that could determine who controls the wireless Web in the United States. Other players include AT&T and Verizon Wireless, the two biggest cell phone companies, as well as Frontline Wireless, a start-up backed by venture capitalists John Doerr and Ram Shriram. The reason for the interest: The auction run by the Federal Communications Commission is destined to be the last of its kind as similarly desirable spectrum is already spoken for. For sale will be portions of the 700-megahertz band that is slated to be turned over by broadcasters when they switch UHF television stations to digital transmission in February 2009. Monday is the deadline to register to bid, with winners to be announced next year. Google in particular wants the spectrum to be used to create a wireless Internet that works much like the traditional Web. People would be able to use whatever devices or software they want, just as they can use a Mac, Windows- or Linux-based computer or something else to access the traditional Web, with a wide choice of browsers and other Internet software. Google's executives, including co-founder Sergey Brin and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, have repeatedly said the country's closed wireless networks, in which the carriers maintain a lock on what devices and software customers can use, thwart innovation.  Full Story  San Jose Mercury News_ 12/1/07 (logon required)

Source: Telus invests in Ruckus

Canadian operator Telus Corp. has made a "multimillion-dollar" investment in Ruckus Wireless Inc. and is planning similar integration of the work that the WiFi video startup is already undertaking with Motorola Inc., a source tells Unstrung. Telus is expected to test Ruckus's BleamFlex "smart antenna" equipment, which increases the capacity of standard 802.11g radios enabling them to stream several HDTV signals at once. Some Carriers are interested in this technology being integrated into set top boxes and gateways but are most are waiting for 802.11n to be ratified in the summer of this year. Motorola has already done something similar with the Ruckus MediaFlex Dongle -- a USB device intended to integrate with set-top boxes and other devices, which Ruckus showed off at CES recently.   Full Story    Unstrung_ 1/19/07

November, 2006

Traffic jam? 2 Atlanta, Georgia companies look to your cell phone for a solution

Atlanta’s horrendous traffic has inspired two companies that are looking to monitor many more roads and highways than is done today and at a much lower cost. Their approach: Track the signals of cell phones that happen to be inside cars. By using anonymous data from wireless providers to mark how fast cell-phone handsets are moving - and overlaying that information with location data and maps - IntelliOne and AirSage hope to offer more detailed information and pragmatic advice than other firms that monitor traffic through radar, helicopters or cameras. But some critics aren’t so sure the benefits outweigh the potential privacy risks. Privacy advocates are already raising a red flag. Full Story

AP/Boston Herald_ 11/5/06

October, 2006

Heavy mobile phone use 'damages sperm': Study

Researchers found those men who used a phone for four hours or more a day had fewer sperm and those they had moved less well and were of poorer quality. The Ohio study involving 364 men was presented to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in New Orleans. The team from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio tested the sperm of 364 men who were being treated at fertility clinics in Mumbai, India, with their partners. It was found that the heaviest users, those who used their phones for more than four hours a day had the lowest average sperm counts, at 50 million per millilitre (ml) and the least healthy sperm. Men who used their phones for between two and four hours a day averaged sperm counts of 69 million per ml and had moderately healthy sperm. Those who said they did not use mobile phones at all had the highest average sperm counts, of 86 million per ml, and their sperm was of the highest quality seen. Dr Ashok Agarwal, who led the research, told the New Orleans conference the study did not prove mobiles damaged fertility, but said it showed more research was warranted.   Full Story BBC News_ 10/24/06

Mobile phone industry aims to reduce pollution
Nokia said on Thursday it and other mobile industry players have agreed on measures to reduce pollution from the manufacture and disposal of mobile phones.  The group has agreed to reduce energy consumption, stop using some hazardous materials, improve the amount of phones collected through take-back schemes and recycled, and give consumers more environmental information about products, Nokia said in a statement.  "It is important that the mobile industry continues to provide ways for customers to return unwanted mobile phones," Charlotte Grezo, Vodafone director for corporate responsibility, said in a statement.  The voluntary group also includes companies and brands such as Motorola , Matsushita Electric Industrial's Panasonic, France Telecom, TeliaSonera and Intel. 

FULL STORY_Reuters 9/21/06

Oh, nooooo. In-flight cell phone calls are near

The in-flight world as we know it officially ends in mid-2007. That is when the European discount carrier Ryanair says it expects to begin outfitting the first 50 of its 200 Boeing 737’s with an onboard communications system that will allow passengers to make and receive cellphone calls in flight, as well as to send and receive text messages and e-mail messages on cellphones, BlackBerrys and other personal electronic devices. The cost will be “at rates which will mirror international roaming charges,” said Ryanair, which has more than 360 routes in 23 countries in Europe. The satellite-based technology was developed by Mobile OnAir. Many carriers around the world are working on technology to allow in-flight use of cellphones and other electronic communication devices, but some airlines have said they are wary about the potential for cellphone voice messages to annoy other passengers.  Full Story  New York Times_ 9/5/06 (logon required)

UK's Norwich pioneers free city wi-fi
Norwich is pioneering a free wi-fi project which covers three sectors of the UK city and its centre.  The £1.1m, 18-month pilot has been live for three weeks and is backed by the East of England Development Agency.

The city centre, county hall and educational establishments such as the university all have wi-fi access.  More than 200 antennas are positioned around the city, mainly on lampposts, creating blanket wi-fi coverage.  The city is one giant hotspot, utilising a mesh network which means users can get seamless internet access as they wander the streets. 

FULL STORY_BBC 8/31/06

Company tests new option for Wireless
Bob Jones has a lofty idea for improving communications around the world: Strategically float robotic airships above the Earth as an alternative to unsightly telecom towers on the ground and expensive satellites in space.  Jones, a former NASA manager, envisions a fleet of unmanned "Stratellites" hovering in the atmosphere and blanketing large swaths of territory with wireless access for high-speed data and voice communications.  The idea of using blimps, dirigibles and balloons as communications platforms isn't new - it was widely floated during the dot-com boom. It didn't really fly then, and Jones is the first to admit the latest venture is a gamble.  Tethered flights of a prototype - which cost about $3 million to build and is about one-fifth scale model of the planned commercial airships - are scheduled later this month in this Mojave Desert city, about an hour's drive north of Los Angeles.  If everything goes as planned, remote-controlled flights would launch later this year from nearby Edwards Air Force Base. During the tests, the airship is expected to float to 45,000 feet for several hours. He envisions the commercial airships will rise to 65,000 feet - or about 13 miles - and stay aloft for 18 months at a time.  FULL STORY_ Red Orbit 8/23/06

Wireless devices to get emergency alerts

We interrupt your cell phone call with this important announcement: The government will soon be sending warnings of national emergencies on wireless phones, Web sites and hand-held computers.  The new digital system will update the emergency alerts planned -- but never used -- during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear strike. More likely, these 21st-century technologies will carry warnings of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.  FULL STORY_ CNN 7/12/06

Rhode Island embarks on statewide wireless network

America's smallest state is seeking to become its first to offer a wireless broadband network from border to border. Backers of Rhode Island's $20 million project say it would improve services and make the state a testing ground for new business technologies. The Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks (RI-WINs) should be fully in place by 2007, providing wireless connectivity throughout state, whose land mass of about 1,045 square miles is only slightly more than double the size of metropolitan Los Angeles. Full Story Reuters_ 4/28/06

Florida wi-fi city sees startup woes

More than a month after St. Cloud launched what analysts say is the country's first free citywide Wi-Fi network, some residents of this 28,000-person Orlando suburb are still paying to use their own internet service providers as dead spots and weak signals keep them offline and force engineers to retool the free system. The same troubles with the small town's big internet project could be lessons for municipalities from Philadelphia to San Francisco considering similar networks. St. Cloud officials are spending more than $2 million on a network they see as a pioneering model for freeing local families, schools and businesses from monthly internet bills. It also promises to help the city reduce cell-phone bills and let paramedics in an ambulance talk by voice and video to hospital doctors. Instead, what they have so far is a work in progress.  Full Story AP/Wired_ 4/23/06

Nano paint blocks wireless signals
A company from Rochester, N.Y. is developing a high-tech paint that can effectively block out unwanted cell phone signals.  NaturalNano's paint is based on nanotechnology, which is a quickly growing segment of science, working on using sub-microscopic organisms in stain-resistant pants and transparent sunblock. Particles of copper are inserted into "nanotubes", which are then blended into the paint to deflect radio signals.  Because it is based on nanotechnology, the cell phone blocking paint isn't always in "on" mode, and can rather be "turned on" or "off" at will. NaturalNano president Michael Riedlinger offers an excellent example: "You could use this in a concert hall, allowing cell phones to work before the concert and during breaks, but shutting them down during the performance." The company also says that it can filter out unwanted signals, while allowing certain transmissions to proceed as normal.  The Wireless Association opposes this technology citing instances, for example, where there is "the brain surgeon who needs notification of emergency surgery? These calls need to get through." A scheme that selectively blocks calls may even be illegal.  Full Story_mobilemag 3/2/06

RIM unveils plan to keep US BlackBerrys alive

Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled a plan on Thursday that it says will let its BlackBerry e-mail device work even if it loses a patent fight, and said the workaround will prevent a shutdown of service in the United States.  In an announcement made as the clock ticked toward a February 24 court hearing on U.S. patent holding company NTP Inc.'s request for an injunction to halt U.S. BlackBerry service, RIM also said it was still willing to negotiate a deal.  NTP questioned why RIM simply didn't go ahead and make the software changes for the workaround and argued the BlackBerry maker was trying to bully it. One analyst described the announcement as part of a "high stakes poker game."  The Waterloo, Ontario-based technology company, whose addictive device has been dubbed the "CrackBerry" by many users, said it is willing to "generously compensate" NTP, but called NTP's offer to license disputed technology "untenable."  The legal battle is heating up ahead of a hearing that could be the final step before U.S. District Judge James Spencer decides whether to impose an injunction granting NTP's request -- potentially shutting off more than 3 million U.S. BlackBerry subscribers.  Full Story_ Reuters 2/9/06

Global wi-fi  plan gets $22 million boost
Heavyweight firms such as Google and internet telephony outfit Skype are to invest in an embryonic plan to share wi-fi access around the world. They have joined with venture capital firms to plough $22 million (£12.6 million) into Fon, a three-month-old Spanish startup. Fon, which has already attracted 3,000 subscribers, aims to build a network of broadband users to share connections wirelessly when away from home. Fon founder Martin Varsavsky has described his ambitions in terms of a social movement.  Full Story  BBC News_ 2/7/06

January, 2006

Cell phones 'don't raise cancer risk'
Mobile phone use does not lead to a greater risk of brain tumour, the largest study on the issue has said. The British Medical Journal reported the study of 2,782 people across the UK found no link between the risk of glioma - the most common type of brain tumour - and length of mobile use. The research, which was carried out by the British arm of an international project called Interphone, reiterates the findings of most earlier studies in saying that there is no connection between cancer and mobile phone use. The team of researchers involved scientists from Leeds University, the Institute of Cancer Research and the University of Nottingham.  Full Story BBC News_ 1/20/06

October, 2005

Katrina aftermath wireless proving ground

Hours after Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast and knocked out telecommunications across much of the region, Mac Dearman visited shelters in northern Louisiana to connect telephones. Dearman doesn't work for a phone company. He owns a local wireless Internet service provider, and the gear he set up doesn't need a traditional phone network. It carries calls -- as well as e-mail and other data -- over the Internet. "In the first 24 hours after we plugged the phones in, there were 11 family members reunited," he said. "We got a hug every time we went into a shelter to make sure things are up and running all right." Just as Katrina proved the vulnerability of traditional telephone and cellular networks, it also showed how Internet-based technologies could be used to speedily re-establish links with the outside world.  FULL STORY_CNN 10/05/05

Weather Channel Interactive offers mobile text message forecasts for  hurricane relief workers

To assist in planning relief efforts, The Weather Channel Interactive has made mobile text message weather forecasts available at no charge for relief workers in the Gulf Coast region. The Weather Channel and its partner Mobile Media have made the service available due to text messaging service being more available than voice in some areas impacted by Hurricane Katrina. The service is available through most major providers and standard carrier text message fees will apply.  Full Story  Press Release_ 9/9/05

In Katrina's aftermath, wireless broadband rises to challenge land lines

Wireless broadband — high-speed Internet connections that transmit voice calls and data — is being set up for emergency crews in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast as well as for residents in Mississippi's Biloxi-Gulfport area. Networks relying on such technologies as Wi-Fi and WiMax can be established faster and more cheaply than crews can right telephone poles and cellular towers or bail water out of flooded switching stations. And they are heralded by some as successors to the nation's extensive, but antiquated, tangle of copper telephone lines and the metal forest of mobile phone towers.  Full Story  Los Angeles Times_ 9/9/05 (logon required)

August, 2005

Cellphones catapult rural Africa to 21st Century

Africa is the world's fastest-growing cellphone market. From 1999 through 2004, the number of mobile subscribers in Africa jumped to 76.8 million, from 7.5 million, an average annual increase of 58 percent. South Africa, the continent's richest nation, accounted for one-fifth of that growth. Asia, the next fastest-expanding market, grew by an annual average of just 34 percent in that period.  Full Story New York Times_ 8/25/05 (logon required)

July, 2005

Cellphone sales seen at over 1 billion a year by 2009
Mobile phone sales will exceed one billion handsets a year by 2009 as they become the most common consumer electronics device with 2.6 billion people using one by then, according to a survey published on Wednesday.  Around 1.04 billion cell phones will be sold in 2009, up from an upwardly revised estimate of 779 million this year and 674 million handsets in 2004, research group Gartner said.  "The mobile phone is the most prolific consumer device on the planet," said Gartner analyst Ben Wood. By comparison, every year around 200 million PCs and 200 million TVs are being sold.  The Asia Pacific region is seen as becoming even more important, with one out of every three mobile phones sold in the area in 2009, up from one in three this year.  "China and India alone will account for nearly 200 million units in 2007, with the Indian market surpassing China in 2009 to reach 139 million units," Asia Pacific analyst Ann Liang. 

Full Story_Reuters 7/19/05

Sprint to buy US Unwired for $1.3 billion
Sprint Corp. said it has agreed to buy its wireless affiliate US Unwired Inc. for about $1.3 billion, ending a series of legal disputes between the two companies.  As part of the deal, US Unwired will halt its legal actions against Sprint, that include a billing dispute and a request for an injunction to stop the Sprint-Nextel deal that was scheduled to be heard in court on July 15th.  Full Story Reuters 7/11/05


A back-to-basics mobile phone launched
Vodafone UK is launching a back-to-basics mobile phone in response to customer demand for simplicity.  Vodafone Simply will be available in two handsets offering just voice and text services.  The pared down phones represents a backlash against the drive to create more and more advanced services.  Full Story _ BBC 5/22/05

Bandwidth advance hints at future beyond wi-fi

The new wireless technology called ultrawideband, or UWB, should be available in some consumer products this year. In March, the Federal Communications Commission took a significant step toward breaking an industry deadlock over setting a single standard for UWB. Many computer and consumer electronics executives think that UWB will become the next big thing in the second half of this decade, a convenient alternative for all the cables that are now used to connect everything from high-definition television monitors to stereo speakers and anything in between. Moreover, some experts think that UWB also has a future as a wireless networking technology that will eventually replace the now ubiquitous Wi-Fi wireless standard.  Full Story  New York Times_ 5/4/05 (logon required)

March, 2005

Mobile phone growth 'fastest in Africa'
Mobile phone use in Africa is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, according to a report. The study, backed by the UK mobile phone giant Vodafone, said African countries with greater mobile use had seen a higher rate of economic growth. The report, supported by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, studied the social and economic impact of mobiles. The report's positive findings come despite separate figures which show the proportion of people using mobile phones in much of Africa remains low in international terms, averaging about 6% in 2004.  Full Story  BBC News_ 3/9/05

February, 2005

Kenyan school turns to wireless text books

The E-slates at the Mbita Point primary school in western Kenya are a pilot project run by EduVision, which is looking at ways to use low cost computer systems to get up-to-date information to students who are currently stuck with ancient textbooks. Full Text  BBC News_ 2/28/05

WiMax may pose fresh challenge to broadband

Wireless hotspots the size of Philadelphia or a rural community in the American heartland known at WiMax may be the way to offer broadband services cheaply to the public. Full Story  Reuters_ 2/27/05

Mobile phone industry sees viruses as growing threat

Viruses on mobile phones are still rare, but their number has been growing fast as handsets increasingly resemble small computers that connect with each other and the Internet, industry officials said. Companies making anti-virus software for mobile phones said at the Cannes mobile industry show that they saw a sharp rise in interest from operators after at least six new viruses for mobile phones emerged last year.  Full Story Reuters_ 2/16/05

A wireless world on the horizon

Various new wireless set-ups are competing in the music market, transmitting more and more data. However, manufacturers are hoping to make 2005 the year of the "simple set-up".  Full Story_ BBC 2/11/05

WiFi, WiMax, 3G, GPRS, Bluetooth: All of the net, all of the time
Will things really change when the internet is pervasive? BBC columnist Bill Thompson rather thinks so.  Full Story  BBC News_ 1/14/04

Motorola, Oakley making wearable wireless devices

Motorola Inc. announced a joint venture with eyewear maker Oakley Inc. to develop new Bluetooth-enabled wearable wireless communications devices. Details and designs will be unveiled by the middle of the year.  Full Story  Reuters_ 1/14/05

U.S. consumers gripe about cell phone service in Consumer Reports survey

More than half of U.S. consumers are less than satisfied with their mobile telephone service and give the lowest ratings to providers involved in large mergers, according to a Consumer Reports survey. Poor call quality, difficulty comparing service plans and less than helpful customer service were problems cited in a survey from the magazine's September survey of 39,000 people in 17 major cities. The survey results, which were largely unchanged from a similar study a year earlier, will be published along with a separate look at the merits and drawbacks of Internet-based telephone services in Consumer Reports' February issue.  Full Story  Reuters_ 1/4/05

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