Government

FCC Chairman: a Former Cable Lobbyist Who Helped Kill the Comcast Merger 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the judging-books-by-covers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After Friday's news that the Comcast/TWC merger is dead, the Washington Post points out an interesting fact: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was instrumental in throwing up roadblocks for the deal, used to be a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. "Those who predicted Wheeler would favor industry interests 'misunderstood him from the beginning — the notion that because he had represented various industries, he was suddenly in their pocket never made any sense,' said one industry lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he represents clients before the FCC." The "revolving door" between government and industry is often blamed for many of the problems regulating corporations. We were worried about it ourselves when Wheeler was nominated for his current job. I guess this goes to show that it depends more on the person than on their previous job.
Cellphones

Patents Show Google Fi Was Envisioned Before the iPhone Was Released 31

Posted by timothy
from the I-could-show-you-my-notes-from-7th-grade dept.
smaxp writes: Contrary to reports, Google didn't become a mobile carrier with the introduction of Google Fi. Google Fi was launched to prove that a network-of-networks serves smartphone users better than a single mobile carrier's network. Patents related to Google Fi, filed in early 2007, explain Google's vision – smartphones negotiate for and connect to the fastest network available. The patent and Google Fi share a common notion that the smartphone should connect to the fastest network available, not a single carrier's network that may not provide the best performance. It breaks the exclusive relationship between a smartphone and a single carrier. Meanwhile, a story at BostInno points out that Google's not the only one with a network-hopping hybrid approach to phone calls.
Google

Google Launches Project Fi Mobile Phone Service 111

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-carrier-in-town dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google unveiled today a new cell phone service called Project Fi. It offers the same basic functionality as traditional wireless carriers, such as voice, text and Internet access, but at a lower price than most common plans. From the article: "Google hopes to stand out by changing the way it charges customers. Typically, smartphone owners pay wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon a bulk rate for a certain amount of data. Google says it will let customers pay for only what data they use on their phones, from doing things like making calls, listening to music and using apps, potentially saving them significant amounts of money. For now, the program is invite-only and will only be available on Google's Nexus 6 smartphone."
Science

Old Marconi Patent Inspires Tiny New Gigahertz Antenna 76

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-small dept.
agent elevator writes Gehan Amaratunga and a group of engineers in England noted that the Guglielmo Marconi's famous British patent application from 1900 had an interesting and little noticed detail. It depicted a transmitter linked to an antenna connected to a coil, which had one end dangling while the RF signal was fed to the middle of the coil. That detail inspired them to develop a way to reduce the size of a GHz antenna without significant transmission loss by using dielectrics as the radio wave emitting material instead of conductors.
Input Devices

MIT Researchers Develop Wireless Trackpad For Your Thumbnail 19

Posted by Soulskill
from the adding-purpose-to-twiddling-your-thumbs dept.
itwbennett writes: Called NailO, the prototype trackpad is similar to the stick-on nails sometimes used as a fashion accessory. It attaches to the user's thumb and can be controlled by running a finger over its surface. The processor, battery, sensing chip and Bluetooth radio are included on a circuit board that sits under the capacitive trackpad. The two are connected via a small ribbon cable, which means the trackpad is not quite as thin as a stick-on nail, but reducing the size is one of the aims of the researchers.
Security

Calling Out a GAO Report That Says In-Flight Wi-Fi Lets Hackers Access Avionics 113

Posted by timothy
from the this-postcard-is-just-an-atom-bomb dept.
An anonymous reader writes A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) warns that in-flight W-Fi, including wireless entertainment and internet-based cockpit communications, may allow hackers to gain remote access to avionics systems and take over navigation. At the same time, a cyber expert and pilot called the report "deceiving" and said that "To imply that because IP is used for in-flight WiFi and also on the avionics networks means that you can automatically take over the avionics network makes about as much sense as saying you can take over the jet engines because they breathe air like the passengers and there is no air gap between passengers who touch the plane and the engines which are attached to the plane."
Network

Nokia Networks Demonstrates 5G Mobile Speeds Running At 10Gbps Via 73GHz 55

Posted by timothy
from the that-is-one-packed-headline dept.
Mark.JUK writes The Brooklyn 5G Summit appears to have provided a platform for Nokia Networks to demo a prototype of their future 5G (5th Generation) mobile network technology, which they claim can already deliver data speeds of 10 Gigabits per second using millimeter Wave (mmW) frequency bands of 73GHz. The demo also made use of 2×2 Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output (MIMO) links via single carrier Null Cyclic Prefix modulation and frame size of 100 micro seconds, although crucially no information about the distance of this demo transmission has been released and at 73GHz you'd need quite a dense network in order to overcome the problems of high frequency signal coverage and penetration.
Security

Research Finds Shoddy Security On Connected Home Gateways 88

Posted by timothy
from the junction-box-is-open dept.
chicksdaddy writes Connected home products are the new rage. But how do you connect your Nest thermostat, your DropCam surveillance device and your Chamberlin MyQ 'smart' garage door opener? An IoT hub, of course. But not so fast: a report from the firm Veracode may make you think twice about deploying one of these IoT gateways in your home. As The Security Ledger reports, Veracode researchers found significant security vulnerabilities in each of six IoT gateways they tested, suggesting that manufacturers are giving short shrift to security considerations during design and testing. The flaws discovered ranged from weak authentication schemes (pretty common) to improper validation of TLS and SSL certificates, to gateways that shipped with exposed debugging interfaces that would allow an attacker on the same wireless network as the device to upload and run malicious code. Many of the worst lapses seem to be evidence of insecure design and lax testing of devices before they were released to the public, Brandon Creighton, Veracode's research architect, told The Security Ledger. This isn't the first report to raise alarms about IoT hubs. In October, the firm Xipiter published a blog post describing research into a similar hub by the firm VeraLite. Xipiter discovered that, among other things, the VeraLite device shipped with embedded SSH private keys stored in immutable areas of the firmware used on all devices.
United States

Court Mulls Revealing Secret Government Plan To Cut Cell Phone Service 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-don't-want-to-talk-about-it dept.
An anonymous reader writes with the latest in the ongoing legal battle over revealing details of Standing Operating Procedure 303, the government's plan to cut mobile phone service during an emergency. "A federal appeals court is asking the Obama administration to explain why the government should be allowed to keep secret its plan to shutter mobile phone service during 'critical emergencies.' The Department of Homeland Security came up with the plan—known as Standing Operating Procedure 303—after cellular phones were used to detonate explosives targeting a London public transportation system. SOP 303 is a powerful tool in the digital age, and it spells out a 'unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.'"
AT&T

Court Refuses To Dismiss AT&T Throttling Case 105

Posted by Soulskill
from the time-to-pay-the-piper dept.
Taco Cowboy sends news that a federal judge has shot down AT&T's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company deceived customers by throttling their mobile data speeds. The suit was filed by the Federal Trade Commission after it found AT&T was charging customers for "unlimited" data plans, but then throttling their bandwidth once certain thresholds were reached. AT&T tried to have the suit thrown out by saying the FTC was exceeding its authority. Judge Edward Chen disagrees (PDF), saying jurisdiction for their conduct had not yet passed to the Federal Communications Commission when it occurred. The throttling affected "at least 3.5 million customers."
Privacy

Verizon Subscribers Can Now Opt Out of "Supercookies" 82

Posted by samzenpus
from the don't-track-me-bro dept.
itwbennett writes Verizon said in January that it would allow subscribers to opt out of having a unique identifier placed on their phones that critics have labelled a "supercookie" because it's almost impossible to remove, but it didn't say when. On Tuesday, Verizon said the identifier won't be inserted for customers who opt out of its mobile advertising program: "Verizon Wireless has updated its systems so that we will stop inserting the UIDH after a customer opts out of the relevant mobile advertising program or activates a line that is ineligible for the advertising program, such as as a government or business line," Verizon said in a change to its policies.
Facebook

Facebook Successfully Tests Laser Internet Drones 59

Posted by Soulskill
from the because-social-networks-need-laser-drones-for-stuff dept.
rtoz writes: At its F8 conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced the first hardware it plans to use to beam the Internet down to billions of people around the world. Codenamed "Aquila," the solar-powered drone has a wingspan comparable to a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a small car. It will be powered by solar panels on its wings, and it will be able to stay at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for months at a time. Facebook says it'll begin test flights this summer, with a broader rollout over the next several years. The drones were tested over the UK recently, and everything worked as expected.
Security

Big Vulnerability In Hotel Wi-Fi Router Puts Guests At Risk 40

Posted by samzenpus
from the protect-ya-neck dept.
An anonymous reader writes Guests at hundreds of hotels around the world are susceptible to serious hacks because of routers that many hotel chains depend on for their Wi-Fi networks. Researchers have discovered a vulnerability in the systems, which would allow an attacker to distribute malware to guests, monitor and record data sent over the network, and even possibly gain access to the hotel's reservation and keycard systems. The vulnerability, which was discovered by Justin W. Clarke of the security firm Cylance, gives attackers read-write access to the root file system of the ANTlabs devices. The discovery of the vulnerable systems was particularly interesting to them in light of an active hotel hacking campaign uncovered last year by researchers at Kaspersky Lab. In that campaign, which Kaspersky dubbed DarkHotel.
Businesses

Comcast's Incompetence, Lack of Broadband May Force Developer To Sell Home 536

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-net-for-you dept.
BUL2294 writes Consumerist has an article about a homeowner in Kitsap County, Washington who is unable to get broadband service. Due to inaccurate broadband availability websites, Comcast's corporate incompetence, CenturyLink's refusal to add new customers in his area, and Washington state's restrictions on municipal broadband, the owner may be left with no option but to sell his house 2 months after he bought it, since he works from home as a software developer. To add insult to injury, BroadbandMaps.gov says he has 10 broadband options in his zip code, some of which are not applicable to his address, have exorbitant costs (e.g. wireless), or are for municipal providers that are prevented from doing business with him by state law. Yet, Comcast insists in filings that "the broadband marketplace is more competitive than ever." As someone who had Comcast call to cancel on the day of my closing (two days before my scheduled install) because they didn't offer service to my house after all, I can sympathize.
Communications

Full-Duplex Radio Integrated Circuit Could Double Radio Frequency Data Capacity 47

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-use-two-of-them-it's-even-better dept.
Zothecula writes Full-duplex radio communication usually involves transmitters and receivers operating at different frequencies. Simultaneous transmission and reception on the same frequency is the Holy Grail for researchers, but has proved difficult to achieve. Those that have been built have proven complex and bulky, but to be commercially useful in the ever-shrinking world of communications technology, miniaturization is key. To this end, engineers at Columbia University (CU) claim to have created a world-first, full-duplex radio transceiver, all on one miniature integrated circuit.
Censorship

Cuba Approves First Public Wi-Fi Hub In Havana 33

Posted by samzenpus
from the let-the-starcraft-begin dept.
An anonymous reader writes that Havana is on the verge of getting its first public wi-fi. "Cuba's state telecom agency Etecsa has granted approval to the artist Kcho to open the country's first public wireless hub at his cultural center. Kcho, who has close ties to the Cuban government, is operating the hub using his own, government-approved internet connection, and paying approximately $900 (£600) per month to run it. Only an estimated 5% — 25% of Cubans have any type of internet service. That is because internet access is incredibly expensive. For instance, an hour of internet access at a cafe can cost $4.50 — nearly a week's wages for the average Cuban. Kcho told the Associated Press he decided to offer free internet at the center, which opened in western Havana in January, in order to encourage Cubans to familiarize themselves with the internet."
Power

Why Apple Won't Adopt a Wireless Charging Standard 184

Posted by timothy
from the type-oughtta-be-enough-for-anyone dept.
Lucas123 writes As the battle for mobile dominance continues among three wireless charging standards, with many smartphone and wearable makers having already chosen sides, Apple continues to sit on the sideline. While the new Apple Watch uses a tightly coupled magnetic inductive wireless charging technology, it still requires a cable. The only advantage is that no port is required, allowing the watch case to remain sealed and water resistant. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, however, remain without any form of wireless charging, either tightly coupled inductive or more loosely coupled resonant charging. Over the past few years, Apple has filed patents on its own flavor of wireless charging, a "near field" or resonant technology, but no products have as yet come to market. If and when it does select a technology, it will likely be its own proprietary specification, which ensures accessory makers will have to pay royalties to use it.
Biotech

Controlling Brain Activity With Magnetic Nanoparticles 42

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-saw-that-episode-of-star-trek-too dept.
sciencehabit writes: Deep brain stimulation, which now involves surgically inserting electrodes several inches into a person's brain and connecting them to a power source outside the skull, can be an extremely effective treatment for disorders such as Parkinson's disease, obsessive compulsive disorder, and depression. The expensive, invasive procedure doesn't always work, however, and can be risky. Now, a study in mice (abstract) points to a less invasive way to massage neuronal activity, by injecting metal nanoparticles into the brain and controlling them with magnetic fields. The technique could eventually provide a wireless, nonsurgical alternative to traditional deep brain stimulation surgery, researchers say.
Businesses

Reactions to the New MacBook and Apple Watch 450

Posted by Soulskill
from the wrist-not-hip-enough dept.
As the dust settles from Apple's press conference yesterday, there have been a broad variety of reactions around the web. Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic says Apple's $10,000 watch demonstrates the company has lost its soul. "The prices grate. And they grate not because they’re so expensive, but because they’re gratuitously expensive. ... To many commentators, this is unsurprising. It’s good business sense, really. Apple has made its world-devouring profits by ratcheting up profit margins on iPhones. There is no better target for these massive margins than the super-rich. But high margins do not a luxury brand make." Others suspect the high-end watches are targeted more at rich people in China.

As for the less expensive watches, perhaps they're around not so much to become a new major sales category for Apple, but rather to drive more iPhone sales. Meanwhile, the redesigned MacBook may signify a bigger change for the laptop industry than people realize: "We don’t need all those other ports, Apple says. We are living in a wireless world now, where we can connect most of our peripherals without cords." The new MacBook has also fueled speculation that Apple could be working on a more powerful tablet, something that could compete with Microsoft's Surface Pro line.
The Internet

SpaceX Worried Fake Competitors Could Disrupt Its Space Internet Plan 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-us-all-the-spectrum dept.
Jason Koebler writes: The biggest impediment to SpaceX's plan to create a worldwide, satellite broadband network might not be the sheer technological difficulty of putting 4,000 satellites into space. Instead, outdated international and domestic regulations on satellite communications could stand in the way, according to a new Federal Communications Commission filing by the company. The company's attorneys wrote that the FCC might make it too easy for competitors to reserve communications bandwidth that they will never use. "Spectrum warehousing can be extremely detrimental and unprepared, highly speculative, or disingenuous applicants must be prevented from pursuing 'paper satellites' (or 'paper constellations'), which can unjustly obstruct and delay qualified applicants from deploying their systems."