It’s taken a while but it looks like New York City will finally go through with a brilliant plan that will greatly expand the number of Wi-Fi hotspots available throughout the five boroughs. New York mayor Bill de Blasio this week announced that he’s seeking proposals for how to best build a citywide Wi-Fi network that uses pay phone booths as hotspots. This initiative started under former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg but it was fairly limited in reach — de Blasio apparently wants to push it much further to create a Wi-Fi network capable of spanning huge chunks of the city. More →
Believe it or not, public Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t always the most secure way to access the web when you’re on the go. This is why security firm Secure Data Recovery has put together a handy infographic that gives you tips and tricks for avoiding some of the most common dangers associated with using public Wi-Fi hotspots. More →
The entire home automation industry is about to be upended by startups. Companies that are starting out small have a clear and concise vision: one in which your home and the many things in it can all communicate and work seamlessly with each other.
I have been looking for the perfect way to automate a room, a whole floor, and an entire house for the past ten years and have consistently been disappointed. Disappointed with the integration, the cost, the flexibility, and the ease of use. More →
Carriers have long complained about data-hungry smartphone users clogging up their networks, but a new study from Juniper Research suggests that their plans to limit their customers’ data consumption might be working a bit too well. Juniper’s latest report “forecasts that almost 50% of data traffic generated by mobile phones, tablets and other 3G/4G connected devices, will be offloaded to Wi-Fi and Small Cell networks this year.” While this is on the surface good for carriers because it relieves congestion on their networks, Juniper points out that it could also lead to more consumers choosing cheaper data plans with low bandwidth caps if they become accustomed to hooking onto Wi-Fi for most of their mobile data needs. Juniper notes that “in response, operators are actively partnering with existing Wi-Fi networks and launching their own carrier grade Wi-Fi solutions” so they don’t get completely left out in the cold.
Anyone who remembers the ’80s surely recalls the television ads for The Clapper, the sound recognition system that you could use to turn lights and appliances off and on just by clapping your hands. Researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a more sophisticated version of this idea by configuring Wi-Fi antennas used in your home gadgets to interpret hand gestures so you can turn on lights, adjust your thermostat and change channels on your television all with the wave of a hand. The University of Washington says that its technology is very similar to the technology used for Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect sensor but adds that it’s “simpler, cheaper and doesn’t require users to be in the same room as the device they want to control… because Wi-Fi signals can travel through walls and aren’t bound by line-of-sight or sound restrictions.” A video demonstration of the technology is posted below. More →
In a move that’s sure to cheer everyone who likes having more unlicensed Wi-Fi spectrum, the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday announced that it wants to follow chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan to free up a 195MHz chunk of spectrum on the 5GHz band for unlicensed Wi-Fi use. The FCC says that freeing up the new spectrum will “provide access to additional contiguous spectrum with consistent technical requirements, allowing unlicensed devices to use wider bandwidth channels, leading to faster speeds.”
Given carriers’ past efforts to quash municipal Wi-Fi plans, it isn’t any surprise that they aren’t big fans of a Federal Communications Commission plan to deploy a free Wi-Fi network across large areas of the United States. The Washington Post reports that the FCC has proposed creating “super Wi-Fi networks across the nation, so powerful and broad in reach that consumers could use them to make calls or surf the Internet without paying a cellphone bill every month,” and carriers are extremely unhappy about it. It isn’t exactly hard to understand why, since the Post writes that the new free Wi-Fi networks will be used “to make free calls from their mobile phones via the Internet” and “could even use the service in their homes, allowing them to cut off expensive Internet bills.”
UPDATE: Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica has found that the premise of the Washington Post’s entire story is completely faulty. Essentially, the Post took the FCC’s old plans to open up spectrum on the 600MHz band for unlicensed use and decided this constituted a new plan to create a free Wi-Fi network that people could use to replace their carriers. But as Brodkin puts it, we’ll get free super Wi-Fi from the FCC when unicorns come to life.
Good news for everyone who’s tired of shoddy Wi-Fi connectivity in crowded cafes: the Federal Communications Commission is here to help. As CNET reports, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski made an important announcement at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday when he discussed plans to free up 195MHz of spectrum on the 5GHz band, a move that will significantly boost Wi-Fi performance and ease congestion on crowded networks. The reallocation of spectrum on the 5GHz band would also represent “the largest block of unlicensed spectrum that has been made available for expansion of Wi-Fi since 2003,” CNET writes. The 5GHz band is currently being used by numerous federal government agencies, although Genachowski expressed confidence that the FCC can work with others in the government to get the spectrum free for unlicensed use.
Researchers at North Carolina State University have come up with a breakthrough technology that could actually make the Wi-Fi hotspot at your local Starbucks perform well. As IDG News reports, the new WiFox protocol was designed specifically for public Wi-Fi hotspots that suffer from degraded performance while being used by several different devices at once. Specifically, the new technology “monitors [Wi-Fi] traffic and implements a ‘priority’ mode when a router is in danger of being overloaded of traffic,” thus clearing Wi-Fi congestion and reducing packet loss. The researchers found that WiFox boosted crowded hotspot performance by between 400% and 700% overall, depending on how many users were in a particular area.
Why settle for using either LTE or Wi-Fi when you could use both? That’s the question that researchers at several major universities have tried to answer by developing a new wireless technology capable of opening up more bandwidth by delivering the best of both wireless worlds. According to Technology Review, the new wireless tech has been developed by “researchers at MIT, the University of Porto in Portugal, Harvard University, Caltech, and Technical University of Munich” and is able to “seamlessly weave data streams from Wi-Fi and LTE” to deliver data more efficiently. More →
JetBlue (JBLU) is looking to keep its customers more entertained than ever before while traveling. According to a purported internal memo obtained by The Verge, the discount airline will soon partner with ViaSat (VSAT) to offer free high-speed Internet access across its entire fleet. Initial tests are said to be very fast with 10 Web pages loading in an average of 1 minute and 18 seconds, almost eight times faster than an unnamed competitor. The company will offer in-flight Wi-Fi for free until at least 30 planes have been equipped with the technology, and then the service will reportedly remain free for only “basic email and browsing” purposes. JetBlue will begin rolling out its high-speed wireless networking in the first quarter of 2013, the memo stated. More →
Wi-Fi has been one of the most useful technologies developed over the past couple of decades and it’s about to get even better now that manufacturers will be allowed to create devices that run on the former television “white space” spectrum that lets signals travel farther and penetrate more deeply into buildings. And to help speed up the adoption of this so-called “Super Wi-Fi,” wireless technology company Spectrum Bridge has announced a certification program for wireless OEMs that want to zip through the Federal Communications Commission’s rigorous certification process that the commission put in place to make sure that “Super Wi-Fi” devices don’t interfere with television broadcasts being run over adjacent spectrum. Spectrum Bridge’s full press release follows below. More →