In May the World Health Organization published a report that said cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic.” Last month The Economist published a different report suggesting it simply wasn’t possible for the radio waves emitted by a cell phone to cause cells to mutate. Now, another group of research experts from Britain, the United States, and Sweden — who have studied the WHO report — are also arguing that there’s no connection between cell phones and cancer. “Although there remains some uncertainty, the trend in the accumulating evidence is increasingly against the hypothesis that mobile phone use can cause brain tumors in adults,” the group said in a recent report published in Environmental Health Perspectives. According to Reuters, a number of other studies have also been unable to find a link between increases in brain tumors and cell phones in the 10 years since cell phones have become commonplace. “This is a really difficult issue to research,” David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge told Reuters. Spiegelhalter was not part of the study but said that it’s “clear that any risk appears to be so small that it is very hard to detect — even in the masses of people now using mobile phones.” More →
Sprint’s CEO Dan Hesse has been a staunch opponent to AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. He has already proclaimed that the merger would “stifle innovation” in the U.S. wireless market, and now he’s stepping up his game. “Clearly, purely, we want to win and block the merger,” Hesse told Bloomberg in a recent interview. Reportedly, the CEO is working with 18 state regulators to stop the deal, and has even been speaking to CEOs of large U.S. tech firms to get others to speak out against the acquisition. Hesse says he wants the best for the entire industry, not just for Sprint. “The industry just won’t be as innovative and as dynamic as it has been,” he said. “It’ll gum up the works when everything has to go through these two big tollbooths, one that’s called AT&T and one that’s called Verizon.” AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, has argued the opposite. Stephenson says the merger will improve reliability on his network and will result in net job growth. Despite AT&T’s backing from major industry players such as Facebook, Microsoft, and Qualcomm, Hesse isn’t giving up. “An underdog is not thinking about the point spread; they’re thinking about winning the game,” Hesse said. “We can win this.” More →
What if you could charge your phone by simply tapping on the touchscreen display — never having to worry about plugging it in — or add more juice to your laptop every time you typed? New developments in piezoelectric technology at the RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have brought those dreams closer to a reality. Researchers there have been able to create a new thin piezoelectric film that is capable of turning those taps, or “mechanical pressure,” into electricity. “The power of piezoelectrics could be integrated into running shoes to charge mobile phones, enable laptops to be powered through typing or even used to convert blood pressure into a power source for pacemakers – essentially creating an everlasting battery,” lead co-author, Dr. Madhu Bhaskaran, said in the report, which was published in the July issue of Advanced Functional Materials. The technology isn’t quite there yet; Bhaskaran said that the next step will be using the piezoelectric materials to generate enough electricity to actually power our devices, and then building them into “low-cost, compact, structures.” We’re dreaming up super thin devices with minuscule batteries that are always on, but the report didn’t suggest how long it will take for that fiction to become fact. More →
In what is no doubt a response to Sprint’s statement Tuesday morning that AT&T is increasing its spectrum the wrong way by purchasing T-Mobile, T-Mobile’s senior vice president of government affairs, Tom Sugure, has issued a formal statement to those who oppose the acquisition. “The opponents of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger have had their final say as part of the FCC’s formal pleading cycle and, not surprisingly, they have failed to offer any credible arguments to support their view that the Commission should deny the transaction,” Sugrue said in the statement. Sprint, which has lashed back at the acquisition from the get-go has said the purchase will stifle innovation. ”What is surprising, however, is their repeated head-in-the-sand insistence that no spectrum crisis exists,” Sugrue added. “As part of their application, AT&T and T-Mobile provided a compelling showing of their need for more spectrum to continue to provide quality service to customers and roll out new technologies in the future. And the two companies have demonstrated that a combination of their networks and spectrum holdings is by far the best way to solve this problem and ensure improved service and enhanced innovation. The FCC has long acknowledged the harmful consequences of ignoring the spectrum crunch, and we are confident it will approve our proposed market-based solution.”
Following a report issued late last month by the World Health Organization suggesting cell phones may be carcinogenic, The Economist has published a response column dismissing the report as overblown. According to the report, low-frequency microwaves such as those emitted by cell phones simply do not have enough power to produce anything but extremely low levels of heat. ”No matter how powerful the transmitter, radio waves simply cannot produce ionising radiation,” the column reads. “Only gamma rays, X-rays and extreme ultra-violet waves, which operate in the far (ie, high-frequency) end of the electromagnetic spectrum, along with fission fragments and other particles from within an atom, and cosmic rays (those particles’ equivalents from outer space) are energetic enough to knock electrons off other atoms to break chemical bonds and produce dangerous molecules called free radicals. It is these highly reactive free radicals that damage a person’s DNA, causing mutation, radiation sickness, cancer and death, depending on the dose.” The energy carried by these microwaves, the report contends, is approximately one million times too weak to produce free radicals. More →
A new study obtained by ABC News suggests that cell phones and other personal electronic devices might be causing electronic interference on airplanes. U.S. airlines all require that passengers power off any and all electronic devices, many claiming that “flight mode,” isn’t even allowed. Of course, if you’re like us, you may ignore those warnings and leave your phone on until the last possible second (or entirely with flight mode activated). The report, however, found that there were 75 different incidents between 2003 and 2009 where interference from personal electronics was possible. From ABC News:
Twenty-six of the incidents in the report affected the flight controls, including the autopilot, autothrust and landing gear. Seventeen affected navigation systems, while 15 affected communication systems. Thirteen of the incidents produced electronic warnings, including “engine indications.” The type of personal device most often suspected in the incidents were cell phones, linked to four out of ten.
During one flight, for example, autopilot disengaged at 4,500 feet. When pilots asked flight attendants to search the cabin for electronic devices, they discovered that one phone and three iPods were being used. After those devices were powered down, the flight continued without any incident. ABC News’ aviation expert, John Nance, isn’t convinced the electronics are to blame, however. “If an airplane is properly hardened, in terms of the sheathing of the electronics, there’s no way interference can occur,” he said. For reference, there are over 35,000 flights daily in the United States. More →
In the mobile space there are leaders and followers, and our friends over at Novatel Wireless are clear leaders. The company’s MiFi devices set the market abuzz as people rushed to replace their older mobile broadband devices with portable mobile hotspots capable of connecting multiple devices to cellular data networks via Wi-Fi. Now, Novatel is extending its lead in the space by updating the AT&T MiFi 2372 with DLNA streaming media support. We’re big fans of making good gear even better, and by adding wireless media server capabilities to AT&T’s MiFi, that’s exactly what Novatel did. We tested the MiFi 2372′s new DLNA functionality and it indeed works exactly as expected — by simply connecting to the device over Wi-Fi, users can stream media stored on the MiFi’s microSD card to computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions or anything else that supports DLNA. We were able to stream movies, music and even browse photos from an iPhone, a laptop and an LCD TV as well. We had no problems whatsoever, and — surprisingly — battery life doesn’t seem to take too much of a hit. If you own an AT&T MiFi 2372 and haven’t updated the software yet, consider this your motivation. A video showcasing the MiFi’s DLNA capabilities follows below. More →
Sprint’s already been very vocal about its opposition to AT&T’s planned purchase of T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom, but on Tuesday the carrier officially asked the Federal Communications Commission to step in and block the purchase. In its 377-page filing, Sprint argued that the acquisition would make AT&T the nation’s largest carrier with a total of 118 million subscribers and a 43% grip on the postpaid market. The carrier added that Verizon and AT&T would earn 78% of all wireless revenues and the “Twin Bell” duopoly would have an 82% grasp of the postpaid market, making it difficult for other carriers such as Sprint to compete. AT&T, meanwhile, has argued that the acquisition will create jobs, will not stifle competition, and will help deliver high-speed wireless broadband to 97% of U.S. residents. More →
AT&T officially announced the Pantech Crossover on Tuesday, Pantech’s first Android smartphone. The Crossover is powered by a 600MHz processor, runs Android 2.2 (Froyo), sports a full slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 3.1-inch touchscreen display, support for 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi networks, a 2GB microSD card, a 3-megapixel camera, and a 1,500 mAh battery good for up to five hours of use. It may not offer the best specs, but it does come with an affordable price tag. You’ll be able to pick up the Pantech Crossover on June 5th for just $69.99 with a new two-year A&T contract. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
T-Mobile USA introduced two new 4G prepaid plans on Tuesday. These plans are in addition to the new prepaid options the carrier announced on May 23rd. One costs $50 per month and provides unlimited text, talk, and 100MB of data. The second offers 5GB of data, and unlimited talk and text for $70 per month. As usual, any subscriber that surpasses the data allotment will see their data speeds drop considerably until the next billing cycle begins. Hit the break for T-Mobile’s press release. More →
According to a new report from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, “radio frequency electromagnetic fields” are “possibly carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer associated with wireless phone use.” The agency met with with 31 scientists from 14 countries from May 24th through May 31st, 2011 to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards of cell phone usage. The report said that the results were “evaluated as being limited among users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma,” and that it was not relevant to finding conclusions for whether or not cell phones can cause other types of cancers. “Given the potential consequences for public health of this classification and findings, it is important that additional research be conducted into the long-term, heavy use of mobile phones,” IARC Director Chrisopher Wild said. “Pending the availability of such information, it is important to take pragmatic measures to reduce exposure such as hands-free devices or texting.” The full report will be published on July 1 in The Lancet Oncology. More →
The Public Utilities Commission in California will investigate AT&T’s planned acquisition of T-Mobile, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. The Golden state is one of three states that Sprint has asked to investigate the deal — the other two are West Virginia and Louisiana. “We believe a thorough investigation will reveal the negative implications for pricing, choice, and innovation critical to California’s economy,” Sprint’s public affairs manager, John Taylor, said. “Sprint is pleased that the commission will open up a proceeding to investigate the proposed takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T.” AT&T originally filed its informal notice with California’s Public Utilities Commission on May 3rd, and Sprint protested the filing on May 19th when it asked for a review of the merger. The regulators will consider three options, one of which is a choice to notify AT&T that its purchase is not “pre-approved” after the standard 30-day time period after an application is submitted. Sprint has opposed the acquisition from day one, and its CEO Dan Hesse said the deal would “stifle innovation” in the U.S. wireless market. More →
Earlier this week T-Mobile announced the Rocket 3.0, a new USB data stick built by ZTE that’s capable of running on T-Mobile’s new upgraded 42Mbps HSPA+ 4G network. As our luck would have it, the friendly FedEx guy just dropped off the Rocket 3.0. T-Mobile’s newly upgraded 42Mbps network is available in new markets 55 markets, as well as in New York City, Orlando, and Las Vegas. In our office we averaged 1.17Mbps on the downlink, and 1.07Mbps on the uplink. That’s slow, and in New York City and that throughput is a far cry from what we get with Verizon’s 4G LTE network — but again, we’re not in the 42Mbps coverage area. However, there are parts of New York City that offer optimal data connections, and we’ll be sure to visit them in our full review. The build design of the device is nearly identical to earlier webConnect Rocket products, and we definitely prefer less bulky MiFi devices to USB sticks. The Rocket 3.0 is available for $99.99 from T-Mobile now with a new two year contract. T-Mobile hopes to cover 150 million people with its 4G network this year. Check out our hands-on gallery and hit the jump to see if you’re in one of T-Mobile’s 42Mbps markets.