New Super Wi-Fi: Will it Deliver?

Wi-Fi and other technologies that are supposed to make wireless connectivity ubiquitous have been somewhat slow in coming and we are often hearing ‘great things are around the corner’ but they have not truly delivered. This article on By Ryan Singel looks into what might be possible with the new lower frequency Wi-Fi being researched now.

Wifi! By Florian Boyd/flickr. Used with gratitude via a Creative Commons license.

In late September, the FCC announced it would be freeing up spectrum from television broadcasters and opening it to public use to create “super Wi-Fi.”

Tech industry groups and public interests groups hailed the new “white-space spectrum” as a way to expand upon the success of the open frequencies that allow anyone to set up a Wi-Fi radio hot spot in their house or coffee shop, without needing to buy spectrum or get a license.

But what will this super-Wi-Fi look like in practice? Will it replace the 3G service we pay for for our smartphones? How fast will it be? Will we need new equipment or can our current laptops and cellphones just be upgraded? asked the experts at smart Wi-Fi equipment maker Ruckus Wireless in Sunnyvale, California, to find out.

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Carriers Say No to Airporn

Some excerpts and comments on an original Article posted at By Dave Demerjian

plane laptop

People get bored on long flights, which is why we love in-flight Internet access. It lets people check email, read, watch the stock market collapse and enjoy their favorite scenes from On Golden Blonde and Forest Hump.

Airlines, worried the wi-fi services they’re rolling out will turn planes into flying porn theaters, are installing filters to prevent passengers from surfing smut. The decision is hailed by flight attendants — who’ve so far been responsible for preventing porn peeping — and by activists concerned that children and other passengers might be subjected to objectionable material. They also worry unfettered onboard Internet access poses a security and safety risk.

American Airlines says it will “implement technology to filter pornographic content over it’s Gogo in-flight Internet service.” It’s an about-face for the airline, which had said it would leave the nannying to flight attendants. The course correction was prompted in part by the vocal concerns of flight attendants who didn’t want to be morality cops after the airline started offering in-flight wi-fi last month.

“Flight attendants are on board to provide security and safety for passengers, not to monitor their Internet usage,” Corey Caldwell of the Association of Flight Attendants told “We’re glad the airlines have responded to our concerns and to those of passengers.”

But at least one privacy rights advocate opposes the idea and says blocking porn is the first step down a slippery slope.

“I don’t think it makes much sense,” Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Filters do nothing to keep people from viewing inappropriate material stored on their laptops and open the door to blocking other content airlines — or others — might deem inappropriate, he says. “It’s so easy, once that precedent is set, to broaden … the kind of information blocks that might be imposed.”

Airline cabin crews aren’t the only ones worried about airborne porn. Girls Against Porn lobbied American to install filters, urging the airline to consider the harm inappropriate content might have on passengers and citing a particularly disgusting incident that has resulted in a $200,000 lawsuit against American. “The airlines risk having this happen repeatedly if the Internet isn’t filtered,” Girls Against Porn said in a statement.

Delta Airlines, which rolls out in-flight wi-fi later this year, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution it will filter inappropriate content. “Blocking will be limited in scope and will be for sites that few, if any, would question are inappropriate to be viewed on an aircraft,” spokesman Kent Landers said, addressing concerns about filters known to block non-erotic sites such as Vanity Fair.

The two airlines are working with Aircell, which provides the wi-fi technology, to find a filter, though the company has yet come up with a solution. “We want to be good partners to the customers coming to us with these types of concerns,” a company source told “We’re working with them to come up with an effective solution.”

When they do, passengers will have to find another way to occupy themselves on those long-haul flights.

Handset Innovation Review 2008

telecom imageiPhones have started a revolution.

As of yesterday, we have the feisty upstart, the G1

For those who are interested in what mobile computing will look like in the future, or to help create it yourself;

The Telecom Council of Silicon Valley presents the Handset Innovation
Review, sponsored by Kotra.

Thu, Oct 9, 8:30am-5:00pm, Santa Clara

As the delivery vehicle, handsets a critical part of EVERY industry
stakeholders value chain. Handsets are such a rich topic; we could
talk about them all day and still have covered nothing but Nokia! In
this meeting on handsets we’ll try to bite off a more manageable
piece of the handset space, and one that is very important today: The
Handset development lifecycle and how to insert innovation into

The iPhone set off a flurry of handset innovation: from UI to touch
screens, faster processors, Wifi, sleek designs, and an end-to-end
ecosystem. Now, the data is unmistakable, and every vendor wants to
mimic the look and feel of the iPhone, while every carrier wants to
see the spike in service use that the iPhone UI stimulates.

* So what are the elements that make phones successful?
* Is beauty only skin deep? Or changes start down in the silicon?
* How can entrepreneurs influence future handsets?
* Who controls and owns the UI?
* Touch, Haptics, icons, screen size, buttons, keyboards. What are
the physical elements of success?
* What are handset CVC and R&D groups looking for from Silicon Valley?

Join us as the Telecom Council, our Mobile Forum, and a roster of
speakers and experts discuss the topics above, and as the delegates
in the room decide how the UI of tomorrow will look and feel.

If you are interested, you can see more information here:

WiFi on Public Transportation

Several Airlines have started providing Wifi on their flights for passengers, including American and Delta. The price is $12.95. I had heard about this a few weeks ago and am glad to see them moving forward with a plan that will allow people to be more productive on those long flights. There is a good article stating Five Reasons Why it Will Take Off. I wonder if you pay for the service if they will still make you turn off all your devices during take-off and landing? is that time prorated?

I am taking the Amtrak tomorrow (really later today) to go to San Jose for a conference on internet video, gaming and other technical aspects of my job. NVision. I was hoping there would be Wifi on the train as well. It IS the Capitol Corridor. This is the Bay Area for gosh sakes, we can’t even go get out double lattes without needing to check email and twitter!

Alas, the project to provide Wifi on the train won’t be completed until 2009. I guess I’ll have to resort to the 3G network instead. Drat.