Entries in Wireless Network (4)


Google to Build Wireless Networks in Africa, Asia

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Google is working to connect a billion or more new Internet users in the emerging markets of Africa and Asia, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The proposed network’s infrastructure is said to differ from Google’s high-speed Google Fiber service in that instead of running lines of fiber optic cable throughout communities or regions, Google is seeking to broadcast Internet service to regions wirelessly.

Google is said to be eyeing a system of  ”high-altitude platforms” – special balloons or blimps — to provide wireless Internet access for areas reaching “hundreds of square miles,” according to the Journal report. The search giant is also considering satellite broadcasts and using TV broadcast frequencies.

Sources close to the project told the Journal that different regions would require different methods of Internet access delivery, and there wouldn’t be any “one technology that will be the silver bullet.”

It’s unclear how far along the speculative undertaking is in terms of getting telecommunications partnerships or coordinating with local governments.  Google would likely need to seek permission and support from municipalities to see the project through, according to the Journal.

Google did not immediately respond to ABC News’ requests for comment on the proposed project.

As another part of the effort to connect potential users in these emerging areas, Google is said to be focusing on engineering  new, cost-efficient smartphone hardware to run its Android mobile operating system.  The incentive for Google to provide free or low-cost Internet service to new markets, reported the Journal, was that many would use Google services and software, thereby  increasing overall online traffic and ad revenue  for the company.

Google announced at this year’s I/O developer conference that the company had activated more than 900 million Android devices worldwide. Google’s Chrome Web browser (on multiple operating systems, mobile and desktop) now has more than 750 million users, according to the company.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Ad Agency Turns Homeless into Wi-Fi Hotspots in Texas

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- South by Southwest, the festival being held in Austin, Texas, this week, has been chock full of marketing stunts.  But perhaps the most daring one -- and possibly the biggest backfire -- has come from the New York-based advertising agency Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty (BBH).

The company turned homeless people on the streets of Austin into wireless hotspots.

Knowing there would be high demand for free Internet at the event, the agency outfitted 13 homeless people from the Front Steps shelter in Austin with 4G MiFi devices, which broadcast Internet signals.  Each participant was given a T-shirt to help advertise: "I'm Melvin, a 4G Hotspot."

Each homeless participant was paid $20 a day and got to keep all the donations.  It was suggested users pay $2 per 15 minutes of Internet time.  Users could pay in cash or donate through PayPal.

"Homeless Hotspots in particular came about when we focused on the environment at the annual SXSW event, at which getting high-speed Internet access can be a challenge," Emma Cookson, chairman of BBH, told ABC News.  "We thought it might be worth trialling, giving the opportunity to homeless people to sell 4G connectivity to the tech-oriented attendees instead of a printed paper."

The reaction to the "experiment" was overwhelmingly negative.  Wired's Tim Carmody described it as distopian and said "the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn't care anything at all about them or their future."

But the "homeless hotspots" might not actually have felt that way.

"I would say that these people are trying to help the homeless, and increase awareness," Melvin, one of the 13 homeless people in the program, told Buzzfeed.  "That's a good side of it, too --  we get to talk to people. Maybe give them a different perception of what homeless is like." 

Similarly, another participant, Dusty White, told ABC News that he doesn't feel taken for granted and that he enjoyed talking to people.

BBH said this was simply a pilot program.  Although it has been rumored that they might bring the program to New York City, Cookson told ABC News that it doesn't have any specific future plans yet, in New York or anywhere.

"We are listening hard to this deluge of feedback, trying to learn and respond, and we'll then consider what is appropriate to do next," she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


AT&T Raising Prices of Wireless Data Plans

David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Data hogs who are considering purchasing a smartphone or tablet with an AT&T plan may want to act quickly, or find the nearest wireless spots. AT&T is raising the prices of its wireless data plans and changing the data limits for new customers starting Sunday. The changes could add up to an extra $60 a year.

AT&T announced that new smartphone customers would have a choice of three new monthly data plans: $20 for 300 megabytes, or  $30 for 3 gigabytes. For $50, smartphone customers get 5 GB of data for tethering, or for sharing the Internet connection of another mobile device.

While the company described the new plans as a “great value,” Mike Gikas, Consumer Reports’ electronics senior editor, said, “giving you more data that you’re probably not going to use and charging you more is just a price hike.”

New smartphone customers who want additional data will have to pay $10 per additional gigabyte on the 3 GB and 5 GB plans. New customers with the 300 MB plan can get an extra 300 MB for $20.

Because data usage over Wi-Fi does not count against a customer’s monthly data usage, AT&T said it encouraged customers to keep their device’s Wi-Fi turned on. However, smartphone users who enable Wi-Fi on their phone may burn through battery power.

Existing smartphone and tablet customers can choose to keep their current plans, which are $15 for 200 MB, $25 for 2GB and $45 for 4 GB, and also include tethering, according to Consumer Reports. Under the old $25 plan, AT&T charged an overage fee of $10 per GB, so the new $30 plan could save data hogs $5 per month, according to Time.

The new tablet plans are $30 for 3 GB and $50 for 5 GB.

In July, competitor Verizon Wireless eliminated unlimited data plans for new smartphone customers and introduced plans of $30 for 2 GB, $50 for 5 GB or $80 for 10 gigabytes of monthly data usage. Verizon customers are charged $10 more for each additional GB.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Verizon iPhone: Should You Think Twice Before Buying?

Photo Courtesy - Verizon Wireless(NEW YORK) -- Verizon customers may have rejoiced when their cell phone carrier announced on Tuesday after months of speculation that it will start selling Apple's iPhone 4 in February, but some in the tech industry think consumers might want to wait a little bit more.

In a highly anticipated press event in New York, Verizon Wireless said it would begin selling the iPhone 4 on Feb. 10, ending AT&T's nearly three-year exclusive hold on the popular device.

Given longtime complaints about dropped calls and performance issues with AT&T's network, the announcement delighted both iPhone hopefuls and current owners.

But though Verizon's move means customers finally have the freedom to choose a new network, tech insiders suggest caution might be in order.

Tech blog Gizmodo, Business Insider, PCMag and others said consumers shouldn't snap up the carrier's iPhone -- yet.

"If this phone does what you want it to do, then buy it because there will always be something better coming out six months from now," said Sascha Segan, lead analyst for PCMag Mobile. "One thing you should think about, though, is that there are other great smartphones on Verizon that do things the iPhone doesn't do."

And if Apple loyalists want to get their hands on the company's latest and greatest, they may have to wait longer if they want it on Verizon's network.

Apple traditionally introduces a new iPhone each June, but Segan said the Verizon partnership may change things up.

"There is a possibility that Verizon may be set off by the AT&T iPhone by six months," he said, meaning that while AT&T customers could get an iPhone 5 in June, the newest version wouldn't reach Verizon customers until January 2012. "I'm not saying I know, but this is a plausible theory."

Segan also emphasized that while the iPhone is a solid smartphone option, there are several Android options that offer alluring features.

"The iPhone is a really good phone, but it's not the end of the decision process," Segan said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio