An investment firm has unveiled an ambitious plan to build a high-speed wireless broadband network that would cover more than 90 percent of the United States by 2015. New York-based Harbinger Capital Partners said it has signed a seven billion dollar agreement with Finnish-German giant Nokia Siemens Networks to “deploy, install, operate, and maintain” a broadband network called “LightSquared.” LightSquared said its satellite and mobile broadband network would offer broadband capacity to wireless providers, retailers, cable operators, device maker, content providers and other businesses. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, who has made expanding access to high-speed Internet one of his top priorities, welcomed the new venture. LightSquared said it expects to launch commercially in the second half of next year and to cover at least 100 million Americans by December 2012. The partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks was announced one day after the Finnish-German giant announced plans to buy most of Motorola’s wireless network infrastructure assets for 1.2 billion dollars
Cathay Pacific has announced plans to fit its entire fleet with full broadband Internet access, a mobile phone service and even live television. In a deal with Panasonic Avionics, the eXConnect broadband system will have speeds of up to 50 megabytes on the Hong Kong flag-carrier’s aircraft by early 2012. Flights will also have a call and data service for mobile phones. The system will be accessible through all passenger devices and seatback screens and will include a range of content updated during the flight, plus live television with a pay-per-view capability for special events. It will not, however, be free. The airline will announce the pricing structure when the system is rolled out. The crew will also be able to monitor and transmit airline operational data in real time. Cathay says it is the first airline in Asia to announce its intention to deploy the Panasonic broadband system and the first airline in the world to announce its use across its full fleet. Several other airlines, including Delta and Virgin, are also updating their fleets with Wifi systems
An eagerly-awaited submarine cable linking West Africa to Europe has gone live, paving the way for cheaper and more reliable Internet access in one of the world’s fastest-growing telecoms markets, its operators said Friday. The 7,000 km fibre optic Main One Cable runs from Portugal to Nigeria and Ghana, and also branches out to Morocco, the Canary Islands, Senegal and Ivory Coast. The Main One Cable Company says it delivers more than ten times the broadband capacity of the South Atlantic Terminal (SAT-3), Nigeria’s sole existing undersea cable, and 20 times the entire satellite capacity of sub-Saharan Africa. “The ramifications of Main One’s cable will be felt in all sectors – from education, to health, to entertainment, helping drive economic growth and creating job opportunities all over Africa,” the company said in a statement. An expanding network and falling prices are expected to fuel explosive growth in mobile broadband in Africa over the next few years, particularly Nigeria, which has overtaken South Africa to become the continent’s largest mobile telecoms market. Internet connectivity in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of 140 million people with 5 percent broadband penetration levels, is expensive and unreliable and many business are forced to rely on satellite communications.
Finland has become the first country in the world to make broadband a legal right for every citizen. From 1 July every Finn will have the right to access to a 1Mbps (megabit per second) broadband connection. Finland has vowed to connect everyone to a 100Mbps connection by 2015. The Finnish deal means that from 1 July all telecommunicatons companies will be obliged to provide all residents with broadband lines that can run at a minimum 1Mbps speed. It is believed up to 96 percent of the population are already online and that only about 4,000 homes still need connecting to comply with the law.
Guyana is talking with one of China’s largest telecommunication suppliers as it finalizes a plan to provide cheaper Internet access and provide connection in rural areas. President Bharrat Jagdeo says he met with representatives from Huawei Technologies Co. to talk about installing a fiber optic cable network along the coast of the South American country. Jagdeo also seeks to broaden available bandwidth to attract construction of call centers and data-management businesses. A new USD 60m cable installed in January that runs from Suriname to Guyana is expected to lower rates and speed up connections by next month. Jagdeo said Friday that he also expects to bring another cable from Brazil to help improve services.
Decision designed to speed the deployment of high-speed wireless internet technologies
The European Commission (EC) has adopted harmonised technical rules for member states on the allocation of radio frequencies, aimed at avoiding interference and boosting its efforts to improve the deployment of high speed wireless internet services. In many member states the 800MHz frequency is being freed up as part of the “digital dividend” resulting from the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting. The new decision by the EC means that if member states now decide to change the existing frequency allocation for broadcasting, they must immediately apply the new harmonised technical rules to make these frequencies available to wireless broadband applications. Although the decision does not itself require member states to make available the 790-862 MHz band for electronic communication services, the Commission said it is considering such a proposal in the forthcoming Radio Spectrum Policy Programme. The Commission said it wants EU countries to act quickly in freeing up the extra radio frequency, predicting that “coordinated management of this spectrum” could give an economic boost of up to EUR 44bn to the EU’s economy and help to achieve the EU 2020 Strategy target of high-speed broadband for all by the end of 2013.
Mobile comparison website Broadband Genie has revealed the latest results of its annual “road trip” state of mobile broadband analysis which compares the real life performance of six of Britain’s biggest mobile phone operators.
The Broadband Genie team carried out the experiment on a 350-miles return journey from Cambridge to Bournemouth in a train and the tests consisted of downloading podcasts, streaming videos and audio. All operators were commended by BG for what was essentially a pleasant trip without many hitches. All however were unable to match last year’s feat by Vodafone which finished all tests; indeed the six operators had at least two failures.
Amongst performances that impressed, T-Mobile managed to push a 13MB podcast in 22 seconds only, which translates into an eye popping 4.8Mbps. Both Vodafone and 3 UK also managed to put in some decent numbers although not as spectacular as T-Mobile. The other three – Virgin Media, O2 and Orange – didn’t fare as well though with much slower download performances.
Interestingly, four of the dongles being used were manufactured by Chinese giant Huawei with the two others courtesy of ZTE and TCT. O2 was the only provider which stuck to last year’s dongle. That said, measuring speeds on a mobile broadband service is fraught with difficulties because of so many variables that affect a particular test. This ranges from the time of the day, the number of concurrent users, the train speed, tunnels etc
As of June 1, British broadcaster Sky is to upgrade all of its existing broadband customers to (up to) 20Mbps, and streamline its packages to two simple offerings. The company is also going to give all Sky TV and telephone line subscribers the highest speeds possible for free.
Sky has created two broadband options to suit all of its customers’ needs, with Sky Everyday Lite aimed at those who casually browse the internet, and Sky Unlimited for the more hardcore ‘net user.
Everyday Lite will be free to all Sky TV customers with Sky Talk, but will be capped with a 2GB monthly download limit, whereas, for an extra £7.50 per month, the Unlimited plan is completely open ended for massive use. It comes with no usage caps, fair use policies or traffic management, and it is essentially created for those who want to use Sky Player video-on-demand services.
Of course, the Digital Economy Bill will still be in effect, but Sky pledges not to slow down traffic, even at busy times of the day.
U.S. regulators will announce a major Internet policy this week to revolutionize how Americans communicate and play, proposing a dramatic increase in broadband speeds that could let people download a high-definition film in minutes instead of hours. Dramatically increasing Internet speeds to 25 times the current average is one of the myriad goals to be unveiled in the National Broadband Plan by the the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday. The highly anticipated plan will make a series of recommendations to Congress and is aimed at spurring the ever-changing communications industry to bring more and faster online services to Americans as they increasingly turn to the Internet to communicate, pay monthly bills, make travel plans and be entertained by movies and music. The Obama administration has touted the plan as a way to create jobs and make energy use more efficient. Officials have said the plan will ask Congress to fund up to USD 16bn to build an emergency public safety system. It would also tell lawmakers that a one-time injection of USD 9bn could accelerate broadband reach to the 4 percent of Americans who do have access. Otherwise they could let the FCC carry out a 10-year plan to realign an USD 8bn U.S. subsidy program for universal broadband access instead of universal phone access.
The European Union’s Committee of the Regions has called on the European Commission (EC) to close the digital divide by ensuring that all citizens in the region have affordable broadband access. The EC has outlined its desire to get everyone online with high-speed connections by 2013 as part of the Europe 2020 plan, and the Committee has backed the initiative in a report written by Belgian MEP Jean-François Istasse. However, the report goes on to say that the EC must not rely on markets alone to deliver high-speed internet in hard-to-reach rural communities, mountainous regions and islands. The Committee has called on the EC to create policies that acknowledge market failure, and to set up public initiatives to help develop open networks in these areas. The Committee also warned of the potential impact on town planning and the environment from widespread deployments of antennas and masts