Zero-rating unlikely to undermine Net Neutrality, ITIF report argues

by Matt Klassen on May 26, 2016

ITIFStrictly speaking, zero-rating services, which allow consumers to access certain online content and services without it counting against their monthly data allotments, violates the spirit of net neutrality, of that there is no doubt. By definition zero-rated data is treated differently than other data (primarily, it’s free), and there’s no question that it has been created solely to influence consumer behaviour (tempting them to access certain content or services over others) and because of that, many dissenters are up in arms over the potential deleterious impact such services could have on a free and open Internet.

Now a new report from the public interest think-tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) concedes all those points at the outset, acknowledging that on the face of it zero-rating violates the most rigid understanding of Net Neutrality. But, the report argues, “Adhering to such a strict interpretation of net neutrality would be misguided.”

In fact, ITIF argues that while zero-rating is clearly designed to influence consumer behaviour, its presence is unlikely to harm the cause of the open Internet. Moreover, the existence of such services is “a sign of healthy product differentiation that more efficiently allocates scarce resources in a competitive market, ultimately improving consumer value,” and speaks to a healthy and vibrant online marketplace.

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How do you solve a problem like small cell technology?

by Matt Klassen on May 25, 2016

small cellIn an effort to increase the coverage and density of mobile networks in preparation for forthcoming 5G wireless technology, wireless carriers have long seen small cell sites as the most cost effective and efficient way to go about improving and expanding their networks. But it seems that small cell technology isn’t quite the saviour of our wireless future we were all promised, as deploying the technology across urban America has proved to be more complex, costly, and time-consuming than anyone expected.

To that end, Sprint has been among the most vocal advocates for small cell tech, promising last summer that 70,000 units would be installed across the nation within two years. At almost the half way point of that goal and Mobilitie, the company contracted to manage site acquisition and unit deployment for Sprint, has admitted that fewer than 2,000 have been deployed to date. Add to that the fact that AT&T’s initial fervour regarding small cell tech has all but disappeared, and it would seem the viability of small cell tech is certainly in question.

But despite these challenges and the unclear path forward towards developing true 5G technologies, carriers, by and large, remain committed to small cell development, hoping to install, establish, and “industrialize” small cell networks before the advent of the next generation of wireless networks…the only thing they can’t agree on is the best way to do it.

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Uber Enters the World of Self-Driving Cars

by Matt Klassen on May 24, 2016

UBER4While self-driving car technology has raised many questions over the past year or so related to the reliability and safety of robots in assuming the task of operating our conveyances, this technological revolution has brought many non-traditional players into the automotive industry, including tech behemoths Google and Apple. Now amidst the scepticism that technology companies know anything about vehicles, we hear of yet another non-traditional company looking to make its mark, controversial riding sharing service Uber.

Granted Uber seems inherently more connected to the automotive industry than does Apple or Google or other such tech companies, as Uber’s entire business is premised on connecting people with available vehicles, already revolutionizing the way people get around. Now the company is looking to take things one step further, creating self-driving cars and, by extension, removing the one thing that has hampered Uber’s adoption worldwide: the drivers themselves.

Without the enterprising spirit of Google and Apple, Uber’s efforts towards self-driving technology have much more to do with the technology itself, and much less to do with the platform. To that end, Uber hasn’t actually “built” its own autonomous vehicle, it has simple retrofitted an existing Ford Fusion with its own proprietary technology in hopes of rushing its product to market, with the ultimate goal of controlling the entire driving services market.

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Deliver actual 4G before developing 5G, Analyst Argues

by Jeff Wiener on May 20, 2016

5GThe rush is on to produce viable commercial grade 5G technology as quickly as possible, but with no development path yet charted, no clear guidelines on how to get there, and no common understanding of what exactly constitutes such a radical technological paradigm shift, perhaps it’s time to take a step back, calm the hype, and slow the industry’s mad dash towards next generation 5G advances.

In fact, one analyst has gone so far as to say that instead of focusing on developing the next generational network technology, the tech industry should instead focus on developing true 4G technology, upgrading the current network technology to its fullest potential, while reserving any so-called “5G” efforts for the Internet of Things.

Stéphane Téral, research director for mobile infrastructure and carrier economics at IHS, told attendees at this week’s DAS & Small Cell Congress that the wireless industry needs to take a step back from all the marketing hype surrounding 5G development, stating that for the most part global networks haven’t even mastered 4G technology, so speaking of what’s next is grossly premature. Instead, the industry should focus on evolving 4G technology into what it was meant to be, leaving all the extra 5G advances for running the growing IoT infrastructure.

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Google Patents Human Flypaper, looks to end pedestrian fatalities in car accidents

by Matt Klassen on May 20, 2016

Google patentIn an effort to avoid any potential pedestrian fatalities related to self-driving automobiles, it was revealed this week that Google has applied for a patent related to a “sticky” adhesive solution that would carry pedestrians along with the car in the event of an accident. Say what now? Yes, Google’s solution to solving car accidents involving pedestrians is to stick them to the front of the car, avoiding the added injury of the person being violently ejected when the vehicle subsequently brakes after a crash.

One of the biggest selling points for driverless vehicle technology is that it will greatly reduce instances of human error on the road, ultimately reducing the amount of fatal accidents on the road. But despite this claim the fact of the matter is that robots are prone to mistakes as well, and as we’ve already seen, accidents will still happen, so Google has started to think of ways to mitigate the damage of the crashes that will still invariably occur.

Now before you think this is way off in left field, there is actually some precedent already for crash technology involving pedestrians, as Volvo currently deploys an exterior airbag at the base of the windshield to help mitigate the severity of the impact between the pedestrian and the front portion of the vehicle, this patent is an extension of that line of thinking.

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Nokia takes Circuitous Route Back to the Mobile Market

by Matt Klassen on May 19, 2016

nokiaAfter Nokia’s mobile division was acquired by Microsoft in 2013, we all wondered what the Redmond PC giant could do with the Finnish company’s tarnished mobile brand. Turns out, nothing. Under the watch of Microsoft the Nokia brand quickly faded away, a radical departure from the days when the “Nokia” name was synonymous with global cellular domination. But like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this week the Finnish tech giant announced its triumphant return to the mobile world…well sort of.

To begin this overly complicated tale, Microsoft confirmed earlier this week that it would be selling Nokia’s mobile assets to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn, and HMD Global, a nebulous Finnish firm that seems to be nothing but a renamed front for Nokia’s mobile interests, for $350 million, a move that allows Nokia, in some measure, to regain control of its own mobile branding, which under the original sales deal with Microsoft, the latter retained until this year.

Nokia then wasted no time in confirming its plans to re-enter the mobile phone and tablet market through a “strategic agreement covering branding rights and intellectual property licensing,” signing an agreement to allow the aforementioned FIH Mobile and HMD Global to produce Nokia branded mobile technology.

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Verizon’s Ploy to Transform Prepaid Customers into Postpaid Contracts

by Matt KlassenMay 18, 2016

In an effort to keep pace with rival and current wireless market disruptor T-Mobile, Verizon has finally turned its attention the prepaid market, something Big Red has traditionally left to the lesser lights of the wireless industry. To that end, Verizon announced that effective this past weekend, the data allotments at all prepaid price points […]

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Could the Flip Phone make a Comeback?

by Matt KlassenMay 17, 2016

As the size of smartphones continues to increase the mobile market is soon going to run into a serious redundancy dilemma: Is your phone powerful enough to replace your tablet, or conversely, is your tablet functional enough to replace your phone? My guess, however, is that neither will happen, at least not until the complete […]

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Increasing Number of Teens are “addicted” to their Phones

by Matt KlassenMay 16, 2016

More than alcohol or drugs, it looks like the new pox on teenagers is something that most of us have within 5 feet of us right now: smartphones. Earlier this month Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization that provides education and advocacy to families regarding technology and media usage for children, released the findings for […]

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Growing Successful B2B Relationships

by Jeff WienerMay 13, 2016

As with any mutually beneficial relationship, there is a relatively simple formula for establishing and maintaining healthy and successful business-to-business relationships, yet you’d be surprised just how many companies neglect these relationship-building fundamentals. First and foremost respect stands as the central pillar of any healthy relationship, and the same holds true for business-to-business buyers and […]

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