Friday, June 21, 2013

Super high-speed Wi-Fi could come soon; Will Obama administration let it happen?

I noticed this story on my smartphone on a day trip yesterday, on CNN Money, “Much Faster Wi-Fi coming soon,”  link here
As a practical matter, it could make your home or apartment cable connection less critical.  How would data transfer limits affect people who want to use faster speeds to watch movies and video? 
Speeds could be close to 100 times current speed, near the theoretical limit 1.3 Gigabits per second.  
They could be a real boon for travelers if the routers become small and portable enough.

Then look at the contrasting piece Friday in the New York Times, p. A19, by Lowell C. McAdam, “How the U.S. Got Broadband Right”, link (website url) here.  McAdam says that the US approach is rather libertarian (I think some of my friends will disagree) and that 80% of US households have wireless speeds of at least 100 megabits per second.  We’re not as good as South Korea.  (And by the way, it occurs to me that a nearby Korean-family-owned supermarket and sports bar here in Arlington s very tech savvy.)   But the article claims that only 2% of households in Europe have similar access.   What about Estonia? Finland?  Does that mean that if I go to Europe and sit outside in a rural French cafĂ© (isn’t that fun?) I could miss the latest news.  

Friday, June 07, 2013

President Obama has announced a plan to have high-speed Internet available in 99% of schools by 2018

This should come as no surprise, despite a rocky week for the administration on its surveillance policies.

President Obama has announced a plan (or, rahter, asked for an initiative) to have high-speed Internet available in 99% of schools by 2018, although it might have to be funded by slightly higher telecommunications taxes (which are already overloaded). 
CBS News has a typical story. 

Doug Gross of CNN has another typical story here

When I subbed in northern Virginia schools in 2004-2007, I found that all school libraries had good Internet service (including Google Earth) and most classrooms did.  In an Honors Chemistry class, we used to look up terms (like “electronegativity”) for exercises on Google and display the results on an opaque projector, but students didn’t have individual laptops.  

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Verizon, maybe other telecomms, let NSA spy on ordinary domestic cell phone use

The National Security Agency, under a FISA secret court order in April, has been collecting data on cell phone calls by ordinary Americans, according to multiple media reports.
MSN has a typical story by Matthew DeLuca and Alaistair Jamieson of NBC News, here

The surveillance apparently does not include the contents of calls, but can identify precise location and length. 
People make calls and textx for social purposes from dance floors and bars all the time.  It seems very unlikely that these could attract any interest.
But the Obama administration seems particularly aggressive, compared to Bush, in domestic surveillance of tech devices.  According to NBC, the Obama administration would not confirm the NBC report. 

Some sources indicate that the civilian surveillance had gone on long before the April court order. Maybe the contents and info are going through some profiling software.  It's extremely rare for anything to raise a flag -- but you never know.

Some customers said they would leave Verizon -- but isn't everybody doing it?

Al Gore tweeted and decried this practice today. 

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Acquisition of Sprint by Japanese company said to be good for users

A New York Times editorial Friday has characterized the likely acquisition of Sprint by Japanese company SoftBank  (link) has a likely boon for mobile users, as in this editorial here
The Times sees this as a bit like Sony owning Columbia Pictures. 

It dismisses national security concerns, maintaining that SortBank will use domestic manufacturing and not open the network up to vulnerabilities from China. 

Will the ability of users of other networks to connect to Sprint in remote areas (like West Virginia, for me recently) improve some more?