Big Numbers for LTE, Internet Control and Flying Cars

Carl Weinschenk
Slide Show

10 Myths About Virtual Mobile Infrastructure

Things are going very well for LTE. The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) reports that in 2015, 645 million LTE subscriptions were added worldwide and that during the first quarter of this year 182 million new connections were created.

By the end of the first quarter, there were more than 1.29 billion LTE subscriptions worldwide and the average growth during the first quarter was a healthy 2 million per day – and that rate is accelerating, according to the group’s findings, which were reported in RCR Wireless.

The numbers are staggering: Asia ended the first quarter with more than 734 million subscribers (56.8 percent of the global number). China, which now has 511 million subscribers, added 96.3 million during the period. North America has 253 million, and Latin America and the Caribbean have 68.5 million.


In total, 503 operators offer LTE in 167 countries. At least 550 commercial services will be available by the end of the year.

Don’t Like the Sound of This

The premise of one of the best recent sci-fi movies, “I, Robot” (starring Will Smith and based on an Isaac Asimov short story), was that at some point the robots that take care of us will decide to take over. That’s where the fun – from a fictional standpoint – begins. It wouldn’t be much fun if it really happened. For that reason, the fear is being addressed by Google (whose DeepMind recently provided the intelligence to beat a champion in the game Go).

London-based DeepMind is an artificial intelligence (AI) company that Google acquired in 2014. Now, according to Computerworld’s Sharon Gaudin, Google DeepMind is building a kill switch into the system. It’s sort of an insurance policy:

The idea is that one day a smart machine might be able to override its own off button. If that’s the case, then humans would need another way to gain the upper hand.

It’s interesting to note that such an insurance policy didn’t work in “I, Robot.”

U.S. May Not Surrender Control of the Internet

The United States currently oversees the technology that runs the Internet. The plan was for control to be handed over to an international body.

Not everyone likes the plan, however. Bills introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives by, respectively, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin, would make such a move much harder. The bills are different, but a reconciled version that became law would require the executive branch to meet requirements made by Congress before surrendering control.

ICANN operates under a contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce to operate the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The issue is coming to a head because that contract is up and must either be renewed or control ceded to the international group.

Page and the Flying Car

Bloomberg Businessweek reports that Google co-founder Larry Page is working on the flying car concept. The company he owns, Zee.Aero, launched – so to speak – in 2010 and is headquartered right next door to Google.

Page is serious about the idea:

The company also has a manufacturing facility on NASA’s Ames Research Center campus at the edge of Mountain View. Page has spent more than $100 million on Zee.Aero, say two of the people familiar with the company, and he’s not done yet. Last year a second Page-backed flying-car startup, Kitty Hawk, began operations and registered its headquarters to a two-story office building on the end of a tree-lined cul-de-sac about a half-mile away from Zee.Aero’s offices. Kitty Hawk’s staffers, sequestered from the Zee.Aero team, are working on a competing design.

The story points out that flying cars have long been a goal – and long led to disappointment. Today, however, there are better materials, autonomous navigation systems and other technical advances. There also are, apparently, very rich and very smart people interested in the idea.

Windstream Picks Up the Pace

Windstream is speeding things up. The company, according to Telecompetitor, will increase the percentage of small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) with access to data speeds of 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) from 69 percent today to 88 percent by the end of the year. During 2016, the percentage of companies that can sign up for pipes that speed data at 75 Mbps will increase from 8 percent to 15 percent.

It may or may not be a coincidence that the company lost 35,000 broadband subscribers during 2015.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.



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