The buildup to fall is in full swing. The next step is Labor Day parades and barbeques and, then, the school busses will begin to roll.
IT and telecommunications never had a real summer slowdown this year, though. Much was done and lots of news was made, and hasn’t even slowed down during the latter half of August. Here is a look at some of the news and more interesting commentary.
The Case Against BYOD Grows Stronger
One of the early benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to the organization is that in many cases the employee would foot the bill for the mobile device use. In some cases, of course, the business would pay its fair share. In many others, however, employee use of their own equipment for work was an informal hidden tax for the right to be employed.
What happens at the state level is important, especially in a bellwether such as California. Computerworld reported this week that the California Supreme Court and an appeals court reviewing the decision both held that companies must reimburse employees when personal devices are used on the job.
The story quoted the key paragraph of the appeals court opinion. The case was Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Services:
"We hold that when employees must use their personal cellphones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cellphone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cellphone bills."
Squeezing LTE into 5 GHz
A key to enabling mobile carriers to support the rapidly increasing amount of traffic that they must support is a focus on creative research and development. NTT DoCoMo and Huawei have done work on what appears to be a very clever idea.
Currently, the 5GHz band is used for Wi-Fi networks. There is no technical reason, however, that cellular companies can’t use it for LTE. The companies tried it and found that LTE can travel through that band at 100 Megabits per second (Mbps).
The added benefit would be that the 5GHz band, unlike those currently used by the cellular companies, is unlicensed. This means that adding it to their toolbox would cost less than the upgrades to which they are accustomed.
The Gigabit Wave Gets Deeper
It’s big news when Comcast, Verizon or other huge telecommunications companies roll out something new and exciting. The advent of gigabit networks is one such breakthrough.
It is arguable that the real progress is made when smaller companies whose names aren’t as familiar start rolling out the new technology. That, too, is happening. A Telecompetitor story says that the noticeable uptick among Tier 2 and 3 carriers is understandable because many already have the basic building block – fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure – in place.
The story offered comments from Kurt Raaflaub, an executive from Adtran, a vendor to this class of carrier, on a typical approach by the smaller players:
Many Tier 2 and Tier 3 FTTH networks are based on GPON technology, with a 2.5 Gbps link from the central office feeding a splitter that serves either 32 or 64 homes. It’s possible to split these systems so that each 2.5 GHz link supports only half the previous number of homes, but as Raaflaub noted, “that starts to be expensive because every time you drop the split count, you have to double the ports.”
No News Is Big News for Cox
The musical chairs of carrier mergers and acquisitions is a staple of the telecommunications industry. For that reason, it is perhaps more interesting to find a company that is pulling itself off the trading block.
Privately held Cox Communications is doing just that. This week, Cox President Pat Esser discounted rumors that it is interested in buying T-Mobile and informed speculation that it would seek to merge with Charter, Cablevision or another cable operator. The authenticity of the fact that Cox is serious about dismissing such a move in the short term is buttressed by the fact that Esser didn’t rule out a move in the future. In the short term, he said the company is focusing on Wi-Fi-based initiatives.
Massive, Cheap Security
And, finally, comes a story about building an essentially impregnable computer without raising the price to unrealistic levels. At ZDNet, Robin Harris looks at an approach called Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions (CHERI), describes in a paper written by 10 researchers from Cambridge University, SRI International and Google UK.
The basic idea, Harris wrote, is that more than 80 percent of security issues are memory-based. These include threats related to “(b)uffer overflows, initialization errors, DMA bugs [and] firmware updates.”
Since early in the computer age, ways were used to identify and address these issues. The paper, which was presented at the 2014 International Symposium on Computer Architecture, describes an approach to expanding the earlier ideas and making them relevant in the current computing world.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Intenet 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.