Carriers, Vendors to Spend Quality Time in Cuba

Carl Weinschenk
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Five Ways to Prepare Your Network for the Onslaught of Faster Wi-Fi Devices

It was a surprisingly newsy week before Christmas, and the main stories directly affect the telecommunications and IT industries.

First came the “Cromnibus,” which is the funding bill that was signed into law by President Obama. It guarantees that control of the Domain Name Service (DNS) will remain in U.S. hands at least until the end of September, 2015. A second major story, reestablishment of relations with Cuba, is very good news to telecommunications companies. The infrastructure on the island is about as old as the cars. Finally, a massive hack of Sony led to the controversial decision to not release the movie “The Interview.” Besides everything else, it is a tremendous sign – if one still was needed – of the new reality of cyber warfare.

Cuba Calling

The establishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba announced by the Obama Administration this week has ramifications that will be felt in many areas. Telecommunications is one. In essence, the industry is being handed a significant greenfield opportunity.

Ars Technica notes that only 5 percent of the Cuban population is online. Part of the announcement directly focused on rapidly upgrading and updating Cuba’s telecom infrastructure. The site quotes from an administration statement that essentially says that it will authorize network operators and vendors of “certain consumer communications devices,” software, applications, hardware and services to work with the Cubans.

ICANN Stays in U.S. Hands

Often, geeky things are very important, and one of the geekiest of the recent past is the debate over control of the Domain Name System (DNS), which manages Internet addresses. The DNS is controlled by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) under a contract with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

The plan was to transition the DNS from direct U.S. control. That plan now is on hold and, according to Larry Seltzer at ZDNet, may be dead. Part of the Cromnibus forbids funds for the transfer until September 30, 2015.

In an unrelated note, it was reported by DarkReading and other sites that ICANN was victimized by a spear phishing attack.

Time Warner and Boingo Deploy Passpoint

Time Warner Cable and Boingo said this week that they are the first two companies to trade Wi-Fi traffic over Passpoint-enabled networks. The agreement will let subscribers of the two companies move seamlessly back and forth, according to WirelessWeek:

While Hotspot is the technical specification that the WiFi Alliance uses for hardware, Passpoint is the certification process to that is needed to make sure the hardware is Hotspot 2.0 compliant. Hotspot 2.0 brings cellular like capabilities to Wi-Fi users by enabling them to log in one time instead of entering their passwords at every access point when they come in range


Smartphones Keep on Rolling

Gartner’s quarterly smartphone numbers show an industry that continues to prosper despite, or perhaps due to, significant changes. Datamation reports that the firm found that worldwide smartphone sales rose 20.3 percent.

The results were characterized by the continued shrinkage of feature phone sales, the growth of sales in emerging markets and, in the U.S., good sales for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Samsung is the top dog, with 73.2 million devices sold in the quarter and a market share of 24.4 percent. Chinese vendors Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo were in the top five, the report said.

The Broadband Nutmeg State

And, finally, comes a story about a state that is taking things into its own hands. GigaOm reports that 46 municipalities in Connecticut, which cover about half of the state’s residents, are banding together to bring 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) service to their residents, according to GigaOm. The plan began to take shape in September when New Haven, Hartford and Stamford agreed signed on.

The idea is to provide incentives for ISPs and network builders to participate. The municipalities won’t directly invest funds, but will make it easier for outsiders to participate by easing access to utility poles and in other ways enticing them. The next phase is for the vendors to submit proposals.

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 and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.

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