It’s feeling a lot like summer, but in the modern age that doesn’t mean that things slow down. So, let’s get to the important bits of news and commentary from the past week.
Mobile Viewing Focus on the Home
Network planners should pay great attention to the results of a study done by Nielsen for the Council for Research Excellence. The most important takeaway, according to the report on the study at Media Post: 82 percent of tablet use and 64 percent of smartphone use for television and video viewing occurs in the home.
The study, which quizzed more than 6,000 folks in Kansas City, Phoenix and Atlanta, also offered valuable information on what types of programming was watched on traditional sets and on mobile devices. The profiles are significantly different. For instance, 31 percent of people watch news on traditional sets, while only 11 percent watch on tablets and 15 percent on smartphones.
This type of information is invaluable to folks charged with architecting networks. Understanding how video is consumed, especially when one of the venues can be identified as a home and in many cases can access more than one delivery platform, makes network planning and traffic shaping techniques far more powerful.
Facilitating Home Networks
There seems to be a never-ending stream of standards. The newcomers go farther and faster, operate at different frequencies and have different focuses. They all make sense individually but, when put in the same big pot, constitute a complex potpourri of functionality.
An effort to create a different type of standard is under way. IEEE 1905.1 hybrid networking standard (nVoy) is aimed at obviating that confusion, at least in the home. It will bridge common in-home standards, such as Wi-Fi, HomePlug, Ethernet and MoCA. TeleCompetitor’s story on the standards-setting effort says that nVoy also will use TR-069 to offer advanced diagnostics.
The goal is to enable consumers to buy consumer electronics designed to use different networking standards and have them automatically interoperate. This, the thinking goes, will greatly simplify home networking for consumers and everyone in the supply chain. The story notes that G.hn, HomeGrid, has not yet committed to nVoy.
Americans (Phones) are Getting Smarter
A person is merely one day older than the previous day on his or her birthday, but it nonetheless is reason to mark it as a milestone. Likewise, the news that the Pew Internet & American Life Project for the first time found that more people own smartphones than feature phones may represent a moderate or even small increase from previous measures, but it is a big deal in the bigger picture of where the nation is heading.
The Datamation piece on the study said Pew noted that 61 percent of cell owners have smartphones. Since 91 percent of Americans have cell phones of some type, the bottom line is that more than half of all Americans, 56 percent, have smartphones.
Datamation compiled reactions from other sources on this news. NBC News’ Suzanne Choney notes that as recently as two years ago, Pew found that the number of smartphone owners was 35 percent. Hayley Tsukayama of the Washington Post said that 28 percent of respondents use Android phones and 25 percent own iPhones.
The Complex Digital Device
The assumption among many is pretty simple: Folks in more populous areas get better broadband service than those in areas with fewer residents. A new study by The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Commerce Department’s Economics Statistics Administration (ESA) showed that while there is truth to that axiom, there is a great deal of subtlety in the mix as well.
The assumptions are not always correct. For instance, there are situations in which pockets with smaller populations are located closer to city centers than a moderately peopled town. That more sparsely populated locale, due to its location, may get faster speeds than bigger but more remote areas.
The press release, and presumably the report itself, is a way to determine precisely what the true issues are in addressing the digital divide. The reality, as with most things, is that it is a mixed situation that is far more complex than the fast characterizations in the press.
And, finally, comes yet another danger, emanating from an unexpected source. ExtremeTech reports that researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have found a way to compromise iOS devices through their chargers.
Mactans, named after the black widow spider’s Latin taxonomy, is far more than a charger, and that extra circuitry is the problem:
The malicious USB charger is, essentially, a Texas Instruments BeagleBoard. A BeagleBoard, which has an ARM CPU and a bunch of connectors, is very similar to the Raspberry Pi. Basically, the security researchers have built a power brick with a BeagleBoard inside it — so rather than plugging your iPhone/iPad into a normal USB plug, you’re actually plugging it into a computer. It isn’t clear what operating system the researchers are using, but it’s probably Linux-based. Once you plug in, some custom software then gets to work, cracking iOS in under a minute and installing some malware.
The researchers are Billy Lau, Yeongjin Jang and Chengyu Song. The story says that they are refusing to provide details to Apple until they demonstrate Mactans at the Black Hat 2013 conference in July.