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The Unlicensed Un-carrier: T-Mobile USA Seeks FCC OK for LTE-U Tests

Carl Weinschenk

Efforts by cellular companies to gain access to valuable unlicensed spectrum continue. It is a contentious issue, however. Unlicensed spectrum, as the name implies, is open to all comers. Therefore, it is a chaotic environment. Since there are no license fees, operations are cheaper. The existence of this spectrum is one of the reasons that Wi-Fi exploded.

The telcos want in because the price is right and it offers a new source of bandwidth. The catch is that their systems were developed for scenarios in which they were the only user of the bandwidth. Thus, they are not natively able to support the etiquette necessary for all players to get fair access. The fear on the part of current unlicensed spectrum users is that the powerful mobile companies will come in and try to dominate.

This has led to sometimes friendly and sometimes fractious technical negotiations between the cellular ecosystem and the unlicensed players, who mostly are represented by the cable industry.

Decision points are approaching. T-Mobile USA has asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to test LTE-U equipment in 30 outdoor and indoor locations around the country. If allowed, the tests will run in the 5 GHz spectrum from June 28 to Dec. 28 and operate in downlink-only mode. The tests will involve prototype equipment. The next step will be equipment verification, according to FierceWireless.


Trump: Broadband Part of Infrastructure Proposal

The creation of rural infrastructure equal to what exists in urban and suburban areas is seen by advocates of those areas as a vital step to economic health. It hasn’t happened in many areas, however.

Bloomberg reported that President Trump pledged to make rural access part of the $1 trillion infrastructure proposal he says will soon be released by the administration. He made the remarks after touring agricultural facilities at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

On Air Force One en route to the event, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Purdue said that private investors have found that urban broadband is a better investment than rural broadband. That, he told reporters, may lead to a larger federal role to serve the remote areas.

Mozilla’s Firefox Still Playing Catch Up

The browser category is continuing to evolve as the days in which Microsoft’s Internet Explorer dominated fade ever further into the past.

Computerworld reported this week that Mozilla continued its “years-long campaign” to enable its Firefox browser to catch up to Google Chrome and other browsers. The upgrade is aimed at improving performance, reducing the amount of memory used and enhancing stability, the story said.

Firefox 54, which was released earlier this month, expanded its Electrolysis (e10s) protect, which decentralizes functions in multiple central processing units (CPUs). The user interface functionality has already been divided into more than one CPU. The goal is to prevent total failure when a website or web app fails.

Mozilla also patched 31 vulnerabilities in the browser, three of which are characterized as critical.

No Free Ride for Uber

IT departments and upper-level management should keep an eye on the ride-sharing landscape. Its impact will be indirect, but could be significant. This is especially true if ride sharing becomes linked with electric and autonomous vehicles, as Apple CEO Tim Cook recently suggested. On a more immediate level, ride sharing could have some effect on security policies.

Uber has taken steps backwards with the loss of CEO Travis Kalanick, who resigned, Senior Vice President of Business Emil Michael and Vice President of Technology Anthony Levandowski. Clearly, the problems at Uber benefit competitors such as Lyft. ITWorld also suggests that Uber could lose the battle for talented staffers to autonomous vehicle firms.

BlackBerry Enhances Mobile Security

BlackBerry has beaten the odds and survived the tumultuous changes in the mobile sector. The company says that it is adding significant features to its BlackBerry Enterprise Mobility Suite.

The tools are aimed at the Internet of Things (IoT) and what the company calls the enterprise of things. They aim to manage and secure Microsoft Office 365 Mobile apps, data on unmanaged laptops, and file synchronization for in-line comments and other workflow tools. Wearable device management functionality and increased application analytics are also being added.

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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