The LPWA announced this week that Everynet has launched what it called the first over-the-air firmware updating capability for devices on low power wide-area networks (LPWAN). The updates will be able to update the firmware in Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is possibly a significant step. The press release notes that the low capacity of LPWA networks has generally made it difficult to update firmware, and IoT devices are often inaccessible.
The Everynet approach only sends the difference between the old and new versions of the firmware and uses an aggressive compression algorithm to squeeze what is being sent. Both the overall approach and the compression algorithm are patent pending.
No Single 5G
A sure sign that things are getting serious on the 5G front is that the discussions are becoming more detailed and specific. That, in turn, is making clear that the early hype is fading, at least a bit, in favor of 5G services that do different things and in some cases relatively mundane things.
eWeek’s Wayne Rash does a nice job of laying out what T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon are up to. The interesting thing is that the approaches are very different. T-Mobile is planning to build a network on traditionally used 600 MHz spectrum. Verizon and AT&T are both using new millimeter approaches. Verizon will use the technology to provide fixed wireless services and AT&T essentially to buttress its LTE network. At the end of the day, 5G is very much an evolution and not a revolution:
What all of this means is that 5G service is a ways off for most people, despite the hype in press releases. T-Mobile probably has the best outlook for implementing 5G mobile service because the company can avoid many of the engineering challenges that accompany millimeter wave use.
AT&T Has Competition for Straight Path
Another sign that 5G is hot is the bidding war that appears to be forming between AT&T and an unnamed company for Straight Path Communications, which it characterizes as an “extensive portfolio” of 39 GHz and 28 GHz spectrum.
On April 9, AT&T and a company called Switchback Merger Sub agreed to buy Straight Path in an all-stock deal for $1.6 billion, which equates to a share price of $95.63. On April 24, the new bidder, referred to by Straight Path as “a multi-national telecommunications company,” made a bid of $104.64 per share, or $1.8 billion. The mystery bidder this week increased its offer to $135.96 per share, or $2.3 billion.
Opting to go with the unnamed company will cost Straight Path a $38 million termination fee.
Computing Budget Safe, For Now
In a bit of unexpected good news, the deal to keep the U.S. government funded includes money for science and supercomputing. Computerworld reports that the agreement includes $5.4 billion for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) science programs. That represents an increase, albeit a small one, of $42 million over the previous year.
The deal will fund the government through September 30. Computer spending, which is part of the overall budget, was increased by 4.2 percent. Computer proponents shouldn’t get too comfortable, however. The 2018 budget will seek a $900 million cut to DoE funding.
SpaceX Gets Serious
Several companies, in what is certainly a mix of the desire to help people and their own balance sheets, have floated various proposals to bring data coverage to underserved areas. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is one of these firms, and its plans are ambitious. This week, Vice President of Satellite Government Affairs Patricia Cooper testified before the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science & Technology.
Cooper testified that the company will test this year and launch prototypes in 2018. SpaceX plans to deploy 4,425 low earth orbiting (LEO) satellites. They will orbit between 700 miles and 825 miles above earth. Falcon 9 rockets will be used to carry them aloft between 2019 and 2024.
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 [email protected] and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.