The news this week was good: The public is fully engaged in the debate over how broadband will be administered. As Computerworld and other sites reported, millions of responses were received by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the deadline for comments passed. That’s heartening, and I hope the commission and Congress will listen.
Besides that, there were a number of interesting pieces of news and insightful commentary. Some highlights:
Juniper: 1.2 Billion Smartphones
The latest analyst firm to release numbers on smartphone shipments is Juniper Research.
The firm found that shipments will almost reach 1.2 billion this year, which is a 19 percent increase from the estimated 985 million last year. Juniper echoes other firms in saying that the driver is adoption in emerging markets. The company further breaks down its analysis into the economy ($75 to $150) and ultra-economy (less than $75) categories. Juniper suggests that in addition to low-cost phones, the introduction of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will further push the overall numbers.
Micron Pushes SSDs
Solid-state drives (SSDs) are catching on for computing devices. They are more reliable, quieter and generate less heat.
Micron this week introduced what TopTechNews calls its highest performing drive to date. The M600 SATA SSD comes with 256-bit hardware encryption and will be available in 128GB to 1TB versions. It will draw less than 2 milliwatts in sleep mode and, on average, use 150mW while active, the story said.
The drive won’t be available at retail, but production for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) already is under way.
Net Neutrality Is a Hot Topic
One thing was proven by the number of responses the FCC received during the public comments period on the net neutrality issue: People care.
Computerworld said that the commission got more than 3 million comments, which writer Grant Gross says is “by far” a record. It surpassed the 1.4 million comments on action regarding Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction. Gross noted that many of the letters seeking rules against providers exerting strong control over broadband were form letters authored by the advocates who were involved in the Internet slowdown on September 10.
The other side was represented as well:
Still, the call for strong net neutrality rules was not universal. Conservative group American Commitment collected more than 808,000 signatures on a petition calling on the FCC to oppose calls by several groups, including Free Press and Public Knowledge, to reclassify broadband as a regulated public utility, similar to common carrier rules on traditional telephone service.
Still More 802.11
The newest version of 802.11, 802.11ah, is a bit different: It is intended for short distances. At Network Computing, Pablo Valerio writes that the new protocol operates in the 900MHz band and can work with more than 8,000 devices within a range of 1 kilometer. This makes it “ideal for areas with a high concentration of sensors and other small devices, such as street lamp controllers and smart parking meters.”
Valerio offers a lot of the technical details. At the highest level, 802.11ah can be a key element of the mesh that will be needed to organize and support the Internet of Things (IoT).
And, finally, comes a story about important questions that must be confronted as robotics grows. Wayne Rash at eWeek reported on a Brookings Institute presentation on civilian robotics that posed interesting questions.
One of the key challenges is determining who is responsible for their safe and responsible operation. Related questions are as basic as: What legally constitutes a robot? Are robots distinct from drones? And which existing or newly created federal bureau will administer these devices?
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.