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January 14 ...
Verizon CEO McAdam: LTE Data Nearing 50% Share, LTE Broadcast Service in Development
Wireless announced that nearly half of its data traffic now travels over its 4G LTE network, an increase of 15 percent just since October 2012. In an interview with
Fierce Wireless, CEO Lowell McAdam revealed the subscriber data for its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) mobile data network, and also reported that 23 percent of Verizon's wireless customers were using an LTE smartphone at the end of the fourth quarter. This is compared to just 16 percent at the end of the third quarter, and was presumably includes a boost from holiday sales. Lowell also revealed that as many as 85 percent of the US carrier's postpaid subscribers added in Q4 purchased an LTE device. This growth is not entirely surprising given that Verizon's 4G LTE network right now covers 273.5 million users, or roughly 89 percent of its US footprint. According to vice president of network engineering Mike Haberman, Verizon will match its 3G footprint with 4G coverage by year's end, and will complete its LTE buildout by mid-2014. In a related story, McAdam also revealed at
CES that the company is working on a new service - "LTE Broadcast" - for streaming videos such as academic lectures or sporting event highlights. According to McAdam, LTE Broadcast "could allow students on satellite campuses to see a lecture from a star professor, [or] provide additional or exclusive content to fans who attend live events." LTE Broadcast is based on evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS) standards, as approved by the
3GPP group for efficient use of LTE spectrum and network assets. No information has been released about the service's availability.
FCC to Reallocate Unlicensed Wireless Spectrum to Prevent Wi-Fi "Spectrum Crunch"
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to make additional wireless spectrum available to the public in February, in an attempt to avoid the "spectrum crunch," a predicted level of wireless traffic congestion capable of degrading Wi-Fi Performance in the US. Speaking at
CES, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the agency will allocate approximately 195MHz of unlicensed wireless spectrum in the 5-GHz band to increase Wi-Fi speeds and alleviate congestion in high-use areas. According to Genachowski, "We've got to get what we can out of every megahertz of spectrum and seize these opportunities." Genachowski's plan will require the FCC to work with other federal agencies, as portions of the spectrum in question are in use by the US Department of Defense and other agencies. If the plan is implemented, the FCC estimates it could increase available Wi-Fi capacity by about 35 percent. It would also potentially be the largest block of unlicensed spectrum made available for Wi-Fi in the US since 2003.
Rumor: LG To Discontinue Nexus 4 Smartphone
Electronics is rumored to have halted production of its Nexus 4 Android mobile OS smartphone in favor of a new smartphone it is developing in collaboration with
Google. This report comes from The
International Business Times, and has quickly made its way around the blogosphere. This report seems to contradict Google's inability to keep the hot selling handset
stock at its current $299 unsubsidized price point. On the contrary, the Nexus 4 has been in high demand since its release just two months ago, and hardly seems in need of a refresh. The device has experienced some growing pains, but nothing unusual for a new smartphone. In fact, the largest complaint to date about the handset has been its lack of a true LTE (Long Term Evolution) radio. The International Business Times report seems to be based entirely on comments made by LG senior vice president James Fisher at
CES, in which he talked about Nexus 4 being just "the first of many" Nexus products in development, and hinted that the company may be developing other smartphones or tablets that use Google's Nexus line. The only third party substantiation of these scenarios comes in the form of an unsourced rumor cited by International Business Times of an upcoming LG device running the Android "Key Lime Pie" mobile operating system and sporting a 2-GHz processor. What is known for a fact is that LG will be announcing its next generation of devices at the upcoming Mobile World Congress in Barcelona next month. However, the possibility of the company unveiling a replacement for the still hot-selling Nexus 4 remain rather dubious.
Verizon Identified by FCC as Top Culprit in 2012 Derecho Outages
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a
report in which it blamed
Verizon Communications for many of the widespread outages that occurred during the Derecho mid-Atlantic storms that knocked out power grids in Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio last June. When those power grids went offline, several key generators failed to start, resulting in widespread outages to landline phone service. As a result, thousands of emergency 911 calls were
not connected to Public Safety Answering Points. Even though a Derecho storm is characterized by strong, sudden winds, the report uncovered that Verizon indeed knew that its network was not prepared, but failed to move quickly enough to correct the issues. Verizon's own records indicate that two days prior to the storms, two generators failed reliability tests at its Arlington and Fairfax, VA offices. During the storms, these generators left Verizon without power for a total of eight hours on June 30th. West Virginia telephone network operator
Frontier Communications suffered similar outages, however those failures were in much less populated areas, limiting their impact. In all, 11 facilities failed in the Virginias and Ohio. Regarding how the report classified major wireless carriers' handling of the storms, the report said "Cell site outage rates during and after the storm varied by provider and jurisdiction, but were modest both in number and duration in comparison to other superstorms or hurricanes." This report was compiled prior to Hurricane Sandy's impact on the eastern coast of New Jersey and New York, although its findings do seem to be of consequence. Moving forward, the FCC wants Verizon and other network operators to make their networks more reliable by ensuring their central offices have redundant power via regular testing and maintenance on their backup systems.
CenturyLink Patent Proposal Details Mobile Call-Screening Alternatives
CenturyLink filed a
application with the US Patent and Trademark
Office for a new "do-not-disturb" mode designed to let mobile phone users to automatically screen incoming calls instead of manually rejecting them. Under the proposed patent, the phone will not ring or vibrate at all, instead using one of three methods to screen incoming callers: a mode with a pre-selected secret authorization code in which the phone can only notify the user of an incoming call if the code is entered correctly by the caller; a second mode which includes an independent "input/output" device for actually receiving calls, which then decides whether or note to
activate do not disturb mode based on the user's customizations; and a third method which utilizes an electronic display and a telecom device, such as a set-top box, to notify the user on their TV if a call has come in. It is likely that this particular service could be added as a special feature for consumers who subscribe to CenturyLink's IPTV service, if the patent is approved.
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