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Earlier this month news emerged
that Google was planning on experimenting with broadband by hot air balloon or blimp (affectionately called "blimpband" around these parts). Now Google has come out with more details about the project and given it a name: Google Loon
. The new project plans to use hot-air balloons to provide broadband connectivity to regions that lack it, and over the weekend Google conducted the project's inaugural trial in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Google Loon will use hot air balloons 49 feet wide stationed 12 miles above the planet, well above the range of commercial aircraft. From there, ground base stations set some sixty miles apart communicate with solar-powered radio transmitters affixed to the balloons (which also communicate with each other). Google claims they should have some control over steering the balloons using wind as they ride the 40th parallel.
"Project Loon uses software algorithms to determine where its balloons need to go, then moves each one into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction," states the Google Loon project website. "By moving with the wind, the balloons can be arranged to form one large communications network."
Google makes that sound easier than it is.
by Revcb Friday 31-May-2013
For much of the last year, Verizon Wireless has been blocking Google Wallet
, claiming that its use of a device's "secure element" is what has prohibited them from letting consumers use the app. Numerous people have explained in great detail (including the lawyer that filed the original complaint with the FCC
) that this excuse is simply being used to keep Google Wallet permanently stuck in approval purgatory, while the wireless industry's own, competing Isis
platform sees no such restrictions.
Google has been fairly tight lipped when it comes to hard take up numbers for their Google Fiber services, but a report this week by Bernstein Research
indicates that around a third of the homes that can currently get Google Fiber are doing so. According to the survey, around ten to fifteen percent of those in Google Fiber's footprint take the "free" service, which delivers 5 Mbps speeds for no monthly charge after users pay a $300 installation fee.
Google has announced via their Google Fiber blog
that they'll be expanding Google Fiber's presence around Kansas City futher. According to the company, the Shawnee City Council voted to bring Google Fiber to their city, though there's no hard date being given as to when locals can expect to sign up for service. "We still have a lot of planning and engineering work to do before were ready to bring Fiber to Shawnee, so we dont have an estimate for when service will be available yet," says the company. Shawnee is the fifth Johnson County municipality to sign an agreement with Google for the service, after a similar expansion announcement for Olathe was made in March
Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have a long history of offering "me too" software and service products, even if they've shown repeatedly and painfully that they're not particularly good at developing them. The hope is that these services can be marketed to a captive audience, but often these "me too" products are so immensely lackluster, they wind up being shelved early. story continues..
CenturyLink has announced plans to offer a small fiber to the home pilot providing speeds of 1 Gbps. While Google Fiber's expansion hits competitively-challenged AT&T and Time Warner Cable hard in a few markets, their recent announcement of expansion into Provo, Utah
hits smaller, regional incumbent CenturyLink even harder.
Speaking on the company earnings call
this week, Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt stated that Time Warner Cable is seeing "de minimis" impact on their business from Google Fiber so far. Granted that's because two of the three Google Fiber locations have yet to connect any customers.
By now AT&T's total disregard for privacy and wiretap laws in their cooperation with the government's warrantless wiretap program is fairly well established. As numerous NSA and AT&T whistleblowers have illustrated, the company dumps all voice and data from any carrier that touches their network directly into the lap of the NSA
-- with no warrants or transparency and only marginal government oversight.
Wilson, North Carolina is the home of a municipal fiber deployment named Greenlight that has offered symmetrical 100 Mbps connections since 2009
, and is now poised to offer locals speeds up to 1 Gbps. The deployment has been a favorite target for incumbent providers for years; Time Warner Cable has a long history of using misleading push polls to confuse locals
, and both writing and lobbying for state-level laws aimed at preventing other "Wilsons" from sprouting up.
XMission knows a thing or two about deploying fiber in Utah -- they're one of the ISPs that offers service over the wholesale Utopia network -- the largest municipal fiber deployment in the United States. As we noted last week
Google managed to get a $39 million fiber deployment for just $1, and while XMission welcomes Google to the fold, in a blog post
the company criticizes the fact that Provo had to essentially give away the farm to bring Google in.
The tech specs for Google Glass were unveiled this week
, highlighting how the device won't have a cellular radio -- or even 802.11N support in an effort to save battery life and lower the unit's weight. Wired noted another interesting tidbit in the Glass terms of service
: once you've purchased your $1,500 glasses, you are technically prohibited from loaning them or selling them to another person.
Like so much of the software and other content you buy, you technically won't own your expensive new toy and risk device deactivation if your buddy uses the gear:
The companys terms of service on the limited-edition wearable computer specifically states, you may not resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person. If you resell, loan, transfer, or give your device to any other person without Googles authorization, Google reserves the right to deactivate the device, and neither you nor the unauthorized person using the device will be entitled to any refund, product support, or product warranty."
Granted terms of service are always packed with restrictions, and outside of the eBay sale ban, it's unclear if Google actually intends to try and enforce some of these sillier provisions -- which is obviously going to be an uphill battle.
It has been interesting to watch the responses of the two companies impacted most by Google Fiber's deployments: AT&T and Time Warner Cable. Both companies have fought competition tooth and nail over the years, and now that they're finally staring a little bit of it in the face, their responses have very much matched their corporate character. story continues..
The folks over at the Google Fiber blog
have announced that the company's 1 Gbps fiber service is expanding into some additional markets -- just probably not yours. Google Fiber community manager Rachel Hack states that the Olathe, Kansas city council has given the green light for Google Fiber to be expanded to that city, about twenty minutes away from Kansas City. "We think that Fiber and widespread Internet access will help to create jobs, grow local businesses, and make Olathe even stronger as it grows," insists the search giant. The Kansas City Star
notes that the agreement involves providing free 1 Gbps connections to four public facilities for up to 10 years.
In August of last year Google announced
they'd be acquiring Motorola Mobility, which includes both Motorola's wireless and set top box units (and 17,000 wireless patents), for a cool $12.5 billion
. At the time, Google proclaimed that the deal would "supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners and developers."
So far that hasn't come close to happening, with layoffs and legal fisticuffs being the most interesting thing the company has done with the property.
According to Google's latest transparency report
, more than two-thirds of the requests submitted to the company for private user information aren't backed by warrants. According to the study, various parts of the United States government made over 8,400 requests for nearly 15,000 accounts -- significantly more than any other government.
Google continues to be incredibly vague about if or when they'll expand Google Fiber outside of Kansas City, though the company insists the effort is no passing fad. Speaking on their earnings call, Google CEO Larry Page this week remarked on the success they've seen so far on offering symmetrical 1 Gbps connections for $70 a month. story continues..
Just like European monopoly telcos
, France's government is jealous of the massive money being made from companies like Google on user data, and is now contemplating a tax or toll on American companies. Unlike previous taxation attempts that focused on taxing advertising, the New York Times
says a new French proposal would impose a levy on the collection of user data. "We want to work to ensure that Europe is not a tax haven for a certain number of Internet giants," insists digital economy minister Fleur Pellerin.
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