#TBT: NYC gets Linked; Apple Music debuts; Testing LTE-U … this week in 2015

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on the sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

How to fund rural broadband?
WASHINGTON – From a podium in Omaha, Neb., FCC Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai, announced his vision of bringing broadband Internet services to rural America. Contrary to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s vision of offering $1.7 billion in subsidies to expand the Lifeline Assistance Program, Pai proposed making modest changes to the existing Universal Service Fund rules. “It’s time we made good on the promise of delivering broadband to rural Americans,” Pai said. “The time for talk is over; the time for action has arrived. That’s why I am putting on the table a concrete and specific plan for correcting this historical accident and giving rate-of-return carriers a chance to participate in the Connect America Fund if they want to do so.” Pai went on to highlight why his approach was superior to Wheeler’s. “I have concluded after careful study that targeted changes to existing universal service rules can solve the stand-alone broadband problem,” Pai explained. … Read more

Sprint goes unlimited, but kills ‘iPhone for life’ option
Sprint is looking to simplify its “All-In” rate plans, announcing a new $80 per month offer that includes the cost of unlimited voice calling, messaging and data services as well as the monthly lease of a smartphone. The plan breaks down to $60 per month for service and $20 per month to lease a smartphone. The new plan aligns the carrier’s previously available “All-In” offerings across devices, although it eliminates Sprint’s previously offered “iPhone for Life” promotion. That plan was priced at $50 per month for the unlimited service, with customers paying an additional $20 per month to lease a basic iPhone 6. T-Mobile US is the only other nationwide operator to offer “unlimited” services, which it prices at $80 per month. Device costs are extra, though the price of the device is paid off at the end of the term, while Sprint customers have to pay a remaining balance at the end of the term if they want to keep the device. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure earlier this month hinted that the carrier would likely look to raise prices on its unlimited data plans in a move to shore up revenue and help pay for much-needed network improvements. … Read more

NYC gets Linked
An ambitious project to bring super high-speed public Wi-Fi to all five boroughs of New York City envisions replacing some 10,000 antiquated phone booths with so-called Links. The LinkNYC project, which has the full endorsement of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, is backed by an investment group comprising Sidewalk Labs (a Google-funded startup), Intersection (a merger of Control Group and Titan), chipmaker Qualcomm, Comark and Antenna, according to Bloomberg Business. The project is meant to bridge the “digital divide,” while boosting public safety and job creation. Each of the Links will host paid advertising, which could bring in an estimated $500 million in public revenue over the next 12 years. When announcing the project in November, de Blasio said providing high-quality Internet access is “essential for everything we need to do to be a fair and just city, because we can’t continue to have a digital divide that holds back so many of our citizens. With this proposal for the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world – accessible to and free for all New Yorkers and visitors alike – we’re taking a critical step toward a more equal, open and connected city – for every New Yorker, in every borough.” The Links will provide 24/7 Internet access, free phone calls anywhere in the country, a touchscreen interface to access city services, charging for mobile devices and the digital ad displays. … Read more

Apple Music debuts
This week marks the launch of Apple Music, the long-rumored streaming music and radio platform from Apple. First previewed at WWDC 2015, the service aims to compete with Spotify, Tidal, Pandora and other streaming music services. It’s also arguably the biggest software launch from Apple since Apple Maps.What is Apple Music? As previously stated, Apple Music puts one of the biggest companies in the world into the music streaming business. But that’s just one component of the overall picture. In addition to having a vast streaming music catalog similar to Spotify, there is also a worldwide, 24-hour radio station that broadcasts live, an area of recommended playlists boasting real human content curation based on your preferences, and a section for artists to share custom video and music content directly with listeners. The messaging so far is trying to separate itself from the sterile warehouse of music that some services like Spotify can feel like. … Read more

Breaking down LTE-U testing results
As the use of LTE over unlicensed spectrum moves toward field trials expected later this year, LTE-U testing results that show mixed results as to its ability to co-exist fairly with Wi-Fi have been presented by a number of industry players. Even the basic concept of what constitutes “fair” co-existence is in the eye of the beholder. The studies that have been done are hardly apples-to-apples comparisons, and both sides are calling the others’ test methodologies skewed toward their preferred results, particularly in recent comments to the Federal Communications Commission. Adding to the challenge is the fact that LTE-U specifications developed by the industry consortium LTE-U Forum involve proprietary mechanisms (such as Qualcomm’s Carrier Sensing Adaptive Transmission), and the version being standardized by 3GPP, Licensed Assisted Access, is substantially different in that it incorporates a mandatory Listen Before Talk mechanism required in areas such as Japan and Europe. Still, let’s take a look at the some of the testing that has been done thus far, and what different companies have concluded based on their evaluations. Today we’ll see what Qualcomm, Broadcom and Google have said, and leave the LTE-U Forum and CableLabs for a second installment coming tomorrow. … Read more

Internet cable sabotage in California
The FBI is investigating at least 11 incidents in California where an unknown person or persons are sneaking into unmonitored underground vaults and severing high-capacity Internet cables. The disruptions have all taken place in the last year and range from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sacramento, according to a USA Today report. The latest attack disrupted service to various businesses and residents around California’s capital city. The fiber-optic cables in this case were used to carry data between hubs before being distributed to homes and small businesses. Mark Peterson, a spokesman for a local Internet provider in the area who’s customers were affected by the outage, said he characterized the attack as “coordinated.” According to reports, the cable-snipping saboteur(s) generally attacks concealed locations that are not monitored by security cameras. “When it affects multiple companies and cities, it does become disturbing,” said FBI Special Agent Greg Wuthrich. “We definitely need the public’s assistance.” … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

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