Current Issue- Full Articles

  • FSBC (the Flat Stanley Broadband Challenge)

    Truly, this meets the intent of this series – to identify the most unusual places a Wi-Fi notice has been posted.


  • How to Text a Landline

    The next time you are in Middleton, Wis., the police department wants you to text them if you have a problem. Anyone with a text message-enabled cellphone can type out nonemergency questions or complaints and send them to the same phone number that dispatchers at the station use to answer voice calls. The text is delivered to computers used by the dispatchers, who can then reply or direct assistance as needed. The Wisconsin State Journal covered the story.

    How is it that residents can now send SMS messages to a phone number that is not connected to a cellphone?  Zipwhip Inc., a cloud-based text messaging service, directs text messages sent to users’ landline phone numbers to the users’ computers, tablets or smartphones

    This might be a fun or convenient product for some consumers, but the technology really shines in business applications. Most companies still have landline telephone service, and their phone number might be part of their brand. Using Zipwhip combines a form of communication customers are familiar with – text messages – with phone numbers customers already use. In other words, customers can contact the businesses with text messages through a point of contact that they already associate with the business. Continue reading →

  • A New World Record

    Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, announced that it has set a new world broadband speed record over traditional copper telephone lines: 10 Gbps symmetrical.

    Bell Labs achieved the 10 Gbps speed with a prototype technology known as XG-FAST, which utilizes an increased frequency range up to 500 MHz to obtain faster speeds than prior technologies but over shorter distances.

    In tests, Bell Labs was able to achieve speeds of 1 Gbps over 70 meters on a single copper pair, and 10 Gbps over 30 meters by using two pairs of copper lines.

    “Our constant aim is to push the limits of what is possible to ‘invent the future,’” said Bell Labs president Marcus Weldon. “Our demonstration of 10 Gbps over copper is a prime example: by pushing broadband technology to its limits, operators can determine how they could deliver gigabit services over their existing networks, ensuring the availability of ultra-broadband access as widely and as economically as possible.”

    “Achieving 1 Gbps ‘symmetrical’ services…will enable operators to provide Internet connection speeds that are indistinguishable from fiber-to-the-home services, a major business benefit where it is not physically, economically or aesthetically viable to lay new fiber cables all the way into residences,” Bell Labs stated in a press release. “Instead, fiber can be brought to the curbside, wall or basement of a building and the existing copper network used for the final few meters.”

  • Senate Bill Proposes to Spare Device Manufacturers Hassle of Engraving FCC Logo on Devices; Apple Watch Anticipated to Debut at $300

    fcc-logo-300x200Come on, you’ve seen it on everything from the back of your LCD monitor to your remote garage door opener – that funky, 1970′s standard FCC logo that looks like the letter “F” either grabbing or eating the letter “C.” How that ever replaced the classic bird atop transmission wires seal of the agency is beyond my current knowledge, but the rub of it is that current federal regulations require the equipment manufactures to physically label their products as FCC compliant. Hence that touch of the 70′s on every latest device (to be fair, however, the soft, rounded edges of the F-C-C have been cleaned and angled in recent years, leading to a leaner, crisper logo – the FCC on Adkins, I suppose).

    But . . . a new Senate bill proposes that this labeling can be implemented electronically, on the screen of the device and visible at the discretion of the device designer. Introduced by Sens. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the “E-Label” would authorize the FCC logo to appear on a “splash” screen when the device powers on, or elsewhere in menus or settings screens. The impetus for the bill was the growing number of shrinking devices (yes, I have been waiting to use that phrase).


    No respect: it’s not just the device world – even Rita’s Ices ignores Blackberry.

    The news may be welcome to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), whose anticipated iWatch is anticipated to enter the market at $300. The release of the iWatch, the development of which has been watched (groan) with keen interest for the past several years, would be a breakout moment in the wear device industry. As noted in reports from last year’s CES, wearable health and diet monitoring devices designed for Apple and Android (sorry, Blackberry) were front and center on the trade floor in Las Vegas. A “ground up” device from Apple that would integrate seamlessly with existing devices and continue the firm’s design standards would likely be extraordinarily attractive to both prospective users who are actively interested in wearables as well as prospective users who, on balance, may simply be interested in anything Apple. Apple has not confirmed production, but trade media predict its debut within the year.

    At the least, Apple may not need to find room to inscribe the ravenous “F.”