Broadcom adds Skyhook positioning to portfolio: Broadcom already has a variety of tools for allowing its chips to determine position quickly, including a ground-based system that tracks GPS satellite positions and uses this to feed out data over cell and other networks to provide assisted GPS, where a GPS receiver doesn't have to find satellites, just lock onto signals where it's told the satellites are located. Adding Skyhook means that Wi-Fi can be used as another variable in quickly providing a fix on coordinates, especially in locales where GPS signals penetrate weakly, such as urban canyons.
The Minneapolis Wi-Fi provider uses point-to-point wireless for high-rise: Steve Alexander of the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune reports that residents of one 34-story building in his paper's city will have the option for 20 Mbps service from USI--but not precisely wireless. The company is running an 800 Mbps point-to-point connection to the building, and then distributing through short-run DSL, a typical technique for apartment and other spread-out or high-rise buildings. Because they can leverage their existing buildout while not paying Qwest or others for rental of wires or cables, 20 Mbps will run residents $50/mo, versus Qwest's fiber-backed $105/mo charge. Comcast charges $53 for 8 Mbps with 16 Mbps bursts or $153 for 50 Mbps in that city. USI is experimenting. With 300 residents, they'd likely need need 30 at that speed to pay their costs. Providing Wi-Fi service to buildings above a few stories has long been a challenge for city-wide Wi-Fi efforts, and possibly one reason why some early efforts fell short.
GSM Association creates laptop brand for mobile broadband: The GSMA will offer a Mobile Broadband sticker for laptops that includes cell chips and software that allow an immediate network connection. Sixteen firms have signed on, including Dell, Lenovo, Qualcomm, and Microsoft. I've been of the mind for some time that buying a laptop with a cellular modem built in is a waste of money, as you are typically committed to that vendor and technology for the life of the laptop, even if speeds improve or you don't like the service. Buying a USB dongle, ExpressCard, or PC Card allows greater portability of the service among computers, and more flexibility for upgrade. Further, with a given cell carrier, you can get a subsidized adapter; despite how they try to hide it in pricing, a laptop with a cell modem essentially costs the same as the laptop without plus the full multi-hundred-dollar true cost of the modem.
GigaOm on bandwidth caps: A must-read on how carriers and service providers are making a poor choice and risking alienating their customers in mass numbers by imposing short-sighted caps on bandwidth use that affect far from the heaviest users of these networks. "Today, it targets heavy users, while tomorrow it will affect all users," concludes the paper, written by Muayyad Al-Chalabi, an analyst and former Bell Labs researcher.
Rice University, HP work on dead zone prediction: Researchers have determined that they can make a small number of measurements and predict real-world performance of outdoor Wi-Fi to a decent degree. I've read the paper, and while it's awfully technical, there are valuable techniques likely to be incorporated into future planning and simulation products.