According to the latest numbers from Ookla’s Net Index, the United States ranks 31st among every other country for internet download speeds, and 42nd for upload speeds. The data was gathered from the average of the past 30 days of speed tests done on Seattle-based Ookla’s Speedtest.net site.
While that still puts the U.S. in the top 20 percent of countries, there’s a lot of room for improvement. As Internet-connected devices continue to drive economic growth, increasing broadband speeds to keep up with the rest of the world is key.
The expansion of fiber networks, including Google Fiber and Seattle’s effort to bring fiber connectivity to parts of the city brings the promise of improving the U.S.’s standings.
But overall, the U.S. is in a tough spot, because of its size compared to some of the other countries on the list. Bringing effective Internet infrastructure to a country that spans almost 3.8 million square miles is a much different challenge, compared to 4th place South Korea, which measures 38,691 square miles.
Click here for the graphic on internet connectivity for 186 countries in report.
The equipment is big and expensive, with the research costs at almost $500,000. But by just using retail components, Chinese professor Chi Nan has built her own Li-Fi wireless system that can use LED lights to send and receive Internet data.
“I bought the lights from Taobao,” she said, referring to the Chinese e-commerce site.
The professor from Fudan University showed off the technology on Tuesday at the China International Industry Fair in Shanghai. Unlike traditional Wi-Fi routers that use radio signals, Chi’s system relies on light to send and receive data wirelessly.
Other scientist, especially in the U.K., have also been researching the technology, and dubbed it “Li-Fi”. But rather than develop specialized hardware, Chi bought off-the-shelf retail parts to create her system.
Chi, an expert on optical fibers, said on the side lines of the trade show that she was simply interested in the promise of Li-Fi. “I just wanted to play around,” she said. Funding also came from the local Shanghai government, which has made research in the area a goal.
While Li-Fi is still in its early stages, the technology could provide an alternative to using radio waves for wireless Internet access. Currently, household Wi-Fi routers and mobile telecommunication towers depend on radio signals to send data wirelessly. But the amount of radio spectrum is limited.
Li-Fi, however, could be deployed in everyday LED bulbs, with light-based Internet connections covering the interior of entire homes or buildings. The data connection speeds can also reach several gigabits per second. Chi’s own system runs at 150 Mbps by using a small number of LED bulbs each at one watt.
“With a more powerful LED light, we can reach 3.5 Gbps speeds,” she added. Both the router and receiver are fitted with LED bulbs so that they can send data, and also installed with a chip that can process the signals.
But Li-Fi isn’t without its drawbacks. Because it is dependent on light, the technology can’t penetrate walls or work in complete darkness. In Chi’s case, the Li-Fi receiver must be within three meters of the router, and placed under the LED bulbs so that the sensor can read it.
In addition, her system is not exactly portable. The first model is quite large, with the Li-Fi receiver itself is about the size of a video game console. A second model was made to compact the parts, and that Li-Fi receiver resembles closer to a mini desktop PC. On Tuesday, the receivers were shown connected to two nearby laptops via ethernet cable.
“There are still many problems that need to be resolved,” Chi said, pointing to the need to improve the Li-Fi coverage, and miniaturize the needed components.
Over time, however, the Li-Fi receiver could conceivably take the form of a USB dongle that attaches to a notebook. Chi estimates it will take another five years before the technology can enter the market as consumer products. So far, her team has spent about 18 months on the project.
Source: Network World
NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) has made history using a pulsed laser beam to transmit data over the 239,000 miles between the moon and Earth at a record-breaking download rate of 622 megabits per second (Mbps).
LLCD is NASA’s first system for two-way communication using a laser instead of radio waves. It also has demonstrated an error-free data upload rate of 20 Mbps transmitted from the primary ground station in New Mexico to the spacecraft currently orbiting the moon.
“LLCD is the first step on our roadmap toward building the next generation of space communication capability,” said Badri Younes, NASA’s deputy associate administrator for space communications and navigation (SCaN) in Washington. “We are encouraged by the results of the demonstration to this point, and we are confident we are on the right path to introduce this new capability into operational service soon.”
Since NASA first ventured into space, it has relied on radio frequency (RF) communication. However, RF is reaching its limit as demand for more data capacity continues to increase. The development and deployment of laser communications will enable NASA to extend communication capabilities such as increased image resolution and 3-D video transmission from deep space.
“The goal of LLCD is to validate and build confidence in this technology so that future missions will consider using it,” said Don Cornwell, LLCD manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “This unique ability developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory has incredible application possibilities.”
LLCD is a short-duration experiment and the precursor to NASA’s long-duration demonstration, the Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD). LCRD is a part of the agency’s Technology Demonstration Missions Program, which is working to develop crosscutting technology capable of operating in the rigors of space. It is scheduled to launch in 2017.
LLCD is hosted aboard NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), launched in September from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va. LADEE is a 100-day robotic mission operated by the agency’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. LADEE’s mission is to provide data that will help NASA determine whether dust caused the mysterious glow astronauts observed on the lunar horizon during several Apollo missions. It also will explore the moon’s atmosphere. Ames designed, developed, built, integrated and tested LADEE, and manages overall operations of the spacecraft. NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington funds the LADEE mission.
The LLCD system, flight terminal and primary ground terminal at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, N.M., were developed by the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT. The Table Mountain Optical Communications Technology Laboratory operated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., is participating in the demonstration. A third ground station operated by the European Space Agency on Tenerife in the Canary Islands also will be participating in the demonstration.
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Even foreign governments are no match for the NSA’s reach, with documents now showing that it could read the Mexican president’s email.
The US has been snooping on the inbox belonging to former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, according to documents leaked to Der Spiegel.
The documents were leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden and, according to Der Spiegel, reveal that in May 2010, the National Security Agency’s (NSA) Tailored Access Operations division was successful in compromising an email server within the Mexican presidential network. This would provide the NSA with access to emails from the president’s own email account, as well as those of Cabinet members who also use the same server.
The NSA is alleged to boast about the achievement in the documents, noting that it now has access to “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications”.
The issue of spying on Mexico reaches further back than the presidential office. Further documents obtained by Der Spiegel show that the department responsible for regulating drug trade and human trafficking, the Public Security Secretariat, had been similarly compromised in August 2009.
Documents as recent as April 2013 show that Mexico’s leaders were a priority target for surveillance, as well as Brazil.
Brazil’s recent announcement over the security of its email may indicate that it is aware of the US surveillance campaign against its communications, however.
The country’s President Dilma Rousseff has tasked one of its departments with creating a system to ensure its email is free from espionage attempts. She previously lashed out at the US after earlier leaked documents showed that her country was being spied on.
NSA director Keith Alexander and his deputy John Inglis are soon expected to leave the US spy agency, but the NSA denies that their departures have anything to do with the recent media attention.
Extension of cable-based telecommunication networks requires high investments in both conurbations and rural areas. Broadband data transmission via radio relay links might help to cross rivers, motorways or nature protection areas at strategic node points, and to make network extension economically feasible. In the current issue of the nature photonics magazine, researchers present a method for wireless data transmission at a world-record rate of 100 gigabits per second.
In their record experiment, 100 gigabits of data per second were transmitted at a frequency of 237.5 GHz over a distance of 20 m in the laboratory. In previous field experiments under the “Millilink” project funded by the BMBF, rates of 40 gigabits per second and transmission distances of more than 1 km were reached. For their latest world record, the scientists applied a photonic method to generate the radio signals at the transmitter. After radio transmission, fully integrated electronic circuits were used in the receiver.
“Our project focused on integration of a broadband radio relay link into fiber-optical systems,” Professor Ingmar Kallfass says. He coordinated the “Millilink” project under a shared professorship funded by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Since early 2013, he has been conducting research at Stuttgart University. “For rural areas in particular, this technology represents an inexpensive and flexible alternative to optical fiber networks, whose extension can often not be justified from an economic point of view.” Kallfass also sees applications for private homes: “At a data rate of 100 gigabits per second, it would be possible to transmit the contents of a blue-ray disk or of five DVDs between two devices by radio within two seconds only.”
In the experiments, latest photonic and electronic technologies were combined: First, the radio signals are generated by means of an optical method. Several bits are combined by so-called data symbols and transmitted at the same time. Upon transmission, the radio signals are received by active integrated electronic circuits.
The transmitter generates the radio signals by means of an ultra-broadband so-called photon mixer made by the Japanese company NTT-NEL. For this, two optical laser signals of different frequencies are superimposed on a photodiode. An electrical signal results, the frequency of which equals the frequency difference of both optical signals, here, 237.5 GHz. The millimeter-wave electrical signal is then radiated via an antenna.
“It is a major advantage of the photonic method that data streams from fiber-optical systems can directly be converted into high-frequency radio signals,” Professor Jürg Leuthold says. He proposed the photonic extension that was realized in this project. The former head of the KIT Institute of Photonics and Quantum Electronics (IPQ) is now affiliated with ETH Zurich. “This advantage makes the integration of radio relay links of high bit rates into optical fiber networks easier and more flexible.” In contrast to a purely electronic transmitter, no intermediate electronic circuit is needed. “Due to the large bandwidth and the good linearity of the photon mixer, the method is excellently suited for transmission of advanced modulation formats with multiple amplitude and phase states. This will be a necessity in future fiber-optical systems,” Leuthold adds.
Reception of radio signals is based on electronic circuits. In the experiment, a semiconductor chip was employed that was produced by the Fraunhofer Institute of Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) within the framework of the “Millilink” project. The semiconductor technology is based on high-electron-mobility transistors (HEMT) enabling the fabrication of active, broadband receivers for the frequency range between 200 and 280 GHz. The integrated circuits have a chip size of a few square millimeters only. The receiver chip can also cope with advanced modulation formats. As a result, the radio link can be integrated into modern optical fiber networks in a bit-transparent way.
Already in May this year the team succeeded in transmitting a data rate of 40 gigabits per second over a long distance in the laboratory using a purely electronic system. In addition, data were transmitted successfully over a distance of one kilometer from one high-riser to another in the Karlsruhe City center. “The long transmission distances in “Millilink” were reached with conventional antennas that may be replaced by fully integrated miniaturized antenna designs in future compact systems for indoor use,” says Professor Thomas Zwick, Head of the KIT Institut für Hochfrequenztechnik und Elektronik (Institute of High-Frequency Technology and Electronics). The present data rate can be still increased. “By employing optical and electrical multiplexing techniques, i.e., by simultaneously transmitting multiple data streams, and by using multiple transmitting and receiving antennas, the data rate could be multiplied,” says Swen König from the KIT Institute of Photonics and Quantum Electronics (IPQ), who conceived and conducted the recent world-record experiment. “Hence, radio systems having a data rate of 1 terabit per second appear to be feasible.”
Source: Science Daily
Verizon could be working on increasing the speed of its phone network in New York, by performing a new LTE rollout. The carrier has apparently been spotted operating a new LTE network, which is shown to be providing network speeds of around 80Mbps downstream, and peaking at almost 23Mbps for uploads.
Milan Milanovic told GigaOM that his spectrum analyzer showed the network as operating on the 2.1GHz Advanced Wireless Services band, and was able to be connected to using an iPhone 5s. The new connections could end up offering a 150Mbps theoretical maximum, with the carrier apparently deploying the network on 40MHz of spectrum in some areas thanks to the acquisition of 4G licenses from cable companies last year. It is thought that the 80Mbps achieved on the test network is due to either an artificial data rate restriction or an insufficient fiber backhaul.
The same high-speed network is apparently also being tested in Los Angeles in Chicago, though these rumors were not able to be confirmed to the same level as the New York trials. A launch date for the mystery network is also unknown.
It was rumored back in March that Amazon had been awarded a $600 million contract by the CIA to develop a cloud computing infrastructure for the clandestine agency. It is believed that this new infrastructure will cut costs for the CIA as it looks to build a new way to handle enormous amounts of data efficiently.
When Amazon was named as the provider, IBM moved the court to reopen bidding for the contract. IBM had concerns on the process through which the contract had been awarded to Amazon, it believed that the prices were not properly evaluated and that a contract requirement had been waived for Amazon. The effort to reopen bidding has been squashed by Amazon in court.
The hammer was laid down by Judge Thomas Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington. IBM is obviously not happy. The company says in a statement that it is “disappointed” with the ruling made by the court and that it plans to file an appeal against this decision.
IBM goes on to say that in light of current times this decision is “especially inappropriate,” adding that IBM’s bid was superior in a number of ways while also being “substantially more cost-effective.” Amazon is yet to comment on this ruling, but it seems to be far from a victory, given that IBM is showing no signs of backing off any time soon.
The security researcher Bruce Schneier, who is now helping the Guardian newspaper review Snowden documents, suggests that more revelations are on the way.
Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer and author on security topics, last month took on a side gig: helping the Guardian newspaper pore through documents purloined from the U.S. National Security Agency by contractor Edward Snowden, lately of Moscow.
In recent months that newspaper and other media have issued a steady stream of revelations, including the vast scale at which the NSA accesses major cloud platforms, taps calls and text messages of wireless carriers, and tries to subvert encryption.
This year Schneier is also a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. In a conversation there with David Talbot, chief correspondent of MIT Technology Review, Schneier provided perspective on the revelations to date—and hinted that more were coming.
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Source: MIT Technology Review