WIFI Alliance Introduces 802.11ah


For the last decade or so, wireless networking has been entirely about short range, high speed communications. The type of networking needed by an Internet of things is fundamentally incompatible with WiFi, and the reason for this is due to the frequencies used by WiFi networking gear. 2.4 and 5 GHz are very fast, but cannot penetrate through walls as easily as lower frequencies.

This week the WiFi alliance introduced IEEE 802.11ah into the WiFi spec. It’s called WiFi HaLow (pronounced like angel’s headwear), and unlike other versions of 802.11, WiFi HaLow uses low frequencies for low bandwidth but a much larger range.

WiFi HaLow uses the 900 MHz ISM band to communicate, divided into 26 channels. The bandwidth is low – a mere 100 kbps, but the range is huge: one kilometer, or about four times the approximate range of 802.11n.

This is not the only WiFi spec aimed at the Internet of Things. In 2014, the WiFi alliance introduced 802.11af, a networking protocol operating in unused TV whitespace spectrum between 54 and 790 MHz. 802.11af has a similar range as 802.11ah – about one kilometer – but products and chips utilizing 802.11af have been rare and hard to find.


For more information and the original story follow this link hackaday.com


Power beamed to camera via ambient wi-fi signals


The power beaming system used modified wi-fi routers and hubs

Wi-fi signals have been used to beam power to a surveillance camera.

The battery-free camera was modified so it could scavenge power from ambient wi-fi signals, store it and then use it to take photos.

The experiment was one of several by US researchers looking at ways to use wi-fi as a power source.

The team behind the project believes its techniques will be useful for powering the many devices expected to form the “internet of things”.

Adding noise

The system, known as power-over-wi-fi, has been developed by PhD student Vamsi Talla and colleagues at the Sensor Systems Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle.

The team realised that the energy contained in ambient wi-fi signals that are now ubiquitous often came close to the operating voltages required by a variety of low power devices.

Unfortunately, because wi-fi signals are broadcast in bursts across different frequencies the required amount of energy was only available too intermittently to be useful.

To fix this, the research team modified standard wi-fi hotspots and routers to broadcast noise when a channel was not being used to send data. This meant the power of the wi-fi signals stayed constant and, though low, was high enough to power some components.

Adding the noise did little to slow data rates across hotspots, said the team.

The team used the power beaming system to run a temperature sensor and a small surveillance camera that both sat several metres away from a wi-fi hotspot.

The low-power camera gathered energy from wi-fi and stored it in a capacitor that prompted the camera to take a picture when it was charged. By leaching off the ambient radio signals, the camera gathered enough energy every 35 minutes to take a snap.

In a paper detailing their work, Mr. Talla and colleagues said it had the potential to help power the small, low-power sensors and actuators that are expected to become common in homes and workplaces as part of the internet of things.

“The ability to deliver power wirelessly to a wide range of autonomous devices and sensors is hugely significant,” said a story about the research in MIT’s Technology Review. ” Powi-fi could be the enabling technology that finally brings the internet of things to life.”

Please follow this link to BBC News for the original story.

Comcast planning 8 million Wi-Fi hotspots in 19 major cities by year-end


The Comcast Wi-Fi network only encompasses 1 million hotspots right now, but that number will skyrocket to a whopping 8 million by year’s end, with the cable MSO promising to operate hotspots in 19 of the country’s 30 largest cities.

Cities targeted for new hotspot locations include Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

In a blog post, Marcien Jenckes, executive vice president of consumer services for Comcast Cable, said some 200 million out-of-home sessions have been initiated on the company’s Xfinity Wi-Fi network so far in 2014, a 650 percent year-over-year increase.

“Comcast customers now transmit nearly 2 million gigabytes (or half a million DVDs worth) of data through Comcast’s Wi-Fi hotspots each month,” Jenckes added.

Comcast’s hotspots are located at a mix of outdoor locations, businesses and residences.

One of the company’s more controversial efforts has been the creation of “neighborhood hotspots” via the inclusion of a second “xfinitywifi” signal (or SSID) in its residential customers’ home wireless gateways. The second signal provides visiting Xfinity Internet customers with Wi-Fi access without the need to use the homeowner’s private network password. Comcast said 54 percent of Xfinity neighborhood Wi-Fi usage already travels over the second SSID.

“Wi-Fi is part of our broader plan to deliver the fastest in-home and out-of-home Internet experience and power our customers’ growing number of devices and growing Internet use,” Jenckes said.

Though Comcast has indicated an interest in possibly launching a wireless service that would rely on a combination of Wi-Fi and back-up leased capacity on a cellular network, it and other U.S. cable MSOs are currently using Wi-Fi primarily to extend wireless connectivity to their nomadic broadband customers.

The cable industry’s need for Wi-Fi was stressed by other industry execs at this week’s 2014 Cable Show in Los Angeles, according to an article in FierceCable. “There’s so much we can do with Wi-Fi that it’s becoming very important in our new service offerings. It just gives our customers more flexibility,” said Yvette Kanouff, executive vice president of corporate engineering and technology for Cablevision Systems.

For more and the original story follow the source link below.

Source: FierceWireless

FCC Plans to Free Up More Spectrum in Effort to Relieve Congested Wi-Fi Networks

The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a plan to free up more spectrum in the 5GHz range for Wi-Fi purposes. Speaking at an event in Las Vegas today, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that the freed spectrum will relieve the congestion and “traffic jam” that currently constricts Wi-Fi networks today. The extra spectrum is currently used by the Department of Defense, and will be shared with government purposes should the proposal be approved. Genachowski did not say how much spectrum the proposal would allocate for Wi-Fi networks, but he did note that it would be a substantial amount. The FCC is due to review the proposal next month.

Source: The Verge

Airline, WiFi and Testing Groups Sign Collaboration Agreements With The NFC Forum

The NFC Forum has signed collaboration agreements with three industry consortia, the International Air Transport Alliance (IATA), the WiFi Alliance and the Global Certification Forum (GCF).

“The goal of the alliances is to facilitate joint work to further the adoption, reach, and impact of NFC technology in key markets and industries, including mobile communications, air travel, and Wi-Fi communications,” says the NFC Forum. “Collaborative activities will include work on market education, global interoperability, and mobile testing.”

IATA is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 240 airlines that account for 84% of total air traffic. IATA plans to work with the NFC Forum to raise awareness in the market, and help build the ecosystem for NFC. The agreement will include outreach programs such as workshops for airlines and airports, white papers, case studies, webcasts, and events.

“Through programs like Simplifying the Business, IATA continues to explore new standards and technologies to increase customer satisfaction and improve aviation’s efficiency,” says Aleks Popovich, IATA’s senior VP for industry distribution and financial services. “Near field communication offers the potential to support IATA’s Fast Travel initiative, which is aimed at meeting passenger demands for more self-service options. We look forward to our collaboration with the NFC Forum on this exciting opportunity.”

The Wi-Fi Alliance is a global non-profit industry association of hundreds of companies devoted to seamless connectivity. Under the new agreement, the Wi-Fi Alliance and the NFC Forum will exchange approved documents, share information about program schedules, work jointly on NFC Forum Application Documents describing the use of NFC for Wi-Fi network configuration, cooperate on shared marketing material to promote certification programs, and participate in joint events.

“We are pleased to collaborate more closely with the NFC Forum under the terms of our liaison agreement,” says Wi-Fi Alliance president and CEO Edgar Figueroa. “Coordination between our organizations will help deliver a good user experience and exciting new applications of our technologies.”

GCF is a partnership of network operators, device manufacturers, and the test industry that has created an independent certification program to help ensure global interoperability between mobile devices and networks. Under their liaison agreement, GCF and the NFC Forum will work together to identify certification requirements impacting NFC-enabled Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) wireless devices. The partners will also develop processes and procedures to ensure the robustness, reliability, and transparency of NFC-enabled 3GPP wireless device certification and deliver joint announcements and collaborative marketing programs.

“Our certification scheme is built on an ethos of ‘test once, use anywhere’ and provides a global benchmark for the interoperability of mobile handsets and connected devices,” says Adriana Nugter, GCF’s operations manager. “Through collaboration with the NFC Forum and other industry organisations, GCF strives to streamline testing requirements for wireless devices embedding multiple technologies.”

“As NFC technology reaches into many new markets and industries, the NFC Forum is working to make the process as smooth and effective as possible by collaborating with leadership organizations that share our goals,” explains Koichi Tagawa, chairman of the NFC Forum. “These new agreements with Global Certification Forum, the International Air Transport Association, and the Wi-Fi Alliance will expedite the availability and use of more globally interoperable NFC-enabled solutions. We look forward to sharing long and productive partnerships with these organizations.”

Source: NFC World

Security Hole Discovered in Instagram iOS App

If you use the Instagram application on your iPhone or other iOS devices, it is worth noting that a researcher has discovered a vulnerability within the Instagram application for iOS devices that will grant hackers access to your account, allowing them to take over it and even delete your photos.

This is due to the way the app authenticates itself with the Instagram servers, through the use of unencrypted cookies to confirm your account info with the Instagram servers. What this means is that if you were to use Instagram while hooked to an unsecure network, such as a public WiFi, whoever controls that WiFi access point can in theory grab that cookie, which in turn can be used to access your account by connecting with Instagram’s servers.

The researcher who found the security holes has reportedly reached out to Instagram to inform them of the vulnerability. It seems that it has been about a month now and there has not been any word from Instagram over the matter, let alone an update that will fix the security hole.

It is not yet clear whether or not the Android version on the Instagram application is similarly affected.

Facebook to Exchange Free WiFi Hotspots for Check-ins

With the ability to check-in virtually anywhere you go from Facebook, to let your friends know where you are, and with this feature becoming more popular as time goes by Facebook is looking to capitalize on users check-ins.

This is good news because this will not only benefit Facebook, but it will benefit users as these check-ins will be “exchanged” for free WiFi. According to reports, it seems that Facebook is currently trialing some sort of pilot program in which they provide some businesses with “Facebook routers” which provide free WiFi hotspots to customers.

Customers will just need to check-in at their location and they will then be directed to that business’s Facebook page, where depending on the business, deals and special offers could also be given to those that check-in and the customer will get free access to WiFi hotspot.

This is not only good for the user who gets free WiFi, but also to the business that gains more exposure. Also for Facebook who will get the free data which helps create more specific ads, which may not really be what most people want to hear is that Facebook will gather even more specific data about you. Although this doesn’t mean that those who refuse to check-in don’t get the free WiFi, in fact the WiFi will still be provided but will require a password that should be given by the establishment.

Broadcom Wi-Fi Chipset in Recent Devices Vulnerable to Attack

There is a proof-of-concept example code that shows a vulnerability in the firmware of two wireless chips produced by Broadcom, the BCM4325 and the BCM4329.

Some of the recent devices that have these Broadcom wireless chips are:

    • iPhone 4,
    • iPad
    • iPad 2
    • HTC Droid
    • Incredible 2
    • Motorola Droid X2
    • Some Edge model cars manufactured by Ford with built-in Wi-Fi

When executing the vulnerability the attack renders the Wi-Fi connection unusable for the duration of the attack. Once the attack is over, the device will work normally. Other features of the device are unaffected by the Wi-Fi disruption.

According to Andrés Blanco, a researcher from Core Security told Ars Technica, “The only requirement to exploit the vulnerability is to have a wireless card that supports raw inject of 802.11 frames,”

Andrés Blanco did say, “We are not sure that we could retrieve private user data but we are going to look into this,” which does make this vulnerability seem less threatening.

GM Working on Wi-Fi Direct-equipped Cars to Detect Pedestrians

General Motors is expanding its Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) and Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication systems. The system is being developed to allow vehicles to share information between vehicles and infrastructure the help provide information such as stalled vehicles, road work ahead with warnings of potential hazards. Also GM wants to add pedestrians and cyclists to the detect service so they can be seen before the driver can see them.

GM is developing a Wifi Direct system for pedestrian detection that allows Wifi devices, such as smartphones and tablets, to connect with each other. The devices will communicate with each other without the need for a wireless hotspot. Wi-Fi Direct offers location data, it is current up to only one second delay.

GM Global R&D director of the Electrical and Control Systems Research Lab, Nady Boules said, “This new wireless capability could warn drivers about pedestrians who might be stepping into the roadway from behind a parked vehicle, or bicyclists who are riding in the car’s blind spot,” and “Wi-Fi Direct has the potential to become an integral part of the comprehensive driver assistance systems we offer on many of our Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles.”

“Wi-Fi Direct’s fast connections offer a distinct advantage in vehicle applications,” said Donald Grimm, GM Global R&D senior researcher of perception and vehicle control systems. “The quicker a vehicle can detect other Wi-Fi Direct users, the greater the potential for collision avoidance.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 4,280 pedestrians and 618 bicyclists lost their lives in collisions with motor vehicles in 2010 which is down as much as 25 percent since 1995. GM hopes that this new technology will help to further reduce this number, and I personally believe it will definitely help drivers be more aware.

Wi-Fi Direct devices can reach each other at a maximum distance of 656 feet, according to The Wifi Alliance. This range could enable secure transfers of files such as MP3s or digital address book information between a home computer and the user’s Wi-Fi Direct-equipped vehicle infotainment or navigation system.

“As we move toward becoming a more connected society, having a self-aware connected car will be increasingly important,” said Thilo Koslowski, vice president of automotive industry analysis at Gartner Inc. “Not only can Wi-Fi Direct help vehicles seamlessly communicate with other consumer devices, it can also augment vehicle-to-infrastructure communications as well, which could lead to better traffic management and fewer accidents.”

Source: GM

T-Mobile Connected In-Car Wifi in the 2013 Audi A4 & A5

The 2013 Audi A4 and A5 models will have a T-Mobile 3G (possibly HSPA+) connection and will come with In-Car Wifi so that up to 8 devices can be connected to the internet.

These new A4 and A5 models will also include a built-in navigation system with a Tegra processor and a large touchscreen built into the dash. The system does not appear to be running any sort of OS (Android or any other mobile OS). This is going to kick off what is the beginning of internet connected cars on the roads and it looks so great.