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it roundup

The IT Roundup: Telecom thrives, withers and evolves

April 23, 2015
By Vanessa Ulrich

Telecommunications is constantly changing as we seek new ways to get in touch faster and cheaper than ever before. Here’s a news recap on how three areas of telecom are evolving.

Mobility and smart devices
Republic Wireless announced last month that they are kicking off a program to reimburse users for the data they don’t use. A first for the mobile industry, Republic said in a statement, “nothing appeals to consumers more than cold hard cash.” While the provider is still small—a couple hundred thousand subscribers—PC World has touted its services, and this rebate program might be a tipping point for the company’s success. Right on their heels, Google announced a new phone service called Project Fi that will adopt a similar model. Both Republic Wireless and Google’s service are “Wi-Fi first,” meaning as much information as possible is sent over Wi-Fi before switching to cellular towers, making service cheaper than most cellular-first models.

Are you guilty?
A new Harris Poll survey for MobileIron has found the majority of young professionals who use mobile devices for work feel guilt related to using devices to mix their work and personal lives. Whether it’s doing work at home instead of spending time with family, or using a device to check Facebook at work, 58 percent of the 3,500 respondents reported “mobile guilt.”

Big, hairy and audacious: Internet for all
Launched in 2013, Google’s audacious Project Loon is starting to come of age. The test balloons deployed from New Zealand have successfully flown around the world, bringing Internet to remote areas around the world. The goal is to bring the Internet to the almost two out of three people globally who do not currently have access. After refining the way the balloons are manufactured, launched, steered and retrieved, Google is ready to deploy thousands of the balloons. The balloons now last more than 100 days, take only a few hours to make, and fly twice as high as commercial planes.

Astronomers vs. landscapers
What do astronomers have in common with lawnmowers? Not much—I thought—until I read this Wired article about a new robotic lawnmower (“the Roomba for lawns” if you will), that’s getting astronomers up in arms. The device would operate within a perimeter and be controlled via radio frequency— unfortunately, the very same frequency several radio telescopes use to observe activity in the universe. What do you think—should the FCC protect these frequencies, or should we get to mow our lawns without lifting a finger?

Farewell, FM?
Meanwhile, Norway has announced its intention of being the first country in the world to get rid of FM radio. The Norwegian government plans to complete the phase-out in less than two years, moving to solely digital radio. Transmitting national radio through the current FM network is apparently eight times more costly than using a digital network. Another one of the advantages of using digital radio is its stability under extreme conditions, making it more dependable for broadcasting emergency preparedness messages.

As part of TEKsystems’ public relations team, Vanessa Ulrich reads everything she can about the technology industry and emerging trends. Vanessa blogs about where technology and society collide, giving context and commentary to top news stories. You can reach her with questions and comments @TEK_PR via Twitter.

Enjoy what you read? Check out last month’s news roundup on security and identity.

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