Connect (X)

Tag Archives: Microsoft

RTO Wireless, Microsoft to Deliver Broadband Internet Rural New York, Maine

RTO Wireless and Microsoft have agreed to provide broadband internet access to more than 290,000 people living in unserved rural regions of New York and Maine. The partnership is part of the Microsoft Airband Initiative, which aims to extend broadband access to 2 million people in unserved portions of rural America by July 4, 2022.

Currently, 19.4 million people living in rural areas in the United States lack access to a broadband internet connection. RTO Wireless will use TV white spaces and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) to deliver fixed and mobile wireless services to rural markets within the U.S., with initial rollouts across 16 counties in Maine and 20 counties in New York.

“The TV white spaces technology ecosystem championed by Microsoft provides a critical low-band function enabling tremendous RF propagation over a large service area,” said Steve Hubbard, CEO of RTO Wireless. “Joining the Microsoft Airband Initiative will enable RTO to enhance the educational, healthcare and agricultural services that can be provided to the rural communities. RTO is proud to launch its initial networks in New York and Maine with an impressive consortium of technology partners to deliver exciting applications and services.”

This partnership between Microsoft and RTO Wireless will complement the already established and successful “broadband for all” initiative in New York. In 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature established the $500 million New NY Broadband Program, the nation’s largest and most ambitious state investment in broadband expansion. Three rounds of grants using a reverse-auction method have expended this $500 million and provided support to projects that deliver high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved areas of the state.

Artificial IntelIigence: The Technology to Watch

January 5, 2017 — 

By Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor, Applied Wireless Technology

worthmanArtificial intelligence (AI) will be much more visible in the coming year. In fact, some say AI is the technology to watch in 2017, and not just in high-visibility apps. The emergence of platforms like Microsoft’s Cognitive Service, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Speech API, allow product developers to focus on user experience rather than low-level speech processing. This will enable a plethora of products such as virtual assistants, which use voice-controlled artificial intelligence interfaces to fit into users’ lives more seamlessly.

One such project is call Vi. It is an Ai-based “bio-sensing” wireless earphone which finds your ideal path to fitness and coaches you in real time. Another one, Bonjour, is an alarm clock that wakes you up with a personalized daily briefing based upon learned preferences. And Dashbot, a talking car accessory that rings of Kit, the wonder car in the TV show Knight Rider.

Deep learning will move out of the hype zone and into reality this year. On the high-end of AI for 2017 are things like IBM’s Watson, which will see leaps in technological advancements. And look for AI to start appearing, more and more, in manual repetitive tasks once performed by humans. AI is going to be something to watch in 2017.

Wi-Fi Takes Flight at Microsoft with Happy Landings in Orlando

By Ernest Worthman —



June 11, 2015 — Carriers, especially regional ones, are biting their nails as they see more and more users opting to use Wi-Fi. It costs them money every time that happens. But, in retrospect, Wi-Fi has platforms that can actually help a carrier. VoWi-Fi is one of those because it can be a monetized service that these regional carriers can offer to keep users from going to one of the big four.

Also, Wi-Fi is great for data offload. Since nearly 80 percent of all bandwidth usage is data, carriers can put their own Wi-Fi cells out there to offload bloat-apps like multimedia audio and video. That means they don’t have to add extra capacity at the cell level, and their network can handle more users.

Another is special systems. In many cases, deploying out a network of Wi-Fi small cells in places like stadiums, metro centers, and such can generate revenue. Like push advertising or even special charges to see things like special cameras at the game or to find open parking meters.

Next, guess who is rebranding? Microsoft. They just came out with a missive that they are going to rebrand skype Wi-Fi service to Microsoft Wi-Fi and offer the service to Office 365 for business subscribers. Well, when Microsoft gets on the bandwagon, that is a sure sign that whatever they get behind is likely to go mainstream.

Their position is that for business travelers, getting reliable Wi-Fi service in airports and hotels is often a pain. Even when Wi-Fi is available, the user often has to fill out a form and provide a credit card number for the paid service – been there, done that!

Supposedly, and this is still leaked information, Microsoft Wi-Fi will have 10 million hotspots, up from Skype’s 2 million. Users can pay for Wi-Fi access using Microsoft Wi-Fi cards that can be topped off when needed. And, it’s an app that will direct the user to the nearest Wi-Fi hotspot. Sign me up!


Finally, I just got a feed that the Orlando International Airport has deployed an advanced Wi-Fi network with more than a thousand Bluetooth beacons and a mobile app to help business and leisure travelers navigate their way around the airport. Does that scream small cells, or what? And it screams mainstream as well.

This is one of those times and places where such a deployment is a boon to travelers. The mobile app, designed especially for the airport gives travelers the ability to locate their ticket counter, terminal or gate, check their flight information, find restaurants and shops, and locate the correct baggage claim upon arrival. The app places the traveler and provides them with a path to wherever they want to go.

Eventually, the airport plans to use data about passenger traffic and flow patterns to determine staffing levels at security checkpoints – now that’s a novel idea! In addition, the airport is building a Wi-Fi-enabled parking lot for people to park, wait for their party’s flight to arrive, while still conducting business or enjoying entertainment via their mobile devices. In addition to Wi-Fi, the parking lot will have electrical outlets and restrooms – now that’s really cool!

WVU Site of Nation’s First Campus ‘Super Wi-Fi’ network

This month, West Virginia University became the first university in the United States to use vacant broadcast TV channels to provide the campus and nearby areas with wireless broadband Internet service, known as Super Wi-Fi.

The Super Wi-Fi pilot project was the result of a partnership between WVU and the Advanced Internet Regions (AIR.U) consortium, which consists of the Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation, Google, Microsoft, and organizations that represent 500 universities.

Adaptrum, a California startup, is providing white space equipment designed to operate on vacant TV channels, and the fiber-optic backhaul is provided by West Virginia Network for Telecomputing. The network deployment is managed by AIR.U co-founder Declaration Networks Group, which does network engineering design, deployment, operation and support.

“Super Wi-Fi presents a lower-cost, scalable approach to deliver high-capacity wireless networks … and it is a new broadband alternative to provide sustainable models that can be replicated and extended to towns and cities nationwide,” said Bob Nichols, CEO of Declaration Networks Group and AIR.U co-founder.

Adaptrum’s TV band white space device, Model ACRS 1.0, is approved by the FCC and authorized to operate in the entire UHF TV band with an output EIRP close to 36 dBm.

Adaptrum’s ACRS 1.0 TV white space system uses the Telcordia TV white-space database. The operation was approved for the entire UHF TV band (Channel 14 to 51, from 470 MHz to 698 MHz) and authorized for a radiated output power close to 4 watts EIRP (with more than 0.5 watts conducted output power and up to 10 dBi antenna gain.) The ACRS 1.0 system is built upon Adaptrum’s cognitive radio technology with an Adaptive orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM) engine. It features an output signal that meets the FCC TV band device emission requirements while maximizing channel spectrum efficiency.

The ACRS 1.0 system provides all the necessary functions to be FCC Part 15 Subpart H rules-compliant, but it uses commercial, off-the-shelf RF and digital components that are not optimized for mass production. The company plans to introduce a second-generation TV white space system, which will be optimized for cost and large-scale production. In the meantime, ACRS 1.0 systems will be produced and offered in limited quantities to interested parties for customer testing and trials.

The initial phase of the WVU deployment provides free public Wi-Fi access for students and faculty at the Public Rapid Transit platforms, a 73-car tram system that transports more than 15,000 riders daily.

“Not only does the AIR.U deployment improve wireless connectivity for the PRT System, but it also demonstrates the real potential of innovation and new technologies to deliver broadband coverage and capacity to rural areas and small towns,” said WVU Chief Information Officer John Campbell.

The propagation characteristics of TV band spectrum enable networks to broadcast Wi-Fi connections over several miles and over hilly and forested terrain, earning it the moniker “Super Wi-Fi” service.

“The innovative WVU network demonstrates why it is critical that the FCC allows companies and communities to use vacant TV channel spectrum on an unlicensed basis,” said Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at the New America Foundation. “We expect that hundreds of rural and small town colleges and surrounding communities will soon take advantage of this very cost-effective technology to extend fast and affordable broadband connections where they are lacking.”

The consortium of higher education associations, public interest groups and high-tech companies, known as AIR.U, joined together to bring broadband wireless to underserved campuses and their surrounding communities. The idea for AIR.U arose out of discussions among members of the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project, (Gig.U), which is a consortium of research university communities that seeks to accelerate the deployment of next-generation networks and services in the United States.

“We are delighted that AIR.U was born out of the Gig.U effort,” said Blair Levin, executive director of Gig.U and former executive director of the National Broadband Plan. “The communities that are home to our research universities and colleges across the country need next-generation speeds to compete in the global economy, and we firmly believe this effort can be a model for other communities.”