Monthly Archives: July 2016

Google Fiber That You Need to Know

download-3Google Fiber has slowly been spreading to U.S. cities, and its recent acquisition will bring it to five additional ones. Its goal is to reduce the cost and increase the availability of high-speed internet.

Related: Google Fiber Team Looks to Cut Costs, Staff

Fiber’s development, however, has been slow, to say the least. But this latest acquisition by Google and its new license with the FCC will likely help get the initiative moving a little faster. Here are six things you should know that will help you understand Google Fiber.

1. Slow development up until now

Many people assumed Google Fiber would be available in all major cities almost instantly. After all, it was a Google product — and that mega-company essentially has unlimited funds, so everyone expected a fast launch. It’s been the complete opposite, but there is now light at the end of the tunnel.

The growth of Google Fiber should speed up now that it is focused on 5G. Its acquisition of Webpass, a company that was deeply invested in 5G networks and wireless technology, along with a license granted by the FCC to explore “experimental radio service” in 12 cities over the next 24 months, is a good sign for the future.

2. Cities that currently offer Google Fiber

Google Fiber is currently available in these nine areas:

  • Atlanta, Ga.
  • Austin, Texas
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Kansas City, Mo.
  • Kansas City, Kansas
  • Nashville, Tenn.
  • Provo, Utah
  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill “Triangle,” N.C.

 

3. Where Google Fiber will land next

Some cities that have already been confirmed as upcoming Fiber locations include:

  • Huntsville, Ala.
  • Irvine, Calif.
  • San Antonio, Texas
  • San Francisco, Calif.

Potential locations include:

  • Chicago, Il.
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Jacksonville, Fla.
  • Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Louisville, Ky.
  • Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Portland, Ore.

Related: Chicago and Los Angeles Could Get Google Fiber. And That’s a Very Big Deal for Entrepreneurs.

Some experts have been performing their own research and crunching data to come up with a list of logical cities where Google Fiber might land next.

4. What speed to expect from Google Fiber

Google Fiber speeds are fast — very fast.

A gigabit per second, or 1000 Mbps, is attractive, especially for households that have multiple internet users and devices. Multiple computers, laptops, mobile devices and tablets can really bog down a traditional internet connection.

With Fiber, multiple devices can stream simultaneously without causing any performance issues. If you want to visually understand how fast a gigabit is, check out this video.

5. How much Google Fiber will cost

While the monthly cost of Google Fiber varies depending on what location you are in, each city’s cost is in relatively the same ballpark. For example, if you live in Charlotte, you can get internet plus TV for $130 a month, plus an additional $10 if you want to add Fiber Phone.

These prices don’t include applicable taxes and fees but, relatively speaking, they are affordable for the speed delivered. My current internet/TV/phone package runs more than $160 a month, and I’m definitely not receiving internet speeds of a gigabit per second.

6. What Google Fiber offers in addition to high-speed internet

In addition to a faster internet connection, you can also add Fiber TVand Fiber Phone. TV gives you access to 150+ channels, and with Google Cast built in, you can watch anything on your mobile phone or computer on your TV screen.

Related: AT&T: Google Fiber Demands Government Favors

Fiber Phone, which will add an additional $10 per month to your bill, gives you unlimited nationwide calling. Just as you experience with any phone carrier, you can use your existing number or pick a new one. Google also offers its users spam-filtering, something that I personally believe to be worth the $10 — by itself.

Highlight Explosive Limits of Samsung

Lithium-based batteries have been powering our portable devices for 25 years.

But consumer demand for smaller, longer lasting devices is forcing manufacturers to push the technology, battery experts say, testing the limits of how much energy they can safely pack into smaller spaces.

“A battery is really a bomb that releases its energy in a controlled way,” says Qichao Hu, a former researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founder of SolidEnergy Systems, a battery startup.

“There are fundamental safety issues to all batteries, and as you get to higher energy density and faster charge, the barrier to explosion is less and less.”

On Tuesday, Samsung Electronics scrapped its flagship Note 7 smartphone and told customers return their devices after weeks of bruising reports of phones igniting and images of scorched handsets.

In early September, the world’s largest smartphone maker blamed “a very rare manufacturing process error” for the problems. It has said it is still investigating reports of fires in a second, supposedly safe, batch of phones.

Exactly what caused the problems will be the subject of detailed studies by regulators, the company and its suppliers.

Experts are baffled by what could be causing the overheating in the replacement phones, if not the batteries. Samsung says it would be “premature to speculate” on the outcome of its investigations.

“We are reviewing every step of our engineering, manufacturing and quality control processes,” Samsung said in an emailed response toReuters.

An official at the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, which is also investigating, said the fault in the replacement devices might not be the same as the problem in the original product.

Both Samsung SDI and Amperex Technology Ltd., which supply batteries to Samsung Electronics, declined to comment.

Samsung’s Note 7 crisis may be its biggest, but the problems with lithium-ion are not new.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued recalls for battery packs, snow blowers, hoverboards, flashlights and power recliners in the past year, all because of fires caused by lithium-ion batteries.

In 2013, Boeing was forced to ground its entire fleet of advanced 787 jetliners after some lithium-ion batteries caught fire. The fleet was allowed to resume flights after changes were made to the battery and charger, and to better contain battery fires.

“We remain confident in the comprehensive improvements made to the 787 battery system following this event, and in the overall performance of the battery system and the safety of the airplane,” Boeing said in 2014 after an investigation into one incident.

Light-weight, high energy

Lithium is the lightest of all metals, and can pack a lot of energy into a small volume — making it perfect for batteries.

The market has grown from a few hundred million cells in 2000 to 8 billion last year, according to Albemarle, a U.S. chemical company.

But for the same reason, lithium-ion batteries need safety mechanisms built in, adding to production costs.

And with prices falling 14 percent per year for the past 15 years, according to Albemarle, smaller scale players have scrimped on safety, says Lewis Larsen, CEO of Lattice Energy, a consultancy.

There is no evidence Samsung or its battery suppliers cut corners with the Note 7, and Tony Olson, CEO of consultancy D2 Worldwide, said the problem was not limited to cheaper products.

He ran tests on batteries in laptops a decade ago, highlighting the dangers of them catching fire. Some 9.6 million Sony Corp. laptop batteries were subsequently recalled.

But when Olsen repeated the tests on other laptop batteries seven years later he found that “very little had changed in battery safety design, despite being under tremendous scrutiny.”

Sony, HP Inc., Toshiba Corp. and Panasonic Corp. have all recalled laptop battery packs this year over fire hazards, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Panasonic, which supplied the batteries, said the problem was caused by manufacturing issues which it had now resolved.