U.S. FCC chairman Ajit Pai took to Twitter today, outlining a plan to auction a portion of the valuable so-called "C band" frequencies for 5G use. There's one potential hiccup: parts of that C-band spectrum are currently used by some satellite service providers to deliver media to ~120 million American subscribers, but Pai believes that a portion of the frequencies can be auctioned and repurposed to satisfy American thirst for data, while still preserving a solid chunk for satellite programming. Read More
We humans have always loved looking up to the stars, but for a few decades, the night sky hasn't only been populated by natural phenomena. A plethora of satellites are orbiting our planet, and if you know just when to look up, you might even be able to see some flying over your head. Google graphics and computer vision engineer James Darpinian has developed a web app that helps you identify where to look to spot these objects by utilizing Street View and browser notifications as well as weather warnings. Read More
Satellite phones are typically bulky and expensive, since they require specialized hardware for sending communications into Earth orbit. However, it may be possible in the near future for regular smartphones to connect to telecommunications satellites, using technology demonstrated by Ubiquitilink Inc. Read More
Google Maps has had a satellite view available for many years on multiple platforms, but for some reason, it never made its way to the Android Auto app - that is, until now. A reader sent in a tip showcasing satellite view while navigating with his Android Auto-equipped head unit, and it looks exactly as you'd expect. Read More
Thuraya Telecommunications Company announced the world's first satellite smartphone, the Thuraya X5-Touch, at its partner conference in Dubai today, according to a press release. Thuraya is targeting the phone at "users who frequently move in and out of terrestrial coverage," like government and non-profit workers. Read More
Depending on where you're at in the world, you may have some holidays coming up that demand long drives and a lot of time watching a screen as Google Maps directs the way back to family. There's a new update out that might make your trip planning and navigation just a little better. Version 9.41 has a new option to always start up in satellite mode, adds links to articles about top-listed businesses, and polishes the look for adding stops along a route. There are also hints that it will show when a hotel is running a good deal. Read More
AMC, the American cable channel that's home to shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead, has more apps than you might think. There's AMC Extras, a bunch of DVD-style content to promote various shows, AMC Tablet, which is basically a companion app for said shows, specialized apps for half a dozen other shows, and even a Christmas movie app. Now they've launched one that's just for watching new episodes... which makes sense, considering that's what most people want to do with their content in the first place.
Episodes that are currently available to stream go in and out on a rolling basis, but the important ones (new episodes of currently-airing shows) appear a day or so after the episode has aired on cable television. Read More
A few years ago getting Internet access while on an airline flight seemed like magic. Now in the not-too-distant future, the connection in your plane might be faster than the one in your home. According to a press release issued by Virgin America, new technology from corporate partner ViaSat will improve its satellite Internet connection by a factor of five to ten times thanks to a next-generation satellite. The new technology offers speeds of up to 140 gigabits per second spread across the entire network, which should mean "8 to 10 times faster" speeds for individual users, enough for reliable music streaming and (maybe) some video. Read More
Communication companies are hooking up around us as we speak. Mobile carrier AT&T is buying satellite provider DirecTV. Cable distributor Charter is acquiring rivals Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Now T-Mobile is looking to merge with Dish Network, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The two sides apparently agree on how the combined company would look. T-Mobile CEO John Legere would serve as CEO, while Dish Chief Executive Charlie Ergen would be the chairman. But they haven't yet come to an agreement on how much money would exchange hands.
This merger draws obvious parallels with AT&T's acquisition. A DirecTV-enhanced AT&T and a combined T-Mobile/Dish would both provide cellular service, satellite TV, and Internet access through either satellite or mobile networks. Read More