Newsletter Editorials

Stonewalling, Mapping, Google, and Fines

April 18, 2012By

After a long investigation, the FCC hit Google with a resoundingly soft penalty for stonewalling the FCC inquiry into its controversial street-mapping program. Google was picking up a payload of sensitive information from home wireless networks from 2007 through 2010. This included emails, passwords, and Internet usage history. The FCC declared that the data collection was technically legal because the information gathered was unencrypted. However, the FCC stated that, “for many months Google deliberately impeded and delayed the bureau’s investigation” and fined Google a paltry $25,000 for their behavior. read more

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Grand Setting for a Grand Summit

April 11, 2012By

Most of Munich is an ultra-modern German city, albeit one of the most expensive cities in Europe, where you can travel anywhere by tram, automobile, S-Bahn, rail or taxi. But why bother when you have the opportunity and thrill of walking through the old city center and have Bavarians greet you with "May God greet you" or "God bless­"? — what a way to say hello. That experience, which brings back fond memories — more on that in my main column — combined with the wonderful aromas from bakeries and early morning baristas hard at work, which are hard to pass by, made the short walk to the Residenz München seem all too short; and then you are there — greeted with the magnificence of the Munich Satellite Summit venue. read more

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Grüss Gott – Munich Satellite Summit

April 11, 2012By

There is a reason the Munich Satellite Summit is billed as a summit and not a symposium or conference. It’s a different atmosphere that invites group chats, informal get-togethers, and networking. One item of note that I came away with is that the Chinese are looking for help and partners for their PNT constellations, of which there appear to be three in the making. But asked point blank when they would finally release the full ICD specifications for receivers (a partial ICD has been released) the answer was the same as last year. They did not know when that might happen. It is hard to build receivers and support a specific program, much less three PNT constellations, when you don’t have the specifications. read more

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Companies Look for Alternatives to Google Maps, but Location Giant Chugs Along…

April 10, 2012By

The big news at the recent O'Reilly Where 2.0 and GPS-Wireless conferences, both located in the San Francisco Bay Area, may be continued industry fallout from Google’s decision to start charging higher volume users. Location-based services may have jumped the shark, as one Nokia executive said at GPS-Wireless, but such deals as Foursquare's partnership with American Express can only help grow consumer awareness and drive mobile purchases. Indoor positioning and connected vehicles continued to be a hot topic at both Where 2.0 and GPS-Wireless. Yet, at least one executive at GPS-Wireless said that "the year of LBS has come and gone — and nobody noticed it." read more

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Navigating the Moon

March 28, 2012By

The European Space Agency has issued an intriguing Intended Invitation To Tender, “Weak GNSS Signal Navigation on the Moon.” The study will investigate use of weak-signal GPS/GNSS — and of course ESA is interested primarily in the use of Galileo — for real-time position, navigation and timing information to various future lunar assets such as automated landers, rovers, Earth-Moon transportation vehicle, in-situ navigation, and so on. read more

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Automakers Move Ahead on Mobile Connectivity

March 21, 2012By

It wasn’t quite a call to arms, but Bill Ford, head of Ford Motor, called on the wireless community to work with car makers to avoid global gridlock and create a future of “urban mobility,” a network that will track vehicles and automatically instruct cars to change lanes, exit a road, or park. Vehicle connectivity was one of the major themes of the Mobile World Congress, held in February in Barcelona. For some of us, it brought up memories of the PATH automated highways project of the 1990s. You have likely seen photos of that prototype automated highway with platoons of driver-less vehicles riding on I-15 in southern California. The vision has changed, and we are headed towards autonomous, connected vehicles and away from the specialized, and prohibitively expensive, infrastructure that defined earlier efforts. read more

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