ICYMI: Telecom tidbits from CES


Originally publsihed by RCR Wireless
Author: Kelly Hill

The Consumer Electronics Show is … well, both consumer and electronics-focused, and this year’s CES highlighted everything gaming to smart glasses for augmented/virtual reality to new advances in the connected car.

Some telecom-related news tends to get lost in the wave of shiny new gadgets, so here are a few of the lesser-reported stories:

-Sprint announced its first “Curiosity IoT powered by 5G” city and is taking the Magic Box in-home. Sprint is bringing the IoT to Greenville, South Carolina with a network build-out that it says “entails the installation of innovative Massive MIMO technology, dedicated IoT network technology and more across the city.”

The carrier also launched its Trebl with Magic Box, which it is calling the first “smart home small cell solution” — it offers LTE coverage and has integrated Alexa support for smart home devices, plus integrated audio speakers for playing music. Trebl was designed in collaboration with Harman Connected Services; no word yet on when it will be available.

-5G devices continue to move closer to availability, with D-Link launching a 5G NR home router that is expected to be available in the first half, and Sprint confirming that it will debut a Samsung 5G device this summer.

-AT&T announced that it has bolstered its LTE coverage as it has conducted its FirstNet build-out in the past year and added 50,000 square miles of coverage nationwide — an additional 1 million individuals covered, according to the carrier. Marachel Knight, SVP of wireless and access engineering, construction and operations at AT&T, said that “by the end of this year, we expect our network capacity to increase by 50% since the end of 2017.”

Also in the area of emergency response, Hyundai debuted a “walking car” concept that it framed as a potential future vehicle for disaster response.

-IO Gear launched a video/gaming wireless extender that utilizes WiGig at 60 GHz; the company said that the Ultra-Fast 60GHz Wireless 4K UltraHD Video Extender can send uncompressed 4K audio and video from an HDMI source up to 50 feet. Commercial products that leverage 60 GHz are still rare, and this one — which will run about $250 — is slated to be available this quarter.

-BlackBerry, which announced that it is scaling its BlackBerry Secure technology and licensing strategy to help address the IoT market, has found that 80% of consumers don’t trust their current internet-connected devices to protect their data and 58% would pay more to know that their data and privacy were protected by such products.

Also of note from last week: T-Mobile US doubled down on its anti-scam-call efforts with the launch of caller verification based on SHAKEN and STIR standards (for which it announced readiness in November of last year). The carrier said that Samsung Galaxy S9 users already have access to the solution through a software update, and that it’ll be available on more devices later this year. T-Mobile US said that through its various scam-call detection and blocking measures, it has flagged over 8.9 billion calls as “scam likely” for end users, and blocked more than a billion scam calls.

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