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Cellular phones have revolutionized the way we communicate. The ability to be reached anywhere was a tool that the entire world seems to have an everlasting hunger for. But when traveling, or moving for that matter, the convenience of a cell phone gets a lot more complicated. Network incompatibility, changing phone numbers and expensive roaming fees plague the mobile communications field and make calling from a cell phone abroad a complicated and expensive matter. Cubic Telecom hopes to change that with its introduction of its global mobile network.

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Cubic Telecom used existing infrastructure to support its global network. Using “dual-mode” handsets—phones that can switch between GSM and WiFi connections—Cubic Telecom uses a combination of both networks depending on what is less expensive in the area you happen to be in. When you are in a WiFi zone, you have access to free or penny-per-minute local and international calling, depending on the hotspot. All international rates are a fraction of the roaming cost of any major cellular company. Cubic Telecom also offers a SIM card-only option, which can be used in any unlocked phone, but loses the ability to make WiFi calls.

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Another added bonus: when traveling abroad, a customer then has the option to order up to 50 free international phone numbers, all of which can function simultaneously. For example, if John Smith travels to Paris to see his relatives, he would request a Paris phone number. If any of his Parisian relatives want to call him, they would use his Paris phone number and it would be a local call. However, if his family in Canada wants to call him, they can use his Canadian phone number and it would be a local call for them as well. As for John, the Cubic Telecom customer, he can speak to his relatives all he wants, from 214 countries, and be guaranteed rates 50%-90% than what the “big carriers” are charging.

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Global mobile networks offer huge benefits for any company that engages in any form of international business. Not only does it simplify overseas calling by never making the caller switch networks or phone numbers, it allows you to do it at a fraction of the cost.

It is also very friendly to customers and clients, as it allows the organization to establish “local” phone numbers in any country it does business with, without having to set up expensive land line and call forwarding systems. This allows all international clients to contact the organization at their local calling rate.

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While Cubic Telecom’s service may eventually revolutionize international telephony, it still has a number of faults that must be solved before mass adoption will occur.

Firstly, since the service is brand new, its supporting services are not yet as developed as its competitors. “Several pieces of its system have yet to be slipped into place,” says New York Times’ technology critic David Pogue, “including tech support, customer service, documentation, Internet data plans and domestic calling rates.” These services, especially those related to customer support, are often as important to organizations as the phone service itself and may deter many companies from adopting until they are offered. (“But what the heck,” ads Pogue, “here’s a $140 phone, or a $40 SIM card, that can save you thousands of dollars a year.”)

Another imperfection is the price of domestic calling. As mentioned above, domestic calling is one aspect of the service that is yet to be finalized, with current estimates at a pricey 18 cents per minute. If this becomes the final price of domestic calling, Cube Telecom will lose the ability to be used as an organization’s full time phone and instead be used for international calls and travel use only.

Lastly, since there are a lot of complex connections behind every phone call on the global mobile network, calls are not instantaneous like on standard phones. Connection times can take up to 25 seconds longer per call, translating into a substantial inefficiency for any organization that performs a high volume of daily calls.

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Cubic Telecom’s global mobile network is a revolutionary technology, allowing both individuals and businesses to make international and overseas phone calls at a fraction of the price of the larger carriers. However, since GMNs are such a new technology, many challenges still need to be overcome. Therefore, while the Cubic Telecom GMN is not a panacea of international communication, it is unquestionably a catalyst to the next generation of low-cost international calling.

REFERENCES:

Farber, Dan. ” Cubic Telecom launches global phone.” ZDNet Tech 17
Sep. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=6279>.

“Cubic Telecom.” CruchBase 20 Sep. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at:<http://www.crunchbase.com/company/cubictelecom>.

Miller, Matthew. ” Cubic Telecom announces a truly world phone.”
Howstuffworks 19 Sep. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://blogs.zdnet.com/mobile-gadgeteer/?p=595>.

Pogue, David. “A Cellphone Without Borders.” The New York Times 27
Sep. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/27/technology/circuits/27pogue.html?pagewanted=1&_r=2>.

Cubic Telecom. Cubic Telecom. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.cubictelecom.com/>.


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With the Internet becoming an increasingly significant part of our lives, the dream of a WiFi-enabled city is becoming closer and closer to reality. One of the hindrances to that dream, however, is the high router requirement; for wireless internet to blanket a city, thousands of wireless routers must be strategically placed to ensure constant coverage. Since this is a process that can become quite complicated and costly, researchers at UCLA began looking for an existing technology to which routers could be attached or involved. Since Los Angeles is a city already plagued with traffic problems, the UCLA Vehicular Network Lab was established to study the possibility of wirelessly connected automobiles.

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UCLA’s VANET research team logo.

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The Vehicular Ad-Hoc Network, or VANET, is a technology that uses moves cars as nodes in a network to create a mobile network. VANET turns every participating car into a wireless router or node, allowing cars approximately 100 to 300 metres of each other to connect and, in turn, create a network with a wide range. As cars fall out of the signal range and drop out of the network, other cars can join in, connecting vehicles to one another so that a mobile Internet is created. It is estimated that the first systems that will integrate this technology are police and fire vehicles to communicate with each other for safety purposes.

Some related video links (could not be embedded due to copyright reasons):

http://www.vehicularlab.org/video/BigBro.wmv
An emulation of a terrorist detection system using VANET. Police cars, provided with threat-detection sensors (e.g. for threats such as chemicals, radiation, etc.) can communicate and collaborate to neutralize the situation.

http://www.vehicularlab.org/video/Mobility_Comparison.mov
A computer simulation of communication protocols and algorithms based very accurate vehicular traffic mobility traces. From the UCLA labs so it is quite technical.

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VANET offers countless benefits to organizations of any size. Automobile high speed Internet access would transform the vehicle’s on-board computer from a nifty gadget to an essential productivity tool, making virtually any web technology available in the car. While such a network does pose certain safety concerns (for example, one cannot safely type an email while driving), this does not limit VANET’s potential as a productivity tool. It allows for “dead time”—time that is being wasted while waiting for something—to be transformed into “live time”—time that is being used to accomplish tasks. A commuter can turn a traffic jam into a productive work time by having his email downloaded and read to him by the on-board computer, or if traffic slows to a halt, read it himself. While waiting in the car to pick up a friend or relative, one can surf the Internet. Even GPS systems can benefit, as they can integrated with traffic reports to provide the fastest route to work. Lastly, it would allow for free, VoIP services such as GoogleTalk or Skype between employees, lowering telecommunications costs.

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While the Internet can be a useful productivity tool, it can also prove to be quite distracting, resulting in safety and actually time-wasting concerns. Like cellular phones, the Internet can be tempting and can distract users from the road. Checking emails, surfing the web or even watching YouTube videos can engross drivers and lead to accidents.

Similarly, while drivers may have the opportunity to do work while on the road, they also may use this opportunity to engage in other leisurely tasks, such as VoIP with family, watch news highlights or listen to podcasts.
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While still years away, VANET is a technology that could significantly increase productivity during times that are usually unproductive. However, to achieve this, VANET users must first overcome the leisurely temptations and distractions that the Internet provides.

REFERENCES:

Piquepaille, Roland. “Turning Cars into Wireless Network Nodes.” ZDNet
Tech 3 Jun. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://blogs.zdnet.com/emergingtech/?p=593>.

Vehicular Network Lab @ UCLA – Implementing the First Campus
Vehicular Testbed. Vehicular Lab. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.vehicularlab.org/>.

McCloskey, Paul. “UC Profs as Car Traffic as Basis of Mobile Internet.”
Campus Technology 4 Jun. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.campustechnology.com/article.aspx?aid=48374>

“The Mobile Internet: Your Car Could Save a Life.” medGadget 29 May
2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.medgadget.com/archives/2007/05/the_mobile_internet_cars_firetrucks_ambulances_oh_my.html>.


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Today, portable technology is a part of every day life. Having your stereo, telephone or computer tied to a wall is a thing of the past. But from portability emerges another challenge: energy. Almost all portable devices are battery powered, meaning that eventually, they all must be recharged–tying the user back to the wall he was trying to avoid.

Now imagine that instead of plugging in your cell phone, laptop or mp3 player to recharge it, it could receive its power wirelessly–quite literally, “out of thin air”. Sound like science fiction? It’s much closer to reality than you might think.

 

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Wireless electricity could make this phenomenon a reality.

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Wireless energy transfer (WET) is the process where electrical energy is transmitted from a power source to an electrical load, without interconnecting wires. There are two main methods of wireless electricity transmission, mutual induction and evanescent wave coupling.

Mutual induction is the production of voltage across a conductor situated in a changing magnetic field or a conductor moving through a stationary magnetic field. This allows for the wireless transmission of electricity over a very close proximity and is already in use in items such as electric toothbrushes and convection ovens.

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The “Splashpad”, a brand of wireless charging pads based on mutual induction technology. 

This technology has currently expanded and is being marketed by a number of companies who have created “charging pads”—areas on which electronic devices can simply be placed and receive a charge. However, while this is effective for powering devices such as cell phones or laptops, this method of wireless electricity requires too close a proximity for any sort of medium- to long-range power transmission. Another means of wireless energy transfer, Evanescent Wave Coupling, hopes to change that.

Evanescent Wave Coupling (EWC), or non-radiative energy transfer, introduces a concept called “resonance” to the wireless energy equation. Similar to mutual induction, wherein electricity traveling along an electromagnetic wave moves between coils on the same frequency, EWC functions on the concept that if you make both coils resonate at the same frequency, electricity can be passed between them at farther distances and without health dangers. According to this theory, one can even send electricity to multiple devices at once, as long as they all share the same resonance frequency. While this technology is yet to come to market, in 2007, researchers at MIT published a detailed report describing a working prototype they had built which powered a light bulb from two metres away.

 

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A depiction of how Evanescent Wave Coupling would work.

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The potential of wireless energy transfer for organizations is limitless. Firstly, mutual induction would allow for a significant decluttering of office space and reduction of e-waste by eliminating the need for power cords. With this technlogy, all desks could be equipped with “power-pads”, where devices could sit and receive electricity without the use of wires.

Moreover, as EWC technology advances, it could provide an even greater convenience—the removal of all power lines throughout buildings. With one or two EWC transmitters, companies could power any electronic device from anywhere in the office. For example, one could add extra lighting to an office without having to hire an electrician, as the light bulb would receive its electricity wirelessly.

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The main downside of wireless energy transfer for organizations is the need for standardization and adaptation. If WET were to be implemented, any pre-WET technology would have to be adapted or risk becoming obsolete. For mutual induction pads, which are already in use in some organizations, a device must either be pre-built with wireless charging capabilities or have an adapter attached to be able to be charged wirelessly (EWC would require a similar adaptation process). Retrofitting old equipment or purchasing new equipment could become a very expensive endeavor, even for such a high level of convenience. Any modern organization, which would have many computers and peripheral devices, may be hesitant to adapt to a technology with such a heavy price tag.

Another downside would be the possibility of “energy theft”. Since electricity transferred using EWC technology relies only on two or more devices having the same frequency resonation, and since EWC technology can power many devices at a time, as soon as the resonance frequency is identified, an individual in close enough proximity (a neighbour, for example) could steal another’s electricity without leaving his home.

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Overall, wireless electricity seems like a novel concept that is already demonstrating some organization application. While it faces a number of difficult challenges before it reaches large-scale adoption, it offers a convenience great enough to motivate many people to make the change.

Sources:

Biever, Celeste. “‘Evanescent coupling’ could power gadgets
wirelessly.” New Scientist Tech 15 Nov. 2006. 29 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn10575-evanescent-coupling-could-power-gadgets-wirelessly.html>.

“Goodbye wires… MIT experimentally demonstrates wireless power
transfer.” PHYSORG.com 7 June 2007. 29 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://http://www.physorg.com/news100445957.html>.

Wilson, Tracy V. “How Wireless Power Works.” Howstuffworks 29
Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/wireless-power1.htm>.

Murph, Darren. “Powercast looking to bring wireless power to reality.”
Engadget 30 Mar. 2007. 30 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.engadget.com/2007/03/30/powercast-looking-to-bring-wireless-power-to-reality/>.

Castelvecchi, Davide. “Wireless energy could power consumer, industrial
electronics.” Massachusetts Institute of Technology: News Office 14 Nov. 2006. 29 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2006/wireless.html>.

Johnson, R. C. “Practical apps in works for wireless energy transfer.”
EETimes.com 22 Jan. 2007. 29 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=196901215>.

Yomogita, Hiroki. “[CEATEC Preview] Murata, Seiko Epson to Jointly
Develop Non-contact Quick Charger.” TechOn! 28 Sep. 2007. 29 Sep. 2007
Available at: <http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20070928/139876/>.