Roaming on the Moon: Nokia and Vodafone Launching 4G Into Space

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri spoke this past Sunday about an “out of this world deal” with Vodafone at the Mobile World Congress. It wasn’t until the unveiling of the “Mission to the Moon” project that it was revealed Vodafone is partnering with Audi and now Nokia to bring 4G coverage to the moon.

 

The “Mission”

We don’t know much about the specifics of this “Mission to the Moon”. It will be a mission with many firsts though. We know that they plan on a 2019 launch using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. This will be the first privately funded lunar mission ever. We also know that the first place the rover will visit is the remnants of the Apollo 17 mission, the last time humans set foot on the moon.

With the announcement of Nokia as Vodafone and Audi’s technology partner, they have established that they will be creating a lunar 4G network. They will use this network to control a lunar rover, designed by Audi, that will continue to explore the moon’s surface and even provide live streaming back on Earth. This will be the first live streaming of HD video from the moon, that should really shut up those flat-earthers. The video will be broadcasted over the 1800 MHz band back to the base station in Berlin.

 

Audi lunar rover

 

The 4G network will be established by Vodafone using a revolutionary Nokia space-grade Ultra Compact Network. Not only will it be the first network on the moon but it will also be the lightest ever developed with the entire network weighing less than a kilogram, that’s approximately 2.2 pounds for us Americans. This network not only enables the rovers to communicate and stream information but it will also be the foundation for any future networks that we will use on lunar projects.

This mission is the perfect time for Nokia, Vodafone, and Audi to showcase the advances that have come in telecom, M2M communication, and space travel.

5G: The Future is Closer Than You Think

As 2017 was wrapping up the major players in the telecommunications industry were finalizing their plans for the first 5G standard. This is exciting for everyone, the expanded capabilities will allow for boundless growth in technology. 5G will allow for faster communication not only between our mobile devices but all machinery. This will allow scientists and engineers to push the boundaries of what we thought machines were capable of doing.

 

5G network globe.

 

What’s The Difference Between 5G and the Other Generations?

As many people know, the number before the G merely refers to the generation of technology being referred to. There are many ways to define the differences between each generation. Most people simply use transmission speed as an easy measure. However, one can also differentiate them by ways they are encoded and transmitted.

1G was the analog technology of 1980’s.

2G marked the time when radio waves began to be transmitted digitally.

We transferred to 3G when the speeds we were transmitting data on increased considerably. This is also the time when most modern smartphones were launched.

4G LTE was the most recent iteration and it further increased data speeds and allowed us to use the new smartphone technology to its fullest potential. Because of 4G, we were able to carry small computers that accessed an extremely fast network. 4G LTE will continue to see evolutions (LTE stands for Long Term Evolution) even after 5G is released.

5G will bring a few new improvements to the table. First and foremost, more speed. As we always expect and want our data will be even faster on the 5G networks. Secondly, it will have less lag time as it transmits data between devices. This is different from data speed in that it affects how machines talk to each other more than it affects upload and download speeds. Finally, it will allow for devices to connect to more devices at once. This more efficient machine to machine communication will allow your devices to pair with more devices such as smart TVs, laptops, tablets, and sensors.

When Can You Expect 5G?

AT&T and Verizon, with their more established infrastructure, believe they can begin to implement 5G by the end of this year. They won’t be offering any 5G smartphones until 2019, however, AT&T has described the device they will be launching later this year as a “puck”. This has lead many to speculate it will be a kind of hotspot device and enable users to connect to the 5G network. Verizon will be entering the 5G market not with phone’s first either. They plan on offering a 5G home internet package to compete with local internet providers. It has been speculated that it will work similar to hotspot Wi-Fi however because of the increased efficiency of 5G it will be much cheaper to offer than 4G hotspots currently are.

T-Mobile has said that they are taking a more conservative approach. They plan on offering limited 5G services starting in 2019 with a nationwide service launching in 2020.

Sprint has spoken the least about their 5G plans however they have said that they plan to launch a 5G service in 2019 similarly to T-Mobile.

Interestingly enough the Department of Defense actually called for the construction of a federal nationwide 5G network similar to how the highway system was implemented for defensive purposes. This was quickly denied by the FCC though as they stated they would prefer to keep the network privately owned.

 

No matter who your carrier is it is exciting to know that the next generation of mobile technology is just around the corner.

Project Fi: How Google is Disrupting the Mobile Market

Project Fi: Google’s Mobile Phone Service Revolutionized

Project Fi is Google’s new(ish) project designed to shake up the telecom market. While this is the first time Google has attempted to break into the cellular service industry they currently compete in phone manufacturing and fiber internet. This new idea combines three carriers; Sprint, T-Mobile, and US-Cellular, to provide comprehensive service that they wouldn’t be able to provide alone. The Project was invite only when it was launched in April of 2015 however as of March 2016 it was opened to the public, and by October 2016 they added their new Pixel phones to their list of usable devices.

 

Project Fi logo

 

Interested?

Does this service intrigue you? Because it intrigue’s us. Plans start at just $20 for unlimited calls and texts for a single person and data rates are just $10 per GB. Also when purchasing data they are very forgiving. If you use less data then you are refunded. If you use more than you originally paid for they just charge you $10 on your next bill. You also never pay for more than $60 for data unless you opt for speeds that aren’t slowed after that 6th GB.

Of course, you’re thinking that with a plan this cheap the coverage must be abysmal. But check for yourself on their interactive coverage map. Because they use three providers networks they are able to provide comprehensive 4G coverage throughout most of the continental United States.

By now you’re probably wondering what the catch is. For some, it won’t seem like anything but I know that many will rail against this one requirement. They only offer a small selection of phones that can be used, none of them being iPhones or Samsung products. This leaves a large amount of the market disenfranchised but many that are indifferent can capitalize on this new and exciting opportunity.

If you are interested in seeing if Project Fi would be a good option for your mobile carrier check out their Fi Fit quiz.

 

Benefits of Project Fi

Project Fi’s unique model has opened the door for cooperation among some of the smaller competitor’s against the giants of the industry, Verizon and AT&T. This helps out the average consumer. Their low price that many would associate with poor service is offset by the multiple providers covering each other’s weaknesses. This allows Google to provide the service for such a bargain because the infrastructure investment is lower. This revolutionary service could open the door for many more consumer-friendly service packages in an industry that seems to grow less consumer-friendly every day.

 

Using Project Fi

Project Fi while it provides comprehensive coverage in most metro areas. There will, of course, be the usual dead spots in buildings or near materials or equipment that interferes with radio waves. However, the largest obstacle is the lack of coverage outside of the city. The carriers that make up the providers for Project Fi do not have quite a large enough rural infrastructure to provide comprehensive 4G coverage. If you are still interested or are a current Project Fi user and struggle with poor signal a signal booster or amplifier could be the best way to fix the issues. They can help you connect to distant towers in rural areas or pull signals into your home or office.

Hotspots: How to Use Your Phone to Make Wi-Fi

How Hotspots Work

Hotspots are a unique innovation that creates Wi-Fi signal from your cell phone. Both technologies rely on radio waves so it’s a matter of simply changing them slightly to make them usable for Wi-Fi. These are a ton of reasons why this can be helpful, it allows you to connect to the internet while traveling and you can connect multiple devices. While this can be useful for some quick fixes not many people can rely on hotspots as a primary source of broadband.

 

 

Hotspots Explained

Most smartphones offer an option to use hotspots just by enabling a setting, but this is usually fairly limited. Most carriers that allow you to use this simple enabling feature will also throttle your data after a limit. Even on unlimited plans At&T and Sprint will throttle after around 22 – 23 GB of data and T-Mobile after 500 GB. This can be an issue as the average user consumes about 190 GB of data a month. So if you want to stream TV or videos you would be out of luck as these are the major data pits today.

If your phone doesn’t have a setting to enable a hotspot you can always purchase a device to get your hotspot enabled. But expect to pay quite a bit for them. Not only will you have to purchase the initial hardware but also for the data you’ll be using along with them. If you plan on heavily relying on your hotspot one helpful trick is to add your hotspot as a new line on your phone plan. That will usually net you the most data per dollar.

Comparing Hotspots

Not all hotspots are created equal. You have to watch out for a few key things when shopping around for the right one. We recommend looking for models that use the Qualcomm Snapdragon X12 or X16 modems. These are the top of the line and will make sure that you are getting the fastest internet. Another important feature to look for is 5GHz support, this technology is significantly faster than its 2.4Ghz predecessor. If you can’t get a model with these features you could end up having slower internet than some of the nicer new phones. You can also find models that have convenient LCD displays to help with setup and monitoring of the device.

Weak Hotspots and How to Fix Them

If you already have a hotpot and aren’t getting the speeds you want a cell phone signal booster is the best way to fix that. Like we talked about earlier the hotspot uses cell phone signal to create the Wi-Fi signal. So the Wi-Fi can only be as strong as the cell phone signal coming in. If you’re using a hotspot while traveling and need steady signal a vehicle signal booster is something to think about as well for when you simply have to be connected. If your home or office has both bad Wi-Fi and cell reception a signal booster could be a solution to both of those problems.