Microsoft purchases Nokia’s Devices and Services division, moves to rearrange executive lineups

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Date: Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013, 06:53
Category: News, wireless

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Because it’s fun to buy multi-billion dollar companies.

Per The Mac Observer, Microsoft is buying Nokia’s cell phone business for about US$5 billion and tossing in another US$2.2 billion to license the company’s patents. The deal throws together two big time companies that are struggling to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung, brings Nokia CEO Stephen Elop — a former Microsoft executive — back into the fold, and shows Microsoft is serious about playing in the smartphone game. All this as current Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has announced he will step down within 12 months, although now it’s looking like that may come much sooner than he thought.

As part of the €5.44 billion (about US$7.2 billion) deal, Mr. Elop will step down as Nokia’s CEO and take on the roll of Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Devices and Services. Other Nokia executives joining Microsoft include Chris Weber, Jo Harlow, Timo Toikkanen, and Juha Putkiranta.

Microsoft has had limited success in the smartphone market taking on Apple’s iPhone and Google Android-based devices from Samsung and other companies. Nokia threw its weight behind Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform about two years ago, and has since been able to climb above BlackBerry’s marketshare to become a very distant third to iOS and Android-based smartphones.

With Nokia’s Windows-based Lumia smartphone now in Microsoft’s hands, it’s a safe bet that we’ll see a strong push to boost sales. Exactly how Microsoft can go about convincing consumers to start buying the smartphone, however, maybe something of a trick since shoppers haven’t been flocking to the device in droves. So far, consumers are still far more interested in buying iPhones and Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones.

Whether or not Microsoft can really be successful at its slow-and-steady game this time isn’t, however, a sure thing. Apple and Android smartphone makers hold nearly all of the market share today and aren’t showing any signs of loosening their grips.

Apple is expected to unveil new iPhone models on September 10, and Samsung, HTC and Motorola are churning out new Android-based smartphones as fast as they can. Microsoft has maybe a year ahead of it during during which it will integrate Nokia into its business, plus it’s on the hunt for a new CEO who will need time to settle into the job.

Mr. Ballmer said he plans to step down within 12 months, implying that it may be that long before his replacement is found. Finding a new CEO could take that long, although Microsoft is already on the hunt, and it’s very possible the company just bought their new boss and picked up their own smartphone business as a side bonus.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.4

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Date: Wednesday, August 14th, 2013, 08:47
Category: News, Software, wireless

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This might help out.

Per The Mac Observer, Apple released AirPort Base Station Firmware Update 7.6.4 on Tuesday, a maintenance release for the company’s line of Wi-Fi routers that squashes three bugs. One affects Apple’s Time Capsule models, another deals with IPv6 issues, and a third fixes iOS device connectivity.

This update is available for all Apple 802.11n Wi-Fi base stations including AirPort Express, AirPort Extreme, and AirPort Time Capsule. It contains fixes that:
- Resolve an issue that may cause AirPort Time Capsule to report that the backup disk is in use.

- Resolve an issue that may cause an IPv6 Tunnel error.

- Resolve an issue that may intermittently cause a loss in Wi-Fi connectivity with iOS devices.

Note: This firmware update is for all 802.11n AirPort base stations.

Users can find the update in AirPort Utility on their Macs. The update may show up immediately in the form of a dialog box. If not, you can click Edit within AirPort Utility and look for the Update button.

If you’ve tried the update and have any feedback to offer, please let us know in the comments.

Google to begin offering free Wi-Fi Internet access at all 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations in August

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Date: Wednesday, July 31st, 2013, 07:06
Category: News, wireless

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You may or may not have mixed feelings about Google, but hey, free Wi-Fi access at all Starbucks locations across the U.S.

Per 9to5Google, Google has announced that it will soon be supplying WiFi to all Starbucks locations in the United States as a means of advertising its Google Play music service. The offer also includes its new gigabit Google Fiber internet service where available.

Up until now, AT&T provided free Wi-fi access to Starbucks customers in the U.S. (and T-Mobile before that), but it appears that will no longer be the case following the roll out of Google’s networks in the coming weeks.

Google plans to start rolling out its new Starbucks networks next month and hopes to have all 7,000 US locations up and running on its networks within 18 months. Google noted, “You’ll know your new network is ready to go when you can log in to the “Google Starbucks” SSID.”

Earlier this month Google paid US$600,000 to provide 31 San Francisco parks and outdoor spaces with free Wi-Fi for two years, and the company continues to expand its Google Fiber service that was originally launched in Kansas.

If you see a Google connection in your local Starbucks in the coming weeks, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

Sprint announces NYC rollout, will activate LTE network on July 30th

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Date: Wednesday, July 24th, 2013, 12:40
Category: iPhone, News, wireless

The good, speedy Sprint stuff is coming to New York City.

Per The Unofficial Apple Weblog, Sprint has begun rolling out LTE service for parts of New York City, including the Bronx and Brooklyn. Sprint says it will flip the switch for those areas on July 30.

Sprint has been way behind AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile in rolling out high speed LTE services. There is currently some coverage in Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island, although there has been no official start date announced.

New York City is the most populated city in America, and implementing new cell service is difficult due to interference from tall buildings and finding locations for hardware. Not to mention the number of users fighting for bandwidth on those towers. In the last 6 months, Sprint has added 12 new towers in the New York City area, and 906 data speed upgrades.

Sprint says it has 110 4G markets, and New York City will make 111. Sprint is also working on cell service in all 277 subway stations, beginning with 36 stations it hopes to have up and running in early 2014. AT&T and T-Mobile already offer cellular connections in select underground locations. Verizon and Sprint are signed up with Transit Wireless for the underground connectivity.

Sprint was the 3rd U.S. carrier to offer the iPhone, signing on with Apple in October of 2011.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases AirPort Utility 6.3.1 update

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Date: Thursday, July 11th, 2013, 14:07
Category: News, Software, wireless

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Late Thursday, Apple released AirPort Utility 6.3.1, a 21 megabyte download which offers the following fixes to the AirPort Utility software:

- Fixed an issue that caused some AirPort Base Stations not to be recognized by device apps.

The update requires an Intel-based Mac running Mac OS X 10.7.5 or later to install and run. The AirPort Utility update can be located, snagged and installed via Mac OS X’s Software Update feature or via the update feature in Airport Utility itself.

AT&T expands 4G LTE coverage to 35 additional U.S. cities

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Date: Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013, 06:45
Category: iPad, iPhone, News, wireless

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If you’ve been hankering for AT&T to expand its 4G LTE network to additional markets, your wait is over.

Per AppleInsider, wireless carrier AT&T announced that it was bringing its 4G LTE service online in a range of new places across the U.S. The latest rollout is a continuation of AT&T’s bid to expand 4G LTE coverage to 79 new markets through this summer.

AT&T’s 4G LTE network provides data speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G. In recent tests, PC World found AT&T’s network, which covers 288 million people across the United States, to be the fastest among all providers in terms of download speeds.

The markets now able to access 4G LTE connections are as follows:
- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

- Victoria, Texas

- Palatka, Fla.

- Grand Junction, Colo.

- Morgan City, La.

- Valdosta, Ga.

- Pine Bluff, Ark.

- Yakima, Wash.

- Bremerton, Wash.

- Moses Lake, Wash.

- Silverthorne, Colo.

- Homosassa Springs, Fla.

- Chico, Calif.

- Cape Girardeau, Mo.

- Sherman-Denison, Texas

- Corinth, Miss.

- Grenada, Miss.

- Batavia, N.Y.

- Milledgeville , Ga.

- New Ulm, Minn.

- Beckley, W.V.

- Oak Hill, W.V.

- Midland, Texas

- Odessa, Texas

- Lawton, Okla.

- Cape Cod, Mass.

- Searcy, Ark.

- Dunn, N.C.

- Dillon, S.C.

- St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

- Lafayette, La.

- Atlantic City, N.J.

- Meridian, Miss.

- Greenwood, Miss.

- New Iberia, La.

If you’ve seen the updated 4G LTE network in your neck of the woods, let us know how it performed for you in the comments.

Apple working on 802.11ac bug fix for mid-2013 MacBook Air users, sends out limited invitation to test update

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Date: Monday, July 1st, 2013, 06:16
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

If you’re having trouble with the Wi-Fi on your new mid-2013 MacBook Air, a fix may be on the way.

Per AppleInsider, in a likely response to reports of 802.11ac Wi-Fi issues with its latest MacBook Air refresh, Apple late Friday began sending out invitations to select users, offering inclusion in the AppleSeed Program to test an upcoming Wi-Fi centric software update for the notebook.

Sources who received the email said that Apple will provide selected customers with a pre-release version of the “MacBook Air WiFi Update 1.0″ to install and use on their new machines, asking that they give feedback on any bugs found during the testing process.

While not explicitly stated in the AppleSeed invite, it is thought that the update relates to recent Wi-Fi connectivity issues some customers have experienced with Apple’s implementation of the fairly new 802.11ac wireless standard.

The recently-released 11- and 13-inch MacBook Airs are the first Macs to implement the fast wireless protocol which, when combined with the new AirPort Extreme or AirPort Time Capsule, can reach theoretical speeds of up to 1300Mbps.

Although the technology has promise, a growing number of owners have complained of throughput limitations related to 11ac, with some reports speculating the wireless stack in OS X is at least partially to blame.

A thread on Apple’s Support Communities webpage appears to confirm the AppleSeed invitations, but offers little information on the software. Those who have already agreed to Apple’s terms said the company has yet to activate the invitation codes or send out the software.

In December 2012, Apple released a similar Wi-Fi compatibility update for Mac two months following the debut of the MacBook Pro with Retina display. At the time, owners of the then-new machine complained of problems recognizing 802.11n networks in the 5GHz band.

If you’ve received the notice or have experienced any Wi-Fi issues with a mid-2013 MacBook Air, please let us know in the comments.

Study finds mid-2013 MacBook Air’s 802.11ac Wi-Fi speeds throttled by bug in OS X

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Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 07:51
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

Even in the event that the Wi-Fi connectivity issues on the mid-2013 MacBook Air notebooks are hardware-based, the underlying operating system software is apparently throttling potential data speeds on the new networking protocol.

Per AnandTech and CNET, a series of tests by AnandTech confirms that much of the Wi-Fi speed throttling is software-based. The new MacBook Air was announced by Apple at the recent Worldwide Developers Conference, and in addition to extended battery life, the new systems include support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi networking, which supports up to three times faster data rates in comparison with 802.11n.

In testing, AnandTech noticed that the link speeds of the systems are very high, at an average of about 533Mbps, but when transferring files over standard networking protocols, the speed drops to about 169Mbps at its maximum. This is over three times less than the expected speeds.

In investigating the issue, AnandTech discovered that an apparent bug in OS X limits the TCP window size (the maximum data that can be sent at a time) to a maximum of 64KB, which is far less than the 256KB needed to meet the speed capabilities of the 802.11ac connection.

As a result of this finding, AnandTech shows that in its current state, while the 2013 MacBook Air will still give fast file transfers, these will be limited to about 21MBps, instead of the more than 50MBps expected. Luckily, this limitation being in software means the fix should be easy, and it may be only a matter of a quick update for these systems to realize their full potential.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple looking into mid-2013 MacBook Air Wi-Fi issues, “capturing” units for study

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Date: Tuesday, June 25th, 2013, 07:41
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

This might be why your friends, the ones who wait a month or two after a brand new product hits the market, could be right…

Per 9to5Mac, over the past few days, a notable amount of users have complained about Wi-Fi issues plaguing the new 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models released during the week of WWDC. Besides less-battery-intensive chipsets, the marquee feature of the new MacBook Air revolves around faster Wi-Fi connectivity thanks to new 802.11ac cards. As with any new product, bugs are plausible. It’s also been noted that new reports claim that the MacBook Air WiFi issues are due to networking issues in Apple’s OS X software.

The following facts are currently in place:

In the United States, Apple Geniuses and Advisors should capture MacBook Air (13-inch, Mid 2013) and MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013) computers with any Wi-Fi issues.

According to a source at Apple, the company is working to independently identify what exactly is causing the new Wi-Fi-related problems. According to the source, AppleCare and Apple Store Genius Bar employees have been instructed to “capture” affected MacBook Air units. These units will then be sent back to Apple for further testing so a solution could hopefully be achieved. While Apple is asking AppleCare and Genius Bar staff to “capture” units facing problems, that does not mean Apple is confirming the new MacBook Air is flawed. This points to Apple pushing to determine why at least some units are seeing Wi-Fi problems.

There have also been reports of at least a couple of customers facing MacBook Air WiFi issues who have successfully swapped out their notebooks for new ones. One of these people has said that AppleCare provided them with a complementary USB-to-Ethernet adapter so the new MacBook Air could connect to the internet without Wi-Fi. Apple also informed these people that their original laptops have been “captured”.

If you’ve picked up Apple’s latest MacBook Air notebook and have any feedback to provide about its 802.11ac Wi-Fi performance, please let us know in the comments.

Growing number of users cite Wi-Fi connectivity issues with 802.11ac-equipped MacBook Air notebooks

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Date: Friday, June 21st, 2013, 05:15
Category: MacBook Air, News, Software, wireless

To be fair, this is what they invented firmware updates for.

Per Gizmodo, some early adopters of Apple’s latest MacBook Air models have found their new thin-and-light notebook will unexpectedly and repeatedly drop its wireless connection.

A growing discussion thread on the Apple Support Communities website details the connectivity problems being experienced by numerous users. The problems appear to apply to both the 11- and 13-inch varieties of the recently updated notebook lineup.

In addition, an anonymous source from an Apple retail store in London said that their store has had complaints about wireless connectivity for the new MacBook Airs that are “well above average.”

In the thread, users say they’re experiencing the problems across a range of routers, including Apple’s own AirPort accessories. Users say they can initially connect to a Wi-Fi network, but that connection will drop after a short period of use.

At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be an available solution that addresses the problems seen by all users, though some have had success with various routers or even different placement of the MacBook Air.

The updated MacBook Air lineup launched last week at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. In addition to faster 802.11ac connectivity, the notebooks also feature Intel’s latest Haswell processors, helping to enable battery life as great as 12 hours.

The new MacBook Airs are also priced US$100 less than their predecessors, with the new low-end US$999 11-inch model packing 128 gigabytes of flash storage.

If you’ve picked up the new MacBook Air and noticed any issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, please let us know in the comments.