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Telecommunications

After 30 years of service, France’s Minitel information service is shutting down for good. Launched in 1982 by the French state telephone company Poste, Téléphone et Télécommunications (PTT), which later became France Télécom, it was France’s answer to the World Wide Web before the Web was even created. However, despite remarkable initial success, it proved unable to compete with the modern internet and on June 30, 2012 it will be switched off. Read More
Thankfully, data transmission speeds have come a long way since the days of dial-up when users would have plenty of time to twiddle their thumbs as they waited for an image or MP3 to make its way to their hard drive. These days, broadband cable currently supports speeds of around 30 megabits per second, which is a hell of an improvement. Now researchers have outdone that by a factor of around 85,000 by using twisted beams of light to transmit data at up to 2.56 terabits per second. Read More
It’s probably safe to say that with some of our friends, we communicate with them almost exclusively via social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. While these networks are fine for sending typed messages and photos, however, there are times when the sound of someone’s voice is much more appropriate. Video is one alternative, although many people are uncomfortable appearing on camera. That’s why four graduates from the School of Informatics at Spain’s Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya created uWhisp – it’s a plug-in for use on existing social networks, that lets users send prerecorded voice messages. Read More
Skype announced today that Windows users of its popular voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service who do not possess Skype Credit or subscriptions will be subjected to silent visual advertisements dubbed “Conversation Ads” when making one-to-one audio calls. The move follows last year’s buyout of Skype by Microsoft for a reported US$8.5 billion. Read More
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE) Standards Association has announced the publication of the fourth revision to the 15 year-old 802.11 Wireless LAN Standard, upon which protocols like Wireless-N and 802.11ac are based. More commonly known as Wi-Fi, the latest revision brings together the base standard and the various technical updates and enhancements published in the last five years into a single document. Additions include much higher throughputs up to a maximum of 600Mbps, support for faster and more secure devices and networks, mesh networking and improved cellular network hand-off. Read More
With wireless home networks becoming increasingly crowded as more and more mobile devices appear under our roofs jostling for bandwidth, many will be pleased to see the upcoming 802.11ac WiFi standard stepping out from the planning meetings and laboratories and into the real world. Both Netgear and Belkin have announced plans to release dual-band routers supporting the new 5G WiFi standard that will boast speeds of up to 1,300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 450 Mbps on 2.4 GHz. Read More
It is possible to get addicted to almost anything. The most obvious candidates are things like cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, and food. But anything which causes some kind of obsessive behavior in even one individual has the potential to be addictive. That includes the Web and, in particular, social networking sites such as Facebook. New research from the University of Bergen (UiB) suggests Facebook addiction is not only real but measurable using the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale. Read More
Remember all those science fiction movies and television shows that depicted people in a future time, talking to life-sized holographic images? That time is now. A research team from Queen's University in Ontario has developed a video communications system that allows you to speak with an eerie three-dimensional representation of the person on the other end of the line. Read More

Smart phones are techno wonders, and they are also energy guzzlers, which is not a problem for people living in the developed world. However, their high energy requirements has stymied the adoption of mobile internet services in developing countries where mobile internet can be a real lifeline. In Africa, for example, few people can access the internet from a wired connection but 90 percent of the population lives in areas with mobile phone network coverage. There’s one problem though. Access to the power grid in Africa is limited. Read More

Japanese telecommunications giant NTT is developing a videoconferencing system that literally turns heads. In an attempt to more accurately give the feeling of a face-to-face conversation between more than two people, the MM-Space system features displays that physically mimic the head movements of the person being displayed on screen. Read More

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