Internet News (December 2018)

Near the Edge of the Cloud

By 2025, it is believed that over 80 billion electronic devices including smartphones and watches, to sensors within cities and factories will be connected to the internet, with an estimated 180 trillion gigabytes of data being used within a year, according to a recent article in Forbes magazine.

Data that is currently generated, is processed and then saved into the Cloud, a facility that provides storage space using the internet. However, the Cloud is already showing signs of intractability due to congestion within networks. The future of the Cloud is undeniably under threat due to the amount of devices that will eventually be connected, and frustrated users will eventually observe slower connections and poor responses caused by a system unable to cope with the demands put upon it.

Smart phones, online computers…just about any form of device that relies on the internet – all be affected. A recent scenario raised concerns that one day autonomous vehicles in such a scenario would become less responsive, which could end in catastrophic life or death situations. To operate in real time using the Cloud, with delays of less that one millisecond, it is estimated that data will need to continue to be processed less than 93 miles from the user.

Edge computing may be able to offer a solution to future congested networks. By processing data geographically closer to devices, it will reduce delays. Being a disruptive technology, it is still unclear just how effective it will be, as this seemingly new technology is still very much in its infancy. The notion is to use a home-based router where smartphone data can be processed instead of using Cloud storage. The introduction of Edge computing has attracted many investment opportunities and interest from major companies including Cisco, Dell and Arm – companies with large global footprints.

To make Edge cost effective, the data will need to be pre-processed before it is sent to the Cloud. Pilot projects have demonstrated the need for Edge and the benefits that users will experience, in applications such as online gaming experiences, military and healthcare applications, and autonomous vehicle control.
OpenEdge and OpenFog are new consortiums that are developing values for the use of Edge. It is believed that both

Amazon and Microsoft Azure have developed software systems for the proposed technology; other large Cloud providers are set to follow suit. Currently the market for Edge applications and use is expected to reach between $6-$10 billion within the next 5 years.

The Cloud as we currently know it will still exist. However, its role will change once processing of the information from the Cloud has been completed by the Edge. The large storage and resources that are currently available will no longer be accessible, as the Edge will offer centralised real-time processing.

A home router would also provide a safer facility to protect user data. In 2017, Cloud data breaches affected billions of people across the globe. The Edge will provide a router based within the home and individuality, so mass breaches would be avoided, and if security breaches did occur, the hackers would not have access to billion’s of users personal data, thus evading the mass breaches of the past. In theory.

If users were to process their data within the home, they would not be leaving their “data footprint” outside the security of their own network. Therefore, that data is safer with the end user than it is currently on the Cloud.
Internet gateways, wifi areas and mobile base stations will still obtain the data footprint from public Edge devices. Even so, full testing is currently underway to ensure that things are in place to ensure protection is offered when accessing and processing data in these areas.

Internet users no doubt will have many questions, as the innovative changes that will be created by Edge technology’s wake are put in place. Although Edge will change the way the Cloud is used, it will provide a safer, quicker and easier way to process your data.

Trade cryptocurrency and chat with a single app

A new app has made keeping track of your digital money easy. “Channels” offers a secured messaging feature as well as a multi-currency wallet. The new app allows you to make transactions using your digital currency with reduced transaction fees. Separate wallets can also be created for the specific currencies of your choice.

Its messaging facility allows you to keep in touch with and stay in contact with your friends from your contact list, and like other messaging apps you can send pictures, videos, audio recordings and more. You can chat whilst completing transactions, without having to change screens or switching apps, meaning that you can combine – what some would call your “Crypto-world” – together.

The Channels app is free to download, and also offers the added attraction of no in-app adverts. It has the facility to enable you to make free calls using its own messenger app. Added security using end to end encryption means that all your messages, communications and transactions are (in theory at least) kept away from sources of interference. The app has been structured to make it a reliable and safe way of communicating while trading in crypto, without having the fear of losing data or experiencing server errors.

 

5G here we come

A wave of deals amongst telecom companies is due to start, with the announcement of the launch of Fifth Generation mobile services across Europe (5G). Telecoms companies are seeking to upgrade their networks without breaking the bank, and causing extra stress on their already strained budgets.

Europe has fallen behind in the 5G race. The United States and parts of Asia already rolling out 5G services, by offering wireless broadband in homes, as well as in workplaces.

Telecoms operators have started laying the latest fibre-optic cables to ensure that they keep up with demand, and are already looking to ensure that their networks are denser to maintain the super-fast data speeds and expectant provisions needed to support 5G services in the near future.

Telecoms bosses are concerned that capital investments are not being raised, so instead they are concentrating on the preparation of the portfolios for the sale of mobile towers, or partnering with specialists in infrastructure in exchange for levies.  These levies would be used to raise money for the telecoms companies, allowing time for 5G to generate new financial returns, enabling them to manage the large payments required that will enable them to attract new investors.

Tobias Martinez Gimeno, the CEO of Cellnex based in Spain remarked that in terms of making deals, “5G may be the trigger”. Cellnex owns portfolios based in France, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands, and is eager to make new investments across Europe including Germany.

Market Leader, Deutsche Telekom is selling off Dutch and Austrian assets in order to fund its new towers unit,currently running 28,000 base stations. Deutsche’s CEO Tim Hoettges has announced that he would consider selling these at the right price. Vodafone could also see their assets increase if they were to encourage rival operators to utilise their 58,000 masts, or sell part of their business to another operator.

Investors will see tower operators offering increasingly tempting proposals in the marketplace, due to their financial returns following the successful introduction of the new technology. High financial influences are supported making future deals of towers attractive to telecoms companies, which ensure financial gains on assets that are currently struggling to raise revenue amongst Europe’s more mature markets.

Crown Castle, a real estate investment trust based in the US could be potential new opponents in the European towers market. Crown Castle currently boasts a market value of $46 billion, worth substantially more than Orange, which is now France’s largest telecoms company. Crown Castle have shown much interest in the Western European markets, and are keen to gain exposure within emerging markets, including towers and ‘Smallcells’ – wireless transmitters attached to fibre-optic cables.

In France, Orange expects capital expenditure to reach a 7.4 billion euro peak in 2018 and have agreed with the French Government to improve their current networks under the “favourable terms” which the 5G range was assigned. Telecoms giants will continue to investigate the sharing of infrastructure that will help limit 5G investments. To aid German investments, Telefonica Deutschland has successfully clinched a deal that will see 5,000 of its base stations linked to Deutsche Telekom’s fibre-optic network, thus enabling the German market No.3 to now offer 5G wireless broadband.

In the US, Verizon has recently launched 5G broadband into four cities stateside last month. The new Verizon technology can link the home with a short-range wireless link, and appears to be more cost effective as it uses less underground fibre.

Telefonica’s CEO Markus Haas, said, after following the Verizon pilot scheme has proved that the technology is feasible following their own pilot project in Hamburg, where the results have been very encouraging. When questioned if he plans to raise investments to recoup Telefonica’s 5G network investments, Haas replied that at this time, the company were in a “comfortable” position, and that these investments would stabilise in the future.

Tag, you’re IoT

Smart devices that can operate without the use of internal batteries or the need to recharge are closer to reality than we originally thought. Researchers at the University of Waterloo have been working hard on designing and developing smart devices that do not rely on the use of batteries or need a charging facility.

These devices feature an IP address to connect to the Internet of Things (IoT). If a device canbe manufactured without a battery, its maintenance costs are reduced. Such devices can then be positioned in areas off the main grid. The IoT utilises many devices equipped with sensors that detect the environment in which they are placed, measuring information such as room temperature, light levels, sound and movement. The largest challenge now in the Internet of Things is to make devices more sustainable and less dependent on batteries.

Professors from Waterloo’s Cheriton School of Computer Science have established a unique way that enables these new devices to piggy back off of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, using small chips that enable devices to sense the environment in which they were set. Omid Abari, Ju Wang and Srinivasan Keshav have been keen to share their results of their research. Wang, described their work as “easy to do”.

“First, you remove the plastic cover from the RFID tag, then cut out a small section of the tag’s antenna with scissors, then attach a sensor across the cut bits of the antenna to complete the circuit.”
RFID tags can provide identification and locations. The research team discovered that by cutting the antenna and by placing a sensor device upon it, the tag then obtains the ability to sense the surrounding environment.

The researchers were able to provide the RFID tag literally with a set of ‘eyes’, by positioning a phototransistor in place, a small sensor that can respond to various levels of light.

Once the phototransistor has been exposed to light, the characteristics of the RFID antenna changed, which then changed the signal received by the reader. The team then developed a new process on the reader that allowed the unit to sense the levels of light. The response to touch was described at the simplest addition, this involved adding a switch to a RFID tag that acts as a keyboard.

“We see this as a good example of a complete software-hardware system for IoT devices,” Abari said. “We hacked simple hardware — we cut RFID tags and placed a sensor on them. Then we designed new algorithms and combined the software and hardware to enable new applications and capabilities.

“Our main contribution is showing how simple it is to hack an RFID tag to create an IoT device. It’s so easy a novice could do it.”

 

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Internet News – November 2018

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