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Chill out about net neutrality, says FCC head, because mobile phones are great
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 08:47

Mobile World Congress The head of America's telecom watchdog the FCC, Ajit Pai, didn't mention net neutrality by name once during his keynote at the Mobile World Congress in San Francisco.

Which is pretty remarkable given that it is pretty much the only issue that people outside the telecom policy bubble care about.

In fact, if you didn't know that the FCC has called its effort to unravel its own rules about internet access "restoring internet freedom," you could well have sat through the keynote and never known that Pai holds in his hands the future path of the internet

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123-Reg customers outraged at automatic .UK domain registration
Thursday, 14 September 2017 22:26

Customers of 123-Reg are experiencing a familiar feeling of annoyance, this time over a decision to automatically register them for .UK domains, which they will then have to pay for after two years.

In a letter sent to customers, seen by The Register , the company said the domains will be available to manage from November 2017. "These domains are absolutely free of charge for 2 years," it said.

The .uk domain was launched by Nominet in 2014, but as one 123-Reg customer noted, it hasn’t performed well. "Very few in the industry other than Nominet and registrars wanted it,"

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Chirpy, chirpy, cheap, cheap: Printable IoT radios for 10 cents each
Thursday, 14 September 2017 17:20

One of the favoured low-power radio techniques in Internet of Things research is “backscatter communications”: the transmitter sends a signal to a Thing, and the Thing modulates its data onto the reflection, and that's then decoded by a receiver.

The problem with such a passive comms scheme is that its distance is limited to … hundreds of metres or more, according to boffins who presented their work (PDF) to the Association of Computing Machinery's UbiComp on Wednesday, September 13.

The University of Washington researchers showed that a Thing consuming just 9.25 microwatts (while active) could cover a 4,800ft 2 (for

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Boffins' satcomms rig uses earthly LEDs to talk to orbiting PV panels
Wednesday, 13 September 2017 13:56

As low-cost satellites become more common, researchers are turning their attention to improving their communications capabilities without adding crushing costs.

A laser might, as NASA demonstrated earlier this year, be able to hit a gigabit per second – but the kit's expensive.

So a pair of researchers from Florida-based Aphelion Orbitals have instead achieved better than 8 Mbps – using boring old LEDs.

Interestingly, one of their cost-saving measures is to reduce the accuracy you need to aim a signal at the satellite, by using a large photon-collection surface that's already common in space, the satellites' photovoltaic (PV) panels, as

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Piezomagnetic Trick Shrinks 2.5 GHz Antennas
Saturday, 16 September 2017 07:00

To a ham radio operator used to “short”-wave antennas with lengths listed in tens of meters, the tiny antennas used in the gigahertz bands barely even register. But if your goal is making radio electronics that’s small enough to swallow, an antenna of a few centimeters is too big. Physics determines plausible antenna sizes, and there’s no way around that, but a large group of researchers and engineers have found a way of side-stepping the problem: resonating a nano-antenna acoustically instead of electromagnetically.

Normal antennas are tuned to some extent to the frequency that you want to pick up. Since …read more

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Vodafone customers moan about sluggish data abroad
Tuesday, 15 August 2017 19:35

Vodafone customers are complaining their data is being throttled while on hols, with supposedly 4G services dropping to sluggish speeds of 2Mbps.

One affected customer, who has been with the telco for around a decade, moaned he experienced problems with data roaming in the Netherlands and Cyprus recently.

The punter visited the same place in Holland for the last couple of years and said up until recently the service had been fine. "But since the switch to inclusive and free data it's been shit."

Vodafone's website stated: "We never 'throttle' – at home, or abroad – so you'll always enjoy

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