If you're one of those people with the misfortune to follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed the occasional complaint about the poor state of in-flight Internet service. After all, it's incredibly frustrating when you're on a deadline and unable to get any work done because you can't even load the Ars CMS. But there is light at the end of the tunnel, as I discovered late last year. Gogo Air, which provides in-flight connectivity on most of the major US airlines, noticed one of my frustrated outbursts and invited me to try out its latest service, a satellite-based system called 2Ku.
Between 2005 and 2017, the number of people who are digitally connected increased by a factor of three and a half. In other words, the number of people with internet access went from just over 1 billion to about 3.5, from about 15% to roughly half the world’s population. And in the coming decade, it is estimated that roughly 5 billion people – that’s 70% of the world’s population – will have internet access.
A year ago this week, Chinese physicists launched the world’s first quantum satellite. Unlike the dishes that deliver your Howard Stern and cricket tournaments, this 1,400-pound behemoth doesn’t beam radio waves. Instead, the physicists designed it to send and receive bits of information encoded in delicate photons of infrared light. It’s a test of a budding technology known as quantum communications, which experts say could be far more secure than any existing info relay system.
Google Fiber is getting a lot smaller. Alphabet is sending hundreds of employees at Access—the division that runs the high-speed internet service—to work at other parts of the company, an Access spokeswoman says. It’s not the end of Fiber, not exactly. But the slimming-down likely signals a future for Alphabet’s broadband ambitions that involves less fiber.
SpaceX has detailed ambitious plans to bring fast Internet access to the entire world with a new satellite system that offers greater speeds and lower latency than existing satellite networks.
A new Ethernet standard that allows for up to 2.5Gbps over normal Cat 5e cables (the ones you probably have in your house) has been approved by the IEEE. The standard—formally known as IEEE 802.3bz-2016, 2.5G/5GBASE-T, or just 2.5 and 5 Gigabit Ethernet—also allows for up to 5Gbps over Cat 6 cabling.
IPv4 address exhaustion is making it harder to measure the size of the Internet, even as IPv6 deployment accelerates.
While IPv6 activity doubled in 2015 (to 400 million addresses by year-end), the vast majority of users are still on IPv4 addresses, mostly via dynamic assignment or behind carrier-grade Network Address Translation (NAT) boxes.
Last summer, Google said it would help connect some 275,000 low-income homes to the internet as part of the White House’s ConnectHome initiative. Now the company is making good on that promise.
Today Google announced it had outfitted 100 homes at the West Bluff public housing complex in Kansas City with a free Google Fiber connection. It worked with the Housing Authority of Kansas City on the project, which is the first of many it will complete as part of the ConnectHome partnership.
Twenty years ago this month, RFC 1883 was published: Internet Protocol, Version 6 (IPv6) Specification. So what's an Internet Protocol, and what's wrong with the previous five versions? And if version 6 is so great, why has it only been adopted by half a percent of the Internet's users each year over the past two decades?
Living in rural England, Richard Guy was a man with a problem. Like many located in similar areas, his "broadband" internet connection was pretty narrow, with download speeds below 1Mbps. While some isolated communities are grouping together to build their own municipal networks, Guy had another solution: mobile data. He created his own 4G mast and wired it up with fiber optic cables, and now enjoys 45Mbps+ connection speeds. Guy, a farmer by trade, has since set up a business called Agri-Broadband to help other rural businesses get connected.