What we’ll see in 2013 in mobile

Another year has come and gone with more mobile advances than ever before. What’s in store for the year ahead? Our mobile staff looks a five trends that are likely to affect hardware, software and services in the fast growing mobile space.

Updated: ICOA denies Google deal

Update: Sources at Google are denying that the search giant has purchased Wi-Fi hotspot company ICOA, while executives at ICOA are also telling news outlets that a release announcing the deal is false.

A fond farewell to T-Mobile’s 200 MB plan

I confess: I used T-Mobile’s 200 MB plan for a year, and it served all of my smartphone needs. Since then I and most other smartphone users have graduated to heavier data buckets, but there is still a need for a cheap 200 MB plan.

LIFX bulb shines light on connected home vs gadgets

Who needs a light switch when you have smart bulbs paired with smartphones? LIFX is just that: a Wi-Fi connected LED bulb that you remotely control or even change the color. But will consumers want one-off connected gadgets or centrally-managed smart homes in the future?

Need faster Wi-Fi? Buffalo ships first 1.3 Gbps router

Buffalo Technology has wasted no time using the newly approved 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard: The company is now shipping its AirStation router that is capable of pushing wireless bits and bytes at 1.3 Gbps. The $179.99 device is also backwards compatible with older Wi-Fi standards.

New Wi-Fi standard means better vehicle support, improved cell handoff

The ubiquitous Wi-Fi standard officially improved on Monday, with the IEEE publishing its fourth revision to 802.11. The updates include faster throughput, improved cellular hand-offs, and communication between vehicles in addition to other improvements. One marketable standard could help with consumer education and purchase decisions.

Are users defecting from France’s Free Mobile?

France’s mobile market has been upset by the innovative approach of Xavier Niel’s low-cost operator, Free. But after an initial boost of customers, rivals say the company’s growth is slowing. Is its momentum in danger of draining away before it’s even really started?

AT&T’s Wi-Fi experiment: Watch ads, get access

Remember the old NetZero dial-up Internet plans that gave you free Internet access as long as you put up with an advertising window emblazoned across your screen? Well, AT&T is experimenting with a similar concept at DFW Airport, only offering Wi-Fi instead of dial-up.

Not just iPhone, but iPad too uses Wi-Fi more often

A recent ComScore survey of smartphone owners in the U.S. and U.K. shows that iPhone users are far more likely than their Android-toting counterparts to take advantage of Wi-Fi networks when available. But the same thing is true for iPad users. What accounts for the difference?

Kindle Fire app gains location services (without a GPS)

Kindle Fire owners wanting to include locations in their tweets can do so with the updated version of TweetCaster. Nearby tweets are available too, even though Amazon’s tablet doesn’t include a GPS radio. Instead the slate uses a Wi-Fi location solution from Boston-based Skyhook Wireless.

Active antennas: The cure for our phone-reception ills?

Ethertronics has developed a means for your phone’s antenna to morph depending on the cellular signal conditions you wade through. If the technology lives up to its promise future phones will be able to get decent signals even in the most abysmal network conditions.

What’s most precious to The Hobbit? Broadband!

Shooting and sharing movie footage all over New Zealand makes for connectivity challenges, but the crew of The Hobbit is making do. But not with magic; heck, even a powerful wizard such as Gandalf has limitations. Portable satellites and six kilometers of cable bring them broadband.

We called it: Ericsson to buy BelAir Networks

Ericsson has agreed to purchase BelAir Networks to help boost its Wi-Fi credentials, just as we said it would. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but this deal was all about Wi-Fi and the changing needs of the mobile operator.

Why your next smartphone could have better Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is now a staple in today’s smartphones, but it’s expected to improve in the handsets of tomorrow. The new 802.11ac standard, or “5G Wi-Fi,” offers improved power efficiency and speeds faster than 802.11n Wi-Fi, and it could be your smartphone’s new best friend.

That Google mystery device? It’s basically a Sonos

Google’s mystery device has been unveiled by The Wall Street Journal as a Sonos-like platform for wirelessly streaming music around the home. But the most important thing is that Google is moving beyond software to making a branded hardware device of its own.

Global broadband zooms, U.S. penetration is over 80 percent

Did you know that Bulgaria has the highest level of broadband adoption, at 96 percent? Or that the average connection speed in South Korea is 16.7 Mbps versus the global average connection speed of 2.7 Mbps? Some findings from Akamai’s latest “State of the Internet” report.

CES Trend: Digital health gadgets galore

Among the expected rows of new televisions, computers, phones and tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show is a growing number of health gadgets. These vary in form and function, but nearly all of them share some common elements: connectivity, mobile applications and social aspects.

Free Android, iOS app wakes you earlier when it snows

Just in time for the northern hemisphere’s winter season: An alarm clock application that automatically wakes you earlier in case of frost or snow. Winter Wake-Up is freely available for both Apple iOS and Google Android devices and smartly adjusts your alarm based on weather.

AT&T U-verse cuts the coax, goes wireless in-home

Pretty soon, new AT&T U-verse subscribers won’t have to go through the hassle of having their entire home re-wired with coaxial cable when they sign up for pay TV service. Instead, all they’ll need is a residential home gateway and a set of thin-client wireless receivers.

The connected home is closer than ever

It seems like the concept of “the connected home” has been a hot topic forever. For most of us, it has remained in the realm of our imaginations. But according to Qualcomm Atheros’ Craig Barratt, connectedness everywhere is closer than ever to becoming a reality.

Cool: Wi-Fi breaks the sound barrier

Want a challenge? Try building a Wi-Fi network for a car designed to break the speed of sound. A project that aims to break the land-speed record has applied to the FCC for permission to operate an experimental Wi-Fi network at 800 mph in Nevada.

Do you want some Wi-Fi with that beer?

We’ve been big believers in big brands sponsoring free Wi-Fi access. It’s a much better and cheaper advertising opportunity that endears brands to likely customers. It’s more effective when it’s done right, like when a beer maker offers free Wi-Fi in London pubs.

Mobile data costs will jump sharply by 2016

Trying to keep up with mobile data costs will be a mighty challenge for network operators, who are looking at delivery costs going up by sevenfold to $370 billion by 2016, according to Juniper Research.

How Congress’ spectrum bills hurt the tech community

This week both Republicans and Democrats proposed drafts of mobile spectrum bills that would incent television broadcasters to give up some of their spectrum to be used for mobile broadband. But one of those bills could hurt the development of more unlicensed airwaves.

iPhones, iPads thrive on Wi-Fi, Androids on 3G and 4G

Nearly half of the page views from Apple iPhones come through a Wi-Fi network as does 91.9 percent of iPad web browsing. Android device users use more mobile broadband, but why? Here are four reasons that explain this broadband phenomenon, which is unlikely to change soon.

VIDEO: Ford’s Wireless Car Talking Tech

Ford is developing a futuristic wireless technology based on a form of WiFi and GPS to enable cars to “talk” to each other and help avoid crashes and potentially reduce fuel consumption. We checked out Ford’s demo in San Francisco on Wednesday and shot this video.

Wi-Fi to Overtake Wired Network Traffic by 2015

Wi-Fi will reign supreme by 2015, for the first time causing more worldwide IP traffic than wired devices, according to new data from Cisco. However, mobile network operators aren’t off the hook just yet: Their networks will see data consumption grow 26-fold from 2010 to 2015.

Quick Fix: iPad or iPhone Dropping Wi-Fi Connections

Whether you’ve recently updated to iOS 4.3, or if you just received a new iPad 2, you may have experienced some Wi-Fi connectivity issues on your device that you haven’t run into before. Here are some possible fixes that should work on any iOS device.

How Our Wi-Fi Addiction Feeds Our Retail Habit

Can Wi-Fi draw potential shoppers into a traditional retail store? According to a survey of 1,088 consumers, yes it can: 80.5 percent say they prefer a store with Wi-Fi. That allows them to research products reviews without having to worry about mobile broadband data caps.

Making Your Wi-Fi Free to Roam

Finding a Wi-Fi hot spot may soon be as seamless as finding cellular coverage if carriers get together and agree to allow one another’s customers to roam onto their Wi-Fi networks. A Cisco executive says Wi-Fi roaming is needed and carriers are open to the idea.

Is 2011 The Year of Powerline Networking?

It’s a pretty easy argument to make that Wi-Fi has been the single most important technology in the connected-home marketplace for the past decade, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the most optimal option for connecting the home. Here’s what else is out there.

Cars With Wi-Fi Hitting the New Information Highway

As consumers purchase a greater number of web-connected devices such as tablets, portable game devices and eBook readers, they don’t want to leave these items behind. Automakers are beginning to see the potential of integrated Wi-Fi in cars, which will boost revenue opportunities down the road.

Want to Make Your Location App Hot? Add a Discount.

Almost nine out of every 10 mobile users will access location based service this holiday season, according to JiWire, which analyzes audiences through Wi-Fi hotspots. However a large number aren’t doing it to score points or share their location, but rather to gain discounts.

Samsung Has First Wi-Fi Direct Smartphone

Samsung’s Galaxy S is the first smartphone certified for Wi-Fi Direct, a new standard that supports peer-to-peer wireless transfers without an access point or hotspot. Users could securely shoot media or data to a wireless printer, hard drive, picture frame or any number of Wi-Fi-capable devices.

Once All Data Plans Are Capped, Where Will You Turn?

Mobile device users want unlimited access to data, but most are unwilling to pay a premium according to a survey of professionals and students. The full survey results are expected tomorrow, when Devicescape, a provider of Wi-Fi software solutions, publishes its quarterly Wi-Fi report.

Wi-Fi Looks to Keep the Mobile Internet Dream Alive

Is Wi-Fi the Future of Mobile Internet? Jeff Thompson, the CEO of Towerstream (s twer) has been asking this question lately. And after seeing the results of a test Wi-Fi project in mid-town Manhattan, Thompson keeps coming back to the same answer: yes.

Why T-Mobile May Add UMA Calling to Android After All

T-Mobile will reportedly offer calls over Wi-Fi on upcoming Android handsets according to leaked training and screen shots of a Wi-Fi Calling application. But such an app would be a software solution, instead one based on hardware, meaning calls wouldn’t be handed off to cellular networks.

Will We Soon Have Gigantic Wireless Hotspots?

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is poised to take action on “white spaces” by appeasing TV broadcasters interference concerns. Given successful trials, the final hurdle for widespread use of this unlicensed spectrum may be cleared, birthing a entirely new wireless industry and long-range wireless hotspots.

iPhone Owners: AT&T Building a Wi-Fi Hotzone in Times Square for You

In an effort to provide better service to its 3G (particularly iPhone) users, AT&T is building an experimental Wi-Fi hotzone in New York’s Times Square. If successful, it would roll out similar networks in three other locations to offload traffic from its overburdened 3G network.

Wi-Fi: It Just Keeps Going and Growing

Wi-Fi will soon celebrate the 25th anniversary of the technology’s inception, and the innovations keep coming. Today a company called Anyfi Networks launched a product that gives a Wi-Fi network the basic properties of a cellular network, which helps Wi-Fi compete against costly 3G.

Wi-Fi iPhone Syncing App Submitted to Apple

Apple recently unveiled iPhone OS 4, which brought many much needed features to the platform. Despite rectifying some long-standing oversights, however, Apple still hasn’t allowed their iDevices to sync wirelessly with people’s home computers.

How to Minimize Wi-Fi Problems With the iPad

We’ve seen reports from some iPad owners concerning problems with Wi-Fi connectivity, especially with mobile modems. I have seen those problems first-hand, and have tested the iPad extensively to minimize Wi-Fi connectivity problems. I can report the problems can be minimized with just a couple steps.

MobileTechRoundup 203 — The Mobile Paradigm Shifts

It’s iPad-eve so this week’s audio podcast focuses on the new slate from Apple. Are people underestimating the paradigm shift this device brings to the mobile space? We chat about Wi-FI, 3G and 4G options as well. Join us and enjoy the conversation!

Cisco Valet Makes It Easier to Miss Linksys

You can still find Linksys routers for sale, but Cisco is now leveraging its own brand on new Wi-Fi products. While sad from a traditionalist point of view, the new routers are easier to set up thanks to an innovative and included valet service.

Boingo Brings $1.99 Pay-Per-Use Wi-Fi to Apple's iPad

Not everyone buying an iPad is purchasing the 3G model. Boingo Wireless today started offering a new pay-per-use Wi-Fi service for iPads, iPhones and iPod touches that’s even cheaper than AT&T’s Wi-Fi On the Spot offering. It uses iTunes for the transaction, making buying credits easy.

Apple Says WiFi-sniffing Apps Stink

Apple suddenly banned hotspot-sniffing applications from its App Store after a change in its policies regarding how apps leverage Wi-Fi. That’s a dangerous move when mobile developers have an increasing number of attractive platforms on which to build their applications.

Do You Wi-Fi on Your Phone?

Wi-Fi has long been a staple of laptop users, but with the widespread inclusion of the technology in smartphones, statistics are showing a lot wireless hotspot activity comes from those using phones. Do you Wi-Fi on your phone or other handheld device?

Mobile Offload: It's So Hot Right Now

Carriers are increasingly looking to Wi-Fi to ease the strain on their cellular networks, and an army of companies is emerging with offloading solutions to help them. And they could help themselves immensely by making Wi-Fi easier for their subscribers to use.

Would You Watch Ads in Exchange for Free Wi-Fi?

As more and more devices –- phones, netbooks and tablets –- come to market, the demand for Wi-Fi-based connectivity is only going to rise. But how much are you willing to pay for it? Would you watch an ad in order to get Wi-Fi?

Consumers Making Wi-Fi Hotspots Hot

Thanks to the growing popularity of WiFi-enabled phones and cameras, Wi-Fi hotspots are hot. Usage is up 47 percent in 2009 alone. And a new report suggests that an increasing number of consumers are forgoing the laptop in favor of WiFi-enabled devices such as smartphones.

Verizon's Affair With Wi-Fi Heats Up

Verizon Wireless is giving its mobile broadband users free Wi-Fi access through thousands of hotspots throughout North America. That off-loading will be crucial as the carrier’s data traffic ramps up thanks to the Motorola Droid and other data-friendly smartphones.

Can Ads Help In-Flight Wi-Fi Take Off?

Airlines are pushing hard to bring in-flight Wi-Fi to their customers, but there’s little evidence consumers are willing to spend much to…

Yet Another Global Wi-Fi Network

[qi:gigaom_icon_routers] Devicescape, a San Bruno, Calif.-based startup well known for its Wi-Fi software clients, today is announcing Easy Wi-Fi Network, a 100,000-location…

802.11n Is Official, Finally

[qi:gigaom_icon_routers] IEEE has finally put the finishing touches on the much-awaited 802.11n high speed Wi-Fi standard, seven years after the process started.…

Why Google's Partners Should Be Worried

Google today announced its third quarter 2008 earnings – which were in-line with investor expectations, thus giving market a reason to exhale. For the quarter, Google reported net income of $1.35 billion on sales of $5.54 billion. Google partners however, should gulp hard, for the Mountain View, Calif.-based search and online advertising company is keeping more and more of its online ad bounty for itself.

Why the Home Network Needs More Than Just Wi-Fi

While the future make look bright for Wi-Fi, when it come to the next generation of home networking, it is not catch-all technology that some are making it out to be. Indeed, there are some areas of home networking that may not involve Wi-Fi at all.

Meraki Price Hike Irks Customers

[qi:045] Meraki Networks, a Mountain View, Calif.-based mesh networking gear maker, which is leading the unique ComMuniFi model of providing wireless broadband…

iPhone Cripples Duke Wireless Network

UPDATE: And of course after I hit Publish, I notice that there’s an update to the story (thank goodness it’s friday!) It…

Up with Downfly

For the past few days I have been trying out Downfly, a Firefox extension that allows you to email webpage links to…

EVDO, now in many more cities

Sprint launched its EVDO service, soon after Verizon upped the total number of EVDO-enabled cities to 50. Sprint says about 150 million…