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Privacy Has Fallen Victim to Social Media and No One Seems to Care

By Ernest Worthman, AWT Exec. Editor, IEEE Sr. Member

Let’s talk about the state of your privacy on the internet. In the Aug. 11th AGL eDigest, I started down the privacy path a bit. With the recent Google news, I thought I would add to that with this missive.

It appears there is no end to which social media companies will go to get into your business. This latest transgression is over Google tracking you regardless of whether location was on or off, or if you told them not to.

Expecting them to change becomes an exercise in futility. It is absurd the hoops one, still, has to jump through to protect one’s privacy – even after the Facebook debacle. Frankly, there should be a “one button” option to turn off all tracking and kill your data…period. This should be the default and if you want to share your data, it should be made painfully obvious that is going to happen.

After the Facebook fiasco, it is becoming increasingly obvious, IMHO, that the current government is, woefully, old guard and mostly unaware of what is really happening in technology.

That was made obvious with the Zuckerberg hearings in Congress. Add to that the current administration’s drive to seemingly let just about every business run unregulated, either axing or diluting what regulations already exists (aka, Net Neutrality). Subsequently, this scenario makes the outlook for putting any kind of legislation in place, to protect us lowly citizens against such invasive actions, close to nil.

Now, there is a segment of the population that really does not care, or does not understand the implications of such invasive tactics – at least until they are victims of such obliviousness. However, there are a couple of arguments around this that should be considered, preemptively. One is, that if you do have your head buried in the sand and do not take privacy seriously, you pose a risk to any number of scenarios. Malfeasants can use your data to perpetrate a boatload of nefarious activities – from compromising public safety to invading your connected individuals’ privacy.

What is most irritating about all of this is that very little has emerged, in the way of moving forward to rein in data miners, since the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Facebook took a bit of a stock hit from it, which cost the company a couple of billion, but I am sure it did not worry Zuckerberg all the much. Moreover, nothing, what so ever, happened to Cambridge.

We have seen this scenario over and over in the past few years. Google’s actions are typical of just about every internet presence out there. It is beginning to appear that user data is becoming more valuable than gold and bringing out the “best of greed” in organizations.

Going forward, the Internet of Everything/Everyone (IoX), smart “X,” social media, and other platforms connected wirelessly, pose a monumental opportunity for malfeasants to capitalize on lack of control over one’s data. That will just increase, by orders of magnitude, breach potential.

At this stage of the game, it has been proven over and over that social media and other organizations cannot be trusted to adhere to the users’ wishes, or act responsibly with user data. As much as I am not a fan of regulation as the norm, I do feel that it is time for governments, around the world and not just here, to make organizations toe the line. If they do not, make them hurt.

Along with that comes the mission to make the user both responsible, and protected. They should be responsible if they are negligent, but they should also protected by making it easy for them to be responsible.

In closing, I am going back to what I said earlier, if I do not want to be part of your game, I want to be able to push a single button and be guaranteed that my actions, and subsequent wishes, will be respected.

Facebook Ups the Speed of its Pt-to-Pt Links

By J. Sharpe Smith

Senior Editor, AGL eDigest

Facebook’s Connectivity Lab reported that it has achieved its fasted speeds yet in wireless data transfer during the second day of the F8 2017 Facebook Developer Conference held this week in San Jose, California.

Those marks included a point-to-point data rate of 36 Gbps over 8 miles with millimeter-wave (mmWave) technology, and 80 Gbps between those same points using our optical cross-link technology. Last year, Facebook tested a terrestrial point-to-point link in Southern California, which achieved a data rate of nearly 20 Gbps over 8 miles using mmWaves.


The lab team also used the technology to demonstrate 16 Gbps simultaneously in each direction from a location on the ground to a circling Cessna aircraft more than 4 miles away. This real-life test showed how the point-to-point MMW radio link can be used as the connection between a ground station and Aquila, Facebook’s solar powered UAV.

Closer to home, the mmWave technology could be used as a terrestrial backhaul network to support access solutions like OpenCellular, according to Facebook, or as a reliable backup to free space optical solutions. It seems only appropriate that Facebook is helping design faster wireless networks, since it plans on adding to the glut of data soon to go down those pipes.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg told the F8 audience about a number of virtual reality (VR) and augment reality (AR) apps that will amuse and inform users, as well as increase data use.

Features to be rolled out to users include virtual chess games, virtual hangout rooms with you and your friends’ customized avatars to an AR app for jogging designed by Nike. While it is difficult to discern which of these will take off like the Pokemon Go app, one thing seems for sure. These are the use cases that may drive the demand for data and provide a reason for the carriers to build out 5G networks.

Facebook Demos 20 Gig Pt.-to-Pt. Hookup

November 15, 2016 — Facebook’s Connectivity Lab’s terrestrial point-to-point link in Southern California test has achieved a data rate of nearly 20 Gbps over 8 miles using a set of custom-built components.

“We are actively working to develop a variety of terrestrial and airborne technologies to help connect the world,” wrote Abhishek Tiwari of Facebook. “One of our goals is to provide connectivity in areas without traditional infrastructure and reliable power sources, so these technologies should be low-cost, energy efficient, and able to support a capacity of tens of gigabits per second over long ranges.”

The link used only 105 watts of total direct current power consumption at the transmitter and receiver. The transmission used a bandwidth of 2 GHz, resulting in an overall spectral efficiency of 9.8 bits per second per Hertz.”

The immediate goal is to use millimeter-wave technology to transmit bandwidth from the ground to solar-powered drones, which will be used to beam the internet to those on the ground.

“The technology we tested is applicable to a number of Connectivity Lab’s solutions. For example, it could be used as a terrestrial backhaul network to support access solutions like OpenCellular, or as a reliable backup to free space optical solutions such as the laser communications gimbal and optical detector in case of fog and clouds,” Tiwari wrote.

Facebook’s ultimate goal is drone-to-ground links to support capacities in excess of 30 Gbps over 18-31 miles.

For more information, go to http://tinyurl.com/hkyvwly


Facebook Connectivity Plan a Lofty Concept

By Ernest Worthman

Executive Editor
AGL Small Cell Magazine



A relatively new player in the connectivity game, Facebook, has had some success with it Aquila project. The first full-scale test flight of Aquila, its high-altitude unmanned aircraft, was a success.

The solar-powered airplane, which has the wingspan of a Boeing 737 but weighs hundreds of times less, will now be scheduled for a lengthy series of tests in the coming months and year to find out exactly what its limits are.

The Aquila concept, is supposed to be a fleet of airplanes acting as APs within a 60-mile communications diameter for up to 90 consecutive days. It will use the E-band, likely the 71 -76 GHz band and run on solar power during the day and battery power at night. It is designed to fly between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, which is higher than commercial aircraft and above most weather.

The idea is to have a series of drones that will be deployed as a fleet of autonomous aircraft capable of delivering Internet connectivity, if the project ever gets real traction, and will use a free space laser as the link to communicate between it and receivers on the ground. Supposedly, the design team has already developed and lab-tested a laser that can deliver data at tens of gigabits per second, or about 10x faster than the previous state-of-the-art, to a target the size of a dime more than 10 miles away.

At this stage of the game, it is still more of a lofty concept that a plan. For example, the current world record for solar-powered unmanned flight, is only two weeks. To make it three months, and reliable, is something Facebook hasn’t figured out yet, and likely won’t for some time, if at all. Seems Facebook is tired of just being an app and want to be a utility, like Mobilitie. It figures that the more people are on the Internet, the more likely they are to be on Facebook, as well.

And, of course, there is the regulatory spider web. These planes will have similar obstacles as does Google’s Project Loon. And don’t expect the current satellite operators to stand idly by, either.