In the world of cellular technology, everything comes to an end. Eventually analog networks gave way to digital. First generation gave way to second, and so on. Sometimes the transitions are easy, like retiring analog years after all phones in the wild supported digital radios. Sometimes they can be difficult and expensive, like when Cingular shut down their TDMA network, requiring many customers to make the switch from phones they liked, some being nearly new.
Verizon, the largest US carrier, followed by AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, has begun the latest process of network retirements, with a plan to transition all customers to LTE-only. Unfortunately for Verizon, this transition requires a lot of preparations. For example, like with Cingular, all customers will have to have devices that support LTE, which is not necessarily the case today. While it may seem like all phones support LTE today, they don't. Think about your last family gathering where you saw a flip phone. That device does not support LTE and will be completely useless after this transition.
But it's not just LTE that these devices need to support; they also need support for Voice over LTE (VoLTE). What devices currently support this technology? Well, a number of the top-end Windows Phones, Android phones and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Apple. If you just upgraded your phone to an iPhone 5s, you will not be able to use that handset after this upgrade completes. There are also many other devices not compatible - it is a far easier list to find all compatible handsets.
Secondly, Verizon needs to ensure that all of its network is LTE compatible, and that they won't cut off customers who can currently use their phone if they do retire 3G. For example, at our former office in Tampa, we had no access to LTE coverage on Verizon. No matter the handset, 3G was the best we could hope for in the area. Turning off the 3G network today would leave that area without Verizon coverage of any sort.
The good news here is that this transition will not happen any time soon. Verizon has not officially announced their intentions; they have simply begun running tests in markets like Manhattan. One user discovered that their 3G access had vanished and, several hours later, was replaced by LTE running on the same spectrum. The fact that Verizon has not made this process public yet is an important indicator to the timeline. When Cingular turned off TDMA, they made their plans known well over a year before the transition began.
Additionally, Verizon's plans do not call for the launch of an LTE-only device until 2016. While that may not be entirely indicative of their timeline, it does help. An LTE-only phone would not necessarily help Verizon in this process, or even be related. Even if Verizon does not support 3G going forward, removing the radio from the handset would serve to limit the phone's roaming capabilities, both domestically and abroad. It might actually be a mistake for them to attempt an LTE-only device at all.
Once a transition like this is complete, Verizon can use the spectrum currently dedicated to supporting older technology to help them feed the need for LTE spectrum, which will ironically only increase with the transition. LTE, however, is far less spectrum-hungry than its older counterparts, which required separate spectrum for data and voice, but ran on a single radio. This means that they can get more out of the spectrum once converted to LTE.
If you were trying to connect to your Xbox 360 or Xbox.com last week but were unsuccessful, it wasn't because of your Internet connection. Instead, Lizard Squad, the same group behind the PlayStation Network outage last month and for calling in a fake bomb threat on an International flight, has taken claim for the attacks on Xbox's networks.
A Microsoft spokesperson has commented on the matter, only saying that service was interrupted.
On December 5, 2014, some of our customers experienced an Xbox service interruption. We worked quickly to resolve and address the issue and services are being restored to normal.
It should be pointed out that Xbox networks were also down on Tuesday the 2nd. The group's Twitter account, upon Xbox Live having connection problems, simply wrote, "Xbox Live #offline." Shortly after, however, Lizard Squad said that.
Unlike Santa, we don't like giving all of our Christmas presents out on one day. This entire month will be entertaining. #LizardSquad
Lizard Squad has even said that Christmas Day should be an "entertaining" time as well, then went on to take down a Steam server seemingly just for fun. Of course, all of this has sparked outrage within the gaming community, with users creating
petitions on the White House website to stop the "infamous" Lizard Squad.
I think the real kicker is how all of this came to be. Based on the Twitter account, the group asked what the next target should be, and a follower responded with, "Xbox." I think this further proves that we should never rely on random Twitter users for ideas for anything.
Last week, Sony Pictures had their
servers attacked again, with hacker group Guardians of Peace walking away with other 100 terabytes of data. While the 40 GB sample that GOP released contained an large amount of highly-sensitive information, including unreleased movies and scripts, the entire backlog of data was released shortly after and its contents are remarkable.
On the surface it didn't seem like the end of the world. Sure there were Outlook .pst files, internal financial reports and passwords to the payroll, FTP and security services for many countries, but the release of the entire package makes this go from bad to worse. In its entirety, the data grabbed also holds background checks, salary consideration letters, doctors' letters, other medical records and social security numbers. It would appear the simple days of taking usernames and passwords of customers are over.
With the nature of the attack so severe, there is a lot of speculation as to who is actually behind all of this. Rumors floated around that it could've been internal or that North Korea could somehow be involved, but now investigators might have gotten closer to the source.
New information has come in that has led officials to believe the Sony Pictures data breach originated from a room at the St. Regis, a five-star hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. Further, the individuals responsible are said to be tied with DarkSeoul, a hacker group based out of North Korea. It is unknown at this time whether or not this was carried out from a common area or a guest room, but web traffic logs point to St. Regis' Wi-Fi.
Could James Franco and Seth Rogen have really caused this level of outrage within North Korea, to the point where the country hired cyber assassins to take out Sony? So far North Korea has publicly denied all allegations but called the act a "righteous deed" and that it may have been done by "supporters and sympathizers (sic)" of the country.