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News recap: Fiber-optic circuit capacity grows with research advance

A fiber optic cable advance could give networks the ability to transmit more data over longer distances at lower costs, and a Google startup will reinvent old phone booths as Wi-Fi hot spots.

In this week's news, researchers offered a way to double the capabilities of fiber-optic circuits, enabling them to carry data over long distances at reduced cost.

A Google startup plans to head NYCLink, an initiative that will implement free Wi-Fi throughout New York City come the fall. According to the NPD Group,

Fiber-optic circuit capacity could see vast increase

Getting a step closer to creating an all-optical network, researchers announced last week that electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego proposed a way to extend the distance laser light in fiber-optic cable can travel. The advance could double the capacity of fiber-optic circuits, according to The New York Times. The development could enable networks to carry data over long distances at reduced cost, The New York Times reported.

In the report, the group described how to "predistort" the data by essentially creating walls for the light beams so it can be easily decoded over a great range, the article said. This process has a similar effect to stamping a digital watermark in the original data, which in addition to being able to transmit is over longer distances, dispenses with the need to perform optical-to-electronic conversions at short intervals.

The researchers said they set a record in a lab experiment for sending a fiber-optic message 7,400 miles without regenerating it. The original article about the advance in Science journal did not discuss the experiment, according to the Times.

The research was partially funded by Google and Sumitomo Electric Industries, a Japanese fiber optic cable manufacturer.

Google startup to bring free Wi-Fi to NYC, other cities

Sidewalk Labs, an urban innovation startup that launched last month under the Google umbrella announced that its first project will be to provide free, fast Wi-Fi to cities around the world, beginning with New York City, Bloomberg Business reported. The startup is acquiring Control Group and Titan with a team of investors, two companies currently working on the LinkNYC network. Sidewalk will merge the two, creating Intersection, which will oversee the rollout of LinkNYC this fall, then look to create similar technology in other cities, Bloomberg reported.

In September, the company will gradually replace old pay phone booths with tall, thin pillars with digital tablet interfaces with ads on the sides. The technology will provide free Wi-Fi within a 150-foot radius, as well as free phone charging, Internet browsing and phone calling, according to Bloomberg. The pillars could generate $500 million in ad revenue over the next 12 years through Titan's advertising network, according to Mayor Bill de Blaso's office.

Sidewalk Labs hasn't announced other cities that will be added to its initiative. According to a Sidewalk Labs statement CEO Dan Doctoroff predicted the technology will go global.

Millennials driving factor in smart home market

Smart home products are beginning to hit the market, and Millennials are jumping on this up-and-coming trend faster than anyone. Nearly twice as many Millennials (23%) have already installed smart home products compared to the total population (12%), according to a survey released by NPD Group, a qualitative and quantitative group.

Smart home products encompass a wide range of next-generation technology. They include security and monitoring devices, sensors, system controllers, smart lighting and power. Millennials will continue to expand the smart home market, as 41% are aware and have taken an interest in these products, according to NPD Group's Connected Intelligence website.

Early growth has been driven in part due to renters, who are three times more likely to belong to the Millennial group, NPD said.

"The product mix such as smart cameras, lights, and plugs, fits the lifestyle of both home owners and renters, which opens up a larger, younger and more tech-savvy consumer market," according to Connected Intelligence executive director John Buffone in a statement.

Next Steps

What are the security risks of fiber optic networking?

Birmingham, UK offers free public Wi-Fi

What you need when building a smart home

How optical networking strategies help define advanced services

Dig Deeper on Next-Generation Network Architecture

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