Google made two business moves this week that are causing a bit of a stir. The first was the announced rollout of Buzz, its major foray into the social media world.

Buzz allows the 176 million users of its Gmail service to "Share updates, photos, videos, and more," says Google. A New York Timesarticle says that, "Buzz comes with a built-in circle of friends, a group that is automatically selected by Google based on the people that a user communicates with most frequently in Gmail and on Google’s chat service."

In other words, on top of keeping track of your searches, Google is keeping track of who you send email to as well, and makes the assumption that they are your friends. Big assumption, at least in my regard.

Google also wants "enterprises to embrace Buzz as a business tool" states this report in PCWorld. However, Buzz for the enterprise is not ready yet. It will be "soon" says Google.

One can hardly wait.

Whether Buzz will be a success in the face of Facebook and Twitter and whether business will embrace it remains to be seen.

Google also announced this week that it was going trial ultra-high speed broadband networks throughout the US:

"We're planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We'll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people."

Google is asking for the public and local governments to nominate themselves as a trial site for a network.

Some observers think this broadband initiative by Google is merely a stick with which to beat US government regulators and other network providers with over the slow rollout of ultra-high speed broadband across America, reportsComputerWorld.

Google, they reason, doesn't really want to be a network provider. They believe that Google's endgame is to spur just enough competition to force network providers to upgrade their networks to a 1 gigabit per second standard which will be able to handle the current and especially future data streams that Google helps foster and control.

If it works, I am all for it. If not, then a personal note to Google:

Me, me, please pick me! I'll even use Buzz! I promise.

The Conversation (0)

Metamaterials Could Solve One of 6G’s Big Problems

There’s plenty of bandwidth available if we use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces

12 min read
An illustration depicting cellphone users at street level in a city, with wireless signals reaching them via reflecting surfaces.

Ground level in a typical urban canyon, shielded by tall buildings, will be inaccessible to some 6G frequencies. Deft placement of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces [yellow] will enable the signals to pervade these areas.

Chris Philpot

For all the tumultuous revolution in wireless technology over the past several decades, there have been a couple of constants. One is the overcrowding of radio bands, and the other is the move to escape that congestion by exploiting higher and higher frequencies. And today, as engineers roll out 5G and plan for 6G wireless, they find themselves at a crossroads: After years of designing superefficient transmitters and receivers, and of compensating for the signal losses at the end points of a radio channel, they’re beginning to realize that they are approaching the practical limits of transmitter and receiver efficiency. From now on, to get high performance as we go to higher frequencies, we will need to engineer the wireless channel itself. But how can we possibly engineer and control a wireless environment, which is determined by a host of factors, many of them random and therefore unpredictable?

Perhaps the most promising solution, right now, is to use reconfigurable intelligent surfaces. These are planar structures typically ranging in size from about 100 square centimeters to about 5 square meters or more, depending on the frequency and other factors. These surfaces use advanced substances called metamaterials to reflect and refract electromagnetic waves. Thin two-dimensional metamaterials, known as metasurfaces, can be designed to sense the local electromagnetic environment and tune the wave’s key properties, such as its amplitude, phase, and polarization, as the wave is reflected or refracted by the surface. So as the waves fall on such a surface, it can alter the incident waves’ direction so as to strengthen the channel. In fact, these metasurfaces can be programmed to make these changes dynamically, reconfiguring the signal in real time in response to changes in the wireless channel. Think of reconfigurable intelligent surfaces as the next evolution of the repeater concept.

Keep Reading ↓Show less