Sprint Introduces HPUE Wireless Range-Extending Technology

Today's topics include Sprint’s new High Performance User Equipment wireless technology, Microsoft and Harman Kardon’s partnership to develop a Cortana-based intelligent home assistant, IBM’s report that 70 percent of businesses hit by Ransomware attacks choose to pay off the cyber-criminals, and Microsoft’s try-and-buy program for the Surface Hub white board computer.

The number three mobile carrier unwrapped High Performance User Equipment technology on Dec. 13 that is says will extend the coverage of its 2.5 GHz spectrum up to 30 percent. Specifically, HPUE closes the coverage gap between the carrier’s mid- and high-band spectrum.

Sprint led the development of HPUE in conjunction with the Global TDD LTE Intitiative and a range of mobile suppliers including China Mobile, SoftBank, Qualcomm, Samsung, ZTE, Broadcom, MediaTek, Skyworks Solutions, Alcatel, Motorola, LG and Qorvo Software.

Sprint is owned by SoftBank. With the announcement, Sprint said its network is ready for the initial roll-out of HPUE, including in its 250 LTE Plus markets. Samsung, one of Sprint’s most important ecosystem partners, is expected to support HPUE in devices slated for commercial launch in 2017.

The Amazon Echo and Google Home digital assistants will soon get new competition from Microsoft. Intelligent assistants are all the rage and today during an artificial intelligence (AI) media event in San Francisco, Microsoft announced the Cortana Devices SDK.

It allows electronics manufacturers to incorporate the software giant's AI-infused virtual assistant into their devices. One of the earliest adopters is Harman Kardon, audio equipment maker.

Microsoft and Harman Kardon released a brief teaser video, offering glimpses of a speaker that accepts voice commands. Microsoft said the SDK "will carry Cortana's promise in personal productivity everywhere and deliver real-time, two-way audio communications with Skype, Email, calendar and list integration" in a Dec. 13 announcement.

In a security study released on Dec. 14, IBM reported that 70 percent of businesses impacted by ransomware, end up paying the ransom.

IBM is going a step beyond just reporting on ransomware, with a new Dynamic Playbook for Ransomware capabilities in its Resilient Incident Response platform.

The 23-page IBM Security study, which surveyed 600 business leaders and 1,021 consumers in the U.S., found that 46 percent of business respondents reported that they had experienced ransomware in their organizations.

Of the 46 percent that have been impacted by ransomware, 70 percent admitted that their organization paid the ransom. The amount paid to ransomware attackers varies, but of those business respondents that paid a ransom, 20 percent paid over $40,000, 25 percent paid between $20,000 and $40,000 and 11 percent paid $10,000 to $20,000.

Microsoft's giant screen Surface Hub white board computer is a big technology investment. At nearly $21,999 for the 84-inch model and $8,999 for the 55-inch version, businesses are justified in performing a thorough evaluation before outfitting their conference rooms and other meeting spaces with the device.

This winter, Microsoft is allowing enterprises to do just that with the Surface Hub Try-and-Buy program. "We will enable a select set of our resellers to provide customers [with] Hubs for 30 days before the committing to purchasing a large set of devices," said Brian Hall, corporate vice president of Microsoft Devices Marketing, in a Dec. 12 announcement.

"This will launch in US and European Surface Hub markets this winter and in Asia Pacific at a later date."