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Wires Are Unusual Twist to Project AirGig’s Wireless Service

AT&T Inc. says that it has been experimenting with a way to deliver very fast wireless service with the help of common, garden-variety power lines.

Project AirGig would offer data service at multigigabit speeds, the Texas-based carrier said on Sept. 20.

A person tapped into a network slinging 1 gigabit of data per second could download 25 songs in less than a second, a television show in three seconds or a high-definition movie in less than 36 seconds.

AT&T (NYSE: T) said its AirGig technology requires no direct electrical connection to the power line. Instead, engineers send a modulated radio signal around or near medium-voltage power lines.

So far, AT&T says the technology works in the lab. Field trials are set for 2017. The business said its service would be low-cost and suitable for rural and underserved areas. AT&T said that it has developed low-cost hardware (including plastic antennas) to go with the system.

“This technology will be easier to deploy than fiber, can run over license-free spectrum and can deliver ultra-fast wireless connectivity to any home or handheld wireless device,” the company said in a statement.

The company said its AT&T Labs unit has more than 100 patents and patent applications related to its AirGig technology.

AT&T added that utility companies might find the technology valuable to keep tabs on their infrastructure.

• • •

Charter Rolls Out Spectrum Name: What used to be Time Warner Cable is now operating under the Spectrum brand, according to new owner Charter Communications Inc. Connecticut-based Charter (Nasdaq: CHTR) bought Time Warner and Bright House Communications for a reported price of $71 billion, closing the sale in May. The company announced the launch of its Spectrum brand in San Diego County on Sept. 20. The business also said that its minimum internet speed will be 100 megabits per second.

The combination of Charter, Time Warner and Bright House will create a company serving more than 25 million customers in 41 states, Charter said.

In other news, Charter is eyeing the wireless telecom business. It could get in with an option it has to operate on Verizon’s network, according to a report in FierceCable.

• • •

Layoffs Reported at Sony: The only details I have are from a state report, but Sony reportedly told the California Employment Development Department that it laid off as many as 40 employees from a San Diego facility. Layoffs were permanent and effective Sept. 14, according to the EDD report. The affected business unit was Sony Computer Entertainment America. A Sony representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent Sept. 28.

• • •

Gonna Fly Now: This next piece of news is low-tech, though it has a few tekky twists such as crowdfunding and 3-D printing.

The makers of the Garbage Can Fly Trap, developed in Pacific Beach, recently offered me a progress report on their innovation.

You’ll remember that a SPAWAR engineer and an MBA created their trap in response to the profusion of flies at San Diego’s beaches. A Kickstarter campaign in fall 2015 brought in $13,000 worth of orders, which entrepreneurs Joylyn and Dennis Darnell are filling now.

Their trap attaches to the lid of a garbage can, harnessing the power of the can’s aroma to draw flies. The six-legged pests enter the trap and get stuck on the adhesive sides of a disposable paper cartridge. Once a cartridge is full, the trash can owner presses a button on the trap, and the cartridge drops into the can. There is nothing gross to touch.

With Kickstarter funds, the couple was able to hire an engineering firm to fine-tune the design for production. The fly trap went from a 24-piece, 3-D printed prototype to a four-piece version suitable for injection molding.

A Fox News account of the trap caught the attention of Du Chen, a UC San Diego student from China, who contacted the Darnells and suggested they use her family’s business for production. In May, the Darnells traveled to China with their young son to see the first fly traps come off the line.

The trap is now available at Ace Hardware on Turquoise Street in Pacific Beach and through mail order. The Darnells say San Diego City Hall has given the OK to put the fly trap on its garbage cans, but I have not verified that, so modify your city-issued can at your own risk.

• • •

Short Takes: San Diego-based Voxox said it joined a second company, Saudi Arabia-based Virtustream-MENA, to distribute cloud phone service in the Middle East and North Africa. … San Diego-based Cubic Corp. said it opened an operations center to help customers of its transportation services business all over the globe. The call center is at Stockton-on-Tees in the United Kingdom. Cubic shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol CUB.

Send San Diego technology news to bradg@sdbj.com.

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