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Why February 25 is the most important day of MWC (or maybe not)

Officially, 2018’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) starts on February 26, but for many attendees, the day of greatest anticipation is a day earlier, February 25. Why? Because that’s when we finally get to know the new Samsung Galaxy S9.

Not everyone believes that the presentation of the latest member of the Galaxy family is the most important thing at the show, however. “We don’t focus on device launches as something essential for our show,” explained Michael O’Hara, CMO of the GSMA — the trade group that organizes the MWC show — in an interview with Digital Trends Espanol. Although O’Hara noted that the organization is very happy with launches like the Galaxy S9, he pointed out that there was no event of this magnitude last year, and does not consider that the strength or success of the Mobile World Congress.

Objetivos del #MWC2018 : mas #Negocios , mas #mujeres y mas #Seguridad , sin olvidarnos del nuevo #GalaxyS9 https://t.co/6PfLIV9coD pic.twitter.com/GGbacBTrEY

— DT en Espanol (@DigitalTrendsEs) February 21, 2018

In fact, what takes place in Barcelona is something else. It’s about doing business, business, and more business. “The MWC is successful because industry leaders, regulators, and governments come and do their business,” he stresses. And in that sense, the figures that accompany MWC show their importance.

In addition to some 2,300 exhibitors, 170 international delegations and 108,000 attendees, it also entails the creation of 13,000 temporary jobs and an economic impact of 471 million Euros. In fact, since 2006, the MWC has generated 4.4 million Euros and created of 115,000 part-time jobs. Not bad!

Possible change of venue? It’s obvious therefore that the mere possibility of a change of headquarters would be a great loss for Barcelona, Catalonia, and Spain in general. But at the present the GSMA has an agreement with these three parties (city, state, country), so Barcelona remains the headquarters of MWC — at least until 2023.

Whether that changes will depend above all on one thing: “that you can guarantee a safe environment for the event.” Despite the secession vote and subsequent protests that have taken place recently in the Catalan capital, and the strong independence movement that still live and breathe in all of Catalonia, the truth is that this requirement is illogical. Despite everything, for the GSMA, “the city of Barcelona works very well, and we want it to continue being headquarters,” O’Hara clarifies.

What is expected this year at MWC are fewer interventions of super-known industry leaders such as Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg or Google CEO Sundar Pichai — events that were present at previous MWC events and drew great publicity and press. The motive? “This year we’ve decided to make things a little different.

We wanted to have leaders from more emerging industries. Focus on technologies that can make a difference and that can change the world, “O’Hara explains. More female presence and greater security

Likewise, in order to change things, the MWC of 2018 will have a greater female presence in terms of the participant speakers, as well as the attendees to this technology fair. “Twenty-five percent of our speakers are women this year,” said O’Hara, who wants the show to be a little more diverse. But that’s not the only thing that worries O’Hara. Therefore, to avoid a recurrent problem during the MWC, this year will increase the security during the event.

Thefts are a daily issue in Spain,especially in Barcelona. However, the organization is working and collaborating closely with local authorities to increase the police presence with special attention this year. All for the purpose of allowing entrance to the event only to authorized persons, and to try to have fewer reports on thefts. “It’s not possible to eliminate crime, but to try to reduce the number of reports,” concludes the GSMA’s marketing director.

Our predictions MWC expects to reap the same success as past shows in 2018 — and indeed, to exceed it in some ways. No doubt, that will be thanks to events such as Samsung and the presentation of its Galaxy S9, along with the announcements and novelties of other important industry players such as Huawei, LG and HTC, to name a few — even if it is not the priority for the GSMA.

There is a lot of excitement and many curious and experts are ready to see what is happening and what comes out of this Mobile World Congress.

Whether or not they will meet expectations, we’ll know soon enough.

But if you want to know in advance with a little more detail the ads on phones and other devices that we hope, do not miss our predictions.

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The Galaxy S9 arrives in stores on March 16, says report

The Galaxy S9 will be revealed on Feb.

25.

Samsung

We know the Galaxy S9 will be unveiled on Feb.

25, but how long until you can actually hold one in your hand? Not too long, reports The Investor, which claims the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus will go on sale across the globe March 16. But if waiting 19 days after the phone is announced seems unbearable, you may be able to get the phone early.

Preorders for the Galaxy S9 may go live on Feb.

28 in Korea, according to the report. It also claims that people who preorder the Galaxy devices may receive it between March 9 and March 15, a few days before the phone lands in stores. The report cites Korean telecom carriers, which apparently already have an official preorder and release schedule from Samsung.

We couldn’t independently verify this information with Samsung — Samsung declined to comment on this story — but as the Galaxy S9 unveil draws closer, concrete dates may have already been set in stone. Last year the Galaxy S8 was first announced on March 29, but it wasn’t until April 21 that it first went on sale in places like South Korea, Canada and the US. Other countries like Australia and the UK didn’t get the S8 until April 28, while markets like Japan and South Africa didn’t get the phone until June.

While we don’t know for sure when the Galaxy S9 is rolling out to each country, if the reported dates are true it could mean less waiting for some. The Galaxy S9 will be unveiled the day before the international mobile tradeshow Mobile World Congress. Samsung’s Galaxy S phones are the most popular Android devices out there, and the S9 could give other premium phones like Apple’s iPhone X some stiff competition.

Be sure to stay tuned to CNET as we cover Mobile World Congress live and look out for official details on the Galaxy S9.

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Mobile World Congress 2018

How SpaceX plans to bring speedy broadband to the whole world

Musk has said next-generation SpaceX rockets could launch large satellites — or perhaps a number of small ones.

SpaceX

After a third delay, Thursday is now the day SpaceX plans to launch two small prototype satellites aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, the beginning of what Elon Musk and his company hope will be a new way of connecting humanity. The launch was initially planned for Saturday, but was delayed twice to allow additional time for systems check and a third time due to high-altitude winds on Wednesday. Also along for the ride into orbit is the larger Paz telecommunications satellite, but all eyes are on the smaller satellites, named Microsat-2a and Microsat-2b.

The project has been relatively secret by SpaceX standards, but is currently known as Starlink and amounts to a new kind of satellite broadband internet service provider. Most other satellite internet services, like Viasat or HughesNet, rely on a handful of big satellites in geostationary orbit, over 22,000 miles (35,000 kilometers) above Earth. Signals and data travel back and forth between those satellites and customers’ satellite dishes, as well as larger ground stations on Earth, to bring the internet into the homes of hundreds of thousands of customers, often in rural locations with few other options.

Traveling all those thousands of miles from high orbit can cause high levels of latency when using satellite internet, as anyone who’s ever Skyped over such a connection will tell you. Things like real-time video calls and gaming can become difficult when there’s lag and delay in the line from data having to travel to space and back over and over again. So the idea behind Starlink is to use satellites at a much lower orbit to cut down on all that lag time.

Sounds great, but there’s a catch. Because the satellites will be much closer to the surface of the Earth, they’ll only be able to “see” far smaller areas, so a much greater number of them will be required to cover the whole planet.

A figure from SpaceX’s application to the FCC.

Federal Communications Commission/SpaceX

SpaceX has declined requests to elaborate on the project, but Musk did acknowledge that the test satellites are aboard the Falcon 9 in for the first time in a tweet Wednesday morning. The company’s application to the Federal Communications Commission outlines its plan to begin by deploying an army of 4,425 small satellites in low Earth orbit between 1,100 kilometers (684 miles) and 1,325 kilometers (823 miles) above us. Once the first 800 satellites in this constellation are up and running, that will be enough “to provide initial US and international coverage for broadband services,” the company says in its FCC application. “Deployment of the remainder of that constellation will complete coverage and add capacity around the world.”

But that’s not all. Once its low Earth orbit constellation is up and working, SpaceX hopes to launch an even larger flock of satellites, 7,518 of them to be exact, at an orbit of around 340 kilometers (211 miles) in altitude. SpaceX says this “VLEO constellation” would provide added capacity where it’s needed around the world, “enabling the provision of high speed, high bandwidth, low latency broadband services that are truly competitive with terrestrial alternatives.”

SpaceX isn’t the only company hoping to operate a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbit. Globalstar and Iridium have operated dozens of satellites for voice services at that altitude for many years, and Starlink competitor OneWeb already has approval for a constellation of several hundred broadband satellites. But Musk’s plan is arguably more ambitious by an order of magnitude. To make this audacious plan work, SpaceX has more emerging tech it will include on each satellite, in the form of lasers allowing them to communicate and coordinate with each other.

The launch of the first two Starlink test satellites “fires the starting pistol on laser communications use in space to provide connectivity for even the most remote places on Earth,” said Markus Knapek, an engineer and board member for laser communications company Mynaric. For their part, OneWeb and other competitors have filed their concerns with the FCC that SpaceX’s massive Starlink constellations will endanger other satellites in orbit. SpaceX has responded that its plan meets all safety standards and allows for adequate buffers of space between other satellites. Even still, over 10,000 satellites makes for an awful lot of space debris.

SpaceX says in its application that it will deorbit satellites nearing the end of their useful lives, which it says should be roughly five to seven years. That means the satellites will be steered into Earth’s atmosphere where they will burn up many years earlier than what’s required by international standards. Getting all those satellites up and flying doesn’t happen overnight, however.

SpaceX has so far just received FCC approval to launch the two test satellites. Its application for the larger Starlink project is still before the FCC, where Chairman Ajit Pai has given the plan his public endorsement. Even with a stamp of approval from the FCC, more approvals will be needed, including from the International Telecommunication Union.

All this means you won’t be jacking into SpaceX’s network anytime soon. In fact, Musk says the full service probably won’t be up and running until the middle of the next decade, just in time for it to help fund his other audacious plans, like sending us to Mars to give Starman a space high five. First published Feb.

20, 1:32 p.m. PT. Update, Feb.

21 at 11 a.m. PT: Changes launch date and adds confirmation of the test satellites from Musk.

Technically Literate: Original works of short fiction with unique perspectives on tech, exclusively on CNET.

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

Star Wars robots like R2-D2, C3PO could help you in real life

BB-8 poses with its best side front.

Lucasfilm

If you find yourself in dicey situations like those faced by Poe Dameron and Han Solo with your trusty robot companion at your side, you might find a series of high-pitched beeps and tones like R2-D2‘s helpful. That’s the conclusion of Robin Murphy, Texas A&M University professor of computer science and engineering. Murphy considered whether the beloved robots R2-D2 and BB-8 from the Star Wars universe would be feasible in real life and found the Hollywood mechs actually have some practical features beyond just advancing an often convoluted narrative, especially when it comes to communication.

She published her findings Wednesday in the journal Science Robotics. “The beeps and whistles project mental state, e.g., disagreement with whatever C3PO is nattering about, disapproval of a main character’s dubious decision, and frustration at being thwarted in its job of helping the protagonist save the world,” Murphy explains. “In real life, (roboticist) Robin Read has found that the types of beeps and whistles that facilitate the rebel-droid interaction can be effectively used by real robots in engaging children and adults.”

But when it comes to getting around, the design of BB-8 turns out to be less realistic, especially for navigating the sands of Jakku as seen in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” “Anyone who has driven a car on a beach knows how quickly wheels can become buried in the sand and spin in place,” Murphy writes, going on to cite the work of other scientists like Georgia Tech’s Dan Goldman, who performed experiments with the Sphero BB-8 SB© toy on sand to see how it did.

You can see one such experiment in the video below. While Murphy acknowledges a SB© toy is different from an actual robot, it still demonstrates how BB-8 was clearly conceived more for a particular storyline than an actual setting. Still, Murphy says Star Wars droids have had a very real influence on real-world robotics, pointing out that NASA’s personal satellite assistant was inspired in part by Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber training droid and Robonaut 2 aboard the International Space Station bears a certain resemblance to C3PO.

Murphy fails to chime in on the potential influence of some of the more effective battle droids, like the freaky Droidekas from “The Phantom Menace.” No worries, though. I think Elon Musk may have some thoughts on the risks of combining those type of droids with artificial intelligence that we can all heed instead.

Crowd Control: A crowdsourced science fiction novel written by CNET readers.

Solving for XX: The tech industry seeks to overcome outdated ideas about “women in tech.”

This $1,000 Joker bust is absolutely terrifying

This bust of the Joker wants to stare you down this October.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

The Joker is Batman’s most infamous rival, and this insanely sinister bust shows off his crazy with just a stare. The statue, designed by special effects make up creator Rick Baker, is part of the DC Gallery line from DC Collectibles and was all lit up at SB© toy Fair 2018 in New York. Baker has brought science fiction creatures to life in everything from 1977’s “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” to 2001’s “Planet of the Apes” and all three “Men in Black” films.

Pulling back a bit, the Joker sports a green bow tie and the top of his purple suit.

Mike Sorrentino/CNET

For the Joker, Baker highlights the characters wrinkly forehead, disheveled eyes and stained teeth that are shaped into a twisty grin.

It will sell for £1,000 this October in a limited release where just 200 will be available for purchase.

While international pricing was not available, that roughly converts to GBP715 and AU£1,270.

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SB© toys: See all of CNET’s SB© toy coverage in one place.

Tech Culture: From film and television to social media and games, here’s your place for the lighter side of tech.

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