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Saturday, 28 February 2009

Mobile Advertisement may help industry achieve salvation

I have blogged in past that mobile advertisement industry will probably grow and its the same feeling that has tempted companies like Nokia to jump in this arena. Unfortunately the latest news is that Nokia is planning to cut its workforce in the advertisement division:

Just a year after establishing a division dedicated to mobile advertising networks, Nokia has slashed half the UK-based unit's workforce, with the loss of about 30 jobs.

The numbers may not be huge in the context of major vendors' cutback programs, but it is indicative of the gap, in the short term at least, between Nokia's dreams of turning into a web services giant, and the reality of keeping its conventional business ticking over through a downturn.

All is not lost though. As more consumers surf the Web on handsets like the iPhone 3G, the U.S. market for local mobile search will balloon from $20 million in 2008 to $1.3 billion in 2013, according to a report from the Kelsey Group.

The report, "Going Mobile: The Mobile Local Media Opportunity," said only about 20% of U.S. cell phone subscribers are on the mobile Web right now, and only about 5.2 million are doing searches. Because of this, SMS advertising is the dominant form of mobile advertising.

But the firm said habits will change over the next few years, and more mobile data networks will get rolled out. Local search in particular will be a beneficiary, and it's expected to grow in volume from 28% to 35% by 2013.

There is also interesting analysis on Mobile Advertisement market in The Mobile Broadband Evolution whitepaper:

Mobile search ads are billed to create their own sector of business in the advertising space. According to ABI Research (Mobile Search Critical as Search Advertising Races Towards $5 Billion in 2013. ABI Research. 16 April 2008), the market for mobile search ads is projected to jump from $813 million in 2008 to $5 billion in 2013. Over the same period, SMS searches will increase nearly six-fold, from 13 billion to in excess of 76 billion.

Juniper Research expects nearly 1.3 billion users – 30% of the mobile subscriber base – to use local mobile search services by 2013.(Local Mobile Search Finds Favor. Juniper Research. 29 April 2008) Juniper believes that advertising supported local search will be the key to driving this sector, with the caveat that the effectiveness of advertising in this sector will vary widely according to local conditions. The best equipped regions are thought to be Western Europe and North America, as countries within these regions typically have good local digital information suppliers such as Yellow and White Pages, as well as good mapping data. Total mobile search revenues are expected to reach $4.8 billion by 2013 with the caution from Juniper that “advertising overload” might act as a disincentive to consumers.

Every six months, The Mobile Marketing Association updates its global Mobile Advertising Guidelines providing advertising guidelines and best practices necessary to implement mobile advertising initiatives, including mobile web banner, MMS messaging, downloadable applications and mobile TV and video. (Mobile Marketing Association Publishes Updated Global Mobile Advertising Guidelines. Mobile Marketing Association. 28 October 2008.) With guidelines in place, consumers can expect to see more ads on mobile phones. Informa Telecoms & Media projected the mobile advertising industry would be worth $1.72 billion in 2008 and will rise to $12.09 billion in 2013.(Mobile Advertising: Cutting Through the Hype, 2nd Edition. Informa Telecoms & Media. 10 July 2008) According to eMarketer, worldwide spending on mobile advertising reached nearly $2.7 billion in 2007 and was expectedo each $4.6 billion in 2008, rising to $19.1 billion by 2012. (eMarketer: Worldwide mobile ad spending to hit $19.1 billion by 2012. eMarketer. 27 March 2008.) Most ad dollars will go to text messaging; SMS, MMS text-messaging and mobile instant messaging. Mobile email will account for more than $14 billion of the $19 billion total expected in 2012; up from $2.5 billion in 2007. The expansion of display and search advertising on mobile phones worldwide is expected to reach $1.2 billion and $3.7 billion respectively by 2012.

Arthur D. Little predicts that in the coming years, mobile advertising is poised to be the next major digital media platform for brands to reach customers, and the key telecoms players have a great deal to gain from bringing their services to the market early. (Little, Arthur D. Report Forecasts 60% Annual Growth in Mobile Advertising over the Next 4 Years. 20 May 2008.) Roughly 60% annual growth in mobile advertising spending over the next four years is predicted in its 2008 report. Future mobile advertising formats will be more interactive and dynamic than online advertising or mobile advertising today, including call waiting, idle-screen advertisements, mobile TV ads, games and voicemail ads. Push ads via SMS/MMS are another traditional option. The Arthur D. Little report cites the Blyk case study: Blyk, a UK-based Mobile Virtual Network Operator, successfully launched large-scale mobile advertising to early adopters with a 29% response rate by using highly defined target groups and user data to achieve such a positive rate compared to .05% response rate for typical online marketing campaigns.

A report from GfK and social network website, Limbo revealed that mobile advertising awareness grew 33% in nine months, suggesting an increased allocation of advertising dollars to mobile formats through the first nine months of 2008. Nearly four out of ten, or 104 million, Americans with a mobile phone recall seeing advertising on their devices between the months of July and September 2008, marking the first time the number of Americans aware of mobile advertising has exceeded 100 million in a three month period. (More Than 100 Million Americans Viewed Mobile Ads in Q3 2008. Cellular-News. 3 November 2008) The most commonly viewed mobile ads were in the form of SMS messages, reaching 60 million consumers – a 42% increase in nine months. The report also noted that although Mobile Web advertising had about half the reach of SMS ads, it also saw strong growth, with 31 million people recalling ads in this format.

A report by Media Analyst Screen Digest examined the emerging market for rich media advertising delivered to consumers via their mobile phone in the form of TV, video, games, user-generated content (UGC) and music. Screen Digest projects the market for rich media advertising on mobile will reach $2.79 billion by 2012, with global mobile TV advertising accounting for the lion’s share at $2.44 billion. By 2012, advertising will account for 20% of mobile TV revenues. The reason for success? More ubiquitous than the PC, the mobile method offers the opportunity to send personalized messages to people in all markets. Advertising sent via mobile phones reaches the recipient directly, wherever they are, at any time and location, offering effective targeting as well as interactivity and consumer engagement. “The potential is huge, and some of the world’s largest companies are vying for control of what they see as the next major advertising medium,” stated David MacQueen, co-author of the report.(Mobile Advertising Using Rich Media Formats. Screen Digest. 29 April 2008.)

Key findings of survey conducted by Transverse and iGR consultancy provided insight to mobile customers’ phone use and their willingness to view advertisements in exchange for discounts to their monthly service bill. “Mobile advertising has taken on many forms, and is generally considered to be obtrusive. But when consumers are given the choice to receive ads and share their usage patterns in exchange for discounts, mobile advertising has the potential to be highly targeted and highly effective,” stated Iain Gillott, President of iGR. (Survey Finds 61 Percent of Mobile Users Would Agree to View Advertising for Discount on Monthly Bill. FierceWireless. 18 November 2008.) Among those surveyed, 46% said that a 25 to 50% discount on their monthly bill was enough of an incentive to provide access to their usage patterns, including browsing, email and texting habits, as well as location – but not personal information such as the content of texts and emails.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Dual-Cell HSPA in Release 8 and beyond

Some interesting developments are ongoing in the 3GPP standardisation from Release-8 onwards. You must be aware that the current bandwidth in UMTS/HSPA is 5 MHz. Since most of the operators generally won bigger chunk of spectrum of contiguous 5MHz band, they can actually combine these chunks to create a larger spectrum and hence increase data rates.

In Release 8 in downlink, it is possible to increase data rates using either a combination of MIMO and 64QAM or dual-cell HSDPA for operation on two 5MHz carriers with 64QAM, data rates reach up to 42Mbps.

In deployments where multiple downlink carriers are available, the new multicarrier operation offers an attractive way of increasing coverage for high bit rates. Rel-8 introduces dual-carrier operation in the downlink on adjacent carriers. This technique doubles the peak rate from 21Mbps to 42Mbps without the use of MIMO – it doubles the rate for users with typical bursty traffic; therefore, it also doubles the average user throughput, which translates into a substantial increase in cell capacity.

You may remember that I mentioned earlier that the operators are not too keen on going for MIMO for non-LTE technology. This is because they will have to upgrade their hardware and the antennas which could increase their cost significantly for a technology that is not going to be around for long.

Another thing to note before it becomes too confusing is that there are two terms for 'DC' being used right now. One of them is 'Dual Carrier' and other is 'Dual Cell'. In Release 8, the term being used is Dual-Cell for HSDPA which is also known as DC-HSDPA. The Technical specification to follow is 3GPP, TR 25.825 “Dual-Cell HSDPA operation” V1.0.0, May 2008.

The Dual-Cell assumes that both the 5MHz bands are contiguous. If they are not then the better term to refer for DC is Dual-Carrier.

A dual-carrier user can be scheduled in the primary serving cell as well as in a secondary serving cell over two parallel HS-DSCH transport channels. All non-HSDPA-related channels reside in the primary serving cell, and all physical layer procedures are essentially based on the primary serving cell. Either carrier can be configured to function as the primary serving cell for a particular user. As a consequence, the dual-carrier feature also facilitates an efficient load balancing between carriers in one sector. As with MIMO, the two transport channels perform hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ) retransmissions, coding and modulation independently. A difference compared to MIMO is that the two transport blocks can be transmitted on their respective carriers using a different number of channelization codes. In terms of complexity, adding a dual-carrier receiver to UEs is roughly comparable to adding a MIMO receiver. Because the two 5MHz carriers are adjacent, they can be received using a single 10MHz radio receiver, which is already be available if the UE is LTE-capable.

Following the introduction in Release 8 of dual-carrier operation in the downlink, 3GPP is now discussing operation on multiple 5MHz carriers. Multiband operation of multiple carriers allows a single user to simultaneously aggregate and use the spectrum distributed over different bands. This gives operators greater fl exibility when using available spectrum. Increasing the number of carriers that UEs receive from two to four doubles the peak rate and achievable user throughput. For bursty traffic, this translates into substantially greater capacity, either as a larger number of users at a given data rate, or as a higher data rate for a given number of users. To substantially boost spectral effi ciency, 3GPP is studying the combination of dual-carrier operation and MIMO with 64QAM in the downlink, thereby doubling the peak data rate to 84Mbps. Similarly, they are studying the combination of MIMO, 64QAM and up to four downlink carriers to support peak data rates of more than 100Mbps. The support for UE reception on two frequency bands is an enabler to DC-HSDPA for operators who do not have adjacent 5MHz carriers available in one band, and is therefore of key importance for the further evolution of multi carrier HSPA.

As a consequence of increased data rates in downlink, the uplink data rates need to be improved too. From the aggregation of multiple FDD downlink carriers, the paired FDD uplink carriers can be utilized for improved uplink transmissions. 3GPP studies the usage of two adjacent 5MHz carriers for dual carrier uplink transmissions (DC-HSUPA) supporting data rates of up to 23Mbps. A further benefit of utilizing two uplink carriers is the possibility to support more efficient load balancing in the uplink direction.

In summary, uplink multicarrier operation increases availability as well as coverage of high data rates in the uplink.

In Conclusion, Rel-8 defines improvements in HSPA to achieve higher rates through dual carrier or combined 64QAM+MIMO operation. With the Rel-8 specification nearing completion (targeted for March 2009), planning is already under way in 3GPP for Rel-9 and Rel-10. Further multi-carrier and MIMO options are being explored for HSPA in Rel-9 and Rel-10

If you want to explore this topic further see:

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Mobile broadband to get cheaper

The operators have now got an opportunity to get out of this rat race of constantly upgrading their networks. An article in Broadband Genie mentioned that because of recession operators may delay upgrading their network. The situation reminds me of the time when 3G rollouts were announced.

The operators who spent billions on 3G spectrum didn't seemed very keen on rolling out a network and except '3' which was a greenfield operator in many European markets, most operators took their time to roll out 3G. Those operators have now caught up with others in HSPA rollouts. The same situation is likely to occur in LTE rollouts.

The interesting thing that we have to remember though is that when 3G was being rolled out, there was only one main existing technology called GSM and people used to use dialup connections and we were not hooked on broadband. Now there are many competing technologies vying for the broadband users. We have WiMAX that will be the main competitor and iBurst and WiFi is very common as well. WiFi is free or is available at really low rates, the difficulty being to find one. Recently Inmarsat launched mobile broadband via satellite across the whole of Australia so this is another possibility for Mobile broadband.

If you look at all the options above it is difficult to see how the operators will be able to raise the prices. The only option for it is to go down. Its not difficult for them if they price it properly and optimise their networks. Going back to the Broadband Genie article there was an interesting observation:

Broadband Genie believes that, while pricing models are certainly going to change, it may not be a bad thing for everyone, as heavy users will be charged for the amount they download and less bandwidth intensive consumers may see prices fall.

So in the long term the prices of broadband will come down but at the same time there will be more applications requiring mobile internet use thus increasing our appetite to consume more and maybe the prices will increase for those heavy users. In the meantime enjoy your mobile broadband.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

"Upskirting" with mobiles

First there was Sexting and now I came across Upskirting. Apparently hundreds of thousands of photographs taken up unsuspecting women's skirts being posted online, the practice of 'upskirting' is clearly on the rise.

It is impossible to judge how many women have been victims of upskirting, though a quick internet search yields hundreds of sites with hundreds of thousands of images. And there may be millions more pictures on phones and laptops that have never been shared. They have been taken in the street, on escalators in shopping centres, on trains, at bus stops and in supermarkets, schools, offices and nightclubs.

Upskirt photography is also routinely used by paparazzi photographers. Usually taken as a woman steps out of a car, "crotch shots" are prized by newspapers such as the Daily Sport and countless gossip and porn websites. While it is often assumed that a handful of celebrities, such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, actively encourage upskirt shots, many famous women are deeply upset by the prospect. In a recent interview, the Harry Potter actor Emma Watson described how, on a night out to celebrate her 18th birthday, "I realised that overnight I'd become fair game." (The rules that govern photographs of people under 18 are stricter than those for adults.) "One photographer lay down on the floor to get a shot up my skirt ... The night it was legal for them to do it, they did it. I woke up the next day and felt completely violated by it all."

There are endless web forums where "amateur" upskirters can exchange tips on how to get the "best" pictures. One was posted by a man who had made a "cam-bag" - a holdall with a specially made pocket with a hole in it for a digital video camera lens. Another writes: "Never forget to shoot their faces before or after to know which girls the ass belongs to ... After the first 50 asses, they look very similar and you lose most of the fun. After upskirting them, either step back and wait for them to turn or step by them and shoot direckly [sic] sidewise." Another poster, who says he operates "mostly at theme parks and tourist hotspots, or really anywhere that draws a large crowd of spectators and cameras", walks around until he finds "an attractive young lady, preferably a teen for my tastes, and then I evaluate the situation." He will often sit down next to a young woman and surreptitiously film her while pretending to fumble for new camera batteries in his bag.

On yet another site, one man posts: "I've been upskirting chicks, mostly at clubs, for almost two years. The club I go to is a great spot, real crowded, strobe lights going, loud music, so no one notices me sitting near the edge of the dance floor and if a woman in a skirt ends up by me I stick the cam under and snap."

In this country (UK), there is no specific legislation against upskirt photography, though it is covered by other laws. "If the person being photographed is in a place which would reasonably be expected to provide privacy in the circumstances, it may amount to the offence of voyeurism under the Sexual Offences Act 2003," says Linda Macpherson, a lecturer on law and expert on legal aspects of photography. "A person convicted of this offence may also be placed on the sex offenders register."

It could also come under the criminal offence of "outraging public decency". Macpherson cites the 2007 case of Simon Hamilton, a barrister, who was convicted after secretly filming up the skirts of women in supermarkets. "He appealed on the basis that, as none of the victims had been aware of the filming and no one else had seen it, public decency could not have been outraged. However, the court of appeal held that it was sufficient that the lewd act had occurred in a public place, and that there were at least two persons present capable of seeing it even if they had not actually seen it."

Repeat offender Andrew Mackie was this month jailed for one year for taking photographs of women in Sunderland and Durham city centres, and breaching a sexual offences prevention order which forbade him from owning a camera after he was convicted of similar offences in 2006.

A lesser sentence, however, was given to Guy Knight, a former chartered accountant from Seaford in East Sussex. He took photographs up women's skirts on trains over a five-month period while commuting to work. He was caught after suspicious passengers reported him to the police. More than 200 illicit images were found on his phone and laptop. Ten of the women in the pictures were traced by police, none of whom were aware they'd been photographed. Last year, he was fined £500 and ordered to pay £500 costs. Detective Constable Bob Cager was reported to have been "extremely disappointed - we thought he would have received a heavier sentence".

While the image of the "Peeping Tom" may seem quintessentially British, upskirting is not confined to the UK. In the US, where many of the images posted on the internet were taken, a recent incident led to a change in one state's law. In Oklahoma in 2007, charges against a 34-year-old man, who had been arrested for kneeling behind a 16-year-old girl in a shop, placing a camera under her skirt and taking a photograph, were dismissed after an appeals court concluded that "the person photographed was not in a place where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy". But in response to local outrage, the law was extended, making the photography of another person without their consent for "prurient, lewd or lascivious purposes" illegal.

In Japan, upskirting is so rife that all mobile phones sold now make a sound that cannot be turned off when a photograph is taken. And several Australian states have specific laws banning upskirt or down-blouse photography.

For women who have become aware of such pictures being taken of them, "it can be extremely distressing," says a spokesperson from Victim Support. "The sense of violation can be the same as with other forms of sexual assault. We would encourage anyone who has been a victim to contact us." Parkinson says of her experience, "I felt unsettled, targeted, and helpless; there was nothing that could be done about what had happened, and nothing I could do to prevent it from happening again."

The "defence" used by some upskirters is that since the majority of shots are taken without the woman's knowledge, and there is usually no way she can be identified to the wider public, there is no "victim". But Sasha Rakoff, director of Object, a group that campaigns against the objectification of women, says it is symptomatic of the perceived notion that women's bodies are public property. "You see upskirt shots on the front of the Sport newspaper and lads' mags, which consistently promote Peeping Toms by printing pictures of readers' girlfriends, and glamour models in "private" settings, such as the shower. Is it any wonder that men - equipped with the latest, cheap and readily-available 'mobile spyware' - then enact real-life voyeurism?

"Whatever barriers might exist to being a Peeping Tom have been comprehensively eroded by the male-orientated media, while men who already had no qualms over this form of sexual invasion are routinely vindicated in their belief that such behaviour is acceptable."

Friday, 13 February 2009

Off on Holidays

Off on holidays, so:
  • No new posts
  • No news comments approved

See you in a week and bit.

Whitepaper: Mobile Broadband Evolution

3G Americas has released this new paper that can be downloaded from here.

An extract of what it contains from its preface:

This new 2009 paper, The Mobile Broadband Evolution: 3GPP Release 8 and Beyond provides detailed discussions on the HSPA+ enhancements in Rel-8 as well as the EPS, EPC and LTE architecture, features/capabilities and performance estimates. The paper also addresses 3GPP planning for Rel-9 and Rel-10 content which has already begun. In addition to further enhancements to Evolved HSPA or HSPA+, Rel-9 will be focused on features that enhance upon the Rel-8 EPC/LTE capabilities in areas such as location, emergency and broadcast services, support of CS over LTE, Home NodeB/eNodeB architecture considerations (i.e. support for femtocell type applications) and IMS evolution. Further, a new study item in 3GPP will define evolution of the LTE technology to meet IMT-Advanced requirements (called LTE-Advanced), at the same time as work is commencing on the above Rel-9 enhancements. 3GPP recognizes the need to develop a solution and specification to be submitted to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for meeting the IMT-Advanced requirements, and therefore, in parallel with Rel-9 work, 3GPP is working on the LTE-Advanced study item which is likely to define the bulk of the content for Rel-10. The white paper The Mobile Broadband Evolution: 3GPP Release 8 and Beyond includes discussion of Rel-10 and what requirements will officially define "4G" technologies with the significant new technology enhancements to EPC/LTE for meeting the very aggressive IMT-Advanced requirements.

3GPP Humour with MIMO ;)

TSG-RAN WG1 Meeting #56 R1-091041
Athens, Greece, 9 – 13 February, 2009

Source: MIMO Very Late Session
Title:
Text proposal for TR36.814 on M.I.M.O.
Agenda Item:
12
Document for:
Text Proposal


During offline discussion after the parallel session on Agenda Items 12.3 and 12.4, the very late session attendees arrived at the following text proposal for inclusion into TR 36.814.

--- Start text proposal ---
Annex B1: M.I.M.O. (Informative)

B1.1 Scope

The following section describes the M.I.M.O. approach and is best understood in conjunction with the tune of the song “Y.M.C.A.” performed by Village People played in the background.

B1.2 Lyrics

U-E, when your channel looks fine,
I said, U-E, give the network a sign,
Which means, U-E, give a high C-Q-I,
To report what you have measured.

U-E, there is data for you,
And two codewords,
I think they may come through,
So let's put them onto different ports
And use spatial multiplexing.

In other words it is M-I-M-O.
In other words it is M-I-M-O.
You don't need M-L-D,
There are plenty of ways,
Manufacturers have a choice ...

M-I-M-O.
In other words it is M-I-M-O.
Two antennas you need,
Four by four is agreed,
And your throughput can be so high!

U-E, can you see the Node-B?
Come on, U-E, should it do T-x-D?
Alamouti is a simple approach.
But you've got to know this one thing!

Node-B is not serving just you.
I said, Node-B, has a whole cell to do,
And at cell-edge there's no M-I-M-O
'Cause the S-I-N-R is low.

You cannot always do M-I-M-O.
You cannot always do M-I-M-O.
Two R-x ports you have
So you still can combine,
And the coverage should be fine ...

M-I-M-O.
It's good for you to use M-I-M-O.
Two antennas you need,
Four by four is agreed,
And your throughput can be so high!

U-E, if you want to transmit,
I say, U-E, MI-MO isn’t legit,
You will have to wait for L-T-E- A,
Where RAN-1 will make it okay.

That’s where the decisions are made,
And where many MI-MO sessions run late,
So that Dirk says: ‘Juho will you take care
Of this bunch of loopy people?’.

It's fun to standardize M-I-M-O.
It's fun to specify M-I-M-O.
You don't need M-L-D
There are plenty of ways,
Manufacturers have a choice ...

M-I-M-O.
It's fun to specify M-I-M-O.
When your channel looks fine,
Give the network a sign.

M-I-M-O.
Then just go and do M-I-M-O.
Can you see the Node-B?
Should it do T-x-D?

M-I-M-O.

--- End text proposal ---

LTE UE Modes of Operation

From 3GPP TS 24.301, section 4.3:
UE mode of operation
A UE attached for EPS services may operate in one of the following operation modes:
- PS mode of operation: the UE registers only to EPS services;
- CS/PS mode 1 of operation: the UE is CS fallback capable and configured to use CS fallback, and non-EPS services are preferred. The UE registers to both EPS and non-EPS services; and
- CS/PS mode 2 of operation: the UE is CS fallback capable and configured to use CS fallback, and EPS services are preferred. The UE registers to both EPS and non-EPS services.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

E-books readers: Good or Bad?

Quite a shocking news item from Guardian:

My iLiad ebook reader is sleek and beautiful. It's a pleasant object to hold, and with its useful page-turning bar, one-handed reading is simple. The matt non-backlit screen is easy on the eye, the design is elegant and unfussy, and it is simple to make notes in the text using the stylus, or to make the font larger or smaller. Perhaps my attachment to the physical form of the book was a little childish. After all, the words are the same whatever format I read them in, and surely it's the words that matter.

It's been striking to me how many book-lovers can immediately see the use of an ebook reader. I've taken my iLiad to writers' gatherings, book launches and meetings with editors. The very people I'd have expected to resist it - bookish people, who both read and write a lot - are the people who have looked at it, played with it, cooed over it and said decisively, "I need one of these." If these people take to the ebook reader with ease, the future of books may indeed be electronic.

And will this be a good thing for the environment? It's hard to judge. A report by the US book industry study group last year found that producing the average book releases more than 4kg of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - that's the equivalent of flying about 20 miles. Then there's the cost of warehousing and transport to consider and the waste and toxic chemicals produced by paper mils.

What about the electronic alternative? While the digital books themselves have a relatively low impact - recent figures suggest that transferring one produces around 0.1g of CO2 - there are other factors to take into account. Charging the reader and turning virtual pages all have an energy cost, as does turning on your computer and downloading a file. Even so, the balance may still favour the hi-tech alternative. A 2003 study by the University of Michigan concluded that "electricity generation for an e-reader had less of an environmental impact than paper production for the conventional book system".

The heaviest burden, though, will be in making the reader itself. If one were to buy an ebook reader, then keep it for 30 years, the impact would be small. But many electronic devices don't last that long, and with the constant advances in processing power and functionality it's unlikely that we would want to keep a single ebook reader as long as we might keep a book.

Disposal of electronic items is extremely problematic. More than 6m electronic items are thrown away in the UK every year, and the cadmium from one discarded mobile phone is enough to pollute 600,000 litres of water. Even recycling electronic equipment - or processing them into constituent parts - isn't without environmental damage. A recent study by Hong Kong Baptist University examining the environment around a Chinese village intensely involved in e-waste recycling, showed that lead levels in the area - including schools - were raised to an extent that might be dangerous. Paper books are, at least, eventually biodegradable, while ebook readers might pose a lasting environmental problem.

Read the complete article here.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Mobile TV: Any Luck?

Mobile TV, once touted as 'the technology' does not yet seem to be having any luck.

Mobile television suffered another setback when the U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to delay the broadcast airwaves' long-planned transition to all-digital services from Feb. 17 to June 12, a move that effectively forces Qualcomm to postpone plans to increase its MediaFLO TV footprint until early summer. Qualcomm previously said it would turn on FLO TV service in more than 40 additional U.S. cities on Feb. 17, an expansion timed to coincide with a federal law mandating that all full-power television stations must terminate analog broadcasting on that date. The transition to digital television frees up the 700 MHz spectrum auctioned last year by the FCC--Qualcomm spent more than $500 million acquiring eight licenses during the auction, and hopes to serve about 200 million potential mobile TV subscribers in more than 100 U.S. markets by the close of 2009. But with the Nielsen Company estimating that 6.5 million American households remain unprepared for the switch to digital TV, and Congress mulling a stimulus package that includes as much as $650 million in financing for coupons to ease the transition, Qualcomm must now sit tight for four additional months.

According to a report from Nielsen Mobile, only 5% of all U.S. cell phone owners subscribe to a mobile TV service. Yet that number is the highest out of of all the other worldwide markets tracked by the company. Only France and Italy came close, each at 4 percent. According to Nielsen, mobile video use isn't more prevalent due to lack of differentiating capabilities, high cost, and lack of compelling content. In fact, we are now even seeing mobile video's plateau - a point where you would normally expect to see adoption slow considerably.

In the U.S., 10.3 million mobile phone subscribers watch video content on their mobile phones each month. These clips from mobile web sites, subscriptions delivered by the carrier, or through mobile "live" TV programming. But the mobile video subscription market has barely grown during the past year. In Q3 2007 it was at 6.4 percent and by Q3 2008 it was only 7.3 percent. And only 26% of subscribers who paid for mobile video services during the third quarter of 2008 used them at least once a month.

The Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC), announced that a new mobile DTV service will soon arrive in 22 U.S. cities, covering 35% of U.S. television households. The mobile service aims to provide live, local and national over-the-air digital television to mobile devices.

Included in the service are 63 stations from the 25 major broadcasters that are on board. Those include NBC Television, Gannett Broadcasting, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Fox Television, Belo Corp., Grey Television, Scripps Television, Hearst Argyle Television, ION Media Networks and Lin Television.

This mobile TV service may succeed where others have failed because it bypasses the carriers altogether. Instead, the service uses an ATSC broadcasting system to beam signals directly from the station to the mobile devices themselves. This unburdens the carriers from having to support the data transmissions - they just have to sell the phones.

If France doesn't decide to go down the DVB-H route, there are many who think that could signal the end of the road for the mobile broadcast standard in most European markets
According to one industry commentator, there's a lot riding on the French. Our source, who would rather not be named, thinks that if the French market does not decide to follow the DVB-H standard this year, then that could be the end for the mobile broadcast standard in the region as a whole.


Certainly, the signs have not been good elsewhere - and the industry is dogged by accusations of self-interest. For example, despite operator pressure, Nokia, which sits on 40-50% market share in most European markets, has not moved as fast as the industry had hoped to push DVB-H and DRM technology into its handsets.

According to the head end vendors, and this is a surprisingly widely held view, the issue has been that Nokia has tried to tie the sale of its network infrastructure to the development of its handset range.

"Nokia is saying, give us the head end, and we will give you the handsets," one competing vendor told us.

The China Digital Television Terrestrial Broadcasting (DTTB) System Standard, also known as GB20600-2006, became the mandatory national DTTB standard in August 2007.

GB20600-2006 was designed to deliver a consistent, high-quality digital TV viewing experience no matter where consumers are sitting: in their living room watching television or on a high-speed train watching shows on their cell phones. The technology can broadcast audio and video at transmission rates of greater than 24 Mbps to consumer devices. Because the mobile reception capability is inherently built into the standard, these consumer devices now have a mobile TV feature that works not only when stationary, but even while traveling at speeds greater than 200 km per hour.

The China television market is in the midst of a broadcast revolution because of this new free-to-air terrestrial DTV standard. GB20600-2006 is spurring station owners to broadcast HDTV signals to TVs and set-top boxes, creating a market opportunity that is larger than any other in the world. With 380 million television households, China is home to more televisions than any other country in the world. And nearly 70 percent of those households receive their programming via roof-top antenna.

At the same time, the GB20600-2006 standard is creating a significant new market for mobile TV services. There are more than 600 million cell phone subscribers in China and nearly seven million new mobile phones are purchased each month. Now that the free-to-air HDTV broadcast signal has become a reality, manufacturers of cell phones and other handheld mobile devices are rushing to incorporate mobile TV reception into their products.

Technical details are available here.

China also has its mobile specific TV standard called the CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting). Leading mobile TV chip-maker Siano Mobile Silicon's CMMB receiver chip, the SMS1180, has been selected to power CMMB mobile TV for leading Chinese phone-makers ZTE, Tianyu, CEC Telecom and MP3/4 giant AIGO.

The number of mobile TV subscribers in Korea grew by almost 60% in 2008 following aggressive marketing campaigns and the Beijing Olympics, reports the Yonhap News Agency.

The number of DMB users totalled 17.25 million at the end of 2008, up 59.9% from a year earlier, according to the Terrestrial-DMB Special Committee. South Korea started the world’s first DMB service in 2005, operated through terrestrial and satellite broadcasts.

According to the committee, which represents six service carriers, 15.4 million terrestrial DMB devices, including mobile phones, were sold as of the end of 2008, up 70% from the previous year. The number of subscribers to the satellite platforms (S-DMB) rose 45% annually to 1.85 million last year.

Telegent Systems announced that it has shipped more than 20 million mobile TV receivers since it launched the products in 2007.

The TV receivers have been rapidly adopted by consumers who want to watch the same TV on their mobiles that they enjoy on their home TVs.

Telegent’s receivers use the existing broadcast infrastructure, and allow consumers to watch local programming.

Telegent’s latest success is a deal with Telefónica Móviles Perú, to bring mobile TV to Telefónica’s ZTE i766 handset.

In order to continue its rapid growth, Telegent is expanding into the PC TV market in 2009 and adopting the digital standard DVB-T.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

OFDM and SC-FDMA



OFDM has been around since the mid 1960s and is now used in a number of non-cellular wireless systems such as Digital Video Broadcast (DVB), Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB), Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) and some of the 802.11 family of Wi-Fi standards. OFDM’s adoption into mobile wireless has been delayed for two main reasons. The first is the sheer processing power which is required to perform the necessary FFT operations. However, the continuing advance of signal processing technology means that this is no longer a reason to avoid OFDM, and it now forms the basis of the LTE downlink. The other reason OFDM has been avoided in mobile systems is the very high peak to average ratio (PAR) signals it creates due to the parallel transmission of many hundreds of closely-spaced subcarriers. For mobile devices this high PAR is problematic for both power amplifier design and battery consumption, and it is this concern which led 3GPP to develop the new SC-FDMA transmission scheme.

The LTE downlink transmission scheme is based on OFDM. OFDM is an attractive downlink transmission scheme for several reasons. Due to the relatively long OFDM symbol time in combination with a cyclic prefix, OFDM provides a high degree of robustness against channel frequency selectivity. Although signal corruption due to a frequency-selective channel can, in principle, be handled by equalization at the receiver side, the complexity of the equalization starts to become unattractively high for implementation in a mobile terminal at bandwidths above 5 MHz. Therefore, OFDM with its inherent robustness to frequency-selective fading is attractive for the downlink, especially when combined with spatial multiplexing.

Additional benefits with OFDM include:
• OFDM provides access to the frequency domain, thereby enabling an additional degree of freedom to the channel-dependent scheduler compared to HSPA.
• Flexible bandwidth allocations are easily supported by OFDM, at least from a baseband perspective, by varying the number of OFDM subcarriers used for transmission. Note, however, that support of multiple spectrum allocations also require flexible RF filtering, an operation to which the exact transmission scheme is irrelevant. Nevertheless, maintaining the same baseband-processing structure, regardless of the bandwidth, eases the terminal implementation.
• Broadcast/multicast transmission, where the same information is transmitted from multiple base stations, is straightforward with OFDM.

For the LTE uplink, single-carrier transmission based on DFT-spread OFDM (DFTS-OFDM) is used. The use of single-carrier modulation in the uplink is motivated by the lower peak-to-average ratio of the transmitted signal compared to multi-carrier transmission such as OFDM. The smaller the peak-to-average ratio of the transmitted signal, the higher the average transmission power can be for a given power amplifier. Single-carrier transmission therefore allows for more efficient usage of the power amplifier, which translates into an increased coverage. This is especially important for the power-limited terminal. At the same time, the equalization required to handle corruption of the single-carrier signal due to frequency-selective fading is less of an issue in the uplink due to fewer restrictions in signal-processing resources at the base station compared to the mobile terminal.

In contrast to the non-orthogonal WCDMA/HSPA uplink, which also is based on single-carrier transmission, the uplink in LTE is based on orthogonal separation of users in time and frequency. Orthogonal user separation is in many cases beneficial as it avoids intra-cell interference. However allocating a very large instantaneous bandwidth resource to a single user is not an efficient strategy in situations where the data rate mainly is limited by the transmission power rather than the bandwidth. In such situations, a terminal is typically allocated only a part of the total transmission bandwidth and other terminals can transmit in parallel on the remaining part of the spectrum. Thus, as the LTE uplink contains a frequency-domain multiple-access component, the LTE uplink transmission scheme is sometimes also referred to as Single-Carrier FDMA (SC-FDMA).

Via: 'Agilent Whitepaper' and '3G evolution'.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Microscope in your Mobile

Hair and Skin photographed with a mobile phone

Picked this up from Tomi via Forum Oxford:

Steve Litchfield of All About Symbian has coined the term 'Megapixel Microscopy', which is the process of using a high resolution cameraphone, in its native photography mode, to take pictures of tiny items, then to use the normal 100% size display on the cameraphone, as effectively a strong magnifying glass (or conversely a low-power microscope) to magnify the item.

Steve has some more interesting images on his website here.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Patent leaders of 2008

Interesting post in rediff about top 10 patent leaders of 2008:
  1. IBM: It has become the first company to earn more than 4,000 US patents in a single year. IBM plans to increase by 50 per cent the number of technical inventions it publishes annually instead of seeking patent protection. This will make these inventions freely available to others. IBM, which earns about $1 billion annually from Intellectual Property, owned 3,125 patents in 2007. It now has a total of 40,000 patents.
  2. Samsung: ranked second in the world in terms of patents. It comes close to IBM with a total of 3,515 patents
  3. Canon: with over two thousand patents comes third in the list. It received 2,114 patents in 2008. Canon has established itself as a technology leader as it continues to be among the top five companies awarded US patents every year.
  4. Microsoft: ranked 4th in the list of patent leaders. It won 2,030 patents in 2008
    Microsoft has been criticised for applying for patents of pre-existing technologies.
  5. Intel: with 1,776 patents is ranked fifth in 2008.
  6. Panasonic: Matsushita now known as Panasonic Corp comes sixth in the list with 1,745 patents. Panasonic's vision is to build products 'in harmony with the environment'. Panasonic makes products that can be easily used by people with disabilities also.
  7. Toshiba: Toshiba is ranked seventh with 1,609 patents.
  8. Fujitsu: with 1,494 patents is ranked 8th in the list.
  9. Sony: Sony is ranked 9th in the world top patent leaders' list. It received 1,485 patents in 2008. However, Sony expects biggest-ever operating loss of $2.9 billion as the global economic crisis has led to a fall in demand for televisions, cameras and video game consoles.
  10. HP: Hewlett-Packard is ranked 10th in the list of top patent holders. HP received 1,424 patents in 2008.
Intersting to see one South Korean and four Japanese companies among the top 10 list. Its just matter of time before some Chinese and Indian companies will break through the list.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Battle for ebooks on mobiles heating up

It seems that the new mantra for this month maybe 'ebooks on mobiles'. First the mobile operator '3' launched its ebook service. To be honest they have audio books as well as e-books. The only problem IMHO is the pricing which is between £5 and £10 for the complete book. There is also a possibility to download extracts for £1. Generally people in UK who want to read extracts, read them at the newsagents or bookshops for free during their Lunch time so I will be amazed if this service proves popular.

Amazon has said that books that Amazon.com Inc. sells for its Kindle electronic reading device will also be available on cell phones, too. Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said Friday that the Seattle-based online retailer is working on making Kindle books available "on a range of mobile phones." The company is not yet saying when the books will be available, or on which phones.

Another e-book provider, Mobipocket, which is owned by Amazon, already sells titles that can be read on numerous smart phones.

Google has launched its Book Search service for mobile phones, featuring novels by Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, as a challenger to Amazon's Kindle device. The internet giant has made the original text of 1.5m books available to be accessed for free via iPhone or Android phones. A spokesman for Google's book search mobile team said, "We believe we've taken an important step towards more universal access to books."

Experts said they expected an online battle for the market. Stuart Miles, of gadget website Pocket Lint, said: "Google has obviously seen how Amazon dominated the online selling of real books, and wants to stop that happening again. By offering free, out-of-copyright books they can instantly offer this huge library.

"Google's approach is also very clever because it is costing them very little, as they don't have to develop their own hardware."

Of course you can always download books on your windows devices and they can be read via PDF readers ;)

Indigo Books & Music Inc. believes strongly that the market for e-books is hitting critical mass, and, most important, that consumers will want to read e-books anytime, anywhere. Which is why the multi-channel retailer next month will launch Shortcovers, a mobile and conventional web destination for free and paid electronic content ranging from books and magazines to newspapers and blogs.

Shortcovers, Indigo Books & Music tells Internet Retailer, is a new division of the company with its own e-commerce infrastructure. Shortcovers in February will launch its web site and a mobile application for the iPhone. IPhone users can download the free program in Apple’s App Store. They create an account and profile through the mobile app or at Shortcovers.com that will enable them to search, browse and download e-books in numerous file formats, most significantly the publishing industry’s ePub standard. Indigo will introduce mobile applications for smartphones using the BlackBerry, Android and Symbian mobile operating systems, in that order, but did not specify a timeline.

Friday, 6 February 2009

MIMO schemes in LTE



SU-MIMO (Single User MIMO)

•This is an example of downlink 2x2 single user MIMO with precoding.

•Two data streams are mixed (precoded) to best match the channel conditions.

•The receiver reconstructs the original streams resulting in increased single-user data rates and corresponding increase in cell capacity.

•2x2 SU-MIMO is mandatory for the downlink and optional for the uplink

MU-MIMO (Multiuser MIMO)

•Example of uplink 2x2 MU-MIMO.

•In multiple user MIMO the data streams come from different UE.

•There is no possibility to do precoding since the UE are not connected but the wider TX antenna spacing gives better de-correlation in the channel.

•Cell capacity increases but not the single user data rate.

•The key advantage of MU-MIMO over SU-MIMO is that the cell capacity increase can be had without the increased cost and battery drain of two UE transmitters.

•MU-MIMO is more complicated to schedule than SU-MIMO


Thursday, 5 February 2009

100% secure Zumba Lumba Phone to be available soon

Its a really catchy name and I may just buy it because of the name ;)

Rather than being developed by one of the world's large, well known handset manufacturers, the Zumba is being developed by IA Technologies, based in Hereford in the UK, using the brand name, Zumba Lumba.
It is being touted as potentially revolutionising the industry, due to what its makers claim is the world’s most accurate voice recognition system.

The Zumbafone could be available by the end of this year, according to reports.

The innovation is a circular pad that can be placed over the ear and detaches from a small handset that contains a circular dial pad and screen. Simply removing the earpiece pad from the handset activates a connection to the internet. You then simply say the name of a contact to dial a number or send a text. When you receive a text it can them be read out to you.

No contact information is stored on the handset itself, with all data being held ‘in the cloud’, which the makers say makes the phone 100 per cent secure. As it is fully tied to voice recognition, the claim is that if lost, the phone cannot be used by anyone else.

The phone is aimed as a low cost, or secondary phone, so eschews features such as high resolution screen and camera.

Low cost, simple and a refreshing new way to communicate

Unlike any other mobile phone or phone service

Designed and developed to become a real and exciting alternative

An everyday phone, or simply a back-up phone, Zumba strips away the complexity and expense of heavily featured handsets and introduces a fresh new way of making calls. Zumba does away with the need to remember phone numbers - you simply say your contact’s name and Zumba will connect you.

Because the Zumbafone is so exceptionally light and small it can be worn. As you can see from the pictures, it has a detachable keypad and screen which means you can wear it by slipping it over your ear.

Zumba has already been in development for three years and is in the final stages of development this year. We are looking forward to bringing our service to market and making its many benefits available to all.


You can watch Youtube video of ZumbaLumba:



GSM: Architecture, Protocols and Services




There is a new book on GSM in the market. Now it makes me wonder that since we are all focussing on 3.6G, 3.75G, 3.9G, 4G, etc., etc. what would be the point of a GSM book?

The following is from the preface of the book:

The GSM family (GSM, GPRS, EDGE) has become one of the most successful technical innovations in history. As of June 2008, more than 2.9 billion subscribers were using GSM, corresponding to a market share of more than 81%, and its story continues, even now, despite the introduction and development of next-generation systems such as IMT-2000 or UMTS (3G) and even systems beyond 3G, dubbed IMT-Advanced.

At the same time, wireless local area networks have substantially expanded the wireless market, sometimes drawing market share from GPRS and 3G (e.g. in public WiFi hotspots), sometimes coexisting (e.g. in UMTS home routers used as a replacement for fixed wire connections). However, these are used typically for low mobility applications. Mobile communication with all of its features and stability has become increasingly important: cellular and GSM technology, plus, of course, lately 3G, GSMs sister technology, so-to-say.

Another impressive trend has emerged since our last edition: the permanent evolution in the handheld market, producing fancy mobile phones with cameras, large memory, MP3 players, Email clients and even satellite navigation. These features enable numerous nonvoice or multimedia applications, from which, of course, only a subset is or will be successful on the market.

In this third edition, we concentrate again on the architecture, protocols and operation of the GSM network and outline and explain the innovations introduced in recent years. The main novelties in this book are the presentation of capacity enhancement methods such as sectorization, the application of adaptive antennas for Spatial Filtering for Interference Reduction (SFIR) and Space Division Multiple Access (SDMA), a detailed introduction to HSCSD and EDGE for higher data rates, and an update of the available GSM services, specifically introducing the Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS).

I think that GSM is going to be the fallback option for most of the new technologies due to its worldwide deployment so now is the time for us to brush up our GSM concepts


Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Advances in Underwater Wireless Communications



The IEEE Communications Magazine, January 2009, has a interesting section on Underwater Wireless Communications for those who may be interested.

Underwater networks of sensors have the potential to enable unexplored applications and to enhance our ability to observe and predict the ocean. Unmanned or Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (UUVs, AUVs), equipped with underwater sensors, are also envisioned to find application in exploration of natural undersea resources and gathering of scientific data in collaborative monitoring missions. These potential applications will be made viable by enabling communications among underwater devices. UnderWater Acoustic Sensor Networks (UW-ASNs) will consist of sensors and vehicles deployed underwater and networked via acoustic links to perform collaborative monitoring tasks.

The single most killer application for Underwater Wireless Communication would be in disaster prevention. Sensor networks that measure seismic activity from remote locations can provide tsunami warnings to coastal areas, or study the effects of submarine earthquakes (seaquakes).

There are major challenges in the design of underwater acoustic networks that include:

• The available bandwidth is severely limited;
• The underwater channel is impaired because of multipath and fading;
• Propagation delay is five orders of magnitude higher than in Radio Frequency (RF) terrestrial channels, and variable;
• High bit error rates and temporary losses of connectivity (shadow zones) can be experienced;
• Underwater sensors are characterized by high cost because of a small relative number of suppliers (i.e., not much economy of scale);
• Battery power is limited and usually batteries cannot be recharged;
• Underwater sensors are prone to failures because of fouling and corrosion.

There has been intensive research on MAC protocols for ad hoc and wireless terrestrial sensor networks in the last decade. However, due to the different nature of the underwater environment and applications, existing terrestrial MAC solutions are unsuitable for this environment. In fact, channel access control in UW-ASNs poses additional challenges due to the peculiarities of the underwater channel, in particular limited bandwidth, very high and variable propagation delays, high bit error rates, temporary losses of connectivity, channel asymmetry, and extensive time-varying multipath and fading phenomena. Existing MAC solutions are mainly focused on Carrier Sense Multiple Access (CSMA) or Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA). This is because Frequency Division Multiple Access (FDMA) is not suitable for UW-ASN due to the narrow bandwidth in UW-A channels and the vulnerability of limited band systems to fading and multipath. Moreover, Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) shows a limited bandwidth efficiency because of the long time guards required in the UW-A channel. Furthermore, the variable delay makes it very challenging to realize a precise synchronization, with a common timing reference.

The next challenge is to select a routing protocol from a range of protocols that will work in the best manner with the MAC solution selected.

Another challenge is to select the correct transport layer protocols. A transport-layer protocol is required to achievereliable transport of event features and to perform flow and congestion control. Most existing Transport Control Protocol (TCP) implementations are unsuited for the underwater environment because the flow control functionality relies on window-based mechanisms that require an accurate estimate of the round trip time (RTT).

If you dont have access to IEEE Comms Mag then you can still read one of the papers online here.

Story of two Femto's from opposite end of the world

Verizon (USA) wireless introduced a femtocell product officially and have called it as "mini-cell site". Made by Samsung this will retail at $250+. The big advantage with this is that the phone calls that originate/terminate on "mini-cell site" would be free. The big problem is that this cell only serves voice but not data. So no faster data or any enhanced data services on this one. Maybe that is in the pipeline...

On the other side of the world, in Singapore, Starhub had launched the first "commercial" femtocell service called "Home-zone" back in Nov. It has received positive review in Telecom TV Wireless 3.0 article.

All I had to provide in advance was provide my cable modem MAC address and the phone numbers of the mobiles that would be used in the house (up to four). As soon as theHuaWei femtocell was connected it was recognised by the network it immediately took over from the nearest base station (about 300 metres away) by ‘shaking hands’ with the two mobile phones in our house.

The only noticeable difference was that my handset (a 3GiPhone) showed the StarHub network name and unique cell number. My wife’s phone (an HTC running Windows Mobile) thought it was roaming and only displayed the symbol for that function. I am told that newer Nokia phones actually state they are connected to a Home Zone service. Presumably, as femtocells become more common there will be a standard way of indicating connection. This notification is pretty important as I will explain later.

Previously on one side of the house I had good service to the network, on the other almost none. I found it quite clever that as I walked outside through the doors on either side of the property, the connection switched to the main network. I doubt if this was planned and was most likely coincidental, but it continues to amaze me how clever it is to do that. If the signal was much stronger then the Home Zone service could be subject to abuse. Apart from the differences mentioned above, and just in case I don’t notice the cell ID on my handset, as a call is made a comforting voice lets me know that I am making the call from my Home Zone. I thought this might become annoying but it is comforting to know that I’m connecting via the femtocell and saving my valuable package minutes.

In fact, all calls made from my fixed line (via cable) service, are also free but as my mobile plan comes with a number of free minutes and SMSs included each month, these are not decremented when I connect via the femtocell. Of course, the international segment of my calls are NOT provided free! I spent some time chatting with StarHub’s billing specialists to see how they handled my femtocell or Home Zone calls.

As expected, each call had a unique femtocell identifier and this determined how the call would be handled in the billing system.

It also allows for some creative plans and billing by operators hoping to capture extra market share using femtocell technology.

By the way, if a call is instigated on the Home Zone network and I move outside of the femtocell's range, the call is handed off to the main network but continues to be zero rated. A nice feature I thought. However, calls started on the main network are NOT handed off to thefemtocell, if you happen to already be on a call as you arrive home. That would create quite an interesting billing scenario I suspect.

So, what’s in it for the service provider? Firstly, I am charged a nominal fee of SG$16 (US$11) per month for the use of the femtocell and I suspect that this covers the cost of the unit I was provided with. Considering that I have two digital home services over the cable network also offered by StarHub (a free service if you are also a cable TV customer), then why would I want to pay for the new access method?

Well, I guess I won’t need those two other phone lines any more and will, like many others, use my mobile number as my primary and only contact point in the future. So StarHub loses two lines that earn them no revenue and I get the same free service via my mobile phone and we both win.

Where this does make a big difference is that customers of StarHub’s main competitor, SingTel, who still pay a monthly subscription for their dial up service, may be tempted to swap to StarHub and get the same service via their mobile phone. There will be thousands of permutations of how femtocells can be used for competitive advantage across all markets, but this is just one. This is as ‘sticky’ as it gets!

Of course, I am doing StarHub a great favour as well. If you consider that I pay for my broadband access and that all my home zone calls and data traffic go down that route, I have eased some burden on Starhub's wireless network. If enough people swap to femtocells this could provide a dramatic reduction in 3G/HSPA network traffic.

And when you consider that backhaul costs keep increasing this is great news for operators and should reduce the need for continuously expanding wireless infrastructure.And what about those customers who have poor or marginal coverage in their home or apartment? Femtocells are exactly what they need. As femtocell production numbers increase their cost will also drop and they may be given away free to high ARPU prospects and customers.

Like all new technologies, StarHub discovered some early glitches that have since been remedied. Enterprising early adopters worked out that they could take their femtocell with them and simply plug into a broadband ethernet port anywhere in the world and make calls to Singapore for free on their mobile phones! This has now been corrected and the femtocell must be connected directly to the StarHub network to be recognised.

Early femtocells also had difficulty with the hand-off to and from external cells and with automatically varying signal power as the handsets came closer to the femtocell. Working closely with the equipment vendor StarHub has ironed out most issues and the latest femtocells appear to be efficient and reliable.

Operators like StarHub see this technology as a complementary and an effective tool to attract and maintain customers ahead of their competitors. They also see femtocells as an avenue to push promotions and offers to customers over the air, and they may become quite a weapon in capturing key customers in one very tough market. If all their customers have the same experience as me, femtocells will be a big winner.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

LTE Status: Jan 09 updates

According to this news, Verizon Wireless says that the Next-Gen 'LTE' Wireless Network Still On Track For 2010 Launch:

Despite a tanking economy and a potential delay getting access to the spectrum Verizon bought in last year's FCC auction, the telco says it's still on track to roll out its next-generation wireless network next year.

On the company's earnings call today, Verizon COO Denny Strigl said he's still hoping LTE will be commercially available in the first half of 2010, with in-house testing to begin later this year.

Meanwhile in Sweden, Swedish telecommunications operator TeliaSonera has signed contracts towards the launch of an 4G high-speed wireless network in 2010, saying it aims to be one of the first with an LTE network up and running.

TeliaSonera said on Thursday it had signed up Ericsson to construct its initial Stockholm LTE (the Long Term Evolution of 3G) network, and Huawei for the initial Oslo network. Both equipment makers said it was their first commercial LTE contract.

The telco said it is still evaluating suppliers for further LTE networks across Sweden and its other markets.

Monday, 2 February 2009

No cancer risk due to phones but maybe due to the masts

One of the recent studies dispelled the myth that phones can cause melanoma or eye cancer:

Regular mobile phone use does not appear to increase a person's risk of getting a type of cancer called melanoma of the eye, German researchers said on Tuesday.

The study involving about 1,600 people detected no link between the time a person spent using a cell phone over about a decade and their chances of developing melanoma of the eye, they wrote in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The findings contradicted an earlier, smaller study by the same researchers that had raised concern about such a link.

Melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer that can spread quickly. It arises in cells that produce the pigment called melanin that gives skin its color. The eyes also have cells that produce melanin. Melanoma of the eye is rare. The condition also is called uveal melanoma.

The issue of whether long-term use of cell phones can cause cancer, in particular brain tumors, has been a hot topic, but most studies examining the matter have found no such association.

In the other news, Barack Obama has turned to a Midland anti-mobile phone mast campaigner to help the fight against cancer.

Eileen O’Connor, as a founder member of the Radiation Research Trust, has led the battle against the relentless growth of mobile phone masts and technology for the past seven years.

And now the US President’s cancer panel, set up by Obama to research the possible links with both nuclear and electro-magnetic radiation, has asked Eileen for her views on the issue.
The trust has supported widespread research into the possible dangers of mobile and wireless radiation and campaigns for the technology to be made safer.


Eileen said: “Obama’s panel has launched an information gathering exercise and I was invited to provide evidence. While I am not building up my hopes, I am delighted the issue is being taken seriously by the President.

“President Obama recently said science is about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology.

“It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient and I welcome this approach.”

The evidence gathered by the panel will be considered in drawing up advice to the new President on measures needed to be taken to improve the health of Americans.

Any steps taken are likely to be considered around the world.

Eileen first suspected a link between mobile phone masts and cancer when the arrival of a mast in her home village of Wishaw, near Sutton Coldfield coincided with a cluster of cancer cases, including her own.

The campaign hit the headlines in 2003 when the mast was pulled down in the middle of the night and residents blockaded the site to stop it being replaced.

The Radiation Research Trust funds and draws together scientific research from around the world and lobbies government to adopt a more cautious approach to mobile technology.

A key theory is that it is the electromagnetic radiation frequency, and not intensity or power of the signal, which can cause the damage. It is also thought that some people are more sensitive to the effects than others.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Mobile Backhaul Networks and their Load

These are self explanatory slides on Mobile Network Backhaul presented by Professor Steve Ferguson, Head of Market Strategy, Product Area Broadband Networks, Ericsson in the LTE World Summit last year.