Wednesday, 30 September 2009
In a field just outside the village of Bumwambu in eastern Uganda, surrounded by banana trees and cassava, with chickens running between the mudbrick houses, Frederick Makawa is thinking about tomatoes. It is late June and the rainy season is coming to an end. Tomatoes are a valuable cash crop during the coming dry season and Mr Makawa wants to plant his seedlings as soon as possible. But Uganda’s traditional growing seasons are shifting, so he is worried about droughts or cash foods that could destroy his crop. Michael Gizamba, a local villagephone operator, offers to help using Farmer’s Friend, an agricultural information service. He sends a text message to ask for a seasonal weather forecast for the region. Before long a reply arrives to say that normal, moderate rainfall is expected during July. Mr Makawa decides to plant his tomatoes.
The Farmer’s Friend service accepts text message queries such as "rice aphids", "tomato blight" or "how to plant bananas" and dispenses relevant advice from a database compiled by local partners. More complicated questions ("my chicken’s eyes are bulging") are relayed to human experts, who either call back within 15 minutes or, with particularly diffcult problems, promise to provide an answer within four days. These answers are then used to improve the database.
Farmer’s Friend is one of a range of phone based services launched in June by MTN, Google and the Grameen Foundation’s "Application Laboratory", or AppLab. As well as disseminating advice in agriculture, provided by the Busoga Rural Open Source and Development Initiative, the new services also provide health and market information. The Clinic Finder service points people to nearby clinics, and the Health Tips service explains the symptoms of common diseases.
Lastly there is Google Trader, a textbased system that matches buyers and sellers of agricultural produce and commodities. Sellers send a message to say where they are and what they have to offer, which will be available to potential buyers within 30km for seven days. Mr Makawa says his father used the service to look for a buyer for some pigs, which he sold to pay school fees. These services cost 110 shillings ($0.05) a time, the same as a standard text message, except for Google Trader, which costs double that. In their first five weeks the services received a total of more than 1m queries.
As with the Village Phone project, Grameen is trying to establish a model that can be scaled up and replicated in other countries. Offering agricultural and health information is more diffcult than offering a phone service, however, because such information must be localised and must take cultural di?erences into account.
Grameen’s collaboration with MTN and Google in Uganda is just one of dozens of services across the developing world that offer agricultural, market and health information via mobile phones. In India, for example, farmers can sign up for Reuters Market Lite, a textbased service that is available in parts of India. Its 125,000 users pay 200 rupees ($4.20) for a threemonth subscription, which provides them with local weather and price information four or five times a day. Many farmers say that their profits have gone up as a result.
Tata Consultancy Services, an Indian operator, offers a service called mKrishi which is similar to Farmer’s Friend, allowing farmers to send queries and receive personalised advice. "The rural population is willing to pay substantial subscription fees to get this information multiple times a day", says Kunal Bajaj of BDA. There have been lots of pilot schemes in the past, he says, but commercial offerings are now beginning to gain ground.
Nokia, the world’s largest handsetmaker, launched its own information service, Nokia Life Tools, in India in June. In addition to education and entertainment, it provides agricultural information, such as prices, weather data and farming tips, that can be called up from special menus on some Nokia handsets. The basic service costs 30 rupees a month, and a premium service which provides detailed local crop prices in ten states is available at twice that price. "It is in its early stages, but it has resonated extremely well with its target audience," says OlliPekka Kallasvuo, Nokia’s chief executive.
Services to help farmers have been most widely adopted in China, where China Mobile offers a service called Nong Xin Tong in conjunction with the agriculture ministry, as part of its push into rural areas. It has already signed up 50m users and is aiming for 100m within three years. The service provides news, weather information and details of farming related government policies.
China Mobile also runs a website, 12582.com, that sends farmers information about planting techniques, pest management and market prices. The service, which costs two yuan ($0.30) a month, sends out 13m text messages a day and has over 40m users. There are dozens of other examples across the developing world.
TradeNet, launched in Ghana in 2005, now links buyers and sellers of agricultural products in nine African countries; CellBazaar provides a textbased classified ads service in Bangladesh.
Mobile phones are also being used in health care. Oneway text alerts, sent to everyone in a particular area, can be used to raise awareness of HIV; sending daily text messages to patients can help them remember to take their drugs for tuberculosis or HIV. Mobile phones can be used to gather health information in the field faster and more accurately than paper records and help with the management of drug stocks. Cameraphones are used to send pictures to remote specialists for diagnosis.
Quantifying the benefits of agricultural and health services is hard, and such services are still in their early days in much of the world. The mobile service that is delivering the most obvious economic benefits is money transfer, otherwise known as mobile banking (though for technical and regulatory reasons it is not, strictly speaking, banking). It has grown out of the widespread custom of using prepaid calling credit as an informal currency.
Suppose you want to send money from the city back to your family in the country. You could travel to the village and deliver I’m not selling for that the cash in person, but that takes time and money. Or you could ask an intermediary, such as a bus driver, to deliver the money, but that can be risky. More simply, you could buy a topup voucher for the amount you want to transfer (say, $10) and then call the villagephone operator or shopkeeper in your family’s village and read out the code on the voucher. The credit will be applied to the phone of the shopkeeper, who will hand cash to your family, minus a commission of 10-20%. In some countries, where airtime can be transferred directly from one phone to another by text message, the process is even simpler: load credit onto your phone, then send it to someone on the spot who in return gives cash to your intended recipient.
These methods became so widespread that some companies decided to set up mobile payment systems that allow real money, rather than just airtime, to be transferred from one user to another by phone. Once you have signed up, you pay money into the system by handing cash to an agent (usually a mobile operator’s airtime vendor), who credits the money to your mobilemoney account. You can withdraw money by visiting another agent, who checks that you have su?cient funds before debiting your account and handing over the cash.
You can also send money to other people, who will be sent a text message containing a special code that can be taken to an agent to withdraw cash. This allows cash to be sent from one place to another quickly and easily. The biggest successes in this field so far have been Gcash and Smart Money in the Philippines, Wizzit in South Africa, Celpay in Zambia and, above all, MPESA in Kenya, which has become the most widely adopted mobile money scheme in the world.
Launched in 2007 by Safaricom, Kenya’s largest mobile operator, it now has nearly 7m users. Not bad for a country of 38m people, 18.3m of whom have mobile phones. MPESA’s early adopters were young, male urban migrants who used it to send money home to their families in the country. But it has since become wildly popular and is used to pay for everything from school fees to taxis (drivers like it because it means they are carrying less cash around). Roughly $2m is transferred through the system each day, with an average amount of $20. ?In markets in Kenya, stallholders are happy to take MPESA payments.
"It’s pretty dramatic," says Bob Christen, head of the "Financial Services for the Poor" initiative at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
MTN’s launch of a mobile money service in Uganda in March 2009, in partnership with Stanbic Bank, provides further cause for optimism. MTN backed up its launch with a huge marketing campaign based around the simple idea of sending money home, as Safaricom had previously done in Kenya. After three months 60% of the population had heard of the service, a level of awareness that MPESA took a year to achieve, according to MTN. After four months the service had signed up 82,000 users. Of the $5.1m transferred in that period, half was in the fourth month, indicating a rapid take-off. MTN plans to increase the number of outlets that can handle mobile money to 5,000 by early 2010. MTN’s apparent success in Uganda seems to suggest that Kenya may not be a one-off after all. After fine-tuning its technology and procedures in Uganda, MTN plans to introduce the service in 20 other African and Middle Eastern countries; it has already launched in Ghana. Meanwhile Zain, which operates in several African markets, has started its own mobilemoney service, called Zap. According to CGAP, there will be over 120 mobilemoney schemes in developing countries by the end of 2009, more than double the number in 2008. By 2012, it predicts, some 1.7 billion people will have a mobile phone but no bank account, and 20% of them will be using mobile money.
Operators do not expect to make much money from mobile banking, says Mr Okoudjou, but it can help keep customers from defecting to rivals and cut costs by allowing people to top up their airtime directly on their phones, as well as providing wider social and economic benefits that reflect well on operators. Most importantly, he says, mobile banking can help the industry repeat the huge impact made when mobile phones were first introduced. "This is a second wave that can unleash the potential of mobile phones again," he says. "So we need to do this, and we need to do it properly, and we need to do it all over."
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
There are all kinds of statistics about the number of Femtocells worldwide. There could be upto 70million by 2012. If this happens the big problem would be the interference between Macro and Femtocells and also between Femtos. OFDMA (used in LTE and WiMAX both) Femtocells can handle the interference better than CDMA (UMTS and CDMA2000) Femtocells due to its Intracell interference avoiding properties and robustness to multipath.
So what are the main problems that the operators will face when deploying femtocells? Lets look at some of them:
- Access method: Three different approaches exist namely, Open access, Closed access and Hybrid access which is a mix of both of them. The first two approach has some problems and I have suggested a solution before ;) but the best solution may be to go for Hybrid approach where limited connectivity is available to non-subscribers of the femto.
- Time Synchronisation is another important aspect of OFDMA Femtos. To minimise multi-access interference and for successful handovers, synchronisation between all the Femtos and between Femto and Macro is a must. This should be acheived without any complicated hardware so as to keep the cost down.
- Physical Cell Idendities (PCI) could be a problem because of limited numbers
- Neighbouring cell list, which is restricted to 32 in LTE, could be a problem if too many Femtos are around
- Handovers could also be a problem if the UE keeps jumping between Femtos and macro. One solution could be the use of HCS.
Interference analysis will definitelty play an important part in the rollouts. If not properly managed, could result in dead zones within Macro. Power control Algorithms and Radio Resource Management strategy will help but effective Spectrum allocation technique is needed as well. The diagram above shows different approaches for subchannel allocation in OFDMA femtocells.
The Femtocells would need to be self-configurable and self-optimising. I tried to explain the SON concept earlier which is similar. Self-configuration comes into picture when the Femto is switched on. Once the parameters are adjusted then Self-Optimisation tries to optimise these defaults into something better and more suited to the current environment. Sensing of the environment plays an important part in this. The diagram above shows different approaches being used by different Femtocells. The cheapest approach would ofcourse be the measurement report approach where the phone is made to report the environment. The only problem being that whichever phone was used (automatically selected) will have considerable amount of its battery power used up :)
There is a book that is under publication and will be available early next year. At the same time if it interests you, you can look at some of their publications including the IEEE one that has been quoted here. Here are all the necessary links:
- The Centre for Wireless Network Design
- Professor Jie Zhang homepage
- David López-Pérez, Research Fellow, homepage
- Femtocells World Summit presentation on Self-organisation of the Subchannel Assignment in OFDMA Femtocells
- OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance - IEEE Communications magazine, Sep. 2009
- ICC 2009: Femtocells panel presentation slides
Hope someone finds all this info useful :)
Monday, 28 September 2009
Lets take Case 1: Disaster risk management office in government calls to emergency responder within disaster areas in order to supply temporary service to the disaster areas.
This should not be a problem because the emergency responder is an authorised user with higher priority of access class and will be able to make and receive calls in the disaster area.
Case2: Ambulance attendant reaches a rescue site in the disaster area but cannot find the person who asked for help originally because of unexpected destruction. The attendant should be able to call him/her in order to make sure where he/she is.
These scenarios as such are no problem except when there is congestion on the receiving side. In that case either the emergency attendant or the risk management office should be able to get in touch and establish the call.
This new capability will be available probably when Release 9 is finalised in December this year.
Preferential Emergency Communications: From Telecommunications to the Internet (The Springer International Series in Engineering and Computer Science)
Here is the google books link for that.
Friday, 25 September 2009
In R99, RLC packets had to be relatively small to avoid the retransmission of very large packets in case of transmission errors. Another reason for the relatively small RLC packet size was the need to provide sufficiently small step sizes for adjusting the data rates for Release 99 channels.
The RLC packet size in Release 99 is not only small, but it is also fixed for Acknowledged Mode Data and there are just a limited number of block sizes in UM Data. This limitation is due to transport channel data rate limitations in Release 99. The RLC payload size is fixed to 40 bytes in Release 99 for Acknowledged Mode Data. The same RLC solution is applied to HSDPA Release 5 and HSUPA Release 6 as well: the 40-byte packets are transmitted from RNC to the base station for HSDPA. An additional confi guration option to use an 80-byte RLC packet size was introduced in Release 5 to avoid extensive RLC protocol overhead, L2 processing and RLC transmission window stalling. With the 2 ms TTI used with HSDPA this leads to possible data rates being multiples of 160 kbps and 320 kbps respectively.
As the data rates are further increased in Release 7, increasing the RLC packet size even further would significantly impact on the granularity of the data rates available for HSDPA scheduling and the possible minimum data rates.
3GPP HSDPA and HSUPA allow the optimization of the L2 operation since L1 retransmissions are used and the probability of L2 retransmissions is very low. Also, the Release 99 transport channel limitation does not apply to HSDPA/HSUPA since the L2 block sizes are independent of the transport formats. Therefore, it is possible to use fl exible and considerably larger RLC sizes and introduce segmentation to the Medium Access Control (MAC) layer in the base station.
This optimization is included for downlink in Release 7 and for uplink in Release 8 and it is called flexible RLC and MAC segmentation solution. The RLC block size in fl exible RLC solution can be as large as an Internet Protocol (IP) packet, which is typically 1500 bytes for download. There is no need for packet segmentation in RNC. By introducing the segmentation to the MAC, the MAC can perform the segmentation of the large RLC PDU based on physical layer requirements when needed. The fl exible RLC concept in downlink is illustrated in Figure above.
There is a lot of interesting information in R&S presentation on HSPA. See here.
Main source of the content above and for further information see: LTE for UMTS: OFDMA and SC-FDMA Based Radio Access
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Users should always be kept in the state that gives the best trade-off between data rate availability, latency, battery consumption and usage of network resources. As a complement to the data rate enhancements made to the dedicated state (CELL_DCH), 3GPP has also made significant enhancements to the common states (URA_PCH, CELL_PCH and CELL_FACH). Release 7 introduced HSDPA mechanisms in the common states in order to improve their data rates, latency and code usage. Release 8 introduces corresponding enhancements in the uplink, allowing base stations to configure and dynamically manage up to 32 common Enhanced Uplink resources in each cell.
This enhancement improves latency and data rates for keep-alive messages (for example, from VPN or messenger applications) as well as web-browsing events, providing a seamless transition from EUL in common state to EUL in dedicated state.
As a further improvement of the CELL_FACH state, Release 8 introduces discontinuous reception (DRX), which significantly reduces battery consumption. DRX is now supported in all common and dedicated states.
Enhanced FACH and RACH bring a few performance benefits:
- RACH and FACH data rates can be increased beyond 1 Mbps. The end user could get immediate access to relatively high data rates without the latency of channel allocation.
- The state transition from Cell_FACH to Cell_DCH would be practically seamless. Once the network resources for the channel allocation are available, a seamless transition can take place to Cell_DCH since the physical channel is not changed.
- Unnecessary state transitions to Cell_DCH can be avoided when more data can be transmitted in Cell_FACH state. Many applications create some background traffic that is today carried on Cell_DCH. Therefore, Enhanced RACH and FACH can reduce the channel element consumption in NodeB.
- Discontinuous reception could be used in Cell_FACH to reduce the power consumption. The discontinuous reception can be implemented since Enhanced FACH uses short 2 ms TTI instead of 10 ms as in Release 99. The discontinuous reception in Cell_FACH state is introduced in 3GPP Release 8.
For more information see: LTE for UMTS: OFDMA and SC-FDMA Based Radio Access
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I am not sure what the right answer to this question is? There will be winners and losers in either case.
FCC (Federal Communications Commission) chairman Julius Genachowski has just outlined his much-awaited plan for Internet neutrality. If the plan is approved it would drag the wireless operators in the US into the public regulatory arena occupied by their wired cousins who have recently had to account for their neutrality policies to the FCC.
The proposed policy outlined today by Genachowski will mean the FCC will get to poke and pry into mobile operators' business policies and rule on how well they conform to FCC guidelines on neutrality in the same way that wiredtelcos must. The FCC will also impose new and tighter neutrality behaviour on the big phone companies including Verizon and AT&T.
In detail: Genachowski has reaffirmed the long-standing (since 2005) broadband principles that will now be formalised by the FCC.
- That consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
- That they are also entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
- That they are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
- And that they are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
"The rule-making process will enable the commission to analyse fully the implications of the principles for mobile network architectures and practises, and how, as a practical matter, they can be fairly and appropriately implemented," Genachowski said today.
U.S. phone companies may be forced to open their wireless networks to rival Internet services like Skype and Google Voice under the proposal. The proposal, if adopted, would be a victory for consumer advocates and big Internet companies like Google Inc at the expense of telecom operators like AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications and Sprint Nextel Corp.
"The risk to the wireless carriers is that they won't be able to stop customers from using free voice and text services like Skype or Google voice," said Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett. "Voice and text are where they make all of their money."
The FCC has already been examining why Apple Inc rejected Google Voice for use on iPhone, sold by AT&T.
The new proposal could result in mobile customers cutting their phone bills by opting for minimum carrier voice plans and doing without text-messaging plans if they use mobile voice and text services from Skype and Google.
Piper Jaffray analyst Christopher Larsen downplayed the risk, saying that if they have to, operators would be sure to find a way to change their fees in order to maintain profits.
Advocates of Net neutrality have long argued that service providers must be barred from blocking or slowing Internet traffic based on the content being sent or downloaded.
But service providers say the increasing volume of bandwidth-hogging services -- such as video sharing -- puts pressure on them as it requires active network management, and some argue that Net neutrality could stifle innovation.
AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, said it was concerned about an extension of Net neutrality rules to the competitive mobile industry.
The new regulations would limit consumer choices and "affect content providers, application developers, device manufacturers and network builders," said an executive at Verizon, which owns the No. 1 mobile service with Vodafone Group Plc.
Wireless trade group CTIA, whose members include AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, said it was concerned the proposal would have "unintended consequences." Leading Cable provider Comcast Corp said it was pleased Genachowski "recognized that networks need to be managed."
Exactly my thoughts (but with proper technical terms, language and analysis ;) by Gary Kim in IP Communications:
In the communications business, rationing is a fact of network life. Since virtually every part of a communications network uses shared resources, and in a market where users do not want to pay too much for access to those resources, rationing of network resources is necessary.
Shared finite resources always pose a usage problem. Known as the "tragedy of the commons," the economic problem is that multiple individuals, acting independently, solely and rationally when using a common resource can ultimately destroy the shared limited resource.
Some people argue that this problem cannot exist with the Internet, which is virtually infinitely expansible. But that misses the point. In looking at shared resources, the "commons" is the access network's resources, primarily. In other words, the "choke point" is the homeowner's garden hose, not the reservoir.
Some might argue that IP technology, optics, Moore's Law and competition upend the traditional "scarcity" value of access bandwidth. Certainly it helps. Currently, most consumers have access to two terrestrial broadband providers, two satellite networks, three, possibly four mobile networks. Then, there are broadband pipes where people work, at school and at many retail locations.
Still, there are some physical and capital investment limits, at least at retail prices consumers seem willing to pay. If consumers are willing to pay much more, they can get almost any arbitrarily-defined amount of access bandwidth. That, after all, is what businesses do.
If consumers resist paying business prices, network investment has to be shared more robustly than it otherwise might.
Given that all network resources are shared, resources are finite. To support retail prices that require such sharing, networks are designed in ways that "underprovision" resources ranging from radio ports to multiplexers to backhaul bandwidth. Based on experience, network designers engineer networks to work without blocking or degradation most of the time, but not necessarily always. Unusual events that place unexpected load on any part of the access network will cause blocking.
Blocking, in other words, is a network management technique. And that's the problem the Federal Communications Commission is going to have as it looks at additional "network freedoms" rules commonly known as "network neutrality." The term itself is imprecise and in fact already covered by the existing FCC rules. One might argue the issue is more the definitions and applications of existing rules that require clarification.
The ostensible purpose of the new rules is to prevent access provider blocking or slowing of any lawful applications, but a rule exists for that. Instead, it appears a primary effect of the rules will be to extend wired network rules to wired providers.
Beyond that, policymakers will have to contend with tragedy of the commons effects. If, in forbidding any traffic shaping (a network management technique) in the guise of "permitting the free flow of bits," rulemakers might set the stage for dramatic changes in industry packaging and prices of Internet access and other applications and services.
U.S. consumers prefer "flat rate billing" in large part because of its predictability of cost. But highly differentiated usage, in a scenario where networks cannot be technically managed by any traffic prioritization rules, will lead to some form of metered billing.
If metered billing is not instituted, and if service providers cannot shape traffic at peak hours to preserve network access for all users, then heavy users either have to pay more for their usage patterns, they will have to change their usage patterns, or they might experience some equivalent of "busy hour blocking."
Application providers and "public policy advocates" seem to be happy that new network neutrality rules might be adopted. They might not be so happy if ISPs lose the ability to deny or slow access to network resources. On the voice networks, some actual call blocking is allowed at times of peak usage. Forcing users to redial might be considered a form of traffic shaping, allowing access, but at the cost of additional time, or time-shifted connections.
To the extent that such blocking rules already are impermissible, some other network management techniques must be used. And one way to manage demand is to raise its price, either by increases in flat-rate package prices, by instituting usage-based billing or some other functionally-similar policy.
To avoid the tragedy of the commons problem, in other words, requires raising the end user's understanding of cost to use the shared resource.
Prioritized traffic handling, which assigns users a lower priority in the network once they have reached their fair use level, might be a preferable traffic management technique to slowing any single user's connection, once their individual usage caps have been reached.
When that is done, heavy users experience degradation in service only when competing for resources in a congested situation. For peer-to-peer users, the experienced reduction in throughput will be limited over time.
Only in heavily loaded cells or areas will a peer-to-peer user experience serious issues. Prioritized traffic handling enables operators to focus on dimensioning their networks for normal usage, while still permitting unlimited or "all you can eat" traffic.
Perhaps there are other ways of handling the "rationing," but on a shared network with network congestion, available to users paying a relatively modest amount of money, while a highly-differentiated load being placed on the network by a small number of users, some form of rationing is going to happen.
Perhaps flat rate packaging might still be possible if rationing affects end user credentials, rather than bits and applications or protocols. In other words, instead of "throttling" a user's bandwidth when a pre-set usage cap is exceeded, what is throttled is access to the network itself.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
A non-profit group in the occupied West Bank has started a scheme that uses mobile phone text messaging to help young Palestinians find work.
The group, based in Ramallah, has already registered 8,000 Palestinians on its Souktel system, most of them recent graduates. The system connects them to about 150 leading employers who are looking for staff.
Internet access in the West Bank remains low, reaching about one-third of the population. Most computer use is at internet cafes, which are largely male-dominated domains in what is still a conservative society.
Souktel enables young people looking for work to register by answering a series of simple questions in Arabic through text messages, which are used to create a mini-CV. They then receive regular information about relevant jobs on offer.
It costs little to use apart from a slight premium charged on each text sent. In the same way, employers can post notices about job vacancies and filter applications.
The project comes at a time when despite forecasts of improved economic growth in the West Bank, unemployment still stands at around 20%, with that figure even higher among young people.
The Palestinians are a highly educated population but the Israeli occupation in the West Bank, with checkpoints, roadblocks and frequent restrictions, makes it costly and difficult to travel and do business. Universities rarely offer careers advice.
You don't need an iPhone or to download software. It's just messaging and it works on a phone from 1995.
Souktel, an SMS service based in the Middle East and East Africa, is all about connections. The service, launched in 2006, uses SMS to connect users to everything from jobs and internships to humanitarian aid and youth leadership programs.
The name comes from "souk," the Arabic word for "marketplace," and "tel," or "telephone. Although at least 80 percent of people in Palestine have access to mobile phones, most people have Internet access only in cafés or public places, said Jacob Korenblum, co-founder of Souktel. "Getting information about medical care, jobs, and food bank services can be difficult," he said. And even at Internet cafes, Korenblum said that many people, especially women, lack access to these services. "We wanted to develop a very simple service," he said. "That's how Souktel started."
Korenblum who is Canadian, said that although he has been working in the aid sector since 2000, his personal interest in Palestine began in 2005. "I came to the West Bank to work for an NGO. The main things I realized was that there wasn't so much a lack of aid, but rather a lack of good ways to find out about it." Currently, Souktel is run by a team of six people, four of whom are Palestinian.
Souktel is a combination of two services -- JobMatch and AidLink. JobMatch is an SMS service that connects people seeking jobs with employers. Job seekers can register via SMS with Souktel, and then, through a series of text messages, enter details about themselves into the system. These include location, skills, career interests, and level of education. Whenever the job seeker is looking for a job, he/she can text "match me" to Souktel to receive an instant list of jobs that matches the resume that is already stored in the Souktel system. The job listings include phone numbers so that the job seeker can call potential employers to set up an interview.
Korenblum said that at least 2,000 people use the service each month and the service has about 8,000 total users. In the past year, JobMatch has connected about 500 people with jobs. Users tend to be between the ages of 18 and 25, and the system recently expanded to include internships and volunteer opportunities. In June, about 170 people found jobs using Souktel, but the service’s success is partially reliant on the economy.
Earlier this year, Souktel launched services in the Iraq and Somaliland. In the future, Korenblum hopes that Souktel continues to grow, and could be used to connect people not only with jobs, but with educational programs or health and social services. "SMS is pervasive,” he said. “It is also by far the most cost-effective way for people to get the information they need." He also hopes to continue to share Souktel’s platform. “We've been struggling with it for three years now, and we've arrived at something that works,” he said. “We want to save someone else time in trying to develop it, so they have something that is useful for them.”
If you find this interesting, check out a Souktel presentation here.
Ofcom is trialling a new system to let deaf people access 999 services using text messaging.
The system lets users who can’t speak send a text message to emergency services. Their text is received by 999 assistants and read out to fire, police or other emergency service. A reply is also sent back via SMS.
The trial kicked off earlier this month, with Ofcom asking people to register to test the service. As the trial will use actual emergency messages, it needs enough people to register to get a good feel for how the system is working as most won’t actually have cause to use it.
To register, text “register” to 999; anyone not registered will not be able to use the service.
Ofcom noted that users shouldn’t assume their message has been received until they’ve received a reply, and that anyone sending hoax messages will be prosecuted.
If the trial goes well, the texting system could be in place as early as next year, Ofcom said. It’s being supported by the major telecoms companies, as well as emergency services and the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID).
SMS to the emergency website here.
Monday, 21 September 2009
Friday, 18 September 2009
Source: 3G Americas Whitepaper '3GPP Broadband Evolution to IMT-Advanced (4G)'
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
The mobile browser is one of the most popular in the world because it is available on a variety of devices including Java, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Mobile, and other handsets. It is also able to run on relatively low-end hardware because it uses server-side compression technology to minimize the processing and bandwidth requirements.
"With new sleek navigation buttons, tabbed browsing and Speed Dial bookmarks, you are never more than a click away from where you want to go on the web."
Monday, 14 September 2009
Basically most of the UMTS networks in operation are Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) based. There is also another variant called the Time Division Duplex or TDD. In reality there is more than one variant of TDD, so the normal 5MHz bandwidth TDD is called Wideband TDD of WTDD. There is also another name for WTDD to confuse people, called the High Chip Rate TDD (HCR-TDD). There is another variant of TDD as would have guessed known as the Narrowband TDD (NTDD). NTDD is also known as Low Chip Rate TDD (LCR-TDD) and most popularly its known as TD-SCDMA or Time Division Synchronous CDMA.
"Synchronous" implies that uplink signals are synchronized at the base station receiver, achieved by continuous timing adjustments. This reduces the interference between users of the same timeslot using different codes by improving the orthogonality between the codes, therefore increasing system capacity, at the cost of some hardware complexity in achieving uplink synchronization.
The normal bandwidth of FDD or TDD mode of operation is 5 MHz. This gives a chip rate of 3.84 Mcps (Mega chips per second). The corresponding figure for TD-SCDMA is 1.66 Mhz and 1.28 Mcps.
The advantage of TDD over FDD are:
- Does not require paired spectrum because FDD uses different frequencies for UL and DL whereas TDD uses the same frequency hence its more easy to deploy
- Channel charachteristics is the same in both directions due to same band
- You can dynamically change the UL and the DL bandwidth allocation depending on the traffic.
- Switching between transmission directions requires time, and the switching transients must be controlled. To avoid corrupted transmission, the uplink and downlink transmissions require a common means of agreeing on transmission direction and allowed time to transmit. Corruption of transmission is avoided by allocating a guard period which allows uncorrupted propagation to counter the propagation delay. Discontinuous transmission may also cause audible interference to audio equipment that does not comply with electromagnetic susceptibility requirements.
- Base stations need to be synchronised with respect to the uplink and downlink transmission times. If neighbouring base stations use different uplink and downlink assignments and share the same channel, then interference may occur between cells. This can increase the complexity of the system and the cost.
- Also it does not support soft/softer handovers
By the way, in Release 7 a new TDD mode of operation with 10 MHz bandwidth (7.86 Mcps) has been added. Unfortunately I dont know much about it.
You can read more about TD-SCDMA in whitepaper 'TD-SCDMA: the Solution for TDD bands'
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Very interesting...not being able to see past your fingers on smaller devices. That's where "scratch input" comes in. Harrison's prototype uses a digital stethoscope to pick up the sound of scratching on a table or wall. The device attached to the stethoscope, be it a phone, watch or a computer, is programmed to recognise the sounds of different scratch gestures. By tracing a spiral on his desk, Harrison can, for example, turn the volume down on his media player. Ultimately the microphone would be built into the device. Imagine a touch screen watchphone that can be controlled simply by scratching your arm.
You may be interested in reading this article Touch Screens at The Independent here.
Friday, 11 September 2009
If you find this interesting, there is a presentation you can look at here. Unfortunately its in swedish but you can get an idea about which direction things will be going in future.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Huawei’s robust investment in LTE research and development has accelerated the commercialization of LTE technology. In June 2009, Huawei connected the world’s first LTE mobile broadband internet connection for Teliasonera in Oslo, Norway.
Huawei is an active participant in 91 standardization organizations, with over 100 committee leadership positions. In 2008, Huawei had filed a total of 35,773 patent applications globally.
Last year LG had claimed that it has upto 300 patents, not sure if that is still true.
The white paper, HSPA to LTE-Advanced: 3GPP Broadband Evolution to IMT-Advanced (4G), discusses the 3GPP evolution of EDGE, HSPA and LTE, their capabilities and their positions relative to other primary competing technologies and how these technologies fit into the ITU roadmap that leads to IMT-Advanced.
The following are some of the important observations and conclusions of the report:
- HSPA Evolution (HSPA+) provides a strategic performance roadmap advantage for GSM-HSPA operators. Features such as dual-carrier operation, MIMO and higher-order modulation offer operators multiple options for improving their networks, and some of these features are simply network software upgrades.
- Persistent innovation in developing HSPA and HSPA+ is bringing UMTS to its full potential providing mobile broadband to the mass market; in current deployments, HSPA users regularly experience throughput rates well in excess of 1 Mbps under favorable conditions, on both downlinks and uplinks, with 4 Mbps downlink speed commonly being measured. Planned enhancements such as dual-carrier operation will double peak user-achievable throughput rates.
- LTE has become the next-generation platform of choice for GSM-HSPA and CDMA/EV-DO operators.
- The 3GPP OFDMA approach used in LTE matches or exceeds the capabilities of any other OFDMA system providing the most powerful wide area wireless technology ever developed. Peak theoretical downlink rates are 326 Mbps in a 20 MHz channel bandwidth.
- 3GPP has made significant progress investigating how to enhance LTE to meet the requirements of IMT-Advanced in a project called LTE-Advanced.
With a customer base of 4 billion connections today, the GSM family of technologies is available on nearly 800 networks in 219 countries worldwide. Building on this base, UMTS-HSPA – the world’s dominant mobile broadband technology today – has proven to be the most widely deployed and adopted 3G technology of all time, with more than 352 operators in various stages of deployment, including 277 commercial HSPA networks in 116 countries.The white paper explains the tremendous opportunity afforded to GSM-HSPA operators via the 3GPP roadmap to HSPA+. While OFDMA systems such as LTE and WiMAX have attracted a great amount of attention, evolving HSPA to exploit available radio technologies can significantly enhance its performance capabilities and extend the life of sizable operator HSPA infrastructure investments. Techniques include advanced receivers, MIMO, Continuous Packet Connectivity, Higher-Order Modulation and One Tunnel Architecture, many of which are included in the standardization of 3GPP Release 7 and Release 8.
Depending on the features implemented, HSPA+ can exceed the capabilities of IEEE 802.16e-2005 (Mobile WiMAX Release-1) in the same amount of spectrum. Beyond the peak data rate of 42 Mbps for HSPA+ in Release 8 (with 2X2 MIMO, DL 64 QAM and UL 16 QAM), Release 9 may specify 2X2 MIMO in combination with dual-carrier operation, which would further boost peak theoretical downlink network rates to 84 Mbps. In addition to the increased speeds, HSPA+ also will more than double HSPA capacity and has the potential of reducing latency to below 25 milliseconds.
HSPA and HSPA+ will continue to dominate mobile broadband subscriptions worldwide for the remainder of this decade and well into the next. However, announcements have already begun in support of the next 3GPP evolutionary step, LTE. Trials and deployments of LTE will begin in 2010 by leading operators including AT&T, China Mobile, China Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, Verizon and Vodafone. In fact, today there are more than 2 billion subscriptions represented by combining the total existing customer bases of the more than 100 operators, both GSM and CDMA operators, who have announced indications of their intention to deploy LTE networks.
The deployment of LTE and its coexistence with UMTS-HSPA will be analogous to the deployment of UMTS-HSPA and its coexistence with GSM-EDGE.
Whitepaper available to download here.
Accompanying slide presentation available here.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
EMobile Ltd. , Japan's smallest mobile operator, has deployed HSPA+, also known as HSPA Evolved, in the country's major cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Nagoya.
This deployment is based on equipment from Ericsson AB, which supplied the core network and core systems integration services as well as the majority of the radio access network. It builds out the geographical coverage for HSPA+ that EMobile has already established using Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. equipment in a number of Japan's other cities, including Hokkaido, Sendai, Niigata, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Nagasaki.
Japan is a market with a reputation for being first with new technology, but HSPA+ has been passed over, most notably by market leader NTT DoCoMo Inc., which has focused on moving to Long-Term Evolution (LTE) as fast as possible.
The No. 2 player, KDDI Corp. , is similarly pushing toward LTE, although from a CDMA base that takes HSPA out of the equation, while Softbank Mobile Corp. is known to have run HSPA+ lab trials and has also said it will move to LTE when it gets the necessary spectrum.
EMobile is by far the smallest of Japan's operators, with just 1.67 million subscribers at the end of the second quarter, compared to DoCoMo's 54.86 million, KDDI's 31 million, and Softbank's 20.96 million customers, according to Wireless Intelligence .
You can check out the HSPA+ features in Rel-7 and Rel-8 here.
Zapp, mobile operator of Romania, has launched the first stage of its HSPA+, the upgraded mobile broadband service in the capital city of Bucharest. With this service, the subscribers can enjoy peak download speeds of 21.6Mbps, while upload speeds will increase by up to 15 times, from 384Kbps to 5.8Mbps. According to a report, Zapp contracted Chinese firm ZTE to deploy the network, which will run parallel to the cellco’s second phase 3G rollout, expanding its UMTS services to 63 cities nationwide.
O2 Germany is currently running a friendly user test in Munich where O2 Germany's technology partner is Huawei. Beside being O2's network partner for the overall HSPA-network upgrade, Huawei is also O2 Germany's major vendor for UMTS sticks and therefore O2 Germany is using Huawei equipment for the HSPA+ test as well. The used Huawei E182E stick is a slide-out USB stick, supporting quadband GSM/GPRS/EDGE as well as quadband UMTS/HSDPA up to 21.6 Mbps and HSUPA up to 5.76 Mbps. Furthermore the stick is MIMO ready.
Spanish mobile network operator Vodafone Spain has announced it will begin deploying HSPA+ technology across its network in the autumn of 2009. The cellco says the upgrade will allow its infrastructure to achieve theoretical download speeds of up to 21.6Mbps, while uplink speeds would increase to up to 5.7Mbps. Initially Vodafone expects to launch the increased speeds in seven unnamed ‘major’ cities, with further expansion to follow. In addition, Francisco Roman, president and CEO of Vodafone Spain, has announced that the operator plans to further extend its provision of ADSL services across the country, although it has not given any specifics for areas it plans to extend its reach to.
Swiss network operator, Swisscom says that it is deploying a HSPA+ (HSPA Evolution) upgrade, with the first areas completed in time for the ITU Telecom World 2009 in Geneva. The upgrade will offer a peak rate data transfer rate of 28.8 Mbps - although the more realistic average is no higher than 8Mbps. The network has launched a HSPA 14.4Mbps service at the beginning of this year.
Chunghwa Telecom, the Taiwanese mobile operator has reportedly selected Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) to upgrade its wireless infrastructure with HSPA+ technology. The operator intends to launch its HSPA+ and 3G services by 2010, boosting mobile broadband download speeds to up to 21Mbps. Initially, devices able to utilise the HSPA+ service will include data network cards, USB dongles and wireless modules before it is extended to cover smartphones, netbooks and notebooks.
ZTE Corp has completed the interoperability test (IOT) of its 3GPP R7-based HSPA+ MIMO (multiple-input multiple-output) solution, conducted in conjunction with mainstream terminal chip platform manufacturers, in July 2009.
The MIMO solution, realized with its SDR-based next-generation base station, has reached a theoretical speed limit of 28.8Mbps in both cable connection and wireless environment tests. The trials included data download services for UDP (User Datagram Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol), as well as various IOT item tests.
All the test results indicated stable and fast data download performance. The successful IOT testing confirms that ZTE's MIMO solution is now ready for large-scale commercial deployment worldwide.
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
“The PON vendor landscape got interesting in the fourth quarter of 2008, with Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, and Tellabs each grabbing 10% of worldwide revenue share, behind perennial leader Mitsubishi and the now number-two player, Fiberhome. In the fast-growing GPON segment, front-runner Alcatel-Lucent is being seriously challenged by Motorola, which increased its quarterly GPON revenue share 5 points in 4Q08. Meanwhile, the EPON segment, long dominated by Mitsubishi and Hitachi, is seeing some action as Sumitomo, Fiberhome, and Dasan Networks all moved up.” - Jeff Heynen, Directing Analyst, Broadband and Video, Infonetics Research
I have blogged a bit about GPON and Backhaul before. Click on the links if you havent seen the posts before.
During this year's Broadband World Forum Europe, Alcatel-Lucent not only shows that it masters next-generation wireline and wireless access. The company also highlights that Long Term Evolution (LTE) and next-generation passive optical networking (PON) technologies converge seamlessly for a smooth delivery of the most demanding, high-speed broadband services.
The live demonstration in Alcatel-Lucent's Paris demo center shows LTE's capability to deal with multiple concurrent video streams and fast channel change - and is complemented by a high-capacity 10G GPON backhaul solution for future-safe backhaul via fiber.
Alcatel-Lucent is at the forefront of developing cutting-edge technologies long before they are standardized. Even though the 10G GPON standards are still being ratified, Alcatel-Lucent shows it is ready - when needed - to meet the request for higher capacities in its customers' access networks.
Alcatel-Lucent is engaged in over 95 FTTH projects around the world, over 80 of which are with GPON (as-of Q2, 2009). In Gartner's latest FTTH Magic Quadrant assessment, Alcatel-Lucent was positioned in the leaders quadrant for the fiber-to-the-home space.
Alcatel-Lucent is also opening up details of its optical management and control interfaces (OMCIs) in a bid to help create a true multi-vendor gigabit passive optical networking (GPON) infrastructure.
Announced at this year's Broadband World Forum Europe in Paris, the first version of the OMCI Interoperability Implementer's Guide is aimed at helping other optical network terminal vendors integrate their hardware with Alcatel-Lucent's.
Monday, 7 September 2009
Interesting things are going on in the Chinese market.
A new mobile phone platform has been launched by China Mobile for it's TD-SCDMA 3G mobile phone network. In fact, it’s the first ever mobile phone operating system designed by a 3G mobile phone operator and is called Ophone. The OPhone is a linux-based terminal software platform for mobile internet.
In conjunction with the announcement for the Ophone, China Mobile announced a number of Ophone compatible handsets from Samsung, Lenovo, Phillips and Dell.
China Mobile stated that by introducing the Ophone operating system, significant savings will be made on TD-SCDMA handset design and development.
"Dopod CEO Dennis Chen said the Qilin handset is the first result of China Mobile's $7 million in subsidies to encourage TD-SCDMA handset development. Dopod has expanded investment in manpower and funding towards TD-SCDMA R&D and will release numerous high-end TD-SDCMA (sic) handsets next year."
The HTC Qilin has some pretty good genes: WM 6.5, 600MHz TI OMAP processor, 3.6" WVGA screen, GPS, 5MP camera, and CMMB Mobile TV and is apparently based on HTC's Whitestone design. The TD-SCDMA standard is China's home-grown 3G standard, which means that the Qilin won't have access to 3G networks outside of China. Having said that, HTC and China Mobile have just signed an MOU to partner up in R&D, market research, and product development, so the Qilin will be just the first in a series of handsets HTC will develop for China Mobile.
The Qilin is slated for release in December, which puts it just in time for runup to the Chinese New Year holidays.
China Mobile and LG have recently showcased the GW880, LG’s first smartphone to use the Android-based OMS (Open Mobile System) platform.
Featuring GSM and TD-SCDMA connectivity, the LG GW880 will be available via the largest Chinese mobile carrier later this year, for a price that was not announced.
The smartphone is a high-end one, as it comes with a 3.5 inch WVGA touchscreen display, 5MP camera with flash, Mobile TV, 512MB ROM and 256MB RAM.
We’re probably not going to see the LG GW880 outside China, but that’s OK, since LG is surely preparing some Android phones for other markets.
China Mobile saw its number of TD-SCDMA subscribers increase by 129,000 to 1.088 million in July. The first batch of handsets were released in May.
Nearly one half billion people subscribed to China Mobile cellular services last month, but the giant's efforts to promote a Chinese 3G standard have made little headway. The world's largest carrier grew to 498 million mobile subscribers last month, a number larger than the populations of the U.S. or the European Union. The number of subscribers using their mobile phones to play games, download music and surf the Internet also rose during the first half of the year, China Mobile said Thursday. But growth was slow for TD-SCDMA, a domestic 3G mobile standard that the government tapped China Mobile to market. Subscribers surpassed 1 million in July, continuing a slow climb upward from the launch of TD-SCDMA services in January.
China Mobile Communications Corp. aims to have as many as 80 million users of its homegrown third-generation mobile technology within two years of its initial rollout, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong said. Speaking at a news briefing, Li acknowledged the domestic standard isn't as developed as its more mature international rivals, but said he is confident in its commercial development.
Sunday, 6 September 2009
The film tells the story of a fictional 17-year-old girl, Cassie Cowan (nickname COW), who is distracted by her mobile for a few seconds while driving with two friends.
COW – a "nice girl from a nice valleys family" – causes a devastating crash which kills her friends and another couple. The impact and its aftermath is portrayed in vivid, harrowing and bloody detail.
One girl's face hits the windscreen with sickening force. A child in the car COW crashes into asks: "When will mummy and daddy wake up?" while a baby strapped into a child seat stares unblinking and may be dead.
Actually, police had intended to commission a different film – on joyriding. But when they spoke to pupils at Tredegar comprehensive, the youngsters told them that texting while driving was a much more important issue for them.
With a budget of £10,000, film-maker Peter Watkins-Hughes was asked to write and direct the film. Local people donated props including the cars that are smashed up and the locations while Watkins-Hughes and his cast gave their time.
A 30-minute version of the film is due to be shown for the first time this autumn but Watkins-Hughes put a four-minute clip of it on YouTube (entitled COW test 001) to show it to a friend. For weeks the clip remained unnoticed by anyone but the friend and a few crew members.
Then suddenly it began to attract hits. It was copied on to other sites, attracted attention around the world and within a couple of weeks became one of the most popular viral videos. Today it was still ninth on one global viral video chart. Clips about Oasis and Jay-Z were at first and second place.
Watkins-Hughes said it felt like being in an Ealing comedy when a small Welsh community had suddenly attracted worldwide attention.
The "weirdest" moment for him was when his explanation, "We've gone for grim reality", was a quote of the day on the Time website.
Watkins-Hughes said he thought it was so powerful because the violence of the crash was shown but the film then "lingered" on the human price – the baby, the child asking about his mother and father. And the screams of COW, who survives the crash.
The film has struck such a chord in the US where the danger of texting while driving is a big issue because it is not illegal in all states. The trend in America has been to try to get the anti-texting message across more gently through humour or playing on the emotions but not showing violence.
However, one survey in the US found that 80% of people who had seen the Gwent film were less likely to text while driving than before.
In the UK, the road safety charity Brake, having been asked to watch the clip by the Guardian, praised the film-makers and said it was important to show the reality of road crashes.