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Showing posts with label O2. Show all posts
Showing posts with label O2. Show all posts

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Is the Global Mobile Roaming model broken?

Yesterday, I noticed some heavyweights discussing roaming prices on Twitter. It is embedded below using the new Twitter embed feature:


Those who follow me on Twitter may have noticed me ranting about the roaming prices recently so I thought that this is a perfect opportunity to put my thoughts down.

As being discussed above, I went on the websites of two UK operators and found out about their roaming rates to India and The USA and they are as follows:


 It should be noted that there is a better rate available with some kind of bundle opt-in from both the operators and I have not shown about the other UK operators but they offer a similar sort of rate so I am not trying to single out O2 and/or Vodafone.

Since LTE is 'All-IP' network my interest is more from Data point of view rather than the voice point of view. A colleague who went to India recently decided that enough is enough and he bought a SIM in India locally. Apparently is just a bit too difficult to get SIM in India if you are not an Indian resident, nevertheless he somehow managed it. The rates as shown below was INR 24 for 100 MB of data.


Rs. 24 is something like $0.50 or £0.35. You see my problem regarding the data rates? People may be quick to point out here that India has the cheapest data rates in the world. On the other hand we look at US, the rates are as follows:

Even if we assume $15 / 1GB data, its far cheaper than the roaming rate which may be something like,  £3/MB = £3000/GB or £6/MB = £6000/GB.

I blogged about all the interesting developments that have been happening in LTE World Summit regarding the roaming solutions but what is the point of having all these solutions if the operators cant work out a way to reduce these costs. Or is it that they do not want to reduce these costs as they are a good source of income?

The operators complain that the OTT services are taking business away from them and turning them into dumb data pipes but to a lot of extent its their fault. People like me who travel often dont want to spend loads of cash on data and have worked out a way around it. Most of the places I visit have WiFi, most of my work is not urgent enough and I can wait till I am in a WiFi coverage area. In some parts of the world, still I have to buy an expensive WiFi access but compared to the roaming rates, its still cheap so I have stopped complaining about it. My decision to book a hotel depends of reviews, free breakfast and free WiFi. Some of our clients who give us their phone to use abroad strictly inform us that data should not be turned on unless its a matter of life and death.

If the operators dont change their strategies and work out a better solution for the roaming rates I am afraid that their short term gains will only lead to long term pains.

Do you have an opinion? I am interested in hearing.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

UK: Spectrum, Operators, Vendors and LTE

So LTE (or '4G') is about to be launched in the UK as announced yesterday. Its going to be branded as 4GEE.

Here is a summary of the Spectrum in the UK that will be used for LTE and would be auctioned by Ofcom.


Here is the current allocation of Spectrum in the UK

The above pics are from a presentation by Ofcom in LTE World Summit 2012 in Barcelona, available here.



The last table is from an Ofcom document here. Its very interesting read. For example I didnt know that The L-band was the first major part of Ofcom spectrum awards programme relevant to mobile services. It consists of 40MHz between 1452MHz and 1492MHz. The auction took place in May 2008, in which Qualcomm won the entirety of the available spectrum.

Here is the summary of the operators working on LTE:


Everything Everywhere (EE = Orange + T-Mobile) - They are calling their '4G' service as EE, covering up to 70% of the UK by the end of 2013. Network kit provided by Huawei.

Three - Samsung will provide the Radio Access Network, and the core infrastructure, for Three's LTE (4G) network. That includes the base stations, and radio core. 3 UK has agreed to purchase 2 x 15 MHz of 1800 MHz spectrum from Everything everywhere, and plans commercial launch of LTE service in 2013.

Telefonica (O2) trial network - Equipment supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) for both the Radio and Core network elements. Backhaul for the 4G trial network has been provided using Microwave Radio Equipment from Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited, NEC and Nokia Siemens Networks.

Updated 13/09/12 - 11:25

UK Broadband rolled out the first commercial TD-LTE network in London back in February (available to customers since May 2012). The equipment is provided by Huawei. They have 40MHz in Band 42 (3.5GHz) and 84MHz in band 43 (3.6GHz).

Vodafone - No news.


Anything else I missed?

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

HSPA+ is everywhere...



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.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Innovative Designs and UI is the key to survival for Handset manufacturers


The smartphone segment of the market is poised for growth, just as a range of players are poised to release new smartphone devices in the months ahead. Among the most anticipated are new handsets based on Google's Android operating system, the next iteration of the iPhone, and the Palm Pre.

But as the number of smartphone makers proliferates, the need to create a differentiated product also increases. Much of that differentiation likely will come from the phone's user interface. Unfortunately for those in the market, it's difficult to deliver a phone with a compelling user interface that doesn't mimic all the other devices on the market.

The user interface has to be more than just a pretty face. It has to add value and ease of use for consumers. "It has to be a distinction that consumers value," said Avi Greengart, an analyst for Current Analysis. "Having a prettier set of animated weather cards isn't going to be enough."

Driving innovation may be too difficult a task for OEMs to accomplish in-house, according to John Jackson, vice president of research for CCS Insight. However, there are notable exceptions to this-HTC designed its TouchFlo3D UI in-house, and Samsung has latched onto its proprietary TouchWiz UI as the building block for its smartphones. Nevertheless, many handset makers are turning to outside firms to stay ahead of the innovation curve.

Companies such as TAT and Handmark have built their businesses around working with handset makers and operators on the user interface. TAT CEO Charlotta Falvin claims that her company's offerings sit on 10 percent of all mobile phones out on the market. Falvin said TAT's role in the design of UI is to bridge gaps between the desires and strategies of vendors and operators, a tricky proposition since operators, vendors and independent service providers all want a piece of real estate on the phone--and in consumers' minds.

"Nokia wants it to be a Nokia experience, Vodafone wants it to be a Vodafone experience and Facebook wants it to be a Facebook experience," she said. Success in creating a differentiated UI, however, will not be based around who is the first to market, or who makes the best partnerships, Falvin said, but on "who makes the best experience."

Handmark tries a similar approach. One of its main products is Pocket Express, a cross platform application that gives users access to news, sports, weather, stocks, travel and entertainment applications via a single interface. Wugofski said that the service has 2 million active users.


On the other hand, Daily Wireless argues that innovative designs and thinking out of the box may be key to success for the handsent manufacturers. There are lots of innovation happening around the 'fourth screen'.

OpenPeak has created a ‘fourth screen’ (after tv, computer and cell) for the home. It’s a hub that combines features of the telephone, TV, PC and cell phone into a compact, communications center.

The intuitive navigation menu on the 7? touchscreen makes it easy to make calls, play music, share photos, and organize your household. The device, powered by an Intel Atom processor, features 1GB of built-in storage, WiFi connectivity, an ethernet port, an audio out jack, and USB socket. It runs a cellular-branded version of the OpenFrame software, which appears to be based on Ubuntu linux. It is a wired device (no battery operation).

O2, a large cellular carrier in the UK is offering it to subscribers for £149.99 or free if taken instead of a handset when upgrading or signing a new 18 or 24 month contract. Its being marketed by the name Joggler.

The Verizon Hub is a home phone with an internet-connected base that offers users access to V Cast entertainment services, messaging, and email among other features. It will link up to an Application Store.

GiiNii plans to ship its Android-based portable media player and picture frame in October and January, respectively, according to a spokesperson. Archos announced an Android portable media player for mobile telephony.

Intel is now pushing Moblin V2 Core Alpha for Netbooks which should arrive in beta in May. It will now (apparently) take precedence over Moblin for MIDs, says Linux Devices, which is now postponed until 2010.

The UMPC Portal blog opines that MIDs based on Moblin 1.0, such as the BenQ S6 are being overwhelmed by the popularity of netbooks so abandoned MID developers might instead move to Android or even, gulp, Windows XP.

And ofcourse there are many other devices not mentioned here but please feel free to add them in the comments.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

HSPA+ to become more widely available in 2009


According to 3G Americas press release, 100 million new connections were added last year. On a worldwide basis, GSM totals 3.5 billion of the nearly 4 billion mobile subscriptions or 89% share of market at the end of December 2008. With 278 UMTS-HSPA networks in service in 121 countries, there are 290 million UMTS-HSPA subscriptions as of the end of 2008 compared to 186 million a year earlier—more than 100 million new 3G connections. UMTS-HSPA subscriptions are expected to more than double in 2009, according to Informa’s forecasts, and reach 455 million connections by the end of this year.

A survey last year by GSA showed that over 1000 HSPA devices have already been launched. Remember HSPA device could be HSDPA device only or HSDPA and HSUPA device. According to Dell'Oro group, Worldwide total mobile infrastructure market revenues grew 5% in 2008, driven by the nearly doubling and quadrupling of revenues of the WCDMA and WiMAX markets, respectively.

The focus is now moving towards HSPA+ (Release 7). HSPA+ is already becoming everyones favourite as it now has the potential to compete with LTE. The HSPA+ data rates will soon be able to rival that of LTE. No new spectrum will be required and enhancements will now allow multiple bands to be used at the same time thereby reducing the need to move to LTE for gaining higher data rates by use of higher bandwidth.

O2 Germany is planning to upgrade its network to HSPA+ by mid 2009. Vodafone also plans to upgrade its network to HSPA+ when more devices are available. Hong Kong operator CSLNWM is working with China's ZTE to upgrade their network to SDR based HSPA+ network that could easily be upgraded to LTE. Australia's Telstra has already announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it is the first in the world to offer mobile broadband service with peak rates of 21 Mbps made possible through HSPA+ technology.

On the devices front Huawei has E182E HSPA+ slide USB stick supporting 21.6Mbps DL and 5.76Mbps in UL. Novatel surprisingly has the same specs for its MC996D modem. Qualcomm meanwhile has released a range of new HSPA+ capable chipsets. The MSM8260 supports 3GPP Release 7 HSPA+ for data rates of up to 28 Mbps. The MSM8660 adds support for 3GPP/3GPP2 multimode, and the MSM8270 adds support for Release 8 dual-carrier HSPA+ for even higher data rates of up to 42 Mbps. All three products offer full backward compatibility to previous generation networks and are pin-, software- and functionally-compatible.

Its just a matter of time before we will all be able to experience the HSPA+ speeds on our mobiles and mobile connected Laptops.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Joggler or Post-it?

O2 has recently released a family friendly touchscreen tablet which can act as a replacement for the post it notes many of us leave on the fridge door to communicate with our family members.


The following is from O2's website:

Managing family life can be a struggle. Introducing the O2 Joggler, a new device designed to help organise your family life a little better. Think of it as your new fridge door.

The fridge door has always done its best to organise family life. From birthdays to sports days, from pianos lessons to parents' evenings - it's all there. Somewhere.

The O2 Joggler works with an interactive online calendar and your mobile phone so every family member will know who needs to be where by when. O2 numbers even get text message reminders. Much more than an interactive calendar, the O2 Joggler runs a number of family-friendly applications to support family life and keep your family in the loop, including:
  • Includes up-to-the-minute news, sport, traffic and weather updates
  • View and load music, videos and photos
  • Let everyone in your selected family group know what's going on and who's doing what with your shared O2 Calendar. Set up and update events and, if you are on O2, you can send text reminders to your chosen O2 phone numbers.
  • View and load your photos from a USB memory stick which can be inserted into the side of your O2 Joggler. You can save your favourite photos on your O2 Joggler and display them as a slide show on the screen.
  • Challenge yourself to a game of Japanese Sudoku.
  • Store and watch your favourite videos.

The seven-inch touchscreen device connects wirelessly or via Ethernet cable to home broadband, meaning no SIM is required – and therefore there’s no additional monthly cost. It features a calendar to store appointments and deadlines, and will send text messages as reminders.

While the device can be used by anyone regardless of which network they’re on, the Joggler will only sent info to O2 mobiles – so Junior won’t get the reminder if he’s on Orange, T-Mobile or any other network. For O2 customers, their Joggler will be able to send 50 free text messages a month.

The oddly-named Joggler will be available from early April, for £149.99 or free for O2 customers if taken instead of a handset upgrade. Corporate customers will not be allowed to upgrade to the Joggler, so they'll have to pay out to get one.

Somehow I am not convinced if this device will be popular big time though its failure can easily be blamed on the current financial crisis. Somehow the features remind me of Femtozone services and maybe the Femto application developers can include some features from this into their Femtozone apps :)