Monday 29 September 2008

SIM-free option for LTE

Dean Bubley, in a post in Seeking Alpha has proposed a SIM-free option for LTE. I have heard this being discussed before in some forums but have not seen yet any concrete steps by 3G to address this issue.

Let me be clear that I fully support the SIM based option which gives you convinience to change handsets while keeping the same number and also easily move between different operators by getting Porting codes (PAC codes in UK) but sometimes when you are travelling or in between places the SIM free option allows you to use Pay as you Go services from the device of your choice. So rather than being tied down to the SIM you will be tied down to the device (Laptop or Handset).

If this option is not available it would still be possible by a service provider to provide you a service based on the device IMEI but the extra 'Access technology based' security would not be there. This means that you would be relying completely on the IP security which should generally not be an issue since this is not very different than what you would use in case of accessing web through your workplace or from a cafe. Also since this option requires extra customisation of LTE based technology which is not standardised by standards, service providers may be a bit reluctant to use this approach.

Alternatively, service providers may go for alternative technologies like WiMAX and WiFi. All laptops have WiFi inbuilt and it wont be long before WiMAX option is available. WiMAX dongles may come in handly for times like these. These technologies dont require any SIM cards so it may be simpler for people to use this.

By not providing the SIM-free option for LTE, there may not be much impact from Laptop users who dont care which technology they use as their hardware is generally capable of supporting quite a few options but it may impact the smartphone user market. These smartphone users who have time to kill on the airports or hotels may make use of their time by registering their phone to a local service provider and then making cheap international calls and browsing via their handset. They may not have to worry about hunting for cyber cafes and even if they find one worrying about the spyware, etc trying to grab passwords/pins on the PCs being used.

Over the next year we will have to wait and see if operators or device manufacturers or service providers are going to propose this option and once it is proposed it would be interesting to see how many people oppose it :)

Sunday 28 September 2008

Evolution Of Bluetooth

Last week I had an opportunity to attend a Short Range Wireless SIG (special interest group) conference organised by Cambridge Wireless. The conference was about Bluetooth technology, where it’s heading and future of Bluetooth. Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) was formed around 10 years ago. Bluetooth SIG is privately held non profit organisation whose main tasks are to publish Bluetooth specifications, administer the qualification program, protect the Bluetooth trademarks and evangelize Bluetooth wireless technology.

The Bluetooth SIG global headquarters are in Bellevue, Washington, USA and has local offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, China, Seoul, Korea, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, Taiwan and Malmo, Sweden
During the presentation in the conference there were discussions on technical and general stuff about short range wireless and hence I learned some amazing things especially about Bluetooth technology and its application in our daily life. Although my expertise and main focus lies in the area of 3GPP technology i.e. HSPA+, LTE etc I occasionally do pay an interest in Bluetooth and other W-Fi technologies. After attending the SIG conference I do know now that there are some amazing things that can be done with Bluetooth other than just using it as a Hands free kit while talking on you mobile. There are already around 2 billion Bluetooth enabled devices in various forms in the market place.

In terms of business there is also an enormous scope to develop customized applications that can work with Bluetooth and UWB (ultra-wide band, ultraband, etc.).

UWB is advanced form of Bluetooth where the MAC/PHY layer is changed to accommodate high data rates.

UWB is a radio technology that can be used at very low energy levels for short-range high-bandwidth communications by using a large portion of the radio spectrum thus enabling higher data rates. UWB communications transmit in a way that doesn't interfere largely with other more traditional 'narrow band' and continuous carrier wave uses in the same frequency band. IEEE 802.15.4a in its draft standard and working group has proposed UWB as an alternative PHY layer.

Low energy Bluetooth is another emerging flavour which will be talked very often in the coming days. Bluetooth low energy is the next generation of wireless standard from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) addressing a completely new set of applications but building on the installed base of Bluetooth devices. As the name implies devices based on Bluetooth low energy consumes only a fraction of the power of the classic Bluetooth radio thus allowing small and low cost implementations.

Bluetooth low energy technology is designed with two equally important implementation options:

  • Single-mode (stand-alone) implementation: Targeted at applications requiring low power consumption and small size; typically button cell battery -powered devices, for e.g. sports & fitness equipment and sensor devices
  • Dual-mode implementation - an extension to a classic Bluetooth radio: Targeted at mobile phones and PCs.

Bluetooth low energy is very robust through frequency hopping compared to other similar technologies. It is very secure through optional 128 bit AES encryption.
The significant factor of Bluetooth low energy is its low power consumption which is by very low standby activity, fast connection setup and low overhead in data packets.

Bluetooth low energy technology explores new market opportunities. It is sometimes unbelievable to see where and how Bluetooth low energy technology can be used. One of the most amazing uses of this technology which I came across was when I came to know that a double amputee can walk again using Bluetooth. Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bleill (USA Army) lost both his legs above the knees when a bomb exploded under his Humvee while on patrol in Iraq on October 15, 2006. He has 32 pins in his hip and a 6-inch screw holding his pelvis together.

Now, he's starting to walk again with the help of prosthetic legs outfitted with Bluetooth technology more commonly associated with hands-free cell phones.
Bluetooth is definitely evolving and low energy Bluetooth is very much part of its evolution. The technology has a major parto play in our daily lives and the currently the Sports and Health Care is the significant area where the major focus is lying.

Bluetooth Low energy has a major role to play in sports and fitness. I personally has experienced the use of the Bluetooth device when I visit to Gym. I have to put the device around my chest and the machine then displays my heart rate transmitted by the Bluetooth device. This is amazing as I can constantly monitor my heart rate and based on that I can vary the intensity of my workout.

Thus sports person has sensors i.e Bluetooth device located on the body, shoes, garments and other fitness gear measuring the exercise session such as duration, speed, distance, cadence, slope, location, heart rate, energy consumption etc. Together with this information, when using GPS location related information can be combined with the data. Thus using a Bluetooth device is like training with a virtual partner. The use of the application can motivate and give feedback to the user and remote users, e.g. coach, team mate or a virtual partner. They can access the data remotely and then make decisions based on it for example the exercise can be simulated on exercise bike or treadmill along with multimedia content.

Low energy Bluetooth device thus helps play a significant role in sports persons real time activity and training monitoring.

I have seen Golfers using Bluetooth devices to record their swing. Golfers can thus monitor the real time data and thus can improve their swing. Golf player’s motions are recorded with sensor devices and the data is uploaded to a host device. The recorded data or values are transmitted to web service where the athletes can be remotely monitored online or offline by coach, audience, etc.

Health care is another major area where low energy Bluetooth devices have a significant role to play. There is a potentially market of greater than US$1 Billion for wireless health monitoring products. Examples of currently available medical devices using “Classic” Bluetooth technology are:

  • ECG Monitors
  • Cardiac Defibrillators
  • Blood Glucose Meters
  • Insulin Pumps
  • Pulse Oximeters
  • Blood pressure Monitors
  • Weight Scales

Examples of healthcare devices suited to Bluetooth low energy technology, requiring very low power and long battery life are:

  • Thermometer
  • Blood pressure monitor
  • Weight Scale
  • Heart Rate Monitor
  • PERS
  • Blood Glucose Meter

Let’s consider the example of how the technology can help in the case of Diabetes management. The patient will be fitted with a small low energy Bluetooth device i.e. Blood Glucose meters typically powered by small coin batteries, operating for a year or more. Blood glucose measurement, data is automatically sent to the mobile phone and to the central Personal Health Record. Patient and care providers automatically alerted if the sugar level is outside preset limits and reminders and advice can be sent back to the patient and test compliance can be monitored.

Low energy Bluetooth devices can used in the consumer electrnics control as shownin the picture below.

I must say I was really impressed to finds out how the Bluetooth technology can be used in our daily life. Just by using a simple and small device many patients life can be saved as they are monitored constantly.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

NEC and Ubiquisys to help deploy first IMS based Femtocell Solution

Japanese operator SoftBank is to score a world first in January, when it becomes the first service provider to launch 3G femtocells in a commercial capacity.

SoftBank, Japan's third placed carrier behind NTT DoCoMo and KDDI, said it will offer 3G femtos from January 2009 using kit from UK-based Ubiquisys and a supporting IMS core from NEC.

According to Unstrung:

Japan's Softbank Mobile Corp. is still trying to get the national regulator to change a quirky policy that could thwart its plan for a large-scale femtocell deployment, according to an industry source. In Japan, only a qualified engineer can install a base station, and that rule applies to the small, low-power base stations, too.

Femtocells are supposed to be "zero touch" and easily installed by the users themselves. So, a regulation that mandates sending out an engineer to plug in each and every home access point would kill an operator's femto business case.

The Japanese policy is expected to be changed by the end of the year, which wouldn’t be too soon for Softbank. According to our source, the operator has already installed 20,000 devices, has chosen an NEC Corp. solution -- which uses Ubiquisys Ltd's femtocell -- and is also checking out equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. Softbank isn't quite ready for a mass market deployment because there are still some technical issues, according to the industry source.

Meantime, NTT DoCoMo Inc. said last week that it was going to use the new HSPA version of Mitsubishi Corp. femtocell for its Home Area service.

There have been couple of so called Femtocell launches already namely T-Mobile Hotspot@ and Sprints CDMA Femtocell but they are not really Femtocells because they just provide an extension for voice services and no other type of services.

The Femtocells are called ZAPs (Zonegate Access Points) and Japanese customers will be able to get their hands on them from Jan 2009.

Monday 22 September 2008

LTE may be not that far, T-Mobile tested LTE

In his recent blog Zahid wrote that LTE is still far away. Well I had the similar feeling as I read the similar article saying that LTE is still far away.

But just when you thought Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology was a dream of the future, T-Mobile comes along and yanks it into the present.

T-Mobile claimed that it has become the first carrier to successfully test LTE technology in a real-world environment in a test it conducted in Germany in conjunction with Nortel. The two companies were able to transmit data from one moving car to another on opposite sides of the Rhine River, without loss of quality or data, even across different cells.

T-Mobile claims it is the first wireless network operator to demonstrate the 4G technology using LTE. T-Mobile in partnership with Nortel tested LTE under real world conditions and were able to transmit data to and from vehicle driving in Bonn between Deutsche telecoms headquarters on the left side of the river Rhine and T-Mobile headquarters on the river’s right bank.

As mentioned by Raju Shanbhag in his blog the above data transmission test by T-Mobile went smoothly without interruptions and without loss of quality even across different cells on the four kilometre test track area.

This test of LTE data transmission across the cell is quite significant when considering the fact that the mobility is the basis of the mobile communication.

Although in some articles one do get the feeling that LTE might still be far away but the above development certainly tells the different story.

The world's largest mobile operator in terms of subscribers, China Mobile, is defnitely seems to be keeping an eye on these developments and hence it is eager to begin testing 4G TD-LTE soon, a time division duplex (TDD) version of LTE that will be backward compatible with the struggling Chinese 3G standard TD-SCDMA.

Mobile industry is certainly pushing the LTE and trying to ensure that LTE should not be delayed. The news of successful LTE test conducted by T-Mobile is one step further in this direction.

According to a new study from ABI Research there will be more than 32 million LTE customers by 2013. Around a third of these will be in Asia-Pacific with the remainder split about 60-40 per cent between Western Europe and North America. It would appear that the mobile industry is once again doing what it does best, overhyping new technology whilst it is still in development. Announcements about LTE arrive almost daily, each more positive than the next. U.S. CDMA operator Verizon Wireless announces its intention to migrate its network to LTE, Nortel and Motorola announce plans to focus on LTE, perhaps at the expense of WiMAX and so it goes on. Only time will tell whether the hype is justified or if the mobile industry is about to get another dash of cold reality.

Android: Dream(s) OS.

Back in Feb, I blogged about Google's Android that was being shown off in MWC 08. Now its turned up in Dream. By that I mean HTC dream.
People are anxious to get their hands on the phone and are waiting for it to be launched in UK so they can do some more analysis on that. For the time being its going to be available only in the USA. Its going to be launched tomorrow.
Honestly, I dont know much about phones OS's and I havent cared much about them till date. The only time I start looking at the features, etc. is when I am looking for a new phone. Android is promising to be a bit different and first truly open OS which can revolutionise the world of Apps. As you can see from the leaked picture, its a QWERTY phone so I have my interests in it ;)One can argue that the world of Apps have already been revolutionised by the iPhone, which is true but what lacks with the iPhone is the freedom to compete with Apple itself. The following is from PC world blogs:

Apple has officially kicked two popular apps out of its App Store over the past days. Podcaster, a program that lets you circumvent iTunes to directly download podcasts, found out it was getting the "REJECTED" stamp just before the weekend. Now, the makers of the popular tethering tool NetShare are sharing a similar plight. NetShare disappeared without notice in August. Its creators now say they've finally been told they too are banned for good.

This, I am sure, would be welcome news for Google as it will be billing its OS as truly democratic OS. Gizmodo have given 5 reasons to like (and not like) Android:

Reasons to like Android:
  1. Its open
  2. Will accelerate the process of gradual devolution of carriers to open, dumb pipes.
  3. You'll have tons of hardware options
  4. Opportunity to create any apps you like
  5. Best Google Apps experience on any mobie device

Reasons to dislike Android:

  1. Google can keep more track of you
  2. It's not on the US's two biggest carriers, AT&T or Verizon (I dont care about this one)
  3. Carriers can put their own App stores on the phone
  4. There wont be a consistent Android experience because anybody can put it on any hardware with many other apps combination
  5. Too many apps and features can cause confusion

The HTC Dream is also known as G1 (Generation 1?). There are already rumors about the second generation Android phones circulating:

The second-generation Android phone will be manufactured directly by Google instead of third-party manufacturers. With the help of a Google engineer, we were able to descend to the forty-second sub-basement in the Googleplex to their hardware labs for an unauthorized sneak peek.

The phone will harness the computing power of every Google datacenter in a single handset. It'll be like having the brain the size of an entire planet in your hand," said one Google engineer who wished to remain anonymous.

One issue designers have been facing is to find enough for the phone to do so it doesn't get bored. "We have it compiling kernels, factoring primes and monitoring calls for the NSA, but after about thirty minutes of doing that the phone lets out an audible yawn and shuts itself off," said our source.

The phone is unsurprisingly called Gphone. Other rumors include Google's design to take over the enterprise market since more and more people are moving away from Laptops to Smart Phones.

Unofficial Pics of LG's KC910 has also surfaced. The phone is also rumored to contain Android. Some people are even suggesting Sony Ericsson is going to launch Xperia with Android.

The prediction right now is that Android will capture 4% of market share in Q4 which is around 400,000 of the 10.5 million overall smartphones. If Android delivers the trademark Google quality, the figure may be higher.

Saturday 20 September 2008

Embedded 3G wireless technology on the up

With the emergence of technologies like HSPA, HSPA+ and LTE the laptop technology has been on the up. Laptop with the embedded modems is becoming popular. This doesn’t surprise me at all as I myself have used laptop with the built in mode. I had to just put the SIM and connect to the network using the connection manager on the laptop. As soon as I started browsing the network moved me onto HSDPA (HSPA+ in near future). As you can imagine the user experience is amazing as one can browse on the laptop while on the move that too with high speed.

In order to provide this facility Intel and Quallcom is really working hard to come out with the chipset which can provide good support for 3G technology.

Quallcom can see the potential in wireless broadband and hence came out with a Gobi chipset to support the 3G embedded technologies in the laptops. Although the initial response for the chipset was not very encouraging, the chipset is now getting support from operators like Vodafone and At&T together with the laptop vendors.

Recently a new report from the research firm, Senza Fili Consulting, says that by 2014, vertical market applications will use more than 154 million connections on 3G, WiMAX or LTE networks, generating more than $43 billion in service revenues, and that vertical services will reach 24 percent of WiMAX subscriptions and 14 percent of LTE subscriptions. While the enterprise market is a potentially lucrative one, however, it is challenging to serve, and operators will need to prepare well to give these customers the attention and performance they will demand, the firm cautions.

The above report thus further increased the interests towards Gobi chipset. Recently the support for the chipset has definitely increased and Qualcomm just received more support for its Gobi embedded laptop chipset by At&T. AT&T has certified the technology to be used on its HSPA network along with two of Panasonic's Gobi-enabled rugged notebooks.
In addition, HP's refreshed line of notebooks, which have built-in Gobi technology, are also certified for AT&T's network.

On the CDMA front, two of Panasonic's Gobi-enabled laptops received certification from Verizon Wireless for use on its EV-DO network.

Gobi allows users to switch seamlessly between 3G networks around the world, including GSM, EDGE, HSPA, and EV-DO. Vodafone, which operates an HSPA network in Europe, has backed the project, complementing partner Verizon's U.S.-based EV-DO network.

One of the keys to Gobi's innovative design is that it standardizes API, and allows developers to develop a potentially endless variety of applications that sit above the card firmware, while providing no problem with certification.

HSDPA and EVDO networks have now been widely deployed globally. As with initial 3G launches these networks are first being used to deliver wireless broadband via data cards. Yet unlike previous technologies, the technologies are providing a user experience which lives up to the marketing. These services are mobilising workers with speedy connection to a VPN, email, applications and the Internet. Over the past 12 months the vendors and operators have devised the strategies to market 3G wireless broadband to laptops and thus slowly moving away from the initial data cards methods. Users obviously prefers laptops with the embedded 3G wireless technology as it is easy to operated and gives better experience. Operators like Vodafone and Orange for this has already launched business bundle comprising of laptops, embedded with SIM cards which is aimed at small and medium size businesses.

Thursday 18 September 2008

Consensus on LTE Femtocell Layer as starting point

Many people in our industry are now of the opinion that the best way forward with LTE is to roll them out as Femtocells and then when more and more people start using them, then start deploying LTE Microcells/Macrocells.

There is this news in Gigaom:

Will personal cell towers replace the giant monstrosities currently sitting on rooftops and beside highways? Manish Singh, a VP with Continuous Computing, says that may be the case with the 4G buildout. He spoke with me about the company’s new line of software and hardware for carriers deploying LTE networks, noting that those in North America and Europe are asking whether they should deploy citywide — or one consumer at a time, using femtocells.

He said two things are driving this, one being the huge capital expenditure associated with building out a wireless network and the second being the length of time it has taken for widespread use of the 3G data networks. Verizon started deploying its EVDO networks in 2003, but only in the last few months — thanks to better pricing and the iPhone — has 3G data been used by many customers. When it comes to 4G provided by LTE, a controlled femtocell deployment ensures that customers could get LTE speeds of up to 150 Mbps (in theory) while at home or in coffee shops and use the existing 3G network while out and about.

The femtocell strategy will be used in another 4G rollout — this time for WiMAX — as part of the Clearwire joint venture involving Clearwire, Sprint, Google and several cable companies.

And there was this other news in Electronics Weekly by CTO of PicoChip:

Approximately 60% of mobile usage already takes place indoors, yet providing in-building coverage is a technical problem at the gigahertz frequencies used for Wimax and LTE. This is only set to get worse as the mobile continues to replace the home phone. Research indicates that, as “all you can eat” data packages become commonplace, this number is likely to reach 75% by 2011.

As transmission frequency increases, in-building penetration degrades. The additional attenuation reduces throughput for those users indoors, but there is another effect too: if the traditional macrocell allocates more power to reach the indoor user, this increases the interference for other users. Such realities inevitably have a quantifiable, negative impact on cell capacity, making it impossible to deliver 10 times the performance of 3G that is a fundamental requirement of the 4G vision.

Furthermore, the large cell approach is fundamentally less able to provide the benefits for which LTE was intended. As Cooper’s Law identifies, the best way to increase traffic density is via smaller cell sizes. A macrocell gets hit twice in this respect – it has poorer total throughput due to RF conditions and it has to spread that throughput over a much wider area.

Most operators considering the roll-out of LTE already have widespread HSPA networks. If terminal devices are going to be multimode (LTE and HSPA and GSM, for example), there is little point in deploying LTE everywhere and ensuring ubiquitous coverage, since the user experience may be no better than that provided by HSPA (or could be worse). The capital expenditure of a small cell approach need not be prohibitive. Indeed, substantial savings will be available on the back of the technological innovations that are driving down the bill of materials costs for residential femtocells.

A small cell approach also has cost implications for operating expenditure. These networks need to incorporate self-optimising technology to eliminate manual configuration during deployment and throughout the life of the equipment. These self-optimising networks (SONs) will, for instance, dynamically optimise radio network performance in use and provide intelligent backhaul capabilities. Operators are already recognising these requirements and mandating the provision of SONs; the emerging residential femtocell in WCDMA is proving this capability now.

This network architecture change will produce corresponding changes throughout the infrastructure value chain. The network equipment industry will move towards a consumer market approach – in a manner similar to the use of “commercial off-the-shelf” (COTS) technologies in the military equipment market, infrastructure manufacturers can borrow from femtocell innovations to benefit from consumer electronics economics. This will place an onus on IC suppliers to offer unprecedented levels of systems-level expertise and support.

The traditional macrocell approach will flounder at the next stage of network evolution: they are too expensive a solution and do not deliver the required results.

Last month in a blog, I mentioned that the Femtocell issue is becoming urgent because of the Release 8 freeze date in December. Othmar Kyas from Textronix argues the same thing in a different way in Total Telecom:

Currently, 3G femto access points, which are the WLAN-like devices residing at customer premises, are connected to so-called femto gateways via the customers' private DSL links using largely proprietary protocols to provide femto-specific functionalities such as plug and play, self-organising features, guest user management, roaming or charging. The femto gateway, which can connect to thousands of femto access points, translates the femto communication links to the "Iu" interface, which is the standard connection between a 3G core and a 3G access network.

In order to resolve resulting compatibility and interworking issues, 3GPP, the standardisation body behind the GSM family of technologies, has nominated this issue as a study item in the upcoming version of its standard, 3GPP Release 8.

Release 8 is also the first version of the 3GPP standard that contains the long awaited fourth-generation (4G) GSM variant LTE (Long-Term Evolution). Femto aspects in this study cover both 3G (UMTS) and 4G (LTE) infrastructures. 3GPP Release 8 describes the femto architecture in an official standard document for the first time. It introduces the concept of home base stations for 3G and 4G using the nomenclature Home Node B (HNB) and Home eNodeB (HeNB). Additionally, it defines a new interface capable of directly connecting home base stations to 3G and 4G core networks, the 'IuH' interface.

According to the 3GPP specification, all home base stations in the future will have to provide the following functionality:

• HNB and HeNB deployed as small UTRA and EUTRAN cells, respectively, in domestic, small office and similar environments.

• The HNB and HeNB interconnects with the 3G core and Evolved Packet Core, respectively, over a fixed broadband access network (e.g. DSL, cable, etc.).

• Support for full mobility into and out of a HeNB coverage including service continuity where applicable.

• Operators and owners of HeNB and HNB will be able to control access to the resources provided.

The full specification for HNBs, HeNBs and IuH will become available with Release 9 of the 3GPP standard, which probably will not publish before the beginning of 2010. (Release 8 is scheduled to freeze in December 2008 and to publish in early 2009).

The second challenge that needs to be overcome before the 'femto dream' can materialise is the cost of the femto hardware. To be successful in the competitive consumer market, femto access points probably need to sell below US$200. Current chip-set prices for 3G femto base stations still range significantly above $100, indicating that there is still substantial work needed in terms of manufacturing cost reduction.

Will the lack of standardisation or the hardware cost hinder the success of femto? Have equipment manufacturers and operators learned the expensive 3G-lesson? Will the femto equipment be as plug-and-play and as interoperable as claimed? Will the performance live up to the high customer expectations?

Finally, there will need to be attractive tariffs or flat-rate payment plan offers from operators to kick start a 3G business that reaches far beyond early adopters and business users but actually grabs a mass market.

Kick-starting the LTE technology as Femtocells may have its own advantage and will help iron out the initial problems which are bound to cause hiccups otherwise. Yesterday I mentioned that LTE may be far away but it can be rolled out earlier if this approach is taken. As it was mentioned earlier, 60% of the people access data from their homes, LTE based Femtocells may be what may turn this figure into 90%+. What is needed now would be some killer applications ;)

Wednesday 17 September 2008

LTE still far far away

FierceWireless has a relaistic analysis of LTE on their website:

The adoption of 4G wireless and Long Term Evolution (LTE) network technology is a long way off and will probably not be adopted on a large scale by network operators until around 2015, according to the host and panel participants at Andrew Seybold's Wireless University, a co-located conference held in conjunction with the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment conference in San Francisco.

If LTE technology does come online, Seybold said, it will be at hotspots where there is an incredibly high demand for data, pointing out repeatedly that for carriers voice services still pay the bills and data does not.

Though LTE may provide 30 percent to 40 percent greater network efficiency in a 10 MHz spectrum over HSPA and EV-DO technology, Lawrence questioned whether or not that was sufficiently efficient to justify a multi-billion dollar investment in an entirely new network when 3G technology is just hitting its stride.

Even though this article does not paint a very rosy picture, I think its prediction is more on the conservative side. In earlier posts there is a mention of 32 million users by 2013 and even nationwide (USA) rollout by 2014, but they are not far off from this analysis. Considering that there are already over 3 Billion users expected to become 4 Billion by 2012, 32 million is not a very big number. There could be even more than that even in the hotspots.

The main thing that needs to happen now is for some operator to take the 'giant leap' of moving to LTE once its available. NttDoCoMo would definitely do that but is there anyone else willing to do the same?

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Mobile Data 2008: $200 Billion and rising

Revenues from mobile data services are set to exceed US$200 billion this year for the first time, according to data sourced from Informa Telecoms & Media. Total mobile data revenues were approximately US$157 billion in 2007.

Research from the first quarter of 2008 reveals that mobile data service revenues exceeded US$49 billion, accounting for a 42.7% y-o-y increase. This figure means that mobile operators now generate approximately one fifth of their revenue from data services; this is significant given that a general slowdown in voice revenues is forcing the pace around the importance of data services for mobile operators.

Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that non-SMS data contributed US$17.48 billion of revenue in Q108, accounting for 35.6% of total data revenues.

The Asia Pacific region comprises 40% of the world's data revenues (over US$20 billion in Q108), representing an above average y-o-y growth rate of 48%. The biggest regional riser, however, is the Middle East, which despite contributing just 2% of the world's data revenues in the first quarter of 2008, has seen a 91.7% y-o-y increase in this figure to US$927 million. Aiding this acceleration is the 321% y-o-y rise in the number of HSPA subscribers in the region, which reached 2.9 million by the end of March 2008.

As per the above analysis, SMS still accounts for around 64% of the data revenues, not very different from the blog I posted last year.

Sunday 14 September 2008

Longer battery life for Notebooks

In the past decade the no of users switching notebooks has dramatically increased. Not only are the business personal, normal users accessing computer at home now preferring notebooks. The reason is quire simple as notebook/laptop provides mobility within the premises especially with wireless technology is now getting better.

The only limitation with the notebooks is its battery life. After using laptop for a while we do have to plug it back into the mains to charge it. Industry fully recognizes this limitation and hence the battle to create the notebook with the longer battery life is stepping up as every day passes by.

Dell recently announced new Latitude E6400 notebook with up to 19 hours of battery life. I am sure though the increase in battery life comes at the expense of extra weight. This increase in the battery life is due to the introduction of a new technology called a “slice,” which uses lithium-ion prismatic cell technology to extend the battery but it also added nearly 2 pounds of weight to the notebook.

On Sept. 8, HP announced that the company’s engineers had pushed the limits of battery life to the 24-hour mark with the EliteBook 6930p. So Hewlett-Packard has unveiled its own contender in response to Dell's announcement, where a new set of features for its HP EliteBook 6930p will push the battery life up to 24 hours. With a monster 12-cell lithium ion battery pack, HP claims that its new EliteBook 6930p is able to achieve 24 hours of runtime. As I mentioned above, off course this adds an additional 1.8 pounds to the laptop, which weighs 4.7 pounds with a "standard" lithium ion battery. However, the version of the notebook with 24 hours of battery life will not be available until October.

These developments from the likes of HP and Dell are definitely encouraged by the Intel’s new hardware which makes it possible to achieve higher goals. That is why it doesn’t surprise me that the HP announcement coincided with the release of new solid-state SATA (Serial ATA) drives from Intel, which are some of the key components to the notebook’s long battery life.

Since SSDs (solid state drives) use NAND flash memory and have no moving parts, these components reduce the laptops' overall power consumption.

As I mentioned above, the current business climate requires increased mobility and larger battery life for the notebooks. PC vendors such as Dell and HP are trying to target a new class of notebooks to enterprise road warriors who want to push the limits of mobility and who travel on airplanes for a good portion of the day or make several stops with customers across the span of several days. While 24- and 19-hour-battery life thresholds might seem a bit excessive, these claims by HP and Dell help showcase the ability of these vendors to push current battery technology to its limits. Notebook companies like HP and Dell also allowing users to download specific BIOS and driver updates that allow them to manipulate the power-saving features further.

It must be noted that since everyone is used to stretching the limits of battery performance, the actual "standard" usage life remains to be seen. Still, it is undeniable that as sales of laptops continue to dominate in the area of personal computing, it is inevitable that manufacturers reach out to globetrotting enterprise road warriors seeking to push the edge of mobility.

LTE on Youtube

I was amazed today while browsing for information as to how much marketing stuff on LTE has been added to YouTube. Nortel seems to be using YouTube actively to market its LTE products. Then there are loads of other people including Motorola and Freescale.

Here is an LTE Drive Demo from Nortel:

Another one titled, "LTE-Enabled Consumer Device" from freescale:

Saturday 13 September 2008

Next Generation All-IP Telecom Networks: Quality of Service Challenges and Is...

There is an Interesting tutorial on Next generation All IP Networks from Google on Youtube. Unfortunately they have not allowed sharing of that but you can see that on youtube:

Friday 12 September 2008

eHRPD: Stopgap between EV-DO and LTE

Interesting article from TMCnet.

As LTE is picking up steam, more and more operators opting for this technology. It is but natural that some CDMA2000 operators would like to joing the camp as well. Since there is no clear evolution path available from CDMA2000 to LTE, a soft option is required so that there is no immediate need to change the complete infrastructure and in case of any problems suffer.

The transition for CDMA operators from High Rate Packet Data (HRPD) to LTE will be over a period of several years, as is the case still with the transition from 1xRTT to HRPD. As a result, mobile operators must look for a migration path that will enhance their existing HRPD networks, while addressing LTE deployment requirements and will not require a ‘forklift’ upgrade.

The choice of migration path depends on many factors including radio access strategy, network resource strategy, services enabled, timing and cost. A key goal of LTE is to enhance service provisioning while simplifying interworking with non-3GPP mobile networks. This is essential for CDMA operators that have chosen to migrate to LTE.

Evolved HRPD is a method that allows the mobile operator to upgrade their existing HRPD packet core network using elements of the SAE/EPC architecture. Additionally, eHRPD is a more evolutionary path to LTE while also allowing for seamless service mobility — including seamless hand-offs — between the eHRPD and LTE networks.

One of the main advantages of eHRPD is the ability to provide seamless service mobility between HRPD and LTE access networks with a single mobility management protocol. Moreover, with eHRPD, the operator can leverage the benefit of optimized handover – no dropped sessions and reduced handover latency — between LTE and eHRPD. The benefit of seamless and optimized mobility for data is highly dependant on the mobile operator business model for adding new services. As new applications emerge, the requirement for seamless service mobility becomes greater. Since SAE is an all-IP network infrastructure, the network will quickly move to mobile VoIP for voice. Moreover, with the introduction of eHRPD, the operator can leverage the benefit of optimized intra eHRPD handover when the user crosses the HSGW boundaries. This capability does not exist in current HRPD systems.

You can read the complete article here.

Wednesday 10 September 2008

Japan to trial its own 4G Technology

While we were focussing on the battle between LTE and WiMAX having already forgotten about UMB, Japan has been working on its Next G of PHS called the XGP.

The news came to light in ITU Telecom Asia, which concluded recently.

PHS was popular in Japan earlier on because it was very cheap and easy to deploy in the old days when other technologies were expensive. The main drawback it has is that it is not easy to perform handovers so the calls may drop while in the subway.

PHS operator WillCom has won, one of the spectrum block in 2.5GHz band and is going to start trials next April in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka and offer 20Mbps of symmetrical data speeds using a 10MHz spectrum block. A full commercial service is scheduled for August 2009.
The service will be known as WILLCOM CORE (Communication Of Revolution and Evolution)
The technology behind is based on the PHS architecture of numerous microcells offering limited coverage, but will incorporate a new air radio interface based on OFDMA/TDMA/TDD methodologies. Kyocera and UTStarcom will manufacture the radio access equipment for XGP while NEC Infrontia and NetIndex are developing the data card modules for the service. Canada’s Wavesat and Israel’s Altair is supplying the baseband chips for XGP. Like LTE and WiMAX, XGP will support viable spectrum blocks.

But while LTE and WiMAX are based on increments of 1.6MHz for its carrier size, XGP has aligned itself with CDMA and supports increments of 1.25MHz carriers.

With a basic 10MHz carrier system, XGP will offer data speeds of 20Mbps, but future systems incorporating MIMO and SDMA (space division multiple access) will be capable of supporting maximum symmetrical data speeds of 100Mbps. At the same time, the technical description for XGP will support handoffs between base stations for users travelling at up to 300 km/h.

A good presentation from Willcom on XGP is available here.

PHS = Personal Handyphone System

Tuesday 9 September 2008

Which is the year of Femtocell: 2009, 2010 or 2011?

In the beginning of the year, I listed the technologies that would be successful in 2008. According to that 2008 was setting the stage for Femtocells and 2009 will be the year when it would be rolled out mass market. According to this report from Heavy Reading (via Unstrung), this is not going to happen.

Most operators do not plan to roll out commercial femtocell services until late 2009 and 2010

The "Femtocell Deployment and Market Perception Study" reveals that early 2010 will be the critical period for commercial trials of the tiny home base stations as operators prepare for full launches later that year or in 2011. This does not necessarily mean that mass market deployments will start in 2010, but rather early commercial activity will ramp up at this time.

Among the 111 responses from the 79 operators surveyed, 54 percent said that they planned to launch services between the second half of 2009 and the end of 2010, and 33 percent said their commercial femtocell launches were scheduled for 2011 or later.

This may dismay quite a few people in the Femtocell market as they have been expecting things to happen sooner rather than later. Lack of standards and interference have been cited as the main reason for delay but I think that both these issues are not critical for delaying the deployment. One of the other less well known reasons is the doubt of it succeeding and lack of demonstrable Femtozone applications that may be used to bill Femtocell as a must have gadget.

According to the same report: the operators surveyed also ranked their perceptions of femtocell equipment suppliers. Alcatel-Lucent got top marks among the large vendors, while ip.access Ltd. was the highest ranked among the smaller femto vendors.

I have seen and used atleast one of the Femtocell and what an amazing thing it is!

I am also in process of studying the areas where Femtocells are going to face practical problems when they are rolled out. Any input on this is welcome.

Monday 8 September 2008

India to finally unrestrict VoIP

Even though India supplies the world with software and IT engineers, till now it was not possible for people living there to fully use VoIP facility. It was illegal to call any phone using the computer. This is about to change at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed that people be allowed to make calls using internet to fixed lines. What does it mean for the people? Well, the price of domestic long distance calls is supposed to halve to less than a penny (just over a cent) and international calls are supposed to get cheaper by 20%. It would also become cheaper for people to call India from abroad. Already in UK, Vodafone is allowing people to call India from a Pay as you talk phone for just 5 p per min. This may also help the Indian call centres as right now, the onshore companies have to pay termination charges when the calls get routed to India. This would mean that Indian call centres may become cheaper and more competetive.

Now for the small print; only the ISP's will be permitted to compete with the telephone companies using this VoIP. The fixed line and the mobile operators are up in arms about this because the ISPs are going to get free money whereas the mobile operators had to pay license fees for entry into the market.

This may not be a big problem for the time being as at the moment India only has around 5 million broadband subscribers whereas there are 287 million mobile subscribers and around 40 million fixed line subscribers. Also, the call rates are so cheap that additional investment in a PC and broadband connection (which is comparatively expensive) may not be lucrative.

If the recommendations by TRAI are accepted, there will surely be a VoIP revolution in India. The existing fixed line and mobile operators will have to come up with some challenging billing models to survive in future.

Sunday 7 September 2008

WiMax feeling the heat, Is It slowing Down?

Ever since we started talking about LTE, WiMax was always discussed alongside LTE. Every whitepaper or article I read on LTE it has always been mentioned that WiMax in the major competitor and the one of the main motivation behind LTE.

LTE camp together with 3GPP is trying really hard to catch up with WiMax and if possible supersede it.

There is no doubt that WiMax was and is still far ahead of LTE in terms of technology. For years, WiMax has been held up as something of a panacea, a technology that would finally deliver ubiquitous and cheap wireless broadband, especially in emerging markets. WiMax camp had a great opportunity to commercialize the technology and claim it to be the technology for 4G. But in my view it’s taken so long to get off the ground that it’s in danger of being superseded specially by LTE.

I personally think that WiMax is one of the most hyped technologies in history. Please let me know if you disagree with my opinion. Every emerging technology always has some motivation and objectives behind it. WiMax is no different and one of the main objectives of WiMax was to provide consumers an excellent wireless service at a lower cost. The computer and telecommunications industries have long seen WiMax, a so-called fourth-generation (4G) wireless technology as a way of driving down telecom costs and bridging the digital divide in the poorer parts of the world.

As I mentioned above, for some reason I don’t see that WiMax camp has taken the opportunity to take the technology to its high. As cellular operators continue to ramp up their investment in 3G, the outlook for WiMax seems to be getting murkier. And the next generation of cellular technology, known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), is set to arrive in couple of year’s time, with broadband speeds many times higher than is possible on copper-based digital subscriber lines.
People might be mistaken when they think that LTE is still some time away which gives an upper edge to WiMax. This might give an indication that by the time LTE will be launched WiMax will be well developed and commercialized technology. But in this mean time mobile operators are upgrading their networks with HSPA technology which is also a good bet in terms of high speed.

Mobile operators MTN and Vodacom are already deploying 3G-based High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) networks capable of theoretical download of up to 7,2Mbit/s (nearly twice as fast as Telkom’s fastest broadband product). That is set to double again, to 14,4Mbit/s, in the next 12 months. And the 3G roadmap is promising speeds a few years from now of up to 42Mbit/s.
HSPA subscribers have grown from 11 million in August 2007 to 50 million today. HSPA subscribers are growing at a very faster rate connections per month. There are already estimated 191 commercial HSPA networks in the world and more than 740 HSPA devices.

Qualcomm has already claimed that it has placed an HSPA+ Release 7 data call at a transfer rate of more than 20 Mbps in a 5-megahertz channel.

Such a capability of telecomm giants achieving high speed would allow operators to double the data and triple the voice capacity of their networks once HSPA+ is installed. These figures are very encouraging for the industry and hence taken as a stepping stone by the operators towards commercial deployment of HSPA+ which is late this year or early next year.

These developments are definitely not very good news for WiMax and hence pushed the technology further behind. People are questioning that if we can achieve such a high data rates with HSPA+ and with LTE is round the corner then why favour WiMax, especially when WiMax seems to have more restrictions in mobility as compared to HSPA+ or LTE.

LTE, which is still some years from commercial deployment (analysts say it should start taking off in 2011 or 2012), will ultimately offer speeds of 300Mbit/s or more. If we consider all the above developments for HSPA+ and LTE don’t you think that WiMax is a little too late or is lagging behind to be a serious challenger to LTE on the mobile side?

Mobile operators invest huge amount of money when it comes to deployment of new wireless technology. People might still remember how billions were spend to gain 3G licenses. This leaves no doubt in my mind that mobile operators will influence strongly when it comes to considering the 4G technology.

WiMax camp might be optimistic as the no of subscribers is growing although at a slower rate, but it’s in 3G and later in LTE where the real action is likely to be. 3G and its related technology i.e. HSPA etc is sweeping rest of the world after already establishing itself in Europe and America. There are already commercial 3G HSPA networks in many African countries which include SA, Namibia, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco and Egypt. Libya and Mozambique will follow soon.

Even Telkom has said it has plans to build a 3G HSPA network, a startling development given that fixed-line operators have typically preferred to look at WiMax for their wireless strategies. Telkom has a limited WiMax network.

A recent BMI-T research report, written by telecom consultant Martyn Roetter, has cast serious doubts on WiMax’s potential. Roetter says cellular rivals enjoy a considerable head start, especially in mobile broadband, and it will be difficult for WiMax operators to catch up.

What I see from the WiMax growth trends is that WiMax is doing well where 3G is still a distant technology. The chances of WiMax obtaining significant market share are greatest in countries that have not yet seen the widespread roll-out of 3G cellular technologies. But even then, it has a hope only where telecom regulators have moved quickly to allocate radio frequency spectrum.

Spectrum and coverage are ultimately more significant than the “quasi-ideological and generally confusing, self-serving, and misleading statements uttered by advocates in the vendor community”, Roetter says.

Despite all these some in the industry are still optimistic about WiMax and believes that WiMax is not falling behind. WiMax is being developed within the normal industry time frame for new technologies. One of the reasons for WiMax camp to be encouraged is that the price of WiMax devices is falling sharply and from next year the technology will be built into some Intel-based laptops.

Will that be enough to save it from obscurity?

Only time will tell, but there’s little doubt that WiMax has lost some of its early edge and the hype that went along with it.

New Tutorials available

Two new tutorials are available on 3G4G website:

# A look at NAS Timers

# Sending SMS using AT Commands

Thursday 4 September 2008

Lights, 8 Megapixel Camera, Action!

Samsung recently announced exclusive deals for its 8 Megapixel Camera phone Innov8 (Innovate ;) a.k.a. Samsung i8510 or GT-i8510.

Its a 3.5G Symbian smartphone with an 8 megapixel camera, WiFi and GPS, plus an advanced multimedia player and a whole host of other features that compete head on with the Nokia N96 and N95 8GB. The "8" in "Innov8" refers to the i8510's advanced 8 megapixel camera. This has autofocus and a dual LED flash, plus an image stabiliser, panoramic stitching, face detection and a number of other clever features lifted straight out of Samsung's dedicated digital camera range. Sometimes we have seen disappointing video capture quality with some rival phones, but not so with the Innov8 which is capable of recording VGA resolution video at 30 frames per second, or QVGA resolution at 120 frames per second. The Innov8 also has built-in video editing and an FM radio with RDS, plus stereo Bluetooth and a 3.5mm audio output socket.

More features, pictures, etc in Mobile Gazette website.

Note that Samsung has previously already released 10 Megapixel camera with 3x Optical zoom. The SCH-B600 was shown off in CeBit in 2006. Dont know if it was launched in Europe anywhere.

Reiter's Camera Phone report has some interesting statistics on Camera phones. One of the interesting bit of information was summary of Ofcom communication Market report 2007. Based on that 84% of the phones sold in UK now have camera and 38% of people surveyed said that they use their mobile camera regularly. Another article mentions that 40% of Japanese print camera phone photos. More Interesting bits on Reiter's camera phone report.

There is another set of statistics from (via Click Chic) for US:

  • 63.8 percent of users ages 18-30 say they use their cell phone’s camera at least once a week, while 26.3 percent reported using it daily
  • “Family events” and “scenery/sightseeing” remain the top reasons cited for using a camera phone, but social uses separated the younger adults from the over-30 crowd - 58.3 percent of cell phone users ages 18-30 report using a cell phone regularly “to document nightlife,” while just 29.9 percent of those over 30 made a similar claim.
  • individuals ages 18-30 use their camera phones to publish photos to online social media four times as much as respondents over 30 years of age.
  • 96.3 percent of adult cell phone owners report that they have a cell phone with a camera. (No surprise here, since most cell phones now come with a camera.)
  • 19 percent of adults prefer to use their cell phone as their primary camera for all photography.
  • 77.2 percent of photos taken remain stored in the phone, 45.4 percent are used as wall-paper and 38.6 percent are sent to friends via MMS.
  • 20.2 percent of respondents say they have snapped a photo of an attractive man/woman, and 7.5 percent have photographed an unsuspecting stranger.
  • 46.4 percent of all adults and two-thirds of adults age 18-30 say they use their cell phone to snap self-portraits.
  • 19.8 percent say they have snuck a picture while pretending to do something else.

Things have changed since Nokia became the biggest Camera manufacturer. Over the last couple of years the resolution of phone cameras have improved and at the same time the quality has improved as well. The are now coming with much better equipped cameras with professional quality lens.

Martin pointed out in his post earlier that Flickr maintains live statistics of the cameras being used to upload photos. In his post in January he mentioned that Nokia N95 has just overtaken N73 but I can see that Iphone is now the leader as can be seen above.

Phone Cameras is one area that is being seriously thought about in search for Killer applications.

Wednesday 3 September 2008

Thumbs up to NFC in London trial

Guardian reported, Passengers on London Underground could be using their mobile phones to get through the ticket barriers and even pay for their lunch within the next two years, after a successful trial of technology in the capital by O2 and Transport for London.

The mobile phone company integrated Oyster card technology and a Barclaycard Visa card into a Nokia 6131 handset and gave it to 500 testers who spent six months using the phone as a mobile wallet.

  • 78% want to use contactless services on their mobile phone
  • Nine out of ten trialists were happy using NFC technology on a mobile phone
  • Interest in having Oyster on their mobile phones was particularly strong with 89% of trialists saying they were interested in taking this up
  • Over two-thirds of trialists also said that they would be interested in having the Barclaycard Visa payWave feature on their mobile in the future.
  • Having Oyster on their mobile phone actually increased trialists use of public transport. One in five (22%) trialists using Pay as You Go Oyster reported that they increased the number of journeys they made on public transport during the trial.
  • Overall, almost 50,000 tube journeys took place using the O2 Wallet during the six month trial.
  • 67% said that they found it more convenient to use than a standard Oyster card.
  • 87% said that availability of the service would be likely to influence their purchase of a new mobile phone.
From Guardian again, In Japan, such phones have been in use for more than four years. The Japanese railway network has been using the technology since 2001 and millions of cards have been issued. But the technology used in Japan is based on Sony's FeliCa chip technology, which is different from that used in the O2 trial and by Transport for London for the Oyster card.

Philip Makinson, at industry experts Greenwich Consulting, said mobile wallets had fallen down in the past because of the number of people needed to make any system viable.

"It requires cooperation, not just between handset manufacturers and network operators but third parties such as Visa or Mastercard and banks and retailers. To reach critical mass you really need to have at least three of the big operators to be involved or there is not enough in it for the likes of Transport for London or Nokia," said Makinson.

Several of the UK's five mobile phone networks are understood to be interested in mobile wallets.

"There does seem to be consumer demand for it, people are saying they want to carry less stuff around with them," said Makinson.
The results of the O2 trial show that people like using a mobile phone to do more than send texts and talk.

Monday 1 September 2008


The way most of mobile savvy people work is that they have bundles of free minutes on their mobile which they use for calling people locally/nationally and then they have VoIP based clients like Skype they use for calling people on similar services locally/nationally/internationally. There is a constant juggle between Mobile numbers and VoIP numbers. What if we were able to use our number with VoIP client so regardless of whom you are calling, if they have a similar VoIP service on their side, you get free call and if they dont have this VoIP client then you use your inclusive minutes or get charged. ENUM will be able to solve this.

According to a Yankee Group report titled "ENUM Will Be Reinvented as a Strategic NGN Element", In spite of its early struggles, ENUM, short for Electronic Numbering or Telephone Number Mapping, is well positioned to provide a fundamental underpinning of the Anywhere Network™ as it relates to the efficient routing of any IP-based service across operator domains. It is in this new role that ENUM evolves from its rather meager beginnings to a strategic role in the transition to IP.

I wrote about ENUM sometime back as that was mentioned as magical entity in one of the conferences. Since then I have managed to find the Nominet presentation which was discussed in the conference. Infact there was a conference in London on ENUM organised by Nominet. If you are not clear about ENUM from my earlier Blog then please check Technology Inside Blog here.
We can discuss again here, why ENUM is important:

Imagine the NHS has 500 telephone numbers that it operates as 0800 freephone numbers to allow customer (patients) to contact various local departments. The cost of each minute of every call is borne by the NHS so ultimately by the British taxpayer. Now the NHS also has VoIP connectivity and decides to advertise their 0800 numbers through DNS using ENUM. Subsequently, every time someone using VoIP decides to call any of those 0800 numbers their VoIP provider will find the 0800 number in the ENUM DNS listings for the NHS and will connect the caller to the medical department using VoIP alone - at no cost to either party (usually).

Siemens have a very good presentation that shows different uses of ENUM.

Clearly with this approach there is scope for financial savings. That said, there remains considerable work needed to achieve even this small goal, let alone the potential options further down the road.

In case you were wondering, ENUM is an international standard being implemented by individual countries separately through their respective Governments. The UK Government, through regulator OFCOM, has assigned the design, implementation and ongoing administration of the project to UKEC who, in turn, have contracted much of the work to Nominet. Nominet administer and maintain the .uk gTLD - when you buy any domain ending .uk it is ultimately sold by Nominet although almost always through a reseller (”registrar”) like GoDaddy.

GSMA and NeuStar have been working with leading operators to provide a standards-based solution to this problem. This solution is the Number Resolution Service, or NRS.

NRS is a GSMA Managed Service operated by NeuStar. The service facilitates IP interoperability by translating telephone numbers to IP-based addresses. Interoperability is particularly important in facilitating the uptake of emerging services such as MMS, IMS and Packet Voice.

Based on Carrier ENUM, NRS is available to mobile operators, fixed network operators, and related service providers. The service is currently being piloted with a number of operators, with commercial availability scheduled for the autumn of 2008.

As next generation IP-based services proliferate, operators can utilise NRS to position new services behind the telephone number already used by subscribers. Whenever a telephone number is used to identify an end user, the NRS service will facilitate the discovery of URI containing information specific to the service being provided.

NRS is provided as an off the shelf managed service, interoperable on a global basis, providing all the facilities and features necessary to implement an operator’s interconnect policies. Pricing is based on a cost effective “pay as you go” model with no up front capital investment required. NRS thus helps lower the entry barrier for new services and promotes innovation by simplifying the product development and implementation process.

ENUM is going to be hated by the CPs because it will lower their per minute revenue which they are getting at the moment but they it is definitely going to provide new opportunities (and competetion). At the same time the customers will love it because they will get loads of free calls and dont have to worry too much about installing different VoIP clients on their phones. At present it is still in the initial stages with everyone waiting for others to adopt it first but ENUM is here to stay.

  • ENUM - tElephone NUmber Mapping (I have also seen Electronic NUMbering)
  • CP - Communications Provider
  • SBC - Session Border Controller
  • NHS - National Health Service (in UK)
  • NRS - Number Resolution Service
  • GSMA - GSM Association