Tuesday 28 October 2008

AUO to show off upcoming innovations

AU Optronics Corp.'s recently announced vision for the next decade, AUO announced a series of forthcoming innovations, including the world's first 24-inch 2D/3D mix mode panel, a range of 4.3-inch to 15-inch multi-touch panels, and the world's first 2.8-inch image/fingerprint scanning technology on QVGA mobile device panel. AUO plans to showcase these new technological achievements in the upcoming FPD International 2008, to be held in Yokohama, Japan.

With the 3D display's inevitable growing popularity, there will be a variety of future applications in various fields, including market advertising, video games, medical imaging, industrial design, education training and more. AUO presents the world's first 24-inc h 2D/3D mix mode display panel supporting Full HD, by controlling designated areas on the panel to accomplish parallax. Without wearing glasses, the same monitor can simultaneously display high-resolution 2D images as well as high-depth 3D images.

Another 24-inch 3D display that requires specialized glasses, on the other hand, can also diminish the side effects such as dizziness after a long observation. In addition, the lenticular lens technology's 2D/3D switchable 7-inch 3D display panel, again without the need of specialized glasses, simplifies the switch between 3D images and reading conventional 2D text, solving previous 2D text reading difficulties and inconvenience.

Dedicated to the development of in-cell multi-touch panel technology for years, AUO released a series of in-cell multi-touch display in new sizes ranging from 4.3-inch to 15-inch, some of which can even be integrated into computer applications. A 15-inch in-cell multi-touch display panel utilizes p hoto-sensing technology and is sensitive to both a light pen and a finger touch.

For instance, users can dance their fingers across as on the black and white keys of a virtual piano on an LCD display, playing a melodious tune; or use the light pen as a remote control in a thrilling video game; or simply be delight along with others in this amazing multi-touch functionality. In the future, it can eventually be applied to TV remote controls, making further inroads in improving the usability of these age-old human-computer interfaces. Other multi-touch panel innovations include a 12.1-inch WXGA panel with finger-supported input and a 4.3-inch hybrid in-cell multi-touch panel that support both stylus input and finger input. These will indisputably make future handheld devices and notebook computers more intuitive and easier to use and can even possibly replace the function of the keyboard altogether.

Along with the modern pursuit of a novel, convenient and trendy lifestyle, smartphone devices will also continue to be innovated. Aside from its basic information platform, it can also be a new medium and interface that will provide a new life experience. Great news for both health-conscious and beauty lovers alike: AUO is releasing for the first time a 2.8-inch VGA UV-sensing mobile phone panel that can not only sense UV rays but also alert users in real-time their exposure to harmful UV.

In addition, AUO boasts another groundbreaking innovation, the world's first 2.8-inch QVGA mobile phone panel with image / fingerprint scanning technology, with the high s ensing resolution of up to 288 dpi, bringing mobile phone technology to a new level. After the image is scanned, the technology can enhance the image and then show the scanned image in real time. This new technology realizes consumers' dreams to utilize fingerprint identity while shopping in the future. Yet another 2.2-inch mobile phone panel applies modern optics technology to be borderless, increasing the viewable size of the screen active area. The borderless panel model will revolutionize mobile phone aesthetic design for the future.

Other small and mid-sized innovations also include: a 6.5-inch WVGA ultra-high contrast display panel that utilizes new pixel design with a high contrast ratio of 2000:1 and the 4.3-inch in-cell multi-touch panel that will be implemented in the up and coming Mobile Internet Device (MID), one of the top platforms and user interfaces.

Dr. CT Liu, vice president and general manager of AUO Consumer Product Display Business Group is full of confidence and passion regarding the future. He reiterated AUO's commitment to its new vision.

He said: "In addition to the ceaseless pursuit of technological innovations, AUO will also continue to shape cutting-edge thinking in this field. LCD's have progressively become a cross-technology phenomenon, making advancements in the domains of mobile internet devices, smartphone devices, and essentially the entire range of portable audio-visual systems. AUO vigorously strives to further develop display technology and is committed to excellence. With the various needs of entertainment, life and the workplace in mind, we expect our new panel innovations to provide more value and enrich the overall quality of life."

Mobile Fingerprint Scanners

Police in UK will reportedly be issued with mobile fingerprint scanners so they can check peoples' identities in the street.

The hand-held devices are no bigger than a BlackBerry smartphone and will apparently be issued to every police force in the UK under a scheme called Mobile Identification At Scene (Midas).

They will enable officers to scan suspects' fingerprints on the spot and compare them against records on the police national biometric database, Ident1.

It is claimed the scanners will save police time and cut the number of wrongful arrests.
Currently, officers have to take suspects to custody suites to check their fingerprints - a procedure that takes an average of 67 minutes.

Details of the hand-held technology, which may ultimately be able to receive pictures of suspects, were revealed at a conference presentation by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NIPA).

The devices are expected to be in widespread use within 18 months.

I was trying to find out a bit more about these devices; which technology they use and how is the data transferred over the air but no luck. Any information would be useful.

Monday 27 October 2008

Customisable services on their way

According to a survey in Mformation:

80 percent of respondents to the survey indicated that they would use mobile services more if greater personalization were possible. 67 percent of mobile subscribers stated they would be willing to pay a premium to personalize their mobile devices and the applications and services on them. In fact, 86 percent of people said this would enrich their mobile experience. The research also revealed that over two thirds (68%) of mobile users find buying a phone frustrating when they know that there are applications and services on it that they will never use. This clearly demonstrates that greater personalization offers an opportunity to unlock pent-up demand.
The research also found the following results:
  • Revenue-generating mobile data services such as mobile email (43%), Internet (51%) and picture messaging (46%) are gaining ground as the most frequently used applications.
  • There are still a large number of people who never or rarely use these applications (email – 57 %, Internet – 49%, picture messaging – 54%).
  • More than half of people who don’t currently have access to these applications would use them if they were made available in a simple and compelling manner (email – 62%, Internet – 58%, picture messaging – 68%).

94 percent of consumers are already attempting to personalize their phones with items like specific ringtones or accessories. However, 89 percent said that they would like a higher level of personalization through the ability to pick and mix applications, services, and other characteristics of the handset such as form factors and designs. Moreover, 81 percent would switch to a provider that offered greater choice for customization.

Now, a forthcoming update to the Open Mobile Alliance Device Management (OMA DM) standard for mobile phones will make it easier for users to personalise their handset, for which there is enormous potential demand

Matt Bancroft, Mformation vice president, said that operators have a strong role to play in making this happen, and stand to gain as many respondents indicated that they would switch carrier and be prepared to pay extra for the ability to customise their handset.

Bancroft suggested that the OMA DM extensions, due to be ratified in 2009, will enable users of feature phones to customise their handset as much as high-end smartphone users already can.

"In essence, the update adds a new managed object defined for delivery, installation, activation and management of applications," he said.

The new extension, called Software Component Management Object, is already available as a pre-ratified version in Mformation's management tools for mobile operators, according to Bancroft.

"It also means profound things for software developers. A billion and a half mobile phones are sold each year, so there will be a much broader market for applications in the next 12-18 months once this standard becomes available," he said.

Sunday 26 October 2008

Femtocells may not be that close to deployment yet

Recently Zahid Ghadialy in his blog mentioned about the first deployment of Femotcells by NEC and Ubiquisys. Since then you must have thought that the femotcells will pick up and will be commercialized very soon. I am not hundred percent sure this is the case though as I have come across few articles which suggest that operators are no way near to the launch of femtocells for various reasons.

While the enthusiasm for femtocells continues unabated, several of the mobile operators that have once taken the lead are having second thoughts due to unresolved technical issues and unclear business cases.

These concerns came to the surface during the Femtocell Europe 2008 conference when SFR said it had delayed selecting a femtocell supplier because of undefined industry standards. The company said that the expected deployment of the technology now would not commence until sometime next year.

SFR, of which Vodafone Group owns 44 per cent, participated in Vodafone's group-level request for proposals for femtocells last year, but it also issued its own RFQ separately. "We're assessing another technology in parallel," said Thierry Berthouloux, network solutions director at SFR. "However, we have decided to extend that assessment period and have put this process on hold to give equipment suppliers time to consolidate roadmaps. There's no point making a decision today."

In my view it is very important that if femtocells have to be a success then there should be agreed standard so that there is no confusion as such towards the technology. When I say confusion what I mean is that if there is a set and agreed standard then most of the questions or doubts will be answered. According to those close to the situation, the issue for the major operators in agreeing to a standard is the need for clarity on 3GPP status and the lack of resource being provided by the larger femtocell vendors to achieve this.

Although the above scenario does present a bleak picture but all is not lost for femtocells commercialization. Some operators although having some concerns have not given up on femtocells and are continuing with their trials and testing.

Once of such operator is Telefonica O2, which having already conducted consumer and equipment trials earlier this year, is now looking to another femtocell pilot early next year. Although this retesting will mean O2 will miss its earlier forecast of a commercial femtocell launch during Q1/09 but at the same time it does presents a hopeful image for O2’s commercial launch of femtocells.
The femtocells developer Ubiquisys, which took part in O2's trial this year, said a phased approach should not be unexpected and would be typical of the way operators evaluate new technologies and products, such as femtocells.

But in my view O2’s retrial itself is not enough and I firmly believe that if femtocell technology has to be a success then other operators must join O2 as well, given that O2 has been a firm advocate for the technology anyway. It is true that there are operators other than O2 who might be interested in the technolgy and hence will be interested in the deployment of femtocells. But the delay in O2 plans might draw a conclusion for these other operators that the business case for 3G home access points and services remains in question. This might also bring into doubt reports that 2010 would be the year of significant deployments for femtocells in Europe.

Whatever is the outcome I do hope that the industry gets their acts together and work their socks off towards the success of femtocells?

The femtocell market is primed to grow in 2008 and hence the global revenues generated by the femtocell equipment vendors are forecast to grow as well. Whatever the discrepancy over the market size, the perception of significant growth in femtocells illustrates the potential opportunity both technically and commercially.

Friday 24 October 2008

LTE Femtocells: Stepping stone for killer applications

I am speaking in the LTE World Summit on 19th November and the title of my presentation is LTE Femtocells: Stepping stone for killer applications.

I am interested in hearing peoples opinions and views about this topic. You can emails me [my first name].[my last name]@yahoo.com. If you give me ideas then in return I will send you my presentation after I have presented it in the conference.

You can download the brochure from here.

Thursday 23 October 2008

LTE and LTE-Advanced Official Logos now available

3GPP has finally decided to release the official logos and they will be using them extensively to promote LTE and LTE-Advanced. At the same time, the 3GPP website will be revamped and made to look a bit modern. This is the offical comment:

To establish the LTE term as a 3GPP brand, I have been working with the legal team to establish our claim to be the owner of the term.

In May 2008, the ETSI legal team submitted the term LTE as a trade mark, this will allow us to use the term and to be a guardian to ensure that it is not hi-jacked by external organisations. The process has now been completed for France, which allows us to extend trademark protection for “LTE” through an International Registration.

Two new logos have been created to promote the Technical Specifications and Reports for LTE and LTE-Advanced. The logos will be used to identify 3GPP deliverables that contain features that enable LTE or LTE-A.

The logos will also allow 3GPP to leverage its lead in LTE, by use of the logo on marketing material (Web sites, Brochures, Booths, etc.).

via: LTE watch.

10Million+ iPhones in 2008

Apple sold 6.89 million iPhones in its FY2008 4th quarter ending Sept. 27. According to the Merc,, the iPhone was the US leader for smartphone sales during that period, surpassing the BlackBerry.

This figure is slightly below the estimates of the biggest iPhone boosters, and totals only 9.3 million phones for the year. However, MacWorld reports that Apple has confirmed that it passed the 10 million mark in the past few weeks after the end of the quarter. This means that with the Christmas season their 2008 sales should easily surpass 12 million units.

Before the iPhone was released, many (notably including Steve Ballmer) predicted they would not hit 10 million.

The company has so far sold 6.9 million iPhone 3G units, eclipsing the 6.1 BlackBerry sales pushed by RIM in the same quarter.

Apple outsold RIM last quarter, and this is a milestone for us. RIM is a good company that makes good products, and so it is surprising that we could outsell them in any quarter after only 15 months in the market,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

According to Tomi Ahonen at ForumOxford:

Apple reports it sold 6.9 million units of the 3G iPhone. That compares with 6.1 million units of the original 2G iPhone. During the past 4 quarters, total 2G and 3G iPhone sales were 11.6 million, so Apple did clear its stated target of 10 million iPhone sales during fiscal year 2008 by a happy margin of 16%.So the installed base of iPhones (2G and 3G) is 13 million today, and more than half of all iPhones in use today are 3G versions.

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Bank inside a Phone

Yes you read it correctly, A Little World (ALW), a Mumbai-based company, which has come up with a unique idea: turning a regular mobile phone to play the role of a bank’s branch.

Faced with the challenge of creating affordable solutions to enable penetration of banking in rural areas, ALW came up with this solution. The equipment costs not more than Rs 30,000 (pounds 400 or $700) through which a bank’s branch becomes functional and offers facilities like depositing/withdrawing money, electronic money transfer, crediting of pension money and also having an online passbook.

Other peripherals that make up the branch are a printer-cum-fingerprint scanning machine, cash box to store upto Rs one lakh in cash and a high resolution camera. The mobile phone can store data of upto 50,000 customers including the entire identification profile comprising a picture and six fingerprint templates among other details.

A big opportunity was unlocked after RBI announced a new policy initiative to allow banks to do business using the ‘business correspondent’ model. Under this, a bank ties up with third parties like ALW’s clients Zero Mass to conduct business in far-off areas on behalf of the banks. All the mobile phones have latest security features and are connected to ALW (the technology and backend partner for Zero mass) servers using GPRS or EDGE technology. The ALW server is in turn connected to the core-banking server of the client bank due to which a transaction is made possible just like it happens in a conventional way.

The critical necessity to opening a branch though is the availability of mobile coverage at the villages and ALW has tie ups with all the major GSM mobile phone operators in the country. Zero Mass currently has tie ups with 24 banks to operate their banking operations in remote and unserviced areas across 18 Indian states.

Christened as ‘Zero Platform’ for branchless banking based on mobile, a branch is typically set up in the village grocery store or panchayat office. Peripherals like the printer and camera are connected to the mobile phone using Bluetooth technology and the entire system has been designed so that it can function even during power cuts, which the villages often experience. “The selected handset (either Nokia or Motorola) has features for encryption and decryption of data through which we can make use of a public medium like GPRS to send data,” says ALW’s Chief Technology Officer Anurag Gupta.

In a short span of a year, ALW has set up over 2,800 branches for Zero Mass across the country and has plans to increase the total number of branches to 5,000 by December this year. The accounts are opened free for a period of 10 years and Zero Mass currently boasts of over 12 lakh accounts with around 20,000 added everyday. “The mobile phone operated branch is a great idea. I fail to understand why others in the same space like us have not made use of existing technologies to come up with feasible solutions like this which offer exponential growth opportunity due to low capital expenditure,” says Gupta.

Zero Mass’s motto is to increase electronic transactions like payments and crediting of accounts , Gupta says. Keeping this in view, customers are encouraged to use the account for electronic money transfer, insurance premium payments, depositing of National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) wages and pension funds in the account. As a pilot project, mobile recharge payments are also being done through Zero Mass-operated branches.

ALW gets a certain amount as technical fees for rendering its services while Zero Mass gets a percentage as commission for each deposit and withdrawal transaction made at the branch. Gupta, also a director at Zero Mass, says the way forward for the company is to make use of the platform for more profitable transactions offering bigger commissions such as mobile phone recharges and railway ticket booking.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Femtocells for Radiation proofed homes

Over the weekend, I visited an old colleague who has moved in a new development. I was surprised to get nearly no reception on both my phones which are on different networks. Just outside their house the reception was ok but inside there was none. On inquiring I found out that the developers in some new construction are giving option to people to have their house "Radiation Proofed". This means that they will paint the interior with ssome special paint and put a thin film coating on the windows. So now the occupants of the house are protected by harmful radiation from mobile antennas, other WiFi signals, UV radiation, etc., etc. What people dont tend to realise is that their mobiles will become nearly useless in the house. This will be the case untill Femtocells are rolled out.

My ex-colleague is very interested in the Femtocells now since he has no reception on mobiles in his house but unfortunately he will have to wait for some time.

Google search revealed an article titled Cellphone Signal Blocking via transparent window film (via engadget ... but for some reason the engadget site hangs ... so I have given actual cellular news link) which gives information on someone recently making these films.

Anyone aware of some more of these kinds of films? Any ideas on how much radiation-proofing they can provide? Should we all be having these once Femtocells are here and then just having controlled radiation in our house? I am interested in hearing opinions and suggestions.

Saturday 18 October 2008

Economic turbulence might effect funding of LTE and WiMax?

What a past few weeks we had in term of banking crises. There is no doubt that the recent turbulence in the banking sector has developed nervousness in everybody regarding the future we are going to have. I firmly believe that although the bail out has been carried by respective governments for the banks the turbulence will slip into the real economy before it starts getting better.

There is every possibility that in the near future the economic turbulence will have an impact on the funding of the projects. Some people may argue that efficient and good planning will take us through and hence the projects will not be affected. But the only question I am asking though is where the money will come from?

I do have a suspicion that as far as telecoms are concerned some of the major projects that will get affected in terms of funding will be LTE and WiMax.

We could we see analysts recalculating their projections for WiMAX and LTE soon in light of the struggling economy. There are many people out there who are putting a question mark in front of the plans that the major operators have got for LTE and WiMax. For example this week Forbes is questioning whether Sprint and the new Clearwire, which is expected to include Sprint's WiMAX network in the fold by the end of the year, can pull off a nationwide launch in a troubled economy. While Clearwire will have $3.2 billion from partners Intel, Google, Comcast, Time Warner and Brighthouse, it will need to raise an additional $2 billion to complete the network. These extra $2 billion would have been easy to generate may be a year ago but no in the current climate where there is already a shortage of money.

I am a firm believer that sometime these crises are good as this makes analysts, planning personal, designers and engineers realize to work hard and sort out the problems which they might have been complacently ignored in good times. Keeping in line with this thought, Clearwire could gain an advantage if the credit crunch lingers. Competitors AT&T and Verizon Wireless plan to deploy LTE and would likely freeze any deployments. For AT&T, such a deployment could be more than five years away as the operator doesn't seem to be in a big hurry to deploy the technology.

As I mentioned above sometimes these crises force the analysts to think hard and make sensible decisions.
For this reason I can now see that some of the companies have started taking HSPA and HSPA+ seriously which I though was always a good bet for fast mobile broadband till we get LTE. Some of operators and vendors have now reiterated their position that its HSPA and HSPA+ 3G network technology still had a lot of life left in it, and that LTE technology would not be rolled out for at least another three years and probably not on a large commercial scale for another five years.

Certainly the idea of throwing LTE on the backburner is not good for vendors that want to see operators invest in new technology soon. I am not saying this either but in the current economic climate operators and vendors can take HSPA and HSPA+ seriously do that the ARPU(average revenue per user) keep rising. If they are able to do so then the revenue generated can be used to fund the LTE/WiMax project. And once the economy starts rolling again which I’m sure will do in six months, money can pumped in heavily and vigorous plans can be drafted for LTE/WiMax.

The bigger question which arises is whether the operators can hook consumers on new technology in a tough economy. I believe they certainly can because HSPA and HSPA+ have lot to offer to consumers.

There are some analysts though which does not believe that that current economic climate will significantly impact communications usage and growth. They argue that communications are critical and relatively cheap compared to the real costly items for disposable income such as air travel, cars, home upgrades, schools, clothes, etc. They say communication revenues will probably increases and I think they might have a point here.

With the medicine provided by the governments of rich nations in terms of liquidity yet to reach to the patients, it will be a while before things start to look bit better. Let’s hope that the economy starts rolling again.

WiMAX publicity videos from Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) has couple of interesting videos on youtube on WiMAX.

The first one is more of educational video showing how WiMAX is useful for everyone in everyday life:

Honestly, other technologies could be as useful as WiMAX. The other one is more of marketing presentation showing ALU offers on WiMAX.


Thursday 16 October 2008

LED-Fi: Replacement for WiFi Hotspots

Before we start, I have to confess that I made up LED-Fi. I was thinking more of LiFi but there is already a LiFi technology from Panasonic (not al all related ti this one though).
According to a post in cellular news, Lightbulbs Could Replace Wi-Fi Hotpsots in future:

­Boston University's College of Engineering is launching a program, under a National Science Foundation grant, to develop the next generation of wireless communications technology based on visible light instead of radio waves. Researchers expect to piggyback data communications capabilities on low-power light emitting diodes, or LEDs, to create "Smart Lighting" that would be faster and more secure than current network technology.
This initiative aims to develop an optical communication technology that would make an LED light the equivalent of a Wi-Fi access point.

"Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires," said BU Engineering Professor Thomas Little. "This could be done with an LED-based communications network that also provides light - all over existing power lines with low power consumption, high reliability and no electromagnetic interference. Ultimately, the system is expected to be applicable from existing illumination devices, like swapping light bulbs for LEDs."

Little envisions indoor optical wireless communications systems that use white LED lighting within a room - akin to the television remote control device - to provide Internet connections to computers, personal digital assistants, television and radio reception, telephone connections and thermostat temperature control.

With widespread LED lighting, a vast network of light-based communication is possible, Little noted. A wireless device within sight of an enabled LED could send and receive data though the air - initially at speeds in the 1 to 10 megabit per second range - with each LED serving as an access point to the network. Such a network would have the potential to offer users greater bandwidth than current RF technology.

Moreover, since this white light does not penetrate opaque surfaces such as walls, there is a higher level of security, as eavesdropping is not possible. LED lights also consume far less energy than RF technology, offering the opportunity to build a communication network without added energy costs and reducing carbon emissions over the long term.

The ability to rapidly turn LED lights on and off - so fast the change is imperceptible to the human eye - is key to the technology. Flickering light in patterns enables data transmission without any noticeable change in room lighting. And the technology is not limited to indoor lights; its first real test may very well come outdoors, in the automotive industry.

I can understand how the downlink would work but not sure how uplink data transfer would work.

Similar technology using Light Bulbs has been available for some time. See this and this.

Wednesday 15 October 2008

More defections to LTE camp

Nearly a year back, I blogged about Verizon defecting to LTE rather than going for UMB as it would be its natural evolution path. Last week Canada's Bell Canada and Telus Mobility announced plans to overlay their CDMA networks with HSPA technology by 2010 with an eventual move to LTE technology.

In a recent blog, I mentioned that operators moving from EV-DO to LTE can go via HSPA path or can also go for eHRPD. Fortunately, 3GPP saw that some operators may move to 3GPP camp and leave 3GPP2 due to economy of scale and much more variety of handsets, test tools, etc. Going back to the news item:

The move follows Verizon Wireless' decision to deploy LTE in the 700 MHz spectrum it won earlier this year. However, Verizon is skipping an HSPA deployment, choosing to continue investing in its EV-DO network that will likely complement the new LTE network for some time. Telus said the HSPA deployment would enable "a smoother transition to long term evolution (LTE) technology."

"Bell's transition to the global 4G LTE standard with a combined EV-DO and HSPA network path aligns us with more than 30 major carriers worldwide planning a similar move to LTE," said Stephen Howe, CTO with the operator. "This broad global technology ecosystem will mean a fast, efficient and cost-effective network transition to 4G LTE, and access to the broadest possible range of next-generation phones and data services."

Telus Mobility and Bell Canada both won spectrum in Canada's AWS-1 auction.

Tuesday 14 October 2008

Which way: Femtocells or UMA?

Discussions are again resurfacing about which technology should be used to improve coverage; Femtocells or UMA. Honestly, I have not been a big supporter of UMA (and you dont have to agree with me) and earlier this year when Nokia raised doubts about the technology, i stopped following it completely. Kineto has been the biggest supporter of UMA and is still carrying the torch.

Kineto recently received over $15 million in investment from Motorola that it plans to use to increase its reach in UMA. Last month it had received investment from NEC. One of the reasons for the resurgence could be because the UMA technology has matured since being used for some time. T-Mobile has already rolled Hotspot @ Home using UMA. Also more phones are now available supporting UMA.

One of the drawbacks that will always be present in case of UMA is that special handsets will be required that would support WiFi as UMA is based on 802.11. This means more expensive phones and higher consumption of power leading to smaller battery lives. One more problem with UMA is the interference due to other ISM band devices and there are many technologies like Bluetooth, etc that are competing for the band.

The drawback in case of Femtocells could be that their price is still quite high as complete Node B + RNC functionality is generally available in a Femtocell and at the same time all the aspects have not yet been standardised. Along with these, Femtocells that use the same spectrum as that of the operator can cause interference with the Macro cell. This would in turn require very clever management of spectrum frequencies, etc.

A possible long term solution could be (but I dont see anyone agreeing to it right now) that phones with UMA technology become more common and a combined UMA + Femtocell equipment is rolled out by the operator. At the end user premises, depending on the strength of rf reception, the equipment can either use UMA or normal Femtocell functionality. If this idea is agreed upon, then there would still be couple of years before all interworking and other technological problems are ironed out.

Monday 13 October 2008

Femtocells and the stealing of Spectrum

When Femtocells are finally rolled out, it would be possible for anyone to create their own little mobile cell anywhere to enhance their coverage. At least that is what the Femtocells are supposed to help with. This would also mean that the spectrum would be open to abuse by someone who wants to abuse it.

Let's take a scenario in which someone buys a Femtocell from an operator in UK. The Femtocells will be operator specific since they will contain lots of parameters and addresses that would be terminating in the operator network. Then that person can take the Femtocell away to another country (say India) and connect the Femtocell to an Ethernet port in India. The IP packets would be routed via IP to the operator and the user is now connected via Femtocell to the UK operator even though he in in India. He would get the same treatment as in case he was in UK.

Let me point out that this would be illegal because the Spectrum in India would belong to an operator in India or this spectrum may be used for something completely different.

The operators and the device manufacturers are aware of this potential abuse. As a result they are going to use a two step approach. The first is that they would allow Femtocell to register from a registered telephone line via an IP address. They may have access to ISP data or would be aware of the range of IP address being used by the ISP. The Femtocell user will hence have to register their Telephone line and ISP with the network operator and if they change them then this would need to be informed to the operator. The second is that they would check the location of the device via GPS. This can have two problems. The first is the cost of the Femtocell will increase and the second is that unless the Femtocell is near a window or an open area, there would be no GPS signals received and the GPS approach may not work. One of the obvious use of Femtocell in London city for example is in the basements where there is absolutely no coverage due to their location.

Note that from the above you can see that even if the Femtocells are advertised as PnP or Zero Touch, etc., there would still be some overhead that will always be required.

Even if we assume that both the above approaches are being used, it may stop mass market fraud but may not be able to deter individuals who are smart enough to work around them. For example the user in India (example in the start) may use VPN to tunnel the IP packets to their home or registered address in UK and from there the packets will go to the operator network. Similarly it is not too difficult to fool the GPS receiver into believing its location.

The operators are aware and working on something better then the above strategy. I have not come across any papers yet suggesting work around these problems.

This also highlights an important problem regarding emergency calls. Should the emergency calls go via Femtocell or should they be re-directed to Macro cell. Again a clever algorithm would be needed for this. There could be a configurable parameter in the Femtocell which can check during the startup if Macrocell is present or not. If Macrocell is present then emergency calls should be re-directed and if not present then the user should be able to initiate it via Femtocell.

There are probably many more problems that would be highlighted once Femtocells are rolled out.

What on earth is this 4G, anyway?

Over the past two years I have been hearing a lot about next generation technologies. It all started by 3.5G i.e. HSPA evolution etc and hence the debate entered into the area of 4G.
Everybody comes along on the blogs, articles, tech magazines etc and make himself/herself comfortable as per their liking with the word 4G.

Some people use the term "4G" to describe WiMAX technology. This terminology i.e. 4G used by WiMax camp does indeed upset some people specially the ones in the LTE camp.

Everyday I come across individuals who have different view regarding the 4G terms. Some do shockingly tell me that neither WiMax nor LTE is a 4G technology rather LTE evolution or LTE advanced will be termed as a 4G technology.

I have literally reached to stage now where I think I should give up now and just leave to almighty to decide what actually a 4G technology is. If you ask me about my personal opinion on this then my view is quite clear in this. I categorize 1G as analog mobile, 2G as digital, 3G as CDMA, and 4G as anything using OFDM. It's pretty simple, it is straightforward, there's not a lot of haggling.

Wikipedia says "There is no formal definition for what 4G is; however, there are certain objectives that are projected for 4G. These objectives include: that 4G will be a fully IP-based integrated system. 4G will be capable of providing between 100 Mbit/s and 1 Gbit/s speeds both indoors and outdoors, with premium quality and high security."

By the Wikipedia definition, three out of four definitions are met under the existing definitions of WiMAX; nobody thinks that the current definition of WiMAX is going to be able to crank up to 1 Gbit/sec, but life, as they say, ain't so simple.

A spokesperson for Nokia has said "There's no official owner of who defines 4G," and you would think if anyone could tell you what 4G was/is/will be, it would be Nokia.

ITU-R is in the process of defining IMT-Advanced, but, funny enough, the standards body has backed away from the phrase 4G. IMT-Advanced is a "big tent" term that will/may/should encompasses 802.16m and LTE-Advanced which in turn are faster than WiMAX and LTE standards respective. Maybe?

If I understand this descent into acronyms and definitions, even the forthcoming, first generation LTE would not qualify as a 4G technology. That is, if we call IMT-Advanced as the term formerly known as 4G - but not called 4G by ITU-R.

I know this whole argument of 4G terms upset many people. They think and rightly so that the whole concept behind a 'Standards Body' is so that such arguments are moot. These guys think that people use different terms to coin their own standards for marketing, one-upmanship and generally nonconformist attitudes.

Well let's hope that some day somebiody will come out with a clear idnetity of the 4G technology which is acceptable to everybody. Meanwhile my friend in the picture above is working hard to find out what 4G really is.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Revolution of Mobile Phones Arhitecture and Design

The war for the best phones design is heating up and giants like Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson are doing everything they can to outdo each other in terms of design and different application provided on the phone.

There is no doubt this is the era is youths and you would be surprised to see their skills and various things they can do with their mobile phone.

The biggest question which arises is what exactly and how much one need from their mobile phone. If we consider all sections of the society then in my view five things which makes a mobile phone attractive are Talk, text, Music, Games and Mapsor does it so?

Well after the release of iPhone with touch screen the competiton has definitely taken a new dimension.

Continuing in this direction last week Nokia released a new phone at a press unveiling in London, the previously rumoured touch-screen Tube, which it now calls the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic phone.
This device, which has been pegged as Nokia's answer to the iPhone, is both Java and Flash-enabled.

Since the release of iPhone Nokia has been taunted for not having a handset that effectively competes with Apple's 3G iPhone. When Apple CEO Steve Jobs debuted the 3G iPhone, he took some swipes at the Finnish manufacturer by pointing out that the iPhone 3G managed to download a website in 21 seconds while the Nokia N95 took 33 seconds to load the same page.
This latest Nokia phone will have host of features that will be run off of Nokia's latest Symbian operating system, the S60 5th edition. The phone is the latest entrant into the arena to see which handset can become an IPK i.e. an iPhone Killer. As with many such devices, the 5800 has some features similar to Apple's iPhone 3G, and a few that make it unique.The phone will come in three different versions: a quad-band GSM with 850/1900 WCDMA, a quad-band GSM with 900/2100 WCDMA and Quad-band GSM with no 3G capabilities. It has both a 3.2-inch touch-screen display and a 3.2 megapixel camera, WiFi, GPS and HSDPA capabilities, stereo speakers, a touch-screen, drop down media bar menu and finger and stylus user interface controls. It has 8GB of memory, available through a microSD slot. A 16GB slot will be available next year.

It does get a wow out of your mouth after looking at the above specs for this latest Nokia phone.
One of the striking things that Nokia is proposing with its latest touch screen phone is the Music service which could be the start of something new. As per this music service users can download all the music they want and get to keep and play it forever.

Nokia's glitzy launch in London of its latest touch screen phone comes with Music service will have pleased music lovers and the gadget press alike, but UK mobile operators have expressed their displeasure by vowing not to sell the service over their networks.

While these operators will closely monitor this free music download service, their refusal to cooperate with Nokia stems from two, significant issues. Firstly, Nokia is insisting upon a profit-sharing deal albeit that operators can see little margin in selling the handset. Secondly, the operators will be saddled with much increased network traffic caused by the unlimited downloads associated with the service. The fear is that this could run into several Gigabytes per month per handset, which could cripple operators' existing data networks.

Insisting that the situation was not all gloom, Nokia claims to be negotiating with several operators in the hope it can sign several deals in time for Christmas. However, given the majority of the larger European operators already have, or are planning, a music download service, Nokia's Comes with Music can only be seen as a threat.

However, a recent study by market researcher TNS Technology revealed that people aged 16 to 64 wanted to download 64 music tracks a month--which, on a yearly basis, equates to over £600, making the Comes with Music service at £130 look more of an attractive proposition.
Keeping the competition alive, Research in Motion officially also recently unveiled the first touch-screen smartphone in its history. Known as the BlackBerry Storm, or 9500, this new BlackBerry is a 3G device and comes with a "responsive touch screen" that attempts to simulate the tactile experience of actual hardware.

Hewlett-Packard is also planning on releasing a consumer-oriented smartphone. The unnamed device will be released first in Europe, sometime in the late fourth quarter, and will be marketed by a mobile carrier and sold in retail stores. The phone will run on Windows Mobile 6.1, be a touch-screen device and have a full QWERTY keyboard. A worldwide release is scheduled for sometime in 2009.

This war of producing the best design for the mobile phone is definitely good for the consumers especially for the ones who feel proud in carrying a smarter gadget in the form of their mobile phone.

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Future Mobile Terminals: Multiservice, Multinetwork, Multimode

There is an interesting paper in IEEE Wireless Comms Magazine 2008, " ENABLING MULTISERVICE ON 3G AND BEYOND: CHALLENGES AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS" and a gist of that article could also obtained from this presentation by one of its authors.
  • MultiService: The UE should be able to perform multiple services simultaneously. Though this is possible to quite an extent in the present phones, there are still limitations and few allowed combinations that will have to be changed
  • MultiNetwork: These MultiServices should not be restricted to a single network at any time. A user could be having a voice call using HSPA+ network while he is watching youtube clips using 802.11n.
  • MultiMode: For these MultiServices on MultiNetworks, the users will have to use MultiMode terminals with n different kinds protocol stacks. So the terminal would support WLAN, UMTS, HSPA+, LTE, 802.21, WiMAX, Bluetooth, DVB-H, etc. (sorry if missed something else)
This Multinetwork environment providing Multiservice with Multimode terminals is also referred to as Hetrogeneous Wireless Network or HWN.

The real challenge which has not yet been present on the current terminals is that these multiple technologies not only independently provides services to a user, but also interacts with others in a collaborative manner to provide a given QoS guarantees. This will probably require revolutionary design change from the existing approach of multiple protocol stacks each independent of each other.

Another big challenging problem to solve would be automatic handovers horizontally and vertically. A horizontal handover migrates a connection between two homogeneous networks. A vertical handover deals with the migration between heterogeneous networks (e.g., from cellular to WLAN). The terminal will need to have intelligence to handover a particular service horizontally or vertically independent of other services. The terminal will also have to take into account the delay and the loss associated with the handover.

This is all very interesting concept but the complexity and challenges will mean that this wont see light before 2016 or rather 2020.

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Nortel 4G: Cracks in the wall

Sometime in distant past, it seemed that Nortel had everything. They were big in UMTS and HSPA, had a share of CDMA pie in Americas, had loads of patents in OFDM technology which is the basis of most Next Generation technologies, had strategic partnership and very much into R&D on WiMAX and LTE and at the same time also working on 4G Optical technologies.

Then they got rid of 3G and HSPA infrastructure by selling it to Alcatel (now Alcatel-Lucent) and started focussing on 4G only. Then their CDMA business started to suffer because people in Americas are moving onto GSM and CDMA growth opportunities are limited. Recently Nortel has again been in news because it wants to sell its Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) business.

The MEN division includes Nortel's optical business and its carrier Ethernet work, including its Provider Backbone Transport (PBT) technology. That's big news, but so is the lowered forecast. After predicting single-digit sales growth this year, Nortel is now saying its 2008 revenues will be 2 to 4 percent less than the $10.95 billion it reported in 2007.

According to a report in Unstrung, Nortel isn't so keen on developing LTE either, despite repeated claims that it was well positioned to be a major player in that market. When asked during analyst conference call about what actions Nortel might take regarding its 4G developments, CEO Mike Zafirovski said the company is looking for "opportunities to de-risk" its investment. "Future consolidation is necessary in wireless. We're exploring options for 4G that will be best" for Nortel, its customers, and the industry, said the CEO, unhelpfully.

What might those options be? Zafirovski said that "what we did with UMTS and Wimax" are examples of what might happen. Nortel's WiMax strategy is now tied up in the Alvarion relationship, while it sold its 3G UMTS infrastructure business to Alcatel in late 2006.

Analysts, still parsing Nortel's words, see some value in Nortel getting help from partners. “Ever since Nortel exited the UMTS market it’s been next to impossible to see how investing in their own LTE base station would result in anything but huge losses," says Patrick Donegan, Heavy Reading's senior wireless analyst. "Going down the same OEM path as they have with WiMax would at least ensure that those huge losses won’t be suffered. Whether they can go beyond that and carve out a position in LTE which is actually profitable with an OEM partner is unclear but certainly plausible.”

But, just like with carrier Ethernet and optical, the market is too tough for Zafirovski to believe Nortel can be a leading and profitable player. "With eight, nine, ten players competing, industry dynamics require various forms of cooperation," he added.

Despite all the predictions and Hype, 4G or LTE is far away. WiMAX will be rolled out but in chunks and there are already too many people in WiMAX. What Nortel needs and is looking for is some significant partner or perhaps a merger (takeover?). In the meantime it maybe some time before its investors hears any good news from Nortel.

Monday 6 October 2008

Beware of Mobile Billing Strategies...

Since most of the operators are now being forced in the corner due to competition, requiring to offer bigger and cheaper bundles of voice and data they are now fighting back with clever strategies. I have listed some strategies that has been my experience and of some of the people I know. Please feel free to add yours via the comments section.

  1. Apparently, operators lose quite a lot of money when people call customer services. As one of my colleagues put it, operators profit for a month is wiped out when someone makes a call to their customer services and asks to speak to a representative. So this option of speaking to a representative is now buried three or four levels deep and you are offered an option of posting your query via the website and also you are asked to make sure you have seen the FAQ before doing this.
  2. Some operators used to have 24/7 customer services for personal users which have now gone and has been replaced by 12/6.5 or 14/6 services.
  3. The option to call free to customer services has in some cases been replaced by a flat fee of 10p or 25p to discourage the callers.
  4. Once upon a time, people used to get bundles that allowed inclusive minutes to landlines and same network mobiles. That was changed to ‘any network any time’. Now the calls to the same network (which costs really nothing to the operators) are coming back in disguise. You get a bundle of free minutes ‘any network any time’ plus ‘extra’ N hundred minutes to people on the same network. This encourages closed group of people to move to the same network.
  5. Another one is that if you have a contract phone for over six months then you can get another one for half the price as long as you have one contract on your name. What this does is that you have one for six months in an 18 months contract then you get another one which costs you half and that is for 18 months contract as well. After another 12 months, if you don’t renew the first contract then you have to pay full amount for the second contract which would defeat the purpose of getting half price contract. So you renew the first one and the cycle goes on and on.
  6. The same as in above case but with Mobile broadband. Some operators offering you free or cheap mobile broadband are generally using you as guinea pig; check their review before buying into them.
  7. Earlier the inclusive minutes on the bundle were billed by seconds. So if you had 500 minutes, it effectively meant 500 x 60 seconds. You could use them the way you want in any small amounts you want. The new bundles are in minutes (read the fine print ;) so they are effectively just 500 minutes. Even if you call someone for 5 seconds, you have spent 1 minute. Vodafone and ‘3’ in UK have also been forcing their existing contract customers who were on the old style bundles to move them into partial new style bundles. What they are saying is that for the first 60 seconds you will be billed for a minute but then after 60 seconds, they are billed by seconds. So to get the best out of your existing contract you will have to make sure that your call lasts for long time.
  8. It used to be free to pickup voicemails by some operators but that is no longer the case and you are billed for atleast 1 minute.
  9. More and more bundles are coming with extra SMS’s which generally costs nothing to the operators.
  10. Some new packages have extra video call minutes and MMS’s thrown in which makes it look great but how many people actually use them?
  11. Every operator has now started abusing the term ‘unlimited’. Never trust anyone offering anything ‘unlimited’. They all have a fair usage policy stuck in the terms and conditions. For unlimited broadband the fair usage policy is around 1-5GB depending on the operator and for unlimited SMS’s the fair usage policy is generally upto 100 texts a day.
  12. Always preserve your original ‘terms and conditions’ copy. The operator can suddenly change them on their website but for your contract the originals would be valid unless the operator sends you a specific mail informing about the change. Sometimes a sudden change in terms and conditions by operators will allow you to walk out of your contract free of any commitments.
  13. Finally there is Femtocells strategy. I agree they haven’t really been launched but this is the strategy marketers been working on to sell them. Get a Femtocell and get cheap calls and SMS. When on Femtocell your bundle increases by 5 times. So if you spend 5 minutes calling someone when camped on Femtocell then you will only be charged for a minute. What more, upto 4 people can use a Femtocell at any time for calls or data services. If you get 2 mobiles on a 24 month contract then the Femtocell is free of charge.

Remember the operators hire very clever billing strategy consultants to keep ahead of the game so always doubt a deal which seems too good to be true. There is no such thing as free lunch :)

Sunday 5 October 2008

Customer service is the key, Location Based Services will grow

Back in The Day, before the Internet and deregulation the phone companies understood customer service. With the current experience I have with some of other people whom I know I do believe that the customer services ahs gone down.

Let me give you an ugly first-person example. Two years ago, a friend on mine moved from a townhouse into a house, literally "across the street with a similar post code. He had two phone lines to move and his nightmare with the phone company to move phone service started on a Friday and went through the weekend. That weekend was full of promises and excuses to send techs out for "installing" service on a known-good phone line, before he finally got a hold of a supervisor on Monday to turn on the one line - no installer necessary; it would have taken two to three weeks to reschedule, since he had been bumped out of the queue due to no fault of his own. So another TWO WEEKS before he could get the second line up and running. And he still had to pay charges for "installing" the line.

Two years later and nothing has changed in terms of services by these phone and ISP companies.

Customer service matters and it influences existing business and future sales.
This is where most of the mobile companies these days trying to win the battle with the traditional phone companies. I have experiences people moving away from the traditional landlines and ISP’s with the good deal on their mobile with the mobile broadband together with amazing applications to go with the deal. The mantra of being "all about the customer" is definitely the key for the mobile operators and vendors. When it comes to delivering entertainment content and other applications such as GPS etc, the deal with the mobile phone companies definitely fits into the vision of the customers.

In the past few months we have already seen the deals where you can download songs and listen to them on your mobile just like an MP3 player. Continuing into this direction the operators and vendors have started showing signs of flexing their muscles in another interesting area i.e. LBS applications. There is no doubt in my mind that any location based services will have future and it definitely interests the customers.

Companies like Vodafone, O2 and AT&T have already hinted in the direction of launching LBS applications for their customers.

AT&T will launch navigation applications using LBS in first quarter 2008. Location, location, location is the key to win new customers and AT&T Inc went into this direction by announcing the deployment of assisted GPS technology (A-GPS) within its wireless network to enhance existing and planned location-based services (LBS) used with A-GPS capable devices. AT&T deployed assisted GPS technology throughout its network, paving the way for more enhanced location-based services. The carrier, which initially deployed a cell-site triangulation technology to meet the 2006 FCC E-911 requirements, has now added GPS to its technology portfolio.
AT&T also announced recently that it will launch two new navigation applications in the coming weeks, MapQuest Navigator and AAA Mobile navigator. In addition, the operator hinted that it would soon be expanding into other LBS categories including location-enabled social networking and a family-oriented service along with privacy controls.

The above developments clearly is the sign of providing superior navigation tools to the customers and thus giving them more choice.

A-GPS technology gives capable devices a significant jump-start on identifying the user’s initial location. GPS devices search satellites each time they are turned on to determine starting latitude and longitude, a process that previously took as long as several minutes. With A-GPS, the operator’s network speeds up that query by identifying nearby cell sites, helping the device more quickly hone in on the appropriate satellites. Assisted in this way, A-GPS capable devices can identify a user’s initial location in fewer than 20 seconds, delivering greater convenience to customers using LBS.

Continuing in the direction of providing enhance customer services the telecomm companies are now providing new downloadable applications that give its customers more ways to use compatible mobile phones as navigation devices.
I absolutely believe and I think most of you would agree with me that using a mobile phone for navigation is affordable, convenient and intuitive because it eliminates the need for consumers to buy or carry yet another gadget. And unlike traditional navigation devices, which can be hard to transport from car to car or difficult to use while walking or riding a bike, a mobile phone is always on hand or in hand.
Most of the time I have seen people with their car broken down and hence calling for the road side assistance.
The first question which is being asked to the customer is about their current location. With the use of A-GPS through their mobile, customers can now send GPS location directly to a roadside assistance operator.

Applications such as MapQuest Navigator, powered by Telmap, gives customers access to turn-by-turn, voice-guided driving and walking directions, 3-D moving maps, 16 million points of interest from MapQuest’s database, quick route recalculation for missed turns, real-time traffic alerts, gas prices, gas station locations and City’s Best restaurant and venue ratings.
The above services have been highly successful since their rollout, and LBS has ranked among the fastest-growing categories of applications especially for the mobile operators.

Together with the above services customers with the help of navigator can now get the turn-by-turn driving directions, full-color moving maps, a fuel finder feature that lets customers identify the cheapest nearby gas and access to YELLOWPAGES.COM’s database of millions of business locations.

Telecomm companies can see the potential in A-GPS and hence it paves the way for new offers from the operators in the LBS space, which include plans for a family-oriented service and a location-enabled social networking service. Dating and social networking service surely is a bit hit the youths and thus new source of revenue generation.

Future network enhancements will also allow users of non-GPS devices to enjoy location-based services such as local search tools from YELLOWPAGES.COM.

Clearly all the above services sound good but then everything comes at a price. These days’ teenagers having the mobile device with the A-GPS technology can access to some unwanted materials. It is thus very important for the vendors and operators to continue to build out a comprehensive suite of parental and privacy controls. For example, AT&T is developing best-in-class tools to enable parents to manage how their children can share their location. For services sold by AT&T, the tools can be applied on a phone-by-phone and application-by-application basis and will launch alongside the first applications enabling users to share their location with others.

The growth for the A-GPS is very promising which is further supported by MapQuest when it announced the beta launch of MapQuest 4 Mobile, a free, downloadable application that extends MapQuest.com capabilities to compatible BlackBerry smartphones. MapQuest 4 Mobile offers users an easy-to-use interface and the same accurate directions and maps they rely on from the MapQuest.com site. Local search is also accessible, enabling users to search for businesses by proper name or category. Additionally, MapQuest 4 Mobile provides hybrid imagery, traffic and incident information as well as a GPS "find me" feature which locates a user and tracks the progress to their destination. MapQuest 4 Mobile also utilizes smaller map tiles allowing for faster downloads and quicker screen refresh. Smartphones are growing at a record pace and this an important market segment to address as more users rely on their phones for maps and directions. MapQuest 4 Mobile is a step in that direction for providing next generation services to customers that mirrors the intuitive interface and simplicity. MapQuest 4 Mobile is the latest addition to MapQuest's suite of mobile products which include voice-guided navigation from MapQuest Navigator. The newest mobile product continues MapQuest's on-going mission of providing mobile services that help consumers get to where they need to go, anytime, anywhere. MapQuest 4 Mobile can be downloaded from a mobile browser at m.mq4m.com. For additional information about MapQuest 4 Mobile please visit www.mapquest.com/mq4m.

It is really exciting to use all these services and I must admit that having them is like a new toy which always keeps you interested.

Thursday 2 October 2008

Next Generation GPS Mobile Applications

While attending some seminars, which I cannot give more information about, I heard about exciting NextGen-GPS mobile applications being developed by various companies. GPS is going to make our life very simple (and maybe our brains lazy) .

Imagine the following scenarios:
  • You are going from place A to B and someone asks you to drop something where he is (place C) then he can just send you an G-SMS (Its a name defined by me but please feel free to use it) to his GPS mobile. Your phone will ask you if you want this is 'final detination' or 'via destination' or you want to do something else (store, ignore, etc). You can set this as 'via destination' and your original destination remains unaffected.
  • You are supposed to visit a particular shop in the city and the area is quite big. Your girlfried goes regularly so you give her the remote-control of your GPS and she can point the area (final destination) where you should be going.
  • You are going to watch some match in a particular stadium and around that place there are say 4 car parks. You can select your destination based on 'number of free spaces in a car park' or 'cheapest car park' or 'most secure car park'. You will automatically be routed to the car park based on your criteria. If you have a live update on then this information will be dynamically updated till you reach your final destination. If there are far more parking places then the cars then these car parks can bid for your custom and this will be handles by the GPS transparently.
  • You are a member of car sharing organisation. Whenever you need a car, you press a button on your car sharing application and it immediately tells you how far is the nearest car available and gives you an option of different cars which you can select in an area. You select one of the cars and press reserve and then walk to it. I remember hearing of something similar put PC based and that would (I suppose) have lots of limitations as you have to book it in advance and you have to know your location when you require the car, etc. With this GPS based approach you can be anywhere and you can see real-time information.

There are many more interesting things being developed but they are all conceptual at the moment. I am not sure when they will come to the market. I suppose IMS will be one thing that will be required for these kinds of applications. Whenever they are available, they are surely going to make our like far simple.