Saturday 28 March 2009

Implementation of CQI Reporting in HSPA

In HSDPA the channel quality indicator is a measure of the mobile channel which is send regularly from the UE to the Node B. These measurements are used to adapt modulation and coding for the corresponding UE and it can be also used for the scheduling algorithms.

The CQI measurement is implemented in the HSPA module and the measurement interval as well as the influence of measurement errors can be parameterised. The results can be given in form of maps or in a statistical manner as histogram for each cell.

Information about the instantaneous channel quality at the UE is typically obtained through a 5-bit Channel-Quality Indicator (CQI) in HS-SCCH, which each UE feed back to the NodeB at regular intervals. The CQI is calculated at the UE based on the signal-to-noise ratio of the received common pilot. Instead of expressing the CQI as a received signal quality, the CQI is expressed as a recommended transport-block size, taking into account also the receiver performance.

The reason for not reporting an explicit channel-quality measure is that different UEs might support different data rates in identical environments, depending on the exact receiver implementation. By reporting the data rate rather than an explicit channel-quality measure, the fact that a UE has a relatively better receiver can be utilized to provide better service (higher data rates) to such a UE. It is interesting to note that this provides a benefit with advanced receiver structures for the end user.

This is appropriate as the quantity of relevance is the instantaneous data rate a terminal can support rather than the channel quality alone. Hence, a terminal with a more advanced receiver, being able to receive data at a higher rate at the same channel quality, will report a larger CQI than a terminal with a less advanced receiver, all other conditions being identical.

Each 5-bit CQI value corresponds to a given transport-block size, modulation scheme, and number of channelization codes. Different tables are used for different UE categories as a UE shall not report a CQI exceeding its capabilities. For example, a UE only supporting 5 codes shall not report a CQI corresponding to 15 codes, while a 15-code UE may do so. Therefore, power
offsets are used for channel qualities exceeding the UE capabilities. A power offset of x dB indicates that the UE can receive a certain transport-block size, but at x dB lower transmission power than the CQI report was based upon. UEs belonging to category 1–6 can only receive up to 5 HS-DSCH channelization codes and therefore must use a power offset for the highest CQI values, while category 10 UEs are able to receive up to 15 codes.

The CQI values listed are sorted in ascending order and the UE shall report the highest CQI for which transmission with parameters corresponding to the CQI result in a block error probability not exceeding 10%.

Specifying which interval the CQI relates to allows the NodeB to track changes in the channel quality between the CQI reports by using the power control commands for the associated downlink (F-) DPCH. The rate of the channel-quality reporting is configurable in the range of one report per 2–160 ms. The CQI reporting can also be switched off completely.

In addition to the instantaneous channel quality, the scheduler implementation in the NodeB should typically also take buffer status and priority levels into account before finalising the data rate for the UE. Obviously UEs for which there is no data awaiting transmission should not be scheduled. There could also be data that is important to transmit within a certain maximum delay, regardless of the channel conditions. One important example hereof is RRC signalling, for example, related to cell change in order to support mobility, which should be delivered to the UE as soon as possible. Another example, although not as time critical as RRC signalling, is streaming services, which has an upper limit on the acceptable delay of a packet to ensure a constant average data rate. To support priority handling in the scheduling decision, a set of priority queues is defined into which the data is inserted according to the priority of the data. The scheduler selects data from these priority queues for transmission based on the channel conditions, the priority of the queue, and any other relevant information.

Friday 27 March 2009

LTE UE Categories

Five different UE categories have been defined for LTE. These UE categories are often referred to as UE classes. As can be seen in the table above, the low end UE does not support MIMO but the high end UE will support 4x4 MIMO. It is also worth noting that UE class 1 would be inferior to that of the best HSPA UE. It is important to note that regardless of whatever category a UE belongs to, it has to be capable of receiving transmissions from upto four antenna ports. This is because the system information can be transmitted on upto four antenna ports.

It should be noted that some of the capabilities are outside the UE category info. For example the Inter-RAT capabilities like the support of EV-DO or GSM, etc is not specified as part of the UE categories. Similarly the support of duplexing schemes and the support of UE-specific reference signals are outside the scope of this.

Reference:3GPP TS 36.306 - E-UTRA User Equipment (UE) radio access capabilities

Thursday 26 March 2009

Orange to launch Exposure2

Orange this week launches Exposure 2, the second Exposure research survey commissioned to reveal the role of mobile media usage within the broader media landscape. Exposure 2 consists of independent qualitative and quantitative research, following a survey of more than 2,000 mobile media users from across all UK mobile networks. The survey focuses on consumer consumption of mobile media, and attitudes towards it when used as a marketing channel - particularly in comparison to other traditional and digital media.

Key Findings

Mobile Media Consumption

A mobile media user for the Exposure2 study is anyone who has used their mobile handset to do one of the following:

  • Watch Mobile TV
  • Use the mobile internet
  • Use Bluetooth
  • Send & receive mobile videos / MMS
  • Send & receive pictures / MMS
  • Send & receive emails
  • Search the internet
  • Play games
  • Listen to the radio
  • Listen to music
  • Find local information
  • Download wallpapers/pictures
  • Download screen logos
  • Download ringtones
  • Download music
  • Download games
Mobile media usage patterns differ greatly depending on a consumers location, with the strongest usage of mobile media being in the home: 67% of participants who used their mobile for email did so in their home and 56% for mobile internet browsing. Downloading, mobile content was also revealed as significantly more likely to be performed at home, with speed, convenience and alleviating boredom, cited as the key reasons for usage.

Meanwhile, high use of mobile media on public transport centred around entertainment services, such as TV, music and games, whereas services used most when out and about, such as local information and internet search, tend to facilitate movement.

Other key findings on mobile media usage included:
  • The average age for mobile media users is 36, and 81% use mobile media more than once a week with 46% using it daily
  • Men generally use mobile media more, although women are much more likely to use picture messaging
  • The mobile internet pages viewed most often are search engines, email, news, music and film although, interestingly, a high proportion (55%) of people browse the mobile internet with no specific agenda, providing an opportunity for marketers to attract their attention

Attitudes to Mobile Media as a Marketing Channel

Research participants were asked to rate traditional and digital broadcast and print media on a number of attributes. Mobile media was overwhelmingly viewed as the most personal and innovative media, providing it with a unique place in the marketing mix.

The research revealed that people are very much open to mobile marketing and contained some important insights for brands looking to engage with consumers using the media:

  • Short SMS codes remain a popular marketing mechanic, having been used by two-thirds of participants
  • 70% of participants are attracted more by interactive marketing formats, such as sponsorship, coupons or picture messaging mechanics
  • In general, consumers viewed marketing formats with perceived value as the most appealing, such as coupons offering discounts and sponsored games available for free download
  • When clicking on adverts on the mobile internet, the next stages which are most popular are: adverts which click straight through to the brand’s website (favoured by 47%); voucher code or coupon (43%); click through to another area of the site (36%); entered in a competition (34%)
  • Icons letting users know what to expect from mobile advertising were received positively by 76% of participants
  • 82% of respondents have the operator’s portal as their mobile internet home page, making this page an extremely valuable piece of marketing estate

Steve Heald said: “Exposure 2 provides some terrific insights into how exactly brands can go about engaging consumers through mobile. The public is looking for campaigns that reflect their perceptions of mobile as unique and innovative and that entices and excites them with clever interaction. There’s also a clear signal that brands need to be clear on what consumers can expect from mobile campaigns.”

Wednesday 25 March 2009

Difference between SDU and PDU

This question keeps propping up in many discussions so here is an explanation for the difference between PDU and SDU.

Going back to the basics, a protocol stack consists of many different individual protocols. Protocols can be simply described as set of rules that allow communication between peer entities or they can also be described as set of rules that facilitate horizontal communication. Now these protocols are arranged in layers as can be seen in the figure above. In the transmitter side, a layer N receives data from layer N+1 and this data is called the SDU or Service Data Unit. This layer will modify the data and convert it into a PDU or a Protocol Data Unit. The peer entity in the receiver is only able to understand this PDU.

In simplest form, this modification by layer N of the layer N+1 SDU contains encapsulation. In encapsulation, the SDU is preserved as it is and an additional header is added by the layer N protocol. The modification can also perform concatenation (where more than one SDU is combined in a single PDU), segmentation (where a SDU can be split so that different parts of it end up in different PDU) and padding (where SDU is so small that filler bits are added in the end to complete the PDU).

In the receiver side, the peer entity receives the PDU from layer N-1 (its actually layer N-1 SDU) and convert it back into SDU(s) and passes it to layer N+1.

The figure above shows an example of RLC SDU and PDU. The SDU's are received from higher layer, which is from PDCP in case of LTE. These SDU's have to be converted to PDU's so they undergo segmentation and concatenation and suitable RLC headers are added to form the RLC PDU's.

First Figure Source: The TCP/IP Guide

Second Figure Source: 3G Evolution - HSPA and LTE for Mobile Broadband, Erik Dahlman et al.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Bankrupt Nortel pays hefty bonuses to executives

Nortel Networks, as it continues to wade through bankruptcy protection, posted a $2.14 billion loss in the fourth quarter and a $5.8 billion loss for all of 2008.

The above news obviously paints picture where the restructuring and job losses will be normal activity at Nortel. However the news which I got to read today and which is not at all normal is that Nortel is going to pay $7.3 million as a bonuses to it’s executives.

This is quite extraordinary for me specially when employees at the bankrupt company were forced to decide between severance pay and their pension plans.

An Ontario Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Morawetz has allowed Nortel Networks Corp. to pay these bonuses to some Canadian senior executives as part of an incentive plan to keep them with the company to drive reorganization as it tries to emerge from bankruptcy protection.Earlier this month, a U.S. court overseeing Nortel's bankruptcy allowed the company to pay $22 million in bonuses the company said it needed to keep 880 employees worldwide.

All the amounts mentioned above do not include any payments to CEO Mike Zafirovski. This becomes quite apparent that whatever compensation Zafirovski receives will come from a separate pot.

It’s reported that under the terms of the key executive incentive plan, the top executives could get cash incentives of 100 per cent to 183 per cent of base salaries where the salaries are thought to in the $1-million U.S. annual range.

These new payments in terms of bonuses has not gone down well and there are vociferous protests specially from a lawyer representing a group of Nortel workers who have been fired but have not received severance pay.
For me this situation is like there is a guy who refuses to pay his debts but then spends £10,000 for a car. These are tough times and it should apply fairly to everybody.
Nortel has offered to give fired employees early access to pension plans and provide medical benefits to retirees under the condition that they drop their claims for severance pay in bankruptcy court.

The telecom equipment giant filed for bankruptcy protection in mid-January and has until May to restructure. Since filing the bankruptcy, Nortel’s revenue declined 15 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter, down to $2.72 billion.

As a part of restructuring process Nortel may offload some of its major units, including its wireless equipment business, instead of trying to remain a whole company.

Monday 23 March 2009

Recession is affecting Mobile giants big time.

In November 2008, Nokia cut 600 jobs in Finland, Britain, the United States, and Singapore. According to its final quarter trading statement of last year, Nokia’s operating profits slumped 80% to €492m on the back of a 19 per cent fall in sales to €12.7bn.

As a result, Nokia is cutting another 1,700 jobs around the world, including an undisclosed number in the UK and China. The handset group plans to shed staff across its divisions, including sales and marketing, research and development and its corporate offices. Nokia, which runs UK offices in London, Farnborough and Cambridge, said it was determined to cut costs to weather the recession.

In China, the company has put forward a voluntary resignation plan in February 2009, encouraging employees to resign on a voluntary basis. It was learned that Nokia China would make termination payments to the first 1,000 employees who are willing to resign between March 1 and May 31, 2009. The company says it hopes to reduce human resource costs and avoid involuntary redundancy through this measure. In addition, Nokia is also encouraging its staff to take unpaid leave this year.

Last week, Sony Ericsson plunged the mobile phone industry into crisis , issuing a disastrous profits warning as it revealed that it expected the world to buy 10 per cent fewer handsets this year. This quarter, it is expected to ship about 14 million mobile phones, for sale at, on average, €120 (£113) each. By contrast, it shipped 24.2 million phones at €121 in the previous three months. Sony Ericsson warned that weak demand from consumers, as well as destocking, meant it would lose up to €390m in the first three months of its financial year.

It will be the company's fourth consecutive quarterly loss. The company, which has already announced plans to cut 2,000 staff has so far refused to rule out further job losses. A spokeswoman said 1,000 employees have already left the business, with 1,000 more to follow soon in an attempt to achieve €300m in cost savings by the second-half of this year. However, at the end of January the company announced a further €180m cost-cutting drive, which "will have an additional impact on jobs". The business employs about 500 staff in the UK. One site in Manchester is already earmarked for closure.

Now, Vodafone, the mobile phone giant which is set to post profits of nearly £12bn for the year to March, has scrapped pay rises for all its 10,000 UK staff, ditched bonuses and told its sales reps to keep their cars for longer, as it attempts to trim £1bn from the firm's costs.

Less than one month after Vodafone said it was axing 500 jobs in Britain, a confidential email from Guy Laurence, the chief executive of the firm's UK business, was sent to everyone in Vodafone UK detailing the pay freeze, described by Laurence as a "tough decision to make, but a responsible one".

In the memo, Mr Laurence says: "If we had agreed to a salary rise it would have forced us to increase the number of redundancies in the recent announcement." Vodafone would be "asking company car drivers and those with job requirement cars to keep their cars for longer," he said.

Changes would also be made to "bonus plans for the next financial year", with the incorporation of new targets based on profit shares.

Vodafone said last month that job cuts at the telecoms group were necessary to allow it "to compete more effectively in the UK market". Retail staff were unaffected by the cuts, which largely fell on staff at the firm's Newbury headquarters, with 170 being made redundant.

By the way, According to Telegraph, Motorola, the fifth biggest player, is thought to be on the verge of bankruptcy.

Friday 20 March 2009

Home e-NodeB Architecture in Release 8

The Architecture of Home e-NodeB's (popularly known as Femtocells) is as shown above.

The E-UTRAN architecture may deploy a Home eNB Gateway (HeNB GW) to allow the S1 interface between the HeNB and the EPC to scale to support a large number of HeNBs. The HeNB GW serves as a concentrator for the C-Plane, specifically the S1-MME interface. The S1-U interface from the HeNB may be terminated at the HeNB GW, or a direct logical U-Plane connection between HeNB and S-GW may be used.

At present there is no support X2 connectivity of HeNBs.

The S1 interface is defined as the interface:
  • Between the HeNB GW and the Core Network,
  • Between the HeNB and the HeNB GW,
  • Between the HeNB and the Core Network,
  • Between the eNB and the Core Network.

The HeNB GW appears to the MME as an eNB. The HeNB GW appears to the HeNB as an MME. The S1 interface between the HeNB and the EPC is the same whether the HeNB is connected to the EPC via a HeNB GW or not.

The HeNB GW shall connect to the EPC in a way that inbound and outbound mobility to cells served by the HeNB GW shall not necessarily require inter MME handovers.

The functions supported by the HeNB shall be the same as those supported by an eNB (with the possible exception of NNSF - NAS Node Selection Function) and the procedures run between a HeNB and the EPC shall be the same as those between an eNB and the EPC.

The HeNB hosts the same functions as an eNB, with the following additional specifications in case of connection to the HeNB GW:

  • Discovery of a suitable Serving HeNB GW
  • A HeNB shall only connect to a single HeNB GW at one time, namely no S1 Flex function shall be used at the HeNB in case of connection to the HeNB GW.
  • If the HeNB is connected to a HeNB GW, it will not simultaneously connect to another HeNB GW, or another MME.
  • The TAC and PLMN ID used by the HeNB shall also be supported by the HeNB GW.
  • When the HeNB connects to a HeNB GW, selection of an MME at UE attachment is hosted by the HeNB GW instead of the HeNB;
  • HeNBs may be deployed without network planning. A HeNB may be moved from one geographical area to another and therefore it may need to connect to different HeNB GWs depending on its location.

The HeNB GW hosts the following functions:

  • Relaying UE-associated S1 application part messages between the MME serving the UE and the HeNB serving the UE;
  • Terminating non-UE associated S1 application part procedures towards the HeNB and towards the MME. Note that when a HeNB GW is deployed, non-UE associated procedures shall be run between HeNBs and the HeNB GW and between the HeNB GW and the MME.
  • Optionally terminating S1-U interface with the HeNB and with the SGW.
  • Supporting TAC and PLMN ID used by the HeNB

In addition the MME hosts the following functions:

  • Access control for UEs that are members of Closed Subscriber Groups (CSG).

Mechanisms for filtering of paging messages, in order to avoid paging message distribution to HeNBs belonging to CSGs where the UE is not registered, is FFS.

Source: 3GPP TS 36.300 - E-UTRA and E-UTRAN Overall description; Stage 2 (Release 8)

Thursday 19 March 2009

LTE: MIB and SIB transmission

One very interesting change that has been done is that in LTE the system information is not all transmitted on the same channel unlike UMTS/HSPA. Logically all BCH info is mapped on BCCH. On the transport channel side, the information is mapped either on BCH or DL-SCH. (DL-SCH = Downlink Shared Channel). Ofcourse they map onto different physical channels as can be seen in the diagram.

Once the UE has achieved synchronisation, it will read the MIB to camp on the cell. In LTE, MIB contains very limited information. It contains information about the cell bandwidth, some information about PHICH (Physical HARQ Indicator Channel) and the SFN.

The SIB's as I mentioned are transmitted on DL-SCH mapped on PDSCH. To receive information about SIB's the UE needs information about PHICH which is read from the MIB.

The BCH channel has a TTI of 40ms (which is quite a lot for LTE, if you think about it). Also it has very small transport block size and protected with 1/3 convolutional code and 16bit CRC.

All these help to keep the overhead in LTE system to minimum.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

QR Codes expected to become big in the US

Quick-response (QR) codes are well-entrenched in Japan, where consumers routinely use their cellphones to check e-mail, download movie trailers, navigate Tokyo's labyrinthine streets, pay water bills, buy Cokes from high-tech vending machines, download e-coupons and even have their fortunes told.

They also use their phones to scan QR codes on magazine and outdoor ads. The digital codes are read by the phones' cameras and redirect them to designated mobile sites.

Northwest Airlines, for instance, has used QR codes on large outdoor posters in high-traffic areas in downtown Tokyo to send e-certificates for travel deals and award frequent-flyer bonus miles through its WorldPerks program. The campaign was created by Mindshare's Tokyo office.

Nestle used the technology to launch a canned drink called Nescafe Shake. A QR code on promotional materials led cellphone users to a mobile site where they could download two 15-minute films created by WPP's JWT, Tokyo. Users could also download the films' original music as songs or ringtones.

QR codes have moved beyond Japan into other Asian markets, including China. The latest generation of QR technology lets marketers and retailers fine-tune their messages, making the experience more personal.

The codes have improved, too. A Hong Kong-based company called MyClick Media has pioneered image-recognition mobile marketing in North Asia. Instead of photographing bar codes, users click on logos, objects and images selected by marketers. The photos grant users one-click access to mobile-based internet content, services, rewards and gifts via e-mail, text and multimedia messaging service.

Since the technology is limited to high-end phones and requires a software download, MyClick hasn't been a success for mass-market campaigns. But marketers such as Coca-Cola and Adidas have scored points with consumers in smaller promotions such as sporting events. China Mobile used MyClick to encourage subscribers to share good wishes for athletes during the Olympic Games last year in Beijing.

Not long back, I blogged about Bar Coded train tickets on mobiles. They now seem to be catching on in USA as well.

When Peter Shipman, a franchise owner of the Qdoba casual Mexican restaurant chain, was launching his third outlet in the college town of Ann Arbor, Mich., he needed a way to draw students to the new location -- and he wanted to speak their technological parlance. So he bought ads in the campus newspaper and posted promotional posters, each with a code kids could scan with their phones to get a mobile coupon for a buy-one-get-one-free burrito.

The campaign, which ran on technology from a company called Jagtag, netted a 52% redemption rate with about 400 scans* , roughly 1% of the total target student population.

For Qdoba, it was a digital version of clipping coupons. But these codes -- known as 2-D barcodes, since they're scanned both horizontally and vertically -- can also deliver product reviews, video demos or any other tool a marketer has in its digital arsenal. They can also help marketers track static ads and product performance in retail channels: Did the print ad get more scans in the men's lifestyle glossy or the outdoor-enthusiast magazine?

Qdoba joins small but growing group of marketers warming to the long-promised technology. In fact, among three vendors working to make this a reality -- Scanbuy, Jagtag and Clic2C -- there are at least 15 initiatives involving national brands in the retail, fashion, food and beverage categories that should hit next quarter.

Nike 6.0, the action-sports division of the footwear maker, recently deployed 2-D barcodes at several sporting events it sponsored late last year, delivering content about Nike athletes to fans who sent in images of Jagtag codes. While Nike won't disclose campaign metrics, Butch Bannon, a business-development exec at its promotional-marketing agency, TAOW Productions, said Nike will look at other ways of integrating 2-D barcodes in future venues.

Microsoft will be slapping 2-D barcodes on the next round of packaging for its Xbox games, said Larry Harris, CEO of Ansible, which worked with Microsoft on a 2-D-barcode campaign to promote an enterprise server.

This kind of one-to-one exchange between brand and consumer is already well-entrenched in Japan, where they're known as QR codes and where readers come preinstalled on about 70% of all mobile phones. But stateside only a few brands have flirted with the technology, mostly because consumers don't want to bother downloading the applications required to read the codes. Plus, there are no standards for 2-D barcodes in the U.S., meaning the codes employed in one-off campaigns are proprietary, and each require their own reader and decoder.

Jagtag is trying to solve that problem by making it easier for consumers. Rather than downloading an application, they take a picture of Jagtag's 2-D barcode and send it to a short code, and Jagtag sends back a URL, coupon or other media via multimedia messaging service.

But analysts and Jagtag competitors agree that for 2-D barcodes to gain any meaningful traction, the code reader must come preloaded on cellphones -- and only the wireless carriers can make happen, as they dictate the specs to handset makers.

Jonathan Bulkeley, CEO of Scanbuy, a Jagtag competitor, said he expects his code reader to be preinstalled on 10 to 12 handsets sold by Sprint and Alltel, which Verizon has acquired, by this spring. But consider there are 250 different handsets in the U.S., and they run on several different operating systems. That's a long way to go.

The wireless carriers are slowly coming onboard as they look to transactions and commerce to help drive revenue. Scanbuy has been chasing AT&T and Verizon for at least 18 months; late last year, it got Sprint to approve its application, so users can download it on 40 handsets sold by the carrier. The No. 3 U.S. carrier began promoting Scanbuy's application on its website late last year. Jagtag's service works with AT&T and Verizon. "Carriers need to figure out how to make money on navigation, transaction and advertising," Mr. Bulkeley said. "On mobile, consumers are going to go directly to what they're interested in, not go search for it."

Tuesday 17 March 2009

IPHOBAC's advanced photonic technologies: Up to 12.5 Gbit/s @ 60 GHz

With much of the mobile world yet to migrate to 3G mobile communications, let alone 4G, European researchers are already working on a new technology able to deliver data wirelessly up to 12.5Gb/s.

The technology – known as ‘millimetre (mm)-wave’ or microwave photonics – has commercial applications not just in telecommunications (access and in-house networks) but also in instrumentation, radar, security, radio astronomy and other fields.

Despite the quantum leap in performance made possible by combining the latest radio and optics technologies to produce mm-wave components, it will probably only be a few years before there are real benefits for the average EU citizen.

This is thanks to research and development work being done by the EU-funded project IPHOBAC, which brings together partners from both academia and industry with the aim of developing a new class of components and systems for mm-wave applications.

The mm-wave band is the extremely high frequency part of the radio spectrum, from 30 to 300 gigahertz (GHz), and it gets it name from having a wavelength of one to 10mm. Until now, the band has been largely undeveloped, so the new technology makes available for exploitation more of the scarce and much-in-demand spectrum.

It recently unveiled a tiny component, a transmitter able to transmit a continuous signal not only through the entire mm-wave band but beyond. Its full range is 30 to 325GHz and even higher frequency operation is now under investigation. The first component worldwide able to deliver that range of performance, it will be used in both communications and radar systems. Other components developed by the project include 110GHz modulators, 110GHz photodetectors, 300GHz dual-mode lasers, 60GHz mode-locked lasers, and 60GHz transceivers.

Project coordinator Andreas Stöhr says millimetre-wave photonics is a truly disruptive technology for high frequency applications. “It offers unique capabilities such as ultra-wide tunability and low-phase noise which are not possible with competing technologies, such as electronics,” he says.

What this will mean in practical terms is not only ultra-fast wireless data transfer over telecommunications networks, but also a whole range of new applications.

One of these, a 60GHz Photonic Wireless System, was demonstrated at the ICT 2008 exhibition in Lyon and was voted into the Top Ten Best exhibits. The system allows wireless connectivity in full high definition (HD) between devices in the home, such as a set-top box, TV, PC, and mobile devices. It is the first home area network to demonstrate the speeds necessary for full wireless HD of up to 3Gb/s.

The system can also be used to provide multi-camera coverage of live events in HD. “There is no time to compress the signal as the director needs to see live feed from every camera to decide which picture to use, and ours is the only technology which can deliver fast enough data rates to transmit uncompressed HD video/audio signals,” says Stöhr.

The same technology has been demonstrated for access telecom networks and has delivered world record data rates of up to 12.5Gb/s over short- to medium-range wireless spans, or 1500 times the speed of upcoming 4G mobile networks.

One way in which the technology can be deployed in the relatively short term, according to Stöhr, is wirelessly supporting very fast broadband to remote areas. “You can have your fibre in the ground delivering 10Gb/s but we can deliver this by air to remote areas where there is no fibre or to bridge gaps in fibre networks,” he says.

The project is also developing systems for space applications, working with the European Space Agency. Stöhr said he could not reveal details as this has not yet been made public, save to say the systems will operate in the 100GHz band and are needed immediately.

There are various ongoing co-operation projects with industry to commercialise the components and systems, and some components are already at a pre-commercial stage and are being sold in limited numbers. There are also ongoing talks with some of the biggest names in telecommunications, including Siemens, Ericsson, Thales Communications and Malaysia Telecom.

“In just a few years time everybody will be able to see the results of the IPHOBAC project in telecommunications, in the home, in radio astronomy and in space. It is a completely new technology which will be used in many applications even medical ones where mm-wave devices to detect skin cancer are under investigation,” says Stöhr.

You can see their demo here.

Monday 16 March 2009

LTE is really going for it

In my blog last week I tried to present some arguments which lead to the belief that LTE might take us out from the current recession.

After the current Mobile world congress the vibes coming out are very much in favour of LTE. It looks like an LTE onslaught. I must admit that the recent development in the LTE sector ahs really pushed the technology closer to the reality. These developments have really given a kick to the WiMax camp as well and one can see the nervousness in the WiMax camp.
Following are some of the recent LTE onslaught as I might say:

  • Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks and Ericsson have already made LTE announcements.
  • Motorola introduced its LTE base stations,
  • Nokia announced a new version of its Flexi Multiradio base station that expands the technologies supported by the NSN line to cover GSM/EDGE, WCDMA/HSPA and LTE in a single unit.
  • Ericsson introduced an evolved packet core portfolio for LTE networks so that HSPA operators can gracefully migrate to LTE.

Things are a really spicing up in the market especially with the operators already started playing mind games in terms of whom to choose their vendors for the LTE devices.

Just last week there was a report where it said that Verizon Wireless and Nokia are reportedly planning a partnership that might be an exclusive deal to create an "iconic" device to run on Verizon's Long Term Evolution (LTE) network.

Although not sure how true the above report is but it still was buzzing news. There is no doubt that whenever the announcement will come from Verizon regarding the very vendors it is choosing, it will be a surprise to everyone.

Just remember the last year where the industry was really struggling to put a strong hold on LTE. I still remember very well, last year all the talks were for WiMax and the Vodafone Group CEO Arun Sarin urged the vendor community to step up efforts on the LTE standard since WiMAX was ahead in its development. WiMAX may still be ahead this year, but LTE certainly has the momentum behind it.

Certainly WiMax and the news related to it will be around but what interests me is how some of the companies are now making LTE as their priority as the future broadband technology. It’s unbelievable that those companies who were once heavily pushing WiMAX have now jumped into the LTE market.

Wireless 20/20, for instance, used to be WiMAX 20/20, but now its on the LTE bandwagon.

It’s already reported that 26 operators have committed to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology out of which ten network operators are ready to launch their networks by 2010
Other companies have made some good progress in WiMAX, announcing new innovative products; still others appear to be threatened by the onslaught of LTE, trying to dub LTE as just another Long Term Excuse.

£300/min: The cost of mobile broadband while roaming

Trying to keep his young son entertained in the evenings on a skiing holiday, Will Pierce decided to download a few episodes of their favourite TV shows.

He had assumed that he could use his £25 Vodafone data card - which gives him access to mobile broadband while overseas - without incurring any unexpected costs.

But when he returned from the five-day break in Meribel, he was sent a phone bill for nearly £21,716.

Mr Pierce and his son Louis, eight, had gone for a 'boys' holiday' with another father and his son, also eight.

The group rented an apartment, but it did not have any English-language TV channels. With the boys too young to spend evenings out in the resort, Mr Pierce was anxious to keep them entertained.

So over the course of the stay he downloaded several shows - mostly Top Gear for the boys and Kavanagh QC for the grown-ups - on to his laptop computer using the data card.

He was charged according to the number of megabytes used, meaning one show lasting less than 18 minutes cost him £5,132 - almost £300 a minute. Downloading the same size file in the UK would not have cost Mr Pierce anything under most broadband tariffs.

Mr Pierce did not deal directly with Vodafone, instead addressing his complaint to DRD Communication Services, the European network operator.

DRD agreed to waive its fees, bringing the bill down to £16,500, but Vodafone initially insisted that the usage was 'valid' and refused to back down.

However, a spokesman for Vodafone said yesterday that the company would waive the full amount.

She added: 'Such bills are exceptionally rare and we have an investigation under way.'

Saturday 14 March 2009

Next Generation “Sixth Sense” game-changing wearable tech

TED has this very interesting concept from Pattie Maes’ lab at MIT, spearheaded by Pranav Mistry. It’s a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with our environment. Imagine “Minority Report” and then some...

Its just matter of time after this concept becomes reality for it to be available in mobiles, etc.

Friday 13 March 2009

Google's voicemail search

This is an interesting convergence of technologies that have now been around for some time. There are many applications on the market that does voice to text conversion and vice versa. Now google is going a step further and letting people search their voicemails.

Google Voice gives you a single number streamlining your work, home and mobile phones and lets you store transcripts of voicemail phone messages in your email inbox.

Using speech-recognition technology, it will even let you search those messages for a snippet of information just as if you were trawling a sea of emails.

It will also let you make free local and cheap international calls, as well as consult Goog411, the company's free U.S. directory enquiries service.

Google Voice is based on technology originally launched by Grand Central Communications, a company bought up by Google nearly two years ago.

The acquisition had taken so long to bear fruit that observers were starting to suspect it had come to nothing.

Like the original Grand Central product, Google Voice offers consumers a single phone number that can route incoming calls to home, office and mobile phones.

Domestic calls will be free but international calls will require users to set up a Google Checkout account. Calls to landlines in the UK will cost 2 cents per minute.

EBay's Skype offers free domestic and international calls made over the internet from one computer to another, but there is a charge to landlines and mobile phones.

Skype president Josh Silverman told analysts and investors that "chat and voice will become table stakes". He also revealed that the company is adding 350,000 new users a day and is on track to do more than 100 billion calling minutes in 2009 alone.

Google does not view the service as a threat to Skype or other telecom companies any more than its Google Talk offering, which lets users chat over the internet for free.

"This is about allowing your existing phone to work better," said Craig Walker, now group product manager for real time communications at Google and co-founder of GrandCentral.

"It's not that we are replacing your phone, we are giving [it] the ability to work better," he said.
He declined to say how many users had signed up. Google Voice is currently only available to former GrandCentral users.

Google Voice also allows all voice messages to be turned into text which will then be sent either through an e-mail or an sms.

Thursday 12 March 2009

HSPA+ to become more widely available in 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday 11 March 2009

HSPA Data rates

Martin has posted a HSPA data rates table on his blog so I decided to copy it and add a photograph that I took from an Ericsson presentation ;)
  • 3.6 MBit/s : Baseline HSPA with 16QAM modulation
  • 7.2 MBit/s : 16 QAM, more simultaneous channels)
  • 14.4 MBit/s : 16 QAM, even more simultaneous channels
  • 21 MBit/s : 64 QAM modulation
  • 28 MBit/s : MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output = 2 antennas) + 16 QAM, (3GPP Rel 7)
  • 42 MBit/s : MIMO + 64QAM (3GPP Release 8)
  • 42 MBit/s : 64QAM + Dual Carrier (3GPP Rel 8)
  • 82 MBit/s : MIMO + 64QAM + Dual Carrier (i.e. 2 x 5MHz) (3GPP Release 9)
  • + more in case 3GPP decides to increase the number of carriers that can be bundled in Rel 9 or beyond.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

Giving up Texting for Lent

Lent, instituted by the Council of Nicaea in 325 and which for most Christian congregations runs from Ash Wednesday to Easter, commemorates the 40 days that Jesus is said to have spent fasting in the desert and rejecting the temptations of Satan before beginning his ministry.

The bishops are encouraging their parishioners to take up new forms of abstinence after the Pope emphasised in his Ash Wednesday address the importance of Lent as a spiritual build-up to Easter and praised the age-old Christian practice of fasting.

Chocolate, cigarettes and alcohol may be the predictable vices to give up for the 40 days of Lent but Italians are being urged to abstain from more contemporary pleasures, like texting, Facebook and iPods.

The Bishop of Modena, in northern Italy, has called on young Italians to give up on Fridays their addiction to sending text messages, in the run-up to Easter Sunday. Archbishop Benito Cocchi said that this would help them to "cleanse themselves from the virtual world and get back into touch with themselves".

The average Italian sends 50 texts a month, the second highest rate in Europe, behind the UK.
The bishops of Pesaro, on the Adriatic, and of Bari, in the south, have also picked up on the idea of a "text message fast" and more bishops could follow suit.

In the Diocese of Trento, in the foothills of the Alps, Archbishop Luigi Bressan has set out a type of calender of abstinence for his parishioners, with each Sunday of Lent dedicated to a different sacrifice.

He has called on Catholics to abstain from using a car, from logging into Facebook, from listening to music on MP3 players, and from playing computer games. He has also suggested that people use Lent to embrace recycling and he called for "abstinence from egocentricity".

In Venice, the bishop has suggested giving up mineral water and drinking only tap water during Lent.

Network operator '3' released a Facebook phone called INQ last year. Though I am not a fan of Facebook or for that reason the INQ, I know quite a few people are. Maybe this abstaining from the phone for a day maybe a good idea.

Monday 9 March 2009

Joggler or Post-it?

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

The following is from O2's website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 7 March 2009

LTE can get us out from the current recession

Hello everybody. Just in case you guys thinking where I am then I can tell you that I just returned back from my holiday last week.

Everybody is aware how the market situation is getting worse and there is no doubt it has started affecting the telecomm companies as well.

One of the major doubts I have been carrying from the past few weeks was, what will happen to LTE now after seeing the worsening state of the economy.

As I have mentioned in my previous blogs that the companies are toying with idea of considering HSPA+ as one of the option in case they can’t afford LTE in the current climate.

However I firmly believe that the success of LTE is very important not only for people like me but for the industry as well.

I think with WiMax loosing its grip it’s a very good opportunity for the telecomm giants to leapfrog the competition and work feverishly towards the launch of LTE.

The early signs are that LTE is getting a go ahead from most and the mobile industry is really pushing LTE

It is estimated that there will more than 50 million mobile users by the end of 2013. With the no of users growing at a rapid pace in India and china and other Asian countries these numbers sounds reasonable enough.

This growth rate would be remarkable given that the original standardization and specification process for Long Term Evolution (LTE) aka '4G' only envisages commercial deployment in the 2011-2012 timeframe. It would appear that the mobile industry is once again doing what it does best, overhyping new technology whilst it is still in development.

I suppose in the current climate the only excitement is that the announcements about LTE are arriving almost daily, each more positive than the next.

CDMA operator Verizon Wireless has already announced its intention to migrate its network to LTE, Motorola plans to focus on LTE, perhaps at the expense of WiMAX and so it goes on.

Recently T-Mobile step up the pressure on equipment vendors, when it stated it will not deploy HSPA+ to further boost its mobile broadband throughput but will instead skip this technical evolution and invest in LTE.

And now the news is that Nokia is affirming it’s commitment to LTE and says that it would have device for LTE networks by 2010.

Nokia affirmed its commitment to Long Term evolution (LTE) technology and said it would have devices for LTE networks in 2010, according to a company executive. By doing this Nokia in my view is dismissing WiMAX as a 4G standard. I believe one of the major reasons why Nokia might be thinking that way is because of WiMax’s lack of backwards compatibility and an unclear roadmap.

I hope all this news regarding LTE materializes and kicks off a nice decade ahead. However only time will tell whether the LTE hype is justified or if the mobile industry is about to get another dash of cold reality.

Blog: Advanced C++ with examples

This has nothing to do with Mobiles or 3G and 4G but for lots of people who get involved in different C++ coding and reviewing, etc. Here is the link to the blog:

Friday 6 March 2009

SMS hailed as enablers of next-generation offerings

Text services make money and complement new rich services, says new research.

The study, conducted by Direct2Mobile found that mobile operators believe SMS will become the enabler that underpins next generation offerings, with all those surveyed claiming they are developing their messaging infrastructure in order to introduce new value-added services.

Of all the services cited, mobile social networking and mobile applications lead the way with 75 per cent of operators expecting to invest in them over the next 12 months. Mobile broadband is not far behind with 65 per cent expecting to make investments over the next 12 months, closely followed by location-based services, IM/presence and the mobile internet (which 50 per cent of operators stated would be a priority for the 12 months ahead).

Jay Seaton, CMO at Airwide Solutions, said: “Revenues from SMS have become a substantial and strategic income stream for mobile operators worldwide. However, recent market changes are placing an ever greater pressure on operators to deliver new and richer services that will not only complement voice and text services but also boost ARPU and help improve market share.”

Thursday 5 March 2009

Networks may have to bundle Femtocells along with contract phones

"Tom Prescott, 32, took Orange to court after they refused to cancel his 18- month contract, even though he could not get a signal either at his Richmond home or in his office. "I felt bullied by the company, and dealing with Orange was awful. I hope people who have the same problem now realise they can do something about it."

Tom Prescott took his phone network (Orange) to court and won £500 for "lack of signal" in his home, there will be a sense of greater urgency in the industry.

The attitude of other mobile operators wasn't likely to be very different - before the lawsuit, anyway. If you complain that a call got dropped, and expect to be taken seriously, then you're mad. Most companies would have taken Orange's attitude: "Coverage is outside our control."

The Court disagreed. It said that if you sell an 18 month contract to a victim who neither lives nor works in an area where you can provide coverage, then it really is your problem, not theirs.

The trouble is, 3G phone technology simply doesn't work well enough for them to be able to fix the problem. Very simply, if the phone mast is blocked by brick or concrete walls, then very little of a 3G wireless signal will get through.

That was Prescott's problem: he couldn't make calls, and he couldn't receive calls. So naturally, he asked for his money back. Orange took the view that if the phone worked, and the network was in place, and if he could actually use the phone out in the street, then they'd done all anybody could expect. So they refused - an error of judgement commercially, but a complete disaster in PR terms.

And all operators are staring at the same disaster, if they don't change their business habits.

Not just one or two phone users have the problem; in some areas, claims of providing coverage are close to fraudulent. They can get away with it if the old 2G GSM network provides backup coverage, of course. But after this, even that may be called into question.

We know how to solve the problem. Simply, 3G operators have to put a private mast into your home. These are very small mobile phone cells. Smaller than microcells, smaller even than picocells, they are called femtocells. They are limited to short range: inside the building, and perhaps the gardens.

Question: who will provide your femtocell? Orange? Cingular? Clearwire? France Telecom?

Wrong Answer: "If I provide the customer's femtocell, they'll have to use my service! They'll never be able to switch! Muhahahaha!"

Better answer: "'s going to cost us, but we have to make sure that this mini-mast works with any phone. Otherwise, nobody is going to see any point in using it."

Best Answer: "We have to change roaming regulations! The whole business model needs radical reform, so that we do NOT create logjams for our customers."

Here's the problem, rather neatly summarised by consultant Dean "Disruptive" Bubley: "These operators are living in a dream world of one operator per household. It isn't going to be true even of single people living alone."

Most households have phones from several operators.

The teenagers have friends on the same network, so that they can have free SMS texting chats together. Tell them "use another network" and have your face eaten off. It's not the money (they'll say) - "That network isn't cool."

The parents often have phones provided by employers (no choice there). And
there are "private" lines which they use because they always have. "Everybody knows that number," they say.

Yes, you can move a number from one network to another. No, it isn't a picnic. And anyway "why should I?" is the common response.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

More mobile broadband ... with WiMAX this time

An interactive, online map by the WiMAX Forum and Informa Telecoms & Media’s World Cellular Information Service (WCIS) offers information on the many WiMAX deployments across the globe. Click here to access the map.

With investments already made into WiMAX, the wireless broadband technology will be able to withstand the current economic downturn in a year that will see some additional network deployments, according to the WiMAX Forum.

Because of the current economic climate, WiMAX providers are not being as aggressive with network deployments, but the forum estimates at least 100 more operators will launch commercial services this year.

The Forum says WiMAX now covers 430 million people or POPS, globally and are on a path to nearly double to 800 million people by end of 2010 and explode to 18 million by 2012. In-Stat forecasts LTE will have 23 million subscribers by 2013, but nearly 82 million mobile PCs with WiMax will ship in 2013.

So far, Mobile WiMAX is being offered in just two cities, Baltimore and Portland, Ore. On March 5th, Clearwire will announce which cities will be added next in the United States. Another nine cities are expected to roll out this year.

According to research firm In-Stat, WiMAX will continue to outpace LTE over the next few years and the technologies will take different paths. Verizon Wireless is expected to launch LTE commercially sometime next year but most operators will wait until 2011 or 2012.

Meanwhile, the WiMAX forum says there will be 100 certified products on the market this year, growing to 1,000 by 2011. The forum also expects growth to continue in Asia, Europe, Latin America and Africa.

More than half the world now uses mobile phones

A UN report this week showed that more than half the global population now pay to use one.

The survey, by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the UN, also found that nearly a quarter of the world's 6.7 billion people use the internet.

But it is the breathtaking growth of cellular technology that is doing more to change society, particularly in developing countries where a lack of effective communications infrastructure has traditionally been one of the biggest obstacles to economic growth.

By the end of last year there were an estimated 4.1bn mobile subscriptions, up from 1bn in 2002. That represents six in 10 of the world's population, although it is hard to make a precise calculation about how many people actually use mobile phones.

Africa is the continent with the fastest growth, where penetration has soared from just one in 50 people at the turn of the century to 28%.

Much of the take-up is thought to have been driven by money transfer services that allow people without bank accounts to send money speedily and safely by text messages, which the recipient - typically a family member - can cash in at the other end. Vodafone's M-Pesa money transfer service was launched in Kenya in 2007 and now has 5 million users.

The ITU report points to the Gambia, where mobile subscriptions have rocketed amid stiff competition among mobile operators. Out of almost a million telephone subscribers, there are more than 800,000 mobile subscriptions but only about 50,000 fixed telephone lines in service.
Developing countries now account for about two-thirds of the mobile phones in use, compared with less than half of subscriptions in 2002.

The adoption of mobile technology has outstripped the growth of fixed-line connections, which rose from 1bn to 1.3bn over the same period, with market penetration stuck just below 20% for some years.

The figures demonstrate that many people in the developing world are bypassing the older technology altogether.

In the developed world, many people use more than one mobile device, with subscriptions exceeding population by 11% in Europe.

On the other hand, a single mobile phone may have several users in poorer countries, where handsets are sometimes shared or rented out by their owners.
The report also recorded a marked increase in internet use, which more than doubled from 11% of people using the net in 2002 to 23% last year.

Here the report identified a clear gap between the rich and poor world: fewer than one in 20 Africans went online in 2007, for instance, and less than 15% in Asia, whereas Europe and the Americas recorded penetration of 43% and 44% respectively.

Across the world just 5% of people have broadband internet at home, although this rises to 20% in the developed world.

Sweden was the world's most advanced country in the use of information and communications technology, in an index of 154 countries that took various factors into account such as access to computers and literacy levels.

South Korea and Denmark were placed second and third in the list, while the UK was ranked 10th.

Mobile phones have changed Congo irrevocably, especially Goma. The country has only about 20,000 land lines after the system collapsed under Mobutu Sese Seko's ruinous dictatorship.

Now traders shipping imports to distant towns, farmers sending produce to the main cities, and those involved in the thriving gold and diamond smuggling trade use their phones to check prices, text quotes and arrange deliveries. Women who once sold roasted corn by the roadside now make a living dealing in mobile top-up cards and recharging flat phone batteries in a town where much of the population doesn't have electricity.

"Everyone but the very poor has a cell phone," said Mukeba. "Even the guy who only makes a few dollars a day picking up passengers on his bike. Even the woman selling things by the roadside. Almost everyone finds the money."

Cell phones have helped transform Goma in other ways. The town's economic boom of recent years has been fuelled by war and plunder, particularly of the rich mines in eastern Congo. Among them are diamonds and gold but also coltan, a rare but crucial element in mobile phones.
The small fortunes to be made by mining it sent tens of thousands digging for black mud and attracted criminal syndicates and foreign armies. "It all came at once," said Mukeba. "War, cell phones, dollars. Some people are getting very, very rich and everyone is making a little bit of money."

Tuesday 3 March 2009

Nokia to offer Netbooks soon

According to Electric Pig:

A Nokia netbook is in the works, Nokia’s CEO has confirmed, ending months of speculation that the mobile giant could be entering the netbook market.

Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has finally broken silence on the subject of a Nokia netbook, admitting, “we are looking very actively [at] this opportunity,” when asked if Nokia has plans to enter the laptop business.

So, a Nokia netbook is on the cards then, taking what Nokia does best in the mobile arena - cheap, powerful operating systems, tiny technology and net connectivity, and wading in to battle with the likes of the Asus Eee PC range with its own Nokia netbook.

The announcement comes just a week after Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where PC makers including Acer, HP and Lenovo unveiled new smartphone offerings, muscling in on what Nokia sees as its territory.

It is still too early to predict when Nokia will roll out its Netbooks or its UMPC but already news sites have started speculating about the death of Eee PC's and how Nokia Laptops will rule.

ARM’s multi-core Sparrow chip has just been announced last week, and Nokia is already working on it’s first compact mobile computer with some blow-out specs, running Linux OS on this CPU. But don’t get your hopes up – this Nokia device is slated only for 2011 release.

The design of Nokia Sparrow device does not follow the current netbook trend, going more the MID way, with some passing resemblance to Nokia N800 internet tablet.
It will have multi-slide keyboard, with different layouts/keys revealed as you slide it in different directions. The display also slides in several directions for different functions – think Nokia N97 tilting display.

The new Nokia computer has a very interesting keyboard with diamond shaped, elevated keys inverted to each other. At first glance it seems very uncomfortable – the keys are pretty small (about half the size of normal key), actually the device itself is rather small. But when you start typing on it, it works very well. It is very difficult to hit multiple keys with a finger, even on purpose.

The Nokia Sparrow computer has a novel, transparent widget based interface. Each running application gets it’s own semi-transparent widget to put it’s content in. Multiple applications can be stored in memory “for months”. E.g. when you are writing a document or e-mail, just swipe the finger through the screen and semi-transparent panels with active or pre-set applications and their content pop-up. Select one and you can start working with it at once.

There are also rumours that Nokia and Qualcomm are working together on Netbooks based on Qualcomms Snapdragon Chipset.

For a company like Nokia, which is investing heavily in Web and GPS services, it has become crucial to stake out a course that embraces all portable Internet devices. The Nokia N8xx series of Internet tablets are the first proof of that, but the WiMAX enabled Nokia N810 was recently cancelled. However, through the recent, and historical, agreement made with Qualcomm, Nokia is suddenly getting access to Qualcomm's Gobi and Snapdragon technology.

With old handheld giants like Intel and Dell aiming to take a bite out of the future mobile market, and with graphics specialists such as Nvidia lurking in the background, it's understandable to see former enemies joining forces against the new competition. If there's one thing nobody can afford right now, it's old battles messing up future product lines that could attract carrier interest.

As such, it comes as no surprise that Nokia, according to Reuters, is looking into expanding its portfolio to include laptops. The only question is what operating systems Nokia will opt for, which actually leads to many questions: Will Nokia boost the development pace of Linux-based Maemo? Could the Symbian Foundation be working on a new netbook platform? Will Nokia offer Windows Mobile 7 netbooks?

In the meantime, the Nokia N97 is a starting step in their Netbooks ambition.

N97 is a high-end smartphone with a 3.5 inch touch display, QWERTY keyboard and social location software to allow people to use Facebook, MySpace and other sites on the go.

For the record, Nokia calls its latest device a “mobile computer.”

Nokia’s N97 has some sweet specs (statement, Techmeme)–it supports up to 48 GB of storage, has a 5 megapixel camera, music support and DVD quality video capture. The rub: The N97 isn’t what you’d call affordable. It has an estimated retail price of 550 euro before taxes and subsidies.