Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Top 10 posts for 2018



Here is a list of top 10 posts for 2018 in ascending order of popularity:

10. 5G Security Updates - March 2018

9. Telefonica: Big Data, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Connect the Unconnected

8. Automated 4G / 5G HetNet Design

7. 5G New Radio Standards and other Presentations

6, Some interesting April Fools' Day 2018 Technology Jokes

5, 5G Network Architecture Options (Updated)

4. #CWHeritage Talk: The history of synchronisation in digital cellular networks

3. LoRa is quietly marching on...

2. 5G Network Architecture, Design and Optimisation - Jan 2018

1. Tutorial: Service Based Architecture (SBA) for 5G Core (5GC)

There were so many other posts that were close to the 10th most popular post. It's always a challenge on which of them make it and which don't. Thanks to everyone for supporting the blog and allowing me to share presentations, slides, videos, etc.


Related Posts:

Friday, 14 December 2018

Robots in Telecoms World - A presentation from #CWFDT event on 'Robots: Assistance, Automation, Entertainment'


Another of the CW (Cambridge Wireless) Future Devices & Technologies (#CWFDT) event 'Robots: Assistance, Automation, Entertainment' happened a few weeks back. I had helped arrange the event and as always when a speaker dropped out at the last minute, I prepared a short talk on what role Robots play in the telecoms world. More later.

Robots have been part of human imagination for decades for example they feature heavily in popular culture and we typically have a favourite robot character. My favourite was 'Johnny Sokko And His Flying Robot'. Even though it was made in 1967, I saw it only in 1986.

The anticipated future impact of Robots is widely discussed. Their potential use in military operations may well change the face of future warfare, whilst in civilian life, industrial and domestic, it is speculated how they will both be our assistants and our replacements.

The intention of the event was to reflect on the challenges of lives transformed by new human-robot relationships.

While we had interesting talks and I think we succeeded in achieving what we set out to, not all speakers shared their presentations but you can see the ones available here.

My talk along with the videos is embedded below. If you prefer to hear my talk as it was, it's on YouTube here.



A twitter moment with some of the tweets from the day is embedded below:





Related Post:

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Can KaiOS accelerate the transition from 2G / 3G to 4G?


The GSMA Mobile Economy 2018 report forecasts that 2G will still be around in 2025 and the dominant technology will be 3G in Africa. GSMA Intelligence Global Mobile Trends highlighted similar numbers but North Africa was missing in that report. As you can see in the picture below, 3G devices will make up 62% of the total number of devices in Sub-Saharan Africa and 37% in MENA.

Similar information was provided by Navindran Naidoo, Executive, Network Planning & Design, MTN Group in TIP Summit 2017 and Babak Fouladi, Technology and Information System (Group CTIO) , MTN Group in TIP Summit 2018. In fact Babak had a slide that showed 3G devices would make up 61%  of total devices in 2025 in Africa. Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO, MTN Group said at AfricaCom 2018 that Africa lags 7 years behind the Western countries in mobile technologies. Though this may not be universally true, its nevertheless a fact in many areas of the Continent as can be seen from the stats.

In my blog post "2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds", I said operators in many developing countries that maybe forced to switch off a technology would rather switch 3G off as they have a big base of 2G users and 3G devices can always fall back on 2G.

So what are the main reasons so many users are still on 2G devices or feature phones? Here are some that I can think off the top of my head:
  • Hand-me-downs
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Given as a gift (generally because its cheap and affordable)
  • 2G has better coverage than 3G and 4G in many parts of the world
  • Second/Third device, used as backup for voice calls
  • Most importantly - battery can last for a long time
This last point is important for many people across different parts of the world. In many developing countries electricity is at a premium. Many villages don't have electricity and people have to take a trip to a market or another village to get their phones charged. This is an expensive process. (Interesting article on this here and here). In developed countries, many schools do not allow smartphones. In many cases, the kids have a smartphone switched off in their bag or left at home. For parents to keep in touch, these kids usually have a feature phone too. 

While all feature phones that were available until couple of years ago were 2G phones, things have been changing recently. In an earlier tweet I mentioned that Reliance Jio has become a world leader in feature phones:


I also wrote about Jio phone 2 launch, which is still selling very well. So what is common between Jio phones and Nokia 8110 4G, a.k.a. Banana phone

They both use a new mobile operating system called KaiOS. So what is KaiOS?

KaiOS originates from the Firefox OS open-source project which started in 2011 and has continued independently from Mozilla since 2016. Today, KaiOS is a web-based operating system that enables a new category of lite phones and other IoT devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience through leading apps and services. KaiOS is a US-based company with additional offices in France, Germany, Taiwan, India, Brazil, Hong Kong, and mainland China. You can find a list of KaiOS powered devices here. In fact you can see the specifications of all the initial devices using KaiOS here.

Here is a video that explains why we need KaiOS:



There are couple of really good blog posts by Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS:

There is so much information in both these articles that I will have to copy and paste the entire articles to do them justice. Instead, I want to embed the presentation that Sebastien delivered at AfricaCom below:



I like the term 'smart feature phone' to distinguish between the smartphones and old dumb feature phones.

Finally, it should be mentioned that some phone manufacturers are using older version of Android to create a feature phone. One such phone is "Reinvent iMi" that is being billed as 'Slimmest Smart 3G Feature Phone' in India. It uses Android 4.1. See details here. Would love to find out more about its battery life in practice.

My only small concern is about security of old Android OS. As Android is extensively used, new vulnerabilities keep getting discovered all the time. Google patches them in newer versions of the software or sometimes releases a separate patch. All updates to the Android OS stops after 3 years. This means that older versions of Android can be hacked quite easily. See here for example.

Anyway, feature phones or 'smart feature phones' are here to stay. Better on 4G than on 2G.