Showing posts with label Operators. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Operators. Show all posts

Monday, 11 January 2010

Technologies and Standards for TD-SCDMA Evolutions to IMT-Advanced

Picture Source: http://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/oth/21/05/T21050000010003PDFE.pdf

This is a summary of a paper from IEEE Communications Magazine, Dec 2009 issue titled "Technologies and Standards for TD-SCDMA Evolutions to IMT-Advanced" by Mugen Peng and Wenbo Wang of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications with my own comments and understanding.

As I have blogged about in the past that China Mobile has launched TD-SCDMA network in China and the main focus to to iron out the basic problems before moving onto the evolved TD-SCDMA network. Couple of device manufacturers have already started working on the TD-HSPA devices. Couple of months back, 3G Americas published a whitepaper giving overview and emphasising the advantages of TDD flavour of LTE as compared to FDD. The next milestone is the IMT-Advanced that is under discussion at the moment and China has already proposed TD-LTE-Advanced which would be compatible with the TD-SCDMA technology.

For anyone who does not know the difference between TDD, FDD and TD-SCDMA please see this blog.

The TD-SCDMA technology has been standardised quite a while back but the rollout has been slow. The commercial TD-SCDMA network was rolled out in 2009 and more and more device manufacturers are getting interested in the technology. This could be due to the fact that China Mobile has a customer base of over 500 million subscribers. As of July 2009 over 100 device manufacturers were working on TD-SCDMA technology.

The big problem with TD-SCDMA (as in the case of R99 3G) is that the practical data rate is 350kbps max. This can definitely not provide a broadband experience. To increase the data rates there are two different approaches. First is the Short Term Evolution (STE) and the other is Long Term Evolution (LTE).

The first phase of evolution as can be seen in the picture above is the TD-STE. This consists of single carrier and multi-carrier TD-HSDPA/TD-HSUPA (TD-HSPA), TD-MBMS and TD-HSPA+.

The LTE part is known as TD-LTE. There is a definite evolution path specified from TD-SCDMA to TD-LTE and hence TD-LTE is widely supported by the TD-SCDMA technology device manufacturers and operators. The target of TD-LTE is to enhance the capabilities of coverage, service provision, and mobility support of TD-SCDMA. To save investment and make full use of the network infrastructure available, the design of TD-LTE takes into account the features of TD-SCDMA, and keeps TD-LTE backward compatible with TD-SCDMA and TD-STE systems to ensure smooth migration.

The final phase of evolution is the 4G technology or IMT-Advanced and the TD-SCDMA candidate for TD-LTE+ is TD-LTE-Advanced. Some mature techniques related to the TD-SCDMA characteristics, such as beamforming (BF), dynamic channel allocation, and uplink synchronization, will be creatively incorporated in the TD-LTE+ system.

Some academic proposals were also made like the one available here on the future evolution of TD-SCDMA but they lacked the industry requirements and are just useful for theoretical research.

The standards of TD-SCDMA and its evolution systems are supervised by 3GPP in Europe and by CCSA (Chinese Cellular Standards Association) in China. In March 2001 3GPP fulfilled TD-SCDMA low chip rate (LCR) standardization in Release 4 (R4). The improved R4 and Release 5 (R5) specifications have added some promising functions including HSDPA, synchronization procedures, terminal location (angle of arrival [AOA]-aided location), and so on.

When the industry standardizations supervised by CCSA are focusing on the integration of R4 and R5, the N-frequency TD-SCDMA and the extension of HSDPA from single- to multicarrier are presented. Meanwhile, some networking techniques, such as N-frequency, polarized smart antenna, and a new networking configuration with baseband unit plus remote radio unit (BBU+RRU), are present in the commercial application of TD-SCDMA.

TD-SCDMA STE

For the first evolution phase of TD-SCDMA, three alternative solutions are considered. The first one is compatible with WCDMA STE, which is based on HSDPA/HSUPA technology. The second is to provide MBMS service via the compatible multicast broadcast single-frequency network (MBSFN) technique or the new union time-slot network (UTN) technique. The last is HSPA+ to achieve similar performance as LTE.

On a single carrier, TD-HSDPA can reach a peak rate of 2.8 Mb/s for each carrier when the
ratio of upstream and downstream time slots is 1:5. The theoretical peak transmission rate of a three-carrier HSDPA system with 16-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) is up to 8.4 Mb/s.

Single-carrier TD-HSUPA can achieve different throughput rates if the configurations and parameters are varied, including the number of occupied time slots, the modulation, and the transport block size in bytes. Considering the complexity of a terminal with several carriers in TD-HSUPA, multicarrier is configured in the Node B, while only one carrier is employed in the terminal.

In Rel-7 based TD-HSPA+, In order to match the performance of orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA)-based TD-LTE systems, some advanced techniques are utilized, such as multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), polarized BF, higher modulation and coding schemes (64-QAM is available), adaptive fast scheduling, multicarrier techniques, and so on. Theoretically, 64-QAM can improve performance by a factor of 1.5 compared to the current 16-QAM; for single-carrier the peak rate reaches 4.2 Mb/s, and three-carrier up to 12.6 Mb/s.

For the MIMO technique, double transmit antenna array (D-TxAA), based on the pre-coding method at the transmitter, has been employed in frequency-division duplex (FDD)-HSPA+ systems, while selective per antenna rate control (S-PARC), motivated by the Shannon capacity limit for an open loop MIMO link, has been applied in TD-HSPA+ systems.

TD-SCDMA LTE

The TD-SCDMA LTE program was kicked off in November 2004, and the LTE demand report was approved in June 2005. The LTE specified for TD_SCDMA evolution is named TD-LTE.

LTE systems are supposed to work in both FDD and TDD modes. LTE TDD and FDD modes have been greatly harmonized in the sense that both modes share the same underlying framework, including radio access schemes OFDMA in downlink and SC-FDMA in uplink, basic subframe formats, configuration protocols, and so on.

TD-LTE trials have already started last year with some positive results.

TD-SCDMA LTE+

IMT-Advanced can be regarded as a B3G/4G standard, and the current TD-SCDMA standard migrating to IMT-Advanced can be regarded as a thorough revolution. TD-LTE advanced (TD-LTE+) is a good match with the TD-SCDMA revolution to IMT-Advanced.

It is predicted that the future TD-SCDMA revolution technology will support data rates up to approximately 100 Mb/s for high mobility and up to approximately 1 Gb/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access.

Recently, some advanced techniques have been presented for TD-LTE+ in China, ranging from the system architecture to the radio processing techniques, such as multi-user (MU)-BF, wireless relaying, and carrier aggregation (CA).

For MU-BF see the paper proposed by Huawei, CHina Mobile and CATT here (http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/WG1_RL1/TSGR1_55b/Docs/R1-090133.zip).

For Wireless Relaying see the ZTE paper here (http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/WG1_RL1/TSGR1_56b/Docs/R1-091423.zip).

To achieve higher performance and target peak data rates, LTE+ systems should support bandwidth greater than 20 MHz (e.g., up to 100 MHz). Consequently, the requirements for TD-LTE+ include support for larger transmission bandwidths than in TD-LTE. Moreover, there should be backward compatibility so that a TD-LTE user can work in TD-LTE+ networks. CA is a concept that can provide bandwidth scalability while maintaining backward compatibility with TD-LTE through any of the constituent carriers, where multiple component carriers are aggregated to the desired TD-LTE+ system bandwidth. A TD-LTE R8 terminal can receive one of these component carriers, while an TD-LTE+ terminal can simultaneously access multiple component carriers. Compared to other approaches, CA does not require extensive changes to the TD-LTE physical layer structure and simplifies reuse of existing implementations. For more on Carrier Aggregation see CATT, LGE and Motorola paper here (http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/WG1_RL1/TSGR1_56b/Docs/R1-091655.zip).

Finally, there are some interesting developments happening in the TD-SCDMA market with bigger players getting interested. Once a critical mass is reached in the number of subscribers as well as the manufacturers I wouldnt be surprised if this technology is exported beyond the Chinese borders. With clear and defined evolution path this could be a win-win situation for everyone.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Teliasonera reaches a milestone with first commercial LTE Networks

TeliaSonera has rolled out commercial LTE Networks in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. The Swedish network is supplied by Ericsson and the Norway one by Huawei. At the moment only Samsung Dongles are available for browsing the web.

Read the press release here.

By the way, its a bit shameful that the operator wants to market itself and its using the term 4G for LTE as it probably sounds more sexy :) I blogged couple of years back and it still applies that LTE is 3.9G and IMT-Advanced/LTE-Advanced is 4G.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Network Operator commitments to LTE as of Oct. 2009



Operators everywhere are talking up LTE as the future, but few have put a stake in the ground with specific timeframes. Even fewer have selected LTE vendors for their endeavors. Lack of spectrum, a shaky economy and the belief that existing networks still have some mileage are contributing to the not-so-solid commitments. Nonetheless, there are plenty of network trials to go around.

Fierce Broadband Wireless has compiled list of operators' LTE plans based on those companies that have made specific intentions around LTE. While South Korean operators KT Freetel and SK Telecom haven't made public specific dates regarding their commercial launch plans, they have indicated their intentions to invest in LTE by 2010. Zain in Bahrain hasn't announced a commercial launch date yet either, but has tapped Nokia Siemens Networks as its LTE vendor.

See the complete table of rollouts here.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

TD-SCDMA Politics!


I posted sometime back about China Mobile standards ready to battle the 3G standards. I read this interesting piece in The IET Magazine:

The wait is over for millions of Chinese mobile phone users. Following several years of delays, the government has finally issued the licences that were necessary for the introduction of third-generation cellular services in the country.

As ordered by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, each of the nation’s three main operators will have to build and operate a network based on one of the three different standards that were vying for a share of the world’s largest cellular market.

China Mobile (by far the dominant carrier with over 460 million subscribers) will operate on TD-SCDMA, the 3G technology that was developed entirely in the People’s Republic by the Chinese Academy of Telecommunications Technology in collaboration with Datang and Siemens. China Telecom will run on W-CDMA, while China Unicom gets CDMA2000.

Considering how immature TD-SCDMA technology still is - and how discouraging its build-up trials have proved - China Mobile seems to have landed the worst possible deal.

Then again, that was the whole idea of this so-called reorganisation of the country’s telecoms industry. Let the incumbent cellco work on the many problems that will have to be ironed out before TD-SCDMA can be considered a credible 3G alternative, and that should give the two smaller operators enough time to catch up by taking advantage of proven technologies and an established pool of equipment suppliers.

The Chinese government wants a more balanced, more competitive telecoms market, and this should help do the trick. But the move is also likely to have some strange consequences in the relationship between mobile operators and phone makers.

China Mobile faces two different handset-related challenges when it comes to 3G. The first one is qualitative: existing TD-SCDMA phones are technically inferior to those that subscribers have been using in the rest of the world for well over eight years now. The second is quantitative: only 40 or so TD-SCDMA models exist, while China Mobile says it will need several hundred.

So the company is resorting to some unprecedented behaviour for a cellular operator. At the last Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Wang Jianzhou, the chairman of China Mobile, met with a group of handset vendors (including Nokia, LG, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and some of the Chinese manufacturers) and offered to pay them part of the R&D costs of developing better TD-SCDMA products.

Handset makers have rarely witnessed such generous attitudes from an operator. Even rarer is the fact that the offer is coming from what is now the world’s largest operator. Add to that the unfavourable financial conditions most of these OEMs are enduring and you could safely assume they’ll go and see what they can do to help China Mobile.

You can also read about what TD-SCDMA is here. More about the current status of TD-SCDMA here.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance

Earlier, I have blogged about LTE femtocells being starting point of LTE and how LTE can be better technology than HSPA. In this months IEEE Communications magazine, there is a series of articles on Femtocells. I will try and cover some of these (unless I wander off in some other direction). The first one is titled 'OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance'. At the end of this post, I have provided links to the research and the actual paper (in a legal way ;) so if you are not interested in the post and want to directly jump on the actual paper see the end of this post.

There are all kinds of statistics about the number of Femtocells worldwide. There could be upto 70million by 2012. If this happens the big problem would be the interference between Macro and Femtocells and also between Femtos. OFDMA (used in LTE and WiMAX both) Femtocells can handle the interference better than CDMA (UMTS and CDMA2000) Femtocells due to its Intracell interference avoiding properties and robustness to multipath.

So what are the main problems that the operators will face when deploying femtocells? Lets look at some of them:

  • Access method: Three different approaches exist namely, Open access, Closed access and Hybrid access which is a mix of both of them. The first two approach has some problems and I have suggested a solution before ;) but the best solution may be to go for Hybrid approach where limited connectivity is available to non-subscribers of the femto.
  • Time Synchronisation is another important aspect of OFDMA Femtos. To minimise multi-access interference and for successful handovers, synchronisation between all the Femtos and between Femto and Macro is a must. This should be acheived without any complicated hardware so as to keep the cost down.
  • Physical Cell Idendities (PCI) could be a problem because of limited numbers
  • Neighbouring cell list, which is restricted to 32 in LTE, could be a problem if too many Femtos are around
  • Handovers could also be a problem if the UE keeps jumping between Femtos and macro. One solution could be the use of HCS.




Interference analysis will definitelty play an important part in the rollouts. If not properly managed, could result in dead zones within Macro. Power control Algorithms and Radio Resource Management strategy will help but effective Spectrum allocation technique is needed as well. The diagram above shows different approaches for subchannel allocation in OFDMA femtocells.


The Femtocells would need to be self-configurable and self-optimising. I tried to explain the SON concept earlier which is similar. Self-configuration comes into picture when the Femto is switched on. Once the parameters are adjusted then Self-Optimisation tries to optimise these defaults into something better and more suited to the current environment. Sensing of the environment plays an important part in this. The diagram above shows different approaches being used by different Femtocells. The cheapest approach would ofcourse be the measurement report approach where the phone is made to report the environment. The only problem being that whichever phone was used (automatically selected) will have considerable amount of its battery power used up :)

The team behind this IEEE paper has been doing some excellent research work in the field of femtocells.

There is a book that is under publication and will be available early next year. At the same time if it interests you, you can look at some of their publications including the IEEE one that has been quoted here. Here are all the necessary links:

Hope someone finds all this info useful :)

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Security of Mobiles and Networks to be tested soon


Security researcher Karsten Nohl has issued a hacking challenge that could expose T-Mobile and AT&T cell phone users -- including Gphone and iPhone patrons -- to eavesdropping hacks within six months.

Nohl, a computer science Ph.D/ candidate from the University of Virginia, is calling for the global community of hackers to crack the encryption used on GSM phones. He plans to compile this work into a code book that can be used to decipher encrypted conversations and data that gets transmitted to and from GSM phones.

Nohl’s motive: he wants to compel the telecoms to address a security weakness that has been known for years. He estimates it will take 80 volunteer programmers six months to crunch the data to break the GSM encryption; 160 volunteers could cut that time to six weeks.“It looks like in a matter of months criminals world-wide will be able to intercept mobile phone conversations,” says Simon Bransfield-Garth, CEO of mobile security firm Cellcrypt. “The immediate impact is not just businesses and corporations, but potentially all of us who use mobile phones.”

The Chaos Computer Club has told the FT that in the couple of months it will be releasing code capable of cracking GSM with just a laptop and an antenna.

In comments made to the German edition of the Financial Times, the hacking group claims that governments, and criminals, are already using the technique which can break the encryption used to protect 2G GSM calls in near-real time using existing systems. The group says a public exposure of the technique will take place in the next month or two and allow anyone equipped with a laptop and an antenna to listen in to GSM phone calls.

GSM uses a range of algorithms for key generation, authentication, and encrypting connections. This latest crack is focused on the last element which relies on a range of algorithms known as A5 and numbered from zero to three. A5/0 indicates that no encryption is used, such as in countries still under ITAR* restrictions, A5/1 is the European standard that seems to be the target of this latest breach, A5/2 is used in the USA and generally considered weaker than A5/1, while A5/3 is the strongest of the lot and mandated by the 3G GSM standard.

GSM has been cracked before, the early algorithms used were weak and kept secret (and thus not exposed to public scrutiny), a situation made worse by network operators padding the keys with zeros to reduce the cost of SIM cards. This made a weak algorithm that relied on obscurity even weaker. But since then, the standard has proved surprisingly secure, and even today specialist equipment will take half an hour to break a call, so real-time listening to GSM calls has been restricted to James-Bond types with unlimited budgets.

But the Chaos Computer Club reckons they've found a way to share those super-spy eavesdropping capabilities with anyone, which should have implications for celebrities using mobile phones, but will probably have a more immediate impact on low-level drug dealers who've long relied on the security of GSM for their business.

All encryption breaks eventually, as computing power rises, and systems like GSM are designed with a specific lifetime during which the encryption is expected to remain secure. Changing the encryption is possible, but A5 is managed by the handset rather than the SIM and network operators have to support legacy handsets for long periods even if the latest models could be equipped with better encryption.

But the rest us will probably just hold tight until everyone is using 3G networks, at least in developed countries, where A5/3 is used and should remain secure for another decade or two.

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Greener Base stations are must for the future

Its while now since the launch of the femtocell, the small box in the home that links to the broadband network and provides a mini base station for 3G phones to improve coverage and provide some interesting new services.

UK certainly is positioned well in femtocells which are lead by two companies - ip.access in Cambridge and Ubiquisys in Swindon, UK. PicoChip in Bath is another company which is providing silicon for the vast majority of the 3G femtocell rollouts.


But there is now significant competition, both from new divisions of companies such as Pirelli, established telecoms companies such as Sagem and Alcatel-Lucent (who have joined together to provide the Vodafone femtocell) and large players such as Huawei of China which ships equipment to 60m broadband subscribers and is a major supplier to the Chinese mobile operators.

However there is new factor which start to develop from the past year or so, i.e the factor of energy costs. It’s not a secret for anybody how energy process has soared in the past few years and now the telecoms are getting affected by this as well. Energy costs, both to build and run mobile networks, are getting increasingly important. Operators use a phenomenal amount of power, 400GW - or 200,000 tons of carbon - and over half of this is on the radio access. While this seems a lot, this equates to 25kg per user, or the same as an hour's drive on the motorway.

There is now research in place in order to study the whole energy chain, from the carbon cost of building the base stations, macrocells and femtocells, to the running costs.

In my view after looking at the femtocells especially at the Green Radio at the Wireless2.0 conference in Bristol recently, it's not clear whether femtocells are a lower energy solution, even though they provide a way of filling in the network at lower cost for the operators. Having a mini base station in your home obviously brings the access point closer for the mobile phone and hence the power consumed may be less. Bit how much of this is true I don’t know.

There is no doubt that energy factor is going to have a significant impact on the design and manufacture of femtocells and traditional mobile phone cells. If, as expected, the market takes off with millions of devices, this is going to have a huge energy cost.

As mentioned by Nick Flaherty in his blog that the carbon emission will also be a challenge for the home grown suppliers to provide low energy solutions, both in operations and also in the manufacturing to provide truly green radio. And this will help the UK expertise and innovation drive green radio technologies and processes into the industry.

There is no choice for the companies to look for the alternative and green solution. As costs of deploying solar and wind power falls and energy costs rise, carriers have started looking toward green cell sites.

Once such company who is taking a lead in this prospect is Alcatel-Lucent. It’s planning to have alternative energy-powered cellsites matches that of electrically powered cell sites, which could prompt a new wave of solar-and wind-powered base stations, even in areas where an electrical connection is available. In my opinion there is no other way round as the cost of traditional energy is increasing manifolds (together with carbon emission), the price of green technology falls and networks become more efficient, using alternative energy to provide all or part of the energy at cell sites is becoming less prohibitive

Alcatel-Lucent has been working with alternative energy in wireless for five years, but it has deployed only 300 sites, mainly in Africa and the Middle East until now, which rely entirely on alternate fuels. But in the last year especially after the recent recession the alternative energy solution become a priority which resulted in a surge in interest in those technologies.

Every body in this credit crunch are finding means to cur the cost and the operators are looking to avoid the enormous costs of transporting diesel to their remote cell.

The recession has certainly given some momentum to the alternative energy cell sites and there is no doubt acceleration towards this genuine cause.

This is purely simple Economics as Electricity is a large part of an operator’s operational budget as it feeds massive quantities of power to a highly distributed network of cell sites to support not just the base station power amplifiers and radios on-site but also the air-conditioning units necessary to power them. The increase in energy costs is being largely offset with the increased power efficiencies of most vendors’ equipment. The huge site cabinets are now getting replaced with compact modular base stations, which not only consume less power but also require far less cooling. The current generation of equipment has cut power consumption between one-third and one-half. Many new radio systems also are coming equipped with energy-saving software, which powers down the base station during non-peak hours or when relatively few customers are on the cell.

Current economic climate and energy efficiency factor will definitely serve to promote green energy sooner rather than push it off to a later date. Furthermore as the market for alternative energy solutions grows in other industries the cost of the technology goes down for telecom, sending the price of solar panels and wind turbines down. Combining the above trend together with regulatory and political environments the alternative energy solution is imminently favorable as a green solution.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

DoCoMo and Verizon on track for LTE

Verizon Wireless said Friday afternoon that it has completed "successful data calls" at its Long Term Evolution (LTE) test sites in Boston and Seattle.

The data transfers were made over the 700 MHz LTE networks in Verizon's first two major city test sites. Boston and Seattle are expected to be the first two cities that will go live commercially with the pre-4G technology early in 2010. Those cities each now have 10 LTE 4G cell sites up and running on the 700 MHz spectrum.

Verizon isn't yet talking about the data connection speeds. "Everything is as the team expected... But because this is a very controlled environment we don't want to put a number out on the market yet," says company spokesman, Jeff Nelson.

This has pretty much been Verizon's stance throughout -- it doesn't want to talk about test numbers that might not have much relevance on the real networks. Tests have shown connections at anything between 50 Mbit/s to 8 Mbit/s.


NTT DoCoMo has been under intense competitive pressure in recent quarters, as the Japanese market saturates and new players enter the game. Its quarterly results showed a 15.1% decline in net profit to ¥147.4bn ($1.56bn), on revenue down 7.3% to ¥1,085 trillion ($11.46bn), even as rival Softbank enjoyed a 41.4% increase in profits on a slight revenue increase.

The main problem for DoCoMo was lower voice revenue amid increased competition and low cost tariffs - from KDDI and Softbank and also new entrant eMobile, which focuses on flat rate data services. The cellcos are engaged in a price war, which has forced all of them, especially Softbank, to launch cost cutting programs.

DoCoMo reiterated plans to launch LTE services next year, though it is pushing the deadline as far as possible - to December 2010 - determined not to have to rely on pre-standard equipment as it did for 3G with its FOMA platform. Its first roll-out will be targeted at PC cards, said CEO Ryuji Yamada, and will be extended to dual-mode 3G/LTE handsets in 2011. By 2014 it plans to provide LTE service to 50% of the population from around 20,000 base stations at a cost of between ¥300bn and ¥400bn ($3.2bn to $4.2bn).

The Japanese service will initially be aimed at PC users, with DoCoMo offering card-type terminals for laptops, said Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo at a Tokyo news conference. It will be expanded to include handset terminals from 2011, he said. Those terminals will be dual-mode devices that use LTE networks where available and fall back to 3G networks to provide nationwide coverage.

By 2014 the carrier plans to provide LTE service to 50 percent of Japan from around 20,000 base stations.

DoCoMo plans to invest between ¥300 billion and ¥400 billion (US$3.2 billion to $4.2 billion) during the first five years of the roll-out, said Yamada.

NTT DoCoMo was the first carrier in the world to launch a commercial 3G wireless service based on WCDMA but based on its LTE roll-out it will likely be beaten this time around by carriers in other countries.

Verizon Wireless has said it plans to launch a 60Mbps trial LTE service in two U.S. cities in late 2009, to be followed by a commercial service in 2010. European carriers are also getting behind the technology with several tests under way or planned on the continent. TeliaSonera has said it will build a commercial LTE network in Stockholm, Sweden, and in Oslo, Norway.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

August 2009: Mobile TV Roundup



Qualcomm is slowly building content for its Flo TV mobile service for cell phones with the recent announcement that Discovery Communications launched a Shark Week Mobile Channel.
Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programs are scheduled to air on the
Flo TV service through Aug. 14.

Flo TV uses the analog spectrum previously occupied by television broadcasters, and offers programming from several of the large network brands. Flo TV President Bill Stone says he envisions expanding the service from cell phones to cars and other consumer electronics products.

Flo TV, however, is not the only mobile TV service. AT&T CruiseCast launched a satellite-based television service in cars June 1.

CruiseCast, which is really an AT&T logo slapped onto RaySat Broadcasting equipment and services, offers 22 TV channels and 20 satellite radio channels. Its satellite antenna is a fat disc the size of a Bundt cake affixed to the roof of a vehicle.

The service costs $28 a month, plus $1,300 for equipment, which requires certified installers who charge an additional $200-$300, says Jim Llewellyn, who demonstrated the service July 31 in San Diego.


If you feell you're missing out on The Ashes action, you can now watch the Ashes for free on your W995.

A 3-month pass for the Sky Mobile TV service now comes bundled with the device exclusively on the 3 Network.

With the service, you can watch eight made-for-mobile channels that use highlights content from the Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and Xtra channels. You’ll also be able to watch live matches right on your W995 too.

Australian cricketers Glenn McGrath and Matthew Hoggard appeared at the launch of the new bundle, and McGrath expressed his thoughts on the new bundle, saying ”the Sony Ericsson W995 on 3 is a real must for any dedicated cricket fan. To be able to access crucial games via Sky Mobile TV on the go, especially when a tournament like The Ashes is on is invaluable to me.”

After the initial 3-month period, Sky Mobile TV will cost you £5 a month. So, while the savings aren’t amazing, amounting to a whopping £15 in total, it’s still a great feature to have right now if you’re a cricket fan.



Testing of free mobile digital TV for cell phones, netbooks and other on-the-go devices is ramping up in the weeks ahead, and the first devices that can provide such broadcasts should be on store shelves by next year, according to the broadcaster-based group behind the effort.
"Just like you turn on your TV today at home and watch live and local broadcast television, you will turn on your handset and be able to watch live and local broadcast television," said Anne Schelle, executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition.

Trials are underway around the country in cities such as Chicago, New York and Raleigh, N.C. The biggest test pond will be Washington, D.C., where broadcasters have the attention of what may be the nation's most powerful audience — politicians. "We already have two stations on the air there, and we'll have the rest of our stations on air by next week," said Schelle.

Cell phones are probably the largest single group of devices that could receive local TV programming.

"There are 250 million of them out there," said Schelle. It's not clear whether wireless carriers are as enthusiastic.


MobileCrunch has picked up an interesting story from AV Watch - who themselves have spotted a USB tuner that plugs in to your TV, and then streams out 1-Seg (that’s a Japanese TV standard) formatted TV that your iPhone/iPod Touch can pick up via an App running over WiFi. Nice.

The iPhone has been at somewhat of a disadvantage for a time, because unlike a lot of other phones in Japan, it can’t natively pick up a TV signal - Japan is one of the places where Mobile TV has worked (but there are a number of specific reasons for that….), so this little bit of kit solves an issue for people who need their TV fix.

The USB device is called the SEG Clip, and is sold by I-O data it follows a previous device that was more of a standalone unit from Softbank Mobile - that one was it’s own receiver, transmitted the data by WiFi, but also double as an extra battery if you plugged it in to an iPhone.



WISH-TV today announced the expansion of its mobile offerings to include a new application for BlackBerry smartphones. This mobile application is the latest addition to 24-Hour News 8’s fully synchronized television and digital offerings that are available free of charge at www.wishtv.com .

WISH-TV unveiled its iPhone custom application with great popularity and much success in May 2009. In addition to these specialized applications, 24-Hour News 8 is also available via any web-enabled mobile device.

LIN TV , WISH-TV’s parent company, in conjunction with News Over Wireless (NOW) has developed the custom BlackBerry smartphone and iPhone applications for each of its 27 local television stations. Six LIN TV stations, including WISH-TV, launch the BlackBerry smartphone service today. LIN TV is the first in its local markets to provide instantaneous and on-demand access to its local news, sports and entertainment, as well as video, weather forecasts and traffic reports to BlackBerry smartphone subscribers.

Six LIN TV stations launched the BlackBerry service last week, including WISH-TV, WAVY-TV, KRQE-TV, WANE-TV, WALA-TV and KXAN-TV. LIN has been among the more aggressive broadcasters in the deployment of its content over nontraditional platforms.

Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS) has made its Hindi, Marathi and Bengali news channels -- STAR News, STAR Majha and STAR Ananda -- available on the mobile TV platform.

The content of all three channels will be streamed live, including the ads that appear during the news programmes. The content will be available on the 3G networks of MTNL and BSNL. However, the company claims that their mobile TV option will also be made accessible to subscribers of other telecom operators, who offer 2.5G services.

Currently, only two mobile operators -- BSNL and MTNL -- offer 3G services in India. The video content delivery process is faster on 3G mobile networks, as compared to 2.5G.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

All data packets are not created equal





Have a look at this video from last year then read this extract from a report in Mobile Europe:

The most inefficient mobile data applications are mobile email, location based services, secure applications and things like stock updates and tickers.

This is what Alcatel-Lucent’s Mike Schabel, Phd, Alcatel-Lucent General Manager, 9900 Wireless Network Guardian, told journalists in an excellent presentation on the difficulties the huge increases in wireless data usage will give mobile operators.

Schabel said that although attention has been focused on P2P traffic because of the volume involved, such services are in fact very efficient in terms of the network resources they use. In essence, a user downloading a film, or watching a video, gets online, establishes a radio connection, does what they have to, and then gets offline.

This kind of behaviour is predictable and manageable, Schabel said. In contrast, Schabel’s team found that in one operator, mobile email was using 25% of the available signaling capacity, even though it was only responsible for 4% of the network traffic volume. This is because of the constantly on-off nature of a push mobile email device as it receives messages, continuously signing on and off the network. Location based services, that also required a constant “conversation” with the network, are also very resource intensive.

Schabel said that examples such as this show that there is a “hidden cost” in many of the data services that mobile operators are looking to deploy. Operators need to factor in cost per minute and cost per bit, he said. A further cost comes when as a result of not understanding network activity such as this, or the way an application works imperfectly on a device, can cause outages and delays in the network – causing poor user experience.

The answer, he said, is first to understand the root cause of problems occurring within the network, or on other elements upon which the service relies (content/ app server, handset, web server, etc).

Second, operators then can plan and design their networks to meet predictable and known demand (“System engineering 1.0”, in Schabel’s words). This may include additional bearers and resources, but it may also be something as simple as re-aligning existing resources. Only then would operators need to consider other throttling or management methods such as policy management, or CRM and billing tools.

Schabel was speaking to publicise his company’s tool, the 9900 Wireless Network Guardian. This is a device that takes in core network data information in real time, analyses it, and produces data on specific issues of network performance.

Schabel said that the issue to date is that wireless network monitoring tools have been “blind” to IP traffic, while packet inspection and other IP techniques cannot “see” the wireless network. What is needed is a system that marries to two together, so operators can see services operating both in cost per bit, and cost per minute terms.

Read Complete report here.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

LTE Subscribers forecast and market movements



A report last year mentioned that the number of LTE subscribers by 2013 will be 85 million but a new report from research firm Forward Concepts, which looks at trends including 3G evolution and handset shipment growth, claims that the number of LTE users will be 56 million by 2013.

According to the report, HSPA+ will begin to displace W-CDMA and HSDPA technologies, and the first LTE devices to hit the market in 2010 will be data cards and dongles.

The Forward Concepts study also takes a look at some other trends in the industry. The firm predicts that global handset shipments will be down this year, and forecasts a 4.4 percent contraction. The report predicts a resurgence in unit shipments in 2010, however, and calls for a 12.8 percent growth in shipments. The one bright spot for 2009 is smartphones: Forward Concepts predicts a 25 percent jump in smartphone sales.

LCD display technology also will come under pressure from other technologies, including OLED, ePaper, Qualcomm's Mirasol and Liquavista, according to the report. The market for these "post-LCD" displays will grow to over $3 billion in 2013, the report said.

On the operator front, NTT DoCoMo is sticking to its plan to be a first stage deployer, with first roll-out in 2010, while work has begun on outdoor testing of the TD-LTE technology that all three Chinese carriers will use.

DoCoMo chief Ryuji Yamada told the London Financial Times that the cellco has not gone cool on its 2010 timescale. The firm needs to enable new services to respond to UQ's aggressive launch of mobile broadband offerings based on WiMAX, and to stay ahead of established rivals KDDI and Softbank, and the disruptive and data-driven newcomer eMobile. Yamada said DoCoMo wants to be "in the leading group in this technology", and that he sees a move to LTE as a way to be fully compatible with global standards, which will improve device economics. In 3G, DoCoMo moved so early that it deployed a pre-standard implementation of W-CDMA, FOMA. This is now used by 91% of its base, with over 50m subscribers after almost eight years in commercial service, but it has two downsides that will drive DoCoMo to LTE early - over-dependence on Japanese handset makers, with the high costs of slightly off-standard devices; and networks that are older than those of newer cellcos and in areas are becoming obsolete.

The Chinese operators have similar dilemmas, especially China Mobile, which is stuck with an off-standard 3G technology, TD-SCDMA, and wants to move quickly to a platform that brings global economies of scale and allows it to be more cutting edge in services. While it may have virtually no opportunity to get ROI on its 3G spend, it aims also to be in the first group of LTE deployers, though it will be using the TDD strain of the standard.

Earlier this year, it took over the trial sites in Spain that had previously been used by Vodafone and Verizon Wireless for FDD-LTE, and is now reported to be moving this initial test program to China and towards more real world outdoor trials. Sources say these outdoor tests could also involve other Chinese operators, and will involve six vendors working in the Beijing area. Surprisingly, if the insiders are right, these vendors do not include Motorola, which has been the main supplier in the Spanish project, and claims it has a major headstart in TD-LTE because of its extensive experience with TDD mobile broadband, using WiMAX. But the new Chinese tests involve four homegrown vendors (Huawei, ZTE, Datang and Potevio, the latter a Nokia venture) plus Ericsson and Nokia Siemens. The inclusion of more CDMA-oriented suppliers, notably Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent, is likely to follow when CDMA carrier China Telecom starts its own TD-LTE tests.

The testing process determined by the TD-LTE Working Group has three stages - indoor, outdoor and large-scale outdoor testing, the last of these involving two or three major cities with at least 100 base stations each. The local vendors have already been working on indoor testing in China since the start of the year.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Operators give Femtocells Thumbs up in Femtocells World Summit

AT&T Inc. has announced that it will launch femtocells nationwide by the end of the year, expanding the trial launch it’s been running since January.

"We will expand that into a marketing trial of the AT&T-branded 3G Microcell, which will be open to customers through our AT&T stores ... in a handful of cities,” said Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's executive director for radio access network delivery, speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London. "We're on track for a full national launch by the end of 2009."

He also said the carrier was exploring ways to expand the femto opportunity beyond simply selling standalone home base stations that offload cellular backhaul from the macro network and boost bandwidth for cellular users. For instance, integrating a femto into other devices in the home.

Meanwhile, Vodafone UK 's surprise femtocell service launch announcement yesterday won't force T-Mobile International AG 's hand to launch a rival service in the U.K. or in any of its markets.

The German giant is sticking to its femto guns and does not feel compelled to take on the largest mobile operator by revenue with a commercial home base station service of its own, simply because Vodafone was first to market in Europe.

"We won't be pushed by that announcement," said Klaus-Jürgen Krath, T-Mobile's senior VP of radio networks engineering, speaking on the sidelines of the Femtocells World Summit in London today. "Let's see how they do in the market...

"There is not any firm launch plan that I can disclose now," he added.

T-Mobile has been busily testing and investing in femto technology for the last few years, but the operator maintains that there are still technical and marketing issues that need to be resolved before a consumer mass market solution is possible.

T-Mobile is a strategic investor in access point vendor Ubiquisys Ltd. and femto chip startup Percello Ltd.

According to French mobile operator SFR , France is a tough market for femtocells.

And one of the issues that makes the country extra special in Europe is the growing public concern about the health risks from cellular antennas and handsets, according to Guillaume de Lavallade, director of network marketing at SFR, who was speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London.

WiFi hotspots have been disconnected in public libraries; there have been court actions to prevent the installation of cellular masts or have them removed when they're close to schools or homes; and the national government is investigating the health risk associated with masts and handsets, explains Lavallade.

"Introducing femtos in France in this environment is raising these questions," he says.

You can explain that the emitted power of femtos is 10 times less than that of WiFi, comparable to a DECT phone, and that 3G handsets emit less power when connecting to the femto than on the macro network, or that a network based on a femto architecture generates less power than a macro architecture, he says.

"It's difficult for an operator to take those facts and figures to the consumer," he says.

SFR has been trialing a femto from Ubiquisys Ltd. , which was
spotted on a French Website recently.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Free Sim, Free Calls forever and no Topup needed - Welcome to '3'

Free Skype-to-Skype calls and instant messaging, free Windows Live messenger and free voice mail in the UK. Welcome to a new contract called SIM Zero from '3' UK.

A minimum contract period of 30 days and the ability to make free Skype calls, all for the princely amount of £0 per month is not bad at all. For the occasional one off calls or texts, 3 will charge users 20p per minute regardless of the networks and the time of call while texts will cost users 10p each. Furthermore, each MB of data will be charged at 30p which is fairly reasonable.

If you are likely to make more than 45 minutes worth of calls per month AND you'd like to stick to 3, then they've got a £9 price plan that gives you 100 anytime, any network minutes or texts, or any mix of the two plus free 300 minutes of 3-to-3 calls and a free mobile phone.

Users will not be coerced into topping up their mobile account regularly; 3 recommends using either theh INQ1 or the Skypephone S2 which are both available for £70 for the contract. Nevertheless, you should be able to plug any 3G phone to get the service.

Via: IT Portal