Sunday, 12 August 2007

Training on Latest 3G/4G Topics

As i have mentioned in my posts before, i provide training on behalf of eXplanoTech. Some of the latest training available are:
Introduction to 3G/UMTS - 1-5 days
High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) - 1 day
High Speed Uplink Packet Access (HSUPA) - 1 day
High Speed Packet Access (HSPA/HSPA+) - 2 days
Introduction to MBMS - ½ day
MBMS and Mobile TV - 1 day
Advanced MBMS - 1-2 day(s)
IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) - 2 days
Robust Header Compression (RoHC) - ½ day
Long Term Evolution (LTE) - 1 day
TCP/IP Refresher Course - 1 day
TCP/IP Overview for Telecom Engineers - 2 days
WiMAX and 4G Wireless - 1 day
New Wireless PAN (WPAN) Standards - 1 day
If any of these trainings interest you or your company the please drop me an email.
We also offer one to one training to executives and top decision makers. We can also offer personal one to one training to professionals looking to enhance their skills and yes we offer free seminars to interested universities. For anything that interests you, do drop me an email.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Vodafone plays the WiMAX card

Vodafone announced that it is to become a member of the WiMAX Forum, the organisation which tests and certifies interoperability for products based on the WiMAX standards. Vodafone sees the move as a means of taking a more technology-neutral approach to the future development of its business, by placing WiMAX on a strategic par with 3G LTE for a potential role in the next generation of mobile technology. Although mobile WiMAX is less mature than LTE at present, Vodafone believes it may have an important role to play for some of its national operating companies. Vodafone therefore wants to understand WiMAX better, and to play an active role in developing end-to-end specifications for possible future deployment.

WiMAX standard is often compared to Wi-Fi, though the comparison is unfair as WiMAX isn't based on a 20-year-old wired standard but was designed for wireless use (at least, the bits not borrowed from DOCSIS were). WiMAX offers greater speed and range than Wi-Fi, but most importantly it offers quality of service guarantees that make VoIP and streaming applications easier to manage.

"Our membership of the WiMAX Forum will complement our existing memberships of other key industry bodies such as the GSMA, 3GPP, and the Next Generation Mobile Network initiative," Vodafone global chief technology officer Steve Pusey said.

WiMAX has been heavily pushed by Intel, which intends to build it into laptop chipsets, encouraging rapid adoption of a technology in which it owns key intellectual property.

According to Ovum analysis:

Although a slightly crude generalisation, it's basically accurate to see the WiMAX Forum as the wireless Internet camp; the 3GPP as the wireless telecoms camp. There was a time when those two camps represented philosophies which were mutually exclusive and frequently antagonistic. These days, it makes less sense to see the world in those terms, because convergence between telecoms and the Internet - though far from complete - is now well under way. But at this early phase of the transition to convergence, it's not yet clear whether the predominant technologies and business models will eventually be those of telecoms, or those of the Internet. It's sensible, therefore, to remain interested in (and influential over) both possible outcomes, so long as they both remain possible.

Seen in that context, it seems perfectly natural that a large mobile operator would decide to join the WiMAX Forum. In Vodafone's case, the move is especially logical because of its increasing presence in emerging markets. The prospects for WiMAX to play an important role in the future development of mobile are better in those parts of the world where large numbers of people do not yet have access to telecoms or the Internet. If alternative models are going to take root, it's most likely to happen in areas with less legacy. On the other hand, the telecoms model will predominate for the forseeable future in more mature markets. Vodafone clearly needs to be involved in the development of both types of model, since its business encompasses both types of market.

It says something about the way mobile has changed since the turn of the century, that joining the WiMAX Forum just seems like an obviously sensible thing for Vodafone
to do.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Which Mobile TV technology to go for?

There is aa lot of confusion regarding which mobile TV technology to go for. An article in Telecoms Online gives an idea regarding which way the Chinese market is going for mobile TV.

A recent survey shows more than 40 percent of cell phone users in China like the idea of watching TV on handsets. Some pundits even predict the number of mobile TV users in China will jump to nearly 60 million in 2008, and revenue from handset sales and programming will generate 1.3 billion yuan (US$170m).

The road to mobile TV, however, most likely will be bumpy. Current trials have found several vulnerabilities, such as handset display hang-up when video content is loaded, short battery life and overheating, that must be fixed.

What’s really hindering mobile TV development in China (and, arguably, in other geographical regions), however, is lack of agreement on one standard. In June, a government agency overseeing the mobile TV industry reaffirmed CMMB (China Mobile Multimedia Broadcasting) as the official standard for 3G video service. The reason: CMMB is homegrown and completely free of foreign IPRs.

The State Administration of Radio, Film and TV developed CMMB last October, but a tug-of-war over the standard has undermined SARFT’s efforts to implement it this year. Despite a slow start, SARFT has obtained 25MHz in bandwidth on 2.5GHz for CMMB service and plans to build networks for the Olympics in six cities, including Beijing, Shanghai and Qingdao.

The other contenders CMMB must fight are DVB-H (Europe), Media-FLO (United States), T-DMB (Korea), DMB-TH (a digital TV spec modified for handheld developed by Tsinghua University), T-MMB (Nufrontsoft, which is aligned with MII, the Chinese telecom regulatory body) and CMB (Huawei).

For now, CMMB appears to be most appealing because of SARFT backing. SARFT’s control of programming and distribution in China gives CMMB a huge regulatory and cost advantage over rival mobile TV standards.
Recognizing that CMMB has clout in China, a large industry alliance of 120 companies backs the standard, including heavyweights such as Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson, and Chinese firms like Lenovo, Huawei and ZTE.

One of the main benefits of CMMB, according to SARFT, is that it does not charge royalties for two years, saving an estimated 1 billion yuan (US$130m) in foreign IPR payments. SARFT hopes the savings will encourage handset manufacturers to cooperate in perfecting the standard and expediting proliferation.

There are other concerns. Some Chinese standards are not really independent but a hodgepodge of foreign versions. Reports say T-MMB, developed by Nufrontsoft, incorporates certain core DAB patents like DMB that will be in effect until 2013. Critics say if Chinese handset makers adopt T-MMB they will have to dole out hefty royalties–about US$6 per set or up to US$120m to US$300m per year.

CMMB and T-MMB use different approaches to video transmission and delivery. T-MMB uses a streaming overlay on top of mobile infrastructure, so that it shares the total bandwidth and download speed for the service, like the current video service. CMMB relies on a tuner installed in the handset to receive video signals over the air.

The T-MMB advocates say adding a tuner will compromise other features affecting handset and overall performance, while the CMMB supporters predict T-MMB will be dead on arrival because video traffic will crash the network and cost will skyrocket.

The debate over mobile TV standards is not just about patriotism and technology. SARFT has jurisdiction over broadcasting via various media outlets, including handheld devices, while T-MMB is a brainchild of MII which, by default, only provides a transmission conduit to end users but not content and distribution.

The problem is that both sides see mobile TV as a golden opportunity but want to run the market on their own terms. At this time, the central government sees it as a market issue and is reluctant to provide guidelines, so tussle over mobile TV probably will go on for some time before technical issues are straightened out.

Monday, 6 August 2007

UMA is not Dead

I did not hear about UMA for long time and i was starting to think that this would be one of the dead technologies that never saw the light of the day. I was wrong. It was pointed out to me by a colleague that T-Mobile (U.S.) recently announced Hotspot @ home that will allow UMA access to the Mobile while within a WiFi coverage area.
Note: UMA or Unlicensed Mobile Access is no longer called UMA but by its new name GAN or Generic Access Network
T-Mobiles GAN service lets users make phone calls over their in-home WiFi networks or over T-Mobile's national cellular network, depending on whether the customer is inside a T-Mobile HotSpot or not. The big problem with UMA, though, is that users must use dual-mode phones. T-Mobile's HotSpot@Home plan currently costs $10 a month after the purchase of a dual-mode phone and WiFi router, if one isn't owned already.
AT&T (again U.S) is also planning a similar move but its going the FemtoCell Way. Industry sources have revealed that AT&T has filed a request for proposal (RFP) to suppliers that may be interested in participating in AT&T's in-home femtocell service, according to wireless trade publication Unstrung. Femtocells are access points that act as repeaters to strengthen cellular communication signals inside homes, offices, and underground areas like subways. T-Mobile is trying to accomplish a similar task with its HotSpot@Home service, which brings better call quality to subscribers through the use of WiFi routers.
Although AT&T's femtocells would likely require a broadband internet connection, femtocells don't use the WiFi routers that most people already have in their homes. Instead, users would need to buy a new plug-and-play unit that could cost in the area of $200. Companies like picoChip currently develop reference designs for units that could be used by AT&T or its suppliers.

Because femtocells do not use WiFi signals, they don't require dual-mode handsets, which opens up the market to customers that don't want to ditch their current phones just to get the benefits of a stronger in-home signal. Meanwhile, potential T-mobile HotSpot@Home customers can only choose between two phones (the Nokia 6086 and Samsung T409), which means existing customers have to ditch their current mobile phones for a dual-mode device. Blackberry 8820 will soon be available in U.S. which has support of UMA.
Meanwhile Kineto Wireless, the innovator and pioneer of UMA, recently joined femtoforum. In addition to the promotion of femtocell deployment, the forum is focused on addressing several key technical issues, including radio planning and control, provisioning and management, and device-to-core network connectivity. As the core network technology behind a growing number of large-scale, dual-mode handset deployments, the 3GPP UMA standard is now being recognized as the de-facto standard for device-to-core network connectivity in the femtocell market as well. Recently, Kineto initiated interoperability testing between femtocell access points and its industry leading UMA Network Controller (UNC), and has already completed testing with Ubiquisys, the number one femtocell access point vendor.
"The femtocell industry is starting to appreciate the three year head start
UMA has over proprietary approaches being proposed for device-to-core network connectivity," said Patrick Tao, Kineto's vice president of technology. "As the
technology behind successful l dual-mode handset services, such as unik from
FT/Orange and T-Mobile's Hotspot @Home, the 3GPP UMA standard has already identified and addressed the real-world deployment issues operators face in
bringing femtocells to market. These issues include security, device
authentication, access controls, handover, regulatory compliance, as well as
scalability to support millions of endpoints."
One thing to remember here is that not all mobiles supporting WiFi will support UMA. On the other hand all phones that support UMA will support WiFi.
An Introduction on UMA can be found here or here.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Certified Wireless USB is finally here

Two manufacturers of laptop PCs and two designers of wireless hubs and adapters are the first companies to receive consumer product certifications from the Universal Serial Bus Implementers Forum (USB-IF). The Certified Wireless USB products are expected to be in stores for the back-to-school and holiday gift season.

Previously certified silicon from Alereon, Intel Corp., NEC Corp., Realtek Corp., and WiQuest Communications are integrated into the products, according to the USB-IF.

The two laptop companies are Dell Computer for its Inspiron 1720 notebook and Lenovo for its ThinkPad T61/T61p 15.4-inch Widescreen Notebook. Networking companies D-Link and IOGear each had a wireless hub and also an adapter certified. Certification of the Wireless USB protocol by the USB-IF assures the interoperability of devices from a variety of manufacturers.

Certified Wireless USB is based on the WiMedia Alliance's Ultra-WideBand (UWB) common radio platform, which is capable of PHY-layer data rates of 480 Mbit/s at distances up to 3 meters and 110 Mbit/s at up to 10 meters.

From an engineering perspective, the question of co-existence with other wireless technologies in the 3 GHz band has been a persistent question for Wireless USB.

Dell and Lenovo have announced the first notebooks with embedded Certified Wireless USB chips - the Dell Inspiron 1720 and Lenovo ThinkPad T61and T62p. The laptops connect wirelessly to USB peripherals hooked up to Certified Wireless USB hubs such as those released by D-Link and IOGear. They will carry a Certified Wireless USB logo. In the interim, until peripherals catch up with the technology, they will need to be plugged into a wireless USB hub. This will allow the Dell and Lenovo laptops to communicate with a peripheral device such as a conventional printer plugged into the hub.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

2G is Dead, Long live 3G

Two bands of spectrum — at 900MHz and 1800MHz respectively — were set aside in the 1980s for use by the emerging 2G/GSM mobile-phone market. However, since 3G/UMTS became a reality earlier this decade, many users have switched over to the new standard, which operates at the higher-frequency 2100MHz.
This development has reduced the demand for the lower frequencies, and some mobile operators have been arguing for some time that those spectrums should "refarmed" for 3G services. Those operators have pointed out that lower frequencies allow the signal to be transmitted over greater distances and have suggested that, because 3G infrastructure has been deployed mainly in urban areas where the maximum return on investment can be made, refarming would allow greater use of 3G "mobile internet" services in rural areas.
However, one issue remains unresolved in the refarming debate. O2 and Vodafone use 900MHz for their GSM services, while T-Mobile and Orange use 1800MHz. The smallest UK operator, 3, has no GSM spectrum at all. Because lower frequencies transmit further, the EC's proposals have the potential to give O2 and Vodafone the chance to have greater 3G coverage, at a lower cost, than their rivals. 3 stands to be the most disadvantaged network as it has no GSM spectrum to refarm.

Neither Orange, T-Mobile nor 3 had responded to a request for comment on the EC's proposals at the time of writing.
Even more space could become available for 3G services next year when Ofcom auctions off 192MHz of spectrum around the 2.6GHz frequency. However, that spectrum could also be used for alternative mobile broadband services, like mobile WiMax. Pending a formal green light from the European Commission, Reding's proposals on refarming should be in place by the end of this year.

BT Movio ... going ... going ... gone

UK national telecommunication company British Telecom (BT) has closed its mobile broadcast branch BT Movio. The delivery platform developed by BT Movio supports the only mobile broadcast TV service in the UK. The service is retailed by UK largest mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Virgin Mobile. The operator declared that the service will carry on until the beginning of next year. BT has cancelled its contract with GCap Media which provided access to the Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) spectrum. GCap mentioned that the cancellation will take effect on 9 June 2008. GCap subsidiary Digital One which is in charge of the spectrum is currently seeking other partners to replace BT Movio.
Virgin had released only one handset — the HTC-manufactured "Lobster phone" — which supported the technology, and sales of that device were poor. The Lobster phone was seen by critics as an unattractive handset and, being based on Windows Mobile, it was not ideally suited to the consumer sector.
However, the final straw for BT was the recent backing given by the European Commission to the mobile broadcast technology Digital Video Broadcasting — Handheld (DVB-H). BT Movio was based on the rival Digital Audio Broadcasting — IP (DAB-IP) standard, which reused digital radio spectrum to deliver a handful of TV channels and a range of digital radio stations. DVB-H promises more channels, but spectrum availability for that technology had looked uncertain until it became apparent last week that the European Commission would force member states to adopt the standard.
According to screendigest:
Unicast mobile TV (i.e. distributed through 3G networks) has been relatively successful in the UK with three major operators launching services with more than 25 TV channels on average. According to Screen Digest, they were almost 450,000 mobile TV subscribers at the end of 2006. While unicast mobile TV can offer a wide range of TV content, the infrastructure can only sustain a limited number of users. In order to support mass market adoption mobile broadcast TV networks must be deployed. BT Movio launched the broadcast mobile TV service with Virgin Mobile in September 2006. The service showed poor uptake during the first 3 months with less than 10,000 subscribers. Factors blamed for the poor uptake include a lack of content and poor handset availability. The upcoming UK auction for L-Band spectrum could have given BT Movio the opportunity to increase the capacity of the current platform and improve the channel line-up. However, the BT Movio platform requires IP compatibility from the broadcast network technology. DVB-H, DAB and MBMS support IP encapsulation. T-DMB, the preferred technology for the L-Band spectrum auction, does not support IP. Therefore, BT Movio was stuck with a platform which cannot draw enough attention from mobile operators, handset manufacturers and inevitably mobile subscribers.
The UK operator '3' is keen to big up its own mobile TV and video services in the wake of BT's announcement. 3 UK says its customers have:
  • Downloaded more than a million reality TV clips in the last year.
  • Downloaded over a million SeeMeTV clips every month, with £100,000 being made by budding directors in the process.
  • Last summer watched World Cup TV on their mobiles nearly 4 million times.
Among the live streamed channels 3 offers are BBC1, BBC3 and ITV1, with access starting at 49p a day. Its also allows customers to access TV from their set-top's with a Slingbox app.

Friday, 27 July 2007

HSPA in Latin America

In the past few weeks, operators Personal and Movistar in Argentina, Movistar in Mexico as well as Movistar and Ancel in Uruguay have all launched UMTS/HSDPA commercial service in their respective markets in Latin America. In addition to the operators listed above, in the past seven months, UMTS/HSDPA has been launched by AT&T in Puerto Rico and Entel PCS in Chile, making a total of seven operators that offer UMTS/HSDPA in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The number of operator deployments of HSDPA has increased by 200% in the last year, from 42 HSDPA networks to 130 commercial HSDPA networks today in 61 countries. Today, there are 177 total deployments of UMTS technology in 74 countries and nearly 300 commercial HSDPA devices available worldwide. Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that there will be 190 million UMTS or HSDPA customers worldwide by the end of 2007.
Latin America has become one of the worlds’ fastest-growing regions for GSM wireless service, as many operators have migrated their networks from other technologies (such as CDMA and TDMA) to the GSM evolution to take advantage of the tremendous scope and scale, as well as technology benefits, offered by EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA. There are an estimated 255 million GSM subscribers in Latin America and the Caribbean as of June 30, 2007, representing a 75% share of market. In addition, many operators in the region have deployed EDGE high speed wireless data services; in fact, there are 38 commercial EDGE networks in 21 countries today.

Erasmo Rojas, Director of Latin America and the Caribbean for 3G Americas commented, “EDGE delivers an excellent customer experience for wireless data, serving as a foundation for customer uptake of wireless data services and increasing revenues for all GSM operators. The next move is to UMTS/HSDPA mobile broadband. We expect many more launches of HSDPA in 2007 and 2008 throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.”

As GSM customers push for speed and applications to satisfy their demands for services such as web browsing, email, mobile payments, interactive gaming and video sharing, UMTS/HSDPA provides the solution with average downlink throughput data rates over 1 Mbps in favorable conditions and latency measuring at 70-100 milliseconds. +

Many more operators throughout Latin America and the Caribbean are planning their move to mobile broadband with HSDPA. Rojas continued, “However, some carriers need additional spectrum allocations before UMTS/HSDPA networks can be launched.”

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Google jumps on the Femtocells Bandwagon

Ubiquisys recently announced that it has secured funding from Google for its ZoneGate Femtocell. This is an interesting move from the Internet Giant which has also been showing interest in Mobile Phones.

The Inquirer suggests that if Google is showing interest in Femtocells then they have become sexy.
Ubiquisys's Zonegate femtocell plugs into DSL and then provides access to WiFi, Ethernet, ordinary telephones and USB. But the most important thing is that it also acts as a local 3G base station. So Google has something in mind which can be done by providing Broadband in homes.
Dean Bubbly, writing in Seeking Alpha says that he is surprised by Google's move. He writes:
Yes, I know that Google's talking about pitching $4.6B for the US 700MHz spectrum... and yes, I know that there's a 700MHz standard for UMTS going through 3GPP at the moment. But I'd have thought that femtos at that sort of
frequency was fairly pointless, as the big attraction of 700MHz is that it's got great range and goes through walls easily.

The real advantage of 3G femtos, in my view, lies in 2100MHz 3G spectrum (i.e. most of the world today outside the US), and probably in the future in 2600MHz band. It's conceivable that Google might want to start bidding for those chunks of spectrum around the world, but I'm unconvinced that it's
going to follow the classic cellular path (i.e. 3GPP UMTS or LTE) rather than something more Internet-like.

There's an outside possibility that Google might, in fact, want to do something with WiMAX - but at present, Ubiquisys doesn't do WiMAX femtos, although chipset supplier PicoChip is certainly doing suitable silicon. Maybe that's what the investment's for . . .
What no one is talking about is, Is there some way of advertisement using Femtocells? I am sure if Google is going this way then there must be something on advertisement.
We will have to wait and see.

China trying to catch up on 4G

In a move to improve the nation's research and development (R&D) capability, top mobile phone operator China Mobile will promote more self-developed next-generation mobile network technologies that match international standards, an official at its research institute disclosed.

The Research Institute of China Mobile has started several projects for the next generation of mobile network technology.

Wireless internet protocol on internet service environment (WIISE), a technology designed to let mobile networks better manage their bandwidth capacity, is among the institute's key research projects. It is funded by the State.

"We do want to do more on this WIISE technology in the next two years with our proprietary intellectual property rights. We do also want to push this self-developed technology internationally," said Wang Xiaoyun, a deputy manager of the institute yesterday.

Ms Wang explained that the WIISE technology is not designed for present mobile technology but will be applicable to so-called 4G technology or technology even more advanced. "We do want to increase the network management power, which could lead to better use of our network resources," she said.
The Chinese government, in the form of its Ministry of Science and Technology, is also reported to be collaborating with its Swedish counterpart, in the form of the VINNOVA agency for innovation, in a 4G research project initially funded at nearly US$8mn. Public details of that collaboration are minimal (that is, none at this juncture).

China Mobile will host a conference jointly with the government later this year to discuss the issue of advanced technology.

The 4G mobile technology is expected to be in the market by 2010, with Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo having taken the lead in its development. The 4G systems are expected to be able to handle a wide range of data-supported rates of up to about 100 megabits per second for high mobility networks.

China Mobile would like to strengthen its network management system in the next-generation network as demand for bandwidth is increasing.
"The new mobile technology will be more compatible with the use of the internet on the move, whereas the existing 3G technologies still have some weakness with internet applications," Ms Wang said.
Some internet-based applications that occupy a lot of network capacity, such as the peer-to-peer (P2P) network, will be migrated to the mobile network in the future, she said.

As the world's largest mobile operator, China Mobile is bent on developing technology to enhance the mobile internet experience with a cost advantage.
Source: China Daily