Saturday, 22 March 2008

Healthcare using BWA (Broadband Wireless Access)

Came across this paper entitiled "IEEE 802.16/WiMAX-based broadband wireless access and its application for telemedicine/e-health services". While it is common sense that any prehospital diagnosis and monitoring can be very helpful it is important to make sure that the information is updated properly and with correct QoS.

Ambulances and other medical emergency vehicles travel at extremely high speeds. This would require that the technology in place is able to handover between different cells and keeps the equipment connected to the server. The nurse should concentrate on the patient rather than worry about the link being maintained electronically. This also necessitates a quaranteed QoS being maintained for this setup to work effectively. The figure above shows the QoS that is required in different situations.

In the above mentioned paper, the authors argue that WiMAX/802.16 networks can be engineered for telemedecine/e-health services. The main focus should be on Radio Resource allocation and admission control policy. Other important thing is to remember while implementing to use TCP for loss sensitive data and UDP for delay sensitive (but loss in-sensitive) applications.
I am sure the healthcare industry is already looking in these kinds of options and its just matter of time before we will hear about some new related application.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Japanese (and Koreans) only want 3G+

According to this news on Yahoo, Japanese stores took delivery of no second-generation mobile telephones in January for the first time since their launch as shipments of advanced handsets soared, an industry group said Tuesday.

Japan and South Korea are at the forefront of third-generation (3G) phones, which offer high-speed Internet access and other interactive features and have not even entered the market in many developing nations.

Manufacturers sent 4.08 million cellphones to Japanese stores in January, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association said.

"For the first time, the number of second-generation models was zero," it said.
Japan becomes the second country to be virtually finished with second-generation following South Korea, according to Nomura Research.

Japanese stores continue to offer a small number of second-generation phones, but it is almost impossible for new users to start fresh subscriptions.

At the end of February, nearly 85 percent of Japanese mobile users were carrying third-generation or equivalent phones. Japan's top-ranked NTT DoCoMo Inc. in 2001 became the world's first company to offer 3G.

Despite the success in Japan and South Korea, 3G has caught on more slowly in other countries amid questions over whether customers will pay much steeper prices for features they could find on their home computer.

Third-generation or advanced second-generation accounts for about 50 percent of North American cellphones and 10 percent of Western European mobiles, according to industry surveys.

In Japan, mobile operators have increasingly written off second-generation phones as a source of profit and have been developing more advanced features to woo customers.
More than 60 percent of the phones delivered by manufacturers in January are equipped for digital television broadcasts.

Japan began digital broadcasts in 2006 that allow mobile phone users to watch several hours of interrupted television on their phones without recharging the battery.
"It's the third straight month that such phones make up more than half of the mobile phones," the industry association said.

Some 20 million Japanese now have phones to watch digital broadcasts, which major networks offer for free.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

muni Wi-Fi: What an amazing concept

There is this anazing concept of public Broadband (also known as municipal WiFi or muni WiFi). The local council or municipalty installs WiFi across a big area, town or city and this is an unprotected network open to public.

U.S. is pioneer of this concept and they have been planning or rolling it out across many cities. Have a look at this Top 10 Municipal WiFi Plans from Businessweek for more info.

ABI Research forecasts that the total global area covered by municipal Wi-Fi will expand nearly sixty-fold from 520 square miles in 2004 to 30,000 square miles in 2012.

The analyst firm said that the US leads in municipal Wi-Fi deployments, but that Canada, Japan, South Korea and Western Europe are rapidly expanding municipal Wi-Fi infrastructure and applications.

Varying levels of maturity and acceptance exist within the market, spread across global regions and individual countries.

ABI believes that the US employs the wrong business plan of free consumer access and free infrastructure, and that incumbent service providers view municipal Wi-Fi as a competitive threat.

In Europe, mobile-oriented rather than PC-oriented incumbents initially resisted municipal Wi-Fi but now recognise in-building limitations.
Stan Schatt, vice president and research director at ABI Research, highlighted key financial benefits that should be included in the municipal Wi-Fi business case.

"Wireless surveillance systems, for example, will provide financial returns by helping prevent possible terrorist attacks, decreasing overall crime, improving traffic flow, and even boosting tourism by creating stable communities," he said.

Once the technology, business and cost issues are resolved, however, Schatt predicts that nations will benefit from this simple and low-cost broadband internet access technology, consequently broadening the range of networked services.

Ofcourse not everyone is happy and everyone has their own opinion on how it should run.

There is also ad powered WiFi hotspots springing up in different places which will provide higher speeds than compared to this muni Wi-Fi but you will have to click on some ad every hour or two and once WiMAX is commonly available this muni Wi-Fi thing may seem like an expensive experiment because with WiFi there needs to be a router or repeater every few hundred metres which takes effort to install and maintain and is expensive peice of equipment. Lets see what happens.

Monday, 17 March 2008

MXtv or MAXtv

NextWave MXtv(TM) is a breakthrough mobile multicast and broadcast technology that enables WiMAX operators to deliver a broad range of rich and personalized multimedia services including mobile TV, interactive media services, and digital audio for a more compelling subscriber experience. An innovative broadcast solution, NextWave MXtv does not require any additional spectrum and uses existing radio access network equipment providing operators with an entirely new business model to increase revenues and achieve profitability. With MXtv, WiMAX wireless operators can effectively manage their valuable spectrum resources by dynamically balancing bandwidth allocated to broadcast services with on demand services.

So we now have Mobile TV over WiMAX which i personally think is quite good. Unfortunately the Mobile TV services havent caught up with general public yet but the operators have themself to blame quite a bit for this. The pricing is not friendly and then a lot of times, the content is not very friendly. The online portal designers dont understand how to categorise the content so someone doesnt have to browse for 5 minutes to reach their favourite item.

Anyway, this Mobile TV thing is a really good option along with MBMS, TDtv, DVB-H, T-DMB, MediaFLO, etc., etc.

NextWave Wireless Inc. has signed a strategic deal with Alcatel-Lucent over the WiMAX-based mobile TV platform it announced earlier this week.

The agreement calls for Alcatel-Lucent to integrate NextWave's MXtv technology into its WiMAX portfolio, based on the 802.16e-2005 (Rev-e) standard.

The companies also plan to perform a series of interoperability tests with Alcatel-Lucent's commercial WiMAX infrastructure starting in the second quarter of this year.

In a separate deal, Chinese communications gear supplier Huawei also said this week it would integrate the MXtv technology into its own WiMAX networking kit.

The MXtv technology has also been integrated into NextWave's low-power, Wave 2 compliant NW2000 series WiMAX subscriber device SoC. The device is currently being integrated into a wide range of devices with some device availability planned for second half of 2008.

The technology is based on the TDtv mobile TV platform NextWave (San Diego, Calif.) gained access to through the acquisition last year of UMTS-TDD kit supplier IP Wireless (Chippenham, England).

NextWave says its latest broadcast technology will allow WiMAX operators to deliver rich and personalized multimedia services including mobile TV, interactive media, and digital audio. NextWave said that macro-diversity technology is used to improve the broadcast performance over the WiMAX channel.

The offering promises 30fps QVGA and WQVGA content and up to 45 high quality mobile TV channels in 10MHz with channel switching times below two seconds.

Network operators can also dynamically allocate spectrum based on content availability, time of day requirements, user demand, and the availability of live events such as sports, concerts, interactive reality shows or emergency broadcasts.

"User demand for mobile broadcast services is rapidly expanding and we believe that the exciting new applications offered through this alliance will provide mobile operators a unique ability to deliver the key differentiating feature of 4G networks," said Allen Salmasi, CEO of NextWave Wireless.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

On OFDMA ...

Last year I wrote a blog on the difference between OFDM and OFDMA. Lots of people found it useful.

With OFDM/OFDMA being discussed everywhere, I thought of linking an article which would give everyone quick info on these technologies. This article from Network Systems Designline titled "Understanding OFDMA, the interface for 4G wireless" is split into two parts:

Let me know if you found these of use.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Nokia Morph Concept Phone

This Nokia Morph Concept phone looks quite cool.

Launched alongside The Museum of Modern Art “Design and The Elastic Mind” exhibition, the Morph concept device is a bridge between highly advanced technologies and their potential benefits to end-users.

The first thing is to actually check this Demo at Nokia site which will give you a very good idea of this.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

IPv6! One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind

3G Americas has published a whitepaper urging wireless service providers to start making a transition plan asap.

Anyone who has studied TCP/IP in their studies would know the basic problem with IPv4 is that the address is only 32 bits long and this allows a theoretical maximum of 2^32 addresses. Ofcourse practically the number would be far less because some of the address are either reserved or wasted due to the way the networks are designed (Subnets, etc).

To overcome this sometime in the beginning of 1990's IPv6 was formulated with 128 bit address. This would mean unique IP address to every street lamp is possible without us worrying about depletion of the addresses. Ofcourse the human nature is such that they dont change their behaviour untill forced to and this is the same reason IPv6 is not been used popularly.

When 3G was being standardised one of the main goals was also to use IPv6 exclusively but then everyone chickened out citing various problems and continuity of services.

Anyway, this new 3G Americas paper has laid down a plan and possible pitfalls that would be encountered when transitioning to IPv6. The following is a self explanatory summary for the report:

To transition to IPv6 or not? A critical question for many service providers is when to transition to IPv6. As pointed out earlier, IPv6 has several benefits which will result in a simpler, more powerful and more efficient network. The sooner a service provider achieves these benefits, the sooner it will be at a competitive advantage compared to service providers who delay transition. The risks of delaying the transition are the following:

 Managing a dwindling IPv4 address space will become increasingly expensive. Address
allocation requires careful planning; previously assigned address blocks may need to be
recovered, which is a complex process; and the management of additional devices such as
Network Address Translation (NAT) devices add to the cost.

 The service provider that delays transition to IPv6 may not be able to deliver the same
services as service providers that have made the transition to IPv6. The ability to support
always-on and peer-to-peer services is impaired when traffic has to traverse NAT devices.
For example, always-on services require that a user is always reachable and therefore
cannot share a pool of public addresses with other devices. This can be mitigated through
address and port translation, but also that has its limitations.

 At some point, a service provider who has not made the transition to IPv6 may become
unattractive as a roaming partner to service providers who have made the transition. The
same may be true in retail/wholesale relationships.

On the other hand, transitioning to IPv6 at an early stage also has certain risks. The transitioning process is complex. It requires a significant investment in planning and training. During the transition period, the service provider must run both IPv4 and IPv6 systems concurrently, which leads to an increase in operational expenses. Furthermore, there is a risk of service interruption, customer dissatisfaction and penalties. All service providers will need to go through this, but an early adopter may run into problems which later adopters could avoid.

In the end, we believe that service providers don’t have the option to delay IPv6 introduction. The exhaustion of IPv4 addresses will force a transition to IPv6, and as pointed out earlier, address exhaustion may become a reality within the next five years. From that point on, service providers will face an increase in operations cost, if not because of introduction of IPv6, then due to the complexity of running an IPv4-only network with a diminishing pool of addresses.

With careful planning, the risk of early adoption can be mitigated significantly.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Parlay, OSA, etc

Parlay (as opposed to Parley in 'Pirates of the Carribean') integrates telecom network capabilities with IT applications via a secure, measured, and billable interface. Parlay's open application programming interfaces (APIs) release developers from having to write code for specific networks and environments, reducing risks and costs, and allowing for innovative new services to be delivered via the telco network-operator channel. Enabled by Parlay's network-independent APIs, applications are generating new revenue streams for network operators, application service providers (ASPs), and independent software vendors (ISVs).

Today, where each service interacts individually with different network elements, ParlayAPIs can be useful.
These APIs will allow you to access same services regardless of whether you are using a Mobile phone or a fixed line phone or a PC thereby creating a Virtual Home Environment (VHE).

Many different organisations are part of the Parley group including 3GPP, ETSI, OMA, ITU to name a few.

Finally if you find this interesting then you may want to read "Parlay/OSA: From Standards to Reality".


If you have any further pointers explaining relationships between Parlay, OSA, SOA, JAIN, CORBA, TINA-C, IMS, NGN, VHE, etc. Please post a comment and let us know.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

UMTS in 900MHz is finally seing light

ARCEP announced yesterday that it has authorised Orange France and SFR to deploy UMTS technology in France in the 900MHz band. ARCEP also proposed that Bouygues Telecom should reuse the 900MHz band for 3G. According to the regulator, the mobile operator said that it would deploy UMTS in the 900MHz band by the end of 2009 and that it would request modification of its authorisation when it is necessary.

UK regulator Ofcom has already opened a consultation on the future of the 900MHz band, currently allocated to Vodafone and O2 for their 2G services, and has suggested that a technology-neutral auction might be in order for 2009.

So, why should we be happy with 900MHz UMTS as opposed to 2100MHz UMTS:
  • The increased frequency reduces cell range, resulting in a more costly network rollout and makes achieving GSM like coverage (>90% population) very challenging. Additionally, with the rapid roll-out of HSDPA (an evolution bringing broadband like speed to UMTS) and its less robust, higher-order modulation scheme (16QAM), building penetration from macro deployments becomes an issue.
  • W-CDMA (UMTS) in the 900MHz band achieves a 60 per cent reduction in the number of cell sites required to serve rural areas, and can deliver improved quality of service in urban areas by enhancing in-building penetration by 25 per cent.
  • 900MHz is a good frequency for building penetration and decent range, and is used in rural areas where the small-cell-site advantage of 1800MHz is less applicable.
  • Signal coverage of 2 – 4 times the coverage in the 2100MHz band, resulting in a reduced number of base stations required
  • Improved indoor coverage in urban areas. A 2006 study showed a 25% improvement in in-building penetration
  • Added potential for re-use of existing GSM base stations, antenna systems and feeders if deployed within existing GSM sites
  • Lower power consumption, since the RF power amplifier (one of the largest electricity consumption item in a Node B) efficiency is much improved

Monday, 3 March 2008

How to sell report using the numbers game

Came across this press release by Research and Markets with title, "4Q07 Global 3G/4G Deployments & Subscribers Tracker ". In this it seems that they have indicated LTE as 4G. LTE standards has not yet been finalised and the technology is not in operation anywhere but this makes the report sound better. Good way of sexing up the report ;)

By the way, if you want to know the bottomline:

3G/4G subscribers (i.e., those subscribers to WCDMA/HSPA, EV-DO, TD-SCDMA, Mobile WiMAX, and LTE networks) grew 91% over the course of 2007, and we expect a 63% growth rate over the course of 2008, with subscribers expected to rise from 230 million in 2007, to 375 million in 2008.