Sunday 29 June 2008

Mobile broadband to overtake wired broadband by 2010

According to this report in Times Online, "By 2010, the mobile phone network will have overtaken home broadband as the primary way of connecting to the web, experts say".

I agree that more and more people are accessing web through their mobiles but replacing the connected web is still long way to go. There are many factors that will keep the connected web in business:

  • The mobile networks are not properly dimensioned and optimised to heavy data use
  • The networks are still not very reliable
  • The network backhaul is not good enough. Operators have been too cautious to upgrade their backhaul as it costs good money.
  • Mobile Web will never be suitable for large and medium business.
  • People who regularly watch Movies and Videos (inc. IPTV) over the net can never get desired quality over mobile (maybe for short time they can)

Things may change with the introduction of Femtocells but thats still long way away and anyway, the Femtos will use connected web to tunnel its data.

From the Times report:

Increased sales of laptops - which can be connected to the internet via the owner's mobile phone connection - the widespread roll out of high-speed mobile networks and the falling price of connecting to such networks have all contributed to the uptake of mobile broadband, they said.

One person in ten now regularly accesses the internet on a computer via a mobile phone connection, despite such services only having been on sale for less than a year, according to research released this week by You Gov. Of those, up to a third now connect their computers to the internet solely through the mobile network.

"This trend is as significant as the shift from home to mobile phones that took place in the mid Nineties," a spokesman for Top 10 Broadband, a price comparison site, said. "We predict that by 2010, mobile broadband will overtake home broadband as the default way to access the internet in the UK." A similar claim was made by Broadband Expert, another comparison site.

Mobile broadband takes advantage of high-speed 3G phone networks that can transfer data at speeds approaching those achieved by a fixed-line home internet connection. The customer plugs a small device known as a dongle into a laptop's USB port, and can then surf the web at speeds of about 1.5 megabits per second (Mbps).

Most home broadband packages advertising speeds of "up to 8Mbps" achieve speeds of 2.7Mbps, according to a study by Which? last year.

Prices have come down by 50 per cent from late last year, with a typical mobile broadband package now costing £15 a month - roughly on par with a fixed-line deal.

Via: WirelessMoves

T-Mobile USA Hotspot@Home goes National

T-Mobile's Hotspot@Home can be labelled as pre-femtocell service. Its based on UMA and needs UMA based phones for this service to work.

The following is from a report in C-net:

Subscribers will be able to connect any regular home telephone to a T-Mobile router that will send calls over the Internet much the same way as services like Vonage operate. The service costs $10 a month plus taxes and fees for unlimited domestic local and long-distance calls.

Only T-Mobile wireless customers who subscribe to at least a $39.99 individual calling plan or families subscribing to at least the $49.99 monthly T-Mobile calling plan can get the service. The @Home service also requires that users subscribe to a separate broadband service from a cable operator or telecom provider. And they are required to use a special T-Mobile router, which also provides Wi-Fi Internet access throughout the home.

This router can also be used to provide T-Mobile's HotSpot @Home phone service. This service, launched last year, allows T-Mobile subscribers to use dual-mode cellular and Wi-Fi phones that switch between both networks. When subscribers are near their home Wi-Fi hot spot, they use the broadband network to make unlimited domestic calls. And when they are outside the home, the phone seamlessly switches to T-Mobile's cellular network.

The service, which also costs $10 extra per month, serves two purposes. It helps provide better in-home cell phone coverage and also helps reduce the number of minutes used on the T-Mobile cellular network.

Via: Dailywireless

Saturday 28 June 2008

LTE and WiMax Working Together?

In my past blogs I have written about the competition between LTE and WiMax. From some of my previous blogs you might remember that I mentioned about the dirty war between LTE and WiMax. Until few months ago both LTE and WiMax camps never missed any opportunity to have go on each other. But it looks like things are changing now and may be changing for the good.

I have always believed that there is not much difference in the basics of the two technologies. Then why to have two camps which will not serve good to any body.

The issue for me is simply resources in our industry where we only have a finite number of R&D engineers and we split them into different camps, then we would be diluting what we can do in the future.
In the recent days after reading some articles and talking to some of my friends in the industry I can say that after a couple of years of verbal skirmishing and specsmanship, there are signs that the WiMax and LTE camps may be seeking a negotiated settlement.
I believe that LTE standard is an encompassing standard, an accommodating standard and there is a TDD section that I think WiMAX could fit into.

People in our industry must be knowing by now that the outgoing CEO of Vodafone group Arun Sarin has always been a supporter of WiMax. If I say that he was the one to kick start the open debate of LTE WiMax coming together then I won’t be million miles away from the fact. During the opening keynote at the last GSMA's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain the executive tossed out the suggestion that WiMAX could find a place within the LTE standard. He argued that we need about one sixth of the number of operating systems out there in the market and that we have to narrow the range of operating systems. Sarin continued by saying that that we have 30 or 40 operating systems right now, if we had three or five operating systems, then that would be a good thing.

For many players, there are compelling reasons for peace between the two camps and no doubt saving the money tops the list. A head-to-head battle over the next few years would require an outlay of multiple billions of dollars in equipment deployment. It would also be confusing for end users, and might even determine a winner and loser in a very high-stakes game.

Until recently, much has been made of the differences between the two 4G wireless-communications candidates, usually by comparing performance characteristics and ignoring architectural similarities. Sean Maloney, executive vice president at WiMax champion Intel Corp., has already hinted that the two standards should be harmonized because they are "about 80 percent similar." Maloney added that Intel is looking into ways to integrate the technologies. It is technically possible to create a chip set that could be used for both, he said. Maloney's comments might be interpreted as a response to Arun Sarin’s suggestion of the two coming together during the february’s GSMA’s mobile world congress.

While the feelers may not qualify as a love fest, they come at a time when emerging semiconductor technologies promise to make LTE-WiMax multimode operation a reality in the not-too-distant future. In that context, spending billions to deploy standard-specific networks becomes unattractive.

"The differences are more political than anything else," said Nadine Manjaro, senior analyst for wireless infrastructure at ABI Research (New York). Although Manjaro predicted the standards would merge, she also said LTE will not be a formal standard until 2009 or 2010. Thus, she said, it would be 2015 before any merger takes place.

Well time only will tell whether the early signs of this friendship between the two camps will materialize or not. I firmly believe there are more positives as compared to negative if the two camps come together. The time, money and resources saved will be immense if the two work together.

muni Wi-Fi for Beiging, China

I wrote about this topic earlier this year. Municipal WiFi's are failing in US as the cost of maintaining them can sometimes overwhelm the municipaltys. Anyway, I still think that they may serve a very useful purpose especially when IMS is available and they can be used as Access Networks.

While China is still holding back on 3G rollout, I read in China news that there will be a blanket of WiFi over the whole of Beijing. This will be in place by olympics and during olympics there will be free access for people. Here is what the news said:

Chinacomm Communications, the service provider, will implement the plan in three phases. The first phase began trial operations on June 25, and covers an area of 100 square kilometers.

The second phase is scheduled to finish in 2009 and the final phase will be completed in 2010 with the creation of a citywide wireless network, the report said.

Through the wireless access points, people with laptops, PDAs or Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones will be able to go online outdoors, the report said. However, the report didn't say how much the service will cost.

According to the plan, CECT-Chinacomm Communications will build 9,000 wireless access points in public areas and 150 WiMAX stations by the end of 2009, providing Wi-Fi services on more than 90 percent of streets in Beijing. Xuanwu District already has 15 such stations that serve the city's sanitation departments.

Future Tech Home of 2013 (after LTE of course ;)

Got this one in a mail from The Standard:

It's 2013, and you've just come home from work. As you pull into the driveway, you reach into your pocket and swipe the screen of your smartphone with your thumb. Your garage door opens and the lights in your house turn on. The TV queues up the shows you missed while you were working late. Your favorite songs are following you from the living room to the kitchen. Then you stop. The phone blinks and warbles at you. The fridge says you forgot the milk.

It's the HD/wireless/automated/streaming/sych'd/ready-to-entertain house of the future, and you're living in it.

Welcome home.

Sit back, strap on your sense of imagination, and get ready to step into the digital home of 2013. Here are ten technologies that will make our life complicated ... I mean simpler:

High-speed telecommunications: In 2013, you can forget about the cable guy running coax cable through your home or your Wi-Fi signal petering out in the master bedroom. By then, you'll have high-speed Internet access anywhere you go, regardless of whether you're chillin' on the deck out back or surfing upstairs in your pajamas. Constant access to the Internet will be provided by technologies like WiMAX and 4G.

It's an HD world: What's better than sitting on the couch in the family room while stuffing your mouth with popcorn as you watch the latest episode of Battlestar Galactica on your new 50-inch HDTV? Nothing? Well, what if you could live in a home where HD isn't found in just the living room, but all over the place? Now that is what I call living!

Gaming gets real: The digital home in 2013 will see a new breed of consoles that go beyond the Xbox 360/PS3/Wii experience. And although some say that game graphics have little room for improvement, the consoles being fired up in living rooms of the future will certainly feature titles that are far more life-like than ever imagined. As graphics approach photorealism, PC gaming could feel the greatest impact of all.

Reach out and touch something: Touching is fun. It's really fun to touch gadgets, and navigate user interfaces using your fingers. And while you're walking through your digital home in 2013, you'll be doing a lot of touching all the time.

Automated home control: The digital home in 2013 will provide residents with exciting new ways to control their houses, devices, and appliances, while saving energy. And who isn't happy about helping out ol' Mother Earth?

Green goes mainstream: The green trend is undeniable. More and more high-tech companies are becoming aware of their collective obligation to the environment. Right now, companies including Dell, Apple, and HP provide safe recycling of computers, while small manufacturers like Green Machine Shop in Michigan are promising more environmentally friendly computing gear.

Welcome to the cloud: As broadband penetration expands, the idea of accessing data storage, software, and even extra processing power is becoming more attractive. And if you play your cards right, your digital home in 2013 will not only be free from clutter, but it might be in a serious relationship with the Web.

The rise of streaming media: Although Blu-ray seems like the ultimate in futuristic home technologies right now, it will look like a dinosaur by 2013. By that time, streaming content from the Internet and from room to room will be relatively commonplace, and the idea of spinning a plastic disc to watch a movie will seem positively archaic.

Online distribution of TV, movies: In the digital home of 2013, the Internet will help you access libraries of content that go far beyond what Netflix or Wal-Mart offer in their DVD catalogs. Furthermore, on-demand Internet delivery will allow viewers to turn away from prescheduled TV programs. You'll be able to watch what you want, whenever you want.

Collaborating across town, and across the world: Collaborating via email is, well, outdated. In the future, you won't need to wait for an email with an updated file attachment, and you certainly won't need to send off documents through FedEx. Instead, you will be using services like Google Docs to share documents in real-time, and using next-generation conferencing and messaging services to collaborate. Sharing is the key to the future, and as your mother once told you, sharing is good for you.

You can get all the details by following this link.

And by the way, if you want to find out how the world will look in 2032, see this earlier blog.

Sunday 22 June 2008

New Fad: "SMS with Attachments"

The press release said: New ''SMS with Attachments'' Service Used by 18 Million Mobile Subscribers in China. SMS with atthments? Isnt this what MMS stands for. Maybe people are reluctant to try new Mobile Applications. Anyway, here is the press release summary:

First you get the text message. And then the phone rings, playing back a multimedia joke message sent by one of your friends. It's funny enough that you want to share it with others. It's called SMS (text) messaging with attachments, and it is the latest revenue-generating service built using Open Access(TM) media processing boards from telecommunications services platform provider NMS Communications. The SMS with attachments service, developed by value-added service provider ChannelSoft, is available to nearly 96 million China Unicom and China Mobile subscribers, and has already been adopted by more than 18 million subscribers to date.

SMS with attachments allows users to send external multimedia content to friends and family. Callers can subscribe to the service and select attachments such as music, ringback tones, jokes, other audio files and other forms of entertainment that they want to share with friends. The operator will then send the SMS message with the attachment to the recipient, who could then forward the message to other friends. ChannelSoft expects the service to continue to grow, increasing average revenue per user (ARPU), with estimates topping $44 million for 2008.

"While text messaging still enjoys the lion's share of mobile messaging revenues, operators are expanding their menus to give subscribers more options that will, in turn, drive revenues," said Jamie Warter, vice president of marketing at NMS Communications. "SMS with attachments is another great example of a creative service developed by an innovative company like ChannelSoft using NMS Open Access media processing boards."

Now you may soon hear about Phone Call with Picture (a.k.a. Video calling ;)

Saturday 21 June 2008

Life has become busy

Couple of days back Ravi sent me a mail asking why I have not been blogging regularly recently and have in fact received many queries on my 3G4G website as to when I would be updating it.

There is no simple answer to these questions as at present I am extremely busy and finding it very difficult to update the site. This was the main reason I started blogging as its far less time consuming then the website. As for now, I cant see getting some good time slot till the year end to do both these tasks so please bear with me.

Kyocera's iBurst-Based Technology Approved as New Standard for IEEE 802.20

17/06/08: Kyocera Corporation announced that Kyocera’s iBurst-based technology proposal (625k-MC mode) was approved as a new standard for IEEE 802.20 by the IEEE Standards Association at its headquarters, Piscataway, New Jersey, USA on June 12, 2008.

“Having been a draft standard since January 2006, Kyocera is gratified that iBurst has finally been approved as an 802.20 standard by the IEEE Standards Association,” said Mr. Masashi Yano, General Manager of the Corporate Communication System Equipment Division, Kyocera Corporation. “With this industry standard approval, we are expecting to expand the iBurst service area to more and more countries.”

Kyocera’s iBurst, or HC-SDMA, is a mobile broadband wireless access (MBWA) system that has been commercially rolled out in more than 10 countries and has been approved as a standard by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector ( ITU-R). iBurst has remarkably high capacity, essential for mobile broadband wireless access services, and distributes its high data rates to many mobile PC users. This is enabled by field-proven Adaptive Array Antenna (AAA) and Spatial Division Multiple Access (SDMA) technologies.

iBurst operators worldwide have formed the iBurst Association (iBA), a not-for-profit organization advocating the promotion and development of iBurst technology as a preferred MBWA solution.

IEEE 802.20 is also known as MobileFi and I have written a blog on it earlier this year.

MobileFi is more of a compitetor to WiMAX as compared to the 3G+ technologies.

WiMAX is targeted for mobile users moving at speeds of up to 60 mph inside a WiMAX region (laptop users moving across a corporate campus, for example). But 802.20 is focused more on highspeed mobile users traveling acrossan extended metropolitan area at speeds of up to 150 mph (a salesman traveling across a city or an executive traveling between nearby cities on a high-speed train, for example). WiMAX/802.16e also differs from 802.20 in that it supports substantially higher data rates (up to 71 Mbps) than 802.20 (up to 1 Mbps). Another thing is that the cell radius with 802.20 is 15km while with WiMAX is 50km.

Why iBurst? The maain Features of iBurst are:

1. High data rate: iBurst supports Data Rate of 1.061Mbps downlink/ 346Kbps uplink with System capacity 24.4Mbps downlink/ 7.9 Mbps uplink.

2. High Spectral Efficiency: iBurst supports more customers per base station. In 5 MHz Spectrum, 50X over-subscription as compared to 3G system

3. Wide Area coverage: Maximum coverage of iBurst is 12.75km. iBurst uses lower frequency, which is good for non-line-ofsight indoor penetration.

4. Mobility: iBurst supports Mobility of over 100km/h. iBurst also supports Handover between base stations.

5. Easy access to IP network: iBurst is packet based technology

6. VoIP compatibility: QoS is implemented to assure wireless VoIP quality. iBurst has achieved fixed phone level voice quality.


WiMax and LTE backwards compatibility

Most of you must be hearing on daily basis about the race for 4G and who will reach there first and will claim the victory for the 4G post.

The competition between WiMax and LTE is really blossoming and both the camps never miss any opportunity to find a hole or negative in other. One of the major point of conflict in recent days between the two camps (WiMax and LTE) is the backwards compatibly of the two technologies.
WiMax based on the 802.16 standard could push data transfer speeds up to 1 Gbit/s while maintaining backwards compatibility with existing WiMax radios. Vendor sources, however, have expressed some scepticism about the speed with which the work can be completed (the end of 2009 is being mooted as a baked date) and the chances of maintaining backwards compatibility with mobile 802.16 technology.

What's really provoking the disbelieving chuckles are the requirement for backwards capability between current and future 802.16e offerings and the planned advanced air interface. Such disbelief is not that surprising when you think back to the recent interoperability issues between 802.16d and 802.16e

Around the same time that LTE rolls out, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.16m, or WiMAX 2.0, will make its way into products, analysts said. But there is not doubt in one thing though that WiMax is ahead of LTE in terms of technology as of today. Service providers with the right spectrum, available capital and access to enough sites to place base stations are in great position to take advantage of WiMAX's head start on the 4G market. Backwards compatibility is one area where WiMax heads towards a grey area whereas LTE at the same time is supposed to be very much backwards compatible. The network architecture for LTE/SAE already shows interface defined for the handover between LTE and 3G. The debate between WiMAX and LTE has become dirty when it comes to the issue of backwards compatibility.
Speaking exclusively to WiMaxVision from the WiMax Forum's member conference in Hawaii, Siavash Alamouti, CTO of Intel's Mobile Wireless Group, takes issue with a key claim made by proponents of LTE. Alamouti's argued and puts a very big question mark on LTE’s backwards compatibility claims.
Word is already out in the industry that although they welcome 'healthy' technology competition to mobile WiMAX in the so-called '4G'space, a number of misconceptions have been promulgated by some vendors, and even some analysts, about main rival LTE. Some peoples biggest gripe is LTE being perceived in some quarters as backwards compatible with 3GPP standards, from WCDMA through to HSPA+.

One of the reasons why many of the mobile giants decided to be in LTE camp is because of its claims for the backwards compatibility. But a doubt has started creeping in and some industry sources even says that they see no genuine evolution in LTE as LTE requires an entirely new RAN and system architecture to 3G, in much the same way as mobile WiMAX does.
To make an LTE device backwards compatible, you would have to add 3G modules to that device but you could do that with mobile WiMAX or in fact any other technology argues Siavash Alamouti of Intel.

My above claim is supported when I heard that Qualcomm announced in February it was expanding its device and base station chipsets to include LTE along with UMTS and CDMA2000. The chipsets will allow backward compatibility to legacy UMTS and CDMA2000 networks for carriers that deploy LTE. The new family of Qualcomm MDM9xxx-series LTE device chipsets will include:
MDM9200™ chipset designed to support UMTS, HSPA+ and LTE
MDM9800™ chipset designed to support EV-DO Rev. B, UMB and LTE
MDM9600™ chipset designed to support UMTS, HSPA+, EV-DO Rev. B, UMB and LTE

LTE, however, has made standardisation progress with the announcement by 3GPP last month that some RAN specifications have been frozen and are now under change control, but there is still some work to be done before the 3GPP Release 8 specification for LTE is finalised, probably by the end of the year.

Where WiMAX is today in 2008 I think LTE will be in late 2010 and early 2011, which is early stages, ready to deploy, but the equipment not necessarily completely interoperable. As for WiMax I expect we'll see embedded mobile WiMAX laptops coming onto the market between April and June this year.

Tuesday 17 June 2008

Flatter Architecture from Nokia-Siemens Network

From Unstrung:

In its bid to overtake Ericsson AB and become the world’s top radio access infrastructure supplier in terms of revenue, Nokia Siemens Networks believes its approach to all-IP flat architecture on 3G networks will give it an edge. Nokia Siemens says operators do not have to wait for LTE, to get the benefits of an all-IP architecture, and it is the only vendor that currently champions a flat 3G radio access network (RAN) approach.

As mobile data traffic continues to surge, operators are considering how to adopt flat, all-IP architectures in their 3G networks before the advent of 4G in order to gain lower latency, lower cost per bit, support for multiple access networks, and preparation for next-generation networks. But there are different ways to implement such architectures, and just how operators arrive at a flatter data network architecture is hotly debated.

Nokia Siemens has put its money on a flat RAN approach for high-speed packet access (HSPA) and the coming HSPA+ standard, in addition to its support for the Direct Tunnel architecture.
In a flat RAN architecture, the radio network controller (RNC) is integrated into the Node B so that the base station communicates directly with the Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN).
But there are as many benefits as drawbacks to flat 3G RANs, which makes it a controversial approach, according to the recent Heavy Reading report, "Flat IP Architectures in Mobile Networks: From 3G to LTE."

With flat RANs, some of the benefits include lower latency for data applications, lower operational costs due to fewer nodes to maintain and manage, augmented data capacity through a data network overlay, and good preparation for so-called 4G LTE/SAE (System Architecture Evolution), which uses a similar functional architecture. Also, costs won’t grow in line with data traffic growth, because operators won’t have to deploy extra RNC and SGSN capacity as traffic increases.

It may be challenging to integrate the RNC into a Node B. RNCs are critical to supporting macro-diversity in mobile networks, which enables mobile handsets to communicate with multiple base stations on the uplink and allows operators to deploy fewer base stations. NSN’s flat RAN architecture supports this feature, but in an unorthodox way, according to the Heavy Reading report.

So far, Nokia Siemens has three customers using its Internet HSPA (I-HSPA) flat RAN solution: Stelera Wireless and TerreStar Neworks in the U.S. and T-2 in Slovenia. And Mobilkom Austria AG & Co. KG recently trialed the solution.

Nokia Siemens’ Rouanne explains that flat 3G RANs aren’t necessary when there is just “medium” data traffic, but are best suited when operators have big data traffic volumes. “Those networks that are starting to be under pressure with traffic are coming to us and wanting to direct traffic directly to the Internet,” he says.

Even though Nokia Siemens is the only vocal supporter of flat 3G RANs right now, Brown says the strategy isn’t risky, but it’s “forward-looking.”

And a flat 3G RAN can set up an operator to be ready for the shift to LTE with its inherent flat architecture.

According to an old Ericsson presentation, ”Direct Tunnel” support added for 3G payload optimization has the following advantages:
  • Cost efficient scaling for Mobile Broadband deployments
  • Increased flexibility in terms of network topology
  • Allows the SGSN node to be optimized for control plane
  • Specifications part of 3GPP rel-7
  • Designed for operation in legacy (GGSN/UTRAN) networks
  • First step towards the SAE architecture
According to heavy reading article:
To efficiently deliver mobile broadband services, operators require a network infrastructure that simultaneously provides lower costs, lower latency, and greater flexibility. The key to achieving this goal is the adoption of flat, all-IP network architectures. With the shift to flat IP architectures, mobile operators can:
  • Reduce the number of network elements in the data path to lower operations costs and capital expenditure
  • Partially decouple the cost of delivering service from the volume of data transmitted to align infrastructure capabilities with emerging application requirements
  • Minimize system latency and enable applications with a lower tolerance for delay; upcoming latency enhancements on the radio link can also be fully realized
  • Evolve radio access and packet core networks independently of each other to a greater extent than in the past, creating greater flexibility in network planning and deployment
  • Develop a flexible core network that can serve as the basis for service innovation across both mobile and generic IP access networks
  • Create a platform that will enable mobile broadband operators to be competitive, from a price/performance perspective, with wired networks
Note: Diagrams above shamelessly copied from Ericsson's presentation.