Saturday, 13 September 2008

Next Generation All-IP Telecom Networks: Quality of Service Challenges and Is...

There is an Interesting tutorial on Next generation All IP Networks from Google on Youtube. Unfortunately they have not allowed sharing of that but you can see that on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FC4E946i6aE

Friday, 12 September 2008

eHRPD: Stopgap between EV-DO and LTE

Interesting article from TMCnet.

As LTE is picking up steam, more and more operators opting for this technology. It is but natural that some CDMA2000 operators would like to joing the camp as well. Since there is no clear evolution path available from CDMA2000 to LTE, a soft option is required so that there is no immediate need to change the complete infrastructure and in case of any problems suffer.

The transition for CDMA operators from High Rate Packet Data (HRPD) to LTE will be over a period of several years, as is the case still with the transition from 1xRTT to HRPD. As a result, mobile operators must look for a migration path that will enhance their existing HRPD networks, while addressing LTE deployment requirements and will not require a ‘forklift’ upgrade.

The choice of migration path depends on many factors including radio access strategy, network resource strategy, services enabled, timing and cost. A key goal of LTE is to enhance service provisioning while simplifying interworking with non-3GPP mobile networks. This is essential for CDMA operators that have chosen to migrate to LTE.

Evolved HRPD is a method that allows the mobile operator to upgrade their existing HRPD packet core network using elements of the SAE/EPC architecture. Additionally, eHRPD is a more evolutionary path to LTE while also allowing for seamless service mobility — including seamless hand-offs — between the eHRPD and LTE networks.


One of the main advantages of eHRPD is the ability to provide seamless service mobility between HRPD and LTE access networks with a single mobility management protocol. Moreover, with eHRPD, the operator can leverage the benefit of optimized handover – no dropped sessions and reduced handover latency — between LTE and eHRPD. The benefit of seamless and optimized mobility for data is highly dependant on the mobile operator business model for adding new services. As new applications emerge, the requirement for seamless service mobility becomes greater. Since SAE is an all-IP network infrastructure, the network will quickly move to mobile VoIP for voice. Moreover, with the introduction of eHRPD, the operator can leverage the benefit of optimized intra eHRPD handover when the user crosses the HSGW boundaries. This capability does not exist in current HRPD systems.

You can read the complete article here.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Japan to trial its own 4G Technology

While we were focussing on the battle between LTE and WiMAX having already forgotten about UMB, Japan has been working on its Next G of PHS called the XGP.


The news came to light in ITU Telecom Asia, which concluded recently.


PHS was popular in Japan earlier on because it was very cheap and easy to deploy in the old days when other technologies were expensive. The main drawback it has is that it is not easy to perform handovers so the calls may drop while in the subway.

PHS operator WillCom has won, one of the spectrum block in 2.5GHz band and is going to start trials next April in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka and offer 20Mbps of symmetrical data speeds using a 10MHz spectrum block. A full commercial service is scheduled for August 2009.
The service will be known as WILLCOM CORE (Communication Of Revolution and Evolution)
The technology behind is based on the PHS architecture of numerous microcells offering limited coverage, but will incorporate a new air radio interface based on OFDMA/TDMA/TDD methodologies. Kyocera and UTStarcom will manufacture the radio access equipment for XGP while NEC Infrontia and NetIndex are developing the data card modules for the service. Canada’s Wavesat and Israel’s Altair is supplying the baseband chips for XGP. Like LTE and WiMAX, XGP will support viable spectrum blocks.

But while LTE and WiMAX are based on increments of 1.6MHz for its carrier size, XGP has aligned itself with CDMA and supports increments of 1.25MHz carriers.

With a basic 10MHz carrier system, XGP will offer data speeds of 20Mbps, but future systems incorporating MIMO and SDMA (space division multiple access) will be capable of supporting maximum symmetrical data speeds of 100Mbps. At the same time, the technical description for XGP will support handoffs between base stations for users travelling at up to 300 km/h.

A good presentation from Willcom on XGP is available here.

PHS = Personal Handyphone System

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Which is the year of Femtocell: 2009, 2010 or 2011?

In the beginning of the year, I listed the technologies that would be successful in 2008. According to that 2008 was setting the stage for Femtocells and 2009 will be the year when it would be rolled out mass market. According to this report from Heavy Reading (via Unstrung), this is not going to happen.

Most operators do not plan to roll out commercial femtocell services until late 2009 and 2010

The "Femtocell Deployment and Market Perception Study" reveals that early 2010 will be the critical period for commercial trials of the tiny home base stations as operators prepare for full launches later that year or in 2011. This does not necessarily mean that mass market deployments will start in 2010, but rather early commercial activity will ramp up at this time.

Among the 111 responses from the 79 operators surveyed, 54 percent said that they planned to launch services between the second half of 2009 and the end of 2010, and 33 percent said their commercial femtocell launches were scheduled for 2011 or later.

This may dismay quite a few people in the Femtocell market as they have been expecting things to happen sooner rather than later. Lack of standards and interference have been cited as the main reason for delay but I think that both these issues are not critical for delaying the deployment. One of the other less well known reasons is the doubt of it succeeding and lack of demonstrable Femtozone applications that may be used to bill Femtocell as a must have gadget.

According to the same report: the operators surveyed also ranked their perceptions of femtocell equipment suppliers. Alcatel-Lucent got top marks among the large vendors, while ip.access Ltd. was the highest ranked among the smaller femto vendors.

I have seen and used atleast one of the Femtocell and what an amazing thing it is!

I am also in process of studying the areas where Femtocells are going to face practical problems when they are rolled out. Any input on this is welcome.

Monday, 8 September 2008

India to finally unrestrict VoIP

Even though India supplies the world with software and IT engineers, till now it was not possible for people living there to fully use VoIP facility. It was illegal to call any phone using the computer. This is about to change at the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has proposed that people be allowed to make calls using internet to fixed lines.

What does it mean for the people? Well, the price of domestic long distance calls is supposed to halve to less than a penny (just over a cent) and international calls are supposed to get cheaper by 20%. It would also become cheaper for people to call India from abroad. Already in UK, Vodafone is allowing people to call India from a Pay as you talk phone for just 5 p per min.

This may also help the Indian call centres as right now, the onshore companies have to pay termination charges when the calls get routed to India. This would mean that Indian call centres may become cheaper and more competetive.


Now for the small print; only the ISP's will be permitted to compete with the telephone companies using this VoIP. The fixed line and the mobile operators are up in arms about this because the ISPs are going to get free money whereas the mobile operators had to pay license fees for entry into the market.

This may not be a big problem for the time being as at the moment India only has around 5 million broadband subscribers whereas there are 287 million mobile subscribers and around 40 million fixed line subscribers. Also, the call rates are so cheap that additional investment in a PC and broadband connection (which is comparatively expensive) may not be lucrative.

If the recommendations by TRAI are accepted, there will surely be a VoIP revolution in India. The existing fixed line and mobile operators will have to come up with some challenging billing models to survive in future.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

WiMax feeling the heat, Is It slowing Down?

Ever since we started talking about LTE, WiMax was always discussed alongside LTE. Every whitepaper or article I read on LTE it has always been mentioned that WiMax in the major competitor and the one of the main motivation behind LTE.

LTE camp together with 3GPP is trying really hard to catch up with WiMax and if possible supersede it.

There is no doubt that WiMax was and is still far ahead of LTE in terms of technology. For years, WiMax has been held up as something of a panacea, a technology that would finally deliver ubiquitous and cheap wireless broadband, especially in emerging markets. WiMax camp had a great opportunity to commercialize the technology and claim it to be the technology for 4G. But in my view it’s taken so long to get off the ground that it’s in danger of being superseded specially by LTE.

I personally think that WiMax is one of the most hyped technologies in history. Please let me know if you disagree with my opinion. Every emerging technology always has some motivation and objectives behind it. WiMax is no different and one of the main objectives of WiMax was to provide consumers an excellent wireless service at a lower cost. The computer and telecommunications industries have long seen WiMax, a so-called fourth-generation (4G) wireless technology as a way of driving down telecom costs and bridging the digital divide in the poorer parts of the world.

As I mentioned above, for some reason I don’t see that WiMax camp has taken the opportunity to take the technology to its high. As cellular operators continue to ramp up their investment in 3G, the outlook for WiMax seems to be getting murkier. And the next generation of cellular technology, known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), is set to arrive in couple of year’s time, with broadband speeds many times higher than is possible on copper-based digital subscriber lines.
People might be mistaken when they think that LTE is still some time away which gives an upper edge to WiMax. This might give an indication that by the time LTE will be launched WiMax will be well developed and commercialized technology. But in this mean time mobile operators are upgrading their networks with HSPA technology which is also a good bet in terms of high speed.

Mobile operators MTN and Vodacom are already deploying 3G-based High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) networks capable of theoretical download of up to 7,2Mbit/s (nearly twice as fast as Telkom’s fastest broadband product). That is set to double again, to 14,4Mbit/s, in the next 12 months. And the 3G roadmap is promising speeds a few years from now of up to 42Mbit/s.
HSPA subscribers have grown from 11 million in August 2007 to 50 million today. HSPA subscribers are growing at a very faster rate connections per month. There are already estimated 191 commercial HSPA networks in the world and more than 740 HSPA devices.

Qualcomm has already claimed that it has placed an HSPA+ Release 7 data call at a transfer rate of more than 20 Mbps in a 5-megahertz channel.

Such a capability of telecomm giants achieving high speed would allow operators to double the data and triple the voice capacity of their networks once HSPA+ is installed. These figures are very encouraging for the industry and hence taken as a stepping stone by the operators towards commercial deployment of HSPA+ which is late this year or early next year.

These developments are definitely not very good news for WiMax and hence pushed the technology further behind. People are questioning that if we can achieve such a high data rates with HSPA+ and with LTE is round the corner then why favour WiMax, especially when WiMax seems to have more restrictions in mobility as compared to HSPA+ or LTE.

LTE, which is still some years from commercial deployment (analysts say it should start taking off in 2011 or 2012), will ultimately offer speeds of 300Mbit/s or more. If we consider all the above developments for HSPA+ and LTE don’t you think that WiMax is a little too late or is lagging behind to be a serious challenger to LTE on the mobile side?

Mobile operators invest huge amount of money when it comes to deployment of new wireless technology. People might still remember how billions were spend to gain 3G licenses. This leaves no doubt in my mind that mobile operators will influence strongly when it comes to considering the 4G technology.

WiMax camp might be optimistic as the no of subscribers is growing although at a slower rate, but it’s in 3G and later in LTE where the real action is likely to be. 3G and its related technology i.e. HSPA etc is sweeping rest of the world after already establishing itself in Europe and America. There are already commercial 3G HSPA networks in many African countries which include SA, Namibia, Angola, Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco and Egypt. Libya and Mozambique will follow soon.

Even Telkom has said it has plans to build a 3G HSPA network, a startling development given that fixed-line operators have typically preferred to look at WiMax for their wireless strategies. Telkom has a limited WiMax network.

A recent BMI-T research report, written by telecom consultant Martyn Roetter, has cast serious doubts on WiMax’s potential. Roetter says cellular rivals enjoy a considerable head start, especially in mobile broadband, and it will be difficult for WiMax operators to catch up.

What I see from the WiMax growth trends is that WiMax is doing well where 3G is still a distant technology. The chances of WiMax obtaining significant market share are greatest in countries that have not yet seen the widespread roll-out of 3G cellular technologies. But even then, it has a hope only where telecom regulators have moved quickly to allocate radio frequency spectrum.

Spectrum and coverage are ultimately more significant than the “quasi-ideological and generally confusing, self-serving, and misleading statements uttered by advocates in the vendor community”, Roetter says.

Despite all these some in the industry are still optimistic about WiMax and believes that WiMax is not falling behind. WiMax is being developed within the normal industry time frame for new technologies. One of the reasons for WiMax camp to be encouraged is that the price of WiMax devices is falling sharply and from next year the technology will be built into some Intel-based laptops.

Will that be enough to save it from obscurity?

Only time will tell, but there’s little doubt that WiMax has lost some of its early edge and the hype that went along with it.

New Tutorials available

Two new tutorials are available on 3G4G website:

# A look at NAS Timers

# Sending SMS using AT Commands

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Lights, 8 Megapixel Camera, Action!

Samsung recently announced exclusive deals for its 8 Megapixel Camera phone Innov8 (Innovate ;) a.k.a. Samsung i8510 or GT-i8510.

Its a 3.5G Symbian smartphone with an 8 megapixel camera, WiFi and GPS, plus an advanced multimedia player and a whole host of other features that compete head on with the Nokia N96 and N95 8GB. The "8" in "Innov8" refers to the i8510's advanced 8 megapixel camera. This has autofocus and a dual LED flash, plus an image stabiliser, panoramic stitching, face detection and a number of other clever features lifted straight out of Samsung's dedicated digital camera range. Sometimes we have seen disappointing video capture quality with some rival phones, but not so with the Innov8 which is capable of recording VGA resolution video at 30 frames per second, or QVGA resolution at 120 frames per second. The Innov8 also has built-in video editing and an FM radio with RDS, plus stereo Bluetooth and a 3.5mm audio output socket.

More features, pictures, etc in Mobile Gazette website.

Note that Samsung has previously already released 10 Megapixel camera with 3x Optical zoom. The SCH-B600 was shown off in CeBit in 2006. Dont know if it was launched in Europe anywhere.


Reiter's Camera Phone report has some interesting statistics on Camera phones. One of the interesting bit of information was summary of Ofcom communication Market report 2007. Based on that 84% of the phones sold in UK now have camera and 38% of people surveyed said that they use their mobile camera regularly. Another article mentions that 40% of Japanese print camera phone photos. More Interesting bits on Reiter's camera phone report.

There is another set of statistics from wirefly.com (via Click Chic) for US:

  • 63.8 percent of users ages 18-30 say they use their cell phone’s camera at least once a week, while 26.3 percent reported using it daily
  • “Family events” and “scenery/sightseeing” remain the top reasons cited for using a camera phone, but social uses separated the younger adults from the over-30 crowd - 58.3 percent of cell phone users ages 18-30 report using a cell phone regularly “to document nightlife,” while just 29.9 percent of those over 30 made a similar claim.
  • individuals ages 18-30 use their camera phones to publish photos to online social media four times as much as respondents over 30 years of age.
  • 96.3 percent of adult cell phone owners report that they have a cell phone with a camera. (No surprise here, since most cell phones now come with a camera.)
  • 19 percent of adults prefer to use their cell phone as their primary camera for all photography.
  • 77.2 percent of photos taken remain stored in the phone, 45.4 percent are used as wall-paper and 38.6 percent are sent to friends via MMS.
  • 20.2 percent of respondents say they have snapped a photo of an attractive man/woman, and 7.5 percent have photographed an unsuspecting stranger.
  • 46.4 percent of all adults and two-thirds of adults age 18-30 say they use their cell phone to snap self-portraits.
  • 19.8 percent say they have snuck a picture while pretending to do something else.

Things have changed since Nokia became the biggest Camera manufacturer. Over the last couple of years the resolution of phone cameras have improved and at the same time the quality has improved as well. The are now coming with much better equipped cameras with professional quality lens.

Martin pointed out in his post earlier that Flickr maintains live statistics of the cameras being used to upload photos. In his post in January he mentioned that Nokia N95 has just overtaken N73 but I can see that Iphone is now the leader as can be seen above.

Phone Cameras is one area that is being seriously thought about in search for Killer applications.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Thumbs up to NFC in London trial

Guardian reported, Passengers on London Underground could be using their mobile phones to get through the ticket barriers and even pay for their lunch within the next two years, after a successful trial of technology in the capital by O2 and Transport for London.

The mobile phone company integrated Oyster card technology and a Barclaycard Visa card into a Nokia 6131 handset and gave it to 500 testers who spent six months using the phone as a mobile wallet.

  • 78% want to use contactless services on their mobile phone
  • Nine out of ten trialists were happy using NFC technology on a mobile phone
  • Interest in having Oyster on their mobile phones was particularly strong with 89% of trialists saying they were interested in taking this up
  • Over two-thirds of trialists also said that they would be interested in having the Barclaycard Visa payWave feature on their mobile in the future.
  • Having Oyster on their mobile phone actually increased trialists use of public transport. One in five (22%) trialists using Pay as You Go Oyster reported that they increased the number of journeys they made on public transport during the trial.
  • Overall, almost 50,000 tube journeys took place using the O2 Wallet during the six month trial.
  • 67% said that they found it more convenient to use than a standard Oyster card.
  • 87% said that availability of the service would be likely to influence their purchase of a new mobile phone.
From Guardian again, In Japan, such phones have been in use for more than four years. The Japanese railway network has been using the technology since 2001 and millions of cards have been issued. But the technology used in Japan is based on Sony's FeliCa chip technology, which is different from that used in the O2 trial and by Transport for London for the Oyster card.

Philip Makinson, at industry experts Greenwich Consulting, said mobile wallets had fallen down in the past because of the number of people needed to make any system viable.

"It requires cooperation, not just between handset manufacturers and network operators but third parties such as Visa or Mastercard and banks and retailers. To reach critical mass you really need to have at least three of the big operators to be involved or there is not enough in it for the likes of Transport for London or Nokia," said Makinson.

Several of the UK's five mobile phone networks are understood to be interested in mobile wallets.

"There does seem to be consumer demand for it, people are saying they want to carry less stuff around with them," said Makinson.
The results of the O2 trial show that people like using a mobile phone to do more than send texts and talk.

Monday, 1 September 2008

NRS, ENUM and NGN


The way most of mobile savvy people work is that they have bundles of free minutes on their mobile which they use for calling people locally/nationally and then they have VoIP based clients like Skype they use for calling people on similar services locally/nationally/internationally. There is a constant juggle between Mobile numbers and VoIP numbers. What if we were able to use our number with VoIP client so regardless of whom you are calling, if they have a similar VoIP service on their side, you get free call and if they dont have this VoIP client then you use your inclusive minutes or get charged. ENUM will be able to solve this.

According to a Yankee Group report titled "ENUM Will Be Reinvented as a Strategic NGN Element", In spite of its early struggles, ENUM, short for Electronic Numbering or Telephone Number Mapping, is well positioned to provide a fundamental underpinning of the Anywhere Network™ as it relates to the efficient routing of any IP-based service across operator domains. It is in this new role that ENUM evolves from its rather meager beginnings to a strategic role in the transition to IP.


I wrote about ENUM sometime back as that was mentioned as magical entity in one of the conferences. Since then I have managed to find the Nominet presentation which was discussed in the conference. Infact there was a conference in London on ENUM organised by Nominet. If you are not clear about ENUM from my earlier Blog then please check Technology Inside Blog here.
We can discuss again here, why ENUM is important:

Imagine the NHS has 500 telephone numbers that it operates as 0800 freephone numbers to allow customer (patients) to contact various local departments. The cost of each minute of every call is borne by the NHS so ultimately by the British taxpayer. Now the NHS also has VoIP connectivity and decides to advertise their 0800 numbers through DNS using ENUM. Subsequently, every time someone using VoIP decides to call any of those 0800 numbers their VoIP provider will find the 0800 number in the ENUM DNS listings for the NHS and will connect the caller to the medical department using VoIP alone - at no cost to either party (usually).

Siemens have a very good presentation that shows different uses of ENUM.

Clearly with this approach there is scope for financial savings. That said, there remains considerable work needed to achieve even this small goal, let alone the potential options further down the road.


In case you were wondering, ENUM is an international standard being implemented by individual countries separately through their respective Governments. The UK Government, through regulator OFCOM, has assigned the design, implementation and ongoing administration of the project to UKEC who, in turn, have contracted much of the work to Nominet. Nominet administer and maintain the .uk gTLD - when you buy any domain ending .uk it is ultimately sold by Nominet although almost always through a reseller (”registrar”) like GoDaddy.

GSMA and NeuStar have been working with leading operators to provide a standards-based solution to this problem. This solution is the Number Resolution Service, or NRS.

NRS is a GSMA Managed Service operated by NeuStar. The service facilitates IP interoperability by translating telephone numbers to IP-based addresses. Interoperability is particularly important in facilitating the uptake of emerging services such as MMS, IMS and Packet Voice.

Based on Carrier ENUM, NRS is available to mobile operators, fixed network operators, and related service providers. The service is currently being piloted with a number of operators, with commercial availability scheduled for the autumn of 2008.

As next generation IP-based services proliferate, operators can utilise NRS to position new services behind the telephone number already used by subscribers. Whenever a telephone number is used to identify an end user, the NRS service will facilitate the discovery of URI containing information specific to the service being provided.

NRS is provided as an off the shelf managed service, interoperable on a global basis, providing all the facilities and features necessary to implement an operator’s interconnect policies. Pricing is based on a cost effective “pay as you go” model with no up front capital investment required. NRS thus helps lower the entry barrier for new services and promotes innovation by simplifying the product development and implementation process.

ENUM is going to be hated by the CPs because it will lower their per minute revenue which they are getting at the moment but they it is definitely going to provide new opportunities (and competetion). At the same time the customers will love it because they will get loads of free calls and dont have to worry too much about installing different VoIP clients on their phones. At present it is still in the initial stages with everyone waiting for others to adopt it first but ENUM is here to stay.

Abbreviations:
  • ENUM - tElephone NUmber Mapping (I have also seen Electronic NUMbering)
  • CP - Communications Provider
  • SBC - Session Border Controller
  • NHS - National Health Service (in UK)
  • NRS - Number Resolution Service
  • GSMA - GSM Association