Tuesday 23 December 2008

Nokia may be entering laptop market

With the telecoms market so tight every company especially the giants like Nokia are looking at the alternatives for their revenues to go further north. Some time ago there was a rumour that the Nokia might enter into the laptop market and hence widen its area of business. Although at that time this was categorically denied by Nokia, rumours the Finnish mobile giant may be planning to enter the laptop computer market have resurfaced. On this occasion it was through the medium of a research note from a Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) analyst. For a report that could just be speculative it contained a remarkable amount of detail suggesting as it did that the Nokia device would be a 9 to 10 inch notebook/tablet computer with touchpad, NFC and Linux OS.

In its early days Nokia did produce computers but by the mid-1980s it had exited the business, merging its PC division with Ericsson Information Systems.

In the past of couple of years we have seen that companies like HP and Apple have moved into the smartphone business and hence taken a small share of the market. This has really affected likes of Nokia, Ericsson, Samsung and other vendors. Taking a leaf out of computer manufacturers such as HP and Apple who has moved into smartphone business, Nokia thinks that perhaps it is its time now to mount a counterattack.

Monday 22 December 2008

Indian m-Commerce service among top tech pioneers for 2009

JiGrahak is behind ngpay, the brand name of a free mobile-commerce service that allows consumers in India to shop, order meals, make charitable donations, do their banking, and pay their bills, among other things. Launched last February, ngpay already has attracted more than 230,000 users and has become the largest channel for mobile-based transactions with Indian Railways and HDFC Bank, and for movie ticketing. The company expects to have 1 million users by mid-2009.

More information available from this youtube video:

Femtocell 3GPP Specifications

Now with Release 8 frozen, if you are Femtocell follower then there are couple of specs that you can read:

3GPP TR 25.820 - 3G Home NodeB Study Item Technical Report: Contains study of items from RAN#2, RAN#3 and RAN#4 point of view.

3GPP TS TS 22.220 - Service Requirements for Home NodeBs and Home eNodeBs: It lists different requirements as the title suggests. You can see some more info on this at Martin's blog.

Over the next few months since the Femtocell race is heating up, you would find these documents being updated with lots of details and probably stage 2 and stage 3 documents detailing some implementation details, etc. Will keep you informed.

Sunday 21 December 2008

Mobile phones can be very distracting

There are so many telecoms blogs which we read and write in our daily life. Today I want to touch on a different but very serious subject regarding the mobile phones.
Everybody knows how dangerous or distracting a mobile phone can be when we are involved in some other jobs e.g. driving.

I thought to touch on this subject and outline some important facts about the do’s and don’ts before we go into the festive period.

It’s very much evident that while driving it’s simply dangerous to chat on the mobile phone. It doesn't matter much whether the talking happens with a phone held to the ear, or through a speaker-phone, it's all distracting to the driver. In the past, it has been reported that chatting on mobile phones slows traffic. It’s quite simple that drivers who are talking on a cell phone clog traffic because they're driving more slowly (and reacting much more slowly) than drivers who take the radical path of paying attention to their driving. Well, yet another study, this time conducted by researchers at the University of Utah, finds that mobile phone calls are just plain distracting to drivers (must read this article). Admittedly, the sample size consist only 41 adults, with 41 of their passenger friends. What is interesting about this study though is that it pits drivers having conversations using hands-free mobile phones against drivers maintaining in-car conversations with their passengers.

The study noted that drivers on their mobile phones tended to drift in their lanes, and were four times as likely to miss pulling off the highway at a prearranged location. Drivers maintaining conversation with their passengers apparently fared much better. A plausible reason for this is that the in-car passengers actually supported drivers by their talking about surrounding traffic.
Last week in one of my blog I reported how texting is picking up especially in teens. Texting on the mobile is even more dangerous than chatting while driving as your eyes are down. In September this year a train crash was reported in California where the driver was blamed for the crash as he was busy texting.

Well this was for the drivers but how about normal person on the road. Everyday we come across people who walk across the street looking at their cell phone and not at the traffic.
This business of walking with you eyes down on the cell phone is equally a risky business as it is while driving.

Well I know that there is nothing new in whatever I mentioned above and it has already been told to us millions of time. I still considered myself a duty bound and thought if I mention here soma of you may be extra cautious while using the cell phone specially when during this festive period.

Please take care and I wish you wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year.

Vodafone launches true "Pay as you go" data package

Vodafone launched a pay as you go USB modem that doesn't need topping up every month. It costs £39 upfront and comes with £15 worth of credit, which amounts to 1GB of data. According to Vodafone, 1GB of data lets you do 30 hours of Web surfing, or send 650 emails, or download 65 music tracks or short video clips.

Unlike certain other pay as you go mobile broadband services, the 1GB will not expire after 30 days. The minimum you can top up the dongle each time is £15, which can be done using a voucher or over the phone.

It is capable of speeds of up to 3.6Mbps, but customers should only expect speeds of up to 1Mbps to 2Mbps. The modem will also double as a 4GB USB memory stick.

I would like to refer to this as true pay as you go plan because the topup does not expire after a month. On the other hand, a similar amount on '3' would get you 3GB of data in their version of PAYG which expires after a month.

LTE functionality frozen as part of Release 8

According to 3GPP website: 3GPP has approved the functional freeze of LTE as part of Release 8.

There is significant commitment from operators to deploy this technology, and this landmark achievement will allow them to realize their early deployment plans.

But the 3GPP decided to give more time to the work on SAE -– a.k.a. evolved packet core (EPC) –- because the specs weren't complete enough. The standards body has drawn up a list of "exceptions" that will have until March 2009 to be finalized in order to be included in Release 8.

"There are a number of pieces of work which we thought should be included but weren't quite ready," says Scrase. "[There are] quite a number of parts for SAE, the work [on which] still lags behind LTE work. We have a high level of confidence that the items will be completed by March, otherwise we wouldn't have included them on the list."

Scrase says that it is common to extend deadlines in this way and that the 3GPP allowed a similar extension for Release 7.

The decisions about LTE and SAE took place at a 3GPP meeting in Athens last week, where the group definitively agreed on what is contained in Release 8 and what's not, according to Scrase. The group also agreed on what should be included in Release 9, which is scheduled to be frozen in December 2009.

And there is more to Release 8 than LTE and SAE. For example, some of the specifications for femtocells -- or "Home Node B" in 3GPP terminology -- are included in the release.

Thursday 18 December 2008

It's Aeroflex turn now to launch it's LTE product

As the competition is spicing up for the LTE race, companies have now started to launch their LTE products.

Continuing with the trends and keep the competition alive it’s now Aeroflex which launched the TM500 TD-LTE test mobile.

This latest LTE test mobile is designed to support Time Division Duplex for 3G LTE (TD-LTE) and will definitely compliment Aeroflex's TM500 LTE-FDD for 3G LTE Frequency Division Duplex quite well.
Ever since China mobile announced its plans for TD-LTE there was immense pressure on the equipment vendors to meet the demands. TM500 TD-LTE test mobile is designed to enable infrastructure equipment vendor’s match that demanding timescales for TD-LTE trials in China.
The TM500 TD-LTE's extensive Layer 1, Layer 2 and higher layer test features make it an indispensable testing peer that provides complete visibility even into the lowest layers of the radio modem by generating the detailed diagnostic data needed for engineers to verify the required functionality and optimize network operation and performance.
Following are further characteristics of TM500 TD-LTE:
  • Support MIMO,
  • Handover testing is simple and supported well,
  • The test mobile can support 20MHz channel bandwidths and downlink data rates of upto 150Mbit/

All the above characteristics if the test mobile will enable comprehensive development and test support of base station and network infrastructure for the next generation of Chinese mobile technology.

The TM500 TD-LTE can co-exist in the same unit as the TM500 LTE-FDD protecting investment and maximizing test flexibility for engineers working on both standards.
Aeroflex will provide full in-country support for the TM500 TD-LTE so that technical questions and integration issues can be dealt with in Chinese and Aeroflex engineers can get on-site quickly, if needed, without having to fly in from Europe or the USA.

The TM500 TD-LTE will be available for customer shipment in late 2008.
It will be available both as a standalone unit and as an upgrade to existing TM500 LTE-FDD systems.

Wednesday 17 December 2008

Satellite based Mobile Internet of the future

Background: The current US military satellite communications network represents decades-old technology. To meet the heightened demands of national security in the coming years, newer and more powerful systems are being developed.

Advances in information technology are fundamentally changing the way military conflicts are resolved. The ability to transmit detailed information quickly and reliably to and from all parts of the globe will help streamline military command and control and ensure information superiority, enabling faster deployment of highly mobile forces capable of adapting quickly to changing conditions in the field. Satellite communications play a pivotal role in providing the interoperable, robust, "network-centric" communications needed for future operations.

Military satellite communications (or milsatcom) systems are typically categorized as wideband, protected, or narrowband. Wideband systems emphasize high capacity. Protected systems stress antijam features, covertness, and nuclear survivability. Narrowband systems emphasize support to users who need voice or low-data-rate communications and who also may be mobile or otherwise disadvantaged (because of limited terminal capability, antenna size, environment, etc.).

For wideband communication needs, the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite program and the Advanced Wideband System will augment and eventually replace the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS). These satellites will transmit several gigabits of data per second—up to ten times the data flow of the satellites being replaced. Protected communications will be addressed by a global extremely high frequency (EHF) system, composed of the Advanced Extremely High Frequency System and Advanced Polar System. These systems are expected to provide about ten times the capacity of current protected satellites (the Milstar satellites). Narrowband needs are supported by the UFO (Ultrahigh-frequency Follow-On) constellation, which will be replaced by a component of the Advanced Narrowband System

Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Hughes Space and Communications and TRW have formed a National Team to build the Department of Defense's (DOD) next generation of highly secure communication satellites known as the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) system.

The Advanced EHF programme provides the follow-on capability to the Milstar satellite programme. It provides the basis for the next generation military communications satellite system, for survivable, jam-resistant, worldwide, secure, communications for the strategic and tactical warfighter. The system replenishes the Milstar constellation in the EHF band.

Each of these Advanced EHF satellites employs more than 50 communications channels via multiple, simultaneous downlinks. Launch of the first AEHF satellite is planned for April 2008 with the second AEHF satellite scheduled for launch in April 2009.

The fully operational Advanced EHF constellation will consist of four crosslinked satellites, providing coverage of the Earth from 65° north latitude to 65° south. These satellites will provide more data throughput capability and coverage flexibility to regional and global military operations than ever before. The fifth satellite built could be used as a spare or launched to provide additional capability to the envisioned constellation.

Current Status: After being plagued with project overruns and a scaling back of the final system, the US military's next generation satellite communications network is another step closer to reality, with completion of the payload module for the third and final Advanced Extremely High Frequency (EHF) satellite.

Although the EHF band is a relatively lightly used part of the electromagnetic spectrum (30-300 GHz), it is for good reason. Atmospheric attenuation is the biggest problem faced in this band, especially around 60 GHz, however the frequencies are viable for short distance terrestrial based communication links, such as microwave Internet and telecommunication links (which already operate in this band). Millimetre wave radar, probably best known as the radar that can see through your clothes but not your skin, also operates in this band.

Designed to avoid problematic frequencies that are more susceptible to attenuation, but accepting increased overall atmospheric attenuation, are an increasing number of military and civil satellite systems that are using this band for uplink and downlink, as well as inter-satellite communication. Inter-satellite communication is really where EHF equipment shines (no atmosphere, small antennas, high data rates).

Civilian systems are currently around the Ku band (Intelsat), providing data rates of up to 2-4 Mbps (14 GHz uplink, 12 GHz downlink) however these rates have still to trickle into everyday user's hands for remote and mobile Internet access. It is more common that an aggregator will access this link/rate and use that to then portion out local Internet access. Systems such as this are in use for remote Australian territories like Cocos and Christmas Islands, and formed the backbone of Boeing's stillborn Connexion in-flight Internet access. High ongoing access costs (basically a share of the overall cost of the satellite) and limited access slots help keep the technology away from everyday use at this time. Militaries and governments around the globe also lease access on these circuits when they need the added capability, with Intelsat and Inmarsat systems being used in the first Gulf War.

Advanced EHF is designed to provide 24 hour coverage from 65 North, to 65 South across the K and Ka sub bands, and when combined with the prototyped Extended Data Rate (XDR) terminals and systems, will offer up to 8.2 Mbps data rates for around 4,000 terminals in concurrent use per satellite footprint (whether that scales to 12,000 systems in concurrent use globally isn't clear from source material).

Within the tri-satellite constellation, inter-satellite EHF links will allow terminals on opposite sides of the globe to communicate in near real-time without the use of a terrestrial link. Combined with smaller, directional antennas and the various options for anti-jamming technology, it represents a significant military capability for the US.

Already plans are being drawn up for the Transformational Satellite Communications System (T-Sat) which will replace Advanced EHF starting sometime in 2013, however it is already facing funding troubles. This could be problematic, with Advanced EHF still struggling to reach capability and the final launch not scheduled until April 2010. Dropping the fourth satellite of the Advanced EHF constellation has been planned to give the USAF time to implement T-Sat more rapidly.

If GPS and remote imaging (think Google Earth) have proven anything, it is that technology initially developed for military purposes, and extremely expensive for initial civil use, will eventually reach the point where it forms part of our daily lives without us ever being conscious of the massive investment to get to that point.

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Metro Femtos another option for LTE.

Around six months back, Unstrung article mentioned that Vodafone dreams of Metro Femto. Now Doug Pulley of picoChip s all set to champion this concept. In the recently concluded LTE World Summit, he said "The macrocell is dead. It's a fallacy to think you can reuse existing cell sites to get LTE services. That whole premise is broken."

Both China Mobile and T-Mobile have said they plan to use existing 3G cell sites for their LTE networks. But Pulley contends a traditional macrocell deployment won't work because of the basic laws of physics.

Here's the deal: "User throughput rolls off the further you get from the base station," says Pulley. "[With] increased throughput, the signal becomes more sensitive to noise and interference. The further it has to travel, the weaker it gets."

So that means LTE cell sites need to be small and a have smaller radii than traditional macro sites to get the full data throughputs that LTE can offer, which will be up to three to four times higher than 3G HSDPA release 6, according to Adrian Scrase, CTO at the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) .

"You've got to have new sites, and the capex implications of that are potentially horrible," says Pulley.

So future LTE femtos have to be cheap. PicoChip is developing a system-on-chip (SoC), code-named Feynman, that will enable a dualmode HSPA/LTE residential femtocell with a bill of materials of $70 in 2011. A lamp-post mounted, dualmode HSPA/LTE version of the femtocell will have a bill of materials of about $170.

"This is orders of magnitude cheaper than doing it any other way," says Pulley.

For equipment suppliers, though, the concept of small, cheap base stations, especially those that might supplant current base station models, is causing some tension, according to Pulley.

T-Mobile is keen on LTE femtocells. "Femtocells [will be] an important measure to supplement LTE for indoor coverage and capacity scenarios," says Frank Meywerk, senior vice president for radio networks at T-Mobile.
And China Mobile suggested that operators outside China could use the TD-LTE (Time Division LTE) version of LTE for capacity-enhancing femtocell deployments. That's an option for many European operators that, as part of their spectrum allocations for 3G UMTS services, have been awarded 5 MHz of time-division duplex (TDD) spectrum, along with their primary allocation of frequency-division duplex (FDD) spectrum.

TD-LTE would be a particularly useful choice for operators looking to maximize coverage in dense urban areas, as such deployments would "not interfere with FDD spectrum," according to Bill Huang, general manager at the China Mobile Research Institute. "I've heard that without having fixed spectrum allocated to femtos, it's not possible to deploy femtocells" because of interference issues.

Canada's Telus presented findings that femtocells do indeed have better performance in metro deployments.

"We're all here today to determine if there is a performance difference with going with very small cells," said Sam Luu, associate director of technology planning and strategy at Telus. "There is a significant performance difference at the edge and at the site."

But Luu cautioned that metro femtos are, for now, still only an interesting idea. "You can talk about technical better performance," he says. "But it still requires the R&D to get it off the ground. We're still in the early stages of evaluating the technology."

I have mentioned here and here that Femtocells can be considered as starting point for LTE rollout. Thinking about all the posts, it may be a better that an enhanced version of Femtocell or Femto++ is used. By this i mean that traditionally HSPA/LTE Femtocells are to allow max. 4 calls (more correct would be 4 radio links because the users could be in multi-call with CS and PS connection ... I know there is no CS for LTE but I am talking about HSPA) simultaneously and the Femto++ would allow 16 calls simultaneously.

In fact Huawei has a 16 channel Femtocell that is being trialled but not everyone is happy to refer to it as a Femtocell. A better term suggested is Picocell or my personal view is that depending on the power output, it could be classed as Femto++ or Picocell.

Operators can also reduce the cost of rolling out Metro Femtos by encouraging users to keep the access open on their Femtocells open and giving them a reward for every originating and terminating call made on their Femto.

More information on Metro Femtocells is available here:

Monday 15 December 2008

LG causes a stir with the first LTE handset modem chip

LG recently announced that it has independently developed the first handset (user equipment) modem chip based on 3GPP Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology standards. The modem chip can theoretically support wireless download speeds of 100Mbps (megabits per second) and upload speeds of 50Mbps. This represents a significant step toward creating a market-ready 4G phone.

LG demonstrated the chip at its Mobile Communication Technology Research Lab in Anyang, Korea, achieving wireless download speeds of 60 Mbps and upload speeds of 20 Mbps. The fastest phones currently on the market use HSDPA technology and download at a maximum speed of 7.6 Mbps.

For the past three years, LG have been pursuing 3GPP LTE standardization, working to develop and test commercially viable LTE technology with approximately 250 of R&D staffs. The result is a 13 by 13 mm modem chip, perfectly sized for the next generation of slim-yet-powerful handsets. For its demonstration today, LG used a test terminal running Windows Mobile to play back high quality, on-demand video. In addition to this handset modem, LG is also developing the first preliminary LTE-based data card, which can replace the wireless cards currently used in computers.

“Now that LG has developed and tested the first 4G handset modem, a commercially viable LTE handset is on the horizon,” said Dr. Woo Hyun Paik, CTO of LG Electronics. “This latest breakthrough gives us a strong technology advantage that we will use to bolster our industry leadership.”

Dr. Paik added, "Our successful development of this LTE handset modem signals the start of the 4G mobile communications market. LG will continue to advance this technology and develop further technologies to maintain global leadership.”

Mobile phone carriers have now built LTE test networks and are currently working on early stage handsets. The first LTE mobile phones will likely reach the market in 2010.

If you remember, LG was one of the partners with T-Mobile and Nortel when they tested LTE some months back.

Anyway, LG also caused a stir with this announcement because it boasted of having 300 patents related to the technology.

The report, in Korea Times, caused ripples of nervousness because LG is not a participant in the patent pool that several large vendors formed last spring for LTE. The aim of this group is to create a cross-licensing framework, and sign up sufficient numbers of IPR holders, that it will achieve “fair and non-discriminatory pricing” amounting to a single digit percentage of the cost of a handset, and single digit dollars for a laptop, for all associated intellectual property, commented Arstechnica.

Patent pools are gaining in popularity as new standards emerge with ever larger numbers of patents involved, but with rising pressures to be cost effective. The WiMAX community created the Open Patent Alliance earlier this year, and this week, the IEEE standards body struck a two-year deal with Via Licensing, one of the most prominent patent pool administrators. This agreement will create one or more patent pools for key IEEE communications standards, including Wi-Fi. The standards group believes this will help drive its specifications into the market more quickly because vendors will have greater confidence that IPR licensing will be fair and patents declared upfront before standards find their way into commercial products.

There were some interesting discussions on IPR framework in the LTE World Summit that i will hopefully blog soon about.

via: LTE Watch