Sunday 11 January 2009

LTE gained momentum in year 2008

In my blogs related to WiMax and LTE in the past I have always mentioned about the competition between the two and how each of them does everu thing possible to score over each other.

I must say I have always though that eventually LTE will come through the competition and will gain significance in the future in terms of mobile technology for high speed.

With the current economic climate and by looking at the advance stages of WiMax one would thing that WiMax might win the battle. With the budgets are shrinking as every day passes in these unprecedented economic climate there is always a worry for new technolgies.
By looking at all these circumstance LTE (Long Term Evolution) was supposed to significantly lag behind WiMAX, but the technology gained significant momentum in 2008. The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has completed the majority of specifications for standardization of LTE next-generation technology, meaning the full Release 8 standard is on track for completion by March.

Operators do see this opportunity and the work done by the 3GPP. Nortel like many other companies chose LTE over WiMax thus marking significance towards LTE growth.
Following Nortel a number of operators, including Verizon, T-Mobile and China Telecom, are champing at the bit to deploy LTE. Verizon Wireless has indicated it will have LTE up and running by the end of 2009.

It’s true that there is still significant amount of work to be done by 3GPP toward completing the specifications. The 3GPP still has to work on the evolved packet core, otherwise known as System Architecture Evolution, because the specifications weren't complete enough. 3GPP has written up a list of "exceptions" that will need to be finalized by March in order to be included in Release 8.

Still what became extremely significant for the technology was the fact that a number of CDMA operators, including Verizon and Bell Canada, are moving to LTE, which is supposed to be the technology path for the GSM community.

Vendors like T-Mobile continue to announce their momentum with trials. Just like T-Mobile did the initial trial for LTE, recently Motorola also announced that it has conducted LTE test successfully. In its test it conducted the first over-the-air data sessions for LTE technology in the 700 MHz spectrum in an outdoor field test that included mobile video streaming and other data-heavy applications. These kind of development takes LTE and WiMax further apart and talks of LTE WiMax merger becomes less popular.
There is every possibility now that we won't likely see a merger between WiMAX and LTE.

By looking at the LTE developments in the year 2008, most of the companies do see that future in LTE as there is no doubt that it will become commercially available in few years time.

Telecomm companies in US are feverishly backing LTE and are busy in developing the LTE products. It’s very much likely that initial LTE deployments will happen in the U.S. market on a significant basis first because of the amount of spectrum license holders have in the 700 MHz band. Elsewhere, large swaths of spectrum are hard to come by for significant deployments of LTE.

Mobiles for French children: Non, Merci

New laws cracking down on children's use of mobile phones are to be introduced in France amid growing fears that they may cause cancer and other diseases.

All advertising of the devices to children under 12 is to be prohibited under the legislation – announced by the Environment Minister, Jean-Louis Borloo, last week – and he will also take powers to ban the sale of any phone designed to be used by those under six.

The French government will also introduce new limits for radiation from the phones and make it compulsory for handsets to be sold with earphones, so that users can avoid irradiating their heads and brains. And one of the country's largest cities last month started an advertising campaign to discourage the use of the phones by children.

The clampdown represents the most comprehensive action yet taken by any government worldwide. It contrasts sharply with the stance of British ministers, who have largely ignored the recommendations of an official report nine years ago that people aged under 16 should be discouraged from using mobiles, and that the industry should be stopped from promoting them to children. Since then their use by the young has almost doubled, so that nine out of 10 of the country's 16-year-olds own a handset.

Swedish research indicates that children and teenagers are five times more likely to get brain cancer if they use the phones, causing some experts to predict an "epidemic" of the disease among today's young people in later life. But consideration of the threat to them has been specifically excluded from Britain's official £3.1m investigation into the risk of cancer from mobiles.

The French ministry warned that "mobile phone use is increasing at a rapid pace among youths", and warns that the young may be "more sensitive because their bodies are still developing". Children's heads are smaller and their skulls thinner.

Lyon, France's second city, launched an advertising campaign before Christmas aimed at dissuading people from buying mobiles for children as presents, with the slogan "Let's keep them healthy, away from mobile phones!"

A year ago France's official Agency for Environmental and Occupational Health Safety said that parents should not give small children mobiles. And France's Health Ministry urged using them in moderation.

The French legislation is the latest evidence of growing official alarm at the hazards of the radiation caused by mobile phone use. In September, the European Parliament voted 522 to 16 to urge ministers across Europe to bring in stricter radiation limits, and the European Environment Agency has also issued a warning.

Toronto's Department of Public Health has advised that children under eight should only use mobiles in emergencies and teenagers should limit calls to less than 10 minutes. The Russian Ministry of Health says that young people under 18 should not use the devices, and Israel's Health Ministry has also advised caution.

Friday 9 January 2009

LBS to find parking space

Drivers in Westminster in London can now solve their parking problems by sending a text message.

Westminster City Council, which pioneered a satellite navigation system to help people find nearby public toilets, has adapted its technology to help visitors park in the area.

Drivers who text CARPARK to 80097 will get a text back within seconds giving them details of their nearest car parks, based on their current location.

The service uses satellites to locate the phone when the message is sent allowing it to return information accurate to less than one mile.

The technology directs users to the nearest two of the council's 14 car parks across Westminster.

Locals can also text to receive an instant message back with details of the location and phone number of their nearest leisure centre, swimming pool, library, youth club or children's centre.

The authority hopes the system will eventually be used nationwide.

The service costs 25p (plus standard network charge) per text sent to the 80097 number.

There seems to be some confusion about the technology being used but my assumption is that it is Location Based Service. This service was earlier also referred to as 'SatLav' (SatNav + Lavoratory: because it was initially used to locate nearest toilets :)

Earlier, Robert Thurner, Commercial Director of Incentivated, which created the technology to pin-point users and their nearest toilet by matching postcodes, said:

"By employing the latest mobile technology, councils like Westminster Council are helping to make residents' lives easier. Whether they want to pay the congestion charge via their mobile or use location based services to find their nearest recycling centres or licensed minicabs, mobile can offer an immediate solution, at any time and anywhere. We applaud Westminster Council for adding text-public conveniences to their list of services and look forward to working with them in the future."

In future it could be used for a lot more different purposes.

I am not totally convinced if this is a great idea, expecially for parking:
  • In UK, users are not allowed to use mobile while driving so how do they send the text message?
  • If you park temporarily on the road to send this text message then you can get parking fine or you may just block other users
  • You may send this text message while driving, in which case by the time you receive the response you have already travelled some distance.
  • Generally SMS responses are quick but in congested situation they can take time.
  • 25 pence + 10 pence network charge seems a lot to me if people are going to use this service regularly and its rolled out nationwide.
  • A simpler alternative it to get a SatNav (available from 50 pounds) and they have Parking as points of interest.
  • Google maps for mobile already uses LBS. Its just matter of time before they add this service and you can avail it free (or maybe pay some data charges if you are not on flat tariff).
Anyone seen this or similar services in action? Please give your opinion.

Thursday 8 January 2009

Mobile TV Wassup?

EU Telecoms Commissioner Viviane Reding hasn't given up pushing Mobile TV on anyone who'll listen, and has just published a set of guidelines in the hope that gentle persuasion will work where attempted legislation failed.

The EU still apparently believes that Mobile TV is going to be worth €7.8bn by 2013 as everyone leaps to watch TV on their mobile phones, citing the 5,000 punters signed up on Austria as a clear indication of things to come if only everyone in Europe would agree to abide by the newly-published recommendations.

Unfortunately only Austria, Finland, France and Germany have shown any interest in Mobile TV - and it's hard to imagine many regulators agreeing to the recommendations which include awarding technology-specific licences, penalising operators who fail to build enough coverage, and mandating cross-border service compatibility.

The recommendations (pdf) make some play of the fact that DVB-H has been endorsed by the EU as a mobile television standard, without mentioning the fact that the EU already recognises competing-technology MBMS as part of the GSM standard, and that most regulators want more technology-neutral spectrum licensing. In the UK Qualcomm owns a huge chunk of spectrum, and has no qualms about deploying another DVB-H competitor, MediaFLO, if the market wants it.

Viviane Reding, EU Telecoms and Media Commissioner:

“Successful commercial launches of Mobile TV in Austria, Italy, Finland and the Netherlands have proved that efficient authorisation procedures are a key factor for the fast take-up of Mobile TV. In Austria, 5,000 citizens were using Mobile TV within the first weeks of its launch. With predicted growth in sales during the Christmas period, many more Europeans should have the opportunity to watch TV on the go. This is why we want to give Member States guidance on how to allow industry to get these innovative services on track as quickly and smoothly as possible. We stand for a collaborative approach between all actors involved including broadcasters, mobile operators and platforms operators, and we oppose heavy regulation or burdensome authorisation procedures for the introduction of Mobile TV in Europe.”

Meanwhile, Nokia unveiled its own mobile television channel in an attempt to showcase its latest multimedia device and persuade users to finally embrace watching programmes on the move.

The Finnish handset manufacturer, which supplies four out of every 10 phones sold, has created a series of 96-second programmes.

Six new programmes – on motoring, fashion, gadgets, comedy, culture and homes – will launch on October 1 and are designed to show off the multimedia capabilities of Nokia's new N96 handset.

Nokia announced a tie-up with the BBC that would allow N96 users to access its popular iPlayer 7-day catchup service. Previously, Apple's iPhone was the only mobile compatible with iPlayer. Ainslie said the initiative was not intended to signal a major move into commissioning.

One would assume that this channel would also be available on the old Nokia N77.

The 16 French broadcasters that were awarded a mobile TV licence have entered into talks with Orange and other mobile operators about the service’s business plan. So far, the introduction of what the French call TMP (Television Mobile Personnelle), is not moving forward according to the original plan.

The broadcasters are concerned about the business plan and expect the mobile operators to pay a fee per subscribers to them. Earlier this month at a meeting with the media authority CSA they reiterated their confidence in the future of the mobile TV and the DVB-H standard.

Three mobile TV licenses for the territory will be put up for auction in mid 2009, according to Hong Kong's Commerce & Economic Development Bureau.

The licenses, valid for 15 years, will allow operators to broadcast up to 20 channels via the European Union-endorsed DVB-H standard, and 6 channels through the Korean T-DMB standard.

License holders are required to start broadcasting within 18 months from the conclusion of the auction, with mobile TV services expected to begin by 2010, according to the Bureau.

"Mobile TV exemplifies the technological advancement and media convergence," said Duncan Pescod, permanent secretary for Commerce and Economic Development. "The market world wide has called for timely response from governments and regulators to facilitate the launch and growth of this innovative service."

Wednesday 7 January 2009

2008 Mobile TV Roundup

2008 has been a bad year for Mobile TV. All the hype and expectations from 2007 died down early this year. From that point it has been a downward spiral for the Mobile TV market. Mobile Europe has a good summary on Mobile TV in 2008. Interesting highlights as follows:
  • The most high profile event of the year was probably a bad news story: the demise of MFD [Mobiles Fernsehen Deutschland]'s DMB-based service in Germany, finally withdrawn after struggling for the best part of two years to increase viewer figures, and as MFD shifted its strategy towards DVB-H.
  • The one big success has been the continued growth of 3 Italia's DVB-H service, cunningly launched on the back of the 2006 football World Cup (won by Italy), which now has more than 850,000 subscribers and has added a free to air bouquet to its pay TV offering
  • Yann Courqueux, director of broadcast development, IPTV and mobile TV at Thomson, is optimistic about the potential of the Russian market, where three operators are set to launch services in 2009
  • On the technology side, supporters of DVB-H and DVB-SH feel 2008 was the year when their standard established a clear lead over its rivals.
  • The consumers have noticed during 2008 has been the appearance of a new generation of handsets and mobile devices, including the Nokia N96 and the BlackBerry Storm.
  • Another service that some believe will be crucial to the prospects of mobile TV in the longer term is DVR capability, but there were no significant steps forward in this area in Europe during 2008.
  • It will be at least two more years before we begin to see mass adoption of mobile TV across Europe
Complete article here.

Tuesday 6 January 2009

2008 Femtocells Roundup

Think Femtocell has a good review of Femtocell activities and progress in 2008. Some interesting highlights:
  • Didn’t meet expectations given by some of the more enthusiastic commentators, but overachieved on many industry expectations.
  • Several vendors have commercially applicable products, others are rapidly catching up.
  • The early commercial launches of 2G CDMA femtocells in the USA appear to have gone reasonably well.
  • The Femto Forum has done well to ensure that the industry enters the standards meetings with one voice.
    • There remain two architecture options – one directly compatible with todays 3G GSM/UMTS core network and services
    • the other targeting the future IMS/SIP based solution
  • The first is now effectively completed within 3GPP Release 8, although interoperability between femtocell vendors will need testing and clarification before entirely complete.
  • Operators have set very demanding price points, which won’t be achieved until volumes dramatically increase. Prices for complete units are said to be below $200 already, with the target $100 achievable within 18 months
  • The primary competitor for femtocells is WiFi, specifically the UMA standard which can handover calls between 2G/3G and WiFi. UMA requires special handsets, which until recently have been fairly limited and restricted to 2G. Although its been around for a few years, it seems only the last year that we’ve seen more and more handsets with WiFi appear – and low power WiFi at that.

Predictions for 2009

  • Commercial launches, more in the second half of 2009
  • SIP/IMS femtocell architecture adopted in US and Japan
  • 3GPP standards incorporate SIP/IMS femtocell protocols in Release 9
  • “Over the top” WiFi-style services, such as Fring and TruPhone, will become more popular – driven by greater focus on cost cutting and improved 3G data rates/quality.
  • LTE femtocells won’t become reality until at least 2011, operators will continue to prepare and roll out initially using traditional macrocellular basestations.

Read the complete article here.

Sunday 4 January 2009

WiTricity on display at CES 2009

No more batteries, no more chargers and no more wire spaghetti. This is the future promised by "wireless power", a means of broadcasting electricity through the air to laptops, iPods and other gadgets without the need for cables and sockets.

Untethered lighting, audio speakers and digital picture frames are expected to be among the first commercial products demonstrated in Las Vegas this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show, the world's biggest gadgets tradeshow.

Experts believe this is just the beginning and that eventually wireless electricity - dubbed "WiTricity" by some - could do for battery life what WiFi did for the internet. In a world without wires, laptop users in cafes and airport terminals would be inside an "electricity hotspot" and no longer have to delve past legs, bags and furniture in search of an awkwardly located socket.

Among the companies showcasing the ambitious technology at CES is
PowerBeam. Its system turns electricity into an invisible laser, then literally beams it, as heat, across the room to a solar cell that converts it back into electricity.

David Graham, the co-founder of PowerBeam, told the Observer: "We're going to delete the word 'recharge' from the English dictionary. If your cellphone is recharging on your desk all day, you won't be thinking about it."

The Silicon Valley company can currently use a laser to generate about 1.5 watts of power to a solar cell 10 metres away. This would be enough to power an electronic speaker or small LED (light-emitting diode) lights, but not enough to operate a laptop, which requires an estimated 30 to 50 watts. However, Graham said that the technology could comfortably be scaled up.

PowerBeam insists its laser does not pose a risk to users' health because it is simply moving heat from one place to another. Graham said that, if someone walked through the beam, it would shut down within a thousandth of a second, then restart once the path was clear.

This is a powerbeam demo on Youtube:

Mobiles changing people's lives in Africa

Interesting article in Guardian about how Mobiles give chance to farmers in Africa to cut out the middleman and sell the crops directly to the buyers.
Read more here.

Saturday 3 January 2009

Everything you want to know on Single Carrier FDMA

While working on our LTE training, I came across this very interesting website that contains probably everything you want to know on SC-FDMA. Bookmark it if this is an area of interest.

Single Carrier FDMA Discussion Forum

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Happy new year to everyone. May the new year see lots of new technologies succeed. May we see lots of new mobile phones with innovative technologies. May we see operators offering bigger bundles cheaper. May we see the technologies being simplified and understandable by everyone. May we see WiMAX and LTE co-exist peacefully. May we see lots of nice new books available at a much cheaper price :) May we see nice new mobile apps making our life simpler. May we keep reading and writing blogs and exchanging ideas.