Saturday, 23 May 2009

Amazing iPhone Apps

In the year 2008 the Smartphones took the consumers to different levels and iPhone has been a revelation which was embraced by the masses. What is most striking in the success of the iPhone is the applications which are available on it.

Below are the top 10 iPhone applications.

1 Pandora Internet Radio

This application is available free with the iPhone and is all-time best for music lovers. You pick a song, album or artist and Pandora immediately builds a whole "radio station" around it, endlessly streaming complete tunes from top artists. You can even tweak your station by giving songs a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. Music quality is amazingly good for audio and as far as I know the audio streams for free over AT&T's data network. The music library is solid for genres ranging from rock to pop to jazz to classical. It really needs some Indian Bollywood music, though.

2. AroundMe

Simplicity makes this app a must-carry for the road warrior. Like the name applies, it lists all the critical services around you i.e. banks, coffee shops, bars, gas stations, hospitals, movie theatres, restaurants and so on. Using geo-location, the app orders each service by its proximity to you by giving further details like how many yards away the bar is(I would be mostly interested in that). This apps is very much aimed at the traveller and like any other apps it maps out a route from here to there, if requested. It also creates a contact page for every entry, which you can save to your own contacts list.

3. Mobile News Network

The Associated Press's news-on-demand app is the gold standard. It gives you top news stories, as well as business, sports, show biz and other categories, which you can sort by most recent or most read. It even uses the phone's GPS chip to deliver up local news. Stories and photos load fast, look great and can be read offline. You can email or text the story to a contact, or save it in your own news archive.

4. Ocarina

Some genius figured out how to use the microphone on the iPhone as an air-flow sensor, as a result now we've got a virtual ocarina, albeit not potato-shaped. Hold the phone up to your lips and blow; four "holes" appear on your touch screen allowing you to play almost any scale (which you select under Settings). Share your tunes with other Ocarina players around the world, or just set the app to listen to their masterworks. The Ocarina app costs $0.99 in US from the AT&T network.

5. Wikipanion

O.K., so it's not always accurate. But if you need to understand the gist of something, there's no better reference tool at your fingertips than Wikipedia. While there are many Wikipedia apps for the iPhone, this one is the best of the bunch. It automatically searches while you type, which is cool as well as time-saving, and its rendering of the Wikipedia page on the touchscreen is as perfect as you'll find. By upgrading to the pay version, Wikipanion Plus, users can save articles and do offline browsing.

6. Adrenaline Pool Lite

Virtual pool has been around since the advent of computers. It wouldn't be surprising to hear that it was first played on the UNIVAC 1. And like everything else with a chip for a brain, e-billiards continues relentlessly to improve — this app being a case in point. Fire up Adrenaline Pool, log into a server, and you can play anything from eight-ball to snooker, against other anonymous iPhone pool sharks. The physics are so good; you'll want to take up smoking again.

7. Instapaper

Sign up at for a free account then drag the "Read Later" tag to your browser's toolbar. Now, whenever you're sitting at your computer and stumble upon an article or blog post on the Web that you'd like read later, hit that button. Instapaper's app instantly stores it on your iPhone in a format that's especially readable.

8. NetNewsWire

There's no better way to keep up with your daily perambulations on the Net than via an RSS reader, which basically pushes content from any website or blog to your computer in a format that resembles email. NetNewsWire is one of the best free programs for computers, allowing you to easily subscribe to any feed and synchronizing what you've read across any computers you use. This app adds your iPhone to the party, allowing you to read perfectly formatted text on demand, as well as offline.

9. iTalk

A reporter's best friend, but also indispensable for anyone who wants to dictate memos or record other audible stuff on their phone. The app is little more than a big, red RECORD button on your iPhone screen; push it to capture audio in the high-quality AIFF format. What makes iTalk especially cool is the free, companion iTalkSynch app, which you download to your computer. That program can "sniff" the audio files on your iPhone and download them to your Mac or PC, via Wi-Fi. Now all we need is an app to do perfect voice-to-text translations

10. FakeCall

Because everyone needs a decent, iPhone party trick. Set up a fake contact and that person calls you, on demand. Great for getting out of dull business meetings, or impressing friends when Steve Jobs calls to ask if you really, truly think cut-and-paste would be a good thing to have on the iPhone.

Together with the above Apps there are so many programmers around the world who are busy in writing or developing some more interesting Apps on the apple i-phone Apps store. One of the most interesting I came across recently was a British-made iPhone program that allows the user to read the Kama Sutra.

Eucalyptus, a book reading application developed by Edinburgh programmer James Montgomerie, allows users to download and read thousands of classic titles from the library of Project Gutenberg, the respected website that hosts out of copyright books.But after repeated attempts to get Eucalyptus onto the iPhone's popular App Store, Montgomerie was told that his application was being rejected because one of Gutenberg's books happens to be Sir Richard Burton's 1883 translation of the famous guide to sex.

The link below from Guardian UK tells you more about the above story.

LTE World Summit: Day 3 roundup

I started the third day with my Breakfast briefing. You can see the details here. The third and final day was the deployment day so there were lots of operators speaking.

Pierrre Lescuyer from SFR, France talked about the Spectrum challenges for LTE. SFR is by the way, second largest operator in France with nearly 20 million customers. The key factors for success of LTE would be to have 2.6GHz and UHF band to be bundled together. Also the backhaul has to be improved. The Digital Dividend band in France will be available end 2011 and there is going to be protection of broadcasting below 790MHz. The French goverment has announced the auction of remaining 2.1GHz band and started consultation in 2.6GHz band. In the 900MHz band, there is not enough spectrum for everyone to co-exist. The 2.6GHz band is good for hotspots giving 2x20MHz bands and LTE could also be deployed in the 1800 band with 2x10MHz bands. LTE 800 is another alternative but the existing antennas will have to be replaced.

Franz Seiser from T-Mobile Germany, VoLGA (Voice over LTE Generic Access). The main reason for VoLGA is because the current solutions for voice do not meet all LTE requirements. CS fallback is not good enough because of the time it takes for establishing the call and has lots more impact then originally envisaged. Also the MSC would have to be upgraded to Rel-4 for this feature to work. IMS solution is again not good enough because of high complexity; availibility and stability not feasible in time for rollout. Also what happens in case like Femtocell where CS fallback is required and no 2G/3G network is available? To overcome this VoLGA was proposed. Its the best compromise and elegant approach to solve Voice and SMS problems in LTE early.

Prof. Patrick Marsch, Technical Project Leader EASY-C, Vodafone Chair Mobile Communications, Germany spoke about the Easy-C project. Apparently, Easy-C has already been doing the things identified by the LTE-Advanced comittee. Their requirements were mentioned in slightly different terms then the standards one. For example, "Click and Bang", "Click and Wow", etc. The main aim being Inexpensive throughput, anytime, anywhere. I will look into the details later.

Thierry Maupile, VP, Starent Networks spoke about the readiness of the Core for high amounts of data traffic predicted. The main growth for mobile broadband will come by having higher bandwidth true multimedia devices, friendly devices and easy access to applications, payments, etc. By 2014, more than 4 petabyte data will be flowing through some operators. This can cause major challenges in the multimedia core as there will be a massive increase in the signalling. To overcome these challenges, simplified All-IP architecture will be required. Voice grade reliability is another important factor and so is security. Starent claims to be a leader with support for multiple technologies in the same platform. It concentrates only on the PS core and has 95+ operator deployments in 40+ countries. Its core is used by 8 of top 10 3G operators and its #1 in UMTS PS cores.

Rodrigo Cárdenas, Deputy Director of Technological Evolution, Entel PCS, Chile spoke about Deploying Next Generation Technologies such as LTE in Latin America. Chile, surprisingly ranks #9 in the number of facebook users. Since the landlines connectivity is quite limited in Latin America, mobile has good chances of growth if the pricing is correct. With some clever pricing, the mobile broadbank uptake has grown 249% recently. Even high quality mobile TV encoded at 240kbps is being delivered. In Chile, HSPA is good enough for the time being with migration to HSPA+ in near future. LTE will be useful for Corporate broadband or for HDTV on mobile. It can also be used as main broadband connection at home and can complement satellite. 2.6GHz is the main band for South America with other possibilities being 1700/2100MHz or even 700MHz.

Rick Keith, Director of Global Strategy, Motorola spoke about LTE for the Operator in an Emerging Market. There were lots of facts and stats to mention right now but the main point being that LTE can address digital divide in rural areas (developed as well as developing countries) and an early launch of LTE will open possibilities for new revenue.

Javier Sanchez, from Zain, Kuwait soke on similar topic of LTE for the Operator in an Emerging Market. Zain is present in 24 markets. It has got 62 million customers. Recently they have started the "One Network" which allows users from any of their countries to roam to other country and use the phone as local. That means the price of international calls is still local and they can even top-up using vouchers locally. '3' in UK have done something similar even though its not exactly the same. One of the thing Zain has done is that rather than subsidising devices, they have subsidised bundles. The main criteria for success according to them is to make mobile broadband more affordable for everyone. This means to create possibility of low entry price

Please note that all the details I mentioned are from my notes or memory. I havent dived into the presentations yet. When I do, I will mention things in more detail and may correct myself. In the meantime if you spot something wrong please feel free to comment.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Killer Applications or Devices

Here is my breakfast briefing presentation.

As expected, we had a very lively and interesting discussion. It is not easy for me to remember and detail the discussions but the presentation will give some idea regarding the things we discussed. I also referred to a presentation about Japanese market which is embedded below.

Please feel free to comment, criticise, suggest, etc.

LTE Femtocells: Stepping stone for 'killer apps' presentation

This is my presentation from last year. I added this because some people asked me for this. Please feel free to comment.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

LTE World Summit - Day 3 Pics

Some Pics from day 3.

This is from my breakfast briefing session.

The above are Signallion Test UE. Check the 'SORBAS Test UE' flyer here.

Thats the Signalion's test engineer running some simulations ;)

Qasara's LTE Protocol stack. See their presss release.

Everyone enjoying the break on the last day.

LTE World Summit: Day 2 roundup

I had been enjoying some delicious Thai food yesterday night and as a result didnt wake up on time for the Breakfast briefing. Adrian Scrase, the 3GPP VP started and managed the morning session. I have always enjoyed him speaking and chairing events as he is full of knowledge and quite practical about the technologies.

Hans Erik Karsten from Telenor, Norway, spoke asbout the Norway market and gave some interesting facts and figures. For example, 2% of users are using 40% of the capacity and these are the PC users. 10% of the users use 80% of the capacity. In fact one person downloaded 230GB of data in a month (flat pricing schemes ;). N95 users use 10 times the data of an average phone. From Telenor point of view, LTE is an evolutionary step. The main advantage of LTE is flexible spectrum usage. They are also exploring Femtocells and Self Organising Networks (SON) will be the key. There are many upgrade paths from GSM/UMTS to LTE but there is no single solution for all different markets. Sweden will rollout LTE asap in 2.6GHz and 900MHz in future. Norway will be 2nd.

Julius Robson from LSTI (and Nortel) spoke about Industry wide trials and IOT. LSTI have now done real world analysis rather than the peak rate analysis and there were lots of interesting facts and figures that I will dive in later.

There has been lots of mention of refarming of 900MHz band and 'Digital Dividend' band. It was mentioned couple of times in the Panel discussion as well. Deploying LTE in 1800 band is not favioured by some as it wont provide much advantage over the 2.6GHz band regarding the coverage. Nakamura-san from NTT DoCoMo mentioned that none of the operators in Europe use Tx-Diversity and it is possible that MIMO will be deployed selectively in higher bands initially. There is a new initiative in Femto forum to open up Femtocell API's to third party and we may see in future that these API's may be opened up on Macro cells as well. See this blog post I did earlier.

Paul Steinberg from Motorola discussed about the cost and capacity. Again lots of facts and figures that I will dive in later. Interesting fact mentioned was 75% of users watch online video. According to him, LTE satisfies capacity and decreases TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). One of the advantages of OFDM is that there is no cell breathing (unlike WCDMA), there is SON and spectral efficiency is 3-4x. He also mentioned about the green advancements that Motorola have achieved. They are able to show 8x reduction in power requirements. There was some discussion about the bands and they think the first bands to be used would be 2.6GHz followed by 800, 900, 700 (Digital dividend bands which are different in different parts)

Doug Wolff from Alcatel Lucent talked about the US market. He mentioned that Verizon and AT&T has 60% US coverage. I will have to go in detail on this one later.

Adrian Scrase talked about 3GPP release 8 features and mentioned about the other main non-LTE features in Rel-8 namely ETWS, eCall amd ICE. I have talked about ETWS here and ICE here. Will discuss eCall in a future post.

Stephen Hayes from Ericsson talked about Rel-9 features. There are lots of things I want to talk about but it will have to wait for another post. I have already mentioned some of Rel-9 features here but will have to update the list soon.

Takehiro Nakamura from NTT DoCoMo talked about Release-9 and LTE Advanced and about Relay features in LTE Advanced. This presentation will probably end up on my LTE-Advanced page.

Charles Brrokson who is ETSI Security chair spoke about security in LTE and Rel-8 and how its different from UMTS. Its too technical to be covered in this post.

Giovanni Romano from Telecom Italia in Italy talked about their strategy and plans in Italy. He mentioned that there are already 1409 HSPA form factors available and hence they plan to have atleast 80% coverage in Italy for HSPA first. Later they have to think about moving either to HSPA+ or to LTE. The move to LTE will also depend on if Spectrum decisions have been made and the status of LTE device test certification.

Finally, Eiko Seidel spoke about LTE-Advanced and Rel-10. Will have to wait for another post though.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

LTE World Summit - Day 2 Pics

Here are few Pics that I took today.

The R&S CMW 500 is seen to be doing MIMO testing with LG UE. The throughput was reaching upto 60Mbps.

Thats the LG LTE UE being used by R&S.

Thats the Anritsu MD8430 LTE Network Simulator and MD8435 UE Simulator. They were showing throughputs of 100Mbps DL and around 45Mbps in UL. The RTD tool (I am going to cover that in a seperate blog in few weeks time) can be seen on top right.

Anritsu engineer working ;)

Tektronix simulators. Apparently they have a solution for everything from drive testing to Femtocell test equipment. Hopefully more later

I also went to Ericsson Demo/Roadshow for LTE, HSPA and IMS Technologies. Unfortunately they didnt allow anyone to take any photographs.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

LTE World Summit - Day 1 roundup

Before we start, I should mention that there have been no discussions showing LTE is better than WiMAX, etc. It is now assumed that WiMAX is no longer a threat and a competitor. There is also missing a discussion on Femtocells. I suppose that some Femto related discussions are planned for day 3.

I am going to cover the discussions in detail in the coming days (months) but here are some interesting tidbits.

It started with a presentation from Marc Fossier, France Telecom. An interesting fact about France he mentioned is that 40% of voice traffic is VoIP. They are present in 30 countries (generally by the name Orange) and they have 128 million customers. LTE rollout is planned for post 2011. They will be deploying WiMAX in some markets like Romania and some African countries. The main reason being that there is no 3G network there. Another key point of his presentation was that Mobile TV should be independent of the technology being considered and TDD works fine for that. Also SON (Self Organising Networks) will be very important feature that is needed when LTE is rolled out.

Klaus-Jurgen Krath from T-Mobile Germany gave T-Mobile statistics of 148 million customers and revenue of 9.2 Billion Euros. One of the things he mentioned is that at 2.6GHz, the cell radius is 0.3Km but if we move to 800MHz then the cell radius is around 3Km. Personally I am not sure if the frequency is something we should worry too much about. WiBro in Korea is I think using 2.3GHz and is working fine. Another thing mentioned is that the Backhaul is generally quite bandwidth limited so that needs to be improved. The operators should use Microwave or Fiber to overcome this backhaul problem. LTE Migration will also take time and initially it would be the third layer on top of GSM and 3G/HSPA but by 2020 it should be dominant technology. Right now Voice and SMS problem has to be solved asap. Personally I think SMS is not much of a problem and SMS can work on CS as well as PS. Operators can use SMS over PS for the moment. Femtocell according to Klaus is very important for LTE but Femtos will be successful only if they are Plug and Play for both operator and the consumer. His final point was that we should not dissapoint the customer by showing the peak rates, rather we should focus on average rate.

Ulf Ewaldsson from Ericsson mentioned that 80% of broadband subscribers by 2014 will be mobile. Another thing he said is that for LTE, it is possible to deliver 1GB for < 1 euro. (Capex only). Ericsson vision is that by 2020 there will be 50 Billion mobile broadband connections. Ericsson will be ready with LTE soon and by the year end peak rate of 42Mbps will be possible.

Alex Sinclair from GSMA talked on expanding the LTE ecosystem. There were lots of interesting facts and figures that I will have to mention seperately. There was also an intersting mention of the GRX (GPRS Roaming Exchange) that will need a completely new discussion.

In the Panel Discussion, Marc mentioned that Orange is not considering Femtocells for Residential market because of many unsolved technical problems like Price, Security, Spectrum Management, etc. On the business side they may have Femto, Pico or Micro depending on the need. Ed Candy from '3' mentioned that operators should focus on Macro rather than Femto because lots of spare capacity available. He mentioned that there is a business problem because somebody has to subsidise Femto, also too many Femtos can cause RF blackspots and operational dynamics are yet to be worked out.

Elio Florina from Telecom Italia (TiM) talked about LTE and HSPA deployment in Brasil. The main point being that initially they want to have complete 3G/HSPA coverage and then in future think about LTE.

Alan Hadden from GSA mentioned about GSA activities. I was surprised to hear that only 55,000 people view their website annually. This is because a simple blog like mine regularly gets between 20,000 and 25,000 views per month. Again there were lots of stats that I will write about later. Interesting point from his discussion was about the Digital Dividend band that can be used by LTE to increase the coverage.

Dave Marutiak, Microsoft spoke about Bearer Aware Applications. Dean has blogged in detail about this.

Ed Candy from '3' in his presentation highlighted an important point about the user experience. He said that for any service, user experience should be memorable so even after 2-3 years if the user has to use the same application than he should remember how it works. I think that there are hardly any services like this except those that are intutive to use. In Dec. 08, '3' saw people using 34million skype minutes and 68 million Facebook page views. It should be remembered that Facebook phone was launched in Dec itself. His message was that '3' will not be moving to LTE anytime soon because the current network is delivering whatever is required.

Roberto Di Pietro from Qualcomm spoke about the challenges faced by the chipset manufacturers. The main challenges is due to the fact that there are millions of combinations of different bands that the UE may need to support which is not practical and possible. They are focussing mainly on 2.6GHz at the moment and when the Digital Dividend band is available then they will implement chipset in that band as well.

Jorgen Lantto from ST-Ericsson and Sami Jokinen from Nokia gave their views on chipsets and handsets implementation respectively. According to Nokia, LTE handsets will be available by 2010. Initial deployments will be in FDD but later in TDD-FDD both.

Liesbet Van der Perre from IMEC discussed about the SDR implementation for LTE devices. Her presentation was more of updates on the previous IMEC info I have covered here.

Finally, I managed to squeeze myself into an Agilent workshop called 'LTE at the movies'. There were two parts to that 'MIMO MIA' and 'Honey who shrunk my mega bits'. The workshop lated 2.5 hours and I got a free Agilent LTE book. Lots of technical details that I will post seperately.

Please feel free to comment or correct me if I made any mistakes. You can also read Dean Bubley's take on the first day here.

I shouldnt finish without thanking the organisers who have done a good job in organising the event and for such wonderful hospitality (and food :).

LTE World Summit - Day 1 Pics

We had an interesting first day at the LTE World Summit in Berlin. There were no breaking news though. Summary coming in the next post after the Pics.

The lunch was sponsored by Starent Networks. Here is a Pic of their cake. Nice cake but I dont like chocolate cake. I would have preferred strawberry ;)

This above is Agilent's test mobile that can be used for drive testing.

Agilent has a massive and impressive presence here. I attended their workshop yesterday, will report the details later.

Ericsson are showing off the new TEMS that can be used for LTE drive testing, etc.

mimoOn are showing their Test Mobile and their complete solution for eNodeB, etc.
Very interesting to see LTE Test Mobiles from 3 companies already available.

Setcom is a new entrant (even though they have been present for long time but I never heard of them before) in Network Simulator area. They have plan to do Conformance tests for the LTE mobile. They claim to be ready already with basic test functionality. Till date the Conformance test market have been dominated by Anritsu, Agilent (Anite), Aeroflex and R&S. I have already heard of AT4 Wireless being active in this area for LTE. It would be interesting to see one more player.

Monday, 18 May 2009

In Berlin for LTE World Summit

Just a day in Berlin to look around is not enough, especially if you are a bit tired due to your journey. I managed to go round to few places though and Berlin does look like a place that need to be explored.

Here are some photographs from Berlin:

All the above photographs are from The ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, destroyed by Allied bombing in Second World War and preserved as a memorial

The final pic is of the Berlin Aquarium. Maybe the next visit, I will go and check it out.