Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Monday, 29 June 2009

Complex LTE IPR System


Markus Münkler, Vodafone Group R&D spoke about IPR Regime for LTE @ LTE World Summit, Berlin

Progress since 2005
•ETSI has improved visibility of standards essential IPR across its membership
•NGMN Ltd has produced indications of the total royalty burden of candidate technologies LTE & WiMAX
•Placed IPR royalty rates in the middle of the next generation mobile economy debate
•Raised the IPR discussions to the attention of the EU and other regulatory bodies
•Built a legally sound platform of trusted collaboration among technology stakeholders

Interim conclusion
•IPR transparency has improved among engaged industry stakeholders
•However, new challenges have emerged from outside the technologydevelopers
•Therefore, IPR royalties remain a stumbling block on mobile technology developments

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Firefly for British Kids



A new mobile designed for kids, the Firefly phone, is set to launch in Britain later this year, but the four year-old target audience already has adults in uproar.

The Firefly phone, a tiny handset for toddlers which packs just five buttons including “Mum” and “Dad” keys, and extensive parental controls, has been a hit in Ireland, and it set to go on sale in the UK later this year.

But the phone has caused concern amongst parental groups, with Aine Lynch, chief executive of the National Parents Council going so far as to question “where parental responsibility is going”.
“Why would kids need to be contacted by mobile phone? Why are they not in the care of their parents, teachers or supervisors?”, she said.


Indeed. Still it could be amusing to see nursery lessons interrupted by the Nokia ringtone, and we’ve seen tweens rocking iPhones before so perhaps a controlled environment is better than nothing at all. And certainly more appropriate than the Penis phone. We’ll let you know if the Firefly phone leads to the downfall of civilization or not.


Surprisingly this phone was announced couple of years back, I cant see why its taking so long.

The French have already said no to such phones but we Britishers are much more tolerant (in all aspects ;) so you may find children using them soon.

Tim Dowling from the Guardian argues against it:

There can be no earthly reason why a child of four would need a mobile phone, but there must be dozens of reasons why it shouldn't have a Firefly. Here are just a few:
  • It is not possible to conduct a fruitful phone conversation with a four year old, as you will know if you have ever tried.
  • Four-year-olds rarely, if ever, have information to impart of such significance that it cannot wait until they are five.
  • A Firefly costs £60. Without a sim card.
  • Your child should always be in the company of a responsible adult who has a phone you didn't have to pay for.
  • A four-year-old with its own phone will spend all day attempting to contact Pocoyo.
  • Four-year-olds never hang up.
  • 52% of children between the ages of five and nine already own a mobile. Chances are you will have to buy the child a phone next year anyway, and they won't want a pink toy that doesn't do YouTube.
  • If you don't know where your four-year-old is, there's no point in ringing him. He doesn't know where he is either.
  • For much less money you can get tiny T-shirts with your phone number and the word REWARD printed on them.
  • Four-year-olds are enough trouble as it is. The last thing we want to do is give them is the means to organise.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Femto Forum Awards 2009: Winners and Losers

The Femto Forum, Femtocells award for 2009 were announced at a dinner on Wednesday,24th of June. Here are the names of the finalists and the winners:


1. Femtocell or femtocell network element design and technology innovation
• Bewan Systems - Femtocell residential gateway
• ip.access Ltd - nano3G
• Motorola Inc - Digital picture frame
Winner: ip.access Ltd - nano3G Enterprise Solution.

The nano3G represents an evolution of the femtocell into the enterprise environment. Not only does it support the 3GPP's new femtocell standard, it also represents a step up in coverage and capacity.

2. Femtocell service (commercial, prototype or demo)
• ip.access Ltd - Facebook virtual fridge notes
• Softbank Mobile Corp - IMS-based Femto trial
• Ubiquisys Ltd - Podcast sync
Winner: ip.access Ltd - Facebook virtual fridge notes.

The service implements a "classic" application use case - where the subscriber receives a reminder message when arriving at home - but with an innovative extension that enables the message to be composed and sent using Facebook.

3. Progress in commercial deployment (vendor or ecosystem)
• NEC Corporation - Commercial contracts and live trials
• Softbank Mobile Corp - Metro area trial
• Starent Networks/Airwalk Communications/Cellcom/Mavenir Systems - Multi-vendor femtocell solution
Winner: NEC Corporation

This recognizes NEC's strong traction in the market with several commercial contracts in place and several live trials underway with operators around the world.

4. Significant progress or commercial launch by a large carrier
• Softbank Mobile Corp - Launch
• Sprint Nextel Corp - Launch
• Vodafone Group Services Ltd - Trial
Winner: Sprint Nextel Corp.

This recognizes this commercial launch, which was the world's first commercial deployment of femtocells.

5. Significant progress or commercial launch by a small carrier
• Cellcom - Launch
• Chungwa Telecom Co Ltd - Launch
Winner: Cellcom.

For Cellcom’s deployment of the world's first IMS-based CDMA femtocell network for consumers and enterprises.

6. Contribution to femtocell standards (individual or company)
• Alcatel Lucent - General contribution to femtocell standards
• Nokia Siemens Networks - General contribution to 3GPP femtocell standard
• Taka Yoshizawa - Contribution to femtocell management standardisation
Winner: Taka Yoshizawa, Thomson

For his pivotal role in defining the femtocell management specifications by working through the Femto Forum, the Broadband Forum and the 3GPP.

7. Enabling technology (components, subsystems, modules etc.)
• Epitiro - Femtocell test suite
• Kineto Wireless Inc - Femtocell gateway controller
• picoChip Designs Ltd - Optimized system-on-chip solution
Winner: picoChip Designs Ltd -picoXcell™ PC302 SoC.

This optimized system-on-chip, which supports the 3GPP's new femtocell standard, embodies five years of femtocell experience, comprehensive interoperability testing and numerous real-world deployments.

8. Social vision - use of femtocells for social / economic / environmental development
• Alcatel Lucent - Consumer research into femtocell usage patterns
• Sagem Communications - Ecodesign
• Softbank Mobile Corp - Niimi project
Winner: Softbank Mobile Corp - Niimi project.

The project illustrates how femtocells can be cost-effectively deployed to deliver services in rural environments where existing coverage is limited.

9. Award for individual contributions to Femto Forum activities
• Chris Cox of ip.access - For coordinating the FemtoZone at Mobile World Congress
• Chris Fenton of Telefonica-O2 - For achieving architectural consensus in the Network & Interoperability working group
• Taka Yoshizawa of Thomson - For leading the Management subgroup to completion of TR-196
• Aya Mukaikubo of Softbank Mobile - For wide-ranging contributions to the Marketing & Promotion and Regulatory Working Groups as well as the Services Special Interest Group
• Dave Nowicki of Airvana - For leading the business case modeling work to an outstanding conclusion
• Alan Law of Vodafone & Chris Smart of picoChip – For coordinating the interference management white paper.
Winner: Chris Fenton of Telefónica-O2

For achieving architectural consensus as chair of the Femto Forum Network & Interoperability Working Group.

“The judges were extremely impressed by the high quality and number of award submissions which reflect the health and innovation of the femtocell industry,” said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum. “The femtocell industry is rapidly evolving as major advances are made in the technology, standards, services and applications - these awards recognise and reward this progress. Our congratulations to the winners and to all those who participated.”

The awards were open to the whole industry and were judged independently of the Femto Forum by a panel of distinguished analysts, journalists and industry experts, chaired by Professor William Webb, Head of R&D at Ofcom.

The judging panel comprised:
• Chairman of the judging panel: Prof. William Webb - Head of R&D - Ofcom
• Dean Bubley - Director - Disruptive Analysis
• Michelle Donegan - European Editor - Unstrung
• Caroline Gabriel - Head of Research - Rethink Wireless
• Peter Jarich - Research Director - Current Analysis
• Aditya Kaul - Senior Analyst, Mobile Networks - ABI Research
• Phil Marshall - Senior Research Fellow, Technology Research - Yankee Group
• Mike Roberts – Principal Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media
• Sam Samra - Senior Director, Technical Programs - CDMA Development Group
• Adrian Scrase - Vice-President - 3GPP

The Future of Mobile Content, TV & Entertainment

Interesting presentation

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Operators give Femtocells Thumbs up in Femtocells World Summit

AT&T Inc. has announced that it will launch femtocells nationwide by the end of the year, expanding the trial launch it’s been running since January.

"We will expand that into a marketing trial of the AT&T-branded 3G Microcell, which will be open to customers through our AT&T stores ... in a handful of cities,” said Gordon Mansfield, AT&T's executive director for radio access network delivery, speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London. "We're on track for a full national launch by the end of 2009."

He also said the carrier was exploring ways to expand the femto opportunity beyond simply selling standalone home base stations that offload cellular backhaul from the macro network and boost bandwidth for cellular users. For instance, integrating a femto into other devices in the home.

Meanwhile, Vodafone UK 's surprise femtocell service launch announcement yesterday won't force T-Mobile International AG 's hand to launch a rival service in the U.K. or in any of its markets.

The German giant is sticking to its femto guns and does not feel compelled to take on the largest mobile operator by revenue with a commercial home base station service of its own, simply because Vodafone was first to market in Europe.

"We won't be pushed by that announcement," said Klaus-Jürgen Krath, T-Mobile's senior VP of radio networks engineering, speaking on the sidelines of the Femtocells World Summit in London today. "Let's see how they do in the market...

"There is not any firm launch plan that I can disclose now," he added.

T-Mobile has been busily testing and investing in femto technology for the last few years, but the operator maintains that there are still technical and marketing issues that need to be resolved before a consumer mass market solution is possible.

T-Mobile is a strategic investor in access point vendor Ubiquisys Ltd. and femto chip startup Percello Ltd.

According to French mobile operator SFR , France is a tough market for femtocells.

And one of the issues that makes the country extra special in Europe is the growing public concern about the health risks from cellular antennas and handsets, according to Guillaume de Lavallade, director of network marketing at SFR, who was speaking at the Femtocells World Summit in London.

WiFi hotspots have been disconnected in public libraries; there have been court actions to prevent the installation of cellular masts or have them removed when they're close to schools or homes; and the national government is investigating the health risk associated with masts and handsets, explains Lavallade.

"Introducing femtos in France in this environment is raising these questions," he says.

You can explain that the emitted power of femtos is 10 times less than that of WiFi, comparable to a DECT phone, and that 3G handsets emit less power when connecting to the femto than on the macro network, or that a network based on a femto architecture generates less power than a macro architecture, he says.

"It's difficult for an operator to take those facts and figures to the consumer," he says.

SFR has been trialing a femto from Ubiquisys Ltd. , which was
spotted on a French Website recently.

SatNav need an integrated solution

Satellite navigation has evolved significantly in the past decade and the technology is now used in almost every walk of the life. Every body uses the satellite navigation to reach to certain destination.

But imagine that you have a navigation tool or gadget which acts as your own personal travel guide. It has satellite navigation, so when you get into your car it can direct you to where you want to go. It can choose the most carbon-efficient route and make sure you avoid crowded town centres, traffic jams and road works. It can let you know where the next petrol station is, and whether there is an Italian restaurant near your hotel. Before you arrive you will know which of the town car parks have spaces left. And when you've finally parked the car, take your guide with you and it will direct you, on foot, to your final destination.

For anyone who has found themselves stuck in a traffic jam, or has been unable to find a car park in a busy town centre, or has got lost on foot, it sounds too good to be true. Yet the technology to make it happen is already here. So why aren't we all carrying such a device in our pockets?

The question which then arises is that why the universal travel widget isn't at hand. One of the reasons for that is that several different worlds have to collide and co-operate. First of all there is a massive competition together with a huge confusion regarding the platforms in which such device can be built on. To start with we have got proprietary platforms like TomTom and Garmin, and then we've got the at least five major mobile phone operating systems.

The obvious competition between these different platforms has instigated some suspicion but apart from this the mobile companies also have yet to ¬recognize the potential of phones as navigation devices.

You can argue that many mobile phones are already GPS-enabled but in my opinion this doesn't necessary make them effective at navigation. For instance try using your blackberry as a navigation device and you’ll find that battery has quickly drained out. The mobile phone world is slowly coming to terms with the needs of navigation on mobiles, such as better ¬battery life and bigger screens. Infact GPS alone doesn't offer the precision needed to navigate pedestrians, and so to be useful needs to be combined with another positioning service such as Wi-Fi. This has been done with the iPhone, for example.

The accuracy and granularity of data used in satellite navigation systems is very critical and has to be improving all the time. The real problem lies in integration where the data needed to provide a coherent information service to a navigation device is held by different organisations in a number of different places. While there are companies that are providing some location-based information such as information about ATMs, speed cameras, train times or tourist sites but there is no company in my knowledge that offers everything.

Combining all the information and hence provided through a single device at a one point of time that information isn't going to be easy. The challenges which lies in this are not solely technical for example there's a data aggregation problem to bring it altogether, including highway changes, updates from local authorities and then there's a physical problem in gathering all that up.
Even if the above issues are solved there is still a major part of the problem which is revenue. How one would make money out of integrated Satnav device? There's a difference between what can be done technically and a viable ¬product that can be sold. How do you turn that into something that fits in a business model?"

Organisations that have valuable data rarely want to give it away for free, licences to reuse companies or government’s mapping data commercially are expensive. Similarly, there is no incentive for the Highways Agency or local authorities, for example, to share information about traffic conditions. Even the government website Transport Direct, which provides free up-to-date transport information, has restrictions on the integration of its content with other services.

So now you may realize that how trying to highlight the potential of the problem. It’s a mammoth task to bring all the above information together into one place as everyone wants their pound of flesh because everyone has developed their own data infrastructure and it's just very difficult to get them to agree.

I certainly hold the opinion that inspite of all these hiccups the demand for an all-in-one travel service almost certainly exists. People simply really want a so called integration or integrated device which can work across different ¬locations i.e. home, work, on the move etc.

It’s evident from the above facts that the emergence of a ¬genuinely integrated solution will depend on a government initiative to force public sector organisations such as Highways Agencies, Transport for London and local authorities to collaborate, or on a private sector organisation taking a ¬commanding lead in terms of developing location technologies.
Google is one such company which is creeping up with a whole series of ¬initiatives that are steadily putting the pieces in place. Best example for this is Google Maps which are now readily available on all mobile platforms and is integrated with traffic data from the Highways Agency. Not only this, the Google Maps application interface (API) allows third parties to build their own applications as well.

Google, no doubt is leading with an example in terms of it’s initiatives towards serving the customers in best possible way. Google certainly knows what the customers want which I believe a mini innovation in these current economic climate.

Location has always been such an absolutely fundamental framework for our lives, and we inevitably must embrace tools that allow us to manage that. I envisage a society in 20 years' time revolutionised by the ability to know all the location based information.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Mobile Phones too complicated



The majority of UK consumers see mobile phones as “overcomplicated and burdened with unnecessary features” according to a survey released today.

The research, conducted by mobile recycling specialist Fonebank showed 60 per cent of the 1,000 respondents find current mobiles too complicated to use. A third also cited “simplicity of use” as an important factor when choosing a new handset.

The survey comes at a time when new smartphone releases are dominating the headlines such as the N97 and iPhone 3G S.

Mark Harrison, director of Fonebank, said in a statement: “People think they care about ‘pixels’ or ‘megabits’ when in fact they just want mobiles that are easy to use. Calling and texting remain the primary functions of mobiles, with web surfing, emailing and music capabilities relatively unimportant.”

Interesting to see the same point being made as I made last month where I said that the manufacturers should not forget the people who just prefer simple things rather than the complicated apps and devices.

Report on 'Femtocell Applications Live' at Femtocells World Summit

I was at the Femtocells World Summit yesterday evening attending 'Femtocell Applications Live'. Everybody looked excited and the atmosphere looked charged with people full of energy. Earlier in the morning, Vodafone had announced that its launching first commercial European Femtocell network.

There were 12 companies showing their demo. Unfortunately I was not able to capture the complete details but here is summary of my understanding (and notes and photos).

Before we proceed further, I should also mention that Femto Forum launched Services Special Interest Group (SSIG) whose main task is to to develop a framework that will simplify the development and deployment of femtocell applications.

Demo 1: IP Access
IP Access showed couple of demo's. The first being Facebook Virtual Fridge Notes Applications and the other Femto-enabled Connected Home Applications. There was some problem with the microphone and also CDMA like interference problems (if someone in the room is shouting, everyone starts shouting and the noice level increase drowns out the useful info) so I diddnt catch the second demo very well.

The Facebook Virtual Fridge notes app demo was very interesting and I am sure that we will definitely be seeing apps like this soon. There is very good explanation on IP Access website here so I am not expanding on this.

Demo 2: Motorola
Motorola were showing their award winning Digital Picture Frame Femtocell. It combines the capabilities of a touch screen digital picture frame with femtocells and SIP soft phone. Their femto was CDMA based and are also known as CDMA 9100 series.

One of their demo was Video streaming on the mobile through femtocell where they demonstrated point to point video streaming by using electronic programming guide (EPG) and playing selectable videos in QCIF format with 5 to 15 frames per second.


Their other demo was to Demonstrate touch screen menu and features on femtocell. Here they showed user interaction capability.

Demo 3: Sagem
Surprisingly you may not find any Femtocell related info on the Sagem website but the friendly people from Sagem explained me all about their products. You can see the Joggler type device in the picture, its known as Tabbee and has been launched by Orange in France. You can read more about it here. Its known as My Home Screen internally by Sagem. There is a similar Dect device launched with Telstra in Australia, internally called as My Communication Center. Sagem is also Alcatel Lucent Partner in their Femtocell development. In the picture above you can see the big femtocell that is soon being launched and the small one in front is the next generation of the same device that is being tested right now.



Their demo included Mobile Presence where, when the mobile reaches the Femtozone, different actions are triggered. They also showed how to remotely control TV and other applications through mobile when Femtocells are present.

Demo 4: Ubiquisys, Intrinsyc, Mobica


Ubiquisys gave a demo with Intrinsyc. Keith Day from Ubiquisys made clear in the start that they do not make Apps hence they were doing a demo with others. Their first demo was Mobica Podcast Sync App where when you arrive in the Femtozone then this app downloads the latest podcasts and you can listen to them. Once setup, its fully automatic. Could be really useful for me. You can read the press release of this one here.

The Intrinsyc UX-Zone is for Android phones. Depending on the surrounding the theme (desktop of phone) changes. When you arrive at home, it will show new apps that were not visible earlier. You can read more about it here.

Demo 5: Pirelli
This was a complete new name for me as I have never heard of them before. Their website is here.
They were showing IMTV application. IMTV is IM + TV. Their demo showed two different homes having a Quad-Play bundle from their operator. With the help of 3G Femtocell and the set top boxes the two homes can interact via Instant Messaging (IM). It is also possible to share information like what one home is watching to other.

The set top boxes are designed with open API so some third party can develop apps using it.

Demo 6: Airvana
Airvana has been in leading position in Femtocells. I always see some of their Femtos being tested somewhere or the other.
They were also prodly showing off their products and the name of their partners as can be seen above and below

Their demonstration though not groundbreaking but was done very well. The concept was explained clearly and in a way that anyone can understand.

A scneario was created with the person doing demo saying that he has two daughters and whenver they enter the femtocell zone, he gets an SMS saying that they are home. If for example one of them gets their boyfriend then the person will get an alert as whenever a new user camps in the cell, he can monitor. He can also monitor the number of active users so if there is a party, he can find out. Maybe we should call them Femto Spy Apps ;).

You can also synchronise the Digital Picture frame to your mobile so that whenever the phone comes in the Femtozone, the pictures are uploaded to display automatically.

Demo 7: Alcatel-Lucent
Their Demo included a new location aware "Over the Top" (OTT) apps from Google Latitude, Geopepper, etc. This can also help in things like retail affinity and proximity marketing. Another demo was of Geo mag. A service that delivers e-mags when a user enters a Femtocell

Another demo was Home notes, a 21st century version of post-it notes, whereby you can text or e-mail your messages to a place delivered only when the user has entered the target femtocell. Somewhat similar to IP Access application mentioned above.

Demo 8: Huawei
Theirs was a simple demo of detection service. When a family member enters the femtozone, you will receive notification SMS. The other was that when the UE is in Femtozone, the handset will be updated with a list of latest services and can enjoy them with single click. By the way, their Femtocells are of different shapes which are quite interesting.

Demo 9: Thomson

They were showing Integration of a standard mobile handset (with no additional client software) into the home network and using the mobile as universal remote control connected via 3G. The mobile phone can be used to control home multimedia system in dlna environment

For handset as universal remote control, Keypad and display for an X.10 control application hosted by the Femto CPE in OSGi environment. They showed the phone switching a light in the house on and off remotely.

Demo 10: Softbank
There was a video demo showing how useful Femtocell can be in daily life. For example a person is leaving home but has forgotten to close windows, so he gets a notification just when he is locking the door. Also if some friend comes to your house while you are shopping outside, you do not have to rush back. You can remotely unlock your door for him.

Along with the demo's mentioned above, LG-Nortel was showing their WiMAX Femtocell solution.

Then there was Continuous Computing with Starent Networks and PicoChip demonstrating their successful Iuh Inter-operability.
And finally, I met heard about another company called Rakon. They make oscillators for femtocells. You can see their flyer here.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

ALU and Vodafone hit the first goal in Femtocell World Summit

We have been hearing this for over a year now about Alcatel-Lucent Femtocell being trialled by Vodafone and finally we had this good news in the Femtocell World Summit.

Vodafone has announced the Femtocell World Summit today that its launching the first commercial Femtocell based service on the 1st of July.

Many European and Asian operators have trialled the tiny indoor base stations, and have been forceful in driving standards, but commercial deployments have so far been confined to the US, where Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel are live with limited function CDMA devices and AT&T is to follow soon, using fully blown products from Cisco and the UK's ip.access. Now Vodafone, which has conducted a range of trials in various territories and with different suppliers, has delivered its always hefty endorsement by leapfrogging rival triallists like Telefonica/O2 with a live offering.

Vodafone 's move is important for the sector not because it is supporting any groundbreaking applications in the first stage - the launch is firmly focused on improved indoor signals - but because it quietens the major source of nervousness about femtos, that they are not sufficiently tried and tested for mass consumer roll-out. This has led some suppliers to argue that operators will not move beyond trials for at least another year and possibly longer, delaying the payback for vendors and other involved parties.

Vodafone is understood to be using femtocells from Alcatel-Lucent, probably the most prominent tier one wireless vendor to offer its own devices rather than badging those of a specialist supplier. ALU's products run on the architecture of UK-based picoChip, which also supplies the silicon for ip.access and others. Live roll-outs by Vodafone and AT&T will be valuable for the credibility of the whole segment, and for the sustainability of the specialist start-ups like picoChip.

I have been in the past been involved with IOT testing on ALU Femtocells so I am feeling quite pleased about this.

The Vodafone Access Gateway (VAG) as its being called will be sold for £160. Customers who pay £15 or more per month on contract will get it free.