Tuesday, 11 August 2009

What is going to be 5G ?

I suppose its pretty pointless to talk about 5G because LTE also known as 3.9G is not yet deployed. Nevertheless, I saw various discussions about 5G in various forums recently.

Just to recap, LTE or 3.9G will take DL speeds upto 300Mbps and UL to around 75Mbps. LTE-Advanced also known as 4G will take the speeds upto 1Gbps in slow mobility scenario and and in high mobility the rates could be upto 100Mbps. So what about 5G?

Well honestly its too difficult to forsee and speculate the rates 5G would provide. In fact 5G may be a completely different paradigm and use another yardstick to measure technological progress. Infact the ITU has moved away from the 'generation' concept and even though its accepted that LTE-A is 4G, its not referred to as 4G by ITU. ITU does not mention 4G anywhere in its next generation acronyms. The term used is IMT-Advanced.

So lets speculate what 5G could be.

I think 5G will be more about reliability and convergence of technologies. Imagine a phone with upto 8 MIMO's and simultaneously its using dfifferent technologies. So a user is connected to the web using multiple technologies and at any instant of time he is getting multiple streams from different sources. When one of these sources fail then the other technology can simply take over and provide the connection. In a simple case if we map this to today's technology then we would have one antenna connected to HSPA, one to WiMAX, one to WiFi, one to UWB, etc., etc.

Hopefully IMS (or another similar technology) will become reality much earlier but even if it doesnt then hopefully by the time 5G will arrive its already operational. Mutiple devices can be connected by the same contact and presence rules can control them. It can help with other services like Messaging and PoC.

Television streaming should become completely seamless and it should be possible to provide 100's of channels without any spectrum limitations.

The cell sizes can become extremely large and cells can have say 80% overlap but there would be no interference. This would even give opportunity to have Femtocell like devices that can provide coverage for say upto a kilometre and it would cause no interference. This should also help get rid of cell-edge rate problem and can help avoid congestion, capacity crunch, etc.

Cloud computing can hit the mobile technology as well and the phones can do amazing things withouth much of the power required. A bit like the 'sixth-sense' technology case where the computation power is in the cloud and the phone is just a device to connect to the web. Infact the cloud concept could be extended where different gadgets can become part of the cloud so maybe your refrigerator can be processing your data if you are near it or maybe you television is if you are near it. The end user should not be aware and shouldnt care as long as his job is getting done.

I suppose when these many features will be available in a technology then the applications can do amazing stuff, only creative developers will be required to come up with new and amazing innvovative ideas.

These are just ideas, please feel free to add yours.

Ps: And ofcourse we would need support to Voice and SMS ;-)

Monday, 10 August 2009

SMS Ads: Earn Money or Get Discounts

Sometime back I wrote about SMS becoming cheaper in many parts of the world and that can lead to a deluge of SMS SPAM. Last week I read about someone arguing for SMS Ads:

The mobile advertising market is growing in size at a prodigious rate, but in absolute terms, is still tiny in value compared to other media such as print, broadcast and online. There is a perception within the advertising industry that the mobile space is a difficult one to address, with limited inventory and reach, compromised display banner ad formats, and a lack of metrics to provide proof of a return on investment.

To a certain extent, these criticisms are valid, with some factions of the mobile marketing industry having something of a blinkered ‘WAP banner ad’ mentality. But there are alternative formats that address many of the current needs of the advertising world: chief amongst these has been known to users, providers and advertisers alike for decades – the SMS text message.By injecting targeted adverts into existing SMS service messages (or indeed using the whole SMS for a marketing message) and, crucially, providing an interaction mechanism that is measurable on a per-advert, per-user level, SMS advertising addresses the key needs of advertisers and marketers, namely:
  • High volumes of inventory – there are billions of service SMSs sent globally each day.
  • Reach – the ability to receive and interact with SMS is ubiquitous: every mobile phone has this ability and hence all users can be reached with campaigns.
  • Targeted – such a personal medium as the mobile phone allows for highly contextualised advert delivery based on a wide range of parameters, including the content of the service message, location, time of day and other user information.
  • Measurable – the ability to determine exactly how many individual users click to interact with the advert (either click-to-call or click-to-mobile site) provides not only a measurable ROI for the campaign, but the opportunity to inform future ad delivery on an individual basis.

The preconception of SMS advertising is of mobile spam: sending the same message to (an often unqualified) list of mobile numbers. True SMS advertising, and where the most value lies for all involved, is in delivering the most appropriate contextualised advert for a (known) user at a given time, based upon as wide a range of parameters as possible, and providing measurement of interaction rates for the campaigns. In this scenario, SMS represents premium advertising inventory, achieving effective CPM rates in excess of £100 – many times that of other mobile display advertising formats – either on a straightforward volume or a cost-per-click basis.

The winning combination of personalised delivery and measurement of individual consumer interaction with adverts offers the prospect of extending the advertiser’s engagement with the consumer through the cycle of attracting, engaging and retaining them as a customer. By linking individual consumer’s responses with customer service or CRM systems, a richer picture of their preferences can be built to drive increased relevance of future adverts and improve loyalty. The direct interaction mechanism offered by a ‘click-to-action’ mechanic in an SMS offers an easy to use customer acquisition method – a consumer can be connected directly to an existing call centre or further product information, without being required to remember or re-enter any details.

There are different approaches in case of SMS based advertisement. A simple approach is to offer customised discounts on certain products where the user can take a SMS voucher and get a discount on certain products. Another approach becoming popular in India and China is to get paid for receiving SMS Ads. In Japan and Korea, users can receive QR codes that they can take to a shop and obtain discounts.

A similar but slightly varying approach is Bluetooth based proximity marketing. Here the user is sent ads over Bluetooth when he/she is in a certain area and a Bluetooth ads server is available to pump ads. In this scenario its is simple choice for the user because he can decline the ad. Also Bluetooth can be switched off thereby avoiding nuisance of receiving ads over Bluetooth.

So some people may be interested in SMS ads and discounts and maybe somepeople may become Millionaires by receiving lots of SMS's but for majority of the people this may be more of an annoyance rather than the promised boon. In case of Emails you have a filter where SPAM can be filtered out but maybe difficult for SMS. Ad based SPAM maybe something that can kill off SMS as people may find a way to switch off SMS on their phones to avoid unnecessary interruptions and text messages.

Already in different partss of the world, the legislators are acting against SMS SPAM. There is already an SMS SPAM Act in Australia for long time. In USA the Senators want to ban the SMS Spam. I am not sure where EU and UK stand on this issue. Hopefully this is one issue where everyone will act together and hopefully wont be much of a problem in future.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Multi-Standards Radio Base Station (MSR-BS) in 3GPP Release 9

I wrote about Future Mobile Terminals earlier which will probably be Multiservice, Multinetwork and Multimode. A similar approach would be needed for the network side. 3GPP is working on Release-9 feature of Multi-Standard Radio (MSR-BS). The 3GPP Spec 37.900 is not yet available but a draft should be available soon.

Research and Markets have already released a report arguing about the benefits of MSR-BS. Last year Ericsson released the RBS 6000 series products that has MSR support. Huawei and Nokia Siemens Networks are also working on similar products under different guises. Martin has blogged about this topic as well earlier in case you want to refer to.

According to Research and Markets report the terms used for this technology is Multi-Standard Radio Base Station (MSR-BTS/MSR-BS), Multi-Mode Radio Base Station (MMR-BTS/MMR-BS) and Multi-Radio Access Technology (Multi-RAT). The name in standards usually is MSR-BS.

So what is MSR-BS? The 3GPP definition is: Base Station characterized by the ability of its receiver and transmitter to process two or more carriers in common active RF components simultaneously in a declared RF bandwidth, where at least one carrier is of a different RAT than the other carrier(s).

In very simple terms, a single Base Station will be able to simultaneously transmit different radio access technologies from a single unit. So a unit may be for example transmitting GSM, WCDMA 2100 and LTE 2600 simultaneously.

The number of technologies supported by a BTS will be an implementation choice. With technology maturing it wont be surprising to have upto 4-5 different technologies in a MSR-BS in the next five years.

The advantage the mobile operator will have will not only be monetary but there will be possibility of space saving. But as the old english proverb says, they will be "putting their eggs in a single basket". If one unit stops working then the coverage in the area goes down. There may not be an option to fallback on different technology.

The way this MSR-BS are implemented will be definitely based on Software Defined Radios (SDR). The advantage with SDR will be that in different parts there is a slight frequency variation for different technologies like GSM-850 is specific to USA whereas the rest of the world uses GSM-900. These small variations will easily be customisable with these MSR-BS and optimisations wont be too far off.

Different Band Categories have been defined for different scenarios. For example Band Category 1 involves deplyment where GSM wont be present. Only LTE and WCDMA is present there. Band Category 2 involves frequency bands where GSM, EDGE, WCDMA and LTE may be present. Band Category 3 is designed with TDD and TD-SCDMA in mind.

More information as and when available

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Simplicity of LTE and its differences with UMTS RRC

LTE is gaining pace as the days pass by and everyday we hear some sort of milestone achieved by some company towards the ultimate aim of LTE product. RRC is one of the main components of Layer in the LTE protocol stack just as it was in UMTS. Certainly LTE RRC looks simpler in terms of the no of states and off course the length of the RRC document. Below are some of the important changes in LTE RRC and its difference with the UMTS system.

RRC State: In LTE there is only 2 RRC states i.e. RRC_IDLE and RRC_CONNECTED whereas in UMTS system RRC has a 5 state i.e. IDLE, CELL_FACH, CELL_DCH, CELL_PCH and URA_PCH. One of the reasons why we don’t have CELL_FACH and CELL_DCH state is because there is no concept of common and dedicated transport channel in LTE. In LTE the data transfer will be done through the defined shared transport channel. Therefore this will simplifies the RRC State machine handling and improves RRC performance. This will also simplify the RRM algorithm which decides RRC states.

Signalling Radio Bearers: In LTE there is only three SRB is defined i.e. SRB0, SRB1 and SRB2 whereas in UMTS system RRC has 4 SRBs i.e. SRB0, SRB1, SRB2 and SRB3 (optional).
SRB 0: In LTE SRB 0 use RLC TM entity over CCCH logical channel in DL whereas in UMTS system it SRB 0 is sent on RLC UM entity over CCCH logical channel in DL.

MAC entity: In LTE there is only one MAC entity which needs to configured whereas in UMTS system there is 4 different MAC entity based on different type of transport channel i.e MAC-d (DCH), MAC-c/sh (FACH, DSCH), MAC-hs (HS-DSCH) and MAC-e (E-DCH). In UMTS system the state machine which is handling MAC configuration is quite complex. During state transition from CELL_FACH to CELL_DCH or CELL_DCH to CELL_FACH lots of signalling was involved. In LTE, since there is only one MAC entity which is easier and simple to configure and thus have very simple State Machine.

Radio Bearer mapping: In LTE Radio bearer mapping would be much simpler than the UMTS system because of there is no common and transport channel defined in LTE.
In LTE there is no RRC connection mobility defined like cell update and URA update.

Domain Identity: In LTE, there is only one domain identity i.e. PS domain and which is implicit no need to specify anywhere in signalling unlike UMTS system which has CS domain and PS domain. Because of a single domain in LTE the signalling overhead and complexity in RRC design has been reduced.

System Broadcast Information: In LTE, MIB includes a limited number of most frequently transmitted parameters and SIB Type 1 containing the scheduling information that mainly indicates when the SI messages are transmitted where as in UMTS system, MIB includes the frequently transmitted parameters was well as scheduling information.

Channels: In LTE RRC there is no need to define the downlink transport channel configuration in the RRC Reconfiguration message as it uses only shared channel. This will reduce signalling message size effectively. All DL-SCH transport channel information is broadcasted in system information.

Power Consumption: The above point introduces another very critical feature of DRX calculation since all DL data is on the shared channel. E-NB can tell the UE when to decode/listen over the radio frame. This will optimize UE power consumption.

Paging Type: Since there is no CELL_FACH and CELL_DCH state in LTE there is only one type of paging required where as in UMTS system there is two type of paging defined.
Reconfiguration: In LTE there is only one reconfiguration message to reconfigure all logical, transport and physical channel where as in UMTS system there are number of reconfiguration message i.e. RB reconfiguration , TRCH configuration, PHY configuration. Thus there is less signalling message or overhead in LTE for the reconfiguration.

Reduced Latency: Since there is no RNC or NBAP protocol in LTE, this reduces the latency of the RRC connection establishment and RB management procedure.
Single UE identity: Since there is only one shared MAC entity, there is no need to define URNTI, ERNTI, HRNTI, SRNTI etc in LTE.

No Activation time: In LTE, there in no need to define activation time. Because of this there are lots of synchronizing complexity in 3G-RNC systems i.e. Synchronizing Radio link procedure based on activation time, synchronizing between the various MAC entity. This reduces significantly latency during establishment and reconfiguration of radio bearers.
RRC State: In LTE, there in no need to specify the RRC State in RRC message.

CQI Reporting: For network control mobility, there is one feature which become very important and critical i.e. CQI Reporting. As in LTE the CQI reporting should be fast and correct for taking decision for mobility.

Signalling connection release: There is no signalling connection release procedure in LTE, since there is only one domain i.e. PS domain. Also the UE context is shared between the MME and ENB and if UE is active in ENB then it should be active in MME also.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

3GPP Demystified

3GPP held a workshop in June called 'The 3GPP Seminar': All you always wanted to know about 3GPP but were too afraid to ask.

The following topics were covered:
  • Introduction to the Third Generation Partnership Project
  • Meetings of the technical groups
  • Writing contributions which count
  • Rules and regulations
  • Following the work
  • Preparation of meetings
    • a guide for chairmen
  • The Work Plan
  • Work Items
  • Numbering scheme for TSs and TRs
  • Drafting and maintaining the Technical Specifications
  • The Drafting Rules
    • 3GPP TR 21.801
  • Change Requests
  • Hints for Getting Results
    • a guide for chairmen
  • Elections and voting
  • Funding
  • Legal

You can download/view the presentations on the 3GPP site:




12 megapixel Sony Ericsson Satio coming next month

What can you do with a 12 megapixel camera in the phone? I for sure would be doing 'Megapixel Microscopy' and probably click 4-5 photos in a year.

Sony Ericsson recently announced Satio which provides you access to all your media in one place – just tap directly into your favourite features with the five standby panels and you’re ready to go. First introduced in Barcelona as the ‘Idou’, Satio puts the future of mobile entertainment in the palm of your hand. You can watch your favourite movies on the bus or catch up with your TV shows while on your lunch break thanks to Satio.

“With Satio you can enjoy any form of entertainment anytime, anywhere. Whether its music or movies you will never be more than a tap away from your favourite tracks or shows,” said Fredrik Mansson, Market Business Manager at Sony Ericsson. “Just tap directly into your favourite videos and music with the unique full touch media menu, standby panels and music player. Snapping perfect pictures also just got so simple thanks to the 12.1 megapixel camera, intuitive touch focus and Xenon flash. Share them with your nearest and dearest via your social networking site, produce huge prints and you can even comment directly on your images.”

Download exciting music, movies and games from PlayNow™ arena to personalise your entertainment experience on Satio and enjoy them in crystal clear 16:9 widescreen format. PlayNow™ arena provides a full range of mobile entertainment available by dual download to both your PC and mobile phone with specially developed ring tones and music tones and DRM-free music tracks and TrackID™ charts from around the world.

The Phone has 7.2Mbps HSDPA and 3.6Mbps HSUPA capability. There is a different model for US, China and the rest of the world. Thankfully it comes with 8GB SD card so you wont have to worry about transferring your images after every 10-15 photos.

The phone is going to be available in Sep 09 in UK and probably elsewhere.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

'Sexting' craze catching on in UK as US teen hangs herself

Eighteen-year-old Jessica Logan had it all. She was bright, pretty and popular. Her mum Cynthia describes her: "She was vivacious, she was artistic, she was fun, she was a good kid."
She was completely in love with her boyfriend but one day she sent him a text, a nude photo of herself, to show him how much she cared.

When they broke up he sent the picture to hundreds of teenagers in their town in Ohio to get back at her.
Jessica's friend Lauren Taylor told reporters: "She was being attacked and tortured. "When she would come to school, she would always hear, 'Oh, that's the girl who sent the picture'.''

The bullying spiralled out of control and Jessica began skiving off school. In June last year she couldn't take it any more and killed herself.

I wrote about 'Sexting' some months back and sure its become much more popular and dangerous since then.

According to the charity Beatbullying, one in three 11-18 year olds has received a "sext" – a sexually explicit message sent by phone or email – and girls are regularly being bullied into taking and sharing explicit photos of themselves. There is also a fear that these images may be falling into the hands of sex offenders. It is time for this private practice taking place on the tiny screens of children's mobile phones to be brought to light in the public domain.

The schools minister (UK), Diana Johnson, said children who were facing sexual bullying should tell a teacher. "We are committed to tackling all forms of bullying – including bullying using the internet and mobile phones, and sexual bullying," she said. "It is important that young people being bullied know that they can report it and that it can be stopped.

Maybe in couple of years we may have 'Minister for Mobile Communications' in UK or US to handle such problems :-)

Monday, 3 August 2009

Didnt I tell you, phones are too complicated ;)

As the former head of the British army, General Sir Mike Jackson oversaw a range of regiments armed with some of the most complex weapons and technology ever invented.

But yesterday, the general was left embarrassed live on television after he was defeated by a ringing mobile phone.His phone went off twice during an interview with the BBC's economics editor Stephanie Flanders, who was standing in for Andrew Marr.

Jackson was talking about compensation given to wounded soldiers when the mobile began to ring.

Flanders told the general: "You'll have to turn that phone off." Jackson apologised and after sheepishly fumbling with some buttons, managed to silence the call and put the phone in his pocket – only for it to ring again.

As he tried to turn it off once more, technology appeared to get the better of him.

In the end, Jackson lost his patience, turned around in his seat and flung the handset off camera across the studio in exasperation. After the sound of a heavy crash rang out, he returned to face Flanders and the interview with as straight a face as he could manage.

Now even Texting can be dangerous :-)

Police say a truck driver was texting on one mobile phone while talking on another when he slammed into a car and crashed into a swimming pool.

Niagara County sheriff's deputies say 25-year-old Nicholas Sparks admitted he was texting and talking when his flatbed rescue truck hit the car in Lockport, which is outside Buffalo.

The truck then crashed through a fence and sideswiped a house before rolling into an in-ground pool.

Police say the 68-year-old woman driving the car suffered head injuries and was in good condition. Her 8-year-old niece suffered minor injuries.

Sparks was charged with reckless driving, talking on a cell phone and following too closely.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

iPhone Apps and the Smartphones's Apps war

Smartphones had done amazing this to the consumers in the past couple of years especially after the launch of iPhone. These days there is immense concentration on the development of quality applications Application which can lure the customers in real time and are useful to them. I remember initially mobile games created similar kind of furore but I personally believe that this is different. These days application are developed not only for fun sake but also providing the customers some really value added service.

iPhone certainly is leading in the race in this regard and application developers are hugely receptive to the ideas which can be translated into a iPhone application.

Lance Stewart is one such person who came up with the idea of latest iPhone application called Tube Exits.
It came to him when he was trying to get out of Oxford Circus tube station in a hurry. Anybody who’s has experience the London’s train station during th rush hours knows very well that you find yourself behind a huge crowd of people blocking the way to the exit.

After experincing similar this Stuart thought that what he needed was to get the jump on the crowds by knowing which carriage he should board to arrive at the platform exit. If he somehow knew, for every station platform on the London Underground network, which carriage would arrive at a station next to the platform exit, he would never be stuck behind foot-dragging tourists or daily commuters again.

He thought it would be good idea to put all this information into the form of an iPhone application for other commuters. Dreaming of making something out of it he compiled the information for more than 700 platforms at London Underground's 268 stations. As he was not the person who can develop the app of his own so together with the collected information he approached an apps developer with his idea.
The outcome of this Stuart’s initiative and idea was the Tube Exits app for iPhone which was launched on 16ht June and has become very popular since then.
The app comes in two versions: One is free but only gives you the information for the Underground's busiest 12 stations; the other costs £1.79 and covers the whole network. This price is probably a price of a zone 1 ticket, but you could use it again and again.

Stewart is now involved in developing a similar app for the Paris Metro and sees no reason why his original idea can't be applied to other metro networks around the world.

Tube Exits is just one of an estimated 100,000 apps that will exist by the end of this year. Most of the apps these days are mobile applications designed to be used on Smartphones such as iPhones or BlackBerrys.

Recently the apps industry has grown exponentially where the total number of Apple's App Store downloads only recently passed the 1.5bn mark.

The App Store's success is huge incentive for Apple and is really giving a tough time to its competitors such as Research in Motion (who make BlackBerrys) and Nokia (the world's biggest mobile phone maker). The App Store's staggering success has led nearly every maker of a smartphone operating system to mimic Apple's business model: make it very easy for smartphone users to buy or freely download software created by from third-party developers.
Indeed Apple has become an icon phone and at the moment Apple has something of a stranglehold on apps e.g. Tube Exits can only be used on Apple mobile hardware (ie iPhones and iPod Touches).

What's especially striking about apps is how quickly they have become popular and are the real money spinners for smartphone companies specially Apple. I remember it very well when the iPhone was launched, there were many sceptical voices. It was too expensive, too readily nickable, too much of a triumph of what techies could do over what customers wanted to be for it to be a success. Apps have changed all that where Apple gets a significant chunk of revenue from the sale of its Apps. Apple is smartly doing what Microsoft has been doing until now, binding the applications and software to its products.

Apple is also not leving any stone unturned in fighting for the superiority of it’s application. This can be best provide by Apple recent victory in front of the advertising watchdog, with a ruling that it is free to claim its iPhone applications store is superior to a rival service offered by Google.
The Advertising Standards Authority rejected complaints from fans of Google's G1 smartphone that a TV ad for Apple's App Store was misleading.

"Yep, there's an app for just about anything," a voiceover in the advert said. "Only on the iPhone."

The days ahead will be interesting and messier in terms Smartphone companies claiming for smart and beautiful apps.