Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Greener Base stations are must for the future

Its while now since the launch of the femtocell, the small box in the home that links to the broadband network and provides a mini base station for 3G phones to improve coverage and provide some interesting new services.

UK certainly is positioned well in femtocells which are lead by two companies - ip.access in Cambridge and Ubiquisys in Swindon, UK. PicoChip in Bath is another company which is providing silicon for the vast majority of the 3G femtocell rollouts.


But there is now significant competition, both from new divisions of companies such as Pirelli, established telecoms companies such as Sagem and Alcatel-Lucent (who have joined together to provide the Vodafone femtocell) and large players such as Huawei of China which ships equipment to 60m broadband subscribers and is a major supplier to the Chinese mobile operators.

However there is new factor which start to develop from the past year or so, i.e the factor of energy costs. It’s not a secret for anybody how energy process has soared in the past few years and now the telecoms are getting affected by this as well. Energy costs, both to build and run mobile networks, are getting increasingly important. Operators use a phenomenal amount of power, 400GW - or 200,000 tons of carbon - and over half of this is on the radio access. While this seems a lot, this equates to 25kg per user, or the same as an hour's drive on the motorway.

There is now research in place in order to study the whole energy chain, from the carbon cost of building the base stations, macrocells and femtocells, to the running costs.

In my view after looking at the femtocells especially at the Green Radio at the Wireless2.0 conference in Bristol recently, it's not clear whether femtocells are a lower energy solution, even though they provide a way of filling in the network at lower cost for the operators. Having a mini base station in your home obviously brings the access point closer for the mobile phone and hence the power consumed may be less. Bit how much of this is true I don’t know.

There is no doubt that energy factor is going to have a significant impact on the design and manufacture of femtocells and traditional mobile phone cells. If, as expected, the market takes off with millions of devices, this is going to have a huge energy cost.

As mentioned by Nick Flaherty in his blog that the carbon emission will also be a challenge for the home grown suppliers to provide low energy solutions, both in operations and also in the manufacturing to provide truly green radio. And this will help the UK expertise and innovation drive green radio technologies and processes into the industry.

There is no choice for the companies to look for the alternative and green solution. As costs of deploying solar and wind power falls and energy costs rise, carriers have started looking toward green cell sites.

Once such company who is taking a lead in this prospect is Alcatel-Lucent. It’s planning to have alternative energy-powered cellsites matches that of electrically powered cell sites, which could prompt a new wave of solar-and wind-powered base stations, even in areas where an electrical connection is available. In my opinion there is no other way round as the cost of traditional energy is increasing manifolds (together with carbon emission), the price of green technology falls and networks become more efficient, using alternative energy to provide all or part of the energy at cell sites is becoming less prohibitive

Alcatel-Lucent has been working with alternative energy in wireless for five years, but it has deployed only 300 sites, mainly in Africa and the Middle East until now, which rely entirely on alternate fuels. But in the last year especially after the recent recession the alternative energy solution become a priority which resulted in a surge in interest in those technologies.

Every body in this credit crunch are finding means to cur the cost and the operators are looking to avoid the enormous costs of transporting diesel to their remote cell.

The recession has certainly given some momentum to the alternative energy cell sites and there is no doubt acceleration towards this genuine cause.

This is purely simple Economics as Electricity is a large part of an operator’s operational budget as it feeds massive quantities of power to a highly distributed network of cell sites to support not just the base station power amplifiers and radios on-site but also the air-conditioning units necessary to power them. The increase in energy costs is being largely offset with the increased power efficiencies of most vendors’ equipment. The huge site cabinets are now getting replaced with compact modular base stations, which not only consume less power but also require far less cooling. The current generation of equipment has cut power consumption between one-third and one-half. Many new radio systems also are coming equipped with energy-saving software, which powers down the base station during non-peak hours or when relatively few customers are on the cell.

Current economic climate and energy efficiency factor will definitely serve to promote green energy sooner rather than push it off to a later date. Furthermore as the market for alternative energy solutions grows in other industries the cost of the technology goes down for telecom, sending the price of solar panels and wind turbines down. Combining the above trend together with regulatory and political environments the alternative energy solution is imminently favorable as a green solution.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Indian subscribers getting taste of Mobile Broadband

Lots of interesting developments are happening in India at the moment. The first and the most basic being MNP or Mobile Number Portability finally becoming a reality. For the first time users will be able to move operators and retain their number. This will change the way the users will use their phones. For example most users use their mobiles as secondary phones for making calls while they give their landline numbers to important people. The reason being they are not sure how long they will stick with the current operator. If they change the operator they will get a new number. I think that this will definitely change with MNP.

MNP is not the only thing. Many operators and equipment manufacturers are waiting for the 3G spectrum auction for some time now. The auction was recently postponed for variety of reasons. The auction will let the private operators to bid for the spectrum and they can decide if they want 3G or WiMAX or LTE. The state run MTNL and BSNL have already launched 3G and in Northern India but there have been not many takers yet. Maybe the people are but sceptical right now or maybe the lack of devices. The other thing is that people are maybe not sure if the technology they invest in will be around tomorrow or not.

MTNL is keen to experiment with WiMAX but it does not want to do it alone. There are many companies in India that have developed WiMAX protocol stacks so it may be a boost for these generally small and medium sized companies if WiMAX is deployed by MTNL. The only problem with WiMAX is that there are hardly big global names with any WiMAX devices/equipment. As a reult the prices could be higher and the consumers may have less choice. 3G and LTE will help in this scenario. Qualcomm for example is already looking forward to getting a big chunck of the Indian market.

India has a very big pool of keen technologists and they will whole heartidly embrace mobile broadband and the variety of apps/mobiles but only when they know that there will be stability and reliability. Once the ball starts rolling then the snowball will turn into an avalanche. The question is not if, but when.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

DoCoMo and Verizon on track for LTE

Verizon Wireless said Friday afternoon that it has completed "successful data calls" at its Long Term Evolution (LTE) test sites in Boston and Seattle.

The data transfers were made over the 700 MHz LTE networks in Verizon's first two major city test sites. Boston and Seattle are expected to be the first two cities that will go live commercially with the pre-4G technology early in 2010. Those cities each now have 10 LTE 4G cell sites up and running on the 700 MHz spectrum.

Verizon isn't yet talking about the data connection speeds. "Everything is as the team expected... But because this is a very controlled environment we don't want to put a number out on the market yet," says company spokesman, Jeff Nelson.

This has pretty much been Verizon's stance throughout -- it doesn't want to talk about test numbers that might not have much relevance on the real networks. Tests have shown connections at anything between 50 Mbit/s to 8 Mbit/s.


NTT DoCoMo has been under intense competitive pressure in recent quarters, as the Japanese market saturates and new players enter the game. Its quarterly results showed a 15.1% decline in net profit to ¥147.4bn ($1.56bn), on revenue down 7.3% to ¥1,085 trillion ($11.46bn), even as rival Softbank enjoyed a 41.4% increase in profits on a slight revenue increase.

The main problem for DoCoMo was lower voice revenue amid increased competition and low cost tariffs - from KDDI and Softbank and also new entrant eMobile, which focuses on flat rate data services. The cellcos are engaged in a price war, which has forced all of them, especially Softbank, to launch cost cutting programs.

DoCoMo reiterated plans to launch LTE services next year, though it is pushing the deadline as far as possible - to December 2010 - determined not to have to rely on pre-standard equipment as it did for 3G with its FOMA platform. Its first roll-out will be targeted at PC cards, said CEO Ryuji Yamada, and will be extended to dual-mode 3G/LTE handsets in 2011. By 2014 it plans to provide LTE service to 50% of the population from around 20,000 base stations at a cost of between ¥300bn and ¥400bn ($3.2bn to $4.2bn).

The Japanese service will initially be aimed at PC users, with DoCoMo offering card-type terminals for laptops, said Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo at a Tokyo news conference. It will be expanded to include handset terminals from 2011, he said. Those terminals will be dual-mode devices that use LTE networks where available and fall back to 3G networks to provide nationwide coverage.

By 2014 the carrier plans to provide LTE service to 50 percent of Japan from around 20,000 base stations.

DoCoMo plans to invest between ¥300 billion and ¥400 billion (US$3.2 billion to $4.2 billion) during the first five years of the roll-out, said Yamada.

NTT DoCoMo was the first carrier in the world to launch a commercial 3G wireless service based on WCDMA but based on its LTE roll-out it will likely be beaten this time around by carriers in other countries.

Verizon Wireless has said it plans to launch a 60Mbps trial LTE service in two U.S. cities in late 2009, to be followed by a commercial service in 2010. European carriers are also getting behind the technology with several tests under way or planned on the continent. TeliaSonera has said it will build a commercial LTE network in Stockholm, Sweden, and in Oslo, Norway.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Kenya gets Solar Charged Phones



Kenya is home to at least 17 million mobile-phone customers, but only one million have regular access to electricity, making it difficult to recharge a mobile phone.


But the first solar-powered handset could change Kenya's telecommunication industry.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Shanzhai Mobile Phones: 'Bandit Phones' or 'Fake Phones' from China's Wild West



Have you heard of these brands called NokLa, Samsung, Nukia, HiPhone, etc. ? These are the 'fake phones' manufactured in China.

In 2008, an estimated 150 million, or 20 percent, of the 750 million handsets produced in China were either counterfeit or off-brand phones, according to CCID Consulting, a market research firm based in Beijing. Of those, over 51 million were sold in China while the remainder were sent to foreign markets.

Known here as "shanzhai ji", or bandit phones, China's gray market handset industry was virtually non-existent just a few years ago. While a handful of illegal companies produced black market mobiles, they often were of poor quality mainly because the technology needed to make them was hard to come by and even harder to master.



This all changed in 2005 when Mediatek, a microchip design company from Taiwan, developed what experts call a turnkey solution -- a platform that integrated many complex mobile phone software systems onto a single chip. This made it much easier and cheaper to build handsets and churn out new models at astounding speeds.

"[Mediatek] basically commoditized the entire market," said Jonathan Li, founder of Shanghai-based technology design studio Asentio Design. "They made it really simple and really cheap to make your own phone. Almost anybody could do it."

The shanzhai business got another boost a couple of years later when the Chinese government relaxed regulations limiting the number of companies that could manufacture handsets, lowering the entry barrier for hundreds of entrepreneurs eager to have a piece of the world's biggest mobile phone market.

"It is so easy to do because this whole ecosystem is in China," said Weaver. "It isn't so complex for a guy to figure out by watching how the global supply chain works in the mobile handset space to do his own thing."

By 2008, an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 shanzhai businesses had emerged, many with fewer than a dozen employees operating in offices sometimes comprised only of a back bedroom in a small apartment or basement of a private home. Some blatantly copy major brands, producing knock-offs with slight twists in their names, others come up with special makes of their own.

Either way, the shanzhai phenomenon has not gone unnoticed by legitimate handset manufacturers. The gray market phones, which typically sell for around $100, have already driven down the prices of brand name mobiles and are beginning to take away their market share, too.

"You cannot compete with them. You can't," said an employee of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei Technologies who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "It is almost impossible to make a profit [from handsets] now because of shanzhai."

Some manufacturers, like Nokia, say they are working with the Chinese government to crackdown on the counterfeiting companies as well as raise awareness about the potential dangers of the fake phones, some of which have had exploding batteries or expose consumers to abnormal amounts of radiation.


The market for Shanzhai cell phones lies not only in China, but also in the surrounding developing countries in Asia or even third world countries in Africa and Latin America. They identify overlooked/underserved market segments by incumbents like the rural areas and focus on these segments. The outstanding sales performance of Shanzhai cell phones is usually attributed to their low price, (usually lower than $50), multi-functional performance and imitations of trendy cell phone design. Although Shanzhai companies do not use branding as a marketing strategy, they are known for their flexibility of design to meet specific market needs. For example, during Barack Obama’s 2008 U.S. presidential election campaign, Shanzhai cell phone companies started selling “Obama” cell phones in Kenya, with the slogan “yes we can” and Obama’s name on the back of the cell phone. They also designed “Bird Nest” and “Fuwa” cell phones in light of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Who gains from Shanzhai Phones?

None of the stakeholders seem to gain from these low quality phones.

The phones are low in quality and do not necessarily follow the safety standards. Most of the times, the radiations from these phones are beyond the permissible limits and can cause serious damage to the health of the consumer. The FCC has adopted limits for safe exposure to radio frequency (RF) energy. These limits are given in terms of a unit referred to as the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which is a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone. The FCC requires cell phone manufacturers to ensure that their phones comply with these objective limits for safe exposure. Shanzhai phones do not follow the SAR norms.

Most of the Chinese handsets have dual SIM slots and allows the consumers to put SIM cards of two different operators. This means that operators would have to share their ARPU with other operators and the competition would lead to lower ARPU and multiple SIM phenomena

The Shanzhai phones do not pay any taxes of regulatory fee resulting in revenue losses to Governments across the world wherever they are sold. Even the Chinese government is in a fix now as the exports benefits given out to these handsets are over claimed. Moreover, since the Shanzhai phones do not have an IMEI number, there is an increased threat from terrorists as it is very difficult to catch a terrorist who uses a mobile handset without IMEI

According to Taiwan's National Communications Commission, people who sell or buy "Shanzai" mobile phones via the Internet or in electrics marts will face a fine of up to NTD300,000, which is about CNY60,000, in Taiwan.

According to reports in Taiwanese local media, NCC recently stated that under the Administrative Regulations on the Controlled Telecommunications Radio-Frequency Devices, Taiwan residents should bring no more than five "Shanzai" mobile phones from the overseas markets at one time and the number should be limited to two if the mobile phones are sent by post.

According to reports in Indian local media, the India government has decided to set stricter quality limits to imported mobile phones, dairy products, and toys and these measures reportedly target China.

The reports quoted the director of the Foreign Trade Bureau of India by saying that from now on, mobile phones without International Mobile Equipment Identities should not be imported to the Indian market, which means Chinese-made "shanzai" mobile phones will not be available in the country.

Check out some more photos here and here.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

August 2009: Mobile TV Roundup



Qualcomm is slowly building content for its Flo TV mobile service for cell phones with the recent announcement that Discovery Communications launched a Shark Week Mobile Channel.
Discovery Channel’s Shark Week programs are scheduled to air on the
Flo TV service through Aug. 14.

Flo TV uses the analog spectrum previously occupied by television broadcasters, and offers programming from several of the large network brands. Flo TV President Bill Stone says he envisions expanding the service from cell phones to cars and other consumer electronics products.

Flo TV, however, is not the only mobile TV service. AT&T CruiseCast launched a satellite-based television service in cars June 1.

CruiseCast, which is really an AT&T logo slapped onto RaySat Broadcasting equipment and services, offers 22 TV channels and 20 satellite radio channels. Its satellite antenna is a fat disc the size of a Bundt cake affixed to the roof of a vehicle.

The service costs $28 a month, plus $1,300 for equipment, which requires certified installers who charge an additional $200-$300, says Jim Llewellyn, who demonstrated the service July 31 in San Diego.


If you feell you're missing out on The Ashes action, you can now watch the Ashes for free on your W995.

A 3-month pass for the Sky Mobile TV service now comes bundled with the device exclusively on the 3 Network.

With the service, you can watch eight made-for-mobile channels that use highlights content from the Sky Sports 1, 2, 3 and Xtra channels. You’ll also be able to watch live matches right on your W995 too.

Australian cricketers Glenn McGrath and Matthew Hoggard appeared at the launch of the new bundle, and McGrath expressed his thoughts on the new bundle, saying ”the Sony Ericsson W995 on 3 is a real must for any dedicated cricket fan. To be able to access crucial games via Sky Mobile TV on the go, especially when a tournament like The Ashes is on is invaluable to me.”

After the initial 3-month period, Sky Mobile TV will cost you £5 a month. So, while the savings aren’t amazing, amounting to a whopping £15 in total, it’s still a great feature to have right now if you’re a cricket fan.



Testing of free mobile digital TV for cell phones, netbooks and other on-the-go devices is ramping up in the weeks ahead, and the first devices that can provide such broadcasts should be on store shelves by next year, according to the broadcaster-based group behind the effort.
"Just like you turn on your TV today at home and watch live and local broadcast television, you will turn on your handset and be able to watch live and local broadcast television," said Anne Schelle, executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition.

Trials are underway around the country in cities such as Chicago, New York and Raleigh, N.C. The biggest test pond will be Washington, D.C., where broadcasters have the attention of what may be the nation's most powerful audience — politicians. "We already have two stations on the air there, and we'll have the rest of our stations on air by next week," said Schelle.

Cell phones are probably the largest single group of devices that could receive local TV programming.

"There are 250 million of them out there," said Schelle. It's not clear whether wireless carriers are as enthusiastic.


MobileCrunch has picked up an interesting story from AV Watch - who themselves have spotted a USB tuner that plugs in to your TV, and then streams out 1-Seg (that’s a Japanese TV standard) formatted TV that your iPhone/iPod Touch can pick up via an App running over WiFi. Nice.

The iPhone has been at somewhat of a disadvantage for a time, because unlike a lot of other phones in Japan, it can’t natively pick up a TV signal - Japan is one of the places where Mobile TV has worked (but there are a number of specific reasons for that….), so this little bit of kit solves an issue for people who need their TV fix.

The USB device is called the SEG Clip, and is sold by I-O data it follows a previous device that was more of a standalone unit from Softbank Mobile - that one was it’s own receiver, transmitted the data by WiFi, but also double as an extra battery if you plugged it in to an iPhone.



WISH-TV today announced the expansion of its mobile offerings to include a new application for BlackBerry smartphones. This mobile application is the latest addition to 24-Hour News 8’s fully synchronized television and digital offerings that are available free of charge at www.wishtv.com .

WISH-TV unveiled its iPhone custom application with great popularity and much success in May 2009. In addition to these specialized applications, 24-Hour News 8 is also available via any web-enabled mobile device.

LIN TV , WISH-TV’s parent company, in conjunction with News Over Wireless (NOW) has developed the custom BlackBerry smartphone and iPhone applications for each of its 27 local television stations. Six LIN TV stations, including WISH-TV, launch the BlackBerry smartphone service today. LIN TV is the first in its local markets to provide instantaneous and on-demand access to its local news, sports and entertainment, as well as video, weather forecasts and traffic reports to BlackBerry smartphone subscribers.

Six LIN TV stations launched the BlackBerry service last week, including WISH-TV, WAVY-TV, KRQE-TV, WANE-TV, WALA-TV and KXAN-TV. LIN has been among the more aggressive broadcasters in the deployment of its content over nontraditional platforms.

Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS) has made its Hindi, Marathi and Bengali news channels -- STAR News, STAR Majha and STAR Ananda -- available on the mobile TV platform.

The content of all three channels will be streamed live, including the ads that appear during the news programmes. The content will be available on the 3G networks of MTNL and BSNL. However, the company claims that their mobile TV option will also be made accessible to subscribers of other telecom operators, who offer 2.5G services.

Currently, only two mobile operators -- BSNL and MTNL -- offer 3G services in India. The video content delivery process is faster on 3G mobile networks, as compared to 2.5G.

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.