Saturday 12 December 2009

SQUARE: From the founder of Twitter

From CNN:

Twitter creator Jack Dorsey Wednesday gave the first public demonstration of his hotly-anticipated latest venture -- a device to allow credit card payments by cell phone -- and revealed it would be given away for free.

Details of "Square" -- a card reader which plugs into the headphone socket of most mobile devices -- have been circulating on the Internet since it was announced earlier this month, but little has been known about how it works or who it was aimed at.

However, Dorsey -- whose microblogging Web site has proved hugely popular but not hugely profitable since launching in March 2006 -- gave no explanation on how he would make money from his new creation, beyond revealing there would be a per-transaction charity donation.

Square, a tiny cube about an inch in length, contains a magnetic strip reader that allows users to swipe and read credit cards, then deduct payment on or offline through a downloaded application that communicates with card issuers in the same way as retailer devices.

Customers then use their finger on the phone's touch-recognition screen to sign their name to the transaction.

Dorsey, Twitter's co-founder and chairman, says the device, scheduled for launch on iPhones and iPods in March 2010, was inspired partly by the "immediacy, approachability and transparency" of Twitter and by the global economic crisis which has exposed a need for a radical rethink of the financial sector.

Thursday 10 December 2009

VoLGA = 1, other VoLTE = 0

From Unstrung:

Deutsche Telekom Announced First Voice Calls over LTE with VoLGA. Deutsche Telekom announced today the world’s first voice call over LTE with excellent speech quality based on VoLGA (Voice over LTE via Generic Access) technology and two independent test environments.

Calls have been made between a test system, installed at Deutsche Telekom Headquarters in Bonn, Germany which is based on a VoLGA implementation of Kineto Wireless and a second totally independent system from Alcatel-Lucent, installed in their test center in Stuttgart, Germany. Both VoLGA-based Voice over LTE systems support inbound and outbound voice calling and SMS messaging between LTE-enabled devices and standard mobile and fixed telephones.

With this result Deutsche Telekom underlines the innovative leadership in the development of Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN), as it belongs to a series of tests through which the company consequently researches the capabilities of the potential NGMN technologies.

“Voice calling is an essential service for mobile operators. This demonstration is a key milestone towards establishing a future proof eco system and shows a cost efficient way for using voice over LTE”, stated Uwe Janssen, Senior Vice President of Core Networks. “The VoLGA test shows how operators could quickly and easily provide next generation voice services, re-using their existing core networks. At the same time this serves as a first step to prepare networks for the industry-agreed mid- and long-term solution for voice over LTE that will be based on IMS.”

In other related news from Fierce Wireless:

Ericsson has dropped its support for the VoLGA Forum, which promotes Voice over LTE via Generic Access, dealing a blow to the voice-over-LTE approach a little more than a month after the vendor signalled its enthusiasm for a different standard.

Erik Ekudden, Ericsson's vice president of technology and industry, said that when the VoLGA Forum was established earlier this year "we had the impression that VoLGA would become a global solution." However, "there are no signs that it [VoLGA] will be strongly supported" by mobile operators, he said in an interview with Unstrung.

Picture Source: Into Mobile

Wednesday 9 December 2009

Location Based Systems/Services Presentations

Interesting presentations from Cambridge Wireless on LBS:

"How do we Make Location a Desirable User Experience?"

Click on the titles below to view the provocateurs' presentations and the notes from the three group discussions -

Introduction from Colin Smithers of Plextek

Group 1: Technology - Presentation by Adrian Swinburne of Quintaxiom + Faciliator's Notes

Group 2: Context - Presentation by Kurt Lyall of Xgenta + Faciliator's Notes

Group 3: Privacy - Facilitator's Notes

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Where does mobile go next

Another interesting presentation "Where does mobile go next: lessons from the past, clues to the future" by Professor Joe McGeehan of Toshiba TRL available here.

Monday 7 December 2009

How to build more powerful mobile web

Interesting presentation from Google here.

ZigBee and Short Range Wireless Overview

Couple of interesting presentations are available on the Cambridge Wireless website for Short range Wireless technologies and ZigBee.

The First one, "ZigBee® Applications in sub-1GHz Frequency Range" is available here.

The Second one, "SHORT RANGE WIRELESS OVERVIEW" is available here.

The above is an interesting chart from the second presentation showing the comparison of different short range wireless technologies.

Thursday 3 December 2009


Nokia publicly underlined its commitment to broadcast-mobile-TV standard DVB-H with the recent unveiling of the mobile TV edition of the Nokia 5330 and its pretax, presubsidy price tag of €155 (US$230), after some in the industry had questioned its enthusiasm for launching new DVB-H devices. Nokia also quelled any suggestions that it might start supporting the MBMS standard with its future device launches.

The price is a massive drop from the €550 price tag carried by Nokia’s last fully DVB-H-compatible handset, the N96, which launched in 3Q08. So the official line from Nokia is this: “All is well on the good ship DVB-H.”

Read more here.

Meanwhile, In China, China Unicom has launched 3G telecom services in 268 cities across the country, said Li Gang, another deputy general manger for Unicom Group, noting that the WCDMA network supports a 14Mbps download data transmission speed and a 7.2Mbps upload data transmission speed.

Notably, the carrier has adopted the most advanced R6 technology in its core WCDMA network to smooth a WCDMA-to-EPS migration in the future, according to Mr. Zhang.

The China Unicom network is expected to support MBMS and HSPA+64QAM technology in the first phase of a further evolution, shore up a HSPA+MIMO technology in the Phase II evolution, and prompt a LTE technology in the Phase III evolution, said Mr. Zhang, adding that the network will present a 100Mbps download speed and a 50Mbps upload speed after the Phase III evolution.

Read more here.
Back in September, Orange Moldova announced the launch of the world's first mobile telephone service offering high-definition (HD) sound. The service will provide customers with a significantly improved quality of service when making calls. Unlike for other mobile technologies such as multimedia capabilities, this is the first time since the 1990s that mobile voice technologies have been subject to a significant evolution.

This is the second step in Orange’s HD voice strategy, following on from the launch of a high-definition voice service for VoIP calls in 2006. Over 500,000 Livephone devices have already been sold in France and the range will be extended to other Orange countries over the coming months.

The first mobile handset integrating high-definition voice capability that will be launched by Orange Moldova is the Nokia 6720c. This innovative handset integrates the new WB-AMR technology, which is widely expected within the industry to become a new standard for mobile voice communications.

Thanks to the Adaptive Multi Rate-WideBand (AMR-WB) codec, double the frequency spectrum will be given over to voice telephony over traditional voice calling. Orange boasts that the result is "near hi-fi quality" and "FM-radio quality", which seems an odd comparison.

Wednesday 2 December 2009

Upto 25 million mobiles in trouble in India

I blogged about the Shanzhai phones earlier and mentioned that since they dont have an IMEI, they can cause problems for the security officials and India was considering banning them.

Now, this has finally happened. Mobile phones without the code were blocked at midnight - operators were asked to bar calls to them "in the wake of increased threat perception from militants".

The absence of this number makes it impossible to trace either the caller or the phone or to access call details.

Indian intelligence agencies say phones without the code have been used in attacks by militant groups.

The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is a 15-digit code which appears on the operator's network whenever a call is made.

It is estimated that India has more than 25 million phones without codes. Phones with no codes or invalid numbers are mostly cheap, unbranded phones. Millions are manufactured in India or imported, mostly from China.

If you're one amongst the estimated 25 million users with such phones and wish to have the phone in working condition again, (in case yours went offline as well) there is a legal way of doing it. The government has authorized some organizations to legalize your illegal handsets by assigning an approved IMEI number to it. The GII (Genuine IMEI Implant) program involves a short trip to the nearest GII outlet, paying a nominal Rs. 199 fee to have your phone legalized.

In major cities, you can visit The MobileStore outlets to get this done. You might also want to contact your operator if they have arranged for any such facilities. For those interested in The MobileStore program, all you need to do is to call 6000 63 63 to figure out the nearest outlet where your Chinese phone can get a new lease of life

The MobileStore claims to have successfully done over 30,000 IMEI implants in over 60 cities.

Femtocells to grow from 0.2 million units in 2009 to 12 million units in 2014

From Qualcomm's QMag:

Femtocell shipments will grow from 0.2 million units in 2009 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 127 percent to 12 million units worldwide in 2014, according to analyst firm Berg Insight.

In the U.S., 14.8 billion video clips are viewed online every month with an average user viewing time of 356 minutes and a consumption of 680Mbps (ComScore); in the UK, the average monthly consumption per user is 1.3Gbps(ComScore). This online trend is now migrating onto mobile. According to AT&T, data represented 27 percent of revenues in 1Q09 compared to 21 percent in the same period the previous year, with streaming audio and video accounting for 31 percent of network traffic.

In developed markets(Coda Research Consultancy), much of this mobile data explosion is generated by smartphone users, where the average year-on-year growth of mobile data per user is between three and five times.

“We need to drive down the cost per bit in operator networks while also meeting the rocketing demand for mobile broadband services, which is putting too much pressure on HSPA and HSPA+ networks,” said Simon Saunders, chairman of the Femto Forum. “We need a change and that is where femtocells have a major role to play.”

It is a change driven by the operators’ need to meet growing user consumption. Saunders told QMag that 90 percent of mobile data usage is indoors. “Because the data user experience is directly correlated to the quality of that signal, it makes sense to place femtos indoors where signals are weakest and therefore the user experience is poorest,” he said.

Questions are now being raised by mobile operators about whether macro networks will scale to meet the rapid upsurge in mobile data demand. In addition, coverage holes caused by building shadows and building penetration losses are limiting the performance of wireless networks indoors.

“Femtocells bring the network supply closer to the demand for services, and in the process, provide excellent signal conditions and high data throughput,” said Nick Karter, senior director of business development at Qualcomm.

Karter said operators confronted with capacity concerns will require substantial capital expenditures to improve macro network performance to support its heaviest users. However, operators can target their CAPEX in both the enterprise and residential environments by providing their heaviest users with femtocells. This will ease network congestion on the macro network and reduce backhaul capacity needs. In the process, femtocells can deliver indoor throughputs and peak rates well in excess of 1Mbps.

Similarly, Saunders is confident that the return on investment from femtocells will be considerably higher than a macro network upgrade path.

“Operators are starting to realize that the investment required to provide free femtocells to heavy data users is far lower than trying to achieve the same outcome with macro network upgrades,” he said. “Femtos deliver better voice quality and a vastly improved data experience at a cost no other technology can match.”

He claimed that 20 percent of homes in the UK have inadequate coverage for voice and data. In July, Vodafone UK became the latest operator to deal with the existing issue of mobile coverage at home using femtocells when it launched its Vodafone Access Gateway – targeting homes and small office locations. The UK operator positioned the service as delivering “more reliable 3G coverage indoors” and providing improved voice calls and faster data downloads.

Vodafone UK was the first European operator to launch a femto service, following similar announcements from Sprint and Verizon Wireless in the U.S., NTT DoCoMo and Softbank in Japan, and StarHub in Singapore. “These operators are the pioneers, and we will see more femto launches before the end of the year from other big operators,” said Saunders.

The Vodafone Gateway is available on a monthly tariff of £5 or a one-off cost of £160, while Verizon charges US$250 Femtocell shipments will grow from 0.2 million units in 2009 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 127 percent to 12 million units worldwide in 2014, according to analyst firm Berg Insight. (£157) for its Wireless Network Extender device. But as both Karter and Saunders explained, the costs are expected to be incorporated by operators as femto becomes a central component in the fight against churn. “Femtocells are creating a very sticky service for the consumer by providing operators with the ability to create differentiated offerings,” Saunders said.

Not only does femto have the additional attraction of being able to work with all 4 billion mobile devices operating around the world, it can deliver location-, context-, presence-, and user-based information.

Femto could deliver premium, bigger apps to the device when the user returns home and the device switches from the macro network to the femtocell. “When users are out and about they can use basic multimedia services,” Saunders explained. “However, when they arrive home they can use the femto to access far higher bandwidth services and synchronize their handset quickly and at zero cost with all of the media stored on their home network.”

As Saunders notes, femto is still in its evolutionary phase and requires key players such as Qualcomm to build on the standardized products in large volumes by delivering the silicon to femto-friendly vendors.

“We all need to draw on a common base of components,” Saunders said. “So we’ve been looking at femtocell devices and network gateways and started to harmonize design based on standards. This will allow consumers and operators to choose from a wider range of products as well as bring costs down through economies of scale. If it’s cheaper overall to deliver and it provides a better service, then everyone wins.”

Tuesday 1 December 2009

Experiences and Lessons from Early Femtocell Deployment

From IEEE Communications Magazine, September 2009:

There is a continuous pursuit by mobile operators (MOs) to improve indoor coverage in order not only to improve voice quality but also to enable higher data rates in home/office environments. Indoor coverage improvement, in conjunction with inexpensive (voice) offerings, will enable MOs to compete with and take away voice-call-related revenues from fixed network PTTs and/or VoIP operators. Femtocells constitute a promising solution to address all of the above. In this article we present our experience from our extensive study and trials of early (pre-standard) femtocell solutions that were available in the 2007-2008 timeframe.

Our as well as other operators’ involvement and experience with pre-standard femtocell solutions has revealed some of their early drawbacks that restrained them from massive-scale commercial launches. However, the accumulated experience from all these trials as well as the recent standardization activities in 3GPP/3GPP2 will lead to a new generation of standardized femtocell solutions and raise the expectation for commercial market success for
operators and vendors alike. It is envisaged that initially, femtocells will be utilized for coordinated coverage extension purposes (e.g., public areas) and niche markets (high-value customers, enterprise packages), rather than mass market commercial offerings. Upon the advent of standardized 3G-femto solutions, the increase of competition at FAP level (models, volume availability, cost reduction) will contribute to the extensive commercialization of femtocells, which will be further boosted by the introduction of LTE home Node-Bs.

The complete paper is available here in pdf format.