Archive for April, 2008

Net Neutrality : “Managed Internet” vs “Free-use Internet”

AT&T Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Jim Connoni, warns that by year 2010, internet will hit full capacity. Says Connoni : “Eight hours of video is loaded onto YouTube every minute”. Whew. That sounds almost ominous. How will internet traffic flow – countless businesses, corporations not to mention daily lives of people would be effected. Well may be, I am exaggerating a bit. By that time, the truth is that our capable internet backbone providers would have added tremendous amount of bandwidth firepower in preparation for this coming internet congestion. Firms like Cisco are busy churning out heavy duty routers which will allow heavier and heavier load to be carried on the IP network.

Point is that firms like AT&T want to use such arguments to overcome the network neutrality camp led by likes of Google, Microsoft, video transmitters, user-generated content (UGC) and other high bandwidth hogs which run large amounts of video and content on the internet. These firms and individuals would not want to see backbone providers like AT&T charge a premium to carry their bandwidth gobbling content like YouTube videos, online gaming etc. Whereas backbone providers want to prioritize the internet where higher bandwidth users have to pay more to use the IP backbone. Internet firms like Google which thrive on high bandwidth applications like YouTube would like legislation which bans such prioritization arguing that such priority access control is against the tenets of a free internet and that all traffic must be considered equal and should compete for bandwidth. Vint Cerf, co-inventor of Internet Protocol, supports a light legislation to ensure net neutrality. Of course, Google’s preferred solution would lead to bulk of the internet capacity being utilized by few high usage firms or individuals causing slowness or lack of service for bulk of the population.

What is the right answer. Depends on whom you ask. We feel this issue still needs some analysis before one take sides on this. We feel that backbone providers deserve some way of ensuring that internet continues to provide a reasonable QOS (Quality of Service) for the larger population instead of being jammed by a few big network hogs. On the other hand, internet was founded on the premise of true democracy and free flowing content and its sheer growth is attributable to lack of regulation and control. Hence one has to tread a delicate balance between a “managed internet” and a “Free-use internet”.

Your thoughts are welcome.


April 28th, 2008

4G technology comparison

Here we provide a simple technology comparison for various 4G technologies in mobile space. Hope you find this useful.

3G/4G Technology Maximum Speed Availability Pros Most Popular in
HSPA+ 28 Mbps 2008-09 Available now, GSM evolution path, software upgrade only, 3G global GSM deployments
WiMAX 70 Mbps 2008-09 Available Now, 4G Asia, Middle East (regionalized deployments), Sprint (USA)  – tentative
LTE 150 Mbps (OEM trials) 2010-11 GSM evolution path, 4G, 80% of global wireless carriers have GSM global (most larger carriers)
UMB 280 Mbps (theoretical) 2009-10 CDMA evolution path, 4G Poor adoption



April 28th, 2008

Microsoft results disappoint

Microsoft announced disappointing results today. Does it have any growth engine, not a significant one. With all the efforts in gaming and online services, Microsoft is still dependent on its two powerhouses – Windows OS and Office, for bulk of its revenue and profitability.

Meanwhile Microsoft is locked in a long-winding  battle with Yahoo management for a takeover of the latter. Combination of two laggard firms (in online space) like Microsoft and Yahoo is not going to fix their problems. Long term innovation does not happen in a box under corporate control. While these two firms negotiate and tussle for a decent deal, others like google, facebook, linkedin, MySpace continue to make hay in online world. On the media front, Apple and other online music/video sites continue to tear apart existing music and video monopolies with free impunity via sheer product innovation and forward thinking.

Speaking of innovation, in the mobile ad space, breakthrough product and solution innovation by AdMob, AdInfuse, Rhythm New Media and CellStrat (wink!) of course will create dominant models of the mobile future. We are a firm believer in garage-style innovation, power of free and truly democratic media/internet and long term dominance of new business models which are creative enough to turn the existing models on their head.


April 25th, 2008

craigslist – Disruptive business model ?

Read an article on craigslist in The Wall Street Journal ( today – the article was titled “Craigslist goes Capitalist”. These guys totally changed the rules of internet advertising. They offer huge amount of yellow pages services free!! How does one compete with free services?!! They were able to amass huge audience base using tons of valuable but mostly free localized services and a simple easy to use website. Along with google and others, they may have disrupted the ad industry linked to yellow pages, pamphlets or newspapers. This latter group, which easily qualifies as a rapidly dying entity, naturally loved it when Craigslist recently sued EBay for diluting the 28.4% equity which EBay holds in craigslist. This essentially validated the general belief in craigslist competitors that craigslist is not really a charitable operation but rather harbors a secret profit objective.

Anyway, the point is that the way these new internet businesses have disrupted existing century-old models continues to be a subject of wonder and awe. Speaking of disruptive business models, shall we start talking about free music now..well maybe another time.

April 24th, 2008

A Primer on WiMAX

This is our first content post. We thought we will start with something which is a hot topic nowadays in wireless world everywhere. This has to do with whether the new WiMAX technology is going to make it or not.

Well – we have seen many obituaries written on WiMAX. But it seems to persist in large pockets of the world and there are real projects being done and real money being made in WiMAX. Some of the large installations include Unwired in Australia which started with a Navini Networks (now Cisco) solution way back in 2003. Unwired is a large wireless broadband provider in some metros in Australia and has done fairly well with a WiMAX strategy. Reliance, Airtel and Tata all are deploying regional WiMAX in various metros of India. We see projects in Middle East, Sprint’s Xohm service trials in United States, several projects in Latin America. So next time somebody tells me that WiMAX is a dying technology, I take it with a pinch of salt.

What is WiMAX

WiMAX (worldwide interoperability for microwave access) is a 4G wireless technology having service capabilities in regulated and unregulated spectrum (though our customers and OEM partners are slowly moving away from using WiMAX in unregulated spectrum).  WiMAX comes from IP / microwave side similar to its cousin WiFi (which is from IP world) as opposed to HSPA, GPRS and UMTS which are GSM flavors of 2.5G/3G wireless tech. The 4G version in GSM evolution path is LTE (Long Term Evolution) – something which is two years away but gaining traction with largest mobile operators in the world eg AT&T and Verizon in USA have announced intention to adopt LTE rather than try WiMAX. But WiMAX has a first mover advantage as it is available with large OEM and vendor support. So many folks around the world are trying this rather than wait out for a full-blown LTE rollout in another 2 years or so.


WiMAX allows speeds of 2-4 Mbps in early trials on the downlink and 1-2 Mbps on the uplink in wireless communications from mobile phones, laptops, WiMAX CPE (customer modems) etc, in effect matching the DSL or lower end cable modem speeds of today. WiMAX offers personal broadband to folks who want high speed wireless connectivity anywhere, anytime. Of course one needs WiMAX compatible chip sets in laptops or WiMAX enabled phones for the mobility aspect of it. For home or office use, WiMAX can be deployed as a modem (called a CPE or customer premise equipment) inside or outside a home or building. WiMAX equipment can communicate with WiMAX base stations in cell towers several miles away without signal degradation. As a result, we are talking about high speed wireless mobile TV, multimedia gaming, streaming media, P2P apps, VOIP etc.

WiMAX standards are administered by a body called the WiMAX Forum which describes WiMAX as “a standards-based technology enabling the delivery of last mile wireless broadband access as an alternative to cable and DSL”.

WiMAX offers non- line-of-sight communication between Base Station and the customer CPE which is a great practical advantage and makes it a viable competitor to DSL or cable.

WiMAX Technology

There are two flavors of WiMAX – Fixed WiMAX and Mobile WiMAX – they are based on IEEE 802.16d and 802.16e specification respectively. In simple terms, Fixed WiMAX allows a cable or DSL line substitute but no mobility or roaming between cells. Mobile WiMAX allows mobility and handoff between Base Stations so can operate like a true wireless network.

Typically, WiMAX is being deployed in the 2.5-2.7 GHz range in USA and 3.3-3.5 GHz range in Europe and Asia but there are exceptions to this rule.

WiMAX involves the following equipment – Base Stations on cell towers and CPE or customer premise equipment or receivers. CPE are similar to our DSL modems or cable modems or can be externally installed equipments. In-building/In-home WiMAX modems promise to revolutionize broadband access for homes and businesses and serve as a compelling replacement for DSL or cable internet subscribers.

Intel has made available WiMAX chips in laptops (though we hear different versions as to level of interest of Intel in this area). As to mobile phones, several mobile phone manufacturers have announced intention to make WiMAX phones in large numbers.

WiMAX is a last mile wireless access solution. It needs a backhaul network or the core transmission over a large area – the backhaul can be T1 lines from local TELCOs, line-of-sight WiMAX towers themselves or even satellite communications for remote areas. WiMAX does require more advanced backhaul than traditional wireless networks hence fiber-based backhaul or microwave point-to-point backhaul is very appropriate for WiMAX.

Other 4G technologies

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the most prominent threat to WiMAX technology. LTE is the 4G flavor of GSM evolution path and hence more likeable by GSM carriers and some major CDMA vendors around the world. Since GSM is the dominant standard in the world in wireless networks, LTE is seen as a likely winner in 4G space especially among large operators around the world. Mobile WiMAX has had trials in 10Mbps range (over a 10Km distance) but Nokia has done trials of LTE in which it has achieved 100 Mbps data transfer speeds with LTE equipment.

UMB or Ultra Mobile Broadband is the CDMA version of 4G developed by Qualcomm which also promotes the CDMA standard. Verizon Wireless, the giant CDMA operator in United States, shocked the world when it announced an intention to migrate to LTE instead of UMB in the 4G evolution. Verizon may still go the UMB-way; we will see how this plays out. UMB can achieve the same speeds as LTE for wireless broadband access.

Interested in more on WiMAX and LTE..stay tuned for further posts and CellStrat white papers which will discuss this topic more extensively. Meanwhile we would love to get your thoughts or feedback on this interesting new space..


3 comments April 24th, 2008

Welcome to Cell Life, your source for technology and mobile insights

Hello World!! Greetings.

We are pleased to be here and start talking to you, our audience, friend, mentor and supporter. From here on, we plan to take you on a journey of the mobile and technology jungle. This is one big moving mass – here things change everyday and new technologies are created, discovered and published every second. Hard as it is to keep pace with this jungle and the changing dynamics, it is also exciting, fun and inspiring. We certainly are inspired. Lets hope you enjoy this journey with us and share your thoughts, comments and whatever else you want to tell us.

We will attempt to keep you abreast of the latest in mobile technology, internet evolution (or is it revolution), industry trends and all that talk about mechanized humanization with new advances in mobility, home experience, corporate strategy and enterprise technology. Topics will be diverse but we especially like the mobile world which we believe represents the next wave of technology revolution. We envision a world where people control their lives, their jobs, their entire existence with simple touch of buttons whereever they are, at any time of the day. It is about making mobility and communications simplified, helping consumers and corporations alike navigate this technology minefield and adopt new technologies for betterment of their lives and for increasing their competitive ability.

So here we go. Hold tight and enjoy the ride..

April 23rd, 2008