Archive for July, 2008

India Getting Ready For 3G Wireless Broadband…

Coming soon in India – world’s fastest growing mobile market – 3G services by the dozen. And what that means is a looming free-for-all in a market where competition is already fierce, prices super low, profits even lower and consumer is the ultimate winner.

Indian Department of Telecommunications (DOT) is getting all set to introduce about a dozen 3G licenses in some of the more densely populated regions including the South Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu (including Chennai), Karnataka, and Kerala. The information comes to us from our friends at Packetology, a Telecom research firm focused on the Indian market.

Other states getting 3G will include North Indian state of Haryana (right next door to Delhi and home to many outsourcing outfits), while ten licenses will be up for grabs in Kolkata (Calcutta) and Madhya Pradesh. In other large markets such as Mumbai (Bombay) and Delhi, the number of licenses available be far fewer because the available spectrum is in limited quantities. Delhi will have only four licenses while Bombay can accommodate upto eight licenses.

According to initial DOT 3G policy, each carrier was going to get 5 MHz of spectrum and only 25 MHz of total spectrum was available. However, more spectrum has become available, hence the boost in the number of players who can bid for the spectrum.

The availability of such a huge amount of spectrum and licenses makes India one of the few unique places to have aggressive and highly competitive 3G market from get go. Most countries have between 2-to-5 players. UK has five, US has four, Brazil has four and most Asian countries have two or three. With this kind of liberal licensing of spectrum, and the existing 2G operations in place, some regions might get over a dozen operators offering phone services.

Thanks to fierce competition in the 2G services, India continues to be one of the fastest growing mobile markets – about 300 million at last count – mostly because prices are seriously low. Still, the presence of such a high number of players makes you wonder if there will be anyone who will be able to make money. The looming WWF style competition is going to keep large US and European carriers out of the market, though there has been news that AT&T and Verizon are very keen on entering the Indian market.

The new 3G players in India will be looking to build their networks very cheaply in order to compete and offer ultra low prices to end consumers. This would mean despite a huge buildout, companies like Siemens, Nokia, Nortel, Alcatel-Lucent and others should forget about making any real profits. The Chinese vendors – Huawei and ZTE – can mop-up, because they are willing to sell at a loss in their bid to gain market share. Infonetics Research, a Campbell, Calif. – based market research firm recently said that China and India are two major drivers of telecom equipment sales.

So who wins in this? Qualcomm & Nokia! The spread of 3G technologies brings a lot of royalty money into Qualcomm’s coffers. Similarly, Nokia is the strongest mobile brand in India and has a 3G portfolio of phones to match.

The big question that looms large in my mind: by introducing so many players in the market, is DOT killing the golden goose? In other words if there are too many players – dozen odd – and no one is making money, it would (and could) lead to a situation where they start shutting down. It could in the end the competition would decline and might result in an increase in prices.

Vishal

July 31st, 2008

Using WiMAX to Link Ambulances to Hospitals…

I recently read an article published on ICT Results. It’s worth reading and shows direct relevance of WIMAX in health care areas. Thus, I am sharing it here:

A new ambulance communications system will enable doctors to diagnose and begin treating critically ill patients before they reach hospital. Diagnosing and treating a critically ill or injured patient as early as possible can mean the difference between life and death. A new communications system between a moving ambulance and its hospital base allows the simultaneous transmission of bandwidth-hungry video and ultra-sonic images, telephone communications and patient data, all at the same time.

Medical teams can therefore gather vital and detailed information about the patient’s condition and advise the ambulance team on patient treatment as they rush towards the hospital.

The ambulances transmit and receive high-quality data over WiMAX, a microwave access technology that can deliver data at up to 75 megabits per second over a range of 70km between fixed points (802.16.d), or its mobile version can provide 15mb/s over a four-kilometre radius (802.16.e).

“If you are transmitting data in high quality, it is very important that you don’t lose any bit of information,” says Enrico Angori, a leading researcher on the WEIRD project. WiMAX is the cheapest channel to use and the channel that can deliver the best quality of service.”

WiMAX is not new, but the research team on the EU-funded WEIRD project extended the resilience and flexibility of the WiMAX technology and created a user-friendly package that can easily be used in ambulances by non-computer specialists.

Practical and usable solutions

“The main part of our work is to make it easy for end-users to make use of the benefits of new technologies like WiMAX,” explains Giuseppe Martufi, another member of the WEIRD research team.

The team achieve this by developing software that hides the complexity of the configuration of the end-to-end communication channel, whatever the different equipment or different versions of WiMAX used. It means that the paramedic onboard the ambulance can quickly and easily establish an end-to-end communication path without specialist training, allowing them to concentrate on what they do best – saving lives.

Bandwidth can be reserved for the ambulance’s critical communications using a protocol called DIAMETER that identifies data traffic and prioritises it, ensuring communications are not blocked by low-priority data traffic, such as emails.

Seamless end-to-end connections

One of the most important features of the ambulance communications system is its ability to create end-to-end links between two points by seamlessly integrating the WiMAX signal with the other wireless communication technologies encountered, such as mobile telephony.

The WEIRD researchers developed software that takes advantage of the features of ‘next-generation networks’. NGNs layer information, decoupling the applications from the underlying transport stratum. Whatever the underlying network, the ambulance’s signals will be passed seamlessly, end to end.

“If you are transmitting data in high quality, it is very important that you don’t lose any bit of information,” says Enrico Angori, a leading researcher on the WEIRD project. WiMAX is the cheapest channel to use and the channel that can deliver the best quality of service.”

WiMAX is not new, but the research team on the EU-funded WEIRD project extended the resilience and flexibility of the WiMAX technology and created a user-friendly package that can easily be used in ambulances by non-computer specialists.

Practical and usable solutions

“The main part of our work is to make it easy for end-users to make use of the benefits of new technologies like WiMAX,” explains Giuseppe Martufi, another member of the WEIRD research team.

The team achieve this by developing software that hides the complexity of the configuration of the end-to-end communication channel, whatever the different equipment or different versions of WiMAX used. It means that the paramedic onboard the ambulance can quickly and easily establish an end-to-end communication path without specialist training, allowing them to concentrate on what they do best – saving lives.

Bandwidth can be reserved for the ambulance’s critical communications using a protocol called DIAMETER that identifies data traffic and prioritises it, ensuring communications are not blocked by low-priority data traffic, such as emails.

Seamless end-to-end connections

One of the most important features of the ambulance communications system is its ability to create end-to-end links between two points by seamlessly integrating the WiMAX signal with the other wireless communication technologies encountered, such as mobile telephony.

The WEIRD researchers developed software that takes advantage of the features of ‘next-generation networks’. NGNs layer information, decoupling the applications from the underlying transport stratum. Whatever the underlying network, the ambulance’s signals will be passed seamlessly, end to end

A few years ago, developers had envisaged global WiMAX networks replacing our present communications infrastructures. Increasingly, WiMAX is being viewed as a complementary technology to existing wireless communication access channels.

So, the successful seamless integration of WiMAX with ‘media-independent handover’ is an important step forward.

Not all applications are designed to run on NGNs. For these, the research team built a series of adaptors – known as WEIRD agents or WEIRD application programming interfaces. WEIRD agents allow non-NGN applications to take advantage of the enhanced quality of service and seamless mobility features offered by the ambulance communications system.

WEIRD received funding from the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for research.

Vishal

1 comment July 29th, 2008

Research in Motion Considering Chinese Factory…

Canada’s Research in Motion is considering opening a factory in China as the company expands its sales in the country. Speaking at a press conference in Hong Kong last Friday when it launched the BlackBerry Bold, Norm Lo, a vice-president of RIM Asia-Pacific said that the mainland market is “strategic” for the company.

“The mainland is a very strategic market for us and our relationship with China Mobile is for the long term,” Mr Lo said. “We’re certainly looking at the country as a potential production base.”

Vishal

July 29th, 2008

Review of Apple iPhone 3G

I have been waiting to write about this for a long time.

Stood 4 hours in line in front of Apple store to get my hands on one of these amazing new must-have devices. Excruciating… But once I got it, if you ask me in one word – “fabulous”.

UI : Never seen a better UI on any other phone. Hats off to Apple creativity. They know UI like nobody else does. UI means the pulse of the user – Apple knows what works for user.

Mail program : fantastic – push email from Yahoo and Outlook and pull from gmail. Awesome Awesome

Map program : Great – tells you current location and shows satellite views and map views from Google Maps. Shows Directions between any two locations.

SMS : Conversation style SMS UI. Looks good

YouTube, iPod Music, iTunes store – All great

AppStore – One of the best new features of iPhone. The AppStore and the iTunes ecosystem are the creme of the iPhone power. There are a zillion good apps on the AppStore now and this will only increase. I tried Facebook and am about to try loopt apps on AppStore. The games like SuperMonkey are popular and I intend to try them. Facebook access is beautiful and easy.

Photos – beautiful photo display with high resolution and a 2 Megapixel camera.

Sync capability – As soon as you plug the iPhone to your computer, photos, contacts, calendar all can synch. I was able to synch my Gmail contacts and photos on my PC. I did not use the calendar synch as I have a separate blackberry device for that one.

Keyboard – soft keyboard is hard to use initially but my speed of typing is increasing. Scrolling to get to particular letter in between a typed word or sentence is very interesting (drag over the word and highlight cursor to desire letter).

Enterprise Support – Apple has added MS Outlook support with iPhone 3G. This is possible if an org runs the MS ActiveSync program. We expect tremendous response in the enterprise as employees in various firms are clamoring for it. But Blackberry is far ahead in the enterprise and is not going anywhere soon.

Email delete function – Allows multiple emails to be selected and deleted.

Comparison to Blackberry – Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love my blackberry which was my email device so far. But Blackberry cannot compete with iPhone overall. Only categories which Blackberry can claim as better compared to iPhone are :-

email : Blackberry Enterprise server based email is amazing.

Keyboard : We are all expert in speed typing on Blackberry QWERTY keyboard.

Battery : Blackberry runs without a need to charge for many days. iPhone, on the other hand, runs out in 8-10 hours of heavy use.

Speaking of battery, let me come to iPhone’s battery issue (alas) :-

iPhone battery runs out in 6-112 hours under heavy use if you keep all its powerful features on. Some ideas to conserve battery : turn off 3G, Location Service, WiFi, Bluetooth, Fetch mail less often. Result – you are left with a plain GSM phone and one starts to wonder why I bought iPhone after all.

Regardless, breakthrough device. Kudos to Apple. I love it every bit (except for its battery). Here is a good one on iPhone :-

MT

July 28th, 2008

Android And Symbian Sitting In a Tree: Suggested Merger Pretty Unlikely…

Analyst J. Gold has come out with a prediction that Symbian and Android will begin merging into one open source OS within 3-6 months, and it’s gotten a fair bit of airplay. The reasons?

– “Google’s (NSDQ: GOOG) investment in Android is “diluting the potential for it [Google] to build compelling cross-device applications where it can generate substantial revenues”.
– Symbian could get some cred with the open source community.
– Fewer platforms for the market, which would benefit everybody.

“A combination of the Android and Symbian efforts would be good for the industry, good for Google and good for Symbian,” J. Gold said. “It would also help spur a growth in the availability of applications and services. The downside is minimal. Everyone wins,” reports Information Week. It’s true that Symbian does need to attract unpaid developers to its open source effort, and it’s also true that Symbian CEO Nigel Clifford said that the organization would be happy to work with Google “on the application level or…could be on the more fundamental operating system level.”

2 comments July 28th, 2008

Mobile IM: The SMS alternative?

Short message service (SMS) is an integral part of our lives today. In fact, there are many people who prefer SMSing to making phone calls, notwithstanding the steep decline in call rates in recent times. That said, sending SMSes can be an expensive proposition, especially if you are sending them to a person in another city or worse, country. Or if you are on roaming!

Which is why mobile Instant Messaging (IM) is so handy. Thanks to some rather innovative applications, you can actually exchange text messages with your friends online without using SMS on your cellphone. All you need is a GPRS connection that enables you to access the internet on your mobile and the right software, and you can actually cut down on your SMS bill.

Mobile instant messaging has been around for a few years now. However, most mobile IM applications came with price tags—you either had to pay to download them to your phone or shell out an annual subscription fee. What’s more, they were often only available for high-end (read “colossally expensive”) phones. However, that has been changing over the past few years, thanks to the dramatic increase in the world’s cellphone-toting population.

Yahoo! has even made it possible for users to access its IM messaging service on its WAP site without having to download any software on to their cellphones. And Yahoo! Messenger is one of the services that form part of the Yahoo!Go passage that is being bundled with select Nokia phones these days.
There are plenty of free software options for non-Yahoo! users too. MSN chat users can download eMSN Mobile for their cellphones—it works like a treat, has plenty of features (including customising photographs) and can run on most phones.

Similarly, those addicted to Google Talk can try Morange, which also gives users access to Gmail, contacts and RSS feeds, but is at its best when handling the chat function. What’s more, Morange comes in two versions—one for advanced phones and one for ‘normal’ ones!

But if you are seeking an SMS-like IM experience, then try out Go Talk Mobile, a mobile instant messenger for Google Talk. Unlike other mobile IM applications that one has to start up and then exit whenever you have to do something else on your phone (say, look at the address book, or play a game), you can keep GoogleTalk running in the background all the time, without having to exit. The phone will vibrate and emit a little tune whenever you receive a message, which will pop up on the screen.

A word of warning, though—do not expect to see features like voice chat and webcam chats on mobile IMs. On a cellphone, the IM is largely restricted to sending and receiving messages, although some do allow users to swap pictures and the odd music file.

The viability of using mobile IM, however, boils down to the kind of GPRS plan one is using. Mobile IM is tailor-made for a person using an unlimited plan (in which one can surf without any limits). However, it can prove to be an economical option even if one is using a ‘pay-as-per-use’ plan, as most mobile IM clients compress messages to ensure that the data exchanged is kept at the bare minimum, making sending an IM message a good deal cheaper than an SMS in most cases.

Of course, one advantage that IM will always hold over SMS is that it is, as its name indicates, instant and appears on the receiver’s screen within seconds of your sending it—something that does not always happen with SMS.

Of course, to make mobile IM really effective, one has to ensure that the person one wants to swap messages with is online and using the same IM service, but that is hardly a constraint these days—most PC users inevitably keep two-three IM clients minimised even as they work away, and internet-enabled cellphones are slowly becoming the rule rather than the exception.

It’s cheaper, faster and just as reliable as routine SMS—if you need more reasons for adopting mobile instant messaging, then perhaps you are better off without it.

Vishal

July 27th, 2008

WiMAX, LTE and HSPA set to revolutionize the way we communicate and access information

The one-day seminar on Wireless Test World took place here in Bangalore, India on Friday. Experts noted that the world was set to step into an age of ubiquitous wireless networking with the advent of WiMAX, LTE and HSPA.

These high-speed technologies will not only revolutionize the way we communicate and access information, but also provide opportunities for previously impossible product and services, said Sunil Motwani, General Manager, Electronics Measurement Group, Agilent Technologies India Ltd.

The event was organized by Agilent Technologies, the world’s premier test and measurement company and a technology leader in communications and electronics. Various next-generation wireless and broadband technologies were showcased at the event.

Vishal

July 26th, 2008

Sprint all set to launch its own Femtocell Base Station…AIRAVE

Sprint is providing some subscribers with an update of the release plans for their Airave Femtocell Base Stationon August 17th. Sprint AIRAVE™ is a device that creates a CDMA signal for your mobile phone (like a miniature cell tower). AIRAVE provides enhanced and reliable mobile phone coverage in your house or office even if your existing wireless coverage is poor. This works with any Sprint phone (Nextel style excluded) with some important quirks:

Sprint Airave Base Station

Sprint Airave Base Station

1. No EVDO data (only s-l-o-w Vision data is supported)
2. Cannot seamlessly transfer from normal cell tower to Airave.
3. Only works where Sprint has native coverage (it checks via GPS)
4. Supports only 3 simultaneous users (according to Sprint email)

Vishal

July 25th, 2008

Nokia, Motorola, Sony to take on Apple iPhone3G in Sept.

Handset vendors in the world’s fastest growing mobile phone market – India, have worked out the strategies, to be ready for the onslaught of the iPhone.

US-based Motorola, which already has an array of smart phones in the country, recently launched ROKR E8 in India. A music phone, it has features such as FastScroll navigation wheel (a navigation wheel like that in iPods) and haptics technology that transforms the device from a phone to a music player in one touch. This is in addition to other touchscreen phones including the MOTOMING A1200 and MOTOROKR E6.

Sony Ericsson is launching several new models in the high-end segment. Some of these include the X1i (a touchscreen phone with Qwerty keyboard and GPS facilities) under its Xperia series, the W980i (Walkman range) and C905i under the Cyber-shot range (with an 8-mega pixel camera).

Nokia, the leader with over 40 per cent of the global market share, is gearing up to offer touchscreen products soon. The Finnish company, which sold 60.5 million devices globally in 2007, has already rolled out 13.3 million converged devices in the second quarter of 2008.

Samsung is expecting its SCH-M800 Instinct, a high-end touch screen mobile phone, and Samsung F700 (another smart phone) to take on the new iPhone.

Vishal

July 23rd, 2008

LBS Opportunity and infrastructure vendors…

I would like to share an article on LBS and infrastructure vendors :
Strong growth in location-based services represents an important opportunity for LBS platforms and infrastructure vendors. While until recently the LBS infrastructure market was mainly driven by the E911 emergency call requirements in the US, the expected global deployment of commercial LBS applications by carriers will grow LBS infrastructure licensing revenue from $111 million in 2008 to $2.2 billion in 2013.
“Several trends are driving the growth of LBS services and platform revenues,” says ABI Research principal analyst Dominique Bonte. “Decreasing costs for the integration of GPS receivers in handsets, the increasing number of Secure User Plane Location (SUPL) server deployments by carriers investing in LBS infrastructure, the availability of A-GPS/SUPL-compatible handsets, and the commercialization of a growing number of LBS applications are all contributing to increasing sales of LBS-infrastructure systems such as Mobile Location Centers (MLCs), Position Determining Equipment (PDE) and Location Enabling Servers (LES).”

The LBS infrastructure market is currently dominated by Ericsson, Telecommunications Systems (TCS) and Nokia Siemens Networks with respective market shares of 31 percent, 24 percent and 18 percent. Smaller independent MLC vendors such as Redknee are also making inroads into the market.

Business models are reflected in a range of flexible payment options based on volume (per transaction or per LBS subscriber), flat fees, outright purchase, and even advertising-subsidized schemes with price levels dependent on the size of the carrier, the functionality, and the solution type (hosted or installed). Monthly per subscriber platform license fees typically amount to $0.71.

However, despite the expected growth in LBS services, a major threat is posed by the emergence of direct-to-consumer provisioning of remotely hosted third-party LBS applications which bypass the carrier network infrastructure, reducing carriers to the status of bandwidth providers and making LBS platforms obsolete. The challenge for platform vendors will be to focus on unique functionalities that can only be offered via carriers, such as spatial triggers, anonymous bulk location, control plane-based services, and LBS-enabled advertising as well as multi-access network solutions.

Vishal

July 22nd, 2008

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