Posts tagged 'GSM'

Event Roundup from Mobile Apps Conclave, Bangalore

Mobile Apps Conclave – the conference organized by CellStrat concluded successfully on 29th April, ‘11 at The Chancery Pavilion Hotel, Bangalore. The Conference saw tremendous interest with a large no of audience from all over India. The star-studded speaker lineup and intuitive content on Mobile Apps and Web fueled interest in this event. The theme for this event was : “The Mobile Web Disruption – Life, Media and Business get Appified”.

In addition to Bangalore, audience came from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Chennai, both from brands and senior management of companies as well as the developer community.

More than 200 blue-chip audience participated in this event on the hottest topic in modern times – Mobile Apps, App Stores and the Mobile Internet. Most brands, mobile device manufacturers, app store and app development firms were present to learn about the Business of Mobile Apps and Web.

Details of the event and photographs are available at http://www.mobileappsconclave.com.

Event Brief :
The Mobile Web – the new name of Growth around the world. Mobile Internet Tsunami – as many refer to it.

Mobile is the industry of this decade. Mobile has taken world by storm. The feature phone growth is fast evolving into smartphone growth driven by the emergence and popularity of The Mobile Web and those tiny ubiquitous Apps – hundreds of thousands of them literally. Mobile Web is upending so many industries, it is breathtaking to say the least. Many of these businesses are succumbing to the trend which the venerable firm Apple started – businesses like news and media, advertising, gaming, productivity, publishing, telecom, entertainment, commerce, financial services or healthcare..the list goes on and on. Whoever you are, wherever you are – either have an App and Mobile Media strategy or be prepared to loose substantial traction in the marketplace – because, indeed, your customers are App savvy even if you are not.

You are on the road and want to check nearby promotions, there are many apps for that; you want to track your supply chain, many apps for that too; track Social Network updates; many apps there as well; there is even an app for Confessing to God. Apps are orchestrating the growth in intelligent smartphones; next playground is Tablet followed by Computers. Are you ready for the brave New World of Mobile and Mobile Tablets ? Are you ready for the Mobile Web revolution ?

Conference Sessions :
Here are some notes from the Keynotes and Panels that transpired at this event.

In the morning session, there was an intuitive keynote by Pratapa Bernard, Vice President and Head – COE – Data Services (Emerging Markets) at Vodafone. He addressed the impact of the Mobile Web and Apps on the modern consumer and businesses. He mentioned the imperative need to focus on user experience and not technology itself citing the example of Apple etc. He went on to say that 80% of internet access in India in 2015 will be from mobile devices.

Next came a panel on “Mobile Apps go mainstream – Content, Engagement and Lifestyle on Mobile Apps”. This panel discussed the Mobile App revolution and how Content and Entertainment is being delivered via Apps. The panel speakers included Rajiv Kumar (CEO – RockeTalk), Deepak Swamy (Head – Flypp App Store, Infosys), Sanjay Bhasin (VP-Getit Info Services), Vikram Tanna (VP – STAR Digital), Rajesh Reddy (CEO, July Systems) and Narasimha Suresh (CEO – TELiBrahma). This panel focussed on App monetization and how developers are finding it a challenge to monetize their apps. This panel also discussed the need to “Indianize” the Western business models, cost structures as well as offerings to make them work in India. On HTML5, the panel members said this new standard will be big against Mobile apps but the “when” is not clear yet.

After the first panel, there was an interesting keynote by InMobi (top Mobile Advertising firm) executive Sridhar Ranganathan (VP-Product Management) on how market pressures are forcing firms like InMobi to push the boundaries of creativity with immersive advertising and the need to think of Mobile Ads like mini-apps. He mentioned the need to un-learn the PC and focus on Mobile as a separate experience.

In the afternoon session, there was an innovative keynote by Sunny Rao, MD – India and APAC of Nuance Communications. Sunny spoke about some of the innovations in Mobile Web world surrounding Speech Technology, Voice-based Social Networking and automotive vehicles as mobile channels. Sunny’s keynote was followed by an interesting panel on innovations in Mobile Apps and Mobile Web. This panel had some true Mobile innovators in Amiya Pathak of ZipDial, Kalyan Manyam of MojoStreet, Indus Khaitan of Bitzer Mobile and Soumitra Sharma of IDG Ventures. This panel discussed specialized vertical Apps which are popping up in industries like Payments and Commerce, Social Gaming, Healthcare and Education.

The Mobile Innovations panel was followed by a Startup showcase where Sriram Mohan, Associate Editor at YourStory.in helped introduce some startups which are creating innovative business models in the Mobile App ecosystem.

The last (but not the least) panel was on Emerging Devices and Tablets. Advent of Apple iPad has opened a whole new world of possibilities and truly heralds a world of post-PC era. Prabha Aithal, CTO at CanvasM moderated a panel of speakers which included Alap Ghosh of Mobango (App Store), Pradeep Rao of Research in Motion, Ashish Gupta of Helion Ventures and Dr Sharad Jaiswal of Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs. This panel discussed the impact that the tablet and emerging devices are having on the ecosystem. Emerging Devices is a hot new area and is seeing digitization of content at a blistering pace from a variety of industry verticals like publishing, entertainment, retail, media etc..

Conference Partners :
Overall, it was an action-packed conference with active participation from speakers and audience. Partners included Presentation Sharing Partner authorSTREAM on which the presentations by CellStrat, event speakers, exhibitors and partners can be found. The Mobile App Partner, Hazel Media provided an event app for this conference. Whereas the Mobility Partner, MobiVite published a Mobile WAP site for the same.

InMobi was the Platinum Sponsor for this event. AgileCO was the Gold Sponsor. Other supporters included partners like MOMO Bangalore, The Morpheus and Indian Angel Network (IAN). Media Partners include the online media firm YourStory.in and TelecomLead.

YourStory.in was a Premium Partner for this event and it provided online media visibility as well as Anchor support for the event.

Mobile Solutions Expo :
This conference also saw an interesting exhibition on Mobile Solutions where some innovative app companies exhibited their apps and solutions. This Expo dazzled the audience with some interesting apps and solutions in the Mobile space. The exhibitors included WINIT, Nanostuffs, RockeTalk, Bitstream, Softtrends, MobiVite and some others.

For photos and other details from the event, check the event website at : http://www.mobileappsconclave.com.

Shyam Kamadolli (Director – Fidelity Growth Partners India) was one of the attendees and has some intuitive notes from this conference on his blog : http://skamadolli.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/india-mobile-apps/.

May 16th, 2011

Does Mobile Web fit your Integrated Media Strategy ?

Mobile Apps and Web have taken the world by storm. Certainly, Apple deserves credit for orchestrating the Mobile Web experience when it created the iPhone and its App Store. In the process, Apple unleashed the creative energy of hundreds of thousands of Mobile developers worldwide. As of last count, Apple App Store counts 350,000 Apps in the store. With the launch of the iPad tablet, Apple popularized the Tablet computer category and now lot of developers are developing Apps for the Tablet version. Tablet has started what most refer to as the post-PC era. Certainly firms like Microsoft, HP and Intel are in lot of trouble as many consumers and businesses are going the Tablet way instead of upgrading or buying regular PCs and laptops. Now Apple is trying to bring the App experience with its launch of the MAC App Store.

Mobile Web is the latest and greatest Media channel today. It is a most apt media channel for a variety of reasons which we will explain a little later in this post.

Are the various Media firms and Brand Marketers prepared to adjust to this titanic shift of Mobile-based Media ? Do Mobile Apps and Web even belong in a firm’s Integrated Media portfolio ? We will attempt to answer these questions below.

Today media consists of various channels :

Media Channels

 How does Mobile Web fit in this scheme ? The schematic below elaborates the various Digital and Mobile Advertising formats :

Digital Media Channels 

 Consider this (taking Indian context here) :

  • There are 770 million Mobile Subscriptions today (out of a total population of 1.2 billion people) – granted only 550 million are Active Mobile Subscribers : still almost 45% of Indian population are active Mobile Subscribers
  • India has less than 10% internet penetration
  • Mobile is the first and only communications tool for most Rural and Semi-Urban Audience in India
  • Mobile is personal, has context, is location-aware and is always ON
  • Admittedly 90% of Indian mobile market is comprised of feature phones, leading to SMS as the dominant marketing channel in India. But the fastest growth rate is now seen in Smartphone uptake – with acceleration in sales of cheaper smartphones from the likes of MicroMax, Lava etc in addition to established Brands like Nokia, Samsung etc. Mobile Web is now proliferating throughout the Indian consumer class much more rapidly than the feature phone growth.
  • The 3G launches this year will only accelerate the move to Broadband Mobile Services (think Mobile Web with much superior user experience and faster speeds)
  • The post-PC era may have started with Tablets taking over the role of laptops and computers. Many leading businesses and business execs are using tablets for business travel instead of their laptops now.
  • Print Media and Book Publishers are rapidly shifting en masse to Mobile Apps and Mobile eReaders as the delivery channel.
  • People are increasingly consuming media, content and advertising on Mobile phones and tablets.

Given the above advantages – Mobile can be a top Media and Marketing Channel for any Agency or Marketer today in India, much better than the Internet at least.

Now how many Brands and Media Agencies in India have actually integrated Mobile in their portfolio ? Our research indicates that most Media Agencies and Brands in India are yet to include Mobile as a captive Media channel (more on this in our upcoming Research Report : “Mobile Apps Innovation Report for India“. Contact us for details). Though many firms have tried the SMS and VAS marketing route in India, the future now lies in capturing the Mobile Web and Mobile App Media market which is developing rapidly in India.

Our upcoming conference on Mobile Apps (April 29th) – the “Mobile Apps Conclave – Bangalore” will address the entire gamut of topics on Mobile Web and Mobile Apps. Do not forget to register – there are some early registration promotions going on right now.

March 7th, 2011

“2011 Analyst Outlook for Wireless” – Notes from Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta

(from our Atlanta desk)

I attended the Wireless Technology Forum, Atlanta meeting on 18 Nov. The topic was “2011 Analyst Outlook” – an excellent one as we all are very curious to know what comes in 2011 in Wireless. Here are the notes from the meeting :

Speakers :-

There was an excellent lineup of speakers –

Keynote : “Prospects for LTE in 2011″ by Steven Leonard, Regional Director, Data Sales, Verizon Wireless

Panelists :

- Phil Hendrix, Principal Analyst, Institute for Mobile Markets Research (or IMMR)
– Jorge Fuenzalida,
Vice President, Strategy and Technology Group, inCode Telecom Group (now part of Ericsson)
- Jeremy Schneider,
Principal, Telecommunications, McKinsey & Company, Inc.
- Robert Prudhomme, Vice President, Client Services, Telecom Practice, The Nielsen Company

Moderator : Gerry Purdy, Principal Analyst, MobileTrax

Steven Leonard (Verizon Wireless) on LTE in 2011 :-

LTE offers 10 times faster speed compared to 3G networks. Verizon will have LTE in 38 markets by 2011. Verizon has the valuable 700 MHz spectrum which allows high speed and data accuracy in network transmission. LTE utilizes the MIMO technology. MIMO (Multiple Input, Multiple Output) is a technology that  increases in data throughput and link range without additional bandwidth or transmit power.

Another key aspect of 2011 is the growth of Tablets and accompanying data demands. 181% growth expected in Tablet usage in 2011 over this year. Verizon is the only carrier with contiguous 4G spectrum in USA (AT&T may disagree : )

Lte is 3.5 times faster than CDMA in how far signal will travel without diluting. It offers Latency near 30 ms where earlier it was 150 ms.

Verizon 4G leadership (per Steven) :-

    – Joint innovation lab
    – Open devl
    – Verizon developer community
    – LTE innovation center
    – M2M management center in partnership with Qualcomm

Note : M2M or Machine-to-Machine is the new wireless industry developing around putting wireless chips in home appliances, hospital equipment and other such non telecom functions).

Verizon Launch mkt this year – Athens and Atlanta are included

Wireless broadband features in LTE include :-

    1 Advanced applications :- like Entertainment and Music

    2 Innovative devices

    3 Location agnostic : Whereever you are availability

As per Steven, Verizon 4g network rollout will be completed in 2013 in the USA.

Phil Hendrix (IMMR) :-

Phil gave a presentation on Mobile Commerce, an area which is rapidly evolving. The most happening event in USA on Mobile Commerce has to do with NFC phone proliferation expected in 2011 with Google Nexus S and Apple iPhone – both NFC enabled phones coming out potentially as per reports.

As per Phil, Mobile Commerce has three perspectives :-
    – Consumers : mobile shopping
    – Brands : mobile advertising
    – Retailers : m-commerce

8 dimensions which together constitute mobile commerce:-
    – Mobile Shopping
    – Mobile Funds Transfer
    – Mobile Advertising
    – Mobile Rewards
    – Mobile Coupons
    – Mobile Booking
    – Mobile Offers
    – Mobile Payments

Today we are only in the initial stages of Mobile Commerce.

Certain trends are accelerating Mobile Commerce. These Accelerators include :-

    – Location-Based
    – Hyper Local sensitivity – what is around us
    – Social Media
    – Yield Management
    – Supply Chain integration
    – Big Data

Jorge Fuenzalida (inCode) :-

inCode Telecom Group, the telecom strategy consulting firm, has been acquired by Ericsson recently. inCode is famous for its “top 10 predictions” in wireless every year. Jorge said that these are not finalized for 2011 but offered a Sneak preview of the top 10 :-

Predictions :-
    1) Over the Top goes over the top (in other words, over the top video/OTT or IPTV accelerates and everything in video goes online)
             2009-Netflix becoming very popular – CPE based OTT
             2011-all content goes online eg Google TV or other such offerings
    2) Tablet rush – in 2011 it will overtake netbooks
    3) The new Gold Rush in 2011- wireless rural broadband – due to government stimulus

Well said, Jorge.

Jeremy Schneider (McKinsey) :-

Core wireless has matured. Revenue growth has slowed in voice and messaging

What is next then? Three predictions (since it is the day of 3 predictions from all analysts : ) :-

1) Data will grow much more than what most analysts are calling for. McKinsey thinks 17 times growth from 2009 to 2012 in mobile data
     McKinsey thinks that even this number is relatively conservative. They think it could be 25 times growth by 2012.
     Tablets, mobile video and broader consumer adoption of mobile browsing will drive mobile data growth.
2) Enterprise will outstrip Consumer in wireless (this is surprising as per me as consumer has been the bigger driver of smartphone data via apps so far)
     Enterprise mobility will enable employee mobility etc
     – 6 times higher willingness to pay in enterprise consider to consumer
     – big market. M2M sensors estimates keep rising on a daily basis
     – many verticals are ripe for innovation

     Healthcare is particularly exciting in the M2M arena.
     Healthcare will expand in 5 trillion dollars overall in 5 yrs. At current rates healthcare will be 30% of us GDP
           * Remote Monitoring
           * Remote Consultation
           * Medication Management
           * Health and Wellness

3) New directions in Application Architecture
     – Data growth needs efficient network
            * 30% time waiting on mobile browsing
     – Platform independent tech like HTML5, JIL (Java Intermediate Language), WAC (Wholesale Application Community – the operator consortium), SNs (?)
     – Delivered in the cloud (aha – Cloud Computing – we know it)
          * Consumer – Large portions of iPhone apps already on the Amazon Cloud or EC2
          * Enterprise – 40% savings by moving to cloud

Robert Prudhomme (Nielsen) :-

Growth has slowed in postpaid the USA. Prepaid is going well.

Only verizon and AT&T were able to get net adds in Pospaid this year. However, all of these came at the expense of T-Mobile or Sprint (no wonder, with 80%+ market penetration for wireless in USA, you can only get new customers by poaching from your competitors)

AT&T is doing well with its Connected Devices business, however a concern is that Standards and Business models around these new devices are not clear and their financial worth is not known.

The erstwhile prepaid kings, the carriers Cricket and Metro are suffering as the Big-4 wireless operators are getting most of the prepaid now.

Sprint is competing on pricing while it tries to retain its customers who are churning fast. The No 1 reason to win a customer now is promotion and pricing. This means price wars as are seen in $50 all you can eat plans from some carriers. Now, Sprint is even undercutting T-Mobile in pricing. (my conjecture is that the profit margin in $50 all you can eat plan is really next to nothing).

Of course wireless has lot of bright areas too on the premium side – mainly Record smartphone sales. On premium side, smartphone (driven by top smartphones like iPhone and Android phone) sales are driving fast growth.

Wireless Tablets remains an unpredictable play for the operators. This is depicted by the fact that only 1/10th of iPad tablets sold are activated on the AT&T network. Rest are using WiFi or exported out of the country. (But AT&T still scores as it has a respectable nationwide WiFi network – of course free public WiFi for broadband customers is a customer retention strategy by carriers like AT&T and not really a revenue generator).

Smartphones are driving increases in App adoption (finally a direct reference to Apps)
    – 59% smartphone owners download apps
    – 9% feature phone owners download apps

AT&T – 74% postpaid net adds in last quarter are iPhone customers (did I get it right – 74% ?).

Interesting stat from Nielsen : -950,000 netadds lost from AT&T if they lost iPhone exclusivity per Nielsen estimates. In other words, with the impending Verizon iPhone and potentially on other carriers too, AT&T might loose almost 1 million net adds per quarter. A significant number but one AT&T is already planning for most likely.

In France and other European countries, when iPhone exclusivity ended with one carrier, Apple doubled their share or more in some cases. So one can conclude that the Apple stock price may be trading at a discount if its market share is about to rise (now let me run and buy some Apple stock.. : )

Overall an excellent discussion on the 2011 Outlook for US wireless by some Industry heavyweights in the Analyst world. Congratulations to the team at Wireless Technology Forum (Atlanta) and especially to Gerry Purdy of MobileTrax for putting together this awesome event.

November 22nd, 2010

Indian GSM operators unhappy about DoT’s decision to implement 11-digit numbers

GSM operators are unhappy about DoT’s decision to implement 11-digit numbers by adding an extra 9 to all mobile numbers in the country by January 1 2010. They have made detailed presentations to the government on why such a move is harmful for the industry and consumers. This representation has been made through the COAI while AUSPI, which primarily represents the interests of Tatas, Reliance and Sistema, is in favour of moving to a 11-digit numbering plan.

COAI says the move to a 11-digit numbering plan implies that over 480 million mobile subscribers will have to re-write their numbers and update personal contact lists. Further, SIM cards will have to be upgraded as the current SIM cards are linked to the existing 10-digit numbering plan. They also warn that it would require a major upgrade for billing systems, which imposes additional costs across the board for all operators.

(Source: TNN)

December 14th, 2009

Chennai sees a flurry of activities in telecom space

Chennai in India is having flurry of activities. Recently, Reliance launched it’s GSM services starting from Chennai and at the same time UAE based telecommunications service provider Emirates Telecommunications or Etisalat has quietly begun work on its entry into the Indian market, by setting up a back office operations centre at the India Land Properties’ IT park.

June 29th, 2009

Breakthrough cellular technology can deliver viable mobile voice & data services to remote communities in India and Asia – now

Gomo News reports that on Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) across India and South Asia are reaching out across their respective regions to deliver wireless services where, until now, communities have been without even the most basic forms of telephony. The technology now exists to enable them to do so, profitably – and rapidly.

At India & South Asia Com in Mumbai, leading provider of wireless solutions for cutting the cost of communications, Altobridge, will be delivering its exclusive paper: “Cost-Effective Wireless Communications in Remote Parts of India & South Asia”, in which company Sales Director, Colm Jones, will discuss how MNOs can solve the technical, operational and business issues of delivering mobile services to their most remote, low-population user groups by using the world’s most cost-effective remote mobile communications solution – ‘The Altobridge Remote Community Solution’.

In India, less than 30% of the 1.16 billion population live in urban areas, leaving a rural population of immense proportions. Whilst less than 38 million fixed phone lines are in use across the whole country, the growth in mobile phone penetration since deregulation has been phenomenal, with 362 million mobile phones now in use with an ARPU of US$5. Combined fixed and mobile phone density, however, remains low at around 35 phones per 100 people.

Many of those without phones are spread amongst the 10,000 small, remote, rural communities in need of communications and whose only hope, technologically, is on mobile solutions combined with satellite backhaul. However, to ensure an effective ROI on any deployment, MNOs need to adopt significant changes in their core network.

This is where Indian and Asian MNOs can benefit from the technologies Altobridge has developed, which will enable them to reach out immediately with the most cost-effective solution to deliver mobile communications to these hundreds of millions of people.

Read more here…

May 16th, 2009

Fashion for the wrist…phone for staying in touch

Phenom SpecialOPS watch offers a phone and more.phenom-watch-phone

The company behind the Phenom SpecialOPS says that the target market is teens and tweens. I’m sure some of your geeky types will find it cool as well. The screen is a 1.3-inch TFT with 260K pixels that is touch-sensitive. A stylus is included for dialing with the small onscreen keyboard.

Wearers who don’t want to dial with a tiny onscreen keyboard can use the normal keypad on the watchstrap. An anemic 130-pixel camera is integrated into the watch and music in MP3 format is supported along with movies in MP4 format. Integrated Bluetooth should connect with headsets.

The phone operates on GSM, GPRS, and WAP networks with 900/1800/1900MHz frequencies. An internal battery promises two hours of talk time and 120 hours on standby. Storage is to a 256MB microSD card that is included with the watch.

Company has already established distribution channels in the US, France, Morocco, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey. Next in line is Indonesia and company is aggressively loking for channel sales partners in India.

What do you think…will it top the Indian popularity charts??? Share your thoughts…

May 15th, 2009

A Primer on LTE

LTE or Long Term Evolution is a 4G wireless technology and is considered the next in line in the GSM evolution path after UMTS/HSPDA 3G technologies. LTE is espoused and standardized via the 3GPP or 3rd Generation Partnership Project members. 3GPP is a global telecommunications consortium having members in most GSM dominant countries. 3GPP specifications are based on GSM evolution path of wireless communications. GSM is the most prevalent wireless standard in the world and has maximum number of subscribers globally.

The impact of LTE is so big that even powerful carriers which were on the alternate CDMA path like Verizon Wireless of United States, have decided to go with LTE in their next generation 4G evolution. Firms like Verizon and MetroPCS of USA have all but dumped the CDMA technology path almost dealing a blow to the CDMA owner Qualcomm, although the latter is much more diversified so it is not really short of business models.

LTE vs WiMAX
Whereas WiMAX emerged from the WiFi IP paradigm, LTE is a result of the classic GSM technology path. LTE is behind in the race to 4G with WiMAX getting an early lead with the likes of Sprint ClearWire and several operators in Asia opting to go with WiMAX in the near term. So where WiMAX has a speed to market advantage, LTE has massive adoption and GSM parenthood to back it up.

It is widely believed by market analysts that LTE will win ultimately but WiMAX will find adoption in frontrunner communities and niche business models which tend to take up technology faster. WiMAX vendors will have you believe that speed to market is too important to ignore. History suggests otherwise in case of wireless industry. It is also believed that ultimately, wireless industry will figure out a way to wed the two 4G technologies so the end product in few years might be a nice amalgam.

So ultimately, what standard an operator uses might be a moot point in the long run. The inter-operability would be just too great to get hung up on the wireless standard. The fact that both WiMAX and LTE are all-IP means that a cross-connection will be a piece of cake at some point in future.

In terms of speed, Fixed WiMAX lacks LTE in speed but Mobile WiMAX may catch up with LTE on this front. For an overview on WiMAX, refer to our post “A Primer on WiMAX“.

LTE Technology
LTE builds on 3GPP family which includes GSM, GPRS, EDGE, WCDMA, HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) etc. LTE is an all-IP standard like its peer WiMAX. LTE allows for rich applications and business models which include ultra-high speed voice, video and data. It also enables integration with the classic internet infrastructure which is all-IP based.

HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), the 3G GSM standard popular over near-term, offers uplink speeds of 11.5 MBPS and downlink of 28 MBPS. Whereas LTE offers 75-100 MBPS Uplink speeds and 250-300 MBPS downlink speeds. Compare this with 20 MBPS U-verse speeds of AT&T wired broadband network U-verse and 50 MBPS speeds in Verizon FIOS TV service. In a nutshell, LTE will beat the fastest wired broadband delivery High Def TV today (in USA) by order of 1 to 4 or 1 to 2 depending on which wired broadband we are talking about. That said, many carriers like AT&T believe that HSPA and its faster cousin HSPA+ will compare well with early WiMAX speeds and so there is no rush to LTE yet for these kind of carriers.

Some key characteristics of LTE are described below :

  • Increased Data Rates and High Efficiency : LTE is based on OFDM Radio Access technology and MIMO antenna technology (just like its cousin WiMAX) which offer excellent modulation technique for achieving powerful spectral efficiency.  Think of the OFDM wireless spectrum as a series of very fine and narrow wireless  bands and each band gets allocated to various service providers.  LTE offers higher data transmission rates while utilizing the spectrum more efficiently. This translates to an ability to support many more multitude of subscribers than is possible with pre-4G spectral frequencies. LTE is 2 to 5 times more efficient in spectrum utilization than the most advanced 3G networks.
  • Radio Planning : LTE signal goes far and wide and covers a larger geographic territory. LTE signal is way faster than the existing wireless transmission resulting in higher user response times.
  • IP environment : LTE is all-IP which permits new enhanced applications like real time voice, video, gaming, social networking and location-based services.  The concept of wireless ubiquity comes alive with LTE processor chips in everything from netbooks to mobile phones to consumer devices; all these devices talk to each other seamlessly and effortlessly.
  • Inter-operability : LTE IP network co-operates with circuit-switched legacy networks resulting in a seamless network environment and signals are exchanged between traditional networks, the new 4G network and the IP-based internet seamlessly.

LTE Applications
LTE will enable applications previously unheard of. Wireless ubiquity is a given. All consumer devices. communication and computing resources may be enabled on the wireless network courtesy of chipmakers like Intel who are eagerly building in WiMAX and LTE in future chipsets which will be embedded in all sorts of technology devices that one can imagine.  Social Networking and human-technology interaction (HTI) will take on a new meaning. Human-technology interface and resultant communication could be as seamless and as effortless as the Tom Cruise movie Minority Report makes it out to be (ok we are bragging a bit now).

Web 4.0, if you will, may just comprise the Wireless as an integral element of the hyper-connected world via LTE and WiMAX enablement.  Broadband TV might not need wired cables anymore and new MVNO service providers may emerge who enable wirelessly driven TV and broadband internet. Business users might exchange massive amounts of data while on the go at the flick of a button (or touch). Interacting with your Flickr and Picasas photo streams from mobile devices might be a breeze. Games will cross wired / wireless domains and mobile location will figure in the gaming context naturally. Location-based may take a new meaning with location being the true IP beacon determining the application context in a flash, thereby offering a ultra-personalized mobile experience to the user.

LTE Timeline
Operators are just now fully deploying 3G using WCDMA or UMTS/HSPDA. WiMAX is coming in via ClearWire in USA and several operators like BSNL in India and many others in Middle East and Africa. The first LTE deployment in USA is with relatively tiny MetroPCS which may just beat the big 3 LTE carriers (AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile) in the race to 4G. Verizon is claiming 2010 LTE deployment and AT&T is taking a more patient approach and states that LTE is in 2011-12 timeframe. China is unique, as usual. They have taken the TD-SCDMA 3G route which is a “unique to China” standard.  Chinese 4G strategy is not clear still. India is more LTE centric like the West with major carriers like Airtel and Vodafone adopting the LTE route. LTE in India is many years away as India’s regulator TRAI has not even awarded the 3G spectrum licenses yet.

Japan, we won’t even go there..

April 6th, 2009

Attended the Wireless Technology Forum (Atlanta) General Meeting on Wireless Consumer Apps

I visited the Wireless Technology Forum‘s General Meeting today. WTF is the top wireless networking group in Atlanta with 550 members and growing rapidly. The topic for today’s session was “Where is the Money in Wireless Consumer Applications?

The WTF session today had an excellent panel :

Ken Hayes, EVP – Carrier Relations, ThumbPlay
Rob Hyatt, Executive Director, AT&T Mobility
Andy McGuire, VP Mobile Innovation, GSM Association
Andrew Dod, VP Marketing, Whoop Mobile
Ron Kozoman, Director, Mobile Operations, Turner Broadcasting Systems

Moderator : Maury Margol, Sr. Director, Client Relations, Nielsen Telecom Practice

Here are some highlights from the panel discussion :

As one would expect, iPhone has come to dominate all things mobile internet in current times. Basic theme all throughout the discussion was that the iPhone is a game changer in mobile app world. It has shown the world how the mobile user experience should be and how to influence consumer adoption with a compelling application portfolio.

Which mobile apps are making money today ? Ken suggested it is the iPhone apps with its AppStore strategy.  3 years from now, it will be LBS which will be main revenue generator in mobile apps. Andy McGuire suggested that 800 million iPhone application downloads so far is the tip of the iceberg. It is an indicator that developers and consumers are there if the ecosystem is right.  He mentioned that in future, one might see utility models like medical and home apps on mobile phones. One panelist opined that in spite of all the iPhone AppStore hoopla and massive no of apps available, money is still being made in limited categories like games and music.

On the question of wired devices, the panel was of the opinion that in future there will be lot of wireless devices which will preclude the need to have a wired network but higher speed apps will still find a use for wired networking eg in case of high speed TV. Andy quoted Sony CEO’s statement that in the future, 90% of devices may be wirelessly-enabled. Clearly wireless is the future for all networks but for reasons of speed and niche uses, wired devices and network will still prevail in some areas. Some interesting uses of wireless will be wireless blood pressure monitor, reservoir monitors etc.

On the question as to how a carrier like AT&T makes money in “open mobile” environments like iPhone AppStore, Rob from AT&T mentioned that iPhone has increased data plan sales for AT&T and also AT&T itself makes some of the iPhone apps.  Plus AT&T attracts a huge no of new subscribers due to the iPhone exclusivity. In essence, AT&T has lots of monetization models around iPhone type of devices where the volume of customer adoption more than covers for the revenue lost due to “open” mobile gardens like iPhone AppStore.

Next there was a question – how can developers make money in mobile apps? The panel was of the opinion that there are lot of apps being made and put out most of the times for free. Lot of these apps are simply experimental in nature or are hobby apps with no business model around them. The panel suggested that developers need to think through the business model when writing apps. Most apps peak and then are forgotten in the ever increasing mass of mobile apps on iPhone AppStore. As to mobile ads inside the mobile apps, it is a nascent idea at this point but in future, this will become a bigger source of revenue vs a download fee. One panelist suggested that considering the fact that there are 4 times the no of mobiles in the world compared to no of PCs, there is a dearth of content for mobile so that is an area which developers can look at. Also RIM has stated that minimum pricing for BlackBerry App Store app will be $2.99 – this may invite more serious developers who have a revenue-generating business model in mind.

Per Robb Hyatt from AT&T, iPhone took AT&T Mobility from “2nd innings straight to 5th innings” in mobile data; I found this interesting.

When asked where does Google come into picture, the panelists mused that it is one of many players unlike in internet where it dominates via search. One interesting aspect about Google Android is that it has reduced manufacturing costs for OEMs (read cellphone makers) dramatically. Eg Samsung or Motorola no longer have to spend tons in maintaining custom mobile OS for its phones. It can focus on making compelling phones and just use Android for mobile OS.

On Mobile Payments, the panel thought that Near Field Communications or NFC payments are still in infancy although other countries are slightly ahead of USA in this area.  Also consumers need to become comfortable about security before mass adoption of Mobile Banking will be seen. Andy gave an example of “Banking for the Unbanked” in Kenya on Safaricom network and its mobile payment offering called m-pesa. The 7 million m-pesa customers use mobile as a payment mechanism and receive paychecks on it. This is excellent innovation in mobile payment. Everybody agreed that mobile payments and banking is a trust model as much as it is a technology model.

Then the natural question : has recession effected mobile apps business ? Apparently not, per the panel. It seems consumers will not give up mobile and its little entertainment oriented apps just like they won’t give up on movies in a downtime. Mobile is an essential device today for a consumer.

All panelists agreed that there is lot of innovation remaining in mobile app arena. The primary gaps remain in user experience and business model evolution. iPhone experience is the beginning and not the end.

Well, very informative and highly intuitive discussion. Thanks to the panel and to the organizing team at the WTF – Maury Margol, Bob McIntyre and Steve Bachman.

March 19th, 2009

Video Streaming on Mobile in India to get a major boost soon…

Yes. You read it right…video streaming on mobile will be a norm soon in India as the latest findings say that Indian internet users are vehemently using their mobiles to keep themselves connected to Internet. Thirty-eight million Indians use their handsets to browse the web as of today. The number of people using their mobile handsets to access the web is now over four times those using a PC.

I was talking to a senior executive recently from USA and he said that opportunities in Indian market are plenty as not even 10 million  people in India have internet access and many businesses are still not on internet. So, they would like to penetrate India fast so as to cash the opportunity in time. And now with the above study, opportunity has gone over board as business are required to be taken from paper to internet and then onto mobile or should I say…directly from offline to wireless. Amazing.

The findings based on a report of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) also stated that even as net connections fell in the year 2007, the number of people accessing the web on their cellphones increased from16 million to cross the 38 million mark. This included both CDMA and GSM users logging on to the Internet to surf, check email etc, among whom the number of ‘active’ Internet users in India currently stands at 32.2 million. The average usage per week on the traditional web stood at 2.4 days. Access using Mobile web surprisingly stood slightly higher at 2.7 days per week.

We have been getting queries as to how we can help companies to stream their online videos to mobile and these company executives are more excited then I am, to access their online videos on mobile any time, any where on the go…If all goes like this, time is not far when all companies, if not all Indians will be having their own mobile videos.

February 11th, 2009

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