Carl Ford : 4G Wireless Evolution
Carl Ford
| 4G is the next evolution in wireless technology. Discover how 4G will transform the wireless industry

September 2009

You are browsing the archive for September 2009.

Ceilings and Floors: Vodafone and Verizon

September 25, 2009

It's game of inches as they say. 

I have been looking at the reporting about Verizon's App Store activity and find the perspective of some pundits troubling.

As I reported when I went to the Verizon Developers Conference, the goal Verizon has is very different than being the equivalent of the iTunes AppStore.

Lets be honest, how many of us have looked at all 65,000 apps, and how many of us really want to.

Verizon announced a partnership with Vodafone, China Mobile and Softbank to deliver applications their way.  Very specfically Verizon was looking to open the interfaces for location, billing and trust (security).  I noted that their strategy was associated with a API that masked alot of the behind the scenes OSS work. 

Carriers and cellphone vendors have procedures for turning on the phone that represent over 100 steps in provisioning and configuration.  Verizon has tried to make the network valuable without having the carrier's internal OSS stifle the developer.  The one requirement is work within a framework. A lot of the companies that are on the iPhone do not like this framework, and it shows in in the blogosphere.

So Vodafone makes its announcement about their efforts to build Vodafone 360 which to me is a another strategy in keeping with the alliance, but is not getting the anger yet.

I think the reason maybe be that Verizon is in the California footprint and the developers are asked all the time "Can I use it on my phone" and since VZW is big in California, the answer frustrating.















My Instincts about the Korean market opening up for iPhone

September 24, 2009

It will be interesting to see what happens next, now that the Korean Communications Commission has okayed the importing of iPhones and Blackberries. 

Korean has a very saturated market, so I would not expect a fast migration.  However I would expect to see improvements from Samsung in software strategies, including an adoption of Android in the states.

It has been interesting to observe Kanji based cell phone users, They have a phonetic use of the alphabetic keyboard that makes their sms messages happen quite quickly.  I am not sure the soft key boards on a screen are going to add any value to most users.

Additionally most games in Asia have found their way through existing solutions, so I am not sure how much additional value the app store will bring to the table.

Of course on a sheer numbers market perspective the adoption will probably be astounding, but like Telefonica, I think the more interesting question is what impact it will have on carrier adoption.









Significant Skype Snipes

September 21, 2009

I  am always impressed with Skype.  The user interface is good, the business strategy is clever and left to themselve's they have carved out significant marketshare of communication users without technically being a carrier.

That is a difficult road to travel.  Virgin Mobile, Vonage, Packet8 and most MVNOs have not been able to navigate that agile path as nimbly.

So if the Janus has been jilted by the former Joltid's CEO the question is does that mean an end to IPR held by Janus and Niklas?  A friend has pointed to the irony of the Kazaa IPR owners claiming foul over copyright rules. 

Inside Avaya there is a lot of buzz about being able to join the Skype ecosystem.  It could take on a lot of different strategies, from developing media server solutions, interfacing like Digium has to the Skype network, or my favorite, federating the pbx's with supernode abilities.

Federating has been a giant problem, because the long tail of the federating has been elusive.  I was very close to it once, and the company I helped to form got lost in the weeds.  See the thing they forget to tell you about the long tail first mover is that it's the new category creation that is the key.

But if Silver Lake's Skype acquisition goes through, in theory Avaya's federation has found a new home and its not aligned with a network operator.

On the other hand if Janus and Niklas win their war, its not about enabling the enterprise for them.  The path that the current team has been on in deepening the ecosystem.  I am not sure if the partner program would be totally restored, but I would bet that it would at least be reorganized.  (As you know it was killed shortly after the announcement of the acquisition)  This could have been just an issue of not hosting it with the Ebay types, which had hosted the community as a subset for a while.

If Niklas negates the deal, the question of "what is next?" becomes significant.  Without a clear path, Skype could go the way of Alta Vista, AOL, and other industry movers. If the objection is one of allowing Skype to go IPO I think that works. If it is about the IP embedded in the system and the licensing deal is the real issue, that should be addressable.  (I have stated my view previously).

I am sure Ebay would love for this to be over, but like a diamond that is going to be cut, the next move is the significant one.  Let's hope it makes the service more precious.















Niklas and Janus Jolts Ebay WTF?

September 15, 2009

Hmmmn,

I guess the world is truly in a state of chaos.

According to Reuter's the Skype founders are suing Ebay and Silver Lake over their skype deal.

I am not sure, how this happened.

Many of us who had been looking at the skype sale, knew that Niklas and Janus had to be managed. 

It may be the knee jerk reaction that had Ebay buy Skype is still part of the culture in selling it.

On the other hand, given the Skype development team has not managed to publicly migrate away from the piece of core technology from Niklas and Janus. 

Many of us believed that the acquistion of Paradial would have been appropriate.  It maybe that Paradial represents some prior art of value in the network.

Regardless,  it should be interesting to see how this is resolved.















Should the Universal Service Fund Include Wireless Broadband

September 15, 2009

In a panel discussion at 4G world the general opinion was that USF will be modified to include the ability to support wireless broadband strategies.

"Their is growing consensus that Universal Service should include wireless" said Hank Hultquist of ATT.  Many panel members echoed these comments, but the details as to what will be included were not the full topic of the discussion.

Currently the definition of broadband is under discussion at the FCC. 

Many carriers are worried that a definition now may be unattainable as they service the growing data needs of the consumer.  Previously Kris Rinne, 4G CTO of ATT, stated that they were seeing a 4000%  growth in the data traffic since the adoption of the iPhone and other smartphones.

Questions that will have to be addressed include whether the addition of wireless to the fund will be associated with reform to the fund itself or as an addition.  Current adminstration members were instrumental in the development of the USF in the Clinton adminstration and have a favorable view to the model.

However the costs associated with the High Cost land line services may not be valid when talking about Wireless strategies, and it may be that the inclusion represents alternative services as well via the E-rate model.

It has been suggested that many of the proposals attempting to use the stimulus dollars are similar in ownership structure associated with E-rate.











Apple you Win, I Bought the iTouch!

September 10, 2009

As my regular readers know, I am Apple user but not and Apple fan.

As so many of my friends around me are using the iPhone and telling me how cool it is, while never making a call with it.  I decided the best AV tool I could use to get my points across was an iTouch.

I bought the iTouch paid extra for the microphone headset and gave it access to my Verizon MiFi.  I then downloaded skype with an outbound international dialing service.  What are the points I am trying to get across?

1) the iPhone is a gadget not a smart phone.  The best application I have seen on the iPhone that is telecom related is Calliflower, but even that is just as good if not better on the web. It really is a gaming device that you can by virtual cartridges at the app store.
2) the App Store has nothing to do with the 3G.  When spectrum was ransomed with the hope of new services, the apps and the network were suppose to be a blend.  We have still yet to find a purpose to be married and the app store is little more than a WAP gateway of control.
3) the Apps are in the store, because it is a gateway.  For all the talk of the 65,000 plus applications, It is nothing in comparison to the Internet itself and the value of Internet is repackaged within the store.
4) the network is the Internet, no offense to ATT.  The ability to deliver worldwide connectivity can not be over emphasized. The iPhone / iTouch are beautiful devices, but it would be a wrong to consider them valuable as a network device.

As you should have expected its a poor concession speech, but its a beautifully designed device.
















In the UK, resistance to drink the Orange T

September 9, 2009

I was looking at Guardian reading about the merger of the Orange and T-Mobile assets in the UK.  This 50/50 merger seems to me a great deal particularly for T-Mobile.  Orange from most accounts was the better built out network than the T-Mobile acquired assets.

I expect that some consumer concerns are going to impact the restrictions on the merger but the merger will go through.  The biggest issue is that Vodafone the UK based company just got passed in market share by other carriers making them number 3.

Its a vibrant market and if O2 was allowed to become part of Telfonica, and has Hutcheson (branded as 3) representing other foreign investors in the space the consolidation of foreign investors is a good thing. 

As for impact, I could make a case that 3 and Virgin will find a way to work together.  By in large Richard Branson has lost his taste for Telecom is more focused on energy issues (even before smart grid became the fad).  However, the opportunity may be with one of the other large players.

The analysis in the UK about the need for 5 wireless competitors should be put in perspective to the EU's over all view.  The EU commission sees all the services as blended, as ultimately they are, so landline operators, cable and other technologies should be pointed out as reasons to think beyond the monopolistic fears.

On a worldwide scale the more interesting question is should we expect more of the same.  I have often felt that T-Mobile and Sprint would be a good combination, but they do not have a common history in the US.  But strangely enough, Orange has a past with Sprint, so maybe the ball will get rolling towards some US talks.









LTE Reality Check

September 9, 2009

Of all the sessions i attended at 4GWE my biggest wake up call came from the sessions featuring Frank Schirrmeister of Synopsys, Chris Rowen of Tensilica and Frank Vincze of Steepest Ascent.

With the standards released almost a year ago to the day of the conference, the normal cycle for chip production is over 2 years.  And thanks to the work of companies like Steepest Ascent, the library of standards actually has a chance to be interoperable.  Even the largest companies will use the products from our speakers to assure some sort of independent testing.

So as Verizon pushes to get LTE out there as soon as possible the chipset is going through the iterative stage of development.  This further points out that Verizon is willing to bleed a little on the edge like it did with FIOS.

However, the odds are likely that the development effort will have a few hiccups along the way.  The question is will it be only apparent to the network operator, or will it be noticable to the end user.

I got the impression from Chris Rowen, that a great deal of the issues can be hidden in the development of the chips, if you have a bold enough vision of the processing strategy.

In the end the testing that Synopsys enables a sense of security in rolling out services.

I thank the panel for enlightening me.











Testing a Big Question for 'Open' 4G Devices

September 3, 2009

There was a little cold-water type reality splashed on the audience at the morning panels here Thursday at the 4GWE conference, specifically around the notion of 4G network and device testing -- a relatively non-sexy topic that may nevertheless slow down the delivery of all the new devices promised for the 4G networks of the future.

The problem, as outlined by the panelists, is that with the increased bandwidth and increased functionality of the mobile devices of the future comes exponential requirements for testing to make sure the devices and the applications residing on them work as promised.

There was some deep-dive material that we're not going to get into right now (check this space for an update when we post the panel presentations) but on a simpler plane panelists like David Gehringer, VP of marketing for Fanfare Software, noted that things like the IEEE standards, say for mobile WiMAX, are really just the starting point for delivering a working device.

"It's nice to have a standard, but it's really just the ante," Gehringer said. After you meet the baseline standard specs, he said, "then the real testing starts."

Fanny Mlinarsky, president of octoScope, said that in the past testing mobile devices was relatively simple, since they typically only had one radio inside. Now, multiple radios -- different cellular bands, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth -- are a given, as are multiple applications, sometimes from third parties outside the carrier's own operations.

The complexity, she said, makes testing devices a much harder task these days. Even Apple's iPhone, which all panelists agreed was an extremely well-tested device from the manufacturer's standpoint, has attracted a wide range of add-on applications, some of which perform better than others -- especially when it comes to battery usage.

"That's why iPhone users stay close to the power plug," Mlinarsky said.


 














Bandwidth Update -- Towerstream Holding Strong

September 2, 2009

Here's another look at the WiMAX-fueled bandwidth we are enjoying here at the 4GWE conference -- thanks to Towerstream. (For clarity's sake Towerstream CEO Jeff Thompson said the 10 Mbps link is not "official" WiMAX but a proprietary Towerstream implementation... to us it's just backhaul and it's working pretty well.)

This link is from the WiMAX to a Wi-Fi access point... lots of folks on the net, very few problems.

Liveblogging -- Femtocell Session

September 2, 2009

There's an overflow crowd here at the 4GWE session on femtocells, so I'll try some liveblogging to keep you in the flow of the discussion if you're not here in the room with us. Keep refreshing this post, we are adding as it goes along.

What is a femtocell? David Chambers from Amdocs, our session moderator, gives the overview: It is basically a "complete [cellular] base station, shrunk to size."

Chambers says North America is a ripe femto market, since it has poor cellular coverage, good wired broadband, and people with money to spend. Theoretically :-)
David Nowicki, VP of marketing and product management from femto manufacturer Airvana, now speaking.




Developers Have the Upper Hand in 4G Apps Ecosystem

September 2, 2009

Two afternoon panels Tuesday at the 4GWE conference here in Los Angeles made it clear that software developers, and not carriers, will drive innovation when it comes to 4G wireless applications of the future. The big, unanswered question is if, how and when two very different camps -- developers and service providers -- will work together in a fashion profitable for both camps.

There was more than a little animosity on display during the panel talks, and perhaps it was a good idea to keep developers on one panel, and service provders (and their large-equipment vendor partners) on another. Francisco Kattan, who is newly signed on at Alcatel-Lucent as senior director of the company's developer ecosystem, said that while in the past developers "had to beg" to get on any provider's mobile application "deck," with the iPhone and its revolutionary App Store, "the tables have now turned and competition for developers is at an all-time high."

But while device manufacturers (Nokia, RIM) and large service providers (Verizon) are trying to catch up to Apple by establishing developer programs and appliction stores, developers aren't so sure that the old guard are the best leaders for the 4G app development future. "Maybe operators shouldn't be running an apps store," said Shai Berger, CEO of Fonolo, which builds applications that allow users to bypass automated dialing systems.



4GWE: Development Tools

September 2, 2009


Development Tools for 4G Hardware and Software, Part 1
(4G4-01)
Wednesday - 09/02/09,  8:30-9:45am
The mathematical theory often associated with wireless and mobile physical layer algroithms are complex and require a lot of thought when looking for new solutions in the wireless network. OFDM and MIMO are at the base of these algorithms. These sessions provides an intuitive and straightforward view beneficial to a wide audience of engineers and project managers.


After an overview of the discussion about how to design a 4G device from Frank Schirrmeister of Synopsys, Frank Vincze of Steepest Ascent talked about the library software.

The Library from Steepest Ascent deals with issues of channel optimisation, MIMO, and other LTE device management charteristics.

Operations that are needed to manage the development of the device in a set of libraries that take you through the OSI stack. 

Frequency Division Duplexing and the transciever functions are all within the library. 

The library has prebuilt models that represent some standard models of design.  This allows product differentiation to be done in relation to some standard sets that include test scenarios.  All of this done within the Math Kernel Library within System Studio.

Frequency is the subcarrier which makes up the orthogonal portion of the  OFDM strategy.

LTE uses a number of channel coding techniques in LTE.

The channel that makes the bitstream is controlled with a blended data channel and the control channel. 

All this signal processing equates to the throughput of the device. 

The algorithm in the MLK are put into the parameter blocks represented in software to enable the developer to manage the design through a GUI tool.

In LTE there are a number of reserved spaces in the packet format of the signal.

The blocks are the Scrambler, Symbol Modulation,  Layer Mapper and Precoder.  After your precode is completed it gets added to the LTE reserved signalling formats.

By using the libraries you get the benefit of testing against real data.






























Voice on 4G? Inevitable... But Not Anytime Soon

September 1, 2009

With back to back sessions this afternoon at the 4GWE Conference, it's tough to cram all this great info into short blog posts (but of course that won't stop us from trying). In a panel this afternoon about Giving Voice to 4G, the bottom line seemed to be that given the advanced characteristics of 4G delivery technologies (mainly LTE, but WiMAX too), it shouldn't be a problem to eventually add voice to a 4G wireless service. The harder part? Trying to decide which technological path to take, and how to mix voice in without killing off existing 2G and 3G services, which rely on voice margins for profit.

Mehmet Balos, CTO of Genband, did a good job of explaining the different methods being considered for Voice over 4G -- basically either a 2G-compatible direction, a method called VoLGA, or a full-blown IMS.

Mobile Social Applications: How Carriers Can Help the Conversation

September 1, 2009

The panel here at 4GWE on Mobile Social Applications picked up a theme from Brough Turner's earlier presentation -- that there is a big potential audience for applications that make use of mobile data owned by the provider, such as a user's location, their status, etc., especially when linked in a sharing fashion, such as on Facebook or Twitter.

Troy Cross, head of sales at voice-recognition supplier Vlingo, said that mobile access to social networking applications "allows you to connect to your friends faster," a "significant behaviorial change" as opposed to updating Facebook only when you are sitting behind a PC or laptop.

Shoshana Loeb, executive director and chief scientist at Telcordia, said there will be personal tradeoffs that will determine how successful mobile social media devices and applications will be -- such as cost for perceived value, and whether or not people feel comfortable allowing personal data like location to be shared.

"The technology allows you to lose your privacy much more easily" than in the past, Loeb said, guessing that governments everywhere will soon look more closely at the privacy concerns of mobile customers. Vlingo's Cross also predicted a "tsnuami" of regulation related to use of mobile data while driving, as consumers go on beyond simple "texting while driving" to trying to update a Facebook page while behind the wheel.

Nokia's Timothy Jasionowski opined that the industry now is at the state of "throwing rocks at each other," but that widespread availability of GPS-enabled phones has "opened up a giant laboratory" for experimentation. One unanswered question from the audience: How can corporations make use of mobile social networking technologies? Ideas?







Brough Turner: App Developers Will Lead Mobile Innovation

September 1, 2009

If there was one key takeaway from Brough Turner's excellent kickoff presentation Tuesday at the 4GWE conference it was that application developers, and not the carriers themselves, will lead the way when it comes to the next opportunities for the mobile Web.

"The initiative has passed to application developers, and that's something the [service] providers now concede," said Turner, at the end of a far-reaching look back at the development of mobile data usage, and where the future lies.

Some key trends for the future as identified by Turner:

-- Apple's iPhone and its app store are the wave of the future everyone else will copy. "It's just an easier method of discovery and distribution," said Turner.

-- More and more smartphones will ship from multiple providers. "The iPhone has shown what is possible, and everyone's scrambling to provide a similar rich browsing experience," Turner said.

-- There won't be a PC-like consolidation of the mobile platform market anytime soon, due to the wide choice of devices, operating systems and presentation methods -- none of which has established a Windows-like superiority over any other. Turner said that at least three to five mobile formats -- iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and perhaps one more -- should remain relevant enough for the near future to continue to attract developer attention.









Does your 4G Device Communicate of Compute?

September 1, 2009

Does your 4G Device Communicate or Compute?
(4G2-02)
Tuesday - 09/01/09,  10:30-11:45am
Cell phones provide texting, email, browsing and picture taking capabilities. Many consumers think of their phone as a computer while the computer manufacturers see computing opportunities for mobile internet devices. What leading applications will drive manufacturers to build a cell phone that computes or a computer to communicate? In a 4G world, how many devices is the consumer willing to own?



The 4GWE Conference is Connected at 4G Speed -- Thanks Towerstream

September 1, 2009

This is how fast we are connected here at the LA Convention Center... thanks to
a WiMAX link from Towerstream:
 

4GWE: Beyond the Phone: Mobile Internet Devices

September 1, 2009

Beyond the Phone: Mobile Internet Devices
(4G2-01)
Tuesday - 09/01/09,  9:00-10:15am
Mobile Internet Devices will enable exciting new applications for the broadband consumer. How will smartphones and netbooks change the way we work and play. What are the major differences between these two categories of devices and will they eventually blend into one type of device? What unique services will MID's provide access to?



Skype Sale has 4GWE Buzzing

September 1, 2009

Talk about a wake-up call -- as folks file in for today's 4G Wireless Evolution conference here in Los Angeles, everyone is talking about the sale of Skype to some Silicon Valley private investors at a valuation of $2.75 billion.

Though the news of the deal was first reported last week by TechCrunch, we like our old pal Om's take on why eBay shareholders shouldn't feel so good about the deal. For VoIP veterans on hand here in Los Angeles, the deal brings back memories of the 2005 VON Fall show in Boston, when the first "Skype Sale" deal put a big number on the enthusiasm behind Internet voice. What does the current deal tell us about the state of the industry in 2009? That is one topic we are sure to hear more about this week at 4GWE and IT Expo.

Towerstream Delivers 4G to 4GWE

September 1, 2009

I am sitting at the Staples Convention center on a 22 MB pipe reaching out to the world at a speed I can't replicate at my home, in the car, in the office.

The reason is that Towerstream delivered a WiMAX service to the 4GWE for us to show what is available today.

We have closed the network but our participants will be able to zoom out on the net.

Zoom Zoom is not only for Nissan.