Carl Ford : 4G: For Generations to Come
Carl Ford

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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.

Tags: Chris Rowen, Frank Schirrmeister, Frank Vincze, Steepest Ascent, Synopsys, TenSilica, Verizon Wireless

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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.

Tags: Towerstream, Wi-Fi, WiMAX





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.

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. Talking about the femto forum -- industry group promoting femto standards.

Femto Forum -- 43 operators, covering 1.3 billion subscribers; 17 of the top 20 mobile operators playing together.

What does the consumer get out of installing a femto?








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?