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

ViziApps: A Great Tool for the Citizen Developer Revolution

Recently I had to prototype an iOS app for a project I am working on and did a lot of research to...

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Execution, Flexibility, Safety, Ease of Use Key to Digital Success - Lessons from Gitex 2016

The etisalat and Nissan Smart Car collaboration, the robot policeman, and James Baresse's presentation on three needs for digital payment system success...

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Are You Managing Hours or Outcomes?

Another consultant is having a trying experience with a client. The client wants to see the consultant in the office more,...

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Whatever Happened to Dialogic Boards?

I stopped wearing Dialogic shirts in airports many many years ago, simply because I often got stopped by people who used our...

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ORBCOMM Looks to Become Complete IoT Solutions Service Provider

One of the topics discussed often among communications service providers is whether they want to be relegated to dumb pipes or they...

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Your Phone Just Ate Your Car Key

Are you ready for your new digital future? It’s a great question to ask as the role your mobile phone plays in...

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Doing Business in a Busy, Blurred Environment

Logging on to LinkedIn these days, I have to remind myself that it is in fact LI and not Facebook. The...

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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.

Tags: ATT, Hank Hultquist, Kris Rinne, USF, Wireless Broadband, e-rate, high cost

Apple you Win, I Bought and 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 for 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.

Tags: ATT, AppStore, Apple, MiFi, Skype, Verizon Wireless, iPhone, iTouch

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.

Tags: 3, EU, Hutcheson, O2, Orange, Sprint, T-Mobile, Telefonica, UK, United Kingdom, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone

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
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.