August 2009 Archives

The iPhone Wave Hits China

August 30, 2009 9:52 AM
The recent announcement by China Unicom that they will offer iPhones in China ( is evidence of the surging demand for smartphones among the masses.  Unfortunately, the Chinese government requires them to disable the WiFi capability on the device which will significantly limit some of it's capabilities.  Never-the-less, the iPhone coupled with a growing middle-class with an appetite for entertainment could create a whole new wireless economy and social fabric in China.  Depending on how the app-store model takes root, there could be a new wave of Chinese entrepreneurs launcing apps to address everything from games to business productivity.   Hopefully Unicom's network is ready for the Tsunami.

4G is about more than just Bandwidth

August 25, 2009 10:59 PM
While people obsess over the bandwidth that will be available in 4G networks like WiMax and LTE (and 100Mbps+ is pretty incredible), 4G is about much more than just speed.  Just as powerful is the interconnection of different network types including fixed networks, WPANs and WANs (Bluetooth, WiFi) and sensor networks like Zigbee.  This wireless "cloud" will enable a whole new level of interconnection among people and things.  An example of a company operating in the connecting "things" space is UgMO ( , a PA-based company that provides wirelessly connected ground sensors for monitoring the health of turf on athletic fields.  The sensors can rely info back to an IP network using Zigbee.
Nokia has agreed to incorporate eco-sensors on an experimental handset ( that can mesaure air quality and pollution.  Readings from individuals can then be fed into a larger map for research purposes (Carnegia Mellon is working on this).   All of these applications will be further enabled by the wireless cloud coming as part of 4G.
Continue Reading...

Examples of 4G and Digital Swarms

August 22, 2009 9:23 PM
This is hopefully the first of many entries on early examples of Digital Swarms enabled by 4G wireless technology.  In my book, The New World of Wireless: How to Compete in the 4G Revolution (Wharton School Publishing, Amazon), I define Digital Swarms as a distributed group of wirelessly connected users and objects acting in a semi-coordinated fashion around a common purpose.  Ubiquitous wireless and social networks are the underlying platforms that allow digital swarms to occur.

Digital Swarms will redefine everything from more efficient sales forces and supply chains to pervasive retail and virtual entertainment.  But it is not clear that enterprises and their leaders arer ready for this transformation.

As wireless moves to more distributed, context-aware, user-centric networks with 4G, disruptive innovation and new business models will become more frequent.  The World Wireless Research Forum ( sets a goal for 4G of servicing 7 billion users and 7 trillion connected objects via wireless networks.  If you do the math, this implies each person will be wireelssly connected to around 1000 objects in their day-to-day life.  Everything from smart refrigerators to electric meters will be chirping into the network to provide data and get new commands.  Media devices such as camcorders, game consoles, music players, e-readers will automatically exchange data and optimize content for users.  This Swarm will center around users and their specific context and needs.  This will create a natural tension between carriers, application and content providers, and device manufacturers (as if this did not exist already!).  The ones that find a way to integrate the user into their innovation path will gain the greatest market power and profits.

Verizon and Qualcomm just recently announced a venture, nPhase, to service the m2m (machine-to-machine) market which is expected to have 430 million connected devices by 2013 according to Harbor Research.  Other reports have the size of the market exceeding $40B by 2011.  This seems like a smart move, esepcially given that others players have begun to move there (AT&T with Jasper, Kore Telematics, etc)

As we evolve beyond RFID with NFC, Zigbee, and Blueetooth/UWB enabled sensor networks with the overlay of 4G networks (LTE, WiMax) and an all-IPv6 core, this area should explode.  It may be one of the first and most profitable examples of swarms and 4G we will see.  The big question is who will control these networks?  Will the carriers simply provide connectivity or get into the game of managing distributed sensor/object nets?  Stay tuned. Continue Reading...

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