Friday, October 30, 2009

Whitespaces--Rollouts Beginning

White spaces refers to unused frequencies and has gained interest after the FCC allowed users to create their own devices and use the space unlicensed as long as they don't interfere with existing licensed users. In addition to academic research, technology vendors such as Microsoft, Google and others are lining up to make use of the space through software defined radio and cognitive radio techniques. Applications for the white spaces could be almost anything although commercially viable standards such as WiFi will play a prominent role.

Deployments have begun with the first one rolling out in rural Virginia called Claudville. Due to the lack of broadband access, the county setup a WiFi-like connection using the white space. Other applications include public safety usage, education and enterprise video conferencing, mesh and adhoc networks, video surveillance, and enterprise networking. Other applications include machine to machine communication, vehicle and asset tracking, and backhaul.

Best regards,

Hall T.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Broadband Wireless--WiMAX

I blogged a few weeks ago about LTE rolling out and how it will compete against WiMAX. WiMAX also known as 802.16 is a wireless network for metropolitan areas. Similar to WiFI which covers a range up to 100 feet, WiMAX provides a wireless network but on a longer range anywhere from 3 to 30 miles. WiMAX has a first mover advantage over LTE as the rollouts are in advance of LTE's and is more open than LTE which could be the deciding factor in winning over LTE as the data driven market of the internet requires flexibility. The challenge for WiMAX beyond gaining traction with the market at a cost rollout that is reasonable (which everyone faces) is security. WiMAX doesn't mitigate the issues with security that WiFi faced but only extends the range of the signal a distance further. Clearwire is rolling out WiMAX service in the following ten areas: Abilene, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Killeen/Temple, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Waco and Wichita Falls, Texas; Bellingham, Wash; or Boise, Idaho.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Femtocells and Personal Base Stations

As mobile phones become more common, so do femtocells which are sometimes called personal base stations. They extend coverage and capacity indoors. Because users continue to cut their landline and rely solely on the mobile phone, personal base stations see increasing usage by making the mobile phone more productive in the residential setting. It will provide higher data performance, better voice quality, enhanced emergency services (it can provide your location more accurately), and convergence of VoIP services.

The key issue with femtocell adoption is the interference with macro base stations and with other femtocells. Additional capabilities will need to be installed with the femotcells to prevent this.

Femtocells are commercially available in Japan and are in trials throughout the US by most of the carriers. In the west, Femtocells are seeing cautious acceptance. In this post the author watches in horror as 3G dongles gain acceptance over femtocells in spite of high costs and limited bandwidth.

For all things Femtocell related check out this website.

Best regards,

Hall T.

Friday, October 09, 2009

3GPP Long Term Evolution--Higher Throughput

LTE or Long Term Evolution is the last step toward 4th generation cell phones. It is designed to increase the speed and capacity of the wireless network. The specification calls for a 100 Mbps downlink and 50 Mbps uplink although in the final implementation it will be much slower. It should have lower latency and provide passing through of older standards such as GSM, CDMA, and CDMA2000.

Specifically, LTE offers the following:

- Low latency and high throughput

- Efficient always-on operation, with instantaneous access to network resources

- Support for real-time and non-real-time applications

- Flexible spectrum allocations

- Re-use of existing cell site infrastructure

- High spectrum efficiency for unicast, multicast and broadcast data

Since LTE does not meet the requirements for 4G, an enhanced version called LTE Advanced is under development.

The main competitor to LTE is WiMAX which is being rolled out to cover the "last mile" connectivity. In this article the author outlines the race to between LTE and WiMAX.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Friday, October 02, 2009

White Spaces Worth Some Money

The recent move to digital TV opened up white spaces in the frequency spectrum. Some of these white spaces are worth quite a bit of money according to this article. The report was commissioned by Microsoft and points to wireless broadband usage in rural areas using the unlicensed 700 MHz spectrum as the market opportunity. Broadcasters are suing the FCC for letting the spectrum go to this application unlicensed as broadcasters have to pay for the use of their spectrum.

The FCC recently made the decision to leave the white spaces unlicensed much to the chagrin of broadcasters who currently use the spectrum for wireless microphones. Tech companies such as Google and Microsoft see this as the next generation wireless opportunity as they can provide tools and services more cheaply by leveraging this spectrum without the additional cost of licensing and managing the spectrum.

According to the report, spectrum sensing will soon become mandatory technology for those wishing to use the white spaces. For an overview of the report check out this site. You can find the full FCC order here.

Best regards,
Hall T.