My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Apple iPhone and the Loop Antenna - Strange Encounters of the Third Kind

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Apple iPhone and the Loop Antenna - Strange Encounters of the Third Kind

“Non Issue. Just Avoid holding it that way”

Steve Jobs, responding to a Customer concern over the Apple iPhone 4.0

The question was asked if AT&T was ready for the Apple iPhone as stated in the article
Is AT&T ready for the iPhone 4?” published June 16, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

Granted they had begun doing upgrades since last year in anticipation of the increased traffic from the Apple iPad and the Apple iPhone as stated in the article “AT&T considers incentives to curb heavy Data usage”, published December 9, 2009 3:08 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

Much ado had being made by the Chairman Julius Genachowski of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) as to the impact of these heavy Data usage devices being on Telecom Provider AT&T’s Broadband Wireless 3G Network as stated in the article “FCC: iPad use could further strain AT&T 3G”, published February 6, 2010 4:56 PM PST by Jim Dalrymple, CNET News.

Which the AT&T CEO  Randall Stephenson, hoping to allay investor fears of a surge in usage on their already overstressed 3G Network by diffusing any possibility of persons having multiple contracts as stated in the article “AT&T CEO sandbags iPad 3G subscriptions”, published March 3, 2010 12:30 PM PST by Erica Ogg, CNET News.

Even going to the point of instructing Apple on how to make the Apple iPhone efficient in its usage of broadband, which is mostly out of their control, as stated in the article “Report: AT&T schooled Apple on iPhone issues”, published March 30, 2010 10:44 PM PDT by Steven Musil, CNET News.

Meanwhile, Telecom Provider AT&T has been quietly upgrading by deploying an 850 MHz Network and upgrading its 3G Broadband Network across the United States of America as stated in the article “Wireless operators accelerate upgrade plans”, published January 26, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

Fellow Telecom Providers Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and Clearwire are also doing likewise as stated in the above article in anticipation of increased traffic from 4G, be it LTE (Long Term Evolution) or WiMax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) roll-outs slated to occur this years as per the article “On call: Welcome to 4G”, published March 9, 2010 11:01 AM PST by Kent German CNET Newsand examined in detail in my blog article entitled “The 4G Revolution and the Summer of 2010”.

AT&T as apparently now reached the Big Apple, having completed upgrades to their 3G Network in that part of the Network (their Network is a MONSTER of backhaul, mostly copper based T1 and newly installed microwave radios!!) as stated in the article “AT&T completes 3G upgrades in NYC”, published June 29, 2010 8:23 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News.

Then the Big News came. AT&T has decided that the days of “all-you-can-eat” Data Plans are over and that they would be introducing Data Caps, essentially what Telecoms Providers in Jamaica have being doing since the inception of 3G Wireless Broadband as stated in the following articles:

1.      For New AT&T users, no more "all you can eat" Data”, published June 2 2010 By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo News
2.      AT&T phases out unlimited Data plans”, published Wed June 2, 12:07 pm ET, by Ben Patterson, Yahoo! News
3.      AT&T to end unlimited use of mobile Data plan”, published Thursday June 2 2010, by Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer, San Francisco Chronicle

The article “AT&T's new pricing takes smart phones to the masses”, published June 3, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News and in the article “New AT&T Data plans for iPhones, iPad, more”,  June 2, 2010 2:39 AM PDT Matt Hickey, CNET News from my favorite news aggregator, CNET, provide more than ample proof that this announcement is huge in its implications and scope.

Some amount of user backlash was expected as reported in the article “AT&T Sparks User Backlash With End to Unlimited Plan (Update1)”, published June 4 2010, by Hugo Miller and Olga Kharif, BloomBerg Markets. The “all-you-can-eat” experiment is now officially over. Already it is having a positive effect on the design of apps as developers are forced to make consideration as it relates to Data usage in their smart phone apps as evidenced in the article “Data Caps force developers to be efficient”, published June 14, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

This is now evidenced by the fact that Skype has decided to charge for VoIP (Voice over IP) Calling as stated in the article “Skype for iPhone now support 3G, but free ride's ending”, published June 2 2010, by Ben Patterson, Yahoo! News.

Hulu, under pressure from Networks VC (Venture Capitalists) has decided to introduce a subscription based service for users wishing to access it archive of content in 720p as opined in the article “Hulu to soon charge for content, sources say”, published June 9, 2010 9:53 AM PDT, by CNET News.

New content is being free and delivered via streaming in 480p corroborated by the article “Hulu launches US$10 Video Subscription Service”, published Tuesday 29 June 2010 by RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer, Yahoo! News, and FaceTime.

The built in Video Calling competitor to Fring, the only other alternative for Video Calling, initiates the Video call over the GSM Network but routes the Video call over AT&T’ Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network.

I am hundreds of miles away in Jamaica from the craziness in San Francisco and New York and the rest of the world driven mad by the Apple iPhone 4.0, yet the buzz and the craziness of Americans, no matter what tribe or ethnicity they claim to be, should boggle the minds of most well thinking Jamaicans. We, as pragmatic Jamaican people, rarely stand in lines, only for the US Embassy, government of Jamaica food Stamps, Free Food or anything free for that matter and in Government Tax Agencies.

This is all corroborated by the blog “Live blog: iPhone 4 goes on sale”, published June 24, 2010 3:00 AM PDT by CNET News staff, CNET News. On Thursday 24th June 2010 the Apple iPhone 4.0 landing completely outstripped the hype of the previous Apple iPad launch that debut earlier on the weekend of Saturday April 3rd and Sunday April 4th 2010. The headline should really have been “White people gone bananas over Apple”.

The same story was also evident later when AT&T launched the Apple iPhone from its stores as stated in the article “iPhone 4 goes on sale at AT&T stores”, published June 29, 2010 5:48 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News: long lines, chaos – just for a taste of the Apple and satiate their gadgetry sweet tooth.

Indeed, one must take note of sales figures of one million, five hundred thousand (1,500,000) Apple iPhone 4.0’s in one (1) day, a record corroborated by article “First day iPhone 4 sales estimate: 1.5 million”, published June 25, 2010 10:10 AM PDT by Erica Ogg, CNET News! Undoubtedly more than the Apple iPhone’s initial launch back in 2007 and the Apple iPhone 3GS launch in 2008, which took a weekend in both instances to brush the one million (1,000,000) mark!

This is in a completely different league from even my baby, the Apple iPad, which claimed three hundred thousand (300,000) scalps based on statistics coming out of the Apple iPad launch as tabulated by Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster as stated in the article “iPad 3G sales estimated at 300,000 for launch weekend”, published May 3, 2010 4:13 AM PDT by John Paczkowski, CNET News.

Conservative estimates of one million, three hundred thousand (1,300,000) million units by June 2010 was a gross underestimate!  The Apple iPad went on to achieve the hit the one million (1,000,000) mark in twenty eight (28) days since the debut of the device on the weekend of Saturday April 3rd and Sunday April 4th 2010, creating history for Apple Inc and CEO Steve Jobs for ANY device release from Apple to date.

Natalie Del Conte is indeed privileged to “touch with these hands” the Apple iPad two (2) days before it official launch.

Though the numbers are huge, it is the RATE of adoption of these new devices that is amazing, despite the breakdown in the Apple Pre-Order system as stated in the article “Apple, AT&T get record number of iPhone orders”, published Thursday June 17, 12:19 am ET By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo! News. Apparently Pre-Ordering the Apple iPhone did not help much.

And yet there is an overlooked hero in all of these upgrades that is already improving AT&T lackluster image. Albeit not scientific proof, but the External Loop Antenna, as I have christened my design (that’s right, it mine…..copied from WWII Germany!!!!) is having an impact on how smart phone receive broadband signals. This due to the circular polarization of the 3G signals and already a trendsetter for smart phone engineers working at Handset Vendor’s and how they design antenna for mobile phones.

Anecdotal evidence indicates that the new External Loop Antennae has improved reception, call quality and upload and download speed of Voice Calling, 3G and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) on the Apple iPhone as stated in the article “iPhone 4's Antenna Bosts Voice and Data Rates, with One big Flaw” published Friday June 25, 8:38 am ET by Mark Sullivan, Yahoo! News.

However, on the very same day of the launch of the Apple iPhone 4.0, many Customers complained of signal strength and dropped call signals. This was due to gripping the Apple iPhone 4.0 on its left most side, as one would do if you are left-handed, as was the odd complaint by the Left-Handers Club as stated in the article “Apple critized by left-handed org over iPhone 4”, published June 26, 2010 6:51 PM PDT by Chris Matyszczyk, CNET News.

Another possibility is that you have the phone in your left hand and browsing the Internet, touch screen style, with your right according to the articles:

1.      iPhone 4's Antenna Bosts Voice and Data Rates, with One big Flaw” published Friday June 25, 8:38 am ET by Mark Sullivan, Yahoo! News
2.      Apple tells iPhone 4 owners to get a grip”, published Friday June 25 2010, Yahoo! News
3.      Poor iPhone 4 Signal? You're holding it wrong, Jobs says”, published Friday June 25 2010, Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo! News

Soon, people even posted Videos showing the phenomenon on YouTube of the signal attenuation that occurred when they cupped the phone in their left palm or simply covered the lower left hand side of the Apple iPhone 4.0 with a conductive material or simply their sweaty palms.

Thus providing Video evidence to corroborate the claims reported by the above web articles. Apple was then forced to issue and official statement which read: “Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone”.

Apple went on to further state that Customers must “avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band”.

Or simply use one of many available “cases”, thereby a remedy to a “problem” which is really an issue which speaks volumes to how people care their Apple iPhones 4.0 as opposed to it being a design flaw.

By right, Customers who invest such huge sums of money in their smart phones whether via purchase up front or in the form of Postpaid Contracts should not let their investment be easily scratched or mauled by everyday life. The investment in a US$30 bumper, a must have accessory for your prized Apple iPhone 4.0 or any smart phone for that matter is a necessity.

It is the least one can do in support of Apple and the other smart phone “wannabees” in the form of Google Android powered HTC, sporting so-called “smart” phones with beefier 8 Megapixel cameras (it’s a phone, not a camera!!) and other unnecessary specs upgrades. The recently announced smart phone HTC Droid Incredible 4G on Telecom Provider Verizon 4G Wireless Broadband Network.

Additionally, there are other alternatives as listed in the article “Top 4 iPhone 4 Alternatives”, published June 8, 2010 6:52 pm, by J.R. Raphael, PC World. Yet, none of these can approach the level of excitement of an Apple product launch, despite Telecom Provider Verizon being a very popular, robust CDMA 2000 Network. Telecom Provider Verizon is functional, not cool.

Furthermore, Apple must be commended for its retailing of the US$30 bumper, which Apple has been kind enough to advertise it’s otherwise unknown bumpers to people out of concern for maintaining the value of their investment in an Apple iPhone 4.0. It is good to note that the Apple iPhone 4.0 improved External Loop Antenna design, its next talking point after FaceTime.

Furthermore, it is already delivering the goods as promised by Apple CEO Steve Jobs, showing improvements in reception on Telecom Provider AT&T 3G Wireless Broadband Network as suggested by the unscientific anecdotal analysis provided in the article “iPhone 4's Antenna Bosts Voice and Data Rates, with One big Flaw” published Friday June 25, 8:38 am ET by Mark Sullivan, Yahoo! News.

Combine with the ongoing improvements in Telecom Provider AT&T 3G Wireless Broadband Network, it is a safe bet (with Supreme Ventures Jamaica Limited Just Bet of course!!)  to say that by December 2010, if the latest on the progress of their upgrades as stated in the article “Is AT&T ready for the iPhone 4?” published June 16, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News is to be believed.

Combined with the imposed Data Caps as aforementioned and the consideration in design of the Apps by Developers to be more efficient in their usage of Telecom Provider AT&T 3G Wireless Broadband Network as stated in the article “Data Caps force Developers to be efficient”, published June 14, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

The above provided evidence, that even if Telecom Provider Verizon were to get the Apple iPhone on their 3G Wireless Broadband Network, most lemmings……….I mean customers……….would stick with Telecom Provider AT&T with their  Apple iPhones and not defect to Verizon, following AT&T all the way towards the beach, not the cliff as Brian Cooley so smugly puts it, as lemmings are famous for drowning themselves, the original Video game Lemmings not being true to the actual animals instinctual habits.

To echo the words of the CEO Steve Jobs: “Non Issue. Just avoid holding it that way” and invest in a bumper, expressed quite eloquently in a more Wall Street-esque phrasing squirreled out by annoying TUAW (The Unofficial Apple Weblog) complainant as stated in the article “Poor iPhone 4 Signal? You're holding it wrong, Jobs says”, published Friday June 25 2010, Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo! News: “Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas.

This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.” Problem solved……….! The External Loop Antenna is a hit!!!

But after all this hype, one thing John Public in Jamaica is most certain of, look on as I write, wry smile, as I am an antenna design hobbyist as well as a technology blogger: after all this, as the American would say, the “Hoopla” over a “non-issue” of a design change that actually improves the Apple iPhone 4.0, the attention give to this issue has made Antenna Designs, specifically External Loop Antennas sexy again…….and I must say it is my idea, copied from WWII Germany…………!


Strange Encounters of the Third Kind indeed!!
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