My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: The 4G Revolution and the Summer of 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The 4G Revolution and the Summer of 2010

{1:9} The thing that hath been, it [is that] which shall be; and that which is done [is] that which shall be done: and [there is] no new [thing] under the sun.
{1:10} Is there [any] thing whereof it may be said, See, this [is] new? It hath been already of old time, which was before us.

Ecclesiastes 1 vs 9-10

It seems that the above cribbed Bible verse in the Book of Ecclesiastes rings true, as now globally the world is ramping up for the coming of 4G in its two (2) dominant flavours, LTE (Long Term Evolution) and WiMaX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), as suggested in the article “On call: Welcome to 4G”, published March 9, 2010 11:01 AM PST by Kent German CNET News.  

Albeit LTE is touted by most 3G Telecoms Providers as the next evolution, requiring only a software upgrade and few hardware upgrades of their existing 3G infrastructure, WiMaX on the other hand was developed and based on Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) and incarnated in two (2) forms WiMaX 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) and WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d).

As such is a breath of fresh air into the Global Telecoms Sector which has largely been controlled by Telecoms Providers Vendors, whose technology is based on proprietary WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) licensed by Qualcomm.

Technology change seems to be in the air for the Summer of 2010, what with the recent announcement of the Apple IPadeReader device debut to challenge the Amazon Kindle and its ilk as confirmed by Daniel Ionescu in the article “Apple rolls out TV ad for IPad”, published Monday March 8th 2010, by Daniel Ionescu, PC World PCworldYahoo News.

There is also the soon-to-be tsunami that is the launch of HDTV compatible 3-D televisions and Blu-Ray bundles as stated in the article “Samsung, Panasonic start selling 3-D TV's this week”, published Tue March 9 2010, 11:04 am ET, By PETER SVENSSON, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo News.

There is also the increasing dominance of the Google Android Mobile OS Development Platform, evidence from it wide scale adoption by such Handset Vendors as HTC, ZTE, Dell, Samsung, LG and even Nokia, which has also decided to make its proprietary OS Symbian Open Source and Sony Ericsson as stated in the article  “Sony Ericsson shows love for Androidpublished February 14, 2010 6:18 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

The fear RIM, makers of Blackberry have of Google Android is obvious by their release of the Blackberry Enterprise Server license free as stated in the article “RIM to give away server software”, published February 16, 2010 4:32 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

Then there is the impending launch of OnLive in June 2010, a streaming gaming portal that will allow players to play high quality video game titles over their PC without the need for expensive setup as stated in the article “OnLive game streaming service to start in June”, published Wed Mar 10 2010, 3:19 pm ET By BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo News.

Indeed, already here in Jamaica, we have two (2) Telecoms Providers who have launched 3G namely Telecom Provider CLARO and Telecom Provider LIME.  Telecom Provider Digicel was slated to launch a WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) at the end of the second quarter of 2010 as stated in the article “Digicel to offer mini Laptops with 4G service next year”, published Friday September 4th 2009 by Lavern Clarke, The Jamaica Gleaner.

ZTE Corp of China will be their build out partner of their new WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network as stated in the article “Digicel signs ZTE as 4G Mobile WiMaX Internet partner”, published Sunday, September 27, 2009, The Jamaica Observer.

There is even a more potent mix that is set to be made more explosive in the Summer of 2010 with the impending launch of Telecom Provider Digicel’s foray into broadcasting in the form of DigiTV in Jamaica.

This service was already successfully launched in Vanatu, Tonga and other Polynesian islands also possibly to be launched a little before the launch of their WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network. This can be possibly at the start of Rising Stars, as strongly hinted in the article “DigiTV Launch for 2009 - Mobile Provider branches into TV”, published Friday November 14th 2009 by Ross Shiel, Online co-Ordinator, The Jamaica Observer.

Telecom Provider LIME  is launching a competitor to DigiTV, namely LIME TV, with exclusive all-island Wireless Subscriber Television license to rebroadcast Direct TV.  The summer is looking to be very hot this year, making Telecom Provider CLARO look rather impotent as they are yet to announce any impending WebTV or Wireless Digital Broadcast plans.

With no public news on their possible acquisition of FLOW, one can only speculate that they might do on this front as their current rival Telecom Provider Digicel is launching DigiTV.

Change is even evident in the legal space, both locally and abroad with Apple now going actively after HTC of Taiwan as it relates to patent infringements with regards to its Apple iPhone as stated in the article “Is Apple launching a patent war?, published March 4, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon,  CNET News - Signal Strength.

Telecom Provider CLARO is suing Telecom Provider Digicel with regards to already filed legal proceedings against Telecom Provider Digicel and a complaint to the FTC (Fair Trading Commission). They claim that the Cross-Network calling rate contract into with Telecom Provider Digicel, albeit legally binding, in light of the Privy Council ruling is now null and void.

This may be an example of anti-competitive action on the part of Telecom Provider Digicel.

In the United States of America, Telecom Provider Verizon and Telecom Provider AT&T are building out their 4G Networks with plans to use LTE, Telecom Provider Sprint has already rolled out its WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) and owns a majority stake in CEO Bill Morrow’s Clearwire.

Clearwire has plans to roll out in ten (10) markets with ambition to be in eighty (80) markets by 2010 as stated in the article “Clearwire to bring WiMaX to 10 more Markets” published August 3, 2009 11:30 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News – Wireless and Telecom Provider T-Mobile is as yet undecided at the time of writing this article.

So what is now new in 2010?

All of the above is based on news that has been heard before, for the learned John Public that lives on the Internet. What is new is how all of the above are interconnected to the deployment of high speed 4G Networks.

In the LTE camp, the Telecoms Providers and Vendors recently came up with a platform that allows LTE to handle both voice an SMS (Short Messaging Service) over the all data infrastructure of LTE named One Voice, as LTE is great for data services, but has little backward compatibility with the traditional circuit switching Networks of most Telecom Providers as stated in the article “Telecom providers announce LTE Standards”, published November 5, 2009 1:02 PM PST by Lance Whitney CNET News.

One Voice, which is a consortium of Telecoms Providers and Vendors, namely Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Vodafone, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson within 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) that supports the integration of  IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and lays out the exact technical specification as to how this is to be achieved.

More positive signs are coming from the Telecom Vendor Qualcomm, which had released a 3G-4G chipset that will make the data Network provided pointless, allowing the Handset Manufacturers to focus on making phones as the chipset guarantees interoperability on both 3G and LTE provided by Telecom Providers as stated in the article “Qualcomm readies 3G/4G mobile Chipsets”, published November 12, 2009 4:07 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon CNET News.

Meanwhile in the WiMaX camp, they have Telecom Provider Sprint and Intel as its major backers, Telecom Provider Sprint not only has its own WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) Network but is an investor in Clearwire along with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Google and Intel.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Telecom Provider Sprint would be resellers of Clearwire’s service i.e. they are not only selling the modems, but operate over Clearwire’s infrastructure much in the same way a MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator) would operate.

Clearwire has been growing from strength to strength, with surging usage from customers for its all data services that mimics wired Broadband usage despite prior speculation to the contrary as stated in the article  “Will 4G Wireless Really Threaten Wires?, published August 13, 2009, 8:22PM EST By Stacey Higginbotham, BusinessWeek - GigaOM, indicating a future in which customers may use it as their sole Broadband connection.

This despite having sold very few data handsets and having very few handsets that support WiMaX 4g Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) as stated in the article Clearwire adds more subscribers, cuts losses”, published February 24, 2010 8:57 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon CNET News - Signal Strength.

There has been an increase in the deployment of WiMaX worldwide, inclusive of Jamaica and with the exception of the United States of America as announced by the Wimax Forum in the article “WiMaX deployments ramp globally, but U.S. lags”, published February 16, 2010 7:53 AM PST by Larry Dignan, CNET News – Wireless.

With calls by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for increased deployment of higher speed Broadband access as stated in the article “FCC chairman wants faster Broadband”, published February 17, 2010 10:05 AM PST by Lance Whitney, CNET News.

There is also the noted gradual decreases by the ITU (International Telecommunications Union) in Broadband prices and corresponding increases in educational performances and gender equality as stated in the article “Mobile, Broadband prices dropping worldwide”, published February 24, 2010 9:43 AM PST by Lance Whitney CNET News.

Ditto too the declaration of persons involved in a BBC survey that indicate that 78% believe that access to Broadband Internet should be a fundamental right, as suggested in the article “BBC survey: Net access is basic right”, published March 8, 2010 8:04 AM PST by Andrew Nusca, CNET News, things can only improve as the Telecoms Networks ramp up their deployments.

The main problems for Telecoms Providers such as Telecom Provider AT&T in anticipation of the transition to 4G appears to be issues relating to the increased Network traffic. This is due to high bandwidth services and devices, such as 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.

Poor signal coverage issues are being addressed by Telecom Provider AT&T deploying a 850 MHz Network as well as Network upgrades by Telecom Provider AT&T, Telecom Provider Verizon, Telecom Provider Sprint, Telecom Provider T-Mobile and Clearwire in anticipation of increased traffic as stated in the article “Wireless operators accelerate upgrade plans”, published January 26, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News.

Telecom Provider AT&T recently resolved issues with VoIP.

Especially as it relates to the most recently publicized conclusion of the case involving the rejection of Google Voice from the Apple Apps Store on the Apple iPhone, which in the United States of America on the Telecom Provider AT&T Network as stated in the article “AT&T to allow VOIP IPhone apps on 3G Network”, published October 6, 2009 4:46 PM PDT by Jim Dalrymple, CNET News.

There are also worries by Telecom Provider AT&T, most likely shared by all Telecoms Providers, that some of the new devices being developed, such as the Apple iPad, will increase the data traffic levels on their 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.

Despite these concerns, 4G deployments are under way as already official intermap sharing has already begun, as suggested in the article “Telco companies to provide Data for Broadband Map” published Fri Aug 7, 2009 4:58PM EDT by JOELLE TESSLER, Technology Writer, AP. PhysOrg

Jamaica is fully on the path with the rest of the world as our Telecom Provider Digicel have already begun the process to transition to 4G. Telecom Provider LIME and Telecom Provider CLARO having no choice but to follow suit or be left behind, a situation which is definitely nothing new under the Sun.

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