My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Telecom Providers 4G vs Wi-Fi Calling - Galaxy Rangers

Monday, October 11, 2010

Telecom Providers 4G vs Wi-Fi Calling - Galaxy Rangers

Lives of Great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time

Longfellow, The Psalm of Life

It seems we are about to embark on a great Intergalactic Adventure, as Senior Editor at CNET Bonnie Cha has brought to light a rumour which has now fleshed out into reality, somewhat on the same level as the coming to the American consumer of the Satellite smart phone enabled TerreStar Genus as stated in the article “AT&T launches satellite phone”, published September 21, 2010 9:32 AM PDT by Lance Whitney, CNET News - Wireless.

I, John Public, speak of the coming of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Calling as Bonnie Cha calls it, or as I like to call it, Mesh Network Calling as elucidated from her article “Wi-Fi calling coming to T-Mobile Android Phones”, published October 6, 2010 6:02 AM PDT by Bonnie Cha, CNET News - CTIA 2010.

I prefer using this term Mesh Network Calling, as Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Calling can be easily mistaken for VoIP, which is available via numerous freely downloadable apps such as Skype, Fring and the venerable and controversial Switch Network sans VoIP app, Google Voice, on both the Apple iPhone iOS 4.0, Google Android 2.2 (Froyo) and the up and Coming Google Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread) Platforms.

So what is this “Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Calling” of which Bonnie Cha speaks? Is it related to FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski’s gift to the American people of Spectrum License free “White” Space Frequencies, effectively enabling “Super” Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), effectively a Hyper drive, allowing Americans to explore the Bold New Frontier that is the Internet?

John Public saddles up his robot horse, galloping, as he explores this new Frontier, Galaxy Rangers style. Play the theme song, people!!!

Since VoIP Calling already exists, then the service described in this review must be significantly different from VoIP in some manner, and the most obvious clue in the report is the fact that most of the smart phones mentioned in the article, namely the RIM BlackBerry Bold 9700, BlackBerry Curve 8520, BlackBerry Curve 3G, and Nokia E73 Mode are all capable of “tethering”,

Otherwise called Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Direct as per the article “Wi-Fi is about to get a whole lot easier”, published October 14, 2009, 12:01AM EST By Olga Kharif, BusinessWeek – INTERNET, a firmware upgrade issued to devices that have a built in Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) modem that turns the device into a mobile hotspot.

If I am interpreting Bonnie Cha’s article right, then she is sitting on what is going to be the biggest technology revolution in Telecommunications since the ratification of the 3GPP by the GSMA (Global System Mobile Alliance) that burst unto the scene.

A dream that, like the Apple iPad, will mark the true union of Voice Calling Services over Data Networks, as effectively this would make the phone a Data Phone with Metered Voice Services, inclusive of SMS (Simple Messaging Services) via a simple app.

Nothing big there, you say? But you would be wrong, as this is effectively Metered VoIP implemented via turning the phone into a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) hotspot via a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Direct firmware upgrade.

Curiously, enough, an Aussie, Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen of Flinders University in Australia may have beaten the Americans to the punch with his experimental idea based on Mesh Network Calling codenamed Project Serval as stated in the article “Cell phone chats - in the Australian Outback?”, published July 12, 2010 2:06 PM PDT by Leslie Katz, CNET News - Crave.

John Public lights up his pipe made of chocolate and waxes melodic of my heyday while working as a Network Maintenance Technician at C&W between the years 2001 to 2004, when I first proposed this idea of Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) and Mesh Network Calling as per my my blog article entitled “Digicel and WiMax 4G Mobile - The Great Australian Outback”.

Ideas which I repeated in the Fall of 2003 while being interviewed by a Nurse Gunning at while working at Telecom Provider C&W– only to have them rejected. Good thing I keep notes.

That was back in 2003, when C&W relaunched their TDMA (Time Division Multiple Access) mobile Network as a GSM Network and introduced bfree Prepaid and bmobile Postpaid and bfree+, the Prepaid/Postpaid Hybrid which would herald the coming model for “All-you-can-Eat” Data Plans used in the United States of America.

This as C&W Plc, our parent company in England, was and still is a member of the GSMA and Telecom Provider share information about their products and any new solutions to problems that they develop, information which is published in the GSMA Magazine to which free subscriptions, like the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Newsletter, exist.

My proposal led to the creation of bfree Prepaid and bmobile Postpaid and bfree+, the Prepaid/Postpaid Hybrid, but included also was a plan for a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) and Mesh Network Calling, which was not actioned at the time, even when I was interviewed and later made redundant.

That was seven (7) years ago.

People now, after getting a taste of then Telecom Provider C&W ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) and GPRS (Global Packet Radio Service) 2G Wireless Internet and Telecom Provider Digicel EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) 2G Wireless Internet and then Telecom Provider MiPhone EV-DO 2G Wireless Internet, are interested in this new decade to access High Speed Wireless Broadband Internet, especially if no modem is involved.

Hence the popularity of Star War – The Phantom Menace inspired Wayne Chen and Lee’s owned Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 801.11n) Networks Dekal Wireless [a Droid] as stated  in the article “Wayne Chen, Lees enter Wireless Broadband Market”, published Friday July 30th 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Same goes too for upstart Nubian-1 Tech Services Ltd [Princess Amidala’s Royal starship] as stated in the article “Another small player emerges in the wireless broadband market”, published Friday August 2 2010 by Mark Titus, gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner.

“Super” Wi-Fi (IEEE 801.11n) is now a reality, based on announcements by FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski and the opening and spectrum license free “White” Space Frequencies that lie betwixt television frequencies as stated in the article “FCC to open up vacant TV airwaves for broadband”, published Monday September 13, 12:35 am ET By JOELLE TESSLER, AP Technology Writer, Yahoo! News.

This is now officially confirmed in the article “FCC officially frees TV white space spectrum”, published Thursday September 23 2010, CNET News, the Hyper drive of which I speak, thus opening up exploration of the New Frontier of the Internet the masses in the United States of America, with consequences for us here in Jamaica.

Though all this is in the United States of America, their decision to go DSO (Digital Switch Over) since 2009 AD and now this recent decision to make “White” Space Frequencies license free is VERY much a concern of Telecom Interest here in Jamaica

This action could pressure the Broadcasting Commission here in Jamaica to push for DSO and thus achieve increased Spectral Efficiency among the Television and Radio Broadcasters as stated in the article “Slow road to digital switch-over  - Cable groups mum; Flow ahead but network coverage behind”, published Saturday  August 15, 2009 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner. There is a financial windfall for the Television and Radio Broadcasters via the sale of their spectrum to the Telecom Providers, which could be offset by a guarantee of protection of their content.

Thus, mapping of the “White” Space Frequencies here in Jamaica needs to start in earnest.

When this occurs, Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 801.11n) Networks will spring up like poppies, thanks to the completion of the US$45 million Trans-Caribbean Fiber Optic Cable Project, dubbed the Fibralink Project which has increased the overall fiber optic capacity of the island from 2.5 Gpbs as per installation by then C&W Jamaica Ltd to approximately 150 Gpbs, effectively a sixty fold increase as per the article “Information highway revolution to hit Jamaica”, published Friday March 3rd 2010 by Keith Collister, The Jamaica Gleaner

These spectrum would be resold to Local Telecom Provider LIME, Telecom Provider CLARO and Telecom Provider Digicel thus significantly dropping the cost of international calling and a partial explanation of the strange disparity that exists as it relates to the cost of International Voice calling being lower than Local Voice calling rates and the drop in Data Rates from JA$100 per megabyte to JA$40 per megabyte.

Indeed this is true, being one of two (2) licensed Government of Jamaica Undersea Fiber Optic Installers, the other being TCCCL (Tran-Caribbean Cable Company Limited).

Mr. Richard Pardy, a Canadian, must therefore be thanked for his massive investment in Jamaica, as the laying of fiber optic cable is not a profitable venture, oweing that Telecom Providers usually pay an access cost to use the facility and the cost for laying the link is recovered over a period of time, the faster money spinner being of course the retail of Broadband to Telecom Providers and customers.

Hence the partnership between Mr. Richard Pardy, Mr. Michael Lee Chin and fellow Canadian Mr. John Risley, the principals shareholders in FLOW Jamaica Limited, whose investment is partly responsible for the cost decreases in International Voice and Data Calling that we are experiencing now.

Mr. Richard Pardy even made a prophetic statement, which Telecom Provider CLARO and LIME have fulfilled: “Up to now, you have not seen a competitive landscape developing in the delivery of broadband. You won’t see a huge upswing in broadband deployment until at least two strong broadband competitors emerge.” Prophecy fulfilled by Telecom Providers CLARO and LIME………..only to be overturned by Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 801.11n) Networks Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Ltd!

By Mr. Richard Pardy’s benevolence, the lower costs of T1 make it more economically feasible to set up all manner of services, from Data Centers such as Digicel Data Center in Caymanas Park as stated in the article “Digicel diversifies - $500m data center opens November”, published Friday August 28, 2009 by Mark Titus, gleaner Writer, The Jamaica Gleaner to Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 801.11n) Networks such as Dekal Wireless and Nubian-1 Tech Services Ltd, akin to what I had described in my old proposed ideas.

But it is Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Calling as Bonnie Cha calls it, or as I like to call it, Mesh Network Calling that Telecom Provider’s here in Jamaica fear so much and realistically may be the REAL reason why the so-called WiMax CEO, Alex Boothroyd naively states in the article “Digicel all set to unveil 4G Broadband offering”, published Friday, August 13, 2010 by AL EDWARDS, the Jamaica Observer.

The fact that Telecom Provider Digicel is launching ONLY with Netbooks, laptops and 4G-to-Wi-Fi(IEEE 802.11n) Routers or Mobile hotspots, more popularly called Mi-Fi. Now having launched, expectations are high.

I am yet to read or hear any newspaper here in Jamaica do a review on the CPE (Customer Premises Equipment), which uses the WiMax 4G Fixed (IEEE 802.16a) protocol and the Modem Dongles, which uses the WiMax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d) protocol, as from the experience of many a user as well as my TechJamaica posse, the Digicel Broadband 4G service has downloading speeds throttled, apparently in an attempt to deter would be Copyright Infringements on their Network, as per the Digicel 4G Broadband Prepaid Terms and Conditions.

This is a necessary measure to protect Telecom Provider Digicel from litigation by content providers such as the RIAA (Recording Industry Artiste Association) and the MPAA (Motion Picture Artiste Association), as per my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and Piracy - After the Fox and the French Connection”.

This reasoning with regard to true fear of Telecom Provider Digicel aside, Mesh Network Calling is a natural progression of the development of Voice Telecoms. And as I have said earlier, it is on the same level as Satellite Calling.

This Mesh Network Calling works much in the same way that smart phones potentially can communicate via piggy-backing signaling through the smart phones that are members of the Mesh Network, much like runners passing on a baton in a Relay. Using Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Direct, a close relative of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), which has a maximum range of 200 meters as stated in the article “Cell phone chats - in the Australian Outback?”, published July 12, 2010 2:06 PM PDT by Leslie Katz, CNET News – Crave, this concept is possible.

Thus, it is a lot like VoIP, but differing in principle, in that in a Mesh Network, each phone becomes a mini-mobile tower using Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) and an app, as per the article “Wi-Fi calling coming to T-Mobile Android Phones”, published October 6, 2010 6:02 AM PDT by Bonnie Cha, CNET News - CTIA 2010.

Having a Mesh Network based on turning each smart phone into an effective mobile tower or Node B, only using Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) or Wi-Fi Direct may seem strange, but this innovative concept has been developed by Dr. Paul Gardner-Stephen of Flinders University in Australia.

Though his name is unfamiliar, his project, dubbed Project Serval, is making waves internationally, as it involves using hacked Google Android based smart phones with Wi-Fi Direct to turn each phone into a mobile tower, the Project’s name based on an African Wildcat, which best describes the nature of this project, as it is as wild as the outback and way out there on the fringes of Telecoms Research.

The routing I can understand, as it would involves being within 200m of another smart phone with the Wi-Fi Direct turned on, as the call would be routed via the app through each persons phones, provided that their phones are on and within 200 meters of other smart phones with their Wi-Fi Direct turned on by default and each phone knows where the other phone is in the Mesh Network at any given time.

This as during each handoff, the smart phones would pass on information relating to the phone number, the phone instrument IMSI, the phone IMEI, the GPS location of each smart phone and the last time a smart phone made contact with a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network, terrestrial GSM, CDMA Voice Network, 3G or 4G (LTE or WiMax) Network, information that each smart phone in the Mesh Network would keep in its memory and update every two (2) seconds to more easily route calls.

The aim of the process of updating the Node B so often is to create a Neighbor Cell Relationship Database (also call a Routing Table in POTS) in each phones so as to more effectively route calls and eventually find a phone that is close to a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network, terrestrial GSM, CDMA Voice Network, 3G or 4G (LTE or WiMax) Network.

Once the call is connected on a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network, terrestrial GSM, CDMA Voice Network, 3G or 4G (LTE or WiMax) Network and the call setup process is completed successfully and the call is in progress, the billing process can take place as per usual, with the smart phones with conversations being done over VoIP routed to a server if the network terminated on is a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), 3G or 4G (LTE or WiMax) Network.

Or be converted to a regular mobile conversation suitable for terrestrial GSM, CDMA Voice Network by the phone closest to the Home Network.

Best of all, unlike Skype, a Mesh Network would not require users to use a mumble of letters and numbers for a phone number, but their regular numbers on their Telecom Provider’s Network.

Dekal Wireless, a Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network, could launch the service after doing a little research to find mobile smart phones with these capabilities either built into its hardware or just recommend people download a tailor made app to the phones listed at the start of my article. With a calling rate of JA$4.99 from Dekal Wireless Mesh Network Phone to Dekal Wireless Mesh Network Phone, even Telecom Provider CLARO could not beat such prices.

Throw in the offer of free calling whenever you are in close proximity to the persons you are calling in the complete absence of Dekal Wireless Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network, as it is not all the time that customers would be able to find a smart phone running the app that is still in contact with Dekal Wireless Municipal Wi-fi (IEEE 802.11n) thus the call would be routed entirely through other phones.

Also, the regular features such three-way calling and conference calling as well as premium services such as video calling and would be supported by Mesh Networks. Dekal, could in effect, much in the same way it has launched it Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network on the basis of the coming flood of Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n), Wi-Fi Direct and WiGIG enabled devices, can also launch a premium VoIP service based, ironically on the prevalence of its license free Municipal Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Network

This is a new frontier for Telecom Providers and Broadcaster in Jamaica, folks and Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) Networks are in the lead. Like the Galaxy Rangers, justice and fairness in this new frontier must still be preserved, despite the free gift of the 150 Gpbs bandwidth by Mr. Richard Pardy in 2006 AD and the potential gift of “Super” Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) by FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Chairman Julius Genachowski in 2010 AD.

With the future potential of allowing Jamaicans to experiencing blazing fast Wireless Broadband and lower cost Mesh Network Calling by 2012 AD, just in time for the London Olympics 2012. No guts, no glory.

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