Saturday, February 12, 2011

Agro SMS Service For Farmers

Lucknow, Feb 12 (IANS) From basic technical knowhow to information on advanced techniques in agriculture -- farmers from various states are registering for an SMS service through which their queries will be answered by scientists, an official said Saturday.
'It's been just over a month since the SMS service started,' Sanjay Kumar, a scientist with the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) Technology and Business Development, told reporters here.

'Today we have over 800 farmers from states like Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Bihar registering themselves for the agro advisory service,' he added.

'From basic technical knowhow to information on advanced techniques that can boost the production of aromatic and medicinal plants, are provided by us through the SMS service,' he said.

For availing the SMS service, farmers just need to register their mobile phone numbers.

'After the registration, any farmer can call on the helpline numbers - 0522-2718598, 2718595, with their query that is answered by a dedicated panel of CIMAP scientists through an SMS, later sent on the farmers' mobile,' Kumar said.

'As of now, the calls made by the farmers are not toll-free. Still, as soon we get a call from the farmers, we ask them to disconnect the line from their end. Later, we call them up and note down their queries,' he said.

'Thereafter, we respond to them through an SMS that is sent to their mobile number,' he added.

With the satisfactory response to the service, CIMAP officials said that in later phases the institute might introduce a toll-free service for the agro advisory.source

No More Cell Towers As Wireless Advances

As cell phones have spread, so have large cell towers — those unsightly stalks of steel topped by transmitters and other electronics that sprouted across the country over the last decade.
Now the wireless industry is planning a future without them, or at least without many more of them. Instead, it's looking at much smaller antennas, some tiny enough to hold in a hand. These could be placed on lampposts, utility poles and buildings — virtually anywhere with electrical and network connections.
If the technology overcomes some hurdles, it could upend the wireless industry and offer seamless service, with fewer dead spots and faster data speeds.
Some big names in the wireless world are set to demonstrate "small cell" technologies at the Mobile World Congress, the world's largest cell phone trade show, which starts Monday in Barcelona, Spain.
"We see more and more towers that become bigger and bigger, with more and bigger antennas that come to obstruct our view and clutter our landscape and are simply ugly," said Wim Sweldens, president of the wireless division of Alcatel-Lucent, the French-U.S. maker of telecommunications equipment.
"What we have realized is that we, as one of the major mobile equipment vendors, are partially if not mostly to blame for this."
Alcatel-Lucent will be at the show to demonstrate its "lightRadio cube," a cellular antenna about the size and shape of a Rubik's cube, vastly smaller than the ironing-board-sized antennas that now decorate cell towers. The cube was developed at the famous Bell Labs in New Jersey, birthplace of many other inventions when it was AT&T's research center.
In Alcatel-Lucent's vision, these little cubes could soon begin replacing conventional cell towers. Single cubes or clusters of them could be placed indoors or out and be easily hidden from view. All they need is electrical power and an optical fiber connecting them to the phone company's network.
The cube, Sweldens said, can make the notion of a conventional cell tower "go away." Alcatel-Lucent will start trials of the cube with carriers in September. The company hopes to make it commercially available next year.
For cell phone companies, the benefits of dividing their networks into smaller "cells," each one served by something like the cube antenna, go far beyond esthetics. Smaller cells mean vastly higher capacity for calls and data traffic.
Instead of having all phones within a mile or two connect to the same cell tower, the traffic could be divided between several smaller cells, so there's less competition for the cell tower's attention.
"If it is what they claim, lightRadio could be a highly disruptive force within the wireless industry," said Dan Hays, who focuses on telecommunications at consulting firm PRTM.
Rasmus Hellberg, director of technical marketing at wireless technology developer Qualcomm Inc., said smaller cells can boost a network's capacity tenfold, far more than can be achieved by other upgrades to wireless technology that are also in the works.
That's sure to draw the interest of phone companies. They've already been deploying older generations of small-cell technology in areas where a lot of people gather, like airports, train stations and sports stadiums, but these are expensive and complicated to install.
In New York City, AT&T Inc. has started creating a network of outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots, starting in Times Square and now spreading through the midtown tourist and shopping districts. Its network has been hammered by an onslaught of data-hungry iPhone users, and this is one way of moving that traffic off the cellular network.
Smaller cells could do the same job, but for all phones, not just Wi-Fi enabled ones like the iPhone. They could also carry calls as well as data.
San Diego-based Qualcomm will be at the Barcelona show with a live demonstration of how "heterogeneous networks" — ones that mix big and small cells, can work. A key issue is minimizing radio interference between the two types of cells. Another hurdle is connecting the smaller cells to the bigger network through optical fiber or other high-capacity connections.
"That's an impediment that we're seeing many operators struggling with right now as data volumes have increased," Hays said.
LM Ericsson AB, the Swedish company that's the largest maker of wireless network equipment in the world, is also introducing a more compact antenna at the show, one it calls "the first stepping stone towards a heterogeneous network."
Small cellular base stations have already penetrated hundreds of thousands of U.S. homes. Phone companies like AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. have for several years been selling "femtocells," which are about the size of a Wi-Fi router and connect to the phone company's network through a home broadband connection.
The cells project radio signals that cover a room or two, providing five bars of coverage where there might otherwise be none.
British femtocell maker Ubiquisys Ltd. will be in Barcelona to demonstrate the smallest cell yet. It's the size of a thumb and plugs into a computer's USB drive. According to Ubiquisys, the idea is that overseas travellers will plug it into their Internet-connected laptops to make calls as if they were on their home network, but there are potential problems with interference if used that way.
According to Rupert Baines, marketing head of Picochip Ltd., a more realistic application for a tiny plug-in cell is to make it work with cable boxes or Internet routers, to convert them into femtocells.
A key part of the "small cell" idea is to take femtocells outside the home, into larger buildings and even outdoors.
Picochip, a British company that's the dominant maker of chips for femtocells, will be in Barcelona to talk about its chips for "public-access" femtocells, designed to serve up to 64 phone calls at a time, with a range of more than a mile. They could be used not just to ease wireless congestion in urban areas, but to fill in dead spots on the map, Baines said.
For instance, a single femtocell could provide wireless service to a remote village, as long as there's some way to connect it to the wider network, perhaps via satellite.
Analyst Francis Sideco of research firm iSuppli pointed out a surprising consumer benefit of smaller cells: better battery life in phones.
When a lot of phones talk to the same tower, they all have to "shout" to make themselves heard, using more energy. With a smaller cell, phones can lower their "voices," much like group of people moving from a noisy ballroom to a smaller, quieter room.
"Ultimately, what you end up with is a cleaner signal, with less power," Sideco said.source

India Examines Reliance Anil Ambani Group Officials

The Anil Ambani-headed Reliance Group said a few of its officials have been examined by India's top investigating body in a probe into irregularities of the allocation of mobile phone licenses and bandwidth.
The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group is "fully cooperating with the authorities in this regard," it said in an email late Friday.
It is the latest development in a deepening probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the government's 2008 sale of second-generation mobile phone licenses and bandwidth at far below market value, which it believes could have cost the government more than $4.88 billion in potential revenue.
It is investigating companies alleged to have benefited from the manipulation of bandwidth allotments, after arresting the then telecom minister and two of his former aides earlier this month.
CBI officials couldn't be reached for immediate comment.
The investigative agency hasn't named any of the Reliance ADA Group companies as having benefited. It has, however, named Swan Telecom Pvt. Ltd.—now called Etisalat DB Telecom Pvt Ltd.—and Unitech Ltd. as among the beneficiaries. Both companies have denied any wrongdoing.
The CBI's probe follows revelations by the Comptroller and Auditor General, a government auditing agency, late November that irregularities in spectrum allocation led to a potential revenue loss of nearly $40 billion to India.
The allegations led to the resignation of Andimuthu Raja as telecom minister in November. The CBI arrested Mr. Raja on Feb. 2.
The CAG report last November accused mobile-phone operator Reliance Communications Ltd., which is part of the Reliance ADA Group, of violating licensing regulations in 2008.
The CAG report contended that Reliance Communications—through wholly owned unit Reliance Telecom Ltd.—held a 10.71% stake in Swan Telecom, which applied for a license in March 2007. This would violate Indian regulations, which don't allow telecom operators to own 10% or more of any rival in the same service areas, the government auditor's report said.
Swan Telecom received a license in January 2008.
The audit report said Swan Telecom appeared to be a "front company" for Reliance Telecom while applying for the license.
Reliance Telecom runs global systems for mobile communications, or GSM, services in eight and of India's 22 service areas. Reliance Communications, India's second largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, is in 14 of the service areas.
The audit agency also said the introduction of dual technology—through which an operator could offer services using both the GSM and code division multiple access platforms—in October 2007 was done in a "hasty and arbitrary manner," which gave the "perception" of favoring some companies, including Reliance Communications.
Reliance Communications has previously denied any wrongdoing in any of the issues.
The CBI this month also named Swan Telecom among the alleged beneficiaries of the irregularities in bandwidth allocation.
It has since arrested Shahid Balwa, the founder of Swan and currently the vice-chairman of Etisalat DB.
Balwa has also denied any involvement in the matter.source