Sunday, April 17, 2011

4G rollout likely by next year

Even as third generation (3G) mobile telephony is still at a pilot stage, technology players are hopeful that the more advanced 4G will be here sooner than later due to its sheer economic advantage over the former besides its easy upgradability on the existing infrastructure.
"The 4G is likely to be in India sooner than later, as early as next year, because it is economically more advantageous than 3G, apart as it can be easily upgraded on the existing infrastructure," said Nikhil Sadarangani of JDSU India, a provider of optical products and solutions.
So optimistic is Sadarangani about its roll out that he said, 4G application trials are likely to rolled out by next year as the technology is already here.
However, 'its introduction in mobile handsets will depend on devices that are economical', he said adding that initial focus will be on data and services.
Joining in, Tata Elxsi sales head, communications business, Mrinmoy Purkayastha noted that the pace of technological advancement is very fast in the country.
"With speed as a consideration, 4G will be introduced here in a phased manner from next year. However, its transition from data services to mobile handsets may take some more time but by 2014-15 it is likely to become a reality," he said.
Already 4G trials are taking place in Europe, the US and Japan, the markets which already have 3G running. However, the actual global roll out will be in 2012, Purkayastha said.

3G or 4G: Battery Life vs. Bandwidth

With all the hype around the advent of 4G, I thought it might be a good idea to look at the real differences between 3G and 4G devices, how they interface with 3G and 4G Wireless Networks, and offer some insights that might help you sort out what you actually need right now. Speed vs. Service … let’s consider the following:
For the record it is April 15, 2011 — This is information is time sensitive. According to Tony Malone, Verizon’s VP Network Ops, Verizon plans to cover 100 million Americans in 25 to 30 metro areas with 4G LTE by the end of 2011. It will double that coverage by early 2012 and completely cover the US by the end of 2013. Interestingly, due to its 700-MHz license, Verizon’s 4G LTE Network will cover a greater portion of the US than its 3G Network covered.
3G is a defined standard. Verizon’s EVDO (Evolution Data Optimized) Rev A provides speeds of 600Kbps-1,400Kbps Download (bursts to 3.1Mbps), 500Kbps-800Kbps Upload (bursts to 1.8Mbps) – Is that too geeky? Sorry – at its best, 3G is comparable to low-end home DSL service. I live in New York City where there is good 3G and 4G coverage. I just ran some broadband speed tests on my 3G Verizon iPhone 4. In three consecutive tests it averaged 500 Kbps down and 300 Kbps up — well below the published specification. 500 Kbps is just a little better than I used to get with my AOL dial-up account in 1996 (Geeks: Please do not write me an email or comment about 56k modems being 10x slower than 3G. A 56k modem with compression yielded approx 200Kpbs performance. There was less stuff to download in 1996 and perceived speed with about the same. As a practical matter, in an area with a substantial amount of contention, I have enjoyed 3G download speeds of under 200Kbps and so have you!)
That said, 3G email is fine, Exchange Server runs fine, Calendar runs fine, Contacts sync fine, Google is snappy, apps run great, YouTube buffers a bit, and the web is clunky, but serviceable. 3G speed is what we have become accustomed to in our modern-American mobile world.
4G, which stands for 4th Generation wireless network technology, is really a marketing term. It may sound technical, but the truth is that standards organizations, such as the International Telecommunication Union, have not officially defined 4G. Oops!
Not to worry, Verizon has done it for us. From its point of view, LTE (Long Term Evolution) is “the” 4G standard. Verizon says that 4G is six to 10 times faster than 3G. I can’t verify that, but again, from my apartment in NYC, I ran broadband speed tests on my Verizon HTC Thunderbolt. In three consecutive tests it averaged 21 Mbps down and 2.5 Mbps up. Trust me, that’s fast for a wireless device. In fact, I’d be happy if my Time Warner Road Runner Extreme Cable Modem consistently gave me this kind of performance.
If you are looking for raw wireless speed, 4G from Verizon is as fast as it gets.
But … speed is not everything. And 4G is not everywhere!
Over the past few weeks several awesome 4G devices have hit the market. AT&T introduced its 4G Motorola Atrix. Now AT&T doesn’t really have a 4G network. As I said in a previous article, if you read the fine print in AT&T’s agreement, it says: “4G speeds require a 4G device and are delivered when HSPA+ technology is combined with enhanced backhaul. 4G speeds available in limited areas with availability increasing with ongoing backhaul deployment.” As of this writing that means AT&T 4G is only available at full speed in Northern CA, Greater LA, Greater Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Charlotte NC, Baltimore, Buffalo, Boston, Providence RI and, Puerto Rico. If you are not in one of these areas, AT&T 4G is 3G.
This will change over time. AT&T also plans to cover the US with its 4G Network. But, for now, what this really means is that the 4G Atrix will fallback to a 3G when it can’t find a 4G signal. And, as you can see from reading the previous paragraph, that’s pretty much everywhere in the USA. This is also true with the Verizon HTC Thunderbolt and its new Samsung 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot SCH-LC11 and every other device on the market that calls itself 4G.
Now, as Verizon’s VP Network Ops said, Verizon has about 1/3 of the USA covered with LTE and plans to have about 2/3’s covered by early 2012 and most of the USA covered by the end of 2013. That’s just about the time your new 2-year contract is going to end. Hummm … seems like most people really won’t have 4G coverage for a while.
Just how many batteries do you need for 4G?
Sorry to bury the lead, but 4G may not be for you. Why? Battery life. 4G devices look for 4G networks. When they can’t find a 4G network, they fallback to 3G. However, unless you turn off the 4G radio, the devices keep searching for 4G signals. This absolutely eats batteries. Sadly, some devices don’t even let you turn off the 4G feature, but even those that do, require you to constantly know where you are and be conscious of the status of your network and your equipment. Yuck!
So, if you are used to popping in an extended battery and doing your 3G business all day long, you are going to need two extended batteries or four regular batteries in our current 3G/4G hybrid world. Do you really want to charge one to three extra batteries every day? Do you want to buy the extra equipment to do that? Do you want to spend the money on the batteries?
If you need the speed, and you know where you are, and you are geeky enough to always be conscious of whether your background data, 4G radio and WiFi radio are on or off, then a 4G device may be for you.
However, if you are a normal person who travels for business and is not used to constantly monitoring battery life and tweeking your device to extend it, you might want to rethink 4G.
Should you avoid 4G devices? No. Most of the 4G devices available today not only have access to the much faster 4G wireless networks, the devices themselves are significantly more powerful than their 3G counterparts. This makes the entire 4G mobile computing experience much, much more productive and enjoyable.
Should you cancel your 3G contract and rush to get a 4G device? No, unless you have a specific reason to do so. And, if you have a reason, you are not reading this article.
If your contract is up between now and the end of 2011, don’t be afraid to purchase a 3G device instead of a 4G device – you won’t absolutely need a 4G device until late 2012 and, remember – the carriers will support 3G for at least 10 more years.
Do I love my 4G smartphones? Yes, I strongly love them. Note the plural. I have not yet spent a day without four battery changes on my primary phone. (A Verizon HTC Thunderbolt). Just for a point of comparison, I had a extended battery on my Verizon 3G BlackBerry Bold 9650 which never needed charging on any business day during its service life. I don’t miss it, but I do miss the battery life.source

How to go about mobile banking

Heard about mobile banking? “Yes,” pat comes the reply from Mumbai-based Supriya Pandit. She was issued a Mobile Money Identifier (MMID) by her bank, two months back. But the 30-year old graphic designer doesn’t know how to use it.
MMID is a seven-digit number issued by your bank for transactions through mobile banking. There will be different MMIDs for different savings accounts but all these can be linked to one mobile number. Axis Bank, Federal Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank, recently launched Interbank Mobile Payment Service (IMPS) or mobile banking. “The idea is to enable quick transfer of funds through mobile phones,” a senior official at State Bank of India (SBI) said. While mobile banking is available free of cost for the consumer, a transaction cost (of 10 paise) for availing IMPS is levied by National Payments Corporation on the bank from which the money is transferred.
You can transfer money across banks, provided the beneficiary bank is registered for mobile banking. As per the Reserve Bank of India norms, an individual can transfer up to Rs 50,000 per day but you can receive an unlimited amount. Transfer of funds can be done by anyone who has an MMID but he needs to be a registered net banking user. Net banking users automatically get registered for mobile banking. Apart from fund transfer, mobile banking can also be used for purchase of goods and services, making bill payments, investments in mutual funds or creating fixed deposits.

Here’s how to go about m-banking. (This is the process for Kotak Mahindra Bank, the process may differ slightly for other banks)
Step 1: If you are registered for net-banking, download the mobile banking application form from the bank’s website. Or, send an SMS to the customer care service and get the link for the mobile application.
Step 2: When you run the application, you will need your net banking username and password to log in. On logging in, you will get the activation number or the (IMEI) number, to activate your account.
Step 3: The application gives the option of banking, investment and change password.
Step 4: Under the banking head you can also pay bills, request for cheque books and report loss of debit cards. Under the investment head you can buy and redeem investments in mutual fund schemes.

A Full Web Experience Of Mobile Internet

The mobile environment has always been dynamic. And as market forces change, it is becoming too complex. As consumers turn increasingly to the mobile web, there is a corresponding growth in the expectations for accelerated access, intuitive navigation and enhanced personalization and interactivity. Media is also becoming richer and more content is being evolved. The recent increase in bandwidth capacity connecting India is enabling the deployment of high-speed networks. This is supporting the growth of mobile internet services by alleviating bandwidth limitations. Globally spurred by the proliferation of web enabled mobile handsets, the demand for collaborative 'Web 2.0' applications, as well as greater 3G penetration and mobile broadband convergence means that the mobile web is increasingly becoming an integral part of the consumer's overall media experience and daily lives.

According to recent industry figures, mobile content and services revenues in India will increase from $4 bn in 2010 to $10 bn in 2015 (Juniper Research). A study by IMRB and IAMAI suggests that about 2 mn users are accessing internet through their mobile phones and other mobile devices actively. Whilst data services such as mobile e-mail and mobile internet provide a basic means of communication and a source of information for individuals across the world, many people in the market have never experienced these services. Cellular internet usage will be important in those countries where the affordability and ubiquity of the mobile phone has made it a popular alternative to expensive PC access. Relatively low bandwidth, limited coverage, and the constraints imposed by the handsets have held back the development of data applications and slowed the consumer adoption in India and other growth markets. Now that mobile communications are extending to all sectors of the society, previously under served segments will have their first experience of the internet via a mobile phone. The transition from limited WAP browsing that once defined the mobile web experience to delivering a full web experience on the mobile will change the dynamics of the internet usage across India-changing the way people communicate and share information.
To be able to meet the demand for extensive use of mobile internet, operators would normally need to invest in upgrading bandwidth. Yet the cost of bandwidth across India is high compared to other growth and mature markets. The economics of investing in the necessary bandwidth to deliver a high speed internet experience compared with the mobile data revenue projections do not currently stack up. Operators in mature and growth markets across the world are wrestling with the data conundrum-how to meet the user expectations of high speed access to rich content and a 'real' web experience, when revenues are not increasing in proportion to growth in data volumes. This is where the technology must play a role.
Technology Prerequisites
Technologies will enable operators to solve the data conundrum and deliver an enhanced user experience while ensuring that the revenues grow in sync with an increased data usage.
As per our experience deploying platforms that exploit such technologies, operators are able to reduce bandwidth and capex investment by over 40%. At the same time, the increased ease of user experience has driven data usage by more than 30%. Importantly, this translates into an increase in the data ARPU, an essential area to grow, given the constant pressure on voice revenues. Implementing a data solution that incorporates key technologies enables the cost-efficient delivery of internet and data traffic, whilst enhancing the end user's service experience. As data usage will continue to grow, operators need to ensure that their data solution is future proof and can scale cost-effectively to handle increased traffic volumes.
Content Presentation
Content presentation is an integral part of delivering an enhanced service experience. To ensure an engaging experience, operators must deliver tailored content and subscriptions, enable personalized workflows, and provide essential functionality-without requiring an upgrade in the handset device. Whilst caching, compression and acceleration techniques also help enhance the user experience in terms of response times. Operators also need to consider how to further improve the service experience
A key issue with the current set of browsers despite significant advances in making the 'mobile web' possible, is that they fall short of what 'users' really want to do. Personalization addresses this issue by taking into account a digital consumer's context, behaviour, and content interests and is essential to enhance usability and uptake of mobile internet services.
Handset Requirements
A significant number of component-specific factors is the user's handset device, which influences the quality of service experience and are outside the purview of the operator's immediate control. These factors include characteristics of the connecting device such as the form factor, screen display, the user interface, browser functionality, as well as the web content visualization and layout. In this environment, it is a challenge to pinpoint any single technique, protocol or device to improve the performance characteristics of the mobile internet. Nevertheless the operator can optimize the user experience by deploying widgets that enable the optimal content delivery. Concerted efforts are required by all the players in the value chain to provide a seamless user experience.
Keeping an Eye on the Bottom Line
Operators can exploit technological advancements in terms of data solutions as well as innovations in the type of retail pricing models they offer to exploit the mobile web opportunity. Efforts are being made by service providers to attract the users by migrating from 'legacy per minute' pricing models to flat 'all you can eat' data tariffs to stimulate data services uptake. In many growth markets including India, operators are offering time-bound internet access for a flat fee, enabling users to control browsing costs in line with their budgetary outlay.
While this approach will help drive usage of mobile data, operators also need to keep an eye on the bottom line. The feasibility of offering 'all you can eat' model may not hold up in the medium to long term. Operators will need to charge differentially for premium services and ensure quality of service for such offerings, which is where deep packet inspection technology comes in.
It is clear that mobile data is here to stay and represents a major opportunity for operators to grow revenues, and improve data profitability by cost-effectively managing traffic volumes and deploying differential pricing strategies.
Manoranjan Mohapatra
The author is CEO, Comviva

CONTENT DELIVERY ON 'missed-calls'

The just-concluded cricket world cup tournament saw an innovative service on the mobile platform. Anyone who wanted to know the score only had to give a ‘missed-call’ to a specified number, to get a call back or SMS with the score. Such ‘missed-call’ campaigns are the latest promotional tool for marketers, says its developer, a Bangalore-based tech start-up ZipDial Mobile Solutions Private Limited.
The company says its patent-pending technology has been used in campaigns of Proctor & Gamble, KFC, Pepsi, Sanofi-Aventis, Videocon, and even for Miss Bangalore pageant and a recent Nasscom conference in Mumbai.
t enables promotional activities through its ‘call-to-action’ platform, where consumers interested in a product or service have to dial a number without any charge. The user has to dial a particular dialing number given to companies by ZipDial. The call gets disconnected and they get a reverse call back. The user’s number gets registered through the ZipDial’s platform.

The companies promoting the products or services can then use the registered mobile numbers of their potential users, who by dialling the number had shown interest in their product, for sending promotional messages and offers.
“The concept caters to 100 per cent mass market, as it is free of cost and takes not much effort for dialing,” Valerie Rozycki, chief executive office, Zip Dial, said. As a mass market tool, it offers varied services like polling and generating sales lead and brings customers closer to their brands using high penetration of telecom services.
“The concept, which was launched last year during IPL matches, has scored big during this year’s World Cup. On the very first day of the World Cup cricket match, we received 4 million dials on a single day,” she said.
The high penetration of the Indian mobile market, which is expected to reach 800 million, will help the company expand its reach and business, she said.
“State Bank of India is currently going through a pilot project, which was run by Eko, SBI’s business correspondent. Customers can check account details through this service aimed at those who are not English literate,” she said.
The KFC campaign was started in Chicago, and a fan-club engagement during the football World Cup.
Timing it with Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s regulations on SMS spam, which came into effect on April 1, 2011, it recently launched a verification service, which has been used by e-commerce companies including Flipkart, Myntra, SnapDeal and TutorVista.
Zip Dial, founded by Valerie Rozycki and Amiya Pathak, started with self-funding and recently received VC funding of $800,000 (Rs 3.6 crore) from Mumbai Angels.SOURCE