Thursday, October 28, 2010

Apple's new software SIMs may allow for 5G network deployment by R&E and community networks

[Some more exciting developments in the world of 5G networks. The development of soft SIM cards will liberate computer and telephone manufacturers to build next generation wireless networks in partnership with R&E and community networks. Unfortunately the telcos and regulators are still trapped in the antiquated view of spectrum has being a land grant, while in reality new technologies such as cognitive radios, wireless mesh, RF orbital angular momentum, WhiteFi, etc will allow next generation radios to communicate through a variety of techniques across large spectral regions. More importantly this abundance of new radio services can be powered solely by micro renewable energy. As well, most R&E/Community networks have the essential open access backhaul infrastructure. Liberating the handset from the monopoly of a sole provider is a crucial first step- which is enabled by removing the SIM from the clutches of the telco. As noted in the article below this new world of wireless Internet will most likely happen first in Europe. In Europe policy makers understand that “competition” is the essence of a free market, while in North American we are wedded to the false belief that “non-interference” by government is the essence of a free market. European regulators such as those in Netherlands are already signaling that they will be receptive to new wireless Internet strategies enabled by the Apple SIM card and forward thinking innovative networks like SURFnet. But as Rudolf van der Berg points out the regulator also has a critical role in ensuring access and roaming. Quoting Rudolf “The access bit is dependant upon getting the right IMSI's and cryptographic keys of the operator. The roaming bit is either done by subscribing on all networks with OTA updates or by paying the racketeering fee to telco's to allow you to roam”. The new software SIM cards will allow a host of new applications for education/research community in authentication/authorization, sensor networks, etc. Some excerpts from relevant articles—BSA].

More on 5G networks can be found at

Is Apple About To Cut Out the Carriers?

Sources inside European carriers have reported that Apple has been working with SIM-card manufacturer Gemalto to create a special SIM card that would allow consumers in Europe to buy a phone via the web or at the Apple Store and get the phones working using Apple’s App Store.
It’s rumored that Apple and Gemalto have created a SIM card, which is typically a chip that carries subscriber identification information for the carriers, that will be integrated into the iPhone itself. Then customers will then be able to choose their carrier at time of purchase at the Apple web site or retail store, or buy the phone and get their handset up and running through a download at the App Store as opposed to visiting a carrier store or calling the carrier. Either way, it reduces the role of the carrier in the iPhone purchase. Gemalto and Apple have not responded to requests for comment. I’m also waiting to hear back from other sources to get more details.
However, if Apple is doing an end run around the carrier by putting its own SIM inside the iPhone, it could do what Google with its NexusOne could not, which is create an easy way to sell a handset via the web without carrier involvement. Much like it helped cut operators out of the app store game, Apple could be taking them out of the device retail game. Yes, carriers will still have to allow the phone to operate on their networks, which appears to be why executives from various French carriers have been to Cupertino in recent weeks.
The Gemalto SIM, according to my sources, is embedded in a chip that has an upgradeable flash component and a ROM area. The ROM area contains data provided by Gemalto with everything related to IT and network security, except for the carrier-related information.
The model should work well in Europe, where the carriers tend to use the same networking technology and are far more competitive. It also means that customers can roam more easily with the iPhones, swapping out the carriers as needed. The iPhone has lost its exclusivity in much of Europe and other markets of the world, which makes this model a compelling one for consumers, but a nightmare for carriers. Apple could change the mobile game once again.

From Dewayne Hendricks Blog
[Note: This item comes from friend Scott McNeil. DLH]

A Cell-Phone Network without a License
A trial system offers calling, texting, and data by weaving signals around the chatter of baby monitors and cordless phones.

A trial cell-phone network in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, gets by without something every other wireless carrier needs: its own chunk of the airwaves. Instead, xG Technology, which made the network, uses base stations and handsets of its own design that steer signals through the unrestricted 900-megahertz band used by cordless phones and other short-range devices.

It's a technique called "cognitive" radio, and it has the potential to make efficient use of an increasingly limited resource: the wireless spectrum. By demonstrating the first cellular network that uses the technique, xG hopes to show that it could help wireless carriers facing growing demand but a relatively fixed supply of spectrum.

Its cognitive radios are built into both the base stations of the trial network, dubbed xMax, and handsets made for it. Every radio scans for clear spectrum 33 times a second. If another signal is detected, the handset and base station retune to avoid the other signal, keeping the connection alive. Each of the six base stations in xG's network can serve devices in a 2.5-mile radius, comparable to an average cell-phone tower.

"In Fort Lauderdale, our network covers an urban area with around 110,000 people, and so we're seeing wireless security cameras, baby monitors, and cordless phones all using that band," says Rick Rotondo, a vice president with xG, which is headquartered in Sarasota, Florida. "Because our radios are so agile, though, we can deliver the experience of a licensed cellular network in that unlicensed band."


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Thursday, October 14, 2010

GAO says broadband costs, not availability, is hindering adoption

[This is consistent with an article way back in August 1993 Scientific American that showed once a technology is broadly as perceived as useful, it is cost above all that is the major factor in adoption rates. The article compared adoption rates of various technologies compared to the average annual income over time. No surprise that the telephone, because it was a monopoly, has traditionally been the most expensive technology in terms of average annual income – as a consequence it took over 75 years for the telephone to reach 50% adoption. Competition drives down prices and accelerates adoption. Canada is a textbook case of how NOT do drive broadband adoption – because of restrictions on foreign ownership Canada has very little competition and as result we pay some of the highest prices for broadband (wireless and wired) in the world and we have one of the lowest adoption rates. On the other hand our broadband providers are generally the most profitable in the OECD. Rather than expand overseas, or invest in new innovative services, our broadband providers are more focused on concentrating their stranglehold on the Canadian economy through concentration of ownership of media and broadcast companies. Thanks to Dewayne Hendricks for this pointer. – BSA]

GAO says broadband costs, not availability, is hindering adoption The Hill By Gautham Nagesh

The main barrier to increasing the adoption of broadband Internet in the U.S. is cost, not the availability of access, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The GAO noted that broadband has been deployed to 95 percent of households in the U.S., putting it on pace with other developed countries despite America's larger population. While ranked in the middle of the pack in broadband adoption, the U.S. also leads Australia and Canada, the only two developed nations with comparable populations.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Microsoft demonstrates 5G wireless seamless mobile 3G/Wifi - solar powered WiFi

[Here is a couple of interesting articles on evolving developments in 5G wireless space. 5G wireless networks use Open SIM for authentication, OpenFlow for VM routing and WiFi powered by renewable energy as the primary customer interface. It is an ideal technology for R&E networks and small ISPs to integrate with their fiber backbones. More details can be found at BSA]

Microsoft Wiffler lets smartphones use free WiFi from moving vehicles

Researchers from Microsoft and University of Massachusetts test a promising new protocol to offload 3G traffic to WiFi even from a moving vehicle.
Microsoft Researchers have been working on a technology that would let mobile phones and other 3G devices automatically switch to public WiFi even while the device is traveling in a vehicle. The technology is dubbed Wiffler and earlier this year, researchers took it for some test drives in Amherst, Mass, Seattle and San Francisco.
Mind you, WiFi was available only about 11 percent of the time for a mobile device in transit, the team discovered, compared to 87% of the time 3G was available. So it would stand to reason that, at best, the mobile device wouldn't only be able to use WiFi a tiny bit of the time. However, the Wiffler protocol allowed the device to offload nearly half of its data from 3G to WiFi.
How so? Wiffler is smart about when to send the packets. It doesn't replace 3G, it augments it and transmits over WiFi simultaneously, allowing users to set WiFi as the delivery method of choice when it is available -- and when an application can tolerate it.
"We try to ensure that application performance requirements are met. So, if some data needs to be transferred right away (e.g., VoIP) we do not wait for WiFi connectivity to appear. But if some data can wait for a few seconds, waiting for WiFi instead of transmitting right away on 3G, that can reduce 3G usage," Ratul Mahajan told me in an e-mail interview. Mahajan is a researcher with the Networking Research Group at Microsoft Research Redmond. Mahajan worked on the project with two teammates, Aruna Balasubramanian and Arun Venkataramani, both of whom are researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
"The second feature is that we may actually use both connections in parallel instead of using only one. So, if we deem that some data cannot be transferred using WiFi alone within its latency requirement, we will use both 3G and WiFi simultaneously. This parallel use is different from a handoff from one technology to the other, and it better balances the sometimes conflicting goals of reducing 3G usage and meeting application constraints," Mahajan explained.
The results of the test was presented in a paper, Augmenting Mobile 3G Using WiFi (PDF), presented in June 2010 at the eighth annual International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services.
The test consisted of running Wiffler units on 20 buses in Amherst, MA as well as in one car in Seattle and one in San Francisco at SFO. The Wiffler unit itself was a proxy device that included a small-from factor computer, similar to a car computer (no keyboard), an 802.11b radio, a 3G data modem, and a GPS unit. The 3G modem was using HSDPA-based service via AT&T.

"Today, the WiFi/3G combo management is highly suboptimal. Today, smart phones tend to use WiFi connectivity only when they are stationary and not use WiFi connectivity when they are on the move. At the same time, they experience poor application performance when the WiFi connectivity is poor because they happen to be far from the AP (access point) or because the WiFi network is congested. This experience occurs because the devices insist on using WiFi whenever they are connected, largely independent of the performance of WiFi. Our technology provides an automatic combo management that is aware of application performance," Mahajan says.
Next up, the crew plans to test the Wiffler protocol in other uses, including the 3G savings "in a setting when users have Wiffler running all the time rather than just driving. Another is to understand current smartphone traffic workloads to get a sense of how much traffic individual applications generate; this is important because data for some of the applications can be delayed and for some it cannot be delayed," Mahajan explains.

Solar Powered DIY Portable HotSpot
Ever wondered what it would be like to have your own hotspot no matter where you went? Well now you can with this portable solar powered Wi-Fi repeater.
This little mod is simply a wifi router connected to 5 AA batteries that is charged with the built in solar panel and all mounted into a little cigar box. I used this in the back window of my car and no matter where I am at I am able to surf the net and check email within 150 feet of my car.
Here is how it works:
First there is the solar panel. This panel puts out enough voltage and current to run the wireless router without the batteries. The batteries are simply there to act as a flywheel in case of clouds, shade, etc. The panel then recharges the 5 AA batteries which in turn supply the energy needed to run the router.
The router runs a custom firmware called dd-wrt that automatically scans for open hotspots and then connects to the strongest signal it finds automatically. It then repeats the signal locally so you can surf the net with a more reliable connection. No need to search for open hotspots, it finds em and connects to the strongest for you.
This comes in handy as one is at work and their car sits in the parking lot all day long. Then when I come out for lunch I am able to immediately login to my asus netbook and check email, etc.
Notes; This router (Linksys WRT54G v8) will run on up to 12 volts 1 amp or 12 volts 500ma or 6 volts 500ma. I know because I personally tested it with other wall warts of these voltages and amperages.
The solar panel puts out 7.5 volts @ 500 ma in direct sunlight. So no charging circuit was needed as the panel is unable to over charge the batteries due to the fact that the batteries voltage is too close to what the panel puts out in regards to voltage. Now you might be asking how can this router take such different voltages and amperages as stated…? Well, the router has a built in voltage regulator that takes care of any voltage ranging from 6v DC all the way up to 24 volts DC.
In further testing it did not seem to effect the unit in anyway if it was using 12 volts @ 1,000ma or 6 volts @500ma.
One might prefer to use the 12 volts 500ma instead simply due to the fact that a charge regulator is alot easier and cheaper to get for 12 volts then it is for 6 volts. The one below is one that I have that was less then $20 on ebay so I could use it for a larger 12 volt battery if I wanted to.
twitter: BillStArnaud
skype: Pocketpro