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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

Cat and Mouse Game

Friday, April 07, 2006

The emergence of the new breed of Mobile Routers has the Telcos. worried, Verizon in this specific case. But the real worry would not be bandwidth. A single account being shared between several users would mean more traffic which in the long term would translate to more business. IMHO the cause heartburn is something else.

EVDO is a fairly new technology which has been designed specifically for asymmetric packet data traffic profile such as internet browsing. Web site surfing has a distinct characteristic; the downlink traffic is much more than the uplink traffic, hence the term asymmetric. But with the advent of broadband and web services (eg. Flickr, YouTube) where user generated content plays the pivotal role, the gap between the uplink and downling traffic is shirnking. Real time applications such as Skype and latency specific technologies such as AJAX are also contributing. And EVDO Rev 0 is not engineered for that.

Broadband is not just the speed of uplink and downlink. Its also about a faster user experience. When the EVDO protocol was designed nobody had forseen that the traffic profile of an average user might completely change by the time its deployed. Its like the worst nightmare of the Telcos. coming true. The next revision, called Rev A (DOrA), attempts to address a lot of shortcomings of Rev 0. But its deployment is at least another year and half away. By that time the user traffic profile would have changed again. Its a cat and mouse game.

Such skewed traffic profiles tend to bring down the performace of the system as a whole. And they have to be limited so that other users do not get affected. In fact Verizon's service agreement restricts the user to run any real time voice application (eg. Skype, Vonage) over their EVDO service!

Even UMTS has the same problem. The Rel 99 is similar to the 3G1X service. The downlink speed is enhanced by HSDPA and uplink by HSUPA. Both CDMA and WCDMA will also see the introduction of OFDM in the physical layer in later revisions because of its superior over the air performance. That is where WiFi and WiMAX scores. They are already on OFDM. Qualcomm caught up with OFDM a tad too late.

Update: The clamour against Verizon is increasing. But Sprint is embracing it.

Tags: Verizon Mobile Routers EVDO Broadband DORA CDMA 3G1X UMTS HSDPA HSUPA OFDM WiMAX WiFi
posted by Rajiv, 2:00 AM

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