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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

DVB-H In India

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Doordarshan, the old gaurd of Indian Television Industry has announced plans to introduce DVB-H in India. It is in talks with Telecom Operators and plans to provide its digitised content using DVB-H. So now you can watch the soap operas on your phone instead of squabbling for the control of remote. The only problem is, anyone hardly watches DD. With the advent of Cable Television in India, it has fallen far beind the Star TV's and Zee TV's of India.

DVB-H is a modified version of the Terresterial Broadcasting technology (DVB-T) adapted to the Wireless Telecom Network which brings the Television content to phones. It is expected that the mobile phone will replace a lot of things that we use today, the PC, the TV, the music players, etc. It would eventually morph into a personal entertaintment hub from the communication tool that it is today. DVB-H plays the part of bringing TV content to the phone.

Phone TV technologies, DVB-H, MediaFLO and ISDB-T are relatively new. Its still under the trial phase and going live in few places just now. And there are skeptics to this technology. It is also a big part of the Qualcomm's gameplan. India generally lags behind in adoption of new technologies, especially telecom. 3G still is under consideration from TRAI. The spectrum needed for DVB-H falls in the 3G band and unless 3G policy comes out, DVB-H wont see the light of the day. But still this is a step forward for DD. At least it will have the first mover advantage.

Maybe one day it can regain its lost glory, as well. Unexplainable things have happened before!

Previous Posts: DVB-H Launches.

Via: MoCoNews.

Tags: DVB-H DD Mobile TV MediaFLO 3G India TRAI Soap Operas Telivision
posted by Rajiv, 4:09 AM | link | 0 comments |

Google God

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I had a revelation today. I was using Gmail to setup a meeting with an acquiantance. Google of course knew about it and to my surprise it decided to help me out and set up a meeting event in my calendar. That technically speaking is the Gmail and Calendar integration, one of the major features of Google Calendar. But personally speaking, thanks to Google I felt how would it be like to have an assitant someday. You can just bark some orders and things will get done. Search for an contact and it will give you the number. Ask for coffee and it will come. We'll almost!

I got more intrigued by how they managed it. They must have gone through my mail and seen the word meeting. Then they must have decided that an helping hand would be most appropriate. The technology behind it would be simple enough I guess. But maybe someday it will become a full fledged AI machine. Someone who is your constant companion, helping you along with day to day work, finding relevant information for you, giving you directions and doling out advice when needed. Something like Google Personal Assitant. Now compare it to the AI machines that you generally see in Sci Fi movies. Pretty similar huh!

Google , God!

Tags: Google Search Mail Calendar AI
posted by Rajiv, 10:55 AM | link | 1 comments |

FOSS Startup Camp

Monday, May 29, 2006

I will be attending the FOSS Startup Camp in Chennai which starts this week. The camp at Anna University's KBC center and being organized by National Resource Centre for Free and Open Source Software (NRCFOSS), India with assistance from Great Lakes Institute of Management. The schedule and the talks surely looks promising though. I wasnt really sure about it when I applied for it since they had asked really daunting questions. But somehow I made it through and now I am attending it.

I would be posting updates on my blog from there regularly. So keep checking this space.

PS: Would be great if I can meet up some more entrepreneurs or bloggers in Chennai. Unfortunately I donw know anyone. But if you are reading this and you are in Chennai, drop me a line!

Tags: FOSS Startup Entrepreneurship Chennai India
posted by Rajiv, 1:06 PM | link | 0 comments |

Ventrure Capital Ousourcing

Friday, May 26, 2006

Paul Graham's latest essay is up online. This time he focusses on the traits of Silicon Valley and examines the possiblity of creating another one. Surprisingly the list is short. A good University, great weather, cirtical mass of Nerds and rich VC's with loads of money to invest. The slashdot thread adds a few more to them; respecting failed attempts, law against exploitation and immigration. So in effect, mix all these ingridients and you have a place from where the next generation of "google's" will emerge. Easier said than done.

The real question here is what is Silicon Valley and why has it been able to create such great companies. Its a great city, a seat of entrepreneurship and which has the right mentality to keep backing newer startup. Ninety Nine percent of them fail and only one in thousands actually becomes a Google. But what is important here is the belief that innovation comes from smart people and they create wealth and need to be backed. Silicon Valley does that. And since its being doing that for such a long time, the ecosystem has sprung up around it.

This ecosystem itself will spawn new Silicon Valley's. The bigger VCs, the KPCB's and the NVP's, are looking outwards to Israel and India. The opportunites there are enormous; a vast market, burgeoning middle class, increasing spending power, possibilities of technology etc. There are smart people there who are looking at these opportunites and have figured out a way to reap benifits from them. For Bangalore and India in general, the ecosystem is missing, and its still decades behind Silicon Valley in that repsect. But then again, VC's are smart people. They can figure out which places are promising enough. Even if they dont, the entreprenuers with their crazy ideas and single minded motivation will figure out a way to get to them.

As said in the article itslef, a Silicon Valley is not made. It grows itself.

Update: The second part of the series is online now. Interesting comments on India and Entrepreneurship.

Tags: Paul Graham Silicon Valley Venture Capital Entrepreneurship Innovation
posted by Rajiv, 1:40 AM | link | 0 comments |

Prepaid Computer

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Following the enormous success of prepaid mobile especially in the emerging markets, we now have the prepaid computer from Microsoft. And MS has teamed up with AMD this time to target the BOP market. Except for the catchy name of FlexGo, not much details have been provided. Presumeably instead of paying for airtime (as in mobiles) the consumers would pay for using MS's software (Windows and MS Office) and AMD's hardware. No information whether the hardware will be tuned to the geographies that BOP markets envelope.

But its very easy to rip apart this scheme. What stops people from just bypassing MS and installing Linux on it. Open Office today has excellent support of all kinds of MS docs. Its secure and free. As Mike points out, this seems to be another stupid startup idea. Not to mention the fact that mobile communications are a much more powerful commincations device compared to the PC in such markets. As a learning tool they might be better, but people there need connectivity soultions. And internet is non existent in these parts of the world!

If this is MS's answer to OLPC, its incredibly stupid.

Update: Engadget has its converage here.

Tags: MS FlexGo AMD Prepaid Mobile Linux OLPC
posted by Rajiv, 2:11 AM | link | 0 comments |

MoMo Bangalore

Monday, May 22, 2006

First came the Blog Meets. Then the Half Marathons. And then the Barcamp's. And now its the turn of Mobile Monday Bangalore. Yours truly and Rajan have conspired to setup the Bangalore chapter of Mobile Monday. For the uninitiated, Mobile Monday is a monthly meetup of mobile industry professionals to discuss, promote and network. It is quite an informal gathering of willing enthusiasts. If you have ever read Russel Beatie, you would know about it. And pls. do not confuse it with the delicious Tibbetian dish.

So when and where? We'll traditionally it happens on the first Monday of every month. But nothing's been decided yet. No wiki and no website yet. Since this was cooked up today morning (and since then I have been sleeping) not much progress has been made as well. But we are looking forward to large participation. After all we being in India are experiencing this boom first hand. Our perspective can add a lot of value here.

Comments? Suggestions?

Watch this space. And this as well.

Update: The yahoo group is up and running. A wiki is on the way as well.



Click to join MoMoBangalore



Tags: MoMo Bangalore Barcamp
posted by Rajiv, 4:50 AM | link | 1 comments |

The Wirting on the Wall

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Red Herring has a detailed look at the state of Nortel and the challenges the new CEO faces. With its illustrious history and still a huge market cap of 11 billion, its state right now is woeful. Since the internet bubble it has been in the red and suffering losses every quarter. Even with the aggressive reform and restructuring plan its going to take a long time before its golry is recaptured. Its biggest competitor in North America, Lucent, gave up and got acquired by Alactel. Nortel is still fighting on.

The more interesting part of the article is the subtle hints in it, with far reaching implications. The most fascinating is the option of sellout in those areas in which it does not mark up to 20 % of the market share. The 3G program is amongst them. Nokia and Ericsson would be definately interested in it. It would take them to a dominant position in the market. Not to mention Huawei. That would give them a foot hold in the North American market its looking for. A lot of greedy eyes would be on Nortel at this moment.

Another route for Nortel is going into the Enterprise Services market, a la IBM. Cisco is the leading player right now in the Enterprise networks market and it can certainly do with a competitor. But then historically it has been a R&D driven product company. It would be a paradigm shift for them and definately diffcult for such a mammoth company.

Acquiring R&D startups and going into new technology, WiMAX and VoIP is another option. The Nortel stamp on product from such companies would add credibitlity and gain industry acceptance. Its a logical path for them. The low demand for 2G voice entric equipment led it into the red. Maybe the emerging technologies can lead it back. The only question is the bet on such technologies. Nobody knows which one will succeed!

But the best hint by far is the possibility of a complete sellout, uthinkable sometime back. But with Lucent leading the way, it does become an option for them as well. The impending market alignment is on the cards and the grapewine is buzzing with all sorts of rumor. The threat posed by low cost players like Huawei and ZTE is real. Its either align or perish.

The writing is definately on the Wall.

Previous Post: The Consolidation Wave.

Update: Some more hints on Nortel's UMTS business.

Tags: Nortel M&A Lucent Alcatel Nokia Ericsson Huawei ZTE Telecom
posted by Rajiv, 7:46 AM | link | 0 comments |

The OFDM Maharaja

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Its becoming apperent that Qulacomm is going to aggressively pursue the Flarion OFDM patents. The latest warning is from ABI Research which does not expect QC to let it go easily. And with QC paying up more for the patents of Flarion, there is no reason why it would not enforce them. Maybe SOMA networks did do a very wise thing after all when it licensed QC's OFDM patents. It forced them to future proof their solution to convince the carriers to adopt WiMAX.

But then the applications of OFDM encompass more than WiMAX. It is the 4G technology that all carriers and wireless infrastructure vendors are looking at. Its in the roadmap for both EVDO and UMTS. With DSP gaining more and more processing power and the cost of hardware decreasing, it would be feasible to put processing intensive slicon on to the subscribers terminals. There are lots of if's and but's and many technical hurdles along the way but then there is no viable contender to OFDM in sight as well!

So given all the patents in QC's stable, its future from the royalties is quite secured.

Previous Posts: OFDM Patents Resurface. QC Penalised.

Tags: OFDM Patents IPR QC WiFi WiMAX 3G UMTS EVDO SOMA
posted by Rajiv, 1:46 AM | link | 0 comments |

The Battle Continues

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

A few days old but still significant. The microkernel versus monolithic kernel debate continues to gain steam. With Linus posting his own views on the subject and slshdot carring a full featured discussion on it, the ball was squarely in Andrew S Tanenbaum's court. He replied in his own typical fashion. And was supported by ably by Jonathan Shaprio. A lot of views being put forth and a few gems in between there.

With all the past and history attached to it, its difficult to make out where does one stand. My personal opinion is that microkernels are great for embedded systems. All the commercial embedded systems, QNX, vxWorks, all in some way adopt the microkernel philosophy. Mostly because the amount of configurability and reliablitity it gives to your systems. In desktops, both Mac OS X and Windows NT are hybrid kernels. While its still far away from Linux, Minix 3 is staking claim of becoming the first fully microkernel desktop OS. Will it ever become a threat to Linux, is an open question.

But still the concept of a desktop without a reset button is really invigorating. A OS which can take anything which you can throw at it. A nightmare for hackers!

Previous Posts: The Big Fight.

Tags: Microkernel Linux AST Linus Windows NT Mac OS X Minix3
posted by Rajiv, 2:59 AM | link | 0 comments |

Feed Update

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pls. update your RSS readers to point to the updated feed at

http://feeds.feedburner.com/WirelessUtopia

I have added a few more options as well.
posted by Rajiv, 11:19 AM | link | 0 comments |

Emergence of QualSoft

The Register has an indepth analysis of the Qualcomm Microsoft partnership deal. They examine several aspects of it but the focus is more on the threat to Nokia and repurcussions for Intel. The WinTel partnership has seen both Microsoft and Intel established a firm footing on the desktop market. But of late they have been pursuing different markets; Intel hedgeing its bets on WiMAX and Microsoft pushing its Mobile Windows Platform.

Nokia on the other hand is a growing threat to both Qualcomm and Microsoft. By intrducing Linux and pushing its Symbian OS on its handsets, it is enabling the transistion of enterprise software from the workstation to the mobile. The high end smartphones are the next battlefield and for Microsoft it is essential to break into the market to retain its dominant position. But right now Windows Mobile still lags behind by quite a lot in the mobile OS market.

Nokia has also risen up against the monopolistic policies of Qualcomm with respect its CDMA based patents and chipsets solutions. To bring down the cost it started manufacturing its own chipsets under license from Qualcomm, much to QC's displeausre. For QC the threat is larger because of the 3G networks converging on OFDM as their preferred Air Interface technology. In response QC has acquired Flarion Networks and has started using FUD against WiMAX leveraging on its patents. Its gameplan is to push its own propreitary Flash OFDM so as to preserve its royalties in a changed world.

Both QC and MS need a strong partnership to break into the markets they see as the future. QC has been on the forefront of Wireless Technology for over a decade now and along with Microsoft they can bring the familiar look and feel to mobile handsets as well. The resultant QualSoft is just the begining of another monopolistic giant.

Previous Post: Microsoft Qualcomm Partnership.

Further Reading: The Next Battlefeild.

Tags: QC MS Nokia Intel WiMAX OFDM
posted by Rajiv, 9:44 AM | link | 0 comments |

The Big Fight

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Microkernels vs Monolithic kernel debate is back in news, thanks to a paper published by Andrew Tannenbaum. AST after having missed out on the Free Open Source Software movement is stating the case once again for Microkernels. There is a lot of history behind it which going back to inception of Linux. Linux was born because AST had refused to grant the rights of extending Minix and distribute it free. Subsequent to that there was flamewar between Linus and AST. AST has known to have been a backer of microkernels and this seems to be his latest pitch.

The paper describes the concept of microkernels very nicely. Microkernels are a an old concept which never took off due to performance concerns. But with hardware becoming more faster and concerns for security and maintainablity increasing, microkernels are getting a relook. The concept behind them is very simple. The kernel just handles the basic functions of process management, I/O and IPC. All the other functions are implemented as seperate processes. Since the drivers cannot therefore directly access the hardware, it needs to request the kernel for access. This adds an addtional overhead. The article also discusses other approaches; notably virtualization.

Recently there has been a lot of concerns about the size of the linux kernel gradually increasing with each release because of the need to support all types of hardware, even the old and outdated ones. Even Vista has been plauged with the same problem. And interestingly Slashdot featured an article discussing it two days ago where someone suggested the use of microkernels. Now we have this promotion by none other than AST. The timing is definately right on the mark.

But the best thing to come out of if, which everybody missed somehow, is that Minix 3 is now available on Free BSD License! That was exactly the thing I was looking for.

PS: AST has posted his views on the discussion on Slashdot on the usnet group.

Via: Slashdot. Dont miss out on the comments!

Tags: Microkernel Minix Linux Kernel OS AST Linus OSS OpenSource Virtualization
posted by Rajiv, 2:05 PM | link | 0 comments |

Google Puzzle

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Google PC rumor is doing the rounds once again. A few months ago blog circles were rife with speculation when it was revealed that Google was talking to Wyse. Wyse is a Thin Computing company which manufactures Network Computers. Network Computer is one of those technologies which has a lot of promise but none of the implemtations till date have been able to make a mark. Apple, SUN and IBM have all tried and failed. But with the advent of an web based applications and broadband networks, they are again making a comeback. It more commonly known as Thin Clients.

Another more talked about Network Computer in the news is OLPC or the sub 100 $ laptop. Google is already a sponsor for that project. Its a hard disk less, low power consuming, mass produced educational computers intended for kids in poor regions. An MIT Media Lab experimental project which has galvanised the imagination of many people. Converting it to a handheld device targeted to corporate executives, something like Blackberry but way more powerful, wont be such a hard task. Not surprisingly there has been suggestion that Google would just rebrand it and sell it as a Google PC.

An ultra mobile low cost network computer specifically optimized for access to Google's services would be a compelling product. Most people already are hooked on to Google Search and Mail. The only missing peice in this scheme would be a free broadband connection. And Google already has shown interest for providing free city wide WiFi connections supported by ads. And they have also bought dark fiber. And they are in the process of building an web based office and home productivity suite.

Looks like the peices of the puzzle are slowly falling into place!

Update: More analysis from TMCNet.

Tags: Google Wyse Thin Client Network Computer OLPC Muni WiFi Broadband Web2.0
posted by Rajiv, 2:18 PM | link | 0 comments |

DVB-H Launches

The first DVB-H service has been announced by Vodafone. The subscribers of SkyTV who own a Vodafone connection will be able to watch the Football Leauge Playoffs and the Cricket series on their 3G handsets. Its comes right after the announcement of availablity of commerical DVB-H handsets from LG and Samsung. The 3G service has come under quite a lot of criticism from several quarters because of its low adoption amongst the users. This could see the adoption jump. The passion of club football in UK needs to be seen to be believed!

DVB-H is an evolution of the DVB-T standard which is used for Terresterial TV broadcasts. It is the adopted standard for mobile TV in UMTS. The competing CDMA world has MediaFLO which is being promoted by who else, Qualcomm. QC is in the process of launching the service and has already bought the necessary spectrum for it. The MediaFLO is QC's next big gamble. Its betting big on the Mobile TV market. If successful QC will morph into a Media company from the technology company its right now.

Both of them will be watched closely by analysts. Nobody is sure whether it will adopted widely or not given the small displays of mobile handsets. All market research points that the potential market is huge. But they said the same about 3G as well! It will be interesting to see the results.

Previous Post: QC Media.

Tags: DVB-H Vodafone LG Samsung QC MediaFLO Mobile TV
posted by Rajiv, 2:22 AM | link | 0 comments |

Kernel Panic

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Anything on Linux count on Slashdot to be on to it. The lastest one is about the Linux Production Kernel being too buggy. The discussion around it really points to some disturbing things about the project. Internal Politics seems to have taken it over.
During his talk, Morton discussed the 2.6 kernel development process, explaining that if people want to get their code into the kernel they should send it to him, not Linus Torvalds, who maintains the development kernel.
Going back in history a bit we find that it was the OSDL with some corporate backing which broke off Linux into two branches with Linus Trovalds as the maintainer of the development one and Andrew Morton as the lead of the production branch. Seems that things between Andrew and Linus has not been that smooth after all. Also noteworthy is that it corporate backing which actually caused the split. Does smell of a conspiracy here.

Linux is at the heart of the Open Source movement and still its torch bearer. Its biggest asset is its community of developers. Not the corporates who are more concerned about thier hardware which runs Linux and has a big market. And if they somehow manage to alienate the community, that would be the end of it all!

Tags: Linux Kernel OSDL Linus Trovalds Andrew Morton OSS OpenSource
posted by Rajiv, 9:02 AM | link | 0 comments |

Microsoft Qualcomm Partnership

Friday, May 05, 2006

The latest win for Microsoft in its big Windows Mobile push. Information Week reports that Microsoft and Qualcomm have agreed on a partnership to provide Windows Mobile OS on QC MSM chipsets. QC is the leader in CDMA mobile chipset market and has a wide range of MSM chipsets already available for UMTS and HSDPA mobiles. Microsoft stands to gain a lot from this partnership.

The interesting bit of information is about the availability of BSP and a Radio Interface package.
A new Board Support Package and Radio Interface Layer for the platform will be offered in its Windows Mobile platform in the future, Microsoft noted.
This is something new. Generally its the mobile manufacturers who integrate the protocol stack with the chipset firmware. Now with Windows Mobile, they will be provided as a package. Makes the life of the manufacturer a bit more easy as Microsoft will garuntee that the physical layer works fine with Windows Mobile. Neither Symbian or Linux can boast of this.

QC and MS are natural partners. Both of them have a very IP centric business model and both have been pioneers in their own respective feilds. But given the history of Microsoft, maybe they are just aiming to swallow up QC. Time shall tell.

Tags: Microsoft QC Windows Mobile Symbian Linux
posted by Rajiv, 4:43 AM | link | 0 comments |

On To Fedora

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I finally finished installing Fedora on my machine today. It was supposed to be a breeze, but it turned out that FC5 does not support ATI Radeon Graphics card and my comp unfortunately had it. After a lot of Googling and losing more hair I was able to successfully install the Livna drivers. But that too didnt work. The monitor just started rebooting whenever I tried to start the X server! Finally moving back to generic Vesa terminal worked. I dont plan to use any games on it so I guess thats okay.

But now that I have done it, I genuinely feel that there is a lack of information on the web about it. I am sure a lot of people have experienced it, but havent bothered to put it up. So here goes.

My system has a Intel D101Ggc mother board with a ATI Radeon Xpress 200 graphics card. Other configurations are usual. Notably in Fedora Core 5 the support of propreiteray drivers have been removed . So during installation the driver was detected as radeon and the xorg.conf was populated as such. But when the xserver started, the screen just hung. Nothing worked, not even ALT+CTRL+F1. So I had to install the linux in text mode and manually go and change the Driver in xorg.conf to vesa and disable SELinux before it started working. No 3D Acceleration but thats okay. If you need that then you need to install the fglrx modules from Livna.

Happy Linuxing! It does feel good to be back.

Tags: Linux Fedora FC5 ATI Dirvers fglrx
posted by Rajiv, 11:52 AM | link | 2 comments |

On Change

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Learn Objective C and embrace that change that will come.

The best comment on Salshdot I have seen in recent times. On the topic of Yahoo Microsoft merger.
posted by Rajiv, 11:36 AM | link | 0 comments |

The Wrong Question

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Independent has a feature examining the imapct of multi technology handsets on the huge 3G investments by Telco's. The handset markets in Europe and North America has reached a saturation point. Its becoming increasingly difficult for phone manufacturers to attract customers to their offerings. They have gone consumer centric and are building support for rival technologies to 3G into the phones itself.

This compounds the problem of the Operators. The 3G adoption is increasing but the money coming from it is still scarce. The eternal search for the killer app is still on. And with these new handsets the consumers will be have access to same services without the use of the operators 3G Network, when on a WiFi network. To add to it, voice revenues are falling because of more and more competition. 3G is fast turning out to be the fallback option.

With mobile WiMAX and WiBRO on the horizon, things will heat up even more. The possibility that the 3G services might never or sparingly get used is very real.

When that happens the Telco's will go bankrupt.

Previous Post: BigBRO.

Via: MoCoNews.

Update: Japan on the other hand is reveling on 3G services.

Tags: Nokia Sony Ericsson WiFi WiMAX WiBRO 3G
posted by Rajiv, 5:40 AM | link | 0 comments |

HELIO Rises

With Social Networking becoming a hot internet commodity, it was only a matter of time till someone extended it to mobile phones. HELIO is a MVNO startup which is offering a customized MySpace client with the package. It has just been launched and both Gizmodo and Engadet have covered it. Its will be watched closely. Given the poularity of MySpace amongst the youth, it remains to be seen whether the user base can be cashed in upon.

HELIO has leased out spectrum and equipment from Verizon and Sprint-Nextel uses their EVDO Rev 0 network. The target user base is the youth between 18 and 32. Therefore its also offering Wireless Multiplayer gaming on the handsets. Nokia had earlier tried it with N-Gage which is considered as a disaster somewhat. This would be second EVDO MVNO launch in the US after Amp'd.

Much depends upon the success of HELIO. The business model of MVNO's has received a lot of criticism. What HELIO is betting upon is a combination of superior handsets and MySpace client. Social Networking is one of the candidates of the killer app of 3G. HELIO is going to put that to test.

Update: MoCoNews has detailed coverage of it. The "begging" part does remind me of my college days!

Tags: HELIO MVNO MySpace Mobile Phones Gaming EVDO Amp'd
posted by Rajiv, 1:40 AM | link | 0 comments |