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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

Nokia Pulls The Plug

Friday, June 23, 2006

IT Business has an in depth article on Nokia pulling out of the CDMA market. Its will only outsource CDMA handsets from the Chinese and Tiwanese ODM's to maintain a presence in these markets. The official reason being that the market is not big enough to make any money. This is the latest in the feud between Nokia and Qualcomm over CDMA licenses and comes within a short time after the Nokia-Siemens Network Equipment merger deal.

An interesting quote from the article.

If nothing else, this development validates a prediction made by a Cisco vice-president to one of our editors two years ago that within five years, you won’t see a CDMA handset on the market

Even CNet paints a gloomy scenario for CDMA. But can a technology simply vanish? With Nokia pulling out, it still leaves only a few players in the field, LG, Samsung and the South Asian ODM's. The markets in North America have already saturated and in the emerging markets CDMA has lost out to GSM at the price point. Even operators are moving away from CDMA, the latest being Reliance.

Maybe Verizon has seen it all coming. Its betting everything on EVDO Rev A and VoIP now.

Update: Qualcomm alleviates the doubts.

Tags: Nokia CDMA Sanyo QC IPR Licensing GSM Reliance Verizon EVDO
posted by Rajiv, 9:16 AM | link | 0 comments |

UWB Update

The WiMedia alliance backed by the Intel seem to be winning the Ultra-Wideband war going by the article published in EE Times. It reports about the Wireless USB conference being held in California and about the products being displayed there. It seems to be getting a lot of traction with several silicon and application solutions being showcased. Even Wipro is on the list offering IP solutions!

Wikipedia gives a nice background on Wireless USB. The technicals aspects of it are covered briefly in this article. The IEEE working group on UWB standardisation was finally suspended due to warring factions of WiMedia (Intel backed) and UWBForum (Motorola backed) and regulatory issues. The last time it made news was when Freescale had pulled out of UWB forum to pursue its own version of Cable Free USB on Direct Sequence UWB. But isnt Wireless USB gunning for the same thing on MB-OFDM?

Regardless of the squabbling, UWB is going to be one of the technologies to look out for in the next decade. A lot of money to be made there.

Previous Posts: UWB Soap Opera.

Update: Mobiles with UWB could be available as early as Q3 2006.

Tags: UWB WUSB WiMedia MB-OFDM USB Forum Wipro Intel Motorola Freescale
posted by Rajiv, 6:32 AM | link | 1 comments |

Mobile Music in India

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A startling bit of news from MoCoNews about the rising trend of preloaded songs in High End mobile phones in India. Its a Rs. 500 Crore Industry in India and is on the verge of overtaking the traditional industry in India! And most of the music is not even Bollywood hindi songs. They are international hits which are bundled to show off the music capabilities of the phone. The surprising bit is that they still dont have DRM capabilities and therefore can be copied and shared freely. Given the brouhaha about music sharing in US, one wonders as to how exactly is this made possible.

The answer it seems is in the business model. The methods of payments right now are per-song based royalties or buying out of the complete rights of the songs. That i guess rules out all the A-list record labels and chartbuster songs. But then the focus is not really on selling the song. The song is is just another marketing tool to attaract consumers.

By my personal experience, having the latest mp3's on your phone is a very common thing in India. Bollywood churns a huge number of hit songs each year and they can be readily found on the mp3's sites available for free download. All of them illegal of course. Among the urban population its a fad to have the latest hit song on your mobile. A leagal alternative to this currently does not exist.

Given all that, how big is the legitimate mobile music market in India? No numbers or market reports are available. The iPod's still have not fourished in the indian market yet. Not a lot of people are comforatble using credit card onlline still in India. But there are 100 millon mobile phone users out of which around 10 percent would be having a music capable phone at least. A low priced music donwload service linked to the service plan might just work!

Tags: Mobile Music Download DRM iTunes India
posted by Rajiv, 3:02 AM | link | 2 comments |

The First MoMo Bangalore Meet

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This Monday was a bit special for us. We had the first Mobile Monday meet in Bangalore. It was held in the AztecSoft's office in Koromangala and was attended by exactly 19 people. We started off with a brief introduction of the concept of Mobile Monday and proceeded to discuss the technology and issues behind Mobile TV. It was a free flowing discussion and we wandered off into various topics related and unrealted to mobile's. For a start, it was a great experience to meet everybody there and share thoughts and opinions. The Flickr photostream is here. DNA Mumbai had a brief news article about our efforts, thanks to Raghu!

Going further we are planning to form a founding committee, get a website, wiki, blog and formalize the whole process. Mobile Monday has proven to be a great forum for sharing knowledge and the premier events in Helsinki and Silicon Valley are heavily attended by startups, multinationals and telco's likewise. We intend to do the same and invite anybody and everybody in Bangalore to present talks at our forum. Hopefully we will generate enough interest to make this one of the best technology events in Bangalore.

Needless to say, membership is open to everybody who is a mobile enthusiast. Pls. join the Yahoo group for the time being and watch out for more action here.

Rajan's Post is here. Arun's MoBlog can be found here.

Previous Posts: MoMo Bangalore.

Tags: MoMoBangalore MoMo Mobile Monday
posted by Rajiv, 3:33 AM | link | 0 comments |

The 802.20 Soup

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Two articles from ITWire and Red Herring analysing the reasons and implications of the temoporary suspension of the 802.20 working group by IEEE. The 802.20 is also known as Mobile Broadband Wireless Access and is heavily backed by Qualcomm. It is a challenger to Mobile WiMAX (802.16e) which is being favoured by Intel and others. Qualcomm is trying to push the FLASH-ODFM technology developed by Flarion, which it acquired, into the standard.

The suspension comes due to allegations of misconduct in the working group and would be in effect till 1st October 2006. The allegation include that chariman was paid by Qualcomm for independent consultation and several rival proposals from Intel were rejected by an QC influenced voting process. Very damaging allegations for a IEEE Working group. In common language they are known as bribery and horse trading. A very common practice in Indian Politics.

The IETF and IEEE working groups are heavily politicised and slow. So dont expect the standard to come out any soon.

Related Posts: UWB Soap Opera. BigBRO.

Update: ITWeek says that its only going to benifit WiMAX.

Tags: 802.20 MBWA Intel QC Flarion OFDM IETF IEEE
posted by Rajiv, 4:57 AM | link | 0 comments |

Battle Lines

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hindustan Times has an article examining the dispute between the two heavyweights of Wireless Industry, Qualcomm and Nokia. Right now the third round of the bout is on with QC accusing Nokia of patent infringement on GSM, GPRS and EDGE patents. It does not really clarify whether its for the handset or the network equipment. Nokia has in turn responded back by dismissing the case as one without merit. Nokia's suite of patents in this 2G is definately stronger than QC's.

The feud between Nokia and QC is gaining historic proportions now and is being followed keenly by observers. QC has already taken a tough stance and publically warned Nokia that it might not renew its licensing of CDMA technology when it expires next year. Nokia in turn has complained to EU about QC's unfair licensing practices. The Qualcomm Microsoft partnership to push Windows Mobile on QC chipsets has also raised the stakes in this game. The battles lines have been drawn. The ball is in Nokia's court now.

It also rasies an alarming spectre of QC enforcing its patents pertaining to GSM, GPRS and EDGE. With 3G yet to live up to its promise, the emerging economies of Asia, Latin America and Africa are pushing up a strong demand for 2G equipment and services. Given that perspective, QC maybe does not want to lose out on the royalties that can he harvested from these economies. I hope Huawei is listening!

Previous Posts: Emergence of QualSoft. OFDM Patents Resurface.

Tags: QC Nokia IPR GSM GPRS EDGE Patents
posted by Rajiv, 4:02 AM | link | 0 comments |

Best Analogy Ever

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Another gem found in Slashdot. The topic of disucssion is MS's call for truce between the FOSS and Windows community. Whatever that means!

Tags: MS FOSS Linux Windows
posted by Rajiv, 10:57 AM | link | 0 comments |

Mobile TV Roadblocks

Monday, June 12, 2006

The San Jose Business Journal profiles the Mobile TV market in US. The market predictions point to a multi-billion industry in the next few years, which in turn has fuelled a lot of interest in this segment. Along with Qualcomm's MediaFLO there are three other startups, MobiTV, IPWireless and Modeo vying for the pie. QC has bet big on this market. It has spun off of seperate subsidiary and acquired spectrum as well, something it has never done before. But there are a few things to be sorted out before this technology takes off.

First there are around three competing standards being followed in US, Europe and Japan. Even within US the all the startups are betting on other flavours of standards, including WiMAX! For the early adopters it would mean that the service would not be consistent across the geography. One of the reasons why QC has launched a unified handset chip which supports all the three current standards.

Another issue is the power consumption of the chipsets. Power and heat problems have plauged the third generation mobile handsets. And viewing Telivision for prolonged durations on the handset would eat up a lot into the limitied battery power in the handset. This potentially could leave this technology still-born.

The biggest issue is that its a completely unproven technology. There are several trails going on and as per reports the feedback has been good. Hisotrically market researches have been proven wrong, eg. the case of Software Defined Radio (SDR) market. By now it should have been in our handsets, but that hasnt happened yet! Nobody knows whether Mobile TV will end up being mass adopted. One can only offer views on it.

These problems are inherent to any emerging technology. Any new technolgy which gets introduced into the market goes through an adoption curve which matures it. Once that happens, the most popular technology gains the biggest market share and becomes mainstream. Its an exciting process and to experience it first hand is a very enlightning experience.

So watch this space for further updates!

Previous Posts: DVB-H In India. DVB-H Launches. QC Media.

Update 1: Study points to a rising interest in Mobile TV in Europe.
Update 2: ZDnet Asia says that Asia is a big marketplace for Mobile TV.

Tags: Mobile TV MediaFLO Mobi TV IPWireless Modeo DVB-H QC
posted by Rajiv, 3:47 AM | link | 0 comments |

Open Source Generation

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Slashdot informs us about the success of MIT 100 $ laptop amongst the techies. Its an acheivement in itself that the OLPC project, once written off as the craziest idea, actually has reached so close realisation. The die hard belief of Negroponte in his project is commendable; a inspiration for entrepreneurs. The goal of this project is to provide a educational tool to the deprived children of third world contries, with the hope that they can use the skills to uplift themselves from poverty. Its still just a hope, a big one.

The real success will will be when the generation which grows up playing with this "toy" contributes the knowledge back to their society. It may take decades to materialize and we might not even see the benifits in our lifetime. It will also introduce the children to open source at a very early stage; the perfect way to induct them into the world of software and technology. And further the cause. The possibilities are astounding.

If it succeeds, this experiment could turn out to be the most important one of this century!

Previous Posts: Prepaid Computer. Google Puzzle. OLPC Update. One Laptop Per Child.

Tags: OLPC Negroponte Laptop OpenSource
posted by Rajiv, 3:37 PM | link | 0 comments |

Post Mortem

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The first phase of the FOSS Startup Camp is over and I am back in Bangalore. AFAIK this was the first such effort by any Governmental Organization. NRCFOSS is doing some good work in taking Open Source to colleges and students. They are also looking to incubate businesses' which can help in training, sustaining and maintaining the Free Software products that the colleges and universities are looking to adopt. Its a good business opportunity for people already in or looking to start a Free Software Business.

The camp was organized as a series of speakers one after the another. Some of the speakers were brilliant; especially the one given by T T Srinath of TTK Industries. He had an aura about him and his talk was very inspiring! Others were equally good, R Ramkumar of Gemini Communications had an infectious energy about him. The single minded belief in Free Software of Abhas of DeepRootLinux, Vardhan of Evolution and Rahul Sundaram of Fedora was visible. Even Prof. Krishnan and Hari (who organized it) appeared to be dedicated to the cause.

The devotion of the participants was questionable though, as expected. After all we were all there to learn about it! But having some hardcore lug'ers would have surely livened up the proceedings. I was personally more interested in the experiences of people who have been doing it for a living and their learnings. And I picked up some good tips and and made a lot of contacts.As per the first rule of business networking, I've invited them all to my LinkedIn network!

All in all a good experience. Looking forward to the next phase now.

Some general observations.
  • Travelling in Buses and Trains saves a lot of money. Have to adopt that method now in Bangalore.
  • 2 Tees and 2 Jeans are not enough for a five day trip to Chennai!
  • Nothing better than free fooding and lodging for an entreprenuer. Saved me at least 2000 bucks!
  • Entrepreneurship is a quite old thing in India. Not restricted only to Software.
  • Getting up at 8 is very tough!

Tags: NRCFOSS Startup AU-KBC Chennai India
posted by Rajiv, 6:34 AM | link | 0 comments |

Back In Time

Thursday, June 01, 2006

There are some colleges which exude an old world charm. Sprawling campus, lots of greenery, dilapidated buildings and nerds all around. My own college, the erstwhile R. E. C. Silchar was one of them. As soon as I stepped into the MIT Campus I was back to the surroundings that I had grown up in and missed ever since. It was like going back into time.

But along with that apprehension swelled. It was early in the morning, so not a soul was in sight. Is there really a camp happening here? Am I at the wrong place? Am I the only one in the camp? No boards, no signs, no welcoming committee. Locating the AU-KBC center was a hard work in inself. A world apart from the TiE networking events held in the Five Star hotels in Bangalore.

But in the end they all turned out to be misplaced. The first day turned out to be great. There are around 12 people in this camp. An ecelectic mix of professionals, students and activists. The only common thread between us is the belief in FOSS and entrepreneurship, which in turn is again is an interesting mix! All of us have different expectations and hopes from this camp. But there is also this feeling of being involved in something big. Startup camps are very rare in India, and this is the first one about FOSS.

The first day belonged to Abhas Abhinav, the founder of Deeproot Linux who has been into the Free Software Business (FSB) for around six years now. He drew upon his wealth of experience and gave us some valuable insights into the concepts and challenges involved in such a business. An FSF member himself, most of his focus was on the "Free" as in Freedom part of the business. All his sessoins were interactive with everybody pitching in with their own experiences.

Today we'll be having the session on evaluating the concepts each of us are working upon. I will present mine there. I am looking forward to it.

The best lesson learnt; the biggest value proposition of FSB is the freedom.

PS: I also noticed that the website of R. E. C. Silchar has been shifted to the Joomla CMS. Way to go Guys! Now I can brag about this in today's session. :)

Tags: Startup Entrepreneurship FOSS FSB AU Chennai India
posted by Rajiv, 7:08 PM | link | 2 comments |