a week in wireless

Do you see what I see?

Google Glass has been in the news this week. A cinema goer in the US was dragged out of a screening of Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (which sounds like a blessed relief to the Informer) after theatre managers called the five-O in fear that he was using his Google Glass to record the film. It became clear, after the police had been through the contents of his glasses, that he wasn’t recording it and, in an amusing twist, he was given some cinema vouchers by way of apology.

The Informer started to wonder: what are we buying when we go and watch a film? It’s ok to remember it, isn’t it? You can shut your eyes and recall your favourite scenes; it is your right to do so. Imagine if you suffered from a brain condition that affected your short term memory such that you couldn’t recall the film 24 hours after watching it. Would that entitle you, on medical grounds, to record the film so you could remind yourself of what you’d paid for?

The logical extension of this is that eventually we’ll all have to submit to some kind of brain wipe that gives us a week’s worth of memory of a film before it’s expunged forever on the grounds that we only bought the right to consume the film in the moment and not to rerun it mentally in perpetuity. The film industry is probably working on this right now.

On the upside, imagine being able to completely forget having seen You’ve Got Mail. That alone would be worth the intrusion.

The other Google Glass news was that someone’s working on an app for the system that allows people to see what their partner sees during sex. Presumably this will lead to many spluttered outbursts along the lines of: “Who the hell is THAT?!”

The Informer can’t imagine the outcome of this experience being anything other than instantaneous and quite possibly permanent detumescence. You’d have to be the world’s freakiest narcissist to enjoy it. No doubt it will prove incredibly popular.

Let’s kill that vibe with some proper industry news and a flick through the week’s LTE announcements. Pioneering operator SK Telecom has been at it again, announcing the development of tri-band carrier aggregation, combining one 20MHz and two 10MHz blocks of spectrum across the 800MHz and 1800MHz bands to deliver speeds of up to 300Mbps. The operator said it expects chipsets and devices to support the technology to be commercially available at the end of this year and will be showing a version of the technology using three 20MHz blocks of spectrum to drive speeds of 450Mbps at this year’s MWC.

Meanwhile LTE has arrived in the African nation of Zambia, with networks switched on by MTN Zambia and Zamtel. MTN launched the service in Lusaka, Kitwe, Ndola and Livingstone. Phase two of the rollout, which is already underway, will increase LTE coverage within these towns and expand to new territories. LTE routers and SIMs are available now while modems and handsets will be available soon, the company said.

The company’s chief marketing officer, Clement Asante, was full of excitement: “The days of waiting for hours on end for music, pictures or videos to load online are long gone with MTN’s LTE service.”

The Informer couldn’t help but smile at that, having upgraded to LTE at the end of last year and with a discernible improvement in performance yet to materialise. Effectively he’s paying £10/month more than before for the occasional appearance of a small ‘4G’ at the top of his screen. Frustrated with this situation he fired up his speed test app this morning to find that EE was giving him a feeble 10.48Mbps on the downlink and 4.22Mbps on the up.

His colleagues on O2 3G were rolling around in the dirt, scrapping over half a meg on the download, although the O2 LTE service, presumably untroubled by overload, was offering 20Mbps+. Over on 3UK, meanwhile, we were seeing 3.6Mbps download, which is perhaps why the company has been told to stop advertising its HSPA network as 3.9G by the Advertising Standards Agency, following a complaint from EE.

Yes, EE! It’s nice to see someone standing up for totally honest throughput-related marketing in the mobile operator community! And the Informer looks forward to the forthcoming advert in which you trumpet your 10.48Mbps LTE service.

Of course, with a two-year contract, there’s no choice but to suck it up. Unless EE hikes its prices, that is. UK regulator Ofcom announced this week that, should an operator do this mid-contract, its customers will be free to leave without incurring cancellation charges.

The ruling follows a review into contract pricing terms which found that consumers were often unaware that their monthly subscription fees had been increased, believing—or having been allowed to believe—that they were on fixed price contracts.

In other LTE envelope pushing developments this week, Huawei said it has completed an interoperability test for an “ultra-flash” circuit-switched fallback solution that shortens voice call setup times by 50 per cent for users on LTE networks.

The test was undertaken at Huawei’s facility in Shanghai with Qualcomm and the Chinese firm claims it enables LTE users to set up voice calls in three seconds. According to Huawei, the solution is now ready for commercial deployment in networks.

The solution uses single radio voice call continuity (SRVCC) which moves users onto legacy voice networks when a voice call is initiated. Huawei claimed the solution reduces cost and complexity compared with standard CSFB solutions, which it claims typically require upgrades to the entire existing 2G and 3G networks.

Huawei’s senior manager for  corporate standards, Serge Manning, was this week appointed chairman of the Wireless and Mobile Working Group at The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a non-profit dedicated to opening up Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technology.

Now, it sometimes seems as if carrier services is the less glamorous part of an operator’s business. So the Informer was delighted to learn this week that Telecom Italia, in a bid to redress this balance, has a carrier services unit called TI Sparkle, which makes it sound like something from a Disney cartoon.  Hopefully they answer the phone saying: “Hello, TI Sparkle, where all your dreams come true”.

Sparkle announced a deal with KPN’s iBasis this week, which will see the two extend an existing LTE IPX partnership to enable LTE roaming for their customer bases. “Providing seamless LTE roaming to mobile service providers through our Diameter Signalling is very important for TI Sparkle as it fulfils our promise of developing solutions that provide and facilitate interoperability among operators,” said Elisabetta Ripa, TI Sparkle CEO.

Meanwhile Telefónica and Orange have thrown their considerable weight behind a project led by the European Commission to help the region’s technology startups to grow into global internet firms. The EC said it plans to “take on Silicon Valley” with the launch of two initiatives; an acceleration programme called the Startup Europe Partnership and a think tank called the European Digital Forum.

The operators are founding partners of the initiatives and are joined by European banking groups BBVA and European Investment Bank, Cambridge University, IE Business School and Humboldt University, as well as think tank the Lisbon Council, innovation charity Nesta and US-based entrepreneurial group the Mind the Bridge Foundation, which sounds like a foundation for people who, due to some rare and tragic defect, are forever clattering into bridges.

The Startup Europe Partnership aims to help startups to “break through their national glass ceiling” and grow globally, according to the EC. “Few startups have been able to scale up in Europe and reach a pan-European size,” the EC said in a statement. “The SEP will build bridges between Europe’s startup, corporate and investment communities to help EU startups raise funds and beat language barriers to reach maturity as global champions.”

That’s not an earth tremor people are feeling in Cali, it’s everyone in the Valley quaking in their boots.

Another EC bid to increase regional standing is, of course, the creation of the single European telecoms market. Neelie Kroes’ legacy reform looks likely to be delayed by a few months because of foot dragging among national governments, according to an EC spokesperson. Introduction was slated for July this year but the spokesperson told Telecoms.com that “it’s much more likely we’ll see it finalised in September and October.”

French operator Bougyues reformed its own roaming policies this week, introducing a plan that allows subscribers unlimited voice and text and 3GB of data within the EU, certain non-EU European countries and a handful of French overseas territories, for €29.99/month

Remember when Nokia had to sell its house like a bankrupt English aristocrat? Now Blackberry’s doing it too. The Canadian device vendor in fact plan to sell the majority of its domestic real estate. “We’re looking for a large company called Blackberry to take this building on,” said the real estate agent managing the deals. “Otherwise we’re going to have to take that bloody sign down”.

BlackBerry would not comment on the potential value of its property and said further information will be divulged as required in connection with any definitive sale transaction.

And that’s about it for this week. On Tuesday it was payday at Informer towers so today everyone’s going out for lunch. In a flawless exercise in stereotype reinforcement, the editorial team are going for a pie and a pint while the sales team are going to a place called BubbleDogs, that serves champagne and frankfurters.

Take care

The Informer

One comment

  1. Avatar Mauro Mazzoni 25/01/2014 @ 3:58 pm

    10mbps is very good I don’t see what the issue is? However, I have been with EE for the past 6months, I use my phone across the country and rarely see the downloads dip under 30mbps! (Av. 12mbps up). Regardless, I would say for 98% of the population (if not more) anything over 5mbps is more than adequate, even the rest of the UKs networks O2, 3 and Vodafone who compared to EE have poorer coverage, call fail rate and download speeds are still good enough for most people. I’m still struggling with 0.5mbps download on my home broadband!!!

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