24/01/2007

Low power GSM goes live

Mapesbury Communications also known as MCOM today made their first GSM call. Last year they won a GSM Guard Band license (1 of 12 licensees).

The set-up used a pico-cell BTS (basestations) connected to a soft-BSC (basestation controller) which in turn was connected to a soft-MSC (mobile system controller) and then used SIP to their VOIP servers which connected to the telephony network.

It all seemed to work rather well.

The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) do not seem to be keen to allow them to interconnect with them, one even refusing to switch their Ofcom allocated number ranges as they're "not a real mobile network". Ofcom may not be too happy about it. In the meantime though they can offer private GSM services, just without roaming to the existing MNOs.

It seems plans will be to allow "free" calls to other MCOM users and any SIP users. Since connection to the PSTN isn't free, any PSTN calls will be charged for. This will also be true for calls to MCOM mobiles.

MCOM may set-up GSM "bubbles" or clouds, like current WiFi zones.

Low power GSM licensees could change the way people think about mobile pricing which is probably why the current MNO's are worried.

Symbian OS - the mobile operating system

Symbian OS - the mobile operating system

Symbian have announced P.I.P.S (P.I.P.S. is POSIX on Symbian) which is a set of POSIX libraries for the Symbian OS. It should be available with v9.1.

The POSIX standard is a set of APIs and library that came out of UNIX and though Symbian haven't ported everything, they say it's enough to port standard desktop applications.

This could boost the number of applications available as Linux is POSIX compliant so developers should be able to port some of the millions of programs available in a relatively easy manner.

Welcome to CSR plc

Welcome to CSR plc

Cambridge Silicon Radio have acuqired NordNav Technologies AB and the assets of Cambridge Positioning Systems Ltd. This will allow them to add GPS hardware and/or software to their Bluecore range of Bluetooth chips. They say it will mean an increase in cost of less than $1 for the chips.

Since NordNav have a software GPS system, the software can be incorporated into the Bluecore code allowing for cheaper designs, while the CPS technology will allow increased GPS accuracy in built-up areas etc, but requires hardware.

CSR make half of all Bluetooth units for phones and this should allow more phones (which is trend anyway) to offer GPS capabilities.

Telecommunications Market Data Tables Q2 2006 | Ofcom

Telecommunications Market Data Tables Q2 2006 | Ofcom

BT are losing out heavily to the competition in many areas. In terms of access they used to control 80.6% in 2004 of the market but in Q2 '06 that fell to 73.7%.

BT's percentage of exchange lines also fell from 78.4% to 72.3%, call volumes (by minutes) from 65.9% to 54.1%.

In purely the residential market drops were even higher with falls in access from 78.8% to 72.0% and calls dropping from 66.7% to 57.8%. Exchange line connections went from 80.3% to 73.5% and call volumes dropped from 74.0% 60.2%.

In the business markets BT did rather better with access dropping from 83.3% to 76.4% while calls volumes actually went up from 49.0% to 49.7%.

In terms on broadband connections BT's only lost .1% (from 23.6% to 23.5%), though LLU made a huge change (from 36,000 unbundled lines to 847,000) cable went up by 1m but BT's numbers went up from 6m to 12.2m connections.

So it seems in the business markets BT is holding on to it's customers, but losing out in the residential sector.

In terms of mobile customers it's O2 (16,814), then T-Mobile (16,730), Orange (14,951) and Vodafone (13,873). In terms of revenue per customer it's Vodafone (64.7), O2 (54.0), Orange (48.9) and T-Mobile (39.9).

Volumes of SMS and MMS are grouped together (the networks don't want MMS figures published seperately as they're so poor) and O2 are way ahead of the pack on this - though that's probably as they do a lot of fixed to mobile SMS services to the other networks (what was O2 Online or Genie). Volumes/Revenues were Vodafone (2,033/£144m), O2 (4,378/£240m), T-Mobile (1,293/£94m) and Orange (2,040/£110m).

Figures for 3 aren't in the report.

23/01/2007

BT kill broadband, then phone

Last week my ADSL died for no apparent reason. I use a non-BT ISP so had to go through them to get it fixed.

Eventually BT agreed to investigate and an engineer was booked for Saturday. At 11.20 I got a call that they were on the way to the premises and would be there in 20 minutes. By the time I got back they'd left a message to say the problem was fixed. Unfortunately it wasn't and now as well as the ADSL not working, they'd killed the phone line too.

Of course I couldn't report the ADSL to BT as I had to go through my ISP, so I did and the line now clearly showed a fault.

However as the voice line was also dead I could use BT's automated system and it did indeed notice an exchange fault.

I went out and returned about 4pm and there was an engineer checking the junction box. He was just about to go (not his fault). He then fitted a tone generator to the master socket and went off to trace the line. On his return hw said "the last engineer cut the lines in the street cabinet", how that meant they've fixed the line I've no idea.

Anyway the 2nd engineer put it all back and everything sprung back to life.

Being without ADSL for a week was painfull.

22/01/2007

Apple users to pay $1.99 for 802.11n

Digit Online

Apple has stated it will charge users $1.99 to enable the 802.11n WiFi in Intel based Macs. Users have already discovered that new Macs had 802.11n chipsets, but they were being used in g mode.

With the release of Apple's new 802.11n basestation (or Access Point) Macs can take advantage of higher speeds etc but the software needs to be installed to enable it. Apple say they need to make the charge in-line with accounting regulations.

New Macs will have 802.11n enabled by default.