2008 was full of events, news, thoughts and new insights and part part 2 of "Things that 'Moved' Me" captures the blog posts which left a remaining impression on my in the second half of this year.
I've been in Paris a lot this year on a client location which is in a new office quarter. While there is good coverage outside, I often found it lacking inside and I was wondering when the three mobile operators would finally upgrade their networks to give good coverage also inside the buildings. In the meantime, at least some of them seem to have moved and coverage has markedly improved. Also, the month brought some more LTE voice gap thoughts and musings on why the small screen suddenly becomes big in places such as the metro. Earlier in the year, Nokia has released a sub 100 euro phone with a great screen and OperaMini pre-installed and in this post, I was looking at what is still missing for mobile Internet access for the mainstream. And finally, I noticed that Orange must have probably upgraded or changed the configuration of their EDGE and 3G networks in France, as my N95 suddenly stopped rebooting frequently when connected to the Internet.
While in Europe, 3G is uniformly used in the 2.1 GHz band, different parts of the world use different frequency ranges. The U.S. is especially difficult for 3G since there are at least 3 frequency bands actively used for 3G now. This post reveals that base band chips supporting several 3G bands are now available and appearing in phones coming to the market, such as the Nokia N79 and N85. Being 'really always-on' is when you have a PDP context (i.e. an IP address) on your mobile phone for over 4 days without the network dropping it for one reason or the other. The IMS continues to evolve in 3GPP and this post on IMS Centralized Services gives an introduction on how vendors want to unify the circuit switched and the packet switched world under the hood of IMS. Also in August, I've given up my mantra of 'one SIM card is enough for everything' and have since moved to a 2 SIM strategy. While LTE does little to distinguish itself in HSPA+ in terms of raw speed given the same carrier bandwidth, efficiency of assigning air interface resources could give LTE an edge in the future as described here. GSM has been with us for many years now and some are wondering when its days will be over. Not for a while, I think, and this post gives an overview of possible phaseout architectures.
In September, I was in Berlin a couple of days and used the opportunity to visit the Fraunhofer FOKUS research center to get some great insight into current IMS developments. Wideband Speech codecs have been defined for a couple of years now but haven't yet made it into wireless networks. With VoIP, however, things might change as discussed in this post on VoIP Wideband Codecs. Most people are just using Wi-Fi to transmit data. Trapeze and other companies, however, have developed many more interesting applications as described in 'Giving Wi-Fi and Edge'. For mobile e-mail use, GSM and EDGE are still the better alternative to 3G and this post gives an overview of the FACH power consumption problem. Speaking of GSM, MUROS aims at squeezing 4 voice calls in a single timeslot.
While heavily used in 3G networks, ATM has reached it's peak and is clearly on the decline. Also in October I did some research in Unified Communications and reviewed this excellent book on the topic. 3G network stability has considerably improved and this post on an 8h voice, data and desktop sharing session is testament to what's possible if a network operator takes his work seriously. Some phones I had over the past year had to retire in October due to old age and were replaced by a Nokia 5000, a sub 100 euro phone with an excellent screen and OperaMini pre-installed. This review shows of what works and what doesn't with this entry level device. With the amount of Internet traffic rising sharply these days, 3GPP one-tunnel technology is one way of saving money and this post reports of first networks having started to use it. Mobile networks are now also capable of supporting CS voice calls alongside HSPA simultaneously. Wi-Fi has spread like crazy in the past year and I can now see 25 networks in my appartment in Paris. And finally for this month, if you are looking for recent statistics on mobile Internet use, have a look at this post on Sweden.
With LTE on the horizon, some operators will have to run GSM, UMTS and LTE alongside each other in some areas. Multi Standard Radio base stations might be the answer to keep costs and management overhead down. Could we possibly see virtual GSM in the future with this technology? Another issue that has to be solved for LTE to become a success is how to support the many different frequency bands in a single chipset. Revelation of the month: 3G dongle docks.
The 3GSM Mobile World Congress 2009 is only in February next year but it doesn't hurt to start preparing early. I've re-opened the 3GSM Event Wiki for next year for people to find out and leave information about 3GSM parties, jobs and accommodation in Barcelona next February. Also noteworthy in December is this Ericsson article on next generation mobile backhaul architectures. Femto cells have been a hot topic in 2008, and here's a post what's going on in 3GPP. LTE is not LTE, especially in China, where TDD LTE is likely to be deployed which is not the same as FDD LTE deployed in the rest of the world. And finally, Nokia World opened its ports for two days and apart from interesting presentations, the Nokia N97 announced there will surely be the device to crave for in 2009.
There were lots and lots of other posts in 2009 and it was quite difficult for me to select and narrow them down to only two posts. Quite a proof that the industry has definitely not moved slowly this year. 2009 will be another interesting year to come and I am looking forward to it.
As it's the 24th of December today I'd like to wish you all a merry Christmas and I hope to meet up with some of you next year during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona or some other event I will attend.