Lots of things happened in 2008. I usually have the impression that the industry is moving too slowly for me. However, as the following overview shows, this impression is not really accurate, one just forgets all the things that happened over the year too quickly.
Intel has decided to make a comeback to mobile computing and has started a fight with its new Atom platform against ARM, who's processors drive the majority of medium- and high end mobile devices today. Not much has been heard or seen from them since then, except for a few bulky prototypes and some eeePCs driven by first versions of this chipset. However, I expect more to come in 2009. In January I also mused on the fact that LTE and SAE have no built in voice capabilities and that finding a solution that works will be on of the main factors deciding over how long it will take for LTE to become a success and 2G and 3G becoming a thing of the past. I've picked up the topic several times since then as at least 4 solutions have been proposed since then, all with their pros and cons. Unfortunately, that is 3 too many.
The 3GSM / MobileWorldCongress usually dominates this month, and it was the same again this year. Here, I saw the first LTE mobile from LG and got a great WiMAX demo thanks to Intel and Motorola. In the time up to the MWC, I also discovered the advantages of OperaMini and I have become a real fan since then. Again, I did lots of live blogging from the MWC and my equipment this year was an N93 for taking pictures and writing short blog posts and Jaiku messages, and a Nokia N800 tablet for longer posts that including pictures.
In March, I finally succumbed to the callings of the Nokia N95 8GB. With its much increased RAM over the N93, I could finally have more than just one or two applications open at the same time, something that became more and more difficult with the N93 as programs got bigger. There's lots to say about the N95 and in addition to the built in A-GPS and Nokia Maps, the native VoIP over Wifi and 3G client has had my attention more than just once. Further, I noticed that the packet call finally becomes history with LTE and that the 10 year cycle in wireless completes once more with LTE. Also in March, T-Mobile Germany announced as one of the first operators that they will use VDSL and their fiber network for 3.5G base station backhaul. Opera Mini statistics saying 100.000 copies are downloaded a day should also not be forgotten. And finally for March, I bought an eeePC and it has been a great help since then for lots of things, including Wi-Fi sniffing.
LTE is not yet deployed and yet, 3GPP had to push forward to meet likely IMT-Advanced criteria for 4G systems and has announced that work has begun on LTE Advanced. In Oxford, in the meantime, I attended the Oxford University Future Technology Conference for the first time, something I hope to repeat in 2009. On the way there, I picked up a prepaid SIM card from 3UK for mobile Internet access and it has worked great during this trip. Unfortunately, their network performance has become very bad lately. Fortunately, on the other hand, this is no industry trend and better performing prepaid offers have become available lately. In another post in April, I noticed that in terms of network features of mobile devices are getting far ahead of the networks. A lot of things standardized in 3GPP make it into mobile devices but are actually never used. Also in April, I got a German fixed line telephone number in my flat in Paris, thanks to SIP and VoIP. Despite LTE, HSPA is still evolving as well, and this post contains some pointers to papers explaining the main features of HSPA+.
This month, I met with some people from Dragonwave, a Canadian company specializing in Ethernet microwave backhaul for wireless networks. Speeds up to 1.6 GBit/s sound like a dream compared to current TDM microwave backhaul speeds and will come in very handy to transport the rising Internet traffic of wireless networks. Did your phone ever ring before/during a concert? Well, surely not 🙂 Here's a good response from musicians. Also this month, AT&T started to offer Internet access on their prepaid SIMs, an offer that came in quite handy just a couple of weeks later when I visited the US and was able to escape crippling slow hotel Wi-Fi. A realization that struck me in May was that with SIP on mobile devices for voice telephony, radio silence while not in a conversation is a thing of the past.
In June, Symbian has decided to make a radical break from its traditional ways and go open source. In the US for a conference, the AT&T SIM card was a great help to staying connected and not having to search for Wi-Fi hotspots as in the year before. Also, this year the US left some Blackberry impressions on me. This nation has gone Blackberry 🙂 Antennas are becoming more and more important and a sales engineer of Kathrein explained the tricks how to get that extra dB or MBit/s out of the radio path.
Lots and lots of new things in 2008, definitely not slow moving and we are only in June. I'll stop at this point and put the rest of the year in a follow up post.