Friday, September 30, 2011
The Limo Foundation and the Linux Foundation announced a new open source project, Tizen, to develop a Linux-based device software platform. Hosted at the Linux Foundation, Tizen is a standards-based, cross-architecture software platform which supports multiple device categories including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks and in-vehicle infotainment systems. The initial release of Tizen is targeted for Q1 2012, enabling first devices to come to market in mid-2012.
Tizen combines the best open source technologies from Limo and the Linux Foundation and adds a robust and flexible standards-based HTML5 and WAC web development environment within which device-independent applications can be produced efficiently for unconstrained cross-platform deployment. This approach leverages the robustness and flexibility of HTML5 which is rapidly emerging as a preferred application environment for mobile applications and the broad carrier support of the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC). Tizen additionally carries a reference user interface enabling the creation of highly attractive and innovative user experience that can be further customised by operators and manufacturers.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Samsung Electronics has hit Apple with four patent cases in district court in The Hague, Netherlands, demanding a sales ban and a retail recall of all Apple products that use 3G technology. All these devices infringe four of Samsung’s essential 3G patents, the Korea-based tech giant claims in the complaints, which Webwereld, a Dutch IDG publication, has viewed.
Samsung is seeking a ban in The Netherlands on importing, trading and sales by Apple and five Apple subsidiaries. Additionally, Samsung wants Apple to recall all infringing devices in stock from its “professional customers,” including electronics stores like Media Markt, where Apple has set up a shop-in-a-shop business. Samsung has filed separate cases for each of the four patents it is invoking against Apple in The Hague.
The patents are related to methods of managing the data connection and speed between a mobile station, such as a smartphone or tablet, and a network base station. Samsung is also invoking similar patents in other cases against Apple in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Japan and South Korea. The patents in question are so called standards-essential, which means they are incorporated in internationally accepted technology standards—in this case, 3G and UMTS standards as ratified by organizations such as ETSI.
For Samsung this actually can turn out to be a liability, because however solid or crucial these patents might be, Samsung cannot deny Apple a license. This is because holders of standards-essential patents come have an obligation to provide all third parties with a licence under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms, the so-called RAND or FRAND terms. Apple’s lawyers have requested an additional hearing to address these FRAND licensing issues before considering any other legal or technical issues. The district court judge has granted this request, meaning the hearing next Monday will only focus on these FRAND issues, a clerk of the court confirmed to Webwereld. Patent consultant and activist Florian Mueller applauded this decision. “I think the court in The Hague does the right thing by evaluating those FRAND issues first,” Mueller said. “This can simplify the whole case because it may reduce it to the question of whether Apple owes Samsung any money, and if so, how much, without any need to talk about an injunction.” Mueller is critical of Apple’s worldwide patent offensive, but he is even more critical of Samsung’s reply, which according to him amounts to “scattershot litigation around the globe with light and questionable artillery,” hoping to create a degree of legal uncertainty that might force Apple into a settlement favorable to Samsung.
“Should it turn out that Apple entered the market without taking licenses to essential patents, then that’s indefensible and Apple should pay,” Mueller said. “However, it doesn’t justify an abuse of standards-essential patents. Asking for an injunction is an abuse unless the request for the injunction is limited to the scenario in which the defendant doesn’t accept to pay FRAND royalties.” Apple and Samsung and their respective counsels declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
The EU has commissioned an investigation into how European ISPs handle traffic and manage their networks, in a move that could lead to new legislation on net neutrality. The investigation, to be conducted by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC), will cover both mobile and fixed Internet providers, with particularly close attention paid to any barriers consumers may face when changing operators. BEREC will also consult with consumers and corporations to determine whether or not ISPs are being completely transparent about their traffic management practices, or advertised connection speeds. In a speech delivered yesterday, Neelie Kroes, the European Commission's Vice President for the Digital Agenda, admitted that some ISPs need to restrict some bandwidth-heavy services in order to protect their networks, but promised to publicly name and take action against any operators found to be stifling competition or consumer choice:
"Mark my words: if measures to enhance competition are not enough to bring Internet providers to offer real consumer choice, I am ready to prohibit the blocking of lawful services or applications. It's not OK for Skype and other such services to be throttled. That is anti-competitive. It's not OK to rip off consumers on connection speeds."
It's unlikely, however, that the EU will implement legislation as pointed as the net neutrality rules the FCC unveiled in the US, nor as expansive as the law that Chile introduced last summer. In a report issued yesterday, the EU affirmed that "operators should be allowed to determine their own business models and commercial arrangements" -- words that no doubt delighted many in Europe's ISP community. The results of BEREC's investigation are due to be published by the end of the year.
Source; Engadget.com with sub sources: EU(1), EU(2), EU [PDF]
Smartphones and tablets, the two hottest categories of consumer devices right now, are dominated by ARM processor designs, so when the company speaks up about its product roadmap, we're inclined to listen in close. The next generation of ARM system-on-chip has been dubbed Cortex-A15 and was expected to ship in 2013, but that's now been accelerated slightly to late 2012, which is when we're told to expect actual devices on sale with A15 silicon on board. Single- and dual-core variants will get us started, before quad-core options start filtering through in 2013. ARM promises a stunning fivefold improvement in performance over current Cortex-A9 SOCs and already has NVIDIA, Samsung, ST-Ericsson, and Texas Instruments signed up as licensees for that new hotness. So now even Samsung's "desktop-class" 2GHz dual-core chip that's slated for 2012 has a reason to look over its shoulder.
The launch of the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf have helped spread the gospel of electric cars, but consumers won’t convert without knowing there’s an abundance of charging stations. The federal government, which is arguably the biggest booster of electric cars, announced two initiatives on Tuesday intended to kick-start the EV ecosystem: a Google Maps-led effort to provide consumers with location data for charging stations nationwide, and an award of $5 million for cities that come up with plans to popularize electric cars.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is working with Google and others to create a national clearinghouse of sorts for charging station data and services to serve consumers, said the U.S. Department of Energy. The effort, which uses the decidedly un-consumer friendly term of “electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE)” to describe charging stations, uses Google Maps as the “primary data source for GPS and mapping services” to track charging station locations.
The DOE would like makers of cars and navigation systems to use this service to contribute to and use the database as well. Some charging station network owners, such as Coulomb Technologies, also provide an online map of their stations for consumers. And startups like Xatori are looking to build a business around sharing charging data and a mobile app.
The database isn’t new and already contains data for thousands of public stations for alternative fuels such as biodiesel and hydrogen. But it provides not only a list of fueling stations nearby, but also a way to map the route to get to those stations.
The DOE also announced a plan to award $5 million to cities that come up with good plans to make it easy to deploy charging stations, from changing their permitting processes to offering incentives. The DOE is touting this new pot of money as part of a long-standingClean Cities program to corral local governments to support cleantech deployment, including greener transportation fuels. The program, which also involves private industry, has saved nearly 3 billion gallons of gasoline, the DOE said.
“The federal government can’t do this alone, and it’s nice for the local governments to have a partner” in promoting electric vehicles, said Christopher Coleman, mayor of St. Paul, Minn., during a conference call.
The federal government has poured in billions of dollars in the past two years to try to transform the auto market and nudge consumers toward choosing more fuel-efficient cars. The money has gone to makers of cars, batteries and other equipment to build electric cars, as well as to developers and owners of charging stations. The DOE is funding established players such as General Motors and LG Chem and newcomers such as Tesla Motors and A123 Systems.
During his State of the Union address in January this year, President Obama said he wants to see 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. The DOE then issued a report outlining how a mix of incentives and tighter fuel economy standards will make this goal a reality. For electric cars to go mainstream will take a few decades, though. Analysts are expecting electric cars to make up about 2 percent — or a little more – of the world’s car market by 2020.
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Processing mobile payments via an external dongle? That's so early 2011. Charge Anywhere has a less troublesome idea, and if you're the lucky owner of a Google Nexus S, you could soon be accepting cold, hard virtual cash via NFC. For those already familiar with the space, you'll know that this very company already has applications out for the iPhone, BlackBerry and Android devices, but all of those obviously require a credit card swiping mechanism to be connected. According to CNET, the latest version will include support for the NFC module embedded within the Nexus S, enabling it to be a full-on mobile payment terminal with no additional hardware required. Both MasterCard PayPass and Visa Blink payments could be ingested, but don't go searching for the update in the Android Market; the company's done with the new build, but it won't be let loose to the public until it's ran past larger customers first. We don't get the impression that the NFC-compatible version will run any more than the $9.99 per month, but it's obviously a wait-and-see affair for now.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
UK regulator Ofcom announced plans to auction-off spectrum suitable for LTE early next year. It said that the 250MHz of new spectrum on offer – in the 800MHz (digital dividend) and 2.6GHz frequency bands – is equivalent to three quarters of the mobile spectrum in use in the UK today, and 80 percent more than the UK 3G auctions that took place in 2000. “The combination of low and high frequency spectrum available... creates the potential for next generation mobile broadband services to be widely available across the UK, while at the same time having the capacity to cope with significant demand, even in urban centres,” the regulator said in a statement. However, Ofcom faces problems due to the uneven way spectrum has been allocated in the past. For example, market-leader Everything Everywhere (formed by the merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile UK) holds no valuable spectrum under 1GHz, while rivals O2 and Vodafone are currently re-farming existing 900MHz for mobile broadband use. The UK’s 3G auctions a decade ago raised a colossal £22.5 billion for the government but the 4G frequencies are expected to raise just a fraction of that.
Ofcom has put a number of safeguards in place to ensure that none of the UK’s four national operators use the auctions to gain an unfair competitive advantage. “The least restrictive way to ensure at least four national competitors is through the use of spectrum floors in the auction,” it said. “This involves disregarding any auction outcomes in which four companies do not win the minimum amount of spectrum necessary to provide higher quality data services. This can involve different combinations of spectrum, each of which could be sufficient to ensure a credible competitor.” These conditions are also seen as a way of ensuring the survival of 3 UK, the country’s smallest operator, which would otherwise struggle to compete with its much larger rivals in the auction process.
Source: GSMA Mobile business Briefing
Sunday, March 06, 2011
Beeline, Megafon, MTS and Rostelekom have just signed a deal with Yota to build out a nationwide LTE network that'll work across the board. Rather than forcing each operator to do their own thing, the four in question will now have the option to buy 25 percent stakes in Yota; according to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, this unified effort will enable Russia's economy to reap the benefits of a widespread 4G network while other nations (ahem, America) fight to see whether it'll be WiMAX or LTE taking the lead. If you'll recall, Yota was actually one of the first carriers on the planet to serve up commercial 4G, but last year it decided to make the switch from WiMAX to the suddenly popular LTE. The goal here is to have LTE in 180 cities with a total population of more than 70 million citizens by 2014.
Monday, February 07, 2011
IDG News Service — NTT DoCoMo will begin testing a new data communications technology in the next few months that promises speeds many times faster than the LTE service recently launched by it and carriers such as Verizon.
The new technology, called LTE Advanced, has already achieved downlink speeds of around 1Gbps and uplinks of around 200Mbps in lab tests. The next step is to take it outdoors and test it in the real world.
A license allowing installation of equipment for the tests was recently received by NTT DoCoMo from Japan's government, the carrier said Monday.
It enables the carrier to build a test network near Tokyo, in the cities of Yokosuka and Sagamihara in Kanagawa prefecture. Once the test equipment is installed and checked by the telecoms regulator, NTT DoCoMo will be issued a full license allowing trials to begin.
NTT DoCoMo expects to receive the full license sometime in March, said Makiko Furuta, a spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based company.
Tests of the new network begin hot-on-the-heels of the launch of NTT DoCoMo's LTE network. The network was launched in December and promises download speeds of up to 37.5Mbps and upload speeds up to 12.5Mbps.
It's initially available in parts of Tokyo and two other major cities. NTT DoCoMo plans to spend ¥100 billion (US$1.2 billion) this year to more than double coverage to around 20 percent of Japan's population.
Tests of initial service proved disappointing, with the network frequently failing to deliver speeds anywhere close to the theoretical maximums advertised by the carrier. At the end of January it had attracted 5,000 users, according to industry figures released Monday.
LTE Advanced builds on LTE's technical base and allows channels to be tied together to increase throughput. NTT DoCoMo has already submitted preliminary information about the format to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for consideration as a 4G mobile standard (the ITU considers 4G systems as capable of 1Gbps or faster).
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Regardless of whether the internal combustion engine gets snuffed out this century, EV chargers aren't going to replace gas pumps at the rate they're presently rolling out, so it's quite likely new Leaf and Prius PHEV owners will need to charge at home. How might that affect one's electricity bill? It'll probably go up, but a Virginia utility says that a full tank of juice might not cost all that much. Dominion Virginia Power is volunteering to cut its rates by more than half for off-peak charging as part of a proposed pilot program, whereby 750 lucky EV owners will get enough electricity for a 40-mile commute for just 35 cents so long as they charge overnight. The utility's not talking kilowatt-hours here, but it says it typically gets $0.86 for the same amount. The deal requires the installation of a specially-approved charging station, but Virginia's looking at a second scheme too -- if those 750 agree to pay a flexible off-peak rate of between $0.33 and $0.41 per 40-mile dose, they can power the rest of their house using the budget volts as well.
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Good, because it's the season and amid all these lovely financial reports we've been hitting there are some broader trends to look at. IDC has released its mobile phone report for 2010 and has concluded that, worldwide, the industry grew 18.5 percent over 2009, shipping a massive 1.39 billion units. That's nice and all, but check out this bit about ZTE. The manufacturer boosted its annual shipments by 94 percent, stealing Apple's recently-won fourth place position globally and, in doing so, knocking RIM straight into the dreaded "others" category. Can RIM make it back? Will Apple recover? Will Siobhan and Lucky ever reconcile their differences? Tune in next quarter to find out.
Note: Where is HTC in this ranking? I did some research and found in their company figures that they have shipped 24.6 units in 2010.
During the first decade of the 21st century, new information and communication technologies (ICTs) came within reach of most of the world’s people for the first time in human history – a success story facilitated by the introduction of competition and the creation of independent regulators across the globe.
- By 2010, competition was available in over 90% of countries in mobile and Internet services.
- There are now 157 independent regulatory authorities worldwide – up from 106 at the beginning of the decade.
- The number of mobile cellular subscriptions worldwide grew from under 1 billion to over 5 billion over the course of the decade.
- The number of Internet users worldwide grew from under 400 million to over two billion from 2000 to 2010.
- The following services have seen the strongest growth in competition over the past 10 years:
- International gateways – competition now available in 78% of countries, up from just 38% in the year 2000;
- Basic voice services – competition now available in two-thirds of countries worldwide, up from under 40% in the year 2000;
- Leased lines – competition now available in three-quarters of the world’s countries, up from under 50% in the year 2000;
- Wireless local loop – competition now available in 82% of countries worldwide, up from 62% in the year 2000.
The privatization (mostly) of incumbent operators
- Twenty years ago, in 1991, just 37 countries’ main fixed-line operators were privatized. Today, 126 countries’ incumbent operators are partly or fully in the hands of private sector owners.
- Substantial differences remain between regions: 86% of European incumbents have been fully- or partially-privatized; in the CIS the figure is just 50%.
- With many markets already privatized, privatization activity has slowed down over the past few years, especially in the aftermath of the economic downturn, with fewer interested investors and lower investment funds available.
Broadband becomes a national policy priority
- By 2010, some 82 countries around the world – from Afghanistan to the United States, Australia to Malawi, and Chile to Slovenia – had adopted or planned to adopt a national broadband strategy.
- National broadband policies and plans are clearly focusing on the benefits of building nationwide broadband infrastructure to provide public services online – including e-health, e-education and e-government.
- Over 40 countries1 now include broadband in their universal service / universal access definitions – and in some countries broadband access has become a legal right.
Data and analysis in this ITU Statshot are drawn from the ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Regulatory and Indicators databases.
Further ICT statistics are available online at ITU’s ICT Eye, at:
ITU also publishes a full range of current statistics and analyses. For further information see:
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Ignited by support from key wireless players Nokia Corp. and Google Inc., global usage of near field communication (NFC) technology in cell phones is expected to begin an explosive growth phase starting next year, paving the way for a boom in the mobile payments business, according to the market research firm iSuppli, now part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).
Worldwide shipments of cell phones with built-in NFC capability will rise to 220.1 million units in 2014, up by a factor of four from 52.6 million in 2010. In 2014, 13 percent of cell phones shipped will integrate NFC, up from 4.1 percent in 2010.
NFC is a short-range wireless connectivity technology based on magnetic field induction. It is intended primarily for intuitive, simple and secure communications between two electronic devices in close proximity to each other—a perfect fit for mobile payment applications.
“Imagine paying your bus fare, buying a plane ticket or making an ATM/credit card purchase simply by holding your cell phone near a wireless terminal,” said Jagdish Rebello, director and principal analyst for communications and consumer electronics with iSuppli. “This is the mobile payment revolution on the verge of being unleashed by NFC technology. With NFC technology expected to be integrated into Nokia’s cell phones and Google’s Android operating system, the first shots of this revolution will be fired next year.”
Leading cell phone brand Nokia said it will support NFC in all new smart phone models introduced in 2011.
Google has announced support for NFC in Android 2.3, set for release this week.
Furthermore, after two years of discussions, the three largest U.S. mobile phone carriers—AT&T Wireless, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile—have launched a joint venture known as ISIS that will develop a mobile payment system based on NFC. While ISIS is initially working with Barclaycard U.S. and Discover Financial Services, the carriers said they are open to collaborating with any bank or credit card company that would like to use the platform.
ISIS within the next 18 months hopes to have NFC-enabled cell phones sold by the three carriers and an NFC ecosystem in place in some regions of the United States, with a full nationwide rollout slated to be accomplished by 2013.
“iSuppli believes that 2012 will be the make-or-break year for NFC,” Rebello said. “With all the ongoing and planned NFC trials in different regions of the world—as well as support for the technology by major stakeholders, including wireless operators, financial institutions and banks—it is imperative that business models be established that allow each of the nodes to see value in offering the service.
Beyond mobile payments in cell phones, NFC enables a range of other functions.
NFC chips are compatible with contactless smart cards. Devices that are NFC enabled can be used as access devices for secure facilities, such as office buildings and gated apartments. They also can work as information retrieval devices—allowing applications including the exchange of electronic business cards and the downloading of information from NFC-enabled posters. Furthermore, NFC can perform authentication features, initiating setup for other forms of wireless communication, such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
HTC CEO Peter Chou has confirmed that the fast-growing Taiwanese smartphone vendor is to launch its first LTE handset next year, and expects the US to be the key market for its new devices in 2011. "We think that the US mobile operators will be taking the lead and pushing 4G LTE in the US market... We are working on LTE devices for next year," Chou said in a video interview with Mobile World Live.
His comments suggest that HTC is aiming to become a major smartphone supplier to the new LTE operators in the US. Regional US operator MetroPCS switched on LTE in September and is currently live in six metropolitan US areas, while market-leader Verizon Wireless launched this month in 38 markets and claims to be the world’s largest commercial LTE operator. Rival AT&T plans to begin LTE rollout next year. However, only MetroPCS currently offers an LTE handset on its new network (the Samsung Craft, which is a ‘feature phone’ rather than a smartphone), while Verizon expects to offer LTE smartphones by the middle of next year.
HTC’s new LTE smartphones are likely to be based on Google’s Android and Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 (WP7) operating systems. Chou said that the firm was focusing its efforts on these two platforms as part of a “portfolio strategy” aimed at offering consumers the broadest possible choice. “[Customers] may want Windows or Android; or they may want big screen or small screen, they may want keyboard or tablet; HTC will let the consumer decide,” he said.
Chou also talked up HTC’s commitment to cloud computing, pointing to the recent launch of HTCSense.com, which allows users of HTC's Android-based devices to manage smartphone data such as messaging on a regular website. “HTCSense is a very important step for the HTC brand,” he said. ”We see HTCSense as an extension from the device to the cloud, [allowing users] to manage their portfolio, their data and their user experience from the cloud.”