4.9 GHz Band Growing

The 4.9 GHz Public Safety Radio band offers public safety agencies an opportunity to deploy advanced services unavailable in other bands, such as permanent “hot spot” devices in high-use areas or temporary incident command centers erected at an incident scene.

Research and Markets says there is sufficient mobile communication capacity for agencies charged with protecting the public welfare and wireless communications provides a vital component in the nation’s public safety and emergency medical infrastructure.

Their report goal was to assess 4.9 GHz technologies and markets developments in the U.S. This market exclusively serves one client – public safety communities, and it was created by the government to enhance broadband communications between various levels of first responders.

Today, 4.9 GHz public-safety wireless broadband networks finally moved away from experimental deployments and trials. Wireless video surveillance over the licensed 4.9 GHz public safety band is growing exponentially in the U.S., with significant deployments in Chicago, Dallas, Boston, Phoenix, and West Palm Beach, FL., among others.

The 4.9 GHz band offers public safety agencies an opportunity to deploy licensed wireless personal area networks, hot spot networks, mesh topologies and wireless vehicular area networks. Recent applications include:

The spectrum was allocated by the FCC in 2002. In the rules it issued for the 4.9-GHz band in April 2003, the FCC said it would require the use of an “emission mask” on devices in order to control interference and improve reliability and performance.

The mask, which determines the waveform of 4.9-GHz devices, is now directly incorporated into chip set designs at Atheros. Broadcom also announced a low-cost chip that operate in the 4.9 GHz band.

Uncertainty in technological directions slowed down commercialization of this spectrum, and only in the 2006 time frame a sizable amount of radios was shipped. Currently many major wireless radio vendors are involved in the design and production of 4.9 GHz equipment says Research and Markets.

Clear Channel Traffic Network on HD Radio

Clear Channel Radio’s Total Traffic Network (CCTTN) today announced that the ASUS R700 portable navigation device will use their real-time traffic info. Clear Channel’s digital HD Radio (wikipedia), is now being adopted by broadcasters. It can carry ancillary services — like traffic info — over terrestrial radio stations.

ASUS recently launched their R700, which features a built-in subscription for Clear Channel’s traffic data and does not need renewal. The portable navigation device uses Windows CE 5.0 with a Samsung 400 MHz processor. A 3-D navigation engine displays the map in driver’s viewing angles, and is a complete portable multimedia center with an array of applications that include Bluetooth hands-free functions.

Clear Channel Radio Executive Vice President Jeff Littlejohn said, “We recently passed the 500,000 subscriber mark, and it’s great to know that so many people value traffic data and rely on us to provide it.”

FM stations, using the iBiquity HD radio system have the option to subdivide their datastream into sub-channels (FM97-HD1, -HD2, -HD3) of varying audio quality. The multiple services are similar to the sub-channels found in ATSC-compliant Digital Television. The Traffic Message Channel is a data application for broadcasting real-time traffic information. Data messages are received and decoded by a TMC-based receiver in conjunction with HD Radio devices and navigation systems.

Radio broadcasters turn “public” airwaves into their own “pay radio” service by utilizing GPS subscriptions for maps. Their GPS partners generally sell subscriptions after the trial period for about $60/yr. Real-time traffic data can be supplied in-car by portable navigation systems, broadcast media, wireless and Internet-based services. Traffic data services broadcast from satellite radio costs more (but has less advertising).

Clear Channel’s Total Traffic Network uses its own network of reporters to create their service. It now serves more than 125 metropolitan markets in four countries, including the United States, Canada, Mexico and New Zealand.

XM NavTraffic, powered by NAVTEQ Traffic, is the 1st nationwide satellite-based data traffic information service. Aggregated by NAVTEQ Traffic, it is broadcast continuously from subscription-based XM satellite radio to on-board vehicle navigation systems.

Both satellite radio companies offer premium traffic services:

In March 2007, Sirius announced the upcoming availability of its first video service called “Backseat TV“. The service includes streaming video from three “family” television channels: Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network Mobile.

Three Sirius satellites broadcast directly to the consumer’s receiver, but due to the highly elliptical orbit only two of them broadcast at any given time. A third, separate signal is uplinked to the AMC-6 Ku-band satellite and received by 36-inch satellite dishes for the ground repeater network.

XM and Sirius say their merger will reduce duplication and save everyone money. They claim that competition from terrestrial HD Radio (via IBiquity), iPods, mobile television (via MediaFLO, ICO’s Mobile Media or Dish Network’s 700 MHz DVB-SH service), cell phones and Mobile WiMAX (featuring both unicasting and broadcasting) will effectively prevent monopoly pricing.

Google Maps for mobile, of course, has Transit directions for BlackBerry and Java-based handsets. Now Symbian S60 and Windows Mobile support Transit directions and is available to users around the world. Free.

Here’s ComScore’s data on mobile navigation and mapping market share in the US:

In other news, Dopplr lets you share your future travel plans privately with friends and colleagues. The service then highlights coincidence, for example, telling you that three people you know will be in Paris when you will be there too. You can use Dopplr on your personal computer and mobile phone. It links with online calendars and social networks.

License to Print Money

Google’s Sergey Brin estimated that “iPhone users do 30 times as many mobile web searches as users of other devices,” reports Search Engine Watch. Google anticipates search volume will increase as the iPhone and other sophisticated devices encourage mobile search.

As Search Engine Watch explains, “Mobile phones offer less space for mobile advertising. That’s offset by the fact that queries are localized. Through GPS, it’s easy to identify a person’s location. Advertisers in close proximity can serve time and location-sensitive offers for fine-tuned targeting”.

On Sunday July 13, Apple announced that 10,000,000 apps had been downloaded via the App Store. A little over a week later – on July 21st, 25 million apps have been downloaded.

So why is this important, asks Ryan Spoon? Do the math.

Raven Zachary, research director of the 451 Group and founder of iPhoneDevCamp, explains it all in a word — money.

With Apple’s Apps Store, people are getting rich overnight.

He ran some numbers and projected some initial revenue estimates this week at Mobile Portland. His presentation will be posted here shortly. The dollars made by developers in the last two weeks will take your breath away.

More HDTV Homenet Chips

Celeno Communications, a startup designing a variant of Wi-Fi chips geared for video, has closed a $16 million funding round led by Cisco Systems, reports EE Times.

Celeno is currently sampling a 5 GHz chip set for carrying video at distances up to 120 feet, according to the company. The new funding will help the company gear up sales and marketing for the current chip and design efforts on a second-generation.

Celeno competes with Amimon, another Israel-based chip startup with a similar goal. Amimon is shipping a 5 GHz chip that uses a novel encoding approach to deliver video throughout a home.

Celeno says its baseband uses beam-forming MIMO and “channel aware” approaches can deliver as much as 10 times the range and as much as twice the throughput of 802.11n chips, but has not described exactly how its approach works. Celeno’s core competency is based on spatial radio switching combined with adaptive channel coding, dynamic time-space scheduling, and multimedia QoS optimization.

Three wireless systems for connecting HDTVs are competing for the home, says EE Times. This “battle of technologies” is being fought between three contending systems, 5 GHz, 60 GHz, and ultra wideband (UWB), according to ABI Research. Most established wireless vendors are waiting to see how the market evolves, says the research firm.

  • WirelessHD uses 60-GHz transmission. The bandwidth available at 60 GHz allows data transmissions as fast as 4 Gbits/s. The format is backed by lead technology developer SiBeam, along with Intel, LG, Panasonic, NEC, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
  • Wireless High Definition Interface (WHDI), using 5 GHz. WHDI, developed by Israeli company Amimon, reportedly achieves a data rate as fast as 3 Gbits/s. WiFi 802.11n technology using MIMO can achieve up to 600 mbps, but cannot yield a 3-Gbit/s data rate. For that, Amimon tapped an existing signal-processing technology called joint-source channel coding.
  • WiMedia Alliance uses Ultrawideband (UWB) in a band of frequencies from 4.2 to 4.8 GHz or higher. Their Wireless USB standard claims a data rate of 480 Mbits/s and works by compressing and expanding HD video images.

There is no consensus among consumer manufacturers on a single standard or unified wireless HD format. But wireless connections are expected to simplify A/V installations and allow more flexibility in positioning TVs.

Voice Over Comcast: Big

Comcast, which serves a total of 24.2 million cable customers, 14.7 million digital cable customers, and 12.9 million high-speed internet customers, is the largest cable television company in the United States and the second largest Internet service provider.

Comcast is now the fourth largest phone company with 5.6 million customers. Cable carriers own nearly 85% of the residential VoIP market. Comcast says roughly two-thirds of their new broadband customers switched from DSL, and about one-fifth of their customers are now signing up for triple play bundles.

Comcast’s quarterly earnings report indicate the company added 555,000 Comcast Digital Voice (CDV) customers during the second quarter — with penetration around 12.5% of homes passed or 5.6 million customers. Phone revenue increased 50% from $425 million to $640 million in the second quarter of 2008.

Their broadband additions (278,000 broadband customers added in the quarter), better than the broadband line additions posted by both AT&T (46,000) and Verizon (54,000) this quarter.

Comcast is putting up $1.05 billion as part of the huge Mobile WiMAX deal with Sprint, Clearwire, Google and Intel, with Time Warner Cable fronting another $500 million. The $14.5 billion venture, which will be called Clearwire, includes Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Google and Bright House Networks.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. The new Clearwire will give Comcast a wireless alternative to AT&T and Verizon Wireless. The new company expects to cover 100 million U.S. citizens by the end of 2010 and reach 200 million potential users by 2015.

AT&T Wireless, with 73 million total subscribers, reported 1.3 million new subs this quarter while VZW, with 64 million total subscribers, recorded 1.5 million new subs this quarter. The industry is still waiting on results from third ranked Sprint. Sprint Nextel recently reported 52.8 million subscribers while T-Mobile USA has some 30.8 million customers.

More than half of all U.S. teenagers are cellular subscribers by the age of 13, and more girls than boys own cell phones.

The United States ranks third in the total number of cellular subscribers — at 260 million. India is number two at 286 million and China is number one with more than 600 million mobile subscribers.

Related Dailywireless stories include; Cable Goes Wireless, Comcast Talks and It’s Official: Sprint, Cable & Google Building WiMAX Network.

Sprint Rolls Out Home Femtocells

Sprint has announced nationwide availability of its Airave femtocell. It boosts cellular service inside your home and works with up to three handsets using Sprint’s CDMA network (Nextel phones aren’t supported).

The Airave box is $99.99. To use it with a Sprint plan, the customer must add the “enhanced coverage charge,” which adds $4.99/month to the bill, and either a Single line unlimited calling plan at $10 per month or the multi-line option which is $20 per month, per account.

Sprint’s femtocell uses your own DSL or cable modem connection for backhaul. The advantage (besides better indoor cell connectivity) is that you can place unlimited domestic calls through the box.

Femtocells provide voice and data services inside the home like a WiFi access point, but they use cellular frequencies, not Wi-Fi. Your own DSL or cable modem is used for backhaul. A Sprint gateway picks up your call through the internet.

Made by Samsung, the Airave box, does not need a Sprint signal at the user’s location. Of course, if a residence is outside the range of Sprint’s signal, their cell calls can’t automatically transfer when leaving home.

AT&T is also looking at femtocells, and said it plans to launch its own trial later this year.

T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home, by contrast, uses a WiFi hotspot for indoor coverage. Cell phones with built-in WiFi provide automatic handoff for T-Mobile using the UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) standard.

T-Mobile’s HotSpot@Home requires WiFi enabled phones. Sprint’s femtocell technology works with ordinary cell phones because the “hotspot” is a miniature cellular basestation.

Femtocells promises to reduce operating costs of cellular operators by 30-40%, says Frost and Sullivan. For most operators backhaul OPEX can be anywhere between 30 to 40% of operator costs. Femtocells allow operators to impose backhaul costs on the user.

But femtocells have cost, interference and handover issues of their own. Femtocells cost $150-$300 and interference can be generated by using the same (licensed) channel pair as outdoor macrocells. Currently it is not possible for a macro cell to have thousands of femtocells as neighbors. Too much interference.

Operators remain optimistic says Frost and Sullivan. Femtocells may improve cellular performance inside buildings. They expect small scale deployments to occur during the second half of 2009 by a few Tier 1 mobile operators and based on the results of the 2009 launch, other mobile operators may jump in. Sprint’s initiative is the first large-scale femtocell launch.

According to Unstrung , the upcoming LTE standard will need standardized femto equipment. Operators need a clear view of how femtocells will support their equipment, before they can even consider large-scale deployments.

The next plenary meeting of the Femto Forum in September will be crucial for vendors to reach a consensus on some of the details, says Unstung.

Related Dailywireless articles include; AT&T: Femtocells R Us, EdgePoint Femtocell, T-Mobile Expands Hotspot@Home, Ericsson: Wi-Fi is Dead, Dead, Dead, Femto Forum Expands, Sprint; Femocell at Home, Google Invests in Femocell Company, Hotspots for Cellphones and Cable/Sprint Pole Dance.