WiMAX and/or Satellite

WiMAX Forum Congress Asia concluded this week in Singapore with over 1,600 in attendance. Equipment provider Samsung reiterated its support for WiMAX unveiling new indoor mobile WiMAX solutions and announced partnerships with 24 major mobile operators in 20 countries. Amid speculation that they were backing off WiMAX, Alcatel-Lucent clarified its position that it is currently providing mobile WiMAX equipment for 14 commercial networks worldwide, including the largest – Packet One in Malaysia, and that it has secured 32 mobile WiMAX contracts overall.

Meanwhile, LG Electronics announced this week that it has been selected by NTT Docomo to supply it with LTE modem chips, a competing technology with WiMAX, while US equipment provider Motorola announced that it was cutting its 4G investments, both in WiMAX and LTE as a way to control costs.

The April 2009 WiMAX Guide is a FREE online resource published twice a year that contains feature articles and company listings for decision makers deploying WiMAX & 4G networks. It overviews the WiMAX Market by region with case studies on Airspan, Cisco and Alvarion.

The WiMAX Guide includes company profiles with information on each company. You must submit your company name, email and phone number to download the guide.

In other news, DigitalBridge Communications signed a distribution deal with the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative in return for the NRTC’s “significant” investment in the WiMAX provider pdf. In addition, NRTC will acquire a seat on the company’s board of directors.

The deal comes just weeks after NRTC filed comments to the FCC saying that it is developing a plan to enable its members to offer universal access to broadband throughout rural America by using a combination of WiMAX and satellite. DigitalBridge Communications is a 4G wireless Internet provider using WiMAX to deliver broadband services to underserved communities nationwide.

AlphaStar, a hybrid satellite/terrestrial broadband wireless service, is promoting its system as a solution to rural broadband delivery. AlphaStar@Home does not go directly to your home via satellite, such as 2-way satellite providers Spaceway and Wild Blue. Instead, AlphaStar uses a hybrid delivery method with terrestrial wireless for last mile delivery.

WildBlue demonstrated it can deliver download speeds that are up to 12 times faster than its current speeds if it gets a new high-capacity satellite such as the Viasat-1 platform.

ViaSat-1 is expected to have more capacity than the combination of all other satellites in operation over the United States, providing 2-10 Mbps download speeds at retail prices competitive with terrestrial services, says the company.

The new satellite would be able to offer broadband (depending on the speeds) to between 1.5 million and 2 million rural Americans. WildBlue estimates there are about 15 million homes and businesses in rural, underserved areas in the US.

ViaSat currently uses LinkStar and LinkWay VSATs with Enerdyne’s video data link and AcceleNet compression for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. Insitu’s Scan Eagle, for example, can also transmit 2 Mbps of IP data simultaneously with compressed video using a terrestrial FM video transmitter that uses less than 8 watts. Viasat-1 might also open up the domestic UAV market for Boeing.

WildBlue currently delivers services via two satellites, WildBlue 1 and Anik F2, which have enough capacity to serve about 750,000 subscribers at WildBlue’s current service/speed levels. It’s also in the process of leasing additional Ka band capacity from EchoStar’s AMC-15 satellite, a move that will allow it to support as many as 75,000 additional subscribers.

That should give it some fresh capacity to serve some areas that have the heaviest demand for its services –- East Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and portions of Kentucky and Tennessee, reports Light Reading. WildBlue has completed an agreement with EchoStar, but a new satellite would take 2-3 years, stretching the time frame of stimulus funds.

Some $6.39 billion in the stimulus bill will be targeted for broadband and administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service.

Organizations and groups can download the CTC authored Rural Reference Model (pdf). This model will help operators in their planning and budgeting process as it supplies baseline references, technical capability, and integration with other systems, says the company. It reviews the costs and benefits of delivering the last mile by various flavors of WiFi and WiMAX.

Proxim’s Government Grant Resource Guide provides an overview of the options that are available to help fund wireless broadband networks.

Alvarion also offers a complete line of RUS-accepted solutions with “Buy American” status using a range of unlicensed, semi-licensed and licensed frequencies. Alvarion says you can build your rural wireless network using 3.65, 5.3, 5.4, 5.8, 4.9, 2.3 or 2.5 GHz and qualify for funding by using RUS-accepted Alvarion solutions if you are currently working on projects to bring wireless broadband access to rural communities or have plans to develop such projects.

Meanwhile, Eutelsat plans to launch a satellite next year that it says will offer the entire UK up to 10Mbit/s broadband, including rural areas that are poorly served by ADSL and cable. Eutelsat’s “Tooway” broadband, launched this week in the UK, offers up to 2Mbit/s, via an existing satellite. Tooway is currently available using Ka-band capacity on Eutelsat’s HOT BIRD™ 6 satellite.

Eutelsat’s new KASAT (pdf), launching in the third quarter of 2010, will use the Ka band and offer 10 Mbps, using over 80 spotbeams. Eutelsat will locate KA-SAT at 13 degrees East where it will join three large HOT BIRD Kuband broadcasting satellites that form the world’s leading video neighbourhood.

There are at least 3 billion people on the planet who have no affordable way to connect to the Internet–a problem Google aims to solve by helping foot the bill for the launch of 16 satellites in the O3B constellation.

The O3B satellite network (“O3B” stands for “the other 3 billion”) is set for launch in late 2010. An ISP would install a pair of high-tech antennas capable of tracking multiple satellites and establish a 155-megabit per-second connection to the global Web. ISPs could use 3G cellular and WiMax towers for local connections. Each satellite in the network will have 10 spot beams, each delivering in excess of 1Gbit/s. Just how they plan to get 10 Gbit/s UP TO the satellite is less clear.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; HughesNet’s Spaceway 3 Now Available, Hughes Launches Switchboard in the Sky, HughesNet & Broadband Corporation, Spot Beam Sats Multiply, Clearwire & SatTV Do a Deal, Sprint Beams Up with MSV, TerreStar: I-HSPA for Satphones, Satphones: Merger Ahead?, Inmarsat + SkyTerra = Spectrum Sharing, Mobile Satellite on the Move, TerreStar Gets a Slot, Satellite Repeaters – Grounded In Reality?, WildBlue Partners with DirecTV & Echostar, John Malone in Space, TerreStar Gets a Slot, BSkyB + Google, SkyNet Satellite Hacked?, Lockheed CEO: Space is Broken, MSS: AWS Alternative?, WildBlue: AT&T’s DeathStar?

Bluetooth: The New Remote Control?

The recently ratified Bluetooth 3.0 specification not only ups the wireless interface’s speed to 25 Mbits per second, but also defines a new function called Unicast Connectionless Data (UCD), putting it in direct competition with the RF4CE (FAQ), the wireless remote control specification that merged last month with the Zigbee Alliance (IEEE 802.15.4) efforts to replace infrared remote controls, says EE Times.

TV makers will have to choose between them.

Bluetooth was considered too power hungry and its latency too high for remote controls, burning through a set of batteries in three months and delaying a second or more before registering a button push. However, the new UCD functionality in the 3.0 spec extends battery life to about four years and lowers Bluetooth’s latency to milliseconds.

UCD “allows you to keep Bluetooth in sleep mode most of the time, to conserve battery life.

Using Bluetooth 3.0 also enables additional capabilities for high-end TVs not possible with RF4CE, proponents claims, such as hi-fi audio transmissions, network access to download TV schedules for display on the remote, push-picture for automatically uploading digital camera pictures to a TV and integration with Wi-Fi for transmitting high-bandwidth audio and video using a peer-to-peer connection controlled by Bluetooth commands.

Bluetooth 3.0 also allows cellphones with music players to be virtually docked to TVs so that media played on a handheld device streams to TV speakers.

RF4CE chip makers like Freescale Semiconductor claim that Bluetooth is overkill for command-and-control applications traditionally handled by IR remotes.

Zigbee’s RF4CE spec increases the remote control range to over 1,000 feet compared to about 50 feet for IR and Bluetooth. But with more than 2 billion Bluetooth enabled devices shipped, including more than 50% of mobile phones sold worldwide, Bluetooth is becoming the solution of choice for connecting consumer devices.

Craig Settles on Cable Legislation

Craig Settles, who authored the book, Fighting the Good Fight for Municipal Wireless, and a proponent for municipal broadband network deployments, writes.


I don’t know if you’ve been following this, but in N. Carolina Time Warner and Embarq are trying to get legislation passed that prevents local governments from building broadband networks. If they win here, people are worried incumbents will take this tactic nationwide to subvert community involvement in the broadband stimulus program.

The heart of the story is that the small town of Wilson, NC couldn’t get the service they wanted, so they built a network that delivers 10 Mbps broadband up and down for $35/month. The incumbents have gone ballistic.

My blog post this week outlines other NC successes and the danger of this incumbent tactic going nationwide.

Best regards,

Thanks, Craig. You might also check out his commentary in Muniwireless this month: Will Broadband Projects Dodge the Missteps of Municipal Wireless?, as well as his own, excellent, municipal broadband blog.

Save NC Broadband.com has more.

Acer & Asus: 5M Netbooks last year, 10M in ’09

Acer, the world’s third largest computer vendor, shipped just over 5 million netbooks last year, and expects to ship 10 million to 12 million netbooks this year, reported the company this week.

Asustek, which pioneered netbooks with its popular Eee PCs, shipped 4.9 million units last year, just behind Acer. Acer managed to win the 2008 netbook title despite Asustek’s six month lead in the market. Acer’s Aspire One didn’t ship until the second half of last year, but the device was a hit, and sales soared mainly because Acer was able to launch globally, analysts say.

Gartner and Acer estimate that netbook shipments will increase to 20 million units this year, up from 11.7 million units last year with 50 million netbooks expected to be shipped in 2012.

Asus plans to continue using Microsoft Windows OSs in its popular Eee PC netbooks this year despite widespread interest in alternatives such as Google’s Android software.

“Windows is what most consumers are used to,” said Jerry Shen, CEO of Asus, during an investors conference on Thursday in Taipei. Shim expects the netbook market share will hold at 15 percent.

Android runs on inexpensive, low power microprocessors such as those made by ARM, also used in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon. But x86 chips are more attractive for netbooks for several reasons, said Shen, including the wealth of software made to work on the microprocessors.

Microsoft declined to say when Windows 7 will be commercially available, despite Microsoft making the final beta version available to testers today. The distribution of the RC is one of the last steps before the Windows 7 code is locked down and sent off to manufacturers ahead of its commercial release.

ZDNet reports installing Windows 7 on a netbook is pretty straight-forward as long as you either have access to a USB optical drive, or are able to put the installation files onto a USB flash drive. The whole install process took a little over 30 minutes and the installation consumed some 7.5GB of drive space. But you might need to add more RAM.

On Thursday Acer marketing director Bobby Watkins told tech blog Pocket-lint.com to expect the new operating system by fall: “23rd October is the date the Windows 7 will be available,” Watkins is quoted as saying.

Wireless HDTV Gets Amimon Chips

Amimon announced today the availability of its second generation baseband chipset (AMN 2120/2220), designed for the Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) wireless High Definition video standard. It enables uncompressed HD video delivery throughout the home, using the WiFi bands. Hitachi, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and LG Electronics are supporters of this standard.

The Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) provides an uncompressed wireless link with equivalent video data rates of up to 3Gbps (including uncompressed 1080p) in a 40MHz channel in the 5GHz unlicensed band.

Although leveraging 802.11n as a development foundation, it’s not interoperable with 801.11n, 5.8 GHz Wi-Fi technology, since that standard maxes out around 600 Mbps.

WHDI, unlike most compression, takes the uncompressed HD video stream and breaks it into elements of importance. The various elements are then mapped onto the wireless channel, giving elements with more visual importance a greater share of the channel resources.

Equivalent video data rates of up to 1.5Gbps can be delivered on a single 20MHz channel in the 5GHz unlicensed band, conforming to worldwide 5GHz spectrum regulations, says Amimon. Range is beyond 100 feet, through walls, and latency is less than one millisecond, claims Amimon.

Amimon hopes their chipset will be embedded into LCD and plasma HDTVs, multimedia projectors, A/V receivers, Blu-ray DVD players, set-top boxes (STBs), game consoles, computers, DVRs, PCs and HD video accessories/dongles for wireless streaming of uncompressed HD video and audio.

WHDI is one of three (now two) technologies vying for wireless HDTV.

  • WirelessHD uses 60-GHz transmission. The format is backed by lead technology developer SiBeam, along with Intel, LG, Panasonic, NEC, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba. WirelessHD’s first-generation implementations have hit 4 Gbps data rates, but the technology is claimed capable of 25 Gbps speeds (versus, for example, 10.2 Gbps for wired HDMI v1.3)
  • 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. However, the UWB WiMedia Alliance has been dissolved, and absorbed in Bluetooth. Bluetooth 3.0 will incorporate UWB at a later date.

Om Malik says 802.11n will win the Wireless HD video sweepstakes because it can stream data at 100 Mbps. Quantenna says their fully integrated 802.11n chip with 4×4 MIMO can deliver up to a 25 dB performance improvement over older generation 802.11n 2×2 MIMO configurations. But 802.11n will requires HD compression hardware on both sides, raising cost and latency. WHDI (at 5 GHz) and WirelessHD (at 60 GHz) can avoid that expense and hassle. Baseband in, baseband out. The tricky bit is DRM, which restricts access to the baseband datastream.

In-Stat concludes:

  • UWB will not be a major factor in the consumer electronics market. Many chip companies are leaving the market in late 2008 and 2009.
  • Nearly 24 million digital TVs will ship with some type of Wireless HD video technology in 2013.
  • WHDI and WirelessHD are being promoted by startups, but they are new, expensive and power-hungry, which is generally not a recipe for quick market success.
  • WHDI and WirelessHD will see a slow start, with fewer than 8 million devices with those technologies shipped in 2013.

BTW, China-based IVT Corp. announced the availability of what it claims is the world’s first Bluetooth 3.0+HS commercial stack for the Linux-based Moblin and Android mobile device platforms. Bluetooth 3.0 uses AMP (alternate MAC/PHY) technology, which enables Bluetooth to piggyback on WiFi transmissions when available.

Motorola Android Near?

The Boy Genius Report says Motorola’s first Android-powered handset will be called the Calgary. It appears to have a QWERTY-sliding keyboard and will likely focus on social networking.

Open platform Android phones include T-Mobile’s G1, HTC’s Magic, and Samsung’s I7500. Acer is also working on several different Android devices and plans to launch a smartphone using the software later this year. Calgary is slated for Q2 says BGR.

Archos plans an Internet Media Tablet, which runs on an ARM-based Texas Instruments (TI) OMAP3440 processor. Around the same time GiiNii plans to ship an Android-based Movit Mini portable media player (PMP).

It is believed that Motorola Inferno and Flash handsets have both been canceled, says Mobile Burn. The Flash was a standard tablet-style touchscreen cell phone, and the Inferno was similar to a flip phone.