Webcasting on Batteries

Mike Boyd of Hillsboro WiFi and myself are providing free WiFi at Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival again this year.

I am running my Clear residential modem into a Meraki Outdoor repeater which automatically meshes to 3 nearby Meraki repeaters. That gives us blanket WiFi coverage at the festival. We are providing free WiFi access — just for fun.

For mobile video, I have a Clear USB modem plugged into my laptop running a Logitech 9000 USB camera.

I’m tested out both Livestreaming and Ustream but was disappointed in the quality. I then contacted Livecast, out of Vancover BC because they had a streaming broadcast client that might work with my Nokia N-800. The firm was very helpful on sort notice (and on Canada Day!) to walk me through the process (which was simple).

Here’s the Blues Fest page on Livecast. I still haven’t figured out the proper sound configuration. It may be that my Asus 1000HE netbook with 1 Gig is simply over taxed.

I’m happy with the Livecast process. Even though I was using a new camera it was pretty straightforward. I’ll have to fiddle with the parameters, but I appreciated the company’s help from the CEO on down.

I would have used my battery operated Clear WiMAX/WiFi hotspot, except I keep ruining them by accidently plugging in 12 volt power supplies.

The battery operated unit has a 5 volt input jack for external power, but I keep plugging in 12 volt wall warts. Cradlepoint’s documentation did not describe the voltage it required and, it turns out, there was no effective over-voltage protection on the unit.

The first time I ruined a clear hotspot, Clear gave me a new unit. No charge. After blowing a second unit — doing exactly the same thing — I’ve given up. I’m going to wait for a 12 volt portable unit.

Maybe I should have used a TekCharge MP2250 ($99.95), a new compact external battery for Cradlepoint mobile routers. The external rechargeable lithium polymer battery pack provides six to eight hours of runtime when no power outlet is available.

The TekCharge MP2250 significantly extends the use of CradlePoint portable routers (model numbers CTR500, PHS300 and CTR350) on the go. You connect an activated USB modem; either cellular or WiMAX, for the backhaul

Tekkeon’s 5 volt battery solutions can power phones, laptops, portable media players, and many other devices. It will provide Mobile Phones with 29 hours of talk time and provide Portable Media Players with 14 hours of play time. Like all Tekkeon batteries, the unit uses visual indicators to identify the exact power level.

It includes brackets for mounting the battery to one of these routers and a bridge tip that enables connection of adapter tips required for use with other 5V devices.

I enjoyed my Clear Spot while it lasted. But I’ve also got a backup — a Cradlepoint home 802.11n router. It’s not as portable and has no battery — but it takes external 12 volts! Both the Clear AC residential modem and the Meraki Outdoor take 12 volts, so powering a venue with a few car batteries seems entirely feasible. A solar-powered OLPC webcam that can deliver the required power might also work for multi-day events.

Ustream Mobile runs live on a WiFi-enabled Nokia N-95. All day with an external battery. Livecast supports the Nokia N-800 web tablet. I picked mine up (used) for $150.

Don’t try this with a cellular carrier, though. You’d probably violate the terms of service and go way over the 5 Gig limit, resulting in stratospheric access fees. That’s where WiFi access points like Meraki come in handy – they’re easy to setup and can use DSL or WiMAX for the backhaul.

Europe Adopts Standardized Phone Charger

Top mobile telephone suppliers have agreed to back an EU-wide harmonization of phone chargers, the European Commission said on Monday.

The agreement by Nokia, Sony Ericsson and others will mean phones compatible with standard charging devices are available in Europe from next year.

“People will not have to throw away their charger whenever they buy a new phone,” said EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, estimating that unwanted phone accessories accounted for thousands of tons of waste in Europe each year.

The Commission said the agreement would involve the creation of an EU norm, and that the new generation of mobile phones would use a standard micro-USB socket to ensure compatibility.

The following 10 companies have signed the MoU; Apple, LG, Motorola, NEC, Nokia, Qualcomm, Research In Motion, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, and Texas Instruments. The 10 companies involved control 90 percent of the European market.

The Commission hopes that as people discard their old handsets, within three to four years all data-enabled phones in Europe will be using standardized chargers. There are an estimated 400 million mobile phones in Europe, with 185 million bought each year.

The standardized chargers will be compatible only with European phones, but the EU hopes other countries will follow Europe’s lead.

Sony PSP Phone?

Sony may combine a mobile phone with its Playstation Portable gaming platform, reports Reuters. It would combine functions of its portable game player with mobile phones made by Sony Ericsson. The development is seen as a way of better competing with Apple’s iPod and iPhone, as well as Nintendo’s DS.

Sony announced greater integration between its mobile and gaming units last month via the launch of a new Sony Ericsson handset called the Aino.

The device uses a system called Remote Play, initially developed for the PSP, that enables users to control and access media content on PlayStation3 via the phone. Aino also features an 8.1-megapixel camera with geotagging capability; 3G, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity; a physical keypad; and a three-inch touchscreen.

According to the latest Gartner figures, Sony Ericsson slipped to fifth place in terms of global phone shipments in 1Q09, as its market share declined to 5.4 percent compared to 7.5 percent in the year-earlier quarter.

Seven of Apple’s top ten iPhone applications are games, and mainstream game publishers have for some time been incorporating the iPhone into their plans.

China Mobile: Slow TD-SCDMA Sales

China Mobile says less than 3 percent of its new mobile customers are using their new 3G network, suggesting that their TD-SCDMA network is suffering from a lack of compatible devices.

China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator, reports subscribers grew from 457.3 million to 488.1 million during the first five months of 2009. According to a PC World report, which cites a recent China Mobile filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the operator had 746,000 subscribers on its 3G network by the end of May, representing just 2.4 percent of total net additions since the launch of the new TD-SCDMA network on 7 January. China Mobile is listed in Hong Kong and the US, where its shares trade are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, making the company subject to regulation by the SEC.

China Mobile admitted in the filing that it has “encountered and may continue to encounter challenges in the deployment of our 3G services, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations as well as our revenues and profitability.”

China Mobile is also going all out to develop converged LTE solutions utilizing time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD), reports Light Reading. That will enable China Mobile to limit the time it is dependent on TD-SCDMA, help it counter the constraints of the TD-SCDMA sector’s limited ecosystem. China Mobile chairman and CEO Wang Jianzhou has previously stated that the carrier will look to launch TD-LTE (a TDD version of LTE) in 2010.

Slow take-up of its 3G services are deemed due to the relative immaturity of the TD-SCDMA standard compared to competing standards such as WCDMA, which is used by the majority of the world’s 3G mobile operators, including China Mobile’s closest domestic competitor, China Unicom moved its CDMA business to China Telecom in November of 2008.

China Unicom then merged with China Netcom, after the former sold its CDMA network to China Telecom. The newly merged company therefore has all the assets of China Netcom, plus Unicom’s nationwide GSM network with 125 million subscribers. Networks using other 3G standards (WCDMA and CDMA2000 EV/DO) have still not been launched in China, as these were delayed until TD-SCDMA was ready.

According to the SEC filing, China Mobile is counting on dual-mode handsets that support both TD-SCDMA and GSM to help spur more demand for its TD-SCDMA services by allowing users to upgrade to 3G services without having to change their mobile number. It is also planning to market laptops with TD-SCDMA data cards and home Internet access gateways to attract more 3G subscribers.

China Mobile selected ST-Ericsson’s company in China for TD-SCDMA gear. ST-Ericsson will support four of its customers to commercialize their mobile phones during 2009-2010. On January 7, 2009, China granted a nationwide TD-SCDMA 3G license to China Mobile.

ST-Ericsson, the 50/50 joint venture between Ericsson and STMicroelectronics, will develop a new low-cost platform to support affordable TD-SCDMA devices as well as high-end mobile phones, based on existing and new platforms such as the T7210, for broadband and multimedia services.

ST-Ericsson’s T7210 handset supports TD-SCDMA dual-band in 2010-2025MHz/1880-1920MHz frequencies, and has successfully completed handovers of voice and high-speed data services in order to operate optimally in Chinese dual-band network environments.

HTC will also bring its Android-powered Magic smartphone to China Mobile, HTC CEO Peter Chou told The Wall Street Journal.

China Mobile intends to sink some 58.8 billion yuan ($8.6 billion) this year alone into building out its TD-SCDMA-based 3G network to cover 238 cities across China with roughly 60,000 base stations.

The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has awarded China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom licences for the country’s TD-SCDMA, CDMA 2000 and WCDMA 3G standards, respectively.

  • China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile phone operator with 415 million customers, will use TD-SCDMA in the 2010-2025MHz band for their nationwide network of voice and low-speed data, while the 1880-1920MHz band will be used for high-speed data services using TD-HSDPA/HSUPA/HSPA+.
  • China Unicom, the world’s third-biggest mobile provider, is developing a nationwide WCDMA (GSM) network.
  • China Telecom has taken over the CDMA 2000 network and also has the largest single WiFi wireless broadband network with over 30,000 hotspot locations covering hotels, restaurants and transportation facilities in over 250 major Chinese cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanning, Hangzhou, Chengdu, Dalian, Kunming, Wuhan, Chongqing and Xi’an.

China had 627.3 million mobile-phone users at the end of October. India is now the second largest wireless market in the world. India’s mobile operators added 11.59 million subscribers in May, taking the country’s total to 415.25 million, according to the latest figures from Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). The United States is the 3rd largest wireless market, according to the CTIA, with some 263 million mobile-phone users.

Cell Phone Gap: Divided by Age

From cell phones and texting to religion and manners, younger and older Americans see the world differently, creating the largest generation gap since the tumultuous years of the 1960s and the culture clashes over Vietnam, civil rights and women’s liberation.

A new study released Monday by the Pew Research Center found Americans of different ages increasingly at odds over a range of social and technological issues. Almost eight in 10 people believe there is a major difference in the point of view of younger people and older people today. That is the highest spread since 1969, when about 74 percent reported major differences. In contrast, just 60 percent in 1979 saw a generation gap.

Younger people are more likely to embrace technology. About 75 percent of adults 18 to 30 went online daily, compared with 40 percent of those 65 to 74 and about 16 percent for people 75 and older. The age gap widened over cell phones and text messaging. About 6 percent of those 65 and older used a cell phone for most or all of their calls; 11 percent sent or received text messages. That’s compared with 64 percent of adults under 30 for cell phone use and 87 percent for texting.

Pew interviewed 2,969 adults by cell phone or landline from Feb. 23 to March 23. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. In cases where older persons were too ill or incapacitated, their adult children were interviewed. Pew also used surveys conducted by Gallup, CBS and The New York Times to identify trends since 1969.

O2 Adds Starbucks Hotspots

O2 UK, the largest cellular provider in the UK, has expanded its Wi-Fi deal to include BT Openzone Wi-Fi hotspots – adding some 3,000 hotspots, including most branches of Starbucks to its inventory.

The partnership, which existing customers will see come into effect today, coincides with an upgrade to O2’s Mobile Broadband Connection Manager software, enabling users to manage their data consumption more effectively.

O2’s new Connection Manager will automatically copy existing Wi-Fi profiles from a customer’s laptop during the initial installation process. An automatic notification will be sent to the Connection Manager when 75%, 90% and 100% of their data allowance has been reached.

Unlimited Wi-Fi from BT Openzone allows O2’s customers to stay connected and track how much data they have used. A simple data counter keeps tally. New customers can get extended Wi-Fi coverage by the end of July.