Innovation to Take Note Of – Sixth Sense Of Computing!

30 11 2009

http://www.ted.com/talks/pranav_mistry_the_thrilling_potential_of_sixthsense_technology.html

I heard of Pranav Mistry, 28 in September 09 MIT Technology Review magazine, when his innovation 'Sixth Sense' was rated among the 'Top 35 innovations under 35' by MIT. The device 'Sixth Sense' allows user to retrieve information in real time, on move. It easy to understand the concept behind it. While you are on move and want to access the information, say emails, what you do is just draw symbol '@' in air, which will be first captured by a camera (Powered by Gesture Recognition Software). This captured image by a webcam will be then interpreted by Web enabled Smartphone in user's pocket using vision algorithm to identify the symbol. Mistry also uses a LED projector, to display the data sent by Smartphone on any surface in view.





Tariff Wars Going to Intensify!

12 11 2009

If latest report by HinduBusinessline becomes reality, then location based mobile tariffs (LBT) soon will be available to Indian pre-paid mobile subscribers. The tariffing is called as ‘Dynamic Discount Tariffs’, which will allow operators to offer discounts on already cheap call rates, based on subscriber’s location and time.

Telcordia, world’s largest telecom software company behind the innovation will offer this innovative tariff solution to Indian Telecom Operators very soon. The idea behind the LBT is simple to understand. If you are making calls in/out on your prepaid mobile connection during busy hour from a busy business hotspot, you will end up paying more for your calls. What you could do is to call Operator’s Interactive Voice Services or subscribe to LBT SMS service, to find nearby low congested area, move there and make your calls, which are relatively going to cheaper. This will certainly help operators to better utilize their network resources. This solution is win-win deal, as subscribers get discounted tariffs too while levering traffic load on network.

The LBT has already been implemented in few other markets such as Africa, where number of mobile operators such as MTN, Vodafone are using Telcordia’s tariff innovation solutions. The LBT is best way to offer differentiating services (Read LBS in India for more) in overly crowded fragmented Indian market, which will also allow operators to cater needs of consumers by not only providing cheaper calls rates but offering better quality of services too. Till date, the market has been innovating on tariffs by flat reduction of calls rates, but besides that there is good scope to offer differentiating quality services.

But real question lies, how successful will these type of services? What type of discount operators are going to offer, as call rates have touched rock-bottom? Will subscribers travel to nearby locality to make/receive calls, just to get discounted tariffs on call rates (Call rates are already affordable to many of us now)? But certainly, brining innovation by looking beyond flat reduction of call rates is need of time in Indian telecom sector. Certainly cost proposition is going to be key aspect of such innovative services.





Towards Better Spectrum Management!

8 11 2009

Recently TRAI released consultation paper on overall spectrum management & license issues. This could be cited as welcome step towards managing one of the most important natural resources available to country, Spectrum. And perhaps as stated in the paper, the issue of spectrum management is the most critical issue in deciding the future of telecommunication industry. Let’s go in brief about matters related to spectrum requirement & availability in present context.

Why do we need to think about spectrum management? Few main reasons could be:

  • At present, where number of subscribers has crossed the mark of 4.3 billion, India is not behind. India has reported the robust growth in wireless segment, as total number of wireless subscribers has already crossed 450 million mark (By the end of Aug2009) and to provide better quality of services by maintaining the growth pace, there is need of availability of spectrum.
  • With impending 3G/BWA auction in coming months, Wireless spectrum is going to be much sought after entity, as with auction of NGN services number of subscribers using spectrum are going to rise.
  • Spectrum management is essential to ensure level playing field while encouraging the competition.
  • The main issues of deliberation include identification of bands for commercial usage, assessment of demand of spectrum in future along with efficient use of the spectrum, which requires careful planning.

WPC (Wireless Planning Commission) has already identified different frequency bands for various wireless telecom services, which includes 450, 585-806, 800, 900, 1800 ,1900, 2100, 2300-2400 etc MHz  bands along with few unlicensed spectrum bands for consideration of spectrum management.

Assessing the requirement:

According to the second committee report, which was constituted in June 2008, projected subscriber base will reach 1109 million subscribers by 2015, with estimated teledensity of 86% (Based on Gompertz Model), which needs to be catered with better quality of service in coming year.  Also as per the TRAI consultation paper on MNP, authority has projected the wireless subscriber base till 2014 on CAGR to 1093 million, which needs to be addressed on per service area basis.

As cited in paper, Delhi NCR region is considered ideal for the exercise, with its projected sub base of 34 million, where Delhi is expected to attain teledensity of more than 150 % by 2014 and spectrum requirement is assumed to be highest in this area. This consultation paper also discusses the need of extra spectrum with present availability, along with redeployment, if any (Spectrum refarming) in each of above mentioned licensed bands identified by WPC. As per one estimate, out of 1161MHz of identified spectrum, a minimum of 287 MHz and a maximum of 454 MHz (approx.) only is presently available for commercial usage. From the projections made, it is observed that a total of 582 MHz (approx.) of spectrum will be required for mobile and broadband wireless services till 2014.

Also, there is need of spectrum refarming, as most of spectrum needed for mobile services is used by GoI agencies or incumbent operators. TRAI is working towards redeployment & vacating few spectrum slots to cater future demands.

Spectrum woes are real and till we better understand the scarcity of it, we hope present consultation paper will try to address at least few concerns raised. The fundamental change is vital- Spectrum isn’t commodity to auction and fill up reserve only, but a scare natural resource, whose management will ensure the better services as per the future needs.





New Domain Launch Telecomblogs.in- My thoughts about it!

7 11 2009

Today, Telecomblogs proudly announces its association with WordPress with launch of its dedicated blog site for Telecom, Software & Social Media, at http://telecomblogs.in (www.telecomblogs.in). Now you can visit the above mentioned link to read, visit, comment & subscribe Telecom Blogs, henceforth.

Looking back, it’s not very long when I conceived the idea of Telecomblogs with pals. Why can’t we have a Technology Blogsite in India, to cater Telecom, Broadband, Social Media & IT?  Though, till date I attempted to keep matters with Telecom, henceforth I will attempt to diversify my writings and include IT & Social media as well.

As said, Telecomblogs isn’t only about blogging. It’s an idea; in nascent stage. I am n’t here to make one more V&D or Communications Today or Chips. I am here to write about Technology and it’s all about Blogs at the end!

With this let me start a new chapter in Technology Blogs. Looking forward to see your comments, support and encouragement!

Thank you.

 

Atul Deshpande

Telecomblogs





Telecom Dilemma- Smartphones Or Laptops?

2 11 2009

In a recent study published by Airvana, the Mobile Broadband Service provider says that Smartphones suck 8 times more traffic than laptops and telcos need to gear up their network to contain the data deluge by using next generation technologies like Smart Antennas & Femtocells.

The earlier assumption was opposite to what has been said above. It was assumed that laptop usage leads to more traffic load than smartphones usage. But now after the study, it has become obvious that Smartphones leads to more traffic load only because the way they function.

Since smartphones are always on and continuously sends signals in order to location update or performing other non-essential tasks, they tend to produce more signaling load. This signaling load is much more than laptops, using data cards. While a smartphone user downloads a fraction (typically 1/25th) of the data consumed by a laptop user, the signaling load produced by the smartphone user is much higher and in fact one third of the laptop user on average,” wrote Airvana. “In other words, while it takes 25 smart phones to equal the data throughput from one laptop, it only takes three smart phones to equal the signaling network impact of one laptop (25/3 ≈ 8x).”

So should we worry about the results? Earlier, when during the course of writing, Telecomblogs uploaded  then latest POI (Point of Interconnectivity) Congestion report for all mobile operators in India (See Box.net widget ). If you go through the report it becomes obvious that due to heavy subscribers additions telcos are facing network congestion issues at PoI levels, though the numbers vary for different operators. And now after growing data usage since last couple of quarters, we may see straining of existing capacity. Though many of them are adding NGN technologies to enhance backend capacity, still we may see higher levels of congestions with growing smartphones usage in Indian urban segment.

The next level of data deluge may open doors of NGN to be deployed in India yet, like 3G and 3G enabled Femtocells to offload Macro sites traffic load. Though, India is yet to experience the smartphones wars and mass pervasiveness; till then it’s better to prepare of next level of data activity.





Finally Green Signal to 3G Auction

30 10 2009

Finally, there’s some good news coming from DoT, who is likely to auction the 3G spectrum in New Year. This has been announced recently, in a memorandum released by DoT and likely date of auction would be 14 Jan; if all goes well.

So after settling down the differences with FinMin, & good amount of negotiations with Cabinet Ministers, DoT has finally given green signal to 3G auction. Certainly, the Telecom Minister A. Raja is more than careful this time, after political maneuvers started pulling his legs over 2G Spectrum Scam, in recent time.

According to memorandum released, there will actually be three separate auctions for three different frequency bands: 2.1 GHz, 800 MHz, and 2.3 GHz. The first auction, which will start on January 14, will be for up to 20 MHz of paired spectrum in the 2.1 GHz band, referred to as the “3G auction.” Then two days after that auction ends, the auctions for 800 MHz and 2.3 GHz will start. The 2.3 GHz auction, called the “Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) auction,” will include two blocks of 20 MHz of unpaired spectrum, which is suitable for WiMAX.

There’s lot of hype surrounding the 3G auction in India and many players have debated over the need & RoI on 3G rollouts. According to one estimate, there are likely to be 90 million 3G subscribers in India by the end of 2013. It is also believed that 3G will open more channels of revenue generation for telecom operators in India, who are struggling to contain falling ARPU figures and revenue loss. According to this Business Standard report, even Google might look BWA spectrum as entry point into lucrative Indian Telecom Market. Whatever is the business associated with 3G/BWA, we hope that these NGN technologies will help Indian masses in communicating better and cost effective way- the long cherished dream of DoT.





No Per Second Billing- Please!

7 10 2009

The latest Buzzword in Indian Telecom Fraternity is ‘Pay-Per-Use’ or ‘Per Second Billing’. After successful launch of its services across few circles, certainly Tata DoCoMo is riding high on success. Other Indian Operators like MTS & Aircel also eagerly joined the stream to offer the billing plans in few selected circles. And now reports say that TRAI will soon launch the consultation paper on the subject, with no timeline for new billing regulation set yet. Wow! That’s certainly interesting!

Why are we so impatient about Per Second Billing?  The offering is certainly attractive for consumers who are willing to pay the money as per their usage. But then should regulator seek urgent notice and issue consultation paper on the subject within two months?

In latest interview to ET, Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal reportedly said that already the tariffs offered in India, have hit rock bottom and there is little room to lower the tariff prices further (It should make economic sense after all). But what is happening around is exactly opposite of what is expected. Innovation much beyond the necessity in tariffs had already hampered the prospects of improvement in revenues for telcos and with pay per use getting implemented, the picture seems gloomy.  With pay per use tariff in offering, it is believed that the annual revenues may further fall by 10-15% and already telcos stocks have stumbled down (Reliance’s ‘Simply Reliance’ failed to create magic ), then why are telcos running after it? Only too woo customers in deeply fragmented market or trying to make differentiating point to grab attention?

With already close to ten operators operating in most of the telecom circles and new to join soon, prospect of per second billing looks bright for new operators, who can only bargain on price differentiator. With less congested network and superior portfolio of VAS services DoCoMo may sustain the losses in revenue, provided they manage to sell their services to enough subscribers with price differentiator tag. That’s the trick for new telcos to think about, but then when regulator joined the speculations it will have some wider impact than mere tariff competition.

Should we leave the tariff to operators to decide and let the market play the catalyst for innovation in offerings, than regulator come in and force it? After all Telecom is a service industry where looking beyond just revenues figures mayn’t possible in current scenario (MOU or Customer Acquisition Cost may highlight the boardroom discussions), but then what should have been priorities for regulator. Telecomblogs, in a highly popular article earlier, said that we have already few things in pipeline to look after and certainly Per Second Billing isn’t among them.

With 3G/WiMAX spectrum auction getting delayed, and only 6 million broadband connections in India, there are enough challenges ahead to address on priority. With existing urban circles coming close to saturation point, release of extra 2G spectrum may ease the tension lingered around QoS for majority of telcos in ring. Had regulator shown such urgency to said issues, we would have seen better picture ahead. Bringing competition in market is okay and making it level playing field would benefit in long terms, but then are regulator concerned about rural tele-density figures or digital divide? Where shall telcos bring money from for rural rollouts? Don’t just rely on USO fund amount; regulator is wary of pictures shown. Telcos are already forced to diversify from their core competence (Voice Telephony), to look for new sources of revenues and many of the existing operators are offering wide range of services in their bucket. What impact will we see on service diversification in coming months? We may get to see some positive impact on service diversification front to compensate for drop in voice ARPU figures, but then why regulator isn’t bargaining for cheaper broadband rates? When shall we get to see cheaper data/VAS services? Will new billing regulation bring negative impact on prices of VAS services offered? Will newly added subscriber figures will compensate for falling ARPUs? Certainly, as said some of the telcos mayn’t be concerned about new offerings, but they even can’t ignore it too.

Per second billing isn’t what we expect from TRAI to issue a consultation paper about. As said earlier too, just look beyond and act wisely. After all looking for short term gains for the sake of long term benefits isn’t expected from regulator. TRAI, Please act wisely!