Saturday, March 26, 2005

4G Wireless Technologies Impacting on Traditional Wireless Infrastructures

Research and Markets has announced the addition of Broadband Wireless and WiMAX to their offering.

To remain competitive, service providers must develop a wireless strategy that coordinates offerings and networks between their wireline and wireless broadband infrastructures. Advances in fixed wireless broadband standards have enabled service providers to extend the reach and speed of their high-speed services. In addition, the deployment of mobile broadband solutions such as 3G is inaugurating a new era in communications.

Broadband Wireless and WiMAX presents today's most viable broadband business models and market strategies, highlighting ways to retain customers while increasing profitability. Authored by professionals currently at work in the industry, this report offers a knowledgeable and in-depth examination of 802.16x (WiMAX) and 802.20; 802.11x (Wi-Fi) networks and WLANs; mobility, portability, and fixed services integration; and integrated wireless/wireline service offerings

Seven.Five ... It is Now Ready for 4G

Comarco Wireless Test Solutions launches a new and more powerful processor module, expanding the capabilities of the Seven.Five system to meet the high-speed data requirements for testing cellular networks worldwide utilizing the latest, and future, generations of handsets and data cards. Seven.Five is now ready to test high-speed data networks employing technologies such as Ev/DO, HSDPA, UWB and OFDM.

Since it is downward compatible with all existing Seven.Five systems installed worldwide, it can be added to those systems to enhance their capabilities.

Due to the volume and speed of data transfer experienced with high speed data technologies, unique challenges arise. Test systems must be able to handle a huge quantity of data and still have enough processing power to accurately control, collect, analyze and display engineering information that supports the data call. Additionally, with the upsurge of PC card usage, providing a test platform that can accommodate multiple data cards, without compromising RF and data isolation, is crucial.

"As mobile terminals become more and more carriers of high-speed data, the ability to test a wide variety of phones and data cards becomes important," notes Greg Maton, senior vice president of Comarco. "Our commitment to continually update and integrate the latest devices into the Seven.Five system is key to keeping our customers current and looking ahead of the needs of their respective markets."

The Seven.Five system now handles the widest selection of devices, handsets and data cards in the industry, and offers users the ability to test the 3G environment with the same or similar devices as those owned by the cellular end users.

Testing Multiple Data Cards Simultaneously

One of the spectacular features of the new processor module is the ability to test multiple data cards while isolating their IP stacks, routing tables and application layer information. This assures that each device can be tested without any interaction or errors introduced by other devices or phones.

This ability is particularly crucial when testing video capabilities of the network, from video streaming to making video calls. Due to the high processing requirements of the video measurement algorithm and the sheer amount of data that needs to be transferred for this application, the Seven.Five is the only test system that can truly test video capabilities without introducing false degradations.

Testing the 3G Network through the Eyes of the End User

Seven.Five is known worldwide as the only system to truly test the cellular environment through the eyes of the end user. The same is true of the new high-speed data system. For example, the HTTP browser uses Internet Explorer to ensure that all application layer enhancements are captured and the actual user experience is measured. This same philosophy is used in all data test scenarios, such as: email send/receive; FTP UL/DL; UDP; WAP; MMS; SMS and others.

About Comarco

Based in Irvine, Calif., Comarco is a leading provider of wireless test solutions for field test applications, ChargeSource(R) universal mobile power products and wireless emergency call box systems. Comarco's industry-leading Seven.Five(TM) wireless test system for field test applications allows cellular telephone system operators to improve the quality of their cellular phone service through voice, video and data benchmarking and system optimization using advanced QoS algorithms and a unique multi-technology RF scanner. Seven.Five's open architecture supports both current cellular operating system technologies and the new 3G systems being implemented all over the world.

Anatomy of a techno-myth

Mar 23rd 2005
From The Economist print edition

The debate over the safety of mobile phones has little to do with science

DO MOBILE phones cause explosions at petrol stations? That question has just been exhaustively answered by Adam Burgess, a researcher at the University of Kent, in England. Oddly, however, Dr Burgess is not a physicist, but a sociologist. For the concern rests not on scientific evidence of any danger, but is instead the result of sociological factors: it is an urban myth, supported and propagated by official sources, but no less a myth for that. Dr Burgess presented his findings this week at the annual conference of the British Sociological Association.

Mobile phones started to become widespread in the late 1980s, when the oil industry was in the middle of a concerted safety drive, Dr Burgess notes. This was, in large part, a response to the Piper Alpha disaster in 1988, when 167 people died in an explosion on an oil platform off the Scottish coast. The safety drive did not apply merely to offshore operations: employees at some British oil-company offices are now required to use handrails while walking up and down stairs, for example. So nobody questioned the precautionary ban on the use of mobile phones at petrol stations. The worry was that an electrical spark might ignite explosive fumes.

By the late 1990s, however, phonemakers—having conducted their own research—realised that there was no danger of phones causing explosions since they could not generate the required sparks. But it was too late. The myth had taken hold.

One problem, says Dr Burgess, is that the number of petrol-station fires increased in the late 1990s, just as mobile phones were proliferating. Richard Coates, BP's fire-safety adviser, investigated many of the 243 such fires that occurred around the world between 1993 and 2004. He concluded that most were indeed caused by sparks igniting petrol vapour, but the sparks themselves were the result of static electricity, not electrical equipment. Most drivers will have experienced a mild electric shock when climbing out of their vehicles. It is caused by friction between driver and seat, with the result that both end up electrically charged. When the driver touches the metal frame of the vehicle, the result is sometimes a spark. This seems to have become more common as plastic car interiors, synthetic garments and rubber-soled shoes have proliferated.

A further complication was the rise of the internet, where hoax memos, many claiming to originate from oil companies, warned of the danger of using mobile phones in petrol stations. One e-mail contained fictitious examples of such explosions said to have happened in Indonesia and Australia. Another, supposedly sent out by Shell, found its way on to an internal website at Exxon, says Dr Burgess, where it was treated as authoritative by employees. Such memos generally explain static fires quite accurately, but mistakenly attribute them to mobile phones. Official denials, says Dr Burgess, simply inflame the suspicions of conspiracy theorists.

Despite the lack of evidence that mobile phones can cause explosions, bans remain in place around the world, though the rules vary widely. Warning signs abound in Britain, America, Canada and Australia. The city of São Paulo, in Brazil, introduced a ban last year. And, earlier this month, a member of Connecticut's senate proposed making the use of mobile phones in petrol stations in that state punishable by a $250 fine.

For Dr Burgess, such concerns are part of a broader pattern of unease about mobile phones. There is a curious discrepancy, he notes, between the way that such phones have become indispensable, and the fact that they are also vaguely considered to be dangerous. This is particularly noticeable in Britain. The country that led the way in banning mobile phones at petrol stations is also the country that has taken the strongest line on the safety of mobile-phone use by children. In January, Sir William Stewart, the government's expert on the subject, warned that while there is no evidence that mobile phones are unsafe, as a precautionary measure children should use them only when absolutely necessary. The safety of mobile phones would appear to be not so much the province of the hard science of physics, as of the soft science of sociology.

SingTel unveils 3G plans

Singapore, 23 February 2005 – Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) today unveiled plans to make the transition from 2G to 3G services a seamless and easy one for customers. It also launched its new 3loGy initiative to market and promote 3G services across mobile, fixed line and broadband platforms.

Mr Lim Chuan Poh, SingTel’s Executive Vice President (Consumer Business) & CEO of SingTel Mobile, said: “SingTel has had the advantage of customer feedback since we did our first 3G trials back in September and started selling 3G handsets in December last year. And the customer message is clear – keep it simple, make it affordable and that’s exactly what we have done.

“We are offering very compelling prices as a start, helping our customers manage their usage as they go along and adding value to the services they can enjoy with 3G ultimately. Our aim is to give our customers peace of mind so that they are willing to give 3G a try.”

Same local voice/video call charges

There will be no difference between 3G local video call and usual local voice call charges. Charges[1] will be offset against the bundled airtime in each customer’s current subscription plan. Customers on free incoming call plans will enjoy free incoming video calls.

Higher 3G speeds, lower data charges

With 3G, customers will enjoy data speeds of up to 384kbps, which is up to nine times faster than current GPRS (or 2.5G) speeds. However, SingTel customers can look forward to a retail 3G data charge that is 30 per cent[2] lower compared to the current retail GPRS charge.
SingTel will also introduce a range of 3G data packages to meet customers’ varying needs and usage patterns.

Mr Lim said: “However, in the event that our customers exceed their normal pattern of usage, we have included a ‘safety net’ by capping the amount of data charges that can be incurred. They will not get a shock when they get their bill at the end of the month.”

Seamless transition from 2G to 3G

Customers have been able to purchase 3G handsets from hello! shops and authorised dealers since December 2004.

Now, SingTel’s existing 2G mobile customers can enjoy 3G services without changing their subscription plans[3]. They simply need to purchase a 3G handset and have their SIM card converted to a 3G SIM card at any hello! shop or SingTel authorised dealers for free.

Suite of 3G content launched

For the launch, SingTel will offer most of its 3G content free of charge. Video streaming charges will also be waived for a limited period. Video and game downloads will be charged based on the lower 3G data rate.

Customers can immediately access 3G content ranging from local productions such as the Jack Neo Channel and 3G Video Club, to offerings from Hong Kong’s TVB channel and news programmes such as CNA Live and Reuters TV. There will also be self-created content submitted by members of the public for the Citizen Reporter and Singapore’s Funniest Home Videos channels.

SingTel is also offering hundreds of the latest music videos for viewing and thousands of music tracks to personalise users’ mobile phones with.

Going international with 3G

Apart from compelling pricing and content, SingTel customers will be able to enjoy 3G international services.

They can make international video calls to 31 networks in 19 countries. Those travelling to Japan will also be able to enjoy roaming services with their 3G handsets. Japan is one of 12 countries (15 networks) where SingTel 3G customers can continue to use 3G services such as video calls, video streaming and high-speed data access.

3G and beyond: the 3loGy initiative

SingTel is positioning its 3G service as going beyond the mobile sphere. This will be driven by a new marketing initiative called ‘3loGy’.

Mr Lim said: “The advantage of 3G is not just between a 3G mobile phone and another 3G mobile phone. As a full service provider, SingTel can extend the benefits of 3G, such as video calls, to our fixed line and broadband Internet customers as well. To encourage this video communication across the three platforms, we will be creating attractive packages and equipment bundles for our customers.

SingTel will be selling fixed line video phones and launching plans for fixed line and SingNet broadband customers to enable them to enjoy video call.

“We intend to seed 3G among the masses. So our customers can look forward to more content and more services that will be rolled out in the coming months.”

Customers will benefit from the lower 3G data rate with immediate effect while video call charges will commence from 1 March 2005.

More information about SingTel 3G can be found at SingTel mobile customers can also get a directory listing of the various 3G services by composing an SMS with the word ‘3G’ and sending it to 732724.

[1] Based on peak/off-peak rates for non-free incoming call plans and flat outgoing rate of S$0.15 per minute for free incoming call plans.
[1] Pay-per-use 3G data charge of $0.0035 per kilobyte as compared to retail GPRS charge of $0.005 per kilobyte.
[1] Except for those on e-plans and pod plans.


I know that my blog has not been updated for awhile...
That's because I lost my username and password...
A thousand apologies...

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Flash Capabilities in Nokia Phone


After reading the previous entry's article, I think that it is high time that phones embrace flash technology. Flash technology can prove to be the alternative media for companies to have the selling edge. Especially so after I was convinced during the "Flashy" wednesday a few weeks back when teams present their selling point through a flash-based presentation.


Why is this technology sellable...? Most important reason behind this is the fact that it can make a tremendous impact on consumers. Consumers are firstly attracted to sights and sounds and impressed upon using colours and high end technology to amaze their imaginations.


One benefit of being the first to embrace this flash technology in mobile phones is the fact that entrepreneurs can procure opportunistic marginal benefit from the introduction of this new product ahead of their rival competitors. Thus profiting in the short run.

"Nokia To Add Flash Capability to Smartphones" by Keith Regan

Mobile device maker Nokia has struck a deal to license Macromedia's Flash technology for use on smartphones, a partnership that could help accelerate the adoption of portable Web use and mobile commerce over time.

The agreement is seen as significant because it will give thousands of Web application developers new tools for building programs that are designed specifically to work on Web-enabled mobile devices. With Flash, devices can display Web pages that have animation, such as maps and weather graphics and simple games.


Currently, many hand-held devices bog down when accessing Web pages built for viewing on desktop browsers. For instance, some Nokia hand-helds have a version of Flash in the Opera browser they come equipped with. However, that is a desktop-friendly version of the application that sometimes translates poorly to mobile devices.

Financial terms of the Nokia Flash deal were not disclosed. The agreement is focused heavily on Nokia's wildly popular Series 60 line of hand-held devices. One of the most widely used smartphones on the market, the Series 60 line uses the Symbian operating system and is licensed to a half-dozen other device makers.

Finland-based Nokia also will support Flash in other product lines and will work with San Francisco, California-based Macromedia to deliver development tools to mobile carriers. No specific time frames were given for when Flash-enabled devices would be rolled out.

Pushing the Envelope

Nokia Vice President of Mobile Software Antti Vasara said the deal will enable Flash developers to "build new compelling applications on Series 60," and enable mobile network operators to "create cutting-edge mobile content."

Macromedia General Manager Al Ramadan said the deal would unlock "a new generation of digital experiences to an even broader section of the mobile ecosystem."

Perhaps because of its strong market position in the booming smartphone arena, Nokia has been among the most aggressive among all hand-held device makers in pushing to bring the mobile Web and other features to user's hands.

Nokia is also said to be working on handsets that will receive wireless television feeds and earlier this week announced a partnership with RealNetworks to expand the use of that company's media playing software on its devices.

Era of Smartphone

The push is not limited to Nokia. Earlier this month, Symbian announced the latest version of its mobile platform, saying that OS9 would focus heavily on multimedia, with elements such as enhanced support for 3D graphics, graphics acceleration and better handling of digital images.
"We are in the era of the smartphone. The only question is how fast things are going to evolve," Gartner research Vice President Ken Dulaney told the E-Commerce Times.

Smartphones are already outselling stand-alone PDAs as the market adjusts to changing demands from both consumer and business users, Dulaney noted.

Missing Ingredients

Hand-held makers are eager to push the arrival of mobile-commerce and streaming media because it will boost demand for higher-end, more profitable devices, Dulaney added. Carriers are eager to see the market nurtured to maturity as well, since it represents a massive opportunity for premium services that could substantially boost monthly revenue from each phone user.

Analysts say that hand-held devices built to handle specially designed Web pages and content customized for the Web are two key ingredients to mobile Web and mobile commerce adoption. However, a third ingredient might not be in place yet.

"As networks get faster, these types of services will become much more in demand than they are today," IDC analyst David Linsalata said. "Having more robust networks is a major piece in all this."

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The "Flashy" Wednesday

The last seminar was basically a flashy wednesday with all the groups prepped up to sell what seems to be their product or business ideas.
The problem was my group, The Disruptors were the only flashless group, opting to use powerpoint. I must say that the end product was still equally devastating, but there was of course, room for improvement.
Sadly enough was the fact that the flash course that I signed up for (which costed me $10 btw), was to be held AFTER the seminar. My review about this course is that it's too basic for me and it's not useful for our MB362 course.

As for the article review, I would say that consumers be charged 12 Euros for mobile TV is quite an affordable price. This price was conjured after a market research.
We shall see when this technology will take off in the coming years.
Me for sure will not subscribe to this type of technology not because I don't have the financial ways of subscribing to it but rather find it pointless since mobiles have small screens and public transport in Singapore do have their own mobileTV.

TV on your phone

TV on your phone

Jan 13th 2005
From The Economist print edition

Both fixed and mobile telecoms operators are getting into television.

IN RECENT years the mobile phone has turned into an electronic jack-of-all-trades, the remote control for everyday life, a digital equivalent of the Swiss Army knife. A modern handset can function as a digital camera, music player, radio, games console and messaging device, as well as being a phone. On January 10th, trials began in South Korea of a new service that incorporates yet another device into the handset: television. TU Media, a joint venture between SK Telecom and Toshiba, a Japanese electronics firm, began beaming three of a planned 12 mobile-TV channels to special handsets, a service for which it plans to charge subscribers $11 a month. In Europe and America, meanwhile, Nokia, the world's leading handset-maker, is also testing mobile TV services: the most elaborate trial so far, with 500 users, will start soon in the English city of Oxford, in conjunction with O2, a European operator.

It is not just mobile operators that are suddenly interested in TV. Incumbent fixed-line operators such as Verizon, SBC and BellSouth in America, BT in Britain and Deutsche Telekom in Germany are getting into it, too, with delivery via high-speed DSL (digital) phone lines or new, purpose-built fibre-optic networks. Why?

For fixed-line operators, the need to offer TV is clear. Many of them face stiff competition from cable-TV firms, which can offer the “triple play” of TV, broadband internet and telephony over their networks. This week Comcast, America's biggest cable firm, announced an ambitious plan to offer phone service to all subscribers by the end of 2006. Bundling together TV, broadband and phone increases customer loyalty (since it is harder to switch) and lets cable operators achieve economies of scale in billing and marketing.

“The cable companies are entering the telephony market, so the telecoms providers have got to do something,” says Andrew Cole, of A.T. Kearney, a consultancy. In some countries, including France, Italy, Britain and Japan, incumbent operators also face competition from insurgent operators (Iliad, FastWeb, HomeChoice and Yahoo! BB) offering triple-play bundles over high-speed phone lines.

To compete, the incumbents need to get into TV too. “TV is no longer optional,” says Ford Cavallari, of Adventis, a consultancy. “If they don't do it, someone else is going to.” The fastest way into the TV business, he says, is to ally with a satellite-TV firm and resell its services—as SBC has done with EchoStar, for example. That is an interim measure until operators are able to deliver TV via DSL, or via a combination of DSL and new fibre-optic networks. Operators around the world are now upgrading their networks and laying new fibre with TV services in mind.

Mobile operators, in contrast, see TV as a “nice to have” rather than a “must have” service. Technical trials have shown that mobile TV is possible. Market research suggests that consumers might pay up to €12 ($16) per month for it, says Carolina Milanesi of Gartner, a consultancy. Unlike complex 3G data services, which are proving to be a hard sell, mobile TV could have mass appeal. “Everyone gets it if you say ‘mobile TV',” says Richard Sharp, at Nokia's multimedia division.

While a combination of satellite and ground-based transmission is being used in South Korea, Nokia is promoting a new terrestrial mobile-TV standard, called DVB-H. One possible business model, says Mr Sharp, is for mobile operators to share a national DVB-H network, carrying both common and operator-specific channels. Operators would thus share costs while retaining the ability to differentiate themselves through exclusive content deals. Yet a lack of suitable spectrum is one problem; another is gaining the appropriate rights from content providers. So far, mobile operators think that content means ringtones and screen logos, notes Ms Milanesi.

Fixed-line operators face a similar problem, since they too may lack relationships with content providers. The obvious pairings, says Mr Cole, are for fixed-line operators to pair off with satellite-TV firms in order to gain “media competence”; and for cable-TV operators to pair off with stand-alone mobile operators. “There is going to be a tremendous amount of turbulence, driven by the convergence of telecoms, television and media,” he says. As digital technology erodes the barriers between previously distinct industries, continuing convergence—both of services and of firms—now seems inevitable.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The week in review

Comments About Article:-

  1. This article highlights the impending potential of Java based applications, especially Java-based games.
  2. Java based applications are restricted and limited to the hardware performance.

Points from the 3rd Seminar:-

  1. The Disruptors welcomed a new member, Junesh, who just joined the class.
  2. We did some imagination realisation exercise with "FUN" as our theme.
  3. Covered some Business Models and covered the different types and ways some companies operate.
  4., Dell(Internet Dependent) vs HP(Distributor Dependent) ----> Examples of Business Models.

Article of the Day

A New Dimension for Java Games: Mobile 3D Graphics API
By Tomi Aarnio, Nokia Research Center

Market analysts predict that downloadable games will grow into a multi-billion-dollar business within a few years [1]. Java is the most widely deployed platform for third-party applications in mobile devices thanks to its vendor-neutral status, hardware independence, and built-in security, among other things. However, an important piece of technology that has been missing from Java until now (and that would benefit games tremendously) is interactive 3D graphics - the capability to synthesize images from descriptions of three-dimensional objects in real time. The Mobile 3D Graphics API now makes that possible [2].
Not only does 3D graphics make games look more impressive, but it also enables new genres by giving more freedom to designers and artists. It even helps to bring down costs: being inherently scalable, it allows games to be easily targeted at different display sizes and color depths.

The Java bottleneck

On Symbian, anyone with the necessary skills can make a 3D engine and expect it to run as fast as an engine made by the device manufacturer. Unfortunately, writing a competitive engine in Java is not possible. To see why, let us delve into the internals of Java for a while.
Symbian applications are compiled into so-called native code that is executed directly in hardware. Java applications, on the other hand, are expressed in hardware-independent bytecode that is executed by a virtual machine. This imposes a varying performance penalty that is tolerable in ordinary applications, but prohibitive for real-time graphics.
Indeed, our measurements on representative graphics tasks show that Java code runs up to twenty times slower than native code. The situation will improve with Java hardware accelerators, as well as new virtual machines that compile bytecode into native code, but even then the performance barrier remains.

Because efficient graphics engines cannot be written in Java, it follows that one must be implemented in native code (or even in dedicated hardware) and made available as part of the Java platform. This insight forms the foundation of the Mobile 3D Graphics API.

Game development made easy

For those familiar with graphics, the Mobile 3D Graphics API (M3G) can be described as a unified immediate/retained mode API with a configurable rendering pipeline at the low level and an animated scene graph layered on top of it. For a special twist, it includes a file format as an effective means to import content from 3dsmax™ or other modeling tools.

For everyone else, this means that M3G is optimized for productivity, performance, and flexibility.
Productivity is enhanced by separating content from the application logic. Thanks to the M3G file format, game characters and environments can be changed without affecting the source code at all. The API also has built-in support for several sophisticated tools, like vertex skinning and morphing (to account for character animation and other deformation effects) as well as keyframe interpolation (for smooth animation of object positions, colors, and other properties). These tools must normally be implemented by game developers themselves. That, in turn, requires a lot of expertise and hard work, and thus increases development costs significantly.
A number of measures were taken to maximize performance. For example, the underlying graphics engine can be written almost entirely in native code, with only a thin layer of Java on top. The design also facilitates preprocessing in the setup stage, as well as extensive caching of intermediate results, to attain higher throughput when rendering. Furthermore, the API is designed to minimize garbage collection - an irritating operation that cleans up the Java memory space and freezes the game while doing so.

Flexibility is guaranteed by exposing a rich set of parameters for configuring the rendering pipeline. There are dozens of mutually independent parameters in the pixel pipeline alone, yielding billions of unique configurations - and roughly the same number of subtly different visual effects that can be applied to polygons. This is more than adequate for developers' needs today, and will suffice for years to come.

Rapid and effective implementation

The history of 3D graphics is littered with standards that were designed on paper and later proved to be unworkable in real life - take VRML or MPEG-4. Reference implementations and prototypes are often unable to reveal critical design faults.
To avoid making yet another standard that only looks good on paper, the 3D graphics team at Nokia Research Center began to write a production quality implementation of M3G very early on. This, combined with similar efforts at other participating companies, allowed the standardization group to quickly validate design choices - and sometimes reverse them. The parallel implementation approach has also shortened the time-to-market substantially: the first Nokia device to implement M3G, the Nokia 6630, will be on the market less than a year after the standard was completed.

[1] U.S. Wireless Gaming Forecast Update. IDC, December 2003.
[2] The Mobile 3D Graphics API specification,,
[3] The CLDC HotSpot™ Implementation Virtual Machine,
[4] ARM Jazelle™ Technology,
[5] OpenGL ES,
[6] OpenGL,


Monday, January 17, 2005

Technology Infrastructure

The most recent MB362 lecture that we had covered the abovementioned, namely "Technology Infrastructure". A most intriguing history lesson which transcends into more and more definition based terminologies. A really information overload for someone as 'outdated' as me...

Things that were covered include the normally heard terms such as Local Area Networks(LAN), Internet Protocol(IP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol(HTTP), Uniform Resource Locator(URL)and Hypertext Markup Language(HTML). There were also terms which I've probably heard somewhere but just chucked it somewhere in the subconscious mind of mine.

What I've learnt=>

The internet has come a long way to its present form and usage patterns. It started as a group of computers to one that connects the whole world with a touch of a mouse. With more technological advancements, the internet becomes the experimental test bed. Human dependencies on the internet is so high as most written texts are more or less readily available online. Huge cache of information can be found through the internet.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I want my P2P

Record labels are trying to do deals with file-sharing networks

MAJOR record labels have spent years fighting tooth and nail, through courts, legislatures and on the airwaves, to destroy music file-sharing networks on the internet. But they now seem to have accepted that they cannot stop people using such networks and have decided instead they may as well find a way to profit from them.

Universal Music Group, owned by France's Vivendi, is reported to have struck a deal to license its catalogue to a new firm called Snocap, run by Shawn Fanning, who founded Napster, the first big file-sharing network. Snocap's technology would allow Universal to recognise songs swapped on a network and send its users a bill—if the service agrees to embed the software. Sony-BMG is in talks about a similar venture with Grokster, another so-called peer-to-peer service. The aim is to woo people into paying for music which they have been downloading for free.

If it works, the recorded-music industry could reverse its falling sales. But what is in it for file-swapping sites like Grokster, eDonkey, or Morpheus? A respite from music-industry lawsuits is the main draw. File-sharing networks also want the music industry to stop “spoofing” them with fake files. And they, too, are not averse to making more money from their users, who spend little now.

Both sides will claim a moral victory once more deals are announced in the next few months. Music companies will boast that they have turned the networks into law-abiding corporate citizens. The peer-to-peer community, on the other hand, will argue that the music industry has finally recognised that file-sharing is a powerful promotional tool that does not stop people buying the music they really like.

The reality is likely to be a compromise. The file-sharing networks cannot force people to pay for everything they download without driving users away to free services. An attractive offering must still have lots of free content to share as well as stuff that has to be paid for, says Sam Yagan, boss of eDonkey. Meanwhile the music industry continues with its global legal campaign against heavy individual file-sharers, with over 7,000 people already facing lawsuits. They may in future come to be seen as pioneers of a new business model—with unfortunately early timing.

-Nov 18th 2004
From The Economist print edition


Sunday, January 09, 2005

What's an article without some comments...

In the article below, it tracked the development of mobile phones in the UK. Starting from using analogue radio signals to digital ones. The UK now uses the Global System for Mobiles or GSM for short.

What's interesting about this particular article is the figures put forth in red. "...nine years to rack up its first million customers but only 18 months to get the second million."
To put it simply, Vodafone experienced a slow uptake of its 'new' mobile technology in its first few years. This despite the fact that this was not a restrictive technology where only a few have access to.

One could attribute this social phenomena to the nature of mobile technology. Assume a customer makes a subscription to Vodafone's mobile service in 1985, who can he call with his brand new, briefcase-like mobilephone?

Hardly anyone i guess. Everyone would still be using land lines to make phone calls. This is because the rest of the people in that era requires some time before embracing this new technology.

3G technology is considered a new technology to most of us and I'm sure it'll take some time before a majority of us decides to splash our money on a 3G mobile phone.

Article of the Week-"Mobiles rack up 20 years of use"

Mobile phones in the UK are celebrating their 20th anniversary this weekend. Britain's first mobile phone call was made across the Vodafone network on 1 January 1985 by veteran comedian Ernie Wise.

In the 20 years since that day, mobile phones have become an integral part of modern life and now almost 90% of Britons own a handset. Mobiles have become so popular that many people use their handset as their only phone and rarely use a landline.

Slow growth

The first ever call over a portable phone was made in 1973 in New York but it took 10 years for the first commercial mobile service to be launched. The UK was not far behind the rest of the world in setting up networks in 1985 that let people make calls while they walked. The first call was made from St Katherine's dock to Vodafone's head office in Newbury which at the time was over a curry house.

For the first nine days of 1985 Vodafone was the only firm with a mobile network in the UK. Then on 10 January Cellnet (now O2) launched its service. Mike Caudwell, spokesman for Vodafone, said that when phones were launched they were the size of a briefcase, cost about £2,000 and had a battery life of little more than 20 minutes.

In 1986 phones were big, bulky and black"Despite that they were hugely popular in the mid-80s," he said. "They became a yuppy must-have and a status symbol among young wealthy business folk." This was also despite the fact that the phones used analogue radio signals to communicate which made them very easy to eavesdrop on.

He said it took Vodafone almost nine years to rack up its first million customers but only 18 months to get the second million. "It's very easy to forget that in 1983 when we put the bid document in we were forecasting that the total market would be two million people," he said. "Cellnet was forecasting half that." Now Vodafone has 14m customers in the UK alone. Cellnet and Vodafone were the only mobile phone operators in the UK until 1993 when One2One (now T-Mobile) was launched. Orange had its UK launch in 1994. Both newcomers operated digital mobile networks and now all operators use this technology. The analogue spectrum for the old phones has been retired.

Called Global System for Mobiles (GSM) this is now the most widely used phone technology on the planet and is used to help more than 1.2 billion people make calls.
Mr Caudwell said the advent of digital technology also helped to introduce all those things, such as text messaging and roaming that have made mobiles so popular.

-BBC News (