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Network congestion is a problem…Ruckus Wireless has a compelling offering….Offload to WiFi will solve the problem temporarily!

27 Feb

A common problem facing wireless operators today is network congestion, especially in areas that have high densities of population. Mobile customers have experienced poor voice/data quality in some of these locations:

  • Convention Centers
  • Downtown Business districts
  • Fairgrounds
  • Shopping Malls
  • Sports arenas and stadia
  • Transit

Wireline network operators faced similar challenges 12-14 years ago, as internet services like dial-up access, cable modems and DSL were experiencing hyper growth.

Most of us have experienced slower Internet speeds while using our smart phones, tablets and laptops. One solution to this problem is off-loading some of the traffic from the 3G/4G wireless networks  to a Wi-Fi network.

I did not realize the severity of the problem that wireless carriers were facing with data congestion until I spoke  with Dr. Andrew Odlyzko, Professor at the University of Minnesota and formerly the Director of its Digital Technology Center. “Carriers will have to embrace WiFi as spectrum is scarce and there is a limit to the number of cells that can be added” said Dr. Odlyzko.  In 1998, as a researcher at AT&T, Dr. Odlyzko was the first person to challenge UUNET’s (part of Verizon now) overly optimistic forecast that Internet traffic was doubling every 3-4 months. Dr Odlyzko published a memorable paper estimating that Internet traffic was at best doubling every 12 months. He proved to be right.

Ruckus Wireless has developed a compelling carrier grade WiFi product by using its experience in the following products:
  • Residential and enterprise wireless access products.
  • iPTV carrier products
  • Wi-Fi carrier products
I have not  examined either Ruckus’ or its competitors offerings in detail. However, the demand for Ruckus’ Wireless products and those offered by its competitors like Alcatel-Lucent, Belair Networks (acquisition pending by Ericsson), Cisco Systems, Nokia Siemens and others will be strong. It will be interesting to see how Ruckus competes with larger rivals in a market that not only has a limited number of customers per country but also competing with established competitors that have a broader portfolio offering. My experience tells me the company will succeed in selling its carrier product as  as carriers typically have two sources for a network element.

According to Steven Glapa, Senior Director, Ruckus Wireless, “Ruckus wireless offers unparalleled adaptive antenna technology which combined with the intelligence of its gateway make its offering the best in the market.”  An exuberant  Mr. Glapa, added by saying.”We have the possibility of being the next generation Ericsson.”

Ruckus’ customers include:
  • An Australian operator
  • KDDI (Japan)
  • PCCW (Hong Kong)
  • Cloud, a division of BskyB
I  will not be surprised in the coming months if the  company announces a large operator in North America like Comcast that will enable Comcast it to offer WiFi services in high density locations that I mentioned earlier in the post.
To date, Ruckus has raised about $70 million in capital. Revenues were $100 million last year and are expected to double this year. The company was  founded by Ms. Selina Lo in 2004. Previously, Ms. Lo was a founder of Centillion and AlteonWeb Systems which were  acquired by Bay Networks and Nortel respectively. Coincidentally, Bay Networks was acquired by Nortel in the late nineties.
Finally, history has shown us that whether it is bits or bytes – the increased capacity in networking and computing generally gets consumed rather quickly.

Skyfire for iOS now available globally

24 Dec

The only web browser that can play Flash videos on iOS is now available globally. Skyfire today announced that Skyfire browser for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad is now available in all the 90 countries where Apple’s itunes App Store is available. In a blog post, Skyfire mentions that its recently launched Skyfire browser for iPhone was downloaded more than 300,000 times and had earlier reported that the app was “sold out” within five hours of its debut on the App Store. Since then, the company had started rolling out the app on a country-by-country basis. Unlike other browsers, Skyfire’s servers compress and encode Flash videos into a format that iOS allows.

It is a tough decision for any company to limit the distribution of a product that is selling better than hot cakes on a freezing winter day but we should applaud Skyfire’s effort for being able to ramp up its servers and have a global roll-out in less than two months after its launch. Yesterday, the company launched the browser for iPad in the US and today even that version is available globally.

Skyfire for iPhone/iPod touch is priced at $2.99 while that for the iPad is available for $4.99. Pricey? Certainly. Worth it? Absolutely!

SOURCE: Skyfire Blog

Motorola acquires cloud streaming and sync company

22 Dec

Motorola today announced that it has acquired Zecter, a startup that specialises is personal cloud streaming and data sync technologies. Zecter currently provides two offerings – ZumoDrive for syncing content and ZumoCast for streaming media. According to a Motorola press release, the acquisition will help the company enhance its Moto Blur user interface, which is currently deployed on many Android phones but has failed to impress tech gurus.

“Motorola Mobility will integrate Zecter’s wireless syncing, desktop integration, video transcoding and thin-file retrieval technologies across its device and MOTOBLUR offerings to provide consumers with real-time access to their content.”

Current ZumoDrive and ZumoCast users will continue to enjoy the service but distribution of ZumoCast will be suspended while the team makes certain enhancements. Motorola aims to provide regular updates to current users.

Opera launches WAC-ready widget runtime for Android

22 Dec

Opera Software, the makers of the popular Opera Mini browser for mobile, today released a widget runtime for Android that would enable developers to create widgets that will be compatible with Wireless Applications Community (WAC) 1.0 specs. WAC is a consortium of handset vendors, carriers and services companies who aim to create a universal app store for mobile platforms.

Developers can start developing widgets and begin implementing the WAC APIs by downloading the runtime from http://www.opera.com/download/get.pl?sub=++++&id=33389&location=270&nothanks=yes

Instructions can be found at: http://labs.opera.com/docs/wac/installation_instructions/ This runtime is provided for evaluation and demo purposes and is free of charge for all developers.

Google Maps 5.0 for Android brings 3D maps, offline reliability

22 Dec

Google has released Google Maps 5.0 for Android smartphones, which will offer 3D maps and offline navigation options. Unlike the present version, which fetches blocks of images and stitches them together, the new version will use what engineers call vector graphics that will have more information stored in them and allow users to interact with it in more ways than one. Also, maps for places you frequently visit will be cached automatically on the device when it is connected to a Wi-Fi network to enable offline mode – routing and navigation in the absence of a data connection.

Some excerpts from the Official Google Mobile Blog:

Explore maps in 3D
Until now, Google Maps has always downloaded the map as a set of small, square images that we stitch together to form the map you see. (You’ve probably seen those gray squares getting filled in, block-by-block, as the images load over the network.) Starting today, we’ll use vector graphics to dynamically draw the map on your device as you use it, allowing you to interact with it in new ways:

  • Tilting: Drag down with two fingers to tilt the map. Tilt while zoomed in on one of the 100+ citiesaround the world with 3D buildings to see a skyline spring to life.
  • Rotating: Twist with two fingers to rotate the map. After tilting to see 3D buildings, rotate around them to gain a new perspective from any direction.
  • Smooth zooming: Slide two fingers together or apart, and see the map and labels continuously scale to any zoom level, stopping when your fingers stop.
  • Compass mode: Center the map on your location, and then tap the compass button in the top right corner. The map will flip into 3D mode and start rotating to match your perspective, while still keeping all the labels upright and readable.

Offline reliability
Google Maps has always been, and continues to be, a fundamentally Internet-connected experience, meaning you always get the freshest map and place data, search and voice search, live traffic conditions, satellite and Street View imagery, and much more. Still, we understand that mobile Internet connections aren’t 100% reliable. So today we’re happy to take the first steps toward greater offline reliability, so you can find your way even if you lose your connection.

In the past, you’ve probably had frustrating moments when you get stranded without a map, whether ducking into the subway, sitting at the back of a restaurant or traveling anywhere with a flaky Internet connection. But dynamically drawing maps requires 100 times less data to get maps across all zoom levels, so now we’re able to proactively cache (or store) large areas on your device based on where you use Maps the most. This way, you can rely on having fast, robust maps available to you where you’re most likely to need them.

SOURCE: Official Google Mobile Blog

Yahoo! Mobile Search taps into GetJar for mobile app discovery

19 Nov

Yahoo! is currently testing the integration of GetJar’s mobile apps repository for its mobile search. Whenever a user searches for apps using Yahoo! Mobile search, the search engine would tap into GetJar’s repository and show the relevant results. This will the first of its kind initiative to make app discover easy.

GetJar is currently asking its developers to add some megatags to their apps to ensure their apps are displayed with relevant search queries. GetJar is the largest mobile app store across mobile platforms and brands.

SOURCE: GetJar Developer Blog

The Economist launches iPhone, iPad and iPod touch editions

19 Nov

The Economist has become the latest magazine to hit Apple’s App Store as an e-magazine. The app is available for free on the App Store and individual editions are priced at $5.99. Existing subscribers of the print or online editions can access the entire magazine without paying additional fee by entering their subscription credentials. The iOS app for The Economist also features audio versions of every article read by professional newscasters. Once downloaded, the edition is stored on the device, which can be read even without an Internet connection. We wonder how long would we have to wait before Indian media houses launch proper iOS editions without piggybacking on solutions like Xinio.