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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.

Featured in Businessworld magazine

3 Oct

This is going to be a very brief post. I have started contributing articles for Businessworld – a weekly business magazine in India. The articles will revolve around cellphones and related tech. My second article for the publication revolves around smartphones and how to choose one depending on your particular use case. You can read it here. I would love to read your comments.

I dropped my iPhone from a hot air balloon, where's my insurance claim?

12 Aug

Nope, I did not but that’s some of the most bizarre iPhone insurance claims that people have made with one that provide insurance for tech gadgets. Here are some more incredible claims that they have encountered:

1. I dropped it from a hot air balloon
2. I lost it while sky diving
3. It broke when my son used it as a table tennis racket
4. I lost it while building a sand castle for the kids
5. I accidentally buried it in the garden
6. It fell into the kettle
7. I dropped it in a food blender
8. My dog chewed it to pieces
9. Juice from a defrosting piece of meat leaked into it
10. It flew out of the car window

And the most common claims…

1. Cracked screen
2. Stolen while texting
3. Couldn’t hear the other person when making a call
4. Leaving phone on the car roof so it falls off when driving
5. Pet knocked the phone off the surface
6. Stolen from handbag
7. Internet connection completely broken
8. iPhone doesn’t charge
9. Dropped in the bath / toilet
10. Screen freezes

Of course, the do not believe that you went sky diving or any of the other nine incredible things ever happened. So even if they did (we would like to hear from you) it would be better to use one of the other 10 reasons if you even wanna see any of that insurance money ka-chinging your register.

So how does a BlackBerry securely deliver mails and messages?

12 Aug

With more governments scrambling for access to data sent securely by Research In Motion’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry handhelds, most users are scratching their heads as to what is the big deal about it. With big confusions come bigger rumours and Reuters has this excellent Q&A that answers most questions surrounding BlackBerry’s security concerns. Does this cheatsheet tell you whether any government will ban BlackBerry all-together? No. But it will certainly help you understand how BlackBerry delivers data securely and why some governments have a problem with it.

SOURCE: Reuters

This iPhone 4 is on fire, really!

9 Jul

Yes, that’s a fried iPhone 4 that you see here and check out the molten remains of the USB cable that came along with the phone. Apparently, the AT&T customer hooked the phone with his computer and the connector port of the iPhone 4 caught fire! According to BGR who got hold of the pic from their AT&T source, Apple has acknowledged that it is a faulty port rather than user negligence. Hmm, do not try this at home, folks and keep your fire fighting gear on while you charge your iPhone 4 next. Just kidding, it is probably the first and only iPhone 4 to meet a fiery death.

Moto Droid X: Makes calls, no matter how you hold it

1 Jul

Wonder what Motorola meant by the last few lines in this ad copy? (:P)

And most importantly, it comes with a double antenna design. The kind that allows you to hold the phone any way you like and use it just about anywhere to make crystal clear calls.

via Motorola’s Facebook page

BlackBerry messages land England football team in hot water!

30 Jun

As if being booted out in a humiliating manner from the World Cup was not enough, the English football team is now in hot water, courtesy two of its BlackBerry toting players. First off, defender Ledley King allegedly clicked a picture with his Berry of his teammates relaxing with beers and cigars after the 4-1 drubbing by Germany and shared it with his friends. Then fellow defender Ashley Cole compounded matters by posting, “I hate England and the f***ing people”  as his status message on his BlackBerry messenger. Needless to say, both found their way into the media or more accurately, The Sun.

As the excreta hits the fan, we reckon it won’t be long before Fab Capello outlaws BlackBerries from the dressing room too (he dumped Twitter, remember?). You can read the complete stories here and here.

CellPassion on NDTV Cell Guru!

10 May

Last week, NDTV’s Cell Guru team visited our HQ to see what we were up to these days. Luckily, I had my PowerMat to show off and lo, here we are on NDTV Cell Guru. Watch us in action on the show and we look forward to many more appearances on the show. A big thanks to the show’s producer Shilpa Dhamija and her hard working team!

AdMob VS iAd: Reebok releases interactive ads for iPhone and Android using AdMob

13 Apr

After Steve Jobs showed us what kind of ads we can expect to see within iPhone apps the other day, we were kinda tempted to open apps only to see those ubercool ads. While iAds are still a couple of months away, its rival – AdMob – is already brandishing a new Reebok mobile ad campaign that seems to be similar (if not all that media rich) to the ones that Apple showcased for Nike. 

In a blog post, AdMob revealed Reebok’s ad campaign for its new ZigTech shoe. The ad will run on some Android and iPhone apps and is targeting an audience of 18-30 year old men who are interested in sports, news, and music.

All ads link to a mobile optimized site where users can visit a product gallery, watch videos, and find a store near them to purchase the shoes.

And that’s where the difference lies between AdMob and iAd. While AdMobs rich-media apps might look good, they open into a new web site rather than opening within the app (or that’s what the blog post seems to indicate). Like Jobs mentioned during his presentation where he demonstrated iAds, users don’t click on ads because it takes them away from the application and what they were doing. Somehow, AdMob needs to understand that and tweak their offering accordingly if it wants to survive Apple’s onslaught, at least on the iPhone.

Everything you need to know about the Apple iPad

27 Jan

Yup, the tablet is very much real and we have just gotten off following Apple’s event online. It is indeed being called the iPad, despite many people who think that the name is a joke and it could have done better with something like an iTab or even an iSlate. We leave that to Steve Jobs to decide and concentrate on the real stuff.

What is it?  In short, it is very much a blown-up version of the iPod Touch/iPhone and comes in two versions – one with just Wi-Fi (a la iPod Touch) and another with Wi-Fi and 3G (a la iPhone). It runs a tweaked version of the iPhone OS that allows it to run all apps that are available on the App Store. Plus it adds some cool new apps of its own – like iWorks, (that’s like MS Office for Windows users) and an online book store, iBooks, from where you can purchase and read e-books just like you do on Amazon’s Kindle. And yeah, Steve Jobs actually mentioned something that suggested more like he took a leaf out of Amazon’s book (pun intended). On the specs front, you are basically looking at a device with a 9.7 inch 1024×768 pixel touchscreen display, a 1 GHz processor specifically created by Apple for the iPad and basically the same iPod Touch/iPhone functionality with much more display real-estate to show off your multi-touch powress. You can get a complete low-down of specs here

Who is it for? At the moment, Apple is pitching it between the iPhone and the Macbook, while claiming that it is much better than a netbook. We feel that the iPad could be a good device for entertainment and reading – books, newspapers, magazines… We are not completely convinced at the moment as to how badly the iPad will hit the netbook market (read the good, the bad and the ugly below), we can see it hitting the Kindle pretty bad. Starting at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version  and $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model (US prices) it offers much more fuctionality than the Kindle can ever offer, even with its upcoming application store.

Where is it available? At the moment, no where. It will be available in the US in March and prices start at $499 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi only version  and $629 for the 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G model. While it is unlocked, it will run on AT&T’s GSM network in the US (3G version) and will use a micro-SIM card. Apple will announce its international availability sometime around June this year.

Now it’s time for the good, the bad and the ugly things of the iPad.

The Good:

The pricing: The 16 GB Wi-Fi and 3G version available for $629 is roughly the same price as that of an unsubsidised iPhone 3G (in India). Basically, you get a more powerful device with a bigger display at the same time. Of course, you don’t expect to hold this thing against your ear to make calls, we hope.

The content: The ability to run all iPhone apps on the iPad is a big plus. What remains to be seen is whether more app developers spend time customising their apps for the iPad. Add to that the iBook – the book store from where users can purchase and download e-books. The iPad might just become the best gaming console/e-book reader/personal media player/Internet tablet device. 

The performance: Initial hands-on impressions from some of the most reputed media/blog networks claim that the iPad is much faster than the iPhone 3GS. Add to it up to 10 hours of battery life and multi-touch and iTunes, the iPad dazzles in front of the impending competition in the Internet tablet arena (Seriously, do we have any competition there at the moment?).

The keyboard dock accessory: The iPad comes with an optional keyboard accessory that we believe would be a must-have accessory. That would make it much convenient to type since typing on a 3.5 inch display and a 9.7 inch display are two different things. However, we noticed that the dock places the iPad in portrait mode rather than landscape mode, which we think would be a more comfortable orientation.

The Bad

Micro-SIM: The iPad with 3G does not use a normal SIM but rather a newer variety of SIM cards. Why would Apple break the standard and go for the uncommon? So that people don’t start using it with carriers other than the ones Apple has tied up with. This would ensure that the carrier and Apple continue to rake in revenues without having to worry about losing the device to rival carriers. However, Apple has made it clear that the iPad is an unlocked device and will be available on prepaid only, The caveat: the data plan is available on only one carrier – AT&T.

The Ugly

No multi-tasking: What? So much processing power, such a big display and no multi-tasking? That’s right mister, eventually, the iPad is just a bigger iPhone.

No camera: Another booboo. Would have loved to have an IM client with video chat and lots of camera-based augumented reality apps.

No GPS: This one is a bit difficult to digest. Even the 3G+Wi-Fi version only has assisted-GPS support that doesn’t pin-point your exact location but rather estimates where you are.

Mono audio: Ahem, it seems like we will have to buy a nice speaker dock for this baby to actually get the party started. But will the current ones for the iPhone/iPod Touch suffice? Looks highly unlikely considering the size of this beast. Mind you, it has the same docking port as the iPod Touch/iPhone.

The verdict

Apple has managed to hit the sweet spot with its pricing albeit with a few hardware sacrifices. We reckon that the iPad will become the defacto best gaming device, e-book reader and probably even an Internet browsing machine. But will it send netbooks into oblivion? Naah, we need something that can multi-task for that, Mr Jobs.