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the future of wireless conference report


the future of wireless conference report

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Emerging markets


Technology development


Application development


Service development




Radio the next big thing




the future of wireless conference report

1 Top right: David Brown.

Centre: David Brown delivering keynote speech.

Bottom: Networking.

for e wo rd

‘The chance to help develop the biggest machine on earth’… that is how a job in telecoms was sold to Sir David Brown when he started out 40 years ago, and now that vision is a reality. Worldwide there are 4 billion subscribers, purchasing mobile phones at eight times the birth rate with a 3:2 ratio of mobile to fixed connections. Sir David believes that the industry can be a driver for growth. “If information is economic power, then by facilitating the rapid transfer of knowledge we have the capacity to drive growth.” “For countries where rural populations have no possibility of fixed connection, wireless brings the possibility of m-commerce or trade enabled by the mobile phone.” However, he cautions, at present only two thirds of the world’s population can participate. “Everyone knows how debilitating it feels to have a mobile device in your hand but still be out of touch. What we need is a seamless transition between the fixed and mobile worlds.” He also points out that never before has technology been met by such a demanding consumer: “Generation C is able to use the technology to generate its own content and wants the tools and

“The chance t o help dev elop t he biggest m achine on earth…”

infrastructure to accommodate this.” While many agree with Sir David that this is a ‘golden age’ of collaboration, others wonder if the required new business models will evolve in time to exploit it. The question remains ‘who will pay?’ as this generation also believes that content, whether it is text, images, games or music, should be free or very cheap. Industries built on royalties, subscriptions and advertising revenues must be the first to adapt to survive the wireless Internet revolution. This report explores these themes and captures the views and interests of Cambridge Wireless, a vibrant membership organisation that has originated in Cambridge, UK, but offers an international perspective on the world of wireless.


the future of wireless conference report

2 THE ECOSYSTEM IS NEW DEVELOPMENT ENVIRONMENT David Cleevely is a veteran of the Dotcom boom and bust, but despite this remains remarkably upbeat about the lack of profitable mobile business models seen so far. “It occurs to me that ‘long tail’ economics has not been seen in wireless before and we are entering an era where markets that were previously unprofitable are now opening up. Creating a more agnostic platform offers creative power to millions of people.” Chris Anderson’s ‘The Long Tail’ economic theory of the early Internet years challenged the traditional ‘80/20 rule’ widely accepted in retailing, which stated that 80 per cent of sales comes from the most popular 20 per cent of products.


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“Apple’s breakthrough with the iPhone was the development of the online AppStore which creates a shop window for smaller developers....” Anderson’s analysis of online music sales suggested that, thanks to the cheapness, simplicity and global accessibility of searching for products online, retailers could make money from more obscure products because they would always find an audience.

networks have created a new type of many-to-many distribution channel. We see our role as facilitating this creativity, enabling and empowering others to innovate and build value. As a result innovation life-cycles are becoming shorter.”

Amazon is a successful example of Long Tail as one employee famously said: “We sold more books today that didn’t sell at all yesterday than we sold today of all the books that did sell yesterday.”

Richard Traherne, Cambridge Consultants, agrees. “Apple’s breakthrough with the iPhone was the development of the online AppStore which creates a shop window for smaller developers. The technology had been around for years but Apple made it accessible at street level.”

Christopher David of Sony Ericsson has embraced this theory: “Social

Left: David Cleevely.

Right: Richard Traherne, Cambridge Consultants.

the future of wireless conference report

Left: Christopher David, Sony Ericsson. Centre: Ray Anderson, Bango. Right: Graham Maile

Cleevely reminded them that Apple’s success was also based on its iTunes revenue model that was able to manage the transactions, “a profit model that is now evaporating before our eyes.” Traherne sees the recession as an important driver for innovation. “It is now essential to rethink ways of offering services and products and new models will evolve. There are five main strategies: reduce the cost point, create a premium product, offer a new service strategy, reuse existing technology in a new way, or develop an ecosystem and share the cost of development with partners.” Ray Anderson of Bango also sees the ecosystem strategy as viable for mobile. He argues that to get innovation you need to lift the constraints. “Application developments on the Nokia were limited as the operators blocked use of the Internet. What you need is some silliness to become experimental and push the boundaries. Twitter is silly and eBay is so silly that it has become plausible.” Cleevely believes that

“All-you-can-eat data has made many applications possible......”

removing concern over data is one of the important constraints to be broken. “All-you-can-eat data has made many applications possible. Take the ocarina app on the iPhone - it uses the screen as a keyboard, the microphone socket as a mouthpiece and you have an instrument. The server collects and distributes data so that you can hear in real time other musicians across the world. None of this was designed to work like that, but playfulness has led to innovation.” Traherne cautions that the risk is that people quickly get bored but contextual relevance will make apps more useful. He comments that people want life to be simpler. “If you could see in real time the state of the traffic on the A14 and the queue at the doctors you would know when to leave your office. It is difficult building for a global market. You have to develop what makes sense locally.” The BBC web site recently carried a report about the relevance of radio traffic news. It concluded that there is only a 15 per cent chance that you will hear anything relevant and the chances are you will be stuck in a traffic jam while you do. Could wireless technology do it better? Graham Maile of Plextek, thinks that broadband mobile radio will.

“There is a lot of talk at present about Internet-enabled cars. The car can, for example, report its condition – is it running well – and the driver can get better traffic information and enhanced entertainment. We can see mobile communications and sat nav converging so that cars can talk to each other, and automatically exchange road traffic information as they pass.” Christopher David agrees: “Local content is valuable. In India consumer publishing has created regional entertainment. We are seeing a cycle of innovate, spread, experiment and consolidate. Lots of industries are on the point of going mobile.” Anthony Rix, TTP, Short range wireless SIG The culture is changing and we – the men in suits – are often not the best judge of where these new services are going to go. Sixteen year olds these days don’t even have an email address! They have a phone and a text number, and an account on Facebook. They don’t even watch TV. Let’s throw away the history; let’s create new products and services without limitations. There’s a world of opportunity out there.”


the future of wireless conference report

3 India To Open Its Mobile Frontiers Mr Goyal CMAI India is counting on wireless broadband to bring the Internet to rural India and foster economic growth and opportunity for its people, according to Mr NK Goyal, President of the Communications & Manufacturing Association of India (CMAI). Mr Goyal is looking forward to exciting times ahead and a fruitful association with Cambridge Wireless following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two organisations at the Cambridge Wireless international conference. Mr Goyal believes that growth in the communications sector is still huge and that India offers major opportunities. “India offers a big market with an industry-friendly environment that has beaten all expectations. We currently have 400 million telecom subscribers in the country and are

eme rg in g m ar ke t s

targeted to cross over to 650 million by 2012, with new subscribers joining at the rate of 10-15 million a month. In a time when other economies are suffering, India is experiencing high growth rates with a GDP of about 6 per cent. “To service this demand, six more operators are to start over the coming months on an all- India basis.” The agreement with Cambridge Wireless aims to maintain and promote cooperation and understanding between the members of the two organisations, leading to the further development of business and trade opportunities. Dr Soraya Jones, CEO of Cambridge Wireless, believes that the market potential of India and the innovation offered by members of the CW community provide a powerful combination.

“The communications network being developed and rolled-out in India is state-of-the-art, and as such offers a unique opportunity to rethink the way that communications technology is used. It creates a homogenous platform for trialling innovative approaches to deploying new services and billing for them.” Mr Goyal agrees: “The beauty of Indian telecom is it has the lowest tariff and the highest profitability. We are looking at using the mobile phone to support the economic development of the rural community – fishermen, farmers and remote villages where one phone is shared by all the inhabitants. We are the first to introduce mobile banking and an outsourced model for network infrastructure and also the first to provide resources such as handset charging by bicycle. Such is the diversity of our country and the enormous potential it offers.” Soraya Jones sees this agreement offering matchmaking opportunities between members of the two organisations, leading to joint ventures and strategic alliances. It comes at a time when India is about to launch its own auction for 3G.“ India has the opportunity to learn from our experiences but also to improve on them,” she comments. “The

Left: David Cleevely, Soraya Jones and Mr Goyal.

“The beauty of Indian telecom is that it has the lowest tariff and the highest profitability.” 4

the future of wireless conference report

advent of 3G in India will open the doors for equipment manufacturers, VAS and mobile applications.” Mr Goyal is also optimistic about the future: “Synergy between Indian operators and UK innovation creates the opportunities to develop new technologies in both countries, increasing trade and business. There is also scope for environmentally friendly products. Opportunities are immense. The market is ripe.”

Right: John Frieslaar, Huawei.

Ten tips for exporters Ray Anderson of Bango offers his ten lessons in growing businesses internationally. 1. Exploit time differences: somewhere in the world you are too late or too early. 2. Do your own research. Don’t rely on the media or analysts. 3. Do a little well. Entering three new countries is more than three times the effort of one new territory. 4. Use your own people to measure success. US salespeople are very bullish.

Developing markets John Frieslaar, Huawei

5. Don’t depend on mobile operators as they take a long time to make decisions and are then apt to alter strategy suddenly.

China has vast rural areas that are underserved by fixed telecoms. Mobile offers the potential for new services based on the latest emerging technology.

6. Operators only understand their own organisations, the experience isn’t transferable.

However John Frieslaar of Huawei advises that to access this complex market, foreign companies will need to work with partners.

8. Remember the power of numbers – you have access to millions of users.

“There are three big service providers, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom and three different technology platforms. PC usage is not high so mobile offers a significant market. “Arguably the biggest potential is in applications that use cloud computing as the application does

10. Feed success by going with the winners.

7. Translate just enough – the market innovators will accept English in the early stages.

9. Exploit cross border interaction between new territories.

not depend on the processing power of the handset.” Applications include transport, medical, education, sustainability and climate change.

“Arguably the biggest potential is in applications that use cloud computing as the application does not depend on the processing power of the handset.” 5

the future of wireless conference report

4 Development ecosystem David Wood, Symbian The challenge over the next five years is how to manage open collaboration, according to David Wood of Symbian: “If all goes well we will have networks that are ten times faster than today, onboard intelligence that will reduce power consumption and a new generation of devices that we will interact with differently. “To get there we need collaboration, not just at the edges but at the core.” Symbian believes – unlike Apple – that this can be achieved by tapping into the army of creatives outside the company.

te c hno log y de v el op me n t

“Fragmentation is a risk and this is both a strength and a weakness as we have seen in mobile Linux. But we believe Symbian is more than a platform – it is a community. Through the Eclipse Foundation we are looking to mobilise and manage the direction of development through councils, with input from OEMs, silicon vendors, network operators, ISV and end users.”

dimension to the information – everything from search to advertising – but it is so much more than that. Location personalises the experience for the user.”

Peter Hazlett, Nokia Software SIG “Location-based services and applications will become increasingly important. At Nokia we are adding location to everything we already do. Adding this context adds another

“Location-based services & applications will become increasingly important... ”

Left: Paul Williamson, of Cambridge Consultants, one of the largest independent wireless development teams in the world. Top : Conference delegates.


the future of wireless conference report

“iPlayer and Tivo introduced the concept of timeshifting......” The future is bright Rakesh Murria “I am well aware people are using the Orange network to watch television and this is an inefficient use of the spectrum. Rather than see this as a problem for us it is a business opportunity,” says Rakesh Murria of Orange who admits his addiction to Indian cricket involves using a Slingbox to enable him to watch it on the move. Television is protected from the recession. People won’t give up their bit of luxury and if anything it becomes more important when other forms of entertainment are scarce.

Top right: Peter Hazlett.

Bottom right : Conference delegates.

access to minority interest programming and we would start getting the Amazon style recommendation engines to generate a play list.”

at the thought of the ‘dongle’. “This is going to be very interesting”, he comments.

Murria believes that the way to market penetration is to make it as easy as possible to access television, reaching a critical mass quickly. He has a secret weapon – the dongle. “It would be too expensive for an operator to develop for each of the platforms so we would look to offer mobile TV via a dongle which would plug into the handset.” Other delegates were intrigued to know how this would be achieved. Peter Hazlett from Nokia Corporation saw major benefits in being able to watch sport while waiting for his wife to finish shopping but raised his eyebrows

“The viewing pattern could be different for mobile,” Murria expands. “iPlayer and Tivo introduced the concept of timeshifting where people can watch pre-recorded programmes. The Slingbox allows linear TV to be watched in real time which is excellent for sport, but there is also shortform (5/10 min video) and longform (TV programmes). By facilitating mobile linear TV, Orange could segment its audience and attract advertising revenue, perhaps from local organisations, and benefit from more efficient usage of its spectrum. “Long tail theory suggests that people would also be able to gain


the future of wireless conference report


te c hno log y de v el op me n t

Google is planning to offer these services as platform independent using web-based applications integrated into the browser. But they would still need a good rendering engine such as those offered by Android, PalmPC or iPhone, and would exploit the new standard HTML5. “App cache will be essential to maintain usability when the signal is lost or the device is operating on airplane mode. We would use W3C for the geolocation services.”

First life meets second life Dave Burke, Google Google is excited by the potential of mobile, with many users consolidating into all-in-one mobile devices. It has seen usage of mobile Internet shoot up where operators have facilitated web access. Dave Burke of Google explains that small operators have penetrated the market using more imaginative business models. “Metro PCS is a tiny carrier but it offered its subscribers free web access for the first month. As a result half are still using the web regularly. Although the global carriers have ten times the traffic, Metro PCS has 2.5 times as many Internet users.” Better browsers and killer apps are driving the usage. “Although iPhone and Android make up 13 per cent of users they account for 50 per cent of the traffic. Most popular applications are


those such as Amazon and Facebook which are not downloadable.” “We see the future as exploiting the difference that mobile provides, not in trying to replicate the fixed world. Integrate the senses to improve the experience. A phone has a touchscreen, a microphone, speakers, it can be made to recognise speech and respond to shaking or location-based information. “We are looking to provide speech recognition based search which will open up hands free services for drivers, the elderly, disabled or minority language groups. Location based services provide opportunities for local search, such as the nearest restaurant.”

Driving traffic is important for the Google advertising model and Burke sees the future as offering users a seamless transition between the fixed and mobile worlds. Allowing traffic to drop on to the local network where possible would relieve pressure on bandwidth, and cloud computing could remove the need for device-based processing. “The web can evolve to be a better mobile app platform. The future is browser-based applications that are easy to use,” concludes Burke.

Left: Peter Whale, Qualcomm.

Time to innovate Peter Whale, Qualcomm Much of the conference has been about the move away from technology and products towards services, and I’m very encouraged to hear that.

“We see the future as exploiting the difference that mobile provides, not in trying to replicate the fixed world.”

the future of wireless conference report

“tiny radio devices will scavenge energy from the environment..........” Top right: Paul Green, Vianet. Bottom: Chas Sims, TTP

We need to invest in the infrastructure to support these services. What does this mean in terms of the business models that allow innovation to continue? Let’s be innovative about business models as well as technology. Software as a service Chas Sims, TTP Licensing models for software have all been broken and the concept of developing software and hardware and selling it has become too risky when so much open source software is free. As a result Chas Sims of TTP is championing the development of embedded software within novel devices.

“We have got to think services now,” he explains. “Services are the new economy and software applications based on novel devices create a major opportunity to add value.” Short-range wireless operates within 100 metres or less and the falling cost is making it possible to create new services within the home or work environment using femtocell and home broadband networks. Sims explains that a new era of tiny radio devices will scavenge energy from the environment to extend battery life. They will connect via Bluetooth or other short range frequencies like zigbee. “We are already seeing this in a small way with the ability to connect to the home broadband over the phone using ‘logme-in’, to set TV recording remotely, and energy consumption monitoring

using a network of sensors. But this is just the start.” The Internet of things Paul Green, Vianet Vianet supports the Internet of things, allowing business assets such as sensors and peripherals to communicate with each other. Applications include the control of facilities within a large store or supermarket – for example, temperature, humidity, lighting, ventilation and refuse collection. User experience Allan MacLean, Amdeo I’ve been interested in the personalisation theme – how to meet the needs of very complex, very large audiences with different kinds of requirements. It’s important to develop from platforms the ecosystems that can be personalised in different environments.


the future of wireless conference report

5 There is a business in mobile Andrew Gilbert of Qualcomm sees a new era of applications for mobile. “Up until now the revenue earning applications have been quite trivial; ring tones, messaging, music downloads. The future is the development of services that exploit the features of the phone.” He cites applications such as m-commerce which can enable rural communities to have access to bank accounts and Internet banking (“opening up a whole new world for the unbanked”); healthcare and lifestyle applications such as diabetes monitoring; and the ‘Internet of things’ where devices other than phones are Internet-enabled. “There are many devices emerging that exploit cloud computing and we expect to see a mash-up of applications to meet the needs of users. These devices include smart phones, net books and eReaders. “An interesting application is eCall – an alert service for the emergency services which uses radio devices in the car and location transmitters on the road. This could be a lifesaver in remote rural areas.” To achieve these applications, technology advances are needed. Screen resolution needs improving to allow viewing in strong sunlight, potentially using the power of the sun to backlight the screen. Battery life needs extending and a universal charging facility must be developed, plus


a pp lica t io n d ev el op m en t

more intuitive search facilities for smaller screens. The biggest challenge is to create new revenue models but Gilbert thinks an emerging example is that of Amazon’s Kindle. The device costs $489 after which purchase of the content – a book – pays for the service. David Cleevely asked Gilbert if he saw a future where large corporates would offer wireless enabled applications. Gilbert replied that mechanisms are needed for corporates to engage with developers to harden applications into robust mainstream solutions but maintained that operators also have a role.

“Up until now the revenue earning applications have been quite trivial....” “Operators are the access point for services, they know the subscribers well and are in a position to offer personalised services.” Networks for Independent Living, David Cudby “We need another special interest group which looks at the issues related to business models and marketing, because it seems to go back to this issue every time – how is someone going to pay for this?”

Bottom: David Cudby, Networks for Independent Living

the future of wireless conference report

The challenge, according to Nick Hunn of the Mobile Data Association, is how to manage long-term chronic conditions, which afflict one in three people, to keep people out of hospital and in good health. This creates a major business opportunity built on a home broadband network with remote monitoring. “The phone offers a connection to other devices in the home. These can be chemical sensors for fire, smoke and CO2,; motion sensors attached to the TV remote, toilet flush, cooker and fridge; fall alarms; data loggers to measure heart rate and blood pressure or even geotags to help early-stage Alzheimers suffers return safely from the shops.

Above: Pravin Sood, Jaltek Group. Right: Was Rahman, UK Trade and Investment.

Intelligent devices Pravin Sood, Jaltex “Small wireless devices are going to be much more widely deployed. We make a sensor which is like the mobile phone of the medical world – the patient wears it and it tells the doctor his ECG, pulse, temperature etc. This was recently used by runners in the London Marathon. “Telematics uses similar devices to track vehicles and also to see

what’s happening to them. For instance in fleet lorries, it can monitor engine performance and even tell the control room if someone is opening the trailer.” Enhancing wellbeing Nick Hunn, mobile date association

“We need compelling applications to ensure that the devices are used and also designed to appeal to the purchasers who may be children as presents for elderly parents.” And the services? Hunn sees them being offered by the big brands. “Home security is a natural extension to health insurance, which you can buy at Tesco. Why not buy the sensors at the same time?”

Improving life expectancy adds years to the end of your life – not the middle – and on average this also adds nine months of ill health.

“We need compelling applications to ensure that the devices are used and also designed to appeal to the purchasers......” 11

the future of wireless conference report


service d e ve l o pm en t

Emergency Services Mark Adams NYCWiN Everything you see in TV cops films is plausible but not everything is possible, says Mark Adams of Northrop Grumman ruefully. He is the Chief Architect of the New York City Wireless Broadband Network (NYCWiN). “The biggest hurdle we face is spectrum. Fortunately it was realised before it was too late that we need to keep some secure spectrum available for national public safety. It was in the aftermath of 9/11 that the importance of communication between multiple agencies was really brought home.” Adams explains that the solution couldn’t be left to the private sector. “Commercial pressures mean that network coverage is where it can be exploited. For the emergency services we need a dedicated network achieved through 400 sites across the city to provide 95 per cent coverage. “We chose a licensed spectrum and UMTS technology as this supports the QMS services needed.” The system was tested in the UK at the Lewes bonfire night festival – a potentially lethal combination of flaming barrels of tar rolling through the streets crowded with people. Applications included body worn video, real time licence plate identification, face recognition, and mapping with geospatial sensors. Also simulated was a chase scenario with video


from the helicopter streamed to the co-driver to provide an overhead view of obstacles.

Innovating Services Richard Bobbett, Airwave Solutions

The trial provided useful learning points which were incorporated prior to roll-out.

Mobile offers a unique opportunity to adjust working practices in the emergency services, says Richard Bobbett of Airwave Solutions.

NYCWiN provides an integrated and seamless user experience and the infrastructure for future public services. For example utilities are looking to exploit the coverage and backbone for water metering.

Above: Mark Adams, Architect of the New York City Wireless Broadband Network, (NYCWiN)

The UK has the largest public service network that is used by all emergency services, serving 220,000 users over 300 organisations. Users have a choice

“It was in the aftermath of 9/11 that the importance of communication between multiple agencies was really brought home.”

the future of wireless conference report

however, the idea of an expensive paramedic twiddling his or her thumbs is difficult to justify. Bobbett has the solution. “All medics need regular in-service training. By offering access to online training manuals it is possible for paramedics to log into the course and complete ten minutes training while waiting. This can be logged and at the end of the week the training manager will know that 80 per cent of her team have completed the module.”

Above: Networking. Below right: Conference delegates.

of devices from different manufacturers but they must be compatible with the network. This provides the opportunity to build value-added services on a consistent platform. It has also enabled many of the emergency services to change the way they deliver to the public. “You might have noticed that first responder paramedics now arrive by motorbike or car. First aid at the kerbside is not just an effective

way of saving lives – it also reduces pressure on hospital A&E services. It relies on mobile communication between the agencies and access to effective location-based tools.” Incidents are increasingly predictable. Apparently the place to avoid is Victoria Station at 9am on a Monday, as significantly more people have a heart attack then. For traffic black-spots the most efficient way of dealing with accidents is to have a paramedic permanently at the location;

“Likewise the public want to see police officers on the beat. A good example is a neighbourhood that was being terrorised by yob behaviour in a park. The force placed a ‘bobby’ on the park bench in his fluorescent jacket. The trouble stopped, and while he was sitting there the policeman solved a crime. Looking up the electoral roll he managed to prove that a suspect was giving a false identity and he arrested the bloke on the way back to the station.” Bobbett sees opportunities for more value-added services being offered on the infrastructure and points out that 40 per cent of the police officers are in the two year probationary period – a new generation adept at using technology… long as you can operate it wearing gloves!

“First aid at the kerbside is not just an effective way of saving lives – it also reduces pressure on hospital A&E services..” 13

the future of wireless conference report

7 Mobile transactions Neil Garner, Proxama Proxama is developing a mobile transactional device that offers a convergence between a mobile technology and a smart card. It provides near field communication with a handset. An application could include a next generation Oyster card that can be used for payments.


“RFID is the main catalyst, because it is already in use on Oyster cards, in banking systems etc and it is simple and easy.....” Broadcom, Freeview, Nokia and the US Government.

Left: Mark Oakden, Pocket Places.

“We are working backwards from our vision of the future. The next big thing for mobiles will be to touch them to stuff and things happen instantly on your phone. This includes things like payment terminals, so your phone becomes the thing you can’t leave home without. “RFID is the main catalyst, because it is already in use on Oyster cards, in banking systems etc and it is simple and easy.” Pocket Places Mark Oakden, Pocket Places Ltd. The tourist guide that is instantly accessible, Pocket Places offers six locations and 39,000 users. Its revenue model is localised advertising based on recommendations from the travel guide. It is free and easy-to-use and allows the delivery of multimedia content in the form of audio, video, text and images. Test bed Graham Norgett, CELLMetric A test bed for mobile applications to ensure they meet global standards. Clients include BBC,


Image -based searching Chris Wade, Mobile Acuity

Below: Neil Garner, Proxama.

A novel way of searching using image recognition. Camera is used for image processing. The server provides recognition and processing.

the future of wireless conference report


radio the next big thing

‘We are on the edge of the same kind of transition that the telecoms industry was facing in the 1980s...........” Below:

Radio is next big thing

David Cleevely.

The world is on the brink of a wireless technology breakthrough that will have as much impact as the Internet revolution of the 1980s. By 2050, wireless technology will be unfettered by restrictions in architecture or spectrum – and hundreds of low power radio devices will connect and help to control every aspect of

our lives, predicts Dr David Cleevely, telecoms expert and chairman of Cambridge Wireless. ‘The scene is set for radio devices to become quite intelligent and to have a different architecture. This will enable us to do things costeffectively that we simply cannot do now. It will open up huge opportunities,’ he says. Cleevely describes how he anticipates a step change in

wireless technology that will unlock a range of applications not yet considered: ‘Just as we have become used to having microprocessor chips in everything from the fridge to the door bell, so every individual will own hundreds of radios, all working together to do fantastic things. ‘We are on the edge of the same kind of transition that the telecoms industry was facing in the 1980s but it didn’t really know it,’ he says. He believes this change will result from the further evolution and combination of two existing technologies – namely, cognitive radio (which will enable many devices to efficiently co-exist, just like they can do when attached to the Internet), and mesh networks (which will enable devices to organise themselves into networks, and transform the economics of radio just as cellular systems did before). ‘Originally it was believed that to make wireless transmissions we needed high radio masts, to broadcast at high power and use the same spectrum all the way to the end user. This limits the amount of traffic the system can accommodate. ‘A breakthrough came with the idea of cells, each containing a full range of spectrum, so the smaller the cells, the more mobile phone conversations you could make. This has resulted in the situation we have now – with thousands and thousands of people able to make calls within a square kilometre.


the future of wireless conference report

8 ‘Cognitive radio builds on this breakthrough by being both intelligent and polite. It has a system of simple rules to see who is doing what and how it can interact with them. Introduce the concept of cognitive radio and you start to get a system which can react continuously to the amount of activity, just as the Internet does today’ he explains. Cognitive radio technology is already being used to some extent in 3G and in defence applications, but its potential – to intelligently react and adjust to optimise the available spectrum – has yet to be fully realised. ‘The potential for cognitive radio is exciting,’ continues Cleevely. ‘If the devices can intelligently negotiate with each other and also “hop” to other frequencies as required, then the current problems of compatibility and interference will be largely overcome.’

radio the next big thing

“The scene is set for radio devices to become quite intelligent and to have a different architecture.....” The other element of the equation is mesh networks. This is where radio devices connect with each other instead of via a base station, creating the opportunity for comprehensive wireless networks to be created within homes, buildings, or on board a ship, for example. ‘In a mesh network, every radio acts as a switch for every other radio. They talk to each other in sequence,’ says Cleevely. ‘3G devices can already work out where others are, and if you have further development of cognitive systems, radios will twitter together to self organise into a network – and job done!

‘For an engineer this is a very elegant solution as it doesn’t require you to optimise just for one specific set of conditions, which is an enormous benefit. At the moment the position of basestations needs to be carefully calculated. All you need is for a tree to grow between them and reduce the signal strength or a new building to act as a reflector, spoiling your carefully laid plans. These systems will simply work out how to solve these problems themselves.’ The next step is the really exciting one. These little intelligent radios only require extremely low power. Vibration or light will be sufficient to charge them and they can be located wherever you want them. This is good news for the developers of assisted living and healthcare applications. Cleevely explains that, although simple, little radio devices could potentially achieve a great deal. ‘Ants only have a few rules but they can achieve sophisticated operations.

Left: David Cleevely and David

I think these radio devices will also be capable of great things that have yet to be imagined.’ He believes there are, however, still a few obstacles along the way: ‘The big challenge is – how do we make it all work?’



the future of wireless conference report

“It turns out that people aren’t actually prepared to pay even a tenth of the price that was paid in the 3G auctions...” that I’ve been talking about. There is no shortage of spectrum – shortage only exists because of artificial constraints and restrictions due to regulating what spectrum can be used for. He adds: ‘It’s always a trade-off. Operators will choose between deploying more equipment or buying more spectrum. If equipment is cheap, then it’s not worth paying much for extra spectrum. Equipment and transmission are getting cheaper, and technology is becoming more sophisticated. Once regulators stop saying what spectrum can and cannot be used for, there’s no reason to pay a lot for a once in a lifetime opportunity to offer a service. If someone wants too much for spectrum, use what you have got more efficiently by deploying more kit. The spectrum price will then fall.’

Above: Stirling Essex.

In the medium term the big issue is the interface between the radio device and the rest of the network, and David sees the need for international standards to facilitate this. One thing he does not foresee is another 3G auction. ‘It turns out that people aren’t actually prepared to pay even a tenth of the price that was paid in the 3G auctions,’ he comments. ‘The value of spectrum is going to go down and down and down. And the reason is the architecture

‘But there is a wrinkle in all this. If you slice up the spectrum into too small chunks, they become more difficult to use. You need big slices available for this market to work. Problems are also generated by other things – for example the UK spectrum will be different from the US. In the immediate term, Cleevely sees a thriving market for mobile phones. ‘There will always be a multiplicity of market segments and they will

all require handsets aligned to their requirements,’ he says. ‘There are nearly 500 different kinds of mobiles in the UK alone. ‘Perhaps the best example of the range of possibilities is the Apple iPhone, something which can almost supplant for a lot of purposes the PC or the laptop. It has a fantastic interface and it’s applying some interesting business models. But despite that the iPhone is not a perfect gadget – its radio is nothing like as good as, say, a Nokia, which means there are lots of places you can’t make or receive calls. ‘In the long-term these new technology developments will open up even more opportunities than we’ve seen or can dream of.’ He regards his iPhone lovingly and then concludes: ‘Engineering is about making amazing things at the lowest possible cost. We use the results of engineering all the time, but I don’t understand why, particularly in the UK, we don’t really appreciate how fantastic some of this stuff is and what engineering does for us. The sheer genius of what’s inside an iPhone – or any other mobile – is amazing.’ Stirling Essex, Future Wide Area Wireless SIG “The SIG is looking at future systems and related activities like spectrum allocations and the standards people apply, which are very important. We are bridging the gap between policy, technology and the commercial reality – there needs to be a consensus for us to move forward. We need a clear path with everyone’s buy-in.”


the future of wireless conference report

9 App Cache - an application can increase performance by storing in memory data that is accessed frequently and that requires significant processing time to create. Android - a software platform for mobile devices, powered by the Linux kernel, initially developed by Google and later the Open Handset Alliance. Cloud computing - a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Data rate - the average number of bits, characters, or blocks per unit time passing between equipment in a data transmission system. This is typically measured in multiples of the units bit per second or byte per second. There was much talk about ‘huge data rates’. DTT – digital terrestrial television DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting - Handheld) is one of three prevalent mobile TV formats

gl o s sa r y

Long Tail – a powerful new economic force in a world where the Internet allows access to almost unlimited choice. LTE - Long Term Evolution, the 4th generation mobile broadband standard, successor to UMTS (3G) Mashup is a Web application that combines data or functionality from two or more sources into a single integrated application. Time shifting – watching a recorded TV programme which could be short form – 5 to 10 minute video, Long form – TV programme Personalisation – data, applications and ‘desktop’ Slingbox - a TV streaming device that enables users to remotely view their home's cable, satellite, or personal video recorder (PVR) programming from an Internetenabled computer with a broadband Internet connection. It is produced by Sling Media of San Mateo, California. SDK – software development kit

Fathead applications – name of a new iPhone developer. Femtocell - a small cellular base station, typically designed for use in residential or small business environments. Flat data – this is made up of names and corresponding values (often called name-value pairs) with a series of variables each being assigned a single value. Unlike structured data (such as XML) or relational data (like most databases support).

Widget – web technology makes it easier to develop applications White-space devices - white spaces refer to frequencies allocated to a broadcasting service but not used locally. Devices that don’t interfere with assigned broadcasts can use white spaces in a spectrum. W3C - World Wide Web Consortium, the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web

Reporting and content: Holdsworth Associates, Design: Richard Bowring,


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