* Posts by Dino Saur

51 publicly visible posts • joined 14 Dec 2009


Hydrogen on demand from silicon nanospheres - just add water

Dino Saur

Doesn't this defeat the purpose ...?

The whole point of hydrogen cell technology is to use the hydrogen as the energy storage element. The 'green' principle is to generate the hydrogen from 'renewable*' sources such as a simple solar reactor. And then you have water as the waste material from the fuel cell.

But what they do here is expend a ton of energy from traditional sources to create silicon balls (at what level of efficiency??) then generate hydrogen by chemical reaction (at what level of energy efficiency?), then use the hydrogen to power a fuel cell. They are using the silicon as the energy storage element rather than the hydrogen, and then they have silica sludge as a waste product.

On the plus side, I suppose the silicon might be safer to store and manage than a hydrogen storage tank. But if it generates so much hydrogen when in contact with water, that doesn't sound like the sort of thing that I let the average user handle.


*good luck with 'renewing' that solar energy source

Gov to spread mobile masts to remote corners of Blighty

Dino Saur

Why so expensive? Why so cheap? Why pay at all?

Couple of points or three:

1) I thought we already had c. 99% pop coverage for 2G. It's the geographic coverage (i.e. for the sheep) that's much less than that. So why is the government spending any money at all.

2) A typical site cost around £100k to build from scratch, so that's an extra 1500 new sites, or a generous 3000 sites if they do it on the cheap. Estimates for >95% pop coverage for 3G go from 5000 to 15000 new sites (or reuse of 2G sites) depending on who is selling or buying, so 3000 sites just aren't enough to extend rural 3G coverage.

3) Why should the public purse subsidise the mobile operators who make billions? Perhaps a quick investigation into MTR and profiteering closely followed by a discussion on 'public service duty for rural areas' might make the MNOs sit up and 'do the right thing' all by themselves.

Nokia ditches letters for all-number names

Dino Saur

Well maybe not quite "ahem" ...


One small fact you blithely ignored was that Technophone was the name of an independent company bought by Nokia in 1991. Nokia did not name their phones "Technophone", but quickly withdrew the product line and actually converted the production line over to BTS. That was the original Nokia BTS factory site in Camberley.

But don't let me stand in the way of a prejudiced rant.


Huawei celebrates UK win with Everything Everywhere

Dino Saur

What an inaccurate xenophobic rant!

"For "handle" substitute "intercept and direct to China"." Err, no it doesn't work that way. Transport networks are different from basestations and are controlled by a separate management system. The IP connection travels over secure leased lines or microwave links, not the internet. The operator monitors the traffic and won't allow connections e.g. to unknown chinese sites.

"I really don't understand this obsession with outsourcing everything of any importance to foreign companies" - This isn't an outsourcing deal, it's an equipment sale. EE or their managed service provider (Ericsson?) will be in control of the network.

"Are we really incapable of doing things for ourselves anymore?" Short answer is no, and that's been the case for many years. Only Vodafone has a corporate HQ based in the UK and I can't remember a time when operators used equipment designed and built by a UK company. EE's previous suppliers have all been foreign, and most UK network management has been outsourced to a Swedish company.

Are you a Daily Mail reader by any chance?

Dino Saur

Don't worry, be happy

That's not the idea. 2G will not be switched off, but will be upgraded. Technology has moved on Orange rolled-out their network (which I was involved in in a small way) and newer basestations (regardless of supplier) improve the network performance.

This deal doesn't touch 3G cells, due to the complex agreements between EE and Three. If they do upgrade 3G, they'll increase the signal power and switch to UMTS900 to improve coverage by a sizeable margin.

Huawei smacks ZTE with patent and trademark lawsuits

Dino Saur

Just a little pedantic ...

Huawei are an equipment supplier, so really they are not sending a bot to your website. That'll be that UK company, TalkTalk, who've decided to act contrary to the laws you quote. So your comment about Huawei is targeted at the the wrong company. At the moment it is not generally illegal to supply technology which could be used for snooping on others, rather it is the snooping which is the naughty part.

Second point is that HuaweiSymantec are a joint venture, but I didn't see your complaint about the US parent company, Symantec. They are just as responsible for the technology used to harvest your web content.

This is like the arms industry - do you complain about the people who make the weapons or the people who use them? It's a mucky business all round.

Leaked US cables finger Chinese army hackers for cyber-spying

Dino Saur

Not so scary, maybe.

"Websites associated with attacks dating back to 2006 were registered using the same postal code in the central Chinese town of Chengdu that is used by the People's Liberation Army Chengdu Province First Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (TRB)"

Is it just me or is this too stupid to be true. A 'secret spy agency' decides to cyber atack everyone and the first thing they do is register their attack websites to their own, known address??

Next point, they got away with 50 MB of data from emails. That's less than 50 emails where I work (due to MS bloatware).

Watch out world! Those are some scary spies!

China plays follow the phone

Dino Saur

And how is this is different from TomTom?

According to one associate, TomTom already collect mobile data for traffic purposes across Europe. They pay for the operators to provide them "anonomised location data" which can be used to estimate traffic flows e.g. location updates for mobile A suggest it takes 5 minutes to travel along a path that looks like the M4.

As you mention, legal intercept facilities already exist in all mobile networks and can track a user far more easily than this sort of system, so suggesting anything nefarious sounds like scare mongering. I think it's just another case of copying an idea from a Western company.

Huawei invites US gov to investigate links to Chinese military claims

Dino Saur

Army stakes

1) Are you saying that the US Army or (insert your favourite army here) does not have any influence on the compnies they spend billions with, even if they don't have shares?

2) Do you think the 'secret services' don't have an influence on the telecoms companies in every country (à la Egypt)?

3) Could you please give a link to Huawei's ownership so I can check how much the PLA owns?

I'm more concerned about the very large state-backed loans from the chinese government - that's the communist party, not the PLA. Try to get the propaganda right.

(Is it just me, or is the FAIL icon vastly overused these day?)

Telstra dropkicks femtocell business model

Dino Saur

So this business of femtos and data offload, how does it work?

One major problem with the whole idea of femtos and offload is that they're not really designed for it. Since the leading application is coverage extension (in city basement flats for example), femtos are designed to be mini basestations. That means they prioritise voice connections.

So, if a Vodafone SureSignal supports four active users, you don't have much chance of a data connection if you live with, for example, three daughters and a wife. (Cue remarks about sexism and ignore empirical evidence of rather large phone bills.)

And since you are reliant on your DSL connection (and all of its evil fair usage policies), you might have a problem if your son is streaming video while you are trying to use your femto for your own video streaming. (Not to mention the BW consuming IP security packing that femtos use to talk back to the network.)

Fine if you're the only one in the house - download your pron all you like. But wouldn't you like to see it on the large screen you've connected to your PC rather than the small handheld screen on your smartphone?

I'm yet to be convinced, as you might have guessed. Let's not even talk about the outdoor hotspot femtos recently mentioned in the trade press.

Dino Saur

That would be true but for one fact ...

... in remote areas DSL is as rare as the proverbial. Handing out femtos to people in remote areas will have zero effect on coverage, or offload if anybody cares.

ADSL for speeds over 2Mbps has a range of roughly 5 km of line length, which often is a much shorter linear distance, as the lines tend to wander. Normally femtos require at least 1 Mbps DSL to work (if you believe the advertising), but don't try downloading any big files while on a call.

In comparison, a decently designed cell site can have a range of 10 km or more linear distance from the cell site for the same data speed. (Some companies claim 2 Mbps at cell ranges exceeding 30 km with special designs). I suppose you could backhaul your femto over a 3G link with an external antenna if you really tried. But for voice coverage, you get the full cell range ("full" allowing for indoor penetration loss) in any case.

So how do femtos solve anything apart from woeful 3G coverage in cities?

Openistas question UK.gov's £300k crime-mapping website

Dino Saur

Only following orders excuse ...

"I agree that someone should have planned for this, but the development company can only work within the constraints imposed by the contract". "If they have delivered what they were asked to deliver, then they have done what they were paid to do."

That's not really professional and quite a risky strategy. Firstly , as a designer, you have a duty to inform the client of potential risks to the product, especially if there are potential liability issues (maybe not in this particular case). Secondly, you've opened a massive door for litigation and damages on the basis that you've knowing delivered a non-working product even if it is strictly according to contract. "Nobody asked us to make a system that works with more than 3 simultaneous connections" isn't going to wash with anybody when any professional worth his/her salt knows better.

Just a pity they didn't have anybody competent negotiating from the government side. Stick a couple of seasoned commercial supply chain people into the goverment team and they'd never have to pay for this sort of work again.

Ofcom clears way for 3G kit on 2G spectrum

Dino Saur

If I might disagree ...

Operators have been testing kit for a few years now, so they don't need to roll-out a "few test sites". It's already done.

Market rumour says O2 already have equipment in the field ready for a launch. Voda on the other hand are stuck with old Ericsson kit which can't be upgraded to UMTS 900 (so it is said). But it will happen sooner than later, since UMTS coverage is generally poor and GSM900 operators can get big benefits from UMTS900. To the customer, they can't tell (and don't care) which frequency they are using, so there isn't really a negative market issue - just migrate people over if they have a capable device.

In GSM1800, the situation is different. Why deploy UMTS 1800 when it isn't much better than UMTS2100? Better to skip to LTE. In either case, a new deployment is needed.

Expect a major upgrade program from everyman & dog over the next 2 years. That's quite a short time in network terms.

Crazed reindeer stalks, attacks Scottish woman with antlers

Dino Saur

But surely ...

... the reindeer wouldn't have attacked her if she wasn't wearing antlers?!

My coat please. Mine's the reindeer leather one with a bottle of Koskenkorva in the pocket.

Chinese telecoms giant furiously scrubs links to Phorm

Dino Saur

Perhaps a stupid question, but ...

"Anyone notice how the GreenNet system 'phones home' to update 'databases'...?


"Updates the DPI signature library, URL classification database, malicious Web site database at Huawei security update website in real time. The update does not require intervention and is easy to operate and manage."

Sorry for being dumb, but can you tell me a) how this is different from the updates done but other security products and b) how do you build a system like this that can operate effectively without some form of updates?

I can understand people's concerns about the whole topic of DPI & privacy etc., but is the whole 'it's a Chinese company so must be bad' thing really necessary? Do you really think for one minute that companies like Cisco, Juniper, Ericsson and NSN don't have equivalent products and tecnologies and haven't been testing them with every man and his dog?

Where is the icon for "I'm totally exasperated with people's ability to ignore the truth in front of their nose"?

Ofcom explains the not in the not-spot

Dino Saur

Another wedge of cash for the consultants ...

"... concludes that operators aren't building out 2G coverage anymore and that they only build 3G networks where there are customers to use them.

That might sound obvious, it certainly does to us."

What another waste of money by Ofcom. Let's see - we have commercial companies who have a duty to make money for their shareholders. They have a choice to deploy a site or not, so what criteria do they use? Big surprise - does it make money or not. (Perhaps Ofcom expects Tesco to open a store in the middle of nowhere just in case somebody might need it someday.)

Why pay anyone to find an answer to that, and all the consultants do is go and ask the operators? I could do just as well at a fraction of the cost with a research project using a bunch of students.

I'm sure there are a few sites that do not recover their cost e.g. the ones in the houses of all of the directors and other 'VIPs', but these are strategic (or so they say).

Otherwise it's down to the business case and even 'inability to get planning permission' is just resolved by financial analysis - is there an alternative site that we can use that brings in enough money.

Re AC 5th November 2010 14:23, the article says "they only build 3G networks where there are [potential] customers to use them" i.e. there is no point building in areas where there are not enough customers to make a financial return. A similar criteria is used to decide on DSL unbundling.

Stealth Carbon 'efficiency' tax could close UK data centres

Dino Saur
Thumb Down

Please try to keep some consistency in your arguments ...

"The government bureaucrats don't realise that broadband communications mean it's just as feasible to operate your lights-out data centre in Dubai, Brazil, India or Malaysia as it is to operate it in London's Docklands. The stealth CRC tax is effectively a tax on UK data centre jobs as well as on the UK's data centres"

I thought the whole point of a 'lights out' facility was that they required very few live bodies to maintain them - nobody can work when the lights are out! Your argument might make more sense if you try to quantify the losses in revenue and jobs rather than making wild predictions of disaster.

Second point, data centre operators could **make their centres more efficient**, thus saving money on power and avoiding the carbon tax. And they would generate much less indirect pollution. As a tax payer, I'm all for reducing the tax burden from cleaning up after other people. Carbon tax might be a dodgy concept, but it's time that people started paying for the mess they cause. Try looking up 'externality' on wikipedia.

Femtocells outnumber proper mobe towers in US

Dino Saur

But let's look at this in perspective ...

According to Wikipedia, there are 285 million subscribers in the US, and AT&T have about 25% of the market (if the interweb doesn't lie). 350,000 people have bought (or were given) a femto i.e. <<1%. That's in country with decent DSL (or similar) and with a reputation for poor coverage - 256,000 macro basestations to cover 3.5 million square miles, and it's still a poor ratio if you exclude the most unpopulated areas. (In the UK, there are about 10,000 sites to cover 50,000 square miles.)

Femto is a lovely little idea, but really isn't that big a deal. As someone mentioned, they only support maybe four subscribers, so you'd need maybe 100 times as many femto to carry as much traffic as the macro basestations. Parity in numbers might be a selling point for the Femto Forum, but really it's meaningless.

Dino Saur

Backhaul isn't always free, that's why

Can't speak for AT&T mobile and AT&T fixed lines, but certainly in the UK there's a hell of a lot of leased lines used for mobile backhaul. One UK operator (guess who) is suggested to have less than 50% as it's own build, and a rough estimate puts backhaul transmission down as a quarter of the operating costs for each basestation using leased lines. So femto would make a lot of business sense for them - no landlord fees, no backhaul cost, no power cost.

And some people are willing to pay to save you money!

Regarding the 'backend equipment', known as the HNB Gateway for the 3G femto architecture, it actually looks like an RNC and interfaces to existing switch equipment through standard interfaces. Considering it can manage 10,000s of devices, the marginal cost per user is not that high. Don't know about any US variations e.g. CDMA versions.

Qualcomm grasps for gold while turning silver

Dino Saur

LTE /= 3G

I was going to have a go at AC, but you beat me to it.

You forgot to mention the fundamental architecture differences, such as - the RNC in 3G being replaced by, well, nothing in LTE; direct interconnection between BTS in LTE using the X2 interface; and a number of simplifications in the core which I don't care about as I'm a radio man.

But the final comment "Existing UK GSM licences only allow GSM. Not 3G or LTE" deserves a riposte. The "GSM" 900 band has already been liberalised by EU edict and OFCOM have already been threatened with legal action for not allowing UMTS in the band already (should have started by March this year). The same liberalisation should apply to the "GSM" 1800 band which is mostly licensed to the Ora-bile Hybrid (TM). With 70 MHz of spectrum to play with, it should be easy to slip in an LTE carrier or two without affecting GSM capacity that much.

And an un-named operator is rumoured to be rolling out UMTS 900 hardware across the UK as we type.

Ofcom gives 3G upgrade thumbs-up

Dino Saur

Two way indeed

1. Your assumption seems to be that 3G is uplink limited. That could be the case for some sites, but you are forgetting that the downlink TX power is distributed across all user, while the entire UE power is used for one user. If you consider a) the EIRP limit is a hard limit and margins for BTS power variation and feeder cable loss variation reduce the nominal allowed TX power (by around 3 dB), b) the UE sensitivity is much worse that a BTS (which has diversity receivers), and c) a single cell-carrier can serve maybe 80 simultaneous voice users (i.e. per user power could be 19 dB below total power), then your implied assertion of uplink limitation is weak.

But that point is really moot. If the EIRP is increased by increasing the antenna gain by 3 dB, then both the uplink and downlink improve and the cell size increases by around 20%.

Also, data flows are normally asymmetric, even in these days of uploading videos to YouTube, and more power is needed per user to support the higher data rates on the downlink, again going against the implication of uplink limitation.

2. I wasn't suggesting removing 2G sites. I was talking about the cost of putting 3G onto existing 2G sites and the increased costs of running that site. Please read more carefully.

Your point about MIMO is interesting. I haven't heard if OFCOM ruled whether the EIRP limit applied to each antenna or each sector. With the former, there is no need to reduce the TX power per antenna with MIMO (except for operational reasons in a capacity limited cluster); with the latter, you are right that they would now be able to increase the useful range for MIMO by utilising the extra 3dB.

Dino Saur

Depends on what you consider 'not much'

Looking at pure coverage (the main problem with current 3G networks), 3dB is equal to about a 20% increase in downlink cell range for a given performance point, or 44% increase in cell area if you prefer. That's a 31% reduction in the number of cell sites required to cover a given area.

If you consider that Orange and T-mobile had about 12000 GSM1800 sites each (pre-EE) to cover the UK, and 3G is operating at 2100 MHz, 31% is about 4340 fewer sites for ~95% population coverage*. If you take an arbitrary build cost of £100k per site (new site, rather than re-using a 2G site) that's saving an operator about £434 million just on build costs. Re-using 2G sites reduces the cost by 50%, say, taking us down to say £217 million savings on roll-out costs.

Then you have to consider the operational costs per site per year, say £10-20k per site per year. For 4000 odd sites, that's £40-80 million per year.

So the operators could each save a conservative estimate of £400 million over 5 years (double that at the top end estimate). That might even be enough to convince them to roll 3G out into (some) rural areas.

Want to tell me your definition of 'not much'?



*Of course, this only considers 3G voice services. High rate data needs a much higher density of sites, so the 3dB increase in EIRP saves a lot more sites.

Vodafone announces 4G roll-out for Germany

Dino Saur

... and probably the same in the UK

- http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/spectrum/project-pages/ddr/

- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/03/11/uk_spectrum_plan/

Dino Saur

Digital dividend band

800 MHz

- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/05/21/german_4g_auction/

- http://www.bundesnetzagentur.de/cln_1911/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/EN/2010/100830AllotmentFrequBlocks.html?nn=48242

Vodafone tunes Wi-Fi hotspot dongle

Dino Saur

Answer to Huawei E5

"The R201 is the carrier's answer to the likes of Three's MiFi - aka the Huawei E5"

If you click the link you can see this is another Huawei device (look at the instructions for inserting the SIM card.

Don't know which device it is, but it could be the E5 in a Vodafone customised box. In which case their answer is "me too". More details on the difference in spec would be nice if you can find them.

Dino Saur

egocentric thinking

If you are the only person needing a connection, then that is a possibility. As some else says, you might not want to leave you phone at home so that you kids can surf the interweb thingy.

I can also see a bunch of business applications, like instant LAN for off-site meetings or temporary buildings. Of course, you might do this with one phone as a hotspot, but that might involve a lot of set up of security if you don't want every nearby hacker to listen in.

Facebook login page still leaks sensitive info

Dino Saur

Worse culprits than FB

Bad for Facebook to FAIL like this, but there are worse out there.

Take for example MBNA Online Banking (https://www.bankcardservices.co.uk/NASApp/NetAccessXX/LoginProcess), who manage many types of credit card. They changed their login from the usual username and password on the front page to separate pages for the name and password. This was done to enhance security, so they say (https://www.bankcardservices.co.uk/NASApp/NetAccessXX/InfoScreen?key=helpLink&helpKey=wherePassword&newSession=true)

"We have changed the way you log on to Online Banking to better safeguard the privacy and security of your personal information. You will now be prompted for your user name and password on 2 different screens. This will help confirm your identity before you enter your password."

If you enter a correct username, you are taken to the password page, which you can exit without making a login attempt. However, enter a random username and you get the following message

"Incorrect user name


There was a problem processing your request. The user name you entered does not match our records. Please re-enter your user name. Please try again."

I did point out to them that this was in fact a worse security system than before, but their only answer was "we lock accounts after 3 incorrect passwords". A letter of complaint got a series of letters saying they were investigating the problem and finally they replied that they had completed their investigation and passed my comments to their security department. Needless to say, I don't have an account with them any more.

Cell phone eavesdropping enters script-kiddie phase

Dino Saur

Bit of an understatement

"It has yet to be adopted as mobile operators fret that the change will be expensive and won't work on older handsets."

What you mean is that it will cost the operator a whole new network (or biggest part thereof) and won't work with any handset designed which doesn't incorporate A5/3. That's something you more than 'fret' about. At least for the cost aspect.

Operators **don't care** that it doesn't work with most handsets. They only care when their biggest corporate customers start to get scared that someone can listen to their calls. They have introduced counter-measures against A5/1 cracking, but they generally only increase the time taken, not prevent it. When they introduce A5/3, do you think we'll see any adverts about improved security? No, it'll only be discussed with the types who want more security.

But look out for some of our biggest and oldest mobile operators suddenly announcing major upgrade programs for their networks.

Huawei accused of corporate theft

Dino Saur
Black Helicopters

More likely to be the other way round these days

As I hear it, many mobile operators think that Chinese companies are no longer copying their western competitors, but have overtaken them in the technology race. If rumours are true, these companies are now rated more highly than Ericsson and NSN in terms of their capability. So much so, that the old big two are now copying the Chinese.

Undoubtedly, Chinese culture has less respect for Intellectual Property (whatever that really means), but now they must be paranoid about espionage. A friend in one Chinese company reported that all of his USB ports were controlled and encrypted, and his DVD burner had been locked down and the driver replaced with a CD ROM driver. There is also talk that online storage is inaccessible from inside the company and that every transaction is logged and analysed.

It is somewhat hypocritical, though, to only point the finger at Chinese companies when talking about industrial espionage. After all, they are only copying what western companies have been doing for years. I reckon it will take another 5 years before they'll be as competent as the US in logging all of our data.

Wireless mics get national frequency early

Dino Saur
Thumb Down

More people looking for handouts in a recession ...

"What would really smooth the process would be some clarity on the amount that PMSE users can expect to receive to cover the cost of the replacement kit, as they are the ones being asked to move."

I expect them to get just the same amount as all those people who had to buy new equipment for the digital switch-over i.e. diddly squat. This isn't a new idea, so why would anything thinking person have been investing in narrowband kit? That's just plain silly.

In any case, businesses have another two years to write off the asset, which is probably based on a maximum 5 year write-off period (seriously, does this stuff really last that long when used for professional PMSE?). So, if I was the troll in charge, I'd say you could have the fraction of the asset remaining on the books after 2012 (based on a sensible write-off period), but only for kit bought before the consultation started two years ago. And, of course, only for the radio or other parts that have to be changed.

And just remind me, how much do the PMSE users pay for the spectrum that they've been camping on for the last few years? Around £4.25 per channel per day IIRC. Perhaps Ofcom should let them stay at channel 69 and charge them the going rate which is around €15000 per MHz per day, if Germany is anything to go by. (€0.5 billion for 5 MHz spread over 20 years, if I got the calculation about correct.)

Or maybe we should go ahead with the auction and pay off some of that ridiculous national debt that the government is responsible for.

Bill defines 'personal information' to avoid strengthening DPA penalties

Dino Saur

Quid pro quo ...

Easy to complain about the UK, but I can't see your point. If I want a residence visa for the US, it costs money, and not just for the visa, but also for all of the admin fees. If I work in the US and move back to the UK, I have to pay US tax as well as UK tax, even though I am non-resident in the US and not a US citizen - that's US tax law. And do I have rights to vote in a US election? I haven't tried, so I don't know, but I'm guessing I don't.

So not much difference from your wife's case.

So your wife is ticked off, so what. You make your lifestyle choices and pay the price. If you don't want to pay the price, make different choices. That's the way of the world, so quit complaining because you don't like the price.

You don't say how long your wife has been resident in the UK. If it is long enough, she can always apply for British citizenship. Then she wouldn't have to pay those silly fees and would have a right to vote (and maybe wouldn't have to pay US taxes?). That's another lifestyle choice - become a citizen of the country where you choose to live, work, pay taxes and enjoy the resulting benefits (if any), or maintain allegiance to a country to which you are related by accident of birth. Each choice has its costs, but it's still your choice.

L'Orange and T'Mobile: Together at last

Dino Saur

... Gone Swedish

Perhaps you haven't been keeping up with the news.

1) T-Mobile and 3 formed a joint venture called MBNL (Mobile Broadband Network Limited, IIRC) to run their 3G networks, pushed their staff into it, then outsourced the services to Ericsson - TUPE'ing the ex-staff on the way.

2) T-Mobile also have a Service contract with Ericsson for the 2G network - more staff TUPE'd across.

(TUPE rules prevent the recipients of the outsource contract from firing transferred staff for 2 years, I think).

So T-mobile have downsized quite a lot while Orange maintained their services inside the company.

No doubt the new merged company will do a similar outsourcing exercise to Ericsson. That way they can avoid the bad publicity of 'rationalising' staff.

Look out for redundancies in Ericsson 2 years after the outsourcing when the TUPE limits expire.

Lower termination rates will bring pricey data

Dino Saur

Is this really going to have such a big effect?

El Reg, while you were looking at the (soon to be made obsolete) OFCOM website, you could have checked out the additional data available e.g. http://www.ofcom.org.uk/research/cm/tables/q3_2009/

A quick analysis would show that mobile interconnection call volumes for the big 4 operators (which I admit I only assume is the same as terminated calls) is around 12 billion minutes, but the calls to mobiles from the big fixed operators is 3 billion minutes.

I'll take a wild guess here and say that the remaining 9 billion minutes of terminated calls are mobile to mobile cross-net calls using bundled minutes. That means that the operators are paying each other termination fees and if e.g. Vodafone customers call O2 customers the same number of minutes that O2 customers call Vodafone customers, then the net result is no cost to either company, but a big plus on the reported revenues.

So a reduction in termination fees is likely to have more effect on headline revenue figures than profits, and the operators will have the same amount of cashflow if they want to invest in 4G (or just renew those ancient things they call 2G networks).

Dino Saur

Another LB

I'll stick my hand up as another person who only tops up a PAYG twice a year. Two main reasons:

1) when I'm working I use my work mobile

2) when I'm at home I use the land line

My personal mobile is useful for those few occasions e.g. when my wife and I go out separately and need to contact each other. Since my O2 top up gives me an extra bunch of free minutes, I find it hard to burn up more than £2 - £3 a month.

Of course the other reason is that I don't actually have the time to download pr0n and other stuff, or call my mates every five minutes. That's the trouble with being a 'lazy bastard' who spends too much time working and the rest trying to have a family life.

Oh, one more thing. I pay O2 £10 or £15 and then don't use the service. They hardly need a network at all to serve people like me and I'm hardly likely to move operators. That means they make more profit from me than those people who try to use their full bundle of free minute or MB every month, or rate tarts who jump around every 12 months. The people who are killing 'unlimited' mobile broadband are the heavy users who don't pay for their excesses (don't start me on iPhones and BBs).

Google now owns location advertising

Dino Saur

Well, that's not news

Lots of people have patented the obvious in the US.

But for the record, we can trace the idea of location-based advertising back at least to 2001.

Here's one paper from Helsinki University of Technology:


"Location-aware services are "push" services where the user’s position or proximity to another object triggers some event or defines some condition. One example of location-aware services is location-based marketing, where for example advertisement is send to the terminals approaching the restaurant."

Note that this was published in conference, so is public domain.

I'm sure that anyone with an interest can just use this paper as a starting point to dig out a whole host of published papers on the topic (just search for the paper title or authors and check where it is cited).

The key points of the patent (in short):

"the method comprising: a) accepting geolocation information associated with the request; b) comparing, the accepted geolocation with geolocation targeting information associated with the ad; c) determining the relevancy of the ad; d) controlling the serving of the ad using the determined relevancy of the ad; e) determining whether the ad has geolocation price corresponding to the geolocation; and f) if the ad has geolocation price information, determining a score using at least the geolocation price information, otherwise determining the score using at least general price information of the ad."

Everything from a to d is obvious location-based-services. The only inventive step I could imagine here is using the price info (how much is paid to Google) to select the ad, but that is a stretch. If you do not use price as a criteria e.g. use the priority assigned by the advertisers to a geographic area, the patent does not affect your solution. (The fact that you have 100000 priority levels and you may or may not charge the advertiser by priority is irrelevant).

Oops! Mobile masters of universe forget mobiles make phone calls

Dino Saur

Nice to see the modern thinkers are on-line

What makes you think they forgot?

Let's look at the history: first we had analogue mobile, which allowed people to make phone calls without a wire; then we got GSM which meant that we could actually make calls in a consistent way around the world (and had a bit more security than analogue). Then along came 3G to provide 'true data capability', but instead was used mostly for voice until we got decent rates with HSPA 5 years later.

So, today we have GSM with 99% coverage for VOICE, 3G with 60-80% VOICE coverage (depending on how you look at it), and 3G with 60% or less DATA coverage. Now mobile operators are facing a big challenge on DATA, since people realised they can and want to stream pr0n in their bedrooms on their mobiles. And the problem is only going to get worse (the data challenge, not the pr0n).

Enter LTE, whose biggest feature is the chance to have **up to** greater than 100 Mbps in a cell (no-one ever talks about voice capacity in LTE)

So the reality is

- you have nearly 100% voice coverage already (on well proven, robust and long ago paid for hardware)

- voice capacity is not a problem on >90% of the existing network

- you've got a major data challenge around the corner.

Do you

a) invest in a high-speed, high-capacity data only overlay network and slowly replace your trusted voice network once you have sufficient coverage and confidence, or

b) invest today a few billion extra to install a new IP-based voice network that isn't needed and still won't give you near 80% population coverage for over 5 years?

Most early observers and stakeholders have considered the first option the best, so LTE was designed to be a data network in the first instance, with an upgrade path to IP voice. It's not that anybody forgot, it's just not needed now.

p.s. you can always use a VoIP client (e.g. Skype) on top of the data only network if it really matters that much to you.

p.p.s. Have you seen the LTE terminals on offer today and near future? Not really pocket sized unless you have very big pockets (except for the USB sticks, and they don't have a keypad, speaker or screen).

Nokia No.2 is so sorry for N97 debacle

Dino Saur
IT Angle

Joke's on you

How dare you comment negatively about the great Aki Kaurismäki! Just because you don't understand the jokes doesn't mean there aren't any.

Try living in Finland for a few years and you'll be rolling on the floor laughing when you see a 10 minute comic scene done without a single spoken word except the occasional grunt.

(IT angle? because my comment has nothing to do with IT. I gave up on Nokia years ago. All of the engineers complained about quality, so the managers implemented a Quality Improvement Process. After a 'successful' project, the managers claimed massive improvements and got their big bonuses, but all the engineers knew that the quality was just as bad as before. You never get results where you want, only where you measure.)

Femtocells in spotlight as new route to LTE

Dino Saur

My question ...

"The demand for LTE femtocells is unquestionable."

I'm happy to prove him wrong.

- What's the difference between a Femto and normal BTS is LTE?

(Nothing, apart from output power)

- What's the cost advantage for backhaulling traffic from a Femto instead of a macro BTS?

(None, unless you get the dumb subscriber to pay for it)

- Why would I want to reduce my transmit power on a system that already has a shorter range due to higher frequency and higher data rates?

(I wouldn't, but what do I know)

- Why do I need an LTE femto (instead of a 3G Femto) in my house when my DSL is limited to 20 Mbps if I'm extremely lucky?

(I don't, because I don't want to change my 3G phone and dongle unless I can use it on the network OUTSIDE my house!!!)

"Femtocells represent the key to avoiding the difficulties surrounding the first 3G deployments where roll-outs cost too much, took too long and did not meet user expectations,"

- How exactly? You mean because the subscribers need to buy a Femto to get any coverage and will be limited to roaming within their four walls. Or the Operators have to send out 10 million Femtos for free instead of rolling out 5 - 10k macro BTS, and then we'll have brilliant indoor coverage (in 10 million locations) and no outdoor coverage. That makes a lot of sense then.

I really get fed up with these Femto guys trying to talk up the market. El Reg reports blatant propaganda from vested interest as news. The least you could do is balance off the article (unless you got paid more than 3 beers for the free advertising, of course).

CrackBerry mimics Jesus Phone with WebKit browser

Dino Saur

Questionable reading

"three BlackBerry browsing sessions for every other smartphone browsing session"

Don't see how you can interpret this as "every other user" or compare it to a Siemens S35.

If he's telling the truth then I'm all for it. Most 'smart'-phones have no understanding of radio resource and tend to grab all of the bandwidth just to send an occasional packet. BB've probably introduced some packet buffering and active transitions to idle/ 0 Mbps RAB so that the radio resources can be released and used by gramps to make a call on his S35. I suspect they've had some severe arm twisting from a major Operator or two, and some advice from the same (like "Stop crashing our London network or else!").

It's not difficult for these guys to design a real smartPHONE, but instead they give us an iPod or email reader with some generic phone bits attached. Might look cool to folks, but it's just bad engineering.

3G networks appeal for power boost

Dino Saur

It's a little thing called EIRP ...

That's 43 dBm **nominal** at the top of the basestation cabinet. Take off cable loss than add 18 dB of antenna gain gets you to around 60 dBm effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP). Antennas focus the power in one direction and that looks like a higher power radiated from a point source.

Then allow 2 to 3 dB for PAR, production tolerance and temperature variation, then you could bust the current limit.

From 40W, you get about 63 dBm EIRP, or higher if you increase the antenna gain or reduce the cable loss. Some people have been known to talk 60W per channel PAs.

Dino Saur

Take your own advice ...

I always love when people give 'expert advice'.

1) You are right that in a capacity limited network extra power does bugger all good, due to all of the cells interfering with each other. But for 3G, this applies to around 10% of the networks, mostly in the big cities.

Look at the stats. '3' have 12,000 sites to cover the UK. Everyone else has less than 7000. 3G coverage is patchy at best, so they are coverage limited. Half of the time (or more) you are actually making a call on a 2G network with a "3G" phone.

More power means larger cells (potentially).

[Actually cell size is determined by CPICH power, rather than max nominal PA power, but CPICH is usually 10% of the max nominal.]

2) At capacity, a single CDMA cell is power limited. Each code is allocated a certain amount of power to reach the scheduled user, and when you have a full set of users, the power for each is a fraction of the max nominal power. Since achievable throughput is related to the signal level at the receiver, increasing the total power and hence the power per code/user increases the throughput per user and, thus, the throughput and capacity of the cell. This is particularly the case with HSPA when CPICH is maintained at the same absolute level so that the cell size is not increased when the power is increased.

3) Capacity is only a problem in dense city areas. Operators are already using 2 or 3 channels in these areas, but the vast majority of 3G sites are only one channel. Operators can simply double capacity in most cells by adding a second channel without impacting the ICNIRP limits at all. They don't need to increase the power for capacity in these cases, so why would they waste money trying to change the rules? They wouldn't gain as much capacity and they'd still have to upgrade the basestation sites.

Increasing the power is more about coverage (including indoors) and reducing the number of sites needed to have a decent network.

Dino Saur

And the answer is ...

You don't need a balanced system for asymmetric traffic. Most internet traffic (including mobile) is downlink biased, so you need more downlink capacity than uplink. Same as your DSL connection.

Of course, as people upload more and more content, this will stop being true, but we are a long way from that.

More basestation power means more downlink capacity (& coverage), as long as you are not limited by interference.

Stop thinking of symmetrical services like voice or video calls and it'll all make sense.

Dino Saur

Not quite ...

6 dB is roughly four times the power, but you don't get the coverage. In free space, signal level decreases at 20 dB per decade of distance, so an extra 6dB would give you twice the distance and four times the area.

If you Google for path loss models, you'll find that free space does not apply to mobile systems, since they are close to the ground amongst the clutter. Typical planning rules use values between 30 and 45 dB per decade. At 30 dB per, that's 2.5 times the coverage and at 40 dB per it's twice the coverage. Still, halving the number of required basestation sites is a nice saving for the operators.

Regarding 'signal quality', 6 dB would give you a fair increase in throughput if you are near the cell limit, so would do nicely for improved indoor coverage (e.g. at home where most people seem to browse for pr0n with their dongles active).

By the way, the limit is actually a **maximum**, so most transmitters operate at a lower nominal power with some margin to avoid breaching the limit. And, as the article notes, the limit was all about avoiding interference rather than protecting the tin-foil hat brigade.

Femtocells wilt under attack

Dino Saur

Could be interesting, but ...

Looks like a security company just trying to drum up business. Since there seem to be dozens of Femto vendors out there, it's not surprising if one startup forgets to close the backdoor to their system.

Come back with the real news when you know which femto has been hacked. If it's a magicJack, I doubt anyone would be surprised. If it is a Vodafone or AT&T device that would be news, but having had a run-in or two with Operator security teams (best not to talk about that), I doubt that they would let anything that insecure near their networks.

UK.gov unmoved by Internet Explorer 6 security concerns

Dino Saur
Big Brother

Additional security measures

He's on about those extra little checks that UK Gov does on every piece of traffic it can snoop into. The results are not likely to be available to anyone but the spooks, who are not average home computer users.

Excuse me, there are a couple of large blokes with an unmarked van knocking on my door. Time to use the emergency exit ...

... (fading into the distance) "you'll never take me alive copper^H^H^H^H^H^H unnamed persons who may or may not be working for a government department. AAARGH".

Pass my coat ...

Air France offers two-seat deal for fatties

Dino Saur

Let people pay for their choices not their afflictions

I love your vague argument "because of glandular conditions, or something like that". Perhaps you mean one of the many forms of Hypothyroidism.

I don't think anybody should be forced to pay extra because they have an illness that's not self-inflicted, but the majority of overweight people (including me) are overweight because of their eating habits and insufficient exercise. That's a choice that people make, and I shouldn't have to pay for other people's choices, nor they have to pay for mine. Obesity is a nobody else's fault.

Make 'em pay for inflicting their choices on others. Anyone with a medical condition should have the right to a waiver.

But then again, in the States which is famous for the number of XXL sized people, you just need to pay a doctor to give you a diagnosis for whatever you want, so maybe it doesn't work in practice.

Vodafone revs up UK femtocell program

Dino Saur
Thumb Down

... I think they have

I doubt Vodafone would overlook the possibility that someone might try to squeeze their lucrative roaming charges with a Femto box. I doubt that these boxes would work outside the UK ...

... at least if they are using a UK SIM and the UK network as home.

I think you need to find another solution, like trash all of your Blackberry devices and use something that can support push email over cheap WiFi. But of course you wouldn't do that because you're all addicted to email and have to switch your phones on as soon as the plane touches the ground, and Blackberries are soooooo cool.

BTW, Blackberries and iFones (in the Vodafone style) are the main reason operators need something like Femto to get rid of all of those annoying devices that use up all of the radio resources by pinging a server every couple of minutes. You can get an app for just about anything, except for efficient RRM. Obviously designed by people who think radio is something you switch on in the car to listen to music when your iPod runs out of battery.

There's an idea - free Sure SIgnal with every iFone contract!

Dino Saur
Big Brother

Re: Femto and Legal Intercept

Most/all LI systems work from the core network, not the radio. It doesn't matter that you're connected to a femtocell, your call still goes through the network switch.

Is it art or is it pr0n? Australia decides it's ALL filth

Dino Saur

Typical forward thinking from the Aussies

Looks like I have to destroy all those photos of the family in the sauna. It might be a Finnish art, but the kids don't have any clothes on so it must be something pervy according to these backward, Victorian-minded morons. Since when has the naked human body been anything but natural (except in those gentlemen's magazines with the bits hanging out and arms and legs all over the place - highly unnatural)? I think some of these "consider the kids" fanatics need a right good wotsit*.

The fact is that people who are a danger to little kids (and big kids) don't care if they are dressed or not, or what they are dressed in. It's the same as rape - it doesn't matter to a rapist what a woman is wearing. The more you put taboos on things and associate non-sexual things with sex, the more you increase the interest and excitement. Ask any Catholic about it. And ask a few Swedes about the opposite effect - commonplace is boring. What we need is a bit more grown up thinking rather than radicalism.

Looks like some Australians think that everyone must be a criminal. Is that because they're all a bunch of ...

... better stop there or my Aussie cousin might get a bit miffed.

* you can buy wotsits from your local supermarket in the UK. It's a potato snack. They may even have magical powers to cure the mental problems exhibited by some Aussies**.

** There is no solid medical evidence of this, but it's just as valid a proposal as banning genuine art.

Digital Dividend could cost cable TV dear

Dino Saur

The potted version of what the EU will spend lots of money to find out ...

This whole issue has been kicked off by the government in Germany (particularly) wanting to help a few people in rural areas get access to the internet - you know, the ones who don't have DSL or cable. They thought that the spectrum freed up by the changeover to digital TV could be used for better purposes than more mindless TV programs (e.g. access to internet porn), so they suggested that people could use defunct TV spectrum for fixed wireless radio using 4G technologies.

But the broadcast/cable media companies know that any internet access is likely to affect their ability to squeeze money out of punters, so the battle started. Step up AGNA, the German Cable association with a test to prove how dangerous the wibbly-wobbly waves of LTE were. They fired a full power basestation signal into a 'house' with a cable settop box **from 80m away** and noted that it caused some distortion on the analogue telly picture (DVB-C signals could use error correction and there was no visible effect). Not many people actually live within 80m of a basestation, especially one operating near the GSM band. Anyone care to work out what percentage of a rural GSM cell lies within 80m of the basestation?

When they tried it with a pseudo LTE terminal next to the cable box with a 5dBi antenna pointing straight at it, there was a clear effect on both analogue and digital TV signals on the same frequency. The effects could be seen even through a couple of 'typical apartment walls' in the worst case.

Oh, I forgot to mention that they fixed it so the cable signal so that it was on the same frequency as the LTE signal. Analogue cable TV signals (in Germany) use lower frequencies, below 650 MHz IIRC, so the chances of LTE and analogue cable being on the same frequency are pretty much zero.

In reality there is only a four DVB channel overlap between Euro cable (112 - 858 MHz) and LTE in the digital dividend band uplink (832 - 862 MHz), and four on the downlink (791 - 821 MHz). And let's forget that no-one in Germany actually uses those top channels, and they happen to be the worst channels for cable (higher frequency = higher loss in the cable). And the problem all starts because the cable receiver box has as much shielding as a piece of cotton, so is susceptible to any nearby signal on the same frequency (in the band 112 - 858 MHz).

So in the end, the EU will say

- cable settop boxes are crap and should be designed to withstand higher levels of interference

- only four (unused channels) are at serious risk from LTE in the same building as the settop box

- four more channels are also at risk if you live closer than 120m to the LTE basestation (less than 1% probability by area in a rural environment, even less by population)

- cable operators have more than 85 other channels available and each of these can carry a 8-10 TV programs plus a large number of radio stations, so the loss of a few channels at the top of the band should have almost no effect on cable TV capacity, especially when more analogue cable channels are switched to digital.

If anyone knows if the technical aspects of cable broadband (channels, bands etc) would make a difference, I'd be happy to modify my views.

But in the end, if you use LTE to give broadband to people who don't have access to the internet, they're not going to have cable TV either.