Friday, October 3, 2008

WiMAX World: Redline chooses picoChip SDR Platform

Getting an early jump on the news coming out of WiMAX World conference in Chicago occurring September 29 through October 3rd, picoChip on Monday announced that Redline Communications, a leading provider of standards-based WiMAX access and broadband wireless infrastructure products, has selected their PC8532 modem to power its next generation RedMAX 4C™ Mobile WiMAX basestations. picoChip is a leading supplier of high-performance multi-core DSP, offering a powerful platform to develop products for emerging global wireless communications markets such as WiMAX, WCDMA, LTE, TD-SCDMA and 4G. picoChip’s products scale from femtocell access points and picocells to sophisticated multi-sector carrier macrocells.

The agreement gives Redline access to a software defined radio (SDR) platform with best-in-class performance/cost ratio. Redline has added its low-complexity maximum-likelihood receiver to the picoChip design in order to increase uplink system performance for coverage and capacity. The software-defined system supports upgrades to future standards, such as LTE, 802.16e Release 1.5 and 802.16m.
Redline, which is also an exhibitor here at the show, sells to carrier and enterprise level organizations in both developed and key high-growth markets around the world, and has more than 166 deployments of its WiMAX Forum Certified™ systems to date. The company has previously delivered mobile broadband to UK and Silicon Valley train networks and created North America’s largest education sector wireless network.
Speaking about the agreement, picoChip’s CEO and president, Guillaume d’Eyssautier, stated: “Our ability to offer advanced IO-MIMO capability and future support for 16m and LTE helped, but the fact that they (Redline) were persuaded by the quality our PHY is testament to the strength of the picoChip offering. We are very excited to have Redline as a key customer.”
The Redline RedMAX 4C Mobile WiMAX platform, which is based on the WiMAX industry’s 802.16e-2005 standards for mobile WiMAX, supports a wide range of fixed, portable and mobile wireless services including support voice and video over IP, broadband Internet access used to support high value education, medical, transportation and municipal applications, VPNs (virtual private networks) and other advanced communications services.
The RedMAX 4C is designed to enable operators to maximize the reach and customer density required for a profitable carrier business model. It includes a modular, standardized µTCA (micro Telecommunications Computing Architecture) chassis basestation that is small, lightweight and easy to deploy. RedMAX 4C will also include a suite of indoor and outdoor fixed and portable end-user devices including laptops, mobile handsets and PDAs. Redline’s new WiMAX offering is also designed to facilitate the integration of its existing RedMAX products with its RedMAX 4C technologies, providing operators a path to true mobility.

Emdrive - Microwaves to Create Space Thruster?

Something a little more from fringe science: I recently heard on my favorite tech news podcast that there was an article published in New Scientist about a space (as in outer space) drive that converts electrical energy into thrust using microwaves. It has caused a lot of uproar about not being possible because it violates the law of conservation of momentum, making it impossible to build. But the Chinese (looking for any technological advantage in space they can get) claim to have confirmed the theory and are building a demonstration unit.

The theory is that the drive creates thrust by tapering a resonant cavity filled with microwaves. The thrust is small, 85 compared to 92 mN for the NSTAR ion thruster used by NASA, but enough to power space vehicles and it uses much less power than the NSTAR. Apparently, the microwaves are introduced into a tapered cavity and strike the larger end of the cavity with more force than the smaller end that has less area which creates thrust. One big question is why doesn't the force exerted on the sides also create opposing forces that cancel out each other.

Interesting stuff - we will have to see how it works out. Some of us might be building space thrusters soon. Do you think it will work?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

EB Releasing New Emulator Platform

As editors, we get to participate in company and product briefings quite often, so I thought I would start covering them here as interesting tidbits beyond the typical product or press releases. They get much more in depth than the news items so they can provide additional insights.

I talked with Elektrobit (now EB) last week about their new emulator platform, EB Propsim F8, and was very impressed with its capability to test all current and future cellular standards including real air interface conditions that the standards do not necessarily cover. It supports the current standards in place plus 3G/WiMAX/LTE/4G in one box, has the widest RF bandwidth up to 125 MHz with MIMO (up to 8x8), highest number of channels (2-8 physical and 4-32 logical), highest delay range (up to 1.5 sec), supports baseband interface and actual measured network radio propagation emulation. This product was recently announced the other day in conjunction with WiMAX World in Chicago.

As an ex-marketing communications person, I really like their newer branding as EB. The colors and style really work to present them as a modern, high tech company. They really seem to have the leading edge products for their markets.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

WiMAX World 2008: The 4G Executive Summit

The 4G Executive Summit at the WiMAX World 2008 Conference and Expo was a full day event, hosted by Berge Ayvazian, the Chief strategy Officer with the Yankee Group. The event included a keynote speech by Hank Kafka, the VP of Architecture for AT&T on “Operator Strategies for 4G Networks” as well as a talk by Charlie Martin, Wireless Chief Technology Officier for Huawei Technologies (USA) followed by a 4G executive roundtable, networking lunch and four afternoon sessions on infrastructure strategies, 4G Device and CPE strategies, regulatory and spectrum policy; and 4G applications workshop.

In all the program was designed to deliver comprehensive thought leadership on these key topics:
1. Personal and Mobile Broadband Services
2. Enabling Disruptive 4G Mobile Technologies
3. Wireless Broadband and Mobile Applications Strategies
4. Mobile Content and Commerce Strategies
5. Mobile TV, Quad Play, and Broadband Embedded Consumer Electronics
6. New Business Models for Personal Broadband and the Mobile Internet

The talks

In his keynote talk this morning at the 4G Executive Summit (WiMAX World ) AT&T's Hank Kafka claimed that, “For the U.S. wireless market to meet the soaring demands of consumers, we have got to set targets, but targets without a plan are only wishful thinking. In general, most of our operators have similar 4G targets but the difference will be in the path to those targets."The nature of that path was the main topic of discussion at this executive summit. AT&T’s Kafka extolled the virtues of GSM and its long-term evolution (LTE)."Our evolution has been from GPRS to EDGE to UMTS to HSPA and soon LTE," Kafka said. "It's clear that LTE will fit neatly... This is the great advantage of the GSM evolution: We are not starting from scratch. GSM can build from the existing technologies. It takes years for new technologies to get broad coverage nationwide."

While AT&T envisioned an evolutionary path toward 4G, the summit's chair and moderator, Yankee Group's Chief Strategy Officer Berge Ayvazian, however had a different take. "I went to bed last night with nightmares," Ayvazian deadpanned. "I couldn't start this session without noting that the 4G revolution is coming amidst a meltdown--a global financial crisis... The failure of Congress to pass the bailout led to unprecedented 777 points and $1.2T loss... Why am I even talking about this? Bank failures, nationalizing major companies... What does this mean? What a day to launch the 4G revolution, right? It's a perfect day. In the midst of a crisis you launch a revolution."

For the next few years at least, 3G networks will be under constant improvement and so one might ask (as Pat touches upon in his blog entry of September 30th), where can the 4G label be used and when is it relevant? If HSPA+ will be WiMAX's biggest competitor while LTE is in the works, where does 3G stop and 4G begin?

One possible answer to this question was suggested during the summit by Huawei USA's Wireless CTO Charlie Martin. During his keynote this morning, Mr. Martin stated, "The ITU will specify which technology is and isn't 4G, but there is no doubt that 3G is converging toward LTE. When it comes to 4G the emphasis has been on bandwidth... in our WiMAX launches we have not seen mobility as a factor. Most of our WiMAX launches are for bundled services that include VoIP and basic broadband offerings. So, for Huawei it's generally very clear to us. We don't get in many super-competitive situations [LTE vs. WiMAX deployments]. It's almost always very clear cut."

Perhaps the view from the executive summit is still somewhat cloudy.

Are We Getting Carried Away With Wireless Generations?

We all see references to 2G, 3G and 4G wireless systems and sometimes we see references to 2.5G as an in between system, but now I am seeing 2.75G, 3.75G and even 3.9G (why not just say close to 4G or just under 4G). How can you have a half or three quarters of a generation? I guess if you just base it on data rates, maybe we can get these fractional generations.

What caught my eye was the Asus announcement that they are adding 3.75G wireless to their new laptops due out in October 2008. They state download rates of 7.2 Mbit/s and upload rates of 2 Mbit/s which is very good, but it is really just HSUPA technology so why not just call it that. Maybe it is not as elegant as 3.75G.

It took a very long time to develop systems from 2G to 3G, so I can see why we have the 2.5G but anything beyond that is getting carried away in my book. But I guess it is progress as long as the numbers keep getting larger!