Entries Tagged as 'Cellular'

Difference Between GSM and CDMA

The GSM logo is used to identify compatible ha...
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I think that having come from the cellular industry, I tend to forget that most people do not realize there’s an inherent difference between domestic carriers based on their technology types. And I was reminded of that when I read Jason Calacanis’ post on his case against Apple.

While I don’t agree with his perspective, I believe that the second point itself is made on incorrect assumptions and trying to give a case based on incorrect facts can lead to disaster. His second point in full is here:

2. Monopolistic practices in telecommunications
Apple’s iPhone is a revolutionary product that has devolved almost all of the progress made in cracking–wait for it–AT&T’s monoply in the ’70s and ’80s. We broke up the Bell Phone only to have it put back together by the iPhone. Telecommunications choice is gone for Apple users. If you buy an Apple and want to have a seemless experience with your iPhone, you must get in bed with AT&T, and as we like to say in the technology space, “AT&T is the suck.”

Simple solution and opportunity: Not only let the iPhone work on any carrier, but put *two* SIM card slots on the iPhone and let users set which applications use which services. (Your phone could be Verizon and your browser Sprint!) Imagine having two SIM cards with 3G that were able to bond together to perform superfast uploads and downloads to YouTube.

Now here’s the issue with this. CDMA carriers overall do not have sim cards in any way, shape or form. There are some Japanese phones that I have seen that were dual-radio and had modified sim cards for CDMA, but in general it doesn’t happen. The entire number is handled by the ESN which is coded to each phone. That’s the sixteen alphanumeric number that you give to your carrier when you “activate” your phone from behind the battery. The reason for this is that it’s basically two different radio technologies. GSM versus CDMA is much like the VHS versus Beta, or HD-DVD versus Blu-ray except both technologies exist together. But Jason’s want for a dual-radio phone is just not pliable not because it cannot be done, but because from a battery technology standpoint, we still haven’t reached a technological point where battery life is irrelevant.

GSM in itself is actually an older technology. It’s more widespread through Asia and Europe because of it, but the United States is dominated by CDMA (Qualcomm) because of the clearer voice quality and less likelihood of drop scenarios. Don’t let me fool you, CDMA will still drop because RF is a fickle animal, but the two technologies behave differently because of their own intricacies.

Why is this important to know? Well, there’s a difference between data evolutionary paths on both of these cellular technologies. For example, the 3G for CDMA is EVDO while the 3G for GSM is HSDPA. The entire method of choosing the right technology can effect your voice call quality. So for those that actually hate the dropped calls by AT&T because they happen too often? I can probably make the assumption without seeing the traffic patterns that it has a high likelihood of happening due to technology. But Apple’s choice of going with AT&T is very clear since the adoption rate would be towards the majority of market share on a global perspective.

Overall, understanding that there are differences between these two technologies can affect your judgment on which carrier you choose. By choice, I do not believe I would select a GSM carrier if based on voice quality and dropped calls along with the usual echo issues. But to each their own as far as what you’re willing to put up with at the time. Just make sure you understand that you can’t have sim cards with any domestic CDMA carrier.

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Verizon CSRs Needs Work On Emergency Service

A man passes by a Verizon Wireless store June ...
Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Verizon seems to have some issues with training their CSRs to respond correctly. Having worked in telecommunications for over a decade, I can say that there are procedures that are enacted in emergency situations that DO NOT require an overdue bill to be paid even though in this situation, unfortunately, it had happened.

In fact, there is specifics to what telecommunications personnel have to abide by when it comes to emergency protocol. Whether or not it’s a CSR training issue or perhaps something that was screwed up in the communications between the emergency personnel and call center, I don’t know. But I found this article to be thrown out there without understanding how the process works.

Unfortunately, my ties with Verizon Wireless from a vendor side has been a long time and they might have changed how it works internally. But it still goes to show that someone out there needs the right training because the procedures are there that overrule any “unpaid bills”.

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berrystats_user.jpg BerryStats began as a project of Brent Grim which has now been updated and made a bit more useful by maximillian from Confessions of a Freeware junkie.
So basically, what the entails is an administrator that is running IIS with ASP support, have relative server paths enabled, and have the BlackBerry server going and on the client side be using Internet Explorer or BlackBerry Browser.
What this does is, it allows an administrator to actually list server statistics, list keys, kill a handheld, list and count keys, and a whole bunch of other things, but the key here? Straight from a Blackberry browser. Which is pretty sweet. It basically gives you a lot more statistics and functionality as a BSE administrator. And anyone that has actually been a BSE admin knows that it’s pretty much a pain in the rear.
In any case, if it looks like a fit with what you do, you might want to take a look at it since it sure looks inviting when it comes to Blackberry services.
You can track the beta here.

Three letters for why I won’t buy an iPhone

170px-IPhoneSeattle.jpg GSM.
Yes, you got it. The infrastructure technology keeps me from ever adopting this phone regardless of how absolutely wonderful it is. And there’s a good reason for it.
Having worked in the cellular industry for almost ten years, there is a tendency to understand how each technology is developed and how it performs under all sorts of environments. Alongside this, call quality and drop call rates are among the type of performance statistics that I have to see on a daily basis. And call me crazy when I say that if I buy a phone, call quality seems rather important to me outside of the gadgets arena.
GSM while adopted in more places in the world due to a more mature technology, is also older and has its issues being that it does time division multiplexing. While drop calls are determined by a number of issues, there have been many times that I have called friends with domestic GSM service (only two major carriers in the United States currently). These calls often can fail one way eg. where one person can hear but not speak or will have a lot of interference but no one can actually figure out what’s wrong since the call remains up but it drops to a one-sided conversation.
I really like the iPhone, and would probably get one of the iPhone 3Gs in a heartbeat if they (Apple) ever decide to start selling CDMA versions and look outside of the AT&T exclusive agreement. But with their current selection of a GSM carrier just drives me absolutely batty when it comes to voice calls. And let’s face it. You buy a phone to talk on it, not to surf the web and write emails or update your FriendFeed. Well, maybe you do, but the rest of us don’t.
Photo Credit: (elisfanclub)

What exactly is 3G?

It’s definitely interesting when I see this question come up. “What is 3G?
Surprisingly, if you read most of the commentary, not only do mainstream media not get what 3G actually stands for, but a lot of the general populace isn’t acquainted with telecom terminology (nor should they be). Strangely enough, this has actually been marketed but hasn’t been conveyed very well.
3G itself is actually third generation, but not with the iPhone, of which many believe. It actually has to do with the network infrastructure. 3G networks are under a certain standard that require high speed internet and the ability to do video telephony. This allows you to do extra services that previously you could not do on a 2G network. Each technology layer is obviously overlayed on top of the older one, so most users don’t realize that the features they want actually drop in under one of these technology realms.
For example? HSDPA is 3G. So is EVDO (rev0. and revA). 2G is mainly any digital standard, from CDMA, to GSM to iDEN. So from a big picture perspective, you can see that there carriers will offer more and more with each new generation of technology. The technologies that just increase speed, but not services do not count as actual generation changes (such as WiMAX which is pre-4G).
Fun stuff eh? Things I get to deal with every day in the telecommunications industry.
Photo Credit: (SANOKAME)

Texting on a motorcycle

You have to see it to believe it, but this guy is crazy. Texting, while lying down on a motorcycle. I’m not exactly sure how he’s keeping his throttle going at a regular pace since it’s motorcycles have a turn throttle that’s operated by the right hand, but it’s still nuts. Crazy nuts.

Losing cellular coverage while on your headset?

Interestingly enough, if you’re on a bluetooth headset, and you happen to have your phone in a purse sitting on your passenger seat and you drop the call at the same place every time, but yet it doesn’t happen when you’re on the handset itself, there’s a good way around this.
Go buy yourself something to put the phone higher up than the seat. Basically elevation is the key.
The reasoning behind this is because sometimes there are handoffs between base stations that are a bit less optimized or are farther apart. The handoff actually is made usually, but based on geography and other physical interferers, there just isn’t the signal strength when it’s down low. So, just like WiFi where you should place antennas higher to gain more coverage, the same concept is true with cell phones on the receiving end just to increase the chance of less interference and less likelihood of going through RF holes.
Photo Credit: (ztephen)

Be careful of cell phone calls on cruises

A thing to remember when you take a cruise.
If you’re crossing international waters, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you have bars on your phone, that it’s going to be a local call. If you cross international borders and you’re using the base stations that are roaming in say, the Bahamas or the Virgin Islands, then you’ll be paying for it through the nose with international roaming charges.
And believe me, most people don’t know it until they see the bill. And there’s nothing that the cruise line can do about it since it’s tied to your cellular carrier. The last international plan that I looked at a long time ago was AT&T’s World phone plan, and it wasn’t cheap. Which should give you an inkling of what international roaming would cost.
Sprint’s cruise ship roaming costs $2.49 a minute. If you have an international phone roaming plan, then it’ll vary from country to country, but it seems like it’s about $2USD a minute on average. Why is this a killer on the pocketbook? Before my recent vacation to the Virgin Islands, I checked with Royal Caribbean on roaming. The agent told me that it’s been a while since she’s had a call about the roaming charges, but she had a distraught customer that had racked up a $1400USD phone bill. Unfortunately, RCL couldn’t do anything about it even if they wanted to since it’s based on the carrier the customer was with at the time.
So just know the lines you cross. Don’t want a huge bill waiting for you when you get back home since you had great coverage and thought you were okay to call.
Photo Credit: (the queen of subtle)

Cell phones don’t pop popcorn

Videos like this are very amusing because it not only are they believable, but for those that don’t understand the science or technology behind the every-day gadgets, it’s makes it even harder to convince people otherwise because they “see it for their own eyes”.

Mobile phone cooking has already been disproved a number of times but process is pretty simple. If you think about the difference between your microwave and a cell phone in RF power, there’s almost a 50-80 times difference. The amount of energy required to generate heat to bring popcorn to actually pop is significant compared to what is actually generated by the phone. In fact, the amount of heat would make it so that your phone would probably not be able to be held. On top of that, if the RF was generating this type of heat signature, the air around the popcorn would actually be hot and there would have to be excess heat since it’s not in an enclosed area. This would mean that you need even more power.
Finally, if you notice from most of these hoaxes, the tables all have some sort of table cloth covering the bottom. While the American one shown above doesn’t look quite that off since tables usually have tablecloths, the Japanese one below is just strange. Maybe it’s just me, but the cloth seems to be longer than the actual table height which would mean it’s not for aesthetics. My initial thought is that there is a heating element beneath the table itself.

It definitely is an interesting viral video, and who knows what exactly it’s supposed to prove, but it does lend itself to one of the more realistic videos of the time.

Polaroid PoGo Printer

Polaroid has come out with a new portable printer for those that are always on the go. And this one uses ZINK (Zero Ink) technology and Bluetooth. Basically, hook this baby up to your cell phone, and transfer over the pictures, and voila! You’re printing these tiny sticker pictures right from your phone! Nice part about this, is that ZINK uses color heat crystals so no smudges, no yuckies and no ink cartridges to change in the printer.
For $149USD, it’s a little pricey, but being that it’s available at Target and Best Buy, I would imagine that it’ll actually drop in price at some point. What’s more interesting is that the whole sticker-picture thing is very similar to a thing Polaroid did a while ago called the Polaroid i-Zone Pocket Instant Camera. Postage sized film that had sticker backing.