In the past, governments, through their regulatory bodies, awarded radio spectrum to groups who could most benefit the citizens governed, ensuring compatibility by mandating technologies and shifting radio spectrum around to provide competition where it was thought beneficial. More recently, governments have begun to see radio spectrum as a nice little earner, with the fall-back ideology that the highest bidder would have the biggest incentive to make efficient use of the spectrum - a process that came to a head with the 3G auctions where companies fell over each other to bid more money than they had for radio spectrum in which they were required to deploy a specific technology, over a specific quantity of the country, within a specific time.
Mobile WiMax Timeline
Many of the bidders failed in their obligations on coverage and deployments, though all followed the technology requirements. In the UK, all the operators, except Vodafone, bid for the 5MHz of spectrum allocated for TDD use. But no one is using TDD networks, and the licence forbids the deployment of anything else in the band, and so that part of the spectrum lies empty.
Examples like that, of which there are several, have helped pushed the regulator towards selling off radio spectrum without restriction, but it's still not possible for the regulator to avoid revealing a technological leaning. Taking Ofcom's plans for the Digital Dividend as an example: the vast majority of the spectrum will be sold off in paired lumps, ideally suited to an FDD technology like LTE, but not ideal for the TDD system currently used by WiMax.
A couple of blocks will be sold off without pairing, but the delays in working all that out - and a couple of conveniently-timed court challenges from T-Mobile and Telefonica - have seen the sale of spectrum that might have been used for WiMax delayed until well after the lead the standard has established had ceased to be relevant.
Just as radio spectrum has become more flexible, so the standards have become more encompassing. 4G mobile standards aren't happy just connecting mobile phones to basestations, they want to be used for backhaul too - connecting the microwave relays dotting the nation at very high speed and very high frequencies, not to mention competing with ADSL for fixed broadband connections. Both LTE and WiMax can operate on just about any frequency, and both are expected to be deployed in a wide variety of roles.
Bandwidth and latency: LTE vs HSPA
But LTE is more flexible than WiMax. It's able to operate in 1.25MHz increments of spectrum up to 20MHz - a bandwidth that can offer 160Mb/s downstream using two antennae, or more than 300Mb/s if you can squeeze in four aerials. On the upstream, LTE promises 86Mb/s eventually, but like the downstream that will be phased in over time with initial deployments offering closer to a quarter of that. WiMax may already be deployed, notably by Clearwire in the states, but those deployments are only offering 4Mb/s: a speed that's also already attainable on a 3G network with HSPA and hardly an advertisement for the next generation of technology. Rival US operators are committed to deploying LTE over the next few years.
In the process of trying to make OFDM more palatable to a non-comms audience, you seem to have missed the real advantage of the technique. The real beauty of OFDM is the flexibility given by so many orthogonal low-bandwidth sub-carriers: you can avoid the problem of frequency-selective fading for one user (mitigating their bad channel) by moving their allocation in the spectrum. This leads to much more efficient usage of spectrum, and better channels for all. It is excellent at adapting to nasty channel conditions in slowly-changing channels*.
I'm not really sure what you're getting at with regards to "solving" the problem of "timing". If you're referring to inter-symbol interference, which is indeed a concern, then OFDM doesn't directly solve this by "putting [chunks] in different frequencies" - but what it does do is ensure that the symbol rate on each individual component frequency is low enough that ISI can be mitigated easily. But if you're referring to interleaving, which does indeed spread "chunks" of data amongst frequencies, then that helps solve a different problem: the issue of losing bursts of data in frequency-specific fades.
On the down side, OFDM really isn't good in channels with a great deal of doppler shift (since it breaks the orthogonality between the sub-carriers) - making it non-ideal for use in fast-moving vehicles, for instance, without specific counter-measures.
8390? shouldnt that be 8310?
Good article, but as this article seems to have a UK slant to it.. the 8310 should have been the phone that was mentioned as being the first with GPRS in the UK. The 8390 was not even the first phone in the US with GPRS, a motorola timeport was, if i remember correctly.
Jobs - because the iPhone wasnt a world first in any area.
"mobile data is all about ..."
That's the 64billion dollar question, isn't it.
Is it about seeing the same internet as at home (or in the office), when you're on the move (nb on the move, *not* just away from base but stationary at a WiFi hotspot).
Or is it about the mobile web, about some selection of significant websites recognising that there are going to be as many folk viewing them on "mobile internet devices" (phones, PDAs, maybe netbooks) as there are on PCs, and that their website designs should reflect that (eg no Flash).
It isn't about "m-commerce" yet, or about "location dependent services", and folks have been trying that for a decade or so. Mind you, Google has recently changed the market rules, as it sometimes does, with Google Maps for Mobile and the things you can do with that.
Yahoo nearly works on my S60 mobile in Opera Mini. BBC news has a "low graphics" version too. Google Maps for Mobile is fantastic, though without a GPS it sometimes gets confused (but that's probably not Google's fault).
But not everyone does so well. Obviously anyone designing in Flash has wasted their time even more than usual. Some sites that you would imagine might be of particular interest to those out and about are so full of big-screen rubbish and scripts and so on that they are useless on a small screen device, mobile or otherwise. Classic examples would include weather forecasts from the Met Office and traffic reports from the Highways Agency.
So, what exactly is the killer app for mobile broadband? How is it going to make money for the cellcos, so they can pay for all that extra bandwidth to all those new cells?
I know, we could do location-dependent downloaded-on-demand high-definition video ringtone subscription service. Yeah, that'd work. Where's the Dragon's Den number.
Well? You got any better ideas?
Handset or PC?
To me the main reason that data on 2G/3G etc. has not really taken off is that most content is not suitable for a phone handset.
When WAP first came out, most web content was too complex and there were attempts to produce WAP portals which would offer cut down content suitable for the handsets.
At that point most web content would have displayed well on my EEE PC (if it had existed then).
Now content is so rich and so loaded with fancy video and special effects that I struggle on my EEE PC and my older portable to view the website in the way that the cutting edge design intended.
Nice on my new 1440 * 900 Dell portable, though :-)
Not much good on a phone handset :-(
For me, mobile data is all about freeing portable PCs from fixed ADSL/cable connections.
You can get the rich content you have come to expect when you are away from your cosy nest.
Now if only the coverage, reliability, bandwidth etc. etc. wasn't totally crap. (Speaking as a Virgin customer).
If I want to talk to someone or send a text message I use my phone.
For getting serious data off t'Internet I use a PC.
Then again, I am from the keyboard generation and can't think through my thumbs.