I guess it was just a matter of time before Sony introduced its ‘netbook’ offering – though it insists that its new Sony Vaio P is not a netbook. Walter Mossberg reviews it on the Journal:
I love the look and feel and boldness of the design, but can’t recommend this sleek machine for most users because it is very slow and has poor battery life. Oh, and it sells for double or triple the price of other small laptops, commonly called netbooks.
He advises waiting for the version that supports Windows 7. But, man, it does look great!
The interesting part about this ‘netbook’ is that it has embedded 3G capability – with Qualcomm’s Gobi chipset which supports both HSPA as well as EV-DO connecticity. Thus far, only Verizon Wireless is offering a $200 rebate as part of its Mobile Broadband offering – I expect many European 3G carriers to jump on the bandwagon.
And for folks who really cannot wait to start surfing on their carrier’s HSPA network, read this to get you through. With Nokia making noises in this area, are “netbooks” the new frontier?
One of the supposedly big selling points of Xohm – Sprint Nextel (now Clearwire) – WIMAX service was the availability of flexible pricing models that does not tie the customer for an entire month. For example, it looks like they have a Daily On-the-Go service that provides 24 hours of continuous Internet service. They have a $5 per day special offer that lasts until the end of the year (after which it goes back to its regular rate of $10 per day).
3 in UK has been offering Pay-As-You-Go pre-paid plans for a while now, though they are not strictly what you would call day plans. Out here in the US, Verizon Wireless has upped the ante with its BroadbandAccess DayPass plan which allows you to experience the Internet continuously for 24 hours for $9.99 per day.
According to the website, it can be used on select notebooks from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Panasonic, and OQO, or with a Verizon Wireless USB modem or ExpressCard. Self-activation is possible and additional sessions can be purchased via the connection manager.
There have been complaints that claim that Verizon forces you to sign up for their cell phone plans and it is really not that simple as the website makes it out to be. In any case, I hope that Verizon Wireless has fixed those issues for this is truly a product that will have an adverse impact on Sprint’s Xohm service.
While Europe is the center of all the femtocell mania, operators in the good old US of A are either quietly rolling out or planning actual deployments. As expected, most of these deployments are mainly to address the voice coverage problem like Sprint’s Airave product. According to an FCC filing, Verizon Wireless is all set to introduce the Samsung Ubicell (albeit in a new dark suit).
OK. How is the Airave product and service doing? It certainly looks like the product achieves its goal of improved voice coverage – its raison d’être! However, there are several complaints about the service, some of them appear pretty serious: Continue reading
LTE (the GSMA-adopted roadmap to 4G for GSM/UMTS carriers) has been getting a lot of attention of late. Verizon Wireless plans to begin network deployment in 2009 (using their newly acquired 700MHz spectrum) with full network deployment in 2010 and beyond. AT&T has also announced LTE rollout plans in 2012. Vodafone is also making the obligatory statements about rollout plans in 2011-2012 time frame – its ex-CEO, Arun Sarin has made snarky comments about Verizon needing LTE more than Vodafone owing to the inability of EV-DO to scale up to near-4G speeds like HSPA.
With the possible exception of Verizon, how real are these LTE rollout plans especially given the current financial turmoil? My bet is that 3G operators will look to squeeze the last ounce of return by upgrading their 3G/HSPA networks to HSPA+ (also called Evolved-HSPA or Advanced HSPA) long before they consider LTE. In fact, Japan’s Softbank Mobile has already chosen HSPA+ over LTE because of cost and backward compatibility. The reasons are as follows:
- No marked difference in spectral efficiency – LTE proponents talk about 144Mbps Downlink (DL) and 50+Mbps Uplink (UL) speeds. But realization of these speeds require available spectrum in excess of 20 Mhz. Now probably is not a good time to be buying spectrum. As the chart shows (courtesy: Qualcomm), spectral efficiency of HSPA+ (when MIMO is included) is close to that of LTE when you consider 5Mhz spectrum.
- Significant less Investment in Infrastructure – It is much easier and less expensive to upgrade HSPA to HSPA+ given that LTE is based on OFDM – a completely new modulation scheme while HSPA+ is still based on W-CDMA. LTE needs a completely new set of radio access and core infrastructure components – not only are the radio access algorithms different, the signaling and control protocols from the access to the core are also significantly different.
- Backward compatibility – It is simpler for a HSPA+ subscriber to gracefully handover to a HSPA network – the connectivity between RNC and the core (SGSN and GGSN) remains as before. Significant complexity exists for handover to be implemented between 4G/LTE and HSPA+ networks.
- Handset and terminal availability – Availability of LTE handsets may be less of an issue – clearly, the initial application for both HSPA+ as well as LTE is in mobile broadband (with USB dongles). It is reasonable to expect that HSPA+ dongles will be cheaper than those supporting LTE – given that a new semiconductor ecosystem needs to emerge that supports LTE.