Wireless connectivity

Google , Comcast, Intel Capital, Time Warner Cable , Bright House Networks and Trilogy Equity partners have entered into an agreement to pool in about $3.2 billion dollars in a new wireless broadbaand company.

The new company, named Clearwire, is joint venture between Clearwire Corporation and Sprint Nextel Corporation. Both these companies have joined forces to combine their next-generation wireless broadband businesses.

This venture will churn out United State’s first nationwide wireless broadband network on the new WiMAX standard. This will be the first time that the consumers will experience a truly high-speed wireless mobile experiencen and will benefit a range of demographics from SME sector to public safety organizations to educational institutions throughout the US.

You can read more about the details and benefits of this venture here

This reminds me of Reliance’s promise of bringing broadband in India by 2008. Well !! It’s 2008 already and we are still waiting. Another forgotten promise (or shall we say a dream), was the one made by Maharashtra State Government and Intel to make Pune, India’s first (or complete) wireless city. I know the project was shelved by Intel after some tax issues with the government (CMIIW), but what really takes the cake is that a smaller ton like Mysore is already :wireless’ed”.

It shouldn’t take this long for IT heavy-weights like Bangalore, Pune, Chennai, Gurgaon, Hyderabad and even Mumbai to gear up not only it’s broadband connectivity and speeds, i\but also provide wireless connectivity across the Metros.

Sometimes, from my old office at Deccan Gymkhana in Pune, I could see a SSID named(Unwire Pune) which would give us a fairly decent connectivity. We used to regularly use it for surfing when our local office network was down (don’t even bother asking why ), thinking that this was PMC’s initiative, But soon someone found out that this was just an Open SSID of some private firm and soon we all just stopped using it.

The point is, it’s high time that India is a “mid-bandwidth” nation.

We need to pull our act together …. and fast !!

There’s a need for speed here !! I would like to hear about new hotspots opening up everywhere in India. Why don’t all the big companies like TCS, HCL and Infosys spend this advertising surplus is sponsoring these hotspots ? And why just the IT companies. Pepsi could have a hotspot, in say, MG Road (in all the cities that have it).Maybe there could be an initiative for a collaborative project like FON too

With all the great lead we have in the IT sector, I hope suchinfrastructure problems don’t hold us down for long.

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MoCA math chhodna !!!

Okay, so it’s a sad sad pun, but nonetheless today I will be introducing you to a truely awesome wireless technology called MoCA.

MoCA stands for Multimedia over Coaxial Alliance. It is basically an open, industry driven initiative promoting broadband through the already existing coaxial cables in the home.

The reason I called this a “classic” technology is, it brings to surface the classic, age-old skill of the Engineer,viz,., to utilize existing resources for newer technologies. I do agree , that with Internet growing at an alarming rate, the need for technologies like FTTH (Fibre To The House) or FTTN (Fibre To The Node) is ever-increasing. I guess eventually, the copper mountains beneath us will have to accommodate, (or worse) be replaced with Fiber Optic Cable. But till this transition is successful, there’s a dire need to leverage the existing resources to satisfy the ever-growing thirst for bandwidth of the new tech-savvy consumers.

MoCA makes use of the coaxial cables that are already a part of a domestic electrical system to deliver high bandwidth multimedia and digital entertainment. Even in developing countries like India, a coaxial connection for Cable television exists. It is not uncommon for a middle-class citizen to have more than one coax point in the house. This makes adoption of this technology very easy (notwithstanding the technology that needs to be installed at the ISPs end :-D)

The features of this standard include a net data throughput of 175 Mbits/sec and support for upto 16 devices. This is a good bandwidth by any standards.

MoCA, however, is not a new technology. According to a report, more than one million MoCA installations are already in place. A variety of products such as PVR/DVR and client side set top boxes, broadband home routers, residential gateways, Ethernet to MoCA bridges and ONTs are currently in deployment.

The company I work for, 2Wire, is one of the leading companies to invest in MoCA. As you can see from the member-list of MoCA, some big names are backing this technology. Prominent among these are Verizon and Comcast who are betting heavily on this technology.

Let us hope, this ground-breaking technology makes its way to Indian shores soon, before Reliance decides it does not like CAT5 cables all that much :-D

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The Big Zee

This blog is actually first in a series of introductory articles on the emerging wireless technologies.

The first one I want to cover is called the ZigBee standard. This is a high-level communications protocol using small, low-power digital radios based on the IEEE 802.15 .4 specifications. This new standard is fast being deployed in Home Automation systems and is in direct competition with other WPANs , such as Bluetooth.

WPAN, which stands for Wireless Personal Area Network, is a small network which comprises of mobile devices which are close to one person. Unlike LAN networks, which are spread out over the a complete office or university campuses, WPANs usually cover a few meters only.

Although Bluetooth is a fairly popular means of wireless communication, what with the advent of mobile phones having Bluetooth chips, I will cover this technology in more detail in the coming days.

The ZigBee standard operates in the unlicensed 2.4Ghz band. Although it also operates at other frequencies like 915Mhz and 868Mhz, 2.4Ghz seems to be the most popular frequency usage. The 2.5 Ghz band has about 16 Zigbee channels , with each channel requiring 5 Mhz bandwidth. The raw, over-the-air data rate is 250 kbits/sec per channel. Transmission range is about 10-75 meters (30-250 feet). The maximum output power is generally 0 dBm (1mW).

As you can see, the principle characteristics of the ZigBee specifications are low data rate, low power and hence long battery life and secure networking. Thus, although Zigbee supports low data rates compared to other WPAN, the low power consumption makes it a very viable option , especially for Home networking deployment.

In an attempt to support this specification and make it easy for mass adoption, a small number of companies have formed the ZigBee alliance. Members of this alliance are some of the big names in the industry including Samsung, Freescale, Texas Instruments, etc.

I hope I have covered enough in this article to introduce this technology to the absolutely unaware.

More to come in this series is introductory articles on Bluetoth, MoCA,UWB, wireless USB and many more.

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