3G technology gets old, get your 4G now!


New technology allows real time video streaming

For consumers just getting used to 3G technology on their mobiles, along comes 4G.

Motorola steals the show at Shanghai World Expo and unveils latest technology that allows full-time video streaming on mobile devices

Long-gone is the time when mobile phones were simply that — a means to make a phone call or text someone.
Then came phones with cameras, then phones which allowed you to play your MP3 collection, listen to radio, then find out where your are, and watch videos when you want. And you can still make a call if you're not too busy watching videos.
To be hip, the mobile on your hip has to a smartphone, capable of having the functionality of a PC, flexible enough to be a video and audio entertainment centre and send and receive data.
"Above all, it has to be pocketable," said Mohommad Ahktar, corporate vice-president and general manager for Motorola's network divisions in the Asia-Pacific region.
"It has to be smaller than 4 and a half inches and has to be able to fit comfortably in your pocket," he added.
"That's a lot to ask for in a single device. People want their smartphones to be able to do all things. Most people now have a smartphone when they travel and a PC at home. It's really the culmination of mobile phone and mobile computing technology."
Impressive results
Akhtar's parent company is enjoying impressive results from its mobile phone sales, expecting to sell between 12 and 14 million of the devices alone this year.
Driven by strong sales of its Google Android-powered smartphones, Motorola turned in impressive first quarter results with net earnings of $69 million (Dh253.4 million) and generating positive operating cash flow of $485 million.
But with so many providers of handsets, the challenge isn't in providing mobiles; it's ensuring networks will have the ability to service growth and have the capacity to provide full data streaming.
And that's where Motorola's expertise is vital.
While consumers are still coming to grips with 3G technology, Motorola is using the Shanghai World Expo to unveil its 4G service.
Some 100 million visitors are expected at the $60 billion expo showcasing the latest technologies and national pavilions from nearly 200 countries. The expo started May 1 and runs through to the end of October.
So what's the difference between 3G and 4G technology? Night and day, simply put.
"3G networks opened the door to video streaming. 4G delivers full-time video streaming capabilities." said Bruce Brda, Motorola's vice-president for networks.
Using its TD-LTE technology, Motorola used the expo to demonstrate the potential of 4G. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution and allows for full wireless broadband streaming similar to that of fixed-line bandwidth.
A single TD-LTE dongle plugged into a laptop USB is capable of downloading 24 video streams at the same time. A dongle is a device similar to an oversized USB data storage key but about the size of a business card.
"No one is going to be able to watch 24 videos at once," Brda said.
"But our TD-LTE technology provides the capacity for full-time video streaming on mobile devices. We're proving that our TD-LTE technology provides broadband capacity to make that happen."
To drive home the point, Motorola's TD-LTE technology was installed on a modified Segway scooter, allowing for full-time video streaming on a laptop picking up the broadband stream via a USB dongle while also transmitting a live video stream to monitors.
In Japan, mobile provider KDDI has already selected LTE for the rollout of its 4G service.
"Consumers will be able to watch videos when and where they want. 4G technology is a commercial reality and LTE is the global standard," Akhtar said.
According to Ahktar, switching to 4G will fully implement the promise brought by the latest generation of smartphones.
"We have shown that 4G is a reality now," he said.
"You can stream and watch videos or process huge volumes of data over wireless broadband networks," he added.
"What is significant is that this technology opens the door for telecommunications providers to be able to offer very [cost-effective] data plans and packages to consumers; it opens the pipes to be able to supply huge amounts of data at a much cheaper rate then before. For consumers, this is a huge step forward."
By opening the pipes, Ahktar means that the capacity to supply huge streams of data more quickly is now possible, all with the TD-LTD technology.
But isn't there a fear that consumers will become fatigued with the quick pace of change.
"I think consumers have been fatigued by the fact that smartphones promise the potential to do so much," Ahktar said.
"What 4G does is to enable service providers to be able to deliver huge volumes of data, unleashing the full potential of the smartphones in attractively-price data plans. That's a win-win for providers and for consumers."
What is WiMAX?
WiMAX stands for Worldwide interoperability for Microwave Access. Basically, it's an effective and proven means to provide advanced broadband access in fixed and mobile environments.
Is it different that WiFi?
Yes. It provides greater range because it can use more bandwidths, mostly in the 2.5-3.5 Gigahertz range.
Is it better than WiFi?
Absolutely. It is compatible with WiFi but has a wider range and is cheaper to deploy, bringing better wireless and broadband access to areas where it wasn't economical before.
Why is WiMAX important?
WiMAX technology as developed by Motorola has some 70 per cent commonality with LTE technology used for the latest 4G systems being rolled out.
In essence, the technology bridged the gap between 2G and the new 4G platforms, essentially making the existing 3G technology a stop-gap measure.
It's cheaper to deploy, tried and true and shows the possibilities of widespread wireless broadband regardless of the density of users or the environment.
Is WiMAX in Dubai?
Yes. Recently, for example, Motorola and du have tied up to provide a WiMAX network on Dubai Metro, providing mobile connectivity on train carriages and in Metro stations.