Posts tagged ‘iPad’

New iPad no longer called iPad + 4G in the UK

After a long, drawn out saga, Apple has finally been made to change how it promotes the new iPad on its UK web store. After complaints to the UK advertising authority, ASA, from this week, the word 4G does not appear on its UK web site. Instead, the SIM equipped device is now just referred to as ‘Wi-Fi + Cellular’. No more confused UK punters.

To be honest, I’m not particularly keen on the term ‘Cellular’ as iIt has a distinctly US flavour to it. We don’t call our networks ‘Cellular’ any more than we spell flavour without the letter ‘u’.  But it is a more realistic description of the devices capabilities in this country and as such a reasonable conclusion. Can we move on now?

Apple explained the move in a statement that said “Carriers do not all refer to their high speed networks with the same terminology, therefore we’ve decided to use “Wi-Fi + Cellular” as a simple term which describes all the high speed networks supported by the new iPad.  The advanced wireless features of the new iPad have not changed.”

It got into this mess though because it was happy to label its device as 4G, even though it’s only works as 4G in the US and Canada. While LTE/4G is edging ever closer in the UK, this new iPad won’t do the 4G thing – its frequencies are just not compatible. One would hope and suspect, that next year’s model will offer an integrated LTE chipset that is friendlier to European frequencies, but that is of course dependant on the progress made by the chipset providers, which in all likelihood means Qualcomm. By the time the next iPad comes out there should be a large addressable market across Europe for a multi frequency chipset to be produced in enough numbers to ensure economies of scale kick in. Bring it on.

iPad 3 still not 4G UK punters discover

Why does everything in the UK take so long? We have the worst trains, the slowest 3G and as we should know by now, no ‘4G’ of any kind at all – at the moment. We even take longer than everyone to complain. Yet, isn’t that what we’re good at? Let me explain.

Soon after the new iPad was released I pointed out that though it was heavily pushed by Apple as ‘4G’, the LTE frequencies supported meant that it would only work on ‘4G’ networks in the US and Canada.

A few days, and a lot of iPad sales later, some Australian purchasers of said new iPad realised this and when they realised they’d been sold a 4G pup got rather irate. (Australia does have a ‘4G’ LTE network with Telstra, but it operates at 1800MHz – the iPad + 4G does not). Cue throwing of iPad’s on barbies and hurling abuse via the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), actions that have led to refunds.

It’s taken quite a while, but the UK has finally woken up to the same fact, and as Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC Technology journalist explains, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has also received some complaints. Only 40 of them though, which considering it sold three million in three days, doesn’t seem that many.

Of course, as the UK doesn’t have any live LTE ‘4G’ networks the issue isn’t as acute as in Australia, though in fact, as you can tell from this Which? conversation page, I was asked to contribute to, many UK punters thought that if Apple was selling a 4G iPad, there must be a 4G network.

At first I thought that this was as silly as the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, who famously thought that if you can’t see it, it couldn’t see you.

Then again, that’s probably a bit harsh. For punters who don’t want, or don’t care to pay attention to the finer details of mobile broadband technology, it’s not an totally unreasonable assumption to make. (Clearly, Joe Bloggs should be paying more attention to the finer details of mobile broadband technology).

Even for those that do know that the UK doesn’t have LTE now, the information that it won’t support the UK’s LTE  when it comes online next year, comes very much as news to them.

It’s a problem.

As such, it seems that Apple has promised to remove all references to 4G from the UK website – though as it stands, they are still there.

It’s a 4G quagmire out there.

On the upside, it’s stopped raining here in London. It’s not all bad.

New iPad: More Fuel for the Signalling Storm

Doug Suriano, CTO of Tekelec

In the third of our series of guest blog posts, Doug Suriano, CTO of Tekelec explains the need for operators to quickly get a handle on the increase in signalling on their networks.

The third-generation iPad was one of the strongest iPad debuts yet. Pre-orders sold out before a single tablet had been shipped, and predictably lines were out the door when the device hit the shelves.

As the first LTE-enabled iPad, this product will have a huge impact on North American LTE operators, and likewise for operators in markets where LTE will soon be deployed, in a way few have considered. Mobile operators face a dual threat to network performance, customer loyalty and profitability models. The first is the well-documented growth in the volume of mobile data traffic. The second is equally critical: a ‘signalling storm’ caused by the cumulative impact of connected device and application growth, personalised service plans, and an increasingly mobile subscriber base.

The Diameter signalling traffic is the new challenge

With LTE on board, the iPad 3 is more enticing that ever for HD video, over-the-top services such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as a wide variety of data-heavy consumer and business applications. However, the rise in mobile data traffic will not be operators’ primary problem. They have been aggressively addressing data capacity for years with strategies such as migration to 3G and LTE, policy control and offloading traffic to Wi-Fi.

With LTE, operators will need to handle network signalling messages. Signalling is the underlying communications that enables charging, billing, user authentication and authorisation. These essential messages support data activity over 3G and LTE networks. The impact of network signaling, however, has gone largely unreported.

The new iPad is what I consider to be the first widely available ‘iconic’ LTE device. By virtue of its popularity, features and applications, it will escalate the volume of network signaling on LTE networks to new levels. Also, as sales increase, usage will occur outside of LTE coverage spots. Each time a subscriber moves to or from an LTE coverage area, the new iPad will register on the correct network technology, introducing a new type of signaling to the tablet market.

Mobile data usage has led to an explosion in signalling traffic generated by billions of connected devices and apps. Subscribers often use multiple applications simultaneously, requiring networks to track data usage more frequently for billing purposes. In fact, one large tier one customer told us that the number of concurrent sessions per subscriber, a measure of the number of separate mobile data activities, has increased 50 per cent in the last year.

We expect that number to increase by at least another 50 per cent in the next year, due to the LTE iPad and the expected arrival of the several new LTE smartphones. These devices increase the appeal and use of the mobile Internet and expand the number of subscribers using mobile applications.

Recent network outages serve as a reminder that a rapid growth in subscribers, devices and applications is causing a ‘signaling storm’ for operators. For most operators in developed markets, signaling traffic growth is exceeding data traffic growth.

The good news is that mobile operators can manage the signalling surge by implementing equipment based on a protocol called Diameter. This is the language that the major core and control elements in the LTE network use to communicate. By routing Diameter signalling messages more intelligently and efficiently, operators can bolster network performance; improve subscribers’ quality of experience and scale for the millions of new devices that will populate their LTE networks.

The LTE World Summit is taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain. Click here to register your http://ws.lteconference.com/interest.

You call that 4G? This is 4G… – Apple offers refunds to peeved Australian iPad buyers

It seems that the confusion over the new iPads LTE compatibility that I discussed on its release day has peeved some Australians so much, that Apple is offering refunds to anyone who felt they were misled into buying a ‘4g iPad.

In fact, the Australian competition watchdog, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), will actually be filing an application with the country’s Federal Court to seek, ““injunctions, pecuniary penalties, corrective advertising and refunds to consumers affected”.

Wow, those are some seriously peeved consumers.

So who is at fault? Apple is perfectly entitled to call the iPad with LTE the 4G iPad, but it’s clear that it needed to do a better job in communicating the small print that not all 4G is created equal. As it says on the iPad features page, “4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the US, and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada.” The problem is that it’s in tiny writing down at the bottom that I imagine would be hard to spot even on the ‘resolutionary’ new iPad display.

It’s clearly even more of an issue in Australia at down under they have an actual commercial LTE network deployment from Telstra. However, this uses 1800MHz for its LTE, which is not supported by the iPad 4G, which operates on 700MHz and 2100MHZ LTE network only. It’s not hard then to imagine that many punters would have bought one specifically for its 4G compatibility, only to be disappointed when they realised they’d been ‘had’.

Apple would have done well to have made that clearer and to talk up its actually quite impressive 3G capabilities more. After all, the chipset inside supports HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA, which can reach some pretty impressive theoretical top speeds. HSPA+ is currently being rolled out across the UK by all the networks and though is somewhat patchwork at the moment by the end of the year is should be much more widespread so if you’ve bought an iPad 4g and are feeling glum about the lack of LTE, the don’t – you’ll still, to some extent, ‘get the benefit’ as my Grandma used to say.

As we in the industry know, these technologies are technically evolutions of 3G, but that hasn’t stopped them being marketed by AT&T and T-Mobile in the US at 4G. Then again everything is 4G in the US, LTE, DS-HSPA, HSPA+, WiMAX, and two cans and on some rural networks, two cans and a piece of string. (That is an actual FACT).

That said, if anyone does feel strongly about it in the UK, they can direct their ire at the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). Not that I’m stirring or anything.

Tilak Tejaswini, the global head of carrier services for Telstra International Singapore will be speaking at the LTE Asia summit in September, though if you can’t wait till then, the iPad 4G topic is sure to crop up at the LTE World Summit, taking place in May in sunny Barcelona.

What’s the LTE frequency Mavis?

So the Apple hoopla is now over and, well, OK, it’s not over at all, but now that the new iPad has finally been unveiled the agonising pent up expectation has been dealt with and we can start to get on with our lives.

Looking at the specs, a few things of note occur. The HD display was, of course what this release was all about in the main, and it does sound like an amazing achievement. More resolution than a Full HD TV in a small 9.7in space will make for incredibly sharp, vibrant and clear images. Eventually it will Make Things Better, as web site designers, photographers and app designers realise they need to improve the visual quality of everything they do for fear of the new iPad display laying bare their flaws.

The next issue is the name. It appears to be officially called, ‘the new iPad’. Really? Facepalm.

The first iPad was called the iPad. The second iPad was called the iPad 2. So naturally the third is called… the new iPad. This sort of thing makes me a bit cross. Could we not just avoid confusion and called it the iPad 3? Would iPad HD have been too terrible? (Update: @ianbetteridge points out that it’s actually just called: iPad. Still, point stands.)

One tech journo wag on Twitter wrote, “I’ve given it some thought and I refuse to call it “New iPad”. No. I’d rather call it Glen, Tina or Gregg Jevins.” I’d be included to agree, though I’m leaning towards Mavis. Mavis it is then.

Another thing Mavis doesn’t have is the Senseg textured feel tech that some tech journos were getting very lathered up about yesterday. And because it’s not there we shall not speak of it again.

We also get a much improved 5-megapixel camera with 1080p recording, which is nice. This no doubt – will be putting further strain on network if pictures and videos are sent uncompressed.

Which brings us to LTE. Yesterday I said that the iPad, sorry, Mavis, might come out in two flavours – one regular 3G and one LTE enabled one for North America. I was wrong, amazingly. In fact, there’s one world LTE enabled Mavis, though outside of the US in terms of LTE, it’s as useful as a chocolate teapot.

This is because it’s only compatible with both the 700MHz bands used in the US by AT&T and Verizon. It also has LTE 2100, which is Big in Japan, and Nigeria. Great.

This means that when LTE networks become widespread in Europe, this iPad will simply not work with them. Europe is in the main going to use three main frequencies for LTE: – 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz, so it will require a new chipset that supports those for European users to get LTE Mavis joy. It works the other way too – US users coming here will have to drop down to 3G. In the promotional video for Mavis, Bob Mansfield, senior vice president of hardware engineering says that it “works with more mobile bands than every mobile device ever.” Assuming this is true, it’s impressive but Apple needs to up the count even further for the next one. Not that it will be so terrible having to drop down to 3G, as the Mavis now supports HSPA+ and DC-HSPA (21Mbps and 42Mbps respectively and these are theoretical maximums; also known as ‘in your dreams’.

On an iPad, sorry Mavis, it’s less of an issue as wi-fi only tablets version tend to be popular, and that might be the safest route for now, and you can always tether to a mifi or smartphone.

The question then is if a newer LTE chipset will be ready by the time the iPhone 5 launches. If not, it will be more of an issue, as then Europe would effectively be stuck without LTE until the iPhone 6! I know, it barely bares thinking about.

(Picture is ‘borrowed’ from Nate Lanxon’s spiffing hands-on preview at Wired.co.uk.

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For more LTE terminal device discussions be sure to book your place at the LTE World Summit taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain. 

LTE iPad a ‘touchy’ subject

It’s a common bugbear for some tech journalist  that in the lead up to an Apple product launch, other tech titles do almost nothing other than feed the Apple trolls. That being said I thought I’d allow myself one single Apple post just in case you’re not aware what’s happening tonight . (If that’s you – how is that rock you’ve been living under?)

Tonight will see Apple launch the third iteration of its iPad tablet computer. First announced in January 2010 the iPad is now Apple’s second largest generator of income, second only to the iPhone and ahead of the Mac. According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple sold 40.5 million iPads in the calendar year 2011, driving revenue of nearly $25 billion. For a device that many analysts feared would flop, these figures are astounding.

As ever, the techosphere has been buzzing with guesses of what upgrades Apple will be including in the new machine, and trying to glean hints from the image in the invite that Apple sent round to those attending. The main new feature will undoubtedly be an upgrading high resolution display. The expectation is that it will offer double the resolution of the first two iPads, taking it from 1,024 x 768 to 2048 x 1536. This is much greater than almost all standard computer displays, which is remarkable for a 9.7in screen. This means that text, web sites and images will look even more crisp and clearer than ever before . The downside is that all iPad apps will have to be rewritten for the new high res display, or just run in double-up x2 mode, as standard iPhone apps can do when they run on the iPad. Unfortunately, this is a rather ugly mode, but a period of pain as Apps are gradually upgraded will be worth enduring to enjoy the quality on offer.

"And touch", eh. Is that a clue?

All this means that the name  is up for debate? Will it be iPad 3, iPad HD, or even, as would be quite apt, iPad touch – mirroring the iPod touch that it already offers. I kind of like the symmetry.

To power the demands of the new display the new iPad will need a faster processor, and there’s debate as to whether this will be new quad-core A6, and updated dual-core A5X, or lots of fast pedalling tiny squirrels. We’re hoping for the latter.

The second rumoured change is the introduction of real ‘touch’ feedback. The clue is in the ‘And touch’ part of the invite. Apple chooses its words carefully, and likes to hint at its launch news in the invites. The rumour is that it will use a technology called ‘Senseg, that will bring real-feel textures to the iPad (as the Guardian explains here) – so an image of say a corrugated surface will feel rough, and a soft surface will feel soft. The tech sounds pretty sci-fi, but it would be very Apple to pull it off. Senseg was showing off its tech as Mobile World Congress but after announcing in January that it was working with ‘a Californian tablet maker’, it’s gone all shy and won’t confirm anything.

The third rumour is that the iPad will introduce an integrated LTE chipset for the first time in its connected version. If it does this it will be forced to move away from the single worlds chipset it currently offers on the iPhone 4S, as the 700MHz LTE on AT&T and Verizon are not compatible. What’s more, when LTE arrives in Europe it will have to support 800, 2.6GHz and probably 1800MHz too. What Apple need is once LTE chipset to rule them all.

What’s clear is that LTE is third fiddle on the rumour mill, possibly even behind the hope that Apple might offer the fondleslab in colours other than black and white. For the UK and LTE in the iPad is naturally something of an irrelevance, (unless you live in Southwark), but for those in the rest of the world outside of the US that does have LTE it could be frustrating not to have access to a feature that those in the US do. That said, this is what mifi devices were made for – and you get to buy the cheaper wifi only iPad at the same time. Job done.

Waiting for Qualcommo

The new CEO of RIM - Thorsten Heins. Will the best LTE chipsets come to those who wait?

So Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, the co founders of ailing Blackberry smartphone maker RIM, have finally seen sense and stepped down. It seems that they have finally done what everybody has been telling them to do for some time – get up, get out and get a clue. Whatever RIM has been doing over the past few years, clearly hasn’t been working, with the company losing market share faster than something that loses market share really fast, going downhill. Like Nokia.

It’s a welcome move, but if we were being kind we have to admit that we don’t think that new boss Thorsten Heins has quite the charisma of a Steve Jobs – we can’t see him easily inspiring the troops to innovate it’s way out of trouble. If we were mean, and we’re not, we’d say he seems too conservative, too boring.

Well, we’re a bit mean. He’s seems boring.

What RIM simply needs is a hit, and with Apple and Android phones continually upping their game, not to mention the possibility of a resurgent Windows Phone powered Nokia, that’s going to be a tall order.

The hope is that Blackberry 10 devices and PlayBook 2 updates will save the say, but as ever with RIM these are subject to delays. The suggestions are that RIM is waiting for new LTE chipsets from Qualcomm. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that – after all, Apple doing the same. However, Apple is the second richest company in the world and its phones so successful it barely updated the last one and still had a monster hit on its hand. For RIM however, the clock is ticking.

The problem is, the reasons to want a Blackberry are now smaller than ever. RIM came into existence on the back of email – a unique appeal that pretty much went with the introduction of the first smartphones. Then there’s the enterprise integration and security – areas the competition are making huge strides in. In fact you could argue that much of its continued success is from momentum of an existing customer base rather than any genuine technical advantages.

I personally know of one IT department at a large law firm that is exclusively a RIM shop, investigating the competitors as an insurance policy in case its main supplier goes belly up, and I’m sure it’s not the only one.

Then there’s its biggest remaining pull for many is from the “I have to have a keyboard” brigade – but my long held view is that this bunch are just stick-in-the-muds. The benefit of a smartphone is as an internet device, and taking up half its space with a keyboard virtually negates that; browsing on a Blackberry is unquestionably poor compared to a large screened iPhone, iPod touch or Android device.

So can RIM actually afford not to get new product out there quickly? If it is goes early and chooses to go with HSPA devices, it will be seen as a lagging behind, even if Blackberry customers are not the ones who are likely to actually need LTE speed. It could go for the current LTE chipsets, but that would force even more design compromises, and negate battery life that is probably its one real boon over that of the iPhone and Android brigade.

The face is that it’s caught between a rock and a hard place and in essence it is going to be forced to wait it out. And while Apple can bide its time, and use it to further improve the iPhone 5 or count its stash of cash, RIM will have to just cling on, and hope that when those suitably downsized, power efficient Qualcommm LTE chipsets finally appear, there’s still a company  to make use of them.

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