Posts tagged ‘wifi’

The Role of Wi-Fi in Mobile Networks: Interview with du’s Senior Director for Wireless Broadband, Terminals & Performance

Ayman ElNashar

Ayman Elnashar, Senior Director for Wireless Broadband, Terminals & Performance at du

The integrated service provider du has been selected as the Official Smart City Wi-Fi Provider in Dubai and has since been successfully expanding its Wi-Fi network to major landmarks in UAE, such as Dubai Tram [1] and Global Village [2], etc…

Ahead of the LTE MENA conference in Dubai, we spoke with Ayman Elnashar, Senior Director for Wireless Broadband, Terminals & Performance at du. Ayman will be discussing du Wireless Broadband plans in more detail at the show, but I wanted to find out how du subscribers are already getting a better service thanks to this innovation.

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WiFi Offload/Roaming Part 3: Diameter and LTE Interworking Is Crucial

Jim Machi, Dialogic

Jim Machi, vice president of product management for Dialogic

In my last blog I discussed the architectures needed to roam between WiFi and 3G/4G networks. In order to enable interoperability between the different architectures, a mediation and interworking platform is required to support the different scenarios in which RADIUS, Diameter and SS7 are used.

fig1_p3

As discussed in my prior blogs, RADIUS is critical for interworking with WiFi networks. Authentication and authorization of roaming subscribers is performed through RADIUS messages over an inter-operator interface between the visited network provider and home service provider. The interface can be implemented directly between two operators or through an intermediary, like an IPX or WRIX provider. The interworking functionality can be placed within either the visited or home operator’s networks, an IPX/WRIX provider or all three locations.

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Wi-Fi Offload/Roaming Part 2: Wi-Fi, 3G/4G Roaming and Interworking Architectures

Jim Machi, Dialogic

Jim Machi, vice president of product management for Dialogic

By Jim Machi, vice president of product management for Dialogic, where he is responsible for driving the overall roadmap and product strategy.

In my last blog, I discussed Wi-Fi roaming and the WRIX. The WRIX, an IPX-like exchange for Wi-Fi roaming, is broken into three levels that cover the various interactions needed between operators to support roaming.

First is the WRIX-i, or interconnect, which specifies the interface between the visited network provider (VNP) and the home service provider (HSP). WRIX-i requires use of RADIUS authentication, authorization and accounting (AAA) procedures and some specific attributes associated with access and accounting services. The WRIX-d is for data clearing and wholesale accounting. Lastly, the WRIX-I is for financial clearing and wholesale billing.

The WRIX specifications provide a high degree of interoperability between Wi-Fi operators, but real-world implementation has some obstacles. For example, it may still require RADIUS-to-RADIUS mediation and the need for interworking functionality with other signaling protocols to correct incompatibilities between operator networks. This is because one implementation of RADIUS may not exactly match another implementation of RADIUS. Plus, in order to accommodate roaming over a diverse set of user devices and network implementations, Wi-Fi and 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) network architectures will need to provide interworking between different protocols used for AAA, as well as mediate between variations of the same protocol.

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LTE and wifi: two halves of the same coin

As I’ve mentioned in a recent post I’ve recently switched to EE, mainly to get LTE, and on the whole it’s excellent. However, the downside is that I had to move away from the unlimited data I was used to when I was on GiffGaff (an MVNO of O2 – Telefonica UK).

I now have a data cap of 3GB of data a month, which from what I can gather in on the large side compared to the average mobile user. I came close to using all of this one month but usually keep well under – and wifi is key to this.

Aside from wifi access at work, I’ve been taking more time to sign up to wifi networks when they present themselves and recently that seems to have been happening more often.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m now being forced to pay more attention to wifi hotspots because of my data cap, or if BT has recently got its finger out, but I’ve found BT wifi hotspots seemingly pop up quite a lot. As EE’s data packages offer from access to BT wifi hotspots this is a Good Thing.

hotspot

Barclays Bank recently announced a deal with BT to offer free wifi and other places dotted around such as restaurants offer it. That said, somewhat irritatingly there’s no hotspot or indeed EE coverage at the gym I recently joined, and their combined absence puts a rather large dent in my ability to stream music to my phone. Having to cache tracks ahead of time seems a rather dated approach to take.

BT has recently rebranded its BT Openzone hotspots as BT wifi, which makes things a little confusing but it does makes things easier to understand, so it’s a sensible move from a consumer perspective.

The point though is that having that any operator offering a data cap needs to have a solid wifi proposition to go along with it, in order to ensure its users can get a good data experience without worrying about their caps and to act as a backhaul channel to offload data from the core network. It makes sense for the user, and it makes sense for the operator.

The issue is that sometimes the EE app picks up the hotspot and enables access seamlessly – and sometimes it doesn’t, making the process far more clunky – firing up the browser, enter a phone number and passcode in to a launch page and then correcting mistakes and then waiting for it to connect blah, blah, blah. Too slow. Hotspot 2.0 can’t come soon enough.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a flyer for the event.

LTE everywhere, but not a drop to drink

The LTE World Summit 2012 finished earlier this week, and by and large it was a great success – with the great and the good of the mobile industry interested in LTE (which is pretty much everyone), attending in some form or another.

While it was a success an issue did crop up was that while wifi was available in the exhibition hall, it was not freely available in he Plenary. For anyone who enjoys tweeting this is something of an issue. Tweeting is a spontaneous art form, and once you’ve memorised what you want to say, left the room, gone down two floors, gone into the exhibition hall and waiting for your phone, your tweet may well have gone stale.

Fundamentally, the root cause of the issue is one that strikes at the heart of the issues that the conference was addressing – that I could not tweet as I refused to turn on my data connection for fear of the outrageous roaming charges. There has been movement in this area – the EU has recommended caps on reducing charges and O2 has responded by announcing rates much lower than there – but they won’t kick on until July this year. (I’m on Giffgaff, an o2 (Telefonica) MNVO, so we’ll see if this gets passed on).

Wifi offload was also one of the big topics of conversation at the conference and while interference from multiple hotspots was not an issue, congestion from too many requests was – highlighting one of that technology’s drawbacks.

What we’re all dreaming of is to be able to use our phones abroad as we would at home – on fast, effective LTE networks. That’s the vision we’re all driving towards. Of course if we were already there – living the dream, or at least, tweeting the dream, they’d probably be no need for an LTE conference in the first place, which would just not do at all. As such, I’m looking forward to great LTE coverage at affordable prices – at the 5G conference coming your way soon.

Voicing our fears over data: the iPhone, the app and the police.

A remarkable story caught my eye yesterday. It’s not specifically LTE related but nevertheless I thought I’d flag it, as it’s data related. As reported in depth here by The Next Web, the founder of VoIP app Viber was met at the airport by police after using his app on the in-flight wifi on a Delta Airlines flight in the US. Viber is an smartphone app that lets you make calls, send video or texts to another device that also has it installed – but crucially doesn’t require any login, making it ‘always-on’  It has just launched beta apps for Windows Phone 7 and Blackberry, joining iPhone and Android, so it’s going to get real big, real soon.

It seems Talmon was chatting away when a flight attendant told him that it was against the rules to use VoIP on the air. He immediately ended the call, but when he was told it was against FAA rules he challenged this. Then he was told it was against the terms of service of the GoGo wifi service – which he again disputed. He was then handed an FAA brochure and when he took a picture of this the flight attendant felt he was being difficult, made quite a leap, and informed him that he would be met at the airport by the police. Remarkably, he actually was.

Fortunately the police realised that he had done little wrong and did not charge him.

Talmon states in an email response to comments on The Next Web article that he ended the call immediately when requested and that he was, “very polite, no raising my voice, no cursing, no abuse whatsoever.”

It does seem something of an overreaction by Delta to have called the cops on him. I have an iPhone with Viber installed. I might easily have done the same

Of interest here is that the supplying of an affordable data connection on a flight is what led to this. These services have been available for a while so it’s perhaps surprising that this hasn’t actually happened before. VoLTE will of course be treat voice as data, but it will still require network coverage to operate so that won’t be an issue. However, as more and more people become used to using apps they will realise that they can make calls when they have no network coverage but do have internet access.

The FAA is actually clear that it is not its policy to block VoIP calls but does not have a policy on this, and states clearly:  “This is not an FAA restriction; they are simply responding to the overwhelming majority of their customers, who prefer silent communications to the public nature of Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) calls.”

In fact, Talmon had actually broken the GoGo terms of service. The question is then, why is that restriction there? Is GoGo worried about bandwidth? Presumably it’s fine to watch, or at least try and watch, a YouTube video on GoGo, so a compressed audio only call should not be an issue.

It could be purely a social etiquette issue then – people will not want other barking loudly into their phones in a confined area on a plane. Fair enough. If that’s the case then, then why has the company that runs GoGo introduced a Android smartphone designed specifically for use on its service? That seems a little contradictory.

Clearly it’s still early days for VoIP and the boundaries between safety, social etiquette and commercial concerns still need to be worked out. Let’s hope it can be done soon and hopefully without involving the police.

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