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May'2001 Mobile Digest:
technologies and communications.

June 11, 2001



Last month was rich in exhibitions. For example, Business Show 2001 that has taken place in Japan. Photos from it are available in the mobile communications section. In this brief report about the world of novelties I shall try to acquaint you with the most interesting of them. Send your remarks, questions and wishes to eldar@ixbt.com

Market novelties

Past month was not rich in announcements of new devices, but it was repaid with interest by developers activity in other areas. E.g., Intel, which may soon occupy one of the leading positions in 3G phone manufacture, has made an announcement. More precisely, the company is going to take an outstanding place among component part suppliers for such phones, due to the new development which has been named "wireless on-crystal Internet". A highlight of new technology is that it unites such elements as flash-memory, micrologic units and analog communication processor on one chip. Because of differences in production modes, manufacture of these elements within single technical process was complicated. Having placed them on one crystal, it is possible to considerably reduce consumed power, and at the same time to produce more powerful processors. Presumable operating time of a phone made with usage of this technology, will make about one month with those power supplies that are used in phones now.

At Intel Developer Forum in Amsterdam Intel has shown an experimental system on a single chip with clock rate of about 400 MHZ, that is twice as much as the usual speed of a mobile phone processor. 170 MHZ processors are required for so-called 2,5G mobile phones, which are always connected to datasources, but have no broadband channel, and 300 MHZ ones are required for 3G phones.

The shown system is designed on the basis of Intel StrongARM processor made with usage of 0,18 micron technology. By the end of the year this processor will be gradually replaced by Xscale microarchitecture. According to Ron Smith, the vice-president and the top manager of Intel Wireless Computing and Communications Group, commercial products with "wireless on-crystal Internet" will start to appear when technological process will be 0,13 micron; he has not named exact terms. Intel plans to master the manufacture of 0,13 micron PC processors this year, what means only one thing: just months, not years, might pass before the implementation of this technology. Unfortunately, the shown sample was only a prototype and had increased power consumption. More efficient variants of this processor are in stage of development.

At the most favourable conditions for Intel, given technology will be claimed first of all by manufacturers of smartphones for 2.5G networks and only then for 3G devices. Reversed situation is also possible, it was well characterized by the representative of the ARM company, that is a mobile chip manufacturer, who said that mobile processors should just have necessary speed to lower battery power consumption.

Other companies also work in direction of joining several functions on one chip. So, at Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC), that has taken place in Orlando, Tropian company has promulgated its first chipset, named TimeStar, which will allow cellular telephones to use almost any landline or satellite facilities in the world.

Modern multiband and multimode phones consume battery charge much faster, than singlemode ones, however Tropian asserts that the company has changed the way of broadcast process management of mobile phones by means of digital radio system that uses various amplitudes and phase transfer technologies.

New chipset supports various standards including GPRS, EDGE, GSM, TDMA, AMPS and also GAIT. Deliveries to manufacturers are planned from the end of June, and repetition work is planned at the beginning of the next year. The first multimode multifrequency mobile phones should appear only the next summer.

But let's look what novelties have appeared on the market in May. Enviable activity was shown by Samsung Electronics, which has presented in May mobile phones for CDMA200-1x (IMT-2000) networks, equipped with VOD (video on demand) and AOD (audio on demand) functions.

Samsung Color VOD is equipped with 2,04" TFT-LCD monitor displaying up to 200 thousand colors, and allows to execute data communications with speeds up to 144 Kbit/s. The phone has a built-in MPEG-4 decoder, supports stereo audio playback, is capable of displaying up to 12 lines of text and to store up to 2400 telephone numbers in memory. The approx. price of a novelty will make 700 thousand won ($540). Alongside with Color VOD with TFT-LCD Samsung also plans to present a less expensive model with STN-LCD matrix (up to 256 colors). Unfortunately, the full specification of these phones is not present yet.

Other news are about the start of new LCD displays release with thin-film transistors. Screens of 2,04" in size are intended for mobile phones. They are capable of displaying 260 thousand color shades, have lowered (by 20% in comparison with similar models) power consumption and may be used in the dark. This year Samsung is going to increase the manufacture of such displays up to 1 million units per year and to start manufacture of small and medium-sized TFT-displays.

Another initiative of Motorola was the decision to to sell seven V.60c serie mobile phones with autographes of the Hollywood stars by Internet-auction (http://allstarcharity.com) on the 17th of May. Funds, received from sales, will be sent to the American fund of AIDS researches. I shall remind that the price of such device exceeds 500 dollars and these are the first Motorola phones with two displays. The starting price for each device was set to 300 dollars.

So, seven mobile phones with autographes of Johnny Depp, Richard Gere, Hugh Grant, Tom Hanks, Uma Turman, Sigourney Weaver (on the photo) and Elizabeth Taylor were displayed for sale on this Internet-auction. The autograph, copied from the signature of celebrity, was manually engraved on the phone steel case (one per everyone) by the world famous engraver.

People who has won the auction became the first in America to own V.60c phones as these devices will appear for sale only in middle of the summer. By results of the auction, finished on the 29th of May, the phone with Uma Turman's signature was the most expensive (650 dollars), the cheapest was the device with Johnny Depp's autograph (500 dollars only). For the sake of justice it is necessary to note that the price of other phones varied in range from 500 up to 535 dollars. .

In May Nokia has released 8850 model in the new case. The limited party (about 1000 units) has been named 'Gold Edition'. New phone in design almost does not differ from usual 8850 except for 'gold'colouring and details made of an alloy of magnesium and aluminium. Keys and the around display are chromeplated. The stuffing of the phone has remained the same, but it the price is higher as, however, for any exclusive thing.

Another interesting news are about the fact that on eBay auction the calculators, designed like Nokia 8250, have appeared. These nice toys cost 6 dollars only. I shall remind that the notebooks reminding Palm have appeared recently - 'false' things only begin to appear and we shall look what will be next.

A new name has appeared in the world of cellular telephones - Tel.Me company, the Austrian mobile phone manufacturer, who has announced T911 model, starting a 'Skyscraper' serie. Despite small weight (90 grammes) the phone is rather advanced: besides standard functions there is an opportunity to connect MP3-player and Bluetooth-module. Except for this model the company has another simpler one - T909.

Another newcomer, namely English Pogo Technologies company, finishes to work over it's own GSM-communicator which, according to the developer, will work in GPRS networks, and also in 3G networks in the future.

Pogo is a new type of palmtop computer with the built-in GSM-module, GPRS support and it's own operation system from Pogo Technologies. The basic functions, necessary for modern communicator, are provided: schedule, contacts, notifications, touch screen, virtual keyboard (without hand-written text recognition), hands-free support, search, special cartographical services with determination of subscriber's position, built-in MP3-player and expansion slot for MMC cards.

In four 'hornlets' of this little miracle are hidden: telescopic antenna, hands-free jack, a pen and a socket for charging unit. Pogo uses it's own compression technology which allows to receive documents from Internet through GSM-connection with the speeds close to those of analog 56K modem. In other words, you may surf usual Internet, send and receive SMS, synchronize and archive personal information with on-line services. .

Actually communicator is able to connect to the Internet only through company's server, it handles the information compression. Thus now any connections with Pogo outside the Great Britain will be very expensive since it is necessary to use international connections. However, with GPRS arrival this situation will change for the better.

The dimensions of communicator are: 150 mm in diagonal, 20 mm thick, 240 grammes of weight. Guiding price is $175. It is expected in the second half of the year.

Among new accessories it is necessary to note a small camera for cellular telephones, palm computers and other mobile devices. The module from OmniVision company, named OmniStar Cam, is based on the 100K pixel CMOS-sensor, created by the company and has, according to OnmiVision, incredibly low power consumption.

The company was successful in developing the device combining sensor, control module and lens in a supertiny case with dimensions of 12X12X7 mm only! Despite it's small size, the case not only contains the base of the digital camera, but also protects it from electromagnetic radiation from other cellular telephone electronics and also protects the reception circuit cellular phone from possible electromagnetic radiations of the camera.

Original technologies of module creation have allowed the company to considerably lower system power consumption. In the current variant the module consumes only about 45 milliwatt when shooting video at 30 FPS.

Shooting will be completely automatic: the camera itself sets exposure and white balance.

OmniStar Cam should will appear for sale in the fourth quarter of this year. The price of one module is unknown yet, however, it seems that already in the beginning of the next year the world will see a new generation of cellular telephones equipped with digital cameras.

And at last news from Lucent Technologies Inc., who has informed about the release of new models of Flexent OneBTS base stations, with usage of 'Intelligent Antenna and BLAST' (IA/BLAST) technologies, developed by the scientists from Bell Labs. New technologies will allow to increase covered area by 70%, and 3G base station communication bandwidth - by 100%. In perfect conditions bandwidth may be increased by 300%. The essential increase of parameters has been achieved due to usage of 'Intelligent Antennas' and of signal amplification technologies.

Deliveries of OneBTS platform to networks operators is planned to start in the second half of the year. Bulk sales are planned to start the next year. IA/BLAST technologies will be used in new base stations from the next year according to the needs in wider network bandwidths.

New services

It's not a secret that each month landline facilities become more and more expensive for the end user. No need to speak about payphones - they are unprofitable at all. New service, presented by British Telecommunications, bounded up with use of payphones, has became an indirect confirmation of their unprofitableness. The company plans to install 2700 new payphones across the country, which will allow to send SMS-messages or e-mails to any cellular telephone. There are already 598 of such booths in London. Special tiny keyboard is provided for text typing in the booth. The price of sending one SMS-message is 10 pences, however, it is possible to use credit cards.

There's no information about any success of this service. But it is possible to assume that the given project was developed during SMS-boom. You see, the Great Britain was the first by the amount of messages sent per month, that has been bound with zero price for this service. After the introduction of payment for sending SMS-messages their amount was sharply reduced, but all the same it exceeds billions. In any case BT is bound to raise payphones recoupment, and they think: it is quite probable that payphones will not disappear and will just slightly change, and in some ten years they will allow to participate in videoconferences or just to get high-speed Internet access, to download the necessary files, for example. Everything may happen, but this assumption seems too optimistic. I doubt that a payphone may become a convenient place to exchange files as one will have to stand in the majority of cases. Or usual booths will be turned into salons, equipped with armchairs and other conveniences.


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