[LINK] SMH: The Unwired Depend on Wires

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Mon Feb 28 09:45:16 AEDT 2011

[Some good, sane reporting from Barcelona]

Smartphones race ahead of networks and users
Date: February 28 2011
Lucy Battersby
The Sydney Morning Herald Business Section

In between coffees, meetings and product launches at the mobile 
industry's annual jamboree in Barcelona, many visitors were seen 
pulling out a computer or tablet to email and browse the web.

It was not surprising that there was free Wi-Fi available everywhere. 
What was surprising was the speed of that Wi-Fi. It was lousy. Really 
lousy. But when you think about it, it all makes sense, and is a 
perfect demonstration of the benefits and limitations of wireless 

Inside the congress were 60,000 people and all their devices and 
several thousand more devices on display. Apart from those who had 
turned data capabilities off to avoid roaming fees, everyone at some 
point was trying to access the internet through their smartphone or 
tablet or the latest invention.

The radio frequency allocated to the mobile phone cells and temporary 
Wi-Fi networks serving the congress area struggled with demand for 
data and slowed to a crawl.

Wireless routers were also used, but signals were slowed by walls. 
The most reliable and fastest connection came from an ethernet cable.

Inside venues femtocells (femto is a metric measurement) were plugged 
into fixed connections to boost mobile coverage. These cells 
transform fixed broadband into mobile broadband, thus taking people 
off the mobile phone tower cell. These cells have been widely 
distributed to households by the US mobile company AT&T to alleviate 
demand on the network.

While displaying the amazing benefits of plucking internet from the 
air and the future direction of mobile broadband, no one at the 
congress was arguing it would replace fixed broadband. In fact, the 
sector invests heavily in comprehensive fixed networks, so every 
mobile base station can plug into the internet. Telstra already has 
high-capacity ethernet cables running to 93 per cent of its mobile 
base stations, its chief executive, David Thodey, said at a press 
conference announcing the company's new 4G network.

''We see both fibre to the home and high-speed wireless being 
complementary. Giving people the option and running a truly 
homogenous core network is critically important,'' he says.


The author travelled to Barcelona as a guest of Ericsson.

Roger Clarke                                 http://www.rogerclarke.com/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW
Visiting Professor in Computer Science    Australian National University

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