Friday, February 19, 2016

Middle East telecoms operators face up to IoT smart city challenges


As investment in the internet of things (IoT) ramps up in the Middle East, the region’s telecoms operators are assessing the impact this will have on their networks.
A number of countries in the region are embarking on a drive to create "smart cities", with government and semi-government entities investigating IoT technologies. Leading the charge are the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, in which spending on smart city IoT use cases is expected to grow 19.3% annually until 2019, according to IDC’s IoT Spending Guide.
Operators in these countries are already taking note of the demands these investments will place on their networks. Paul Black, director of telecoms and media at IDC Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said some of them are looking at how dedicated smart city networks can be used on top of existing infrastructure.
“With smart city communication infrastructure expected to be overlaid on the country's telecom infrastructure, the existing telecom network infrastructure will serve as the foundation for the future smart city projects,” he told Computer Weekly.
Black said regional operators will continue investing in the extension of Wi-Fi hotspots and small cell networks to extend the reach of smart city communication networks.
But some countries in the Middle East, such as Kuwait, struggle with adding services on top of existing networks, simply because existing networks are already stretched. In these cases, fixed-line services are not fully developed, and so are overloaded. To cope with this, services are delivered over mobile networks – but again, these struggle to cope with the demands placed on them.
Even in more developed markets, such as the UAE – in which operators have invested heavily in both access and backhaul networks – there are challenges associated with creating IoT-ready networks.

Read more about smart cities

Extracting revenues to invest

According to Marwan Binshakar, vice-president for mobile access network and operations at UAE operator Du, one issue lies in sufficiently monetising mobile broadband use to afford investing in the network. He said these investments need not just cover the ongoing maintenance of the mobile broadband network, but also allow for upgrades that might provide IoT and smart city services in the future.
The need for operators like Du to extract more revenue out of mobile broadband users is pressing, given projected smartphone growth numbers in the UAE.  
“The current forecast for the number of smartphones is to increase 10 times by 2020, compared to 2015. It is clear that the revenue generated by mobile broadband will be the dominant factor,” Binshakar told Computer Weekly.
“Having said that, the biggest challenge will be how to capitalise on such growth in revenue while controlling the capital expenditure needed to expand the network to accommodate such exponential growth.”

Accomodating traffic growth

The growth in mobile data revenue has proved lucrative for the region’s operators, who have seen their traditional telecom businesses stumble. But according to IDC’s Black, mobile data revenue growth has yet to match the investments operators have had to put in to enable the growth in data volumes. As a result, operators are looking for ways to drive greater efficiencies to reduce their costs.

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Binshakar said Du takes a number of approaches to accommodate traffic growth, but each has its own challenge. For example, when it comes to better mobile spectrum management, the main challenge lies in acquiring more spectrum. An alternative strategy is to modernise the network – but this is costly, and operators can only justify investment if they can demonstrate a substantial return.
Finally, small cells can overcome capacity issues in the network. But he said the acquisition of small cells is hardly cost-effective – at least at the moment – despite Black’s assertions that operators will continue to invest in them.
“The challenge is the current cost for those small cells, which still haven’t reached a point that would immediately justify the deployment,” he said.

Returns on smart city investment

Outfits such as Du take the view that investing in smart city and IoT-dedicated networks could lead to alternative revenue streams. Granted, Du will need to address the requirements of the UAE government in its push to create smart cities, but Binshakar said the operator should be able to capitalise on smart city initiatives.
“We are involved in deliberations and actively participating in all these initiatives and present challenges on how to implement the networks with the right cost and efficiency variables,” he said.
“We do not see the introduction of the smart city as a burden or a strain on us, but rather an opportunity for new future revenue streams.”
Du is already making strides when it comes to investing in smart city requirements. In September 2015, it successfully tested its first low-power, wide-area network. That infrastructure can relay data from sensors country-wide. At the time, Du claimed the network’s low energy consumption prolongs sensor battery life by years.
And with the IoT installed based across the Middle East expected to grow significantly until 2020, IDC’s Black said other operators in the region are expected to follow Du’s lead.
“The significance of IoT is already growing fast in the enterprise domain and, with boundaries being pushed to cover smart cities and various consumer IoT use cases, there might be a need for IoT-dedicated networks,” he said.

Mobile innovation shifts to smartphone services

The worldwide slowdown in smartphone sales and shipments is making suppliers pause to reconsider how they innovate, according to Gartner.
With the annual Mobile World Congress show just days away, attention is again turning to a wave of new smartphones to be launched at the fair in Barcelona, but analysts doubt there will be any great leaps forward in capabilities this year.
Speaking to Computer Weekly, Gartner research director Anshul Gupta said that because fewer people are buying high-end smartphones and choosing instead to either sweat their devices for as long as possible or go for a cheap and cheerful replacement, there is less capital available for R&D.
“There are some areas where smartphone manufacturers can ramp up innovation,” said Gupta. “But these are more around services, such as Apple Pay, connected homes, and so on.”
Gupta’s colleague Roberta Cozza said suppliers will begin to offer more and more bundles of sensors and enhanced connectivity standards to support the smartphone’s role as a hub for the internet of things.
“We should also observe the evolution of biometric technologies, which enable authentication as well as more personalised device experiences,” she said. “New biometric technologies will go beyond fingerprint and increasingly include voice, facial recognition and other modes to enable authentication.
“I expect immersive experiences, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) capabilities, to be another key theme in 2016. For example, Samsung Gear VR already uses a smartphone as a portal for VR experiences, and we expect continued development of this more mainstream approach, together with the consumption of 360-degree videos.”
According to Gartner, smartphone sales to end-users totalled 403 million in the final quarter of 2015, up 9.7% on the equivalent period in 2014, the slowest rate of growth since the market’s inception eight years ago. Sales of Apple iPhones actually declined year-on-year.
By Gartner’s reckoning, the top five suppliers in the year-end quarter were: Samsung, which sold 83.4 million units, accounting for 21% of the market; Apple, which sold 71.5 million units; Huawei, which sold 32.1 million units; Lenovo, which sold 20 million units, including Motorola devices; and Xiaomi, which sold 18.2 million units. Other suppliers sold 177.8 million units.

Read more about smartphones

Gupta said the market continues to be driven by low-cost smartphones in emerging markets, and aggressive pricing from local brands leading to more consumer upgrades coming from countries such as India, which is in the throes of a major 4G roll-out, and Indonesia.
Even so, said Gupta, 85% of users in the Asia Pacific market are replacing mid-range or entry-level devices with the same category, and margins are further squeezed for suppliers by currency devaluations against the US dollar.
More developed markets, such as Western Europe and North America, may also begin to attract the attention of cheaper, insurgent suppliers in the near future, said Gupta.
“Brands such as Xiaomi are increasingly selling through online channels in Europe, but if they want to put feet on the street, they will face challenges around establishing legal offices, licensing and, in some cases, even copyright law,” he said. “It will take a long time for such players to have offices, established after-sales service and warranties in these markets.”

Surrey University 5GIC project explores rural not-spots

The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) has published a new whitepaper exploring issues around universal mobile network coverage and the reach and reliability of future 5G mobile networks in rural and urban not-spots, parts of the country where a strong mobile signal cannot always be guaranteed.
The report, Meeting the challenge of “universal” coverage, reach and reliability in the coming 5G era, identified and explored challenges affecting rural mobile coverage, and suggested a vision of how 5G and existing network technology could work together to deliver appropriate resources to meet demand.
Experts at 5GIC, a government and industry-funded programme based at the University of Surrey’s Guildford campus, worked alongside industry partners at BT, EE, Real Wireless and Telef√≥nica, to produce the research.
“5G will be expected to deliver universal coverage, but in order to do this, we need to not necessarily build a faster or denser network, but a smarter network,” said report author Tim Brown of 5GIC.
“With the advent of 5G, users will want to hear impressive headline speeds, as this is how previous generations such as 4G have been marketed, but in reality, speed is overly focused on the urban user.”
5GIC head Rahim Tafazolli said future network providers would have to give users the impression – if not always the reality – of infinite network capacity by delivering a response to network demand that he described as “always sufficient”.
“This involves building a smart network that can handle basic demands, such as 999 calls from the most remote locations, to the delivery of reliable networks to villages and hamlets in an economically viable manner,” said Tafazolli.
The resulting paper explored several means by which these challenges could be addressed, including redesigned base stations, spectrum resourcing, and even smartphone design. For example, snap-on external antennae could boost signal reception for users.

Read more about 5G

  • Network operator AT&T announces plans to test 5G technology to provide wireless connectivity before the end of 2016.
  • A report from analysts at 451 Research urges businesses to start preparing their technology for 5G mobile networks ahead of deployment.
  • Huawei commits to the pan-European 5G Public Private Partnership (5G-PPP) plan to strengthen five separate 5G research projects.
“Our paper explores seemingly simple answers to these difficult challenges, such as building higher masts to overcome obstructions such as trees and improved quality of the radio in mobile devices,” said Brown. “Where trees are of comparable heights to masts, coverage can be reduced by as much as 70% and this is the source of many of the rural coverage issues we see today.
“However, we must work with the public and authorities to ensure there is a balance between technology and landscape. This can be met with creative design that delivers what mobile users need, while retaining the personality of our countryside. The mobile device is becoming increasingly complex, with more radios and antennas packed into a small space, but there are clear examples of how this compromises coverage.”
Brown made the case for more investment in small cells and personal base stations, which are already seen by many as a key element of future 5G networks, and introduced the concept of ‘meadowcells’ – small cell developments originally intended for urban areas that can be repurposed and adapted to cover hamlets and villages.
The whitepaper sets out the business case for investment in new small cell, ‘metrocell’ and ‘personal base station’ technologies for rural environments. It explores how new ‘meadowcells’ (small cell developments originally intended for dense urban areas) can be adapted to provide small community coverage for hamlets and villages.
“Studies show that just a 9% increase in coverage equates to $1tn increase in worldwide GDP,” said Tafazolli. “These figures show that the business case for combating rural ‘not-spots’ makes sense, and it is now our job to realise these challenges and help to deliver a global 5G standard that will ensure access for all.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

How to Transfer iTunes Music to My iPhone

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Upload your favorite music to the iPhone 4's built-in iPod app.

Apple's iPhone 4 has lots of new, flashy features -- but it still plays music. The built-in iPod app lets you sync music, movies, TV shows and podcasts from your iTunes library with your iPhone so you can access your media on the go. iTunes, Apple's digital music management software, lets you categorize your music into playlists or just load individual music files onto your device. 

Step 1

Turn on your iPhone. If your iPhone is locked with a passcode, enter it to unlock your device.

Step 2

Connect your iPhone to your computer using the USB cable that came with your device. Open iTunes on your computer if it does not open automatically after connecting your iPhone.

Step 3

Click the device icon for your iPhone in the left column of the iTunes application window beneath "Devices." A general overview of the contents of your device will be displayed on the right side of the program window, and you can manage and edit content on your iPhone.

Step 4

Click the "Music" above your iPhone details on the right side of the iTunes program window to access settings for syncing your iTunes library with your iPhone. The capacity bar at the bottom of the window shows you how much space is available for music and other media on your iPhone.

Step 5

Click to check the "Sync Music" box to turn on music syncing. Click to check the "Entire music library" box if you have enough storage space and you want to sync your entire music library, including playlists, with your iPhone. If you want to include music videos and voice memos, click to check the corresponding boxes.

Step 6

Click the "Selected playlists, artists, albums, and*genres" box if you want to choose what music to sync with your iPhone.

Step 7

Select the playlists you want to sync by checking the boxes under the "Playlists" heading. You can also sync your playlists and Genius mixes created by iTunes with your iPhone.

Step 8

Select the artists you want to sync by checking the boxes under the "Artists" heading. Use this option if you want to sync all of the songs by a particular artist with your iPhone.

Step 9

Select the music genres you want to sync by checking the boxes under the "Genres" heading. Syncing a genre will import all of the songs you have categorized in that particular genre with your iPhone.

Step 10

Select individual albums to sync by checking the appropriate boxes under the "Albums" heading. If you previously checked the box to sync an artist, you do not need to sync albums by that artist.

Step 11

Click the "Apply" button to*sync your iPhone and apply changes. Wait until you see the "OK to disconnect" message in the iTunes status window to disconnect your iPhone. Your imported iTunes music is located in the iPod app on your iPhone.