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April 25, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Methods In The Wild To Return To LTE As Fast As Possible

LTE deployments are making steady progress and with good network coverage, network operators are keen to make sure devices are on LTE as much as possible instead of lingering around in 2G or 3G for too long. There are actually quite a number of mechanisms I've seen in various networks in the past so I thought I'd sum them up in a single post. Note that there are more mechanisms than described below but those are the one's I've seen in different networks while traveling.

Autonomous Reselection: This one's the easiest as the network only needs to signal LTE availability in 2G or 3G System Information messages (2G SIB 2quater and 3G SIB19). Mobile devices in idle state that have ended up in 2G or 3G for various reasons then periodically scan for LTE coverage in spectrum locations indicated in the SIBs and autonomously change back.

Release With Redirection: Instead of switching a mobile from active to a more power conserving state (e.g. from Cell-DCH to Cell-PCH), the network releases the connection with an RRC Connection Release message that contains redirect information to LTE. The mobile device then has a look if LTE is available straight away and leaves for greener pastures if LTE is found. For this to work the network operator must be reasonably sure that LTE coverage is actually present in the area where a release is made instead instructing the mobile device to use an active but less power hungry 3G state. Otherwise the mobile ends up in 3G idle state from which it takes more than one and a half seconds before data can flow again (for details see this post).

CSFB Release With Redirection: That's almost the same as above but part of a CS-Fallback procedure for voice calls. After the voice call ends the network releases all bearers and also includes redirect information. This is even done when a PS bearer is still established at the end of the call and IP packets are flowing.

GPRS to LTE Reselection During Data Transfer: This is a relatively new feature and allows the mobile to interrupt an ongoing 2G data transfer and switch back to LTE. Have a look here for the details.

UMTS to LTE Handover During Data Transfer: This functionality is unfortunately not yet widely deployed in networks, I haven't come across a single network that supported it. But from my point of view it's a very important piece of the puzzle as often I use a notebook and VPN that constantly keeps data flowing and once I end up in 3G due to running out of LTE coverage I'm stuck there until I run out of 3G coverage. At this point anything can happen, depending on how the network looks like once coverage is regained. I already wrote a post about this back in November 2014 so have a look in this post for the details.

by mobilesociety at April 25, 2015 01:19 PM

April 21, 2015

Brad Frost » Brad Frost | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

The What and Why of Pattern Lab

Dave Olsen (@dmolsen), the beloved developer of the Pattern Lab project, gave a great presentation about why Pattern Lab matters and what it can do.

by Brad Frost at April 21, 2015 04:55 AM

HTTP2 in 5 Minutes

Ben Maraney gave a great talk about how HTTP2 will speed up how the web works and will impact performance in a big way. Normally I struggle to make it through talks about in-the-weeds stuff like this, but I feel the 5-minute format was just perfect for this. I’d love to see more of this kind of stuff.

by Brad Frost at April 21, 2015 03:29 AM

April 20, 2015

Brad Frost » Brad Frost | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

Webdagene 2014 Recap

I had a fantastic time at Webdagene in Oslo, and this recap video does a great job of capturing the special nature of the event. They even included my little piece of advice, which is nice.

by Brad Frost at April 20, 2015 11:27 PM

WordPress Database Migration Tool

I just bought WP Migrate DB Pro to help keep my local databases and live sites in sync. Looking forward to digging into this. Right now my local sites and my live sites are way out of sync, and it can be really frustrating. I bought the developer version which includes media files in the mix, so that should definitely come in handy.

by Brad Frost at April 20, 2015 11:23 PM

Building websites that work on an e-ink Kindle

I recently wrote about accessibility and low-powered devices and shared a story about how my wife’s cousin uses a Kindle as her primary browsing device.

Chris Ferdinandi wrote a great follow-up post sharing some tips and gotchas for creating Web experiences that are a more acceptable on these older, lower-powered devices.

by Brad Frost at April 20, 2015 09:12 PM

April 16, 2015

Brad Frost » Brad Frost | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

Maker Series Recap: Brad Frost

I had a fantastic time traveling to nearby Dayton OH to talk about atomic design as part of Sparkbox’s Build Right: Maker Series. It was a really fun day largely in part because the Sparkbox crew set it up to be really casual and organic. Sure I talked for a while, but a large part of the day was dedicated to Q&A and conversation. It was a blast.

They have a whole bunch of other events coming up, and I would highly recommend attending them. They even have a season pass so you can attend a whole slew at a discount.

Also, the illustration they did reminds me of Gorillaz, which I think is amazing:

Brad Frost Gorillaz 2D

by Brad Frost at April 16, 2015 05:44 PM

mobiForge blog

Understanding web page weight

Page weight is the gravity of the web—a relentless downwards drag, ever present and utterly unavoidable. Understanding it is a critical aspect of a successful web strategy. We’ll be doing a series of articles on page weight covering background, measurement and reduction. In this article, part I of the series, we’ll talk about the importance of page weight.

by ronan at April 16, 2015 04:49 PM

April 14, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Moving Beyond the Aggregation of 5 LTE Carriers

While aggregating two LTE carriers in Europe exists but is still not very widespread due to the availability of 20 MHz single carriers there is talk in the industry about aggregating 3 carriers. There is still some room in the specs for the moment as the maximum number of aggregated carriers that can be accommodated so far is 5. But eventually, carriers might want to go beyond that as well so 3GPP is gearing up to work on a solution to eventually combine up to 32 carriers.

The work item description can be found in document RP-142286 presented not long ago in TSG RAN#66 in December 2014. At first I thought extending CA beyond 5 carriers might be straight forward by introducing a couple of additional information elements and extensions. But that's a bit too short sighted as the current solution puts all uplink transmissions including channel feedback on the primary cell (i.e. the primary carrier). So as more and more devices become carrier aggregation capable there's more and more uplink traffic in the PCell which increases as more and more carriers are aggregated. Therefore the model does not scale well and uplink traffic and feedback at some point needs to be distributed over several carriers if more and more of them are combined.

From an overall conceptual point if find an aggregation of up to 32 carriers quite interesting. Before the aggregation of 2 carriers made it into chipsets many people were saying that this is going to be difficult as it would increase complexity and hardware cost significantly. Fast forward to 2015 and the aggregation of 2 carriers is in the wild and built into many devices. Obviously the aggregation 32 carriers is yet again another beast. And then again who would have predicted just two years ago that we would see mass market devices that support 20 LTE bands?

by mobilesociety at April 14, 2015 06:08 AM

April 13, 2015

mobiForge blog

Webviews and User-Agent strings

Much is made of the comparative times spent browsing the web vs engaging with native apps in the apps vs web debate. An often overlooked part of the discussion is that when engaged with a native app some portion of this time is spent actually on the web, via a webview. We'll get to what a webview is in a minute, but for now, what this means is that although the user is in an app, he or she is effectively browsing the web.

by ruadhan at April 13, 2015 04:30 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

The 1 Millisecond 5G Myth

5G must be on the steep rise part of the Gartner Hype Cycle curve as I have heard a lot of non-technical people making a lot of technical statements out of context apart from the usual Mbit/s peak data rate claims. A prime example is the 1 millisecond round trip time that 5G should/will have to enable the 'tactile' Internet, i.e. Internet connectivity that is used to remotely interact with the physical world.

Sounds all nice but physics stands a bit in the way of this and nobody seems to say so. The speed of light and electricity is limited and in one millisecond, light can only travel around 200 km through an optical cable. So even if network equipment does not add any latency whatsoever, the maximum round trip distance is 100 km. In other words, there's no way to remotely control a robot with a latency of 1 ms in one part of the world from a place halfway around the world. But then, why let physics stop you?

So perhaps what was really meant is to further reduce the latency of network components? A big step was done in LTE with an air interface that has 1 ms slices and to base all network interfaces on the IP protocol to remove protocol conversions and the resulting overhead and latency. A scheduling interval of 1 ms means the round trip time on the eNodeB is in the order of at least twice this without even forwarding the packet to another node in the network. Add to this potential HARQ (Hybrid ARQ) retransmissions so you already end up at several milliseconds. Sure one could further reduce the length of the timeslices at the expense of additional overhead. But would it really help considering the many other routers between one device and another? Have a look at this great post of Don Brown and Stephen Wilkus which goes into the details.

by mobilesociety at April 13, 2015 06:00 AM

April 09, 2015

Brad Frost » Brad Frost | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

14 reasons you should attend one of my responsive design workshops

@benbrignell asked me to give 14 reasons why he should attend my upcoming responsive design workshop at UX London. So here are 14 reasons why you should attend one of my upcoming workshops:

  1. Unlimited pancakes
  2. New car smell
  3. Responsive design knowledge adds 15 years to your life, guaranteed.
  4. Every attendee will receive a five-minute-long hug from me.
  5. No Bob Seger™
  6. Your boss will automatically double your salary.
  7. Unlimited waffles (post-workshop)
  8. Skeet shooting?
  9. By the end of the workshop, you will suddenly be able to speak fluent Japanese.
  10. Every workshop attendee will receive a BRAND NEW CAR.
  11. Your knowledge of responsive design patterns will bring your enemies to their knees and have them begging for mercy.
  12. Rap battles.
  13. You will leave with actionable skills and techniques you can immediately apply to your design and development workflow.
  14. Eternal life.

*Individual results may vary.


by Brad Frost at April 09, 2015 03:38 PM

Accessibility and Low-Powered Devices

My wife’s cousin suffers from debilitating migraines. She’s done everything to reduce the migraines’ frequency, from dramatically altering her diet, to trying every available medical treatment, to even moving several times to different climates. Because of her condition, she has to minimize time spent with backlit screens. Recently she sent me a Facebook message:

My kindle (old kind, pre-paperwhite, e-reader screen only) has an experimental browser option. It can handle websites for a minute or two, then freezes. Is this something companies are looking at developing further? Let me know if you hear about anything like this.

She went on to explain how certain sites she visits crashes the e-reader’s browser, leaving her understandably frustrated. I responded by saying this type of stuff is what I talk with audiences and organizations about. She replied:

Keep preaching. I don't know how many users like me there are with light sensitivity, but it would make the difference between minimizing my computer use and actually being able to use the web freely.

I think this story is really fascinating. It’s an interesting intersection between performance, accessibility, and devices. A few thoughts:

  • She’s a user who owns more powerful devices (she has a Mac, etc) but is deliberately choosing to browse the Web on an underpowered device because of her circumstances.
  • Does this mean Web designers need to bend over backwards to ensure their creations are looking and functioning beautifully on old e-ink Kindles? No. This has to do with awareness of the fact that people have to–or even choose to–access the Web from less-than-optimal environments.
  • There is a difference between “support” and “optimization”.  I’d venture to guess old e-ink Kindle’s aren’t explicitly mentioned on any project’s browser support list. But these lists are really referring to what browsers/devices/environments the creators are optimizing for. It’s our jobs as Web creators to make experiences to do our best to support any person who wants to interact with our creations, regardless of what device/browser/environment they have. This is about pragmatism. Ideally we create things that work everywhere, but realistically there’s not enough time and money to actually deliver that ideal experience. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
  • Hopefully device manufacturers develop (or maybe they’ve already been developed?) more powerful e-readers with more sophisticated browsers that won’t choke whenever it encounters the average web page. But that’s not really the point. The zombie apocalypse of devices is already here and the trajectory shows folks continuing to interact with the Web on underpowered devices. Watching people browse the Web from their watch is fascinating because these are modern (hip) devices that also happen to be relatively underpowered.
  • Performance matters, and performance and accessibility are closely related. This reminds me of the amazing Youtube Feather story, where a lightweight prototype led to more people being able to access Youtube’s videos.
  • Thankfully, both accessibility and performance map nicely to business goals. When I ask clients “Do you want to reach more customers?” the answer is always yes. When I ask them “Do you want your experience to load blazingly fast?” the answer is always yes. Both accessibility and performance are invisible aspects of an experience and should be considered even if they aren’t explicit goals of the project. My wife’s cousin explains it best:

So yeah, lots of web based companies lose me as a customer because it hurts me to spend time using their products or shopping for their products online. If I could buy it\use it on my kindle, they have a shot at getting my money.

There it is. Make efforts to make Web experiences accessible and performant; make money.

by Brad Frost at April 09, 2015 01:03 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

The "Ringing For Favourites Only" Feature Is Back!

One of the features I was dearly missing when I finally switched my main device from a Symbian phone to an Android device was that I had to give up the feature to put the device into silent mode but still make it ring for selected contacts. This was and still is an important feature for me, especially when traveling to other timezones and people being unaware that they are calling while it's night in my current time zone and I'm sleeping. So for the last two years I fixed this with a kludge, i.e. taking an extra phone and SIM only known to few contacts. Now I discovered that the feature was introduced on Android and the iPhone at some point between then and now.

On my Android 4.4.4 based CyanogenMod Samsung Galaxy S4 which I've been using for more than half a year now, the sound menu now contains a menu item called "Quiet Hours". When selecting the item it's not only possible to set the quiet hours but also further things such as which events shall not be indicated to the user and the "Phone Ringer" menu item which can be set to "Ring for Favorite Contacts" (only). Works like a charm!

O.k. so this is a pretty much stock Android OS, how about customized variants? I had a quick look on a current high end Samsung device with Android L and while it looks slightly different the option is there as well. Also I could find a similar option on the iPhone.

Great stuff and nobody told me... ;-) Must have been in the software for quite some time now.

1-silent 2-silent 3-silent

by mobilesociety at April 09, 2015 05:39 AM

April 07, 2015

Brad Frost » Brad Frost | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

The Path to Performance

Katie Kovalcin and Tim Kadlec started a podcast all about web performance. Consider me sold!

by Brad Frost at April 07, 2015 06:32 PM

15 Years of Dao

John Allsopp‘s beautiful A List Apart article A Dao of Web Design is turning 15. To celebrate, A List Apart asked folks to reflect on the John’s wise words. Of course I submitted my thoughts too late (hey, that hole in the backyard isn’t going to dig itself), so here’s what I was going to say:

The Web’s inherent flexibility allows us to create experiences that are interacted with in a multitude of screen sizes, devices, and environments. This key characteristic of the Web becomes more important and more apparent with each passing day. Thank you John for crystalizing the notion that the Web is a unique medium, and that in order to create for it, we must embrace its most powerful qualities

You should read the other contributors’ comments. There’s a lot of gold in there.

by Brad Frost at April 07, 2015 03:08 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

So What Exactly Is 5G?

Now that 3GPP has officially started working on 5G, the time has come to put lofty ideas and cheap talk into practical specifications. I'm looking forward to this because I still find most ideas that are currently floating around too abstract and unrealistic. But vendors and the NGMN have started publishing whitepapers that give a bit more insight into where we are going. After reading the whitepapers of Ericsson, Nokia and the NGMN on the topic, here's my summary and my own thoughts:

Radio Technology Mix: All whitepapers agree that 5G will not be about a single radio technology vying for dominance but rather a technology mix. Current radio technologies such as LTE(-Advanced) in the cellular domain and Wi-Fi in the home and office domain will be further evolved and are part of the technology mix. New technologies should be specified to grasp the potential offered by using large chunks of so far unused spectrum above 6 GHz for communication over very short distances. Some technologies are already there today, take Wi-Fi 802.11ad as an example.

Virtually Latency Free: The "Tactile Internet" is a new buzzword which means tactile remote control of machines and instantaneous (virtually latency free) feedback. Here's a good description of the concept. Marketing managers are promising round trip delay times of a millisecond in future networks but forget to mention the constraints. But perhaps they have discovered Star Trek like subspace communication? More on this in a future post.

Ultra-Dense Deployments With Ultra-Cheap Radios: As all whitepapers I've read correctly point out, the only way to increase data rates is to shrink cell sizes. This goes hand in hand with using higher frequency bands above 6 GHz. That means that the number of (what we still call) 'base stations' has to grow by orders of magnitude. That in turn means that they have to become ultra-cheap to install, they must configure themselves without human intervention and operate at almost zero cost. Sounds like a nice challenge and perhaps it could be done by turning light bulbs into yocto base stations (nano, femto and other small units are already used...) for this to become a reality? But who's going to pay the extra money to put a transmitter into light bulbs, who's going to 'operate' the light bulb and should such connectivity be controlled or open to everyone? That's not only a technical question but will also require a totally different business model compared to network operators running a cellular network and installing infrastructure without involvement of their customers. Again, the light bulb comes to mind. Light bulbs and power cables that are installed by their owners not only to illuminate a certain area for them but also for others. So in addition to fundamentally new technology and fundamentally new business models it's also a fundamentally new psychological approach to providing connectivity. Perhaps it should be called "light-bulb connectivity"?

Lots of Devices Exchanging Little Data: Today's networks are optimized to handle a limited number of devices that transfer a significant amount of data. In the future there might well be many devices talking to each other or to servers on the network and exchange only very little data and only very infrequently. That means that a new approach is required to reduce the overhead required for devices to signal to the network where they are and that they are still available, perhaps beyond what 3GPP has already specified as part of the 'Machine Type Communication' (MTC) work item.

Local Interaction: Great ideas are floating around on radio technologies that would allow local interaction between devices. An example are cars communicating with each other and exchange information about their location, speed, direction, etc. Sounds like an interesting way to enable cars driving autonomously or to prevent accidents but might break the business model of making money by backhauling data.

Spectrum Licensing Scheme Shake-Up: Some whitepapers also point out that for higher frequencies it might not make a lot of sense to sell spectrum for exclusive use to network operators. After all, range is very limited and not everybody can be in the same place. So license-free or cooperative use might be more appropriate especially if a chunk of spectrum is not used for backhauling but only for local connectivity.

3GPP's Role: All of this makes me wonder a bit how 3GPP fits into the equation? After all it's an industry body where manufacturers and network operators are defining standards. In 5G, however, network operators are probably no longer in control of the 'last centimeter' devices and thus have no business model for that part of 5G. So unlike in 2G, 3G and 4G, 3GPP might not have all the answers and specifications required for 5G?


So here's my take on the situation: For 5G, everything needs to change and whenever the concept or a part of it is discussed one central question should be asked: Who is going to backhaul the massive amounts of data and how is that done? In 2G, 3G and 4G that question was very simple to answer over the last decades: Network operators are setting up base stations on rooftops and install equipment to backhaul that data over copper cables, fiber or radio. For 5G that simple answer will no longer work due to the massive increase in the number of radios and backhaul links required. Operators will no longer be able to do that on their own as we move from nodes that cover the last mile to nodes that only cover the last centimeters. That means we have to move to a 'lightbulb' model with all that this implies.

by mobilesociety at April 07, 2015 06:01 AM

April 06, 2015

London Calling

From the Archives: WAP in 2000

This is my first post in a while, and the reason for this I will leave to an upcoming post.

Over the Easter break, I found a video from 2000 that I took when back in Australia and working for their largest mobile operator, Telstra.

Back then, Wireless Application Protocol (or “WAP” for short”) was the only real way to get the internet (or a version of it) and email on your phone.

You will see featured in the video my Nokia 7110 (“banana phone”) which was one of the first to be WAP enabled.

As the video depicts, it was quite cumbersome to enter information using a numeric keypad, even with the 7110’s “scrolling wheel”, and it took what seemed like ages to connect and download each page.

The reason for this was that the  data was sent at around 9.6KB/s, as a circuit switched connection. as GPRS (the G you sometimes see on your phone) was still a year or so away enabling 56KB/s always-on connections.

Clearly in 15 years we have come a long way to now have smartphones running at 50MB/s with 4G services able to access anything on the internet.

Enjoy a look back into the past with the video below (note the video has no sound).

If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below under You may also like ...

To receive future posts you can subscribe via email or RSS, download the android app, or follow me on twitter @andrewgrill.

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by Andrew Grill at April 06, 2015 04:09 PM

April 03, 2015

Open Gardens

Does the ‘app economy’ still exist?







Something extraordinary happened last week

An app (meerkat) (which was a ‘massive hit’ at SXSW) and which was launched only two months ago – raised $14m in funding.

Three days after that – it’s popularity plunged rapidly after the launch of Twitter’s periscope.

Probably never to return to its height.

A few more days after that Meerkat and Periscope are neck to neck

In two months  an app goes from launch – to funding (14m) – plunge.

Some blame the Tech journalists – and there is some truth in that.

A whole ecosystem has grown up to support the ‘app economy’ – including the VCs, tech journalists, conference creators, hackathons and industry analysts who rank apps.

Sentiment changes rapidly.

Now, some articles call it the Schrödinger’s meerkat(is it dead or is it alive?)

Others have taken to defend the tech journalists themselves ex from the Guardian Tech journalists may have been wrong about Meerkat but they’re right to get excited about new apps

But there is a wider question here ..

Apps uptake metrics(ex downloads) have become a bit like the dot com era obsession ..

There is a lot of activity but it is transient (as we see in the case of Meerkat) because the value no longer lies in the App itself.

For long term success, the value (if it exists) lies beyond the app.

Here are some reasons why the app economy dynamic is changing and value is shifting away from the app:

a)      Even when the app has been poor, the company has done well when the value lay beyond the app. The best example of this is LinkedIn – whose app and website are always frustrating to me. I need to sometimes use wikihow to understand even the basics such as deleting a contact  . The app could be a lot better – but we still use it despite the app

b)      APIs are becoming increasingly important and are managing much of the complexity for example health care APIs. The app then becomes a simple interface – APIs do the work

c)       ‘App only’ brands are hard to sustain and expand: Unlike Linkedin – where the value lies beyond the app – for Rovio(angry birds) the product (and the value) was in the app itself. And 2014 has been a bad year for Rovio. It’s  unclear if the popularity of the brand will ever return.

d)      Content has a fleeting timescale and its getting even smaller: The diminishing popularity timescales apply to all online content. Gangnum style broke the YouTube popularity counter – but look again.. Gangnam style was launched in July 2012. Google trends for Gangnum style shows that it peaked in Dec 2012 – with a precipitous drop soon after. And Gangnum has been dropping in popularity ever since(even when cumulative views increase). Content apps also may have the same problem. Beyond the first year (or two) – they appear to be from an older era especially if the user base is younger. The Draw something app also had the same problem of drop in popularity

e)      Which apps do IoT developers use? Is like focussing on the dashboard and ignoring the engine: Which apps do IoT developers use is the wrong question – because it places too much emphasis on the app than the vertical(IoT). It’s like saying – which web development technique they use for their website? Does it matter? IoT is a hugely complex domain. Same will apply to automotive apps, healthcare apps etc.

f)       Apps are not open: Coming back to Meerkat – we are reminded with Twitter’s move that apps and social media are not open. If Twitter does a deal with Operators for ‘sponsored data’ – that’s even worse for innovation like Meerkat (and I expect that type of deal will be increasingly common – further suppressing  Long Tail innovation)


Apps continue to drive Long tail innovation

But for the reasons mentioned above, there is a fundamental shift in the ecosystem

Value is now closely tied to the vertical

In some ways, it is a natural maturing of the ecosystem

But when tied to a specific vertical – the value apportioned to the app is relatively less

Knowledge and integration about the Vertical now becomes more important than app in this maturing phase(leaving aside the Openness issue).

For example – for IoT – IBM bet $3 billion into IoT – but the focus is on analyzing data coming from many different devices.

The skillsets to do this are not the same as for the app – although there will be undoubtedly an app interface

So, does the app economy still exist?

Increasingly, not in the form we know it (across verticals)

In a more maturing phase, we will see deeper integration with specific verticals.

For other forms of apps – there is no way to predict economic value even over short periods

PS – if you are interested in IoT – have a look at this(  upskill to Big Data, Data Science and IoT )

We will also have an online version. Please contact me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com

by ajit at April 03, 2015 01:23 PM