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Bridging 3G, EDGE, GPRS, and WiFi 93

Rob writes to tell us CBR is reporting that T-Mobile is expanding their core network to provide seamless integration of 3G, EDGE, GPRS, and WiFi networks. From the article: "Nortel said it was able to provide T-Mobile with the new service thanks to integration of Nortel's existing Gateway GPRS Support Node with Azaire Networks' IP Converged Network Platform. Azaire's IP-CNP provides an integrated hybrid network by extending the services from the existing 3G and GSM core network investments over new access technologies like WiFi and WiMax, Nortel said."
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Bridging 3G, EDGE, GPRS, and WiFi

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:06PM (#14910238)
    T-Mobile will offer the new service to customers using laptops and dual mode PDAs, such as the T-Mobile MDA Pro, beginning in summer 2006.

    I don't have one, but from what I've read about the MDA is that it already supports EDGE, GPRS, and wifi. I currently use a Sidekick 2 (hiptop) and it uses only GPRS. I don't know if it's because some people have moved over to the EDGE network with compatible devices but I have noticed a significant speed increase on their GPRS network.

    I am drooling over the MDA (minus the fact that it runs Windows Mobile). Connection, at broadband speeds, pretty much whereever I am is a great thing to look forward to. I have to decide if it's worth switching to Windows Mobile and paying $450+ for it ;)
    • I don't have one, but from what I've read about the MDA is that it already supports EDGE, GPRS, and wifi. I currently use a Sidekick 2 (hiptop) and it uses only GPRS. I don't know if it's because some people have moved over to the EDGE network with compatible devices but I have noticed a significant speed increase on their GPRS network.

      I switched from a Sidekick2 to the MDA on the first day they came out. I had the Sidekick 1 from the first day it came out a few years back... what can I say, I like my gadg
    • by Nexus7 ( 2919 )
      >I have to decide if it's worth switching to Windows Mobile and paying $450+ for

      Getting a PDA that has a specific network technology built-in is going to have you looking for another PDA when the other networks have better plans or faster speeds. You might want to consider getting a PDA with Bluetooth, and use as a modem a Bluetooth-enabled phone that works on the network du jour.
  • TLA explanations (Score:5, Informative)

    by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:06PM (#14910240) Homepage Journal

    For anyone who didn't order alphabet soup, here are the wikipedia articles on about 3G [], about WIFI [], about GPRS []. Not sure about EDGE.

  • Expanding... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LandownEyes ( 838725 )
    I would prefer it if T-Mobile expanded their core network to provide CALLS THAT DON'T DROP...after that, let's worry about the other stuff.
    • I've been with T-Mobile for a couple of years now, and I've not had one dropped call. I've had virtually every carrier in the US and haven't found one better than T-Mobile in my experience.
    • Re:Expanding... (Score:3, Informative)

      You may want to check your phone. I had T-Mobile prepaid for about a year with a Motorola V66. It had great coverage, great call quality, and it never dropped. I switched to a monthly plan to get a Razr (couldn't pass it up for $30), and now I regret it. Yeah, it's light and small. But so was my V66. And that one didn't emit squealing sounds every time I was using it for phone calls. Nor did it drop calls everywhere I was.
    • I've been with T-Moblie for 6 years now... well voicestream first and so on... and I still have no idea what a dropped call is, I have never experienced one.
    • Re:Expanding... (Score:3, Informative)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      Well, not that I use their network for calls all that much, I must say that I have *never* had a call drop on their network here in the Twin Cities. AT&T (prior to the Cingular buyout) dropped calls for me daily. Especially at the intersection of MN-13 and Cliff Rd in Burnsville.
      • very well could be my phone then...or it's possibly because I live in Idaho where we like our lives ANALOG. Is there an easy way to see if it is in fact the phone? I don't really want to get into a new contract just to test it out.
        • Re:Expanding... (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Well, you have two options. The first would be to us the online coverage checking application: Personal Coverage Check []. Unlike other providers, this is _very_ actually acurate. Type in your work address, home address and check out the other areas you visit frequently. Chances are, coverage levels are fine and your handset has issues. Lets face it, what is more likely to fail? A tower and network with constant investment and monitoring, or a handset that spends a good part of the day being sat on, tossed aro
    • I think T-Mobile quality varies significantly by market.

      I remember having tons of problems in Los Angeles but not nearly as many in Pittsburgh, where I presently live. Maybe things are just overloaded in LA.

    • Comments like these would be much more useful if only the poster would include where he/she lives. I've had great experience with T-Mobile in NYC in general, excepting the far corners of the LES and parts of the UWS.
      • They're fine in the UK too. I gather we have more luck in general with mobiles (cell phones) than you do.

        • That's because in Europe (UK inclusive) everyone uses GSM, and every carrier has roaming agreements with practically everyone else. Here in the US it's technically impossible for T-Mobile's customers to roam on Verizon's or Sprint's networks. Gotta love competing standards!
  • heres a quick one on EDGE as well, just for those of all ya'll out there that haven't heard. EDGE [].
    • So will I finally be able to hear the person on the other end? Back in about 1997 or something when my dad was asking what the benefits of the digital network were, they said calls were crystal clear right down until it drops out. Well... nope... still crappy, and still bad signal almost everywhere. Here we are nine years later, and service still sucks. My phone just has a bunch of crap I have no use for in it sapping away the battery life. And it fits into a pocket, too, but you couldn't expect people
  • by dada21 ( 163177 ) * <> on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:19PM (#14910341) Homepage Journal
    I am sitting in my car, right now, as I type this. I had to check my e-mail (T-Mobile sends an SMS to my phone when it detects new mail on my POP3 server). I am currently using an EDGE connection (Laptop -> Bluetooth Modem of my T-Mobile Samsung t809 cell) to connect. While I am sitting here (McDonalds parking lot), my laptop detected and picked an open WiFi access point from the Popeye's Restaurant across the street, overriding the T-Mobile EDGE connection.

    It all works flawlessly from my standpoint, and this isn't even T-Mobile's entire network. I'm amazed at the speed of the EDGE connection (consistent 150kbps download in most of Chicagoland), and even more amazed at the amount of restaurants with open WiFi connections. I may run over to Popeye's right now and buy a way overpriced soda just to thank them financially for the connection.

    I just ftp'd two photos of where I'm at right now to prove my story. Check [] and [] in a few minutes. I love technology.
    • I was curious to see, but got this error instead:
      The page you tried to access does not exist on this server. This page may not exist due to the following reasons...

      Unfortunately the pictures do not work, maybe you should go over to Popeye's and load up on free napkins & condiments instead? ;)
      • Haha, I keep my own napkins in the car at all times (I'm a complete and total mess when it comes to attempting to eat and drive). As for condiments: I stay away from the sugars and the corn syrups ;)

        I think the photos work now, for some strange reason my FTP client had to reconnect about 50 times to upload the photos -- bad host errors, time to switch from GoDaddy to a real host I guess.
    • I suddenly feel like such a little geek compared to you...
    • Wouldn't it pick up the McDonald's wifi better and try to connect to that instead of another network? Which is a problem since you have to pay at McDonalds.
      • At least on my PowerBook G4, you can pick which wireless network you can access by selecting them from a pop-up menu that's accessible globally from the system menu bar.

        You can do the same thing in Windows, but of course it's not quite as slick.

      • Good question -- I don't think that McDonald's has WiFi actually. I'll have to check the next time I'm in the area.

        In Windows XP (which I have to use because of 2 of my programs that I run my businesses from), selecting a preferred network is fairly easy, it just takes 3 clicks or so.
    • "T-Mobile sends an SMS to my phone when it detects new mail on my POP3 server"...

      Don't you hate it like this? My T616 phone polls my IMAP server for email every couple of minutes, for free, and downloads the new emails it finds onto the phone (or at least, a 5k portion of the text part of the email). It's a native TCP-speaking inhabitant of the internet and so email+web works independently of my phone provider.
      • Actually, I prefer it. The e-mail address is a very private one -- usually only for emergencies and customer needs. My main address (gmail) doesn't get polled, but it is usually nothing important anyway.

        I figure I could set my PDA to poll (via EDGE via my phone) every few minutes, but nothing is that important. The SMS through T-Mobile is very fast, and I have a massive SMS allotment each month as I'm grandfathered into a very old T-Mobile (maybe Voicestream even) phone plan.
  • Only In Europe... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nano_assembler ( 960752 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:21PM (#14910354)

    As an American, I read about these nifty phone network upgrades and know that I will not see them for at least 3 years. Why is this? Is it the geographical size of the market? The size of the customer bases that subscribe to the networks? Regulatory restrictions? User demand/knowledge/acceptance of these features?

    I am inviting anyone in the know to please beat me with the clue stick!

    • Re:Only In Europe... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 )
      As an American, I read about these nifty phone network upgrades and know that I will not see them for at least 3 years.

      EDGE has already been rolled out in the Minneapolis metro. I know it has already been launched elsewhere as well. I guess it's not "three years" for everyone.
      • Ah ha. The cluestick hurts, but it builds character!

        What about 3G though? I remember reading about how it was in Japan in 2002(I think...) but that it would take a couple years to be offered here.

        I am not intending to make an America-centric complaint, it is only curiosity.

    • Cingular is in the process of rolling out UMTS with HSDPA, it's already available in a bunch of markets, and Verizon and Sprint already have EVDO all over the place. I even see two UMTS handsets on the Cingular website for my market. Unless you're living somewhere pretty rural, we've already *got* all the good stuff.

      My guess, BTW, is that T-Mobile is interested in this wi-fi stuff because they're farthest back in the pack to deploy 3G data. They're mostly stuck with EDGE, and they won't be able to compete w
    • Re:Only In Europe... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Karelian ( 950603 )
      In Europe, the same phone works with nearly all major vendors - Telecom Italia Mobile, Telefonica, Orange, Vodafone, etc. Production ramp-ups of hot new models are geared for the GSM-900/1800 markets in Europe and Asia.

      In North America, the same CDMA phone does not work with Verizon and Sprint - the technologies are slightly different. GSM operators T-Mobile and AT&T have less than half of the overall market - and a GSM variation operating on different bandwidths than the global 900/1800 combo. There

    • FCC has already allocated the frequencies the reset of the world uses for 3g. That is why the US does not have 3g.
    • Re:Only In Europe... (Score:3, Informative)

      by RevMike ( 632002 )

      As an American, I read about these nifty phone network upgrades and know that I will not see them for at least 3 years. Why is this? Is it the geographical size of the market? The size of the customer bases that subscribe to the networks? Regulatory restrictions? User demand/knowledge/acceptance of these features?

      I am inviting anyone in the know to please beat me with the clue stick!

      I'll gladly beat you with the clue stick.

      As an American, you've had access to the better technology for quite a while

  • Handsets have a SIM []. Mostly this is a UICC we know and love.

    When a subscriber enters a zone where a connection is possible, this tech allows TMobile to 'phone home'. Then they have profiles on how to route all the services to that handset.

    So they need to:

    know about each protocol.
    know how to phone home
    know about the gateway services for each service the _ subscribes to.
    know how to bill for that route

    So it is non trivial.

    • There are existing HLR/VLR profiles for a IMSI to support various data services. It sounds like they are tieing WIFI into that and using the information provided by the non Nortel vendor to coordinate priority and handover.

      Pretty interesting stuff if you ask me.

  • by Karelian ( 950603 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:29PM (#14910426)
    This is the crunch time for operators. Roughly half of mobile phone calls originate or end in homes. Most markets in North America, Europe and Asia have now 4-6 rival operators offering mobile call services if you count the MVNO's. The first wave of mobile/WiFi hybrid phones is arriving.

    Will operators truly start offering seamlessly swithcing mobile/WiFi models to consumers? As long as the operators refuse to subsidize hybrid models they can prevent rapid pick-up of these models. But when the first major operator (or a cluster of smaller challenger operators) gets serious about offering hybrid phones, the ARPU pressure could suddenly spike in a brutal manner.

    WiFi telephony is kind of unreliable and weird for most consumers - but as a supplementary feature in a GSM/GPRS/EDGE/W-CDMA phone it's lethally appealing. How about cutting your mobile minutes roughly in half by seamlessly swithching to WiFi every time you are at home?

    It's a great marketing angle for the first operator latching onto it. Once you get 4-6 operators embracing the concept, the whole sector ARPU outlook is going to crater.

    Will T-Mobile play the Judas goat?

    • The switching is between GSM/UMTS networks and WiFi alright, but not just any WiFi network. It must owned by a (mobile phone) operator with their equipment on it. You get nominally the same service as on their radio network (including data encryption, authentication), albeit faster packet data transfer--and you also get charged appropriately. It's just a different air interface.
      See 3GPP TS 22.234, Requirements on 3GPP system to Wireless Local Area Networking (WLAN) interworking [].
    • Will T-Mobile play the Judas goat?

      If you're talking about T-Mobile US, why not? Aren't they the only US operator that hasn't paid billions for 3G spectrum? They should be best positioned to offer a very competitive package of flat/"free" WiFi SIP and data together with cheap/pay-as-you-go GSM/GPRS/EDGE fallback when "on the road".

      However the custom access point, if true, would be a killer, at least for me. If I can't use their SIP service over any IP connectivity I happen to be in the range of, how ar

    • Verizon's 3G service is 145-200ms to the first hop. That would make it appear that 3g cellular is not going to play nicely with VoIP.
  • screw 3G...etc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by atarione ( 601740 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @04:30PM (#14910429)
    why couldn't we just bypass the cellular guys altogether (skipping 3G, GPRS and Edge). and instead focus on creating a new VoIP based service in conjunction w/ WiMAX?)
    • Re:screw 3G...etc (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Karelian ( 950603 )
      Coverage is a big challenge. W-CDMA networks are complemented by GSM/GPRS/EDGE networks that have been built up over the past decade. Consumers need coverage in highways and beaches and parks - not just in cities and suburbs.

      WiMAX is going to be hard pressed to handle high populations densities of major cities - mobile networks now flavors to handle both rural areas (GSM, CDMA) and cities (W-CDMA, CDMA-2000).

    • In order for your calls to move around un-interrupted you need to be able to hand over to adjacent cells.

      GSM has something called a VLR or Vistor Location Registry which keeps track of which radio cell you are on. And the radio equipment like the BTS, BSC, etc make constant calculations on your signal strength. As you reach the edge of a cell the system automaticly hands you over to the next cell without dropping your call. Sometimes it hands you over from one radio to another within a cell.

      This has to be d
  • I know this is completely offtopic and go ahead and mod it as such. The topic reminded me of a device I had been trying to find, thought maybe I would ask and see if anyone knows of this existing.

    Is there such a thing that can pickup a open 802.11 network and rebroadcast it as a bluetooth lan connection. It would need to be small like no bigger than a ipod mini.

    I am not looking for any suggestions for a work around (eg bluetooth dongles on a 802.11 enabled laptop). Just looking for something that can conver
  • by limabone ( 174795 ) on Monday March 13, 2006 @05:12PM (#14910782)
    Woohoo...all I need is the stock to go up another 400% and I can break even!
  • by Internet Ronin ( 919897 ) <> on Monday March 13, 2006 @05:15PM (#14910805)
    Ahhh, it's always nice to know America's on the forefront of technology. I love this place. What? You mean it's only in Europe? What do you mean T-Mobile doesn't have UMTS in the states? As a former employee, all you business-suited technocrat wannabes can sit back down, because it takes FOREVER for T-Mobile (DT) to translate to T-Mobile (USA). In fact, if you RTA, you'll see that Nortel doesn't provide any infrastructure in the USA (though perhaps the article doesn't mention any either because it's beyond the scope of an article that is Euro-centric, or because Nortel doesn't provide their American infrastructure, I'm not sure). Frankly, T-Mobile USA and DT might as well be seperate companies, with the exception of where the money goes (TM USA provides quite a bit of capital for the DT folk, who last time I checked were struggling), which is to the DT execs, and where the marketing paraphanelia comes from (i.e. the big pink T). T-Mobile's (US) UMA plans have been sidetracked for more than a year now, with a planned launch initially scheduled for 2005. UMA= universal mobile access, the seamless handoff between Wifi and Cellular networks. Good luck to anyone who wants to see this stateside, the FCC, lack of sufficient political and financial capital, and internal company shenanigans will keep this on the other side for a while.
    • T-mobile is the smallest national US player. The german ownership:

      Doesn't want to say that they are going to sell tmobile usa, because that could hurt the price if it is perceived that tmobile(DT) has to sell from a position of weakness
      Hasn't been aggressive in 3G in the US because they have a small user base (it is likely easier to sell 3G services to your existing customers rather than win converts), licensing the spectrum is big money, and it does not appear they are certain they really want to own tmobi
      • This has been widely reported, but I don't believe that it's correct. T-Mo USA is the fastest growing T-Mo division, and in various quarters it has been the only one to turn a profit.

        T-Mo USA's 3G delay has more to do with spectrum than anything else - they are waiting for new spectrum auctions because there's just not enough room in T-Mo's existing 1900MHz licenses.
    • It's true that Tmobile doesn't use the Nortel GGSN in North America (I think they went with Nokia or something) but in most of the markets the core network is Nortel, especially on the radio side.

      Several carriers are using Nortel equipment to build out their GPRS and EDGE networks as well.

      Most of the standards are compatible so you can have a variety of equipment on a site. But there are thousands of "core" networks in the US built on Nortel systems.

      It's true that the market conditions in Europe and the US
    • I was a bit disappointed by the article. I was hoping it would mention some specifics...for example will the PDSN's for 3G handoff IPs from a common pool to the WiFi system, etc. Maybe, though, I'm looking to micro level too deep for a cross platform system that hands off point of connection's for non-changing IP addresses. Meaning, I could drive across town, changing points of connection without any applications breaking or having to renew an IP.

      The other problem is this is Nortel. Give me Lucent any

  • When they say seamless, do they mean I can make a VOIP call on WiFi, and when I go out of range of the WiFi it seamlessly hands over to GSM? Or I can start a download on a WiFi connection, and have it continue over UMTS, EDGE or GPRS when I pick my laptop up and walk out of the cafe? Or do they mean seamless as in they bill you at the same GPRS rates for data downloaded over T-Mobile branded WiFi?
  • It would be nice if TMo expanded their network to cover the entire United States. I don't care about and won't pay for 3G until there's uniformly good coverage over every square mile of the US.

In less than a century, computers will be making substantial progress on ... the overriding problem of war and peace. -- James Slagle