Tag: mobile telephone

The Femtocell is to be part of the competitive French Internet-service market

Article – French language / Langue Française

Freebox Révolution : Free intègre les boîtiers Femtocell – DegroupNews.com

My Comments

Freebox Révolution - courtesy Iliad.fr

Freebox Révolution now to come with a femtocell

The French have taken another step of advantage with their competitive Internet-service market. This time it’s Free who have provided a minimal-cost femtocell to their Freebox Révolution subscribers.

What is a femtocell? This is effectively a cellular-telephony base station in a small box that can provide cellular-telephony and data coverage in a premises. These boxes typically use a broadband connection as their backhaul to the service provider and are typically used to “fill in gaps” for mobile coverage in a subscriber’s home. The devices typically sold to a residential user typically provide “selected-device” coverage, namely for the devices owned by the customer’s household.

Most of the other French operators like Bouygues Télécom  have offered femtocells but at a significant extra cost. On the other hand, Free are offering the femtocell to existing Freebox Révolution subscribers for a delivery charge of EUR€10 but will be offering it as part of the equipment bundle for newer subscriptions. This is something that I see as pushing the price very low for a service like this and, like what Free had done with Internet services and mobile telephony in France, could lead to others pushing the price down for a femtocell service or including it as part of an “n-box” triple-play deal.

These will support up to 4 phones but I do see a limitation also with any femtocell product that is integrated in a modem-router. This is where you can’t relocate the femtocell device to wherever the better coverage is really needed such as to work around a “radio shadow” affecting mobile telephony.

This may be part of a trend to make cellular phones work effectively like cordless phones and work on “fixed-line” tariff charts at home but use mobile tariff charts when “out and about”. This is more important with all of the “n-box” triple-play services where the telephony component is described as being with “appels illimité” where calls from the fixed telephone to France and a lot of other destinations come part of the deal.

It is another example of what the highly-competitive French telecommunications market is all about.

Strong increase in the number of quadruple-play households in France


4,7 millions de foyers français sont abonnés à une offre quadruple play | 01Net.com (France – French language) Flag of France

My Comments

What is”quadruple-play”? This term describes a communications service contract where a single service provider or their business partner is providing a customer four services, typically, a fixed telephone service, “hot and cold running” broadband Internet, pay TV and a mobile telecommunications service.

According to the artilcle, at the third quarter of 2013, there was a strong likelihood of one in six French households acquiring one of these “quadruple-play” services which would simply be an “n-box” single-pipe triple-play service with the pay-TV, unlimited telephone use and unlimited broadband along with a mobile telecommunications deal. It was described as being commensurate with the number of display screens in use in that household and has been made possible with attractive deals being offered in that market.

The penetration of the “quadruple-play” service in France as described in this French-language may be reflected in some of the developed world where real competition does exist in the telecommunications and pay-TV sectors. This is although the US, Britain and Norway had the similar mix of services in most of their households.

A question that I often think of the argument that some people put forward about running a mobile-only telephony and broadband setup in their homes or not running a fixed telephony service or fixed broadband service in the face of the mobile telecommunications services.

These services would be engaged or retained by their customers if it is found that the price is right when it come to retaining them especially if they are part of a “many eggs in one basket” solution.  For example, a fixed broadband service used alongside a wireless router may offer better value for money when it comes to Internet service at home while a fixed telephony service may offer improved prices for outgoing calls, a reliable telephone service, alongside a “catch-all” phone number to contact the household at.

Personally, I encourage people to investigate the multiple-play telecommunications services when they are assessing their communications-service plans so they can look ay ways to “bundle” the services they use together with their favourite carriers.

Highly-capable Android devices are dethroning the iPhone and iPad


After several generations of loyalty to my mobile phone, the worm has turned on Apple | The Age (Australia)

My Comments

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet with stylus

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet – fit for business

I have observed over the past year that the Android platform has yielded a run of highly-capable mobile-computing devices that are placing the Apple iPhone and iPad on notice. These devices in the form of the HTC One X smartphone; the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note smartphones; the Google Nexus 7 tablet and the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime tablet are yielding what high-performance and high-value are about. The devices that I have mentioned in this list implement highly-strung CPUs and graphics subsystems that can allow them to do advanced tasks like action-rich games or smooth video playback.

This has also been augmented by various features that the Android ecosystem offers over the iOS ecosystem. For example, most of these devices offer a user-replaceable battery. This was demonstrable with my Samsung Galaxy S smartphone where the battery failed to hold its charge and I had to use an external battery pack all the time to gain real use out of it. Then I just went to a mobile phone dealer and paid AUD$40 for an original battery for the phone on Thursday. iPhone users would have had to pony up more than this and be without their phone for a significant amount of time to replace the battery under this circumstance.

Another example is the fact that most Android devices use a user-replaceable microSD or similar memory card as well as onboard storage. This means that you could use effectively an infinite amount of memory with your device by purchasing extra memory cards. Infact I use different microSD cards in a similar manner to those cassette tapes or MiniDiscs that we remember where I have one card carrying music of one kind and another carrying music of another kind.

Speaking of music, you can add your media content to your Android device using your computer’s file manager or media management program if you have your microSD card in your laptop’s SD card slot or a USB card reader; or your Android device tethered to your computer via its USB cable. These scenarios present the device to the computer effectively as a floppy disk or USB memory stick. This is also a similar path for offloading images you took with your Android device. Similarly, if you run TwonkyMobile on your Android phone, you may be able to have the ability to add music to your phone’s collection by picking the tracks you want from your DLNA-hosted music collection and selecting “Copy to your device”.

The user interface can be easily customised by the manufacturer or the user through the use of animated live wallpapers, display and control widgets or similar items. This yields a sense of flexibility to the operating environment that the typical Android device presents, such as a “dashboard” view of battery status, operating modes and social-network activity.

There is even competition on the app and media storefront for these devices where competing app-store providers such as manufacturer-hosted or carrier-hosted stores can exist on the device’s app list. But there isn’t an online newsstand for the Android platform that can rival what Apple offers and this may limit the distribution of digital newspapers and magazines to these tablets.

But what the Android platform offers in value, capability and performance is making Apple and their fanbois worried so much that Apple have been litigating against Samsung and other Android device manufacturers on clams of patent infringement. Some cases such as the UK legal activity have been struck down due to legal assessment that the devices didn’t copy Apple designs.

But I have also observed commentary, including an Age article about the Samsung Galaxy S3, about people who have jumped from the iPhone to the Android platform due to the liberating characteristics that this platform offers.

Product Review–Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth Audio Adaptor


You have a pair of good-sounding B&O, Bose or Sennheiser headphones but want to use them as a full-blown headset with your smartphone. You may also want to try them with your laptop or desktop computer when you are playing a game or using a softphone app like Skype.

The only solution would be to buy a wired or Bluetooth headset that connects to the computer or phone. But these would make your good headphones redundant. Therefore you would need to look for an audio adaptor with an integrated microphone so you benefit from full handsfree communication.

The only problem with a lot of the wired audio adaptors supplied by the phone manufacturers and third-party accessories suppliers is that you may not be sure that they will work properly with your phone. This is more so if you jump mobile platform every time the contract expires. Similarly, wired audio adaptors can be hard to find because the only device to be seen using with your mobile phone is a Bluetooth headset.

There is also a greater risk of failure with wired audio adaptors as they are used in that the wiring at the device plug can be easily damaged through regular use and storage, thus impairing the quality of phone calls with these devices as I have experienced.

The Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth Audio Adaptor itself

Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth headset adaptor fob

Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth headset adaptor fob - same size as SD card

But wait, I have come across the Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth Audio Adaptor which connects to a set of regular headphones, comverting them in to a Bluetooth stereo headset. It comes with a set of in-ear earphones but these may come in handy as “emergency spares” or for compact-use requirements. It is available in three different colours – black, white and a “hot-pink” colour and retails for AUD$50, making it fit within gift-pricing range.

This kit is centred around a small fob that houses a microphone, control buttons, rechargeable battery and Bluetooth transceiver. You can connect the supplied earphones or a pair of headphones to a 3.5mm stereo jack on the end of the fob’s “hinge pin” and this fob can clip on one’s shirt or tie like a lapel microphone.

Nokia BH-111 Bluetooth headphone adaptor with headphone jack

Bluetooth headphone adapotr fob with headphone jack facing you

The operation buttons are each edge of the face of the fob, with one “multifunction” button that is used primarily to make or take calls, a previous-track button, a next-track button and a play-pause button that can mute the microphone during calls as well as start and stop the music. The hinge pin on this fob has a knob for adjusting the sound volume opposite to where the headphones are plugged in to.

When you charge this Bluetooth audio adaptor, you plug the supplied battery charger or a USB-2.5mm DC cord in to the side of the “hinge pin”; and it doesn’t take long to charge this adaptor.

The Nokia BH-111 complies to the following Bluetooth device classes: Hands-Free Profile, Headset Profile, A2DP audio playback profile and AVRCP audio controller profile. It can store pairings for up to five physical devices at a time and can only connect to one Hands-free or Headset Profile device and one A2DP / AVRCP audio-player device at a time. This could allow you to work it with a Bluetooth smartphone and a separate Bluetooth-capable MP3 player at the same time.

Nokia BH-111 headphone adaptor connected to headphones

Now these good headphones work as a stereo Bluetooth headset for your smartphone

The clip can be very stiff and hard to attach to a thick tie or suit coat but can work with most shirts. But it doesn’t look like something that could break easily after regular usage.

Setup and Usage

You have to use the “multifunction” button to turn the unit on and off as well as make it open for pairing. Here, you have to turn the audio adaptor off, then hold the multifunction button down until you hear a five-beep sequence, followed by a silence then a distinct beep. Then you start your device in “Bluetooth-device-scan” mode and it will show up as “Nokia BH-111” on the device’s user interface.

On the other hand, you hold the multifunction button down until you hear the five-beep sequence complete, then release this button in order to turn the audio adaptor on.

The Nokia BH-111 can act in a very confused manner if two or more devices that are paired with it are in the vicinity. This can happen more so if it is still connected to a mobile phone while a computer associated with it is nearby.

When the phone rings, you hear the Nokia ringtone rather than your handset’s ringtone, which can be confusing when you take a call through the audio adaptor for the first time and your phone plays its own ringtone through its speaker. I would rather that the phone’s ringtone plays through the headphones when a call comes in.

Battery Runtime and Sound Quality

For battery life, the Nokia BH-111 audio adaptor can complete a day of music-playback use with a Bluetooth mobile phone and longer in a quiescent state. It works properly and clearly when making and taking calls – the caller can hear and understand my voice properly and I can hear their properly as if I was using the phone handheld. I noticed this more with quieter environments but the intelligibility for the sound degrades if I was in a noisier environment.

The audio quality for music playback doesn’t change from what is offered by a wired connection to the phone, although there may be jitter occurring if the phone is “overloaded” with other tasks.

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

The clip could be improved on with a lever-type action similar to a clothes peg so it can easily clip to thicker material such as winter clothing or formal wear. The functions could also be marked in a colour inverse to the finish so it is easier to discover them.

It could be beneficial for a device like the Nokia BH-111 to have a 3.5mm input jack so you can connect other personal-audio devices to this adaptor, with the call audio from the Bluetooth phone cutting over sound from the connected personal-audio device. This could benefit people who use a high-capacity iPod Classic or similar device as their music library, listen to broadcast content from a personal radio or play content on legacy formats like cassettes or CDs using a device like a Walkman or Discman.

Similarly I would like to see a function that allows the audio adaptor to work as a speakerphone when connected to other audio equipment that uses speakers rather than a set of headphones. This may appeal to those of us who want to connect it to a car sound system via the AUX-IN jack or cassette adaptor for cassette-based equipment and use Blu-Tack to secure the fob to the dashboard for a high-quality reliable Bluetooth handsfree / music-player setup in a borrowed or hired vehicle.

An improved unit could implement a microphone array as a way of focusing the sound on the user’s voice in a phone conversation, and could place this leagues ahead of the typical Bluetooth headset.


The Nokia BH-111 headphone adaptor is infact the first product of its kind on the market that permits one to use their favourite headphones as a reliable calls-and-music Bluetooth headset for their smartphone especially if they use it for more than just phone calls.

Should mobile carriers charge a premium for tethering your mobile phone to your computer?


BBC News – Mobile web users at the end of their tether

My comments

This article is pointing to a common practice amongst most US and European mobile-phone carriers concerning the tethering of mobile phones.

What is tethering?

This is where one uses a mobile phone as a wireless 3G modem for another computing device like a laptop computer or a tablet. It can be done wirelessly using a Bluetooth link or the phone operating as a wireless router when certain software is run. On the other hand, it can be done simply by connecting the phone to the PC using a USB cable and running a driver set on the PC.

Why tether than use a separate modem

Tethering has an advantage over using a separate modem to service a device’s data needs. Here, one doesn’t have to manage different data plans for each device – the mobile phone, the tablet computer or the laptop. Instead, they can work with a larger plan that is shared amongst all the devices.

Laptop users also benefit from tethering. This is because, unless they have a 3G-enabled laptop, they only need to think of one device i.e. the mobile phone rather than making sure they have a 3G USB or ExpressCard modem with them.

The common practice with mobile carriers

Most of the US phone carriers like AT&T or Verizon, as well as some of the European carriers treat the tethering as a distinct “wireless-modem” usage compared to using a phone for integrated Web browsing. Here, they insert premiums for this usage in to their tariff charts for this kind of usage and the US carriers even implement software to discourage tethering unless the user subscribes to a plan that specifically allows tethering.

My experience with Telstra

I have maintained a mobile phone service with Telstra since 1997, working through six subsidised-handset contracts over this period.

Last year, before I went to Sydney, I went to a Telstra store to ask about my data options with respect to my then-current phone contract, Here, I asked about whether I should tether my handset to my laptop or buy a 3G “stick” either as an extra service on my bill or as a prepaid service. They suggested that I consider tethering and increase my plan’s data allowance and I had paid for the extra data allowance.

Here, Telstra offered lower-allowance data plans as part of their mobile phone plans but allowed customers to “buy on” more data allowance. Here the tariff charts don’t discriminate between using your phone as a modem for another device and using the phone as its own Internet terminal. This is although they sell a range of 3G “sticks” and “MiFi” devices alongside the mobile phones.

I didn’t need to do anything to the phone to enable tethering and was able to be sure it worked on a “utility” laptop that I had and was intending to take to Sydney. This was before I was lent the Dell Inspiron 15r laptop which I reviewed as part of the trip. Here, I had made sure that the Inspiron had the necessary drivers for the phone before I had left.

Recent steps with some European carriers

Some European carriers have taken the same step that Telstra has been doing for the many years. That is to modify the tariff charts to remove the distinction between tethered (modem) and handset-specific data.

It is to cater for the reality that the same device uses the same bandwidth whether it is for its own use or another device’s use.

Tethering can benefit the carrier as well

Mobile-phone tethering provides a financial benefit for the carriers as well as a utility benefit for the users. Here, it allows the carrier to see increased per-service revenue. Typically this can be brought about by customers increasing their data allowances in the same way that I did – buying on extra data capacity to their plans where the tariff chart allows.

This is although most customers don’t “burn up” their call or data allowances that they pay for. Rather, if they anticipate extra use, they would increase the allowances. One reason is to allow the customers to budget for a predictable amount for their communications.

Tethering and the Internet-enabled car

When one starts to think of Internet-based infotainment like listening to Internet radio while driving or Internet-driven synchronous traffic-status updating for navigation systems, one would think of how they get the data to the vehicle.

I had touched on this previously in the article about Internet radio in the car and have mentioned that tethering a mobile phone to a vehicle’s infotainment system would be one of the pathis. Infact it may be a logical path as Bluetooth is used to facilitate handsfree calling in the vehicle.


What I would see is that tethering shouldn’t be treated different from phone-specific use and that users should be aware of this as an alternative to operating separate modems and accounts.

GSM Mobile Telephony has now turned 20 this year


GSM turns 20 today, still rocking the world — Engadget

My Comments

GSM Mobile telephony has now turned 20 this year and has become a technological milestone in itself as far as “on-the-go” mobile communication is concerned,

Here, this service had brought through a highly-reliable digital transmission system which could allow many users to use mobile phones in a given area. It had extended the mobile phone beyond voice towards data-driven activities like SMS text messaging and concurrent packet data transmission.

Infact SMS had even brought about a language of shorthand slang known as “textspeak” that ended up as part of email and instant-messaging culture as well and had made the pager redundant. Here, we now see teenagers and other young people working their phones to frantically tap out a message with one hand the moment they hear that phone beep to indicate a text had arrived. This technology had been taken further with MMS which allows photographs, audio or video clips to be sent this way.

The GPRS packet-data system has become the foundation stone of the mobile Internet, allowing for the phone to become an mobile email client and Web browser. This has been emphasised more with technologies like EDGE.

This technology has brought about cost-effective handsets and phone services with a sense of service portability through the use of SIM cards. Here, a person could upgrade to different handsets or “rope in” another handset like a loan phone to their service by transferring a SIM card between these handsets. It also allowed carriers in a competitive market to strut their stuff by offering service that is affordable to most people.

Infact GSM has mad the mobile phone become a mature ubiquitous technology that is available to all. It even has put the traditional landline phone and the payphone “on notice” as far as young users are concerned.

Therefore I would consider the GSM mobile telephone system a milestone to the connected lifestyle.

Happy 20th Birthday GSM Mobile Telephony