Author Archive | Afzal Bajwa

LTE vs. WiMAX: The 4G Wireless War

Remember when 3G was the future of wireless data? It’s not even universally available in the U.S. yet, and the race is already well underway to replace it. WiMAX, the 4G network technology that counts Sprint and Intel among its boosters, has a head start. But it’s losing ground to Long Term Evolution (LTE).

LTE’s promise of high-speed, two-way wireless data promises an “all-IP” mode of communications in which voice calls are handled via VoIP. It’s also designed to handle video well, and to permit roaming through multiple systems–from cellular to Wi-Fi and satellite.

LTE is considered by many to be the obvious successor to current-generation 3G technologies, based on WCDMA, HSDPA, HSUPA and HSPA, in part because it updates UMTS technology to provide significantly faster data rates for both uploading and downloading, while preserving backwards compatibility with existing handsets based on older standards. Verizon Wireless, has already said that it will support LTE as its 4G technology of choice, abandoning its current CDMA based network.

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Zer01: Unlimited Calls and Data for One Low Price

Zer01 LogoAnnounced at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas yesterday, a new wireless company called Zer01 Communications offers the entire connectivity package–unlimited calls and data–in one package, starting at only $69.95 a month. The solution could attract lots of interest if the ongoing economic recession forces people to re-examine how much they’re paying for utilities such as phone service.

PCMag.com broke the story last month after talking with ZER01 CEO Ben Piilani. According to Zer01, “using proprietary technology and infrastructure as never before, it can provide affordable, unlimited mobile service.” But Zer01 isn’t really a wireless carrier. It’s really a VoIP company that piggybacks on top of traditional networks such as AT&T, as PCMag.com reported.

Unlike most U.S. carriers, Zer01 doesn’t do contracts–service is pay-as-you-go. But unlike other pre-paid plans, which typically charge you by the minute or kilobyte, Zer0 says that its domestic plan includes ‘unlimited minutes, any time from anywhere in the continental U.S.A and Canada,’ for $69.95 per month, while its international offer, for $10 more, includes the domestic service. For its international connectivity, the company claims partners, in South America, Europe, Asia, and elsewhere. But it has kept the names of its domestic and international partners secret so far.

Despite Zer01’s claim of “no other fees and taxes,” there is also a one-time, $30 activation fee, and parental controls are available for an extra $4.99 a month. So the subscriber’s first payment is at least $99.95.

It remains to be seen just how reliable Zer01’s VoIP is. If there are problems, customers might regret having chosen to pre-pay for Zer01’s service.

If a subscriber doesn’t already have an unlocked GSM phone to use with Zer01, he or she can buy one from Zer01: Options include HTC’s TyTN II (also sold by AT&T as the Tilt), Touch 3G, and Diamond, and Pharos’s Traveler 117 and Traveler 127. It hasn’t yet set prices for any of these models. It also sells various other optional services and accessories, such as a two-year protection plan for the HTC TyTN II for $69,  a battery charger for $29.99, and a Bluethooth headset for $79.99.


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With Phones, Simplicity is the Best Innovation of All

[A NOTE FROM HARRY: I'm pleased to say that Technologizer is participating in Stanford University's Innovation Journalism program, which brings journalists from other countries to the U.S. to report on innovation. Afzal Bajwa of Pakistan's The Nation will be contributing articles to Technologizer on mobile phones and other wireless topics during his U.S. visit; please join me in welcoming him.]

Beyond jet lag, what worried me most when I embarked on a U.S.- bound plane at Islamabad International Airport was the possibility of technology lag. As chief reporter for The Nation, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, I covered technology and communications in a third-world nation–one with both real problems and image problems, especially in what’s traditionally been known as the new world.

Despite the ongoing global recession, the U.S. is still the world leader in innovation and technological advancement. But that is hardly true in mobile phones. It appeared, to me at least, to be the other way round when I finally arrived after covering more than 11,000 miles in over 25 hours of air travel.

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