#TBT: Mobile web set to grow; Android on the rise; Clearwire to trial LTE … this week in 2010

Editor’s Note: RCR Wireless News goes all in for “Throwback Thursdays,” tapping into our archives to resuscitate the top headlines from the past. Fire up the time machine, put on those sepia-tinted shades, set the date for #TBT and enjoy the memories!

Mobile internet set to explode … but not quite yet

Another day, another mobile web report, and this time it’s from ABI Research, claiming that 60% of mobile phones will be Internet-enabled by 2015. With so much attention falling on smart phones these days, it’s sometimes a shock to realize that in fact, most phones today are not blessed with the miracles of the mobile web, although the number is creeping up. “The mobile browser market is undergoing significant change as the mobile web makes the transition from what some would call a “poor man’s Internet” to a full-fledged web experience,” declares the report’s abstract. ABI goes on to point out that “full Internet browsing is not the whole story for mobile browsing.” Really? how? Well, according to the authors of the report, “it is becoming clear that specific use cases exist for three distinct categories of mobile browsers: full Internet browsers (FIBs), proxy-based browsers (PBBs) and WAP browsers.” And then of course there’s the veritable plethora of devices considered “mobile;” media tablets, MIDs, personal media players, personal navigation devices, gaming devices and e-book readers. ABI’s number crunchers have apparently calculated that in five years the total number of web-enabled phones should reach 3.8 billion, most likely spurred on by some rather speedy triple-digit growth in Africa as well as mobile Internet booms in China, India and Brazil. … Read more

RIM launches the BlackBerry Torch and a new OS

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) upped its game today unveiling its latest smart phone, dubbed the BlackBerry Torch and available initially exclusively in the United States through AT&T Mobility (T). The device sports the device makers latest BlackBerry 6 operating system highlighted by increased integration for touch screens and a new web browser, and could hint at AT&T Mobility’s new future. Hardware wise, the Torch offers up a 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and RIM’s optical trackpad. The screen size is similar to the company’s Storm model, but comes up short in real estate compared with the 3.5-inch screen on Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPhone and the 4+-inch screens on newer devices running Google Inc.’ s (GOOG) Android OS. The device does include a 5-megapixel camera, which is the highest resolution in the BlackBerry lineup. The Torch is powered by a 624 MHz processor with 512 megabytes of Flash memory, which while powerful when compared to RIM’s other devices, also comes up short against many of its competitors that are now sporting processor speeds up to 1 GHz. … Read more

Android growth skyrockets

The great Goog doesn’t do anything by half measures, and if the latest stats from independent tech analyst group Canalys are correct, the firm has managed to grow the market share for its Android operating system a whopping 886% in the second quarter. Canalys reckoned the search-engine giant has even gone as far as grabbing 34% of the US smart-phone market share, knocking both BlackBerry and iPhone operating systems from their perches. While all of this sounds impressive, it certainly doesn’t hurt that Google Inc. is not actually offloading shiploads of phones like its rivals Research In Motion Ltd. and Apple Inc., but rather has an OS that is being used on more than 20 handsets from various phone manufacturers across all major carriers. Indeed, some might wonder why it took Google this long to topple the iPhone or the BlackBerry in terms of smart-phone market share. Some might also wonder whether there’s actually that much room left for Android to grow, a valid concern seeing as the US mobile market is some 90% saturated. China, says Canalys, is the next frontier where Android is concerned, with the operating system only controlling a moderately 7% of the Middle Kingdom’s market, where Nokia Corp. leads the pack. … Read more

Facebook crowdsources questions

The mobile Internet is quite a different beast from is bigger brother, PC Internet and although there are numerous similarities between the two, it is getting increasingly harder to argue that they are one and the same. Having said that, the numbers clearly show that when it comes to most visited sites, users are definitely dragging the world of PC onto the smaller mobile screen, with Facebook and uber popular search engine, Google, taking the lead. With the recent launch of Facebook Questions, however, the social network may prove to become a larger and more valuable information resource to mobile users than Google, its top mobile rival. Though Google has professed a passion to personalize the mobile world for its users – with the likes of Android, Google Voice etc – the search engine giant has thus far failed to come out with its long rumored Google Me social network, which promises to blur the lines between search and social networking.
Unlike on the PC, on mobile, searches are typically much more focused and less general, with users attempting to find answers as fast as they can, rather than the meandering search browsing that tends to occur on the PC. To a certain extent, Facebook Questions is the mobile answer to Google’s search engine, leaving the algorithms aside and letting real people answer your question directly. … Read more

Sprint, Clearwire launch more WiMAX markets

Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) launched WiMAX service in five smaller markets today, bringing commercial operations to 49 cities to date. The operator is moving forward aggressively with its launch plans and plans to increase its presence, announcing a wholesale deal with Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) last week. Clearwire and partner Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) announced commercial WiMAX service in Stockton and Modesto, Calif., Jackson, Fla., Wilmington, Del., and Grand Rapids, Mich. As with other newly launched markets, clear customers who sign up for service online can get a 50% discount on service for the first two months, with overnight shipping included and no activation fee.
The carrier plans to launch service yet this summer in Tampa, Orlando and Daytona, Fla.; and Nashville, Tenn. … Read more

Clearwire gears up for LTE trials

Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) said it plans to begin trialing LTE services in the Phoenix area this fall and that it may tap into its vast spectrum holdings to fund future network growth. The carrier said its LTE trial will include technology partners Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co.Ltd. for network infrastructure and Beceem Communications Inc. and other partners for chips and other technologies. The trial will include both FDD LTE and TDD LTE technologies. For the FDD LTE trial Clearwire said it will use 40 megahertz of spectrum in a 20 x 20 megahertz pairing from its 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings that it claims will provide “real-world” network speeds of between 20 megabits per second and 70 Mbps. Verizon Wireless, which is planning to launch commercial LTE services by the end of the year, recently produced a video of its trials in the Boston area that showed network speeds on a personal computer of between 2.8 and 8.55 Mbps. While not naming Verizon Wireless, Clearwire noted that other carriers are using a 10 x 10 spectrum pairing for their LTE networks. For the TDD LTE trial the carrier said it will use 20 megahertz of spectrum, which is twice the amount it currently uses for its commercial WiMAX deployment. Clearwire claims network speeds for its WiMAX network at 6 Mbps for the downlink and 1 Mbps for the uplink. … Read more

BlackBerry, spying and censorship in the Middle East

Of all the things one could have cut off in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, BlackBerry service has become the latest painful addition to the list, with the United Arab Emirates scrambling to follow suit and chop BlackBerry messenger services by October. The news emerged after the UAE’s Communications and Information Technology Commission ordered local telcos to simply ban BlackBerry instant messaging, email and Internet browsing by October 11 because RIM has not relented to allowing the government monitoring access to the data. Data sent to and from Blackberry devices is encrypted and sent via offshore servers, making it untraceable locally. “Certain BlackBerry services allow users to act without any legal accountability, causing judicial, social and national security concerns,” the United Arab Emirates’ Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said in a statement. Last week RCR reported similar concerns from India, which has taken a hard line after terrorist attacks in Mumbai last year. In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, however, the reasons for the ban appear to have more to do with censorship and spying on the local populace than protecting against terrorists, although government officials have been quick to deny it.
“Censorship has got nothing to do with this,” Mohammed Al Ghanem, director general of the UAE’s TRA, told Reuters on Sunday. Of course, Mr. Al Ghanem made no mention of an incident last year when state-controlled service provider, Emirates Telecommunications pushed out a “software upgrade,” which RIM subsequently warned was an unauthorized “telecommunications surveillance application.” … Read more

Check out the RCR Wireless News Archives for more stories from the past.

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