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Voicestream Quietly Releases GPRS In The U.S. 141

hidden72 writes: "Voicestream quietly rolled out their iStream GPRS wireless data service in the United States last week. More information is available from Voicestream's website. General information about GPRS can be found here. Theoretically, GPRS data rates can reach close to 170k. Voicestream's per-packet charges are quite expensive, ($40 for 10MB) but it's an always-on 28k-56k data connection available in most metropolitan areas."
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Voicestream Quietly Releases GPRS In The U.S.

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  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @06:56AM (#2377579) Homepage
    All I can say is "Thank Standards" its about time that you can use the same phone in the rest of the world and still have it work in the States without having to buy a bulky tri-band number. Now if the billing issues could be sorted out then it would be great.

    Why is the US always at least 2 years behind the rest of the planet for Wireless ?
    • What good is 170k if you can't do anything with it? More MP3s for my phone? Download new ring styles in the blink of an eye? It's a waste until they make a GPRS modem for my visor.
      • Use a palm... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by led ( 3096 )
        You can use it with a palm... or something else with a irda connection...
        A friend of got gprs and uses it to talk on icq in the train, bus, etc
        He also uses it to read slashdot :-) so I guess there are some uses for it...
        • Re:Use a palm... (Score:2, Informative)

          by gazbo ( 517111 )
          If you download an ssh client for your palm, you can really do interesting stuff with decent bandwidth (I've seen it done over a standard crappy cellphone connection)

          I bet BOFH wouldn't be so pissed off if he knew he could delete a user's work or kill their processes whilst sipping a pint at the pub.
    • The easiest way to get shot is to shoot yourself. If you leave it up to an intern, he'll just shoot your boss and you'll get blamed.
    • Ericsson T39 [ericsson.com] - triband - not bulky - and GPRS.

      (and bluetooth, and irda, and SyncML, and background pictures, and sound&pictures in SMS [EMS], and ...)

    • As you can see here [fan.net.au] GSM is not a viable solution for most of America. GSM requires almost 3.5 times more towers to operate. For a country so spread out as North America is (compare the total population of Canada and American against Europe and you'll see what I mean) you won't be putting up a tower for one or two people out in the country.

      If America needs national coverage (and I think they do) CDMA is the obvious choice.
      • Um... North America is not a country
      • don't plant a tower in un-populated areas then!
      • Ummm So there are around 280million or so in North America... a similar number for Europe, add in Africa, the Middle East, Asia which are all predominantly GSM and soon the argument falls into tatters. There is no reason not to use GSM, if its the network of choice in the rest of the planet, and it works over large parts of Russia (hint you don't need many towers in Nebraska or Sibera because animals don't use mobiles). And look at Finland. You'd be hard pushed to find a more sparesely populated country, and yet mobiles rule.

        The infrastructure in the US sucks, its disjointed, fractured and a pain. A classic example of where a lack of goverment direction restricts choice. Having such a disjointed network has put a heavy dampner on the development of wireless in the US.

        Roll on standards, even if they are goverment decreed.
        • What's there to look at Finland? Oh yeah, they aren't anything like North America! You proved my point (if Finland really is the least dense place using GSM)! But here's the stats to back it up:

          Taken from http://www.funet.fi/Finland/Finland-info.html
          People per sq km: 16

          (I'll use my home country, Canada to prove we need to use CDMA)

          Taken from:

          Canadian population: 30 million
          Canadian land area: 10 000 000 sq km.
          People per sq km: 3.

          See what I'm talking about? I live in an area that would be considered 5 minutes out of town and my phone has to drop to analog to work! If it was GSM I wouldn't have service at all!

          You might get away with only including the US in the stats, but even so, I'd be surprised if Finland's population were as evenly distributed as the US's.

          >and it works over large parts of Russia

          Great... a network that doesn't cover the times when you are out in the middle of nowhere and want to use the phone. Joy! Now I can take all my camping trips in fear that my car might explode on the way there since I can't afford an Iridium phone.

          >hint you don't need many towers in Nebraska or Sibera because animals don't use mobiles

          Try telling that to the 2 million "Animals" that live there under the mamalian class human.

          http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/31000.ht ml

          >You'd be hard pushed to find a more sparesely populated country

          Nahh... I both live in one, and beside one.

          I think you'll also find that wireless isn't popular here since it can't compete with local service. I pay $12 US a month for all the phone service I want. Is that how much it is in Finland? If its anything like the rest of europe, probably not.

          I've heard of people in europe saying they use their mobile phones a lot because they hardly pay more to use them than a landline phone. I question if mobile phones can ever take off in a country where a local call is $0.15 US. Even the $30 US a month plans that include 600 minutes are a rip off! I can get more than 2 regular phone lines for that!

          As long as wireless isn't cheap enough to be as popular as regular phones there won't be enough money coming in to build 12x the towers. Well, you could cut off customers and just have service in big cities like New York, but then everyone from europe would complain about how their phone only worked in the one city.

          To me it all looks like chicken & egg.
      • Note that the above figure that it takes 3.5 times more towers to operate GSM than CDMA is based on the cited page's metric named "maximum talk range from a tower (pls. note you will need a carkit for both to achieve these numbers)". I doubt carkit ranges are an effective measure of number of towers needed to cover an area.

        More important limiting factors on tower coverage are issues like how many channels can be used per slice of radio spectrum, and how many slices of spectrum are created out of a provider's licensed spectrum bands (at least in America), which is affected by relative size of the provider's licensed spectrum are in a given market, etc etc.

        To provide enough coverage in non-rural areas, a provider puts up more cells in an area with a smaller transmission radius, no matter which technology. So, the limiting factors become how many towers (cells) in an area, and how efficiently the technology uses however much radio spectrum it has.

        As far as I have heard, CDMA made a great many promises on its future abilities, but has not grown as much as GSM has. I'm sure that can be disputed, but my main point here is that the above post is incorrect in its main point. It's also funny in that the link cited seems to be much more in favor of GSM than CDMA. And I can definitely say from experience that CDMA voice quality leaves a lot to be desired in what I've heard.

    • I have had GSM service in the US for more than two years... First with PowerTel and lately with VoiceStream (bought PowerTel, and Deutsche Telekom owns VoiceStream).
    • GSM is a digital communications standard that is not limited to frequencys. European GSM phones use the frequencies in the 800-900MHz range, while in the US, the GSM standard is part of the PCS standard which uses 1800-1900MHz.

      So yes, it does use the same digital standards, but on different frequencies. You are still stuck with multi-band phones for international use, but if they can get rid of the analog requirements from the old US standards, phones will be simpler.

      • GSM is a digital communications standard that is not limited to frequencys.

        Correct. Just allow me to fix and add some other data:

        US uses:
        824MHz - 894MHz for "Cellular" (824-849MHz Phone->BaseStation, 869-894MHz BaseStation->Phone), using AMPS (analog), TDMA/IS136(or ANSI-136) and CDMA/IS95 (digital), with some IS136 operators testing GSM 800.

        806MHz - 866MHz for "SMR" - iDEN/Nextel (806-821MHz Ph->BS, 851-866 BS->Ph)

        1850-1990MHz for "PCS" (1850-1910MHz Ph->BS, 1930-1990MHz BS->Ph), using CDMA, TDMA/IS136, and GSM (GSM was up and running in Europe when PCS appeared in the US. I know that "GSM standard is part of the PCS standard" was not exactly what you meant, but...)

        Europe (and others) use:
        880-960MHz (880-915MHz, 925-960MHz), and 1710-1880MHz (1710-1785MHz, 1805-1880MHz) for GSM.

        Europe was a mess of different systems, and they've cleverly converged to GSM. The USA once had mostly AMPS, then diverged to a mess of different systems. Clever.

        GSM was the result of a planned evolution; a list of desired features drove the engineering, and it always offered more features to the user than the American digital standards, which were likely driven by a "let's do something digital quick, before someone does it and get the market". Example: for many years IS95 and IS136 had NO FAX/DATA capabilities, while GSM had 9600 (this was fast, one day).

        The number of GSM subscribers in Europe alone is much bigger than the number of all technologies subscribers (analog and digital) in all America (South, Central and North, including the USA ;)).

        Although GSM 1900 require more BaseStations than Cellular 800 due to less propagation of higher frequencies, it is not true for GSM 800 or GSM 900, coverage-wise.

        GSM does have less conversations per MHz of freq.band than IS136 and IS95 (that may not be true if using half-rate channels, with lower audio quality), but the GSM infrastructure is normally cheaper than the ones for IS136 and IS95 (because in a way, GSM Base Stations are dummier than the IS136/IS95 ones), so operators can deploy more GSM sites than IS136/IS95 with the same money.

        True, CDMA is the future, and a technologically superior solution (bear in mind that IS95 is CDMA, but CDMA is NOT IS95). Even GSM will probably migrate to a CDMA solution in the future (***CDMA is not IS95***).

        GSM is a "open system" standard (ok, unless you want to design all the chips and algorithms from scratch, you DO have to pay royalties to someone if you manufacture a GSM phone or Base Station using them)

        If you want to download the GSM standards (or part of it - it's probably about 10,000 pages by now), you can do it for free at etsi [etsi.org].

        If you want to have or use the IS95 standards you have to pay (eia/tia [tiaonline.org]). Although the IS95 (AKA CDMAone) standard is open (for ~360USD), the technology is Qualcomm proprietary.

        By the way, Brazil had followed USA on the 800MHz band (we're mainly IS136 and IS95, few hard-headed AMPS users left), but our "PCS" will be GSM 1800 (European frequency). I have no complains about my IS136 phone or operator, but I'll be the first in line when they start selling GSM 1800 (like I was, for IS136).
      • You can use a radius of about 35 kilometers for a GSM cell if you're on a sparsely populated area (barring interference from mountains, valleys and so forth). So one tower can cater quite a large area.
    • GPRS is a silly, hacked together solution. If this is the sort of thing we can expect from worldwide standards, then I'll stick around and see what the US can come up with. I've already heard that some very interesting work is being done in the area of roaming wireless (802.11-style) networks.

      Ricochet (God rest its soul, and may it come back someday) was far superior to this solution, and a lot cheaper. Yes, GPRS does cover more area, but it does it in such an inefficient way that it could never be offered cheaply (or to a broad base of simultaneous users.)

      • GPRS is a silly, hacked together solution.

        Sure. But it's here now and it does work.

        And when roaming wireless (802.11-style) networks arrives, they'll be working on something even more exciting. Will you wait for that too, then?

        • And when roaming wireless (802.11-style) networks arrives, they'll be working on something even more exciting. Will you wait for that too, then?

          Honestly, I can't afford GPRS now. And I never will be able to. It's nice to have it out there for specialized applications, I suppose, but it's got no future as a real broadband solution.

          Same with 3G, much of which is going to be based off of current GSM standards. That's not available today, and by the time it begins to roll out (at enormous expense), I'm convinced that better solutions will be available. It'd be a shame if our wireless companies jumped into a massive investment that precluded the rollout of more advanced tech.

          Essentially, my problem with GPRS and 3G is that I think the standards are starting to slow down development of new technologies. They're very expensive. While we bitch about the US's failure to adopt GSM and GSM-based 3G systems, I'm convinced that the next advance will move us well beyond the capabilities of those systems. It's just a hunch. A good analogy would be the early deployment of analog HDTV in Japan, a standard which was eventually abandoned in favor of the digital standards being developed in the US.

    • But I've had my VoiceStream (previously powertel) GSM phone for over two years...

      unfortunately I don't think it will work in EU, because there appear to be two different GSM setups.
      • As long as you get a world phone, or rent a phone with the correct frequency, you can roam outside the US. I've used my Voicestream account in Taiwan, Singapore and Australia (it's a US based account with international roaming enabled.)
    • All I can say is "Thank Standards" its about time that you can use the same phone in the rest of the world and still have it work in the States without having to buy a bulky tri-band number. Now if the billing issues could be sorted out then it would be great.
      Now, if sir would go to the clue bag and get a clue. The US came late to the digital cell party. We use 1900 MHz frequencies for digital cellular services. Europe and the rest of the world use 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequencies for GSM et al. Tribanders are necessary unless you happen to have two cell phones.
      Why is the US always at least 2 years behind the rest of the planet for Wireless ?
      Because: A: We use different sets of frequencies.
      B: We don't have One Solid Standard for 1900 MHz cellular.
      c: You're wrong. I got a Mototorola V.100 phone, which looks like an iMac blue clamshell and is for a lot of SMS work (look at the qwerty chiclet keyboard!) before my EU friends. (I went to HAL2001 and I saw nothing like the v.100; however, some of their phones were wicked cool.)
  • US GPRS expensive? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alecbrown ( 66952 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @07:04AM (#2377596) Homepage
    You quote $40 for 10MB, in the UK the prices are about £7($5) for 1MB if included in the price plan, or 2p/KB ($15/MB) if not, so it seems to be in line.

    The problem with GPRS is that the suppliers are likely to kill the market by charging too much and restricting the accessable sevices to a few WAP sites which the supplier has a relationship with (I'm told at least one telco in the UK does this, but I havn't checked it out).

    SMS used to be a service that was hardly ever used due to expensive prices and a restriction to the suppliers network, alot of people didn't even know their phones could do it. As soon as the prices dropped and the telcos opened gateways to each other, the volumes exploded, now SMS' are a large part of the telcos' income.

    GPRS is something that will be kept in the WAP bracket of niche user base until telcos finally realise that people will use it if they can afford it. Ironically GPRS will solve the main problem with WAP, speed.
    • Price (Score:2, Interesting)

      by led ( 3096 )
      Yes, around here in Portugal it's still very expensive, but for those of us that were using regular modem thru gsm we get the benefit of not having to lose 45s just for the modem sync, and about 1.5 mins to login...
      Right now it's cheaper doing certain things in gprs.
      • Use V110 (Score:2, Informative)

        Also known as "ISDN" on some phones.

        With it, the connection time is practically zero as th GSM connects to the Internet Dialin port via ISDN instead of with a modem. To use it, you just need a different init string, and the other side has to support V110 (not all do, but a lot do).

        I use it when connecting my laptop. I only get 9.6 kBit as I don't use it enough for the $10 extra a month to be able to use HSCSD (High speed circuit switched data) which is capable of transferring 14.4*3=43,2 down/14.4 up or something like that. And that only costs regular phone charges.

        GPRS is too expensive here in Germany.

        If I would use it, I would have to pay $0.35 per 10 kilobytes for the first 100kb and $0.10 after that.

        So one MB would cost $3.50 + 90*$0.10 = $12.50 for one megabyte!!!

        With HSCSD I only pay $0.10 per minute and get a decent connection. That makes a megabyte price if continously transferring data of $0.35
      • GPRS is something that will be kept in the WAP bracket of niche user base until telcos finally realise that people will use it if they can afford it

      Consider the first wave of GPRS as an extended beta test; they have to keep numbers down until they iron out the bugs in the system.

      Plus, there's only so many people that will use it up anyway. It's not a case of "divide the price by 10, get ten times as many customers". I'm sure someone with a real (snigger) economics degree has worked out this price point to maximise initial profit while minimising the network exposure to a flood of users.

    • The problem with GPRS is that the suppliers are likely to kill the market by charging too much and restricting the accessable sevices to a few WAP sites which the supplier has a relationship with (I'm told at least one telco in the UK does this, but I havn't checked it out).
      There are some funny exceptions, like TeleDenmark, a Danish provider who couldn't figure out yet how to charge for data (instead of air time), so they don't charge at all, but call it "introductory price".
    • 7 pounds was US$10 last time I went to London (August 2001), so the prices seem to be $10/1MB with plan, $30/MB without? Voicestream's best rates are $4/MB w/ plan.

      OTOH, the UK is generally more expensive.
    • Cingular has announced pricing of $70/MB. Read this thread [google.com] for more info...
    • The problem with WAP is incompatibility/bugginess, low usability and lack of useful content - speed is barely faster using GPRS, which simply makes it more convenient by being always-on. Every time I try a new WAP site, it doesn't work on my phone (a Nokia 7110, supposedly a standard one), due to WAP gateway, WAP browser or site problems. I would actually use WAP a bit if it worked, despite the usability - some of the content is becoming useful, e.g. a site that tells you driving directions from any point in the UK.
    • Here in Taiwan GPRS is quite cheap. 56kbps unlimited usage is only about US$30 per month with basic GSM service, or US$15 with premium GSM service. The service quality is pretty good, but you have to buy the expensive (about US$500 here) Motorola V60/V66 phone to get 56kbps. Otherwise you can buy Motorola P7389i at about US$60 and get 22kbps.

      It's not very pratical to read email or use WAP on the tiny cell phone screen, so not many people use GPRS this way. Most people use it as a always-on wireless modem, connect notebook & palm to internet. One of my friend use GPRS for his desktop PC while waiting for ADSL installation ;)

  • Those prices are quite expensive, especially if you need a wireless connection to download porn, like I do. I guess people who want a connection for non-pornographic related activities might not mind.
    BTW, it says on the bottom that PDA's need to be running Windows CE. Unless I'm mistaken, this sounds like another attempt to alienate the non-MS community. I say we declare war.
    • Many people are using GPRS with Palm/Handspring
      PDA's, and I don't see why Voicestream's service
      would be any different. AFAIK, all GPRS phones can be connected to a computer using a standard serial cable. The phone pretends to be a modem and when you dial a certain number, say #99*, you get a "connect" and a PPP handshake, pretty general stuff that is supported everywhere.
    • I infact found my Motorola Timeport GPRS easier to setup under linux than ce or windows! The motorola software (for windows) does not work on com2 Active Sync does not like com2 either, and when it is working on com1 it does not seem to configure the modem correctly 50% of the time. Ce was just a pain requiring it to be configured on 2 different place, dial and modem, each screen you have to go though 3 pages of "advanced settings"

      My chap script for linux however took me about 30 seconds to get working.

      '' 'ATZ'
      'OK' 'ATDT*99#'
      'TIMEOUT' '30'
      '~--' ''

  • Palm has a nice GRPS modem out.. seems like anybody with a decent palm and the modem within a area that is accessible by GRPS would be quite happy except if they cant afford the service.. I for one wouldnt mind being in a Cafe and whipping out my Palm and looking up the current movie listings for teh area I'm in and be able to find a decent movie that I want to watch..

    Voicestream has a page that has GRPS capable devices at: http://www.gsmworld.com/technology/gprs_terminals. html [gsmworld.com]
  • Here in germany its 190 DM (about 90 us$) for 10 MB .. :(

    And they wonder why noone is using this :)

    in fact the only application for gprs would be to check your email with a handheld computer.

    Surfing the web is way too expensive with it :)

    • These prices are the result from converting time based WAP rates into volume based GPRS rates.
      These totally unaffordable rates render any mobile communication application besides WAP and EMail unusable. Thus the telco providers effectively prevent innovation with this pricing policy.

      Ok, if you're a big enough business you may be able to negotiate more realistic conditions...
    • Here in germany its 190 DM (about 90 us$) for 10 MB .. :(

      Your're using the wrong network. Viag charges 9 Pfennig per 10kB, which is roughly the same as Voicestream...

      I agree, however, that it's still too much!

  • Costs (Score:3, Informative)

    by forgoil ( 104808 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @07:10AM (#2377611) Homepage
    The reason mobile phones are doing so well in europe is the price and the flexibility. Sweden are for instance way ahead of the states, way better standard (GSM all the way), better deals and SIM cards instead of locking the consumers in.

    So what does this got to do with GPRS? Well, charging per packets will be expensive, even more so as you will pay for everything in and out (I guess). WAP push will not be fun for example. And it could very very easily become extremly expensive for the cosumer, and hard to check up on how expensive it has become before it is too late. Charge me a monthly sum according to the QoS I get and I would think about it, like it is now I can not recommend anyone to use it, unless they are very rich.
    • Re:Costs (Score:4, Informative)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @08:06AM (#2377696) Homepage
      • charging per packets will be expensive

      It does at least ensure that they will get light users, so their usage figures will make them more inclined to go to flat rate.

      Contrast with a couple of broadband fixed line ISPs in Australia and the UK, that are howling in outrage that people are actually using their bandwidth, and have introduced daily and monthy usage caps. Want to bet that your ISP won't follow suit if too many people actually start using their cables and DSL to leech serious amounts of data?

      Unmetered suffers from chicken and egg. Until you have low prices, you won't get high takeup and therefore a sustainable base of "average" users. Until you have "average" users, you take a real beating on the service.

      At least paying by the packet should ensure that (once the network snafu's are worked out) the prices will drop quickly to get numbers up, and they will go unmetered eventually, at which point you and I can jump onboard and realise the dream of being connected 24/7. Aaaaah, nice.

      • Re:Costs (Score:2, Insightful)

        by forgoil ( 104808 )
        Contrast with a couple of broadband fixed line ISPs in Australia and the UK, that are howling in outrage that people are actually using their bandwidth, and have introduced daily and monthy usage caps.
        This is both a real and a serious problem. The problem is that the ISPs couldn't get it in their heads that people will use all the resources they can, i.e. hog as much bandwidth as they can. Why shouldn't they? The problem as I see it, is that the ISPs want to go in late and try to "fix" the problem, only causing even more problems. The phone companies are not quite as fresh when it comes to these things, hence the per unit charge.
        As I suggested in my original post, I would prefer a payment plan for a QoS (Quality of Service). In other words, I buy a bandwidth. Let's say I buy 256kbit/s. If the system doesn't use the capacity, I will get the full speed, but if a user with 1Mbit/s needs the bandwidth, I have to live with my 256kbit/s. The same would be a piece of cake (actually easier) with GPRS and the likes. I recommend anyone who wants to know to read up on GPRS (I am sure any other system would be fairly similar).
        The worst part will be the sob stories in the media about people with huge bills. Why can't the phone companies stop peoples services before they ruin themselves?
    • I am a novice GSM user and understand that there is a provision for the s.i.m. card that you purchase to write to the phone an identifier that prevents the phone from recognizing a s.i.m. card from any other carrier.

      Is this in actual use in the world?

      I searched the web for workarounds, but without exception I turned up the exact same paragraph copied verbatim at well over 50 sites, so I gave up looking.

      If true, it would go a long way towards killing acceptance of this, in addition to exhorbitant rates.

      Ideas? Comments?
      • Yes, this is known as SIM locking in the UK, and does happen. Some operators sell you SIM locked phones and charge a fee for unlocking, others do not. In practice, many people dump the phone and service after a year and get a new one - this is often cheaper than getting an upgrade phone. However, for people who do stay with one operator, it is generally possible to transfer the SIM - it's just a matter of checking you are not SIM locked, or paying the fee if you are.
  • In Finland... (Score:3, Informative)

    by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @07:24AM (#2377627)
    99Fims (about 15$) a month for unlimited GPRS data-access :)
    • sure rub it in!


      darn this filters.... will this never end ?
    • That's just interim pricing, I am sure it will change as soon as Sonera makes up their mind. And also, it's just one timeslot ( =slow) for now.
      • Yeah. In Finland I paid 0 FIM / 3 months of free unlimited GPRS use. Sure it was just Pilot program for test users, but so is 99 FIM / month Sonera GPRS. It's not final product yet.
  • Killer Apps? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jarty ( 165599 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @07:27AM (#2377633)
    I'm intrigued to know what 'killer apps' are going to emerge for wireless devices. I know that the role out of WAP here in the UK has been something of a failure as no one could really see the 'benefit' of wireless web surfing which is slower as not as usable as doing it from your home PC.
    The truly useful applications will use the GPS location of your phone to give you location dependent services. What's the traffic like 1 mile up the road? Where's the nearest pub that serves Wadworth's 6X? Where's the nearest record store?

    Perhaps the Yellow Pages is the killer app.
  • Voicestream.... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Mr. Wanker ( 522299 )
    The other nice thing about Voicestream is that they use GSM, which allows me to roam internationally (no, not just Canada and Mexico). Recently I was on a trip to France, and was able to send and recieve calls just as if I was state-side.

    It is a great idea, and the proof of that is AT&T is also building a GSM network.
    • AT&T (Score:2, Informative)

      They're going to use GSM800 aren't they?

      Just now phones are starting to have GSM 900/1800/1900 as a standard and now we have GSM 800 as well.

      Oh well.
      • but AT&T doesn't have the quality my voicestream has... sounds like a land line....
      • Just now phones are starting to have GSM 900/1800/1900 as a standard and now we have GSM 800 as well.

        I thought that AT&T is actually going to be using the 1900Mhz licenses they have in some markets, and maybe get licenses in other markets as well. But I could be wrong. In any case, I believe that there will soon be (or is it out already?) GSM-450 as well, running on the NMT-450 spectrum that is being phased out (in Finland, Sweden, anywhere else?)

        • running on the NMT-450 spectrum that is being phased out (in Finland, Sweden, anywhere else?)

          Denmark too. TDC (the major tele operator in Denmark and the only operator for NMT) recently offered all their NMT customers a GSM account as replacement for their current to-be-phased-out NMT account.

    • Re:AT&T GSM (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cpfeifer ( 20941 )
      Yes they are. And they're testing GPRS in Washington state. Here's the coverage map [attws.com].
  • Great, its global roaming will allow you to use it anywhere including Kazakhstan, but oh no, not Canada. It's just an invisible line dividing a land mass. We're practically american anyway!
    • Uhmm.. .are you saying you can't use GSM in Canada? Canada is probably the easiest place to roam for US GSM users. The carrier there, Microcell, is heavily invested in by Voicestream.

      Also, they use the 1.9 ghz band like the rest of North America, so you don't even need a world phone.

      I roamed in Canada quite a bit... works great.

  • I wonder if VoiceStream is conspiring with those marketing type geezers that send 8 Mb PowerPoint(tm) presentations to half the company...
  • I wanted more accurate numbers but when I tried to price the damn phone + plan + contract on Voicestream's website I realized that their little shopping cart prog refuses to give you a running total... I got to the point where I would have had to enter a credit card and agree to terms and they still never let me know what exactly this was costing me. That really sucks. Okay rough guesses:

    Motorola phone (that you probably didn't want) 169.99
    PDA data plan (that you don't want because you have a Palm or linux on PDA) 19.99
    Voice plan (that you don't want because you like the cell you have) 19.99
    Compaq ipaq H3635 (because if you have to run WinCE... ) 499.99
    Extra battery, mobile charger. (guess) 89.99

    Comes out to: $799.95

    So for almost a grand I can pretty much have my porno spam beamed straight to the metra train on the way to work... yeah I guess I could also pull down Slashdot as well so that I could keep current about glove input devices as well. True...

    I think I am just gonna keep my ugly clumsy Palm VII

    But the phone does come with a built in FM tuner. So maybe I am just being a bitch about the whole thing.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of our first 'official' projects at ScaredCity(?tm?) [scaredcity.com], is to collaborate with some local independent telcos, to build a tower, to facilitate economical wireless 'net access in our area (northern NY). It's going to take around 2 years to fruite, but as is known, nothing worthwhile, is easy, cheap, or quick to 'market'.

    Meanwhile, we're working hard to encourage folks to investigate/participate in, the brave gnu world of open/honest communications/commerce. We will be giving away, this distinctive set of URLs [opensourceworks.com], including a year's free hosting, as a result of someones' ability to follow simple directions.

    So far, we note, A LOT of whining about the asphixiating behaviours of the felonious kingdumb of fud, but a dangerous lack of actual resolution to participate in the offering of alternatives. As far as we're concerned, fud is dead, but we hear that may not be totally true for everybuddy, yet.

  • GPRS vs HSCSD (Score:3, Informative)

    by jlemmerer ( 242376 ) <xcom123@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @08:28AM (#2377741) Homepage
    Hi everybody!
    I just have to say one thing:
    Here in Europe GPRS is already in use in cellular networks so I have some experience with it (the experience comes also from my job, I work at the largest cellular network provider here in Austria). Unlike HSCSD, GPRS does not provide stable data tranfer rates. 170 k sounds cool, but as experience has shown, these rates only apply if you stand directly next to a receiver. HSCSD uses multiple channels, reaches about 43 k and if you loose a channel (e.g. when the network gets crowded) you pay for one channel less. GPRS uses slots in one channel, and if a slot is unavailable - well, bad luck. Here in Austria most people prefer HSCSD for it is cheaper and more reliable, the maximum transmission speed reached with GRPS in real use is only slightly higher than HSCSD and generally speaking -> HSCSD is most times faster. GRPS is not a solution for high speed date. It is only a small step towards UMTS.

    • I do not have much experience with HSCSD, but my experience with GPRS has been the same as with WAP... Being a geek I got myself the technology as soon as I could get my dirty hands on it, and have been utterly dissapointed.
      GPRS remains a last resort for me, and with the given prices it will be for quite some time.

    • The round trip times ( ping replies ) are 3 times higher on gprs compared to hscsd:
      gprs 2100ms
      hscsd 600ms
      Tested on Belgian networks ( Mobistar & Orange ).
      Not okay for interactive applications, might work for mail & surf.
      • Thanks for posting that - presumably these were minimum size ICMP packets? They are fairly poor, as you say - TCP could probably survive this as long as the sliding window ramped up a bit, but it would not be very fast. The network may need to tune the radio link encoding or use more slots, perhaps - e.g. by default, voice data is spread across several frames so that loss of any one frame does not lose all voice data, I believe.
  • cellular technology (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrm677 ( 456727 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @09:25AM (#2377886)
    Enough of these ignorant comments.

    GSM is, and still isn't right for the United States for 2 reasons.

    1) The European GSM standard uses 900MHz and 1800MHz. Those frequencies are used by the United States government, and have been long before GSM came around. So that's why GSM in the U.S. uses different frequencies. So any GSM phone that is, say 2 years old, won't work in Europe and vice versa.

    2) Optimal cell size is a function of population density. Digital technologies, especially GSM, require smaller cell sizes. Simply put, places like Wyoming are not going to be getting digital anytime soon. But they do have analog because you can make those cells huge. GSM does not interoperate well with AMPS. CDMA IS-95 does. You can run a CDMA network and an AMPS network at 800MHz.

    I also believe that CDMA is the future (not IS-95). Sure, UMTS is based on time-division, but the Docomo 3G call stack is CDMA-based.

    So go buy your VoiceStream phone if you live in a big city. I live in Chicago. VoiceStream is there, but no way will I get a VoiceStream phone because if I ever go to Wisconsin, my phone will not get service. My Verizon CDMA phone gets service anywhere in the country.
    • 1) Ericsson T39 with infrared, Bluetooth, GPRS, tri-band, tiny, it rocks.

      2) GSM and IS-136 are both more closely related to analog cellular than is CDMA (IS-95). IS-95 cells can be larger, but not because of any relationship to analog.

      The (worldwide) future is WCDMA/UMTS, which is where GSM carriers are going, although U.S. and Korean IS-95 networks will evolve to CDMA2000, so it will be safe to stay IS-95 in the U.S. IS-95 is the Betamax of cellular technologies.

      • by mrm677 ( 456727 )
        I disagree with point 2. IS-95 interoperates better with AMPS. You can have an IS-95 network running on the A frequencies, and standard AMPS on the B frequencies. I'm not sure of this, but it may even be possible to run AMPS and IS-95 in A or B frequencies. The 1.25MHz spectrum of IS-95 is evenly divisable by the channel frequencies of individual AMPS channels.

        Many carriers in the U.S. will evolve to CDMA2000, which can be regarded as a stepping stone to WCDMA as soon as they figure out the spectrum. Kind of like how GPRS is a stepping stone from GSM to UMTS.

        How long as that nifty Ericsson phone been around? I'm sure its a great phone, but realize that carriers have to plan their networks years before all of these nifty phones come to market.

        I'm not knocking GSM...its a great standard and Europe is very fortunate to have a nice uniform standard. It just wasn't right for the U.S. at the time (early 90's). I also like the SIM cards which are non-existant in IS-95.
        • I disagree with point 2. IS-95 interoperates better with AMPS. You can have an IS-95 network running on the A frequencies, and standard AMPS on the B frequencies. I'm not sure of this, but it may even be possible to run AMPS and IS-95 in A or B frequencies.

          Bell Atlantic nee Verizon (which consumed Voicestream I thought) has been doing this for about 5 years. They were the wireline carrier in the mid-Atlantic area.

          They also are getting ready to turn up their 3G1X stuff that they have been installing, so it gets muddy from here.

          I am not convinced that CDMA2K will dominate. Let's see if Qualcomm sticks around long enough to be a factor and the F.C.C. finally gets half a clue.

          Lots and lots of interesting things going on now and in coming months, aint it great to be alive?!

        • CDMA2K (Which is IS-2000) is not a stepping stone to W-CDMA, they are just 2 different standards that do essentially the same thing. Generally CDMA2K will use 3 1.25MHZ channels and W-CDMA will use one ~4MHZ channels. Both are called 5 MHz channels due gaurd bands and such, but do not truly occupy 5 MHz

          "Many carriers in the U.S. will evolve to CDMA2000, which can be regarded as a stepping stone to WCDMA "

          Intially the CDMA carriers will be rolling out 3G1X which will use only 1 of those 3 Channels I was talking about for data, this stage is a stepping stone but it is part of the CDMA2K standard. Which also leads way to 3G E-DO...but that's another story for next year.

          I have heard that GPRS data throughput rates will very poor. Even though the speak of 170kps or something I am hearing numbers around 10-20kps peak. Yes, CDMA will also preach big numbers but you will not seen these numbers in very many places. It will be interesting to see what the throughput is going to be.
    • by Yokaze ( 70883 )
      Well, there are several tri-band mobiles out there, and Europe and Japan there aren't many people, who use a 2 year old mobile.

      Actually, UMTS uses for paired bands UTRA FDD with W-CDMA (Wide-Band Code Division Multiple Access) and for unpaired bands UTRA TDD with TD-CDMA (Time Division Code Division Multiple Access) is employed.
      IRC, UTRA FDD is used for symmetrical circuit-switched services like voice and video-telephone, so generally you will use W-CDMA.
      Here some further explanations [toronto.edu] to UMTS and GSM.

      A GSM cell has a range up to 64km (e.g. coastal region) and normally up to 32km. Those are protocol related limitations. Usually cells are smaller due to surrounding buildings or mountains. But those physical limitations apply to any radio signal.

      Can you tell me what is the typical cell range of a CDMA or a D-AMPS system?

      UMTS cell sizes, and CDMA-networks in general, depend on the number of users as the signal to noise ratio increases with the number of users.
      This is unevitable, since one users will be noise for to the other users, which is the prinicple of CDMA.
      With up to 5 users you have a cell range of about 1.4km with 40 users the cell range is only 0.6km, with 42 users the cell range is 0.3km.
      CDMA cells tend to "breathe".
      The numbers are of no importance for CDMA in general, but the tendency is.
      How do you plan coverage for breathing cells?

      >Digital technologies, especially GSM, require smaller cell sizes

      Please explain to me, what the causal relationship between cell-size and employing digital technologies is.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Nortel CDMA cells with low capacity (no. of simultaneous users) can go up to 200km range... used here in rural areas of 'down under'...

        as the capacity grows, then the range reduces...
      • Most people I know, who've had cellphone service for several years, use a 2-year old mobile.

        CDMA cell sizes can be huge (i'm talking CDMA in generic terms here). The capacity is just decreased because the noise floor is higher. Remember this is a spread spectrum technology. The U.S. military uses CDMA technology for talking to fighter jets. Their data rate is so low (1 kb/s instead of 14.4 kb/s) that the noise flow can be extremely high thus they have "cell sites" that are hundreds of miles wide. In CDMA, you can have a tradeoff between cell size, users, and data rate. Since the data rate is fixed (sort-of), that leaves a tradeoff between capacity and cell size (noise floor)

        Sorry, I don't have my CDMA theory book in front of me, and I don't know the equations off the top of my head. If I get the time, I will look them up for you.

        Can anyone else explain to this guy why you can do this in CDMA? Its been too long since I've studied the stuff to get the detail he wants.
        • This only explains that by employing spread spectrum modulation the signal to noise ratio is improved since it reduces the impact of
          radiointerferences, may they be natural or artifical. (That's why the military uses it, they want to avoid jammer.) The advantage is that you can make larger cells. It don't save you from being in a shadow of a mountain or a building.

          Is this a response to my question what the causal relationship between cell-size and employing digital technologies is?
          CDMA is just a media access method and does not enforces you to transfer analogue data.
          UMTS will use two CDMA derivates (one combining time and code multiplexing) and is digital for sure.

          Is this a response to my question, how large a typical CDMA cell is?
          I've never doubted that in theory CDMA cells can be larger, I was wondering is the higher range useful.
          A 200km cell size as stated by this comment [slashdot.org] will do you no good in the valleys of the Rocky Mountains, neither in urban areas.
          Assuming that the majority of cells is smaller than 64km in diameter, you probably can ignore the overhead occuring in using smaller cells.
          This certainly does not apply for Australia but probably for the U.S.
    • There are several phones that are either tri-band, or dual-band (900 and 1900). In fact, these have been available for a few years but were in the past not popular. Bosch once sold a model but does not anymore. Ericsson previously had the I888, now the T28, the wonderful T39, and the just-announced also wonderful T66. Nokia has also had one model for at least the past year (8890 I believe?). We should also not forget the Motorola 7089 and 7389. Siemens was also supposed to release a model recently. So, there are many handsets available to allow interoperation...you just have to look for them and be prepared to pay a little extra.

      Your Verizon CDMA phone may get service everywhere, but it is not digital service everywhere. GSM phones with analog roaming also exist. Microcell in Canada sells (or at least used to sell) Nokia phones with that capability.

      Lastly, UMTS is going to be WCDMA. There are of course patent issues as Qualcomm is claiming to own "relevant" IP.
  • Gotta love my nokia 8290 w/ voicestream. IR modem to laptop or handheld. doubley wireless ;-)
    I can dial right into my ISP and voicestream it
    doesn't cost anything when it's in my minutes.

  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @11:13AM (#2378259) Journal
    On the surface, Voicestream's plan doesn't sound bad. In Japan, you pay 0.1 yen per 128 byte packet, or about $75 per 10mb. $40 for 10mb is only half that, at about 0.05 cents per packet. Cost-wise, it's fine - but you have to buy your packets ahead of time, and you have to buy your voice minutes separately! In Japan, you buy your (subsidized to be cheap) phone, pay a flat $3/mo fee for the activation and use, and then just pay as you go by packets you send or request, be it for voice or data. As a result, text messaging in Japan (and europe) has become hugely popular and people use their phones for practically everything.

    When are the American companies going to learn that what is holding the cellular market back is not so much the technology as the bass-ackwards system of purchasing a calling plan for a whole year with a certain number a minutes a month and a preposterous number of restrictions while still having to pay for incoming calls. It's overly complex, intimidating, and autocratic. These idiotic games are precisely the reason I do not yet own a mobile phone. I don't mind paying more for the phone, but I won't pay for more minutes/data than I use, and I hate playing guessing games.

    It irritates me to see US technology so far behind Europe and Japan for such a stupid, greedy reason. As far as I'm concerned, a mobile phone should work anywhere in the world that a network exists, and have consistent, per-use billing regardless of where you are. Until we have something approaching that in America, I'm not buying. Here's hoping Sprint or ATT figure it out.
    • Pricing for data on this service is just too goddamn high, no matter how you slice it. 1000+ minute rate plans for voice are fine (AT&T Digital One Rate is great), but for any reasonable use of data these prices will bankrupt you. FLAT RATE OR NOTHING for data, I say: it's worked on landline connections, it should work for wireless.
      • Is this a troll?

        Obviously wireless and wireline are different environments, with totally different technical constraints, business models, and usage patterns.

        Just a couple of things... you have to buy spectrum before you launch your wireless service, you have to deploy cells, you have to put together roaming agreements, you have to provide smooth hand-over between cells for moving customers, you have a (small) finite number of simultaneous customers on the one cell (compared with something like fibre), you have conflicting quality of service: voice vs. packet, you have to manage phone numbers (nothing like dynamically allocated IP addresses), weather patterns affect service quality, different countries have non-interoperable standards (making efficiencies of scale harder to reach), etc. etc.

        Andrew Scott
        • Is this a troll? Obviously wireless and wireline are different environments, with totally different technical constraints, business models, and usage patterns.


          I'm simply explaining my buying patterns - patterns that have been repeatedly and conclusively shown to be the only ones that work in the internet business. Customers simply HATE, HATE, HATE metered charges (particularly per-megabyte charges!) for internet access - and so they won't buy the service.

          I certainly understand the economics behind the charges that exist for cellular wireless data. My message is simply that unless these economics can be changed, cellphone-based mobile wireless will never be a viable mainstream internet access method. 802.11 freenets and paynets (e.g. those being tested at Starbucks now) are much, much more likely to succeed.

    • While the mobile network providers in Germany all have announced or even implemented GPRS networks, their prices are higher than you seem to believe. Deutsche Telekom (which bought Voicestream) prices a block of 10Kb between 0.07DM and 0.69DM, depending on your basic package. This results in USD~33 to USD~323 per 10MB!

      The lowest prices are only available by using GPRS with a Laptop or PDA and adding an hourly rate of USD~2.3. If you're using a WAP enables mobile phone, the price per Kb is trippled.

      Since that obviously was not enough, you cannot use GPRS with the very popular SMS (short message service, a text message of 160 characters). These will still be charged on a per-message base, with prices being very stable over the last years with all providers. Price per SMS is USD~0.18, summing up to a hefty USD1,143 per 10Mb.

      Strange thing is that while adaption of GPRS is very slow (partly due to the lack of GPRS enabled devices and a very bad start for WAP), SMS's still going crazy despite the high costs. I'm not sure about the prices in the rest of Europe, but believe there aren't that many GPRS-enabled GSM networks in use and their pricing is similar.

      So it seems that a) the US is not that far behind due to greed and b) people do not really care about the price.

    • All of europe agreed on a standard in 1984 for digital phones called gsm. works allover europe, in Canada, a small provider has had GSM service in cities for the past 5 years. Rogers (largest cell network in Canada, on Nov 1 will release its GSM Offering accross its whole network, meaning if you can get cell service there now, youll get gsm there in a month.

      AT&T in the US will offer this in about 2 years.

      the reason fo rthe switch is that it was discovered that cdma doesnt work with the new 3g wireless services (developed in europe for gsm) thus requireing the switch to gsm.
  • quietly ????

    and on slashdot /???

    what are u talking about ??
  • A colleaque student did a diploma thesis with gprs (Hey Joergi where are you). And he experienced roundtrip times around 2s. Yes two seconds !!!

    I'm not to familiar with this whole matter but what is theoreticly 170k good for if I need 6 secs for a handshake ?
  • So, it's basically a 28k - 56k service, that can "theoretically" go as fast as 170k, while Ricochet was a 128k service, with real-life throughput of up to 300k. They charge 40 bucks for 10MB, while Ricochet charged $40/month (for local-only service in San Diego--$75/month for nationwide) for as much data as you wanted (I used as much as 100MB/day at times). Be still my heart.
  • by kr4jb ( 200152 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @09:59PM (#2381551) Homepage
    The main appeal for GPRS is not the high data rates. In practice, the data rates are similar to single-slot CSD, or sometimes as good as multi-slot HSCSD. It depends on how the operators provision their RF channels. The big deal about GPRS is that it is packet switched, "always on", and has no long call setup times.

    These features make casual web/wap browsing more appealing than the old way (dial up, wait, connect, read web page, pay while reading, hang up).

    There are two main uses for cellular data connections: (1) apps in the phone, like email and wap (2) use as a modem, connected to a laptop. GPRS will make #1 a lot better. The effect it will have on #2 will be that you pay for bits and not time (which is good for activities like web browsing, which have download-and-read usage patterns).

    It's a shame that the cellular infrastructure companies (see my email address) have marketed GPRS as a "high bandwidth" solution instead of an "always on" one. The carriers are just selling what they've been told.

panic: kernel trap (ignored)