Thursday, December 9, 2010

Will Verizon's iPhone Rule The Air?

Verizon has been talking a big game about how it is ready for the iPhone. Will it provide the same service as AT&T? Is it providing it now?

All Verizon owners of Droids! Let's try an experiment! Make sure you are not connected to a Wi-Fi network. Then call a friend and while you are talking to him/her get on the internet and try go to a website. What happens? We can tell you. You will not be able to go to any Internet site. This is the present state of affairs with Verizon. This is not the experience of iPhone users. All AT&T users of the iPhone fully expect to be able to get on the Internet or use their apps while they are on a voice call. Verizon with all it's boasting, power and technology does not offer this ability. AT&T offered it long before the iPhone. You could do this with Windows Mobile phones or with the more sophisticated Palms units.

Some might ask if this feature is really important. How often would it be used? Our answer is VERY often. In fact, there is no point in boasting of "multitasking" if you cannot do this! But the problem is not just with the Internet, with no access to data and voice simultaneously, you cannot use any apps that access the Internet while you are on a voice call either. That means you cannot access your maps to see where your friend is. You cannot find out the time of a movie to decide on a show until you hang up. You cannot use Yelp to see what is a good restaurant while speaking to your friend. It is an unnatural way of doing things.

Why does Verizon not offer this ability? CDMA has the ability to do both data and voice at the same time, at least in theory. The Droid and other Android phones do not have the ability to do this. Also, Verizon does not permit it as of yet. There is an extensive conversation concerning this issue between Verizon customers here. But is there an official reason given by Verizon for this practice? We have been unable to find it. We know that in August 17, 2000 an announcement was made for an agreed specification called CDMA 2000 1X Advanced. Here is the quote about one of its features:
A complementary device enhancement known as simultaneous 1X Voice and EV-DO Data (SVDO) will also become available during the same timeframe and will enable CDMA2000 devices to access EV-DO packet data services while in an active 1X circuit-switch voice call. For example, users will be able to send emails or access the Web while on voice calls; phones with GPS can update maps or download real-time traffic information while on voice calls, etc. This device enhancement, which enables these concurrent voice and data services, is independent of the air link standard and infrastructure.
So as of 2000, there was a theoretical ability for Verizon's CDMA network to be able to handle voice and data. Of course, it takes time to implement such a feature into a network, but it has already been 10 years. We should assume that this is enough time for Verizon to implement it. They have not implemented for their most prized customers to date, the Droid owners.

Will this situation change when the iPhone is released for Verizon? There is no certainty of this in the blogs. Does Verizon's network have the ability to handle voice and data right now? There are clues that just recently, it has implemented this ability, though it has not activated it. We have this mention:
1st November 2010, Shenzhen – ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”), a leading global provider of telecommunications equipment and network solutions, today announced it has successfully completed the world's first CDMA2000 1X Advanced call based on CDMA2000 1X system. The call features a four-fold increase in voice capacity and follows the specifications of CDMA2000 1X Advanced technology published by Third Generation Partnership Project 2 (3GPP2).
The published specification of this protocol includes both voice and data. But according to an MSNBC report by Wilson Rothman, there are also hardware designs that have to be made to the phone device which may not be available by January of 2011, but later in the quarter. Rothman, quoting Brad Shewmake, a spokesman for the CDMA Development Group:
...an update to CDMA called "simultaneous voice and data optimization" will be available to phone makers in the middle of next year. It consists of a chipset that can receive both voice and data traffic at the same time. But when I asked if this meant calls and data would be in closer competition, he said no. "Performance should remain theoretically the same, except now you should receive both [calls and data] at the same time. Again, there are separate voice and data channels."

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This means that the iPhone, if it is released in January, will likely not have this new chipset and will not be able to handle voice and data at the same time. We will see. With the fact that the younger generations, do not put as much of an importance on voice calls and more emphasis on texting and apps, this feature may not matter. This is a possibility, but we think that it will matter, feeling the way we do, that there is no excuse why a network as vaunted as Verizon should not be able to do both of these things.

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