[aprssig] APRN news from Dayton!

Gregg Wonderly gregg at wonderly.org
Tue May 24 11:36:18 EDT 2011

On 5/23/2011 10:22 PM, Stephen H. Smith wrote:
> And responding to the subsequent post in this thread:
> You better look again at your so-called "unlimited data plans". All the carriers
> are now doing away with unlimited plans. New iPad accounts on both ATT and
> Verizon are now capped (limited). Even previously, Verizon's so-called
> "unlimited plans" for smart phones and laptop "air cards" had undisclosed caps.
> Now the caps are explicit and surprisingly low.

The original iPhone plan included unlimited data, and that was grandfathered 
into upgrades from iPhone v1 to subsequent models, maintaining the $30/month 
cost.  If you want an iPhone with unlimited data, find a friends old iPhone v1, 
or buy one off ebay, and start your account with that phone, and then upgrade to 
the model iPhone you want to have, (16GB 3GS for $50.00 is still being offered).

> All the major cell carriers have been taken aback at the 50-100% annual growth
> in data use on their networks, and are now moving to sharply reduce monthly data
> consumption per subscriber. All this talk about listening to radio all day or
> watching TV and streamed Netflix movies on smart phones is going to come to a
> screeching halt in the next year or so as capped data plans start to bite

In the first 2 years of the iPhone, 40% of AT&Ts subscribers had iPhones and 
they were using more than 70% of the available cell network bandwidth.  Remember 
that AT&T was quoted as saying, people will not use the cell network to any 
large degree, they will almost always be on WIFI networks.  The cell unlimited 
data plans at that point (2008/2009) were around $90/month, so AT&T's $30/month 
for iPhone data suggests that they were thinking that 2/3s of the time users 
would be on WIFI.

In the end, RF is not limitless with the narrow bandwidths that we are putting 
into devices today.  Also, the more available bandwidth for single use, the fast 
a user's needs can be satisfied.  If you look at traffic on the road, 4 lanes of 
traffic at 100ft separation going 60 miles/hour can be funneled through 1 lane 
at 15mph if the separation is only 25ft.  It just seems like traffic should back 
up, but it will not if the averages are spot on.  The cell data network can work 
the same way.  You can have only 8 data paths active at a time on a 64 user 
cell, and that just multiples the average latency by 8 as long as there are only 
at most 8 data users.

In the old days of mechanical phone equipment, there were "line concentration" 
schemes that limited how many people could get dial tone, busy tone, ring tone, 
trunks to particular offices and other resources, based on "averages".

What the cell networks are finding is that their "concentration based on 
averages" is getting out of control, because as people change to smart devices, 
their network uses goes through the roof compared to what they used to use.

They are going to their places of work and showing co-workers their devices 
while on the cell network.  They are going out to eat and spending a lot more 
time setting at the table because they have part of their world with them, and 
can, for example look up prices and shopping locations before going to the 
store.  Some of the restaurants are providing WIFI.  Many are not.  In some 
cases, the carriers, such as AT&T, are putting up WIFI hot spots, and then 
providing "free use for iPhone users" because that greatly reduces the cellular 
network use.

Everything is changing very quickly toward support for smart devices, with 
readable screens and stable, performant software.  These smart devices can also 
make cell phone calls, but that is not a secondary feature.  Apple demonstrated 
this with the iPhone, and everyone said, wow, we should do that, instead of this 
small screened flip phones with worthless web browsers and that silly WAP stuff 
that only excels at shopping/form things.

I am a user of Apple stuff because I found that I wanted to spend more time 
using the devices and services available.  I write software for IOS because the 
marketplace and associated devices are working to fill lots of peoples needs.  I 
am a long time Java programmer, and tried for years to get the HAM community to 
do Java instead of "windows" all the time, so that Linux, Windows and Mac users 
could have access to the same software to keep from fragmenting the time people 
had to program stuff into "recreating this and that" for another OS.

Android uses Java based programming, and that's great.  But, the Android 
marketplace and the sheer number of devices create a very expensive proposition 
for selling software (which is my job).  Google is starting to clamp down on the 
issues that are driving developers away, and users and cell phone vendors and 
cell network providers are whining about this.  Apple, from the start has 
dictated what will happen and how (except for AT&Ts leash on tethering in the 
U.S. marketplace, which is just a giant can of worms).  This has allowed it to 
create a working marketplace that allows developers to be successful and for 
Apple to be able to support the marketplace with devices and functionality to 
tie it all together.

APRS on these smart devices is the future.  We can not possibly get to the same 
level of features and support and "programmable" extension on a HAM radio 
without them understanding where things are going, and getting out of the dark ages.

An Android based TH-D7A kind of radio that had the entire APRS implementation 
visible as an open-source distribution that the community could work on, fix 
bugs and do other such things, including allowing other radio companies to use 
the same APRS software, would be great.

But, guess what, this would never happen, because RADIO is not "value added", it 
is just "mechanical design" with "fixed cost".  The APRS features are what 
increase the "value" in the marketplace and allow a higher price.

Smart devices will be much more useful to us for data collection, routing and 
management, then a HAM radio can ever be.

Gregg Wonderly

More information about the aprssig mailing list