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Category Archives: Demystifying Data

While usually we find a lot of dumbed down explanations terrible, we actually found that this recent article posted in the Connected Magazine by Rogers is actually a good way of trying to describe LTE (long term evolution) to the general public without needing to know a lot of the information that goes back behind wireless networks.

Here’s a quick summary of the main points (they’ve used a highway and cars reference to make things more understandable)

  • LTE is the next logical step for wireless technologies to take, it can theoretically reach download speeds of 150Mbps and upload speeds of 70Mbps depending on devices, geography and network availability
  • this means, streaming HD video with no lag or wait time, beautiful online gaming, and the best wireless experience possible
  • it will provide better call quality and data transfer speeds
  • over next 5 years North America is expected to tenfold increase in mobile network demand
  • currently NA push and pull 30 to 40 petabytes of data across networks EACH month, thats like 30-40 million gigabytes of current use changing to 300 million to 400 million gigabytes of use in five years!!! (LTE can handle that surge)

That’s the basics of it essentially. Here’s where the article shines, it’s highway annalogy.

  • Imagine the current network is a 5 lane highway, LTE will increase that highway to 20 lanes!
  • This new highway has specific lanes for data (streaming video, gaming), text messaging, and calls which means everything will be pushed to the “correct” lane making everything more organized and faster

This means in simple terms 4 things:

  1. LTE will handle more network congestion with ease (once this network has capped out)
  2. High priority information like voice calls will get priority with their own “lanes” meaning better quality of sound and speed (and more calls can be handled)
  3. More “lanes” mean more channels are open for data traffic so things like browsing, downloading and gaming can be performed much quicker and easier
  4. LTE packages all these different things more closely together (imagine 5 cars fitting side by side in ONE lane) without any chance of collisions (as it’s all handled electronically)

All in all this promises a greater wireless experience for the end user!

In addition to all this, we’ve talked to network developers about the matter and one huge benefit of LTE is the recievers are much SMALLER and more POWERFUL so instead of having hundreds of giant ugly mobile towers around our country, LTE towers can fit ONTOP of light posts making them barely visible!

With Bell and Rogers now fighting over who will launch LTE first, we’ll soon be able to see how this amazing new network will work! Rogers is currently poised to launch LTE in Ottawa this summer so stay tuned for more information soon!

Source: Connected

So lately there’s been a lot of buzz about $30 unlimited incoming plans on the Canadian shores. So far 4 companies have jumped on board (including 2 major ones) and we thought we’d just lay it out all for you to make it easier.

So we’ll start with the 2 more basic companies which were already offering similar plans.

Fido (Rogers baby) changed their $35 plan now to $30 which gives the following

  • 150 weekday minutes
  • Unlimited evenings/weekends from 7pm
  • Unlimited incoming texts
  • Unlimited outgoing texts
  • Unlimited outgoing international texts
  • Unlimited incoming calls

So not too bad of a plan for $30/month! Next up is Bells baby Virgin Mobile…

  • 150 weekday minutes
  • Unlimited evenings/weekends from 7pm
  • Unlimited incoming texts
  • Unlimited outgoing texts
  • Unlimited outgoing international texts

The next bad boy up is Telus who just recently brought out it’s $30 plan. Here are the details:

  • 150 weekday minutes
  • Unlimited evenings/weekends from 6pm
  • Unlimited incoming texts
  • Unlimited outgoing texts
  • Unlimited outgoing international texts
  • Unlimited incoming calls
  • FREE Voicemail

And for the last of the Unlimited $30 plans is Rogers who just announced this plan today to compete with Telus’s $30 unlimited plan. The details are as follows:

  • 150 weekday minutes
  • Unlimited evenings/weekends from 6pm
  • Unlimited incoming texts
  • Unlimited outgoing texts
  • Unlimited outgoing international texts
  • Unlimited incoming calls
  • Unlimited BBM with any Blackberry 8520

The only thing the Rogers plan is not offering is the free voicemail but as a twist, if you opt to go with a blackberry 8520, they are giving you free BBM which means this could be the perfect plan for those kids!!

Anyway you pick it’s a pretty good deal so choose wisely, and we’ll keep our ears open for when Ma Bell decides that they’ll follow suit as well!

 

Recently we’ve received quite a few inquiries about why Rogers is only announcing 4G/LTE coming soon while Bell and Telus are already touting the fact that they have 4G in place across the country.

The truth of the matter is Rogers, Bell and Telus all have the same capabilities for the time being. Recently the standards set by the International Telecoms Union were lowered setting the previous 4G benchmark of LTE to the same as “advanced 3G” which is technically any HSPA network with speeds greater than 3Mbps. Based on this interpretation, all Canadian carriers have 4G networks.

Rogers has taken the stance of not confusing the masses by renaming it’s current HSPA+ network to 4G like Bell and Telus have and have recently announced the development of their own LTE network which will be the true 4G experience.

The biggest problem in this whole issue is the use of the names 4G and LTE. Everyone believes 4G to be the next fastest wireless service when infact it is called LTE.

LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It was first described as the intermediate step between 3G and 4G (4G used to have the standards set at 1Gbit/s transfer rates) so LTE was anything faster than the current HSPA+ networks but could not reach that 1Gbit/s transfer speed.

Now since standards have been changed and the definitions have been redefined, anything with 3mbps speed and faster can now be called 4G meaning that LTE is still the next logical step ABOVE 4G since 4G is essentially the same as HSPA+.

But why do we need LTE? LTE promises speeds reaching up to the 1Gbit/s that were once required for 4G classification. The truth of the matter is LTE is still being developed. It is in no way a mature network that can be fully harnessed yet. There have been tests that show speeds reaching well over 100MB/s using LTE technology and that was stated at less that it’s optimal performance.

Imagine, a world where cell phones can harness LTE technology and receive data rates faster than at home connections? This is the MAIN goal with LTE. They hope to create this insanely fast network and learn to harness it all by having both Voice communications AND Data communications all over this one network (unlike how now it is split into 2 networks one allowing voice and the other allowing data).

So despite carriers claiming they have 4G networks and that they are currently at the head of the game, we have to look deeper into what the meanings behind them really are.

Whether LTE ever really lives up to the hype it’s getting we’ll have to wait and see, who knows, it may end up being umbrellaed under the name 5G, but either way, the future looks fast…

This is the first installment of a new Category we’ve added here at eTechTour.com. What we hope to achieve with these “Demystifying Data” sections is being able to shed some light on some of the Tech questions that a lot of people have. Things like what are the differences between two similar technologies, or what something really technical really means or what it should mean to them as a consumer.

To start us all out, I thought we’d have a quick segment showing the difference between a couple types of Memory Cards that are commonly used in camera’s. We all know SD, but what about those seemingly random things like XD, or CF or Sony’s MS. We hope you enjoy the insights and will follow along in the future! (If you have any requests, make sure to comment at the bottom or send in a request from our Tip Us page!)

Demystifying Data – Memory Card Edition

A good place to start in this series is with the most common of the memory clan. The good ole’ SD (Secure Digital) Card. SD Cards are widely used in digital cameras, camcorders, handheld computers, netbooks, PDA’s, cell phones, GPS’s, video games and even media players. SD cards have evolved numerous times since 1999 when they were first created by SanDisk, Matsushita and Toshiba. This evolution has led to different offspring of the original SD card, but in simple terms, all the variations of SD cards just mean more memory and faster writing speeds.

The original SD Cards could hold up to 2GB on a card and as with all different types of SD cards can vary in “Class”. A class is essentially a rating that tells how fast the card can transfer data in terms of speed like a CD-Rom would.

Following standard SD cards were SDHC which could hold up to 32GB of storage and caused quite a bit of confusion as SDHC cards are not compatible with most older technologies that only used standard SD. SDHC equipment is backwards compatible so they can use the older memory cards however.

Finally we now are at SDXC which can theoretically hold up to 2TB of data (currently the highest we’ve seen is a 64GB card) and these will be backwards compatible with the other SD cards.

Rating Write Speed
(Mbit/s)
SD Class
7.2
10× 12.0
13× 16.0 2
26× 32.0 4
32× 38.4 5
40× 48.0 6
66× 80.0 10

The next type of memory card we’re looking at is the XD (Extreme Digital) Card. This type of card is used mainly in digital cameras. They were developed by Olympus and Fujifilm in 2002. Currently XD cards are only available in 16MB to 2GB sticks.

These memory sticks come in a couple different Types which only provide different speeds when reading/writing to them (classified as Standard, M, H and M+)

The H was the fastest of these types but was discontinued due to higher costs for production to leave the future of XD with M+ (which is slightly slower than the H type)

Currently there are no more cameras that are made that ONLY support XD meaning it is still a relevant storage type, but no longer seeking real growth or competition.

Type Write speed
(MiB/s)
Read speed
(MiB/s)
Standard 1.3 5
3 5
M 2.5 4
H 4 5
M+ 3.75 6

CF (Compact Flash) are used in a variety of electronic devices and was first introduced in 1994 by SanDisk. CF was the memory card of choice when it first came out. Beating out other memory options like Miniature Card, Smart Media and PC Card Type I. But it found big competition when other Memory stick formats like SD and XD came into the picture as these are typically much smaller and have the same capacity as CF.

CF are still very relevant and used in many mainstream commercial products to date such as Sony’s HVR-MRC1K tapeless video recorder.

They are available in many different capacities ranging anywhere from 64MB to 100GB.

Generally CF are considered more durable and rugged than other memory sticks. Since they are larger, it’s also not possible to put them in very slim devices, but on the plus side they cannot be lost as easily.

The last memory stick that will compete today is the Sony Memory Stick. Sony introduced these in 1998 and it has now spun into a family of many types including the Memory Stick PRO (more storage and faster speeds), Memory Stick Duo (smaller form factor of the memory stick/pro), the Memory Stick Micro (M2) and lastly the Memory Stick PRO-HG which is made for use in High Definition still and video cameras.

Unlike the others, the Sony Memory Stick is mainly used for only Sony Products (cameras, laptops, PSP’s etc) and just recently Sony has started designing these products with both readers for Sony Memory Sticks and SD cards. Sony however is not quitting development of the Sony Memory Stick.

The original Memory Stick  could hold 4MB to 128MB and is no longer produced. The Memory Stick PRO has a theoretical capacity of 32GB but mostly can be found with 4GB. These new sticks introduced a new thing called High Speed mode which would allow much faster transfers of larger files.

The memory stick Duo and PRO Duo were created to fill Sony’s need for a smaller memory card for cameras and PSP’s. They inherit the same characteristics are their larger siblings but just on their own smaller scale.

The final Memory Stick the Micro (M2) was a joint effort with SanDisk in 2006 and comes in any format up to 16GB capacities. These were mainly used for Sony Ericsson phones that needed a much smaller memory card for the real estate.

So there we have it folks, I hope that helps clear some information up on the different types of memory cards and why we have them. The main card now is still the SD card and it shows no real sign of changing, but there are alternatives for those who want them. Just be careful next time you’re purchasing a camera or something similar because you may not want to have to go buy everything all over again!

Don’t forget to drop a comment and let us know if you have other questions about technology or other topics you’d like covered on Demystifying Data!