On Tuesday, July 9, 2002, at 10:08 , Ken Chang wrote:
> as I said PHS never had a chance to compete with PDC - on the same
> playground. any government promise/betray is not relavent unless
> you don't think PHS can survive without protection.
You have missed the point ...
Quite the opposite is the case here. The Japanese government has never
provided any protection for PHS. Instead, the government has stepped in
to protect PDC against the threat from PHS. Without that government
protection of PDC, PDC would have been wiped out.
Therefore, it is PDC which would not have stood a chance to compete with
PHS, and not -as you keep insisting against the facts- the other way
> now they are playing in the different markets but an American
> gorilla has come to chase PHS out of the town. maybe PHS can
> move further and find another market so that "good technology"
> can survive?
> cellular phone is a much better system for the developing world
> where one base station can cover huge area for the low traffic.
> new sites can be added as traffic goes up, way more economical
> than PHS.
First, PHS is the most economical wireless telephony system available to
date. No matter how often you keep repeating your claims to the
contrary, they are simply not in line with reality.
Second, we have heard that argument over and over again for the last 30
years or so when the technologically advanced self assured white man
stepped in to help the poor third world to enjoy the glory of what the
white man calls civilisation. Unfortunately, this model has terribly
failed over and over again and it has made the poor even poorer still.
At the same time unconventional small scale lo-tech cost efficient
projects have made more difference than all the bazillions of
"development aid" together. (for the avoidance of doubt, I am one of
these white bastards myself, but I am at least willing to learn and
Why do you think that PHS is the dominating technology all over the
developing world in places where Western technology, such as AMPS, GSM,
CDMA was considered too costly and not economically feasible to be
deployed ? Odd isn't it ?!
> we have no differences that there are a lot of clever designs
> in PHS.
So far, so good, but ...
> what I mean is that the low level wisdom can't change
> the fate of the high level mistake. the system is wrong from
> the beginning - a public cordless phone system is not needed.
This is where we do have a huge difference.
It was no mistake for the Japanese to develop PHS and deploy it. The
mistake was to design PDC the way it is. When the Japanese realised that
they had locked themselves out of an incredibly interesting and rapidly
evolving export market that they wanted to take advantage of, they came
up with PHS because they still had trouble with "not invented here" and
would not simply adopt GSM or IS-41.
However, they did realise that there was room for improvements over
Western designs and they did also realise that there was still a market
for a cost efficient system.
Thus, PHS was modeled in many ways after GSM, going as far as the way
the standard and its promotion was organised (GSM MoU => PHS MoU etc
etc) but it was also taking realities into account that weren't
The Japanese where the first to ask the question ...
"Why should a cordless phone and a mobile phone be two different things?"
they understood that from a user point of view it should not matter what
the technology constraints are and consequently, they provided a
But also the Japanese realised that if mobile telephony was to become
ubiquitous, then it would have to be able to strike a balance between
- cost efficiency and simplicity requirements of the poorer countries
where a vast majority of the population would otherwise not be able to
afford mobile telephony at all for at least a generation or two.
Years later we even have a term for this and it is called the Digital
Divide - this shows how far ahead the Japanese were back in the early
nineties when they designed PHS, not only in technology terms but also
in terms of identifying markets and their development.
For all the other systems, we have simply cut out all those poor folks
and have satisfied ourselves that it is good enough if countries like
India and China and most of Africa etc etc will remain in the 0-1% of
penetration for the foreseeable future. We simply dismissed these
people's needs for telephony as not yet economically viable. And we keep
insisting that they should wait 10 or 20 or even 50 years before they
can benefit from technology that is most crucial to the overall economic
development of those countries. How convenient ! But not good enough for
the folks in those countries, who have been trying to catch up ever
since they were colonised by us. And now they are simply expected to
wait again and see the divide increase even further ? Doesn't work that
way anymore. The era of colonialism is over and we better make sure that
we have understood what this actually means.
- increasing demand and the fact that bandwidth is a limited resource
which is all the more important in densely populated areas, of which
Japan has plentiful. Efficient resource management was on the Japanese
designers' mind. Well done and thank you - Honto ni omedetou -
This is something that appears to have been almost completely absent
from any Western designers' mind for at least a century or two. We just
go out there and use all the resources we can get without wasting any
thought on whether or not there may be more efficient ways. If we want
something to become ubiquitous, we simply go out and flood the market so
there is an oversupply and by the time prices have come down as a result
of it -which was the intention- we think it doesn't matter if the whole
exercise is wasteful or not.
In Australia, they have a term for this: Future Eaters. A term the
Australian aboriginals coined to refer to the Westerners who settled
down under. They tell a story of their own history in ways that often
seems mythical to us, but if you are able to listen "between the lines",
you will discover that they think of themselves as having been Future
Eaters in the past, too. One thing is clear though: Future Eating is a
doomed life style that isn't going to deliver as well as it did when
there were only a few Future Eaters with technology too limited to have
a noticeable global impact. Things have changed, It is about time that
we start to think about resource efficient technologies and sustainable
Again, here we see that the Japanese at least from time to time are
ahead of us when it comes to resource efficient technologies.
You can see this in the handwriting of the PHS design
- no spectrum to be allocated to any particular operators
instead all PHS spectrum is shared amongst operators
- dynamic on demand channel assignment
using a scarce resource, bandwidth, only where needed and when needed
- no paired spectrum
making RF design a lot simpler and spectrum management a lot easier
- a second level of resource sharing: SDMA
resulting in higher capacity and lower power requirements
- one device for multiple applications: cordless, mobile, VHE, wireless
resulting in better use of production facilities and better service
level for end users
Therefore, Ken, this is not about a few fancy features, this is about a
vision that the Japanese had when they came up with PHS. A vision that
was further ahead and makes more sense than the vision of 3G mobile. And
they came to this vision not for obsession with fancy design, but
because they had done a proper analysis of what is needed in the 21st
century, not just for a particular group of people and countries, but
I couldn't think of any design that had an analysis carried out before
it so incredibly well done, looking not only at depth and width, but
also in time. PHS almost has a multi dimensional angle to it ...
- densely populated areas as well as remote ones otherwise considered
- convergence between various applications that are separated today
- serves volume but doesn't waste bandwidth
- delivers to rich and poor
This looks almost too good to be true and if this had been put in front
of me as a requirement for leading a design project, my first reaction
would have probably been to ask the client to go over it again and try
to sacrifice a few of their objectives, because instinctively I would
have thought you can't have all that in one design.
But, the Japanese have come up with a solution that can deliver all that
and I have to take my hat off and make a very deep bow before them for
having accomplished this as early as 1993/1994. Almost 10 years later
there is still nothing quite like it.
The only problem is that, PHS being one of those Disruptive
Technologies, the Japanese became a victim of their own ground breaking
accomplishment. Suddenly, there was something that posed a threat to
their well protected domestic cellular industry, while the original idea
was to create an export market. On the one hand, they could not hope for
PHS to become adopted elsewhere if they didn't provide a live real world
reference implementation at home, but on the other hand that reference
was threatening to kill their own cellular industry even before any
export market would emerge.
So, they had to scale down a bit (actually a lot) and throttle PHS so
that there was just enough of it to still serve as a reference, but not
as much as to threaten PDC.
And this is the only reason why you have experienced the various things
with PHS in Japan that you are now quite obviously confusing with PHS
not being a viable contender. I am telling you again, you are in error
in this judgement.
Still, PHS is one of the few lucky disruptive technologies. Most
disruptive technologies are not allowed to live at all - they are killed
or sunk and silenced.
> for data services, anyone can come out with a good interface
> instead of the current TDMA design for voice calls.
Sorry I can't make sense of this
> GPRS is
> also a good design but we certainly don't have the backward
> compatibility problem here. so why PHS (other than reuse)?
Ultimately it doesn't matter what data interface PHS uses, whether
PIAFS, EDGE (or derivative thereof), GRPS ... After all, it is not a
technology specifically for wireless data. Just like with any other
mobile telephony system, wireless data is just a value added service.
It's of no significance.
Received on Wed Jul 10 07:48:13 2002