The thin mobile client: The story of HSDPA and how the device may fade away into the SIM ..

Like many of my blogs, this one comes out of extrapolating a conversation – in this case, two separate conversations – and I have extended ideas from these conversations. It is a bit of a gedankenexperiment

So .. Here we go .. Thoughts welcome ..

Inspite of many optimistic (non SMS) data projections year on year from around 2000 – Operators missed them all. They tried WAP, they tried MVNOs, they tried all sorts of bundles .. And notably although flatrate was a key driver to increased data .. Flat rate alone was not enough ..

Something else was needed ..

And suddenly .. in 2007 or thereabouts .. they started hitting data projections ., and what was the cause? Ironically, there were two (seemingly mutually contradictory developments) that have led to the uptake of Mobile data …

The first(which everyone is focussing on) is the Smartphone/ iPhone .. i.e. rich device(and by that I mean Nokia N95, iPhone, Android and others collectively) .. these developments have created a device which is valued by the customer –considering the buzz around the iPhone, and Nokia being rated as the best ‘Operator’ in a survey .. :)

However, there is a second(almost directly contradictory) story here ..

The biggest cause of uptake of Mobile data is HSDPA (mobile broadband) .. and like SMS – no expert/consultant/guru predicted this – with the possible exception of Dean Bubley in my view

The success of HSDPA has some unique characteristics

a) The ‘device’ is absent – and in fact – it fades away into the SIM to a ‘bare bones’ data service(no more than a SIM)

b) Because the device is absent .. the Operator brand is strongest – which suits the operators

c) We don’t have to worry about interoperabity, interconnectivity etc. It is a simple service that works .. and people are prepared to pay a premium for it

Admittedly, it is an access layer technology and not a service layer technology .. How do we extend this access layer technology to the services layer? Potentially .. by extending the only common element i.e. the SIM

This is not unexpected since both the device(and also the SIM) are at the edge of the network .. and ironically, one would say that if intelligence shifts to the edge of the network, then the intelligent SIM is a way to go if we want to extend one of the few mobile data successes beyond the access layer.

And ironically, the SIM is becoming intelligent through a technology called SCWS which I have been following for some time now

The SIM started off as a means to identify the subscriber to the network, but it could take on a much bigger role as an enabler of mobile services .. especially if the precedence of HSDPA is something to go by – and SIM being the only network element in that configuration(which also functions as the client element)

This is the opposite of the ‘smart client’ model .. and in computer science terms may be viewed as a thin client service .. analogous to the ideas from Citrix

So, what I am saying is .. the success of HSDPA could ironically lead to a set of thin client devices – powered by the SIM ..



  1. Mobile network is a huge network in present generation.Without sim there is no mobile and sim become a network consultant.We can solve lot of problem with this network consultant only with out any movement.