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Saturday, 23 May 2015

The path from 4.5G to 5G

In the WiFi Global Congress last week, I heard this interesting talk from an ex-colleague who now works with Huawei. While there were a few interesting things, the one I want to highlight is 4.5G. The readers of this blog will remember that I introduced 4.5G back in June last year and followed it with another post in October when everyone else started using that term and making it complicated.

According to this presentation, 3GPP is looking to create a new brand from Release-13 that will supersede LTE-Advanced (LTE-A). Some of you may remember that the vendor/operator community tried this in the past by introducing LTE-B, LTE-C, etc. for the upcoming releases but they were slapped down by 3GPP. Huawei is calling this Release-13 as 4.5G but it would be re-branded based on what 3GPP comes up with.


Another interesting point are the data rates achieved in the labs, probably more than others. 10.32Gbps in sub-6GHz in a 200MHz bandwidth and 115.20Gbps using a 9.6GHz bandwidth in above 6GHz spectrum. The complete presentation as follows:



Another Huawei presentation that merits inclusion is the one from the last Cambridge Wireless Small Cells SIG event back in February by Egon Schulz. The presentation is embedded below but I want to highlight the different waveforms that being being looked at for 5G. In fact if someone has a list of the waveforms, please feel free to add it in comments


The above tweet from a recent IEEE event in Bangalore is another example of showing the research challenges in 5G, including the waveforms. The ones that I can obviously see from above is: FBMC, UFMC, GFDM, NOMA, SCMA, OFDM-opt, f-OFDM.

The presentation as follows:




Saturday, 16 May 2015

Smart Homes of the Future and Technologies


Saw the above picture recently on Twitter. While its great to see how connected our future homes and even cities would be, it would be interesting to see what technologies are used for connecting these devices.

Cambridge Wireless had a smart homes event last month, there were some interesting presentations that I have detailed below.


The first of these technologies discussed is LoRa. As can be seen, its billed as ultimate long range (10 mile) and low power (10 year battery lifetime) technology. It uses spread-spectrum making it robust to channel noise. Here is the presentation:




The next technology is Zigbee 3.0. According to Zigbee Alliance:

The new standard unifies ZigBee standards found in tens of millions of devices delivering benefits to consumers today. The ZigBee 3.0 standard enables communication and interoperability among devices for home automation, connected lighting, energy efficiency and other markets so more diverse, fully interoperable solutions can be delivered by product developers and service providers. All device types, commands, and functionality defined in current ZigBee PRO-based standards are available to developers in the new standard.

ZigBee 3.0 defines the widest range of device types including home automation, lighting, energy management, smart appliance, security, sensors, and health care monitoring products. It supports both easy-to-use DIY installations as well as professionally installed systems. Based on IEEE 802.15.4, which operates at 2.4 GHz (a frequency available for use around the world), ZigBee 3.0 uses ZigBee PRO networking to enable reliable communication in the smallest, lowest-power devices. Current ZigBee Certified products based on ZigBee Home Automation and ZigBee Light Link are interoperable with ZigBee 3.0. A complete list of standards that have been merged to create ZigBee 3.0 can be seen on the website at www.ZigBee.org.

“The ZigBee Alliance has always believed that true interoperability comes from standardization at all levels of the network, especially the application level which most closely touches the user,” said Tobin J. M. Richardson, President and CEO of the ZigBee Alliance. “Lessons learned by Alliance members when taking products to market around the world have allowed us to unify our application standards into a single standard. ZigBee 3.0 will allow product developers to take advantage of ZigBee’s unique features such as mesh networking and Green Power to deliver highly reliable, secure, low-power, low-cost solutions to any market.”



Finally, we have Bluetooth Smart mesh.

CSRmesh enables Bluetooth® low energy devices not only to receive and act upon messages, but also to repeat those messages to surrounding devices thus extending the range of Bluetooth Smart and turning it into a mesh network for the Internet of Things.



While the CW event was not able to discuss all possible technologies (and believe me there are loads of them), there are other popular contenders. Cellular IoT (CIoT) is one if them. I have blogged about the LTE Cat-0 here and 5G here.

A new IEEE Wi-Fi standard 802.11ah using the 900MHz band has been in works and will solve the need of connectivity for a large number of things over long distances. A typical 802.11ah access point could associate more than 8,000 devices within a range of 1 km, making it ideal for areas with a high concentration of things. The Wi-Fi Alliance is committed to getting this standard ratified soon. With this, Wi-Fi has the potential to become a ubiquitous standard for IoT. See also this article by Frank Rayal on this topic.

Finally, there is SIGFOX. According to their website:

SIGFOX uses a UNB (Ultra Narrow Band) based radio technology to connect devices to its global network. The use of UNB is key to providing a scalable, high-capacity network, with very low energy consumption, while maintaining a simple and easy to rollout star-based cell infrastructure.

The network operates in the globally available ISM bands (license-free frequency bands) and co-exists in these frequencies with other radio technologies, but without any risk of collisions or capacity problems. SIGFOX currently uses the most popular European ISM band on 868MHz (as defined by ETSI and CEPT) as well as the 902MHz in the USA (as defined by the FCC), depending on specific regional regulations.

Communication on SIGFOX is secured in many ways, including anti-replay, message scrambling, sequencing, etc. The most important aspect of transmission security is however that only the device vendors understand the actual data exchanged between the device and the IT systems. SIGFOX only acts as a transport channel, pushing the data towards the customer's IT system.

An important advantage provided by the use of the narrow band technology is the flexibility it offers in terms of antenna design. On the network infrastructure end it allows the use of small and simple antennas, but more importantly, it allows devices to use inexpensive and easily customizable antennas.


Sigfox is also working on project Mustang, a three-year effort to build a hybrid satellite/terrestrial IoT (internet of things) network. According to Rethink Research:

The all-French group also contains aerospace firm Airbus, research institute CEA-Leti and engineering business Sysmeca. The idea is to use Sigfox as the terrestrial data link, with satellite backhaul and connections to planes and boats provided by a low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.
...
The satellite link could be added to either the end devices or the base station, so that if a device was unable to connect to the terrestrial Sigfox network, it could fall back to the satellite.

While the power requirements for this would be prohibitive for ultra-low power, battery-operated devices, for those with a wired power supply and critical availability requirements (such as smart meters, alarms, oil tankers and rigs) the redundancy would be an asset. These devices may transmit small amounts of data but when they do need to communicate, the signal must be assured.

The Sigfox base station could be fitted with a satellite uplink as a primary uplink as well as a redundancy measure in some scenarios where terrestrial network reach cannot be achieved. With a three-year lifecycle, Mustang’s participants are looking to create a seamless global network, and note that the planned dual-mode terrestrial/satellite terminal will enable switching between the two channels in response to resource availability.

The group says that the development of this terminal modem chipset is a priority, with later optimization of the communication protocols being the next step before an application demonstration using an airplane.

The project adds that the full potential of the IoT can only be achieved by offering affordable mobile communications at a global scale and reach. Key to this is adapting existing networks, according to the group, which explains why Sigfox has been chosen – given that the company stresses the affordability of its system.

Well, there are a lots of options available. We just have to wait and see which ones work in what scenarios.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

LTE-Broadcast making a push while Terrestrial broadcast still popular as ever



"TV isn't dying, it's having babies." This quote made my day. I have argued a few times in the past that terrestrial broadcasting will continue working and will be probably the most popular approach for a long time to come. The way things work with it may change. Multi-screen is one possible approach but you may have more interactions like 'red button functionality', etc.
Anyway, in Europe 800MHz spectrum has been cleared for use by Mobile Broadband technologies (LTE mainly). 700MHz is planned to be cleared as well by 2020, as per the suggestion in Lamy report. The other UHF band from 470MHz to 694MHz would be left as it is until 2030, with a review planned in 2025.

This has forced even big players like BBC to start looking at other mechanisms to deliver TV. While BBC3 was moved to online only, BBC is also exploring how to use LTE-Multicast to deliver content. It has been working to have its very popular iPlayer work with eMBMS.

Embedded below is a presentation from Cambridge Wireless CWTEC 2015 conference.




eMBMS is gaining popularity with its presence in lot more chipsets and even more trials. GSA report has shown that there are quite a few trials going on worldwide but the question remains about the business models. Most operators would not like to become content providers and compete with the incumbents in their markets. Having someone like BBC in the UK is helpful but not sure how many such options are available worldwide. Embedded below is the GSA presentation




There were some nice pictures from MWC as can be seen above. Ericsson has a video as well (below) on how the app works.



D-Link is also working on M2M modules that could be used in billboards to dynamically update the ads at very regular intervals. There is a video here that explains this further.

Finally here is a Video from Visteon/Verizon that explains how LTE-Multicast can be used to deliver software updates in the connected car:



Finally, here are couple of presentations that may interest you too:



Monday, 4 May 2015

New LTE UE Categories: 11, 12, 13 and 14 in 3GPP Rel-12

While checking 3GPP TS 36.306, I noticed some new LTE categories have been defined. We now have all the way up to category 14. I also noticed that Wikipedia page has up to Category 15, not sure how/where they got it from. 


The LG Space page has some more details for anyone interested in exploring further.

A Qualcomm demo from MWC for LTE Category 11, if interested.



Finally, other related posts:


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Mobile Telecoms Technology & Market Disruptions

Sometimes its good to take a step back and look at the new applications and services that are already happening or may be happening sometime soon. Some of these have a possibility to disrupt the existing industries and markets, giving rise to not only new players but a completely new order.

Embedded below is a presentation from Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis. While there are a few things that I look at differently, there are many interesting points that the industry should already be looking at.


A good example of disruption would be the SIM card evolution that Apple introduced in iPadAir2 and iPadMini3. While they had great expectations, it didnt work out exactly as they had hoped due to the operators not letting Apple use the feature they wanted. In fact John Legere, T-Mobile US CEO, took to twitter to explain the problem. See here.

Another example is the new MVNO model by Google (Fi) in the USA. The problem in USA compared to Europe is that the operators have monopoly in many areas (fixed and mobile) and they can also get away with charging far higher amounts.




In addition, the problem that the operators have is that they focus on areas where they don't have issues; crying wolf if required. An example is taking advantage of 'data tsunami' and using it to hoard spectrum, as be seen from the tweet below:

Anyway, here is the presentation. Let me know what you think.



Sunday, 19 April 2015

3GPP Release-13 work started in earnest


The 3GPP news from some months back listed the main RAN features that have been approved for Release-13 and the work has already started on them. The following are the main features (links contain .zip files):

  • LTE in unlicensed spectrum (aka Licensed-Assisted Access) - RP-150055
  • Carrier Aggregation enhancements - RP-142286
  • LTE enhancements for Machine-Type Communications (MTC) - RP-141865
  • Enhancements for D2D - RP-142311
  • Study Item Elevation Beamforming / Full-Dimension MIMO - RP-141831
  • Study Item Enhanced multi-user transmission techniques - RP-142315
  • Study Item Indoor positioning - RP-141102
  • Study Item Single-cell Point-to-Multipoint (SC-PTM) - RP-142205


Another 3GPP presentation from late last year showed the system features that were being planned for Rel-13 as shown above.

I have also posted a few items earlier relating to Release13, as follows:


Ericsson has this week published a whitepaper on release 13, with a vision for 'Networked Society':
The vision of the Networked Society, where everything that benefits from being connected will be connected, places new requirements on connectivity. LTE is a key component in meeting these demands, and LTE release 13 is the next step in the LTE evolution.
Their whitepaper embedded below:



It should be pointed out that 5G work does not start until Release-15 as can be seen from my tweet

xoxoxo Added Later (26/04/2015) xoxoxo
I came across this presentation from Keysight (Agilent) where Moray Rumney has provided information in much more detail.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

LTE-Hetnet (LTE-H) a.k.a. LTE Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA)


We have talked about the unlicensed LTE (LTE-U), re-branded as LTE-LAA many times on this blog and the 3G4G Small Cells blog. In fact some analysts have decided to call the current Rel-12 non-standardised Rel-12 version as LTE-U and the standardised version that would be available as part of Release-13 as LTE-LAA.

There is a lot of unease in the WiFi camp because LTE-LAA may hog the 5GHz spectrum that is available as license-exempt for use of Wi-Fi and other similar (future) technologies. Even though LAA may be more efficient as claimed by some vendors, it would reduce the usage for WiFi users in that particular spectrum.

As a result, some vendors have recently proposed LTE/WiFi Link Aggregation as a new feature in Release-13. Alcatel-Lucent, Ruckus Wireless and Qualcomm have all been promoting this. In fact Qualcomm has a pre-MWC teaser video on Youtube. The demo video is embedded as follows:



The Korean operator KT was also involved in demoing this in MWC along with Samsung and Qualcomm. They have termed this feature as LTE-Hetnet or LTE-H.

The Korean analyst firm Netmanias have more detailed technical info on this topic.

Link aggregation by LTE-H demonstrated at MWC 2015 (Source: Netmanias)

As can be seen the data is split/combined in PDCP layer. While this example above shows the practical implementation using C-RAN with Remote Radio Head (RRH) and BaseBand Unit (BBU) being used, the picture at the top shows LTE Anchor in eNodeB. There would be a need for an ideal backhaul to keep latency in the eNodeB to minimum when combining cellular and WiFi data.

Comparison of link level Carrier Aggregation technologies (Source: Netmanias)

The above table shows comparison between the 3 main techniques for increasing data rates through aggregation; CA, LTE-U/LAA and LTE-H/LWA. While CA has been part of 3GPP Release-10 and is available in more of less all new LTE devices, LTE-U and LTE-H is new and would need modifications in the network as well as in the devices. LTE-H would in the end provide similar benefits to LTE-U but is a safer option from devices and spectrum point of view and would be a more agreeable solution by everyone, including the WiFi community.

A final word; last year we wrote a whitepaper laying out our vision of what 4.5G is. I think we put it simply that in 4.5G, you can use WiFi and LTE at the same time. I think LTE-H fulfills that vision much better than other proposals.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Some interesting April Fools' Day 2015 Technology Jokes

Here is a quick roundup of some interesting tech #AprilFools day jokes from the web. Click on the links to learn more

Samsung Galaxy Blade Edge - Chef's edition

Galaxy BLADE edge: Chef’s Edition

Galaxy BLADE edge: Chef’s Edition


Selfie Shoes by Miz Mooz - Shoefie



com.google - You can try it in chrome browser, it was working


Smartbox by Inbox: the mailbox of tomorrow, today - by Google




HTC Re-Sok - the "world's first truly smart sock"






Bing's Palm Search technology




Introducing #MotoSelfieStick - By Motorola



Twitter’s Twelfie Stick



Domino’s Domi-No-Driver Service

Iltasanomat news on April 1st 2015 (source not available): Finnish Police is having their own air forces with 250 seagulls with TETRA radio and camera


And finally, these old style pranks still work :-)

If you like them, you will enjoy the last year ones too. Here.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Report on Spectrum Usage and Demand in the UK


Last week at work, we released a report titled "UK Spectrum Usage & Demand". The only time most people hear about spectrum is when there are some auctions going on. Often a small chunk of spectrum gets sold off for billion(s) of dollars/pounds and these surely make a headline. As I recently found out, 50% of spectrum in UK is shared and 25% is license exempt.

Anyway, this first edition of the report focuses on Public Mobile, Utilities, Business Radio and Space/Satellites. Space is becoming an important area of focus here as it is a significant contributor to the UK economy.

Anyway, the report is embedded below and is available to download from here:



Sunday, 15 March 2015

Air-Ground-Air communications in Mission Critical scenarios

In-flight communications have always fascinated me. While earlier the only possibility was to use Satellites, a hot topic for in the last few years has been Air-Ground-Air communications.

Some of you may remember that couple of years back Ericsson showed an example of using LTE in extreme conditions. The video below shows that LTE can work in these scenarios.



Now there are various acronyms being used for these type of communications but the one most commonly used is Direct-Air-to-Ground Communications (DA2GC), Air-to-Ground (A2G) and Ground-to-Air (G2A).


While for short distance communications, LTE or any cellular technology (see my post on Flying Small Cells) may be a good option, a complete solution including communication over sea would require satellite connectivity as well. As I have mentioned in a blog post before, 75Mbps connectivity would soon be possible with satellites.

For those interested in working of the Air-Ground-Air communications, would find the presentation below useful. A much detailed ECC CEPT report from last year is available here.



The next challenge is to explore whether LTE can be used for Mission Critical Air Ground Air communications. 3GPP TSG RAN recently conducted study on the feasibility and the conclusions are as follows:

There is a common understanding from companies interested in the topic that:

  1. Air-to-Ground communications can be provided using the LTE standards (rel-8 and beyond depending on the targeted scenarios).
  2. 3GPP UE RF requirements might need to be adapted
  3. It may be possible to enhance the performance of the communications with some standards changes, but these are in most cases expected to be non-fundamental optimizations
  4. Engineering and implementation adaptations are required depending on the deployment scenario. In particular, the ECC report [1] comments that from implementation point of view synchronization algorithms are to be modified compared to terrestrial mobile radio usage in order to cope with high Doppler frequency shift of the targeted scenario. In addition, some network management adaptations might be needed. From engineering perspective the Ground base station antenna adjustment has to be matched to cover indicated aircraft heights above ground up to 12 km by antenna up-tilt. It is also expected that the inter-site distances would be dominated by the altitudes to be supported [5].
  5. A2G technology using legacy LTE has been studied and successfully trialed covering different kinds of services: Surfing, downloading, e-mail transmission, use of Skype video, audio applications and Video conferencing. Related results can be found in several documents from ECC and from companies [1], [2], [3]. The trials in [1] and [2] assumed in general a dedicated spectrum, and the fact that the communications in the aircraft cabin are using WIFI or GSMOBA standards, while LTE is used for the Broadband Direct-Air-to-Ground connection between the Aircraft station and the Ground base station.
  6. It is understood that it is possible to operate A2G communications over spectrum that is shared with ground communications. However, due to interference it is expected that the ground communications would suffer from capacity losses depending on the deployment scenario. Therefore, it is recommended to operate A2G communication over a dedicated spectrum.
  7. It can be noted that ETSI studies concluded that Spectrum above 6 GHz is not appropriate for such applications [4].
  8. LTE already provides solutions to allow seamless mobility in between cells. Cells can be intended for terrestrial UEs and cells intended for A2G UEs which might operate in different frequencies.
  9. Cell range in LTE is limited by the maximum timing advance (around 100km). Larger ranges could be made possible by means of implementation adaptations.