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Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Different flavours of Bluetooth: 4.0, 4.1, Low Energy, Smart, Smart Ready...

Once upon a time, Nokia proposed a standard called Wibree. That standard was good enough to be merged with Bluetooth SIG and then become part of Bluetooth Low Energy (Bluetooth LE or BLE) standards.


The Bluetooth Low Energy standards comes in two different flavours, 'Smart' and 'Smart Ready'
The Smart and Smart Ready were introduced in 2011 to explain which devices will be compatible to what. Here is a table which explains how interoperability would work.


One of the obvious use of Bluetooth Low Energy is in Beacons. Here is an excellent presentation on Bluetooth 4.0:



Bluetooth 4.1 brings new capabilities in Bluetooth for it to become a challenger for Internet of Things (IoT). Here is an extract from an article in Network Computing:

With 4.1, the Bluetooth SIG is aiming to become a major player in the much-hyped Internet of Things (IOT) market. While 4.0 steps on Wi-Fi’s turf for location-based interaction with client devices, Bluetooth 4.1 looks to leverage Bluetooth's broad name recognition, widespread acceptance, and new low-power capabilities to compete with technologies that also want in on the IOT. These include ZigBee and Near Field Communication, both which are arguably niche technologies that just aren't familiar to many people.

As IoT looms larger for environments of all sizes, Bluetooth 4.1 allows client devices to daisy-chain to each other and multiple devices simultaneously for larger networks that are more Zigbee-like. Perhaps the biggest change for those of us who have to guide our network environments into the future: Bluetooth’s latest version lays the groundwork for dedicated device channels and the use of IPv6 for smart sensors to bridge themselves out of the isolated PAN world and into the IOT. This represents a major and substantial change to the Bluetooth mission, and will absolutely impact the Zigbee market in some substantial way.

Other features with Bluetooth 4.1 make it generally better in its PAN role. Bluetooth has been improved to ensure that nearby LTE radios (frequently under the same device hood) are not interfered with. It has a longer allowable interval between service advertisements, for better battery life and less chatter in the busy 2. GHz band. One of the big gains with 4.1 is the Bulk Transfer feature. For example, the feature would allow my fitness gizmo to auto-transfer all the data it's recorded of my gym activities when I get within range of my cell phone to update the app that tracks my activities.

An FAQ from the Bluetooth SIG on 4.1 is embedded below:


Friday, 18 April 2014

International LTE Data and VoLTE Roaming - NTT Docomo


Quick recap of the Bearer Architecture: Remember the interface between S-GW and P-GW is known as S5/S8. S5 in case the S-GW and P-GW are part of the same network (non-roaming case) and S8 in case where P-GW belongs to another network than S-GW (roaming case). The S5/S8 interfaces are generally exactly the same. There is a possibility of different types of S5/S8 interfaces like GTP based and PMIP based but lets not discuss that here.

NTT Docomo published an excellent article in their magazine recently showing the different approaches to International Data roaming.


The different scenarios above are based on the guidelines provided in GSMA PRD IR.88. Each operator has to adopt one of the scenarios above, NTT Docomo has selected scenario 4. The Home PLMN (HPLMN) and the Visited PLMN (VPLMN) connect via IP eXchange (IPX).


As can be seen above, the MME in VPLMN communicates with HSS in HPLMN using Diameter Edge Agent (DEA).



Finally, it is well known that NTT Docomo is not launching VoLTE untill 2015. The above is their proposal on how they handle VoLTE while in Japan and when roaming.

The paper is an interesting read, embedded below:



Another article worth a read is the VoLTE roaming with RAVEL here.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

LTE-Broadcast of the operator, by the operator, for the operator!

Heard an insightful talk from EE in the CW event this week. While I agree with the intentions and approaches, I still think there may be too many assumptions in the eMBMS business model. I have made my intentions known all but too well in my earlier blog post here.

Some of the insights that I have gained in the last couple of months with regards to the way operators are planning to use the LTE broadcast is through the OTT Apps. Take for instance an OTT application like iPlayer or Hulu and some popular program is about to be broadcast, that program can be sent using LTE-B. Now some people may watch on the time (linear) and some may watch at a later time (non-linear or time-shifted). The App can be intelligent enough to buffer the program so there is no delay required when the user wants to watch it. This can open all sorts of issues like the user may have watched one episode on his device while the current one is being watched on his digital television. While the program is being buffered the battery and memory of the device is being consumed. How long should a program be stored on the device. There can be many other open issues.

Another question I had was how would the users be billed for these things. Would it be free since the data was received over LTE-B. Matt Stagg from EE said that the users would be billed normally as if they received it in case of streaming. He was more pragmatic though. He clearly said that in the initial phase everything would have to be free. This will ensure that any technical issues are ironed out and at the same time the users become familiar with how all this works.

Finally a point worth remembering, users prefer watching videos on their tablets. Most tablets are WiFi only which means the LTE-Broadcast wont work on it.

The presentation is embedded as follows:



Saturday, 5 April 2014

Some interesting April Fools' Day 2014 Technology Jokes

Its very interesting to see all the companies proposing very interesting concepts on the 1st of April. I was told that not everyone knows what April Fools day means so here is the link to Wikipedia.

Samsung Fly-Fi: Samsung has come up with some interesting ideas, the first being Wi-Fi for everyone powered by Pigeons. They have a website here with Video.

Power of Pigeons


Looks like since we have Pigeons everywhere, so they are always used in one way or the other. The best prank ever in my opinion was the PigeonRank by Google, back in 2002. I spent a few hours that day trying to figure out how they were actually doing it.

Smart Wear was always going to be the big thing. Quite a few smart wearables this year.

Bonobos has done a good job with with TechStyle. See video below:



Samsung has a glove called Samsung Fingers here. The best thing I liked was 'Talk to the Hand'

Samsung Fingers_Talk to the hand

HTC came up with similar concept called Gluuv



Toshiba's DiGiT is as interesting. See the video:


Virgin Mobile, Canada has come up with SmartKicks. See here.



Roku Watch is not too bad:


Virgin America even convinced Sir Richard Branson to appear in the April Fools ad along with Tony Faddell, the CEO of Nest. Funny Youtube video here.

Sony Power Food was just okay, video here.

Toshiba Spehere is a funny Gaming concept, see here.

Nokia reviewed its most popular phone 3310 with modern day features here. Coloured screen with 41Megapixel camera.

Google wants to Emojify the web here.

Google Japan has a magic hand here.

Selfiebot by Orbotix is a cool concept, here.

Twitter Helmet didnt make me laugh though. See here.

Is there some others that I missed? Please feel free to add it in the comments.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

MNO, MVNO, MVNA, MVNE - The different types of operators

It took me quite a while trying to understand the different types of operators and the differences between them. Here is a short summary. Please feel free to add more information or correct me where needed


Mobile Network Operator (MNO): The MNO is the most commonly visible mobile network operator. Examples would be the likes of Vodafone, Verizon, T-Mobile, Orange, Telefonica, etc. These MNO's are responsible for creating the mobile network. They have to purchase/lease the spectrum from the regulatory body of the country and then purchase/lease the network equipment from the vendors. They have to then get into an agreement with various handset suppliers, do various testing, etc. They are responsible for the day to day running of the network and would be blamed if there are problems or if the quality of experience is not as expected.

The MNO has to maintain its own Operation Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS). They are responsible for billing the direct customers and may also be responsible for indirectly billing the customers of MVNO's.


Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO): An MVNO relies on the infrastructure and most other things provided by the MNO. The MNO may have plenty of spare capacity that it may be willing to sell at a cheaper price or a different rate. They wouldn't want to do this themselves as this may dilute the brand. To solve this they may sell the messages, voice minutes and data at a much cheaper price in wholesale to an MVNO. Examples of popular MVNO's include Virgin Mobile, Lyca Mobile, Walmart mobile, Lebara Mobile, etc.

A full fledged MVNO will have its own OSS/BSS software and would be responsible for billing its own customers but a smaller MVNO may rely on the MNO to provide usage information for its customers that it can bill.


Mobile Virtual Network Aggregator (MVNA): Sometimes, it makes little or no sense to have many small MVNO's connected to the MNO. As a result, MNO may decide to only sell the discounted bundles to really big players. An MVNA can aggregate lots of small MVNO's and using the collective might, be able to connect to the operator as a single MVNO. MVNA's will typically not have direct subscribers but only other smaller MVNO's that connect to it. It would typically have to have an own OSS/BSS to be able to provide accurate billing information to the MVNO's.


Mobile Virtual Network Enabler (MVNE): An MNO may decide to outsource all functionality related to virtual networks to an MVNE. The MVNE may do similar functionality like an MVNA or it may even allow MVNA to connect to the MNO via itself. It may allow MVNO's to connect to MNO's through it and in special cases, it may even provide sell services directly to customers. The main reason for it being called an Enabler is because its enables smaller MVNO's to be created. It can provide services to such as billing, network element provisioning, administration, operations, support of OSS/BSS, etc. to MVNOs. An MVNE typically would not have any relationship with end-user customers, instead focussing on providing infrastructure and services to enable MVNO's to offer services and have a relationship with end-user brand, customer loyalty and marketing and leave the back-end enablement to MVNE's.

The MVNO's could be Full or Light MVNO's. The above picture shows different variants but in simple terms a Full MVNO has its own HLR while the Light(er) MVNO's use the HLR of the MNO where it enters the details of its own subscribers. A Full MVNO has considerably more power as it may decide to move to another MNO for service if its not happy with the service provided by an MNO. It would definitely also mean a lot more investment as opposed to the lighter models.

Finally, we may be in what is being termed as MVNO 3.0. As per this PwC article:

The first generation of MVNOs was spawned during an era of regulatory concerns and rapid growth in the wireless industry. They struggled to compete with the very network owners who were selling them capacity. The second generation, known in some circles as MVNO 2.0, sought to change the playing field by basing customer relationships on innovative devices such as the iPhone and the Jitterbug. Could we be witnessing the end of the era of the branded network operator? Here are four key changes currently underway that could make MVNO 3.0 a reality.
Finally, if you have enough time and patience, there is an interesting list of articles to read on this topic.

Additional reading:

Thursday, 27 March 2014

A quick case study on Smartwatches

My presentation from the Cambridge Wireless Connected devices SIG event "On Trend – High Fashion meets High Technology" held today, is embedded below. One of my favourite ads that highlights our fascination with the smart watches has been shown very well in a advert by Samsung mobile USA as follows:


I believe there is an opportunity and a market for the smart wear and smartwatches. There is a need for just the right kind of products to capitalise on the demand.



Sunday, 23 March 2014

Securing the backhaul with the help of LTE Security Gateway


An excellent presentation from the LTE World Summit last year, that is embedded below. The slide(s) that caught my attention was the overhead involved when using the different protocols. As can be seen in the picture above, the Ethernet MTU is 1500 bytes but after removing all the overheads, 1320 bytes are left for data. In case you were wondering, MTU stands for 'maximum transmission unit' and is the largest size packet or frame, specified in octets (8-bit bytes), that can be sent in a packet or frame based network such as the Internet.

Anyway, the presentation is embedded below:


Saturday, 15 March 2014

HSPA+ Carrier Aggregation



Came across Qualcomm's HSPA+ Carrier aggregation video (above) and whitepaper. Interesting to see that HSPA/HSPA+ is still growing. As per my earlier post, half of the connections in 2018 would be HSPA/HSPA+.

As can be seen in the picture above, there are quite a few features that may be of interest to the operators. Scalable UMTS is one such feature as I have put in the blog before.


You will notice that upto 4 bands can be aggregated. It would be interesting to see which operators have these bands available and if they would be willing to use HSPA+ CA with upto 4 bands. The presentation by Qualcomm is embedded below and is available to download from here.



Related posts:



Saturday, 8 March 2014

Mobile World Congress 2014 (#MWC14) Roundups

The worlds largest technology event came to a conclusion just over a week back so here is a summary of reports and roundups written by different people. Feel free to add yours in the comments:

The best way is to start with this Video of different gadgets by Orange (excuse their adverts)


Maravedis-Rethink has an excellent summary from Network point of view:

Now all the carriers have the same devices, and the all-you-can-eat offers are largely gone. This has shifted the competitive race to innovation in pricing and bundling; to services, even over-the-top ones; but most importantly to the one area which is still unique to MNOs, their licensed-spectrum networks. The race to implement more and more advanced features from the 3GPP menu is not just a carrier game of ‘mine’s bigger than yours’, but a truly necessary attempt, at least in the developed mobile markets, to differentiate themselves with the most advanced network capacity and capabilities.

In the network, new battle lines are being drawn, and the players are placing big bets on unproven technologies and new architectures. This is taking place on two levels – the well-understood but highly complex advances in RAN platforms, from the LTE-Advanced standards to small cells to Cloud-RAN; and the shift towards software-driven, if not yet fully software-defined networking, and towards virtualization.

Complete summary here.

Chetan Sharma has written a brilliant summary and covers all different topics:

All the progress that has been on the mobile economy has been on the back of trillions of dollars of investment over the last couple of decades. With declining margins, how long do operators continue to invest and at what pace? What’s the margin profile they are willing to live with? What’s the role of government in building out the infrastructure when high-speed mobile networks are concerned? Japan, Korea, Israel have all based their competitiveness on connected broadband world. Can others follow? The impact of Whatsapp launching voice services and Netflix/Comcast deal were hotly debated in the hallways. It is one thing to put out national broadband plans and it is entirely another reality to have an execution path to deliver on the plan. The broadband investment has much far reaching implications than most people and governments realize.

Complete article here.

Ian Poole from Radio Electronics has done a good job too with the summary and video:

There was a considerable amount of talk about connected cities, connected cars and the like. Many exhibitors at Mobile World Congress were showing their ideas and developments. There is a huge amount of work going on in these areas and this is reflected in the work and products being exhibited.
Said Mike Short, VP Telefonica: “Mobile World Congress is more of a data World Congress . . . . . . . there are many software companies, many special network companies, other companies providing billing and customer care and there are solutions for the whole digital economy”
Talking to a variety of people across Mobile World Congress, it was obvious there is a large amount of work going on.
In terms of the auto mobile industry there is a lot of interest and development. While it is not expected all of the work will come to fruition in the short term, such as mesh networked cars where the networking elements can be used for crash avoidance, etc, there are other areas for in car connectivity that will be implemented in the shorter term.
Qualcomm were even demonstrating an electric racing car that not only used wireless communications technology, but also utilised wireless charging. In this way they were incorporating two developing technologies.
In addition to this, technologies like Weightless – the white space data cellular system have moved forwards. The original aim was for the technology to be used in the television white space to provide low powered data communications particularly for remote sensors and actuators. For these applications, cellular technology is too heavy. Dealing with complex waveforms like OFDM requires considerable processing and this is not conducive to long battery life – some devices ae expected to operate for months or even years from the same battery.
Neul has been working to develop the ideas further. They are now looking at using unlicensed spectrum instead of the TV white space. They have found that in urban areas, little white space often exists. Unfortunately it is often in urban environments where population levels are highest and there will be the greatest need for low power data communications.
In another move announced at Mobile World Congress Orange announced that it is helping start up companies who are developing products for the IoT. Orange states that it wants to help them accelerate development and assist with marketing. This move is possibly a long term move, because it can only be approached with 4G, but with 5G anticipated to be more capable of meeting IoT requirements it should be able to enter the market more strongly when it arrives. It is anticipated that the main areas where IoT will start to grow initially are personal services, healthcare, the connected home and smart cities.
Complete report and the video here.

Finally, an excellent summary on Small Cells and related by ThinkSmallCell:

The official Small Cell conference track was pretty tame - Vodafone have deployed 300K Small Cells in total, KT (Korea Telecom) and Radisys spoke of 18K LTE deployed in mostly indoor metropolitan areas. Vodafone said they continue to drive vendors to deliver multi-technology small cell and backhaul products with high operational efficiency and look for added value to help the business case. By contrast, the Small Cell Forum booth hosted extensive and popular presentations and is perhaps outgrowing its booth format.
A key network equipment vendor theme was SDN (Software Defined Network) and NFV (Network Function Virtualisation). We can expect next year to see this evolving to orchestration - better methods of managing and manipulating these virtualised software components, but in the short term it means slightly less or cheaper hardware. Frankly, I was more impressed to see Huawei now supporting any of 2G, 3G or LTE (FDD&TDD) on the same physical macrocell radio hardware modules - true software definable radio. We are beginning to see that capability for Small Cells too, but it's not quite as mature yet.
Most of the Small Cell activity is around 3G indoor (Enterprise) and LTE outdoor (Urban), with 3G still important indoors (for voice) and LTE HetNets seen as the longer term solution for capacity. At least four DAS vendors announced lower cost, simpler products intended to address larger buildings and stadia - highlighting the growing demand for in-building cellular solutions. Many new LTE Small Cell vendors are appearing on the scene. Residential femtocells still have a place in the market especially where integrated into a broadband modem or set-top box, driven by a different business case than before. There were some signs that the radical approach of Free France, who are shipping many 10Ks of femtocells a month, may be emulated by others.

Complete report here.

Ronald Gruia from Frost&Sullivan has created a summary presentation on Slideshare that is embedded below:



Other Summaries worth reading:


There was also a Carrier Wi-Fi Summit going on in parallel to the main MWC. A summary of that is available on the WBA website here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.

SKTelecom2

Claus Hetting has also added an excellent summary of the Carrier Wi-Fi Summit on his blog here.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

LTE Radar - LTE proximity services

Last year, DT gave an interesting presentation on what they termed as 'LTE Radar'. Here is the video to explain the motivation:


The picture below summarises how this will work:


It is interesting to note that these problems are already being solved using Apps and other technologies. Once the 3GPP standard is finalised, it would be a challenge to get this to mass adoption. An example would be Bluetooth based Beacons that I blogged about earlier here. Nevertheless, it would be interesting to see how compelling the use cases would be once this is standardised. The complete DT presentation is embedded below: