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Sunday, 28 February 2010

BBC and Ubiquisys stream multiple videos over a femtocell at MWC 2010



Impressive. I suppose they are four simultaneous PS dedicated calls as all other approaches (Like Mobile TV Broadcast technology and MBMS) would not be applicable for Femtocells (atleast for now).

Friday, 26 February 2010

Femtocells for LTE

Picture Source: Continuous Computing

Going back to my old posts here and here, I mentioned that one of the ideas being floated is that to roll out LTE technology initially in Femtocells as that will give the device manufacturers and the operators an idea and a feel about the technology. All the gremlins can be ironed out before mass market take up.

As you may have heard (or know) that in UK, Vodafone rolled out Femtocells which have now been branded as 'Sure Signal' and the device now costs less than half the initial price. The falling prices is because of the fall in the Bill Of Materials (BOM) as well as operator getting more confidence and subsidising the femto's a bit more. Of course this fall in prices means increase in uptake and that is what is being expected by the industry.

At the same time, some small players are getting more interested in the small cells for LTE. The following is from an article in The Register:

Meanwhile, the femto players are looking ahead to LTE, where there are many indications from operators that tiny cells will play a big part in the strategy. The devices will be used from day one by some carriers - to offload data from the macrocell or to provide indoor coverage in high frequencies like 2.6GHz. They could also add capacity to deployments in low frequencies like 700MHz and even be used as a starting point for greenfield providers, which could then add macro networks later, explained Simon Saunders, chair of the Femto Forum.

Continuous Computing has been eyeing the femto market for several years from its heartlands in protocol stacks, core networking and traffic shaping. At MWC, it worked with picoChip and Cavium Networks to show the first complete LTE femtocell reference design. Available immediately, this includes the LTE modem, RF and packet processors, protocol software, intelligent router functionality and a complete Evolved Packet Core (EPC) simulator.

"The demand for LTE femtocells is unquestionable. We are already seeing operators asking for small cell access points to start testing in the second half of this year. Femtocells represent the key to avoiding the difficulties surrounding the first 3G deployments where roll-outs cost too much, took too long and did not meet user expectations," said Mike Dagenais, CEO of Continuous.


Ps: Also read the post on Metro Femtocells here.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Codec's for LTE

Sometime back I mentioned about Orange launching AMR-WB codec which would result in 'hi-fi quality' voice (even though its being referred to as HD voice by some). Since then, there has been not much progress on this HD-voice issue.

CODEC stands for “COder-DECoder,” but is also known as an enCOder-DECoder and COmpression-DECompression system when used in video systems. Codec's are important as they compress the voice/video data/packets so less bandwidth is required for the data to be transmitted. At the same time it has to be borne in mind that the capacity to withstand errors decrease with higher compression ratio and as a result it may be necessary to change the codecs during the voice/video call. This calls for flexibility as in case of AMR (Adaptive Multi Rate) Codecs.

The following is from Martin Sauter's book "Beyond 3G – Bringing Networks, Terminals and the Web Together":

Voice codecs on higher layers have been designed to cope with packet loss to a certain extent since there is not usually time to wait for a repetition of the data. This is why data from circuit-switched connections is not repeated when it is not received correctly but simply ignored. For IP sessions, doing the same is difficult, since a single session usually carries both real-time services such as voice calls and best-effort services such as Web browsing simultaneously. In UMTS evolution networks, mechanisms such as ‘Secondary PDP contexts’ can be used to separate the real-time data traffic from background or signaling traffic into different streams on the air interface while keeping a single IP address on the mobile device.

UMTS uses the same codecs as GSM. On the air interface users are separated by spreading codes and the resulting data rate is 30–60 kbit/s depending on the spreading factor. Unlike GSM, where timeslots are used for voice calls, voice capacity in UMTS depends less on the raw data rate but more on the amount of transmit power required for each voice call. Users close to the base station require less transmission power in downlink compared with more distant users. To calculate the number of voice calls per UMTS base station, an assumption has to be made about the distribution of users in the area covered by a cell and their reception conditions. In practice, a UMTS base station can carry 60–80 voice calls per sector. A typical three-sector UMTS base station can thus carry around 240 voice calls. As in the GSM example, a UMTS cell also carries data traffic, which reduces the number of simultaneous voice calls.

The following is an extract from 3G Americas white paper, "3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced,":

Real-time flows (voice/video) based on rate adaptive codecs can dynamically switch between different codec rates. Codec rate adaptation allows an operator to trade off voice/video quality on one side and network capacity (e.g. in terms of the number of accepted VoIP calls), and/or radio coverage on the other side. Operators have requested a standardized solution to control the codec rate adaptation for VoIP over LTE, and a solution has been agreed upon and specified in the 3GPP Rel-9 specifications, which is provided in this paper.

CODEC RATE ADAPTATION BASED ON ECN

Given previous discussion in 3GPP (3GPP S4-070314) it was clear that dropping IP packets was not an acceptable means for the network to trigger a codec rate reduction. Instead an explicit feedback mechanism had to be agreed on by which the network (e.g. the eNodeB) could trigger a codec rate reduction. The mechanism agreed on for 3GPP Rel-9 is the IP-based Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) specified in an IETF RFC. ECN is a 2 bit field in the end-to-end IP header. It is used as a “congestion pre-warning scheme” by which the network can warn the end points of incipient congestion so that the sending endpoint can decrease its sending rate before the network is forced to drop packets or excessive delay of media occurs. Any ECN-based scheme requires two parts: network behavior and endpoint behavior. The first part had already been fully specified in an IETF RFC106 and merely had to be adopted into the corresponding specifications (3GPP TS 23.401 and 3GPP TS 36.300). The network behavior is completely service and codec agnostic. That is, it works for both IMS and non-IMS based services and for any voice/video codec with rate-adaptation capabilities. The main work in 3GPP focused on the second part: the endpoint behavior. For 3GPP Rel-9, the endpoint behavior has been specified for the Multimedia Telephony Service for IMS (MTSI - 3GPP TS 26.114). It is based on a generic (i.e. non-service specific) behavior for RTP/UDP based endpoints, which is being standardized in the IETF.

Furthermore, it was agreed that no explicit feedback was needed from the network to trigger a codec rate increase. Instead, the Rel-9 solution is based on probing from the endpoints – more precisely the Initial Codec Mode (ICM) scheme that had already been specified in 3GPP Rel-7 (3GPP S4-070314). After the SIP session has been established, the sending side always starts out with a low codec rate. After an initial measurement period and RTCP receiver reports indicating a “good channel,” the sending side will attempt to increase the codec rate. The same procedure is executed after a codec rate reduction.


Figure 6.8 depicts how codec rate reduction works in Rel-9:
  • Step 0. The SIP session is negotiated with the full set of codec rates and independent of network level congestion. The use of ECN has to be negotiated separately for each media stream (e.g. VoIP).
  • Steps 1 and 2. After ECN has been successfully negotiated for a media stream the sender must mark each IP packet as ECN-Capable Transport (ECT). Two different values, 10 and 01, have been defined in an IETF RFC106 to indicate ECT. However, for MTSI only 10 shall be used.
  • Step 3. To free up capacity and allow more VoIP calls and/or to improve VoIP coverage, the eNodeB sets the ECN field to Congestion Experienced (CE) in an IP packet that belongs to an IP flow marked as ECT. Note that the ECN-CE codepoint in an IP packet indicates congestion in the direction in which the IP packets are being sent.
  • Steps 4 and 5. In response to an ECN-CE the receiving MTSI client issues an RTCP message to trigger a codec rate reduction.
Note that ECN operates in both directions (uplink and downlink) entirely independent and without any interactions. It is very well possible to trigger codec rate adaptation in one direction without triggering it in the other direction.

ONGOING WORK IN 3GPP

A new work item called, Enabling Encoder Selection and Rate Adaptation for UTRAN and E-UTRAN, has been created for 3GPP Rel-10. Part of this work item is to extend the scope of the codec rate adaptation solution agreed in Rel-9 to also apply to HSPA and non-voice RTP-based media streams.

Further Reading:

Monday, 22 February 2010

Femtocells update from Mobile World Congress 2010


Among a host of announcements, the leading silicon supplier for this segment, picoChip, was working hard to maintain its headstart as Qualcomm and others gear up to enter the market. It announced no fewer than six new customers, many coming from the Taiwanese ecosystem that is so vital to the mass adoption and price competitiveness of any emerging consumer product.

The new customers are Alpha Networks, Argela, Askey, C&S Micro, Contela and Zyxel, all of which will use the UK firm's PC302 picoXcell system-on-chip for HSPA(+). This is designed to reduce cost and time to market for vendors, and now has over 20 adopters, including Vodafone's femto supplier Alcatel-Lucent, and AT&T's, Cisco/ip.access.

Meanwhile, the femto players are looking ahead to LTE, where there are many indications from operators that tiny cells will play a big part in the strategy. The devices will be used from day one by some carriers - to offload data from the macrocell or to provide indoor coverage in high frequencies like 2.6GHz. They could also add capacity to deployments in low frequencies like 700MHz and even be used as a starting point for greenfield providers, which could then add macro networks later, explained Simon Saunders, chair of the Femto Forum.

Continuous Computing has been eyeing the femto market for several years from its heartlands in protocol stacks, core networking and traffic shaping. At MWC, it worked with picoChip and Cavium Networks to show the first complete LTE femtocell reference design. Available immediately, this includes the LTE modem, RF and packet processors, protocol software, intelligent router functionality and a complete Evolved Packet Core (EPC) simulator.

"The demand for LTE femtocells is unquestionable. We are already seeing operators asking for small cell access points to start testing in the second half of this year. Femtocells represent the key to avoiding the difficulties surrounding the first 3G deployments where roll-outs cost too much, took too long and did not meet user expectations," said Mike Dagenais, CEO of Continuous.

The reference design used a picoChip modem, mezzanine RF card and PHY software; Cavium's Octeon Plus multicore processor; and Continuous' Trillium LTE Layer 2/3 protocols, eNodeB reference application and EPC emulator.



Call it network congestion, capacity crunch or data overload - the complaints aired at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week were all about cellphone network operators trying to find ways of profitably handling an explosion in mobile data traffic.

Management of the data traffic has become a priority for the telecoms industry as mobile internet usage is booming but data revenues for the phone companies grow slowly at best.

Research firm Informa forecasts a 50 per cent rise in mobile data traffic in 2010 on the back of the increasing popularity of devices such as the Apple iPhone and netbooks, but only a 13 percent rise in data revenues.

This has put added pressure on the phone companies to find ways of using fixed line networks including the internet to take some of the strain off the airwaves.

"Offloading is crucial for us," France Telecom -owned Orange's global head of mobile Olaf Swantee told Reuters ahead of the conference.

"In many countries where we have a fixed network we try to offload directly," he said.

The problem is that offloading data from wireless network to local hotspots still costs money, and operators are searching left and right for solutions that will not raise their overall capital spending, industry executives said.

"To address the smartphone challenge they are investing again," said Rajeev Suri, chief executive of joint venture equipment maker Nokia Siemens, who added that it was uncertain whether this spending was additional to or instead of other investment plans.

More certain was Bruce Brda, head of rival Motorola's networks business. "Carriers have been very consistent - they do not increase capex," he told Reuters.

Nevertheless Motorola saw better than expected demand late last year for equipment as some operators strengthened their existing networks to cope with surging data traffic, Brda said.

"In early 2010 I am seeing the same trend. The indication is there is incremental spending."

Equipment vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent were also demonstrating new technology LTE equipment in Barcelona, as a route toward handling the data rush.

Operators are expected to spend billions of euros converting their networks to the Long Term Evolution standard, which will enable fast mobile broadband access for services such as watching movies on mobile phones, although some critics say LTE would prove a stopgap solution if data traffic goes on growing.

"LTE will buy a carrier two to three years of relief, but then it runs out," Brda said.

And analysts say telecom operators' sales in mature markets are not growing fast enough to justify major investments, which may mean an increase in demand instead for other technologies such as Wi-Fi or femtocells.

Femtocells are localized phone network base stations sited in homes and offices where signal strength might otherwise be weak, taking users onto the phone company's network via their own broadband internet connections.

"The biggest problem is that everybody is expecting these huge amounts of data but nobody is willing to pay much extra for it," said Stephen Rayment, chief technology officer of Belair Networks, which provides Wi-Fi services.

"Operators started offering 'all you can eat' data and now that's coming back to bite them," he said.




Speaking at Mobile World Congress Professor Simon Saunders, chairman of the femtoforum - the official non-profit standards' body proclaimed "2010 is the breakthrough year for femtocell".

From a UK perspective he was able to confirm the backing of industry regular Ofcom while T-Mobile, Telefonica/O2, Vodafone and Orange have all signed up as members so far. Furthermore, deployment of femtocell solutions to compete with Sure Signal is now ready and in their hands.

"The technology is there and it is now a matter of timing for the operators," he told me. "I cannot give specific dates, but all UK operators should be looking at a 2010 roll-out."

So far 55 network operators are femtocell forum members around the world, and operator commitments have jumped 50 per in the last three months alone. On top of this 3GPP has formalised femtocell standards, and the body's next generation ('Release 9') will bring support for LTE and enhancements for UMTS. The WiMax Forum is also on board as is the FCC in the US while China and Japan have confirmed their support.

Alcatel-Lucent recently announced the availability of a “small cell” (femtocell) designed to address the needs of enterprise customers. And last month Vodafone renamed its femtocell device to Sure Signal, as well as dramatically reducing its cost from £160 down to £50.

Informa said that the Vodafone relaunch of its femtocell offering is “realising considerable success in the UK, spearheading the entrance of femtocell services in the European market.”

“Vodafone rebranded the femtocell service to make the proposition clearer to end users while differentiating from their competition by eliminating indoor coverage deadspots,” it added.

According to Informa there are currently 12 service commitments, including nine commercial launches and several ongoing trials, while completed trials are now progressing into deployment plans for several mobile operators. This contrasts with eight femtocell service commitments and six commercial launches in November 2009.

During the last three months it cited French mobile operator SFR, Portuguese operator OPTIMUS and Chinese operator China Unicom, all of which have commercially launched femtocell services. Meanwhile it says that both Japan’s KDDI and France’s free have also committed to the technology.

Pictures Source: Trusted Reviews

Thursday, 18 February 2010

LTE Conformance Testing Logs

I have added some LTE Conformance Testing Logs and Description on the 3G4G website at http://www.3g4g.co.uk/Lte/ConformanceTests/

Most of these initial tests have been submitted by Anite who has passed it using the LG dongle above.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Self Organizing Networks and Enhancements

I have blogged about SON earlier here and here. The following is an update from the 3G Americas Whitepaper on Mobile Broadband:

SON concepts are included in the LTE (E-UTRAN) standards starting from the first release of the technology (Rel-8) and expand in scope with subsequent releases. A key goal of 3GPP standardization is the support of SON features in multi-vendor network environments. 3GPP has defined a set of LTE SON use cases and associated SON functions. The standardized SON features effectively track the expected LTE network evolution stages as a function of time. With the first commercial networks expected to launch in 2010, the initial focus of Rel-8 has been functionality associated with initial equipment installation and integration.

The scope of the first release of SON (Rel-8) includes the following 3GPP functions, covering different aspects of the eNodeB self-configuration use case:
• Automatic Inventory
• Automatic Software Download
• Automatic Neighbor Relations
• Automatic PCI Assignment

The next release of SON, as standardized in Rel-9, will provide SON functionality addressing more maturing networks. It includes the following additional use cases:
• Coverage & Capacity Optimization
• Mobility optimization
• RACH optimization
• Load balancing optimization

Other SON-related aspects that are being discussed in the framework of Rel-9 include improvement on the telecom management system to increase energy savings, a new OAM interface to control home eNodeBs, UE reporting functionality to minimize the amount of drive tests, studies on self testing and self-healing functions and minimization of drive testing. It should be clarified that SON-related functionality will continue to expand through the subsequent releases of the LTE standard.

The SON specifications have been built over the existing 3GPP network management architecture, reusing much functionality that existed prior to Rel-8. These management interfaces are being defined in a generic manner to leave room for innovation on different vendor implementations. More information on the SON capabilities in 3GPP can be found in 3G Americas’ December 2009 white paper, The Benefits of SON in LTE.

SON technologies have been introduced in Rel-8/Rel-9 to help decrease the CAPEX and OPEX of the system. LTE-Advanced further enhances the SON with the following features:
  • Coverage and Capacity Optimization. Coverage and Capacity Optimization techniques are currently under study in 3GPP and will provide continuous coverage and optimal capacity of the network. The performance of the network can be obtained via key measurement data and adjustments can then be made to improve the network performance. For instance, call drop rates will give an initial indication of the areas within the network that have insufficient coverage and traffic counters can be used to identify capacity problems. Based on these measurements, the network can optimize the performance by trading off capacity and coverage.
  • Mobility Robustness Optimization. Mobility Robustness Optimization aims at reducing the number of hand over related radio link failures by optimally setting the hand over parameters. A secondary objective is to avoid the ping-pong effect or prolonged connection to a non-optimal cell.
  • Mobility Load Balancing. Related to Mobility Robustness is Mobility Load Balancing, which aims to optimize the cell reselection and handover parameters to deal with unequal traffic loads. The goal of the study is to achieve this while minimizing the number of handovers and redirections needed to achieve the load balancing.
  • RACH Optimization. To improve the access to the system, RACH Optimization has been proposed to optimize the system parameters based upon monitoring the network conditions, such as RACH load and the uplink interference. The goal is to minimize the access delays for all the UEs in the system and the RACH load.

In addition to the enhanced SON technologies described above, minimization of manual drive testing functionality is also currently under examination in 3GPP to enhance and minimize the effort for optimization of the LTE-Advance network. The main goal is to automate the collection of UE measurement data. In so doing, it will minimize the need for operators to rely on manual drive tests to optimize the network. In general, a UE that is experiencing issues, such as lack of coverage, traffic that is unevenly distributed or low user throughput, will automatically feed back measurement data to the network which may be used by the network as a foundation for network optimization.

SON related 3GPP references can be found on Martin Sauter's blog here.

Monday, 15 February 2010

New Technologies for Mobile Phone Theft prevention

Design Out Crime: Mobile Phone solutions from Design Council on Vimeo.


Three prototype solutions for preventing mobile phone theft have been unveiled.

The i-migo, the 'tie' solution and TouchSafe have been developed to counter crimes such as mobile phone identity fraud, which rose by over 70 per cent in 2009.

TouchSafe uses Near Field Communications (NFC) technology similar to that used by the Oyster Card and requires the handset's owner to carry a small card with them that they touch on the phone every time they make a purchase.

The 'tie' solution makes an association between a handset and theSIM chip so that other SIMs cannot be used on the handset should the mobile phone be stolen.

And the i-migo is a small device carried by the mobile phone's owner that sounds an alert and locks the handset should it be taken outside of a set range. Additionally, it automates the back-up of any data stored on the device.

The prototypes were inspired by a Home Office initiative to develop new ways of preventing mobile phone theft and will be shown off atMobile World Congress in Barcelona next week.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said: "As new technology creates new opportunities for the user it can also provide criminals with opportunities as well.

"I believe the solutions developed by this challenge have the potential to be as successful as previous innovations like Chip and Pin, which reduced fraud on lost or stolen cards to an all-time low, and would encourage industry to continue working with us and take them up," Campbell continued.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

LTE World Summit promising to be a grand event


The LTE World Summit which is in its 6th year is promising to be a much bigger event with more than 150 speakers and 80 exhibitors. There is also the first LTE Awards program which is something to look forward to.

A quick glance at the program shows that there will be a very interesting mix of people including operators, handset vendors, chipset manufacturers, analysts and ofcourse bloggers like myself. There will be so many things to cover that three days probably may not be enough and it will take couple of weeks to go through all the information and digest it.

You can have a look at the old and the latest brochure at http://www.3g4g.co.uk/Temp/

Friday, 12 February 2010

A quick Introduction to M2M Communications

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications is a healthy sector that' s expanding rapidly and generating significant revenues for mobile network operators (MNOs). Devices outnumber subscribers by an order of magnitude, but the term doesn' t do justice to the concept and the market it represents.

The following is from 3G Americas report on 3GPP standards and their evolution to 4G:

By leveraging connectivity, Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication would enable machines to communicate directly with one another. In so doing, M2M communication has the potential to radically change the world around us and the way that we interact with machines.

In Rel-10, 3GPP is in the process of establishing requirements for 3GPP network system improvements that support Machine-Type Communications (MTC). The objective of this study is to identify 3GPP network enhancements required to support a large number of MTC devices in the network and to provide necessary network enablers for MTC communication service. Specifically, transport services for MTC as provided by the 3GPP system and the related optimizations are being considered as well as aspects needed to ensure that MTC devices and/or MTC servers and/or MTC applications do not cause network congestion or system overload. It is also important to enable network operators to offer MTC services at a low cost level, to match the expectations of mass market machine-type services and applications.

The 3GPP study on M2M communications has shown potential for M2M services beyond the current "premium M2M market segment." The example of applications for mass M2M services include machine type communications in smart power grid, smart metering, consumer products, health care, and so forth. The current mobile networks are optimally designed for Human-to-Human communications, but are less optimal for M2M applications.


A study item on M2M communications (3GPP TR 22.868) was completed in 2007; however, no subsequent normative specification has been published. For Rel-10 and beyond, 3GPP intends to take the results on network improvements from the study item forward into a specification phase and address the architectural impacts and security aspects to support MTC scenarios and applications. As such, 3GPP has defined a work item on Network Improvements for Machine-Type Communication (NIMTC). The following goals and objectives are described in the work item:

The goal of this work item is to:
• Provide network operators with lower operational costs when offering machine-type communication services
• Reduce the impact and effort of handling large machine-type communication groups
• Optimize network operations to minimize impact on device battery power usage
• Stimulate new machine-type communication applications by enabling operators to offer services tailored to machine-type communication requirements

The objectives of this work item include:
• Identify and specify general requirements for machine-type communications
• Identify service aspects where network improvements (compared to the current H2H oriented services) are needed to cater for the specific nature of machine-type communications
• Specify machine-type communication requirements for these service aspects where network improvements are needed for machine-type communication
• Address system architecture impacts to support machine-type communication scenarios and applications

A RAN study item to investigate the air interface enhancements for the benefit of M2M communication has also been recently approved. The study will be initiated in early 2010.

Further Reading:

M2M will become really big


It seems kind of odd to call a prediction that an industry segment will reach $18.9 billion an understatement, but in this case it may be so.


This week, Juniper Research pegged the mobile and embedded M2M industry at that amount worldwide by 2014. The press release says that consumer and commercial telematics – vehicle-bound M2M -- will represent more than a third of the total.

Nineteen billion dollars is a lot of money. But even that pot of gold pales in comparison to the promise of M2M. M2M covers smart grid, telematics and a mind-boggling number of other consumer and business services and applications. Indeed, the specter of M2M -- thousands of gadgets talking to millions of widgets -- is one of the reasons that Internet Protocol version 6 is being pushed so hard in some quarters.

Another example of the potential size of the market comes from Berg Insight. The firm says the European M2M module market will grow from 2.3 million last year to 22 million in 2014. Systems under surveillance – alarm systems and tracking devices watched from a monitoring center – will grow from 10 million to 34 million during the same period. The site goes into some detail on the composition of the market.



M2M provides a deeper look into smart meters, the element of the smart grid industry that has been around the longest. The story quotes ABI Research numbers that 76 million smart meters were deployed worldwide by the end of last year. That number will jump to 212 million by 2014. Lux Research, the story says, predicts that the value of the smart grid market overall will grow from $4.5 billion now to $15.8 billion in 2015. The advanced metering infrastructure and smart meters will represent more than $5 billion of that.

The only thing that is certain is that growth will be significant. The dangers of making precise predictions are evident in the recent findings: Juniper says that the mobile and embedded M2M market will reach $18.9 billion by 2014, while Lux says the smart grid market alone will finish 2015 only $3.1 billion short of that figure. One thing that these firms would agree on, however, is that this is a giant opportunity.

You can also read Juniper Research's paper, 'M2M ~ Rise of the Machines' here.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

UICC and USIM in 3GPP Release 8 and Release 9


In good old days of GSM, SIM was physical card with GSM "application" (GSM 11.11)

In the brave new world of 3G+, UICC is the physical card with basic logical functionality (based on 3GPP TS 31.101) and USIM is 3G application on a UICC (3GPP TS 31.102). The UICC can contain multiple applications like the SIM (for GSM), USIM and ISIM (for IMS). There is an interesting Telenor presentation on current and future of UICC which may be worth the read. See references below.

UICC was originally known as "UMTS IC card". The incorporation of the ETSI UMTS activities into the more global perspective of 3GPP required a change of this name. As a result this was changed to "Universal Integrated Circuit Card". Similarly USIM (UMTS Subscriber Identity Module) changed to Universal Subscriber Identity Module.

The following is from the 3G Americas Whitepaper on Mobile Broadband:

UICC (3GPP TS 31.101) remains the trusted operator anchor in the user domain for LTE/SAE, leading to evolved applications and security on the UICC. With the completion of Rel-8 features, the UICC now plays significant roles within the network.

Some of the Rel-8 achievements from standards (ETSI, 3GPP) are in the following areas:

USIM (TS 31.102)
With Rel-8, all USIM features have been updated to support LTE and new features to better support non-3GPP access systems, mobility management, and emergency situations have been adopted.

The USIM is mandatory for the authentication and secure access to EPC even for non-3GPP access systems. 3GPP has approved some important features in the USIM to enable efficient network selection mechanisms. With the addition of CDMA2000 and HRPD access technologies into the PLMN, the USIM PLMN lists now enable roaming selection among CDMA, UMTS, and LTE access systems.

Taking advantage of its high security, USIM now stores mobility management parameters for SAE/LTE. Critical information like location information or EPS security context is to be stored in USIM rather than the device.

USIM in LTE networks is not just a matter of digital security but also physical safety. The USIM now stores the ICE (In Case of Emergency) user information, which is now standardized. This feature allows first responders (police, firefighters, and emergency medical staff) to retrieve medical information such as blood type, allergies, and emergency contacts, even if the subscriber lies unconscious.

3GPP has also approved the storage of the eCall parameters in USIM. When activated, the eCall system establishes a voice connection with the emergency services and sends critical data including time, location, and vehicle identification, to speed up response times by emergency services. ECalls can be generated manually by vehicle occupants or automatically by in-vehicle sensors.

TOOLKIT FEATURES IMPROVEMENT (TS 31.111)
New toolkit features have been added in Rel-8 for the support of NFC, M2M, OMA-DS, DM and to enhance coverage information.

The contactless interface has now been completely integrated with the UICC to enable NFC use cases where UICC applications proactively trigger contactless interfaces.

Toolkit features have been updated for terminals with limited capabilities (e.g. datacard or M2M wireless modules). These features will be notably beneficial in the M2M market where terminals often lack a screen or a keyboard.

UICC applications will now be able to trigger OMA-DM and DS sessions to enable easier device support and data synchronization operations, as well as interact in DVB networks.

Toolkit features have been enriched to help operators in their network deployments, particularly with LTE. A toolkit event has been added to inform a UICC application of a network rejection, such as a registration attempt failure. This feature will provide important information to operators about network coverage. Additionally, a UICC proactive command now allows the reporting of the signal strength measurement from an LTE base station.

CONTACT MANAGER
Rel-8 defined a multimedia phone book (3GPP TS 31.220) for the USIM based on OMA-DS and its corresponding JavaCard API (3GPP TS 31.221).

REMOTE MANAGEMENT EVOLUTION (TS 31.115 AND TS 31.116)
With IP sessions becoming prominent, an additional capability to multiplex the remote application and file management over a single CAT_TP link in a BIP session has been completed. Remote sessions to update the UICC now benefit from additional flexibility and security with the latest addition of the AES algorithm rather than a simple DES algorithm.

CONFIDENTIAL APPLICATION MANAGEMENT IN UICC FOR THIRD PARTIES
The security model in the UICC has been improved to allow the hosting of confidential (e.g. third party) applications. This enhancement was necessary to support new business models arising in the marketplace, with third party MVNOs, M-Payment and Mobile TV applications. These new features notably enable UICC memory rental, remote secure management of this memory and its content by the third party vendor, and support new business models supported by the Trusted Service Manager concept.

SECURE CHANNEL BETWEEN THE UICC AND TERMINAL
A secure channel solution has been specified that enables a trusted and secure communication between the UICC and the terminal. The secure channel is also available between two applications residing respectively on the UICC and on the terminal. The secure channel is applicable to both ISO and USB interfaces.

RELEASE 9 ENHANCEMENTS: UICC: ENABLING M2M AND FEMTOCELLS
The role of femtocell USIM is increasing in provisioning information for Home eNodeB, the 3GPP name for femtocell. USIMs inside handsets provide a simple and automatic access to femtocells based on operator and user-controlled Closed Subscriber Group list.

Work is ongoing in 3GPP for the discovery of surrounding femtocells using toolkit commands. Contrarily to macro base stations deployed by network operators, a femtocell location is out of the control of the operator since a subscriber can purchase a Home eNodeB and plug it anywhere at any time. A solution based on USIM toolkit feature will allow the operator to identify the femtocells serving a given subscriber. Operators will be able to adapt their services based on the femtocells available.

The upcoming releases will develop and capitalize on the IP layer for UICC remote application management (RAM) over HTTP or HTTPS. The network can also send a push message to UICC to initiate a communication using TCP protocol.

Additional guidance is also expected from the future releases with regards to the M2M dedicated form factor for the UICC that is currently under discussion to accommodate environments with temperature or mechanical constraints surpassing those currently specified by the 3GPP standard.

Some work is also expected to complete the picture of a full IP UICC integrated in IP-enabled terminal with the migration of services over EEM/USB and the capability for the UICC to register on multicast based services (such as mobile TV).

Further Reading:

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Google real time speech translation mobile in couple of years

Live language translation on mobile phones could be just two years away, according to search giant Google. The company already offers text translation services and voice recognition, and Franz Och, head of translation services, says that work has already begun on combining the two.

The technology would work by translating phrases rather than individual words, and the company hopes that by looking at the huge amount of translated text already online, it can produce systems that are much more accurate than current versions. “If you look at the progress in machine translation and corresponding advances in voice recognition, there has been huge progress recently,” he said.

With over 6,000 languages spoken around the world, however, and only 52 currently on offer through Google’s existing translations services, the service is some way from meaning that language teaching in schools becomes redundant. “Clearly, for it to work smoothly, you need a combination of high-accuracy machine translation and high-accuracy voice recognition, and that's what we're working on,” said Mr Och.

So far, that is not yet possible, and language experts suggested that seamless technology is currently a distant prospect. David Crystal, honorary professor of linguistics at Bangor University, said the problems of dealing with speed of speech and range of accents could prove insurmountable.

'No system at the moment can handle that properly,' he added.


Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP) transmission and reception

The industry’s first live field tests of Coordinated Multipoint Transmission (CoMP), a new technology based on network MIMO, were conducted in Berlin in October 2009. CoMP will increase data transmission rates and help ensure consistent service quality and throughput on LTE wireless broadband networks as well as on 3G networks. By coordinating and combining signals from multiple antennas, CoMP, will make it possible for mobile users to enjoy consistent performance and quality when they access and share videos, photos and other high-bandwidth services whether they are close to the center of an LTE cell or at its outer edges.

The following is from the 3G Americas report on CoMP:

Coordinated Multi-Point transmission/reception (CoMP) is considered by 3GPP as a tool to improve coverage, cell-edge throughput, and/or system efficiency.

The main idea of CoMP is as follows: when a UE is in the cell-edge region, it may be able to receive signals from multiple cell sites and the UE’s transmission may be received at multiple cell sites regardless of the system load. Given that, if the signaling transmitted from the multiple cell sites is coordinated, the DL performance can be increased significantly. This coordination can be simple as in the techniques that focus on interference avoidance or more complex as in the case where the same data is transmitted from multiple cell sites. For the UL, since the signal can be received by multiple cell sites, if the scheduling is coordinated from the different cell sites, the system can take advantage of this multiple reception to significantly improve the link performance. In the following sections, the CoMP architecture and the different CoMP schemes will be discussed.

CoMP communications can occur with intra-site or inter-site CoMP as shown in Figure 7.7.


With intra-site CoMP, the coordination is within a cell site. The characteristics of each type of CoMP architecture are summarized in Table 7.1.



An advantage of intra-site CoMP is that significant amount of exchange of information is possible since this communication is within a site and does not involve the backhaul (connection between base stations). Inter-site CoMP involves the coordination of multiple sites for CoMP transmission. Consequently, the exchange of information will involve backhaul transport. This type of CoMP may put additional burden and requirement upon the backhaul design.



An interesting CoMP architecture is the one associated with a distributed eNB depicted in Figure 7.8. In this particular illustration, the Radio Remote Units (RRU) of an eNB are located at different locations in space. With this architecture, although the CoMP coordination is within a single eNB, the CoMP transmission can behave like inter-site CoMP instead.

DL COMP

In terms of downlink CoMP, two different approaches are under consideration: Coordinated scheduling, or Coordinated Beamforming (CBF), and Joint Processing/Joint Transmission (JP/JT). In the first category, the transmission to a single UE is transmitted from the serving cell, exactly as in the case of non-CoMP transmission. However, the scheduling, including any Beamforming functionality, is dynamically coordinated between the cells in order to control and/or reduce the interference between different transmissions. In principle, the best serving set of users will be selected so that the transmitter beams are constructed to reduce the interference to other neighboring users, while increasing the served user’s signal strength.

For JP/JT, the transmission to a single UE is simultaneously transmitted from multiple transmission points, across cell sites. The multi-point transmissions will be coordinated as a single transmitter with antennas that are geographically separated. This scheme has the potential for higher performance, compared to coordination only in the scheduling, but comes at the expense of more stringent requirement on backhaul communication.

Depending on the geographical separation of the antennas, the coordinated multi-point processing method (e.g. coherent or non-coherent), and the coordinated zone definition (e.g. cell-centric or user-centric), network MIMO and collaborative MIMO have been proposed for the evolution of LTE. Depending on whether the same data to a UE is shared at different cell sites, collaborative MIMO includes single-cell antenna processing with multi-cell coordination, or multi-cell antenna processing. The first technique can be implemented via precoding with interference nulling by exploiting the additional degrees of spatial freedom at a cell site. The latter technique includes collaborative precoding and CL macro diversity. In collaborative precoding, each cell site performs multi-user precoding towards multiple UEs, and each UE receives multiple streams from multiple cell sites. In CL macro diversity, each cell site performs precoding independently and multiple cell sites jointly serve the same UE.

UL COMP

Uplink coordinated multi-point reception implies reception of the transmitted signal at multiple geographically separated points. Scheduling decisions can be coordinated among cells to control interference. It is important to understand that in different instances, the cooperating units can be separate eNBs’ remote radio units, relays, etc. Moreover, since UL CoMP mainly impacts the scheduler and receiver, it is mainly an implementation issues. The evolution of LTE, consequently, will likely just define the signaling needed to facilitate multi-point reception.

INTER-CELL INTERFERENCE COORDINATION

Another simple CoMP transmission scheme which relies on resource management cooperation among eNBs for controlling inter-cell interference is an efficient way to improve the cell edge spectral efficiency. The Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (ICIC) enhancement currently being studied for LTE-Advanced can be classified into dynamic Interference Coordination (D-ICIC) and Static Interference Coordination (S-ICIC). In D-ICIC, the utilization of frequency resource, spatial resource (beam pattern) or power resource is exchanged dynamically among eNBs. This scheme is flexible and adaptive to implement the resource balancing in unequal load situations. For S-ICIC, both static and semi-static spatial resource coordination among eNBs are being considered.

More information coule be found in:

Monday, 8 February 2010

3G Americas Publishes New Report on Technology choices for Mobile Broadband

3G Americas, a wireless industry trade association representing the GSM family of technologies including LTE, announced that it has published its highly anticipated resource report on 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards and their evolution to IMT-Advanced, or 4G. The white paper, 3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced, provides in-depth examination of 3GPP technology standards from a technical, business and applications standpoint.

“The 3GPP technology standards deliver mobile connectivity to more than 4 billion users worldwide today and have been developed to continue evolving to higher levels of performance with mobile broadband innovation,” said Chris Pearson, president of 3G Americas. “GSM operators can choose to evolve their networks in ways that best suit their assets and business environments with benefits that offer flexibility, scalability and economic advantages, whether they choose HSPA+ or LTE.”



UMTS-HSPA is the world’s leading 3G technology and is the preferred choice for the majority of wireless operators and subscribers today and into the future. The global demand for wireless data services continues to drive the rapid growth of HSPA technology with 303 commercial HSPA networks and over 454 million UMTS-HSPA subscriptions reported at the end of 2009 by Informa Telecoms & Media. Informa has further projected that by year-end 2012, worldwide subscriptions to UMTS-HSPA will reach nearly 1.4 billion; by year-end 2013, global UMTS-HSPA subscriptions are expected to exceed 2 billion, rising to 2.8 billion by the end of 2014. GSM-UMTS-HSPA subscriptions provide the foundation for future evolutions to 3GPP Release 9, Release 10 and beyond with HSPA+, LTE and LTE-Advanced.

“Wireless data consumption is increasing faster now than ever before,” said Adrian Scrase, 3GPP Head of Mobile Competence Center. “Smartphone usage is experiencing higher volumes and the superior user experience offered by such devices is resulting in quickly rising demand and escalating use of wireless data applications. This is consequently driving the need for continued innovations that are supported by the efficient and successful 3GPP technology path.”


3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced, is a comprehensive resource intended to assist members of the wireless industry as well as interested members of the general public in understanding details of the work in 3GPP on Release 9 and Release 10. In addition, the report further describes the features of Release 8 that were closed in March 2009.

Release 9, which is targeted for completion by March 2010, will provide increased feature functionality and performance enhancements to both HSPA and LTE. The report reviews additional multi-carrier and MIMO options for HSPA and features and enhancements to support emergency services, location services and broadcast services for LTE. Other Release 9 enhancements include those to support Home NodeB/eNodeB (i.e. femtocells), Self-Organizing/Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) and the evolution of the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture.

LTE will serve to unify the fixed and mobile broadband worlds. As an all IP-based technology, LTE will allow expansion of the Internet experience on mobile devices and deliver multimedia content to the screen of choice. The vast majority of leading operators, device and infrastructure manufacturers support LTE as the mobile broadband technology of the future and, according to Informa Telecoms & Media, 130 global operators have announced trials or intentions to evolve their networks to LTE. Two commercial networks have already been launched in Norway and Sweden by TeliaSonera in 2009 and as many as 20 will be launched in 2010.

“All roads lead to LTE – for GSM, CDMA, newly licensed and potentially even WiMAX mobile operators,” Pearson added. “The appeal of the 3GPP technology roadmap is no longer suited for only GSM operators.”

While work for Release 9 is nearing completion, significant progress has already been made in 3GPP on work for Release 10, which includes LTE-Advanced. In fact, 3GPP already submitted a proposal in October 2009 based on LTE-Advanced for the IMT-Advanced evaluation and certification process led by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The ITU has defined requirements that will officially define and certify technologies as IMT-Advanced, or 4G, and is expected to evaluate submitted proposals by standards organizations for potential certification in the 2010 timeframe; certified 4G/IMT-Advanced technology specifications are projected to be published by early 2011.

As part of Release 10, some of the key LTE-Advanced technology enhancements include carrier aggregation, multi-antenna enhancements and relays. Assuming LTE-Advanced is certified to be IMT-Advanced compliant, 3GPP targets completion of the Release 10 specification by year-end 2010.

“The white paper by 3G Americas provides an excellent overview of the work by 3GPP in determining the standards on the path to 4G,” Scrase said.

The popular white paper, 3GPP Mobile Broadband Innovation Path to 4G: Release 9, Release 10 and Beyond: HSPA+, SAE/LTE and LTE-Advanced, was written collaboratively by members of 3G Americas and is available for free download here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Bluetooth 3.0 to see the light of day soon

Picture Source: 3g.co.uk and simbasics.co.uk

Remember Bluetooth 3.0? Its been a while and the world has changed in the mean time.

Samsung S8500 will launch next-generation Bluetooth 3.0, a protocol that will establish transfer speeds up to eight times faster than 2.0… 24mbps!

Samsung have not been officially announced yet to carry the Bluetooth 3.0 on the S8500 but the device has been leaked to carry 3.0 Bluetooth connectivity that will dwarf previous 3mbps speeds.

The listing from the Bluetooth Special Interest Group it is slim, compact, will come in several colours, and also contains quad-band GSM/EDGE radios. Other details are scarce, and it’s likely that the spec may change considerably before we get our hands on the actual handset

Broadcom is also focusing on Bluetooth 3.0, which allows Bluetooth-centric designers to use the 802.11 physical layer to provide Wi-Fi-speed data transfers in a Bluetooth environment. Bluetooth 3.0 supports bulk synchronization of music libraries between PCs and music players or phones, supports wireless transfer of photos to printers, and sends video files from cameras or phones to computers or televisions. An alternative for Wi-Fi-centric designers, says Ochikubo, is Wi-Fi Direct, which enables Wi-Fi devices to connect and share data without joining a traditional home, office, or hot-spot network. Whatever approach Broadcom’s customers choose to take, he says, he sees Broadcom’s recently announced InConcert Maestro software platform as making the operation simple and transparent for the end user.

In addition to focusing on the higher speeds that Bluetooth 3.0’s Wi-Fi physical layer affords, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group is also focusing on low-power applications with its “Bluetooth low-energy,” or Bluetooth 4.0, specification. Bluetooth low energy will address markets such as health care, sports and fitness, security, and home entertainment.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Informa LTE Awards 2010 at the LTE World Summit

Last year I covered the Femto Forum Awards at the Femtocells World Summit and have in past also covered the LTE World Summit in quite details. This year I will again be attending the LTE World summit and will hopefully be able to cover the LTE Awards in detail.

The awards will be for following categories:
  • Best Network/Device Testing Product for LTE
  • Best Contribution to LTE Standards (Individual or Company)
  • Significant Progress for a Commercial Launch of LTE by an Operator
  • Significant Progress for a Commercial Launch of LTE by a Vendor
  • Best Enabling Product/Technology for LTE (components, subsystems etc)
  • Best Contribution to Research & Development for LTE
  • Best Green LTE Product or Initiative
  • Award for Individual Contribution to LTE Development

To enter, visit www.lteawards.com Choose the category/ies you would like to enter and put together the supporting materials – full details available on the website. Submit your entry/ies by 26th February 2010.

Brochure available here.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Best Selling Mobiles of 2009

Summary of 2009 results via Communities Dominate Brands:


ALL HANDSET MAKERS TOP 10

1 - Nokia . . . . . . . 432 Million 38 %
2 - Samsung . . . . 227 Million 20 %
3 - LG . . . . . . . . . . 117 Million 10 %
4 - SonyEricsson . . . 57 Million 5 %
5 - Motorola . . . . . . . 55 Million 5 %
6 - ZTE . . . . . . . . . . 50 Million 4.5%
7 - Kyocera . . . . . . . 45 Million 4 %
8 - RIM . . . . . . . . . 35 Million 3.5%
9 - Sharp . . . . . . . . 29 Million 2.6 %
10 - Apple . . . . . . . . 25 Million 2.2 %
Others . . . . . . . . . . 56 Million 5%
TOTAL . . . . . . . . 1,130 Million (1.13 Billion)




SMARTPHONES

1 - Nokia . . . . 68 Million 39%
2 - RIM . . . . . 35 Million 20%
3 - Apple . . . . 25 Milllion 15%
4 - HTC . . . . . 8 Million 5%
5 - Others . . . 35 Million 21%
Total . . . . . . 175 Million

SMARTPHONE OPERATING SYSTEMS

1 - Symbian . . . . . . . 45%
2 - RIM . . . . . . . . . . . 20%
3 - Apple . . . . . . . . . 15%
4 - Windows Mobile . . 6%
5 - Google Android . . . 4%
Others . . . . . . . . . . . 10%

More details here.