Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Renewed focus on TD-LTE

Last year I blogged about the 3G Americas report on TD-LTE and Motorola's gamble on TD-LTE.

The following is from daily wireless blog:

Industry momentum behind Time Division LTE continues to grow with news that a number of major operators and vendors are working with the 3GPP to allow the standard to be deployed in the USA, using the 2.6GHz spectrum band. Clearwire and its partners own the majority of that spectrum. Most of Clear’s 2.6 GHz spectrum goes unused.

Light Reading Mobile notes that China Mobile, Clearwire, Sprint Nextel, Motorola, Huawei, Nokia Siemens Networks, Alcatel-Lucent and Cisco Systems are asking for the 2.6GHz spectrum (2496MHz to 2690MHz) to be defined as a TDD band for LTE.

Outside the United States, part of the band (2570MHz to 2620MHz) is already specified for TDD. The new work will extend this compliance. The report adds that specifications for the US 2.6GHz band for TD-LTE is scheduled to be completed by March 2011.

LTE pioneers TeliaSonera, NTT DoCoMo and Verizon Wireless, will all use different frequency bands for their respective LTE networks, explains TechWorld. So for roaming in the U.S, Japan and Europe to work, modems will have to support 700MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz, with more bands to be used in the future. That will be a challenge for roaming, says Light Reading.

The following is from fierce broadband wireless:

The appeal of TD-LTE has widened well beyond China. The recent announcement of Qualcomm to bid for TDD spectrum in India to support a TD-LTE deployment confirms--although it was not required to validate--the emergence of TD-LTE as global technology, likely to command a substantial market share.

Why the sudden interest in TD-LTE?

There are four main factors driving a growth in support for TD-LTE:

  • The FDD LTE and TD-LTE versions of the 3GPP standard are very similar. As a result, devices can support both the FDD and TDD interfaces through a single chipset--i.e., without any additional cost. This is a hugely important new development: TD-LTE will benefit from the wide availability of FDD LTE devices that will be able to support TD-LTE as well. Unlike WiMAX, TD-LTE does not need to prove to have a substantial market share to convince vendors to develop devices. Vendors do not need to develop new devices, they simply need to add TD-LTE support to the existing ones.
  • There is a lot of TDD spectrum available, and in most cases it is cheaper and under-utilized. 3G licenses frequently have TDD allocations and upcoming 2.5 GHz auction in most cases contemplate TDD bands.
  • The increasing availability of base stations that can be cost-effectively upgraded will make it possible and relatively inexpensive for WiMAX operators to transition to TD‑LTE using the same spectrum allocation. The transition will still require substantial efforts and be justified only in some cases, but it will make it easier for WiMAX operators to have roaming deals and to have access to the same devices that LTE operators have.
  • Industry commitment to WiMAX 16m, the ITU-Advanced version of WiMAX and successor to the current WiMAX 16e, is still limited.

What's next?

In the near term very little will change. TD-LTE is still being developed and it will take time before it gets deployed beyond core markets like China and possibly a few others like China. In Europe, for instance, mobile operators will deploy LTE in the FDD spectrum and only when they will need additional capacity they are likely to move to TDD. Unlike FDD LTE, TD-LTE will move from initial deployments in developing countries, with a later introduction as a mature technology in developed countries--a quite interesting trend reversal.

WiMAX operators will also be barely affected by TD-LTE in the short term. WiMAX is years ahead in terms of technological maturity, devices and ecosystem. This gives them a strong advantage in comparison to TD-LTE operators: They know the technology already, they have a network, and they have customers. They also have the choice whether to switch to TD-LTE or not--and, more importantly, they have no pressure to do so before TD-LTE has reached the maturity they feel comfortable with or until the WiMAX 16m prospects become clearer.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Huawei's "Two Cloud" solution for Mobile Broadband

In case you are a regular and noticed my recycled image for this post then let me tell you that the post is about recycled ideas ;)

It is a well known fact that I have mentioned at various places in the blog as well that the higher the frequencies, the smaller the cell radius. Since we know that the common deployment frequencies for LTE would be around 2.6GHz then the signal penetration through walls may not be great.

As a result we will be forced to use Hierarchical cells that would allow load balancing and also higher speeds as the smaller cell sizes translate to fewer users and interference.

The following is from Huawei's website:

Based on our roadmap of early success in mobile and fixed broadband network construction, Huawei now responds to the mobile broadband dilemma facing global operators with the unique "Two Clouds" solution.

Employing optimal topologies for access networks providing DSL-level bandwidth for users across the board, the two clouds work together to deliver the most cost-effective means of enhancing user experiences.

  • A high speed cloud, consisting of Pico and AP BTSs, is typically deployed in densely-populated urban areas to deliver an average bandwidth of 2 Mb/s.
  • A continuous cloud of macro BTSs is applied for wide coverage delivering a bandwidth of 256 to 512 kb/s.

Huawei's "Two Clouds" model allows operators to profitably deploy mobile broadband networks while utilizing an intelligent site management framework to automatically adjust bandwidth and reducing construction, operation, and maintenance costs.

Incorporating this framework, flexible network mapping permits manageable, controllable mobile broadband networks, ensuring continuous network coverage in various scenarios, and provides users with inexpensive, quality broadband services. Very convincingly, Huawei's "Two Clouds" concept can reduce the cost per bit by as much as 70%.

One can guess that Self Organizing Networks would play important part in realising this in practice.

Story Source: Think Femtocell

Friday, 26 March 2010

E-UTRAN Mobility Drivers and Limitations

Many years back, when things used to be simple, I wrote a tutorial about Handovers in UMTS. It would be very difficult to write a similarly simple tutorial for LTE. Things are a bit complicated because there are many different conditions in which handovers can take place.

It was also easier to visualise the Intra-frequency and Inter-frequency handovers in UMTS and you can probably do the same to some extent in LTE but with things getting more complicated and carrier aggregation, classifying handovers in these categories may be difficult.

3GPP TS 36.300 has an informative Annex E which details the scenarios in which handovers and cell change can/will take place.

It is best to go and see Annex E in detail. Here is a bit of summary from there:

Intra-frequency mobility: intra-frequency mobility is the most fundamental, indispensable, and frequent scenario. With the frequency reuse being one in E-UTRAN, applying any driver other than the “best radio condition” to intra-frequency mobility control incur increased interference and hence degraded performance.

Inter-frequency mobility: as in UTRAN, an operator may have multiple carriers/bands for E-UTRAN working in parallel. The use of these frequency layers may be diverse. For example, some of these frequency layers may utilise the same eNB sites and antenna locations (i.e., co-located configuration), whereas some may be used to form a hierarchical cell structure (HCS), or even be used for private networks. Some frequency layers may provide MBMS services, while some may not. Moreover, E-UTRAN carriers/bands may be extended in the future to increase capacity.

Inter-RAT mobility: the aspects that need to be considered for inter-RAT are similar to those for inter-frequency. For mobility solutions to be complete with the inter-RAT drivers, relevant updates would be necessary on the legacy (UTRAN/GERAN) specifications. This will add to the limitations, which are evidently more effective in inter-RAT.

The drivers for mobility control are:

Best radio condition: The primary purpose of cell reselection, regardless of intra-frequency, inter-frequency, or inter-RAT, is to ensure that the UE camps on/connects to the best cell in terms of radio condition, e.g., path loss, received reference symbol power, or received reference symbol Es/I0. The UE should support measurements to suffice this aspect.

Camp load balancing: This is to distribute idle state UEs among the available bands/carriers/RATs, such that upon activation, the traffic loading of the bands/carriers/RATs would be balanced. At least the path loss difference between different bands should be compensated to avoid UEs concentrating to a certain frequency layer.

Traffic load balancing: This is to balance the loading of active state UEs, using redirection for example. In E-UTRAN, traffic load balancing is essential because of the shared channel nature. That is, the user throughput decreases as the number of active UEs in the cell increases, and the loading directly impacts on the user perception.

UE capability: As E-UTRAN bands/carriers may be extended in the future, UEs having different band capabilities may coexist within a network. It is also likely that roaming UEs have different band capabilities. Overlaying different RATs adds to this variety.

Hierarchical cell structures: As in UTRAN, hierarchical cell structures (HCS) may be utilised in E-UTRAN to cover for example, indoors and hot spots efficiently. It is possible that E-UTRAN is initially deployed only at hot spots, in which case this driver becomes essential for inter-RAT, not just for inter-frequency. Another use case would be to deploy a large umbrella cell to cover a vast area without having to deploy a number of regular cells, while providing capacity by the regular cells on another frequency.

Network sharing: At the edge of a shared portion of a network, it will be necessary to direct UEs belonging to different PLMNs to different target cells.

Private networks/home cells: Cells that are part of a sub-network should prioritise the camping on that sub-network. UEs that do not belong to private sub-networks should not attempt to camp or access them.

Subscription based mobility control: This mobility driver aims to limit the inter-RAT mobility for certain UEs, e.g., based on subscription or other operator policies.

Service based mobility control: An operator may have different policies in allocating frequencies to certain services. For example, the operator may concentrate VoIP UEs to a certain frequency layer or RAT (e.g., UTRAN or GERAN), if evaluations prove this effective. UEs requiring higher data rates may better be served on a frequency layer or RAT (e.g., E-UTRAN) having a larger bandwidth. The operator may also want to accommodate premium services on a certain frequency layer or RAT, that has better coverage or larger bandwidth.

MBMS: For Release-9, no new mobility procedures compared to Release-8 are included specifically for MBMS. In future releases the following should be considered. As MBMS services may be provided only in certain frequency layers, it may be beneficial/necessary to control inter-frequency/RAT mobility depending on whether the UE receives a particular MBMS service or not. For MBMS scenarios only, UE based service dependent cell reselection might be considered acceptable. This aspect also depends on the UE capability for simultaneous reception of MBMS and unicast.

While the issues mentioned above drive E-UTRAN towards “aggressive” mobility control, the limiting factors also have to be considered:

UE battery saving: The mobility solution should not consume excessive UE battery, e.g., due to measurements, measurement reporting, broadcast signalling reception, or TA update signalling.
Network signalling/processing load: The mobility solution should not cause excessive network signalling/processing load. This includes over-the-air signalling, S1/X2 signalling, and processing load at network nodes. Unnecessary handovers and cell reselections should be avoided, and PCH and broadcast signalling, as well as dedicated signallings, should be limited.

U-plane interruption and data loss: U-plane interruption and data loss caused by the mobility solution should be limited.

OAM complexity: The mobility solution should not demand excessive efforts in operating/maintaining a network. For example, when a new eNB is added or an existing eNB fails, the mobility solution should not incur excessive efforts to set up or modify the parameters.

More details available in Annex E of 3GPP TS 36.300

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Home Relays for LTE-Advanced

If you look at the Home eNodeB (Femtocell) architecture, the HeNB is connected to its gateway which in turn is connected to MME/S-GW. There is a considerable amount of technology investment in this approach. The HeNB consists of complete protocol stack, the HeNB-GW is an expensive piece of equipment and there is lots of other things including the management software, etc.

Now in LTE-A, there is a concept of Relays which we have talked about. The Relays do not contain the complete stack (generally just L1 and L2). If capacity is not an issue but coverage, then we may be able to use Home Relays.

The backhaul for Femtocell is Internet whereas for Relay its generally the same Radio resources within the cell. I guess the main thing for Relay is the requirement of reasonably good channel (Line of sight maybe). Home Relays can use the Internet connection but rather than connection terminating in some kind of gateway, it can terminate at the actual eNB.

There are already many advanced antenna techniques that can handle the transmission and reception without much interference and maybe the SON algorithms may need some additional improvements.

The main thing is that if this technology becomes reality then it may cost less than $50 per Home relay and would become really a commonplace.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Femtocells for Beginners

Good beginner level primer for Femtocells is available at Radio-Electronics website. It covers important topics like architecture, interference, security and health issues. Wort a read if you are a newbie to the Femto domain. Click here.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Speech for Mobile to become big industry

Its interesting that its not only Google that experimenting with Voice Recognition and Voice search but a whole lot of other players. Earlier I blogged about Real time Speech Translation and another one was the Voicemail search. Google's search App also allows to search using voice rather than by entering text.

SpeechTek Europe 2010 is a new conference that promises to make everyone aware of the new Speech Technologies and their application in Mobile and other domains.

Produced by the publishers of the industry’s best-read magazine, Speech Technology, SpeechTEK Europe is the sister of the highly successful New York annual event series and aims to capitalise on the wealth of speech innovators based here in Europe.

The conference has been developed by a Steering Committee which comprises some of the industry’s most respected thought leaders. Here they share their insights into the future for speech technologies, how they are developing, and where they will be used.

Loquendo’s Vice President of International Sales, Rosanna Duce, predicts that voice control will be a major growth area in the next five years:

One important emerging speech technology is undoubtedly the voice control of all kinds of devices, for example, PDAs, mobile phones, DVD players.” She comments, “These technologies are currently being expanded and upgraded to allow all functions to be accessed using voice, thus eliminating the need to use a keyboard. Consumer demand seems to suggest that the option to dictate text messages will be a major source of growth in this area, as will be the reading of incoming messages by a TTS application bundled with the phone/PDA.”

Nava Shaked, CEO of Business Technologies, agrees,

The combination of voice search engines, internet and mobile is a real opportunity for speech technology growth and influence. This includes the introduction of previously unseen applications for voice user interface and transcription. The combination of voice and video is also promising and will be inevitable in our interaction with multimedia.”

James Larson, the Conference Chair, supports these views,

Multimodal applications on mobile devices will enable customers to not only speak and listen, but to also read and type and use additional modes in interaction. These apps will be easy to learn, easy to use, and much more natural than current voice-only apps or GUI-only apps. They will always be available, and customers can use them wherever they are, not just at their desktop or in their car.” He concludes, “Multimodal applications on mobile devices will dramatically change how we interact with appliances - TV, radio, environmental control - with the internet, and with other people.”

The SpeechTEK Europe conference programme explores these trends and the implications for the industry as a whole. Real world applications and case studies are a particular feature of the event, so delegates can see for themselves how speech is working in a variety of different environments, how to select and implement the technology, and how to evaluate its performance.

The full SpeechTEK Europe programme is available at: along with registration information, details of registration savings, and free entry exhibition tickets.

Friday, 19 March 2010

IPv6 transition in cellular networks gaining momentum

IPv6 is good and we all know that. I has been talked for years but practically it hasnt found much success. Verizon made some noise last year but I am not sure of the conclusion.

Just to recap, IPv4 was introduced back in 1982 and IPv6 work started since 1995. IPV4 uses 32 bit (4 bytes) addresses while IPV6 uses 128 bit (16 bytes) addresses. Theoretically we would now have 2^96 times more addresses than in case of IPv4.

Most of network infrastructure manufacturers have their equipment ready for IPv6 as some of the handset manufacturers. The main driver being that someday soon IPv4 addresses would be exhausted (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority will run out of IPv4 addresses in September of 2011, based on current projections) and their equipment would be ready to provide IPv6 addresses without any problems.

Recently, IETF-3GPP Workshop on IPv6 in cellular networks was held in San Francisco, USA on 1 - 2 March, 2010. There are lots of interesting presentations available here for people who want to dig a bit deeper. The concluding report that summarises the presentations and discussions are available here. Here is a brief summary from one of the reports (with links at the end):

  • Scenarios for IPv6 migration were discussed based on 3GPP Technical Report 23.975
    • The discussion focused on validating the scenarios
  • General IPv6 transition and deployment guidelines were outlined based on input from IETF
  • Solutions for migration and v4-v6 co-existence were presented
    • Solutions included existing RFCs and working group items but also proposals in Internet Drafts
    • Gap analysis wrt transition scenarios was discussed

Conclusions on scenarios
  • Scenarios 1 and 3 based on dual-stack and IPv6-only deployments were generally recognized as valid
  • Scenario 2 was also recognized as valid, addressing two separate problems related to insufficient RFC1918 space and subscriber identification
  • Scenario 4 did not receive wide support from the workshop, largely because it was felt that it addressed a problem already solved by other scenarios
  • Variants of some of these scenarios were brought up during the discussions, conclusions were not reached on these
    • These may need further discussion

Conclusions on solutions
  • It was recognized that necessary support in the network and devices is already available to “switch on” IPv6 in 3GPP networks
    • Some networks reported running dual stack
    • Some networks reported running IPv6-only now
  • Solutions enhancing existing mechanisms for dual stack deployments and new solutions for IPv6-only deployments drew wide support
    • Gateway-initiated Dual Stack Lite
    • Stateful IPv4/IPv6 translation
Next steps: 3GPP
  • IETF and 3GPP are expected to focus further work based on the conclusions of the workshop
    • Note that the workshop itself does not have the mandate to make formal decisions
  • 3GPP is expected to identify possible normative specification impacts, if any, of the preferred solutions
  • A need was identified to provide more operational guidelines about IPv6 deployment to 3GPP operators
    • The best location for these guidelines is FFS (e.g. 3GPP TR 23.975, GSMA, etc)
Next steps: IETF
  • IETF and 3GPP are expected to focus further work based on the conclusions of the workshop
    • Note that the workshop itself does not have the mandate to make formal decisions
  • IETF is encouraged to continue working on stateless and stateful IPv4/IPv6 translation mechanisms
    • These mechanisms are being worked on in IETF BEHAVE group
  • IETF is also encouraged to consider new solutions that are not yet working group items
    • Gateway Initiated DS Lite
    • Per-interface NAT44 bindings addressing IPv4 address shortage
  • Note that the workshop has not set any timelines

Further reading:

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The size of Mobile Market (Amazing Pic)

Click on the photograph to view the larger version. I assume, its self explanatory.

Mobile Apps market to grow to '$17.5bn by 2012'

A study done for Getjar, the world's second biggest app store, said the market will grow to $17.5bn (£12bn) in the next two years.

The study claimed downloads would climb from 7bn last year to 50bn by 2012 - a 92% year-on-year increase.

It found there had been a gold rush with the number of app stores rising from four before 2008 to 48 today.

The study also suggests Apple's domination of the market could be challenged.

The report titled, 'Sizing up the Global Mobile Apps Market' by Chetan Sharma is available to download here.

Some more interesting stats from the report as follows:
  • The overall mobile apps downloads are expected to increase from over 7 billion in 2009 to almost 50 billion by 2012 growing at the rate of 92% CAGR
  • The revenue from mobile apps which includes both paid downloads and revenue from advertising and virtual goods is expected to increase from $4.1 billion in 2009 to $17.5 billion by 2012 at the rate of 62% CAGR.
  • The overall global subscriptions base is expected to exceed 5 billion by the end of 2010 with over 27% of them being data subscribers
  • Non-carrier appstores jumped from a mere 8 to 38 last year
  • In 2009, advertising contributed almost 12% to the overall apps revenue.
  • The price range of applications in various stores can vary from $0.99 to $999.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Ringtones to help you in your daily life..

I am sure you must have heard of Music being used to torture terrorists or hardened crminals. Now you can have complete different use of music or ringtones in this case.

“Well . . . I can definitely feel a bit of adrenalin,” says Yukari Sendo, savouring the mobile phone ringtone like a fine wine, “but it really doesn’t make me want to do any housework.”
She flicks through a menu of alternative tunes and settles on one that offers to improve her skin tone through the power of alpha-waves.

Ms Sendo and her friend Ayaka Wakabayashi are among an army of young Japanese drawn to the allure of “therapeutic ringtones” — a genre of melodies that promises to ease a range of day-to-day gripes, from chronic insomnia to a rotten hangover.

Japan is no stranger to bizarre phone fads but the popularity of the ringtones is perhaps surprising given the flimsiness of the science behind them.

Much of the tones’ credibility rests in the solid reputation of Matsumi Suzuki, the head of the Japan Ringing Tone Laboratory, an eight-year-old subsidiary of the Japan Acoustic Laboratory.

Mr Suzuki’s adventures in the realm of mood-altering ringtones follow a career at the National Research Institute of Police Science, where he made award-winning advances in the field of voiceprints. One of his proudest achievements was the development of a synthetic mosquito noise that is inaudible to Japan’s over-60s but supposedly discourages teenagers from “congregating in parks at midnight”.

A spokesman for Index, the giant Japanese mobile phone content provider that sells Mr Suzuki’s ringtones, explains that while there is a shortage of actual experimentation, “the number of downloads suggests the ringtones must be working to a certain extent”. Index’s other innovations include an iPhone application that translates your dog’s bark; the “Bowlingual” automatic canine interpreter draws on an database of woofs from dozens of species.
The first therapeutic tone, a high-energy rhythm, tested for The Times by Ms Sendo and Ms Wakabayashi, was supposed to provide a sudden burst of impetus to sluggardly housewives. Yukari and Ayaka had their doubts.

The tone that is said to improve skin mixes a burst of electro-Schubert with woodland noises such as birdsong and streams. “I suppose it might subconsciously make you think of washing your face, and that is good for the skin,” said Ayaka. “At least, it would certainly send you towards the bathroom.”

Ms Sendo and Ms Wakabayashi were marginally more impressed by the sleep-inducing and sleep-preventing tones, suspiciously akin to a lullaby and a dance track. The one with most practical use, they concluded, was the tone that scares away crows — the sinister jungle ravens that terrorise the dawn streets of Tokyo by pecking at bags of rubbish.

Mr Suzuki’s latest ringtone has been timed to coincide with the Japanese hay fever season. The Ohana Sukkiri Melody emits a series of sounds at different frequencies “so that people can choose the sound that resonates most to their sinus and causes pollen lodged there to fall from the nasal cavity”.

Index admitted that it had not conducted any research on how great a pollen deluge would be induced by the ringtone but said that it was “generally understood” that resonance would help hayfever sufferers if they brought the phone close to their noses.

When it came to testing the hangover chaser ringtone, Yukari and Ayaka were relieved from experimental duties. This popular application works through what Index describes as a careful selection of “pulse-melodies” chosen for their astonishing atunement to the body’s “medical rhythms”. Testers concluded that a fried breakfast, though less portable, still had the edge.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

How to avoid network choking in the future?

If you are looking for an answer to this question then you wont find an answer to that here. Probably no one really knows a complete answer to this question right now. A simple answer would be to have a mix of the Macro cells, Micro cells and Femtocells with some way to offload some more traffic via WiFi.

Earlier this month Skype announced that its client would be able to work on most Symbian phones. I have used the Skype client on phones from '3' and they work great. Skype is even available on iPhones and they were downloaded 1 million times in the first couple of days. Now a big chunk of operator profits come from long distance calls and calls when abroad. If we all start using our phones with Skype, its going to bite into the operators profits. That means they will have to recover this profit from us by another way.

Skype on phones will be used in always on mode, meaning that the networks will get loaded and get congested. A simple solution is to have Femtocells at home that can offload the traffic on Internet. These background apps do cause a considerable amount of traffic and recently an Operator blamed the apps for its network woes.

Femtocells have been targeted generally at the residential market with developments going on for Business users as well. Another smaller Picocells and Microcells are also easily and cheaply available nowadays. With the Ad-Hoc deployment of all these smaller cells, Self Organising Networks (SON) may have a big role to play.

What happens where there are multiple networks present in the same place via these smaller cells? Can the back-haul not get congested because of these multiple networks which may be lying Idle most of the time? How would these impact other services that we use on our PC's?

These questions can be easily answered if a single Microcell/Picocell/Femtocell was able to work for Multiple Networks. Practically this may not be possible right now because each network has a different Authentication and Security arrangement.

At least we can start thinking and working on these problems while we still have time. When its too late, we may have to come up with workarounds. These workarounds only cause more headache in the longer term.

Monday, 15 March 2010

Qualcomm's FLO on the go...

Qualcomm's FLO TV is a reality in the U. S. of A. This is the advert which was being shown in the Superbowl

Many popular channels like the CNN are available real time. The following is a review from CNET.

Not everyone is enthusiastic, which is understandable considering the high cost.

I remember reading a research couple of years back which said that users are willing to pay a maximum of £5 for any service like the Internet or Mobile TV over their phone. Personally I think that is right and maybe in the next few months we may see the subscription prices dropping.

I would be interested in hearing from people who have experienced the FLO service first hand.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Motorola (Concept) Phone that will help capture memories

A bit old new but new for me.

The idea, known as the Motorola 2033 Concept Series, was based around what mobile phones might look like in the year 2033.

The 2033 concept would allow for the device to capture memories directly from the user’s brain, through a process Motorola calls "organic memory capture". And if that wasn't enough, the 2033 concept would also allow users' to completely augment their eyesight through a process called Second Sight.

More concept phones here.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

HSPA+ to reach 168Mbps in Release-10

Just when we thought that we have squeezed every bit out of HSPA, a surprise waiting is the speeds of upto 168Mbps in the downlink. Going back to the 3G Americas report, there is a section in the end that details HSPA+ enhancements for Rel-10:

Rel-8 introduced dual-carrier HSDPA operation in the downlink while Rel-9 similarly introduced dual-carrier HSUPA operation in the uplink and also enhanced the dual-carrier HSDPA operation by combining it with MIMO.

Further enhanced multi-carrier HSDPA operation is being specified for Rel-10, where the base station will be able to schedule HSDPA transmissions over three or four carriers simultaneously to a single user with the carriers are spread over one or two frequency bands. Solutions specified in earlier releases can be reused to a large extent. The difference is that now it is possible to configure a UE with one primary serving cell and up to three secondary serving cells. As in earlier releases, the secondary serving cells can be activated and deactivated dynamically by the base station using so-called “HS-SCCH orders.” With MIMO transmission on all four carriers, the peak rate would be doubled to 168 Mbps compared to Rel-9 and for typical bursty traffic the average user throughput would also experience a substantial increase.

Remember, I posted a blog on data rates calculation? The maximum data rate in Release-8 HSDPA is 42Mbps. With Dual-carrier operation, this could be doubled to 84Mbps. As you can probably guess, with 4 carriers, this will become 168Mbps ;)

For people who are less technically inclined, can check this Ericsson presentation on HSPA+ data rates. For people who may become sleepless without some technical references can check this report from RAN WG#1 meeting#59. If you are not sure what RAN WG#1 is, check quick tutorial on 3GPP here.

Going back to the 3GPP report, section 5.4 lists the details of 4 carriers HSDPA. It would be interesting to see what happens in cases where initially there were 4 carriers but then in a particular spot it changed to 2 carriers, and vice-versa. People who have yet to work on LTE may not have to worry too much as HSPA is being future proofed against the threats of LTE and WiMAX.

Interestingly enough, HSPA+ offers a better and cleaner solution at the moment especially with regards to voice calls and handing over to GSM then LTE or WiMAX.

It wont come as a surprise if the HSPA+ camp are able to pull out some new tricks from their bag just in time for Release-11.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

3GPP and Broadband Forum Collaboration on Fixed Mobile Convergence Standards

Fixed/Mobile Convergence (FMC) was the key topic that brought 3GPP and the Broadband Forum together for their first joint workshop, held February 18-19 in San Francisco. The two-day workshop was attended by 120 industry experts, who reviewed over 40 contributions focused primarily on use cases and joint requirements.

The attendees, primarily 3GPP and Broadband Forum members, also included representatives from ETSI TISPAN, ATIS and other standards bodies. The diverse group came together with a shared goal; to start the process of aligning new FMC work in each organization to best address both fixed and wireless management requirements. The two days spent together allowed the group to identify the key issues at hand and the work that needs to be done. With words of appreciation and encouragement from workshop co-chairs, Stephen Hayes of 3GPP and Dave Allan of the Broadband Forum, each organization took away work items that address both near term and long term next steps for both 3GPP and the Broadband Forum.

Through liaison communications and technical contributions into each organization, joint requirements will be shared, and another workshop is envisioned for the future after a scope and gap analysis is performed by the organizations.

Workshop documents and presentations are at available…on line

Presentations & Papers from the Workshop:

Monday, 8 March 2010

Evolution of 3G Networks: The Concept, Architecture and Realisation of Mobile Networks beyond UMTS

This book has a title that can be a bit misleading but the main focus is on LTE network. One of the main problems that I generally notice is the lack of understanding of the bigger picture from the network point of view. This book can help fill that gap. The book starts with Mobile Network Evolution in General and moves to explain the evolved 3GPP network.

The different layers and interfaces have been explained quite well and the concepts have been well illustrated with the diagrams. A lot of books have diagrams that are verbatim copy of the standards of illustrated in a complicated way, these have been avoided in this book. To illustrate my point lets look at this image below that shows example arrangement of bearers with multiple PDN connectivity.

Later on the signalling for different scenarios have been explained in a rather nice way. For example of we look at PDN connectivity again, its rather simply explained.

There are many examples of signalling and once they are complete, there is a chapter looking at different protocols like GTP, PMIP, DIAMATER, SCTP, etc.

The book is a bit pricey though but worth the investment if your focus is on the signalling side of things and if you are required to understand the concepts quite well. You can also have a look at the book n google books as embedded below:

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Bluetooth 4.0 promises to be more successful than Bluetooth 3.0

Apparently the Bluetooth 3.0 has a problem that it consumes too much power so even though the specs have been available for quite some time, they haven't been rolled out.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has said that the new version, Bluetooth 4.0, could be launching in the 4th quarter of this year with devices such as headsets, phones and PC’s all getting the technology.

The latest specification allows devices with smaller batteries to utilise Bluetooth. Previous versions of BT required that a device had at lease a AAA or larger capacity battery to function. The new 4.0 specifications allow for smaller devices that require coin-cell batteries to run.

As well as utilising less power, the device also has higher speed data transfer. Version 3.0 was launched last year although it kind of fell flat on it’s face due to the power requirements needed. Version 4.0 fixes those problems.

The new specification will carry the high-speed Wi-Fi feature introduced with Bluetooth 3.0. That allows devices to jump onto Wi-Fi 802.11 networks, where it can transfer data at up to 25Mbits per second.

Hopefully with the lower power requirements and the options to switch to 802.11 networks we should start seeing more devices using the Bluetooth specification.

However, Forrester Research analyst Charles Golvin believes the new standard nonetheless holds considerable appeal.

"These protocols are designed to be very efficient because they are delivering small bits of data," Golvin told PC World, adding that current technologies expended far too much energy to transmit data over short distances. “They'd be like pulling out a cannon to kill a mouse,” Golvin said.

Despite being certified nearly a year ago, the first Bluetooth 3.0+HS devices have yet to appear on the market.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Sprint, Verizon and Mobile Healthcare

In US, Sprint and Verizon are going head to head with their 4G (sic.) offering. Sprint has a WiMAX network from its Clearwire joint venture while Verizon is soon to roll out LTE.

During the ongoing Healthcare Information and Management System Society or HIMSS annual conference being held in Atlanta, the CEO of Sprint Nextel, Dan Hesse mentioned that the 4G (sic.) technology will play an important part in helping to transform healthcare to a greater height.

With wireless technology being an essential part of everyday life for nearly 277 million Americans, it is changing the paradigm of how healthcare is administered. Internet savvy consumers today expect immediate access to health information and care anytime, anyplace. Last year, 89 percent of wireless Internet users sought health information online*. Similarly, caregivers are using smartphones equipped with medical applications for instant, secure access to lab results, x-rays, vital signs, drug-to-drug interactions, and other vital medical records. These trends further validate the key role that wireless will play in shaping the future of healthcare by enabling innovative and cost-effective approaches in delivering quality care.

If I had to pick the one industry facing the biggest gap between need for change and use of wireless to facilitate that change, it would be healthcare,” Hesse said. Most industries spend between 6 percent and 8 percent of their revenues on telecom, but healthcare only spends 2 percent or 3 percent on it, he said. Darwin said that survival of the fittest is not about the strongest or the most intelligent — it’s about the most responsive to change, Hesse explained, and consumers are beginning to drive a lot of the change in healthcare. Healthcare spending on telecom will jump from $8.6 billion to $12.4 billion in the next few years, Hesse predicted, and two-thirds of that increase in spending will be from wireless apps and services.

What if we had asked the healthcare industry to partner with the wireless industry back in 1986, Hesse asked as he held up a massive mobile phone from that year. What if I said we could monitor patients and look at EKGs on one of these? The timing couldn’t be better for healthcare and wireless to work together, Hesse said as he took out a smartphone from his pocket. Today two-thirds of physicians use a smartphone like this one and soon more than 80 percent of them will.

What use cases does Hesse see for the wireless tools his industry offers?

> E-prescribing — Physicians’ bad hand writing causes some 4 percent of errors found in prescriptions. Hesse said a doctor friend of his realized the first time he saw a Palm PDA that it was the same size as his prescription pad and once it got Internet connectivity it would eventually eliminate the handwritten prescription. Hesse said e-Prescribing could save $20 billion annually.

> Instant, secure access to vital signs – Hesse pointed to AirStrip’s fetal heart rate monitor as a perfect example of vital sign remote monitoring that is in the market today.

> Advanced mobile apps for consumers – In just a few years we have gone from going online to look up home remedies for various ailments, Hesse said, to using apps like flu radar which can tell us how many cases of the flu have been diagnosed in our area. Hesse also pointed to the app currently being researched that encourages the end user to cough into the phone’s microphone so it can compare the sound to its database of coughs and come up with a preliminary diagnosis.

> Ultrasound probe that plugs right into a cell phone — Ultrasound exams could be conducted nearly anywhere and pipe the images to doctors that could also be nearly anywhere, Hesse predicted as he showed images of an ultrasound probe that connects to a cell phone. This will not only cut costs for ultrasounds, especially in developing market but also make it easier for EMTs and other healthcare workers who are away from hospitals to have a tool to use on the go.

> Wireless video monitors for virtual, in-home visits — While this one didn’t seem to leverage the real benefits of wireless, Hesse told a story of a nurse who had gained too much weight to be able to come into work anymore. After a short while of being detached from her former colleagues she became depressed over the situation and much less engaged in our own care. She then became part of a program that used wireless video monitors to enable two-way communications between patients in their home and physicians and nurses at care facilities. After receiving frequent virtual visits using the system, she took control of her health decisions, lost the weight and made it back to work.

> Virtual coaches on your handset — Hesse described another patient who had Type 2 diabetes, a regimen of oral medications and high blood pressure. In order to adhere to our routine she participated in a program with Sprint’s partner Welldoc to track her adherence. Welldoc offered her a virtual coach application that reminded and encouraged her to stay on track.

> Mobile enterprise for pandemic situations — During the H1N1 scare, Hesse said Sprint encouraged its workers to work from home or remotely to stem any potential spread of the flu virus among its ranks. Unlike businesses that have not adopted mobility tools for the enterprise, Sprint was able to restrict travel and encourage working from home without disrupting their employees’ workflow and progress. They had the mobile connectivity and devices to work from anywhere.

> mVisum for remote access to images, charts — Sprint partner mVisum enables clinicians to view charts, x-rays and other images right from their smartphones. Hesse said a cardiologist might be alerted through mVisum on his BlackBerry of an ambulance en route with a patient whom the paramedics suspected had suffered a heart attack. If the ambulance had wireless connectivity it could send that EKG to the cardiologist’s phone via mVisum and the clinician could prepare for the patient’s arrival knowing what needed to be done ahead of time. In those types of situations the time saved is extremely valuable.

> Intel Health Guide for remote visits and monitoring — Hesse said that moving more patients out of the hospital and back into their homes not only reduces costs overall by also improves opportunities. A woman with a high-risk pregnancy should not be moved in many cases, but she has to move in order to visit her doctor. Instead, hospitals could provide patients with Intel’s Health Guide, a tablet-like device with a touch screen that aims to make it easy for patients to track their vital signs and monitor their biometrics through peripheral devices. Physicians can make remote visits through the Health Guide.

> 4G wireless-enabled video cameras – Imagine video cameras with 4G wireless connectivity that can help patients learn how to apply their skin medication. A similar camera could be installed in an operating room to live broadcast surgeries in high definition. If it were installed in an ambulance, the EMTs could live broadcast stats, triage and more so that the clinicians at the care facility could prepare for their arrival.

> Intelligent medicine or pills with wireless embedded — “Soon i will be able to hold up a pill with wireless embedded into it,” Hesse said. The pill could also include a video camera and could send data and images straight to a doctor’s wireless device.

> 4G phones with Blu-Ray quality screens — Everyone always points to the cell phone screen’s small size or low resolution as reasons why images aren’t very useful on that platform. Hesse said HD, Blu-Ray quality resolution is coming to 4G phones.

“There are a lot of unsung heroes here today in this room,” Hesse said. “In the sometimes bitter debates on the subject of healthcare, too often we forget how important the job is of those people who deliver care.”

“To quote Yogi Berra, ‘The future ain’t what it used to be,’” Hesse said. With all the potential that Hesse pointed to and the fact that ten mobile phones are manufactured per every baby born today, the future is increasingly wireless. The future of HIMSS is wireless. And the industry can finally put the 1970s behind it.

More on the Sprint Mobile Healthcare solution at

Verizon Business has launched an information technology platform that enables the digital sharing of physician-dictated patient notes.

The Verizon Medical Data Exchange, launched Wednesday (March 3) at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society annual conference in Atlanta, provides a way for medical transcriptionists to share digitized patient notes detailing patients' care and treatment with doctors, hospitals and other health care providers. Until now, the lack of an interoperable, nationally available platform has made it difficult to share these notes, which primarily form the basis of electronic health records.

Verizon Business developed the platform for the Medical Transcription Service Consortium under an agreement announced last November. Founding consortium members MD-IT and MedQuist currently are using the platform. By August, when the Medical Data Exchange is expected to be in use by all of the consortium's members, 350,000-plus physicians, more than 2,700 clinics and nearly 2,500 hospitals will be supported.

The Medical Transcription Industry Association estimates that its members create and electronically archive nearly 60 percent of the more than 1.2 billion clinical notes produced in the U.S. each year. Approximately 25 percent of these records currently are shared among health care providers, including other physicians, hospitals and insurance companies.

Verizon Wireless offers customers in the healthcare industry an extensive portfolio of products and services that run on the company's reliable Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) Revision A (Rev. A) network, including:

PatientKeeper® – PatientKeeper's mobility products support all operations systems while connecting physicians to patient information across inpatient and ambulatory environments. With PatientKeeper, physicians save time, increase revenue and enhance patient care. PatientKeeper enables physicians to interactively manage patient information across multiple locations, view clinical results, enter charges, sign out patients, and enter and order prescriptions, all from their smartphones.

EPOCRATES Rx for Android and Palm OS – Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals who use Verizon Wireless smartphones with the Android™ OS, such as DROID by Motorola or DROID ERIS™ by HTC, or devices that run on the Palm® webOS™ platform, including Palm® Pre™ Plus and Palm Pixi™ Plus, can leverage this mobile drug reference application to get prescription and safety information for thousands of brand name and generic drugs instantly. The application also offers Pill ID, which helps identify a drug based on physical characteristics such as color, shape and imprint code; table and calculators; and drug interaction information.

Medicine Central and Evidence Central – Unbound Medicine offers two applications for Verizon Wireless Android, BlackBerry®, Palm and Windows Mobile® devices.

Medicine Central is a collection of disease, drug and test information with literature tracking for mobile devices. The application features The 5-Minute Clinical Consult, A to Z Drug Facts, Drug Interaction Facts, Pocket Guide to Diagnostic Tests, and MEDLINE Journals.

Evidence Central supports effective evidence-based medical practice by integrating analysis with the latest research. Clinicians can access Evidence-Based Medicine Guidelines, Cochrane Abstracts, EE+ POEMs (Patient-Oriented Evidence that Matters from Essential Evidence Plus), and MEDLINE Journals anytime, anywhere.

Motion Computing® C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant (MCA) – Running on Windows® 7, the C5 is a hospital-grade device proven to enhance clinician satisfaction, improve point of care documentation, increase clinician productivity, and improve clinical documentation accuracy. The MCA is now available with embedded Verizon Wireless Mobile Broadband capability to stay connected to hospital information and the Internet.

More on Verizon Mobile Healthcare Solution at

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS) in Release-9

I have blogged about Public Warning System and covered CMAS as part of that earlier.

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,":

In response to the Warning, Alert, and Response Network (WARN) Act passed by Congress in 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) established the Commercial Mobile Alert Service (CMAS) to allow wireless service providers who choose to participate, to send emergency alerts as text messages to their users who have CMAS capable handsets.

The FCC established a Commercial Mobile Service Alert Advisory Committee (CMSAAC) for the development of a set of recommendations for the support of CMAS. The CMSAAC recommendations were included as the CMAS Architecture and Requirements document in the FCC Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) which was issued in December 2007. In 2008, the FCC issued three separate Report and Order documents detailing rules (47 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Part 10) for CMAS. The FCC CMAS First Report and Order specifies the rules and architecture for CMAS. The FCC CMAS Second Report and Order establishes CMAS testing requirements and describes the optional capability for Noncommercial Educational (NCE) and public broadcast television stations distribute geo-targeted CMAS alerts. The FCC CMAS Third Report and Order defined the CMAS timeline, subscriber notification requirements for CMSPs, procedures for CMSP participation elections and the rules for subscriber opt-out. The FCC also issued a CMAS Reconsideration and Erratum document.

The CMAS network will allow the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to accept and aggregate alerts from the President of the United States, the National Weather Service (NWS), and state and local emergency operations centers, and then send the alerts over a secure interface to participating commercial mobile service providers (CMSPs). These participating CMSPs will then distribute the alerts to their users. between the issuance of the second and third Report & Order documents.

As defined in the FCC CMAS Third Report and Order, CMSPs that voluntarily choose to participate in CMAS must begin an 18 month period of development, testing and deployment of the CMAS no later than 10 months from the date that the Government Interface Design specifications available. On December 7, 2009, the CMAS timeline of the FCC CMAS Third Report and Order was initiated
with the announcement by FEMA and the FCC that the Joint ATIS/TIA CMAS Federal Alert GW to CMSP GW Interface Specification (J-STD-101) has been adopted as the Government Interface Design specification referenced in the FCC CMAS Third Report and Order.

Participating CMSPs must be able to target alerts to individual counties and ensure that alerts reach customers roaming outside a provider’s service area. Participating CMSPs must also transmit alerts with a dedicated vibration cadence and audio attention signal. Emergency alerts will not interrupt calls in progress. CMAS supports only English text-based alert messages with a maximum displayable message size of 90 English characters.

For purposes of CMAS, emergency alerts will be classified in one of three categories:

1. Presidential Alerts. Any alert message issued by the President for local, regional, or national emergencies and are the highest priority CMAS alert

2. Imminent Threat Alerts. Notification of emergency conditions, such as hurricanes or tornadoes, where there is an imminent threat to life or property and some immediate responsive action should be taken

3. Child Abduction Emergency/AMBER Alerts. Alerts related to missing or endangered children due to an abduction or runaway situation

The subscribers of participating CMSPs may opt out of receiving Imminent Threat and Child Abduction/AMBER alerts, but cannot opt out from Presidential Alerts.

The following figure shows the CMAS Reference Architecture as defined in the FCC CMAS First Report and Order:

Reference Point C is the secure interface between the Federal Alert GW and the Commercial Mobile Service Provider (CMSP) GW. The Reference Point C interface supports delivery of new, updated or canceled wireless alert messages, and supports periodic testing of the interface. This interface is defined in the
J-STD-101, the Joint ATIS/TIA CMAS Federal Alert GW to CMSP GW Interface Specification.

Federal Government entity (i.e. FEMA) responsible for the administration of the Federal Alert GW. FEMA will perform the function of aggregating all state, local, and federal alerts and will provide one logical interface to each CMSP who elects to support CMAS alerts.

For GSM and UMTS systems, wireless alert messages that are received by CMSP GWs will be transmitted to targeted coverage areas using GSM-UMTS Cell Broadcast Service (CBS). The CMAS functionality does not require modifications to the 3GPP-defined Cell Broadcast Service.

The ATIS WTSC-G3GSN Subcommittee is developing the CMAS via GSM-UMTS Cell Broadcast Service Specification. The purpose of this standard is to describe the use of the GSM-UMTS Cell Broadcast Service for the broadcast of CMAS messages. The standard includes the mapping of CMAS application level messages to the Cell Broadcast Service message structure.

The ATIS WTSC-G3GSN Subcommittee is developing the Cell Broadcast Entity (CBE) to Cell Broadcast Center (CBC) Interface Specification. The purpose of this standard is to define a standard XML based interface to the Cell Broadcast Center (CBC). The CMSP Alert GW will utilize this interface to provide the CMAS Alert message information to the CBC for broadcast via CBS.

The ATIS WTSC-G3GSN Subcommittee has developed the Implementation Guidelines and Best Practices for GSM/UMTS Cell Broadcast Service Specification and this specification was approved in October 2009. The purpose of this specification is to describe implementation guidelines and best practices related to GSM/UMTS Cell Broadcast Service regardless of the application using CBS. This specification is not intended to describe an end-to-end Cell Broadcast architecture, but includes clarifications to the existing 3GPP CBS standards as well as “best practices” for implementation of the 3GPP standards. CMAS is an example of an application that uses CBS.

J-STD-100, Joint ATIS/TIA CMAS Mobile Device Behavior Specification, defines the common set of requirements for GSM, UMTS, and CDMA based mobile devices behavior whenever a CMAS alert message is received and processed. A common set of requirements will allow for a consistent user experience regardless of the associated wireless technology of the mobile device. Additionally, this common set of requirements will allow the various local, state, and Federal level government agencies to develop subscriber CMAS educational information that is independent of the wireless technology.


In order to comply with FCC requirements for CMAS, CMSPs have a need for standards development to support CMAS over LTE/EPS as it relates to the network-user interface generally described as the “E-Interface” in the CMAS Reference Architecture. The intent of ATIS WTSC-G3GSN is to build upon LTE text broadcast capabilities currently being specified by 3GPP for the Public Warning System (PWS).


3GPP TS 22.268. Public Warning System (PWS) Requirements, covers the core requirements for the PWS and covers additional subsystem requirements for the Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System (ETWS) and for CMAS. TS 22.268 specifies general requirements for the broadcast of Warning Notifications to broadcast to a Notification Area that is based on the geographical information as specified by the Warning Notification Provider. This specification also defines specific CMAS requirements based on the three Reports & Orders issued to date by the FCC.

3GPP TS 23.401. GPRS enhancements for E-UTRAN access, specifies the Warning System Architecture for 3GPP accesses and the reference point between the Cell Broadcast Center (CBC) and Mobility Management Entity (MME) for warning message delivery and control functions. This TS identifies the MME functions for warning message transfer (including selection of appropriate eNodeB), and provides Stage 2 information flows for warning message delivery and warning message cancel. The architecture and warning message delivery and control functions support CMAS.

3GPP TS 29.168. Cell Broadcast Center interfaces with the EPC – Stage 3, specifies the procedures and application protocol between the Cell Broadcast center and the MME for Warning Message Transmission, including the messages, information elements and procedures needed to support CMAS.

3GPP TS 36.300. E-UTRA and E-UTRAN – Overall description – Stage 2, specifies the signaling procedures for the transfer of warning messages from the MME to the eNodeB. The signaling procedures support CMAS operations.

3GPP TS 36.331. E-UTRA Radio Resource Control (RRC) – Protocol specification, specifies the radio resource control protocol for UE-to-E-UTRAN radio interface and describes CMAS notification and warning message transfer.

3GPP TS 36.413. E-UTRAN – S1 Application Protocol (S1AP), specifies the E-UTRAN radio network layer signaling protocol between the MME and eNodeB, and describes the warning message transfer needed for CMAS.

3GPP participants are working to complete these specifications and other UE procedures for supporting PWS and CMAS.

ATIS WTSC-G3GSN will develop a Standard for a CMAS via LTE Broadcast Capability Specification. This Standard will map the CMAS application level messages to the LTE warning message transfer protocol (i.e. for CMAS).

This ATIS WTSC-G3GSN effort has an anticipated completion date of December 31, 2010. This takes into account the time needed for completion of the ongoing 3GPP standards development on warning message broadcast for LTE.

ATIS WTSC G3GSN and TIA TR45.8 Subcommittees in conjunction with FEMA will also be jointly developing a testing certification specification for the Reference Point C interface between the Federal Alert GW and the CMSP GW based upon the requirements defined in J-STD-101. This specification has an anticipated completion date of December 31, 2010.