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Parallel Wireless is Hiring

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Beacons, Bluetooth, NFC and WiFi


Not sure if you have heard about some kind of Beacons that will be used to guide us everywhere. There are Bluetooth Beeacons, iBeacon, Paypal Beacon, probably more. So here is an attempt to understand some of these things.

The first is this introductory presentation which seems to be extremely popular on Slideshare:



Once we understand the concept of Beacons, there is another presentation that helps us understand iBeacons and Paypal Beacons as follows:



Bluetooth Beacons vs Wifi vs NFC is an interesting article comparing the Beacons with WiFi & NFC. Read it here


Why Beacons may be NFC killer, GigaOm has a good answer here:
iBeacon could be a NFC killer because of its range. NFC tags are pretty cheap compared to NFC chips, but NFC tags are required on each product because NFC works only in very close proximity. In theory, NFC range is up to 20cm (7.87 inches), but the actual optimal range is less than 4cm (1.57 inches). Also, mobile devices need to contain a NFC chip that can handle any NFC communications. On the other hand, iBeacons are a little expensive compared to NFC chips, but iBeacons range is up to 50 meters. Not all phones have NFC chips, but almost all have Bluetooth capability.
Many years back there was a proximity marketing craze using Bluetooth. Then the craze died down and everyone started focussing on other approaches for LBS. I also suggested a Small Cells based approach here. Its good to see that we are going to use a new Bluetooth based approach for similar functions.

By the end of the year we will hopefully know if this is a new hype or a successful technology. Issues with battery drains, security, interoperability, etc. will need to be sorted asap for its success.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Rise and Rise or '4G' - Update on Release-11 & Release-12 features

A recent GSMA report suggests that China will be a significant player in the field of 4G with upto 900 million 4G users by 2020. This is not surprising as the largest operator, China Mobile wants to desperately move its user base to 4G. For 3G it was stuck with TD-SCDMA or the TDD LCR option. This 3G technology is not as good as its FDD variant, commonly known as UMTS.

This trend of migrating to 4G is not unique to China. A recent report (embedded below) by 4G Americas predicts that by the end of 2018, HSPA/HSPA+ would be the most popular technology whereas LTE would be making an impact with 1.3 Billion connected devices. The main reason for HSPA being so dominant is due to the fact that HSPA devices are mature and are available now. LTE devices, even though available are still slightly expensive. At the same time, operators are taking time having a seamless 4G coverage throughout the region. My guess would be that the number of devices that are 4G ready would be much higher than 1.3 Billion.

It is interesting to see that the number of 'Non-Smartphones' remain constant but at the same time, their share is going down. It would be useful to breakdown the number of Smartphones into 'Phablets' and 'non-Phablets' category.

Anyway, the 4G Americas report from which the information above is extracted contains lots of interesting details about Release-11 and Release-12 HSPA+ and LTE. The only problem I found is that its too long for most people to go through completely.

The whitepaper contains the following information:

3GPP Rel-11 standards for HSPA+ and LTE-Advanced were frozen in December 2012 with the core network protocols stable in December 2012 and Radio Access Network (RAN) protocols stable in March 2013. Key features detailed in the paper for Rel-11 include:
HSPA+:
  • 8-carrier downlink operation (HSDPA)
  • Downlink (DL) 4-branch Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) antennas
  • DL Multi-Flow Transmission
  • Uplink (UL) dual antenna beamforming (both closed and open loop transmit diversity)
  • UL MIMO with 64 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (64-QAM)
  • Several CELL_FACH (Forward Access Channel) state enhancements (for smartphone type traffic) and non-contiguous HSDPA Carrier Aggregation (CA)
LTE-Advanced:
  • Carrier Aggregation (CA)
  • Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (MBMS) and Self Organizing Networks (SON)
  • Introduction to the Coordinated Multi-Point (CoMP) feature for enabling coordinated scheduling and/or beamforming
  • Enhanced Physical Control Channel (EPDCCH)
  • Further enhanced Inter-Cell Interference Coordination (FeICIC) for devices with interference cancellation
Finally, Rel-11 introduces several network and service related enhancements (most of which apply to both HSPA and LTE):
  • Machine Type Communications (MTC)
  • IP Multimedia Systems (IMS)
  • Wi-Fi integration
  • Home NodeB (HNB) and Home e-NodeB (HeNB)
3GPP started work on Rel-12 in December 2012 and an 18-month timeframe for completion was planned. The work continues into 2014 and areas that are still incomplete are carefully noted in the report.  Work will be ratified by June 2014 with the exception of RAN protocols which will be finalized by September 2014. Key features detailed in the paper for Rel-12 include:
HSPA+:
  • Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) Heterogeneous Networks (HetNet)
  • Scalable UMTS Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) bandwidth
  • Enhanced Uplink (EUL) enhancements
  • Emergency warning for Universal Terrestrial Radio Access Network (UTRAN)
  • HNB mobility
  • HNB positioning for Universal Terrestrial Radio Access (UTRA)
  • Machine Type Communications (MTC)
  • Dedicated Channel (DCH) enhancements
LTE-Advanced:
  • Active Antenna Systems (AAS)
  • Downlink enhancements for MIMO antenna systems
  • Small cell and femtocell enhancements
  • Machine Type Communication (MTC)
  • Proximity Service (ProSe)
  • User Equipment (UE)
  • Self-Optimizing Networks (SON)
  • Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) mobility
  • Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Services (MBMS)
  • Local Internet Protocol Access/Selected Internet Protocol Traffic Offload (LIPA/SIPTO)
  • Enhanced International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced (eIMTA) and Frequency Division Duplex-Time Division Duplex Carrier Aggregation (FDD-TDD CA)
Work in Rel-12 also included features for network and services enhancements for MTC, public safety and Wi-Fi integration, system capacity and stability, Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC), further network energy savings, multimedia and Policy and Charging Control (PCC) framework.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

VoLTE Roaming with RAVEL (Roaming Architecture for Voice over IMS with Local Breakout)


Voice over LTE or VoLTE has many problems to solve. One of the issues that did not have a clear solution initially was Roaming. iBasis has a whitepaper on this topic here, from which the above picture is taken. The following is what is said above:

The routing of international calls has always been a problem for mobile operators. All too often the answer—particularly in the case of ‘tromboning’ calls all the way back to the home network—has been inelegant and costly. LTE data sessions can be broken out locally, negating the need for convoluted routing solutions. But in a VoIMS environment all of the intelligence that decides how to route the call resides in the home network, meaning that the call still has to be routed back.

The industry’s solution to this issue is Roaming Architecture for Voice over LTE with Local Breakout (RAVEL). Currently in the midst of standardisation at 3GPP, RAVEL is intended to enable the home network to decide, where appropriate, for the VoIMS call to be broken out locally. 

Three quarters of respondents to the survey said they support an industry-wide move to RAVEL for VoLTE roaming. This is emphatic in its enthusiasm but 25 per cent remains a significant share of respondents still to be convinced. Just over half of respondents said they plan to support VoIMS for LTE roaming using the RAVEL architecture, while 12.3 per cent said they would support it, but not using RAVEL.

Until RAVEL is available, 27.4 per cent of respondents said they plan to use home-routing for all VoLTE traffic, while just under one fifth said they would use a non-standard VoLTE roaming solution.

Well, the solution was standardised in 3GPP Release-11. NTT Docomo has an excellent whitepaper (embedded below) explaining the issue and the proposed solution.

In 3GPP Release 11, the VoLTE roaming and interconnection architecture was standardized in cooperation with the GSMA Association. The new architecture is able to implement voice call charging in the same way as circuit-switched voice roaming and interconnection models by routing both C-Plane messages and voice data on the same path. This was not possible with the earlier VoLTE roaming and interconnection architecture.

Anyway, here is the complete whitepaper




Saturday, 8 February 2014

100 years of Wireless History

Recently attended the Cambridge Wireless Inaugural Wireless Heritage SIG event, “100 years of radio”. Some very interesting presentations and discussions on the wireless history. I have collected all the presentations and merged them into one and embedded them below. All presentations can be downloaded individually from CW website here. A combined one is available from Slideshare.

Presentations are:

  • Colin Smithers, Chairman, Plextek - 1914 to 1934: The wireless wave
  • Geoff Varrall, Director, RTT Online - 1934 to 1945: The wireless war
  • Steve Haseldine, Chairman, Deaf Alerter - 1945 to 1974: The cold war - radio goes underground
  • Prof Nigel Linge, Professor of Telecommunications, University of Salford - 1974 to 1994
  • Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect, EE and Visiting Professor, University of Salford - 1994 to 2014: Mass consumer cellular and the mobile broadband revolution - Broadband radio, digital radio, smart phone and smart networks



Monday, 3 February 2014

5G and the ‘Millimeter-Wave' Radios


There were quite a few interesting talks in the Cambridge Wireless Radio Technology SIG event last week. The ones that caught my attention and I want to highlight here are as follows.

The mobile operator EE and 5GIC centre explained the challenges faced during the Practical deployments. Of particular interest was the considerations during deployments. The outdoor environments can change in no time with things like foliage, signage or even during certain festivals. This can impact the radio path and may knock out certain small cells or backhaul. The presentation is available to view and download here.


Another interesting presentation was from Bluwireless on the 60GHz for backhaul. The slide that was really shocking was the impact of regulation in the US and the EU. This regulation difference means that a backhaul link could be expensive and impractical in certain scenarios in the EU while similar deployments in the US would be considerably cheaper. This presentation is available here.


Finally, the presentation from Samsung highlighted their vision and showed the test results of their mmWave prototype. The presentation is embedded below and is available here.



Finally, our 5G presentation summarising our opinion and what 5G may contain is available here. Dont forget to see the interesting discussion in the comments area.