Sunday, 18 March 2018

Small Cells, Macrocells, Backhaul, Infrastructure and other connectivity solutions from #MWC18

Well, it was officially 3G4G's first Mobile World Congress so I took time to go through the different booths, demos, etc. and compile a small presentation

The presentation (embedded below and can be downloaded from Slideshare) covers the following companies:

Action Technologies
Comba Telecom
JMA Wireless
Parallel Wireless
Polaris Networks

Do let me know if you found it useful

Related Posts:

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

LoRa is quietly marching on...

During the mobile world congress, I was pleasantly surprised to see how LoRa ecosystem keeps getting larger. There was also an upbeat mood within the LoRa vendor community as it keeps winning one battle after another. Here is my short take on the technology with an unbiased lens.

To start with, lets look at this short report by Tom Rebbeck from Analysys Mason. The PDF can be downloaded after registering from here.

As can be seen, all major IoT technologies (LoRa, NB-IoT, Sigfox & LTE-M) gained ground in 2017. Most of the LoRa and all of Sigfox networks are actually not deployed by the mobile operators. From the article:

These points lead to a final observation about network deployments – many operators are launching multiple technologies. Of the 26 operators with publicly-announced interest in LTE-M networks, 20 also have plans for other networks;
• 14 will combine it with NB-IoT
• four will offer LTE-M and LoRa and
• two, Softbank and Swisscom, are working with LoRa, LTE-M and NB-IoT.

We are not aware of operators also owning Sigfox networks, though some, such as Telefónica, are selling connectivity provided by a Sigfox network operator.

The incremental cost of upgrading from NB-IoT or LTE-M to both technologies is relatively small. Most estimates put the additional cost at less than an additional 20% – and sometimes considerably less. For many operators, the question will be which technology to prioritise, and when to launch, rather than which to choose.

The reasons for launching multiple networks appear to be tactical as much as strategic. Some operators firmly believe that the different technologies will match different use cases – for example, LoRa may be better suited to stationary, low bandwidth devices like smart meters, while LTE-M, could meet the needs of devices that need mobility, higher bandwidth and support for voice, for example a personal health monitor with an emergency call button.

But, a fundamental motive for offering multiple networks is to hedge investments. While they may not admit it publicly, operators do not know which technology will gain the most traction. They do not want to lose significant, lucrative contracts because they have backed the wrong technology. Deploying both LTE-M and NB-IoT – or LoRa – adds little cost and yet provides a hedge against this risk. For operators launching LoRa, there has been the added benefit of being early to market and gaining experience of what developers want and need from LPWA networks. This experience should help them when other technologies are deployed at scale.

The following is from MWC 2018 summary by ABI Research:

LPWA network technologies continue to gather momentum with adoption from a growing ecosystem of communications service providers (CSPs), original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and IoT solution providers. LPWA networks are central to the connectivity offerings from telcos with support for NB-IoT, LTE-M, LoRaWAN, and SIGFOX. Telefonica highlighted SIGFOX as an important network technology along with NB-IoT and Cat M in its IoT connectivity platform. Similarly, Orange and SK Telecom emphasized on their continued support for LoRaWAN along with Cat M in France and South Korea. On the other hand, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, while aggressively pursuing deployment of NB-IoT networks, currently have mostly large scale POCs on their networks. 

Smart meters — Utilities are demanding that meter OEMs and technology solution providers deliver product design life of at least 15 years for battery operated smart water and gas meters. LPWA technologies, such as NB-IoT, LoRaWAN, SIGFOX and wireless M-bus, that are optimized for very low-power consumption and available at low cost are clearly emerging as the most favored LPWA solutions.

The following picture is from Ovum post MWC-2018 Webinar:

Here is a short video from MWC by yours truly looking at LoRa Gateways

There are also few announcements / news from LoRa world just to highlight how the ecosystem is thriving:

Source: SenRa

So someone recently asked me is LoRa is the new WiMax? The answer is obviously a big NO. Just look at the LoRa alliance members in the picture above. Its a whole ecosystem with different players having different interests, working on a different part of the ecosystem.

NB-IoT & LTE-M will gain ground in the coming years but there will always be a place for other LPWA technologies like LoRa.

Finally, here is a slide deck (embedded below) that I really like. The picture above very nicely illustrates that LoRaWAN and Cellular complement each other well. Maybe that is the reason that Orange is a big supporter of LoRa.

So for operators who are just starting their IoT journey or smaller operators who are unsure of the IoT potential, may want to start their journey with LoRa to play around and understand the business cases, etc. In the meantime LTE-M and NB-IoT ecosystem will mature with prices coming down further and battery time improving. That may be the right time to decide on the way forward.

Further Reading:

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Quick summary of Mobile World Congress 2018 (#MWC18)

This year at MWC, I took the time out to go and see as many companies as I can. My main focus was looking at connectivity solutions, infrastructure, devices, gadgets and anything else cool. I have to say that I wasn't too impressed. I found some of the things later on Twitter or YouTube but as it happens, one cannot see everything.

I will be writing a blog on Small Cells, Infrastructure, etc. later on but here are some cool videos that I have found. As its a playlist, if I find any more, it will be added to the same playlist below.

The big vendors did not open up their stands for everyone (even I couldn't get in 😉) but the good news is that most of their demos is available online. Below are the name of the companies that had official MWC 2018 websites. Will add more when I find them.


Network Equipment Vendors

Handset Manufacturers

Chipset Manufacturers

Did I miss anyone? Feel free to suggest links in comments.

MWC Summary from other Analysts:

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Artificial Intelligence - Beyond SON for Autonomous Networks

What is the next step in evolution of SON? Artificial Intelligence obviously. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in the network supervisory system could help solve some of the problems of future network deployment and operation. ETSI has therefore set up a new 'Industry Specification Group' on 'Experiential Networked Intelligence' (ISG ENI) to develop standards for a Network Supervisory assistant system.

The ISG ENI focuses on improving the operator experience, adding closed-loop artificial intelligence mechanisms based on context-aware, metadata-driven policies to more quickly recognize and incorporate new and changed knowledge, and hence, make actionable decisions. ENI will specify a set of use cases, and the generic technology independent architecture, for a network supervisory assistant system based on the ‘observe-orient-decide-act’ control loop model. This model can assist decision-making systems, such as network control and management systems, to adjust services and resources offered based on changes in user needs, environmental conditions and business goals.

The introduction of technologies such as Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and network slicing means that networks are becoming more flexible and powerful. These technologies transfer much of the complexity in a network from hardware to software, from the network itself to its management and operation. ENI will make the deployment of SDN and NFV more intelligent and efficient and will assist the management and orchestration of the network.

We expect to complete the first phase of ENI work in 2019. It will include a description of use cases and requirements and terminology, including a definition of features, capabilities and policies, which we will publish in a series of informative best practice documents (Group Reports (GRs)).
This will of course require co-operation from many different industry bodies including GSMA, ITU-T, MEF, IETF, etc.

Will see how this goes.

Further reading:

Friday, 9 February 2018

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

QUIC - Possibly in 5G, 3GPP Release-16

Over the last year or so, I have heard quite a few discussions and read many articles around why QUIC is so good and why we will replace TCP with QUIC (Quick UDP Internet Connection). One such article talking about QUIC benefits says:

QUIC was initially developed by Google as an alternative transport protocol to shorten the time it takes to set up a connection. Google wanted to take benefits of the work done with SPDY, another protocol developed by Google that became the basis for the HTTP/2 standard, into a transport protocol with faster connection setup time and built-in security. HTTP/2 over TCP multiplexes and pipelines requests over one connection but a single packet loss and retransmission packet causes Head-of-Line Blocking (HOLB) for the resources that were being downloaded in parallel. QUIC overcomes the shortcomings of multiplexed streams by removing HOLB. QUIC was created with HTTP/2 as the primary application protocol and optimizes HTTP/2 semantics.

What makes QUIC interesting is that it is built on top of UDP rather than TCP. As such, the time to get a secure connection running is shorter using QUIC because packet loss in a particular stream does not affect the other streams on the connection. This results in successfully retrieving multiple objects in parallel, even when some packets are lost on a different stream. Since QUIC is implemented in the userspace compared to TCP, which is implemented in the kernel, QUIC allows developers the flexibility of improving congestion control over time, since it can be optimized and better replaced compared to kernel upgrades (for example, apps and browsers update more often than OS updates).

Georg Mayer mentioned about QUIC in a recent discussion with Telecom TV. His interview is embedded below. Jump to 5:25 for QUIC part only

Georg Mayer, 3GPP CT work on 5G from 3GPPlive on Vimeo.

Below are some good references about QUIC in case you want to study further.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

5G Network Architecture, Design and Optimisation - Jan 2018

Prof. Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect, Architecture & Strategy, TSO, BT, provided an update on 5G Network Architecture & Design last year which was also the most popular post of 2017 on 3G4G blog. This year again, he has delivered an update on the same topic at IET '5G - State of Play' conference. He has kindly shared the slides (embedded below) that are available to download from Slideshare.

The video of this talk as follows:

There are many valuable insights in this talk and the other talks from this conference. All the videos from the IET conference are available here and they are worth your time.

Related Links:

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Inside AT&T Towers

A really good video from Mr. Mobile on YouTube on how the cell towers look from inside. Worth your 9:27 mins.

If you found this interesting then you will also like:

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

3GPP-VRIF workshop on Virtual Reality Ecosystem & Standards in 5G

Its been a year since I last posted about Augmented / Virtual Reality Requirements for 5G. The topic of Virtual Reality has since made good progress for 5G. There are 2 technical reports that is looking at VR specifically. They are:

The second one is work in progress though. 

Anyway, back in Dec. 3GPP and Virtual Reality Industry Forum (VRIF) held a workshop on VR Ecosystem & Standards. All the materials, including agenda is available here. The final report is not there yet but I assume that there will be a press release when the report is published.

While there are some interesting presentations, here is what I found interesting:

From presentation by Gordon Castle, Head of Strategy Development, Ericsson

From presentation by Martin Renschler, Senior Director Technology, Qualcomm

For anyone wanting to learn more about 6 degrees of freedom (6- DoF), see this Wikipedia entry. According to the Nokia presentation, Facebook’s marketing people call this “6DOF;” the engineers at MPEG call it “3DOF+.”
XR is 'cross reality', which is any hardware that combines aspects of AR, MR and VR; such as Google Tango.

From presentation by Devon Copley, Former Head of Product, Nokia Ozo VR Platform
Some good stuff in the pres.

From presentation by Youngkwon Lim, Samsung Research America; the presentation provided a link to a recent YouTube video on this presentation. I really liked it so I am embedding that here:

Finally, from presentation by Gilles Teniou, SA4 Vice chairman - Video SWG chairman, 3GPP

You can check and download all the presentations here.

Further Reading:

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Satellites & Non-terrestrial networks (NTN) in 5G

Satellites has been an area of interest of mine for a while as some of you know that I used to work as Satellite Applications & Services Programme manager at techUK. I have written about how I see satellites complementing the mobile networks here and here.

Its good to see that there is some activity in 3GPP going on about satellites & Non-terrestrial networks (NTN) in 5G. While there are some obvious roles that satellites can play (see pic above), the 5G work is looking to cover a lot more topics in details.

3GPP TR 38.913: Study on scenarios and requirements for next generation access technologies looks at 12 different scenarios, the ones relevant to this topic ate Air to ground, Light aircraft and Satellite to terrestrial.
3GPP TR 38.811: Study on New Radio (NR) to support non terrestrial networks (Release 15) covers this topic a bit more in detail. From looking at how satellites and other aerial networks work in general, it looks at the different NTN architecture options as can be seen above.
People looking to study this area in detail should probably start looking at this TR first.

3GPP also released a news item on this topic last week. It also refers to the above TR and a new one for Release 16. The following from 3GPP news:

The roles and benefits of satellites in 5G have been studied in 3GPP Release 14, leading to the specific requirement to support satellite access being captured in TS 22.261 - “Service requirements for next generation new services and markets; Stage 1”, recognizing the added value that satellite coverage brings, as part of the mix of access technologies for 5G, especially for mission critical and industrial applications where ubiquitous coverage is crucial.

Satellites refer to Spaceborne vehicles in Low Earth Orbits (LEO), Medium Earth Orbits (MEO), Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) or in Highly Elliptical Orbits (HEO).

Beyond satellites, Non-terrestrial networks (NTN) refer to networks, or segments of networks, using an airborne or spaceborne vehicle for transmission. Airborne vehicles refer to High Altitude Platforms (HAPs) encompassing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) - including tethered UAS, Lighter than Air UAS and Heavier than Air UAS - all operating at altitude; typically between 8 and 50 km, quasi-stationary.

These Non-terrestrial networks feature in TSG RAN’s TR 38.811 “Study on NR to support non-terrestrial networks”. They will:
  • Help foster the 5G service roll out in un-served or underserved areas to upgrade the performance of terrestrial networks
  • Reinforce service reliability by providing service continuity for user equipment or for moving platforms (e.g. passenger vehicles-aircraft, ships, high speed trains, buses)
  • Increase service availability everywhere; especially for critical communications, future railway/maritime/aeronautical communications
  • Enable 5G network scalability through the provision of efficient multicast/broadcast resources for data delivery towards the network edges or even directly to the user equipment

The objective of TR 38.811 is to study channel models, to define the deployment scenarios as well as the related system parameters and to identify and assess potential key impact areas on the NR. In a second phase, solutions for the identified key impacts on RAN protocols/architecture will be evaluated and defined.

A second study item, the “Study on using Satellite Access in 5G” is being addressed in Working Group SA1.  It shall lead to the delivery of the corresponding Technical Report TR 22.822 as part of Release 16.

This study will identify use cases for the provision of services when considering the integration of 5G satellite-based access components in the 5G system. When addressing the integration of (a) satellite component(s), use cases will identify new potential requirements for 5G systems addressing:
  • The associated identification of existing / planned services and the corresponding modified or new requirements
  • The associated identification of new services and the corresponding requirements
  • The requirements on set-up / configuration / maintenance of the features of UE’s when using satellite components related features as well for other components from the 5G system
  • Regulatory requirements when moving to (or from) satellite from (or to) terrestrial networks

You may also like my presentation / video on 'Connectivity on Planes'.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Introduction to 3GPP Security in Mobile Cellular Networks

I recently did a small presentation on 3GPP Security, looking at the how the security mechanism works in mobile cellular networks; focusing mainly on signaling associated with authentication, integrity protection and ciphering / confidentiality. Its targeted towards people with basic understanding of mobile networks. Slides with embedded video below.

You can also check-out all such videos / presentations at the 3G4G training section.