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Showing posts with label BT / EE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BT / EE. Show all posts

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Different types of Mobile Masts



Today's post is inspired by two things. One of them being my most popular answer on Quora. As you can see, its gathered over 19K upvotes.


The other being #EEGoldenSIM competition started by Marc Allera, CEO of UK mobile operator, EE,. The users were required to find a mast, take a picture and share it. This led to a lot of people asking how do masts look like but also generated lots of interesting pictures. You can search #EEGoldenSIM on twitter to see them.

Below is a presentation prepared by my 3G4G colleagues on how different types of antennas and mobile masts look like. Hope you like it.



Sunday, 11 June 2017

Theoretical calculation of EE's announcement for 429Mbps throughput


The CEO of UK mobile network operator EE recently announced on twitter that they have achieved 429 Mbps in live network. The following is from their press release:

EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator and part of the BT Group, has switched on the next generation of its 4G+ network and demonstrated live download speeds of 429Mbps in Cardiff city centre using Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium, which launched on Friday 2 June. 
The state of the art network capability has been switched on in Cardiff and the Tech City area of London today. Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh city centres will have sites upgraded during 2017, and the capability will be built across central London. Peak speeds can be above 400Mbps with the right device, and customers connected to these sites should be able to consistently experience speeds above 50Mbps. 
Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium is the UK’s first ‘Cat 16’ smartphone optimised for the EE network, and EE is the only mobile network upgrading its sites to be able to support the new device’s unique upload and download capabilities. All devices on the EE network will benefit from the additional capacity and technology that EE is building into its network. 
... 
The sites that are capable of delivering these maximum speeds are equipped with 30MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, and 35MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. The 1800MHz carriers are delivered using 4x4 MIMO, which sends and receives four signals instead of just two, making the spectrum up to twice as efficient. The sites also broadcast 4G using 256QAM, or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, which increases the efficiency of the spectrum.

Before proceeding further you may want to check out my posts 'Gigabit LTE?' and 'New LTE UE Categories (Downlink & Uplink) in Release-13'

If you read the press release carefully, EE are now using 65MHz of spectrum for 4G. I wanted to provide a calculation for whats possible in theory with this much bandwidth.

Going back to basics (detailed calculation for basics in slideshare below), in LTE/LTE-A, the maximum bandwidth possible is 20MHz. Any more bandwidth can be used with Carrier Aggregation. So as per the EE announcement, its 20 + 10 MHz in 1800 band and 20 + 15 MHz in 2600 band

So for 1800 MHz band:

50 resource blocks (RBs) per 10MHZ, 150 for 30MHz.
Each RB has 12x7x2=168 symbols per millisecond in case of normal modulation support cyclic prefix (CP).
For 150 RBs, 150 x 168 = 25200 symbols per ms or 25,200,000 symbols per second. This can also be written as 25.2 Msps (Mega symbols per second)
256 QAM means 8 bits per symbol. So the calculation changes to 25.2 x 8 = 201.6 Mbps. Using 4 x 4 MIMO, 201.6 x 4 = 806.4Mbps
Removing 25% overhead which is used for signalling, this gives 604.80 Mbps


Repeating the same exercise for 35MHz of 2600 MHz band, with 2x2 MIMO and 256 QAM:

175 x 168 = 29400 symbols per ms or 29,400,000 symbols per second. This can be written as 29.4 Msps
29.4 x 8 = 235.2 Mbps
Using 2x2 MIMO, 235.2 x 2 = 470.4 Mbps
Removing 25% overhead which is used for signalling, this gives 352.80 Mbps

The combined theoretical throughput for above is 957.60 Mbps

For those interested in revisiting the basic LTE calculations, here is an interesting document:




Further reading:

Friday, 24 February 2017

Connecting Rural Scotland using Airmasts and Droneways


This week EE has finally done a press release on what they term as Airmasts (see my blog post here). Back in Nov. last year, Mansoor Hanif, Director of Converged Networks and Innovation BT/EE gave an excellent presentation on connecting rural Scottish Islands using Airmasts and Droneways at the Facebook TIP Summit. Embedded below are the slides and video from that talk.





In other related news, AT&T is showing flying COWs (Cell On Wheels) that can transmit LTE signals


Their innovation blog says:

It is designed to beam LTE coverage from the sky to customers on the ground during disasters or big events.
...
Here’s how it works. The drone we tested carries a small cell and antennas. It’s connected to the ground by a thin tether. The tether between the drone and the ground provides a highly secure data connection via fiber and supplies power to the Flying COW, which allows for unlimited flight time.  The Flying COW then uses satellite to transport texts, calls, and data. The Flying COW can operate in extremely remote areas and where wired or wireless infrastructure is not immediately available. Like any drone that we deploy, pilots will monitor and operate the device during use.

Once airborne, the Flying COW provides LTE coverage from the sky to a designated area on the ground.  

Compared to a traditional COW, in certain circumstances, a Flying COW can be easier to deploy due to its small size. We expect it to provide coverage to a larger footprint because it can potentially fly at altitudes over 300 feet— about 500% higher than a traditional COW mast.  

Once operational, the Flying COW could eventually provide coverage to an area up to 40 square miles—about the size of a 100 football fields. We may also deploy multiple Flying COWs to expand the coverage footprint.

Nokia on the other hand has also been showcasing drones and LTE connectivity for public safety at D4G Award event in Dubai


Nokia's Ultra Compact Network provides a standalone LTE network to quickly re-establish connectivity to various mission-critical applications including video-equipped drones. Drones can stream video and other sensor data in real time from the disaster site to a control center, providing inputs such as exact locations where people are stranded and nature of the difficulty of reaching the locations.

Related Posts:



Wednesday, 1 February 2017

5G Network Architecture and Design Update - Jan 2017

Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect at BT recently talked about the architecture update from the Dec 2016 3GPP meeting. The slides and the video is embedded below.





You can see all the presentations from IET event 'Towards 5G Mobile Technology – Vision to Reality' here.

Eiko Seidel recently also wrote an update from 3GPP 5G Adhoc regarding RAN Internal Functional Split. You can read that report here.

Related posts:

Friday, 1 July 2016

EE's vision of Ultra-Reliable Emergency Network


Many of my readers would be aware that UK is probably the first country to have decided to move its emergency services network from an existing TETRA network to a commercial LTE network operated by EE.

While some people have hailed this as a very bold move in the right direction, there is no shortage of critics. Around 300,000 emergency services users will share the same infrastructure used by over 30 million general users.

The following is from an article in Wireless Magazine:

Steve Whatson, deputy director Delivery, Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP) – the organisation within the UK Home Office procuring ESN – assured delegates that ESN will match the existing dedicated Airwave emergency services communication network in terms of coverage for roads, outdoor hand portable devices and marine coverage. Air to ground (A2G) will extend its reach from 6,000ft to 12,000ft.

Whatson also pointed out that coverage is not one single piece, but will comprise a number of different elements, which all need to mesh into one seamless network run by the ESN Lot 3 Mobile Services (main 4G network) provider – EE.

This includes: EE’s main commercial 4G network; Extended Area Services (hard-to-reach areas of the UK where new passive sites are to be built under a separate contract and then equipped with EE base stations); air-to-ground; London Underground; Crossrail; marine coverage (to 12 nautical miles); and special coverage solutions.

EE is currently rolling out new 4G sites – it will eventually have some 19,500 sites – and is upgrading others with 800MHz spectrum, which propagates over longer distances and is better at penetrating buildings than its other 4G spectrum holdings. Crucially for ESN, it is also switching on a Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capability, starting with the UK’s main cities.
...
Mission critical networks must be always available and have levels of resilience far in excess of commercial networks. Speaking exclusively to Wireless in early May, Tom Bennett, group director Technology Services, Architecture & Devices at EE, said: ‘We already achieve a very high availability level, but what the Home Office was asking for effectively was about a 0.3% increase against our existing commercial availability levels.

‘Now for every 0.1% increase in availability there is a significant investment because you are at the extreme top end of the curve where it is harder and harder to make a noticeable difference.’

There are very specific requirements for coverage and availability of the ESN network for the UK road system. Bennett says: ‘Mobile is based on a probability of service. No more than 1% of any constabulary’s roads are allowed to be below 75% availability, and on major roads it is 96% availability. A coverage gap in this context is no more than 1km.’

The current Airwave network has approximately 4,000 sites, many with back-up generators on site with fuel for seven days of autonomous running if the main power is cut, along with a range of resilient backhaul solutions.

Bennett says that out of EE’s 18,500 sites it has about the same number of unique coverage sites (ie. no overlapping coverage) – around 4,000. ‘As part of our investment programme, those unique coverage sites will need a significant investment in the causes of unavailability – ie. resilient backhaul and back-up batteries.’

He explains that EE has undertaken a lot of analysis of what causes outages on its network, and it has combined that data with the Home Office’s data on where the natural disasters in the UK have occurred over the past 10 years.

From this, EE is able to make a reasonable assessment of which sites are likely to be out of action due to flooding or other disasters for more than three or four days. ‘For those sites – and it is less than 4,000 – you need generators too, because you may not be able to physically access the sites for some days,’ says Bennett.

For obvious reasons, the unique coverage sites are mostly in rural areas. But as Bennett points out, the majority of cases where the emergency services are involved is where people are – suburban and urban areas.

‘In these areas EE has overlapping coverage from multiple sites to meet the capacity requirements, so if a site goes down, in the majority of cases we have compensation coverage. A device can often see up to five tower sites in London, for example,’ he says.

Having adequate backhaul capacity – and resilient backhaul at that – is vital in any network. Bennett says EE is installing extra backhaul, largely microwave and fibre, but other solutions will also be used including satellite and LTE relay from base station to base station – daisy chaining. On 9 May 2016, EE announced a deal with satellite provider Avanti to provide satellite backhaul in some areas of the UK.

Additional coverage and resilience will be offered by RRVs (rapid response vehicles), which EE already has in its commercial network today, for example, to provide extra capacity in Ascot during the racing season.

‘We would use similar, although not exactly the same technology for disaster recovery and site/service recovery, but with all the backhaul solutions,’ says Bennett. ‘Let’s say we planned some maintenance or upgrade work that involved taking the base station out for a while.

‘We’d talk to the chief inspector before the work commences. If he says, there’s no chance of doing that tonight, we can put the RRV there, and provided we maintain coverage, we can carry out the work. RRVs are a very good tool for doing a lot of things.’

At the British APCO event, Mansoor Hanif, director of Radio Access Networks at EE said it was looking at the possibility of using ‘airmasts’ to provide additional coverage. Meshed small cells, network in a box and repeater solutions are becoming available for these ‘airmasts’, which will provide coverage from balloons, or UAVs – tethered drones with power cables and optical fibre connected to them.

Mansoor Hanif, Director of RAN at EE gave a presentation on this at Critical Communications World 2016 and has also given an interview. Both are embedded below.






Feel free to let me know if you believe this will work or not and why.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

End to end and top to bottom network design…


A good way to start 2016 is by a lecture delivered by Andy Sutton, EE at the IET conference 'Towards 5G Mobile Technology – Vision to Reality'. The slides and the video are both embedded below. The video also contains Q&A at the end which people may find useful.




Videos of all other presentations from the conference are available here for anyone interested.

Monday, 9 November 2015

5G and Evolution of the Inter-connected Network


While there are many parameters to consider when designing the next generation network, speed is the simplest one to understand and sell to the end user.

Last week, I did a keynote at the International Telecom Sync Forum (ITSF) 2015. As an analyst keynote, I looked at how the networks are evolving and getting more complex, full of interesting options and features available for the operator to decide which ones to select.

There wont just be multiple generations of technologies existing at the same time but there will also be small cells based networks, macro networks, drones and balloons based networks and satellite based networks.

My presentation is embedded below. For any reason, if you want to download it, please fill the form at the bottom of this page and download.



Just after my keynote, I came across this news in Guardian about 'Alphabet and Facebook develop rival secret drone plans'; its an interesting read. As you may be aware Google is actively working with Sri Lanka and Indonesia for providing seamless internet access nationally.


It was nice to hear EE provide the second keynote which focused on 5G. I especially liked this slide which summarised their key 5G research areas. Their presentation is embedded below and available to download from slideshare.




The panel discussion was interesting as well. As the conference focused on timing and synchronisation, the questions were on those topics too. I have some of them below, interested to hear your thoughts:

  • Who cares about syncing the core? - Everything has moved to packets, the only reason for sync is to coordinate access points in wireless for higher level services. We have multiple options to sync the edge, why bother to sync the core at all?
  • We need synchronisation to improve the user’s experience right? - Given the ever improving quality of the time-bases embedded within equipment, what exactly would happen to the user experience if synchronisation collapsed… or is good sync all about operators experience?
  • IoT… and the impact on synchronisation- can we afford it? - M2M divisions of network operators make a very small fraction of the operator’s revenue, is that going to change and will it allow the required investment in sync technology that it might require?

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Challenges in the future 'Network of Networks'

Came across this paper from Dec. 2000 recently. Its interesting to see that even back then researchers were thinking about multiple networks that a user can have access to via handovers. Researchers nowadays think about how to access as many networks as possible simultaneously. I call is Multi-stream aggregation (MSA), some others call it Multi-RAT Carrier Aggregation (MCA) and so on.

If we look at the different access technologies, each has its own evolution in the coming years. Some of these are:

  • Fixed/Terrestrial broadband: (A)DSL, Cable, Fiber
  • Mobile Broadband: 3G, 4G and soon 5G
  • Wireless Broadband: WiFi
  • Laser communications
  • LiFi or LED based communications
  • High frequency sound based communications 
Then there could be a combination of multiple technologies working simultaneously. For example:
And the handover has to be seamless between different access technologies. For example:

There has been an interest in moving on to higher frequencies. These bands can be used for access as well as backhaul. The same applies for most of the access technologies listed above which can work as a backhaul to enable other access technologies.

While planned networks would be commonplace, other topologies like mesh network will gain ground too. Device to device and direct communications will help create ad-hoc networks.

While the current networks are mostly stationary, mobile networks will also become common. Opportunity Driven Multiple Access (ODMA) or Multihop Cellular Networks (MCN) would help devices use other devices to reach their destination. Non-standardised proprietary solutions (for example Firechat) will become common too. Security, Privacy and Trust will play an important role here.

Satellite networks, the truly global connectivity providers will play an important role too. While backhauling the small cells on planes, trains and ships will be an important part of satellite networks, they may be used for access too. Oneweb plans to launch 900 micro satellites to provide high speed global connectivity. While communications at such high frequencies mean that small form factor devices like mobile cant receive the signals easily, connected cars could use the satellite connectivity very well.

Samsung has an idea to provide connectivity through 4,600 satellites to be able to transmit 200GB monthly to 5 Billion people worldwide. While this is very ambitious, its not the only innovative and challenging idea. I am sure we all now about the Google loon. Facebook on the other hand wants to use a solar powered drone (UAV) to offer free internet access services to users who cannot get online.

As I mentioned, security and privacy will be a big challenge for devices being able to connect to multiple access networks and other devices. An often overlooked challenge is the timing and sync between different networks. In an ideal world all these networks would be phase and time synchronised to each other so as not to cause interference but in reality this will be a challenging task, especially with ad-hoc and moing networks.



I will be giving a keynote at the ITSF 2015 in November at Edinburgh. This is a different type of conference that looks at Time and Synchronisation aspects in Telecoms. While I will be providing a generic overview on where the technologies are moving (continuing from my presentation in Phase ready conference), I am looking forward to hearing about these challenges and their solutions in this conference.

Andy Sutton (Principal Network Architect) and Martin Kingston (Principal Designer) with EE have shared some of their thought on this topic which is as follows and available to download here.



Sunday, 13 July 2014

Case Study: LTE for real time news gathering by Sky News

Back in May, I had the pleasure of listening to a talk by Richard Pattison from Sky News where he talked about how they have managed to start replacing their Satellite trucks (which are extremely expensive to own and run) with the new solutions using LTE.

One of the advantage of LTE over 3G/HSPA+ is that the uplink is as good as the downlink which wasn't really the case in earlier generations. What this means is that you can use your phone to do a live video call and use that for broadcasting of real time information. The Sky News Tech team has some interesting tweets on this.




An example of the video quality could be seen from this clip here:

The Dejero App is an interesting one that can allow bonding of Cellular + WiFi and provide a combined data rate.


I was having a discussion yesterday on Twitter because we term this bonded cellular and WiFi as 4.5G. There are many proprietary solutions available for using them together but the standardised one is coming in standards soon.

Sky news have managed to set up new standards by having 12 feeds simultaneously broadcasting  (all based on Iphones and Ipads) during the European elections.



All this has been possible due to an amazing 4G network by EE and being able to negotiate a 500GB (0.5TB) data package.


Anyway, you can read the complete paper below:



Saturday, 28 June 2014

EE: The Implications of RAN Architecture Evolution for Transport Networks


Here is a presentation by Andy Sutton, EE from the recent LTE World Summit 2014. Unfortunately the event was too big to be present in all presentations but in his own words, "As always the bullet points don’t tell the full story as there’s considerable narrative that goes with this, however it does stress some major themes."

Slides embedded below, can be downloaded from Slideshare:


Saturday, 17 May 2014

NFV and SDN - Evolution Themes and Timelines


We recently held our first Virtual Networks SIG event in Cambridge Wireless. There were some great presentations. The one by the UK operator EE summarised everything quite well. For those who are not familiar with what NFV and SDN is, I would recommend watching the video on my earlier post here.

One of the term that keeps being thrown around is 'Orchestration'. While I think I understand what it means, there is no easy way to explain it. Here are some things I found on the web that may explain it:
Orchestration means Automation, Provisioning, Coordination and Management of Physical and Virtual resources.  
Intelligent service orchestration primarily involves the principles of SDN whereby switches, routers and applications at Layer 7 can be programmed from a centralized component called the controller with intelligent decisions regarding individual flow routing in real time.
If you can provide a better definition, please do so.
There are quite a few functions and services that can be virtualised and there are some ambitious timelines.

ETSI has been working on NFV and as I recently found out (see tweet below) there may be some 3GPP standardisation activity starting soon.
Anyway, here is the complete presentation by EE:



There was another brilliant presentation by Huawei but the substance was more in the talk, rather than the slides. The slides are here in case you want to see and download.

Related post:



Thursday, 10 April 2014

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

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

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

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

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

The presentation is embedded as follows:



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.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Rise of the "Thing"

Light Reading carried an interesting cartoon on how M2M works. I wouldnt be surprised if some of the M2M applications at present do work like this. Jokes apart, last week the UK operator EE did a very interesting presentation on Scaling the network for the Rise of the Thing.

A question often asked is "What is the difference between the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) and 'Machine to Machine' (M2M)?". This can generate big discussions and can be a lecture on its own. Quora has a discussion on the same topic here. The picture above from the EE presentation is a good way of showing that M2M is a subset of IoT. 

Its also interesting to note how these 'things' will affect the signalling. I often come across people who tell me that since most M2M devices just use small amounts of data transfer, why is there a need to move from GPRS to LTE. The 2G and 3G networks were designed primarily for Voice with Data secondary function. These networks may work well now but what happens when the predicted 50 Billion connected devices are here by 2020 (or 500 Billion by 2030). The current networks would drown in the control signalling that would often result in congested networks. Congestion control is just one of the things 3GPP is working on for M2M type devices as blogged earlier here. In fact the Qualcomm presentation blogged about before does a decent job of comparing various technologies for IoT, see here.

The EE presentation is embedded as follows:



Another good example website I was recently made aware of is http://postscapes.com/internet-of-things-examples/ - worth checking how IoT would help us in the future.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Multi-RAT mobile backhaul for Het-Nets

Recently got another opportunity to hear from Andy Sutton, Principal Network Architect, Network Strategy, EE. His earlier presentation from our Cambridge Wireless event is here. There were many interesting bits in this presentation and some of the ones I found interesting is as follows:

Interesting to see in the above that the LTE traffic in the backhaul is separated by the QCI (QoS Class Identifiers - see here) as opposed to the 2G/3G traffic.




This is EE's implementation. As you may notice 2G and 4G use SRAN (Single RAN) while 3G is separate. As I mentioned a few times, I think 3G networks will probably be switched off before the 2G networks, mainly because there are a lot more 2G M2M devices that requires little data to be sent and not consume lots of energy (which is an issue in 3G), so this architecture may be suited well.


Finally, a practical network implementation which looks different from the text book picture and the often touted 'flat' architecture. Andy did mention that they see a ping latency of 30-50ms in the LTE network as opposed to around 100ms in the UMTS networks.


Mark Gilmour was able to prove this point practically.

Here is the complete presentation: