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Showing posts with label Deutsche Telekom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deutsche Telekom. Show all posts

Monday, 1 May 2017

Variety of 3GPP IoT technologies and Market Status - May 2017



I have seen many people wondering if so many different types of IoT technologies are needed, 3GPP or otherwise. The story behind that is that for many years 3GPP did not focus too much on creating an IoT variant of the standards. Their hope was that users will make use of LTE Cat 1 for IoT and then later on they created LTE Cat 0 (see here and here).

The problem with this approach was that the market was ripe for a solution to a different types of IoT technologies that 3GPP could not satisfy. The table below is just an indication of the different types of technologies, but there are many others not listed in here.


The most popular IoT (or M2M) technology to date is the humble 2G GSM/GPRS. Couple of weeks back Vodafone announced that it has reached a milestone of 50 million IoT connections worldwide. They are also adding roughly 1 million new connections every month. The majority of these are GSM/GPRS.

Different operators have been assessing their strategy for IoT devices. Some operators have either switched off or are planning to switch off they 2G networks. Others have a long term plan for 2G networks and would rather switch off their 3G networks to refarm the spectrum to more efficient 4G. A small chunk of 2G on the other hand would be a good option for voice & existing IoT devices with small amount of data transfer.

In fact this is one of the reasons that in Release-13 GSM is being enhanced for IoT. This new version is known as Extended Coverage – GSM – Internet of Things (EC-GSM-IoT ). According to GSMA, "It is based on eGPRS and designed as a high capacity, long range, low energy and low complexity cellular system for IoT communications. The optimisations made in EC-GSM-IoT that need to be made to existing GSM networks can be made as a software upgrade, ensuring coverage and accelerated time to-market. Battery life of up to 10 years can be supported for a wide range use cases."

The most popular of the non-3GPP IoT technologies are Sigfox and LoRa. Both these technologies have gained significant ground and many backers in the market. This, along with the gap in the market and the need for low power IoT technologies that transfer just a little amount of data and has a long battery life motivated 3GPP to create new IoT technologies that were standardised as part of Rel-13 and are being further enhanced in Rel-14. A summary of these technologies can be seen below


If you look at the first picture on the top (modified from Qualcomm's original here), you will see that these different IoT technologies, 3GPP or otherwise address different needs. No wonder many operators are using the unlicensed LPWA IoT technologies as a starting point, hoping to complement them by 3GPP technologies when ready.

Finally, looks like there is a difference in understanding of standards between Ericsson and Huawei and as a result their implementation is incompatible. Hopefully this will be sorted out soon.


Market Status:

Telefonica has publicly said that Sigfox is the best way forward for the time being. No news about any 3GPP IoT technologies.

Orange has rolled out LoRa network but has said that when NB-IoT is ready, they will switch the customers on to that.

KPN deployed LoRa throughout the Netherlands thereby making it the first country across the world with complete coverage. Haven't ruled out NB-IoT when available.

SK Telecom completed nationwide LoRa IoT network deployment in South Korea last year. It sees LTE-M and LoRa as Its 'Two Main IoT Pillars'.

Deutsche Telekom has rolled out NarrowBand-IoT (NB-IoT) Network across eight countries in Europe (Germany, the Netherlands, Greece, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Croatia)

Vodafone is fully committed to NB-IoT. Their network is already operational in Spain and will be launching in Ireland and Netherlands later on this year.

Telecom Italia is in process of launching NB-IoT. Water meters in Turin are already sending their readings using NB-IoT.

China Telecom, in conjunction with Shenzhen Water and Huawei launched 'World's First' Commercial NB-IoT-based Smart Water Project on World Water Day.

SoftBank is deploying LTE-M (Cat-M1) and NB-IoT networks nationwide, powered by Ericsson.

Orange Belgium plans to roll-out nationwide NB-IoT & LTE-M IoT Networks in 2017

China Mobile is committed to 3GPP based IoT technologies. It has conducted outdoor trials of NB-IoT with Huawei and ZTE and is also trialing LTE-M with Ericsson and Qualcomm.

Verizon has launched Industry’s first LTE-M Nationwide IoT Network.

AT&T will be launching LTE-M network later on this year in US as well as Mexico.

Sprint said it plans to deploy LTE Cat 1 technology in support of the Internet of Things (IoT) across its network by the end of July.

Further reading:

Thursday, 20 April 2017

5G: Architecture, QoS, gNB, Specifications - April 2017 Update


The 5G NR (New Radio) plan was finalised in March (3GPP press release) and as a result Non-StandAlone (NSA) 5G NR will be finalised by March 2018. The final 3GPP Release-15 will nevertheless include NR StandAlone (SA) mode as well.

NSA is based on Option 3 (proposed by DT). If you dont know much about this, then I suggest listening to Andy Sutton's lecture here.


3GPP TR 38.804: Technical Specification Group Radio Access Network; Study on New Radio Access Technology; Radio Interface Protocol Aspects provides the overall architecture as shown above

Compared to LTE the big differences are:

  • Core network control plane split into AMF and SMF nodes (Access and Session Management Functions). A given device is assigned a single AMF to handle mobility and AAA roles but can then have multiple SMF each dedicated to a given network slice
  • Core network user plane handled by single node UPF (User Plane Function) with support for multiple UPF serving the same device and hence we avoid need for a common SGW used in LTE. UPF nodes may be daisy chained to offer local breakout and may have parallel nodes serving the same APN to assist seamless mobility.

Hat tip Alistair Urie.
Notice that like eNodeB (eNB) in case of LTE, the new radio access network is called gNodeB (gNB). Martin Sauter points out in his excellent blog that 'g' stands for next generation.

3GPP TS 23.501: Technical Specification Group Services and System Aspects; System Architecture for the 5G System; Stage 2 provides architecture model and concepts including roaming and non-roaming architecture. I will probably have to revisit as its got so much information. The QoS table is shown above. You will notice the terms QFI (QoS Flow Identity) & 5QI (5G QoS Indicator). I have a feeling that there will be a lot of new additions, especially due to URLLC.

Finally, here are the specifications (hat tip Eiko Seidel for his excellent Linkedin posts - references below):
5G NR will use 38 series (like 25 series for 3G & 36 series for 4G).

RAN3 TR 38.801 v2.0.0 on Study on New Radio Access Technology; Radio Access Architecture and Interfaces

RAN1 TR 38.802 v2.0.0 on Study on New Radio (NR) Access Technology; Physical Layer Aspects

RAN4 TR 38.803 v2.0.0 on Study on New Radio Access Technology: RF and co-existence aspects

RAN2 TR 38.804 v1.0.0 on Study on New Radio Access Technology; Radio Interface Protocol Aspects

38.201 TS Physical layer; General description
38.211 TS Physical channels and modulation
38.212 TS Multiplexing and channel coding
38.213 TS Physical layer procedures
38.214 TS Physical layer measurements
38.21X TS Physical layer services provided to upper layer
38.300 TS Overall description; Stage-2
38.304 TS User Equipment (UE) procedures in idle mode
38.306 TS User Equipment (UE) radio access capabilities
38.321 TS Medium Access Control (MAC) protocol specification
38.322 TS Radio Link Control (RLC) protocol specification
38.323 TS Packet Data Convergence Protocol (PDCP) specification
38.331 TS Radio Resource Control (RRC); Protocol specification
37.3XX TS [TBD for new QoS]
37.3XX TS Multi-Connectivity; Overall description; Stage-2
38.401 TS Architecture description
38.410 TS NG general aspects and principles
38.411 TS NG layer 1
38.412 TS NG signalling transport
38.413 TS NG Application Protocol (NGAP)
38.414 TS NG data transport
38.420 TS Xn general aspects and principles
38.421 TS Xn layer 1
38.422 TS Xn signalling transport
38.423 TS Xn Application Protocol (XnAP)
38.424 TS Xn data transport
38.425 TS Xn interface user plane protocol
38.101 TS User Equipment (UE) radio transmission and reception
38.133 TS Requirements for support of radio resource management
38.104 TS Base Station (BS) radio transmission and reception
38.307 TS Requirements on User Equipments (UEs) supporting a release-independent frequency band
38.113 TS Base Station (BS) and repeater ElectroMagnetic Compatibility (EMC)
38.124 TS Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) requirements for mobile terminals and ancillary equipment
38.101 TS User Equipment (UE) radio transmission and reception
38.133 TS Requirements for support of radio resource management
38.104 TS Base Station (BS) radio transmission and reception
38.141 TS Base Station (BS) conformance testing

Note that all specifications are not in place yet. Use this link to navigate 3GPP specs: http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/archive/38_series/

Further reading:



Friday, 23 September 2016

5G New Radio (NR), Architecture options and migration from LTE


You have probably read about the demanding requirements for 5G in many of my blog posts. To meet these demanding requirements a 'next-generation radio' or 'new radio' (NR) will be introduced in time for 5G. We dont know as of yet what air interface, modulation technology, number of antennas, etc. for this NR but this slide above from Qualcomm gives an idea of what technologies will be required for this 5G NR.
The slide above gives a list of design innovations that will be required across diverse services as envisioned by 5G proponents.

It should be mentioned that Rel-10/11/12 version of LTE is referred to as LTE-Advanced and Rel-13/14 is being referred to as LTE-A Pro. Rel-15 will probably have a new name but in various discussions its being referred to as eLTE.

When first phase of 5G arrives in Rel-15, eLTE would be used for access network and EPC will still be used for core network. 5G will use NR and eventually get a new core network, probably in time for phase 2. This is often referred to as next generation core network (NGCN).

The slides below from Deutsche Telekom show their vision of how operators should migrate from eLTE to 5G.



The slides below from AT&T show their vision of LTE to 5G migration.



Eiko Seidel posted the following in 3GPP 5G standards group (i recommend you join if you want to follow technical discussions)


Summary RAN1#86 on New Radio (5G) Gothenburg, Sweden

At this meeting RAN1 delegates presented and discussed numerous evaluation results mainly in the areas of waveforms and channel coding.

Nonetheless RAN1 was not yet prepared to take many technical decisions. Most agreements are still rather general. 

First NR terminology has been defined. For describing time structures mini-slots have been introduced: a mini-slot is the smallest possible scheduling unit and smaller than a slot or a subframe.

Discussions on waveforms favored filtered and windowed OFDM. Channel coding discussions were in favor of LDPC and Turbo codes. But no decisions have been made yet.

Not having taken many decisions at this meeting, RAN1 now is behind its schedule for New Radio.
Hopefully the lag can be made up at two additional NR specific ad hoc meetings that have been scheduled for January and June 2017.

(thanks to my colleague and friend Dr. Frank Kowalewski for writing this short summary!)

Yet another post from Eiko on 3GPP RAN 3 on related topic.

The RAN3 schedule is that in February 2017 recommendations can be made for a protocol architecture.  In the meeting arguments came up by some parties that the work plan is mainly addressing U-Plane architecture and that split of C- and U-plane is not considered sufficiently. The background is that the first step will be dual connectivity with LTE using LTE RRC as control plane and some companies would like to concentrate on this initially. It looks like that a prioritization of features might happen in November timeframe. Beside UP and CP split, also the functional split between the central RAN node and the distributed RAN node is taking place for the cloud RAN fronthaul interface. Besides this, also discussion on the fronthaul interface takes place and it will be interesting to see if RAN3 will take the initiative to standardize a CPRI like interface for 5G. Basically on each of the three interfaces controversial discussion is ongoing.

Yet another basic question is, what is actually considered as a “New 5G RAN”? Is this term limited to a 5G eNB connected to the NG core? Or can it also be also an eLTE eNB with Dual Connectivity to 5G? Must this eLTE eNB be connected to the 5G core or is it already a 5G RAN when connected to the EPC? 

Finally, a slide from Qualcomm on 5G NR standardization & launch.


Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Case Study: RAN Sharing in Poland


The last post on Network sharing by NEC was surprisingly popular so I thought its worth doing a case study by Orange in Poland on how they successfully managed to share their network with T-Mobile. Full presentation embedded as follows:


Friday, 23 August 2013

How Cyber-Attacks Can Impact M2M Infrastructure


An Interesting presentation from Deutsche Telekom in the Network Security Conference which highlights some of the issues faced by the M2M infrastructure. With 500 Billion devices being predicted, security will have to be stepped up for the M2M infrastructures to work as expected. Complete presentation embedded below:


Friday, 22 October 2010

IMB and TDtv (and DVB-H)

Its long time since I blogged about TDtv. Its been quite a while since I heard about TDtv. Apparently its been superseded by IMB, aka. Integrated Mobile Broadcast.



IMB is used to stream live video and store popular content on the device for later consumption. This results in a significant offloading of data intensive traffic from existing 3G unicast networks and an improved customer experience. The multimedia client features an intuitive electronic program guide, channel grid and embedded video player for live TV viewing and video recording. All IMB applications can be quickly and cost-effectively adapted to support all major mobile operating systems and different mobile device types, including smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

IMB was defined in the 3GPP release 8 standards, and was recently endorsed by the GSMA as their preferred method for the efficient delivery of broadcast services. In June 2010, O2, Orange and Vodafone – three of the five major UK mobile operators – announced that they have teamed up for a three-month trial that will explore IMB wireless technology within a tranche of 3G TDD spectrum.

This spectrum already forms part of the 3G licenses held by many European mobile operators, but has remained largely unused because of a lack of appropriate technology. Currently, 3G TDD spectrum is available to over 150 operators across 60 countries, covering more than half a billion subscribers. IMB enables spectrally efficient delivery of broadcast services in the TDD spectrum based on techniques that are aligned with existing FDD WCDMA standards. This enables a smooth handover between IMB and existing 3G networks.

Issues that previously limited uptake of IMB, or IPWireless' tdTV system, have now all been addressed. Namely, the standard now allows for smooth handover between IMB and unicast delivery; has the potential to be integrated onto a single W-CDMA chip rather than requiring a separate chip; and has resolved interference issues with FDD W-CDMA, at least for spectrum in the 1900MHz to 1910MHz range.

IP Wireless already had a trial at Orange and T-Mobile in the UK (which have just agreed to merge), but in that pilot each 5MHz segment only gave rise to 14 TV channels per operator. The new standard could support 40 separate TV channels if two operators shared their TDD spectrum.

The GSMA announced its support and is backed up with additional support from both IPWireless and Ericsson as well as operators Orange, Softbank and Telstra.

There have been recently quite a few bad news for DVB-H and on top of that IP Wireless has announced that Samsung is going to be releasing phones with IMB support so it may be that we will see IMB sometime next year.

The GSMA paper that details IMB service scenarios and System requirements is embedded below:

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

VoLGA: Bringing Voice to LTE

Voice is becoming an Important issue for seamless introduction of LTE services. Even though most people think that LTE will start with the Broadband Dongles, it is important to resolve the issue sooner rather than later.



VoLGA Forum is one such body proposing a solution and its backed by quite a few well known industry players.



In the LTE World Summit, Franz Seiser of T-Mobile Germany spoke about VoLGA. Here is a summary from his presentation:

In order to ensure LTE will be used as much as possible, voice-and messaging services need to be supported on LTE networks in high quality asearly as possible.

The main Drivers being:
  • Ensure acceptance of LTE as an possible next generation PLMN
  • Shift traffic to new network as fast as possible
  • Avoid price competition with DSL
The industry needs a stable, scalable voice and SMS solution forLTE:
  • delivering a seamless user experience (voice hand-over to existing 2G/3G networks)
  • with proven, commercial quality
  • availability in 2010 (SMS) /2011 (voice) latest

In a post earlier, I discussed about the possible voice options for LTE and that generated quite a discussion relating to GAN. Recently Dean Bubley and Martin Sauter have covered this VoLGA issue and in general Voice over LTE in far more detail than I have earlier or even in this post. Please see the links at the bottom to read their post details.

Specified 3GPP solutions for Voice/SMS in LTE do not meet all requirements because:

CS Fallback ruled out due to customer experience and non-LTE usage

  • issues with customer experience (call set-up time increase >1.5sec., no parallel voice/data if legacy network is 2G w/o DTM)
  • not using LTE radio for voice
  • requires changes to Rel-4 architecture MSC-Servers
  • has much more impacts than originally envisaged

IMS based solution has very high complexity; availability and stability notfeasible in time, roaming eco-system is not yet existent

  • solution would consist of IMS platform, various application servers and a major upgrade/change to Rel-4 architecture MSC-Servers
  • no eco-system in place yet for IMS voice/SMS roaming and interconnect (only GPRS data or CS eco-systems are available today)
  • solution requires updates/changes to quite many IT systems and processes as well

Key Objectives for Voice/SMS over LTE Solution is to Re-use as much as possible of existing systems, mechanism and eco-system while avoiding proprietary extensions to 3GPP nodes

  • build upon existing Rel-4 CS network and investments
  • “do not touch the MSC”
  • build upon fully 3GPP compliant Rel-8 EPC/LTE network
  • re-use existing CS roaming/inter-connect regime
  • minimise impact on UE, especially on user-interface

As a result, the simplest solution is “Voice over LTE Generic Access” or VoLGA



What is VoLGA?
  • A technological approach for delivering voice and SMS services over LTE access networks
  • Leverages a mobile operator’s existing core voice network
  • Derived from the existing 3GPP GAN standard

What is the VoLGA Forum?

A group of companies working to…

  • Leverage collective technical skills to define VoLGA specifications
  • Publish proposed specifications via the VoLGA Forum web site (coming soon)
  • Facilitate the easy adoption of VoLGA technology by other vendors and operators

The group is open to interested parties in the mobile community

The main Highlights of VoLGA are:

  • Full service transparency
  • Supports all circuit services over LTE
  • Supports IMS RCS and combinational services (CS+IMS) over LTE
  • Supports handover of active calls between LTE and GSM/UMTS
  • Supports expected LTE femtocell deployments
    • Low risk, low investment
    • Based on well proven 3GPP GAN standard
    • Requires no change to existing MSCs and operational systems
    • Conserves existing, extensive voice interconnection regime


    To keep things simple, VoLGA is the best option available at the moment.

    Further Reading:

    You can search multiple blogs (including mine) in a single search via the 3G4G search here. (Search at the bottom of the page).