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Showing posts with label LTE & 5G World Series. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LTE & 5G World Series. Show all posts

Sunday, 23 October 2016

VoLTE Operator Case Study from LTE Voice Summit


Phil Sheppard, Director of Network Strategy & Architecture, Three UK was the keynote speaker of LTE Voice Summit held in London this month. Its been over a year that Three launched its VoLTE service in the 800MHz band. In fact recently, it has started showing adverts with Maisie Williams (Arya Stark from Game of Thrones) fighting black spots (not spots) with 4G Super-Voice.



As I highlighted in the LTEVoice 2015 summary where China Mobile group vice-president Mr.Liu Aili admitted "VoLTE network deployment is the one of the most difficult project ever, the implementation complexity and workload is unparalleled in history", Three UK's experience wasn't very different. Quoting from ThinkSmallCell summary of the event:
It was a huge project, the scope far exceeding original expectations and affecting almost every part of their operations.  They spent 22,245 man days (excluding vendor staff time) – more than 100 man years of effort – mostly involved with running huge numbers of test cases on the network and devices.

There are some other interesting bits from the different summaries that are provided in references below but here are few things I found of interest with regards to Three UK VoLTE deployment:
  • 170 million voice calls minutes have used VoLTE since the launch in Sept 2015
  • Only devices that can support VoLTE and 800MHz are allowed to camp on 800MHz band. This is to avoid disappointment with CS Fallback
  • There are plans to roll out VoLTE in other bands too once all niggles are ironed out in the 800MHz band.

Here is the presentation from 3 UK:



Blog posts summarizing LTEVoice 2016:

Related posts:

Friday, 7 October 2016

Whats up with VoLTE Roaming?

I have been covering the LTE Voice Summit for last couple of years (see here: 2015 & 2014) but this year I wont be around unfortunately. Anyway, I am sure there will be many interesting discussions. From my point of view, the 2 topics that have been widely discussed is roaming and VoWiFi.

One of the criticisms of VoWiFi is that it does not the QoS aspect is missing, which makes VoLTE special. In a recent post, I looked at the QoS in VoWiFi issue. If you haven't seen it, see here.

Coming back to VoLTE roaming, I came across this recent presentation by Orange.
This suggests that S8HR is a bad idea, the focus should be on LBO. For anyone who is not aware of the details of S8HR & LBO, please see my earlier blog post here. What this presentation suggests is to use LBO with no MTR (Mobile Termination Rates) but instead use TAP (Transferred Account Procedures). The presentation is embedded below:



Another approach that is not discussed too much but seems to be the norm at the moment is the use of IP eXchange (IPX). I also came across this other panel discussion on the topic


IPX is already in use for data roaming today and acts as a hub between different operators helping to solve inter-operability issues and mediating between roaming models. It can work out based on the calling and callee party what kind of quality and approach to use.

Here is the summary of the panel discussion:



Hopefully the LTE Voice Summit next week will provide some more insights. I look forward to hearing them.

Blog posts on related topics:

Monday, 26 September 2016

QoS in VoWiFi

Came across this presentation by Eir from last year's LTE Voice Summit.



As the summary of the above presentation says:
  • Turning on WMM (or WME) at access point provides significant protection for voice traffic against competing wireless data traffic
  • Turning on WMM at the client makes only a small difference where there are a small number of clients on the wireless LAN. This plus the “TCP Unfairness” problem means that it can be omitted.
  • All Home gateways support WMM but their firmware may need to be altered to prioritise on DSCP rather than layer two

As this Wikipedia entry explains:

Wireless Multimedia Extensions (WME), also known as Wi-Fi Multimedia (WMM), is a Wi-Fi Alliance interoperability certification, based on the IEEE 802.11e standard. It provides basic Quality of service (QoS) features to IEEE 802.11 networks. WMM prioritizes traffic according to four Access Categories (AC): voice (AC_VO), video (AC_VI), best effort (AC_BE), and background (AC_BK). However, it does not provide guaranteed throughput. It is suitable for well-defined applications that require QoS, such as Voice over IP (VoIP) on Wi-Fi phones (VoWLAN).

WMM replaces the Wi-Fi DCF distributed coordination function for CSMA/CA wireless frame transmission with Enhanced Distributed Coordination Function (EDCF). EDCF, according to version 1.1 of the WMM specifications by the Wi-Fi Alliance, defines Access Categories labels AC_VO, AC_VI, AC_BE, and AC_BK for the Enhanced Distributed Channel Access (EDCA) parameters that are used by a WMM-enabled station to control how long it sets its Transmission Opportunity (TXOP), according to the information transmitted by the access point to the station. It is implemented for wireless QoS between RF media.

This blog post describes how the QoS works in case of WMM.



Finally, this slide from Cisco shows how it will all fit together.

Further reading:

Friday, 2 September 2016

Some more thoughts on 5G

5G is often seen as a panacea for everything that is imperfect in mobile technology. Any issues with coverage, capacity, connectivity and speed are all expected to be solved with the arrival of 5G. While I don’t think we will be able to solve all the issues on the table, 5G will hopefully resolve quite a few of them.

Back in June I did an interview with the organizers of 5G World Series where I expressed my views for the questions that were posed to me. You can see this interview below.


Now that I have had time to think about the questions, here are a bit more detailed thoughts. As always, feedback, comments & suggestions welcome


Q: What will network architecture look like in the 5G era?

I have long argued that 5G will not be a single technology but a combination of multiple old and new technologies. You will often find various terms like Multi-stream Aggregation (MSA), Opportunistic Aggregation and Multi-connectivity being used to explain this. Not only will 2G, 3G and 4G have a role to play, Wi-Fi and other unlicensed technologies would be a part of 5G too.

I have had many discussions on this topic with respected analysts and many of them agree.
One of the approaches being proposed for the initial version of 5G is the non-standalone version of 5G which will use LTE as the control plane anchor and new 5G radio for user plane. Not only will this be easier to deploy along with the existing LTE network, it would be faster and hopefully less costly.

Q: To what extent is 5G dependent on virtualization?

Networks and Network Functions are progressively being virtualized, independently of 5G. Having said that, virtualization will play a big role in achieving the 5G architecture. Mobile operators can’t be expected to keep paying for proprietary hardware; virtualization would help with cost reduction and quick deployments.

Network slicing for instance will help partition the network for different requirements, on the fly depending on what is going on at any particular time.

Related post: 5G, NFV and Network Slicing


Q: What is your view on the interplay between standards and open-source developments?

Standards enable cost reduction by achieving economy of scale whereas open-source development enable innovation and quick deployment. They are both needed and they will willingly or unwillingly co-exist.


Q: What do you see as the 3 greatest technical uncertainties or challenges on route to 5G?

While there are many known and unknown challenges with 5G, some obvious ones that we can see are:

  • Spectrum identification and harmonization.
  • Getting to the right architecture which is backward compatible and future proof, without making it too complex
  • SON – Once you have everything in place you have to make many different parts of the network work together with different kinds of loads and traffic. SON will play a crucial role here.


Q: What would 5G actually mean for consumers, business and IoT? / What will 5G allow me to do that I can’t right now with 4G?

There are a lot of interesting use cases being discussed like remote operations and remote controlled cars but most of them do not represent the general consumers and some of them are just gimmicks.

NGMN - 5G Use case families and related examples

I really like the NGMN whitepaper that laid out some simple use cases.

If done properly, 5G will allow:

  • Simplification of the network resulting in low latency – this means that your content will load faster and the delay between requests and responses are small. 
  • Reasonable speed broadband everywhere - This will also depend on the operators’ rollouts plan but different technologies in 5G network would (should) enable a good speed reliable broadband not just in the middle of the cell but also on the edges. In fact, the concept of edges should be looked at in 5G and a solution to avoid data rates falling off should be found.
  • Connectivity on the move – Whether we are talking about connectivity in trains/buses or from public safety point of view, it is important to define group connectivity, direct communications, etc.


Q: What will set companies apart in the development of 5G?

The days of vendor lock-ins are over. What will set companies apart is their willingness to be open to working with other companies by having open API’s and interfaces. Operator networks will include solutions from many different vendors. For them to be quick to bring innovative solutions to the market, they need vendors to work together rather than against each other.


Q: There is a lot of talk about the vision for 2020. What do you think the world will look like in terms of connectivity in 2030?

It would be fair to say that by 2030, connectivity would have reached a completely new dimension. One of the big areas of development that is being ignored by mainstream mobile community is the development of satellite communications. There are many low earth orbit (LEO) constellations and high-throughput satellites (HTS) being developed. These LEO and HTS combination can provide high speed connectivity with 4G like latency and high throughputs for planes/ships which cannot be served by ground based mobile technology. Broadband access everywhere will only become a reality with satellite technology complementing mobile technology.

Related Post: The role of satellites in 5G world

Disclaimer: This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and this post expresses my own personal views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. 

Sunday, 14 August 2016

3GPP Release-14 & Release-15 update

3GPP is on track for 5G as per a news item on the 3GPP website. In 5G World in London in June, Erik Guttman, 3GPP TSG SA Chairman, and Consultant for Samsung Electronics spoke about progress on Release-14 and Release-15. Here is his presentation.



According to 3GPP:

The latest plenary meeting of the 3GPP Technical Specifications Groups (TSG#72) has agreed on a detailed workplan for Release-15, the first release of 5G specifications.
The plan includes a set of intermediate tasks and check-points (see graphic below) to guide the ongoing studies in the Working Groups. These will get 3GPP in a position to make the next major round of workplan decisions when transitioning from the ongoing studies to the normative phase of the work in December 2016:- the start of SA2 normative work on Next Generation (NexGen) architecture and in March 2017:- the beginning of the RAN Working Group’s specification of the 5G New Radio (NR).
3GPP TSG RAN further agreed that the target NR scope for Release 15 includes support of the following:
  • ■ Standalone and Non-Standalone NR operation (with work for both starting in conjunction and running together)
    • ■ Non-standalone NR in this context implies using LTE as control plane anchor. Standalone NR implies full control plane capability for NR.
    • ■ Some potential architecture configuration options are shown in RP-161266 for information and will be analyzed further during the study
  • ■ Target usecases: Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), as well as Low Latency and High Reliability to enable some Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communications (URLCC) usecases
  • ■ Frequency ranges below 6GHz and above 6GHz
During the discussion at TSG#72 the importance of forward compatibility - in both radio and protocol design - was stressed, as this will be key for phasing-in the necessary features, enabling all identified usecases, in subsequent releases of the 5G specification.


Telecom TV has posted a video interview with Erik Guttman which is embedded below:



Related posts:



Monday, 1 August 2016

Antenna evolution: From 4G to 5G


I came across this simple Introduction to Antenna Design videos that many will find useful (including myself) for the basics of Antenna. Its embedded below:


In the recently concluded 5G World 2016, Maximilian Göttl, Senior Director, Research & Development, Mobile Communication Systems, Kathrein gave an interesting presentation on Antenna Evolution, from 4G to 5G. The presentation is embedded below.

Please share your thoughts in this area in the comments section below.



Thursday, 21 July 2016

Next Generation SON for 5G

There were quite a few interesting presentations in the recently concluded 5G World conference. One that caught my attention was this presentation by Huawei. SON is often something that is overlooked and is expected to be a part of deployment. The problem is that it is often vendor proprietary and does not work as expected when there is equipment from multiple vendors.

While the 4G SON in theory solves the issues that network face today, 5G SON will have to go much further and work with SDN/NFV and the sliced networks. Its going to be a big challenge and will take many years to get it right.

Here is the Huawei presentation from 5G World:



You may also be interested in:
Feel free to let me know your thoughts as comments.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Quick Summary of LTE Voice Summit 2015 (#LTEVoice)

Last year's summary of the LTE voice summit was very much appreciated so I have created one this year too.

The status of VoLTE can be very well summarised as can be seen in the image above.
‘VoLTE network deployment is the one of the most difficult project ever, the implementation complexity and workload is unparalleled in history’ - China Mobile group vice-president Mr.Liu Aili
Surprisingly, not many presentations were shared so I have gone back to the tweets and the pictures I took to compile this report. You may want to download the PDF from slideshare to be able to see the links. Hope you find it useful.



Related links:

Saturday, 10 October 2015

VoLTE Roaming: LBO, S8HR or HBO

There was an interesting discussion on different roaming scenarios in the LTE Voice Summit on 29th, 30th Sep. in London. The above picture provides a brief summary of these well known options. I have blogged about LBO/RAVEL here and S8HR here. A presentation by NTT Docomo in a GSMA webinar here provides more details on these architectures (slide 29 onwards - though it is more biased towards S8HR).

Ajay Joseph, CTO, iBasis gave an interesting presentation that highlighted the problems present in both these approaches.

In case of LBO, the biggest issue is that the home operator need to do a testing with each roaming partner to make sure VoLTE roaming works smoothly. This will be time consuming and expensive.

In case of S8HR, he provided a very good example. Imagine a VoLTE subscriber from USA is visiting Singapore. He now needs to make a phone call to someone in Indonesia (which is just next to Singapore). The flow of data would be all the way from Singapore to USA to Indonesia and back. This can introduce delays and impact QoE. The obvious advantage of S8HR is that since the call setup and media go to Home PMN (Public Mobile Network), no additional testing with the Visited PMN is required. The testing time is small and rollouts are quicker.

iBasis are proposing a solution called Hub Breakout (HBO) which would offer the best of LBO and S8HR. Each VoLTE operator would need to test their interoperability only with iBasis. Emergency calls and lawful intercept that does not work with S8HR would work with the HBO solution.

While I agree that this is a good solution, I am sure that many operators would not use this solution and there may be other solutions proposed in due course as well. Reminds me of this XKCD cartoon:


Anyway, here is the iBasis presentation:



Saturday, 5 September 2015

HetNets and Ultra Dense Networks



When I did my 5G presentation back in Feb., I explained about Ultra Dense Networks (UDN) that will be a main feature of future traffic hotspots. I have also blogged about Qualcomm having tested 1000 small cells in a square km. Some operators are already running out of spectrum with traditional deployments in hotspots. They are already making their cells smaller (but not yet using Small cells) thereby having less users in each cell. This may not be enough so the approach likely to be taken is:

  • Offload to WiFi
  • Aggregate WiFi with LTE (different approaches including LTE-U, LAA and LWA)
  • Use Small cells and C-RAN
  • Multi technology Carrier Aggregation
  • Beamforming (and massive MIMO)


The above picture is from a presentation (embedded below) by ZTE in the LTE World Summit. Its a good attempt to show different technologies, the year they are expected to go mainstream, whether they are TDD or FDD and if they will form part of 5G.

Anyway, here is the presentation. There is some interesting information on C-RAN, D-RAN results and fronthaul too.



Sunday, 9 August 2015

Diameter Security is worse than SS7 Security?



Back in December last year, there was a flurry of news about SS7 security flaw that allowed hackers to snoop on an unsuspecting users calls and SMS. The blog readers will also be aware that SS7 is being replaced by the Diameter protocol. The main reason being to simplify roaming while at the same time being able to manage the signalling storm in the networks.


The bad news is that while is case of SS7, security issues are due to network implementation and configuration (above pic), the security issues in Diameter seem to be due to the protocol and architecture themselves (below pic)


Diameter is very important for LTE network architecture and will possibly continue in the future networks too. It is very important to identify all such issues and iron them before some hackers start exploiting the network vulnerabilities causing issues for everyone.

The presentation by Cédric Bonnet, Roaming Technical Domain Manager, Orange at Signalling Focus Day of LTE World Summit 2015 is embedded below:


From SS7 to Diameter Security from Zahid Ghadialy

Some important information from this post has been removed due to a valid complaint.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

LTE vs TETRA for Critical Communications

Sometime back I was reading this interview between Martin Geddes and Peter Clemons on 'The Crisis in UK Critical Communications'. If you haven't read it, I urge you to read it here. One thing that stuck out was as follows:

LTE was not designed for critical communications.

Commercial mobile operators have moved from GSM to UMTS to WCDMA networks to reflect the strong growth in demand for mobile data services. Smartphones are now used for social media and streaming video. LTE technology fulfils a need to supply cheap mass market data communications.

So LTE is a data service at heart, and reflects the consumer and enterprise market shift from being predominantly voice-centric to data-centric. In this wireless data world you can still control quality to a degree. So with OFDM-A modulation we have reduced latency. We have improved how we allocate different resource blocks to different uses.

The marketing story is that we should be able to allocate dedicated resources to emergency services, so we can assure voice communications and group calling even when the network is stressed. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Even the 3GPP standards bodies and mobile operators have recognised that there are serious technology limitations.
This means they face a reputational risk in delivering a like-for-like mission-critical voice service.

Won’t this be fixed by updated standards?
The TETRA Critical Communications association (TCCA) began to engage with the 3GPP standards process in 2012. 3GPP then reached out to peers in the USA and elsewhere: the ESMCP project here in the UK, the US FirstNet programme, and the various European associations.

These lobbied 3GPP for capabilities specifically aimed at critical communications requirements. At the Edinburgh meeting in September 2014, 3GPP set up the SA6specification group, the first new group in a decade.

The hope is that by taking the critical communications requirement into a separate stream, it will no longer hold up the mass market release 12 LTE standard. Even with six meetings a year, this SA6 process will be a long one. By the end of the second meeting it had (as might be expected) only got as far as electing the chairman.

It will take time to scope out what can be achieved, and develop the critical communications functionality. For many players in the 3GPP process this is not a priority, since they are focusing solely on mass market commercial applications.

Similar point was made in another Critical communications blog here:

LTE has emerged as a long term possible replacement for TETRA in this age of mobile broadband and data. LTE offer unrivalled broadband capabilities for such applications as body warn video streaming, digital imaging, automatic vehicle location, computer-assisted dispatch, mobile and command centre apps, web access, enriched e-mail, mobile video surveillance apps such as facial recognition, enhanced Telemetry/remote diagnostics, GIS and many more. However, Phil Kidner, CEO of the TCCA pointed out recently that it will take many LTE releases to get us to the point where LTE can match TETRA on key features such as group working, pre-emptive services, network resilience, call set-up times and direct mode.
The result being, we are at a point where we have two technologies, one offering what end users want, and the other offering what end users need. This has altered the discussion, where now instead of looking at LTE as a replacement, we can look at LTE as a complimentary technology, used alongside TETRA to give end users the best of both worlds. Now the challenge appears to be how we can integrate TETRA and LTE to meet the needs and wants of our emergency services, and it seems that if we want to look for guidance and lessons on the possible harmony of TETRA and LTE we should look at the Middle East.
While I was researching, I came across this interesting presentation (embedded below) from the LTE World Summit 2015





The above is an interesting SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis for TETRA and LTE. While I can understand that LTE is yet unproven, I agree on the lack of spectrum and appropriate bands.

I have been told in the past that its not just the technology which is an issue, TETRA has many functionalities that would need to be duplicated in LTE.



As you can see from this timeline above, while Rel-13 and Rel-14 will have some of these features, there are still other features that need to be included. Without which, safety of the critical communication workers and public could be compromised.

The complete presentation as follows. Feel free to voice your opinions via comments.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi) technical details

VoWiFi is certainly a hot topic, thanks to the support of VoWiFi on iPhone 6. A presentation from LTE World Summit 2014 by Taqua on this topic has already crossed 13K views. In this post I intend to look at the different approaches for VoWiFi and throw in some technical details. I am by no means an expert so please feel free to add your input in the comments.

Anybody reading this post is not aware of S2a, S2b, Samog, TWAG, ePDG, etc. and what they are, please refer to our whitepaper on cellular and wi-fi integration here (section 3).

There are two approaches to VoWiFi, native client already in your device or an App that could be either downloaded from the app store or pre-installed. The UK operator '3' has an app known as ThreeInTouch. While on WiFi, this app can make and receive calls and texts. The only problem is that it does not handover an ongoing call from WiFi to cellular and and vice versa. Here are a few slides (slides 36-38) from them from a conference last year:



The other operators have a native client that can use Wi-Fi as the access network for voice calls as well as the data when the device is connected on the WLAN.

A simple architecture can be seen from the picture above. As can be seen, the device can connect to the network via a non-3GPP trusted wireless access network via the TWAG or via a non-3GPP untrusted wireless access network via ePDG. In the latter case, an IPSec tunnel would have to be established between the device and the ePDG. The SIM credentials would be used for authentication purposes so that an intruder cannot access ePDG and the core.

Now, I dont want to talk about VoLTE bearers establishment, etc. which I have already done here earlier. In order to establish S2a (trusted) and S2b (untrusted) connection, the AAA server selects an APN among those which are subscribed to in the HLR/HSS. The PDN-GW (generally referred to as PGW) dynamically assigns an IP address out of a pool of addresses which is associated with this APN. This UE IP address is used by the VoWiFi SIP UA (User Agent) as the contact information when registering to the SIP soft switch (which would typically be the operators IMS network).

If for any reason the SIP UA in the device is not able to use the SIM for authentication (needs ISIM?) then a username/password based authentication credentials can be used (SIP digest authentication).

Typically, there would be a seperate UA for VoLTE and VoWiFi. They would both be generally registering to the same IMS APN using different credentials and contact addresses. The IMS network can deal with multiple registrations from the same subscriber but from different IP addresses (see 3GPP TS 23.237 - 'IMS Service Continuity' for details).

Because of multiple UA's, a new element needs to be introduced in order to 'fork' the downstream media streams (RTP/RTCP packets) to different IP addresses over time.

3GPP has defined the Access Transfer Gateway (ATGW) which is controlled by the Access Transfer Control Function (ATCF); the ATCF interfaces to the IMS and Service Centralization and Continuity Application Server (SCC AS). All these are not shown in the picture above but is available in 3GPP TS 23.237. The IMS networks in use today as well as the one being deployed for VoLTE does not have ATGW/ATCF. As a result vendors have to come up with clever non-standardised solutions to solve the problem.

When there is a handover between 3GPP and non-3GPP networks, the UE IP address needs to be preserved. Solutions like MIP and IPSec have been used in the past but they are not flexible. The Release-12 solution of eSAMOG (see 3GPP TS 23.402) can be used but the solution requires changes in the UE. For the time being we will see proprietary solutions only but hopefully in future there would be standardised solutions available.

3GPP TS 23.234 describes more in detail the interworking of 3GPP based system and WLAN. Interested readers can refer to that for further insight.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

SON Update from 3GPP SA5

Below is a presentation from Christian Toche, 3GPP SA5 chairman in the SON Conference last month. I also blogged about his presentation last year which is available here.



Wednesday, 5 November 2014

2015 will finally be the year of Voice over LTE (VoLTE)


On 4th Nov. 2009, the One Voice initiative was published by 12 companies including AT&T, Orange, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, Verizon, Vodafone, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson. These all agreed that the IMS based solution, as defined by 3GPP, is the most applicable approach to meet their consumers expectations for service quality, reliability and availability when moving from existing CS based voice services to IP based LTE services.

On 15th Feb 2010, GSMA announced that it has adopted the work of the One Voice initiative to drive the global mobile industry towards a standard way of delivering voice and messaging services for LTE. The GSMA’s VoLTE initiative was supported by more than 40 organisations from across the mobile ecosystem, including many of the world’s leading mobile communication service providers, handset manufacturers and equipment vendors, all of whom support the principle of a single, IMS-based voice solution for next-generation mobile broadband networks. This announcement was also supported by 3GPP, Next Generation Mobile Networks alliance (NGMN) and the International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium (IMTC).

GSMA has produces various reference documents that map to the 3GPP standards documents as can be seen above.



As per GSA71 operators are investing in VoLTE studies, trials or deployments, including 11 that have commercially launched HD voice service. The number of HD voice launches enabled by VoLTE is forecast to reach 19 by end-2014 and then double in 2015. In July 2014 GSA confirmed 92 smartphones (including carrier and frequency variants) support VoLTE, including products by Asus, Huawei, LG, Pantech, Samsung and Sony Mobile. The newly-announced Apple iPhone 6 & 6 Plus models support VoLTE.

Things are also moving quickly with many operators who have announced VoLTE launches and are getting more confident day by day. Du, Dubai recently announced Nokia as VoLTE partner. KDDI, Japan is launching au VoLTE in December. Telstra, Australia has already been doing trials and plans to launch VoLTE network in 2015. Finally, Verizon and AT&T will have interoperable VoLTE calls in 2015.

Below is my summary from the LTE Voice Summit 2014. Let me know if you like it.


Saturday, 1 November 2014

4G Security and EPC Threats for LTE

This one is from the LTE World Summit 2014. Even though I was not there for this, I think this has some useful information about the 4G/LTE Security. Presentation as follows:


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Codecs and Quality across VoLTE and OTT Networks

Codecs play an important role in our smartphones. Not only are they necessary and must for encoding/decoding the voice packets but they increase the price of our smartphones too.

A $400 smartphone can have as much as $120 in IPR fees. If you notice in the picture above its $10.60 for the H.264 codec. So its important that the new codecs that will come as part of new generation of mobile technology is free, open source or costs very little.


The new standards require a lot of codecs, some for backward compatibility but this can significantly increase the costs. Its important to make sure the new codecs selected are royalty-free or free license.

The focus of this post is a presentation by Amir Zmora from AudioCodecs in the LTE Voice Summit. The presentation below may not be self-explanatory but I have added couple of links at the bottom of the post where he has shared his thoughts. Its worth a read.



A good explanation of Voice enhancement tools as follows (slide 15):

Adaptive Jitter Buffer (AJB) – Almost all devices today (Smartphones, IP phones, gateways, etc.) have built in jitter buffers. Legacy networks (which were LAN focused when designed) usually have older devices with less sophisticated jitter buffers. When designed they didn’t take into account traffic coming in from networks such as Wi-Fi with its frequent retransmissions and 3G with its limited bandwidth, in which the jitter levels are higher than those in wireline networks. Jitter buffers that may have been planned for, say, dozens of msec may now have to deal with peaks of hundreds of msec. Generally, if the SBC has nothing to mediate (assume the codecs are the same and the Ptime is the same on both ends) it just forwards the packets. But the unexpected jitter coming from the wireless network as described above, requires the AJB to take action. And even if the network is well designed to handle jitter, today’s OTT applications via Smart Phones add yet another variable to the equation. There are hundreds of such devices out there, and the audio interfaces of these devices (especially those of the Android phones) create jitter that is passed into the network. For these situations, too, the AJB is necessary.

To overcome this issue, there is a need for a highly advanced Adaptive Jitter Buffer (AJB) built into the SBC that neutralizes the incoming jitter so that it is handled without problem on the other side. The AJB can handle high and variable jitter rates.

Additionally, the AJB needs to work in what is called Tandem scenarios where the incoming and outgoing codec is the same. This scenario requires an efficient solution that will minimize the added delay. AudioCodes has built and patented solutions supporting this scenario.

Transcoding – While the description above discussed the ability to bypass the need to perform transcoding in the Adaptive Jitter Buffer context, there may very well be a need for transcoding between the incoming and outgoing packet streams. Beyond being able to mediate between different codecs on the different networks on either end of the SBC, the SBC can transcode an incoming codec that is less resilient to packet loss (such as narrowband G.729 or wideband G.722) to a more resilient codec (such as Opus). By transcoding to a more resilient codec, the SBC can lower the effects of packet loss. Transcoding can also lower the bandwidth on the network. Additionally, the SBC can transcode from narrowband (8Khz) to wideband (16Khz) (and vice versa) as well as wideband transcoding, where both endpoints support wideband codecs but are not using the same ones. For example, a wireless network may be using the AMR wideband codec while the wireline network on the other side may be using Opus. Had it not been for the SBC, these two networks would have negotiated a common narrowband codec.

Flexible RTP Redundancy – The SBC can also use RTP redundancy in which voice packets are sent several times to ensure they are received. Redundancy is used to balance networks which are characterized by high packet loss burst. While reducing the effect of packet loss, Redundancy increases the bandwidth (and delay). There are ways to get around this bandwidth issue that are supported by the SBC. One way is by sending only partial packet information (not fully redundant packets). The decoder on the receiving side will know how to handle the partial information. This process is called Forward Error Correction (FEC).

Transrating – Transrating is the process of having more voice payload ‘packed’ into a single RTP packet by increasing the packet intervals, thus changing the Packetization Time or Ptime. Ptime is the time represented by the compression of the voice signals into packets, generally at 20 msec intervals. In combining the payloads of two or more packets into one, the Transrating process causes a reduction in the overhead of the IP headers, lowering the bandwidth and reducing the stress on the CPU resources, however, it increases delay. It thus can be used not only to mediate between two end devices using different Ptimes, but also as a means of balancing the network by reducing bandwidth and reducing CPU pressure during traffic peaks.

Quality-based Routing – Another tool used by the SBC is Quality-based routing. The SBC, which is monitoring all the calls on the network all the time, can decide (based on pre-defined thresholds and parameters) to reroute calls over different links that have better quality.

Further reading:


Saturday, 11 October 2014

A quick update on Antennas

There were couple of very interesting and useful presentations from the LTE World Summit 2014 that I have been thinking for a while to embed in the blog. The first is a market overview from Signals Research Group. The research is focussed more on the US market but it has some very interesting insights. The slideset is embedded below:



The other presentation is from Commscope on Base Station Antennas (BSA) for capacity improvement. I really liked the simplicity of the diagrams. Anyone interested in studying more indepth on the antennas are encouraged to check out my old post here. The complete slideset is below:



Thursday, 18 September 2014

Update on Public Safety and Mission Critical communications

Its been a while since I wrote about Public Safety and Mission Critical communications, so here is a quick summary.


Iain Sharp have a good overview of whats happening in the standards in the LTE World Summit back in June. Embedded below is his complete presentation.



There is another slightly older presentation that I also thought was worthwhile adding here.

There is a lot of discussion centred around the use of commercial networks for mission critical communications, mainly die to cost. While this may make sense to an extent, there should be procedures put in place to give priority to public safety in case of emergency.



We are planning to run a one day training in Jan 2015 on public safety. If this is of interest to you then please get in touch with me for more details.

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After the post someone brought these links to my attention so I am adding them below:

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

LTE Device-to-device (D2D) Use Cases

Device-to-device is a popular topic. I wrote a post, back in March on LTE-Radar (another name) which has already had 10K+ views. Another post in Jan, last year has had over 13K views. In the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of 'proximity services via LTE device broadcast'


While there are some interesting use cases in his presentation (embedded below), I am not sure that they will necessarily achieve success overnight. While it would be great to have a standardised solution for applications that rely on proximity services, the apps have already come up with their own solutions in the meantime.

Image iTunes

The dating app Tinder, for example, finds a date near where you are. It relies on GPS and I agree that some people would say that GPS consumes more power but its already available today.



Another example is "Nearby Friends" from Facebook that allows to find your friends if they are nearby, perfect for a day when you have nothing better to do.

With an App, I can be sure that my location is being shared only for one App. With a standardised solution, all my Apps have info about location that I may not necessarily want. There are pros and cons, not sure which will win here.

Anyway, the complete presentation is embedded below:



For anyone interested in going a bit more in detail about D2D, please check this excellent article by Dr. Alastair Bryon, titled "Opportunities and threats from LTE Device-to-Device (D2D) communication"

Do let me know what you think about the use cases.