Showing posts with label LTE-Advanced. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LTE-Advanced. Show all posts

Sunday, 29 October 2017

5G Forecasts and 5G Deployed Claim

Source: GSA

5G forecasts have been arriving steadily with many different figures. Here are some numbers:

Date Predicted by Number of Connections Year Any other comments
23-Aug-16 Strategy Analytics 690 million 2025 "690M Connections and 300M Handset Shipments"
15-Nov-16 Ericsson 500 million 2022 "North America will lead the way in uptake of 5G subscriptions, where a quarter of all mobile subscriptions are forecast to be for 5G in 2022."
30-Nov-16 ABI Research 500 million 2026 "500 Million 5G cmWave and mmWave Subscribers Will Bring $200 Billion in Service Revenue through 2026" - what about non mmWave/cmWave 5G subs?
12-Apr-17 CCS Insight 100 million 2021 "Smartphones sales will rise to 1.90 billion in 2021, when smartphones will account for 92 percent of the total mobile phone market."
26-Apr-17 GSMA 1.1 billion 2025 "5G connections are set to reach 1.1 billion by 2025, accounting for approximately one in eight mobile connections worldwide by this time."
16-May-17 Ovum 389 million 2022 "Ovum now forecasts that there will be 111 million 5G mobile broadband subscriptions at end-2021, up more than fourfold from Ovum’s previous forecast of 25 million 5G subscriptions at end-2021"
14-Aug-17 Juniper Research 1.4 billion 2025 "an increase from just 1 million in 2019, the anticipated first year of commercial launch. This will represent an average annual growth of 232%."
17-Oct-17 GSMA 214 million in Europe 2025 "30 per cent of Europe’s mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025"
23-Oct-17 CCS Insight 2.6 billion 2025 "1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China", "broadly similar path to 4G LTE technology...more than one in every five mobile connections."

If we just look at 2025/2026, the estimates vary from 500 million to 2.6 billion. I guess we will have to wait and see which of these figures comes true.

I wrote a post earlier titled '4G / LTE by stealth'. Here I talked about the operators who still had 3G networks while most people had 4G phones. The day the operator switched on the 4G network, suddenly all these users were considered to be on 4G, even if they didn't have 4G coverage just yet.

I have a few questions about what 5G features are necessary for the initial rollout and when can an operator claim they have 5G? In fact I asked this question on twitter and I got some interesting answers.

Just having a few 5G NR (new radio) sites enough for an operator to claim that they have deployed 5G? Would all the handsets with 5G compatibility then be considered to be on 5G? What features would be required in the initial rollouts? In case of LTE, operators initially only had Carrier Aggregation deployed, which was enough to claim they supported LTE-A. Would 100MHz bandwidth support be enough as initial 5G feature?

Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Second thoughts about LTE-U / LAA

Its been a while since I wrote about LTE-U / LAA on this blog. I have written a few posts on the small cells blog but they seem to be dated as well. For anyone needing a quick refresher on LTE-U / LAA, please head over to IoTforAll or ShareTechNote. This post is not about the technology per se but the overall ecosystem with LTE-U / LAA (and even Multefire) being part of that.

Lets recap the market status quickly. T-Mobile US has already got LTE-U active and LAA was tested recently. SK Telecom achieved 1Gbps in LAA trials with Ericsson. AT&T has decided to skip the non-standard LTE-U and go to standards based LAA. MTN & Huawei have trialled LAA for in-building in South Africa. All these sound good and inspires confidence in the technology however some observations are worrying me.


Couple of years back when LTE-U idea was conceived, followed by LAA, the 5GHz channels were relatively empty. Recently I have started to see that they are all filling up.

Any malls, hotels, service stations or even big buildings I go to, they all seem to be occupied. While supplemental downlink channels are 20MHz each, the Wi-Fi channels could be 20MHz, 40MHz, 80MHz or even 160MHz.

On many occasions I had to switch off my Wi-Fi as the speeds were so poor (due to high number of active users) and go back to using 4G. How will it impact the supplemental downlink in LTE-U / LAA? How will it impact the Wi-Fi users?

On my smartphone, most days I get 30/40Mbps download speeds and it works perfectly fine for all my needs. The only reason we would need higher speeds is to do tethering and use laptops for work, listen to music, play games or watch videos. Most people I know or work with dont require gigabit speeds at the moment.

Once a user that is receiving high speeds data on their device using LTE-U / LAA creates a Wi-Fi hotspot, it may use the same 5GHz channels as the ones that the network is using for supplemental downlink. How do you manage this interference? I am looking forward to discussions on technical fora where users will be asking why their download speeds fall as soon as they switch Wi-Fi hotspot on.

The fact is that in non-dense areas (rural, sub-urban or even general built-up areas), operators do not have to worry about the network being overloaded and can use their licensed spectrum. Nobody is planning to deploy LTE-U / LAA in these areas. In dense and ultra-dense areas, there are many users, many Wi-Fi access points, ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks and many other sources of interference. In theory LTE-U / LAA can help significantly but as there are many sources of interference,its uncertain if it would be a win-win for everyone or just more interference for everyone to deal with.

Further reading:

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:

Monday, 16 January 2017

Gigabit LTE?


Last year Qualcomm announced the X16 LTE modem that was capable of up to 1Gbps, category 16 in DL and Cat 13 (150 Mbps) in UL. See my last post on UE categories here.


Early January, it announced Snapdragon 835 at CES that looks impressive. Android central says "On the connectivity side of things, there's the Snapdragon X16 LTE modem, which enables Category 16 LTE download speeds that go up to one gigabit per second. For uploads, there's a Category 13 modem that lets you upload at 150MB/sec. For Wi-Fi, Qualcomm is offering an integrated 2x2 802.11ac Wave-2 solution along with an 802.11ad multi-gigabit Wi-Fi module that tops out at 4.6Gb/sec. The 835 will consume up to 60% less power while on Wi-Fi."

Technology purists would know that LTE, which is widely referred to as 4G, was in fact pre-4G or as some preferred to call it, 3.9G. New UE categories were introduced in Rel-10 to make LTE into LTE-Advanced with top speeds of 3Gbps. This way, the ITU requirements for a technology to be considered 4G (IMT-Advanced) was satisfied.


LTE-A was already Gigabit capable in theory but in practice we had been seeing peak speeds of up to 600Mbps until recently. With this off my chest, lets look at what announcements are being made. Before that, you may want to revisit what 4.5G or LTE-Advanced Pro is here.

  • Qualcomm, Telstra, Ericsson and NETGEAR Announce World’s First Gigabit Class LTE Mobile Device and Gigabit-Ready Network. Gigabit Class LTE download speeds are achieved through a combination of 3x carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO on two aggregated carriers plus 2x2 MIMO on the third carrier, and 256-QAM higher order modulation. 
  • TIM in Italy is the first in Europe to launch 4.5G up to 500 Mbps in Rome, Palermo and Sanremo
  • Telenet in partnership with ZTE have achieved a download speed of 1.3 Gbps during a demonstration of the ZTE 4.5G new technology. That's four times faster than 4G's maximum download speed. Telenet is the first in Europe to reach this speed in real-life circumstances. 4.5G ZTE technology uses 4x4 MIMO beaming, 3-carrier aggregation, and a QAM 256 modulation.
  • AT&T said, "The continued deployment of our 4G LTE-Advanced network remains essential to laying the foundation for our evolution to 5G. In fact, we expect to begin reaching peak theoretical speeds of up to 1 Gbps at some cell sites in 2017. We will continue to densify our wireless network this year through the deployment of small cells and the use of technologies like carrier aggregation, which increases peak data speeds. We’re currently deploying three-way carrier aggregation in select areas, and plan to introduce four-way carrier aggregation as well as LTE-License Assisted Access (LAA) this year."
  • T-Mobile USA nearly reached a Gigabit and here is what they say, "we reached nearly 1 Gbps (979 Mbps) on our LTE network in our lab thanks to a combination of three carrier aggregation, 4x4 MIMO and 256 QAM (and an un-released handset)."
  • The other US operator Sprint expects to unveil some of its work with 256-QAM and massive MIMO on Sprint’s licensed spectrum that pushes the 1 gbps speed boundary. It’s unclear whether this will include an actual deployment of the technology

So we are going to see a lot of higher speed LTE this year and yes we can call it Gigabit LTE but lets not forget that the criteria for a technology to be real '4G' was that it should be able to do 1Gbps in both DL and UL. Sadly, the UL part is still not going Gigabit anytime soon.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

New LTE UE Categories (Downlink & Uplink) in Release-13

Just noticed that the LTE UE Categories have been updated since I last posted here. Since Release-12 onwards, we now have a possibility of separate Downlink (ue-CategoryDL) and Uplink (ue-CategoryUL) categories.

From the latest RRC specifications, we can see that now there are two new fields that can be present ue-CategoryDL and ue-CategoryUL.

An example defined here is as follows:

Example of RRC signalling for the highest combination
UE-EUTRA-Capability
   ue-Category = 4
      ue-Category-v1020 = 7
         ue-Category-v1170 = 10
            ue-Category-v11a0 = 12
               ue-CategoryDL-r12 = 12
               ue-CategoryUL-r12 = 13
                  ue-CategoryDL-v1260 = 16

From the RRC Specs:

  • The field ue-CategoryDL is set to values m1, 0, 6, 7, 9 to 19 in this version of the specification.
  • The field ue-CategoryUL is set to values m1, 0, 3, 5, 7, 8, 13 or 14 in this version of the specification.

3GPP TS 36.306 section 4 provides much more details on these UE categories and their values. I am adding these pictures from the LG space website.



More info:



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.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

LTE-Advanced Pro (a.k.a. 4.5G)

3GPP announced back in October that the next evolution of the 3GPP LTE standards will be known as LTE-Advanced Pro. I am sure this will be shortened to LTE-AP in presentations and discussions but should not be confused with access points.

The 3GPP press release mentioned the following:

LTE-Advanced Pro will allow mobile standards users to associate various new features – from the Release’s freeze in March 2016 – with a distinctive marker that evolves the LTE and LTE-Advanced technology series.

The new term is intended to mark the point in time where the LTE platform has been dramatically enhanced to address new markets as well as adding functionality to improve efficiency.

The major advances achieved with the completion of Release 13 include: MTC enhancements, public safety features – such as D2D and ProSe - small cell dual-connectivity and architecture, carrier aggregation enhancements, interworking with Wi-Fi, licensed assisted access (at 5 GHz), 3D/FD-MIMO, indoor positioning, single cell-point to multi-point and work on latency reduction. Many of these features were started in previous Releases, but will become mature in Release 13.

LTE-evolution timelinea 350pxAs well as sign-posting the achievements to date, the introduction of this new marker confirms the need for LTE enhancements to continue along their distinctive development track, in parallel to the future proposals for the 5G era.


Some vendors have been exploring ways of differentiating the advanced features of Release-13 and have been using the term 4.5G. While 3GPP does not officially support 4.5G (or even 4G) terminology, a new term has been welcomed by operators and vendors alike.

I blogged about Release-13 before, here, which includes a 3GPP presentation and 4G Americas whitepaper. Recently Nokia (Networks) released a short and sweet video and a whitepaper. Both are embedded below:



The Nokia whitepaper (table of contents below) can be downloaded from here.


Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Cellular IoT (CIoT) or LoRa?

Back in September, 3GPP reached a decision to standardise NarrowBand IOT (NB-IOT). Now people familiar with the evolution of LTE-A UE categories may be a bit surprised with this. Upto Release-11, the lowest data rate device was UE Cat-1, which could do 10Mbps in DL and 5Mbps in UL. This was power hungry and not really that useful for low data rate sensor devices. Then we got Cat-0 as part of Release-12 which simplified the design and have 1Mbps in DL & UL.

Things start to become a bit complex in Release-13. The above picture from Qualcomm explains the evolution and use cases very well. However, to put more details to the above picture, here is some details from the 4G Americas whitepaper (embedded below)


In support of IoT, 3GPP has been working on all several related solutions and generating an abundance of LTE-based and GSM-based proposals. As a consequence, 3GPP has been developing three different cellular IoT standard- solutions in Release-13:
  • LTE-M, based on LTE evolution
  • EC-GSM, a narrowband solution based on GSM evolution, and
  • NB-LTE, a narrowband cellular IoT solution, also known as Clean Slate technologies
However, in October 2015, the 3GPP RAN body mutually agreed to study the combination of the two different narrowband IoT technical solutions, EC-GSM and NB-LTE, for standardization as a single NB-IoT technology until the December 2015 timeframe. This is in consideration of the need to support different operation modes and avoid divided industry support for two different technical solutions. It has been agreed that NB-IoT would support three modes of operation as follows:
  • ‘Stand-alone operation’ utilizing, for example, the spectrum currently being used by GERAN systems as a replacement of one or more GSM carriers,
  • ‘Guard band operation’ utilizing the unused resource blocks within a LTE carrier’s guard-band, and
  • ‘In-band operation’ utilizing resource blocks within a normal LTE carrier.

Following is a brief description of the various standard solutions being developed at 3GPP by October 2015:

LTE-M: 3GPP RAN is developing LTE-Machine-to-Machine (LTE-M) specifications for supporting LTE-based low cost CIoT in Rel-12 (Low-Cost MTC) with further enhancements planned for Rel-13 (LTE eMTC). LTE-M supports data rates of up to 1 Mbps with lower device cost and power consumption and enhanced coverage and capacity on the existing LTE carrier.

EC-GSM: In the 3GPP GERAN #62 study item “Cellular System Support for Ultra Low Complexity and Low Throughput Internet of Things”, narrowband (200 kHz) CIoT solutions for migration of existing GSM carriers sought to enhance coverage by 20 dB compared to legacy GPRS, and achieve a ten year battery life for devices that were also cost efficient. Performance objectives included improved indoor coverage, support for massive numbers of low-throughput devices, reduced device complexity, improved power efficiency and latency. Extended Coverage GSM (EC-GSM) was fully compliant with all five performance objectives according to the August 2015 TSG GERAN #67 meeting report. GERAN will continue with EC-GSM as a work item within GERAN with the expectation that standards will be frozen by March 2016. This solution necessarily requires a GSM network.

NB-LTE: In August 2015, work began in 3GPP RAN Rel-13 on a new narrowband radio access solution also termed as Clean Slate CIoT. The Clean Slate approach covers the Narrowband Cellular IoT (NB-CIoT), which was the only one of six proposed Clean Slate technologies compliant against a set of performance objectives (as noted previously) in the TSG GERAN #67 meeting report and will be part of Rel-13 to be frozen in March 2016. Also contending in the standards is Narrowband LTE Evolution (NB-LTE) which has the advantage of easy deployment across existing LTE networks.

Rel-12 introduces important improvements for M2M like lower device cost and longer battery life. Further improvements for M2M are envisioned in Rel-13 such as enhanced coverage, lower device cost and longer battery life. The narrowband CIoT solutions also aim to provide lower cost and device power consumption and better coverage; however, they will also have reduced data rates. NB CleanSlate CIoT is expected to support data rates of 160bps with extended coverage.

Table 7.1 provides some comparison of the three options to be standardized, as well as the 5G option, and shows when each release is expected to be finalized.

Another IoT technology that has been giving the cellular IoT industry run for money is the LoRa alliance. I blogged about LoRa in May and it has been a very popular post. A extract from a recent article from Rethink Research as follows:

In the past few weeks, the announcements have been ramping up. Semtech (the creator of the LoRa protocol itself, and the key IP owner) has been most active, announcing that The Lace Company, a wireless operator, has deployed LoRa network architecture in over a dozen Russian cities, claiming to cover 30m people over 9,000km2. Lace is currently aiming at building out Russian coverage, but will be able to communicate to other LoRa devices over the LoRa cloud, as the messages are managed on cloud servers once they have been transmitted from end-device to base unit via LoRaWAN.

“Our network allows the user to connect to an unlimited number of smart sensors,” said Igor Shirokov, CEO of Lace Ltd. “We are providing connectivity to any device that supports the open LoRaWAN standard. Any third party company can create new businesses and services in IoT and M2M market based on our network and the LoRaWAN protocol.”

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabian telco Du has launched a test LoRa network in Dubai, as part of a smart city test project. “This is a defining moment in the UAE’s smart city transformation,” said Carlos Domingo, senior executive officer at Du. “We need a new breed of sensor friendly network to establish the smart city ecosystem. Thanks to Du, this capability now exists in the UAE Today we’ve shown how our network capabilities and digital know-how can deliver the smart city ecosystem Dubai needs. We will not stop in Dubai; our deployment will continue country-wide throughout the UAE.”

But the biggest recent LoRa news is that Orange has committed itself to a national French network rollout, following an investment in key LoRa player Actility. Orange has previously trialed a LoRa network in Grenoble, and has said that it opted for LoRa over Sigfox thanks to its more open ecosystem – although it’s worth clarifying here that Semtech still gets a royalty on every LoRa chip that’s made, and will continue to do so until it chooses not to or instead donates the IP to the non-profit LoRa Alliance itself.

It would be interesting to see if this LoRa vs CIoT ends up the same way as WiMAX vs LTE or not.

Embedded below is the 4G Americas whitepaper as well as a LoRa presentation from Semtech:






Further reading:


Monday, 14 September 2015

3GPP Release-13 whitepapers and presentations

With 3GPP Release-13 due early/mid next year, there has been a flurry of presentations and whitepapers on this topic. This post provides some of these. I will try and maintain a list of whitepapers/presentations as part of this post as and when released.

1. June 2015: LTE Release 13 and road to 5G - Presented by Dino Flore, Chairman of 3GPP RAN, (Qualcomm Technologies Inc.)



2. Sep 2015: Executive Summary - Inside 3GPP Release 13 by 4G Americas



3. June 2015: Mobile Broadband Evolution Towards 5G: 3GPP Rel-12 & Rel-13 and Beyond by 4G Americas

4. April 2015: LTE release 13 – expanding the Networked Society by Ericsson


Tuesday, 21 July 2015

TDD-FDD Joint Carrier Aggregation deployed


As per Analysis Mason, of the 413 commercial LTE networks that have been launched worldwide by the end of 2Q 2015, FD-LTE accounts for 348 (or 84%) of them, while TD-LTE accounts for only 55 (or 13%). Having said that, TD-LTE will be growing in market share, thanks to the unpaired spectrum that many operators secured during the auctions. This, combined with LTE-A Small Cells (as recently demoed by Nokia Networks) can help offload traffic from hotspots.

Light Reading had an interesting summary of TD-LTE rollouts and status that is further summarised below:
  • China Mobile has managed to sign up more than 200 million subscribers in just 19 months, making it the fastest-growing operator in the world today. It has now deployed 900,000 basestations in more than 300 cities. From next year, it is also planning to upgrade to TDD+ which combines carrier aggregation and MIMO to deliver download speeds of up to 5 Gbit/s and a fivefold improvement in spectrum efficiency. TDD+ will be commercially available next year and while it is not an industry standard executives say several elements have been accepted by 3GPP. 
  • SoftBank Japan has revealed plans to trial LTE-TDD Massive MIMO, a likely 5G technology as well as an important 4G enhancement, from the end of the year. Even though it was one of the world's first operators to go live with LTE-TDD, it has until now focused mainly on its LTE-FDD network. It has rolled out 70,000 FDD basestations, compared with 50,000 TDD units. But TDD is playing a sharply increasing role. The operator expects to add another 10,000 TDD basestations this year to deliver additional capacity to Japan's data-hungry consumers. By 2019 at least half of SoftBank's traffic to run over the TDD network.

According to the Analysis Mason article, Operators consider TD-LTE to be an attractive BWA (broadband wireless access) replacement for WiMAX because:

  • most WiMAX deployments use unpaired, TD spectrum in the 2.5GHz and3.5GHz bands, and these bands have since been designated by the 3GPP as being suitable for TD-LTE
  • TD-LTE is 'future-proof' – it has a reasonably long evolution roadmap and should remain a relevant and supported technology throughout the next decade
  • TD-LTE enables operators to reserve paired FD spectrum for mobile services, which mitigates against congestion in the spectrum from fixed–mobile substitution usage profiles.

For people who may be interested in looking further into migrating from WiMAX to TD-LTE, may want to read this case study here.


I have looked at the joint FDD-TDD CA earlier here. The following is from the 4G Americas whitepaper on Carrier Aggregation embedded here.

Previously, CA has been possible only between FDD and FDD spectrum or between TDD and TDD spectrum. 3GPP has finalized the work on TDD-FDD CA, which offers the possibility to aggregate FDD and TDD carriers jointly. The main target with introducing the support for TDD-FDD CA is to allow the network to boost the user throughput by aggregating both TDD and FDD toward the same UE. This will allow the network to boost the UE throughput independently from where the UE is in the cell (at least for DL CA).

TDD and FDD CA would also allow dividing the load more quickly between the TDD and FDD frequencies. In short, TDD-FDD CA extends CA to be applicable also in cases where an operator has spectrum allocation in both TDD and FDD bands. The typical benefits of CA – more flexible and efficient utilization of spectrum resources – are also made available for a combination of TDD and FDD spectrum resources. The Rel-12 TDD-FDD CA design supports either a TDD or FDD cell as the primary cell.

There are several different target scenarios in 3GPP for TDD-FDD CA, but there are two main scenarios that 3GPP aims to support. The first scenario assumes that the TDD-FDD CA is done from the same physical site that is typically a macro eNB. In the second scenario, the macro eNB provides either a TDD and FDD frequency, and the other frequency is provided from a Remote Radio Head (RRH) deployed at another physical location. The typical use case for the second scenario is that the macro eNB provides the FDD frequency and the TDD frequency from the RRH.

Nokia Networks were the first in the world with TDD-FDD CA demo, back in Feb 2014. In fact they also have a nice video here. Surprisingly there wasnt much news since then. Recently Ericsson announced the first commercial implementation of FDD/TDD carrier aggregation (CA) on Vodafone’s network in Portugal. Vodafone’s current trial in its Portuguese network uses 15 MHz of band 3 (FDD 1800) and 20 MHz of band 38 (TDD 2600). Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 SoC was used for measurement and testing.

3 Hong Kong is another operator that has revealed its plans to launch FDD-TDD LTE-Advanced in early 2016 after demonstrating the technology on its live network.

The operator used equipment supplied by Huawei to aggregate an FDD carrier in either of the 1800 MHz or 2.6 GHz bands with a TDD carrier in the 2.3 GHz band. 3 Hong Kong also used terminals equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X12 LTE processor.

3 Hong Kong already offers FDD LTE-A using its 1800-MHz and 2.6-GHz spectrum, and is in the midst of deploying TD-LTE with a view to launching later this year.

The company said it expects devices that can support hybrid FDD-TDD LTE-A to be available early next year "and 3 Hong Kong is expected to launch the respective network around that time."

3 Hong Kong also revealed it plans to commercially launch tri-carrier LTE-A in the second half of 2016, and is working to aggregate no fewer than five carriers by refarming its 900-MHz and 2.1-GHz spectrum.

TDD-FDD CA is another tool in the network operators toolbox to help plan the network and make it better. Lets hope more operators take the opportunity to deploy one.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

LTE-M a.k.a. Rel-13 Cellular IoT

Some months back I wrote about the LTE Category-0 devices here. While Rel-12 LTE Cat 0 devices are a first step in the right direction, they are not enough for small sensor type of devices where long battery life is extremely important. As can be seen in the picture above, this will represent a huge market in 2025.


To cater for this requirement of extremely long battery life, it is proposed that Rel-13 does certain modifications for these low throughput sensor type devices. The main modification would be that the devices will work in 1.4MHz bandwidth only, regardless of the bandwidth of the cell. The UE transmit power will be max of 20dB and the throughput would be further reduced to a maximum of 200kbps.

The presentation, from Cambridge Wireless Future of Wireless International Conference is embedded below:



See also:

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

'The Future Inter-connected Network' and Timing, Frequency & Phase requirements


I had the pleasure of doing a keynote at PhaseReady 2015 in London today. My presentation is embedded below along with some comments, followed by tweets some of which I think are important to think about. Finally, I have embedded a video by EE and Light Reading which was quoted and maybe its important in the context of this event.


My main focus during this presentation has been on how the networks have evolved from 3G days with the main focus (unconsciously) on speeds. While the networks are evolving, they are also getting more complex. The future ecosystem will consist of many Inter-connected (and in many cases inter-operable) networks that will work out the requirements in different situations and adapt to the necessary network(technology) accordingly.

An example of today's networks are like driving a manual car where we have to change gears depending on the traffic, speed required and fuel efficiency. Automatic cars are supposed to optimise this and achieve the best in all different cases. The future inter-connected networks should achieve the best based on the requirements in all different scenarios.

While it is easy to say this in theory, the practical networks will have many challenges to solve, including business and/or technical. The theme of the conference was timing, frequency and phase synchronisation. There are already challenges around them today, with the advanced LTE-A features. These challenges are only going to get bigger.

The following are the tweets from the day:



Finally, here is the link to video referred to in the last tweet. Its from last year but well worth listening.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

The path from 4.5G to 5G

In the WiFi Global Congress last week, I heard this interesting talk from an ex-colleague who now works with Huawei. While there were a few interesting things, the one I want to highlight is 4.5G. The readers of this blog will remember that I introduced 4.5G back in June last year and followed it with another post in October when everyone else started using that term and making it complicated.

According to this presentation, 3GPP is looking to create a new brand from Release-13 that will supersede LTE-Advanced (LTE-A). Some of you may remember that the vendor/operator community tried this in the past by introducing LTE-B, LTE-C, etc. for the upcoming releases but they were slapped down by 3GPP. Huawei is calling this Release-13 as 4.5G but it would be re-branded based on what 3GPP comes up with.


Another interesting point are the data rates achieved in the labs, probably more than others. 10.32Gbps in sub-6GHz in a 200MHz bandwidth and 115.20Gbps using a 9.6GHz bandwidth in above 6GHz spectrum. The complete presentation as follows:



Another Huawei presentation that merits inclusion is the one from the last Cambridge Wireless Small Cells SIG event back in February by Egon Schulz. The presentation is embedded below but I want to highlight the different waveforms that being being looked at for 5G. In fact if someone has a list of the waveforms, please feel free to add it in comments


The above tweet from a recent IEEE event in Bangalore is another example of showing the research challenges in 5G, including the waveforms. The ones that I can obviously see from above is: FBMC, UFMC, GFDM, NOMA, SCMA, OFDM-opt, f-OFDM.

The presentation as follows:




Monday, 4 May 2015

New LTE UE Categories: 11, 12, 13 and 14 in 3GPP Rel-12

While checking 3GPP TS 36.306, I noticed some new LTE categories have been defined. We now have all the way up to category 14. I also noticed that Wikipedia page has up to Category 15, not sure how/where they got it from. 


The LG Space page has some more details for anyone interested in exploring further.

A Qualcomm demo from MWC for LTE Category 11, if interested.



Finally, other related posts:


Sunday, 12 April 2015

LTE-Hetnet (LTE-H) a.k.a. LTE Wi-Fi Link Aggregation (LWA)


We have talked about the unlicensed LTE (LTE-U), re-branded as LTE-LAA many times on this blog and the 3G4G Small Cells blog. In fact some analysts have decided to call the current Rel-12 non-standardised Rel-12 version as LTE-U and the standardised version that would be available as part of Release-13 as LTE-LAA.

There is a lot of unease in the WiFi camp because LTE-LAA may hog the 5GHz spectrum that is available as license-exempt for use of Wi-Fi and other similar (future) technologies. Even though LAA may be more efficient as claimed by some vendors, it would reduce the usage for WiFi users in that particular spectrum.

As a result, some vendors have recently proposed LTE/WiFi Link Aggregation as a new feature in Release-13. Alcatel-Lucent, Ruckus Wireless and Qualcomm have all been promoting this. In fact Qualcomm has a pre-MWC teaser video on Youtube. The demo video is embedded as follows:



The Korean operator KT was also involved in demoing this in MWC along with Samsung and Qualcomm. They have termed this feature as LTE-Hetnet or LTE-H.

The Korean analyst firm Netmanias have more detailed technical info on this topic.

Link aggregation by LTE-H demonstrated at MWC 2015 (Source: Netmanias)

As can be seen the data is split/combined in PDCP layer. While this example above shows the practical implementation using C-RAN with Remote Radio Head (RRH) and BaseBand Unit (BBU) being used, the picture at the top shows LTE Anchor in eNodeB. There would be a need for an ideal backhaul to keep latency in the eNodeB to minimum when combining cellular and WiFi data.

Comparison of link level Carrier Aggregation technologies (Source: Netmanias)

The above table shows comparison between the 3 main techniques for increasing data rates through aggregation; CA, LTE-U/LAA and LTE-H/LWA. While CA has been part of 3GPP Release-10 and is available in more of less all new LTE devices, LTE-U and LTE-H is new and would need modifications in the network as well as in the devices. LTE-H would in the end provide similar benefits to LTE-U but is a safer option from devices and spectrum point of view and would be a more agreeable solution by everyone, including the WiFi community.

A final word; last year we wrote a whitepaper laying out our vision of what 4.5G is. I think we put it simply that in 4.5G, you can use WiFi and LTE at the same time. I think LTE-H fulfills that vision much better than other proposals.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Detailed whitepaper on Carrier Aggregation by 4G Americas

4G Americas has published a detailed whitepaper on Carrier Aggregation (CA). Its a very good detailed document for anyone wishing to study CA.


Two very important features that have come as part of CA enhancements were the multiple timing advance values that came as a part of Release-11 and TDD-FDD joint operation that came part of Release-12

While its good to see that up to 3 carriers CA is now possible as part of Rel-12 and as I mentioned in my last post, we need this to achieve the 'Real' 4G. We have to also remember at the same time that these CA makes the chipsets very complex and may affect the sensitivity of the RF receivers.

Anyway, here is the 4G Americas whitepaper.


LTE Carrier Aggregation Technology Development and Deployment Worldwide from Zahid Ghadialy

You can read more about the 4G Americas whitepaper in their press release here.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

What is (pre-5G) 4.5G?

Before we look at what 4.5G is, lets look at what is not 4.5G. First and foremost, Carrier Aggregation is not 4.5G. Its the foundation for real 4G. I keep on showing this picture on Twitter


I am sure some people much be really bored by this picture of mine that I keep showing. LTE, rightly referred to as 3.9G or pre-4G by the South Korean and Japanese operators was the foundation of 'Real' 4G, a.k.a. LTE-Advanced. So who has been referring to LTE-A as 4.5G (and even 5G). Here you go:


So lets look at what 4.5G is.
Back in June, we published a whitepaper where we referred to 4.5G as LTE and WiFi working together. When we refer to LTE, it refers to LTE-A as well. The standards in Release-12 allow simultaneous use of LTE(-A) and WiFi with selected streams on WiFi and others on cellular.


Some people dont realise how much spectrum is available as part of 5GHz, hopefully the above picture will give an idea. This is exactly what has tempted the cellular community to come up with LTE-U (a.k.a LA-LTE, LAA)

In a recent event in London called 5G Huddle, Alcatel-Lucent presented their views on what 4.5G would mean. If you look at the slide above, it is quite a detailed view of what this intermediate step before 5G would be. Some tweets related to this discussion from 5G Huddle as follows:


Finally, in a recent GSMA event, Huawei used the term 4.5G to set out their vision and also propose a time-frame as follows:



While in Alcatel-Lucent slide, I could visualise 4.5G as our vision of LTE(-A) + WiFi + some more stuff, I am finding it difficult to visualise all the changes being proposed by Huawei. How are we going to see the peak rate of 10Gbps for example?

I have to mention that I have had companies that have told me that their vision of 5G is M2M and D2D so Huawei is is not very far from reality here.

We should keep in mind that this 4G, 4.5G and 5G are the terms we use to make the end users aware of what new cellular technology could do for them. Most of these people understand simple terms like speeds and latency. We may want to be careful what we tell them as we do not want to make things confusing, complicated and make false promises and not deliver on them.

xoxoxo Added on 2nd January 2015 oxoxox

Chinese vendor ZTE has said it plans to launch a ‘pre-5G’ testing base station in 2015, commercial use of which will be possible in 2016, following tests and adjustment. Here is what they think pre-5G means:


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Elevation Beamforming / Full-Dimension MIMO


Four major Release-13 projects have been approved now that Release-12 is coming to a conclusion. One of them is Full dimension MIMO. From the 3GPP website:

Leveraging the work on 3D channel modeling completed in Release 12, 3GPP RAN will now study the necessary changes to enable elevation beamforming and high-order MIMO systems. Beamforming and MIMO have been identified as key technologies to address the future capacity demand. But so far 3GPP specified support for these features mostly considers one-dimensional antenna arrays that exploit the azimuth dimension. So, to further improve LTE spectral efficiency it is quite natural to now study two-dimensional antenna arrays that can also exploit the vertical dimension.
Also, while the standard currently supports MIMO systems with up to 8 antenna ports, the new study will look into high-order MIMO systems with up to 64 antenna ports at the eNB, to become more relevant with the use of higher frequencies in the future.
Details of the Study Item can be found in RP-141644.
There was also an interesting post by Eiko Seidel in the 5G standards group:

The idea is to introduce carrier and UE specific tilt/beam forming with variable beam widths. Improved link budget and reduced intra- and inter-cell interference might translate into higher data rates or increased coverage at cell edge. This might go hand in hand with an extensive use of spatial multiplexing that might require enhancements to today’s MU-MIMO schemes. Furthermore in active antenna array systems (AAS) the power amplifiers become part of the antenna further improving the link budget due to the missing feeder loss. Besides a potentially simplified installation the use of many low power elements might also reduce the overall power consumption. 

At higher frequencies the antenna elements can miniaturized and their number can be increased. In LTE this might be limited to 16, 32 or 64 elements while for 5G with higher frequency bands this might allow for “massive MIMO”. 

WG: Primary RAN1 (RP-141644) 
started 06/2014 (RAN#64), completion date 06/2015 (RAN#68)
work item might follow the study with target 12/2015 (RAN#70) 

Supporting companies
Samsung/NSN, all major vendors and operators 

Based on RAN1 Rel.12 Study Item on 3D channel model (TR36.873) 

Objectives 
Phase 1: antenna configurations and evaluation scenarios Rel.12 performance evaluation with 3D channel model 

Phase 2: study and simulate FD-MIMO enhancement identify and evaluate techniques, analyze specification impact performance evaluation for 16, 32, 64 antenna elements enhancements for SU-/MU-MIMO (incl. higher dimension MU-MIMO) (keep the maximum number of layer per UE unchanged to 8)


An old presentation from Samsung is embedded below that will provide more insight into this technology:



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