Showing posts with label Small Cells. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Small Cells. Show all posts

Monday, 9 November 2015

5G and Evolution of the Inter-connected Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

5G: A 2020 Vision

I had the pleasure of speaking at the CW (Cambridge Wireless) event ‘5G: A Practical Approach’. It was a very interesting event with great speakers. Over the next few weeks, I will hopefully add the presentations from some of the other speakers too.

In fact before the presentation (below), I had a few discussions over the twitter to validate if people agree with my assumptions. For those who use twitter, maybe you may want to have a look at some of these below:

Anyway, here is the presentation.


Saturday, 26 April 2014

LTE Deployment Dilemma

Earlier this month during our Cambridge Wireless Small Cells SIG event, I presented a small quiz in the final session. The first part of the quiz was titled "LTE Deployment Dilemma" and it generated lots of interesting discussions. After the event, I did a more detailed writeup of that and Cisco has kindly published it in their SP Mobility Blog. Since many people have told me that they cannot anonymously post comments there, I am now bringing it to this blog. I am interested in hearing what others think.

Here is the complete post

Thursday, 16 January 2014

3GPP Rel-12 and Future Security Work

Here is the 3GPP presentation from the 9th ETSI Security workshop. Quite a few bits on IMS and IMS Services and also good to see new Authentication algorithm TUAK as an alternative to the widely used Milenage algorithm.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

M2M, Cellular and Small Cells

I have written a post on this topic in the Cisco Service Provide Mobility blog here. The article is embedded as follows:

Feel free to add any comments you may have on the blog post here.

Monday, 1 April 2013

The 'Phantom Cell' concept in LTE-B

One of the LTE-B proposals by NTT Docomo is this 'Phantom Cell' concept. A recent article from the IEEE Communications Magazine expands this further:

Phantom Cell Concept — In the current deployments, there are a number of capacity solutions for indoor environments such as WiFi, femtocells, and in-building cells using distributed antenna systems (DAS). However, there is a lack of capacity solutions for high-traffic outdoor environments that can also support good mobility and connectivity. Thus, we propose the concept of macro-assisted small cells, called the Phantom Cell, as a capacity solution that offers good mobility support while capitalizing on the existing LTE network. In the Phantom Cell concept, the C-plane/U-plane are split as shown in Fig. The C-plane of UE in small cells is provided by a macrocell in a lower frequency band, while for UE in macrocells both the C-plane and U-plane are provided by the serving macrocell in the same way as in the conventional system. On the other hand, the Uplane of UE in small cells is provided by a small cell using a higher frequency band. Hence, these macro-assisted small cells are called Phantom Cells as they are intended to transmit UE-specific signals only, and the radio resource control (RRC) connection procedures between the UE and the Phantom Cell, such as channel establishment and release, are managed by the macrocell.

The Phantom Cells are not conventional cells in the sense that they are not configured with cell specific signals and channels such as cell-ID-specific synchronization signals, cell-specific reference signals (CRS), and broadcast system information. Their visibility to the UE relies on macrocell signaling. The Phantom Cell concept comes with a range of benefits. One important benefit of macro assistance of small cells is that control signaling due to frequent handover between small cells and macrocells and among small cells can be significantly reduced, and connectivity can be maintained even when using small cells and higher frequency bands. In addition, by applying the new carrier type (NCT) that contains no or reduced legacy cell-specific signals, the Phantom Cell is able to provide further benefits such as efficient energy savings, lower interference and hence higher spectral efficiency, and reduction in cellplanning effort for dense small cell deployments.

To establish a network architecture that supports the C/U-plane split, and interworking between the macrocell and Phantom Cell is required. A straightforward solution to achieve this is to support Phantom Cells by using remote radio heads (RRHs) belonging to a single macro eNB. This approach can be referred to as intra-eNB carrier aggregation (CA) using RRHs. However, such a tight CA-based architecture has some drawbacks as it requires single-node operation with low-latency connections (e.g., optical fibers) between the macro and Phantom Cells. Therefore, more flexible network architectures should be investigated to allow for relaxed backhaul requirements between macro and Phantom Cells and to support a distributed node deployment with separated network nodes for each (i.e., inter-eNB CA).

Thursday, 7 February 2013

The story of Femtocells, Small Cells and Metrocells

Femtocells were introduced many years back as a residential, closed group, small base station. The intention was to provide coverage at home for high speed data (primary) and voice (secondary). It was more for coverage than capacity. In these good old days smart phones were far and few and feature phones were many. WiFi on the phone made it expensive and power hungry so cellular was the way to go.

There were many opportunities for Femtocells to take the centre stage as the concept is technologically sound but the operators have been not very willing to deploy it soon enough. Some operators were more willing to give it a try to fix their own issues, for example Softbank which gave free femtocells, in open access mode, to improve its coverage issues. Femtozone services that promised value addition provided with the Femtocells, never took off. Other promises of exclusive broadcast content using Femtocells for example never materialised due to lack of availability of the handsets and content.

Lot has changed since then. The smartphones and tablets have taken over the market, all of them have inbuilt WiFi that is generally more efficient than the cellular radio, coverage issues have become secondary and capacity issues are a bigger concern. Femtocell players have realised that except for the publicity, there isn't much to gain from the Femtocells. As a result Femtocells were replaced by the term Small cells that represents much more than the old Femtocells. The residential Femtocells have been reduced to being just voice boosters.

The different types of Small cells can be seen in the picture above. Except for the residential, the other types of small cells operate in either the open mode or the hybrid mode. Personally, I differentiate closed Femtocells from the other Small Cells. Metrocell is the upcoming type of Small cell that I believe everyone is focussing on. They operate always in the open mode and have been chosen as the promised one to solve the two major problems of capacity and coverage.

According to the Small Cell Forum introductory whitepaper, Metrocells would see an increased growth in the next few years when the operators start deploying more of them and less of the Macrocells.

So for those of you who don't know, and would like to learn more, an introductory presentation on Metrocells is available here.

If this is an area of interest and you are interested in having and in-depth understanding then we invite you to attend our Metrocells Masterclass which is a one day workshop explaining ins and outs of Metrocell. 

If you are a big organisation and would like us to provide you with a private workshop, please feel free to contact us for details.

We have also started the Metrocells Blog that I will use to post information related to Small Cells and Metrocells in future. Please feel free to take a look at:

Sunday, 30 December 2012

'Small Cells' Analyst Forecasts

Interesting discussion, courtesy of Think Small Cell

If you just want to view the slides quickly, available below:

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Small Cells 'Terminology' and 'Comparison'

Here is AT&T's attempt in comparing the small cells. The above comparison is probably based on the assumption that LTE Small cells are not yet widely available. Once they are, then LTE can be put in for most columns in the Technology part.

See also:

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Quick update on 3GPP Release-12 progress

Some months back, I blogged about the 3GPP Rel-12 workshop, since then there has been progress on the Rel-12 features. Here is a quick update from 3GPP:

You can download the PPT from Slideshare.

Other related posts:

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Hotspot 2.0, Next Generation Hotspot (NGH), etc.


Hotspot 2.0 is about certifying the hotspot itself, providing authentication using SIMs or certificates and the 802.11i standard, and using the recent 802.11u standard to provide performance and other information about the hotspots visible to a device. This will allow you to roam onto a hotspot with good connectivity that you have the right account to use, doing away with the need to select the network or enter your details into a web page, as you do today.

The Wi-Fi Alliance deals with the Wi-Fi hardware and the authentication specification under the name Passpoint, but this certification doesn't cover everything. The Wireless Broadband Alliance is a group of mobile and Wi-Fi operators that takes the Passpoint certification and ensures interoperability with other parts of the network — including authenticating to carriers' remote access RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service) servers, as well as roaming and billing.

"Next Generation Hotspot is the implementation of Hotspot 2.0 into a real, live network", explains Nigel Bird, the NGH Standardisation Manager at Orange Group.

From Next Generation Hotspot whitepaper:

A new program called Next Generation Hotspot (NGH) - using the latest HotSpot 2.0 specification1 - allows a mobile subscriber to connect automatically and securely to Hotspots using his service provider credentials while maintaining roaming visibility for the operator. NGH enables operators to continuously monitor and manage “cellular-like” service over Wi-Fi domestically and internationally so as to enhance performance and meet the demand for mobile data services over heterogeneous RANs - cellular and Wi-Fi. This enables mobile operators to simultaneously optimize backhaul throughput, offload specific traffic rapidly (e.g. video) and achieve better economics than traditional, cellular-only solutions.

The Wireless Broadband Appliance (WBA) and Small Cells Forum recently announced collaboration on this topic, see here.

More details are available in this presentation embedded below:

Monday, 26 November 2012

'LTE' and 'Small Cells' specific applications

Some 4 years back, I posted my first presentation here, titled "LTE Femtocells: Stepping stone for 'killer apps' presentation". I had couple of apps in mind that I thought could benefit from both LTE and Small Cells (or Femtocells to be specific).

The first was your phone acting as a Wireless Hard Disk Drive (HDD) that can be used to store things remotely in a server somewhere. This is similar to what is known as the Cloud nowadays.

Picture Source: Dialaphone.

The other day when I read why LTE is suitable for cloud connectivity, I could see that my old idea could start to become a reality. The article is here. Selective abstract as follows:

The LTE network lends itself well to cloud connectivity because it:
  • provides high-bandwidth connections
  • is IP- and Ethernet-oriented, the technologies used to connect to the cloud and within data centers
  • offers tools that operators didn't have in 2G and 3G (such as more granular ability to manage traffic flows and a better, DPI-based view of traffic running on the network)
  • features low latency, which is vital to the small flows and sessions that characterize M2M communications.
The rise of both cloud services and LTE creates a virtuous cycle. Cloud services continue to grow, which helps operators sustain their LTE business model. That growth enables them to accelerate LTE investments. Then operators can support new types of enterprise services, including cloud-based applications.
To take full advantage of this opportunity, operators have to deploy the right backhaul infrastructure. In addition to IP awareness and content awareness, the right backhaul network can leverage the technical advantages that LTE presents:
  • flattened architecture that helps distribute compute and storage resources
  • seamless migration from 2G and 3G for various physical mediums and networking protocols
  • an increase in capacity that starts to put mobile connectivity on par with fixed broadband access.

My reasoning for Small Cell here is, in most cases when you are doing operations that require large amounts of data to be transferred, you will be indoors, either at home or in office or in a low mobility scenario. The requirement for high security and at the same time high speed data transfer that should not be affected by other users in the cell (capacity issues) can be easily solved by using a Small cell (Femtocell for indoors, Metrocell for outdoors).

The other application I had in mind was the Home Security System. I read the following on TotalTele the other day:

3UK's wholesale division on Friday detailed plans to capture high-margin machine-to-machine traffic by partnering with service providers that are likely to have higher-than-average bandwidth requirements.
As a 3G-only operator, the company cannot go after high volume, low margin M2M traffic because it typically only requires a 2G connection. However, there are opportunities to use its 3G network to address more data-hungry verticals that will generate higher traffic volumes.
"The margin on one CCTV M2M connection is more than 50 times bigger than the margin on a smart meter connection," claimed Tom Gardner, lead wholesale manager at 3UK, during Breakfast with Total Telecom in London.
"There is one CCTV camera for every 14 people in the U.K.," he said. "If I can put a SIM in every one of them I'll be a very happy man."
3UK, which on Thursday launched its Ericsson-based wholesale M2M platform, sees a big opportunity in CCTV, particularly for mobile and temporary installations at festivals, for instance. Other potentially lucrative sectors it has identified include digital signage, back-up for fixed Internet connections, and backhauling WiFi traffic from public transport.

I am sure some of you may be thinking that '3' UK uses HSPA network, not LTE, which is true. The point here is that it could be done better using LTE and Small Cells.

The reason for using LTE would be to provide higher data rates, meaning that information can be sent faster, with higher resolution and more regularly. This will help identify the problems earlier. If the CCTV is used indoors or in high usage areas, it would make sense that it connects via Small Cell to avoid creating capacity issues in the Macro network.

Here is the embed again, of my old presentation just in case if it interests you:

Friday, 9 November 2012

Virgin Media's offering on SCaaS

I have blogged about FaaS in the past that is now undergoing trials. I also blogged about SCaaS from our last Cambridge Wireless event that shows the seperation between the operator and the services provided by Small Cell service provider. In the recent Small Cells Global congress, Kevin Baughan from Virgin Media gave an interesting talk on their recent trials. This is the architecture they are proposing.  

They would do site acquisition and maintenance, provide the backhaul and power, any mobile network operator (MNO) can come and put their small cell on the furniture to provide the coverage. I am not sure if multiple operators would pitch for the same sites but I wouldnt think of this as a problem as I am sure there would be multiple sites available in the same location.

A real killer from Virgin media could have been that it does something similar to Free, the French mobile operator that has apparently got Femtocells inbuilt in the set top boxes.

We will have to wait and see how many operators are willing to have third party host their small cells and how many.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

‘Small Cells’ and the City

My presentation from the Small Cells Global Congress 2012. Please note that this presentation was prepared at a very short notice so may not be completely accurate. Comments more than welcome.