Showing posts with label Telefonica. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Telefonica. Show all posts

Monday, 1 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Market Status:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further reading:

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Securing the backhaul with the help of LTE Security Gateway

An excellent presentation from the LTE World Summit last year, that is embedded below. The slide(s) that caught my attention was the overhead involved when using the different protocols. As can be seen in the picture above, the Ethernet MTU is 1500 bytes but after removing all the overheads, 1320 bytes are left for data. In case you were wondering, MTU stands for 'maximum transmission unit' and is the largest size packet or frame, specified in octets (8-bit bytes), that can be sent in a packet or frame based network such as the Internet.

Anyway, the presentation is embedded below:

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Economical M2M using LTE - #LTEWS

In the upcoming LTE World Summit 2013 (programme here), I will be doing a briefing on the topic 'Economical M2M using LTE'. I have some ideas but I would like to hear more on what you think? In fact, is LTE the right technology from the M2M device point of view? Or do they better stick to 2G (I dont think 3G is good enough generally from low data M2M point of view). What other issues can be foreseen? Security? Roaming?
A recent presentation from Telefonica shows how they are partnering with other operators worldwide to create universal solutions. Will this help? Why not use these solutions for everything, not just LTE? LTE is data only technology isn't it?

The presentation is embedded below to draw your own conclusion but I an interested in hearing your thoughts on Twitter or here on the blog.

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.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Real Life Pictures of Small Cells Deployments in London

Visitors of this blog seemed to like the last set of deployment pictures I put up. As a result here is another set of pictures from the same Telefonica presentation by Robert Joyce. See also my earlier post on the same topic here.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Backhauling the Telefonica O2 London LTE Trial

Interesting Video and Presentation about backhaul in the London Trial of LTE deployment by O2.

We have an event in October in Cambridge Wireless that will look at the backhaul and deployments a bit more in detail. Details here.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

A Twitter discussion on 'Data Tsunami' myth


@disruptivedean - Dean Bubley
@StevenJCrowley - Steve Crowley
@WhatTheBit - Stefan Constantine
@labboudles - Leila Abboud
@twehmeier - Thomas Wehmeier
@jamncl4 - Jonathan Morgan
@wifidave - Dave Wright

@disruptivedean: Data tsunami myth washing further out to sea: Telefonica mobile data grew 35% YoY to Q1, vs. data rev growth of 28%.

@disruptivedean: Increasingly convinced that some cellular data growth numbers & forecasts are over-inflated - mainly to sway regulators on spectrum policy

@StevenJCrowley: Wonder how much of Telefonica lower data growth is from Spain's unusually bad economy versus normal "S curve"

@twehmeier: Did you see that shockingly unbalanced story on data traffic in FT? Pure spin. Telefonica is v representative of Euro ops. The other factor is vendors perpetuating the myth to sell their products and services

@WhatTheBit: you should do some research into operator spectrum holdings versus actual utilization, I'm sure the results would B shocking

@twehmeier: The other factor is vendors perpetuating the myth to sell their products and services

@disruptivedean: Don't think Spanish economy that much an issue. Growth been flattening in UK & Germany for a while -

@disruptivedean: The contrast in attitude between TF corporate vs. TF Digital is striking sometimes.

@labboudles: that's interesting, is it typical of others ops numbers, ie data makes them money so stop whining abt capex/google?

@disruptivedean: It's certainly true for VF in Europe - they have faster data rev growth than traffic growth. Caps/tiers fixed the problem

@disruptivedean: Basic pricing tiers/caps + user-controlled WiFi have "fixed" the problem. Has undermined need for more complex solutions & tech

@twehmeier: Indeed. amazes me how little emphasis placed on imprtnce of pricing. Next prob will be working out how to bring traffic back

@disruptivedean: Yes, especially with LTE - in some places/networks we're heading for overcapacity. Not quite as bad as fibre in 2001, but scary

@twehmeier: And that will likely lead to more naive pricing models that only serve to accelerate self-commoditisation of value of data!

@twehmeier: Telenor firsy reported faster data revenue growth versus traffic back in 2010. And that's in some of the world's most advanced smartphone and MBB markets...

@labboudles: thought so since that was case in France, but admit had not looked at all ops trends

@disruptivedean: Also beware that some operators (eg AT&T) have started adding in WiFi hotspot traffic to bump up the numbers

@twehmeier: Shameless lobbying....

@labboudles: where is there overcapacity?! Places where LTE has been built and already used?

@twehmeier: imagine a market where Wi-Fi is ubiquitous and all operators deploy LTE on top of pre-existing HSPA/HSPA+. And remember average utilisation of European 3G networks is typically only in the 35-40% range and pretty steady

@labboudles: that's a ways off in real world though

@labboudles: ok that I just don't understand, then why is my user experience of mobile Internet so crap n London, Paris ?

@disruptivedean: Depends how you calculate it. Bear in mind many MNOs don't "light up" all spectrum initially, but add extra capacity

@disruptivedean: Plenty of other bottlenecks - most notable is poor coverage, could be backhaul, stuff in core network, even DNS etc

@disruptivedean: Congestion often caused by too much signalling (setting up/tearing down IP conxns), not sheer data "tonnage"

@jamncl4: Actually I think we are also seeing the impact of the shift from laptops to tablets and smartphones

@jamncl4: People can't afford multiple data plans so they shift from laptop to Smartphones which inherently use less data

@wifidave: How did you arrive at 35%/28%? I found 15.4% YoY in "mobile data revenue", and couldn't find traffic figures.

@jamncl4: Same with tablets which also pull usage away from laptop except most tablets are wifi only

@jamncl4: WiFi is in enough places that I can't justify two data plans so I stick to wifi tablet and data pla smartphone

@disruptivedean: It's on page 6 of the results presentation, showing rapid convergence of traffic & revenue growth

@jamncl4: The smartphone will take a few years to catch up to laptops in terms of data requirements thus "slowdown" growth

@disruptivedean: Bear in mind rising % of people don't have "plans" but use PAYG for data. But yes, dongle traffic falling, phone rising

@jamncl4: But Smartphone require higher signaling than laptops due to apps & power saving techniques;massive signal growth

@disruptivedean: Tablet/laptop substitution (or not) largely irrelevant as both are generally WiFi-only & will most likely stay that way

@jamncl4: Multi device plans could be interesting moving forward and there impact on this

@jamncl4: I disagree. Majority of traffic has come from laptops in past so more wifi & tablets reduces the traffic

@wifidave: @disruptivedean OK, I see. The 27% is a subset of the 15.4%.

@jamncl4: I think the real issue is that people don't want to pay for 2 plans & the 1 plan in general is Smartphone for now. Multidevice PAYG plans will be interesting on their impact.

@wifidave: Ponder this > Assuming TF #s are cell data, they represent a mobile data Traffic/Rev YoY growth ratio of 1.29:1 . The same ratio for #ChinaMobile in Q4'11 was 1.28:1 . For #ChinaMobile, cell data grew at 56.1% traffic and 43.5% revenues.

@wifidave: ATT says that "wireless data traffic" doubled in 2011 from 2010. ( but elsewhere report that their Wi-Fi traffic increased 550% in Q4'11. ( all while wireless data revenues only grew 19.4% YoY in Q4'11 (

@wifidave: The real growth (337% and 550% for CM and ATT) is in Wi-Fi as Dean said. Not adding much to rev yet.

@disruptivedean: Absolutely agree more WiFi = less "big device mobile data traffic". Unconvinced it matters if big device = laptop/tablet


Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Signalling Load per device and OS

From the presentation by Martin Prosek, Telefonica, Czech Republic in 3G Optimization Conference 2012, Prague.

Signalling can cause many issues:

In the mobile device, Frequent PDP-context establishment is known to drain the battery. Battery life can be improved by supporting fast dormancy in network.

In the network, Signalling flood can create situations reminding DoS attacks. Increased signalling in RAN can cause impacts in core network:

  • Radius/Diameter interface overload of AAA servers
  • DHCP IP address pools exhaustion

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The concept of 'PDP Context Parking'

Access Point Name (APN) identifies a packet data network (PDN) that is configured on and accessible from the packet core (eg. GGSN). APNs are similar to a DNS name of the packet core and its composed of 2 parts.

• The APN Network Identifier which defines the external network or service that the user wishes to connect to via the packet core.
• The APN Operator Identifier which defines in which mobile network the packet core is located.

The APN that a mobile user is allowed to use is either programmed in the phone, or it could be sent over the air (OTA) via SMS. If an invalid APN is used then the PDP context request would be rejected with Invalid APN cause.

The networks of today are capable of handling any APN name and in fact recently I read some operator will allow any APN name to be used (PS: I cant remember details so please feel free to add link in the comment if you know). The reason for any APNs is that users use mobiles that were used on other networks which would have their APN settings, so the operator allows them to use any APN and then send OTA message to provide new settings.

The problem starts on these devices of today, even though you may say that you dont want to use operator data (especially while roaming), it still uses data and if the user does not have a good data plan then he may end up running a huge bill. See a discussion on this topic here and here.

From operators point of view, once they have sent setting OTA then they dont send it again. The users have come up with a workaround that they can use an invalid APN name and that would not connect to the operators network and incur data costs. The problem is that since the PDP Context request was now rejected, the device retries it when the device tries to use data again (mostly when there is no WiFi due to user being out and background apps are still running). This can cause loads of unnecessary signalling (for establishing PDP context).

In a situation like this, Martin Prosek from Telefonica, Czech Republic, mentioned that they have introduced 'PDP Context Parking'. They accept the PDP context request even though the APN is invalid but redirect the user to a default page where the user has many options like name of correct APN for someone using wrong APN by mistake, possiblity to buy 'bolt-ons' so they can use data over the mobile network and in some cases simply some free data allowance so that the users can get a feel of mobile data usage. This helped Telefonica O2, Czech Republic, reduce signaling and improve pdp connection success rate

I think this is a great idea and if someone has more information on this or personal experience, please feel free to add.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Mobile Energy Efficiency (MEE) Optimisation project

Recently read that Telefonica, Germany has identified that it can save €1.8 million per year with the help of GSMA's MEE Optimisation service. Here is a detailed case study from GSMA:

Also, found a presentation that explains a bit more about what MEE (Mobile Energy Efficiency) is:
Maybe a good idea for other operators to start looking into how they can be saving with this initiative as well.

More details on MEE here.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

SIMFi = SIM with WiFi

Since the beginning of this year, Sagem Orga and Telefonica have been working on next generation SIM card called SIMFi.

With SIMFi, you can convert a phone into a WiFi hotspot. The phone would use HSPA/LTE for data connectivity and at the same time it would broadcast WiFi signals for any equipment to connect to these signals and browse the web. Power consumption information have not been mentioned which I am sure would be a problem for the phone.

SIMFi Removes the need for additional accessories to facilitate transmission services (e.g. MiFi, USB modem, PCMCIA…) and can make connectivity a lot simpler, straigtforward and cheaper.

SIMFi specifications
  • SIM card compatible with the latest telecom specifications.
  • SIM card: ISO 2FF plug-in
  • The mobile phone does not need any special features.
  • Modem WiFi integrated in the SIM card, works with 802.11b.
  • The modem is guided by the SIM card's tools.
  • Energy-saving features (works with 2G and 3G).
  • The aerial is adaptable, allowing short- and long-range operations (from 2 cm to 30 m) managed by the SIM card's tools.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Femtocells may not be that close to deployment yet

Recently Zahid Ghadialy in his blog mentioned about the first deployment of Femotcells by NEC and Ubiquisys. Since then you must have thought that the femotcells will pick up and will be commercialized very soon. I am not hundred percent sure this is the case though as I have come across few articles which suggest that operators are no way near to the launch of femtocells for various reasons.

While the enthusiasm for femtocells continues unabated, several of the mobile operators that have once taken the lead are having second thoughts due to unresolved technical issues and unclear business cases.

These concerns came to the surface during the Femtocell Europe 2008 conference when SFR said it had delayed selecting a femtocell supplier because of undefined industry standards. The company said that the expected deployment of the technology now would not commence until sometime next year.

SFR, of which Vodafone Group owns 44 per cent, participated in Vodafone's group-level request for proposals for femtocells last year, but it also issued its own RFQ separately. "We're assessing another technology in parallel," said Thierry Berthouloux, network solutions director at SFR. "However, we have decided to extend that assessment period and have put this process on hold to give equipment suppliers time to consolidate roadmaps. There's no point making a decision today."

In my view it is very important that if femtocells have to be a success then there should be agreed standard so that there is no confusion as such towards the technology. When I say confusion what I mean is that if there is a set and agreed standard then most of the questions or doubts will be answered. According to those close to the situation, the issue for the major operators in agreeing to a standard is the need for clarity on 3GPP status and the lack of resource being provided by the larger femtocell vendors to achieve this.

Although the above scenario does present a bleak picture but all is not lost for femtocells commercialization. Some operators although having some concerns have not given up on femtocells and are continuing with their trials and testing.

Once of such operator is Telefonica O2, which having already conducted consumer and equipment trials earlier this year, is now looking to another femtocell pilot early next year. Although this retesting will mean O2 will miss its earlier forecast of a commercial femtocell launch during Q1/09 but at the same time it does presents a hopeful image for O2’s commercial launch of femtocells.
The femtocells developer Ubiquisys, which took part in O2's trial this year, said a phased approach should not be unexpected and would be typical of the way operators evaluate new technologies and products, such as femtocells.

But in my view O2’s retrial itself is not enough and I firmly believe that if femtocell technology has to be a success then other operators must join O2 as well, given that O2 has been a firm advocate for the technology anyway. It is true that there are operators other than O2 who might be interested in the technolgy and hence will be interested in the deployment of femtocells. But the delay in O2 plans might draw a conclusion for these other operators that the business case for 3G home access points and services remains in question. This might also bring into doubt reports that 2010 would be the year of significant deployments for femtocells in Europe.

Whatever is the outcome I do hope that the industry gets their acts together and work their socks off towards the success of femtocells?

The femtocell market is primed to grow in 2008 and hence the global revenues generated by the femtocell equipment vendors are forecast to grow as well. Whatever the discrepancy over the market size, the perception of significant growth in femtocells illustrates the potential opportunity both technically and commercially.