Showing posts with label White Papers and Reports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label White Papers and Reports. Show all posts

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Bluetooth 5 for IoT

Bluetooth 5 (not 5.0 - to simplify marketing messages and communication) was released last year. The main features being 2x Faster, 4x Range (Bluetooth 4 - 50m outdoors, 10m Indoors; Bluetooth 5 - 200m outdoors, 40m indoors) & 8x Data.
I like this above slide by Robin Heydon, Qualcomm from a presentation he gave in CW (Cambridge Wireless) earlier this year. What is highlights is that Bluetooth 5 is Low Energy (LE) like its predecessor 4.0.For anyone interested, a good comparison of 5 vs 4.2 is available here.

In addition, Mesh support is now available for Bluetooth. I assume that this will work with Bluetooth 4.0 onwards but it would probably only make sense from Bluetooth 5 due to support for reasonable range.

The Bluetooth blog has a few posts on Mesh (see here, here and here). I like this simple introductory video below.

This recent article by Geoff Varral on RTT says the following (picture from another source):

Long distance Bluetooth can also be extended with the newly supported mesh protocol.

This brings Bluetooth into direct competition with a number of other radio systems including 802.15,4 based protocols such as Zigbee, LoRa, Wireless-M (for meter reading), Thread and 6 LowPAN (IPV6 over local area networks. 802.11 also has a mesh protocol and long distance ambitions including 802.11ah Wi-Fi in the 900 MHz ISM band. It also moves Bluetooth into the application space targeted by LTE NB IOT and LTE M though with range limitations.

There are some interesting design challenges implied by 5.0. The BLE specification is inherently less resilient to interference than Classic or EDR Bluetooth. This is because the legacy seventy eight X 1 MHz channels within the 20 MHz 2.4 GHz pass band are replaced with thirty nine two MHz channels with three fixed non hopping advertising channels in the middle and edge of the pass band.

These have to withstand high power 20 MHz LTE TDD in Band 40 (below the 2.4 GHz pass band) and high power 20 MHz LTE TDD in band 41 above the pass band (and Band 7 LTE FDD). This includes 26 dBm high power user equipment.

The coexistence of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and LTE has been intensively studied and worked on for over ten years and is now managed with surprising effectiveness within a smart phone through a combination of optimised analogue and digital filtering (SAW and FBAR filters) and time domain interference mitigation based on a set of  industry standard wireless coexistence protocols.

The introduction of high power Bluetooth however implies that this is no longer just a colocation issue but potentially a close location issue. Even managing Bluetooth to Bluetooth coexistence becomes a non-trivial task when you consider that +20 dBm transmissions will be closely proximate to -20 dBm or whisper mode -30 dBm transmissions and RX sensitivity of -93 dBm, potentially a dynamic range of 120dB. Though Bluetooth is a TDD system this isolation requirement will be challenging and vulnerable to ISI distortion. 

More broadly there is a need to consider how ‘5G Bluetooth’ couples technically and commercially with 5G including 5G IOT

Ericsson has a whitepaper on Bluetooth Mesh Networking. The conclusion of that agrees that Bluetooth may become a relevant player in IoT:

Bluetooth mesh is a scalable, short-range IoT technology that provides flexible and robust performance. The Bluetooth Mesh Profile is an essential addition to the Bluetooth ecosystem that enhances the applicability of Bluetooth technology to a wide range of new IoT use cases. Considering the large Bluetooth footprint, it has the potential to be quickly adopted by the market. 

With proper deployment and configuration of relevant parameters of the protocol stack, Bluetooth mesh is able to support the operation of dense networks with thousands of devices. The building automation use case presented in this white paper shows that Bluetooth mesh can live up to high expectations and provide the necessary robustness and service ratio. Furthermore, the network design of Bluetooth mesh is flexible enough to handle the introduction of managed operations on top of flooding, to further optimize behavior and automate the relay selection process.

Moreover, another Ericsson article says that "smartphones with built-in Bluetooth support can be part of the mesh, may be used to configure devices and act as capillary gateways."

A capillary network is a LAN that uses short-range radio-access technologies to provide groups of devices with wide area connectivity. Capillary networks therefore extend the range of the wide area mobile networks to constraint devices. Figure above illustrates the Bluetooth capillary gateway concept.

Once there are enough smartphones and Bluetooth devices with Bluetooth 5 and Mesh support, It would be interesting to see how developers use it. Would also be interesting to see if it will start encroaching LoRa and Sigfox markets as well.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

LTE, 5G and V2X

3GPP has recently completed the Initial Cellular V2X standard. The following from the news item:

The initial Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) standard, for inclusion in the Release 14, was completed last week - during the 3GPP RAN meeting in New Orleans. It focuses on Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communications, with further enhancements to support additional V2X operational scenarios to follow, in Release 14, targeting completion during March 2017.
The 3GPP Work Item Description can be found in RP-161894.
V2V communications are based on D2D communications defined as part of ProSe services in Release 12 and Release 13 of the specification. As part of ProSe services, a new D2D interface (designated as PC5, also known as sidelink at the physical layer) was introduced and now as part of the V2V WI it has been enhanced for vehicular use cases, specifically addressing high speed (up to 250Kph) and high density (thousands of nodes).


For distributed scheduling (a.k.a. Mode 4) a sensing with semi-persistent transmission based mechanism was introduced. V2V traffic from a device is mostly periodic in nature. This was utilized to sense congestion on a resource and estimate future congestion on that resource. Based on estimation resources were booked. This technique optimizes the use of the channel by enhancing resource separation between transmitters that are using overlapping resources.
The design is scalable for different bandwidths including 10 MHz bandwidth.
Based on these fundamental link and system level changes there are two high level deployment configurations currently defined, and illustrated in Figure 3.
Both configurations use a dedicated carrier for V2V communications, meaning the target band is only used for PC5 based V2V communications. Also in both cases GNSS is used for time synchronization.
In “Configuration 1” scheduling and interference management of V2V traffic is supported based on distributed algorithms (Mode 4) implemented between the vehicles. As mentioned earlier the distributed algorithm is based on sensing with semi-persistent transmission. Additionally, a new mechanism where resource allocation is dependent on geographical information is introduced. Such a mechanism counters near far effect arising due to in-band emissions.
In “Configuration 2” scheduling and interference management of V2V traffic is assisted by eNBs (a.k.a. Mode 3) via control signaling over the Uu interface. The eNodeB will assign the resources being used for V2V signaling in a dynamic manner.

5G Americas has also published a whitepaper on V2X Cellular Solutions. From the press release:

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) communications and solutions enable the exchange of information between vehicles and much more - people (V2P), such as bicyclists and pedestrians for alerts, vehicles (V2V) for collision avoidance, infrastructure (V2I) such as roadside devices for timing and prioritization, and the network (V2N) for real time traffic routing and other cloud travel services. The goal of V2X is to improve road safety, increase the efficiency of traffic, reduce environmental impacts and provide additional traveler information services. 5G Americas, the industry trade association and voice of 5G and LTE for the Americas, today announced the publication of a technical whitepaper titled V2X Cellular Solutions that details new connected car opportunities for the cellular and automotive industries.

The whitepaper describes the benefits that Cellular V2X (C-V2X) can provide to support the U.S. Department of Transportation objectives of improving safety and reducing vehicular crashes. Cellular V2X can also be instrumental in transforming the transportation experience by enhancing traveler and traffic information for societal goals.

C-V2X is part of the 3GPP specifications in Release 14. 3GPP announced the completion of the initial C-V2X standard in September 2016. There is a robust evolutionary roadmap for C-V2X towards 5G with a strong ecosystem in place. C-V2X will be a key technology enabler for the safer, more autonomous vehicle of the future.

The whitepaper is embedded below:

Related posts:
Further Reading:

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Inside 3GPP Release-13 - Whitepaper by 5G Americas

The following is from the 5G Americas press release:

The summary offers insight to the future of wireless broadband and how new requirements and technological goals will be achieved. The report updates Release 13 (Rel-13) features that are now completed at 3GPP and were not available at the time of the publication of a detailed 5G Americas report, Mobile Broadband Evolution Towards 5G: 3GPP Release 12 & Release 13 and Beyond in June 2015.
The 3GPP standards have many innovations remaining for LTE to create a foundation for 5G.  Rel-12, which was finalized in December 2014, contains a vast array of features for both LTE and HSPA+ that bring greater efficiency for networks and devices, as well as enable new applications and services. Many of the Rel-12 features were extended into Rel-13.  Rel-13, functionally frozen in December 2015 and completed in March 2016, continues to build on these technical capabilities while adding many robust new features.
Jim Seymour, Principal Engineer, Mobility CTO Group, Cisco and co-leader of the 5G Americas report explained, “3GPP Release 13 is just a peek behind the curtain for the unveiling of future innovations for LTE that will parallel the technical work at 3GPP on 5G. Both LTE and 5G will work together to form our connected future.”
The numerous features in the Rel-13 standards include the following for LTE-Advanced:
  • Active Antenna Systems (AAS), including beamforming, Multi-Input Multi-Output (MIMO) and Self-Organizing Network (SON) aspects
  • Enhanced signaling to support inter-site Coordinated Multi-Point Transmission and Reception (CoMP)
  • Carrier Aggregation (CA) enhancements to support up to 32 component carriers
  • Dual Connectivity (DC) enhancements to better support multi-vendor deployments with improved traffic steering
  • Improvements in Radio Access Network (RAN) sharing
  • Enhancements to Machine Type Communication (MTC)
  • Enhanced Proximity Services (ProSe)
Some of the standards work in Rel-13 related to spectrum efficiency include:                                                                                                                       
  • Licensed Assisted Access for LTE (LAA) in which LTE can be deployed in unlicensed spectrum
  • LTE Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Aggregation (LWA) where Wi-Fi can now be supported by a radio bearer and aggregated with an LTE radio bearer
  • Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) where lower power wider coverage LTE carriers have been designed to support IoT applications
  • Downlink (DL) Multi-User Superposition Transmission (MUST) which is a new concept for transmitting more than one data layer to multiple users without time, frequency or spatial separation
“The vision for 5G is being clarified in each step of the 3GPP standards. To understand those steps, 5G Americas provides reports on the developments in this succinct, understandable format,” said Vicki Livingston, Head of Communications for the association.

The whitepaper as follows:

Related posts:

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

New whitepaper on Narrowband Internet of Things

Rohde & Schwarz has just published a new whitepaper on Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT).

NB-IoT has been introduced as part of 3GPP Rel-13 where 3GPP has specified a new radio interface. NBIoT is optimized for machine type traffic and is kept as simple as possible in order to reduce device costs and to minimize battery consumption. In addition, it is also adapted to work in difficult radio conditions, which is a frequent operational area for certain machine type communication devices. Although NB-IoT is an independent radio interface, it is tightly connected with LTE, which also shows up in its integration in the current LTE specifications.
The paper contains the necessary technical details including the new channels, new frame and slot structure, new signalling messages including the system information messages, etc. It's a good read.

Its embedded below and can be downloaded from here:

Related posts:

Sunday, 29 May 2016

5G & 802.11ax

Samsung is one of the 5G pioneers who has been active in this area for quite a while, working in different technology areas but also making results and details available for others to appreciate and get an idea on what 5G is all about. 

I published a post back in 2014 from their trials going on then. Since then they have been improving on these results. They recently also published the 5G vision paper which is available here and here.

In the recent 5G Huddle, Raj Gawera from Samsung gave an excellent presentation (below) on the topic of "The future connected world". 

What we really liked is how closely 5G and 802.11ax can be considered aligned, not only in terms of requirements but also the roadmap.

Anyway, here is the presentation embedded below. Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Friday, 25 March 2016

State of LTE & Connectivity

There are some reports that have been recently published on connectivity and connection numbers. This post intends to provide this info.

Facebook released "State of connectivity 2015" report. As can be seen in the picture above, at the end of 2015, estimates showed that 3.2 billion people were online. This increase (up from 3 billion in 2014) is partly attributed to more affordable data and rising global incomes in 2014. Over the past 10 years, connectivity increased by approximately 200 to 300 million people per year.

While this is positive news in terms of growth, it also means that globally, 4.1 billion people were still not internet users in 2015.

The four key barriers to internet access include:

Availability: Proximity of the necessary infrastructure required for access.
Affordability: The cost of access relative to income.
Relevance: A reason for access, such as primary language content.
Readiness: The capacity to access, including skills, awareness and cultural acceptance.

The PDF version of report is available here.

The number of LTE users crossed 1 Billion, end of 2015 according to a report by GSA. OpenSignal has a summary blog post on this here.

Finally, Open Signal has published Global State of LTE Market report that provides coverage, speeds and a lot more information.

South Korea and Singapore have set themselves apart from the main body of global operators, providing both superior coverage and speed. The biggest standouts were South Korea’s Olleh and Singapore’s Singtel. Olleh excelled in coverage, but also provided one of the fastest connections speeds in our report, 34 Mbps. Meanwhile Singtel hit the 40 Mbps mark in speed while still maintaining a coverage rating of 86%. There are other notable country clusters in the upper right-hand quadrant as well, for instance operators from the Netherlands, Canada and Hungary.

Meanwhile, other countries have staked positions for themselves in specific regions of the plot. U.S. and Kuwaiti operators are tightly clustered in the lower right, meaning they offer excellent coverage but poor 4G speeds. Japan and Taiwan congregate in the middle far right with their exceptional coverage but only average speeds. Most of New Zealand and Romania’s operators hover at the center top of the chart, indicating impressive bandwidth but a general lack of availability.

Its makes interesting reading, PDF available here.

*** Added Later: 25/03/16:12.15 ***

A good breakdown of LTE subscriptions by countries by Ovum:

Saturday, 30 January 2016

SDN & NFV lecture

I have been meaning to add this interesting lecture delivered by Dr. Yaakov Stein of RAD at IETF.

The video, which cannot be embedded, is available here. If you cant wait to get into the main presentation, jump to 19.40 on the time bar at the bottom.

The slides from the presentation are embedded below.

Assuming that you understand NFV and SDN well, have a look at another interesting whitepaper that was published by Signals Research group, "Bending Iron – Software Defined Networks & Virtualization for the Mobile Operator", available here.

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:

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Discussion paper on '5G innovation opportunities'

Some of you may already be aware that in my day job, we have produced a discussion paper on '5G Innovation Opportunities'. The paper has two broad aims:

  • to compile and create a snap shot of the diverse range of challenges and opportunities involved in developing the next phase of mobile technologies, services and applications, given the umbrella title of '5G', and 
  • to identify the UK expertise and opportunities within what will undoubtedly be a global competition and collaboration to shape 5G

I am already in process of detailing the 5G RAN workshop held by 3GPP, you can read part 1 and part 2 of that; this paper complements it by providing more information about prototypes, test beds and trials. It does make an interesting read. The paper is embedded below and is available to download from here.

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, 4 August 2015

The Importance of License Exempt Frequency Bands

Some of you may be aware that I am also a Technical Programme Manager with the UK Spectrum Policy Forum. Recently we published a whitepaper that we had commissioned to Plum consulting on "Future use of Licence Exempt Radio Spectrum". It is an interested read not only for spectrum experts but also for people trying to understand the complex world of spectrum.

The report is very well written. Here are a few extracts in purple:

Licence exempt frequency bands are those that can be used by certain applications without the need for prior authorisation or an individual right of use. This does not mean that they are not subject to regulation – use must still comply with pre-defined technical rules to minimise the risk of interference. Most licence exempt bands are harmonised throughout Europe and are shared with other services or applications, such as radars or industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) equipment. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are probably the most familiar examples of mass-market licence exempt wireless applications, but the bands support many other consumer devices, such as cordless phones, doorbells, car key fobs, central heating controllers, baby monitors and intruder alarms. Looking to the future, licence exempt bands are likely to be a key enabler of wireless machine to machine (M2M) communication applications.

Key benefits of licence exempt bands include:
  • For end-users:
    • Greater convenience and flexibility by avoiding the need for lengthy runs of cable in home and work environments
    • Ability to connect mobile devices to a fixed broadband network, reducing dependence on the mobile network and potentially saving costs both for the service provider and the end-user
    • Enhanced convenience, safety and security, e.g. through installation of low cost wireless alarm systems or ability to unlock vehicles remotely rather than fumbling with keys
  • For equipment vendors and operators:
    • Facilitating market entry – there is no need to acquire a licence to deploy a service
    • Enabling niche applications or services to be addressed quickly and cheaply using existing technology and spectrum – this has been particularly effective in serving new machine to machine (M2M) applications in areas such as health, transport and home automation.
    • Providing certainty about spectrum access – there is no need to compete or pay for spectrum access (though the collective nature of spectrum use means quality of service cannot be guaranteed)
    • The ability to extend the reach of fixed communication networks, by providing wireless local area connectivity in homes, businesses and at public traffic hotspots.
The two most notable drawbacks are the inability to guarantee quality of service and the more limited geographic range that is typically available (reflecting the lower power limits that apply to these bands). Licence exempt wireless applications cannot claim protection from interference arising from other users or radio services. They operate in shared frequency bands and must not themselves cause harmful interference to other radio services.

From a regulator’s perspective, licence exempt bands can be more problematic than licensed bands in terms of refarming spectrum, since it is difficult to prevent the continued deployment of legacy equipment in the bands or to monitor effectively their utilisation. There is also generally no control over numbers and / or location of devices, which can make sharing difficult and limits the amount of spectrum that can be used in this way.

In Europe, regulation of licence exempt bands is primarily dealt with at an international level by European institutions. Most bands are fully harmonised, whereby free circulation of devices that comply with the relevant standards is effectively mandated throughout the EU. However some bands are subject to “soft” harmonisation, where the frequency limits and technical characteristics are harmonised but adoption of the band is left to national administrations to decide.

A key recommendation, which I think would be very interesting and useful would be: Promote further international harmonisation of licence exempt bands, in particular the recently identified 870 – 876 MHz and 915 – 921 MHz band that are likely to be critical for supporting future M2M demand growth in Europe.

Note that a similar sub-1GHz band has been recommended for 5G for M2M/IoT. The advantage for low frequencies is that the coverage area is very large, suitable for devices with low date rates. Depending on how the final 5G would be positioned, it may well use the license exempt bands, similar to the LAA/LTE-U kind of approach maybe.

The whitepaper is embedded below and is available to download from here:

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, 19 April 2015

3GPP Release-13 work started in earnest

The 3GPP news from some months back listed the main RAN features that have been approved for Release-13 and the work has already started on them. The following are the main features (links contain .zip files):

  • LTE in unlicensed spectrum (aka Licensed-Assisted Access) - RP-150055
  • Carrier Aggregation enhancements - RP-142286
  • LTE enhancements for Machine-Type Communications (MTC) - RP-141865
  • Enhancements for D2D - RP-142311
  • Study Item Elevation Beamforming / Full-Dimension MIMO - RP-141831
  • Study Item Enhanced multi-user transmission techniques - RP-142315
  • Study Item Indoor positioning - RP-141102
  • Study Item Single-cell Point-to-Multipoint (SC-PTM) - RP-142205

Another 3GPP presentation from late last year showed the system features that were being planned for Rel-13 as shown above.

I have also posted a few items earlier relating to Release13, as follows:

Ericsson has this week published a whitepaper on release 13, with a vision for 'Networked Society':
The vision of the Networked Society, where everything that benefits from being connected will be connected, places new requirements on connectivity. LTE is a key component in meeting these demands, and LTE release 13 is the next step in the LTE evolution.
Their whitepaper embedded below:

It should be pointed out that 5G work does not start until Release-15 as can be seen from my tweet

xoxoxo Added Later (26/04/2015) xoxoxo
I came across this presentation from Keysight (Agilent) where Moray Rumney has provided information in much more detail.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Report on Spectrum Usage and Demand in the UK

Last week at work, we released a report titled "UK Spectrum Usage & Demand". The only time most people hear about spectrum is when there are some auctions going on. Often a small chunk of spectrum gets sold off for billion(s) of dollars/pounds and these surely make a headline. As I recently found out, 50% of spectrum in UK is shared and 25% is license exempt.

Anyway, this first edition of the report focuses on Public Mobile, Utilities, Business Radio and Space/Satellites. Space is becoming an important area of focus here as it is a significant contributor to the UK economy.

Anyway, the report is embedded below and is available to download from here:

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Enhancing voice services using VoLTE

VoLTE has been a very popular topic on this blog. My overview of the LTE Voice Summit missed out narrowly from the Top 10 posts of 2014 but there were other posts related to VoLTE that made it.

In this magazine article, NTT Docomo not only talks about its own architecture and transition from 3G to 4G for voice and video, it provides some detailed insights from its own experience.

There is also discussion into technical details of the feature and examples of signalling for VoLTE registration and originating/terminating calls (control, session and user plane establishment), SMS, SRVCC, Video over LTE (ViLTE) and voice to video call switching.

The paper is embedded below and available from slideshare to download.

Related links:

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

M2M embedded UICC (eSIM) Architecture and Use Cases

Machine-to-Machine UICC, also known as M2M Form Factor (MFF) and is often referred to as embedded SIM (eSIM) is a necessity for the low data rate M2M devices that are generally small, single contained unit that is also sealed. The intention is that once this M2M device is deployed, then there is no need to remove the UICC from it. There may be a necessity to change the operator for some or the other reason. This gives rise to the need of multi-operator UICC (SIM) cards.

The GSMA has Embedded SIM specifications available for anyone interested in implementing this. There are various documents available on the GSMA page for those interested in this topic further.

While the complete article is embedded below, here is an extract of the basic working from the document:

A eUICC is a SIM card with a Remote Provisioning function, and is designed not to be removed or changed. It is able to store multiple communication profiles, one of which is enabled (recognized by the device and used for communication). The network of the MNO in the enabled profile is used for communication. Profiles other than the enabled profile are disabled (not recognized by the device). With conventional SIM cards, the ICCID is used as the unique key to identify the SIM card, but with eUICC, the ICCID is the key used to identify profiles, and a new ID is defined, called the eUICCID, which is used as the unique key for the eSIM

GSMA defines two main types of profile.
1) Provisioning Profile: This is the communication profile initially stored in the eUICC when it is shipped. It is a limited-application communication profile used only for downloading and switching Operational Profiles, described next.
2) Operational Profile: This is a communication profile for connecting to enterprise servers or the Internet. It can also perform the roles provided by a Provisioning profile

An eSIM does not perform profile switching as a simple IC card function, but rather switches profiles based on instructions from equipment called a Subscription Manager. A Subscription Manager is maintained and managed by an MNO. The overall eSIM architecture, centering on the Subscription Manager, is shown in Figure 3, using the example of switching profiles within the eUICC.

An eUICC must have at least one profile stored in it to enable OTA functionality, and one of the stored profiles must be enabled. The enabled profile uses the network of MNO A for communication. When the user switches profiles, a switch instruction is sent to the Subscription Manager. At that time, if the profile to switch to is not stored in the eUICC, the profile is first downloaded. When it receives a switch instruction, the eUICC performs a switch of the enabled profile as an internal process.

After the switch is completed, it uses the network of MNO B to send notification that the switch has completed to the Subscription Manager, completing the process. The same procedure is used to switch back to the original MNO A, or to some other MNO C.

Anyway, here is the complete paper:

Monday, 1 December 2014

Bringing Network Function Virtualization (NFV) to LTE

SDN and NFV have gained immense popularity recently. Not only are they considered important for reducing the Capex and Opex but are being touted as an important cog in the 4.5G/5G network. See here for instance.

I introduced NFV to the blog nearly a year back here. ETSI had just published their first specs around then. When I talked about SDN/NFV back in May, these ETSI standards were evolving into a significant reference documents. This is a reason 4G Americas recently published this whitepaper (embedded below), for the operators to start migrating to NFV architecture to reap long term benefits. The following is from the whitepaper:

The strategies and solutions explored in the 4G Americas report on NFV aim to address these issues and others by leveraging IT virtualization technology to consolidate many network equipment types onto industry standard high volume servers, networking and storage. NFV is about separating network functions from proprietary hardware and then consolidating and running those functions as virtualized applications on a commodity server. Broadly speaking, NFV will enable carriers to virtualize network functions and run them as software applications within their networks. NFV focuses on virtualizing network functions such as firewalls, Wide-Area Network (WAN) acceleration, network routers, border controllers (used in Voice over IP (VoIP) networks), Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) and other specialized network applications. NFV is applicable to a wide variety of networking functions in both fixed and mobile networks.
“NFV is making great progress throughout the world as operators work with their vendor partners to address the opportunities of increasing efficiency within their network infrastructure elements,” stated Chris Pearson, President of 4G Americas. “There is a great deal of collaborative innovation and cooperation between wireless carriers, IT vendors, networking companies and wireless infrastructure vendors making NFV for LTE possible.”
Global communication service providers, along with many leading vendors, are participating in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute’s (ETSI) Industry Specification Group for Network Functions Virtualization (NFV ISG) to address challenges such as:
  • An increasing variety of proprietary hardware appliances like routers, firewalls and switches
  • Space and power to accommodate these appliances
  • Capital investment challenges
  • Short lifespan
  • A long procure-design-integrate-deploy lifecycle
  • Increasing complexity and diversity of network traffic
  • Network capacity limitations
Three main benefits of NFV outlined in the 4G Americas paper include:
  • Improved capital efficiency: Provisioning capacity for all functions versus each individual function, providing more granular capacity, exploiting the larger economies of scale associated with Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) hardware, centralizing Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) in data centers where latency requirements allow, and separately and dynamically scaling VNFs residing in the user (or data or forwarding) plane designed for execution in the cloud, control and user-plane functions as needed.
  • Operational efficiencies: Deploying VNFs as software using cloud management techniques which enables scalable automation at the click of an operator’s (or customer’s) mouse or in response to stimulus from network analytics. The ability to automate onboarding, provisioning and in-service activation of new virtualized network functions can yield significant savings. 
  • Service agility, innovation and differentiation: In deploying these new VNFs, time-to-market for new network services can be significantly reduced, increasing the operator’s ability to capture market share and develop market-differentiating services.
In particular, mobile operators can take advantage of NFV as new services are introduced. Evolved Packet Core (EPC), Voice over LTE (VoLTE), IP Multimedia System (IMS) and enhanced messaging services, among others, are examples of opportunities to use virtualized solutions. Some operators started deploying elements of NFV in 2013 with an expectation that many service areas could be mostly virtualized in the next decade.

The whitepaper as follows: