Monday, 31 December 2012

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:

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Future mobile technology with Graphene

Some days back I attended an interesting talk where the speaker showed how Graphene will revolutionise the future mobile devices. Here is what Graphene is:

Another version:

A concept phone video from Samsung

And a Nokia demo from the last MWC that uses Graphene as a sensor and also opens the possibility of using other gestures except for touch

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Data v/s Signalling Traffic in Dongles and Phones

From a presentation by Peter Zidar in the Small Cells Global Congress 2012.

The above picture shows that even though the amount data traffic carried by dongles is much more than the amount of traffic carried by the mobile phones, the amount of signalling is far higher from the mobiles than that of dongles. This is mainly because the mobiles need to conserve the battery power and for this reason they disconnect from the network as soon as there is no need for exchange of data. Remember the Fast Dormancy issue in the smartphones? If not see this post.

Related posts:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

IMS Whitepapers from Spirent

Couple of old but interesting whitepapers from Spirent available, in case you are interesting in IMS. Available to download from here (registration required)

Related blog posts:

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Spectrum auction results from The Netherlands

The result of the auction: 


4,9+9,7 25

The total price of the auction:
  • Vodafone 1,380,800,000 euro (1.381 billion)
  • KPN 1,351,852,000 euros (1.352 billion)
  • T-Mobile 910,681,000 euro (910.8 million)
  • Tele2 euro 160,813,000 (160.8 million)
After the auction is the distribution of the main bands is as follows:
 800900 no  900 new 1800 no 1800 new 2100 no 2100 new 2600
 KPN2x10  2x12,4 2x10 2x18,4 2x20 2x15 2x20 2x10
 Vodafone2x10 2x12,4 2x10 2x4,8 2x20 2x15 2x20 2x10
 T-Mobile 2x10 2x15 2x30,6 2x30 2x20 2x20 2x5
 Tele22x10 - - - - - - 2x20
 TO - - - - - 2x20


LTE Rollouts planned:
Vodafone - Summer 2013
KPN - February 2013

Added 15/12/12:11.48

You can also see it visually as in the slide below:

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Half Duplex Operation (HD-FDD) in LTE

It was interesting to hear the other day that there is an option for HD-FDD but it is still undergoing investigation and not standardised yet. From what I hear, operators are showing an interest and we may see it coming to an operator near us in the next couple of years.

Complete presentation below:

The advantages are obvious but probably the only reason this was not standardised actively is probably because then peak rates often quoted when promoting technology will be halved. The economy of scale is also important and we may not see this becoming popular unless many operators decide together to push for this.

Other posts of interest:

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:

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

5 videos on Augmented Reality

Looks like Augmented Reality (AR) is getting hot, just in time for Christmas. I wonder how many products will be sold based on AR. As I suggested in an earlier post, there may be 1 Billion users by 2020. Here are the videos:

Google's Ingress is an AR baased game:

Augmented Reality Book of Spells, Harry Potter experience:

Wonder when/ever it will come to a mobile near you.

LightBeam - Interacting with Augmented Real-World Objects in Pico Projections:

The next is a bit old but worth mentioning:

LuminAR from MIT

Finally, the science of Haptics will allows us to "touch" objects in a virtual world in future

Augmented Reality and Touch

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Data growth from 0.6EB/Mo to 10.6EB/Mo by 2016 (18x)

A slightly old slide that I found while looking for some information but worth putting up here.

1 EB (Exabyte) = 1000000000000000000B = 1018 bytes = 1000000000gigabytes = 1000000terabytes = 1000petabytes

As we can see, Cisco predicts (and I agree) that the mobile data consumption will increase from 0.6 exabytes per month to 10.6 exabytes per month by 2016. What is really debatable is what actually is a mobile device and how much of this data will go through the operators network.

If for example a tablet contains SIM card but you use your own home/work WiFi. Does this qualify as a mobile device and is this data included. What if its exactly the same scenario and the device does not have a SIM card then would you say this is a mobile device? What happens when the operator allows you to use an Operator WiFi which is secured via login/password and you use the tablet without SIM card on an operator WiFi. Would you count this data, is the device considered as a mobile device.

The bottom line is that data usage will continue to grow but probably not on the mobile networks. WiFi would be a prime candidate for offloading, due to it being mostly free (or costing much less - except in the hotels). Some of the recent pricing by the operators make me feel that they do not want the users to use their network for every day use, only for important work.

See Also:

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:

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Connected Lighting of the future

This is an advertisement from Philips about their personal wireless lighting system called Hue. This is also the reason why we say that in future everything would be connected and with its own IP address (though this is not the case in Hue).

With Internet of Things (IoT) becoming more mainstream, it would be interesting to see these things becoming more popular and we will hopefully see more interesting apps.

This article makes an interesting reading too.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Quick Introduction to LTE-Advanced

An article written by me for the Mobile Europe magazine where I try and explain LTE-A without going in technical details. This also includes the state of market on who is doing what.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Evolution of 'Internet of Things' to 'Internet of Everything' #IoE

Will the 'Internet of Humans' and the 'Internet of Things' (IoT) evolve into 'Internet of Everything' (IoE). This is certainly what Dave Evans, the Cisco Futurist thinks. This is from his blog:

From the Internet of Things (IoT), where we are today, we are just beginning to enter a new realm: the Internet of Everything (IoE), where things will gain context awareness, increased processing power, and greater sensing abilities. Add people and information into the mix and you get a network of networks where billions or even trillions of connections create unprecedented opportunities and give things that were silent a voice.

As more things, people, and data become connected, the power of the Internet (essentially a network of networks) grows exponentially. This thinking (“Metcalfe’s law”) comes from Robert Metcalfe, well-known technologist and founder of 3Com, who stated that the value of a network increases proportionately to the square of the number of users. In essence, the power of the network is greater than the sum of its parts, making the Internet of Everything, incredibly powerful.

You can read more here.

See Also:

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.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

CSFB Performance

Here is another presentation from Qualcomm from the '4G World'.

With regards to SI Tunneling mentioned in the presentation, I found the following in another Qualcomm whitepapers:

With Release 9 Enhanced Release with Redirection—SI Tunneling, the device follows 3GPP release 9, where SIB information can be tunneled from the target Radio Access Network (RAN) via the core network to the source RAN and be included in the redirection message sent to the device. This can avoid reading any SIBs on the target cell. 

The predominant solutions deployed today are based on Release 8 Release with Redirection — SIB Skipping, in order to achieve good call setup times, good reliability, and simplify deployments. It is anticipated that Release 9 Enhanced Release with Redirection will be deployed in the near future. At this time, there is not as much push for handover-based CSFB since both Release 8 Release with Redirection—SIB Skipping and Release 9 Enhanced Release with Redirection—SI Tunneling have largely addressed any call setup time issues that may have existed with the Basic Release with Redirection solution.

I have blogged on this topic before, here.

More on Dual Radio here and SVLTE here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

17 LTE Voice Modes

No wonder why LTE chipsets are complicated.

From Qualcomm's presentation in 4G World, available here.

Monday, 5 November 2012

3GPP Standards Self Organizing Networks

The following is a presentation by 3GPP on Self-Organising Networks in the SON Conference 2012:

A basic tutorial on SON is available also on 3GPP website here.

A detailed list of 3GPP work items on SON is available to view and download from here.

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.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Quick summary of the 'Operator Mindshare' session from Small Cells Global Congress

We had quite a few interesting discussions in the Small Cells Global Congress, Operator Mindshare session. Here are some of the things that were discussed:

Licensed v/s Unlicensed deployments:
Many operators are now deploying WiFi in the unlicensed spectrum. This can help in the short term to alleviate the capacity problems but as more and more of this unlicensed spectrum nodes get deployed, they create interference between each other and make them unusable for anyone. An example was provided about Tokyo where in some areas, too many free WiFi hotspots means its unusable for anyone. One solution is to have one operator do all the logistics for the deployment and other operators can pay to use the service. Who (operator) would be the first one to go through the process of deploying everything first? Everyone would prefer wait and watch approach.

Providing free WiFi: 
The consensus was that the free WiFi provided by operators don't give any additional benefit to them and there isn't much of a business case. 

Consumer awareness for residential Femtocells:
Globally, not much effort is being done by the operator to make the end users aware of residential Femtocells and this is hampering the take-up  A point was made about when Vodafone launched their product, Vodafone Access Gateway (VAG), it was perceived as negative thing because the ads show that if the coverage was poor you can install this to improve coverage. From a users perspective, it showed that the network had poor coverage. Still consumer awareness is important, how to do it?

Placement of Small Cells:
Where should the public small cells (metrocells) be placed. The Biggest challenges are:
* Site Acquisition is the biggest problem. - This is a bigger problem if lap posts are sought to deploy on public locations
* Rent
* Planning
* Installation
* Power - Lamp posts are centrally switched off, so small cells on laamp posts may need alternative sources
* Power meter if used in a shared location
* Bullet proof (especially in the US)
* Backhaul - especially is non line of sight case.
* Health concerns (if visible)
* Visual appearance
* Opex

Operators should be clearer in what they want. Right now the vendors are pushing the solutions that operators not necessarily need and not giving what the operators want. The Backhaul should be more flexible and future proof. It should be able to cater for upcoming technologies like Carrier Aggregation, CoMP, etc.

Shared v/s Dedicated carrier for 3G Small Cells:
Dedicated carrier is ideal but is not easily possible for most operators. When shared carrier is used it causes interference and handovers are not easy. 

Interoperability in the new hardware equipment for support of small cells:
Certain vendors are still not creating the the networks that can interwork with other vendors equipment. As we are moving towards LTE, this seems to be a much bigger problem. Sprint for example has 3 completely different networks in the US with no interoperability between them. Standards are not helping either as they do not dictate implementation. 

Some Interesting discussions on Case studies, Business Cases, etc.

Mosaic Telecom:
* Deployed residential Femtocells
* Deployed for coverage purpose
* Dont have handover capability yet
* Want to be able to deploy Microcells/Small Cells on Highways, around 1-2Km radius
* Their typical Microcells use 40W output power
* The cost of deployment if Macro using cabinet, antenna, etc is roughly 100K per site.

Telefonica, O2 trials in UK
* To get access to council lamp posts, it was required that the bidder offer free WiFi
* O2 set a high bar by paying lot of money to the councils in London, but this is not a sustainable model

A Business case for carrier neutral WiFi on light pole in Lima, Peru
* Each light pole can have 3 different locations
* The retail business case is to get the user to usse the offering and maybe offer the operator services, tempting to move to this operator from current one
* There can be a wholesale case of selling the WiFi capacity in bulk to companies, organisations

Some interesting statistics thrown up:
* WiFi cell radius is 30m in South America
* 83% of people in US think that operators should provide free WiFi because of lousy coverage of the mobile network.
* The first 4000 customers of a WiMax operator were using an average of 750 MB per day, 22.5GB per month.
* Some fixed Internet operators are now thinking of putting a cap on unlimited offering at 350GB per month.

There were no consensus and conclusions for many items so feel free to write your opinion in the comments.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Whats inside a Picocell?

Interesting pic from Public wireless:

• Intelligent Cell Control & Management Boards
  – Evolved OA&M for remote system management and monitoring
• Single/Multi Baseband Boards
• Digital Carrier Boards
• RF Chains / Power Amplifiers
• Various WAN Backhaul Modules
  – Wireline
    – Fiber, DOCSIS, Ethernet
  – Wireless
    – Satellite, NLOS, Microwave
• Power Supply + Battery Backup
• IP67 Outdoor thermal design

The presentation is available from Small Cell Forum website here.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Developing and Integrating a High Performance HetNet

I have seen on Twitter some people think that HetNets (Heterogeneous Networks) is just a new name for the Hierarchical Cell Structures (HCS). The main difference between then is that while HCS requires all layers to have different frequencies, HetNets can use the same or the different frequency. In case the same frequency is used, there needs to be a way to manage interference between the different layers. In fact the term 'layers' is hardly used with HetNets as there is nothing strictly hierarchical with different types of cells that co-exist in a HetNet. Typically a HetNet comprises of Macro cells, Micro/Pico cells, other Small Cells (including Femtocells) and WiFi as well (if used to offload traffic).

This recent whitepaper from 4G Americas is an excellent source to understand more about HetNets

Available to download from Slideshare here.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Humour: 5 Stages of Bug Fixing

The above Dilbert strip is a reality for a lot of us, everyday. There are many bugs in each product and we only have a limited amount of time and resources that can be dedicated to fixing bugs. The '5 stages of bug fixing' was presented in one of the Cambridge Wireless events not long ago. I am not sure if allowed to mention by whom, so here it is anonymously.

The five stages of Bug Fixing

If you think about it from the Tester's point of view, this is what he prays for everyday. See the old post here.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Intelligent Devices and Smart Journeys

Couple of days back, I posted some videos that show technology advancements for the mobile phones. Here is a presentation by Peter Whale from Qualcomm in a recent Cambridge Wireless event about how Sensors and Context-engine will make the future devices much more intelligent then they already are.

A shameless plug for my presentation on the similar topic from the LTE World Summit 2012, that has now crossed 6000 views, available here.

Monday, 22 October 2012

M2M and the 'Big Data'

Couple of months back, there was this Dilbert strip on the big data.

Apparently, Social networks, M2M devices and many other sources of data, keeps on generating data all the time. This data can provide us with a lot of useful information if proper analytics can be done on it. This is a real challenge in guess. There will also be security and privacy implications that may decide how and what can be used and by whom.

Here is a simple introductory video by Intel explaining what Big Data is:

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Extended Access Barring (EAB) in Release 11 to avoid MTC overload

M2M is going to be big. With the promise of 50 Billion devices by 2020, the networks are already worried about the overloading due to signalling by millions of devices occurring at any given time. To counter this, they have been working on avoiding overloading of the network for quite some time as blogged about here.

The feature to avoid this overload is known as Extended Access Barring (EAB). For E-UTRAN, in Rel-10, a partial solution was implemented and a much better solution has been implemented in Rel-11. For GERAN a solution was implemented in Rel-10. The following presentation gives a high level overview of EAB for E-UTRAN and GERAN.

In Rel-11, a new System Information Block (SIB 14) has been added that is used specifically for EAB. Whereas in Rel-10, the UE would still send the RRCConnectionRequest, in Rel-11, the UE does not even need to do that, thereby congesting the Random Access messages.

The following is from RRC 36.331 (2012-09)

–                SystemInformationBlockType14

The IE SystemInformationBlockType14 contains the EAB parameters.
SystemInformationBlockType14 information element

SystemInformationBlockType14-r11 ::= SEQUENCE {
    eab-Param-r11                        CHOICE {
       eab-Common-r11                       EAB-Config-r11,
       eab-PerPLMN-List-r11                 SEQUENCE (SIZE (1..6)) OF EAB-ConfigPLMN-r11
    }                                                  OPTIONAL, -- Need OR
    lateNonCriticalExtension             OCTET STRING          OPTIONAL, -- Need OP

EAB-ConfigPLMN-r11 ::=               SEQUENCE {
    eab-Config-r11                   EAB-Config-r11            OPTIONAL -- Need OR

EAB-Config-r11 ::=               SEQUENCE {
    eab-Category-r11                 ENUMERATED {a, b, c, spare},
    eab-BarringBitmap-r11            BIT STRING (SIZE (10))


SystemInformationBlockType14 field descriptions
Extended access class barring for AC 0-9. The first/ leftmost bit is for AC 0, the second bit is for AC 1, and so on.
Indicates the category of UEs for which EAB applies. Value a corresponds to all UEs, value b corresponds to the UEs that are neither in their HPLMN nor in a PLMN that is equivalent to it, and value c corresponds to the UEs that are neither in the PLMN listed as most preferred PLMN of the country where the UEs are roaming in the operator-defined PLMN selector list on the USIM, nor in their HPLMN nor in a PLMN that is equivalent to their HPLMN, see TS 22.011 [10].
The EAB parameters applicable for all PLMN(s).
The EAB parameters per PLMN, listed in the same order as the PLMN(s) occur in plmn-IdentityList in SystemInformationBlockType1.


Here is my attempt to explain the difference in overload control mechanism in Rel-8, Rel-10 and Rel-11. Please note that not actual message names are used.

As usual, happy to receive feedback, comments, suggestions, etc.