Friday, 25 December 2015

Top 10 posts for 2015

Saturday, 19 December 2015

ADS-B to enable global flight tracking


One of the things that the World Radio Conference 2015 (WRC-15) enabled was to provide a universal spectrum allocation for flight tracking. What this means in simple terms is that once completely implemented, flights will hopefully no longer be lost, like MH370. It will now be possible to accurately track flights with satellites across nearly 100% of the globe, up from 30% today, by 2018.

To make you better understand this, see this video below:


Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS) is a surveillance technique in which aircraft automatically provide, via a data link, data derived from on-board navigation and position-fixing systems, including aircraft identification, four-dimensional position and additional data as appropriate. ADS data is displayed to the controller on a screen that replicates a radar screen. ICAO Doc 4444 PANS-ATM notes that air traffic control service, may be predicated on the use of ADS provided that identification of the aircraft involved is unambiguously established. Two main versions of ADS are currently in use:

  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) is a function on an aircraft or surface vehicle that broadcasts position, altitude, vector and other information for use by other aircraft, vehicles and by ground facilities. It has become the main application of the ADS principle.
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) functions similarly to ADS-B but the data is transmitted based on an explicit contract between an ANSP and an aircraft. This contract may be a demand contract, a periodic contract, an event contract and/or an emergency contract. ADS-C is most often employed in the provision of ATS over transcontinental or transoceanic areas which see relatively low traffic levels. 

The ITU press release on this topic:

The frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz has been allocated to the aeronautical mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for reception by space stations of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) emissions from aircraft transmitters.

The frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz is currently being utilized for the transmission of ADS-B signals from aircraft to terrestrial stations within line-of-sight. The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) has now allocated this frequency band in the Earth-to-space direction to enable transmissions from aircraft to satellites. This extends ADS-B signals beyond line-of-sight to facilitate reporting the position of aircraft equipped with ADS-B anywhere in the world, including oceanic, polar and other remote areas.

WRC-15 recognized that as the standards and recommended practices (SARP) for systems enabling position determination and tracking of aircraft are developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the performance criteria for satellite reception of ADS-B signals will also need to be addressed by ICAO.

This agreement follows the disappearance and tragic loss of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in March 2014 with 239 people on board, which spurred worldwide discussions on global flight tracking and the need for coordinated action by ITU and other relevant organizations.

For more details see: globalflightsafety.org

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.


Monday, 7 December 2015

ITU Workshop on VoLTE and ViLTE Interoperability



ITU recently held a workshop on "Voice and Video Services Interoperability Over Fixed-Mobile Hybrid Environments,Including IMT-Advanced (LTE)" in Geneva, Switzerland on 1st December 2015.

The following is the summary of that workshop:



I also like this presentation by R&S:



All the presentations from the workshop are available online from ITU website here.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Mobility challenges in Future Cities


I got an opportunity this week to attend an interesting 'Sir Henry Royce Memorial Lecture 2015' organised by The IET. The topic of the presentation was "Mobility for the 21st Century".

Professor John Miles reflected upon the reasons why the car dominates our urban environments and explored the challenges of freeing our cities from the log-jam of traffic congestion and associated pollution which currently seems inevitable. He proposition that, to be successful, future public transport and shared ridership systems must simply represent a better journey option than taking the car. The question is, as engineers, how we might meet this challenge and deliver success in the coming decades?

Some reactions from twitter:




Anyway, the video of the presentation is as follows:





Related news:

Saturday, 28 November 2015

5G, NFV and Network Slicing


5G networks have multifaceted requirements where the network needs to be optimised for data rate, delay and connection numbers. While some industry analysts suspect that these requirements cannot be met by a single network, vendors suggest that Network Slicing will allow all these requirements to be met by a single network.

Ericsson's whitepaper provides a good definition of what network slicing means:

A logical instantiation of a network is often called a network slice. Network slices are possible to create with both legacy platforms and network functions, but virtualization technologies substantially lower barriers to using the technology, for example through increased flexibility and decreased costs.
...
Another aspect of management and network slicing is setting up separate management domains for different network slices. This may allow for completely separate management of different parts of the network that are used for different purposes. Examples of use cases include mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and enterprise solutions. This kind of network slice would, in current Evolved Packet Core (EPC) networks, only cover the PDN gateway (PGW) and the policy control resource function (PCRF). However, for machine type communication (MTC) and machine-tomachine (M2M) solutions, it is likely that it would also cover the Mobile Management Entities (MMEs) and Serving Gateways (SGWs).


NGMN came out with the 5G whitepaper which touched on this subject too: 

Figure above illustrates an example of multiple 5G slices concurrently operated on the same infrastructure. For example, a 5G slice for typical smartphone use can be realized by setting fully-fledged functions distributed across the network. Security, reliability and latency will be critical for a 5G slice supporting automotive use case. For such a slice, all the necessary (and potentially dedicated) functions can be instantiated at the cloud edge node, including the necessary vertical application due to latency constraints. To allow on-boarding of such a vertical application on a cloud node, sufficient open interfaces should be defined. For a 5G slice supporting massive machine type devices (e.g., sensors), some basic C-plane functions can be configured, omitting e.g., any mobility functions, with contentionbased resources for the access. There could be other dedicated slices operating in parallel, as well as a generic slice providing basic best-effort connectivity, to cope with unknown use cases and traffic. Irrespective of the slices to be supported by the network, the 5G network should contain functionality that ensures controlled and secure operation of the network end-to-end and at any circumstance.


Netmanias has a detailed article on this topic which is quite interesting too, its available here.

Recently, South Korean operator SK Telecom and Ericsson concluded a successful trial of this technology, see here. Ericsson is also working with NTT Docomo on 5G including network slicing, see here.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

'Mobile Edge Computing' (MEC) or 'Fog Computing' (fogging) and 5G & IoT


Picture Source: Cisco

The clouds are up in the sky whereas the fog is low, on the ground. This is how Fog Computing is referred to as opposed to the cloud. Fog sits at the edge (that is why edge computing) to reduce the latency and do an initial level of processing thereby reducing the amount of information that needs to be exchanged with the cloud.

The same paradigm is being used in case of 5G to refer to edge computing, which is required when we are referring to 1ms latency in certain cases.

As this whitepaper from Ovum & Eblink explains:

Mobile Edge Computing (MEC): Where new processing capabilities are introduced in the base station for new applications, with a new split of functions and a new interface between the baseband unit (BBU) and the remote radio unit (RRU).
...
Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) is an ETSI initiative, where processing and storage capabilities are placed at the base station in order to create new application and service opportunities. This new initiative is called “fog computing” where computing, storage, and network capabilities are deployed nearer to the end user.

MEC contrasts with the centralization principles discussed above for C-RAN and Cloud RAN. Nevertheless, MEC deployments may be built upon existing C-RAN or Cloud RAN infrastructure and take advantage of the backhaul/fronthaul links that have been converted from legacy to these new centralized architectures.

MEC is a long-term initiative and may be deployed during or after 5G if it gains support in the 5G standardization process. Although it is in contrast to existing centralization efforts, Ovum expects that MEC could follow after Cloud RAN is deployed in large scale in advanced markets. Some operators may also skip Cloud RAN and migrate from C-RAN to MEC directly, but MEC is also likely to require the structural enhancements that C-RAN and Cloud RAN will introduce into the mobile network.

The biggest challenge facing MEC in the current state of the market is its very high costs and questionable new service/revenue opportunities. Moreover, several operators are looking to invest in C-RAN and Cloud RAN in the near future, which may require significant investment to maintain a healthy network and traffic growth. In a way, MEC is counter to the centralization principle of Centralized/Cloud RAN and Ovum expects it will only come into play when localized applications are perceived as revenue opportunities.

And similarly this Interdigital presentation explains:

Extends cloud computing and services to the edge of the network and into devices. Similar to cloud, fog provides network, compute, storage (caching) and services to end users. The distinguishing feature of Fog reduces latency & improves QoS resulting in a superior user experience

Here is a small summary of the patents with IoT and Fog Computing that has been flied.



Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Cellular IoT (CIoT) or LoRa?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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






Further reading:


Monday, 9 November 2015

5G and Evolution of the Inter-connected Network


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

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

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

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



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


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




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

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

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Quick Summary of LTE Voice Summit 2015 (#LTEVoice)

Last year's summary of the LTE voice summit was very much appreciated so I have created one this year too.

The status of VoLTE can be very well summarised as can be seen in the image above.
‘VoLTE network deployment is the one of the most difficult project ever, the implementation complexity and workload is unparalleled in history’ - China Mobile group vice-president Mr.Liu Aili
Surprisingly, not many presentations were shared so I have gone back to the tweets and the pictures I took to compile this report. You may want to download the PDF from slideshare to be able to see the links. Hope you find it useful.



Related links:

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Updates from the 3GPP RAN 5G Workshop - Part 3

Continuing with the updates from 5G RAN workshop, part 1 and part 2 here.
Dish network wants to have a satellite based 5G network. A recent article from Light Reading shows the following:

Dish states that there are misconceptions about what satellite technology can deliver for 5G networks. Essentially Dish says that satellites will be capable of delivering two-way communications to support 5G.

A hybrid ground and space 5G network would use small satellites that each use a "spot beam" to provide a dedicated area of two-way coverage on the ground. This is different than the old model of using one satellite with a single beam to provide a one-way service like a TV broadcast over a landmass.

Dish argues that newer, smaller satellites, equipped with the latest multi-antenna arrays (MIMO) would allow for "ubiquitous connectivity through hybrid satellite and terrestrial networks," the operator writes. In this model, satellites could connect areas that it would be hard to network otherwise like mountains and lakes.

The presentation from Dish is as follows:



Alcatel-Lucent provided a whitepaper along with the presentation. The paper provides an interesting view of 5G from their point of view. Its embedded below:



The presentation from Kyocera focused on TD-LTE which I think will play a prominent role in 5G. In case of wide channels, TD-LTE can help predict the channel accurately, which is a drawback for FDD at high frequencies. Their presentation is available here.

The presentation from NEC focussed on different technologies that will play a role in 5G. Their presentation is available here.
The final presentation we will look at this time is by the South Korean operator, KT. What is interesting to see is that in the part 1 we saw in the chairman's summary that 5G will come in two phases; Rel-15 will be phase 1 and Rel-16 will be phase 2. In the summary slide in KT's presentation, it looks like they are going to consider Rel-14 as 5G. Its not at all surprising considering that Verizon has said that they want to commercialise 5G by 2017, even though 5G will not be fully specified according to 3GPP by then. Anyway, here is the presentation by KT.



Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Spectrum Sharing using Licensed Shared Access (LSA)

The UK Spectrum Policy Forum has just released a report looking at Spectrum sharing approaches and in particular, Licensed Shared Access (LSA). I really like this picture shown above that summarises different approached like the DSA, LSA, etc. The report is available to download from here and is embedded below.



Related posts:

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.



Saturday, 10 October 2015

VoLTE Roaming: LBO, S8HR or HBO

There was an interesting discussion on different roaming scenarios in the LTE Voice Summit on 29th, 30th Sep. in London. The above picture provides a brief summary of these well known options. I have blogged about LBO/RAVEL here and S8HR here. A presentation by NTT Docomo in a GSMA webinar here provides more details on these architectures (slide 29 onwards - though it is more biased towards S8HR).

Ajay Joseph, CTO, iBasis gave an interesting presentation that highlighted the problems present in both these approaches.

In case of LBO, the biggest issue is that the home operator need to do a testing with each roaming partner to make sure VoLTE roaming works smoothly. This will be time consuming and expensive.

In case of S8HR, he provided a very good example. Imagine a VoLTE subscriber from USA is visiting Singapore. He now needs to make a phone call to someone in Indonesia (which is just next to Singapore). The flow of data would be all the way from Singapore to USA to Indonesia and back. This can introduce delays and impact QoE. The obvious advantage of S8HR is that since the call setup and media go to Home PMN (Public Mobile Network), no additional testing with the Visited PMN is required. The testing time is small and rollouts are quicker.

iBasis are proposing a solution called Hub Breakout (HBO) which would offer the best of LBO and S8HR. Each VoLTE operator would need to test their interoperability only with iBasis. Emergency calls and lawful intercept that does not work with S8HR would work with the HBO solution.

While I agree that this is a good solution, I am sure that many operators would not use this solution and there may be other solutions proposed in due course as well. Reminds me of this XKCD cartoon:


Anyway, here is the iBasis presentation:



Sunday, 4 October 2015

Updates from the 3GPP RAN 5G Workshop - Part 2

I have finally got round to having a look at some more presentations on 5G from the recently concluded 3GPP RAN 5G Workshop. Part 1 of the series is here.
Panasonic introduced this concept of Sub-RAT's and Cradle-RAT's. I think it should be obvious from the picture above what they mean but you can refer to their presentation here for more details.


Ericsson has provided a very detailed presentation (but I assume a lot of slides are backup slides, only for reference). They have introduced what they call as "NX" (No compatibility constraints). This is in line to what other vendors have referred to as well that above 6GHz, for efficiency, new frame structures and waveforms would serve best. Their slides are here.



Nokia's proposal is that in the phase 1 of 5G, the 5G Access point (or 5G NodeB) would connect to the 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC). In phase 2, both the LTE and the 5G (e)NodeB's would connect to the 5G core. Their presentation is available here.

Before we move on to the next one, I should mention that I am aware of some research that is underway, mostly by universities where they are exploring an architecture without a centralised core. The core network functionality would be distributed and some of the important data would be cached on the edge. There will be challenges to solve regarding handovers and roaming; also privacy and security issues in the latter case.
I quite like the presentation by GM research about 5G in connected cars. They make a very valid point that "Smartphones and Vehicles are similar but not the same. The presentation is embedded below.



Qualcomm presented a very technical presentation as always, highlighting that they are thinking about various future scenarios. The picture above, about phasing is in a way similar to the Ericsson picture. It also highlights what we saw in part 1, that mmW will arrive after WRC-19, in R16. Full presentation here.


The final presentation we are looking is by Mitsubishi. Their focus is on Massive MIMO which may become a necessity at higher frequencies. As the frequency goes higher, the coverage goes down. To increase the coverage area, beamforming can be used. The more the antennas, the more focused the beam could be. They have also proposed the use of SC-FDMA in DL. Their presentation is here and also embedded below.



Monday, 21 September 2015

Updates from the 3GPP RAN 5G Workshop - Part 1

3GPP held a 5G Workshop in Phoenix last week. 550 delegates and over 70 presentations contributed to the discussion, which covered the full range of requirements that will feed TSG RAN work items for the next five years. I will eventually look at all the presentations and highlight the ones that I find interesting as a part of this blog. Due to the vast number of presentations, I will split them into a few blog posts.

Lets start with the chairman summary. The chair highlighted three high level use cases that 5G needs to address (This has been highlighted in many presentations, see here for example):
  • Enhanced Mobile Broadbandare 
  • Massive Machine Type Communications
  • Ultra-reliable and Low Latency Communications
As can be seen in the picture above, 3GPP is planning to split the 5G work into two phases. Phase 1 (Rel-15) will look at a subset of requirements that are important for the commercial needs of the day. Phase 2 (Rel-16) will look at more features, use cases, detailed requirements, etc.

Here is the chair summary of the workshop:




The presentation (RWS-150002) from Motorola/Lenovo highlighted the need to handle different spectrum. For sub-6GHz, the existing air interface could work with slight modifications. For spectrum between 6GHz and 30GHz, again a similar air interface like 4G may be good enough but for above 30GHz, there is a need for new one die to phase noise.

The presentation by CATT or China Academy of Telecommunication Technology (RWS-150003) is quite interesting and is embedded below. They also propose Pattern Division Multiple Access (PDMA).




Orange (RWS-150004) has definitely put a thought into what good 5G would be. Their presentation is embedded below too:




The presentation from Huawei (RWS-150006) introduced the concept of Unified Air Interface, UAI.



They presentation also explains the concept of Adaptive Frame structures and RAN slicing very well. For those who may be wondering, uMTC stands for ultra-reliable MTC and mMTC stands for massive MTC. RAN slicing enables the RAN to be partitioned such that a certain amount of carriers are always dedicated to a certain services independently of other services. This ensures that the service in the slice is always served reliably.

The final presentation is the vision and priorities by 5GPPP as follows:



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


Saturday, 5 September 2015

HetNets and Ultra Dense Networks



When I did my 5G presentation back in Feb., I explained about Ultra Dense Networks (UDN) that will be a main feature of future traffic hotspots. I have also blogged about Qualcomm having tested 1000 small cells in a square km. Some operators are already running out of spectrum with traditional deployments in hotspots. They are already making their cells smaller (but not yet using Small cells) thereby having less users in each cell. This may not be enough so the approach likely to be taken is:

  • Offload to WiFi
  • Aggregate WiFi with LTE (different approaches including LTE-U, LAA and LWA)
  • Use Small cells and C-RAN
  • Multi technology Carrier Aggregation
  • Beamforming (and massive MIMO)


The above picture is from a presentation (embedded below) by ZTE in the LTE World Summit. Its a good attempt to show different technologies, the year they are expected to go mainstream, whether they are TDD or FDD and if they will form part of 5G.

Anyway, here is the presentation. There is some interesting information on C-RAN, D-RAN results and fronthaul too.



Friday, 28 August 2015

MCPTT Off-network and UE to UE/Network Relays

3GPP SA6 recently held a workshop on Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT) stage 3 development in Canada. You can look at the meeting report here and download any presentations from here.

An interesting presentation that caught my attention was one on "MCPTT Off-network Architecture". The presentation is embedded below where it is described technically what is meant by Off-network. From my understanding an off-network from MCPTT point of view is one where the UE does not have network coverage.

In such a situation a UE can connect to another UE that can connect to UE/network (if available) to relay the message. Its similar to another technology that I have talked about, Multihop Cellular Networks and ODMA. Anyway, here is the presentation:



Sometimes the standards can take too long to develop a feature and apps can come and deliver a similar service at a very short notice. One such App that does something similar is called Firechat, which played a big role in many protests worldwide. The video explaining it below is worth watching.


The problem with Apps is that they cannot be used by the emergency services or other governmental organisations, unless a standard feature is available. This is the expectation from this Off-network relays. It would work in combination with D2D/ProSe.


For anyone interested in the latest Public Safety (PS), here is a presentation by SA6 chairman from July

Monday, 24 August 2015

Some interesting presentations from ETSI Security workshop


ETSI held their security week from 22-26 June 2015 at their headquarters. There are lots of interesting presentations (see agenda [PDF]); I am embedding some here.


This is a good presentation providing a summary of the reasons for IoT security issues and some of the vulnerabilities that have been seen as a result of that.




The next one is The Threat landscape of connected vehicles and ITS (Intelligent Transportation Systems) integration in general



This presentation provides a good summary of the threats in the connected cars/vehicles which is only going to become more common. Some of these issues will have to be solved now before we move on to the autonomous vehicles in future. Security issues there will be catastrophic and many lives can be lost.

The final presentation is from 3GPP SA3 that provides a quick summary of security related work in 3GPP.



Sunday, 16 August 2015

Challenges in the future 'Network of Networks'

Came across this paper from Dec. 2000 recently. Its interesting to see that even back then researchers were thinking about multiple networks that a user can have access to via handovers. Researchers nowadays think about how to access as many networks as possible simultaneously. I call is Multi-stream aggregation (MSA), some others call it Multi-RAT Carrier Aggregation (MCA) and so on.

If we look at the different access technologies, each has its own evolution in the coming years. Some of these are:

  • Fixed/Terrestrial broadband: (A)DSL, Cable, Fiber
  • Mobile Broadband: 3G, 4G and soon 5G
  • Wireless Broadband: WiFi
  • Laser communications
  • LiFi or LED based communications
  • High frequency sound based communications 
Then there could be a combination of multiple technologies working simultaneously. For example:
And the handover has to be seamless between different access technologies. For example:

There has been an interest in moving on to higher frequencies. These bands can be used for access as well as backhaul. The same applies for most of the access technologies listed above which can work as a backhaul to enable other access technologies.

While planned networks would be commonplace, other topologies like mesh network will gain ground too. Device to device and direct communications will help create ad-hoc networks.

While the current networks are mostly stationary, mobile networks will also become common. Opportunity Driven Multiple Access (ODMA) or Multihop Cellular Networks (MCN) would help devices use other devices to reach their destination. Non-standardised proprietary solutions (for example Firechat) will become common too. Security, Privacy and Trust will play an important role here.

Satellite networks, the truly global connectivity providers will play an important role too. While backhauling the small cells on planes, trains and ships will be an important part of satellite networks, they may be used for access too. Oneweb plans to launch 900 micro satellites to provide high speed global connectivity. While communications at such high frequencies mean that small form factor devices like mobile cant receive the signals easily, connected cars could use the satellite connectivity very well.

Samsung has an idea to provide connectivity through 4,600 satellites to be able to transmit 200GB monthly to 5 Billion people worldwide. While this is very ambitious, its not the only innovative and challenging idea. I am sure we all now about the Google loon. Facebook on the other hand wants to use a solar powered drone (UAV) to offer free internet access services to users who cannot get online.

As I mentioned, security and privacy will be a big challenge for devices being able to connect to multiple access networks and other devices. An often overlooked challenge is the timing and sync between different networks. In an ideal world all these networks would be phase and time synchronised to each other so as not to cause interference but in reality this will be a challenging task, especially with ad-hoc and moing networks.



I will be giving a keynote at the ITSF 2015 in November at Edinburgh. This is a different type of conference that looks at Time and Synchronisation aspects in Telecoms. While I will be providing a generic overview on where the technologies are moving (continuing from my presentation in Phase ready conference), I am looking forward to hearing about these challenges and their solutions in this conference.

Andy Sutton (Principal Network Architect) and Martin Kingston (Principal Designer) with EE have shared some of their thought on this topic which is as follows and available to download here.