Friday 5 April 2024

A Different Approach for Mobile Network Densification

I am fascinated by and have previously written blog posts about transparent antennas. Back in 2019 NTT Docomo announced that they have been working with glass manufacturer AGC to create a new transparent antenna that can work with a base station to become an antenna. Then in 2021, NTT Docomo and AGC announced that they have developed a prototype technology that efficiently guides 28-GHz 5G radio signals received from outdoors to specific locations indoors using a film-like metasurface lens that attaches to window surfaces. Transparent antennas/lens are one of the pillars of Docomo’s 6G vision as can be seen here.

Every year at Mobile World Congress I look for a wow product/demo. While there were some that impressed me, the suite of products from Wave by AGC (WAVEANTENNA, WAVETHRU and WAVETRAP) blew me away. Let’s look at each of them briefly:

WAVEANTENNA is the transparent glass antenna which is generally installed indoors, on a window or a glass pane. It can be used to receive signals from outdoors (as in case of FWA) or can be used to broadcast signal outdoors (for densification based on inside-out coverage). In the newer buildings that has thermal insulation films on the glass, the radio signals are highly attenuated in either direction, so this solution could work well in that scenario in conjunction with WAVETHRU.

The WAVETHRU process applies a unique laser pattern to the glazing with 30 ┬Ám laser engraved lines that are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Treatment is so gentle, it does not affect the physical properties of the glazing, which remain the same. This radio-friendly laser treatment improves the indoor radio signal by around 25 dB, to achieve almost the same level of performance as the street signal. Just 20% to 30% of the window and floors 0 to 4 need to be treated to improve the indoor signal on all frequency ranges under 6GHz.

In case of coverage densification by providing inside-out radio signals, WAVETRAP can be used for EM wave shielding by stopping back-lobes within the building. 

This video from WAVE by AGC explains the whole densification solution:

 

Now the question is, why was I impressed with this solution? Regular readers of this and the Telecoms Infrastructure Blog will have noticed the various solutions I have been writing about for mobile network densification in downtown areas and historic cities with listed buildings where limited space for infrastructure deployment presents several challenges. 

In brief, we can categorise these challenges as follows:

  • Physical Space Constraints like lack of space or strict regulations as in case of listed buildings and heritage sites. 
  • Aesthetics and Visual Impact could be an important consideration in certain historic city centres. Deploying large antennae or towers can clash with the architectural character and heritage of the area and may require concealing antennae within existing structures like chimneys, bus shelters, phone boxes & lampposts, or using disguised designs like fake trees to minimize visual impact.
  • Technical Challenges can arise in dense urban environments due to interference from neighbouring cells, unreliable backhaul connectivity, interruptions in the power supply due to siphoning, etc.
  • Community Engagement and Perception is another important area to consider. There is no shortage of NIMBY (Not in my back yard) activists that may oppose new infrastructure due to health concerns, aesthetics, or fear of property devaluation. Engaging with the community, providing accurate information about EMF exposure, and addressing misconceptions are crucial.
  • Regulatory and Permitting Hurdles that may arise due to many cities and councils imposing zoning and permits requirements. Obtaining permits for infrastructure deployment involves navigating local regulations, zoning laws, and historic preservation boards. There may also be height restrictions that may hinder optimal antenna placement.
  • Finally, Cost and ROI are important consideration factors as all of the above increases the costs as well as the time required. Customized designs, site acquisition, and compliance with regulations are one of the major factors that not only increase costs but also delays infrastructure rollouts. Operators often weigh the benefits of improved coverage and capacity against all the expenses and headaches of infrastructure deployment and then decide on what to deploy and where.

A solution like WAVEANTENNA in conjunction with WAVETHRU and WAVETRAP can significantly reduce the hurdles and improve coverage significantly. 

While I have talked about the solution in general, it can also be applied indoors to Wi-Fi, in addition to 4G/5G. This may be useful in case of Enterprise Networks where appearance is of importance and probably not of much use in case of warehouses or Industrial/Factory Networks. 

Do let me know what you think.

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Friday 22 March 2024

Research Challenges for the Advancement of Vehicular Networking

It's been a while since we covered V2X as a topic on this blog. If you are not well versed with CAVs and V2X, we recommend you to watch our tutorials on the 3G4G page here.

The networking channel hosted a seminar on 'Vehicular networking' last month. Quoting from the webinar preview:

Looking back at the last decade, one can observe enormous progress in the domain of vehicular networking. Many ongoing activities focus on the design of cooperative perception, distributed computing, and novel safety solutions. Many projects have been initiated to validate the theoretic work in field tests and protocols are being standardized. We are now entering an era that might change the game in road traffic management. Many car makers already supply their recent brands with cellular and Wi-Fi modems, also adding C-V2X and ITS-G5 technologies. We now intend to shift the focus from basic networking principles to open challenges in cooperative computing support and even on how to integrate so-called vulnerable road users into the picture. Edge computing is currently becoming one of the core building blocks of cellular networks, including 5G, and it is necessary to study how to integrate ICT components of moving systems. The panellists will discuss from an industrial perspective the main research challenges for the advancement of vehicular networking and the novelties that we can expect to see coming in the short term. Panellists with extensive experience in Internet measurements, networks related to sustainable development goals, and highly-localized earth observation networks will discuss these topics and participate in a Q&A session with the audience.

The presentations were not shared but the video of the panel discussion is as follows:

The following speakers presented the following talks:

  • Vehicular Networking? by Onur Altintas, Toyota North America R&D (0:04:55)
  • Collaborative Perception Sharing for Connected Autonomous Vehicles by Fan Bai, General Motors Global R&D (0:15:00)
  • The future of vehicular networking by Frank Hofmann, Robert Bosch GmbH (0:23:25)
  • The future of vehicular networks and path to 6G by Dr.-Ing. Volker Ziegler, Nokia (0:35:15)
  • Panel Discussion with all speakers and  (0:44:30)

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Friday 9 February 2024

Resilient Timing for Critical National Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure requires precise timing to operate. This reliance makes the infrastructure vulnerable to disruptions in timing that can be either intentional or unintentional. Intentional disruptions can be caused by GNSS jamming or spoofing or network attacks.. Unintentional disruptions are usually caused by equipment failures or acts of nature.

Back in April 2022, Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS) hosted a webinar on this topic, a precursor to the Annual Workshop on Synchronization and Timing Systems (WSTS). The webinar featured top industry experts delivering insight into the latest techniques for adding resilience and robustness to timing infrastructure. It covered the most critical topics in timing resilience, including:

  • Redundancy
  • Holdover
  • Management
  • Monitoring
  • Alternative reference time sources

Examples address networks used for critical industry applications such as:

  • Power grids
  • Telecommunications
  • Finance systems
  • Broadcast/media

The video of the webinar as follows:

Experts participating in the webinar and their presentations are as follows:

Please feel free to share other useful resources on this topic in comments.

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Wednesday 24 January 2024

UE Assistance Information in LTE and 5G

I have been asked about the UE Assistance Information (UAI) RRC message a few times before. Generally I have always pointed people back to the LTE/5G specifications but here is a concise video that the telecoms technology training company Mpirical have shared recently:

If you want to dig further into details then please see the RRC specifications: 36.331 for LTE and 38.331 for 5G. 

Over the years I have added quite a few short tutorials from Mpirical on this blog, do check them out below.

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Tuesday 9 January 2024

Technological Complexification and The Return of Magic

I have been meaning to share this video/presentation by Patrick Scannell for quite some time now. Pat Scannell is a technology and telecom industry consultant who is a world leader on 5G and the co-evolution of technology and cognition, specializing in innovation and commercialization of emerging technologies across a wide range of industries.

At the IEEE International Symposium on Digital Privacy and Social Media 2022, Pat gave a talk titled 'The Return of Magic: Technological Complexification'. The outline of the talk says: 

Today’s tech is characterized by rapidly accelerating complexity, both in the densely layered technology itself but also in the increasingly hyper-specialized people who are needed to build it. But each person who builds it, and certainly most people who use tech, have a diminishing ability to understand how the whole of the techno-ecological niche we have created for ourselves (what I term ‘the return of magic’).

The case for this argument is outlined and then shows that the problems associated with this phenomenon are amplified by an inherent characteristic of a complex system - the lack of ability to know, understand, and predict system outcomes.

Against the broad scope of human history, the result of these forces could represent a reversal of a trend that started in the Enlightenment, but it also has very specific and actionable consequences on the day-to-day work of the tech industry and on Digital Privacy of our customers.

This talk aims to frame the problems, but in a constructive way that allows us to begin to build and adopt better technology, which could scaffold a better human experience.

The talk is embedded below, thanks to IEEE TV:

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Saturday 30 December 2023

Top 10 Blog Posts and Top 5 Videos for 2023

The 3G4G Blog is our most popular blog, running for over 16 years with over 15.5 million views. With 2023 coming to an end, here are the top 10 most viewed posts from 2023 as well as top 5 most viewed videos. These posts/videos were not necessarily posted this year, so I have added the month and year each of them was posted.

  1. Network Slicing using User Equipment Route Selection Policy (URSP), Nov. 2021
  2. NWDAF in 3GPP Release-16 and Release-17, Feb. 2021
  3. New 5G NTN Spectrum Bands in FR1 and FR2, May 2023
  4. Non-public networks (NPN) - Private Networks by another name, May 2019
  5. How many Cell Sites and Base Stations Worldwide?, Mar. 2023
  6. What is RF Front-End (RFFE) and why is it so Important?, Jan. 2022
  7. 3GPP Release 17 Description and Summary of Work Items, Dec. 2022
  8. Two Types of SMS in 5G, Sep. 2020
  9. ATIS Webinar on "3GPP Release 18 Overview: A World of 5G-Advanced", Feb. 2023
  10. Prof. Ted Rappaport Keynote at EuCNC & 6G Summit 2023 on 'Looking Towards the 6G Era - What we may expect, and why', Aug. 2023

Here are top 5 videos viewed on our YouTube channel in the last year:

  1. Beginners: What is Industrial IoT (IIoT), Feb.2019
  2. Beginners: Radio Frequency, Band and Spectrum, July 2017
  3. Beginners: Different Types of RAN Architectures - Distributed, Centralized & Cloud, July 2021
  4. Beginners: Fixed Wireless Access (FWA), Sep. 2018
  5. Beginners: MNO, MVNO, MVNA, MVNE: Different types of mobile operators, Apr. 2018

Let us know about your favourite post and/or video in the comments below.

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Friday 8 December 2023

6G Global - Videos & Presentations from Mobile Korea 2023

5G Forum, South Korea organises Mobile Korea conference every year. Mobile Korea 2023 had two conferences within it, '6G Global', looking at 'Beyond Connectivity and New Possibilities', and '5G Vertical Summit', looking at 'Leading to Sustainable Society with 5G'.

I often complain about how organisations working in 6G often lack social networks skills, in this case, even the website is not very user friendly and doesn't contain a lot of details. Full marks for uploading the videos on YouTube though.

Anyway, here are the videos and presentations that were shared from the summit:

  • Opening + Keynote Session - Moderator : LEE, HyeonWoo, DanKook University
    • Standardization and Technical Trend for 6G, SungHyun CHOI, Samsung Research (video, presentation)
  • Session 1 : 6G Global Trend - Moderator : JaeHoon CHUNG, LG Electronics Inc.
    • Thoughts on standardization and Industry priorities to ensure timely market readiness for 6G, Sari NIELSEN, Nokia (video, presentation)
    • On the convergence route for 6G, Wen TONG, Huawei (video, presentation)
    • The Path from 5G to 6G: Vision and Technology, Edward G. TIEDMANN, Qualcomm Technologies  (video, presentation)
    • Shaping 6G – Technology and Services, Bo HAGERMAN, Ericsson (video, presentation)
  • Government Session
    • Keynote : Korea's 6G R&D Promotion Strategy, KyeongRae CHO, Ministry of Science and ICT (video, presentation)
  • Session 2 : 6G Global Collaboration - Moderator : Juho LEE, Samsung Electronics
  • 6G R&D and promotion in Japan, Kotaro KUWAZU, B5GPC (video, presentation)
    • Technology evolution toward beyond 5G and 6G, Charlie ZHANG, Samsung Research (video, presentation)
    • AI-Native RAN and Air Interface : Promises and Challenges, Balaji Raghothaman, Keysight (video, presentation)
    • Enabling 6G Research through Rapid Prototyping and Test LEE, SeYong, (NI) (video, presentation)
    • Global Collaborative R&D Activities for Advanced Radio Technologies, JaeHoon CHUNG, LG Electronics (video, presentation)
    • International research collaboration – key to a sustainable 6G road, Thomas HAUSTEIN, Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute (video, presentation)
    • 6G as Cellular Network 2.0: A Networked Computing Perspective, KyungHan LEE, Seoul National University (video, presentation)
    • Towards a Sustainable 6G, Marcos KATZ, University of Oulu (video, presentation)
  • Pannel Discussion : Roles of Public Domain in 6G R&D - Moderator : HyeonWoo LEE, DanKook University
  • Session 3 : 6G Global Mega Project - Moderator: YoungJo KO, ETRI
    • Sub-THz band wireless transmission and access technology for 6G Tbps data rate, JuYong LEE, KAIST (video, presentation)
    • The post Shannon Era: Towards Semantic, Goal-Oriented and Reconfigurable Intelligent Environments aided 6G communications, Emilio CALVANESE STRINATI, CEA Leti (video, presentation)
    • Demonstration of 1.4 Tbits wireless transmission using OAM multiplexing technology in the sub-THz band, DooHwan LEE, NTT Corporation (video, presentation)
    • Latest 6G research progress in China, Zhiqin WANG, CAICT (video, presentation)

If there are no links in video/presentation than it hasn't been shared.

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Wednesday 29 November 2023

AI/ML and Other ICT Industry Trends in the coming decades

At the Brooklyn 6G Summit (B6GS) 2023, top tier economist Dr. Jeff Shen from BlackRock, presented a talk from the industry perspective of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and investment. Jeff Shen, PhD, Managing Director, is Co-CIO and Co-Head of Systematic Active Equity (SAE) at BlackRock. He is a member of the BlackRock Global Operating Committee, BlackRock Systematic (BSYS) Management Committee and the BlackRock Asian Middle Eastern & Allies Network (AMP) Executive Committee.

In his talk he covered the history of how and where AI has been traditionally used and how the thinking around AI has changed over the last few decades. He then presented his view on if AI is just a fad or it's more than that. To illustrate the fact, he provided an example of how Generative AI market is expected to grow from $40 Billion in 2022 to $1.3 Trillion in 2032. 

There are many challenges that AI faces that one should be aware of; namely regulation, cyber threats and ethical concerns. In the US, AI touches the entire economy, from legal to healthcare. In their quarterly reporting, firms are now discussing AI and the larger tech companies are not afraid to grow inorganically in order to get more exposure to the trend. 

You can watch the whole of his talk embedded below, courtesy of IEEE Tv.

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Wednesday 8 November 2023

Presentations from ETSI Security Conference 2023

It's been a while since I wrote about the ETSI Security Conference, which was known as ETSI Security week once upon a time. This year, ETSI’s annual flagship event on Cyber Security took place face-to-face from 16 to 19 October 2023, in ETSI, Sophia Antipolis, France and gathered more than 200 people. 

The event this year focused on Security Research and Global Security Standards in action The event also considered wider aspects such as Attracting the next generation of Cyber Security standardization professionals and supporting SMEs.

The following topics were covered

  • Day 1:
    • Session 1: Global Cyber Security
    • Session 2: Global Cyber Security
    • Session 3: Regulation State of the Nation
    • Session 4: Regulation, Data Protection and Privacy, Technical Aspects
  • Day 2:
    • Session 1: Zero Trust, Supply Chain & Open Source
    • Session 2: IoT & Certification
    • Session 3: Zero Trust, Supply Chain & Open Source
    • Session 4: Quantum Safe Cryptography Session
  • Day 3:
    • Session 1: Experiences of Attracting Next Generation of Engineers and Investing in Future
    • Session 2: IoT and Certification Session
    • Session 3: IoT & Mobile Certification
    • Session 4: 5G in the Wild - Part 1
  • Day 4:
    • Session 1: 5G in the Wild - Part 2
    • Session 2: 6G Futures
    • Session 3: Augmented Reality and AI

You can see the detailed agenda here. The presentations from the conference are available here.

The CyberSecurity Magazine interviewed Helen L. And Jane Wright discussing diversity and careers in Cybersecurity. Helen, from the National Cyber Security Centre, has worked in Security for over 20 years and is a mentor at the CyberFirst programme. CyberFirst intends to inspire and encourage students from all backgrounds to consider a career in cybersecurity. Jane Wright is a Cyber Security Engineer at QinetiQ and has been participating in the CyberFirst. The interview, along with a video, is available here.

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Wednesday 25 October 2023

Mobile Network Architecture: How did we get here & where should we go?

Lorenzo Casaccia, Vice President of Technical Standards, IP Qualcomm Europe, Inc. has been with Qualcomm since 2000. During that time he's had a variety of roles related to wireless communication, including research and system design, regulatory aspects, product management, and technical standardization. He currently leads a team of engineers across three continents driving Qualcomm’s activities in 3GPP, the standards body designing technologies for 4G and 5G.

Couple of his well known articles on Qualcomm OnQ Blog on 'Counting 3GPP contributions' and 'ETSI SEP database manipulations' are available here and here respectively.

At the recent NIST/IEEE Future Networks 6G Core Networks Workshop he was able to bring in his experience to deliver a fantastic talk looking at how the mobile network architecture has diverged from the Data Networks (Internet) architecture and how this has limited innovation in the mobile networks.

He concludes by providing a solution on how to fix this network architecture in 6G by limiting any new services going in the control plane as well as ensuring over the time all services move to the user plane. The control plane will then stop being 'G' specific which will benefit the network innovation in the long term. 

There is no provision to embed the video so please look at the top of the page here. Lorenzo's talk starts at 03:03:50. The Q&A session for the panel starts at 03:53:20 for anyone interested.

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