Sunday, 17 March 2019

Update on UK's Emergency Services Network (ESN) from #BAPCO2019


I have discussed about the UK's Emergency Services Network (ESN) multiple times but I manged to hear about the progress first hand this week. Bryan Clark, ESN Programme Director, Home Office gave a keynote address at BAPCO on Day 2 and the title of his presentation was "2019: The year vision becomes reality"

British APCO or BAPCO Annual Conference and Exhibition 2019 was going to be a big launchpad for the ESN network. The ESN LinkedIn post said "Representatives from ESN and EE will be on hand to discuss coverage and ESN Assure. See an installation of the ESN Gateway solution within a police car, plus a live demonstration showing how ESN coverage can be extended from a vehicle into a building. We’ll also have a ‘Motorola Zone’ where you can watch demos of Kodiak and the ESN self-service portal – and a large touchscreen demo of the Samsung ESN Galaxy"


Bryan started by cracking a joke about people referring to 'ESN' as 'ES When' programme because it has been delayed multiple times. He said straight in the beginning that he going to talk about what the ESN programme is doing now and what comes next.

He started with this short video, embedded below but detailed info available on this LinkedIn post

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So here is a short summary of the talk:
  • There are roughly 350,000 customers of this service
  • There are 137 separate organizations that will take advantage of this new this new technology. 
  • There are couple of vehicles in the display area (pic on the top and video below) and roughly 50,000 vehicles that need to have a kit
  • Over 100 aircraft need to have an air network access that currently isn't there. 
  • There are nearly 30 direct suppliers to the program and that doesn't include the whole supply chain through each of those suppliers.
  • Looking at the coverage, there is a commitment to providing a signal along half a million (0.5 million) kilometers of roads in England, Scotland & Wales. It extends 12 nautical miles out to sea and 10,000 feet in the air right across England, Scotland & Wales.
  • In London alone there are over 400 kilometres of tunnels that were actually almost finished cabling out.
  • 300 masts are being built as part of the ESN programme to extend services into remote areas.
  • EE has extended their network by adding 700 additional masts. 
  • Thousands of special locations will need to have effective access to ESN network
  • ESN is a large programme so it's hardly surprising that it's very late. It's Bryan's job over the past 10 months to work out how to get it back on track. 
  • People are going through quite a detailed review of where ESN has got to in terms of next steps. 
  • The programme now has a very clear and approved plan to complete the technical element of the work, most of it should be done by late summer next year.
  • One of the first products, Assure, is a way of testing the effectiveness of the network in the field. 
  • A demonstration of Push-To-Talk (PTT) on a 4G network will be demoed within 3 weeks.
  • This is the first generation end-to-end solution
  • Emergency services is critical national infrastructure so any new solution can only replace the legacy once we are absolutely confident that we've got an effective replacement
  • Even though the technical piece is quite challenging, when you compare it to the business change that follows, the technical part looks pretty simple. 
  • To ensure that everything works effectively operationally, plans are in place but more detailed plans are going to follow in the coming three to four months.
  • Individual components are already being tested in the field
  • Programme deployment should start by the end of 2019 in terms of having basically completed laying the core components and a clear plan will be in place for how to test in an operational context. 
  • The ESN programme is not only responsible for the replacement solution but also for operations to date based on the Airwave contract with Motorola currently
  • The number one priority is to provide critical voice communications of sufficient quality that people can rely on in the field and enable them to move away from the TETRA technology that served them so well. So we aren't going anywhere until we've got rock solid critical voice communications. It's our number one priority, simply because people's lives depend on it.
The following are various videos from the ESN demo area. The Gateway device (which is a mobile small cell) is supplied by Parallel Wireless*.



In case you missed BAPCO, Ken Rehbehn, a very well known Industry Analyst who works as a Principal Analyst at Critical Communications Insights and is also Montgomery County Firefighter/EMT, shared his observations and reflections from conference. Very grateful for his interview which is embedded below



Related posts:

*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director in Strategic Marketing. This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and expresses my own views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. Anyone who knows me well would know this.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

A Primer on Pagers


After Avengers clip about Nick Fury paging Captain Marvel, I was asked by a few people about what, why and how of Pagers. Similar questions were asked when Tron: Legacy was released. It took me a while but finally managed to make a non-technical introduction on Pagers for people with very basic understanding of technology.

Slides



Video


If you used pagers in past, tell me about the good, the bad and the ugly of pagers.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Can Augmented & Mixed Reality be the Killer App 5G needs?


Last October Deutsche Telekom, Niantic and MobiledgeX announced a partnership to create advanced augmented reality experiences over mobile network technologies. I was lucky to find some time to go and play it at Deutsche Telekom booth. The amount of processing needed for this to work at best also meant that the new Samsung Galaxy S10+ were needed but I felt that it also occasionally struggled with the amount of data being transferred.


The pre-MWC press release said:

Deutsche Telekom, Niantic Inc., MobiledgeX and Samsung Showcase World’s First Mobile Edge Mixed Reality Multi-Gamer Experience

At the Deutsche Telekom booth at MWC 2019 (hall 3, booth 3M31) the results of the previously announced collaboration between Deutsche Telekom, Niantic, Inc., and MobiledgeX are on display and you’re invited to play. Niantic’s “Codename: Neon”, the world’s first edge-enhanced Mixed Reality Multiplayer Experience, delivered by ultra-low latency, Deutsche Telekom edge-enabled network, and Samsung Galaxy S10+ with edge computing enablement, will be playable by the public for the first time. 

“The ultra-low latency that Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) enables, allows us to create more immersive, exciting, and entertaining gameplay experiences. At Niantic, we’ve long celebrated adventures on foot with others, and with the advent of 5G networks and devices, people around the world will be able to experience those adventures faster and better,” said Omar Téllez, Vice-President of Strategic Partnerships at Niantic.

The collaboration is enabled using MobiledgeX’s recently announced MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud R1.0 product. Key features include device and platform-independent SDKs, a Distributed Matching Engine (DME) and a fully multi-tenant control plane that supports zero-touch provisioning of edge cloud resources as close as possible to the users. Immediate examples of what this enables include performance boosts for Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality (MR) experiences as well as video and image processing that meets local privacy regulations. 

Samsung has been working together with Deutsche Telekom, MobiledgeX, and Niantic on a natively edge-capable connectivity and authentication in Samsung Galaxy S10+ to interface with MobiledgeX Edge-Cloud R1.0 and dynamically access the edge infrastructure it needs so that augmented reality and mixed reality applications can take advantage of edge unmodified. Samsung will continue such collaborations with industry-leading partners not only to embrace a native device functionality of edge discovery and usage for the mobile devices and consumers, but also to seek a way together to create new business models and revenue opportunities leading into 5G era.

Deutsche Telekom’s ultra-low latency network was able to deliver on the bandwidth demands of “Codename: Neon” because it deployed MobiledgeX’s edge software services, built on dynamically managed decentralized cloudlets. “From our initial partnership agreement in October, we are thrilled to showcase the speed at which we can move from idea to experience, with full end-to-end network integration, delivered on Samsung industry leading edge native devices,” said Alex Jinsung Choi, Senior Vice President Strategy and Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom.

From the gaming industry to industrial IoT, and computer vision applications, consumer or enterprise, the experience is a great example of interactive AR experiences coming from companies like Niantic in the near future.  As AR/VR/MR immersive experiences continue to shape our expectations, devices, networks and clouds need to seamlessly and dynamically collaborate.

Niantic CEO John Hanke delivered a keynote at Mobile World Congress 2019 (embedded below). According to Fortune article, "Why the Developer of the New 'Harry Potter' Mobile Game and 'Pokemon Go' Loves 5G":

Hanke showed a video of a prototype game Niantic has developed codenamed Neon that allows multiple people in the same place at the same time to play an augmented reality game. Players can shoot at each other, duck and dodge, and pick up virtual reality items, with each player’s phone showing them the game’s graphics superimposed on the real world. But the game depends on highly responsive wireless connections for all the phones, connections unavailable on today’s 4G LTE networks.

“We’re really pushing the boundaries of what we can do on today’s networks,” Hanke said. “We need 5G to deliver the kinds of experiences that we are imagining.”

Here is the video, it's very interesting and definitely worth a watch. For those who may not know, Niantic spun out of Google in October 2015 soon after Google's announcement of its restructuring as Alphabet Inc. During the spinout, Niantic announced that Google, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company would invest up to $30 million in Series-A funding.



So what do you think, can AR / MR be the killer App 5G needs?

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Updated 5G Terminology Presentation (Feb 2019)


I made this video before MWC with the intention to educate the attendees about the various architecture options and 5G terminologies being discussed. As always, happy to get feedback on what can be done better. Slides followed by video below.







Complete list of our training resources are available on 3G4G page here.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Beyond-5G and 6G at #MWC19


MWC is huge and there is absolutely no way that I even managed to cover 1% of the floor, even though I spend half a day, every day looking at the demos and talking to companies. I came across just a couple of companies looking at post 5G research. One was Mehdi Bennis, from University of Oulu and a good friend of this blog and the other one was Interdigital, which has featured heavily on 3G4G blogs too.

From the standards point of view, I am only aware of ITU 'Network 2030' (FG NET-2030) that is looking at how future network architectures, requirements, use cases, and capabilities of the networks will change by 2030 and beyond. I blogged about it here.

It's too early to call anything as 6G because we don't even realise the ways in which 5G will change the world and the limitations that will feed into the requirements of IMT-2030 (just guessing the probable name).

So here is the first video from Mehdi Bennis.






I also caught up with Interdigital and I got a very detailed video on their vision of what comes beyond 5G


Would love to know what else did I miss on 6G and Beyond-5G at MWC 2019.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Displaying 5G Network Status Icon on Smartphones and Other Devices

Who thought displaying of network status icon on 5G devices would be so much fun. Typically the network icons are more of:
2G - Gsm, G, G+, E
3G - 3G, H, H+
4G - 4G, 4G+

Back in 2017, Samsung devices started displaying 4G+ icon. Samsung told mybroadband:

that by default its devices require a network to support Category 6 LTE, and for the total combined bandwidth to exceed 20MHz, before they will display the “4G+” icon.

Networks in South Africa frequently don’t have over 20MHz of aggregated bandwidth available, though.

As a result, one network asked Samsung to reduce the combined bandwidth requirement for the 4G+ icon to display to 15MHz, which Samsung approved.

“Samsung’s global policy regarding the display of the LTE/LTE-A/4G/4G+ network icon is that the network icon display is operator-configurable upon official request and Samsung approval,” it said.

The reason this is interesting is because LTE is really 3.9G but generally called 4G. LTE-A is supposed to be 4G because in theory it meets IMT-Advanced criteria. Then we have LTE-Advanced Pro, which is known as 4.5G. While in majority of the operators display 4.5G as 4G or 4G+, couple of operators has decided to become a bit innovative.

AT&T started by updating the network icons of some of their devices to 5GE, which is their way of saying 4.5G. E stands for Evolution. Or as some people joked, it stands for economy (or value) version, as opposed to premium version.


Brazilian operator Claro, decided to use the 4.5G icon but the 5 is much larger font compared to 4 (see the pic above). Some people call this as dishonest attempt by them.

I see a few people asking how can devices decide if they are on 4G or 4.5G. There is no standard procedure for this and is UE specific. One way is to look at RRC messages. If the system information messages contain optional IE's for 3GPP Release-13, then the network supports LTE-A Pro and if the device supports the features for LTE-A Pro, it can display 4.5G or 5GE, etc. Another approach is the optional IEs present in NAS Attach Accept message. As this comes slightly later in the registration process, the device displays 4G first and once the registration is complete, 4.5G. Note there is no requirement from standards point of  view about displaying of the network status indication icon up to 4G/4.5G.

To avoid such confusion in 5G, 3GPP submitted the first Liaison statement S2-175303. In this, 3GPP said:

With this number of System and Radio access options available, one or more new status icons are expected to appear on the User Interface of future (mobile) devices. A user should expect consistency across devices and networks as to what icons actually mean (i.e. what services might be expected when an icon is displayed).

While 3GPP specifications are not expected to define or discuss Service or RAT indicators in the User Interface themselves, 3GPP should provide the necessary tools in EPS and 5GS to enable them. It is therefore necessary to understand the conditions required for displaying these icons and with which granularity so we can identify what information ought to be available in/made available to the device.

SA2 understands that Status Icons related to 5G might be displayed for example on a UE display taking into account all or some combinations of these items (other items may exist):
- Access Restriction Data in subscription (with the potential exception of emergency access); 
- UE CN registration (i.e. is UE EPC- and/or 5GC-registered?);
- UE capabilities; 
- Network capabilities; 
- UE is camping on a cell of NG-RAN supporting NR only, E-UTRA only or, the ability to activate dual connectivity with another RAT (NR or E-UTRA);
- UE is camping on a cell of E-UTRAN (connected to EPC) with the ability to activate dual connectivity with NR as secondary cell;
- UE is in connected mode using NR, E-UTRA (in 5GS) or dual connectivity between E-UTRA and NR.

Given the above, SA2 would like to kindly ask for any feedback from GSMA FNW and NGMN on requirements and granularity for Service indicators and/or RAT indicators related to 5G.

GSMA responded in R2-1713952. 6 cases have been identified (see the first picture on top) : 

The configurations consist of the following states and are as described in Table 1:

  1. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in IDLE state under or in RRC_connected state connected to E-UTRAN cell not supporting LTE-NR dual connectivity 
  2. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in IDLE state under or in RRC_Connected state connected to AND active on LTE for uplink and downlink on only E-UTRAN cell supporting LTE-NR dual connectivity and has not detected NR coverage (i.e. UE is not under NR coverage and/or not configured to make NR measurements)
  3. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in RRC_Connected state connected to E-UTRAN cell (supporting dual connectivity) and active on LTE for uplink and downlink only and has detected NR coverage (i.e. UE is under NR coverage and has been configured to make NR measurements) 
  4. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in IDLE state under E-UTRAN cell supporting LTE-NR dual connectivity and has detected NR coverage (i.e. UE is under NR coverage and has been configured to make NR measurements)
  5. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in RRC_Connected state connected to E-UTRAN cell (supporting dual connectivity) and active on LTE and NR for uplink and/or downlink
  6. 5GS capable UE attached to 5GC and currently in IDLE state under or in RRC_Connected state connected to NG-RAN (eLTE (option 5 or 7) or NR (option 2 or 4) cell)

As there is no consensus on a single preferred configuration, it is desirable to make the display of 5G status icon in the UE configurable such that the display of 5G status icon can be made depending on operator preference. 

This proposal by GSMA was noted by 3GPP in R2-1803949.

RAN WG2 would like to inform GSMA and SA2 that, according to GSMA and SA2 recommendations (LSs R2-1713952 and S2-175270, respectively), RAN WG2 introduced 1 bit indication per PLMN called “upperLayerIndication” within LTE SIB 2. 

This bit enables the realization of the configurations based on UE states as per recommendation from GSMA (e.g. RRC_IDLE UE as for State 2 in LS R2-1713952 from GSMA)”. 

For idle mode UEs this is the only mechanism agreed. 

Actions: RAN WG2 would like to ask GSMA and SA2 to take the information above into account. 

Hopefully there will be less confusion when 5G is rolled out about the status icons. In the meantime we might see some more 4.5G icon innovations.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Prof. Andy Sutton: 5G Radio Access Network Architecture Evolution - Jan 2019


Prof. Andy Sutton delivered his annual IET talk last month which was held the 6th Annual 5G conference. You can watch the videos for that event here (not all have been uploaded at the time of writing this post). His talks have always been very popular on this blog with the last year talk being 2nd most popular while the one in 2017 was the most popular one. Thanks also to IET for hosting this annual event and IET Tv for making this videos available for free.

The slides and video is embedded below but for new starters, before jumping to this, you may want to check out about 5G Network Architecture options in our tutorial here.




As always, this is full of useful information with insight into how BT/EE is thinking about deploying 5G in UK.

Related Posts:

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Theoretical Throughput Calculation of FDD 5G New Radio (NR)


A nice video by Peter Clarke on 5G NR throughput calculation for FDD. Right now it's only in the video form but will hopefully be available as a tool on his excellent website here. A tool for 4G throughput calculation is available here.



Related Links



Wednesday, 6 February 2019

AI in 5G – the why and how

IET recently held the 6th Annual 5G conference bringing together key players in the 5G world. You can watch the videos for that event here (not all have been uploaded at the time of writing this post).

We reached out to Dr. Yue Wang to share her presentation with us and she has kindly done so. The presentation and video are embedded below.






Related posts:

Monday, 4 February 2019

A quick tutorial on Open RAN, vRAN & White Box RAN


I made a short tutorial based on my understanding of Open RAN, Virtualised RAN and WhiteBox RAN. Slides and video embedded below.