Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Can KaiOS accelerate the transition from 2G / 3G to 4G?


The GSMA Mobile Economy 2018 report forecasts that 2G will still be around in 2025 and the dominant technology will be 3G in Africa. GSMA Intelligence Global Mobile Trends highlighted similar numbers but North Africa was missing in that report. As you can see in the picture below, 3G devices will make up 62% of the total number of devices in Sub-Saharan Africa and 37% in MENA.

Similar information was provided by Navindran Naidoo, Executive, Network Planning & Design, MTN Group in TIP Summit 2017 and Babak Fouladi, Technology and Information System (Group CTIO) , MTN Group in TIP Summit 2018. In fact Babak had a slide that showed 3G devices would make up 61%  of total devices in 2025 in Africa. Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO, MTN Group said at AfricaCom 2018 that Africa lags 7 years behind the Western countries in mobile technologies. Though this may not be universally true, its nevertheless a fact in many areas of the Continent as can be seen from the stats.

In my blog post "2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds", I said operators in many developing countries that maybe forced to switch off a technology would rather switch 3G off as they have a big base of 2G users and 3G devices can always fall back on 2G.

So what are the main reasons so many users are still on 2G devices or feature phones? Here are some that I can think off the top of my head:
  • Hand-me-downs
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Given as a gift (generally because its cheap and affordable)
  • 2G has better coverage than 3G and 4G in many parts of the world
  • Second/Third device, used as backup for voice calls
  • Most importantly - battery can last for a long time
This last point is important for many people across different parts of the world. In many developing countries electricity is at a premium. Many villages don't have electricity and people have to take a trip to a market or another village to get their phones charged. This is an expensive process. (Interesting article on this here and here). In developed countries, many schools do not allow smartphones. In many cases, the kids have a smartphone switched off in their bag or left at home. For parents to keep in touch, these kids usually have a feature phone too. 

While all feature phones that were available until couple of years ago were 2G phones, things have been changing recently. In an earlier tweet I mentioned that Reliance Jio has become a world leader in feature phones:


I also wrote about Jio phone 2 launch, which is still selling very well. So what is common between Jio phones and Nokia 8110 4G, a.k.a. Banana phone

They both use a new mobile operating system called KaiOS. So what is KaiOS?

KaiOS originates from the Firefox OS open-source project which started in 2011 and has continued independently from Mozilla since 2016. Today, KaiOS is a web-based operating system that enables a new category of lite phones and other IoT devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience through leading apps and services. KaiOS is a US-based company with additional offices in France, Germany, Taiwan, India, Brazil, Hong Kong, and mainland China. You can find a list of KaiOS powered devices here. In fact you can see the specifications of all the initial devices using KaiOS here.

Here is a video that explains why we need KaiOS:



There are couple of really good blog posts by Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS:

There is so much information in both these articles that I will have to copy and paste the entire articles to do them justice. Instead, I want to embed the presentation that Sebastien delivered at AfricaCom below:



I like the term 'smart feature phone' to distinguish between the smartphones and old dumb feature phones.

Finally, it should be mentioned that some phone manufacturers are using older version of Android to create a feature phone. One such phone is "Reinvent iMi" that is being billed as 'Slimmest Smart 3G Feature Phone' in India. It uses Android 4.1. See details here. Would love to find out more about its battery life in practice.

My only small concern is about security of old Android OS. As Android is extensively used, new vulnerabilities keep getting discovered all the time. Google patches them in newer versions of the software or sometimes releases a separate patch. All updates to the Android OS stops after 3 years. This means that older versions of Android can be hacked quite easily. See here for example.

Anyway, feature phones or 'smart feature phones' are here to stay. Better on 4G than on 2G.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

5G Top-10 Misconceptions


Here is a video we did a few weeks back to clear the misconceptions about 5G. The list above summarizes the topics covered.



The video is nearly 29 minutes long. If you prefer a shorter version or are bored of hearing me 😜 then a summary version (just over 3 minutes) is in 3G4G tweet below.


The slides can be downloaded from our Slideshare channel as always.

As always, we love your feedback, even when you strongly disagree.

Other interesting recent posts on 5G:


Monday, 19 November 2018

5G NR Radio Protocols Overview


3GPP held a workshop on 5G NR submission towards IMT-2020 last week. You can access all the agenda, documents, etc. on the 3GPP website here. You can also get a combined version of all presentations from the 3G4G website here. I also wrote a slightly detailed article on this workshop on 3G4G website here.

The following is nice overview of the 5G Radio Interface protocol as defined by 3GPP in NR Rel.15 by Sudeep Palat, Intel. The document was submitted to the 3GPP workshop on ITU submission in Brussels on Oct 24, 2018.



The presentation discusses NR radio interface architecture and protocols for control and user plane; covering RRC, SDAP, PDCP, RLC and MAC, focussing on differences and performance benefits compared to LTE.  RRC states and state transitions with reduced transition delays are also discussed.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Telefonica, Mayutel, Facebook & Parallel Wireless: Connecting the Unconnected in Peru (#InternetParaTodos)


Back in summer I wrote about how Telefonica and Parallel Wireless(*) are on a mission to connect 100 Million Unconnected and then followed it by a blog post with information from Patrick Lopez, VP Networks Innovation @ Telefonica about how Telefonica is using Big Data, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Connect the Unconnected.

In the Facebook TIP Summit last month, Roger Greene, Rural Access Lead, Connectivity Ecosystem Programs, Facebook talked to Juan Campillo, Internet Para Todos Lead, Telefónica & Omar Tupayachi, Founder & CEO, Mayutel about how they are connecting the unconnected. The discussion embedded below, starts with a very nice video about how connectivity is making a difference in Peru. In fact that video inspired me to do this post 😊.

Mayutel was described as Peru's first rural operator. It was founded in 2015 and works in over 150 areas. It has 25 employees.

During the discussion some interesting points were discussed like planning, the reason its important is that if you dont do proper planning and analytics, you can use small cells instead of macros and vice versa. Also, some solutions are worth trying in the field as its only when deployed, it can be tested in real-world scenarios.

Connectivity is very important for the rural people in Peru, like every other country. Approximately 4 million Peruvians have only got access to 2G technology. It would help if they have access to have 3G & 4G too. It not only helps connect the people on the move to their loved ones back home, it also helps small businesses who reply on messaging group communications to solve their issues and ask for help & advice.
Due to the Open RAN approach, the cost of deployment has reduced by 50-70%. Mayutel mentioned that they were able to deploy a site at 1/10th the cost it would normally take. This was all thanks to the open approach where their engineers can learn how to deploy the complete solution. It was vital to use local help not only in terms of knowledge but also in terms of manpower.

There were some good lessons and learning but in the end for this to scale more operators need to become part of the Telecom Infra Project and make this successfully happen.




Here is another video from Parallel Wireless on their deployments in Peru.




All videos from TIP Summit 2018 are available here.

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.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Overview 3GPP 5G NR Physical Layer

3GPP held a workshop on 5G NR submission towards IMT-2020 last week. You can access all the agenda, documents, etc. on the 3GPP website here. You can also get a combined version of all presentations from the 3G4G website here. I also wrote a slightly detailed article on this workshop on 3G4G website here.

One of the presentations on 'Physical layer structure, numerology and frame structure, NR spectrum utilization mechanism 3GPP 5G NR submission towards IMT-2020' by Havish Koorapaty, Ericsson is a good introductory material on 5G New Radio (NR) Physical Layer. It is embedded below (thanks to Eiko Seidel for sharing) and the PDF can be downloaded from slideshare or 3G4G website here.



Related Links:

Friday, 26 October 2018

The Yin and the Yang of AI & Blockchain


Today I read about HTC's Exodus 1, new Blockchain smartphone that only people with crypto-currency can buy. SCMP described in very simple terms what this phone is for:

Both HTC’s Exodus and Sirin’s Finney smartphones feature a built-in digital wallet application that will enable users to securely store and use cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ethereum, in daily transactions.

Those smartphones are designed to replace the special memory sticks, which employ complex usernames and passwords to access, that cryptocurrency investors use to store their digital money. These investors typically store most of their cryptocurrencies in such hardware, which are kept offline as a means of security.

“There are things that a phone manufacturer can do with a chip that nobody else can,” said Chen. “We want to be safer than the existing hardware wallets … HTC has a track record of making trusted hardware.”

The company’s Exodus smartphone, for example, can serve as a “node”, which can connect to certain blockchain networks to enable trading of tokens between users. It will also be able to act as a so-called mining rig for users to earn new tokens tied to the Exodus blockchain.

“At some point, we’ll do our own utility token,” said Chen, adding that there was no timetable for such a token release.

HTC’s foray into blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, represents a strategy to keep the company relevant in smartphones, which is a market dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple, followed by Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi and other major Chinese brands.

Anyway, the blockchain smartphone reminds me of the joke above (via marketoonist). The second technology mentioned in this joke is AI or Artificial Intelligence.

I heard HP Enterprise talk about AI recently and this picture above is a nice simple way to show how Deep Learning (DL), Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are related.

I see AI and blockchain often referred to together. This does not necessarily mean that they are related. iDate allowed me to share a recent presentation (embedded below) that refers to AI & blockchain as Yin and Yang. Anyway, I am happy to learn more so if you have any thoughts please feel free to share.



Further Reading:


Related Posts:

Friday, 19 October 2018

5G Network Architecture Options (Updated)


ICYMI, we created an updated video on 5G Network Architecture options. The videos and slides are embedded below.



This updated presentation/video looks at 5G Network Architecture options that have been proposed by 3GPP for deployment of 5G. It covers the Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture. In the NSA architecture, EN-DC (E-UTRA-NR Dual Connectivity), NGEN-DC (NG-RAN E-UTRA-NR Dual Connectivity) and NE-DC (NR-E-UTRA Dual Connectivity) has been looked at. Finally, migration strategies proposed by vendors and operators (MNOs / SPs) have been discussed.


Nokia has also released a whitepaper on this topic that I only became aware of after my slides / video were done. More details in the tweet below.


Related Links:

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Automated 4G / 5G HetNet Design


I recently heard Iris Barcia, COO of Keima speak after nearly 6 years at Cambridge Wireless CWTEC 2018. The last time I heard her, it was part of CW Small Cells SIG, where I used to be a SIG (special interest group) champion. Over the last 6 years, the network planning needs have changed from planning for coverage to planning for capacity from the beginning. This particular point started a little debate that I will cover in another post, but you can sneak a peek here 😉.

Embedded below is the video and presentation. The slides can be downloaded from SlideShare.





Related posts:

Monday, 8 October 2018

Wi-Fi gets new name


Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that the next generation WiFi technology, 802.11ax, will be known as Wi-Fi 6. This is to probably make it simpler, similar to mobile technology generations. Everyone knows 3G and 4G but how many people know UMTS or LTE. Similarly they are hoping that people will be aware of Wi-Fi 4, 5 & 6. They haven't bothered to name anything below Wi-Fi 4.


Looking at this picture from R&S above, you can see that according to Wi-Fi Alliance naming convention:

Wi-Fi 1: 802.11a (1999)
Wi-Fi 2: 802.11b (1999)
Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)
Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (2019)

Anyway, I am not going in any technical details in this post but look for the really good links on this topic below.

To learn more about the naming of next-gen Wi-Fi, check this link.

Further reading:

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Benefits and Challenges of Applying Device-Level AI to 5G networks


I was part of Cambridge Wireless CWTEC 2018 organising committee where our event 'The inevitable automation of Next Generation Networks' covered variety of topics with AI, 5G, devices, network planning, etc. The presentations are available freely for a limited period here.

One of the thought provoking presentations was by Yue Wang from Samsung R&D. The presentation is embedded below and can be downloaded from Slideshare.



This presentation also brought out some interesting thoughts and discussions:

  • While the device-level AI and network-level AI would generally work cooperatively, there is a risk that some vendor may play the system to make their devices perform better than the competitors. Something similar to the signaling storm generated by SCRI (see here).
  • If the device-level and network-level AI works constructively, an operator may be able to claim that their network can provide a better battery life for a device. For example iPhone XYZ has 25% better battery life on our network rather than competitors network.
  • If the device-level and network-level AI works destructively for any reason then the network can become unstable and the other users may experience issues. 

I guess all these enhancements will start slowly and there will be lots of learning in the first few years before we have a stable, mutually beneficial solution.

Related Posts: