Tuesday, 13 August 2019

New 3GPP Release-17 Study Item on NR-Lite

3GPP TSG RAN#84 was held from June 3 – 6, 2019 at Newport Beach, California. Along with a lot of other interesting topics for discussion, one of the new ones for Release-17 was called NR-Lite (not 5G-lite). Here are some of the things that was being discussed for the Study item.
In RP-190831, Nokia proposed:
  • NR-Lite should address new use cases with IoT-type of requirements that cannot be met by eMTC and NB-IoT:
    • Higher data rate & reliability and lower latency than eMTC & NB-IoT
    • Lower cost/complexity and longer battery life than NR eMBB
    • Wider coverage than URLLC
  • Requirements and use cases –
    • Data rates up to 100 Mbps to support e.g. live video feed, visual production control, process automation
    • Latency of around [10-30] ms to support e.g. remote drone operation, cooperative farm machinery, time-critical sensing and feedback, remote vehicle operation
    • Module cost comparable to LTE
    • Coverage enhancement of [10-15]dB compared to URLLC
    • Battery life [2-4X] longer than eMBB
  • Enable single network to serve all uses in industrial environment
    • URLLC, MBB & positioning

The spider chart on the right shows the requirements for different categories of devices like NB-IoT, eMTC (LTE-M), NR-LITE, URLLC and eMBB.
The understanding in the industry is that over the next 5 years, a lot of 4G spectrum, in addition to 2G/3G spectrum, would have been re-farmed for 5G. By introducing NR-Lite, there would be no requirement to maintain multiple RATs. Also, NR-Lite can take advantage of 5G system architecture and features such as slicing, flow-based QoS, etc.
Qualcomm's views in RP-190844 were very similar to those of Nokia's. In their presentation, the existing 5G devices are billed as 'Premium 5G UEs' while NR-Lite devices are described as 'Low tier 5G UEs'. This category is sub-divided into Industrial sensors/video monitoring, Low-end wearables and Relaxed IoT.

The presentation provides more details on PDCCH Design, Co-existence of premium and Low Tier UEs, Peak Power and Battery Life Optimizations, Contention-Based UL for Small Data Transmission, Relaying for Wearable and Mesh for Relaxed IoT
Ericsson's presentation described NR-Lite for Industrial Sensors and Wearables in RP-191047. RP-191048 was submitted as New SID (Study Item Description) on NR-Lite for Industrial Sensors and Wearables. The SID provides the following details:

The usage scenarios that have been identified for 5G are enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine-type communication (mMTC), and time critical machine-type communication (cMTC). In particular, mMTC and cMTC are associated with novel IoT use cases that are targeted in vertical industries. 

In the 3GPP study on “self-evaluation towards IMT-2020 submission” it was confirmed that NB IoT and LTE M fulfill the IMT-2020 requirements for mMTC and can be certified as 5G technologies. For cMTC support, URLLC was introduced in Release 15 for both LTE and NR, and NR URLLC is further enhanced in Release 16 within the enhanced URLLC (eURLLC) and Industrial IoT work items.

One important objective of 5G is to enable connected industries. 5G connectivity can serve as catalyst for next wave of industrial transformation and digitalization, which improve flexibility, enhance productivity and efficiency, and improve operational safety. The transformed, digitalized, and connected industry is often referred to as Industry 4.0. Industrial sensors and actuators are prevalently used in many industries, already today. Vast varieties of sensors and actuators are also used in automotive, transport, power grid, logistics, and manufacturing industries. They are deployed for analytics, diagnostics, monitoring, asset tracking, process control, regulatory control, supervisory control, safety control, etc. It is desirable to connect these sensors and actuators to 5G networks. 

The massive industrial wireless sensor network (IWSN) use cases and requirements described in TR 22.804, TS 22.104 and TS 22.261 do include not only cMTC services with very high requirements, but also relatively low-end services with the requirement of small device form factors, and/or being completely wireless with a battery life of several years. 

The most low-end services could already be met by NB-IoT and LTE-M but there are, excluding URLLC, more high-end services that would be challenging. In summary, many industrial sensor requirements fall in-between the well-defined performance objectives which have driven the design of eMBB, URLLC, and mMTC. Thus, many of the industrial sensors have connectivity requirements that are not yet best served by the existing 3GPP NR technology components. Some of the aforementioned requirements of IWSN use cases are also applicable to other wide-area use cases, such as wearables. For example, smart watches or heath-monitoring wearables require small device form factors and wireless operation with weeks, months, or years of battery life, while not requiring the most demanding latency or data rates. 

IWSN and wearable use cases therefore can motivate the introduction of an NR-based solution. Moreover, there are other reasons why it is motivated to introduce a native NR solution for this use case: 
  • It is desired to have a unified NR based solution.
  • An NR solution could provide better coexistence with NR URLLC, e.g., allowing TDD configurations with better URLLC performance than LTE.
  • An NR solution could provide more efficient coexistence with NR URLLC since the same numerology (e.g., SCS) can be adopted for the mMTC part and the URLLC part.
  • An NR solution addresses all IMT-2020 5G frequency bands, including higher bands and TDD bands (in FR1 and FR2).
The intention with this study item is to study a UE feature and parameter list with lower end capabilities, relative to Release 15 eMBB or URLLC NR, and identify the requirements which shall be fulfilled. E.g., requirements on UE battery life, latency, reliability, connection density, data rate, UE complexity and form factor, etc.  If not available, new potential NR features for meeting these requirements should further be studied.

There were other description of the SID from Samsung, ZTE, etc. but I am not detailing them here. The main idea is to provide an insight for people who may be curious about this feature.


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Monday, 5 August 2019

An Introduction to Non-Terrestrial Networks (NTN)


I made a short introductory tutorial explaining what is meant by Non-Terrestrial Networks. There is is lot of work on this that is planned for Release-17. Slides and video below.






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Friday, 2 August 2019

3GPP Minimization of Drive Test (MDT) Signaling at a Glance

There are growing numbers of UEs that are capable of reporting 3GPP-defined measurements for the purpose of minimization of drive test as defined in 3GPP TS 37.320. Although only a subset of the capable devices have this feature enabled it is worth to have a closer look at the signaling procedures and measurements.

3GPP MDT data can be gathered in two different modes: immediate and logged.

immediate mode – as illustrated in figure 1 - provides measurements for RAN and UE. The UE measurements are derived from RRC measurement reports. The RAN adds the power headroom reported on the MAC layer, and the Received Interference Power (RIP) measured on the physical radio interface layer at the cell`s antenna as well as, reports for the data volume, IP throughput, user plane packet delay, and packet loss measured by the eNodeB.
Figure 1: Immediate 3GPP MDT Measurements*

logged mode – an example is shown in Figure 2 - the UE stores information related to accessibility problems in IDLE mode, failures during RRC establishment, and handover random access as well as radio link failures including connection loss. The MDT events log is sent to the network when it is requested. After connection loss, the MDT logged mode report is sent after the next successful radio connection establishment.

Figure 2: Logged 3GPP MDT Measurements*

The RRC measurement samples and Radio Link Failure (RLF) reports also contain detailed location information for example, on GPS/GNSS coordinates, although the 3GPP Release 9 Technical Report TR 36.805 stated: “The extensive use of positioning component of the UE shall be avoided since it would significantly increase the UE power consumption.”

Although, the encoding of logged mode reports and immediate UE measurements are defined in 3GPP TS 36.331 (RRC), the message formatting of the immediate RAN measurement events follow different proprietary specifications of the network element manufacturers (NEMs).

It is also up to the NEMs which of the M2... M7 immediate reports are implemented and how often such measurements will be generated during an ongoing connection. 

* all parameter values shown in the figures have been chosen randomly for illustrative purpose and do not reflect the situation of a real call or network