Thursday, 16 June 2022

What is a Multi-Band Cell?

Multi-band cells became very popular in modern RAN environment and beside many benefits they also come with some challenges for performance measurement and radio network optimization.

A multi-band cell consists of a default band that shall be used by UEs for initial cell selection and a set of additional frequency band carriers that typically become involved as soon as a dedicated radio bearer (DRB) for payload transmission is established in the radio connection.

The exact configuration of a multi-band cell including all available frequency bands is broadcasted in SIB 1 as shown in the example below.

Different from legacy RAN deployments where – to take the example of a LTE cell – a pair of PCI/eARFCN (Physical Cell Identity/eUTRAN Absolute Radio Frequency Number) always matches a particular ECGI (eUTRAN Cell Global Identity) the multi-band cell has many different PCI/eARFCN combinations belonging to a single ECGI as you can see in the next figure.

Now performance measurement (PM) counters for e.g. call drops are typically counted on the cell ID (ECGI) and thus, in case of mulit-band cells do not reveal on which frequency a radio link failure occurred.

However, knowing the frequency is essential to optimize the radio network and minimize connectivity problems. More detailed information must be collected to find out which of the different frequency bands performs well and which need improvement.

This becomes even more interesting if multi-band cells are used in MORAN RAN sharing scenarios.

In my next blog post I will have a closer look at this special deployment.

Monday, 13 June 2022

Tutorial on 4G/5G Mobile Network Uplink Working and Challenges

People involved with mobile technology know the challenges with uplink for any generation of mobile network. With increasing data rates in 4G and 5G, the issue has become important as most of the speeds are focused on download but upload speeds are quite poor.

People who follow us across our channels know of many of the presentations we share across them from various sources, not just ours. One such presentation by Peter Schmidt looked at the uplink in details. In fact we recommend following him on Twitter if you are interested in technical details and infrastructure.

The details of his talk as follows:

The lecture highlights the influences on the mysterious part of mobile communications - sources of interference in the uplink and their impact on mobile communication as well as practices for detecting sources of RF interference.

The field strength bar graph of a smartphone (the downlink reception field strength) is only half of the truth when assessing a mobile network coverage. The other half is the uplink, which is largely invisible but highly sensitive to interference, the direction from the end device to the base stations. In this lecture, sources of uplink interference, their effects and measurement and analysis options will be explained.

Cellular network uplink is essential for mobile communication, but nobody can really see it. The uplink can be disrupted by jammers, repeaters, and many other RF sources. When it is jammed, mobile communication is limited. I will show what types of interference sources can disrupt the uplink and what impact this has on cellular usage and how interference hunting can be done.

First I explain the necessary level symmetry of the downlink (from the mobile radio base station - eNodeB to the end device) and the uplink (from the end device back to the eNodeB). Since the transmission power of the end device and eNodeB are very different, I explain the technical background to achieving symmetry. In the following I will explain the problems and possibilities when measuring uplink signals on the eNodeB, it is difficult to look inside the receiver. In comparison, the downlink is very easy to measure, you can see the bars on your smartphone or you can use apps that provide detailed field strength information etc. However, the uplink remains largely invisible. However, if this is disturbed on the eNodeB, the field strength bars on the end device say nothing. I will present a way of observing which some end devices bring on board or can be read out of the chipset with APPs. The form in which the uplink can be disrupted, the effects on communication and the search for uplink sources of disruption will complete the presentation. I will also address the problem of 'passive intermodulation' (PIM), a (not) new source of interference in base station antenna systems, its assessment, measurement and avoidance.

The slides are available here. The original lecture was in German, a dubbed video is embedded below:

If you know of some other fantastic resources that we can share with our audience, please feel free to add them in the comments.

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Monday, 6 June 2022

2G/3G Shutdown may Cost Lives as 4G/5G Voice Roaming is a Mess

You have probably heard me a complaining about the pace of VoLTE rollout, 2G/3G shutdowns, 4G Voice roaming, etc. This post highlights all these issues coming together in a dangerous way. People often ask me why is it that it's always just me highlighting the issues. The answer is that there are other people but their voice may not reach you. In this post, I am highlighting presentations by Rudolf van der Berg, Project and programme manager at Stratix Consulting.

Let's start with Rudolf's post from LinkedIn:

Stop the shutdown of 2G and 3G networks to save lives. This is the urgent call I make today and I hope you can help me spread it! Please call on people you know in politics, regulators and emergency services to demand a stop! Call on anyone you know in the GSMA, 3GPP, handset makers (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, MediaTek), network builders (Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei) to re-engineer VoLTE to an interoperable standard.

Emergency calls (112, 911) should work anywhere in the world on any phone. For GSM and 3G voice calling it did. You could fly anywhere and call emergency services and in the EU we have the roaming regulation that demands calling like at home. Voice over 4G and 5G hasn't been properly standardized and isn't interoperable between networks, devices, chipsets and firmware. People need to be able to make and receive telephone calls around the world, to each other and to emergency services. Unfortunately even according to sector itself emergency services are at risk from VoLTE. A consumer today can't know whether a phone they bought will make VoLTE calls at home or abroad, nor whether it can reach emergency services. That can't be right!

So please help EENA 112 and me share this message! Thank you #eena2022 (Slide 4 contains a mistake, T-Mo USA hasn't decided on 2G shutdown yet. that is good for availability of 911, though fundamental point remains. Apologies.)

The video and slides are embedded below:

The slides contain many useful references and links, you can download directly from here.

Back in April, iBASIS hosted a VoLTE and 5G Roaming Roundtable. You can watch the video here and download the presentation and whitepaper as well. It contains talks from Kaleido Intelligence, iBASIS, KPN, Bouygues Telecom and Telus. 

The slide from Dutch MNO KPN above highlights the VoLTE Roaming issues they are observing. Other operators will face this issue sooner or later as well. 

The Regulators, GSMA and 3GPP have to come together to fix this important issue for once and all so no lives are lost because of this. Hopefully someone is listening!

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Tuesday, 31 May 2022

Transitioning from Cloud-native to Edge-Native Infrastructure

We have looked at what we mean by cloud-native in an earlier post here. Recently we also looked at edge-native infrastructure here. While we have been debating between cloud and edge for a while, in a new presentation (embedded below), Gorkem Yigit, Principal Analyst, Analysys Mason argues that the new, distributed IT/OT applications will drive the shift from cloud-native to edge-native infrastrcuture.

The talk by Gorkem on '5G and edge network clouds: industry progress and the shape of the new market' from Layer123 World Congress 2021 is as follows:

A blog post by ADVA has a nice short summary of the image on the top that was also presented at a webinar earlier. The following is an extract from that blog post: 

The diagram compares hyperscale (“cloud-native infrastructure”) on the left with hyper-localized (“edge-native infrastructure”) on the right.

  • Computing: The traditional hyperscale cloud is built on centralized and pooled resources. This approach enables unlimited scalability. In contrast, compute at the edge has limited scalability, and may require additional equipment to grow applications. But the initial cost at the edge is correspondingly low, and grows linearly with demand. That compares favorably to the initial cost for a hyperscale data center, which may be tens of millions of dollars.
  • Location sensitivity and latency: Users of the hyperscale data center assume their workloads can run anywhere, and latency is not a major consideration. In contrast, hyper-localized applications are tied to a particular location. This might be due to new laws and regulations on data sovereignty that require that information doesn’t leave the premises or country. Or it could be due to latency restrictions as with 5G infrastructure. In either case, shipping data to a remote hyperscale data center is not acceptable.
  • Hardware: Modern hyperscale data centers are filled with row after row of server racks – all identical. That ensures good prices from bulk purchases, as well as minimal inventory requirements for replacements. The hyper-localized model is more complicated. Each location must be right-sized, and supply-chain considerations come into play for international deployments. There also may be a menagerie of devices to manage.
  • Connectivity: Efficient use of hyperscale data centers depends on reliable and high-bandwidth connectivity. That is not available for some applications. Or they may be required to operate when connectivity is lost. An interesting example of this case is data processing in space, where connectivity is slow and intermittent.
  • Cloud stack: Hyperscale and hyper-localized deployments can host VMs and containers. In addition, hyper-localized edge clouds can host serverless applications, which are ideal for small workloads.
  • Security: Hyperscale data centers use a traditional perimeter-based security model. Once you are in, you are in. Hyper-localized deployments can provide a zero-trust model. Each site is secured as with a hyperscale model, but each application can also be secured based on specific users and credentials.

You don’t have to choose upfront

So, which do you pick? Hyperscale or hyper-localized?

The good news is that you can use both as needed, if you make some good design choices.

  • Cloud-native: You should design for cloud-native portability. That means using technologies such as containers and a micro-services architecture.
  • Cloud provider supported edge clouds: Hyperscale cloud providers are now supporting local deployments. These tools enable users to move workloads to different sites based on the criteria discussed above. Examples include IBM Cloud Satellite, Amazon Outposts, Google Anthos, Azure Stack and Azure Arc.

You can also learn more about this topic in the Analysys Mason webinar, “From cloud-native to edge-native computing: defining the cloud platform for new use cases.”. You can also download the slides from there after registration.

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Monday, 23 May 2022

5G Reality Check - Data Rates

One of the common questions that we encounter is why are 5G speeds so low as we were promised 5G downlink speeds of 20 Gbps. Most people do not understand how the 5G speeds are calculated and what do they depend on. In many cases, the network won’t be capable of delivering higher speeds due to some or the other limitation. 

In a new presentation, I try to explain the theoretical speeds and compare them with real world 5G data rates and even try to map it to why these speeds are what they are. Hopefully people won't mind me adding some humour as I go along.

Video and Slides embedded below

Embedded below is the Twitter thread on Speedtests 😂

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Monday, 16 May 2022

Lawful Intelligence and Interception in 5G World with Data and OTT Apps

Not long ago we looked at the 'Impact of 5G on Lawful Interception and Law Enforcement' by SS8. David Anstiss, Senior Solutions Architect at SS8 Networks gave another interesting talk on Evolving Location and Encryption Needs of LEAs in a 5G world at Telecoms Europe Telco to Techco virtual event in March.

In this talk, David provided an insight in​to how 5G is impacting lawful interception and the challenges Law Enforcement Agencies face as they work with Communication Service Providers to gather intelligence and safeguard society. While there is an overlap with the previous talk, in this video David looked at a real world example with WhatsApp. The talk also covered:

  • Real-world problems with 5GC encryption
  • 5G location capabilities and the impact on law enforcement investigations
  • Optimal solutions for both CSPs and LEAs

The video of the talk is embedded below:

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Monday, 9 May 2022

Transitioning from eCall to NG-eCall and the Legacy Problem

eCall (an abbreviation of "emergency call") is an initiative by the European Union, intended to bring rapid assistance to motorists involved in a collision anywhere within the European Union. The aim is for all new cars to incorporate a system that automatically contacts the emergency services in the event of a serious accident, sending location and sensor information. eCall was made mandatory in all new cars sold within the European Union as of April 2018.

In UK, the National Highways have a fantastic summary of the eCall feature here. The following video explains how this feature works:

Last year, ETSI hosted the Next Generation (NG) eCall webinar and Plugtests. The presentations from the event are available here. The presentations from GSMA, Qualcomm and Iskratel have a fantastic summary of many of the issues and challenges  with eCall and transitioning to NG eCall.

From the Qualcomm presentation:

The eCall standardisation began in 2004 when 2G networks were prevalent and 3G was being deployed. The chosen solution was in-band modem and Circuit Switched (CS) 112 call. The in-band modem was optimised for GSM (2G) and UMTS (3G) as the standard completed in 2008.

eCall for 4G (NG eCall) standardisation was started in 2013 and completed in 2017. As there is no CS domain in 4G/5G, IMS emergency calling will replace circuit switched emergency call. Next generation (NG) eCall provides an extension to IMS emergency calls and support for 5G (NR) has since been added.

The picture above from GSMA presentation highlights the magnitude of the problem if NG eCall deployment is delayed. GSMA is keen for the mobile operators to switch off their 2G/3G networks and only keep 4G/5G. There are problems with this approach as many users and services may be left without connectivity. Fortunately the European operators and countries are leaving at least one previous generation of technology operational for the foreseeable future.

GSMA's presentation recommends the following:

  • New technology neutral eCall Regulation (type approval and related acts) to be amended, adopted by European Commission and enter into force by end 2022 the latest.
  • OEMs to start installing NG eCall /remotely programable/exchangeable modules by end 2022; by end 2024 all new vehicles sold in the market should be NG eCall only
  • New vehicle categories to start with NG eCall only by 2024
  • MNOs have initiated to phase out 2G/3G between 2020 and 2025 , whereas the optimal transition path of their choice beyond this date will depend on market and technology specifics, and may require alignment with NRAs.
  • By 2022 , the industry will develop solutions for the transition period that need to be implemented country by country, which will also assess the amount of needed public funding to be economically feasible.
  • Retrofitting to be acknowledged, completed and formalised as a process by end 2024; standards should already be available in 2022.
  • Aftermarket eCall solution to be completed (including testing) and formalised by end 2024; standards should already be available in 2022.
  • The European Commission to make available public funding to support OEMs and alternative solutions to legacy networks starting from 2022 , under the RRF/ recovery package (or other relevant instruments)
  • Legacy networks availability until 2030 at the latest. By then deployment of all alternative solutions simultaneously would have ensured that the remaining legacy fleet will continue to have access to emergency services through NG eCall.

EENA, the European Emergency Number Association, is a non-governmental organisation whose mission is to contribute to improving people’s safety & security. One of the sessions at the EENA 2021 Conference was on eCall. The video from that is embedded below and all information including agenda and presentations are available here.

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Wednesday, 4 May 2022

ATIS Webinar on '5G Standards Development Update in 3GPP Release 17 and 18'

Our blog post on ATIS Release-16 webinar has been one of the popular posts so it's no brainer that people will surely find this Release 17/18 update useful as well. 

The moderator for this webinar was Iain Sharp, Principal Technologist at ATIS. The following were the speakers and the topics they spoke on:

  • Services: Greg Schumacher, Global Standards, T-Mobile USA
  • Systems Architecture and Core Networks: Puneet Jain, Principal Engineer and Director of Technical Standards at Intel Corporation, and 3GPP SA2 Chairman
  • Radio Access Network: Wanshi Chen, Senior Director,Technology at Qualcomm, and 3GPP RAN Chairman

Here is a summary of the webinar:

In Release 17, 3GPP delivered important updates to 5G specifications to broaden their range of commercial applications and improve the efficiency of networks. 3GPP is now starting standardization of Release 18. This webinar provides an up-to-date view of the completed 3GPP Release 17 work with a particular focus on how the work is expanding capabilities of 5G and enhancing the technical performance of the mobile system.

The webinar will cover:

  • The status of 3GPP's work and the organization's roadmap for the future
  • The main themes the delivered Release 17 features in 3GPP specifications
  • How enhancements to 5G are helping the 5G market proposition (e.g., through new service opportunities, or enhanced efficiency of 5G networks)

The webinar will give a technical overview of 3GPP's Release 17 content and its benefits to 5G networks. It is suitable for people in technical roles and technical executives who want to understand the current state of 5G standardization.

The video is embedded below and the slides are available here:

Glad to see that 3GPP Rel-19 work has already started as can be seen in the roadmap below.

(click to enlarge)

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Monday, 25 April 2022

Edge Computing Tutorial from Transforma Insights

Jim Morrish, Founding Partner of Transforma Insights has kindly made an in-depth Edge Computing Tutorial for our channel. Slides and video is embedded below.

In this tutorial Jim covers the following topics:

  • Definitions of Edge Computing.
  • How and why Edge Computing is used.
  • Planning for deployment of Edge Computing.
  • Forecasts for Edge Computing.

We would love to know if this answers your questions on this topic. If not, please feel free to post your questions below.  

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Monday, 18 April 2022

Holographic Display - The *Wow* Demo from MWC 2022

(click image to see larger picture)

We often associate holograms with futuristic technology and even 6G nowadays but what if holograms could be done in a very simple way just by playing with light? 

At Mobile World Congress 2022, the demo that impressed me most was by a Japanese company called Asukanet. Their ASKA 3D Plate projects images in mid air. This in combination with a 3D sensor allows to manipulate the display without touching. It may be easier to understand this by looking at how this works in the largest convenience store in Japan as shown in the video below:

This is the demo video that I got at MWC

This is us playing with the hologram

While it may not be straightforward, it would complement our smartphones or tablets display nicely. 

You can watch some of the use cases on their page here.

Let me know what you think?

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Monday, 11 April 2022

3GPP Release-17 5G NR Reaches Completion

In the last week of March 2022, 3GPP Release 17 reached stage 3 functional freeze. Now the ASN work is ongoing and it will be frozen in June 2022. After that point, any changes will need to be submitted to 3GPP as CR (change request) and would have to be agreed by everyone (or unopposed).

Juan Montojo, Vice President, Technical Standards, Qualcomm Technoloigies, in his blog post reminds us:

Release 17 has been completed with its scope largely intact, despite the fact that the entire release was developed in the midst of a pandemic that hit the world, including 3GPP, right after the scope of the Release was approved in December 2019. 3GPP has been operating through electronic means from the latter part of January 2020 and has yet to get back to face-to-face meetings and interactions. The return to face-to-face meetings is not expected before June 2022. Release 17 completion not only marks the conclusion of the first phase of the 5G technology evolution, but it is a testament to the mobile ecosystem’s resiliency and commitment to drive 5G forward. I couldn’t be more proud of 3GPP, and our team, in particular, as Qualcomm Technologies led the efforts across a wide range of projects. Release 17 delivers another performance boost to the 5G system and continues expanding 5G into new devices, applications, and deployments.

The blog post briefly explains the 'New and enhanced 5G system capabilities' as well as features related to 'Expansion to new 5G devices and applications' as shown in the image on the top.

In addition, 3GPP Rel-17 has many other projects as can be seen in the image above. 3GPP TR 21.917: Release 17 Description; Summary of Rel-17 Work Items has a summary of all the items above but it is still undergoing revision.

Juan also did a webinar on this topic with Fierce Wireless, the video is embedded below:

The slides could be obtained from here.

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Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Realizing Zero Trust Architecture for 5G Networks

Over the last couple of years, I keep on coming across Zero-Trust Architecture (ZTA). A simple way to explain is that the standard model of security is known as perimeter security model, where everything within the perimeter can be trusted. In zero-trust (ZT) model, no assumptions is made about trustworthiness and hence it is also sometimes known as perimeterless security model.

This short video from IBM clearly explains what ZT means:

This blog post from Palo Alto Networks also clearly explains ZT:

By definition, Zero Trust is a strategic approach to cybersecurity that secures an organization by eliminating implicit trust and continuously validating every stage of a digital interaction. Zero Trust for 5G removes implicit trust regardless of what the situation is, who the user is, where the user is or what application they are trying to access.

The impact of Zero Trust on network security specifically protects the security of sensitive data and critical applications by leveraging network segmentation, preventing lateral movement, providing Layer 7 threat prevention and simplifying granular user-access controls. Where traditional security models operate under the assumption that everything inside an organization’s perimeter can be trusted, the Zero Trust model recognizes that trust is a vulnerability.

In short, Zero Trust for 5G presents an opportunity for service providers, enterprises and organizations to re-think how users, applications and infrastructure are secured in a way that is scalable and sustainable for modern cloud, SDN-based environments and open-sourced 5G networks. Delivering the Zero Trust Enterprise means taking Zero Trust principles, making them actionable and effectively rebuilding security to keep pace with digital transformation. 

A research paper looking at Intelligent ZTA (i-ZTA) provides an interesting approach to security in 5G and beyond. The paper can be downloaded from here. The abstract states:

While network virtualization, software-defined networking (SDN), and service-based architectures (SBA) are key enablers of 5G networks, operating in an untrusted environment has also become a key feature of the networks. Further, seamless connectivity to a high volume of devices in multi-radio access technology (RAT) has broadened the attack surface on information infrastructure. Network assurance in a dynamic untrusted environment calls for revolutionary architectures beyond existing static security frameworks. This paper presents the architectural design of an i-ZTA upon which modern artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can be developed to provide information security in untrusted networks. We introduce key ZT principles as real-time Monitoring of the security state of network assets, Evaluating the risk of individual access requests, and Deciding on access authorization using a dynamic trust algorithm, called MED components. The envisioned architecture adopts an SBA-based design, similar to the 3GPP specification of 5G networks, by leveraging the open radio access network (O-RAN) architecture with appropriate real-time engines and network interfaces for collecting necessary machine learning data. The i-ZTA is also expected to exploit the multi-access edge computing (MEC) technology of 5G as a key enabler of intelligent MED components for resource-constraint devices.

Ericsson Technology Review covered Zero Trust in 5G Networks in one of their issues. Quoting from the article:

The 3GPP 5G standards define relevant network security features supporting a zero trust approach in the three domains: network access security, network domain security and service-based architecture (SBA) domain security. 

The network access security features provide users with secure access to services through the device (mobile phone or connected IoT device) and protect against attacks on the air interface between the device and the radio node. Network domain security includes features that enable nodes to securely exchange signaling data and user data, for example, between radio and core network functions (NFs).

The 5G SBA is built on web technology and web protocols to enable flexible and scalable deployments using virtualization and container technologies and cloud-based processing platforms. SBA domain security specifies the mechanism for secure communication between NFs within the serving network domain and with other network domains. 

While the new requirements and functionality introduced in the 5G specifications are already aligned with many of the zero trust tenets. It is already evident, however, that further technology development, standardization and implementation are needed in areas such as policy frameworks, security monitoring and trust evaluation to support the adoption of zero trust architecture in new telecom environments that are distributed, open, multi-vendor and/or virtualized.

While various technologies can support organizations in adhering to the guiding principles of zero trust as part of their total active defense strategy, it is important to remember that technology alone will never be sufficient to realize the full potential of zero trust. Successful implementation of a network based on zero trust principles requires the concurrent implementation of information security processes, policies and best practices, as well as the presence of knowledgeable security staff. Regardless of where a CSP is in its transition toward a zero trust architecture, the three pillars of people, processes and technology will continue to be the foundation of a robust security architecture.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, 15 March 2022

5G Network Slicing for Beginners

Network Slicing is a hot topic on our blogs and it looks like people can't get enough of it. So here is a short introductory tutorial from Wray Castle.

The video embedded below explores what Network Slicing is, how it is used, and how it is deployed in the 5G network, as well as (briefly) the role of MEC (Multi Access Edge Computing) in support of specific use cases and potential slice deployments.

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Monday, 7 March 2022

GSMA Releases Mobile Economy Report 2022

The GSMA Mobile Economy report series provides the latest insights on the state of the mobile industry worldwide. Produced by GSMA's in-house research team, GSMA Intelligence, these reports contain a range of technology, socio-economic and financial datasets, including forecasts out to 2025. The global version of the report is published annually at MWC Barcelona, while regional editions are published throughout the year.

The Infographic above (PDF) shows the latest update from 2022. The PDF of report is available here.

Selective extract from the executive summary as follows:

The mobile industry has been instrumental in extending connectivity to people around the world. In 2021, the number of mobile internet subscribers reached 4.2 billion people globally. Operators’ investments in network infrastructure over the last decade have helped to shrink the coverage gap for mobile broadband networks from a third of the global population to just 6%. But although the industry continues to invest in innovative solutions and partnerships to extend connectivity to still underserved and far-flung communities, the adoption of mobile internet services has not kept pace with the expansion of network coverage. This has resulted in a significant usage gap. In 2021, the usage gap stood at 3.2 billion people, or 41% of the global population. 

The reasons for the usage gap are multifaceted and vary by region, but they generally relate to a lack of affordability, relevance, knowledge and skills, in addition to safety and security concerns. Furthermore, the barriers to mobile internet adoption are particularly acute among certain segments of the population, including women, the elderly, those in rural areas and persons with disabilities – or a combination thereof. Addressing the usage gap for these key groups will extend the benefits of the internet and digital technology to more people in society, and will require concerted efforts by a broad range of stakeholders working together with mobile operators and other ecosystem players, such as device manufacturers and digital content creators.

5G adoption continues to grow rapidly in pioneer markets, with the total number of connections set to reach 1 billion in 2022. Momentum has been boosted by a number of factors, including the economic recovery from the pandemic, rising 5G handset sales, network coverage expansions and overall marketing efforts by mobile operators. Meanwhile, a new wave of 5G rollouts in large markets with modest income levels (such as Brazil, Indonesia and India) could further incentivise the mass production of more affordable 5G devices, which in turn could further bolster subscriber growth. By the end of 2025, 5G will account for around a quarter of total mobile connections and more than two in five people around the world will live within reach of a 5G network.

4G still has room to grow in most developing markets, particularly in SubSaharan Africa, where 4G adoption is still below a fifth of total connections and operators are stepping up efforts to migrate existing 2G and 3G customers to 4G networks. However, rising 5G adoption in leading markets, such as China, South Korea and the US, means that 4G adoption on a global level is beginning to decline. Globally, 4G adoption will account for 55% of total connections by 2025, down from a peak of 58% in 2021.

By the end of 2021, 5.3 billion people subscribed to mobile services, representing 67% of the global population. In a growing number of markets, most adults now own a mobile phone, meaning that future growth will come from younger populations taking out a mobile subscription for the first time. Over the period to 2025, there will be an additional 400 million new mobile subscribers, most of them from Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, taking the total number of subscribers to 5.7 billion (70% of the global population). 

In 2021, mobile technologies and services generated $4.5 trillion of economic value added, or 5% of GDP, globally. This figure will grow by more than $400 billion by 2025 to nearly $5 trillion as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services. 5G is expected to benefit all economic sectors of the global economy during this period, with services and manufacturing experiencing the most impact.

You can download all reports from here.

For anyone interested in keeping a track of which 2G/3G networks are undergoing sunset, you can follow my Twitter thread that lists all the networks I become aware of 

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Thursday, 24 February 2022

IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Support for Service Based Architecture (SBA)

I looked at IMS briefly in my LTE voice tutorial here. The Nokia Lectures covered IMS in-depth in part 5 of the video. I recently came across a short overview of IMS for SBA. You can see our old tutorial on Service Based Architecture (SBA) for 5G Core (5GC) here.

I came across this short video from Mpirical that nicely explains the IMS support for SBA. It's embedded below. The related posts at the bottom may also be worth checking out.

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Tuesday, 15 February 2022

What Is the Role of AI and ML in the Open RAN and 5G Future?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have moved on from just being buzzwords to bringing much needed optimization and intelligence in devices, networks and infrastructure; whether on site, on the edge or in the cloud.

Qualcomm has been very active in talking about AI/ML in webinars and on their site. A detailed blog post looking at 'What’s the role of artificial intelligence in the future of 5G and beyond?' is available here. It was posted in time for a Light Reading webinar where Gabriel Brown, Principal Analyst – Mobile Networks and 5G, Heavy Reading and Tingfang Ji, Senior Director, Engineering - Wireless R&D, Qualcomm discuss the topic. The video is embedded below and slide deck is available here.

Louis Scialabba, Senior Director of Marketing at Mavenir, looking at AI and Analytics spoke at Layer 123 conference on the topic, 'AI/ML for Next Gen 5G Mobile Networks'. His talk is embedded below and a blog post by him on the topic, 'The RIC Opens a New World of Opportunities for CSPs' is available here.

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Tuesday, 8 February 2022

Extending 5G TDD Coverage With XDD (Cross Division Duplex)

A new 3GPP Technical report, TR 38.858 (draft not available yet) will look at Study on evolution of NR duplex operation (FS_NR_duplex_evo) in Rel-18. RP-213591 provides a justification on why this new duplex evolution needs to be studied:

TDD is widely used in commercial NR deployments. In TDD, the time domain resource is split between downlink and uplink. Allocation of a limited time duration for the uplink in TDD would result in reduced coverage, increased latency and reduced capacity. As a possible enhancement on this limitation of the conventional TDD operation, it would be worth studying the feasibility of allowing the simultaneous existence of downlink and uplink, a.k.a. full duplex, or more specifically, subband non-overlapping full duplex at the gNB side within a conventional TDD band.

The NR TDD specifications allow the dynamic/flexible allocation of downlink and uplink in time and CLI handling and RIM for NR were introduced in Rel-16. Nevertheless, further study may be required for CLI handling between the gNBs of the same or different operators to enable the dynamic/flexible TDD in commercial networks. The inter-gNB CLI may be due to either adjacent-channel CLI or co-channel-CLI, or both, depending on the deployment scenario. One of the problems not addressed in the previous releases is gNB-to-gNB CLI.

This study aims to identify the feasibility and solutions of duplex evolution in the areas outlined above to provide enhanced UL coverage, reduced latency, improved system capacity, and improved configuration flexibility for NR TDD operations in unpaired spectrum. In addition, the regulatory aspects need to be examined for deploying identified duplex enhancements in TDD unpaired spectrum considering potential constraints.

Samsung has a technical white paper on this topic which they refer to as XDD (Cross Division Duplex), available here. The abstract says:

XDD (Cross Division Duplex) is one of the key technologies that Samsung is proposing as part of Rel-18 NR (5G-Advanced) to address the coverage issue observed during the initial phase of 5G deployment. XDD provides improved coverage, capacity, and latency compared to conventional TDD. Instead of relying solely on orthogonal time resources for DL-UL separation as in TDD, XDD allows simultaneous DL-UL operation by using non-overlapping frequency resources within a carrier bandwidth.

This white paper provides a high level description of XDD concept, benefits, and implementation challenges. First, an overview of XDD including a comparison with conventional TDD and FDD is provided. Next, the implementation challenges of XDD especially at the base station to handle self-interference mitigation is provided. Furthermore, several features that we consider critical in realizing XDD in actual deployment scenarios are provided along with some performance results. Finally, Samsung’s view on XDD for the next phase of 5G (5G-Advanced) is provided.

An open access IEEE Access paper, 'Extending 5G TDD Coverage With XDD', written by Samsung researchers provides a much more detailed insight into this topic. The abstract says:

In this paper, an advanced duplex scheme called cross-division duplex (XDD) is proposed to enhance uplink (UL) coverage in time division duplex (TDD) carriers by utilizing self-interference cancellation (SIC) capability at a base station. With XDD, it is possible to combine TDD’s ability to efficiently handle asymmetric UL and downlink (DL) traffic with frequency division duplex’s coverage advantage. To do so, XDD simultaneously operates UL and DL on the same TDD carrier but on different frequency resources. Such operation leads to severe interference on the received UL signal at the base station which requires two levels of SIC implementation; antenna and digital SIC. More than 50 dB of interference is removed through the antenna SIC using electromagnetic barriers between the transmitting and receiving antennas. The remaining interference is removed by the digital SIC based on estimating the non-linear channel of the circuit at the receiver baseband. It is verified by simulation and analysis that with the proposed XDD, the UL coverage can be improved by up to 2.37 times that of TDD. To check the feasibility of XDD, a Proof-of-Concept was developed where it was observed that the benefits of XDD can indeed be realized using the proposed SIC techniques

In the segment of the video embedded below, Dr. Hyoung Ju Ji, Principal Engineer, Samsung Electronics, Korea explains how XDD is a Realistic Option for Full Duplex Realization.

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