Showing posts with label 5G. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5G. Show all posts

Friday, 23 October 2020

Positioning Techniques for 5G NR in 3GPP Release-16

I realised that I have not looked at Positioning techniques a lot in our blogs so this one should be a good summary of the latest positioning techniques in 5G.

Qualcomm has a nice short summary hereRelease 16 supports multi-/single-cell and device-based positioning, defining a new positioning reference signal (PRS) used by various 5G positioning techniques such as roundtrip time (RTT), angle of arrival/departure (AoA/AoD), and time difference of arrival (TDOA). Roundtrip time (RTT) based positioning removes the requirement of tight network timing synchronization across nodes (as needed in legacy techniques such as TDOA) and offers additional flexibility in network deployment and maintenance. These techniques are designed to meet initial 5G requirements of 3 and 10 meters for indoor and outdoor use cases, respectively. In Release 17, precise indoor positioning functionality will bring sub-meter accuracy for industrial IoT use cases.

I wrote about the 5G Americas white paper titled, "The 5G Evolution: 3GPP Releases 16-17" highlighting new features in 5G that will define the next phase of 5G network deployments across the globe. The following is from that whitepaper:

Release-15 NR provides support for RAT-independent positioning techniques and Observed Time Difference Of Arrival (OTDOA) on LTE carriers. Release 16 extends NR to provide native positioning support by introducing RAT-dependent positioning schemes. These support regulatory and commercial use cases with more stringent requirements on latency and accuracy of positioning.25 NR enhanced capabilities provide valuable, enhanced location capabilities. Location accuracy and latency of positioning schemes improve by using wide signal bandwidth in FR1 and FR2. Furthermore, new schemes based on angular/spatial domain are developed to mitigate synchronization errors by exploiting massive antenna systems.

The positioning requirements for regulatory (e.g. E911) and commercial applications are described in 3GPP TR 38.855. For regulatory use cases, the following are the minimum performance requirements:

  • Horizontal positioning accuracy better than 50 meters for 80% of the UEs.
  • Vertical positioning accuracy better than 5 meters for 80% of the UEs.
  • End-to-end latency less than 30 seconds.

For commercial use cases, for which the positioning requirements are more stringent, the following are the starting-point performance targets

  • Horizontal positioning accuracy better than 3 meters (indoors) and 10 meters (outdoors) for 80% of the UEs.
  • Vertical positioning accuracy better than 3 meters (indoors and outdoors) for 80% of the UEs.
  • End-to-end latency less than 1 second.

Figure 3.11 above shows the RAT-dependent NR positioning schemes being considered for standardization in Release 16:

  • Downlink time difference of arrival (DL-TDOA): A new reference signal known as the positioning reference signal (PRS) is introduced in Release 16 for the UE to perform downlink reference signal time difference (DL RSTD) measurements for each base station’s PRSs. These measurements are reported to the location server.
  • Uplink time difference of arrival (UL-TDOA): The Release-16 sounding reference signal (SRS) is enhanced to allow each base station to measure the uplink relative time of arrival (UL-RTOA) and report the measurements to the location server.
  • Downlink angle-of-departure (DL-AoD): The UE measures the downlink reference signal receive power (DL RSRP) per beam/gNB. Measurement reports are used to determine the AoD based on UE beam location for each gNB. The location server then uses the AoDs to estimate the UE position.
  • Uplink angle-of-arrival (UL-AOA): The gNB measures the angle-of-arrival based on the beam the UE is located in. Measurement reports are sent to the location server.
  • Multi-cell round trip time (RTT): The gNB and UE perform Rx-Tx time difference measurement for the signal of each cell. The measurement reports from the UE and gNBs are sent to the location server to determine the round trip time of each cell and derive the UE position.
  • Enhanced cell ID (E-CID). This is based on RRM measurements (e.g. DL RSRP) of each gNB at the UE. The measurement reports are sent to the location server.

UE-based measurement reports for positioning:

  • Downlink reference signal reference power (DL RSRP) per beam/gNB
  • Downlink reference signal time difference (DL RSTD)
  • UE RX-TX time difference

gNB-based measurement reports for positioning:

  • Uplink angle-of-arrival (UL-AoA)
  • Uplink reference-signal receive power (UL-RSRP)
  • UL relative time of arrival (UL-RTOA)
  • gNB RX-TX time difference

NR adopts a solution similar to that of LTE LPPa for Broadcast Assistance Data Delivery, which provides support for A-GNSS, RTK and OTDOA positioning methods. PPP-PTK positioning will extend LPP A-GNSS assistance data message based on compact “SSR messages” from QZSS interface specifications. UE-based RAT-dependent DL-only positioning techniques are supported, where the positioning estimation will be done at the UE-based on assistance data provided by the location server.


Rohde&Schwarz have a 5G overview presentation here. This picture from that presentation is a good summary of the 3GPP Release-16 5G NR positioning techniques. This nice short video on "Release 16 Location Based Services Requirements" complements it very well. 


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Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Understanding the Dual Active Protocol Stack (DAPS) Handover in 5G


In this video I explain the principles and signaling procedures related to the DAPS handover.

The DAPS handover is a new feature for URLLC services defined by 3GPP in Rel. 16.

Friday, 2 October 2020

5G Enhanced URLLC (eURLLC)

One of the interesting features of 5G is Ultra-Reliability and Low-Latency Communication or URLLC. It has been enhanced as part of 3GPP Release-16. A summary of the changes in eURLLC can be seen in the picture above. 


This ATIS webinar that I blogged about last week covered this topic as well. For example L1/L2 changes have been summarised nicely in this Qualcomm slide above while the slide from Intel speaker below looks at redundant transmission and session continuity.

Redundant transmission in the user plane is an extremely useful feature, especially if the packets are mission critical and have to reach from the source to their destination in a guaranteed time / reliability.

Dual connectivity will enable this redundant path when required to meet a guaranteed reliability. 

Here is a short video from the training company Mpirical, explaining the the 5G eURLLC feature: 

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Sunday, 27 September 2020

ATIS Webinar on '5G Standards Developments in 3GPP Release 16 and Beyond'

3GPP Organizational Partner, ATIS (Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions), recently delivered a webinar (video & slides below) titled "5G Standards Developments in 3GPP Release 16 and Beyond". 

3GPP News details:

An expert panel brings you up-to-speed on the current state of 5G standardization. The webinar delivers a broad overview of 3GPP's work and introduces some of the key technology elements. It is suitable for people in technical roles and technical executives who want to understand the current state of 5G standardization.

In Release 16, 3GPP delivered important updates to 5G specifications to broaden their range of commercial applications and improve the efficiency of networks. 3GPP is now further enhancing 5G in Release 17 and starting to plan Release 18. This webinar provides an up-to-date view of the completed 3GPP Release 16 work with a particular focus on how the work is expanding capabilities of 5G and enhancing the technical performance of the mobile system. It also looks ahead to future 3GPP deliverables and their use cases.


The webinar features, Iain Sharp, Principal Technologist at ATIS (Moderator), Greg Schumacher, Global Standards at T-Mobile USA and 3GPP SA and SA1 Vice Chairman, Puneet Jain, Director of Technical Standards at Intel and 3GPP SA2 Chairman and Wanshi Chen, Senior Director, Technology at Qualcomm and 3GPP RAN1 Chairman


Many interesting topics have been covered including the updates on mMTC and URLLC. 


There is also details about new features coming in 3GPP Release-17 and an early look at what 3GPP Release-18 might include, as can be seen in the picture above.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Reliance Jio and 5G Network Architecture Option 6


Last week I read about Jio looking at 5G Network Architecture Option 6. There were also a few discussions on Twitter with users sounding a bit confused. So here is my attempt to explain what is Option 6. Video and slides embedded below. 

You can also see this original video where Satish Jamadagni, Vice President - Network Planning Engineering, Head of Standards at Reliance Jio talks about the need for Option 6. 

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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Thursday, 10 September 2020

Interfacing HSS and UDM in 5GS with UDICOM (a.k.a NU1 / Nhss)

Back in 2012, we were talking about migration from HLR to HSS. Now we are discussing how to interface HSS to the UDM (Unified Data Management in 5G Core).


In the recent 5G World event, Richard Band, Head of 5G Core, HPE talked about 4G to 5G transition planning. During the talk he mentioned about UDICOM, which is the Standardised new interface between HSS and UDM as defined in 3GPP TS 23.632.


UDICOM allows operators to deploy separate HSS and UDM, even from different vendors. Supported features include:
  • Authentication
  • Single Registration Handover
  • IMS
  • SMS over NAS
3GPP TS 23.632 (Technical Specification Group Core Network and Terminals; User data interworking, coexistence and migration; Stage 2; Release 16) does not use the term UDICOM. It does however describe the interface details, system architecture, system procedures and network function service procedures of UDM-HSS interface.

As can be seen in the picture above, the following reference points are realized by service-based interfaces:
NU1: Reference point between the HSS and the UDM.
NU2: Reference point between the HSS and the 5GS-UDR.

The following Service based interfaces are defined for direct UDM-HSS interworking:
Nudm: Service-based interface exhibited by UDM.
Nhss: Service-based interface exhibited by HSS.

I am not going in more details here but anyone wanting to learn more about the interface should start with 3GPP TS 23.632.

Finally, this talk from HP Enterprise below provides more details of UDICOM.



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Thursday, 3 September 2020

Two Types of SMS in 5G


GSMA recently published updated "5G Implementation Guidelines: SA Option 2". It explains the two types of SMS in 5G, the same way there were 2 types of SMS in LTE.

Within 5GC, SMS Function (SMSF) supports SMS over NAS (SMSoNAS) defined in 3GPP TS 23.501. Besides, SMSoIP can also be considered as IMS based SMS solution under 5G network. SMSoIP can be deployed simultaneously with voice service over IMS to provide both voice and short message service. It is recommended to use SMSoNAS solution if voice services over IMS is not supported or for a 5G data card/Machine Type Communications (MTC)/Non-IMS device without voice service. The network architecture of SMSoIP and SMSoNAS is shown in Figure.


Mpirical explains it in the video as embedded below:



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Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Would 5G NSA undergo Sunset? When?


I have been thinking about the long term evolution of 5G and have now reached the conclusion that it would make sense in the long run to switch off non-standalone 5G. This would of course be only after 5G core has been tested and used extensively. Instead of writing my reasoning, here is a 10 minute video and the corresponding slides.





Let me know what you think in the comments below. If you agree, when do you think is the best time for 5G NSA Sunset?


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Thursday, 6 August 2020

What about 5G Network Architecture Option 4 (a.k.a. NE-DC) ?

You heard the news about Standalone (SA) 5G network(s)? T-Mobile USA announced this week that "T-Mobile is the first operator in the world to launch a commercial nationwide standalone 5G network". Nationwide is the key word here. Back in February, the Saudi operator STC announced that "stc - Kuwait first to launch 5G E2E SA network in MENA". We will see a lot more announcements about SA 5G this year.


I blogged in detail about the 5G Network Architecture options in this post earlier here. There we looked at the different options in details and typical migration path between the options. Whenever any operator / vendor talks about SA 5G today, they are talking about Option 2. That was back in 2018. Since then, many of the options have lost momentum.

As we all know, the current 5G networks are Non-Standalone or NSA. They are also known as Option 3 or EN-DC. The next evolution is Standalone of SA deployment. It is also known as Option 2. Right now, not many operators or vendors are talking about other options.



While some of the operators have toned down asking for Option 7 (NGEN-DC) & 4 (NE-DC) support, others haven't. Deutsche Telekom is one such operator.


In a webinar on the topic 'The Journey to Standalone 5G' back in March (available on demand here - for DT part, jump to 39 minutes point), Peter Stevens, Principal Engineer, Mobile Access, Deutsche Telekom UK discussed why DT views Option 4 as important for them. In fact if you look at the picture above, you see that they even refer to Option 4 as SA.


One of the motivations from RAN point of view is that because many UEs are not accepting low-low LTE-NR band combinations. So if an operator decided to go with nationwide SA, they have to make the cell sizes smaller than they have to be. This can create coverage gaps with 5G SA. Of course many of the newer features work far better with 5G core (5GC) so option 4 will provide speed benefits of Option 3 NSA without the limitations of 4G EPC.


Standalone without Option 4 can reduce data rates as you can see in the picture above and explained in another of our posts here.


Finally, this last picture summaries the alternatives to Option 4, Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) or fallback to NSA when 5GC services are not needed. As the slide says, neither of these options is considered a good mainstream alternative to Option 4.

Let me know your thoughts about this in the comments below.

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Saturday, 1 August 2020

Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) in 5G Challenge by ITU


ITU is conducting a global ITU AI/ML 5G Challenge on the theme “How to apply ITU's ML architecture in 5G networks". If you don't know the difference between AI & ML, this picture from the old blog post may help.


The ITU website says:

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be the dominant technology of the future and will impact every corner of society. In particular, AI / ML (machine learning) will shape how communication networks, a lifeline of our society, will be run. Many companies in the ICT sector are exploring how to make best use of AI/ML. ITU has been at the forefront of this endeavour exploring how to best apply AI/ML in future networks including 5G networks. The time is therefore right to bring together the technical community and stakeholders to brainstorm, innovate and solve relevant problems in 5G using AI/ML. Building on its standards work, ITU is conducting a global ITU AI/ML 5G Challenge on the theme “How to apply ITU's ML architecture in 5G networks". 

Participants will be able to solve real world problems, based on standardized technologies developed for ML in 5G networks. Teams will be required to enable, create, train and deploy ML models (such that participants will acquire hands-on experience in AI/ML in areas relevant to 5G). Participation is open to ITU Member States, Sector Members, Associates and Aca​demic Institutions and to any individual from a country that is a member of ITU. ​

There are also some cash prizes, etc. There are various topics with presentation slides & recordings freely available. 

I found the slides from ITU AI/ML in 5G Challenge —”Machine Learning for Wireless LANs + Japan Challenge Introduction” (link) very interesting. There are many other topics including AR / VR / XR, etc, as well.

Have a look at the ITU website here.


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Monday, 27 July 2020

Key Technology Aspects of 5G Security by Rohde & Schwarz


The 3G4G page contains a lot of useful papers and links to security here but we have also looked at evolution of security from 4G to 5G here. Rohde & Schwarz has a short 8-minute video in which wireless technology manager, Reiner Stuhlfauth, explains the key technology aspects ensuring 5G security. The video is embedded below.



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Sunday, 19 July 2020

Mobile Initiated Connection Only (MICO) mode in 5G System


Mobile Initiated Connection Only (MICO) mode is designed for IoT devices that send small amounts of data and do not need to be paged. An example of this could be a smart bin that sends a message to the waste collection company saying it is 50% full, etc. This way the bin emptying lorry can plan to empty it in the next collection round. Here there is no reason to page the bin as there is no mobile terminated data that would be required.

MICO mode has to be negotiated between the device and AMF in 5GC. A device in MICO mode cannot be paged as it would not listen to paging to conserve battery power. This extreme power saving mode can ensure that the battery can last for very long time, ideally years thereby making this vision of billions of connected IoT devices a reality.


In an earlier post on RRC Inactive state, we looked at NAS states, along with RRC states. When the UE is in MICO mode, the AMF in 5GC will consider the UE to be unreachable when it is in CM-IDLE state. In addition, a periodic registration timer is also allocated to the MICO mode UEs. The UE has to confirm the MICO mode again during registration update.

The video and presentation are embedded below:





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Sunday, 12 July 2020

Anritsu Webinar on 'Evolution of 5G from 3GPP Rel-15 to Rel-17 and Testing Challenges'


At the TSG#88e Plenary meetings that ended on 03 July 2020, Release 16 was completed with both the Stage 3 freeze and the ASN.1 and OpenAPI specification freeze being approved. The 3GPP Release-16 page has more details on timelines but they may shift. See at the bottom of this post.

Anritsu have uploaded a short presentation on their channel that I am embedding below. I have skipped the beginning part but of you feel like you want to listen, jump to the beginning.




Meanwhile in the recently concluded TSG#88e Plenary meetings, there is a discussion on some of the timelines for Release-17 and Rel-18 moving. This graph below is from SP-200606.


In another piece of 3GPP news, RAN Working Group 6 (WG6 or RAN6) – responsible for the GERAN and UTRAN radio and protocol work - was formally closed.  No new features but specs will be maintained as necessary, of course.

Finally, here is a short video interview by 3GPP in which Balazs Bertenyi looks back at the recent TSG RAN Plenary e-meeting. He talks about the challenges, about IMT-2020, Rel-16 being just on time & the prospects for Rel-17.

Release 16 - RAN progress from 3GPPlive on Vimeo.


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Monday, 6 July 2020

A Technical Introduction to 5G NR RRC Inactive State


I looked at the RRC Inactive state back in 2017, but the standards were not completely defined. In the meantime standards have evolved and commercial 5G networks are rolling out left, right and centre. I made a short technical introduction to the RRC_INACTIVE state, comparing it with the 4G states in RRC and NAS. I also looked at some basic signalling examples and there are lots of relevant references at the end. Video and slides embedded below.






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Saturday, 4 July 2020

An Introduction to Vehicle to Everything (V2X) and Cellular V2X (C-V2X)


We made an introductory tutorial explaining vehicle to everything. There are 2 different favours of V2X as shown in this tweet below


One is based on IEEE 802.11p (802.11bd in future). It is known by different names, DSRC, ITS-G5, etc. The other is the cellular V2X or C-V2X. It started as basic D2D but has evolved over the time. The slides and video are embedded below but this topic will need revisiting with more details.







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Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Comparison Layer 2 Measurements LTE vs. 5G NR


Yesterday (2020-06-22) 3GPP uploaded the version 1.0 of TS 38.314 "Layer 2 Measurements" for 5G New Radio Rel. 16.

I was wondering about the difference compared to the same LTE standard defined in 3GPP TS 36.314.

The initial look at the table of contents shows significantly less measurements in the NR spec, but a new counter for the number of stored inactive UE contexts. This is due to the introduction of RRC Inactive state in NR RRC specified in 3GPP TS 38.331)

All other differences in the NR standard are related to chapter number 4.2.1.6 "Other measurements defined in TS 28.552".

Here one finds the references to Data Volume, Average Throughput Measurement per UE and DRB as well as PRB usage measurements.

Adding these additional measurements to the list we see in the table of contents it emerges that indeed the number of stored inactive UE contexts is the only major difference in comparison with the LTE standard. 

Monday, 22 June 2020

Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Dual Connectivity (DC)


This topic keeps coming up every few months with either someone asking me for clarifications or someone asking us to make a video. While I don't think I will mange to get round to making a video sometime soon, there are some excellent resources available that should help a new starter. Here they are in an order I think works best



The first resource that I think also works best is this webinar / training from Award Solutions. It covers this topic well and the image at the top of the post is a god summary for someone who already understands the technology.


It may also help to understand that in the 5G NSA can have 4G carrier aggregation as well as 5G carrier aggregation in addition to dual connectivity.


If you saw the video earlier, you noticed that DC actually came as part of LTE in Release-12. We covered it in our Telecom Infrastructure blog here. NTT Docomo Technical journal had a detailed article on 'Carrier Aggregation Enhancement and Dual Connectivity Promising Higher Throughput and Capacity' that covered DC in a lot more technical detail, albeit from LTE point of view only. The article is available here. A WWRF whitepaper from the same era can also provide more details on LTE Small Cell Enhancement by Dual Connectivity. An archived copy of the paper is available here.

Another fantastic resource is this presentation by Rapeepat Ratasuk and Amitava Ghosh from Mobile Radio Research Lab, Nokia Bell Labs. The presentation is available here and details the MCG (Master Cell Group) Split Bearer and SCG (Secondary Cell Group) Split Bearer, etc. This article from Ericsson also provides more detail on this topic while ShareTechNote takes it one level even deeper with technical details and signalling here and here.

So hopefully this is a good detailed starting point on this topic, until we manage to make a simple video someday.

Tuesday, 9 June 2020

5G Roaming with SEPP (Security Edge Protection Proxy)

SEPP (Security Edge Protection Proxy) is part of the roaming security architecture as shown in the figure above. Ericsson's article, "An overview of the 3GPP 5G security standard" describes the use of SEPP as follows:

The use of SBA has also pushed for protection at higher protocol layers (i.e. transport and application), in addition to protection of the communication between core network entities at the internet protocol (IP) layer (typically by IPsec). Therefore, the 5G core network functions support state-of-the-art security protocols like TLS 1.2 and 1.3 to protect the communication at the transport layer and the OAuth 2.0 framework at the application layer to ensure that only authorized network functions are granted access to a service offered by another function.

The improvement provided by 3GPP SA3 to the interconnect security (i.e. security between different operator networks) consists of three building blocks:

  • Firstly, a new network function called security edge protection proxy (SEPP) was introduced in the 5G architecture (as shown in figure 2). All signaling traffic across operator networks is expected to transit through these security proxies
  • Secondly, authentication between SEPPs is required. This enables effective filtering of traffic coming from the interconnect
  • Thirdly, a new application layer security solution on the N32 interface between the SEPPs was designed to provide protection of sensitive data attributes while still allowing mediation services throughout the interconnect

The main components of SBA security are authentication and transport protection between network functions using TLS, authorization framework using OAuth2, and improved interconnect security using a new security protocol designed by 3GPP.

NG.113 5G Roaming Guidelines v2.0 clarifies:

4.2 Inter PLMN (N32) Interface

The Inter-PLMN specification 3GPP TS 29.573 has been produced by 3GPP to specify the protocol definitions and message flows, and also the APIs for the procedures on the PLMN (Public Land Mobile Network) interconnection interface (i.e. N32)

As stated in 3GPP TS 29.573 the N32 interface is used between the SEPPs of a VPLMN and a HPLMN in roaming scenarios. Furthermore, 3GPP has specified N32 to be considered as two separate interfaces: N32-c and N32-f.

N32-c is the Control Plane interface between the SEPPs for performing the initial handshake and negotiating the parameters to be applied for the actual N32 message forwarding. See section 4.2.2 of 3GPP TS 29.573.

Once the initial HTTP/2 handshake is completed the N32-c connection is torn down. This connection is End-to-End between SEPPs and does not involve IPX to intercept the HTTP/2 connection; although the IPX may be involved for IP level routing.

N32-f is the Forwarding interface between the SEPPs, that is used for forwarding the communication between the Network Function (NF) service consumer and the NF service producer after applying the application level security protection. See section 4.2.3 of 3GPP TS 29.573.

N32-f can provide Application Level Security (ALS) as specified in 3GPP TS 33.501 between SEPPs, if negotiated using N32-c. ALS provides the following protection functionalities: -

  • Message protection of the information exchanged between NF service consumer and producer
  • Forwarding of the application layer protected message from a SEPP in one PLMN to another PLMN by way of using IPX providers on the path. The IPX providers on the path may involve the insertion of content modification instructions which the receiving SEPP applies after verifying the integrity of such modification instructions.

The HTTP/2 connection used on N32-f is long lived; and when a SEPP establishes a connection towards another PLMN via IPX, the HTTP/2 connection from a SEPP terminates at the next hop IPX.

N32-f makes use of the HTTP/2 connection management requirements specified in 3GPP TS 29.500. Confidentiality protection shall apply to all IE’s for the JOSE protected message forwarding procedure, such that hop-by-hop security between SEPP and the IPXs should be established using an IPSec or TLS VPN.

If an IPX is not in the path between SEPPs, then an IPSec of Transport Layer Security, TLS VPN will be established directly.

Note: N32-f shall use “http” connections generated by a SEPP, and not “https”

The SEPP will act as a non-transparent Proxy for the NF’s when service based interfaces are used across PLMNs, however inside IPX service providers, an HTTP proxy may also be used to modify information elements (IE’s) inside the HTTP/2 request and response messages.

Acting in a similar manner to the IPX Diameter Proxy used in EPC roaming, the HTTP/2 Proxy can be used for inspection of messages, and modification of parameters. 


The picture in the tweet above shows how SEPP will play a role in Local Break Out (LBO) roaming as well as Home Routed (HR) roaming.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)

5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing is a hot topic. I have already been asked about multiple people for links on good resources / whitepapers. So here is what we liked, feel free to add anything else you found useful as part of comments.


Nokia has a nice high level overview of this topic which is available here. I really liked the decision tree as shown in the tweet above. I am going to quote a section here that is a great summary to decide if you want to dive deeper.

DSS in the physical layer
DSS allows CSPs to share resources dynamically between 4G and 5G in time and/or frequency domains, as shown on the left of Figure 3. It’s a simple idea in principle, but we also need to consider the detailed structure at the level of the resource block in order to understand the resource allocations for the control channels and reference signals. A single resource block is shown on the right side of Figure 3.

The 5G physical layer is designed to be so similar to 4G in 3GPP that DSS becomes feasible with the same subcarrier spacing and similar time domain structure. DSS is designed to be backwards compatible with all existing LTE devices. CSPs therefore need to maintain LTE cell reference signal (CRS) transmission. 5G transmission is designed around LTE CRS in an approach called CRS rate matching.

5G uses demodulation reference signals (DMRS), which are only transmitted together with 5G data and so minimize any impact on LTE capacity. If all LTE devices support Transmission Mode 9 (TM9), then the shared carrier has lower overheads because less CRS transmission is required. The control channel transmission and the data transmission can be selected dynamically between LTE and 5G, depending on the instantaneous capacity requirements.


The second resource is this Rohde & Schwarz webinar here. As can be seen in the tweet above, it provides nice detailed explanation.

Finally, we have a Comprehensive Deployment Guide to Dynamic Spectrum Sharing for 5G NR and 4G LTE Coexistence, which is a nice and detailed whitepaper from Mediatek. Quoting a small section from the WP for anyone not wanting to go too much in deep:

The DSS concept is based on the flexible design of NR physical layer. It uses the idea that NR signals are transmitted over unused LTE resources. With LTE, all the channels are statically assigned in the time-frequency domain, whereas the NR physical layer is extremely flexible for reference signals, data and control channels, thus allowing dynamic configurations that will minimize a chance of collision between the two technologies. 

One of the main concepts of DSS is that only 5G users are made aware of it, while the functionalities of the existing LTE devices remain unaffected (i.e. LTE protocols in connected or idle mode). Therefore, fitting the flexible physical layer design of NR around that of LTE is needed in order to deploy DSS on a shared spectrum. This paper discusses the various options of DSS implementation, including deployment challenges, possible impacts to data rates, and areas of possible improvements.

NR offers a scalable and flexible physical layer design depicted by various numerologies. There are different subcarrier spacing (SCS) for data channels and synchronization channels based on the band assigned. This flexibility brings even more complexity because it overlays the NR signals over LTE, which requires very tight coordination between gNB and eNB in order to provide reliable synchronization in radio scheduling.

The main foundation of DSS is to schedule NR users in the LTE subframes while ensuring no respective impact on LTE users in terms of essential channels, such as reference signals used for synchronization and downlink measurements. LTE Cell Reference Signals (CRS) is typically the main concept where DSS options are designated, as CRS have a fixed time-frequency resource assignment. The CRS resources layout can vary depending on the number of antenna ports. More CRS antenna ports leads to increased usage of Resource Elements (REs). CRS generates from 4.76% (1 antenna port) up to 14.29% (4 antenna ports) overhead in LTE resources. As CRS is the channel used for downlink measurements, avoiding possible collision with CRS is one of the foundations of the DSS options shown in figure 1. The other aspect of DSS design is to fit the 5G NR reference signals within the subframes in a way to avoid affecting NR downlink measurements and synchronization. For that, DSS considers the options shown in figure 1 to ensure NR reference signals such as Synchronization Signal Block (SSB) or Demodulation Reference Signal (DMRS) are placed in time-frequencies away from any collision with LTE signals.

MBSFN, option 1 in figure 1, stands for Multi-Broadcast Single-Frequency Network and is used in LTE for point-to-multipoint transmission such as eMBMS (Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services). The general idea of MBSFN is that specific subframes within an LTE frame reserve the last 12 OFDM symbols of such subframe to be free from other LTE channel transmission. These symbols were originally intended to be used for broadcast services and are “muted” for data transmission in other LTE UE. Now this idea has been adjusted for use in a DSS concept, so that these reserved symbols are used for NR signals instead of eMBMS. While in general LTE PDCCH can occupy from 1 to 3 symbols (based on cell load), the first two OFDM symbols of such MBSFN subframe are used for LTE PDCCH, and DSS NR UE can use the third symbol. Using MBSFN is completely transparent to legacy LTE-only devices from 3GPP Release 9 onwards, as such LTE UE knows that these subframes are used for other purposes. In this sense this is the simplest way of deploying DSS. This method has disadvantages though. The main one is that if MBSFN subframes are used very frequently and it takes away resources from LTE users, heavily reducing LTE-only user throughput. Note that option 1 shown in figure 1 does not require LTE MBSFN Reference Signals to be used, because the MBSFN subframe is used to mute the subframe for DSS operation only, and LTE CRS shall only be transmitted in the non-MBSFN region (within the first two symbols) of the MBSFN subframe.

The two other options illustrated in figure 1 are dealing with non-MBSFN subframes that contain LTE reference signals. Option 2 is ‘mini-slot’ based; mini-slot scheduling is available in NR for URLLC applications that require extremely low latency. The symbols can be placed anywhere inside the NR slot. In respect to DSS, mini-slot operation just eliminates the usage of the symbols that contain LTE CRS and schedule only free ones for NR transmission. The basic limitation of this method comes from the concept itself. It is not very suitable for eMBB applications as too many resources are outside of NR scheduling. However it still can be utilized in some special cases like 30 kHz SSB insertion which will be described later in this paper.

Option 3 is based on CRS rate matching in non-MBSFN subframes, and it is expected to be the one most commonly used for NR data channels. In this option, the UE performs puncturing of REs used by LTE CRS so that the NR scheduler knows which REs are not available for NR data scheduling on PDSCH (Physical Downlink Shared Channel). The implementation of this option can be either Resource Block (RB)-level when the whole RB containing LTE CRS is taken out of NR scheduling, or RE-level where NR PDSCH scheduling avoids particular REs only. The end result of this method is that the scheduler will reduce the NR PDSCH transport block size as the number of REs available for scheduling become less in a slot.


Personally, I am not a big fan of DSS mainly because I think it is only useful in a very few scenarios. Also, it helps operators show a 5G logo but doesn't provide a 5G experience by itself. Nevertheless, it can come in handy for the coverage layer of 5G.


In one of the LinkedIn discussions (that I try and avoid mostly) somebody shared this above picture of Keysight Nemo DSS lab test results. As you can see there is quite a bit of overhead with DSS.