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

Thursday, 24 June 2021

O-RAN Introduction for Beginners


Having been writing about Open RAN for a while, I thought it was important to make simple beginners tutorials for O-RAN. As my full time job* is with a company that is heavily involved in Open RAN and O-RAN, I had an insiders view for doing this project. 

I am making a series of videos for Parallel Wireless to help the industry become familiar with the technology and terminology. The playlist is embedded below:

Four of these are ready and more will be added as and when I get some time. Here is a summary of the videos available. Some of them also have a corresponding blog that I am linking below.

  1. Introduction to O-RAN Philosophy: This explains the basics of O-RAN and how O-RAN is transforming the mobile networks industry towards open, intelligent, virtualized and fully interoperable RAN.
  2. Introduction to O-RAN Timeline and Releases: This part looks at important timelines from the O-RAN Alliance, understand the O-RAN Software Community (OSC) and the role it plays in O-RAN, and finally, looks at the O-RAN Open-Source Software releases.
  3. Introduction to O-RAN Architecture: This part looks at how the basic OpenRAN architecture is evolving into the O-RAN Alliance based Intelligent, Virtualized and Fully Interoperable RAN. It starts with a high-level ORAN architecture and then delves into details of Service Management and Orchestration (SMO), Non-Real-Time (Non-RT) RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC), Near-RT RIC and O-Cloud.
  4. O-RAN Technical Steering Committee (TSC) & Workgroups: This part looks at O-RAN Technical Steering Committee (TSC) & Workgroups (WGs). The O-RAN TSC decides or gives guidance on O-RAN technical topics and approves O-RAN specifications prior to the Board approval and publication. The TSC consists of Member representatives and the technical workgroup co-chairs, representing both Members and Contributors. Within the TSC, there are 10 work groups, 4 focus groups, Open-Source Community and Minimum Viable Plan Committee. These have all been discussed within the video.
  5. O-RAN Workgroup1: Task Groups and Deliverables: This part looks at O-RAN Workgroup#1 (WG1), its task groups and sub-task groups and finally the deliverables produced by WG1.

I am hoping that I will be able to do a few more parts and add a lot more information to the basics so a handy resource is available for anyone interested. Feel free to add links, suggestions, etc. in the comments below. 

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*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director, Technology & Innovation Strategy. 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, 21 June 2021

3GPP Standards on Edge Computing

A sub-set of 3GPP Market Representation Partners hosted a 2-part webinar series in April 2021 looking at edge computing for industry verticals and on-going standardisation work in 3GPP. The first part write-up is available here. The webinar was attended by a mix of organisations from both verticals and the telecommunication industry, helping to share a common understanding on edge computing. 

The webinar brought together top experts at the 3GPP plenary level, SA2 (Architecture) and SA6 (application enablement and critical communication applications) for a deep-dive into how 5G and related standards can help harmonise and enable technologies like edge computing and artificial intelligence to work together much more efficiently. 

The webinar was co-chaired by Georg Mayer, 3GPP SA Chairman and Stephanie Parker, Trust-IT and Vice-chair of the 5G-IA Pre-Standardisation WG with the John Favaro, Trust-IT and member of the 5G PPP Automotive Working Group. 

The webinar was attended by a mix of organisations from both verticals and the telecommunication industry, helping to share a common understanding on edge computing.

This video embedded below is the recording of the webinar on edge computing held on Thursday 22 April 2021 part 2 - 3GPP Standards on Edge Computing as an educational deep dive to help industry verticals gain a better understanding of an evolving landscape. It gives key insights into 3GPP standardisation work on edge computing with an overview of the main activities taking place within SA (System Aspects and Architecture). Presentations and panel discussions zoom in on the network layer with SA2 Architecture and on the application layer for vertical enablement with SA6 Application Enablement and Critical Communication Applications. The panel discussion with SA TSG, SA2 and SA6 chairmen sheds light on the role of artificial intelligence from both the network and application perspectives, underscoring the vital importance of industry verticals in the standardisation process to meet their specific requirements in 3GPP as a truly global initiative.

PDF of presentations as follows:

Global5G has a summary with main takeaways and poll findings here. The following is from there:

Main Takeaways

  1. 5G will help technologies like edge computing and artificial intelligence to harmonise and enable them to work together much more efficiently.
  2. 3GPP Release 17 is foundational for edge computing but more will come in future releases given its importance in mobile communications and as we gradually move beyond 5G. The webinar was therefore a timely deep-dive into today's landscape. 
  3. Artificial Intelligence and edge computing can both serve as building blocks but in different ways: 
    • Network layer perspectives: AI can further optimise edge computing applications.
    • Application layer persepctives: Edge computing can be a building block for AI, e.g. offloading limited capabilities from the device to the network.
  4. Global initiatives like 3GPP can help reduce regional fragmentation, drive convergence and enable network-compliant rollouts that benefit the ecosystem around the world.
  5. As a global initiative, 3GPP is well placed to build on its strong relationships and collaborations with ETSI MEC and GSMA. 
  6. It is absolutely essential that industry verticals get involved in 3GPP working groups, which is where key activities take place and where their requirements should be channelled. It is also important that verticals understand how their seemingly specific requirements could be relevant to other sectors. Being part of 3GPP is a complex but highly rewarding experience. It does not need to be a life-long commitment.

Poll Findings - Participant Viewpoints

Do you participate in standardization on edge computing?

Interestingly most respondents do not take part in any standardisation initiatives. Hence the webinar series was an opportunity to highlight the many activities taking place and encourage participants to get involved. Those that do take part mostly contribute to 3GPP and other forums (29%) like ETSI (SDO) and industry associations like 5GAA and 5G-ACIA as some of the early movers on edge computing. Beyond 3GPP, a smaller number of respondents (11%) contribute to ETSI and other forums such as 5GAA and GSMA and the same amount (11%) are involved in other forums.

How important do you think coordination on edge computing standardisation is?

Coordination on edge computing standardisation needs to be prioritised with 65% of respondents saying it's vital and another 33% saying it's quite important. Only 1 respondent said it's not needed. An important output via the 5G-IA Pre-Standardisation WG and supported by panellists and organisers (5G-IA, 5GAA, 5G-ACIA and PSCE) would be a user-friendly guide on edge computing standardisation to help stakeholders navigate the landscape. 

Do you see a need for new areas of standardisation for edge computing?

Findings from this poll are particularly interesting as we have a close split between those that think more standardisation work is needed (47%) and those that don't know (43%) with just 10% saying it's not needed. Webinar organisers have come up with two possible explanations. On the one hand, we may be looking at a fragmented landscape that would benefit from more unification, also from an architecture perspective. On the other hand, organisations looking at the landscape may simply be overwhelmed by the dverse activities taking place. They may also have new applications sitting on top of the network but are not sure if they need to be standardised. Practical guidance could go a long way in clarifying this uncertainty. 

Again, a quick guide on edge computing standardisation could be a useful output, highlighting also the good cooperation already taking place as an important step in the right direction. 

You can see Part 1 of this webinar here.

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Saturday, 19 June 2021

Edge Computing - Industry Vertical Viewpoints


A sub-set of 3GPP Market Representation Partners hosted a 2-part webinar series in April 2021 looking at edge computing for industry verticals and on-going standardisation work in 3GPP. The webinar was attended by a mix of organisations from both verticals and the telecommunication industry, helping to share a common understanding on edge computing. 

The first webinar brought together experts from the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), the 5G Alliance for Connected Industry and Automation (5G-ACIA), Edge Gallery, ETSI Multi-access edge computing (MEC) and the Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC) to highlight opportunities and updates on how diverse market sectors can benefit from offloading data at the edge of the network. Further insights came from interactive discussions and polling with participants. This webinar is part of a 5G user webinar and workshop series designed for industry verticals co-hosted by 5G-IA, 5GAA, 5G-ACIA and PSCE as Market Representation Partners of 3GPP.

This video embedded below is the recording of the webinar on Tuesday 20 April on edge computing - part one, giving an educational deep dive on industry vertical viewpoints. 5GAA (5G Automotive Association) gives an overview of its white paper, use cases and upcoming trials for Cellular-V2X in the automotive sector. Edge Gallery shows how it is supporting the Industrial Internet of Things with its 5G open-source solutions and application development support. ETSI MEC explain its common and extensible application enabling platform for new business opportunities. 5G-ACIA (5G Alliance for Connected Industry and Automation) describes new work on the applicability of 5G industrual edge computing within the associaton. The Automotive Edge Computing Consortium (AECC) brings insights into how it is driving data to the edge.

Bios and PDF presentations as follows:

Global5G has a summary with main takeaways and poll findings here. The following is from there:

Main takeaways

  1. The webinar was an excellent deep-dive into the edge computing landscape highlighting on-going work in automotive, manufacturing and the Industrial Internet of Things, as well as standardisation work in ETSI and open-source approaches. 
  2. It illustrated the value of edge computing with strong signs coming from industry in terms of growing interest and adoption roadmaps. There is an impressive number of initiatives across the globe embracing edge computing, with examples of cooperation globally as seen in 5GAA, 5G-ACIA, AECC and ETSI MEC. 
  3. Industrial automation, digital twins and infrastructure control among the main drivers for growing demand. 
  4. Collaboration on edge computing is essential and will become even more important as applications increasingly move to the edge. Continued discussions are needed to have greater clarity at multiple layers: business and technology, SW and HW. Collaboration can also support efforts to educate consumers and businesses, both key to uptake and achieving network compliant rollout.  
  5. The collaboration underpinning the 3GPP MRP webinar series is an excellent example of how we can intensify joint efforts across the ecosystem working towards convergence and ensuring RoI, e.g. for telecom investments. 

Poll Findings - Participant viewpoints

Where would you position your organisation in terms of implementing edge computing?

Only 16% of respondents already have a commercial strategy in place for edge computing while 26% are starting to develop one. Therefore 42% are expected to have one in short term. 30% are at early learning stage to understand market opportunities and 28% are exploring its potential. 

In which verticals do you expect the first implementations other than automotive?

The automotive sector is an early mover in edge computing, as testified by 5GAA and AECC presentations in the webinar with both having published studies and white papers. 5GAA is planning trials in 2021 in various locations globally so another webinar on this topic in 2022 would be helpful. After automotive, manufacturing is expected to be the next sector to implement edge, as testified by the 5G-ACIA presentation. All three associations are market representation partners of 3GPP, with 5GAA also contributing to standardisation work. In the 5G PPP, 5GCroCo (cross-border automotive use cases) has contributed to standardisation activities of both 5GAA and AECC. Gaming, AR/VR and media is the next sector expected to adopt edge computing. 

What are your top 2 priority requirements for edge computing? 

Low latency is the top requirement for most respondents (33%) followed by interoperability and service continuity (both on 20.5%) with transferring and processing large volumes of data and very high reliability in joint third place (both on 12.8%). It' will be important to see how many of these requirements feature in early deployments as not all of them will be there at first rollout. The poll also shows how requirements combine together, e.g. 2 priority requirements: Low latency + very high reliability; Interoperability + Service continuity; Interoperability + Low latency; 3 requirements: Interoperability + Service continuity + Transferring and processing large volumes of data and 4 requirements: Interoperability + Service continuity + Low latency + Transferring and processing large volumes of data. 

Part 2 of this webinar is available here.

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Monday, 14 June 2021

A mmWave Special Cell in Open RAN Environment

NR RRC signaling messages exchanged for establishing a 5G radio connection, in particular the NR RRC Reconfiguration and NR RRC CG Config messages, contain a parameter called "SpCellID", which refers to the Special Cell ID. 

The concept of the Special Cell already exists in 3GPP LTE Advanced standards. Here a Special Cell is set of physical cells with same or different carrier frequency and physical cell ID (PCI) that overlap in a certain geographical area and thus, are combined for data transmission to/from UEs located in this area.

This concept now also gains high importance for 5G NR mmWave spectrum and here is why:

Many 5G mmWave radio transmitters can only handle a maximum bandwidth of 100 MHz, but the radio sector shall be covered with total bandwidth of e.g. 600 MHz. To achieve this six mmWave radio transmitters are installed in parallel at the same spot covering the same footprint. 

Each transmitter is identified on the radio interface by its own dedicated NR ARFCN (carrier frequency) and PCI. Thus, from UE point of view the sector is covered with 6 dedicated NR cells that all together form a Special Cell.

When a UE gets radio resources assigned in this 5G sector one of  the 6 cells is the Primary Cell, which NR CGI (Cell Global Identity) is then used as Special Cell ID in layer 3 signaling messages. All other cells act as Secondary Cells.

In an Open RAN environment the F1AP protocol allows perfect analysis of the SpCell resource allocation since it contains the SpCellID as well as all SCellIDs to be setup in the call. 

If the gNB-DU fails to allocated resources for a particular Secondary Cell this will also be signaled together with a failure cause value on F1AP as illustrated in the figure below. Also radio link failures occurring within the Special Cell will be signaled on F1AP including a cause value that provides deeper insight than  protocol causes seen on X2AP (in case of 5G NSA connections) or NGAP (in case of 5G SA connections). 

(click on image to enlarge)


Thursday, 10 June 2021

Nokia veterans Harri Holma and Antti Toskala explain 5G Basics

An online conference on 5G is currently going on. 'Backed by 5G: Technology for Impact', is hosted by Start North as a part of the Aalto University Summer Course 5G Hack the Mall.

It is a two-week online conference which gathers the industry experts, entrepreneurs and policymakers together to discuss, present and question how 5G will affect our society, economy and everyday life. We want you to join the change by offering a chance to learn from the best, to start or strengthen your journey to expertise in 5G. With the support of our partners, you have the possibility to listen and get your questions answered by the global 5G leaders from the leading companies, academia, NGOs and public institutions, which all are daily involved with changing the world and enabling change with the latest technology.

The current conference features couple of Nokia experts who are well known in the industry for their books on the mobile technologies. Dr. Harri Holma, Fellow, Nokia Bell Labs, spoke on "What is Good to Know About 5G Technology Components". His talk is embedded below:


The second talk is by Dr. Antti Toskala, Fellow, Nokia Bell Labs, on Radio Access (5G Physical Layer). His talk is embedded below

Slides are shared to the 5G Summer School participants. If you are keen to get your hands on the slides, please email: hello@startnorth.com. You can watch all the videos from the event on the Start North YouTube channel here.

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Monday, 7 June 2021

TSDSI's Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) Requirements in 5G


Back in November 2020, ITU completed the evaluation for global affirmation of IMT-2020 technologies. Three new technologies were successfully evaluated by ITU and were found to conform with the International Mobile Telecommunications 2020 (IMT-2020) vision and stringent performance requirements. The technologies are: 3GPP 5G-SRIT and 3GPP 5G-RIT submitted by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), and 5Gi submitted by Telecommunications Standards Development Society India (TSDSI). 

I have explained in earlier videos that 5G-SRIT  and 5G-RIT corresponds to Non-Standalone and Standalone respectively. 5Gi on the other hand is an updated version of 5G-RIT designed mainly to improve rural coverage. 

TSDSI announced this as follows:

TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface Technology named as “5Gi” has cleared the rigorous processes of  International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has been approved by the SG5 of ITU as a part of Draft Recommendation M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] in its meeting held on 23rd November 2020.

5Gi, the first  ever Mobile Radio Interface Technology contribution from India to become part of ITU-R’s  IMT recommendation, went through a rigorous evaluation process of the ITU-R working groups over the past 3 years before getting the approval.

This standard is a major breakthrough for bridging the rural-urban digital divide in 5G deployment due to enhanced coverage. It enables connecting majority of India’s villages through towers located at gram panchayats in a cost effective manner. It has found support from several countries as it addresses their regional needs from a 5G standpoint.

The standard will now be circulated by ITU to member states for adoption and approval. Specifications are expected to be published by ITU in early February 2021.

TSDSI thanks its members, the Department of Telecommunications, Govt. of India and its partners for their support over the last four years in helping get this standard reach the final stage in ITU.

In a keynote address presented to the 2020 IEEE 5G World Forum plenary session, Radha Krishna Ganti from TSDSI discusses rural connectivity challenges in India, Low Mobility Large Cell requirements, benefits of implementing LMLC for rural coverage, and internet ecosystem updates. His talk is embedded as follows:

TSDSI explains their 5Gi technology as follows:

TSDSI standard fulfils the requirements of affordable connectivity in rural, remote and sparsely populated areas. Enhanced cell coverage enabled by this standard, will be of great value in countries and regions that rely heavily on mobile technologies for connectivity but cannot afford dense deployment of base stations due to lack of deep fibre penetration,  poor economics and challenges of geographical terrain. The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN body that is setting requirements for IMT 2020 (aka 5G), had earlier adopted the Low-Mobility-Large-Cell (LMLC) use case proposed by TSDSI as a mandatory 5G requirement in 2017. This test case addresses the problem of rural coverage by mandating large cell sizes in a rural terrain and scattered areas in developing as well as developed countries. Several countries supported this as they saw a similar need in their jurisdictions as well. TSDSI successfully introduced an indigenously developed 5G candidate Radio Interface Technology, compatible with 3GPP Technology, at the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2019 for IMT 2020 ratification. The RIT incorporates India-specific technology enhancements that can enable larger coverage for meeting the LMLC requirements. It exploits a new transmit waveform that increases cell range developed by research institutions in India (IIT Hyderabad, CEWiT and IIT Madras) and supported by several Indian companies. It enables low-cost rural coverage and has additional features which enable higher spectrum efficiency and improved latency.

While technically this sounds interesting and as discussed in the talk, would make sense due to a large market like India, there are other solutions that are already possible that probably may make this redundant.

As someone who worked with the rural communities to bring coverage in hard to reach areas, small cells and In-band backhaul was one such solution to improve coverage in not-spot areas. Examples of that here and here. Relays are other option that don't cost much but can bring coverage quickly, at a much lower price.

Typically, in practice, the cells easily reach 10km radius. In theory this distance can be as much as 100km. Last year, Australian operator Telstra and vendor Ericsson announced that they have successfully managed to increase the range of an LTE cell from 100 km to 200 km. So, we can already have large cells with existing 4G/5G cells. 

Facebook connectivity is working on SuperCell concept, a Wide-Area Coverage Solution for Increasing Mobile Connectivity in Rural Communities. Details here. NGMN published a paper on Extreme Long Range Communications for Deep Rural Coverage. Details here.

Finally, we also have 5G Integrated Access and Backhaul (IAB) that can be used for backhauling and solving backhaul issues. They will end up playing a role in rural areas as well as dense urban areas eventually.

Let me know what you think.

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Monday, 31 May 2021

5G User Plane Redundancy


We looked at the 5G Enhanced URLLC (eURLLC) earlier. One of the ways to improve reliability is to have redundancy in the user plane. This can use different approaches like: 

  • Duplicating N3
  • Adding a secondary gNB using Dual connectivity
  • Introducing another UPF
  • Two anchor UPFs

In fact they are all built on top of each other so you can decide how critical are your user plane redundancy needs. 

I came across this short video from Mpirical embedded below that covers this topic nicely. In case you want to refresh your 5G Core Network architecture, jump to our old tutorial here.

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Monday, 24 May 2021

ITU Standardization Bureau on Machine Learning for 5G


Last year I blogged about Global ITU AI/ML 5G Challenge on the theme “How to apply ITU's ML architecture in 5G networks".  The grand challenge finale happened in December. All the recording and presentations are available here.

Back in October, Bilel Jamoussi from ITU presented a keynote to the 2020 IEEE 5G World Forum plenary session where he addressed the challenges of applying machine learning in networks, ITU’s ML toolkit, and ITU’s AI/ML in 5G Competition. IEEE Tv shared the presentation only in April so the competition part is a bit outdated. It does nevertheless an interesting 20 minute talk.

ITU Recommendation Y.3174, Framework for data handling to enable machine learning in future networks including IMT-2020 is available here.

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Monday, 17 May 2021

3GPP RAN Plenary Update and Evolution towards 5G-Advanced

(click on image to enlarge)

ETSI recently held a webinar to provide a 3GPP RAN Plenary update by Wanshi Chen, Senior director of technology at Qualcomm Technologies, who was appointed as the RAN Chair not too long back. The webinar video is embedded below. The following is from the 3GPP summary of the webinar:

Wanshi Chen acknowledged that Release 17 - the third release of 5G specifications - has been under pressure due to COVID-19 restrictions, but despite making the move to e-meetings, he reported that the group’s experts have managed to ensure positive progress towards the freeze of the RAN1 physical layer specifications on schedule, by December 2021.

This is to be followed by the Stage 3 freeze (RAN2, RAN3 and RAN4) by March 2022 and the ASN.1 freeze and the performance specifications completion by September 2022 – On the timeline agreed back in December 2019.

This staggered timeline has been made achievable with careful planning and management, demonstrated to the webinar viewers via a complex planning schedule, with a slide showing the array of Plenary & WG meetings and Release landmarks - Interspersed with a series of planned periods of inactivity, to allow delegates some relief from 3GPP discussions.

Wanshi Chen noted that the efficiency of e-meetings has not been comparable with physical meetings, in terms of getting everything done. To compensate for that, the companies involved have planned two RAN1 meetings in 4Q21 and two meetings for each of the RAN working groups in the 1Q22. He observed: “We will monitor Release 17 RAN progress closely and take the necessary actions to make sure we can get the release completed on time.”

Release 18 Planning

Looking forward to Release 18 and the start of work on 5G-Advanced, Chen outlined the schedule for an online RAN workshop from June 28 – July 2, to define what will be in the release. The workshop will set the scene for email discussions about the endorsed topics for consideration. The work will culminate with Release 18 Package Approval, at the December 2021 Plenary (RAN#94).

The high-level objective of the workshop will be to gather company proposals in three areas:

  • eMBB driven work;
  • Non-eMBB driven functionality;
  • Cross-functionality for both.

Wanshi Chen concluded that during the Release 18 planning process, some capacity must be kept in hand; keeping around 10% of WG effort in reserve, for workload management and to meet late, emerging critical needs from commercial deployments.

The following Q&A topics were covered, along with the time stamps:

  • The effect of the pandemic and eMeeting management schedules and tools (19.25).
  • Balance between commercial needs and societal needs, emergency services, energy efficiency, sustainability (21.20).
  • The importance of the verticals in the second phase of 5G – With 5G-Advanced. How will this Rel-18 workshop compare in scale with the 5G Phoenix workshop in 2015? (23.00)
  • The job of the Chair is to be impartial…but Wanshi guesses that Antennas, MiMo enh., Sidelink, Positioning, xR, AI machine learning…. could come up in Rel-18! (26.15)
  • Will 5G-Advanced have a strong identity & support? (30.05)
  • The potential for hybrid meetings – No clear answers yet, but we have learnt a lot in the past year.(34.35)
  • The link between gathering new requirements and use cases in SA1 and RAN work and RAN1’s role in focusing these needs for radio work. (40.10)
  • Software-ization of the RAN. Do you see more open RAN work coming to 3GPP? (44.18)
  • Machine type communications and IoT – Where is IoT going in 3GPP RAN? (47.01)
  • Some thoughts on Spectrum usage from a 3GPP point of view, is that difficult to fathom for non-experts? (52.00)
  • Can Standards writing become more agile, less linear? (54.00)

If you want to get hold of the slides, you will have to register on BrightTALK here and then download from attachments.

Signals Research Group has a short summary of 3GPP RAN #91 electronic plenary held in late March. It is available to download after registration from here.

xoxoxoxoxoxo Updated later, 07 June 2021 oxoxoxoxoxoxox 

5G-Advanced logo is now available as shown above. Guidelines on how to use the logo is available on 3GPP here.

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Monday, 12 April 2021

Positioning in 5G networks



I have written about the 5G positioning techniques not that long back on this blog here and on connectivity technology blog here. With Release-16 now ready for deployment, Huawei has already announced world's first in 5G Indoor Positioning. Their announcement said:

China Mobile Suzhou and Huawei reached a new milestone with the verification of the 5G indoor positioning capability in metro transport scenarios in Suzhou — a major city located along the southeastern edge of Jiangsu Province in eastern China. The verification showed that, even with pRRUs being hidden, a positioning precision of 3 to 5 m can be achieved in 90% of the platform and hall areas. This is the first time that 5G indoor positioning has been verified on live networks in the world, providing valuable experience for the commercial growth of 5G positioning in vertical industries.

Indoor location-based services are in high demand of vertical applications, such as indoor navigation, asset tracking, geofencing, logistics management, and personnel management, which reflects the huge market space of indoor positioning. Currently, indoor positioning technologies are of great variety and most of them need to be deployed and maintained individually, resulting in high end-to-end costs. As a part of the continuous evolution of 5G, positioning has been added to 3GPP Release 16 finalized in mid 2020 to realize indoor positioning by leveraging the ultra-high signal resolution empowered by 5G's high bandwidth, multi-point measurements, and multi-access edge computing (MEC) deployment.

The verification was based on Huawei's 5G digital indoor solution LampSite and leading MEC solution. The LampSite units measure the radio signals of 5G devices and work with MEC to analyze the signal characteristics. Based on the results of the analysis, leading algorithms are used to precisely locate 5G devices.

We wrote about Huawei's Lampsite on Telecoms Infrastructure blog last year here.

A group of Ericsson engineers have written a research paper on 5G positioning recently. It's available on arXiv here. Here is the abstract:

In this paper we describe the recent 3GPP Release 16 specification for positioning in 5G networks. It specifies positioning signals, measurements, procedures, and architecture to meet requirements from a plethora of regulatory, commercial and industrial use cases. 5G thereby significantly extends positioning capabilities compared to what was possible with LTE. The indicative positioning performance is evaluated in agreed representative 3GPP simulation scenarios, showing a 90 percentile accuracy of a few meters down to a few decimeters depending on scenarios and assumptions.

Definitely worth a read if you like hardcore technical papers.

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Tuesday, 6 April 2021

A look at 5G Applications, Application Functions & Application Servers

We often get questions about 5G Service Based Architecture. Luckily, we have a tutorial that we can redirect people to. It's available here and the video just crossed 50K views. One of the questions that people often want to understand, is about the Application Function (AF) and how does it fit in the Applications Architecture.

To explain this, we made a tutorial. The slides and videos are embedded below. In that we have used the examples from our XR, V2X and Private Networks tutorials. All links are available at the bottom of this post.

Video:

Slides:

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Monday, 29 March 2021

5G RAN Functional Splits

I have been meaning to write a post on RAN functional splits and even make a video. Recently I came across multiple of these things so I am taking a shortcut by posting them here. 

The first is this basic introductory video from Parallel Wireless where they explain why you need RAN splits providing examples of various functional splits for 4G and 5G mobile networks. It is embedded below:

The next one is slightly detailed video from the book "5G Radio Access Network Architecture: The Dark Side of 5G" by Sasha Sirotkin (Editor). I wrote a review of the book here and Sasha kindly made a video for our channel which is embedded below:

Finally, RCR Wireless published an article looking at the 5G functional splits in detail, by Ankur Sharma, Associate Vice President, Product Management and Strategy, Radisys. The article 'Exploring functional splits in 5G RAN: Tradeoffs and use cases' is available here.

Feel free to suggest other videos, articles, etc. in comments.

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Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Status of 5G Standalone (5G SA) Networks - March 2021


I wonder if you have seen as many adverts talking about the 5G revolution as I have. In fact I have collected many of them here. The problem is that most of these promised 5G awesomeness can only be delivered when 5G Standalone networks are launched. 

Before going further, if you don't know what 5G standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) networks are, then you may want to check one of my tutorials/video. For beginners here and slightly advanced version here. If you just want to learn about the 5G core, tutorial here.

I believe that the 5G Non-standalone networks are a hack that were designed mainly to show just the 5G icon and in some cases it also provided enhanced speeds. Some operators have realised this and are thinking about the 5G NSA sunset. There are some potential issues with 5G SA speeds that need sorting out though.

GSA recently held a webinar looking at the status of 5G Standalone networks. The video of the webinar is embedded at the end of the post. The webinar summarised the stats as following:

  • By mid-March 2021, 428 operators in 132 countries/territories were investing in 5G
  • 176 operators in 76 countries/territories had announced they had deployed 3GPP compliant 5G technology in their live networks
  • Of those, a total of 153 operators in 64 countries/territories had launched one or more 3GPP-compliant 5G services
    • 145 operators in 60 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G mobile services
    • 51 operators in 29 countries/territories had launched 3GPP-compliant 5G FWA or home broadband services
  • For comparison, there are 807 public LTE networks worldwide
  • GSA has identified 68 operators in 38 countries/territories that are investing in 5G standalone for public mobile networks
  • Of those, a total of 7 operators in 5 countries/territories had launched 5G SA networks
    • Operators in China have deployed/upgraded hundreds of thousands of base stations 
    • T-Mobile has a nationwide network
    • Plus China Mobile HK, Rain (South Africa) and DirecTV (Colombia)
  • Also ITC KSA (soft launch), STC KSA deployed, Telstra 5G core deployed, plus various contracts for 5G core systems

Private Networks, Non-public networks (NPN) and Industrial 5G Networks are also expected to make use of standalone 5G networks. As 5G networks get virtualized and open, we will see a lot more of these.

The webinar also highlighted the progress of 5G devices:

  • There has been rapid growth in the numbers and types of 5G devices being announced and launched
  • As of end February:
    • 628 5G devices announced
    • 404 commercially available (up from 303 at the end of November)
    • 104 vendors
    • 21 announced form factors
    • Majority are phones (306 announced, 274 commercial)
  • 5G SA devices are also appearing
    • 298 devices announced with 5G SA support
    • 204 commercial devices state support for 5G SA
      • Software upgrades likely to be required
    • Steadily climbing up as % of all 5G devices
      • Now >47% of announced
      • >50% of commercial

Here is the webinar:

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Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Everything you need to know about 5G Security


5G & Security are both big topics on this blog as well as on 3G4G website. We reached out to 3GPP 5G security by experts from wenovator, Dr. Anand R. Prasad & Hans Christian Rudolph to help out audience understand the mysteries of 5G security. Embedded below is video and slides from a webinar they recorded for us.

You can ask any security questions you may have on the video on YouTube

The slides could be downloaded from SlideShare.

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Friday, 5 March 2021

How to Identify Network Slices in NG RAN

In my last post I described how NG RAN resources can be divided into network slices. 

Now I would like to show how these network slices and the traffic they carry can be identified. 

The key to this is a parameter from the NG Application Protocol (NGAP) called the Single Network Slice Selection Assistance Information (S-NSSAI). When configuring virtual network functions in NG RAN there are lists of S-NSSAI exchanged, e.g. between gNB-CU CP and AMF during NGAP Setup procedure, to negotiate which network slices have to be supported in general. 

When it comes to connection establishment starting with NGAP Initial Context Setup for each PDU session that is established its individual S-NSSAI is signaled. 

The S-NSSAI - as show in the figure below - consists of two parameters, the Slice/Service Type (SST - 8 bit) and the optional Slice Differentiator (SD - 24 bit). The exact format and numbering ranges are defined in 3GPP 23.003.

3GPP 23.501 defines a set of default values for SST as listed in the following table:

Slice/Service type

SST value

Characteristics

eMBB

 

1

Slice suitable for the handling of 5G enhanced Mobile Broadband.

URLLC

2

Slice suitable for the handling of ultra- reliable low latency communications.

MIoT

3

Slice suitable for the handling of massive IoT.

V2X

4

Slice suitable for the handling of V2X services.

So when looking back at the figure it emerges that for each subscriber represented by an IMSI the SST allows to identify which services are running. 

On the other hand allows to see if in which virtual network the subscriber is active. In my example I have defined that the resources are shared among a Public MNO that I consider the owner of the network hardware and two different private (campus) networks. While IMSI 1 and IMSI 2 are not allowed to use any other network slice the IMSI 3 is allowed to "roam" betweent the public slice and the two private network slices. This explains why a slice-specific authentication functionality as defined in Rel. 16 is necessary. 

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Friday, 26 February 2021

Network Slicing in NG RAN

I have been asked to explain in a nutshell how network slicing works in NG RAN. The most important facts you will find in the infographic below.

A network slice is virtual part of a network that offers full end-to-end connectivity for particular services and - optionally - for tenants. A tenant is a 3rd-party company that rents a virtual part of a public mobile operator's network. This allows the tenant to run its own private nation-wide mobile network without owning any hardware.

The network slicing is enabled by virtualization and all network functions can be divided into different slices as well. Thus, you can find in the figure the User Plane Function (UPF), gNB Central Unit for User Plane (gNB-CU UP) and gNB Distributed Unit (gNB-DU) all sliced.

It is also possible that a network function is dedicated for a particular network slice as in case of (gNB-) CU UP 2. 

In general - and this is the benefit of the cloudification - the NG RAN is a highly dynamic environment in which additional NW functions can be added (and later released) whenever this is necessary. Mostly this will be triggered by the load on CPU and memory resources. Here comes the automation into the games that deals in large parts with load balancing. Ideally automation enables a zero-touch network management. 

(click to enlarge)

However, the most precious of all RAN resources, the radio resources, cannot be administrated so flexibly and easily. Indeed, there are several automation instances that deal with radio resource management. Open RAN Alliance has defined the RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) that is split into the Near-Realtime-RIC (RT RIC) that shall operate with a latency between 10 and 500 ms while the Non-Realtime RIC (NRT RIC) deals with non-time critical task, e.g. typical SON functions like Automatic Neighbor Reporting (ANR).

While the RIC can deal with a lot of problems there is one thing it cannot do: adding physical layer radio resources on demand. The physical resources are limited by the number of remote radio heads/antennas and as long as we have only static beamforming the physical resources covering a geographical sector are also limited by hardware and their distribution must be carefully planned. Thus, I think it is fair to say that the RIC (or a similar proprietary automation function) has to deal with the most complex situations in the RAN.

Radio resources can also be sliced in different ways. My figure illustrates a kind of slicing on the physical layer where different physical resource blocks (PRB) are allocated to different network slices. 

However, this is not the only way how the resources of a cell or a beam can be sliced. Beside a split of PRBs it is also possible to slice on the MAC layer where logical channels (slice-specific radio bearers) are mapped onto transport channels or on PDPC layer as it was described and demonstrated by the 5G NORMA project (Chapter 2.1, page 17 ff.).

What in the end will be implemented by the RAN equipment manufacturers is a question I that cannot answer today. 

Monday, 22 February 2021

Reducing 5G Device Power Consumption Using Connected-mode Discontinuous Reception (C-DRX)


Back in 2019, when we were still participating in physical event, I heard Sang-Hoon Park, ESVP, Head of Regional Network O&M Headquarter, KT talk about 'KT’s journey to large-scale 5G rollout' at Total Telecom Congress.

South Korea is blessed with three highly competitive MNOs and due to this, the government asked them to launch their 5G networks at the same time in 2018. I have also blogged about how KT is working on reducing the latency of their network here.

Anyway, as you can see in the picture above, using Connected-mode Discontinuous Reception (C-DRX), KT was able to show huge power saving in the 5G Samsung smartphone. They also made a video embedded below:

KT has some more details from their blog post back in 2019 here. Also some more details on RayCat here. Both the sites are in Korean but you can use Google translate to get more details.

What is KT battery saving technology (C-DRX)?

KT's'battery saving technology' is shortened to'Connected Mode Discontinuous Reception' and is called C-DRX. In simple terms, it is one of the technologies that reduces battery usage by periodically switching the communication function of a smartphone to a low power mode while data is connected.

In CDRX technology, the base station and the terminal share CDRX information through RRC setting and reconfiguration, so when there is no packet transmission/reception by the terminal, the terminal transmission/reception terminal can be turned off to reduce battery consumption, and the CDRX setting is optimized to reduce the user's battery consumption. It is possible to increase the available time for related applications.

In order to reduce the battery consumption of the terminal, it is a technology that controls the PDCCH monitoring activity, which is a downlink control channel related to the terminal identifier, through RRC. The base station controls the CDRX through RRC, and how the communication company optimizes and applies this was a big task. Is the first in Korea to optimize this technology and apply it to the national network.

In simple terms, the smartphone is not using communication, but it turns off the power completely and enters the standby state to reduce power consumption. When not in use, it completely turns off the power wasted in transmitting and receiving even during the standby time, thus extending the user's smartphone usage time.

As can be seen from the picture above, battery saving technology saves battery by completely turning off the communication function when there is no data or voice call. If the network does not have the battery saving technology applied, it is always connected to the communication network and waits even when not in use. Then, the battery is always connected to the communication function and the battery saving technology overcomes this part.

When Qualcomm announced their Industry’s First Mobile Platform with Integrated 5G back in 2019, the press release said:

The new integrated Snapdragon 5G mobile platform features Qualcomm® 5G PowerSave technology to enable smartphones with the battery life users expect today. Qualcomm 5G PowerSave builds on connected-mode discontinuous reception (C-DRX, a feature in 3GPP specifications) along with additional techniques from Qualcomm Technologies to enhance battery life in 5G mobile devices – making it comparable to that of Gigabit LTE devices today. Qualcomm 5G PowerSave is also supported in the Snapdragon X50 and X55 5G modems, which are expected to power the first waves of 5G mobile devices introduced this year.

The picture is from the slide deck here. See links in further reading below to learn more about this feature.

Further Reading:

  • All about Wired and Wireless Technology: LTE Connected Mode DRX (link)
  • Netmanias: Future LTE Designed by SK Telecom: ​(2) Application of C-DRX, July 2017 (link)
  • Ericsson: A technical look at 5G mobile device energy efficiency, Feb 2020 (link)
  • ZTE via IEEE Access: Power Saving Techniques for 5G and Beyond, July 2020 (link)

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