Showing posts with label Cellular IoT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cellular IoT. Show all posts

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Small Data Transmission (SDT) in LTE and 5G NR

One of the features that was introduced part of 5G NR 3GPP Release 17 is known as Small Data Transmission (SDT). When small amount of data, in case of an IoT device, needs to be sent, there is no need to establish data radio bearers. The information can be sent as part of signalling message. A similar approach is available in case of 4G LTE. 

Quoting from Ofinno whitepaper 'Small Data Transmission: PHY/MAC', 

The SDT in the 3GPP simply refers to data transmission in an inactive state. Specifically, the SDT is a transmission for a short data burst in a connectionless state where a device does not need to establish and teardown connections when small amounts of data need to be sent.

In the 3GPP standards, the inactive state had not supported data transmission until Release 15. The 3GPP standards basically allowed the data transmission when ciphering and integrity protection are achieved during the connection establishment procedure. Therefore, the data transmission can occur after the successful completion of the establishment procedure between the device and network.

The problem arises as a device stays in the connected state for a short period of time and subsequently releases the connection once the small size data is sent. Generally, the device needs to perform multiple transmissions and receptions of control signals to initiate and maintain the connection with a network. As a payload size of the data is relatively smaller compared with the amounts of the control signals, making a connection for the small data transmission becomes more of a concern for both the network and the device due to the control signaling overhead.

The 3GPP has developed the SDT procedure to enable data transmission in the inactive state over the existing LTE and NR standards. The device initiates the SDT procedure by transmitting an RRC request message (e.g., SDT request message) and data in parallel instead of transmitting the data after the RRC request message processed by a network. Additional transmission and/or reception are optional. The device performs this SDT procedure without transition to the connected state (i.e., without making a connection to the network).

The SDT enables for the network to accept data transmission without signaling intensive bearer establishment and authentication procedure required for the RRC connection establishment or resume procedure. For example, in the SDT procedure, the device needs only one immediate transmission of a transport block (TB) that contains data and RRC request message. Furthermore, the device does not need to perform procedures (e.g., radio link monitoring) defined in the connected state since the RRC state is kept as the inactive state. This results in improving the battery life of the device by avoiding control signaling unnecessary for transmission of small size data.

The principle of the SDT is very simple. The network configures radio resources beforehand for the data transmission in the inactive state. For example, if the conditions to use the configured radio resources satisfy, the device transmits data and the RRC request message together via the configured radio resources. In the 3GPP standards, there are two types of the SDT depending on the ways to configure the radio resources: (1) SDT using a random access (RA) and (2) SDT using preconfigured radio resources. 

Figure 2 (top) illustrates different types of the SDT referred in 3GPP LTE and NR standards. The SDT using the random access in LTE and NR standards is referred to as an EDT (early data transmission) and RA-SDT (Random Access based SDT), respectively. For both the EDT and the RA-SDT, the device performs data transmission using shared radio resources of the random access procedure. Thus, the contention with other devices can occur over the access to the shared radio resources. The shared radio resources for the SDT are broadcast by system information and are configured as isolated from the one for a nonSDT RA procedure, i.e., the legacy RA procedure. On the other hands, the CG-SDT uses the preconfigured radio resources dedicated to the device. The SDT using the preconfigured radio resource is referred to as transmission via PUR (Preconfigured Uplink Resource) in the LTE standards. The NR standards refers the SDT using the preconfigured radio resource as CG-SDT (Configured Grant based SDT). The network configures the configuration parameters of the preconfigured radio resources when transiting the device in the connected state to the inactive state. For example, an RRC release message transmitted from the network for a connection release contains the configuration parameters of PUR or CG-SDT. No contention is expected for the SDT using the preconfigured radio resource since the configuration parameters are dedicated to the device. 

You can continue reading the details in whitepaper here. Ofinno has another whitepaper on this topic, 'Small Data Transmission (SDT): Protocol Aspects' here.

3GPP also recently published an article on this topic here. Quoting from the article:

With SDT it is possible for the device to send small amounts of data while remaining in the inactive state. Note that this idea resembles the early GSM systems where SMS messages where sent via the control signalling; that is, transferring small amounts of data while the mobile did not have a (voice) connection.

SDT is a procedure which allows data and/or signalling transmission while the device remains in inactive state without transitioning to connected state. SDT is enabled on a radio bearer basis and is initiated by the UE only if less than a configured amount of UL data awaits transmission across all radio bearers for which SDT is enabled. Otherwise the normal data transmission scheme is used.

With SDT the data is transmitted quickly on the allocated resource. The IoT device initiates the SDT procedure by transmitting an RRC request message and payload data in parallel, instead of the usual procedure where the data is transmitted after the RRC request message is processed by a network.

It is not only the speed and the reduced size of the transmitted data which make SDT such a suitable process for IoT devices. Since the device stays in the inactive state, it does not have to perform many tasks associated with the active state. This further improves the battery life of the IoT device. Additional transmission and/or reception are optional.

There are two ways of performing SDT:

  1. via random access (RA-SDT)
  2. via preconfigured radio resources (CG-SDT)

Random Access SDT

With RA-SDT, the IoT device does not have a dedicated radio resource, and it is possible that the random access message clashes with similar RA-SDT random access messages from other IoT devices. The device gets to know the radio resources for the RA procedure from system information messages, in a similar way to non RA-SDT devices. However, the RA radio resources for SDT and non SDT devices are kept separate; that is, these device types do not interfere with each other in random access

The RA-SDT procedure can be a two-step or a four-step random access procedure. In two-step procedure the payload data is already sent with the initial random access message, whereas in four-step procedure the device first performs contention resolution with the random access request - random access response message pair, and then sends the UL payload with RRC Resume Request. The procedure may continue with further uplink and downlink small data transmissions, and then it is terminated with an RRC Release from the network.

Below are the signalling diagrams for both two-step and four-step RA-SDT procedures. Note that in both cases the UE stays in the RRC inactive state during the whole process.

Configured Grant SDT

For CG-SDT, the radio resources are allocated periodically based on the estimation of the UE’s traffic requirements. This uplink scheduling method is called Configured Grant (CG). With CG-SDT there will be no message clashes with other IoT devices since the radio resources are dedicated for each device. The resource allocation is signalled to the IoT device by the network when the device leaves the connected state.

If the amount of data in the UE's tx buffer is larger than a defined limit, then the data transmission is done using the normal non-SDT procedure.

For SDT process, the device selects the CG-SDT as the SDT type if the resources for the CG-SDT are configured on the selected uplink carrier. If the resources for the CG-SDT are unavailable or invalid, the RA-SDT or the non-SDT RA procedure will be chosen if those are configured. If no SDT type configuration is available then a normal non-SDT data transmission is performed.

With IoT devices proliferating, it makes sense to optimise data transfer and anything else that will reduce the power consumption and let the battery in the devices last for much longer.

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Wednesday 31 May 2023

New 5G NTN Spectrum Bands in FR1 and FR2

Release-17 includes two new FR1 bands for NTN; n255 (a.k.a. NTN 1.6GHz) and n256 (a.k.a. NTN 2GHz). The picture is from a slide in Rohde & Schwarz presentation available here. Quoting from an article by Reiner Stuhlfauth, Technology Manager Wireless, Rohde & Schwarz:

Currently, several frequency ranges are being discussed within 3GPP for NTN. Some are in the FR1 legacy spectrum, and some beyond 10 GHz and FR2. The current FR1 bands discussed for NTN are:

  • The S-band frequencies from 1980 to 2010 MHz in uplink (UL) direction and from 2170 to 2200 MHz in downlink (DL) direction (Band n256).
  • The L-band frequencies from 1525 to 1559 MHz DL together with 1626.5 to 1660.5 MHz for the UL (Band n255).1

These frequency ranges have lower path attenuation, and they’re already used in legacy communications. Thus, components are available now, but the bands are very crowded, and the usable bandwidth is restricted. Current maximum bandwidth is 20 MHz with up to 40-MHz overall bandwidth envisaged in the future [TR 38.811].

As far as long-term NTN spectrum use is concerned, 3GPP is discussing NR-NTN above 10 GHz. The Ka-band is the highest-priority band with uplinks between 17.7 and 20.2 GHz and downlinks between 27.5 and 30 GHz, based on ITU information regarding satellite communications frequency use.2 Among current FR2 challenges, one is that some of the discussed bands fall into the spectrum gap between FR1 and FR2 and that NTN frequencies will use FDD duplex mode due to the long roundtrip time.

Worth highlighting again that the bands above, including n510, n511 and n512 are all FDD bands due to the long round trip times.

The latest issue of 3GPP highlight magazine has an article on NTN as well. Quoting from the article:

The NTN standard completed as part of 3GPP Release 17 defines key enhancements to support satellite networks for two types of radio protocols/interfaces:

  • 5G NR radio interface family also known as NR-NTN
  • 4G NB-IoT & eMTC radio interfaces family known as IoT-NTN

These critical enhancements including adaptation for satellite latency and doppler effects have been carefully defined to support a wide range of satellite network deployment scenarios and orbits (i.e., LEO, MEO and GEO), terminal types (handheld, IoT, vehicle mounted), frequency bands, beam types (Earth fixed/Earth moving) and sizes. The NTN standard also addresses mobility procedures across both terrestrial and non-terrestrial network components. Release 17 further includes Radio Frequency and Radio Resource Management specifications for terminals and satellite access nodes operating in two FR1 frequency ranges allocated to Mobile Satellite Services (i.e., n255 and n256).

You can read it here.

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Thursday 6 October 2022

Key enablers for mass IoT adoption

At 'The Things Conference' in Amsterdam in September, Roman Nemish, Co-Founder & President of TEKTELIC presented a critical view of different IoT technologies and argued that LoRaWAN is the only technology that will eventually make mass IoT possible.

The following is the intro to the talk from the conference:

IoT technology has progressed from home to city-scale applications, making it a crucial part of any operational process. IoT sensors are becoming more affordable, reliable, and easy to deploy.

The Internet of Things has already brought advancement to healthcare, retail, city infrastructure, and manufacturing with many other opportunities still open.

We are ready to explain why IoT deployment has transformed from privilege to necessity, what benefits it can bring to your business, and how you win the competition using IoT.

Enterprise IoT Insights have a good take on the talk here. The following is an extract:

Nemish, president at TEKTELIC, argued that new-wave cellular IoT – in the form of NB-IoT and LTE-M, primarily – is “too expensive” for consumers and too small-margin for mobile operators; that “most IoT opportunities are 10-25 times smaller [than the kinds of deals that would] attract operator attention”. Cellular IoT has “vast potential”, he concluded, but requires a “different approach”.

In other words, there is not enough profit in (low-power) cellular IoT for mobile operators to give it proper focus – and the deals are not big enough to make them really care. The IoT game – based on finely-calculated returns on volume-deals not going much higher than 100,000 units at a time – is better served by smaller-sized providers, without regional spectrum licences, offering broadly-equivalent technologies in unlicensed bands, he implied.

But experiences with Sigfox and LoRaWAN (in some formats) – the French-born IoT twin-tech that started the whole low-power wide-area (LPWA) movement, and forced the cellular community to come up with their own alternatives – have not been much better, necessarily, the story goes. Sigfox pumped $350 million over 10 years into its technology and network, only to go into receivership at the start of 2022 with fewer than 20 million devices under management.

The problem, said Nemish, is with the business model, and not the tech. (As an aside, a takeaway from The Things Conference last week, as from the LoRaWAN World Expo in Paris in the summer, and from any number of private discussions in between, is the IoT market is mature enough to let go of its closely-held tech differences, and acknowledge that customers don’t really care so long as it works – and so the blame switches to the business model, instead.)

Nemish blamed Sigfox’s ‘failure’ on exclusive single-market contracts and cripping licensing fees; these “killed most operator business plans”, he suggested. Of course, Sigfox lives to see another day – and, it might be noted, Taiwan-based IoT house Unabiz, its new owners, have just hosted the 0GUN Alliance of Sigfox operators in France to bash-out a new operator model, and a collaborative approach to a “unified LPWAN world”.

And LoRaWAN is not exempt in the analysis, either. In Amsterdam, Nemish held up the madly-hyped Helium model for crypto-led community network building as another failed IoT business model. Again – and of course, with a critical appraisal of a LoRaWAN network by a LoRaWAN provider – the tech is not the problem, just the way it is being offered. Because Helium, he said, with $1 billion of public community funding, has “no use” after three years.

As per the slide, parent Nova Labs has “failed to sign customers, implement SLA(s), or plan network evolution”, he suggested. The community behind it, originally bedsit enthusiasts on to a good thing, are not motivated by “IoT adoption but [by] crypto-mania”, said Nemish. Just look on eBay, where 10,000 secondhand Helium miners (gateways) are being flogged, to see how its star has fallen, he said – along with its stock, with HNT trading up 12 percent at around $5 at writing, on the back of a deal for decentralised 5G with T-Mobile in the US, but down from a high of nearly $30 a few months ago.

The article highlights some heated discussions on the presentation and slides. You can read the whole article here.

The closing slide nicely summarises that IoT deployment is a marathon, not a sprint. End users are interested in solving real-world problems. Partner to develop complete IoT solutions that can be integrated simply with any IoT platform and with clearly defined API. Also have a strong engineering team to support customer integration and early deployment.

Here is the video of the talk for anyone interested:

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Monday 4 October 2021

Are there 50 Billion IoT Devices yet?

Detailed post below but if you are after a quick summary, it's in the picture above.

Couple of weeks back someone quoted that there were 50 billion devices last year (2020). After challenging them on the number, they came back to me to say that there were over 13 billion based on GSMA report. While the headline numbers are correct, there are some finer details we need to look at.

It all started back in 2010 when the then CEO of Ericsson announced that there will be 50 Billion IoT Devices by 2020. You could read all about it here and see the presentation here. While it doesn't explicitly say, it was expected that the majority of these will be based on cellular technologies. I also heard the number 500 Billion by 2030, back in 2013.

So the question is how many IoT devices are there today and how many of these are based on mobile cellular technologies?

The headline number provided by the GSMA Mobile Economy report, published just in time for MWC 2021, is 13.1 billion in 2020. It does not provide any further details on what kind of connectivity these devices use. I had to use my special search skills to find the details here.

As you can see, only 1.9 billion of these are based on cellular connections, of which 0.2 billion are based on licensed Low Power Wide Area (licensed LPWA, a.k.a. LTE-M and NB-IoT) connections. 

Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2021, has a much more detailed breakdown regarding the numbers as can be seen in the slide above. As of the end of 2020, there were 12.4 billion IoT devices, of which 10.7 billion were based on Short-range IoT. Short-range IoT is defined as a segment that largely consists of devices connected by unlicensed radio technologies, with a typical range of up to 100 meters, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee.

Wide-area IoT, which consists of segment made up of devices using cellular connections or unlicensed low-power technologies like Sigfox and LoRa had 1.7 billion devices. So, the 1.6 billion cellular IoT devices also includes LPWAN technologies like LTE-M and NB-IoT.

I also reached out to IoT experts at analyst firm Analysys Mason. As you can see in the Tweet above, Tom Rebbeck, Partner at Analysys Mason, mentioned 1.6 billion cellular (excluding NB-IoT + LTE-M) and 220 million LPWA (which includes NB-IoT, LTE-M, as well as LoRa, Sigfox etc.) IoT connections.

I also noticed this interesting chart in the tweet above which shows the growth of IoT from Dec 2010 until June 2021. Matt Hatton, Founding Partner of Transforma Insights, kindly clarified that the number as 1.55 billion including NB-IoT and LTE-M.

As you can see, the number of cellular IoT connections are nowhere near 50 billion. Even if we include all kinds of IoT connectivity, according to the most optimistic estimate by Ericsson, there will be just over 26 billion connections by 2026.

Just before concluding, it is worth highlighting that according to all these cellular IoT estimates, over 1 billion of these connections are in China. GSMA's 'The Mobile Economy China 2021' puts the number as 1.34 billion as of 2020, growing to 2.29 billion by 2025. Details on page 9 here.

Hopefully, when someone wants to talk about Internet of Thing numbers in the future, they will do a bit more research or just quote the numbers from this post here.

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Friday 20 November 2020

Business Role Models for Network Slicing and iRAT Mobility for Cellular Internet of Things (CIoT) in Release 16

 3GPP Release 16 describes business role models for network slicing and in TR 21.916 I found the figures below that I have pimped a little bit to illustrate an asset tracking use case for goods transported with a truck from Factory A to Factory B. 

Factory B is equipped with a 5G Non-Public Network (NPN) that broadcasts an NPN-ID or - if the network infrastructure is deployed by an operator - a Cell Access Group ID (CAG ID).

I would like to assume that in case of the scenario shown in 3GPP Figure 2-2 the asset tracking CIoT devices are able to access any necessary PLMN, Network Slice and NPN. This can be achieved e.g. by using an eSIM. 

So while the truck is at the location of Factory A the asset tracking "things" will connect to the private slice of Factory A provided by the operator of PLMN 1. Factory A is a tenant of this operator. This means: Factory A rented a virtual part of PLMN1 for private use and technically this rented virtual network part is realized by a NW slice. 

When the truck leaves Factory A and drives on the road (maybe a long distance) to Factory B the asset tracking data must be transmitted over public mobile network infrastructure. Depending on rural coverage this service can be offered by PLMN 2 (as in case of 3GPP figure 2-2) or by PLMN 1 (as in case of 3GPP figure 2-3).

In case of 3GPP figure 2-4 the operator of PLMN 1 is even able to provide the private slice along the road, which allows Factory A to stretch the coverage of their virtual private network (slice) over a very long distance.

Looking further into the Cellular IoT enhancements defined by 3GPP in Release 16 it turns out that actually there is no need for a nation-wide 5G coverage to realize at least the role models shown in the 3GPP figures 2-2 and 2-3.

Because Release 16 also defines co-existence and inter-RAT mobility between 5G CIoT traffic and 4G NB-IoT the operators of PLMN 1 and PLMN 2 may offer NB-IoT coverage along the road while the factories are covered with 5G NR frequency cells - as shown in my second figure below.  

It illustrates the great improved flexibility that Release 16 standards are offering for customized business solutions and monitoring the service quality is not a trivial task under these circumstances.  


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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 15 March 2020

How Cellular IoT and AI Can Help to Overcome Extreme Poverty in a Climate-resilient Way

The Democratic Republic ofthe Congo (DRC) is the second largest country in Africa and it has a significant potential for agricultural development as the country has more land (235 million hectares) than Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Zambia, combined, of which only 3.4% is cultivated.

Despite this, around 13 millions of Congolese live in extreme food insecurity, among them 5 millions acutely malnourished children. Current assessments show the trend is increasing.

In the southern provinces formerly known as "Katanga" the needs in maize for human consumption sum up to 700,000 tons per year, while the local production barely amounts to 120,000 tons per year. This means the provinces have to resort to importing food from neighboring countries, which represents a huge burden on the region's economy.

Another aspect of the problem is that 80% of the local production is made by women farmers, and the biggest challenge they face is the lack of daily agronomic monitoring and guidance. There is only a limited amount of agriculture experts in the region and without assistance, the farmersaverage output is at best one ton per hectare. However, field trials have proven that by using smart farming technology they can easily produce up to 6 tons per hectare year over year with the right sustainable approach and support. Artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data analytics underpinned by mobile connectivity can even do more. They bring significant potential for capturing carbon, optimizing water, pesticide and fertilizer usage, and reducing soil erosion. Thus, African women can not only provide the solution to the local food gap/insecurity but also become the primary protectors of their environment.

The basic technical concept is not new. Back in 2016 Ooredoo Myanmar launched Site Pyo, a mobile agriculture information service for smallholder farmers. At its core Site Pyo is a weather forecast app that was enhanced with weather-dependent advice for ten crops, from seed selection to harvesting and storage. In addition the app displays the actual market prices for these crops. GSMA as a co-funder of the project celebrates Site Pyo as a big success, but it seems to be limited to Myanmar. Why?

„A lot of customization needs to be done to adapt the application functionality for a particular region“, says Dieu-DonnĂ© Okalas Ossami, CEO of „e-tumba“, a French Start-up specialized in smart farming solutions for Sub-Sahara Africa. His company partners with iTK, a spin-off from CIRAD, the French Institute for tropical agronomy. The iTK crop-specific predictive models are based on years of agronomic data, but have originally been designed for big farmers. To meet the demands of women in Katanga requires more granular data for both, input and output.

As in case of Site Pyo weather predictions are important, but in addition there are data feeds from sensors on the spot. Weather stations measure constantly temperature and rainfall while sensors in the soil report its saturation with water, nitrogen and potassium.

„A typical real-time advice that our software provides is to delay the harvest for some additional days to maximize the yield“, explains Okalas Ossami. „However, even for two neighboring fields the particular advices are often different.“ 

Also the communication channels need to be taylored. Many women farmers are illiterate. For them the advice must be translated into the local language they speak and transmitted to their phones as a voice message. Those who can read and write will receive the notifications through short message service.

The mobile connectivity that links all elements of the system is realized by the mobile network operators present in the region.


Infographic: The Technical Environment Behind the Project
„Actually NB-IoT would fit to our use case“, says Okalas Ossami, „but it is not available. And there is neither LoRa nor SigFox.“ Hence, the sensors are using data connections of 3G and 4G radio access technology. In case of network outage or missing coverage a local field technician must collect the sensor data manually and transfer it to the data center through alternative channels.

It is the same field technician who installs the sensors. The woman farmers receive a basic training to understand how the system works, but they do not need to care about technical components - except keeping their mobile phones charged.

Here comes another important aspect into the game: How can the women trust this technical environment?

In case of Site Pyo the operator Ooredoo observed a quickly increasing user community measured by the number of app downloads. However, there was no indication to which extend the Myanmar farmers really used the app. The e-tumba solution addresses this gap by partnering with the non-government organization „Anzafrika“.

Anzafrika is present in the villages where the people live. One of its major targets is to overcome the extreme poverty by developing the regional economy. A key factor for this is that the smallholder farmers do not just see the market prices for their crops, but get real access to large, stable and long-term markets where these prices are paid. Anzafrika is brokering contracts between the woman farmers and large multinational corporations committed to the Economics of Mutuality, growing human, social and natural capital. The business model behind this concept was outlined by Bruno Roche and Jay Jakub in their book „Completing Capitalism:Heal Business to Heal the World“. Instead of focusing on greenhouse gas emissions (output) they insist that climate-resilient business models must measure the input needed for manufacturing goods. As an example: For one hot cup of coffee the greenhouse gas emissions are extremely low, but 3.4 liters of water are needed (most for packaging, processing and drinking) and 12 gram of top soil will be eroded. These are (among others) the expenses paid by the planet that are not taken into account by a carbon tax.

Coffee plantations are monocultures with all the known disadvantages resulting form this kind of farming. In the past the Congolese women farmers have grown maize as a monoculture. Now, with advice from Anzafrika and e-tumba they transitioned from an „all-maize“ sustenance crop to a semi-industrial „maize-sorghum“ production. This helps to minimize the top soil erosion and thus, to remunerate the natural capital involved in the process.  

Regarding the human and social capital Anzafrika monitors how the overall situation in the villages  is improving. The focus is on progress in well-beeing, satisfaction and health not just for the women farmers, but for their entire communities.

In 2019 smart farming technology have been tested and deployed with a group of 150 women in the province of Lualaba. Now, in 2020, their number is expected to rise to 500 and after 6 years the stunning target of 100,000 participants shall be met. A look at the download numbers of Site Pyo (206,000 in the course of one year) shows that these numbers are not over-optimistic.

The partnership between Anzafrika, e-tumba and iTK is now considered as a best international practice, as indicated by Patrick Gilabert, UNIDO Representative to the European Union in Brussels. It fully aligns with the development of new comprehensive strategies for Africa that aim at creating a partnership of equals and mutual interest through agriculture, trade and investment partnerships.

UNIDO, as the UN convener for the implementation of the Industrial Decade for Development of Africa” (IDDA 3) is always ready to join forces with innovative partners.

Sunday 27 October 2019

R&S Webinar on LTE-A Pro and evolution to 5G


Rohde & Schwarz recently uploaded a webinar video on their YouTube channel. I found it really useful. It's embedded below.

Topics covered:

  • LTE-M / NB-IoT
    • feMTC
    • UE Category M2
    • OTDOA based positioning
  • UE Categories
  • Unlicensed Spectrum Overview
  • LTE in Unlicensed Spectrum
    • LWA, LWIP
    • LAA, eLAA
    • Wi-Fi
    • LBT
    • LWA mobility
  • Carrier Aggregation Enhancements
  • Multi-user superposition transmission (MUST)
  • Single cell - point to multipoint transmission (SC-PTM)
    • SC-PTM Channel Structure
    • SC-PTM Channel Flow
  • Massive MIMO
  • V2X Overview
    • eNB scheduling - transmission mode 3
    • Distributed scheduling - transmission mode 4
    • Direct communication
  • LTE Advanced Pro (Release 15)
    • Further NB-IoT Enhancements
    • Even further enhanced MTC - eMTC4 (Rel-15)



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Friday 28 September 2018

Multi-technology :The future of IoT geolocation

In the big world of IoT, location tracking  is the  next  frontier!. Location tracking for humans is already an integral part of our lives especially for navigation. Traditional technologies enabling this are  not only expensive, they  have technical boundaries preventing scaling. For IoT geolocation to become a true reality, it is inevitable it has to be  extremely accurate, extremely low cost, and extremely low touch. 

Where is the market?


Research and Markets predict revenues from Geo IoT will reach $49 billion by 2021.

Just as location determination has become an essential element of personal communications, so shall presence detection and location-aware technologies be key to the long-term success of the Internet of Things (IoT). Geo IoT will positively impact many industry verticals. – Research and Market report about “Geo IoT Technologies, Services, and Applications Market Outlook: Positioning, Proximity, Location Data and Analytics 2016 – 2021.”

Connecting IoT objects is already a large market growing exponentially with the mix of unlicensed Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRaWAN, and combined more recent introduction of Cellular IoT technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M. Adding Geolocation to this introduces a whole range of new applications not possible before. Some of these applications are:
  1. Asset Management
  2. Fleet Management
  3. Anti-theft scooter/bike rental
  4. Logistics/parcel bags tracking
  5. Worker safety for Oil and Gas
  6. Elderly and Disabled care
  7. Tracking solution for skiers
  8. Pets and Animal tracking

The above applications represent large existing market which can be only be enabled with extremely low cost and low power trackers. This is the reason why LPWAN-enabled geolocation is in fact a separate product category for large existing market.

The challenges involved (Asset tracking as an example case study)


Railway cars, truck trailers, containers: tracking valuable assets on the move is a pain point for most large distributed organizations involved in logistics and supply chain, typically relying on partners such as distributors to correctly register check-in and check-out events. This registration process at specific checkpoints is usually manual, intermittent and subject to human errors.  To tackle this issue, an IoT low power asset tracking system using LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) trackers brings a “timeless” checkpoint solution. Specifically, LoRaWAN™-based trackers, because of their low power, low cost and lightweight infrastructure, provide a first truly reliable tracking solution allowing to reduce downtime during transportation. 

In the logistics sector, many business cases involve additional costs due to inefficient utilization of assets. Transport companies need to invest in freight railway cars, car logistics companies need to invest in truck trailers, and of course there are the standard containers and pallets.

“The profitability of these business cases directly depends on the minimization of asset downtime: every day or hour lost in a warehouse, parking or rail station reduces the number of times the moving asset will generate profit in a year.”

However, measuring this downtime is also a challenge. Traditional solutions involved cellular or satellite trackers, which require significant CAPEX, but perhaps more importantly also ongoing OPEX due to battery replacements and connectivity costs. In some cases, trackers are located in hard to reach areas especially when mounted on railroad cars, or in oil and gas rigs, which makes it very costly to replace batteries especially if there are several hundreds of thousands of trackers deployed in the field. The battery replacement is done by humans and is one of the dominating OPEX factors in overall Total Cost of Ownership ( TCO) of the whole solution. These replacement costs actually made it difficult to justify the mass adoption of conventional geolocation solutions in the logistics sector.


LPWAN trackers: a game changer

LoRaWAN  is LPWAN connectivity standard developed by LoRa Alliance primarily for unlicensed ISM spectrum, to create disruption in both the technology and business models. On the technology front, the main impact is on drastic reduction of power consumption, which reduces battery usage and ultimately also OPEX related to ongoing maintenance. It also creates new opportunities for more dynamic tracking, as communication events are less costly. On the business model side, logistics companies can now trade off between CAPEX and OPEX: most LPWAN systems operate on an unlicensed band, for example the leading LoRaWAN™  technology operates in the 915MHz band in the US, the 868MHz band in Europe and equivalent ISM bands in other parts of the world. This means that logistics companies can invest in their own wireless networks to reduce or eliminate variable connectivity costs.

“The cost of LPWAN radio network gateways has decreased due to higher production volumes and are now affordable even to very small logistic centers, such as a car distributor. “

 Next generation LPWAN trackers


The potential of LPWAN-enabled tracking requires a new generation of hardware. The lower radio frequency power consumption is only a part of a massive effort to decrease overall power consumption of the whole system. This requires developing a multi-technology geolocation tracker platform that can combine GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi Sniffing, WiFi fingerprinting and Bluetooth with the goal of reducing power consumption and provide location information opportunistically in variety of scenarios such as (indoor/outdoor, urban/rural, slow/fast moving and so on). 

Another key factor is the usage of LPWAN technologies such as (LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for transporting geolocation data back to the cloud. This is the key as traditional cellular technologies such as 2G/3G/4G are just too power hungry to meet the target goal of 5-10 year battery lifetime. However, there will be licensed Cellular IoT options based on NB-IoT/LTE-M that will be also be used for some of the applications.

IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

LoRaWAN and Low Power GPS significantly increases battery lifetime

IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

Merging an IoT network solution such as LoRaWAN with  multi-mode geolocation technologies for outdoor and indoor positioning increase by at least a factor of 10 the battery lifetime compared to the standard cellular solution using GSM/AGPS. Source: Actility

The Road Ahead:


The next frontier in IoT geolocation will be two fold. The first will be the multi-technology cloud platform that will combine intelligently Over-The-Top (OTT) geolocation technologies such as GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth with network based TDoA geolocation technologies using LoRaWAN and/or Cellular. This requires close cooperation between public network operators with geolocation service providers.

Webinar: MULTI-TECHNOLOGY IOT GEOLOCATION
The future of IoT geolocation is multi-technology


In order to shed some light on the above mentioned points, we are hosting a webinar that explains where  we will explore the challenges of network-based geolocation and how it can be combined with other geolocation technologies such as GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. We will explain how multi-technology geolocation differs from traditional cellular+GPS based geolocation, and show how it opens up an entirely new market and product category. We’ll also explore how multi-technology geolocation meets the requirements and use cases for connecting small sensors which are low-cost with very long battery lifetime. A guest speaker from KPN will share selected case studies demonstrating IoT geolocation deployments and discuss real-world experience. The webinar will conclude with outlook for technological evolution in the field, and give an overview of our Location portfolio.

What will you learn from this webinar?
  1. What are the market opportunities and use cases enabled by IoT Geolocation?
  2. What are the benefits of multi-technology geolocation?
  3. What are the benefits of using LPWAN technologies(LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for connectivity?
  4. How LPWAN-enabled Geolocation will evolve in the future?
  5. How is Actility building multi-technology geolocation platform?

Follow the link below for registration to the webinar,

For any questions, contact the author below,