Showing posts with label GSMA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GSMA. Show all posts

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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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, 2 June 2020

Embedded SIM (eSIM) and Integrated SIM (iSIM)

It's been a while since I wrote detailed posts explaining UICC and SIM cards. Since then the SIM cards have evolved from Mini SIM to Micro SIM and Nano SIM. They are evolving even further, especially for M2M / IoT devices as embedded SIM (eSIM or eUICC) and integrated SIM (iSIM).


Embedded SIMs (eSIMs) or embedded Universal Integrated Circuit Cards (eUICCs) are physical SIMs that are soldered into the device and enable storage and remote management of multiple network operator profiles (remote SIM provisioning). The form factor of eSIM is known as MFF2.

The integrated SIMs (iSIMs) moves the SIM from a separate chip into a secure enclave alongside the application processor and cellular radio on a purpose-built system on a chip (SoC).

We made a short tutorial explaining UICC & SIM and then looking at eSIM, iSIM and how remote SIM provisioning works. The video and slides are embedded below. The slides contain a lot of useful links for further reading.







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Saturday, 4 April 2020

5G eXtended Reality (5G-XR) in 5G System (5GS)


We have been meaning to make a tutorial on augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR) and extended reality (XR) for a while but we have only managed to do it. Embedded below is video and slides for the tutorial and also a playlist of different use cases on XR from around the world.

If you are not familiar with the 5G Service Based Architecture (SBA) and 5G Core (5GC), best to check this earlier tutorial before going further. A lot of comments are generally around Wi-Fi instead of 5G being used for indoors and we completely agree. 3GPP 5G architecture is designed to cater for any access in addition to 5G access. We have explained it here and here. This guest post also nicely explains Network Convergence of Mobile, Broadband and Wi-Fi.





XR use cases playlist



A lot of info on this topic is from Qualcomm, GSMA, 3GPP and 5G Americas whitepaper, all of them in the links in the slides.


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Friday, 20 March 2020

Real-life 5G Use Cases for Verticals from China

GSMA have recently published a series of reports related to China. This includes the 'The Mobile Economy China' report as well as reports on ‘Impacts of mmWave 5G in China’, ‘5G use cases for verticals China 2020’ and ‘Powered by SA case studies’. They are all available here.

China currently has 1.65bn subscribers (Excluding licensed cellular IoT) which is expected to grow to 1.73bn in 2025. The report quotes 1.20bn unique mobile subscribers that is expected to grow to 1.26bn by 2025. With a population of 1.44 billion, this would be assuming everyone over 10 years has a smartphone. 2G and 3G is being phased out so only 4G and 5G will be around in 2025. This would be different for IoT.

The 5G Use Cases for Verticals China 2020 report is comprised of 15 outstanding examples of 5G-empowered applications for verticals, ranging from industrial manufacturing, transportation, electric power, healthcare, education, to content creation, and zooms into the practical scenarios, technical features, and development opportunities for the next generation technology. Every use case represents the relentless efforts of 5G pioneers who are open, cooperative, and innovative.

  1. Flexible Smart Manufacturing with 5G Edge Computing (RoboTechnik, China Mobile, Ericsson)
  2. 5G Smart Campus in Haier Tianjin Washing Machine Factory (China Mobile, Haier)
  3. Aircraft Surface Inspection with 5G and 8K at Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac, China Unicom, Huawei)
  4. Xinfengming Group’s Smart Factory Based on MEC Technology (Xinfengming, China Mobile, ZTE)
  5. SANY Heavy Industry 5G and Smart Manufacturing (Sany, China Mobile, China Telecom, ZTE)
  6. Xiangtan Iron & Steel's 5G Smart Plant (Xisc, China Mobile, Huawei)
  7. The Tianjin 5G Smart Port (Tianjin, China Unicom, ZTE, Trunk)
  8. 5G Intelligent Connected Vehicle Pilot in Wuhan (China Mobile, Huawei, et al.)
  9. 5G BRT Connected Vehicle-Infrastructure Cooperative System (China Unicom, DTmobile, et al.)
  10. 5G for Smart Grid (China Mobile, Huawei, et al.)
  11. Migu's "Quick Gaming" Platform (China Mobile, et al.)
  12. 5G Cloud VR Demonstration Zone in Honggutan, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province (Besttone, China Telecom, Huawei)
  13. 5G Cloud VR Education Application Based on AI QoE (China Telecom, Nokia, et al.)
  14. China MOOC Conference: 5G + Remote Virtual Simulation Experiment (China Unicom, Vive HTC, Dell Technologies, et al.)
  15. 5G-empowered Hospital Network Architecture Standard (CAICT, China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, Huawei, et al.)

They are all detailed in the report here.

I have written about 5G Use Cases in a blog post earlier, which also contains a video playlist of use cases from around the world. Not many from China in there at the moment but should be added as and when they are available and I discover them.


Related Posts:

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-Donné 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.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Exploiting Possible 5G Vulnerabilities


The standards can try their best to ensure that the next generation of protocols is more secure than the previous one but there is always some way in which the protocols can be exploited. This is where researchers play an important role in finding such vulnerabilities before they can be exploited by hackers. Frankly I am quite sure that only a handful of these vulnerabilities are found and hackers always have something that may never be found.

In the recent HITBSecConf or the Hack In The Box Security Conference Altaf Shaik presented "4G to 5G: New Attacks". He along with Ravishankar Borgaonkar has been working to find out issues with security in cellular networks. In fact in the GSMA Mobile Security Hall of Fame, they both appear twice, individually.

From the talk narrative:

5G raises the security bar a level above 4G. Although IMSI exposure is prevented in 5G, we found new vulnerabilities to attack devices and subscribers. In this talk we expose a set of vulnerabilities in the 5G/4G protocols that are found in network operators equipment and also consumer devices such as phones, routers, latest IoT sensors, and even car modems. Our vulnerabilities affect several commercial applications and use cases that are active in 4G networks and are expected to take off in 5G networks. We developed automated tools to exploit the exposed cellular information and share some of our research traces and data sets to the community. We demonstrate a new class of hijacking, bidding down and battery draining attacks using low cost hardware and software tools. We did a rigorous testing worldwide to estimate the number of affected base stations and are surprised by the results. Finally our interactions with various vendors and standard bodies and easy fixes to prevent our attacks are discussed.

Slides and Video is embedded below






Slides and Whitepaper can be downloaded from here.

Further Reading:

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

When does your 5G NSA Device Show 5G Icon?


After I wrote about the 5G Icon Display back in February, I received lots of other useful and related materials, mostly from 3GPP standards delegates. Based on this updated information, I created a presentation and video called 'The 5G Icon Story'. Only recently did I realize that I didn't add it to the blog. So here it is.

And for people who are impatient and directly want to jump to the main point, it's UpperLayerIndication in SIB 2 as can be seen above.

The slides and video is embedded below.





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Saturday, 29 June 2019

Presentations from ETSI Security Week 2019 (#ETSISecurityWeek)


ETSI held their annual Security Week Seminar 17-21 June at their HQ in Sophia Antipolis, France. All the presentations are available here. Here are some I think the audience of this blog will like:


Looks like all presentations were not shared but the ones shared have lots of useful information.


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Wednesday, 15 May 2019

When will 2G & 3G be switched off now that 5G is here?


I wrote this blog post '2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds' back in Oct 2017. Since then I have continued to see the same trend in 2G/3G shutdown announcements. Based on that post and also taking the GSMA Mobile Economy Report into account, we have created a short tutorial on 2G/3G switch off and how the trends are affected by the launch of KaiOS based Smart Feature phones. Presentation and video embedded below. Would love to hear your thoughts.





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Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Drones at Mobile World Congress 2019 and my upcoming webinar on 5G at #MWC19


Mobile World Congress featured many different drones for many different purposes and applications. While I wouldn't claim to have seen all or even most of them, I managed to go to the GSMA seminar 'The Internet of the Skies – Connecting Drones'. Key topics of the seminar included:

  • The support of safe BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Sight) and autonomous operation of unmanned aircraft (UA)
  • The use of mobile connectivity to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of UA, by enabling BVLOS operation, supporting real-time data transmissions from on-board cameras and sensors
  • Mobile connectivity requirements for registration and identification, flight planning and approval, the transmission of meteorological information, geo-fencing, geo-caging and tracking

The best thing is that the presentations are available for anyone interested. Link at the bottom of this post. I have embedded some videos from the seminar in the playlist as well.


During the seminar, Telefônica talked about their fire fighting Antifire drones which are helping detect, survey and combat fires before, during and after a fire breaks out.


Turkcell talked about their Dronecell. The 5G connected drone can be used for many different purposes from inspection, photos and videos to providing temporary coverage in case of disasters. One of the interesting use cases was also surveillance (see video). They are also working with a local drone company, see here. For Dronecell they are testing with different vendors like Huawei, Airspan, etc. and also have their own hardware (see pic above).


The Latvian mobile operator Mans LMT talked about how Drones in combination with Sensors and AI can provide endless opportunities. In addition drones can also be used for delivering goods and rescue missions. Finally, LMT with Lufthansa Systems are working on a mobile, connected UTM platform for drone solutions and traffic management (see video below).



In addition enjoyed a virtual ride in Ooredoo’s 5G-enabled Aerial Taxi. Also happened to bump into Robert Joyce who used to work for Telefonica O2 UK and used to be very active in O2's small cells rollout during 2012 London Olympics. See here, here & here.

Huawei showed SkySite: A Drone with 5G base station & '5G Book' RRU. I blogged about it here.

Saudi Telecom Company (STC) had a drone flight simulator. I didn't see it but tweet below


There were 10 Catalonian companies showing smart drones. Tweet below



Finally, Samsung Electronics, Cisco and Orange unveiled "A Drone carrying a very low latency, high-quality video system is piloted from the Orange booth at the Fira de Barcelona. The drone, which is located outdoors at an Orange datacenter, carries a 5G router (CPE) that is used to transfer commands to the drone and transmit a high-quality video feed with low latency. At the Orange booth, the pilot can be seen controlling the drone by using a 5G tablet. Aeromedia, a leading drone operator, collaborated in this demo." Sadly, I didn't manage to find this and couldn't see any videos either.


Here is a video playlist of Drones from MWC.






I am also running a webinar next week looking at 5G @ MWC 2019 on behalf of Parallel Wireless (#PWTechTrain) . Along with drones, I plan to talk about lot more things. Register here.


Presentations from "MWC19 Barcelona Seminar: The Internet of the Skies – Connecting Drones" available here.

GSMA IoT contains good amount of information on drones. Link.


Related Posts:

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Displaying 5G Network Status Icon on Smartphones and Other Devices

A more updated presentation & video on this topic is available on 3G4G '5G Training' page here.
Who thought displaying of network status icon on 5G devices would be so much fun. Typically the network icons are more of:
2G - Gsm, G, G+, E
3G - 3G, H, H+
4G - 4G, 4G+

Back in 2017, Samsung devices started displaying 4G+ icon. Samsung told mybroadband:

that by default its devices require a network to support Category 6 LTE, and for the total combined bandwidth to exceed 20MHz, before they will display the “4G+” icon.

Networks in South Africa frequently don’t have over 20MHz of aggregated bandwidth available, though.

As a result, one network asked Samsung to reduce the combined bandwidth requirement for the 4G+ icon to display to 15MHz, which Samsung approved.

“Samsung’s global policy regarding the display of the LTE/LTE-A/4G/4G+ network icon is that the network icon display is operator-configurable upon official request and Samsung approval,” it said.

The reason this is interesting is because LTE is really 3.9G but generally called 4G. LTE-A is supposed to be 4G because in theory it meets IMT-Advanced criteria. Then we have LTE-Advanced Pro, which is known as 4.5G. While in majority of the operators display 4.5G as 4G or 4G+, couple of operators has decided to become a bit innovative.

AT&T started by updating the network icons of some of their devices to 5GE, which is their way of saying 4.5G. E stands for Evolution. Or as some people joked, it stands for economy (or value) version, as opposed to premium version.


Brazilian operator Claro, decided to use the 4.5G icon but the 5 is much larger font compared to 4 (see the pic above). Some people call this as dishonest attempt by them.

I see a few people asking how can devices decide if they are on 4G or 4.5G. There is no standard procedure for this and is UE specific. One way is to look at RRC messages. If the system information messages contain optional IE's for 3GPP Release-13, then the network supports LTE-A Pro and if the device supports the features for LTE-A Pro, it can display 4.5G or 5GE, etc. Another approach is the optional IEs present in NAS Attach Accept message. As this comes slightly later in the registration process, the device displays 4G first and once the registration is complete, 4.5G. Note there is no requirement from standards point of  view about displaying of the network status indication icon up to 4G/4.5G.

To avoid such confusion in 5G, 3GPP submitted the first Liaison statement S2-175303. In this, 3GPP said:

With this number of System and Radio access options available, one or more new status icons are expected to appear on the User Interface of future (mobile) devices. A user should expect consistency across devices and networks as to what icons actually mean (i.e. what services might be expected when an icon is displayed).

While 3GPP specifications are not expected to define or discuss Service or RAT indicators in the User Interface themselves, 3GPP should provide the necessary tools in EPS and 5GS to enable them. It is therefore necessary to understand the conditions required for displaying these icons and with which granularity so we can identify what information ought to be available in/made available to the device.

SA2 understands that Status Icons related to 5G might be displayed for example on a UE display taking into account all or some combinations of these items (other items may exist):
- Access Restriction Data in subscription (with the potential exception of emergency access); 
- UE CN registration (i.e. is UE EPC- and/or 5GC-registered?);
- UE capabilities; 
- Network capabilities; 
- UE is camping on a cell of NG-RAN supporting NR only, E-UTRA only or, the ability to activate dual connectivity with another RAT (NR or E-UTRA);
- UE is camping on a cell of E-UTRAN (connected to EPC) with the ability to activate dual connectivity with NR as secondary cell;
- UE is in connected mode using NR, E-UTRA (in 5GS) or dual connectivity between E-UTRA and NR.

Given the above, SA2 would like to kindly ask for any feedback from GSMA FNW and NGMN on requirements and granularity for Service indicators and/or RAT indicators related to 5G.

GSMA responded in R2-1713952. 6 cases have been identified (see the first picture on top) :

The configurations consist of the following states and are as described in Table 1:

  1. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in IDLE state under or in RRC_connected state connected to E-UTRAN cell not supporting LTE-NR dual connectivity 
  2. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in IDLE state under or in RRC_Connected state connected to AND active on LTE for uplink and downlink on only E-UTRAN cell supporting LTE-NR dual connectivity and has not detected NR coverage (i.e. UE is not under NR coverage and/or not configured to make NR measurements)
  3. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in RRC_Connected state connected to E-UTRAN cell (supporting dual connectivity) and active on LTE for uplink and downlink only and has detected NR coverage (i.e. UE is under NR coverage and has been configured to make NR measurements) 
  4. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in IDLE state under E-UTRAN cell supporting LTE-NR dual connectivity and has detected NR coverage (i.e. UE is under NR coverage and has been configured to make NR measurements)
  5. EPS NR NSA (EN-DC) capable UE attached to EPC and currently in RRC_Connected state connected to E-UTRAN cell (supporting dual connectivity) and active on LTE and NR for uplink and/or downlink
  6. 5GS capable UE attached to 5GC and currently in IDLE state under or in RRC_Connected state connected to NG-RAN (eLTE (option 5 or 7) or NR (option 2 or 4) cell)

As there is no consensus on a single preferred configuration, it is desirable to make the display of 5G status icon in the UE configurable such that the display of 5G status icon can be made depending on operator preference. 

This proposal by GSMA was noted by 3GPP in R2-1803949.

RAN WG2 would like to inform GSMA and SA2 that, according to GSMA and SA2 recommendations (LSs R2-1713952 and S2-175270, respectively), RAN WG2 introduced 1 bit indication per PLMN called “upperLayerIndication” within LTE SIB 2. 

This bit enables the realization of the configurations based on UE states as per recommendation from GSMA (e.g. RRC_IDLE UE as for State 2 in LS R2-1713952 from GSMA)”. 

For idle mode UEs this is the only mechanism agreed. 

Actions: RAN WG2 would like to ask GSMA and SA2 to take the information above into account. 

Hopefully there will be less confusion when 5G is rolled out about the status icons. In the meantime we might see some more 4.5G icon innovations.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

5G Slicing Templates

We looked at slicing not long back in this post here, shared by ITU, from Huawei. The other day I read a discussion on how do you define slicing. Here is my definition:

Network slicing allows sharing of the physical network infrastructure resources into independent virtual networks thereby giving an illusion of multiple logically seperate end-to-end networks, each bound by their own SLAs, service quality and peformance guarantees to meet the desired set of requirements. While it is being officially defined for 5G, there is no reason that a proprietary implementation for earlier generations (2G, 3G or 4G)  or Wi-Fi cannot be created.

The picture above from a China Mobile presentation, explain the slice creation process nicely:

  1. Industry customers order network slices from operators and provide the network requirements, including network slice type, capacity, performance, and related coverage. Operators generate network slices according to their needs. Provide the network service requirement as General Service Template (GST).
  2. Transfer GST to NST (Network Slice Template)
  3. Trigger Network Instantiation Process
  4. Allocate the necessary resources and create the slice.
  5. Expose slice management information. Industry customers obtain management information of ordered slices through open interfaces (such as number of access users, etc.).

For each specific requirement, a slicing template is generated that is translated to an actual slice. Let's look at some examples:

Let's take an example of Power Grid. The picture below shows the scenario, requirement and the network slicing template.
As can be seen, the RAN requirement is timing and low latency while the QoS requirement in the core would be 5 ms latency with guaranteed 2 Mbps throughout. There are other requirements as well. The main transport requirement would be hard isolation.

The Network requirement for AR Gaming is high reliability, low latency and high density of devices. This translates to main RAN requirement of low jitter and latency; Transport requirement of Isolation between TICs (telecom integrated cloud) and finally Core QoS requirement of 80 ms latency and 2 Mbps guaranteed bit rate.


More resources on Network Slicing:


Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Can KaiOS accelerate the transition from 2G / 3G to 4G?


The GSMA Mobile Economy 2018 report forecasts that 2G will still be around in 2025 and the dominant technology will be 3G in Africa. GSMA Intelligence Global Mobile Trends highlighted similar numbers but North Africa was missing in that report. As you can see in the picture below, 3G devices will make up 62% of the total number of devices in Sub-Saharan Africa and 37% in MENA.

Similar information was provided by Navindran Naidoo, Executive, Network Planning & Design, MTN Group in TIP Summit 2017 and Babak Fouladi, Technology and Information System (Group CTIO) , MTN Group in TIP Summit 2018. In fact Babak had a slide that showed 3G devices would make up 61%  of total devices in 2025 in Africa. Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO, MTN Group said at AfricaCom 2018 that Africa lags 7 years behind the Western countries in mobile technologies. Though this may not be universally true, its nevertheless a fact in many areas of the Continent as can be seen from the stats.

In my blog post "2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds", I said operators in many developing countries that maybe forced to switch off a technology would rather switch 3G off as they have a big base of 2G users and 3G devices can always fall back on 2G.

So what are the main reasons so many users are still on 2G devices or feature phones? Here are some that I can think off the top of my head:
  • Hand-me-downs
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Given as a gift (generally because its cheap and affordable)
  • 2G has better coverage than 3G and 4G in many parts of the world
  • Second/Third device, used as backup for voice calls
  • Most importantly - battery can last for a long time
This last point is important for many people across different parts of the world. In many developing countries electricity is at a premium. Many villages don't have electricity and people have to take a trip to a market or another village to get their phones charged. This is an expensive process. (Interesting article on this here and here). In developed countries, many schools do not allow smartphones. In many cases, the kids have a smartphone switched off in their bag or left at home. For parents to keep in touch, these kids usually have a feature phone too. 

While all feature phones that were available until couple of years ago were 2G phones, things have been changing recently. In an earlier tweet I mentioned that Reliance Jio has become a world leader in feature phones:


I also wrote about Jio phone 2 launch, which is still selling very well. So what is common between Jio phones and Nokia 8110 4G, a.k.a. Banana phone

They both use a new mobile operating system called KaiOS. So what is KaiOS?

KaiOS originates from the Firefox OS open-source project which started in 2011 and has continued independently from Mozilla since 2016. Today, KaiOS is a web-based operating system that enables a new category of lite phones and other IoT devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience through leading apps and services. KaiOS is a US-based company with additional offices in France, Germany, Taiwan, India, Brazil, Hong Kong, and mainland China. You can find a list of KaiOS powered devices here. In fact you can see the specifications of all the initial devices using KaiOS here.

Here is a video that explains why we need KaiOS:



There are couple of really good blog posts by Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS:

There is so much information in both these articles that I will have to copy and paste the entire articles to do them justice. Instead, I want to embed the presentation that Sebastien delivered at AfricaCom below:



I like the term 'smart feature phone' to distinguish between the smartphones and old dumb feature phones.

Finally, it should be mentioned that some phone manufacturers are using older version of Android to create a feature phone. One such phone is "Reinvent iMi" that is being billed as 'Slimmest Smart 3G Feature Phone' in India. It uses Android 4.1. See details here. Would love to find out more about its battery life in practice.

My only small concern is about security of old Android OS. As Android is extensively used, new vulnerabilities keep getting discovered all the time. Google patches them in newer versions of the software or sometimes releases a separate patch. All updates to the Android OS stops after 3 years. This means that older versions of Android can be hacked quite easily. See here for example.

Anyway, feature phones or 'smart feature phones' are here to stay. Better on 4G than on 2G.

Friday, 22 June 2018

5G and IoT Security Update from ETSI Security Week 2018

ETSI Security Week 2018 (link) was held at ETSI's Headquarters in Sophia Antipolis, South of France last week. It covered wide variety of topics including 5G, IoT, Cybersecurity, Middlebox, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), etc. As 5G and IoT is of interest to the readers of this blog, I am providing links to the presentations so anyone interested can check them out at leisure.


Before we look at the presentations, what exactly was the point of looking at 5G Security? Here is an explanation from ETSI:

5G phase 1 specifications are now done, and the world is preparing for the arrival of 5G networks. A major design goal of 5G is a high degree of flexibility to better cater for specific needs of actors from outside the telecom sector (e.g. automotive industry, mission-critical organisations). During this workshop, we will review how well 5G networks can provide security for different trust models, security policies, and deployment scenarios – not least for ongoing threats in the IoT world. 5G provides higher flexibility than legacy networks by network slicing and virtualization of functions. The workshop aims to discuss how network slicing could help in fulfilling needs for different users of 5G networks.

5G will allow the use of different authentication methods. This raises many interesting questions. How are these authentication methods supported in devices via the new secure element defined in ETSI SCP, or vendor-specific concepts? How can mission-critical and low-cost IoT use cases coexist side-by-side on the same network?

The 5G promise of higher flexibility is also delivered via its Service-Based Architecture (SBA). SBA provides open 3rd party interfaces to support new business models which allow direct impact on network functions. Another consequence of SBA is a paradigm shift for inter-operator networks: modern APIs will replace legacy signaling protocols between networks. What are the relevant security measures to protect the SBA and all parties involved? What is the role of international carrier networks like IPX in 5G?

Event Objectives
The workshop intends to:

  • Gather different actors involved in the development of 5G, not only telecom, and discuss together how all their views have shaped phase 1 of 5G, to understand how security requirements were met, and what challenges remain;
  • Discuss slicing as a means to implement separate security policies and compartments for independent tenants on the same infrastructure;
  • Give an update of what is happening in 3GPP 5G security;
  • Explain to IoT players what 5G security can (and cannot) do for them, including risks and opportunities related to alternative access credentials;
  • Understand stakeholders' (PMNs, carriers, GSMA, vendors) needs to make SBA both secure and successful. How can SBA tackle existing issues in interconnect networks like fraud, tracking, privacy breaches;
  • Allow vendors to present interesting proposals for open security questions in 5G: secure credential store, firewalling SBA's RESTful APIs;
  • Debate about hot topics such as: IoT security, Slicing security, Privacy, Secure storage and processing and Security of the interconnection network.


So here are the relevant presentations:

Session 1: Input to 5G: Views from Different Stakeholders
Session Chair: Bengt Sahlin, Ericsson

Hardening a Mission Critical Service Using 5G, Peter Haigh, NCSC

Security in the Automotive Electronics Area, Alexios Lekidis, SecurityMatters

Integrating the SIM (iUICC), Adrian Escott, QUALCOMM

Smart Secure Platform, Klaus Vedder, Giesecke & Devrient, ETSI SCP Chairman

Network Slicing, Anne-Marie Praden, Gemalto

Don't build on Sand: Validating the Security Requirements of NFV Infrastructure to Confidently Run Slices, Nicolas Thomas, Fortinet

5G Enhancements to Non-3GPP Access Security, Andreas Kunz, Lenovo

Security and Privacy of IoT in 5G, Marcus Wong, Huawei Technologies

ITU-T activities and Action Plan on 5G Security, Yang Xiaoya, ITU-T SG17

Wrap up: 5G Overview from 3GPP SA3 Perspective and What is There to Be Done for Phase 2, Sander Kievit, TNO


Session 2: Security in 5G Inter-Network Signalling
Session Chair: Stefan Schroeder, T-Systems

Presentation on SBA: Introduction of the Topic and Current Status in SA3, Stefan Schroeder, T-Systems

5G Inter-PLMN Security: The Trade-off Between Security and the Existing IPX Business Model, Ewout Pronk, KPN on behalf of GSMA Diameter End to End Security Subgroup

Secure Interworking Between Networks in 5G Service Based Architecture, Silke Holtmanns, Nokia Bell Labs

Security Best Practises using RESTful APIs, Sven Walther, CA Technologies

Identifying and Managing the Issues around 5G Interconnect Security, Stephen Buck, Evolved Intelligence

Zero Trust Security Posture in 5G Architecture, Galina Pildush, Palo Alto Networks (Missing)


Session 1 & 2 Workshop Wrap up: 5G Phase 1 Conclusions and Outlook Towards Phase 2 - Stefan Schroeder, T-Systems and Bengt Sahlin, Ericsson


Session 5: Benefits and Challenges of 5G and IoT From a Security Perspective
Session Chair: Arthur van der Wees, Arthur's Legal

Setting the Scene, Franck Boissière, European Commission

ENISA's View on Security Implications of IoT and 5G, Apostolos Malatras, ENISA

Smart City Aspects, Bram Reinders, Institute for Future of Living

The Network Operators Perspective on IoT Security, Ian Smith, GSMA


Related Links: