Showing posts with label Rollouts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rollouts. Show all posts

Monday, 12 April 2010

GSA report on Evolution to LTE


Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) published a report on "Evolution to LTE" which is available on their website here to download.

The report starts with the need for LTE and emphasises its importance with regards to the Mobile Broadband take off. It goes on to encourage the operators to embrace LTE and lists the operators that have committed to LTE roll out.

As of April 2010:
  • 64 networks in 31 countries have committed to LTE network rollout.
  • Upto 22 LTE networks would be in service end of 2010
  • 39 or more LTE networks will be in service end of 2012
Spectrum is another area of focus of this report. Along with 2.6GHz, 700MHz will probably be used in Americas, New Zealand and India. 800 MHz and 900 MHz will probably be available and used in Europe.

Finally with LTE being rolled out, it would be easy to upgrade to LTE-Advanced when the standards are finalised in Release-10.

For people interested in this report and topics, the following related presentations are available from GSA:

Monday, 29 March 2010

Huawei's "Two Cloud" solution for Mobile Broadband


In case you are a regular and noticed my recycled image for this post then let me tell you that the post is about recycled ideas ;)

It is a well known fact that I have mentioned at various places in the blog as well that the higher the frequencies, the smaller the cell radius. Since we know that the common deployment frequencies for LTE would be around 2.6GHz then the signal penetration through walls may not be great.

As a result we will be forced to use Hierarchical cells that would allow load balancing and also higher speeds as the smaller cell sizes translate to fewer users and interference.

The following is from Huawei's website:

Based on our roadmap of early success in mobile and fixed broadband network construction, Huawei now responds to the mobile broadband dilemma facing global operators with the unique "Two Clouds" solution.

Employing optimal topologies for access networks providing DSL-level bandwidth for users across the board, the two clouds work together to deliver the most cost-effective means of enhancing user experiences.

  • A high speed cloud, consisting of Pico and AP BTSs, is typically deployed in densely-populated urban areas to deliver an average bandwidth of 2 Mb/s.
  • A continuous cloud of macro BTSs is applied for wide coverage delivering a bandwidth of 256 to 512 kb/s.

Huawei's "Two Clouds" model allows operators to profitably deploy mobile broadband networks while utilizing an intelligent site management framework to automatically adjust bandwidth and reducing construction, operation, and maintenance costs.

Incorporating this framework, flexible network mapping permits manageable, controllable mobile broadband networks, ensuring continuous network coverage in various scenarios, and provides users with inexpensive, quality broadband services. Very convincingly, Huawei's "Two Clouds" concept can reduce the cost per bit by as much as 70%.


One can guess that Self Organizing Networks would play important part in realising this in practice.

Story Source: Think Femtocell

Friday, 29 January 2010

HSPA+ rollout updates, Jan 2010

It has been predicted that the growth of HSPA+ broadband across Europe is set to soar with the total number of subscribers set to nearly double across Europe in 2011.

A new report has predicted that by 2011 the growth of HSPA+ broadband across key European markets will soar, and could almost double compared to 2009. The number of subscribers is set to soar from twenty two million in 2009 to around forty three million in 2011. The report was released by CCS Insight.

According to the report HSPA+ broadband will be a major factor in seeing growth of one hundred percent in the to five major European markets. The report goes on to state that the European mobile broadband market will enjoy seeing both subscriber and revenue numbers double by 2011. Revenues are set to increase from around six billion Euros in 2009 to around eleven billion Euros in 2011.

Michael O’Hara, chief marketing officer at the GSMA, said: “It is clear from this report that with the right network investment, European mobile network operators will see significant growth in mobile broadband adoption in the next two years. HSPA technology will drive this rapid uptake across Europe as mobile operators and their customers continue to benefit from its expanding, vibrant and competitive ecosystem.”


HSPA+ was generally the most efficient way of upgrading use of bandwidth already in use and was likely to dominate in the short term at least, with an estimated 1.4 billion subscribers worldwide by 2013, around ten times the estimated take-up of LTE.

HSPA+ release 7, which became available last year, uses MIMO technology like that in 11n Wifi to help take the peak downlink throughput to 28Mbps, with 11Mbps on the uplink. Release 8, for which chipsets will become available this year, aggregates two carrier signals to bring peak data rates to 42Mbps on the downlink.

Release 9 will put two MIMO streams on each of two 5MHz carriers, aggregated to produce a 10MHz data pipe delivering 84Mbps on the downlink; the uplink uses simple aggregation to 23Mbps. A projected Release 10 would bring the peak downlink speed to 168Mbps, though this would require 20MHz carriers only available in the 2.5GHz and 2.6GHz bands.

Novatel Wireless, a developer of wireless data cards and other devices, said that it has added support for dual-carrier HSPA+ networks. The firm said it is using Qualcomm's MDM8220 chipset for the support, and will launch commercial devices in the second half of 2010 based on the chipset. Novatel said the new support will add more advanced data capability and other features to its offerings. Dual Carrier HSPA+ networks are expected to provide higher throughput to wireless data devices, and also helps address better service for cell phone users.

The new modem can receive data at up to 42M bps (bits per second) in compatible 3G networks. To increase the theoretical maximum download speed of the modem from 21M bps to 42M bps, Novatel uses two carrier frequencies instead of the usual one, a technique called dual-carrier. But it will only deliver the higher speed on networks that also support the technique.

Users can expect peak speeds at up to 30M bps, according to Hans Beijner, marketing manager for radio products at Ericsson.Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner, is a more pessimistic, saying increased traffic on the networks could negatively impact speeds. "I think it will be difficult to get above 20M bps," he said.

Sixty-six operators have said they plan to use HSPA Evolution, and so far 37 networks have been commercially launched, according to statistics from the Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA).

However, the version of HSPA Evolution that supports 42M bps is still very much in its infancy. Last week, mobile operator 3 Scandinavia announced plans to launch services when modems become available. In December, representatives from Vodafone and the Australian operator Telstra visited Ericsson to Stockholm to view a demonstration, but neither operator has so far announced plans to launch commercial services.

Ericsson and 3 Scandinavia have unveiled plans to roll-out a worlds-first 84Mbps HSPA+ wireless network. The initial rollout will cover Denmark and four Swedish cities. HSPA+ networks that currently operate in Canada, for example, offer speeds of up to 21Mbps depending on conditions. In the United States, T-Mobile recently announced a similar planned network.

Real-world tests of the 21Mbps networks show the services achieving around 7Mbps speed. If a similar performance could be applied to the new Ericsson/3 network, it could result in speeds of roughly 28Mbps at realistic distances and network load.

and 3 will also deploy 900MHz 3G networks in Sweden in a bid to boost coverage in remote areas, as existing higher frequency networks have left some users with poor performance.
The high-speed services will hit Denmark and areas of Sweden this winter if all goes to plan.

China Unicom is putting the finishing touch on the tests on its HSPA+ networks in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhuhai, which were kicked off in October 2009 by partnering with its three major suppliers Huawei Technologies, ZTE, and Ericsson.

HSPA+ is the next generation technology for China Unicom's WCDMA 3G service. HSPA+, also known as Evolved High-Speed Packet Access, is a wireless broadband standard defined in 3GPP release 7. The HSPA+ network claims with a transmission speed of 21Mbps, 1.5 times faster than its current 3G network.

The outdoor average speed of the networks built up by Ericsson and Huawei reach up to 16.5Mbps and 18.5Mbps on the downlink, 50% higher than that of the existing HSPA network. That means you can download a song within two or three seconds.

Cell C, South Africa, has signed a US$378m deal with the Chinese telecom equipment provider ZTE Corporation. Cell C would ever lead the industry as far as network infrastructure is concerned but it is a fact that Cell C will be the first South African operator to roll out HSPA+ technologies incorporating download speeds of up to 21Mbit/s – three times faster than anything currently available.

According to Cell C an important factor in the decision to appoint ZTE is its ability to offer 4G services using Cell C’s 900MHz frequency band which offers wider and deeper coverage than existing 2100 MHz networks, enabling cost effective deployment to rural as well as metropolitan areas.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Technologies and Standards for TD-SCDMA Evolutions to IMT-Advanced

Picture Source: http://www.itu.int/dms_pub/itu-t/oth/21/05/T21050000010003PDFE.pdf

This is a summary of a paper from IEEE Communications Magazine, Dec 2009 issue titled "Technologies and Standards for TD-SCDMA Evolutions to IMT-Advanced" by Mugen Peng and Wenbo Wang of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications with my own comments and understanding.

As I have blogged about in the past that China Mobile has launched TD-SCDMA network in China and the main focus to to iron out the basic problems before moving onto the evolved TD-SCDMA network. Couple of device manufacturers have already started working on the TD-HSPA devices. Couple of months back, 3G Americas published a whitepaper giving overview and emphasising the advantages of TDD flavour of LTE as compared to FDD. The next milestone is the IMT-Advanced that is under discussion at the moment and China has already proposed TD-LTE-Advanced which would be compatible with the TD-SCDMA technology.

For anyone who does not know the difference between TDD, FDD and TD-SCDMA please see this blog.

The TD-SCDMA technology has been standardised quite a while back but the rollout has been slow. The commercial TD-SCDMA network was rolled out in 2009 and more and more device manufacturers are getting interested in the technology. This could be due to the fact that China Mobile has a customer base of over 500 million subscribers. As of July 2009 over 100 device manufacturers were working on TD-SCDMA technology.

The big problem with TD-SCDMA (as in the case of R99 3G) is that the practical data rate is 350kbps max. This can definitely not provide a broadband experience. To increase the data rates there are two different approaches. First is the Short Term Evolution (STE) and the other is Long Term Evolution (LTE).

The first phase of evolution as can be seen in the picture above is the TD-STE. This consists of single carrier and multi-carrier TD-HSDPA/TD-HSUPA (TD-HSPA), TD-MBMS and TD-HSPA+.

The LTE part is known as TD-LTE. There is a definite evolution path specified from TD-SCDMA to TD-LTE and hence TD-LTE is widely supported by the TD-SCDMA technology device manufacturers and operators. The target of TD-LTE is to enhance the capabilities of coverage, service provision, and mobility support of TD-SCDMA. To save investment and make full use of the network infrastructure available, the design of TD-LTE takes into account the features of TD-SCDMA, and keeps TD-LTE backward compatible with TD-SCDMA and TD-STE systems to ensure smooth migration.

The final phase of evolution is the 4G technology or IMT-Advanced and the TD-SCDMA candidate for TD-LTE+ is TD-LTE-Advanced. Some mature techniques related to the TD-SCDMA characteristics, such as beamforming (BF), dynamic channel allocation, and uplink synchronization, will be creatively incorporated in the TD-LTE+ system.

Some academic proposals were also made like the one available here on the future evolution of TD-SCDMA but they lacked the industry requirements and are just useful for theoretical research.

The standards of TD-SCDMA and its evolution systems are supervised by 3GPP in Europe and by CCSA (Chinese Cellular Standards Association) in China. In March 2001 3GPP fulfilled TD-SCDMA low chip rate (LCR) standardization in Release 4 (R4). The improved R4 and Release 5 (R5) specifications have added some promising functions including HSDPA, synchronization procedures, terminal location (angle of arrival [AOA]-aided location), and so on.

When the industry standardizations supervised by CCSA are focusing on the integration of R4 and R5, the N-frequency TD-SCDMA and the extension of HSDPA from single- to multicarrier are presented. Meanwhile, some networking techniques, such as N-frequency, polarized smart antenna, and a new networking configuration with baseband unit plus remote radio unit (BBU+RRU), are present in the commercial application of TD-SCDMA.

TD-SCDMA STE

For the first evolution phase of TD-SCDMA, three alternative solutions are considered. The first one is compatible with WCDMA STE, which is based on HSDPA/HSUPA technology. The second is to provide MBMS service via the compatible multicast broadcast single-frequency network (MBSFN) technique or the new union time-slot network (UTN) technique. The last is HSPA+ to achieve similar performance as LTE.

On a single carrier, TD-HSDPA can reach a peak rate of 2.8 Mb/s for each carrier when the
ratio of upstream and downstream time slots is 1:5. The theoretical peak transmission rate of a three-carrier HSDPA system with 16-quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) is up to 8.4 Mb/s.

Single-carrier TD-HSUPA can achieve different throughput rates if the configurations and parameters are varied, including the number of occupied time slots, the modulation, and the transport block size in bytes. Considering the complexity of a terminal with several carriers in TD-HSUPA, multicarrier is configured in the Node B, while only one carrier is employed in the terminal.

In Rel-7 based TD-HSPA+, In order to match the performance of orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (OFDMA)-based TD-LTE systems, some advanced techniques are utilized, such as multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO), polarized BF, higher modulation and coding schemes (64-QAM is available), adaptive fast scheduling, multicarrier techniques, and so on. Theoretically, 64-QAM can improve performance by a factor of 1.5 compared to the current 16-QAM; for single-carrier the peak rate reaches 4.2 Mb/s, and three-carrier up to 12.6 Mb/s.

For the MIMO technique, double transmit antenna array (D-TxAA), based on the pre-coding method at the transmitter, has been employed in frequency-division duplex (FDD)-HSPA+ systems, while selective per antenna rate control (S-PARC), motivated by the Shannon capacity limit for an open loop MIMO link, has been applied in TD-HSPA+ systems.

TD-SCDMA LTE

The TD-SCDMA LTE program was kicked off in November 2004, and the LTE demand report was approved in June 2005. The LTE specified for TD_SCDMA evolution is named TD-LTE.

LTE systems are supposed to work in both FDD and TDD modes. LTE TDD and FDD modes have been greatly harmonized in the sense that both modes share the same underlying framework, including radio access schemes OFDMA in downlink and SC-FDMA in uplink, basic subframe formats, configuration protocols, and so on.

TD-LTE trials have already started last year with some positive results.

TD-SCDMA LTE+

IMT-Advanced can be regarded as a B3G/4G standard, and the current TD-SCDMA standard migrating to IMT-Advanced can be regarded as a thorough revolution. TD-LTE advanced (TD-LTE+) is a good match with the TD-SCDMA revolution to IMT-Advanced.

It is predicted that the future TD-SCDMA revolution technology will support data rates up to approximately 100 Mb/s for high mobility and up to approximately 1 Gb/s for low mobility such as nomadic/local wireless access.

Recently, some advanced techniques have been presented for TD-LTE+ in China, ranging from the system architecture to the radio processing techniques, such as multi-user (MU)-BF, wireless relaying, and carrier aggregation (CA).

For MU-BF see the paper proposed by Huawei, CHina Mobile and CATT here (http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/WG1_RL1/TSGR1_55b/Docs/R1-090133.zip).

For Wireless Relaying see the ZTE paper here (http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/WG1_RL1/TSGR1_56b/Docs/R1-091423.zip).

To achieve higher performance and target peak data rates, LTE+ systems should support bandwidth greater than 20 MHz (e.g., up to 100 MHz). Consequently, the requirements for TD-LTE+ include support for larger transmission bandwidths than in TD-LTE. Moreover, there should be backward compatibility so that a TD-LTE user can work in TD-LTE+ networks. CA is a concept that can provide bandwidth scalability while maintaining backward compatibility with TD-LTE through any of the constituent carriers, where multiple component carriers are aggregated to the desired TD-LTE+ system bandwidth. A TD-LTE R8 terminal can receive one of these component carriers, while an TD-LTE+ terminal can simultaneously access multiple component carriers. Compared to other approaches, CA does not require extensive changes to the TD-LTE physical layer structure and simplifies reuse of existing implementations. For more on Carrier Aggregation see CATT, LGE and Motorola paper here (http://www.3gpp.org/ftp/tsg_ran/WG1_RL1/TSGR1_56b/Docs/R1-091655.zip).

Finally, there are some interesting developments happening in the TD-SCDMA market with bigger players getting interested. Once a critical mass is reached in the number of subscribers as well as the manufacturers I wouldnt be surprised if this technology is exported beyond the Chinese borders. With clear and defined evolution path this could be a win-win situation for everyone.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Teliasonera reaches a milestone with first commercial LTE Networks

TeliaSonera has rolled out commercial LTE Networks in Stockholm, Sweden and Oslo, Norway. The Swedish network is supplied by Ericsson and the Norway one by Huawei. At the moment only Samsung Dongles are available for browsing the web.

Read the press release here.

By the way, its a bit shameful that the operator wants to market itself and its using the term 4G for LTE as it probably sounds more sexy :) I blogged couple of years back and it still applies that LTE is 3.9G and IMT-Advanced/LTE-Advanced is 4G.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Network Operator commitments to LTE as of Oct. 2009



Operators everywhere are talking up LTE as the future, but few have put a stake in the ground with specific timeframes. Even fewer have selected LTE vendors for their endeavors. Lack of spectrum, a shaky economy and the belief that existing networks still have some mileage are contributing to the not-so-solid commitments. Nonetheless, there are plenty of network trials to go around.

Fierce Broadband Wireless has compiled list of operators' LTE plans based on those companies that have made specific intentions around LTE. While South Korean operators KT Freetel and SK Telecom haven't made public specific dates regarding their commercial launch plans, they have indicated their intentions to invest in LTE by 2010. Zain in Bahrain hasn't announced a commercial launch date yet either, but has tapped Nokia Siemens Networks as its LTE vendor.

See the complete table of rollouts here.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance

Earlier, I have blogged about LTE femtocells being starting point of LTE and how LTE can be better technology than HSPA. In this months IEEE Communications magazine, there is a series of articles on Femtocells. I will try and cover some of these (unless I wander off in some other direction). The first one is titled 'OFDMA Femtocells: A Roadmap on Interference Avoidance'. At the end of this post, I have provided links to the research and the actual paper (in a legal way ;) so if you are not interested in the post and want to directly jump on the actual paper see the end of this post.

There are all kinds of statistics about the number of Femtocells worldwide. There could be upto 70million by 2012. If this happens the big problem would be the interference between Macro and Femtocells and also between Femtos. OFDMA (used in LTE and WiMAX both) Femtocells can handle the interference better than CDMA (UMTS and CDMA2000) Femtocells due to its Intracell interference avoiding properties and robustness to multipath.

So what are the main problems that the operators will face when deploying femtocells? Lets look at some of them:

  • Access method: Three different approaches exist namely, Open access, Closed access and Hybrid access which is a mix of both of them. The first two approach has some problems and I have suggested a solution before ;) but the best solution may be to go for Hybrid approach where limited connectivity is available to non-subscribers of the femto.
  • Time Synchronisation is another important aspect of OFDMA Femtos. To minimise multi-access interference and for successful handovers, synchronisation between all the Femtos and between Femto and Macro is a must. This should be acheived without any complicated hardware so as to keep the cost down.
  • Physical Cell Idendities (PCI) could be a problem because of limited numbers
  • Neighbouring cell list, which is restricted to 32 in LTE, could be a problem if too many Femtos are around
  • Handovers could also be a problem if the UE keeps jumping between Femtos and macro. One solution could be the use of HCS.




Interference analysis will definitelty play an important part in the rollouts. If not properly managed, could result in dead zones within Macro. Power control Algorithms and Radio Resource Management strategy will help but effective Spectrum allocation technique is needed as well. The diagram above shows different approaches for subchannel allocation in OFDMA femtocells.


The Femtocells would need to be self-configurable and self-optimising. I tried to explain the SON concept earlier which is similar. Self-configuration comes into picture when the Femto is switched on. Once the parameters are adjusted then Self-Optimisation tries to optimise these defaults into something better and more suited to the current environment. Sensing of the environment plays an important part in this. The diagram above shows different approaches being used by different Femtocells. The cheapest approach would ofcourse be the measurement report approach where the phone is made to report the environment. The only problem being that whichever phone was used (automatically selected) will have considerable amount of its battery power used up :)

The team behind this IEEE paper has been doing some excellent research work in the field of femtocells.

There is a book that is under publication and will be available early next year. At the same time if it interests you, you can look at some of their publications including the IEEE one that has been quoted here. Here are all the necessary links:

Hope someone finds all this info useful :)

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

LTE Subscribers forecast and market movements



A report last year mentioned that the number of LTE subscribers by 2013 will be 85 million but a new report from research firm Forward Concepts, which looks at trends including 3G evolution and handset shipment growth, claims that the number of LTE users will be 56 million by 2013.

According to the report, HSPA+ will begin to displace W-CDMA and HSDPA technologies, and the first LTE devices to hit the market in 2010 will be data cards and dongles.

The Forward Concepts study also takes a look at some other trends in the industry. The firm predicts that global handset shipments will be down this year, and forecasts a 4.4 percent contraction. The report predicts a resurgence in unit shipments in 2010, however, and calls for a 12.8 percent growth in shipments. The one bright spot for 2009 is smartphones: Forward Concepts predicts a 25 percent jump in smartphone sales.

LCD display technology also will come under pressure from other technologies, including OLED, ePaper, Qualcomm's Mirasol and Liquavista, according to the report. The market for these "post-LCD" displays will grow to over $3 billion in 2013, the report said.

On the operator front, NTT DoCoMo is sticking to its plan to be a first stage deployer, with first roll-out in 2010, while work has begun on outdoor testing of the TD-LTE technology that all three Chinese carriers will use.

DoCoMo chief Ryuji Yamada told the London Financial Times that the cellco has not gone cool on its 2010 timescale. The firm needs to enable new services to respond to UQ's aggressive launch of mobile broadband offerings based on WiMAX, and to stay ahead of established rivals KDDI and Softbank, and the disruptive and data-driven newcomer eMobile. Yamada said DoCoMo wants to be "in the leading group in this technology", and that he sees a move to LTE as a way to be fully compatible with global standards, which will improve device economics. In 3G, DoCoMo moved so early that it deployed a pre-standard implementation of W-CDMA, FOMA. This is now used by 91% of its base, with over 50m subscribers after almost eight years in commercial service, but it has two downsides that will drive DoCoMo to LTE early - over-dependence on Japanese handset makers, with the high costs of slightly off-standard devices; and networks that are older than those of newer cellcos and in areas are becoming obsolete.

The Chinese operators have similar dilemmas, especially China Mobile, which is stuck with an off-standard 3G technology, TD-SCDMA, and wants to move quickly to a platform that brings global economies of scale and allows it to be more cutting edge in services. While it may have virtually no opportunity to get ROI on its 3G spend, it aims also to be in the first group of LTE deployers, though it will be using the TDD strain of the standard.

Earlier this year, it took over the trial sites in Spain that had previously been used by Vodafone and Verizon Wireless for FDD-LTE, and is now reported to be moving this initial test program to China and towards more real world outdoor trials. Sources say these outdoor tests could also involve other Chinese operators, and will involve six vendors working in the Beijing area. Surprisingly, if the insiders are right, these vendors do not include Motorola, which has been the main supplier in the Spanish project, and claims it has a major headstart in TD-LTE because of its extensive experience with TDD mobile broadband, using WiMAX. But the new Chinese tests involve four homegrown vendors (Huawei, ZTE, Datang and Potevio, the latter a Nokia venture) plus Ericsson and Nokia Siemens. The inclusion of more CDMA-oriented suppliers, notably Motorola and Alcatel-Lucent, is likely to follow when CDMA carrier China Telecom starts its own TD-LTE tests.

The testing process determined by the TD-LTE Working Group has three stages - indoor, outdoor and large-scale outdoor testing, the last of these involving two or three major cities with at least 100 base stations each. The local vendors have already been working on indoor testing in China since the start of the year.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

UK: Ofcom releases 3G coverage maps

Ofcom has just released (or as The Register puts it; found under the sofa) 3G coverage maps for UK. Its useful for people who dont live in big towns but planning to take out contracts on dongles/data services. They can now quickly check which operator to go for.

These 3G coverage maps by mobile operator were prepared in January 2009. They represent the area where we have assessed the mobile operators met a minimum coverage threshold set by Ofcom (see technical notes below). The shaded areas on the maps indicate areas where customers have the possibility of making and receiving a call outside over a 3G network (but with no guarantee of being able to do so). They do not indicate areas where customers are able to access higher data rate services.

All operators produce their own coverage indicators on their websites which are likely to provide more reliable guidance to network availability in any given area. The accuracy and detail of the maps are not to the same level as the mobile operators publish. These maps show UK-wide general coverage and are not suitable for zooming in to see specific locations i.e. a particular house or street. Also they are not suitable for assessing the quality or depth of coverage within the indicated areas (e.g. different operators may be able to offer better or worse data rate services or support a smaller or greater number of users).

You can see the PDF of the coverage maps here.

Monday, 6 July 2009

LTE activity gathering pace


Wireless internet access is going to be a better, richer experience than fixed link access Professor Michael Walker, group R&D director at Vodafone told Wireless 2.0 conference in Bristol, organised by Silicon South-West.

“People think wireless can’t compete with fixed link, but it can”, said Walker, pointing out that the 100Mbit/s of FTTH is the same as the theoretical maximum throughput of LTE.

“LTE capacity on 20MHz is an order of magnitude higher than HSPA,” said Walker. He said that, “in the first real field trials,” average downlink speeds of 15Mbit/s, with 4.5 spectral efficiency, were achieved. “Wimax takes three times more spectrum”, he said.

“We decided with LTE that we would make sure the technology works before we buy spectrum,” said Walker.

To that end, Vodafone has been working with China Mobile and Verizon to make sure LTE has compatible standards.

Walker regards talk of a killer app as silly for LTE as it was for 3G. “LTE is just about access,” he said.

He predicted the gradual relative demise of the person-to-person phone calls, referencing data that showed 11 times more wireless traffic is being generated by community chatting than by person-to-person calls.

Ericsson, one of the world’s leading suppliers of mobile phones and related network solutions, has warned that it could be 2012 before the first true next generation Mobile Broadband networks gain a good foothold in the UK. The deployment of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology (aka - 4G), which could deliver download speeds of 150 to 1000Mbps, is being hampered by problems with releasing the needed 900Mhz spectrum.

Presently both O2 and Vodafone own some of the older 2G (900MHz) spectrum, which Ofcom is seeking to have redistributed to rival operators ( Orange , T-Mobile and Three (3) ). This could then be converted for use by 3G/4G voice and Mobile Broadband technologies, such as HSPA and LTE .
Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN), although providing WiMAX solutions for Taiwan operators, plans to launch commercialized LTE (Long Term Evolution) solutions in 2010, Mike Wang, NSN's general manager for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

NSN has already received LTE solution orders from Japan-based NTT DoCoMo, which is expected to start offering LTE-based services in 2010, Wang stated.

In addition, NSN has also landed orders for the installment of LTE trial networks for T-Mobile and Singapore-based service provider Mobile One, he added.

LTE-enabled chipsets are expected to hit the market starting in the second half of 2009, followed by LTE USB modems and network cards in 2010 and other LTE CPE such as handsets, PDAs, tablet PCs in 2012, Wang predicted.

Japan's DoCoMo is reported to be planning an investment of ¥ 343 billion (US$3.4 billion) for the investment, while KDDI and Softbank Mobile have budgeted ¥ 515 billion and ¥207.3 billion, respectively. According to the Nikkei newspaper, among the four, LTE services are forecast to attract around 36 million subscribers, with DoCoMo projecting 17.74 million LTE customers.
The total investment will top ¥1 trillion (US$10 billion)

DoCoMo, KDDI and Softbank Mobile expect roughly 30% of their existing customers to switch to 3.9G services. DoCoMo is also reported to be expecting to upgrade or deploy some 20,000 LTE enabled base stations by 2014. The network should cover 50% of the population and commercial services will start in 2010.

LTE provides downlink peak rates of at least 100Mbit/s, 50 Mbit/s in the uplink and RAN round-trip times of less than 10ms. Fujitsu recently announced that, in collaboration with NTT DoCoMo, they had successfully completed field testing for LTE, using 4x4 MIMO technology, which resulted in data transmission speeds in the range of 120 Mbps (using 10 MHz bandwidth) in Sapporo's urban environment.

NTT DOCOMO has selected Alcatel-Lucent' Ethernet transmission solution to provide the backhaul network of its Long Term Evolution (LTE) service. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Alcatel-Lucent said its packet optical gear will provide NTT DOCOMO with cost-effective and flexible Ethernet-based aggregation and transport from the base stations to the core network. Specifically, the Alcatel-Lucent solution, based on the 1850 Transport Service Switch (TSS) and its universal switching technology, will provide multipoint Ethernet connections between cell sites supported by strong operations, administration and maintenance capabilities, as well as carrier-class protection and network management.

China Mobile Ltd., recognizing that future growth of its 3G services is not yet certain, is looking to secure its future with a nearly parallel development of Long Term Evolution (LTE) capabilities, according to its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently.

High on the list of limitations TD-SCDMA imposes are the availability, functionality, and price of terminals, and the support for international roaming. The latter particularly impacts China Mobile's high-end and business customers.

China Mobile remains committed to TD-SCDMA, but at the same time it's going all out to develop converged time division duplex (TDD) and frequency division duplex (FDD) products for LTE, the proto-4G wireless technology set to be deployed by mobile operators worldwide.
Developing a simultaneous LTE strategy will enable China Mobile to limit the time it is dependent on TD-SCDMA, and also help it counter the constraints it's currently experiencing as a result of the TD-SCDMA sector's limited ecosystem.

The Chinese vendors have labored too long under the market perception that they deliver low cost equipment, but can't do cutting edge. To fight this image and enhance their position among tier one carriers, Huawei and ZTE are throwing everything - including their huge credit lines for vendor financing - at gaining early LTE trials, which puts them in the spotlight even if commercial roll-outs are often two years or more away. The latest points go to ZTE, which has won field trial contracts with Telefónica in Spain and CSL in Hong Kong.

This comes shortly after Huawei highlighted its LTE deal with Netcom of Norway, and the Chinese duo are, early market estimates indicate, coming close to Ericsson in terms of their penetration of stage one LTE trials - and ahead of Alcatel-Lucent and Nokia Siemens.

Telefónica confirmed reports by Light Reading that ZTE's trial will take place in the third quarter. While success at the Spanish firm may not translate into meaningful revenue any time soon (and Ericsson has already conducted LTE trials with Telefónica too), it will still be a major boost for the vendor. It has not been as successful in getting tier one western carrier deals as its compatriot - although its overall wireless equipment market share grew at a similar rate to that of Huawei in the past 12 months, its base is far more concentrated on the lower margin developing markets.

By contrast with Telefónica, CSL is already a major customer for ZTE and one of the first commercial users of its software defined base station platform, which it is currently rolling out in an IP-based HSPA+ network across Hong Kong. In a recent interview with Telecoms.com, Tarek Robbiati, CEO of the Telstra subsidiary, said: "Further consolidation will come in the next three to five years. In the end there will be only three [infrastructure vendors] left, and two of them will be Chinese. The European vendors are just too slow."

With LTE firmly at the top of the hype curve in 2009, WiMAX is somewhat overshadowed in the headlines, but did make a strong impression at last week's CommunicAsia show in Singapore, highlighting how the technology has gained a higher profile in Asia than in Europe - because of the importance of the Taiwanese ODMs and vendors like Samsung, as well as a large number of deployments in countries like Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Taiwan.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Telenor Sweden's LTE Misinformation

It took a long time for the Network operators to educate people about what 3G (and HSDPA to some extent) is. As a result Telenor has taken the bold step in educating the users in advance about how LTE (or 4G?) will be beneficial to everyone. Look at their website photos below.





What they are showing is that with 3G (HSPA) the maximum download speed is 7.2Mbps but with LTE one can get 150Mbps, hurray! A CD that takes 3 mins on DSL will now be downloaded in just 1 min!

As most engineers would know very well that Peak rates quoted for a technology is far from the real speeds. For HSDPA, with the network supporting 3.6Mbps DL, I generally get between 300Kbps to 1Mbps (early morning). With LTE, maybe this will increase but I am not expecting to see more than 10Mbps. The average rates might be still lower.

Setting wrong expectations can lead to increase in sales in short term but will definitely be harmful in the long run. I wont be surprised if they get sued in future for mis-advertisement :)

Check the Telenor's website out here.


Thanks to Agilent guys who pointed this out at the LTE World Summit.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

LTE Rollout Commitments as of May 2009

When we hear about LTE Rollouts, we think of Verizon wireless because it plans to rollout the network end of 2009. According to report by 3G Americas, there are 120 operators who have committed to LTE rollouts. You can check the complete list here.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

AT&T to do HSPA+ enhancement before adopting LTE


Before AT&T implements LTE, it plans another HSPA upgrade that will bring 3G capacity up to 7.2 Mb/s, says Telephony Magazine, using software enhancements to squeeze one last boost in bandwidth from its current high-speed packet access (HSPA) network. That will boost speeds from 3.6 megabits per second to 7.2 Mb/s, said Scott McElroy, AT&T Mobility vice president of technology.

In March AT&T announced plans to invest between US$17 billion and US$18 billion this year to, “extend and enhance wireless and wired broadband networks to provide more coverage, speed and capacity.”

AT&T currently has the enhanced networks running in two test markets but plans to extend those capabilities to its entire network, according to Telephony. Later this year, AT&T plans to start migrating its 3G networks to evolved-HSPA (or HSPA+), which would triple peak speeds.

AT&T, previously known as Cingular, launched its HSDPA network in 2005, supporting 1.8 Mb/s, but boosted that capacity to 3.6 Mb/s by 2008. Most of the laptop cards and smartphones AT&T sells, including the iPhone, have the silicon necessary to access that additional capacity. AT&T is now in the process of field certifying 7.2-Mb/s devices on its two test networks, McElroy said.

AT&T will most likely skip the final HSPA iteration of 14.4 Mbps, said McElroy, since HSPA+ is now ready for prime time. Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (also known as: HSPA Evolution, HSPA+, I-HSPA or Internet HSPA) is a wireless broadband standard defined in 3GPP release 7.

That could enable AT&T to go straight to 21 Mb/s. HSPA+ actually encompasses a bevy of upgrades, including evolving to a flat IP core and the introduction of smart antenna technology, but AT&T is focusing on upgrades to the baseband, which will dramatically increase capacity without having to fiddle with the elements on the tower or in the core.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

LTE device specs now made available by Verizon

Verizon is moving aggressively towards its plans for LTE and in this process the company released its initial set of technical specs for devices that will run on its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, which Verizon will launch next year on a commercial basis.

The new specifications are designed to offer guidelines for both access and data transport for LTE devices and will serve as a roadmap for developers who choose to develop devices for submission to the LTE certification process.

The specifications can be downloaded from this link.

When you go on the link above you can see an invitation from that Verizon to join their LTE specification web Conference on May 13th for additional details and an opportunity to ask questions. The primary objective of this conference is to encourage developers to design devices that can take advantage of 4G network speeds and capabilities.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

HSPA+ to become more widely available in 2009


According to 3G Americas press release, 100 million new connections were added last year. On a worldwide basis, GSM totals 3.5 billion of the nearly 4 billion mobile subscriptions or 89% share of market at the end of December 2008. With 278 UMTS-HSPA networks in service in 121 countries, there are 290 million UMTS-HSPA subscriptions as of the end of 2008 compared to 186 million a year earlier—more than 100 million new 3G connections. UMTS-HSPA subscriptions are expected to more than double in 2009, according to Informa’s forecasts, and reach 455 million connections by the end of this year.

A survey last year by GSA showed that over 1000 HSPA devices have already been launched. Remember HSPA device could be HSDPA device only or HSDPA and HSUPA device. According to Dell'Oro group, Worldwide total mobile infrastructure market revenues grew 5% in 2008, driven by the nearly doubling and quadrupling of revenues of the WCDMA and WiMAX markets, respectively.

The focus is now moving towards HSPA+ (Release 7). HSPA+ is already becoming everyones favourite as it now has the potential to compete with LTE. The HSPA+ data rates will soon be able to rival that of LTE. No new spectrum will be required and enhancements will now allow multiple bands to be used at the same time thereby reducing the need to move to LTE for gaining higher data rates by use of higher bandwidth.

O2 Germany is planning to upgrade its network to HSPA+ by mid 2009. Vodafone also plans to upgrade its network to HSPA+ when more devices are available. Hong Kong operator CSLNWM is working with China's ZTE to upgrade their network to SDR based HSPA+ network that could easily be upgraded to LTE. Australia's Telstra has already announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that it is the first in the world to offer mobile broadband service with peak rates of 21 Mbps made possible through HSPA+ technology.

On the devices front Huawei has E182E HSPA+ slide USB stick supporting 21.6Mbps DL and 5.76Mbps in UL. Novatel surprisingly has the same specs for its MC996D modem. Qualcomm meanwhile has released a range of new HSPA+ capable chipsets. The MSM8260 supports 3GPP Release 7 HSPA+ for data rates of up to 28 Mbps. The MSM8660 adds support for 3GPP/3GPP2 multimode, and the MSM8270 adds support for Release 8 dual-carrier HSPA+ for even higher data rates of up to 42 Mbps. All three products offer full backward compatibility to previous generation networks and are pin-, software- and functionally-compatible.

Its just a matter of time before we will all be able to experience the HSPA+ speeds on our mobiles and mobile connected Laptops.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Femtocells may not be that close to deployment yet


Recently Zahid Ghadialy in his blog mentioned about the first deployment of Femotcells by NEC and Ubiquisys. Since then you must have thought that the femotcells will pick up and will be commercialized very soon. I am not hundred percent sure this is the case though as I have come across few articles which suggest that operators are no way near to the launch of femtocells for various reasons.

While the enthusiasm for femtocells continues unabated, several of the mobile operators that have once taken the lead are having second thoughts due to unresolved technical issues and unclear business cases.

These concerns came to the surface during the Femtocell Europe 2008 conference when SFR said it had delayed selecting a femtocell supplier because of undefined industry standards. The company said that the expected deployment of the technology now would not commence until sometime next year.

SFR, of which Vodafone Group owns 44 per cent, participated in Vodafone's group-level request for proposals for femtocells last year, but it also issued its own RFQ separately. "We're assessing another technology in parallel," said Thierry Berthouloux, network solutions director at SFR. "However, we have decided to extend that assessment period and have put this process on hold to give equipment suppliers time to consolidate roadmaps. There's no point making a decision today."

In my view it is very important that if femtocells have to be a success then there should be agreed standard so that there is no confusion as such towards the technology. When I say confusion what I mean is that if there is a set and agreed standard then most of the questions or doubts will be answered. According to those close to the situation, the issue for the major operators in agreeing to a standard is the need for clarity on 3GPP status and the lack of resource being provided by the larger femtocell vendors to achieve this.

Although the above scenario does present a bleak picture but all is not lost for femtocells commercialization. Some operators although having some concerns have not given up on femtocells and are continuing with their trials and testing.

Once of such operator is Telefonica O2, which having already conducted consumer and equipment trials earlier this year, is now looking to another femtocell pilot early next year. Although this retesting will mean O2 will miss its earlier forecast of a commercial femtocell launch during Q1/09 but at the same time it does presents a hopeful image for O2’s commercial launch of femtocells.
The femtocells developer Ubiquisys, which took part in O2's trial this year, said a phased approach should not be unexpected and would be typical of the way operators evaluate new technologies and products, such as femtocells.

But in my view O2’s retrial itself is not enough and I firmly believe that if femtocell technology has to be a success then other operators must join O2 as well, given that O2 has been a firm advocate for the technology anyway. It is true that there are operators other than O2 who might be interested in the technolgy and hence will be interested in the deployment of femtocells. But the delay in O2 plans might draw a conclusion for these other operators that the business case for 3G home access points and services remains in question. This might also bring into doubt reports that 2010 would be the year of significant deployments for femtocells in Europe.

Whatever is the outcome I do hope that the industry gets their acts together and work their socks off towards the success of femtocells?

The femtocell market is primed to grow in 2008 and hence the global revenues generated by the femtocell equipment vendors are forecast to grow as well. Whatever the discrepancy over the market size, the perception of significant growth in femtocells illustrates the potential opportunity both technically and commercially.