Showing posts with label White Papers and Reports. Show all posts
Showing posts with label White Papers and Reports. Show all posts

Monday, 7 March 2022

GSMA Releases Mobile Economy Report 2022

The GSMA Mobile Economy report series provides the latest insights on the state of the mobile industry worldwide. Produced by GSMA's in-house research team, GSMA Intelligence, these reports contain a range of technology, socio-economic and financial datasets, including forecasts out to 2025. The global version of the report is published annually at MWC Barcelona, while regional editions are published throughout the year.

The Infographic above (PDF) shows the latest update from 2022. The PDF of report is available here.

Selective extract from the executive summary as follows:

The mobile industry has been instrumental in extending connectivity to people around the world. In 2021, the number of mobile internet subscribers reached 4.2 billion people globally. Operators’ investments in network infrastructure over the last decade have helped to shrink the coverage gap for mobile broadband networks from a third of the global population to just 6%. But although the industry continues to invest in innovative solutions and partnerships to extend connectivity to still underserved and far-flung communities, the adoption of mobile internet services has not kept pace with the expansion of network coverage. This has resulted in a significant usage gap. In 2021, the usage gap stood at 3.2 billion people, or 41% of the global population. 

The reasons for the usage gap are multifaceted and vary by region, but they generally relate to a lack of affordability, relevance, knowledge and skills, in addition to safety and security concerns. Furthermore, the barriers to mobile internet adoption are particularly acute among certain segments of the population, including women, the elderly, those in rural areas and persons with disabilities – or a combination thereof. Addressing the usage gap for these key groups will extend the benefits of the internet and digital technology to more people in society, and will require concerted efforts by a broad range of stakeholders working together with mobile operators and other ecosystem players, such as device manufacturers and digital content creators.

5G adoption continues to grow rapidly in pioneer markets, with the total number of connections set to reach 1 billion in 2022. Momentum has been boosted by a number of factors, including the economic recovery from the pandemic, rising 5G handset sales, network coverage expansions and overall marketing efforts by mobile operators. Meanwhile, a new wave of 5G rollouts in large markets with modest income levels (such as Brazil, Indonesia and India) could further incentivise the mass production of more affordable 5G devices, which in turn could further bolster subscriber growth. By the end of 2025, 5G will account for around a quarter of total mobile connections and more than two in five people around the world will live within reach of a 5G network.

4G still has room to grow in most developing markets, particularly in SubSaharan Africa, where 4G adoption is still below a fifth of total connections and operators are stepping up efforts to migrate existing 2G and 3G customers to 4G networks. However, rising 5G adoption in leading markets, such as China, South Korea and the US, means that 4G adoption on a global level is beginning to decline. Globally, 4G adoption will account for 55% of total connections by 2025, down from a peak of 58% in 2021.

By the end of 2021, 5.3 billion people subscribed to mobile services, representing 67% of the global population. In a growing number of markets, most adults now own a mobile phone, meaning that future growth will come from younger populations taking out a mobile subscription for the first time. Over the period to 2025, there will be an additional 400 million new mobile subscribers, most of them from Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa, taking the total number of subscribers to 5.7 billion (70% of the global population). 

In 2021, mobile technologies and services generated $4.5 trillion of economic value added, or 5% of GDP, globally. This figure will grow by more than $400 billion by 2025 to nearly $5 trillion as countries increasingly benefit from the improvements in productivity and efficiency brought about by the increased take-up of mobile services. 5G is expected to benefit all economic sectors of the global economy during this period, with services and manufacturing experiencing the most impact.

You can download all reports from here.

For anyone interested in keeping a track of which 2G/3G networks are undergoing sunset, you can follow my Twitter thread that lists all the networks I become aware of 

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Thursday, 11 November 2021

Network Slicing using User Equipment Route Selection Policy (URSP)

Google announced that its latest smartphone OS will include support for 5G network slicing. Last week Telecom TV brought this news to my attention. The article explains:

It's a move designed to leverage its expertise in devices in order to give it the edge over its rival hyperscalers.

It comes in two flavours. The first is for enterprise-owned handsets, and routes all data sent and received by a device over the network slices provided by that company's mobile operator. Android 12 gives operators the ability to manage slices using a new dynamic policy control mechanism called User Equipment Route Selection Policy (URSP). URSP enables devices to automatically switch between different network slices according to which application they are using. For example, someone working for a financial institution might require a highly-secure network slice for sending and receiving sensitive corporate data, but will then require a reliable, high-throughput, low-latency slice so they can participate in a video meeting.

The second flavour is implemented in the work profile. For years, enterprises have had the option of creating work profiles on Android devices – irrespective of whether they are owned by the organisation or the individual – to use as a separate repository for enterprise apps and data. When Android 12 comes out next year, enterprises will be able to route data to and from that repository over a network slice.

Google said it has already carried out network slicing tests with both Ericsson and Nokia using test versions of its recently released Pixel 6 smartphone running on the as-yet-unreleased Android 12 OS.

Last week Taiwanese operator Far EasTone (FET) and Ericsson announced they have completed the world’s first proof of concept (PoC) for simultaneously connecting multiple network slices per device running on Android 12 commercial release. The press release said:

The trial, carried out on FET’s 5G standalone (SA) infrastructure built on Ericsson’s radio access network and cloud-native Core network, successfully demonstrated the 5G user equipment slicing policy feature (User Equipment Route Selection Policy, or URSP) on multiple Android devices. This marks a breakthrough in network slicing capabilities on a 5G standalone network and paves the way for further ecosystem development in this important area.

With more 5G networks evolving to standalone architecture around the globe, end-to-end network slicing, which includes Ericsson RAN Slicing to secure Quality of Service (QoS) differentiation, plays a key role in enabling new services for end users, with which multiple virtual 5G networks are created on top of one physical network. The 5G trial, in collaboration with FET, Ericsson and Android, went even further in network slicing capabilities by introducing and demonstrating 5G user equipment (UE) slicing policy (URSP) features that allow devices to simultaneously operate on dynamic policy control and selection between multiple 5G network slices. This enables the steering of applications and services with specific requirements to defined slices without switching devices.

Multiple slices allow devices to have multiple profiles to secure different levels of experience, security, and privacy requirements, based on the needs of the different applications and in correspondence with the user profile.  For instance, a device can have a personal profile with private data from apps or off-work entertainment, and a work profile with enterprises productivity apps. With URSP features, employers can customize the work profile with increased security and enable better use of RAN Slicing with QoS so that enterprise-related apps can work even during network congestion.

Some security-sensitive apps, such as mobile banking, can also benefit from different routing mechanisms of the traffic enabled by URSP. For instance, the banking app would not need to send its traffic to the internet and then to the app server as it does today. Instead, it could go straight to the app server and avoid the routing through internet. With the shortest route by connecting to a defined slice, users could reduce the risk of being attacked by hackers.

In their technical whitepaper on Network Slicing, Samsung explains: 

Along with the concept of network slicing and features in the RAN and Core network, UE Route Selection Policy (URSP) is introduced as a way to manage network slice information for the UE. URSP is a network slice feature enabled by the PCF which informs the network slice status to the UE via the AMF. In 4G network systems, it was near impossible to install new services in the network for a UE. But through the URSP feature, 5G network operators can easily configure new service for a UE. Figure 12 (top of this blog post) shows the difference in network slice selection in 4G and 5G Network. In 5G network, slice selection policy can be configured dynamically through URSP, while slice selection policy is pre-defined and cannot be changed dynamically in 4G network.

URSP contains OSId, AppId, IP descriptors to define the application and Single-Network Slice Selection Assistance Information (S-NSSAI), Data Network Name (DNN), Session and Service Continuity (SSC) mode information for the application and network slice mapping.

The S-NSSAI identifies each network slice service and provides information to properly assign network slice/functions. An S-NSSAI is comprised of:

  • A Slice/Service type (SST), which refers to the expected network slice behavior in terms of features and services;
  • A Slice Differentiator (SD), which is an optional information that complements the Slice/Service type(s) to differentiate amongst multiple network slices of the same Slice/Service type.

3GPP allows the use of the Slice Differentiator (SD) field that can build customized network slices. The SD field can be used to describe services, customer information and priority.

Here is a short video from Mpirical explaining 5G UE Route Selection.

It it worth reminding here that this feature, like many of the other 5G features, is dependent on 5G Core. We hope that the transition to 5G Standalone Networks happens as soon as possible.

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Tuesday, 24 August 2021

3GPP's 5G-Advanced Technology Evolution from a Network Perspective Whitepaper


China Mobile, along with a bunch of other organizations including China Unicom, China Telecom, CAICT, Huawei, Nokia, Ericsson, etc., produced a white paper on what technology evolutions will we see as part of 5G-Advanced. This comes not so long after the 3GPP 5G-Advanced Workshop which a blogged about here.

The abstract of the whitepaper says:

The commercialization of 5G networks is accelerating globally. From the perspective of industry development drivers, 5G communications are considered the key to personal consumption experience upgrades and digital industrial transformation. Major economies around the world require 5G to be an essential part of long-term industrial development. 5G will enter thousands of industries in terms of business, and technically, 5G needs to integrate DOICT (DT - Data Technology, OT - Operational Technology, IT - Information Technology and CT - Communication Technology) and other technologies further. Therefore, this white paper proposes that continuous research on the follow-up evolution of 5G networks—5G-Advanced is required, and full consideration of architecture evolution and function enhancement is needed.

This white paper first analyzes the network evolution architecture of 5G-Advanced and expounds on the technical development direction of 5G-Advanced from the three characteristics of Artificial Intelligence, Convergence, and Enablement. Artificial Intelligence represents network AI, including full use of machine learning, digital twins, recognition and intention network, which can enhance the capabilities of network's intelligent operation and maintenance. Convergence includes 5G and industry network convergence, home network convergence and space-air-ground network convergence, in order to realize the integration development. Enablement provides for the enhancement of 5G interactive communication and deterministic communication capabilities. It enhances existing technologies such as network slicing and positioning to better help the digital transformation of the industry.

The paper can be downloaded from China Mobile's website here or from Huawei's website here. A video of the paper launch is embedded below:

Nokia's Antti Toskala wrote a blog piece providing the first real glimpse of 5G-Advanced, here.

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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Open RAN Terminology and Players


When we made our little Open RAN explainer, couple of years back, we never imagined this day when so many people in the industry will be talking about Open RAN. I have lost track of the virtual events taking place and Open RAN whitepapers that have been made available just in the last month.

One of the whitepapers just released was from NTT Docomo, just in time for MWC 2021. You can see the link in the Tweet

Even after so much information being available, many people still have basic questions about Open RAN and O-RAN. I helped make an Open RAN explainer series and blogged about it here. Just last week, I blogged about the O-RAN explainer series that I am currently working on, here.

There were some other topics that I couldn't cover elsewhere so made some short videos on them for the 3G4G YouTube channel. The first video/presentation explains Open RAN terminology that different people, companies and organizations use. It starts with open interfaces and then looks at radio hardware disaggregation and compute disaggregation. Moving from 2G/3G/4G to 5G, it also explains the Open RAN approach to a decomposed architecture with RAN functional splits.

If you look at the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenRAN group or O-RAN Alliance, the organizations driving the Open RAN vision and mission, you will notice many new small RAN players are joining one or both of them. In addition, you hear about other Open RAN consortiums that again include small innovative vendors that may not be very well known. 

The second video is an opinion piece looking at what is driving these companies to invest in Open RAN and what can they expect as return in future.

As always, all 3G4G videos' slides are available on our SlideShare channel.

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Thursday, 4 March 2021

The Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G)


Back in Feb 2020, ETSI announced the launch of a new group dedicated to specifying the fifth generation of Fixed Network (ETSI ISG F5G). The press release said:

We are entering an exciting new era of communications, and fixed networks play an essential role in that evolution alongside and in cooperation with mobile networks. Building on previous generations of fixed networks, the 5th generation will address three main use cases, a full-fiber connection, enhanced fixed broadband and a guaranteed reliable experience.

For home scenarios, emerging services such as Cloud VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) video streaming or online gaming introduce the necessity for ultra-broadband, extremely low latency and zero packet loss. Business scenarios such as enterprise Cloudification, leased line, or POL (Passive Optical LAN) require high reliability and high security. Other industry sectors have specific requirements on the deployment of fiber infrastructures including environmental conditions such as humidity, temperature or electromagnetic interference.

The ETSI ISG F5G aims at studying the fixed-network evolution required to match and further enhance the benefits that 5G has brought to mobile networks and communications. It will define improvements with respect to previous solutions and the new characteristics of the fifth-generation fixed network. This opens up new opportunities by comprehensively applying fiber technology to various scenarios, turning the Fiber to the Home paradigm into Fiber to Everything Everywhere.

ISG F5G considers a wide range of technologies, and therefore seeks to actively cooperate with a number of relevant standardization groups as well as vertical industrial organizations. ISG F5G will address aspects relating to new ODN technologies (Optical Distribution Network), XG(S)-PON and Wi-Fi 6 enhancements, control plane and user plane separation, smart energy efficiency, end-to-end full-stack slicing, autonomous operation and management, synergy of Transport and Access Networks, and adaptation of the Transport Network, amongst others.

The five work items approved last week deal with:

  • F5G use cases: the use cases include services to consumers and enterprises and will be selected based on their impact in terms of new technical requirements identified.
  • Landscape of F5G technology and standards: this work will study technology requirements for F5G use cases, explore existing technologies, and perform the gap analysis.
  • Definition of fixed network generations: to evaluate the driving forces and the path of fixed network evolution, including transport, access and on-premises networks. It will also identify the principal characteristics demarcating different generations and define them.
  • Architecture of F5G: this will specify the end-to-end network architectures, features and related network devices/elements’ requirements for F5G, including on-premises, Access, IP and Transport Networks.
  • F5G quality of experience: to specify the end-to-end quality of experience (QoE) factors for new broadband services. It will analyze the general factors that impact service performance and identify the relevant QoE dimensions for each service.

Then in May, at Huawei Global Analyst Summit 2020 (#HAS2020), Huawei invited global optical industry leaders to discuss F5G Industry development and ecosystem construction, and launched the F5G global industry joint initiative to draw up a grand blueprint for the F5G era. The press conference video is as follows:

Then in September 2020, ETSI released a whitepaper, "The Fifth Generation Fixed Network: Bringing Fibre to Everywhere and Everything"

Now there are couple of standards available that provides more insights.

ETSI GR F5G 001 - Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G); F5G Generation Definition Release #1:

In the past, the lack of a clear fixed network generation definition has prevented a wider technology standards adoption and prevented the creation and use of global mass markets. The success of the mobile and cable networks deployments, supported by clear specifications related to particular technological generations, has shown how important this generation definition is.

The focus of the 5th generation fixed networks (F5G) specifications is on telecommunication networks which consist fully of optical fibre elements up to the connection serving locations (user, home, office, base station, etc.). That being said, the connection to some terminals can still be assisted with wireless technologies (for instance, Wi-Fi®).

The main assumption behind the present document foresees that, in the near future, all the fixed networks will adopt end-to-end fibre architectures: Fibre to Everywhere.

The present document addresses the history of fixed networks and summarizes their development paths and driving forces. The factors that influence the definition of fixed, cable and mobile network generations will be analysed. Based upon this, the business and technology characteristics of F5G will be considered.

This table comparing the different generations of fixed networks is interesting too


ETSI GR F5G 002 - Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G); F5G Use Cases Release #1:

The present document describes a first set of use cases to be enabled by the Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G). These use cases include services to consumers and enterprises as well as functionalities to optimize the management of the Fifth Generation Fixed Network. The use cases will be used as input to a gap analysis and a technology landscape study, aiming to extract technical requirements needed for their implementations. Fourteen use cases are selected based on their impact. The context and description of each use case are presented in the present document.


The use cases as described in the present document are driving the three dimensions of characteristics that are specified in the document on generation definitions [i.1], namely eFBB (enhanced Fixed BroadBand), FFC (Full-Fibre Connection), and GRE (Guaranteed Reliable Experience). Figure 2 shows that:

  • depending on the use case, one or more dimensions are particularly important, and
  • all dimensions of the F5G system architecture are needed to implement the use cases.

I will surely be adding more stuff as and when it is available.

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Monday, 15 February 2021

Open RAN Explanation, Videos, White papers and Other Resources


Couple of years back, just before MWC 2019, we made what I would like to think of as the first proper explanation of Open RAN. I posted it on this blog here and the video has been viewed nearly 45,000 times. At that time, the concept of Open RAN was still quite new and in my day job with Parallel Wireless*, I was spending quite some time explaining what it really means.

Anyway, I think it made the concept of Open RAN so easy to understand that I have seen tens, if not hundreds, of people copy it, but only a few kind people give credit. 

With the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and O-RAN driving the ecosystem further, I along with my Parallel Wireless colleagues, created a series of videos to explain the concept a bit more in detail. As expected, the introductory videos have been extremely popular while the others have been reasonably popular as well. The concept from these videos have been copied even far and wider than the original one. 

Embedded below is the playlist of all the videos (6 currently but 1 more in works):

In addition to these, I maintain a list of Open RAN whitepapers (publicly available without registration), some good articles, etc. on the 3G4G website here. I try and update the site on a regular basis so feel free to put any resources in the comments of this post and I will add them on the site during the next update.

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*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director, Technology & Innovation Strategy. This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and expresses my own views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. Anyone who knows me well would know this. 

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:


You may also find "5G SMS is Very Real and Here to Stay" by William Dudley useful. It covers a lot of technical details and signalling. It's available here.

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Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Telecom Services and Data Pricing

With the mobile technology gaining even more subscribers and smartphones becoming common, the telecom services pricing that includes voice, SMS and data is falling. Many operators are now including bundles with generous amounts to satisfy everyone. In many European countries, it is very common to have plans with unlimited everything. 

One of the reports that ITU releases is called "Measuring Digital Development: ICT Price Trends". The latest report for 2019 was released in May this year. The press release says:

On average, prices for mobile-voice, mobile-data and fixed-broadband services are decreasing steadily around the world, and in some countries even dramatically. The reduction in price relative to income is even more dramatic, suggesting that, globally, telecommunication and information and communication technology services are becoming more affordable. However, both trends do not translate into rapidly increasing Internet penetration rates which suggests that there are other barriers to Internet use, concludes ITU in its new statistical report, Measuring Digital Development: ICT Price Trends 2019.

The latest statistics from ITU confirm that affordability may not be the only barrier to Internet uptake, and that other factors such as: 

  • low level of education, 
  • lack of relevant content, 
  • lack of content in local languages, 
  • lack of digital skills, and a 
  • low-quality Internet connection may also prevent effective use. 


Key results​:

  • An entry-level mobile-voice basket remains broadly affordable in most countries. In 70 countries, a low-usage mobile-voice plan was available for less than 1 per cent of gross national income (GNI) per capita, and in a further 37 countries it stood below 2 per cent. Although causality is difficult to prove, price reductions have undoubtedly helped contribute to the rapid rise in the mobile-voice penetration rate, alongside growing competition and better price monitoring and evaluation by regulators.
  • The expansion of bundled services has further reduced prices, as combined data-and-voice baskets are generally less expensive than the sum of the two separate baskets in most markets.
  • Prices have decreased from 2013 to 2019 relative to GNI per capita The global average price of a mobile-data basket of 1.5 GB shrank from 8.4 per cent of GNI per capita in 2013 to 3.2 per cent in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate of almost -15 per cent. When expressed in USD, the global average price of a mobile-data basket of at least 1.5 GB dropped by 7 per cent on average annually between 2013 and 2019.
  • Good progress has been made towards the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development's target of achieving affordable broadband costing 2-5 per cent of GNI per capita by 2025, but still more remains to be done. There are still nine developing countries and 31 LDCs that have yet to reach the 2 per cent target by 2025.
  • Fixed-broadband packages remain generally more expensive than mobile-data packages (although data allowances are not always directly comparable). Over the past four years, the affordability of fixed broadband has not changed substantially, but advertised download speeds continue to increase.

(click on the image to enlarge)

Some of the results are quite interesting as shown in the image above. The picture on top left shows the different types of packages. The report analyses price data for five key services based on the following five baskets:

  1. mobile-data-and-voice basket (i.e. voice, SMS and mobile data combined) – low consumption (70 minutes, 20 SMSs and 500 MB);
  2. mobile-data-and-voice basket – high consumption (140 minutes, 70 SMSs and 1.5 GB);
  3. mobile-voice (including voice and SMS);
  4. mobile-data;
  5. fixed-broadband.

Chart 1 shows Mobile data and voice baskets in USD for 2019. LDCs stands for Least Developed Countries

Chart 2 shows Mobile data and voice baskets in PPP$, where PPP stands for purchasing power parity. This is defined as basket of goods based comparison approach (see here)

Finally, chart 3 shows Mobile data and voice basket as a % of GNI p.c. GNI stands for gross national income. Expressing prices relative to GNI per capita (GNI p.c.), as a measure of affordability, reveals huge gaps between prices for different levels of development. In developed countries, the price of a low-consumption mobile-data-and-voice basket was equivalent to 1 per cent of GNI p.c. in 2019. In developing countries, this basket cost 7.5 per cent of GNI p.c., while in the LDCs this rose sharply to 17 per cent. For high-consumption mobile-data-and-voice baskets, the differences were even larger.

Source - Visual capitalist. Click link to see complete picture

Visual Capitalist has a nice summary of data prices for 1GB of Mobile data in different parts of the world. A striking trend worth noting is that four out of five of the most expensive countries (Malawi, Benin, Chad, Yemen & Botswana) for mobile data are in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).


Cable.co.uk have an interactive map here, that allows you to see prices in different parts of the world. As you would guess, the cheapest data prices in the world is in India.

Finally, eXtensia has a list of data costs in African countries from 2019 here, a lot has changed in the last year so you may have to check if the information you need is correct as of today.

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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

5G Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Sunday, 26 January 2020

NTT Docomo's Vision on 5G Evolution and 6G


NTT Docomo released a whitepaper on 5G Evolution and 6G. In a press release they announced:

NTT DOCOMO has released a white paper on the topic of 6G, the sixth-generation mobile communications system that the company aims to launch on a commercial basis by 2030. It incorporates DOCOMO's views in the field of 5G evolution and 6G communications technology, areas that the company has been researching since 2018. The white paper summarizes the related technical concepts and the expected diverse use cases of evolving 5G and new 6G communication technologies, as well as the technology components and performance targets.

Mobile communication systems typically evolve into the next generation over a period of roughly ten years; DOCOMO commenced its research into the commercial launch of 5G in 2010. In 2018, the company conducted successful radio wave propagation experiments at frequencies of up to 150 GHz, levels which are expected to enable the much faster and larger-capacity communications that 6G will require.

DOCOMO will continue to enhance the ultra-high-speed, large-capacity, ultra-reliable, low-latency and massive device-connectivity capabilities of 5G technology. It will continue its research into and development of 5G evolution and 6G technology, aiming to realize technological advances including:

  • the achievement of a combination of advances in connectivity, including ultra-high speed, large capacity and low latency
  • the pioneering of new frequency bands, including terahertz frequencies
  • the expansion of communication coverage in the sky, at sea and in space
  • the provision of ultra-low-energy and ultra-low-cost communications
  • the ensuring of highly reliable communications
  • the capability of massive device-connectivity and sensing

Visitors to DOCOMO Open House 2020 will be able to view conceptual displays incorporating DOCOMO's vision of the evolution of 5G technologies into 6G. The event will take place in the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition complex in Tokyo on January 23 and 24. DOCOMO also plans to hold a panel session entitled "5G Evolution and 6G" on January 24.

Videos from Docomo Open House are embedded below, along with a previous talk by Takehiro Nakamura from 6G Summit.


6G has become a hot topic, especially after China announced back in November that they are working on 6G. We have some interesting tweets on 6G as well.

This one from Stefan Pongratz, Dell'Oro group shows the timeline for 5G, Pre-6G and 6G



This one provides a timeline all the way from Release 99 up till 21



Finally, here is a tweet highlighting the 6G research



Finally, the paper acknowledges the 5G challenges and focus areas for 5G evolution, before focusing on 6G.
The mmWave coverage and mobility needs improvement, while the downlink is able to provide very high data rates, the uplink is struggling to be better than 4G. Also, there are some very extreme requirements for industrial use cases, 5G has yet to prove that it can meet them.

Finally, here is another view from iDate Digiworld comparing 5G vs 6G in terms of performance, spectrum and network.



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Saturday, 16 June 2018

Summary and Analysis of Ericsson Mobility Report 2018

Ericsson Mobility reports always make a fantastic reading. Its been a while since I wrote anything on this topic so I thought lets summarize it and also provide my personal analysis. Please feel free to disagree as this is just a blog post.

Before we start, the official site for the report is here. You can jump directly to the PDF here. Ericsson will also be holding a webinar on this topic on 19 June, you can register here.

A short summary of some of the highlights are in the table above but lets look at more in detail.

Mobile subscriptions 



  • The total number of mobile subscriptions was around 7.9 billion in Q1 2018.
  • There are now 5.5 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.
  • Global subscription penetration in Q1 2018 was 104 percent.
  • The number of LTE subscriptions increased by 210 million during the quarter to reach a total of 2.9 billion.
  • Over the same period, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions declined by 90 million. Other technologies declined by around 32 million.
  • Subscriptions associated with smartphones now account for around 60 percent of all mobile phone subscriptions.

Many things to note above. There is still a big part of the world which is unconnected and most of the connectivity being talked about is population based coverage. While GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions are declining, many smartphone users are still camped on to GSM/EDGE for significant time.

While smartphones are growing, feature phones are not far behind. Surprisingly, Reliance Jio has become a leader of 4G feature phones.

My analysis from the developing world shows that many users are getting a GSM feature phone as a backup for when smartphone runs out of power.


Mobile subscriptions worldwide outlook


  • 1 billion 5G subscriptions for enhanced mobile broadband by the end of 2023, accounting for 12 percent of all mobile subscriptions.
  • LTE subscriptions continues to grow strongly and is forecast to reach 5.5 billion by the end of 2023
  • In 2023, there will be 8.9 billion mobile subscriptions, 8.3 billion mobile broadband subscriptions and 6.1 billion unique mobile subscribers.
  • The number of smartphone subscriptions is forecast to reach 7.2 billion in 2023.

The report describes "A 5G subscription is counted as such when associated with a device that supports NR as specified in 3GPP Release 15, connected to a 5G-enabled network." which is a good approach but does not talk about 5G availability. My old question (tweet below) on "How many 5G sites does an operator have to deploy so that they can say they have 5G?" is still waiting for an answer.


5G device outlook



  • First 5G data-only devices are expected from the second half of 2018.
  • The first 3GPP smartphones supporting 5G are expected in early 2019.
  • From 2020, when third-generation chipsets will be introduced, large numbers of 5G devices are forecast.
  • By 2023, 1 billion 5G devices for enhanced mobile broadband are expected to be connected worldwide.

Qualcomm has made a good progress (video) on this front and there are already test modems available for 5G. I wont be surprised with the launch. It would remain to be seen what will be the price point and demand for these 5G data-only devices. The Register put it quite bluntly about guinea pigs here. I am also worried about the misleading 5G claims (see here).


Voice over LTE (VoLTE) outlook



  • At the end of 2017, VoLTE subscriptions exceeded 610 million.
  • The number of VoLTE subscriptions is projected to reach 5.4 billion by the end of 2023.
  • VoLTE technology will be the foundation for enabling 5G voice calls.
  • New use cases in a 5G context are being explored, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).

Back in 2011, I suggested the following (tweet below)
Looks like things haven't changed significantly. There are still many low end devices that do not support VoLTE and many operators dont support VoLTE on BYOD. VoLTE has been much harder than everyone imagined it to be.


Mobile subscriptions worldwide by region



  • Globally, mobile broadband subscriptions now make up 68 percent of all mobile subscriptions.
  • 5G subscriptions will be available in all regions in 2023.
  • In 2023, 48 percent of subscriptions in North America and 34 percent in North East Asia are expected to be for 5G.

I think that for some regions these predictions may be a bit optimistic. Many operators are struggling with finance and revenue, especially as the pricing going down due to intense competition. It would be interesting to see how these numbers hold up next year.

While China has been added to North-East Asia, it may be a useful exercise to separate it. Similarly Middle East should be separated from Africa as the speed of change is going to be significantly different.


Mobile data Traffic Growth and Outlook

  • In Q1 2018, mobile data traffic grew around 54 percent year-on-year.
  • The quarter-on-quarter growth was around 11 percent.
  • In 2023, 20 percent of mobile data traffic will be carried by 5G networks.
  • North America has the highest monthly usage of mobile data per smartphone at 7.2 gigabytes (GB), anticipated to increase to 49GB in 2023.
  • Total mobile data traffic is expected to increase by nearly eight times by the end of 2023.
  • In 2023, 95 percent of total mobile data traffic is expected to be generated by smartphones, increasing from 85 percent today.
  • North East Asia has the largest share of mobile data traffic – set to reach 25EB per month in 2023.

This is one of the toughest areas of prediction as there are a large number of factors affecting this from pricing to devices and applications.

Quiz question: Do you remember which year did data traffic overtake voice traffic? Answer here (external link to avoid spoilers)


Mobile traffic by application category



  • In 2023, video will account for around 73 percent of mobile data traffic.
  • Traffic from social networking is also expected to rise – increasing by 31 percent annually over the next 6 years.
  • The relative share of social networking traffic will decline over the same period, due to the stronger growth of video.
  • Streaming videos in different resolutions can impact data traffic consumption to a high degree. Watching HD video (720p) rather than standard resolution video (480p) typically doubles the data traffic volume, while moving to full HD (1080p) doubles it yet again.
  • Increased streaming of immersive video formats would also impact data traffic consumption.

It would have been interesting if games were a separate category. Not sure if it has been lumped with Video/Audio or in Other segments.


IoT connections outlook


  • The number of cellular IoT connections is expected to reach 3.5 billion in 2023. This is almost double our last forecast, due to ongoing large-scale deployments in China.
  • Of the 3.5 billion cellular IoT connections forecast for 2023, North East Asia is anticipated to account for 2.2 billion.
  • New massive cellular IoT technologies, such as NB-IoT and Cat-M1, are taking off and driving growth in the number of cellular IoT connections.
  • Mobile operators have commercially launched more than 60 cellular IoT networks worldwide using Cat-M1 and NB-IoT.

It is important to look at the following 2 definitions though.

Short-range IoT: Segment that largely consists of devices connected by unlicensed radio technologies, with a typical range of up to 100 meters, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Zigbee. This category also includes devices connected over fixed-line local area networks and powerline technologies

Wide-area IoT: Segment consisting of devices using cellular connections, as well as unlicensed low-power technologies, such as Sigfox and LoRa

The Wide-area IoT in the table above includes cellular IoT. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will know that I think LoRa has a bright future and my belief is that this report ignores some of the reasons behind the popularity of LoRa and its growth story. 


Network coverage

  • In 2023, more than 20 percent of the world’s population will be covered by 5G.
  • 5G is expected to be deployed first in dense urban areas to support enhanced mobile broadband.
  • Another early use case for 5G will be fixed wireless access.
  • Today, 3GPP cellular networks cover around 95 percent of the world’s population.

A lot of work needs to be done in this area to improve coverage in rural and remote locations.

I will leave this post at this point. The report also contains details on Network Evolution, Network Performance, Smart Manufacturing, etc. You can read it from the report.