Sunday 8 June 2008

3GPP Selects Femtocell Architecture

Picked this up from Dean Bubley's post on his blog.
The Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) has adopted an official architecture for 3G femtocell home base stations.

The 3GPP wants to have the new standard done by the end of this year, which appears to be an aggressive time schedule given the fact that vendors had various approaches to building a femtocell base station. The agreed upon architecture follows an access network-based approach, leveraging existing standards, called IU-cs and Iu-ps interfaces, into the core service network. The result is a new interface called Iu-h.

The architecture defines two new network elements, the femtocell and the femtocell gateway. Between these elements is the new Iu-h interface. This solution was backed by Alcatel-Lucent, Kineto Wireless, Motorola and NEC.

All of the femtocell vendors must go back and change their access point and network gateway equipment to comply with the new standard interface.

All femtocell vendors will have to make changes to their access points. Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, NEC, and those that already use Kineto's GAN approach, such as Ubiquisys, will have the least work to do.
Kineto Wireless, Inc., announced its full support for the 3GPP agreement reached last week on the Home NodeB (HNB) architecture for femtocell-to-core network connectivity. Recognizing that a standard is needed for the mass-market success of femtocells, Kineto took a lead role in developing consensus among the contributing companies. Having an agreed architecture marks a major milestone towards the completion of a global 3G femtocell standard.
The agreed 3GPP HNB architecture follows an access network-based approach, leveraging the existing Iu-cs and Iu-ps interfaces into the core service network. The architecture defines two new network elements, the HNB (a.k.a. Femtocell) and the HNB Gateway (a.k.a. Femto Gateway). Between these elements is the new Iu-h interface.
  • Home NodeB (HNB) – Connected to an existing residential broadband service, an HNB provides radio coverage for standard 3G handsets within a home. HNBs incorporate the capabilities of a standard NodeB as well as the radio resource management functions of a standard Radio Network Controller (RNC).
  • HNB Gateway (HNB-GW): Installed within an operator’s network, the HNB Gateway aggregates traffic from a large number of HNBs back into an existing core service network through the standard Iu-cs and Iu-ps interfaces.
  • Iu-h Interface: Residing between an HNB and an HNB-GW, the Iu-h interface includes a new HNB application protocol (HNBAP) for enabling highly-scalable, ad-hoc HNB deployment. The interface also introduces an efficient, scalable method for transporting Iu control signaling over the Internet.

With an agreement on an underlying femtocell architecture, 3GPP has now transitioned to the phase of developing detailed specifications. This work is targeted for completion by the end of 2008.

More Info:

Discovery Protocols for FMC devices

Today’s mobile computers include additional features such as Java, Bluetooth, Smart Covers, WAP 2.0, and JavaScript enabled Web pages and with embedded SOAP, 3GPP with SIP, and other technologies that make it possible to provide sophisticated, distributed applications. These new applications need Discovery tools to learn about the nearby networks or network-accessible resources available to them.

In future when FMC is common and PnP devices will be commonly available, when a user brings a new device home, the device will be able to automatically integrate itself into the home network. Discovery protocols are the mechanisms that make this possible.

Discovery protocols are network protocols used to discover services, devices, or other networked resources. The ability to discover networked resources at runtime makes it possible to dynamically configure distributed systems.

Over the past 20 years, dozens of discovery protocols have been developed. Despite many years of practical experience with discovery protocols, it remains an active area of research for many organizations investigating topics related to scalability or security or context awareness.
Usually, a discovery protocol allows a service to be discovered on the basis of its type, its Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and other properties—not just its name. For example, DNS (Distributed Name Service) is a name service. It resolves domain names to Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. For example, SLP (Service Location Protocol) clients can ask for services that match certain constraints, and servers respond with the names of services that match those constraints.

In general, there are four basic mechanisms that discovery protocols use for “discovery.”
1. Advertisement
2. Inquiry
3. Directories
4. Description

The wide range of protocols, representation languages, and query languages has resulted in very little, if any, interoperability between the various discovery protocols. As a consequence, most commercially available systems implement multiple discovery protocols.

Supporting multiple protocols has major drawbacks. Many mobile devices are memory constrained or have inadequate user interface capabilities. This limitation makes it very undesirable to use multiple protocols when, at least theoretically, a single protocol would be sufficient. Users of laptops or desktops are not usually concerned with the cost or power consumption of the network they are connected to. Mobile phone users may be concerned inefficient protocols designed for Local Area Networks (LANs)—both the financial cost of using the cellular network and the drain on their batteries of using any network.

It is common for discovery protocols to come as an integrated part of a distributed middleware toolkit. In addition to discovery, distributed middleware toolkits provide for remote invocation and events. For example, SSDP (Simple Service Discovery Protocol) is part of UPnP (Universal Plug and Play); a suite of distributedcomputing technologies that includes SSDP, SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), and GENA (Generalized Event Notification Architecture). Likewise, Jini is a distributed middleware toolkit that provides its own services discovery protocol.

Distributed middleware toolkits make it possible to create smart controllers that (1) use discovery protocols to integrate themselves with the home devices, (2) are aware of the device state and display information from the device to the user, (3) receive responses from control messages, (4) can authenticate themselves as authorized for the device, and (5) coordinate the actions of many devices.

For more information see:

Monday 2 June 2008

LTE v/s WiMax

In my last blog “LTE Latest News and Status” I wrote how LTE is developing as a technology how some companies are choosing LTE over WiMax.
But we still have a long way to go before it is clear that which technology will be the winner in the race of 4G.
Every now and then the trends are occurring in which one technology being preferred than the other.
But some of the recent developments have once again suggested that WiMax as a technology can’t be taken as lightly and is providing seriously competition for LTE.

WiMax already has a first-mover advantage over LTE. It is possible that WiMax could prove to be the winner in the 4G race against LTE (Long Term Evolution) simply because the technology is here, first.
Teresa Kellett, director of global development for telco Sprint Nextel, said during a panel discussion at WiMax Forum Asia 2008 that WiMax's first-mover advantage over LTE may help the former become a more widely-adopted technology eventually.

LTE is touted as the successor to the existing UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) 3G technology, capable of supporting significantly faster data rates.
Comparing the two competing technologies to another pair of competing standards--GSM and CDMA--she said GSM is the dominant cellular technology globally because it was first to market. CDMA, on which Sprint Nextel operates, has a stronger footprint in the United States.

"The head start a technology has is the key differentiator," said Kellett.
Another panellist, Scott Wickware, vice president of carrier networks for Nortel, said the exchange of knowledge is also beneficial to current players in the market in helping them in areas such as establishing business plans.
"This is the first time I'm seeing so much cooperation in the industry, so it's good to be a first mover," said Wickware.

Recent trends in the industry are showing that when some big gun like Nokia, Ericsson are choosing LTE then WiMax as a technology also has something to relish when it sees that Intel is in their camp.

But together with the competion between the two technolgies, both the camps also realise that to survive and instead of killing each other they might be complementary to each other and move towards the convergence.

Garth Collier, managing director, of Intel's WiMax division for Asia-Pacific and Japan, said he is "seeing for the first time a convergence in the cellular industry".
Collier raised the point of WiMax and 3G being complementary and the possibility of co-existence.

While the market waits for LTE, WiMax will serve as a "data overlay" for 3G, meant for delivering data where 3G's speeds are inadequate, while the cellular network continues to handle voice well, he said.

The emergence of dual mode or dual band devices is most likely to happen in the "early days" as the industry in developed markets embraces 4G technology, he said. Raising the example of Korea, he noted the availability of models which combine both HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) and WiBro functionality.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Wickware said he expects WiMax to find its place as a more cost-effective and quicker way for providers to turn on broadband in rural areas without having to lay physical copper or fibre infrastructure to homes.

This concept is not just contained to emerging markets. "Even in developed countries, there are pockets where coverage is not good, where the operators have not had a business case to provide standard broadband," said Wickware.

Furthermore, the ecosystem is growing, he said. "When you consider that companies such as Intel are very much backing WiMax, it is not a stretch to imagine many of the PCs or consumer electronics devices will drive the deployment of WiMax in developed urban areas, too," said Wickware.

LTE camp sees this competition and trying very hard to complete 3GPP specifications for LTE (36 series comprise of LTE specifications).In the recent RAN meeting in Kansas, USA (May 5 – 9 2008) it was concluded that most LTE specifications are about 95% ready (RRC about 80%).

So LTE is not keeping itself far behind and only time will tell who will score the goal in this extra time or the match might go to penalties.

IMS to succeed by serving LTE

IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystems) has been around for some time, and many infrastructure vendors have invested heavily in developing IMS capabilities, solutions and products. But market acceptance has been slower than expected. Now, with the 4G standards LTE (Long Term Evolution) and WiMAX taking shape, the IMS platform has been given a new role and a niche that will carry it a considerable distance into the future.

That is because some elements of IMS such as the Home Subscriber Server (HSS) and the Policy and Charging Rule Function (PCRF) are also key components in the LTE core architecture. Similar elements are also defined in WiMAX. These elements are required to enable the end-to-end QoS and dynamic charging capabilities required for the next generation of mobile data services.

“IMS, which enables the rapid creation and deployment of new services and applications, was rather slow to take off because operators weren’t quite sure how they were going to use it,” says ABI Research senior analyst Nadine Manjaro. “They struggled to find a business case for it. Now, the FCC in the United States has declared that winners of 700MHz spectrum must meet open application and device criteria. Verizon won most of that band in the recent auction, and will use it for LTE. Verizon launched its Open Development Initiative (ODI) based on IMS architecture called ‘Advance to IMS’ in March 2008. This interface for applications and devices will enable the openness that the FCC requires.”

Many operators and vendors are now moving to an open applications architecture: Sprint has mentioned it in reference to its application strategy and uses IMS as the base architecture for its High Performance Push to Talk (HPPTT) network scheduled to launch in June 2008. Nokia mentioned open devices and applications as a key initiative in its migration strategy. IMS will help to ease the transition to open development, and will be a fundamental part of future LTE and WiMAX networks.

More on this available available in this paper here.

Friday 30 May 2008

Worlds Worst War

The annual D&AD award winners have been announced with a ‘Yellow Pencil’ going to an interesting campaign by Tokyo-based agency Hakuhodo for snack food client Tohato.

The World’s Worst War used two new spicy snack flavors as opposing forces and engaged players to invite friends, thereby increasing their own personal rank, to join forces of either the Habanero Evil Army or the dreaded Satan Jorquia… Yikes. Better to watch the video!

The simplest way to understand this is the self explanatory youtube video:

Tomi has interesting post on this here.

Wednesday 28 May 2008

E-MBMS out of Rel-8, CBS in

E-MBMS is out of Release 8 and CBS (Cell Broadcast Service) is back in LTE. CBS as far as I am aware is not used much anywhere except Japan. CBS has been added specifically as now there is requirement for EWTS (Earthquake and Tsunami Warning System) .

Tuesday 27 May 2008

Clever move from LTE camp regarding IPR costs

Finally, probably because of threat from WiMAX, LTE vendors have announced a mutual commitment to a framework for establishing predictable and more transparent maximum aggregate costs for licensing intellectual property rights (IPR) that relate to 3GPP Long Term Evolution and Service Architecture Evolution standards (LTE/SAE). The companies invite all interested parties to join this initiative which is intended to stimulate early adoption of mobile broadband technology across the communications and consumer electronic industries.

Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NEC, NextWave Wireless, Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sony Ericsson are the initial signatories

The framework is based on the prevalent industry principle of fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing terms for essential patents. This means that the companies agree, subject to reciprocity, to reasonable, maximum aggregate royalty rates based on the value added by the technology in the end product and to flexible licensing arrangements according to the licensors’ proportional share of all standard essential IPR for the relevant product category.

Femtocell Training

I am in process of preparing Femtocell training as couple of companies have already inquired. I am thinking of the following topics:

  What is a Femtocell
  Why do we need Femtocell
  One-phone, Blue-Phone and BT Fusion
  Different types of femto's including Femto++ and super-femtocell (PicoCell)
State of Market

  Key Players
  Whats going on
Femtocell Network Architecture

  UMA based architecture
  Iub over IP
  Iu over IP
  SIP/IMS based architecture
Security, etc.
Advanced Technical issues

   Auto Discovery
   Auto Provisioning
   Cognitive Radio Approach
   Open and Close femtocell
   RF Interference
Femtozone Services
Environment and Health effects

Can anyone suggest anything else?

Friday 23 May 2008

Femtocell - The new jargon

I was in the Wireless 08 event yesterday in London to hear more about Femtocells and there were some very interesting presentations. There are lots of new terms floating around and they are as follows:
  • Super-Femtocell: Well this term is being used by IP Access to refer to their Picocell. I am not sure if this is the right way to refer them but they aare surely getting lot of attention. Super-Femto is another variant of this term and so is 'femtocell on steroids'
  • Femto++: This term was used by Airvana to refer to enterprise femtocell. They also refered to it as eFemto.
  • Cognitive Radio Femtocell: This was referred by Ubiquisys. I was really impressed with this one and will write a blog later on this one.
So listen all you spammers who buy up all the website names to sell at profit later. Now is your time, so read this blog carefully and off you go ;)

Wednesday 21 May 2008

Dell to power laptops with HSPA

Ericsson has a press release saying that Dell will use its high-speed HSPA mobile broadband technology in next-generation laptops due in the second quarter of 2008. The modules will be built in to the Dell laptops, according to a press release by both companies. By June, Intel is expected to roll out its next-generation "Montevina" mobile chipset, which will be used as the foundation for the next generation of Centrino notebooks.

Although Montevina was expected to usher in the next-generation WiMAX technology, the apparent delays underlying Clearwire's WiMAX rollout may have pushed Dell to seek an alternative broadband choice.

According to a Dell spokeswoman, the choice to include Ericsson's HSPA technology was as much about compatibility as throughput. If a customer takes a 3G-enabled laptop with him or her to Europe, it might work, "but it's not a seamless transition," Dell's Anne Camden said. The HSPA technology is more uniform throughout the globe, she said.

But it's also true that Dell wanted a broadband solution now. "Mobile broadband delievers a broadband experience today, and that is what we need," Camden said. "We want to deliver a great broadband experience. We're certainly looking at WiMAX support in future products."
Dell is the second major PC vendor to sign on to use Ericsson's HSPA technology, after Lenovo.

According to Ericsson, both Dell's business customers and consumers will use the new modules. Interestingly, Ericsson built in a GPS component into the HSPA modules, meaning that location services will be also be built in.

Market projections indicate that in 2011, approximately 200 million notebooks will ship annually and Ericsson anticipates that 50 percent of those notebooks will feature a built-in HSPA mobile broadband module. Users will increasingly have the option to take their broadband connections with them, delivering on the promise of full service broadband, which is anytime, anywhere access from the screen or device of choice.


Winners of Sweden's 2.6GHz spectrum auction can now look to rapid deployment of advanced mobile networks, with Ericsson poised to deliver end-to-end HSPA and LTE technology. The auction is the first held in the world to license according to the harmonized band arrangement decision by the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT).

As a front runner in allocating the 2.6GHz frequency band, the regulator Swedish Post and Telecom Agency has adopted a harmonized spectrum allocation as defined by CEPT. The allocation will facilitate economies of scale for operators and secure the availability of standardized terminals, allowing roaming between countries for users. Auctions of the 2.6GHz band in Austria, Netherlands, Italy and the UK are scheduled for 2008.
LTE and HSPA, the preferred technologies for the 2.6GHz band, enable a superior, mass-market user experience, enhancing demanding applications such as mobile video, blogging, advanced games, rich multimedia telephony and professional services.

Ericsson's solutions help operators leverage their network investments by providing optimal voice communication and mobile broadband services. Ericsson employs scalable architecture and allows seamless network expansion, providing an efficient migration path to broadband, regardless of the legacy technology in place.

Ericsson's offerings for the 2.6GHz band are based on its multi-standard RBS 3000 and RBS 6000 series. These energy efficient base stations support WCDMA/HSPA/LTE and GSM/EDGE/WCDMA/HSPA/LTE respectively. Ericsson's RBS suite offers the smallest base stations on the market and facilitates low-cost migration and easy network integration. HSPA is already commercially deployed in more than 185 networks in 80 countries, with more than 600 devices launched.