Wednesday, 15 May 2019

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


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





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Monday, 13 May 2019

China Telecom: An examination of the current industrial trends and an outlook of 6G


Last month I posted about the slides and videos from 6G Wireless Summit. Some of the videos were added later on. The presentation by Dr. Qi Bi, President of China Telecom Technology Innovation Center and the CTO of China Telecom Research Institute, was not shared but the video of the talk is available and it is quite insightful.


Of the many gems from the talk, I wanted to highlight couple of things. One was the ARPU, that Dr. Bi pointed out has remained the same, regardless of the technology. The other being 5G performance targets, some can be achieved, some are achievable at a price and some are just not achievable. This should be taken into account while designing 6G.


Let me know what you think

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Thursday, 9 May 2019

Examples of 5G Use Cases & Applications


I recently did another 5G training for CW (Cambridge Wireless) & UK5G. One of the sections in that was about Use Cases. A very common questions that people ask is what can 5G do that 4G can't. The answer frankly is sometimes not very straightforward.


While you can get a very high speed and very reasonable latency 4G system, it's not necessarily a commonplace. Similarly 5G is a bit over-hyped. There is a lot of potential in the technology but the theory may not translate into practice. Take for example millimeter wave. There is a large amount of bandwidth that can be available to each operator in this spectrum. The laws of physics however restrict how far mmWave can travel and also the fact that mmWave does not penetrate through glass, walls, etc. Does that mean that an indoor 5G system would be required to complement an outdoor one? Would Wi-Fi be able to complement cellular in-building? There are many unanswered questions at the moment.

There is also the debate around 5G icon displayed on your smartphones. When you see 5G, would it really be 5G or just re-branded 4G? Light Reading has explained this issue nicely here.

So while there are many potential applications & use cases that will benefit from 5G in the long run, the answers are not that easily available today. Anyhow, the collection of videos and slides embedded below will provide you with an insight on how different vendors and operators are looking at potentially using 5G.






The latest version of these slides are available to download from UK5G website here.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Non-public networks (NPN) - Private Networks by another name


3GPP TS 22.261, Service requirements for the 5G system; Stage 1 gives a definition of non-public network which is simply defined as 'a network that is intended for non-public use'. Section 6.25 provides more info

Non-public networks are intended for the sole use of a private entity such as an enterprise, and may be deployed in a variety of configurations, utilising both virtual and physical elements. Specifically, they may be deployed as completely standalone networks, they may be hosted by a PLMN, or they may be offered as a slice of a PLMN.

In any of these deployment options, it is expected that unauthorised UEs, those that are not associated with the enterprise, will not attempt to access the non-public network, which could result in resources being used to reject that UE and thereby not be available for the UEs of the enterprise. It is also expected that UEs of the enterprise will not attempt to access a network they are not authorised to access. For example, some enterprise UEs may be restricted to only access the non-public network of the enterprise, even if PLMN coverage is available in the same geographic area. Other enterprise UEs may be able to access both a non-public network and a PLMN where specifically allowed.

The requirements section is interesting too:
  • The 5G system shall support non-public networks.
  • The 5G system shall support non-public networks that provide coverage within a specific geographic area.
  • The 5G system shall support both physical and virtual non-public networks. 
  • The 5G system shall support standalone operation of a non-public network, i.e. a non-public network may be able to operate without dependency on a PLMN.
  • Subject to an agreement between the operators and service providers, operator policies and the regional or national regulatory requirements, the 5G system shall support for non-public network subscribers:
    • access to subscribed PLMN services via the non-public network;
    • seamless service continuity for subscribed PLMN services between a non-public network and a PLMN;
    • access to selected non-public network services via a PLMN;
    • seamless service continuity for non-public network services between a non-public network and a PLMN.
  • A non-public network subscriber to access a PLMN service shall have a service subscription using 3GPP identifiers and credentials provided or accepted by a PLMN.
  • The 5G system shall support a mechanism for a UE to identify and select a non-public network.
    • NOTE: Different network selection mechanisms may be used for physical vs virtual non-public networks.
  • The 5G system shall support identifiers for a large number of non-public networks to minimize collision likelihood between assigned identifiers.
  • The 5G system shall support a mechanism to prevent a UE with a subscription to a non-public network from automatically selecting and attaching to a PLMN or non-public network it is not authorised to select.
  • The 5G system shall support a mechanism to prevent a UE with a subscription to a PLMN from automatically selecting and attaching to a non-public network it is not authorised to select. 
  • The 5G system shall support a change of host of a non-public network from one PLMN to another PLMN without changing the network selection information stored in the UEs of the non-public network.


5G ACIA (5G Alliance for Connected Industries and Automation), a Working Party of ZVEI (German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association) published a White Paper on '5G Non-Public Networks for Industrial Scenarios'.

This paper describes four industrial (IIoT) deployment scenarios for 3GPP-defined 5G non-public networks. The paper also considers key aspects, in particular service attributes that can help to highlight the differences between these scenarios. In contrast to a network that offers mobile network services to the general public, a 5G non-public network (NPN, also sometimes called a private network) provides 5G network services to a clearly defined user organisation or group of organisations.

The PDF of the white paper is available here.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Webinar: Where Edge Meets Cloud by Dean Bubley


Dean Bubley, Outspoken Telecoms & Mobile Industry Analyst, Consultant & Chair/Speaker on Networks, Wireless, Internet, AI & Futurism (as stated in his LinkedIn profile), recently did a webinar on Edge computing for Apis Training. The video recording is available online and embedded below.


Couple of things worth highlighting (but do listen to the webinar, it's got lots of interesting stuff) is as shown in the picture above and below. One of the benefits of Edge is Low latency. If that is the driver then you need to know where your Edge should be because latency will be affected based on the location. Another important point worth remembering is how many Edge-compute facilities can you afford. Latency & the number of facilities are linked to each other so worth thinking about in the beginning as it may not be straightforward to change later.



Anyway, here is the recording of the webinar.



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Monday, 29 April 2019

Evolution of Security from 4G to 5G


Dr. Anand Prasad, who is well known in the industry, not just as CISO of Rakuten Mobile Networks but also as the Chairman of 3GPP SA3, the mobile communications security and privacy group, recently delivered a talk on '4G to 5G Evolution: In-Depth Security Perspective'.


The video of the talk is embedded below and the slides are available here.



An article on similar topic by Anand Prasad, et al. is also available on 3GPP website here.


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Sunday, 21 April 2019

Wi-Fi 6 (a.k.a. 802.11ax) and other Wi-Fi enhancements

Last year I wrote about how Wi-Fi is getting new names. 802.11ax for example, the latest and greatest of the Wi-Fi standards is known as Wi-Fi 6. There were many announcements at MWC 2019 about WiFi 6, some of which I have captured here.

I came across a nice simple explanatory video explaining Wi-Fi 6 for non-technical people. Its embedded below.


The video is actually sponsored by Cisco and you can read more about Wi-Fi 6 and comparison of Wi-Fi 6 and 5G on their pages.

At MWC19, Cisco was showing Passpoint autoconnectivity on Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+ or Note 9 device. According to their blog:

Together, we’re working to provide a better bridge between mobile and Wi-Fi networks. At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona we’ll show the first step in that journey. Anyone using a Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+ or Note 9 device (and those lucky enough to have an early Galaxy S10) over the Cisco-powered guest wireless network will be able to seamlessly and securely connect – without any manual authentication. No portal, no typing in passwords, no picking SSIDs, no credit cards — just secure automatic connectivity.  How?  By using credentials already on your phone, like your operator SIM card.  Even if your operator doesn’t currently support Passpoint autoconnectivity, your Samsung smartphone will!  As a Samsung user, you already have an account for backups and device specific applications. This credential can also be used for a secure and seamless onboarding experience, supporting connectivity to enterprise, public and SP access networks.

It's worth mentioning here that the WPA2 authentication algorithm is being upgraded to WPA3 and we will see broad adoption this year, in conjunction with 802.11ax. See the tweet for details

Broadcom announced their new BCM43752, Dual-Band 802.11ax Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 5 Combo Chip. Motley Fool explains why this is interesting news:

The chip specialist is rounding out its Wi-Fi 6 portfolio to address lower price points.

When Samsung announced its Galaxy S10-series of premium smartphones, wireless chipmaker Broadcom announced, in tandem, that its latest BCM4375 Wi-Fi/Bluetooth connectivity combination chip is powering those new flagship smartphones. That chip was the company's first to support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, which promises significant performance improvements over previous-generation Wi-Fi technology.

The BCM4375 is a high-end part aimed at premium smartphones, meaning that it's designed for maximum performance, but its cost structure (as well as final selling price) is designed for pricier devices that can handle relatively pricey chips.

Broadcom explains that the BCM43752 "significantly reduces smartphone bill of materials by integrating [radio frequency] components such as power amplifiers (PAs) and low-noise amplifiers (LNAs) into the device."

The idea here is simple: Since these components are integrated in the chip that smartphone makers are buying from Broadcom, those smartphone makers won't need to buy those components separately.

In the press release, Broadcom quoted Phil Solis, research director at the market research company IDC, as saying that this chip "reduced costs by going down to single core, 2X2 MIMO for Wi-Fi, integrating the PAs and LNAs, and offering flexible packaging options while keeping the same functionality as their flagship combo chip." 

Broadcom explains that this chip is targeted at "the broader smartphone market where high performance and total solution cost are equally important design decisions."

In addition to these, Intel showed a demo of Wi-Fi 6 at 6GHz. Most people are aware that Wi-Fi uses 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz & 60 GHz band. According to Wi-Fi Now:

So why is that important? Simply because 6 GHz Wi-Fi is likely the biggest opportunity in Wi-Fi in a generation – and because Intel’s demo shows that Wi-Fi chipset vendors are ready to pounce on it. The demonstration was a part of Intel’s elaborate Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) demonstration set at MWC.

“When this enhancement [meaning 6 GHz spectrum] to Wi-Fi 6 rolls out in the next couple of years, it has the potential to more than double the Wi-Fi spectrum with up to 4x more 160 MHz channel deployment options,” said Doron Tal, Intel’s General Manager Wireless Infrastructure Group, in his blog here. Doron Tal emphasises that the prospect of including 6 GHz bands in Wi-Fi for the time being realistically only applies to the US market.

Intel also says that a growing number of currently available PCs already support 160 MHz channels, making them capable of operating at gigabit Wi-Fi speeds. This means that consumers will get ‘a pleasant surprise’ in terms of speed if they invest in a Wi-Fi 6 home router already now, Intel says.

It may however take a while before US regulator FCC finally rules on allowing Wi-Fi to operate in the 6 GHz bands. Right now the FCC is reviewing dozens of response submissions following the issuing of the NPRM for unlicensed 6 GHz operation – and they will likely have their hands full for months while answering a litany of questions as to prospective new 6 GHz spectrum rules.

Also an important part of the 6 GHz story is the fact that the IEEE only weeks ago decided that – as far as the 802.11 standards are concerned – only Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) will be specified to operate in the 6 GHz band. That means 6 GHz will be pristine legacy-free territory for Wi-Fi 6 devices.

That brings us to the Wi-Fi evolution that will be coming after 802.11ax. IEEE 802.11 Extremely High Throughput (EHT) Study Group was formed late last year that will be working on defining the new 802.11be (Wi-Fi 7?) standards. See tweet below:

The interesting thing to note here is that the Wi-Fi spectrum will become flexible to operate from 1 GHz to 7.125 GHz. Of course the rules will be different in different parts of the world. It will also have to avoid interference with other existing technologies like cellular, etc.

According to Fierce Wireless, Huawei has completed a global deployment of its enterprise-class Wi-Fi 6 products under the new AirEngine brand. Speaking at the company’s Global Analyst Summit, Huawei said its Wi-Fi 6 products have been deployed on a large scale in five major regions worldwide.

Back at MWC, Huawei was showing off their Wi-Fi 6 enabled CPEs. See tweet below:

Huawei has many different enterprise networking products that are already supporting Wi-Fi 6 today. You can see the details along with whitepapers and application notes here. In addition, the Top 10 Wi-Fi 6 misconceptions are worth a read, available here.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Slides and Videos from the 1st 6G Wireless Summit - March 2019


The first 6G wireless summit was held in Levi ski resort, in beautiful Lapland. According to the report by University of Oulu, 287 participants from 28 different countries spanning all inhabited continents took part. According to the report:

At the Summit, the participants’ were asked to project themselves into the world in 2030, potentially very different from today. As professor Matti Latva-aho, the director of 6G Flagship at the University of Oulu, and the driving force behind the vision of global 6G, puts it: ”The vision for 2030 is that our society is data-driven, enabled by near-instant, unlimited connectivity. We will be facing a growing and ageing population, demands for increased productivity and the need to connect the billions who are not currently connected. We challenged all of the conference attendants, pressing them to consider this future world beyond 5G and the most essential aspects of 6G research -- a decade in advance.”

Peter Vetter, Head of the Access Research at Nokia Bell Labs and a Bell Labs Fellow, took on Latva-aho’s vision for the future. Vetter says that in the future, the network needs to be thought of as a platform that creates network instances for specific environments. Specialized uses can be easily imagined including hospitals, elderly care, traffic and power plants. At the heart of it all is enhancing the human condition, Vetter says. “6G is still ten years and longer out, and I think that this is a consensus among the 6G Summit participants. However, it is time to start the research right now, because it takes 10-20 years before a new innovation sees a commercial launch,” Vetter says.

For wireless revolution to happen, there needs to be a revolutionary communication technology, a revolutionary application of that technology and a whole ecosystem for continued innovation, says Dr. Wen Tong, Head of Wireless Research and Head of Communications Technologies Laboratories at Huawei. “Wireless as a field has plenty of room for innovation. We need a young generation of researchers and an environment that will sustain continued innovation. This is very important, as without the young generation of research leaders the sustainability of the ecosystem will become problematic,” Dr. Tong explains.

Takehiro Nakamura, SVP and General Manager of the 5G Laboratories in NTT DoCoMo brought up the requirements for many future use cases, such as low latency, reliability, massive connectivity etc. and made a point that most of these will be met with 5G. “Then, there will be new combinations of extreme requirements for specific use cases. We need to provide extreme high reliability for a guaranteed quality of service for industry, peak data rates of over 100 Gbps, gigabyte-rate coverage everywhere, and to have everything run at extreme low energy consumption and cost,” Nakamura says. As Nakamura sees it, the future will have high-quality, real-time VR and AR. Massive IoT for anything and anywhere, like satellites in space. Broadband for flying mobility, which will need high coverage and high reliability.

Qi Bi, President of China Telecom Technology Innovation Center and CTO of China Telecom Research Institute thinks that 6G could be a turning point and a real revolution from 5G also in other terms besides technological. Even if we don’t yet know what 6G will be, it is going to be based on past generations and some traits will be there, Dr. Bi says. As far as gauging 6G research today, Dr. Bi says that the Summit was a great event for percolating a lot of ideas.

Some of the hot topics in 5G and in 6G are machine learning and artificial intelligence. Head of Ericsson Research Magnus Frodigh is a big believer in the coming 5G evolution. As networks are Ericsson’s strong point, Frodigh says it will be very interesting to see what distributed AI is going to bring to the game.

You can read the complete report here.

All the slides that were shared, can be downloaded from here.

Finally, embedded below are the videos that have been made available.


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Friday, 12 April 2019

Slides from Parallel Wireless Webinar: 5G at #MWC19

I hosted a webinar for Parallel Wireless* yesterday about all the stuff related to 5G at Mobile World Congress 2019. The slides are embedded below and can be downloaded from BrightTalk here. You can also listen to the webinar there.




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*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director in Strategic Marketing. 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.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Distributed Massive MIMO using Ericsson Radio Stripes


One of the interesting things that caught my attention in MWC 2019 was the Ericsson Radio Stripes.

Emil Björnson explains it nicely in his blog as to how this works.

Distributed MIMO deployments combine the best of two worlds: The beamforming gain and spatial interference suppression capability of conventional Massive MIMO with co-located arrays, and the bigger chance of being physically close to a service antenna that small cells offer. Coherent transmission and reception from a distributed MIMO array is not a new concept but has been given many names over the years, including Distributed Antenna System and Network MIMO. Most recently, in the beyond-5G era, it has been called ubiquitous Cell-free Massive MIMO communications and been refined based on insights and methodology developed through the research into conventional Massive MIMO.

One of the showstoppers for distributed MIMO has always been the high cost of deploying a large number of distributed antennas. Since the antennas need to be phase-synchronized and have access to the same data, a lot of high-capacity cables need to be deployed, particularly if a star topology is used. 
...

For those who cannot attend MWC, further conceptual details can be found in a recent overview paper on Cell-free Massive MIMO. An even more detailed description of radio stripes can be found in Ericsson’s patent application from 2017.


The paper explains the Radio stripe system design and also lists the advantages of such a system:

The radio stripe system facilitates a flexible and cheap cell-free Massive MIMO deployment. Cheapness comes from many aspects: (i) deployment does not require highly qualified personnel. Theoretically, a radio stripe needs only one (plug and play) connection either to the front-haul network or directly to the CPU; (ii) a conventional distributed massive MIMO deployment requires a star topology, i.e., a separate cable between each APs and a CPU, which may be economically infeasible. Conversely, radio stripe installation complexity is unaffected by the number of antenna elements, thanks to its compute-and-forward architecture. Hence, cabling becomes much cheaper; (iii) maintenance costs are cut down as a radio stripe system offers increased robustness and resilience: highly distributed functionality offer limited overall impact on the network when few stripes being defected; (iv) low heat-dissipation makes cooling systems simpler and cheaper. While cellular APs are bulky, radio stripes enable invisible installation in existing construction elements as exemplified in Fig. below. Moreover, a radio stripe deployment may integrate for example temperature sensors, microphones/speakers, or vibration sensors, and provide additional features such as fire alarms, burglar alarms, earthquake warning, indoor positioning, and climate monitoring and control.


According to the Ericsson post:

One of the inventors and researchers behind the concept, Jan Hederén, Strategist at Ericsson 4G5G Development, says: 

"Although a large-scale installation of distributed MIMO can provide excellent performance, it can also become an impractical and costly "spaghetti-monster" of cables in case dedicated cables are used to connect the antenna elements.

To be easy to deploy, we need to connect and integrate the antenna elements inside a single cable. We call this solution the "radio stripe" which is an easy way to create a large scale distributed, serial, and integrated antenna system." Says, also inventors and researcher behind the concept."

This visionary concept is an extension of how to build and enhance the capability of current networks. The Radio Stripe systems offers, so to say, new colors and flavors in how we increase the performance of mobile networks.

The Radio Stripe vision is focused on improvements to the reach and quality of radio connectivity in the access part of the mobile network. It shares all other resources (transport, baseband, management, core) with current mobile solutions.

I am looking forward to reading a lot more about this kind of approach in the future and probably some deployment videos too.

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