Monday 25 April 2022

Edge Computing Tutorial from Transforma Insights

Jim Morrish, Founding Partner of Transforma Insights has kindly made an in-depth Edge Computing Tutorial for our channel. Slides and video is embedded below.

In this tutorial Jim covers the following topics:

  • Definitions of Edge Computing.
  • How and why Edge Computing is used.
  • Planning for deployment of Edge Computing.
  • Forecasts for Edge Computing.

We would love to know if this answers your questions on this topic. If not, please feel free to post your questions below.  

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Monday 18 April 2022

Holographic Display - The *Wow* Demo from MWC 2022

(click image to see larger picture)

We often associate holograms with futuristic technology and even 6G nowadays but what if holograms could be done in a very simple way just by playing with light? 

At Mobile World Congress 2022, the demo that impressed me most was by a Japanese company called Asukanet. Their ASKA 3D Plate projects images in mid air. This in combination with a 3D sensor allows to manipulate the display without touching. It may be easier to understand this by looking at how this works in the largest convenience store in Japan as shown in the video below:

This is the demo video that I got at MWC

This is us playing with the hologram

While it may not be straightforward, it would complement our smartphones or tablets display nicely. 

You can watch some of the use cases on their page here.

Let me know what you think?

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Monday 11 April 2022

3GPP Release-17 5G NR Reaches Completion

In the last week of March 2022, 3GPP Release 17 reached stage 3 functional freeze. Now the ASN work is ongoing and it will be frozen in June 2022. After that point, any changes will need to be submitted to 3GPP as CR (change request) and would have to be agreed by everyone (or unopposed).

Juan Montojo, Vice President, Technical Standards, Qualcomm Technoloigies, in his blog post reminds us:

Release 17 has been completed with its scope largely intact, despite the fact that the entire release was developed in the midst of a pandemic that hit the world, including 3GPP, right after the scope of the Release was approved in December 2019. 3GPP has been operating through electronic means from the latter part of January 2020 and has yet to get back to face-to-face meetings and interactions. The return to face-to-face meetings is not expected before June 2022. Release 17 completion not only marks the conclusion of the first phase of the 5G technology evolution, but it is a testament to the mobile ecosystem’s resiliency and commitment to drive 5G forward. I couldn’t be more proud of 3GPP, and our team, in particular, as Qualcomm Technologies led the efforts across a wide range of projects. Release 17 delivers another performance boost to the 5G system and continues expanding 5G into new devices, applications, and deployments.

The blog post briefly explains the 'New and enhanced 5G system capabilities' as well as features related to 'Expansion to new 5G devices and applications' as shown in the image on the top.

In addition, 3GPP Rel-17 has many other projects as can be seen in the image above. 3GPP TR 21.917: Release 17 Description; Summary of Rel-17 Work Items has a summary of all the items above but it is still undergoing revision.

Juan also did a webinar on this topic with Fierce Wireless, the video is embedded below:

The slides could be obtained from here.

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Tuesday 22 March 2022

Realizing Zero Trust Architecture for 5G Networks

Over the last couple of years, I keep on coming across Zero-Trust Architecture (ZTA). A simple way to explain is that the standard model of security is known as perimeter security model, where everything within the perimeter can be trusted. In zero-trust (ZT) model, no assumptions is made about trustworthiness and hence it is also sometimes known as perimeterless security model.

This short video from IBM clearly explains what ZT means:

This blog post from Palo Alto Networks also clearly explains ZT:

By definition, Zero Trust is a strategic approach to cybersecurity that secures an organization by eliminating implicit trust and continuously validating every stage of a digital interaction. Zero Trust for 5G removes implicit trust regardless of what the situation is, who the user is, where the user is or what application they are trying to access.

The impact of Zero Trust on network security specifically protects the security of sensitive data and critical applications by leveraging network segmentation, preventing lateral movement, providing Layer 7 threat prevention and simplifying granular user-access controls. Where traditional security models operate under the assumption that everything inside an organization’s perimeter can be trusted, the Zero Trust model recognizes that trust is a vulnerability.

In short, Zero Trust for 5G presents an opportunity for service providers, enterprises and organizations to re-think how users, applications and infrastructure are secured in a way that is scalable and sustainable for modern cloud, SDN-based environments and open-sourced 5G networks. Delivering the Zero Trust Enterprise means taking Zero Trust principles, making them actionable and effectively rebuilding security to keep pace with digital transformation. 

A research paper looking at Intelligent ZTA (i-ZTA) provides an interesting approach to security in 5G and beyond. The paper can be downloaded from here. The abstract states:

While network virtualization, software-defined networking (SDN), and service-based architectures (SBA) are key enablers of 5G networks, operating in an untrusted environment has also become a key feature of the networks. Further, seamless connectivity to a high volume of devices in multi-radio access technology (RAT) has broadened the attack surface on information infrastructure. Network assurance in a dynamic untrusted environment calls for revolutionary architectures beyond existing static security frameworks. This paper presents the architectural design of an i-ZTA upon which modern artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can be developed to provide information security in untrusted networks. We introduce key ZT principles as real-time Monitoring of the security state of network assets, Evaluating the risk of individual access requests, and Deciding on access authorization using a dynamic trust algorithm, called MED components. The envisioned architecture adopts an SBA-based design, similar to the 3GPP specification of 5G networks, by leveraging the open radio access network (O-RAN) architecture with appropriate real-time engines and network interfaces for collecting necessary machine learning data. The i-ZTA is also expected to exploit the multi-access edge computing (MEC) technology of 5G as a key enabler of intelligent MED components for resource-constraint devices.

Ericsson Technology Review covered Zero Trust in 5G Networks in one of their issues. Quoting from the article:

The 3GPP 5G standards define relevant network security features supporting a zero trust approach in the three domains: network access security, network domain security and service-based architecture (SBA) domain security. 

The network access security features provide users with secure access to services through the device (mobile phone or connected IoT device) and protect against attacks on the air interface between the device and the radio node. Network domain security includes features that enable nodes to securely exchange signaling data and user data, for example, between radio and core network functions (NFs).

The 5G SBA is built on web technology and web protocols to enable flexible and scalable deployments using virtualization and container technologies and cloud-based processing platforms. SBA domain security specifies the mechanism for secure communication between NFs within the serving network domain and with other network domains. 

While the new requirements and functionality introduced in the 5G specifications are already aligned with many of the zero trust tenets. It is already evident, however, that further technology development, standardization and implementation are needed in areas such as policy frameworks, security monitoring and trust evaluation to support the adoption of zero trust architecture in new telecom environments that are distributed, open, multi-vendor and/or virtualized.

While various technologies can support organizations in adhering to the guiding principles of zero trust as part of their total active defense strategy, it is important to remember that technology alone will never be sufficient to realize the full potential of zero trust. Successful implementation of a network based on zero trust principles requires the concurrent implementation of information security processes, policies and best practices, as well as the presence of knowledgeable security staff. Regardless of where a CSP is in its transition toward a zero trust architecture, the three pillars of people, processes and technology will continue to be the foundation of a robust security architecture.

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Tuesday 15 March 2022

5G Network Slicing for Beginners

Network Slicing is a hot topic on our blogs and it looks like people can't get enough of it. So here is a short introductory tutorial from Wray Castle.

The video embedded below explores what Network Slicing is, how it is used, and how it is deployed in the 5G network, as well as (briefly) the role of MEC (Multi Access Edge Computing) in support of specific use cases and potential slice deployments.

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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 24 February 2022

IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) Support for Service Based Architecture (SBA)

I looked at IMS briefly in my LTE voice tutorial here. The Nokia Lectures covered IMS in-depth in part 5 of the video. I recently came across a short overview of IMS for SBA. You can see our old tutorial on Service Based Architecture (SBA) for 5G Core (5GC) here.

I came across this short video from Mpirical that nicely explains the IMS support for SBA. It's embedded below. The related posts at the bottom may also be worth checking out.

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Tuesday 15 February 2022

What Is the Role of AI and ML in the Open RAN and 5G Future?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have moved on from just being buzzwords to bringing much needed optimization and intelligence in devices, networks and infrastructure; whether on site, on the edge or in the cloud.

Qualcomm has been very active in talking about AI/ML in webinars and on their site. A detailed blog post looking at 'What’s the role of artificial intelligence in the future of 5G and beyond?' is available here. It was posted in time for a Light Reading webinar where Gabriel Brown, Principal Analyst – Mobile Networks and 5G, Heavy Reading and Tingfang Ji, Senior Director, Engineering - Wireless R&D, Qualcomm discuss the topic. The video is embedded below and slide deck is available here.

Louis Scialabba, Senior Director of Marketing at Mavenir, looking at AI and Analytics spoke at Layer 123 conference on the topic, 'AI/ML for Next Gen 5G Mobile Networks'. His talk is embedded below and a blog post by him on the topic, 'The RIC Opens a New World of Opportunities for CSPs' is available here.

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Tuesday 8 February 2022

Extending 5G TDD Coverage With XDD (Cross Division Duplex)

A new 3GPP Technical report, TR 38.858 (draft not available yet) will look at Study on evolution of NR duplex operation (FS_NR_duplex_evo) in Rel-18. RP-213591 provides a justification on why this new duplex evolution needs to be studied:

TDD is widely used in commercial NR deployments. In TDD, the time domain resource is split between downlink and uplink. Allocation of a limited time duration for the uplink in TDD would result in reduced coverage, increased latency and reduced capacity. As a possible enhancement on this limitation of the conventional TDD operation, it would be worth studying the feasibility of allowing the simultaneous existence of downlink and uplink, a.k.a. full duplex, or more specifically, subband non-overlapping full duplex at the gNB side within a conventional TDD band.

The NR TDD specifications allow the dynamic/flexible allocation of downlink and uplink in time and CLI handling and RIM for NR were introduced in Rel-16. Nevertheless, further study may be required for CLI handling between the gNBs of the same or different operators to enable the dynamic/flexible TDD in commercial networks. The inter-gNB CLI may be due to either adjacent-channel CLI or co-channel-CLI, or both, depending on the deployment scenario. One of the problems not addressed in the previous releases is gNB-to-gNB CLI.

This study aims to identify the feasibility and solutions of duplex evolution in the areas outlined above to provide enhanced UL coverage, reduced latency, improved system capacity, and improved configuration flexibility for NR TDD operations in unpaired spectrum. In addition, the regulatory aspects need to be examined for deploying identified duplex enhancements in TDD unpaired spectrum considering potential constraints.

Samsung has a technical white paper on this topic which they refer to as XDD (Cross Division Duplex), available here. The abstract says:

XDD (Cross Division Duplex) is one of the key technologies that Samsung is proposing as part of Rel-18 NR (5G-Advanced) to address the coverage issue observed during the initial phase of 5G deployment. XDD provides improved coverage, capacity, and latency compared to conventional TDD. Instead of relying solely on orthogonal time resources for DL-UL separation as in TDD, XDD allows simultaneous DL-UL operation by using non-overlapping frequency resources within a carrier bandwidth.

This white paper provides a high level description of XDD concept, benefits, and implementation challenges. First, an overview of XDD including a comparison with conventional TDD and FDD is provided. Next, the implementation challenges of XDD especially at the base station to handle self-interference mitigation is provided. Furthermore, several features that we consider critical in realizing XDD in actual deployment scenarios are provided along with some performance results. Finally, Samsung’s view on XDD for the next phase of 5G (5G-Advanced) is provided.

An open access IEEE Access paper, 'Extending 5G TDD Coverage With XDD', written by Samsung researchers provides a much more detailed insight into this topic. The abstract says:

In this paper, an advanced duplex scheme called cross-division duplex (XDD) is proposed to enhance uplink (UL) coverage in time division duplex (TDD) carriers by utilizing self-interference cancellation (SIC) capability at a base station. With XDD, it is possible to combine TDD’s ability to efficiently handle asymmetric UL and downlink (DL) traffic with frequency division duplex’s coverage advantage. To do so, XDD simultaneously operates UL and DL on the same TDD carrier but on different frequency resources. Such operation leads to severe interference on the received UL signal at the base station which requires two levels of SIC implementation; antenna and digital SIC. More than 50 dB of interference is removed through the antenna SIC using electromagnetic barriers between the transmitting and receiving antennas. The remaining interference is removed by the digital SIC based on estimating the non-linear channel of the circuit at the receiver baseband. It is verified by simulation and analysis that with the proposed XDD, the UL coverage can be improved by up to 2.37 times that of TDD. To check the feasibility of XDD, a Proof-of-Concept was developed where it was observed that the benefits of XDD can indeed be realized using the proposed SIC techniques

In the segment of the video embedded below, Dr. Hyoung Ju Ji, Principal Engineer, Samsung Electronics, Korea explains how XDD is a Realistic Option for Full Duplex Realization.

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Tuesday 1 February 2022

Bug hunting in 5G Networks and Devices

Pentests or Penetration testing is ethical hacking that is an authorized simulated cyberattack on a computer system, performed to evaluate the security of the system. They are performed to identify weaknesses or vulnerabilities, including the potential for unauthorized parties to gain access to the system's features and data, as well as strengths, enabling a full risk assessment to be completed.

S├ębastien Dudek, Founder and Security Engineer at PentHertz did a presentation at No Hat conference 2021. The outline of his talk says:

Expected to be released in 2021, we only see the early stage of 5G-NR connectivity in rare places around the world and we cannot talk yet about "real 5G" as current installations are put on the Non-Standalone mode (NSA) using 4G infrastructures. But in the meantime, it is important to get prepared for this upcoming technology and ways we can practically simulate real-world attacks in the future, with Standalone (SA) mode-capable devices and networks. In this presentation, we will see how to conduct practical security assignments on future 5G SA devices and networks, and how to investigate the protocol stack. To begin the presentation, we briefly present the differences with 2G-5G in terms of security applied to security assessment contexts, i.e. the limit we are left with, and how to circumvent them. Then we see how a 5G-NR security testbed looks like, and discuss what type of bugs are interesting to spot. Third, we make more sense about some attacks on devices by showing attacks that could be performed on the core side from the outside. Finally, we briefly introduce how we could move forward by looking at the 5G protocol stack and the state of the current mean.

Slides are available here and the video is embedded below:

A post on their website also looks at penetration of standalone 5G core. The post contains a video as well which can also be directly accessed here.

A new white paper from 5G Americas provides nearly annual updates around the topic of security in wireless cellular networks. The current edition addresses emerging challenges and opportunities, making recommendations for securing 5G networks in the context of the evolution to cloud-based and distributed networks. 

Additionally, the white paper provides insight into securing 5G in private, public, and hybrid cloud deployment models. Topics such as orchestration, automation, cloud-native security, and application programming interface (API) security are addressed. The transition from perimeter-based security to a zero-trust architecture to protect assets and data from external and internal threats is also discussed.

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