Friday 10 March 2023

How many Cell Sites and Base Stations Worldwide?

I wrote a blog post on this topic nearly three years back on the Operator Watch Blog here. That post is very handy as every few months someone or other asks me about this number. Here is a slightly updated number, though I am not confident on its accuracy. 

Gabriel Brown, analyst at Heavy Reading shares this chart above in the annual online Open RAN Digital Symposium. Based on the chart above, there are 7 million physical sites and 10 million logical sites. As there are many sites hosting infrastructure from multiple operators, the number of logical sites are more than the number of physical sites.

Again, most of the sites have distributed RAN (D-RAN) so there may be one or more base stations (baseband unit or BBU) and each base station can serve one or more radios. See links at the bottom for tutorials on these topics.

China Tower had nearly 2.1 million telecom towers installed with 3.36m tower tenants at end of 2022. An MIIT minister said that China's operators will deploy 600k 5G base stations in 2023, taking total to 2.9m.

The number of 5G radios in India just crossed 100,000 according to latest data released by the Department of Telecommunications. A base station generally manages multiple radios so not sure how many base stations would be there for 5G and even for older Gs.

In South Korea, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT and the mobile communication industry, as of December 2021, had 460,000 5G wireless stations of which, base stations accounted for 94% of the total, or 430,000 units, while repeaters only accounted for 30,000 units, or 6%.

Light Reading reported in September 2022 that there are nearly 419,000 cell sites across the US, according to the newest figures from CTIA. 

China and USA are roughly the same size so you can see how China is ensuring their mobile networks provide the best QoE. It should also be noted that the population of China is over four times that of the USA. On the other hand, India and China have the same population but India is one third the size of China roughly.

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Thursday 16 February 2023

Accelerating O-RAN Adoption Through Open Source

Telecom Infra Project's Fyuz 2022 conference took place in Madrid from 25 to 27 October 2022. It provided a unique experience by combining technology with gastronomy to stir the attendee’s imagination. It was an event where leaders of open and disaggregated network solutions and the wider telecoms industry gathered to share and discuss recipes for success. Many of the sessions on days 1 & 2 discussed how O-RAN Alliance and TIP work with and complement each other.

On the morning of day 2, one of the breakout sessions discussed how to accelerate O-RAN adoption with the help of open source software. The description of the session as follows:

Modern standards often include code-like sections in their specifications. Open source can provide reference implementation testbeds to inform the specifications and facilitate testing and integrating for ecosystem components. The work of the OSC, ONAP, OAI, and ONF can improve the quality of specifications and facilitate the integration and testing of commercial products. 

The following is a playlist of the videos of the session.

The following is the list of speakers and their topics:

  • O-RAN SC Overview: Accomplishments and Future Work by James Li, Deputy Director and Principal Software Architect, Converged Service Solutions, China Mobile.
  • RIC APP Track Updates by Ramesh Sriraman, Global Technology Director, HCL Technologies. 
  • Accelerating O-RAN adoption with OpenAirInterface by  Florian Kaltenberger, Associate Professor, EURECOM and General Secretary, OAI Software Alliance.
  • William Diego Maza, Network Innovation Manager at Orange explains How Open Source Fits into Orange’s Open RAN Strategy.
  • O-RAN SMO Containerization by Pavan Samudrala Senior Member Technical Staff at Aarna Networks.
  • O-RAN SC INF Project that enables building an Open Source O-Cloud for RAN Infrastructure and is delivered by Gil Hellmann, VP, Telecom Solutions Engineering at Wind River.
  • Salvatore D'Oro, Research Assistant Professor, Northeastern University, Boston, USA looks at Experimenting with AI in O-RAN with OpenRAN Gym.

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Friday 3 February 2023

ATIS Webinar on "3GPP Release 18 Overview: A World of 5G-Advanced"

Yesterday, ATIS, one of the seven 3GPP Organizational Partner (OP), delivered on online webinar on 3GPP Release 18 Overview: The World of 5G-Advanced. A summary of the webinar according to ATIS as follows:

As the first release of 5G-Advanced, Release 18 has been progressing well despite the challenges in fully resuming 3GPP face-to-face meetings in 2022.

In this webinar, ATIS provides a high-level summary of 3GPP Release 18: the confirmed Rel-18 timeline, status for the ongoing study and work items, and the newly converted work items from the completed study items. We also give a brief introduction of the preparation for Release 19 aiming for approval of the package of projects in December 2023.

Distinguished speakers included:

  • Wanshi Chen (Qualcomm, Chair of 3GPP RAN Plenary) will provide a view on radio interface and RAN system aspects.
  • Puneet Jain (Intel, Chair of 3GPP System Architecture Group – SA2) will look at whole system capabilities and network aspects.
  • Moderator: Iain Sharp, Principal Technologist, ATIS

The recording of the webinar is embedded below and slides available here.

Just a reminder, 5G covers Release 15, 16 and 17. 5G-Advanced is Release-18 onwards. Ideally, 18, 18 and 20. 6G should start with Release 21. Based on the current industry adoption of 5G, there is no reason to push the next generation on the operators before it's mature and everyone is ready to take it onboard.

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Tuesday 17 January 2023

Authentication and Key Management for Applications (AKMA) based on 3GPP credentials in the 5G System (5GS)

3GPP Release 17 introduced a new feature called AKMA (Authentication and Key Management for Applications), the goal of which is to enable the authentication and generation of application keys based on 3GPP credentials for all UE types in the 5G System, especially IoT devices, ensuring to bootstrap the security between the UE and the applications in the 5G system.

3GPP TR 21.917 has an excellent summary as follows:

Authentication and key management for applications based on 3GPP credential in 5G (AKMA) is a cellular-network-based delegated authentication system specified for the 5G system, helping establish a secure tunnel between the end user and the application server. Using AKMA, a user can log in to an application service only based on the 3GPP credential which is the permanent key stored in the user’s tamper-resistant smart card UICC. The application service provider can also delegate the task of user authentication to the mobile network operator by using AKMA. 

The AKMA architecture and procedures are specified by SA3 in TS 33.535, with the related study showing how its general principles are derived documented in TR 33.835. The AKMA feature introduces a new Network Function into the 5G system, which is the AKMA Anchor Function (AAnF). Its detailed services and API definitions are specified by CT3 in TS 29.535. Earlier generations of cellular networks include two similar standards specified by SA3, which are generic bootstrapping architecture (GBA) and battery-efficient security for very low throughput machine type communication devices (BEST). Since the AKMA feature is deemed as a successor of these systems, the work is launched by SA3 without the involvement of stage 1.

In the latest issue of 3GPP Highlights Magazine, Suresh Nair, 3GPP Working Group SA3 Chair, Saurabh Khare & Jing Ping (Nokia) has explained the AKMA procedure. The article is also available on 3GPP website here. The article lists the following as AKMA advantages:

  • Since the AKMA framework uses authentication and authorization of the UE leveraging the PLMN credentials stored on the USIM, this becomes as strong as the network primary authentication and subsequent keys derived further to UE and Application Function (AF) interface.
  • The Application Functions can leverage the authentication service provided by the AKMA Anchor Function (AAnF) without additional CAPEX and OPEX.
  • The architecture provides a direct interface between the UE and the AF where a customized application-specific interface can be built, including the key management, key lifetime extension, etc.

The Journal of ICT Standardization has a paper on Authentication Mechanisms in the 5G System. It details AKMA and much more. It's a great place to start for anyone new looking to understand different 5G Authentication Mechanisms. 

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Wednesday 4 January 2023

How Many People are Still Unconnected in 2023 and Why?

I hear in many presentations that half the world is still unconnected so we need a solution XYZ. In this post I will explore how many people are really unconnected and why.

GSMA produces an annual report called "The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report". The latest issue from Nov 2022 explains the number of people that are still unconnected because of coverage gap or the usage gap. Quoting from the report:

(click to expand the image)

By the end of 2021, 4.3 billion people were using mobile internet, representing 55% of the world’s population, up from 31% in 2014 (see Figure 1). This translates into almost 300 million people coming online in the past year. Most of the people who started using mobile internet in 2021 came from LMICs (low and middle-income countries), where 94% of the unconnected population live.

By the end of 2021, the share of the world’s population living in areas without mobile broadband coverage stood at 5%, meaning that 400 million people are still not covered by a mobile broadband network. Since 2018, this coverage gap has reduced by only 1 pp a year (see Figure 1), highlighting how the remaining uncovered communities – which are predominantly rural, poor and sparsely populated – are the most challenging to reach in a financially sustainable manner. For example, in least developed countries (LDCs) almost 30% of people living in rural areas are still not covered by a mobile broadband network.

A much larger proportion of the unconnected live in areas already covered by mobile broadband networks. By the end of 2021, 40% of the world’s population (3.2 billion people) were living within the footprint of a mobile broadband network but not using mobile internet. While this usage gap remained relatively unchanged between 2014 and 2019, it declined by 300 million people (or 5 pp) over the past two years. However, the usage gap remains substantial and is now almost eight times the size of the coverage gap. It is worth noting that these numbers are for the total population, some of whom would never be expected to use the internet (e.g. young infants). Indeed, taking adults (18 years old and above) only, the usage gap stands at 25%, a much smaller though still significant gap.

The report further expands the reasons for usage gap as shown below:

(click to enlarge)

As can be seen, the reasons have been grouped in 5 major categories as follows:

  • Literacy and digital skills
    • I do not know how to access the internet on a mobile phone
    • I have difficulties with reading and writing
    • I find it difficult to use a mobile in general (calling, texting or mobile internet)
    • I do not have time to learn how to use the internet on a mobile phone
    • There is nobody to teach or help me to use mobile internet
  • Relevance
    • There is not enough in my own language on the internet
    • I do not find the internet relevant enough for me (not useful or not interesting)
  • Affordability
    • The cost of buying a mobile phone that can access the internet is too high for me
    • The cost of buying data to use the internet on my mobile is too high for me
  • Safety and security
    • I am concerned that I would receive unwanted contact from people online (e.g. scam emails or unwanted messages)
    • I am concerned that it might expose myself or my family to harmful content
    • I am concerned that my identity or other private information will be stolen or misused
  • Access
    • There is limited or no coverage to access the internet in my area
    • Using the internet on my mobile phone is too slow (e.g. connection speeds)
    • My family does not approve of me using the internet on a mobile phone
    • It is hard to find a mobile phone agent or representative to buy mobile internet data from
    • Using the internet on my mobile phone uses too much battery
    • I cannot borrow or pay to use internet on another person’s phone
    • It is hard to find somewhere to buy a mobile phone which is able to connect to the internet

There are many reports of blackmail and extortion cases in India that are linked to mobile phones and internet. You can read about them here and here. These also discourage a lot of people to embrace smartphones, especially women.  

Although women account for close to half the world's population, according to a UN report on gender digital divide, 259 million fewer women have access to the Internet than men in 2022. 

I hope that the next time presenters are talking about the number of unconnected people, they put things in context and mention the connectivity and the usage gap. 

Finally, here is a webinar recording from M4D discussing the latest trends in global connectivity from The State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2022:

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Friday 30 December 2022

Top Blog Posts of 2022

The 3G4G Blog is our most popular blog, running for over 15 years with nearly 15 million views. With 2022 coming to an end, here are the top 10 most viewed posts from 2022. These posts were not necessarily posted this year, so I have added the month and year each of them was posted.

  1. Network Slicing using User Equipment Route Selection Policy (URSP), Nov 2021
  2. 5G & AI Powered Smart Hospitals, Dec 2021
  3. Four Ways 5G Can Improve the Battery Life of User Equipment (UE), Sep 2022
  4. 3GPP Release-18 Work Moves Into Focus as Release-17 Reaches Maturity, Jan 2022
  5. What is RF Front-End (RFFE) and why is it so Important?, Jan 2022
  6. How Multiband-Cells are used for MORAN RAN Sharing, Aug 2022
  7. Key enablers for mass IoT adoption, Oct 2022
  8. Positioning Techniques for 5G NR in 3GPP Release-16, Oct 2020
  9. Impact of 5G on Lawful Interception and Law Enforcement, Dec 2021
  10. 3GPP 5G Non Terrestrial Networks (NTN) Standardization Update, Jan 2022

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Saturday 24 December 2022

3GPP Release 17 Description and Summary of Work Items

An updated (looks final) version of 3GPP TR 21.917: Release 17 Description; Summary of Rel-17 Work Items was added to the archive earlier this month. It is a fantastic summary of all the Rel-17 features. Quoting the executive summary from the specs:

Release 17 is dedicated to consolidate and enhance the concepts and functionalities introduced in the previous Releases, while introducing a small number of brand new Features.

The improvements relate to all the key areas of the previous Releases: services to the industry (the "verticals"), including positioning, private network, etc.; improvements for several aspects of 5G supporting Internet of Things (IoT), both in the Core Network and in the Access Network, of proximity (direct) communications between mobiles, in particular in the context of autonomous driving (V2X), in several media aspects of the user plane related to the entertainment industry (codec, streaming, broadcasting) and also of the support of Mission Critical communications. Furthermore, a number of network functionalities have been improved, e.g. for slicing, traffic steering and Edge-computing.

The Radio interface and the Access Network have been significantly improved too (MIMO, Repeaters, 1024QAM modulation for downlink, etc.). While most of the improvements target 5G/NR radio access (or are access-agnostic), some improvements are dedicated to 4G/LTE access. Such improvements are clearly identified in the title and in the chapters where they appear.

Note: To avoid terminology such as "even further improvements of…", the successive enhancements are now referred to as "Phase n": "phase 2" refers to the first series of enhancements, "Phase 3" to the enhancements of the enhancements, etc. In this transition Release, the "Phase n" way of referring to successive enhancements has not always been used consistently nor enforced.

As for the new Features, the main new Feature of this Release is the support of satellite access, and a dedicated chapter covers this topic.

Note that the classifications, groupings and order of appearance of the Features in this document reflect a number of choices by the editor as there is no "3GPP endorsement" for classification/order. This Executive Summary has also been written by the editor and represents his view.

The following list is from the table of contents to provide you an idea and if it interests you, download the technical report here

5 Integration of satellite components in the 5G architecture
5.1 General traffic (non-IoT)
5.1.1 SA and CT aspects
5.1.2 RAN aspects
5.2 NB-IoT/eMTC support for Non-Terrestrial Networks

6 Services to "verticals"
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Generic functionalities, to all verticals
6.2.1 Network and application enablement for verticals
6.2.1.1 Enhanced Service Enabler Architecture Layer for Verticals
6.2.1.2 Enhancements for Cyber-physical control Applications in Vertical domains (eCAV)
6.2.1.3 Enhancements of 3GPP Northbound Interfaces and APIs
6.2.2 Location and positioning
6.2.2.1 RAN aspects of NR positioning enhancements
6.2.2.2 Enhancement to the 5GC LoCation Services-Phase 2
6.2.3 Support of Non-Public and Private Networks
6.2.3.1 Enhanced support of Non-Public Networks
6.2.3.2 Enhancement of Private Network support for NG-RAN
6.3 Specific verticals support
6.3.1 Railways
6.3.1.1 Enhancements to Application Architecture for the Mobile Communication System for Railways Phase 2
6.3.1.2 Enhanced NR support for high speed train scenario (NR_HST)
6.3.1.2.1 NR_HST for FR1
6.3.1.2.2 NR_HST for FR2
6.3.1.3 NR Frequency bands for Railways
6.3.1.3.1 Introduction of 900MHz NR band for Europe for Rail Mobile Radio (RMR)
6.3.1.3.2 Introduction of 1900MHz NR TDD band for Europe for Rail Mobile Radio (RMR)
6.3.2 Mission Critical (MC) and priority service
6.3.2.1 Mission Critical Push-to-talk Phase 3
6.3.2.2 Mission Critical Data Phase 3
6.3.2.3 Mission Critical security Phase 2
6.3.2.4 Mission Critical Services over 5GS
6.3.2.5 Enhanced Mission Critical Communication Interworking with Land Mobile Radio Systems (CT aspects)
6.3.2.6 Mission Critical system migration and interconnection (CT aspects)
6.2.3.7 MC services support on IOPS mode of operation
6.3.2.8 MCPTT in Railways
6.3.2.9 Multimedia Priority Service (MPS) Phase 2
6.3.3 Drone/UAS/UAV/EAV
6.3.3.1 Introduction
6.3.3.2 General aspects
6.3.3.2.1 5G Enhancement for UAVs
6.3.3.2.2 Application layer support for UAS
6.3.3.3 Remote Identification of UAS
6.3.4 Media production, professional video and Multicast-Broadcast
6.3.4.1 Communication for Critical Medical Applications
6.3.4.2 Audio-Visual Service Production
6.3.4.3 Multicast-Broadcast Services (MBS)
6.3.4.3.1 Multicast-broadcast services in 5G
6.3.4.3.2 NR multicast and broadcast services
6.3.4.3.3 5G multicast and broadcast services
6.3.4.3.4 Security Aspects of Enhancements for 5G MBS
6.3.4.4 Study on Multicast Architecture Enhancements for 5G Media Streaming
6.3.4.5 5G Multicast-Broadcast User Service Architecture and related 5GMS Extensions
6.3.4.6 Other media and broadcast aspects
6.4 Other "verticals" aspects

7 IoT, Industrial IoT, REDuced CAPacity UEs and URLLC
7.1 NR small data transmissions in INACTIVE state
7.2 Additional enhancements for NB-IoT and LTE-MTC
7.3 Enhanced Industrial IoT and URLLC support for NR
7.4 Support of Enhanced Industrial IoT (IIoT)
7.5 Support of reduced capability NR devices
7.6 IoT and 5G access via Satellite/Non-Terrestrial (NTN) link
7.7 Charging enhancement for URLLC and CIoT
7.8 Messaging in 5G

8 Proximity/D2D/Sidelink related and V2X
8.1 Enhanced Relays for Energy eFficiency and Extensive Coverage
8.2 Proximity-based Services in 5GS
8.3 Sidelink/Device-to-Device (D2D)
8.3.1 NR Sidelink enhancement
8.3.2 NR Sidelink Relay
8.4 Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X)
8.4.1 Support of advanced V2X services - Phase 2
8.4.2 Enhanced application layer support for V2X services

9 System optimisations
9.1 Edge computing
9.1.1 Enhancement of support for Edge Computing in 5G Core network
9.1.2 Enabling Edge Applications
9.1.3 Edge Computing Management
9.2 Slicing
9.2.1 Network Slicing Phase 2 (CN and AN aspects)
9.2.2 Network Slice charging based on 5G Data Connectivity
9.3 Access Traffic Steering, Switch and Splitting support in the 5G system architecture; Phase 2
9.4 Self-Organizing (SON)/Autonomous Network
9.4.1 Enhancement of data collection for SON/MDT in NR and EN-DC
9.4.2 Autonomous network levels
9.4.3 Enhancements of Self-Organizing Networks (SON)
9.5 Minimization of service Interruption
9.6 Policy and Charging Control enhancement
9.7 Multi-(U)SIM
9.7.1 Support for Multi-USIM Devices (System and CN aspects)
9.7.2 Support for Multi-SIM Devices for LTE/NR

10 Energy efficiency, power saving
10.1 UE power saving enhancements for NR
10.2 Enhancements on EE for 5G networks
10.3 Other energy efficiency aspects

11 New Radio (NR) physical layer enhancements
11.1 Further enhancements on MIMO for NR
11.2 MIMO Over-the-Air requirements for NR UEs
11.3 Enhancements to Integrated Access and Backhaul for NR
11.4 NR coverage enhancements
11.5 RF requirements for NR Repeaters
11.6 Introduction of DL 1024QAM for NR FR1
11.7 NR Carrier Aggregation
11.7.1 NR intra band Carrier Aggregation
11.7.2 NR inter band Carrier Aggregation
11.8 NR Dynamic Spectrum Sharing
11.9 Increasing UE power high limit for CA and DC
11.10 RF requirements enhancement for NR FR1
11.11 RF requirements further enhancements for NR FR2
11.12 NR measurement gap enhancements
11.13 UE RF requirements for Transparent Tx Diversity for NR
11.14 NR RRM further enhancement
11.15 Further enhancement on NR demodulation performance
11.16 Bandwidth combination set 4 (BCS4) for NR
11.17 Other NR related activities
11.18 NR new/modified bands
11.18.1 Introduction of 6GHz NR licensed bands
11.18.2 Extending current NR operation to 71 GHz
11.18.3 Other NR new/modified bands

12. New Radio (NR) enhancements other than layer 1
12.1 NR Uplink Data Compression (UDC)
12.2 NR QoE management and optimizations for diverse services

13 NR and LTE enhancements
13.1 NR and LTE layer 1 enhancements
13.1.1 High-power UE operation for fixed-wireless/vehicle-mounted use cases in LTE bands and NR bands
13.1.2 UE TRP and TRS requirements and test methodologies for FR1 (NR SA and EN-DC)
13.1.3 Other Dual Connectivity and Multi-RAT enhancements
13.2 NR and LTE enhancements other than layer 1
13.2.1 Enhanced eNB(s) architecture evolution for E-UTRAN and NG-RAN
13.2.2 Further Multi-RAT Dual-Connectivity enhancements
13.2.3 Further Multi-RAT Dual-Connectivity enhancements

14 LTE-only enhancements
14.1 LTE  inter-band Carrier Aggregation
14.2 LTE new/modified bands
14.2.1 New bands and bandwidth allocation for 5G terrestrial broadcast - part 1
14.3 Other LTE bands-related aspects

15 User plane improvements
15.1 Immersive Teleconferencing and Telepresence for Remote Terminals
15.2 8K Television over 5G
15.3 5G Video Codec Characteristics
15.4 Handsets Featuring Non-Traditional Earpieces
15.5 Extension for headset interface tests of UE
15.6 Media Streaming AF Event Exposure
15.7 Restoration of PDN Connections in PGW-C/SMF Set
15.8 Other media and user plane aspects

16 Standalone Security aspects
16.1 Introduction
16.2 Authentication and key management for applications based on 3GPP credential in 5G (AKMA)
16.3 AKMA TLS protocol profiles
16.4 User Plane Integrity Protection for LTE
16.5 Non-Seamless WLAN offload authentication in 5GS
16.6 Generic Bootstrapping Architecture (GBA) into 5GC
16.7 Security Assurance Specification for 5G
16.8 Adapting BEST for use in 5G networks
16.9 Other security aspects

17 Signalling optimisations
17.1 Enhancement for the 5G Control Plane Steering of Roaming for UE in Connected mode
17.2 Same PCF selection for AMF and SMF
17.3 Enhancement of Inter-PLMN Roaming
17.4 Enhancement on the GTP-U entity restart
17.5 Packet Flow Description management enhancement
17.6 PAP/CHAP protocols usage in 5GS
17.7 Start of Pause of Charging via User Plane
17.8 Enhancement of Handover Optimization
17.9 Restoration of Profiles related to UDR
17.10 IP address pool information from UDM
17.11 Dynamic management of group-based event monitoring
17.12 Dynamically Changing AM Policies in the 5GC
17.13 Other aspects

18 Standalone Management Features
18.1 Introduction
18.2 Enhanced Closed loop SLS Assurance
18.3 Enhancement of QoE Measurement Collection
18.4 Plug and connect support for management of Network Functions
18.5 Management of MDT enhancement in 5G
18.6 Management Aspects of 5G Network Sharing
18.7 Discovery of management services in 5G
18.8 Management of the enhanced tenant concept
18.9 Intent driven management service for mobile network
18.10 Improved support for NSA in the service-based management architecture
18.11 Additional Network Resource Model features
18.12  Charging for Local breakout roaming of data connectivity
18.13 File Management
18.14 Management data collection control and discovery
18.15 Other charging and management aspects

If you find them useful then please get the latest document from here.

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Wednesday 30 November 2022

Disaster Roaming in 3GPP Release-17

One way all operators in a country/region/geographic area differentiate amongst themselves is by the reach of their network. It's not in their interest to allow national roaming. Occasionally a regulator may force them to allow this, especially in rural or remote areas. Another reason why operators may choose to allow roaming is to reduce their network deployment costs. 

In case of disasters or emergencies, if an operator's infrastructure goes down, the subscribers of that network can still access other networks for emergencies but not for normal services. This can cause issues as some people may not be able to communicate with friends/family/work. 

A recent example of this kind of outage was in Japan, when the KDDI network failed. Some 39 million users were affected and many of them couldn't even do emergency calls. If Disaster Roaming was enabled, this kind of situation wouldn't occur.

South Korea already has a proprietary disaster roaming system in operation since 2020, as can be seen in the video above. This automatic disaster roaming is only available for 4G and 5G.

In 3GPP Release-17, Disaster Roaming has been specified for LTE and 5G NR. In case of LTE, the information is sent in SIB Type 30 while in 5G it is in SIB Type 15.

3GPP TS 23.501 section 5.40 provides summary of all the other information needed for disaster roaming. Quoting from that:

Subject to operator policy and national/regional regulations, 5GS provides Disaster Roaming service (e.g. voice call and data service) for the UEs from PLMN(s) with Disaster Condition. The UE shall attempt Disaster Roaming only if:

  • there is no available PLMN which is allowable (see TS 23.122 [17]);
  • the UE is not in RM-REGISTERED and CM-CONNECTED state over non-3GPP access connected to 5GCN;
  • the UE cannot get service over non-3GPP access through ePDG;
  • the UE supports Disaster Roaming service;
  • the UE has been configured by the HPLMN with an indication of whether Disaster roaming is enabled in the UE set to "disaster roaming is enabled in the UE" as specified in clause 5.40.2; and
  • a PLMN without Disaster Condition is able to accept Disaster Inbound Roamers from the PLMN with Disaster Condition.

In this Release of the specification, the Disaster Condition only applies to NG-RAN nodes, which means the rest of the network functions except one or more NG-RAN nodes of the PLMN with Disaster Condition can be assumed to be operational.

A UE supporting Disaster Roaming is configured with the following information:

  • Optionally, indication of whether disaster roaming is enabled in the UE;
  • Optionally, indication of 'applicability of "lists of PLMN(s) to be used in disaster condition" provided by a VPLMN';
  • Optionally, list of PLMN(s) to be used in Disaster Condition.

The Activation of Disaster Roaming is performed by the HPLMN by setting the indication of whether Disaster roaming is enabled in the UE to "disaster roaming is enabled in the UE" using the UE Parameters Update Procedure as defined in TS 23.502 [3]. The UE shall only perform disaster roaming if the HPLMN has configured the UE with the indication of whether disaster roaming is enabled in the UE and set the indication to "disaster roaming is enabled in the UE". The UE, registered for Disaster Roaming service, shall deregister from the PLMN providing Disaster Roaming service if the received indication of whether disaster roaming is enabled in the UE is set to "disaster roaming is disabled in the UE".

Check the specs out for complete details. 

From my point of view, it makes complete sense to have this enabled for the case when disaster strikes. Earlier this year, local governments in Queensland, Australia were urging the Federal Government to immediately commit to a trial of domestic mobile roaming during emergencies based on the recommendation by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee. Other countries and regions would be demanding this sooner or later as well. It is in everyone's interest that the operators enable this as soon as possible.

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Tuesday 22 November 2022

Preparing for Metaverse-Ready Networks

Metaverse means different things for different people. If you explain Metaverse with an example, many people understand but they are generally looking at things from a different point of view. A bit like blind men and an elephant. Similarly when we talk about Metaverse-ready networks, it can mean different things to different people, depending on their background.

Back in Oct 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta with a vision to bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses. This was followed by a blog post by Dan Rabinovitsj, Vice President, Meta Connectivity, highlighting the high-level requirements for these metaverse-ready networks. 

At Fyuz 2022, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) announced the launch of Metaverse-Ready Networks Project Group primary whose objective is to accelerate the development of solutions and architectures that enhance network readiness to support metaverse experiences. Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Sparkle, T-Mobile and Telef√≥nica are the initial co-chairs of this Project Group.

Cambridge Wireless' CWIC 2022 discussed 'The Hyperconnected Human'. One of the sessions focussed on 'Living in the Metaverse' which I think was just brilliant. The slides are available from the event page and the video is embedded below:

Coming back to metaverse-ready networks, the final day of Fyuz 2022 conference featured 'The Meta Connectivity Summit' produced by Meta. 

The main stage featured a lot of interesting panel sessions looking at metaverse use cases and applications, technology ecosystem, operator perspectives as well as a talk by CIO of Softbank. The sessions are embedded below. The breakout sessions were not shared. 

Metaverse is also being used as a catch-all for use cases and applications in 6G. While many of the requirements of Metaverse will be met by 5G and beyond applications, 6G will bring in even more extreme requirements which would justify the investments in the Metaverse-Ready Networks.

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Thursday 20 October 2022

EPS Fallback Mechanism in 5G Standalone Networks

Ralf Kreher explained EPS Fallback mechanism in his post earlier, which is still quite popular. This post contains couple of videos that also explain this procedure. 

The first is a very short and simple tutorial from Mpirical, embedded below:

The second is a slightly technical presentation explaining how 5G system can redirect the 5G VoNR capable device to the 4G system to continue for IMS based VoLTE voice call.

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