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Latest news and information on 3G, 4G, 5G wireless and technologies in general.

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    Some more interesting presentations from the Signalling Focus Day of LTE World Summit. Good overview of market by Greg Collins of Exact ventures is embedded below.





    A good presentation by Tieto where they presented some good case studies for Diameter Interworking. Presentation embedded below:




    The final presentation by Diametriq is very interesting because they presented interesting way of mining the control plane. Thee case study presented was of a 'silent roamer' who is not going to spend money while roaming because he is not sure how much money is spent. This can be exploited by the operator to offer flat packages, 1 day pass, etc. to get some revenue from these roamers. Their presentation included some animations that cannot be shown while being embedded. Please download the PPT from Slideshare to view them.



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  • 06/26/14--04:30: LTE-Broadcast: Reality check

  • When I wrote my blog post about why the 'Cellular Broadcast may fail again' for the Cisco SP Mobility blog, I did not realise that this would become so popular and there would be so many people writing to me to tell me why and how my assumptions are wrong and how they plan to succeed. I have not yet received a successful reasoning on why people disagree with my article and where I am wrong.

    In the Video Over LTE Summit just concluded, I did not get a chance to see all the LTE-B presentations but the ones that I saw, were not convincing enough, except for one by Erol Hepsaydir, of '3' UK, that I explain in the end.

    Here is my presentation from that event:



    The conclusion is not self-explanatory so here it is in my own words.


    I am not opposed to the operators trying LTE-B out. I wish more operators do try and hopefully we can have a model where the technology can succeed. When operators succeed in a new technology, it benefits the whole mobile ecosystem directly or indirectly. The operators have to be prepared that they may not see any return. This should not discourage them because the learnings from this may benefit in something else. The customer and their loyalty is more important. We should try and provide them with a value addition rather than think of this as a new source of revenue. People are not interested in watching the same stuff they watch on the terrestrial TV on their small devices; unique and maybe tailored content would help. Finally, don't make the billing model too complex so the users shy away from trying this new technology.

    The final presentation of the event was delivered by Erol Hepsaydir of the UK operator '3'. He said that from their point of view, they are trying to have eMBMS to create additional capacity in the network. If they know that many people watch news on different apps and websites, they can offer this as a free service over broadcast. What this means is that they have gained customer loyalty and also free up the capacity for other users who are doing other data related activities. I think this is a very clever approach. He did mention though that they are only in the simulation stages and have not tried it out practically. 

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  • 06/27/14--05:00: Voice over WiFi (VoWiFi)

  • One of the changes that I have noticed in the last year is that some of the operators who have been opposed to WiFi in the past have not only embraced it but are now trying to monopolise the same WiFi spectrum they billed as interference prone. Personally, I think the future of Wi-Fi is not just offloading but also working together with LTE. We are billing this as 4.5G and have recently produced a whitepaper, available here.

    There has been a flurry of activity on Voice over Wi-Fi in the last few months. Recently the UK operators '3' and EE announced that they are both allowing WiFi calling and SMS. While '3' customers will have to use an OTT app for the time being, EE customers will experience this seamlessly.

    I heard Taqua in the recent LTE World Summit talking about their solution and have offered to share their slides (embedded below). It was interesting to find out while having a discussion with them that their solution supports 'hand-in' and 'hand-out'. This takes away a major advantage that Small Cells offered, seamless roaming. Anyway, feel free to let me know of you have any opinion on this topic



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    Here is a presentation by Andy Sutton, EE from the recent LTE World Summit 2014. Unfortunately the event was too big to be present in all presentations but in his own words, "As always the bullet points don’t tell the full story as there’s considerable narrative that goes with this, however it does stress some major themes."

    Slides embedded below, can be downloaded from Slideshare:



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    I was glad to hear this case study by Mike Stacey where they have a WiMAX network already deployed and are in process of moving to TD-LTE. Along with the technical issues there are also business and customer issues that need to be taken into account while doing this technology swap. Surprisingly 3.5GHz is also not a very popular band because there are very few deployments in this spectrum. On the other hand, most of the companies worldwide that have been able to get their hands on this spectrum, generally got a big chunk (60-100MHz) so they would be able to do CA easily (bar the technical issues of Intra-band interference).

    Anyway, the presentation is embedded below. Hope you find it useful. If you know of similar experiences, please feel free to add them in the comments.



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    One very interesting presentation from the LTE World Summit was about Improving the cell capacity by using unlicensed and shared spectrum opportunistically. Kamran Etemad is a senior advisor to FCC & UCMP and even though he was presenting this in his personal capacity, it reflected some interesting views that are quite prevalent in the USA.

    If you don't know about Dynamic Spectrum Access Schemes, I wrote a post on the Small Cells blog here. The slide above is quite interesting as it shows the possibility of a 'Generalized' Carrier Aggregation in 3GPP Release-13. Personally, we believe that LTE + WiFi working together will be far more successful than LTE + LTE-U (unlicensed). As the blog readers would be aware, we have been pushing our vision of LTE + Wi-Fi working together; which we are calling as 4.5G. In case if you have not seen, our whitepaper is here.

    The presentation is embedded below for reference:



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    This presentation by Moray Rumney of Agilent (Keysight) in Cambridge Wireless, Future of Wireless International conference takes a different angle at what the targets for different technologies have been and based on that what should be the targets for 5G. In fact he has an opinion on M2M and Public safety as well and tries to combine it with 5G. Unfortunately I wasnt at this presentation but from having heard Moray speak in past, I am sure it was a thought provoking presentation.



    All presentations from the Future of Wireless International Conference (FWIC) are available here.

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    Back in May, I had the pleasure of listening to a talk by Richard Pattison from Sky News where he talked about how they have managed to start replacing their Satellite trucks (which are extremely expensive to own and run) with the new solutions using LTE.

    One of the advantage of LTE over 3G/HSPA+ is that the uplink is as good as the downlink which wasn't really the case in earlier generations. What this means is that you can use your phone to do a live video call and use that for broadcasting of real time information. The Sky News Tech team has some interesting tweets on this.




    An example of the video quality could be seen from this clip here:

    The Dejero App is an interesting one that can allow bonding of Cellular + WiFi and provide a combined data rate.


    I was having a discussion yesterday on Twitter because we term this bonded cellular and WiFi as 4.5G. There are many proprietary solutions available for using them together but the standardised one is coming in standards soon.

    Sky news have managed to set up new standards by having 12 feeds simultaneously broadcasting  (all based on Iphones and Ipads) during the European elections.



    All this has been possible due to an amazing 4G network by EE and being able to negotiate a 500GB (0.5TB) data package.


    Anyway, you can read the complete paper below:




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  • 07/20/14--12:39: LA-LTE and LAA

  • Recently came across a presentation by Ericsson where they used the term LA-LTE. I asked a few colleagues if they knew or could guess what it means and they all drew blank. I have been blogging about Unlicensed LTE (a.k.a. LTE-U) on the Small Cells blog here. This is a re-branding of LTE-U

    LA-LTE stands for 'Licensed Access' LTE. In fact the term that has now been adopted in a recent 3GPP workshop (details below) is Licensed Assisted Access (LAA).

    Couple of months back I blogged in detail about LTE-U here. Since then, 3GPP held a workshop where some of the things I mentioned got officially discussed. In case you want to know more, details here. I have to mention that the operator community is quite split on whether this is a better approach or aggregating Wi-Fi with cellular a better approach.

    The Wi-Fi community on the other hand is unhappy with this approach. If cellular operators start using their spectrum than it means less spectrum for them to use. I wrote a post on the usage of Dynamic Spectrum Access (DSA) Techniques that would be used in such cases to make sure that Wi-Fi and cellular usage does not happen at the same time, leading to interference.

    Here is a presentation from the LTE-U workshop on Use cases and scenarios, not very detailed though.



    Finally, the summary presentation of the workshop. As it says on the final slide "The current SI proposal focuses on carrier aggregation operations and uses the acronym LAA (Licensed Assisted Access)", you would be seeing more of LAA.



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    Its very interesting to see all the companies proposing very interesting concepts on the 1st of April. I was told that not everyone knows what April Fools day means so here is the link to Wikipedia.

    Samsung Fly-Fi: Samsung has come up with some interesting ideas, the first being Wi-Fi for everyone powered by Pigeons. They have a website here with Video.

    Power of Pigeons


    Looks like since we have Pigeons everywhere, so they are always used in one way or the other. The best prank ever in my opinion was the PigeonRank by Google, back in 2002. I spent a few hours that day trying to figure out how they were actually doing it.

    Smart Wear was always going to be the big thing. Quite a few smart wearables this year.

    Bonobos has done a good job with with TechStyle. See video below:



    Samsung has a glove called Samsung Fingershere. The best thing I liked was 'Talk to the Hand'

    Samsung Fingers_Talk to the hand

    HTC came up with similar concept called Gluuv



    Toshiba's DiGiT is as interesting. See the video:


    Virgin Mobile, Canada has come up with SmartKicks. See here.



    Roku Watch is not too bad:


    Virgin America even convinced Sir Richard Branson to appear in the April Fools ad along with Tony Faddell, the CEO of Nest. Funny Youtube video here.

    Sony Power Food was just okay, video here.

    Toshiba Spehere is a funny Gaming concept, see here.

    Nokia reviewed its most popular phone 3310 with modern day features here. Coloured screen with 41Megapixel camera.

    Google wants to Emojify the webhere.

    Google Japan has a magic handhere.

    Selfiebot by Orbotix is a cool concept, here.

    Twitter Helmet didnt make me laugh though. See here.

    Is there some others that I missed? Please feel free to add it in the comments.

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    Its been a while I wrote anything on Positioning. The network architecture for the positioning entities can be seen from my old blog post here
    Qualcomm has recently released a whitepaper on the OTDOA (Observed Time Difference Of Arrival) positioning. Its quite a detailed paper with lots of technical insights.

    There is also signalling and example of how reference signals are used for OTDOA calculation. Have a look at the whitepaper for detail, embedded below.




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    I am sure we all know that LTE bands have been growing, every few months. All the 32 bands for FDD have now been defined. The 33rd band is where TDD bands start. What if we now want to have more FDD bands? Well, we will have to wait to fix that problem.

    Picture Source: LG Space

    Anyway, as can be seen in the above picture, some of the frequency bands overlap with each other. Now you may have a UE thats camped onto one frequency that is overlapping in different bands. Wouldn't it be useful to let the UE know that you are camped in more than one band and you can change it to another frequency which may be a different band but you were already on it in the first place (it may sound confusing).

    Here is a much simpler table from the specs that show that when a UE is camped on band 5, it may also be camped on bands 18, 19 and 26. Remember the complete bands may not be overlapping but may only be partially overlapping.

    An example could be Sprint that used Band 38 TDD (BW 50MHz) for its legacy devices but is now able to use Band 41 (BW 194MHz) as well. The legacy devices may not work on Band 41 but the new devices can use much wider band 41. So the transmission would still say Band 38 but the new devices can be informed of Band 41 using the System Information Block Type 1. AT&T has a similar problem with Band 12 and 17.

    Even though this was implemented in Release-8, it came as a part of Late Non-critical extensions. Its a release independent feature but not all UE's and Network have implemented it. The UE indicates the support for MFBI using the FGI (Feature Group Indicator) bits. 

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    Its been a while since we saw any new UE categories coming but then I noticed some new categories came earlier this year for Release-11. The latest 3TPP TS 36.306 have these new Category 9 and Category 10 as follows.
    For those who are aware of the categories of the UE's being used in practice may be aware that the most common ones have been 'Category 3' with 100Mbps max in DL and 50Mbps max in UL. The new 'Cat. 4' devices are becoming more common as more manufacturers start bringing these devices to the market. They support 150Mbps max in DL and 50Mbps max in UL. Neither of them supports Carrier Aggregation.

    Having said that, a lot of Cat. 4 devices that we may use in testing actually supports carrier aggregation. The next most popular devices soon to be hitting the market is Cat. 6 UE's with 300Mbps max in DL and 50Mbps max in UL. Category 6 UE's support 2 x 20MHz CA in downlink hence you can say that they can combine 2 x Cat. 4 UE's in DL but they do not support CA in uplink hence the UL part remains the same as Cat. 4 device.

    Cat. 9 and 10 are interesting case as Car. 8 was already defined earlier to meet IMT-A requirement as shown below.


    To meet IMT-A requirements of peak data rates of 1Gbps in UL and DL, LTE-A had to define category 8 with 5 band CA and 8x8 MIMO to be able to provide 3Gbps max in DL and 1.5Gbps max in UL. No one sees this device becoming a reality in the short term.

    The new categories will have to be defined from Cat. 9 onwards.

    Cat. 9 allows 3 x Cat. 4 device CA in the downlink to have the maximum possible downlink data rates of 450Mbps but there is no CA in the uplink. As a result, the UL is still 50Mbps max. Cat. 10 allows carrier aggregation in the uplink for upto 2 bands which would result in 100Mbps max in UL.

    The LG space website gives a better representation of the same information above which is shown below:



    A UE category 9 transmits Rel 11 category 9 + Rel 10 category 6 + Rel 8 category 4

    With Release-12 due to be finalised later in the year, we may see new UE categories being defined further.

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    Wireless charging has been in news recently with the discovery that Apple has found a brilliant way to wireless charge iPhones, iPads and iWatches. While we continue to wait for the details of that one, I thought its worth providing a bit of round up from the LTE World Summit not so long back. A summary of market by IHS is embedded as follows:



    Qi (pronounced Chee), probably the most well known standard, not just because its already available in devices like Google Nexus 5 phone and Nexus 7 tablet  but also because its 1.2 standard allows devices to be charged from some distance away. They had an excellent presentation outlining their progress and technology as follows:





    Finally, any discussion on Wireless Charging wont be complete without the mention of other big player, Alliance For Wireless Power (A4WP). The above shows a comparison between different standards and the presentation from A4WP is as follows:




    Finally, if you haven't seen our concept of futuristic 'Smart Batteries' (crossed 10K+ views) then check it out here.


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    Device-to-device is a popular topic. I wrote a post, back in March on LTE-Radar (another name) which has already had 10K+ views. Another post in Jan, last year has had over 13K views. In the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of 'proximity services via LTE device broadcast'


    While there are some interesting use cases in his presentation (embedded below), I am not sure that they will necessarily achieve success overnight. While it would be great to have a standardised solution for applications that rely on proximity services, the apps have already come up with their own solutions in the meantime.

    Image iTunes

    The dating app Tinder, for example, finds a date near where you are. It relies on GPS and I agree that some people would say that GPS consumes more power but its already available today.



    Another example is "Nearby Friends" from Facebook that allows to find your friends if they are nearby, perfect for a day when you have nothing better to do.

    With an App, I can be sure that my location is being shared only for one App. With a standardised solution, all my Apps have info about location that I may not necessarily want. There are pros and cons, not sure which will win here.

    Anyway, the complete presentation is embedded below:



    For anyone interested in going a bit more in detail about D2D, please check this excellent article by Dr. Alastair Bryon, titled "Opportunities and threats from LTE Device-to-Device (D2D) communication"

    Do let me know what you think about the use cases.

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    Its been a while since I wrote about Public Safety and Mission Critical communications, so here is a quick summary.


    Iain Sharp have a good overview of whats happening in the standards in the LTE World Summit back in June. Embedded below is his complete presentation.



    There is another slightly older presentation that I also thought was worthwhile adding here.

    There is a lot of discussion centred around the use of commercial networks for mission critical communications, mainly die to cost. While this may make sense to an extent, there should be procedures put in place to give priority to public safety in case of emergency.



    We are planning to run a one day training in Jan 2015 on public safety. If this is of interest to you then please get in touch with me for more details.

    x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x-o-x
    After the post someone brought these links to my attention so I am adding them below:


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    There was an interesting discussion on Twitter that has been storified by Keith Dyer. Lets start by having a quick look at the C-RAN architecture that features in the discussion.


    There are couple of excellent C-RAN presentations for anyone interested. This one by EE (with 9K+ views) and this from Orange (with 19K+ views).

    Anyway, here is the story:


    For anyone interested in exploring the discussion further, The Mobile Network has a more detailed comments here.

    There are also an interesting article worth reading:


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    Four major Release-13 projects have been approved now that Release-12 is coming to a conclusion. One of them is Full dimension MIMO. From the 3GPP website:

    Leveraging the work on 3D channel modeling completed in Release 12, 3GPP RAN will now study the necessary changes to enable elevation beamforming and high-order MIMO systems. Beamforming and MIMO have been identified as key technologies to address the future capacity demand. But so far 3GPP specified support for these features mostly considers one-dimensional antenna arrays that exploit the azimuth dimension. So, to further improve LTE spectral efficiency it is quite natural to now study two-dimensional antenna arrays that can also exploit the vertical dimension.
    Also, while the standard currently supports MIMO systems with up to 8 antenna ports, the new study will look into high-order MIMO systems with up to 64 antenna ports at the eNB, to become more relevant with the use of higher frequencies in the future.
    Details of the Study Item can be found in RP-141644.
    There was also an interesting post by Eiko Seidel in the 5G standards group:

    The idea is to introduce carrier and UE specific tilt/beam forming with variable beam widths. Improved link budget and reduced intra- and inter-cell interference might translate into higher data rates or increased coverage at cell edge. This might go hand in hand with an extensive use of spatial multiplexing that might require enhancements to today’s MU-MIMO schemes. Furthermore in active antenna array systems (AAS) the power amplifiers become part of the antenna further improving the link budget due to the missing feeder loss. Besides a potentially simplified installation the use of many low power elements might also reduce the overall power consumption. 

    At higher frequencies the antenna elements can miniaturized and their number can be increased. In LTE this might be limited to 16, 32 or 64 elements while for 5G with higher frequency bands this might allow for “massive MIMO”. 

    WG: Primary RAN1 (RP-141644) 
    started 06/2014 (RAN#64), completion date 06/2015 (RAN#68)
    work item might follow the study with target 12/2015 (RAN#70) 

    Supporting companies
    Samsung/NSN, all major vendors and operators 

    Based on RAN1 Rel.12 Study Item on 3D channel model (TR36.873) 

    Objectives 
    Phase 1: antenna configurations and evaluation scenarios Rel.12 performance evaluation with 3D channel model 

    Phase 2: study and simulate FD-MIMO enhancement identify and evaluate techniques, analyze specification impact performance evaluation for 16, 32, 64 antenna elements enhancements for SU-/MU-MIMO (incl. higher dimension MU-MIMO) (keep the maximum number of layer per UE unchanged to 8)


    An old presentation from Samsung is embedded below that will provide more insight into this technology:



    Related post:


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    I am sure many people would have heard of ET (Envelope Tracking) by now. Its a technology that can help reduce the power consumption by our mobile devices. Less power consumption means longer battery life, especially with all these new features coming in the LTE-A devices.
    As the slide says, there are already 12 phones launched with this technology, the most high profile being iPhone 6/6 Plus. Here is a brilliant presentation from Nujira on this topic:



    For people who are interested in testing this feature may want to check this Rohde&Schwarz presentation here.

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