Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

Latest news and information on 3G, 4G, 5G wireless and technologies in general.
    0 0

    Its been a while since I wrote about LTE-U / LAA on this blog. I have written a few posts on the small cells blog but they seem to be dated as well. For anyone needing a quick refresher on LTE-U / LAA, please head over to IoTforAll or ShareTechNote. This post is not about the technology per se but the overall ecosystem with LTE-U / LAA (and even Multefire) being part of that.

    Lets recap the market status quickly. T-Mobile US has already got LTE-U active and LAA was tested recently. SK Telecom achieved 1Gbps in LAA trials with Ericsson. AT&T has decided to skip the non-standard LTE-U and go to standards based LAA. MTN & Huawei have trialled LAA for in-building in South Africa. All these sound good and inspires confidence in the technology however some observations are worrying me.


    Couple of years back when LTE-U idea was conceived, followed by LAA, the 5GHz channels were relatively empty. Recently I have started to see that they are all filling up.

    Any malls, hotels, service stations or even big buildings I go to, they all seem to be occupied. While supplemental downlink channels are 20MHz each, the Wi-Fi channels could be 20MHz, 40MHz, 80MHz or even 160MHz.

    On many occasions I had to switch off my Wi-Fi as the speeds were so poor (due to high number of active users) and go back to using 4G. How will it impact the supplemental downlink in LTE-U / LAA? How will it impact the Wi-Fi users?

    On my smartphone, most days I get 30/40Mbps download speeds and it works perfectly fine for all my needs. The only reason we would need higher speeds is to do tethering and use laptops for work, listen to music, play games or watch videos. Most people I know or work with dont require gigabit speeds at the moment.

    Once a user that is receiving high speeds data on their device using LTE-U / LAA creates a Wi-Fi hotspot, it may use the same 5GHz channels as the ones that the network is using for supplemental downlink. How do you manage this interference? I am looking forward to discussions on technical fora where users will be asking why their download speeds fall as soon as they switch Wi-Fi hotspot on.

    The fact is that in non-dense areas (rural, sub-urban or even general built-up areas), operators do not have to worry about the network being overloaded and can use their licensed spectrum. Nobody is planning to deploy LTE-U / LAA in these areas. In dense and ultra-dense areas, there are many users, many Wi-Fi access points, ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks and many other sources of interference. In theory LTE-U / LAA can help significantly but as there are many sources of interference,its uncertain if it would be a win-win for everyone or just more interference for everyone to deal with.

    Further reading:


    0 0


    Its been nearly 2 years since I last blogged about ETSI Security workshop. A lot has changed since then, especially as 5G is already in the process of being standardised. This is in addition to NFV / SDN that also applied to 4G networks.

    ETSI Security Week (12 - 16 June) covered lot more than 5G, NFV, SDN, etc. Security specialists can follow the link to get all the details (if they were not already aware of).

    I want to quickly provide 3 links so people can find all the useful information:

    NFV Security Tutorialdesigned to educate attendees on security concerns facing operators and providers as they move forward with implementing NFV. While the topics are focused on security and are technical in nature we believe any individual responsible for designing, implementing or operating a NFV system in an organization will benefit from this session. Slides here.

    NFV Security: Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), leveraging cloud computing, is set to radically change the architecture, security, and implementation of telecommunications networks globally. The NFV Security day will have a sharp focus on the NFV security and will bring together the world-wide community of the NFV security leaders from the industry, academia, and regulators. If you want to meet the movers and shakers in this field, get a clear understanding of the NFV security problems, challenges, opportunities, and the state of the art development of security solutions, this day is for you. Slides here.



    5G Security: The objectives of this event are to:
    • Gather different actors involved in the development of 5G, not only telecom, and discuss together how all their views will shape together in order to understand the challenges, threats and the security requirements that the 5G scenarios will be bringing.
    • Give an update of what is happening in:
      • 5G security research: Lot of research is on-going on 5G security and several projects exist on the topic.
      • 5G security standards: Standardization bodies have already started working 5G security and their work progress will be reviewed. Also any gap or additional standardization requirements will be discussed.
      • Verticals and business (non-technical) 5G security requirements: 5G is playground where different verticals besides the telecom industry is playing a role and their requirements will be key for the design of 5G security. In addition 5G is where "security" will become the business driver.
    • Debate about hot topics such as: IoT security, Advances in lightweight cryptography, Slicing security. Privacy. Secure storage and processing. Security of the interconnection network (DIAMETER security). Relevance of Quantum Safe Cryptography for 5G, Authorization concepts....
    Slides for 5G Security here.

    In addition, Jaya Baloo, CISO, KPN Telecom talks about 5G network security at TechXLR8 2017. Embedded is a video of that:



    0 0

    I came across this interesting article in WSJ, courtesy of the Benedict Evans newsletter, which discusses how Indians are using their smartphones even more and consuming far more data than they previously did. Due to low incomes, spending money on mobile top-up is to the detriment of other sectors. To quote the article:
    “There was a time when kids would come here and blow their pocket money on chips and chocolate,” said Anup Kapoor, who runs a mom-and-pop grocery shop in New Delhi. These days, “they spend every last rupee on a data recharge instead.”

    United Nations have created 17 very ambitious Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that universally apply to all, countries will mobilize efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind.
    The SDGs, also known as Global Goals, build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries, poor, rich and middle-income to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
    I have talked about Rural connectivity on this blog and a lot more on small cells blog. In fact the heart touching end user story from Rural England was shared multiple times on different platforms. GSMA has done a good amount of work with the rural communities with their mobile for development team and have some interesting videos showing positive impacts of bringing connectivity to rural communities in Tanzania (see here and here).

    While you will always hear about the challenges in bringing connectivity to these rural communities, all technological challenges can be solved. There are many highly ambitious projects using balloons, drones, creating droneways, Helikites, Satellite backhaul, drone based backhaul, mmWave backhaul, etc. The real problem to solve here are the costs (spectrum, infrastructure, etc.) and the end-user pricing.

    Coming back to the first story of this post about India, when given an option about selecting mobile data or shampoo, people will probably choose mobile data. What about mobile data vs food? While there are some innovative young companies that can help bring the costs down, there is still a big hurdle to leap in terms of convincing the operators mindsets, bureaucracy, etc.

    To help explain my point lets look at an excerpt from this article in Wired:
    It’s the kind of problem that Vanu Bose, the founder of the small cell network provider CoverageCo, has been trying to solve with a new, ultra-energy-efficient mobile technology. Bose chose two places to pilot this tech: Vermont and Rwanda. “We picked these two locations because we knew they would be challenging in terrain and population density,” he says. “What we didn’t expect was that many of the problems were the same in Rwanda and Vermont—and in fact the rollout has been much easier in Africa.
    The good news is that things are changing. Parallel Wireless (see disclosure at the bottom) is one such company trying to simplify network deployment and at the same time bring the costs down. In a recent deployment with Ice Wireless in Canada, this was one of the benefit to the operator. To quote from MobileSyrup:
    A radio access network is one of the key components in the architecture of any wireless network. RANs sit between consumer-facing devices like smartphones and computers and the core network, helping connect those devices to the larger network.  
    Essentially where the likes of Nokia and Huawei ask clients to buy an expensive hardware component for their RAN needs, Parallel Wireless offers allows companies like Ice Wireless to use off-the-shelf computer and server components to emulate a RAN. The company also sells wireless base stations like the two pictured above that are smaller than the average cell tower one sees in cities and less remote parts of the country.  
    Besides reducing the overall price of a network deployment, Parallel’s components present several other advantages for a company like Ice Wireless.  
    For instance, small base stations make it easier for the company to build redundancies into its network, something that’s especially important when a single arctic snowstorm can knock out wireless service for thousands of people.
    These kind of benefits allow operators to pass on the cost reduction thereby allowing the price reduction for end users. In case of Ice Wireless, they have already got rid of roaming charges and have started offering unlimited data plans for the communities in Canada's North.

    Finally, to quote David Nabarro, Special Adviser of the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development from the GSMA 2016 Mobile Industry Impact Report: Sustainable Development Goals:
    Achieving the SDGs demands new technologies, innovations, and data collection that can integrate and complement traditional statistics. A driving force behind this data revolution is mobile technology. 
    Mobile phone technology has already transformed societies around the globe, even the poorest countries and communities. It is helping to empower women, create jobs, spur financial independence, improve education, boost agriculture production, and promote better health. Mobile phones have enabled communities to monitor elections, hold governments accountable, and save lives in natural disasters. 
    As we focus on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, the mobile industry has a critical role in working with governments and the international community to expand connectivity, to lower barriers to access, and to ensure that tools and applications are developed with vulnerable communities in mind. 

    With 5G just round the corner, I hope that the operators and vendors will be able to get their costs down, resulting in lower end-user prices. That would be a win-win for everyone.

    *Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director, 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.

    0 0


    A recent AT&T blog post looks at how the fake cactus antennas are manufactured. I also took a closeup of a fake cactus antenna when I went to a Cambridge Wireless Heritage SIG event as can be seen in tweet below.

    The blog says:
    To make a stealth site look as real as possible, our teams use several layers of putty and paint. Our goal is to get the texture and color just right, but also ensure it can withstand natural elements – from snowy Colorado to blistering Arizona. 
    Tower production takes 6-8 weeks and starts with constructing a particular mold. The molds quickly become 30-foot tall saguaro cacti or 80-foot tall redwood trees.But these aren’t just steel giants. 
    The materials that cover the stealth antennas, like paint or faux-leaves, must be radio frequency-friendly. Stealth antennas designed to look like church steeples or water towers are mostly made of fiberglass. This lets the signal from the antennas penetrate through the casing. 
    These stealth deployments are just one of the many unique ways we provide coverage to our customers. So take a look outside, your connection may be closer than you think—hidden in plain sight!
    This videos gives a good idea


    If this is a topic of interest, then have a look at this collection of around 100 antennas:



    See also:




    0 0


    IMSI Catchers can be a real threat. It doesn't generally affect anyone unless someone is out to get them. Nevertheless its a security flaw that is even present in LTE. This presentation here is a good starting point on learning about IMSI Catcher and the one here about privacy and availability attacks.


    This article by Ericsson is a good starting point on how 5G will enhance security by IMSI encryption. From the article:
    The concept we propose builds on an old idea that the mobile device encrypts its IMSI using home network’s asymmetric key before it is transmitted over the air-interface. By using probabilistic asymmetric encryption scheme – one that uses randomness – the same IMSI encrypted multiple times results in different values of encrypted IMSIs. This makes it infeasible for an active or passive attacker over the air-interface to identify the subscriber. Above is a simplified illustration of how a mobile device encrypts its IMSI. 
    Each mobile operator (called the ‘home network’ here) has a public/private pair of asymmetric keys. The home network’s private asymmetric key is kept secret by the home network, while the home network’s public asymmetric key is pre-provisioned in mobile devices along with subscriber-specific IMSIs (Step 0). Note that the home network’s public asymmetric key is not subscriber-specific. 
    For every encryption, the mobile device generates a fresh pair of its own public/private asymmetric keys (Step 1). This key pair is used only once, hence called ephemeral, and therefore provide probabilistic property to the encryption scheme. As shown in the figure, the mobile device then generates a new key (Step 2), e.g., using Diffie–Hellman key exchange. This new key is also ephemeral and is used only once to encrypt the mobile device’s IMSI (Step 3) using symmetric algorithm like AES. The use of asymmetric and symmetric crypto primitives as described above is commonly known as integrated/hybrid encryption scheme. The Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) is a popular scheme of such kind and is very suitable to the use case of IMSI encryption because of low impact on radio bandwidth and mobile device’s battery. 
    The nicest thing about the described concept is that no public key infrastructure is necessary, which significantly reduces deployment complexity, meaning that mobile operators can start deploying IMSI encryption for their subscribers without having to rely on any external party or other mobile operators.

    '3GPP TR 33.899: Study on the security aspects of the next generation system' lists one such approach.


    The Key steps are as follows:

    1. UE is configured with 5G (e)UICC with ‘K’ key, the Home Network ID, and its associated public key.
    2. SEAF send Identity Request message to NG-UE. NG-UE considers this as an indication to initiate Initial Authentication.
    3. NG-UE performs the following:
      1. Request the (e)UICC application to generate required security material for initial authentication, RANDUE, , COUNTER, KIARenc, and KIARInt.
      2. NG-UE builds IAR as per MASA. In this step NG-UE includes NG-UE Security Capabilities inside the IAR message. It also may include its IMEI. 
      3. NG-UE encrypts the whole IAR including the MAC with the home network public key.
      4. NG-UE sends IAR to SEAF.
    4. Optionally, gNB-CP node adds its Security Capabilities to the transposrt message between the gNB-CP and the SEAF (e.g., inside S1AP message as per 4G).
    5. gNB-CP sends the respective S1AP message that carries the NG-UE IAR message to the SEAF.
    6. SEAF acquirs the gNB-CP security capabilities as per the listed options in clause 5.2.4.12.4.3and save them as part of the temporary context for the NG-UE.
    7. SEAF follows MASA and forward the Authentication and Data Request message to the AUSF/ARPF.
    8. When AUSF/ARPF receives the Authentication and Data Request message, authenticates the NG-UE as per MASA and generates the IAS respective keys. AUSF/ARPF may recover the NG-UE IMSI and validate the NG-UE security capabilities.
    9. AUSF/ARPF sends Authentication and Data Response to the SEAF as per MASA with NG-UE Security Capabilities included.
    10. SEAF recovers the Subscriber IMSI, UE security Capabilities, IAS keys, RANDHN, COUNTER and does the following:
      1. Examine the UE Security Capabilities and decides on the Security parameters.
      2. SEAF may acquire the UP-GW security capabilities at this point after receiving the UP-GW identity from AUSF/ARPF or allocate it dynamically through provisioning and load balancing.
    11. SEAF builds IAS and send to the NG-UE following MASA. In addition, SEAF include the gNB-CP protocol agreed upon security parameters in the S1AP message being sent to the gNB-CP node.
    12. gNB-CP recovers gNB-CP protocol agreed upon security parameters and save it as part of the NG-UE current context.
    13. gNB-CP forwards the IAS message to the NG-UE.
    14. NG-UE validates the authenticity of the IAS and authenticates the network as per MASA. In addition, the UE saves all protocols agreed upon security parameters as part of its context. NG-UE sends the Security and Authentication Complete message to the SEAF.
    15. SEAF communicates the agreed upon UP-GW security parameters to the UP-GW during the NG-UE bearer setup.

    ARPF - Authentication Credential Repository and Processing Function 
    AUSF - Authentication Server Function 
    SCMF - Security Context Management Function
    SEAF - Security Anchor Function
    NG-UE - NG UE
    UP - User Plane 
    CP - Control Plane
    IAR - Initial Authentication Request 
    IAS - Initial Authentication Response
    gNB - Next Generation NodeB

    You may also want to refer to the 5G Network Architecture presentation by Andy Sutton for details.

    See also:


    0 0
  • 08/27/17--09:31: Bluetooth 5 for IoT

  • Bluetooth 5 (not 5.0 - to simplify marketing messages and communication) was released last year. The main features being 2x Faster, 4x Range (Bluetooth 4 - 50m outdoors, 10m Indoors; Bluetooth 5 - 200m outdoors, 40m indoors) & 8x Data.
    I like this above slide by Robin Heydon, Qualcomm from a presentation he gave in CW (Cambridge Wireless) earlier this year. What is highlights is that Bluetooth 5 is Low Energy (LE) like its predecessor 4.0.For anyone interested, a good comparison of 5 vs 4.2 is available here.

    In addition, Mesh support is now available for Bluetooth. I assume that this will work with Bluetooth 4.0 onwards but it would probably only make sense from Bluetooth 5 due to support for reasonable range.

    The Bluetooth blog has a few posts on Mesh (see here, here and here). I like this simple introductory video below.


    This recent article by Geoff Varral on RTT says the following (picture from another source):

    Long distance Bluetooth can also be extended with the newly supported mesh protocol.

    This brings Bluetooth into direct competition with a number of other radio systems including 802.15,4 based protocols such as Zigbee, LoRa, Wireless-M (for meter reading), Thread and 6 LowPAN (IPV6 over local area networks. 802.11 also has a mesh protocol and long distance ambitions including 802.11ah Wi-Fi in the 900 MHz ISM band. It also moves Bluetooth into the application space targeted by LTE NB IOT and LTE M though with range limitations.

    There are some interesting design challenges implied by 5.0. The BLE specification is inherently less resilient to interference than Classic or EDR Bluetooth. This is because the legacy seventy eight X 1 MHz channels within the 20 MHz 2.4 GHz pass band are replaced with thirty nine two MHz channels with three fixed non hopping advertising channels in the middle and edge of the pass band.

    These have to withstand high power 20 MHz LTE TDD in Band 40 (below the 2.4 GHz pass band) and high power 20 MHz LTE TDD in band 41 above the pass band (and Band 7 LTE FDD). This includes 26 dBm high power user equipment.

    The coexistence of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and LTE has been intensively studied and worked on for over ten years and is now managed with surprising effectiveness within a smart phone through a combination of optimised analogue and digital filtering (SAW and FBAR filters) and time domain interference mitigation based on a set of  industry standard wireless coexistence protocols.

    The introduction of high power Bluetooth however implies that this is no longer just a colocation issue but potentially a close location issue. Even managing Bluetooth to Bluetooth coexistence becomes a non-trivial task when you consider that +20 dBm transmissions will be closely proximate to -20 dBm or whisper mode -30 dBm transmissions and RX sensitivity of -93 dBm, potentially a dynamic range of 120dB. Though Bluetooth is a TDD system this isolation requirement will be challenging and vulnerable to ISI distortion. 

    More broadly there is a need to consider how ‘5G Bluetooth’ couples technically and commercially with 5G including 5G IOT

    Ericsson has a whitepaper on Bluetooth Mesh Networking. The conclusion of that agrees that Bluetooth may become a relevant player in IoT:

    Bluetooth mesh is a scalable, short-range IoT technology that provides flexible and robust performance. The Bluetooth Mesh Profile is an essential addition to the Bluetooth ecosystem that enhances the applicability of Bluetooth technology to a wide range of new IoT use cases. Considering the large Bluetooth footprint, it has the potential to be quickly adopted by the market. 

    With proper deployment and configuration of relevant parameters of the protocol stack, Bluetooth mesh is able to support the operation of dense networks with thousands of devices. The building automation use case presented in this white paper shows that Bluetooth mesh can live up to high expectations and provide the necessary robustness and service ratio. Furthermore, the network design of Bluetooth mesh is flexible enough to handle the introduction of managed operations on top of flooding, to further optimize behavior and automate the relay selection process.


    Moreover, another Ericsson article says that "smartphones with built-in Bluetooth support can be part of the mesh, may be used to configure devices and act as capillary gateways."

    A capillary network is a LAN that uses short-range radio-access technologies to provide groups of devices with wide area connectivity. Capillary networks therefore extend the range of the wide area mobile networks to constraint devices. Figure above illustrates the Bluetooth capillary gateway concept.

    Once there are enough smartphones and Bluetooth devices with Bluetooth 5 and Mesh support, It would be interesting to see how developers use it. Would also be interesting to see if it will start encroaching LoRa and Sigfox markets as well.

    0 0

    Picture Source: Cnet

    Bell Labs, which has played a significant role in telecoms history and has a very glorious list of achievements created a collection of short films highlighting the brilliant minds who created the invisible nervous system of our society. Some of you may be aware that Bell Labs is now a part of Nokia but was previously part of Alcatel-Lucent, Lucent and AT&T before that.

    The playlist with 5 videos is embedded below and short details of the videos follows that.


    Video 1: Introduction

    Introducing 'Future Impossible', a collection of short films highlighting the brilliant minds who created the invisible nervous system of our society, a fantastic intelligent network of wires and cables undergirding and infiltrating every aspect of modern life.


    Video 2: The Shannon Limit

    In 1948, father of communications theory Claude Shannon developed the law that dictated just how much information could ever be communicated down any path, anywhere, using any technology. The maximum rate of this transmission would come to be known as the Shannon Limit.  Researchers have spent the following decades trying to achieve this limit and to try to go beyond it.


    Video 3: The Many Lives of Copper

    In the rush to find the next generation of optical communications, much of our attention has moved away from that old standby, copper cabling. But we already have miles and miles of the stuff under our feet and over our heads. What if instead of laying down new optical fiber cable everywhere, we could figure out a way to breathe new life into copper and drive the digital future that way?


    Video 4: The Network of You

    In the future, every human will be connected to every other human on the planet by a wireless network. But that’s just the beginning. 

    Soon the stuff of modern life will all be part of the network, and it will unlock infinite opportunities for new ways of talking, making and being. The network will be our sixth sense, connecting us to our digital lives. In this film, we ponder that existence and how it is enabled by inventions and technologies developed over the past 30 years, and the innovations that still lie ahead of us.


    Video 5: Story of Light

    When Alexander Graham Bell discovered that sound could be carried by light, he never could have imagined the millions of written text and audio and video communications that would one day be transmitted around the world every second on a single strand of fiber with the dimensions of a human hair.

    Follow the journey of a single text message zipping around the globe at the speed of light, then meet the researchers that have taken up Bell’s charge.


    For anyone interested, Wikipedia has a good detailed info on Bell Labs history here.

    0 0

    The 5G System architecture (based on 3GPP TS 23.501: System Architecture for the 5G System; Stage 2) consists of the following network functions (NF). The functional description of these network functions is specified in clause 6.
    -Authentication Server Function (AUSF)
    -Core Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF)
    -Data network (DN), e.g. operator services, Internet access or 3rd party services
    -Structured Data Storage network function (SDSF)
    -Unstructured Data Storage network function (UDSF)
    -Network Exposure Function (NEF)
    -NF Repository Function (NRF)
    -Network Slice Selection Function (NSSF)
    -Policy Control function (PCF)
    -Session Management Function (SMF)
    -Unified Data Management (UDM)
    -Unified Data Repository (UDR)
    -User plane Function (UPF)
    -Application Function (AF)
    -User Equipment (UE)
    -(Radio) Access Network ((R)AN)

    As you can see, this is slightly more complex than the 2G/3G/4G Core Network Architecture.

    Alan Carlton, Vice President, InterDigital and Head of InterDigital International Labs Organization spanning Europe and Asia provided a concise summary of the changes in 5G core network in ComputerWorld:

    Session management is all about the establishment, maintenance and tear down of data connections. In 2G and 3G this manifested as the standalone General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). 4G introduced a fully integrated data only system optimized for mobile broadband inside which basic telephony is supported as just one profile.

    Mobility management as the name suggests deals with everything that needs doing to support the movement of users in a mobile network. This encompasses such functions as system registration, location tracking and handover. The principles of these functions have changed relatively little through the generations beyond optimizations to reduce the heavy signaling load they impose on the system.

    The 4G core network’s main function today is to deliver an efficient data pipe. The existence of the service management function as a dedicated entity has been largely surrendered to the “applications” new world order. Session management and mobility management are now the two main functions that provide the raison d’etre for the core network.

    Session management in 4G is all about enabling data connectivity and opening up a tunnel to the world of applications in the internet as quickly as possible. This is enabled by two core network functions, the Serving Gateway (SGW) and Packet Data Gateway (PGW). Mobility management ensures that these data sessions can be maintained as the user moves about the network. Mobility management functions are centralized within a network node referred to as Mobility Management Entity (MME). Services, including voice, are provided as an “app” running on top of this 4G data pipe. The keyword in this mix, however, is “function”. It is useful to highlight that the distinctive nature of the session and mobility management functions enables modularization of these software functions in a manner that they can be easily deployed on any Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) hardware.

    The biggest change in 5G is perhaps that services will actually be making a bit of a return...the plan is now to deliver the whole Network as a Service. The approach to this being taken in 3GPP is to re-architect the whole core based on a service-oriented architecture approach. This entails breaking everything down into even more detailed functions and sub-functions. The MME is gone but not forgotten. Its former functionality has been redistributed into precise families of mobility and session management network functions. As such, registration, reachability, mobility management and connection management are all now new services offered by a new general network function dubbed Access and Mobility Management Function (AMF). Session establishment and session management, also formerly part of the MME, will now be new services offered by a new network function called the Session Management Function (SMF). Furthermore, packet routing and forwarding functions, currently performed by the SGW and PGW in 4G, will now be realized as services rendered through a new network function called the User Plane Function (UPF).

    The whole point of this new architectural approach is to enable a flexible Network as a Service solution. By standardizing a modularized set of services, this enables deployment on the fly in centralized, distributed or mixed configurations to enable target network configurations for different users. This very act of dynamically chaining together different services is what lies at the very heart of creating the magical network slices that will be so important in 5G to satisfy the diverse user demands expected. The bottom line in all this is that the emphasis is now entirely on software. The physical boxes where these software services are instantiated could be in the cloud or on any targeted COTS hardware in the system. It is this intangibility of physicality that is behind the notion that the core network might disappear in 5G.


    3GPP TS 23.502: Procedures for the 5G System; Stage 2, provides examples of signalling for different scenarios. The MSC above shows the example of registration procedure. If you want a quick refresher of LTE registration procedure, see here.

    I dont plan to expand on this procedure here. Checkout section "4.2.2 Registration Management procedures" in 23.502 for details. There are still a lot of FFS (For further studies😉) in the specs that will get updated in the coming months.


    Further Reading:


    0 0

    I have discussed this problem in past, based on questions asked on various fora (example). Here is a video I made some weeks back. Will be interested to know what other reasons people can come up with 😊.



    0 0

    Back in 2013, I spoke about Smart Batteries. Still waiting for someone to deliver on that. In the meantime I noticed that you can use an Android phone to charge another phone, via cable though. See the pic below:


    You are probably all aware of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 catching fires. In case you are interested in knowing the reasons, Guardian has a good summary here. You can also see the pic below that summarises the issue.


    Lithium-ion batteries have always been criticized for its abilities to catch fire (see here and here) but researchers have been working on ways to reduce the risk of fire. There are some promising developments.


    The electrochemical masterminds at Stanford University have created a lithium-ion battery with built-in flame suppression. When the battery reaches a critical temperature (160 degrees Celsius in this case), an integrated flame retardant is released, extinguishing any flames within 0.4 seconds. Importantly, the addition of an integrated flame retardant doesn't reduce the performance of the battery.

    Researchers at the University of Maryland and the US Army Research Laboratory have developed a safe lithium-ion battery that uses a water-salt solution as its electrolyte. Lithium-ion batteries used in smartphones and other devices are typically non-aqueous, as they can reach higher energy levels. Aqueous lithium-ion batteries are safer as the water-based electrolytes are inflammable compared to the highly flammable organic solvents used in their non-aqueous counterparts. The scientists have created a special gel, which keeps water from reacting with graphite or lithium metal and setting off a dangerous chain reaction.


    Bloomberg has a good report as to why we’re going to need more Lithium.

    Starting about two years ago, fears of a lithium shortage almost tripled prices for the metal, to more than $20,000 a ton, in just 10 months. The cause was a spike in the market for electric vehicles, which were suddenly competing with laptops and smartphones for lithium ion batteries. Demand for the metal won’t slacken anytime soon—on the contrary, electric car production is expected to increase more than thirtyfold by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

    Even if the price of lithium soars 300 percent, battery pack costs would rise only by about 2 percent.

    University of Washington researchers recently demonstrated the world's first battery-free cellphone, created with funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and a Google Faculty Research Award for mobile research.

    The battery-free technology harvests energy from the signal received from the cellular base station (for reception) and the voice of the user (for transmission) using a technique called backscattering. Backscattering for battery-free operation is best known for its use in radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, typically utilized for applications such as locating products in a warehouse and keeping track of high-value equipment. An RFID base station (called a reader) "pings" the tag with an RF pulse, which allows the tag to harvest microwatts of energy from it—enough to return a backscattered RF signal modulated with the identity of the item.



    Unfortunately, harvesting generates very little energy; so little, that you really need a new standard. For instance, Wi-Fi signals transmit continuously, but harvesting that energy constantly will only enable transmissions of about 10 feet today. Range will be the big challenge for making this technology successful.

    So we wont be seeing them anytime soon unfortunately.

    Recycling of materials is always a concern, especially now that the use of Lithium-ion is increasing. Financial Times (FT) recently did a good summary of all the companies trying to recycle Lithium, Cobalt, etc.

    Mr Kochhar estimates over 11m tonnes of spent lithium-ion batteries will be discarded by 2030. The company is looking to process 5,000 tonnes a year to start with and eventually 250,000 tonnes — a similar amount to a processing plant for mined lithium, he said.

    The battery industry currently uses 42 percent of global cobalt production, a critical metal for Lithium-ion cells. The remaining 58 percent is used in diverse industrial and military applications (super alloys, catalysts, magnets, pigments…) that rely exclusively on the material.

    According to Wikipedia, The purpose of the Cobalt (Co) within the LIBs is to act as a sort of bridge for the lithium ions to travel on between the cathode (positive end of the battery) and the anode (the negative end). During the charging of the battery, the cobalt is oxidized from Coᶾ⁺ to Co⁴⁺. This means that the transition metal, cobalt, has lost an electron. During the discharge of the battery the cobalt is reduced from Co⁴⁺ to Coᶾ⁺. Reduction is the opposite of oxidation. It is the gaining of an electron and decreases the overall oxidation state of the compound. Oxidation and reduction reactions are usually coupled together in a series of reactions known as red-ox (reduction-oxidation) reactions. This chemistry was utilized by Sony in 1990 to produce lithium ion cells.

    From Treehugger: An excellent investigative piece by the Washington Post called “The cobalt pipeline: From dangerous tunnels in Congo to consumers’ mobile tech” explores the source of this valuable mineral that everyone relies on, yet knows little about.
    “Lithium-ion batteries were supposed to be different from the dirty, toxic technologies of the past. Lighter and packing more energy than conventional lead-acid batteries, these cobalt-rich batteries are seen as ‘green.’ They are essential to plans for one day moving beyond smog-belching gasoline engines. Already these batteries have defined the world’s tech devices.
    “Smartphones would not fit in pockets without them. Laptops would not fit on laps. Electric vehicles would be impractical. In many ways, the current Silicon Valley gold rush — from mobile devices to driverless cars — is built on the power of lithium-ion batteries.”
    What The Post found is an industry that’s heavily reliant on ‘artisanal miners’ or creuseurs, as they’re called in French. These men do not work for industrial mining firms, but rather dig independently, anywhere they may find minerals, under roads and railways, in backyards, sometimes under their own homes. It is dangerous work that often results in injury, collapsed tunnels, and fires. The miners earn between $2 and $3 per day by selling their haul at a local minerals market.

    There is a big potential for reducing waste and improving lives, hopefully we will see some developments on this front soon.

    0 0


    Huawei (see here and here) has partnered with China Telecom and Bike sharing company called Ofo.

    ofo developed an IoT smart lock based on NB-IoT technology that lowers power consumption, enables wide coverage, and slashes system resource delays at low cost. NB-IoT lets ofo ensure it has bikes located at key locations when commuter demand is highest. Meanwhile, bikes can be unlocked in less than a second. Both improvements have greatly boosted user satisfaction.

    ofo and its partners added key technologies to ofo’s own platform. These included the commercial network provided by China Telecom, and Huawei’s intelligent chip-based NB-IoT solution. When launching its NB-IoT solution earlier this year, ofo founder and CEO Dai Wei said that the cooperation between ofo, Huawei, and China Telecom is a “mutually beneficial joint force of three global leading enterprises.”

    At the core is Huawei’s IoT solution, which includes smart chips, networking, and an IoT platform. The solution provides strong coverage in poor-signal areas and a network capacity that’s more than one hundred times stronger than standard terminals. The payment process has dropped from 25 seconds to less than 5, while battery life has been lengthened from 1 or 2 months to more than 2 years, saving costs and reducing the need for frequent maintenance.

    ofo’s cooperation with Huawei on NB-IoT smart locks bodes well for improving the industry as whole. Huawei’s technology optimizes lifecycle management for locks, while the sensors on the locks collect information such as equipment status, user data, and operating data. They connect the front- and back-end industrial chains to achieve intelligent business management, enable the bikes to be located in hot spots, facilitate rapid maintenance, and boost marketing and value-added services.

    This video gives an idea of how this works:



    As per Mobile World Live:

    Ofo co-founder Xue Ding said during a presentation the high power efficiency and huge capacity of NB-IoT make the technology ideal to deliver its smart locks, which are really the brains of its operations.

    The company offers what is termed station free pushbike hire, meaning bikes can be collected and deposited from any legal parking spot. Users can locate bikes using their smartphone, and unlock it by scanning a barcode.

    However, the process can be interrupted by mobile network congestion or if signals are weak – for example in remote areas: “Using NB-IoT, users will not be stuck because of inadequate capacity,” Xue said.
    ...
    Xiang Huangmei, a VP at China Telecom’s Beijing branch, said the low power consumption of the NB-IoT chip in the lock means the battery will last eight years to ten years, so it will never need to be replaced during the standard lifecycle of an Ofo bike.

    The NB-IoT network, deployed on the 800MHz band, offers good indoor and outdoor coverage, the VP said citing car parks as an example. One base station can support 100,000 devices over an area of 2.5 square-km.

    Finally, to know which operator is supporting which IoT technology, see the IoT tracker here.

    0 0


    I recently did a 4G voice presentation for beginners after realizing that even though so many years have passed after VoLTE was launched, people are still unsure how it works or how its different from CS Fallback.

    There are many other posts that discuss these topics in detail on this blog (follow the label) or on 3G4G website. Anyway, here is the video:


    The slides are available on 3G4G Slideshare account here. More similar training videos are available here.

    0 0
    0 0

    One of the things that will come as a result of NSA (Non-StandAlone) architecture will be the option for Dual Connectivity (DC). In fact, DC was first introduced in LTE as part of 3GPP Release 12 (see 3G4G Small Cells blog entry here). WWRF (Wireless World Research Forum) has a good whitepaper on this topic here and NTT Docomo also has an excellent article on this here.

    A simple way to understand the difference between Carrier Aggregation (CA) and Dual Connectivity (DC) is that in CA different carriers are served by the same backhaul (same eNB), while in DC they are served by different backhauls (different eNB or eNB & gNB).


    We have produced a short video showing different 5G architectures, looking mainly at StandAlone (SA) and Non-StandAlone (NSA) architectures, both LTE-Assisted and NR-Assisted. The video is embedded below:



    Finally, 3GPP has done a short webinar with the 3GPP RAN Chairman Balazs Bertenyi explaining the outcomes from RAN#77. Its available on BrightTalk here. The presentation from the webinar will also be added on 3GPP page here.


    Related posts:




    0 0

    Transport for London (TFL), the local government body responsible for transport in London, which also runs the London Underground (known as Tubes) has been using smartphone Wi-Fi data to work out how people travel on the stations.

    They did the trial and collected data in 2016 and have also openly talked about it (see this talk for example), they have now published their findings which is available here. One of the interesting findings for example is that 18 different routes taken by customers between King's Cross St Pancras and Waterloo - and many people don't use the shortest route changing Tube lines

    Its interesting to think that because many people do not have their Wi-Fi switched on while outside and many others who put their phone in plane more while in the underground (no mobile coverage, in case you are wondering), this data is probably not as detailed as it could have been.

    Nevertheless, there is a talk of bringing Mobile connectivity into the underground network. Once its there, the combination of data could be far more valuable.

    0 0

    Source: Wikipedia

    2G/3G switch off is always a topic of discussion in most conferences. While many companies are putting their eggs in 4G & 5G baskets, 2G & 3G is not going away anytime soon.

    Based on my observations and many discussions that I have had over the past few months, I see a pattern emerging.

    In most developed nations, 2G will be switched off (or some operators may leave a very thin layer) followed by re-farming of 3G. Operators will switch off 3G at earliest possible opportunity as most users would have moved to 4G. Users that would not have moved to 4G would be forced to move operators or upgrade their devices. This scenario is still probably 6 - 10 years out.



    As we all know that 5G will need capacity (and coverage) layer in sub-6GHz, the 3G frequencies will either be re-farmed to 4G or 5G as 2G is already being re-farmed to 4G. Some operators may choose to re-balance the usage with some lower frequencies exchanged to be used for 5G (subject to enough bandwidth being available).


    On the other hand, in the developing and less-developed nations, 3G will generally be switched off before 2G. The main reason being that there are still a lot of feature phone users that rely on 2G technologies. Most, if not all, 3G phones support 2G so the existing 3G users will be forced onto 2G. Those who can afford, will upgrade to newer smartphones while those who cant will have to grudgingly use 2G or change operators (not all operators in a country will do this at the same time).

    Many operators in the developing countries believe that GSM will be around until 2030. While it may be difficult to predict that far in advance, I am inclined to believe this.

    For anyone interested, here is a document listing 2G/3G switch off dates that have been publicly announced by the operators.



    Let me know what you think.

    0 0

    In an earlier post I discussed briefly about the sidelink: V2V communications are based on D2D communications defined as part of ProSe services in Release 12 and Release 13 of the specification. As part of ProSe services, a new D2D interface (designated as PC5, also known as sidelink at the physical layer) was introduced and now as part of the V2V WI it has been enhanced for vehicular use cases, specifically addressing high speed (up to 250Kph) and high density (thousands of nodes).

    Before going further, lets just quickly recap the different V2x abbreviations:

    • V2X = Vehicle-to-Everything
    • V2V = Vehicle-to-Vehicle
    • V2I = Vehicle-to-Infrastructure 
    • V2P = Vehicle-to-Pedestrian 
    • V2H = Vehicle-to-Home
    • eV2X = enhanced Vehicle-to-Everything

    I came across this interesting presentation from ITRI that provides lot more details on sidelink and its proposed extension to other topics including eV2X and FeD2D (Further enhanced Device-to-Device).

    There are quite a few references in the document that provides more details on sidelink and its operation and extension to other devices like wearables.


    There are also details on synchronization and eV2X services.

    There is also a very nice D2D overview presentation by Orange that I am embedding below (download from slideshare)




    0 0
  • 10/21/17--13:32: Evolution of SON in 3GPP

  • A good list of 3GPP Evolution of SON features. Whitepaper available here. You may also like the earlier post here.

    See also: Self-Organizing Networks / Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) - 3G4G Homepage

    0 0

    I have blogged earlier about the multiple 5G Architecture options that are available (see Deutsche Telekom's presentation& 3G4G video). So I have been wondering what options will be deployed in real networks and when.
    The 3GPP webinar highlighted that Option-3 would be the initial focus, followed by Option 2.


    Last year AT&T had proposed the following 4 approaches as in the picture above. Recall that Option 1 is the current LTE radio connected to EPC.

    ZTE favours Deployment option 2 as can be seen in the slide above

    Huawei is favoring Option 3, followed by Option 7 or 2 (& 5)

    Going back to the original KDDI presentation, they prefer Option 3, followed by Option 7.

    If you are an operator, vendor, analyst, researcher, or anyone with an opinion, what options do you prefer?


    0 0

    Source: GSA

    5G forecasts have been arriving steadily with many different figures. Here are some numbers:

    Date Predicted by Number of Connections Year Any other comments
    23-Aug-16 Strategy Analytics 690 million 2025 "690M Connections and 300M Handset Shipments"
    15-Nov-16 Ericsson 500 million 2022 "North America will lead the way in uptake of 5G subscriptions, where a quarter of all mobile subscriptions are forecast to be for 5G in 2022."
    30-Nov-16 ABI Research 500 million 2026 "500 Million 5G cmWave and mmWave Subscribers Will Bring $200 Billion in Service Revenue through 2026" - what about non mmWave/cmWave 5G subs?
    12-Apr-17 CCS Insight 100 million 2021 "Smartphones sales will rise to 1.90 billion in 2021, when smartphones will account for 92 percent of the total mobile phone market."
    26-Apr-17 GSMA 1.1 billion 2025 "5G connections are set to reach 1.1 billion by 2025, accounting for approximately one in eight mobile connections worldwide by this time."
    16-May-17 Ovum 389 million 2022 "Ovum now forecasts that there will be 111 million 5G mobile broadband subscriptions at end-2021, up more than fourfold from Ovum’s previous forecast of 25 million 5G subscriptions at end-2021"
    14-Aug-17 Juniper Research 1.4 billion 2025 "an increase from just 1 million in 2019, the anticipated first year of commercial launch. This will represent an average annual growth of 232%."
    17-Oct-17 GSMA 214 million in Europe 2025 "30 per cent of Europe’s mobile connections will be running on 5G networks by 2025"
    23-Oct-17 CCS Insight 2.6 billion 2025 "1 Billion Users of 5G by 2023, with More Than Half in China", "broadly similar path to 4G LTE technology...more than one in every five mobile connections."

    If we just look at 2025/2026, the estimates vary from 500 million to 2.6 billion. I guess we will have to wait and see which of these figures comes true.

    I wrote a post earlier titled '4G / LTE by stealth'. Here I talked about the operators who still had 3G networks while most people had 4G phones. The day the operator switched on the 4G network, suddenly all these users were considered to be on 4G, even if they didn't have 4G coverage just yet.

    I have a few questions about what 5G features are necessary for the initial rollout and when can an operator claim they have 5G? In fact I asked this question on twitter and I got some interesting answers.

    Just having a few 5G NR (new radio) sites enough for an operator to claim that they have deployed 5G? Would all the handsets with 5G compatibility then be considered to be on 5G? What features would be required in the initial rollouts? In case of LTE, operators initially only had Carrier Aggregation deployed, which was enough to claim they supported LTE-A. Would 100MHz bandwidth support be enough as initial 5G feature?

    Please let me know what you think.

    0 0
  • 11/05/17--09:01: RRC states in 5G
  • Looking back at my old post about UMTS & LTE (re)selection/handovers, I wonder how many different kinds of handovers and (re)selection options may be needed now.

    In another earlier post, I talked about the 5G specifications. This can also be seen in the picture above and may be easy to remember. The 25 series for UMTS mapped the same way to 36 series for LTE. Now the same mapping will be applied to 38 series for 5G. RRC specs would thus be 38.331.

    A simple comparison of 5G and LTE RRC states can be seen in the picture above. As can be seen, a new state 'RRC Inactive' has been introduced. The main aim is to maintain the RRC connection while at the same time minimize signalling and power consumption.

    Looking at the RRC specs you can see how 5G RRC states will work with 4G RRC states. There are still for further studies (FFS) items. Hopefully we will get more details soon.

    3GPP TS 22.261, Service requirements for the 5G system; Stage 1 suggests the following with regards to inter-working with 2G & 3G

    5.1.2.2Legacy service support
    The 5G system shall support all EPS capabilities (e.g., from TSs 22.011, 22.101, 22.278, 22.185, 22.071, 22.115, 22.153, 22.173) with the following exceptions:
    -CS voice service continuity and/or fallback to GERAN or UTRAN,
    -seamless handover between NG-RAN and GERAN,
    -seamless handover between NG-RAN and UTRAN, and
    -access to a 5G core network via GERAN or UTRAN.


    0 0


    Here is a quick tutorial on mobile network sharing approaches, looking at site/mast sharing, MORAN, MOCN and GWCN. Slides with video embedded below. If for some reason you prefer direct link to video, its here.




    See also:


    0 0


    Dr.Mehdi Bennis from Centre for Wireless Communications, University of Oulu, Finland recently did a keynote at The International Conference on Wireless Networks and Mobile Communications (WINCOM'17), November 01-04, 2017, Rabat, Morocco. He has shared his presentation with us. Its embedded below and available to download from Slideshare.

    Picture Source: Ericsson

    For those who may not be aware, there are 3 main use cases defined for 5G. As shown in the picture above, they are enhanced Mobile BroadBand (eMBB), Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and massive Machine Type Communications (mMTC). You can read the requirements here.



    Next week I am attending URLLC 2017, looking forward to some more discussions on this topic

    Follow the 5G label to learn more about 5G on 3G4G blog.

    0 0

    I tried the Facebook Live feature yesterday at the URLLC 2017 conference and recorded a couple of quick interviews with Martin Geddes and Prof. Andy Sutton. Hope you find them useful.

               


    0 0

    Picture Source: Martin Geddes

    It was a pleasure to attend this conference this week. Not only was the topic of interest but I am always impressed by how well EIE organizes their events. Instead of writing my own summary, here is a story created from tweets, 'The Mobile Network' live blog and a summary write-up from Martin Geddes. I have my takeaways below.



    My takeaway from the conference is that:

    • URLLC is going to be challenging but its achievable.
    • Ultra-reliable (UR) may have different use cases then low latency communication (LLC). Lumping them together in URLLC is not helpful.
    • Extremely low latency may not be achievable in every scenario. In some cases it would make more sense to continue with existing or proprietary solutions.
    • URLLC may not happen when 5G is rolled out initially but will happen not long after that. 
    • There are many verticals who may be able to take advantage of both the higher data rates that would come as part of eMBB and the low latency and high reliability as part of URLLC. 
    • The operators would have to foot the bill for upgrading the networks as there is a relucatnce from the verticals to invest in something they cant see or play with
    • There are verticals who invest heavily in alternative solutions that 5G may be able to solve. Some operators believe that this will bring new revenue to the mobile operators
    • Slicing has a lot of open questions including Security and SLAs - nobody has a clear cut answer at the moment
    • The industry is in a learning phase, figuring things out as they go along. There should be much more clarity next year.
    • #URLLC2018 is on 13 & 14 Nov. 2018 in London. Plenty of time to find all the answers 😉


    Further reading: