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Latest news and information on 3G, 4G, 5G wireless and technologies in general.
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    The last time I wrote about the free apps for field testing, many people came back and suggested additional apps that are much more commonly used. In fact we got the following comment when 3G4G re-posted this

    As I have used both these apps frequently, here is a small summary on them.

    Network Signal Guru: This is surprisingly very popular and is quite useful. The only issue is that you need to have a rooted phone with Qualcomm chipset. I know many testers have their favourite phones and quite a few testers buy the latest phones, root them and start testing using NSG (Network Signal Guru).

    I prefer using Motorola Moto Gx series phones. They are cheap, not too difficult to root (YouTube have quite a few tutorials and Google search works too) and I find that their receivers are better than others. Have detected cells that other phones cant and have even camped and speed tested on them too.

    So what can NSG do?

    It can provide lots of useful information on the physical layer, cell configurations, neighbor cell lists, MIMO, etc.
    You can even RAT lock to LTE / WCDMA / GSM and band lock to use a specific band. It can be very useful during surveys when you want to check if you can see particular frequency anywhere in an area. You can also see Codecs, RACH information, Data information, etc.

    Finally, one of the best things I find is the signalling information. Some of the details are only available for purchased option, its nevertheless very useful. Just in case you are wondering how much does it cost, its roughly £50 per month license in UK.


    Cell Mapper: I find this much more helpful as it can be used without rooting. CellMapper is a crowd-sourced cellular tower and coverage mapping service. Its simple and only used for basic testing but nevertheless very useful. To give you an idea, the other day I was camped on a cell with very good signal quality but very poor data rates and there weren't many people so congestion didn't seem like a factor. On investigation I found out that I was camped on 800MHz band that has limited bandwidth per operator and there was no CA.

    Cell mapper, as you can see provides information about the cell you are camped on, the cell tower location, what other sectors and frequencies are there, etc.


    Do you have a favorite testing app that I missed? Let me know in comments.

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    There seems to be a good amount of research going on in higher frequencies to see how a lot more spectrum with a lot more bandwidth can be used in future radio communications. NTT recently released information about "Ultra high-speed IC capable of wireless transmission of 100 gigabits per second in a 300 GHz band". Before we discuss anything, lets look at what Terahertz means from this article.

    Terahertz wave: Just as we use the phrase ‘kilo’ to mean 103 , so we use the term ‘giga’ to mean 109 and the term ‘tera’ to mean 1012 . “Hertz (Hz)” is a unit of a physical quantity called frequency. It indicates how many times alternating electric signals and electromagnetic waves change polarity (plus and minus) per second. That is, one terahertz (1 THz = 1,000 GHz) is the frequency of the electromagnetic wave changing the polarity by 1 × 1012 times per second. In general, a terahertz wave often indicates an electromagnetic wave of 0.3 THz to 3 THz.

    While there are quite a few different numbers, this is the one that is most commonly being used. The following is the details of research NTT did.

    In this research, we realized 100 Gbps wireless transmission with one wave (one carrier), so in the future, we can extend to multiple carriers by making use of the wide frequency band of 300 GHz band, and use spatial multiplexing technology such as MIMO and OAM. It is expected to be an ultra high-speed IC technology that enables high-capacity wireless transmission of 400 gigabits per second. This is about 400 times the current LTE and Wi-Fi, and 40 times 5G, the next-generation mobile communication technology. It is also expected to be a technology that opens up utilization of the unused terahertz wave frequency band in the communications field and non-communication fields.

    Complete article and paper available here.

    Huawei has also been doing research in W (92 - 114.5 GHz) and D (130 - 174.5 GHz) bands.


    A recent presentation by Debora Gentina, ETSI ISG mWT WI#8 Rapporteur at the UK Spectrum Policy Forum is embedded below.



    This presentation can be downloaded from UK SPF site here. Another event on beyond 100GHz that took place last year has some interesting presentations too. Again, on UKSPF site here.


    Ericsson has an interesting article in Technology Review, looking at beyond 100GHz from backhaul point of view. Its available here.

    If 5G is going to start using the frequencies traditionally used by backhaul then backhaul will have to start looking at other options too.

    Happy to listen to your thoughts and insights on this topic.

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    I was attending the IEEE 5G World Forum live-stream, courtesy of IEEE Tv and happen to hear Egil Gronstad, Senior Director of Technology Development and Strategy at T-Mobile USA. He said that they will be building a nationwide 5G network that will initially be based on 600 MHz band.


    During the Q&A, Egil mentioned that because of the way the USA has different markets, on average they have 31 MHz of 600 MHz (Band 71). The minimum is 20 MHz and the maximum is 50 MHz.

    So I started wondering how would they launch 4G & 5G in the same band for nationwide coverage? They have a good video on their 5G vision but that is of course probably going to come few years down the line.

    In simple terms, they will first deploy what is known as Option 3 or EN-DC. If you want a quick refresher on different options, you may want to jump to my tutorial on this topic at 3G4G here.

    The Master Node (recall dual connectivity for LTE, Release-12. See here) is an eNodeB. As with any LTE node, it can take bandwidths from 1.4 MHz to 20 MHz. So the minimum bandwidth for LTE node is 1.4 MHz.

    The Secondary Node is a gNodeB. Looking at 3GPP TS 38.101-1, Table 5.3.5-1 Channel bandwidths for each NR band, I can see that for band 71


    NR band / SCS / UE Channel bandwidth

    NR Band

    SCS

    kHz

    5 MHz

    101,2 MHz

    152 MHz

    202 MHz

    252 MHz

    30 MHz

    40 MHz

    50 MHz

    60 MHz

    80 MHz

    90 MHz

    100 MHz

    n71

    15

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes

    Yes









    30


    Yes

    Yes

    Yes









    60














    The minimum bandwidth is 5MHz. Of course this is paired spectrum for FDD band but the point I am making here is that you need just 6.4 MHz minimum to be able to support the Non-Standalone 5G option.

    I am sure you can guess that the speeds will not really be 5G speeds with this amount of bandwidth but I am looking forward to all these kind of complaints in the initial phase of 5G network rollout.

    I dont know what bandwidths T-Mobile will be using but we will see at least 10MHz of NR in case where the total spectrum is 20 MHz and 20 MHz of NR where the total spectrum is 50 MHz.

    If you look at the earlier requirements list, the number being thrown about for bandwidth was 100 MHz for below 6 GHz and up to 1 GHz bandwidth for spectrum above 6 GHz. Don't think there was a hard and fast requirement though.

    Happy to hear your thoughts.

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    5G will probably introduce tighter synchronization requirements than LTE. A recent presentation from Ericsson provides more details.

    In frequencies below 6GHz (referred to as frequency range 1 or FR1 in standards), there is a probability to use both FDD and TDD bands, especially in case of re-farming of existing bands. In frequencies above 6GHz (referred to as frequency range 2 or FR2 in standards, even though FR2 starts from 24.25 GHz), it is expected that all bands would be TDD.

    Interesting to see that the cell phase synchronization accuracy measured at BS antenna connectors is specified to be better than 3 μs in 3GPP TS 38 133. This translates into a network-wide requirements of +/-1.5 microseconds and is applicable to both FR1 and FR2, regardless of the cell size.

    Frequency Error for NR specified in 3GPP TS 38.104 states that the base station (BS) shall be accurate to within the following accuracy range observed over 1 ms:
    Wide Area BS → ±0.05 ppm
    Medium Range BS → ±0.1 ppm
    Local Area BS → ±0.1 ppm

    The presentation specifies that based on request by some operators, studies in ITU-T on the feasibility of solutions targeting end-to-end time synchronization requirements on the order of +/-100 ns to +/-300 ns

    There is also a challenge of how the sync information is transported within the network. The conclusion is that while the current LTE sync requirements would work in the short term, new solutions would be required in the longer term.

    If this is an area of interest, you will also enjoy watching CW Heritage SIG talk by Prof. Andy Sutton, "The history of synchronisation in digital cellular networks". Its available here.

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    Many regular readers of this blog are aware that back in 2014 I wrote a post looking critically at LTE-Broadcast business case and suggested a few approaches to make it a success. Back in those days, 2014 was being billed as the year of LTE-Broadcast or eMBMS (see here and here for example). I was just cautioning people against jumping on the LTE-B bandwagon.

    According to a recent GSA report 'LTE Broadcast (eMBMS) Market Update– March 2018':

    • thirty-nine operators are known to have been investing in eMBMS demonstrations, trials, deployments or launches
    • five operators have now deployed eMBMS or launched some sort of commercial service using eMBMS

    Its good to see some operators now getting ready to deploy eMBMS for broadcast TV scenarios. eMBMS will also be used in Mission Critical Communications for the features described here.

    In a recent news from the Australian operator Telstra:

    Telstra is now streaming live sports content to a massive base of around 1.2 million devices each weekend and sports fans consume 37 million minutes of live content over our apps on any given weekend.

    This increase brings new challenges to the way traffic on our mobile network is managed. Even though a large group of people might be streaming the same real-time content at the same time, we still need to ensure a high quality streaming experience for our customers.

    This challenge makes our sporting apps a prime use case for LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B).

    Earlier this year, we announced we would be turning on LTE-B functionality on the AFL Live Official app for Telstra customers with Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices. Following extensive testing, Telstra is the only operator in Australia – and one of the first in the world – to deploy LTE-B into its mobile network.

    At a live demonstration in Sydney, over 100 Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S9 devices were on display showing simultaneous high definition content from the AFL Live Official app using LTE-B.

    Its interesting to note here that the broadcast functionality (and probably intelligence) is built into the app.

    According to another Telstra news item (emphasis mine):

    The use of LTE-Broadcast technology changes the underlying efficiency of live video delivery as each cell can now support an unlimited number of users watching the same content with improved overall quality. To date though, LTE-B technology has required that a dedicated part of each cell’s capacity be set aside for broadcasting. This had made the LTE-B business case harder to prove in for lower streaming demand rates.

    This has now changed as Telstra and our partners have enabled the world’s first implementation of the Multicast Operation on Demand (MooD) feature whereby cells in the network only need to configure for LTE-B when there are multiple users watching the same content.

    This combined with the Service Continuity feature allows mobile users to move around the network seamlessly between cells configured for LTE-B and those which are not.

    Earlier this year we announced our intention to enable LTE-Broadcast (LTE-B) across our entire mobile network in 2018. With MooD and service continuity we are one step closer to that goal as we head into another year of major growth in sporting content demand.

    Supported by technology partners Ericsson and Qualcomm, Telstra has now delivered world first capability to ensure LTE-B can be delivered as efficiently as possible.

    Service Continuity will allow devices to transition in and out of LTE-B coverage areas without interruption. For instance, you might be at a music festival streaming an event on your phone but need to leave the venue and make your way back home (where LTE-B is not in use). Service Continuity means you can continue to watch the stream and the transition will be seamless – even though you have the left the broadcast area.

    Taking that a step further, MooD allows the network to determine how many LTE-B compatible devices in any given area are consuming the same content. MooD then intelligently activates or deactivates LTE-B, ensuring the mobile network is as efficient as possible in that location.

    For example, if a die-hard football fan is streaming a match we will likely service that one user with unicast, as that is the most efficient way of delivering the content. However if more users in the same cell decide to watch the match, MooD makes the decision automatically as to whether it is more efficient to service those users by switching the stream to broadcasting instead of individual unicast streams.

    Its good to see Ericsson & Qualcomm finally taking eMBMS to commercial deployment. Back in 2015, I added their videos from MWC that year. See post here.
    I think the Telstra post already provides info on why MooD is needed but this picture from Qualcomm whitepaper above makes it much clearer. Back in 3G MBMS and early days or eMBMS, there used to be a feature called counting, MooD is effectively doing the same thing.
    For Service Continuity, this paper 'Service Continuity for eMBMS in LTE/LTE-Advanced Network: Standard Analysis and Supplement' by Ngoc-Duy Nguyen and Christian Bonnet has interesting proposal on how it should be done. I cannot be sure if this is correct as per the latest specifications but its interesting to learn how this would be done when the user moves out of coverage area in Idle or connected mode.

    Note that this Expway paper also refers to Service continuity as Session continuity

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    One of the new entities introduced by 3GPP in the 5G Core SBA (see tutorial here) is Network Data Analytics Function, NWDAF.
    3GPP TR 23.791: Study of Enablers for Network Automation for 5G (Release 16) describes the following 5G Network Architecture Assumptions:

    1The NWDAF (Network Data Analytics Function) as defined in TS 23.503 is used for data collection and data analytics in centralized manner. An NWDAF may be used for analytics for one or more Network Slice.
    2For instances where certain analytics can be performed by a 5GS NF independently, a NWDAF instance specific to that analytic maybe collocated with the 5GS NF. The data utilized by the 5GS NF as input to analytics in this case should also be made available to allow for the centralized NWDAF deployment option.
    35GS Network Functions and OAM decide how to use the data analytics provided by NWDAF to improve the network performance.
    4NWDAF utilizes the existing service based interfaces to communicate with other 5GC Network Functions and OAM.
    5A 5GC NF may expose the result of the data analytics to any consumer NF utilizing a service based interface.
    6The interactions between NF(s) and the NWDAF take place in the local PLMN (the reporting NF and the NWDAF belong to the same PLMN).
    7Solutions shall neither assume NWDAF knowledge about NF application logic. The NWDAF may use subscription data but only for statistical purpose.

    Picture SourceApplication of Data Mining in the 5G Network Architecture by Alexandros Kaloxylos

    Continuing from 3GPP TR 23.791:

    The NWDAF may serve use cases belonging to one or several domains, e.g. QoS, traffic steering, dimensioning, security.
    The input data of the NWDAF may come from multiple sources, and the resulting actions undertaken by the consuming NF or AF may concern several domains (e.g. Mobility management, Session Management, QoS management, Application layer, Security management, NF life cycle management).
    Use case descriptions should include the following aspects:
    1.General characteristics (domain: performance, QoS, resilience, security; time scale).
    2.Nature of input data (e.g. logs, KPI, events).
    3.Types of NF consuming the NWDAF output data, how data is conveyed and nature of consumed analytics.
    4.Output data.
    5.Possible examples of actions undertaken by the consuming NF or AF, resulting from these analytics.
    6.Benefits, e.g. revenue, resource saving, QoE, service assurance, reputation.

    Picture SourceApplication of Data Mining in the 5G Network Architecture by Alexandros Kaloxylos

    3GPP TS 23.501 V15.2.0 (2018-06) Section 6.2.18says:

    NWDAF represents operator managed network analytics logical function. NWDAF provides slice specific network data analytics to a NF. NWDAF provides network analytics information (i.e., load level information) to a NF on a network slice instance level and the NWDAF is not required to be aware of the current subscribers using the slice. NWDAF notifies slice specific network status analytic information to the NFs that are subscribed to it. NF may collect directly slice specific network status analytic information from NWDAF. This information is not subscriber specific.

    In this Release of the specification, both PCF and NSSF are consumers of network analytics. The PCF may use that data in its policy decisions. NSSF may use the load level information provided by NWDAF for slice selection.

    NOTE 1:NWDAF functionality beyond its support for Nnwdaf is out of scope of 3GPP.
    NOTE 2:NWDAF functionality for non-slice-specific analytics information is not supported in this Release of the specification.

    3GPP Release-16 is focusing on 5G Expansion and 5G Efficiency, SON and Big Data are part of 5G Efficiency.
    Light Reading Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning section has a news item on this topic from Layer123's Zero Touch & Carrier Automation Congress:

    The 3GPP standards group is developing a machine learning function that could allow 5G operators to monitor the status of a network slice or third-party application performance.

    The network data analytics function (NWDAF) forms a part of the 3GPP's 5G standardization efforts and could become a central point for analytics in the 5G core network, said Serge Manning, a senior technology strategist at Sprint Corp.

    Speaking here in Madrid, Manning said the NWDAF was still in the "early stages" of standardization but could become "an interesting place for innovation."

    The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) froze the specifications for a 5G new radio standard at the end of 2017 and is due to freeze another set of 5G specifications, covering some of the core network and non-radio features, in June this year as part of its "Release 15" update.

    Manning says that Release 15 considers the network slice selection function (NSSF) and the policy control function (PCF) as potential "consumers" of the NWDAF. "Anything else is open to being a consumer," he says. "We have things like monitoring the status of the load of a network slice, or looking at the behavior of mobile devices if you wanted to make adjustments. You could also look at application performance."

    In principle, the NWDAF would be able to make use of any data in the core network. The 3GPP does not plan on standardizing the algorithms that will be used but rather the types of raw information the NWDAF will examine. The format of the analytics information that it produces might also be standardized, says Manning.

    Such technical developments might help operators to provide network slices more dynamically on their future 5G networks.

    Generally seen as one of the most game-changing aspects of 5G, the technique of network slicing would essentially allow an operator to provide a number of virtual network services over the same physical infrastructure.

    For example, an operator could provide very high-speed connectivity for mobile gaming over one slice and a low-latency service for factory automation on another -- both reliant on the same underlying hardware.

    However, there is concern that without greater automation operators will have less freedom to innovate through network slicing. "If operators don't automate they will be providing capacity-based slices that are relatively large and static and undifferentiated and certainly not on a per-customer basis," says Caroline Chappell, an analyst with Analysys Mason .

    In a Madrid presentation, Chappell said that more granular slicing would require "highly agile end-to-end automation" that takes advantage of progress on software-defined networking and network functions virtualization.

    "Slices could be very dynamic and perhaps last for only five minutes," she says. "In the very long term, applications could create their own slices."

    Despite the talk of standardization, and signs of good progress within the 3GPP, concern emerged this week in Madrid that standards bodies are not moving quickly enough to address operators' needs.

    Caroline Chappell's talk is available here whereas Serge Manning's talk is embedded below:



    I am helping CW organise the annual CW TEC conference on the topic The inevitable automation of Next Generation Networks
    Communications networks are perhaps the most complex machines on the planet. They use vast amounts of hardware, rely on complex software, and are physically distributed over land, underwater, and in orbit. They increasingly provide essential services that underpin almost every aspect of life. Managing networks and optimising their performance is a vast challenge, and will become many times harder with the advent of 5G. The 4th Annual CW Technology Conference will explore this challenge and how Machine Learning and AI may be applied to build more reliable, secure and better performing networks.

    Is the AI community aware of the challenges facing network providers? Are the network operators and providers aware of how the very latest developments in AI may provide solutions? The conference will aim to bridge the gap between AI/ML and communications network communities, making each more aware of the nature and scale of the problems and the potential solutions.

    I am hoping to see some of this blog readers at the conference. Looking forward to learning more on this topic amongst others for network automation.

    Related Post:


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    Source: ITU

    As per this recent ITU Press Release:

    The International Telecommunication Union, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technology (ICT), has launched a new research initiative to identify emerging and future ICT sector network demands, beyond 2030 and the advances expected of IMT-2020 (5G) systems. This work will be carried out by the newly established ITU Focus Group on Technologies for Network 2030, which is open to all interested parties.

    The ITU focus group aims to guide the global ICT community in developing a "Network 2030" vision for future ICTs. This will include new concepts, new architecture, new protocols – and new solutions – that are fully backward compatible, so as to support both existing and new applications.

    "The work of the ITU Focus Group on Technologies for 'Network 2030' will provide network system experts around the globe with a very valuable international reference point from which to guide the innovation required to support ICT use cases through 2030 and beyond," said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.

    These ICT use cases will span new media such as hologrammes, a new generation of augmented and virtual reality applications, and high-precision communications for 'tactile' and 'haptic' applications in need of processing a very high volume of data in near real-time – extremely high throughput and low latency.   

    Emphasizing this need, the focus group's chairman, Huawei's Richard Li, said, "This Focus Group will look at new media, new services and new architectures. Holographic type communications will have a big part to play in industry, agriculture, education, entertainment – and in many other fields. Supporting such capabilities will call for very high throughput in the range of hundreds of gigabits per second or even higher."

    The ITU Focus Group on Technologies for 'Network 2030' is co-chaired by Verizon's Mehmet Toy, Rostelecom's Alexey Borodin, China Telecom's Yuan Zhang, Yutaka Miyake from KDDI Research, and is coordinated through ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Sector – which works with ITU's 193 Member States and more than 800 industry and academic members to establish international standards for emerging ICT innovations.

    The ITU focus group reports to and will inform a new phase of work of the ITU standardization expert group for 'Future Networks' – Study Group 13. It will also strengthen and leverage collaborative relationships with and among other standards development organizations including: The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Data Communications (ACM SIGCOMM), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' Communications Society (IEEE ComSoc).
    Source: ITU

    According to the Focus Group page:

    The FG NET-2030, as a platform to study and advance international networking technologies, will investigate the future network architecture, requirements, use cases, and capabilities of the networks for the year 2030 and beyond. 

    The objectives include: 

    • To study, review and survey existing technologies, platforms, and standards for identifying the gaps and challenges towards Network 2030, which are not supported by the existing and near future networks like 5G/IMT-2020.
    • To formulate all aspects of Network 2030, including vision, requirements, architecture, novel use cases, evaluation methodology, and so forth.
    • To provide guidelines for standardization roadmap.
    • To establish liaisons and relationships with other SDOs.

    An ITU interview with Dr. Richard Li, Huawei, Chairman of the ITU-T FG on Network 2030 is available on YouTube here.

    A recent presentation by Dr. Richard Li on this topic is embedded below:



    First Workshop on Network 2030 will be held in New York City, United States on 2 October 2018. Details here.

    Related News:


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    Its been a while since I blogged about pricing strategies (see old posts here, here and here). I recently enjoyed listening to Soichi Nakajima, Director of "Digital Telco and OTT" at IDATE DigiWorld when he presented a talk on LTE pricing strategy. The slides are embedded below



    I think the slides are self-explanatory but here is the summary worth highlighting:

    How LTE plans have changed: shift in focus from data allowance to quality of service 

    • Mobile data services are still largely structured by on data allowance, but high volume and unlimited plans are increasingly common. 
    • Unlimited does not necessarily mean high-end: some target users with a small budget, providing a very slow connection. 
    • Quality of service becoming central in structuring product lines – especially speed which my or may not be combined with data caps – as is content quality. 
    • Certain applications being favoured through zero rating (traffic not deducted from the customer’s allowance). This can be a way to market unlimited plans and avoid fixed-mobile substitution. 
    • Growing number of partnerships with OTT video services, rather than selling premium content plans, which are tending to wane.

    The slides are available to download from techUK page here. There is also a bonus presentation on "How to address the challenges of providing connectivity on trains".

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    Earlier, I wrote a detailed post on how Telefonica was on a mission to connect 100 Million Unconnected with their 'Internet para todos' initiative. This video below is a good advert of what Telefinica is trying to achieve in Latin America


    I recently came across a LinkedIn post on how Telefónica uses AI / ML to connect the unconnected by Patrick Lopez, VP Networks Innovation @ Telefonica. It was no brainer that this needs to be shared.



    In his post, Patrick mentions the following:

    To deliver internet in these environments in a sustainable manner, it is necessary to increase efficiency through systematic cost reduction, investment optimization and targeted deployments.

    Systematic optimization necessitates continuous measurement of the financial, operational, technological and organizational data sets.

    1. Finding the unconnected


    The first challenge the team had to tackle was to understand how many unconnected there are and where. The data set was scarce and incomplete, census was old and population had much mobility. In this case, the team used high definition satellite imagery at the scale of the country and used neural network models, coupled with census data as training. Implementing visual machine learning algorithms, the model literally counted each house and each settlement at the scale of the country. The model was then enriched with crossed reference coverage data from regulatory source, as well as Telefonica proprietary data set consisting of geolocalized data sessions and deployment maps. The result is a model with a visual representation, providing a map of the population dispersion, with superimposed coverage polygons, allowing to count and localize the unconnected populations with good accuracy (95% of the population with less than 3% false positive and less than 240 meters deviation in the location of antennas).


    2. Optimizing transport



    Transport networks are the most expensive part of deploying connectivity to remote areas. Optimizing transport route has a huge impact on the sustainability of a network. This is why the team selected this task as the next challenge to tackle.

    The team started with adding road and infrastructure data to the model form public sources, and used graph generation to cluster population settlements. Graph analysis (shortest path, Steiner tree) yielded population density-optimized transport routes.


    3. AI to optimize network operations


    To connect very remote zones, optimizing operations and minimizing maintenance and upgrade is key to a sustainable operational model. This line of work is probably the most ambitious for the team. When it can take 3 hours by plane and 4 days by boat to reach some locations, being able to make sure you can detect, or better, predict if / when you need to perform maintenance on your infrastructure. Equally important is how your devise your routes so that you are as efficient as possible. In this case, the team built a neural network trained with historical failure analysis and fed with network metrics to provide a model capable of supervising the network health in an automated manner, with prediction of possible failure and optimized maintenance route.

    I think that the type of data driven approach to complex problem solving demonstrated in this project is the key to network operators' sustainability in the future. It is not only a rural problem, it is necessary to increase efficiency and optimize deployment and operations to keep decreasing the costs.


    Finally, its worth mentioning again that I am helping CW (Cambridge Wireless) organise their annual CW TEC conference on the topic 'The inevitable automation of Next Generation Networks'. There are some good speakers and we will have similar topics covered from different angles, using some other interesting approaches. The fees are very reasonable so please join if you can.

    Related posts:

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    LiFi has been popping up in the news recently. I blogged about it (as LED-Fi) 10 years back. While the concept has remained the same, many of the limitations associated with the technology has been overcome. One of the companies driving LiFi is Scottish startup called pureLiFi.


    I heard Professor Harald Haas at IEEE Glasgow Summit speak about how many of the limitations of LiFi have been overcome in the last few years (see videos below). This is a welcome news as there is a tremendous amount of Visible Light Spectrum that is available for exploitation.


    While many discussions on LiFi revolve round its use as access technology, I think the real potential lies in its use as backhaul for densification.

    For 5G, when we are looking at small cells, every few hundred meters, probably on streetlights and lamp posts, there is a requirement for alternative backhaul to fiber. Its difficult to run fiber to each and every lamp post. Traditionally, this was solved by microwave solutions but another option available in 5G is Integrated Access and Backhauling (IAB) or Self-backhauling.


    A better alternative could be to use LiFi for this backhauling between lamp posts or streetlights. This can help avoid complications with IAB when multiple nodes are close by and also any complications with the technology until it matures. This approach is of course being trialed but as the picture above shows, rural backhaul is just one option.
    LiFi is being studied as part of IEEE 802.11bb group as well as its potential is being considered for 5G.

    Here is a vieo playlist explaining LiFi technology in detail.




    Further reading:

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    We have just produced a new tutorial on Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). The high level introductory tutorial looks at what is meant by Fixed Wireless Access, which is being touted as one of the initial 5G use cases. This presentation introduces FWA and looks at a practical deployment example.

    According to GSA report, "Global Progress to 5G – Trials, Deployments and Launches", July 2018:

    One use-case that has gained prominence is the use of 5G to deliver fixed wireless broadband services. We have identified 20 tests so far that have specifically focused on the fixed wireless access (FWA) use-case, which is five more than three months ago.

    Embedded below is the video and presentation of the FWA tutorial.



    If you found this useful, you would be interested in other tutorials on the 3G4G website here.

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    I recently realised that I have never written a post just on Network slicing. So here is one on the topic. So the first question asked is, why do we even need Network Slicing? Alan Carlton from Interdigital wrote a good article on this topic. Below is what I think is interesting:

    Network slicing is a specific form of virtualization that allows multiple logical networks to run on top of a shared physical network infrastructure. The key benefit of the network slicing concept is that it provides an end-to-end virtual network encompassing not just networking but compute and storage functions too. The objective is to allow a physical mobile network operator to partition its network resources to allow for very different users, so-called tenants, to multiplex over a single physical infrastructure. The most commonly cited example in 5G discussions is sharing of a given physical network to simultaneously run Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Broadband (MBB), and very low-latency (e.g. vehicular communications) applications. These applications obviously have very different transmission characteristics. For example, IoT will typically have a very large number of devices, but each device may have very low throughput. MBB has nearly the opposite properties since it will have a much smaller number of devices, but each one will be transmitting or receiving very high bandwidth content. The intent of network slicing is to be able to partition the physical network at an end-to-end level to allow optimum grouping of traffic, isolation from other tenants, and configuring of resources at a macro level.

    Source: ITU presentation, see below

    The key differentiator of the network slicing approach is that it provides a holistic end-to-end virtual network for a given tenant. No existing QoS-based solution can offer anything like this. For example, DiffServ, which is the most widely deployed QoS solution, can discriminate VoIP traffic from other types of traffic such as HD video and web browsing. However, DiffServ cannot discriminate and differentially treat the same type of traffic (e.g. VoIP traffic) coming from different tenants.

    Also, DiffServ does not have the ability to perform traffic isolation at all. For example, IoT traffic from a health monitoring network (e.g. connecting hospitals and outpatients) typically have strict privacy and security requirements including where the data can be stored and who can access it. This cannot be accomplished by DiffServ as it does not have any features dealing with the compute and storage aspects of the network. All these identified shortfalls of DiffServ will be handled by the features being developed for network slicing.

    I came across this presentation by Peter Ashwood-Smith from Huawei Technologies who presented '5G End to-end network slicing Demo' at ITU-T Focus Group IMT-2020 Workshop and Demo Day on 7 December 2016. Its a great presentation, I wish a video of this was available as well. Anyway, the presentation is embedded below and the PPT can be downloaded from here.



    The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) has established a new Industry Specification Group (ISG) on Zero touch network and Service Management (ZSM) that is working to produce a set of technical specifications on fully automated network and service management with, ideally, zero human intervention. ZSM is targeted for 5G, particularly in network slice deployment. NTT Technical review article on this is available here.

    Finally, here is a presentation by Sridhar Bhaskaran of Cellular Insights blog on this topic. Unfortunately, not available for download.

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    I first mentioned Quintel in this blog three years back for their innovations in 4T8R/8T8R antennas. Since then they have been going strength to strength.


    I heard David Barker, CTO of Quintel at Cambridge Wireless event titled "Radio technology for 5G – making it work" talking about the antennas consideration for 5G. There are quite a few important areas in this presentation for consideration. The presentation is embedded below:



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    A recent Cambridge Wireless event 'Radio technology for 5G – making it work' was an excellent event where all speakers delivered an interesting and insightful presentation. These presentations are all available to view and download for everyone for a limited time here.

    I blogged about the base station antennas last week but there are other couple of presentations that stood out for me.


    The first was an excellent presentation from Sylvia Lu from u-Blox, also my fellow CW Board Member. Her talk covered variety of topics including IoT, IIoT, LTE-V2X and Cellular positioning, including 5G NR Positioning Trend. The presentation is embedded below and available to download from Slideshare





    The other presentation on 5G NR was one from Yinan Qi of Samsung R&D. His presentation looked at variety of topics, mainly Layer 1 including Massive MIMO, Beamforming, Beam Management, Bandwidth Part, Reference Signals, Phase noise, etc. His presentation is embedded below and can be downloaded from SlideShare.



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    In the big world of IoT, location tracking  is the  next  frontier!. Location tracking for humans is already an integral part of our lives especially for navigation. Traditional technologies enabling this are  not only expensive, they  have technical boundaries preventing scaling. For IoT geolocation to become a true reality, it is inevitable it has to be  extremely accurate, extremely low cost, and extremely low touch. 

    Where is the market?


    Research and Markets predict revenues from Geo IoT will reach $49 billion by 2021.

    Just as location determination has become an essential element of personal communications, so shall presence detection and location-aware technologies be key to the long-term success of the Internet of Things (IoT). Geo IoT will positively impact many industry verticals. – Research and Market report about “Geo IoT Technologies, Services, and Applications Market Outlook: Positioning, Proximity, Location Data and Analytics 2016 – 2021.”

    Connecting IoT objects is already a large market growing exponentially with the mix of unlicensed Low-Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) technologies such as LoRaWAN, and combined more recent introduction of Cellular IoT technologies such as NB-IoT and LTE-M. Adding Geolocation to this introduces a whole range of new applications not possible before. Some of these applications are:
    1. Asset Management
    2. Fleet Management
    3. Anti-theft scooter/bike rental
    4. Logistics/parcel bags tracking
    5. Worker safety for Oil and Gas
    6. Elderly and Disabled care
    7. Tracking solution for skiers
    8. Pets and Animal tracking

    The above applications represent large existing market which can be only be enabled with extremely low cost and low power trackers. This is the reason why LPWAN-enabled geolocation is in fact a separate product category for large existing market.

    The challenges involved (Asset tracking as an example case study)


    Railway cars, truck trailers, containers: tracking valuable assets on the move is a pain point for most large distributed organizations involved in logistics and supply chain, typically relying on partners such as distributors to correctly register check-in and check-out events. This registration process at specific checkpoints is usually manual, intermittent and subject to human errors.  To tackle this issue, an IoT low power asset tracking system using LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) trackers brings a “timeless” checkpoint solution. Specifically, LoRaWAN™-based trackers, because of their low power, low cost and lightweight infrastructure, provide a first truly reliable tracking solution allowing to reduce downtime during transportation. 

    In the logistics sector, many business cases involve additional costs due to inefficient utilization of assets. Transport companies need to invest in freight railway cars, car logistics companies need to invest in truck trailers, and of course there are the standard containers and pallets.

    “The profitability of these business cases directly depends on the minimization of asset downtime: every day or hour lost in a warehouse, parking or rail station reduces the number of times the moving asset will generate profit in a year.”

    However, measuring this downtime is also a challenge. Traditional solutions involved cellular or satellite trackers, which require significant CAPEX, but perhaps more importantly also ongoing OPEX due to battery replacements and connectivity costs. In some cases, trackers are located in hard to reach areas especially when mounted on railroad cars, or in oil and gas rigs, which makes it very costly to replace batteries especially if there are several hundreds of thousands of trackers deployed in the field. The battery replacement is done by humans and is one of the dominating OPEX factors in overall Total Cost of Ownership ( TCO) of the whole solution. These replacement costs actually made it difficult to justify the mass adoption of conventional geolocation solutions in the logistics sector.


    LPWAN trackers: a game changer

    LoRaWAN  is LPWAN connectivity standard developed by LoRa Alliance primarily for unlicensed ISM spectrum, to create disruption in both the technology and business models. On the technology front, the main impact is on drastic reduction of power consumption, which reduces battery usage and ultimately also OPEX related to ongoing maintenance. It also creates new opportunities for more dynamic tracking, as communication events are less costly. On the business model side, logistics companies can now trade off between CAPEX and OPEX: most LPWAN systems operate on an unlicensed band, for example the leading LoRaWAN™  technology operates in the 915MHz band in the US, the 868MHz band in Europe and equivalent ISM bands in other parts of the world. This means that logistics companies can invest in their own wireless networks to reduce or eliminate variable connectivity costs.

    “The cost of LPWAN radio network gateways has decreased due to higher production volumes and are now affordable even to very small logistic centers, such as a car distributor. “

     Next generation LPWAN trackers


    The potential of LPWAN-enabled tracking requires a new generation of hardware. The lower radio frequency power consumption is only a part of a massive effort to decrease overall power consumption of the whole system. This requires developing a multi-technology geolocation tracker platform that can combine GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi Sniffing, WiFi fingerprinting and Bluetooth with the goal of reducing power consumption and provide location information opportunistically in variety of scenarios such as (indoor/outdoor, urban/rural, slow/fast moving and so on). 

    Another key factor is the usage of LPWAN technologies such as (LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for transporting geolocation data back to the cloud. This is the key as traditional cellular technologies such as 2G/3G/4G are just too power hungry to meet the target goal of 5-10 year battery lifetime. However, there will be licensed Cellular IoT options based on NB-IoT/LTE-M that will be also be used for some of the applications.

    IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

    LoRaWAN and Low Power GPS significantly increases battery lifetime

    IoT geolocation asset tracking, logistics, rolling stock tracking, containers tracking, trucks tracking, supply chain, internet of things, LoRa

    Merging an IoT network solution such as LoRaWAN with  multi-mode geolocation technologies for outdoor and indoor positioning increase by at least a factor of 10 the battery lifetime compared to the standard cellular solution using GSM/AGPS. Source: Actility

    The Road Ahead:


    The next frontier in IoT geolocation will be two fold. The first will be the multi-technology cloud platform that will combine intelligently Over-The-Top (OTT) geolocation technologies such as GPS, Low-Power GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth with network based TDoA geolocation technologies using LoRaWAN and/or Cellular. This requires close cooperation between public network operators with geolocation service providers.

    Webinar: MULTI-TECHNOLOGY IOT GEOLOCATION
    The future of IoT geolocation is multi-technology


    In order to shed some light on the above mentioned points, we are hosting a webinar that explains where  we will explore the challenges of network-based geolocation and how it can be combined with other geolocation technologies such as GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth. We will explain how multi-technology geolocation differs from traditional cellular+GPS based geolocation, and show how it opens up an entirely new market and product category. We’ll also explore how multi-technology geolocation meets the requirements and use cases for connecting small sensors which are low-cost with very long battery lifetime. A guest speaker from KPN will share selected case studies demonstrating IoT geolocation deployments and discuss real-world experience. The webinar will conclude with outlook for technological evolution in the field, and give an overview of our Location portfolio.

    What will you learn from this webinar?
    1. What are the market opportunities and use cases enabled by IoT Geolocation?
    2. What are the benefits of multi-technology geolocation?
    3. What are the benefits of using LPWAN technologies(LoRaWAN, NB-IoT, LTE-M) for connectivity?
    4. How LPWAN-enabled Geolocation will evolve in the future?
    5. How is Actility building multi-technology geolocation platform?

    Follow the link below for registration to the webinar,

    For any questions, contact the author below,

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    I was part of Cambridge Wireless CWTEC 2018 organising committee where our event 'The inevitable automation of Next Generation Networks' covered variety of topics with AI, 5G, devices, network planning, etc. The presentations are available freely for a limited period here.

    One of the thought provoking presentations was by Yue Wang from Samsung R&D. The presentation is embedded below and can be downloaded from Slideshare.



    This presentation also brought out some interesting thoughts and discussions:

    • While the device-level AI and network-level AI would generally work cooperatively, there is a risk that some vendor may play the system to make their devices perform better than the competitors. Something similar to the signaling storm generated by SCRI (see here).
    • If the device-level and network-level AI works constructively, an operator may be able to claim that their network can provide a better battery life for a device. For example iPhone XYZ has 25% better battery life on our network rather than competitors network.
    • If the device-level and network-level AI works destructively for any reason then the network can become unstable and the other users may experience issues. 

    I guess all these enhancements will start slowly and there will be lots of learning in the first few years before we have a stable, mutually beneficial solution.

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  • 10/08/18--10:09: Wi-Fi gets new name

  • Wi-Fi Alliance has announced that the next generation WiFi technology, 802.11ax, will be known as Wi-Fi 6. This is to probably make it simpler, similar to mobile technology generations. Everyone knows 3G and 4G but how many people know UMTS or LTE. Similarly they are hoping that people will be aware of Wi-Fi 4, 5 & 6. They haven't bothered to name anything below Wi-Fi 4.


    Looking at this picture from R&S above, you can see that according to Wi-Fi Alliance naming convention:

    Wi-Fi 1: 802.11a (1999)
    Wi-Fi 2: 802.11b (1999)
    Wi-Fi 3: 802.11g (2003)
    Wi-Fi 4: 802.11n (2009)
    Wi-Fi 5: 802.11ac (2014)
    Wi-Fi 6: 802.11ax (2019)

    Anyway, I am not going in any technical details in this post but look for the really good links on this topic below.

    To learn more about the naming of next-gen Wi-Fi, check this link.

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    I recently heard Iris Barcia, COO of Keima speak after nearly 6 years at Cambridge Wireless CWTEC 2018. The last time I heard her, it was part of CW Small Cells SIG, where I used to be a SIG (special interest group) champion. Over the last 6 years, the network planning needs have changed from planning for coverage to planning for capacity from the beginning. This particular point started a little debate that I will cover in another post, but you can sneak a peek here 😉.

    Embedded below is the video and presentation. The slides can be downloaded from SlideShare.





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    ICYMI, we created an updated video on 5G Network Architecture options. The videos and slides are embedded below.



    This updated presentation/video looks at 5G Network Architecture options that have been proposed by 3GPP for deployment of 5G. It covers the Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA) architecture. In the NSA architecture, EN-DC (E-UTRA-NR Dual Connectivity), NGEN-DC (NG-RAN E-UTRA-NR Dual Connectivity) and NE-DC (NR-E-UTRA Dual Connectivity) has been looked at. Finally, migration strategies proposed by vendors and operators (MNOs / SPs) have been discussed.


    Nokia has also released a whitepaper on this topic that I only became aware of after my slides / video were done. More details in the tweet below.


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    Today I read about HTC's Exodus 1, new Blockchain smartphone that only people with crypto-currency can buy. SCMP described in very simple terms what this phone is for:

    Both HTC’s Exodus and Sirin’s Finney smartphones feature a built-in digital wallet application that will enable users to securely store and use cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin and ethereum, in daily transactions.

    Those smartphones are designed to replace the special memory sticks, which employ complex usernames and passwords to access, that cryptocurrency investors use to store their digital money. These investors typically store most of their cryptocurrencies in such hardware, which are kept offline as a means of security.

    “There are things that a phone manufacturer can do with a chip that nobody else can,” said Chen. “We want to be safer than the existing hardware wallets … HTC has a track record of making trusted hardware.”

    The company’s Exodus smartphone, for example, can serve as a “node”, which can connect to certain blockchain networks to enable trading of tokens between users. It will also be able to act as a so-called mining rig for users to earn new tokens tied to the Exodus blockchain.

    “At some point, we’ll do our own utility token,” said Chen, adding that there was no timetable for such a token release.

    HTC’s foray into blockchain, the distributed ledger technology behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, represents a strategy to keep the company relevant in smartphones, which is a market dominated by Samsung Electronics and Apple, followed by Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi and other major Chinese brands.

    Anyway, the blockchain smartphone reminds me of the joke above (via marketoonist). The second technology mentioned in this joke is AI or Artificial Intelligence.

    I heard HP Enterprise talk about AI recently and this picture above is a nice simple way to show how Deep Learning (DL), Artificial Neural Networks (ANN), Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are related.

    I see AI and blockchain often referred to together. This does not necessarily mean that they are related. iDate allowed me to share a recent presentation (embedded below) that refers to AI & blockchain as Yin and Yang. Anyway, I am happy to learn more so if you have any thoughts please feel free to share.



    Further Reading:


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    3GPP held a workshop on 5G NR submission towards IMT-2020 last week. You can access all the agenda, documents, etc. on the 3GPP website here. You can also get a combined version of all presentations from the 3G4G website here. I also wrote a slightly detailed article on this workshop on 3G4G website here.

    One of the presentations on 'Physical layer structure, numerology and frame structure, NR spectrum utilization mechanism 3GPP 5G NR submission towards IMT-2020' by Havish Koorapaty, Ericsson is a good introductory material on 5G New Radio (NR) Physical Layer. It is embedded below (thanks to Eiko Seidel for sharing) and the PDF can be downloaded from slideshare or 3G4G website here.



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    Back in summer I wrote about how Telefonica and Parallel Wireless(*) are on a mission to connect 100 Million Unconnected and then followed it by a blog post with information from Patrick Lopez, VP Networks Innovation @ Telefonica about how Telefonica is using Big Data, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Connect the Unconnected.

    In the Facebook TIP Summit last month, Roger Greene, Rural Access Lead, Connectivity Ecosystem Programs, Facebook talked to Juan Campillo, Internet Para Todos Lead, Telefónica & Omar Tupayachi, Founder & CEO, Mayutel about how they are connecting the unconnected. The discussion embedded below, starts with a very nice video about how connectivity is making a difference in Peru. In fact that video inspired me to do this post 😊.

    Mayutel was described as Peru's first rural operator. It was founded in 2015 and works in over 150 areas. It has 25 employees.

    During the discussion some interesting points were discussed like planning, the reason its important is that if you dont do proper planning and analytics, you can use small cells instead of macros and vice versa. Also, some solutions are worth trying in the field as its only when deployed, it can be tested in real-world scenarios.

    Connectivity is very important for the rural people in Peru, like every other country. Approximately 4 million Peruvians have only got access to 2G technology. It would help if they have access to have 3G & 4G too. It not only helps connect the people on the move to their loved ones back home, it also helps small businesses who reply on messaging group communications to solve their issues and ask for help & advice.
    Due to the Open RAN approach, the cost of deployment has reduced by 50-70%. Mayutel mentioned that they were able to deploy a site at 1/10th the cost it would normally take. This was all thanks to the open approach where their engineers can learn how to deploy the complete solution. It was vital to use local help not only in terms of knowledge but also in terms of manpower.

    There were some good lessons and learning but in the end for this to scale more operators need to become part of the Telecom Infra Project and make this successfully happen.




    Here is another video from Parallel Wireless on their deployments in Peru.




    All videos from TIP Summit 2018 are available here.

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    *Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director in Strategic Marketing. This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and expresses my own views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. Anyone who knows me well would know this.

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    3GPP held a workshop on 5G NR submission towards IMT-2020 last week. You can access all the agenda, documents, etc. on the 3GPP website here. You can also get a combined version of all presentations from the 3G4G website here. I also wrote a slightly detailed article on this workshop on 3G4G website here.

    The following is nice overview of the 5G Radio Interface protocol as defined by 3GPP in NR Rel.15 by Sudeep Palat, Intel. The document was submitted to the 3GPP workshop on ITU submission in Brussels on Oct 24, 2018.



    The presentation discusses NR radio interface architecture and protocols for control and user plane; covering RRC, SDAP, PDCP, RLC and MAC, focussing on differences and performance benefits compared to LTE.  RRC states and state transitions with reduced transition delays are also discussed.

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  • 11/24/18--01:51: 5G Top-10 Misconceptions

  • Here is a video we did a few weeks back to clear the misconceptions about 5G. The list above summarizes the topics covered.



    The video is nearly 29 minutes long. If you prefer a shorter version or are bored of hearing me 😜 then a summary version (just over 3 minutes) is in 3G4G tweet below.


    The slides can be downloaded from our Slideshare channel as always.

    As always, we love your feedback, even when you strongly disagree.

    Other interesting recent posts on 5G:



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    The GSMA Mobile Economy 2018 report forecasts that 2G will still be around in 2025 and the dominant technology will be 3G in Africa. GSMA Intelligence Global Mobile Trends highlighted similar numbers but North Africa was missing in that report. As you can see in the picture below, 3G devices will make up 62% of the total number of devices in Sub-Saharan Africa and 37% in MENA.

    Similar information was provided by Navindran Naidoo, Executive, Network Planning & Design, MTN Group in TIP Summit 2017 and Babak Fouladi, Technology and Information System (Group CTIO) , MTN Group in TIP Summit 2018. In fact Babak had a slide that showed 3G devices would make up 61%  of total devices in 2025 in Africa. Rob Shuter, Group President and CEO, MTN Group said at AfricaCom 2018 that Africa lags 7 years behind the Western countries in mobile technologies. Though this may not be universally true, its nevertheless a fact in many areas of the Continent as can be seen from the stats.

    In my blog post "2G / 3G Switch Off: A Tale of Two Worlds", I said operators in many developing countries that maybe forced to switch off a technology would rather switch 3G off as they have a big base of 2G users and 3G devices can always fall back on 2G.

    So what are the main reasons so many users are still on 2G devices or feature phones? Here are some that I can think off the top of my head:
    • Hand-me-downs
    • Cheap and affordable
    • Given as a gift (generally because its cheap and affordable)
    • 2G has better coverage than 3G and 4G in many parts of the world
    • Second/Third device, used as backup for voice calls
    • Most importantly - battery can last for a long time
    This last point is important for many people across different parts of the world. In many developing countries electricity is at a premium. Many villages don't have electricity and people have to take a trip to a market or another village to get their phones charged. This is an expensive process. (Interesting article on this here and here). In developed countries, many schools do not allow smartphones. In many cases, the kids have a smartphone switched off in their bag or left at home. For parents to keep in touch, these kids usually have a feature phone too. 

    While all feature phones that were available until couple of years ago were 2G phones, things have been changing recently. In an earlier tweet I mentioned that Reliance Jio has become a world leader in feature phones:


    I also wrote about Jio phone 2 launch, which is still selling very well. So what is common between Jio phones and Nokia 8110 4G, a.k.a. Banana phone

    They both use a new mobile operating system called KaiOS. So what is KaiOS?

    KaiOS originates from the Firefox OS open-source project which started in 2011 and has continued independently from Mozilla since 2016. Today, KaiOS is a web-based operating system that enables a new category of lite phones and other IoT devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience through leading apps and services. KaiOS is a US-based company with additional offices in France, Germany, Taiwan, India, Brazil, Hong Kong, and mainland China. You can find a list of KaiOS powered devices here. In fact you can see the specifications of all the initial devices using KaiOS here.

    Here is a video that explains why we need KaiOS:



    There are couple of really good blog posts by Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS:

    There is so much information in both these articles that I will have to copy and paste the entire articles to do them justice. Instead, I want to embed the presentation that Sebastien delivered at AfricaCom below:



    I like the term 'smart feature phone' to distinguish between the smartphones and old dumb feature phones.

    Finally, it should be mentioned that some phone manufacturers are using older version of Android to create a feature phone. One such phone is "Reinvent iMi" that is being billed as 'Slimmest Smart 3G Feature Phone' in India. It uses Android 4.1. See details here. Would love to find out more about its battery life in practice.

    My only small concern is about security of old Android OS. As Android is extensively used, new vulnerabilities keep getting discovered all the time. Google patches them in newer versions of the software or sometimes releases a separate patch. All updates to the Android OS stops after 3 years. This means that older versions of Android can be hacked quite easily. See here for example.

    Anyway, feature phones or 'smart feature phones' are here to stay. Better on 4G than on 2G.