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LTE-A Pro for Public Safety Services – Part 2 – Advantages over PMR in 2G

25 Jan

LTE for Public Safety Services, also referred to as Private Mobile Radio (PMR) is making progress in the standards and in the first part of this series I’ve taken a first general look. Since then I thought a bit about which advantages a PMR implementation might offer over current 2G Tetra and GSM PMR implementations and came up with the following list:

Voice and Data On The Same Network: A major feature 2G PMR networks are missing today is broadband data transfer capabilities. LTE can fix this issue easily as even bandwidth intensive applications safety organizations have today can be served. Video backhauling is perhaps the most demanding broadband feature but there are countless other applications for PMR users that will benefit from having an IP based data channel such as for example number plate checking and identity validation of persons, access to police databases, maps, confidential building layouts, etc. etc.

Clear Split into Network and Services: To a certain extent, PMR functionality is independent of the underlying infrastructure. E.g. the group call and push to talk (PTT) functionality is handled by the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) that is mostly independent from the radio and core transport network.

Separation of Services for Commercial Customers and PMR Users: On option to deply a public safety network is to share resources with an already existing commercial LTE network and upgrade the software in the access and core network for public safety use. More about those upgrades in a future post. The specific point I want to make here is that the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) infrastructure for commercial customers and their VoLTE voice service can be completely independent from the IMS infrastructure used for the Public Safety Services. This way, the two parts can evolve independently from each other which is important as Public Safety networks typically evolve much slower or and in fewer steps compared to commercial services as there is no competitive pressure to evolve things quickly.

Apps vs. Deep Integration on Mobile Devices: On mobile devices, PMR functionality could be delivered as apps rather than built into the operating system of the devices. This allows to update the operating system and apps independently and even to use the PMR apps on new devices.

Separation of Mobile Hardware and Software Manufacturers: By having over-the-top PMR apps it’s possible to separate the hardware manufacturer from the provider of the PMR functionality except for a few interfaces which are required such as setting up QoS for a bearer (already used for VoLTE today, so that’s already taken care of) or the use of eMBMS for a group call multicast downlink data flow. In contrast, current 2G group call implementations for GSM-R require deep integration into the radio chipset as pressing the talk button required DTAP messages to be exchanged between the mobile device and the Mobile Switching Center (MSC) which are sent in a control channel for which certain timeslots in the up- and downlink of a speech channel were reserved. Requesting the uplink in LTE PMR requires interaction with the PMR Application Server but this would be over an IP channel which is completely independent from the radio stack, it’s just a message contained in an IP packet.

Device to Device Communication Standardized: The LTE-A Pro specification contains mechanisms to extend the network beyond the existing infrastructure for direct D2D communication, even in groups. This was lacking in the 2G GSM-R PMR specification. There were attempts by at least one company to add such a “direct” mode to the GSM-R specifications at the time but there were too many hurdles to overcome at time time, including questions around which spectrum to use for such a direct mode. As a consequence these attempts were not leading to commercial products in the end.

PMR not left behind in 5G: LTE as we know it today is not likely to be replaced anytime soon by a new technology. This is a big difference to PMR in 2G (GSM-R) which was built on a technology that was already set to be superseded by UMTS. Due to the long timeframes involved, nobody seriously considered upgrading UMTS with the functionalities required for PMR as by the time UMTS was up and running, GSM-R was still struggling to be accepted by its users. Even though 5G is discussed today, it seems clear that LTE will remain a cornerstone for 5G as well in a cellular context.

PMR On The IP Layer and Not Part of The Radio Stack (for the most part): PMR services are based on the IP protocol with a few interfaces to the network for multicast and quality of services. While LTE might gradually be exchanged for something faster or new radio transmission technologies might be put alongside it in 5G that are also interesting for PMR, the PMR application layer can remain the same. This is again unlike in 2G (GSM-R) where the network and the applications such as group calls were a monolithic block and thus no evolution was possible as the air interface and even the core network did not evolve but were replaced by something entirely new.

Only Limited Radio Knowledge Required By Software Developers: No deep and specific radio layer knowledge is required anymore to implement PMR services such as group calling and push to talk on mobile devices. This allows software development to be done outside the realm of classic device manufacturer companies and the select few software developers that know how things work in the radio protocol stack.

Upgradeable Devices In The Field: Software upgrades of devices has become a lot easier. 2G GSM-R devices and perhaps also Tetra devices can’t be upgraded over the air which makes it very difficult to add new functionality or to fix security issues in these devices. Current devices which would be the basis for LTE-A Pro PMR devices can be easily upgraded over the air as they are much more powerful and because there is a broadband network that can be used for pushing the software updates.

Distribution of Encryption Keys for Group Calls: This could be done over an encrypted channel to the Group Call Server. I haven’t dug into the specification details yet to find out if or how this is done but it is certainly possible without too much additional work. That was not possible in GSM-R, group calls were (and still are) unencrypted. Sure, keys could be distributed over GPRS to individual participants but the service for such a distribution was never specified.

Network Coverage In Remote Places: PMR users might want to have LTE in places that are not normally covered by network operators because it is not economical. If they pay for the extra coverage and in case the network is shared this could have a positive effect when sharing a network for both consumer and PMR services. However, there are quite a number of problems with network sharing one has to be careful when proposing this. Another option, which has also been specified, is to extend network coverage by using relays, e.g. installed in cars.

I was quite amazed how long this list of pros has become. Unfortunately my list of issues existing in 2G PMR implementations today that a 4G PMR system still won’t be able to fix is equally long. More about this in part 3 of this series.

Source: https://blog.wirelessmoves.com/2016/01/lte-a-pro-for-public-safety-services-part-2-advantages-over-pmr-in-2g.html

4G LTE Global Market Development Gains Momentum

19 Jun
Global 4G LTE subscribers are projected to grow 35 percent compounded annually over the next five years, from 516 million to 2.3 billion, according to the latest market study by TeleGeography. LTE market penetration has been the greatest in South Korea, where the 4G technology accounted for 63 percent of wireless subscribers in 2014.

Close behind South Korea is the United States market, where LTE overtook 3G as the leading mobile communications technology last year — to account for just over half of wireless subscribers, and Japan, where LTE had a subscriber market share of 41 percent in 2014.

While 4G LTE will continue to grow in each of these leading nations over the next five years to account for between 80 and 90 percent of their respective mobile subscribers, mobile networks in the rest of the world will now begin to catch up.

The country to watch is China, where a boom in TD-LTE network deployment and soaring use of mobile internet access and data service usage are occurring. That said, just 8 percent of Chinese wireless subscribers were on LTE at the end of 2014. However, it’s forecast to grow to 39 percent by 2019 — at which point China will account for nearly one-third of all global LTE subscribers.

Despite the ongoing rise of LTE and slowing 2G and 3G growth rates, these now legacy wireless communication standards aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact, 2G remains the dominant mobile platform today, accounting for 61 percent of all global mobile service subscribers.

One of several reasons for this is that 90 percent of India’s 950 million subscribers are still connected to 2G networks. Until recently, challenges allocating spectrum resources and high 3G tariffs hampered the country’s mobile infrastructure advancement.

The situation is in India is improving, following reductions in 3G tariffs and increased adoption of smartphones. Moreover, India’s 3G subscribers are forecast to quadruple over the next five years, but they will still account for only one-third of its mobile subscriber base.

Global 3G subscribers are expected to surpass 2G subscribers in 2019, but each of these technologies will continue to account for a larger share of subscribers than LTE. According to the TeleGeography assessment, LTE is growing at a faster rate than 3G ever did.

However, while 3G subscribers are declining in the U.S. and Europe markets, more new subscribers are being added in all other regions — most notably within Africa, where they are expected to increase 19 percent compounded annually over the next five years. Therefore, despite its rapid growth, 4G LTE may not surpass 3G on a global basis until the next decade.

Source: http://blog.geoactivegroup.com/

Telenor Norway closing down 3G network in 2020; 2G switch-off to happen five years later

19 Jun

Telenor Norway plans to completely close down its 3G network in 2020, some five years before shutting down its 2G infrastructure in 2025, the operator’s chief technical officer Magnus Zetterberg has revealed, according to Mobile World Live. Speaking at the company’s analyst and investor day, the executive was cited as saying that Telenor Norway would look to ‘dismantle legacy networks and eventually phase out 3G in 2020, before closing out 2G by 2025 and completing the data transition’. With regards to the reasoning behind the switch-off of 3G first, Zetterberg added: ‘It’s better to retain 2G than 3G because all the devices today are still embedded with 2G, so you will lose out without the network … 2G is still important for the [machine-to-machine] M2M market.’

With regards to Telenor Norway’s 4G system meanwhile, by the end of 2016, the company aims to have 99% of the population within its network footprint. Further technology enhancements are also planned, with Zetterberg confirming that full rollouts of both voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) and ‘4G+’ are expected to take place by the end of next year.

Source: TeleGeography. and http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/newslog/Telenor+Norway+Closing+Down+3G+Network+In+2020+2G+Switchoff+To+Happen+Five+Years+Later.aspx

 

4G LTE in 2014: Four Fearless Predictions

6 Feb

4G LTE in 2014: Four Fearless Predictions

When the history of 4G LTE is written, 2013 will go down as the year when service provider and vendor efforts to advance the wireless communications standard paid off in the form of significant LTE subscriber growth. GSMA Intelligence, in its study, “Global LTE network forecasts and assumptions 2013-2017,” estimated that the past year concluded with 176 million global LTE connections – up more than six-fold over an 18-month period. GSMA further reports that LTE networks already cover more than 90% of the US population and 47% in Europe.

There remains a sizable, untapped market of consumers and enterprises that do not yet have access to LTE networks and LTE-enabled devices. While GSA, the Global mobile Suppliers Association, recently confirmed that 251 LTE networks are now launched, GSMA points out that Asia, with 10% LTE market coverage today, is expected to account for 47% of all LTE connections by 2017, and that the number of 4G-LTE connections across the world will eclipse one billion by that time as well – half the world’s population.

With LTE connections in the hundreds of millions, 2014 represents a pivotal year when mobile operators and others within the LTE ecosystem will need to ask themselves, “Ok, now that we have LTE subscribers, how can we deliver services, capabilities and a user experience compelling enough to not only attract new subscribers, but retain existing ones?”

Further advancing LTE in 2014 requires that mobile operators anticipate opportunities and challenges, and respond in rapid and nimble fashion. This article focuses on four LTE trends and predictions we expect to play out in 2014.

Fragmentation may precede cooperation

The ramp-up to 2G-enabled mobile device ubiquity was not without its fits and starts. Some threw their weight behind the Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) standard, while others opted for Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) – each able to passionately point out the benefits of their approach and the drawbacks of the alternative. The same process played itself out with 3G/3.5G, as operators evaluated the merits of Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) relative to High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA).

As 2014 kicks off, there are tailwinds behind both TD-LTE (also referred to as LTE TDD) and FD-LTE (LTE FDD) in terms of which is best suited for delivering mobile data and other advanced communications services. China Mobile recently announced a decision to go with LTE TDD at a significant scale, requiring handset manufacturers and others interested in serving the massive China market to take notice. China Mobile planned to build approximately 200,000 TD-LTE base stations by the end of 2013.

Time-Division LTE is less mature than Frequency-Division LTE – which is used by major mobile operators such as EE in the United Kingdom – but it is clear that both standards need to be accounted for. The fact is that with 4G LTE standards, much like their predecessors, fragmentation may precede cooperation. Expect to see fragmentation fade. Already, device manufacturers recognize the need for dual-mode devices and/or seamless transitioning between the two networks.

Samsung recently stated publicly that: “While the majority of the global LTE market is based on FDD-LTE technology, TDD-LTE, the alternative LTE technology, is expected to see increased adoption in the US, China, Australia, Middle East, Northern and Eastern Europe, and Southwest Asia, and to gain a more pronounced position in the global LTE market. Seamless handover between FDD-LTE and TDD-LTE networks is a critical feature for end-user customers and mobile operators, especially in markets where the both technologies are deployed.”

Samsung also announced earlier this year that it would be developing dual-mode 4G TDD/FDD LTE phones for China, so that phones can operate on both FDD and TDD LTE networks. Beyond handset manufacturers, we expect to also see enabling technology for delivering unified communications across 4G LTE devices to similarly ensure these capabilities can be experienced across both standards.

LTE use cases will expand

The conversation around 4G LTE today focuses in broad terms around the needs of the enterprise end-user, the consumer, and in many cases the ‘prosumer’ who straddles both user profiles. In 2014, the diversity of LTE use cases will expand in a major way.

Already, we are seeing activity around LTE-Broadcast. In October of last year, Telstraannounced it was the first mobile carrier in the world to trial LTE-Broadcast live on a commercial network, opening new possibilities for how mobile broadcast video is delivered to end-users.  In-vehicle LTE is also gaining speed, as it unlocks infotainment options that enhance the driver and passenger experience immeasurably in the same way that LTE-Broadcast changes how we access live broadcasts from any location. Car companies are already realizing the selling power of in-car technology, as numerous television commercials devote as much airtime to the technology bells & whistles of a connected car as they do to the car’s performance itself.

Non-traditional LTE applications are not restricted to the consumer market. Verizon has experienced success launching and enhancing vertical applications with 4G LTE-enabled devices. Verizon’s Field Force Manager and Fleet Control solutions enable companies to achieve greater returns when managing mobile workforces and fleets, and allows organizations with mobile fleets or field operations to address their unique challenges through LTE-enabled location management, cloud services and tablet based solutions.

Millennials will fuel shift to mobile UC, dual persona

By the year 2020, Millennials are expected to comprise approximately 45% of the entire U.S. workforce.  This always-on, always-connected generation will bring its dynamic and diverse communications expectations to the office – which means that enterprises will need to plan for and manage the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) workforce.

With end-users demanding mobile unified communications to enable them to work efficiently, from anywhere, enterprises will be turning to mobile operators and even fixed line service providers to deliver mobile access to voice, video, instant message and presence, as well as conferencing and collaboration capabilities. Due to growing demand for mobile unified communications, coinciding with the build out of LTE networks, analyst firm Gartner predicts that by 2016, 75 percent of mobile UC solutions will be integrated into the enterprise telephony infrastructure.

Service providers are fully aware that LTE is a critical conduit for mobile UC delivery, and will increasingly architect mobility into UC solutions in order to monetize their LTE network investments. The wider global availability of LTE service in the near future will improve the value proposition for UC, but mobile operators need to stake their claim today by offering these services to the New Mobile Enterprise. At the same time, enterprises will increasingly view LTE-enabled mobile unified communications as the most effective way to support its BYOD workforce requirements.

As BYOD adoption continues to permeate the workforce, it will require “dual persona” support for advanced communications services on personal or enterprise-provided devices. Through dual persona, employers will be able to separate business and personal voice and UC services (including business and personal contacts, call logs and chat sessions), while maintaining a secure environment on the device for business applications with data that is fully controllable by the enterprise. At the same time, dual persona enables enterprises to meet user demands for a single device for all communication services, as employees will have more freedom to access their services from the device of their choice.

Enabling Migration From 2G/3G Networks Will Be Key

The GSMA study previously referenced forecasts that LTE networks will be available to half of the world’s population by 2017. However, mobile operators will still be looking for ways to deliver advanced and mobile communications services on 2G/3G networks, and as they migrate to 4G LTE.

As a result, we expect to see demand increase among mobile operators for unified communications services that are architected to be easily compatible with 2G, 3G or 4G/LTE networks – and any mobile device on these networks. Technology providers that, for example, can also transcode communications services and allow seamless movement between broadband network types, as well as between mobile devices and fixed-desk phones, will be best positioned to serve mobile operators in 2014.

Mobile operators able to access mobile UC services that are “future-proof” to work with their existing 2G/3G networks today, while enabling seamless migration to LTE networks going forward, can accelerate the monetization of their LTE investments in 2014 by delivering advanced applications and services only possible through LTE – including Voice over LTE (VoLTE), mobile video calling and conferencing, instant messaging and presence and web collaboration.

 Source: http://monetizelte.com/4g-lte-in-2014-four-fearless-predictions/

The evolution of the G

2 Sep

Wireless Technology Evolution

KPN vernieuwt alle antennes in 2g- en 3g-netwerk

2 Sep

KIVI Kring Den Haag

In een poging om de kwaliteit te verbeteren, vernieuwing door te kunnen voeren en de verdeling van de masten in het land te kunnen optimaliseren gaat KPN alle 2G en 3G antennes vervangen. Hier komt bij dat de frequentie veiling voor 4G ook nieuwe mogelijkheden heeft geschapen, waardoor de ogenschijnlijk grote investeringen ineens in een heel ander licht komen te staan.

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T-Mobile cajoling 2G users off 1900 MHz

14 Aug

T-Mobile USA will increase its capital expenditures through the rest of the year as it goes all in on its network modernization project while simultaneously dabbling in one-off incentives to get users to dump their 2G devices.

The operator, which lost a net 205,000 subscribers during 2012’s second quarter, said its capex will increase during the second half of 2012 as it upgrades its network, a move that should help the company become more competitive with other operators next year as it delivers improved network speeds and possibly popular devices such as the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.

According to Telecom Lead, T-Mobile reported its cash capex was $539 million during the second quarter, a decrease of 27.8 percent from the first quarter, and a decrease of 21.7 percent from the year-ago quarter. It credited payment timing as a contributing factor to the lower cash capex, which will soon begin to ramp up.

T-Mobile has pledged to spend around $4 billion to roll out LTE over its 1700/2100 MHz AWS spectrum and shift HSPA+ services from the AWS frequencies to its 1900 MHz spectrum, which is currently used for 2G GSM service. It has selected Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC) and Nokia Siemens Networks as vendors for the modernization project.

The operator faces a tricky mission in its effort to refarm 1900 MHz spectrum, which still serves domestic GSM customers, M2M users as well as international GSM roamers. Last month, TmoNews reported the operator had initiated a “3G Device Upgrade Pilot” in five cities: Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Washington, D.C. and Miami.

The three-week-long marketing pilot, which reportedly ended July 30, offered a host of different incentives to encourage customers to give up their GSM 1900 MHz devices and upgrade to 3G or 4G devices. Only 5,000 customers in each market were sent a mailer notifying them of the incentives. Qualifying customers were on Classic or Legacy rate plans and used 1,000 or more minutes per month on a 2G-only device.

The pilot test was likely being used as a precursor to larger regional incentive offers as T-Mobile works to shift GSM users away from its 1900 MHz spectrum in order to make room for HSPA+ service.

One major benefit of bringing HSPA+ to 1900 MHz is that legacy iPhones on T-Mobile’s networks will be able to receive high-speed data services. It has been estimated that close to 1 million unlocked iPhones are operating on T-Mobile’s 1900 MHz network, even though the operator does not sell them and the devices are currently only able to receive 2G service from T-Mobile in that spectrum.

T-Mobile will be skipped over by the impending release of the iPhone 5, predicts. Eric Costa, a research analyst in Technology Business Research’s Networking and Mobility Practice. But at least the refarming effort will position T-Mobile for future iPhone sales.

“The 1900 MHz refarm will allow for future iPhone access should a deal be signed. This would boost data consumption as iPhone users consume the highest amount of data on average. Unlike the other Tier 1 operators, T-Mobile will use the iPhone as a defensive strategy to help retain subscribers already on its network, as other subscribers on other networks already have access to the iPhone without needing to switch carriers,” said Costa.

Rival operator AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is also busily refarming its 2G spectrum and has already announced the planned shuttering of its GSM service by early 2017 as it refarms its 850 MHz and 1900 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile has maintained that it will continue to offer 2G services to existing customers, many of which are M2M users.

Regarding AT&T’s plans, Stefan Zehle of Coleago Consulting wrote in a recent Telecom Asia column that legacy customers are an issue for operators engaged in refarming as “customers who make the least usage and have the lowest bills hang on to their old phones the longest.”

Zehle noted that in AT&T’s case, it might seem sensible to leave a few slivers of spectrum available for GSM use since any spectrum that is less than 5-MHz wide cannot be refarmed for HSPA and LTE. However, he said such thinking is a misconception because “operating the legacy 2G network outweighs the revenue made from these customers.”

Source: http://www.fiercebroadbandwireless.com/story/t-mobile-cajoling-2g-users-1900-mhz/2012-08-12 August 12, 2012 | By Tammy Parker

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