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KPN Fears 5G Freeze-Out

17 Mar
  • KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN) is less than happy with the Dutch government’s policy on spectrum, and says that the rollout of 5G in the Netherlands and the country’s position at the forefront of the move to a digital economy is under threat if the government doesn’t change tack. The operator is specifically frustrated by the uncertainty surrounding the availability of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which has been earmarked by the EU for the launch of 5G. KPN claims that the existence of a satellite station at Burum has severely restricted the use of this band. It also objects to the proposed withdrawal of 2 x 10MHz of spectrum that is currently available for mobile communications. In a statement, the operator concludes: “KPN believes that Dutch spectrum policy will only be successful if it is in line with international spectrum harmonization agreements and consistent with European Union spectrum policy.”
  • Russian operator MegaFon is trumpeting a new set of “smart home” products, which it has collectively dubbed Life Control. The system, says MegaFon, uses a range of sensors to handle tasks related to the remote control of the home, and also encompasses GPS trackers and fitness bracelets. Before any of the Life Control products will work, however, potential customers need to invest in MegaFon’s Smart Home Center, which retails for 8,900 rubles ($150).
  • German digital service provider Exaring has turned to ADVA Optical Networking (Frankfurt: ADV) ‘s FSP 3000 platform to power what Exaring calls Germany’s “first fully integrated platform for IP entertainment services.” Exaring’s new national backbone network will transmit on-demand TV and gaming services to around 23 million households.
  • British broadcaster UKTV, purveyor of ancient comedy shows on the Dave channel and more, has unveiled a new player on the YouView platform for its on-demand service. It’s the usual rejig: new home screen, “tailored” program recommendations and so on. The update follows YouView’s re-engineering of its platform, known as Next Generation YouView.

Source: http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/spectrum/eurobites-kpn-fears-5g-freeze-out/d/d-id/731160?

 

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What is mm wave and how does it fit into 5G?

16 Aug

Extremely high frequency’ means extremely fast 5G speeds

Millimeter wave, also known as extremely high frequency, is the band of spectrum between 30 gigahertzand 300 GHz. Wedged between microwave and infrared waves, this spectrum can be used for high-speed wireless communications as seen with the latest 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard (operating at 60 GHz). It is being considered by standards organization, the Federal Communications Commission and researchers as the way to bring “5G” into the future by allocating more bandwidth to deliver faster, higher-quality video, and multimedia content and services.

source: NI

Source: National Instruments

Earlier this year, Ted Rappaport, founding director of NYU Wireless, said mobile data traffic is projected to rise 53% each year into the “foreseeable future,” and over the last 40 years, computer clock speeds and memory sizes rose by as much as six orders of magnitude. We need higher frequency spectrum to accommodate the increases in data usage, and one of the greatest and most important uses of millimeter waves is in transmitting large amounts of data.

source: NI

Source: National Instruments

Today, mmWave frequencies are being utilized for applications such as streaming high-resolution video indoors. Traditionally however, these higher frequencies were not strong enough for indoor broadband applications due to high propagation loss and susceptibility to blockage from buildings as well asabsorption from rain drops. These problems made mmWave impossible for mobile broadband.

Too good to be true?

High frequency means narrow wavelengths, and for mmWaves that sits in the range of 10 millimeters to 1 millimeter. It’s strength can be reduced due to its vulnerabilities against gases, rain and humidity absorption. And to make things even less appealing, due to those factors, millimeter wavelengths only reach out to a few kilometers.

source: Microsoft

Source: Microsoft

Just a few years ago mmWave was not being put to use because few electronic components could receive millimeter waves. Now, thanks to new technologies, it is on the brink of being an integral part of the next-generation network.

The solutions

Thankfully, the same characteristics that make mmWave so difficult to implement can be used to combat its shortcomings.

Short transmission paths and high propagation losses allows for spectrum reuse by limiting the amount of interference between adjacent cells, according to Robert W. Heath, professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. In addition, where longer paths are desired, the extremely short wavelengths of mmWave signals make it feasible for very small antennas to concentrate signals into highly focused beams with enough gain to overcome propagation losses. The short wavelengths of mmWave signals also make it possible to build multielement, dynamic beamforming antennas that will be small enough to fit into handsets.

source: UT Austin

Source: UT Austin

How mmWave spectrum is being handled

Last October the FCC proposed new rules for wireless broadband in wireless frequencies above 24 gigahertz. According to the government organization, these proposed rules “are an opportunity to move forward on creating a regulatory environment in which these emerging next-generation mobile technologies – such as so-called 5G mobile service – can potentially take hold and deliver benefits to consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy.”

According to the FCC, the organization is “taking steps to unlock the mobile broadband and unlicensed potential of spectrum at the frontier above 24 GHz.”

Service operators have begun investigating mmWave technology to evaluate the best candidate frequencies for use in mobile applications. The International Telecommunication Union and 3GPP have aligned on a plan for two phases of research for 5G standards. The first phase, completing September 2018, defines a period of research for frequencies less than 40 GHz to address the more urgent subset of the commercial needs. The second phase is slated to begin in 2018 and complete in December 2019 to address the KPIs outlined by IMT 2020. This second phase focuses on frequencies up to 100 GHz, according to National Instruments.

In an report titled Millimeter-wave for 5G: Unifying Communication and Sensing, Xinyu Zhang, assistant professor of the electrical and computer engineering at the University of Wisconsin, detailed the mmWave bands being considered:

  • 57 GHz to 64 GHz unlicensed;
  • 7 GHz in total 28 GHz/38 GHz licensed but underutilized; and
  • 3.4 GHz in total 71 GHz/81 GHz/92GHz Light-licensed band: 12.9 GHz in total
source: National Instruments

Source: National Instruments

The ITU released a list of proposed globally viable frequencies between 24 GHz and 86 GHz after the most recent World Radiocommunications Conference:

24.25–27.5GHz                                        31.8–33.4GHz

37–40.5GHz                                             40.5–42.5GHz

45.5–50.2GHz                                           50.4–52.6GHz

66–76GHz                                                      81–86GHz

Source: http://www.rcrwireless.com/20160815/fundamentals/mmwave-5g-tag31-tag99

IOT and 5G Likely to be Held Back by the RF Spectrum Crunch

14 Mar

pureLifi

pureLiFi, the light communications technology company that leads the market in research and commercialisation of LiFi, has warned that advances in the Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G are likely to be held back by the looming radio frequency (RF) spectrum ‘crunch’. LiFi benefits from a source that is 1000 times larger than the entire 300 GHz of RF spectrum and 600,000 larger than a 60 GHz WiFi/WiGig channel that, in turn, enables a huge exponential growth in future data rates and the advancement of IoT, Industry 4.0 and 5G.

While WiGig delivers 7 Gbps, industry research predicts we will need access points that can deliver 53 Gbps by 2020 and over 800 Gbps by 2025 (this would require at least 1/5 of the entire 300 GHz radio spectrum which already is mostly occupied by commercial and defence applications). Moreover, LiFi allows significantly more access points than RF and WiGig, achieving the higher data rates necessary for the entire IoT in large part due to an ability to produce small cells necessary for faster data rates – as opposed to RF where interference is a major problem when it comes to 5G and the 5 metre cell radius required.

The high performance LiFi optical attocell network being developed by pureLiFi can achieve significantly higher data rates in dense environments compared to multicellular RF networks and incorporates inherent data security characteristics. The company’s latest LiFi dongle and LiFi access point (LiFi-X) were recently demonstrated atMobile World Congress and mobile integration remains the primary focus on the product roadmap in 2016.

Professor Harald Haas, co-founder of pureLiFi, said: “If you look at the Internet of Things, traditional WiFi will be massively inefficient when there are so many devices interacting in one area. The networking ability to integrate with mobile is a groundbreaking development in LiFi, one that is characterised by the speed of data transfer and the continuing miniaturisation process.”

pureLiFi invented, developed and commercialised the world’s first full wireless LiFi networking system and has since developed a stream of next generation products. LiFi is a technology invented by Professor Haas based on visible light communication (VLC) that provides full networking capabilities similar to WiFi but with significantly greater spatial reuse of bandwidth.

 Source: http://www.everythingrf.com/News/details/2310-iot-and-5g-likely-to-be-held-back-by-the-rf-spectrum-crunch

 

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5 Years to 5G: Enabling Rapid 5G System Development

13 Feb

As we look to 2020 for widespread 5G deployment, it is likely that most OEMs will sell production equipment based on FPGAs.

5G round-up: Everything you need to know

30 Jan

Universities, governments and telecoms companies are investing stupendous amounts of time and money into the development of 5G, but what is it and how will it benefit us over and above what both 3G and 4G networks are currently able to deliver? How will it change the mobile industry and when can we expect to start using it?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

5G is purported to deliver data speeds that are literally thousands of times faster than 4G

What is 5G?

Unsurprisingly, it’s the next generation after 4G

5G is the next generation of mobile technology. A new generation of mobile standards has appeared roughly every 10 years since analogue systems – which later became known as 1G – were introduced in 1981.

2G was the first to use digital radio signals and introduced data services, including SMS text messages; 3G brought us mobile internet access and video calls; 4G, which has been rolled out in the UK since 2012, provides faster and more reliable mobile broadband internet access.

It will use higher frequency spectrum than current networks

5G, like its predecessors, is a wireless technology that will use specific radio wavelengths, or spectrum. Ofcom, the UK telecoms regulator, has become involved early in its development and has asked mobile operators to help lay the foundations for the technology. That’s because in order to achieve the best possible speeds, it will need large swathes of this high-frequency spectrum, some of which is already being used by other applications, including the military.

The frequencies in question are above 6GHz – currently used for satellite broadcasting, weather monitoring and scientific research.

What will I be able to do on 5G?

Download a film in under a minute

Fifth generation networks will feature improved web browsing speeds as well as faster download and upload speeds. O2 told Cable.co.uk that 5G will offer “higher speed data communication” than 4G, allowing users to “download a film in under a minute, add lower latency (the time lag between an action and a response) and reduce buffering and add more capacity”.

According to Ericsson, 5G will help to create more reliable and simpler networks that will open up a world of practical uses such as the remote control of excavating equipment or even remote surgery using a robot.

Vice president Magnus Furustam, head of product area cloud systems, speaking to Cable.co.uk at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, said: “What 5G will bring is even more reliable networks, better latency, you will see networks penetrating into areas they previously haven’t.

“You will see smaller cells [network transmitters or masts], you will see higher bandwidth, you will see more frequencies being used, you will basically see mobile broadband networks reaching further out, both from a coverage perspective as well as from a device perspective.”

5G will give the impression of infinite capacity

Speaking to Cable.co.uk at the International Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month, Ramneek Bali, a technical solutions manager for Ericsson, said 5G “is going to enable the networked society.

“When we say networked society, basically you’ve heard of the internet of things, connected devices, connected cars, even high throughput – 5G is going to enable all that.”

The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC), meanwhile, which is working alongside companies including Huawei, Vodafone and Fujitsu, has set the 5G network a target of ‘always having sufficient rate to give the user the impression of infinite capacity’ by understanding the demands of the user and allocating resources where they are needed.

The past: the birth of mobile internet

5G will deliver the low latency and reliability needed for operations to be carried out remotely using robotic arms

How fast will 5G be?

5G will be 3,333 times faster than 4G

5G is expected to deliver data speeds of between 10 and 50Gbps, compared to the average 4G download speed which is currently 15Mbps.

Huawei’s report ‘5G: A Technology Vision’ says a 5G network will be required to deliver data rates of at least 1Gbps to support ultra HD video and virtual reality applications, and 10Gbps data rates for mobile cloud services.

5G will have ‘near-zero’ latency

Latency will be so low – less than one millisecond – that it will be imperceptible to humans and the switching time between different radio access technologies (cellular networks, wi-fi and so on) will take a maximum of 10 milliseconds.

Ericsson has trialled 5G technology with Japanese carrier NTT Docomo, announcing that its “pre-standard” technology had already achieved speeds of 5Gbps. Samsung announced in October 2014 it had achieved speeds of 7.5Gbps, the fastest-ever 5G data transmission rate in a stationary environment. It also achieved a stable connection at 1.2Gbps in a vehicle travelling at over 100km/h.

When will I be able to get 5G?

The first 5G handsets could arrive as early as 2017

Speaking exclusively to Cable.co.uk, Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, said that the first 5G smartphones are set to appear in 2017.

The Chinese telecoms giant said the focus for mobile companies would shift away from 4G over the next two years.

“4G LTE is definitely a big thing for us and we’re working with some of the big adopters for 5G as well,” said Huawei Device USA’s training manager Jack Borg, talking to Cable.co.uk at International CES.

5G on the horizon

“Carriers are taking the current 4G we have and they’re giving it some boost and they’re adding to it and changing it. Liberty Global, Verizon and AT&T have all done that recently in different markets in the US.

“So I think we’re going to see that and ride that for a while but then 5G will definitely be on the horizon. I would say probably in the next year-and-a-half to two years.”

Huawei plans to build a 5G mobile network for the FIFA World Cup in 2018 alongside Russian mobile operator Megafon. The trials will run across the 11 cities that will be hosting matches and will serve fans as well as providing a platform for devices to connect to each other.

SK Telecom has teamed up with Nokia to build a 5G test bed at its R&D centre in Bundang, South Korea. They hope to launch a 5G network in 2018 and commercialise it by 2020.

The past: the birth of mobile internet

The first 5G smartphones could arrive as early as 2017

50 billion devices connected to 5G by 2020

Speaking to Cable.co.uk, Ericsson has said that by 2020, 5G networks are going to be serving 50 billion connected devices around the world.

“The technology has to handle a thousand times more volume than what we have today,” Ramneek Bali said.

“We are looking at handling more capacity in 5G because we’re seeing more and more devices will be connected.

“It’s exciting, it’s a platform we are going to provide to everyone to basically connect everything, anywhere. That’s the vision we have for 5G.”

Will 5G come to the UK before other countries?

The general consensus seems to be that the UK is still a few years away from introducing 5G networks to any greater extent than an initially testing/prototypical one.

O2 told Cable.co.uk that “some countries have earlier demands and industrial policies that may lead to earlier adoption of 5G”, even though the UK is playing a leading role in the development of the technology, including at the University of Surrey’s 5GIC.

5G test network

The innovation centre is expected to provide a 5G test network to the university campus by the beginning of 2018, and London mayor Boris Johnson has promised to bring 5G connectivity to the capital by 2020.

Will 5G replace 3G and 4G?

5G promises a seamless network experience undeliverable by current tech

It has taken a number of years for 3G networks to get anywhere near to 100% coverage and the UK’s 4G coverage varies considerably depending on the operator, but is generally limited to the big cities.

Bruce Girdlestone, senior businesses development manager at Virgin Media Business, told Cable.co.uk that 5G is one of a number of technologies that together should be able to provide a “seamless” experience to consumers.

“I think what will happen is small cells, 4G and 5G, and wi-fi will improve and it will become much more seamless to the end user.

The past: the birth of mobile internet

Mobile phones will roam seamlessly between wi-fi and cellular services

Customers won’t know what service they are using

“So they will just consume data over the spectrum and they won’t even know whether it’s over wi-fi or cellular services.

“With that and with 4G and then ultimately 5G from like 2020 going forwards you’ll start to see much more seamless service and much more data being consumed which will then need to be ported on our fibre network.

“It’s going to be a very interesting three or four years as we see how these different technologies develop and overlap with each other as people start to roll these networks out.”

Conclusion

The development of 5G is at such an early stage that the standards by which it is measured are yet to be agreed. What we do know is that it will be fast. Very fast. So fast that many will ask why you would ever need such a fast data speed on a mobile network. They could be missing the point slightly.

The continued rollout of 4G should cater for most of our current mobile broadband needs. But as we’ve seen with other advances in technology, having the ability to do more increases our expectations and before we know it, things that once seemed like science fiction become ‘the norm’. As our expectations increase we put more strain on the networks underpinning this technology.

We can’t predict what demands we will be placing on mobile networks in 10 or 20 years’ time but the idea behind 5G is that it will be fast enough and reliable enough to cope with whatever we can throw at it, that it will feel like a network with infinite capacity – that is why the 5GIC has been given millions of pounds of public money to research it and why companies like Ericsson and Huawei are investing huge sums in the technology.

The first 5G networks should start appearing over the next few years and if they really do deliver a user experience that is effectively limitless, we may find ourselves asking if there will be a need for 6G.

Source: https://www.cable.co.uk/features/news-5g-round-up-everything-you-need-to-know

Laying the foundations for 5G mobile

23 Jan

5g mobile hologram

So-called ‘5G’ mobile communications will use a very high frequency part of the spectrum above 6 GHz. This could support a variety of new uses including holographic projections and 3D medical imaging, with the potential to support very high demand users in busy areas, such as city centres. 5G mobile is expected to deliver extremely fast data speeds – perhaps 10 to 50 Gbit/s – compared with today’s average 4G download speed of 15 Mbit/s. 5G services are likely to use large blocks of spectrum to achieve these speeds, which are difficult to find at lower frequencies.

The timeframe for the launch of 5G services is uncertain, although commercial applications could emerge by 2020, subject to research and development and international agreements for aligning frequency bands. Ofcom says it is important to do the groundwork now, to understand how these frequencies might be used to serve citizens and consumers in the future. The regulator is therefore asking industry to help plan for the spectrum and bandwidth requirements of 5G.

The spectrum above 6 GHz currently supports various uses – from scientific research, to satellite broadcasting and weather monitoring. One of Ofcom’s core roles is to manage the limited supply of spectrum, taking into account the current and future demands to allow these different services to exist alongside each other.

 

1g 2g 3g 4g 5g mobile technology timeline

 

Steve Unger, Ofcom’s Acting Chief Executive: “We want the UK to be a leader in the next generation of wireless communications. Working with industry, we want to lay the foundations for the UK’s next generation of wireless communications.

“5G must deliver a further step change in the capacity of wireless networks – over and above that currently being delivered by 4G. No network has infinite capacity, but we need to move closer to the ideal of there always being sufficient capacity to meet consumers’ needs.”

Philip Marnick, Ofcom Spectrum Group Director, comments: “We want to explore how high frequency spectrum could potentially offer significant capacity for extremely fast 5G mobile data. This could pave the way for innovative new mobile services for UK consumers and businesses.”

These innovations, according to Ofcom, might include real-time holographic technologies, allowing relatives to virtually attend family gatherings. Or they could enable specialist surgeons to oversee hospital operations while located on the other side of the world, using 3D medical imaging.

Ofcom is seeking views on the use of spectrum above 6 GHz that might be suitable for future mobile communication services. The closing date for responses is 27th February 2015.

Source: http://www.futuretimeline.net/blog/computers-internet-blog.htm#.VMJtOv5wtcQ

 

LTE Direct Gets Real

1 Oct

LTE Direct, a new feature being added to the LTE protocol, will make it possible to bypass cell towers, notes Technology Review. Phones using LTE Direct (Qualcomm whitepaper), will be able to “talk” directly to other mobile devices as well as connect to beacons located in shops and other businesses.

The wireless technology standard is baked into the latest LTE spec, which is slated for approval this year. It could appear in phones as soon as late 2015. Devices capable of LTE Direct can interconnect up to 500 meters — far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But issues like authorisation and authentication, currently handled by the network, would need to be extended to accommodate device to device to communication without the presence of the network.

At the LTE World Summit, Thomas Henze from Deutsche Telekom AG presented some use cases of proximity services via LTE device broadcast.

Since radio to radio communications is vital for police and fire, it has been incorporated into release 12 of the LTE-A spec, due in 2015.

At Qualcomm’s Uplinq conference in San Francisco this month, the company announced that it’s helping partners including Facebook and Yahoo experiment with the technology.

Facebook is also interested in LTE Multicast which is a Broadcast TV technology. Enhanced Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services (also called E-MBMS or LTE Broadcast), uses cellular frequencies to multicast data or video to multiple users, simultaneously. This enables mobile operators to offer mobile TV without the need for additional spectrum or TV antenna and tuner.

FCC: Better Rural Broadband & 5G Spectrum

Posted by Sam Churchill on September 30th, 2014

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wants to see to the program that provides subsidies for Internet service in public schools and libraries known as E-Rate address broadband access by schools and libraries in rural areas, reports Roll Call.

In prepared remarks for an education technology event in Washington on Monday, Wheeler said that “75 percent of rural public schools today are unable to achieve the high-speed connectivity goals we have set.” He pointed to lack of access to fiber networks and the cost of paying for it when it’s available.

 

Wheeler says the FCC has set a clear target of $1 billion per year for Wi-Fi based internal networks for schools and libraries. “As a result, we will begin to see results in the next funding year, with expanded support for Wi-Fi to tens of millions of students and thousands of libraries”.

Wheeler’s speech comes after the FCC made changes to the E-Rate program this summer. Wheeler’s earlier plan to shake up the program was only partly successful — his FCC colleagues agreed to make more money available for Wi-Fi, as Wheeler proposed in June, but only if the money isn’t needed for basic Internet connections.

In other news, in announcing its agenda for its Oct. 17 open meeting, the FCC said it will vote on a Notice of Inquiry to “explore innovative developments in the use of spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services, and how the Commission can facilitate the development and deployment of those technologies.”

In a blog post, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote that the inquiry is aimed at broadening the FCC’s “understanding of the state of the art in technological developments that will enable the use of millimeter wave spectrum above 24 GHz for mobile wireless services.”

“Historically, mobile wireless services have been targeted at bands below 3 GHz due to technological and practical limitations. However, there have been significant developments in antenna and processing technologies that may allow the use of higher frequencies – in this case those above 24 GHz – for mobile applications”, wrote the Chairman.

5G or 5th generation wireless systems is expected to be the next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards and use frequencies above 5-6 GHz (where more spectrum is available. 5G does not describe any particular specification in any official document published by any telecommunication standardization body, and is expected to deliver over 10 Gbps, compared to 1 Gbps in 4G. It is expected to be first utilized for backhaul to cell sites.

Currently, Ubiquiti’s AirFiber has set the standard in 24 GHz at $3K for 700 Mbps while SAF, Trango, and others have announced similar products at $5000 or less.

Regarding “net neutrality”, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler says financial arrangements between broadband providers and content sites might be OK so long as the agreement is “commercially reasonable” and companies disclose publicly how they prioritize Internet traffic.

Not everyone agrees. Netflix and much of the public accuses the FCC of handing the Internet over to the highest bidders. There is no deadline for the FCC to pass a new rule, and deliberations at the agency could continue into next year.

The 3G4G Blog, compiled by Zahid Ghadialy, is perhaps the most comprehensive site covering 5G technology news.

The 600 MHz Incentive Auction in US – What we know so far

4 Apr

Source: Gunjan –  http://wirelesstelecom.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/the-600-mhz-incentive-auction-in-us-what-we-know-so-far/

A major high stakes wireless industry event generating a lot of interest nowadays in US is the 600 MHz incentive auction for broadcast spectrum scheduled to take place in 2015. This auction assumes special significance since it would be perhaps the last set of airwaves under 1 GHz that will be sold in America through a primary auction. Given the exploding demand for data on mobile devices and the superior propagation characteristics of wireless signals in this band, the four major US carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and many smaller regional service providers have exhibited deep interest in this spectrum. The proposition is considered a first of its kind in the world. To put it simply, the broadcasters will voluntarily sell their spectrum to the US regulator, FCC through a reverse auction. Subsequently, the mobile operators would buy those airwaves through traditional bidding. But the reality will be more complex than that and this article would attempt to address the related complexities.

The FCC first floated the idea of utilizing broadcast TV airwaves for mobile broadband access in the National Broadband Plan of 2010. Two years later, the US Congress authorized the Commission to conduct the incentive auction of the broadcast television spectrum. In the fall of 2012, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to officially kick off the rules and guidelines developing process for the 600 MHz auction. The following diagrams illustrate the concept of this auction in terms of how the television broadcast spectrum looks currently and one of the several proposals on what it could look like after the completion of this auction.

Pre and post auction 600 MHz band plan

The values of X and Y as shown above, are variable and obviously depend on the amount of spectrum that the broadcasters are willing to sell. One of the ideas floated by the FCC is the provision to accommodate different amount of TV spectrum relinquished in different markets. The downlink spectrum would be a fixed band nationwide while the uplink band may vary depending on the market. The FCC is hoping that 120 MHz of total spectrum can be made available through this process although the actual figure would be less than this and will be determined by the willingness of TV station owners to give up their usage rights. The first aspect of these incentive auctions would be the reverse auction. Over-the-air active TV licensees holding 6 MHz spectrum in various areas of US will be eligible to participate in the reverse auction. In order to ensure maximum participation, the NPRM states that such licensees would have 3 options. They could either give up the Ultra-High frequency (UHF) channel and relocate to a channel in the Very High Frequency (VHF) range or give up their channel and share a broadcast channel with another licensee post-auction or they can simply sell all their rights to the channel and go off air. In every case, the selling broadcaster could potentially earn tens or in some cases hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange of the spectrum rights in a region. The second aspect would be repacking those broadcast channels that did not participate in this auction and will be on air after the whole process ends. This will ensure that such stations occupy one end of the spectrum resulting in contiguous blocks that could be sold off to the wireless network operators. During the rebanding, the channels would be reassigned and not geographically relocated. There would be no negative impact on the coverage area and served population of a TV station. Final piece of the puzzle would be the forward auction, a process that is generally followed to sell airwaves to the telcos. However, the regulator may follow a new approach to this process, since different areas might open up different amounts of spectrum. Selling spectrum in blocks and keeping flexible uplink spectrum are two such approaches. The pricing of airwaves in a particular region would depend on the success of reverse auction in that region. Another important aspect of the 600 MHz incentive auctions would be the integration of reverse and forward auctions. Both could either run sequentially or concurrently. The sequential path would show the supply through reverse auction to the bidders, but the sellers would be unable to determine the right price, since they would not be aware of the demand during the forward bidding. The concurrent path would show the supply demand balance, but how would repacking fit into that plan?

It is quite obvious that many questions need to be answered before marking a date for this auction. Biggest of them is whether the broadcasters would volunteer to relinquish their spectrum rights. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has shown cautious interest in the auction. They are unsure about the kind of money that can be earned by either exiting the business or going to a shared channel. In comments filed with the Commission last summer, they also expressed deep concern over the co-existence of broadcast and mobile carriers on co-channels and adjacent channels in neighboring markets. They endorsed a nationwide standard band plan rather than an area-dependent approach that maximizes spectrum recovery. The NAB is definitely looking for more transparency in the rules. The FCC itself is still not sure about the success of the auction. The procedure can go belly up right at the start if participation from the broadcasters is low. Remember, if the target is to free up 120 MHz of frequencies, 20 stations will be required to exit the spectrum. Repacking presents another conundrum. Any move to reconfigure the TV stations would be complex and dependent on multiple factors. Apart from time and cost of repacking, interference protection on the new channel would be a major concern. There is no dearth of controversies on the wireless operator side too regarding these auctions. Bigger carriers like AT&T and Verizon want an open and simple bidding mechanism with no spectrum caps. Sprint, T-Mobile and other smaller rural carriers want an upper limit on the amount of airwaves that a bidder can buy. They claim that AT&T and Verizon already control more than three-fourth of commercial wireless spectrum below 1 GHz. Thus such a limit would promote consumer interest and encourage competition. Nonetheless, restrictions on spectrum bidding would reduce government’s revenue. There are divergent views on the channel block size and the size of economic areas (EA) too, although the spectrum is likely to be auctioned off in 5 MHz blocks. Appropriate utilization of the guard band frequencies is one more contentious topic. Internet companies like Google and Microsoft want unlicensed operations in that band, while the mobile telcos support only limited unlicensed spectrum. Given so many unresolved problems, the FCC delayed the 600 MHz incentive auctions until middle of 2015.

The regulator clearly needs to address issues of all stakeholders, but to be fair, this is an unprecedented situation and it is important to get it right even if that requires more time and discussion. The original plan was to have the order for this unique auction out by this spring, but that looks improbable now. The regulator must assuage the concerns of broadcasters in the order.  Rules and guidelines must be transparent with a well-defined structure. The barriers to entry must be low and TV spectrum owners should be educated about the approximate amount of dollars that they can expect in exchange of their 6 MHz of spectrum. They must be encouraged to explore the channel sharing option too. A recent pilot project conducted by 2 stations in Los Angeles concluded that sharing the same broadcast spectrum is technically feasible. Also as part of the order, the repacking methodology must be clearly laid out with specific timelines and costs involved. Various technical parameters like interference protection should also be outlined. Broadcasters must be assured that repacking will not affect their services in any manner and to further convince them, they should be allowed to test the repacking model. The station owners should be made to understand that since less than 10% of US households completely rely on over-the-air television, the spectrum they are holding can be utilized more efficiently if allocated for wireless data services. The other key policy challenge is on the forward auction side. There are valid arguments both in favor of and against imposing restrictions on spectrum that be bought by a bidder, so a balance has to be struck to ensure maximum participation and a level playing field. Lastly, the software and systems have to be extensively tested before commencing the complicated process.

There is clearly a long road to travel before these auctions can be held. There have been some positive developments like the formation of Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition (EOBC). EOBC represents broadcasters that are interested in these auctions and want to be a part of the rulemaking process in order to make this endeavor a success. But much more needs to happen. A well-designed competitive sale process encompassing all three stages is what the industry needs and if executed well, it can bring rich benefits to the consumers, promote competition and boost the economy. A successful auction would also influence other nations to follow suit. Now there is only shot at getting it right. The FCC seems to be working hard at it and basic idea sounds good, so let us hope for a result that is in best interests of all the stakeholders.

 

 

Steve Perlman Thinks He Can Completely Change How Cellphone Service Is Delivered

20 Feb

It has been taken for granted that cell service faces inevitable slowdowns as more users look to grab more data from ever-more-crowded cell towers using a limited amount of wireless spectrum.

It’s why even ultra-fast LTE service starts to bog down in dense urban areas as more and more people adopt data-hungry smartphones and tablets. To avoid interference, each device essentially takes turns grabbing the information it needs, meaning that as more users try to connect, the speeds get further away from the theoretical maximum.

The only answers served up so far have been to adopt faster network standards, use so-called “small cells” to boost coverage or add spectrum.

But tech industry veteran Steve Perlman says the industry has gotten it wrong.

His 12-person startup, Artemis Networks, proposes carriers use an entirely different kind of radio technology that the company says can deliver the full potential speed of the network simultaneously to each device, regardless of how many are accessing the network. The technology creates a tiny “pCell” right around the device seeking to access the network and sends the right signals through the air (via licensed or unlicensed spectrum) to give each of the tiny cells the information it needs.

Think of a pCell as a tiny bubble of wireless coverage that follows each device, bringing it the full speed of the network but only in that little area. The signals are sent through inexpensive pWave radios and, because Artemis technology doesn’t have to avoid interference, the radios can be placed with far more freedom than cell towers or small cells. It also means that, in theory, the technology would be able to bring high-speed cellular service even in densely packed settings like stadiums — locations that have proven especially thorny for traditional cellular networks.

Artemis plans to demonstrate the technology publicly Wednesday at Columbia University. In demos, Artemis has been able to show — in only 10MHz of spectrum — two Macs simultaneously streaming 4K video while nearby mobile devices stream 1080p content, a feat that Perlman says would not be possible with even the best conventional mobile networks. The company has been testing the network in San Francisco, and Perlman says that by late this year the company could have a broader test network here up and running.

The plus is that, while the system requires a new kind of radio technology for carriers, it is designed to use existing LTE-capable phones, such as the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S4. The pCell technology can also be deployed in conjunction with traditional cellular networks, so phones could use Artemis technology where available and then fall back to cellular in other areas.

That said, while the infrastructure is potentially cheaper than traditional cellular gear, Artemis faces the task of convincing carriers to invest in a radical new technology coming from a tiny startup.

Perlman is no stranger to big ideas, but he has also struggled to get mainstream adoption for those technology breakthroughs.

After achieving fame and success selling WebTV to Microsoft, Perlman aimed to change the pay-TV industry with Moxi but found that most of the large cable and satellite providers were not eager for such disruptive technology. Moxi was eventually sold to Paul Allen’s Digeo and the combined company’s assets eventually sold to Arris in 2009.

With OnLive, Perlman proposed using the cloud to deliver high-end video games streamed to users on a range of devices, a technology it showed off at the D8 conference in 2010.

Despite cool technology, though, Perlman’s venture struggled and abruptly laid off staff in August 2012. The business as it had been initially founded closed, though its assets did get sold to an investor who is still trying to make a go of things under the OnLive banner.

Perlman insists he has learned from the obstacles that kept him from making those past visions into market realities.

“The challenges are always when you have reliance or dependencies on other entities, particularly incumbents,” Perlman said.

That, in part, is why Artemis took its technology approach and made it work with traditional LTE devices. Perlman said he knew getting the Apples and Samsungs of the world to support it was a nonstarter.

So how will he convince the AT&Ts and Verizons of the world? Perlman said a key part there was to wait to launch until the need for the technology was clear.

“We’ll wait until they get congested and people start screaming,” Perlman said.

Artemis is so far funded by Perlman’s Rearden incubator, though Perlman has met with VCs, even briefly setting up a demo network on Sand Hill Road to show off the technology.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with Envisioneering Group, says Artemis’ pCell technology seems like the real deal.

“[The] pCell is the most significant advance in radio wave optimization since Tesla’s 1930s experiments and the birth of analog cellular in the early 1980s,” Doherty said in an email interview. “I do not use the word ‘breakthrough’ often. This one deserves it.”

As to whether and when cellular carriers bite, Doherty acknowledged that is the $64 billion question.

“If one bites, none can likely be without it,” he said. If none do, he said Artemis can use pCell in conjunction with Wi-Fi to demonstrate the promise and challenge operators. “My bet is a handful will run trials within the next year.”

Here’s a video of Perlman demonstrating the technology.

Source: http://recode.net/2014/02/18/steve-perlman-thinks-he-can-completely-change-how-cell-phone-service-is-delivered/

LTE: capacity and cell-edge performance improvements

17 Feb

In order to meet the growing mobile data demand, 3GPP is looking at a variety of technologies that will improve network capacity and cell edge performance of LTE networks. The key focus here is on network hyper-densification, as it is generally agreed that this approach can deliver significant capacity gains.

fig01

3GPP started working on Small Cells (low-power nodes) in Release 8, with focus on residential or enterprise use for a Closed Subscriber Group of users. But with Release 12 it is taking the use of Small Cells and network densification to a whole new level in order to achieve the desired capacity gains. This includes the development of a number of radio and protocol solutions that are aimed at improving spectral efficiency and operation when the density of small cells increases.

To improve spectral efficiency a higher-order modulation scheme is being added to the downlink operation (i.e. 256 QAM), while Small Cells discovery mechanisms are being studied allowing the network to efficiently switch on/off cells in order to maximize its capacity. Another key feature is Dual Connectivity allowing terminals to connect to two cells simultaneously. This for instance could be used to anchor connections to macro cells while boosting datarate via Small Cells. For LTE TDD (Time Division Duplexing) networks, robust interference management techniques are being looked at for the case when neighbor LTE TDD cells have different uplink/downlink resource allocations to better adapt to varying traffic conditions in different cells.
While essential for LTE TDD networks, synchronization has become increasingly important for LTE FDD (Frequency Division Duplexing) networks as well in order to implement some of the advanced interference management and multi-point coordination schemes developed in Rel-10 and Rel-11 (namely eICIC, Enhanced inter-cell interference coordination and CoMP, Coordinated Multi-Point). Synchronization can be quite challenging for Small Cells due to their location and non-ideal backhaul, and operators may not rely on traditional synchronization schemes such as GPS and backhaul mechanisms. To address fig02

this issue over-the-air synchronization schemes are being studied.
Finally, as hyper-dense networks will pose new challenges in terms of mobility management and network planning, 3GPP is looking at mechanisms to optimize mobility and to automate network planning and optimization for Small Cells.
To further enhance the spectral efficiency and cell edge performance of LTE networks, 3GPP is looking at enhancements of MIMO (Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output), CoMP and advanced interference suppression mechanisms standardized in previous releases. A 3D channel modeling study is ongoing to enable future work on terminal-specific Elevation Beamforming and Full-Dimension MIMO (MIMO systems with large number of antennas, e.g. 64 x 4, which will become relevant with the use of higher frequencies in the future). CoMP enhancements are being discussed for the case when cells are connected via a non-ideal backhaul, which is particularly relevant when Small Cells are employed in multi-point coordination schemes. Finally, the group is evaluating advanced interference suppression techniques at the terminal, including support of interference suppression on the data channel, with and without network assistance.

LTE: making more spectrum available at the terminal

Operator demand for more spectrum aggregation remains quite high, primarily to be able to fully utilize their often fragmented spectrum holdings and deliver higher data rates to the users. This has led to some advancements of the Carrier Aggregation (CA) technology: while the group is finalizing the RF requirements specification of 2 downlink / 1 uplink CA combinations, new work is being planned on 2 downlink / 2 uplink as well as 3 downlink / 1 uplink CA combinations.

fig03

As many operators around the world own paired (FDD) and unpaired (TDD) chunks of spectrum, it should not come as a surprise that 3GPP has started working on a framework that will allow operators to aggregate FDD and TDD carriers.

More and more 3GPP operators are using unlicensed spectrum for traffic offloading, and this motivated the ongoing evaluation of radio solutions for steering terminals between LTE/UMTS and WiFi. The goal here is to improve inter-working between the two systems in terms of mobility and load balancing capabilities.

LTE: new service enablers

One important area of work is on solutions optimizing LTE operation for low datarate, delay tolerant, Machine- Machine-Type Communications (MTC). A number of radio solutions are being considered in order to reduce modem cost of MTC devices, including a new low datarate User Equipment (UE) category, 1-receive antenna operation, narrowband data channel operation and half duplex operation. Receiver, repetition and bundling techniques are instead being considered to extend the coverage of control and data channels. MTC signaling enhancements are also being discussed in order to optimize power consumption and reduce signaling overhead. This includes the introduction of a new power-saving state for MTC devices as well as the introduction of assistance information about the terminal and its traffic pattern, to help RAN nodes to configure connections accordingly.

Another feature being developed for the LTE system is Device-to-Device (D2D) communication, which will enable a number of new Public Safety and consumer usecases and business opportunities. In particular 3GPP is designing solutions that will allow terminals to discover and communicate with each other under network supervision, and in some cases even without network supervision as for some Public Safety usecases where terminals will be outside network coverage.

fig04

Work in ongoing on Group Communication, which together with D2D is the other key enabler of many Public Safety usecases. Here the goal is to evaluate the suitability of the LTE radio interface for Group Communication.

New eMBMS (evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service)-related measurements will be defined so that they can be used by operators to optimize the quality of MBMS services being delivered. The new measurements will be collected using the MDT (Minimization of Drive Tests) framework standardized in Rel-10.

UMTS evolution

The UMTS system is also being evolved with a variety of new features. The main focus is on improving the system capacity and user-experience of next generation networks. Like for LTE, one of the key technology areas being discussed is the support of heterogeneous networks, with particular focus on solutions that address mobility and interference issues in case of network densification.
In the past few years, HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) networks have experienced a considerable increase in number of users and traffic, both in downlink and uplink. While in recent releases a variety of techniques have been standardized to improve the downlink performance of HSPA networks, 3GPP is now working on uplink enhancements that improve capacity and coverage of uplink operation. This includes overhead reduction, datarate boosting, enhancements to access control and optimized Transmission Time Interval (TTI) switching.

Dedicated channel (DCH) remains the main over-the-air transport option for Circuit-Switched (CS) services in UMTS networks. This motivated the work on DCH enhancements such as removal of pilot overhead and support of Early Frame Termination. These enhancements can significantly improve dedicated channel capacity when supporting CS voice services, something particularly suitable for emerging markets.
CA advancements are also being planned for UMTS. In particular, one novelty for UMTS is the RF requirements definition of a first Supplemental Downlink CA combination, which will allow operators to employ one TDD carrier as a supplemental downlink carrier for FDD operation.

Another interesting feature being evaluated is Scalable UMTS, which enables UMTS operation in channel bandwidths smaller than 5 MHz, e.g. 2.5 MHz. The feature can be useful for operators that own fragmented chunks of spectrum and to facilitate re-farming of GSM spectrum to UMTS.

Conclusion

In this article we provided a brief overview of the radio technology enhancements being developed by 3GPP for next generation LTE and UMTS networks. These technologies will help address the explosive mobile data growth as well as enable new services, thus meeting the evolving demand of cellular operators and their customers.

LTE/UMTS evolution – a brief history;

lte-evolution

3g-evolution

Source: http://www.3gpp.org/news-events/3gpp-news/1579-ran_rel12_and_beyond

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