Tuesday, 7 April 2020

TIP Webinar on Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT)

The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) group is a project group within Telecom Infra Project that works on the definition of open technologies, architectures and interfaces in Optical and IP Networking.

The project is an engineering-focused effort led by major operators, technology vendors and research institutions. It concentrates on different parts of the Transport network architecture, including optical transponders, line systems, IP access devices, open APIs and network simulation and planning tools.


TIP held a public webinar on 25th March with a lot of details about the group and the different projects within the group. The webinar is embedded below:
OOPT Public Webinar March 2020 from Telecom Infra Project on Vimeo.

You can jump to the part that may be of interest to you:

02:20 - Welcome & Introduction to TIP, Attilio Zani (TIP)
12:30 - Introduction to Open Optical & Packet Transport (OOPT) Project Group, Víctor López Álvarez (Telefónica)
23:00 - Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways (DCSG), José Antonio Gómez (Vodafone) & João Gabriel Evangelista Aleixo (TIM Brasil)
41:00 - Disaggregated Optical System (DOS), Johan Hortas (Telia)
45:00 - Cassini Overview, Jeff Catlin (EdgeCore) & José Miguel Guzmán (Whitestack)
1:00:00 - Phoenix Overview, Anders Lindgren (Telia)
1:09:00 - Disaggregated Optical Routers (DOR), Kenji Kumaki (KDDI)
1:17:00 - Physical Simulation Environment (PSE), Gert Grammel (Juniper) & Gabriele Galimberti (Cisco)
1:28:30 - Control, Information Models and APIs (CIMA), Harald Bock (Infinera) & Stephan Neidlinger (ADVA)
1:38:30 - Converged Architectures for Network disaggregated & Integration (CANDI), Oscar González de Dios (Telefónica) & Hirotaka Yoshioka (NTT)
1:52:30 - OOPT NOS – Goldstone, Kingston Selvaraj (PaIC Networks)
2:02:00 - Closing Remarks, Víctor López Álvarez (Telefónica)

Friday, 3 April 2020

Operator Cloud Infrastructure and Innovation Strategy

When I wrote about Docomo's Open Innovation Cloud, there was some discussion about what exactly is meant by the cloud, whether it has to be public or private (there is hybrid as well) and if service providers (SPs) are embracing it or not.
So before we jump into the mobile operator's strategies, I thought it would be good to do a quick introduction / recap on what is meant by cloud. Embedded below is a slightly long presentation, which goes in some detail but for most people the first 7 minutes is more than enough.



GSMA's 'The 5G Guide' which was produced last year has a lot of valuable information for the operators and everyone else willing to learn from that. Section 3.11 deals with '5G Value Enablers: Operator Cloud'. The key takeaways from that section are:

  • The Operator Cloud will combine the best of both cloud and edge to enable the 5G ‘Service Delivery Model’.
  • Edge computing in 5G networks will be delivered as Multi-access Edge Computing to reduce latency.
  • An Operator Cloud can help operators to save up to 2% of capex by improving operational efficiency and customer experience.
  • If operators can create competitive global platforms for edge/cloud services, this could unlock a new revenue opportunity of up to $100bn.

The GSMA whitepaper details the importance of operator cloud and the case for MEC, which is suited in what scenario. I am not detailing them here except for the final section below:

Value creation and capture with the Operator Cloud is firstly about an ‘infrastructure strategy’

A common refrain in the industry about the Operator Cloud, edge computing and MEC is that they present a chicken and egg dilemma. Operators seek a robust business case with clearly identified revenue sources and sizes before embarking on the journey to deploy the distributed edge/cloud infrastructure. While this may look like the prudent thing to do, it creates inertia for action and can lead to operators foregoing the opportunity completely.

An alternative approach is to consider the Operator Cloud, firstly as part of the infrastructure strategy of an operator. Under this approach, the Operator Cloud is progressively rolled out together with 5G network build out. Operators also begin to use it for backhaul relief and to improve the QoE for customers.

Under this approach, operators can satisfy their own operational and customer experience needs, and then address new opportunities without needing to impose an unachievable ROI hurdle. Figure 3.11.3 shows the contrast between the infrastructure strategy vs. the innovation strategy.

With new 5G services and applications being defined in more mature markets, operators are keeping their options open as to when is the right time to change their strategy from infrastructure centric to innovation centric.


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Monday, 23 March 2020

Docomo 5G Open Innovation Cloud


Earlier, I wrote about how the Japanese operator NTT Docomo is creating a whole new set of innovative 5G applications and use cases with the help of partners. For that purpose they have created the 5G Open Cloud platform. While NTT Docomo is using it to deliver it's own use cases and innovative applications, partners are encouraged to create their own services on top of that too.

In this post I am embedding a talk and the corresponding presentation looking at the challenge of creating this platform and how this is being solved. This presentation is from last year but still has lots of good information and I doubt things would have changed significantly.






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Tuesday, 17 March 2020

LuxTurrim5G smart light pole concept

There is no shortage of concepts to create a truly smart infrastructure for smart cities but this one may be different. LuxTurrim5G is Nokia Bell Labs driven, Finnish publicly funded, Smart City Ecosystem research project innovating & piloting novel digital services and business opportunities for a real smart city enabled by smart 5G light pole network.


Here is a short summary of LuxTurrim5G from their website.

Challenge
Smart cities need digital service infrastructure to improve safety, energy efficiency, air quality, effectivity of transportation and quality of living.

Approach
  • Develop & demonstrate key technical solutions & concepts based on smart 5G light pole infrastructure with integrated 5G mmW radios, sensors, cameras, info screens & other devices
  • Create an open access ecosystem and platform for digital services. 
  • Build a real life real time outdoor test and demo network at Nokia Espoo Campus to demonstrate new innovations on top of and enabled by 5G small cell infrastructure.
  • Pilot business & service innovations on e.g. navigation, information sharing & advertisement, public safety, weather monitoring and smart lighting.
Key results
Provide breakthrough enablers for a digital smart city ecosystem in street level deployments, by building versatile technology and service platform utilizing a single flexible and fast 5G network enabling data driven services from show case demos through pilots to real implementation

Here is a playlist of videos that provides further insights into the project.




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Sunday, 8 March 2020

Super Bowl 2020 Infrastructure in Miami, Florida, USA


Superbowl is a big thing in the US and is catching on in other parts of the world. My favorite part is all the trailers for the upcoming movies that gets dropped in the half time. All the US operators spend months getting ready with the infrastructure in the city and the stadium. After all, as an operator, you expect a fantastic feedback from your existing customers and show off the speeds after the game.

Quoting from Verizon news:

Verizon is on the ground in Miami working hand-in-hand with first responders, local and state government agencies to help keep everyone connected during the big game. 

Our work in Miami has been focused on three key areas: network investment, our state-of-the-art Command Center and being embedded at Florida’s Emergency Operations center.

Verizon's network engineers have been hard at work for more than two years to ensure that our network is ready for the big game and all the festivities that go along with it. As part of the preparations, Verizon has invested over $80 million dollars to enhance our to support the Super Bowl in and around the stadium and the greater Miami area.

Other investments include laying more than 230 miles of fiber throughout Miami, adding existing capacity to over 280 existing cell sites, installing 5G nodes to support NFL Super Bowl venues and events, installing close to 30 in-building solutions to enhance performance around the city (i.e. popular hotels and shopping centers), installing 5G at both the Miami and Fort Lauderdale Airports and more.

These are permanent network enhancements that will benefit the Miami residents and visitors for years to come.

In their announcement, AT&T said:

We’ve been working for more than a year – and have invested more than $85 million – to boost our network through a series of both permanent and temporary upgrades in the city. All this is designed to help residents, first responders and fans stay connected wherever they are.

And to keep fans safe at one of the year’s biggest sporting events, the FirstNet team at AT&T and the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority) are working hand-in-hand with dozens of public safety agencies to prepare. This advance work helps ensure first responders have the coverage, capacity and capabilities – network priority and preemption included – that they need to stay connected throughout the festivities.

We’ve upgraded our portion of the in-stadium Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and other network enhancements – like adding 5G+ and Band 14 spectrum – to provide over 300% more LTE capacity than what was available at the start of the football season. That means we’re utilizing the most LTE capacity currently available on any AT&T DAS in the state of Florida.

The DAS, a system of strategically-placed antennas that distribute and actively manage wireless network coverage throughout the stadium, help evenly distribute coverage, creating a better fan experience. This capacity boost helps manage heavy wireless traffic and gives fans and first responders strong wireless coverage throughout game day – from early tailgating to the final trophy presentation.  

We didn’t stop with in-stadium enhancements. Fans and first responders will be able to enjoy improved coverage in hotels, arenas, airports and convention centers, among other venues through a series of network enhancements:

  • We now offer extra speed and capacity over 5G+ in parts of 35 cities, including Miami and Miami Gardens.
  • We’ve upgraded or installed a new DAS at 29 additional locations throughout the Miami area.
  • We’re deploying 6 Cell on Wheels (COWs) to handle expected increased wireless network demands. They will improve reliability and data speeds during the week leading up to and during the Big Game.
  • We’re also enhancing network coverage for the 10th annual AT&T TV Super Saturday Night. The deployments will include a Super COW capable of 5G+ at Meridian Island Gardens to enhance coverage for all the fans headed to see Lady Gaga perform the night before the Big Game.
These investments will allow Florida residents, businesses, visitors and attendees at the festivities to celebrate the Big Game over the AT&T network at home, at work or on the go.
  
In addition to these network enhancements, we’ve been making public safety-specific preparations to ensure the FirstNet communications platform is ready for the Big Game:
  • We deployed high-quality Band 14 spectrum across the area to provide optimal coverage and capacity for first responders. We look at Band 14 as public safety’s VIP lane. In an emergency, it can be cleared and locked just for FirstNet subscribers, further elevating public safety’s connected experience and emergency response.
  • We’ve installed metro cells at numerous local and federal public safety agency centers. These enhancements provide agencies with a direct network connection to the critical information they need.
  • We’ll place three FirstNet Satellite Cell on Light Trucks (SatCOLTs) outside of the stadium for extra redundancy and to provide additional coverage to first responders, if needed.
  • We’re equipping first responders with FirstNet Ready™ devices to help ensure they have communications across the highly secure FirstNet network core.
Plus, members of the FirstNet team will staff the public safety command posts to support local, state and federal agencies in the week leading up to and through the day of the Big Game. This will help ensure communication needs for public safety officials are met.

In their announcement, T-Mobile said:

Over the last year, T-Mobile permanently boosted network capacity at venues throughout Miami so customers can share their game day moments in real time. T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers already have the biggest 5G network in Miami.  And now, customers with capable 5G smartphones can get a speed boost from millimeter wave 5G in places like Hard Rock Stadium and Bayfront Park.

With 150,000 people predicted to travel to Miami for Super Bowl LIV events, T-Mobile focused network enhancements where the biggest crowds will be, including Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Beach Convention Center, Bayfront Park, Miami Beach and Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports. And almost all the updates are permanent, so Miami residents and visitors can enjoy the improvements long after the Super Bowl is over.

T-Mobile more than doubled LTE capacity at Hard Rock Stadium so customers can stream, tweet, post and chat about every big moment from the game. To enhance indoor capacity at key venues throughout Miami, T-Mobile built new distributed antenna systems (DAS) and deployed small cells throughout the city to provide additional performance boosts in places that can be difficult for towers to reach.

Almost all of Miami is covered with T-Mobile’s far reaching low-band 5G and fast LTE, so whether customers watch the game from the couch or the beach they’ll be ready to share the action.  In addition to launching broad 5G coverage last month, T-Mobile has newly deployed millimeter wave 5G for customers with capable smartphones in parts of Miami, including nearly all of Bayfront Park and at Hard Rock Stadium in the lower bowl, parking lot and main entrances.

To ensure customers with compatible smartphones know where they can access 5G in Miami, T-Mobile has an interactive map of its nationwide low-band 5G to show where coverage is available down to the neighborhood level and created new millimeter wave maps for the city.

Finally, Sprint, who is the only one to share it's deployment pictures and equipment (shown on the top) said:

As part of our Next-Gen Network build, over the last two years we’ve invested millions of dollars in network infrastructure and upgrades to improve our customers’ wireless experience across Miami.

For the second year in a row, Sprint’s Big Game MVP for increased capacity and faster speeds than before is our innovative Massive MIMO technology. And this year, we’re not only bringing customers a better LTE experience, but we’ve lit up Sprint True Mobile 5G service in some areas of Miami including the stadium, in preparation for this exciting event!

Those who live, work or visit Miami should be fired up because these aren’t temporary fixes. These permanent solutions will benefit Sprint customers for a long time to come.

Based on the huge increase in customers’ data usage last year and in 2018, we’re using two different technologies this year to help meet fans’ demands to stream, download, video chat, text and connect on social.
  • In and around the stadium, Sprint’s Massive MIMO radios using our fast 2.5 GHz spectrum and breakthrough “split-mode” feature will enable us to simultaneously deliver our most-advanced LTE service and Sprint 5G for customers attending the showdown in person.
  • In addition, we will be providing 4G/5G dual connectivity within the stadium, transmitting 4G over a state-of-the-art distributed antenna system (DAS) with more than 1,800 antennas and 5G through Massive MIMO radios.
Together, these solutions will provide the equivalent of 10 macro cell towers at the stadium. That will give fans the coverage and capacity they need whether they’re in their seats, at the concession stand or tailgating in the parking lot.

With massive crowds expected throughout Miami and the surrounding areas, we extended our network upgrades in Downtown and Midtown Miami and Miami Beach, as well as areas in West Palm Beach and Ft. Lauderdale.
  • Several dozen new Massive MIMO radios in high-traffic areas such as Downtown Miami, Midtown Miami, Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach and the Palm Beach Convention Center will provide improved capacity and faster LTE speeds than before. Customers on Sprint 5G devices in these areas will automatically connect to even faster speeds on our next-generation wireless network. Sprint’s average 5G download speed of 215 Mbps is over 5X faster than our LTE.*
  • Hundreds of new small cells have been installed across the urban and dense areas of the city to “fill in” the network with our 2.5 GHz spectrum. This will result in more capacity in that area and a boost in speed for customers.
  • Nearly 300 cell sites throughout the area have been upgraded to use all three of Sprint’s spectrum bands - 800 MHz, 1.9 GHz and 2.5 GHz - for faster, more reliable service than before.
  • Dozens of new macro cell sites have also been built in areas including Delray Beach, Doral, Hialeah, Homestead, Miami, Palm Beach Gardens, and Pompano Beach to further expand wireless coverage in the Southeastern, Florida market.

So who won? Well, that depends on who you ask.

On the Speedtest blog, they said:

Sprint’s home team might have won the game, but Verizon triumphed when it came to mobile download speeds, coming in 143.7% faster than second-place T-Mobile when considering Speedtest® results over all technologies. Sprint had the third fastest mean download speed in this category and AT&T came in fourth.

Focusing on their 5G game really helped Verizon take the day when considering overall speeds as T-Mobile had the fastest mean download speed (66.35 Mbps) on LTE. Sprint was second on LTE with a mean download speed of 56.16 Mbps, AT&T third at 39.18 Mbps and Verizon fourth at 30.67 Mbps. We break out 5G speeds for each operator below.

T-Mobile’s mean upload speed over all technologies was far better than competitors’. Upload speed is especially important at big events like this as fans try to share their game day experience with those not in the stadium.

T-Mobile also had the lowest latency, coming in 26.0% faster than second-place AT&T. Sprint was third for latency and Verizon fourth.

For comparison, the mean download speed over mobile in the U.S. in January 2020 was 41.23 Mbps, upload was 10.55 Mbps and latency was 46 ms.

Verizon easily beat T-Mobile and Sprint when it came to mean download speed over 5G during the big game. Verizon came in last, however, for both mean upload speed over 5G and latency. T-Mobile showed the fastest mean upload speed over 5G and Sprint had the best latency on 5G. While we did see 5G Speedtest results for AT&T during the game, there were fewer than 10, the minimum threshold we set for this event.

In 2019, fans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta used over 24 TB of data on the stadium Wi-Fi network on game day with an average Wi-Fi download speed of 30.98 Mbps. To get a baseline on the Miami experience, we looked at Wi-Fi performance during the Bengals v. Dolphins matchup on December 22, 2019.

Wi-Fi at the stadium did show some game day stresses yesterday, with a mean download speed 33.7% slower than the December 22 game. Mean upload speed dropped 25.7% and latency was up 28.6%.

Verizon also provided Wi-Fi for their customers during the big game yesterday, and the mean download speed was comparable to that on the stadium’s SSID. Mean upload speed on Verizon’s SSID was 12.1% slower than on the stadium’s, but Verizon’s Wi-Fi latency was also lower, showing a 22.2% improvement over stadium Wi-Fi.

It’s worth noting that mean upload speed in all cases was faster than that on download. This is impressive and helpful to fans trying to livestream their experience for friends back home.

This does not mean that it has stopped T-Mobile in claiming that they were winners.

You can say that based on the 5G coverage, this was justifiable

Hopefully in the next Superbowl, we will see some more concrete deployment pictures along with the marketing spin.

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Friday, 28 February 2020

Rakuten details how Cloud will make Telecommunications Industry Irrelevant


Yesterday we detailed Rakuten's Open RAN and Innovation Journey here. Today, we look at a presentation from the recent 5G Malaysia International Conference 2020 where Tareq Amin, CTO, Rakuten Mobile, presented his vision on how Cloud will eventually make Telecommunications Industry Irrelevant.


Innovation has allowed them to create a site with the smallest footprint. Not only that, the change of design has allowed the operator to save massive amounts of money and at the same time pushing the software in the cloud  allows the site to come up is 8.5 minutes as compared to the traditional time of between half to two days.

Rakuten uses 6 hardware types in their data centers which are COTS servers and this has helped them achieve some amazing results as can be seen here.


Tareq is expecting Opex to reduce even more due to automation. Time will tell. Here is the presentation embedded below.


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Saturday, 15 February 2020

Verizon's Small Cells Start Paying Dividends

Pictures Source: Dr Jonathan L Kramer

In their recent investor meeting presentation, Verizon talked about many different approaches that have helped them keep pace with the increasing traffic.


While basic improvements like 256-QAM, 4x4 MIMO, Carrier Aggregation and CBRS/LAA have helped, other innovations like Interference Management Software has helped improve capacity.


Densification solutions include increasing number of small cells and more carriers per sector.


This chart above from the deck is a good summary of how different enhancements affect the LTE User Peak Throughput as well as the LTE Network Spectral Efficiency. According to the graph, this year they are planning to deploy FD-MIMO, a.k.a. Full-Dimension MIMO.

This research paper (link) on FD-MIMO provides an excellent overview of the topic. According to that "3GPP decided to use tens of antennas with a two dimensional (2D) array structure as a starting point. Full-Dimension MIMO (FD-MIMO), the official name for the MIMO enhancement in 3GPP, targets the system utilizing up to 64 antenna ports at the transmitter side."


This chart above is a good summary of how these enhancements have helped Verizon expand capacity to handle the increase of user traffic.


With regards to the small cells, the number of 5G small cells is expected to increase by at least 5 times this year to cope with the 5G traffic increase and coverage improvement. As Verizon has deployed mmWave spectrum for 5G, they will need significant number of smaller cells to provide coverage.


The tweet below shows an example of 5G Small Cell


Here is an interesting recent video from Verizon explaining small cells to their end users.


It would be interesting to see in the next few years how these small cells solve the coverage gap and handle the capacity need.

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