Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Some Pictures of Macrocells (and Small Cells) from Rakuten, Japan

If you have been following the Japanese operator Rakuten's progress, you will already know that they use variety of radio hardware vendors. Some of these we have covered in this blog. For example, Airspan's macros and small cells that I blogged here is used in quite a few locations. Similarly, I blogged about NEC O-RAN radios here that are being used in the live network too.

Here are some pictures from Twitter.

Rakuten mobile base station in Akiba (source)

Rakuten Mobile 5G base station, Komazawa Dori from Kanhachi (source)

Rakuten Mobile's 5G n77 base station. (source)

Indoor Rakuten mobile base station at the Haneda Airport International Terminal (source)

Antenna for high-rise buildings (source)

NEC on Rakuten Mobile 5G (source)


Airspan Air5G RDU 46, 28GHz (n257) (source)

You can't have a post on base stations without a speed test, so here we go

Speedtest on Rakuten 4G network (source)

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Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Nokia's AirScale indoor Radio (ASiR) Small Cells

Nokia’s AirScale indoor Radio solution, ASiR for short, is the latest in a long line of small cell solutions deployed in more than 300 networks around the world. ASiR supports multiple radio access technologies and is a great solution across a wide variety of situations from a small office to large enterprises, hospitals and transportation hubs. It’s easy to deploy, using Cat 6a cable, which significantly simplifies and speeds up installation. What’s more, the ASiR pico radio heads (pRRH) are powered from the same Cat 6a cable, via power over Ethernet; no more unsightly power supplies and their cables.

ASiR is highly flexible. Begin with LTE and when the time is right, add 5G. Need to expand coverage? Simply daisy-chain additional pRRHs in the required locations. Network planning of in-building solutions can be challenging. However, with ASiR’s single frequency network (SFN) approach, interference and network planning concerns all but disappear … and so do the associated costs.



ASiR System is an enhanced indoor solution with a centralized architecture, including multi-band ASiR-pRRH, ASiR-sHUB, and AirScale BBU. The platform supports 2G/3G technology via an optional ASiR-RFC (RF Converter). ASiR System is 5G-ready and can evolve into a 4G+5G mixed network on the same platform via graceful 5G radio insertion.

Nokia’s next generation indoor system supports all technologies (2G/3G/4G/5G) and is designed to upgrade 4G to 5G NR via plug-and-play with minimal on-site work. To ensure consistent network performance across all layers, ASiR is driven by AirScale BBU and combines multiple ASiR-pRRH into one Single Frequency Network (SFN). Each ASiR-pRRH is a high power ( 4x250mW) access point that is connected via a single Ethernet cable for both fronthaul and Power over Ethernet (PoE). Planning should be considered in such a way that support the capabilities of each technology.

The key components of the ASiR solution include:
  • ASiR-BBU: Same BBU used by the macro deployment.
  • ASiR-sHUB: Connects to the ASiR-BBU via CPRI 9,8Gbps (Option 8) and serves as an ASiR-pRRH aggregation point. For the downlink, the ASiR-sHUB provides multi-casting to all ASiR-pRRH in a given SFN. For the uplink, the ASiR-sHUB provides radio summing and forwarding to the AirScale BBU.
  • ASiR-pRRH: Connects to the ASiR-sHUB via a proprietary CPRI over 10GBASE-T/5GBASE-T. The ASiR-pRRH provides DFE and Radio functions.
  • ASiR-RFC: Supports neutral hosting, 2G/3G/4G technology.
The connection between ASiR-sHUB and ASiR-pRRH is a highly optimized interface designed to specifically carry more carrier bandwidth and MIMO layers as well as support the ability to chain 5G ASiR-pRRH other ASiR-pRRH. Since ASiR-pRRH chaining provides both traffic and power, ASiR-pRRH (e.g. 5G or non-5G) may simply connect together without the need for additional ASiR-sHUB cabling.

The ASiR solution is very flexible and supports various indoor deployment scenarios.

ASiR-pRRH
  • Tri-bands support – 3 technologies into 1 box
  • 40MHz OBW / legacy band , 100MHz OBW / 5G band
  • 50 - 250mW output power – Wide coverage, high ceiling support, cost saving
  • Integrated / External antenna variants – Extend deployment to full scenarios
  • 4G-5G chaining – 4G/5G co-site with just one Cat6a transmission
ASiR-sHUB
  • 12 x 10GBASE-T ports – The highest pRRHs connectivity in industry, perfect for adding 5G
  • 4 x 9.8G (SFP ports) backhaul to BBU – Strong backhaul capability to enable 4 Hub chaining or use 1x 9,8G for ASiR RFC connectivity
  • 4G/5G concurrent support – smooth upgrade to 5G without hardware changing
  • Rich feature support (SFN, Virtual 4T4R) – coverage or capacity driven, as customer wish
ASiR-RFC
  • Multi-tech RF conversion – GSM/WCDMA/LTE in one system
  • 3 x 4 RF ports (12 SMA connectors)– Neutral Hosting for multi-vendor scenario
  • 8 x 9.8G SFP ports (CPRI interface)– Strong connectivity to Hubs
Resolving the issue of indoor densification and providing a path to 5G
Today’s networks must be densified to provide the extreme capacity needed to meet soaring traffic demand. Yet densification is often perceived as a challenge by many CSPs as it may require multiple small cell sites, which could delay roll outs and incur large investment.

The ASiR was designed to provide the flexibility needed to ensure smooth installations with an easy and cost-effective upgrade path from 4G to 5G.



With Nokia deploying 5G networks with many different operators, we will surely see more of these soon.

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Friday, 24 July 2020

FC Bayern and Deutsche Telekom bring 5G to the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany

Allianz Arena is a football stadium in Munich, Bavaria, Germany with a 70,000 seating capacity for international matches and 75,000 for domestic matches. Widely known for its exterior of inflated ETFE plastic panels, it is the first stadium in the world with a full colour changing exterior.

The official website, not too long ago, announced that 5G mobile connection is now available in the stadium and complements the previous LTE network.


A total of eleven 5G antennas in and around the stadium ensure the best network quality in the Allianz Arena. This new mobile connection makes it possible to transmit larger amounts of data more quickly - almost in real time. As soon as the stadium reopens, every visitor will now have the capacity to upload multiple pictures or videos.


Telekom Blog had more details (Google translated from German):

When the Allianz Arena was opened in 2005, mobile communications were still in the middle of the GSM era. And the cell phones were from Nokia. Since then, UMTS ( 3G ) and LTE ( 4G ) have also moved into the FC Bayern stadium . Now 5G is added. To this end, Telekom has set up antennas in three places. Where exactly, knows Frank Buchholz, the radio network planner for the arena. First of all, there is "an antenna behind the facade that is not visible from the outside. It supplies the motorway, the driveway and the esplanade" - in other words, the large square in front of the stadium where fans meet.

It continues on the other side of the Esplanade: "There we have a location in the Park and Ride building. It also supplies the Esplanade and the ways to the subway." And besides, "of course we have the antennas that are in the stadium. They supply the bowl inside and provide a 5G basic service".

A lot of bandwidth is required for 75,000 spectators who come to the Allianz Arena for every home game - if there is no Corona . Because 75,000 people, that corresponds to the population of a larger city. And almost everyone wants to send their selfies, photos and videos of the games directly from the arena to their homes, or post them on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

In the Allianz Arena, Telekom installed so-called "massive MIMO " antennas for 5G. With this state-of-the-art technology currently available, a large number of antennas in a single housing ensure particularly high bandwidths. In addition, radio technology, power supply and cooling are housed together.

All this makes the 5G antennas not only particularly powerful, but also particularly heavy. An antenna weighs up to 45 kg. With three units, in order to be able to emit the signal in all directions, this can amount to around 135 kg, which were hoisted under the roof of the Allianz Arena and assembled there. "This high weight must be taken into account for roof loads, statics and wind loads. That is a massive intervention in the infrastructure of such an object," says Telekom radio network planner Frank Buchholz.

He also had to take into account and calculate that the antennas for GSM, UMTS and LTE also remained in operation in order to really be able to provide all visitors to the stadium with mobile communications. In the end, the 5G assembly in Fröttmaning worked perfectly - because the planning was as clever as an action by Thomas Müller.

Although 5G smartphones are only gradually coming onto the market, the new antennas should already offer 5G coverage with high quality and high area coverage. To do this, they use the 3.6 GHz spectrum for which Deutsche Telekom bought the frequencies in 2019. "This has the advantage that we can offer there in the gigabit range and that we have an undisturbed spectrum that is not yet fully utilized," explains radio network planner Buchholz.

The extremely fast 3.6 GHz spectrum already enables downloads at 1,000 megabits per second. For football fans for comparison: This is at least as fast as left-back Alphonso "Phonzie" Davies, the new Bayern rocket from Canada.

Shortly after the installation, a test with the 5G smartphone on the esplanade in front of the stadium showed a speed of 889 megabits / second. And that is by no means the end of the story, as the UMTS example shows. There, the downloads increased from an initial 384 kilobits / second to a maximum of 42 megabits / second within a few years. This shows the enormous potential of successor 5G.

And in the future, the new mobile radio in the Allianz Arena will also enable completely new applications - such as graphics that are placed directly over the smartphone's camera image using augmented reality (AR). Then everyone can see the calibrated offside line on their cell phone , or cheer a goal from all perspectives.

Here is the video, in German with no English subtitles. It still gives an idea on how the installation was done.



If you know more details, feel free to add in comments below.

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Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Huawei 5G Lampsite wins awards and speed tests

I have talked about Huawei Lampsite since early days, the first being nearly 6 years back. Recently I talked about them with regards to Neutral Host networks and as an Indoor digital network vision.
Back in Feb this year, Huawei's 5G LampSite won the iF DESIGN AWARD at the 2020 iF International Industrial Design Forum due to its consistent high-quality design, high level of integration, and simplified, intuitive installation experience. A press release on their website said

Launched in March 2018, 5G LampSite is the industry's first multiband integrated solution that provides digital indoor coverage through both 5G NR and 4G LTE technology.

The all-new 5G LampSite series product continues the tradition of the family's "morning-dew" styling, featuring a sleek, smooth arc surface that ensures an extraordinary user-friendly layout. On top of a perfected appearance and curved visual style, the tensile design allows for excellent flexibility and adaptability, enabling it to perfectly blend in with modern urban environments.


Less than 2 liters in dimension, 5G LampSite supports 5G NR and LTE modules integrated in one box on both C-band and all sub-3 GHz bands, while also allowing for both CAT6A Ethernet and fiber-optic transmission. At a result, both eMBB and IoT services are implemented with a single box, achieving a superb balance between product performance and aesthetics.


As with all 5G rollouts, there are loads of speetests on Sunrise, Switzerland network to prove their in-building effectiveness. Here is a short promo video by Huawei from the Sunrise network.



A presentation from last year is embedded below and can be downloaded from techUK here.



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Thursday, 9 July 2020

Drones for Tower Inspections and Optimization


With the advancements in drone design, technology and automation, over the last couple of years I have noticed quite a few announcements about drones for tower inspections and optimisation. It would not be possible to cover all the companies here that have a solution but here are three big well known names in our industry that we are going to look in this post.


Back in March 2019, NTT Docomo announced that they have agreed to test docomo sky(TM) for Tower Inspection with PT Solusi Tunas Pratama Tbk. (STP), a company that leases out telecommunication towers in Indonesia. 

The service uses drones to photograph base stations and telecom towers and transmit the information to a command center in real time. The partners hope to expand the scope of the test to include other locations and facilities prior to launching a full-scale commercial service in the first half of this year.

The system being tested is based on an operational drone-based tower inspection system developed by DOCOMO for its commercial network throughout Japan, and supports the "docomo sky" ground control station (GCS) app for assistance in inspection tasks, enabling drone operators to input flight data with ease. For the test, DOCOMO will provide its cloud-based platform for operational support and data analysis. The drones fly automatically, take photos and transmit the images via the platform in real time, enabling technicians to inspect the towers via the docomo sky web browser immediately.

Indonesia is undergoing rapid urban development, including the construction of tall buildings and transportation infrastructure, which has resulted in large structures occasionally interfering with radio propagation from telecom towers. STP, which manages such facilities, must dispatch technicians to visually check conditions by climbing the towers. The new service will enable remote inspections to be conducted much more quickly and safely than at present, thereby allowing STP to achieve greater customer satisfaction with its service to mobile network operators.

In addition, the service is expected to support efforts to speed up procedures for inspecting and restoring telecom facilities in Indonesia whenever a natural disaster occurs.

Going forward, DOCOMO will continue to develop and upgrade its advanced drone services, one of the many ways the company is serving society by leveraging its diverse technical assets and know-how, including mobile network technology and platform businesses.

This week Docomo announced new features of drone platform "docomo sky" and new tariff. Details (in Japanese) available here.


Back in April this year, Rakuten Mobile announced that it will collaborate with Rakuten Group company Rakuten AirMap, Inc., which provides solutions supporting safe and compliant drone operations to enterprises, airspace authorities and drone operators in Japan, in using drones to conduct completion inspections of base stations for its mobile network.

As Rakuten Mobile expands its base station network across Japan, drones will take multi-angle photographs of the newly constructed base stations. In typical completion inspections, an engineer climbs the antenna tower on which the base station is installed and visually inspects the equipment. However, these inspections raise a number of concerns regarding safety, the time required to carry out the inspections and personnel costs. By carrying out the work with drones, completion inspections can be conducted in a shorter amount of time, more efficiently and with a higher degree of safety. Completion inspections will be conducted using AirMap’s TowerSight, a unified system that allows tower companies and MNOs to transform their tower inspections using automated drone workflows.

To date, Rakuten Mobile has conducted limited trials of base station completion inspections using drones in certain areas, and will now fully adopt drones for completion inspections nationwide. By using drones in completion inspections, Rakuten Mobile aims to improve the efficiency of base station construction and accelerate the expansion of its network area.

Drone captures of the base station and surrounding area are shared through Rakuten AirMap’s cloud-based inspection system, allowing staff working on the construction of the base stations to manage and share information efficiently and chronologically.

Rakuten AirMap has been instrumental in establishing the infrastructure for safe and scalable drone use in Japan and will leverage its expertise in completion inspections to contribute to the growth of drone applications in business. The two companies are also looking into the use of drone-based inspections during natural disasters and other emergency situations.

The official Rakuten Blog has a much more detailed article here.


The final announcement is from Samsung Electronics where they announced a successful demonstration of their new drone-based antenna configuration measurement solution for 4G and 5G networks in the company’s campus.

This automated solution will offer operators a simplified way to more efficiently manage cell sites, improve employee safety, and ultimately optimize network performance.

In the demonstration, an engineer on the ground used a smartphone with a remote control application to fly a camera-equipped drone that captured photos of the antennas installed on a building’s rooftop. The visual data was viewable via the engineer’s smartphone and then was transmitted to a cloud server within seconds. The deep learning-based artificial intelligence (AI) solution instantly verified the rotation and tilt of the antennas, so that the engineers could determine if the antennas were installed correctly at predefined optimal angles.

It took less than a minute to transmit the data and process the results, enabling the engineer to view results on-site in real-time on the smartphone screen. The demonstration verified that Samsung’s solution can accomplish the task within 15 minutes – starting from flying the drone to the delivery of measurement results. This compares to the several hours it can take for a tower climber to prepare, climb up and down a cell tower, and measure antenna configurations.

In conjunction with this new solution, Samsung will continue to add additional features, which will allow the engineers to remotely adjust the antenna tilts to its optimal position from a mobile device and PC.

Cellular antennas are typically installed at significant heights on sites such as cell towers or rooftops, in order to ensure optimal mobile coverage. Operator field engineers ordinarily carry heavy and expensive equipment as they climb up cell sites to measure the antenna configurations. With Samsung’s drone-based AI solution, operators will have a new approach for reinforcing the safety of their employees.



The solution’s safety benefits will be especially helpful during site audit and maintenance in the U.S., which often requires two field personnel to be dispatched to a site to audit or adjust the antenna angles -- and requires climbs that use more advanced safety training.

“As the number of 5G network sites grows, there has been a heightened focus on network performance by operators, and we are seeing an increased market demand for intelligent solutions for site maintenance,” said Sohyong Chong, Vice President and Head of Network Automation, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Once this solution launches globally later this year, it will offer a safer, more cost-effective and convenient way to satisfy market demands, leveraging our unique capabilities in combining the latest technologies—drones, AI and 5G.”

Samsung Networks is a pioneer in the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions ranging from chipset, radio and core network to cloud platform for both mid-band (2.5GHz/3.5GHz) and mmWave (28GHz/39GHz) frequencies. The company has been supporting 5G commercial services in leading markets, including Korea, U.S. and more recently Japan, where the majority of worldwide 5G subscribers are currently located.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

QCell - ZTE’s 5G Solution for Gigabit Indoor User Experience

ZTE unveiled its 5G RAN product portfolio for the 'Networks of the Future' back in February, just in time for the MWC that was unfortunately cancelled. One of the products was QCell.

ZTE’s QCell 5G indoor solution provides not only multi-mode, multi-frequency, ultrawide-bandwidth and large-capacity 4TR products, but also a more budget-friendly 2TR product that supports 300 MHz bandwidth, which is ideal for indoor RAN sharing and rapid introduction of 5G with lower deployment cost.



Yesterday, ZTE announced that along with the Jiangsu branch of China Telecom, they have deployed 5G 200 MHz Qcell 4T4R digital indoor distribution system in the indoor scenarios with high amounts of data traffic, such as shopping malls and subway stations, in Xuzhou, China. The system provides high-quality 5G indoor coverage, and accelerates future 5G indoor system deployment.


This commercial deployment has employed ZTE’s latest 5G Qcell ultra-wideband product series, which supports 200MHz continuous ultra-large bandwidth at 3.5 GHz frequency band, and 100MHz+100MHZ dual-carrier aggregation technology that doubles download rate. 

For the time being, by virtue of China Telecom’s 100MHz 5G bandwidth, the single 5G user download rate has turned out to exceed 1 Gbps. In case of the activation of 200 MHz bandwidth in the future, the single 5G user download rate will exceed 2 Gbps, providing an excellent 5G experience. 

Moving forward, ZTE will give full play to its technical and commercial advantages in the 5G field, continue to work closely with China Telecom to build high-quality 5G digital indoor networks, and develop 5G industrial applications, thereby facilitating the development of smart cities.

A partner feature on Mobile World Live provides a lot more technical details:

The ZTE QCell system consists of pRRU/pBridge/BBU (Baseband Unit) 3-level equipment. The 3-level efficient architecture supports the rapid cabling of CAT6a network cables or optical-electrical hybrid cables. It supports pBridge multi-level cascading, cell splitting and combination, and can rapidly respond to the operator’s requirements for the complex networking of different frequency bands and systems, rapid adjustment and flexible expansion of capacity and coverage.

The 300 MHz large bandwidth products with multi-mode and multi-frequency band enable the ZTE QCell solution the powerful network architecture integration capability, to meet the requirements of multi-operator’s co-building and sharing and have the compatibility and adaptability of global deployment. It not only supports the overlay networking of the existing DAS and 5G QCell, but also supports the feed-in of the GSM/UMTS DAS RF signals from different manufacturers in the existing network through the MAU, to protect the operator’s existing indoor distribution investment and introduce value-added services based on 5G coverage and precise positioning. QCell supports GSM/CDMA/UMTS/FDD LTE/TDD LTE/5G NR, which makes once deployment to implement the multi-operator/multi-band/multi-system indoor distribution system that achieves agile, long-term, co-construction, sharing, and lowest cost indoor distribution network, multi-system equipment and common management and maintenance. It only needs software upgrade for service expansion and network architecture evolution in the future so as to protect the investment in early-stage 5G indoor deployment and reduce the overall TCO cost from the perspective of long-term operation.

ZTE adopts innovative design of QCell products to reduce the cost and power consumption of equipment units. The pRRU transceiving channel not only supports high-performance 4T4R, but also supports low-cost 2T2R, further reducing the cost and power consumption. The pBridge enhanced product is designed to reduce the cost and power consumption after the electrical interface and optical interface are separated and the SoC solution is introduced. Moreover, the simplest BBU product is introduced to further reduce the QCell system networking cost.

The hierarchical QCell networking well matches diverse scenarios

Based on the analysis of the requirements for indoor distribution of operators, vertical industry enterprises, and large business owners, the indoor distribution scenarios can be divided into three types: capacity-sensitive scenario (type A), capacity and coverage balancing scenario (type B), and coverage-sensitive scenario (type C).

For the above three types of scenarios, ZTE provides hierarchical QCell networking solutions. Compared with the Benchmark QCell solution of 4T4R built-in antenna pRRU, ZTE provides a cost reduction solution of 2T2R built-in antenna pRRU and a low cost solution of 4T4R pRRU+ connected with external DAS antenna according to the scenario requirements, thus achieving the accurate network construction and saving operators’ investment. Evaluations based on the 40,000 square meters isolated indoor distribution scenario show: for scenario type B, the total main equipment investment is reduced by about 1/4; for scenario type C, through the external DAS antenna, the single-pRRU coverage area is greatly expanded and the overall investment is greatly reduced by about 1/2.

Extensive QCell Digital Smart Indoor Application, Making 5G Service Ubiquitous

The QCell digital intelligent indoor distribution system can be deployed for indoor and semi-indoor to achieve wireless coverage and service provision in high-value areas, such as large traffic hub, large stadiums, CBD and university campuses.

The large-scale traffic hub scenarios, such as airports, railway stations, and subway stations, have a large area and high population density, and are high-value areas for operators to guarantee both coverage and performance. The Wi-Fi system of most transportation hubs is often limited in capacity and cannot meet passengers’ requirements for future 4K/8K HD video. In Changsha Huanghua Airport, ZTE deployed the indoor high-capacity digital intelligent QCell solution with high-density networking and the first 3-carrier aggregation technology in China, to achieve the throughput of 8400Mbps for the airport. The solution supports 3,500 people simultaneously to enjoy HD video smoothly. At present, the QCell solution has been widely used in various metropolitan airports and railway hub stations, including Changsha Airport in Hunan, Xiaoshan Airport in Hangzhou, Nanjing South Station and Xining Railway Station, serving millions of passengers. Nanjing South Railway Station has a total building area of 45.8 million square meters, which is the largest railway station in Asia. After QCell is deployed, the SINR is increased by 13% and the throughput is increased by 91.8%.

The large stadiums, such as stadiums and exhibition halls, have a large number of users and a huge amount of data volume in a centralized manner. The QCell solution supports vertical partitioning to achieve seamless multi-layer coverage from the upper stands, the middle mezzanines to the bottom passages. At present, the QCell solution has been widely deployed in large stadiums such as Hangzhou Olympic Center, Hangzhou Expo Center, Suzhou International Expo Center, and Shenzhen New High-Tech Center. In August 2019, the ZTE 5G Smart Digital Indoor Division QCell solution covered many important sports venues including the Main Conference venue of the Red Lantern Stadium for the second National Youth Games (Shanxi), and made the Game the first “5G Games” in China. Through such technologies as MEC deployment and low delay coding, the ZTE 5G Smart stadium solution reduces the end-to-end live broadcast delay to 1 second, and provides audience with the excellent experience comparable to watching on the spot. In addition, ZTE also provides audience with brand-new experience in three 5G scenarios: immersive viewing experience from multi-angle live streaming, “Flexible Zooming” and “360-degree Free View” services. As an iconic application in the Game, the 5G Smart Stadium Solution provided an excellent demonstration for the live broadcast of sports events.

A recent promo video of QCell is embedded below:




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Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Edge Computing and the Future of Small Cell Networks


Small Cell Forum (SCF) recently published report setting out how edge computing will impact the future of small cell networks, with particular focus on private 4G / 5G cellular networks. A survey of service providers for the paper showed that by 2025 almost 75% new indoor small cell deployments will be co-located with edge and/or private EPC. The paper (SCF 234) is available to download here.

The press release on this stated:

Edge Computing and Small Cell Networks identifies core synergies between edge computing (EC) and small cell networks (SCNs) and highlights how those synergies are present across multiple domains – business, technical, deployment, product and vendor ecosystems.

It describes how the benefits of small cells co-located with edge can be applied to commercial and operational advantage in key industry segments, such as automation and Industry 4.0, worksites, mission critical services, enterprises and public safety. The paper looks in detail at the architectures and deployment considerations for edge and small cells in three premises-based use cases:
  • Fully private cellular networks (PCNs)
  • PCNs that have a roaming relationship with MNO networks
  • PCNS integrated with MNO networks

While small cells and edge computing have significant potential to meet enterprise demand and drive new business models for service providers, best practice needs to be agreed and adopted, and technical barriers/gaps addressed to optimize that potential for both enterprises and service providers. Key areas of focus include:
  • Edge network recommendations: For edge computing solutions, the ‘edge network’ has to work in concert with the ‘core network’ via open interfaces and APIs to enable true multi-vendor ecosystem. SCF believes that current specifications are incomplete and need enhancements.
  • Edge platform services and applications recommendations: Open and consistent APIs across multiple organizations must evolve and align to enable a broad ecosystem of edge platform services and edge applications.
  • EC platform solution recommendations: Blueprints/reference-designs/solutions for open-source edge computing platforms are urgently required for rapid growth of the EC ecosystem.
  • EC and small cell recommendations: Design/deployment blueprints must be available for core use cases to best leverage small cell/edge synergies to deliver multiple benefits: shared virtualized implementations leading to cost efficiencies; integrated network functions & mutually beneficial analytics (radio environment, RAN characteristics, location etc.) leading to advanced functionalities to the edge computing platforms.
  • EC infrastructure recommendations: In determining the COTS hardware for optimal edge computing infrastructure, service providers and enterprises shouldn’t be tempted to reinvent the wheel. There are already robust guidelines for data center & hardware design & implementations from TIA, BICSI and OCP that should be followed.

‘The benefits of edge computing are well known, but what we have begun to demonstrate with this work is that small cells and edge will be critical for enabling service providers and enterprises to realize new profitable service opportunities,’ said Dr. Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. ‘Small cells plus edge will also enable new business models for a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including edge infrastructure, edge network and edge platform as a service, as well as direct edge application services to subscribers, enterprises and service providers.’

Going forward, working in collaboration with other relevant Industry Forums, SCF will lead the development of a set of harmonized and consistent set of application, network & system-level APIs to enable small cell networks to facilitate EC services and applications.

SCF will also spearhead the deployment of design blueprints for core use cases, leveraging small cell/edge synergies and open source environments.

The research was made possible by an extended collaboration of leading MNOs, OEMs and Infrastructure providers, brought together by Small Cell Forum, including; American Tower, AT&T, Crown Castle, Druid, Intel, Nokia and Reliance Jio.

A video by Small Cell Forum provides a bit more background of this new Edge Computing and Small Cell Networks whitepaper:



Edge computing is a hot topic and every time we have posted something, we have got a lot of engagement on the topic.



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Tuesday, 16 June 2020

ZTE 'Unisite+' helps accelerate co-site deployment of 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G with fewer devices

One of the things ZTE had planned to show during MWC 2020 is a more 'Capable', 'Compact' and 'Faster' 5G RAN Product Portfolio for the Networks of the Future. While we missed out on that, here is once such product called 'Unisite+'

Pic source: Mobile World Live

ZTE describes this as:

Driven by the idea of maximizing RATs, bands and capacity with as few devices as possible, ZTE has launched UniSite+, the upgraded version of its UniSite solution. The A + P design enables replacing all the antennas and adding a new 5G AAU all by just one single radio unit. The active part of the solution offers flexible options between 64TR and 32TR over N78, N41, and N79 bands, and the passive part offers 14 ports and supports all sub-3GHz frequency bands. 

The solution employs two tri-band UBR (Ultra Broadband Radio) products, the industry’s first 1.8G+2.1G+2.6G product, and the 700M+800M+900M with the industry’s largest capacity and smallest form factor. 

By deploying the UniSite+ solution, the operators can easily realize "1 + 2 = 7," the concept of using one antenna and two radio units to support 7-band all-RAT deployment. Therefore, it is the simplest site solution in the industry which reduces the number of required devices by more than 70%.

In addition to radio simplification, the latest baseband technology is also now at another superb level. ZTE has launched the industry's first all-RAT baseband board, which supports 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G in one board to facilitate “site-intervention-free” for 5G evolution.

While the radio sites get greatly simplified, ZTE has also reduced the power consumption of the equipment by 30% with new-generation chipsets and high-efficiency power amplifiers. 

To meet the requirements of 5G transmission, the UniSite+ solution also includes the latest microwave products with a transmission capacity up to 25 Gbps and improved latency performance. In addition, the solution can work with the ordinary frequency band microwave of a 3rd-party solution to form a Multiband group, thereby providing the best MPLS/SDN network upgrade solution to maximize the return on investment of operators.

Here are couple of videos in the playlist, one recent one about Unisite+ and the other is about Unisite from last year that provides background to this.



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Friday, 12 June 2020

IOWN - Innovative Optical and Wireless Network

If you are not watching the optical networking space, chances are you have not heard of this Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) initiative which was proposed by NTT and is now being standardised by IOWN Global Forum.


NTT Technical Review published a detailed article on this topic earlier this year. The following is from the article:

To create an affluent and diverse society, NTT has proposed the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network (IOWN) concept, which is a new communication infrastructure that can provide high-speed broadband communication and enormous computing resources by using innovative technologies including optical technologies. NTT also believes that these innovative technologies can optimize society as a whole and individuals using all types of information. IOWN uses three elements, All-Photonics Network, Digital Twin Computing, and Cognitive Foundation® to create a smart world, as shown below (Fig. 3).

  • Dramatic reduction in power consumption and broadening of communication bandwidth can provide enormous processing capacity for the explosive increase in computational complexity.
  • By increasing the capacity and reducing the delay of communications, it is possible to share in real time huge amounts of information collected from various sensors, exceeding the five senses.
  • Dedicated use of optical wavelengths provides a high level of confidentiality and stability and can be used for mission-critical services.
  • Multi-orchestration capabilities for centralized management of various resources, enabling resource utilization across industrial and regional domains
  • The creation of a cyberspace that replicates and expands the real world by combining various digital twins and human models


All-Photonics Network

As the number of people and things connected to a network increase, advanced, complex, and large-scale information processing such as for AI will require a vast amount of power consumption. To reduce such power consumption and meet mission critical service requirements, NTT applies photonics technologies to end-to-end environments for achieving ultra-low-power consumption, large-capacity, and low-delay networks. For example, NTT aims to increase power efficiency 100 fold by developing transmission devices that control optical wavelengths and photonics-electronics convergence devices. NTT also aims to expand transmission capacity 125 fold by increasing multiplexing in optical fibers and expanding multicores in a fiber (Fig. 4).



Digital Twin Computing

A digital twin is an image of real-world objects, such as production machines, aircraft engines, and automobiles in factories, by mapping their shapes, conditions, and functions into cyberspace and expressing them accurately. Using digital twins enables us to analyze the current situation, predict the future, and simulate objects in cyberspace.

Digital Twin Computing is a new computing paradigm that makes it possible to reproduce and simulate the interaction between things and people freely in cyberspace by conducting computations such as exchange, fusion, duplication, and synthesis for many digital twins representing the real world.

Cognitive Foundation®

To achieve low-power-consumption, high-capacity, high-quality communication networks and large-scale interactions between people and objects, it is necessary to select and use various resources appropriately. The Cognitive Foundation is an infrastructure that provides a set of functions necessary to build and operate services by using various methods of collecting, processing, storing, and communicating data scattered throughout various locations.


NTT recently released Technology Report for Smart World 2020 which introduces 11 technologies that they think are crucial to thinking about the changing world ahead. According to them, these technologies are the focus of their own research and development efforts, and are also being vigorously pursued around the world. Some of these technologies are key components of IOWN, while others can be expected to see wide adoption as a result of IOWN according to the report.

Back in April, IOWN GF unveiled its Vision 2030 White Paper. With artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented realities, 5G, dynamic computing scaling, blockchain and other advanced technologies on the verge of becoming part of the daily lives for billions of people, IOWN GF’s Vision 2030 is to define and build a global communications infrastructure over the next decade capable of sustainably maximizing the benefits these new technologies offer society and businesses. The hope is to create a smarter world where technology is used more naturally and becomes more pervasive for all. Download the Innovative Optical and Wireless Network Global Forum Vision 2030 and Technical Directions White Paper here.



Finally, the videos will provide a much clearer idea about the vision of IOWN. As always, feel free to provide your insights in the comments below.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

NEC's 5G Antenna-equipped Smart Street Lighting to be Trialled in Tokyo

Smart poles and lamp posts are popular topic in this blog. You will find links of many examples at the bottom of this post. NEC has a Smart Street Lighting solution that is designed with smart cities in mind. You can read more about it here.

In a recent press release, it announced

Sumitomo Corporation has concluded an agreement with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government on the preliminary/trial installation and verification of smart poles being carried out by the government. Together with NEC Corporation, Sumitomo Corporation intends to install two types of smart poles in the Nishi-shinjuku area of Tokyo by the end of June 2020.

In its "TOKYO Data Highway Basic Strategy" formulated in August 2019, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government calls for constructing an ultra-high-speed mobile Internet network in Tokyo. As part of that effort, the government is looking to install smart poles at an early date in the Nishi-shinjuku area, a priority improvement zone. Smart poles are multi-functional poles equipped with communication base stations, Wi-Fi, street lighting, signage, etc., and they are expected to serve as infrastructure useful for the provision of new community services.


In partnering with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Sumitomo Corporation and NEC will be installing two types of smart poles in the Nishi-shinjuku area by the end of June 2020 to verify their utility under both ordinary and emergency circumstances. More specifically, the two companies plan to install two models of NEC's "Smart Street Lighting" equipped with functions such as digital signage and pedestrian traffic flow analysis cameras; one model will be outfitted with a 5G shared antenna system for joint use by multiple telecommunications carriers, while the other, a site-sharing model, will be equipped with 5G base stations for multiple telecommunications carriers. With the aim of bringing 5G shared antenna systems into full-scale use by March 2021, efforts will be made to extend these systems across the entire metropolis and to help develop services for Tokyo residents/visitors through the construction of efficient infrastructure by accumulating knowledge on the installation and operation of smart poles.

Sumitomo Corporation is engaged in a variety of information and telecommunications endeavors, being involved with the cable television business in Japan and investing in telecommunications and telecommunication tower businesses overseas. In the 5G sector, it has taken part in 5G base station sharing verification projects alongside Tokyu Corporation, Osaka Metro Co., Ltd., and Tokyo's Minato Ward. In addition to advancing the "TOKYO Data Highway Basic Strategy" through this latest agreement, Sumitomo Corporation will in the future be collaborating with companies, local governments and others to create 5G-related businesses.

NEC has positioned the public safety business as an engine for its global growth, and this verification project will accelerate and enhance the development of solutions and services to realize "NEC Safer Cities", while helping to create safer and more secure streets.

A concept video explaining how NEC's Smart Street Lighting will be used in future cities as follows:




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