Friday, 27 January 2023

Seoul Metro Wi-Fi Backhauled by Samsung's 5G mmWave Network Solution

In our earlier posts we talked about how Wi-Fi 6 is being promoted by South Korea's ministry and also how mmWave has not been very successful in Korea. Having said that, earlier last year, Samsung Electronics announced that it has signed contracts with all three South Korean operators to supply its 5G mmWave network solutions and boost connectivity for passengers on the Seoul subway system:

Over 3.6 million passengers use the Seoul subway daily across over 300 stations. With a population of 9.6 million, Seoul is one of the world’s most densely populated cities, with its subway serving as one of the major means of public transportation for the busy metropolitan area. The subway system is expansive, resembling a spider web network that connects Seoul and the surrounding areas, carrying over 30 percent of the city’s population.

While the Seoul subway system has already been providing stable 5G (3.5GHz), 4G and Wi-Fi services, mobile data demands in subways continue to rise exponentially as Korea’s monthly average 5G data consumption reaches approximately 25GB per person.

Later this year, Samsung’s 5G mmWave solutions will enable the subway’s Wi-Fi services to meet increasing data demands by leveraging mmWave’s wide bandwidth, extensive capacity and massive throughput. Subway passengers will be able to enjoy bandwidth-intensive applications such as high-speed, superior-quality streaming for live sports games, movies, mobile games and video communications. These will be delivered at Wi-Fi speeds up to ten times faster on average than currently provided.

In addition to transforming the daily mobile experience for subway users, Samsung’s advanced 5G mmWave solutions will drive a diversified range of use cases and business opportunities for new entrepreneurs, app development startups and consumers. Utilizing mmWave bandwidth can not only bring to life next-generation services such as the metaverse, cloud gaming and Extended Reality (XR) remote learning, but it can also be expanded beyond transportation to industries like retail, medicine, media and entertainment.

A key component of the Seoul subway commercial deployment is Samsung’s mmWave 5G radio solution, Compact Macro, which brings together a baseband unit, radio and antenna in a single form factor. Optimized for mmWave 5G, it uses in-house modems, radio frequency integrated circuits (RFICs) and digital analog front end (DAFE) ASICs.

Complete press release here. Embedded below is a short promo video on this

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Thursday, 12 January 2023

KDDI Plans to Improve Rural Connectivity in Japan using SpaceX's Starlink

Back in December 2022, KDDI announced that the first mobile tower in Japan to use Starlink has started commercial operation in Hatsushima, a remote island in Sagami Bay. The press release said:

Starting with this location, KDDI will expand its coverage to 1,200 remote towers in order to pursue its vision to bring an urban mobile experience to its rural customers.

Developed by SpaceX, Starlink provides high-speed, low-latency satellite broadband internet around the world. With satellites positioned in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 550 km, over 65 times closer than conventional geostationary satellites, Starlink achieves significantly lower latency and higher transmission speeds for its end users. Using Starlink to backhaul service from these remote stations complements KDDI's urban towers that utilize fiber for backhaul.

KDDI has been conducting technical demonstrations of Starlink including for use in mobile backhaul since 2021. In order to ensure sufficient quality for cellular service with voice and data, Starlink has met the company's network technical guidelines in latency, jitters and uplink/downlink bandwidths. KDDI has completed its evaluation of Starlink and confirmed the conformance in customer experience that could be comparable to that of optical fiber.

KDDI will also offer Starlink Business to enterprise and civil government customers this year. With Japan having more than 16,000 mountains and 6,000 islands, with Starlink KDDI is now able to bring a new dimension of connectivity to Japanese society.

The video of the launch ceremony is embedded below:

In addition to the image from KDDI press release, additional images from Twitter here and here.

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Wednesday, 28 December 2022

Top Blog Posts of 2022

With 2022 coming to an end, here are the top 10 most viewed posts from 2022. These posts were not necessarily posted this year, so I have added the month and year it was posted.

  1. Passive and Active Infrastructure Sharing, May 2020
  2. Open RAN (O-RAN) RRU (O-RU) and DU (O-DU) Design, Feb 2021
  3. Nokia's AirScale indoor Radio (ASiR) Small Cells, Jul 2020
  4. Vodafone Explains Mobile Phone Mast, May 2022
  5. Samsung and Ericsson Talks Massive MIMO, Feb 2021
  6. IOWN - Innovative Optical and Wireless Network, Jun 2020
  7. Huawei's Lampsite, Jul 2014
  8. 5G for Defence and Autonomous Military Solutions, Jan 2022
  9. Huawei MetaAAU Promises Improvement in 5G Network Performance and Energy Efficiency, Nov 2021
  10. Ericsson Radio Dot: Evolution and Technical information, Sep 2017
If you are a regular reader of this blog, do let us know of your favourite posts.

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Wednesday, 21 December 2022

Details on India's First Neutral Shared RAN Solution

Back in August, RailTel and CloudExtel partnered to launch India's first Shared RAN solution for congested locations with the objective to enhance the telecom user experience. A press release said:

RailTel and CloudExtel carried out the successful pilot of this project in partnership with Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Nokia, and the Telecom Infra Project's NaaS Solutions Group, with vital support from the Railways, in one of the most network stressed locations, Mumbai Central railway station. The outcomes have been impressive with 5 times increase in average user speed (from 3Mbps to 15Mbps) for both Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, while the data consumption jumped up by 20%.

At Telecom Infra Project's Fyuz 2022 conference, Kunal Bajaj, CEO & Co-Founder, CloudExtel provided details on this in a breakout session dedicated to Neutral Host Network-as-a-service (NaaS) business model. His part of talk is embedded below and you can also check out his presentation from the main stage here

In an interview with Economic Times earlier this year, Kunal pointed out:

How many small cell sites are there in the country at present?

Small cells are not just for 5G rollout. There is a substantial 4G component of it today. As per industry standards, there are over about 30,000 odd small cell sites that have already been rolled out. Of that, about one-third to one-half of those sites have been rolled out by Reliance Jio. The balance have been rolled out by Airtel and Vodafone, and of that we have the largest market share. We have done over 4,000 sites for these two telcos, and there are all primarily 4G sites.

What’s the demand like for 4G small cells?

Even in the 4G space, month on month, year on year, data consumption has continued to grow pretty substantially. We are at 19 gigs per user, per month today, and if I remember correctly, we were at 12 gigs just a year ago, and much lower than that before. And this is all coming from 4G. 5G is not there yet, and what that really demonstrates is the reliance that users have on wireless connectivity. We have don’t much fixed line infrastructure today in India to really speak of. 25 million fixed line broadband users is nothing compared to the over 500 million 4G subscriptions. This growth in 4G data densification, even with 5G auctions coming up, will continue for the next two years.

Going forward, will these 4G sites be converted to 5G, or that will be part of a separate infrastructure?

If you see what has happened historically, when we went from 2G to 3G, and more relevantly, when we went to 3G to 4G, the 4G sites came up wherever you have very high capacity usage on 3G. 3G was not taken away, but those sites were upgraded to dual technology, by upgrading the equipment and adding an additional 4G radio to bring up 4G traffic from those sites. And I think that’s exactly what we are going to see in the 5G environment. The good thing is a lot of telecom operators learned from the 3G to 4G transition, and started investing very early in hardware that would be upgradeable to 5G.

Obviously the radio band is different, and there’s nothing really you can do in software to make the same radio to radiate multiple bands. So there will be investment. That happens in radio ugprades, but the core base station technology, the back haul, switches and things like that, a lot of that is now software upgradeable, and therefore it is going to be hopefully a much easier transition from 4G to 5G.

So what’s your projection of the number of small cells that will come up with the 5G rollout from August?

Some of the industry projections that we see from a lot of analysts and consulting companies is that India needs somewhere around 2,50000 small cell sites in the next five years across all three of the major operators. What that basically means is over 5-6 lakh unique small cells to be deployed. So that’s a tremendous amount of growth that we are going to see. The first one or two years from now is primarily going to be 4G, but then after that, the huge acceleration, the hockey stick curve is going to come from 5G deployment.

What is the kind of investments you are looking at in the next five years to cater to this demand?

We are talking of hundred of crores, just for us. We are looking at our base growing from 4000 small cells to 40000 small cell sites in the next five years. That’s a conservative projection, obviously, we believe and hope that we can do a lot more than that, but that will require well over 400-500 crores for us to really pull that off, and that’s where the opportunity to scale and build a substantial network. Today, when you compare us to the mainline tower companies, we are still a startup and in the beginning of our first innings, so we have a long way to go.

There certainly is a bright future for Neutral Host Network-as-a-service (NaaS), especially in country like India, with a large population of young people.

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Monday, 28 November 2022

NTT Docomo Expands Open vRAN Options in its 5G OREC

We have done quite a few blog posts on NTT Docomo on our blogs (see related posts at the bottom) as they always share a lot of latest useful and relevant information. In a blog post last year, we talked about their 5G Open RAN Ecosystem (OREC). 

Back in September, NTT Docomo announced that it will be adding a fourth type of flexible and highly scalable virtualized base station (vRAN) to its verification environment for Open RAN that will allow equipment and components of various vendors to integrate via standardized specifications. The press release said:

The new virtualized base station will combine NEC Corporation's open virtualized RAN software, Red Hat Openshift, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.'s inline accelerator cards and Hewlett Packard Enterprise's servers. This will be DOCOMO's first time to use the Qualcomm® X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card and the HPE ProLiant DL110 Telco server, the latter optimized specifically for Open RAN workloads to improve system performance and power efficiency.

Since February, DOCOMO has been providing global carriers with access to its Shared Open Lab environment to allow them to mix and match the equipment and components of various vendors in order to verify performance with virtualized base stations. In addition to three types of virtualized base station equipment/system configurations that carriers have been accessing so far, the new configuration will become available for verification in the Shared Open Lab starting in 2023.

As the increasing global availability of 5G continues to raise interest in Open RAN, DOCOMO has been a leader in helping telecoms worldwide to prepare to introduce this highly versatile new technology. In February 2021, DOCOMO was joined by 12 global equipment vendors in establishing the 5G Open RAN Ecosystem (OREC) to promote Open RAN, which supported the development of the virtualized base station being announced today.

DOCOMO and its OREC partners plan to continue adding new equipment/system combinations before and after commercializing virtualized base stations, which is expected within the current fiscal year ending in March 2023.

Through the promotion of Open RAN, DOCOMO looks forward to continuing to enhance the efficiency and flexibility mobile communication networks around the world.

In fact their OREC page has this and a lot more details here.

At Telecom Infra Project's Fyuz 22 conference, NTT Docomo and other operators shared their vision, progress and approach to Open RAN. You can watch the panel discussion here.

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Saturday, 22 October 2022

The Role of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) in Making Sure Internet Works

Ever wondered how Internet works? Surely you did but did you actually figure out? Most often, people just understand it roughly how it works but sometimes details could be handy.

Plum consulting recently published a detailed study titled, "How the Internet works (and is paid for)".  It is quite a detailed study and is divided into three parts:

  • The first part explores how data and content move around the Internet, and how it is coordinated and governed;
  • The second part focuses on the economics of the Internet and how the delivery of content is paid for;
  • The third part provides cases studies of the economics of the Internet in five APAC countries: South Korea, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore.

There is also a concise summary if that helps. 

A recent article on Ookla titled "5 Critical Services that Keep the Internet Up and Running" described how the internet works and what causes an Outage. The article explains the role of Content delivery networks (CDNs), Domain Name System (DNS), Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), Services and their Application Programming Interfaces (API) and finally Downdetector.

BGP is an important service which has been in the news regularly after some major outage. Last year when Facebook disappeared from the Internet, BGP was responsible. Facebook (Meta) Engineering published a detailed post explaining it here. Cloudflare also looked at this Facebook BGP issue here and have a simple explanation about what BGP is:

Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) is the postal service of the Internet. When someone drops a letter into a mailbox, the Postal Service processes that piece of mail and chooses a fast, efficient route to deliver that letter to its recipient. Similarly, when someone submits data via the Internet, BGP is responsible for looking at all of the available paths that data could travel and picking the best route, which usually means hopping between autonomous systems.

BGP is the protocol that makes the Internet work by enabling data routing. When a user in Singapore loads a website with origin servers in Argentina, BGP is the protocol that enables that communication to happen quickly and efficiently.

This video below is also a good simple explanation

BGP can be a serious issue when Internet is hijacked, hence even the regulators are looking at it to ensure there is no country wide Internet failure. An example from Swedish Post and Telecommunications Board (PTS) here.

Similarly, UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has published a Technical report on "Responsible use of the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) for ISP interworking", which explains best practices for the use of this fundamental data routing protocol.

With all these ongoing conflicts and politics in the play, it is important for the Service Providers and Mobile Operators to ensure there is no failure because of lack of understanding of the fundamentals.

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Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Disaggregated Networking for 5G - What is Needed to Make it Work?

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

The Disaggregated Cell Site Gateways (DCSG) within OOPT works on the definition of open and disaggregated whitebox cell site gateway devices that operators can deploy in their current 2G/3G/4G cell sites, as well as in the upcoming 5G deployments. The team produces technical specifications that define software, hardware and API requirements that represent the needs of mobile network operators and also works with industry partners to develop devices that meet the specifications.

At TIP Summit Latam in 2021, Ulrich Kohn, Director, Solutions Marketing, ADVA presented a talk on Disaggregated Networking for 5G where he looked at disaggregating high-end routers, DCSG, strategies of making white boxes timing aware and finally, disaggregated synchronization solutions.

His talk is embedded below.

You can check out ADVA's portfolio of TIP products here.

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Monday, 12 September 2022

Construction of a Self-Supporting Tower (SST)

Inside Towers shared a video of SST (self-supporting tower) construction on YouTube. According to the article, invited to observe the installation of the last three preassembled sections of a very new, very big SST. Article here and the video as follows:

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Friday, 26 August 2022

Rakuten Mobile and TEPCO Power Grid establish 'Rakuten Mobile Infra Solution'

Back in 2019, I wrote about how TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany) Power Grid was trying to utilize their utility poles and other electric power infrastructure for mobile network infrastructure sharing. They managed to get KDDI, Softbank and Rakuten Mobile onboard with their approach. 

Japan is vying to be a global leader in 5G and that has been one of the main drivers to encourage active and passive mobile network sharing. We covered some of these in the blog post here.

In their annual report for last year, TEPCO said: 

We shall coordinate with other operators and leverage the assets of TEPCO Power Grid to provide support for the efficient installation of base stations and eliminate landscape issues by clustering facilities together. We aim to further improve convenience in your daily lives by building infrastructure that meets diverse needs.

Our base station sharing service will integrate location, fiberoptics, and co-location services for configuring base stations. Sharing base stations with multiple companies will contribute to reducing the facility investment of communications operators.

In 2020, TEPCO also carried out trials with NTT Docomo and Rakuten Mobile where they deployed 5G smart poles and digital signage on their power distribution ground equipment. 

In the most recent announcement, Rakuten Mobile and TEPCO Power Grid announced the establishment of a new company for base station construction solutions. "Rakuten Mobile Infra Solution, Inc.," started business on 01 July 2022. The press release said:

Rakuten Mobile Infra Solution will further improve the efficiency of base station construction by effectively utilizing public assets to expand Rakuten Mobile's network, developing installation specifications for Rakuten Mobile's base station equipment and managing installation work. Through this work, the company aims to contribute to the provision of a stable communications environment.

In the construction of its network, Rakuten Mobile is already utilizing some power assets to enable rapid network construction. This has contributed to Rakuten Mobile achieving its target for 4G population coverage on its network about four years ahead of schedule. With the establishment of the new company, Rakuten Mobile will further expand its 4G and 5G coverage, increase the densification of its base stations and strengthen the development of communications infrastructure to provide a stable service. In addition, utilizing existing power assets will improve the cost efficiency of base station construction.

TEPCO PG is actively engaged in infrastructure sharing that utilizes electric power assets such as distribution ground equipment, and has been considering the possibility of new social contributions through its electric power assets. Through the establishment of this new company, TEPCO PG will contribute to the realization of a stable communications environment by supporting the efficient installation of base stations and reducing capital investment, through utilization of the assets, construction capabilities and know-how of the TEPCO PG Group.

We are looking forward to the companies sharing details about the operation in the future.

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Monday, 8 August 2022

Verizon's Growing Small Cells Footprint

Verizon was in news recently when their CTO, Ed Chan, mentioned that the operator had plans to speed up its small cell buildout starting in 2023. Light Reading quoted in an article:

His comments, made to financial analysts at Wells Fargo, come after the small cell market in the US took a breather during 2021 as big network operators focused on building out their new midband spectrum holdings via bigger, macro cell sites.

"Verizon anticipates small cells activity will ramp in 2023 as activity shifts toward 16t16r deployments from early 8t8r deployments built in 2022," wrote the Wells Fargo analysts of their recent meeting with Chan. Newer 5G radios can generally support more antennas, including 16T16R configurations.

"Chan also referenced that a third party had taken longer to grow scale and expertise to handle the installs Verizon had planned, but that it is reaching a point where a higher mix will trend toward third-party deployments from self deployments today," the analysts added.

Verizon officials did not respond to questions from Light Reading about Chan's meeting with Wells Fargo executives. The meeting is not listed among the operator's recent public investor events.

The small cell news could be important to equipment vendors, ranging from Airspan to Ericsson to CommScope. Jennifer Fritzsche, managing director at investment bank Greenhill & Company, wrote recently that Chan's comments could presage a resurgence in the US small cell market. She speculated that Verizon could turn to third-party small cell providers like Crown Castle and ExteNet Systems.

Small cells are big in the USA but the definition of it has become a bit fuzzy. In the old days it used to be an all-in-one unit but now anything that is deployed with an omnidirectional antenna or anything that is deployed on lamp posts or poles can be considered a small cell. 

Over the last few years we have looked at the small cells pics in the USA (see related posts at the bottom), so here are some of them from Verizon.

Quoting again from the Light Reading article:

Verizon is widely regarded as the leader in small cells in the US. The company has so far deployed 30,000 small cells sites for its millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G network.

"We continue to deploy millimeter wave, which is a key part of our network, providing massive bandwidth in dense urban areas," said Verizon's Rima Qureshi, the operator's chief strategy officer, during a recent Verizon investor event. But company officials haven't provided any specific goals for small cell buildout in 2023 and beyond.

T-Mobile has said that it eventually expects to operate around 40,000 to 50,000 small cells as it completes its big 5G network buildout, while AT&T at one point had planned to operate 40,000 small cells by 2015. But AT&T did not meet its goal, and company officials have remained quiet about small cells since.

Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile have all been working to deploy their midband 5G spectrum holdings, and that work has shifted their focus away from small cells. Macro cell towers can cover wide geographic areas, while small cells – which typically sit atop street lights and rooftops rather than large cell towers – are primarily viewed as a method to improve capacity rather than coverage.

Which one is your favourite? Let us know if you have more pictures.

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