Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Award Winning Ericsson Radio Dot Provides 5G Coverage on China Subway

It's been over 2 years since we last talked about the Ericsson's 5G Radio Dot. Earlier this year, Radio Dot 4475 scooped a Red Dot Design Award for the product’s high design quality.


In a press release earlier this month, Ericsson announced:

Commuters and travelers on Shenyang’s subway Line 9 can access China Mobile 5G connectivity across all 22 stations on the line, powered by the Ericsson 5G Radio Dot. The 5G network has been operational for several months.

More than 900,000 passengers use the subway system in Shenyang, north east China, every day. The Ericsson 5G Radio Dot deployment on Line 9 is helping China Mobile to meet the increasing data needs from its customers - particularly in high-quality uninterrupted video and streaming traffic - in subway stations as passengers wait for, or change, traveling connections.

The Ericsson 5G Radio Dot System on Line 9 operates on various China Mobile frequencies. It provides a stable downlink of 1Gbps and a maximum transmission rate of up to 1.4Gbps. A 1GB high-definition movie could therefore be downloaded within 10 seconds.

The compact and easily deployable nature of the solution meant that Ericsson was able to install more than 500 5G Radio Dots across the 22 stations in just 20 days - 40 days ahead of schedule.

Ericsson and China Mobile continue to work in partnership on subway 5G connectivity in Shenyang as part of the city’s digitalization ambitions.

Back in July, Vodafone was showcasing Standalone 5G. One of the components if this network was the 5G Radio Dot.

To support the university’s 5G ambitions further, Vodafone has also installed Ericsson’s 5G Radio Dot System in the university’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab and National Transport Design Centre. The indoor technology will deliver fast, high-capacity 5G in key buildings to support its innovative teaching and learning.

Last year, Ericsson and Elisa piloted private networks in Finland at Elisa’s facilities in the first of half of 2019 using a prepackaged Ericsson Private Network solution that included Ericsson Enterprise Core, Router 6000 and Radio Dot System for indoor coverage. 

Again last year, Ericsson and Swisscom deployed the 5G Radio Dots in the Swiss service provider’s live 5G commercial network and simultaneously made the first 5G data call in Europe between two offices over the 5G Radio Dot System during a Joint Mobile Day event in Bern, Switzerland. The call, made on July 1 2019 between Ericsson’s office in central Bern and Swisscom’s office in the nearby town of Liebefeld, was a tech milestone for the Swiss service provider’s 5G network rollout since it became the first in Europe to switch on a commercial 5G network – fully powered by Ericsson – in April 2019.

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Tuesday, 15 September 2020

BrightSites Smart poles for Smart Cities

There is no shortage of posts on this blog looking at small cells and other infrastructure on lamp posts and smart poles. Here is another one from Signify, the new company name of Philips Lighting.


The BrightSites website boldly proclaims:

BrightSites smart poles by Signify turbocharge cities’ infrastructure

The digital transformation of public spaces is accelerating rapidly. Yet most components of a city’s digital backbone are insufficient to meet the modern connectivity needs of today and tomorrow. The BrightSites smart poles from Signify, offer an all-in-one solution – providing a broadband connectivity, 4G/5G and WiFi infrastructure, as well as platform for number of IoT applications. And all this, while maintaining the aesthetics of the urban environment.

Elegant and multi-functional design: BrightSites offer an elegant and aesthetically pleasing multi-functional smart poles, making it a matching addition to your cityscape. BrightSites poles are available in various heights, colors, styles, enabling integration into any streetscape with optimal visual impact. 

Easy deployment and scalability: Mobile operators can deploy dozens or hundreds of cell sites quickly and easily, making it possible to densify network capacity and coverage with a minimal disruption.

Digital pathway: Signify BrightSites is the digital pathway of the modern city. Using the ubiquity of a city's existing street lighting infrastructure, BrightSites poles deliver 4G/5G, Wi-Fi, LoRa, Sigfox, fiber hubs, and a possibility to accommodate wide range of IoT applications.

Energy Efficiency: Philips LED lighting provides a cost-effective, low-maintenance alternative to traditional street lighting – an important consideration for cities.

Our smart poles are highly suitable for dense urban areas, historic or transit centers, corporate and college campuses and any other areas with coverage- or capacity-challenged environments.

The Signify website has variety of solutions showing different models. We already looked at a very early evolution of this in the post here as we looked at the H-series Slim pole here.


BrightSites H-Series Slim Pole
  • integrated broadband connectivity, up to 4 radio units and 2 basebands from various vendors
  • a wide variety of digital technologies and IoT capabilities (Wi-Fi, cameras, and sensors)
  • Suitable for urban areas in historic or contemporary styles
  • wide range of customization for lighting requirements
  • transforms  streetlight into assets

Back in 2019, Signify had already announced that BrightSites smart poles have already been installed in San Jose, US and Hospitalet, Spain. Surely they have been installed in a lot more places by now. 

Finally, here is a video explaining the need for smart poles.



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Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Loon Overview and Advancements

We have written about Alphabet's Loon many times on our blogs. While we agree that the business case for the technology is poor, it has nevertheless the potential to bring connectivity quickly to areas of need. Links to the different blog posts are at the bottom of this post.


The video below was posted by Loon on their YouTube channel



While there is no shortage on tutorials explaining how Loon works, here is an older video looking at the Loon infrastructure



The only real challenge left is how to control the trajectory when there is a hurricane or very windy situation as can be seen in this Tweet below



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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

5G Small Cells Definition

In our basic introduction on Small Cells and Macrocells, we discussed that the small cells definition can sometimes be fuzzy. Having said that, it was still easy to define the small cell based on the topology. With 5G, as there are quite a few different splits, you can have Integrated as well as disaggregated small cell. To simplify the confusion around this, Small Cell Forum (SCF) unveiled 5G Small Cell Architecture and Product Definitions.


Document 238.10.01 available here provides the necessary details. The contents of the report include:

  • Definition of 5G Small Cells and Small Cell Networks
  • 5G Small Cell Deployment Scenarios
  • Small Cell Network Architecture and Product Types
  • Small Cell Power Considerations
  • 5G-Small Cell Product Definitions
    • Integrated Small Cell Configurations (Survey Results)
    • Radio Unit (RU) for Disaggregated Networks (Survey Results)
    • Distributed Unit (DU) for Disaggregated Networks (Survey Results)
    • Analysis and Discussion of Configuration Results
  • Conclusions 

The article here states:

Why do we need definitions to inform the design of 5G small cells?  Well, in the 5G era, small cells will be deployed in a far wider range of scenarios than in the past, and the form factors and architectures will be extremely varied.

The introduction of virtualized, disaggregated networks means that some small cells will consist of two or three elements, while others will still be all-in-one. Some form factors will be classed as ‘mini-macros’, which can be deployed unobtrusively on street furniture but have performance and power levels close to those of larger base stations. Others will be so tiny they can be embedded into pavements or consumer electronics.

And we shouldn’t be focused on form before function. Are we talking about outdoor or indoor small cells? Are they to service airports or factories?

It is clear, then, that old definitions are now inadequate, and there are real and present dangers of the industry fragmenting between hundreds of different designs that had insufficient common features to achieve any scale.

This is a major piece of work to provide a consensus view and concise definition of the types of 5G small cells and the key characteristics of the different types of commercially viable 5G small cell RAN products over the next five years. It is supported by a major survey of operators, other small cell deployers, and supply chain members.



The official press release says:

As small cell use cases diversify, 5G Small cell architecture and product definitions highlights the need for clear understanding of the requirements for each of the range of options that will be needed. The risk of diversity is fragmentation, so deployers and vendors will benefit from having clear baseline definitions of the technical specifications, power and spectrum choices, and key interfaces, for any given architecture in any given environment. That will enable the industry to innovate within common, agreed design frameworks, supporting diversity while also maintaining scalability and interoperability.

The first such study of its kind, the report provides an informed view of the most important configurations and specifications for companies deploying small cells between now and 2025. It aims to provide a consensus view and concise definition of the types of 5G small cells being rolled out now and in the near future. It also includes definitions of the key characteristics of the different types of commercially viable 5G small cell RAN products that will be available over the next five years, including 3GPP and O-RAN Alliance 5G disaggregated open RAN specifications – work that covers macrocells, but also includes microcells and picocells.

This study also provides a uniquely detailed analysis of the capabilities that small cells will need to support in any combination of architecture and deployment environment. It makes it clear that in the 5G era, no single design or specification can meet every requirement across all the scenarios. Instead, it will be important to optimize small cell designs and specifications for each environment, to encourage adoption and drive new usage, especially in the enterprise, industrial and campus settings where many new use cases for dense cellular connectivity are emerging.

Some key conclusions are:

  • Split 6 and 7.x are the most popular among those currently planning disaggregated small cell deployments, as well as dual-split architectures including Split 2. Split 8 is also known to be popular in China for indoor enterprise deployments.
  • Split 7.2 O-RU based solutions are predominantly planned for outdoor campus, urban and private networks, whereas split 6 S-RU based solutions are for indoor enterprise.
  • Remote integrated and RU small cell products are limited by power consumption, environmental conditions, maximum output power and volume. gNodeB and RUs generally are passive-cooled, and powered by Ethernet (PoE), fiber (PoF) or powerline.
  • 2 and 4-layer MIMO is most popular in smaller deployments although 8-layer MIMO may be required in some larger enterprise campus, urban and private deployments, and potentially longer term.

“In the early days, small cells looked fairly similar, regardless of the environment in which they would be deployed, and were easily distinguishable in size, weight and power output from other mobile equipment. In the 5G era, small cells will be deployed in a far wider range of scenarios, and form factors and architectures will be extremely varied,” said Prabhakar Chitrapu, Chair of Small Cell Forum. “The form factor, power, size, interfaces and specification will vary according to the use case and deployment scenario, and with the introduction of virtualized, disaggregated networks, some small cells will consist of two or three elements, while others will still be all-in-one. It is clear that old definitions are now inadequate, and there are clear and present dangers of the industry fragmenting between hundreds of different designs with insufficient common features to achieve any scale.”

Many of the challenges in the deployment of small cell networks to date have been rooted in regulators and legislators having to certify individual items in an increasingly fragmented market. This report will be valuable for the whole ecosystem: for vendors and components makers looking to prioritize their development efforts on areas of highest demand; for operators and neutral hosts, to help as they make their architecture choices; and for external stakeholders such as regulators and legislators, to expedite site selection, certification and deployment.

"Small cells, or femtocells as they were previously known, have played an increasingly important role in wireless networks since their introduction more than a decade ago. One would have thought that a small cell is well defined; however, it has taken significant effort to work out what a 5G small cell is,” remarked Vicky Messer, Director, Product Management at Picocom. “It has been a great pleasure working with industry colleagues over the past few months on this SCF 5G small cell architecture and product definitions paper. As a result, we now feel we have a definitive answer.”

The baseline small cell product configurations detailed in the report are essential to inform hardware component design and reference architectures, and crucially, are based on an SCF consensus which, in turn, represents inputs from a wide range of operators, vendors, component makers and other stakeholders.

This set of configurations is not prescriptive, and it takes account of work done by other organizations. In this way, the report will help drive the increased ecosystem diversity and lower-cost small cell solutions demanded by the industry and, most importantly, its customers.

Small Cell Forum’s work on common interfaces, at system-on-chip level (FAPI and 5G FAPI) and system level (nFAPI) is the best-established effort to define a common framework within which many designs and many suppliers can innovate and interwork. The survey of operators and other stakeholders, conducted for this report to understand key design requirements, highlighted strong support for these interfaces and SCF’s Split 6 architecture.


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Monday, 24 August 2020

Leveraging Streetlights for the Digital Future

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you will know we love lamp posts, street lights and poles. There are quite a few posts whose references you can find at the end of this post.


The mmWave Networks group at Telecom Infra Project (TIP) have recently released a new whitepaper, Leveraging Streetlights for the Digital Future. Street fixtures like lamp posts, light poles, traffic signals and other vertically-oriented assets that provide line of sight to targeted facilities and residential areas were identified as having a huge potential for rapid deployment of high speed future broadband networks (including 5G) in the TIP Playbook for Smart Cities.


This new whitepaper looks at "Deployment of high capacity urban mobile networks and smart city applications converges on assets in the public space, such as streetlights. This study and analysis deepens the understanding of the obstacles to deploying on streetlights today and points to possible pathways to accessing such assets to enable fast and flexible deployments"


Quoting from the whitepaper:

In a Digital Networks Working Group handbook by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Germany), streetlighting infrastructure has been identified as being very suitable in comparison to other street fixtures.

Deutsche Telekom initiated a study to explore such fixtures and possible pathways to accessing them. Before tackling any challenges, we wanted to understand what the "landscape of the players' ecosystem" looks like, what drives it, what slows it down or stops it from moving, how it works today, and what may need to change.

We did this specifically for our German home market, but feel confident that the study results can serve as pointers for the challenges and opportunities this asset poses for many other markets. We also believe the political and legal challenges will be very similar for similar assets apart from streetlights.

The study set out to describe the rules and regulations of public administration, public economy, and public law to which this infrastructure is subject, as well as to identify challenges, opportunities, and potential for its future design.

We chose a design thinking approach because we need to understand the players and stakeholders who control this infrastructure. And we wanted to undertake this before assessing what can and should be done with these potential assets to enable comprehensive broadband coverage and smart city development.

The whitepaper is available here.

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Monday, 17 August 2020

Commscope's 4G / 5G Outdoor Small Cell Solutions


Commscope are well known for their small cells deployment solutions. Their small cell densification page contains a lot of different implementations, some of which have been compiled in the image above.

CommScope provides virtually everything needed to deploy outdoor small cells—from base station antennas, RF transmission systems and fiber to poles, concealment solutions and more. The Professional Services team can help with network designs, construction plans, and permitting.

In addition, Commscope offers a wide range of concealment options that integrate advanced technology into aesthetic packages to complement urban streetscapes and meet permitting requirements. The small cell site concealment solutions are designed to meet both thermal and aesthetic requirements across multiple types of radios and environments.

This 4G/5G Outdoor Small Cell Solutions Brochure provides more details while the Metro Cell Concealment Solutions video shows the solution.




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Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Facebook's Fiber Deploying Robot

Facebook Connectivity, in collaboration with a number of partners, has spent the last few years developing an aerial fiber deployment solution that uses a robot designed to safely deploy a specialized fiber-optic cable on medium-voltage (MV) power lines. An article on Facebook Engineering page provides more details:


Each robot will be capable of installing over a kilometer of fiber and passing the dozens of intervening obstacles autonomously in approximately an hour and a half. To account for the human interaction steps such as setup, loading and unloading the robot, installing transitions, etc., we have been conservatively estimating an overall build speed of 1.5 km to 2 km per robot per day on average.

While traditional aerial fiber deployment involves heavy machinery, reel carts, large spools and large crew sizes, a fiber deployment crew deploying our solution, will comprise two or three electric utility linemen and a pickup truck with a few kilometer spools of fiber, a robot, and a few accessories, allowing many crews to work in parallel. These accessories will include an apparatus, developed by our partners Quanta Services, that’s designed to allow the robot to be safely loaded and unloaded from the live line by the line staff. There is also a custom cable clamp, which can be used to periodically clamp the fiber to the power line using a hot stick, along with a specially designed splice case and phase to ground assembly. We expect the total cost, including labor, depreciation, and materials, to be between $2 and $3 USD per meter in developing countries.

By lowering the total cost of aerial fiber deployment, we expect that our system will have a significant impact on internet penetration, especially among the half of the world earning less than $5.50 USD per day. This is thanks to a subtle benefit of the enormous bandwidth of each fiber strand, which allows large capacity upgrades to be made via simple changes to the electronics on either end of the fiber. Illustrated in the chart below, with each small increase in cost, we get a large increase in capacity, resulting in the cost per bit falling over time. We believe this feature of fiber will help enable those even in lowest income brackets to be able to afford all the rich content the internet has to offer, helping to bridge the digital divide.

Here is a video from them:



The post on the website is far more detailed and is available here.

Interestingly AFL has a similar type of robot they have been using for a while to do similar kinds of deployments. Details available here and a video, back from 2013, below:



These innovations should definitely help connect more unconnected people in every part of the world soon.

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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