Friday 29 January 2021

Samsung Link Indoor Solutions

Late last year, Samsung launched the Full Suite of 5G Indoor Products aimed at improving 5G connectivity indoors. As we move to higher frequencies for 5G, especially mmWave, alternative solutions will definitely be required to provide higher data rates. 

As can be seen in the picture above, there are three different solutions for different scenarios. The brochure here and this website here provides details but I have highlighted the relevant information below:

Link Cell is a compact indoor small cell that offers robust, ubiquitous in-building 5G mmWave coverage to deliver the high bandwidth, low latency and fast throughput needs for these businesses and public venues. The indoor solution can connect a large number of indoor users to data applications where signals from the outside 5G mmWave networks are hard to reach, enhancing productivity and providing a premium business experience. For enterprises that require dedicated connectivity and additional security needs the Link Cell can also serve as the foundation for a 5G private network. By combining a private 5G Core with Link Cells, an enterprise can have a secure, ultra-reliable, high-speed, low-latency 5G network that can accelerate their automation and digitization efforts.

To meet indoor coverage demands, particularly where capacity expansion is required or anticipated in the near future, Samsung offers a 5G Active DAS (Distributed Antenna System) solution called the Link HubPro. This system is especially useful in large buildings with extensive IT infrastructure. The solution includes two main components: a Radio Hub and Indoor Radio, and supports more diverse spectrums including, low-band and mid-band. With this simple architecture, single Radio Hub will allow a mobile operator to connect multiple radios and making multiple radios work as a single cell to build wide 5G indoor coverage without interference. 

Samsung Link Hub acts as a radio to connecting passive antennas supporting both LTE and 5G. If a building already has an existing passive DAS system, service providers can easily upgrade their indoor network to provide 5G service and reuse legacy cabling to save both time and costs. The Link Hub will act as a bridge between the 5G baseband and antennas by converting data traffic to radio signals, and vice versa, making 5G data traffic possible. The Link Hub can be managed remotely by an operator’s network management system.

The video below explains the solution in detail:

Here is another video that explains the indoor small cell, Samsung Link Cell

As a final thing, it should be pointed out that Samsung’s Link Cell features the Qualcomm 5G RAN platform, which builds on the collaboration between Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Samsung. 

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Friday 22 January 2021

NTT Docomo's 5G Network is based on 'Open RAN' Principles

I have detailed many different details from NTT Docomo over the years as they are not just one of the few innovative operators but are also very happy to share lots of interesting details. Their RAN Infrastructure post was posted in November but already reached top 5 posts on this blog. 

In a recent interview with Telecom TV, Sadayuki Abeta, Vice President & General Manager of the Radio Access Network Development Department at NTT DOCOMO, talked about the Japanese operator’s experience with Open RAN deployments, starting with its multi-vendor 4G network and now with its 5G rollouts. His talk, embedded below, points out that even though they have not yet adopted vRAN, they consider their network to be Open RAN based on the open Interface principles. 

Back in September, Docomo had couple of announcements about the 5G Base Stations based on O-RAN specifications.

The first announcement was about Docomo and NEC announcing that they have expanded multi-vendor interoperability by interconnecting a new 5G base station baseband unit (5G-CU/DU), developed by NEC and Samsung Electronics and compliant with O-RAN Alliance specifications, with 5G base station remote radio units (5G-RUs) of other vendors on DOCOMO's commercial network.

Expanding multi-vendor interoperability based on O-RAN open interface specifications will enable the most appropriate base stations to be used depending on deployment scenarios and taking advantage of specific vendor and equipment characteristics. This will drive the rapid and flexible development of 5G service areas.

The new 5G base station baseband unit from NEC realizes multi-vendor interoperability and is the result of a partnership between NEC and Samsung. It is interoperable with all existing vendors' 5G base station remote units in DOCOMO's network owing to its adoption of O-RAN open fronthaul specifications; it is also compatible with all existing 4G base stations in DOCOMO's network thanks to its adoption of O-RAN open X2 specifications.

Multi-vendor interoperability using O-RAN open fronthaul specifications was also confirmed for NEC's macro-cell 5G-RU, which provides wide area coverage, and for NEC's fronthaul multiplexer (5G-FHM), which copies and combines the fronthaul signals to and from multiple 5G-RUs to form a single area; both are new 5G base station equipment offerings.

During their collaboration, DOCOMO selected the test items, executed the multi-vendor interoperability tests and analyzed the results; NEC and Samsung Electronics supplied the 5G base station equipment and analyzed the test results.

The second announcement was about DOCOMO, Fujitsu and NEC achieving what they believe to be the world's first carrier aggregation using 5G frequency bands in a multi-vendor radio access network (RAN) based on O-RAN specs.

Carrier aggregation was achieved using the 3.7GHz and 4.5GHz bands designated for 5G networks. In addition to this dual connectivity achieved by bundling LTE bands, downlink speeds of 4.2 Gbps will be achievable, enabling ultra-fast data transmission. DOCOMO already provides commercial 5G services in Japan through a multi-vendor RAN that connects baseband units and remote radio units manufactured by Fujitsu and NEC based on O-RAN's open fronthaul specifications. The same system configuration was used to achieve this 5G carrier aggregation.

Mr. Nozomu Watanabe, Senior Executive, NEC Corporation and Mr. Sadayuki Abeta, VP & GM, Radio Access Network Development Department, NTT DOCOMO explained their Open RAN vision and approach in a Telecom TV interview baback in November which is embedded below.

It's just a matter of time before we see more of these interoperability announcements, not just for 4G & 5G but also for 2G & 3G.

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Thursday 14 January 2021

ITU Releases 'The Last-Mile Internet Connectivity Solutions Guide'

Despite the meteoric growth of the Internet and broadband connectivity, 3.7 billion people remain offline and are excluded from the direct benefits of the global digital economy, says a new publication just released by the International Telecommunication Union, The Last-Mile Internet Connectivity Solutions Guide: Sustainable connectivity options for unconnected sites. The press release said:

While there are multiple constraints on Internet access and use, the Solutions Guide addresses those posed by gaps in infrastructure coverage and service affordability. The low return on investment in network deployment in sparsely populated areas means that, in many developing countries, connectivity is largely limited to urban areas, leaving rural and remote areas totally cut off. 

Moreover, even when telecommunication networks are present, access to the Internet may be limited by prohibitively high prices, and lower-income individuals and families may be priced out of connectivity. 

Offline populations are particularly concentrated in least developed countries (LDCs), where according to latest ITU data, only 19 per cent of individuals were online in 2019. Regionally, in Africa and Asia-Pacific, less than half the population is online: 29 and 45 per cent respectively.

Written from the perspective of localities and users in areas without Internet access, the Solutions Guide contains tools, service interventions and policy solutions that can help policy-makers to select and customize appropriate solutions to extend Internet access to their localities, taking into account their unique characteristics. 

The guide is divided into four main steps that outline the planning and policy development phases of interventions to encourage infrastructure  deployments:

  1. Identify digitally unconnected and underserved regions;
  2. Review options from existing solutions;
  3. Select sustainable solutions that best fit the given situation;
  4. Implement interventions to extend sustainable connectivity service. 

The guide draws on lessons learned by governments, service providers, technology vendors, international organizations, multilateral development banks, bilateral donors, academia and others over the past 30 years. It is intended to be a living, active guide that is continuously updated and revised. 

In addition to the Solutions Guide, ITU is developing a range of resources to help Member States address last-mile connectivity challenges, including a database of case studies and interactive last-mile connectivity diagnostic and decision-making tools. It also offers capacity-building services and assistance on design, planning and implementation, including identifying unconnected areas and providing expert guidance on the selection of sustainable technical, financial and regulatory solutions. 

The PDF is available here. You can find the database and other information here.

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Thursday 7 January 2021

TIP Announces Total Site Solution (TSS) for Ultra-Rural Network Deployments

Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and its members have developed a Total Site Solution (TSS), an optimized, lean site configuration specifically adapted to ultra-rural environments. TIP announced the solution back in December. A clear idea can be obtained from the excellent video accompanying the announcement as follows:

The press release says:

Deploying reliable and high-speed networks to ultra-rural communities has long been one of the greatest challenges for the telecoms industry. The combination of lower population densities, lack of existing infrastructure, and availability of local expertise means that expanding networks into these areas has traditionally not been economically viable, leaving significant areas of the world unconnected. To help catalyze the industry to find a solution to this challenge, the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and its members have developed the Total Site Solution (TSS), an optimized, lean site configuration specifically adapted to ultra-rural environments.

The solution which incorporates a range of essential elements, including low-power RAN equipment, off-grid energy solutions and satellite backhaul links, has been created by a diverse group of technology partners, including vendors and local system integrators, who have built, tested, and validated each of the necessary elements and their interoperability, as well as their ability to work with TIM Brasil’s core network.

The first TSS use case targets greenfield deployments to off-grid populations of less than 5,000 people, looking to address mid to low amounts of data consumption, through a “Town Center Model” for 4G coverage and supporting VoLTE for voice service.

For the use case, TIM Brasil created the technical and business use case requirements in a Pilot Program. Initial lab trials were then conducted at TIP’s Community Lab in North Los Angeles, California, in collaboration with vendors BaiCells (RAN); Morningstar (power systems); and Gilat (satellite backhaul links) to evaluate the interoperability of the elements. After the validation in the labs, local system integrator partners WLLCTEL and Zurich/Amerinode created cost-optimized site designs tailored for ultra-rural environments. Two test sites were subsequently built to prove the design and to simplify the construction process of the sites, after which TIM Brasil conducted a field trial to test the effectiveness of the solution in preparation for market trials and commercial deployments.

TSS has now gone through TIP’s Rural Site Configuration PlugFest which has expanded the initial configuration to include additional RAN (Airspan, Parallel Wireless, VNL) and VSAT backhaul equipment vendors (including ST Engineering iDirect), and validated them against a comprehensive test plan. These proven configurations are now listed on TIP Exchange and PlugFest, making them available to all members for further trials of TSS in other areas of the world.

Next steps for the TSS project include:

  1. Sharing ultra-rural TSS test plans, site installation runbook, and RSC PlugFest summary with TIP community (linked on TSS website)
  2. Working with additional partners globally to launch the proven ultra-rural TSS configuration into networks, bringing more unconnected people online
  3. Working with ecosystem partners across the NaaS Solution Group to apply the proven TSS incubator model to develop additional NaaS use-cases
  4. Market trial with TIM Brasil in the first half of 2021

The TSS sub-site has documents and additional details here.

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