Monday, 11 December 2017

How different is 5G from 4G?

The difference between 4G and 5G is smaller than other generations. There are new aspects to both core and radio interface, but whether you call them “evolutionary” or “a new generational” is hard to say But SDR & CR are fundamental techniques. They are independent of the radio interface or the numeral before the G.

The kind of technology in 5G is now tangible so it will soon be iniversal Same with cognitive radio, which is a bit of a buzzword without much content: phones used CR to chose GSM or GPRS, to adaptive adapt modulation density and femtocells used it for frequency planning many years ago.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Time to fix your DNS once and for all?

https://quad9.net/#/

9.9.9.9 is a safe haven for your DNS

Thinking VERY hard about the rollout of early 5G services

The likely repeal of net neutrality got many of us thinking about the rollout of early 5G services and how that might be affected by the ending of Title II rules, as such next-generation networks are a likely place where operators can start experimenting with brand new pricing structures and more.

At a high-level, 5G -- especially high-band millimeter wave 5G -- is going to exacerbate the digital divide. Initially, that's because it will be rolled out only in dense urban pockets and will likely never be deployed in rural areas. This is no surprise; the same was true of 4G and 3G before it. If the operators don't think they can make enough money off by deploying it, they probably won't. (See Islands in the Stream: Don't Expect Full mmWave 5G Coverage in US, Says Nokia and Nokia Bell Labs & Verizon Stretch Fixed 5G to the Home.)

Now, this might affect more than a rural user's access to a fast broadband connection. The low-latency 5G network is supposed to be a technology that underpins self-driving cars. So if you can't get 5G in your rural town, will connected cars actually be viable? Meanwhile, a rural business might find itself at a significant disadvantage if it can't take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) support coming in 2019's Phase II 5G specifications.

I'm sure that the deployment of low-band (>600MHz) 5G from the likes of T-Mobile US Inc. and beyond could help to alleviate some of those issues. Much wider area coverage with the lower bands, you see. But it's a solid bet that some rural areas in the US and Europe will find themselves at a disadvantage, possibly for years, maybe even forever.

Beyond that, new features in the 5G core architecture make segregating network access and services much easier than ever before. Network slicing has mostly been marketed as a way to provide low-latency localized services with a far lower data rate, for dedicated IoT sensors and so on. But that, of course, means that slices could be set up to offer, let's say, much higher data rates for -- oh, let us say -- streaming 4K and eventually 8K video services from specific providers.

So, you can see what I'm suggesting here, right? If net neutrality gets canned, I think we can assume that operators will start experimenting with different content packages at selective data rates and pricing schemes.

Now, forthcoming 5G is the nearest thing the US has to a greenfield market for wireless right now. The expectation is that 5G users will consume at least ten times the data they do currently on 4G. If operator executives know how they will price such services yet, they ain't saying. I've asked!
So, 5G seems like an ideal testing ground for the new rules of a post-net neutrality world.

So it is high time for us all to Buckle up!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Verizon plans testing of 5G in 2018

Verizon shared a few tidbits about what it’s learned from millimeter wave trials, which it has been studying in 11 markets across the country, and it’s looking better than originally expected when it comes to propagation and range.

Verizon Chief Network Officer, Nicola Palmer, noted that the operator has been conducting trials with nonpaying customers—but real people, nonetheless—in 11 markets, including Dallas.

The tests are using 28 GHz spectrum and 120+ nodes, she said during the opening keynote today here at the FierceWireless Next-Gen Wireless Networks Summit.  Each location offers a unique set of parameters and diversity, including diversity of suppliers, topology, geography, building/construction materials and demographics. There are places with lots of trees and others with a lot of cactus, all purposely chosen so that they could test in different environments. “What we’ve learned from these trials is simply invaluable,” she said. “We believe this makes up the largest 5G test bed” in the country and possibly the world.  

First, “millimeter wave propagates a little better than we thought,” in terms of line of sight as well as in terms of elevation, she said. For example, they assumed they could get to the 6th floor of an apartment or office building, but tests are showing they are able to get up as high as the 19th floor. They’re also seeing speeds in and above the 1 gigabit-per-second range beyond 2,000 feet. The industry had been expecting maybe around 500 or 600 feet or so, and “it doesn’t happen everywhere all the time, but we’ve seen good results in the 2,000 feet range,” she said. In addition, they’re getting better penetration through various wall materials; there’s been real innovative solutions emerging to get signals into homes, she said.

Low E glass has been a known issue, and some great plug-and-play solutions are being developed to overcome that problem. In terms of latency, “we’re under 10 milliseconds,” she said, and “we expect that to get lower." By comparison, LTE networks are getting 50 milliseconds or so. “This is only going to get better as we continue to optimize,” she said. Regarding density, propagation modeling and trial results are showing that the densest cities, with very little augmentation, can already provide good street-level coverage at 28 GHz on existing infrastructure. “This is a little different than we thought,” Palmer said, and it’s not perfect and it’s not everywhere, but in the cities where it has the density it aspires to, street-level coverage appears to be pretty good.

That’s good news considering how difficult it can be to get permits for deploying new gear in cities. Verizon plans to start testing 5G mobility in 2018. It did some initial 5G mobility testing at the Indy 500 in May, when a driver used augmented reality to drive around the track while the windshield was blacked out. The driver used the augmented reality video to “see” where to drive around the track.

“We are on track to launch a 5G broadband offering in 2018” in several cities, she said, reiterating plans to launch a fixed wireless broadband offering during the course of 2018. She also ticked off the many awards that Verizon has garnered, attesting to its pride in network quality, something competitors like T-Mobile have been agitating about. Palmer did not call out any competitors by name, but she noted that Verizon has achieved a number of industry milestones over the past months, including achieving 953 Mbps in a real-world environment in Boca Raton, Florida, where “we threw the kitchen sink at it, admittedly,” using 4x4 MIMO, LAA, 4 carrier aggregation and 256 QAM. RELATED: Verizon, Qualcomm, Ericsson hit 953 Mbps with commercial LAA system in Florida

The 27-year Verizon veteran also reiterated that 4G doesn’t go away; it lays the groundwork for 5G, and LTE will continue to be around for the foreseeable future. And she underscored how important it is to be partnering with others in the supply chain. Verizon announced in October that it was getting together with Qualcomm Technologies and Novatel Wireless to collaborate on 5G New Radio (NR) millimeter-wave technology development and over-the-air field trials based on the 5G NR Release 15 specifications being developed by 3GPP. The companies said they were going to initially focus on the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands and showcase how using advanced 5G NR technologies can achieve multigigabit-per-second data rates with mobility at significantly lower latencies than today’s networks.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

BT Heads to Bristol As It Weighs 5G Plans, Costs and competition strategy

Eager to figure out how a 5G network behaves in the "real world," what applications actually need a next-generation architecture, and how a 5G network might be managed, BT is teaming up with Nokia and the "Bristol Is Open" initiative for a two-day live trial in March 2018 that will involve up to 5,000 members of the public.

Bristol, a city in west England that is home to more than 450,000 people and countless innovative technology and media companies (such as Blu Wireless Technology, Venture Photonics, Zeetta Networks), has for some time been a live test bed for various transport network, wireless and IoT applications under the auspices of the Bristol Is Open initiative, with BT being one of countless R&D partners.

Now the UK operator is seeking to gain significant insights into the 5G world from the two-day experiment that will take place in Bristol city center. Pre-standards 5G, 4G, 3G and WiFi access networks will all be operational as multiple applications and services are tested over various spectrum bands (3.5GHz, 26-28GHz and 60-70GHz) using a variety of end user devices, including two pre-5G and still sizeable prototype devices (that will gain their mobility by being carted around on golf buggies, apparently). Li-Fi capabilities will also be tested in some indoor environments. (See Eurobites: WiFi's Lightbulb Moment.)
With just two 5G prototype devices, the number of fully end-to-end 5G service tests will be limited, though versions of some potential 5G applications will be demonstrated and trialled using LTE-Advanced Pro (4.5G) radio access, while 5G NR connectivity will also be tested as backhaul connections.

The trial will make use of Bristol Is Open’s existing optical transport and data gathering architecture, spectrum from BT (which of course now includes mobile operator EE) and network infrastructure elements -- massive MIMO antennas, pre-standard 5G NR small cells, edge computing platforms, core network systems and more -- from Nokia.

Talking at a media briefing Monday morning, BT's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae noted that BT needs to be able to "do more for less, with less" in the future, and that it needs practical experience of how next-generation technologies will work and interact when loaded with real user traffic. "We want to look at this from an operational perspective... how to manage network slicing... what tools we will need to manage 5G networks that we don't already have and looking at how 5G [capabilities] might be used in the real world beyond enhanced mobile broadband connectivity."

Identifying and implementing the appropriate analytics capabilities will be critical to BT's 5G plans, noted McRae, as well as figuring out "how to get the information out of the network. How to improve telemetry is a key area of focus for BT and then figuring out what information needs to be processed and analyzed in real time and what can be stored and analyzed later. Information is the starting point for 5G -- visibility gives us control."

BT's Chief Architect Neil McRae (seen here talking to Light Reading's Liz Coyne earlier this year) believes that 'Information is the starting point for 5G -- visibility gives us control.'
BT's Chief Architect Neil McRae (seen here talking to Light Reading's Liz Coyne earlier this year) believes that "Information is the starting point for 5G -- visibility gives us control."

Neil McRae also stressed that it's important to look at the technology as the enabler and be driven primarily by the potential use cases in a 5G world, "and the most powerful use cases come from collaborating with industry... we need to work with government, industry, enterprises to provide everyone with a better understanding of what impact 5G will have on businesses, their partners and their customers." Automation and robotics are at the heart of the applications to be tested, and will involve interactions between humans and robots, between robots and robots, with connected cars and also encompass "immersive experiences," including some involving real-time gaming.

That's one of the incentives to be involved in the Bristol experiment -- collaboration and feedback. "We are looking at Bristol as a way to engage in applied research," noted Paul Crane, head of mobile, wireless and network services R&D at BT's Technology, Service & Operations (TSO) division. Having worked on 5G capabilities in the labs, BT wants to know "what we need to put in place" to enable a slew of 5G applications that require high capacity, high availability and low latency.

Crane noted that his team has three particular areas of 5G R&D in terms of applications: Low-latency services, such as remote medical diagnostics; Virtual and augmented reality, particularly where VR services pertain to sporting events and live sporting broadcasts (BT, of course, now runs multiple sports TV channels in the UK); and drone control, focused on how automated drone missions can help the emergency services and make remote site visits more efficient and effective.

He is also looking at: How artificial intelligence and machine learning tools, which BT already uses in its network maintenance processes, could be used in automated 5G management processes; the integration of fixed and mobile network infrastructures all the way to the access edge; and how functions can be more distributed.

BT has already been examining distributed and edge computing capabilities and has already deployed distributed content caches around the UK. McRae noted that BT is now seeing more value in its local exchange (central office) facilities than it did several years ago, as the ability to add compute functionality in those locations "gives us a huge asset to build on," he noted.

But that doesn't mean that all of BT's circa 5,500 local exchanges will become distributed data center facilities: McRae believes about 2,000 will be useful in the long run to house edge computing as well as broadband access systems and "putting edge compute resources in about 100 locations would probably be enough to start."

And while BT has found the CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Datacenter) developments instructive, "we have a different set of needs" that are being met with developments within Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and through work BT is undertaking with Dell. (See BT, Dell EMC Team on Disaggregated Switching R&D.)

So what happens after the brief Bristol trial? A great deal of information will be gathered from the two days, noted Bristol is Open CTO Dimitra Simeonidou, an optical technology specialist and professor of high performance networks at Bristol University. She said that services would be run over 4G and pre-5G connections and data gathered to note the difference in performance, network impact and so on. Information will be shared from the experiment with the broader community she added: "We are looking to create a 5G asset for the whole of the UK," she said, though it seems very likely that critical, detailed performance insights might not go much further than the key participants.

For BT, McRae will be looking for insights that can feed into the operator's 5G network planning and cost models. As expected he wasn't willing to provide a figure for how much capex BT would need to build out a nationwide 5G network with distributed NR radio access, edge computing, real-time analytics and ultra high-speed backhaul, but there is, he notes, "a five-year plan, maybe not as good as it might be currently, but we're getting closer to a more defined plan. There's still a lot to understand about how 5G will feed into BT's overall service and architecture plans and we're still looking at that."

Those plans don't include new spectrum license costs, around which there is still a great deal of uncertainty -- not just around the price but also the timing, as BT is currently involved in a dispute related to potential spectrum allocation rules. (See Eurobites: UK Regulator Accuses BT & 3 of Erecting 5G Roadblocks and Hot Air: UK 5G Spectrum Dispute .)

Neil McRae dismissed the idea that the spectrum dispute might impact BT's 5G plans. "Anyone who thinks that... doesn't know what they're talking about," he proclaimed. If you think that sounds combative, try asking him if he's looking forward to 6G networks!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Google developing customer service teams?

The obvious approach to Customer Service that is more up Google's alley, is to simply develop a customer service chat interface, which it can easily integrate with Google Classroom or Google Assistant and sell it to educational establishments and other  businesses to use. Eventually, after enough data is going to be massed, Google could likely handle all customer interactions on its own (maybe with some live people monitoring the conversations but only stepping in under rare circumstances).

This would save Google the massive expense of developing a huge customer service department, training programs, and potentially outsourcing the chat interface software.

Some bulleted lists detailing the pros and cons of each strategy are found below:

Starting A Live Customer Service Department: Allow for product support on their own products.

Create another direct customer interaction point besides stores (and one that is potentially much more impactful for a digitally-based company).

Allow collection of data on customer service interaction expediting the proliferation of an AI bot version.

Create A Customer Service Chat Interface: Allow them to create a new interface for their own use, that is also a marketable B2B product for the G Suite they already market to schools and businesses and Google Classroom for the rest of the world.

Depending on terms of use, it could collect data from the clients allowing an even more robust set of data for creating the AI version.

What About Google doing Both?

By doing both of these strategies in conjunction, there are many synergies: One of the most obvious is that it would increase justification to create an in-house version of the live chat interface (whether from scratch or a ported version of Hangouts, Duo, or any number of other chat interfaces they have already created like the little used Google+).

This would reduce the huge cost from buying the SaaS from a company like Livechat. The fact remains that it would then be a Google product to fold into G Suite or sell on its own with appeal to enterprises would be a great up-sale for cloud services or other products.

Additionally, the costs could also be offset for employees they hired to do the customer service via the interface while honing the AI by potential revenues from selling the software.

The main reason to do this would be that this is one area they lack behind many companies they compete with like Apple, Microsoft and Amazon. Further, many of Google's apps are basically unsupported. For example, if a business or school migrates from Google G Suite to a competitor, there is nobody at Google to help people transfer their documents to another Google account, let alone the competitor. There is nobody to talk to when you are having trouble with the software. The most you and I can do is file a bug report requesting a change in features. NOT good enough in our Healthy  Mindful MenteSanas future plans. We see such a clear view from Project Loon's 12 mile high magination. It's "just" a matter of bringing the 21st century, New Millennium customer service idea for Alphabet down to earth.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Apple leans heavily upon Intel's 5G CHIPSET

Apple is leaning heavily toward Intel’s flavour of 5G for a future iPhone. The iPhone maker’s engineers have been engaged with Intel counterparts for early work on 5G, the upcoming technology for next-generation wireless broadband, while dialogue between Apple and the dominant modem supplier in the industry, Qualcomm, has been limited.

Qualcomm’s 5G modem chips offer more specialized carrier features like “Uplink Carrier Aggregation“ but many will not be widely adopted by carriers. Apple engineers believe that Intel’s 5G modem will fit its requirements for a future iPhone. Intel has lagged far behind Qualcomm in the modem market, but has a small army working on 5G, numbering in the multiple thousands. The initiative to provide the 5G modem for the iPhone is now considered a “must-win” for Intel. Intel first announced its 5G Modem at CES 2017, and said today in a press release that it has “successfully completed a full end-to-end 5G call based on its early 5G silicon … a key milestone in its development.” The completion of the modem aligns with Apple’s plans for a 5G iPhone to arrive in 2019 or 2020. A 5G iPhone will be capable of connection speeds of a gigabit per second and beyond, which could radically change the way we compute, communicate, and consume content using the device. The move to 5G is technically complex, requiring lots of coordination between the phone maker and potential vendors far in advance of official vendor selection.

THE BATTLE FOR THE IPHONE

Qualcomm has been supplying modems for the iPhone since 2011, and has a far more mature and full-featured 5G modem. After a big R&D investment, the company announced the world’s first 5G modem, the Snapdragon X50, back in October 2016. Intel, after its own gargantuan effort, won a small share of the Apple modem business starting with 2016’s iPhone 7. The company has been willing to customize its products for Apple in ways that Qualcomm likely would not. Apple has used the Intel modems in its iPhones for the T-Mobile and AT&T GSM/LTE networks, and, because the Qualcomm modems are especially well suited to CDMA networks, has put them in iPhones for Verizon and Sprint.

That dynamic may now change as the carriers transition their networks to 5G. Verizon, for one, has said it plans to no longer require that new devices connect to older CDMA networks starting in late 2018 or early 2019. When Verizon does that, Sprint, US Cellular, and a few other overseas operators will still support CDMA, but the CDMA ecosystem will begin to collapse.

Without a CDMA requirement, Apple has one less reason to stick with Qualcomm, which invented the widely used version of the technology.

A Strained Relationship Is EVIDENT today.

Meanwhile, Apple’s relationship with Qualcomm has soured over the past year amid an increasingly serious legal dispute over the patent licensing fees paid to Qualcomm by Apple suppliers. Also, Qualcomm is now the subject of a monster acquisition attempt by rival chipmaker, Broadcom, but has already rejected an eye popping $103 billon bid, which it said undervalues its business.

All of this seems to point toward the possibility, (or is it probability?) of Apple looking to Intel as the sole provider of 5G modems for the future iPhone. The end game is obviously to build the Intel modem onto an integrated system-on-a-chip (SoC) that would also contain the CPU, GPU, and most other iPhone components. The SoC would be co-designed by Intel and Apple plus most importantly the chip would be fabricated at an Intel facility. Some believe Apple’s full embrace of Intel could happen even sooner. The Wall Street Journal recently cited unnamed sources saying that Apple is already building iPhone prototypes that use Intel 3G/4G modems only. The report named a smaller chipmaker, Taiwan-based MediaTek, as a possible (if somewhat unlikely) second supplier.

Qualcomm would not go on record for this story. (Suppliers are required to sign strict non-disclosure agreements that prohibit talking publicly about their business with Apple.) Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment. Intel did however provide a telling statement: “While we do not comment on customer products, as evidenced by our news today Intel is making great momentum on our 5G roadmap to accelerate the adoption of 5G.”

Thursday, 2 November 2017

More on KRACKS, the WiFi WPA2 attack technique reads info that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted.

The recent discovery of serious weaknesses in WPA2, a protocol that secures all modern protected Wi-Fi networks, has been in the headlines. An attacker within range of a victim can exploit these weaknesses using key reinstallation attacks otherwise known as KRACKs. 

Concretely, any attacker can use this novel attack technique to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted. This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so on. 

The attack works against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks

Depending on the network configuration, it is also possible to inject and manipulate data. For example, an attacker might be able to inject ransomware or other malware into websites.

The weaknesses are to be found in the IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi standard itself, and not in individual products or implementations. Therefore, any correct implementation of WPA2 is likely affected. To prevent the attack, users must urgently update their affected products as soon as security updates become available. If ANY of your devices support Wi-Fi, it is most likely affected

During initial research, it was discovered that Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, and many others, are all affected by some variant of the attacks. 

For more information about specific products, consult the database of CERT/CC, or contact your vendor.

The research behind the attack will soon be presented at the upcoming Computer and Communications Security (CCS) conference, and at the Black Hat Europe conference. 

A very detailed research paper can already be downloaded. The recommendation from MenteSanas is not to delay acting on this risk any further. 
Comments?

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Alphabet's (Google's) routing blunder sent Japan's Internet dark last Friday!

An indeterminate but supposedly small number of Google Docs including MenteSanas users on Tuesday found that their essays, reports, school assignments, tracts, and manifestos had run afoul of Google's terms of service and had been made inaccessible.

Some users reported being unable to share their documents; others said their documents could not be viewed in Google Drive; and a few of us claimed their work had been lost, though we're told what was lost has fortunately been found again.

Several hours ago, Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin magazine, via Twitter said an article on Eastern Europe's post-socialist policies had vanished from his Google Drive space due to a terms of service (ToS) violation.

Rachel Bale, a reporter for National Geographic, said a draft of a story about wildlife crime had been frozen for a ToS violation.

And Jason Heppler, an assistant professor of history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, posted a screenshot showing that a requested file had been deleted from Google Drive.

Similar tales litter the Google Docs Help Forum.

The incident prompted reiterations of longstanding concerns about the downside of cloud-based services, namely that files stored remotely can be swept away at any time for any reason. And it comes at a time when Google and its peers are under scrutiny in the US for not knowing more about those who share content and pay for ads on social platforms.

Google routing blunder sent Japan's Internet dark on Friday


READ MORE
Google offers Docs and Drive under the usual rules, which disallow abusive or illegal content. In most circumstances, it does not scrutinize private content stored on its servers, though it does have automated systems in place for detecting illegal images, at least in Gmail.

YouTube also has a system for detecting copyrighted content.

For shared content like Docs files, much of the ToS policing has been foisted upon other users, who are invited to flag material they deem inappropriate.

It's that flagging mechanism that went haywire, we're told. Shortly after noon Pacific Time, Google acknowledged its errant flagging frenzy and attributed it to bad code.

"This morning, we made a code push that incorrectly flagged a small percentage of Google Docs as abusive, which caused those documents to be automatically blocked," a Google spokesperson said in an emailed statement to The Register. "A fix is in place and all users should have full access to their docs."

Google's spokesperson said that protecting users from malware and abusive content is part of the company's strategy for keeping users safe online and apologized for the disruption while promising to implement safeguards to prevent its safeguards from getting out of hand.

MenteSanas are no longer in Stealth Mode

From today, November 1st, 2017 we at MenteSanas are no longer in Stealth Mode as soon as the "Hangouts Meet hardware kits" arrive, as we will have been patiently waiting several months. 

They go on sale in the U.S.A. and Canada, the U.K., Ireland, Finland, France, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Australia, Japan, and even New Zealand.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The other AT&T and T-Mobile shoes drop into Puerto Rico supporting Project Loon and LTE 4G. Similar 5G plans will appear next year or does Project Loon wait until 2020?

T-Mobile revealed on Friday 26th of October that it’s now working with Project Loon to help get LTE-based communications to people in Puerto Rico following the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria.

That follows AT&T’s move a week earlier when it said it was supporting Loon’s efforts to provide basic communication and internet activities for some people with LTE-enabled phones. While the Loon team emphasised last week that it was still an experimental system, it’s already been serving “tens of thousands” of people in Puerto Rico, so it appears to be working.

“Since turning on Project Loon service last week, we’ve delivered basic Internet connectivity to tens of thousands of people in Puerto Rico,” said Alastair Westgarth, project lead at Project Loon, in a statement. “We really appreciate the collaboration and support of AT&T and T-Mobile and hope that our efforts are helping during this incredibly difficult time.”

RELATED: Google's Project Loon working with AT&T to get basic wireless services to Puerto Rico. The Loon team has been launching balloons from a site in Nevada and navigating them to Puerto Rico. The Loon team worked with the government of Puerto Rico, as well as the FCC, FAA, FEMA, other spectrum partners and international aviation authorities, to bring service to the region.   Project Loon, which is part of X, an innovation lab within Alphabet, works only with 4G LTE devices that support band 8.

The company still considers it to be an experimental system, though, and says many unique factors could prevent a specific device from connecting. The hope is that as Project Loon engineers get more familiar with the constantly shifting winds in the region, they can keep the balloons up precisely over areas where connectivity is needed for as long as possible.

For consumers, a signal appears on their device the same way it shows up on any LTE device—users see an AT&T or T-Mobile sign—so they won’t know just by looking at their phone if they’re connected via Project Loon or to a cell tower.

T-Mobile CTO, Neville Ray, said in blog post that to date, T-Mobile has recovered more than 80% of its original prestorm outdoor signal in Puerto Rico. “We are working every day to close that gap and increase the density of our coverage in the higher populated areas,” he said. “We won’t stop!”
RELATED: Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint work at restoring service in Puerto Rico
"Our team has also left no stone unturned when it comes to getting people connected until infrastructure destroyed by Maria can be replaced,” he said.

"One of these solutions is Project Loon, an experimental system that our engineering experts worked on with the team at X, Alphabet’s Moonshot factory.

This balloon-based LTE 4G access allows us to deliver more limited data and texting services to customers in hard to reach areas and I’m pleased to share that this is live as of today!”  
Yet another example he gave was T-Mobile’s partnership with Vanu, a cellular antenna system company headed by Vanu Bose, to deploy several self-contained portable cellular network units that provide voice, data and text capabilities in some of the hardest hit areas.

There is a lot more info to aid our research on the topics: LTE 4G, 5G, Project Loon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Alphabet, Google; it can be found on Wikipedia and elsewhere as well as in the future on this blog.

T-Mobile/Sprint would be ‘dominant spectrum holder’ in much of the U.S.A.: 

T-Mobile/Sprint merger would 'significantly improve' ability to compete in rural markets: 

CCA reiterates opposition to Verizon's Straight Path 5G spectrum buy with FCC petition

Monday, 23 October 2017

WPA2 vulnerability is a serious flaw in the wireless encryption protocol



Users are urged to continue using WPA2 pending the availability of a fix, experts have said, after security researchers went public with more information about a serious flaw in the wireless encryption protocol.

So-called Key Reinstallation Attacks, aka KRACK, potentially work against all modern protected Wi-Fi networks. Depending on the network configuration and the device targeted, it is possible to inject and manipulate data as well as eavesdrop on communications over the air. The only main limitation is that an attacker needs to be within range of a victim to exploit these weaknesses.

It affects WPA2 Personal and Enterprise, regardless of the encryption ciphers used by a network. It mostly affects Linux and Android 6.0 and above, as well as macOS and OpenBSD. Windows and iOS are more or less unaffected due to the way they implement WPA2. Gadgets from Cisco, Linksys and other networking gear makers are also vulnerable. You should obtain and install software patches as soon as possible, from your operating system vendor or hardware suppliers, to fix up the WPA2 design flaw.

Mathy Vanhoef of KU Leuven, one of the security researchers who discovered the specification blunder, warned that the security hole stems from a fundamental cryptographic weakness in the latest generation of wireless networking rather than a programming cockup.

Simply changing Wi-Fi network passwords is not going to help – software and firmware will need to be updated to workaround this deep design error:
The weaknesses are in the Wi-Fi standard itself, and not in individual products or implementations. Therefore, any correct implementation of WPA2 is likely affected. To prevent the attack, users must update affected products as soon as security updates become available.

KRACK targets the four-way handshake of the WPA2 protocol and relies on tricking a victim's device into reusing an already-in-use key. This sleight of hand is achieved by manipulating and replaying cryptographic handshake messages.


“When the victim reinstalls the key, associated parameters such as the incremental transmit packet number (i.e. nonce) and receive packet number (i.e. replay counter) are reset to their initial value,” Vanhoef explained today on a microsite about the attack. “Essentially, to guarantee security, a key should only be installed and used once. Unfortunately, we found this is not guaranteed by the WPA2 protocol. By manipulating cryptographic handshakes, we can abuse this weakness in practice.”

An attacker can force these nonce resets by collecting and replaying retransmissions of message three of the four-way handshake.

A nonce is a number that is not necessarily a secret but is meant only to be used once and never repeated. The flaw in WPA2 allows a nonce to be – or forced to be – repeated, thus allowing an attacker to extract the WPA2 session key and decrypt and compromise all wireless traffic for that session.

As a proof-of-concept, Vanhoef has published a demonstration of how a key reinstallation attack might be carried out against an Android smartphone. Android and Linux are particularly susceptible to the WPA2 flaw because a bug in the platform's widely used wpa_supplicant tool zeroes the key during the eavesdropping, thus the Wi-Fi traffic can be trivially decrypted.

In short, other than Windows and iOS, the vulnerability can be exploited on various operating systems, computers and devices to decrypt any information transferred over the air that isn't already encrypted with HTTPS, TLS, a VPN tunnel, or similar.

Puerto Rico's cellphone towers were knocked out and Project Loon came to the rescue


Google's parent Alphabet Inc. said Friday that its stratospheric balloons are now delivering the internet to remote areas of Puerto Rico where cellphone towers were knocked out by Hurricane Maria.

Two of the search giant's "Project Loon" balloons are already over the country enabling texts, emails and basic web access to AT&T customers with handsets that use its 4G LTE network.

The balloons -- called HBAL199 and HBAL237 -- are more than 60,000 feet (18,000 meters) above land, according to FlightRadar24.com . They navigate using an algorithm that puts them in the best position to deliver signal by rising and falling to ride wind currents. They are also solar-powered and only provide signal during the day

Several more balloons are on their way from Nevada, and Alphabet has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to send up to 30 balloons to serve the hard-hit area, according to Libby Leahy, spokeswoman for Alphabet's X, its division for futuristic technologies.

Project Loon head Alastair Westgarth said in a blog post that Project Loon is "still an experimental technology and we're not quite sure how well it will work," though it has been tested since last year in Peru following flooding there.

Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of 3.4 million people since making landfall last month. Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Friday the death toll had risen to 49. Less than a fifth of the island has electricity, half its cellphone towers are still not functioning, schools are closed and more than 4,000 are in shelters, according to a government website .

AT&T spokesman, Jeffrey Kobs, said the company has set up 14 temporary cell sites, and as of Friday more than 60 percent of the population was connected via mobile network, in part due to the help of humanitarian and government groups and Project Loon.

Other technology companies such as Cisco, Facebook and Tesla have also pledged help or have sent teams to the island to improve communications and restore power.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Switching to businesses rather than consumers is the future of 5G

A newly released poll shows that a significantly larger percentage of wireless operators conducted 5G tests this year.

They are increasingly focused on enterprise and industrial applications for the next-generation systems. Ericsson's latest 5G Readiness Survey, conducted in July, showed that 78 percent of respondents were involved in 5G trials this year, up from 32 percent last year. Participating executives also suggested that increasing saturation of the consumer 5G market prompted companies to shift to other markets. 

Although 52 percent of respondents planned for the consumer segment, 56 percent targeted business applications and 58 percent sought industrial applications. A majority of poll participants also said that the Internet of Things — and related collaboration with third-parties — would be critical to the development of 5G. “In the 2016 survey, 90 percent of the respondents pointed to consumers as the main segment in their 5G business planning," Ericsson 5G commercialization head Thomas Noren said in a statement. "This year, it is an even split between three segments and operators have identified business opportunities not only in the consumer segment but also with enterprise users and specialized industries.” 

The survey signaled that enterprise and industrial systems would be among the ways to monetize 5G, along with higher prices for new services, migration from 4G systems and increased market share. Respondents identified the media and entertainment and automotive and public transport sectors as the most attractive for 5G applications, but said health care and energy and utilities could also see significant interest. The report featured responses from 50 executives, in either business or technical roles, for 37 global operators with publicly announced 5G ambitions.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Qualcomm and the FCC

Qualcomm was granted FCC authorization to conduct experiments using a small 5G R&D development and demonstration network at 4.4-4.94 GHz in its hometown of San Diego.

Specifically, the location is within a 0.5-mile radius of Qualcomm’s campus in the Sorrento Valley area of San Diego. The authorization is effective until Oct. 1, 2019. The application lists 30 mobile units and four base stations to be used in a test network that will use a single TDD 100 MHz channel bandwidth. Qualcomm explained that the requested frequency range of 4.4-4.94 GHz is for technology development purposes only and not targeted for future non-federal wireless communication deployment in the U.S.

Qualcomm said the network supported by the experimental license is critical for the company to develop, validate and then demonstrate 5G technology wireless communications systems. Engineers designed the network to generate the smallest amount of RF interference to incumbents in the requested frequency range while also providing the RF coverage area required for engineering development and showcasing advanced wireless technology for indoor, outdoor, static and mobility user environments, the company said. “The network is required to support both conventional passive antennas configurations as well as advanced beam forming technologies that will be utilized by 5G networks,” the application states.

The network as described uses four fixed sectors to provide the RF coverage area to a maximum of 30 mobile devices anywhere within the 0.5-mile coverage area. Three of the locations use one directional antenna while the third site has two directional antennas. The mobile devices can be used in static locations, in vehicles or in human mobility scenarios, according to the application. Most mobile testing will occur at ground level, but there’s a chance that some mobile may be located inside buildings exceeding one story.

Apple, Facebook and more lobby for expanded unlicensed use of 6 GHz band for 5G devices.

Qualcomm is part of a broader coalition that is calling on the FCC to open up the 6 GHz band to unlicensed operations and allow them to bring faster service, lower latency and more pervasive coverage to consumers. They note that the timing couldn’t be better: the IEEE 802.11ax Task Group recently voted to extend coverage to the 6 GHz band, expanding 802.11ax from 5 GHz into new gigabit-enabled channels, and consumers will rely more heavily on Wi-Fi in the future to power new use cases. 

About 30 entities signed the filing, all agreeing that Part 15 access to the 5925-7125 MHz band (aka the 6 GHz band) is essential in meeting demand for the next generation of wireless broadband services.

The companies span the consumer equipment, internet media, software, cloud, semiconductor, enterprise, service provider and rural connectivity industries. Their proposal is in response to the FCC’s call for comments on expanding flexible use in mid-band spectrum between 3.7 and 24 GHz.

5G CHINESE strategy seeks comments

China’s Ministry of Industries and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a public consultation request dated June 5th, 2017 seeking comment on plans to use the 3300-3600 MHz and 4800-5000 MHz bands for 5G, with 3300-3400 MHz will be limited to indoor use.

The White Spaces Radio below 700 MHz spectrum is not part of this plan, but analysts at Jefferies said they don’t think that’s a cause for alarm. In a June 6th research note to investors, the analysts said they believe this consultation’s purpose is to ensure these currently available spectra are “truly clean and free.” For the 700 MHz spectrum, since it has been allocated to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) for broadcasting purposes, it is technically “unavailable” or considered “not free,” they said. “We continue to believe that Unicom will be able to reach an agreement with SAPPRFT, which will give it access to the latter’s 700 MHz spectrum in exchange for an equity stake in Unicom,” the analysts wrote. “The MIIT will then re-allocate the 700 MHz spectrum that has been freed up by SAPPRFT for 5G applications.” 

Including the 100 MHz of spectrum restricted for providing indoor coverage, China’s MIIT plans to allocate a total of 500 MHz of spectrum for 5G, they noted. “Although this is only similar in total spectrum size to the current 2G/3G/4G allocation for the three Chinese telcos, which is 507 MHz, the major difference is that the 5G spectrum being planned is contiguous spectrum (300 MHz contiguous between 3300 and 3600 MHz, and 200 MHz contiguous between 4800-5000 MHz), while the current allocation is split into small parcels between 800 MHz and 2600 MHz,” the analysts said. “The ITU suggested a minimum contiguous spectrum size of 100 MHz for genuine 5G services, and it is very difficult for most countries to find such spectrum at a low frequency level (below 3 GHz). 

That is why 5G will, in most cases, take place at a higher frequency level and become far more expensive to build than 4G networks. In Europe, regulators decided that mobile operators will obtain exclusive access to the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) by June 30, 2020, coinciding with the expected deployment of 5G networks in Europe. Member states may, however, delay the reallocation by up to two years, but only in duly justified cases set out in the decision, according to the European Council of the European Commission. In the U.S., the FCC last year voted unanimously to make spectrum bands above 24 GHz available for 5G, opening up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband—3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum and 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum. 

T-Mobile, by comparison, presses the FCC to change the 3.5 GHz framework to better align with 5G global requirements. Regulations aside, T-Mobile USA more recently declared it’s going to be using the 600 MHz spectrum it won in the incentive auction for 5G, as well as the 200 MHz of spectrum it has in the 28/39 GHz bands. CTO Neville Ray said 5G can be deployed on any frequency, and in the future, all spectrum will be 5G spectrum running across low, mid and high-band. Interestingly, T-Mobile also has been pressing the FCC to revisit the 3.5 GHz CBRS band to make it better aligned in the U.S. with global spectrum for 5G. Executives visited with the FCC recently to explain that the 3.5 GHz spectrum is a core band for 5G deployment around the world and that the U.S. will miss a huge opportunity if it doesn’t create a structure aligned with global 5G requirements.

Crown Castle big time buy banking on 5G by spending $7.1 B

Crown Castle gets ‘crown jewel’ Lightower for $7.1B With a greatly expanded network, the company should be able to help its wireless customers prepare for 5G.

The reports were right on the money. Crown Castle International (CCI) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lightower—technically LTS Group Holdings LLC—for approximately $7.1 billion in cash. That Crown Castle was considering the acquisition was first reported by Bloomberg.

Lightower owns or has rights to approximately 32,000 route miles of fiber located primarily in metro markets in the Northeast, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Following completion of the transaction, Crown Castle will own or have rights to approximately 60,000 route miles of fibre, with a presence in all of the top 10 and 23 of the top 25 metro markets.

That will make the company one of the larger fibre network operators. “We are excited about the addition of Lightower given its attractive fibre footprint and the value we believe it will create for our shareholders,” Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown in a statement. He added that Lightower’s footprint in top metro markets in the Northeast will be valuable for supporting small cell deployments by Crown Castle customers.

Crown Castle is widely understood to have both AT&T and Verizon as customers. The company bought several thousand of AT&T’s towers in 2013. Wireless carriers’ evolution to 5G technology will include using millimeter-wave spectrum that is less robust than centimeter-wave spectrum traditionally used in wireless communications. In order to provide reliable coverage, millimetre-wave systems will require far more base stations—small cells—than today’s 4G systems need.

The response of financial analysts has been generally favorable. Wells Fargo Securities refers to Lightower as a “crown jewel.” Analysts there say the deal will underscore the value of Crown Castle competitor Zayo, which will still be three times larger than the combination of Crown Castle and Lightower, and which also has a solid presence in dense urban markets where small cells are going to be needed in great numbers.

New Street has been skeptical that supporting small cells would be anywhere near as lucrative as the macro tower business, but believes the small cell portion of Crown Castle’s business will be small enough a portion of the company to give Crown Castle “the benefit of the doubt.”

Deutsche Bank Markets Research, like Wells Fargo and New Street, was pleased to see Crown Castle’s estimates that the deal will be more accretive than most previously expected. Crown Castle anticipates closing the deal by the end of this year.

Project Loon is perfectly timed for 5G?

Google expects Project Loon to be profitable in the next couple of years, stating that “helping out” is important “but that’s not the reason we exist”.

Project Loon, part of Google’s Alphabet X division, was launched in 2012, and uses helium filled balloons to provide 120 Mb/s Full Duplex broadband internet access to some of the world’s most remote locations or in cases of disaster, (to be installed over Puerto Rica specifically) with another example providing similar symmetrical broadband connectivity to areas in Peru, South America.

During trials in the country, Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, said his team was able to turn on a live network, covering a landmass the size of Switzerland, to provide internet access to thousands of people that were disconnected after severe flooding. In doing this, the Google Loon team worked with Spanish telco, Telefonica to provide access to areas in which the operator was not present, while both collaborated on spectrum.

Westgarth opened up on how exactly the partnership model with operators worked. He said when the unit first started out, “people”, presumably referring to operators, “were quite nervous” Project Loon was Google’s attempt to try to build an over the top network. “We were absolutely not doing that,” he said. “We’re not our own MNO, we’re not even our own ISP.” 

He said Project Loon was now talking to “dozens and dozens” of telcos and operators around the world, and there was a long-term vision to build a durable business and an eventual revenue driver. “We exist to build a durable business model, and underneath that if we can help people and on occasion provide relief during a strenuous situation, a disaster situation, that’s great,” he said. “But we believe in the next couple of years we will be flying and providing service in a commercial context in partnership with the operators.” During the interview, Westgarth also opened up on how artificial intelligence technology would be leveraged further to control and monitor the balloons in flight at 20 km altitude.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Derailing the 5G opportunity in the UK after BREXIT

The Head of Ofcom, Sharon White, has come out swinging against providers' legal challenges to its spectrum auction proposals – accusing them of derailing Britain’s “golden opportunity” to take a lead in 5G. 

Both Three and EE have launched separate judicial reviews against the UK comms watchdog over its forthcoming auction for the 2.3GHz band, which will be used for 4G, and the 3.4GHz band, identified as central to the rollout of 5G. 

The auction had been due to begin at the end of this year, but instead the courts will fight it out over whether the 37 per cent cap on spectrum is guaranteed (which is Three's concern) and whether the separate bands ought to be auctioned separately so the cap doesn't apply to the 3.4GHz band (BT/EE's objection). In a letter to the Financial Times, White said: "The courts have agreed to fast-track litigation, but the benefits for mobile users will inevitably be delayed. We planned to complete the auction this year. "Now we will be in court in December. We believe that auctioning some 5G airwaves early would allow companies to start the vital groundwork to make 5G a reality as soon as possible." 

She noted that the UK government is putting up "significant funding" for 5G networks.
However, as one well-placed source remarked, Ofcom could well be playing up the potential 5G delay for "politically expedient" reasons. 

It is attacking operators over the perception they are delaying "innovative" new technology. "This isn't really about 5G," he said. "Ofcom is understandably fed-up with being litigated against." He said: "Those bands were only paired because they became available from the Ministry of Defence at the same time. 

When Ofcom decided to bundle them in 2014 it made sense, but since then things have changed." Because the EU scuppered the proposed £10.5bn merger between O2 and Three in 2016 - the two smallest providers - ensuring each provider has a fair amount of spectrum by introducing a cap became more of a priority. Had that merger gone ahead, Three and O2 combined would have had a 29 per cent share of the spectrum (as opposed to 15 per cent and 14 per cent respectively), making a spectrum cap less imperative. Without any spectrum cap, Three would not have begun a legal challenge and EE/BT would not have launched its own counter judicial review.

"The regulator has dug itself into a hole, as a consequence of the EU's and its own insistence over having four companies in the market," said the source. "It might be wise to revisit the decision to bundle the auction together, so we can get a move on with 4G and return to 5G later." He added that any delays to 5G are not really important, as that band of spectrum won't be available until 2020, and the extent to which the UK is in a position to become a world leader is "highly questionable". Kane Mumford, journalist at Policy Tracker, agreed that the hold-up to 5G is being over-egged.
"Internally, I can say Ofcom is more sceptical about 5G than Ofcom's Sharon White makes out in [the article]" he said in a tweet.

Update:
An Ofcom spokesman got in touch to say: “This is absolutely about 5G. It is very regrettable that the auction will now be delayed by this litigation, which will harm consumers, businesses and ultimately the UK economy.”

Monday, 25 September 2017

5G will make every industry and every part of our lives better.

At the San Feancisco Mobile World Congress Americas 2017 during the keynote session on the first day there was Meredith Baker, the president of the CTIA, taking the stage to talk about 5G and its many saving graces.

She explained that “5G will make every industry and every part of our lives better.” That seems very plausible considering the fact that 5G is 100 times faster, supports 100 times the number of devices and is five times as responsive as 4G.

To put it into context, 5G will introduce entirely new immersive forms of education. So we’ll be living in a new world where field trips won’t need permission slips or long bus rides – they can happen easily, instantly, and virtually (although our children will likely miss the fresh air). But in light of some of the recent hurricanes that have hit – and devastated – Texas and Florida, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, reminded the audience that “wireless connectivity was a lifeline for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

Many people were found because of wireless calls, like the 14-year-old girl who asked Siri on her iPhone to call the Coast Guard.” This is a very interesting point and one that may not always get the most attention when it comes to discussions about 5G.

It's extremely important, As Ajit Pai said, “For public safety, wireless communications are critically important in the recovery process.” I agree and would suggest that St. Martin and other islands hardest hit could be the first to take advantage of 5G as they rebuild their cellular phone network infrastructure. The key to making 5G’s benefits a reality will, of course, come down to how well devices perform on the new network.

According to GSMA’s 2017 Global Mobile Trends Report, early 5G deployments will focus primarily on high-bandwidth applications as an extension to 4G, notably 4K ultra-HD video and VR/AR apps. Aa a Q2 2017 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health Report noted, crashing apps are a common reality in today’s 4G world. So I can only imagine that apps may initially experience some lags and crash when 5G is first launched.

It is hard to predict the innovations that will arise from 5G. What impact will having faster internet from your tethered phone then get from your office network? IT administrators could lose control of the gateway where many critical security measures are enforced.

Employees will be able to move and send large files faster to the cloud than to local storage servers. 5G is going to unleash a myriad of security issues, not least among them controlling data flows. This is something data governance and compliance professionals should start thinking about today.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Charter partners with Samsung over 5G strategies

Guess you will collaborate on 5G Trials?

Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Samsung Electronics America are collaborating on 5G and 4G LTE wireless networks lab and field trials at various locations in the United States. The trials, which began this summer, are expected to run through the end of the year. The 5G trial is evaluating fixed use cases using Samsung's pre-commercial 28 GHz (mmWave) system and devices. The 4G trials are performed at 3.5 GHz (CBRS), utilizing Samsung's combined 4G LTE small cell technology in an outdoor environment to evaluate mobile use cases. "We are pleased to collaborate with Samsung on these trials, which provide Charter better insight into how our advanced, powered, high speed network - which currently passes 49 million homes and businesses - can be used to enable 5G services," said Craig Cowden, senior VP, Wireless Technology at Charter. "In addition, as we move closer to the launch of a Spectrum wireless service in 2018, our work with Samsung on trials of 4G small cell technology will support our overall wireless strategy." Tests will include Samsung's strand-mount 4G LTE outdoor small cell, which provides both 4G LTE and WiFi service over multiple frequencies.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Verizon perhaps has solved the 28GHz signal problem ahead of 5G

Verizon at the Mobile World Congress Americas trade show said it may have solved one of the key problems dogging the 5G space: how to transmit 28 GHz signals through windows that block UV rays.

While this might sound like a minor inconvenience in the multibillion-dollar buildup to 5G, it’s actually not. Getting millimeter-wave signals to travel anywhere is difficult, but it’s really hard to get those signals to travel through windows that are coated with material that reflects UV light (and most new homes and offices require this kind of coating in order to lower cooling costs).

This situation poses a big problem for Verizon, because the carrier wants to be able to use 5G to deliver superfast internet to homes and businesses instead of fiber. If those signals can’t get past windows, users would probably have to have Verizon technicians install antennas on the outside of their home or office. This kind of specialized installation would be expensive, to say the least, and would therefore significantly cut into any savings Verizon might score by using 5G instead of fibre.

So how exactly did Verizon (and its partner Nokia Bell Labs) solve this particular problem? As Edward Jack, lab manager at a Verizon Innovation Center, explains, the carrier employed a solution that’s both high-tech and simple at the same time. Basically, Verizon invented a two-part 5G modem: One part sits outside a user’s window, and the other part sits right on the other side of the window. The two parts are connected by magnets or some other method (in Verizon’s demo they were taped to the window) in a way that ensures the two halves line up exactly. The antenna, receiver and transmitter are on the outside of the window, while the power, display and connection ports are on the inside. The two halves communicate through the half-inch of glass wirelessly, but Verizon’s Jack said that the connection technology used there was the “secret sauce” of the design and he wouldn’t tell me exactly how it worked. Suffice to say, though, that the operator’s prototype modem functioned as advertised; Verizon was able to transmit a 28 GHz 5G signal from a transmitter to a receiver on the outside of the window, and then through the window to the internet port on the inside. Jack said the demo supported speeds up to 1.2 Gbps, but he noted that Verizon’s eventual 5G service would likely support much faster speeds than that.

So, why is this new solution important? Verizon is hoping to use its 5G Technology Forum network specifications, developed with Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung, for a fixed wireless service in the 28 and 39 GHz bands. The company hopes to launch commercial service next year. Importantly, Verizon wants to make sure that users can install their own equipment for the service, because it’s a lot cheaper for Verizon to just mail a customer a 5G modem and have them attach it to their own window rather than have a Verizon technician install some kind of antenna on the outside of that home, office or apartment building.

Verizon has said it is testing its fixed 5G service in 11 markets around the country. If those tests are successful, Verizon could significantly increase its internet footprint beyond what it can serve today with its wired Fios service. Further, Verizon would also be able to challenge a range of existing wired internet players, like cable and telco providers, with a fixed 5G service—as long as Verizon can figure out a way of getting its millimeter-wave 5G signals from its towers to end users’ locations.

To be clear, though, Verizon’s new two-part 5G prototype modem is just one potential solution, and the design might not make its way into Verizon’s eventual commercial product. Or it might only be used in locations where UV window coating is common, like in the Southwest.

Further, UV coating on windows isn’t the only obstacle Verizon and other 5G providers need to overcome in the years ahead. Signals in the millimeter-wave bands (typically those around 28 GHz and above) in some cases have trouble passing through foliage and rain; they also don’t travel nearly as far geographically as traditional cellular services can.

Verizon’s Jack acknowledged that the carrier still has a number of problems to overcome in order to make its fixed 5G service a reality. However, he pointed out that Verizon’s two-part modem is a potential solution to a major obstacle in the race to 5G, and a further indication that the industry continues to apply its considerable engineering wherewithal to making 5G a reality. In talking to Jack, a soft-spoken engineer clearly geeking out his new prototype, it does feel like that kind of inventiveness is worth acknowledging, and maybe even celebrating a little.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

So how many 5G base stations are going to be installed?

The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) announced 4G networks accounted for half of the 5.9 million base stations deployed across the country at the end-of June.

With 2.99 million 4G base stations in the mainland, China’s big three mobile operators certainly account for the lion’s share of the global 4G total – more than 40 per cent according to some analysts. But determining a precise percentage proved to be a challenge for Mobile World Live (MWL).

Phil Marshall, chief research officer at Tolaga Research, estimates the global number of base stations at 6.5 million sites, while Chinese equipment vendor Huawei puts the number at 7 million. Obviously China hasn’t deployed nearly all of the world’s base stations. Sites vs sectors The confusion arises from how you define base station. It seems CAICT, and China’s operators, are counting “logical” sites or sectors, while others use the more narrow definition by including only physical sites.

A physical site might house three to four logical sectors, and each can be counted as a “base station”. For example, a China Unicom base station supports GSM900, GSM1800, WCDMA2100 and LTE.
Most of the equipment is deployed in the same room at one physical site, but there are four bands, so there are four logical sites, a Huawei representative said. “We estimate 7 million physical base stations worldwide, but the number of logical sites would be considerably higher,” he said.
For the record, the number of 4G base stations China’s operators reported at end-June was significantly higher than CAICT’s total. China Mobile had 1.65 million, China Telecom 1.05 million and China Unicom 770,000, for a grand total of at 3.47 million.

China Mobile plans to add another 120,000 4G base stations in H2, while China Telecom said it will deploy another 110,000 by year-end. Marshall told MWL: “Given that China Tower has about 1 million towers, I cannot imagine how China could have more than 1.5 million 4G sites.

This is further supported by the fact that there are about 885 million 4G subs in China. We normally work on a ratio of between 500 and 1,500 subscribers per unique site depending on market conditions.”

By either measure, China is the global leader by a long shot, with no country having anywhere close to half the number of 4G sites or sectors.

At last! Pre-standard 5G arrives in Berlin

Deutsche Telekom and Huawei launched a pre-standard 5G network in central Berlin, a move the companies described as creating Europe’s first 5G connection.

In a joint statement, the companies said the connection used the latest 3GPP specifications to deliver a 2Gb/s connection over a 3.7GHz spectrum link. It will enable wide area applications and improve indoor coverage. The network uses a pre-5G technology based on standards being developed for non-standalone New Radio.

The network uses 4G LTE as a base while 5G NR technology provides improved data rates and reduces latency. Deutsche Telkom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn said: “With this real-world achievement, Deutsche Telekom is making its first important step towards a 5G network launch.
When the standard is defined, we will trial it in 2018 to prepare the ground for a wider deployment of commercial sites and the offering of devices for the mass market as they become available.”

The deployment is one of a number of networks being rolled-out around the world based on pre-standardised 5G technology. Results from many of these early trials or limited area networks are helping operators develop their 5G strategies and technology ahead of an anticipated commercial launch in 2020.