Tuesday, 27 December 2016

5G infrastructure and Spectrum allocation

The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has blasted the level of coverage achieved with 4G and urged early action to deploy 5G more effectively. The organisation’s report particularly highlighted the role small cells will play in providing good services in urban areas, and on roads and railways, where the NIC says cellular coverage is “frankly appalling”.

It has also looked further ahead and suggested new approaches to 5G spectrum allocation and usage, in order to open the market to hundreds of new service providers, supporting localized or specialized services. If adopted, these proposals would create a far more open landscape for 5G – but these big ideas should not be allowed to obscure the fact that 5G is not necessary to provide mobile broadband connectivity to the whole population.

It is clearly essential that the “digital deserts” identified by the study are addressed and that the UK moves up the rankings in terms of 4G availability (it currently lies below far poorer economies like Albania, and countries with far more challenging size and terrain, like Peru). But the emphasis on 5G, in the report but also in the media and public discussion after its publication, is misplaced.

This is a coverage issue, and excellent coverage is very achievable with 4G, as other countries in the report’s international league table showed – for consumers at least, though deep penetration for some Internet of Things applications may require new spectrum and access point choices. Small cells will be essential to remove these deserts, bringing coverage cost-effectively to remote areas, as well as roads and railways, while adding capacity in areas of high usage.

The NIC predicts that tens of thousands of small cells will be needed in urban areas to support 5G services, and calls for these networks, as well as roadside and trackside connectivity, to be in place by 2025. Coverage and 5G are two separate issues with different solutions But this is not a 5G issue, even if that label is necessary to generate headlines, and perhaps government interest. Better coverage for passengers and rural communities, and better quality of service in areas of high usage, are achievable now, using current technologies. Entering an international race to be the "first to 5G" is a red herring.

The UK government does not need to emulate South Korea or Japan – its priority should be to deliver universal, predictable and good quality mobile coverage to all its citizens and visitors. That means creating the environment in which the mobile operators can achieve this and still make a profit. That is eminently possible using currently available small cell technologies for 4G and, in some cases, 3G.

Examples round the world show operators improving coverage dramatically, and affordably, using 3G or LTE small cells. Some of these examples are in the countries which are highlighted as being ahead of the UK in mobile broadband availability – not just the 5G trendsetters like Japan, but nations like Peru or Colombia.

The barrier to ubiquitous coverage is not technology – it is logistical. To deploy cells in large numbers in cities, or in remote areas, simplified processes are needed to acquire sites (often ideal municipal locations like lamp posts); to secure equipment approvals; and to deploy and manage the sites physically. National and local government can facilitate this with a stringent review of the regulations for deploying small cells, to accelerate build-out and reduce cost of ownership.

The NIC report points to this, calling on local authorities to work with operators to enable small cell networks, and also to amend regulations to lower barriers to entry for new service providers, which might have a different business model for challenging commercial environments like remote communities.

A streamlined framework to deploy small cells rapidly and cheaply would result in a dramatic improvement in coverage without having to wait for 5G. Indeed, there is a risk that, by holding out for 5G, the UK will fall even further behind. 5G networks will certainly be based on small cells, probably at a new level of density, but those should be planned to support new services, not as the solution to current coverage challenges which can be addressed today.

The importance of shared spectrum In another recent proposal to the UK government, the British Infrastructure Group – a cross-party group of members of parliament - proposed compulsory roaming for all MNOs in rural areas, a suggestion which the operators have opposed vociferously. Small cell vendor ip.access is leading the push behind and alternative approach focused around spectrum sharing.

In a statement in response to the BIG report "Mobile Coverage: A good call for Britain?", ip.access CEO Malcolm Gordon said: “The BIG report identifies 17m UK customers who experience poor reception at home and 525 areas with non-existent mobile coverage. We recognise the importance of this issue, and strongly believe that regulators and operators should commit to supporting shared spectrum as the most effective approach to connecting the unconnected in rural communities.”

The company argues that a shared spectrum system, like a shared macro RAN, would present fewer technical challenges than localized roaming, because standards exist; would reduce capex and opex and so improve a difficult business case for the MNO; would still offer a choice of services to consumers and allow each MNO to manage and monetize its own subscribers; and preserve the first mover advantage for any operator which chooses to invest in the network (an MNO or potentially a neutral host third party), because they can reserve some capacity for their exclusive use.

Radical proposals for spectrum Another important enabler of better coverage will be spectrum sharing and neutral host or shared networks – especially to improve the economics of rural deployment, and the logistics of rolling out small cells in dense areas where more than one physical network would be hard to achieve.

Other recommendations were that any future Ofcom spectrum decisions should: support community or small provider solutions for underserved areas allow niche or localized providers to access new 5G spectrum rather than sticking to national licences alone open access to spectrum for enterprises, universities and others to use within their own buildings – even licensed spectrum where there are no interference risks The third point would enable multiple wireless service provider approaches, including self-provision in the Internet of Things and robotics.

More generally, the recommendations would open up a wholly new approach to the wireless market, which could set interesting precedents for other countries. Moving away from a model based on operator-owned spectrum and long, exclusive and national licences is already happening with developments like LTE-LAA and MuLTEfire, as well as other shared or dynamic spectrum ideas.

But regulatory change will have to be radical, in the UK and elsewhere, to fulfil the real potential of 5G, to support large numbers of service providers, many of them industry-specific or regionally localized, which can go beyond a traditional MVNO and control their own spectrum and "sub-nets". This aspect of the NIC report was largely missed in the media debate, but is far more radical than its approach to the more urgent, but far simpler, issue of coverage for humans and smartphones, as opposed to all those unpredictable "things".

It remains to be seen whether Ofcom and the UK government choose to be trailblazers in the move towards flexible, virtualized 5G networks and slicing. In the meantime, they should not use 5G as an excuse to delay bringing decent 4G availability to the whole UK population.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Finally IEEE steps into the fray.

IEEE is calling on global industry leaders, policymakers and academia to coalesce in a neutral forum to move 5G forward. The purpose of the IEEE 5G Initiative is to engage professionals worldwide to work toward solving the challenges associated with 5G and lay the foundation to realize its many opportunities, according to the organization.

Volunteers from both industry and academia are being sought as several working groups are being established. “5G is not only evolutionary, providing higher bandwidth and lower latency than current-generation technology; more importantly, 5G is revolutionary, in that it is expected to enable fundamentally new applications with much more stringent requirements in latency and bandwidth," said Ashutosh Dutta, co-chair of the 5G initiative and lead member of the technical staff at AT&T, in a press release.

“5G should help solve the last-mile/last-kilometer problem and provide broadband access to the next billion users on earth at much lower cost because of its use of new spectrum and its improvements in spectral efficiency.” The other co-chair, Gerhard Fettweis, who serves as senior research scientist at the International Computer Science Institute and as Vodafone chair professor at TU Dresden in Germany, said in the release that the Tactile Internet will be faster than the speed of light.

“The IEEE 5G Initiative is convening the vast breadth of IEEE resources in its members around the globe and new participants to realize targets like one terabyte per second WiFi and 10 Gigabit per second cellular by 2025; one millisecond latency rate; and 25 bytes every 100 seconds for 10 years from a AAA battery.”

Working groups are focused around activities like the 5G Roadmap project, which will identify short (~3 years), midterm (~5 years), and long-term (~10 years) research, innovation and technology trends in the communications ecosystem for the purpose of establishing a living document with a clear set of recommendations, IEEE said.

RELATED: IEEE wants to collaborate with 3GPP on 5G

While the 5G Initiative is new, IEEE’s interest in 5G is not new. The chairman of the IEEE 802 Local and Metropolitan Area Network Standards Committee (LMSC) sent a letter to 3GPP last fall in an effort to collaborate and more formally establish a relationship around 5G. Paul Nikolich, chairman of the LMSC, sent the letter to 3GPP PCG Chair Zhiqin Wang with a detailed proposal on how the two groups could work together, with IEEE suggesting the two begin collaboration by developing a common understanding of the role of interworking with IEEE 802 networks in meeting the IMT-2020 requirements.

Even though they have different styles toward creating standards—3GPP achieves consensus by companies while the 802 community does it based on individuals—there’s a history of them working together on issues like LAA, where a combination of licensed and unlicensed spectrum bands are designed to be used

5G implies small cells

The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has blasted the level of coverage achieved with 4G and urged early action to deploy 5G more effectively.

The organisation’s report particularly highlighted the role small cells will play in providing good services in urban areas, and on roads and railways, where the NIC says cellular coverage is “frankly appalling”.

It has also looked further ahead and suggested new approaches to 5G spectrum allocation and usage, in order to open the market to hundreds of new service providers, supporting localized or specialized services.

If adopted, these proposals would create a far more open landscape for 5G – but these big ideas should not be allowed to obscure the fact that 5G is not necessary to provide mobile broadband connectivity to the whole population.

We think it is clearly essential that the “digital deserts” identified by the study are addressed and that the UK moves up the rankings in terms of 4G availability (it currently lies 54th, well below far poorer economies like Albania, and countries with far more challenging size and terrain, like Peru). But the emphasis on 5G, in the report but also in the media and public discussion after its publication, is misplaced.

This is a coverage issue, and excellent coverage is very achievable with 4G, as other countries in the report’s international league table showed – for consumers at least, though deep penetration for some Internet of Things (IoT) applications may require new spectrum and access point choices.

We believe that Small cells will be essential to remove these deserts, bringing coverage cost-effectively to remote areas, as well as roads and railways, while adding capacity in areas of high usage. The NIC predicts that tens of millions or is it thousands of small cells will be needed in urban areas to support 5G services, and calls for these networks, as well as roadside and trackside connectivity, are to be in place by 2025.

Coverage and 5G are two separate issues with different solutions.

But this is clearly not a 5G issue, even if that label is necessary to generate headlines in the press, and perhaps would gain government interest. Better coverage for passengers and rural communities, and better quality of service in areas of high usage, are achievable now, using current technologies.

Entering an international race to be the "first to 5G" is definitely a red herring. The UK government does not need to emulate South Korea or Japan – its priority should be to simply deliver universal, predictable and good quality mobile coverage to all its citizens and visitors.

That means creating the environment in which the mobile operators can achieve this and still make a profit. That is eminently possible using currently available small cell technologies for 4G and, in some cases, 3G. Examples round the world show operators improving coverage dramatically, and more affordably, using 3G or LTE 4G small cells.

Some of these examples are in the countries which are highlighted as being ahead of the UK in mobile broadband availability – not just the 5G trendsetters like Japan, but nations like Peru or Colombia. The barrier to ubiquitous coverage is not technology – it is logistical.

To deploy small cells in large numbers in cities, or in remote areas, simplified processes are needed to acquire sites (often municipal locations like lamp posts); to secure equipment approvals; and to deploy and manage the sites physically.

National and local government can facilitate this with a stringent review of the regulations for deploying small cells, to accelerate build-out and dramatically reduce cost of ownership.

The NIC report points to this, calling on local authorities to work with operators to enable small cell networks, and also to amend regulations to lower barriers to entry for new service providers, which might have a different business model for challenging commercial environments like remote communities. A streamlined framework to deploy small cells rapidly and cheaply would result in a dramatic improvement in coverage without having to wait for 5G.

Indeed, there is a huge, largely uncalculated risk that, by holding out for 5G, the UK will fall even further behind. 5G networks will certainly be based on multiple Mimo small cells, probably at a new level of density, but those should be planned to support new services, not as the solution to current coverage challenges which can be addressed today.

The importance of shared spectrum is key.

In another recent proposal to the UK government, the British Infrastructure Group – a cross-party group of members of parliament - proposed compulsory roaming for all MNOs in rural areas, a suggestion which the operators have opposed vociferously.

Small cell vendor "ip.access" is leading the push behind an alternative approach focused around spectrum sharing.

In a recent statement in response to the BIG report "Mobile Coverage: A good call for Britain?", ip.access CEO Malcolm Gordon said: “The BIG report identifies 17m UK customers who experience poor reception at home and 525 areas with non-existent mobile coverage. We recognise the importance of this issue, and strongly believe that regulators and operators should commit to supporting shared spectrum as the most effective approach to connecting the unconnected in rural communities.”

The company argues that a shared spectrum system, like a shared macro RAN, would present fewer technical challenges than localized roaming, because standards already exist; would reduce capex and opex and so improve a difficult business case for the MNO; would still offer a choice of services to consumers and allow each MNO to manage and monetize its own subscribers; and preserve the first mover advantage for any operator which chooses to invest in the network (an MNO or potentially a neutral host third party), because they can reserve some capacity for their exclusive use.

Radical proposals for spectrum emerge.

Another important enabler of better coverage will be spectrum sharing and neutral host or shared networks – especially to improve the economics of rural deployment, and the logistics of rolling out small cells in dense areas where more than one physical network would be hard to achieve.

Other recommendations were that any future Ofcom spectrum decisions should: support community or small provider solutions for underserved areas that allow niche or localized providers to access new 5G spectrum rather than sticking to national licences alone.

We need open access to spectrum for enterprises, universities and others to use within their own buildings – even licensed spectrum where there are no interference risks.

The third point would enable multiple wireless service provider approaches, including self-provision in the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. More generally, the recommendations would open up a wholly new approach to the wireless market, which could set interesting precedents for other countries.

Moving right away from a model based on operator-owned spectrum and long, exclusive and national licences is already happening with developments like LTE-LAA and MuLTEfire, as well as other shared or dynamic spectrum ideas.

That means regulatory change will have to be radical, in the UK and elsewhere, to fulfil the real potential of 5G, to support large numbers of service providers, many of them industry-specific or regionally localized, which can go beyond a traditional MVNO and control their own spectrum and "sub-nets".

This aspect of the NIC report was largely missed in the media debate, but is far more radical than its approach to the more urgent, but far simpler, issue of coverage for humans and smartphones, as opposed to all those unpredictable "things".

It remains to be seen whether Ofcom and the UK government choose to be trailblazers in the move towards flexible, virtualized 5G networks and slicing. In the meantime, they should not be seen to use 5G as an excuse to delay bringing decent 4G availability to the whole UK population.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

UK National Infrastructure Commission on 5G cites woes with poor 4G coverage

Blighty has worse 4G coverage than that of Albania, Panama and Peru, according to a major report by the National Infrastructure Commission on 5G and telecommunication technology. The report, found that Britain is 54th in the world for 4G, with the typical user only able to access 4G about 53 per cent of the time. It said there are far too many digital deserts and partial not-spots, even within UK city centres. It recommended that regulator Ofcom ensure that "essential outdoor mobile services – such as basic talk, text and data - are available wherever we live, work and travel." The government has already pledged to introduce a universal service obligation of 10Mbps by 2020 for both fixed and mobile connectivity. But the report recommended that a mobile-specific USO should be introduced by 2025 so that consumers can access essential services "where they are needed." The Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, Lord Adonis, warned the UK "is currently languishing in the digital slow lane." He said: "Britain is 54th in the world for 4G coverage, and the typical user can only access 4G barely half the time.

The UK's 4G network is worse than those of Romania and Albania, Panama and Peru. "Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts and even our city centres are plagued by not-spots where connectivity is impossible. That isn’t just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce." However, some of those concerns are intended to be addressed by the government's controversial Emergency Services Network programme. The project intends to increase 4G connectivity across the country in order to shove the emergency services on to a 4G network. Currently 70 % of the UK's landmass is covered by British mobile operator EE's 4G network, which the government hopes to increase to 97 %
by 2020.

The NIC was created by former chancellor, George Osborne, to advise the government on the UK's infrastructure such as transport, telecommunications, energy and utilities. Adonis called on the government to "act now" to ensure major transport networks and urban centres are 5G-ready to give British industry "every chance to lead the world in exploiting its applications." The future standards and spectrum for 5G have yet to be agreed upon. However, chancellor Philip Hammond set aside a £740m investment fund in his budget last month for the technology. Adonis said that while 5G was important, the current mobile network needs to be brought up to speed. "The existing system does not provide the level of coverage we will need in our connected future. We need a new universal service obligation which ensures that the mobile essentials – like text, talk and data – are available to us wherever we need them

Monday, 19 December 2016

It’s all in the details when it comes to understanding 5G field trials!

The fact that 5G tests and trials are going on all over the United States and the world should be encouraging to all of us. Problem is, for some of us, the results all start to run together, like a stream of ones and zeros without any real standouts.

Turns out, it’s not that easy to point to specific 2016 trials that triggered a collective “Wow, that’s amazing!” across the industry. There is general agreement that achievements in speed and latency are impressive, but those tend to be all over the place as well: 1 gigabit per second and above here, 14 Gbps to a single user there. There’s been demonstration of data speeds of more than 2.5 Gbps with a mobile device and moving vehicle, and Ericsson and Telia achieved peak data rates of 15 Gbps and latency of less than 3 milliseconds. But after a while, it all just starts to run together and lose meaning. Part of the problem in deciphering what’s what is you need to know exactly what took place.

“It’s all the details that are really important here: what spectrum was used, how much, what air interface, base station architecture, etc.,” said Peter Jarich, VP of consumer and infrastructure services at Current Analysis.

Of course, these are the very details that vendors and operators like to keep close to their vest. And there’s no shame there; this is a hypercompetitive industry, and people are going to be very careful about what and how much they reveal about what they’re doing, even as the industry tries to write the standards for what everybody ultimately wants to be doing. Plenty of people want to talk about speeds, but how impressive are these speeds when you’re doing tests and trials in a spectrum that is wide open? Often the trials we hear about are not being done in dense, urban areas. And as for latency, how low do you go? That seems to be closely tied to use cases, which need to be identified and better explained.

Notably, in boasting about his own company’s achievements and plans for 5G, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray called Verizon’s grand vision to compete as a fixed broadband player a “double yawn.” Verizon deserves serious kudos for all it has achieved and continues to do with fixed wireless, yet I can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t sound a heck of a lot like what the old AT&T tried to do with Project Angel way back in the day. Sprint CTO, John Saw, was asked about that since he was part of the team working on Angel before we even heard of WiMAX, and he affirmed that much of what we are talking about today is along those same concepts.

Back then, it was about putting pizza box-sized dishes on the sides of people’s houses in order to offer high-speed internet and phone services and take on the big established wired phone companies. Now it sounds a lot like that, only wireless companies are talking about taking on the established cable companies, which in turn want to increasingly play in the wireless space.

Go figure. As for a few of the more impressive trials, it’s probably no surprise that one announced at Mobile World Congress 2016 in February still stands out to some analysts like Daryl Schoolar at Ovum.

Good old Samsung talked about how it had concluded a series of fixed wireless 5G tests delivering multi-gigabit per second speeds at Verizon’s Basking Ridge, New Jersey, headquarters, including live streaming of 360-degree virtual reality content using Samsung Gear VR. During the trial, Samsung also showed off 4K UHD video content transmission over the air while in a moving vehicle using automatic beamforming multiple-input and multiple-output (MIMO) technology. Interestingly, Alok Shah, VP of strategy, business development and marketing at Samsung’s networks division in Richardson, Texas, stated all that in the 2013-2014 timeframe, Samsung really felt it was important to push the envelope around speed, and it was able to demonstrate 7.5 Gbps in a stationary environment in 2014 in what was then deemed the fastest-ever 5G data transmission rate. It also achieved an uninterrupted and stable connection at 1.2 Gbps in a mobile environment from a vehicle traveling more than 60 mph. Once that was demonstrated, Samsung’s team kind of pivoted—they’d already been heavily into 5G R&D for a few years by this time—and started to think more about the path to commercialization. More recently, Samsung has done a lot of testing and demonstration around other pieces of millimeter wave technology that are necessary to actually reach the commercialization stage. “Throughput and data speeds are kind of nice headlines, but at the end of the day, the path to market and the path to commercialization requires that we figure out all these other factors, and we feel comfortable that we’ve already validated the speed question,” Shah said. It’s also important to remember that 5G will require a lot of small cells and getting the miniaturization and economics to pencil out will be key so that gear can fit on street “furniture” wherever it’s installed.

Miniaturization tends to be a gradual process and much can be expected to happen in that area before the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February 2018. Samsung has been a long-time collaborator with educational institutions like NYU Wireless, which also has done important work in millimeter wave, which will be one critical component of 5G. This past summer, Ted Rappaport, NYU Tandon professor and founding director of NYU Wireless, and his team conducted research outside his mountain home in Riner, Virginia, using the 73 GHz band, where they were able to cover remarkable distances—something that even they were surprised to be able to show.

Another achievement of particular interest was Ericsson and China Mobile’s ability to show the world’s first 5G-enabled drone prototype, where a drone was flown using the operator’s cellular network with 5G-enabled technologies with handovers across multiple sites. Conducted in Wuxi, in China’s Jiangsu province, it was impressive not only because it involved drones but also included handover, multi-use networks and low latency due to edge computing.

And there’s a lot here that will be important going forward, Jarich said. Building on some of their previous work, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and Huawei conducted an autonomous end-to-end network slicing implementation to add dynamic and real-time slicing of the 5G radio access network (RAN) and data center, as well the interconnecting transmission network. That demo, conducted in Deutsche Telekom’s 5G:haus lab based in Bonn, Germany, shows how different network slices can be created automatically in an optimized way on a shared RAN, core and transport network.

Everyone knows network slicing will be critical in 5G, but if setting up slices is super time consuming or only touch one part of the network, that’s a problem, Jarich said. “Touching the RAN, core and transport networks is a different story—and what we have here,” he said According to Joe Madden, principal analyst at Mobile Experts, significant progress was made during 2016 in mobility testing and validation of Massive MIMO in the field.

Samsung has done some leading tests of mobility using a 28 GHz link and Huawei has “leaped ahead of other vendors” with deployment of Massive MIMO in LTE networks, proving the real-world benefit of Massive MIMO prior to deployment of 5G, he said. As for the next challenges that need to be addressed, Madden said there’s been anticipation of some problems with heat dissipation in 28 GHz radios that transmit 60+ Watts of power.

“The efficiency of amplifiers at 28 GHz make this a challenging hardware problem … so we’re hoping to see some demonstrations of high power transmitters without air conditioners during 2017". Generally speaking, testing 5G as a mobile application has been done, but it’s taken place in an open area. Mobile handover performance in a crowded urban environment has not yet been demonstrated, and of course, the urban environment is key for the 5G business scenario," he said.

With any luck, in the coming year we’ll hear a lot more detail about what operators are experiencing as they gain more understanding about exactly what can and can’t be done in millimeter wave spectrum, as well as how it will dovetail with low- and mid-band spectrum.

HitchHike WiFi

Harvesting electromagnetic energy from thin air to develop self-sustaining Internet of Things (IoT) communications may become reality thanks to a new technology called HitchHike. The goal is to reduce the need for continual maintenance of the expected billions of IoT installations. Researchers say they’re close to the finish line. Worst case scenario, they say they’ll be able to get Wi-Fi chips to run for 10 years on the same, small battery.

“HitchHike is the first self-sufficient Wi-Fi system that enables data transmission using just micro-watts of energy, almost zero,” claims Pengyu Zhang, a Stanford researcher, in a recent press release from the school. Existing commodity infrastructure working with a harvesting technique called “backscatter” signals is behind the researchers' work to achieving Wi-Fi efficiency for IoT.

Backscattering is the term used for the creation of new signals quaffed from gathered, ambient radio waves, such as existing television. Those radio signals, prevalent anyway, are ingested and converted into new signals. It uses a kind of reflection cannibalization. The energy from the siphoned radio waves powers the new ones. In this case, the academics’ processor and radio combination equipment piggy-backs on incoming Wi-Fi signals of the kind we all use in laptop and smartphone communications. It then “translates those incoming signals to its own messages and retransmits its own data on a different Wi-Fi channel.”

The HitchHike prototype is about the size of a postage stamp and uses a coin battery. However, the researchers say they will be able to shrink that, and ultimately it will be as small as the proverbial grain of rice. The scientists say their device has a functioning range of 50 meters and will be able to message at 300 kilobits per second. IoT-oriented messaging often doesn’t need high bandwidth, just frequent sending and receiving functionality of brief commands.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

A start again or the end of an era for the UK?

5G offers the UK a chance to “start again and get ahead”, according to a new government watchdog report, which tore into the current state of 4G in the country. Published by the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the report ranked the UK as 54th in the world for 4G coverage, notably behind less developed nations including Romania, Albania and Peru. The NIC revealed a typical user was able to access the technology “barely half of the time”, and called for action to ensure the country does not face similar problems when it comes to 5G.

“Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts, and even our city centres are plagued by not spots where connectivity is impossible,” said Lord Adonis, chair of the NIC. “That isn’t just frustrating, it is holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce.” In a list of recommendations, the NIC urged the government and regulator Ofcom to develop a set of standards to determine a “mobile universal service obligation” for consumers, which should be implemented no later than 2025.

It also called for the government to become something of “digital champion” by appointing a dedicated minister, ensuring the UK’s mobile connectivity is competitive worldwide. When it comes to 5G, the watchdog called for immediate action to ensure the country is ready, with improvements required on key rail routes, major roads, and in towns and cities. “5G is the future – ultra-fast and ultra-reliable it has the potential to change our lives and our economy in ways we cannot even imagine today. But the UK is currently languishing in the digital slow lane,” added Adonis.

The chair added: “5G offers us a change to start again and get ahead. If the government acts now we can ensure our major transport networks and urban centres are 5G ready in time to give British industry every chance to lead the world in exploiting its applications

Friday, 16 December 2016

At a range of 1 mile 5G broadband reached 1.5 Gb/s

In a trial Ericsson, U.S. Cellular see 9 Gbps in 5G tests

Ericsson is hoping that the coming world of 5G can provide a much-needed lift to the mobile infrastructure market.

Ericsson and U.S. Cellular said they’ve achieved peak speeds of 9 Gbps overall and 1.5 Gbps over a mile in 5G testing in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ericsson installed 5G radios on a tower in commercial service with the regional carrier using 15 GHz spectrum through an experimental license from the FCC.

The tests were run in a variety of environmental conditions to simulate real-world usage, and the top speed was seen at a distance of 787 feet.

The companies said the tests also included next-generation technologies and strategies such as radio resource sharing, beamforming, beam tracking, peak throughput and multiuser MIMO.

“This latest trial with Ericsson demonstrates incredible 9 Gbps speeds in an environment that was close to a real-world scenario, and we look forward to collaborating with Ericsson on the development of standards for a healthy 5G ecosystem,” U.S. Cellular CTO Michael Irizarry said in a press release.

“We are committed to giving our customers the best experience with the latest technology that can enhance their lives or businesses, and a fast, high-quality network that works whenever and wherever they need it.”

Like other telecom gear vendors, Ericsson is moving aggressively in its pursuit of 5G. The company is teaming with AT&T and Intel in a business customer trial of next-generation services in Austin, Texas, and this week it said a partnership with Qualcomm and KPN had produced the first successful trial of Cat-M1 technology in Europe.

Like its rivals, Ericsson is hoping that the coming world of 5G can provide a much-needed lift to the mobile infrastructure market. Ericsson posted a $26 million loss in the third quarter due largely to waning sales in North America, and in October it announced plans to slash 3,000 jobs in its native Sweden in an effort to cut costs.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

First business customer 5G field trial run by AT&T

AT&T is leaving the lab and heading to the field with Intel in its first 5G business customer trial at an Intel office setting in Austin, Texas. It’s the first trial of its kind, according to AT&T’s knowledge, and will provide more than a gigabit per second bandwidth to let AT&T test multiple enterprise proof-of-concept use cases, including internet access, VPN, Unified Communications applications and 4K video streams, the company said in a blog post. The trial, which includes Ericsson, will showcase the potential of 5G over the 15 GHz and 28 GHz bands and shed new light on how the technology acts in a business environment. The 15 GHz band is one that Ericsson has been working with in Sweden, so it’s using the same type of prototype here in the U.S. where applicable, and the 28 GHz band is one that many operators are eyeing for initial 5G deployments. According to Tom Keathley, senior vice president, wireless network architecture and design at AT&T, it’s all about video. “The future of video is mobile. And the future of mobile is video,” he said in the blog. “Mobile video streaming continues to be a vital aspect of our 5G work, and this trial gives us an opportunity to test 4K HD video streaming across further physical distances between pieces of equipment. With our 5G and 4G LTE advancements, we expect speeds rivaling what we see from cable providers. Our path to 5G will help make this vision a reality faster.” AT&T said it has hit speeds of nearly 14 gigabits per second in 5G lab settings and now it’s going to see how it performs in the field. AT&T earlier this year was granted a three-year authority from the FCC to conduct tests at various frequencies in Austin. Rob Topol, general manager for Intel’s 5G business, told Fortune that they will be trying to force congestion into the system and test how well signals pass through trees and glass windows to bring the 5G signal inside a building. Once in the building, Intel workers will connect to 4K video streams, exchange large files, operate over virtual private networking, and generally try to stress the equipment using standard Wi-Fi. “Intel is committed to collaborating with industry leaders to develop leading technologies and solutions that expedite network readiness for the successful early roll out of 5G," Aicha Evans, corporate vice president and general manager of the Communications and Devices Group of Intel, said in the blog post. "We are excited to work with AT&T on this initial trial as we work to deliver the products and investments that will bring 5G to life." Austin, home of the Wireless Networking and Communications Group (WNCG) at the University of Texas, is a popular place for 5G trials. At the Texas Wireless Summit (TWS) this past fall, AT&T and Ericsson were part of a 5G demo that showcased millimeter wave radio access technology, including phased arrays with ultra-fast beam steering, feedback-based hybrid precoding, multi-user Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), dynamic beam tracking and beam acquisition. Similar to some other 5G tests and trials, the system operated on 800 megahertz of bandwidth.

Bringing a 5G network to market

Ligado Networks announced an agreement with GPS manufacturer Topcon, removing another barrier as it works to bring a 5G network to market. Ligado was known as LightSquared until the company rebranded in February after emerging from bankruptcy and settling interference disputes with GPS vendors Deere, Garmin and Trimble. It has also reached a similar agreement with NovAtel. The company hopes to build a next-generation network using its mid-band spectrum for use by third parties. “After months of testing, analysis and discussion, we are pleased to have reached a resolution with Topcon that provides a path forward for Ligado and ensures protection of all Topcon GNSS (global navigation satellite system) devices,” said Doug Smith, Ligado Networks’ president and chief executive officer, in a press release. “This agreement underscores our ongoing commitment to working collaboratively with companies to find solutions and is further evidence that our planned satellite and ground-based network can peacefully co-exist alongside our spectrum neighbors.” LightSquared launched in 2010 with the goal of building a wholesale nationwide LTE network that customers could use to provide their own wireless services. It inked roughly three dozen customers before the FCC proposed to indefinitely suspend a component of its conditional license to operate in the L-band, citing unresolved concerns over interference and forcing LightSquared into bankruptcy. RELATED: LightSquared rebrands as Ligado Networks but spectrum plans remain cloudy Like its agreements with other GPS companies, the Topcon deal requires both companies to coordinate on operating parameters and deployment plans as Ligado deploys its terrestrial network. The move clears another hurdle for Ligado to build a 5G network aimed at providing connectivity for IoT devices. Whether sufficient demand for another network exists is unclear, of course. Mobile network operators are hastily developing technologies specifically for IoT use cases, and vendors such as Sigfox and Ingenu are also vying for customers in that market. But Ligado’s mid-band spectrum may give it an advantage as 5G services begin to come to market over the next several years. “We are excited about ongoing opportunities to collaborate with Topcon, including exploring opportunities to build networks that enhance accuracy and reliability of positioning services,” Smith said. “This type of advanced network, the first of its kind in North America, would further position the U.S. as a leader in wireless technology and infrastructure by delivering unprecedented performance and enabling the emerging 5G and Internet of Things markets.”

The 5G spectrum auction in UK.

Communications regulator Ofcom has opened a consultation on the first tranche of its 5G spectrum auction. The consultation presents its initial thinking on how it could expand spectrum access for mobile services in the 3.6 – 3.8 GHz band, said the regulator. The band is currently used by fixed links and by satellite services for space to Earth reception. "We consider this band a high priority band for future mobile use, due to the large amount of spectrum available and the interest in this band for the rollout of future 5G services (the fifth generation of mobile connectivity technology, which is currently being developed)," it said in a statement. National regulators across Europe and industry have identified the wider 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band as a potential first 5G band. Ofcom is proposing to make 116 MHz within the 3.6 to 3.8 GHz band available for mobile and 5G services. However, as ISP Review points out, 5G technology is expected to deliver its best speeds using much higher frequencies. International 5G standards are also yet to be set and are not expected to come into force until 2017. Ofcom has promised there would be enough spectrum available for 5G networks by the time they became commercially available in 2020. The regulator is also expected to open a consultation on its delayed spectrum auction for further 4G capacity. But a number of telcos have called on the regulator to impose a 30 per cent cap on operators bidding in the next spectrum auction. That move would limit the proportion of airwaves an operator can own, and inhibit bids from EE and Vodafone. The consultation for 5G spectrum will close on by 5pm on 1 December 2016.