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.