Sunday, 23 July 2017

Rural Small Cells: An end user story


At the end of a recent seminar on small cells (without mentioning any details) someone from the organising team asked me (as they know me well), "we keep on hearing that small cells can make a huge difference but when will it start making that difference?". I am glad to say that I can share one such video that shows how small cells are making huge differences.

I am cross posting this video from Parallel Wireless Blog. This is a story of a couple, who are both retired doctors based in a village near Halifax in England, UK.


There are many other similar stories that we have come across, not just in UK but many other countries where rural small cells are making huge differences in communities by not only providing connectivity but also by making quality of life much better.

According to this ITU report, 53% of the world’s population is still offline, with the majority located in Africa and Asia-Pacific. This means there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to #ConnectTheUnconnected

*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Senior Director, Strategic Marketing. This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and expresses my own views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. Anyone who knows me well would know this.

Monday, 17 July 2017

AeroMobile Equips 100th 3.5G Connected Aircraft powered by ip.access

Picture Source: EX-YU Aviation News

AeroMobile provides connectivity to over 500 planes and 100 of them are now 3.5G connected. This milestone was announced by their parent company Panasonic recently. IP.Access also celebrated their 10 years partnership with AeroMobile recently.

Note that the picture above is from a slightly older technology as it shows support for Edge while the newer technology supports HSDPA. It basically shows how the in-flight connectivity works.

As your mobile is roaming via satellite connectivity, most operators will charge you a premium for the service. From UK, you are looking at 50 pence per text message and £5 per MB, etc. Hopefully someday when the wholesale satellite connectivity costs will come down, you might see more people using this service.

On the other hand, in-flight Wi-Fi is comparably cheaper but not very much. Last week I used Virgin Atlantic to travel to/from USA; the in-flight Wi-Fi costs were:
WiFi light for just £4.99 and you'll have 40MB of data, ideal for those who want to chat to friends, update their social media or spend a little time browsing. If you want to spend more time online, WiFi max for £14.99 includes 150MB of data.
Hopefully in the next few years, these costs will come down.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Small Cells are growing in India

Its been a long time since I looked at small cells (femtocells) in India. Things have changed significantly in these last 8 years. India now has second highest number of mobile phone users (1.2 billion), just after China. Free and cheap data has given rise to consumers who want to do more on their phones than just call and WhatsApp.
I recently came across a presentation by Paul Senior, Airspan in UK Spectrum Policy Forum workshop on Spectrum Sharing in 3.8 - 4.2GHz Band. This presentation provides interesting insight into Reliance Jio Small cells deployment and also provides much more details of the Sprint MagicBox.

The presentation is embedded below:



Sunday, 2 July 2017

Huawei Lampsite 3.0

Huawei Lampsite post has been the most popular post on this blog. Hence its about time I add more up to date info on this product.

According to this ThinkSmallCell post:

Huawei, which has already seen a lot of success with its Lampsite 2.0 product, announced a version 3.0 at MWC this year. It was already possible to separately associate the independent radios at each radio head with a different network operator, using the same physical equipment to serve two operators. But the limitation had been that the operator had already approved and installed Huawei as one of their existing RAN vendors.

One of the big differences with Lampsite 3.0 is that it can also accept RF inputs from external basestations, so you could connect an Ericsson or Nokia (or third party Small Cell). Each RF node is capable of sharing up to 240MHz of RF bandwidth across up to four bands, easily catering for multi-operator, multi-mode and multi-band.


According to Huawei's pres release for MWC 2017:

Huawei launched its next-generation indoor mobile broadband solution, LampSite 3.0, at this year's Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona. This award-winning solution comes complete with a suite of groundbreaking features that drive digital transformation and more fully enable the indoor digital economy, including support for on-demand concurrence of multi-band, more flexible multi-carrier aggregation, distributed MIMO, and 256 QAM.

In the past three years, LampSite 1.0 and 2.0 have seen large-scale global deployment. With the development of 4G networks, more and more stadiums, transportation hubs, shopping malls, and exhibition halls have leveraged these solutions to make huge improvements in their indoor networks. Success stories are everywhere. The Beijing Capital Airport deployed more than 2,200 LampSites in three months, and within 24 months after deployment, mobile traffic grew by a factor of 67. In the Dubai Mall, the largest shopping mall in the world, LampSite enables per-user downlink speeds over 90Mbps, a record only broke by Singapore Marina Bay Sands Hotel, which uses LTE carrier aggregation technology to reach speeds of 251Mbps.

Additionally, LampSite was chosen by Fira Gran in MWC 2016 to upgrade its DAS network in Hall 1, Hall 3 and Hall 6. Even at peak times, attendees can stream and share HD video without a second's lag. Global carriers around the world have chosen LampSite to maximize their indoor broadband performance.

From LampSite 1.0 and 2.0, to today's 3.0, Huawei has set three key initiatives in its mission to enable the indoor digital economy, which will also help carriers and enterprises accelerate the pace of their digital transformation:

Build a Better Indoor Experience: With the rapid development of mobile Internet, a variety of new services continue to emerge, such as 4K video, AR and VR. Meanwhile, the demand for better user experience continues to grow. LampSite 3.0 breaks through a series of key RF technology bottlenecks to provide better indoor experience. By supporting multi-band concurrent signals, more flexible multi-carrier aggregation, distributed MIMO, 256 QAM and a host of other innovative technologies, LampSite 3.0 provides a solid user experience with speeds up to 2Gbps. Beyond speed, with dynamic capacity adjustment technology, it can easily cope with growth in traffic demand, enabling one-time deployment and long-term evolution. Compared to DAS, it can reduce cost per bit by 30% to 40%.  

Activate the Industry Ecosystem: In most cases, installation requirements for indoor networks can be strict. Governments and building owners often require one-time deployment, a collective effort between multiple carriers. This places a lot of pressure on carriers to adopt more robust, future-proof solutions. 

For the first time in the industry, LampSite 3.0 provides up to 240MHz full-bandwidth capabilities, which enables indoor digital networks to support multi-carrier sharing scenarios. Effective deployment of shared digital infrastructure like this involves greater collaboration between property owners and different industry players, but it also enables all parties to share in the digital dividends of the indoor economy. For example, this model gives enterprises, building owners and even investors the option to deploy indoor networks themselves, then lease them to operators, creating shared success across the entire industrial ecosystem. Best of all, when four carriers share the network, LampSite 3.0 leads to considerable cost savings, reducing TCO for each carrier by up to 70%.

Enable Business-to-Vertical  (B2V) Opportunities: Powered by an open digital capability platform, the LampSite solution can provide accurate indoor location services. This enables carriers to surpass traditional B2C and B2B service boundaries with an immense range of vertical applications, such as intelligent shopping malls and intelligent airports. In addition to high-precision indoor cellular positioning, LampSite 3.0 enables indoor IoT, big data and other technological innovations, helping open doors to an endless array of B2V fields. 


Many vendors are now pushing for Neutral Host solutions and Huawei is no exception. As I have mentioned in my other post, network sharing will be very important for 5G and many operators are already exploring neutral host solutions.

According to another ThinkSmallCells post:

Huawei Lampsite 3.0 is a distributed radio system which supports four radio heads per remote node, and adds the capability to feed the system from an external basestation (which could be a Nokia or Ericsson), thus making it more like a multi-operator DAS solution. There is also a “Lite” version for individual shops or restaurants.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Nokia Kuha: Community-run Small Cells


In a recent presentation at Small Cells World Summit, Mansoor Hanif – Director of Converged Networks Research Lab mentioned about Kuha, community run small cells in Isle of Harris. There is very little information on Kuha available online.


The Pitch OPEN website provides the following info: Kuha is the Nokia solution for connecting the unconnected – that means the 30% of the world population living without Mobile Internet. Kuha helps network operators to extend their service to communities that have so far not been connected because of the high cost of base station deployments.


kuha.io has more details on how it works but surprisingly not much mention of Nokia. All it says is "We're a team of 5 entrepreneurs with years of telco experience. We are currently developing the product, studying the market and connecting the world, one internet connection at a time."

Finally, this tweet above has just a little bit more info on this topic.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Temporary masts for festivals, events, etc.


I really enjoyed watching couple of video's from Peter Clarke of temporary masts that are installed at events like Glastonbury festival and other high profile events.  They are both embedded below:




If you enjoyed, check out more videos like these on his Youtube channel here.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Small Cell Forum Awards 2017 Winners


The Small Cells Forum (SCF) Awards 2017 were recently held as part of Small Cells World Summit. The Small Cell Industry Awards are a recognized badge of excellence and innovation with a panel of impartial judges – comprised of analysts, journalists and industry experts – ensure the independence and quality of the awards. Its one of the few awards that I really respect for its impartiality.

The award nominees can be viewed here and the winners are here. The photographs are available here. I have covered some of the winners as part of this blog so I am listing those posts below.

Parallel Wireless & Gilat Parallel Wireless and Gilat Connecting the Unconnected in the Outback - I wrote this post 'Small Cells to help connect Australian Outback'. There is a very good video, unfortunately cant be embedded on this news item here.

Parallel Wireless Removing Deployment Constraints of Small Cell vRAN and 5G HetNets - I have not directly covered this topic, but will do soon. This post from last year 'HetNets On The Bus' gives an idea on how the HetNet Gateway (HNG) removes deployment constraints and future proof the network. Interested readers can find more detailed info on Parallel Wireless website here.

Vodafone CrowdCell: Using Macro Radio Network to Backhaul Open-Access Small Cells - I have covered this as part of 'Small Cells at Mobile World Congress 2017' and earlier 'Vehicular CrowdCell or Vehicular Small Cell and the 5G plan'

BT & EE EE Air Mast Using Small Cells - This is my favourite as I was personally involved in this activity. I have two posts on this one. The first one is 'Flying Small Cells are here...' and the second one is 'Connecting Rural Scotland using Airmasts and Droneways'. I have to admit that this is a very ambitious project, especially the second one.

*Full Disclosure: I work for Parallel Wireless as a Solutions Architect. This blog is maintained in my personal capacity and expresses my own views, not the views of my employer or anyone else. Anyone who knows me well would know this.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Loon powered emergency networks for flood affected Peru


In the past, when earthquake and floods used to take out mobile connectivity, satellite used to be the only way forward. See here for instance for use of satellite connectivity in Nepal and Japan. I really like the Network in a backpack from Vodafone picture in that post.

Having said that, things have moved on in the last few years. In my earlier post I discussed about Telefonica's network in a box that weighs just 40 grams. This can be deployed in conjunction with a drone or a Helikite and you have a self-contained coverage. EE is taking this further and plans to connect Scotland using Airmasts and Droneways.


In the recent floods in Peru, Telefonica worked with Google Loon team to to re-connect the service and re-establish mobile communications, which are particularly crucial in such dire circumstances. According to their blog:
Telef├│nica and Project Loon brought basic Internet connectivity across more than 40,000 Km2, providing over 160 GB worth of data –enough to send and receive roughly 30 million WhatsApp messages, or 2 million emails.
The Google Loon team have their own blog posts on this topic here and here.

The picture on the top is a modified picture from Project Loon that explains how the Loon's work. Fundamentally the working is sort of the same, regardless of the technology you use. As I explained in my other post here, when you use Helikites for example and create a mesh network its similar to the Loon's using laser for connectivity between them. All technologies need backhaul to connect to the outside world and access to connect to the end user.

Further reading:



Friday, 5 May 2017

Sprint's Magic Box


Is Sprint doing Small Cells? That's a question probably asked too many times. Back in January, their COO G├╝nther Ottendorfer said the company’s small cell partners conducted a range of trials last year in order to determine fast and efficient methods to deploy small cells, a situation he said led to some misunderstandings in the market. However, he said those trials are largely behind the carrier and that he expects the carrier’s small cell efforts to expand this year.

“There was a learning process in 2016. We did a lot of trials in the beginning. We had some trials that led to misunderstandings, when you have a lot of boxes there because you were trialing different things, different—for example—transmission methods,” said Ottendorfer, Sprint’s chief operating officer for Technology, in a recent interview with FierceWireless. “But now we have streamlined the concepts and so I’m very confident that with streamlined and very elegant small cell solutions we will have a good rollout this year.”

They again mentioned about their small cells commitment at MWC. Finally this week, they announced the Magic Box.

Sprint has billed it as "World’s First All-Wireless Small Cell". This is a point where I would disagree with them, mainly for two reasons.The first being that for an all-wireless claim, they have to get wireless power to the small cell and secondly, this has already been done for a while. I have explained about In-band backhaul here and have provided examples of how Parallel Wireless has been using this for a while.

The Magic Box is made by Airspan and is 4G/LTE only in band 41 (2500 MHz TD-LTE). One of these units provide an average coverage of 30,000 square feet indoors and can benefit adjacent Sprint customers inside the building. The signal can also extend coverage 100 meters outside a building, benefiting customers in nearby buildings and improving street–level network performance. It does not use the closed subscriber group (CSG) feature hence anyone can camp on it and use it.


Sprint has a large amount of 2.5GHz spectrum available, as a result they are able to use dedicated spectrum for the Magic Box. This ensures that interference is kept to minimum. They also announced the availability of HPUE that will allow this band reach to improve. See my blog post here for details.

“It’s a far cry from just a repeater,” he said, explaining that it improves the efficiency of the network as long as it has a good connection to the macro cell. It will work with any Sprint phones using 2.5 GHz. The backhaul channel uses 2.5 GHz or 1.9 GHz, but ideally it would use 2.5 GHz because that offers a lot more capacity.

The Magic Box includes self-organizing network (SON) capabilities and operates on its own channel in Sprint’s spectrum, allowing it to decrease the noise level and increase the capacity of the overall system, which is the big difference from repeaters, explained Sprint Technology COO Guenther Ottendorfer.

Some of the details I couldn't find but hopefully some of the readers would know and can answer are:
  • Whats the power output of these small cells?
  • I am assuming they will support VoLTE calling for voice - even though generally that feature is transparent to small cells?
  • Does the small cell radiate a single 20MHz channel?
  • Does the backhaul do carrier aggregation?

Further Reading:

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Telefonica's LTE Nano Small Cell

The popularity of drones and balloons have made it possible to try and come up with innovative solutions for providing connectivity, surveillance and many other use cases. I have talked in detail about the UK operator EE's attempt to use Airmasts (which are now called E.M.M.A. - Emergency Mobile Mast Aid) and connect rural Scotland using Drones and Helikites.


In my Small Cells at MWC report, I talked about how there were many operators, vendors, etc. showing different things they were doing with drones and recently in my posts talked about Verizon's 'flying cell-site' and AT&T's 'Flying COWs'.

I only looked briefly at Telefonica's announcement about the LTE Nano.

From the press release:

This innovation, an evolution of the former project “LTE in a Box” presented at the MWC2015 that brought all the benefits of private critical LTE communications to the corporate world, will allow to bring the same advantages to new scenarios where small scale, low consumption and portability are paramount.  LTE Nano runs on a 40 grams SBC (Single Board Computer), on a Quad Core Cortex™-A53 processor and 2GB of RAM.

For the LTE Nano Project, Telef├│nica has integrated several components, one of the most essential being the EdgeCentrix virtual Enhanced Packet Core (vEPC) solution from Quortus, one of the most efficient and scalable software implementations of a mobile network functionality, able to run the essential elements of both 4G and 3G networks, including voice and data communications, with minimum HW requirements.

The most eye catching use of LTE Nano is for the rescue teams. An autonomous and portable LTE solution in a backpack, providing critical LTE communications in isolated places with no pre-existing coverage and difficult Access.


A drone with an LTE enabled camera transmitting video.
In addition, LTE Nano could be used to access retail intranets, though apps could do this job much better I think and
private LTE communications for small offices. Here I remain to be convinced that this scenario will not be superseded by WiFi calling, etc.

All these scenarios include the well-known Quality of Service provided by LTE networks in licensed spectrum which guarantee the absence of interferences and the security of communications, typical characteristics of regulated environments.

The presentation on LTE Nano is available here and a video from MWC is below (in Spanish):



Related posts: