Saturday, 19 August 2017

KDDI to test 5G with base stations built in Street Lights

Street lamp incorporating the base station function in consideration of the landscape - by the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO)

My earlier posts with street lighting and lampposts were mainly with Philips (see here and here) and one detailed one from EE (via Andy Sutton)

In fact the picture above reminded me of this tweet:


Anyway, the new article says (translated by Google translate from Japanese):
In experiments, we used a street lamp that incorporates the base station function inside the pillar so that the antenna and the radio are not noticeable. We set up one in the parking lot adjacent to the municipal wreckage field in Yeomachiro and investigate tourist reactions on the landscape and the reach of the radio waves. The period is one year from October this year. Since the 5G base station has not yet been downsized, experiments predict the radio range using the current 4G base station.
So from what I understand (news sites here and here):

  • KDDI will be testing initially using 4G because 5G base stations are still quite big. It looks like a small cell but could be an RRH as well
  • This experiment will start in October and last a year
  • As it mentions relay, I am assuming in-band backhaul.
  • As its on a sightseeing spot, they want to see how people react to this
  • They will also examine the impacts of weather, terrain and look at maintenance issues as well.
  • The intention is to roll it out commercially by 2020


Monday, 14 August 2017

T-Mobile USA Small Cells - backhauled via dark fiber

Picture Source: Reddit

Picked this one up from Wireless Week (emphasis mine):
Speaking at the Wells Fargo 5G Forum this week, T-Mobile VP of Radio Network Technology and Strategy Karri Kuoppamaki said the Un-carrier carefully considered its options before settling on a small cell strategy that utilizes dark fiber for densification. Kuoppamaki explained T-Mobile works with a number of partners who provide the fiber, real estate, and manpower for the build outs while the Un-carrier supplies the equipment and facilitates municipal dialogs. The result is an overall cost structure that has been whittled down to a “manageable level,” he said. 
“We work together in deploying those small cells. This strategy has worked for us really, really well,” Kuoppamaki commented. “Ultimately small cell deployments, or successful small cell deployments, depend on the cost structure, especially the backhaul piece. If you can do that by partnering up with the right people, and bring that cost down a fraction of the cost of a macro then it makes sense.” 
According to Kuoppamaki, T-Mobile currently has about 15,000 small cells today, including 13,000 DAS nodes. The Un-carrier is on track to add “several thousand” more by the end of 2017, and has another 25,000 in the pipeline for the next few years, he added.
While fiber is a great strategy in the long run, especially for densification and 5G, it drives the initial cost up. Its not a great strategy for operators who may be more interested in deploying small cells for coverage mainly.

In earlier posts, I have argued for in-band backhauling (IBBH). A similar concept by the name of self-backhauling is used in 5G. In another post we also looked at Sprint MagicBox which uses similar approach to improve coverage and capacity. The main advantage of this approach is quicker deployment at a far lower cost. Backhaul can always be improved after initial deployments once coverage obligations are met.


Anyway, finally coming back to the T-Mobile small cells, here is a much more detailed picture from Omar Masry's slide-deck.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Exploding Femtocells: How Testing plays an important role


The Register pointed out a while back that some of Vodafone's Sure Signal Femtocells (designed by Alcatel-Lucent) are exploding.
Vodafone says that anxious customers of its home femtocell box are safe, despite experiencing continuing brownouts. Although Vodafone is replacing the Alcatel-made units on request, it has declined to carry out a full recall.
Vodafone's user forums have a lot of info and pictures. The one from which I took the above picture says:
The failure was announced by a loud bang, a flash and the tripping of the power circuit.
Luckily there has been no serious accidents but it is enough to highlight the importance of all the different kind of testing that is done for all different kinds of devices.


This picture above, even though highlights the testing for mobile devices, is not very different to the steps required or testing small cells.

Due to the pressures of delivering more is shorter duration's, it can sometimes be a challenge to finish all of these to the highest possible standards. In any case, if its not done in the right way, the end results are visible soon enough, once it goes live.

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.