Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Telefónica's LTE Nano Takes to the Skies


From Telefonica's Press release today (translated from Spanish to English via Google translate):
Telefónica has today presented in a real environment the applications in rescue and supervision of the miniaturization of a 4G mobile network with a portable backpack of less than 3kg. which provides voice and data coverage to a group of people in a specific area. 
This innovation project, called LTE Nano and announced at the 2017 Mobile World Congress , is one of the world's smallest deployments of a 4G standalone network as it runs on hardware weighing just 40 grams. It is also a significant step in the advances that the market is making in the development of portable network products very useful in rescue, emergency, retail, logistics, hospitals or offices, among many others. 
Specifically, Telefónica has carried out demonstrations in Real of the application of portable networks 4G in rescue and supervision of critical infrastructures in Buitrago de Lozoya. In both, a LTE Nano backpack has been used that has allowed to deploy in a matter of minutes a network of 4G communications to which a dron has been connected with capacity to transmit video through LTE and several smartphones and tablets with transmission of voice and data. 
In the case of rescue work, the 4G portable backpack has provided coverage of voice and data communications to a rescue group. A dron with an HD camcorder has streamed what was seen during the flight and has transmitted it to the devices of the operations in real time by the 4G provided by the backpack. In this way, for example, the location of a missing person is facilitated and accelerated in places that are not accessible. 
The same service can be provided in the supervision of infrastructures that are difficult to access, both in communications and in any other industrial field, involving tasks of a certain complexity and risk and time consuming. In this case, the use of a 4G dron has been shown for the monitoring of the old satellite communications monitoring antennas of Telefónica in Buitrago de Lozoya which, with its 30 meters in diameter and placed more than 40 meters high on a infrastructure of several hundred tons, pose a challenge of supervision because of its complexity and risk when an operator has to perform this task manually. 
The LTE Nano solution has been developed in collaboration with the British company Quortus, which is the technology provider that provides the 4G virtual network software solution capable of operating in such small scale equipment. 
On the other hand, the scenarios of using a dron transmitting video through 4G have been developed in collaboration with Accenture Digital , one of the first companies to collaborate with Telefónica in the development of innovative services that operate on 4G portable networks.
Here is a video released alongside with the text above. I wish it had a bit more detail.



See Also:

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Drones, More Drones & Droneway

I have written about Drones and Balloons in the past, mainly to BT/EE. Take for instance this presentation by Mansoor Hanif at TIP Summit and this one on Flying Small Cells. In addition I have also talked about Telefonica's Nano cell, which is a small cell on a drone; Verizon's 'flying cell-site' and AT&T's flying COW.


This week the US operator Sprint announced that they are trialing their Magic boxes on drones. Here is a video on that:


Back in August, IEEE Spectrum ran an article on how Flying Cell Towers Could Aid Search and Rescue. Base stations carried by drones would form an ad hoc network and connect first responders.

Picture Source: IEEE Spectrum

From the IEEE Spectrum article:

An aerial communications system supported by drones could be deployed much faster and operate with minimal interference. In 2013, we started to think about what such a drone-based communications system for public safety agencies might look like. We knew it would need a shared radio-frequency channel for first responders, drone-portable base stations, a power supply, and a digital database for exchanging information. We would also need controllers that would be easy enough for a licensed drone pilot to operate in a crisis.

Our first major challenge was to find a base station small enough for a drone to support. Drones under 25 kilograms—the limit now imposed by U.S. air-safety regulators—can carry a maximum payload of about 2 kg, so we would need a base station that weighed less, even with its battery.

Finally, my search led me to a startup named Virtual Network Communications. This company, based in Chantilly, Va., sells a product called a GreenCell that seemed suitable. It’s a scalable LTE base station, known as a picocell, which is typically used to extend the reach of an existing network but can also generate its own network. The base station contains an E-UTRAN Node B radio with two antennas and a credit-card-size component called a Micro Evolved Packet Core, which uses LTE technology to form an ad hoc network with nearby radios. Then, that local network connects to a nationwide cellular network.

With these components, our GreenCell can support communications for up to 128 users at a time from a distance of up to about 2 kilometers on any LTE frequency. Better yet, it measures just 12.5 by 12.5 centimeters and weighs only 2 kg with its battery, just light enough to be lifted by a drone.

Once we had found a suitable base station, we still needed to find a suitable drone. Ideally, it would be affordable and be capable of flying for 10 to 12 hours before needing a recharge. Unfortunately, no such drone exists today. Most commercial drones can stay aloft for fewer than 45 minutes.

After some research, I found a company named CyPhy Works, which has developed a drone powered through a 150-meter cord that extends up from a grid or generator. Technically, this drone could stay in the air for as long as it had access to a power supply on the ground. But in a disaster scenario, it would have to be tethered to a van loaded with a generator and fuel. That would limit it to serving the same road-accessible places to which mobile units already travel. Another drawback: The drone’s tether restricts its mobility once it’s in the air. We wanted to be able to reconfigure our network in an instant.

We briefly considered using balloons instead of drones, but we discovered through trial and error that balloons are difficult to reposition and hold in place, especially during high winds.

We decided instead to use the AR200 drone from AirRobot, a company based in Arnsberg, Germany. The AR200 has six rotors that allow it to hover more steadily than the usual four. And because the AirRobot drone is battery powered, it can zoom off to any location.

In summer, Qualcomm unveiled [PDF report] the results of a months-long drone trial program, which found LTE networks today already provide the aerial connectivity necessary to support commercial unmanned aerial vehicle deployments. But the tech giant noted some network optimizations will be necessary to take drone deployments to new heights. As per their blog post:

During the field trial, approximately 1,000 flights were performed to collect datasets that were post processed and analyzed. We also performed simulations to complement field trial results by allowing study of performance tradeoffs when the network is serving many mobile devices and LTE-connected drones simultaneously over a wide area. Simulations also enabled rapid testing of parameter and feature changes that are more difficult to study in a commercial network.

The field trial demonstrated that LTE networks can support safe drone operation in real-world environments. Our findings showed that existing commercial cellular networks can provide coverage to drones at low altitudes up to 400 feet AGL. Our test drones also showed seamless handovers between different base stations during flights. Below is a glimpse of these findings.


According to Mobile World Live,

The head of AT&T’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) business development team said the operator is working with regulatory authorities and standards organisations to “unlock” the potential of drones.

Speaking with Mobile World Live, Greg Belaus said many tests of drones on cellular networks so far have been conducted at a height of 400 feet. In the US, Belaus explained that airspace is governed by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Part 107 rules. Belaus said “a lot of work” on drones right now is focused on what needs to be done to open that area for drone services.

There is an interesting AT&T Flying COW presentation on Youtube for anyone interested, here.

Finally, looks like "Droneway" may be becoming a reality soon. As one of the partners involved in the project, I may not be at a liberty to say much but this photo of the article below (click to expand) provides an idea 😊



*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.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Connecting Cambridge University using Wi-Fi


Came across this post from Airheads about the challenges of connecting the 800-year-old Cambridge University with Wi-Fi. I have spent a lot of time in Cambridge working with Cambridge Wireless and attending fantastic events organised by them so I have seen some of these challenges first hand. To quote from the post:
Providing services to such a prestigious institution is a real privilege but can also be daunting.  At Cambridge, the whole City is the campus as University Departments and Colleges span the City. Networking on such a distributed scale is a challenge; we have to take both the narrow and wider view at the same time. 25 years ago, the University had the foresight to begin deploying a pan-city fibre optic network, the Granta Backbone Network, to connect the hundreds of University buildings together. Today this encompasses 60 km of multicore fibre over which we run a core and distribution router network. Therefore, as all our buildings are networked together, you would think that deploying Wi-Fi on the back of that must be easy. That could not be further from the truth, as hinted at already, Cambridge is far from simple.

The most basic thing you do for a wireless deployment is a Wi-Fi survey. Here at Cambridge, we have a myriad of buildings of all shapes, sizes and types. For example, we have buildings that are eight hundred years old right through to modern structures. The construction of these buildings is amazingly diverse, from metre thick stone walls to concrete monoliths right through to simple buildings made up of modern partition walls. The latter sounds simple until you come across that surprise hefty wall with four layers of unexpected insulation or a signal killing chimney hidden in the wall. We also have constructions as varied as residential buildings, (that can also act as hotels out of term), office blocks, state of the art laboratories, lecture theatres and seminar rooms, libraries and warehouses. This means that the University Wireless Team have their work cut out surveying each of these unique environments while trying to get ubiquitous Wi-Fi into all areas. We estimate that if we surveyed each building end to end, it would take more than five years.
You can read the complete post here. Below is a video that shows some of these challenges.


Friday, 22 September 2017

Is small-cell thinking changing the face of remote and rural coverage?


Its been a few months since this Cambridge Wireless (CW) seminar on 'Is small-cell thinking changing the face of remote and rural coverage?'. David Chambers (ThinkSmallCell) has written a post summarising the event here but I thought it would be worth bringing this event to people's attention.

The presentations from this event are available here. There was a talk on how Nokia Kuha are being installed on Isle of Lewis in Scotland. I have written about them earlier here.

IP.Access talked about their rural deployment in Peru. To quote thinksmallcell article:
For the most remote areas, ip.access gave an extreme example from Peru where it took two days just to reach the site. Again the financial figures look small but can still be profitable. Where a macrocell might serve 1000-2000 users, a remote small cell might serve 100. In this example, a village with 300 people attracted 91 users with an ARPU of $11 generating $12,000 per annum. 
This was an EU funded research project called TUCAN3G. There are more details about it on the project website.
Real Wireless talked about the whitepaper they did for Small Cell Forum. It makes an interesting reading.

Finally, Ayan Ghosh from BT talked about Airmasts. I have covered this in detail here.

With regards to the IP.Access Peru story where remote users did generate a lot of revenue for the operator, I know the same applies to UK. From my travels looking at rural coverage I have seen that the users in rural community make full use of whatever capacity is made available to them. I posted an interview that I am posting again below.


Related links:

Friday, 15 September 2017

Small Cell Infrastructure in Denver

The City and County of Denver (Colorado, USA) is receiving growing numbers of requests from wireless providers and wireless infrastructure companies to construct small cell facilities in the public right of way. As a result Denver Public Works has created a small publication about how they are working with companies to bring small cell infrastructure to the city. Its available here.

Here is one of the points from that publication:

9. Can the City limit or standardize Small Cell infrastructure?
As mentioned above, the City is currently exploring its policies and ordinances for Small Cell infrastructure within the parameters of Federal and State law. Under current law, it is not clear how the City can restrict height, design, or location (unless conflicting) of Small Cell infrastructure. However, as the City as a whole considers new polices and rulemaking, the City Public Works Department is having success in coordinating expectations and recommendations through enhanced communication efforts at the outset of each company’s program. So far each applicant has been receptive to:
  • Considering standardizing pole design elements, color, location, etc. to meet intent and character of existing infrastructure in the public right of way.
  • Limiting pole heights to match existing street lighting and other poles in the public right of way.
  • Generally avoiding placing poles adjacent to parks and historical places.
  • Encouraging pole and equipment designs that enclose as much equipment as possible to minimize visual impact.
  • Co-locating equipment onto existing infrastructure wherever feasible.
  • Installing consistent infrastructure that does not discriminate based on neighborhood type, demographic, or character.
  • Exploring new concepts in combining equipment from multiple companies into specially designed poles.
Public Works has placed top priortiy in coodinating design elements for proposed Small Cell infrastructure, and how companies should maximize aesthetics while minimizing congestion of the public right of way. Below are several examples of Small Cell equipment recently constructed in Denver.


You can download the document from here

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Small Cells World Summit 2017 Summary


I realised that I never got round to writing a summary post for Small Cells World Summit 2017. In fact I was waiting for summaries for various publications before writing a post but there was much less coverage this year.

Having said that, there were reasonable number of operators and most major vendors present. Small cells have sort of gone mainstream from their niche as many operators are now talking of small cells for 5G (mainly higher frequencies).

Anyway, here are some links with what I found interesting that you can explore further.

Here are some things ThinkSmallCell reported. Full report here:

SCWS, now in its 9th year, remains a regular feature of the small cell calendar. Now a two day conference, attendance was lower than some years ago but stable with noticeably more system integrators/installers actively participating. There was a little more focus on business enablers rather than technology this year, addressing deployment issues and neutral host opportunities for enterprise, urban and rural sectors.
...
The scope of SCWS is intended to embrace all of Small Cells, DAS and (Public Access) Wi-Fi. We saw one or two more DAS vendors participate but there was relatively little public Wi-Fi content. Perhaps that reflects the limited interest for that in Europe, as we saw at the recent Wireless Broadband Congress. The program included a few keynote speakers from operators (EE, O2, ATT, KDDI, Softbank) and some industry verticals (AEG, which operates the O2 dome and other stadiums; Grange Hotels etc.)       

Many mature small cell products are available today for both 3G and LTE. Form factors continue to shrink, software is becoming further automated and refined. The backhaul conference stream has been dropped with CCS now the most prominent independent small cell backhaul vendor.
...
The event provides an excellent opportunity to meet and reconnect with industry players, both old and new. The emphasis and participation has evolved over the years, but it remains a key focal point to assess the current state of play for the industry.

Here are some things The Mobile Network reported. Full report here:

The day before the Summit started Nokia assembled a few journalists in a meeting room and gave them a portfolio update. Of note in this was the revelation that the company will be shipping tens of thousands, in fact more than 50 thousand, of its Mini Macro cell sites to Sprint. This is on top of another wide scale roll out of the boxes – which are 2x20W sites in a 5 litre box – in China and Japan where the vendor expects to ship another 40,000. There are 3,000 headed to Brazil, as well, to be deployed as an underlay under Ericsson macro cells.
...
One notable aspect of the event was the amount of talk about using small cells in rural, in dense indoor and in other hard to reach areas. Mansoor Hanif spoke of some of the work BT is looking at to enable it to spread coverage to hard to reach areas. There is a real range of work, best summed up in this picture.

Of note is its work with TIP, where it hopes to be able to plug in open base stations as part of its Kuha community-run small cells programme – as per its project on the island of Harris supported by Nokia at the moment. With Lime Microsystems it is delivering a software defined radio base to Open Source, and hopes to attract developers to build applications on top of the Lime SDR platform. Hanif wants to move the cycle for introducing a new feature into a network from months to weeks – but he added that he doesn’t think any operator has the skills to manage that internally – hence the move to Open Source.
...
KDDI’s Fumio Watanabe presented some findings from the operators trials of mobile mmWave systems. The operator’s field trial use 40GHz and 60GHz bands, with a user moving between different bands and being “handed over” between access points. This sort of mobility requires dual interband connectivity and multi-site CoMP to handle the mobility between different sites and bands as a user goes out of line of site of an access point.

It may also require some architecture shifts Watanabe said, including the likes of ICN and MEC.
...
Backhaul provider CCS has a couple of things going on. First, it is involved as the backhaul provider to Telefonica O2’s deployment of outdoor WiFi and cellular small cells in the City of London. Steve Greaves, CEO, said that the company will support 450 small cells and 150 WiFi access points by siting its backhaul nodes at 30 Virgin media fibre points – with each backhaul node supporting 3-5 WiFi access points. The backhaul nodes are providing 1.2Gbps capacities at 24/26/28 GHz bands.

Greaves is also enthused by an upcoming product launch from CCS, as the company enters the 60GHz band with a 10Gbps product. Greaves says that CCS will go beyond products from the likes of Siklu, by modifying the basic WiGig chip that providers currently use, to add tighter carrier grade SynchE 1588, and greater interference control. The product will not be available until early 2018, he added.

Another interesting aspect of the City of London deployment – the concession model between the City of London and Telefonica – means that Telefonica must host other operators’ small cells within the deployment if asked. But these may not be on the same pole as Telefonica’s small cells, given there is a limit of two boxes per pole. From a backhaul perspective – that obviously introduces more complexity – as Telefonica must introduce a V-LAN for each operator, with different QoS.

Virgin Media Business, by the way, has 100,000 cabinets in London alone, and wants to use them to act as potential hosts for small cells, by adding a small pole to the cabinet, said its adviser Paul Coffey. The company is also looking at enabling neutral host model using its street infrastructure. Its wholesale business supplying backhaul to the UK’s operators already runs to £150 million per year, Coffey said.

Related Posts:

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Ericsson Radio Dot: Evolution and Technical information


Its been nearly 4 years since I blogged about Ericsson's Radio Dot. Ericsson announced Multi-operator Radio Dot Solution this week. As per the press release:

Ericsson has launched three new scalable small cell solutions designed to help expand the small cell market and meet the growing demand for better mobile coverage and capacity while preparing networks for 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) applications: the Multi-Operator Dot and the Multi-Dot Enclosure for indoor deployments; and the Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios.

The Multi-Operator Dot solution delivers a set of Radio Dots that can be shared between multiple operators, with one operator managing the system while others provide radio frequency signals – similar to an active distributed antenna system (DAS). This new architecture allows up to four operators to broadcast over a single Dot solution; combining the multi-operator benefits of an active DAS solution with the performance, agility and cost-effective design of the Radio Dot System.

As its name suggests, the Multi-Dot Enclosure combines multiple Dots in a single enclosure. The enclosure has a minimal impact on building aesthetics, is useful for multi-operator deployments, and presents a cost-savings option in buildings that charge per box deployed.

The Strand-Mount Unit for outdoor micro radios makes it easier to install the radios on the existing grid, hung on aerial coax, fiber, or electricity cables. Aerial-strand deployments are critical for scaling outdoor small cells and can be deployed for both single and multi-operator usage. Ericsson’s new Strand-Mount Unit can support up to four micro radios, enabling multiple operators to utilize the same mount for cost-efficient deployments. The Strand-Mount Unit delivers superior outdoor coverage with zero footprint.


Just in case you were wondering what exactly Ericsson Radio Dot is, the specs can be seen in the picture above.

According to Fierce Wireless:

The most significant element of the announcement is the multioperator version of the Radio Dot, according to Ed Gubbins, senior analyst on the Global Telecom Technology & Software team at GlobalData.

One of the bigger hurdles to penetrating enterprises (which is what the Radio Dot was designed for) has been that enterprises often have multioperator needs—because enterprise inhabitants typically bring their own personal devices to work and have their own operators. The creation of a multioperator Dot is overdue and gives Ericsson a leg up over rivals like SpiderCloud (now Corning), which have single-operator solutions, Gubbins told FierceWirelessTech.

That said, there will still be challenges in penetrating enterprises, even with multioperator solutions. “Getting operators and enterprises to agree on using the same vendor and the same solution on a case-by-case basis isn’t necessarily quick, easy or easily scalable,” he said.

The technologies Ericsson is using to help enable multioperator functionality (MORAN & MOCN) have been around for quite a while, as has the Radio Dot itself. “So the fact that it’s taken years to see a multioperator Radio Dot, despite how long one has been technologically possible to develop, gives some indication that this isn’t perceived as a silver bullet by any means,” he said.

However, the fact that Ericsson is presenting more than one model for multioperator deployment is a good thing; operator and enterprise sentiments will vary, so having some flexibility in this area should help, he added.


Just in case you were wondering, the different options for Mobile Network Sharing as as shown above.

A presentation from Ericsson detailing the new releease and their Small Cells portfolio in general is embedded below.



The Mobile Network magazine has some more info on this new products and comparison with other multi-operator deployments:

Unlike, say, the Nokia FlexiZone or SpiderCloud E-RAN  small cell designs, Radio Dots are not in themselves miniature base stations. Rather they are distributed radio heads attached to a centralised “feeder” baseband unit, mediated through an indoor remote unit (IRU). 

What Ericsson has announced is the ability to support multi-operator service in three ways.

First – parallel deployments with each operator using its own dedicated baseband, IRU and Dots. These Dots can be housed in the same enclosures (the new enclosures known as the multi-dot bracket) to tidy things up a bit.

Secondly – a multi-operator deployment using a shared baseband and IRU, over the same network of distributed radio heads, using MORAN (Multi Operator Radio Access Network) or MOCN (Multi Operator Core Network) network sharing capabilities.

Thirdly, a multi-operator Dot solution where operators provide multiple RF sources to the same Dot system. They do this by feeding baseband capacity to a new access unit from Ericsson, the RF Access Unit (RAU). This new RAU can support three 2×2 MIMO RF inputs, and can be connected on the other side to four IRUs, which then feed the shared Dot remote radioheads.

In both the second and third options, one operator remains in overall control of the deployment.

...

Ericsson’s Dot was initially designed as a single operator system, as was SpiderCloud’s competitive E-RAN. Where once SpiderCloud once made a virtue of its single-operator necessity – stating that an operator would gain competitive advantage by being the “best” carrier within a given office block or campus, it has in the past couple of years taken steps to add multi-operator capability – by adding support for more carriers,  LAA and CBRS models.

Another small cell vendor, ip.access, has also gone down the multi-operator, or neutral host route. Ip.access’ Viper platform combines multi operator access points with a gateway node that can be deployed as a virtual instance that links to separate operator core networks.

Huawei recently expanded band support for its LampSite product – probably the most similar product in terms of architectural design to the Radio Dot – and its aim was specifically to increase support for multi-operator deployments.

Although Ericsson claimed at launch that its dual band Dot could enable a multi-operator deployment, it clearly needed to take additional steps to really enable multi-operator models. One approach, as we have seen, is simply to make it a bit easier to deploy two or more instances of everything in the architecture. That seems like a hard model to scale economically, apart from in the biggest sites, perhaps. The other approaches either a) require the implementation of a new element (the RAU) or b) limits the number of multiple operators to two. 


Finally, embedded below is a video describing the Radio Dot in more technical detail for anyone interested. In case it does not automatically skip to 26.11 mins, please do it yourself



Ericsson is running a webinar on this topic on 27th September. Details here.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

ZTE's 4G / 5G Street Lights


While we are on the subject of street lights and lamp posts, I thought it may be worth mentioning about ZTE's BluePillar Streetlamp solution that it announced back in 2016:

An integrated streetlamp, charging pillar, base transceiver station (BTS) and smart city information solution, BluePillar enables a traditional streetlamp pillar to double as a 4G/5G BTS, or a charging point for electric vehicles. The solution can also collect local data on weather, environment, transportation and security while its large outdoor LED screen can be used to display information and advertising.

The BluePillar solution consists of ZTE’s BlueBox charging pillar, 4G iMacro base station, intelligent controller and intelligent streetlamp, all fully integrated into one product. It makes full use of a streetlamp pillar and integrates seamlessly into the surrounding environment, which could not only solve the difficulty in siting 4G networks, but also assure Wi-Fi construction, environment monitoring, security management and data collection in hotspots. It also offers direct outdoor advertising opportunities, as well as the display of municipal information and other value-added services at the same time. This solution could reduce the unit cost and promote the business density of each site, which could help operators acquire sites whilst saving land, electricity and other resources. Local governments, operators, everyday citizens and electric car owners all stand to benefit from this solution. For example operators could expand their business scope, and make the transition from traditional telecoms operation to the comprehensive operation of data services in cities.

The innovative integration of the solution, including the BTS, streetlamp and charging pillar, coupled with its ability to charge electric vehicles makes this a convenient solution for telecoms tower companies. ZTE's BluePillar solution could solve the challenges of Internet access on roads and in communities, as well as making streetlamps intelligently connected via information exchanged through its BTS.

Additionally:

Besides street lighting ZTE BluePillar is an integrated part of smart city. The system supports security surveillance, real-time information collection on the environment, real-time monitoring of the assets/special crowd with RFID .Through the LCD, important information and advertisement can be displayed which will bring benefit to the citizens as well as operators. RRU and WIFI equipment can be installed with BluePillar, citizen will be facilitated with WIFI services. Nowadays people have concern about air pollution and prefer clean transportation, such as Electrical Vehicles .However, due to limited space, lack of charging piles becomes an vital factor hinders the popularity of EV. Integrated with AC charging piles, BulePillar solution can save space and be an ideal method for municipal department to spread EV.


According to the ZTE magazine:

ZTE has deployed its IoT solutions in over 140 cities in 40 countries globally. She stated that a wide variety of solutions using smart meters have helped optimise city infrastructure with smart street lighting, parking as well as water and air monitoring Some examples include the deployment of 20 thousand smart street lamps in Paris’ smart city project: the City of Light. These smart street lamps are outfitted with sensors that help manage its energy consumption and maintenance optimisation.

To help alleviate traffic jams in congested cities, ZTE has smart parking solutions that notify users where they can park their vehicle without having to search for hours on end for parking spots. With its smart building and environmental monitoring, building managers would be able to better manage power distribution within the building.

I could not find any information about the 4G / 5G solution being trialed anywhere but I am sure it probably is.

Also, it seems that this Streetlight is developed by another Chinese company called Shanghai Sansi Technology Co.,Ltd. See here. More info also on their Youtube channel here.

Related Posts:

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.

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:
Telefónica 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 Günther 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: