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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Turin, first 5G city in Italy


Telecom Italia has issued a press release stating that Turin will be the first 5G city in Italy. The press release says:

Turin will be the first Italian city and one of the first in Europe to have a new 5G mobile network. The project entered the operational stage today thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding signed by TIM and the Municipality of Turin.

By 2018 in Turin, where TIM's innovation and development centre is based, the first 5G technology trial in a metropolitan area will be launched with the aim of driving the development of a new generation mobile network, confirming the company’s commitment to mobile innovation, a role that it also plays at global level contributing to the definition of the 5G standard.

The “Turin 5G” project includes the gradual extension of the new mobile broadband infrastructure to the municipal urban area with the aim of covering the entire city by 2020.

Thanks to this memorandum, TIM plans to install, as early as 2017, more than 100 small cells in the main areas of the city, including Via Roma, Via Po, Via Garibaldi, Via Lagrange and Piazza Vittorio, in the Quadrilatero Romano, and in the areas where the Polytechnic University and University of Turin are located. These small cells will be in addition to the 200 mobile ultrabroadband sites which TIM will use to guarantee the best radio coverage in the city. The new mobile network will be supported by TIM's optic fibre infrastructure which already covers almost the entire city.

With this initiative, Turin will be nominated by TIM as the first Italian 5G city to become the preferred location for the activities envisaged in the 5G Action Plan of the European Commission, which aims to speed up development by launching trials and later public use of the new technology starting with the main metropolitan areas. Turin will therefore become part of the first pan-European network of 5G interconnected cities.

The trial will involve up to a maximum of 3,000 users who will be able to take advantage of very high performances and transmission speeds and experimental services and applications, provided by the city administration and made possible by TIM’s 5G network.

Specifically, TIM will provide the city of Turin with new generation services linked to the Smart City, such as those relating to public security, the management of public transport fleets and the provision of the information services associated with them, as well as remote surveillance solutions in extensive areas of the city, virtual reality to support tourism and, through the introduction of 5G technologies in the production processes used in the manufacturing industry, even new services to develop Industry 4.0 in the Turin area.

TIM (TIM is an Italian brand owned by Telecom Italia.) also announced back in Dec that they are among the first companies in the world on the road towards 5G, experimenting on live network, in collaboration with Altiostar, the Virtual Radio Access Network (vRAN) technology which makes it possible to improve the quality of the current mobile network and increase its efficiency.

The tests conducted in the field have confirmed the maturity of the solution and the benefits expected in terms of improvement in performance and quality of the service offered. For this initiative a virtual server has been installed in Turin, more than 60 kilometres away from the Saluzzo antennas, which has demonstrated its ability to coordinate radio base station even at considerable distances, without affecting connection and performance, thanks to efficient transmission techniques based on Ethernet fronthauling.

The flexibility, the scalability and the possibility of introducing algorithms developed by third parties for the new virtualised architecture enable efficient management of  increasing mobile traffic and its rapid changes through the introduction of new SON (Self Organizing Network) functionalities such as innovative methods of automatic network configuration developed by TIM and tested on the Altiostar solution.

TIM and Ericsson partnered to launch “5G for Italy” program to accelerate Italy's digitalization last year and renewed their partnership again this year.

TIM and Kumu Networks have also tested Full Duplex (In-band Full Duplex - IBFD) last year. These tests were carried out in vicinity of Turin as well. Full Duplex, when available will double the capacity of Mobile Networks as the same frequency could be used for transmission and reception at the same time.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Small Cells to help connect Australian Outback

Picture Source: William Creek Hotel on Facebook

Optus, the second largest mobile operator in Australia is working hard to provide coverage to blackspots. According to their black spot program:

Under Round 2 of the Program, Optus successfully secured $26.4 million in Federal and State Government funding to build 114 new mobile sites, with Optus co-contributing a further $36.4 million to provide dedicated connectivity to thousands of Australians. Optus’ bid includes funding for 65 mobile base stations as well as the deployment of 49 satellite small cells.

William Creek, a town that is fifteen hours from Adelaide is one such place that recently got a small cell from Optus. One newspaper put it as:

All ten permanent residents of South Australia’s William Creek will get mobile coverage for the first time when Optus switches on its first base station subsidised under the federal government’s mobile blackspot program.

The outback town is famed for having one of the world’s most remote pubs and the only petrol station between mining centres Maree, Coober Pedy, and Oodnadatta.

It is surrounded by the world’s largest cattle station, Anna Creek, which spans some 24,000 square kilometres.

However, it is also frequented by a number of tourists passing through the village as they explore the famous Oodnadatta Track or stop over on their way to Lake Eyre, which is about 1000 km away.

Visitors - as long as they are Optus customers - will now enjoy 3G mobile reception in town rather than having to rely on one of William Creek’s solar powered pay phones.

Optus, which was conspicuously left out of the first $100 million round of the mobile blackspot subsidy program, has installed a satellite small cell in the centre of town, relying on both satellite connectivity and backhaul to deliver 3G mobile reception within a radius of three kilometres of the town.


Optus national planning manager Vince Mullins said William Creek's new technology was the result of an 18-month trial in Oodnadatta.

"Unlike a normal mobile base station, which is quite expensive and large, we've shrunk that down and we're basically able to provide hot spot coverage in these really remote areas," he said.

"To deploy, it's very quick, as opposed to building a massive tower, and it's great because we can use satellite technology to backhaul it rather than having to run microwave or fibre."

Optus, the South Australian and Federal governments have invested $8.5 million to improve mobile coverage across regional and remote areas in the state.

More than a dozen other remote locations will also see similar technology soon.

In a news item in January in Telecom Times, Optus had said:

"Our primary vendor for this project is Gilat," an Optus spokesperson told Telecom Times. "Through our relationship with Gilat we also work with Parallel Wireless, who are providing the mobile related equipment and technology for the rollout, such as small cells and mobile network gateways."

Related Links:

Friday, 10 March 2017

Small Cells at Mobile World Congress 2017 (#MWC17)


Mobile World Congress was big and busy, as always. There were lots of interesting demos, technologies and much more. While I was only able to look at a few demos, here is my summary of the small cells related info that I managed to see or came across on social media.

Ericsson and Philips have been working together for a while so its no surprise they were showing their new connected street lighting model. You can see this from my picture above.

Sprint has already mentioned earlier that they will be rolling out more small cells and they were conveying the same message at MWC. Their rival T-Mobile says that they have 1000 small cells right now but will have 5/6000 by the end of the year.

IP Access had a nice booth and it was good to see that their CEO Malcolm Gordon and CTO Nick Johnson both managed to get their message across that 2017 will probably be a big year for Small Cells.



Vodafone introduced the "CrowdCell" concept last year, this year they continued to build on that story. The CrowdCell uses macro for backhaul. I generally refer to this as In-band backhaul (IBBH) and have written about this here. While they have already shown Indoor CrowdCell and In-car CrowdCell before, this year they were showing the Flying CrowdCell. You can see a video of that here (in Spanish) and a non-flying version here. This is slightly similar to the Airmast concept by EE.


Hidden in a corner at the Vodafone booth was a pre-commercial quad band femto by Parallel Wireless. If you look at the form factor, its no different than a single band femto from couple of years back.


Parallel Wireless also had a presence on many of their partners booths (picture above from KMW booth). TMN magazine has a feature on them and I embed their video below.


China Unicom is deploying 500 Radio Dots from Ericsson in Beijing.

Cellnex was showing how their small cells could be used for Smart Cities and Urban deployments. They have recently signed contract with JCDecaux and expects to deploy between 200,000 and 500,000 small cells 🙃

Acceleran was showing small cells on 3.5GHz CBRS band.

The Indian mobile operator Reliance Jio, which recently set a record for fastest 100 million subscribers (in 170 days), will be deploying Airspan small cells. This should be a massive project for Airspan.


Finally, there were quite a few 5G conceptual demo's. The picture above is from Intel stand. Due to 5G not yet defined, people were either using 28GHz or 60GHz. Regardless of what they were demonstrating, they would claim it to be 5G.

Apologies to other vendors I have missed.


There were also some good presentations at the Small Cell Forum networking area. The link for them is below and I will also be sharing some more of them in the coming weeks.

Related links:

Friday, 3 March 2017

Small Cells in the Bus Stop


Heard JCDecaux speak at MWC about how they provided connectivity at the street level using small cells at the bus stop. In fact the same example was also used by the Ericsson speaker. Due to small cells at street level, the coverage also reaches shops easily which may not necessarily get a good coverage from macros.

Below is a video from Alcatel-Lucent, followed by the the presentation: