Thursday, 15 August 2019

Small Cells and Neutral Host Networks

Back in January, techUK hosted a conference titled, 'Neutral Host Networks: Vision and Reality'. There were quite a few interesting presentations and they are available freely on their website. Here are some slides I found interesting. 

The first one was from Huawei where they talked about 'Neutral Host Models in 4G & 5G Architecture' and covered the Lampsite neutral hosting in detail. If you don't know about Lampsite, check out this earlier post on Huawei Lampsite 3.0 here.

Duncan Wall, Business Development Director, Arqiva talked about 'The benefits of neutral host networks in urban and rural environments - Progress toward that vision'. There were quite a few details on what Infrastructure could be shared and benefits of sharing, new tower proposition, street trends, etc.

I like the simple site design picture shown above. The shared cabinet can host 4 small cells (from 4 operators) and that can feed the shared antenna on top of the lamp post.

In addition, there are presentations from Real Wireless, LS Telecom, BAI Communications, LS Telecom, Disruptive Analysis & Opencell. All presentations available here.

Related Posts:


Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Dronecell - Turkcell's Flying Base Station


At the recent IEEE 5G Summit in Istanbul, Gülay Yardım, Head of 5G R&D and Radio Network, TURKCELL presented their vision on how Drones & Mobile Technology can work together for mutual benefits and what challenges need to be solved.

The picture above shows how the different components in the drone cell fit together. I also blogged about this in my post-MWC summary blog here.


Features and specifications of the dronecell above.

I also recorded this video below at MWC which gives an idea on how dronecell uses AI to analyze the footage in case of disaster and help with emergency assistance.



Related Posts:

Monday, 15 July 2019

Small Cell Forum Releases 5G FAPI API Specifications

SCF has announced the release of 5G FAPI: PHY API Specifications. In the press release titled 'Small Cell Forum Publishes Specification to Drive Unified 5G Open RAN', SCF announced:

5G FAPI Release provides common APIs to support interoperability between 5G small cell hardware components and software layers enabling interoperability and preventing fragmentation.

Small Cell Forum (SCF), the telecoms organization making mobile infrastructure solutions available to all, has published the PHY API for 5G to stimulate a competitive ecosystem for vendors of 5G small cell hardware, software and equipment. The PHY API provides an open and interoperable interface between the physical layer and the MAC layer. 3G and LTE versions are already used in most small cells today.

The specification has been developed through a successful collaboration of companies from across the small cell eco-system, including; Intel, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., Airspan Networks and Picocom Technology.

5G FAPI is an initiative within the small cell industry to encourage competition and innovation among suppliers of platform hardware, platform software and application software by providing a common API around which suppliers of each component can compete. By doing this, SCF provides an interchangeability of parts ensuring that the system vendors can take advantage of the latest innovations in silicon and software with minimum barriers to entry, and the least amount of custom re-engineering.

Operators are looking for a radically different cost model for 5G networks, one that relies on interoperability and an open, competitive ecosystem. As networks are disaggregated, a critical interface is the fronthaul between a distributed unit (DU) for radio functions and a centralised unit (CU) for protocol stacks and baseband functions. Open specifications such as SCF’s FAPI will enable operators to mix and match protocol stacks, basebands and radios from different vendors, and realize the benefits of deploying disaggregated, virtualized RAN (vRAN) networks.

The Forum also maintains the widely adopted FAPI specifications for 3G and LTE, as well as networked FAPI (nFAPI) for LTE supporting a MAC/PHY functional split, a key enabler for virtualisation of higher layer base station functions. In 5G this split point was also identified by 3GPP and called split option 6.

The Forum’s motivation for defining nFAPI in LTE was to establish a scalable ecosystem with a converged approach to virtualization across multiple suppliers, and the continued adoption of NFV/SDN make this is even more crucial for 5G. As such, the Forum plans to expand 5G FAPI to operate across split option 6 as 5G nFAPI.

A video of presentation by Clare Somerville, Intel & 5G FAPI lead from Small Cells World is embedded below:


In an interview in The Mobile Network last December, Prabhakar Chitrapu, who chairs SCF’s TECH Group said:

“Split RAN/Small Cell architectures have seven options, as identified by 3GPP. Of these, 3GPP has focused on Option-2 (RLC-PDCP) and ORAN on Option-7.2 (PHY-PHY). Option-6 (PHY-MAC) is not being addressed by any of these organisations. SCF seeks to fill this gap.”

“The PHY-MAC interface is important for the industry because it is an interface that has been highly successful in the 4G world, where it is called FAPI and nFAPI. It is therefore considered very important that we extend these interface specifications for 5G, as 5G-FAPI and 5G-nFAPI."

“FAPI helps Equipment Vendors to mix PHY & MAC Software from different suppliers via this open FAPI interface. So, FAPI is an 'internal' interface.”

“5G-nFAPI (network FAPI) is a 'network' interface and is between a Distributed Unit and Centralised Unit  of a Split RAN/Small Cell network solution. An open specification of this interface (nFAPI) will help network architects by allowing them to mix distributed and central units from different vendors.”

ShareTechNote also provides some details about FAPI and nFAPI as described by Small Cell Forim here.

Related Documents from SCF:

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

KT 5G Skyship Search and Rescue Platform


Last year I wrote about KT's Skyship platform. I thought it may be worth revisiting now that the vision is slowly turning into reality. There were some videos that were recorded at MWC and immediately following it. All of them are embedded in the playlist below. They will give an idea of what KT is going to use the Skyship platform for.



A presentation by Riku Jäntti, Aalto University on PriMO-5G - Virtual Presence in Moving Objects through 5G also added some more details on the 5G Skyship search and rescue application. The presentation is available here.


Related Posts:



Sunday, 16 June 2019

Turkcell's Small Cell Strategy

Turkcell is one of the industry’s leaders in extending the traditional MNO model into new services, illustrated how the business case is strengthened by diversity, with small cell roadmaps which span multiple spectrum bands, form factors, vendors and deployment environments.

During Small Cells World Summit, Turkcell presented their Small cell strategy and case study.


As the tweet above says, they have 3 separate use cases for small cells:

  • VIP/business complaints & retention
  • General in building / enterprise
  • Outdoor capacity & coverage enhancement


Their strategy is to work with multiple vendors for different use cases. The strategy has clearly paid off as different small cells are working seamlessly with the macrocells indoors and outdoors.


Indoor Femtocell Trials with Airspan and Nokia has significantly improved user experience and throughput indoors.




Various deployments with Huawei Micro has been done to improve coverage and capacity outdoors, for voice and data.


Related Posts:



Tuesday, 4 June 2019

The Big Small Cell Update by iGR

iGR Wireless Research presented this webinar recently. The brief from the webinar says:

Small cells are becoming an increasingly important part of the 4G and 5G infrastructure, despite the issues with deployment. iGR is continually updating its extensive research on the small cell opportunity, including total addressable market, actual deployments and TCO.

This webinar provides an update on iGR’s view of the indoor, outdoor, CBRS, mmWave and sub 2.5 GHz small cells


There is a lot of useful information but I should mention this is very USA specific.

There is no direct link but you can register to watch the webinar recording here

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Synchronization for 5G - Requirements, Solutions & Architecture

Couple of months back, Oscilloquartz, an ADVA company, announced that BT is leveraging its high-capacity, future-proof Oscilloquartz synchronization technology to bring 4G coverage to previously underserved areas and begin the rollout of 5G services across the UK. Prior to this deployment, BT’s timing network was based purely on frequency synchronization. With the new solution, it can now distribute stable and accurate phase and time-of-day information, enabling BT to dramatically improve the use of its spectrum. The new synchronization network is built on the OSA 5430 and OSA 5440 and integrated with ADVA’s network management solution. The technology provides the sub-microsecond accuracy required for next-generation mobile applications together with hardware redundancy for unbeatable resilience.

At the Small Cell World Summit held earlier this month, Gil Biran's presentation outlined the key synchronization requirements and solutions for mobile networks in the era of 5G. Check out the slide deck embedded below to discover how longest holdover and highest precision can be achieved with the "industry's most comprehensive timing technology portfolio".



This video of OSA 5430, the first high-capacity grandmaster clock available on the market to support PTP, NTP and SyncE over multiple 10Gbit/s Ethernet interfaces is also worth a watch. It's also the first device of its kind to provide redundancy and protection.



Tuesday, 14 May 2019

T-Mobile USA's Indoor CellSpot (a.k.a. Femtocells)

Sometime back I saw this tweet by T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray


I started wondering if T-Mo had femtocells and voila!

Pic Source: Dane Powell

According to the T-Mobile website, there are 4 types of devices:

  1. 4G LTE CellSpot V1 
  2. 4G LTE CellSpot V2 
  3. 4G LTE Signal Booster 
  4. 4G LTE Signal Booster Duo
The product comparison chart can be seen below
Now let's look at the Functionality comparison chart
As you can see, the cellspots require an ethernet connection as they create a small coverage bubble while the Signal boosters are just repeaters.

You can get detailed specifications here on 4G LTE CellSpot V1 and 4G LTE CellSpot V2.

Detailed specifications here on 4G LTE Signal Booster and 4G LTE Signal Booster Duo.

In Addition, T-Mobile also supports Wi-Fi calling and also sells T-Mobile 'Wi-Fi CellSpot AC1900 Gigabit Router'

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Impact of Small Cells on Key Enterprise Markets


I missed the last CW (Cambridge Wireless) Small Cells event 'Are small cells ready for private LTE primetime in the lead-up to 5G?'.


From the CW website:

The limited progress towards excellent in-building cellular coverage is well-attested, and in many enterprise and industrial sectors, this is not just frustrating, but has a tangible impact on productivity and agility. In a wide range of industries, from transport to logistics to healthcare, there is pent-up demand for highly reliable, highly secure cellular connectivity, which often needs linking with localised applications and data.

That demand is only growing even more with the advent of IoT applications and edge computing. This is a huge opportunity for small cells, even before 5G, but these sectors cannot all be served by one generic network. Each has its own particular requirements, which need to be well understood by suppliers and partners, so that the deployment can be carefully aligned to business and performance objectives.

Excellent mobile connectivity indoors and out is the baseline requirement – each sector has its own additional needs, which will help to make the business case add up. For some, low latency may be important, for others, massive device density or enhanced security. All of these can be delivered optimally by small cells, but the design of the network, and the business model to deploy it – e.g. neutral host or private network – must be tailored to the enterprise, if users and suppliers are both to achieve the best ROI.

This event focuses on the real-world issues needed for the success of small cells in the emerging private LTE market.

The presentations are available for a limited time for non-CW members here.

The following presentations are available:

  • 'Is private LTE disruptive' by Ian Taylor, Quortus [PDF]
  • 'Small cells in private networks: An Overview' by Caroline Gabriel, Rethink Technology Research [PDF]
  • 'Bringing connectivity to a mechanical test centre' by Peter Stoker, AutoAir [PDF]
  • 'Private Networks for Critical Comms & IoT' by Tadhg Kenny, Druid Software Ltd [PDF]
  • 'Business ready applications, not the connectivity solution, will be the driver for private networks' by David Rose, Veea Systems Ltd [PDF]


Related Posts:

Saturday, 11 May 2019

AMN's Ultra-low cost sites


From an slightly old tweet by Erik Hersman: "AMN has started rolling out ultra-low cost small 10m towers to work in rural villages in Zambia, Cameroon and a couple other countries. Communities value them so much that they build their own fences and security."

Rural connectivity in the developing world is a big issue and this tweet just illustrates the point that when connectivity is available, people value it and make sure nobody takes it away.


In a earlier blog post on 3G4G, we saw the 10 key challenges listed by AMN for bringing connectivity to rural areas.

In a recent news, Vanu announced the expansion of its ongoing agreement with Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) to supply mobile network infrastructure in support of AMN’s mission to serve rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. With orders exceeding 2,500 systems this year, AMN has now placed orders for more than 3,000 Vanu systems over the last two years

“AMN and Vanu both view small-cell network architectures powered by solar energy to be the best way to extend service to the unconnected. We are privileged to be a technology supplier for AMN’s networks in Africa and we see a significant opportunity for our organizations to positively affect more communities in more countries in the months ahead.”

To efficiently cover villages, Vanu uses a combination of specialized equipment, tools and services, including low TCO (total cost of ownership) cell sites, mapping tools and network planning tools (to ensure sites are built in optimal locations), as well as monitoring, optimization and support services (to ensure maintenance resources are used efficiently).

Vanu’s equipment, tools and services enable MNOs and partners, such as AMN, to provide off-grid coverage profitably. In addition, Vanu’s unique high-resolution coverage mapping tool, VanuMaps, provide MNOs, their partners and potential investors with the high-resolution coverage and population data needed to more accurately and efficiently identify the return on investment afforded by serving previously uncovered villages.

The mission of AMN is to build mobile network base stations serving rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa which have no existing service, providing existing licensed mobile network operators with a capex-free route to add new subscribers and new revenues and with incremental costs which deliver guaranteed operating profits – and with sufficient population to deliver positive operating profits and cash flows for its shareholders.

More details are not available but will be added when available.