A new by 5G Americas whitepaper, titled “LTE Progress Leading to the 5G Massive Internet of Things”is an overview of the technological advancements that will support the expanding IoT vertical markets, including connected cars and wearables. The term Massive IoT (MIoT) has been recently created by the telecom industry to refer to the connection for potentially large number of devices and machines that will call for further definition in the standards for LTE and later for 5G.
The generic requirements for IoT are low cost, energy efficiency, ubiquitous coverage, and scalability (ability to support a large number of connected machines in a network). To legacy operators, IoT services should ideally be able to leverage their existing infrastructure and co-exist with other services. In the 3GPP Release
13 standard, eMTC and NB-IoT were introduced. These technologies met the above generic IoT requirements. They support in-band or guard band operations. Device cost and complexity are reduced. A large quantity of IoT devices can be supported in a network while battery life is extended. Many of the related features were covered in the 5G Americas whitepaper, LTE and 5G Technologies Enabling the Internet of Things.
Jean Au, staff manager, technical marketing, Qualcomm Technologies, and co-leader of the whitepaper said: “Some cellular service providers in the U.S. are already adding more IoT connections than mobile phone connections, and the efforts at 3GPP in defining standards for the successful deployment of a wide variety of services across multiple industries will contribute to the growing success for consumers and the enterprise.”
At present, low-power wide area networks (LPWANs) are already gaining popularity and it is expected that cellular-based technologies including LTE-M (Machine) and Narrowband-IoT (NB-IoT) will emerge as the foremost standards for LPWA by 2020.
Wireless network operators will have the option to choose from several Cellular IoT (CIoT) technologies depending on their spectrum portfolio, legacy networks and requirements of the services they offer.
Vicki Livingston, head of communications, 5G Americas, said:
“There will be a wide range of IoT use cases in the future, and the market is now expanding toward both Massive IoT deployment as well as more advanced solutions that may be categorized as Critical IoT.”
According to Research and Markets, the global IoT platform market will grow at a CAGR of 31.79 percent from 2017 to 2021. The large number of active IoT devices collect data through sensors and actuators and transmit the back to a centralized location. The IoT platform empowers the end-user to make informed decisions using the data. Together with design innovations in 5G architectures, cloud-native edge computing platforms ensure Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications can be run in a cost-effective manner.
Addendum: IDC’s IoT Forecast
Worldwide spending on the Internet of Things (IoT) is forecast to reach $772.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 14.6% over the $674 billion that will be spent in 2017. A new update to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide forecasts worldwide IoT spending to sustain a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.4% through the 2017-2021 forecast period surpassing the $1 trillion mark in 2020 and reaching $1.1 trillion in 2021.
IoT hardware will be the largest technology category in 2018 with $239 billion going largely toward modules and sensors along with some spending on infrastructure and security. Services will be the second largest technology category, followed by software and connectivity. Software spending will be led by application software along with analytics software, IoT platforms, and security software. Software will also be the fastest growing technology segment with a five-year CAGR of 16.1%. Services spending will also grow at a faster rate than overall spending with a CAGR of 15.1% and will nearly equal hardware spending by the end of the forecast.
“By 2021, more than 55% of spending on IoT projects will be for software and services. This is directly in line with results from IDC’s 2017 Global IoT Decision Maker Survey where organizations indicate that software and services are the key areas of focused investment for their IoT projects,” said Carrie MacGillivray, vice president, Internet of Things and Mobility at IDC. “Software creates the foundation upon which IoT applications and use cases can be realized. However, it is the services that help bring all the technology elements together to create a comprehensive solution that will benefit organizations and help them achieve a quicker time to value.”
The industries that are expected to spend the most on IoT solutions in 2018 are manufacturing ($189 billion), transportation ($85 billion), and utilities ($73 billion). IoT spending among manufacturers will be largely focused on solutions that support manufacturing operations and production asset management. In transportation, two thirds of IoT spending will go toward freight monitoring, followed by fleet management. IoT spending in the utilities industry will be dominated by smart grids for electricity, gas, and water. Cross-Industry IoT spending, which represent use cases common to all industries, such as connected vehicles and smart buildings, will be nearly $92 billion in 2018 and rank among the top areas of spending throughout the five-year forecast.
“Consumer IoT spending will reach $62 billion in 2018, making it the fourth largest industry segment. The leading consumer use cases will be related to the smart home, including home automation, security, and smart appliances,” said Marcus Torchia, research director, Customer Insights & Analysis. “Smart appliances will experience strong spending growth over the five-year forecast period and will help to make consumer the fastest growing industry segment with an overall CAGR of 21.0%.”
Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ) will be the geographic region with the most IoT spending in 2018 – $312 billion – followed by North America (the United States and Canada) at $203 billion and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at $171 billion. China will be the country with the largest IoT spending total in 2018 ($209 billion), driven by investments from manufacturing, utilities, and government. IoT spending in the United States will total $194 billion in 2018, led by manufacturing, transportation, and the consumer segment. Japan ($68 billion) and Korea ($29 billion) will be the third and fourth largest countries in 2018, with IoT spending largely driven by the manufacturing industry. Latin America will deliver the fastest overall growth in IoT spending with a five-year CAGR of 28.3%.
The Worldwide Semiannual Internet of Things Spending Guide forecasts IoT spending for 14technologies and 54 use cases across 20 vertical industries in eight regions and 53 countries. Unlike any other research in the industry, the comprehensive spending guide was designed to help vendors clearly understand the industry-specific opportunity for IoT technologies today.
Huawei is highlighting a Tokyo, Japan trial in which the Chinese telecom/IT vendor achieved “5G” like download speeds of 4.52 gigabits per second over ~ three-quarters of a mile using 28 GHz millimeter-wave wireless technology. The trial took place in downtown Tokyo, where a base station working over 28GHz frequency was located at Tokyo Skytree’s viewing deck, 340m above the city.
Working with Japan’s NTT Docomo, Huawei said it was confident of launching a commercial 5G rollout by 2020 (NOTE: the IMT 2020 set of 5G standards are to be finalized by year end 2020).
“The high-speed and long distance support is one of important technical challenges for 5G mmWave conditions. This successful long distance live-demo on a 5G mmWave is a groundbreaking achievement in our joint effort with NTT DOCOMO to build a fundamental 5G commercial environment. This success makes us more confident in realizing the goal of commercializing 5G by 2020,” said Gan Bin, vice president of Huawei’s 5G product line.
Huawei utilized its 5G base station for the test, which supports Massive MIMO and beam forming technologies. Huawei also provided the 5G core network and the 5G mm wave test user equipment.
Huawei anticipates conducting further testing at the world’s biggest 5G testing site in Beijing’s Huairou District.
The test comes amid a flurry of 5G testing and trials around the world. For example, BT and Nokia announced plans for live “5G” tests in the UK earlier this month.
The Small Cell Forum (SCF) commissioned an in-depth survey from Rethink Technology Research to understand more about their deployment plans and business drivers for a dense HetNet, and the barriers they need to overcome. Over 50 tier 1 and 2 mobile and converged operators responded to this survey, which illuminates operators’ deployment plans for network densification, as well as the barriers they expect to have to overcome.
The results showed that cell densification has begun in today’s LTE networks and will intensify in the 5G era, enabled by profound changes to the architecture and economics of small cells.
The SCF forecasts that between 2015 and 2025, new non-residential small cell deployments will grow at a compound annual rate of 36%, to reach almost 8.5 million, and by 2025 deployments will be 22 times higher than in 2015.
Densification is starting in LTE networks and will intensify in the 5G era, enabled by profound changes to the architecture and economics of small cells.
It is clear from the results of the survey that most mobile network operators (MNOs) are starting to plan for dense HetNets, even if they do not intend to deploy the 5G radio network at scale until well into the 2020s. The biggest uptick in new deployments of small cells will be seen in the 2018-2020 period, with a 50% increase, with a second sharp increase in 2023-2024 as 5G densification gets into full swing.
This indicates that many operators are densifying their networks long before they upgrade to 5G – the start of 5G small cell deployment will come in 2020, with 68% of respondents planning to embark on this upgrade before the end of 2022 and the rest later than that. While a smooth migration path to 5G will be important, most MNOs’ main concerns are with immediate issues of deployment in 4G.
Against that context, the following is a summary of some of the key findings of the survey:
• Only 17% of respondents have no plans for large-scale densification. By
contrast, by 2020, 40% of operators expect to deploy between 100 and 350
small cells per square kilometer in the areas they densify (led by transport
hubs, urban downtown regions and business parks).
• When it comes to 5G, 69% of operators planning 5G deployment before 2023
expect to start small cell deployment in tandem with the macro, or ahead of
it. In the first 2-3 years of deploying 5G New Radio, 58% expect to focus
primarily on small cells, 37% mainly in order to densify the network for
enhanced mobile broadband, and 21% mainly to enable new use cases.
• However, densification will happen well in advance of 5G. When asked to
rank their critical requirements for small cells, operators prioritized those
which relate to the here-and-now, not just 5G futures. Low total cost of
ownership (TCO), multivendor interoperability, ease of deployment and good
macro network interworking were the most commonly cited as top three
• It is vital for the industry to support the key requirements as soon as
possible, since the survey shows that many operators would be keen to
accelerate their deployment timeline if their concerns were addressed. For
instance, 19% would ideally like to start at-scale deployment within one year,
but only 7% believe that will be practical and affordable.
• The key factors which would enable them to bring their deadlines forward
would be new sources of affordable fiber for backhaul and fronthaul (53%
cited this), followed by lower overall TCO (50%) and easier access to sites
• The commercial drivers which are creating this new urgency are becoming
more diverse and business-critical. Supporting improved quality of experience
(QoE) – the main determinant of customer satisfaction – through improved
and targeted capacity emerged as the most important driver (placed in the
top three by 40%). This was followed by lower total cost of ownership (TCO)
for the mobile network (38%), and the ability to deploy new services and
revenue streams based on small cells (36%).
• There is increasing diversity of business cases. On top of mobile broadband,
40% plan to introduce new enterprise services enabled by small cells before
2020 – and two-thirds after that – while for IoT services, the figures are 29%
• Density will allow MNOs to address new enterprise requirements. The areas
where the largest number see a business case for density would be transport
hubs, business parks and corporate buildings or campuses, while significant
opportunities are also seen in medium-sized enterprises and the hospitality
and property development sectors.
• To support business case diversity, there is a need for architectural diversity
too. As well as standalone access points, by the end of 2019, 50% also
expect to have deployed distributed radio systems and 33% clusters of small
cells managed by a virtualized controller.
• Other architectural changes are being actively adopted to make densification
easier and support additional use cases. For instance, by the end of 2019,
75% of operators will have implemented small cell SON (self-optimizing
networks), while 25% will have started to deploy end-to-end orchestration of
physical and virtual cells.
• To improve the small cell business case further, especially in the enterprise,
79% expect to support edge computing integrated with small cells, by the
end of 2022. Enterprise edge applications are seen as the leading driver
(40% placed it in their top three).
• To boost capacity, there is a rising need to tap into new sources of spectrum.
By 2022, 66% expect to be using LTE in unlicensed spectrum, and 45% plan
to have deployed small cells in spectrum above 20 GHz.
You can download the entire survey (after filling out a form) here.
Fully two years before the IMT 2020 “5G” standards are completed, Verizon announced at a “sell side analyst meeting” that it will launch a “5G” fixed wireless broadband service for residential customer Internet access in three to five U.S. markets in the second half of next year (2018). The company plans to use what they claim is “an early version of 5G” for the fixed wireless services. It’s supposedly the same technology that AT&T is testing in several cities.
As I’ve been saying for quite some time, these so called “5G” commercial service offerings are way to premature, because the ITU-R WP5D won’t even complete evaluation of the IMT 2020 Radio Access Network (RAN) technologies by end of 2020!
Verizon’s first commercial launch is planned to be in Sacramento, CA in the second half of 2018. Details of that launch, and the announcement of additional markets, will be provided at a later date, the company said. Verizon plans to commercially deploy this broadband fixed wireless access service to a total of three to five markets in 2018.
Verizon already trialed 5G residential applications in 11 markets in 2017. The commercial launch is based on customer experience and on Verizon’s confidence in new technology powered by mmWave spectrum, the #1 US mobile operator said.
The company sees a potential market of 30 million households in the US for “5G” residential broadband services. The initial launch in 2018 is not expected to require significant capex. Speaking at an investor conference, Verizon said its capex in 2018 would be “consistent with the past several years.” The top U.S. mobile operator previously said that its 2017 capex will be between $16.8 billion and $17.5 billion.
“This is a landmark announcement for customers and investors who have been waiting for the 5G future to become a reality,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon CTO. “We appreciate our strong ecosystem partners for their passion and technological support in helping us drive forward with 5G industry standards, for both fixed and mobile applications. The targeted initial launches we are announcing today will provide a strong framework for accelerating 5G’s future deployment on the global standards.”
This “5G” fixed wireless broadband access (FWBA) will use the 28 GHz spectrum band. Verizon forecasts the total addressable U.S. market for that technology is approximately 30 million homes. FWBA seems like a great idea as no fiber or wires have to be installed, but it has many challenges. Those include: poor propagation characteristics of millimeter wave spectrum.
A few slides from Verizon’s presentation:
At the investor conference, Verizon said that 25% to 30% of the “residential broadband market” in the US is “addressable by 5G.” Verizon says that could be up to 30 million households. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2016 there were 125.82 million across the US.
In the trials so far, Verizon said that it has served a 19 floor apartment building with the 28GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) 5G connection. The operator has been testing “home units” and “optional outdoor antennas” in the tests. Verizon has also been testing outdoor window-mount antennas that use an optical connection to an indoor WiFi router to distribute the signal.
Verizon is continuing to test its own fixed 5G specification in multiple markets. It will test the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) release 15 New Radio (NR) specification in the US in 2018.
–>Note yet again that 3GPP’s NR has not even been presented to ITU-R WP5D nor have any other Radio Interface Technologies (RITs). However, 3GPP has indicated it’s intent to submit NR for consideration late in 2018 when WP 5D will start to evaluate RITs.
Matt Ellis, EVP & CFO, will speak at the UBS 45th Annual Global Media and Communications Conference on December 5th at approximately 8:00 AM ET.
Global 5G subscriptions will reach 1 billion by the end of 2023, with 5G covering more than 20% of the global population, Ericsson has predicted.
Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report predicts that the first 5G new radio deployments will go live in 2019, with major deployments from 2020. Early 5G deployments are expects in markets including South Korea, Japan, China and the US.
LTE will meanwhile become the dominant mobile access technology by the end of this year. But after reaching a peak in 2021, subscriptions are expected to drop off slightly as they are supplanted by 5G.
Global LTE subscribers are tipped to reach an estimated 5.5 billion subscriptions by the end of 2023, with a global LTE population coverage of 85%.
VoLTE subscriptions are also expected to reach 5.5 billion by end-2023, accounting for more than 80% of combined LTE and 5G subscriptions.
The report also projects that global mobile data traffic will pass 100 exabytes per month in 2023, the equivalent of 5.5 million years of HD video streaming.
- 5G will cover more than 20 percent of the global population six years from now, according to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report
- Mobile data traffic continues to grow, primarily fueled by increased viewing of video content
- LTE will be the dominant access technology by end of this year, driven by demand for improved user experience and faster networks
“The latest report highlights trends in mobile subscription and data traffic growth, as well as the industry’s effort to tackle the increasing demands on mobile networks globally,” Ericsson chief strategy officer and head of technology and emerging business Niklas Heuveldop said.
“In addition, the report examines the emergence of new use cases as network capabilities evolve – smartwatches, IoT alarms, and augmented reality-assisted maintenance and repair, to name a few. As we prepare for 5G, these trends will continue to set the agenda for the mobile industry going forward.”
South Korea telco LG U+ and its wireless network equipment partner Huawei confirmed that they have completed what they say is the world’s first large-scale 5G network test in a pre-commercial environment. The test network was situated in the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea and consisted of both 3.5GHz and 28GHz base stations (the two most popular frequency bands for 5G globally so far).
The partners said the test also helped to successfully verify the technologies of UHD (4K) IPTV video and other commercial 5G services in a typical dense, urban environment. High-speed mobility, dual connectivity, and inter-cell handovers under continuous networking conditions were also validated.
LG U+ reported that the test results for the end-to-end network trial returned average data rates of 1Gbit/s over the 3.5GHz frequency band and more than 5Gbit/s for dual connectivity over both high and low bands.
During the trial in a typical dense urban area, the companies achieved average data rates of 1Gbps over the low band and more than 5Gbps for dual connectivity under both low and high bands. A peak data rate of 20Gbps was attained through this dual connectivity.
“The world’s first large-scale joint 5G pre-commercial test indicated a significant breakthrough in 5G,” said Kim Dae Hee, VP of the 5G Strategy Unit at LG U+. “We believe that Huawei is set to help LG U+ implement the world’s first Commercial 5G network over 3.5GHz”
LG U+ took to the road with its 5G Tour Bus to showcase 4K IPTV (picture below). It also demonstrated a VR drone designed by Huawei’s Wireless X Labs and kitted out with what the vendor says is the world’s first 5G customer premise equipment (CPE) operating in the 3.5GHz band. The demonstration reportedly showed throughput speeds of up to 1.5Gbit/s whilst the drone was flying at an altitude of over 100m.
“In the Gangnam District of Korea, we have successfully validated the 5G pre-commercial network and released the world’s first 3.5GHz CPE.,” said Zhou Yuefeng, CMO of Huawei’s Wireless Product Line.
“This demonstrates that Huawei will maintain its capability to provide competitive E2E 5G network products in 2018. LG U+ and Huawei will continue to conduct further research into 5G technologies and build a robust E2E industry ecosystem to achieve business success in the upcoming 5G era.”
The test results returned average data rates of 1 Gbps over the low band and more than 5 Gbps for dual connectivity over high and low bands. A peak data rate of 20 Gbps and an average data rate of more than 5 Gbps were achieved through dual connectivity over 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz. During the test, a 5G tour bus delivered 5G-based IPTV 4K, and a VR drone was demonstrated in the ‘5G for All’ experience room at the LG U+ headquarters, which required data rates ranging from 20 Mbps to 100 Mbps.
- South Korea’s mobile network operators are expected to roll out trial 5G services in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics. SK Telecom (SKT) completed a successful test of five-band carrier aggregation (5C). SK Telecom, KT and LG U+‘ launched the world’s first commercial interconnected VoLTE service.
- South Korea’s mobile market has slow growth over the last few years due to a highly mature market. Organic growth by the three main mobile operators, together with the multitude of niche MVNOs will result in further growth to 2018 however growth rates will taper off further over the next few years as the market further matures. Market penetration reached 117% in 2016 and is predicted to reach between 119% and 122% by 2021 driven by the uptake of both 4G and 5G services. The split in mobile operator market share has remained relatively constant over the last two decades. LG U+ (formerly known as LG Telecom) has made a marginal increase in market share over that time.
New ITU-T standards related to “5G”:
ITU-T has reached first-stage approval (‘consent’ level) of three new international standards defining the requirements for IMT-2020 (“5G”) network systems as they relate to network operation, softwarization and fixed-mobile convergence.
The standards were developed by ITU-T’s standardization expert group for future networks, ITU-T Study Group 13.
Note: The first-stage approvals come in parallel with ITU-T Study Group 13’s establishment of a new ITU Focus Group to study machine learning in 5G systems.
End-to-end flexibility will be one of the defining features of 5G networks. This flexibility will result in large part from the introduction of network softwarization, the ability to create highly specialized network slices using advanced Software-Defined Networking (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and cloud computing capabilities.
The three new ITU-T standards are the following:
- ITU Y.3101 “Requirements of the IMT-2020 network” describes the features of 5G networks necessary to ensure efficient 5G deployment and high network flexibility.
- ITU Y.3150 “High-level technical characteristics of network softwarization for IMT-2020” describes the value of slicing in both horizontal and vertical, application-specific environments.
- ITU Y.3130 “Requirements of IMT-2020 fixed-mobile convergence” calls for unified user identity, unified charging, service continuity, guaranteed support for high quality of service, control plane convergence and smart management of user data.
ITU’s work on “International Mobile Telecommunications for 2020 and beyond (IMT-2020)” defines the framework and overall objectives of the 5G standardization process as well as the roadmap to guide this process to its conclusion by 2020.
ITU’s Radiocommunication Sector (ITU-R) is coordinating the international standardization and identification of spectrum for 5G mobile development. ITU’s Telecommunications Standardization Sector (ITU-T) is playing a similar convening role for the technologies and architectures of the wireline elements of 5G systems.
ITU standardization work on the wireline elements of 5G systems continues to accelerate.
ITU-T Study Group 15 (Transport, access and home networks) is developing a technical report on 5G requirements associated with backbone optical transport networks. ITU-T Study Group 11 (Protocols and test specifications) is studying the 5G control plane, relevant protocols and related testing methodologies. ITU-T Study Group 5 (Environment and circular economy) has assigned priority to its emerging study of the environmental requirements of 5G systems.
ITU-T Study Group 13 (Future networks), ITU’s lead group for 5G wireline studies, continues to support the shift to software-driven network management and orchestration. The group is progressing draft 5G standards addressing subjects including network architectures, network capability exposure, network slicing, network orchestration, network management-control, and frameworks to ensure high quality of service.
The “5G” wireline standards developed by ITU-T Study Group 13 and approved in 2017 include:
- ITU Y.3071 “Data Aware Networking (Information Centric Networking) – Requirements and Capabilities” will support ultra-low latency 5G communications by enabling proactive in-network data caching and limiting redundant traffic in core networks.
- ITU Y.3100 “Terms and definitions for IMT-2020 network” provides a foundational set of terminology to be applied universally across 5G-related standardization work.
- ITU Y.3111 “IMT-2020 network management and orchestration framework” establishes a framework and related principles for the design of 5G networks.
- ITU Y.3310 “IMT-2020 network management and orchestration requirements” describes the capabilities required to support emerging 5G services and applications.
- Supplement 44 to the ITU Y.3100 series “Standardization and open source activities related to network softwarization of IMT-2020”summarizes open-source and standardization initiatives relevant to ITU’s development of standards for network softwarization.
“5G” Core Network functions & Services Based Architecture:
The primary focus of ITU-R WP5D IMT 2020 standardization efforts are on the radio aspects (as per its charter). That includes the Radio Access Network (RAN)/Radio Interface Technology (RIT), spectral efficiency, latency, frequencies, etc.
To actually deliver services over a 5G RAN, a system architecture and core network are required. The core network provides functions such as authentication, session management, mobility management, forwarding of user data, and (possibly) virtualization of network functions.
3GPP Technical Specification (TS) 23.501 — “System Architecture for the 5G System” — is more commonly referred to as the Service-Based Architecture (SBA) for the 5G Core network. It uses service-based interfaces between control-plane functions, while user-plane functions connect over point-to-point links. This is shown in the figure below. The service-based interfaces will use HTTP 2.0 over TCP in the initial release, with QUIC transport being considered for later 3GPP releases.
There are many aspects to this, but the white paper highlights:
- How the idea of “network function services” (3GPP terminology) aligns with the micro-services based view of network service composition
- How operators may take advantage of decoupled control- and user-plane to scale performance
- How the design might enable operators to deploy 5GC functions at edge locations, such as central offices, stadiums or enterprise campuses
The first 5G core standards (really specifications because 3GPP is not a formal standards body) are scheduled to be included in 3GPP Release 15, which “freezes” in June next year and will be formally approved three months later. This will be a critical release for the industry that will set the development path of the 5G system architecture for years to come.
Download white paper: Service-Based Architecture for 5G Core Networks
“The 3GPP Technical Specifications and Technical Reports have, in themselves, no legal standing. They only become “official” (standards) when transposed into corresponding publications of the Partner Organizations (or the national / regional standards body acting as publisher for the Partner).”
AT&T has introduced a high speed “4G” service in the form of LTE-Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) in Indianapolis, IN. LTE-LAA uses unlicensed spectrum. According to AT&T it will provide theoretical gigabit speeds to some areas of the city. LTE-LAA has reached a peak of 979 Mbps in a San Francisco, CA trial.
“Demand continues to grow at a rapid pace on our network,” the Bill Soards, President AT&T Indiana in a press release. That’s why offering customers the latest technologies and increased wireless capacity by combining licensed and unlicensed spectrum is an important milestone.”
The U.S. mega telco recently announced plans to roll out its 5G Evolution program in Minneapolis. That initiative – which aims to provide networks with the capability to support 5G when it is ready – already is in use in parts of Indianapolis and in Austin, TX. It features LTE Advanced features such as 256 QAM, 4×4 MIMO and 3-way Carrier Aggregation.
AT&T says that it invested $350 million in its wired and wireless network infrastructure in Indianapolis between 2014 and 2016.
The Telecom Infra Project (TIP) is gaining a lot of awareness and market traction, judging by last week’s very well attended TIP Summit at the Santa Clara Convention Center. The number of telecom network operators presented was very impressive, especially considering that none were from the U.S. with the exception of AT&T, which presented on behalf of the Open Compute Project (OCP) Networking Group. It was announced at the summit that the OCP Networking group had formed an alliance with TIP.
The network operators that presented or were panelists included representatives from: Deutsche Telekom AG, Telefonica, BT, MTN Group (Africa), Bharti Airtel LTD (India), Reliance Jio (India), Vodafone, Turkcell (Turkey), Orange, SK Telecom, TIM Brasil, etc. Telecom Italia, NTT, and others were present too. Cable Labs – the R&D arm of the MSOs/cablecos – was represented in a panel where they announced a new TIP Community Lab (details below).
Facebook co-founded TIP along with Intel, Nokia, Deutsche Telekom, and SK Telecom at the 2016 Mobile World Congress event. Like the OCP (also started by Facebook), its mission is to dis-aggregate network hardware into modules and define open source software building blocks. As its name implies, TIP’s focus is telecom infrastructure specific in its work to develop and deploy new networking technologies. TIP members include more than 500 companies, including telcos, Internet companies, vendors, consulting firms and system integrators. Membership seems to have grown exponentially in the last year.
During his opening keynote speech, Axel Clauberg, VP of technology and innovation at Deutsche Telekom and chairman of the TIP Board of Directors, announced that three more operators had joined the TIP Board: BT, Telefonica, and Vodafone.
“TIP is truly operator-focused,” Clauberg said. “It’s called Telecom Infrastructure Project, and I really count on the operators to continue contributing to TIP and to take us to new heights.” That includes testing and deploying the new software and hardware contributed to TIP, he added.
“My big goal for next year is to get into the deployment stage,” Clauberg said. “We are working on deployable technology. [In 2018] I want to be measured on whether we are successfully entering that stage.”
Jay Parikh, head of engineering and infrastructure at Facebook, echoed that TIP’s end goal is deployments, whether it is developing new technologies, or supporting the ecosystem that will allow them to scale.
“It is still very early. Those of you who have been in the telco industry for a long time know that it does not move lightning fast. But we’re going to try and change that,” Parikh said.
TIP divides its work into three areas — access, backhaul, and core & management — and each of the project groups falls under one of those three areas. Several new project groups were announced at the summit:
- Artificial Intelligence and applied Machine Learning (AI/ML): will focus on using machine learning and automation to help carriers keep pace with the growth in network size, traffic volume, and service complexity. It will also work to accelerate deployment of new over-the-top services, autonomous vehicles, drones, and augmented reality/virtual reality.
- End-to-End Network Slicing (E2E-NS): aims to create multiple networks that share the same physical infrastructure. That would allow operators to dedicate a portion of their network to a certain functionality and should make it easier for them to deploy 5G-enabled applications.
- openRAN: will develop RAN technologies based on General Purpose Processing Platforms (GPPP) and disaggregated software.
The other projects/working groups are the following:
- Edge Computing: This group is addressing system integration requirements with innovative, cost-effective and efficient end-to-end solutions that serve rural and urban regions in optimal and profitable ways.
- This group is pioneering a 60GHz wireless networking system to deliver gigabits of capacity in dense, urban environments more quickly, easily and at a lower cost than deploying fiber. A contribution was made to IEEE 802.11ay task force this year on use cases for mmW backhaul.
Above illustration courtesy of TIP mmW Networks Group
- Open Optical Packet Transport: This project group will define Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) open packet transport architecture that triggers new innovation and avoids implementation lock-ins. Open DWDM systems include open line system & control, transponder & network management and packet-switch and router technologies.
- The Working Group is focused on enabling carriers to more efficiently deliver new services and applications by using mobile edge computing (MEC) to turn the RAN network edge (mobile, fixed, licensed and unlicensed spectrum) into an open media and service hub.
- The project is pioneering a virtualized RAN (VRAN) solution comprised of low-cost remote radio units that can be managed and dynamically reconfigured by a centralized infrastructure over non-ideal transport.
- project group will develop an open RAN architecture by defining open interfaces between internal components and focusing on the lab activity with various companies for multi-vendor interoperability. The goal is to broaden the mobile ecosystem of related technology companies to drive a faster pace of innovation.
A complete description, with pointers/hyperlinks to respective project/work group charters is in the TIP Company Member Application here.
TEACs – Innovation Centers for TIP:
Also of note was the announcement of several new TEACs – TIP Ecosystem Acceleration Centers, where start-ups and investors can work together with incumbent network operators to progress their respective agendas for telecom infrastructure.
“By bringing together the key actors – established operators, cutting-edge startups, and global & local investors – TEACs establish the necessary foundation to foster collaboration, accelerate trials, and bring deployable infrastructure solutions to the telecom industry.”
TEACs are located in London (BT), Paris (Orange), and Seoul (SK Telecom). .
TIP Community Labs:
TIP Community Labs are physical spaces that enable collaboration between member companies in a TIP project group to develop telecom infrastructure solutions. While the labs are dedicated to TIP projects and host TIP project teams, the space and basic equipment are sponsored by individual TIP member companies hosting the space. The labs are located in: Seoul, South Korea (sponsored by SK Telecom); Bonn, Germany (sponsored by Deutsche Telekom); Menlo Park, California, USA (sponsored by Facebook). Coming Soon Rio de Janiero, Brazil – to be sponsored by TIM Brasil. At this summit, Cable Labs announced it will soon open a TIP Community Lab in Louisville, CO.
AT&T’s Tom Anschutz (a very respected colleague) said during his November 9th – 1pm keynote presentation:
“Network functions need to be disaggregated and ‘cloudified.’ We need to decompose monolithic, vertically integrated systems into building blocks; create abstraction layers that hide complexity. Design code and hardware as independent modules that don’t bring down the entire IT system/telecom network if they fail.”
Other noteworthy quotes:
“We’re going to build these use-case demonstrations,” said Mansoor Hanif, director of converged networks and innovation at BT. “If you’re going to do something as difficult and complex as network slicing, you might as well do it right.”
“This is the opening of a system that runs radio as a software on top of general purpose processes and interworks with independent radio,” said Santiago Tenorio, head of networks at Vodafone Group. The project will work to reduce the costs associated with building mobile networks and make it easier for smaller vendors to enter the market. “By opening the system will we get a lower cost base? Definitely yes,” absolutely yes,” Tenorio added.
“Opening up closed, black-box systems enables innovation at every level, so that customers can meet the challenges facing their networks faster and more efficiently,” said Josh Leslie, CEO of Cumulus Networks. “We’re excited to work with the TIP community to bring open systems to networks beyond the data center.” [See reference press release from Cumulus below].
“Open approaches are key to achieving TIP’s mission of disaggregating the traditional network deployment approach,” said Hans-Juergen Schmidtke, Co-Chair of the TIP Open Optical Packet Transport project group. “Our collaboration with Cumulus Networks to enable Cumulus Linux on Voyager (open packet DWDM architecture framework and white box transponder design) is an important contribution that will help accelerate the ecosystem’s adoption of Voyager.”
Closing Comments: Request for Reader Inputs!
- What’s really interesting is that there are no U.S. telco members of TIP. Bell Canada is the only North American telecom carrier among its 500 members. Equinix and Cable Labs are the only quasi- network operator members in the U.S.
- Rather than write a voluminous report which few would read, we invite readers to contact the author or post a comment on areas of interest after reviewing the 2017 TIPS Summit agenda.
In her October 31st keynote at the Fog World Congress, Alicia Abella, PhD and Vice President – Advanced Technology Realization at AT&T, discussed the implications of edge computing (EC) for network service providers, emphasizing that it will make the business case for 5G realizable when low latency is essential for real time applications (see illustration below).
The important trends and key drivers for edge computing were described along with AT&T’s perspective of its “open network” edge computing architecture emphasizing open source software modules.
Author’s Note: Ms. Abella did not distinguish between edge and fog computing nor did she even mention the latter term during her talk. We tried to address definitions and fog network architecture in this post. An earlier blog post quoted AT&T as being “all in” for edge computing to address low latency next generation applications.
AT&T Presentation Highlights:
- Ms. Abella defined EC as the placement of processing and storage resources at the perimeter of a service provider’s network in order to deliver low latency applications to customers. That’s consistent with the accepted definition.
“Edge compute is the next step in getting more out of our network, and we are busy putting together an edge computing (network) architecture,” she said.
- “5G-like” applications will be the anchor tenant for network provider’s EC strategy. augmented reality/virtual reality, Multi-person real time video conferencing, and autonomous vehicles were a few applications cited in the illustration below:
Above illustration courtesy of AT&T.
“Size, location, configuration of EC resources will vary, depending on capacity demand and use cases,” said Ms. Abella.
- Benefits of EC to network service providers include:
- Reduce backhaul traffic
- Maintain quality of experience for customers
- Reduce cost by decomposing and disaggregating access function
- Optimize current central office infrastructure
- Improve reliability of the network by distributing content between the edge and centralized data centers
- Deliver innovative services not possible without edge compute, e.g. Industrial IoT autonomous vehicles, smart cities, etc
“In order to achieve some of the latency requirements of these [5G applications?] services a service provider needs to place IT resources at the edge of the network. Especially, when looking at autonomous vehicles where you have mission critical safety requirements. When we think about the edge, we’re looking at being able to serve these low latency requirements for those [real time] applications.”
- AT&T has “opened our network” to enable new services and reduce operational costs. The key attributes are the following:
- Modular architecture
- Robust network APIs
- Policy management
- Shared infrastructure for simplification and scaling
- Network Automation platform achieved using INDIGO on top of ONAP
- AT&T will offer increased network value and adaptability as traffic volumes change:
- Cost/performance leadership
- Improved speed to innovation
- Industry leading security, performance, reliability
“We are busy thinking about and putting together what that edge compute architecture would look like. It’s being driven by the need for low latency.”
In terms of where, physically, edge computing and storage is located:
“It depends on the use case. We have to be flexible when defining this edge compute architecture. There’s a lot of variables and a lot of constraints. We’re actually looking at optimization methods. We want to deploy edge compute nodes in mobile data centers, in buildings, at customers’ locations and in our central offices. Where it will be depends on where there is demand, where we have spectrum, we are developing methods for optimizing the locations. We want to be able to place those nodes in a place that will minimize cost to us (AT&T), while maintaining quality of experience. Size, location and configuration is going to depend on capacity demand and the use cases,” Alicia said.
- Optimization of EC processing to meet latency constraints may require GPUs and FPGAs in additional to conventional microprocessors. One such application cite was running video analytics for surveillance cameras.
- Real time control of autonomous vehicles would require a significant investment in roadside IT infrastructure but have an uncertain return-on-investment. AT&T now has 12 million smart cars on its network, a number growing by a million per quarter.
- We need to support different connectivity to the core network and use “SDN” within the site.
- Device empowerment at the edge must consider that while mobile devices (e.g. smart phones and tablets) are capable of executing complex tasks, they have been held back by battery life and low power requirements.
- Device complexity means higher cost to manufacturers and consumers.
- Future of EC may include “crowd sourcing computing power in your pocket.” The concept here is to distribute the computation needed over many people’s mobile devices and compensate them via Bitcoin, other crypto currency or asset class. Block chain may play a role here.