Connected Home IoT Technolgies and the EU TeamUp5G Project

by David Alejandro Urquiza Villalonga and Manuel José López Morales, researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Introduction:

The concept of the “connected home” has gained a lot of attention in the last decade as a means to improve various aspects of life.  Entertainment, security, energy and appliance control, and electronic health monitoring are just a few representative applications. Recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become increasingly important due to the COVID19 pandemic.  With most employees working from home, remote access tools are booming because they connect people with their machines and assets. They enable people to remotely communicate with machines and perform virtual inspections, remote diagnostics as well as remote support.  

Therefore, the development of a dynamic IoT environment that adapts to each individual’s needs is essential to provide an optimal productivity scenario.  In this article, we describe an intelligent platform which interconnects several sensors and actuators using an IoT approach to collect and process big volumes of data. The IoT system, combined with a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tool, learns the user’s behavior and offers improved new services according to their preferences [1] [2].

In this context, applications related to home security, remote health monitoring, climate control and lighting, entertainment, smart sleep, and intelligent shopping have been developed. 

Challenges in IoT development and deployment:

There are several challenges to support massive IoT deployments providing connectivity for both cellular and non-cellular devices. New technologies with higher energy and spectral efficiency are required to enable smart device-to-device (D2D) communications with reduced connectivity costs [3]. The technical requirements to fulfill include:

• The interconnection of several sensors in an intelligent management platform according to a massive machine-type-communications (mMTC) approach. In this sense, new spectrum access techniques and energy-efficient technologies to support the operation of a large number of devices are required.
• Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) communication to support video streaming for entertainment, remote working, and online teaching.
• Scalability: this will become an issue mainly in relations to generic consumers as the number of devices in operation rises.
• Dense and durable off-grid power sources: it would make a difference if power could be broadcasted wirelessly to smartphones and sensors from a distance.

Popular current smart home devices:

Some of the most popular smart home devices include the intelligent wireless speaker “Google Home” with a connected voice management system that interacts with the Google Assistant helping with music, calendar, news, traffic, etc. On the other hand, Amazon has developed its own intelligent devices, namely “Amazon Echo” (with Alexa) and “Amazon Echo Plus,” which includes a smart home Zigbee hub for easy setup and control of compatible smart home devices.

Far-field speech recognition is included in the  “Amazon Echo Spot,” which is designed with a smart alarm clock that can make video calls with a tiny 2.5-inch screen, or become a nursery camera. LifeSmart provides smart home solutions focusing on security, energy-saving, and bringing convenience to life with a complex network of automatic intercommunication devices that simplifies daily routines [4].

Renesas offers a wide variety of IoT solutions for security, comfiness, health, connectivity and others, for different sectors such as automotive, healthcare, industrial, and home appliances [5].

Supporting technologies for massive IoT deployment:

Nevertheless, many products offered by companies still provide IoT solutions that can be thought as of being in an infancy state. The underlying communication technologies have to increase their capabilities in order to overcome the challenging needs and provide an improvement to IoT solutions.

Therefore, new wireless communication technologies [including 5G (IMT 2020), WiFi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax), Bluetooth 5, etc.] will be combined with classical short range wireless technologies [such as ZigBee, NFC and others] and installed in homes and small business offices.  Low Power Wide Area Network  (LPWAN) technologies from cellular carriers are LTE-Cat M1 , narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) and LoRa/LoRaWAN.

Several studies reveal that higher frequencies are expected to be able to operate as complementary bands for the deployment of 5G networks with higher capacity. It is expected that millimeter wave (mmWave) ultra-dense small-cells supported by massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) will be able to offer the capabilities to interconnect multiple devices and to provide high-speed services even in indoor scenarios. These small-cells may be interconnected with each other and with the core network by means of a fiber optic connection or with a mmWave backhaul.

Editor’s Note:  Some wireless communications professionals believe that a 5G fixed wireless network, using massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) systems at millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies, will be able to offer high throughput and low latency to support many WiFi connected home devices.  Verizon’s 5G Home Internet is an example of this.

On the other hand, network densification is a promising technology to overcome many issues in mmWave systems such as blockage and short-range coverage that can significantly increase the capacity of the network. Therefore, Ultra-dense networks (UDN) compound by small cells (SCs) is also considered to have an important role in IoT connectivity.

In addition, a fundamental feature needed to support massive IoT is scalability on the device and the infrastructure sides which can be provided by 5G cellular networks. 5G systems will be able to offer connectivity to an extremely large number of low-cost, low-power, low-complexity devices, based on an evolution of the current LTE narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) [3].

New radio access technologies will also be required.  For example, cognitive radio (CR) to allocate bandwidth dynamically and to handle high interference levels. In addition, the big data processing capabilities for the AI learning and prediction process is supported only by 5G networks.

TeamUp5G Project:

TeamUp5G [6] is a European Training Network (ETN) in the frame of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSCA ITN) of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 frameworkTeamUp5G’s EU funding adds up to 3.72 million Euros between 2019 and 2022.

TeamUp5G is currently working on the use cases, technical challenges, and solutions to facilitate the technical feasibility of ultra-dense small cell networks.

The research objectives of TeamUp5G are focused on solving three problems: (1) Interference Management, waveforms, and mMIMO, (2) Dynamic Spectrum Management and Optimisation, and (3) Energy Consumption Reduction. Among others, it can provide the technical solutions to make massive IoT Smart Home connectivity feasible. Some of their research results include [7] and [8].

Where in Europe is TeamUp5G:

What Is the TeamUp5G Project:

Image Credit:  TeamUp5G Project

In reference [7], the authors study a cognitive radio system with energy harvesting capabilities (CR-EH) to improve the spectral and energy efficiency according to the green communication paradigm. A novel optimal sensing policy to maximize detection performance of available spectrum and to protect primary users from interference is developed. The proposed scheme is based on the efficient use of harvested energy to implement spectrum sensing operations. Offline and online scheduling policies are derived with an optimal formulation based on convex optimization theory and Dynamic Programming (DP) algorithm, respectively. In addition, two heuristic solutions with low complexity are also proposed to dynamically manage the use of spectrum with high levels of energy efficiency which is essential for IoT deployment.

In reference [8], the authors demonstrated how scenarios with stringent conditions such as high mobility, high frequency selective, low SNR and short-packet communications can benefit from the use of non-coherent mMIMO. Non-coherent mMIMO avoids the need of channel state information (CSI) to extract the benefits of mMIMO. This avoids the waste of resources due to the overhead created by the orthogonal signals, which is more severe in scenarios with stringent conditions. These types of scenarios are very common in Home IoT, since low battery powered devices will be the most common, such as a variety of domestic sensors and actuators. Furthermore, in short-packet communications, the use of CSI is proportionally greater due to shorter useful data as also happens in Home IoT, in which many devices send short bursts of data from time to time, thus benefiting from the use of non-coherent communications.

Thus, it has been shown that new interference management techniques, energy harvesting, and non-coherent communications can overcome some of the technical challenges inherent in IoT networks for Smart Home applications.

Conclusions:

In this article, we have covered some aspects considered in IoT Smart Home 5G. We have first made an introduction with the basics of the use of IoT in homes, aided by 5G technology and AI. Secondly, we have presented some already existing solutions from companies such as Google, Amazon, LifeSmart, and Renesas, which work over legacy networks and thus do not extract all the potential benefits of 5G IoT Smart Home. We have continued stating the main technical challenges in IoT deployment. We have defined some technologies that will support the use of IoT at homes, including massive multiple-input multiple-output, millimeter waves, ultra dense networks, small cells, and cognitive radio. We have talked about the TeamUp5G project which partly focuses on the research of new solutions that can make the massive deployment of IoT Smart Home feasible.

From the perspective of the authors, the following decade will see an increase in the appearance of products based on the referenced  technologies, which will bring the concept of IoT Smart Home based on 5G closer to reality.

References:
[1] K. E. Skouby y P. Lynggaard, «Smart home and smart city solutions enabled by 5G, IoT, AAI and CoT services», en 2014 International Conference on Contemporary Computing and Informatics (IC3I), nov. 2014, pp. 874-878, doi: 10.1109/IC3I.2014.7019822.
[2] H. Uddin et al., «IoT for 5G/B5G Applications in Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Wearables and Connected Cars», en 2019 IEEE 24th International Workshop on Computer Aided Modeling and Design of Communication Links and Networks (CAMAD), sep. 2019, pp. 1-5, doi: 10.1109/CAMAD.2019.8858455.
[3] S. Ahmadi, 5G NR: Architecture, Technology, Implementation, and Operation of 3GPP New Radio Standards. Academic Press, 2019.
[4] https://iot.ilifesmart.com/
[5] https://www.renesas.com/us/en/solutions.html
[6] https://teamup5g.webs.tsc.uc3m.es/
[7] D. A. Urquiza-Villalonga, J. Torres-Gómez, y M. J. Fernández-Getino-García, «Optimal Sensing Policy for Energy Harvesting Cognitive Radio Systems», IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 19, n.o 6, pp. 3826-3838, jun. 2020, doi: 10.1109/TWC.2020.2978818.
[8] M. J. Lopez-Morales, K. Chen-Hu and A. Garcia-Armada, “Differential Data-Aided Channel Estimation for Up-Link Massive SIMO-OFDM,” in IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society, vol. 1, pp. 976-989, 2020, doi: 10.1109/OJCOMS.2020.3008634.

Extended-range 5G NR data call over mmWave completed; Ericsson & Qualcomm test 5G SA Carrier Aggregation

Qualcomm Technologies, Casa Systems and Ericsson announced that the companies successfully completed what they call the world’s first extended-range 5G NR data call over mmWave. The extended range data call was completed in Regional Victoria, Australia on 20 June, achieving a farthest-ever connection of 3.8 kilometers (km).

This so called “breakthrough” from Qualcomm Technologies, Casa Systems and Ericsson provides global network operators and ISPs with the reach and performance to offer fixed broadband wireless as a “last mile” access technology.  Of course, line of sight communications (i.e. no trees, walls or other blockages permitted). With the increased range demonstrated for mmWave, that technology may be suitable for fixed wireless access (FWA) as well as for 5G mobile service in suburban or even rural areas that won’t require as many small cells or high density cell towers.

Network operators will have the potential to use their existing mobile network assets to deliver fixed wireless services and expand their service with ease to new areas, from urban to rural, while delivering 5G’s multi-gigabit speeds and ultra-low latency to a wider customer base within their coverage footprint. In addition, this milestone will proliferate the roll-out of FWA customer-premises equipment (CPE) devices to areas that are often too difficult to reach with traditional broadband, including rural and suburban areas, empowering more customers across the globe to access superior connectivity at fiber optic-like speeds.

The extended-range data call was achieved by applying extended-range software to commercial Ericsson hardware – including Air5121 and Baseband 6630 – and a 5G CPE device powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System with the Qualcomm QTM527 mmWave antenna module.

5G mmWave: facts and fictions you should definitely know

“With the introduction of the Qualcomm QTM527 mmWave antenna module as part of the Snapdragon X55 5G Modem-RF System, we are empowering operators and OEMs to offer high-performance, extended-range multi-gigabit 5G broadband to their customers – which is both flexible and cost-effective, as they can leverage existing 5G network infrastructure,” said Gautam Sheoran, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “With this major milestone being the first step in utilizing mmWave for an extended-range 5G data transfer, our collaboration with Casa Systems and Ericsson is paving the way to implement fixed broadband services for broad coverage in urban, suburban and rural environments.”

“As operators look to close the digital divide and expand broadband services throughout rural, suburban and urban communities, the technology in this data connection underscores the critical role mmWave will play in the global proliferation of 5G networks,” said Steve Collins, senior vice president, access devices, Casa Systems. “This collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies and Ericsson is an industry milestone that makes it possible for operators to offer multi-gigabit broadband services wirelessly as a new broadband alternative solution using mmWave spectrum, and we look forward to delivering innovative CPE devices that further empowers the global broadband delivery ecosystem.”

Ericsson has a long history of working with extended range across generations of mobile technologies, pioneering with 3G, then 4G and now with 5G. By collaborating with leading industry partners like Qualcomm Technologies and Casa Systems, we are able to ensure that everyone can access the transformative benefits of 5G connectivity. This achievement will open up opportunities for communications service providers around the world and how they can use mmWave spectrum for long-range use cases,” said Per Narvinger, head of product area networks, Ericsson.

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5G SA Carrier Aggregation from Qualcomm & Ericsson:

Today’s announcement comes just three days after Qualcomm and Ericsson announced that they completed interoperability tests for 5G standalone (SA) carrier aggregation. Carrier aggregation allows operators to use multiple sub-6 GHz spectrum channels simultaneously to transfer data between base stations and a 5G mobile device.

The test was completed at Ericsson’s labs in Beijing, China. The connection reached 2.5 Gb/s peak speeds by aggregating 100 MHz and 60 MHz within the 2.5 GHz (n41) TDD band in a 70% downlink configuration and using 4×4 multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) technology.  In Sweden, the two companies established a successful 5G SA carrier aggregation data call by combining 20 MHz in the 600 MHz (n71) FDD band with 100 MHz of spectrum in the 2.5 GHz (n41) TDD band.

Implementation of 5G carrier aggregation delivers enhanced network capacity along with improved 5G speeds and reliability in challenging wireless conditions, allowing consumers to experience smoother video streaming and enjoy faster downloads. This key 5G capability is expected to be widely deployed by operators around the world in 2021, according to Ericsson.

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About Qualcomm
Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch, and expansion of 5G.  When we connected the phone to the internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our foundational technologies enable the mobile ecosystem and are found in every 3G, 4G and 5G smartphone. We bring the benefits of mobile to new industries, including automotive, the internet of things, and computing, and are leading the way to a world where everything and everyone can communicate and interact seamlessly.

Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of our engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of our products and services businesses, including our QCT semiconductor business.

About Casa Systems, Inc.
Casa Systems, Inc. is delivering physical, virtual and cloud-native 5G infrastructure and customer premise networking for high-speed data and multi-service communications networks. Our core and edge convergence technology enables public and private networks for both communications service providers and enterprises. Casa Systems’ products deliver higher performance, improved network flexibility and scalability, increased operational efficiency and lower total cost of ownership (TCO). Commercially deployed in more than 70 countries, Casa serves over 475 Tier 1 and regional service providers worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.casa-systems.com.

About Ericsson
Ericsson enables communications service providers to capture the full value of connectivity. The company’s portfolio spans Networks, Digital Services, Managed Services, and Emerging Business and is designed to help our customers go digital, increase efficiency and find new revenue streams. Ericsson’s investments in innovation have delivered the benefits of telephony and mobile broadband to billions of people around the world. The Ericsson stock is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm and on Nasdaq New York. www.ericsson.com

References:

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/08/31/2086269/0/en/Qualcomm-Casa-Systems-and-Ericsson-Achieve-World-s-First-Extended-Range-5G-NR-Data-Call-Over-mmWave.html

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/qualcomm-casa-systems-ericsson-achieve-extended-range-5g-data-call-over-mmwave–1352053

https://www.ericsson.com/en/news/2020/8/5g-carrier-aggregation

https://www.qualcomm.com/invention/5g/5g-nr/mmwave

Verizon to double 5G mmWave cities and use DSS by end of 2020

Verizon plans to double the number of cities covered by its mmWave based 5G wireless network by the end of the year.  The company also said it will expand its mmWave 5G coverage areas in the 31 cities where it already offers the service, according to a Fortune article citing comments from Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg. 
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CEO Vestberg also said that Verizon would expand its 5G Home fixed wireless Internet service to a total of ten cities during 2020, up from the five it currently covers. That’s noteworthy considering Verizon recently overhauled the offering to include a do-it-yourself installation component coupled with new, 3GPP-Release 15 5G NR compatible network equipment.”
Verizon did not name the additional cities it will expand 5G Home and mmWave 5G services.
“We have the opportunity to continue our journey to be the leader on 5G,” Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said at a meeting with investors in New York on Thursday. “We’re not only expanding markets, we’re also expanding coverage in all the markets.”
Verizon’s announcements essentially counter worries that the company is shrinking from the daunting task of deploying commercial mobile services in mmWave spectrum bands. Due to the physics governing transmissions in such bands, signals in mmWave spectrum can only travel a few thousand feet at the most, and often cannot travel through obstacles like buildings, trees and glass.
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As a result, Verizon and other operators building mmWave networks have been forced to construct more “small cell” transmission sites – Verizon said it expects to build five times more small cell sites in 2020 than it did last year, according to the Fortune article. However, Verizon did not provide a specific number for its small cell ambitions.Importantly, Verizon’s Vestberg said the operator’s 5G actions are designed in part to encourage customers to upgrade to one of the company’s 5G service plans. Verizon currently charges an extra $10 per month for 5G access on its cheapest unlimited plan, and has promised to impose that fee on its more expensive unlimited plans sometime in the future.
Image result for verizon 5G imagesBut Verizon’s 5G efforts aren’t exclusive to its mmWave spectrum. Vestberg reiterated Verizon’s promise to expand 5G to other spectrum bands sometime this year.  The U.S. #1 wireless carrier plans to use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS)  which will let it share lower frequencies for use with 4G and 5G endpoint devices at the same time from one cell site. That would let it cover far more territory, though with slower download speeds.[Note  that T-Mobile has reported difficulties with at least one vendor in deploying DSS.]

Rivals have said the gear isn’t ready yet, but Vestberg pushed back on Thursday. “This year we will launch nationwide 5G based on dynamic spectrum sharing,” he said. “We’re going to launch that when we think it’s commercially right, when we see enough handsets out in the market.”

In other Verizon news, the company said it plans to expand its edge computing agreement with Amazon AWS, first announced late last year. The companies hope to operate a total of 11 edge computing sites by the end of 2020, up from one site when the pact was first announced.

Verizon’s announcements today reflect continued momentum by the operator in the realm of 5G. Unlike its rival AT&T, which is in the midst of building out a streaming video operation via its acquisition of Time Warner, Verizon has bet much of its corporate future on 5G. Thus, given the operator’s size and scope, it can be viewed as a bit of a 5G bellwether.

It’s difficult to gauge the details of Verizon’s 5G progress considering the company does not disclose important metrics like the number of 5G handsets it has sold, the number of 5G customers it counts, the number of 5G transmission sites it operates and the specific revenues it expects to derive from 5G.

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References:

https://fortune.com/2020/02/13/verizon-5g-mobile-network-double-number-of-cities/

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/verizon-doubles-down-on-mmwave-5g-with-new-60-city-deployment-goal/d/d-id/757490?

 

France announces 11 mmWave trials at 26G Hz: Many different use cases and multiple tech companies participating

The French government has announced details of 11 trial 5G projects that will be awarded to use 26GHz spectrum.  The government and telecom regulatory agency (Arcep) said it had received 15 applications for projects, with 11 approved to be progressed.  Logistics, smart city, mobility, sports events coverage: more than a dozen projects responded to the call to create trial platforms.

Projects will be awarded 26GHz spectrum for a period of three years. They must have a working network by January 2021 and they must make that network available to third parties.  Arcep said it would be announcing more projects in the coming weeks.

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Background: In January 2019, the French Government and Arcep issued a joint call for the creation of 5G trial platforms that would be open to third parties, and using the 26 GHz band – aka the millimetre wave band. The aim of this call was to pave the way for all players to embrace the possibilities this frequency band provides, and to discover new uses for 5G.   Agnès Pannier-Runacher, France’s Secretary of State to the Minister for the Economy and Finance, and Sébastien Soriano, Chair of the Electronic Communications and Postal Regulatory Authority/ Telecom Agency (Arcep), presented the first eleven projects that have been selected.

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The 11 trials of mmWave technology in France will include several different use cases, while also involving different technology companies. Several of the projects are being led by enterprise tech companies which do not specialize in telecommunications:

The first project will be led by Universcience, at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, and will focus on public engagement. The La Cité des sciences et de l’industrie 5G trial platform will showcase use cases to the public, through open events, as well as temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The second, at the Vélodrome National, will bring together Nokia, Qualcomm, Airbus and France Television to understand how 5G can aid sports media. Low latency and increased bandwidth will be key topics here, as will the integration of artificial intelligence for operational efficiency and augmented reality to improve consumer experience.

The third trial will pair Bordeaux Métropole, the local authority, with Bouygues Telecom and will endeavor to capitalize on public lighting networks to deploy new infrastructures.

The Port of Le Havre will lead the fourth trial alongside the Le Havre Seine Métropole urban community, Siemens, EDF and Nokia. This initiative will explore 5G applications in a port and industry-related environments, with use-cases such as operating smart grids and recharging electric vehicles.

At the Nokia Paris-Saclay campus, trials will be conducted in a real-world environment, both indoors and outdoors, thanks to Nokia 5G antennae installed at different heights on the rooftops, and in work areas. This project also includes a start-up incubator program.

The Paris La Défense planning development agency and its partners have submitted another interesting usecase. With 5G CAPEX budget strained already, the Government department will test the feasibility and viability of owning infrastructure and selling turnkey access to operators. This might erode coverage advantages which some telcos might seek, though in assuming ownership (and the cost) of network deployment, the 5G journey might well be a bit smoother in France.

The seventh trial will pair Bouygues Telecom with France’s national rail company, SNCF, at the Lyon Part-Dieu train station. Tests will focus on consumer applications, such as VR and AR, as well as how transportation companies can make best use of data and connectivity to enhance operations. The eighth trial will also be led by Bouygues Telecom, focusing on industrial IOT in the city of Saint-Priest.

Orange will oversee two trials at part of the wider scheme, with the first taking place in Rennes railway station with SNCF and Nokia. Once again, part of this trial will focus on consumer applications, making waiting a ‘more pleasant experience’, with the rest focusing on industrial applications such as remote maintenance using augmented reality.

The second Orange trial will focus on various 5G use cases in heavily trafficked areas, such as enhanced multimedia experiences for people on the move and cloud gaming. This trial is supposed to be generic, and another opportunity for start-ups to pitch and validate their ideas in a live lab.

The 26GHz spectrum band will allow us to explore new services based on 5G,” said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of Orange. “We are aiming to set-up experimental platforms that will stimulate collaboration on these new use-cases across all economic sectors.”

With the spectrum licenses live from October 7th, the trials are now officially up-and-running. Each of the projects must have a live network operational by January 2021 at the latest and have to make it available to third parties to perform their own 5G trials.

This is perhaps one of the most interesting schemes worldwide not only because of the breadth and depth of the usecases being discussed, but the variety of companies which are being brought into the fray. Although the telco industry does constantly discuss the broadening of the ecosystem, realistically the power resides with a small number of very influential vendors.

This is a complaint which does seem to be attracting more headlines at the moment. If you look at the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) being championed by Facebook, the aim is to commoditize the hardware components in the network, while decoupling them from software. Ultimately, the project is driving towards a more open and accessible ecosystem.

France’s initiative here could have the same impact. By designating enterprise companies and local municipalities as leaders in the projects, instead of the same old telcos and vendors, new ideas and new models have the potential to flourish. This looks like a very positive step forward for the French digital economy.

References:

https://en.arcep.fr/news/press-releases/p/n/5g-6.html

http://telecoms.com/500186/france-pushes-forward-with-trials-of-much-hyped-mmwave-airwaves/

http://the-mobile-network.com/2019/10/arcep-picks-a-first-xi-for-5g-mmwave-trials/

Verizon CTO Upbeat on 5G Millimeter Wave vs Lack of mid band spectrum?

Millimeter wave spectrum “opens up so many possibilities,” said Verizon Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Kyle Malady at an investor conference today.  Malady made his comments at the Wells Fargo Telecom 5G Forum, which was webcast.  “The cloud will go closer and closer and closer,” he said without providing any rationale or support for that statement.

The latest pre-standard 5G technology was designed to support speeds of a gigabit or more, along with lower-latency 9via 3GPP Release 16 not yet completed) and other attributes.  However, getting the highest wirelessspeeds requires wide swaths of spectrum that are nearly impossible to come by in frequency bands traditionally used for cellular service. Wide swaths of spectrum are available in high-frequency millimeter wave bands – the downside is that range is not as great as with lower-frequency bands which will require many more small cells in a given geographical area.

5G pioneers AT&T and Verizon used millimeter wave for their initial deployments, but as Sprint and T-Mobile get into the game or make plans to do so, they have touted their ability to quickly cover broad areas by using lower-frequency spectrum, although that didn’t stop T-Mobile from spending more than $842 million to obtain millimeter wave spectrum in the recent auctions. Likewise, AT&T and Verizon have said they expect to deploy 5G in lower-frequency bands as well as in the millimeter wave band.

Verizon 5G Millimeter Wave
Nevertheless, Verizon executives get most fired up when they talk about the millimeter wave band.

Malady offered an interesting data point to support his millimeter wave enthusiasm. Before obtaining millimeter wave spectrum through the acquisition of Straight Path, Verizon had amassed licenses for an average of 160 MHz of spectrum in all bands nationwide. In comparison, the company used four segments, apparently each comprised of 100 MHz, for a total of 400 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum to support its initial mobile 5G launches in Chicago and Minneapolis. And according to Malady, “we’re working on bringing [that] to eight” segments.

Malady didn’t discuss the speeds Verizon is experiencing with mobile service, but he noted that some customers are obtaining gigabit speeds using fixed wireless 5G service in the millimeter wave band, which Verizon has launched in four markets.

AT&T has said it has seen speeds of 1.2 Gbps in mobile 5G trials using a 400 MHz channel over a distance of 150 meters.  More on AT&T’s mmWave spectrum holdings here.

Millimeter wave distance limitations are driving a change in network topology, Malady noted. “As the network [becomes] flattened, the antennas [are] smaller and lower,” he explained. “Wireless becomes fiber with antennas hanging off of it.”

As Verizon builds out more fiber to support this model, the fiber also can be used by the company’s other business units, he added.

There may be one additional requirement before 5G can reach its full potential, and Malady discussed that as well. He pointed to the example of police using facial recognition to help find an abducted person by comparing a photo with numerous public cameras, then identifying the closest officer to the abductee’s location. Applications such as that will require processing power located closer to the network edge.

 

References:

Verizon CTO: 5G Millimeter Wave “Opens Up So Many Possibilities”

https://www.verizon.com/about/our-company/5g/what-millimeter-wave-technology

AT&T owns >630 MHz nationwide of mmWave spectrum + HPE partnership for Edge Networking & Computing

 

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/verizon-ceo-mmwave-early-days-but-engineering-team-good-it

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/ve

rizon-mmwave-is-not-a-coverage-spectrum-for-5g/d/d-id/750980

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Meanwhile, carriers and analysts say that a lack of mid-band spectrum is delaying the deployment of wireless services. The Federal Communications Commission has recently proposed allowing carriers to share parts of the Educational Broadband Service spectrum in this range, a plan that a number of educational groups oppose.

The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) 

 

FCC’s auction of 24 GHz spectrum attracts >$1.5B in bids after 26 rounds; IMT 2020 frequencies?

Bids in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) 24 GHz millimeter-wave spectrum auction 102 have passed $1.5 billion after 26 rounds. The figure is more than double the  the $704 million collected during the recent sale of 28 GHz spectrum.

Bidding has been from AT&T, T-Mobile US, Verizon and Sprint (bidding as ATI Sub LLC); U.S. Cellular; Dish Network, bidding as Crestone Wireless; Starry Spectrum Holdings and Windstream Communications (which recently filed for bankruptcy protection in the wake of a court case).  There are a total of 38 qualified bidders.

Auction 102 is the FCC’s second auction of Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses (see below for information on auction 1010). Auction 102 offers 2,909 licenses in the 24 GHz band. The lower segment of the 24 GHz band (24.25–24.45 GHz) will be licensed as two 100-megahertz blocks, and the upper segment (24.75–25.25 GHz) will be licensed as five 100-megahertz blocks.  Those frequencies are being considered for the IMT 2020 5G  radio aspects standard and will be determined at the ITU-R WRC-19 meeting this fall (details in Editor’s Note below).

Image result for image for FCC auction bidding

Three rounds of bidding are being held each day at this point in the auction. The clock auction format begins with a “clock phase” (the current auction phase) which lets participants bid on generic blocks in each Partial Economic Area in successive bidding rounds, followed by an “assignment phase” that allows the winners of the generic blocks to bid for frequency-specific license assignments. The clock phase continues, with prices automatically increasing each round, until bidders’ demand for licenses at a certain price matches the supply — and at that point, the bidders who have indicated they are willing to pay the final clock price for a license will be considered winners and the assignment phase can begin.

The most hotly contested licenses are those covering New York City and Los Angeles, California. New York City metropolitan licenses are dominating the bidding: four bids for NYC licenses in the upper portion of the band are currently above $30 million. One of those is at $41.1 million, the largest bid of the auction thus far.  The most expensive bid for a Los Angeles license, also in the upper portion of the band, is up to $31.6 million, with other bids on LA licenses as high as $28.7 million and $26.1 million.

Much of the auction process is secretive—there are anti-collusion rules and bidders can’t talk to one another, for example. The FCC isn’t releasing the names of the winners of the 28-GHz or 24-GHz auctions until both have been concluded.

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The FCC is making a total of 1.55 gigahertz of spectrum available through auctions 101 (which concluded in late January after raising $702 million) and 102. The agency plans to hold three more mmWave auctions during 2019, covering spectrum at 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz.  Although the FCC has usually makes winning bidders public shortly after the close of an auction, the winning bidders from Auction 101 will not be publicly named until after the close of Auction 102.

References:

https://auctiondata.fcc.gov/public/projects/auction102

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190325/policy/24-ghz-auction-hits-1-4-billion

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Update on FCC Auction 103:

Analysis and results of FCC Auction 103 for 5G mmWave Spectrum