The U.S. Department of Commerce announced that CableLabs will host the NTIA- Information Administration’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (NTIA-ITS) 5G Challenge, in support of the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), which seeks to advance open 5G networks with the goal of interoperability and plug-and-play operation from different vendor components. NTIA-ITS will leverage CableLabs’ state-of-the-art lab deployment of fully virtualized 5G networks, including multiple cores, multiple radio access network and new network emulation equipment.
The competition requires a 5G SA core network, testing and measurement capabilities. An important goal of the competition is to help spur a growing 5G supplier community with interoperable, multi-vendor solutions – and CableLabs says its facility has all the right makings to see participants compete in testing and validation on-site.
NTIA launched an inquiry in early 2021 seeking input on a 5G Challenge as it explored ways to speed up development and interoperability of the open 5G ecosystem to support DoD missions. It’s still working on design and execution of the competition, and previously received input from major vendors such as Ericsson and groups including the Open RAN Policy Coalition, which were among 51 responses submitted by a range of industry stakeholders.
“The Department of Defense recognizes that 5G technologies are foundational to strengthening our Nation’s warfighting capabilities as well as U.S. economic competitiveness. Open 5G systems would greatly bolster the Department’s ability to deliver on its missions, and we look forward to exploring new and innovative opportunities for their development,” said Michael Kratsios, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.
The effort is going to leverage the CableLabs 17,000-square-foot lab, where it has deployed fully virtualized 5G networks that include multiple cores, radio access network and new network emulation equipment. CableLabs has a 5G SA network prototype with engineering capabilities to integrate multiple vendors at the same time while also testing and measuring technical performance metrics.
In a blog post Wednesday, CableLabs VP of Wireless David Debrecht highlighted the group’s growing expertise focused on mobile networks, such as involvement in industry efforts to build flexible 5G technologies including at 3GPP, the O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project. “CableLabs is well situated to host the 5G Challenge, given our long-standing role in the industry and our work with multiple vendors to drive interoperable network technologies,” Debrecht wrote.
CableLabs is deeply involved in the industry’s work to develop flexible 5G technologies—including at 3GPP, O-RAN Alliance and the Telecom Infra Project (TIP)—to enable new vendor opportunities, enhance network security and streamline integration and interoperability.
In a statement, CableLabs president and CEO Phil McKinney indicated work would continue beyond the challenge, as it’s committed to ongoing R&D and interoperability testing in mobile network technologies.
“CableLabs is honored to be the host lab for the 5G Challenge,” McKinney commented. “The recognition from the US Department of Commerce is a testament to CableLab’s continued and increasing investment in mobile wireless network technologies, and particularly, our focus on open and interoperable network technologies.”
The NTIA issued its initial notice of inquiry in support of the DoD’s 5G Initiative, the latter which has committed $600 million for 5G testbeds to see how the military could use the technology for its networking needs. The DoD’s focus on 5G is aimed at technology that will enable both military and commercial deployments.
The 5G challenge, meanwhile, is meant to specifically address the shift toward using open implementations of different components for a 5G system, and NTIA had said an aim is to maximize benefits for both 5G stakeholders and the DoD on an accelerated timeline.
It received feedback across standards and industry groups, equipment vendors, major operators, and others who weighed with comments on the NOI to help inform NTIA about how to structure the challenge and goals, incentives and scope, and timeframe and infrastructure.
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As the leading innovation and R&D lab for the broadband cable industry, CableLabs creates global impact through its member companies around the world and its subsidiaries, Kyrio and SCTE. With a state-of-the-art research and innovation facility and collaborative ecosystem with thousands of vendors, CableLabs delivers impactful network technologies for the entire industry.
The Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) today announced results from a new field trial using technology from CableLabs®, Intel, and Asus. The purpose was to highlight the benefits of using Low Power Indoor Wi-Fi 6E for a wide variety of demanding residential applications, including video collaboration for telecommuting, multiplayer gaming, augmented and virtual reality, streaming video and more.
Since the 6 GHz band is higher frequency range than 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz typically used for Wi-Fi, signals have more of a challenge with obstruction the trial took place in a 3,600-square-foot, two-story home with a basement and the drywall, wood and other building materials typically found in a suburban residence. The Wi-Fi 6E enabled laptops with Intel® Wi-Fi 6E AX210 wireless cards were placed in various locations throughout the home and tests were conducted using a Wi-Fi 6E enabled access point from Asus.
The trial featured a range of tests on the downlink and uplink comparing throughput achieved on the 5 GHz and 6 GHz bands for wide channels (80 MHz and 160 MHz). CableLabs and Intel also analyzed the Wi-Fi 6E performance compared to Wi-Fi 6 on the 5 GHz band in the presence of overlapping neighbouring access points.
The trial’s key results include 1.7 TCP Gbps downlink and 1.2 TCP Gbps uplink speeds when using 160 MHz channels on Wi-Fi 6E in locations close to the access point. The larger channel bandwidth and the associated increase in total EIRP transmit power based on the channel bandwidth helped maximize both coverage and speed throughout the home.
These results clearly demonstrate the real-world benefits of using Wi-Fi 6E enabled devices over 6 GHz rather than 5 GHz. It is important to note that although Wi-Fi 6 devices perform better than Wi-Fi 5 devices over 5 GHz, next-level user experiences are possible with Wi-Fi 6E and the additional bandwidth available in the 6 GHz spectrum.
Tiago Rodrigues, CEO of the Wireless Broadband Alliance, said: “This field trial by CableLabs and Intel shows how Wi-Fi 6E and 6 GHz spectrum maximize coverage, capacity, throughput and the user experience in one of the most demanding real-world environments: people’s homes. Between HD and 4K streaming video, multiplayer gaming, dozens of smart home devices and videoconferencing for remote work, today’s home Wi-Fi networks are the foundation for how people live, work and play. This trial highlights that Wi-Fi 6E is more than capable of shouldering that load, especially when paired with 6 GHz spectrum.”
Lili Hervieu, Lead Architect of Wireless Access Technology at CableLabs, said: “CableLabs has been a proponent of making the 6 GHz band available for unlicensed use, and we were honored to conduct the Wi-Fi 6E trial in one of our employee’s homes for a truly real-world experience. The results confirmed the benefit of Wi-Fi 6E for increased capacity and data rate that will support the growing demand we are seeing for a large variety of applications and for new emerging technologies.”
Eric A. McLaughlin, VP Client Computing Group, GM Wireless Solutions Group, Intel Corporation, said: “Intel’s mission is to enable great PC experiences with industry leading platform capabilities like Wi-fi 6E. The wireless trial, in collaboration with CableLabs and the Wireless Broadband Alliance, helps demonstrate the versatility of Wi-fi 6E on Intel platforms. The speed, latency, and reliability improvements enabled by the new 6 GHz spectrum, with larger channels and freedom from legacy Wi-Fi interference, will help dramatically enhance user communication, entertainment, and productivity.”
About the Wireless Broadband Alliance:
Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is the global organization that connects people with the latest Wi-Fi initiatives. Founded in 2003, the vision of the Wireless Broadband Alliance (WBA) is to drive seamless, interoperable service experiences via Wi-Fi within the global wireless ecosystem. WBA’s mission is to enable collaboration between service providers, technology companies, cities, regulators and organizations to achieve that vision. WBA’s membership is comprised of major operators, identity providers and leading technology companies across the Wi-Fi ecosystem with the shared vision.
WBA undertakes programs and activities to address business and technical issues, as well as opportunities, for member companies. WBA work areas include standards development, industry guidelines, trials, certification and advocacy. Its key programs include NextGen Wi-Fi, OpenRoaming, 5G, IoT, Testing & Interoperability and Policy & Regulatory Affairs, with member-led Work Groups dedicated to resolving standards and technical issues to promote end-to-end services and accelerate business opportunities.
The WBA Board includes Airties, AT&T, Boingo Wireless, Broadcom, BT, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Deutsche Telekom AG, GlobalReach Technology, Google, Intel, Reliance Jio, SK Telecom and Viasat. For the complete list of current WBA members, click here.
CableLabs and its members (cablecos/MSOs) initiated a technical working group to create an evolved architectural blueprint for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). The working group’s aim is to explore new converged architectures that will benefit CableLabs members’ wireless deployments while highlighting the benefits, impacts to existing deployments and features needed to be supported by both mobile network operator (MNO) and MVNO networks.
As cable operators in the US and abroad enter the mobile game or look to enhance their existing mobile services through MVNO partnerships, the working group’s intention is to “create an evolved architectural blueprint for mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs),” Omkar Dharmadhikari, wireless architect at CableLabs, explained this week in a blog post.
Many traditional broadband services providers—also known as multiple system operators (MSOs)—might not own mobile infrastructure but have (or are in the process of negotiating) MVNO arrangements with MNOs. These kinds of arrangements allow them to bundle fixed and mobile broadband services into a single service package. Traditionally, most MSOs adopt a reseller-type “Wi-Fi first” MVNO, where the MVNO doesn’t own any mobile network infrastructure and resells the services leveraging MNO infrastructure.
The MVNO models vary based on the amount of mobile network infrastructure that the MVNO owns and the degree of control over the management of different aspects of MVNO subscriptions and their service offerings. One common aspect of all traditional MVNO models is leveraging the radio access network (RAN) of a partner MNO.
With the advent of 5G and the availability of shared spectrum, many MSOs are actively evaluating offload opportunities for enhancing MVNO economics and are contemplating deploying their own mobile radio infrastructure in specific geographic areas (in addition to their substantial Wi-Fi footprint).
Such MSOs now have to contend with three disparate sets of wireless infrastructures:
- the MSO’s community Wi-Fi network,
- the MNO’s 4G/5G network, and
- the MSO’s own 4G/5G network.
This creates a new type of MVNO model called hybrid-MVNO (H-MVNO) that enables MVNOs to offload their subscribers’ traffic from the MNO network—not just to their Wi-Fi networks but also to the MVNO-owned mobile network when inside the coverage footprint of their wireless network(s).
Maximizing data offload via the H-MVNOs’ own wireless assets—thus ensuring a consistent user experience and enforcing uniform and personalized policies as users move in and out of coverage of these three networks—will require the deployment of new converged network architecture and related capabilities.
While CableLabs working group’s focus on the hybrid MVNO challenge is new, several cable operators, including a group in North America, are already pursuing that initiative.
Comcast and Charter Communications have MVNO deals with Verizon, operate their own metro and in-home Wi-Fi networks, and have secured CBRS licenses in areas where mobile traffic is anticipated to be heaviest. Charter plans to launch a field trial involving “thousands” of CBRS small cells in one market in early 2022, and use that as a blueprint of sorts for deployments in additional markets.
Canada’s Cogeco plans to enter the wireless business in Canada via a proposed H-MVNO framework. Tied into that plan, Cogeco secured 38 spectrum licenses in the 3500MHz band at auction, and says it now has spectrum licenses to cover about 91% of its broadband footprint.
H-MVNOs intend to offload as much traffic as possible to help offset the costs of going to their mobile network operator partners. But they’ll also need a new converged network architecture and related capabilities to ensure a consistent user experience and the enforcement of uniform and personalized policies as customers move in and out of these different networks, Dharmadhikari explained.
The new CableLabs working group is exploring H-MVNO architectures that use dual-SIM and single-SIM approaches.
Unlike architectures with dual SIMs, single-SIM devices allow the H-MVNO network to enable seamless low-latency mobility for data applications across the MNO and H-MVNO networks. An ideal architecture for offering mobile services with single-SIM device usage is to combine the roaming architecture and a mobility interface, both of which are standardized in 3GPP.
However, due to the targeted nature of H-MVNO mobile deployments, the signaling load can increase on MNO mobility management core network elements, as the H-MVNO subscribers move in and out of H-MVNO network coverage.
To overcome this problem, CableLabs evaluated new MVNO architectures that make use of dedicated network elements within the MNO domain to serve H-MVNO subscriber traffic, thereby isolating it from the MNO subscriber traffic and eliminating the increase in signaling load on core network elements that serve MNO subscribers.
In addition, CableLabs evaluated voice handling in scenarios where H-MVNOs don’t want to deploy their own voice platforms. One option is to offer voice via a third-party voice service provider; another is to enable additional interfaces between the MNO and the H-MVNO network to leverage the MNO’s voice platform.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out to the MVNO Interconnect Technical WG Lead, Omkar Dharmadhikari ([email protected]).