Guest post by Mae Kowalke, Accedian

Amid all the hype over 5G, it’s good to periodically take a step back and ask some questions about where things are headed for future mobile broadband, and how to get there. Here are five things we’ve been pondering as part of some in-depth analysis into 5G, each with reference to a recently curated article that either attempts to answer the question, or adds depth to the inquiry.

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Guest post by Scott Sumner, Accedian

Emergence of the instrumentation layer in real-time, intelligent networks.

5G networks will support a diverse array of applications, from 4k video streaming to safety-critical IoT, autonomous cars and factories, and hosted transactional applications that let us work from anywhere.

The competition for limited spectrum and network resources collides with increased complexity as networks layer-in virtualization to increase agility, manage network slices, and dynamically allocate capacity (both bandwidth and compute) where required.

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Guest post by Iain Gillott, iGR Research

We in the mobile love to discuss ‘the next big thing’ – we are never happy living in the present and always want the next new shiny thing.  Perhaps this is because of the way the industry developed in the mid-1980s, from humble analog networks (really, they were not that good!) to digital networks and then to 3G and beyond.  Of course, along the way we never agree on a single network technology (2G was covered by at least four standards) and so even as the latest-and-greatest technology was always been promoted.

Now that we have got to LTE (which most of the world agrees on for ‘4G’), it is time for the next shiny thing: 5G.  The problem with 5G at present is that if you talk to five people about 5G and what it is, and you will get at least seven answers! What stands out more than any new 5G technology, air interface or spectrum is the general level of confusion and lack of definition.

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Latif Ladid

Latif Ladid, Chair of the 5G World Alliance

What are your thoughts on 5G, its requirement and services deployed over the network?

 

We are indeed in the middle of clearly defining the holistic 5G Requirements within the ETSI IP6 Industry Specification Group (ISG) that I chair:

https://portal.etsi.org/tb.aspx?tbid=827&SubTB=827

We expect this work to take into consideration the many requirements published by liaison initiatives to this ETSI ISG. Expect a draft version by June 2016.

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Reston, VA – 25 November, 2015- Ascom Network Testing announced today it had won the award for Best LTE Core Network Product at the recently concluded LTE North America 2015 conference in Dallas, Texas. The company’s winning entry centered around TEMS™ Monitor Master, its offering for performing active testing and monitoring of any IMS-based service being deployed in the core network.

Finalists’ applications were reviewed by an exclusive panel of leading experts from Senza Fili Consulting, iGR Research, Signals Research Group and Wireless 20/20, and winners were unveiled during a ceremony hosted by Vicky Livingston, Head of Communications and Analyst Relations for 4G Americas.

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Guest blog post written by Sanjeev Duggal, CEO & Executive Director, Centum Learning Ltd

Improved economic conditions have fueled unprecedented telecom growth in Africa. It is estimated that by 2016 the continent will have a billion mobile phones. According to a World Bank report, nearly 16% of adults and 31% of those with a formal bank account in Sub-Saharan Africa have reported using a mobile phone to pay bills or send / receive money in the last 12 months.

Africa’s status as being the second most mobile connected continent where about 15% of its billion inhabitants own a cell phone has ushered many African nations into a digital economy and changed lives of people for the better. The telecom revolution has touched people through better access to education and entertainment, helped in disaster management and better agricultural yields and brought people together through social media.

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Guest post by the Global Certification Forum

The extension of mobile phone and broadband services across the globe has been built on our industry’s adoption of global standards.  Verifying that new devices conform to those standards is of great importance to manufacturers and operator alike. As devices become more complex with the overlaying of new mobile technologies on legacy standards, there could be a danger that pre-launch testing becomes so cumbersome that the full economies of scale from standards can’t be realised.

That’s where GCF Certification comes into play.  Developed and maintained through the collaboration of experts from manufacturers, operators and the test industry, GCF Certification has become the global baseline for assessing interoperability between mobile devices and operators’ networks and services. Certification brings economies of scale to device testing.

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Guest post written by Ilia Abramov, Product Director @ Xura

Ilia Abramov, Product Director, Xura

Ilia Abramov, Product Director, Xura

Signaling networks, enabling the exchange of information that sets up, controls and terminates calls, have been through multiple stages of evolution since the early days of telephony.

Signaling System No. 7, or SS7, was developed to exchange information over digital signaling networks specific to mobile operators, and requires specialised equipment to fulfil even simple connectivity.

The complexity of its protocols, and the fact that it is used only by a closed circle of mobile operators, means that SS7 offers very controlled access to the networks themselves. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that an SS7 network contains crucial information regarding a mobile network such as subscriber data, and mobility and authorisation information.

SS7 networks have since evolved to become IP-based, making them more accessible to a wider community outside of traditional mobile operators. But, with the emergence of cheaper, and better performing IP solutions, the level of trust has dropped significantly.

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Exclusive interview with Paul Gowans, Mobility Marketing Manager at Viavi

Paul Gowans, Mobility Marketing Manager at Viavi

Paul Gowans, Mobility Marketing Manager at Viavi

Viavi Solutions (formerly JDSU, Arieso and Network Instruments) is very active in LTE and helping to advance the technology … how has LTE progressed since last year? 

LTE as a standard continues to evolve to meet the growing capacity and coverage demands of mobile consumers. With LTE Advanced and LTE Broadcast being two examples. Yet it is the area of VoLTE which has probably seen the greatest change from last year. At the event last year many operators were planning their VoLTE roll-out and engaging their technology partners such as Viavi on the challenges to address and ensure they deliver on the high expectations of VoLTE. Now, we have many operators who have either deployed or are very close to deploying. There is also the area of the relevance of voice today – many people of course have an iPhone or other Smartphone and use a multitude of methods to communicate –  certain generations don’t talk at all! So, the industry has had to appreciate that VoLTE needs to be integrated into the way people communicate today.

What are the top VoLTE challenges?

Working closely with our mobile operator customers and building on our experience with IP based voice services as well as RAN and Core network challenges I would say the top three challenges are:

  •  Voice Quality – measuring end-to-end (E2E) voice quality is fundamental to understanding the customers quality of experience (QoE). Knowing what metrics are important, where to measure and quickly finding the root cause of voice quality affecting issues.
  • Handovers – when you move out of an LTE service area and have an active VoLTE call, the user will want to continue with that call. SRVCC seamlessly maintains calls when a mobile user moves from LTE to non-LTE coverage areas. Of course, there is the potential for things to go wrong and calls to get dropped. Also, if the user is not supporting VoLTE but is using LTE, when they receive a call the phone the network need to fall back (CSFB) so that both data and voice are non-LTE.
  • Location – not only knowing what service is being provided to the consumer but also from where so that you can determine, for example, VoLTE hot spots  – that is where there may be too many dropped calls or handovers have failed. By accurately geo-locating voice quality metrics you can make better business decisions on service delivery.

 Presentation theme/message at the event?

In addition to introducing Viavi Solutions to the audience, Viavi will be presenting in 3 key areas, namely: VoLTE, HetNets and Network Optimization. The theme of the VoLTE presentation is how to address some of the key VoLTE challenges and ensure the subscribers gets an exceptional VoLTE service. We will be exploring voice quality- passive measuring, active measuring – how integrating handset data with core data and then geo-locate that information to maximize the business impact of the service. The E2E view of the service from device to RAN to backhaul and core. For HetNets we will be discussing workforce automation and how to ensure cell site turn up to be most cost-effective without impacting quality. Network Optimization will build on the extreme non-uniformity in cellular networks and how subscriber-based, location-aware predictive optimization is needed.


Meet Paul and the Viavi team at the upcoming LTE North America, in Dallas, next November 17th-19th!

The RF Path to 5G

Kevin Linehan, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer Antenna Systems CommScope

Kevin Linehan, Vice President, Chief Technology Officer
Antenna Systems
CommScope

The roll-out of any new generation of mobile network technology is never as simple as flicking a switch. Much of the current discussion around 5G is about its definition. But 5G won’t truly happen until it can actually happen in the network. Like all grand designs, obstacles need to be overcome in order to achieve that goal.

Like other industry commentators, my fundamental viewpoint is that 5G will be a “network of networks.” Network densification involving macro sites, in-building wireless, metro cells and small cells will continue on the way to 5G. This densification adds more complexity to wireless networks and demands ever more sophisticated infrastructure solutions. Managing these multiple network layers efficiently is becoming ever more important to deliver 5G speeds and throughput.

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This guest post was written by Elhum Vahdat, Executive Vice President, APEX Communications

Services, Services, Services…  you can practically hear the cry of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) all over the world pleading for new (or even old) services that can run on their shiny new LTE networks.  Of course, this is nothing new, as this repeated cry for services is generated with the roll-out of every new generation of network (e.g. 2G, 3G), because MNOs are well aware that the serious payoff comes primarily from running  new services, which in turn can justify their investment.

Keep in mind, in this blog I won’t address what over-the-top (OTT) services are doing to the bottom line of MNOs, which goes without saying is why new services offered by the MNOs are so critical.

One service that is ideal for LTE is Visual Interactive Voice Response, or Visual IVR (different than Video IVR).  At this point I know what a lot of you are thinking…  IVR is dead, so why resuscitate it for a new network?  My short answer is that Visual IVR is not your parent’s IVR.

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Tanya Sullivan, CEO, Rural Wireless Association

Tanya Sullivan, CEO, Rural Wireless Association

This November 17th-19th in Dallas, the rural and regional carrier community will be getting together at LTE North America to discuss the unique challenges faced by smaller carriers around the United States. As part of the event, the Rural Wireless Association has teamed up with LTE North America to create a tailored and targeted event for rural carriers. Ahead of the summit next week, we had the opportunity to interview Tanya Sullivan, CEO of the Rural Wireless Association, to discuss some key issues around the deployment of LTE and next-generation networks in North America.

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awards-logoThe LTE North America 2015 Awards shortlist has been announced today, ahead of the awards ceremony set to take place at LTE North America, in Dallas, on November 18th. Having received a record amount of entries, the judging panel had the tough job of identifying the strongest, and most innovative technologies and products in the market today.

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2015 has been an exciting year for Africa, with LTE 4G services now provided in 24 African countries, and many more operators expected to launch commercial 4G LTE services by the end of the year. As LTE subscriptions in Africa continue to grow, and with 50% of the region’s population expected to be covered by LTE networks by 2018, LTE Africa 2015 (17-19 November) will return at a time when it has never been more crucial for operators to ensure they have the best plans for the future strategic deployment of LTE networks.

17054-LTE-Africa-web-bannerCo-located with AfricaCom in CCITC Cape Town, South Africa, LTE Africa will bring together leading LTE industry experts and operators to discuss the key issue of strategic deployment for 4G LTE and VoLTE services going forward in Africa. With over 4000 operators in attendance and more operator case studies than ever before, LTE Africa will provide the best platform for sharing key information crucial for revolutionising Africa’s digital future.

Currently few African operators of 4G LTE networks have deployed Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), the rising LTE standard for voice communication. As such, even networks offering LTE smartphones are still using GSM or 3G circuit-switched networks to carry voice traffic. The deployment of VoLTE will be one of the biggest technological advances Africa has seen, and so operators’ deployment strategies must be ready to handle this quantum leap.

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With work already LTE North America 2015well under way to apply LTE to public safety and commercial critical communication scenarios, there are still many challenges and discussions to be had to ensure the rollout of reliable and resilient networks. LTE North America (17-19 November 2015) will dedicate an entire day’s programme and exhibition area to focus on LTE public safety solutions.

Endorsed by the Industry Council for Emergency Response Technologies (iCERT), the LTE public safety programme will explore how LTE can meet the needs of public safety professionals and critical communications systems to provide reliable broadband communications. George Rice, Executive Director of iCERT said “LTE networks will be crucial elements for the sharing and safeguarding of mission critical data for public safety professionals as they look to deliver life saving services to those in need. Knowledge and insight sharing events like this are important as commercial providers and public sector agencies consider the development of current and burgeoning communications technologies”.

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Guest post by Jean-François Gros, Marketing & Business Development Director, Gemalto

Guest post by Jean-François Gros, Marketing & Business Development Director, Gemalto

Among consumers, Wi-Fi is perhaps most commonly associated with the simple pleasures of a few minutes free surfing on the train or alongside a coffee. For mobile network operators, however, the stakes are rather higher. With pressure to build capacity and coverage combining with a fiercely competitive marketplace, the inexorable spread of Wi-Fi offers a compelling route to enhanced customer experience, differentiation, and new revenue streams.

Whilst much attention has focussed on the 4G roll-out, Wi-Fi’s contribution to the connectivity eco-system has largely flown under the radar. But the figures speak for themselves.  It is widely reported that, by 2018, there will be one hotspot for every 20 people on the planet; by 2017, seven billion devices will be Wi-Fi enabled1.

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Guest blog written by Oded Sela, Technical Director EMEA, International Sales at Allot Communications

CSPs are under constant pressure to be proactive all the time, since they need to stay ahead of the competition and are facing challenges on a daily base. But first and foremost, they need to keep their subscribers happy – not an easy task!

What is the secret sauce that they can use for success? Simple: they must analyse and optimise!  Why is analysing so important? Analytics will help operators to find the right optimisation for improving the QoE (Quality of Experience) of their subscribers. It also enables creating and activating optimal use cases, which boosts the bottom line. Furthermore, it allows a CSP to stand out in the crowd, increasing its ARPU and revenues!

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Guest post written by Michael Van Veen, Global Sales Director for IPX services at SAP Mobile Services

For those of us who are walking around with LTE devices and have experienced high-speed data services, there is no going back: we feel the need for speed.  And naturally, wherever we travel we expect to get the same service performance that we experience in our home network.  We will suffer low-speed 3G connectivity if we have to, but only to get to our email or to chat with friends.  If we cannot get access to LTE for heavy-duty things like content-rich social media services, we will start looking for WiFi connectivity.

Mobile operators have always worked hard to follow their subscribers wherever they travel.  Roaming agreements make sure that their subscribers can use their device on visited networks: they can make and receive phone calls and SMS, and use data services.  The operators can even “steer” roamers to networks which are guaranteed to deliver the most commercial or technical benefits.  Now that we have entered the era of LTE, all of these efforts need to be repeated.

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Guest Post written by Interop Technologies

Operators worldwide have either recently exhausted their LTE network CAPEX or are squarely at the center of it. VoLTE announcements are only accelerating the momentum while providing proof that the tide of advanced IP service adoption is changing. The thing all operators have in common, however, is that they face market pressures for VoWiFiVoLTERCS, and other advanced IP services—many of which have IMS requirements for basic functionality or optimal performance. Thus, when additional changes to the network core are needed to facilitate IP service launch, the cost and complexity of the endeavour through traditional deployment methods can be too lengthy for most operators to meet current demand. For these reasons, virtualisation must be explored.

A virtualised IMS core allows for the quick deployment of cloud-based advanced IP voice and messaging services. WiFi calling is the most crucial service requiring immediate deployment to solve operational issues like in-building coverage and consumer demand. Additionally, the seamless layering of future services that grow with and meet demand is an advantageous way for operators to stay competitive in their market. 


Learn more about Interop Technologies and their CorePlusX℠ offering in person at next week’s LTE Asia conference, @ Booth #37.

This guest blog was written by Jay Jayasimha, Chief Technology Innovation Officer, Cataleya 

Jay Jaysimha

LTE needs IPX to be a truly global success. When domestic LTE deployments are supported by global IPX-enabled networks, it changes what is possible in the mobile market. Today, we’ve seen the development of LTE networks on a local level but for 4G services to mature and realise their full potential LTE needs to be supported with robust, reliable and intelligent IPX-enabled networks.

There will be 450 commercial LTE networks deployed by the end of 2015, according to The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). Close to 50% of subscribers in Q4 2014 were in Asia-Pacific with North America and Europe trailing close behind.

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Guest blog written by Udayabhanu Parida, Product Manager, Simulators, Wireless Division, EXFO

Guest blog written by Udayabhanu Parida, Product Manager, Simulators, Wireless Division, EXFO

With the wireless industry moving toward a unified IP network carrying both voice and data traffic, policy and charging rules function (PCRF) will be taking on an increasingly important role in managing the service provider’s network resources and monetization of service usage. And, with the planned adoption of Voice over LTE (VoLTE), PCRF will be playing an increasingly vital role in the network.

A key component of building a fast and reliable wireless network includes extensive testing of the network elements (NEs), in this case PCRF in the test labs before deployment. In test labs, PCRF is normally tested with other real NEs, such as PDN GW. Such a test setup does not fully exercise the functionality, performance or capacity of PCRF, because PCRF not only communicates with single PDN GW, but multiple PDN GWs. PCRF also communicates with policy control enforcement function (PCEF), such as deep-packet-inspection (DPI), online-charging-system (OCS), and offline-charging-system (OFCS) functions, as well as other PCRFs (visited), call session control function (CSCF), serving gateway (SGW), gateway GPRS support node (GGSN), traffic detection function (TDF) and more.

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Steven K Berry, President & CEO of CCA

Steven K Berry, President & CEO of CCA

Ahead of the 8th Annual LTE North America event in Dallas, TX this November 18th & 19th, we had the opportunity to interview Steven K. Berry, President & CEO of the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA).

In the interview Steven shares his thoughts on the key challenges being faced by competitive carriers throughout the U.S., the industry’s concerns looking forward to 2015, and the path towards a competitive landscape for all carriers.

Q. What are the key challenges faced by North American carriers today in the roll-out and upgrade of LTE networks?

A. Competitive carriers must have access to critical inputs including access to spectrum, access to the latest, most-advanced handsets, and reasonable roaming agreements to continue to improve and build out their networks.  Carriers in the most rural and hard to serve areas also need certainty regarding sufficient Universal Service Fund (USF) support.  Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) works each and every day to ensure our members, nearly every wireless carrier in the U.S. outside of AT&T and Verizon, have the opportunity to grow and thrive, and to do so, they must have access to these inputs to find a pathway toward the next generation of networks.  The wireless industry is, unfortunately, plagued by continued consolidation – a significant challenge for smaller carriers trying to compete with the two largest national carriers.  We have been working closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission), Congress and the Administration to ensure policies are in place that will allow our members to enhance their networks and serve their customers the best way possible.  Tim Donovan, VP of Legislative Affairs for CCA, is speaking at the LTE North America event and will address some of the critical policy issues for CCA members and how decisions made in Congress and at the FCC affect not only the carriers, but consumers and the economy as well.

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Source: Verizon will test insanely fast new wireless technology

Benjamin Franklin said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. Well, I would like to add a third one: online threats.

Operators are facing the daunting task of keeping their subscribers (and their own networks!) safe from a slew of cyber threats that are getting more and more complex. Fraudsters use a combination of backdoor methods, engaging unwitting cooperation from innocent, targeted users.

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