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Mobile networks are set to get increasingly foggy as the cloud descends and spreads to the edge.

Why is automation, enabled by machine learning and AI, set to spread through mobile networks?

The networks of the Internet of Things are on the rise. What will the IoT RAN look like?



IoT Network

REGULARS ////////////////////////////////////////// 31

Country Profile: The UK The power of four dominates a UK market that fights bitterly over rights to establish network dominance.


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Anatomy of a Mobile Operator: Vimpelcom The Russian operator is no stranger to controversy but has an interesting “asset light” policy.

MORE ///////////////////



Hello and welcome to our 16th issue. As is becoming tradition with TMN Quarterly, this issue contains a series of features that we are running in two parts and that are all likely to be key topics before and during Mobile World Congress.


Networked World: Planes & Trains First of a two part series exploring the network requirements of the transport sector looks at flight and rail.

Architect This! is the feature that gives our cover its foggy image, one that may be appropriate for the weather at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, but is appropriate to mobile networks everywhere. That’s because the architecture of the network is set to change, both to enable and as a result of new cloud-based and softwarised networks. Already we are seeing even a company as large as Huawei show that this architectural shift will inform its product messaging around MWC.


Market Tracker Which companies are set to make a splash in 2017? Here are a few names to drop into conversation.

As we mention in the Architect This! feature, a key service area that much of this shift in network architecture is intended to address is the Internet of Things. Yet the IoT will also have its own impact on the network, from dedicated proprietary and cellular radio technologies, to new analytics, security and core network features. This first feature looks at the IoT’s impact on the radio access network. Another impact that the re-architecting of the network and the coming IoT rollout will have is for mobile networks to operate in a far more automated way. To do this, we will see operators adapt aspects of machine learning and AI into both their operating and their network structures. Our two part feature starts with a look at the drivers for increasing automation in the network. Finally, one of the key aspects of all the disruption and R&D dollars outlined above is the market opportunity it creates for new classes of companies to enter the market. Our Market Tracker two part feature profiles innovative new companies that are entering the mobile network technology market with new products and technologies. How many have you heard of?

Commercial Director: Shahid Ramzan // Editorial Director: Keith Dyer // Creative Direction and Design: Francesca Tortora //


Keith Dyer

© 2016 TMN Communications Ltd.



Seven things I know about…

WHY THE NETWORK OF THE FUTURE WILL BE DPI-ENABLED IoT devices introduce new network and service requirements for operators

Alexander Muller tells TMN how IoT device connectivity and IoT-ready networks create new challenges and revenue streams for operators, and how embedded deep packet inspection can help operators and network equipment vendors to assure connectivity and security across networks, devices and applications in this new world.


The Internet of Things threatens operators with a loss of endto-end control and introduces a new level of operational scale. This places new demands on how operators will assure the security and integrity of their networks. Operators are used to serving a limited range of types of end devices that are directly under their management. Now, they will instead serve a wide diversity of connected devices that could be deployed by players from across a wide value chain of enterprises, service providers and manufacturers. Consider for instance a connected alarm clock with a SIM: It will require data download in order to display the time and weather changes, but it will also add an upstream load by sending data on how and when the device itself is being used back to the manufacturer.


Networks need to be managed more efficiently to cater to this increasing demand

Similarly, the application environment in the IoT will be radically different from the current ecosystem: Apps requiring a multitude of different parameters, serving use cases with different tolerances and sensitivities to network performance and presenting very different usage profiles to the network. All of this will place new demands on the management of network elements, service quality and security. A connected car, for instance, will need to be constantly connected and any downtime might threaten human life. A connected fridge, on the other hand, needs to sync with the user’s phone once an hour. SLAs with the different companies, which require to collect IoT data, will change depending on the use case. However, in order to guarantee connectivity, one must be able to manage data in realtime.



SDN and NFV can help manage the network — and DPI is a key enabler

To meet these new demands, operators are leaning on the promises of Software Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). They do so to architect a programmable network, in which the control and data plane are separated and network functions can be dynamically scaled up and down in virtualized instances. For the IoT, this offers the ability to deliver per-service quality parameters and deal in a flexible manner with the non-uniform and dynamic demands that are placed on network resources. DPI engines will be a key enabler of such an architecture when embedded in network probes and next-generation firewalls. Application classification can feed realtime information to SDN and NFV network management systems based on full Layer 4 to 7 packet capture from physical or virtual probes and appliances. This will mean that SDN/NFV control decisions can be based on data that gives full visibility of the applications being served by the network.

Performance does not have to be compromised The question ensues, surely with DPI analysis one would introduce performance payoffs in the network. Low memory consumption DPI engines are fully passive with a throughput of up to 9 Gigabits per second and physical thread, without impact on network performance. The advantage to having your network security architecture DPI-enabled is that you can add security in the wire. You can drop in added security by a DPI-enabled firewall without the need for changing the network. DPI-enabled solutions provided by Rhode & Schwarz Cybersecurity are the best performing in terms CPU and bandwidth utilization and can achieve tens of Gbps levels.

DPI leads to more efficient 5G and IoT by getting intelligence closer to the user The large increase in data usage driven by 5G speeds and IoT devices will place an absolute priority on the most efficient routing in the network. This will mean using application layer information to be able to make the best traffic optimization decisions and will result in a more efficient network. The drive to more intelligent decision-making in the network is also a good fit for embedded DPI functionality on the IoT gateway, and even on devices such WiFi access points, because it will be smarter to take some networking decisions as near to the user as possible to maximize Quality-of-Experience (QoE) and bandwith utilization.


DPI can also allay IoT network security fears

Building a network with billions of new devices that are connected via a host of gateways, which, in turn, provide access to and from the network, means that you are introducing a new security structure to protect the network and the integrity of the data traversing the network against external threats. This requires a very different type of security, because many of the connected devices connect and disconnect only fleetingly. Therefore, load balancing and meeting demand becomes much more dynamic. Tracking individual devices on the network becomes more difficult. It simply will not be possible to react and respond to this dynamic world by deploying traditional firewalls at every gateway, provisioned to maximum demand and conditioned to meet only known threats. Instead, embedded DPI at the aggregation layer in the network can exist as part of a security capability that can combine application-level intelligence with firewall-based solutions.

But this will mean multi-layer security is a must, and we must design it now Yes, very small devices will require very efficient solutions in terms of memory, utilizing access to cloud-based IOT analytics platforms and security capabilities higher in the network. But they will also require multi-layer security that can work even when any particular layer may be broken. The time to design this into the network is now. We are at an early stage in terms of standardization at the platform level, and network operational software is far from mature. This means that we must define security within 5G and IoT from the start, before network platforms are mature. We also have to pay special attention to the millions of brownfield environments that become connected to the internet and are not well prepared to deal with the security challenges associated with connected devices. DPI-enabled infrastructure that enables application layer decisions to be made around security, network management and optimization can contribute to jumpstarting the multi-layer, intelligent, secure network of the future. DPI allows network equipment to not just detect applications within network traffic but rather semantically understand the communication protocols in order to detect behavioral anomalies and hacking attempts. Rohde & Schwarz Cybersecurity ipoque TMNQUARTERLY 5



Vimpelcom’s history has seen it rise beyond its Russian base and Eurasian holdings to take positions in Europe and in emerging markets. Although it has been dogged by a somewhat controversial past, it is now targeting 4G growth in many markets, and is pushing into markets such as multinational business and M2M services.



Capex = 18% OF REVENUES IN 2015






VimpelCom’s business has been dogged with corruption allegations, especially in countries formerly in the Soviet Union The carrier paid a $795 million fine to settle a long-running bribery case in Uzbekistan this year. VimpelCom co-owner Telenor ASA suspended several executives over the Uzbek probe in 2015 and announced a strategic decision to sell its 33 percent stake in the carrier. In the Ukraine there was also a long-running ownership dispute between Alfa Group and Telenor over what is now Kyivstar. The dispute included shares being seized and companies being found in contempt of court. The 2011 merger with Egypt-based Orascom Telecom (and investment vehicle Weather Investments) that created what was at the time the world’s fifth largest mobile telecommunications carrier by subscribers, was also not straighforward. There has also been a relatively high turnover in senior executives at the

Group and in its country territories. Those who have been through the revolving doors include Boris Nemsic (previously of Telekom Austria who lasted just over a year), Alexander Izosimov (who did service for years either side of Nemsic until 2011) and Jo Lunder, who left in March 2015 was arrested by Norwegian police later in the year. Naturally the company hoped it could finally put these days behind it and drive business growth in local regions and Europe without incurring investor disputes. However, in September 2016, there was further trouble when Russia market CEO Mickhail Slobodin resigned, following allegations related to his previous job at energy company T-Plus. In some sense these high profile news cases obscure what has been an interesting journey within the company’s individual markets, where it has adopted some notable network and marketing strategies. Below we look at progress in its main markets.




31m customers

After a long history of near-acquisition and deals, on 7 November 2016, VimpelCom, and CK Hutchison Holdings, parent company of 3 Italia announced that they have completed the transaction to combine their businesses in Italy. WIND was furst founded in 1997 by France Telecom, Deutsche Telekom and ENEL, the latter of which became its sole shareholder in 2003. Wind Telecom, owner of Orascom Teleco, acquired from ENEL a 62.75% indirect ownership stake in WIND in 2005, and the remaining 37.25% in 2006. In 2011, VimpelCom completed the purchase of all of the outstanding share capital of WIND TELECOM. 3 Italia and Wind are formally under the joint ownership (50/50) of CK Hutchison and VimpelCom. The combined business forms a strong new operator in Italy, driving competition in the market and serving over 31 million mobile customers and 2.7 million fixed line customers. The joint venture will be positioned as a truly converged operator through its cooperation with Enel Open Fiber. The transaction, which gave birth to the joint venture, combining 3 Italia and Wind, has been one of the largest M&A transactions done in Italy since 2007.



49.8m customers

Seven countries: Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia, Tajikistan. VimpelCom provides mobile services to 50 million customers in the Eurasian countries and is market leader in Ukraine and Uzbekistan. It is the second largest operator in Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. In Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Armenia, VimpelCom provides mobile and fixed-line telephony, as it also owns fixed-line broadband networks in these countries with 1.2 million fixed-line broadband customers in total, enabling VimpelCom to launch integrated fixed-mobile convergence products. With relatively low data penetration in the Eurasian business unit, mobile data traffic has strong growth potential, especially following the launch of 3G in Ukraine in 2015, which was the business unit’s last market to offer 3G services.

57.7m customers

Following VimpelCom’s founding in 1992, the Company launched the Beeline brand in 1993. In 2005, the Company undertook a powerful rebranding campaign introducing the trademark black and yellow brand and underscoring a major program aimed at transforming Beeline into a world-class service company. In Russia, total revenue was organically stable year on year, with a reduction in fixed-line service revenue being offset by growth in mobile service revenue and increased sales of equipment and accessories. Fixed-line service revenue decreased by 11% year on year to RUB 10.9 billion, mainly as a result of a change in B2B contracts from being dollar-based to rublebased and because of a reduction in low-margin traffic. Mobile service revenue increased organically 1% year on year, driven by 19% year on year growth in mobile data revenue to RUB 12.2 billion and by growing interconnect revenue, although this growth was partially offset by decreasing voice revenue. Beeline’s mobile customer base expanded by 4% to 57.7 million year on year, mainly as a result of sales through the Svyaznoy retail channel and an increase in the number of Beeline monobrand stores. TMNQUARTERLY 7




86.3m customers

Vimpelcom treats three markets as emerging markets: Bangladesh, where it operates under the Banglalink brand, Pakistan (Mobilink) and Algeria, where it is branded as Djezzy. Total Emerging markets revenue increased organically by 6% year on year in the first quarter of 2016, driven by strong results in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Algeria’s total revenue was organically stable year on year. Emerging markets continues to see customer growth, with 4.9 million customers added year on year, excluding the impact of the blocking of unverified SIMs in Pakistan of 5.6 million customers that occurred in the second quarter of 2015. In Algeria, service revenue was organically stable year on year in the first quarter this year, as the decrease in voice revenue was offset by growth in data, content and interconnect revenue. In Pakistan, service revenue increased organically by 12% year on year, mainly as a result of 80% year-onyear growth in mobile data revenue and 55% year on year growth in mobile financial service revenue. In Bangladesh, service revenue grew organically by 6% year on year, driven by a strong growth in mobile data revenue of 60% year on year and a 3% year-on-year increase in voice revenue. Emerging markets showed underlying EBITDA organic growth of 15% year on year driven by revenue growth and continued cost efficiency initiatives. 8 TMNQUARTERLY

The company is becoming known for striking network sharing deals, following an “asset light” policy in terms of its infrastructure. In December 2015, MTS and VimpelCom signed an addendum to their agreement on the joint planning, development and usage of LTE networks, which they originally concluded in 2014 to unite their spectrum bands in 20 regions in Russia. In 2016, the list of the regions was expanded to 31. Apart from Vologda region, in 20162017, the operators plan to unite their spectrum resources in other regions. “After two years of execution, our ambitious project with VimpelCom is entering its final stage — during the next year, we’ll unite our LTE networks on shared spectrums in more than 30 regions. The project allows us to minimize costs on construction and utilising of the base stations, decrease the timeline for network launch and what is more provide our subscribers with the higher mobile internet speeds in modern LTE networks”, noted Andrei Ushatskiy, Vice President for Technology and IT. Kazakhstan also has a network share with Kcell for LTE networks. The agreement between Beeline Kazakhstan and Kcell aims to incorporate all 4G/LTE ready sites (in terms of location, transmission capacity and the infrastructure environment of each city) into the newly-shared network. Beeline Kazakhstan has has also employed Astellia to help improve its network performance and boost customer experience. It uses Astellia’s solution for 2G and 3G end-to-end network performance monitoring and troubleshooting to quickly discover and resolve issues and implement

ongoing performance enhancements. Astellia will also feed Beeline’s Big Data solution with relevant information to allow it to make better. 4G was launched in Algeria in October 2016. This means that VimpelCom has now launched 4G/LTE across nine of its 14 markets, including Armenia, Georgia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The company has an interesting transformation programme under way called Digital Stack, designed to overhaul the way it manages business support systems across 11 markets. It says it is the largest transformation project in the industry up to now and the first to take place on a global scale. Vimpelcom is migrating all software systems that VimpelCom currently has on to one cloud-based platform, to be able to analyse data in order to offer its customers streamlined services in real-time. CTO Yogesh Malik says,”imagine, we’re talking about the data generated by over 200 million customers each second of the day; data that, with this streamlined approach, really does matter for making our services tailored to customers’ needs. This is the only way we can really get closer to them. The Digital Stack will turbo-charge our product and service development, giving us access to near real-time analytics that will open up a host of possibilities to provide truly personalized services and a better customer experience on all levels. “For Generation Z, services like Uber, Whatsapp and Viber are an obvious way to request instant service response. To be in the same space and meet customers’ demands, we need to be able to provide the same level of smart data management on a huge scale.”


Perhaps it is no coincidence that the terms for emerging network architectures seem to hint at something vague, shape-shifting and intangible. The mobile network is in the cloud, of course, but it is also about to be equipped with a FOGgy edge and perhaps even a misty radio. These are the terms that describe the breaking down of the rigidly hierarchical and verticallystacked network into something more distributed and horizontal, more pervasive and flexible, something that can shift shape and location. Perhaps the best known architectural shift in the industry has been the concept of Mobile Edge Computing (MEC). MEC, which is now also known as multiaccess edge computing, moves cloudbased applications, and some network functions, right to the base station itself or to a local node serving a cluster of base

stations. This allows applications to be informed by information derived at cell level — and it means that system latencies can be lowered. To make it economical, it relies on COTS hardware and Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) technology to virtualise parts of the RAN. Of course, not everything gets moved to the edge, even where operators have deployed MEC. Only applications that require real time or near real time performance really benefit. The architectural split is best defined in the following way: “Centralise what you can, put what you must at the edge.” FOG computing is similar, in that it extends cloud computing to the edge of networks, in particular wireless networks for the Internet of Things (IoT), where Fog Computing Nodes (FCNs) are typically located away from the main cloud data centers. It is in a term that is less used in the mobile network world, but its impact is not negligible, and in fact one of the reasons for MEC advocates changing the MEC name to “multi-access edge computing” was to acknowledge that there was little, philosphically, between MEC and other edge computing approaches. So why Fog? Well, to meet growing local and distributed computing needs, the cloud is now “descending” but also spreading to the network edge and sometimes even as far as onto end user devices, which forms the “fog”. Like MEC, Fog computing distributes computing, data processing, and networking services closer to the end TMNQUARTERLY 9



The Cloud RAN can share base station resources across sites, implementing flexible orchestration for RAN real time and non-real time functions based on different service requirements and transmission resource configuration to perform cloudification of the RAN. But Huawei has recently gone further and has claimed that with extremely fast and dense scheduling algorithms, that benefit from its edge-based Mobile Cloud Engine, it can enable sharing of the air interface itself. Edward Deng, President of Huawei Wireless Network Solution, said that CloudAIR uses advanced scheduling to allow different RATs (Radio Access Technologies) to share the same spectrum within a carrier band. Deng said that CloudAIR will dynamically allocate frequency resource units, changing them “slot by slot” to configure channels for different RATs, thereby avoiding interference. The technology also includes the capability to share power between RATs, as well as a concept called User Centric MIMO (UC-MIMO) can deploy automatic logical TRX combinations.


The CloudAIR technology will be demonstrated in MWC 2017, Deng added. It is part of a massive drive Huawei will make towards the “Cloudification” of the mobile network, from the core to radio. Its Mobile Cloud Edge, launched two years ago, now has 10 commercial deployments, Deng said. The next step will be the development of Huawei’s Mobile Cloud Engine — a means of modularising different network functions to deploy them across the network depending on use case. Cloud Engine will also enable cloud network features such as decoupling User and Control planes to allow for concurrent connections on different layers (macro, small cell) of the network, as well as uplink and downlink connection across different layers. Mobile Cloud Engine will be released commercially in Q3 2017, Deng added. Cloud Engine will also provide a platform for third party developers to site apps.

users. Instead of concentrating data and computation in a small number of large clouds, fog computing envisions many fog systems deployed close to the end users or where computing and intelligent networking can best meet user needs. Fog computing and networking present a new architecture vision where distributed edge and user devices collaborate with each other and with the clouds to carry out computing, control, networking, and data management tasks. For mobile network-watchers, of particular interest is the manner in which Fog-based services may prove effective ways to address a wide range of challenges specific to the IoT — such as help securing resourceconstrained endpoints or supporting local analytics. The IEEE states that Fog-enabled 5G radio access networks can improve network performance, enable direct device-to-device wireless communications, and support the growing trend of network function virtualisation and separation of network control intelligence from radio network hardware. And the IEE states that, just as with MEC, Fog computing and networking sets questions of developers, such as how to compose, deploy, and manage distributed fog services, how to enable highly scalable and manageable Fog networking and computing, how to secure fog computing systems, how should the Fog interact with the cloud, and how to enable users to control their Fog services. The rise of the Foggy edge has become inextricably linked with the rise of 5G, as edge computing meets some of the technical demands of the 5G requirement matrix. It delivers low latencies, it could provide a platform for third party application development, it may even provide a means to enable the new security architecture that will be necessary to underpin new, as yet unknown, 5G services. In that sense, it is not helpful to think


“So why Fog? Well, to meet growing local and distributed computing needs, the cloud is now “descending” but also spreading to the network edge.” of the Fog and multi-access edge as a single stage investment in the network. Fittingly, Fog will creep across the network. EE’s Hanif Mansoor, who is in charge of the operator’s RAN technical direction, says that MEC is de facto a good thing because “getting closer” to the customer tends to be better. But EE will not be undertaking a big lift and replace of its RAN hardware. Instead, Mansoor is taking the opportunity to embed MEC capability — in other words capable computing power and hardware — whenever there is a need for a new bit of equipment. One example he gave was where rural coverage was being upgraded and required new base stations — in that case EE has made sure that if it wants to host further functions or services from that point, then it is able to do so.

FLEXIBILITY BUILT-IN Similarly, we are seeing that NFV introduction will be gradual and careful, with hybrid networks in operation for some time to come. 5G’s mobile network architecture, then, will include both physical and virtual network functions, as well as edge-cloud and central-cloud deployments. Further, it is clear that that the 5G mobile network needs to integrate LTE-A evolution with novel 5G technologies on the RAN level, fulfilling the vision of what NGMN calls a “5G RAT family”. The view of 5G-PPP, the European body that co-ordinates 5G R&D research,

is that it is assumed that a logical CN (core network) / RAN split will exist (possibly with some change in the exact logical split between RAN and CN), allowing for an independent evolution of both RAN and CN, and for cross-layer optimisations in some deployments when the functions are co-located. This setup could make use of a S1 CN/RAN interface and X2 inter-node RAN interface. There is also ongoing research of concepts aiming to provide a high degree of architecture flexibility, e.g. a flexible assignment and integration of RAN and CN functions. A focus of future research work is to develop all options and compare them in terms of flexibility, complexity and cost involved in meeting the requirements of future uses cases. 5G-PPP also identifies the important role that some general design principles are expected to play in 5G networks like the support of slicing, the Control Plane/User Plane split and the flexible placement of functions to support different use cases. Finally, 5G services will require improved orchestration schemes among different administration domains, as well as the full exploitation of cloud facilities at different aggregation points.

DATACENTRE AT THE MOBILE EDGE? To enable Control/User plane separation, and to manage the distribution of core network elements in a flexible way across the network, the mCORD project M-CORD — standing for mobile-Central Office Rearchitected as a Datacentre — is a project within ONOS that seeks to define a white-box, distributed, edgebased mobile network architecture. The aim of M-CORD is to combine capabilities such as a programmable

RAN, a disaggregated and virtualised EPC, Mobile Edge Computing, and endto-end slicing. In that way it is hoped that operators might be able to build more flexible networks that avoid, for example, the aggregation of data traffic through the mobile core that can tax backhaul, backbone transport, and the EPC itself. M-CORD integrates disaggregated/virtualised Radio Access Network (RAN) and disaggregated/ virtualised Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and mobile edge services. Thus M-CORD promises to further transform the mobile network from a transport network into a service delivery platform, allowing operators to achieve considerable opportunities for edge services with cloud-based economies and cost-savings. With M-CORD’s potential, operators and their collaborators may tap deeper into services such as digital gaming, video streaming, the Internet of Things (IoT), safety, Big Data analytics, mobile health, education, smart cities, vehicular communications, and much more with improved QoE and agility.

A NEW PROTOCOL? There are also efforts to define entirely new protocol architectures, to diminish the reliance on TCP, which many feel is sub optimal for wireless IP networks in general, and certainly for 5G. ETSI’s Next Generation Protocol ISG has been set up to consider what would be the best protocol architecture for the next generation of communication systems. It states that, “The prize is to remove the anchor drag of historic suboptimised IP protocol stacks and allow all the next generation networks to interwork in a way that accelerates a post2020 connected world unencumbered by past developments.”

Delivering the FOGgy edge will require new front and backhaul links. Can these be economically deployed? Join the conversation

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LEARNING THE HARD WAY Machine learning and AI are the latest buzzwords in the tech world right now. As mobile operators think about where and how they can automate their networks and service operations, this two part feature looks at how automation might play out across mobile networks.


First it was Network Analytics and datafed SON and orchestration, then it was Big Data, now it is Machine Learning and AI. The temptation is to think that these terms all refer to the same thing within mobile operators — the increasing role of data analytics within the network to do more things more quickly, more efficiently and with less or zero human intervention. It’s a well trodden path. Yet it is a path that will widen and lengthen and here is why. First, operators are keen to meet massive demands for IoT connectivity — and to provide the analytics capability for devices and things that are connected to cellular networks, but also for devices that are connected by short range and fixed technologies. That will demand massive scaleability. Second, a key 5G business driver is the desire to enable enterprise verticals to benefit from network slicing technologies so that specific classes of connectivity can be provided on a per-customer basis. Managing all that is going to require increased automation as it simply cannot be provisioned and designed by manual methods. Third, the security and integrity of networks is going to rise from being something that is assumed to something that must be explicitly assured. High profile hacks at government and service provider level are already damaging reputations and putting customers at risk. When those customers are businesses running critical operations, or connected transport operators or utilities, the the stakes are the highest. Fourth, the destination for mobile networks is, as we know, a softwarecontrolled, virtualised architecture, managed by intelligent orchestrators, with a flexible multi-access edge. That will require complex operational procedures that include automated testing and optimisation, and an ongoing dynamic remodelling and re-scheduling of resources. Fifth, the direction of travel is for operators to become “digital service providers” — a somewhat catch-all term that means, in essence, that operators


“The path to automated analytics is a path that will widen and lengthen and here is why ...” want to underpin the transformations of other businesses by providing the security, user analytics and of course analytics capabilities. Again, this is a “Big Data” play for operators but certainly one that deploys a higher degree of automation in the business process part of the business. So, all of this means that, according to ABI Research, mobile broadband operators are ramping up spend for big data and machine learning. ABU say mobile operators will devote more than $50 billion to big data and machine learning analytics through 2021, with machine learning technologies leading operators to “profoundly change how they manage the telecom business”. “Machine learning-based predictive analytics are applicable to all aspects of the telecom business,” says Joe Hoffman, Managing Director and Vice President at ABI Research. “It is important that operators master and internalise these technologies and not rely solely on their vendors’ expertise. Executives that overlook big data and machine learning risk irrelevance.” ABI says that machine learning can deliver benefits across operators’ telecom operations with financiallyoriented applications, including fraud mitigation and revenue assurance, currently making the most compelling cases. The difference between current analytics engines and machine learning is legacy analytics are rule-based solutions that cannot keep pace with the “criminal element”, but machine learning excels at spotting trending anomalies.

Out in the network, predictive machine learning applications for network performance optimisation and realtime management will introduce more automation and efficient resource utilisation. Telecom big data solutions include the commercial IT kit; the open source, Java-based Hadoop ecosystem, SQL/NoSQL data management, and orchestration platforms. Spending on this infrastructure will exceed $7 billion in 2021. But the biggest growth and most value comes from using predictive analytics to improve telecom business performance, with machine-learning-based predictive analytics to grow at nearly 50% CAGR and reach $12 billion through 2021. Leading infrastructure vendors — Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and ZTE — are delivering big data and machine learning solutions oriented toward network operations. Even Hadoop/ NoSQL startups like Argyle Data, and chip vendors, led by Intel and Qualcomm, are delivering solutions pertinent to the telecom operator, ABI adds. “These are exciting times for mobile broadband as we see the convergence of IT and telecom, virtualisation with software-defined networking, or SDN, and network function virtualization, or NFV, the adoption of artificial intelligence machine learning, and the ubiquitous coverage of all-IP 4G and 5G networks,” concludes Hoffman. “With the rise of commercial cloud infrastructure and machine learning services, every mobile operator can

be a big data company. In just a few years, we will see the mobile networks of tomorrow manifest into giant, distributed supercomputers, with radios attached, continuously reengineered by machine learning.” To back up Hoffman’s contentions, it’s certainly true that automation has been something that major operators have begun to talk more about through 2016. AT&T has open sourced its ECOMP software, a major element of which includes the automation of processes to provision, control and manage its SDN and NFV-based networks. AT&T has said eCOMP is designed to automate network services and infrastructure running in a cloud environment. T-Mobile’s Mark McDiarmid, VP Radio Network Engineering, told an analyst meeting in late 2016 that automation in the RAN and Core are “strategically important “to T-Mobile USA and that the operator is at the point of “continuing engagement” with vendors. And Vodafone’s David Amzallag used two industry conferences in October to call for increased cloud-native, not merely cloudified, telco applications from his vendors. Only this would enable Vodafone to work towards its goal of automated service delivery for enterprise customers. Softbank is another operator talking about automation from a service delivery point of view, using orchestration capabilities from Cisco (Tail-f) to enable customers to create a more flexible, elastically scalable pool of network resources. Instead of manually wiring and configuring each element of the

“All of this means that operators are ramping up spend for big data and machine learning.”



“Amongst vendors we are also seeing movements to beef up automation and machine learning capabilities.”

service, Softbank is orchestrating the provisioning of multi-vendor network elements. Scientists working for NTT have identified a range of “big data” use cases within the mobile network itself that would benefit from the application of machine learning technologies. These include Waveform analysis to enable massive MIMO, using analytics to track user location and direction. Another use case is to analyse signalling and control plane message flows for example analysing handover signalling to identify coverage holes. Finally, NTT is deploying large scale traffic analytics on Hadoop platforms to determine traffic dynamics and usage conditions to improve network performance. In the vendor field, we are also seeing movements to beef up automation and machine learning capabilities. In December Nokia announced plans to acquire Deepfield, a provider of real-time analytics for IP network performance management and security. Juniper recently acquired AppFormix, highlighting that the reason for the purchase is to bring that company’s streaming analytics and machine


learning solutions to Juniper — tailored for managing the operations of large OpenStack and Kubernetes-based Hybrid clouds and NFV/Telco clouds. Nokia says it is buying Deepfield to give its SDN controllers more visibility of the network. Deepfield offers application visibility, a bit like you’d expected from DPI and application classification from the likes of Procera, but does so without using probes in the network. Nokia claims that providers have very limited insight into which applications are running on their networks, and what impact this application traffic is having on their networks and subscribers. At the same time, the advent of SDN and NFV technologies is creating increased demand for network and service automation, which requires big data analytics - delivered in real time — to drive it. Deepfield’s Internet Genome technology can identify over 30,000 popular cloud applications and services, tracking how this traffic runs to and through networks to reach subscribers, in real time, and without the need for expensive probes, taps and monitors in the network itself. Nokia plans to put Deepfields big data analytics to work with its SDN controllers, such as the Nokia Network Services Platform (NSP) and Nuage Networks Virtualized Services Platform (VSP). Together, these products become the cognitive “brain” that makes realtime, automated changes to networks based on the data analytics. The vendors said its service assurance and customer experience management portfolios would also use Deepfield’s

big data analytics. Basil Alwan, president of Nokia’s IP/ Optical Networks business group, said: “Combining Deepfield’s cuttingedge analytics with Software Defined Networking techniques (SDN) will allow our customers to automate engineering and assurance processes while enhancing performance, utilization and security. We believe this capability will only increase in importance as networks and applications become more complex, diverse and dynamic.” Orchestration specialist Aria Networks designed a proof of conpcet within the TM Forum Catalyst collaboration with NTT, Ericsson, Viavi and WeDo demonstrating how a dynamic, closedloop NFV orchestration solution can maximize profitability of 5G network slicing in real time. Aria said the PoC was a “showcase of Aria Networks’ patented AI solutions for delivering fixed, mobile and OTT services that has already been deployed by some of the most valuable brands in the world to deliver automated network optimisation.” The catalyst shows how to dynamically adjust VNFs in real time and monitor them constantly to maximize both technical performance, resource utilisation and business profitability. Achieving Dr Jay Perrett, CTO of Aria Networks comments: “The end goal for service providers is a highly-automated business, based on intelligent consideration of all the factors that can affect profitability, from moment to moment. SDN and NFV add to the range of options that service providers have, which means more complex decisions to make. That’s the sort of problem that only AI can solve.”


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PRIOR INTELLIGENCE Mobile network technology is dominated by its major equipment manufacturers, but there is still room for innovation to come from other areas — some of it academic, some backed by operators themselves. In the first part of a two-part feature, The Mobile Network gives you some new names from the wireless industry to drop into conversation and look like you are ahead of the game.

ZEETTA NETWORKS Next generation orchestration

Zeetta Networks is a University of Bristol spin-out offering Open Networking solutions for heterogeneous networks based on Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Virtualisation technologies. Zeetta has a proprietary network operating system called NetOS, and its aim is to deliver a smarter, more flexible, and cost effective network orchestration solution — for WiFi, cellular and fixed assets — based on industry standard hardware. It provides clients with a vendor-agnostic solution that expands networking capability to include any connected devices, across any combination of network hardware. NetOS manages simultaneous data flows between different types of connected devices and sub-systems including Wireless, Optical, Ethernet (Layer2/3) and Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices. This provides an integrated

approach that significantly increases network performance and productivity. The NetOS network orchestration software provides a single, converged and secure platform for monitoring, managing and automating the operations of an ICT network. By bringing together all network sub-systems under the control of a centralised operating system, NetOS not only improves the operational efficiency but also enables better monetisation of the network resources via new applications and services. This enhances the experience of both end users and business customers alike. NetOS uses intelligent software and virtualisation to replace hardware networking equipment and human intervention for the provisioning and management of the network resources, driving greater efficiency and agility from the network.



The IoT will place new demands on network security architecture and operations. Application classification, embedded across the network, can enable a new security architecture for the IoT, as well as deliver real-time information to SDN and NFV network management systems. Deployed across the network it adds up to a secure, flexible, future IoT network.






















Taking Visible Light Communications to market PureLiFi is probably now the best-known company looking to commercialise LiFi technology. During 2016 it has raised more funds and appointed a new CEO and chairman as it looks to beef up its commercial experience. The company, covered by TMN in February this year, has now raised just over $10 million. The latest round, for an undisclosed sum, was led by a fund from Singapore called Temasek. Mike Banham, formerly SVP Sales at Wolfson Microelectronics has been made full time CEO. The company also has an experienced semicon industry leader in as Chairman with Mike Hickey, former CEO of Wolfson, taking over the role on a four year basis. Previous chairman Professor Russel Griggs steps down. Established in 2012, pureLiFi is a spinout from the University of Edinburgh, where its pioneering research into visible light communication has been in development since 2008 as part of the renowned D-Light project. The company received backing of a different kind where regulator IMDA has said it would create a framework to enable the evaluation of visible light communications in Singapore. This will be on a license-exempt basis, similar to WiFi. There are no particular public trials planned by pureLiFi (yet) and any other activities are of course covered by confidentiality. However, this regulatory advancement will hopefully enable many trials in the country.



Giving a real time view of customer experience UK company Teragence set out to provide an ultra-granular view of network-customer experience, and to try and do so in real-time. With a new take on how to provide and monitor active tests within the mobile network, it features a measurement methodology which enables the correlation of base network technical measurements such as loss, delay, jitter to the resultant customer experience across different application classes, which they reflect in a score. This methodology is installed on the handset and auto-generates measurements every 20-30 mins. Instead of building a customer-facing app, Teragence partners with existing apps with existing footprint. It pays its partners a small fee to incorporate its measurement SDK, and in exchange Teragence can scale to a larger footprint, quicker and more efficiently. Today Teragence is deployed to more than 100,000 handsets in the UK, providing in excess of 30 million measurments per week. This enables the company to build a view of network customer experience for any network, any location and any time via a real time data processing and visualisation engine which feeds the information back to its clients in real time. Operators can access the information through an online portal or through an API which in turn can be integrated into existing OSS, analytics and SON platforms. This means that operators can understand in real time how their customers are experiencing their network, but can also gain an instantaneous view of operators’ own performance. It does not matter that you are “good” in a given location, if your competitor’s performance is on par, you are only “average”. Teragence says it is now talking to all of the UK mobile operators and is in the last throes of signing its first commercial agreement with a major global system integrator with its eyes on the network management market. The company is now actively looking for external investment to support this drive to market.


AMBEENT WIRELESS With a re-brand in mid-2016 from MiSONE, Ambeent is developing a 5G WiFi cloud SAAS solution for what it calls the 5G carrier market. The Company says it provides a 5G WiFi cloud solution over an SDN and NFV framework that inherently consolidates current disconnected islands of WiFi access points even in existing enterprise and home WiFi/LTE-U networks.

PIVOTAL COMMUNICATIONS Holographic beamforming (HBF) antenna and radio

If 5G takes off, if high-speed highbandwidth sceanrios develop, if advanced SON requirements are to come to fruition, a key technical enable will be smarter antennas. Pivotal develops software-defined antennas and radios that use something known as Holographic Beam Forming - going beyond current multi-element beam forming techniques to increase network speed, capacity and spectral efficiency. For network operators, Pivotal’s reconfigurable beams can follow mobile users in real time using the lowest cost, size, weight and power envelope available. Pivotal’s holographic beamforming focuses transmitted power at the intended recipient(s) as opposed to the omnidirectional DSP based space-time coding used in digital beamforming. Holographic beamforming provides a solution to the need for greater spectral efficiency driven by the insatiable demand for wireless data.

TWO CLOUD WIFI AS A SERVICE CANDIDATES KODACLOUD KodaCloud offers enterprise customers Wi-Fi as a cloudpowered subscription service with one global system for proactive network monitoring and troubleshooting using patented Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques. It markets an access point with an “agent software layer” then enables remote, cloud-based, monitoring and management on subscription. Although it has been focussed on the service provider enterprise market, in December 2016 it announced the commercial availability of a new outdoor Wi-Fi access point (OAP). With this launch, KodaCloud expanded its portfolio of Wi-Fi as a Cloud Service to deliver Wi-Fi for mixed indoor and outdoor environments. The company, until recently in stealth mode, is led by many ex-Belair and SpiderCloud personnel.

Through holographic beamforming, it is possible to simultaneously reuse the same spectrum in a given space. Like the beams from several spotlights illuminating discrete objects on a stage, holographic beamforming antennas are capable of focusing their radiated power on separate targets without illuminating adjacent users. Unlike current cellular systems that utilise antennas that form 60-90 degree stationary sector beams, holographic beamforming permits more of a one-to-one communications protocol between base station and user. This technique preserves the spectral hygiene of the cell and allows multiple concurrent transmissions using the same frequency without interference. This allows abundant spectrum reuse and higher modulation rate signals for both stationary and mobile users. Pivotal is very much in stealth mode, with no website live, but it has been actively seeding marketing by entering awards, including the GLOMOs at MWC 2017. TMNQUARTERLY 21


Part I of our two part look at the network of the Internet of Things looks at the capabilities required


in the radio network.

Although most attention to date has been fixed on the competing proprietary and standardised technologies for supporting IoT devices in the radio access network, the impact of the Internet of Things goes deeper into the network than just the radio. The network to support the IoT introduces either a new radio network or a modified existing cellular network, new gateways between the radio network and the operator core, new analytics platforms, a new security architecture and some new core network, policy and provisioning nodes.

RADIO NETWORK The radio element attracts attention because it impacts most directly on the device environment, and also because it creates an easy narrative: this operator has invested in LoRa, that one in Sigfox, still another prefers to wait for NB-IoT, whilst others have taken a dual strategy. It’s understandable, though, that attention focusses on this area, as of course it’s a key signal to the timing of the market. Deutsche Telekom trumpets that its commercial networks in Germany and The Netherlands can support NB-IoT today, and Vodafone says it will have commercial networks equipped with NB-IOT in Q1 2017. Meanwhile Orange’s SVP of network architecture & design, Alain Maloberti, has said that the operator will not have live, LTE-based commercial services until 2018. That’s not because the network won’t be ready - indeed Maloberti said Orange will start this year the upgrades that will enable its network to support NB-IoT. Rather, it’s because the ecosystem — devices, applications and service — will not be mature until that point. In fact, if you look at the detail, or the missing details, of the DT and Vodafone announcements, you see something similar. Vodafone has said it will have network readiness on live, commercial networks by early 2017, but made


no mention of actual service availability referencing only some early trials. DT has in fact also announced “only” the deployment of the NBIoT network capability, with an SDK and test environment for developers now, and actual customer-facing services arriving later. Its release says, “Developers receive a starter developer kit and support via their relevant hub with the aim to introduce first Narrowband IoT solutions by the end of 2017.” In fact the releases seem more targeted at being able to say one is the “first” to have a live network capability — or in Vodafone’s case to announced a live capability. And of course, DT’s announcement will irk Vodafone, given the latter has so publicly supported and driven the accelerated specification of NB-IoT, often in tandem with Huawei, the vendor that has also supported the DT rollout. But neither release alters the likely 2018 timescale of NB-IoT, and that timescale is why Orange, which wants to address the IoT opportunity as soon as possible, has forged ahead with a nationwide rollout of LoRa technology. Maloberti confirmed that the operator would operate both access technologies in tandem, with a single service layer above both wireless connectivity layers allowing it, in time, to transfer customers from the LoRa network to the LTE NB-IoT network. “Clearly in the long term the target is to have those features (IoT) in the cellular network because this will ensure complete coverage. However we started with LoRa because in France there is a demand from businesses, and the only technology that was available and for which we have the ecosystem was LORA.” That NB-IoT is really a 2018 technology in terms of commercial availability at scale only emphasises the desire operators have to extend its life, casting some doubt on the near-term


deployment of 5G networks as a major enabler of cellular IoT. Recently TMN has heard several operators propose the long life existence of NB-IoT, with IoT networks connected to 5G access really only deployed for the most ultra-reliable or massively dense environments. True 5G IoT, then, gets pushed back in timetables to what you might call the second phase of 5G, from 2025, when supporting infrastructure is in place for massive densities, or extremely low latencies, or ultra-reliability, or ultrawide and deep coverage use cases. Operators, only just now investing in NBIoT, proprietary technologies, or both, want to see those investments support services for as long as possible, meaning we are also likely to see co-existence of different types of radio technology, with a common core, analytics and control layer. In a whitepaper titled “A Comparison of UNB and Spread Spectrum Wireless Technologies as used in LPWA M2M Applications”, wireless consultancy Real Wireless said that to support Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) network technologies two main alternative approaches of supporting the physical layer communication link have been adopted: “frequency division into very narrowband channels (UNB) typified by Sigfox and Telensa systems and spread spectrum approaches typified by LoRa and Ingenu systems.” Within Europe, 7 MHz of licence exempt spectrum is currently available for LPWA use in the band 863 MHz to 870 MHz with a further 2x6MHz recommended for use in many countries, although with limited adoption to date. In North America 26 MHz of spectrum can be used by LPWA systems. However, constraints such as transmitter power and duty cycle limits (the proportion of time the transmitter can be active) along with the need for frequency hopping apply to different bands in different countries and can constrain coverage and capacity

When a LPWA system needs to operate in the presence of another LPWA system, Real Wireless notes that direct sequence spread spectrum (DSSS) system is likely to be a poor neighbour — it is both difficult to avoid interfering with and suffering interference from a DSSS LPWA network. The impact will be more pronounced on the uplink. The range of the victim uplink will reduce as the aggressor network loading increases. Interference from aggressor end points near the victim base station could effectively jam/block the victim base station.

RADIO CONTENDERS According to wireless IoT expert LinkLabs, of the radio contenders, SigFox is a narrowband (or ultranarrowband) technology. It uses a standard radio transmission method called binary phase-shift keying (BPSK), and it takes very narrow chunks of spectrum and changes the phase of the carrier radio wave to encode the data. It requires an inexpensive endpoint radio and a more sophisticated basestation to manage the network. LoRa is a spread-spectrum technology with a wider band (usually 125 kHz or more). Its frequency-modulated chirp utilises coding gain for increased receiver sensitivity. LoRaWAN looks at a wider amount of spectrum than SigFox (and thus gets more interference). However, because it’s looking for a very specific type of communication, the elevate noise due to a larger receiver bandwidth is mitigated by the coding gains. The catch is that the only company that made the radio for LoRa was Semtech, however licensing to other manufacturers is open and some have begun to announce products. LoRa is also likely the better option if you need true bidirectionality because of the symmetric link. With SigFox, you could use bidirectional command-and-control functionality,










“Some envisage network slicing being brought to bear in IoT security, with appropriate security being baked into slices with different security contexts.”




but to work appropriately, some think network density would need to be higher (due to the asymmetric link). On the cellular side, the GSMA* relates that in 3GPP Release 13, a Cat-M1 UE was specified with three main objectives: reduce complexity further from Cat-0 UE, increase coverage by at least 15 dB, and improve battery life, while allowing reuse of the LTE installed base. The main cost reduction for Cat-M1 from Cat-0 was to reduce bandwidth to six physical resource blocks (PRBs) (1.08MHz) and is referred to as a bandwidth-limited (BL) UE in the 3GPP specifications. Due to this bandwidth limitation, a new control channel and frequency hopping mechanism were specified. Cat-M1 allows an extended battery life of more than 10 years for a wide range of machine type communication use cases mainly through the use of power saving mode (PSM) and extended idle-mode Discontinuous Reception (eDRX), and connected mode eDRX,

Cellular IoT (CIoT) control plane and user plane Evolved Packet System (EPS) optimisations for small data transmission. Narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) is a 3GPP Release 13 feature that reuses various principles and building blocks of the LTE physical layer and higher protocol layers to enable rapid standardisation and product development. NB-IoT has been designed to offer extended coverage compared to the traditional GSM networks. NB-IoT can improve UL capacity for users in bad coverage areas through single tone transmissions. New physical layer signals and channels, such as synchronisation signals and physical random access channel, are designed to meet the demanding requirement of extended coverage and ultra low device complexity. Higher protocols, signalling, and physical-layer processing requirements are greatly simplified in order to reduce UE power consumption and complexity.

SECURITY The GSMA also points out that many are located in remote locations, and are easily accessible to a partisan attacker. IoT application and communication providers must make these devices physically and electronically tamperproof, and enable remote monitoring that checks for any signs of tampering. For critical infrastructure, critical functions or confidential personal data, there may be a need for stricter security requirements. Regulators set some of these requirements; for example, utilities industries tend to be heavily-regulated. MNOs need to assess if LPWA technologies are suitable for such use cases. In some LPWA use cases, involving data transmission through different independent

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platforms, it may be necessary to relocate credential management and access control in a separate entity. Due to power, bandwidth, processing power and memory constraints within LPWA devices, it may not be possible to implement common internet security protocols (such as transport layer security) and it may be impossible to implement multiple layers of security. The application layer is very likely to be dependent upon strong and efficient security features implemented in the LPWA transport layer to provide secure device registration and access to secure communication channels. If transport security cannot be realised or results in a high level of superimposition of security protocols, it might be better to consider application level security with data encryption/signature at the edge device and decryption at the customer back-end. Some envisage network slicing being brought to bear in IoT security, with appropriate security being baked into slices with different security contexts. Slices can be well isolated against each other, but do not reach into the device, so this would need a secure environment in the device to handle security contexts, keeping credentials and keys. There will also be a requirement to handle security in different layers as verticals enter the market ,from network and signalling to services, applications, management and the consumer. There will also be a need for backwards compatibility in the device sphere: as security such as this will not be enabled from the beginning it will require a support migration path, so that devices can manage configs, credentials and firmware during their lifetime.

* GSMA White paper: 3GPP Low Power Wide Area Technologies

E C I V R E S G N I C U D G N I INTRO R O T I N O M Y T I L QUA As operators see service revenues from consumer segments either flatten or decrease, the substantial enterprise and business market becomes increasingly crucial. It is a market that has seen operators move beyond the mere sale of airtime, SIMs and devices to the provision of dedicated network services that are, in many cases, business and safety-critical. Furthermore, as the industry develops 5G technology and services, one of the key financial targets will be the increased engagement and revenue streams that 5G will enable between mobile operators and industry verticals. These new verticals can only be accessed if the network delivers the required performance to support the use cases and therefore realtime monitoring becomes essential. The emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) will also place a diverse range of new demands on the performance of the network from high densities, to deep coverage and near-zero latencies. As services aimed at enterprise and industry verticals increase in number and diversity, increasing importance will be placed on the ability of those customers to verify that they are receiving the throughputs, latencies, coverage and capacities that they have paid for. Additionally, operators will need to demonstrate that they are delivering according to their Service Level Agreement commitments and have real time awareness of network performance issues. Up until now, business customers have depended on service level compliance reports delivered, often on a monthly basis, by their own providers. Gaining independent verification has been very expensive and technically complex.

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With the provision of robust wireless connectivity to people and machines becoming a critical element in the security and operation of organisations and facilities from hospitals to factories and from airports to power plants, a new way of efficiently monitoring the network 24/7 is required. Service Quality Monitoring from Rohde & Schwarz is a step-change, as it enables large enterprises to verify network performance for themselves, and enables operators to ensure they are delivering the services they have promised. It is realised by deploying probes in the RAN, namely the SwissQual QualiPoc Android, and by remotely monitoring the network performance using SmartMonitor, a web-based management and user interface. The system delivers detailed metrics on network performance in real time, provides immediate visibility of network failures and compiles customised reports. The QualiPoc Android Probe is a standard smartphone equipped with test agent software that can be deployed in fixed or mobile mode — either in a shell on a wall, or within a vehicle — to give a user-centric view of network performance and of the voice, video or data services being delivered over that network. SmartMonitor can manage multiple probes and schedule tests, giving high level real time feedback to the management platform. As well as monitoring network performance KPIs such as signal strength and throughput, SmartMonitor can also create quality tests based on specific applications and services. This tests all

the functionality within an application — such as sending messages, posting a picture, making a VoIP call, or streaming video. With video streaming set to account for 50% of mobile data traffic volumes, and with enterprise uses for video such as security and monitoring set to boom, the ability to monitor video quality will become business critical. Service Quality Monitoring is already proving its worth in many deployments. One example is the CERN facility headquartered in Switzerland, where a network of QualiPoc Android Probes is providing real time information on coverage from right around the Large Hadron Collider ring. The probes provide real time verification of the service provided by a local mobile network operator via 60km of leaky feeder RF cable in CERN’s underground facilities. This ensures that the thousands of scientists and engineers working in the sprawling area are reachable 24/7. As mobile network operators target enterprise verticals and government organisations, and as 5G and the IoT enable new service capabilities, but also present diverse and demanding requirements to the network, independent verification of service level performance will become critical for their sustainable and profitable operation. Service Quality Monitoring from Rohde & Schwarz Mobile Network Testing provides a real time, easy-touse and cost-efficient means of providing that independent SCAN HERE FOR MORE INFO verification. TMNQUARTERLY 25



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24/7 connectivity between staff


Coverage monitoring 24/7 communication with vehicles


Ultra-reliability 24/7 deep coverage Video Quality for wearable live feeds




24/7 communication Monitor coverage to M2M sensors



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Real time operations monitoring 24/7 connectivity with staff Monitor sensor coverage



Network performance Coverage monitoring Call quality monitoring

PUBLIC TRANSPORT Voice, video and data quality In-vehicle entertainment monitoring



PLANES & TRAINS TMN looks at the history of, and recent proposals for, providing mobile coverage to trains and planes.

There are two main requirements for trains — connectivity for those on board for voice, messaging and internet use, and connectivity for staff and signalling. For the latter GSM-R is the only standard for digital railway communications used in railways today in Europe, Asia and Africa. Around 70,000 km of railway track are currently covered by GSM-R, which is used for voice communication with the traffic controller and for rail signal data communication. GSM-R is set to skip a generation and shortly begin to be supplemented and/or replaced by another version of LTE in the form of LTE-R, a highspeed network specifically mapped out for railway usage and the creation of smart trains. The primary characteristics of LTE — high speed, high security and high-bandwidth capacity — allow it to carry voice and data for train control, on-board video surveillance and infotainment services for passengers on a single IP network. LTE has latency as 10 milliseconds allowing for support of time-sensitive applications and providing

quality of service management. In November 2016 Nokia was selected by the Korea Rail Network Authority as the supplier for the world’s first LTE-R mobile broadband network to support railway operations and employee services. The network will be deployed on a railway line between Wonju and Gangneung as part of preparations for the Winter Olympics in 2018. The network will support both operational and maintenance services on a high-speed commercial railway line operating at speeds of up to 250 kph. Swedish vendor Ericsson and Bombardier in August, completed trials of LTE networks for smart trains solutions at simulated speeds of up to 200 kph. Eleven tests were conducted in a laboratory to determine the ability of the LTE networks to support communications-based train control and multiservice solutions such as closed-circuit television, voice, platform information, advertising and Wi-Fi for passengers. Huawei said its EWBB LTE solution is designed


to provide broadband services exceeding capabilities of standard GSM-R. Video surveillance solutions installed on the train and along the track or on platforms are said to help improve railway services and customer satisfaction by allowing centralised security staff to monitor individual trains. At the same time, the system can be configured to deliver broadband wireless connectivity to passengers, allowing them to access travel information and internet services during the trip, or watch live TV. Meanwhile the demands of customers on trains has only increased, with customers expecting broadband access while they are on board. There are many options for improving intrain coverage, from on-train WiFi, on-board repeaters and femtocells to making more use of trackside assets to site directional antennas. In the UK the government has stated that train companies must offer free WiFi on mainlines by 2017, although it has since watered down that demand to require only 1Mbps maximum performance. And a report from late 2016 for a Government-backed committee made provision better coverage, and 5G coverage, a priority for UK mobile network operators.


PLANES The European airline market serves over 800 million passengers per year on 150 scheduled airlines and more than 4,400 commercial aircraft, according to the European Commission. The demand for in-flight bandwidth will increase in the next few years — not only across Europe, but around the world. This demand is being driven by email, Short Message Services (SMS), streaming entertainment services and video sharing among passengers and earthbound family members through millions of smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. Almost

Almost all passengers, 97 percent, carry their own devices when traveling. all passengers, 97 percent, carry their own devices when traveling and 18 percent of passengers travel with a smartphone, laptop and tablet, according to a survey of 6,000-plus air travelers by the Swiss airport IT firm, SITA. Currently, most in-flight connectivity uses satellite backhaul, with one vendor operating a satellite/ ground Internet system in North America. For short and medium-haul continental flights, these systems tend to be bulky and expensive. Additionally,

current capacity is limited and exhibits high latency, especially when serving a large number of continental aircraft in a limited geographic area. The solution: an air-to-ground (A2G) network based on 4G cellular Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. This network will utilise ground stations connecting with aircraft flying overhead, providing an ultra-broadband backhaul infrastructure for deploying highbandwidth in-flight connectivity to passengers and crew. While their customers and employees alike are enjoying these services, airlines will benefit from cost efficiencies and competitive offerings. Nokia has developed a 4G LTE solution that combines the advantages of both A2G and satellites. To be deployed across the European Union by 2016, it will be the world’s first truly hybrid aviation A2G solution, consisting of an S-band satellite (Europasat) and a Europe-wide S-band ground network. Based on state-of-the-art LTE technology and access to sufficient spectrum resources, this integrated network will offer airlines the world’s fastest in-flight It is a precondition that A2G LTE operates in a dedicated frequency band

on a dedicated cellular network. Additionally, a harmonised frequency band is an important element for ensuring A2G LTE’s viability when the network is spread out over different countries and national administrations. Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, Nokia and Thales recently successfully conducted a programme of test flights in the UK, connecting to the ground network. The current method of providing in-flight coverage is via satellite. One provider, AeroMobile, says that since 2008 over 38 million passengers have connected to its inflight network. The AeroMobile service is currently in operation with Aer Lingus, Air France, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, Alitalia, Emirates, Etihad, EVA Air, KLM, Lufthansa, Malindo Air, Qatar, SAS, Singapore Airlines, SWISS and Virgin Atlantic.



PAYMENTS & TICKETS Aside from on-board connectivity, mobile networks provide another platform for public transportation — ticketing and payments. Mobile ticketing in the rail and mass transit sector is on the rise — just two years ago only 7% of tickets sold in the UK market were available as e-tickets, but the Government wants to make all tickets available as e-tcickets by 2018. Trainline, a company that provides an app to browse timetables and book tickets, says that its sale of tickets on mobile are doubling every year. Currently, however, only 20% of rail tickets are sold online, giving the mobile-based solutions clear headroom to grow into. Mobile ticketing specialist Masabi says that the advantage of using mobile is that you are not creating a separate infrastructure to replace your paper one, you are using what is already in customers’ pockets. “We believe in...saying, what have you got in your pocket, let’s use that as a ticket. If you have a phone, let’s use a phone. If you have a contactless bankcard, let’s use the contactless bankcard. If you have a wearable, that’s a payment device, let’s use that as well.” Certain cities are making strides in enabling contactless and e-tickets as part of their infrastructure. SINGAPORE In Singapore, Singtel customers with the Singtel Transit NFC SIM can pay for their mass transit rail and bus rides using their NFC mobile phones. BARCELONA Citizens across Barcelona can now use contactless cards, NFC phones and devices such as smartwatches to access the city’s transportation network. HOUSTON In Houston the METRO Q Mobile Ticketing app, launched in 2016, allows users to search transit routes through the city, much like Google Maps or any number of other programs. Once the customer selects a route, they can purchase it instantly within the app. 30 TMNQUARTERLY

How one onboard network works — AeroMobile Satellites

Antenna for off-aircraft communications

Aeromobile ground network

AeroMobile’s inflight network uses satellite technology to enable passengers to use their mobile phones onboard the aircraft. Your mobile signal is connected to a small base-station on-board the aircraft via an antenna that runs the length of the aircraft cabin. Your mobile signal is converted and relayed via the on-board satellite system to the AeroMobile ground network where you are connected back to your home operator. This allows you to make and receive voice calls, send and receive text messages, email and browse the web in the same way as you would when roaming on the ground. The cabin crew are able to manage the phone service from an on-board control panel also used to manage the other services such as in flight entertainment and lighting.




The UK’s authorities insist, so far, on the Power of Four, as the market develops a range of technical solutions to capacity and coverage problems.

The UK’s mobile operator market is a curious mixture of inertia and innovation, both structurally and internally within individual operators. Operators are willing to invest in new technology approaches: Vodafone with its cloud and virtualisation programme, O2 in marketing and fostering a digital start-up culture, Three with is data-first simplicity and EE with its goal to put clear blue network water between itself and the competition. Yet there is also a stasis: four operators remain four, customer numbers remain roughly where they were, revenues remain stagnant, nothing seems to happen *first* in the UK. When it comes to the external structure, the powers that be are wedded rigidly to their Power of 4 mantra. BT was allowed to buy EE because the dominant incumbent fixed line player buying the dominant — especially in 4G — mobile provider was not deemed a danger to competition.

However, Hutchison — the owner of number four operator Three — buying number three operator O2 was not allowed because it would have reduced the number of wholesale national mobile operators down to three. It would also have made the merged company the largest mobile provider in terms of subscribers. And so in a continent that has increasingly seen three operators as the optimum number, the UK continues with a regulatory policy of four national, wholesale operators. But there are some buts. Three and EE share a 3G network, managed on their behalf by a joint venture called MBNL. O2 and Vodafone share a grid, split geographically, across the country, with planning, installation and permit approvals managed by another JV — Cornerstone Ltd. The truth is that four operators is about half an operator too many for a market of this size. Regulator Ofcom has had a longstanding view that four national, network-owning players

is crucial for protecting consumer competition. So the slight fudge is to have four operators, with some element of network sharing where appropriate, to encourage investment in the networks. The country was only the 54th market in the world to get LTE coverage, and even being that high up the list had a lot to do with Ofcom allowing EE to refarm part of its copious 1800MHz spectrum for LTE usage. EE had argued that its rivals had shown their lethargy by not pushing for LTE themselves, but they were hampered by a pure lack of spectrum: they didn’t have

“The truth is that four operators is about half an operator too many for a market of this size.” TMNQUARTERLY 31


1800MHz spectrum where chipset developers were aiming early products. They could have looked to refarm 900MHz but there would have been no device ecosystem. And they couldn’t look to new spectrum as Ofcom had not yet put it up for auction. In short, although EE had a lot of work to do to make good on its promises of a broadband Britain it had lucked into an advantageous position. The upside for the consumer was that the other operators had little choice to pour what resources they could into their networks, in a bid to make sure that when spectrum became available they could catch up. And so Vodafone, flush with cash from exiting its share of Verizon in the USA, diverted significant amounts of its Project Spring resources to the UK, and especially to London. Three made sure it had the best 4G where it could and O2, hamstrung by existing under a debt-laden owner that was priming it for some (any) sort of exit or sale, did its best. The government and operators decided that the same would not happen when it came to 5G. A 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) was established on the grounds of the University of Surrey, with government and private funding, and the support of all four operators as well as a clutch of vendors, software developers and test companies. Kings College London joined up with Ericsson in a co-funded research drive. Successive Chancellors (the UK government post that controls finances) have sworn to commit resources to make the UK a leader in 5G. BT has taken it upon itself to run trials of its copper and fibre infrastructure as a possible fronthaul/ backhaul backbone for 5G. Meanwhile, other structural issues have continued to rumble. The operators are under pressure to make sure that they can provide better rural coverage. The government keeps hinting that perhaps national


“The government and operators decided that the same would not happen when it came to 5G.” roaming — where a Vodafone customer could roam onto EE’s network if they enter a Vodafone notspot — could be the answer. The operators keep replying that such a solution would in fact deter investment in rural networks, and would be costly and complex to implement, and add for further measure that it would be nice to be allowed to build the masts they need to ensure rural coverage without jumping through complex planning hoops. So far, so stalemate, with the likeliest outcome being that the operators will meet coverage obligations eventually, but not soon. Another issue up for grabs relates to fixed/mobile convergence, and the increasing need for mobile operators not to be mere standalone mobile plays. Indeed Vodafone has been agitating for more access to fibre, and pressuring the government to break up BT’s monopoly — albeit with limited success so far. Aside from coverage, the main issue concerning the operators has been finding the ability to meet capacity demands in dense urban and in indoor areas. Vodafone has worked with SpiderCloud, especially, and Huawei

to deploy indoor coverage solutions in large Government and enterprise offices, building on an advantage it has always maintained in the business space. O2 has trialled optimisation and edge-based technology from new, non-traditional vendors such as Cellwize and Vasona Networks. EE too has a densification plan, and has worked with Parallel Wireless on rural solutions and with Gilat and others on satellite based rollouts for rural applications. Not only that but it is committed to enabling at least the future deployment of MEC (Mobile Edge Computing) wherever it makes a hardware upgrade in the network — by embedding at-thebase-station computing power that MEC requires. The operators are also close to an R&D base that is still vibrant and in many cases world-leading (that much over-used word). While many of the multinational vendors retain significant presences in the UK — for example Nokia just made the UK the centre of its cloud managed services capability — there are also a huge number of UK-based developers and vendors aimed at the mobile networking market, ranging from advanced chip and silicon designers to optimisation, planning, orchestration and cloud management vendors. It’s a market that exists in contrast to a mobile operator segment that looks, to the outsider perhaps, to be static, capex-constrained and revenue-hampered.



By May 2016, 97.8% of UK premises were in areas with outdoor 4G coverage...

...with 71.3% benefitting from similar coverage from all four mobile network operators...

>10% ...and fewer than 10% of premises being covered by one or two operators.






EE (BT) 29%






2.6% 2015



02 27% (inc GIFFGAFF)






99.2 % of premises in urban UK areas have outdoor 4G coverage...

... and 79.3% of premises in urban UK areas are covered by all four operators.

88.9% of rural premises have outdoor 4G coverage from at least one operator...

...and just 21% of rural premises have coverage from all four operators.


Mobile has become fundamental to our everyday lives. It has inextricably changed how we communicate, interact, work and play as individuals. It is transforming entire industries, bringing new levels of productivity and efficiency to enterprises. Over three decades, mobile has evolved from an emerging communications technology to a phenomenon that is now at the foundation of everything we do. How can we describe the role of mobile in today’s world?

Elemental. Mobile is revolutionary, dynamic, ever adapting. It’s the force behind every emerging innovation, every forward-thinking enterprise. Join us in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress 2017, where the world comes together to showcase, celebrate and advance mobile.




Learn more at


TMN Quarterly 2016 Issue 16  

Mobile World Congress Dual Edition, Part I.

TMN Quarterly 2016 Issue 16  

Mobile World Congress Dual Edition, Part I.