Thursday 28 March 2019

SK Telecom achieves 3.9 Gbps in tests by triple-coupling of 5G, LTE and Wi-Fi

Earlier this month we wrote about how "SK Telecom & Samsung performs 5G EN-DC tests, achieve 2.65 Gbps". We also explained this is mainly because of the large bandwidths available to each of the South Korean operator.

In another news (in Korean only), SK Telecom announced that they have achieved up to 3.9 Gbps by triple connectivity (triple-coupled or triple-aggregation) between 5G, LTE & Wi-Fi

The press release says (using Google translate):

* [5G-LTE-WiFi 3-Step Coupling Technology 'following' 5G-LTE Coupling '] Fastest 4Gbp
* Applied '5G media compression technology' to reduce media data consumption by more than 30%

SK Telecom has completed the key test for mass production of "Galaxy S10 5G" on 25th, followed by 2.7Gbps class 5G + LTE combination technology and "quantum cryptography" network.

For the past two months, SK Telecom has tested thousands of items including '5G Device Test Lab' in Bundang's office building, and interoperability testing between 5G network and smartphone, interface verification, and frequency compatibility at commercial sites. We also made a scenario-specific test by creating more than 100 virtual environments using special equipment in the laboratory.

'5G device test lab' and commercial network performance test is required to be able to launch the smartphone formal. This is why the process is called the final gateway to commercialization. With the completion of the core test, the launch of the world's No. 1 5G smartphone is expected to be smooth.

In the next step, SK Telecom will conduct a delivery inspection this week for mass-produced products produced at factories. The company plans to make its first launch of the 5G smartphone without any problem.

In addition, SK Telecom is preparing to hire a new 5G technology such as '5G Media Compression Technology' to reduce data consumption and 'Galaxy S10 5G'.

"5G-LTE-WiFi 3-stage coupling technology" is followed by "5G-LTE combining technology"

SK Telecom succeeded in verifying '5G-LTE combining technology' that speeds up to 2.7Gbps on November 11, and it was installed first in 'Galaxy S10 5G'.

Furthermore, SK Telecom implemented the "Triple Aggregation", which uses ▲ 5G ▲ LTE ▲ Wi-Fi for data transmission at the same time, in the Galaxy S10 5G, and completed the verification in the 5G commercial network.

The 'three-tier technology' allows users to download content or applications up to 3.9 Gbps in areas where three networks are simultaneously deployed. In just 4 seconds you can get a movie (2GB) on the other hand.

SK Telecom has upgraded Multi-Path TCP (MPTCP), a technology that connects LTE and Wi-Fi, and implemented the '3-step combining technology' preemptively to the Galaxy S10 5G.

Some people are quick to point out the different strategies by different South Korean operators. Dual connectivity means higher speeds but higher latency too while standalone will means lower latency and maybe lower data rates initially.

As we have pointed out, the South Korean operators have already got large amounts of 5G spectrum so speeds will be no issue in long run.

Tuesday 26 March 2019

KDDI and Samsung Strengthen their 5G Partnership

Samsung and KDDI have been working together since 2005. Back in 2015 they signed MOU for joint development of 5G technologies. Since then they have done quite a few joint demonstrations like:

  1. 5G Handover Using 28GHz Spectrum on a City Highway in Tokyo
  2. High-Speed 5G Mobility Test (Video)
  3. Demonstration of 5G on a Train Moving at 100km/hour
  4. 5G field trial held in Okinawa Cellular Stadium using Samsung’s end-to-end 5G solutions

Back in January, both the companies announced couple of other interesting joint trials

Real Time 4K Video Communication Powered by 5G at a Japanese Train Station
Samsung and KDDI Demonstrate Real Time 4K Video Communication Powered by 5G at a Japanese Train Station

Together with Waseda University, Keihin Corporation, and Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR), Samsung demonstrated effective communications through 4K UHD video using a 28GHz band 5G base station to enhance passenger safety in Tokyo.

The demonstration was conducted from November 21 to December 21, 2018 at the Haneda Airport International Terminal in Ota, Tokyo. As the number of incoming visitors is steadily increasing, Samsung and KDDI have been working on the real-world scenario, powered by 5G, to make their travels safer and more convenient.

During the demonstration, the video files collected from both 4K security cameras and security robots patrolling the station were sent via tablets using 5G. Then, the files were received by the base station to be displayed on the monitor and VR goggles in the monitoring room. Moreover, detecting any suspicious people or objects at the station was all possible through collecting and analyzing the received 4K files shown on the server.

Samsung’s 5G solutions were used to conduct the demonstration. KDDI was responsible for assessing and designing the 5G test environment at the train station, which was provided by Keikyu Corporation, while Waseda University provided the monitoring system, VR goggles and video evaluation.

Next-generation technology enhances classroom activities with ultra-high-definition video, providing an immersive educational experience for students

Samsung Electronics and KDDI announced the successful demonstration of their 5G capabilities by working with the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International (ATR) to deploy ultra-fast communications at Maehara Elementary School in Tokyo. For the first time in Japan, 5G was utilized to help students download contents in class using UHD, powered by the infrastructure of next-generation technologies.

The demonstration, made possible by Samsung’s 5G solutions, was conducted from November 21 to December 12, 2018 at the gym inside Maehara Elementary School. In order to showcase 5G capabilities, the gym was set up with Samsung’s 5G network using a 28GHz band to enable transmission of UHD videos in a school setting. The demo involved comparing the difference between 5G tablets and Wi-Fi tablets in their ability to download and play back videos.

During the demonstration, students were given a chance to create their own videos and experience high-speed and large capacity transmission of large video files. In doing so, they verified the capabilities of 5G for this type of use case. KDDI was responsible for assessing and designing the 5G areas used in the trial and ATR provided the testing infrastructure.

Leveraging 5G will enhance various classroom activities and ultimately offer a whole new academic experience to students and teachers. During the Samsung and KDDI demonstration, large UHD videos were transmitted without interruption, despite requiring large amounts of bandwidth. This allowed the children to enjoy a seamless connection while engaging with the contents.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Sky Mobile: Winner of best MVNO

Sky Mobile is a UK MVNO which uses O2’s infrastructure. So wherever O2 has signal, so does Sky Mobile , which currently means 4G coverage for around 99% of the UK population indoors. Since their inception Sky Mobile continues to gain recognition for their innovative strategies and customer service.

Sky Mobile won MVNO of the year in 2018 and once more again this year. 

Some examples of the unique approach that Sky has been adopting with their mobile plans.

Firstly in January of last year it was announced they had saved customers over £20 million worth of data spend due to rolling over the previous month’s unused data.Sky Mobile Roll, it banks unused data for up to three years.

On average Sky Mobile customers were saved from spending on average £100 each topping up data, out of fear of running out before the allotted time.

Sky Mobile customers saved over 2.2 billion gigabytes of mobile data. That is equivalent to streaming over three million hours of TV and movies on a phone, streaming and listening to 440 million songs, or sending over 30 billion instant messages on WhatsApp.

 According to Sky Mobile commercial director Liz Wynn : 
“When we entered the smartphone market we wanted to tackle the issue of unused data and customers paying too much for their allowance. Over 20 million people in the UK were regularly buying more data than they needed to avoid going over their data allowance, and accepted this as the norm. We created Sky Mobile and Roll to challenge this status quo. One year on we can see its working, with our customers already saving £20 million worth of data.”
In addition to this Sky Mobile were recognized for the choice and flexibility of its mobile phone deals, allowing customers to cut costs for things they don't need. Those not needing to make calls or texts from your mobile can save £10 per month by removing them from their plan. If they have no intention of upgrading their phone for a couple of years then they can opt for a Swap 24 tariff for the best prices.

Most recently  Sky Mobile announced a new version of its Watch offer, giving customers unlimited streaming on any Sky app, such as Sky Go, Sky Kids, Sky Sports and Sky Cinema, without using a single MB of their data allowance.

With Watch, Sky customers can stream everything from movies and TV shows to unmissable sports matches live through the Sky apps anywhere in the UK and the EU , without using any data. The new feature builds on the existing Watch offering, where you can download shows to your mobile to watch offline with Sky Go Extra, however this is the first time that you’ll be able to stream wherever you are, on-the-go, without using your data allowance.

Sophia Ahmad, Director of Sky Mobile states: 

 “We launched Sky Mobile to connect our customers to more of what they love. Streaming films and TV shows on-the-go is now one of the most popular ways to pass time while travelling or commuting – and our new Watch offer makes it easier for our customers to stay up to date with the unmissable must-watch television, from Game of Thrones to F1 races, that we know our customers love.”
Sky Mobile also allows customers to use as much of their data as they want for tethering, using their mobile data to get other devices online.

Some criticisms of Sky Mobile have also been made, for example it feels mostly built for Sky TV customers, giving them a huge saving on calls and texts if they subscribe to both.

However, it’s worth considering even if people get their entertainment elsewhere, being able to roll over an unlimited amount of data is a big selling point that few networks can match. 

Being able to change your plan every month also makes Sky Mobile very flexible, however a lack of plans, fairly low data limits and no inclusive roaming beyond Europe holds it back, as does being on O2, as that network currently can’t match the speed of rivals.

Sunday 17 March 2019

SK Telecom & Samsung performs 5G EN-DC tests, achieve 2.65 Gbps

South Korean MNO SK Telecom and Samsung Electronics has announced that they have successfully completed the network device interoperability test applying Dual Connectivity technology using both 4G and 5G networks provided by Samsung’s Networks Business, a.k.a. ‘E-UTRAN New Radio Dual Connectivity (EN-DC)’ based on the 3GPP Release-15 5G New Radio (NR) standard.

Before proceeding further, if you are not aware of different 5G Network Architecture Options (including EN-DC), you may want to check out our tutorial on 3G4G page here.

According to the Samsung press release:

During the test, both companies have successfully achieved 2.65Gbps in data speeds on the 5G smartphone, combining both 1.5Gbps in 5G using 3.5GHz frequency (100MHz bandwidth) with 1.15Gbps in LTE using 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz, and 2.6GHz frequencies (65MHz bandwidth) all of which are for commercial use by SK Telecom.

The test, carried out at Samsung Electronics located in Suwon, Korea, used Samsung’s commercial 4G and 5G NR end-to-end networks solutions which have been provided to the operator’s current service. In addition, companies used Samsung’s virtual core (vCore) that supports simultaneous 4G and 5G as well as its Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung’s first 5G smartphone which was unveiled last month.

SK Telecom, in particular, will be able to boost the overall transmission data speed by 80% by leveraging the 4G and 5G dual connectivity. It will allow users who are staying in the 5G service coverage to download UHD videos of 2GB in just 6 seconds, and large video content such as 4K VR video of 10GB in less than 30 seconds.

The two companies demonstrated the delivery of multi-gigabit speeds for 5G device, with a focus on seamless user experiences. Wherever mobile service subscribers are without being limited to 4G or 5G service areas, they can expect seamless, consistent, and stable mobile services. In the early stages of 5G era, the combined capabilities of 4G and 5G networks are important forces for mobile carriers to maximize the characteristics of the 5G network – ultra-fast speed, low-latency, and massive-connectivity by leveraging widely deployed 4G network coverage.

The success of the demonstration by SK Telecom and Samsung signifies a blueprint of early 5G deployment, spotlighting a rapid, stable and effective path to 5G service using a dual 4G and 5G approach.

This success is part of an ongoing collaboration between SK Telecom and Samsung of many years. Pushing forward early 5G commercialization, the companies have succeeded in the world’s first 4G and 5G interworking back in 2017 and world’s first 5G Next-Generation Core (5G NC) trial in June 2018, which featured control and user planes separation and VNFs implementation based on 3GPP release 15 standard. These joint forces have led Samsung to become a major partner for SK Telecom to successfully launch 5G mobility commercial service in Korea, December 1st 2018.

Related posts:

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Current IMT Spectrum Allocation in Japan

The chart below shows the current spectrum allocation in Japan (source)

As can be seen, Softbank has the maximum spectrum, 250 MHz followed by NTT Docomo and KDDI with 240 MHz each. Newcomer Rakuten has 2x20 or 40 MHz abailable in Band 3 (1800 MHz).

New spectrum for 5G has not yet been auctioned but will happen this year. It was expected to be auctioned last year. Below slide shows the spectrum under consideration.

Related posts:

Monday 11 March 2019

Current IMT Spectrum Allocation in South Korea

The slide below summarises the IMT spectrum allocation before 5G (source presentation)

On 1st Dec 2018, all three operators launched commercial 5G networks simultaneously. The plan was to have nationwide commercial 5G services available for everyone by March 2019 but this date has just been postponed. According to Mobile World Live:

The news outlet cited a number of setbacks as hindering SK Telecom, KT and LG UPlus’ target. Handset availability is presumed to be the main factor in the delay, but the government has also rejected proposed 5G pricing plans submitted by operators.

“Commercialisation of 5G is possible when various factors such as network, smartphones and service are ready”, the country’s Ministry of Science and ICT said in a statement.

While it did not commit to an alternative date for consumer service launch, the ministry said it is coordinating with SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus, along with device makers Samsung and LG Electronics on the matter, the news agency reported.

5G Spectrum has already been auctioned in South Korea with each operator winning 800 MHz in 28 GHz band (high throughput layer) and in C-band (capacity layer), LGU+ received 80 MHz in 3.4 GHz band, KT received 100 MHz in 3.5 GHz band while SK Telecom received 100 MHz in 3.6 GHz band.

All operators are ideally placed with regards to spectrum to role the best possible commercial 5G services there can be. We will just have to wait a bit longer but will happen in 2019 for sure.

Friday 8 March 2019

Rakuten Japan: Transitioning from MVNO to MNO later in 2019

Rakuten is a Japanese giant with a turnover of over $139 billion last year. Along with all the other e-commerce and internet business, it is also an MVNO.

According to Smart Karma:

In the latest data, MVNOs (mobile virtual network operators) have reached 7.0% market share of Japan’s main 3G and LTE (4G) services with over 12m subscribers. Government support remains robust for the MVNOs. Mr. Suga, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, has suggested that MVNOs, in all forms, should expand to 50% of the market in the future. 

As Rakuten prepares for its full MNO (mobile network operator) service launch later this year, the Rakuten MVNO services continues to execute well, taking market share and building a formidable foundation of subscribers. Rakuten is now Japan’s largest MVNO by customer numbers. We expect Rakuten will struggle to make a reasonable return on its MNO on a standalone basis, but it may strengthen the company’s overall ecosystem and create enough synergies to add positive value to the group.

Back in January, Rakuten Blog talked about building the world's first end-to-end cloud-native mobile network:

During Rakuten Technology Conference 2018 in Tokyo last October, Rakuten Mobile Network Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Tareq Amin explained for the first time the revolutionary approach that his team is taking to build Japan’s fourth major network.

Since 2014, consumers in Japan have enjoyed affordable mobile phone service through Rakuten Mobile. The service has grown to become Japan’s biggest MVNO (mobile virtual network operator), enjoying particular success attracting young people with its low fees and appealing loyalty point incentives. As an MVNO, however, Rakuten Mobile utilizes the infrastructure of other major network carriers to deliver its service – limiting its ability to launch technical innovation and provide new services to customers.

As the new mobile network will be required to provide coverage across the entire country, Rakuten has mobilized partners and its employee base to rapidly secure sites to build out the radio access network, as well as signing an agreement with KDDI Corporation to provide roaming services during its own infrastructure construction period. Nevertheless, there has been speculation about the ambitious schedule and budget Rakuten has proposed for rolling out its plans.

“How could you do this? It is not possible to build a network in only 12 months without a significant capex investment,” posed Amin during his presentation. “It is possible because we are deploying a very different architecture and leveraging Rakuten IT skills as a leading tech company.”

Rakuten has also been making headlines in Japan with its forays into 5G innovation, in partnership with firms such as Nokia, Altiostar, Cisco, Mavenir, Intel, Qualcomm, Quanta and NEC. According to Amin, deploying “true” 5G is an integral part of Rakuten’s mobile journey.

“What does 5G transformation for Rakuten really look like?” Amin asked the audience at the Conference. “If you look at any traditional operator, both inside and outside of Japan, it’s actually a very unnatural process to upgrade to 5G. They have to completely virtualize their infrastructure, they have to deploy new core architecture, they have to deploy new radio access. In Rakuten’s world, the entire core technology, including our Radio Access Network, is fully ready for 5G.”

The fact that Rakuten, unlike existing telecommunication companies, has no outdated and legacy infrastructure to maintain is a significant advantage. “We don’t have to worry about building and transforming our network from 3G or 4G to 5G. From day zero, Rakuten network is 5G ready.

At the same time, Amin doesn’t consider the 5G services that other telcos are launching to be “true” 5G. “If you truly want to offer functionalities and capabilities like network slicing into this new architecture, you must deploy standalone 5G core, which Rakuten is doing.”

This is a very bold vision but is supported by many different legacy and new vendors bringing lot of experience and innovation into the whole process. The following video from Cisco is showing how the experience and innovation is working together at Rauten

Telecom TV points out:

As if a brand new cloud-native 5G-ready network wasn’t sufficiently exciting on its own, there’s another key angle to the Rakuten story. What makes it different is that the company has a strong services and applications heritage (over 70 services to date, in use by over 100 million registered members). This is not a mobile network operator that will then create and launch applications – this is an established services and apps company that is launching a mobile network. It’s an important distinction, and one which could – if successful – lead to other similar new entrants and business models in the decade ahead.

The RAN will initially be 4G and Wi-Fi, with the addition of 5G planned for early 2020, subject to government licensing approval. As well as consumer mobile, Rakuten also plans to offer 5G FWA and NB-IoT.

The Mobile Network has a lot of insights on the Rakuten Network here and here.
  • The virtual radio access network for Rakuten’s brand new mobile network in Japan will be provided by Altiostar. The vRAN company, which has just taken a strategic investment from the operator, will provide all the virtual Central and Distributed units (vCUs, vDUs) within the RAN.
  • Nokia mentions its  role as “Turnkey” deployment partner. It says it will provide deployment and integration of the new radio network leveraging a ‘zero footprint’ site approach with remote radio heads connected to cloud RAN software on the edge cloud. That cloud RAN software, we know now, will be Altiostar’s. Nokia will be providing its AirScale RRHs as well as some vIMS functions and its AirGile core.
  • Nokia is supplying the remote radio units, bolting these on via a specially designed coupling to antennas from Korean antenna supplier KMW Communications.
  • Intel’s release confirmed the RAN-core software providers, stating, “The Rakuten network uses a virtualised radio access network running on Intel Xeon processor-based servers from Quanta, support radio access technology from Altiostar and core network software from Cisco, providing a network that is fully virtualised from RAN to core.”
  • Cisco is the cloud core and NFVi provider. The hardware, which comes in just four server variants, is all from Taiwanese provider Quanta Cloud Technology

Here is an official video from Rakuten on their mobile network strategy and details of launch plans

Finally, I caught up with my ex-colleague and a big supporter of 3G4G blogs, Rahul Atri at the Rakuten booth. I had to add his picture here 😉

Related reading on this topic:

Further Reading:

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Current IMT Spectrum Allocation in China

A nice slide summarising IMT spectrum allocation in China can be seen below.

Presentation Source

According to Mobile World Live back in December,

China’s government allocated 5G spectrum in the mid-band frequency range to the three state-owned mobile operators, preparing the way for large-scale network testing in 2019 and the launch of commercial 5G services in 2020, China Daily reported.

Both China Telecom and China Unicom received 100MHz in the 3.5MHz band (also known as the C-band), while market leader China Mobile obtained 260MHz of spectrum in the 2.6GHz and 4.8GHz bands, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology revealed.

Friday 1 March 2019

China Unicom connects a remote village Duogai in Qinghai Province for #CaseForChange

The Qinghai Province of China is vast and daily life is defined by struggles like extreme isolation, widespread poverty and harsh climate. In the remote village Duogai, winters can last up to 8 months, and many young children at the local boarding school only see their parents twice a year.
Getting an area so inaccessible onto the digital map seems like an impossible task. In 2017, China Unicom rose to the challenge and, despite the countless problems caused by the punishing weather, successfully installed 17.5km of optical cable and constructed multiple base stations.

Xuemei Sun bravely accepts #CaseForChange’s mission to visit the school in Duogai and learn how life has changed for the teachers and students there and experiences first hand just how severe Qinghai’s climate can be. Video below.

More details here.