Aguas de Valencia is a company that manages the complete water cycle with headquarters in the province of Valencia. They manage over 1 million meters, including more than 600,000 automated meter reading devices. Communication is essential, and technology allows them to read meters 24 times a day.
In partnership with Vodafone a trial was conducted using NarrowBand IoT technology. This allowed Aguas de Valencia to implement meter reading solutions without having to install their own communications infrastructure.
The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona is the place where you meet everyone in the business of Mobile, in IoT and increasingly also other businesses that see the need to be part of the digital infrastructure transformation. Ten startups from EIT Digital Business Communities, and the one of Future Networking Solutions in particular, were represented in the IoT Pavilion.
Things are moving at blistering speed in the world of next-generation 5G mobile communications—even though many mobile users have still or only recently upgraded to 4G LTE communications, and even while 4G continues to evolve.
Nevertheless, four of the telecom industry’s big hitters—Japan’s NTT Docomo, South Korea’s KT and SK Telecom, and Verizon in the United States—are not waiting for stragglers to catch up. Yesterday, at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the carriers unveiled a plan to form the 5G Open Trial Specification Alliance with the aim of driving the technology forward. Meanwhile, Docomo and Sweden’s Ericsson announced that they achieved a cumulative 20-gigabit-per-second transmission speed with two connected 5G terminals in outdoor trials.
The four-party alliance seeks to hammer out agreements on technical fundamentals resulting from the companies’ individual 5G trials. They would then use their collective muscle to have the agreed upon specs “serve as a common, extendable platform for different 5G trial activity around the world,” as the announcement put it.
“In particular, we want to decide which 5G spectrum bands to use in a global industry,” Yoshihisa Kishiyama, Senior Research Engineer at Docomo’s 5G Laboratory, told IEEE Spectrum. “And we want to finalize 5G specifications by the end of 2018.”
If successful, this would help create standards for network equipment makers to follow, bringing the advent of fifth generation communications ever closer. Docomo, for one, has publicly committed itself to having 5G service up and running in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
As outlined by the International Telecommunications Union, 5G promises “a seamlessly connected society in the 2020 timeframe and beyond that brings together people along with things, data, applications, transport systems, and cities in a smart networked communications environment.”
To achieve all this, Docomo noted in a July 2014 White Paper, 5G would require data rates 100 times higher than today’s wireless networks offer, plus a reduction in latency to 1 millisecond, a 1,000-times increase in systems capacity, as well as a reduction in energy consumption. And with the coming avalanche of Internet-of-Things devices that will be continuously connected to cloud services, Docomo is targeting “a 100-fold increase in the number of simultaneously connected users compared to 4G LTE.”
It’s expected that 5G will need to utilize higher frequency spectrums ranging from 6 to 66 gigahertz. This would take it into the millimeter-wave band, which will enable multi-beam multiplexing and massive multi-input-output (MIMO) technologies.
So rather than broadcasting signals from a base station in all directions, individual signals can be transferred between individual terminals and a base station as required—and in crowded hot spots by means of a cluster of smaller antennas. This scenario should eliminate interference from nearby terminals and slowdowns in data speeds. It’s also expected to make better use of signal power and more efficient use of bandwidth.
In a trial last Sunday outside Docomo’s R&D Center in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo, this multi-beam MIMO technology was used to transmit data with a cumulative 20-Gbps throughput. Docomo and Ericsson engineers set up four mini base-stations, each equipped with 64 antenna elements, to create one super-sensitive base station. Two Ericsson 5G prototype terminals, located 9 meters and 3 meters respectively from the base station were each able to simultaneously download over 10 Gbps over a 15-GHz wireless band.
In a separate trial on the same day, the companies successfully transmitted data at 10 Gbps over a distance of 70 meters from the base station and then at 9 Gbps over a distance of 120 meters.
“Our target [upon commercialization] is to achieve several gigabits per second in 2020 and over 10 gigabits per second after that,” says Kishiyama. He added that Docomo hopes to see the arrival of new 5G applications “earlier than 2020, so as to promote 5G before then.” But he would not say what these applications might be.
As demand for video and next-generation services increases, content needs to live one hop from the end user
Global telecommunications networks are fundamentally changing to keep up with consumer demand for mobile data. Information centric networking or ICN, which envisions bringing content servers closer to the network edge among other architectural changes, could be a key piece for realizing the full potential of “5G” mobile networks of the future.
“Information centric networking is a network where the information itself is identified,” Dirk Trossen(principal engineer for InterDigital Europe) explained.
“Instead of sending a packet from an IP address … you’re publishing information with a name, with a label attached to it. You’re streaming information. The actual information is at the center.”
Trossen gave the example of large scale content providers like Amazon.com or Netflix. These companies use content delivery networks to deliver content into an operator network and, from there, on to many individual end users — each person accessing a particular movie or TV show receives their own individual stream of information.
That model is inefficient, problematic and unsustainable, Trossen said.
“The problem in today’s network is a proliferation of … personalized viewing,” Trossen said. “People want to watch their Netflix video whenever they want. They pause, they go back, it’s not synchronized. It’s not a cable TV-type experience where you’re scheduled at 7:30 to watch the movie. It’s individualized viewing.”
Currently, service providers address this challenge by over provisioning — simply making data pipes bigger. Trossen said, when you consider the demands 5G will create, that over provisioning is not a long-term or cost-effective solution.
Trossen gave an example of a potential 5G network model. The app economy is on top of an API-driven programmable core network with network functions virtualization and software-defined networking functionality. Below is a core IP transport network with integrated fronthaul and backhaul. Then the wireless access interface connects to 5G-enabled devices and things.
So what’s the catalyst that will prompt carriers, over-the-top players and other service providers to embrace this new network?
Trossen said 5G services — the tactile Internet and augmented/virtual reality for instance — require a significant decrease in latency as compared to current LTE networks. That will be a “key driver,” he said.
Another component is the need to stop end-to-end unicast delivery of content. More geographically distributed servers are needed to bring content closer to the end user, essentially “one hop away from a user.”
“For content providers,” Trossen said, “any way to disseminate content cheaper is a good thing. That seems to be a very straightforward win for OTT content providers. Also, the ability to reach end users easier. It improves quality of experience and therefore makes the service more attractive.”
Los Angeles is the world’s first city to deploy Philips’ SmartPole street lighting with fully built in 4G LTE wireless technology from Ericsson. The collaboration between Philips and Ericsson delivers on the latest Internet of Things (IoT) innovation and provides a double benefit to LA citizens: high quality, public lighting that is energy efficient, as well as improved network performance in dense urban areas.
“The humble, analog light pole has evolved and we made it happen first, right here in Los Angeles,” said Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles. “LA is a world leader in LEDs street lights and has more street lights and poles than any other city in America, with about 6,500 centerline miles of streets. We are now leveraging that previously untapped real estate to give our streets cleaner visibility, better broadband connectivity, and future-ready infrastructure. This implementation, which we’ve only just started, is a prime example of what a focus on smart infrastructure, and creative public-private partnerships can achieve.”
With cellular data traffic expected to grow 9 times by 2020, according to the Ericsson Mobility Report, and current telecoms infrastructure struggling to respond to this demand, Philips SmartPoles are enabling seamless mobile wireless 4G/LTE connectivity, with the small cell technology from Ericsson housed in the poles to enable increased data capacity in the telecoms network. The poles were specifically designed and tested to accept FCC licensed wireless mobile network operator equipment. This enables an alternative deployment methodology of 4G LTE broadband services.
Arun Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Business Unit Radio, Ericsson, said: “LA will be a role model for other smart cities that place sustainability and connectivity high on their agenda. As citizens, businesses and industries transform through mobility, cities have an increasingly important role to play as eco-system partners enabling the next wave of innovations that will bring us to 5G in 2020. Innovative solutions like SmartPole and Ericsson Zero Site that efficiently improve the performance of mobile networks will be necessary to address the growing demand from both smartphone users and the Internet of Things.”
For cellular phone operators, this innovation can offer them new possibilities to find the right site location. It also helps scale mobile wireless 4G/LTE infrastructure deployment beyond traditional sites. As a result operators can improve data coverage and capacity for citizens so there are no more signal dropouts.
Amy Huntington, President of Philips Lighting Americas said: “This SmartPole technology proves its role as the backbone of an outdoor Internet of Things platform capable of delivering new services and value and fully supports Mayor Garcetti’s Great Streets program by taking LED street lighting and turning it into a services hub that can adapt to the changing needs of a particular neighborhood over time.”