Editors note: This week we’ll take a look back at the 50 stories that drew the highest level of engagement from our RCR Wireless News community. 

Hans Vestberg on transition to Verizon and the next five years

After serving for six years as the CEO of network infrastructure giant Ericsson, in April Hans Vestberg joined Verizon as CTO EVP and President of Global Networks. In the company’s recurring podcast Up to Speed, Vestberg discusses his transition from the vendor side to the operator side, and looked ahead at opportunities for telecommunications in the next five years.

“Always changing a company is exciting. You’re motivated and energized,” he said.  “I’ve been going around the world during probably 15 years talking to operators and telling them what to do and how to use technology, and now I’m sitting on the other side and I actually need to implement it. It seemed a little bit easier maybe to give consultatory advice than basically do it yourself. On the other hand, I have to say it has been a great experience to come into Verizon.”

He commented on the broad trend of operators becoming more broad technology companies: ” think that what we see is an inflection point for the whole industry. I think that connectivity is of course an enormously important piece of anything you want to do. But we also see that carriers all around the world are taking very different routes.” Some focus on just connectivity, other add platforms to their connectivity and others bring end user applications into the mix.

“Verizon has taken their decision and we have decided we’re not only in connectivity, we’re doing platforms and in certain areas” and addressing opportunities around things like media and telematics. “You’re going to see these iterations of carriers all around the world where they want to play in the next generation where the inflection point is coming and you’re competing different. Connectivity is needed for anything. anything that benefits from being connected in the future will be connected and that creates opportunity. Where do we find our competitive advantages?”

How Does MPLS Routing Work?

What does MPLS stand for? MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching.

What is MPLS? It is a mechanism for routing traffic within a telecommunications network, as data travels from one network node to the next. MPLS can provide applications including VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), traffic engineering (TE) and Quality of Service (QoS).

How does MPLS work? In MPLS, packets are directed through the network based on  an assigned label. The label is associated with a predetermined path through the network, which allows a higher level of control than in packet-switched networks. MPLS routing allow differing Qos characteristics and priorities to be assigned to particular data flows, and operators can predetermine fallback paths in the event that traffic must be rerouted.

With pure IP (Internet Protocol) routing in a packet-switched network, each data packet could determine its own path through the network – which was a dynamic flow, but not predictable. However, it was very cost effective.

In previous circuit-switched telecom networks, physical wires and T1 lines carried data and voice traffic. That provided predictable routes, but was very expensive and difficult to scale because of the need to put in extensive infrastructure. Click here for more on MPLS routing. 

Cloud computing 101

Tech companies have been storing data and running programs on local hard drives for decades. But cloud computing, a less expensive, more scalable way of storing and analyzing data, has taken center stage in recent years. It is a key element providing the necessary platform for enabling the “internet of things.”

According to IBM, cloud computing is the delivery of on-demand computing resources – everything from applications to data centers – over the internet on a pay-for-use basis. Amazon and Microsoft, leading cloud providers, offer a similar definition.

This means that cloud computing uses the internet instead of your computer’s hard drive to access remote servers and processors that perform intensive compute and storage tasks over the internet.

Click here to get a better understanding of cloud models including infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, software as a service and more.

Verizon starts nationwide LAA deployment

Verizon Wireless is ready to start rolling out license-assisted access technology nationwide. Following a demonstration that delivered 953 megabits per second with commercial network equipment, the carrier’s VP of network support, Mike Haberman, said Verizon will be installing LAA* radios at select cell sites around the U.S.

“You’re going to see these pop up all across the country,” Haberman said. He said Verizon’s regional teams will be upgrading cell sites over the next several months according to their own timetables. Haberman noted that LAA cannot be implemented via software, but instead requires the addition of new radios to the cell sites. The radio used in Verizon’s recent demonstration was Ericsson’s micro Radio 2205 for LAA, an LTE radio that operates in the unlicensed 5 GHz band.

Verizon is aggregating three 5 GHz channels with one 20 megahertz channel of AWS spectrum. To reach the 953 Mbps achieved in its recent demonstration, Verizon combined four carrier aggregation with 4X4 MIMO* and 256 QAM.** Haberman said that some cell sites will get 4×4 MIMO and LAA at the same time, and that these site upgrades may also include the refarming of some 3G spectrum for LTE. He said Verizon’s 4×4 MIMO deployments include antennas from several vendors, and often use remote electrical tilts and other antenna-optimizing equipment. 4X4 MIMO antennas are already being deployed throughout Verizon’s network, and software upgrades to implement 256 QAM are starting this month.

LTE PCI planning for pesky neighbors

While there are challenges associated with building any new wireless network, constructing the Long Term Evolution (LTE) network comes with a bushel of its own issues.One of these challenges is managing neighbor cells. This is a tough task even for traditional mobile networks, and it becomes even harder as new mobile technologies roll out with 2G and 3G cells already exist. These neighbor cells are firmly in place and not going anywhere. LTE must find a way to deal with the cells, properly, without making the network and/or user suffer.

To help address this, and to stay in line with 3GPP specifications, network operators are turning to Automatic Neighbour Relation (ANR) functionality. ANR relieves the burden of manually managing Neighbor Relations (NR). According to LteWorld, the ANR function lives in the eNB and manages the Neighbour Relation Table (NRT). Within this table are many facets and branches that help deal with these neighbor cells.

The neighbour detection function is responsible for finding new neighbours and adding them to the NRT. The Neighbour Removal Function removes NRs. Both the Neighbour Detection Function and the Neighbour Removal Function are implementation specific.

An existing Neighbour cell Relation (NR) from a source cell to a target cell means that eNB controlling the source cell knows the ECGI/CGI and Physical Cell Identifier (PCI) of the target cell and has an entry in the NRT for the source cell identifying the target cell. Click here for more. 

Massive MIMO is seen as a key technology to delivering mobile 5G

Massive multiple-input, multiple-output, or massive MIMO, is an extension of MIMO, which essentially groups together antennas at the transmitter and receiver to provide better throughput and better spectrum efficiency. This method’s ability to multiply the capacity of the antenna links has made it an essential element of wireless standards including 802.11n (Wi-FI), 802.11ac (Wi-Fi), HSPA+, WiMAX and LTE.

Moving from MIMO to massive MIMO, according to IEEE, involves making “a clean break with current practice through the use of a large excess of service antennas over active terminals and time-division duplex operation. Extra antennas help by focusing energy into ever smaller regions of space to bring huge improvements in throughput and radiated energy efficiency.” The group calls out other benefits including cheaper parts, lower latency, “simplification of the MAC layer, and robustness against intentional jamming.”

Sprint, along with vendor partner Nokia, made a splash at Mobile World Congress earlier this year with a massive MIMO demonstration that pushed multi-gigabit speeds over an LTE network. But, news aside, Sprint CTO John Saw and COO of Technology Günther Ottendorfer tried out a few analogies to explain the concept of massive MIMO, which, in this case, refers to an 128-antenna array in a 64-transmit/64-receive configuration.

“You have 128 ears to listen,” he said. “You used to have one ear – 128 ears in a sector where there are probably eight or 16 users at the same time.” Ottendorfer took another swing with, “It’s like you have 128, how you call the things, megaphones,” he said. “The theoretical concept of these antennas has been around for a long time but the computing power wasn’t there. We are very happy that we have so much spectrum that we can grow into that spectrum and massive MIMO is one of the things that will help us,” Ottendorfer added. In this case, the goal is to deploy using Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum assets, which he said provide good quality and coverage. “To really make it work in a mobile environment, you really need 2.5 GHz.”

Verizon creates new company called Oath encompassing AOL and Yahoo

Verizon Communications merged its AOL and Yahoo divisions into a new media company called Oath. AOL CEO Tim Armstrong shared the news on Twitter after a  published report disclosed the name of the new company late Monday afternoon.

Together, AOL and Yahoo own a number of prominent brands, including The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, Tumblr, Flickr and MovieFone. As Armstrong pointed out on Twitter, these and other future Oath brands engage more than 1 billion consumers worldwide.

Verizon has made it clear it sees ownership of content as the way to leverage its networks in the U.S. and tap markets outside the country where it does not own spectrum. In addition to the two media acquisitions that will create Oath, Verizon has purchased a 24.5% stake in AwesomenessTV, which is controlled by DreamWorks, and has invested in its Go90 mobile video service that streams original content, including the popular teen drama “Guidance.” So far, Go90 has fallen short of Verizon’s expectations, but the company apparently remains completely committed to the mobile app. Verizon has not said yet whether Go90 will become part of Oath.

Master LTE with the help of an LTE network diagram

Long Term Evolution (LTE) is a complex technology, and most of could use a hand understanding it. This can be helped with LTE Network Diagrams. But first, we need to establish a general definition of this new, vivacious network and its architecture. In order to provide today’s users with that fast connections, LTE  relies on radio access and employs non-radio aspects with System Architecture Evolution (SAE), which includes the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network. In Alcatel Lucent’s strategic white paper The LTE Network Architecture: A comprehensive tutorial, authors Sudeep Palat and Phillip Godin explain how together, LTE and SEA comprise the EPS.

EPS relies heavily on bearers. The EPS uses these bearers to route IP traffic from a gateway in the pocket data network (PDN) to the user equipment (UE). A bearer is an IP packet flow with a defined quality of service (QoS) between the gateway and the UE. These bearers allow Internet access. They also run services such as Voice over IP (VoIP), and are often associated with a QoS.

“Multiple bearers can be established for a user in order to provide different QoS streams or connectivity to different PDNs. For example, a user might be engaged in a VoIP call while at the same time performing web browsing or FTP download.” To protect the network, the EPS network utilized its elements that have different roles. Click here for more. 

GWS: AT&T had all the best numbers from the inauguration

Although the size of the crowd at President Donald Trump’s inauguration continues to be a source of contention between the new president and the press, testing by Global Wireless Solutions at least showed some definitive numbers for the cellular network support of the crowd. The benchmarking firm concluded that A&T Mobility’s coverage at the National Mall and along the inaugural parade route was the best.

“People attending the inauguration were sharing their own experience by posting pictures, videos or simply talking to friends and families,” said Paul Carter, CEO of GWS, in a statement. “Providing fast and reliable wireless service was a challenge for the mobile operators given that thousands of users were on their phones in the same area at virtually the same time. In order to meet this unusual demand in service, the operators had to go the extra mile to prepare and bolster their networks, and our tests showed that for the most part this challenge was met.” Carter also described the inauguration as “perhaps the most significant political and social event experienced online.”

GWS said AT&T Mobility ranked first in all of its OneScore metrics, including overall reliability for both voice and data, overall packet data speed and reliability and social media tasks. Verizon Wireless placed second overall, followed by T-Mobile US and Sprint. On the National Mall, GWS reported, AT&T Mobility’s throughput was, on average, double or more that of its competitors. Sprint, meanwhile, failed more than four out of every 10 task attempts and T-Mobile US also had very low levels of task success, GWS said.

However, GWS also noted “as the focus moved from Mall to the parade route (along Pennsylvania Avenue), the performance variations tightened across the operators and T-Mobile and Sprint significantly improved their overall performance. In fact, T-Mobile ranked first in the GWS OneScore rankings for the post-inauguration parade.”

AT&T wins FirstNet network contract

Back in March, AT&T was officially selected as the commercial partner that will build and maintain a nationwide public safety LTE network for the First Responders Network Authority.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson joined federal officials as the news was announced Thursday morning and told the crowd that starting this fall, AT&T will be spending $40 billion of its own money on the FirstNet network – in addition to the $6.5 billion that it will receive from FirstNet for the build. AT&T spends about $20 billion per year on network capital expenditures ($22.4 billion in capex in 2016, according to its annual report); a press release from FirstNet clarified that A&T will spend the $40 billion “over the life” of the 25-year contract.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the public-private partnership is expected to create 10,000 jobs in the first two years of the contract and the FirstNet network “will change an untenable status quo by providing first responders with the tools they need to keep us safe. Today is a landmark day for public safety.”



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