Last week more than 21,000 visitors from 110 countries and territories attended the 2017 Mobile World Congress Americas in San Francisco. It was the first for MWC in the United States, having recently gone into a partnership with CTIA to up the appeal of the long-time wireless tradeshow. We were introduced to Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF) and discussed the the transition to 5G, IoT and hurricanes with ADRF Chief Operating Officer Arnold Kim.
For our readers who are not familiar with your company, tell us about ADRF?
Advanced RF Technologies (ADRF) is a Top 5 Distributed Antenna System (DAS) provider. We've been operating for more than 18 years and provide in-building wireless connectivity solutions to improve cellular signal and data speeds when there is either a lot of people in one area, or the building infrastructure doesn't allow frequencies to enter unobstructed from the macro network. Our products include DAS, small cells, antennas and passive components.
What industries are adopting your technology?
Every industry needs better connectivity inside of their buildings, so we have clients from many different verticals. We work with all four major carriers (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile) and our products are currently in most of the Fortune 100 company buildings, many high profile sports stadiums, commercial real estate, healthcare, and more. We also do plenty of Public Safety installations.
Device types continue to proliferate - no longer is it a type of mobile phone. How do you advise customers on what types of frequencies and standards to implement?
Most companies have an understanding of what their connectivity needs are. However our approach is to offer flexible and future-proof solutions that will grow with our clients. We try to ensure that our clients will never need to do a full refresh on their investment.
From a connectivity perspective, what are some of the near term challenges for IoT?
The biggest challenges we see regarding the IoT has to do with the sheer volume of devices taking a bandwidth on a network. If you think about a sports stadium and trying to connect 50,000 people, network density quickly becomes a challenge. For large enterprises the number of devices connected and the challenges can be just as large. There's a wide range of devices that will be connected that don't necessarily need a 5G connection. For instance, a connected oil pipe simply needs to send signal that things are working correctly or not. This can be accomplished using a 3G signal, on a low frequency band (which travels more effectively that a 5G signal on a high band might). In areas where the is limited connectivity, this is an important thing to consider.
It’s still early days, but how are you tackling the transition from 4G to 5G?
While the definition of 5G has yet to be settled, we are prepared for it, and those who have our systems in place will be too. Our new ADX V series DAS is modular and works with every type of frequency. When 5G becomes standard, whatever frequency may be adopted by each carrier to run the signal will be compatible with our equipment. At MWC America, we are announcing new Head End and Remote Modules for ADX V to support 600 MHz, the frequency that T-mobile plans to use exclusively for 5G. Not many DAS solutions today support it.
Let’s turn our attention to current events. Hurricane Harvey and the floods it caused in Houston. What role does ADRF play in public safety and how do you support response teams when critical infrastructure comes down?
ADRF performs a lot of public safety installations and we were one of the first companies to be FirstNet compliant. As an example, we recently installed two public safety DAS in the new Atlanta Braves stadium. Dense areas and public venues are mostly required by law to have complete, uninterrupted connection at all times. We provide the systems that allow for that. We have also introduced a series of mobile repeaters that can be implemented in crisis situations as well as outdoor venues where concerts are taking place.
Another example is Hurricane Sandy, a Category 3 major hurricane which affected coastal Mid-Atlantic states in 2012.Verizon deployed CROW (Cellular Repeater on Wheels) help provide interim emergency communications. CROWs are low cost, portable, over the air (which doesn’t requires backhaul) and can be used to provide expanded cellular network coverage or capacity.
What's the most interesting implementation you've done? Why?
We were selected to make the happiest place on earth one of the best connected. Around Disney World parks, we put in a series of repeaters to provide better coverage and let families share their adventures. One of the important parts of the installation, especially in crowded venues where aesthetic is of the utmost importance, is to make sure equipment is concealed and hidden. Locating those areas when thousands of people are walking the entirety of the park every single day was a challenge.
Anything else you’d like to add?
We announced a new high power outdoor modular repeater at Mobile World Congress Americas, and while it’s intended purpose is to improve cellular connection in outdoor areas, it will be beneficial for IoT connectivity as more people become reliant on having these connections everywhere. Our products support every frequency including those that will be used for 5G, and the 3G and 4G that powers IoT connections. The importance of having blanket coverage for IoT cannot be understated, especially as more important devices become connected in the future.
First of all, I will explain the reason for the post title. For those who have not seen the films, I summarize: "A group of four illusionists win year after year to the public with their incredible magic shows and even mocking the FBI.
GSMA is a great illusionist and MWC is their principal magic show. We are invited year after year to visit an event with unique keynote speakers, an enormous list of exhibitors, amazing performances and a great LinkedInplace where we can meet in person some of our social media contacts. What else can we ask for?
I know that it is very ruthless to compare the GSMA with illusionists and the MWC as their greatest magic show, but at least I see quite a few reasonable resemblances, you don´t.
My fears and my wishes for MWC17
If in 2015 I wrote " MWC 2015: Everything Connected, Tapas and Jamon", and I argued as one the reasons to attend MWC was the fact it was celebrated in Barcelona. In 2016, in my post “GSMA need to think how to reinvent MWC” I justify the reasons why the MWC needed to reinvent itself.
One thing has become clear to me after many years attending MWCs, this is the world's biggest phone and mobile networks show, with manufacturers set to unveil a raft of new phone handsets and new technology. However, the GSMA had insisted on introducing more and more distractions like Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Living, Connected Car, AR/ VR, Robots. Maybe the reason is because Telecom operators do not have the DNA to change. Still, many telecom operators take a dim view of some of the aggressive moves being made by these peers, especially when it comes to business models based on commercializing customer data.
“I expected to see less hype and a dose of common sense”
Starting by the announcement of Spain’s Telefonica to introduce a broad plan “4th Platform” to help both consumer and business customers keep greater control over their data rather than giving it away to web giants Google, Facebook and Amazon.
“I expected to see more applications where IoT will become a lot less exciting, but more useful and profitable. The real world.”
But I also feel like Scott Bicheno that “Mobile World Congress is disconnected from reality”.
The Top 5 tricks of illusionism this year
5G, Network Slicing and their associated Business Models
5G will undoubtedly be the next big thing in mobile wireless networks. For Niall Norton: fact, fiction, MWC – and strangers dancing in the dark, the most over-hyped technology or trend this year will be 5G in spite he thinks 5G is still miles away and therefore we have to wait for augmented reality, virtual reality, driverless cars and the like. It is a big ask for investors to keep piling money in.
For Phil Laidler, Network slicing is essentially an extension of policy control, virtualisation, NFV and SDN, and their orchestration; the move towards software-centric, flexible end-to-end networks. At MWC this year he is looking forward to seeing more "proof of concepts" for network-slicing and the associated business models, in addition to any insights into how slicing will work in practice.
Nokia’s big 5G announcement on ‘day 0’ of the event was overshadowed by a large consortium of operators and vendors calling for just the ‘new radio’ part of the 5G standard to be accelerated, despite the fact that it will lack the backhaul, cloud infrastructure, software platforms, etc needed to make the 5G dream viable. If anything highlights the wishful-thinking folly of much of the talk at this year’s show it’s that.
IoT has been a hot topic at MWC for the last few years, but, operators do not succeed with new business models beyond managed connectivity. Strategic alliances with IoT vendors has shown no results yet.
The battle between connectivity technologies remains fierce, cellular IoT Chip Battle Escalates at MWC ARM, Sequans and Altair to compete on NB-IoT solutions, but vendors and operators are now looking for more innovative ways to overcome the problem. This might just be the year of Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN). Although LoRa and Sigfox are currently dominant in the LPWA market, cellular IoT proponents had steal the show.
For example, Telefonica - who is working on NB-IoT with Huawei - recently announced a global partnership with Sigfox. In addition, Nokia launched its worldwide IoT network grid ('WING') a few weeks ago, which it describes as "a 'one-stop-shop', full service model offering seamless IoT connectivity across technologies and geographical borders."
For Operators, the real value from IoT will be created when they can start combining data sets from different areas and different connectivity technologies. For example, smart cities, healthcare or Food & Beverage, retail, transportation and logistics to improve the cold chain supply management processes.
I hope that at MWC18 we will be looking out for examples of operators and vendors developing IoT use-cases that do just that.
“The Internet of Things is in MWC to stay for a few more years, but If your focus is Internet of Things (IoT) then your money probably will have more ROI in other IoT events”
Blockchain has become one of the latest buzz words in telecoms, IT and IoT , thanks to a rapid increase in start-ups using it for new use-cases beyond its original application in financial services. Despite the excitement around blockchain the technology is still poorly understood by many, so operators need to explore the practical applications of blockchain and investigate whether developing these capabilities would be beneficial and understand what will be their role telcos in this field.
Machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robots
Not many people in the Operators and in general in the Telco sector can explain what will be the practical potential of AI and machine learning in this sector. Other industry sectors are starting to apply machine learning models to their business. And as the technology and algorithms become more refined, early adopters expect to see huge cost savings. But at what cost?
I expect to see real use cases for AI, machine learning and Robots to make the eternal promise of Customer Experience happen.
Will Telcos someday use machine learning and AI to learn about customer’s habits so that their services and product features can emulate a human behaviour more accurately?. This is a huge opportunity for both vendors and operators.
The wandering souls network
The first time I visited MWC as CEO of OIES, that is to say, as an independent consultant, I feel like a walking dead. Without a clear agenda, without scheduled meetings. I walk through hundreds of exhibitor booths looking for friend’s faces that can spend a couple of minutes to tell them my history.
The Telco sector (Operators, Large Vendors) and the IT sector is being very cruel with employees over 45 years old. This year I have had the opportunity to spend some time with some of ex-colleagues, friends and also LinkedIn contacts that wanted to tell me their history and asked me for advice about the new “El Dorado world of IoT”.
There is a lot of talent out there. Do not exclude this extraordinary wandering network because you believe they are overqualified and you can not manage them.
See you next year at MWC18
I've been saying the same thing for years when I come exhausted from MWC “No more tricks, no more illusions, this has been my last year". But will be this time the real one. Do I need a sabbatical MWC?.
“Whether you passed 1 day, 3 days or a whole week of your life in the MWC17 illusionism, ask yourself: Was it worth it? “
Now you see me or not @MWC18.
Thanks for your Comments and Likes
This is first part of the article based on several talks I have given on 5G security since last year. In this part I present my views about 5G. On purpose I have avoided discussion on various activities regarding 5G around the globe (3GPP, ITU etc.).
5G is expected to bring several changes in mobile communications system but watch that these changes are not something that will happen couple of years down the road instead they are already happening. First flavor of 5G is expected to be available in 2018 with the complete solution available in the market by 2020. With digitization on its way to touch every part of life, Internet of Things (IOT) will be integral part of 5G from the very beginning; this is unlike 4G where IOT came later.
In the following we will go through some of the key changes 5G is expected to bring. In the next article I will discuss security aspects.
As we move ahead, virtualization technology (network function virtualization or NFV) and software defined network (SDN) for mobile core networks will become mature and actually bring down the cost while achieving the quality requirement. This will lead to the network (core network) being increasingly built of off-the-shelf hardware and open source software, virtualization will become common and cloud based mobile network will become available. It is expected that the network should accommodate multiple radio technologies.
Changes mentioned above (virtualization and cloud) will allow networks to be launched for a specific service, a concept now being termed as network slicing or just slicing - this is what I call as vertical network that fulfill specific requirements in contrast to horizontal networks today that cater for all services. Virtualization and cloud also means that the network will become more open and accessible that will lead to network border going deeper in the network, i.e. instead of network elements as end-point a software module in the server farm will be the end-point and this end-point can migrate to different locations.
Radio Access Technology
Radio access technology will see several improvements with data-rates available from few bits going up to several gigabits, delays going down to micro- if not nano-seconds (compare it with millisecond range in today’s system). Radio access network will also become partially virtualized and cloud based.
Spectrum used for 5G will be different, there have been discussions of higher GHz bands, and thus the radio characteristics will be very different as well. The spectrum will have implications on coverage and behavior of radio access technology.
With the arrival of 5G, we should also expect wider usage of cognitive radio in mobile networks and aggregation with unlicensed band as well as usage of unlicensed band technologies.
Given the variety of scenarios and technologies expected to come in use for 5G, it is worth questioning whether the security credentials should stay the same as today and whether there will be change in technology for storage of credentials. Change in security credentials could have implications on authentication and other security mechanisms.
Storage of security credentials can be seen from both network and device side. From the network side the storage is in terms of location, whether the security credentials are stored at the mobile network domain or at partner domain. Implication is the change in authentication end-point and transfer of session related security credentials to appropriate network functions after completion of authentication.
With regard to security credential storage in devices one can consider three different forms of storage (1) secure hardware environment as we have today in the form of UICC that is commonly known as SIM card, (2) embedded secure hardware environment, e.g. a UICC or similar device is implemented in a modem, this brings us to something like embedded SIM and (3) some form of software.
End devices will see huge transformation together with technology enhancements that we are seeing around us. Already with the arrival of 4G we have seen increased usage of smartphone and over the top (OTT) services. As we move towards 5G we will see increased number of smart “devices” as well as a whole variety of IOT devices associated to a plethora of services, there will be wearables in common use and also virtual or augmented reality (VR or AR) type devices commonly available. Open source devices are available since a while now; we should expect increased usage of such devices as we move towards 5G.
With 5G we should expect mobile devices (all types like smart devices, IOT, VR, AR) to be reachable over Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, i.e. they will be directly connected to the Internet. On the other end of the spectrum there will be devices requiring long battery life (say 10 years) that are expected to work at very low data rates.
Services for VR, AR, IOT, smart devices and many more will appear as 5G will provision a platform that can fulfill variety of requirements. These services will be provisioned by the mobile operator or by a third party with or without business relation with the mobile operator.
Over the top (OTT) services are already there that have the potential of leading to potential cyber-attacks through malware, phishing etc. Sponsored data should be a source of revenue for mobile operators but misuse here leads to operator making financial loss.
We are already seeing change in business model of mobile operators. One such change is in the form of APIs being made available for third parties to launch services over the mobile network.
With 5G in picture we will also see operators getting in partnership with other companies to provision the services. This would mean that the partners would own the subscribers while the operator would be responsible for correct usage of the licensed spectrum.
5G will have much deeper penetration in the society than any of the technologies to-date. This equates to technology being used by savvy users like millennials and also Information and Communication Technology (ICT) illiterates who will leap-frog directly to the new technology. Thus the technology will go to the deepest part of life; not just human beings but animals (e.g. for vital information) and plants (e.g. for watering) will also get connected with IOT.
Photo Credit sayasatria
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