Thursday, April 29, 2010

Femtocell : Devices on offer and Companies

Texas Instruments Incorporated had recently announced a new family of DSPs (TCI series) with a view of enabling the upcoming femtocell compliant device manufacturers as well as the service providers to cut the development time and bring their products to market faster. TI has announced a full set of analog solutions as well. Software reference designs are available which provide customers with all references required for Layer 1, 2 and 3 wireless protocol processing.

picoChip was one of the the first companies in the world to offer a femtocell modem. picoChip claims to have the industry's broadest portfolio of femtocell solutions. They have a family of Socs (PC3xx) all aimed at femtocell configurations in one form or other.

Percello is another company that offers integrated, low-cost digital baseband processors for WCDMA and LTE Femtocells. Percello provides many customized solutions that reduce the design challenges of Femtocell equipment vendors in the market.

DesignArt’s DAN2xxx series of SoCs provide a platform specifically targeted at WiMAX femtocell and repeater designs. These are optimized for low-cost, high performance indoor access point applications. The key features include high level of functional integration, complete PHY and MAC baseband solution, control plane, networking and home gateway application processing.

Analog Devices offers a 3G integrated Radio transceiver aimed at offering high-performance 3G femtocell solutions. Another offering is a from the MxFE family of integrated converters for the communications market. Analog devices claim that the device is ideally suited for low-cost, high-performance femtocell applications.AD also has a range of devices including accurate clock references, RF amplifiers and an evaluation board too.

There are several other companies like Qualcomm Inc. and Runcom Technologies Ltd who are working on the dvelopment of a femto-chip.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HSPA, HSDPA, HSUPA: confused?

How often have we been into this situation? We step into a mobile phone store and you are bombarded with features and tech jargon. The moment we decide to step into 3G enabled world these terms are thrown at us.. HSPA, HSDPA, HSUPA.. What do they really mean and how are they really related?

Evolution of Mobile Broadband
One of the most important features of a 3G mobile service is the high speed data access. As the market expands, requirement also increases, thereby bringing in the necessity for new standards. Most of the data access traffic is downlink oriented or just like in an internet access biased towards the end user. Improving this will result in a better user experience.

HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) is a 3G mobile communications protocol in which the networks can offer higher data transfer speeds and capacity. Currently HSDPA deployments support down-link speeds of 1.8, 3.6, 7.2 and 14.0 Mbit/s. Its true that most of the traffic is downlink oriented, still,there are a few applications that will benefit from an improved uplink. Typical examples are large pictures, movies etc. The 3G service which provides an enhanced uplink is the HSUPA (High-Speed Uplink Packet Access). So whats HSPA then? HSDPA and Enhanced Uplink are together known as High Speed Packet Access (HSPA)! Another term you might encounter in the near future is HSPA+ (also called Evolved HSPA). This is an upcoming wireless broadband standard which is expected to provide data rates up to 42 Mbps in the downlink and 11 Mbps in the uplink. A post on HSPA+ is already there in this blog.

So be armed with the knowledge next time you step into a phone store!!!!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

3GPP release 10: What to expect

Releases 8 and 9 of 3GPP covered the functionalities required to support the Home Node B (HNB) and Home eNodeB (HeNB). The new release aims to take these further and adds functionalities that will enable the mobile operators to provide services in a more effective manner, improving overall user experience. Several existing requirements on TS 22.220 which could not be realized in the previous stages are re-introduced. These are expected to be covered with Rel-10. This includes "Managed Remote Access to home based network", and "IMS Inter-working". It also features work on the studies related to machine-to-machine communications which enable network operators to offer machine-type communication services at a low cost level, to match the expectations of mass-market machine-type services and applications.Rel-10 aims to provide mechanisms enabling operator's control on routing of active PDN connections across available accesses. Another important feature is a solution to enable the operators seamlessly offload their traffic via IP flow mobility on to a WLAN. Operators will be able to use WLAN as a seamless extension of their cellular access and thus increase the overall system capacity while minimizing the access cost. On the RAN front, amendment of the 1.28Mcps TDD Home NodeB related specifications is proposed so as to support the Home NodeBs application.

The detailed overview of the specification is available from 3GPP.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

3GPP Picks Femtocell Standards

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards body has finally adopted an official architecture and started work on a new standard for home base stations. The specification for the interface between the Home Node B (HNB, the 3GPP term for femtocell) is being decided. The new interface will be called Iu-h and is a blend of existing standards Iu and generic access network (GAN), sometimes referred to as unlicensed mobile access (UMA). The 3GPP chose the solution backed by industry majors Alcatel-Lucent , Kineto Wireless Inc. , and its partners Motorola and NEC Corp. The new standard, which forms part of 3GPP’s Release 8, and interdependent with Broadband Forum extensions to its Technical Report-069 (TR-069), has been completed in just 12 months following close cooperation between 3GPP, the Femto Forum and the Broadband Forum.

The term has already been introduced to in one of the earlier posts. Femtocells are low-power wireless access points that operate in licensed spectrum to connect standard mobile devices to a mobile operator’s network using residential DSL or cable broadband connections.A Home Node B (HNB), is the 3GPP's term for a 3G femtocell. A Node B is an element of a 3G macro Radio Access Network (RAN). A femtocell performs many of the function of a Node B, but is optimized for deployment in the home.

The new standard
The new standard covers the following main areas:
  • Network architecture
  • Radio & interference aspects
  • Femtocell management / provisioning and security
In the proposed network architecture, the interface between femtocells and gateways in the network core re-uses existing 3GPP UMTS protocols and extends them to support the needs of high-volume femtocell deployments. The new standard has adopted the Broadband Forum’s TR-069 management protocol which has been extended to incorporate a new data model for femtocells developed collaboratively by Femto-Forum and Broadband Forum members and published by the Broadband Forum as Technical Report 196 (TR-196).

Saturday, April 10, 2010


SON stands for Self Organizing Networks. It is one of the key advantages of the LTE and is being standardized by 3GPP in Release8, Release 9 and beyond. LTE SON will leverage on the network intelligence, automation and network management features in order to automate the configuration and optimization of wireless networks, thereby lowering costs and improving network performance and flexibility.

Newer and better classes of mobile devices are coming out to the market thereby providing a push to the total wireless data usage. Consequently, the wireless service providers are forced to offer support to a growing number of higher-bandwidth data applications and services on their networks,while simultaneously keeping the delivery cost as low as possible. This growth in wireless data demand is so rapid that it is also expected to increase Radio Access Network complexity through additions of femtocells, picocells, as well as WiFi access points in order to drive increases in coverage and capacity. All these demands put a lot of pressure upon service providers in the areas of network performance and operations. The traditional network management has been proved to be quite inadequate for managing the growing data volume and network complexity in a cost-effective manner.

Self-Configuration by itself is quite a broad concept.It involves several distinct functions that are covered through specific features like the Automatic Software Management,Self Test and Automatic Neighbor Relation configuration. Self-Configuration of networks are expected to reduce the amount of manual processes involved in the planning, integration and configuration of new eNodeBs. This helps in faster network deployment and also paves way for reduced costs for the operator. SON provides a more integral inventory management system that has lesser volume of human errors. The Self - Configuration actions takes place after the eNodeB is installed, and plugged to the power line and to the transport link.On power on, it will boot and perform a Self Test, followed by a set of self-discovery functions. After the self-discovery,auto-configuration of the transport link happens and connections are established with the corresponding servers. After the node is self-configured one more self-test covering all hardware and software functions is run and report is presented to the network management node.

Current status
Current LTE standards do incorporate functionality related to the self- configuration, including Automatic Software Management Self Test, Automatic Neighbor Relation and Automatic Inventory Management.3GPP has not fully specified a standardized self-configuration functionality as of now. So it is natural that the first versions of the eNodeB self-configuration functionality will be basically having vendor dependent aspects, as .

Monday, April 5, 2010

Universal Charging Solution

In partnership with many leading mobile operators and manufacturers, the GSM Association has announced a commitment to implementing a cross-industry standard for a Universal Charging Solution (UCS) for new mobile phones. The main objective is to adopt a common format for mobile phone charger connections and energy-efficient chargers, world-wide. The initiative aims at making chargers which have advantages like
  • reduce standby energy consumption
  • eliminate thousands of tonnes of duplicate chargers
  • enhance the end-user experience for mobile customers
This has been further endorsed by the ITU also. The European Commission recently reached an agreement with major phone providers for the UCS to work with all data-enabled phones sold in the European Union.The product definition includes common power supply with a detachable cable based on USB-IF standards.

UCS advantage
UCS is based on a Common Power Supply (CPS) having atleast a 4-star or higher energy rating. It will meet all efficiency regulations. With UCS in place, fewer chargers need to be manufactured each year which helps in reducing greenhouse gases produced in making and delivery of the replacement chargers. The widespread adoption of a Universal Charging Solution (UCS) is expected to result in:
  • up to 50% reduction in standby energy consumption
  • elimination of up to 51,000 tonnes of duplicate chargers
  • enhance the end user experience and simplify the charging of mobile devices

For the consumer, charging a mobile device will simplify the end-user experience. Consumers will be able to carry fewer chargers and charge mobile phones anywhere from any available charger. Consumers will also be able to re-use chargers even when they upgrade their phone or if they have different mobile phones from different manufacturers but still want to carry and use a single charger.

The inititative was launched in 2009 and the group expects a UCS world by 2012.

For a product overview, visit GSMA site.