TMN is rounding up the news prior to MWC. Today, we look at analytics and clever radio stuff.
ANALYTICS and AI
There’s no doubt that network analytics, and what gets called AI but might instead be machine learning, is being recognised as a mega-trend at this year’s event. At the network end of things, the end goal is increased automation of operations and processes.The GSMA’s conference programme has a whole strand of sessions dedicated to the topic running through it. And the pre-show news releases have demonstrated vendor momentum. Not included here are other Analytics and AI pushes coming from Nokia and Huawei.
1. Cisco Crosswork Network Automation
The US vendor pushed out its releases on its data-driven network services orchestrator and support for processes such as automated network changes and closed loop control.
2. Nitro from Viavi
VIAVI Solutions launched NITRO Mobile, an analysis platform that captures, locates and analyses mobile events across the RAN and core and correlates them by location and application. That gives operators insight to optimise the customer experience and drive new revenue streams. Automated intelligence enables context-driven workflows for troubleshooting, identifying parameters and related KPIs to uncover the root cause of service-specific issues.
3. Accedian goes shopping to fill in the gap
Accedian said it is buying Performance Vision, a company that provides network and application performance management. The acquisition will add Performance Vision’s cloud monitoring ability to Accedian’s active test and monitoring capabilities. Accedian said, ““The ability to see the entire digital infrastructure uniformly—from end-user to multiple data centers, clouds, and SaaS applications—fills a visibility gap that otherwise threatens digital transformation projects’ success.”
4. TEOCO’s indoor planning to CEO
Analytics company TEOCO had a clutch of announcements, from planning tools to the expansion of its network analytics capabilities. Its release include: SmartHub platform to drive intelligent network investment for Chief Experience Officers (what are these?. We’ve heard of them, we’re just not sure many operators actually have one – ed); ASSET Indoor – an in-building planning tooldeveloped with Ranplan; SmartCM 2.0 for radio network auditing and configuration, plus the expansion of its subscriber, device and network analytics capabilities with Mentor 10.0 – adding multi-vendor support
5. MYCOM OSI launches Experience Assurance and Analytics (EAA) suite.
Another launch this time with cloud-based support for an analytics and assurance platform. The sell is it “Unlocks simplification, agility, automation and new subscription-based business models.”
MYCOM OSI’s EAA optimizes network and service quality of hybrid (physical and virtual) networks by pre-integrating real time assurance data and management functions (service quality management, performance management and fault management) with automation and analytics that are driven by AI/Machine Learning. In addition, EAA provides assurance-driven closed loop network automation that directs orchestrators in virtual networks and configuration management in physical networks to make changes that optimize end-to-end network and service quality.”
NEW RADIO, ANTENNAS AND WIRELESS THINGS
5G is creating several trends at the top of the tower and on the street. One trend is about meeting deployment challenges for another series of antennas on towers. Another is about creating a whole new economics for vRAN deployments. And of course there’s the ever-present of maximising antenna performance. Again, there are smart antenna releases coming from the “big guys”, to add to these from newer players in the industry.
1. Dali Open RAN: Dali’s Virtual Fronthaul Interface (vFI)
The Open RAN is a target for new wireless entrants that want to break up the dominance of the established NEPs by splitting the integrated link between the remote radio head and the baseband unit. Mavenir has been a strong proponent, and now comes Dali, which is proposing its second generation vFI.
It says the release is in response to “heightened demand for open RAN to become a critical component of 5G networks, solving vendor lock-in issues and lowering network rollout costs.” Dali says its vFI will be trialed by major operators in the US and EMEA later this year.
2. Siklu 10GHz wireless
The backhaul/fronthaul specialist is back with a full duplex product in the 70/80 GHz bands. It says this can give 10Gbps links, suitable for the most intensive backhaul links where there’s a need for a fibre substitute.
3. CCS’s Metnet 12Gbps 60Ghz mmWave
Cambridge Communication Systems, the self-organising mesh backhaul company released details of its Metnet 12Gbps access and backhaul unit, operating in the 60GHz band. “This is the first product release within our new Software-Defined Network architecture,” said CEO Steve Greaves.
4. Holographic beam forming
Pivotal Commware, included in last year’s TMN “Ones to watch” and inventor of Holographic Beam Forming (HBF), a technique designed to expand the capacity and spectral efficiency of 4G and 5G networks, has joined leading carriers and OEMs to hammer out 3GPP standards associated with 5G beamforming.
The idea is that 5G needs software capable antennas, rather than being limited to the electronic tilt options available previously. 3G and 4G spectrum rely on limited antenna down-tilt functionality standardized outside of 3GPP by the Antenna Interface Standards Group (AISG). “Because advanced beamforming will be integral to 5G, 3GPP is relying on Pivotal and other 3GPP delegates to define an abstraction layer of beam options supported by an open interface,” according to Pivotal. This way, interoperability can be maximised among technology and component providers for integration in both network equipment and test equipment.
“Software-defined antenna technology like HBF has turned the humble antenna from servant to shot-caller in next-generation wireless,” says Alex Katko, Ph.D., director of product engineering for Pivotal Commware. “3GPP delegates have determined that beamforming capabilities range from fundamental to advanced. It’s critical to 5G equipment interoperability that fundamental capabilities are standardized rather than left to proprietary implementations.”
5. RFS Active Passive antenna solution (a bit like Nokia and Kathrein)
Earlier this month Nokia said it is working with Kathrein to give Orange the option of installing active and passive elements for 4G and 5G antennas in the same unit. This week rival vendor RFS announced its new Active Passive Antenna (APA) system.
The new APA system interleaves a 5G active antenna with a passive base station antenna under the same radome. Just as the Kathrein-NOkia solution, which TMN understands to be more of a mechanical coupling of elements, it has been developed in response to operator demand to combine the antennas for 3.5GHz mMIMO with existing passive systems, addressing the big challenge operators face in relation to cell site restraints when looking to deploy new active antennas in dense urban areas.
5b. And one from Huawei too
Huawei also launched a similar antenna design, in its case calling it the “1+1 Antenna“. The proposal – it still seems to be a concept – involves dual antennas: one passive antenna for all sub-3 GHz frequency bands, and an active antenna for C band and mmWave. The rationale is the same as the RFS/Kathrein/Nokia approaches: “Current antenna systems will not support 5G, but cell tower space is limited and lease costs are high. This means that it would be very hard to simply add on new 5G antennas.”
6. More MIMO
An FDD full-band 4×4 MIMO antenna will be released by TIM and Huawei jointly at 2018 Mobile World Congress. The antenna supports 4×4 MIMO on all of TIM’s sub-3 GHz frequency bands, leaving room also for one dedicated active antenna in C band and mmWave. Again the idea is to maximise site value and perhaps enable site sharing.