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Thursday, 28 October 2021

AT&T Small Cells and Macrocells

It's been a while since I posted some small cell pictures from the USA. It's always nice of people to share their pics on Twitter and here are some of them I found interesting.

On it's website, Raycap has a case study with AT&T:

To see a range of solutions for concealing small cell wireless sites, look no farther than Dallas, Texas, home to AT&T corporate headquarters. Raycap worked with the carrier to complete two very different concealment projects.

  • Six custom-designed wall-mounted enclosures, designed, manufactured and painted to match the granite walls of AT&T’s buildings and provide 5G mmWave coverage around the AT&T Discovery District
  • Nearby, highly customized small cell poles were engineered to meet the carrier’s needs, the utility’s access requirements, and the city’s aesthetic guidelines—including an integrated image of the iconic Pegasus logo.

These two projects show how Raycap-led collaboration among all stakeholders can solve challenging wireless deployments: wall mounted, rooftop mounted, integrated in poles, and others.

You can download the PDF here.

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Sunday, 10 October 2021

Multi-sectorised sites and Small Cells help O2 UK handle Capacity in Busy Areas

Radio planning becomes essential in dense urban areas where operators don't only have to serve the highly mobile users but also slow moving pedestrians and users indoors. One some location in London, UK, is O2 UK's highest capacity Nokia site with six-sector low-band LTE in 800 and 900MHz in addition to high-band 4T4R L18/L21, 8T8R L23 as well as standard n78 8T8R 5G.

The site also features numerous high-end Commscope antennas with dual-beam panels that are needed to create six-sector LTE 800 and 900 MHz and then 24 port antennas that carry all the other including 8T8R 2300 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz as well as n78 8T8R.

In addition, O2 has multitude of Nokia Small cells sprinkled across the City of London. While these come in all different shape and configurations. In many locations there are ones with directional antennas while there are others with omni-directional antennas as well.

The small cells are located on their own poles, rather than lamp posts and many of these also feature Wi-Fi access points as additional means to alleviate the capacity crunch. In fact they can also be mounted on-top of phone boxes, shops, side of buildings, etc. 

If this is an area of interest and you enjoyed reading the post above, you will no doubt enjoy watching this short video from Peter Clarke who has a great collection of infrastructure from UK and Ireland on his website here. Video as follows:

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Thursday, 30 September 2021

Metrocells to help Telstra Increase Density for Greater Capacity and Speed

We looked at Telstra's Small Cells some years back. While they were 4G only or 3G/4G back in those days, now small cells are also being talked about for 5G.

On their Q&A page on small cells, Telstra has explained what they mean by them. In fact we also wrote about how Telstra is using small cells to do EME testing here.

In their investor day this earlier this month, Telstra presented their T25 vision and the role of small cells in that. During the last three years, they’ve been talking about the journey of transformation that they have called T22. T22 was a strategy of necessity – a strategy designed to transform every aspect of Telstra. The new T25 strategy is being billed as a strategy for growth, which they have broken down into four pillars:

  • Provide an exceptional customer experience you can count on
  • Provide leading network and technology solutions that deliver your future
  • Create sustained growth and value for our shareholders
  • Be the place you want to work

As you can see in the slide above, Pillar 2 of their T25 strategy is focused on leading network and technology solutions that deliver the future. As they describe in their analyst day notes:

There is no doubt we are continuing to see rapid technology adoption and innovation. This is manifesting as a convergence between core telecommunications technology and software-based technology solutions.

What this means is that Telstra not only needs to continue to lead in telecommunications technology with the best networks, but also increasingly lead in the role that software plays in orchestrating and managing the network and integrating applications and services for customer solutions. 

Under T25 we will continue to invest in our network leadership in 5G with 95% population coverage and 80% of all mobile network traffic being on 5G by FY25. We also plan to double the number of metro sites leveraging small cell technologies to further densify and add capacity to the network and we will add at least another 100,000 square kilometres of mobile coverage to our national footprint to support regional and remote customers.

By FY24 we will have extended our 4G coverage to 100% of our network enabling us to continue to lead in composite coverage, speed and performance for 4G and 5G as we close 3G. This will set us up well for the early planning on 6G which will clearly be on the agenda by the end of our T25 program.

We will be a vastly different company because of our network leadership with 95% 5G population coverage, a densified small cell network and expanded regional coverage.

Hopefully, the end users will be the real winners with these network upgrades.

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Friday, 17 September 2021

Bigbelly's Telebelly Small Cells to Connect Rural and Urban Users


Bigbelly claims to be the world leader of smart waste and recycling solutions for public spaces. According to their website, they have a proven solution that has been deployed in 50 countries around the globe. When the company started back in 2003, the mission was to transform one of the least efficient and resource heavy operations - waste operations. Today, Bigbelly provides a public right-of-way platform to deliver smart solutions and host communications infrastructure.

Earlier this year, they announced that Telebelly, an integrated pole and antenna solution that expands the Bigbelly station’s service by offering enhanced wireless services to the communities it serves, is set to boost connectivity across UK cities following its decision to launch. The press release said:

The move is expected to accelerate growth of the UK’s small cell network, which is a series of small antennas attached to existing urban infrastructure within densely populated areas. It will also pave the way for 5G by making it easier for telecommunication companies to deploy a faster and more reliable service without relying on large-scale mast installations.

Telebelly, which is 4G and 5G capable, will also reduce visual clutter associated with the growing number of small cells currently secured externally to fixed structures such as streetlights, as it is securely and internally housed.

Bigbelly anticipates interest in Telebelly from UK local authorities, which are seeking solutions for their public spaces that utliise, wherever possible, existing or multi-purpose infrastructure.

Councils, mobile network operators and other third parties are now able to consider the existing 2,500 Bigbelly units in operation across the UK, as well as new locations, for potential Telebelly sites. Wherever a public waste bin is appropriate, a Telebelly may be the solution to hide small cells in plain sight.

Meanwhile their press release in Australia announced:

Today Bigbelly Solar, Cellular Asset Management Services, and Smartsensor Technologies, Bigbelly distributor in Australia, announce they have deployed a number of Telebelly Wireless cabinets, a hybrid telecom and waste management cabinet to benefit the community providing waste services and wireless coverage.

Bigbelly Solar says this is a global first, with Blackman Park in the municipality of Lane Cove being the first one in the world to go live.

The Lane Cove council commented: “Lane Cove has been using Bigbelly compacting waste bins successfully in the community to help provide more capacity and a cleaner environment compared to conventional litter bins. The integration of this solution with mobile connectivity allows us to additionally provide much needed mobile service in currently underserved locations.”

Bigbelly Solar says the benefit of these units is that they blend in with the surrounding environment and matches the recognisable form of an adjacent big belly waste bin.

Not only does the community benefit from the increased mobile coverage footprint, each new Telebelly station now features a Bigbelly high capacity solar-powered waste compactor, complete with hands-free capabilities.

In addition to providing 4G voice and data services, the Telebelly could also be configured to provide Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity and Wi-Fi. A strong and reliable wireless connectivity not only provides a telecom advantage; such a service improves safety and security around public spaces.

Telecommunications have played an integral part during the recent Covid-19 crisis, allowing Australians to continue to work from home and stay connected with friends and family.

For those living in areas with limited coverage due to topography, small infrastructure solutions allow mobile operators to utilise public spaces such as parks and community ovals with coverage while also providing waste solution for the community’s benefit. Bigbelly Solar says these smaller solutions will reduce congestion on the network thus allowing mobile operators to provide mobile coverage in homes and businesses.

Meanwhile in the USA, where their Smart Waste & Recycling solution has been deployed in all 50 states, they deployed Telebelly small solutions in Milwaukee last year. Their blog post says:

The City of Milwaukee first connected with Bigbelly when a major wireless carrier reached out regarding siting challenges ahead of a significant event in the area. The event was fast approaching, and the city required a solution to host small cell in those central, inevitably high-traffic locations. The City looked to solve the all-too-common problem of hiding small cell infrastructure in a manner with the least visual impact. In other words: their complex technology needed to hide in plain sight.

Like many central locations, these high-traffic downtown areas were deemed to be “aesthetically sensitive.” Project approval was fully contingent on the Telebelly’s concealment solution: its ability to be compact, efficient, safe, and self-effacing.

The City was excited about the Telebelly’s multipurpose capabilities, such as small cell hosting, smart waste, IT hosting and more. But most importantly, Milwaukee was intrigued by the Telebelly’s ubiquitous form factor; its simple & understated aesthetic is inherently non-intrusive. This was essential to their form factor challenge.

Within six months of the initial conversation with the wireless carrier, the Telebellies were installed and ready to go! Already, both wireless carriers and the City are thrilled with the installation & performance of their new fleet, and assert that the Telebelly units are an excellent solution for areas which are traditionally difficult to permit.

Readers of this blog will no doubt be aware of many different solutions for both the scenarios listed above, coverage and capacity, that I have covered over the years with similar solutions. It remains to be seen how operators and councils embrace it. 

Embedded below is a detailed video from them from Smart Cities Week 2020, discussing "Smart Alternatives to Small Cell Deployment":

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Friday, 10 September 2021

Ericsson's Street Solutions

Ericsson’s announced that their Street portfolio offers operators and other service providers an opportunity to seamlessly bring connectivity to where it is needed. Part of the Ericsson Radio System, the street solutions are an integrated part of the network, with feature parity and end-to-end performance. 


In a recent press release they announced:

5G deployments are accelerating across the country at a faster rate than expected. According to Ericsson’s annual mobility report, by the end of 2021, 25 percent of the global population will have 5G coverage. In North America, more than 360 million 5G subscriptions are anticipated in the region by 2026, accounting for 84 percent of mobile subscriptions.

However, connectivity can suffer in dense urban environments, and as 5G comes to U.S. cities, urban rollouts are grappling with challenges like how to deploy non-intrusive sites, how best to utilize all frequency layers, and how to streamline site permitting and installation. Many sites need to expand 5G capacity, and hotspots and streets need strengthened capacity in both low, mid and high-band to build a complete 5G network as traffic grows.

Powered by Ericsson Silicon, these new solutions are:

  • Street Radio 4402: Designed to turn a streetlight into a low- or mid-band 5G site in 15 minutes, these compact radios are an industry-unique collaboration with Ubicquia, boosting 4G and 5G experience with zero footprint;
  • AIR 4435: The world’s smallest 4T4R street antenna-integrated radio is designed for minimum footprint and easy installations, adding excellent mid-band capacity to macro coverage gaps;
  • Street Macro 6705: A complete mmWave base station with integrated RAN Compute is an industry-leading end-to-end solution with low visual impact.

Ericsson Street Solutions also include transport solutions for any 5G street site, with wired and wireless backhaul and fronthaul solutions. And zero footprint power systems for street and hotspot sites are 100 percent carry to site, with low maintenance and operations costs.

A brochure with all the necessary details is available here.

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Saturday, 28 August 2021

Samsung's 3GPP-Compliant PS-LTE Network

After having been discussed for years by others, Samsung finally announced back in April that they are powering the world’s first 3GPP-compliant nationwide public safety LTE (PS-LTE) network in Korea, in collaboration with leading mobile operators.

A press release from them said:

This PS-LTE network, operating in the 700MHz spectrum, offers fast and reliable connectivity to first responders in over 330 public safety organizations and agencies, including police, firefighters, emergency medical services and the military.

The deployment includes Samsung’s Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk (MCPTT) with multimedia broadcast capabilities, known as evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service (eMBMS). This enables simultaneous transmission to up to 2,500 user devices per cell, which is more than twice the volume of devices supported by previous generation technologies.

In this buildout, the PS-LTE network was also interconnected with the existing LTE-Maritime (LTE-M) and LTE-Railway (LTE-R) networks that were already operating in the 700MHz spectrum.

With nationwide coverage, the network serves as a unified platform that helps ensure interoperability among various public safety institutions. This delivers real-time accessibility and enhanced communications capabilities among public safety agencies and personnel in emergency situations.

They also released an Infographic and a Whitepaper.

In a recent Networks Techtalk, Timothy Paul discussed Samsung’s latest end-to-end MCPTX solutions that provide powerful data and video communications capabilities designed for first responders and public safety officials. The video of that is embedded below:

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Friday, 13 August 2021

MatSing's High-Capacity RF Lens Antennas

We have looked at the Lens antennas in a few blog posts indirectly. The most recent being Facebook's SuperCell while others being Altaeros’ Autonomous Tethered Aerial Cell Tower and Verizon's U.S. Bank Stadium

In a recent press release, MatSing announced that it has been selected by the Dallas Cowboys and its network provider AT&T, along with ExteNet Systems, to provide mobile capacity antenna coverage for AT&T Stadium for the upcoming NFL season. Selected extract as follows:

These antenna upgrades will further enhance the exceptional experience provided by AT&T for fans in AT&T Stadium. This deployment follows a test run with reduced crowds during last season. This selection was made due to the capacity of MatSing technology to work with the AT&T systems at the stadium.

Following the installation of 20 MatSing lens antenna by ExteNet covering the Stadium’s entire seating bowl and field with 4G and 5G broadband mobile coverage, the fans and patrons will now experience never seen before performance with their smart devices in the stadium.

“With data demands of cell phones continuing to grow exponentially, driven by new apps and technology, our legacy DAS infrastructure could not keep up with those demands,” explained Cowboys CIO Matthew Messick. “AT&T introduced us to MatSing’s antenna technology, and immediately knew their technology would give us the necessary capabilities with room to grow.”

“Operating the largest indoor DAS network in the United States at AT&T Stadium provides us a unique opportunity to enable the best possible fan experience at one of the NFL’s most iconic venues,” added Rich Coyle, President & Interim CEO, ExteNet Systems. “We thank the Dallas Cowboys for trusting us with this opportunity, and MatSing for providing the clear winning technology for our mobile broadband needs.”

MatSing's spherical lens antennas are based on a unique patented technology that allows a single antenna to provide up to 48 high-capacity coverage sectors, replacing up to 48 traditional antennas with a single lens. Unlike other current solutions, like under-seat antennas, the MatSing lens antennas installed in the roofing structure typically have a clear line-of-sight path to potential users. This significantly reduces the number of antenna locations, as lens antennas can also reach farther than traditional antennas, providing better AT&T coverage and less interference at a lower cost and complexity for the team.

“A smoother Internet experience able to handle modern-day demands of streaming and social media sharing awaits Cowboys fans when they return to AT&T stadium,” added Michael Matytsine, MatSing co-founder and EVP of Operations. “Even when the stadium is at full capacity, lens antennas will provide a smoother data experience with fewer interruptions for fans who have embraced streaming and sharing as an intrinsic part of their stadium experience.”

AT&T, ExteNet and MatSing will continue to work with the Cowboys to maintain and test the lens equipment ahead of the season, ensuring its readiness for wider use by fans in AT&T Stadium.

MatSing lens antennas have also been present in the inauguration's of US presidents. The one from this year is in the Tweet above while the one from last election in 2016 is available here.

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Friday, 6 August 2021

Panorama's ESN Antennas

It feels like last year when I was involved in testing some emergency networks but it was a long while back.

Believe it or not, your mobile network is only as good as the antennas. How often have I come across networks that try and add some cheaper antennas to cut down the costs but the loss of coverage, especially on the edges is a far bigger loss than saving some money on the antennas. 

The UK's Emergency Services Network (ESN) is moving along nicely, though far slower than most people expected it to. One of the important pieces of the puzzle is different types of antennas that are needed on the blue light vehicles. The image on the top nicely summarises these antennas and a brochure with details is available from Panorama here. In fact you can check out all different types of antennas here.

The following videos provide an idea on how these antennas look and work

Do check out other posts below related to ESN on our blogs.

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Friday, 30 July 2021

Nokia's FastMile for 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA)

Fixed Wireless is a hot topic, especially with 5G. We made a tutorial on that back in 2018, available here. While there are many different CPEs (Customer Premises Equipments) available, for the big players as well as the smaller ones, Nokia's FastMile caught my attention.

The Australian operator Optus has been selling and promoting the FastMile solution for FWA in Aus. You can see a lot of unboxing videos on YouTube, one nice one here.

There are couple of solutions available. In our tutorial, we talk about a combined CPE + router in a box and a separate CPE whose output is connected to a router. Nokia has a solution for both of these. 

The FastMile 5G Gateways (link) is the combined CPE + router. The video below shows how it works.

The FastMile 5G Receiver on the other hand is just a 5G CPE whose output is then connected to a router to create a hotspot. The video below sort of explains it:

Nokia is enjoying reasonable success with FastMile which can be seen from some of their announcements on the web. One such embedded as Tweet below:

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Wednesday, 21 July 2021

ZTE explains 5G CDN in a new White Paper

ZTE recently released a new whitepaper analyzing in detail the challenges confronted by content delivery network (CDN) in the 5G era. it also proposes architecture and technology trends suitable for the evolution of CDN to content edge clouds. Finally, the WP shares deployment cases of actual applications.

The announcement states:

With 5G entering into an era where video "reigns supreme", the video demand of individual users continues to rise, and that of businesses has also shown explosive growth in the context of the pandemic, such as interactive live broadcasting, online education, and cloud gaming. Immersive experiences including high-definition channels, VR/AR and 8K+ ultra-high-definition services have witnessed rapid development. Enterprise users are accelerating their digital transformation, and video digital applications like video conferencing, video surveillance, live broadcast of venues and telemedicine are becoming increasingly popular. Various video services require the networks to have stronger distribution timeliness, lower service delay and greater bandwidth.

Based on a lightweight vCDN, ZTE's 5G CDN solution provides nearby access, automatic scaling and rapid deployment while realizing resource sharing and reducing backbone network traffic. Relying on the cloud platform, the solution enhances the video processing capabilities with the cloud transcoding function. It also enriches the video PaaS capability components, providing a foundation for the opening of platform capabilities.

With security being as fundamental guarantee, the 5G CDN solution constructs a dynamic security protection system with infrastructure security, content security, service security and data security as the core to ensure the efficient and safe operation of CDN.

ZTE has utilized the 5G CDN solution in various industries including entertainment, culture, education, games, sports and more. In the entertainment field, ZTE and China Mobile have completed the trial commercial use of 5G MEC-based 8K VR services, bringing users a brand-new immersive audio-visual experience. 

In the education field, through the integration of interactive live broadcast, business management and other video platform capabilities, ZTE has created for customers the Online education SaaS business featuring multiple teaching scenarios and terminals under the condition of different types and multiple networks, while employing ZTE Wi-Fi6 routers, smart education set-top boxes, smart screen speakers, 5G mobile phones and other terminals to carry the online education services. 

In the gaming field, ZTE 5G CDN provides efficient and secure transmission guarantee for cloud gaming services, and it has been commercialized in China Telecom’s networks. In the field of cultural tourism, relying on its powerful media processing capabilities, ZTE’s 5G CDN is able to help present high-definition live content of scenic spots, thereby allowing China Mobile's customers to enjoy the scenic spots in Shaanxi on the cloud. 

In the sports industry, by virtue of the powerful rendering and distribution capabilities, with 5G CDN, ZTE and China Unicom have jointly realized free viewpoint 4K live broadcast service featuring the industry's lowest latency in the "Meeting Beijing" ice event speed skating test competition in April 2021. The measured end-to-end delay is as low as 0.3 seconds, delivering the ultimate smart game watching experience to the audience.

As one of the largest CDN network solution providers, ZTE, backed up with its profound accumulation of ultra-high-definition video technology and 5G communication technology, will keep focusing on customer demand, innovative technologies and optimizing experience, so as to provide a better video service experience and assist operators in laying out 5G vertical industry applications.

The whitepaper is available here.

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