Busy 2016 for Yate SDMN products

Stepping into 2016, we have exciting news.

Through 2015 we continued to develop the GSM/GPRS SatSite base station, as well as our main core network products: the 2G/2.5G/4G YateUCN core network and the 2G/3G/4G YateHSS/HLR.

We start 2016 with the release of the LTE SatSite Model 142, with software-selectable LTE or GSM/GPRS operation, generating 10-20 Watts LTE power output with a power consumption of only 65-80 Watts. We also prepared new features and updates for YateHSS/HLR after receiving relevant feedback from our customers. And there is the new YateBTS website, which now offers extensive information on our products, solutions and our technology.

SatSite Model 142 launch

The LTE SatSite Model 142 delivers software-selectable LTE or GSM/GPRS operation from the same base station.

LTE_SatSite_142

In both LTE and GSM/GPRS modes, the SatSite Model 142 generates a higher output power than the previous model. As an eNodeB, the SatSite operates at up to 20 Watts, at bandwidths of 1.4 to 20 MHz, while in GSM/GPRS mode the SatSite operates at up to 20 Watts for 1-TRX or 2 Watts/TRX in multi-TRX configuration (at up to 4-TRX). The SatSite weighs only 5kg and has a low enough power consumption that it can be easily powered by solar panels in most of the world.

Its required backhaul is under 100 Mbit, resulting from the fact that, unlike many LTE solutions, the SatSite is a unified LTE eNodeB, and not a remote radio head (RRH) that needs a separate baseband unit (BBU).

For more information about Model 142’s complete specifications, please check the datasheet.

YateHSS/HLR new features

On the core network side, we start 2016 with new features to the YateHSS/HLR: scalability (cluster configuration), multi-IMSI support and support for separate circuit-switched/packet-switched network profiles.

Cluster configuration allows YateHSS/HLR nodes to work in a cloud to provide scalability. YateHSS/HLR servers all provide the same service and handle the same subscribers. If a server fails, the subscribers are distributed to the other YateHSS/HLR nodes in the cluster, which continues to provide the same services.

Multi-IMSI support allows YateHSS/HLR to respond to an alternative IMSI from the same SIM card, in different roaming scenarios. The feature sends an HTTP request to the operator’s server after the subscriber tries to roam into a new network. The operator’s server uses the request to trigger an IMSI change in the SIM using an OTA mechanism. The SIM carries a multi-IMSI application that ensures that the SIM will return to the main IMSI if it cannot register with the alternative IMSI.

The support for separate CS/PS profiles means that subscribers’ profiles are grouped according to the types of services associated to them, allowing the profiles to be easily updated to provide new services. For example, a subscriber might have “Prepaid voice, roaming”, “Prepaid data 1Mbps, not roaming” and “LTE not allowed” settings. It is easy to change one service of a subscriber by simply selecting another profile.

A few final words…

We have entered 2016 with great new core network features and new RAN product releases, making new opportunities for operators. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Facebook to find out first about our new  announcements and releases.

 

YateUCN – the redundant MSC/VLR

Traditionally, the redundancy of the Mobile Switching Center / Visitor Location Register (MSC/VLR) is obtained through redundant dedicated hardware and software. The problem lies in the Abis + A interfaces (BSSAP protocol) which do not allow a base station to move easily to another MSC/VLR. To overcome this problem, we decided to use the SIP protocol (with enhanced features for GSM operations), which allows a YateBTS SatSite base station to move to another YateUCN (MSC/VLR) automatically and quickly.

Redundant GSM MSC/VLR

In a GSM network deployed with YateBTS-based SatSite base stations and YateUCN core network servers, each subscriber is randomly assigned to a YateUCN from a pool of core network servers. Operators can increase the redundancy of the pool by simply adding additional YateUCN servers for excess capacity in case a unit malfunctions. Therefore, handsets connected to a single SatSite can be served by multiple identical YateUCNs, while, at the same time, a single YateUCN serves multiple SatSite units. If a YateUCN server fails, all the mobile devices served by it are automatically moved to the other available YateUCN servers. When the subscriber is registered to the new YateUCN, its location is updated in the HLR.

In short, YateUCN and the GSM YateBTS SatSite base stations form a many-to-many relationship, and this was made possible though a number of characteristics.

  • The GSM YateBTS SatSite implements all the functions of a conventional Base Station Controller (BSC).
  • The A interface (between the BSC and the MSC/VLR) was replaced with SIP (between YateBTS and YateUCN), making it possible to quickly re-associate handsets with different YateUCN servers.
  • All YateUCN servers are identical units that support many core network functions. Operators will only have to duplicate one component, as opposed to multiple in conventional networks.
  • YateUCN is implemented in commodity hardware (off-the-shelf servers) and software (Linux), delivering a shorter lead time, more servicing options and faster replacement time.

The diagram below illustrates the technology perfectly.

yucn_msc-vlr_2015-11-4_version1.1

Integration in an LTE core network

The SatSite and the YateUCN components are easy to integrate into existing LTE networks because 2G services are delivered in SIP. These GSM services are integrated into a 4G network by employing the same GTP and IMS interfaces that are typically used in conventional EPC/IMS core networks.

YateUCN implements the same SIP switch to both provide GSM services and connect to an existing IMS network. Thus, with both the SIP-powered RAN and core network products, operators’ migration from GSM to LTE turns into a much simpler process.

Integration in a GSM core network

As an MSC/VLR, YateUCN performs all the functions of other MSC/VLRs: mobility, authentication, speech call and SMS routing. The server supports authentication of handsets using the SIM/USIM (EAP-SIM/EAP-AKA) and SIP AKAv1-MD5 algorithms.

YateUCN can connect to any standard HLR via the SS7 MAP protocol, and to other MSCs and GMSCs through the MAP-E protocol, allowing it to be in any conventional GSM network.

A few final words

YateUCN brings something new to GSM equipment: affordable redundancy, scalability, and uncomplicated management into a single core network server. It is easy to integrate to existing GSM and LTE networks and can be easily upgraded with new features within the same hardware and allows operators a seamless network extension.

Modernizing GSM networks – an ever difficult feat

GSM has turned 24 this year and throughout this time showed that it is invaluable for telephone calls and M2M applications. Many industry observers estimate that 2G will continue to be in use even after 3G is discontinued. But GSM networks are confronted with the difficult task of adapting to the new operating environments.

The modernization of GSM is particularly arduous when considering that equipment vendors and solutions providers have concentrated on developing components for newer networks (3G, 4G, even 5G) and less on innovating GSM network components. The SatSite is designed to serve either GSM, LTE, or mixed GSM/LTE networks working directly with the unified core YateUCN, proving that there’s still plenty of room for innovative results for GSM deployments.

The technology behind our GSM network equipment allows new techniques like radio resource sharing with LTE, running GSM from a remote radio head, applying SON or beamforming technologies, which are typical for LTE, to be applied to 2G networks. The result is a simplified and flexible network architecture, better management and reduced costs.

Spectrum sharing
The SatSite base station is based on commodity, off-the shelf,-hardware and can be software-‘switched’ to provide either GSM, LTE, or both. When running YateBTS for GSM, it communicates directly with the unified core network, eliminating the base station controller (BSC). This architecture, where the BTS connects straight to the core network and communicates to other BTS in the network over peering protocols is very similar to the architecture of LTE.

This is also what makes it possible to support multiple technologies in the same equipment. If one BTS uses the same frequency bands to provide both GSM and LTE access, operators may choose freely on how to allocate spectrum between them. Depending on the service use at a given time, operators can assign prioritize voice over data services and vice versa. We’ve detailed spectrum sharing between GSM and LTE in the SatSite here.

Self-Organizing Network
SON techniques feature dynamic self-configuration, self-optimization, and self-healing functions, which can be achieved due to the eNodeB not being controlled by a distinct BSC component as in the typical case of GSM. Without a BSC, SatSite base stations are able to connect to each other over peering protocols, allowing an exchange of neighbor information between units. This presentation offers more details on SON technology for mixed 2G/4G networks.

Beamforming
Beamforming relies on grouping the signals of multiple antennas and into one beam sent to a desired direction. It aims to reduce interference and obtain a better quality of a service for a certain user. Unlike MIMO, where the network sends different parts of the data stream on different antennas, beamforming combines the signals from the different antennas and sends them to one device. What’s more, as opposed to MIMO, beamforming does not require any support from the handset, making it suitable for use in any mobile network technology, be it 2G, 3G, 4G or even 5G, in the future.

Benefits of optimizing GSM networks include a better management of the network resources, reduced infrastructure costs and maintenance efforts, and the flexibility to upgrade or reprogram network functions.

SS7ware @ITU Telecom World 2015

This week we’re at ITU Telecom World, the United Nations Specialized Agency for Information and Communication Technologies conference in Budapest! Let’s meet!

October 12 through 15, SS7ware Inc. team is exhibiting at stand P13, in Pavilion F. Here are the highlights for the week:

David Burgess will be representing the SME community as a panelist in this Business-to-Government dialogue.

  • Live SatSite demonstration: Wednesday, October 14, 11:00 – 12:00, stand SS7ware P13

A live demo session followed by Q&A will be organized at our stand.

The SatSite lightweight, low-power base station is simply plugged in to allow calls between GSM handsets.

  • Exhibition: Monday, October 12 – Thursday, October 15. Stop by stand P13 anytime during the exhibition:

Monday 12 October: 10:30-18:00

Tuesday 13 & Wednesday 14 October: 10:00-18:00

Thursday 15 October: 10:00-16:00

Follow the news on Twitter (@yate_voip), Facebook, connect to us on LinkedIn or drop us a message if you wish to meet.

GSM and LTE, 2 technologies in 1 base station

LTE for bandwidth and GSM for voice are a match made in heaven for subscribers. The roll-out however, not so much. Running them both from the same radio equipment (BTS) can be the answer. SatSite can run both YateBTS (GSM) and YateENB (LTE) at the same time, in the same spectrum, using the same radio hardware.

Software-defined BTS

This is made possible by replacing commonly used FPGA and DSP boards with one Intel Atom chipset. Both the GSM YateBTS and the LTE YateENB are modules implemented in software, allowing the base station to be reprogrammed or reconfigured to support new protocols. A base station can run GSM at first, and can be later software-upgradeable to LTE, running multiple air interface protocols using the same radio, at the same time.

Mixed 2G/4G spectrum allocation

From a spectrum point of view, as seen in the image below, the mixed GSM/LTE technology enables a base station to be software-configurable for up to 4-TRX/ARFCN. A base station can use the 850, 900, 1800, and 1900 MhZ bands for both GSM and LTE, meaning that it will allocate two ARFCN to GSM and will use the remaining spectrum for LTE.

ss_mix_spectr_2015-10-6_pic1_version1.1Based on the subscribers’ activity (data vs. voice), operators can assign in software the spectrum priority for either LTE or GSM, so LTE gets a higher priority if there is a lower use of voice services. This optimizes the resources allocation in the network and supplies better access to users.

YateBTS and YateENB – Yate modules

Yate is an underlying part of the software architecture of our mixed 2G/4G RAN. It has a highly expandable architecture that provides unified management and monitoring. Both YateBTS and YateENB are software modules based on Yate. Yate’s SDR architecture enables the LTE and the GSM modules to use the same radio hardware. You can find out more about Yate’s multiple modules here.

ss_mix_spectr_2015-10-6_pic2_version1.1Yate’s SDR architecture also enabled us to replace the conventional, special purpose equipment combination of a baseband unit (BBU) + a remote radio unit (RRU), with a single unit. With this technology we implemented all the functions of both a conventional base station and a base station controller, eliminating the costly Abis interface for traffic and signaling, as well as partial functions of an Mobile Switching Center (MSC), in terms of mobility, power and frequency management and handover.

The mixed 2G/4G RAN technology is embodied in our SatSite base station. SatSite acts more like a conventional eNodeB, even when running on GSM, because it uses IP backhaul for both 2G and 4G. It also contains the IP list of all neighboring SatSite units.

Using off-the-shelf hardware and a generic operating system, SatSite embraces everything SDR stands for, and is the solution for an easy adoption of new standards or technologies, even 5G in the future.

A forecast on the evolution of radio access networks

This month we participated at an active antenna workshop in Warsaw. The event was well attended by many RAN managers, strategists and planners from various mobile operators around the world. There were also a large number of radio head and eNodeB, antenna, semiconductors and materials and test equipment vendors.

Crowded towers

There was a lot of talk about crowded towers. The majority of towers are already very crowded and at their mechanical limits. Because new equipment cannot be added, often times the only solution is that of replacing existing equipment with new antennas and radios. Since everyone in the industry wants ‘cleaner’, less crowded towers, the experts found that radio equipment capable of running on both GSM and LTE would help reduce the overall load on cell site towers.

active_anntenna_workshop

3G sunset

Within this workshop quite a few of our beliefs regarding the future of the UMTS have been confirmed:

  • In a number of markets UMTS 3G will be discontinued, while 2G will continue to stay, allowing for 2G/4G mixed networks to flourish.
  • While 2G spectrum allocation will diminish in time, GSM will still be alive and well for a while.
  • In many markets, UMTS 3G spectrum is already re-farmed for 4G LTE.

Massive MIMO?

As the workshop’s theme was the evolution of active antennas, a lot of the conversation revolved around MIMO technology and MIMO antennas. The 2×2 MIMO configuration is becoming a standard for mobile networks, and 4×2 MIMO is expected to become the standard in two to three years. There is little prospect in the industry for LTE devices to support more than 2 MIMO channels, meaning that the most practical MIMO configuration is the Nx2 variety. One of the most important current issues is that many LTE devices still don’t support MIMO.

Vertical sectorization

In terms of vertical sectorization, the consensus is that it can be useful only when combined with fast-responding self-organizing networks (SON). Vertical sectorization is only efficient when used throughout the whole network, and no just in a few cell sites. However, vertical sectorization will be obsolete once most LTE devices will support MIMO.

VoLTE perspectives from the RAN side

RAN experts present at the workshop discussed VoLTE’s slow adoption. One reason for this is that for any given cell site, the service range for VoLTE is typically smaller than that for UMTS’ or GSM’s circuit-switched service. It’s range is also limited by the overall uplink performance. However, MIMO antennas are expected to improve VoLTE’s uplink performance.

Summary

It was a pleasure to meet with so many representatives from both operators and vendors and hear their insights. To answer to the current needs of the industry, we developed combined 2G/4G software-defined radio systems. Our SatSite macro base station will support GSM and LTE independently, as well as at the same time, using a common radio access. This event was a confirmation that we are on the right track, as mixed 2G/4G networks are the future of mobile networks.

A snapshot of SS7ware at IoT Evolution Expo in Las Vegas

SS7ware was at IoT Evolution Expo in Las Vegas last week – if you haven’t been around to see us, here’s a recap of the most important events.

It was great to see so many companies, including manufacturers, mobile operators, M2M platform companies, developers, service providers, gathered to discuss innovation, management, and security in the M2M and IoT ecosystem.

Through 4 days of keynote presentations, panel discussions, exhibitor booths, live demos, and case studies, we also had a lot on our plates, as you can see in the gallery below.

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CEO Diana Cionoiu was invited to take part in the ‘Carrier Aggregation for Public Transport’ panel which took place Wednesday, discussing the possibilities to create a new experience for public transportation using the bandwidth capabilities in LTE and LTE-Advanced.

SS7ware also made it to the AT&T Fast Pitch finals, where we could talk about our software-defined mobile network solution among a variety of other innovative ideas bringing IoT to both businesses and individuals. Two interviews for the TMC team for their website, and a live SatSite demo were also on our list. Everyone around the Exhibit Hall on Tuesday had the chance to watch devices connected to SatSite work seamlessly. We simply plugged it in to make a GSM phone call between the two registered devices; all in the blink of an eye.

To wrap up, thanks to the TMC team for doing an amazing job organizing the event! Here are some take-aways to keep us focused on IoT/M2M developments in the near future:

  • when it comes to connecting the home, security is of utmost importance
  • connecting ‘everything’ comes with increased responsibility and safety challenges
  • new players like Google, Amazon, or Facebook are reshaping the ecosystem
  • who does what in the new business environment

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