Open 5G Innovation Platform

  • This project is one of ASTRI’s many Next Generation Network (NGN) initiatives. It aims to develop an Open 5G Innovation Platform (5GIP) that will accomplish the following:

    (1) Demonstrate the business potential and technological viability of ASTRI’s 5G technologies to the industry for commercialisation;
    (2) Enable end-to-end solutions by working with eco-system partners for integration and inter-operability testing of 5G applications in a real network environment; and
    (3) Incubate and inspire design innovations in Hong Kong – for instance, to support different ongoing initiatives in the SAR such as the ‘Smart City Innovation Centre’ in Hong Kong Science Park.

    5GIP will focus on the software-configurability of the network through the integration of technologies and products, from ASTRI and 3rd parties. It will develop network orchestration and network slicing features. 5GIP will be an integral part of ASTRI’s NGN initiative – supporting sustained innovation and successful commercialisation.

    ASTRI has been a pioneer in developing LTE/4G technologies – earning it the recognition as one of the leaders in this sector. ASTRI strives to research, develop and commercialise leading-edge 5G technologies to provide innovative and value-added applications and services. This project will deliver an advanced 5G network environment to support collaboration between ASTRI and the local community for developing innovative and competitive products. In addition, this platform will help to advance the technical capability and competitiveness of the communications industry in Hong Kong, the Mainland and beyond.

    Next Generation Mission Critical Communications

  • Mission critical systems are defined as those whose breakdown may result in the failure of vitally important elements of a process, affecting the core purpose of that system. Next generation mission critical communications systems are therefore designed to ensure that communications infrastructure are extremely reliable especially for ultra-low latency broadband traffic delivery. Such communication systems are expected to be relevant for many future applications such as industrial control, transportation, healthcare, disaster rescue, and general trade and commerce. Among many emerging applications, there is a strong demand for public safety in private networks.

    To support the evolution of ASTRI’s technology endeavours, while leveraging its expertise in LTE small cells and terminals, the institute plans to develop next generation mission critical communications mobile cells and terminal reference design. These will integrate new system blocks with latest Baseband design and Protocol stack algorithms to support a set of new features. These features include:

    a) Mobile cell self-configuration, which enable the discovery of neighbouring mobile cells and runtime synchronisation to whatever sync sources with high reliability;
    b) LTE based B-TrunC BS (broadband trunking communication base station), where one-to-many low latency broadband communication is enabled in eNB (Evolved NodeB, i.e., base station), following CCSA B-TrunC specification.
    c) D2D (Device-to-Device) sidelink physical layer, where the LTE 3GPP Rel.13 D2D sidelink physical layer is designed and implemented to support device to device direct communications, which can avoid the latency through core network, saving bandwidth when two devices are nearby and allowing communications when there is no infrastructure support. This is of particular importance in times of disaster.
    d) Self-contained base station for public safety, where EPC (Evolved Packet Core, i.e., core network) and eNB are integrated on CRAN platform with OpenStack virtual machine control to support a One-Box standalone mobile access solution. Layered optimisation will be performed to achieve ultra-low end-to-end latency.

    The project deliverables include L1 (Layer 1) link level simulation platform for LTE D2D sidelink, a commercial grade mobile cell reference design on commercially available SoC devices, and a complete test infrastructure to validate 3GPP and private network requirements.

    Smart Indoor and Outdoor Geographic Information System

  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next evolution of the internet after the mobile internet. While BLE (or next generation of communication technologies such as Lora/NB-IoT) and GPS are well-suited technology to build up IoT applications and systems, integrated indoor and outdoor GIS systems are critical to realize the potential of IoT. This will impact the operation of society in a large scale paving the next wave of innovations and economic activities.

    A major challenge of GIS systems is scalability during large scale deployment. The software would need to accommodate tremendous amount of networking traffic triggered by millions of devices and mobile users. Message queue technology is used to address the scalability issue of the cloud for massive loading. In addition, it could also be used to increase the network bandwidth efficiency for IoT data.

    In order for GIS systems to be useful in the IoT context, this system consolidate both indoor and outdoor information in a seamless presentation. These information come from various different sources; outdoor information come from GPS or A-GPS, and indoor information usually come from BLE, Wi-Fi, and magnetic measurements. Also, the system has an interface to big data analytic platforms such as Hadoop.

    The system is capable to manage multi-site geo-locations, massive users and IoT devices, and also real time proximity and IoT sensors data. The associated security and access right control of the system have also been developed.

    Finally, trials will be deployed in Kowloon East to demonstrate the developed technologies. Know-how and technology in the area of scalable indoor and outdoor GIS will also be transferred to related government departments.

     

     

    C-RAN

  • Cloud-RAN

    C-RAN is a centralised, cloud based new cellular network architecture that can be adopted by telecom operators to improve their quality of service with reduced capital expenditures (CAPEX), operating expenditure (OPEX), and energy consumption. ASTRI is developing a flexible and high system performance C-RAN solution to fulfil demanding industrial requirements.

    Flexible C-RAN architecture

    ASTRI’s C-RAN architecture is based on standard FAPI PS-PHY interface, which can easily integrate with commercial PS software. FAPI is a standard interface proposed by Small Cell Forum, which was adopted by most of the commercially available PS and PHY solutions for LTE/LTE-A base stations. Tasks partitioning for the server and remote units in C-RAN determines the trade-off between enhancing centralised coordination and reducing front haul throughput. ASTRI modular PHY processing architecture provides the flexibility to adopt different partitioning requirements depending on the deployment scenarios.

     Multi-cell coordination

    Our C-RAN provides new centralised baseband processing capability that realises advanced multi-cell coordinated algorithm. The algorithms, such as Coordinated Multipoint (CoMP), Inter-Cell-Interference (ICI) mitigation, and Active Antenna System (AAS) beam-selection, reduce inter-cell-interference and enhance spectral reuse with small cell size and heterogeneous networks deployment topologies. This has significantly increased the average system spectral efficiency.

    Server side load balancing

    Centralised processing units in C-RAN enables dynamic computational resources allocation. The processing entities for each cell are dynamically grouped and allocated to server side processors. During low traffic period, the system can shut down the redundant processors or switch the processing power to support other applications. This reduces energy consumptions and increases hardware utilisation of the computation units.

    P10

    ASTRI flexible C-RAN architecture with centralized PHY and PS coordination

    ASTRI C-RAN specifications

    FeaturesC-RAN PHY
    Standard3GPP release 10
    Bandwidth5 , 10, 15, 20 MHz
    DuplexingFDD, TDD (All UL-DL configuration and special sub-frame configuration)
    # of users256 users per sector
    16 UEs/TTI
    Cell SizeUp to 10 km
    MobilityUp to 160 km/h
    Throughput DL: 300Mbps per sector
    UL: 150Mbps per sector
    UE support Category 1 to 6
    SynchronizationGPS, 1588v2
    Advanced featuresCA
    4x4 MIMO
    Beam-forming (TM7 and TM8)

    5G Radio Access Technology

  • ASTRI is actively contributing to national 5G standardisation initiatives such as China Mobile FuTURE Forum, 5GPPP, and NGMN. In particular, ASTRI’s research focus in 5G radio access technologies covers the following 6 areas:

    Massive MIMO

    ASTRI’s massive MIMO research primarily addresses the following issues:

    • Reference signal design and channel estimation algorithms for centralised massive MIMO systems.
    • Interference mitigation in distributed massive MIMO systems.
    • User scheduling and beamforming methods with statistical/instantaneous channel knowledge.

     Centralised Radio Access Network (C-RAN)

    C-RAN is a centralised, cloud based new cellular network architecture that can be adopted by telecom operators to improve their quality of service with reduced capital expenditure (CAPEX), operating expenditure (OPEX), and energy consumption. ASTRI is developing flexible and high system performance C-RAN solution to fulfil the demanding industrial requirements.

    ASTRI proposed C-RAN architecture is based on the standard FAPI PS-PHY interface, which can easily integrate with commercial protocol stack (PS) software. ASTRI modular PHY processing architecture provides the flexibility to adopt different partitioning requirements for the server and remote unit depending on the deployment scenarios. For more information, please click C-RAN

    Ultra-Dense Network (UDN)

    In UDN, low-powered cells are densely deployed for enhancing system capacity and coverage while reducing latency and energy consumption. ASTRI’s UDN research focuses are:

    • Network architecture for control and user plane splitting.
    • User mobility management and cellular load balancing algorithms.
    • Interference mitigation methodologies, including inter-cell synchronisation and coordination, cell discovery, and receiver algorithms for interference cancellation/suppression.

    Device-to-device Communication (D2D)

    D2D is a technology that allows user equipment to directly communicate with each other with or without cellular coverage. Since D2D may operate without cellular coverage, it is suitable for low latency and robust communication between users within proximity of each other. ASTRI’s D2D research focuses to address the following issues:

    • Transceiver algorithms for user discovery and direct communication.
    • Mesh network algorithms.

    Emerging Systems for Efficient/Dynamic Spectrum Utilisation

    ASTRI is conducting research on the following two areas:

    • TV white space (TVWS): TVWS is an unused television broadcast spectrum resource that can be utilised through spectrum sharing. ASTRI is currently investigating the technical feasibility of adopting TVWS technology in Hong Kong, and has developed LTE-based TVWS infrastructure equipment.
    • Licensed-assisted access (LAA): LAA is the operation to aggregate a primary cell by using licensed spectrum to deliver critical information and guaranteed Quality of Service, and a co-located secondary cell by unlicensed spectrum, to opportunistically boost data rate. ASTRI’s LAA research seeks to address the following issues:
      • Inter-radio access technology interference mitigation.
      • Sensing, synchronisation, and measurement algorithms for dynamic spectrum access.

    4G/LTE, LTE-Advanced Baseband Solutions

  • ASTRI is one of the worldwide pioneers in LTE and beyond standard compliant communications technologies including baseband and upper layer protocol stacks. In collaboration with industry partners, we delivered the world’s first commercial grade FDD/TDD dual mode LTE small cell and TD-LTE terminal baseband core reference designs. Our reference designs are industry proven, having passed interoperability tests with infrastructure vendors and operators. In particular, we enable partners to pass through a leading operator’s stringent tender tests on small cells and terminals.

    LTE/LTE-advanced small cell solutions

    ASTRI is developing the next generation of LTE and LTE-Advanced small cells based on a variety of highly integrated SoC platforms.

    P.5

    ASTRI’s commercial LTE Small Cell supports TD-LTE and LTE FDD standards

    LTE small cell specification

    ParameterSpecification
    Silicon Freescale BSC9131/BSC9132
    Broadcom BCM61735/BCM61755
    Standards3GPP Release 9
    Bandwidth 5, 10, 15, 20MHz
    Duplexing FDD and TDD (All UL-DL conf., All special sub-frame conf.)
    Cell sizeUp to 10 km
    MobilityUp to 100 km/h
    ModulationDL/UL (QPSK, 16QAM and 64QAM)
    Users/TTI16
    DL Throughputs Up to 150 kbits per sub-frame
    UL ThroughputsUp to 75 kbits per sub-frame
    MIMO 2x2
    UE Support UE category 1 to 4
    Stack Interface Defined FAPI messages, Integrated with commercial 3rd party stacks
    Radio Interface ADI (JESD207 interface)
    SnifferLTE/TD-SCDMA/GSM

    From microcell and DAS to C-RAN

    ASTRI is extending small cell technologies to micro cell, and applying distributed antenna system (DAS) to extend signal coverage on isolated spots in both indoor and outdoor environments.

    LTE micro cell specification

    ParameterSpecification
    SiliconFreescale B4860
    Standards3GPP Release 10
    Bandwidth 5, 10, 15, 20MHz
    Sectors3 sectors for up to 2 Tx
    2 sectors for up to 8 Tx
    Carrier AggregationSupported
    Duplexing FDD, TDD (All UL-DL configuration and special sub-frame configuration)
    Cell sizeUp to 10 km
    MobilityUp to 160 km/h
    ModulationDL/UL (QPSK, 16QAM and 64QAM)
    Users/TTI20
    DL Throughputs 300 kbits per sub-frame for each sector
    UL Throughputs100 kbits per sub-frame for each sector
    MIMO8 Tx, 4 Rx
    UE Support UE category 1 to 6
    Stack Interface Defined FAPI messages
    Radio Interface CPRI v4.2

    Terminal solutions for IoT & Proximity Server

    ASTRI is developing the next generation of LTE and LTE-Advanced terminal to support machine type communications (MTC) and device-to-device (D2D) communications. Software defined radio (SDR) methodology is adopted, which makes our solutions flexible for different hardware platforms and technology evolution.

    Category-0 MTC UE prototype specification

    ParameterSpecification
    Silicon Freescale BSC9132
    Standards3GPP Release 12 (software upgrade to support upcoming Release 13)
    Bandwidth 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20MHz
    DuplexingFDD, TDD (All UL-DL configuration and special sub-frame configuration)
    MIMO DL: 2x2, 4x2
    UL: 1x2, 2x2
    Category Support UE category 0 to 4
    MTCR12 category 0 UE
    (Software upgrade to support upcoming R13 eMTC features)
    Pro-Se R12 Pro-Se (D2D)
    (Software upgrade to support upcoming R13 ePro-Se (eD2D))

    P.6

    ASTRI MTC UE prototype live demonstrated in Mobile World Congress 2015, Shanghai.

    LTE Core Network Software

  • ASTRI offers a spectrum of commercial and carrier grade LTE core network software for building end-to-end LTE infrastructure. The LTE core network software has been deployed in live public (telecom operators) and private (vertical application, trial sites) networks.

    ASTRI LTE core network software supports x86 based hardware platform. It not only reduces the hardware cost, but also provides high throughput.  To ensure the LTE service is always available, high availability features are supported so that when hardware or network failure occurs, the system can fail over to another hardware instantly with no impact to services.

    ASTRI is currently enabling Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for our LTE core network software.  In the near future, our networking software can be deployed on top of third party NFV infrastructures.

    ASTRI LTE core network software is solely developed and owned by ASTRI, from data plane protocol stack software (FastGate), signaling protocols and framework, to the higher layer signaling procedures.  ASTRI offers flexible licensing options to industry partners.

    Technologies

    Evolved Packet Core (EPC)

  • ASTRI’s has developed 3GPP standard compliant Evolved Packet Core software. EPC is the core network component in LTE networks. The innovative architecture enables high degree of flexibility in deployment and scalability, which allows adaptations to suitable application scenarios, including evolution towards Software Defined Network (SDN) enabled LTE networks in the future.

    Key Features and Benefits

    Mobility Management Entity (MME)

    • UE mobility and session management, NAS security, authentication, tracking area list management, handover (S1, X2), paging, etc.
    • Embedded HSS/PCRF (N/A if billing enabled)
    • Redundancy: N+1

    Packet Gateways (SGW and PGW)

    • Mobility anchor, per-user packet filtering, packet forwarding, dedicated bearers, rate enforcement
    • (AMBR, MBR), accounting (usage records), IPv4, IPv6, IPv4/v6, etc.
    • Configuration option: SGW and PGW can be combined (for small networks) or separated by configuration
    • Redundancy: 1+1

    System Management

    • CLI/Telnet management console
    • HTTP web interface System Management for hardware, blades, chassis, redundancy management, etc.
    • Service Management for EPC software services, network configurations, etc.
    • Hardware and Software Platforms
    • ASTRI’s EPC software can run on various platforms:
    • Control Plane Processor
    • Intel x86 based
    • OS: Redhat Linux or Carrier Grade Windriver Linux

    Data Plane Processor

    • Cavium 58xx or 68xx based
    • OS: Cavium Simple Executable + Cavium Linux/Carrier Grade Windriver Linux

    Internet of Things Management and Application Platform with Boardband Wireless

  • This project developed an Internet of Things (IoT) Management and Application Platform (IMAP). The IMAP enabling solutions are missing or only in prototype quality (i.e. not reliable, not scalable, and lack of security).

    Every street light is a standalone entity with its own solar panel and battery (i.e. no wires attached) and thus cannot be controlled and monitored remotely. Using wireless sensor network (WSN) technologies, the solar street lights can form a local area sensor network. With an IoT gateway device and the wireless broadband access such as LTE, the solar street lights can be managed and controlled remotely by the IoT management platform. The direct benefits of the IoT management platform would be the capability to monitor the street light components (such as solar panel, batteries, power, current etc) and to control the street lights (for examples, on/off, dimming etc) remotely.

    In addition, the IoT solution can bring impacts in terms of energy savings, low construction cost, environment protection and low operational and maintenance cost. In fact, when this project is completed, similar applications such as environment monitoring, video surveillance, river management, water quality monitoring etc can be developed quickly once the interested industry partners are identified.

    The project deliverables are:

    i)a commercial IoT gateway and management platform to provide management capability to different types of IoT devices flexibly and reliably;

    ii)Application solution: solar/wind powered device management applications (solar street light management and green energy device management).