ASTRI presents keynote presentation on Smart Mobility in the 5G era at high-level telecommunication industry forum

  • ASTRI took part in the ‘Hong Kong 5G Industry Forum 2018’ organised by the Communications Association of Hong Kong (CAHK) on 12 June 2018. The Forum addressed Hong Kong’s 5G development roadmap and the crucial roles to be played by different ecosystem players to support the Government’s Smart City and 5G development plans. Dr MeiKei Ieong, ASTRI’s Chief Technology Officer, presented a use-case keynote on 5G Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) technology at the Forum.

    Mr Chaucer Leung, Deputy Director General (Telecommunications) of the HKSAR Government’s Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA) presented a keynote titled ‘Gearing up for ushering in the 5G era’. Mr Leung covered key issues including 5G spectrum availability, the proposed auction for spectrum allocation, utilisation of various spectrum bands, and measures to ensure a smooth and non-disruptive introduction of 5G services. He spoke about the utilisation of the C-band 3.4~4.2 GHz spectrum that are used by other services such as Satellite-based television broadcasting as well as Hong Kong’s two Telemetry, Tracking and Control Stations for the SAR’s 12 satellites which orbit the Earth. It is worth mentioning that ASTRI, in partnership with Rohde & Schwarz, recently completed a consultancy study for OFCA on mitigating measures to enable satellite-based television and 5G services to co-exist on the 3.5 GHz band spectrum.

    In his presentation, Dr Ieong focused on the latest developments in the ‘Connected Vehicles’ ecosystem and shared some perspectives from industry bodies like the global 5G Automotive Association. Explaining the software and hardware architecture of the Smart Mobility solution developed by ASTRI in collaboration with other industry players, he told the audience that ATSRI’s C-V2X Networking System has already been demonstrated to support the 3GPP Release 14 (LTE based V2X). It will also comply with the upcoming Release 15 supporting the 5G standards evolution.

    The event included a Panel Discussion on ‘How the mobile industry is enabling 5G and Smart City Innovation in HK’. The panellists and other keynote speakers at the event represented leading industry players from Asia-Pacific and beyond including, SK Telecom of Korea, Huawei, Hong Kong Smart City Consortium, China Mobile, HKT, SmarTone, Hutchison and GSM Association.

     

    Next Generation Network Infographic Leaflet (2017)

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    FastGate Networking Stack

  • Solution for Critical Performance Challenges for Packet Processing and Future SDN

    Industry Challenges

    Since the introduction of WiFi, 3G and LTE, the demand for wireless data has been growing very rapidly. The network performance of wireless access network infrastructure (such as WiFi access controller, LTE EPC) is critical because all user packet data require sophisticated protocols and packet processing (such as L2/L3 tunneling, packet inspection/classifications, QoS control, etc).

    Achieving high throughput and linear scalability are the key challenges that network infrastructure equipment vendors are facing. However, networking stack software and framework that are flexible enough to build different network infrastructure equipment with high performance and scalability are very limited in the market.

    FastGate Network Introduction

    FastGate Network is a well-designed network processing framework with software modules which can be used to build high performance networking equipment. FastGate Network offers the following unique features:

    Optimized for Multi-Core Scalability
    FastGate framework supports lock free packet processing to deliver linear scalability on multi-core processors. Multi-core communication (MCC) enables reliable communications and lock free synchronization between cores.

    Ready for Customized Packet Processing R&D
    FastGate framework includes standard L2 and L3 packet processing modules. Customized packet processing modules can be supported easily in isolated manner. FastGate can effectively reduce time-to-market and development cost.

    Superior Performance
    FastGate can reach line speed packet processing (“physical limit of the interface”) with extremely low latency and can scale linearly. It fully utilizes the interfaces and packet processing power of the hardware. FastGate is at least 10X faster than Linux, and more reliable and scalable.

    Innovative
    There are many innovative design and techniques in FastGate implementation to address high performance, capacity and flexibility requirements.

    Hardware and Platform Agnostics
    FastGate not only supports different networking hardware platforms. Vendor specific features like Cavium POW are often not trivial to use, but FastGate makes it more straightforward. FastGate is also Linux compatible.

    FastGate Applications

    FastGate has been used as the data plane for many networking equipment, and potentially for many others.

    Wireless Infrastructure Equipments
    LTE EPC (Packet Data Network Gateway, Serving Gateway), WiMAX ASN-GW and WiFi access controllers have sophisticated packet processing requirements (e.g. per-connection QoS, mobility, tunneling). ASTRI’s LTE EPC, WiMAX ASN-GW, WiFi + 4G convergence gateway are built using the same FastGate framework.

    Security Appliances
    Carrier grade IPSec security gateway/firewall can support more than 500K users. ASTRI IPSec Security Gateway is one of them.

    Network Appliance
    FastGate includes optimized L2/L3 which can deliver line speed L2/L3 functions like VLAN, trunk, bridging and routing.

    SDN/Network Virtualization
    Network virtualization (such as OpenFlow) is the trend for data center networking. FastGate architecture can be adapted to SDN based networks.

    FastGate Architecture

    • FastPath – Dedicated for packet processing to ensure highest performance
    • SlowPath – Manages protocol states and performs controls
    • Multi-Core Communications – Enables lock free and reliable communications between cores, fast/slow paths, Linux kernel
    FastGate high level architecture
    ASTRI’s FastGate high level architecture

    Hardware and Software Platforms

    • Data Plane Processor
      • Cavium 58xx or 68xx based
      • OS: Cavium Simple Executable + Cavium Linux/Carrier Grade Windriver Linux
    • Hardware Platform
      • Radisys ATCA 7220, 7240 (Cavium 58XX/68XX based)

    Licensing

    ASTRI’s FastGate provides two licensing options:
    • OEM Licensing: Only binaries provided + support/upgrade
    • Source Licensing: Source code provided

    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.

     

     

    LTE Network Management Suite

  • End-to-End, Multi-Vendor, Multi-Layer LTE Management Benefits

    ASTRI’s LTE Management System (LTENMS) helps network operators monitor LTE services effectively:

    End-to-End
    ASTRI LTENMS can manage LTE base stations, IP/MPLS based transports and the core networks (EPC). Operators can have a centralized view of the whole network, instead of islands of equipment.

    Multi-Vendor
    Managing multi-vendor network has been a challenge for operators. ASTRI LTENMS can easily support monitoring equipment and services from different vendors.

    Multi-Layer
    The LTE service relies not only on the LTE network equipment (like base stations), but also the transport equipment. When there is a LTE service outage, operator can analyze the issues at different layers to determine the root cause. At the same time, a fault correlated with the service impacts can be identified.

    LTENMS overview
    ASTRI’s LTENMS overview

    Management System Platform and Overall Architecture

    ASTRI’s Management System Platform provides a module based architecture to support multi-vendor equipment with the following standard management features:

    • Web Based GUI
    • SNMP/Telnet/SSH/TR069 Protocols
    • Group + Role Based Access Controls
    • Inventory, Hardware/Shelf Panel Display, Topology Management
    • Redundancy
    Alarms Management
    Alarms Management
    Group Based Access Controls
    Group Based Access Controls

     

    Besides the standard features, ASTRI’s Management System Platform supports different Management Service Bundle (MSB) to extend management functionalities:

    LTE Core Management Service Bundle

    LTE Core Management provides managing LTE network elements and logical entities:

    LTE Logical Path
    Illustrates logical paths (S1, S10, S11, S5) between LTE eNB and elements in EPC

    Per-User Path
    Isolates the logical and physical path of an individual mobile user (signaling path and data path)

    LTE Service Status
    Based on reports and alarms

    Fault Analysis
    Determines the service impacts when there is a fault, e.g. number of base stations, and number of users being aftected

    LTE Small Cell (HeMS) Management Service Bundle

    LTE HeMS MSB provides a high degree of automation in managing small cell LTE base stations, using TR069 protocols:

    Automatic and Profile Based Provisioning
    LTE Small Cell base stations can be automatically configured when it is powered on

    SON Features
    Automatic Physical Cell (PCI) assignment and more will be added, such as eICIC configurations

    HeNB Configuration Management
    HeNB Configuration Management

    Licensing

    ASTRI’s Small Cell Access Solution provides two licensing options:
    • OEM Licensing: Only binaries provided + support/upgrade
    • Source Licensing: Source code provided

    Next Generation Small Cells

  • Centralised-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.

     

    Key Features

    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.

     

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

     

    ASTRI’s C-RAN Reference Design

    ASTRI is developing a C-RAN reference design which includes baseband pools and basic L2/L3 blocks for end-to-end networking to support:

    (i) multiple cells with carrier aggregation (CA) which enables flexible bandwidth configuration for higher throughput,

    (ii) dynamic cell combine and split with reduced operation expense and network optimisation, and

    (iii) advanced MIMO techniques to improve spectrum efficiency and reliability. The deliverables include L1 link level simulation platform for the DL and UL transceivers, a commercial grade BBU pool reference design of C-RAN and a complete test infrastructure to verify and validate 3GPP requirements.

     

    ASTRI C-RAN specifications

    Features C-RAN PHY
    Standard 3GPP release 10
    Bandwidth 5 , 10, 15, 20 MHz
    Duplexing FDD, TDD (All UL-DL configuration and special sub-frame configuration)
    # of users 256 users per sector
    16 UEs/TTI
    Cell Size Up to 10 km
    Mobility Up to 160 km/h
    Throughput DL: 300Mbps per sector
    UL: 150Mbps per sector
    UE support Category 1 to 6
    Synchronization GPS, 1588v2
    Advanced features CA
    4×4 MIMO
    Beam-forming (TM7 and TM8)

    C-RAN

    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

    LTE Machine Type Communications (MTC) Baseband Technologies

  • This project develops LTE machine type communications (MTC) baseband technologies in order to address the high demand for MTC applications in the near future. It is projected that LTE MTC will have a large variety of applications such as smart city infrastructure, tracking and tracing, payment, and metering. These applications create many technical challenges, namely, user equipment (UE) cost reduction, coverage extension, massive number of devices per base station, and diverse traffic requirements.

    This project provides solutions to the technology needs of LTE MTC UE. Specifically, the project deliverables include:

    (1)Baseband and MAC simulation platform supporting baseline LTE-R9 UEs and MTC UEs.

    (2)LTE MTC UE reference design implemented on a commercially available SoC device

    (3)Test infrastructure to verify and validate 3GPP requirements

    (4)One patent application on LTE MTC baseband technology. The key LTE MTC UE baseband and MAC technologies include (1) Integration with LTE-R9 UE model (2) Low power Cat 0 UE design (3) Single antenna port, single layer transmission and reception (4) TDD, FDD, and HD-FDD modes (5) Diversity processing of PBCH and PRACH signals for coverage extension. (6) TTI bundling, SPS, and QoS scheduling for signaling overhead reduction, and traffic adaptation.

    Category-0 MTC UE prototype specification

    Parameter Specification
    Silicon Freescale BSC9132
    Standards 3GPP Release 12 (software upgrade to support upcoming Release 13)
    Bandwidth 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15, 20MHz
    Duplexing FDD, TDD (All UL-DL configuration and special sub-frame configuration)
    MIMO DL: 2×2, 4×2
    UL: 1×2, 2×2
    Category Support UE category 0 to 4
    MTC R12 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))

    Open Broadband Wireless Innovation Platform

  • ASTRI has developed LTE technologies in various areas such as baseband, RF system, and core network software, and become one of the leaders in providing LTE technologies. This project develops an Open Broadband Wireless Innovation Platform (WIP) through integration of ASTRI and 3rd party’s technologies and products for the purposes of providing a (configurable) network environment for system development, integration and verification for commercialization;

    The deliverables of this project include:

    (1)deployment of an LTE small cell network in both indoor and outdoor environment with Self-Organizing Network (SON) capability,

    (2)Integration of WiFi APs and a WiFi/LTE Convergence Gateway with a policy based traffic offloading function,

    (3)Active Antenna System (AAS) beam forming configuration and testing.

    (4)Application reference cases: smart street lights, video surveillance, and smart home

    Moving forward, this WIP will be evolved to become an Open 5G Innovation Platform, with advanced technologies including C-RAN, Mobile Edge Computing, Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) based EPC and applications (e.g. VR, IoV management).

    Virtualisation for 4G and Beyond Mobile Networks

  • Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) is a major direction in telecom industry. Network Virtualisation decouples hardware and software in network equipment. By doing so, the network functions are implemented as software and deployed on top of general purpose hardware platforms. It offers significant flexibility to provision the infrastructure with different services including 4G, WiFi, and next generation services. In addition, it reduces capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx).

    ASTRI’s Research on NFV

    ASTRI provides a spectrum of commercial and carrier grade LTE core network software.  ASTRI is currently enabling Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) for our LTE core network software.

    Our R&D Focus:

    • Performance Optimisation: Unlike deploying directly on hardware, the performance and throughput would be impacted by the NFV infrastructure and hypervisor.  ASTRI focuses on optimising networking stack, as well as pinpointing and resolving the performance bottlenecks resulting from the NFV infrastructure.
    • High Availability (HA): Traditionally, HA is implemented based on specialized hardware platforms. With NFV, a software based approach will be taken instead.
    • Open Platform and Standard: Focus on open standards (e.g. OPNFV, ONP) and architecture (e.g. ETSI NFV architecture)

    The project aims to research, develop and integrate LTE network subsystems on mainstream open standard NFV platforms (including WindRiver, Open Platform NFV – OPNFV etc) and be manageable by mainstream NFV orchestrators, with carrier grade performance and high availability capabilities.

    Project Deliverables:

    (1) Virtualised Evolved Packet Core (EPC) software

    (2) Virtualised LTE Small Cell Gateway software

    (3) Virtualised Security Gateway software

    (4) Virtualised WiFi/4G Convergence Gateway software

    (5) Virtualised LTE Small Cell Management software

    (6) Virtualised Network Protocol Stacks Software

    (7) (a) System integration and verifications and (b) NFV Platform Establishment and Enhancement, Integrations

    ASTRI’s Collaboration on NFV

    ASTRI is actively collaborating with major players in the ecosystem of NFV technologies:

    Contributor to open standards, e.g. (https://wiki.opnfv.org/dpacc)

    Collaboration with commercial grade NFV platforms (http://www.windriver.com.cn/announces/titanium_cloud_partner_program/ Simplified Chinese only.)

    Demonstrations: China Mobile, ASTRI and Sunnada to jointly demonstrate Network Function Virtualization for LTE Nanocell at Mobile World Congress – ASTRI ASTRI

    NFV White Paper

    Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) for Next Generation Networks (NGN)