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MWC: Qualcomm announces 5G key findings

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This year’s Mobile World Conference saw Qualcomm announce key findings from a 5G network simulation it has conducted over the past several months.

The Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G Network Capacity Simulation demonstrated the significant potential of 5G, by yielding quantitative insights into the expected real-world performance and user experience of 5G and Gigabit LTE devices, operating in Non-Standalone (NSA) multimode 4G/5G NR networks. The findings also provide quantitative support for the significant gains in capacity that can be realized by 5G NR over 4G LTE, as the industry prepares for the first wave of 5G networks and devices in the first half of 2019.

“There is a lot of interest from various stakeholders in the mobile ecosystem – cloud platform providers, application developers, device OEMs, and others – in understanding the real-world performance that 5G NR mobile networks and devices will deliver,” said Alex Holcman, senior vice president of engineering, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. “We undertook this comprehensive study to help the ecosystem prepare for the foray into 5G, so that application developers, for example, can begin planning new experiences and services for users with 5G devices.”

Two separate sets of simulations were conducted. The first one, modeled a NSA 5G NR network in Frankfurt, Germany, operating on 100 MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, with an underlying Gigabit LTE network operating across 5 LTE spectrum bands. The second simulation modeled a hypothetical NSA 5G NR network in San Francisco, California, operating in 800 MHz of 28 GHz mmWave spectrum, with an underlying Gigabit LTE network operating across 4 licensed LTE spectrum bands plus License Assisted Access (LAA) bands. In both simulations, existing cell site locations in Frankfurt and San Francisco were used, where 5G NR cell sites are co-located with actual, existing LTE sites.

The Frankfurt simulation showcased a downlink capacity increase of up to 5x when migrating from an LTE-only network, with a mix of LTE devices of various capabilities, to a 5G NR network with multi-mode 5G NR devices and an increased mix of advanced Gigabit LTE devices. This simulation also yielded compelling evidence of the benefits of Massive MIMO technology, with median spectral efficiency increase of up to 4x on 3.5 GHz spectrum.

Beyond network capacity improvements, the simulation also demonstrated significant user experience gains for 5G NR capable devices when compared with LTE devices, including:

  • Browsing download speeds increasing from 56 Mbps for the median 4G user to more than 490 Mbps for the median 5G user, a gain of approximately 900 percent
  • Approximately 7x faster responsiveness, with median browsing download latency reduced from 116ms to 17ms
  • File download speeds of 100 Mbps for the 10th percentile 5G user, meaning that 90 percent of 5G users have download speeds of more than 100 Mbps. This is compared to 8 Mbps for the 10th percentile LTE user.
  • Median streaming video quality increasing from 2K/30 FPS/8-bit color for LTE users to 8K/120 FPS/10-bit color and beyond for 5G users.

The San Francisco simulation, on the other hand, provided the first glimpse of the impact of the significantly increased capacity afforded by 800 MHz of additional mmWave spectrum on real-world user experience. Key findings included:

  • Browsing download speeds increasing from 71 Mbps for the median 4G user to 1.4 Gbps for the median 5G user in mmWave coverage, a gain of approximately 2000 percent
  • Approximately 23x faster responsiveness, with median browsing download latency reduced from 115ms to 4.9ms
  • File download speeds of more than 186 Mbps for 90 percent of 5G users, compared to 10 Mbps for LTE, a 1,826 percent gain. The median 5G file download speed was 442 Mbps.
  • Median streaming video quality increasing from 2K/30 FPS/8-bit color for LTE users to 8K/120 FPS/10-bit color and beyond for 5G users.

The results from the 5G Network Capacity Simulation lend credence to the promise of 5G, with expected real-world performance that is substantially better than what is currently possible with 4G across multiple metrics. The findings also illustrate that these emerging 5G networks will have the capacity and performance to support a whole host of new services and experiences beyond the traditional categories of browsing, downloading, and streaming. With 18 global operators and 20 leading device makers selecting the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ X50 5G modem for the first wave of 5G network trials and consumer devices, the stage is set for these incredible 5G user experiences to come to user’s hands in the first half of 2019.

About the Simulation Methodology

The 5G Network Capacity Simulation builds on Qualcomm Technologies’ unique capabilities to accurately model and simulate cellular systems.

The Simulation utilized existing base station locations with the 5G NR cell sites co-located with existing LTE cell sites. Around 14,000 user devices, of various capabilities, were randomly distributed across the network with approximately 50 percent of the users indoor and 50 percent of the users outdoor. The mixture of devices, capabilities of devices, and spectrum bands/bandwidths utilized by the devices were all chosen based on anticipated commercial deployments for LTE-only and NSA 5G NR networks in the 2019 timeframe. The simulation showcased different traffic patterns based on a representative mixture of mobile applications including browsing, cloud storage downloading, and adaptive bitrate video streaming.

The simulations were based on modeling of the physical base stations and their RF capabilities, including Massive MIMO capability for 5G NR sub-6 GHz utilizing up to 256 antennas, and 5G NR mmWave beamforming utilizing antenna panels with 256 elements. The LTE-only traffic is modeled utilizing 4 antennas at the base station. The propagation between the base stations and the devices was modeled based on detailed 3D urban microcell and urban microcell models that include path loss, shadowing, diffraction, building penetration loss, and more, making use of the extensive over-the-air testing and channel measurements conducted by Qualcomm Technologies. To ensure the simulations reflect real-world mobile environments, they included modeling of interference from cells that were simultaneously serving different users, including accounting for Wi-Fi users to realistically model the use of LTE in unlicensed spectrum (LAA).

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Samsung in lock-step with its rivals?

Tonight Samsung will kick off the next round in the smartphone wars with the S10 range, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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When Samsung unveils the new S10 smartphone at an event in San Francisco today, it will mark the beginning of the 2019 round of World War S. That stands for smartphone wars, although Samsung would like it to be all about the S.

Ever since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung has held both technology and thought leadership in the handset world. Back then, Apple’s iPhone 5 was the last device from the American manufacturer that could lay claim to being the best smartphone in the world. With the 2013 launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple entered an era of incremental improvement, playing catch-up, and succumbing to market trends driven by its competitors.

Six years later, Samsung is fighting off the same threat. Its Chinese rival, Huawei, suddenly wrested away leadership in the past year, with the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro regarded as at last equal to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 – if not superior. Certainly, from a cost perspective, Huawei took the lead with its more competitive prices, and therefore more value for money.

Huawei also succeeded where Apple failed: introducing more economical versions of its flagship phones. The iPhone 5c, SE and XR have all been disappointments in the sales department, mainly because the price difference was not massive enough to attract lower-income users. In contrast, the Lite editions of the Huawei P9, P10 and P20 have been huge successes, especially in South Africa.

Today, for the first time in half a decade, Samsung goes into battle on a field laid out by its competitors. It is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 Plus, S10 and S10 e, with the latter being the Samsung answer to the strategy of the iPhone XR and Huawei P20 Lite.

Does this mean Samsung is now in lock-step with its rivals, focused on matching their strategies rather than running ahead of them?

It may seem that way, but Samsung has a few tricks up its electronic sleeve. For example, it is possible it will use the S10 launch to announce its coming range of foldable phones, expected to be called the Galaxy X, Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Flex. It previewed the technology at a developer conference in San Francisco last November, and this will be the ideal moment to reclaim technology leadership by going into production with foldables – even if the S10 range itself does not shoot out the lights.

However, the S10 handsets will look very different to their predecessors. First, before switching on the phone, they will be notable by the introduction of what is being called the punch-hole display, which breaks away from the current trend of having a notch at the top of the phone to house front-facing cameras and speakers. Instead, the punch-hole is a single round cut-out that will contain the front camera. It is the key element of Samsung’s “Infinity O” display – the O represents the punchhole – which will be the first truly edge-to-edge display, on the sides and top.

The S10 range will use the new Samsung user interface, One UI, also unveiled at the developer conference. It replaces the previous “skin”, unimaginatively called the Samsung Experience, to introduce a strong new interface brand.

One UI went live on the Note 8 last month, giving us a foretaste, and giving Samsung a chance to iron out the bugs in the field. It is a less cluttered interface, addressing one of the biggest complaints about most manufacturer skins. Only Nokia and Google Pixel handsets offer pure Android in the local market, but One UI is Samsung’s best compromise yet.

It introduces a new interaction area, in the bottom half, reachable with the thumb, with a viewing area at the top, allowing the user to work one-handed on the bottom area while still having apps or related content visible above. One UI also improves gesture navigation – the phone picks up hand movements without being touched – and notification management.

The S10 range will be the first phones to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, at least for the South African and American markets. That makes it 5G compatible, for when this next generation of mobile broadband becomes available in these markets.

They will also be the first phones to feature Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of the Wi-Fi mobile wireless standard. It will perform better in congested areas, and data transfer will be up to 40% faster than the previous generation.

The phones will be the first to use ultrasound for fingerprint detection. If Samsung gets it right, this will make it the fastest in-screen fingerprint sensor on the market, and allows for a little leeway if one pushes the finger down slightly outside the fingerprint reader surface. It does mean, however, that screen protectors will have to be redesigned to avoid blocking the detection.

Not enough firsts? There are a few more.

Most notably, it will be the first phone range to feature 1 Terabyte (TB) storage – that’s a thousand Gigabytes (GB) – at least for the top-of-the-range devices. Samsung last month announced that it would be the first manufacturer to make 1TB built-in onboard flash storage. Today, it will deploy this massive advantage as it once again weaponises its technology in the fight for smartphone domination.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT set to improve authentication

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By Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things Solutions for CISMEA region at Gemalto

As it rapidly approaches maturity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to continue a transformational trajectory, introducing new efficiencies in multiple fields by allowing measurement and analysis on a scale that has never been possible before. From agriculture to logistics, from retail to hospitality, from traffic to health, from the home to the office, the applications for monitoring ”things” are limited only by the imagination.

And South African (and African) businesses are showing abundant imagination in their practical deployments of IoT solutions in multiple settings, creating a better tomorrow through almost universal measurement and the introduction of new levels of convenience – including how to access locations, devices and services securely.

Any company, whether South African or international, should bear in mind that understanding consumer expectations can be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT devices and related smart services.

According to Gemalto’s latest Connected Living study, improving the way consumers authenticate themselves to services is one of the most anticipated benefits of IoT, highlighting a desire for a more seamless and secure IoT experience.

Consumers are interested in advanced ways of authenticating themselves through automatic (based on behavioral patterns) or biometric techniques, lessening the need to have to intervene manually, all in the name of a much more streamlined authentication process. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have already placed fingerprint and facial recognition high on the agenda. There is also a widespread positive sentiment towards IoT’s potential for improving the quality of home life through connected, smart appliances.

Personalised services is something else that wins consumers over. In fact, a fluid, personalised and unified experience with continuity of services, together with security and privacy, is critical for the successful implementation of any technology.

And those types of services are today quite possible. With everything being connected – from small gadgets to digital solutions for large enterprises – IoT is no longer just a buzzword. That much is clear in a piece from Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg. Writing for IOL Online, Liebenberg provides insight into the sheer range of applications for IoT: the 20 use cases he cites range from the obvious, like transport and logistics, to the connected home and wearables; he even suggests tagging pets with IoT transmitters, for those who always need to know the whereabouts of the family cat.

Low-cost tags fitted to cats, dogs, lamp posts, shipping containers or other items are just one part of the puzzle, however. There are other two pieces; arguably the most complex part is the availability of communication networks in areas where there aren’t any WiFi networks, or indeed, anything else.

And that’s where the bigger takeaway from Liebenberg’s piece and other IoT trends articles becomes apparent. The communication networks are there, as are those tags: dedicated IoT networks (like LoraWAN, SigFox and narrowband IoT) are all available in South Africa.

So, too, is the third and final essential component. Software which is able to process the data generated by the tag and transmitted over the IoT network and into the internet. In this regard, there’s no shortage of solutions available from cloud providers like AWS and Azure; electronics giant Siemens, too, is in on the action, having recently launched a new cloud-based IoT operating system to develop applications and services for process industries, including oil and gas and water management.

This combination means it is quite possible right now to enable just about any use case. Business owners, who will know best how IoT can add value in their organisation, can now see their ideas becoming reality. Most crucial of all, IoT solutions delivering new levels of efficiency and convenience are not only possible, they are able to be offered with the simple and effective security that will drive consumer acceptance.

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