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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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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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