Thursday, June 5, 2014

Mobile Broadband by 4G: Technology, Present Status in the World and Prospect in Bangladesh -Sayeed Mahmud*

The evolution of information superhighway through internet technology has generated unlimited prospect for learning, developing and rendering service provisioning. To tap the benefits and to build a knowledge-based information society, Bangladesh needs to ensure superior service platform, affordable and easy access to the ICT for its customers. Broadband presents a platform for faster aceess and a wide range of value-added service through different applications. Considering the fact, the Government has decided to build Digital Bangladesh by 2021. Exclusive plans have already been taken to achieve this goal. Action programs are going on as per approved ILDTS (International Long Distance Telecommunication Service), NBP (National Broadband Policy) and ICT policies. For example to achieve broadband pentration of 30% by the end of 2015, following targets have been set in NBP:
• To connect all the villages with the broadband through community access points.
• To connect all the higher secondary, secondary and government/MPO listed educational institutions with the broadband.
• To connect all the cultural centres, museums, post offices and archives to the broadband network.
• To bring all the union parishad offices under the broadban network.
• To bring all the farmers market under the broadband network.
Definition of Broadband
Broadband is now commonly used to denote fast speed data communication which replaces conventional dial-up technologies. Any speed equal to or above the usual speed of internet is termed as Broadband. Considering the situation of Bangladesh, NBP 2009 defined broadband as an ‘always on’ data/ internet connection that ensures a minimum bandwidth of of 128 kbps subject to its revision as and when necessary. This minimum level of bandwidth shall be ensured at the subscriber’s end.”
Wireless Broadband by 4G Mobile
4G, short for fourth generation, is the fourth generation of mobile telecommunication
technology succeeding 3G. A 4G system, in addition to usual voice & othet services of 3G system, provides mobile ultra-broadband internet access, for example to laptops with wireless modems, to smartphone, and to other mobile devices. Conceivable applications
include amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, video conferencing, 3D television & cloud computing.
Technical Specifications of 4G
The specifics of the 4G network include better reception, with less dropped data, and faster information exchanges. In March 2008, the ITU-R specified a set of requirements for 4G standards, named the International Mobile Telecommunications Advanced
(IMT-Advanced) specifications. An IMT-Advanced cellular system must fulfill the
following requirements:
* Sub-Divisional Engineer, Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited
• Be based on an all-IP packet switched network.
• Have peak data rates of up to approximately 100 Mbit/s for high mobility such as mobile access and up to approximately 1 Gbit/s for low mobility such as normadic/local wireless access.
• Be able to dynamically share and use the network resources to support more simultaneous users per cell.
• Using scalable channel bandwidths of 5-20 MHz, optionally up to 40 MHz.
• Have peak link spectral efficiency of 15 bit/s in the ownlink and 6.75 bit/s in the uplink.
• System spectral efficiency of up to 3 bit/s/Hz/cell in the downlink and 2.25 bit/s/Hz/cell for indoor usage.
• Smooth handovers across heterogeneous networks.
• The ability to offer high quality of service for next generation multimedia support.

Commercially Deployed 4G Mobiles
Two 4G candidate systems are commercially deployed, though there is some debate regarding their status:
(1) the Mobile WiMAX standard
(2) the Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard.
Mobile WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for
Microwave Access)
It’s a wireless communications standard ratified by WiMAX Forum. Features of Mobile WiMAX:
• Known as Mobile Broadband Wireless Access (MBWA).
• Offers peak data rates of 128 Mbit/s in downlink and 56 Mbit/s in uplink over 20 MHz wide channels.
• Provides a wireless alternative to cable and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) for "last mile" broadband access.
• Provides data, telecommunications (VoIP) and IPTV services.
• Originally based on IEEE 802.16e-2005 which was revised, such as 802.16m-2011.
• 802.16e-2005 uses scalable Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) Time Dvision Duplex (TDD).
• 802.16e-2005 brings multiple antenna support through MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output).
• It’s a long range system, covering many kilometres, that uses licensed or unlicensed spectrum to deliver connection to a network.
• Limited roaming service. The world’s first commercial Mobile WiMAX service was opened by KT in Seoul, South Korea in June 2006. Sprint in USA has begun using Mobile WiMAX as of 29 September 2008, branding it as a “4G” network. In Russia, Belarus and Nicaragua WiMAX broadband internet access is offered by a Russian company and is also branded 4G, Yota. Mobile WiMAX is not available for the European market since April 2012.
LTE (Long Term Evolution)
Commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless data communications technology and is part of the GSM evolutionary path, following EDGE, UMTS, HSPA (HSDPA and HSUPA combined) and HSPA Evolution (HSPA+). It supports IP-based voice, data, video and messaging traffic. The capacity and speed of wireless data networks are increased by use of new DSP (Digital Signal Processing) techniques and modulations. Network architecture is of IP-based. The standard is developed by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) and is specified in its Release 8 document series, with minor enhancements described in Release 9.
Features of LTE:
• Theoritical peak speed: 100 Mbit/s in download and 50 Mbit/s in upload if a 20 MHz channel is used.
• Has the ability to manage fast-moving mobiles and supports multi-cast and broadcast streams.
• Supports only packet switching with its all-IP network. The IP-based network architecture, called the Evolved Packet Core (EPC) and designed to replace the GPRS Core Network, supports seamless handovers for both voice and data to cell towers.
• Physical radio interface was High Speed OFDM Packet Access (HSOPA), now named Evolved UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access (E-UTRA).
• Support for both FDD and TDD communication systems as well as half-duplex FDD with the same radio access technology.
• Simplified architecture: The network side of E-UTRAN is composed only of eNodeBs. The eNodeB performs tasks similar to those performed by the NodeBs and RNC (Radio Network Controller) together in UTRAN. eNodeBs are connected to each other via the X2 interface, and they connect to the packet switched (PS) core network via the S1 interface.
• Packet switched radio interface.
• Support for inter-operation and co-existence with legacy standards (e.g., GSM/EDGE, UMTS and CDMA2000). Users can start a call or transfer of data in an area using an LTE standard, and, should coverage be unavailable, continue the operation without any action on their part using GSM/GPRS or W-CDMA-based UMTS.
• Increased spectrum flexibility: 1.4 MHz, 3 MHz, 5 MHz, 10 MHz, 15 MHz and 20 MHz wide cells are standardized.
• Support for all frequency bands currently used by IMT systems by ITU-R.
• Use smart antenna arrays MIMO. The world's first publicly available LTE service was launched by TeliaSonera in Stockholm (Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks systems) and Oslo (Huawei system) on December 14, 2009. As of November 2012, the five publicly available LTE services in USA were provided by (a) MetroPCS (b) Verizon Wireless (c) AT&T Mobility, U.S. Cellular (d) Sprint (e) T-Mobile US. Airtel launched the LTE service in India in April 2012. T-Mobile Hungary has offered commercial 4G LTE services since 1 January 2012. In South Korea, SK Telecom and LG U+ have enabled access to LTE service since 1 July 2011 for data devices. KT Telecom completed the nationwide LTE service by June 2012. In the UK, LTE service launced by EE in October 2012 and by O2 and Vodafone in August 2013. Adoption of LTE technology in the world as of February 15, 2014.
  Countries with commercial LTE service Countries with commercial LTE network deployment on-going or planned Countries with LTE trial systems (pre-commitment)
Commercial 4G Vs. True 4G- View of ITU-R
Although marketed as a 4G wireless service, first-release versions of Mobile WiMAX and LTE are not fully IMT-Advanced compliant. However, due to marketing pressures and the significant advancements that WiMAX, HSPA+ and LTE bring to the original 3G technologies, ITU later decided that LTE together with the aforementioned technologies can be called 4G technologies. Mobile WiMAX Release 2 (also known as WirelessMAN Advanced) standardized by IEEE 802.16m and LTE Advanced (LTE-A) standardized by 3GPP are IMT-Advanced compliant. And to differentiate LTE Advanced and WirelessMAN Advanced from current 4G technologies, ITU has defined them as "True 4G".
LTE Advanced- True 4G
LTE Advanced is a candidate for IMT-Advanced standard, formally submitted by 3GPP organization to ITU-T in the fall 2009.
• It’s not a new technology, but rather an improvement on the existing LTE network.
• Similar to the upgrade from WCDMA to HSPA.
• LTE and LTE-Advanced will also make use of additional spectrums and multiplexing to allow it to achieve higher data speeds.
• Coordinated Multi-point Transmission will allow more system capacity to help handle the enhanced data speeds.
• Release 10 of LTE (LTE Advanced) is expected to achieve the IMT Advanced speeds. Peak download: 1 Gbit/s Peak upload: 500 Mbit/s
IEEE 802.16m or WirelessMAN Advanced-True 4G
It’s under development with the objective to fulfill the IMT-Advanced criteria of 1 Gbit/s for stationary reception and 100 Mbit/s for mobile reception.
Present Broadband Scenario of Bangladesh
At this moment, three types of infrastructures are being used in Bangladesh for providing broadband internet services: (1) Fiber optic cables (2) WiMAX (3) 3G Mobile Network. Among them, Third Generation (3G) mobile telecommunication network is being used for making video calls, high speed internet (UMTS, HSPA) and for many day-to-day economic activities. 5 (five) GSM Mobile phone operators are now providing 3G services. For this, BTRC has issued 10 MHz spectrum license to Teletalk and Grameen Phone, 5 MHz each to Robi, Banglalink and Airtel. On the other side, Qubee and Banglalion are providing 4G Wireless Broadband service using 4G WiMAX technology. BTRC has assigned 35 MHz frequency to each from 2.3GHz and 2.5 GHz band. Recently, Banglalion has obtained the permission from BTRC to deploy more advanced TD-LTE (Time Division Long Term Evolution) network with existing frequency to provide Broadband Wireless Access services nationwide. Through this technology, Banglalion would be able to provide even faster mobile broadband connectivity more effectively. LTE would enable the customers to enjoy blazing speed and more stable, uninterrupted connectivity in both fixed and on the go environment. Banglalion is expecting to start offering LTE based services from Mid 2014. After awarding the WiMAX as well as the 3G license, the internet penetration of the country has increased significantly. At present, the number of internet subscriber in Bangladesh is about 37 million. 56 percent of the district towns of Bangladesh are now under wireless broadband network. Increase of internet users is clear from the below table:
Table: Total number of Internet Subscribers in Bangladesh in March 2013 & March 2014 (Source: BTRC web site) Category Subscribers (in thousands) March 2013 March 2014
Mobile Internet 30099.166 35336.011
ISP + PSTN 1220.62 1228.02
WiMAX 481.559 301.73
Total 31801.345 36865.756
In the mean time, government has decided to introduce mobile broadband (4G LTE) service in the country through BTCL. For this a project, financed by EDCF, Korea has been taken naming “Installation of Wireless Broadband network for Digital Bangladesh (4G, LTE)”. Aim is to provide blanket coverage for broadband access. 3G will provide broadband accessibility to mobile devices (mobile hand set or Tablet), while LTE is for broadband access for PCs or Laptops. For extensive network coverage eNodeB BTS will be installed at all metropolitan cities, District HQ, Upazila and growth centers. To increase internet penetration, BTRC has lowered the bandwidth price after analyzing the overall scenario and consulting with the ministry. Lowering the price of bandwidth will have effect on spreading the internet service at the grass-root level and developing the telecommunication infrastructure. But it has also been observed that the cost of establishing the infrastructure to reach the internet to the people of remote areas of Bangladesh is very high. If the infrastructure cost can be reduced then it is possible to rip the benefit of lowering the bandwidth price.
Prospect of 4G in Bangladesh
Since government has decided to make “Digital Bangladesh” by 2021, hence mobile broadband internet facility has to be extended to all district headquarters, upozilla headquarters and subsequently to important union parishads. The bandwidth capacity and availability have to be ensured all over the country at a reasonable cost to encourage the growth of internet, e-commerce, e-health, ICT industries and e-government (e-forms, e procurement, e-recruitment, e-results etc), transportation, tourism, agriculture, environment etc. Since 4G provides very high speed internet, has mobility and maintenance is comparatively easier with respect to fixed high speed fibre optic network, hence it can be used in all important government and corporate offices, educational institutions and libraries etc. It can be used to improve the efficiency, availability and reach of private and public sector services in areas of health, education, and government services.
When we use the slogan “Digital Bangladesh”, then at first comes the question of broadband internet. If anyone wants to see the dream of “Sonar Bangladesh” without broadband services in mass population level, then it will be a wrong thinking. Because if we consider the concept of Digital Bangladesh, then broadband services will be the next fundamental right of mass people of Bangladesh after food, clothes and accommodation. And it’s our idea that except mobile network it will be not possible for us to provide broadband services at all location of our country within the next few decades. Broadband is transforming the people’s way of communicating, doing business and accessing the information. Considering further development of Bangladesh in telecommunication and ICT sector, there is a huge prospect for 4G mobile broadband internet services. Proper implementation and utilization of 3G & 4G technology will pave the way towards achieving the goal of Digital Bangladesh set by Bangladesh government.

8. My writeup about 3G published in BUET87 Foundation Suvenior in 2012

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