LPWA Helping to Track Wildlife and Provide Data on Climate Change; University of St Andrews Developing New Smart Tags to Track Seals Using NB-IoT Technology
21 February 2017, London: The University of St Andrews Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) is developing smart telemetry tags using Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) technology to track and monitor the movement of harbour seals and research their population decline. NB-IoT is a Low Power, Wide Area (LPWA) technology that was standardised by the GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative and will play a fundamental role in the emerging ‘Internet of the Seas’ by capturing underwater data that will help to monitor climate change.
The new sensors being developed by SMRU will be harmlessly attached to the seals in order to log detailed data on the animals’ behaviour, such as location and dive depth, as well as temperature, salinity and, eventually, underwater sound. Low power devices and networks in licensed spectrum vastly improve wildlife tracking by enabling more efficient tracking tags that are smaller and less intrusive.
SMRU expects to trial the new NB-IoT enabled marine tags later this year. In 2016, it successfully gathered information for analysis from harbour seals in Orkney, Scotland, using machine-to-machine (M2M) technology. Mobile IoT networks have the potential to deliver improvements in mobile coverage and the built-in device modules offer battery life superior to devices reliant on conventional cellular technologies.
“The GSMA is supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by exploring how mobile technology can be utilised to capture vital information to support wildlife conservation projects around the world, as well as protect the oceans, seas and the species living in them,” commented Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA. “The intersection between Mobile IoT technologies and global conservation projects such as this is exciting, timely and powerful and will play a fundamental role in helping to achieve healthy and productive oceans.”
The Internet of the Seas
NB-IoT technology can also be used to support the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), a UNESCO programme that coordinates global ocean data from different governance bodies. NB-IoT can help monitor climate change by means of low energy sensors and data relay channels that capture information on the temperature and salinity of the oceans. Combined and standardised with data from other sea monitoring systems, such NB-IoT-derived data will help provide scientists and oceanographers with accurate information on the world’s oceans. Tagging animals with smart tags also helps scientists to use their mobility and diving skills to explore both distant and deep parts of oceans.
“NB-IoT technology is the future of our research and allows us to springboard from the success of our previous work using M2M technology and capture far more detailed data in a much more efficient way,” said Dr Bernie McConnell, Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St Andrews. “Many species, both marine and aquatic, are under threat. NB-IoT is ideally suited to be a global carrier of animal information that will provide vital data needed to inform and benefit wildlife conservation worldwide.”
SMRU was approached by the Scottish Government to investigate why seals on the east coast of Scotland and the Northern Isles were in serious decline with a 70 per cent reduction over the last ten years. The natural habitat of animals around the world is being impacted by climate change that is disrupting food chains and biodiversity. The research is ongoing but the possible reasons for the decline could be food limitation, disease, aggression from grey seals, predation by killer whales, and poisoning from harmful algal blooms. A crucial element will be in discovering where the threatened seals feed at sea.
The GSMA Mobile IoT Initiative
LPWA networks are a high-growth area of the IoT designed for M2M applications that have low data rates, require long battery lives and operate unattended for long periods of time, often in remote locations. They will be used for a wide variety of applications such as industrial asset tracking, safety monitoring, water and gas metering, smart grids, city parking, vending machines and city lighting. The GSMA’s Mobile IoT Initiative is designed to accelerate the commercial availability of LPWA solutions in licensed spectrum. These licensed standards allow operators to optimise their existing mobile network infrastructure through an upgrade to LTE-M for LTE networks, while NB-IoT can use both 2G and 4G spectrum. It is currently backed by 30 of the world’s leading mobile operators, OEMs, chipset, module and infrastructure companies. The GSMA Mobile IoT initiative is supporting the industry with multiple global pilots with full commercial solutions expected in market later this year.
Mobile IoT at Mobile World Congress 2017
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the GSMA’s Connected Living Programme will host the ‘GSMA Global Mobile IoT Summit’ with leading industry experts on Sunday, 26 February from 13:00 – 17:30. The session will explore how the industry is working together to realise the full potential of Mobile IoT. There will also be a separate session, ‘Mobile IoT (LPWA) – Open for Business’, on Wednesday, 1 March from 13:30 – 15:30 that will provide an opportunity to learn about the latest commercial rollouts, launches and pilots. There will also be number of demonstrations of LPWA technology at the GSMA Innovation City located in Hall 4 in Fira Gran Via. For more information or please visit www.gsma.com/connectedliving/event/mobile-world-congress-2017/ or download the Connected Living IoT Guide to MWC 2017: http://www.gsma.com/connectedliving/iot-guide-mwc17/. For more information on the GSMA Mobile IoT Initiative go to: www.gsma.com/connectedliving/mobile-iot-initiative/
Innovation City Offers Immersive Experiences from Companies Including AT&T, Cisco Jasper, Huawei, KT Corporation, Sierra Wireless and UNLIMIT by Reliance Communications
The GSMA Innovation City returns to Mobile World Congress, once again inviting visitors to explore a city-like environment and experience immersive demonstrations of the most cutting-edge mobile enabled products and services in the world today. The City will address a wide range of industry topics such as 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT), security and identity, with an increased emphasis on interactive, experiential and immersive installations that illustrate how mobile impacts virtually every aspect of our lives across transport, health, home and retail. The Innovation City, which is one of the key attractions at Mobile World Congress and welcomed nearly 30,000 visitors last year, has been relocated to Hall 4 to accommodate more partners and experiences than ever before.
“The GSMA Innovation City is a living, breathing hub for mobile technology and one of the most popular destinations at Mobile World Congress. This year’s City focuses on experiences that put mobile technology in context to help people understand how it will impact their lives,” said Michael O’Hara, Chief Marketing Officer, GSMA. “We look forward to welcoming visitors to a newer, larger City this year, packed with unusual and engaging demonstrations that showcase the depth and breadth of innovative mobile solutions, from a connected auto-rickshaw with an IoT emergency button to a connected seal that can help monitor climate change.”
The GSMA Innovation City features exhibits from AT&T, Cisco Jasper, Huawei, KT Corporation, Sierra Wireless and UNLIMIT by Reliance Communications. The GSMA will also highlight its key programmes and initiatives including Connected Living, Managed Services, Mobile Connect, Mobile for Development and Network 2020, as well as its work supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Showcasing a Range of New Experiences
The Innovation City will showcase an array of interactive experiences:
AT&T – AT&T will showcase its latest innovations across entertainment, the Internet of Things, 5G, security and more. Visitors will be able to experience:
What it’s like for AT&T mobile customers to take their TV with them virtually anywhere they go data free with the DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW apps.
Live demonstrations on how to achieve speed and precision with flexible, highly secure networking in a software defined world.
How AT&T’s IoT solutions are innovating and accelerating Smart Cities, integrated fleets, connected cars, healthcare and more.
AT&T Digital Life®, an all-digital, fully integrated smart home security, automation and energy management solution.
CISCO JASPER – Cisco Jasper will enable visitors to experience IoT services in a life-like smart city environment. Visitors will see how businesses globally are using the Control Center automated connectivity platform to deliver connected services that enhance their customers’ experiences and create new sources of revenue. Examples will include:
Connected car solutions ranging from electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that eliminate range anxiety, smart parking meters that alert drivers to open parking spaces nearby, to remote performance and vehicle security management.
Health monitoring wearables that give the elderly greater independence while ensuring that they remain connected to loved ones, caregivers and healthcare providers.
Security and automation solutions for industrial and small business applications that contribute to producitvity, efficiency and peace of mind.
City buses that communicate directly with IoT-connected traffic solutions that help reduce traffic and pollution by keeping vehicles moving more smoothly through the city during commute times.
HUAWEI – Huawei X Labs and its partners will demonstrate its innovative explorations in mobile across a number of vertical industries including:
Connected Drone: Experience how mobile broadband enables drone tracking in public safety scenarios, precise positioning in urban areas and battery charging anywhere.
Mobile gaming: Try out the future of gaming with a multi-sensory experience via motion capture and virtual reality.
Mobile video: Experience video of the future with 8K panorama and how networks are meeting the demand of larger formats.
Connected car: Experience how 5G networks manage connected cars.
Connected robotics: See how robotics can perform manual tasks via the mobile network.
KT CORPORATION – KT will demonstrate its global 5G leadership and innovative technologies:
Experience a winter sports luge ride and interact with K-POP stars in the Virtual Reality Zone.
See how an IoT-enabled safety jacket can help keep people safe at sea or in the mountains.
Try out innovative new IoT devices such as NEOFIT, a new health band with health-related services and GiGA Eyes, a cloud-based security camera.
Experience innovative big data solutions including KT-MEG (Micro Energy Grid) Platform and Smart Gate.
SIERRA WIRELESS – Sierra Wireless is building the Internet of Things with intelligent wireless solutions that empower organisations to innovate in the connected world. The Start with Sierra Experience will feature:
A chance to drive the world’s fastest connected car and see what it’s like to move at the speed of sound.
The opportunity to pilot a drone around Barcelona with exclusive simulators that highlight hazards on land and in the sky to enable safe flight on a broad scale.
A live network demonstration of how next-generation LTE-M technology improves cellular coverage for smart water applications.
UNLIMIT POWERED BY RELIANCE – Unlimit, Powered by Reliance, is the first independent IoT business unit launched in India and a gateway for all global companies looking to access the Indian market. It enables companies to set up and grow their IoT business by getting to market faster, scaling quickly with high service reliability and low cost of ownership. Demonstrations will include:
An opportunity to experience a connected Indian auto-rickshaw for the first time.
Unlimit’s new application enablement platform where developers and customers can easily connect, manage and extend IoT deployments.
Unlimit Control, the first Indian cloud based platform which enables you to launch, manage and monetize IoT/M2M services for connected devices.
Partnerships with Cisco Jasper for their world class IoT connectivity platform and Cumulocity, the leading independent Device and Application Management IoT platform.
GSMA INDUSTRY PROGRAMMES
The GSMA programme will also include a number of exhibits and experiences highlighting its key industry programmes:
See how innovative NB-IoT Low Power Wide Area tags are helping to track seals in the wild and monitor climate change.
Experience how Mobile Connect is becoming the identity solution of choice for a new generation of services such as instant age verification and face recognition for airline check-in, amongst others services.
Step inside a Jaguar Land Rover F Pace car to experience the impact of 5G technology.
See how smart cities applications are helping with crowd control, as well as water and traffic management.
Experience how innovative Mobile IoT devices such as connected screwdrivers and connected waste bins utilise pressure and temperature sensors.
Experience how a new messaging platform is helping consumers get closer to brands.
See how innovative LTE Broadcast technology is delivering dynamic advertising and incident information in bus shelters.
See how big data is being used to support our environment and improve the way food get from the farm to the plate.
Learn how the mobile industry is supporting the Sustainable Development Goals through a unique augmented reality-based experience.
See how the GSMA’s Mobile for Development programme is transforming rural communities in emerging markets and offering innovative solutions to weather forecasting, smart irrigation, solar energy, cooking gas, mobile health and mobile money.
Visit the GSMA IMEI Checkpoint to see how delegates can locate and record their device serial number (IMEI) showcasing how, if their phone is lost or stolen, it can be blocked by networks around the world.
Visit the Innovation City in Hall 4, Fira Gran Via
This year the GSMA Innovation City is located in Hall 4, Stand 4A30 in the Fira Gran Via and will be open during Mobile World Congress exhibition hours from Monday, 27 February through Thursday, 2 March. Please note that the City will close at 5:15pm on Tuesday, 28 February for a private reception.
Nearly every department around the world that we work with is incorporating the latest generation of tablets into their aid vehicles. But why?
First responders use tablets for record keeping, mapping, report writing and medical data. They want to easily remove the device for on-scene use, and easily/securely keep it in the trucks while driving.
Additionally, the rise of E911 and the integration of services such as Data911 can create an instantaneous connection between the responders, dispatch and the scene to ensure that the firefighters or EMTs have a game plan that accounts for all variables.
Make firefighting mobile
One trend that we are seeing is while rugged devices such as Panasonic ToughPads and the Data911 terminals ride shotgun, a consumer device such as a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 or iPad are used in the rear of the fire truck.
Firefighters can quickly grab the tablets to access floorplans, communications software and patient health information. These advancements in firefighting and lifesaving technology means that firefighters are able to more quickly assess a situation and react.
The increased technology has directly impacted how first responders approach their jobs now. We spoke with Deputy Chief Tim Day as he finalized preparation for his department’s newest engine. Tim outlined some of the advancements and advantages that having mobile devices in the fire engines can offer.
The ability to mount a tablet anywhere in the cab means that any firefighter personnel can use it. Having an adjustable and functional mount that doesn’t block the driver’s view is crucial. The officer can then focus on navigating while having access to critical information.
A tablet or mobile computing solution makes the cab of the engine safer as well, Day said. A modular mount enables a firefighter to remain buckled in to access the information instead of reaching for binders or atlas books. Those binders of plans, contact lists and maps were hard to maintain. And the tablets reduce things moving in the cab that could hurt the firefighters.
Day referred to firefighters as “industrial athletes” and they need to function while wearing their protective equipment. This means that when arriving at the scene, they can just pull the device out of the mount and get to work. And, once a call is over, the third can complete the report while underway.
What makes RAM® Mounts the best option for mounting mobile devices for first responders? Whether it’s a rugged terminal or a tablet, RAM Mounts supports it. RAM is ahead of the competition in tablet mounting vs. laptop mounting. As tablets replace laptops, we already have options to mount in a variety of locations where other manufacturers can not. Our customizable mounting points and modular components means that the device is always securely where it is needed.
RAM Mounts products hold up to the rugged conditions that firefighters, EMTs and police officers experience daily. Functionality is our best asset giving each individual the ability to adjust and position their devices so that they are ergonomically correct for them. Ease of use is also key. When they need to grab a device and go, or put a device into action, the ability to easily take a device in and out of its dock quickly is paramount.
Nokia worldwide IoT network grid (‘WING’) enables communication service providers and enterprises to take advantage of new business opportunities that will become available through a multi-country federation of IoT connectivity services
Draws on Nokia’s extensive technology and services portfolio including a global services command center which uses the Nokia IMPACT IoT Platform with new subscription management for eSIM, and Nokia’s M2M Core as a service
Enables enterprises to take advantage of a global IoT connectivity and services grid with a unified view of IoT devices, subscriptions, billing and customer care
Espoo, Finland – Nokia has created the Nokia worldwide IoT network grid, a ‘one-stop-shop’, full service model offering seamless IoT connectivity across technologies and geographical borders to address the transport, health, utilities and safety markets.
Nokia WING will manage the IoT connectivity and services needs of a client’s assets, such as connected cars or connected freight containers, as they move around the globe, reducing the complexity for enterprises who would otherwise be required to work with multiple technology providers.
Drawing on Nokia’s comprehensive technology and services expertise, Nokia WING can be easily and quickly implemented to provide enterprises with ubiquitous connectivity, subscription and device management, security and analytics. Connectivity is enabled by intelligent switching between cellular and non cellular networks. For example, a shipping container linked by satellite in the ocean could switch to being connected by a cellular network near a port.
Nokia will offer a full service model including provisioning, operations, security, billing and dedicated enterprise customer services from key operations command centers. The company will use its own IMPACT IoT platform for device management, subscription management and analytics. Nokia IMPACT subscription management for eSIM will automatically configure connectivity to a communication service provider’s network as the asset crosses geographical borders.
Customers are served on a multi-tenanted basis using a Nokia M2M Core that includes the Nokia Cloud Packet Core, which gives an enterprise customer access to their own discrete segment of the network core.
Communication service providers can quickly take advantage of new business opportunities that will be made available by joining a global federation of IoT connectivity services. By leveraging their excess network capacity they will be able to serve enterprises that require near global IoT connectivity, rapidly and with little effort, to realize new revenue streams. For service providers planning to launch a new IoT business, Nokia can fast track time to market as WING also provides a full white label managed service model, allowing them to offer the service to their customers under their own brand.
Consumers will be able to benefit from a wide range of seamlessly connected IoT applications and devices as Nokia takes the lead in collaborating with communications service providers to create one global IoT grid.
Alexandra Rehak, head of Ovum’s IoT Practice, said: “Nokia is offering an innovative approach to IoT enablement with its IoT connectivity as a managed service offering. The complexity of IoT deployment, service development and business models makes it imperative for market participants to play to their strengths and build long-term, flexible partnerships. Nokia’s managed IoT service offering fits well with this requirement. The new offering leverages Nokia’s broad portfolio of technologies and strong expertise in network design and management, and should open up new business opportunities for operator customers and large enterprises alike. It offers a new approach to helping service providers extend their existing network and partnership agreements and quickly address new markets while focusing on their core competencies.”
Igor Leprince, head of Global Services at Nokia, said: “IoT connectivity as a managed service is an answer for enterprises to the current IoT deployments that are hampered by the patchwork of business agreements to connect devices around the world. Nokia WING will provide one global IoT grid. We cannot do this alone, and we are reaching out to communication service providers across the globe to collaborate with us so that we can extend the benefits of the connected world to more industries.”
In a bid to win the race to develop self-driving cars and give a leg-up to their automakers over their rivals from Silicon Valley, the two EU nations have joined hands to test the cars on a stretch of road linking them.
European neighbors Germany and France plan to test self-driving vehicles on a section of road linking the two countries, the transport ministry in Berlin said Wednesday.
The route stretches around 70 kilometers (43 miles), from Merzig in Germany’s western Saarland state to Metz in eastern France. It is aimed at testing “automated and connected driving in real cross-border traffic,” the ministry noted.
“Manufacturers will be able to test the connectivity of their systems, for example when lanes or speed limits change at the border,” German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said in a statement following a meeting with his French counterpart Alain Vidalies.
“We want to set worldwide standards for this key technology through cooperation between Europe’s two biggest car-producing countries,” he added.
The route will allow testing of 5G wireless communications between cars and infrastructure, automated maneuvers such as overtaking and braking, and emergency warning and call systems, among others.
An automated future?
Germany, home to car giants such as Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, already boasts a number of test zones for automated vehicles on motorways and in cities, but this is the first that will cross into another country.
The transport ministry has offered 100 million euros ($107 million) in funding for the projects.
The tests come as the nation’s traditional carmakers are racing to catch up to Silicon Valley newcomers such as Tesla, Uber and Google parent company Alphabet in the new field, seen as the future of driving.
Automated trucks in particular are expected to shake up the road transport sector in the years to come.
In a glimpse of what lies ahead, manufacturers took part in an experiment last year that saw six convoys of “smart” trucks cross several European countries using “platooning,” in which a leading truck sets the route and speed for wirelessly-connected self-driving followers.
sri/uhe (AFP, Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure)
French oil and gas giant Total is planning a network of electric vehicle charging points at its petrol stations across France, the company’s Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said on Tuesday.
“We plan to do it. We are thinking of how to equip our stations with electric charging points,” Pouyanne told journalists at the sidelines of the SER renewable energy conference in Paris.
Pouyanne said the company was looking at installing the charging points mostly outside city centres and was talking to car makers such as PSA.
“Our plan consists of looking at how to create a charging point network around French highways to have charging points every 150 or 160 km (100 miles),” he said, adding that there was demand from clients.
“We are preparing the investment for it,” Pouyanne said, adding that Total is targeting about 300 petrol stations. (Reporting by Bate Felix; Editing by Geert De Clercq)
Bats have long captured the imaginations of scientists and engineers with their unrivalled agility, but their complex wing motions pose significant technological challenges for those seeking to recreate their flight in a robot.
The key flight mechanisms of bats now have been recreated with unprecedented fidelity in the Bat Bot—a self-contained robotic bat with soft, articulated wings, developed by researchers at Caltech and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).
“This robot design will help us build safer and more efficient flying robots, and also give us more insight into the way bats fly,” saysSoon-Jo Chung, associate professor of aerospace and Bren Scholar in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, and Jet Propulsion Laboratory research scientist. (Caltech manages JPL for NASA.)
Chung, who joined the Caltech faculty in August 2016, developed the robotic bat, along with his former postdoctoral associate Alireza Ramezani from UIUC and Seth Hutchinson, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UIUC and Ramezani’s co-advisor. Chung is the corresponding author of a paper describing the bat that was published on February 1 in Science Robotics, the newest member of the Science family of journals published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
The Bat Bot weighs only 93 grams and is shaped like a bat with a roughly one-foot wingspan. It is capable of altering its wing shape by flexing, extending, and twisting at its shoulders, elbows, wrists, and legs. Arguably, bats have the most sophisticated powered flight mechanism among animals, which includes wings that have the capability of changing shape. Their flight mechanism involves several different types of joints that interlock the bones and muscles to one another, creating a musculoskeletal system that is capable of movement in more than 40 rotational directions.
“Our work demonstrates one of the most advanced designs to date of a self-contained flapping-winged aerial robot with bat morphology that is able to perform autonomous flight,” Ramezani says.
One of the key challenges was to create wings that change shape while flapping, the way a biological bat’s do. Conventional lightweight fabrics, like nylon and Mylar, are not stretchable enough. Instead, the researchers developed a custom ultra-thin (56 microns), silicone-based membrane that simulates stretchable, thin bat wings.
Bat-inspired aerial robots have the potential to be significantly more energy efficient than current flying robots because their flexible wings amplify the motion of the robot’s actuators. When a bat—or the Bat Bot—flaps its wings, the wing membranes fill up with air and deform. At the end of the wings’ downward flapping motion, the membranes snap back to their usual shape and blast out the air, creating a huge amplification in power for the flap.
The design has potential applications for environments where more traditional quadrotor drones—which have four spinning rotors—could collide into objects or people, causing damage or injury.
The study is titled “A Biomimetic Robotic Platform to Study Flight Specializations of Bats.” This research was funded by the National Science Foundation’s National Robotics Initiative.
34 Bridge Alliance members can now access Gemalto On-Demand Connectivity for Industrial and Consumer IoT devices
Gemalto , the world leader in digital security, has been selected to supply its On-Demand Connectivity (ODC) solution for Bridge Alliance, a partnership of 34 leading mobile network operators (MNOs) in Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa, representing over 800 million customers. Deployed by Gemalto, On-Demand Connectivity, when paired with embedded SIMs (eSIM), eliminates logistics challenges of provisioning online connectivity in different territories forInternet of Things (IoT) device makers and service providers.
Through the remote subscription management, users can easily connect to any Bridge Alliance Member Operator’s network, allowing them to immediately access the Internet with their devices, and manage their mobile subscriptions with ease. This solution is compatible with GSMA’s Embedded SIM M2M specifications for industrial IoT applications, and GSMA’s Embedded SIM specifications for consumer devices.
IoT is one of the fastest-growing markets today. Based on IHS Markit’s 2016 projections, there will be 20 billion connected devices in use in 2017. This installed base of IoT devices will continue to expand to 30 billion in 2020, and hit 75 billion in 2025*. There is also a market shift from highly specialized to cross-industry IoT devices. An example is the use of connected light bulbs, which can be implemented for different sectors.
“We are focused on providing customers with world-class, seamless connectivity services for both industrial and consumer IoT devices,” said Eileen Tan, Chief Executive Officer at Bridge Alliance. “Our partnership with Gemalto allows us to automate the provision of connectivity services over-the-air to meet the exacting demands of our customers.”
“IoT is the backbone of many emerging trends and technologies like Industry 4.0 and Big Data“, said Sashidhar Thothadri, Vice President of Sales South Asia & Japan at Gemalto. “As the interest grows, we are excited to deliver a truly flexible way to connect any IoT device – from connected cars to wearables and other industrial M2M applications – across a large geographical footprint, thanks to Bridge Alliance members’ networks”.
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The University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre is home to the pioneers of wireless technology who have been researching the next generation of connectivity since 2012, before 4G even hit the scene. Led by Professor Rahim Tafazolli, the centre is working alongside telecom juggernauts to usher in what has been christened the “Internet of Things”, which will see the network capable of things that were once a distant dream.
The researchers at the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) are working on much more than simply improving the speed of our mobile phones, with ambitions of driverless cars and home appliances all controlled via 5G. Partially funded by the UK government, the centre was the first of its kind and has since been joined by the likes of Japan, Taiwan, Russia and South Korea in the 5G race.
Last year, the 5GIC achieved breakthrough connectivity speeds of just one terabit per second and proclaimed it hopes to demonstrate the remarkable technology to the public by 2018. If (like us) you can’t wait that long, we caught up with Professor Tafazolli himself to discuss all things 5G and what exactly we can expect from the Internet of Things.
Professor Rahim Tafazolli
What is the 5G Innovation Centre?
Tesco Mobile: Can you give us a bit of background about the 5G Innovation Centre – when you started, what the objectives are and what you’re working on in general?
Professor Tafazolli: We started in 2012; there was an invitation for research into infrastructure, not specifically 5G, from the UK government and the higher education funding council of England, who provide funding to higher education in England. When we heard about this funding, I was thinking what we could do with it.
Being involved in mobile communications for 2G, 3G, 4G and the history of the UK in radio communications, I thought that it was timely to have the infrastructure to do research into technologies beyond 4G and 5G. So, we put in a bid and in October 2012, it was successful.
I talked to our industry partners, mainly Vodafone, Telefonica, Fujitsu, Samsung and Sony, who were all supportive. We won the bid and were granted £12m by the UK government; then twice that was committed by our industry partners, so all together about £36m.
What work is the 5GIC doing?
PT: The idea is to work on the step change technology that 5G will use. The advanced research evaluates our technology, mathematical modelling, computer simulation, building the technology, prototyping it and testing it in a wide area. Now, we have raw data and 44 base stations.
TM: So, you have basically a 5G network?
PT: Not really. 5G needs to be standardised first. Lots of people are proposing different technologies. It will go through the standardisation process, then we select the technology and start implementing, testing and optimising it, before eventually bringing it to the market. What we have now is an advanced version of 4G. So, we have the infrastructure in place and gradually over time, we’ll change it to 5G technologies.
Looking at the plans, 2018 is the first quota for when we would like to demonstrate full 5G technology. If we achieve this milestone, we will be the first in the world to show 5G technology in a real environment, not in a lab. Our vision is 5G, that’s not just higher speed, unlike many people think, but a system that provides high capacity with at least 100x more users connected.
TM: When you say 100x more users connected, does that mean in a football arena everybody will be able to connect?
PT: Yes, there is enough capacity for everyone to be connected, even in a high-density environment, like a football stadium. In addition to people, we think that 5G will provide connectivity between devices. Everything will be wireless. It’s not only communication. It will be connecting devices together, homes will become smart homes, cities become smart cities, countries become smart countries and continents become smart continents. So, 5G is not only about speed, it’s about connectivity.
But we want the system to be highly secure because of malware and attacks on the network. When we have every aspect of our life connected, then there is a big risk. So, the system must be reliable, and it must be robust.
5G Relay Base Station
These are the major step changes that we think 5G should bring from previous generation systems. 1G was pure voice, 2G was digital voice, 3G was 50/50 voice and data, 4G was mainly data and higher speed. Every generation has had higher and higher speed. With 5G, we don’t think it’s justifiable to have higher speed only. It must provide connectivity of people and devices, and it must be highly reliable
TM: To get rid of latency?
PT: Low latency translates to higher speed. But (…) our objective is not just to achieve speed; if it was speed, we already have the technology that can do 1000x faster than the highest 4G speed, so we could say we’ve finished the 5G project.
But, that’s not our objective. Our objectives are the ones I’ve mentioned – reliability, robustness, security, and latency. We want to support 100x or 1000x more devices on the network. The system must be energy efficient because with current technologies, the energy we use would also be 100x or 1000x more.
TM: If we had 5G on our phones right now and they were running on the 5G network, would it drain the battery dramatically?
PT: With the current technology, yes. That’s why it requires different technology, which is what we are trying to do.
The 5G race
TM: You mentioned the term “5G race” earlier and working with the industry – do you see this process as collaborative?
PT: Yes, it has to be. No single country or company can dictate the global standard. That’s why we have a huge amount of industry partners from China, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Europe and the UK, of course. We all work together and collectively agree on what should be standardised.
But, our plan is not just to do research and testing. We have a 5G centre set-up, a standard group chaired by O2/Telefonica and our partners look at our research and provide input. We believe Wi-Fi is part of the whole story as well.
TM: Within the European Union and the UK in general, when do you think we will have access to 5G technologies?
PT: The first version of 5G technology should be in the market by 2020. Then, it will evolve to meet other objectives. 2020 is the target.
TM: How will it be rolled out within the EU and the UK? Is it going to be something that is universally accessible, because 4G often tends to be more accessible in city centres?
PT: Yes. It is different, not only from a technological point of view, but from the global acceptance of 5G. For 5G to work, it has to work with 4G. The reason we only have 4G in city centres is because of its capacity. As I said, 5G is not just capacity but also connectivity of devices with a very high data rate. We mean to cover buildings, factories and the commercial environment, so it will have more capacity as well as connectivity between devices.
The accessibility of 5G
TM: Obviously, the mobile industry is going to change. With the current price of data, we mentioned that it might be a premium service, do you think it could be widely accessible?
PT: It has to be because it’s not just going to be high-speed data. The business model of the operators will have to change because they have to provide connectivity to utility networks like gas, electricity meters and connecting cars. Eventually, we’ll have driverless cars and 5G technology should evolve to meet these needs; we can’t just come up with a new technology for driverless cars. However, it’s a long way away, not before 2025.
We want this technology to provide economies of scale, so the world can develop different technologies and applications on top of that. Devices of differing capabilities will all be connected, so it will have an impact on the internet architecture – the wired part of the network must change. So, if it was only capacity and speed then 4G is good, but if you want to connect our highway roads, it must be something smarter. Homes become smarter, hospitals become smarter. We have an ageing population and they cannot keep going to their GP and hospital. Remotely you can control that.
We think of the early 90s when we think about mobile communication and beginning to do these sorts of things. Mobile communication has changed our culture, our life, the way we do business, our private lives; it’s all dramatically changed. Now, 5G will change this; it will be a catalyst for all this change in the economy and society. Not only just communication but critical parts of our infrastructure, the services that a nation requires.
So, what we are doing in the 5G centre is trying to come up with this enabling technology, this fundamental technology that will give you this flexibility, robustness, latency and network architecture to come up with those solutions. In 2030, 15 years from now, the world will be very different and we need to have the technology ready.
The future of mobile phones
TM: Obviously, smartphones are changing a lot and we’re seeing an increasing number of smart wearables as well. It feels like they’re going to become a central part of the Internet of Things. I know you’re not working directly with applications, but do you already see the future of mobile phones changing?
PT: I think they will become more intelligent and do more than just communication. We’re focusing on a couple of areas generated from having transformed data into useful applications. So, we have to come up with the artificial intelligence and model the data. Data coming from a smartphone and data coming from a sensor detecting light should have the format to be able to connect to one another.
It must be a model that they can integrate because each individual piece of data is useful, but not when it’s coming from different machines. We have tested it, so all our students – Grad students and Masters students – can come and use the applications. What I would like to do, but I’m not sure if we can do it, is encourage students to hack it, break it down.
TM: To test how safe the network is?
PT: Yes. Then, we learn where the gaps are and fix them. But, I’m not sure whether we can do that or not. That would be fantastic. I’m sure some smart people could bring the network down if they wanted to. We’d probably allocate part of the network for this purpose. Break it down and then tell us how you did it.
The Evolution of Mobile Phones
Setting the standard for 5G
TM: You mentioned smart cars, smart houses, smart cities, smart continents and obviously, the first smart companies like Apple and Google; do you think we could see these major actors becoming more involved in city planning, into home design?
PT: What most of these companies are developing is based on some sort of Wi-Fi system, some sort of proprietary solution, which is good, because people are thinking in this direction. It is encouraging that the industry is taking it seriously and not just the computer industry. However, to make this work on a global scale we need a minimum standard, so everybody builds everything on top of that and the networks talk to each other. If we carry on developing these things, these proprietary solutions, it will stay small.
That’s why I am strongly supportive of a common standard and many people don’t like standards; they say “big boys control everything”. The problem is not having a standard; the problem is perhaps the standards should be regulated and opened to everybody. Because when we talk about new connectivity, a new type of digital economy, we need different regulations.
TM: So, 5G will become the new standard?
PT: The whole idea of the concept, the vision of how we should look at good and bad connectivity, will be very different to the way we have done it for the last 30 years with 1G to 4G. We’re no longer just working within that framework of higher speed.
Many people still don’t know what 5G is because everybody says 5G is going to do more of the same thing, high speed, and that’s where the confusion comes in. That’s why I always say 5G is a special generation. It will be the first generation with full connectivity and then after, 5G will be a second generation of connectivity, then a third generation of connectivity, which is why we’ll not have 6G.
What Professor Tafazolli has made clear is the development of 5G heralds much more than faster data speeds for smartphones. It beckons the Internet of Things, which will see everything connected in our homes, our cities and our countries.
5G is set to transform society as we know it, connecting everything from cars to hospitals, creating a safer and more energy efficient world. What’s more, we won’t have to wait too long to see the first iteration of the network, as the 5G Innovation Centre hopes to introduce it to the world by 2020.