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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Huawei Threatens Cisco With Application Driven Networking

Huawei is pointing a gun straight at Cisco with a new strategy it's calling Application Driven Networking (ADN), designed to give comms networks the flexibility required for New IP applications.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. announced its Application Driven Networking (ADN) without a lot of fanfare early last month. It sounds at first like a "me too" strategy that copies Cisco's similarly named Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI). (See Huawei Unveils Application-Driven Network Vision.)

But ADN is more than just a marketing campaign, as Ayush Sharma, senior VP and IP CTO for Huawei, explains it. It's an architecture that uses 5G principles to build networks with the flexibility needed for the different requirements of traditional voice, Internet and machine-to-machine communications.

While Cisco is building a virtual network overlay on top of MPLS and other traditional network components, Huawei is using open source, SDN, NFV and the 5G principles of network slicing to build programmable, network-agnostic networks on top of any media, including copper, fiber and wireless and LTE, Sharma tells Light Reading.

Carriers need to go beyond the old, simplistic definition of five-nines of reliability to meet the different demands of different kinds of applications, Sharma says.

For example, traditional voice networks follow the "Poisson distribution model," Huawei Fellow Wen Tong said in a statement. "Poisson Distribution" is a statistical model -- what it means for comms companies is that phone calls are likely to remain at a constant frequency and duration over time. This model is suitable for a hierarchical network architecture.

Internet communications follow a power-law distribution model, where most users are connected to central nodes.

And machine-to-machine communications comprises many different cases with greatly varying needs. For example, communications between connected cars requires extremely low latency. "In telemedicine, remote video systems require ultra-wide bandwidth, low latency and high reliability," Huawei says. "In this case, networks must create small systems locally and huge systems globally. The Markov distribution model supports network architecture with both distributed and centralized controls." (See How IoT Forked the Mobile Roadmap.)

These principles -- flexibility, applications driving technology and use of open components -- are hallmarks of New IP networks.

Huawei achieves the network flexibility required for the new generation of apps by dividing the network logically into the data plane, control plane and the services plane, where third-party applications such as the connected car, robotic surgery and drone control systems reside.

On the data plane (also known as the forwarding plane) the network uses programming languages such as Huawei's own Protocol Oblivious Forwarding, which is compatible with the industry standard P4, as well as OpenFlow, to forward traffic.

On the control plane, Huawei uses open protocols from ON.Lab 's ONOS andOpenDaylight to manage devices.

On the services plane, applications don't need to know anything about the underlying network complexity.

"Earlier, these kinds of things were vertically integrated into a box," says Sharma. A router contained forwarding, control and some network applications. Now the forwarding and control plane are separate devices built using standardized components and the applications reside anywhere on the network.

An example of Huawei's ADN in action is AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Central Office Re-architected as Data Center (CORD), a scalable, white-box architecture designed to deliver services more economically than the current central office set-up, incorporating multiple single-function boxes. Huawei is partnering with AT&T on CORD. (See AT&T to Show Off Next-Gen Central Office and Ciena Offers Hardened ONOS for Next-Gen Central Office Conversions.)

For another example, a connected car needs to be able to receive software upgrades, bug fixes and send reports from sensors. "They don't care whether it's over a fixed connection, WiFi, SDN or NFV. They need to be connecting, need a certain QoS, they don't care about implementation," Sharma says.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

3 Useful Wireless Technologies You Should Know About

Most of you are intimately familiar with the popular short-range wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, ZigBee, 802.15.4, and maybe even Z-Wave. All of these are addressing the Internet-of-Things (IoT) movement. But there are other, lesser-known technologies worth considering. I have identified three that justify a closer look, especially if longer range is a requirement: These are LoRaSigfox, and Weightless.

All of these are relatively new and solve the range problem for some IoT or Machine-to-Machine (M2M) applications. These technologies operate in the <1 a="" always="" for="" frequencies="" ghz="" give="" given="" level="" longer="" lower="" nbsp="" p="" power="" range="" spectrum.="" unlicensed="">
thanks to the physics of radio waves. Where most shorter-range technologies fizzle out beyond about 10 meters, these newer technologies are good up to several miles or so.

Up until now, cellular connections have been used to implement M2M or IoT monitoring and control applications with a range greater than several hundred meters. Most cellular operators offer an M2M service, and multiple cell phone module makers can provide the hardware. But because of the technical complexity and high cost, cellular is not the best solution for a simple monitoring or control application.
These newer technologies offer the range needed at lower cost and significantly lower power consumption. This new category is known now as low power wide area networks (LPWANs). These are beginning to emerge as a significant competitor to cellular in the IoT/M2M space. Recent investigation by Beecham Research predicts that by 2020 as much as 26% of IoT/M2M coverage will be by LPWAN.


LoRa stands for long-range radio. This technology is a product of Semtech. Typical operating frequencies are 915 MHz for the U.S., 868 MHz for Europe, and 433 MHz for Asia. The LoRa physical layer (PHY) uses a unique form of FM chirp spread spectrum, along with forward error correction (FEC), allowing it to demodulate signals 20 to 30 dB below the noise level. This gives it a huge link budget with a 20- to 30-dB advantage over a typical FSK system.
The spread spectrum modulation permits multiple radios to use the same band if each radio uses a different chirp and data rate. Data rates range from 0.03kb/s to 37.5 kb/s. Transmitter power level is 20 dBm. Typical range is 2 to 5 km, and up to 15 km is possible depending upon the location and antenna characteristics.
The media-access-control (MAC) layer is called LoRaWAN. It is IPv6 compatible. The basic topology is a star where multiple end points communicate with a single gateway, which provides the backhaul to the Internet. Maximum payload in a packet is 256 bytes. A CRC is used for error detection. Several levels of security (EUI64 and EUI128) are used to provide security. Low power consumption is a key feature.


Sigfox is a French company offering its wireless technology, as well as a local LPWAN for longer-range IoT or M2M applications. It operates in the 902-MHz ISM band but consumes very little bandwidth or power. Sigfox radios use a controversial technique called ultranarrowband (UNB) modulation. UNB is a variation of BPSK and supposedly produces no sidebands if zero or negative group delay filters are use in implementation. It uses only low data rates to transmit short messages occasionally. For example, Sigfox has a maximum payload separate from the node address of 12 b. A node can send no more than 140 messages per day. This makes Sigfox ideal for simple applications such as energy metering, alarms, or other basic sensor applications. Sigfox can set up a local LPWAN, then charge a low rate for a service subscription.


Weightless is an open-LPWAN standard and technology for IoT and M2M applications. It is sponsored by the Weightless SIG and is available in several versions. The original version, Weightless-W, was designed to use the TV white spaces or unused TV channels from 54 to 698 MHz. Channels are 6-MHz wide in the U.S. and 8-MHz wide in Europe. These channels are ideal to support long range and non-line of sight transmission. The standard employs cognitive radio technology to ensure no interference to local TV signals. The basestation queries a database to see what channels are available locally for data transmission. Modulation can be simple differential BPSK up to 16 QAM with frequency hopping spread spectrum supporting data rates from about 1 kb/s to 16 Mb/s. Duplexing is time-division (TDD). Typical maximum range is about 5 to 10 km.
Weightless-N is a simpler version using DBPSK for very narrow bands to support lower data rates. Weightless-P is a newer, more robust version using either GMSK or offset-QPSK modulation. Data rates can be up to 100 kb/s using 12.5 kHz channels. Both the N and P versions work in the standard <1ghz all="" and="" authentication="" bands.="" encryption="" for="" incorporate="" ism="" p="" security.="" versions="">

Other LPWAN Options

The three technologies listed above will probably dominate LPWAN applications, but there are a few other choices. One is a variation of Wi-Fi designated by the IEEE as standard 802.11af. It was designed to operate in the TV white spaces with 6 or 8 MHz channels. The modulation is OFDM using BPSK, QPSK, 16QAM, 64QAM or 256QAM. The maximum data rate per 6-MHz channel is about 24 Mb/s. Up to four channels can be bonded to get higher rates. Data base query is part of the protocol to identify useable local channels.
A forthcoming variation is 802.11ah, a non-white space <1ghz 2016.="" addresses="" applications.="" available="" bands="" be="" consumption="" expected="" for="" in="" is="" ism="" issue="" it="" low="" p="" power="" simpler="" speed="" the="" to="" version="" wi-fi="">
Another IEEE standard identified for possible LPWAN is 802.22. This is another OFDM standard that has been around for years. Since 802.11af /ah and 802.22 use OFDM, their power consumption make them less desirable for low power applications. Their main advantage may be the higher data rates possible.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Examining The Future Of WiFi: 802.11ah, 802.11ad (& Others)

In just 15 years, WiFi has evolved from sluggish connections to an incredibly versatile connective technology. And because it plays an integral role in the lives of hundreds of millions of people, it is being improved almost constantly. But what are those big changes? And what will these new technologies bring about in upcoming years? Consumers and companies are looking for two things in particular: incredible range and extreme speed.
Within this article, we’ll give a brief explanation on IEEE protocols and standards and a history of the 802.11 family. We’ll also take a look at three up-and-coming wireless network options:
  • 802.11ah: for low data rate, long-range sensors and controllers.
  • 802.11af: for similar applications to 802.11ah. This network option relies on unused TV spectrums instead of 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bands for transmission.
  • 802.11ad: for multigigabit speeds (sans wires) and high-performance networking.

A Brief Overview Of IEEE Standards

The Institute of Electronics and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a professional association that acts as an authority for electronic communication. The IEEE creates standards and protocols for communication in industries like telecommunications, information technology, and much more.  Each standard that the IEEE ratifies is designated by a unique number. 802 is the prefix used for any protocol or amendment that entails area networking. For instance, standards for ethernet local area networks (LANs) are designated by 802.3, and Bluetooth personal area networks (PANs) are designated by 802.15. Wireless LANs—the subject of this article—are designated by 802.11.
In 1997, the IEEE released the base standard for wireless local area network (WLAN) communications, which they called called 802.11. In the years following, many amendments were made to this standard. Let’s walk through what each standard has brought to communications.

A History Of Past & Current 802.11 Amendments

802.11a (1990): “WiFi A”—also known as the OFDM (Orthogonal, Frequency Division Multiplexing) waveform—was the first amendment, and it came two years after the standard was complete. This amendment defined 5 gigahertz band extensions, which made it more flexible (since the 2.4 GHz space was crowded with wireless home telephones, baby monitors, microwaves, and more).
802.11b (2000): As one of the first widely used protocols, “WiFi B” had an improved range and transfer rate, but it is very slow by today’s standards (maxing out at 11 mbps). 802.11b defined 2.4 GHz band extensions. This protocol is still supported (since 80% of WiFi runs off of 2.4 GHz), but the technology isn’t manufactured anymore because it’s been replaced by faster options.
802.11g (2003): “WiFi G” came onto the market three years after B, and it offered roughly five times the transfer rate (at 54 mbps). It defined 2.4 GHz band extensions at a higher data rate. The primary benefit it offered was greater speed, which was increasingly important to consumers. Today, these speeds are not fast enough to keep up with the average number of WiFi-enabled devices in a household or a strong wireless draw from a number of devices.
802.11n (2007): “WiFi N” offered another drastic improvement in transfer rate speed—300-450 mbps, depending on the number of antennas—and range. This was the first main protocol that operated on both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. These transfer rates allow large amounts of data to be transmitted more quickly than ever before.
802.11ac (2013): In 2013, “WiFi AC” was introduced. AC was the first step in what is considered “Gigabit WiFi,” meaning it offers speeds of nearly 1 gbps, which is equivalent to 800 mbps. That’s roughly 20 times more powerful than 802.11n, making this an important (and widely used) new protocol. AC runs on a 5 GHz band, which is important—because it’s less widely used, you’ll have an advantage as far as high online speeds are concerned, though the higher frequency and higher modulation rate mean the range is more limited

“Future” WiFi Technologies


802.11ah is 900 megahertz WiFi, which is ideal for low power consumption and long-range data transmission. It’s earned the nickname “the low power WiFi” for that very reason.
Who will use it: Companies who have sensor-level technology that they need to be WiFi-enabled.
  • Can penetrate through walls and obstructions better than high frequency networks like 802.11ad, which we’ll discuss below.
  • Great for short, bursty data that doesn’t use a good deal of power consumption and needs to travel long distances. This would be applicable in smart building applications, like smart lightingsmart HVAC, and smart security systems. It would also work for smart city applications, like parking garages and parking meters.
  • There is no global standard for 900 MHz. Right now, 80% of the world uses 2.4 GHz WiFi. That is a benefit because you can connect on these global standard bands anywhere in the world. (If you’re on a Mac, try this: hold down the option key and click your WiFi symbol at the top. You’ll see a bunch of information about the WiFi network you’re connected to, including channel.)
  • AH isn’t available right now. The IEEE is in the final phases of resolving the standard, and once that’s done—currently slated for March 2016—the chip manufacturers (like HUAWEI, Broadcom, and Qualcomm) will have a chance to start creating physical layer chips. You will most likely start seeing WiFi AH products appear in the next 18 months to two years. The good news, however, is that organizations are providing similar technology for low power, wide-area networks (LPWAN) now, so you don’t have to wait until 802.11ah is complete to benefit from the technology.


802.11af utilizes unused television spectrum frequencies (i.e., white spaces) to transmit information. Because of this, it’s earned the nickname “White-Fi.” Because these frequencies are between 54 MHz and 790 MHz, AF can be used for low power, wide-area range, like AH.
Who will use it:
  • Organizations that need extremely long-range wireless networks.
  • Lower interference can drastically improve performance.
  • Because AF can use several unused TV channels at once, it can be used for very long range devices—potentially up to several miles, with high data rates.
  • It’s still in proposal stages, so it hasn’t been approved or released to the mass market yet.
  • “White space” channels are not available everywhere, like in big cities.


802.11ad couldn’t be further from AH. While AH is a future LPWAN option, AD is ideal forvery high data rate, very short range communications.
AD WiFi—previously known as WiGig because of it’s predecessor 802.11ac—separates itself from the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and operates on a 60 GHz band. This space is completely free and open, which helps it achieve speeds that are 50 times faster than WiFi N. And while AH uses 900 MHz, AD uses 60 GHz. To put that into perspective, 60 GHz is equivalent to 60,000 MHz.
Who will use it:
  • Enterprise-level organizations that need extended bandwidth with very short-range devices.
  • Very good for high data rate, short-range file transfers and communication.Back in 2007 when 802.11n was introduced, it was regarded as the fastest protocol yet. At 8 gbps, AD is 50 times faster than WiFi N. In fact, this protocol is so fast that, according to this Fast Company article, AD has the potential to “enable a whole new class of devices” like “wireless hard drives that feel as fast as locally connected ones.”
  • The chips are very expensive to manufacture, which makes this a costly set up.
  • AD provides a very short range. When you have a really high frequency like 60 GHz, short-range communications are ideal. This isn’t a problem if you have the router right next to you, but if you need it to penetrate walls, you’ll need additional routers.
  • AD (which operates on a 60 GHz band) is not a recognized international standard. This is also a downside for AH.


AH (low data rate, long-range sensors and controller WiFi), AF (or “White-Fi, as it uses unused TV spectrums for long-range transmission), and AD (the non-wired multigigabit high-performance networking WiFi) are three important up-and-coming changes to WiFi as we know it.
These three amendments are clear evidence that WiFi has undergone a spectacular transformation in the past decade and a half. And with the IEEE reviewing amendments to the 802.11 protocol on a near regular basis, we’re certain that the next 15 years will hold just as many interesting changes.

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