One of my hobbies is to make sure to have a good backup strategy and to loose as little data as possible once the inevitable happens. Rsync and Luckybackup, a graphical frontend for rsync have been my friends for years and helped me to maintain identical copies of critical installations over the years. One weak spot in my backup strategy so far was that some devices are often out of the house and thus away from backup drives and emergency spare duplicates for weeks on end, so any loss of them would mean a significant loss of data. But I’ve got a solution for that, too, now!
One of the main issues I have with tablets and smartphones is that I did not come across a good tool for remote support, i.e. seeing the screen on my PC and being able to use the mouse and the keyboard to interact with the system. Yes, I know there some apps such as Teamviewer but they are not open source so my trust in them is very limited. Finally, however, I’ve been made aware of an interesting tool that can partly do the job: Scrcpy by Genymobile!
When I go on business trips or vacation, I usually do that in the mindset that Internet connectivity will not be as good as at home and that I will be restricted in some way. While in Europe, LTE coverage is usually good wherever I go and speeds are usually sufficient in the double digit Mbit/s range in both the uplink and downlink direction. That’s good enough for most things but outside of Germany, the amount of data I can use per month is still limited. Outside of Europe, things are worse but they are getting better. On the fixed line side I’ve long given up expecting decent Internet connectivity at hotels, with speeds in the double digit Mbit/s range in both the uplink and downlink direction being a huge exception rather than the norm. When I was recently in Malaga in southern Spain for a week, I went there with the same expectation but was very positively surprised about the triple digit up- and downlink speeds in the rental apartment.
I had to wait a long time for this but finally, finally, SSD prices have dropped again! Back in August 2017 I wrote a post that SSD prices had not fallen at all over the previous two years and that I was at the point of needing an upgrade from a 1 TB SSD to a 2 TB SSD. However, not at 600 euros a piece. Fortunately, Moore’s law has resumed and in 2018, SSD prices finally started to drop again. Now at the beginning of 2019, I could finally get a 2 TB Samsung 860 EVO SSD (2.5″ SATA) at my price limit of around 300 Euros. It cost 319 Euros to be exact. Prices of other manufacturers such as SanDisk and Crucial were down to around 250 – 270 euros. No more economizing and moving seldom used data to offline storage anymore for some time to come!
A few days ago I was called for help from a family member because instead of deleting one picture on the camera, a friend accidentally deleted ALL pictures on the SD card. Obviously there weren’t just a few images on the SD card, no, it was close to a thousand. Probably happening a million times a day on the planet but I have to admit that was a bit of a challenge to fix remotely.
And jumping right from the last science fiction book review to the next one. I could have gone for the sequel of ‘The Sleeping Giants’ but decided to do that later and go for something else first. My choice fell on “We Are Legion, We Are Bob” by Dennis E. Taylor.
In the previous two parts on the topic I’ve been looking at why there is a need to evolve the initial 5G network architecture in which 5G base stations are merely a side-kick to the LTE access and LTE core to a pure 5G access and a 5G core network. There are several ways how to evolve from the initial state, and the options that seem most likely to me are ‘Option 4’ and ‘Option 7’. Both options have in common that they use a 5G core network and that 4G and 5G radio networks are combined to increase the throughput for high speed Internet users. Over time, spectrum is then piece by piece transitioned from 4G to 5G as the number of 5G devices that can talk to a 5G core network increases. While these options look nice they have a weak spot for network operators with little low band spectrum.
At the moment, most network operators scrambling to deploy 5G are doing so based on EN-DC (EUTRAN-New Radio – Dual Connectivity) which is also referred to as ‘Option 3’. As the longer abbreviation suggests, this way of deploying 5G uses the ‘legacy’ LTE radio network as a base and connects a 5G radio network alongside it. In fact, with Option 3, the ‘legacy’ LTE radio is in charge and the 5G radio network is merely used as a sort of side-kick to increase data rates. In the core network the LTE EPC, the LTE Evolved Packet Core, continues to be used with only minor changes that focus on controlling the higher data rates and which subscribers are allowed to use the 5G radio network side-kick. This is a nice setup to start with as it is backwards compatible and does not require any handovers between 4G and 5G when running out of 5G coverage. But it’s far from an ideal and pure 5G network that is envisaged in the future with a service oriented core network and a 5G radio network that stands on its own.
So how do we get to a pure 5G network in an orderly fashion that doesn’t break backwards compatibility for LTE-only devices and without unduly limiting the air interface capacity for LTE devices in the process? There is unfortunately not a single answer and not a single solution for all circumstances. In this and the following post I’ll have a look at what I think are the most likely migration scenarios over the coming decade and why.