AT&T: Latency sensitive, next-gen apps need Edge Computing & We’re All In!

AT&T strongly advocates the use of edge computing (EC) as a way to reinvent the telco network and cloud so as to make new services like augmented reality, virtual reality, and low latency “5G” applications practicable.

The company’s CTO wrote in a blog post that it is adding intelligence to its cell towers, central offices, and small cells that are at the “edge” of the cloud by outfitting them with high-end graphics processing chips and other general purpose computers. By doing so, it will reduce the distance that data has to travel to get processed, thereby reducing latency and boosting overall network performance.

“Edge computing fulfills the promise of the cloud to transcend the physical constraints of our mobile devices,” said Andre Fuetsch, president of AT&T Labs and CTO in a statement. “The capabilities of tomorrow’s “5G” are the missing link that will make edge computing possible.”  That’s because many “5G” applications require low latency, especially for real time control of machinery and Internet connected devices (IoT).

AT&T said it will begin deploying edge computing out over the next few years starting with urban areas and expanding those over time. The company also said that MEC is an important element to the company’s network virtualization program. The company’s goal is to have 55 percent of its network virtualized by year-end with a longer term goal of having 75 percent of its network virtualized by 2020.

Part of AT&T’s network virtualization effort is the deployment of a centralized RAN (C-RAN) architecture, which will be virtualized to help speed the evolution to “5G” services. More on that from Gordon Mansfield, AT&T’s VP of RAN and Device Design here.

The above referenced AT&T blog post identified the challenge and solution for next-gen applications:

Here’s the challenge: Next-gen applications like autonomous cars and augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) will demand massive amounts of near-real time computation.

For example, according to some third-party estimates, self-driving cars will generate as much as 3.6 terabytes of data per hour from the clusters of cameras and other sensors. Some functions like braking, turning and acceleration will likely always be managed by the computer systems in the cars themselves.

But what if we could offload some of the secondary systems to the cloud? These include things like updating and accessing detailed maps these cars will use to navigate.

Or consider AR/VR. The industry is moving to a model where those applications will come through your smartphone. But creating entirely virtual worlds or overlaying digital images and graphics on top of the real world in a convincing way also requires a lot of processing power. Even when phones can deliver that horsepower, the tradeoff is extremely short battery life.

Edge computing addresses those obstacles by moving the computation into the cloud in a way that feels seamless. It’s like having a wireless supercomputer follow you wherever you go.


AT&T said that it’s already deploying EC-capable services to enterprise customers today through AT&T FlexWareSM service. Customers can currently manage powerful network services through a standard tablet device. We expect to see more applications for EC in areas like public safety that will be enabled by the FirstNet wireless broadband network.

The company claims to be committed to deploying mobile 5G as soon as possible and are committed to edge computing. As AT&T rolls out EC over the next few years, dense urban areas will be their first targets, and they’ll expand from those over time.

In conclusion, AT&T stated “we’re all in- now (for edge computing)” as per these strong closing remarks:

AT&T Labs and AT&T Foundry innovation centers are at the heart of designing and testing edge computing. In February, the AT&T Foundry in Palo Alto, CA, released a white paper on the computing and networking challenges around AR/VR. We’ll put out a second white paper in the coming weeks. It will discuss how we can apply edge computing to enable mobile augmented and virtual reality technology in the ecosystem.

There’s no time to lose. We think edge computing will drive a wave of innovation unlike anything seen since the dawn of the internet itself. Stay tuned.


Other network operators have been touting multi-access edge computing (MEC) in conjunction with “5G” networks. Late last year, 5G Americas, a trade group representing several operators in North and South America (including AT&T), released a white paper about the growing interest in MEC and said that standards bodies like the 3GPP and ETSI are considering including MEC in the 5G standards development.

ETSI has formed the Multi-access Edge Computing Industry Specification Group (MEC ISG).  Earlier this month, ETSI released its first package of standardized application programming interfaces (APIs) that will support MEC interoperability.





Telecom Italia “5G” trial to blanket San Marino in 2018

According to the Financial Times (on line subscription required):

Telecom Italia plans to test its home grown “5G” technology in the micro-state of San Marino next year, making it the first country in the world to boast a nationwide 5G network.  The state of San Marino, which has little more than 30,000 citizens, extends to only 61 sq km, making it the smallest republic in the world.

Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of the tiny country to upgrade the existing 4G-LTE network in advance of a trial of “5G” services in 2018. It will double the number of mobile sites and will install a network of small cells in downtown San Marino, a Unesco heritage site, this year that will provide the backbone of the future commercial network. Investment in 5G network trials are taking place around the world with carriers in South Korea, China and the US among the most active in testing 5G technology. Giovanni Ferigo, head of technology for Telecom Italia Mobile, said San Marino’s 5G network would be the first in Europe “for sure.”

It was not revealed who created the specs for the Italian telco’s “5G” network or where Telecom Italia will procure the end point devices/handsets.  One would assume that Ericsson is supplying TIM with the “5G” base stations, based on a MOU signed between the two companies in March of this year.  TIM wrote in a press release on March 2, 2017:

TIM and Ericsson are committing to share skills, projects, laboratories and resources for designing, testing and building the technological components of the new 5G network needed to create a complete and open ecosystem around next-generation digital services.

In particular, the agreement will directly involve the research and innovation structures of the two companies, focusing on the design and testing of access infrastructure, the respective antenna systems and network virtualisation solutions, particularly through joint participation in Italian and European research projects and integration of service platforms for testing in the field of innovative Use Cases.

The 5G system will provide peak speeds of up to dozens of Gbps for UltraHD services and cloud computing solutions, a decrease in communication latency, reducing it to a few milliseconds, reliability for mission-critical services and service density with the ability to connect up to a hundred thousand terminals per cell. These characteristics mean that 5G will become the reference mobile network for next-generation digital services (such as virtual reality) and for the industrial Internet (robotics, manufacturing, health, environment, self-driving logistics).

The agreement is part of the “5G for Italy” initiative launched in 2016 by TIM and Ericsson for the establishment of an ecosystem of experimental industrial partners, confirming the commitment of the two companies to innovating technologies and networks in support of the socio-economic growth of the country.


Telecom Italia is also testing “5G” in Milano and Torino, but has more freedom in San Marino to experiment because of fewer restrictions on the use of airwaves than in Italy.

“We need to experiment as soon as possible,” Mr Ferigo said.  The work done in San Marino would play a critical role in the future of 5G technology in Italy but was also crucial to the wider European sector as standards for the new network are refined.

“For 5G, our intention is a European leadership in standardization,” he said. The European Commission published a 5G action plan last year when it estimated that sectors such as healthcare, transport, cars and utilities would see economic benefits of €113bn by 2025 from the technology.  However, the European Commission does not generate any telecom standards.  For Europe, that’s ETSI which contributes to 3GPP and its members contribute to ITU-R WP 5D which is standardizing true 5G (as we’ve noted in numerous blog posts/articles).

Earlier this year, Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM) said LTE customers are expected to account for around 90% of its mobile broadband customers by 2019;  That’s due to almost blanket LTE coverage of Italy with network speeds up to 75 Mbps and peaks of 500 Mbps in the main cities via the use of LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation.

The above referenced FT “5G” article states:

Some countries have committed to the first 5G launches in 2019 but the wider telecoms industry is still struggling to define exactly what 5G technology is and some have argued that it is not yet clear how they can justify spending billions on the new network.

Mr Ferigo said the San Marino launch would be “very important” in defining the use case for 5G that would transform all sectors from healthcare to robotics to public transport. Telecom Italia has started working with companies including Maserati and Ducati on the use of better wireless technology but also the makers of parmesan cheese who want to better monitor the cows in their fields. Small territories have been used in the past for telecoms testing. The first 3G trial in the UK took place on the Isle of Man, while the remote Isle of Bute in Scotland was used to test “white space” technology.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.




Verizon trial validates NG-PON2 interoperability via its OpenOMCI specification

Verizon reported a successful trial of next-generation passive optical networking NG-PON2 technology using the carrier’s OpenOMCI specification. The OpenOMCI specification is aligned with ITU-T Recommendation G.989.3, but there are different versions from several carriers.

It’s important to note that this is Verizon’s own version of the OpenOMCI spec. Verizon, along with ADTRAN, Broadcom, Cortina Access, Ericsson/Calix and Intel, worked together to develop the OpenOMCI specification that led to the successful trial. The specification defines the OLT-to-ONT interface and is aligned with the ITU-T Recommendation G.989.3. Since the initial NG-PON2 trial by Verizon in December 2016 , these companies intend to make their hardware and software compliant and are actively contributing to the OpenOMCI specification.

AT&T also published an OpenOMCI specification just a few weeks ago, based on ITU-T G.988 Managed Entities. AT&T intends to deploy an XGS-PON architecture as part of the overall FTTP solution for its Lightspeed service, hence its OpenOMCI spec differs from Verizon’s FiOS-based one. XGS-PON is championed by Nokia (who is not part of Verizon’s vendor group) and also delivers 10Gbit/s to customers.

The trial at Verizon’s technology center in Waltham, MA involved optical network terminal management and provisioning.

By outlining the tools necessary to model a multi-wavelength PON, Verizon says the OpenOMCI specification optimises the number of managed entities and methods that can be used to implement a particular service function while disallowing vendor-proprietary objects and features that have provided a major obstacle for interoperability efforts until now. The OpenOMCI also includes specific managed entities that, in Verizon’s opinion, improve the stability of PON systems. With today’s PON deployments, telcos are obliged to use the same vendor for both optical line terminals (OLT) and optical network terminals (ONT) which prevents multi-vendor interoperability.

“The NG-PON2 interoperability effort is important, not only for Verizon but for NG-PON2 technology, and is based on lessons learned over the last 13 years of PON deployment and great partnerships,” said Vincent O’Byrne, PhD and director of technology at Verizon. “We see this work as removing a major roadblock and helping accelerate NG-PON2 deployment.”

O’Byrne told FierceTelecom that the OpenOMCI specification will help to ensure the company can deploy an array of OLTs and ONTs in its network. He said:

“Since October 2016 we have been working with the vendors on enabling interoperability to mix and match one vendor’s OLT with another vendor’s ONTs, which is an object we have had since we started deploying BPON in 2004. “We have been working with these vendors and have developed OpenOMCI communications between the OLT and the ONT and how that issue is handled for NG-PON2.”

Along with ONT management and provisioning, the trial investigated transmission convergence layer features that allow support of not only business and residential traffic but wireless transport services. These features are a unique addition to NG-PON2 compared to other PON systems.

“We continuously sought the various contributors’ feedback and constructive input,” said Denis Khotimsky , Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff and Verizon’s lead engineer for the trial. “NG-PON2 technology creates specific challenges for the management layer to handle, such as multi-wavelength operations, pluggable optics and multiple interface enhancements. The Verizon OpenOMCI specification meets those challenges.”

Representatives of several telcos interested in the NG-PON2 technology – including Deutsche Telekom, SK Telecom and Vodafone – participated in the trial as virtual observers, which gave them access to the specification, test plans and readouts.

Following the successful completion of the trial, Verizon shared its OpenOMCI specification with the industry for possible inclusion within the appropriate standards. A copy of Verizon OpenOMCI specification can be found here.


Microsoft White Spaces Plan would bring 2 million Americans online by 2022

Microsoft today announced a project to bring broadband internet access to rural parts of the U.S. using TV white spaces, unlicensed and unused spectrum.   Microsoft President Brad Smith unveiled details about the initiative at a Tuesday event in Washington, D.C. as a way to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas.

Microsoft’s ambitious plan, dubbed the Rural Air-band Initiative, will begin in 12 states, where the company said it will invest in broadband connectivity alongside local telecom services. The company said that it does not intend to enter the telecom business itself or profit directly from the initiative. Instead, Microsoft said it will supply the upfront capital required to expand broadband coverage, then recoup that cost by sharing in the revenue with local operating partners.

The company is calling for a combination of private and public investments to get about 2 million rural Americans online in the next five years.  Microsoft plans to partner with telecommunications companies that serve rural counties in 12 states: Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Washington, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Virginia, New York and Maine. It’s also asking for regulatory support from the Federal Communications Commission.

Mr. Smith will also urge President Donald Trump and his administration to ensure that unlicensed white space is available in all U.S. markets.  “As a country, we should not settle for an outcome that leaves behind more than 23 million of our rural neighbors,” Smith wrote in a blog post.

“To the contrary, we can and should bring the benefits of broadband coverage to every corner of the nation,” he added.  Smith said the TV white spaces provides powerful bandwidth to allow wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees.

“Today, 34 million Americans still lack broadband internet access, which is defined by the Federal Communications Commission as a 25 Mbps connection,” Smith posted. “Of these, 23.4 million live in rural parts of our country. People who live in these rural communities increasingly are unable to take advantage of the economic and educational opportunities enjoyed by their urban neighbors.”  Smith said Microsoft wants to eliminate the rural broadband gap by July 4, 2022.

“Our goal is to serve as a catalyst for market investments by others in order to reach additional rural communities,” he stated in his blog post.

Microsoft company faces many hurdles with the technology. For one, few manufacturers are making devices compatible with white-spaces technology, and some devices that can be used with the technology cost more than $1,000 each. The National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group, said that only 800 devices that worked with white-spaces technology had been registered with regulators.

“White spaces has tremendous opportunity to help with broadband coverage in rural areas, but it’s hard to justify the cost to device makers who don’t see economies of scale in rural areas,” said Doug Brake, a senior analyst at the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, a research organization that is sponsored by tech companies including Microsoft.

Mr. Smith said that he would demonstrate four devices that work with white-space technology at Tuesday’s event, adding that prices for such gadgets would fall below $200 by next year.

Another challenge is a battle with television broadcasters who have long argued that devices on the unused airwaves can interfere with the broadcasts run on neighboring channels. This week, the National Association of Broadcasters filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission arguing against Microsoft’s request for one nationwide channel to be set aside for white-spaces use.

“Microsoft has been making promises about white-spaces technology for well over a decade,” Patrick McFadden, an associate general counsel for the association, wrote in comments to the commission. “At what point do we finally conclude that the white spaces project is a bust?”

Author’s Closing Comment:
It seems Microsoft and Google have been talking about White Spaces forever.  I first heard Larry Page of Google talk about it at a broadband wireless conference in 2005- when WiMAX was all the rage.  Here’s a Microsoft co-authored article published in 2008 on Networking over White Spaces.  One has to question whether the public-private partnership Microsoft seeks will be economically viable after over a decade extolling the potential and promises of broadband Internet over White Spaces.





China Orders Telecom Companies To Block VPN Access to Global Internet

by ERIC LIEBERMAN, Tech and Law Reporter for Daily Caller.
Edited by Alan J Weissberger

China’s government has reportedly directed telecommunications companies to block their users from accessing a secure internet network.

The country’s authorities are specifically mandating that state-run wireless carriers — like China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile — forbid people from using virtual private networks (VPNs). China is giving the quasi-private companies until Feb. 1, 2018 to comply with its orders, according to Bloomberg.

The technological capability gives users the ability to navigate the web anonymously through an encrypted, secure connection.

VPNs enable Chinese citizens with the ability to circumvent the country’s firewall (also known as the Great Firewall of China), which technically prohibits people from accessing many online services and sites that are available on the global internet. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, for example, are not accessible due to the firewall, so many Chinese citizens use Sina Weibo, a similar platform that is based in China and adheres to government’s calls for targeted censorship.

China’s propensity towards censorship manifests itself quite often, in fact, including in late June when the popular Netflix original “BoJack Horseman” was blocked just days after debuting in the country. (RELATED: China Battles For Internet Hegemony After America Gives Up Control)

Companies operating in Chinese territory will still be able to use networks connected to the international web, but will have to formally register their utilization of such utilities, according to Bloomberg.

“In the past, any effort to cut off internal corporate VPNs has been enough to make a company think about closing or reducing operations in China. It’s that big a deal,” Jake Parker, vice president of the U.S.-China Business Council, told Bloomberg.

“VPNs are incredibly important for companies trying to access global services outside of China,” he said, adding that the order also seems to affect individuals across the country.


Overview & Schedule for ITU-R WP 5D: IMT 2020 True “5G” Standards

Overview of ITU-R Working Party 5D work (as per July 5, 2017 report):

Working Party 5D:

1. Is responsible for the overall system aspects of the terrestrial component of IMT, comprising IMT-2000, IMT-Advanced, and IMT for 2020 and beyond.

2. Has the prime responsibility within ITU-R for issues related to the terrestrial component of IMT, including technical, operational and spectrum related issues to meet the objectives of future IMT systems.

3. Is the lead group for the overall maintenance of existing and the development of new Reports/Recommendations on IMT.

4. Is responsible for studies related on aspects regarding the continued deployment of IMT‑2000 and IMT-Advanced including aspects such as convergence impacts regulatory and operational matters within the purview of Study Group 5.

5. Will continue to work closely with Working Parties 4B and 4C on issues related to the satellite component of IMT.

6. Will continue to work closely with other Working Parties on issues relevant for IMT systems.


Scopes for the various ITU-R WP 5D Working Groups:


– To develop deliverables on services, forecasts, and also convergence of services of fixed and mobile networks which take account the needs of end users, and the demand for IMT capabilities and supported services. This includes aspects regarding the continued deployment of IMT, other general topics of IMT and overall objectives for the long-term development of IMT. To update the relevant IMT Recommendations/Reports.

– To ensure that the requirements and needs of the developing countries are reflected in the work and deliverables of WP 5D in the development of IMT. This includes coordination of work with ITU-D Sector on deployments of IMT systems and transition to IMT system.


– To provide the technology related aspects of IMT through development of Recommendations and Reports. To update the relevant IMT‑2000 and IMT-Advanced Recommendations.  To work on key elements of IMT technologies including requirements, evaluation, and evolution. To develop liaison with external research and standardization forums, and to coordinate the external and internal activities related to the IMT-2020 process.

– To manage the research topics website and its findings.


– To undertake co-existence studies, develop spectrum plans, and channel/frequency arrangements for IMT. This includes spectrum sharing between IMT and other radio services/systems coordinating as appropriate with other Working Parties in ITU-R.


– To coordinate the work of WP 5D to facilitate efficient and timely progress of work items.


Meeting schedule

The following table shows the proposed meeting dates for Working Party 5D following on WRC‑15. Some adjustment of these dates might be required to accommodate availability of facilities at specific venues. Every effort will be made to keep these dates as listed. Please check the ITU website in case meeting details have changed. (









23 February 16

2 March 16


7 working day meeting



14 June 16

22 June 16


7 working day meeting



5 October 16

13 October 16


7 working day meeting



14 February 17

22 February 17


7 working day meeting



13 June 17

21 June 17


7 working day meeting



3 October 17

11 October 17


7 working day meeting, including a one-day workshop



31 January 18

7 February 18




13 June 18

20 June 18




9 October 18

16 October 18


WP 5D Expert meeting


[11 February 19]

[15 February 19]


If needed. Focus of meeting towards RA-19 and WRC-19


18 February 19

28 February 19




9 July 19

17 July 19


7 working day meeting


21 October 19

25 October 19



28 October 19

22 November 19




[9 December] 19

[13 December] 19


Focus meeting on evaluation (WG Technology Aspects)



19 February 20

26 February 20




24 June 20

1 July 20




7 October 20

14 October 20



Work with involved organizations, including research entities:

The strategy for ITU-R WP 5D going forward is to gather information from the organizations involved in the global research and development and those that have an interest in the future development of IMT and to inform them of the framework and technical requirements in order to build consensus on a global level.

ITU-R WP 5D can play an essential role to promote and encourage these research activities towards common goals and to ensure that information from the WP 5D development on the vision, spectrum issues, envisioned new services and technical requirements are widespread among the research community. In the same manner, WP 5D encourages inputs from the external communities involved in these research and technology developments.

It is evident that continuing dialogue between the ITU and the entities taking part in research is a key to the continuing success of the industry in advancing and expanding the global wireless marketplace.

Working Party 5D, as is the case with all ITU organizations, works from input contributions submitted by members of the ITU. In order to facilitate receipt of information from external entities who may not be direct members of ITU, the Radiocommunication Bureau Secretariat may be considered as the point of interface, in accordance with Resolution ITU-R 9‑5.

The following major activities are foreseen to take place outside of the ITU, including WP 5D, in order to successfully complement the WP 5D work:

research on new technologies to address the new elements and new capabilities of IMT‑2020;

the ongoing development of specifications for IMT and subsequent enhancements.


Agreed overall deliverables/workplan of WP 5D

The following table provides the schedule of when approval of the planned major deliverables will be achieved following the procedures of WP 5D.

October 2017

TBD WP 5D #28

Finalize revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.2012

Liaison Reply to Task Group 5/1

February 2018

TBD WP 5D #29

Finalize input to WP 1A on WRC-19 agenda item 1.15

Finalize CPM text on WRC-19 agenda item 9.1, issue 9.1.1

Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.MS/MSS.2GHz]

June 2018

TBD WP 5D #30

Finalize CPM text on WRC-19 agenda item 9.1, issue 9.1.8 (MTC)

Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.EXPERIENCES]

Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT. MTC]

Further update/Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R

Finalize input to WP 4A on WRC-19 agenda item 9.1, issue 9.1.2

October 2018

TBD WP 5D #31

Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.1452-1492MHz]

Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT.3300 MHz RLS]

Finalize draft new Recommendation ITU-R M.[MT.3300 MHz FSS]

Finalize draft new Report/Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT.COEXISTENCE.AMS]

Finalize draft revision of Report ITU-R M.2373

Finalize revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1036

Finalize draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.BY.INDUSTRIES]

Finalize revision of Recommendation ITU-R M.1457

July 2019

TBD WP 5D #32

Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/YYY Input Submissions Summary

Finalize Addendum 4 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

October 2019

TBD WP 5D #33

February 2020

TBD WP 5D #34

Finalize Doc. IMT-2020/ZZZ Evaluation Reports Summary

Finalize Addendum 5 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

June 2020

TBD WP 5D #35

Draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT-2020.OUTCOME]

Finalize Addendum 6 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020

October 2020

TBD WP 5D #36

Finalize draft new Recommendation ITU-R M.[IMT‑2020.SPECS]

Finalize Addendum 7 to Circular Letter IMT‑2020


Detailed timeline and process for Technology related work stream towards IMT-2020:

Working Party 5D has developed a work plan, timeline, process and required deliverables for the future development of IMT, necessary to provide by 2020 timeframe, the expected ITU-R outcome of evolved IMT in support of the next generation of mobile broadband communications systems beyond IMT-Advanced.

Circular Letter(s) are expected to be issued at the appropriate time(s) to announce the invitation to submit formal proposals and other relevant information.

It has been agreed that the well-known process and deliverable formats utilized for both IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced should be utilized also for IMT-2020 and considered as a “model” for the IMT‑2020 deliverables to leverage on the prior work.


Dates have been decided for RA-19 (21-25 October 2019) and WRC-19 (28 October – 22 November 2019).

The WP 5D #32 (July) is the main meeting for year 2019.

The WP 5D #33 is to be held in December with a focus on the evaluation process (WG Technology Aspects).

If needed there is an opportunity for expert meeting to focus on preparation towards WRC-19 (WG General Aspects and WG Spectrum Aspects) prior to the WP 5D #32 (July).

Click on above image to enlarge.  Source:  ITU-R WP5D report, 5 July 2017



Timeline for IMT 2020 (5G) Radio Access Recommendations + Evaluation Methodology

5G in India dependent on fiber backhaul investments

Excerpts of an article in the Economic Times of India by Ankit Agarwal:

Executive Summary:

In the wake of growing awareness around Internet of Things (IoT) and the use cases it presents to Indian businesses and consumers, 5G will open a new era of opportunities for telecom operators and ecosystem partners in the country.

AJW Comment: However, fiber backhaul will be needed and that may take some time as India’s fiber infrastructure needs significant improvement.

“One of the fundamental requirements for 5G is strong backhaul which is simply not there and that is the most time consuming part and it is extremely expensive in today’s condition in India,” Jalaj Choudhri, EVP, Reliance Communications said.  He adding that even if India is able to circumvent the challenges of standardization and 5G truly becomes available by 2020, yet a good 5G network cannot be expected unless we have a reliable and strong backhaul.

More in this article.

Current Status of 5G in India:

In India, Nokia has recently signed an MoU with wireless network operators BSNL and Airtel to collaborate on 5G technology solutions, and Reliance Jio is working with Samsung to explore various technologies and equipment for 5G.

In the wake of growing awareness around Internet of Things (IoT) and the use cases it presents to Indian businesses and consumers, 5G will open a new era of opportunities for telecom operators and ecosystem partners in the country. Though it’s difficult to get an accurate estimate of the market size right now, IoT is expected to provide a $15 billion market opportunity for Indian businesses by 2020, according to officials at Department of Telecom (DoT). Combine this with the unprecedented growth in the number of smartphone users in India, which is expected to overtake the U.S. in terms of smartphone shipment by 2019. Analysts are optimistic that India will hold around 15% of the world’s smartphone market share by that period – Indian consumers are ready for 5G.

Roadblocks for Indian Operators

Indian operators, however, need to address the issues surrounding 5G infrastructure and deployment. Challenges involving regulatory policies, investments and infrastructure readiness need to be addressed on priority.

Challenges ahead for telecom operators in India are multi-fold compared to their peers in the rest of the world. Diverse geography, disparate population and disparity in economic distribution among the rich and the poor pose serious challenges to operators, preventing uniform investments across different telecom circles. Also, issues such as Right of Way (RoW) have created uncertainty in fiber investments across different states. These apart, the rising cost of air waves and the challenges involved in migrating to new technologies bring additional challenges.

Moreover, the industry’s performance on key indicators such as network speed, coverage and customer service is not satisfactory. For example, average Internet speed in India stands at 3.5 Mbps compared to 29 Mbps in South Korea, 15 Mbps in the U.S., and 4.3 in China (see graph below).

In this context, it is worth analysing where telecom investments should be directed to make commercial 5G a reality in India by 2020.

Fiber to Drive 5G Rollouts

With a promise of 10Gbps speed, less than 1 ms latency and 90% reduction in network energy utilisation, 5G will spur the next round of telecom infrastructure investments across the globe, say experts. The growth of 5G will be fuelled by the sharp hike in consumer data and the proliferation of IoT devices.

ITU estimates the market for IoT devices will result in over USD 1.7 trillion in value added to the global economy by 2019. In view of these developments, ITU expects that investments on fibre infrastructure will surpass $ 144.2 billion during 2014 – 2019. The fact that 5G network will have to support bursty data from emerging applications like Video on Demand (VoD), IoT, Smart Cities, and the like also makes backhaul (from cell tower to network operators Point of Presence) a critical concern.

In several markets, operators are turning to fiber backhaul as an alternative to costly microwave technologies. Since fiber is essential for both wireline and wireless networks, investors show greater levels of confidence in fiber investment.

Fiber Investment: Where does India stand?

A comparison of optical fiber cable (OFC) rollout among the top performing telecom markets shows that the fiber kilometre (fkm) per capita is much less in India compared to several other key markets. For example, fkm per capita for China with 1.3 billion people is 0.87 whereas that of India with 1.2 billion people is just 0.09 (i.e. one-tenth of China consumption).

In developed markets such as the US and Japan, the score is 1.3 and higher (See graph below).

Preparing 5G Networks in India

The latest Cisco VNI report estimates that global IP traffic will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23% from 2014 to 2019, and reach 2 zettabyte per year by 2019. Given this, operators across the world are upgrading their backhaul networks with fibre technology. The fact that fibre-based networks are capable of delivering unlimited bandwidth makes them a winning formula for telecom investments.

Leading operators are now mulling ways to reduce the capex associated with fibre deployments. Infrastructure sharing and leasing are gaining popularity among mobile and cable operators in developing markets. In India, the DoT’s amendment of unified license scheme for active infrastructure sharing and the revised public private partnership (PPP) model for BharatNet project adopted last year are two timely steps to boost the infrastructure sharing efforts by operators. Combined with this, a consensus on RoW is also expected soon across all Indian states. A unified RoW policy will pave way for smooth fibre rollout, resulting in faster service rendering.

To rise to the global standards and solidify their stand in the country, Indian operators need to pump in more funds in optical fibre and related technologies. With fibre playing a pivotal role in improving broadband connectivity and building robust 4G/5G backhaul capabilities, operators will find the investment worth of a grab. As penetration improves, they will be in a position to lower tariffs and identify new monetisation opportunities. ARPU will improve, and the market will stabilise gradually.

As the second largest telecom market in the world, India promises great potential for investors. Industry watchdogs believe India and China combined are capable of transforming world’s telecom landscape in the next decade. Recent developments reveal that Chinese operators and technology vendors have come a long way in 5G tests and trials. Now, it’s the turn of Indian operators to prove their readiness to 5G.

This is an exciting time for India, and the impact of 5G and its associated enablement of M2M, IoT, Autonomous driving and AR/VR can be anticipated. Given the 5G requirement for latency reduction (from 50ms to 1 ms) and speed from 100 Mbps to 10Gbps, the fibre deployment in the country will need to increase from current market of 16-18 million fkm per year to at least 2-3x per year. 5G will also require a multi-fold increase in small cells deployment, with each small cell having backhaul on fibre. The percentage of tower backhaul on fibre for the operators will need to increase significantly from 20% to 70-80% levels.

The current main drivers for the increase in deployment lie in the increased 4G deployments in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, increased Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) deployments by telecom operators, ISP’s and MSO providers. For example, ACT has recently launched 1Gbps broadband service in Hyderabad, which 20x faster than the market average of 50 Mbps. The other drivers for increase in fibre demand include the rural broadband project – BharatNet and large connectivity projects by the Defence. Lastly, optical fibre is a critical component to make the Smart Cities project a success.

Enabling early adoption of 5G, Sterlite Tech is working closely with key stakeholders – DOT, TRAI, telecom operators, equipment vendors and start-ups to enable 5G deployments in the country. Sterlite Tech is actively involved in 5G readiness solutions, and, is a key member of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) led by Facebook, to completely transform telecom networks using SDN/NFV and make them 5G ready.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and does not necessarily subscribe to it. shall not be responsible for any damage caused to any person/organisation directly or indirectly.

About Ankit Agarwal

Ankit Agarwal heads the Telecom Products Division at Sterlite Technologies. This includes the Optical Fibre, Optical Fibre cable, Fibre connectivity and Copper cable products. He has been instrumental in expanding the global footprint of the Telecom business in over 100 countries by successfully executing and managing Joint Ventures in China and Brazil. In addition to Joint Ventures, he is also responsible for executing strategic opportunities such as Mergers and Acquisitions and Greenfield projects globally for Sterlite Tech. Ankit holds a Bachelors degree from University of Southern California and an MBA degree from London Business School.

China Telecom: IoT partnerships with 3 network operators; Huawei NB-IoT award from GSMA

China Telecom’s 3 New IoT Partnerships:

China Telecom has entered three new partnership agreements aimed at accelerating the development of services based on an Internet of Things (IoT) open platform.

The operator has announced an expanded partnership with HKT to cover the development of a common IoT open platform to serve the operators’ customers in the combined geographical footprints of mainland China and Hong Kong.

With the arrangement, each network operator’s customers will be able to deploy IoT and M2M services on the other’s network.

The joint offering will allow seamless switching of IoT subscription between networks by integrating the two commonly-deployed embedded universal integrated circuit card platforms. The multi-domestic service is supported by the Ericsson Device Connection Platform (DCP).

China Telecom also announced a similar strategic partnership with Norway-based Telenor Group. That partnership will allow customers from China Telecom and Telenor Connexion to deploy IoT and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) services in each other’s network. It enables China Telecom’s multi-national enterprise customers with outbound IoT business to deploy their assets and offerings under Telenor Connexion’s networks in the European and other Asian Markets.

Similarly, Telenor Connexion’s global customers can enjoy the benefits of the rapidly growing Chinese market by leveraging on China Telecom’s IoT network resources and business capabilities. The seamless switching of IoT subscription between networks is achieved by the integration of the two commonly deployed eUICC platforms which are the key component of IoT collaboration across borders.

To recap, China Telecom’s multi-national enterprise customers will gain access to Telenor Connexion’s IoT networks in Europe and Asian markets, and will serve as Telenor Connexion’s preferred partner for connectivity in China.


A separate agreement with Orange Business Services will enable both companies to serve their respective enterprise customers through a combined footprint across three continents – Asia, Europe and Africa.

The network operators have also agreed to collaborate on the development of new service models supporting global IoT opportunities and to explore the potential of enhancing existing IoT capabilities and applying emerging technologies such as mobile IoT.

Huawei NB-IoT Solution Receives GSMA’s Best IoT Innovation for Mobile Networks Award 
Huawei’s NB-IoT solution received the “Best IoT Innovation for Mobile Networks” award issued by GSMA at the 2017 Mobile World Congress (MWC) Shanghai. As one of the industry’s most comprehensive NB-IoT solutions, Huawei’s NB-IoT solution was cited for its outstanding achievements and contributions in technological innovation, industry research, and applied practice.

GSMA functions to connect participants throughout the global mobile communications ecosystem, including almost 800 operators and over 300 enterprises. The association lays significant emphasis on addressing common concerns to best serve the interests of mobile operators worldwide. GSMA’s “Best IoT Innovation for Mobile Networks” award identifies and rewards Internet of Things (IoT) products, solutions, services, and new business models to highlight innovative breakthroughs based on new technological developments and standards of mobile networks.

Huawei’s NB-IoT solution comprises an NB-IoT terminal chipset, terminal operation system LiteOS, NB-IoT RAN and EPC, OceanConnect (a cloud platform for IoT management), and OpenLab that helps related enterprises develop IoT services and applications. The goal of the Huawei NB-IoT solution is to jointly build a better connected IoT solution and ecosystem with operators and partners from a diverse range of vertical industries. Huawei was the first to launch associated products after 3GPP released standards formulated for NB-IoT – one of multiple competing “standards” for Low Power WANs (LPWANs) targeted at the (non LAN) IoT market.

In 2016, Huawei began conducting NB-IoT trial applications in conjunction with mainstream network operators and partners. In early 2017, Huawei launched Boudica120, the world’s first commercial NB-IoT chip.

Highlights of IoT Developers Conference, April 26-27, 2017 in Santa Clara, CA


Windstream Joins ONAP & Open Source Telco Movement Led by AT&T/ China

Windstream Communications has become a corporate member of the Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP) Linux Foundation project, joining an open-source technology initiative for the first time.

ONAP was formed through the merger of open source ECOMP (contributed by AT&T) and Open Orchestrator Project (OPEN-O), two of the largest open source networking initiatives.  It was the big hit of the 2017 Open Networking Summit as we reported in this blog post.

The ONAP Project is focused on creating a harmonized and comprehensive framework for real-time, policy-driven software automation of virtual network functions. ONAP includes participation by prominent networking suppliers and industry-leading service providers from around the world. It’s primary objective is to enable software, network, IT, and cloud providers and developers to rapidly create new services which can be monetized.

The ONAP draft architectural principles, presented at their May 2017 meeting at AT&T Bell Labs in NJ, can be read here.


“Combined with our rapid advances in SDN, Windstream’s participation in ONAP increases the value of our network for all of our customers, as we move to virtualization and cloud-based technologies that offer affordable and efficient next-generation services,” said Art Nichols, vice president of network architecture and technology for Windstream.

“For example, not only does our SDNow solution offer automation and accelerated service delivery, but it forges the path that will allow us to deliver flexible, on-demand services across our multi-vendor network ecosystem.”

“Traditionally, we have always worked with engineering groups and maybe a little bit with IT on the back side” in planning this kind of transition, Windstream’s Jeff Brown told Light Reading in an interview.

“In this new world, you are blending IT and engineering and a lot of crossover resources. So, from the IT perspective, [ONAP] was called out as a group that was taking the leadership role as far as developing open standard work with other companies we have similarities with and with some of our vendors as well.”

Windstream has been informally monitoring multiple open source efforts and supporting the concept of open source for some time now, Brown told Light Reading.  The move to more actively engage in orchestration through ONAP was driven by the growing influence of Windstream’s IT department in its transition to software-defined networking, he added.

“In any type of industry forum, whether standards-based or not, you have to make the determination of what kind of resources you can dedicate to it,” Brown notes. Having just come out of meetings around MEF and proofs-of-concept for its 2017 event, he says the same discussions come up there. “We don’t have groups allocated that can do that type of thing and work with vendors,” he says.

Windstream is the third North American service provider to join, after AT&T and Bell Canada Enterprises. ONAP now has 17 platinum and 22 silver members. The other service providers signed onto this Linux Foundation project include China Mobile, China Telecom, Orange, China Unicom and PCCW.
Carol Wilson of Light Reading opined that Windstream is likely to start off with ONAP as more of an observer than a leader. “Although that may change over time,” Brown said.  The next ONAP meeting is being held in China, and Brown is unsure whether the company will send a representative as a result.
“That [long distance travel] would be highly unusual for us.” Brown added that joining ONAP and getting more involved over time is nonetheless important because of the need to speed up the process of getting to industry consensus, moving faster than the traditional telecom standards process.
“It’s no doubt that waiting for standards to develop in the traditional telecom community can be quite painstaking….We have seen other greenfield entrants, hyperscale companies, come in with an open source approach with no standards and make a huge commercial presence, impacting markets in a big way very quickly.  That is the kind of agility and nimbleness we need to thrive in the industry.”
In the long run, open source “is just a means to an end to be able to provide our solutions,” he told Light Reading, enabling the telecom industry to coalesce “around things similar to what we are seeing [with] all the web-scale providers.”

AT&T to Test “5G” via DIRECTV Now in Austin, TX

In the continuing saga of pre-standard “5G” trials, AT&T has begun field trials of its “5G” based fixed wireless system in Austin, TX using its DIRECTV Now streaming-video service.  That’s the mega telco’s second commercial trial of gigabit millimeter-wave spectrum technology. Its first “5G” millimeter-wave trial in 2016 was also in Austin.

Earlier this year, AT&T and Nokia combined on a lab test of 5G fixed-wireless streaming of DirecTV Now over a 39-GHz system that was conducted at the AT&T Labs facility in Middletown, NJ.


AT&T is using Ericsson’s “5G” RAN and Intel’s “5G” Mobile Trial Platform and says it plans to incorporate software-defined networks in other “5G” efforts this year.

AT&T said it expects the trial in Austin will deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps using mmWave spectrum.

The latest Austin trial represents a “major step on our journey to deliver state-of-the-art 5G wireless speeds as early as late 2018,” according to an AT&T press release, which also stated:

“We expect 5G to take people and businesses places they’ve never been with all new experiences thanks to the advantages of enhanced mobile broadband, critical IoT solutions and low latency applications.

Lower latency will play a powerful role in the connected experience. It impacts things like the time between clicking a web link and seeing a webpage begin to load on your device. Through this trial, participants will be able to see the real-life, daily benefits that fixed wireless 5G offers them directly or to their customers.”


“The technology behind 5G is important. But it’s also about advancing social trends like mobile video streaming,” said Marachel Knight, AT&T senior vice president, wireless network architecture and design.

“In Austin, we’re testing DirecTV NOW over ultra-fast internet speeds at a variety of locations,” Knight said. “The network of the future will help redefine what connectivity means to both consumers and businesses. This trial helps show that the new reality is coming fast.”


Posted in 5G

Recent Posts