Vertical Systems Group 2017 Global Ethernet Service Provider Leaderboard

France’s Orange remained first while AT&T improved its position to second place in Vertical Systems Group’s (VSG) newly released 2017 Global Ethernet Leaderboard report.  UK’s Colt was third while CenturyLink made its first appearance in the rankings finishing in fourth place. VSG said slim margins separated the leaders.

“With very slim margins separating the leading global service providers, Orange remains in first position, AT&T advances to second, and CenturyLink makes its debut,” Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group said in a press release. “To serve this specialized global market, key providers are increasing deployments of higher speed Ethernet connectivity to MPLS, VPLS and cloud services, while transitioning customers to more dynamic, advanced SDN-based hybrid WAN and SD-WAN offerings.”

VSG also noted that the Global provider Leaderboard companies that have received MEF 3.0 certification are AT&T, Colt, CenturyLink and Verizon. Challenge tier companies attaining the distinction are SingTel, T-Systems, Tata, Telefonica and Vodafone.



Last month, VSG said that CenturyLink, AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise, Comcast, Windstream and Cox were, in that order, the top finishers in the U.S. Ethernet Leaderboard last year. The results are noteworthy because it was the first time since 2005 that AT&T did not finish as the leading provider.

Global Ethernet Service Provider Leaderboard: CenturyLink Makes its Debut



Korea Telecom to launch 5G service in March 2019 with what endpoints?

Korea Telecom (KT) announced today that it plans to offer 5G cellular service in March 2019, according to Yonhap and other news sources.

“It is true 5G only when coverage is guaranteed,” Oh Seong-mok, president of KT’s network business division, told reporters in Seoul.  “KT will launch the 5G service for the first time in the world that combines true mobility, excellent service and nationwide coverage,” the KT executive added.

During this year’s PyeongChang Winter Olympics, KT offered a trial service of its 5G service for the first time in the world, allowing athletes and visitors to experience data transmission speeds 40-50 times faster than LTE.

Industry watchers said that at present, it is virtually impossible to set up a 5G nationwide network on par with existing LTE coverage, so full-fledged services will invariably be offered in major metropolitan areas first.  Customers may not be able to immediately use KT’s 5G service next year because major makers of smartphones and silicon, including Samsung Electronics Co. and Qualcomm Technologies Inc., will only start shipping smart phones and 5G chip sets between the end of this year and the first half of 2019, KT said.  Of course, those smart phones and silicon in them will not be compliant with the IMT 2020 standard which won’t be completed till late 2020.

Oh Seong-mok, president of KT’s network business, speaks at a press conference at the firm’s Gwanghwamun building in downtown Seoul, Thursday, stressing the firm will launch commercial 5G network services early next year based on its successful provision of the 5G trial service at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. / Courtesy of KT


KT said it has no plans to commercialize its 5G network based on Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) currently being championed by U.S. mobile carrier Verizon which plans to provide fixed 5G with an FWA system in the first half of this year.  Mr. Oh said commercializing the 5G service based on FWA is a step backward as the technology has already been seen before.  That comment comes after KT collaborated with Verizon on 5G video calling tests during last month’s Super Bowl, illustrating the fierce international competition to bring 5G to market first.


AT&T asks FCC to prohibit 6 GHz band for unlicensed use

AT&T is asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to avoid any expansion of the 6 GHz band to unlicensed users, noting that roughly 25% of the links in the band support public safety and critical infrastructure licensees. AT&T said that band contains about 100,000 microwave links, many of which are carrying critical voice and data traffic, including for the nation’s first responders.  AT&T added that introducing unlicensed devices would cause interference at the receive antennas of those microwave links, thereby reducing their reliability.

The telco estimates 27% of the links support utilities, making the upper and lower 6 GHz bands key in supporting the nation’s critical infrastructure. It also said that maintaining long-haul and high-reliability microwave links will be critical for 5G and other advanced services.

AT&T officials met last week with FCC staff to discuss its concerns about a proposed expansion of the 5.9125-7.125 GHz band to include unlicensed use. AT&T said it will be relying on a significant number of existing and newly developed 6 GHz fixed links in support of FirstNet [1.], where it’s contractually obligated to provide high levels of reliability.

Note 1.  FirstNet is the first nationwide U.S. wireless network dedicated to public safety.  AT&T won the contract to provide the wireless network for FirstNet last year.

AT&T’s letter to the FCC was made public in an ex parte filing. 



Posted in 5G

Will the FCC Amend Rules for Small Cells on March 22nd? 2 Cities Express Concern!

The FCC is due to vote on exempting small cell installations from certain federal reviews on March 22, 2018. The CTIA-commissioned analysis by Accenture Strategy found that when such reviews are required, almost a third of the cost of next-generation wireless deployments go to federal regulatory reviews that the FCC now proposes to eliminate as unnecessary. These reviews cost industry $36 million in 2017, and are expected to increase over six-fold in 2018.

The March 22nd FCC meeting will vote on whether to eliminate unnecessary regulations to “provide better broadband, connect under-served areas and create jobs,” according to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. This move by the federal agency is supposed to save Americans $1.56 billion and create more than 17,000 jobs, according to industry statistics.

Backgrounder: To keep up with increasing demand for wireless data and build out 5G networks, the wireless industry needs to deploy hundreds of thousands of modern wireless antennas – small cells – in the next few years.  Small cell deployments will escalate rapidly from roughly 13,000 deployed in 2017 to over 800,000 cumulatively deployed by 2026, according to the analysis.

Small cells are similar in size to a pizza box and can be deployed on streetlights or utility poles in about one hour.  However, under rules that were designed decades ago for 200-foot cell towers, getting necessary federal and local permissions can take over a year and require multiple, duplicative reviews including federal environmental and historic preservation reviews.


The FCC’s new rules would modernize the historic and environmental regulatory requirements for wireless deployments, exclude small cells from certain federal regulatory hurdles, and adopt a “shot clock” for FCC review of environmental assessments when required. The analysis found that the U.S. will see a 550% increase in small cells year over year in 2018, underscoring the need for FCC action now to jumpstart more broadband investment.

“Our infrastructure rules were written for the hundred-foot 3G and 4G towers, not backpack-sized 5G deployments,” said FCC’s Carr in a speech at the Consumer Technology Association in February. “It’s the regulatory equivalent of requiring a commercial pilot license to fly a paper airplane. The result? Small cell deployments cost too much, and the regulatory approval process takes too long. Left unchecked, this will be the bottleneck that prevents us from leading the world in 5G — that prevents the investments, innovation, and jobs associated with 5G from being realized here in the U.S.”


From the March 1, 2018 FCC fact sheet:


As part of the FCC’s efforts in the Wireless Infrastructure docket to streamline the deployment of next-generation wireless facilities, the agency has been attempting to identify instances in which regulatory review imposes needless burdens and slows infrastructure deployment. As part of that effort, the Commission has consulted extensively with Tribal Nations, intertribal organizations, state and local historic preservation officers, wireless carriers, network builders, relevant federal agencies, and many others to determine the steps the Commission needs to take to enable the deployment of 5G networks throughout America.

This Order focuses on the types of deployments that are subject to National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review, and it reexamines and revises Commission rules and procedures for such deployments.

What the Second Report and Order Would Do:
o Amend Commission rules to clarify that the deployment of small wireless facilities by private parties does not constitute either a “federal undertaking” within the meaning of NHPA or a “major federal action” under NEPA, meaning that neither statute’s review process would be mandated for such deployments. Small wireless facilities deployments would continue to be subject to currently applicable state and local government approval requirements.
o Clarify and make improvements to the process for Tribal participation in Section 106 historic preservation reviews.
o Remove the requirement that applicants file Environmental Assessments (EAs) solely due to the location of a proposed facility in a floodplain, as long as certain conditions are met.
o Establish timeframes for the Commission to act on EAs.


However, San Jose, CA,  in the heart of Silicon Valley, and Lincoln, NE, an innovative university and capitol city, both could be profoundly affected if the FCC decides to “cut red tape” with modifications to small cell antenna deployment rules.  Local city officials argue the regulatory process serves an important purpose. “By removing the historic and environmental review, and taking away local control, it won’t allow cities to make sure that 5G is deployed in an equitable manner for citizens,” said Shireen Santosham, the chief innovation officer for the city of San Jose.   San Jose is the tenth largest city in the U.S., the largest in Silicon Valley and has a median income that is over $90,000, but has approximately 9.5 percent of the city’s 1 million residents living below the poverty line. “Currently there are more than 100,000 people in our city who do not have broadband,” she said.  “Small (5G) cells will not solve the digital divide; we need to know that there will be service to rural and low-income areas,” Santosham added.

Ms. Santosham sees the FCC moves as a cynical way of taking away local control of the infrastructure deployment while promising to cover those who do not already have connectivity. “It is important that we have the conversation about those people who are not already wired and do not have access at home,” she said. “We need a holistic conversation on digital access for all Americans.”
The city currently has a partnership with Facebook called Terragraph, which will bring free gigabit-speed Internet to the city’s downtown public sometime this year. “This year, we launched an effort to bring autonomous vehicles to San Jose — our initial call for proposals garnered 30 submissions from leading companies around the world. We are currently evaluating a short list of companies,” she said. This technology will require 5G capability as well.
David Young, fiber infrastructure and right of way manager for the city of Lincoln (pop 277,346 and home of the state’s largest university), has a similar view of the FCC’s directive. The city began its journey to 5G coverage in 2012 when Mayor Chris Beutler invested $700,000 in a conduit system for fiber optics that has since grown to over 300 miles. Because the state has banned local governments from offering municipal services such as electricity or telecommunications, Lincoln has worked hard to put together some very innovative ideas to attract private-sector investment.
“The plan is to make our process fast, easy to understand and repeatable to attract investment,” he said. They have been so successful the city has managed to partner with 12 private-sector companies to keep them connected.
Early in the process, Young began working with Valmont Industries, a city pole designer, to construct a functional pole that would make it easy for private companies to deploy 5G hardware. “They developed a pole that will deploy for 95 percent of their users (in other towns),” he said. The city also developed a master license agreement with the manufacturer. “It was important to get in on the ground floor with the pole company to set a standard for 5G infrastructure throughout the city,” he said.
In the Internet service provider (ISP) industry, time is valuable. “If you can shrink time for the carrier, it helps the city’s partnerships,” said Young. The design process also saved the city money. “The poles cost us nothing, except my salary,” he said. “The manufacturer is selling my design to other cities.” Lincoln has a licensing agreement for 100 poles downtown and expects to install 400 in the next few years.
While this is only part of the enterprising development Young has made, he says all of this will be for naught if the FCC rules bypass city control. “If the FCC takes away control and assets bought by the local taxpayers,” he said, “it will be very challenging.”
Young said the city of Lincoln has worked very hard to streamline services for wireless providers. “We are business friendly. We have a 10-day permitting process,” he said. All standards are already online, and if the FCC rules to take away local control, it would cause deployment of the infrastructure to stop. The city has worked 100 percent with private partners in its infrastructure build-out. “Why are we not at the table with the FCC?” he asked.
Like Lincoln, San Jose is eagerly awaiting 5G technology and services, especially what it might allow the public to do in the future. “Ushering in a gigabit future will no doubt have wide-ranging benefits — from enabling new advances like connected and autonomous vehicles, unlocking augmented and virtual reality and creating other new markets,” Santosham said.
Yet two critical issues need addressing:
1. 5G technology is in its infancy and standards won’t be completed till end of 2020.
2. How 5G will be deployed (and will cost) matters to citizens.
“We still will need to see proof points around the technology,” Santosham said. “While it delivers lightning fast speed in labs and early trials, there are real-world problems of scale still to overcome,” she added.
                                                                         Image by Shutterstock
Making drastic changes to how a city historically manages its public rights-of-way to accommodate one, yet unproven technology may not be a smart move, according to Santosham. “A piecemeal approach where service providers can pick and choose where they service a city also has another unintended consequence,” she said. “It results in the wealthier, denser and more profitable areas getting service first, and more traditionally digitally excluded neighborhoods serviced last if they have services at all.”
If city government is not going to be allowed to control, permit and charge fees for access to the public right of way, this will also take away the ability to incentivize companies to build out into low-income or marginalized areas, argues Santosham.
“Most of the legislation today is unfortunately too one-sided with the industry asking for the benefits of a public utility without the obligations,” she said. “Aesthetic concerns matter to local communities and bills that are overly permissive in equipment size and scale are shortsighted. No community will want thousands of refrigerator-sized equipment placed throughout their city with no say in the process.”
Finally, private companies will not act on, nor know the communities’ interest, according to Santosham. “No one company or industry will act in the overall interest of the community in the way a local government can act — and rightfully so. Companies are incentivized to maximize shareholder value, not public value.”
Ken Pyle recently interviewed FCC Chief Ajit Pai.  He wrote in an email that it sounds like what the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC) came up with is more guidance, instead of federal requirements, as is suggested in the article. From what I read, they looked like common sense ideas.

Posted in 5G

Service Provider VoIP and IMS -12% YoY in 2017; VoLTE Deployments Slowing

Following are highlights from the first quarter 2018 edition of the IHS Markit Service Provider VoIP and IMS Equipment and Subscribers Market Tracker, which includes data for the quarter ended December 31, 2017. Author is IHS Markit analyst Diane Myers.

Global service provider voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) product revenue fell to $4.5 billion in 2017, a decline of 12 percent year over year. Overall worldwide revenue is forecast to decline at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent, falling to $4 billion in 2022. This decline is due to the slowing of voice over LTE (VoLTE) network deployments and overall spending falling into a steady pattern. Downward pricing — because of continued competitive factors and large deal sizes in India, China and Brazil — is also dampening growth.

“The big story over the past four years has been mobile operators and the transition to VoLTE, which has been the number-one driver of VoIP and IMS market growth, along with voice over WIFI (VoWiFi) and other mobility services,” said Diane Myers, senior research director, VoIP, UC, and IMS, IHS Markit. “However, after initial VoLTE network builds are completed, sales growth drops off, as operators launch services and fill network capacity,” she added.

Huawei was the standout vendor in the VoIP and IMS market, with 26 percent of worldwide revenue in 2017. Ericsson ranked second, with 21 percent, followed by Nokia, ZTE and Ribbon Communications.

Service provider VoIP and IMS market highlights

  • As large VoLTE projects in India and China continued to expand, the Asia-Pacific region ranked first in global revenue in 2017, accounting for 37 percent of the market. Spending from VoLTE projects in Asia-Pacific and Caribbean and Latin America continue, but it is not enough to move the worldwide market back into growth territory, primarily due to price compression in both regions.
  • As of January 2018, 119 operators launched commercial VoLTE services, with more coming every year. However, new launches are slowing. Most VoLTE launches in 2017 occurred in Europe. There was also some expansion in Chinese provinces, due to growth from China Mobile; in Brazil, with Vivo; and in India, with Bharti Airtel.

Service Provider VoIP and IMS Equipment and Subscribers report synopsis

The quarterly Service Provider VoIP and IMS Equipment and Subscribers Market Tracker from IHS Markit provides worldwide and regional vendor market share, market size, forecasts through 2022, analysis and trends for trunk media gateways, SBCs, media servers, softswitches, voice application servers, HSS, CSCF and IM/presence servers.


New Southeast Asia-Japan 2 Cable to Link 9 Asian Countries

A consortium of Asia-Pacific network operators has contracted NEC Corp. to build a 10,500km subsea cable which will connect Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, Korea and Japan.  The Southeast Asia-Japan 2 cable (SJC2) will be built and operated by a consortium including China Mobile International, Chunghwa Telecom, Chuan Wei, Facebook, KDDI, Singtel, SK Broadband and VNPT.  The eight fiber pair cable will have a total capacity of 144Tbps. Construction of the cable is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2020.

The construction of SJC2 cable is timely and will provide additional bandwidth between Southeast and North Asia, whose combined population of more than two billion are driving demand for data as their economies undergo digital transformation,” Singtel VP for carrier services Ooi Seng Keat said.

As a new generation multimedia superhighway, the SJC2 can play a pivotal role in facilitating economic cooperation and digital innovation among the countries in this region. The construction of this cable reinforces Singtel’s position as the leading data services provider in the region and strengthens Singapore as a global business and info-communications hub,” Keat added.

China Mobile said in a statement it would be solely responsible for the landing stations in China and Hong Kong, with SJC2 complementing China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and this cable makes up one of seven investments the company has made into subsea cables.

Singtel has been investing in augmenting its international connectivity, including through the joint construction of the 9,000km INDIGO subsea cable linking Singapore with Perth and Sydney in Australia, and its involvement in the Southeast Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 5 (SEA-ME-WE 5) cable, which was completed in December 2016.

Southeast Asia-Japan 2 cable route

SJC2 submarine cable to connect 9 Asian countries


In May, NEC demonstrated speeds of 50.9Tbps across subsea cables of up to 11,000km on a single optical fibre through the use of C+L-band erbium-doped optical fibre amplifiers (EDFA), amounting to speeds of 570 petabits per second-kilometre.

To hit those speeds, NEC researchers developed a multi-level, linear, and non-linear algorithm to obtain an optimisied 32 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) or opt32 constellation with a higher limit for non-linear capacity specifically for transmission across subsea cables.

NEC announced the completion of the 54Tbps Asia-Pacific Gateway cable in November 2016 between China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Singapore.

The cable is owned by China Telecom, China Unicom, China Mobile, NTT Communications, KT Corporation, LG Uplus, StarHub, Chunghwa Telecom, CAT, Global Transit Communications, Viettel, and VNPT. 



New Partnerships Aim to Simplify Global IoT Connectivity & Deployment

Two new partnerships promise to increase global IoT connectivity.

1.  Chunghwa Telecom and Tata Communications:

India’s global network operator Tata Communications is partnering with Taiwan’s Chunghwa Telecom to bring global connectivity to consumer electronics and Industrial Internet of Things devices. In a joint press release, the companies  said the partnership will enable Chunghwa Telecom to tap into additional revenues by connecting IoT devices through Tata Communications’ MOVE-IoT Connect platform which enables IoT devices to be deployed quickly -both locally and internationally- by leveraging Tata Communications’ ecosystem of mobile network operators worldwide.

The Taiwanese electronics industry output is expected to be worth $228 billion (NT$6.65 trillion) in 2018, and the wearables market grew at double digits in both volume and value terms in 2017. Chunghwa Telecom looks to capitalize on this growth through the existing IoT roaming services the operator provides.

Our aim is to serve three million IoT devices in the next three years, and Tata Communications will be one of our key partners to fulfill this ambition,” Ming-Shih Chen, president of mobile business group at Chunghwa Telecom.

Tata Communications MOVE will give our customers’ IoT services borderless network coverage across 200 countries, ensuring a consistently high-quality and reliable user experience.”

One of Chunghwa Telecom’s first Tata Communications’ MOVE – IoT Connect customers is TaiDoc Technology, which manufactures premium medical devices to improve people’s health and quality of life. TaiDoc will use Tata Communications MOVE – IoT Connect to extend the reach of its devices to countries such as China, Thailand and the U.S.

Our aim is to serve three million IoT devices in the next three years, and Tata Communications will be one of our key partners to fulfil this ambition,” said Ming-Shih Chen, President of Mobile Business Group, Chunghwa Telecom. “Tata Communications MOVE™ will give our customers’ IoT services borderless network coverage across 200 countries, ensuring a consistently high-quality and reliable user experience. At the same time, we’re able to extend our business easily by being part of the Tata Communications’ MOVE™ ecosystem of mobile network operators. It’s a win-win for us.”

IoT devices require borderless, secure and scalable connectivity to enable the capture, movement and management of information worldwide. Cellular connectivity is an effective foundation for IoT services, but the problem is that today’s mobile networks are inherently local – there is no such concept as a global mobile network,” said Anthony Bartolo, chief product officer at Tata Communications.

We want to change that. We’re excited to work with Chunghwa Telecom and other leading mobile network operators around the world to build a truly global ecosystem of connectivity, and spur IoT adoption by businesses worldwide.”



2. China Unicom and Telefonica:

China Unicom has signed an agreement with Spain’s Telefonica designed to simplify and accelerate IoT deployments for their respective enterprise customers globally.  The partnership will give the two operators access to each others’ network and allow them to provide IoT products and services across several key markets through a single global SIM card.  

The agreement will also consolidate their respective positions in IoT in Europe, Latin America and China, three of the most important IoT markets in the world, the companies said in a joint statement.  Enterprise customers of Telefonica and China Unicom will be able to easily and seamlessly deploy IoT products and services in these three regions with a single global IoT SIM card.  By using a unified IoT connectivity management platform, they will be able to control connections globally and to localize IoT SIMs once they reach a certain geography (subscription swap), the pair said.

We are leveraging IoT technologies to accompany our customers on their digital transformation journey, where IoT has a very important role to play. Telefónica IoT is named a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Managed M2M Services worldwide, maintaining that position we have held since inception four years ago…..Simplifying massive IoT deployments is key and therefore we are strengthening our ecosystem of partners. Our partnership with China Unicom will strengthen Telefónica’s capability to meet our global customer needs,” Telefonica chief IoT officer Vicente Muñoz said.

Enterprise customers will be able to enjoy these new IoT capabilities later this year,  Muñoz added.

In related news, China Mobile has signed a deal with UK’s Vodafone, under which the pair have agreed to resell each other’s IoT services for the first time.  The agreement, announced at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, will see each company share new IoT project opportunities with their partners.

Vodafone customers will be given access to China Mobile IoT SIMs for deployments in China, while China Mobile customers wanting to offer IoT-enabled products outside of China will do so via Vodafone’s Global IoT SIM and management platform.

Vodafone will manage all elements of the operational model for its customers including on-boarding, SIM and logistics as well as billing and support. The company will act as a single point of contact for its enterprise IoT customers wanting to move into China.

China Mobile will discuss the possibility for IoT sales opportunities with Vodafone for companies wanting to expand outside of China.

Dorothy Lin, China Mobile International’s head of mobile business partnership, said the collaboration with Vodafone will allow the Chinese mobile giant to offer customers the greatest possible reach of IoT services.

Having reached over 200 million IoT connections last year, China Mobile aims to increase the connections by 60% in 2018,” Lin noted.




TrendForce: Small Cell Deployment to reach 2.838M units in 2018; 4.329M units in 2019 for CAG of 52.5%

Global mobile operators will be using small cells to expand the indoor coverage and improve network capacity, improving the quality of telecommunication. Small cells can divert 80 percent of data traffic in crowded areas. Increase in hotspot capacity will make up for areas not covered by macro cells (both indoor and outdoor) to improve network performance and service quality.

Kelly Hsieh, research director of TrendForce, said small cells will achieve higher level of integration, allowing for multi-mode, multi-band deployment, and integrate unlicensed spectrum.

The deployments of small cells – fuelled by 5G — will reach 2.838 million units in 2018 and 4.329 million units in 2019, an annual growth of 52.5 percent.  Hsieh said that demand for 5G applications will gradually emerge as consensus on 5G standards and 5G application scenarios are being formed. Particularly, small cells are key to 5G as they can support increasing demand of data performance. It is estimated that the global deployments and installed base of small cells will reach 2.838 million units in 2018 and 4.329 million units in 2019, an annual growth of 52.5%.

Small cell forecast

The TrendForce report predicts that small cells will upgrade network performance and improve efficiency through indoor digital deployments. Small cells can carry large sum of data transmission brought by Internet of Things (IoT) and integrated wireless backhaul, reducing investment costs significantly.

China Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and SK Telecom are currently making investment for deploying small cell technology to boost customer experience.  Therefore, with the development of 5G technology, small cells will become key equipment adopted by global mobile operators. Currently, mobile operators in China, the United States and South Korea are the most active, including China Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and SK Telecom.

Backgrounder on Small Cells (see IEEE reference below):

Small Cells

Small cells are portable miniature base stations that require minimal power to operate and can be placed every 250 meters or so throughout cities. To prevent signals from being dropped, carriers could blanket a city with thousands of these stations. Together, they would form a dense network that acts like a relay team, handing off signals like a baton and routing data to users at any location.

While traditional cell networks have also come to rely on an increasing number of base stations, achieving 5G performance will require an even greater infrastructure. Luckily, antennas on small cells can be much smaller than traditional antennas if they are transmitting tiny millimeter waves. This size difference makes it even easier to stick cells unobtrusively on light poles and atop buildings.

What’s more, this radically different network structure should provide more targeted and efficient use of spectrum. Having more stations means the frequencies that one station uses to connect with devices in its small broadcast area can be reused by another station in a different area to serve another customer. There is a problem, though: The sheer number of small cells required to build a 5G network may make it impractical to set up in rural areas.



Small cells deployment forecast to reach 2.8 mn in 2018


Small cells spending will be $4.3 bn annually by 2020


How 5G will Transform Smart Cities: Infrastructure, Public Events, Traffic

Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile plan to launch their own versions of “5G” networks within the next year or two, which could open up further advancements and support for smart cities. The technology could transform cities by reducing power usage, improving broadband services in public areas and could improve traffic safety through deployments in smart traffic lights and autonomous vehicles.

The infrastructure for 5G is still only beginning—with wider availability not expected until at least 2020—but cities like New York, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Calif., and Atlanta will soon get a chance to preview the promise of 5G this year when Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint begin rolling out their faster networks in select areas. Using 5G, a city can sense “all sorts of variables across its many areas of interest, be it parking meters, traffic flow, where people are, security issues,” said Ron Marquardt, vp of technology at Sprint.

Mark Hung, an analyst at Gartner, pointed out that while 3G brought web browsing and data communication to the smartphone, 4G greatly enhanced it. And even though towers today can support hundreds or thousands of devices, 5G could help scale the Internet of Things from “hundreds and thousands to hundreds of thousands.”

Here are some of the ways 5G might transform cities over the next few years:


Telecoms will increasingly weave their way into the infrastructure through 5G. By gathering data from buildings, 5G can help cities understand patterns in electricity usage, leading to lower power consumption across the grid. Those savings could vary greatly. According to a 2017 report by Accenture, smart technology and 5G in a small city with a population of around 30,000 could have a $10 million impact on the power grid and transportation systems. A slightly larger city of 118,000 could see $70 million. Meanwhile, a major metro area—say, Chicago—could see an economic impact of $5 billion.

Private-public partnerships are still in the early stages of being developed. For example, Nokia last month announced a partnership with the Port of Hamburg in Germany and Deutsche Telekom to monitor real-time data to measure water gates, environmental metrics or construction sites.

“I think last year the buzzword was fourth industrial revolution, but for me it still rings true,” Jane Rygaard, head of 5G marketing at Nokia, said about the endless possibilities of a 5G network.

As infrastructure becomes digitized through 5G, some agencies are already investing in understanding a 5G-infused infrastructure to help clients adapt to smarter cities. R/GA’s new venture studio with Macquarie Capital will include tackling how 5G will be tied to emerging technologies like AI and blockchain. R/GA chief technology officer Nick Coronges said the connectivity of 5G goes hand in hand with emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain.

Public events

Verizon, which will test 5G in nearly a dozen cities in 2018, is making its first broadband debut in Sacramento with a 5G wireless network later this year. As part of the rollout, Verizon is placing 5G in stadiums. Lani Ingram, Verizon’s vp for smart communities, sports and IoT platforms, said 5G could also be put to good use in airports, convention centers and other venues.

“The amount of usage of data during sporting events and concerts is only growing,” she said. “We see that every year during the Super Bowl, for example.”


Many tout the need for 5G to power self-driving cars. For an autonomous vehicle to smoothly travel through a city, it will need to have low latency that allows it to continuously “see” its surroundings. 5G will allow for smart traffic lights, which connect with cars on the road to improve traffic flow. Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh tested the use of smart traffic lights. The result? A 40 percent reduction in vehicle wait time, a 26 percent faster commute and a 21 percent decrease in vehicle emissions.

A 5G network will also make the roads safer. For example, as a car enters an intersection, a smart traffic light will notify it that a pedestrian has just hit the “walk” button, which will provide drivers more warning. Ambulances will be able to change traffic lights faster to accommodate their route and clear intersections.

“We see more and more of our customers linking smart city and safe city,” Rygaard said, adding that 5G isn’t just for consumers. It will improve their daily lives—whether that’s through safety, energy or countless other ways.


A Look at the Future of 5G-Powered Smart Cities

4 U.S. Telcos ask FCC to support 3.5 GHz spectrum under Connect America Fund II

The Federal Communications Commission u (FCC)  has received a petition from Windstream, CenturyLink, Frontier and Consolidated urging the agency to continue to support census tract license sizes in rural areas. The providers said this would help them deploy 3.5 GHz broadband wireless access technology under the agency’s Connect America Fund (CAF) II.

In a joint FCC filing, these telecom service providers, which are leveraging CAF-II funding to provide 10/1 Mbps rural broadband services, said they are testing and deploying 3.5 GHz-compatible broadband wireless technology in areas where deploying fiber and related facilities is cost prohibitive.  By offering neutral access to the 3.5 GHz band in rural areas, these providers say they would be able to accelerate rural broadband rollouts. A key issue for these providers is that Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) aren’t aligned with how rural CAF areas are structured. A recent WISPA study illustrated that rural CAF areas tend to cluster around the edges of PEAs.

“To make these types of rural broadband deployments possible, the FCC must preserve census tract license sizes in rural areas—partial economic areas and even counties would preclude meaningful participation in the band by companies focused on providing broadband in the most rural areas,” the service providers said in the joint filing. “By licensing the 3.5 GHz band in rural areas on a census tract basis, the FCC can help enable faster broadband to more rural Americans.”

The other issue raised in rural areas is the amount of available spectrum. Although there’s a shortage of spectrum in urban areas like Boston and New York City, the service providers say “there is a relative spectrum abundance in rural areas.”

Proving out the economics for broadband deployments is also a challenge. In an urban area, there could be several providers vying for consumers’ and business’ attention, but in a rural area service providers rely on subsidies like the CAF-II program to make investments.  Finally, the service provider group said that secondary markets are too costly and slow to allow for rural deployments.

“Rural players have not been able to realistically obtain spectrum in other bands,” the providers said. “At the same time, package bidding coupled with census tract license sizes reduces exposure risk for larger companies while promoting competition.”

The providers added that “there should be no concern that carriers are going to ‘cherry-pick’ licenses in rural areas.”

To make more spectrum available to service providers expanding rural broadband access, these service providers proposed that the FCC should allocate additional spectrum available for rural areas.  Specifically, the group said that the FCC should consider allocating 80 MHz of spectrum as part of the CAF program.

“80 MHz in CAF CBs would enable carriers to deploy sustained speeds greater than 25/3 or more to over 200 customers per site,” the service provider group said. “Technology advances will allow for faster speeds in the future.”

Frontier is currently rolling out 25 Mbps speeds in some of its rural markets using the 3.5 GHz spectrum and will consider higher speeds as it procures new equipment and spectrum over time.

While it’s going to take time to see how these providers apply broadband wireless to their rural builds, it’s clear that they are showing some commitment to finding new ways to serve markets that have been traditionally ignored.

Ongoing tests, deployments

Seeing the 3.5 GHz band as another tool to reach rural Americans, these providers are in some stage of either testing or deploying broadband wireless.

Frontier, for one, confirmed in September it was testing broadband wireless with plans to deploy it in more areas if it meets its requirements. The service provider is also exploring 3.5 GHz deployments, including as a member of the CBRS Alliance, which is exploring CBRS specifications and spectrum use rules.

Already, the service provider has been making progress with its CAF-II commitments, providing broadband to over 331,000 and small businesses in its CAF-eligible areas, and the company has improved speeds to nearly 875,000 additional homes and businesses. The deployments reflect a combination of Frontier capital investment and resources that the FCC has made available through the CAF program.

Perley McBride, CFO of Frontier, told investors during a conference in September 2017 that broadband wireless could be a “good solution” to the deployment challenge “in very rural America[,] and if it works the way [Frontier is] expecting it to work, . . . [Frontier] will deploy more of that next year.”

Windstream is trialing fixed wireless and modeling 3.5 GHz deployments and is also a member of the CBRS Alliance.

CenturyLink is also advancing its CAF-II commitments, reaching over 600,000 rural homes and businesses with broadband over the past two years. While it has not revealed any specific plans yet, CenturyLink has obtained an experimental license for 3.5 GHz spectrum.

“The testing seeks to understand the viability of new technologies in this band that may be useful in providing fixed broadband services,” CenturyLink said in the filing.


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