Verizon and Nokia announced they were able to achieve a key milestone on the road to 5G: handing off a signal seamlessly to a vehicle traveling between two radio sectors. The test took place at Nokia’s Murray Hill, N.J., campus. A data transmission at 28 GHz was sent from two 3GPP New Radio (NR) radios on a Nokia building to a vehicle outfitted with a receiver and equipment to measure transmission statistics. The vehicle traveled between the two radios, achieving seamless NR Layer 3 3GPP-compliant mobility hand off of the signal between the two sectors, intra-gNB and inter-DU, according to the companies.
Verizon said that the call mobility test involved a data transmission at 28 GHz that was sent from two 3GPP compliant NR radios on Nokia’s building, to a vehicle that had a receiver and test equipment to measure transmission information.
“The vehicle traveled between the two radios, achieving seamless 5G NR Layer 3 3GPP-compliant mobility handoff of the signal between the two sectors,” Verizon said, noting that these were intra-gNodeB and inter-distributed unit handovers.
“Unlike some of the incremental 5G technology announcements we’ve seen lately, tests like the one we conducted are significant advancements in the development of 5G technology,” said Bill Stone, vice president, Technology Development and Planning for Verizon, in a press release. “By taking these tests out of the lab and into the field, we’re replicating the experience users will ultimately have in a 5G mobility environment,” he added.
“We are pleased to showcase the acceleration of the mobile capabilities in 5G,” said Marc Rouanne, president, Mobile Networks, Nokia, in the release. “Enhanced mobile broadband is one of the first services being delivered on Nokia’s end-to-end 5G Future X portfolio. As a result, we can help our customers meet their early 5G deployment schedules and initial coverage demands.”
Verizon plans to be the first to launch 5G residential broadband service in four markets this year: Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento and Indianapolis. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told CNBC the operator is going to be first in the world with 5G. “We are building everything right now,” he said, with 5G mobile phones due in the hands of consumers next year.
Frisco Station is a 242-acre, mixed-use urban development in Frisco, Texas. Located along Frisco’s North Platinum Corridor, Frisco Station includes office, residential and medical space, along with a retail and restaurant district.
On Friday, the entity announced plans to deploy integrated network connectivity from AT&T. Frisco Station said that the development will be one of the first connected communities in the nation built from the ground up with “5G Evolution” wireless technology from AT&T. The future deployments will include “wireless stealth micro cells,” fiber-based internet service and Wi-Fi throughout all common areas according to Frisco Station and AT&T.
“Frisco Station understands the future belongs to the individual,” said Ed Balcerzak, SVP of AT&T Connected Communities in a statement. “With this development, we’re working together to give you more of your thing and connect you to the people, information and entertainment you care about.”
“Stations are places where people go to make connections. That’s why the Frisco Station Partnership chose AT&T as its partner to implement a platform that can support a connected community at every stage,” said Mike Berry, president of Hillwood, Frisco Station’s master developer. “We believe we are creating a high-tech environment, unlike anywhere else in the country, that has the potential to change the way people think about what’s possible in their day-to-day interactions with people and information.”
AT&T highlighted that this investment in innovative technologies will allow Frisco Station to be ready for new innovations to be launched, like Uber Air’s first Skyport and the recently announced drive.ai autonomous vehicle pilot program.
“By proactively addressing current and future connectivity needs, Frisco Station will be prepared for greater reliance on smart devices and automated platforms for transportation, healthcare, entertainment and lifestyle advancements – connecting an anticipated 15,000-person daytime population, five million square feet of office and 2,400 urban living residents,” AT&T’s statement says.
Frisco Station’s enhanced wireless technology is providing a platform to encourage connectivity between Frisco’s emerging corporate and entertainment destinations. Building a connected community from the ground up ensures that Frisco Station’s vision can be put into practice today and maximized well into the future.
About Frisco Station
Frisco Station is an unprecedented 242-acre, mixed-use development in Frisco, Texas that is created with a new approach to urban design based on the foundational principles of smart, creative and healthy experiences. It is among the first connected communities in the nation to be constructed from the ground up, which enables the development to offer innovative amenities that increase convenience and productivity. Frisco Station is served by one of the world’s first Skyports to support Uber Air’s unique flying taxis and is one of the first projects in the nation to be served by a network of autonomous vehicles. Located along Frisco’s highly desired North Platinum Corridor, Frisco Station features fully amenitized office, residential and medical uses, along with a robust retail and restaurant district that will be anchored by Alamo Drafthouse. The project is being developed by the Frisco Station Partnership, which is composed of The Rudman Partnership, Hillwood Properties and VanTrust Real Estate.
About AT&T Communications
We help family, friends and neighbors connect in meaningful ways every day. From the first phone call 140+ years ago to mobile video streaming, we innovate to improve lives. We have the nation’s largest and most reliable network and the nation’s best network for video streaming.** We’re building FirstNet just for first responders and creating next-generation mobile 5G. With DIRECTV and DIRECTV NOW, we deliver entertainment people love to talk about. Our smart, highly secure solutions serve over 3 million global businesses – nearly all of the Fortune 1000. And worldwide, our spirit of service drives employees to give back to their communities. AT&T Communications is part of AT&T Inc.
Is it possible for anyone to throw cold water on the 5G market potential and diminish ultra hyped expectations? YES!
5G use cases may not be compelling enough for massive uptake by businesses, according to Kathryn Weldon, technology research director at GlobalData. Weldon offered her view on upcoming challenges for mobile operators:
“While 5G services are not yet ‘live’ this next generation of wireless technology is already top of mind for service providers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and other telecom market ecosystem players. Aside from gearing up to build out the technology, they will be working together to make sure that 5G use cases are compelling – that is, different enough from 4G to matter to customers. As with any new generation of wireless, the stakes are high, and operators are hoping that they’ll make back their substantial investments in 5G. For most operators, this should come via a ‘massive’ uptake of connectivity, plus revenues from advanced services spanning both consumers and business customers.”
Operators need to move beyond their current barrage of technology build-out narratives and discussions of fixed vs. mobile services, she emphasized. “Rather, it’s the use cases and business outcomes that will make the difference. Operators need to deliver novel and compelling capabilities that change how business customers see and use cellular services.”
Enterprises have different requirements than consumers:
“As 5G communications traffic is expected from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors in industrial robots, roads, and vehicles and can leverage the technology’s reliability and low latency to control critical services and infrastructure for public safety, healthcare, government organizations, and utilities. But the ROI for these applications must be compelling.”
Weldon further acknowledged that questions remain:“Will the enterprise appetite to spend more to use these futuristic use cases exist when 5G networks become a reality? Will devices to support these applications be in place once those networks are ready? Will businesses finally see wireless as a valid replacement for wireline broadband? And lastly, will operators be able to offer all these futuristic services profitably? Only time will tell.
Last year, Global Data said 5G networks will become mainstream by 2020, but Europe will lag behind Asia and the US, as operators seek to make the most of 4G, according to GlobalData, a recognized leader in providing business information and analytics. The company’s 5G report forecasts that while over half of all mobile subscriptions will be 5G-capable in South Korea by 2022, compared only around 7% in Europe.
5G will, for the first time, go beyond increased bandwidth and capacity, as was the focus in previous wireless generations, adding low latency, high density and high reliability. These capabilities will enable a variety of use cases, opening the door to new, predominantly business-focused services such as self-driving cars and smart cities. 5G also supports the focus that many operators have in looking for new, adjacent revenue streams, including fixed-mobile integration, digital content and the Internet of Things.
Peter Jarich, Chief Analyst for GlobalData Technology, adds: “Hopes are running high for the potential of 5G to truly transform mobile business models, and tap new revenue opportunities moving beyond consumers and into diverse digital industries. The implications go beyond any individual operator to impact national and regional competitiveness.
“Despite this, for all the efforts to fast-track early 5G deployments, it’s important to recognize that 5G rollouts will take years to complete; no region or country has won or lost the race to 5G yet.”
Australia 5G Auction in November
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced it will award spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band for the provision of 5G services in November. Australia’s telecom regulator confirmed that it will be auctioning off 125 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band. The spectrum will be divided into 350 lots across 14 regions of Australia.
“As a key enabler of the digital economy, the 3.6 GHz spectrum will ensure Australia is well-placed to realize the benefits of 5G. Timely release of 5G-compatible spectrum will facilitate the early delivery of next generation 5G services to the Australian public and industry,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin. “The ACMA has designed an auction process—including starting prices—that aims to maximize efficiency, competitive outcomes and the full utility of this spectrum for 5G,” O’Loughlin added
Interested carriers will have to pay a AU$10,000 ($7,400) application fee to participate in the auction. Prices for spectrum in metropolitan areas begins at AU$0.08 per megahertz per population. ACMA said the parties wishing to participate in the auction must put in their applications by August 31. The regulator also said that the auction will include a spectrum cap, whereby each bidder is limited to 60 megahertz of spectrum in urban areas and 80 megahertz in rural areas.
In October 2017, the government of Australia developed a paper outlining a 5G policy for the country, including the establishment of a working group to drive the deployment of 5G mobile technology in Australia.
The government said this working group will support the timely rollout of 5G technology in the country with the primary goal of fostering the growth of the digital economy.
The government highlighted that it will support 5G deployments by making spectrum available in a timely manner, actively engaging in international standardization processes and streamlining planning arrangements to allow mobile operators to deploy infrastructure more quickly and at lower cost.
In February, Australian telecommunications company Telstra opened a 5G innovation center in the Gold Coast region. Telstra said the main aim of the new 5G center will be to test next-generation technologies to support the early commercial deployment of 5G mobile services in Australia. Telstra said it aims to launch commercial 5G services in Australia in 2019.
The carrier said its 5G center is designed to enable collaboration among technology vendors, developers, start-ups and the operator’s enterprise customers. At the time of the opening, the carrier announced plans to conduct 5G field trials in the coming months in and around the Gold Coast.
Telstra previously said that said that it would work with Ericsson on key 5G technologies including massive multiple-input, multiple-output (Massive MIMO), adaptive beam forming and beam tracking, and OFDM-based wave forms in its Gold Coast center.
New Zealand’s Spark on its 5G Plan:
Meanwhile, New Zealand telco Spark today published a briefing paper that outlines how it is on track to start providing 5G services to New Zealand consumers and businesses from 2020. The briefing paper aims to inform investors of Spark’s 5G intentions, help customers and stakeholders understand more about 5G, and address key considerations for policymakers. Spark Managing Director Simon Moutter said Spark’s technical and network planning for 5G is advancing after successfully conducting outdoor and indoor trials earlier this year. He has called on the government for clarity on the delivery of 5G spectrum, while outlining the telco’s technical and network planning.
Moutter said Spark is already making decisions that are contingent on securing additional 5G spectrum and is having to make those decisions “in the absence of any clear government policy” on when that spectrum will be available or in what bands. Furthermore, Moutter said the allocation processes for the two most likely spectrum bands – mid frequency C-band and high frequency mmWave band – should be completed as soon as possible, to ensure 5G services can be delivered in time for the 2020-21 America’s Cup in Auckland.
In addition to these bands, low frequency spectrum (below 1000MHz) will be required to deliver 5G services on a pervasive basis into rural areas. The government’s current work to define 600MHz spectrum as a band for potential 5G use should continue at pace, he said.
“We are undertaking detailed planning to ‘map’ expected 5G cell site densities in New Zealand and, as a result of this planning, and the learnings we have taken from our 5G testing, we are forming a good understanding of how many new sites we will need for 5G, and where,” said Moutter today, while releasing a briefing paper on Spark’s 5G intentions.
“We have already begun a build programme to increase the number of cell sites in our existing mobile network – which will enable us to meet near-term capacity demand as well as lay the groundwork for network densification required for 5G.”
Moutter said 5G will enable Spark to provide additional capacity at a lower incremental unit cost than under 4G and 4.5G.
“This means that once 5G is available to deploy, we will have a strong commercial incentive to rapidly build 5G network capability as the primary means of keeping ahead of growing customer demand for more data at faster speeds,” he added.
Spark expects to fund 5G network development (excluding spectrum and any move towards widespread rollout of new cell sites using high frequency mmWave band spectrum) within its existing capital expenditure envelope of 11 per cent to 12 per cent of revenues by diverted investment from 4G as soon as the necessary spectrum is available.
By 2020, Spark expects its wireless-network specific capex to be between 25 per cent and 35 per cent of Spark’s overall capital expenditure envelope, up from 25 per cent in the year ended 30 June 2017.
In late 2018, Spark will launch a 5G Innovation Lab in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct that will allow partner companies to test and develop applications over a pre-commercial 5G network.
Moutter said it was important for policy makers to recognise 5G is not a standalone technology or solution – it will operate with previous generations of wireless technology and will be deployed as an overlay of existing network infrastructure.
Therefore, policy settings need to support network operators having control over the evolution of their wireless networks, he said.
Moutter also took another swipe at recent suggestions an organisation such as Chorus should roll out a single 5G network for New Zealand along the lines of the Ultrafast Broadband project.
“The current competitive market model, in which multiple wireless network operators compete against one another to grow their customer bases through product and service innovation and pricing, represents a good blueprint for the way 5G can be rolled out in New Zealand and would provide for more investment predictability and certainty over the coming decade,” Moutter commented.
China is pulling ahead of the US in the race to build infrastructure for 5G wireless, according to a new report from Deloitte Consulting. The report titled “5G – The chance to lead for a decade” illustrates how China and other countries are outpacing the U.S. in terms of wireless communication infrastructure spend, tower density and efficiency of execution. Together, these practices are distinguishing China’s lead in the early stages of 5G deployment. This report explores the sense of urgency for wireless carriers and policy makers to work together in an effort to increase investment in the country’s communications infrastructure and offers potential solutions to help improve economic efficiency.
China has outspent the U.S. by $24 billion since 2015 and built out ten times more sites than the U.S. to support 5G communications, according to the report. In just three months of 2017, Chinese cell phone tower companies and carriers added more sites than the U.S had done in the previous three years, the Deloitte Consulting report found. The country has built 350,000 new cell phone tower sites, while the U.S. built less than 30,000. Even with this estimate normalized to account for the population to wireless subscriber ratio, the study concludes that the U.S. has under spent China in wireless infrastructure by $8 to $10 billion per year since 2015.
In 2017, U.S. tower companies and carriers added fewer sites in the last three years than China added in three months. China now has 1.9 million sites, 10 times more than the U.S., which yields almost 40 times the tower density per square mile, and three times the density on a per-capita basis.
“We predict that 5G will expand the network effect dramatically by extending the reach of the internet to almost any kind of connection, by almost any kind of device, anywhere a wireless signal can reach,” said Dan Littmann, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “The potential economic benefits of 5G will soon become a key differentiator for cities looking to attract both businesses and residents. For the U.S. to remain competitive and eventually emerge as a leader, the race to 5G should be carefully evaluated and swift actions should be taken.”
- Establishing lighter touch policy frameworks that are able to deliver higher scale and efficiency and help reduce deployment cycle times.
- Encourage collaboration among carriers and other ecosystem organizations so that the demonstrated benefits from network effects are equitably shared.
- Implementing a national communications infrastructure database to provide deployment statistics, leading practices, and visibility into small cell approval and denial rates.
The report concludes that as another era of untapped economic potential emerges with the adoption of 5G technology, investment in upgrading the underlying communications infrastructure has become increasingly critical. Unless tangible steps are taken to help rebalance the private investment case for the upgrade, the U.S. may risk losing the macro-economic leadership it gained in the previous wireless investment era.
“Maintaining U.S. leadership in mobile communications requires that carriers, technology vendors, OTT innovators, municipalities and policy makers collaborate to build a strong business case for 5G. Deployment costs and cycle times for a densified network infrastructure is are critical for the U.S. to gain equal footing with other countries striving to be first to 5G,” Littmann added.
While China is streaking ahead of the US in terms of network rollout, it looks like there are also several other nations who are in a more comfortable position also. In terms of the number of sites per 10,000 citizens, Deloitte estimates this number at 4.7 in the US, though this is eclipsed by China (14.1), Germany (8.7) and Japan (17.4). Looking at the average number of sites per ten square miles, US stands at 0.4, while China has 5.3, Germany has 5.1 and Japan has 15.2.
The US telcos might be bragging about getting to launch commercial 5G services first, but this means very little. Having several pockets of 5G coverage scattered over the US, focused around the cities which house telco HQs is not the same as taking a leadership position in the 5G economy. When it comes to network densification investments, a key factor for the success of the technology, China does seem to be taking the lead.
ITU Report on 5G:
Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MISE) announced seven companies will participate in the country’s upcoming 5G spectrum auction, which is projected to raise €2.5 billion. Mobile operators Iliad, Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italy and Wind Tre will be joined by fixed broadband operators Linkem, Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB) and Open Fiber.
The auction is unusual in attracting so much interest from outside the existing mobile telecom sector. In sharp contrast, recent 5G auctions in South Korea, Spain and the UK have not produced new mobile challengers. Italy will be auctioning spectrum across a variety of bands, and not just the mid-range airwaves that were made available in Spain and the UK.
Companies will bid for licences in the 649MHz to 790MHz; 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz; and 26.5GHz to 27.5GHz frequencies, with the auction designed to create new entrants focused on boosting infrastructure in the market as well as making 5G-suitable spectrum available. MISE said that new low-cost operator Iliad was the only participant to indicate it would bid for spectrum in the 700 MHz band frequencies currently used by broadcasters, and where special conditions apply to new entrants.
The auction is scheduled to be held at the end of September, with half of the €2.5 billion raised this year. Allocation will, however, not be finalized before the end of 2022. Bidders are expected to submit initial offers by September 10th.
Under the tender’s rules, a new entrant (or remedy taker) can acquire up to three blocks of 2×5 MHz in the 700 MHz band of the six available, while an operator that has 10 MHz in both the 800 MHz band and in the 900 MHz band, can acquire just two of these blocks.
About Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MISE):
MISE is responsible for Internet Governance through participation in various international bodies and supervision of the assignment of domain names. It operates for IT security, certifying the security of systems and products and providing prevention and support services to citizens and businesses. It authorizes network providers to offer public access to the network and telecommunications services (ISP). It also promotes the dissemination of accessibility and usability of websites and, more generally, digital literacy. Finally, the Ministry supports the development of the ultra-broadband and defines the National Strategy together with Agid (Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale) .
The development of ultra-broadband through the simplification of the regulatory framework, the creation of new development drivers, the use of tax incentives, the reduction of installation costs is a priority for achieving the objectives of the EU 2020 agenda.
The global RAN base station equipment market will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5% to exceed $26 billion in 2023, ABI research forecast in a new report.
“Today the RAN equipment market is undergoing multiple technology transitions as network operators move to densify macro networks with small cells, tackle in-building wireless and evolve to new technologies such as 5G, LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), unlicensed and shared spectrum technologies such as OnGo in the United States, and MulteFire,” said Nick Marshall, Research Director at ABI Research.
“These transitions are occurring against a backdrop of continuous technology evolution as networks upgrade to include MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output), Massive MIMO, 256 QAM, and carrier aggregation,” continued Marshall.
Global spending on indoor equipment which represents 27% of this market today will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.5% to represent a value of 42% of the total by 2023, the ABI Research report, Indoor, Outdoor, and IoT Network Infrastructure states.
The Asia Pacific region, which includes some of the largest and growing RAN markets in the world, is expected to continue to dominate the market with a share of 58% of global sales. North America and Europe will rank a distant second and third respectively.
Sale of infrastructure equipment in the North American and Asia Pacific regions will continue to be dominated by replacement and upgrades to LTE with the addition of 5G equipment gaining share starting in 2019, the report states.
“While the overall market is healthy, the underlying technology transitions are complex and only those vendors that can leverage them stand to benefit – these vendors include Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia, Samsung, and ZTE,” Marshall concluded.
Not only the traditional vendors will benefit as various “5G” technologies mature. Many specialist vendors are ready to compete for “5G” market share. These vendors include small cell specialists Acceleran, Airspan, Airvana/CommScope, Comba, Contela, ip. access, Parallel Wireless, Ruckus/Arris, and SpiderCloud Wireless/Corning.
This report is part of the company’s 5G & Mobile Network Infrastructure research service, which includes research, data, and Executive Foresights.
About ABI Research
ABI Research provides strategic guidance for visionaries needing market foresight on the most compelling transformative technologies, which reshape workforces, identify holes in a market, create new business models and drive new revenue streams. ABI’s own research visionaries take stances early on those technologies, publishing groundbreaking studies often years ahead of other technology advisory firms. ABI analysts deliver their conclusions and recommendations in easily and quickly absorbed formats to ensure proper context. Our analysts strategically guide visionaries to take action now and inspire their business to realize a bigger picture. For more information about ABI Research’s forecasting, consulting and teardown services, visionaries can contact us at +1.516.624.2500 in the Americas, +44.203.326.0140 in Europe, +65.6592.0290 in Asia-Pacific or visitwww.abiresearch.com.
Despite skepticism from industry analysts and some recent prodding by the FCC, Dish Network Corp. is steadfastly confident that it can meet its service and buildout commitments for the wireless spectrum it owns. On it’s second quarter earings call (see excerpts below), Dish stressed that it’s “on track” to complete the first phase of a 5G-capable network, initially supporting Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) services, by March 2020.
Author’s Note: Of course, NB-IoT is a 3GPP spec and is not part of true standardized 5G (ITU-R IMT 2020).
CEO Charlie Ergen on Dish’s 2Q-2018 earnings call earlier this week:
When we first started talking about it, I think there was a high degree of skepticism that an IoT network — that narrowband IoT network was the business. And of course since that time, you’ve seen Verizon, and AT&T, and T-Mobile now has a national plan all around the world Vodafone, companies in China very far ahead in IoT. So think it’s now recognized that narrowband IoT is in fact a major contributor in the world moving forward.
So we have a track record of being innovative, disruptive and it may be on the — maybe being on the very, very leading edge of where technologies go and we have another opportunity to do that in 5G…. I think that the FCC is maybe just like many people in this call and many investors and that there is some skepticism on DISH’s ability to execute that plan it’s a big project. And I think as the months go by, as people see the progress that we made, you turn that into people coming to the realization that we can in fact — we face same skepticism when we were going to launch satellites and compete against with — compete against incumbents and major corporations. And we never done that before, it was a big project for us. But with a dedicated team of people focused on the right direction we’re confident that we’ll be able to do that.
But the big paradigm shift in 5G, not the market in 5G that you’re going to hear about , but the real paradigm shift in 5G is Release 16 from 3GPP, which for standalone network is December of 2019, that’s when the specification comes out. It allows you to do three things that you can’t do in 5G today; it allows massive broadband; it allows massive IoT connectivity; and it allows the network to have low latency, so very, very low latencies.
Editor’s Note: That is absolutely correct- it’s 3GPP release 16, along with parts of release 15, that will be submitted to ITU-R WP 5D for consideration as an IMt 2020 RIT.
We also are in a position with clean sheet of paper to do one — two more things really; one is to virtualize the network in a day and virtualize every aspect of our network, not just portions of it; and to slice our network so that it looks like separate networks to potential partners and customers. So it’s a huge, huge paradigm shift in terms of being 100% 5G with Release 19. So that release comes out at December 19, which means that people have to go build product for that. So product becomes available sometime later in 2020.
The second thing that happens is that our uplink spectrum. Let’s take 600 megahertz as an example that is not cleared by the broadcasters fully cleared until July of 2020. So we can’t build a modern network. The state-of-the-art we can’t start building that until 2020. And we’re hampered today just as a sideline, we’re very hampered today in building network because our uplink spectrum — we only have 5 megahertz of uplink spectrum. You can’t build a massive broadband network with 5 megahertz of uplink spectrum. So we have a lot of downlink spectrum, but we don’t have corresponding uplink. So we’ve got to get that cleared. And it’s not — it’s the 600 megahertz, it’s still the DE issues that are outstanding, all those things need to get cleared up for us to be able to do it. But everything comes together in 2020 for us to build a modern network.
The competitors will start building hybrid networks, but they’re not going to get to a full 5G platform without ripping out what they already have. And they have hundreds of millions of customers with phones. So the phone customer is not going to see that much difference in latency. So that some of the things that we’re going to do aren’t going to be that attractive from a cost to benefit ratio to the incumbents. But if we want to lead in 5G, we want to lead in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles,, smart cities, you’re going to need a more modern network for that and we’ll play big part in that.
Dish expects NB-IoT deployments to start “in earnest” this fall, Tom Cullen, Dish’s EVP of corporate development said. He pointed out that this part of the buildout is already funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet.
As I mentioned on the last call, we’ve made a lot of good progress and it’s the number one priority here at DISH and we’ve got a dedicated team working on it day-in and day-out. And we’ll start seeing radios in the next in the coming weeks and the deployment will start in earnest later this fall and that as we’ve mentioned before, it can be funded off of cash on the balance sheet.
On the number of NB-IoT cell sites/towers, Ergen said:
We’re not, at this point, disclosing the number of towers. As you know — as you’re doing RF planning and deployment that’s a pretty fluid environment and the number of towers is changing as we make progress going down the road. So I can’t address that specifically other than, as I said earlier, we feel like we’re making good progress and we’ll have pretty meaningful insight I think in the next four to six months.
I think you can assume that we would have materially less towers in phase one than phase two as you get into some of 5G applications that once the Release 19 is that you’ll need a denser network for sure. We have disclosed that we expect to spend between $500 and $1 billion on wireless through 2020. So they give you’re a range where we think it is no matter how many towers it is, we’re probably going to be in that range. And we’re working with a third party for RF design in terms of how many towers. And then obviously once we get it to test, we could verify that the specifications that the RF design and the vendors have said to us, is accurate. And so we’re — the answer is we don’t surely know, but we do know it’s materially less towers than perhaps the incumbents have today on a nationwide basis just because the range is clearly farther to the spec.
Cullen on 3GPP NB-IoT coverage:
I would only say that the 3GPP standard spec) today is about 35 kilometer coverage. But the 3GPP is currently entertaining, changing the NB-IoT standard (spec) to 120 kilometers of coverage and some of the vendors we’re working with are able to provide 100 km. Now you can’t do that in every area, obviously, because of clutter and urban density and so forth. But that — because of that level of propagation, it reduces the number of towers necessary to provide the required terrestrial signal coverage as dictated by the license.
Ergen refuted persistent suggestions that Dish should just sell its spectrum, holding that Dish is committed to the network buildout because 5G is critical to the company’s future.
I don’t think you’ve heard me talking much about selling spectrum even, question number one. And then analysts have talked about that but I think that we see such an opportunity for 5G in terms of what that does realizes is our network is going to be different as a standalone network, it’s a little bit different. And we think the customer we might go after might be quite a bit different than the incumbents. And we see that as the long-term future of how this company is relevant 30 years from now. And so that’s a tough transition and tough on investors to be patient while it goes through that. But that has been our focus and has always been our focus.
We originally want to be built an LTE 4G network. We just — the rules on H-block got changed where we suddenly lost some of our — from interference perspective and we had to change course and then we had to go downlink this is all things that took place we had to wait for the next paradigm shift. And that’s — the good news is the 5G paradigm shift is much bigger than the LTE paradigm shift.
How much capital will be needed for the 5G build-out? Here’s what Ergen said:
There is no question that we need to raise capital for the build-out. But realize we’re two-thirds of the way there — more than two-thirds of the way there in terms of capital for total 5G network. So run the math on that and it’s something like dollar megahertz per pop with a totally standalone 5G network, right. The number of people that might be attractive to is very long. What way you might structure partnerships and the ability for capital are many, many, many, many options to how you might do that.
There isn’t an industry in the next decade that doesn’t need what we’re going to build; and tens of billions of dollars is going to autonomous vehicles, but they’re going to need a piece of what we have; tens of billions of dollars goes to healthcare, they need a piece of what we have; tens of billions of dollars goes in utilities, they need a piece of what we have; tens of billions dollars is going into artificial intelligence, they need a piece of what we have; tens of billions of dollars are going in virtual reality, autoimmune reality and need a piece of what we have; tens of billions dollars is going into smart cities, they need a piece of what we have.
How long will NB-IoT build out take and what comes next?
It takes three years to build this first phase (NB-IoT). But the first phase leads to the second phase, which I think everybody is going to be pretty thrilled about, including the FCCs and investors and consumers. The first phase is going to be important but it’s not going to be as massive as we all would like. But for our license that’s not required and there is practical reasons why we can’t make it more massive today.
Sprint said today in a press release that it’s Next-Gen Network build is well underway as we invest billions to give Sprint customers an even stronger 4G – LTE Advanced network (true 4G) and launch mobile 5G (fake-non standard) in the first half of next year. CTO John Saw wrote:
The Sprint Next-Gen Network build stems from our largest investment in years, and we’re unleashing our spectrum assets to improve coverage, reliability and speed nationwide as we work to launch mobile 5G in the first half of 2019.
Massive MIMO is our award-winning strategy for 5G. This game-changing technology is capable of delivering up to 10 times the capacity of current LTE systems, significantly increasing data speeds for more customers in high-traffic locations. And because Sprint has so much 2.5 GHz spectrum, we can use Massive MIMO to deliver 4G LTE and 5G on the same radio simultaneously.
In our first quarter of FY18 we continued field testing and optimizing Massive MIMO radios in locations such as Dallas, Los Angeles and New York City. Some sites are now running commercial traffic and the initial performance results are very promising. Today we’re seeing a more than 4X increase in speed on these sites, as well as increased coverage and cell edge performance.
When it comes to 5G, the network is only part of the equation. This is why we’re excited to keep making progress on our first 5G smartphone and Always Connected PC. In the first half of 2019 we plan to launch mobile 5G in nine markets initially – Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, New York City, Phoenix and Washington, D.C. And we expect Sprint customers will be among the first in the world to have access to a beautifully designed 5G phone.
It’s an exciting time to be in wireless with LTE networks rapidly advancing and 5G on the near horizon. You’ll see us accelerate our build activity in the months ahead. More triband upgrades, more innovative small cells, and more game-changing Massive MIMO powering a Network Built for Unlimited.
These technologies and more all play a pivotal role in improving the network experience for our customers under any scenario. If Sprint proceeds as a standalone company, our investment helps us continue improving our 4G LTE Advanced network, and launch mobile 5G in the first half of next year. If the merger with T-Mobile is approved, our investment helps the combined company rapidly create the best nationwide mobile 5G network, fueling a wave of innovation and disruption throughout the marketplace.
In March 2018, Saw told RCR Wireless: “Massive MIMO is our secret weapon to getting 5G built simultaneously with 4G. You need two enabling things. One is massive MIMO. I was just in a meeting with [Ericsson] to see if they can do more faster. The second thing is spectrum.” Sprint is tapping its 2.5 GHz spectrum to support the massive MIMO build. That theme was echoed last week during Sprint’s fiscal first quarter 2018 earnings call.
“We now have a few massive MIMO sites on air,” Sprint’s new CEO, Michel Combes, said Wednesday, adding that the 2.4GHz massive input, massive output (massive MIMO) arrays are “5G-ready” with a software upgrade for the mobile 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) New Radio specification. “We expect to provide mobile services and devices in the first half of 2019,” Combes said. (See Sprint Reveals 3 More 5G Cities, Promises ‘Cool’ 5G Phone & Small Cell and Intel Promises 5G Laptops With Sprint in 2019). Specifically, Combes said on the earnings call:
We are deploying innovative 5G technologies such as Massive MIMO as we prepare to launch the first 5G mobile network in the first half of 2019. Massive MIMO radios are software upgradable to 5G NR allowing us to fully utilize our spectrum for both LTE and 5G simultaneously while we enhance capacity even further with 5G and begin to support new 5G use cases. We now have a few Massive MIMO sites commercially on air in a few markets and are seeing very promising results, including speed improvements of over 300% while also increasing coverage and cell edge performance.
Sprint’s priority is mobile 5G and we expect to provide commercial services and devices by the first half 2019. Most importantly, as we look ahead, it’s clear that our proposed merger with T-Mobile will deliver an acceleration of an even greater 5G network with the breadth and depth that we could not do on our own.
Sprint has previously said that massive MIMO will be deployed in its initial 5G cities first. Sprint has so far named Atlanta; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Kansas City; Los Angeles; New York City; Phoenix; and Washington, D.C., as its first 5G markets.
Massive MIMO will enable Sprint to run both LTE and 5G on its 2.5GHz band, CTO John Saw noted on the call. It is taking advantage of its higher-band spectrum to deploy 64 transmitters and 64 receivers (64T64R) in an array. It has already shown over 600-Mbit/s downloads on LTE over MIMO in New Orleans. (See Gigabit LTE: Sprint’s MIMO Gras in New Orleans).
Separately, Sprint now seems more open to using millimeter wave if it can buy licenses at auction in November. “It’s an excellent opportunity to supplement our 2.5GHz portfolio for our 5G deployment,” Combes said.
CTO Saw has said that LTE speeds in its initial 5G markets are seeing a four-times increase in download speeds, although CEO Combes noted on the earnings call that Sprint can build a better 5G network if its merger with T-Mobile is approved. (See Getting Real About Mobile 5G Speeds). New Sprint CFO Andrew Davies noted that capital expenditure for the quarter was “relatively flat” year-on-year, at $1.1 billion. Network spending will ramp up with the 5G build this year, to $5 billion or $6 billion.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has proposed to allocate 5G spectrum to the market’s operators for no charge, to give them a competitive advantage in the race to 5G adoption.
The government has proposed to assign 4,100MHz of 26-GHz and 28-GHz spectrum to operators if demand is below 75% of supply, the South China Morning Post reported.
Allocating free spectrum would greatly reduce the cost and shorten the time required for operators to roll out 5G networks, according to Hong Kong’s secretary for commerce and economic development Edward Yau Tang-wah.
Announcing the proposal, Yau noted that he has concluded that there is no need for an auction given the abundant supply of high-band spectrum. “That means it will greatly reduce the cost and also shorten the time involved,” Yau said, referring to the roll-out of 5G networks by service providers.
Ensuring a timely 5G rollout would also facilitate the introduction of more IoT, smart city and other technology applications, supporting the government’s smart city ambitions. “We all know that 5G is not just for communication. It is also for the Internet of Things, smart city and lots of technology applications,” he said. The Internet of Things refers to a network of devices – anything from phones and computers to home appliances and microchips – that wirelessly connect to the internet and to each other.
Under the proposal, operators assigned high-frequency spectrum would need to install at least 5,000 base stations across the city. The HKSAR government also plans to hold a consultation on allocating an additional 200 MHz of 3.3-GHz and 4.9-GHz spectrum to support 5G rollouts in the market, the report adds.
Yau cautioned that while the proposal could lead to lower prices for consumers, operators’ spectrum utilization charges typically only make up 3% to 4% of operational costs, and prices are more affected by market competition and data usage than spectrum fees.