Verizon talks up OTT video over “5G” fixed access; will participate in “5G” trial in South Africa

Verizon will join with an unannounced over-the-top (OTT) video company rather than launch a linear service of its own, CEO Lowell McAdam said during a Yahoo Finance interview yesterday. Verizon intends to bundle the OTTP video service with its “5G” fixed access starting in the fourth quarter. “I think the linear TV model is dead — it’s just going to take a long time to die,” he said.

“Our view is we should partner with those that are in the linear game, let them be very good at what they do. We’ll add digital content to that mix and we’ll position ourselves for where we become more of an over-the-top video culture versus the linear model that we have today.”

What McAdam is previewing is an integrated OTT offer that combines a linear channel line-up and VOD with Verizon’s digital assets. He hopes this approach will provide both some differentiation in the market and additional ways to monetize their Oath digital content.

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Separately,  Verizon will participate in a trial “5G” network to be deployed in South Africa by local telecommunications company Comsol. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has also joined Comsol as a partner in the venture.  The three firms will deploy a trial “5G” network, which will be operational by the third quarter of 2018, Comsol CEO Iain Stevenson told TechCentral by phone on Tuesday. The objective is to showcase the network at the upcoming ITU Telecom World conference to be hosted by South Africa later this year.

Stevenson said the trial will be converted into a full commercial network with more base stations early next year once the 5G standards have been ratified. Comsol has been working to build a 5G network in South Africa for some time.

The trial, which will take place in Johannesburg, will consist of two “multi-sector” base stations to start, connected to fibre-optic backhaul. Multiple demonstration points will be established where members of the public will be able to experience 5G, which will deliver gigabit-class Internet access. Both Samsung, whose technology will be used in the trial, and Verizon will send engineers to South Africa to assist in the construction of the network.

Though the trial network will be “non-commercial”, customers will be connected to it and will use it in real-world environments, Stevenson said. Other 5G trials in South Africa have not involved live customers.

The “point-to-multipoint” network will utilise Comsol’s extensive spectrum assignment at 28GHz — it owns more than 30% of the high-frequency band. Stevenson declined to comment in detail on Comsol’s strategic plans, including its likely future funding model, but said it intends offering services to both businesses and retail consumers, with the technology serving as a replacement to fiber.

The trial is aimed at delivering a wireless solution that rivals “FTTx” offerings, including fiber to the business and fiber to the home, by early next year. This will be achieved by using the “pre-5G” proprietary standard from Verizon’s 5G Technical Forum for fixed-wireless deployments in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands. The proprietary standard will ultimately be converted into the 3GPP 5G New Radio specification once they have been confirmed by ITU-R WP 5D (not before August 2019!)

Stevenson said 5G fixed-wireless access has the potential to connect millions of South Africans with high-speed connectivity that would never be possible with fiber solutions, which, he said, require significant investment in physical infrastructure.

“Verizon has made significant investments in spectrum and technology and established a number of strategic collaborations to launch fixed-wireless 5G services in between three and five US cities by the end of this year.”

Sung Yoon, president and CEO of Samsung Electronics Africa, said in a statement about the collaboration between the companies that there is “so much opportunity in the region due to the diversity of markets and services already in place here, and we think South Africa is a prime candidate to show off the benefits that 5G can bring to consumers here.”

“While this agreement initially focuses on 5G fixed-wireless access, over time this will evolve into consumer offerings, similar to the way that we use 4G services today,” Stephenson said.

Reference:

https://www.techcentral.co.za/verizon-samsung-back-new-5g-network-in-sa/81229/

 

 

JEDEC Forum: AI/ML for IoT; LP-WANs & Mediatek’s SoC Solutions – Part I.

Introduction:

Several new ideas, concepts and forecasts were made at JEDEC’s Mobile & IOT Forum on March 26, 2018 in Santa Clara, CA. In particular:

  • Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Deep Learning will have a huge, positive impact on control of IoT devices (2 presentations summarized);
  • 3GPP specified NB-IoT is a strong contender among the many Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) for IoT;
  • New and different IT requirements at the network edge are needed to provide the low latency needed for real time control of IoT devices;  
  • MIPI Alliance specifications for Mobile and IoT were presented and MIPI’s role explained.

In this first of a two part event summary we provide highlights of the first two keynote speeches at the conference. In part II, we’ll look at more aspects of AI, MIPI, and the new IT requirements for the intelligent network edge as suggested by Lenovo.

Discussion of Selected Keynote Presentations:

  1. Signs of Intelligent Life: AI Simplifies IoT

In his opening keynote presentation, Stephen Lum of Samsung said that some IoT industry vertical device volumes have seen an explosion of demand due to the introduction of Artificial Intelligence into their usage model. The connection and control of those devices is driving tremendous data traffic volumes into the cloud where the AI/ML/DL actually takes place. For example, the Amazon Echo and Google Home connected device control has all voice recognition, language understanding, AI/ML/DL done in cloud resident data center compute servers owned and programmed by Amazon and Google, respectively. Autonomous vehicles will also have AI/ML/DL done in the cloud but likely at the network edge to provide ultra-low latency.

Stephen stated that a simple thesis of deep learning is that the more data used to train neural networks, the smarter the AI becomes. Some of his other cogent data points were the following:

  • New AI chips are being designed to efficiently process deep neural networks.
  • Solid state memory needs to keep pace with processors to prevent bottlenecks. See bullet points below for UFS.
  • Scalability becomes more critical as consumers adopt new services.
  • Universal Flash Storage (UFS) is a high performance, scalable interface for storage at the edge of the network.
  • UFS combines the key features of eMMC (embedded Multi-Media Controller) and SSDs (Solid State Drives).
  • UFS Card brings benefits to a removable storage form factor.

The diverse needs of three IoT industry verticals were said to be as follows:

  • Wearables (e.g. smart watches, fitness trackers, etc): Low power, Low density, Specialized form factors.
  • Smart Home (AKA Connected Home): Low cost, Low to mid density, Low to high bandwidth –depending on the device to be analyzed and/or controlled, 2-5 years longevity.
  • Automotive (more than just autonomous vehicles): High bandwidth, High density, Very high reliability, 7-10 years longevity.

Summary:

  • Artificial Intelligence is enabling more innovative real-time services to be delivered to consumers.
  • AI in the Cloud simplifies edge devices, encourages their adoption with low cost of entry.
  • Autonomous vehicles, cannot be Cloud dependent, will become AI servers on wheels.
  • JEDEC has enabled tremendous advances in memory while expediting quick adoption and provides a firm foundation for memory-related ecosystems

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  1. Opening a New Era of IoT -Opportunities and Solutions

Note: I related best to this presentation at it was the only one dealing exclusively with the network aspects of IoT.

Harrison Hsieh of Mediatek said at the beginning of his excellent presentation that we should look at the network required for IoT based on whether the devices/ end points were indoors or outdoors.

Let’s first look at an IoT indoor application presented by Mr. Hsieh:

Challenges of Smart Home (e.g. kitchen management, living room control, home heating/cooling/climate control, entertainment device control, security/surveillance, etc.):

  • Uncovered Zone: Bad connection, No signal, Dead end
  • Different Protocols (and wiring or wireless): Kitchen, Living room, Lighting, Climate control, Surveillance

Whole home IoT coverage requires Adaptive Networking which includes: Easy Setup/Configuration, Network Healing (after failure detection), Fast Roaming, Beam/Frequency Band Steering, Smart QoS, and Solid Security.

According to MediaTek, the IoT home system should be: Easy to Use, Have a unified protocol, be intuitive to install, have a single ecosystem with a user friendly interface (e.g. plug and play).

Harrison said that MediaTek’s Human to Machine interface solutions will focus on Hands-Free Voice Controlled Applications which are intuitive to configure and control diverse devices.  We strongly agree!

Next, the outdoor IoT applications face many challenges today, including:

a.] Complicated Technologies:

Unlicensed Wireless (e.g. LoRa WAN, Sigfox, etc)

Proprietary Technologies (too many)

Complex Deployment

b.] Limitation of Signal Coverage:

Low Penetration Capability (trees, buildings/walls, etc)

Limited Range with Single Base Station

c.] High Power Consumption:

Legacy Technologies

Not Dedicated or purpose built for outdoor IoT design (except for SIgfox and LoRA WAN, maybe LTE Category M/M1?)

Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWANs) for IoT [1.] need a dedicated solution, which Mediatek believes is 3GPP’s NB-IoT. They think it’s the clear winner when compared to other LTE standards, including LTE Category M/M1 which many carriers are using today for IoT applications.

In particular, LTE NB-IoT R14 [2] was said to offer the following attributes:

  • System Bandwidth of 200kHz
  • Down Link Peak Rate of 127kbps
  • Up Link Peak Rate of 18kbps(ST) / 158kbps(MT)
  • Link Budget (power consumption) of 164 dB
  • Low Memory Requirement (especially compared to other LTE standards)
  • Half Duplex mode
  • Battery life measured in years rather than days or weeks

Other advantages of LTE NB-IoT R14 include:

  • Location Accuracy (UTDOA/OTDOA)
  • Mobility Enhancement (Cell Reselection)
  • High Data Rate (Supports FOTA or firmware updates over the air)

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Note 1. Market for LPWANs:

LPWANs will be the world’s fastest-growing connectivity technology through 2025, supporting 4 billion IoT devices by that date, according to market tracker ABI Research.

We expect to have more than 100 million NB-IoT connections on our network by 2020,” said Xiaotian Chen, general manager of China Unicom’s IoT group, said in a Cisco press statement.

China Mobile reported at MWC 2018 that it has launched NB-IoT networks in 346 cities using chipsets from five companies — Huawei, Mediatek, Qualcomm, RDA, and ZTE. The carrier has approved for use on its network 15 NB-IoT modules using the chips, according to a report from TechInsights analysts at the MWC 2018 event.

China Telecom, gave an update on its aggressive deployments of NB-IoT at a U.S. the MWC Americas event last September.

In the U.S., T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon plan to deploy NB-IoT with T-Mobile’s offering planned for 2018 with the others to follow.

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Note 2.  3GPP’s LTE NB-IoT R14 briefly explained:

In 3GPP LTE Release 13, Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) was specified for providing wide-area connectivity for massive machine-type communications for IoT.

In 3GPP LTE Release 14, NB-IoT was further developed to deliver an enhanced user experience in selected areas through the addition of features such as increased positioning accuracy, increased peak data rates, the introduction of a lower device power class, improved non-anchor carrier operation, multicast, and authorization of coverage enhancements. 

According to MediaTek, 3GPP Release 14 imbues essential features for NB-IoT mobile applications such as:

  • Location accuracy via just modem (UTDOA/OTDOA)
  • Mobility enhancements from seamless cell re-selection
  • Push-to-talk voice messaging services
  • Higher efficiency by lowering power consumption for wearables
  • Supports massive industrial or city-wide deployments with multicast

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Summary of Mediatek’s IoT LPWAN Solution:

Global Oriented NB-IoT Solution:

Support NB1 (Rel.13) & NB2 (Rel.14) Global Bands (450Mhz – 2.1Ghz)

Latest NB2 Modem Technology (Position allocation/Higher Data Rate/Cell Reselection)

Highly Integration with Low Power Design:

Leading SoC integrated design with Small form factor

Rich I/Os for various application

Optimized low power design in One-time battery

Comprehensive Product Portfolio:

Combination with MediaTek Connectivity technologies

Integrated and matured Software offerings

In closing, Harrison predicted that the IT user interface will change from keyboard to voice (it already has for this author on his smart phone and tablet) while NB-IOT market will “take off in 2019-2020” timeframe.

Mediatek’s System on a Chip (SoC) connectivity solutions are targeted at the home, on the move (mobile) and in the cloud.

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Part II. of this event summary was published on March 29, 2018 at http://techblog.comsoc.org/2018/03/29/ai-deep-learning-new-it-requirements-for-edge-computing-mipi-alliance-for-mobile-and-iot/

 

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References:

https://labs.mediatek.com/en/blog/IoT-tech-comparison-and-vision

MediaTek targets “huge” NB-IoT opportunity – Mobile World Live

https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1333023

https://www.nickhunn.com/13-companies-announce-nb-iot-chips/

https://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1332311

https://www.link-labs.com/blog/overview-of-narrowband-iot

AI/Deep Learning, New IT Requirements for Edge Computing & MIPI Alliance for Mobile and IoT

 

Verizon Selects Samsung for First “5G” Fixed Wireless Broadband Deployment in 2018

Verizon has chosen Samsung Electronics as a major supplier in the U.S. telco’s push to offer high speed fixed access internet and other services over its wireless network. Financial terms of this “5G” business relationship weren’t disclosed.  Samsung’s “5G” Fixed Wireless Access network products (including 5G home routers and 5G Radio Access units) will be used for commercial deployments.

Verizon says its “5G” fixed access network will launch in the second half of this year in Sacramento, CA, which is more than two full years before ITU-R WP5D completes its IMT 2020 standards.  Verizon plans to add the same “5G” fixed broadband access service in four other U.S. markets later in 2018.  It will use cellular antennas to beam high-speed internet into consumers’ homes. Samsung will make network equipment for Verizon—including the small boxes that will sit inside each home, receiving the signal and translating it into WiFi— the companies said Wednesday, January 3, 2018.  Verizon said last month it would also use “5G” network equipment made by Ericsson for commercial launches in other U.S. markets.

Verizon estimates the market opportunity for initial 5G residential broadband services to be approximately 30 million households nationwide. In addition, it says that the 5G commercial launch will not have a material impact on its consolidated Capex in 2018 and that it expects its full-year 2018 capital spending program to be consistent with the past several years.

Last year, Verizon began “5G” fixed access trials, focused on home broadband service, in 11 U.S. markets from New Jersey to California. Samsung will provide network gear for Verizon’s launch in Sacramento, where customers will be offered the option of purchasing the faster wireless access capability.  Verizon and Samsung collaborated on 5G trials in parts of California, Georgia, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and Washington, D.C.  Verizon and Samsung said that those trials revealed that a single 5G radio could reach the 19th floor of a multi-dwelling unit, and that broadband service was achieved using line of sight, partial Line of Sight (LOS) and even non-LOS connections. They also claimed that “environmental factors” such as rain and snow, did not interrupt “5G” based broadband service.

“The industry has been discussing 5G connectivity for years, and through our joint collaboration with partners like Samsung, we are beginning to make it a reality for our customers,” Ed Chan, chief technology architect and network planning at Verizon, said in a statement. “Sacramento is an ideal place to begin deploying 5G broadband services, providing a progressive environment for creating future use cases.”

“Together with Verizon, we have explored the vast potential of 5G through market trials across the U.S.,” added Mark Louison, SVP and GM, networks division, at Samsung Electronics America. “At the same time, Samsung applied lessons learned from these real-world trials to ensure that our complete end-to-end 5G portfolio is ready for commercial service. We are delighted to work with Verizon on this journey to create unprecedented user experiences powered by 5G.”

[Note that there’s been no mention of when “5G” mobile service might be available from Verizon.]

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“5G” carries the potential to disrupt the broadband fixed access market for triple play services.  That market is currently dominated by cable/MSO providers like Comcast Corp. and Charter Communications Inc, but AT&T is also there with its U-verse and AT&T Fiber offerings.

Companies globally are investing billions of dollars in 5G despite continued debate over its ultimate uses beyond faster download speeds.  The three main applications areas for IMT 2020 are:

1] Enhanced Mobile Broadband

2] Ultra-Reliable, Low Latency Communications

3] Massive Machine Communications, i.e. Internet of Things (IoT)

Note that fixed broadband Internet access is not one of them!

Here’s an ITU diagram of IMT 2020 5G Use Cases from from a September 2016 ITU presentation:

Arthur D. Little has written a report called “5G deployment models are crystallizing” in which it makes the case that telcos need to find use cases now, if not to reap the benefits of being early to market then as a defensive measure. Where in the past only other telcos had the wherewithal to roll out a new generation of wireless technology, ADL points out that that’s no longer true. Non-telecom players are moving into the 5G space, including Google, Facebook, Apple, Hitachi, Scania, NEC, Ericsson, and Comau. Government agencies and telecom operators expect broad “5G” availability in many markets by 2020, but again, that won’t be based on ITU-R ratified IMT 2020 standards.

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“5G is a reality,” said Kim Young-ky, president of Samsung’s networks business, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

South Korean technology giant Samsung, a fairly small player in the network equipment world, believes its knowledge making products and components could give it an edge with telecom customers seeking to sell connectivity to a wider range of devices.  Samsung’s network business generated some 2 trillion ($1.9 billion) to 2.5 trillion won in 2017, according to research firm Counterpoint Technology Market Research. It targets annual revenue of 10 trillion won by 2022, a Samsung spokesman said.

The average U.S. consumer uses about five gigabytes of mobile data a month, Mr. Kim said. But after 5G becomes more ubiquitous in the next few years, he believes consumers will eventually use closer to 100 gigabytes monthly on new services such as virtual or augmented reality programs—or even from driverless cars that will require greater data speeds to rapidly process traffic conditions.

About two years ago, Samsung combined about 1,000 workers from different divisions including handsets, network and its central research-and-development group, to create a “Next Generation Communications Business” team dedicated to 5G.

“With 5G, it’s going to be expanding beyond your phone,” Kim Woo-june, a senior vice president in Samsung’s network business, said in an interview. The industry’s first mobile phones with 5G capabilities aren’t likely to debut until 2019, he added.

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AT&T last month said it would launch a “5G” trial site in Texas, after tests in other markets. Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US Inc. have said they are working on nationwide “5G” networks, targeting late 2019 or 2020.

References:

https://news.samsung.com/us/verizon-5g-commercial-launch/

http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/platforms/samsung-gets-piece-verizon-s-5g-action/170867

https://www.wirelessweek.com/news/2018/01/verizon-partners-samsung-5g-fixed-wireless-launch

Related Articles on “5G” Deployments:

Verizon Exec: ‘Meaningful’ 5G Deployments to Start in 2018:
http://www.multichannel.com/news/finance/verizon-exec-meaningful-5g-deployments-start-2018/411354
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Verizon 5G to launch in Sacramento in 2018 | ZDNet
http://www.zdnet.com/article/verizon-5g-to-launch-in-sacramento-in-2018/
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Verizon Tips Launch of 5G-Based Residential Broadband Service

http://www.multichannel.com/news/finance/verizon-tips-launch-5g-based-residential-broadband-service/416824

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Verizon commits to residential fixed broadband as first 5G use case, but analysts call the plan “murky”

http://www.telecomtv.com/articles/5g/verizon-commits-to-residential-fixed-broadband-as-first-5g-use-case-but-analysts-call-the-plan-murky-16206/

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AT&T Targets 5G Rollouts in 2018 After 3GPP Standards Acceleration
https://www.wirelessweek.com/news/2017/03/t-targets-5g-rollouts-2018-after-3gpp-standards-acceleration
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AT&T Expects 5G in Late 2018 or Early ’19
http://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/atandt-expects-5g-in-late-2018-or-early-19/d/d-id/733953
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South Korea to launch first commercial 5G network in 2019
https://www.rcrwireless.com/20170525/5g/south-korea-launch-first-commercial-5g-network-2019

 

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