OpenRAN in 30% of Vodafone European network by 2030; Europe way behind China and South Korea in 5G deployments

Vodafone will use OpenRAN technology in 30% of its masts across Europe by 2030, said Johan Wibergh, Vodafone Group Chief Technology Officer, in a speech at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2022 in Barcelona.

Around 30,000 Vodafone cell sites across Europe will eventually use OpenRAN, he said, with rural areas the first to benefit from the new 4G and 5G masts that use the more flexible radio technology.

When the roll-out reaches cities, the equipment from any existing 5G masts being replaced will then be reused elsewhere to reduce unnecessary wastage, he said.

Vodafone has been one of the key drivers behind the development and use of OpenRAN, building one of the first-ever live OpenRAN masts in Wales. This was followed by the construction of OpenRAN masts in Cornwall, as well as the UK’s first 5G OpenRAN site.

At MWC 2022, Vodafone announced new smartphone sustainability initiatives, as well as the trial of new Internet of Things technology to enable cars to pay automatically for their own refueling.


Earlier this week, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read addressed MWC 2022 attendees in a keynote speech, highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing the mobile industry.  Among them are the following:

Europe needs to be digital to remain globally competitive and maintain its leadership role in key sectors such as automotive, aerospace, defence, and agriculture. The regions that have 5G first, will be the regions that innovate fastest.

Yet, at current rates, it will take until at least the end of the decade, for Europe to match the transformational “full 5G experience” that China will already have achieved this yearIf we look at 5G population coverage around the world – South Korea is over 90%, China 60%, USA 45%, and Europe under 10% – and with Africa hardly even at the starting line. Europe will only catch up if we reverse the ill-health and hyper-fragmentation of our sector. We must have local scale to close the investment gap.  Otherwise, we will be the passive by-stander of the new tech order.

Local scale is needed to close the investment gap and ensure we can deploy 5G at pace. Regional scale is needed to close the digitalisation gap. The combination of local and regional scale ensures our economies and societies can enjoy the full benefits of digital innovation and industrialisation.

We have all seen the impact of global digital platforms. Platforms that change the way we conduct our daily lives. Vodafone continues to invest in regional platforms – let me just give you a few examples. In Europe we created our IoT platform which connects more than 140m devices, across 180 countries. The SIM based IoT market has tripled in the last five years, – and in the next 5 years, will hit 5bn connections. 62% of Europe’s leading automotive brands rely on Vodafone IOT. And with that scale, we are able to evolve from the “Internet of Things” to the “Economy of Things.”


Cincinnati Bell rebrands as Altafiber after takeover by Macquarie Infrastructure

Consistent with the strong fiber build-out megatrend, Cincinnati Bell [1.] said it will now be doing business in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana under the new Altafiber brand. With its takeover by Macquarie Infrastructure now complete, the company will continue to put attention on expanding its geographic reach and investing into its broadband network. Cincinnati Bell will transition to the Altafiber brand over the next 6-9 months. The change will not impact Hawaiian Telcom and the IT services business, branded as CBTS.

Note 1.  Cincinnati Bell was founded in 1873 as the City and Suburban Telegraph Association and later called the Cincinnati and Suburban Bell Telephone Company starting in 1903.

“The investment in fiber, our geographic expansion, and our partnership with Macquarie mark a clear inflection point for the company. And it’s all incredibly exciting and positive for our employees and for the communities and customers that we serve,” said Leigh Fox, President and CEO of altafiber.

“The word ‘alta’ is rooted in a word that means elevated, and that’s what altafiber is doing: We’re providing an elevated connection through fiber and raising the standard of service to our customers and the communities,” the company said. Cincinnati Bell said the new Altafiber brand and mission statement embodies the company’s tagline, “Connecting What Matters,” while capturing its transformation into a fiber optic based carrier positioned to support customers over the next 150 years.

As the leading supplier of fibre services in Greater Cincinnati, Altafiber has invested over USD 1 billion into the fiber optic network and now offers Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) connectivity to 60 percent of all locations in the area. The idea is to provide the services to all of the addresses in the area over the next fibre years.

Altafiber will also bring fiber beyond its traditional operating area through partnerships with Greene County in Ohio, and City of Greendale, Indiana. Altafiber has established a regional headquarter in the Dayton market, including a retail store and business office in the city.

Fox noted that the he company’s commitment to the community, its customers, and leadership continues:

• Commitment to the community. altafiber and its employees will continue to support community initiatives – particularly those that provide increased access to education, employment, and healthcare opportunities – and increase investments into sustainability, safety, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

•Commitment to customers. altafiber will continue to provide customers with the same great service they have come to expect from the company.

• Leadership. The current executive team will continue to lead the company. altafiber will also honor its legacy through the recently launched “Bell Charitable Foundation,” an exciting new platform for corporate giving that will allow the company to more strategically support
organizations that are focused on Economic, Environmental, Social, Technology, and Health & Wellbeing initiatives.

“We are proud of the Cincinnati Bell name, and it will always be a part of our history,” said Fox. “We are still the local hometown company, with 2,000 employees across Greater Cincinnati who are dedicated to connecting our customers with what matters most through technology for the next 150 years,” Fox said.

About altafiber:

Cincinnati Bell is now doing business as “altafiber” in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. The Company delivers integrated communications solutions to residential and business customers over its fiber-optic network including high-speed internet, video, voice and data. The Company also provides service in Hawai’i under the brand Hawaiian Telcom. In addition, the Company’s enterprise customers across the United States and Canada rely on CBTS and OnX, wholly-owned subsidiaries, for efficient, scalable office communications systems and end-to-end IT solutions.


Qualcomm FastConnect 7800 combining WiFi 7 and Bluetooth in single chip

Qualcomm Technologies has announced its first Wi-Fi 7 chip, the FastConnect 7800. Bundling the latest Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11) and Bluetooth specifications, the new chip is sampling already and expected to be available for commercial products in the second half of 2022. Qualcomm said this should be the first Wi-Fi 7 chip to launch commercially, pending the start of certification of Wi-Fi 7 products.

Wi-Fi 7, also known as IEEE 802.11be, is still in development so has not yet been approved as an IEEE standard. It includes features like 4k QAM, 320MHz channel bandwidth, and multi-link capabilities. Though, as with every standard, implementation is where truly differentiated performance is achieved. For example, multi-link can be implemented with simultaneous links or alternating links. Further, one of those links may be implemented using the narrow and congested 2.4GHz band (which could otherwise be reserved for Bluetooth or IoT devices). Design choices such as these will dictate how well your next devices will be able to harness Wi-Fi 7 speed and latency benefits, so Qualcomm Technologies’ approach is to offer a flexible solution that will include all the options.

Qualcomm said it expects the WiFi 7 system to deliver peak speeds up to 5.8Gbps, via single 320MHz or paired 160MHz channels, falling to 4.3Gbps when the 6GHz band is not be available. Latency should be less than 2ms.

One of the key features of the new system is High Band Simultaneous (HBS) Multi-Link technology. This simultaneously leverages two Wi-Fi radios for four streams of high band connectivity in the 5GHz and/or 6GHz bands. These connections can deliver the highest throughput and lowest sustained latency, while reserving high-traffic 2.4GHz spectrum for Bluetooth and lower-bandwidth Wi-Fi applications.

In addition, the new chip extends 4-Stream Dual-Band Simultaneous (DBS) into the high bands. This builds on Qualcomm’s 4-Stream DBS (2×2 + 2×2) with 5 and/or 6GHz Wi-Fi links used in concert for extreme low latency performance between access point and client or independently for multi-client scenarios. For instance, a mobile device connecting to a Wi-Fi 6/6E access point (for 2×2 backhaul in high band spectrum) can concurrently connect to an XR headset (for 2×2 fronthaul also in high band spectrum), free from the low bandwidth and congestion of the 2.4GHz band.

Qualcomm also promises high-quality Bluetooth audio with the new chip, which includes support for Snapdragon Sound. Its Intelligent Dual Bluetooth offers two radios with enhanced connections, enabling Bluetooth accessories to work up to twice the range, to pair in half the time, and speed up changing a Bluetooth connection between devices, according to the company.

Special attention was given to ensure that FastConnect 7800 maintains compatibility with all prior generation devices. Whatever generation of Wi-Fi or Bluetooth being used, FastConnect 7800 is built to provide the best connectivity. Sampling is already underway, with commercial availability rolling out in the second half of 2022.

At the launch at MWC, several companies including Honor, Meta, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo said they plan to use the new chip in future products.


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