“SMART” undersea cable to connect New Caledonia and Vanuatu in the southwest Pacific Ocean

A new kind of multi-purpose “SMART” undersea cable is scheduled to connect New Caledonia (landing on Lifou Island, Loyalty Islands group) and Vanuatu (Port Vila) by 2026, a telecom joint venture has announced.  The project ‘s partnership is between Vanuatu-based telecom and infrastructure company Prima and cable laying specialist Alcatel Submarine Networks, the two partners said in a release earlier this month.  Other parties supporting the project are the government of Vanuatu, New Caledonia’s telecom company OPT (Office des Postes et Télécommunications) and the French government.

Described as a “world first,” the cable would provide telecommunications, but is also equipped with built-in “Climate Change Nodes”, sensors designed to feedback real-time data for tsunami and earthquakes monitoring.  The “SMART” cable (for Science Monitoring And Reliable Telecommunications) is said to “symbolize the strength of international collaboration in addressing global challenges…merging telecommunications with environmental monitoring technologies…will substantially enhance the safety, connectivity, and scientific insight of the Pacific region.”

Vanuatu-New Caledonia first SMART cable system. Photo: Image Courtesy of ASN

The signing ceremony between partners took place during the recent Pacific Telecoms Council Meeting in Hawaii late January.   The Pacific Peering website describes the project as follows:

“As part of the TAM TAM project, Pacific Peering will integrate the installation of a SMART cable between Port-Vila (Vanuatu) and Lifou (New Caledonia). This first world use of this technology in the New Hebrides fault will allow the study of a sensitive seismic zone and better protection of the 650,000 inhabitants directly exposed to the risks of tsunami and earthquakes. The data will be accessible without a license by the scientific community and civil protection.  The data will be hosted in a data center in New Caledonia meeting the latest security and connection standards (redundancy, latency). This system of sensors integrated into telecommunications cables makes it possible to pool installation costs and thus reduce the CAPEX and OPEX of the seabed observation system. Our objective is to have all submarine cables equipped by 2030.”

“This groundbreaking project is set to provide not only a supplementary telecom cable to New Caledonia, extending to Australia and Fiji, but also a vital component in environmental monitoring. This innovative technology promises to revolutionize warning systems throughout the Pacific, enhancing security and preparedness against natural disasters,” the partners said.




Telstra International partners with: Trans Pacific Networks to build Echo cable; Google and APTelecom for central Pacific Connect cables

Orange Deploys Infinera’s GX Series to Power AMITIE Subsea Cable

NEC completes Patara-2 subsea cable system in Indonesia

SEACOM telecom services now on Equiano subsea cable surrounding Africa

China seeks to control Asian subsea cable systems; SJC2 delayed, Apricot and Echo avoid South China Sea

China plans $500 million subsea internet cable to rival US-backed project


Japan telecoms are launching satellite-to-phone services

Japanese telecom carriers are rushing to launch communication services that directly connect smartphones to satellites.  In recent years, global telecom carrier interest in non-terrestrial networks, such as space-based services, has grown.  Such network services not only allow for expanded coverage to places that would otherwise be difficult to reach, but also are expected to be used in natural disasters. After the January 2023 Noto Peninsula Earthquake in Japan, SpaceX owned Starlink satellite internet service was used for emergency restoration of base stations and to provide internet at disaster shelters.

  • Rakuten Mobile Inc. announced Friday that it will start offering a satellite-to-smartphone service that can also be used to make voice calls as early as 2026. The service is expected to provide a connection anywhere in the country, including in mountainous regions and areas offshore, where it is difficult to build base stations. It could prove useful in a natural disaster.
  • KDDI Corp. also plans to launch a satellite-to-smartphone service for text messaging.  Such satellite-based services do not require a dedicated receiver, and can be accessed with just a smartphone.

For the Rakuten Mobile service, the company will use satellites from AST SpaceMobile Inc., a U.S. startup that has been invested in by the Rakuten Group.

Hiroshi Mikitani, left, chairman of Rakuten Mobile Inc., and Abel Avellan, chairman and CEO of AST SpaceMobile Inc., shake hands in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, on Friday.  Image credit: The Yomiuri Shimbun


AST SpaceMobile has launched two test satellites into low-earth orbit at an altitude of about 500 kilometers. Because these satellites orbit lower than geostationary satellites, they can provide communications with less delay. The company plans to have as many as 90 satellites operating in the future.

At a press conference on Friday, Rakuten Mobile Chairman Hiroshi Mikitani said, “Our customers will be able to enjoy mobile connectivity across Japan, even offshore or on an airplane.”

KDDI, which has gotten out ahead by providing access to Starlink, a satellite-based communication network from U.S. company SpaceX, will launch its text messaging service as early as this year.

Starlink currently requires a dedicated terminal, but last month SpaceX  successfully launched six satellites that allow smartphones to connect to them directly.

NTT Docomo Inc. and SoftBank Corp. are looking to commercialize high-altitude platform stations, or HAPS. These stations are large unmanned aircraft that stay in the air at an altitude of about 20 kilometers, from where they send out radio signals.

NTT Docomo is currently testing direct links between HAPS and smartphones, and expects to launch a HAPS mobile service in fiscal 2025.  However, a framework for space- and air-based services is still being defined.

The frequency bands to be used for the services are expected to be discussed at an international conference, and the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry is considering technical requirements.


Japan Telecoms Rush to Launch Satellite-to-phone Services; Starlink Used for Emergency Internet in Noto

SpaceX launches first set of Starlink satellites with direct-to-cell capabilities

Starlink Direct to Cell service (via Entel) is coming to Chile and Peru be end of 2024

KDDI Partners With SpaceX to Bring Satellite-to-Cellular Service to Japan

Telstra partners with Starlink for home phone service and LEO satellite broadband services

SpaceX has majority of all satellites in orbit; Starlink achieves cash-flow breakeven

Starlink’s Direct to Cell service for existing LTE phones “wherever you can see the sky”

AST SpaceMobile: “5G” Connectivity from Space to Everyday Smartphones



Telstra achieves 340 Mbps uplink over 5G SA; Deploys dynamic network slicing from Ericsson

Australian telco Telstra announced this week that it has achieved a 5G uplink speed of 350 Mbps over 5G Standalone (SA) using sub-6 GHz frequencies in a live commercial network in partnership with Ericsson and Qualcomm. Telstra claims this as a new global record for 5G uplink speed, which is 100 times faster than the average 3G uplink speed.

Telstra’s new 5G SA uplink capability combines its mid-band spectrum holdings to create a 140MHz channel for sending data from the device to the network.

Sri Amirthalingam, Telstra Executive for Global Networks and Technology, says: “This is a major milestone for Telstra and its customers. We are proud to be the first in the world to deliver this cutting-edge 5G uplink capability, which will give our customers an enhanced experience when sharing their content while they are out and about.”

The tests were completed using a mobile test device powered by Qualcomm Technologies’ latest Snapdragon® 5G modem-RF System and an existing in-market NetGear Nighthawk M6 Pro Mobile Broadband device in the live commercial network on the Gold Coast.

The latest software from Ericsson brings together different combinations of frequency ranges and types to enable a single 5G uplink and downlink data channel.

By aggregating carrier bands, it considerably increases the uplink speeds, while the ability to use low band carriers in these combinations of frequencies delivers improved coverage and performance enhancements for the 5G SA Network.

Mr Amirthalingam says: “The uplink and downlink 5G data channels work together to provide a seamless and almost symmetrical like 5G service, meeting the increasing demand for data-intensive applications such as augmented and virtual reality, or sharing photos and memorable movie moments with friends.

“The technology also includes advanced features in the base station that can prioritise different types of data and applications and can support future differentiated services, like network slicing.”

“On top of this, Telstra also has the option to use the n5 (850MHz) carrier that is currently serving its 3G Network. “

“Our latest 5G Standalone uplink speed achievement is 100 times faster than the typical 3G uplink speed, which is great news for customers. Enterprise Applications such as these are increasingly becoming more uplink heavy with things like such as high-definition video surveillance cameras and the faster speeds and coverage will all provide a much better experience.”

“The ability to use low band frequencies and repurpose our 3G low band 850 MHz frequency to deliver 5G SA coverage when the 3G network closes on 30 June 2024, has the benefit of providing improved depth of coverage and enhancing the 5G experience for customers.”

“It’s a further example of how we are leading the way in 5G innovation and investment, and how we are committed to delivering the best and most advanced network for Australia.”

To test and validate this capability, Telstra worked with long-term partners Ericsson, the global leader in 5G network equipment, and Qualcomm, one of the world’s leading wireless chipset companies.

Emilio Romeo, Head of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, says: “Ericsson’s latest software features enables Telstra to capitalize the full spectrum portfolio for a wider coverage whilst providing far superior data rates. Customers will be empowered to explore new experiences offered with 5G Standalone such as differentiated services and a range of applications, which will in turn drive network monetization.”

Durga Malladi, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Technology Planning & Edge Solutions Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., says: This live test proves that uplink carrier aggregation on 5G Standalone network has the potential to significantly increase upload speeds and capacity, thus unlocking new experiences for consumers.”

This latest achievement takes Telstra’s World-First count to 53 since the launch of 3G.  It is only through its collaboration efforts with industry and its strategic partners, like Ericsson and Qualcomm, that it can deliver the technology innovation and leadership that its customers can benefit from.


Telstra has also implemented Ericsson’s Dynamic Network Slicing software for automated network orchestration. This software gives the operator a fully automated and monetizable network slicing orchestration capability to sell slicing services to enterprise customers. 






Telstra’s T25 to extend 5G coverage and offer enhanced customer experiences

Telstra wins most lots in Australia’s 5G mmWave auction

NGMN issues ITU-R framework for IMT-2030 vs ITU-R WP5D Timeline for RIT/SRIT Standardization

The NGMN Alliance has issued the “ITU-R Framework for IMT-2030: Review and Future Direction.” In this essential publication, NGMN welcomes the recent ITU-R report on the ‘Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2030 and beyond.’ This ITU-R report ( Recommendation ITU-R M. 2160) sets an important framework for future technology discussions towards 6G.

“Our publication underlines the importance of investment confidence for operators in order to deliver tangible value to customers while ensuring the commercial sustainability of current and future networks,” said Luke Ibbetson, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and Head of Group R&D at Vodafone. “The capabilities identified for IMT-2030 should be able to be deployed as and when required, without compromising existing core connectivity services, and reflect a customer need that generates new value.”

There is close alignment between NGMN’s vision for 6G and the IMT-2030 framework. This close alignment covers vision, usage scenarios and essential capabilities, particularly related to practical and sustainable deployment and emphasizing harmonised global standards for mobile networks. NGMN goes on to provide recommendations and guidance on ITU-R aspects as it moves forward in the next stage of the IMT-2030 process, including:

  • New features should be able to be deployed as and when required, without compromising existing core connectivity services, which reflect customer needs and generate new values.
  • Evaluation should include interworking of IMT-2030 candidates with non-IMT systems.
  • Reinforcement of the importance of global standards for mobile networks within industry consensus-based standards organisations (e.g., 3GPP).
  • Consideration that advanced features introduced with the IMT-2020 network and/or a new radio interface might be candidates for IMT-2030.
  • Any new radio interface must demonstrate significant benefits over and above IMT-2020 in key metrics such as spectral and/or energy efficiency, overall energy consumption reduction and/or cost advantages.
  • Further work would be beneficial, as input to the process and next steps, to understand the commercial imperative for any extreme requirements of IMT-2030.
  • IMT-2030 should continue to evolve based on IP communications, considering cloud native solutions, disaggregation, and service-based architecture, ensuring both forward and backward compatibility. Support for self-organisation to manage complexity and emerging capabilities.

“This publication provides a realistic evaluation of IMT-2030 technologies”, said Michael Irizarry, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Engineering and Information Technology, UScellular. “For a new IMT-2030 radio technology to become widely adopted for 6G, it must demonstrate significant benefits across key metrics such as energy efficiency, traffic capacity and cost reduction”.

“We at NGMN look forward to collaborative efforts with the ITU-R and subsequent phases of activity to shape the future of IMT-2030,” said Madam Yuhong Huang, Member of the NGMN Alliance Board and General Manager China Mobile Research Institute. She added, “We hope the industry will prioritize the development needs outlined by NGMN on behalf of its operator members and actively participate in 6G research, contributing novel technologies, unlocking innovative business opportunities, and enabling the sustainable development of the society for the benefit of our customers.” 

Following the NGMN publications “6G Position Statement, an Operator View”, “6G Use Cases and Analysis”, “6G Drivers and Vision” and “6G Requirements and Design Considerations”, this latest publication “Analysis of ITU-R Framework for IMT-2030” marks the next step towards guidance for E2E requirements for 6G.

The publication can be downloaded here.

About NGMN Alliance:

The NGMN Alliance (NGMN) is a forum founded by world-leading Mobile Network Operators and open to all Partners in the mobile industry. Its goal is to ensure that next generation network infrastructure, service platforms and devices will meet the requirements of operators and ultimately will satisfy end user demand and expectations. The vision of NGMN is to provide impactful industry guidance to achieve innovative, sustainable and affordable mobile telecommunication services for the end user with a particular focus on Mastering the Route to Disaggregation / Operating Disaggregated Networks, Green Future Networks and 6G, whilst continuing to support 5G’s full implementation.

NGMN seeks to incorporate the views of all interested stakeholders in the telecommunications industry and is open to three categories of participants/NGMN Partners: Mobile Network Operators (Members), vendors, software companies and other industry players (Contributors), as well as research institutes (Advisors).

Collaboration is key to driving the industry’s most important subjects such as NGMN’s Strategic Focus Topics: Mastering the Route to Disaggregation, Green Future Networks and 6G.  NGMN invites all parties across the entire value chain to join the Alliance in these important endeavors.


At its February 2024 meeting, ITU-R WP 5D produced a working document on the IMT-2030 process for standardization.  The document describes the process and activities identified for the development of the IMT‑2030 terrestrial components radio interface Recommendations.

The time schedule for candidate RITs (Radio Interface Technologies) or SRITs (Set of Radio Interface Technologies is as follows:

Submission of proposals may begin at 54th meeting of Working Party (WP) 5D (currently planned to be 10-17 February 2027) and contribution to the meeting needs to be submitted by 1600 hours UTC, 12 calendar days prior to the start of the meeting.

The final deadline for submissions is 1600 hours Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), 12 calendar days prior to the start of the 59th meeting of WP 5D in February 2029. The evaluation of the proposed RITs and SRITs by the independent evaluation groups and the consensus-building process will be performed throughout this time period and thereafter.


Editor’s Note:  Don’t expect ITU-R M.[IMT-2030.SPECS] recommendation to be approved before sometime in 2031. The detailed specifications of each of IMT-2030 technology is scheduled for completion at ITU-R WP5D meeting #63 in June 2030.  Draft revisions/spec updates are scheduled to be completed at 5D meeting #64 in October 2030.

Just as with 5G/IMT-2020, IMT-2030.SPECS will only cover the 6G RIT/SRIT (radio interfaces).  3GPP will do all the work on the 6G non-radio/systems aspects.


The seven steps in the IMT-2030 standardization process is shown in this Figure:




NGMN publishes ITU-R Framework for IMT-2030: Review and Future Direction


Recommendation ITU-R M. 2160

Draft new ITU-R recommendation (not yet approved): M.[IMT.FRAMEWORK FOR 2030 AND BEYOND]

IEEE 5G/6G Innovation Testbed for developers, researchers and entrepreneurs

WRC-23 concludes with decisions on low-band/mid-band spectrum and 6G (?)

IMT-2030 Technical Performance Requirements (TPR) from ITU-R WP5D

6th Digital China Summit: China to expand its 5G network; 6G R&D via the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group

IMT Vision – Framework and overall objectives of the future development of IMT for 2030 and beyond


Building and Operating a Cloud Native 5G SA Core Network

By Ajay Thakur with Alan J Weissberger


In this article, we endeavor to clarify some of the critical issues and questions related to implementing a cloud native 5G SA core network and how it differs from the traditional core network composed of hardware devices and software solutions. It’s important to note that NONE of the 3GPP defined 5G features can be realized without a 5G SA core. Those include: Network Automation, Network Function Virtualization, 5G Security, Network Slicing, Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC), Policy Control, Network Data Analytics, etc.

Communication Service Providers (CSPs) will need to do things differently (than 4G) in order to implement and use a 5G cloud native SA core. Various cloud native 5G SA core aspects include network planning, deployment, software upgrades, network monitoring, hardware and platform upgrades.

These will be examined and contrasted with traditional implementations, such as the 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC).


3GPP introduced 5G SA core network architecture in release 15. Since then numerous new features (work items) have been introduced to specifications. 3GPP’s 5G SA’s specifications use virtualization and cloud native principles as the foundation. A few key 3GPP Technical Specifications (TSs) for 5G system are the following:

  • TS 22.261, “Service requirements for the 5G system”.
  • TS 23.501, “System architecture for the 5G System (5GS)”
  • TS 23.502 “Procedures for the 5G System (5GS)
  • TS 32.240 “Charging management; Charging architecture and principles”.
  • TS 24.501 “Non-Access-Stratum (NAS) protocol for 5G System (5GS); Stage 3”
  • TS 38.300 “NR; NR and NG-RAN Overall description; Stage-2”
  • TS 23.527 “5G System; Restoration procedures Stage-2”

5G SA tries to resolve the challenges faced by network operators in the EPC deployments and how those challenges can be mitigated with new design.

Several important changes in the 5G SA core are support for a Service Based Architecture and Cloud Native implementation of 5G SA core. That will enable new 5G features and functions like Network Slicing, 5G Security, and MEC, among others.

To reap the benefits of Cloud Native SA, CSPs are required to adapt to new cloud native principles of network deployment, operation and monitoring. We shall examine various aspects of Life Cycle Management of 5G SA software and also ask some open ended questions on each aspect.

SBA architecture Diagram with multiple Interfaces:

  • The Network diagram above shows the SBI interfaces in case of roaming. Each of the individual NF may be composed of one more micro-services. Each NF may come from different vendor. Since these NFs are available in containerized format, they may or may not share the same container orchestration platform.

Network Dimensioning:

  • 5G SA solves the network expansion problem since the network can be scaled up/down by adding/removing commercial off the shelf hardware.
  • Once we have all the NFs software releases available, operators can gather the compute, memory & network requirements for deployment.
  • Operators would rely on auto scaling functionality provided by the 5G NF vendors to avoid over provisioning at the start. This is relatively much simpler compared to adding dedicated hardware for NF in case of EPC.

Deployment Options Selection/Planning

  • Operators need to decide the type of deployment for the network like the 5G SA deployment on public cloud or on private cloud.
  • Along with Public vs Private cloud decisions, the Operator also needs to decide on a Container orchestration engine. Container orchestration can be managed service or operator managed service. Popular container orchestration engine is Kubernetes (K8s).
  • Next step would be to finalize or select one of the CI/CD tools which works for all the vendors and integrate that with the container orchestration platform.
  • Also placement of the NFs needs to be decided, e.g. User Plane Function (UPF) could be on-prem close to RAN. It’s possible that the operator may place some of the RAN virtualized components in the cloud.
  • These all are important decisions to be made before getting into the real deployment of the software.
  • Some of the aspects here are due to Cloud Native 5G SA and were not applicable for EPC.


  • It can be seen from the CNCF project that there are many projects which are available for CI/CD
  • Irrespective of Public or Private cloud, operators need to follow cloud native CI/CD principles for deploying the Core Network in the Cloud environment. CI/CD involves taking the software release from the vendor and running it against existing network functions and carrying out some minimum tests and once operator is satisfied with evaluation of the release then rollout the release in the network.
  • Operators can decide to have a separate staging environments where new releases can soak for a certain period of time while few subscribers use the new release.
  • CI/CD gives the option of rolling back the release if the operator is not happy with the performance of the new release.
  • Now the challenge here would be, will the operator have single CI/CD tools used for deploying all the vendors’ solution OR would the operator use its own CI/CD tooling and integrate NFs from vendor it in its own environment. This is the decision the operator needs to take.
  • Having Automated CI/CD infrastructure which takes the software releases from the vendors and passes it through multiple environments and all the way to the production environment is key.
  • Without having an appropriate CI/CD environment it would be very difficult to manage all micro-services and their deployments.
  • Public Cloud may come with inbuilt CI/CD solutions and would be easy for operators to start with.
  • AWS offers multiple services around CI/CD and those are listed here – https://docs.aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/latest/cicd_for_5g_networks_on_aws/cicd-on-aws.html
  • Azure offering can be found here https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/devops/pipelines/apps/cd/azure/cicd-data-overview?view=azure-devops
  • Google Cloud CI/CD services can be found here – https://cloud.google.com/solutions/continuous-integration

Software Upgrade:

  • Cloud Native 5G SA allows operator to upgrade some of the components easily instead of complete 5G Core update in one go. CI/CD framework would help in the software upgrades with minimal human intervention.
  • Note that with Cloud Native principles the operator would get multiple patch/minor releases and may be some major releases throughout the life cycle of the software. So the traditional approach of pulling down complete hardware & upgrading it with new software is not required for microservice based solutions. But this really works as long as all microservices are truly built stateless and supports live upgrade.
  • As an operator, it would be required to know the impact of each upgrade package and prepare for rollback in case something goes wrong during the upgrade cycle.

Network Monitoring:

  • Traditionally, operators developed their own Network Monitoring solutions to monitor the health of EPC since there was no standard mechanism to get the metrics, statistics from the NFs,
  • 5G SA follows Cloud Native principles; it is easy to get the logs, statistics, alerts, alarms from all microservices in a consistent manner. There are common tooling used by most of the cloud native applications and CNCF has multiple projects in these categories.
  • CNCF supported Monitoring projects are shown below figure

    • Tracing is important aspect to find out the bottleneck in the performance.


  • Logging has been a traditional approach for debugging network issues. Below are the projects offered by CNCF in the logging area

  • Public Cloud providers can extend the monitoring easily by generating Texts or email alerts as per CSPs needs.
  • Operators can define their policies to retain the network performance monitoring output for a long time and can take backup of this easily through use of Public Cloud Providers data backup services.
  • In the case of EPC these mechanisms were product dependent.
  • Challenge in case of 5G SA would be each NF vendor may end up in using different tool and operators would have some challenges to converge all NF vendors to the common tooling.

Hardware & platform upgrade:

  • In the traditional approach, providing hardware with updated operating systems and platforms was the responsibility of the equipment vendor. Now this responsibility has gone into either operator’s hand or sometimes in Public Cloud Provider’s hand. It depends on if the 5G SA is deployed on on-prem or on public cloud. Operators need to carefully plan for these upgrades without causing any downtime and of course follow the rolling upgrade patterns to avoid updating multiple entities at a time.
  • If managed container orchestration is used, then these upgrades are seamlessly handled by Public Cloud Providers.

Vendor Lock In:

  • In the case of EPC, vendor lock in was specific to NF & Radio Vendors. The 3GPP EPC specification allows the operators to swap NFs from one vendor with another and as long as NF supports the required Services. Point to note that this is less costly replacement compared to replacing one vendor with another vendor when NF had associated hardware.
  • But with cloud native SA there is a chance that the operator may end up in building the tooling (CI/CD, monitoring etc.) over the period of time and this may lead to cloud provider lock in.


The 5G SA core network provides a lot of flexibility and automation via cloud native deployments. However, the 3GPP 5G core specs contain a lot of implementation options, which network operators and their vendors must select to properly deploy a 5G core network. Making those decisions will likely require solid experience with operating applications on a cloud native platform. And that may be a reason that 5G SA core network rollouts have been so slow.

In the U.S. AT&T and Verizon have taken a very cautious approach to deploying their long ago promised 5G SA core networks. During the Brooklyn 6G Summit in November 2023, Chris Sambar, EVP for technology at AT&T said, ““I would say we are not moving as quickly as some of the other operators on the 5G standalone core, but we see the use cases that are coming, we understand when they’re coming, so we’re being very purposeful about getting there when we need to get there.” That’s despite AT&T outsourcing its 5G SA core network deployment to Microsoft Azure in June 2021. Yet Microsoft is the world’s second biggest cloud services provider with tons of experience running cloud native applications.

Summing up, Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group wrote, “The buildout of 5G SA networks is going slower than anticipated which is restraining growth in the marketplace. To date, we count fifty 5G SA eMBB (enhanced Mobile BroadBand) networks that have been commercially deployed worldwide by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). We counted 18 new 5G SA networks in 2022, but only 12 were launched in 2023. On a positive note, we believe a lot of work has been done in the background, preparing for 5G SA launches by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and we expect 2024 to have more launches than 2022.”


Ajay Lotan Thakur,  Cloud Software Architect at Intel and IEEE Techblog Editorial Team member








Global 5G Market Snapshot; Dell’Oro and GSA Updates on 5G SA networks and devices

Ericsson Mobility Report touts “5G SA opportunities”

Analysys Mason: 40 operational 5G SA networks worldwide; Sub-Sahara Africa dominates new launches

Samsung and VMware Collaborate to Advance 5G SA Core & Telco Cloud

5G SA networks (real 5G) remain conspicuous by their absence

GSM 5G-Market Snapshot Highlights – July 2023 (includes 5G SA status)



BT Group, Ericsson and Qualcomm demo network slicing on 5G SA core network in UK

Years after 5G network slicing was hyped to the sky (see References below dating from 2028), BT Group, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. have successfully demonstrated end-to-end consumer and enterprise 5G differentiated connectivity enabled by 5G network slicing on Ericsson’s 5G Core and Radio Access Network technology in the UK with devices powered by the Snapdragon ® 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Mobile Platform.

The trial, which took place at Adastral Park, BT Group’s home of research and innovation, established network slices for Gaming, Enterprise and Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB), and showed how, by allocating a portion of the 5G SA network to provide dynamic partitions for specific use-cases, optimal performance can be maintained for bandwidth-heavy activities including mobile gaming and video conferencing even during peak times.

Mobile gaming is experiencing relentless growth, with traffic on EE’s network almost doubling since the beginning of 2023 to more than two petabytes of data every month. With consistent low-latency, jitter-free and immersive experiences increasingly essential to the gaming experience, network slicing is expected to be a key enabler of performance and growth in the 5G SA era.

Together, BT Group, Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies demonstrated an optimal mobile cloud gaming experience on Nvidia’s GeForce Now, maintaining a throughput comfortably in excess of the recommended 25 Mbps at 1080p even when a background load was generated. The companies initiated a gaming session on Fortnite using the Samsung S23 Ultra device, equipped with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy Mobile Platform, and Ericsson implemented Network slicing along with the Ericsson RAN feature Radio Resource Partitioning on EE’s Network to achieve a smooth experience. The experience was simultaneously compared to a non-optimised eMBB RAN partition, which was congested by the background load, resulting in a less than optimal gaming experience.

The trial also validated the potential of network slicing for BT Group’s business customers. Using the enterprise and eMBB slices, configured via URSP rules which enables a device to connect to multiple network slices simultaneously depending on the application, it demonstrated consistent 4K video streaming and enterprise use-cases using the Samsung S23 Ultra device, powered by Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. Enterprise communications platforms and video applications such as YouTube require a stable connection and low jitter to work well. The Ericsson 5G RAN Slicing feature, Radio Resource Partitioning, was enabled to ensure the enterprise traffic to achieve an optimal experience.

5G network slicing requires a 5G SA core network.  It supports these diverse services and reassigns resources as needed from one virtual network slice to another, making the one-size-fits-all approach to service delivery obsolete.

Image courtesy of Viavi

Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer, BT Group, said: “Network slicing will enable us to deliver new and improved capabilities for customers in the 5G SA era. As we work diligently towards the launch of our own 5G SA network, today’s successful demonstration of how slicing enables us to differentiate Quality of Service to guarantee performance for different segments is a significant milestone, and illustrative of the new services that will be enabled by 5G SA.”

Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President and President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA of Qualcomm Europe, Inc., said: “We are proud to collaborate with BT Group and Ericsson on the network slicing trial, which used a device powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy mobile platform. Together, we showcased the enhanced performance and flexibility 5G Standalone capabilities, such as network slicing, will bring to consumers and enterprise experiences.”

Katherine Ainley, CEO, Ericsson UK & Ireland, said: “5G standalone and network slicing demonstrates that leading operators like EE will be able to offer customers tailored connectivity with different requirements on speed, latency and reliability for specific applications, such as video streaming and gaming. This ultimate next step in connectivity will enable new service offerings for consumers and businesses who require premium performance, while helping to drive future market growth and innovation for the UK in a wide range of new industries.”



ABI Research: 5G Network Slicing Market Slows; T-Mobile says “it’s time to unleash Network Slicing”

Ericsson, Intel and Microsoft demo 5G network slicing on a Windows laptop in Sweden

Ericsson and Nokia demonstrate 5G Network Slicing on Google Pixel 6 Pro phones running Android 13 mobile OS

Samsung and KDDI complete SLA network slicing field trial on 5G SA network in Japan

Nokia and Safaricom complete Africa’s first Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) 5G network slicing trial

Is 5G network slicing dead before arrival? Replaced by private 5G?

5G Network Slicing Tutorial + Ericsson releases 5G RAN slicing software

Network Slicing and 5G: Why it’s important, ITU-T SG 13 work, related IEEE ComSoc paper abstracts/overviews




Finland’s Elisa, Ericsson and Qualcomm test uplink carrier aggregation on 5G SA network

With Ericsson and Qualcomm doing the “heavy lifting,” Finland network operator Elisa conducted a live test of uplink carrier aggregation (CA) on its commercial 5G standalone (SA) network.  Elisa operates commercial 5G SA networks, starting with its home market of Finland and following it up last year by deploying it in Estonia.

The three partners achieved an upload speed of 230 Mbps in a live 5G network using Uplink Carrier Aggregation. For this test, a 25MHz 2.6 GHz FDD (frequency division duplex) band was combined with a 100MHz 3.5 GHz TDD (time division duplex) band running on a mobile test device powered by Snapdragon® X75 5G Modem-RF System.

Ericsson’s Uplink Carrier Aggregation software combines mid-band FDD and mid-band TDD within the frequency range 1 (FR1), boosting speeds to enable uplink-heavy applications such as live streaming, broadcasts, cloud gaming, extended reality, and video-based use cases.

Uplink-heavy consumer applications on the rise:

According to Ericsson’s most recent Mobility Report, uplink accounted for a modest 8% of total traffic on a sample of four mobile networks analyzed. The applications that generated the largest volume of uplink traffic were personal cloud storage services, followed by comms services and video.

While 8% doesn’t seem like much, Ericsson emphasised that uplink volume is highly context dependent. For instance, there is likely to be more of it at a live event, like a concert or a sporting event, where users enthusiastically film and then share as much action as possible.

A growing amount of data traffic generated today is in the uplink, highlighting the need for new network capabilities to boost uplink speed and capacity and deliver seamless 5G user experience. For instance, concertgoers are recording and streaming videos live on their social media accounts. With fast uplink speeds, they can share their most exciting moments in real-time with friends and family without worrying about lags, congestion, or poor network quality.

In addition to Elisa, Vodafone has also been testing out uplink CA recently, as have DishBT and Telefónica.



Mårten Lerner, Head of Product Area Networks, Ericsson, says: “This latest technology milestone with our partners Elisa and Qualcomm Technologies unlocks high upload speeds in commercial 5G Standalone networks. With this game-changing software capability, we are enabling unparalleled user experience for applications such as live streaming, video conferencing, augmented reality/virtual reality and cloud gaming.”

Sami Rajamäki, Vice President, Network Services, Elisa, says: “We continue as a pioneer of 5G in Finland and develop our network services with our customers’ future needs in mind. The use of augmented reality and development towards metaverse will increase the demand for fast uplink connections. Therefore the top speeds achieved together with Ericsson and Qualcomm are an important step in the development of 5G Standalone network.”

Dino Flore, Vice President, Technology at Qualcomm Europe, Inc. says: “The uplink speed achieved with Elisa and Ericsson is a testament to the breakthrough performance of the Snapdragon X75 5G Modem-RF System. We are excited to see the innovative use cases Elisa can unlock for customers with their 5G Standalone network.”

Ericsson has a robust portfolio of software features that provide a boost in the uplink, and the feature deployed in this demo with Elisa and Qualcomm – FR1 Uplink Carrier Aggregation – became commercially available in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Visit the Ericsson booth in Hall 2 at MWC 2024 in Barcelona to see how a superior uplink performance is being enabled for use cases such as live streaming.




T-Mobile US, Ericsson, and Qualcomm test 5G carrier aggregation with 6 component carriers

Dish Wireless with Qualcomm Technologies and Samsung test simultaneous 5G 2x uplink and 4x downlink carrier aggregation

Ericsson and MediaTek set new 5G uplink speed record using Uplink Carrier Aggregation

BT tests 4CC Carrier Aggregation over a standalone 5G network using Nokia equipment


Telenor installs base station in Antarctica; reports strong growth in Q4 and full year 2023

Nordic network operator Telenor yesterday announced the opening of the world’s southernmost commercial base station in Antarctica, setting a new benchmark for connectivity in the harshest of environments. The Norwegian Polar Institute’s research station in Antarctica,

The base station has extended reach, connecting a vast area to the outside world with mobile connectivity.  The base station was put into operation in February. What makes this base station truly unique, aside from being the southernmost in the world, is that it’s operated from the world’s northernmost base station at Ny Ålesund which is located on the Svalbard archipelago (formerly known as Spitsbergen). Should the mobile signal fail, a satellite link from Troll to the KSAT-owned TrollSat satellite can also be used to provide wireless connectivity.

Head of Telenor Svalbard, Christian Skottun, emphasizes that a strong collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute is the foundation for establishing mobile coverage in Antarctica. “There has been a fruitful dialogue with the Norwegian Polar Institute regarding the possibilities offered by a base station in Antarctica. Telenor, with its presence in Svalbard, has extensive experience in building and operating mobile networks in Arctic regions. Mobile coverage is crucial for both Arctic poles. For research communities, the ability to utilize mobile IoT in gathering data from fieldwork is particularly attractive. Additionally, mobile coverage opens up new possibilities for research and environmental monitoring in the Antarctic oceanic area.”

The primary motivation behind this audacious project is to provide essential mobile coverage to the Norwegian Polar Institute’s research station, Troll, located in Antarctica. Troll serves as a hub for scientific exploration and environmental research, making reliable communication crucial for the success of ongoing projects and the safety of researchers working in the region.

This base station also provides a new dimension of safety as we now are able to offer mobile coverage in the area where the polar research station is located.

Telenor’s base station in Antarctica is claimed to be the world’s most southern commercial base station. (SOURCE: TELENOR)


“Mobile coverage is a step forward for technological development at Troll. In addition, it provides new opportunities for research and monitoring in Queen Maud Land,” says the Director of the Polar Institute, Camilla Brekke.

In addition to close collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute, Telenor Svalbard also collaborates with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), which is responsible for the communication service from the Troll station. KSAT owns and operates TrollSat, one of the world’s most important ground stations for collecting data from climate and environmental monitoring satellites, co-located with the research station at Troll. KSAT is responsible for transmitting satellite-based information from Troll to users worldwide.

“Full mobile coverage at Troll also helps our users and simplifies communication with the outside world. We are therefore pleased that the satellite link from Troll also can be used for mobile phone traffic,” says Rolf Skatteboe, CEO of KSAT.

Birgitte Engebretsen, CEO of Telenor Norway, is proud and delighted that Telenor has contributed to establishing mobile connectivity between the poles.

“Our societal mission includes providing technology that makes research work easier. We see that the emergence of our new technological solutions opens up new possibilities for research,” says Engebretsen.


Telenor today announced that it ended 2023 strongly with solid top-line growth and strong cash flow both in the fourth quarter and for the full year. Service revenues for the full year 2023 ended up at NOK 62.5 billion, corresponding to an organic increase of 4.0 per cent compared to last year. EBITDA ended at NOK 34.6 billion, corresponding to organic growth of 2.8 per cent compared to the year before. Total free cash flow amounted to NOK 15 billion.

Service revenues for the fourth quarter were NOK 16.1 billion, up 4.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. EBITDA ended at NOK 8.5 billion, corresponding to an organic increase of 3.9 per cent. Free cash flow for the quarter was NOK 4.9 billion before M&A.

“I am very pleased that we continue to deliver growth with new and better products to our customers, at the same time as customer surveys show that we have Norway’s best and fastest network,” says Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor. “The fourth quarter was yet another strong quarter for Telenor,” Brekke added.

Telenor Nordics and Telenor Asia delivered four and seven per cent growth in service revenues, respectively, in the final quarter of the year, while organic EBITDA growth ended at five and four per cent.

Fraud is on the rise. In the fourth quarter, Telenor stopped around 300 million attempts at digital crime against Norwegian customers, which is an increase of around 30 percent compared to the previous quarter.  In 2023, Telenor stopped 280 million fraud calls globally, out of which 31 million in Norway and 63 million in the Nordic region.

With artificial intelligence, criminal groups have gained access to a new toolbox that creates increased unpredictability. “Whether you’re an individual or a business owner, we are all targets. Therefore, we must adapt, be vigilant and take action to protect our digital lives and values”, says Brekke.

Telenor’s Financial outlook for 2024:

  • Low single-digit organic growth in Nordic service revenues.
  • Medium single-digit organic growth in both Nordic and Group EBITDA.
  • Nordic capex to sales ratio of around 17 per cent.
  • Free cash flow of between NOK 9-10 billion before M&A and potential items related to prior years’ activities.





Telenor expands cloud-based core network with AWS to deliver 5G and edge services for customers

Telenor Deploys 5G xHaul Transport Network from Cisco and NEC; xHaul & ITU-T G.8300 Explained

Telenor trial of multi-vendor 5G Standalone (SA) core network on vendor neutral platform

Telenor deploys first commercial 5G network in Norway


Juniper Research: Global 6G Connections to be 290M in 1st 2 years of service, but network interference problem looms large

A new study from Juniper Research, a leading telecommunications research firm, forecasts 290 million connections globally by 2030; the year after its initial expected launch in 2029 (this author doesn’t think standards for 6G will be completed by 2030). To achieve this early growth, the report cautions operators must solve various technological challenges, including the issue of network interference arising from the use of high-frequency spectrum.

This use of high-frequency spectrum in 6G will be the key enabling technology to provide throughput speeds 100 times greater than current 5G networks. However, as cellular technologies have never used spectrum bands in this range before, the most pressing concern for operators is minimizing this network interference, or risk creating an unreliable 6G network.

RIS Identified as Key Emerging 6G Technology:

To achieve this, the report urges operators to invest in RIS (Reconfigurable Intelligent Surfaces); a technology that will mitigate the impact of interference from large obstacles, including buildings, on network services. This is accomplished by purposefully reflecting and refracting 6G mobile signals to enable data packets to move around physical obstacles.

As 6G standards become clearer in 2025, RIS technology must become an immediate priority for development. However, the report warns that given the wide geographical areas of some 6G networks, operators must implement AI to monitor and adjust RIS configuration in real-time to maximize the technology’s benefits.

Research author Alex Webb remarked: “Initial 6G coverage will occur in the most densely populated geographical areas to serve as many users as possible. Therefore, RIS technology will be key to providing a valuable 6G service to both consumer and enterprise customers in the first few years of network operation.

In 2030, when Juniper Research expects 6G to reach 290 million connections, GSMA Intelligence predicts in its 2023 mobile economy report that 5G will have surpassed 5 billion connections.  We believe both of those forecasts are way off the mark.  In fact, we forecast ZERO 6G subscribers in 2030, because the ITU-R IMT 2030 radio standards and 3GPP 6G specs won’t be completed by then.

About the Research Suite:

The new research suite offers the most comprehensive assessment of 6G development to date, including insightful market analysis, and in-depth forecasts for 60 countries. The dataset contains almost 21,000 market statistics over a nine-year period.

Juniper Research has, for two decades, provided market intelligence and advisory services to the global telecommunications sector, and is retained by many of the world’s leading network operators and communications platforms.

Find out more about the new report: Global 6G Development 2024-2032, or download a free sample.


Global 6G Connections to Reach 290m in First Two Years of Service (juniperresearch.com)

Juniper Research: 5G to Account for 80% of Operator Revenue by 2027; 6G Requires Innovative Technologies

SK Telecom, Intel develop low-latency technology for 6G core network

Ericsson and IIT Kharagpur partner for joint research in AI and 6G

Nokia plans to investment €360 million in microelectronics & 5G Advanced/6G technology in Germany

IEEE 5G/6G Innovation Testbed for developers, researchers and entrepreneurs

WRC-23 concludes with decisions on low-band/mid-band spectrum and 6G (?)

ETSI Integrated Sensing and Communications ISG targets 6G

Ericsson’s India 6G Research Program at its Chennai R&D Center

Big 5G Conference: 6G spectrum sharing should learn from CBRS experiences

6th Digital China Summit: China to expand its 5G network; 6G R&D via the IMT-2030 (6G) Promotion Group

Dell’Oro: Broadband access equipment sales to increase in 2025 led by XGS-PON deployments

Dell’Oro Group expects broadband access equipment sales to decline by 1% in 2024 versus 2023, with the first half of 2024 seeing continued weakness followed by a surge in spending in the second half of the year. The first half of 2024 will continue to see some of the inventory corrections that marked a tough 2023 that saw a spending decline of 8% to 10%, according to Dell’Oro VP Jeff Heynen.

“Although the inventory corrections seen in 2023 will continue through the first half of 2024, the second half of the year is expected to be the turning point towards renewed growth,” said Jeff Heynen, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “Service providers still have the same goals of increasing their fiber footprint, increasing the bandwidth they can offer their customers, and improving the reliability of their broadband services through the distribution of intelligence closer to subscribers,” added Heynen.

Additional highlights from the Broadband Access & Home Networking 5-Year January 2024 Forecast Report:

  • PON equipment revenue is expected to grow from $10.8 B in 2023 to $11.8 B in 2028, driven largely by XGS-PON deployments in North America, EMEA, and CALA and early 50 Gbps deployments in China.
  • Revenue for Cable Distributed Access Equipment (Virtual CCAP, Remote PHY Devices, Remote MAC/PHY Devices, and Remote OLTs) is expected to reach $1.3 B by 2028, as operators continue their DOCSIS 4.0 and early fiber deployments.
  • Revenue for Fixed Wireless CPE is expected to reach $2.5 B by 2028, led by shipments of 5G sub-6GHz and a growing number of 5G Millimeter Wave units.
  • Revenue for Wi-Fi 7 residential routers and broadband CPE with WLAN will reach $9.3B by 2028, as the technology is rapidly adopted by consumers and service providers alike.

Source: Dell’Oro Group

About the Report:

The Dell’Oro Group Broadband Access & Home Networking 5-Year Forecast Report provides a complete overview of the Broadband Access market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, average selling prices, and port/unit shipments for PON, Cable, Fixed Wireless, and DSL equipment. Covered equipment includes Converged Cable Access Platforms (CCAP), Distributed Access Architectures (DAA), DSL Access Multiplexers (DSLAMs), PON Optical Line Terminals (OLTs), Customer Premises Equipment ([CPE] for Cable, DSL, PON, Fixed Wireless), along with Residential WLAN Equipment, including Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 Gateways and Routers. For more information about the report, please contact [email protected].


Broadband Equipment Spending Expected to Pick Up 2nd Half of 2024, According to Dell’Oro Group – Dell’Oro Group (delloro.com)

Calix and Corning Weigh In: When Will Broadband Wireline Spending Increase?

Dell’Oro: Broadband network equipment spending to drop again in 2024 to ~$16.5 B

Dell’Oro: Broadband Equipment Spending to exceed $120B from 2022 to 2027

Dell’Oro: XGS, 25G, and Early 50G PON Rollouts to Fuel Broadband Spending

Alaska Communications uses XGS-PON, FWA, DSL in ~5K homes including Fairbanks and North Pole

AT&T to deploy FTTP network based on XGS-PON in Amarillo, TX

Telefonica España to activate XGS-PON network in 2022; DELTA Fiber to follow in Netherlands


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