Dell Oro: Mobile Core Network Market 5 Year Forecast

In a revision of its Mobile Core Network 5-Year Forecast report, Dell Oro Group predicts the Mobile Core Network (MCN) to have an overall revenue compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% from 2020 to 2025.  MCN includes 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC), IP Multimedia Core Network Subsystem (IMS) and the 5G SA Core Network.

The Dell Oro report estimates the 5G portion of the MCN market to have a 33% CAGR. Strong growth in 5G Core network offsets corresponding declines in 4G and IMS core revenue.

Report Highlights:

  • The cumulative investment is expected to be over $50B from 2021 to 2025, with regional shares in the range for North America – 18% to 23%; Europe, Middle East, and Africa –   30% to 35%; Asia Pacific – 40% to 45%; and Caribbean and Latin America – 5% to 10%.
  • By the year 2025, MCN functions associated with 5G are expected to represent over 70% of the revenue mix between 4G and 5G MCN functions.
  • 5G Core builds by the three incumbent service providers for 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks in China are continuing to exceed our expectations. In addition, in 2021, the new Chinese communications service provider, China Broadcasting Network (CBN)  will be beginning construction of its 5G SA network.
  • Deployments of more 5G SA networks are expected in the latter half of 2021 in Australia, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. AT&T and Verizon should begin in earnest in 2022 and 2023 with their 5G SA networks. Geographic coverage is minimal at launch and is expected to grow throughout the forecast period.

“China was all the action in 2020,” Dave Bolan, research director at Dell’Oro Group for MCN, told Light Reading via email. He expects that trend to continue, especially in the first half of the forecast period. Bolan points out that phase one of the 5G SA rollout in China amounted to over $1 billion in 5GC contracts, and the pace of rollout is accelerating with phase two. Phase three is now being readied.  Dell’Oro does not yet provide vendor market share for MCN, but Bolan said Huawei and ZTE, given the size of China’s market, are currently in the lead.

In an email to this author, Bolan wrote:

“All of 5G Core network will be Cloud-Native [1.], mostly Container-based. Except there are different cloud-native versions and container versions, not making it truly open. Anyone that wants to put their core on the public cloud will have to customize it for each cloud platform.

Same may be true for the NFVI ((network functions virtualization infrastructure) if it runs on – x86,  AMD, ARM, or Nvidia processors – and couple that with the different 5G UPF (user plane function) acceleration techniques, it gets complex very quickly.”

Image Courtesy of OPNV

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Note 1. Cloud native, in essence, means the MCN software has been designed for cloud deployment. The software is built up of independent microservices and can run on a container platform, like Kubernetes.  In addition to the traditional cloud service providers (AWS, Azure, Google Cloud), many IT vendors have developed 5G cloud native software.  The list includes, VMware, Oracle, Cisco, Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, Huawei, ZTE, etc.

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“The basic network to get the 5G core up and running is the focus today,” Bolan told Light Reading. “NSSF [network slicing service function] and NEF [network exposure function] will come in the second half of the forecast.”

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References:

5-Year Forecast: Mobile Core Network Market Revenues CAGR Projected at 3 Percent from 2020 to 2025

https://www.lightreading.com/the-core/5g-core-spend-is-on-roll-says-delloro/d/d-id/771043?

https://www.opnfv.org/resources/5g-cloud-native-network

Shift from SDN to SD-WANs to SASE Explained; Network Virtualization’s important role

Disclaimer:

The IEEE Techblog has not covered this topic for a very long time, because there are no standards or accepted specifications for any type of SD-WAN or SASE interoperability.  Those networks are all supplied by a single vendor, but that hasn’t stopped them from gaining market share, especially from legacy IP-MPLS VPNs.  That’s even though functionality differs for each vendor’s SD-WAN or SASE offering and there is no interoperability, especially from one provider’s SD-WAN to another’s.

Network virtualization (defined below) has played a key role in the popularity of SD-WAN and SASE, even though that network paradigm was not included in the original definition of SDN in which no overlay networks were permitted.  (That was referred to as “SDN Washing” from 2011-2014, by SDN strongman Guru Parulker, now Executive Director of the Open Network Foundation.)

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At many industry events from 2011 to 2014, participants claimed that Software Defined Networks (SDNs) would usher in a whole new era for networking.  One colleague of mine said it would be “a new epoch for networking.”  Instead, there were various versions of SDNs, used primarily by hyper-scale cloud service providers (most notably Google and Microsoft) and a few large telcos (e.g. NTT, AT&T).  But SDN never spread to enterprise or campus networks.

When SDN fizzled out, the industry’s focus shifted to Software Defined WANs (SD-WANs), which provides user control of a virtual network overlay via the Application layer. There are three components to a SD-WAN:

  • SD-WAN edge is where the network endpoints reside. This can be a branch office, a remote data center, or cloud platform.
  • SD-WAN Orchestrator is the virtualized manager for network, overseeing traffic and applying policy and protocol set by operators.
  • SD-WAN Controller centralizes management, and enables operators to see the network through a single software interface, and set policy for the orchestrator to execute.

In addition, there are three main types of SD-WAN architecture: on-premises, cloud-enabled, and cloud-enabled with a backbone.

SD-WANs continue to roll out in many different shapes, forms and flavors, without any standards for any type of interoperability (e.g no UNI, NNI, Interface to legacy IP-MPLS VPNs, etc).  Even the definition and certification by the MEF (Metro Ethernet Forum) has failed to catch on so there is no uniform functionality between one SD-WAN and another.

Because of its virtualized network architecture [1.], SD-WANs don’t require specific hardware for specialized network functions. Instead, the infrastructure is made of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment, also known as white-boxes.  Therefore, all SD-WAN products are 100% software based.

Note 1. Network virtualization is the process of transforming network functions into software and disconnecting them from the hardware they traditionally run on. The software still consumes the hardware’s resources, but is a separate entity that can be changed, moved, and segmented while the hardware remains the same.

The virtualized and software-based version of the network is an overlay on top of the physical network infrastructure. The physical network’s devices like switches and routers still perform tasks like packet forwarding, while how to forward those packets is handled by the software running on the switches and routers.

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Meanwhile a newer entry known as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) has garnered a lot of media attention.  This Gartner-coined product category, which combines elements of SD-WANcloud-based security, and edge computing, has gained significant traction in the two years since its inception.

SASE’s remote access functionality and low barrier to entry made it an attractive option for enterprises trying to cope with the rapid shift to remote work due to the pandemic. Within months of the first lockdown orders going into effect, nearly every SD-WAN and security vendor had announced a SASE security architecture, either through internal development, partnerships, or acquisitions.

SASE is the convergence of wide area networking, or WAN, and network security services like CASB (Cloud Assisted Security Broker), FWaaS (Firewall as a Service) and Zero Trust, into a single, cloud-delivered service model.

According to Gartner, “SASE capabilities are delivered as a service based upon the identity of the entity, real-time context, enterprise security/compliance policies and continuous assessment of risk/trust throughout the sessions. Identities of entities can be associated with people, groups of people (branch offices), devices, applications, services, IoT systems or edge computing locations.”

Gartner forecasts that, “by 2024, at least 40% of enterprises will have explicit strategies to adopt SASE, up from less than 1% at year-end 2018.”

A SASE architecture identifies users and devices, applies policy-based security, and delivers secure access to the appropriate application or data. This approach allows organizations to apply secure access no matter where their users, applications or devices are located.

According to Cisco’s latest CISO Survival Guide, almost all (98%) CISOs plan to spend money on secure access service edge (SASE), and 55% of them intend to prioritize 25% to 75% of future IT security budgets on it, according to

Cisco surveyed more than 100 CISOs and security leaders for this report. The biggest shift for CISOs this year is toward SASE, following the pandemic and related trend of working from anywhere in the world, said Dug Song, chief strategy officer at Cisco Secure.

“I think hybrid work is here to stay,” Song told SDxCentral in an interview. Most organizations have decided to maintain flexible work for employees even post-pandemic, which requires changes to their IT security programs.

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Many industry experts say SASE services must be built on a cloud-native architecture (like 5G SA core network) and distributed across multiple edge locations.

While several vendors including Cisco and Fortinet have rejected the cloud native approach, arguing that networking and security appliances still have a role to play both at the branch and the edge, it’s a principle that’s reflected in Gartner’s own literature and wholeheartedly embraced by VMware, CATO and other SASE vendors.

Specifically, VMware offers a cloud-native SASE architecture that has combined multiple solutions in it such as SD-WAN Gateways, VMware Secure Access, ZTNA solution, SWG, CASB, AND VMware NSX Firewall. VMware delivers all these solutions through PoPs. It delivers the network and security services in an intrinsic or sequenced manner.

Cato CMO Yishay Yovel told SDxCentral, “The feeling I have is that a lot of the market is trying to talk about SASE now in a generic way, like everybody has everything, or everybody has the same capabilities, and it doesn’t matter exactly how they’re done.”

Yovel also said that just because a vendor claims to offer the full SASE software stack, doesn’t mean it’s been implemented in a way that’s scalable.

Many of the SASE functions — cloud-based firewalls in particular — are compute-intensive, they usually have to be run in cloud data centers and can’t run on the cloud provider’s more numerous content delivery network edge locations.

This dramatically limits the number of locations a SASE vendor can offer if relying on public cloud infrastructure. For example, Google Cloud claims services in 146 edge locations around the globe, but only operates 21 global data centers, which it refers to as regions.

Scalability and availability are another challenge, Yovel noted. In many cases, these virtual appliances aren’t multi-tenant and have to be assigned to a specific customer account, resulting in additional resources being required should the customer bump up against the limits of a single instance.

Yovel argues that unless a vendor’s SASE software stack is unified, customers may miss out on the ability to share context across multiple security or network functions.  He explained that many functions, SD-WAN for example, are only aware of certain contexts like what application is being used, but this context could be used in conjunction with other contextual information like time, location, or identity to inform other parts of the SASE stack.

“We collect all the context elements. It doesn’t matter which part of these engines need them. Everything is built into a unified thing,” Yovel said.

The bottom line for today’s cybersecurity professionals is that both zero trust and SASE networking trends should be watched closely and integrated into forward-looking enterprise network architectural decisions.

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References:

https://www.sdxcentral.com/networking/sd-wan/definitions/software-defined-sdn-wan/

https://start.paloaltonetworks.com/gartner-report-roadmap-for-sase-convergence.html

https://www.paloaltonetworks.com/cyberpedia/what-is-sase

https://www.softwaretestinghelp.com/top-sase-vendors/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/cisco-report-cisos-sase-spend-edges-toward-75-of-budget/2021/07/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/cato-ribs-palo-alto-networks-other-sase-imposters/2021/07/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/networking/sd-wan/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/networking/nfv/definitions/network-virtualization-and-how-it-works/

https://searchcloudsecurity.techtarget.com/tip/Why-its-SASE-and-zero-trust-not-SASE-vs-zero-trust

 

AT&T Earnings, Revenue, Subscriber Additions Beat Forecasts

AT&T reported Q1 FY 2021 earnings results that beat analyst expectations.  Revenue surpassed forecasts, up 7.6% from the year-ago quarter to $44.0 billion, reflecting partial recovery from the prior-year effects of the initial Covid-19 outbreak.

Higher revenues from WarnerMedia, Mobility (1.), Mexico, and Consumer Wireline more than offset declines in domestic video and Business Wireline and the sale of AT&T’s activities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Note 1.  Mobility (aka Wireless) is AT&T’s largest and most important business, accounting for 43% of consolidated revenues, and fully 67% of pro-forma revenues post divestitures. Business and Consumer broadband wireline are also important segments for the telco, which is greatly expanding its fiber optic footprint.  AT&T expects 1 million Consumer Fiber net adds for the full year 2021.

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The telco added 789,000 net new postpaid wireless phone subscribers in the second quarter, a major turnaround from the 151,000 subscribers it shed in the year-ago quarter.

After showing such a strong recovery in second-quarter results at its wireless and media businesses, AT&T raised its full-year outlook. The company now expects 2-3% comparable sales growth this year, compared to an earlier forecast for 1 percent. This excludes the impact of the pending spin-off of DirecTV, which should be completed in the coming weeks.

However, everything was not all wine and roses for AT&T. Operating profit dropped to $3.3 billion from $3.5 billion a year ago, due to a bigger writedown on Vrio and higher programming costs from the return of sports.

Net adjusted profit increased to $1.5 billion from $1.2 billion, helped by financial gains, and adjusted EPS totaled 89 cents, up 7.2% year-on-year. Analysts had projected AT&T earnings of 79 cents a share on revenue of $42.64 billion. A year earlier, AT&T earned 83 cents a share on revenue of $41.1 billion.

Operating cash flow fell by around $1.1 billion from a year ago to $10.9 billion, with capex at $4.0 billion and content spend of  $5.3 billion.  Free cash flow totaled $7.0 billion. With net debt down by around $0.9 billion compared to March, AT&T finished the period with leverage of 3.15x adjusted EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization).

For the full year 2021, AT&T now expects adjusted EPS (Earnings Per Share) to grow in the low- to mid-single digits with capex at around $17 billion.

During its earnings call, AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches said the operator reached a “major inflection point in our consumer wireline business,” with broadband revenue growth now surpassing legacy declines.

“The story with Fiber remains much the same. We continue to see solid subscriber growth with most of those customers new to AT&T. And broadband revenues grew more than 8%. HBO Max continues to exceed our expectations. Having surpassed the lower end of our global subscriber target 6 months ahead of plan, we are now raising our expectations to 70 million to 73 million global subscribers by the end of the year. We also launched our domestic ad-supported version of HBO Max as well as our international offering in 39 Latin American territories at the end of the quarter. That sets us up for additional customer growth as our addressable market expand.”

“We expect profitability trends to improve,” he continued. “We saw they improved from Q1 to Q2 and we expect that to continue as we make our way through the back part of the year.”

“Our Fiber growth continues to be solid. We added 246,000 Fiber customers in the quarter. Broadband ARPU grew by 6.1% year-over-year. Our aggregate fiber penetration rate is now more than 36%, up from about 31% a year ago. And nearly 80% of net adds are new AT&T broadband customers. We’ve reached a major inflection point in our Consumer Wireline business. Broadband revenue growth now surpasses legacy declines.”

AT&T CEO John Stankey noted its consumer fiber subscriber base increased by more than 1 million customers since the same quarter a year ago. The operator ended the quarter with 5.43 million fiber customers, up from 4.32 million in Q2 2020.

Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T’s Communications division, reiterated on the call it expects to reach 3 million new locations with fiber in 2021 and tipped this new build to spur accelerated net additions in Q3 and Q4.

“The first two quarters of this year have essentially been built selling into our aged fiber footprint from a prior build,” he said. “We are currently deploying some of the early stages of our next 3 million build that we disclosed for this year…the bulk of that inventory is going to come online towards the back half of the year. So my expectations are that our net add performance takes a step up as that inventory comes online.”

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Quotes:

“We expect Dish to be successful in the market,” explained Jeff McElfresh, the CEO of AT&T Communications, which houses the company’s 5G and fiber operations. “And so the competitive dynamics aren’t changed here. Rather, we get to participate in their success at this point.”

“We’re going to enjoy some anchor tenant benefits from that,” he said of the company’s new deal with Microsoft. “We’re not disclosing any specific financial details, but one thing that we are not doing … We’re not outsourcing our core network functions. We are relying upon Microsoft to develop a scaled compute and storage capability at the edge while we retain control of our network stack and the kinds of services that we’re going to offer to the market.” McElfresh explained that the transaction will allow AT&T to focus on its services rather than the nitty gritty details of maintaining its network operations.

“It just continues to prove to be sustainable,” McElfresh said of AT&T’s free phone promotion, which has not dragged down AT&T’s earnings or profits. “We’ve remained consistent in our offer construct… This model is sustainable.”

Analyst colleague Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson wrote:

When AT&T first embarked on their disastrous detour into the Media business, the wireless industry was in the throes of a brutal price war. It was hard to read the company’s moves as anything other than an intentional diversification away from wireless.

As it happened, the wireless industry started getting better right around the time that AT&T moved to buy Time Warner. That was no coincidence. AT&T’s need to focus on debt reduction at the time was the principal reason the industry pulled back from the brink.

Three years later, the wireless industry is still doing well. Industry subscriber growth across post-paid and pre-paid combined has soared to an improbable 5x population growth, and the very strong unit growth reported by AT&T and Verizon over the past two days suggests that it’s not slowing down for now.

Yes, AT&T’s solid growth comes with the asterisk of extreme promotions that are still suppressing EBITDA – AT&T’s EBITDA growth is lagging well behind Verizon’s, despite much faster unit growth. But, all in all, their results in Q2 were inarguably very strong.

But in jettisoning their Media and other non-core assets now, AT&T risks pivoting back to wireless at a time when this is as good as it gets. Competitive intensity in the wireless industry appears poised to be getting stronger (for all mobile carriers).

Just as AT&T, in retrospect, diversified away from Wireless at the bottom, are they diving back in at the top?

“It’s always difficult to parse the market reaction to such a tangle of businesses (we are looking forward to AT&T being a telecom company again),” wrote the financial analysts at New Street Research in a note to investors. “Taken together, the business that will constitute the future AT&T beat on revenue and subs (phone adds spectacular),” added the New Street analysts.

“AT&T added 789,000 postpaid phone subs in the quarter, well ahead of our 325,000 forecast, with the beat roughly evenly split between better gross adds and lower churn (0.69% vs our 0.80%), indicating that the company’s retention efforts continued to be effective in the quarter,” wrote the financial analysts with Evercore in a note to investors.

References:

https://about.att.com/story/2021/second_quarter_2021_results.html

https://investors.att.com/~/media/Files/A/ATT-IR-V2/financial-reports/quarterly-earnings/2021/q221/ATT_2Q21_Earnings.pdf

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/atandt-raises-fy-outlook-after-q2-recovery-in-wireless-media-businesses–1391155

https://www.lightreading.com/the-core/atandt-clarifies-dish-microsoft-deals—and-that-free-phone-promotion/d/d-id/771029?

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/financial/at-t-adds-246k-fiber-subs-q2-tips-momentum-to-accelerate-h2

https://investors.att.com/~/media/Files/A/ATT-IR-V2/financial-reports/quarterly-earnings/2021/q221/final-2q21-earnings-transcript-72221.pdf

Intel working with Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel on 5G for India

Intel said that it is helping Reliance Jio make the transition from 4G to 5G as part of their 5G infrastructure deal. Intel and Jio are collaborating in the areas of 5G radio, core, cloud, edge and artificial intelligence.

“…our collaboration spans those areas, and it’s co.innovation. So, we have got our engineering and business unit teams working closely with Reliance Jio in those areas. And we are committed towards helping customers and partners like Reliance Jio to make the transition from 4G to 5G,” Prakash Mallya, vice president and MD of sales, marketing and communications group at Intel told ET.

Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, had in 2020 invested Rs 1,894.50 crore to buy a 0.39% equity stake in Jio Platforms.

Separately, Bharti Airtel Wednesday said it is collaborating with  Intel for working towards 5G network development by leveraging Virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) and O-RAN technologies.

This is Intel’s second 5G-related partnership in India.  As per the above, Intel is collaborating with Reliance Jio to help India’s #1 telco with its 5G network development, including in the areas of 5G radio, core, cloud, edge, and artificial intelligence.

Airtel will deploy Intel’s 3rd-generation Xeon Scalable processors, FPGAs, and eASICS, and Ethernet 800 series across its network to build a foundation for rolling out wide-scale 5G, mobile edge computing (MEC) and network slicing which requires a 5G SA core network.

The partnership will also allow Airtel to tap into the hyperconnected world where Industry 4.0, cloud gaming, and virtual/augmented reality (VR/AR) become an integral part of daily lives, according to an official statement.

Earlier this year, Airtel became the first telecom operator in India to demonstrate 5G over a live network in Hyderabad using liberalized spectrum.

The Sunil Mittal-led Bharti is also conducting 5G trials in major cities such as Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub in the Millennium city and in Mumbai’s Phoenix Mall in Lower Parel, in partnership with Swedish Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia, respectively, ET previously reported.

Airtel also entered into a partnership with Tata Sons and Tata Consultancy Services to deploy OpenRAN 5G solutions, including radio and core. It plans to begin pilot in January 2022.

Jio has developed and tested its homegrown 5G solutions together with its partners in India and plans to export the solutions to global markets once proven at a pan-India scale.

Prakash Mallya, vice president and MD of sales, marketing and communications group at Intel recently told ET that the company is helping Indian telecom operators. On Jio partnership, he said that Intel is helping the Mukesh Ambani-led telco transition from 4G to 5G as part of their 5G infrastructure deal.

Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, had in 2020 invested India Rupees 1,894.50 crore to buy a 0.39% equity stake in Jio Platforms.

Randeep Sekhon, CTO – Bharti Airtel said, “Airtel is delighted to have Intel as a part of its rapidly expanding partner ecosystem for 5G. Intel’s cutting-edge technologies and experience will contribute immensely to Airtel’s mission of serving India with world-class 5G services. We also look forward to working with Intel and home-grown companies to unlock India’s potential as a global 5G hub.”

“Airtel is delivering their next-generation enhanced network with a breadth of Intel technology, including Intel Xeon Scalable processors and FlexRAN software to optimize RAN workloads with embedded intelligence, to scale their infrastructure and deliver on the promise of a connected India,” Dan Rodriguez, Intel corporate vice president, Network Platforms Group said in a joint statement.

References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/intel-helping-jio-transition-from-4g-to-5g-india-md/84608834

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/after-jio-intel-lands-new-o-ran-5g-network-deal-with-airtel/84611108

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/wireless-network/5g-business-opportunity-infographic.html

https://cmte.ieee.org/comsoc-tech-blog/2020/07/20/reliance-jio-claim-complete-5g-solution-from-scratch-with-100-home-grown-technologies/

https://cmte.ieee.org/comsoc-tech-blog/2020/05/21/india-telecom-revenue-to-slow-through-march-2021-5g-spectrum-auction-delayed-yet-again/

 

Ericsson & MediaTek near 500 Mbps upload in mmWave carrier aggregation tests

Ericsson announced a new upload speed record with 5G on mmWave spectrum – double the current upload speeds and the fastest recorded to date.

In a four-component carrier uplink aggregation tests with MediaTek, a peak throughput rate of 495 Mbps was achieved. This included 425 Mbps on 5G New Radio (5G RAN) test and a 70 Mbps on 4G-LTE test.

The demo performed in June used pre-commercial software on a device containing a MediaTek M80 5G chipset. The lab tests used Ericsson RAN Compute baseband 6648 with the AIR 5331 millimeter wave radio. Four carriers of 100 MHz each in the 39 GHz band were used for non-standalone 5G, along with 20 MHz in the 1,900 MHz band for LTE (more in Tech Details below).

Ericsson said the test of uplink carrier aggregation is the first of its kind, as the industry previously focused more on boosting download speeds. The increased adoption in the past year of home working and schooling has driven the use of applications like videoconferencing that require also fast upload speeds.

Upload speed dictates how quickly data is sent from the computer or handheld device to the internet. This includes uploading files, such as photos and videos to social media or collaborative worksites. Upload speeds are also crucial to the image and sound quality of video conferencing. Strong uplink means less or even none of those frozen screens, or broken audio, when using apps like Skype or Microsoft Teams. Similarly, faster uplink improves voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls and online gaming experience.

Hannes Ekström, Head of Product Line 5G RAN at Ericsson, said: “We continue to build on our previous successes, breaking our own record in upload speed. With a peak rate of close to 500 Mbps, we’ve demonstrated in this latest milestone with MediaTek how unprecedented data speeds can be delivered in uplink using mmWave and carrier aggregation. This means our customers can enhance their 5G offerings with higher uplink data rates, vastly improving user experience.”

JS Pan, General Manager of Wireless Communication System and Partnership at MediaTek, said: “This world’s first demonstration of an industry-leading mmWave uplink technology in partnership with Ericsson, shows MediaTek is again establishing 5G milestones and pushing the envelope of its capabilities. 5G mmWave connectivity helps boost network coverage and capacity, faster performance, and introduces more diverse use cases.”

This latest technology milestone follows a single user multiple input multiple output (SU-MIMO demo in April 2021 when Ericsson delivered a single user uplink data rate of 315 Mbps, 15-20 times faster than current typical uplink speed.

Tech details: 

Ericsson and MediaTek integrated four component carrier, each of 100 MHz, in the uplink using non-standalone architecture (aggregating 8x100MHz in the downlink and 4×100 MHz in the uplink). The integration carried out in a lab setting resulted in a throughput of 495 Mbps (425 Mbps in 5G plus 70 Mbps in 4G), doubling the current uplink speed on the market.

The test was done using the 39 GHz spectrum of NR (400 MHz) and combining it with a single carrier of LTE 1900 MHz spectrum (20 MHz). The whole bandwidth was then aggregated using the LTE and NR links, realizing a total throughput of close to 500 Mbps.

References:

https://www.ericsson.com/en/news/2021/7/ericsson-and-mediatek-achieve-mmwave-uplink-record

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/ericsson-mediatek-near-500-mbps-upload-in-mmwave-carrier-aggregation-tests–1391031

 

Masergy Performance Edge™ minimizes packet loss over public broadband connections

Masergy, a software-defined network and cloud platform company, today announced its latest patent-pending innovation which is aimed at solving a fundamental problem with broadband internet transport. Masergy Performance EdgeTM, a new SD-WAN and SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) capability, minimizes packet loss over public broadband connections, making them perform more like a private Ethernet circuit.

“Today broadband is being used ubiquitously” in home and business sites, says Ajay Pandya, director of Product Management for Masergy. “We are seeing this over the last year a lot. We used to sell 60-70% of our sites with one of the links as broadband. Now it’s in the 90’s.”

Broadband can be up to 70% cheaper than private access networks, says Pandya, but it’s still a “best effort” technology that doesn’t always provide reliable performance for applications such as voice and video conferencing.

“If I’m a contact center person or a power-user executive delivering my quarterly announcement to analysts, I don’t want the connection to be any less than excellent,” says Pandya. He also said that Masergy aims to improve the quality of last-mile connections with its Performance Edge.

“Masergy Performance EdgeTM is revolutionary because it turns the low-cost, low-performance access methodology into a high-performing service meeting the demands of today’s digital-first businesses,” said Zeus Kerravala, Founder and Principal Analyst, ZK Research. “It saves precious IT dollars and removes the productivity uncertainties of working from home all within a SASE environment.”

Most companies have become more dependent on broadband since the 2020 pandemic, but it hasn’t always served them well — particularly in cases where guaranteed performance is needed. According to an Altman Solon 2021 State of SD-WAN Study, 50% of IT leaders using only public access say their application performance is insufficient, and 48% say the cost savings don’t justify the lower quality of service. Inherently broadband is a “best effort” technology unfit for real-time data applications like voice and video conferencing. Thus, broadband often fails to deliver the performance needed, causing losses in productivity, sales, and revenue.

“Masergy is working to ensure our clients’ new need for broadband doesn’t impact their business continuity. Remote work success shouldn’t hinge on network connectivity types, and we’ve created Masergy Performance EdgeTM to make sure it doesn’t,” said Chris MacFarland, CEO, Masergy. “Masergy pioneered software-defined networking 20 years ago. We were the first to market with AIOps integrated in our SD-WAN and SASE solutions, and we’re already on the path to autonomous networking — so there’s no better company to revolutionize broadband, making it the high-performance, predictable service everyone wants it to be.

The patent-pending Performance Edge is aimed at assisting home workers, SD-WAN, SASE and MPLS customers in improving their broadband performance by reducing packet loss. The feature can be added on to Masergy’s SD-WAN and SASE services, but there is an additional cost to utilize Performance Edge. In addition, it’s currently centrally managed, so customers need to request it directly from Masergy to turn the service on.

Masergy Performance EdgeTM is available with Masergy’s Managed SD-WAN Secure and SASE offerings and uses proprietary network architecture along with industry standard and compatible routing algorithms to enable businesses of all sizes to realize increased efficiency and productivity. It provides these key benefits:

  • Better Performance: Minimize packet loss over public broadband connections for more predictable application experiences
  • Less Expensive: Save up to 70% compared to the cost of a private line and reduce outages with AI-powered performance visibility
  • Fast to Install: Connect new sites in days versus weeks and boost existing broadband circuits for immediate results

Image Credit:  Masergy

Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst of ZK Research, told Light Reading that Performance Edge could be useful in delivering the “performance of private IT with broadband” for remote workers, retail and small branch locations. Kerravala says Masergy is “using a multitude of different optimization techniques to make that broadband connection work better” with tools such as WAN optimization, compression and forward-error correction.

“SD-WAN does a good job of load balancing across 2 connections, but there are a number of situations where you only have your broadband connection available … Masergy also has their MPLS backbone, so it’s the combination of two that gives you the end-to-end performance. Performance Edge optimizes the last mile, and Masergy has always been good at the middle mile,” says Kerravala.

References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210720005252/en/Transforming-Public-Broadband-Access-into-a-High-Performing-Service-Masergy-Announces-Masergy-Performance-Edge

https://www.lightreading.com/sd-wan/masergy-unveils-broadband-performance-feature-for-last-mile-access/d/d-id/770976?

Learn more about Masergy Performance Edge

 

 

 

Nokia and Vodafone to use machine learning on Google Cloud to detect network anomalies

Nokia and Vodafone have partnered to jointly develop a new machine learning (ML) system designed to detect and remediate network anomalies before they impact customers. Based on Nokia’s Bell Labs algorithm, the Anomaly Detection Service product runs on Google Cloud and is already being rolled out across Vodafone’s pan-European network.

In a joint statement, the partners said the ML system quickly detects and troubleshoots irregularities, such as mobile site congestion and interference, as well as unexpected latency, that may have an impact on customer service quality. Following an initial deployment in Italy on more than 60,000 LTE cells, Vodafone said it will be extending the service to all its European markets by early 2022, and there are plans to eventually apply it on the company’s 5G and core networks.

Vodafone added that it expects that around 80 percent of all its anomalous mobile network issues and capacity demands to be automatically detected and addressed using Anomaly Detection Service.

Vodafone’s deal with Nokia signed last year complements its recent six-year agreement with Google Cloud to jointly build integrated cloud-based capabilities backed by hubs of networking and software engineering expertise.

The platform, called ’Nucleus’, will house a new system ‘Dynamo’, which will drive data throughout Vodafone to enable it to more quickly offer its customers new, personalized products and services across multiple markets. Dynamo is expected to help Vodafone to tailor new connectivity services for homes and businesses through the release of new features such as providing a sudden broadband speed boost.

Capable of processing around 50 TB of data per day, Nucleus and Dynamo are considered “industry firsts”. Being built in-house by Vodafone and Google Cloud specialist teams, the project involves up to 1,000 employees of both companies located in Spain, the UK and the US.

Vodafone said it has already identified more than 700 use-cases to deliver new products and services quickly across its markets, support fact-based decision-making, reduce costs, remove duplication of data sources, and simplify and centralize operations.

Johan Wibergh, Chief Technology Officer, Vodafone, said: “We are building an automated and programmable network that can respond quickly to our customers’ needs. As we extend 5G across Europe, it is important to match the speed and responsiveness of this new technology with a great service. With machine learning, we can ensure a consistently high-quality performance that is as smart as the technology behind it.”

Amol Phadke, Managing Director, Telecom Industry Solutions, Google Cloud, said:
“We are thrilled to partner with Nokia and Vodafone to deliver a data- and AI-driven solution that scales quickly and leverages automation to increase cost efficiency and ensures seamless customer experiences across Europe. As behaviors change and the data needed for analysis increases in velocity, volume, and complexity, automation and a cloud-based data platform are now key in making fast and informed decisions.”

Anil Rao, Research Director, Analysys Mason, said: “Vodafone’s anomaly detection use case, developed in partnership with Nokia and run on Google Cloud, automates root-cause analysis for efficient network planning, optimization, and operations. This type of partnership provides a new opportunity for operators to rethink data management and increase the focus on use cases and application development.”

Raghav Sahgal, President of Cloud and Network Services, Nokia, said: “This first commercial deployment of Anomaly Detection Service with Vodafone on Google Cloud provides a great boost to customer service. It not only addresses the critical need to quickly detect and remedy anomalies impacting network performance using machine learning-based algorithms, but it also highlights Nokia’s technology leadership and the deep technical expertise of Nokia Bell Labs.”

Vodafone said it will convert its entire SAP environment to Google Cloud, including the migration of its core SAP workloads and key corporate SAP modules such as SAP Central Finance.

References:

Ericsson and Telia said to provide lower 5G latency & power dissipation/longer battery life

Ericsson and Swedish telco Telia have joined forces with Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. to jointly test a claimed “industry-first feature” in Telia’s commercial 5G network.

This industry initiative adds to Telia and Ericsson’s 5G alliance with the purpose to enable better 5G for both smartphone users and advanced and emerging 5G use cases for consumers and enterprises.

The new 5G Standalone* (5G Core network) – the inactive state of Radio Resource Control (RRC Inactive) – reduces the amount of signaling required during state transitions, making it possible to significantly lower both latency and battery consumption, which are crucial requirements for many Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G use cases, including critical control of remote devices, enhanced mobile broadband, and smart transport.

* 5G Standalone (5G SA) is the eventual architecture of 5G networks, increasing efficiency and helping develop new use cases. Many 5G networks have been deployed in Non-standalone (NSA) mode where the underlying 4G network layer supported the necessary signaling. 5G SA removes this 4G dependency. With 5G SA faster network connection times, simpler mobility management and immediate access to wide 5G bands provide an even better user experience.

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RRC Inactive was implemented using Ericsson’s software and 5G Standalone network nodes and a test device powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X60 Modem-RF System. The two companies were able to demonstrate the successful transition between a connected state and inactive state without the device falling back to idle.

The transition to this new inactive state reduces the amount of signaling required during state transitions, significantly lowering latency for the end user, as was seen in this test where the access latency was shortened by up to 3x. This shortened transit delay time could have a big impact in user experience in applications such as cloud gaming where fast multi-player interactions require 20-30ms end-to-end latency. For an immersive VR gaming experience, the latency and reliability requirements are even more demanding.

Since the shorter latency makes it possible to reduce the inactivity timer, the partner companies were also able to see battery savings of up to 30 percent for the modem compared to not activating the feature. While the screen and its associated electronics are the most power-consuming components in a mobile device, implementing the feature will result in a longer battery life for a 5G smart phone user, too.

“Latency has now become a critical issue,” says Kester Mann, Director of Consumer and Connectivity at CCS Insights. “Speed and latency were always offered as the twin advantages of 5G, but now my perception is that latency has now  become more important than speed.”

Latency management for applications will require a whole new set of control-points and techniques, such as segment routing to be applied right across the network (including the fixed parts) up to and including the end-user device – especially if there still any ambition to get to ‘sub-millisecond’ transmission for some applications (as in the above diagram).

It’s critically important to note that 1 way latency includes the 5G RAN, 5G Edge and Core networks.  Also, that neither ITU-R 2150 recommendation or 3GPP Release 16 meet the URLLC latency performance requirements for the RAN, which is: <=1 msec for the data plane and <=10msec for the control plane as per ITU-R M.2410.

Image Credit: Thales Group

Image Credit:  Broadband Library

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Ericsson claims the development of the ‘inactive state’  has largely been driven by the growing field of Machine-type Communication (MTC), part of 3GPP’s specifications program, where Ericsson claims  a leading role. In most MTC scenarios, the amount of data that wireless devices typically exchange with the network is small and usually not urgent enough to justify the high battery consumption required to handle all the signaling involved in the legacy idle-to-connected transition.

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Stefan Jäverbring, CTO, Telia Company, said: “We’re excited to be able to provide new and enhanced experiences for our customers through our close partnership with Ericsson. Our partnership has enabled this industry- and world-first feature, and this technology milestone is fundamental in making more efficient use of mobile network resources and meeting critical requirements with effective solutions.”

Jenny Lindqvist, Head of Ericsson Northern and Central Europe, said: “We’re proud to jointly with Telia and Qualcomm Technologies demonstrate a world-first innovative solution that will provide a significant boost in 5G benefits for a better mobile experience. This is already a huge milestone in taking 5G technology to the next level, and Radio Resource Control will continue to play a critical role for 5G networks for years to come.”

Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President and President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA, Qualcomm Europe, Inc., commented: “We are proud to have worked with Ericsson and Telia on bringing this key feature to commercialization. Reduced latency, shorter-time-to-content and increased battery life are high on the must-have lists for users and RRC Inactive helps to deliver them all.”

The development of the inactive state has largely been driven by the growing field of Machine-type Communication (MTC). This is part of 3GPP standardization where Ericsson has had a leading role in defining the functionalities. In most MTC scenarios, the amount of data that wireless devices typically exchange with the network is small and usually not urgent enough to justify the high battery consumption required to handle all the signaling involved in the legacy idle-to-connected transition. For current and future 5G use cases with a large and growing number of devices, improved connection, state, and mobility handling have been identified as key elements of efficient support.

5G skeptic William Webb said, “It’s a good practical development, but I think there is a dash of 5G-style confusion in there too. It’s not clear what or who this is aimed at. Is it aimed at (IoT/MTC) machines or mobile game users?”

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References:

https://www.ericsson.com/en/news/3/2021/5g-feature-enabling-lower-latency-and-increased-battery-life

https://www.telecomtv.com/content/5g/ericsson-and-telia-open-new-front-in-the-war-against-latency-41992/

https://www.thalesgroup.com/en/markets/digital-identity-and-security/mobile/inspired/5G

https://broadbandlibrary.com/5g-low-latency-requirements/

 

AT&T to be the primary network services provider for DISH MVNO customers

Dish Network has announced a long-term Network Services Agreement (NSA) with AT&T, making the carrier the primary network services partner for Dish MVNO [1.] customers, including retail mobile brands such as Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless, in addition to its own new Dish 5G network.
Note 1. MVNOs do not own physical networks, but rent capacity from established mobile network operators to sell services to their customers.

The ten-year agreement, which CNBC said was worth at least $5 billion, will serve as a back-up while the company rolls out its own mobile network. Dish has relied to date mainly on the T-Mobile network, as part of the deal signed last year to acquire Boost Mobile and other assets from T-Mobile following its merger with Sprint.

AT&T will also provide transport and roaming services, to support Dish’s 5G network roll-out. Dish said it is committed to becoming the fourth facilities-based carrier in the U.S. and is aiming to bring its cloud-native, OpenRAN-based 5G network to 70% of the population by 2023.

“With an MVNO deal past 2027, Dish can focus on denser markets and leave rural to AT&T,” said MoffettNathanson principal analyst Craig Moffett. “Dish desperately needs an MVNO to fall back on past 2027, because the economics of building to rural are awful, and a network that doesn’t have rural isn’t tenable.”

Tammy Parker, Senior Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, offered her opinion:

This deal is highly beneficial to AT&T as the company not only gains at least $5bn in revenue streams over the term of this ten-year agreement from new MVNO subscribers, it will also have access to DISH’s spectrum holdings to support DISH customers on the AT&T network. The NSA is not exclusive for either party, so both can go out and find new dance partners; however, given the depth and breadth of this agreement, that would appear both unlikely and unnecessary.

Both companies are poised to ride the US wireless industry’s ongoing growth wave. This is increasingly driven by the rollout of 5G, which enables faster network speeds, lower latency and new use cases, including Internet of Things services, that will result in many users having multiple wireless subscriptions. According to GlobalData’s latest forecasts, the number of unique mobile users in the US will increase by 5% over the next five years. Furthermore, total mobile subscriptions in the US will expand by more than 30% during that time and there will be nearly 692.6 million US mobile subscriptions by year-end 2026.

A fascinating part of this new arrangement is that it provides a glimpse into AT&T’s concerns regarding the possibility that DISH could sell out to another entity, perhaps even Amazon or Google. Rumors have abounded, even before DISH agreed to build its 5G network on Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud platform, about possible negotiations between Amazon and DISH regarding the former’s potential use of DISH’s forthcoming 5G network to offer new services. Though there is nothing new to report there, this NSA stipulates that AT&T will be allowed to terminate the NSA in the event of a qualifying change of control of DISH. This could include a rival wireless provider, US cable company or ‘certain large technology companies’ taking over 50% more of the voting power or economic value of DISH. AT&T would still have to support DISH’s MVNO customers for up to two years after such a termination. “T-Mobile, and its Sprint network, is currently the primary MVNO partner for Boost and Republic. Ting operates on every nationwide network except AT&T. However, although DISH’s involvement saved T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, the relationship between DISH and T-Mobile appears to have been fraught from the start. T-Mobile’s plans to shutter its 3G network by January 2022, leaving many of DISH’s customers without network service, has created an especially contentious standoff between the two companies, which likely helped pave the way for DISH’s new agreement with AT&T.”

Dish has 8.89 million retail wireless subscribers as of its last quarterly earnings report, while AT&T has more than 186 million mobile subscribers.

CNBC said that the pact is a potential precursor to a DirecTV-Dish merger since it brings AT&T and Dish closer together.  Jonathan Chaplin, an analyst at New Street Research, said in a note to clients that one of the biggest obstacles to a merger has been the notion that “AT&T hates Dish.” Some of those bad feelings stem from the botched 2007 merger, when AT&T felt Ergen had reached a handshake deal and negotiated in bad faith, according to people familiar with the deal who asked not to be named because the discussions were private.

But the telecommunications world has dramatically shifted from 2007. AT&T is no longer run by Randall Stephenson, who stepped down as CEO last year. The wireless giant is reorganizing itself around 5G and fiber networks.  AT&T could use the $5 billion Dish will give it over the next 10 years to pay down debt from its two enormous acquisitions of WarnerMedia and DirecTV.

While AT&T’s MVNO pact allows Dish to be a stronger competitor to AT&T, “getting access to Dish’s spectrum could help improve AT&T’s competitive position,” noted Chaplin, and facilitating a merger between DirecTV and Dish will help both companies.

Bringing together two competing satellite-TV providers — especially as both companies lose pay-TV customers each quarter as the world shifts to digital streaming television — would unlock billions in synergies, as satellites can be retired, duplicative jobs eliminated and competitive costs eradicated.

Still, regulators would need to feel comfortable that a Dish-DirecTV would be beneficial for consumers. While that remains uncertain, “it is a hurdle, not a barrier,” wrote Chaplin.

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References:

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/19/dish-and-att-sign-wireless-network-deal-worth-at-least-5-billion.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/19/dish-and-atts-new-wireless-partnership-potentially-foreshadows-directv-deal.html

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/dish-makes-atandt-the-primary-network-services-partner-for-all-of-its-mvno-customers–1390720

Optimistic 5G Market forecasts by GlobalData and Research&Markets

The number of 5G mobile subscriptions worldwide is forecast to reach 3.9 billion by the end of 2026, according to new research from data and analytics company GlobalData. 5G will be 35.1% of all global mobile subscriptions at that time.  Other predictions:
  • Global 5G service revenues will total $609 billion (€517bn).
  • 5G is forecast to generate monthly ARPU of $14.15 in 2026, more than double 4G’s monthly ARPU of $5.48.
  • 5G is expected to bring down the per-bit cost for carriers. The basic cost efficiencies that 5G brings will enable operators and developers alike to create new applications for the technology as it becomes to mature and develop.
5G has yet to make a significant mark in terms of the faster data speeds, latency and other hallmarks that will enable advanced features such as self-driving cars and cloud gaming.  A number of 5G operators are beginning to sell cloud gaming services. Telia in Sweden and EE in the UK are selling Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate memberships that include cloud gaming. Telia customers can also buy a dedicated cloud gaming promotion featuring an Android phone, Telia data plan and a free Razer Kishi universal Android controller and the Xbox Game Pass in one bundle.

“Although we have not yet seen all that 5G is capable of in early deployments, the technology has a multitude of future opportunities for telecom operators,” said Lynnette Luna, Principal Analyst with GlobalData. “Not only will capacity bring down the per-bit cost for carriers, the basic cost efficiencies that 5G brings will enable operators and developers alike to create new applications for the technology as it becomes to mature and develop.

[We believe that those 5G telco opportunities will ONLY be realized via deployment of a 5G SA Core network.]

“This growing innovation will contribute to an expected rise in 5G mobile subscriptions worldwide. At the end of 2026, GlobalData predicts there will be 3.9 billion such subscriptions, representing 35.1% of total subscriptions.”

Some revenue-generating strategies seen in the US and Europe on 4G networks also resonate on 5G networks. Within the US postpaid wireless market in particular, operators have always enticed users to sign up for premium plans through service bundles, such as video streaming and gaming.

In some markets, we are beginning to see more advanced bundles marketed with 5G, said GlobalData. Vodafone is in the process of rolling out Nreal smart glasses in its 5G markets across Europe, offering an interest-free hardware bundle and an app called Vodafone 5G Reality AR.

“Operators will continually improve their bundles with new 5G features. Eventually they will take advantage of ultra-low latency and consistent gigabit data speeds,” Luna concludes.

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Separately, Research & Markets new report, 5G In Defense Global Market Report 2021: COVID-19 Growth and Change forecasts that the global 5G in defense market is expected to grow from $39.62 million in 2020 to $71.24 million in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 79.82%.Major players in the 5G in defense market are Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia Networks, Samsung, NEC, Thales Group, L3Harris Technologies Inc., Raytheon Technologies, Ligado Networks, Wind River Systems Inc., AT&T, and Qualcomm Technologies Inc.

The 5G-Defense Market growth is mainly due to the high speed, low latency (?) offered by 5G and growing adoption of autonomous and connected defense devices. The market is expected to reach $646.61 million in 2025 at a CAGR of 73.57%.

The 5G in defense market consists of sales of 5G technology and services by entities (organizations, sole traders, and partnerships) that are engaged in providing 5G technology and services for military and homeland security uses. 5G for defense is expected to improve reconnaissance, intelligence, and surveillance systems and processing, streamline logistics systems for increased efficiency and enable new methods of control and command. 5G in defense is used to transfer video, text, image, and voice data with faster bandwidth of 300 GHz to create data on demand for the battlefield.

The main types of communication infrastructure for 5G in defense are small cell, macro cell, radio access network (RAN). Small cell infrastructure uses wireless receivers and transmitters to provide network coverage to smaller areas. Macro cell provides radio coverage for cellular networks through large towers and antennas across a wider area. Radio Access Network (RAN) connects individual devices to other parts of a network through radio connections.

The various network technology in 5G in defense include software-defined networking (SDN), fog computing (FC), mobile edge computing (MEC), network functions virtualization (NFV). The different types of network used comprises enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine type communications (MMTC). 5G in defense are used in areas such as military and homeland security.

North America was the largest region in the 5G in defense market in 2020. Asia Pacific region is predicted to record fastest growth over the forecast period. The regions covered in this report are Asia-Pacific, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, South America, Middle East and Africa.

The countries covered in the 5g in defense market report are Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Russia, South Korea, UK, and USA.

References:

We haven’t even begun to see 5G’s capabilities, says GlobalData – GlobalData

https://www.telecomlead.com/5g/5g-to-bring-in-arpu-of-14-15-per-month-versus-5-48-for-4g-100889

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210719005455/en/5G-in-Defense-Global-Market-Report-2021—ResearchAndMarkets.com