Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) makes 600MHz band available for 5G services-AT&T or Telcel?

International Law Office (subscription required):

In October 2018, after relocating more than 200 TV channels, Mexico’s Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) approved the relocation of the last two TV channels that transmitted in the 600MHz band in order to free it up for 5G broadband services. In doing so, Mexico became the first country to finish implementing this transition and liberate the 600MHz band.

This transition will enable Mexico to make the 600MHz band available to the market through a bidding process and exploit international mobile telecoms (IMT) applications for 5G mobile broadband services. It is anticipated that the 600MHz band auction will be launched in 2020 so that the deployment of the network can commence in 2021.

Mexico will be the first country in the world to use the 600 Mhz band for 5G, IFT approves its eviction

Mexico had already successfully switched off the 700MHz band for analogue TV in November 2015. In such band, the government implemented the Red Compartida (or Shared Network) project through a public-private partnership in order to:

  • provide broadband in areas that lacked coverage;
  • improve service quality;
  • reduce the price of mobile services;
  • promote competitiveness; and
  • improve digital service innovation.

The auction was won by Altán Redes, a new joint venture responsible for the design, implementation, operation and maintenance of the Red Compartida.

In addition, in 2018 the IFT conducted a bidding procedure in which it allocated 120MHz of the 2.5GHz band in favour of AT&T and Telefonica.

In light of the above, Mexico has allocated 584MHz to IMT, which represents 44.9% of the International Telecommunications Unit recommended spectrum allocation for 2015.

With the future auction of the 600MHz band, the IFT will take the lead in providing more spectrum for telephony and 5G mobile internet services. This is in line with the spectral policy, which has allocated more than double the amount of spectrum to the market over the past five years, resulting in greater benefits for Mexican users.

In addition, the IFT is considering using the 3.3GHz to 3.6GHz band for 5G technology, as some companies are already using this band for such purposes.

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With this, Mexico becomes the first country in the world to completely dislodge the frequencies from 614 to 698 Mhz to start testing the 5G network.

AT&T will likely be the first operator to deploy its 5G network in Mexicoo (at some point next year).   Telcel would follow closely with the launch of its own technology a year later, in 2020 . The reality is that there is still a lot of work to be done , but apparently Mexico is on the right track.

In Xataka Mexico | 5G, everything you need to know about the new generation of mobile networks

References:

https://www.xataka.com.mx/telecomunicaciones/mexico-sera-el-primer-pais-del-mundo-en-usar-la-banda-de-600-mhz-para-5g-ift-aprueba-su-desalojo

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=https://www.fayerwayer.com/2018/09/telcel-att-operadora-5g/&prev=search

 

 

 

AT&T to deploy live mobile “5G” in the U.S. on Dec. 21st, but limited to single WiFi hotspot endpoint

Whew!  I don’t have to hold my breath any longer!  But is it really 5G?  And whom other than stadiums/parks will buy it with only a single end device offered- a WiFi hotspot?

AT&T announced today that they will be offering their so called “5G” mobile network service in 12 cities on December 21st.  The telco/media conglomerate says: “AT&T will be the first and only company in the U.S. to offer a mobile 5G device over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.”

Please see Author’s Closing Comments below, which refute that “standards based” claim.  We’ve repeatedly pounded the table that 3GPP Release 15 NR NSA is not 5G and nothing that comes out of 3GPP is a standard (as per their own website!).

As expected, AT&T’s initial 5G launch will use mmWave spectrum [1], which is claimed to offer users a faster mobile experience than standard LTE.  The 5G service starts small and will be limited.  AT&T’s mobile 5G network is live  in parts of 12 cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas.

Note 1.  Millimeter waves occupy the frequency spectrum from 30 GHz to 300 GHz. They’re found in the spectrum between microwaves (1 GHz to 30 GHz) and infrared (IR) waves, which is sometimes known as extremely high frequency (EHF). The wavelength (λ) is in the 1-mm to 10-mm range.

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“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” said Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and chief technology officer. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early on the 5G journey and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”

In the first half of 2019 AT&T plans to deploy mobile 5G in parts of these 7 additional cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.  The company says that as the 5G ecosystem evolves customers will see enhancements in coverage, speeds and devices.

“As the ecosystem evolves, this technology will ultimately change the way we live and conduct business,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “We expect that our initial adopters will be innovative, growing businesses. They’re the starting point for what we think will be a technology revolution like we’ve never seen before.”

“Today’s news is a seminal moment in the advancement of mobile 5G technology,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T mobility and entertainment, in a statement. “This proves we are well on our way to the promise of mobile 5G for consumers.”

Early adopters will only have one choice of end user equipment:  the NETGEAR® Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot (aka “a puck”) on the mobile 5G+ network. AT&Ts 5G service will start out in dense urban areas.  Through an initial offer, AT&T says they will deliver select businesses and consumers their first mobile 5G device plus 5G data usage at no cost for at least 90 days. Next spring, customers will be able to get the Nighthawk for $499 upfront and 15GB of data for $70 a month on a compatible plan and no annual commitment [2].   

AT&T said its hot spot and the data it uses will be free for subscribers in the first 90 days of the rollout. After that period, the device will sell for $499 with a 15-gigabyte data plan priced at $70 per month—a rate slightly cheaper per-datum than the 10-GB for $50 it offers with 4G LTE hotspots.

An AT&T spokesperson said businesses and customers in the initial rollout areas can express interest in joining the early phase of the network on the company’s website. The spokesperson also said the network should eventually reach theoretical peak speeds of 979 megabits per second, but actual average rates will be lower.

In December, AT&T announced two 5G-capable smartphones for 2019. A Samsung-branded 5G smartphone operating on AT&Ts mmWave is will be released in the spring of 2019. Toward the end of 2019, AT&T will release another Samsung 5G smartphone with multi-frequency band support.  None of those devices will meet the still uncompleted IMT 2020 standard for mobile 5G (see Closing Comments below).

 Note 2. The NETGEAR Nighthawk device will require a 5G compatible AT&T data plan. Device availability and 5G+ coverage areas are limited.

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Expect to hear more about 5G soon at events like the big consumer electronics trade show CES in January in Las Vegas and MWC Barcelona (formerly the Mobile World Congress) in February in Spain. Wireless service providers including AT&T and Verizon are already talking up 5G. And device makers are previewing gadgets that will work with the technology.

Samsung recently demonstrated prototypes of 5G smartphones that are expected to operate on both Verizon and AT&T networks. Many other manufacturers are racing to follow suit, though Apple is not expected in the initial 5G wave. Analysts predict that iPhones with the new technology won’t arrive until 2020.

Qualcomm, the wireless chip maker, said it had demonstrated peak 5G download speeds of 4.5 gigabits/second, but predicts initial median speeds of about 1.4 gigabits/secon. That translates to roughly 20 times faster than the current 4G LTE experience, but is much lower than IMT 2020 objectives for peak and average bit rates.

The 5G speeds will be particularly noticeable in higher-quality streaming video.Downloading a typical movie at the median speeds cited by Qualcomm would take 17 seconds with 5G, compared with six minutes for 4G.

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From a previous IEEE Techblog post–AT&T’s 5G Roadmap (only mobile 5G was shown on Al Burke’s SCWS 2018 presentation – nothing on fixed 5G):

  • 2019:  5G NR access with LTE Core network and LTE Access (=signaling?).   The spectrum for AT&Ts initial mobile 5G rollout was not disclosed, but many believe it will be mmWave.
  • 2020-2022+:  5G NR access with 5G Core network (3GPP Release 16 SA or IMT 2020?); also LTE Core with LTE Access
  • 2019-2022+:  mmWave NR : Evolution to Ultra High Speed and lower latency
  • End of 2019-2022+: (unspecified time frame?), AT&T will provide sub 6 GHz 5G coverage in the U.S. speed and latency; dedicated & shared spectrum (LTE-NR-Coexistence)

When AT&T introduces its “5G” FWA residential service it will be based on LTE, according to Mr. Burke.  In answer to a question from this author during the Q&A session, he said it would start as LTE but then transition to 5G NR based FWA.  The spectrum to be used was not revealed by Mr. Burke, but it will likely be mmWave (like Verizon’s 5G Home).

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Author’s Closing Comments:

A claim we’ve heard before (by Ericsson and Vodafone), but don’t believe:  LTE network and terminal equipment will upgrade to 5G NR via “only a software upgrade.”As noted many times by this author and others,

AT&T has repeatedly stated they would roll out “standards based 5G” in 12 cities by the end of 2018 (they have only 3 weeks to fulfill that promise) and 19 cities in 2019.  Some of the cities identified by AT&T for the 2018 launch include Houston TX, Dallas TX, Atlanta TX, Waco TX, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, Oklahoma City OK, Jacksonville FL, Louisville, KY, New Orleans LA, Indianapolis IN, and San Antonio TX.

How long can AT&T claim their “5G” network is standards based when they only support 3GPP release 15 “5G NR” NSA access with a LTE core network and LTE signaling?  The ONLY 5G RAN/RIT standard is IMT 2020 which won’t be completed till the end of 2020.  AT&T knows this well because one of their representatives is the Chairman of ITU-R WP 5D where IMT 2020 is being standardized.

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References:

https://www.att.com/5g/

att.com/5Gnews

SCWS Americas: Verizon and AT&T 5G Roadmaps Differ on FWA vs mobile “5G”

https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/what-is-5g/

 

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged ,

AT&T Fiber Expansion Adds 12 More Markets, Now Reaches 10M Locations

AT&T has expanded its AT&T Fiber service (Fiber to the Premises or FTTP) to 12 additional markets, including three in Texas and three in Florida. The telco’s FTTP offering now reaches more than 10 million locations in 84 metro areas, with 3 million of those having come this year. The company hopes to reach at least 14 million locations by mid-2019. That’s impressive!

AT&T now has fiber to more than 2 million business customer locations – with another 6 million locations within 1000 feet of fiber.

In a press release, the company said that mobile 5G success will rely on a quality fiber connection to the wireless towers or small cells, which then translate the fiber connection into an ultra-fast wireless signal for customers.  Under the AT&T plans, eligible broadband customers can choose from a range of internet speed plans.

New research conducted for the Fiber Broadband Association by research firm RVA, LLC found 18.4 million U.S. fiber broadband homes as of September 2018, up from approximately 15 million a year earlier. Service providers made broadband available to a record-breaking 5.9 million new homes in the year ending September 2018, RVA said.

Network operators now market fiber broadband to 39.2 million U.S. homes, including 1.6 million homes that can get fiber broadband from two or more providers, according to the research.

 

Note:

AT&T says it offers Fiber to the premises in Santa Clara, CA (my home town for almost 49 years), but it’s not available anywhere in ny neighborhood.  When I enter my zip code and address in the box on their website, I get no mention of fiber availability, but instead this box:

We found existing AT&T wireless service at your address.

This is my account and I’d like to see my offers and deals.

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In other words, it’s a frustrating cop-out on FTTP for Santa Clara, CA.  Suggest readers check AT&T Fiber availability for your address/zip code.

References:

https://about.att.com/story/2018/internet-powered-by-att-fiber-available-12-metros.html
https://www.telecompetitor.com/att-fiber-expansion-12-more-cities/

Gartner Group Innovation & Insight: Cutting Through the 5G Hype

Executive Summary:

Most 5G deployments will initially focus on islands of deployment, without continuous national coverage through 2022. Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders must adapt digital business initiatives to the available network services.

Key Findings:

  • Despite service provider hype, most 5G rollouts will initially focus on islands of deployment. Broad availability of full-function public 5G from CSPs is unlikely before 2023, putting some digital business plans at risk — unless private networks are rolled out.
  • Early public 5G deployments will be spotty in coverage, but will satisfy some enterprise use cases such as high-speed fixed wireless access.
  • Enterprises may choose to deploy private 5G networks to address specific needs such as upgrading factory, stadium or warehouse networks. This may leverage Wi-Fi for access and 5G for the backbone.
  • Application use-case requirements (such as latency) must be clearly defined, so alternatives to 5G can be considered where applicable. In many cases, Proto-5G (an enhanced 4G) will be good enough to satisfy application use cases.

Recommendations:

Enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders responsible for accelerating enterprise infrastructure innovation and agility should:
  • Incorporate realistic networking assumptions for business plans by working with business leaders and network service providers to identify the availability of required advanced wireless services such as Proto-5G and 5G.
  • Address current use-case requirements by identifying where 5G alternatives such as Proto-5 G can be leveraged when and where 5G is unavailable or too expensive.

Strategic Planning Assumption:

Less than 45% of CSPs (Communications Service Providers) globally will have launched a commercial 5G network by 2025.

Analysis:

To optimize their planning and deployment decisions, enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders need to understand when advanced cellular network technologies will be available, and how they can be beneficial to their organizations (see Figure 1). Deployments of 5G will not be consistently available worldwide, but enhanced 4G (referred to collectively as “Proto-5G” in this research) may suffice for some use cases, and 4G radio may be combined with edge computing and core network slicing.
Adding to the confusion about 5G availability is the fact that many CSPs are claiming that everything they deploy is 5G. However, what they deploy may be little more than rebranded or advanced LTE, or a subset of 5G that is deployed in a very limited footprint.
Ubiquitous availability of 5G will be hampered by the following:
  • 5G deployments will take more than twice as long as 4G/LTE because higher-frequency radio spectrum is required. This will force deployment of large numbers of new cellular radios.
  • Spectrum allocation is progressing slowly.
  • 4G/LTE is successful and profitable.
  • There are no killer applications to pay for the required investment.
Network-based CSPs in North America, Greater China and Japan will launch projects to complete 90% of nationwide 5G population coverage by 2023. CSPs in Western Europe will achieve similar coverage by 2026, while other regions will not achieve the same coverage until after 2026.
Technological variation in frequency bands worldwide means that the deployment timelines and benefits will vary by geography (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Estimated Timing of 5G Network Launches

Source: Gartner (December 2018)

Estimated Timing of 5G Network Launches

Definition:

5G is the next-generation cellular standard after 4G. It has been defined across several global standards bodies, including the International Telecommunication Union, 3GPP and ETSI.
The official ITU specification, International Mobile Telecommunications-2020, targets maximum downlink and uplink throughputs of 20 Gbps and 10 Gbps, respectively; latency below 5 ms endpoint to RAN; and massive scalability, although initial deployments may be less ambitious. New system architecture includes core network slicing and edge computing.

Description:

For the first time in cellular technology development, 5G represents a shift in focus to go beyond consumer handsets to address the networking needs of a much broader group of wireless devices with very divergent requirements (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Three Technology Pillars of 5G

Three Technology Pillars of 5G

AR/VR = augmented reality/virtual reality; eMMB = enhanced mobile broadband; IoT; Internet of Things; mMTC = massive machine-type communications; URLLC = ultrareliable and low-latency communication

Source: Gartner (December 2018)

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Blending the following three capabilities will allow 5G to address multiple use cases, although the implementations for each use case may be very different.
  • eMBB: High-throughput data transfer, with maximum speeds of 20 Gbps for downlink (although initial deployments will fall between 4 Gbps and 8 Gbps) and 10 Gbps for uplink.
  • mMTC: Targets support of up to 1 million low-power nodes per square kilometer.
  • URLLC: End-to-end cellular network latency of 5 ms or less.
From an enterprise perspective, 5G may serve as an alternative to landline connections for branch-office networks, as a replacement for some in-building networks or as a way to reach dispersed fixed (sensors) and mobile (vehicles) endpoints. Mobile voice and text messaging are not target use cases for 5G.

The Evolution of 4G Versus the Promise of 5G:

While much has been made of the advanced capabilities that will be provided by 5G networks, the reality is that Proto-5G, which is still 4G, is good and getting better. As Table 1 shows, Proto-5G is a kind of 4G-extended technology mainly for data communication and IoT connectivity support. In some, or even many, cases, Proto-5G capabilities may be good enough to support your emerging applications. As CSPs deploy 5G, migration to this new service may require equipment refresh.

Table 1: Proto-5G (Enhanced 4G) Compared to Existing 4G and 5G Wireless Access in the Future

Feature
4G
Proto-5G
5G Wireless Access
Requirement and Target
Up to several hundred Mbps downlink throughput
About several tens of ms latency
More than 500 Mbps downlink throughput
About 10 ms latency IoT connectivity support
More than 10 Gbps downlink throughput
About 1 ms latency URLLC support
Frequency
Licensed (less than 6GHz)
Licensed and unlicensed (less than 6GHz)
Millimeter waves, in addition to Proto-5G’s frequency bands
Device IoT Support
LTE user equipment Cat. 1
LTE user equipment Cat. 0, M1 and NB-IoT
To be discussed in the technology standards
LTE = Long Term Evolution; URLLC = ultrareliable and low-latency communication
Source: Gartner (December 2018)
Deployments of 5G will occur over several years, and with multiple versions with very different capabilities because equipment vendors (Ericsson, Fujitsu, Huawei, NEC, Nokia, Samsung and ZTE) have their own evolutionary roadmap from 4G: LTE, to Proto-5G, to 5G. This will lead to inconsistent service across markets and carriers.

Benefits and Uses:

The benefits of 5G will evolve as the technology matures. In the short term, 5G will deliver higher bandwidth and lower latency connections, in many cases, in the form of fixed wireless access networks and early IoT networks.
In a shift from traditional cellular deployments, organizations will benefit from private network deployments that replace or augment campus Wi-Fi networks and wired in-building networks for applications such as factory automation and surveillance.
This deployment will be driven by 5G’s increased bandwidth, lower latency and support for IoT devices, as well as by the flexibility afforded by operating on unlicensed frequencies.
A recent Gartner survey indicates that, enterprise leaders have a broad awareness of 5G and have identified primary use cases (see Figure 3).
The figure shows that 5G-capable networks are expected to be most broadly used for IoT communications and video, including 4K and 8K video streaming to mobile devices, or ultrahigh definition wireless, closed-circuit TV applications.

Figure 3. Expected Use for 5G-Capable Networks

AR = augmented reality; VR = virtual reality

Source: Gartner (December 2018)

Expected Use for 5G-Capable Networks
The 5G support of a massive number of endpoints will enable IoT applications such as dense sensor networks for agriculture optimization. Improved operational efficiency is cited as the reason to deploy 5G for noncritical sensors, fixed wireless access, IoT communications and video. The 5G-capable networks are expected to be most broadly used for IoT communications and video. Controls/automation, fixed wireless access, high-performance edge analytics, and location tracking are a second tier of uses for 5G-capable networks.
Figure 4 shows use cases that benefit from improved operational efficiency enabled by 5G.

Figure 4. Use Cases for Deploying 5G-Capable Networks for Operational Efficiency

Source: Gartner (December 2018)

Use Cases for Deploying 5G-Capable Networks for Operational Efficiency
In many cases, 5G is linked to organizations’ edge computing deployments, which are driven by digital business initiatives. Bandwidth- and latency-sensitive applications benefit from placing compute as close as possible to the wireless client device, especially when bandwidth is constrained from the edge back into the core. As a result, many enterprises may find it advantageous to leverage emerging CSP edge computing services (see Figure 5).

Figure 5. Migration to 5G Will Enable Emerging Edge Computing Applications

P2P = peer-to-peer; VNFs = virtualized network functions

Source: Gartner (December 2018)

Migration to 5G Will Enable Emerging Edge Computing Applications
Over the longer term, 5G deployments will deliver multigigabit bandwidth and extremely low latency. When combined with dense coverage, which will require a dramatic increase in the number of antenna deployed, 5G promises enablement of new services, including mobility-enhanced AR/VR and autonomous vehicles. AR, VR, immersive video or holograms, and smart city are key use cases being deployed primarily to drive new service provider revenue.
Figure 6. 5G Use Cases That CSPs Expect to Drive New Revenue

Source: Gartner (December 2018)

5G Use Cases That CSPs Expect to Drive New Revenue

Adoption Rate:

From 2018 through 2022, organizations will mainly utilize 5G to support IoT communications, high-definition video and fixed wireless access. Use of higher frequencies and massive capacity will require very dense deployments with higher frequency reuse.
As a result, Gartner expects most 5G deployments to initially focus on islands of deployment, without continuous national coverage, typically reaching less than full parity with existing 4G geographical coverage by 2022 in developed nations.
In addition, slower adoption of 5G by CSPs (compared to 4G) means less than 45% of CSPs globally will have launched a commercial 5G network by 2025 (see Table 2).

Table 2: Representative Sample of 5G Deployments and Expected Use Cases to Be Supported

Country
CSP
Launch Target
Use Cases and Demos
U.S.
Verizon
October 2018 and broader rollout in 2019
  • Fixed wireless access
  • 4K VR in 5G trial at Indianapolis 500
  • Verizon and KT test of the world’s first 5G live hologram call
AT&T
AT&T plans to be the first U.S. company to introduce mobile 5G service in 12 cities in 2018.
  • Fixed wireless access
T-Mobile
Build out 5G in 30 cities in 2018 and 2020 l for full nationwide coverage
  • LTE enhancement
Sprint
5G commercial services and devices by 1H19
  • LTE enhancement
South Korea
SK Telecom
Commercial launch March 2019
  • 5G connected car trial with Ericsson and BMW
KT
Official 5G provider of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics
Commercial launch March 2019
  • Olympic network showcases 5G eMBB
  • Immersive 5G broadcasting
  • 5G safety (drones and facial recognition)
LG U+
Commercial launch March 2019
  • N/A
Japan
NTT DOCOMO
NTT DOCOMO will start 5G preservice in September 2019 and launch commercial service in spring 2020.
  • 8K live broadcast with NHK at the 5G trial site in Tokyo Skytree Town
KDDI
Commercial launch in 2019 and massive deployment from 2020
  • VR, 8K
SoftBank
Commercial launch in 2019
  • Immersive video, remote control of robots
China
China Mobile
Commercial 5G services in 2020
  • N/A
China Telecom
Commercial 5G services in 2020
  • N/A
China Unicom
Commercial 5G services in 2020
  • N/A
Europe
EE in the U.K.
In late 2019
  • N/A
Deutsche Telekom in Germany
Strong preparation course for 5G rollout in 2020
  • N/A
Telia in Finland
Target 2019 for commercial rollout of 3.5GHz
  • Initial demo in Helsinki in 2018
Vodafone in the U.K.
Vodafone is gearing up for a full commercial launch of 5G services in mid-2019 and expects to have about 1,000 5G mobile sites in service by 2020.
  • N/A
Telefónica in Spain
2020
  • Working with SEAT and FICOSA on connected car applications
  • Working on tourism use cases with Fitur
TIM in Italy
First 5G use cases made available in June 2018, and full rollout in Bari and Matera to be completed during 2019.
  • 3D virtual reconstructions of archaeological sites and museums in Matera, Italy. In Bari, Italy, the technology would allow for “better management of logistics and transport.”
Swisscom in Switzerland
Swisscom plans to introduce 5G at select sites in 2018. Extensive coverage can be expected in 2020.
  • N/A
Middle East
Etisalat in UAE
Per a 14 May 2018 announcement, fixed devices and services will be available from September 2018 with the service gradually extended across the UAE.
  • 5G has applications for autonomous driving, networking vehicles, industrial automation and IoT.
Ooredoo in Qatar
Per a 14 May 2018 announcement, the first Ooredoo 5G site was launched, just days after Ooredoo’s new 5G Commercial Core Network was activated.
  • The 5G Supernet will support new applications, including driverless cars and smart roads, virtual and augmented reality, and a national fleet of service drones.
STC in Saudi Arabia
Per a 16 May 2018 announcement, the company will continue building the network gradually in Saudi Arabian cities until the 5G-capable devices are available during 2019.
  • 5G will enable uses such as IoT, artificial intelligence and robots.
eMBB = enhanced mobile broadband; IoT; Internet of Things; N/A = not available; UAE = United Arab Emirates; VR = virtual reality
Source: Gartner (December 2018)

Risks:

Business plans that depend upon 5G availability face multiple risk factors related to 5G availability and inconsistency of services, including:
  • Service provider hype will convince business leaders that 5G is broadly available well ahead of actual deployments.
  • Differences in Proto-5G technologies will lead to inconsistent solutions across providers and regions.
  • CSP capital expense budgets are constrained, which will slow deployments in all but the highest-demand locations and for the applications that generate immediate service provider revenue.
  • Full-featured 5G requires a 4x increase in antenna density and an upgrade of the entire antenna to radio access node network, which will be challenging in cities due to existing buildings and lack of rights of way.

Acronym Key and Glossary Terms:

AR
augmented reality
CSP
communications service provider
ITU
International Telecommunication Union
LTE
Long Term Evolution
ms
millisecond
RAN
radio access network
URLLC
ultrareliable and low-latency communication
VR
virtual reality

SCWS Americas: Verizon and AT&T 5G Roadmaps Differ on FWA vs mobile “5G”

Verizon has no plans for linear or on-demand (or any other form) of pay TV for its “5G” FWA (Fixed Wireless Access) based residential/Verizon Home broadband service, according to  Bill Stone, the company”s VP of technology development and planning.  Stone stated that in a question from this author (during the Q&A session after his second presentation) at the excellent SCWS Americas conference in Santa Clara, CA on December 5, 2018.  Instead, Verizon has a partnership with YouTube TV (first three months free) to provide OTT video to its FWA customers.   Verizon Home customers get a free Apple TV 4K or Google Chromecast Ultra (Internet TV adapters with HDMI connection to the customer’s TV) when they sign up for 5G Home service.

Stone also said that Verizon’s FiOS will continue to offer higher speeds than its 5G Home service, which will transition from its proprietary “5G TF” spec to 3GPP release 15 5G NR NSA (non stand alone) in the near future.   He told me privately that any wireless base station vendor that supports 5G NR would be able to interoperate on the carrier’s 5G FWA network (we don’t think so for many reasons).  Verizon’s 5G Home service is currently available in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento.

Stone noted with pride that the mega carrier continues to bolster its 4G LTE network with new technologies.  “LTE has a lot of runway left,” Bill said to the audience.

Verizon currently says that customers of its 5G Home service will receive download speeds of at least 300 Mbps.  A video was shown of satisfied customers who all got download speeds of 800 Mbps or higher.  The mega carrier said that speeds can range up to 1 Gbps depending on customers’ location in relation to the towers for the service.

Verizon currently charges new customers $70 per month for 5G Home service, but only $50 per month for existing customers (with 1st three months free) who also subscribe to the carrier’s $30/month mobile data plan.  Voice is offered along with high speed Internet access, but no pay TV is available as with FiOS.

“The peak data rates here in millimeter-wave will definitely increase,” Stone told the audience.  Verizon currently runs its 5G Home service in its 28 GHz licensed spectrum in 400 MHz channels. But he said the carrier has the ability to increase that spectrum allotment to 600 MHz and 800 MHz channels (Verizon owns huge amounts of millimeter-wave spectrum via its purchases of XO and Straight Path). Stone explained that expanding the service’s spectrum channels would both increase user speeds and increase Verizon’s network capacity.  Verizon will move from 400 MHz to 800 MHz, and that will result in the speeds and capacity available  would double as a result.

Currently, the antennas and receivers for Verizon’s Home broadband service are installed by “white glove” professional technicians.   In the future, the carrier is planning to offer a self-installation option for its 5G Home service.  “Over time the goal is to introduce the ability to drop ship equipment that the customer can install on their own,”

Stone said, without providing a timeline for such a move. tone touched on several other data points for its FWA home broadband service:

  • 50% of Verizon’s 5G Home customers do not subscribe to the operator’s mobile service.
  • The service can transmit 1 Gbps downstream up to 3,000 feet.
  • The millimeter-wave service works in conditions including rain, snow and non-line-of-sight scenarios. Indeed, Stone said some transmissions work better in non-line-of-sight scenarios than when customers are within sight of the tower, due to the fact that millimeter-wave transmissions can reflect off various objects in order to reach their intended destination.
  • Verizon’s 5G Home customers are switching to the carrier from a variety of other service providers, though no details were provided.
  • Verizon ultimately expects to expand 5G Home to 30 million households at some unspecified time in the future, though Dunne said the carrier may revisit that figure as the company’s rollout progresses.
  • Verizon won’t build any more locations with its 5GTF equipment, and will instead wait for 3GPP release 15 5G NR equipment to become available before expanding to additional neighborhoods and cities.  However, the implementation of 5G NR by vendors will initially be non stand alone (NSA), which means its dependent on a LTE core network and LTE signaling.  That may differ amongst wireless base station vendors as will the frequencies used for different 5G NR carrier networks.
  • Verizon is making significant progress toward implementing vRAN technology on its 5G network, working with its vendors—including Ericsson, Samsung and Nokia—to virtualize the lower layers of its network in addition to the upper layers. The process of virtualizing the baseband functions in the RAN is part of a broader trend in the wireless and wider telecom industry in which operators are increasingly looking to move away from expensive, dedicated hardware from traditional suppliers and toward general-purpose compute servers running (mostly) open source software.
  • Verizon remains interested in providing edge computing services, services he said the operator could sell to companies looking to provide offerings ranging from drones to autonomous vehicles.  Verizon’s efforts in edge computing stem from the carrier’s moves to densify its network and to virtualize parts of its network functions. Those efforts, Stone said, would create a foundation for Verizon to eventually run edge computing sevices for third parties.

5G Home is one of many services Verizon plans to offer via 5G network technology with mobile 5G (again, based on 3GPP release 15 “5G NR”o NSA) being the next “5G” offering.  When mobile “5G” is deployed in the 11st half of 2019, the Motorola moto z3 smartphone, paired with the 5G moto mod and a Samsung 5G smartphone will be available.  So will an Inseego 5G hotspot that can access Verizon’s mobile network.

Addendum:  5G is one network, multiple use cases, Verizon CEO says

Last week at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg touted the carrier’s 5G home residential broadband service as complementing its wired Fios offering while extending the ability to provide a wireless alternative to home connectivity. While the fixed wireless access service is only available in four markets, the carrier said half of the customers are new to the company.

In a discussion with John Hodulik of UBS Investment Bank and HSBC analyst Sunil Rajgopal, Vestberg said 5G Home comes with a guaranteed 300 Mbps but its millimeter wave spectrum can support up to 800 Mbps or 900 Mbps.

“It’s a totally different way to doing broadband, meaning, instead of having a cord into the house, you have a wireless wave into the house, but the experience is the same in the house. And I think that’s a big opportunity for us. We have one footprint of Home, and that’s the Northeast where we have our Fios footprint. For the rest of the country, we don’t have it. So of course, we see that as an opportunity.”

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In a SCWS Americas keynote speech, title “Building our 5G network,”  Al Burke, AT&T Assistant Vice President – RAN Hardware and Software Development, described the progress the carrier has made in upgrading its network for 5G.  The key points he made were:

  • 5G will facilitate and support new applications such as VR/AR, remote surgery (Bill said he doesn’t want to be one of the first patients), connected cars, etc.
  • Small cells will be an integral part of 5G networks and “bring them to fruition”
  • By the ned of 2017, 55% of AT&Ts network functions were virtualized (I take that to mean they were implemented as software running on commodity compute servers)
  • There have been huge shifts in AT&Ts network in the last few years:

1.  From hardware to software implementations (e.g SDN, NFV);

2.  From centralized to decentralized control (e.g. EDGE computing)

3.  From observation (of network events, alerts, alarms) to insight via AI/ML (e.g.AT&T’s INDIGO)

  • Open RAN (ORAN) is the way to move forward.  Via disaggregation of RAN functions with well defined interfaces, ORAN is “open, modular, enables automation, and is lower cost.  ORAN results in interchangeable network modules (from different vendors) vs vendor proprietary equipment.

AT&T’s 5G Roadmap (only mobile 5G was shown on Al Burke’s slide – nothing on fixed 5G):

  • 2019:  5G NR access with LTE Core network and LTE Access (=signaling?).   The spectrum for AT&Ts initial mobile 5G rollout was not disclosed, but many believe it will be mmWave.
  • 2020-2022+:  5G NR access with 5G Core network (3GPP Release 16 SA or IMT 2020?); also LTE Core with LTE Access
  • 2019-2022+:  mmWave NR : Evolution to Ultra High Speed and lower latency
  • End of 2019-2022+: (unspecified time frame?), AT&T will provide sub 6 GHz 5G coverage in the U.S. speed and latency; dedicated & shared spectrum (LTE-NR-Coexistence)

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When AT&T introduces its “5G” FWA residential service it will be based on LTE, according to Mr. Burke.  In answer to a question from this author during the Q&A session, he said it would start as LTE but then transition to 5G NR based FWA.  The spectrum to be used was not revealed, but you can assume it will be mmWave (like Verizon’s 5G Home).

Author’s Closing Comments:

A claim we’ve heard before (by Ericsson and Vodafone), but don’t believe:  LTE network and terminal equipment will upgrade to 5G NR via “only a software upgrade.”As noted many times by this author and others,

AT&T has repeatedly stated they would roll out “standards based 5G” in 12 cities by the end of 2018 (they have only 3 weeks to fulfill that promise) and 19 cities in 2019.  Some of the cities identified by AT&T for the 2018 launch include Houston TX, Dallas TX, Atlanta TX, Waco TX, Charlotte NC, Raleigh NC, Oklahoma City OK, Jacksonville FL, Louisville, KY, New Orleans LA, Indianapolis IN, and San Antonio TX.

How long can AT&T claim their “5G” network is standards based when they only support 3GPP release 15 “5G NR” NSA access with a LTE core network and LTE signaling?  The ONLY 5G RAN/RIT standard is IMT 2020 which won’t be completed till the end of 2020.

 

 

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Fierce Wireless writes about what to expect from AT&T’s 5G mobile service.  We’d like to know How much will it cost? And who will subscribe when only a WiFi hotspot with 5G backhaul is offered?

 

Verizon, Samsung & Qualcomm achieve 1.7 Gbps in mobile 5G test; 5G smartphone for VZ and AT&T

Verizon, Samsung and Qualcomm report achieving a speed of 1.7 Gbps [1] through a mobile 5G connection while using the 28 GHz band. The test took place at Qualcomm’s San Diego, CA facilities, using Samsung’s 4G LTE and 5G NR gear, Verizon’s 28 GHz spectrum and a Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

Note 1.  For IMT 2020, the minimum requirements for peak data rate are: – Downlink peak data rate is 20 Gbit/s. – Uplink peak data rate is 10 Gbit/s.  Recommendation ITU-R M.2083 defines eight key “Capabilities for IMT-2020”, which form a basis for the 13 technical performance requirements. Recommendation ITU-R M.2083 also recognizes that the key capabilities will have different relevance and applicability for the different usage scenarios addressed by IMT-2020 (enhance mobile broadband, massive machine to machine communications, and ultra reliable, low latency communications).

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“Successful inter-operation of multiple network technologies takes us another step closer to the commercialization of 5G mobility services,” Woojune Kim, the Senior Vice President and Head of North American Business at Samsung Electronics’ Networks Business said in a press release. “We are proud to join with Verizon and Qualcomm Technologies to spotlight the next steps driving network evolution. The use of substantial mmWave spectrum and EN-DC demonstrates how a seamless 5G/LTE approach succeeds in delivering high-speed, high-capacity mobility on next-generation networks.”

The year ahead likely will bring much news about the device market, which promises to be challenging. Indeed, the news seems to be picking up before the year arrives.

Verizon and Samsung said that they will bring a 5G smartphone [2] to market during the first half of 2019. They said that plans are to unveil a proof-of-concept 5G smartphone during the Qualcomm Snapdragon Technology Summit in Maui. The device seems similar to the one used in the data testing. It includes the Snapdragon Mobile Platform featuring the Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem and antenna modules with integrated RF transceiver, RF front-end and antenna elements.

Note 2.  Samsung showed a prototype design of its first 5G phone at the Qualcomm Summit, one that it promised will launch with Verizon and AT&T in the first half of 2019. Those “5G” networks will be based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G NR” non stand alone (dependent on a LTE core network).  The phone “is the result of years of collaboration to deploy an end-to-end solution for commercial 5G services using Samsung network equipment and personal devices,” the companies said in a press release.

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AT&T also said that it will offer a Samsung 5G smartphone during the first half of the year.  Cities AT&T is targeting for mobile 5G in 2019 are Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Houston; Indianapolis; Jacksonville; Louisville; Oklahoma City; New Orleans; Raleigh; San Antonio and Waco, Texas; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Nashville; Orlando and San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, CA.

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Verizon Tests Interoperable 5G and LTE Technology, Achieves Mobile 5G Speed of 1.7 Gbps

 

5G Network and Smartphone Update: AT&T Verizon and Qualcomm

AT&T is sticking to its “end of the year” 5G commercial deployment schedule, but no smartphones or tablets will be available at that time.  AT&T plans to have 5G available in parts of 12 markets up by the end of the year.  AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan. said AT&T’s 5G is expected to move into 19 cities (so far) in 2019.    AT&T has told Light Reading that it has 5G sites live in Dallas and Waco, Texas now. But the operator has not yet launched its commercial 5G service.

The only confirmed 5G device announced for AT&T’s mobile 5G network is the Netgear Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot, which AT&T calls a “puck.”

Photo: AT&T
Photo: Natt Garun / The Verge

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“We believe the early 5G opportunities are going to be in enterprise,” Donovan said.  He noted that AT&T’s work with Samsung Corp. on“robotic manufacturing” and augmented reality with Magic Leap Inc. will be future 5G enterprise offerings.  5G smartphones will be available in 2019, according to Donovan.

According to The Verge, Verizon will technically have a phone when it launches its mobile 5G offering in early 2019. If you buy the existing, Verizon-exclusive Moto Z3 which is advertised as “5G ready.” Verizon says its first 5G device will be a magnetic, modular 5G Moto Mod attachment you can snap onto that phone to add speedy 5G NR (3GPP Release 15) connectivity.

AT&T and Verizon both say they’re exclusively rolling out millimeter wave (mmWave) radios, which inherently provide far more bandwidth and capacity than today’s networks. But at 39GHz and 28GHz, those millimeter wave signals also don’t travel as far or penetrate buildings as easily as conventional cellular. That means you’ll probably drop down to LTE speeds when you transition indoors, and in order to cover the same area as today’s LTE cell towers, carriers will need to provide many more smaller cell sites. AT&T says it’s focusing on outdoor cells first, but is also looking at indoor ones for public venues like stadiums and concert halls.

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Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon expects the first real wave of 5G smartphones to arrive in Q2 2019 at the earliest.   ”We are working, so as early as the second quarter of 2019, you’ll have smartphones being launched across the United States, across Europe, across South Korea, Australia. Some early in the quarter, some later in the quarter… they’re all going to be Android flagship devices,” says Amon. “You go to CES [in January], you’ll start to see a lot of phone announcements; you go to MWC [in February], you’ll see a lot of actual phone launches.”

Author’s Note:  Don’t expect a 5G smartphone from Apple till 2020 at the earliest.  The company is closely tracking the REAL 5G standard- ITU-R IMT 2020 which won’t be completed till year end 2020.  Companion IMT 2020 standards from ITU-T won’t be finalized till 2021 or later.

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“We need to build a crescendo,” says Amon. “You’re not going to change your phone unless the battery life is higher, the form factor is attractive, and you need companies that can actually deliver the performance,” he added.

“Today you stream music everywhere. You don’t download music anymore; even if you have low coverage, you have enough quality to stream music. 5G will do that for video,” Amon says, before moving on to fancier, further-out predictions like unlimited storage and on-demand processing power from the cloud that can, he imagines, virtually cram the power of a Magic Leap-like augmented reality headset into a normal pair of glasses.”

The Verge says that Qualcomm will announce a new Snapdragon processor at its  third annual Snapdragon Technology Summit next week in Maui.  It is targeted at 5G NR smartphones.   A “Snapdragon 1000” processor for a new wave of always-connected Windows laptops will also be introduced at the summit.

 

 

5G Security Issues Raise Mission Critical Questions & Issues

Researchers have unearthed a security issue with the coming 5G mobile networks that could raise privacy concerns for users. They are raising concerns about the 5G protocol known as Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA), which is considered superior to that of earlier 3G and 4G protocols but still presents potential problems, including failure to keep users’ identity and location data private.
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The type of AKA associated with 5G (via 3GPP- not ITU-R) should ensure that a device and a 5G network can authenticate each other while maintaining a confidential data exchange and keeping the user’s identity and location private. However, the researchers say, in its current state, the AKA could not fulfill those security aims because the requirements it sets forth are not sufficiently precise.

The team of researchers emphasized their belief that the AKA security for 5G would be superior to the AKA used in 3G and 4G network protocols. It still has gaps, though, including one that shows a phone’s presence in the vicinity without disclosing its owner’s identity. Moreover, this vulnerable version of the AKA could result in a person getting wrongfully charged for a third party’s usage of the 5G network.

The published paper about these findings recommends fixes. They include explicitly requiring intended security properties currently missing from the AKA and modifying the key-confirmation component so it offers a provably secure solution. Overall, the researchers say the AKA does not adequately protect privacy from active attackers but admit remedying that problem would not be straightforward.

In an attempt to implement more security in the AKA, the researchers have reached out to 3GPP and hope to engage in a joint effort to improve the protocol before 5G’s widespread rollout. Also, the European Union Agency for Network and Information Security, or ENISA, released a different report warning that identified flaws with signaling protocols on the 2G, 3G and 4G networks could appear in the 5G network.

Ericsson show there could be 3.5 billion Internet of Things units by 2023 — equalling five times the number of connected devices used now. Additionally, the company forecasts that 5G networks will spur the growth of Internet-connected devices.

People became familiar with the security weaknesses of IoT devices when cybercriminals first targeted them with distributed denial of service attacks several years ago.

An insecure 5G network sets the stage for increasingly widespread attacks due to 5G’s high-speed bandwidth, which increases the available attack points. It’s not difficult to imagine a business using IoT sensors within a factory setting and getting shut down due to a DDoS attack.

Chip architecture company Arm is working on a software stack that would let IoT devices run with SIM card chips, thereby making them similar to smartphones with mobile data plans. Then, it would not be necessary to connect IoT devices via Wi-Fi. However, hackers can attack SIM cards and make them unusable. They can also distribute malware through text messages during SIM card attacks.

It’s too soon to say whether hackers will exploit SIM vulnerabilities in IoT devices that may eventually include them, but the possibility is there. In any case, it’s evident that the opportunities 5G offers could spur hackers’ efforts to launch increasingly devastating attacks using methods people already know, as well as wholly new techniques.

“5G doesn’t necessarily changes the risk factors we have today,” said Tom Lally, vice president of sales for data storage and management company, DataSpan, Inc. “But it is going to exponentially increase the threat vectors and opportunities for attackers to exploit.”

“5G is going to enable businesses to connect more and more devices at higher speeds so more data can be consumed at much faster rates,” he says. “Thus, increasing the capacity and data flows in and out of the datacenter. So if you have more devices connected and more traffic flows, then you have more potential vulnerabilities derived from the increase in new vectors.”

“It’s going to become more important than ever to have proper monitoring, be able to identify attacks once inside, and have the capability to respond effectively, to remediate any potential issue,” says Lally. “At the end of the day, you’re still looking for anomalies, you’re just going to have more. So the ability to swiftly identify and respond will be critical to minimizing risk.”

It is both valuable and admirable that researchers endeavored to bring the security concerns mentioned here to light. However, it’s crucial for people to remember that 5G is a pioneering technology. Besides these potential problems, there are inevitable risks not anticipated yet in these early stages.

Conversely, there are unforeseen benefits that are more specific than the advantages so often highlighted in media coverage of the 5G network. For example, some of the inventions people rely on soon might not have been possible to develop on older networks. In order to enjoy all those advantages to the fullest, it’s necessary to continually prioritize 5G network security.

References:

https://www.informationweek.com/strategic-cio/security-and-risk-strategy/the-security-missing-from-5g/d/d-id/1333230

UPDATE:

The real work on 5G security is being done by 3GPP with technical specification (TS) 33.501 Security architecture and procedures for 5G system being the foundation 5G security document.  That 3GPP spec was first published in Release 16, but the latest version dated 16 December 2020 is targeted at Release 17.  You can see all versions of that spec here.

3GPP’s 5G security architecture is designed to integrate 4G equivalent security. In addition, the reassessment of other security threats such as attacks on radio interfaces, signaling plane, user plane, masquerading, privacy, replay, bidding down, man-in-the-middle and inter-operator security issues have also been taken in to account for 5G and will lead to further security enhancements.

Another important 3GPP Security spec is TS 33.51 Security Assurance Specification (SCAS) for the next generation Node B (gNodeB) network product class, which is part of Release 16.  The latest version is dated Sept 25, 2020.

Here’s a chart on 3GPP and GSMA specs on 5G Security,  courtesy of Heavy Reading:

Question: When do you plan to implement the following 5G security specifications? (n=105-108) (Source: Heavy Reading)

 

Calix touts GigaSpire as smart home solution for ISPs

Calix has introduced its GigaSpire smart-home-as-a-service platform as a way for broadband providers (ISPs) to compete in the sector against larger tech firms and device-makers. The platform’s Wi-Fi gateway is combined with a smart home internet of things (IoT) management system. The premise behind GigaSpire is that service providers should pursue a smart home-as-a-service approach and offer an alternative to the patchwork of smart home applications that consumers must now manage on their own. It’s an interesting, yet challenging premise.

To do so, broadband Internet providers will need to go to battle with a wide variety of companies who are now aiming to capture growing smart home revenue as their own, including blue chip technology companies like Google and Amazon. Those two are joined by a growing number of device manufacturers from well known brands like Netgear and Linksys to emerging smart home ecosystem enablers like Ring and Iris.

Patching all of these platforms together can be challenging and frustrating to end customers, and service providers often get the brunt of this frustration in the form of tech support inquiries, whether it’s the provider’s fault or not. Many providers have ventured into managed Wi-Fi services to help curtail this issue, while hoping to generate additional revenue in the process. GigaSpire takes this strategy much further, according to Calix.

In an analyst briefing, Calix EVP of Field Operations Michael Weening says GigaSpire far surpasses any Wi-Fi gateway platform that end customers can buy from any retail or online environment.

smart home-as-a-service

GigaSpire Platform (Source: Calix)

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GigaSpire runs Calix’s EXOS operating system, which was introduced last year and extends their AXOS access operating system platform into the customer premises. Other GigaSpire features include:

  • Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) capable, with up to 12 Wi-Fi streams
  • Intelligent bandwidth optimization using MU-MIMO technology
  • Universal and managed IoT supporting Zigbee, ZWave, combo BlueTooth Low-Energy and BlueTooth Classic
  • Amazon Alexa is integrated into the GigaSpire MAX
  • Instrumentation and analytics providing telemetry, performance and behavioral analytics that CSPs can leverage through the Calix Cloud

Calix also intends to build an ecosystem of smart home applications that will ride the GigaSpire platform, allowing service providers to offer and perhaps monetize smart home IoT applications. Examples provided include smart home device management, home security and network security.

Two Calix customers are acting as launch customers for GigaSpire, including Nebraska-based Allo Communications and Dubai-based du.

“Calix has been a great partner as we’ve built up our home Wi-Fi enabling the best connectivity but also the best customer service through ongoing network management,” said Brad Moline, president and CEO of ALLO Communications in press release. “This new smart home solution is anticipated to build on that connectivity advantage and really put it to use by delivering customized and differentiated service bundles to our subscribers.”

Smart Home-as-a-Service Goals
Calix’s goal with GigaSpire is to create an end-to-end smart home platform that service providers can take to the residential market and offer smart home-as-a-service. Whether that’s through better integration of existing smart home applications customer’s already have, or by introducing new ones through a smart home app ecosystem enabled through Calix designated partners. Calix will extend the GigaSpire platform to the SMB segment with a business focused smart IoT platform in 2019.

References:

https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2018/10/29/1638536/0/en/Calix-Launches-the-Ultimate-Smart-Home-System-Enabling-Service-Providers-to-Deploy-Cutting-Edge-Solutions-That-Their-Subscribers-Can-t-Find-in-Retail-Stores.html

https://www.telecompetitor.com/can-broadband-providers-succeed-at-smart-home-as-a-service-calix-wants-to-find-out/

https://www.calix.com/platforms.html

 

“America-first, 5G-first”- U.S. 5G leadership is a national imperative

After a meeting with key telecom executives, the Trump administration said it wants to help the wireless industry deploy “5G” quickly.  National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that 5G support aligns with lower-tax and deregulation policies that encourage private sector growth, adding the U.S. supports an “America-first, 5G-first” approach.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called the development of 5G technology “a national imperative for economic growth and competitiveness.”

Pai said 5G networks could effectively remove speed and capacity as meaningful constraints on wireless innovation and could be 100 times faster than current networks.

“The lag time between a device’s request for data and the network’s response will be less than one-tenth of what it is today,” he said. “Wireless networks that today support 1,000 connected devices per square kilometer could instead support 1 million” and could eventually lead to capabilities such as remote surgical procedures, he said.

Administration officials said they have high hopes for the technology that has the potential to help create 3 million new jobs, $275 billion in private investment, and $500 billion in new economic growth.

Although other U.S. government agencies like the FCC and the NTIA have long dealt in spectrum and network deployment issues, the White House summit last Friday was the first major signal by the Trump administration that it also wants to play an active role in smoothing regulations for 5G rollouts. The summit collected executives from the wireless industry with officials from the Trump administration—including Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, and Michael Kratsios, deputy U.S. CTO and deputy assistant to the President at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the agency that held the event—along with top House and Senate lawmakers and officials from the FCC and the NTIA.

Officials described the event as an opportunity for White House representatives to listen to wireless industry executives and to learn ways the Trump administration can play a role in 5G.

5G networks will rely on denser arrays of small antennas and the cloud to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks and serve as critical infrastructure for a range of industries.

Congress and regulators are also working to free up more wireless spectrum for use by 5G networks and improve other regulations to make it easier to deploy fiber lines, which are critical for 5G traffic from small cells.

In addition to providing vastly greater speed, 5G will allow transportation networks to link connected and self-driving cars, while new wireless sensors will provide real-time health monitoring and other advanced applications.

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said on Friday the 5G race will be won “principally through the free enterprise, free market economy.”

CTIA, a wireless industry trade group representing Sprint Corp, AT&T Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Intel Corp, said in a statement after the summit, “We completely agree with the administration, the FCC … and congressional leaders that free market American leadership in 5G is vital for our economy, private investment and future innovation.”

The FCC on Wednesday voted to eliminate regulatory barriers to 5G deployment. Pai said the measure would cap fees that cities could charge to install small cells and requires local governments to promptly review applications.    According to Pai, 5G networks will need 800,000 cell sites, mostly small cells no bigger than a backpack, or about four times the existing number of sites.

Kudlow said federal law allows the FCC to override localities on this issue. “We’re not here to be completely heavy-handed but sometimes you have to do what you got to do,” he said at the summit.

Rep. Walden noted that the U.S. needs to protect and encourage the supply chain for 5G. Although he did not discuss any specific policies or positions, he did say that “there are some who think we can simply ban vendors from American markets, but the marketplace for hardware and software is global.”

Those comments are particularly noteworthy given that the FCCembarked on a proposal to tacitly block any network operator—big and small—from using Universal Service Funds to purchase equipment from companies that pose a security threat. That proceeding at the FCC is widely seen as an attempt by the U.S. government to block Chinese network equipment vendors Huawei from competing in the market.

Walden did not name Huawei and also did not go into specifics of his position on the topic. No other speakers at the event discussed supply chain issues in their public remarks.

Separately, mid-band spectrum received a notable amount of attention from the likes of Rep. Walden and NTIA’s Redl. Speakers generally argued that a robust 5G marketplace will use a wide range of spectrum, from low-band spectrum to high-band spectrum. Officials and lawmakers acknowledged that the FCC is working to auction high-band spectrum starting in November, but several speakers called on regulators to release more mid-band spectrum for wireless network operators and others.

And Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., also noted that both licensed and unlicensed spectrum should be made available in the marketplace.

After the meeting, CTIA President and CEO Meredith Attwell Baker said in a statement that “it was especially noteworthy that today’s event focused so much on the need to free up more mid-band spectrum for commercial wireless use to help meet this goal and to keep up with skyrocketing consumer demand for mobile data. We look forward to continuing this important dialogue with the Administration and policymakers to make 5G a reality.”

However, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, sounded a note of caution on Friday. “As a result of our escalating trade war with China, by the end of this year we will have a 25 percent duty on antennas, switches, and routers – the essential network facilities needed for 5G deployment,” she said.

References:
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Table 1: Top patent owner of 5G declarations as to the number of patent families as to office of application and grant status

SOURCE: IPlytics, November 2019

Company name Declared 5G families Filed at USPTO, EPO or PCT Granted in one office
Huawei Technologies (CN) 3,325 2,379 1,337
Samsung Electronics (KR) 2,846 2,542 1,746
LG Electronics (KR) 2,463 2,296 1,548
Nokia (including Alcatel-Lucent) (FI) 2,308 2,098 1,683
ZTE Corporation (CN) 2,204 1,654 596
Ericsson (SE) 1,423 1,295 765
QUALCOMM (US) 1,330 1,121 866
Intel Corporation (US) 934 885 171
Sharp Corporation (JP) 808 677 444
NTT Docomo (JP) 754 646 351
CATT (CN) 588 360 72
InterDigital Technology (US) 428 346 226
Guangdong Oppo M Telecommunications (CN) 378 363 36
Vivo Mobile (CN) 193 168 0
ASUSTeK Computer (TW) 117 103 35
NEC Corporation (JP) 114 102 84
Apple (US) 79 73 52
KT Corporation (KR) 75 53 15
ETRI (KR) 71 50 20
Fujitsu (JP) 68 18 66
Mororola Mobility (US) 56 54 50
Lenovo Group Limited (CN) 51 48 19
HTC Corporation (TW) 46 44 40
MediaTek (TW) 42 38 30
WILUS Group (KR)  41 20 2
Panasonic (JP)  33 30 9
FG Innovation (CN)  33 33 4
Sony Corporation (JP) 22 17 23
ITRI (TW) 14 13 12
SK Telecom (KR) 12 8 0
Spreadtrum Communications (CN) 11 8 6

Note that Qualcomm (7), Intel (8), InterDigital (12) are only U.S. companies listed in the table above.

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