Cloud RAN with Google Distributed Cloud Edge; Strategy: host network functions of other vendors on Google Cloud
At MWC 2023 Barcelona, Google Cloud announced that they can now run the radio access network (RAN) functions as software on Google Distributed Cloud Edge, providing communications service providers (CSPs- AKA telcos) with a common and agile operating model that extends from the core of the network to the edge, for a high degree of programmability, flexibility, and low operating expenses. CSPs have already embraced open architecture, open-source software, disaggregation, automation, cloud, AI and machine learning, and new operational models, to name a few. The journey started in the last decade with Network Functions Virtualization, primarily with value added services and then deeper with core network applications, and in the past few years, that evolved into a push towards cloud-native. With significant progress in the core, the time for Cloud RAN is now, according to Google. However, whether for industry or region-specific compliance reasons, data sovereignty needs, or latency or local data-processing requirements, most of the network functions deployed in a mobile or wireline network may have to follow a hybrid deployment model where network functions are placed flexibly in a combination of both on-premises and cloud regions. RAN, which is traditionally implemented with proprietary hardware, falls into that camp as well.
In 2021,the company launched Google Distributed Cloud Edge (GDC Edge), an on-premises offering that extends a consistent operating model from our public Google Cloud regions to the customer’s premises. For CSPs, this hybrid approach makes it possible to modernize the network, while enabling easy development, fast innovation, efficient scale and operational efficiency; all while simultaneously helping to reduce technology risk and operational costs. GDC Edge became generally available in 2022.
Google Cloud does not plan to develop its own private wireless networking services to sell to enterprise customers, nor does the company plan to develop its own networking software functions, according to Gabriele Di Piazza, an executive with Google Cloud who spoke at MWC 2023 in Barcelona. Instead, Google Cloud would like to host the networking software functions of other vendors like Ericsson and Mavenir in its cloud. It would also like to resell private networking services from operators and others.
Rather than develop its own cloud native 5G SA core network or other cloud networking software (like Microsoft and AWS are doing), Google Cloud wants to “avoid partner conflict,” Di Piazza said. Google has been building its telecom cloud story around its Anthos platform. That platform is directly competing against the likes of AWS and Microsoft for telecom customers. According to a number of analysts, AWS appears to enjoy an early lead in the telecom industry – but its rivals, like Google, are looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. One of Google’s competitive arguments is that it doesn’t have aspirations to sell network functions. Therefore, according to Di Piazza, the company can remain a trusted, unbiased partner.
Image Credit: Google Cloud
Last year, the executive said that moving to a cloud-native architecture is mandatory, not optional for telcos, adding that telecom operators are facing lots of challenges right now due to declining revenue growth, exploding data consumption and increasing capital requirements for 5G. Cloud-native networks have significant challenges. For example, there is a lack of standardization among the various open-source groups and there’s fragmentation among parts of the cloud-native ecosystem, particularly among OSS vendors, cloud providers and startups.
In recent years, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Oracle and other cloud computing service providers have been working to develop products and services that are specifically designed to allow telecom network operator’s to run their network functions inside a third-party cloud environment. For example, AT&T and Dish Network are running their 5G SA core networks on Microsoft Azure and AWS, respectively.
Matt Beal, a senior VP of software development for Oracle Communications, said his company offers both a substantial cloud computing service as well as a lengthy list of network functions. He maintains that Oracle is a better partner for telecom network operators because of it. Beal said Oracle has long offered a wide range of networking functions, from policy control to network slice management, that can be run inside its cloud or inside the cloud of other companies. He said that, because Oracle developed those functions itself, the company has more experience in running them in a cloud environment compared with a company that hasn’t done that kind of work. Beal’s inference is that network operators ought to partner with the best and most experienced companies in the market. That position runs directly counter to Google’s competitive stance on the topic. “When you know how these things work in real life … you can optimize your cloud to run these workloads,” he said.
While a number of other telecom network operators have put things like customer support or IT into the cloud, they have been reluctant to release critical network functions like policy control to a cloud service provider.
Microsoft announces Azure Operator Nexus; Enea to deliver subscriber data management and traffic management in 4G & 5G
Microsoft launched its brand new next-gen hybrid cloud platform – Azure Operator Nexus – for network operators today. Azure Operator Nexus is an expansion of the Azure Operator Distributed Services private preview. Azure Operator Nexus is a hybrid, carrier-grade cloud platform designed for the specific needs of the operator in running network functions such as packet core, virtualized radio access networks (vRAN), subscriber data management, and billing policy. Azure Operator Nexus is a first-party Microsoft product that builds on the functionality of its predecessor, adding essential features of key Microsoft technologies such as Mariner Linux, Hybrid AKS, and Arc while continuing to leverage Microsoft Services for security, lifecycle management, Observability, DevOps and automation.
Azure Operator Nexus has already been released to our flagship customer, AT&T, and the results have been incredibly positive. Now, we’re selectively working with operators for potential deployments around the world. In this blog post, we provide an overview of the service from design and development to deployment and also discuss benefits the customers can expect, including research and analysis into the total cost of ownership (TCO).
Microsoft Azure Operator Nexus leverages cloud technology to modernize and monetize operator network investments to deliver benefits such as:
- Lower overall TCO
- Greater operations efficiency and resiliency through AI and automation
- Improved security for highly-distributed, software-based networks
Azure Operator Nexus is a purpose-built service for hosting carrier-grade network functions. The service is specifically designed to bring carrier-grade performance and resiliency to traditional cloud infrastructures. Azure Operator Nexus delivers operator mobile core and vRAN network functions securely in on-premises (far-edge, near-edge, core datacenters) and on-Azure regions. This delivers a rich Azure experience, including visibility into logging, monitoring, and alerting for infrastructure components and workloads. Operators will have a consistent environment across both on-premises and Azure regions, allowing network function workloads to move seamlessly from one location to another based on application needs and economics.
Whether deployed on-premises or in Azure infrastructure, network functions may access an identical set of platform capabilities. On-premises, the service uses a curated hardware BOM of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based servers, network switches, dedicated storage arrays, and terminal servers. Both deployment models are Linux-based, in alignment with network function needs, telecommunications industry trends, and relevant open-source communities. Additionally, the service supports both virtualized network functions (VNFs) and containerized network functions (CNFs).
The Azure Operator Nexus is based on the experience of a large telecommunications operator that has spent the past seven years virtualizing more than 75 percent of its network and overcoming the scale challenges of network-function virtualization. From this deep networking and virtualization experience, Operator Nexus was designed to:
- Provide the network function runtime that allows the fast-packet processing required to meet the carrier-grade-network demands of network functions supporting tens of millions of subscribers. Examples of requirements the platform delivers include optimized container support, flexible, fine-grained VM sizing, NUMA alignment to avoid UPI performance penalties, Huge Pages, CPU pinning, CPU isolation, Multiple Network Attachments, SR-IOV & OVS/DPDK host coexistence, SR-IOV trusted mode capabilities and complex scheduling support across failure domains.
- Ensure the quality, resiliency, and security required by network-function workloads through robust test automation.
- Deliver lifecycle automation to manage cloud instances and workloads from their creation through minor updates and configuration changes, and even major uplifts such as VMs and Kubernetes upgrades. This is accomplished via a unified and declarative framework driving low operational cost, high-quality performance, and minimal impact on mission-critical running network workloads.
In addition to the performance-enhancing features, Azure Operator Nexus also includes a fully integrated solution of software-defined networking (SDN), low latency storage, and an integrated packet broker. The connectivity between the Operator premises and Azure leverages Express Route Local capabilities to address the transfer of large volumes of operational data in a cost-effective manner.
One of the key benefits of a hybrid cloud infrastructure is its ability to provide harmonized observability for both infrastructure and applications. This means one can easily monitor and troubleshoot any issues that may arise, ensuring systems are running smoothly and efficiently. The platform collects logs, metrics, and traces from network function virtualization infrastructure (NFVI) and network functions (NFs). It also offers a rich analytical, AI/ML-based toolset to develop descriptive and prescriptive analytics. Our goal with this observability architecture is to securely bring all operator data into a single data lake where it can be processed to provide a global-network view and harvested for operational and business insights.
Stockholm Sweden based Enea is amongst the first to join the program. They will deliver subscriber data management and traffic management in 4G and 5G for the new platform.
The introduction of Enea’s Telecom product portfolio will further enhance mobile operators’ ability to unlock the potential of 5G and provide more choice in pre-validated solutions to ensure a faster time to deployment for solutions. Enea’s telecom products include the Stratum Network Data layer, 5G Service Engine, Subscription Manager and Policy Manager, providing a range of subscriber data management, authorization and traffic management capabilities for both 4G & 5G mobile environments.
Azure Operator Nexus program provides an API layer to automate and manage network functions. The Enea network functions will integrate and validate at both the API interoperability level and the automated deployment level to provide telecom operators the option to build, host and operate these containerized functions as part of a network in a cloud or hybrid cloud environment. As pre-validated services, the Enea network functions will be available in the Azure Marketplace.
“The integration with Microsoft Azure Operator Nexus demonstrates Enea’s commitment to multi-vendor telecom architecture, software-based solution and open interoperability.”, said Osvaldo Aldao, Vice President of Product Management at Enea. Further adding, “The addition of our Stratum network data layer as an open 5G UDR & UDSF will provide the data management foundation to drive a fully cloud native architecture with Azure Operator Nexus”.
“Enea joining the Microsoft Azure Operator Nexus Ready Program enables both network function expertise and deployment experience from their extensive portfolio”, said Ross Ortega, Vice President – Azure for Operators, “Enea’s pre-validated functions in the Azure Marketplace will be an essential building block for operator networks.”
Microsoft Azure for Operators:
Enea software portfolio:
Network Data Layer: https://www.enea.com/solutions/4g-5g-network-data-layer/
5G Applications https://www.enea.com/solutions/data-management-applications/
Traffic Management – https://www.enea.com/solutions/traffic-management/4g-5g-user-plane-dual-mode-services/
Enea is a world-leading specialist in software for telecom and cybersecurity. The company’s cloud-native solutions connect, optimize, and secure services for mobile subscribers, enterprises, and the Internet of Things. More than 100 communication service providers and 4.5 billion people rely on Enea technologies every day.
Enea has strengthened its product portfolio and global market position by integrating a number of acquisitions, including Qosmos, Openwave Mobility, Aptilo Networks, and AdaptiveMobile Security.
Contact: Stephanie Huf, Chief Marketing Officer [email protected]
HPE acquires private cellular network provider Athonet (Italy) to strengthen HPE Aruba’s networking portfolio
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced the expansion of its connected edge-to-cloud offering with the acquisition of Athonet, a private cellular network technology provider that delivers mobile core networks to enterprises and communication service providers. Combined with the HPE telco and Aruba networking portfolios, Athonet will put HPE at the forefront of a growing market that is predicted by IDC to increase to more than $1.6 billion1 by 2026.
Based in Vicenza, Italy, Athonet has more than 15 years of experience delivering 4G and 5G mobile core solutions to customers and partners globally. Athonet is an award-winning technology pioneer with more than 450 successful customer deployments in various industries, including leading mobile operators, hospitals, airports, transportation ports, utilities, government and public safety organizations.
With enterprises facing complex connectivity challenges across large and remote sites, private 5G offers high levels of coverage, reliability and mobility across campus and industrial environments. It also augments the cost-effective, high-capacity connectivity provided by Wi-Fi. The incorporation of Athonet’s technology will allow HPE to deliver private networking capabilities directly to enterprises as part of HPE’s Aruba networking portfolio, while also enabling communications service providers (CSPs) to quickly deploy private 5G networks for their customers.
“Telco customers are looking for simpler ways to deploy private 5G networks to meet growing customer expectations at the connected edge,” said Tom Craig, global vice president and general manager, Communications Technology Group at HPE. “At the same time, enterprise customers are demanding a customized 5G experience with low-latency, segregated resources, extended range and security across campus and industrial environments that complement their existing wireless networks. With the acquisition of Athonet, HPE now has one of the most complete private 5G and Wi-Fi portfolios for CSP and enterprise customers – and we will offer it as a service through HPE GreenLake.”
HPE expands private 5G solutions for both telcos and the enterprise:
HPE will integrate Athonet’s technology into its existing CSP and Aruba networking enterprise offerings to create a private networking portfolio that accelerates digital transformation from edge-to-cloud. The networking portfolio will provide the following benefits:
- Enhanced private networks that combine the high capacity of Wi-Fi with the coverage and mobility of 5G
- Accelerated private 5G deployments that improve agility and innovation to help telco B2B teams and enterprise customers
- New enterprise revenue streams for telcos with differentiated services leveraging 5G and Wi-Fi
- Alignment of costs to revenues with consumption-based models for enterprises and telcos through HPE GreenLake, reducing the risk of entering new markets
- Management of operational complexity and cost efficiency with 5G orchestration and zero-touch automation to deliver new workloads from edge-to-cloud
With 5G investments running into the billions of dollars, CSPs are looking for simple ways to meet customer needs and drive new B2B revenue by deploying both edge compute and private 5G networks. The addition of Athonet’s software to HPE’s telco portfolio enhances one of the broadest communications portfolios in the market, which serves a base of more than 300 customers across 160 countries and connects more than one billion mobile devices worldwide. Building on its existing private 5G solutions, HPE’s enhanced offering for CSPs will support private 4G and 5G networks and include telco-grade orchestration and automation capabilities. These capabilities will help launch new B2B services that meet growing customer expectations for the connected edge.
“Athonet was founded to provide customers with private 4G and 5G solutions that deliver carrier-grade reliability and performance to suit their increasing and more challenging connectivity needs,” said Gianluca Verin, CEO and co-founder of Athonet. “We are excited to join HPE and combine our highly skilled teams as we expand our joint service provider offerings for the rapidly growing private 5G market and build on HPE’s strategy to be the leading edge-to-cloud solutions provider.”
Private 5G offers enterprises new capabilities that are ultra-secure, easy to deploy and manage, ready for highly specialized applications such as robotics and industrial IoT, data networks and pipelines, and security systems facilitation. The acquisition of Athonet strengthens Aruba’s connected edge portfolio, providing the unique and highly sought-after ability to deliver fully integrated Wi-Fi and private 5G networks. Integration with Aruba Central will enable network managers to administer Wi-Fi and private 5G through a single pane of glass and bring to bear the power of AI-powered insights, workflow automation, and robust security.
HPE GreenLake, HPE’s edge-to-cloud platform, will offer Athonet private 5G offerings, combining all costs for Wi-Fi and private 5G into one single monthly subscription with no capital expenditure. Flexible consumption options, including HPE’s networking as a service, mean private 5G networks can be deployed with reduced risk, little upfront investment and scaled according to demand.
HPE portfolio integration and availability:
HPE will integrate Athonet’s solutions with its existing telco software assets and plans to make them available to customers some time following the close of the transaction. HPE will also integrate the solutions with the Aruba networking portfolio in the near future. The transaction is expected to close at the beginning of the third quarter of HPE’s 2023 fiscal year, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
About Hewlett Packard Enterprise:
Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the global edge-to-cloud company that helps organizations accelerate outcomes by unlocking value from all of their data, everywhere. Built on decades of reimagining the future and innovating to advance the way people live and work, HPE delivers unique, open and intelligent technology solutions as a service. With offerings spanning Cloud Services, Compute, High Performance Computing & AI, Intelligent Edge, Software, and Storage, HPE provides a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, helping customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance. For more information, visit: www.hpe.com
Media Contacts for U.S. & Canada:
Ben Stricker [email protected]
Analysis from Channel Futures:
While HPE already offers a 5G cloud-native software core, Athonet gives deeper in-house capabilities to more quickly and directly deploy private 5G networks.
“Given HPE’s Wi-Fi and security assets – like Aruba – I’d say this makes a clear play to simplify management for key enterprise digital assets. And this is the kind of issue that enterprises are often bringing up to us,” Omdia chief analyst of enterprise services Camille Mendler told Channel Futures. (Omdia and Channel Futures share a parent company, Informa.)
Patrick Filkins, IDC‘s research manager for IoT and telecom network infrastructure, said Athonet can give HPE customers an improved option for deploying a private 5G network together with Wi-Fi. Filkins said that integrated portfolio could well serve an enterprise that has already done the heavy legwork of building a Wi-Fi network.
“This is a very complicated task, and one the enterprise itself controls. They don’t want to start from scratch or be forced to have someone else tinkering in their systems, so this acquisition will hopefully provide some assurance to enterprise customers that the vendors will help ensure their customers can repurpose work they’ve already done to integrate a new network technology, and hopefully new use cases,” Filkins said.
Filkins said the acquisition will immediately improve the HPE 5G core and gradually work its way into Aruba portfolio improvements. For example, HPE will integrate Athonet into the Aruba Central network management platform.
“Specifically, we expect HPE/Aruba to over time release follow-on solutions which help enterprises manage the two technologies seamlessly. Enterprises are not interested in deploying both 5G and Wi-Fi networks in a silo. They want a combined solution that can help tackle the integration and management issues from a single pane. This means you’ll see HPE’s telco and Aruba teams working together more closely over time,” Filkins said.
Mendler said one might see a U.S. equivalent in Celona, despite Athonet’s age (founded 2004) compared to that of Celona (founded in 2019). Filkins added that although many vendors provide private and public LTE/5G cores in the U.S., most run their headquarters abroad. He pointed to Cisco and Microsoft-acquired Mavenir, Affirmed Networks and MetaSwitch as 5G core providers in the U.S.
“However, from a competitive standpoint, Athonet competes globally against Nokia, Ericsson, Mavenir, Microsoft Azure, Cisco, etc., among others,” Filkins told Channel Futures. He described Athonet as “no slouch” in the wireless market. He calls the company’s customer base deep, though consisting of smaller customers. HPE said in an announcement that Athonet has performed 450 customer deployments in various verticals. Athonet’s customers include SpaceX, which uses a private cellular network in Antarctica.
Filkins called the Athonet technology offerings “relatively advanced for 5G.” For example, the cloud-native 5G core meets almost all of 3GPP‘s listed functions. He also said Athonet’s core augments HPE’s 5G core offerings.
“The cloud-native part means it can be deployed fully on-site, fully in the cloud, or in a hybrid format. This should cover any scenario the customer wants. [Athonet] has specialized in selling mobile core software to enterprises, and smaller, regional operations for years. It knows the needs of the enterprise well,” Filkins said.
Athonet CEO and co-founder Gianluca Verin said his team looks forward to joining HPE. Moreover, he said he wants to enhance HPE’s goal of being “the leading edge-to-cloud solutions provider.” Verin worked in support and solution engineer positions at Ericsson for eight years before starting Athonet.
HPE’s GreenLake edge-to-cloud services platform will host the private 5G service. HPE executives have said GreenLake as-a-service consumption model will “simplify” enterprises’ entrance into 5G and lower risk.
“I think this is an important step HPE is taking. For the most part, private 5G and Wi-Fi networks have been offered as point solutions, but HPE/Aruba intend to do the ‘under-the-hood’ work to make them as integrated as possible, which is what enterprise customers want,” Filkins said.
In December, HPE said 80% of its top 100 customers have adopted the GreenLake platform. The vendor is also equipping Aruba partners to deliver its network-as-a-service offering.
When HPE unveiled a private 5G offering one year ago, an executive said HPE preferred to go to market though system integrators, telcos and service providers rather than straight to the enterprise. HPE’s telco business serves 300 customers across the world, the company said.
Communications Minister: India to be major telecom technology exporter in 3 years with its 4G/5G technology stack
Despite being very late to deploy 5G due to tardy licensed spectrum auctions, and with no known indigenous 5G network equipment vendors, India’s Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw believes the country’s indigenous 4G/5G technology stack is “now ready” and the country is poised to emerge as a major telecom technology exporter to the world in the coming three years. Speaking at the Economic Times Global Business Summit 2023, Vaishnaw, who is also the Minister for Railways, categorically said there is no program for the privatization of the national transporter.
The 5G services were launched on October 1, 2022, and within a span of 100 days have been rolled out in 200-plus cities. The sheer speed of rollout has been appreciated by industry leaders globally and is being described in many international forums as the “fastest deployment happening anywhere in the world,” he said. Vaishnaw highlighted the population-scale solutions being tested on India stack, across platforms such as payments, healthcare and identity. Each of these platforms is powerful in itself, but together become a dynamic force that can solve “any major problem in the world.”
The minister said India is set to emerge as a telecom technology exporter to the world in the next three years. “Today there are two Indian companies that are exporting to the world…telecom gear. In the coming three years, we will see India as a major telecom technology exporter in the world,” Vaishnaw said.
The minister talked of the rapid strides taken by India in developing its own 4G and 5G technology stack, a feat that caught the attention of the world. “The stack is now ready. It was initially tested for 1 million simultaneous calls, then for 5 million, and now it has been tested for 10 million simultaneous calls,” he said terming it a “phenomenal success.” At least 9-10 countries want to try it out, he added.
The minister gave a presentation outlining key initiatives under his three ministries of telecom, IT and Railways. For Railways, the focus is on transforming passenger experience, he said as he presented slides on how railways is redeveloping stations and terminals (New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Jaipur among others) with modern and futuristic design blueprint, and in the process creating new urban spaces while also preserving rich heritage.
The minister also gave an overview on the Vande Bharat train, the indigenous train protection system Kavach and progress on the bullet train project. To a question on the past talks around private freight rail corridors to boost logistics, the minister said “there is no program for Railway privatization.” “In a country where we have 1.35 billion people, 8 billion people moving every year on Railways, we thought that it is prudent to learn from the experience of others, and keep it within the Government set-up,” Vaishnaw said.
India’s Communications Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw (Photo Credit: PT)
To another query on dedicated freight corridor for food grains, the minister explained that when it comes to transport economics it is important not to divide assets between different applications.
“Today, the thought process has got very refined, and we are adding close to 4500 km of network every year, which amounts to 12 km of new tracks per day. So we have to increase the capacity to such a large extent that there is enough capacity for food grains, enough for coal, small parcels, and every kind of cargo,” he said. While Railways had been consistently losing market share over the last 50-60 years, it has started clawing it back.
“The lowest point was 27 per cent. I am happy to share that from the 27 per cent level, last year Railways increased to 28 per cent, this year we are doing close to 29-29.5 per cent, and in the coming 2-3 years Railways will go towards 35 per cent market share,” he added.
People will choose between transport via road, railways or air based on the distance to be travelled, and “there will be enough for everybody”. “The country will have enough for everybody, is my point. Up to 250 kilometres road is very good, 250 to 1000 kilometres railway is the ideal mode. Beyond 1000 kilometres air will be the ideal mode. So there will be enough for everybody,” the minister said.
Highlights of Qualcomm 5G Fixed Wireless Access Platform Gen 3; FWA and Cisco converged mobile core network
With 5G deployed in more than 90 countries globally, network operators are increasingly considering 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) to enable more homes and businesses can connect and enjoy the power of connected broadband experiences.
This week, Qualcomm unveiled its 5G Fixed Wireless Access Platform Gen 3, the world’s first fully-integrated 5G advanced-ready FWA platform. Besides benefitting from Snapdragon X75 capabilities, Qualcomm FWA Gen 3 key features include:
- Extended-range mmWave and Sub-6 GHz
- Qualcomm Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 with expert Multi-Link operation for blazing-fast lower latency, reliable connections, and mesh capability for seamless coverage
- Quad-core central processing unit (CPU) and hardware acceleration boosts
- Self-install capabilities facilitated by Qualcomm Dynamic Antenna Steering technology
- Qualcomm RF Sensing Suite to enable indoor mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) deployments
- Support for 5G Dual-SIM Dual Active (DSDA) and Dual-SIM Dual Standby (DSDS) configurations
Qualcomm FWA Gen 3 is claimed to be the world’s first fully-integrated 5G advanced (???)-ready FWA platform, which includes support for Sub-6 GHz, mmWave, and Wi-Fi 7 connectivity, and boosted with quad-core CPU and hardware acceleration to drive a wide range of applications and value-added services.
The new platform features:
- The recently announced Snapdragon X75 5G Modem-RF, enabling breakthrough 5G performance to achieve unmatched speeds, coverage, and link robustness
- Qualcomm QTM567 mmWave Antenna Module, providing reliable and extended mmWave coverage
- Wi-Fi 7 with 10Gb ethernet, delivering multi-gigabit speeds and wire-like latency to virtually every device in the home
- Converged mmWave-sub 6 hardware architecture, reducing footprint, cost, board complexity, and power consumption
These capabilities will help OEMs accelerate time to launch, improve performance, and lower development effort for building cutting-edge FWA CPEs at scale. The Qualcomm FWA Gen 3 provides a fully-integrated solution that enables product development for multiple mobile broadband product categories and enables OEMs to offer a diverse product portfolio to their customers.
Qualcomm FWA Gen 3 includes the following features:
- Increased coverage through extended range mmWave and extended-range sub-6GHz with eight receiver antennas and support for power class 1.5 (PC 1.5)
- Enhanced self-install capabilities with Qualcomm Dynamic Antenna Steering Gen2
- Qualcomm RF Sensing Suite to help accelerate indoor mmWave CPEs deployments
- Flexible software architecture with support for multiple frameworks, including OpenWRT and RDK-B
- The Qualcomm FWA Gen 3 encapsulates the next-gen modem-RF system technologies intended to springboard 5G forward with superior 5G speeds and flexibility. This breakthrough connectivity is enabled by several capabilities including:
- Unrivalled spectrum aggregation
- Multi-Gigabit speed
- Improved uplink coverage with FDD uplink MIMO and uplink carrier aggregation (CA)
- Significant performance increase with Wi-Fi 7 advanced features:
- Tri-Band support in the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz spectrum bands with 320MHz and 4K QAM modulation
- Multi-Link technology enabling lower latency in heavily congested home environments
With WiFi 7 (IEEE 802.11be) and 5G connectivity, the platform offers consumers a faster and more reliable internet connection in the home. They can tap into the increased capacity and bandwidth offered by Wi-Fi and 5G to deliver multi-gigabit speeds, enabling consumers to connect all their devices and enjoy improved user experiences.
Learn more about Fixed Wireless Access and its benefits here and here. Additionally, check out more on our latest Snapdragon X75 5G Modem-RF System enabling this technology here. Solutions such as this, powered by our one technology roadmap, including foundational 5G technologies, further position Qualcomm as the edge partner of choice for the cloud economy. Qualcomm makes an intelligently connected world possible.
FWA and a Converged Mobile Core Network:
In a blog post today, Matt Price of Cisco states that FWA is a great tool for reducing the digital divide when it comes to accessibility and affordability. The economics for providing Internet services were in need of a change and FWA offers some good ones – reducing trenching requirements, increasing serviceable area, offering self-install customer equipment (CPE), and even providing a common wireless network architecture that can serve both Fixed Wireless Access and Mobile Access services. To achieve these goals, Cisco strongly recommends 5G service providers deploy 5G SA core networks, which the vendor has implemented as a converged 4G/5G core for T-Mobile US.
Other carriers, like Verizon [1.] have deployed a 5G NSA FWA network.
Note 1. Verizon has increasingly come to view FWA as an integral part of their broadband access offering everywhere that FiOS isn’t available. At the same time, the telco has argued (with increasing confidence) that the often-assumed capacity constraints on FWA are not only addressable, but that they are not an issue. Verizon views 5G FWA as a major growth opportunity- much more so than 5G mobile services, according to Sowmyanarayan Sampath, Executive Vice President and CEO of Verizon Business. It’s also interesting that Telkom in South Africa and Safaricom in Kenya have deployed 5G NSA networks for FWA but NOT yet for 5G mobile service.
5G SA’s network architecture can flexibly deploy User Plane Function (UPF) nodes to anchor a FWA subscriber’s user plane traffic for peering at the nearest edge aggregation point. Unlike a typical mobile device such as a cell phone, fixed wireless devices are meant to be always-on and connected for serving end user devices. Meaning that the latency and reliability we commonly expect from traditional wireline services is expected from fixed wireless services too.
In 2022, T-Mobile US became the fastest growing U.S. Internet Service Provider—doubling their number of FWA customers in the past six months. With over 2 million FWA subscribers and counting, the scalability and flexibility of having a Converged Core has proven invaluable to T-Mobile. Being able to deploy UPF nodes for Fixed Wireless Access in remote locations while managing the Session Management Function (SMF) nodes at a central site(s) is effective for scaling the network, optimizing the usage of the transport infrastructure to deliver better end-user latency.
Scaling and extending Fixed Wireless Access with the flexible deployment of UPF nodes, optimizing the routing for user plane traffic. Source: Cisco
It’s estimated that around 70% of communication service providers today offer a form of Fixed Wireless Access services, most of them still using 4G LTE, which delivers a fraction of the performance of fiber. Upgrading network architectures to meet the needs of new 5G services needs a smooth plan for the transition. Cisco believes that can begin in the mobile core network. With a Converged 4G/5G Core, communication service providers can migrate from 4G to 5G without disruption while scaling to serve the needs of millions of new subscribers.
For More Information:
Learn more about the Cisco Converged Core, and how we are helping rural communities bridge the digital divide. Find out how T-Mobile and Cisco Launched the World’s Largest Cloud Native Converged Core Gateway, read the December 2022 press release.
Next-level connectivity: Unveiling our new 5G FWA Platform | Qualcomm
Ericsson: Over 300 million Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) connections by 2028
Research & Markets: 5G FWA Global Market to hit $38.17B by 2026 for a CAGR of 87.1%
Dell’Oro: FWA revenues on track to advance 35% in 2022 led by North America
JC Market Research: 5G FWA market to reach $21.7 billion in 2029 for a CAGR of 65.6%
5G FWA launched by South Africa’s Telkom, rather than 5G Mobile
Nokia and Kyndryl extend partnership to deliver 4G/5G private networks and MEC to manufacturing companies
Following their first partnership one year ago, Nokia and Kyndryl have extended it for three years after acquiring more than 100 customers for automating factories using 4G/5G private wireless networks as well as multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies. Nokia is one of the few companies that have been able to get any traction in the private 4G/5G business which is expected to grow by billions of dollars every year. The size of the global private 5G network market is expected to reach $41.02 billion by 2030 from 1.38 billion in 2021, according to a study by Grand View Research.
The companies said some customers were now coming back to put private networks into more of their factories after the initial one. “We grew the business significantly last year with the number of customers and number of networks,” Chris Johnson, head of Nokia’s enterprise business, told Reuters.
According to the companies, 90% of those engagements—which span “from advisory or testing, to piloting, to full implementation”—are with manufacturing firms. In Dow Chemical’s Freeport, Texas, manufacturing facility which is leveraging a private LTE network using CBRS frequencies to cover 40 production plants over 50-square-kilometers. The private wireless network increased worker safety, enabled remote audio and video collaboration, personnel tracking, and vehicle telematics, the companies said. Dow Chemical is now planning to expand the same coverage to dozens of its factories, said Paul Savill, Kyndryl’s [1.] global practice leader. “Our pipeline has been growing fundamentally faster than it has been in the last 12 months,” he said. “We now have over 100 customers that we’re working with in the private wireless space … in around 24 different countries.”
Note 1. After getting spun off from IBM in 2021, Kyndryl has focused on building its wireless network business and has signed several agreements with cloud providers.
The current active engagements are across more than 24 countries, including markets like the U.S. where regulators have set aside spectrum assets for direct use by enterprises; this means it’s increasingly possible for buyers to access spectrum without the involvement of mobile network operators.
“As enterprises seek to accelerate and deliver on their journeys towards Industry 4.0 and digitalization, the effective integration and deployment of advanced LTE and 5G private wireless networking technologies becomes instrumental to integrate all enterprise operations in a seamless, reliable, efficient and built in a secure manner,” said Alejandro Cadenas, Associate Vice President of Telco and Mobility Research at IDC. “This expanding, powerful, relationship between Nokia and Kyndryl is a unique combination of vertical and horizontal capabilities, and offers IT, OT and business leaders access to the innovation, tools, and expert resources they need to digitally transform their operations. The partnership offers a compelling shared vision and execution that will enable customers across all industries and geographies to access the ingredients they need to deliver against the promise of digital acceleration, powered by network and edge computing.”
The expanded effort will be enhanced with Kyndryl’s achievement of Nokia Digital Automation Cloud (DAC) Advanced accreditation status, which helps ensure that enterprise customers benefit from an expanded lineup of expert resources and skilled practitioners who have extensive training and deep understanding of Nokia products and solutions. In addition, customers will gain access to Kyndryl’s accelerated network deployment capabilities and support of Nokia cellular radio expertise in selected markets.
In response to a question about how direct enterprise access to spectrum has informed market-by-market activity, Kyndryl Global Practice Leader of Network and Edge Paul Savill told RCR Wireless News in a statement, “Spectrum availability is rapidly becoming less of a barrier, with governments allocating licensed spectrum for industrial use and the emergence of unlicensed wireless networking options (such as CBRS in the US, and MulteFire).”
The companies have also developed automated industrial drones that can monitor a site with different kinds of sensors such as identifying chemicals and video recognition as part of surveillance. While drones have not yet been deployed commercially yet, customers are showing interest in rugged, industrialized non-stop automated drone surveillance, Johnson said.
Hawaiian carrier Mobi to deploy a cloud-native 4G/5G core network as a fully managed service on AWS
Mobi, a leading wireless network provider in Hawaii, is now expanding into the continental United States and beyond. Mobi is one of only four full mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in the United States. According to Mike Dano of Light Reading, they have approximately 55,000 customers.
To support a cost-effective, scalable and innovation-friendly expansion strategy, Mobi partnered with Oslo, Norway based Working Group Two (WG2) to move its core network to the cloud. The WG2 mobile core runs cloud-natively on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and empowers Mobi to build a compelling, app-first customer experience on the largest 5G nationwide network (which is assumed to be the AWS cloud native 5G core network). Mobi plans to use its nationwide capabilities to ensure that its Hawaiian customer base won’t need to sign up for another cellular network provider if they move to the continental U.S.
A pilot solution goes live today – January 17, 2022.
By choosing a scalable and flexible cloud architecture, Mobi can offer more competitive rates and faster time-to-market with new services. The Network-as-a-Service approach reduces the time it takes to develop and deploy new features and upgrades. In contrast to legacy solutions, which include only a few network updates per year, Mobi will benefit from continuous, daily upgrades. Further, with a mobile core from WG2 that is agnostic to any generation of wireless, Mobi can future-proof its network with no end-of-life and continuous maintenance and support.
With a programmable, cloud-native core, Mobi will gain unprecedented flexibility, and will realize significantly faster time-to-market with new services. Once the WG2 mobile core is integrated with the radio network, Mobi can leverage simple APIs to determine which services to activate for every SIM or user. The network is delivered fully as-a-service and the cost is based on consumption, defined by the number and type of users/SIM cards, changing as needs and traffic fluctuate. This allows for lower barriers of entry, and a core network that can scale from single users to hundreds of millions of users.
WG2 says their core offers a full MNO core for 4G and 5G, as well as a full MVNO functionality for 2G/3G. This allows operators to build full modern 4G/5G core networks while leveraging national roaming for 2G/3G where necessary. WG2’s 4G/5G/IMS mobile core network provides Mobi with a web-based portal, through which the company can quickly and easily manage existing services and offer new ones. The WG2 core offers the full set of capabilities related to authentication and provisioning, voice, messaging, and data services.
Justen Burdette, CEO of Mobi:
“Our ambition is to disrupt and challenge the status quo in the wireless industry by delivering a seamless, app-first, and engaging customer experience. By working with WG2 and AWS, we not only get access to a scalable, secure, and future-proof core network, we also improve our ability to meet the demands of our customers. It’s all about making it simple to join, affordable to use, and fun to explore what our network can offer. We’re building a brand that resonates with our customers by working with a strong ecosystem of partners.”
“We’re able to do a modern, cloud-based, AWS-focused core from WG2. It’s a sight to behold.”
“You have complete API [application programming interface] control of the core. That makes it really amazing for us because we built our stack around APIs.”
Erlend Prestgard, CEO of WG2:
“Mobi is a standout example of a carrier that’s ready to unlock the benefits of a network-as-a-service, achievable with a consistent, programmable mobile core running on the cloud. This allows them to go live in new geographical markets in record time. The simplicity of the as-a-service operating model means that Mobi can focus on meeting customer expectations and spend their time dreaming about innovation, rather than managing complexity. We’re truly excited about joining Mobi on this journey.”
Fabio Cerone, Managing Director EMEA, Telco Business Unit at AWS:
“Embracing the cloud helps carriers simplify network operations, deploy networks more rapidly, scale more easily – while still retaining full control over the network and gaining additional agility and innovation capabilities. Now the core network is only one API away from the global community of developers, which can help deliver new value for Mobi’s customers.”
As an app-first company, wholly focused on user experience, Mobi embraces an open, API-enabled core network approach. Access to WG2’s global ecosystem of developers offers Mobi a selection of pre-integrated, ready-to-deploy applications for voice, messaging and data services, built by WG2’s development partners from all over the world. Following the continental U.S. rollout, Mobi also plans to leverage the same model to expand to markets including Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Mobi, Inc. launched as the regional wireless provider for Hawaii in 2005 — becoming the first carrier in the United States to offer affordable, simple, unlimited mobile service at a time when activation, overage, and hidden fees were the norm. Anyone can switch to Mobi in just seconds using the Mobi app, Apple Pay, and eSIM — with smart, friendly Mobi customer care geeks ready to help at any time digitally and at Mobi stores in Hawaii. All Mobi team members are proudly represented by the Communications Workers of America (the CWA). Learn more at mobi.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
About Working Group Two:
Working Group Two has rebuilt the mobile core for simplicity, innovation, and efficiency – leveraging the web-scale playbook and operating models. Today, Working Group Two innovation enables MVNO, MNO, and Private Network Operators a secure, scalable, and reliable telco connectivity backbone that scales across all generations of mobile technologies. Our mission is to create programmable mobile networks to allow our customers and their end users to create more valuable and useful products and services.
Working Group Two
+47 9909 0872
Rakuten Mobile in joint venture with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to expand 4G/5G network
Japanese wireless network operator Rakuten Mobile has established a new joint venture company in its domestic market with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to deploy base stations at existing power grid sites as it looks to further expand its 4G and 5G coverage in a more efficient way.
The new company, called Rakuten Mobile Infrastructure Solution, began operating in Tokyo on July 1st. The entity has an initial nominal value of ¥300m (approximately $2.2m), with Rakuten Mobile owning a 51% stake in the venture and TEPCO holding the remaining 49% stake, the operator said in a statement (available in Japanese here).
Rakuten Mobile Infrastructure Solution is set to contribute to the telco’s vision for a stable communication environment by enhancing the efficiency of maintaining base stations through effective use of public assets. The new company will also look to develop installation specifications for Rakuten Mobile’s base station equipment and manage installation-related works.
The Japanese telecom industry upstart, which already covers 96% of the Japanese population with its 4G service, noted it is using “some power assets” to further build out its network.
Through the new company, Rakuten Mobile plans to expand its 4G and 5G networks, boost the density of base station deployments and “strengthen the development of communication infrastructure with the aim of providing stable services”. As it will use the existing power assets of TEPCO for the purpose (alongside the power company’s construction capabilities and know-how), the telco believes it can “improve the cost efficiency of base station maintenance”.
This is not the first engagement for the two companies: In March 2018, Rakuten Mobile secured an agreement to make use of TEPCO’s steel towers, power distribution poles, building roofs and other infrastructure, just a few months before it began building its greenfield cellular network, and in 2019 was part of a broader mobile operator initiative with TEPCO related to power grid infrastructure sharing.
June 2022 Ericsson Mobility Report: 5G subscriptions increased by 70 million in Q1-2022 to reach 620 million
Ericsson new Mobility Report [1.] states that mobile network data traffic grew 10% between the 4th quarter of 2021 and the 1st quarter of 2022. For the year-over-year comparison, growth reached 40%. “In absolute numbers, this means that it has doubled in just two years (since Q1 2020),” the company wrote in its Mobility Report, released June 20th. “Over the long term, traffic growth is driven by both the rising number of smartphone subscriptions and an increasing average data volume per subscription, fueled primarily by increased viewing of video content,” the company added.
The figures are important considering that mobile network operators are rushing to add new spectrum to their networks while upgrading their networks to support 5G, especially 5G SA Core Network. Purchasing both spectrum and 5G equipment is expensive. In the US, for example, mobile network operators are collectively spending an estimated $275 billion to improve their networks with more spectrum, cell sites and 5G.
Note 1. The Ericsson Mobility Report started in 2011, when Ericsson decided to share data and insights openly to all those interested in understanding our industry’s development. Since then, the report and featured articles have seen a continuous evolution and an expanding scope.
Speaking during a webinar to discuss the report’s findings, Richard Möller, senior market analyst at Ericsson, noted that the number of 5G subscribers worldwide had been expected to reach 660 million by the end of 2021. It now seems that the figure was less than forecast: Ericsson is now saying that 5G subscriptions increased by 70 million in Q1 2022 to reach 620 million. The 40 million shortfall is due to changes in how China’s mobile operators are reporting their 5G subscriber figures. Indeed, it has become noticeable over the past year that the Chinese operators are starting to split out “5G package customers” from actual 5G network customers.
“Now we have official numbers and we’ve adjusted our estimates accordingly,” Möller said. “China is early and so large that it affects the global number.” He noted that this adjustment does not “materially affect” the five-year growth forecast. Ericsson is therefore sticking to its estimate of 4.4 billion 5G subscribers by the end of 2027, meaning that 5G will account for almost half of all mobile subscriptions by that point. 5G subscriber growth is expected to accelerate in 2022, reaching around one billion subscribers by the end of the year. The report noted that North America and North East Asia currently have the highest 5G subscription penetration, followed by the Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Western Europe. In 2027, it is projected that North America will have the highest 5G penetration at 90%. In India, where 5G deployments have yet to begin, 5G is expected to account for nearly 40% of all subscriptions by 2027.
At the same time, Möller warned that the war in Ukraine, supply chain constraints and rising inflation will affect future growth. “That’s made us take 100 million subscriptions off the current forecast. However, history has shown that mobile telephony is one of the things that people hang on to … even if the economic world turns negative,” he said.
The report’s executive editor Peter Jonsson said the current uncertainties mean that Ericsson has to be especially careful with its forecasts. However, he reiterated the point that global 5G uptake “is about two years ahead of 4G” on a comparative basis. In addition, 5G rollout “reached 25% of the world’s population about 18 months faster than 4G.”
Global mobile network data traffic and year-over-year growth:
According to Ericsson, mobile subscribers are making use of the additional network capacity and faster speeds provided by those investments. The company said that, globally, the average smartphone user is expected to consume 15GB per month in 2022. Indeed, the 5G share of mobile data traffic is growing, but not as fast as FWA (3G/4G/5G). Continued strong smartphone adoption and video consumption are driving up mobile data traffic, with 5G accounting for around 10 percent of the total in 2021.
In North America, the company estimated that average monthly mobile data usage per smartphone could reach as high as 52GB in 2027. “The data traffic generated per minute of use will increase significantly in line with the expected uptake of new XR and video-based apps,” the company wrote. “This is due to higher video resolutions, increased uplink traffic, and more data from devices off-loaded to cloud compute resources.”
Also, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) in on the rise as per this graphic:
Over 100 million FWA connections in 2022:
More than 75 percent of service providers surveyed in over 100 countries are offering fixed wireless access (FWA) services. Around 20 percent of these service providers apply differential pricing with speed-based tariff plans.
OpenVault, another vendor that tracks data traffic on wired networks in North America, recently reported similar findings. According to OpenVault, the average wired Internet customer consumed a total of 536.3GB in the fourth quarter of 2021, an increase of 165% over the firm’s findings from the fourth quarter of 2017, when consumption was 202.6GB.
Taken together, the companies’ findings paint a picture of a dramatic expansion in data demand on wired and wireless networks in North America and globally. Indeed, such increases have already sparked unprecedented demand in vendors’ networking equipment to keep pace with demands. Further, such demand has already withstood several price increases among many leading vendors.
The situation reflects the importance of telecom networks globally following a pandemic that pushed many to work and school remotely from home. And in response to the situation, governments globally have begun pushing network operators to construct networks in underserved areas, and to Internet users themselves who may struggle to afford such connections.
Will 2022 be the year for 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) or a conundrum for telcos?
In India: What if Jio, Vi, and Airtel Skip 5G and Focus on 4G?
Telcos worldwide have already spent billions of dollars on setting up infrastructure, permissions, spectrum, and more for 4G and it is also bringing them plenty of revenues. While 5G will open up a whole new revenue stream from the enterprise sector, are the telcos really desperate for it? India has yet to hold its first 5G auction which has been repeatedly delayed.
Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea (Vi), and Bharti Airtel are the only three PAN-India 4G operators in India right now. All the telcos have hundreds of millions of users in their subscriber base to whom they provide 4G network services. There are 2G users as well, but that’s a conversation for another day. Today, what I want to talk about is what if Jio, Vi, and Airtel don’t roll out 5G and just focus on 4G? Note that I very well know this isn’t going to happen. However, I couldn’t help but wonder, what if the telcos just went on with their usual 4G network services and didn’t care about 5G because of the steep spectrum price and the decision of the government to allow the enterprises to get airwaves directly in an administrative manner for captive private networks?
To be very honest, 5G doesn’t seem like the biggest deal-breaker for the telcos right now. From an investor perspective, the kind of expenditure that 5G would entail in 2022, factoring in spectrum price, among other things, doesn’t feel like a very solid option for Jio, Vi, or Airtel. Not to forget, Vi doesn’t even have the capacity to make large investments for 5G in the first place. Expenditure is not the issue; RoI (return on investment) is!
But one thing’s proven for the telecom operators – revenues from 4G networks. They have already spent billions of dollars on setting up infrastructure, permissions, spectrum, and more for 4G, and it is also bringing them plenty of money. While 5G will open up a whole new revenue stream from the enterprise sector, are the telcos really desperate for it? Well, I would argue not, despite fully acknowledging the fact that all the private companies just want to make more money. So, what will happen if the telcos really don’t go for 5G? Let’s take a look at the negatives first.
The most obvious thing would be that consumers won’t get to see 5G anytime this year in any part of the nation. Second, enterprises would be very unhappy as not all of them might be looking to get the airwaves directly for setting up private 5G networks. Third, it would potentially affect the sales of 5G smartphones. Fourth, India will be left even further behind other nations in 5G network technology.
A delayed 5G rollout would mean that more users would start owning 5G smartphones over the long horizon and when telcos do launch 5G, it will be a more than ready market for them to monetise through retail consumers. Second, the industry and the government would get more time to sort through policies and the telcos would get sufficient room to set up a denser infrastructure.
Moreover, the telecom industry can upskill more people with knowledge about technologies such as 5G, AI, ML, and more which are going to be very relevant.
Again, it is unlikely that the telcos will miss out on 5G this year. But even if they do, I don’t think it is that big of an issue both from a consumer and an investor’s point of view. A seamless 4G experience is still something Indian consumers crave for! Hopefully, that is sorted along with the 5G rollout.