Counterpoint Research: Ericsson and Nokia lead in 5G SA Core Network Deployments

There was steady growth in 5G network coverage in 2022, with the number of subscribers reaching almost 1 billion worldwide. Although most of the 5G deployments in 2022 were in the developed economies of the world, Counterpoint Research expects that the bulk of 5G network roll outs in 2023 will be in emerging markets. This will drive the continuing transition from 5G NSA to 5G SA.   To date, 42 network operators have deployed 5G SA commercially.

Counterpoint Research ‘s recently published 5G SA Tracker is a culmination of an extensive study of the 5G SA market. It provides details of all operators with 5G SA cores in commercial operation at the end of 2022, with market share by region, vendor and by frequency band.  As shown in Exhibit 1, the Asia-Pacific region led the world at the end of 2022, followed by North America and Europe, with the other regions – Middle East and Africa and Latin America – lagging behind.

Key Points:

Key points discussed in the report include:

  • Operators – 42 operators have deployed 5G SA commercially [1.] with many more testing and in trials. Most of the deployments are in the developed economies of the world with those in emerging economies lagging. In some markets, operators have adopted a “wait-and-see” approach and are looking for evidence of successful use cases before switching from 5G NSA to SA. The ongoing economic headwinds might also delay commercial deployment of SA particularly during the first half of 2023.

Note 1. By the end of 2022, Dell’Oro Group had identified 39 MNOs that had deployed 5G SA eMMB networks.

  • Vendors Ericsson and Nokia lead the 5G SA Core market globally and are benefiting from the geopolitical sanctions on Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE in some markets. Asian vendors Samsung and NEC are mainly focused on their respective domestic markets, but and are expanding their reach to Tier-2 operators and emerging markets, while US vendor Mavenir is active across all regions, with multiple deployments due to become live in 2023, including several with Tier-1 operators.
  • Spectrum – most operators are deploying 5G in mid-band frequencies, for example, n78, as it provides faster speeds and good coverage. A small number of operators have also launched commercial services in the sub-1GHz and millimetre wave bands. FWA seems to be the most popular use case at present but there is a lot of interest in edge services and network slicing as well.

Report Overview:

Counterpoint Research’s 5G SA Core Tracker, January 2023 tracker provides an overview of the 5G Standalone (SA) market, highlighting the key trends and drivers shaping the market, plus details of commercial launches by vendor, by region and by frequency band. In addition, the tracker provides details about the 5G SA vendor ecosystem split into two categories: public operator and private network markets.

Table of Contents:

  • Overview
  • Market Update
  • 5G SA Market Deployments
    • Commercial Deployment by Operators
    • Network Engagements by Region
    • Network Engagements by Deployments Status
    • Leading 5G Core Vendors
    • Mobile Core Vendor Ecosystem
    • 5G Core Vendors Market Landscape
  • Outlook

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

During  its recent Q4 2022 earnings call, Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark was asked about 5G SA core networks. Lundmark said, “Obviously 5G standalone is now the name of the game because you need 5G standalone in terms of getting the full benefits of 5G. There is going to be a lot of investment in 5G core, and operators will be implementing some critical important services like slicing, which require investment in the 5G core.”

That’s an understatement because 5G SA is needed to realize 3GPP defined 5G features and functions, like security and network slicing.  5G NSA, which is mostly deployed today, is actually 4G with 3GPP 5G-NR for the RAN.

References:

Counterpoint Research – 5G SA Core Deployments Rise to 42 in 2022, Ericsson leads the Market followed by Nokia

Update on 5G Stand-Alone (SA) Core Networks

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network & MEC revenues to be > $50 billion by 2027

Global Data: Wireless telcos don’t know how to market 5G SA

Omdia and Ericsson on telco transitioning to cloud native network functions (CNFs) and 5G SA core networks

Why are 5G SA Core networks taking so long to be commercially deployed?

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network market driven by 5G SA networks in China

Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Market—A Look into 2023

Mobile Core Network (MCN) growth to slow due to slow roll-out of 5G SA networks

 

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

Ericsson, Intel and Microsoft  successfully demonstrating end-to-end 5G standalone (SA) network slicing capabilities on a Windows laptop at Ericsson’s Lab in Sweden. This pioneering trial demonstrates the applicability of the technology on devices beyond smartphones, paving the way for new business/enterprise opportunities and for consumer use cases such as mobile gaming and collaboration applications for 5G cellular-connected laptops.

The trial used User Equipment Route Selection Policy (URSP), which enables devices to automatically select between different slices according to which application they are using. It also used Ericsson’s Dynamic Network Slicing Selection, Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core, and Ericsson’s RAN Slicing capabilities to ‘secure end-user service differentiation.’

Network slicing has long been seen as vital to capturing the value that a 5G network can provide for communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprises. The market for network slicing alone in the enterprise segment is projected at USD 300 billion by 2025, according to the GSMA. By demonstrating a single Windows 11 device can make use of multiple slices, which are used according to the on-device usage profiles and network policies defined at the CSP level, the partners show the flexibility and range of potential use cases available using this technology.

This trial illustrates the opportunities for 5G monetization beyond smartphone devices and opens the door to a wider 5G device ecosystem, allowing CSPs and other members of the telecoms and IT world to expand their horizons when considering opportunities to generate profitable use cases for 5G. Laptop type devices, in particular, are vital to enterprise productivity. The inclusion of Windows 11 laptops in the ranks of devices that can be used for commercializing 5G network slicing is a sign of the ecosystem maturing. Network slicing capabilities will benefit consumer and enterprise segments by defining specific Service Level Agreement per slice for existing and emerging Windows applications and use cases, such as real-time enterprise applications like Microsoft Teams and Office365, game/media streaming, and emerging AI and augmented reality/extended reality (AR/XR) applications.

Sibel Tombaz, Head of Product Line 5G RAN at Ericsson, said: “Expanding the range of devices for network slicing to include laptops will allow new business segments to create a variety of use cases for consumer and enterprises. We have shown, together with Intel and Microsoft, how ecosystem collaboration can open new possibilities. We will continue to strengthen Ericsson’s network slicing capabilities and work with industry partners to enable more applications on several devices, spreading the benefits of 5G in the consumer and enterprise segments.”

Ian LeGrow, Microsoft Corporate Vice-President of Core OS Innovation said: “We are thrilled to showcase our cutting-edge technology and its ability to deliver fast, dependable and secure 5G connectivity on Windows 11. Partnering with Intel and Ericsson only further solidifies our commitment to innovation and openness in our platform.”

This ground-breaking network slicing demo will be showcased jointly with Intel and Microsoft in the Ericsson Hall during MWC Barcelona 2023 from February 27 to March 2.

Andrew Wooden of telecoms.com wrote:

“There are so many tests and trials going on, and while technically seem to signal a bit of incremental progress each time, it can be easy to lose the context of what is supposed to be offered while digging around in the weeds of experimental telecoms architecture.  That said if trials like this can keep the emphasis on how they provide some extra money-making opportunities for those in the business of flogging 5G, and some genuine benefits for the rest of us, perhaps it will gain some traction when they show it off in Barcelona.”

Source: Viavi Solutions

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

References:

https://www.ericsson.com/en/news/2023/2/ericsson-intel-and-microsoft-show-network-slicing-capabilities-on-a-laptop-for-consumer-and-enterprise-applications

https://www.ericsson.com/en/network-slicing#dynamicnetworksliceselection

https://www.ericsson.com/en/core-network/5g-core

https://telecoms.com/519733/ericsson-intel-and-microsoft-slice-up-a-network-and-feed-it-to-a-laptop/

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

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

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

https://www.viavisolutions.com/en-us/5g-network-slicing

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

Update on 5G Stand-Alone (SA) Core Networks

Statista:

The type of 5G cores currently deployed remains dominated with about 75% of non-standalone (NSA) cores, or cores using the preexisting 4G network infrastructure. However, 5G standalone (SA) cores, which require more up-front costs and development yet may provide faster and more scalable connection, are forecast to outstrip NSAs and consist of 24 of the 49 5G core launches in 2022. All but one of the 5G launches announced for 2023 are standalone.

GSA:

Network Operators are increasingly experimenting with and deploying 5G standalone (SA) networks. With a totally new, cloud-based, virtualized, microservices-based core infrastructure, some of the anticipated benefits of introducing 5G SA technologies include faster connection times (lower latency), support for massive numbers of devices, programmable systems enabling faster and more-agile creation of services and network slices, with improved support for management of service-level agreements within those slices, and the advent of voice over New Radio (VoNR) technology. The introduction of 5G SA is expected to facilitate simplification of architectures, improve security and reduce costs.

The 5G SA technology is expected to enable customisation and open up new service and revenue opportunities tailored to enterprise, industrial and government customers.

GSA is tracking the emergence of the 5G SA system, including the availability of chipsets and devices for customers, plus the testing and deployment of 5G SA networks by public mobile network operators as well as private network operators. This report is the latest in an ongoing series summarizing market trends, drawing on data collected in GSA’s various databases covering chipsets, devices, spectrum and networks.

GSA has identified 112 operators in 52 countries and territories worldwide that have been investing in public 5G SA networks in the form of trials, planned or actual deployments . This equates to almost 21.7% of the 515 operators known to be investing in 5G licences, trials or deployments of any type.

At least 32 operators in 21 countries and territories are now understood to have launched public 5G SA networks, two of which have only soft-launched their 5G SA networks. In addition to these, 21 operators have been catalogued as deploying or piloting 5G SA for public networks, and 31 as planning to deploy the technology, showing that launches of 5G SA look set to continue apace. GSA has also recorded 19 operators as being involved in evaluations, tests or trials of 5G SA.

As of the last update in December 2022,  GSA had collated information about 955 organisations known to be deploying LTE or 5G private mobile networks.

Countries and territories with operators identified as investing in public 5G SA networks have been granted a licence suitable for the deployment of a private LTE or 5G network so far. Of those, 391 are known to be using 5G networks (excluding those labelled as 5G-ready) for private mobile network pilots or deployments. Of those, 41 (slightly more than 10% of them) are known to be working with 5G SA already. They include manufacturers, academic organizations, commercial research institutes, construction, communications and IT services, rail and aviation organizations.

Dell’Oro Group:

At the close of 2022, we identified 39 mobile network operators  that have commercially launched 5G SA eMMB networks.

References:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1330511/5g-core-deployments-worldwide-by-type/

5G Stand-Alone January-2023 Member Report

Mobile Core Network (MCN) growth to slow due to slow roll-out of 5G SA networks

 

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

Samsung Electronics and KDDI announced the successful demonstration of Service Level Agreements (SLA) assurance network slicing in a field trial conducted in Tokyo, Japan. For the first time in the industry, the companies proved their capabilities to generate multiple network slices using a RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) on a live commercial 5G Standalone (SA) network. The RIC, provided by Samsung in this field trial, is a software-based component of the Open RAN architecture that optimizes the radio resources of the RAN to improve the overall network quality.

Network slicing (which requires a 5G SA core network) enables multiple virtual networks to be created within a single physical network infrastructure, where each slice is dedicated for a specific application or service — serving different purposes. For instance, 5G SA network operators can create a low latency slice for automated vehicles, an IoT slice for smart factories and a high bandwidth slice for live video streaming — all within the same network. This means that a single 5G SA network can support a broad mix of use cases simultaneously, accelerating the delivery of new services and meeting the tailored demands of various enterprises and consumers.

“Network slicing will help us activate a wide range of services that require high performance and low latency, benefitting both consumers and businesses,” said Toshikazu Yokai, Managing Executive Officer, General Manager of Mobile Network Technical Development Division at KDDI. “Working with Samsung, we continue to deliver the most innovative technologies to enhance customer experiences.”

Through this field trial conducted in Q4 of 2022, KDDI and Samsung proved their capabilities of SLA assurance to generate multiple network slices that meet SLA requirements, guaranteeing specific performance parameters — such as low latency and high throughput — for each application. Samsung also proved the technical feasibility of multiple user equipment (UE)-based network slices with quality assurance using the RIC, which performs advanced control of RAN as defined by the O-RAN Alliance.

“Network slicing will open up countless opportunities, by allowing KDDI to offer tailor-made, high-performance connectivity, along with new capabilities and services, to its customers,” Junehee Lee, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “This demonstration is another meaningful step forward in our efforts to advance technological innovation and enrich network services. We’re excited to have accomplished this together with KDDI and look forward to continued collaboration.”

For more than a decade, the two companies have been working together, hitting major 5G networks milestones that include: KDDI’s selection of Samsung as a 5G network solutions provider, end-to-end 5G network slicing demonstration in the lab, 5G network rollout on 700MHz and the deployment of 5G vRAN on KDDI’s commercial network.

Samsung has pioneered the successful delivery of 5G end-to-end solutions including chipsets, radios and core. Through ongoing research and development, Samsung drives the industry to advance 5G networks with its market-leading product portfolio from virtualized RAN and Core to private network solutions and AI-powered automation tools. The company is currently providing network solutions to mobile operators that deliver connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.

References:

https://news.samsung.com/global/samsung-and-kddi-successfully-complete-sla-assurance-network-slicing-field-trial-on-a-live-5g-standalone-network

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

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

Deutsche Telekom demos end to end network slicing; plans ‘multivendor’ open RAN launch in 2023

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

Telefonica in 800 Gbps trial and network slicing pilot test

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

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

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network & MEC revenues to be > $50 billion by 2027

According to a recently published report from Dell’Oro Group,  the Mobile Core Networks (MCN) [1.] and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) market revenues are expected to reach over $50 billion by 2027.

Note 1.  The Mobile Core Network is in a transitional stage from 4G to 5G and a new type of core network called the 5G Core Service Based Architecture (SBA). The 5G Core SBA is designed to be a universal core that can be the core for mobile and fixed wireless networks, wireline networks, and Wi-Fi networks. This includes the ability to be the core for 2G/3G/4G, so only one core is necessary for the long term. In addition, the IMS Core will migrate into the 5G Core SBA.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

“The MNC and MEC market revenues are expected to grow at a  2 percent CAGR (2022-2027). We expect the MCN market for the China region to reach maturity first—due to its early start on 5G SA deployments—and is projected to have -4 percent CAGR throughout the forecast period,” stated Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group.

“The worldwide market, excluding China, is projected to have a 3 percent CAGR. The Asia Pacific (APAC) and the Europe, Middle, East, and Africa (EMEA) region are expected to have the highest CAGRs throughout the forecast period as MNOs accelerate the deployments of 5G SA networks and expand their respective coverage footprints.

“There were hopes early in the year that many more [SA networks] would be launched in 2022, but the hopes were lowered as the year progressed,” Bolan explained. At the close of 2022, Dell’Oro identified 39 MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) that have commercially launched 5G SA eMMB networks.

“Reliance Jio, China Telecom-Macau, and Globe Telecom were new MNOs added to the list of 39 MNOs launching 5G SA eMMB networks in the fourth quarter of 2022. Reliance Jio has announced a very aggressive deployment schedule to cover most of India by the end of 2023. In addition, AT&T and Verizon plan large expansions to their 5G SA coverage in 2023, raising the projected Y/Y growth rate for the total MCN and MEC market for 2023 higher than 2022,” added Bolan.

Additional highlights from the January 2023 MCN and MEC 5-Year forecast report:

  • The MEC segment of the MCN market will have the highest CAGR, followed by the 5G MCN market and the IMS Core market.
  • As networks migrate to 5G SA, the 4G MCN market is expected to decline at a double-digit percentage CAGR.

About the Report:

The Dell’Oro Group Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Computing Quarterly Report offers complete, in-depth coverage of the market with tables covering manufacturers’ revenue, shipments, and average selling prices for Evolved Packet Core, 5G Packet Core, Policy, Subscriber Data Management, and IMS Core including licenses by Non-NFV and NFV, and by geographic regions. To purchase this report, please contact us at [email protected].

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

From Deloitte:

“The coming migration to 5G standalone core networks is expected to allow for increased device density, reliability, and latency, opening the door to advanced enterprise applications,” according to several analysts from Deloitte’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications industry group.

“5G SA’s big attraction for MNOs are the new service and revenue opportunities it creates, Along with near-zero latency and massive device density, 5G SA enables MNOs to provide customers – specifically enterprise customers – access at scale to fiber-like speeds, mission-critical reliability, precise location services, and tailored network slices with guaranteed service levels.”

Deloitte expects the number of mobile network operators investing in 5G SA networks – with trials, planned deployments, or rollouts – to double from more than 100 operators in 2022 to at least 200 by the end of 2023.

References:

Mobile Core Network Market to Reach over $50 billion by 2027, According to Dell’Oro Group

Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Computing

 

https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/industry/technology/technology-media-and-telecom-predictions/2023/technology-media-and-telecom-predictions-standalone-5g.html

Mobile Core Network (MCN) growth to slow due to slow roll-out of 5G SA networks

Dell’Oro: Mobile Core Network market driven by 5G SA networks in China

The slow march to standalone 5G

Why is 5G SA taking so long?

Tech Mahindra and Microsoft partner to bring cloud-native 5G SA core network to global telcos

India’s Tech Mahindra and Microsoft have announced a collaboration to enable cloud-powered 5G SA core network for telecom operators worldwide.  As a part of the collaboration, Tech Mahindra will provide its expertise, comprehensive solutions, and managed services offerings to telecom operators for their 5G SA Core networks. Tech Mahindra will provide its expertise like “Network Cloudification as a Service” and AIOps to global telecom operators for their 5G Core networks. AIOps will help operators combine big data and machine learning to automate network operations processes, including anomaly detection, predicting fault and performance issues.

CP Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra said, “Today, it is critical to leverage next-gen technologies to build relevant and resilient services and solutions for customers across the globe. At Tech Mahindra, we are well-positioned to help telecom operators realize the full potential of their networks and provide innovative and agile services to their customers while also helping them meet their ESG commitments. Our collaboration with Microsoft will further strengthen our service portfolio by combining our deep expertise across the telecom industry with Microsoft Cloud. Further to this collaboration, Tech Mahindra and Microsoft will work together to help telecom operators simplify and transform their operations in order to build green and secure networks by leveraging the power of cloud technologies.  At Tech Mahindra, we are well-positioned to help telecom operators realize the full potential of their networks and provide innovative and agile services to their customers while also helping them meet their ESG commitments.”

Tech Mahindra believes the 5G core network will enable use cases such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), IoT (Internet of Things, and edge computing. Of course, 5G URLLC performance requirements, especially ultra low latency, in the RAN and core network must be met first, which they are not at this time.  The company will leverage the Microsoft Azure cloud for its sustainability solution iSustain to measure and monitor KPIs across all three aspects of E, S & G. iSustain will help operators address the challenge of measuring and reducing carbon emissions from the networks while meeting demands of the countless energy intense digital technologies, from AR/ VR to IoT.

Anant Maheshwari, President, Microsoft India said, “Harnessing the power of Microsoft Azure, telecom operators can provide more flexibility and scalability, save infrastructure cost, use AI to automate operations, and differentiate their customer offerings. The collaboration between Tech Mahindra and Microsoft will help our customers build green and secured networks with seamless experiences across the Microsoft cloud and the operator’s network.  Azure provides operators with cloud solutions that enable them to create new revenue generating services and move existing services to the cloud. Through our collaboration with Tech MahindraMicrosoft will further help telcos overcome challenges, drive innovation and build green and secured networks that provide seamless experiences by leveraging the power of Microsoft Cloud for Operators.”

The partnership is in line with Tech Mahindra’s NXT.NOWTM framework, which aims to enhance the ‘Human Centric Experience’, Tech Mahindra focuses on investing in emerging technologies and solutions that enable digital transformation and meet the evolving needs of the customer.

About Tech Mahindra:

Tech Mahindra offers innovative and customer-centric digital experiences, enabling enterprises, associates and the society to Rise. We are a USD 6 billion organization with 163,000+ professionals across 90 countries helping 1279 global customers, including Fortune 500 companies. We are focused on leveraging next-generation technologies including 5G, Blockchain, Metaverse, Quantum Computing, Cybersecurity, Artificial Intelligence, and more, to enable end-to-end digital transformation for global customers. Tech Mahindra is the only Indian company in the world to receive the HRH The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta Seal for its commitment to creating a sustainable future. We are the fastest growing brand in ‘brand strength’ and amongst the top 7 IT brands globally. With the NXT.NOWTM framework, Tech Mahindra aims to enhance ‘Human Centric Experience’ for our ecosystem and drive collaborative disruption with synergies arising from a robust portfolio of companies. Tech Mahindra aims at delivering tomorrow’s experiences today and believes that the ‘Future is Now.’

References:

https://news.microsoft.com/en-in/tech-mahindra-and-microsoft-join-hands-to-bring-cloud-powered-5g-core-network-modernization-to-telecom-partners/

Tech Mahindra: “We can build and run an entire 4G and 5G or any enterprise network”

Tech Mahindra: India Needs to Begin 5G Spectrum Auction Now!

5G is a big letdown and took a “back seat” at CES 2022; U.S. national spectrum policy in the works

It’s Not Just You: 5G Is a Big Letdown,” is the title of a Wall Street Journal on-line article published today (January 11, 2023).  Author Joanna Stern writes:

I turned off Verizon’s red down pointing triangle 5G on my iPhone—and barely noticed a difference. The 4G LTE performance and coverage felt just about the same.

Three years since the U.S. cellular carriers lit up their next-generation networks and promised to change the game, the game hasn’t changed. And if you’re among the millions of Americans who recently upgraded, you probably already know that. In 2022, 61% of U.S. cellular customers accessed 5G networks, according to Global Wireless Solutions, a network testing and research company.

On Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network, I got 500 Mbps down. But I didn’t notice a difference when streaming Netflix, watching TikTok, loading websites or sending messages. You don’t need a fire hose to extinguish a candle.

Where you might see a difference is during commuting hours and other times of heavy congestion, Chetan Sharma, a telecom-industry analyst, told me. A Verizon spokesman said that 5G’s higher data capacity helps at concerts, sporting events and other crowded areas where everyone is trying to download or upload photos or videos.

“As cars, smart home standards, and so many screens took center stage at this year’s [CES] show, 5G took a back seat,” concludes  a Verge article titled, “Where was 5G at CES?” “After years of hype, 5G was seemingly a no-show at CES 2023.”  The Verge article continues knocking 5G (and for good reason):

For starters, we’re all sick of hearing about it. And CES has a unique way of rallying around a technology one year and then leaving it for dead the next.

And there was always a time limit on 5G’s newsworthiness — at a certain point, when it becomes the prevailing wireless technology, it’s not going to be “5G the new thing;” it’ll just be “the internet you use when you’re not on Wi-Fi.”

More than any of the above, the time has passed where wireless CEOs feel they need to sell 5G to the general public (and, of course, their shareholders). It’s not a niche new service anymore; it’s the default option (in the U.S. at least). Basically every new phone sold on their shelves is 5G compatible, and mid-band 5G finally exists on all major carriers in large parts of the US. The next time you walk into a wireless store to buy a new phone or sign up for a new service, you’ll have a very hard time leaving without a 5G device and plan, regardless of whether you really wanted them.

So now we have 5G phones in our hands, 5G networks are here, and… not much has changed. Maybe web pages load a little faster — hardly robot surgery. What gives? The thing is, rolling out 5G is a long ongoing process. The hype made it seem like all the good stuff was just around the corner, but truthfully, it was (and still is) years and years away.

So yes, you may have a 5G icon on your phone, but the most transformative aspects of 5G are supposedly still in the works. That’s a tough message to sell in a flashy keynote, especially when everyone in the room has access to the technology you’re talking about.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

The IEEE Techblog in general, and this author in particular, have been pounding the table for years that 5G would be a colossal tech train wreck for these reasons:

1.  3GPP Release 16 URLLC in the RAN spec and performance testing have not been completed.  Hence the URLLC in 3GPP Release 15 and ITU M.2150 recommendation do not meet the critically important URLLC ITU M.2410 performance requirements for ultra high reliability or ultra low latency. Here is the latest status of URLLC in the RAN in the 3GPP Release 16 specification as of 6 January 2023:

–Physical Layer Enhancements for NR Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC) NR_L1enh_URLLC 1 Rel-16 R1 6/15/2018 12/22/2022 96% complete RP-19158

–UE Conformance Test Aspects – Physical Layer Enhancements for NR URLLC NR_L1enh_URLLC-UEConTest 2 Rel-16 R5 12/14/2020 12/22/2022 90% complete RP-202566 RP-221485

2.  There is no implementation standard for 5G SA Core network– only 3GPP reference architecture specs which list alternative implementation schemes, most of which are “cloud native.”  That resulted in a lot of telco confusion that delayed the roll out of 5G SA networks such that most 5G deployed today is NSA which uses 4G LTE core network and functions.  Dell’Oro Group’s Dave Bolan wrote in a white paper:

The 5G Core is the key to monetizing the 5G SA network bringing MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) into the modern cloud era, allowing the MNO to (1) offer new services quickly with Cloud-Native Network Functions, (2) add Network Slices on demand for mobile private networks, and (3) address latency-sensitive applications with MEC. These new opportunities cannot be addressed by 4G or 5G NSA networks, and the sooner an MNO embraces 5G SA networking, the closer it will be to reaping new revenue streams.

3.  ALL of the 3GPP defined 5G functions and features, require 5G SA Core network.  Those 5G functions include 5G security, network slicing, and automation/virtualization.  MEC also needs a 5G SA Core network to work efficiently with a 5G RAN.  There are relatively few 5G SA Core networks deployed and for those that are, there are few of the highly touted 5G functions available, e.g. T-Mobile is a case in point.

4.  There is no standard for roaming between 5G networks, especially not when there are different versions of 5G SA core networks- each requiring a different software download for 5G endpoint devices.  Hence, 5G is not truly mobile in the sense of portability.  5G is probably best used for FWA or local M2M/IoT communications where there are no roaming requirements.

5.  There is no standard for 5G Frequency Arrangements (ITU M.1036 revision 6) which are critically important for all the mmWave frequencies specified at WRC 19 for 5G, but frequency arrangements not yet agreed upon by ITU-R WP 5D.

6.  5G base station and endpoint device power consumption is very high, especially for the mmWave frequencies which deliver the fastest 5G speeds.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

5G in India:

Mike Dano of Light Reading writes that the U.S. is working on a national spectrum policy, presumably for 5G (and later) 6G.

The White House is working through the NTIA to develop a national spectrum strategy that would cover 5G, 6G and other spectrum users.

According to FierceWireless, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) chief Alan Davidson said that work would continue throughout this year.  Speaking at last week’s CES conference in Las Vegas, Davidson reminded the audience that the NTIA manages federal spectrum use and serves as the President’s advisor on spectrum policy.  That  means that the NTIA works together with the FCC to manage spectrum when a federal user is involved. From a practical perspective, the Department of Defense has historically held a lot of valuable spectrum for national security use, making the DoD an incumbent user in many spectrum bands.

 

Spectrum auction

The NTIA manages federal spectrum use and serves as the President’s advisor on spectrum policy. (Image Credit: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

In 2023 NTIA will be working with federal agency partners to develop a national spectrum strategy, which will provide a long-term plan to meet both commercial and federal spectrum needs.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said they’re taking stock of the agency’s spectrum usage in order to potentially release some for commercial uses, according to SpaceNews.  “It is an ongoing challenge.  We expect to have to fight for maintenance of spectrum. But at the same time, we realize we’re not going to win every fight,” said Steve Volz, NOAA Satellite and Information Service assistant administrator on January 11th at the American Meteorological Society meeting.

Spectrum for 5G and 6G is a critical national policy topic:

“Continuing to meet increasing consumer demand and expectations, ensure continued growth of the US economy, bridge the digital divide, and facilitate global leadership on next-generation technologies requires sufficient spectrum resources,” wrote the CTIA, the US wireless industry’s main trade association. “Accordingly, it is imperative that the commission continually replenish its pipeline of spectrum allocated for commercial mobile and fixed broadband services.”

“America needs a national strategy to make sure there is enough spectrum to build out 5G networks and not fall behind China,” wrote Mike Rogers, a former Congressional representative from Michigan who authored a report critical of China’s Huawei, in The Hill.

Joel Thayer, of the Digital Progress Institute, agreed. “If we cannot get our act together and follow an all-of-the-above spectrum strategy, we cede the race to 5G and even 6G to China. Full stop,” he wrote in The Hill.

Such arguments strongly echo the “race to 5G” rhetoric that was ubiquitous in policy circles in the early days of 5G.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/its-not-just-you-5g-is-a-big-letdown-11673441300

https://www.theverge.com/2023/1/7/23541118/5g-ces-2023-qualcomm-iot-wireless

https://www.lightreading.com/6g/amid-5g-gloom-wireless-industry-starts-rallying-for-6g-spectrum/d/d-id/782663?

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/ntia-develop-national-spectrum-strategy-2023

NOAA takes stock of spectrum amid ongoing challenges

Another Opinion: 5G Fails to Deliver on Promises and Potential

Cheerleading from 5G Americas contradicts disappointing financial results from 5G telcos

Ericsson expects RAN market to be flat with 5G build-out still in its early days; U.S. cellular industry growth to slow in 2023

Ookla: State of 5G Worldwide in 2022 & Countries Where 5G is Not Available

5G Core – The Key to Monetizing 5G Standalone Networks

SDx Central: 5G Disappoints at MWC 2021

Performance analysis of big 3 U.S. mobile operators; 5G is disappointing customers

 

Vodafone Germany plans to activate 2,700 new 5G cell sites in 1H 2023

Vodafone Germany plans to activate 2,700 new 5G cell sites with a total of 8,000 antennas in the first half of 2023, the telco said today in a press release.  The company has so far connected 80% of the German population with 5G. It has activated 5G at 12,000 sites with more than 36,000 antennas altogether.  For the 5G expansion, Vodafone Germany is relying on frequencies in the 3.6 GHz, 1.8 GHz and 700 MHz bands in large urban areas, residential areas and suburbs, and rural areas across Germany.

During 2022, Vodafone technicians commissioned 5,450 5G sites with more than 16,000 antennas. In total, Vodafone has already equipped 36,000 antennas with 5G, the company has said.  The network operator said its 5G network is already providing coverage to 65 million people across the country, representing nearly 80% of Germany’s population.

Vodafone Germany had previously noted that its 5G Standalone (SA) network is currently available to nearly 20 million people across Germany. Vodafone previously said that 5G SA technology will reach nationwide coverage by 2025. The German telco had already deployed over 3,000 base stations for the provision of 5G SA services.  Vodafone initially launched its 5G network in Germany in 2019, using 3.5 GHz frequencies that it acquired from Telefónica in 2018.

The telco also said it will continue to expand its LTE infrastructure across the country. Nationwide, Vodafone said it currently supplies around 98% of households with LTE.

“In 2023, Vodafone will bring the LTE mobile communications standard to even more people and to even more places: almost 1,900 expansion measures are pending in the first half of the year to set up new stations, carry out modernization work and install additional LTE antennas at existing stations,” Vodafone said.

“Together with Altice, Vodafone will start Germany’s largest fiber optic alliance in spring 2023, subject to the approval of the antitrust authorities. The goal is to supply up to 7 million households with new fiber optic connections in the next 6 years,” Vodafone added.

Vodafone Germany had recently successfully completed a field test with Open RAN (O-RAN) technology in Plauen, in the Saxony region.

The German carrier had recently announced that it will carry out comprehensive pilot projects for open 5G radio access networks at several locations in Germany. The first two stations for the operator’s O-RAN technology are located in rural Bavaria. The pilots are scheduled to start in early 2023 and mark the beginning of a broader deployment of O-RAN technology in Vodafone’s European mobile networks.

The pilot projects will use O-RAN hardware and software, which Vodafone successfully tested in the U.K. earlier this year. Samsung is currently supplying mobile technology and software for these O-RAN trials.

Separately, Vodafone has agreed to sell its Hungarian division for €1.7billion (£1.5billion) to local telecoms company 4iG and the Hungarian state.  The sale is expected to be completed this month, with the proceeds to be used to pay off some of Vodafone’s debt.

References:

Vodafone Germany aims to deploy 8,000 new 5G antennas in H1

Vodafone’s 5G network reaches 80% of German population

 

T-Mobile and Cisco launch cloud native 5G core gateway

T-Mobile US announced today that it has collaborated with Cisco to launch a first-of-its kind cloud native 5G core gateway.  T-Mobile has moved all of its 5G and 4G traffic to the new cloud native converged core which provides customers with  more than a 10% improvement in speeds and lower latency.  The new core gateway also allows T-Mobile to more quickly and easily test and deliver new 5G and IoT services, like network slicing and Voice over 5G (VoNR) thereby expediting time to market.

The T-Mobile US 5G SA core is based on Cisco’s cloud-native control plane that uses Kubernetes to orchestrate containers running on bare metal. The companies said this frees up more than 20% of the CPU cores.

It also uses Cisco’s 8000 Series routers, 5G and 4G LTE packet core gateways, its Unified Computing System (UCS) platform, and Cisco’s Nexus 9000 Series Switches that run the vendor’s Network Services Orchestrator for full-stack automation.

“T-Mobile customers already have access to the largest, most powerful 5G network in the country, and we’re innovating every day to supercharge their experience even further,” said Delan Beah, Senior Vice President of Core Network and Services Engineering at T-Mobile. “This cloud native core gateway takes our network to new heights, allowing us to push 5G forward by delivering next-level performance for consumers and businesses nationwide while setting the stage for new applications enabled by next-gen networks.”

With a fully automated converged core gateway, T-Mobile can simplify network functions across the cloud, edge and data centers to significantly reduce operational life cycle management. The increased efficiency is an immediate benefit for customers, providing them with even faster speeds. The new core is also more distributed than ever before, leading to lower latency and advancing capabilities like edge computing.

“Our strategic relationship with T-Mobile is rooted in co-innovation, with a shared vision to establish best practices for 5G and the Internet for the Future,” said Masum Mir, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cisco Networking Provider Mobility. “This is the type of network every operator aspires to. It will support the most advanced 5G applications for consumers and businesses today and enables T-Mobile to test and deliver new and emerging 5G and IoT applications with simplicity at scale.”

The fully automated converged core architecture is based on Cisco’s cloud native control plane, optimized with Kubernetes orchestrated containers on bare metal, freeing up over 20% of the CPU (Central Processing Unit) cores. The converged core solution uses a broad mix of Cisco’s flagship networking solutions including the Cisco 8000 Series routers, 5G and 4G packet core gateways, Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS), and Cisco Nexus 9000 Series Switches with Cisco Network Services Orchestrator for full stack automation.

T-Mobile is the U.S. leader in 5G, delivering the country’s largest, fastest and most reliable 5G network. The Un-carrier’s Extended Range 5G covers 323 million people across 1.9 million square miles – more than AT&T and Verizon combined. 260 million people nationwide are covered by T-Mobile’s super-fast Ultra Capacity 5G, and T-Mobile plans to reach 300 million people with Ultra Capacity next year.

For more information on T-Mobile’s network, visit: https://www.t-mobile.com/coverage/4g-lte-5g-networks.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

Cisco was part of T-Mobile US’ initial 5G SA core launch in 2020. This included the user plane, session management, and policy control functions. Those network functions run on Cisco servers, switching, and its virtualization orchestration stack.

This 5G work built on Cisco providing its packet gateway for T-Mobile’s 4G LTE mobile core, later adding its evolved packet core (EPC), and eventually virtualized the operator’s entire packet core in 2017. T-Mobile was also the first major operator to introduce Cisco’s 4G control and user plane separation (CUPS) in the EPC at production scale in 2018.

Cisco has also been core to 5G SA work by operators like Dish Network and Rakuten Mobile

References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/network/t-mobile-and-cisco-launch-worlds-largest-cloud-native-converged-core-gateway

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/t-mobile-selects-cisco-for-cloud-native-5g-core/2022/12/

Another Opinion: 5G Fails to Deliver on Promises and Potential

Introduction:

For many years now, this author has repeatedly stated that 5G would be the biggest train wreck in all of tech history. That is still the case.  It’s primarily due to the lack of ITU standards (really only one- ITU M.2150) and 5G core network implementation specs (vs 5G network architecture) from 3GPP.

We’ve noted that the few 5G SA core networks deployed are all different with no interoperability or roaming between networks.  I can’t emphasize enough that ALL 3GPP defined 5G functions and features (including security and network slicing) require a 5G SA core network.  Yet most of the deployed 5G networks are NSA which use a 4G infrastructure for everything other than the RAN.

It also must be emphasized that the 5G URLLC Physical layer specified in ITU-R M.2150 does not meet the performance requirements in ITU-R M.2410 as the URLLC spec is based on 3GPP Release 15.  Astonishingly, the 3GPP Release 16 work item “URLLC in the RAN” has yet to be completed, despite Release 16 being “frozen” in June 2020 (2 1/2 years ago).  The official name of that Release 16 work item is “Physical Layer Enhancements for NR Ultra-Reliable and Low Latency Communication (URLLC)” with the latest spec version dated June 23, 2022. That work item is based on the outcome of the study items resulting in TR 38.824 and TR 38.825. It specifies PDCCH enhancements, UCI enhancements, PUSCH enhancements, enhanced inter UE TX prioritization/multiplexing and enhanced UL configured grant transmission.

Finally, revision 6 of ITU-R recommendation M.1036 on terrestrial 5G frequency arrangements (especially for mmWave), still has not been agreed upon by ITU-R WP5D.  That has resulted in a “frequency free for all,” where each country is defining their own set of 5G mmWave frequencies which inhibits 5G end point device interoperability.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

In an article titled, 5G Market Growth, Mohamad Hashisho provides his view of why 5G has not lived up to its promise and potential.

Standalone 5G Is Yet to Breakout:

5G market growth still needs to feel as imposing as many imagined it. A technology created to replace previous generations still relies on their infrastructure. Standalone (SA) 5G is unrestricted by the limits of the prior generation of telecommunications technology because it does not rely on the already-existing 4G infrastructure. As a result, it can deliver the fast speeds and low latency that 5G networks have consistently promised. Clearly, standalone(SA) 5G is the way to go, so why do we not see effective implementation and marketing for it?

The numerous challenges businesses encounter while using SA are alluded to in the various telco comments about device availability, carrier aggregation, and infrastructure upgrades. The 5G New Radio system is connected to the current 4G core, the network’s command center, with older NSA. As its name suggests, SA sweeps this crutch aside and substitutes a new 5G core. But operators face several difficulties when they push it out, according to Brown. The first is the challenge of creating “cloud-native” systems, as they are known in the industry. Most operators now want to fully utilize containers, microservices, and other Internet-world technologies rather than simply virtualizing their networks. With these, networks risk being less efficient and easier to automate, and new services may take longer to launch. But the transition is proving to be challenging.

Overpromising, Yet to Deliver:

5G came out of the corner swinging. Huge promises were thrown around whenever the subject of 5g was discussed. It has been a while since 5G came to fruition, yet its market growth remain humble. Some might say that the bark was way more extensive than the bite. While some of these promises were delivered, they weren’t as grand as the ones yet to happen.

Speed was one of the main promises of 5G. And while some argue that this promise is fulfilled, others might say otherwise. Speeds are yet to reach speeds that can eclipse those of 4G. It is not only about speeds, though. It is about the availability of it. The high-speed services of 5G networks are only available in some places. Its been years and many regions are yet to receive proper 5G services. Simply put, a large portion of the dissatisfaction surrounding 5G can be attributed to the failure to fully deploy the infrastructure and the development of applications that fully utilize 5G.

5G of Tomorrow Struggles With Its Today:

5G is, without a doubt, the way to go for the future, but does its present state reflect that? Maybe. That is the issue. Years into its adoption, the answer should be decisive. Telcos might see potential in the maybes and work based on tomorrow’s potential. Consumers won’t be as patient. The consumers need the promised services now. You need to keep your customer base around with promises of the future. Especially when 4G LTE did the job well, really well.

Moreover, some areas in the US, not in struggling countries, have speeds slower than 4G LTE. Some 5G phones struggle to do the minimum tasks. Phones have to stick to specific chips capable of 5G support. But it is not about the small scale. Let’s think big, going back to the big promises 5G made. Smart cities, big-scale internet activities happening in real-time. IoT integration everywhere, controlling drones and robots from across the world. Automated cars as well, 5G was promised to deliver on all that, today and not tomorrow, but here we are.

Finally, the marketing was hit and miss, more miss, to be frank. Most consumers pay more to be 5G ready, while 5G still needs to be truly prepared. It’s hard to keep people interested when 4G is doing great. The only thing that the people needed was consistency, and sadly 5G is less consistent than some would hope.

Concluding Thoughts:

Lastly, innovation waits for none. This even includes 5G and 5G market growth. There are talks, even more than talks, about 6G. China is pushing for 6G supremacy, while Nokia and japan are starting the conversation about 7G. A major oversight that 5G missed was range. 5 G does great over small distances.

When the promises were massive in scale and global, you practically shot yourself in the foot. Time is running out for 5G, or is it pressuring 5G to live up to its potential?

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

References:

https://insidetelecom.com/5g-market-growth/

IMT 2020.SPECS approved by ITU-R but may not meet 5G performance requirements; no 5G frequencies (revision of M.1036); 5G non-radio aspects not included

 

https://www.itu.int/rec/R-REC-M.2150/en

https://www.itu.int/pub/R-REP-M.2410

https://www.itu.int/dms_pubrec/itu-r/rec/m/R-REC-M.1036-6-201910-I!!PDF-E.pdf

https://www.3gpp.org/specifications-technologies/releases/release-16

https://www.3gpp.org/ftp/Specs/archive/21_series/21.916/