Following the close of FCC Auction 102, AT&T won 24 GHz spectrum in 383 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) for a nationwide average of 254 MHz. All of the licenses won were in the more valuable upper 500 MHz portion of the 24 GHz band, giving AT&T stronger nationwide coverage and additional spectrum depth and capacity in many top markets where demand is often greatest. In the top 10 markets alone, AT&T won nearly 286 MHz on average, including 300 MHz in 8 of those markets.
“We’re leading the nation in mobile 5G deployment and the large, contiguous block of spectrum we won in Auction 102 will be critical to maintaining that leadership,” said Scott Mair, president of AT&T Operations. “We’ve already been recognized for having the nation’s fastest1 and best2wireless network, and by further strengthening our spectrum position, we intend to build on our success. I’d like to congratulate and thank the FCC on the conclusion of another successful auction.”
The licenses it won cover all top 50 PEAs and 99 of the top 100 PEAs. When added to the mmWave spectrum AT&T already holds in the 39 GHz band, AT&T’s average spectrum depth in mmWave increased by two-thirds to more than 630 MHz nationwide.
AT&T will use the spectrum to bolster its mobile 5G strategy. AT&T was the first U.S. wireless carrier to introduce mobile 5G service. The company’s 5G service is currently available in parts of 19 cities – more than any other wireless carrier – with plans to reach parts of 29 cities by the end of 2019. In the first half of 2020, the company expects to have the best combination of mobile 5G, providing high speeds and low latency service over mmWave spectrum and nationwide 5G service over “sub-6” spectrum.
The company spent about $980 million to win an average of 254 MHz of 24 GHz spectrum in 383 out of about 400 total partial economic areas (PEAs) nationwide. The winnings supplement the company’s previous millimeter wave spectrum holdings in the 39 GHz band.
The key appeal of millimeter wave spectrum is that large swaths of it are available, enabling the spectrum to support the highest speeds – although service deployed in the millimeter wave band has less range than service deployed in lower-frequency bands. AT&T’s initial 5G deployments have been in the millimeter wave band, but the company eventually expects to use a combination of millimeter wave and lower frequency spectrum to support 5G.
The average 630 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum that AT&T now holds in key markets would appear to position the company well to support high speeds, as the company previously achieved speeds of 1.2 Gbps in trials using a 400 MHz channel over a distance of 150 meters.
The company also has said that it has seen speeds as high as 400 Mbps on its commercial 5G network, although it cautioned that average speeds are lower.
AT&T also noted in a press release that the licenses it won in the 24 GHz band were in the “valuable” upper 500 MHz of the 24 GHz band and that the licenses cover all top 50 PEAs and 99 of the top 100 PEAs.
Late last year, AT&T was the first U.S. carrier to launch mobile 5G service, although the company did not have a smartphone available for use with the network until last week. Customers initially used 5G-capable Wi-Fi hotspots that work with virtually any smartphone to access the network, which now covers parts of 19 cities. AT&T plans to expand to parts of 10 more cities by the end of 2019 and to launch nationwide service in the first half of 2020.
The company’s initial target for 5G service is business customers – a decision that enabled the company to plan its initial 5G millimeter wave deployments for areas in which key business customers were located. The company also has said that it hopes to command a premium for 5G service in comparison with what it charges for earlier-generation services – a strategy that U.S. wireless carriers have not used previously.
Separately, AT&T said it will work with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to help businesses harness powerful edge capabilities. The two companies have agreed to a go-to-market program to accelerate business adoption of edge connections and edge computing.
Edge computing marks a giant leap forward in providing faster processing and potentially enhanced security for business applications. AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) Services enable businesses to take advantage of AT&T cellular coverage – including 5G as it becomes available – as well as new capabilities to manage cellular traffic through virtual network functions. HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems help create use cases where applications can reside on premises for lower latency processing.
“AT&T’s software-defined network, including our 5G network, combined with HPE’s intelligent edge infrastructure can give businesses a flexible tool to better analyze data and process low-latency, high-bandwidth applications,” said Mo Katibeh, Chief Marketing Officer, AT&T Business. “Bringing compute power closer to our network helps businesses push the boundaries of what is possible and create innovative new solutions.”
Enabling edge computing is a core tenet in AT&T’s strategy to help businesses get the most out of 5G. This is an important step in bringing these technologies to scale, so businesses can continue to transform how they will use networks in the 5G era.
“HPE believes that the enterprise of the future will need to be edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven to turn all of its data into action and value,” said Jim Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer, HPE. “Our go-to-market alliance with AT&T, using HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems, will help deliver AT&T MEC services at scale to help our customers more quickly convert data into actionable intelligence, enabling unique digital experiences and smarter operations.”
Ericsson released a software update to its cellular base station hardware that the vendor says will markedly improve 5G network performance by increasing its capacity and coverage, especially indoors and in hard-to-reach areas. The upgrade will support a 3GPP Release 15 specification of Standalone 5G New Radio (NR) which, unlike NSA (Non Stand Alone), does not need 4G LTE infrastructure such as signalling, mobile packet core and network management.
Ericsson says its 5G standalone NR software makes for a new network architecture, delivering key benefits such as ultra-low latency and even better coverage (says the company).
Ericsson also announced what it calls inter-band NR carrier aggregation, which is software that extends the coverage and capacity of NR on mid bands and high bands when combined with NR on low bands. Ericsson claims the software can help improve speeds in areas with poor coverage and in indoor environments.
Ericsson says it is evolving its cloud solution with an offering optimized for edge computing to meet user demand. This will enable service providers to offer new consumer and enterprise 5G services such as augmented reality and content distribution at low cost, low latency, and high accuracy.
Fredrik Jejdling, Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Networks, Ericsson, says: “We continue to focus our efforts on helping our customers succeed with 5G. These new solutions will allow them to follow the 5G evolution path that fits their ambitions in the simplest and most efficient way.”
The new standalone 5G NR software can be installed on existing Ericsson Radio System hardware. Coupled with Ericsson’s 5G dual-mode Cloud Core solutions, the new products are aimed at opening new business opportunities for service providers – especially having established an architecture that facilitates agility, provides advanced support for network slicing and enables the speedy creation of new services.
Most pre-standard “5G” network operators have deployed NSA (Non Stand Alone) using LTE infrastructure. Once the 5G coverage has been established, they can now also deploy standalone.
Low bands will play a key role in cost-efficiently extending the coverage provided by 5G deployments to date. Ericsson has also launched Inter-band NR Carrier Aggregation – a new software feature that extends the coverage and capacity of NR on mid- and high bands when combined with NR on low bands. This will improve speeds indoors and in areas with poor coverage.
Two new Massive MIMO radios have also been added to the Ericsson Radio System mid-band portfolio, allowing service providers to build 5G with precision: AIR 1636 for wider coverage which provides optimized performance on longer inter-site distances; and AIR 1623 for easy site build with minimal total cost of ownership.
Ericsson’s 5G hardware is now being used in networks all over the world. Image courtesy of Ericsson
5G (with low latency as per 3GPP Release 16 and later- IMT 2020) will enable augmented reality, content distribution and gaming, and other applications that require low latency and high bandwidth to perform with accuracy. To help service providers meet these requirements and offer new consumer and enterprise services, Ericsson is evolving its cloud solution with the launch of Ericsson Edge NFVI (Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure), optimized for the network edge.
A compact and highly efficient solution, Ericsson Edge NFVI is part of the end-to-end managed and orchestrated distributed cloud architecture, which makes it possible to distribute workloads, optimize the network and enable new services in the cloud.
Ericsson is also launching the Ericsson partner VNF Certification Service, a partner certification program for virtual network functions (VNF). The service is open to all VNF vendors and grants a certification on the Ericsson NFVI platform using Ericsson Labs. This will create an ecosystem with a shorter time-to-market for working with partners and applications.
Industry Analyst Hugh Ujhazy, Vice President, IOT & Telecommunications at International Data Corporation (IDC), Asia Pacific, says: “Ericsson’s latest 5G offerings equip service providers with an even broader 5G portfolio by adding the Standalone NR option. The series of solutions being added to the Ericsson 5G platform will allow service providers to deploy 5G sensibly and address new business opportunities with full flexibility. What you get is faster, cheaper, makes better use of existing assets and with fewer truck rolls. That’s pretty cool.”
Dana Cooperson, Research Director, Analysis Mason, says: “Improved E2E 4G/5G network architecture flexibility and new 5G use cases require distribution to the edge. To be successful in providing new services it is essential to have a cost-efficient platform for distributed workloads. Ericsson’s initiative with the Edge NFVI solution and distributed cloud architecture will contribute to service providers’ success in 5G.”
AT&T’s WarnerMedia Innovation Lab in New York City will serve as a testing ground for leveraging 5G to provide innovative storytelling through advertising, according to company executives. The 20,000 square foot lab is being built in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan (this author’s home town) and is scheduled to open in early 2020. The WarnerMedia lab will also draw consumer insights and technology from AT&T’s Xandr ad sales unit.
“By working across AT&T, we’re able to combine the latest in 5G technology with immersive content experiences and cutting-edge advertising capabilities,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment. “The WarnerMedia Innovation Lab will be a space where developers, creators and visitors will be inspired to push the boundaries of entertainment, all powered by the company that first introduced the U.S. to the power of mobile 5G.”
“Storytelling is in our company’s DNA and part of that experience is how the content is enjoyed, including advertising. The Lab is a critical part of our testing and learning on the new experiences in advertising that we will be rolling out to market,” said Dan Reiss, head of advanced advertising and branded content at WarnerMedia Ad Sales.
“The Lab is more than a technology incubator, but also a dream factory for us to create the wonderment that fans have come to love and expect from WarnerMedia,” said Jesse Redniss, GM for WarnerMedia Innovation Lab, in a statement. He described the location as a place where WarnerMedia will “flex the best of [its] creative storytelling capabilities combined with cutting edge technology from AT&T and our partners to deliver experiences that will be talked about for a lifetime.”
“Every day, Xandr looks for new innovative ways to help marketers and create a better viewing experience for consumers,” said Kirk McDonald, CMO, Xandr. “Working with our colleagues at AT&T Communications and WarnerMedia, we are uniquely positioned to develop new advertising innovations that engage consumers and provide integral feedback for marketers and brands. The WarnerMedia Innovation Lab will accelerate the adoption of new advertising formats and provide an environment to showcase our collaborative work.”
Image Courtesy of WarnerMedia
AT&T stated the new lab will be “[unveiling] a new balance in the relationship between advertising, technology and content” and said that its work would include mixed reality and/or virtual reality applications, “5G uses that enhance new advertising capabilities,” and better user experiences related to advertising.
Architectural firm Design Republic will head the design of the project, with work beginning this summer with completion scheduled for early 2020.
By Paul Budde, edited by Alan J Weissberger
“Peak telecom” is described as the maximum point of expansion reached by the traditional telecommunications industry before the internet commoditized the industry to a utility (dumb) pipe.
I thought of this when I read the recent outcomes of the famous Ericsson Consumer Lab survey. The company used the results of the survey to counteract market criticism regarding the viability of the telco business models in the deployment of 5G.
It will come as no surprise that Ericsson, as a manufacturer of 5G gear, has given the report a positive spin. However, I remain skeptical about the short-term business models for the deployment of 5G (so does the editor). Once full deployment happens over the coming decade, I certainly can see long-term opportunities. These will revolve around content and apps as well as areas such as IoT in smart homes, cities and energy. However, the question is, will this lead to new financial opportunities for the telcos? Peak telecom questions such an outcome.
What exactly do these broader 5G opportunities mean for the telecommunications operators — the companies who have to build the infrastructure? It is here that we can see that we have reached peak telecom. For several years now, we have seen that growth in the telecom industry is rather stagnant. Profits are still being made but mostly generated by lowering costs. For example, new telecom access speeds are provided at no extra cost to the users. Basically, consumers are getting more for the same price.
There has continuously been the promise of new revenues that could be generated through a range of new telecoms development (internet, broadband, smartphones). The telcos have, however, largely failed to move into the content/app market where the new profits are occurring. Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, Alibaba, Tencent and Netflix have been the primary commercial beneficiaries of these developments.
The Ericsson report mentions that mobile access in congested areas and in mega-cities is becoming a problem and that 5G will assist here. I agree, but will customers pay extra for it?
It also mentions opportunities for 5G to be an alternative to fixed broadband and for it to become a key technology in fixed wireless networks. There certainly will be niche market opportunities here, but this is a highly price-sensitive market. The economics of mass fixed infrastructure favors it over mobile infrastructure. Any gains here will basically be a substitution of a fixed service they already provide, so the overall net gain for the industry will be neglectable.
The report indicates that 20% of smartphone users are prepared to pay a premium for 5G. The current commercial 5G service in South Korea is charging a meager 10% premium. No doubt, in coming years, through competition even that premium will disappear.
The report indicates that consumers expect new innovation such as foldable phones, VR glasses, AI, 360-degree camera, robotics and so on. All true but it all depends how affordable these products and service will be and again who will develop these next “must-have” products? Here, also, the telcos will most likely be missing out.
I fully agree with the report’s assessment that we have to look at 5G over the more extended period. As mentioned, there are good reasons to believe that once full deployment exists, it will open up many new business opportunities.
However, will this promise be enough for telcos to make the substantial upfront investments that are needed? This without a clear indication if they can extract any significant new revenues from 5G? The more likely scenario is that the digital giants are going to be the ones that will reap the real profits of those innovations.
I stick to my argument that the key reason for the telcos to move into 5G is because of network efficiencies, which lead to lower costs.
–>This is absolutely critical in this peak telecom market.
To end on a more positive note for the industry, there is the first mover advantage with short term premium price opportunities for those who can tap into the early adopters’ market. There is always a group of users who simply do want to have the newest of the newest, whatever the price. The size of this market varies — depending on how “hot” the new product is seen by this market segment — and could be anywhere between 10% and 25%.
This is certainly attractive for the telcos as it allows them to recoup some of the initial investment rapidly. In relation to mobile products and services, this mainly relates to “must have” gadgets and, in particular, the smartphone. The current price (in Korea) of a 5G phone is approximately US$1,500 (AU$2,153), without any outstanding features.
The lack of attractive smartphones could be another negative for some of the early adopters. Time will tell.
Asia Telecoms Maturity Index:
This index, created by Paul Budde, analyzes the Broadband, Mobile and Fixed Line markets of a specific country as well as a range of parameters to help you evaluate the economic development of a country.
BuddeComm’s Telecoms Maturity Index measures and ranks the maturity of a country’s telecoms industry on a scale of 1 to 100. All countries are placed into one of three categories: ‘Market Leaders’, ‘Market Challengers’ and ‘Market Laggards’, according to their Market Index score.
The Telecoms maturity index is used to fuel regional analysis, it provides a unique approach and allows a comprehensive country vs region comparison.
Asian countries in the Market Leaders category have fixed broadband penetrations in the range of 25% and 42% and mobile broadband penetrations in the range of 98% and 135%. South Korea is the top-ranking country in Asia with a Telecoms Maturity Index score of 92, followed by Hong Kong (90) and Macau (86).
For more information on BuddeComm’s Telecoms Maturity Index, see:
- Africa – Fixed Broadband Market – Statistics and Analyses
- Africa – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Asia – Fixed Broadband Market – Statistics and Analyses
- Asia – Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband
- Asia – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Asia – Telecom Forecasts
- Europe – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Latin America – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
- Middle East – Mobile Infrastructure and Mobile Broadband
- Middle East – Mobile Network Operators and MVNOs
NOTE: There are no U.S. cellular equipment manufacturers. The only two in the west are Ericcson and Nokia- both based in Europe. However, U.S. based Qualcomm has been developing 5G silicon and is the only 5G (fabless) semiconductor vendor in the U.S. They will likely have an IMT 2020 compliant chip set as the company regularly attends ITU-R WP 5D meetings. The only other 5G merchant market semiconductor company we know of is Taiwan based MediaTek. Samsung and Huawei have developed 5G silicon but are using it ONLY for their own devices- not sold to merchant semiconductor market.
The only U.S. semiconductor companies that we know of that make their own chips are Intel and Micron.
IHS Markit says Huawei fall- out on memory market is huge:
Huawei in recent years has carved out prominent positions in the global smartphone and mobile infrastructure markets (not to mention fiber optics infrastructure and IT markets). In 2018, Huawei rose to take second place in the smartphone business, with 206.1 million shipments, according to the IHS Markit Smartphone Intelligence Service. This put it just slightly ahead of Apple, at 204.7 million.
In 2017, the company became the leader in the worldwide mobile infrastructure equipment market, surpassing Ericsson. Huawei has retained the top position and rose to account for nearly one-third of the market, with a 31 percent share of global revenue in 2018, as reported by the IHS Markit Mobile Infrastructure Intelligence Service.
Huawei’s market position has translated directly into purchasing power, with the company ranking as the world’s fourth-largest OEM semiconductor buyer in 2018. Huawei spent $15.9 billion on semiconductors in 2018, according to the IHS Markit OEM Semiconductor Spending & Design Activity Intelligence Service. Memory represents a considerable slice of that spending, with the company buying $1.7 billion worth of DRAM and $1.1 billion worth of NAND flash memory for the year.
In the memory business, the wireless communications market was the second-largest global market for DRAM in 2018, following computer platforms, with revenue of $21.3 billion. Wireless was also the second largest market for NAND flash memory after computers, with revenue of $14.6 billion in 2018. HDD and solid-state drive (SSD) products enjoy major usage in the enterprise segment where Huawei operates. The enterprise market generated 72.8 million HDD unit shipments in 2018, while SDD demand amounted to 34 million, according to the IHS Markit HDD and SDD Storage Intelligence Service. For Micron and Western Digital, the revenue lost because of the ban is not likely to be replaced easily or quickly.
IHS-Markit says No Winners:
While the ban was ostensibly designed to penalize Huawei and benefit the U.S. tech industry, the reality is the pain will be felt by companies on both sides of the Pacific, affecting key U.S. suppliers along with Huawei.
by Jessica Rosenworcel, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Wired.com – edited by Alan J Weissberger, IEEE ComSoc
Lost in the glowing 5G hype and headlines is the fact the United States is making choices that will leave rural America behind.
These choices will harm our global leadership in 5G and could create new challenges for the security of our networks.
The most important input in our new wireless world is spectrum, or the airwaves that are used to send and receive the radio signals that power wireless communications. For decades, slices of spectrum have been reserved for different uses, from television broadcasting to military radar. But today, demands on our airwaves have grown. So the Federal Communications Commission has been working to clear these airwaves of old uses and auction them so they can be re-purposed for new 5G service.
However, not all spectrum is created equal. The traditional sweet spot for wireless service has been in what we call low-band or mid-band spectrum. This is between 600 MHz and 3 GHz. For a long time, these airwaves were considered beachfront property because they send signals far. In other words, they cover wide areas but require little power to do so. This makes them especially attractive for service in rural areas, where technology that can reach more people with less infrastructure makes greater economic sense.
For 5G, however, the United States has focused on making high-band spectrum the core of its early 5G approach. These airwaves, known as “millimeter wave ,” are way, way up there—above 24 GHz. They have never been used in cellular networks before, and for good reason—they don’t send signals very far and are easily blocked by walls. That means they are very expensive to build out. On the flip side, these airwaves offer a lot more capacity, which translates into ultra-fast speeds.
Note 1. Millimeter wave spectrum is the band of spectrum between 30 GHz and 300 GHz. Wedged between microwave and infrared waves, this spectrum can be used for high-speed wireless communications as seen with the latest IEEE 802.11ad Wi-Fi standard (operating at 60 GHz). It is being considered by standards organization, the Federal Communications Commission and researchers as the way to bring “5G” into the future by allocating more bandwidth to deliver faster, higher-quality video, and multimedia content and services.
The United States is alone in this mission to make millimeter wave the core of its domestic 5G networks. The rest of the world is taking a different approach. Other nations vying for wireless leadership are not putting high-band airwaves front and center now. Instead, they are focusing on building 5G networks with mid-band spectrum, because it will support faster, cheaper, and more ubiquitous 5G deployment.
Take China, which allocated large swaths of mid-band spectrum for its carriers last year, clearing the way for deployment in a country that is also home to Huawei, the largest telecommunications equipment supplier worldwide. South Korea and Australia wrapped up an auction of key mid-band spectrum last year. At roughly the same time, Spain and Italy held their own auctions for mid-band airwaves. Austria did the same earlier this year. Switzerland, Germany, and Japan also auctioned a range of mid-band spectrum just a few months ago.
The United States, however, has made zero mid-band spectrum available at auction for the 5G economy. Moreover, it has zero mid-band auctions scheduled. This is a problem.
By ceding international leadership when it comes to developing 5G in the mid-band, we miss the benefits of scale and face higher costs and interoperability challenges. It also means less security as other nations’ technologies proliferate. Indeed, the most effective thing the United States can do in the short term to enhance the security of 5G equipment is make mid-band spectrum available, which will spur a broader market for more secure 5G equipment that will also benefit other countries that are pursuing mid-band deployments.
By auctioning only high-band spectrum, we also risk worsening the digital divide that already plagues so many rural communities in the United States. That’s because recent commercial launches of 5G service across the country are confirming what we already know—that commercializing millimeter wave will not be easy or cheap, given its propagation challenges. The network densification [2.] these airwaves require is substantial.
Note 2. Network densification will require hundreds of thousands of small cells which have to be mounted on public property in the U.S. The FCC issued a new ruling in September 2018 that set federal standards for small cell deployment regulation that aim to streamline the roll-out of 5G services across state and local governments. Similarly, state legislatures across the country have been considering bills that would create a uniform permitting and regulatory framework to support 5G network deployments. In general, a local government license will be required by the wireless telco that owns each small cell. Not all licenses will be granted as many city officials envision hordes of small cells to be a gigantic eyesore.
In fact, recent tests of newly launched commercial 5G networks in the United States are showing that millimeter wave signals are not traveling more than 350 feet, even when there are no major obstructions. They are also not penetrating walls or windows, making indoor coverage difficult.
This means that high-band 5G service is unlikely outside of the most populated urban areas. The sheer volume of antenna facilities needed make this service viable makes it too costly to deploy in rural areas. So if we want to serve everywhere—and not create communities of 5G haves and have-nots—we are going to need a mix of airwaves that provide both coverage and capacity. That means we need mid-band spectrum. For rural America to see competitive 5G in the near future, we cannot count on high-band spectrum to get the job done.
The heat-seeking headlines about 5G are hard to resist. But the reality on the ground needs attention, too. For the United States to have secure 5G service available to everyone, everywhere, we need to stop going at it alone with millimeter wave spectrum. We need to make it a priority to auction mid-band airwaves right now. The longer we wait, the further behind the United States will fall—and the less likely our rural communities will see the benefits of next generation of (5G) wireless technology.
THE WIRED GUIDE TO 5G
CTIA on 5G Spectrum:
A decision by Russian telco MTS to select Huawei Technologies to develop its 5G network comes just as the U.S. ban of the Chinese telecom gear provider could leave the U.S. lagging behind other global powers, analysts say in a CNN article.
Huawei Chairman Guo Ping and MTS boss Alexei Kornya signed the agreement in the Kremlin on Wednesday, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping watching.
“We both add momentum to strategic cooperation between the two companies in high tech, thus building a foundation for commercial 5G rollouts in Russia in the nearest future,” Kornya said in an emailed statement. Guo highlighted that Huawei’s more than 16,000 5G-related patents make it “number one worldwide.” “We hope that our joined efforts will help Russia enter the 5G era sooner,” he added.
Guo Ping -chairman of Huawei- shaking hands with Alexei Kornya- head of MTS- at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
The Kremlin noted that several business deals had been signed in a ceremony attended by Russia President Vladimir V. Putin and China Premier Mr. Xi.
It’s not clear Russia will have a national 5G network, using Chinese or Western equipment, as the military has so far declined to free up the necessary radio frequencies.
“The situation there is a bit complicated,” a deputy prime minister, Maksim Akimov, said at a meeting with Mr. Putin in April. “We’d like to ask you for relevant orders,” to the military, so Russia can keep up with the new (5G) cellphone technology.
MTS’ pending 5G Huawei deal comes as Chinese authorities moved this week to license its first array of 5G wireless service providers. China approved its first batch of 5G licensing for commercial use, unveiling, in the words of state media, “a new era for the telecom industry.” Huawei will be deeply involved in that effort, adding to the more than 45 commercial 5G contracts the firm has signed in 30 countries around the world.
The referenced CNN article stated:
The US has also been urging allies to restrict or ban the use of Huawei equipment in their 5G networks, warning that Beijing could use the sensitive data infrastructure for spying. Huawei has repeatedly denied that any of its products pose a national security risk.While some US cities have begun rolling out 5G technologies, analysts have warned the Huawei ban risks slowing down countrywide adoption, and could see it lag behind China. Now even Russia, not usually thought of as a tech leader, may be poised to pull ahead.Outside of the US, whether to buy from Huawei or not is increasingly becoming a political litmus test, one that threatens to exacerbate the bifurcation of the global internet into separate spheres, and hasten the demise of the open, truly worldwide web as we know it.Those that choose to avoid Huawei also risk falling behind as the world moves towards the next stage of internet and communications technology.
According to a report from The Financial Times, Google’s recent discussions with the US government actually argue that the Huawei ban is bad for national security. Google is reportedly asking for an exemption from the export ban.The argument, reportedly, is that Huawei is currently dependent on Google for its Android smartphone software, and that dependence is a good thing for the US. The Financial Times quotes “one person with knowledge of the conversations” as saying, “Google has been arguing that by stopping it from dealing with Huawei, the US risks creating two kinds of Android operating system: the genuine version and a hybrid one. The hybrid one is likely to have more bugs in it than the Google one, and so could put Huawei phones more at risk of being hacked, not least by China.”Banning Huawei from dealing with U.S. companies is definitely a double-edged sword. Huawei would have a tough time building smartphones or an app ecosystem without the help of U.S.-originated technology and app developers, but US hardware and software companies would lose access to the second largest smartphone maker in the world.
Facebook will no longer allow its apps to be pre-installed on Huawei phones as the Chinese tech giant faces the ongoing fallout of a blacklisting of its services in the U.S. That means that people who already own Huawei phones with apps such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram will not be impacted, Facebook confirmed Friday that new phones from the tech company will not come with the applications. However, Huawei devices (smartphones and tablets) that are already in the hands of consumers will still be able to run the apps and receive regular software updates, Facebook told Reuters.
“We have a relationship of trust in the sphere of politics, security and defense,” he said. “We know that you [Xi] personally pay great attention to the development of Russian-Chinese relations.”
The new era of closer Sino-Russian relations is born out of concerns that the US-China trade war – sparked by US President Donald Trump’s “America first” foreign policy and which has cost Beijing billions of dollars in export tariffs – could escalate into a cold war between the two countries. As China and Russia get ever closer and agree to boost ties in the face of U.S. pressure, we are seeing the beginnings of a new 5G iron curtain and tech cold war.
Wharton’s Kevin Werbach and Jeffrey Reed from Virginia Tech discuss whether 5G technology will live up to its promise.
Telecom companies and other providers will have to invest billions to make 5G a reality — not only to buy more spectrum, but also to build out the infrastructure. Because it’s yet uncertain how much revenue 5G will bring, for now the most prudent path for telecom firms is to upgrade the capacity of their 4G networks by reclaiming airwaves allocated for 2G and 3G, as well as buying more spectrum, according to a report by McKinsey. (The lower bands can be used for 5G as part of the carrier’s network management plan, even though data capacity won’t be as good.)
But there will come a time when these tactics won’t be enough. Historically, data traffic rises by 20% to 50% a year, and 5G could put the traffic increases at the higher end of that range, the McKinsey report said. That means most telecom companies will have to embark on a “significant new build out” between 2020 and 2025. Also, to handle higher traffic, carriers have to install fiber in their wired networks, where wireless connects to the internet. “It’s rather ironic that the projected performance goals of 5G wireless will depend on the availability of wireline fiber,” an executive at telecom equipment maker Ciena said.
Carriers can’t just label their service 5G, which is a lesson AT&T learned when it was sued by Sprint for putting “5GE” on its service despite not using true 5G. AT&T reportedly settled the lawsuit, explaining that “E” stands for “Evolution.” A Verizon spokesman tweeted that “5GE” stood for “5G Eventually.”
Regarding using millimeter wave spectrum for 5G:
“When you’re transmitting and receiving at very high frequencies, it is very efficient for carrying lots and lots of data,” said Gerald Faulhaber, Wharton professor emeritus of business economics and public policy and former FCC chief economist. “You can carry much, much more data than you ever could using our 4G phones.”
But a key drawback is that these signals travel only short distances. The wavelengths in this band range from 1 mm to 10 mm — the FCC’s December auction is called the millimeter wavelength auction — so these can’t reach very far and are easily degraded. “Very high frequency radio signals travel in direct, straight lines, and they attenuate very quickly,” Faulhaber said. In comparison, very low frequency 30 hertz signals can travel more than 10,000 km, or 6,200 miles. Lower frequencies also can better penetrate solid objects like buildings and walls.
Because millimeter wavelengths are short, they need more antennas to connect. “One of the things that 5G requires is a much denser network,” Werbach said. “You need many more nodes. That is partly how the capacity increases, which means either more towers or more cells in more places. You need equipment that is running on those cell sites, and then you need chips that go into people’s handsets and devices.” At least, the 5G antennas are small and can be installed easily on top of telephone poles and other locations, Faulhaber said.
Because it requires density, 5G mainly is feasible for more populated areas where many antennas can be placed close together. “The nature of the infrastructure is that it works in dense areas; it doesn’t work as well in other areas,” Faulhaber said. “Will there be 5G in [rural areas]? The answer is yes, but it won’t be over these high-frequency antennas. It will be basically where 4G is today, so you won’t get the high-capacity [service].”
Telecom carriers have deployed limited 5G commercial service.
- In April, AT&T said mobile 5G is live in parts of 19 cities, with more cities to come. In the same month,
- Verizon said 5G service has launched in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, where typical early adopters experience download speeds of 450 Mbps and peak speeds of 1 Gbps. That is six and 14 times faster than the median fixed broadband speed of 72 Mbps respectively, according to a December 2018 FCC report. Verizon expects to deploy limited 5G in more than 30 cities this year. Last fall, it launched a limited 5G home internet service in four cities.
- Sprint is rolling out 5G in nine markets this year. On May 31st Sprint announced the availability for its first two 5G devices, LG V50 ThinQTM 5G and HTC 5G Hub. Both devices will initially be available to customers in the first four 5G markets – Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Kansas City.
- T-Mobile is calling out its rivals over their 5G hype. “I have the exact same 5G mmWave network equipment and software that AT&T and Verizon do, and there’s no way we would launch this for customers right now,” CTO Neville Ray wrote in a blog. The millimeter wave signal “doesn’t travel far from the cell site and doesn’t penetrate materials at all,” he said. Ray’s blog even embedded a moving image showing that millimeter waves can’t even go through a door. T-Mobile will bring 5G to market, he said, “when the technology is ready for everyday customer use.”
Telecom analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson echoed similar doubts on CNBC. “There’s zero chance that 5G is ubiquitous technology” by 2021, he said. “The promises around 5G being insanely fast are partly because the standards for 5G were set for insanely wide blocks of spectrum. But you can’t find insanely wide blocks of spectrum anywhere except in these kind of stratospherically high frequencies,” which has its own technical problems. He noted that China, which is surging ahead on 5G, doesn’t use millimeter wave but rather lower band spectrum below 6 GHz, while Europe is using a combination of the two.
Politics also influences U.S. carrier adoption of 5G. The government has security concerns about using 5G telecom equipment from China’s Huawei because of fears over spying. Huawei is the world’s largest maker of telecom equipment, including that needed for 5G. It became a colossus, and “a key reason for that is they produce very inexpensive equipment. It is much cheaper than [that of] their European competition,” Reed said. Huawei doesn’t have any U.S. competition, because infrastructure providers left the business about 20 years ago, he added.
Today, Europe and other parts of the world are customers of Huawei. Britain and Germany specifically are resisting pressure from the U.S. to stop using Huawei. Their carriers have used Huawei in their networks for years, so “for them, it is very difficult to say … ‘rip it all out and go find someone else,’” Werbach said. “They’re just not going to do it.” Added Reed: “Even though a security threat exists with Huawei, companies tend to look the other way to maximize profits, lower costs.” As for security, “that’s way down on their list,” Reed said.
Werbach explained that the U.S. can’t address these security concerns by merely saying it will not use this equipment. It has to be more proactive. “We need to invest in companies in the U.S. and bring trust around the world that, for example, the U.S. is not putting similar kinds of back doors into equipment made by U.S.-based service providers.”
Will 5G Replace Cable?
Even with 5G’s drawbacks, enthusiasm for it remains unabated. One big hope is that 5G could be a viable alternative to the wired broadband service provided by cable and telecom companies. “Could 5G … be the new single pipe into the home?” Faulhaber asked. But before one gets excited about competition bringing lower prices and better service, remember that the same companies currently providing wired broadband to the home are the ones launching 5G. “Guess who are the two dominant wireless operators that have … a big chunk of the spectrum in the service? AT&T and Verizon, who, of course, are also major wired broadband providers,” Werbach noted.
However, Werbach acknowledged that there potentially could be other players in 5G, such as T-Mobile, Sprint and Comcast. Indeed, T-Mobile and Sprint have been trying to convince regulators to let them merge because then they would have the heft to deploy 5G nationally. But The Wall Street Journal reported in April that the deal is unlikely to be approved as structured.
As for Comcast, Faulhaber pointed out that the cable giant already has installed plenty of Wi-Fi receivers, including in customers’ routers that other folks on its network can use to access the internet. “Xfinity Wi-Fi is all over the place and I would suspect we would see something like that with 5G,” he said. But Faulhaber also pointed out that Comcast has time to figure out a response to 5G since it won’t have to worry about competition from this new technology in the near future.
Comcast CFO Michael Cavanaugh put it this way at a recent conference: “The threat of 5G to our broadband business is not significant any time soon. That’s because [cable is] going to be the most economic way to deliver high-quality broadband, period.”
Any cable rival will need “high capacity, high speed and … high reliability,” he said. “Between the different ways, different levels of spectrum and approaches to 5G, it’s really hard to see how there’s a path to any one of those being a broadly addressable solution for residential [broadband] in the U.S.”
Verizon showed off new technology at its Cambridge, MA lab last week, seeking to demonstrate that (pre-standard) “5G” networks are as much about reducing latency as they are about providing blazing speeds. (That’s bizarre because the low latency component of 5G won’t be specified until 3GPP Release 16 and IMT 2020).
The #1 U.S. wireless telco showed out a robot that could potentially rescue people in dangerous situations and explained how 5G will lead to advances in education, medicine and other areas. “With 5G, the robot and the operator can communicate instantly,” said Yan Gu, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.
Verizon paid for a “5G” flyer ad insert in Sunday’s NY Times: Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband Brings AR Surgery to Life. It was quite impressive, but very futuristic in this author’s opinion. “Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is a new canvas for innovation.” said CHRISTIAN GUIRNALDA, DIRECTOR OF VERIZON’S 5G LABS.
At Columbia University, staff and students use Verizon’s 5G Labs to experiment with remote physical therapy using virtual reality. The technology allows patients and therapists to use a virtual reality headset and controller to manipulate shared objects within a virtual environment. This level of smooth interactivity and responsiveness is possible with Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband connectivity.
Dr. Choudhry, left, and Dr. Christopher Morley, wearing an AR headset, use Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband to test Medivis.
Current Status of “5G” in U.S.:
In the US, Verizon and AT&T, the nation’s two biggest wireless carriers, have switched on mobile 5G networks in only a small handful of locations. in four cities at the end of May, right about the same time that became the UK’s first 5G provider.
Verizon customers looking to experience “5G” right now will have to head to Chicago or Minneapolis, and then find the right street corners — plus buy one of out there at the moment. By the end of this year, you won’t have to look quite so hard. Verizon plans to double the coverage area in those two cities, and also drop “5G” into 30 additional cities. (In addition, the company has a “5G” home service in Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and Sacramento, California.)
5G use cases and applications -from remote surgery to mixed reality and– are expected to thrive. “They just get better with 5G,” said Christian Guirnalda, director of Verizon’s 5G Labs.
To help drive that point home, Verizon’s demo before a group of journalists showcased a small array of projects experimenting with 5G in health care, manufacturing and public safety, tapping into the company’s Ultra Wideband service. It was a showcase of winners of the company’s 5G Robotics Challenge and other partners working in the Cambridge facility.
The Cambridge lab, set in a colonial-style brick building on a leafy side street nestled next to the Harvard University campus, is one of five that the company’s currently operating. The others are in New York; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; and Palo Alto, California.
With a Verizon 5G small cell lurking overhead, software maker Proximie, based in Bedford, Massachusetts, demonstrated its cloud-based, augmented reality-capable telemedicine platform on a high-resolution screen with multiple livestreams — as many as three upload and six download streams running at about 10 to 12 megabits per second each.
A Proximie product manager moved her hand across a blank tabletop in front of a camera, and the screens showed the hand overlaid on a cutaway model of a mock patient’s midsection. It illustrated how a doctor in LA could provide AR input to a surgeon performing an operation in New York without lag or dropped signal. The system could also allow, say, radiology images to be matched up with the view of the patient.
“Once it’s rolled out, it’s gonna change the game,” said Auri Vizgaitis, Proximie’s lead software architect.
“5G lets us get more computing off the device,” said Rahul Chipalkatty, CEO of Boston-based robotics software maker Southie Autonomy.
But even with these industrial applications in mind, there’s still a spot for 5G-enabled smartphones. Pittsburgh-based robotics company RealBotics demonstrated how 5G could help get factory employees up to speed on managing robots, through a combination of smartphone speed, low latency, HD video and augmented reality via edge computing.
The advances these companies are envisioning — highly capable autonomous cars, far-flung surgeons collaborating in real time, the internet of things working in high gear — are the future that 5G’s been dangling in front of us for a while now, and probably will for some time still to come.
“It will exist at some point in the future,” said Palmer. “This lab is about how do you innovate on top of that network.”
by Muntazir Abbas (edited by Alan J Weissberger) from Economic Times:
India’s 5G ambition may be thwarted as mobile infrastructure expansion is likely to remain low-paced following policy bottlenecks in the federal governance structure. Add to that India’s weak fiberization, which is mandatory for high-speed wireless network backhaul.
The country’s existing telecom infrastructure catering to a billion active subscribers may require rapid expansion, but the absence of clarity on active network sharing, distributed right-of-way norms and thin fibre penetration, may not bring 2020 a true 5G year.
The Narendra Modi-led government is eyeing to make 5G services commercially available by next year after soon-to-start field trials which would be followed by a mega spectrum sale with 275 Mhz of airwaves earmarked for the newer technology.
Plagued with high debt, the telco incumbents Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel, have not made much network investments over the past few years. In a constrained scenario, sharing of active and passive networks assume much significance.
The Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (Taipa) Director General Tilak Raj Dua says, “In order to make 5G a success story in India, it is essential to invest on network densification heavily through provisioning of fiber, small cells and mobile towers.” Taipa represents telecom infrastructure companies in the country.
The India Department of Telecommunications (DoT), over the past few years, has apparently not been able to bring telecom tower companies to mainstream despite their ever-growing role in India’s digital service delivery.
The much-sought ‘infrastructure status’ accorded to the sector in 2012, has not materialised so far with firms seeking the Narendra Modi government to bring about radical reforms before the 5G make a debut.
Fiberization— A must do
Fibre-based backhaul is still in infancy in India. Industry’s assessment suggests that India’s robust 5G network would require 100 million fibre kilometres (m fkm) optic-fibre cable a year which has been growing at merely a rate of nearly 25 mfkm a year currently.
The government has recognized it as the strategic element for a high-speed data network, and has put a huge thrust and aims to increase fibre footprint to five fold or 7.5 million kilometres by 2022, from the current 1.5 million kilometers. In addition, the national policy aims to fiberise at least 60% of telecom towers by 2022, eventually accelerating migration to 5G.
“Achieving such speeds make fiber connectivity essential. India’s high population density also translates into deeper and denser fiber network,” ratings agency ICRA in its finding said, adding that the country has about 500,000 towers of which only 22% are fiberised as against 80% in China.
Earlier, telecom secretary Aruna Sundararajan said that that the department would want to benchmark how much fibre is being deployed every day to achieve 4G and 5G, and it has to become a national priority, and added that if the industry ever wants to take 5G to the villages without fibre, it would not happen, as fiberisation remains a key driver.
State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) that has the largest fibre base of up to 8 lakh kilometres is considering to lease out dark fibre to private players in a run up to 5G rollout that according to analysts would help operators cut Capex by leveraging state telco’s infrastructure as per need basis.
ICRA estimates the present market value of fiber assets owned by major private telecom operators stand at nearly Rs 1.25 lakh crore, with the extent of fiber rollout over the next few years would require investments of Rs 2.5 lakh crore to 3 lakh crore and sharing of fiber among multiple telcos would be the driver for a reasonable return on capital.
“5G rollout is the biggest driver for all major investment into fibre infrastructure in next five years. The next generation of technology’s performance will be dependent on the overflow of content to and from data centres,” Sandeep Aggarwal, Managing Director of Paramount Communications said, and added that the only medium capable of meeting these demands is fiber which will need to be available at every nook and corner of the country.
The government, in a recently-unveiled national policy also talked about setting up of a National Fibre Authority (NFA), but ironically there has been a dismal activity so far to take the ambitious vision forward.
The challenges, from the fibre standpoint, however, continue to remain making the 5G ride not so smooth with fibre companies together with telecom carriers seeking the Narendra Modi-led government to accelerate efforts and carve out an incentive regime.
Reliance Jio, a pure-play 4G operator that has up its ante in fibre deployment for the ambitious fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) offering dubbed as JioGigaFiber said that that to incentivise telcos, the department should draw out incentives so that operators are not challenged to deliver on fiber which is a critical element for India’s digital growth.
Earlier, Mumbai-based Jio chief Mathew Oommen said that, “service providers should use incentives for creating a deeper fiber with the redundancy of routes,” and believes that incentives should be in the form of “conducive policy to attract more investments in building fibre infrastructure” by telcos.
“5G is an interesting initiative. There is still a lag in fiber deployments in remote locations. We have learnt how to roll out fiber throughout the country, and modern technologies aligned to 5G is also one of the important factors,” R&M chairman Hans Hess told ETT.
“5G needs fiber highways and tower fiberisation is essential to be accelerated and the establishment of National Fiber Authority similar to the National Highway Authority or NHAI. These aim towards a significant portion to be invested in fibre roll out,” Sterlite Technologies Limited (STL) Group CEO Anand Agarwal told ETT.
Company’s top executive said that the national policy has accorded fibre the status of a public utility, and since fibre is essential for both wireline and wireless networks, a greater level of confidence in fibre investment was much needed.
R&M’s Hess seconded Agarwal’s views, adding that a robust fibre-based backbone would be a vital element for a network of next generation of networks.
“There would be an increase in consumption of data due to the Internet of Things (IoT) proliferation. In order to produce more data faster, a strong backbone is needed that can be built on fiber,” the Swiss company’s executive added.
“5G technology will also require a multi-fold increase in small cells deployment, with each small cell having backhaul on fibre. We are woefully inadequate in terms of optic-fibre cable density both in urban and rural areas and a special focus for its densification in a time bound manner is essential for 5G deployments,” Agarwal added.
India’s fiber coverage in kilometre per capita works out to 0.09, which is far behind 0.87 for China and more than 1.3 for the United States and Japan, according to ICRA.
The Gurugram-based firm believes that fiber density in India would have to increase at least four-fold, and that would also mean that it would evolve as a separate industry in some time, similar to the telecom tower segment in the past two decades.
Active network sharing— Do it now
The 5G, based on low latency technology, requires a dense network to seamlessly deliver Internet connectivity enabled through a telecom infrastructure such as in-building solutions, small cells, fiber and fiberised mobile towers.
In a view to ease out financially-stressed operators, the government, in the policy has envisaged active network sharing that would allow telcos to share their networks and thereby reducing their capital (Capex) as well as operational (Opex) investment. Currently, the contours of the new regime are under a discussion stage together with the department and industry, and is expected to bring much respite to 5G rollouts.
The national policy, however, talks about encouraging sharing of active infrastructure by enhancing the scope of Infrastructure Providers (IP) and promoting deployment with incentives for common sharable, passive as well as active infrastructure.
“This (active network sharing) should be done in a more structured manner. All telecom service providers should make active sharing as freely as possible that could also help them reduce Capex as well as Opex in a scenario where margins are thin,” BSNL Chairman Anupam Shrivastava said.
Shrivastava further said that it would be going to help all service providers, and added that BSNL was offering its network for sharing and the same was expected from other operators.
Sector watchdog Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), in one of its whitepaper estimates the savings on account of active infrastructure sharing to the extent of 25-35% in Opex and 33-35% in Capex.
Network sharing, according to industry analysts, can significantly bring down 5G networks rollout as well as maintenance cost. New York-based McKinsey & Company in its finding has estimated the cost reduction of up to 40% — with major savings in rollout of small cells.
5G network, according to Taipa’s director general Dua, will enable a new set of applications such as the connected devices and cars which could become a reality only if the coverage becomes ubiquitous.
In order to have a pervasive 5G and for contiguous operations, there would have to be mushrooming of small cells over a city. Infrastructure providers can play a vital role in faster deployment of small cells that comes with a huge investment and thus support telcos to save on Capex and Opex,” he added.
Telecom carriers with 5G ambitions would be able to leverage 4G unified license (UL) coverage through dual connectivity or UL-sharing and would be able to cover larger areas with the same number of sites. 5G coverage compared to 4G coverage using 1800 MHz (megahertz) spectrum band would be about 60%.
A greenfield 5G operator, according to Taipa estimates, would need to deploy about 66% more sites to compensate for penetration losses.
Right-of-way— Not so right
The industry, demanding ease in Right-of-Way (RoW) rules, has been under continuous discussions with the regulator as well as policymakers for shaping up a comprehensive ‘dig-once’ common duct policy framework that according to the industry would help in the proliferation of 5G infrastructure across the country.
The next generation technologies are shaping the world economies and the smart cities would be built on a fibre-centric network for enabling ubiquitous and seamless connectivity. Trai is expected to come out with a policy enabling ‘common duct’ that would take telecom infrastructure to a next-level of growth.
In the last two years, post industry’s continuous rigorous follow-ups, only 13 states have to some extent aligned their policies with the Centre’s RoW rules notified in November 2016, according to Taipa.
“There is an urgent need for the states to align their telecom infrastructure policies with the Indian Telegraph Right of Way Rules to facilitate deployment of mobile infrastructure and connect the unconnected,” Dua added.
Deployment of small cells is significant for a proliferation 5G in India, the network rollout would have to be facilitated through enabling policies, which, according to the group, should include mandatory provisions for small cells at government lands and premises with new business models to excite municipal corporations and state governments.
The infrastructure providers such as Bharti Infratel, ATC Corporation and GTL Infrastructure demand a uniform RoW charges and single-window clearances nationwide to facilitate the telecom infrastructure for the digital delivery of services as envisaged by the Centre.