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

Speedtest Intelligence® from Ookla reveals T-Mobile was the fastest mobile operator in the United States during Q1 2021 with a Speed Score™ of 50.21 on modern chipsets. AT&T was second and Verizon Wireless third.

Note that this is the first quarter Ookla is reporting on the country as a whole, rather than using competitive geographies. Ookla says that expanding its focus to include rural areas will show drops in performance, decreasing speed and increasing latency when compared with prior reports.

In Q1 2021, T-Mobile had the fastest median 5G network download speed in the U.S. at 82.35 Mbps. AT&T was second at 76.60 Mbps and Verizon Wireless third at 67.24 Mbps. For a complete view of commercially available 5G deployments in the U.S. to-date, visit the Ookla 5G Map™.

Ookla discovered that during Q1 2021 that T-Mobile subscribers with 5G-capable devices were connected to a 5G service 65.4% of the time. 5G “time spent” on Verizon Wireless’ network was at 36.2% and at 31% on AT&T’s network.

In measuring each operator’s ability to provide consistent speeds, Ookla found that T-Mobile had the highest Consistency Score™ in the U.S. during Q1 2021, with 84.8% of results showing at least 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds. AT&T was second and Verizon Wireless third. All three U.S. mobile carriers were above 80% in terms of consistency.

Calculating median latency for top mobile providers in United States during Q1 2021, AT&T and Verizon Wireless had the lowest latency at 32 ms.

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Earlier this week a new report from becnhmarking company Rootmetrics found that T-Mobile US is leading in 5G availability across U.S. cities. Rootmetrics found that AT&T’s 5G provides the best performance, and AT&T and Verizon both won high marks for 5G reliability.

“While we’ve seen strong and improving 5G availability and speeds from the carriers in many cities, it’s important to keep in mind that with the major U.S. networks utilizing different types of spectrum for 5G, the 5G availability and speeds that consumers experience can vary a great deal for different carriers across or even within different markets,” Rootmetrics concluded.

Rootmetrics tested 5G networks in 45 cities across the U.S. between January and March of this year. It recorded at least some 5G availability from all three carriers in nearly all of them. T-Mobile US was the only carrier with a 5G network presence in all 45 of the cities, AT&T had 5G service in 44 out of the 45, and Rootmetrics saw 5G availability for Verizon in 43 out of the 45 cities.

The availability of T-Mobile’s 5G was one common theme across both testing reports. Rootmetrics’ testing, conducted in the first half of 2021, said that T-Mobile had 5G availability in all 45 of the markets it tested and showed the highest percentages of 5G availability in the most markets: More than 55% availability in 30 markets, with the lowest tested market being Sarasota, FL, where Rootmetrics’ testing showed T-Mo 5G available for a device to connect to only about 19% of the time.

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Separately, Light Reading’s Mike Dano writes that “AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer unlimited 5G disappointment.”  In a subhead titled, “T-Muddle” Dano writes:

In 2019, T-Mobile boasted that “5G speed will be up to 10x faster, compared to LTE.” But when it first launched its 5G network on its lowband 600MHz spectrum, speeds were only 20% faster than its LTE network. Then, after T-Mobile closed its acquisition of Sprint’s 2.5GHz midband spectrum, it quickly began offering 5G speeds up to 1Gbit/s. The operator even debuted a new 5G lexicon for its offerings: “5G Ultra Capacity” refers to its speedy 2.5GHz network, while “Extended Range 5G” refers to its slower 600MHz network.

So it would stand to reason that customers might want to see which flavor of T-Mobile 5G they can access, right? A quick check of T-Mobile’s coverage map reveals none of these details. The operator only offers a generic “5G” coverage layer that does not provide details about whether it’s 600MHz or 2.5GHz. One is slightly faster than LTE while the other provides average speeds of 300Mbit/s. Prospective T-Mobile customers are left in the dark.

T-Mobile isn’t the only operator seemingly content to hide behind 5G obfuscation. AT&T has debuted no fewer than three different 5G brands – 5G+, 5Ge and 5G – yet it does not offer any details to prospective customers about how it might charge for those offerings. The operator’s pricing plans mention only “5G” and do not specify whether that means 5G+, 5Ge or 5G, or all three.

Regarding Verizon’s 5G pricing plans, Dano stated:

The operator offers a truly dizzying array of 5G plans and pricing options – one observer described Verizon’s pricing plans as “a series of nesting dolls.”

In 5G, Verizon is reserving its faster “Ultra Wideband” technology only for its expensive unlimited plans. Customers on its cheapest Start Unlimited plan can either pay $10 extra for 5G specifically, or they can spend that same $10 to upgrade to a more expensive unlimited plan that offers 5G as well as other goodies, such as more mobile hotspot data. Why the two different upgrade options? “We always like to give customers choices,” explained a Verizon spokesperson.

But what that really means is that customers are simply left to fend for themselves. They’re left to pick from among a dizzying number of pricing options, all promising “unlimited” data, but all limiting that data in various ways. Customers are left to figure out why messages from iPhones to Android phones won’t show delivery receipts. They’re left to discover why they’re still receiving robocalls, and what they might need to do to block them. They’re left to uncover what kind of 5G they can get and whether it’s any different from 4G.

In conclusion, Dano says that “AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile continue to be very interested in outdoing one another in their 5G pricing schemes and big, new network claims.” However, they’re not succeeding in pleasing their customers who remain frustrated and disappointed.

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References:

https://www.speedtest.net/global-index/united-states#market-analysis

https://rootmetrics.com/en-US/content/5g-in-the-us-1H-2021

https://www.lightreading.com/aiautomation/atandt-verizon-and-t-mobile-offer-unlimited-5g-disappointment/a/d-id/768808?

Ookla speed tests peg T-Mo as having fastest 5G

 

3 South Korean mobile operators to share 5G networks in remote areas

The big three South Korean mobile operators – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus -have agreed to share their 5G networks in 131 remote locations across the country, Yonhap news agency reported. According to the Ministry of Science and ICT. the initiative is designed to accelerate the rollout of 5G networks across the country.

Under the plan, a 5G user would be able to use other carrier networks in such regions that are not serviced by their carrier.  The ministry said telecom operators will test the network sharing system before the end of this year and aim for complete commercialization in phases by 2024.

The ministry said the selected remote regions are sparsely populated, with a population density of 92 people per square kilometer, compared with those without network sharing at 3,490 people per square kilometer.

The move comes as the country races to establish nationwide 5G coverage, with network equipment currently installed in major cities.  The big three South Korean telecom operators promised in July 2020 to invest up to 25.7 trillion won (US$23.02 billion) to update their network infrastructure by 2022.

South Korea was the world’s first country to commercialize 5G in April 2019. As of February 2021, the country had 13.66 million 5G subscriptions, after a net addition of 792,118 subscribers during the month.  That’s 19 percent of its total mobile users. SK Telecom had the largest number of 5G subscribers at 6.35 million, followed by KT Corp. at 4.16 million and LG Uplus at 3.15 million.

According to data from the Ministry of Science and ICT, a big boost in 5G subscriptions during the first two months of the year was chiefly due to the popularity of Samsung Electronics’ latest flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones, which already surpassed 1 million units in domestic sales last week. The country’s three carriers are seeking faster adoption of 5G across the country and have announced more affordable 5G plans to promote the adoption of the technology.

South Korean telecom operators currently provide 5G services via non-standalone 5G networks, which depend on previous 4G LTE networks. The country’s three operators launched 5G technology in April 2019, and 5G networks are available mostly in large cities.

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are currently preparing to commercialize new technology, such as Standalone versions of the 5G networks and millimeter-wave 5G.

References:

https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20210415002500320

Korean carriers ink deal to share 5G infra in remote areas

AT&T Exec: 5G Private Networks are coming soon + 5G Security Conundrum?

Just two weeks after Verizon won a 5G Private Network contract in the UK, AT&T now says that Private 5G Networks are coming soon to your office or campus.  AT&T’s Rita Marty wrote in a blog post that many companies want “5G in a private space.”

“We’ve done exactly that at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. Fans will get experiences like live stats projected over the field on their smartphone camera.”

“Some organizations want a truly private, standalone 5G system. They envision full control of a “local area network” similar to corporate Wi-Fi, but with the performance, reliability and security of cellular.  Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada is testing one flavor: a 5G-powered command-and-control center on a trailer. It will form the hub of a moveable, private cellular network for local personnel in a conflict area.

Ms. Marty alluded to network slicing and edge computing in her blog post.  Those are two ultra hyped technologies that have yet to be deployed at scale by any 5G network operator.

“Other organizations are enhancing their 5G coverage with the ability to control specific local traffic themselves. They can peel off (via network slicing) certain data flows for “edge computing.” This means alarms in a factory, for instance, could be processed right on the premises – and thus much more quickly. MxD, a manufacturing innovation center in Chicago, is showing how fractions of seconds can help solve quality, safety and inventory issues.

Network slicing allows 5G network operators to create different sub-networks (which can be private) networks with different properties. Each sub-network slices the resources from the physical network to create its own independent, no-compromised network for its preferred applications.  It requires a 5G standalone core network, the implementation of which has not been standardized and AT&T has yet to deploy.

Most of AT&T’s activities in mobile edge computing and private 5G networks are in trials and testing.  AT&T is working to bring enhanced capabilities to their edge computing solutions by testing AT&T Network Edge (ANE) with cloud providers.  AT&T says ANE’s potential benefits include:

  • Lower latency: Deliver low-latency connectivity to high performance compute
  • Network routing optimization: Network integration with cloud providers
  • Extended cloud ecosystem: AT&T intends to develop an extended ANE ecosystem, allowing customers to use cloud services like they do today.

Image Credit:  AT&T

Private networks also need careful thought and consultation, Ms. Marty stated. “Considerations include design, spectrum, and who’s going to actually run it. Even a standalone network, and even 5G, must be set up properly to achieve the highest security against cyberattacks,” she added.

5G Security Conundrum:

As leader of AT&T’s 5G security team, Ms. Marty has her work cut out for her.  Especially considering choosing which of the 3GPP 5G SA security specs to support.  Many of them are not complete and targeted for 3GPP Release 17.  Also, European network operators have taken different approaches to 5G security and this will likely be a global phenomenon.

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

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

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

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

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

Scott Poretsky, Ericsson’s Head of Security, wrote in an email:

“The reason for the inconsistent implementation of the 5G security requirements is the language in the 3GPP specs that make it mandatory for vendor support of the security features and optional for the operator to decide to use the feature.  The requirements are defined in this manner because some countries did not want these security features implemented by their national telecoms due to these security features also providing privacy.  The U.S. was not one of those countries.”

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References:

https://about.att.com/innovationblog/2021/private_5G_networks.html

https://www.business.att.com/learn/top-voices/att-continues-development-of-network-edge-compute.html

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2018/05/18/ieee-comsoc-papers-on-network-slicing-and-5g/

5G Security Issues Raise Mission Critical Questions & Issues

 

Verizon makes 5G Business Internet (FWA) available in 24 U.S. cities

Verizon Business plans to expand its 5G Business Internet fixed-wireless connectivity offering to 21 new U.S. cities this month. The service uses Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband technology as its connectivity backbone. Offerings include 100, 200, and 400 Mbps plans serving large companies and SMEs, with no data limits. Verizon said it will also give a 10 year price lock for new customers, no long-term contract required.

  • Verizon 5G Business Internet is now available for businesses of all sizes in 24 U.S. cities.
  • The fixed-wireless offering is an alternative to cable, with multiple pricing and service options and no data limits.
  • Verizon offers a price lock for 10 years, no long-term contract required, and professional installation included.
  • According to the Verizon 5G Business Report, business decision-makers largely agree that 5G will create new opportunities for their company (80%), their industry (79%), and their role (79%).

“As 5G Business Internet scales into new cities, businesses of all sizes can gain access to the superfast speeds, low latency and next-gen applications enabled by 5G Ultra Wideband, with no throttling or data limits,” said Tami Erwin, CEO of Verizon Business. “We’ll continue to expand the 5G Business Internet footprint and bring the competitive pricing, capability, and flexibility of our full suite of products and services to more and more businesses all over the country.”

The service launched on April 15th in parts of Anaheim, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Indianapolis, Kansas City (Missouri), Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, St Louis, and St. Paul. Parts of Riverside-Corona (California) will become available on 22 April. The service previously launched in parts of Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles. Additional cities will be announced on a rolling basis.

Additional information about this offer and 5G Business Internet pricing, availability, service and more is available here. In addition, where 5G Business Internet is not yet available, Verizon offers LTE Business Internet to keep Verizon customers covered.

The launch comes at a time when business decision-makers are coming face to face with the transformational potential of 5G. According to a recent Verizon Business survey conducted in partnership with Morning Consult, seven in 10 decision-makers (69%) believe 5G will help their company overcome the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half (48%) said their companies have already provided or are planning to provide a 5G-capable smartphone or device to employees within the next six months, and approximately eight in 10 agree that 5G will create new opportunities for their company (80%), their industry (79%), and their role (79%).

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References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-business-5g-business-internet-21-us-cities

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/verizon-to-bring-5g-business-internet-service-to-21-more-cities–1379661

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20200522/carriers/verizon-5g-virtual-lab-mmwave-amplification

U.S. Tech Trade Groups call for industry-led telecom security standards

A coalition of nine telecom industry trade groups have called on the U.S. government to avoid imposing new security standards on the sector. While acknowledging the growing number of security threats, they said the government should uphold the history of industry-led technical standards in order to best address the issue.

The letter to the secretaries of Homeland Security (Alejandro Mayorkas) and Department of Commerce (Gina Raimond0) was signed by the Telecom Industry Association (TIA), Competitive Carriers Association (CCA), Consumer Technology Association (CTA), CTIA, ITI, National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), NTCA, USTelecom, and Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA).

“Of critical importance now is maintaining the United States’ longstanding commitment to industry-led technical standards and best practices to address cybersecurity, supply chain, and other global challenges. Such standards are a bedrock of federal trade, technology, and security policy, so it is imperative that your respective Departments champion them. The federal government should not attempt to create its own technical demands, nor should it try to supplant private sector leadership in standards bodies.”

“In the wake of recently revealed, widespread compromises through software vectors like SolarWinds, government and industry face a renewed call to arms to address threats from foreign adversaries. The government has a vital interest in preventing suppliers that pose a national security threat from exploiting U.S. networks or undermining critical functions. However, policymakers should reconsider which tools are best suited to address particular aspects of this challenge and which kinds of approaches will deliver optimal security outcomes. Some recent policies deserve special review.”

Global, Open Standards for Cybersecurity - IEEE SA

The coalition is urging the Biden Administration to refrain from attempting to create its own technical demands or trying to supplant private sector leadership in standards bodies. As the recently released Interim Final Rules that implement aspects of E.O. 13873 are refined, the Commerce Department has the opportunity to take a more effective approach to supply chain security by placing greater focus on industry-led best practices as they represent a proven and positive model for nations working to build a secure, resilient and innovative connected ecosystem.

They are concerned about the Commerce Department’s implementation of an executive order passed in May 2019 by the Trump administration. This laid the groundwork for banning U.S. companies from doing business with Chinese suppliers Huawei and ZTE. It gives the Commerce secretary broad discretion to prohibit working with certain foreign companies in the name of national security.

The industry groups said in the letter that they are keen to work with the new government on efforts to “enhance the security of the ICT ecosystem and maintain US private sector leadership in international standards development”. They underlined their existing record on setting industry standards and work already underway to improve supply chain security. For example, the TIA is developing a standard to verify supply-chain security compliance.

Blanket measures like the Trump executive order should be avoided and more tailored solutions developed to address specific problems, the groups said. “The federal government should not attempt to create its own technical demands, nor should it try to supplant private sector leadership in standards bodies,” the letter said.

Further review of the rules implementing the Trump order is expected to include more input from the industry. The letter called on the Commerce department to work with the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector-led ICT Supply Chain Risk Management Task force “to tailor intervention actions to where they are most necessary, and place greater focus on industry-led standards and best practices that provide a positive model for nations working to build a secure, resilient, and innovative connected ecosystem now and in the future”.

The statement comes as several European countries have approved or are considering laws allowing greater controls on the telecom networks supply chain. The legislation is based on recommendations from the European Commission, which proposed in early 2020 a ‘tool box‘ to help ensure 5G networks are protected from potential security threats. The EU’s cybersecurity agency Enisa started last month at the Commission’s request developing a certification scheme, specifically for 5G equipment.

References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210412005266/en/ICT-Coalition-Best-Option-to-Secure-the-Global-Connected-Ecosystem-is-through-Industry-led-Standards

https://mk0tiaonlinedevs02ww.kinstacdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Multiassociation-Letter-on-SCS-4.12.2021-FINAL-PDF.pdf

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/us-telecom-sector-resists-federal-suppliers-ban-calls-for-industry-led-security-standards–1379479

 

ITU-R WP 5D new reports on IMT for PPDR applications, Terrestrial IMT for Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything, 6G Vision & more

At its March 2021 virtual meeting, ITU-R WP5D completed a revision of the report ITU-R M.2291-1The use of International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) for broadband Public Protection and Disaster Relief (PPDR) applications includes the IMT-2020 and 5G aspects in this public safety focused report to update the current report which was only based on IMT-Advanced 3GPP LTE technology. This revision was completed by ITU-R WP 5D and forwarded to Study Group 5 for action when they next meet in November 2021.

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ITU-R M.[IMT.C-V2X] – The use of the terrestrial component of IMT systems for Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything

WP 5D is also developing a draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT.C-V2X] – The use of the terrestrial component of IMT systems for Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything is intended to addresses the mutual relationship between IMT technologies and Cellular-Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) as a specific application and elements of functions in IMT technologies that are used to realize C-V2X application.

Further, the report provides details on Overview on Usage of IMT technology, use cases, relationship between IMT and C-V2X, characteristics and capabilities supported by IMT, and case studies associated with C-V2X for the various scenarios including eMBB, mMTC, and URLLC of terrestrial component of IMT. 

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Development of draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYOND]

The draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS TOWARDS 2030 AND BEYOND] is intended as a precursor to a “beyond IMT-2020” vision document for 6G that ITU-R WP 5D intends to produce in 2022. This trends report will assess where the technology is, and the current uses are for IMT-2020/5G and seek to identify the gaps and technical enablers anticipated to be necessary in the 2030 timeframe.

Furthermore, the expectation is that this Report will energize the academic and technology community to engage in the research and developments necessary to underpin a “beyond IMT-2020 and 6G view) as just focusing on new uses cases is insufficient to build such a future and the technology evolution requires a long lead time to fruition. 

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Development of draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT TERRESTRIAL BROADBAND REMOTE COVERAGE]

The draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT TERRESTRIAL BROADBAND REMOTE COVERAGE] – Terrestrial IMT for remote sparsely populated areas providing high data rate coverage is intended to provide details on scenarios associated with the provisioning of enhanced mobile broadband services to remote sparsely populated and underserved areas with a discussion on enhancements of user and network equipment.

It will distinguish between extending coverage on already deployed network and defining a use/case for deployment environment and is meant to meant to evaluate technical solutions required to extend the coverage of IMT system rather than discussing deployment layout for rural environments. The completion dates have been extended to the 39th WP 5D meeting (October 2021).

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Development of a draft new report ITU-R M.[IMT 2020.TDD.SYNCHRONIZATION]

The draft new report ITU-R [IMT2020.TDD.SYNCHRONIZATION] is intended to address the study of the aspects of synchronization operations of multiple IMT-2020 TDD networks in close proximity using the same frequency band, including analyses of coexistence issues when IMT operators utilize different synchronization modes, performance evaluation under different synchronization modes, and coexistence mitigation strategies.

The Report considers the further impacts of the introduction of technical advancement such as active antenna systems, etc. The completion dates were extended to the 41st WP 5D meeting (June 2022).

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Source: Chairman’s Report 37th e-meeting of Working Party 5D (1-12 March 2021 – Virtual), April 13, 2021

AT&T Lab to research 5G use cases, 5G+ available in Houston, TX

AT&T is opening a lab in Plano, Texas, to research 5G use cases with help from Nokia and Ericsson. AT&T says the 5G Innovation Studio will provide a venue for developing next-generation products, such as holographic communications and drone services, and cutting down on their time to market.

The studio is outfitted with AT&T 5G connectivity, using its millimeter wave and sub-6 GHz spectrum. It also boasts standalone 5G core network (5G SA) and edge capabilities, along with network KPIs to enable creation, testing and validation of new 5G experiences.

AT&T VP of 5G Product and Innovation Jay Cary disclosed the Lab in this video. The goal of the Lab is to help bring products to market faster, providing a space where customers can explore and try out tech using advanced network capabilities. Along with current and potential customers, and Ericsson and Nokia, industry players like Microsoft will be involved, as well as smaller companies according to Raj Savoor, VP of Network Analytics and Automation at AT&T (formerly with AT&T Labs in Pleasanton, CA).

“Startups are a big part of the innovation ecosystem, and in fact, one of the first use cases was in collaboration with the drone infrastructure startup, EVA,” Savoor wrote in an email.

“We deployed a test environment representative of our Microsoft Azure Edge Zone with AT&T, which provided a low-latency path between the drone and the compute environment. This allowed much more responsive control over the drone’s flight path and is just one example of what’s possible when you combine 5G with edge computing,” Raj added.

“To really bring to life the unforeseen possibilities of 5G, we’ve partnered with Ericsson and Nokia who are helping us build out the technology and really the environment we need to be able to deliver those end-to-end consumer experiences that are really going to wow you and me when we see them on our phones,” Cary said.

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Separately, AT&T’s 5G+ [1.] will be available for customers to experience during Houston Rockets games and other events at the Houston Toyota Center.

First responders in Houston will also gain access to 5G+ on FirstNet®, America’s public safety network.  They will maintain voice communication through always-on priority and preemption on 4G-LTE and the intuitive FirstNet network will determine the best route for data traffic, whether that’s 5G+ or 4G-LTE spectrum.

Note 1.  AT&T’s 5G+ is the version of its 5G that uses millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. A 5G capable device that supports mmWave frequencies is needed to get access. [Note that the mmWave frequencies for IMT/5G have not yet been standardized in ITU-R M.1036 Recommendation.]

AT&T stipulates that it may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy. The move falls in line with AT&T’s strategy of treating existing customers similarly to new ones.

AT&T 5G+ is available in parts of 38 cities and more than 20 venues across the U.S. Learn more about AT&T’s 5G network at att.com/5gforyou and check out AT&T’s 5G coverage in the Houston area and across the Gulf coast of Texas here.

References:

https://www.fiercewireless.com/5g/at-t-launches-5g-innovation-studio-ericsson-nokia

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/att-announces-availability-of-super-fast-5g-service-at-toyota-center-301265296.html

https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html

https://about.att.com/newsroom/2021/5g_plus.html

 

NEC and Cisco in Global Systems Integrator Agreement for 5G IP Transport

NEC Corp and Cisco today announced they have entered into a Global System Integrator Agreement (GSIA) to expand their partnership for accelerating the deployment of innovative 5G IP transport network solutions worldwide.

[Will any other protocol besides IP operate over 5G data plane?]

Under the agreement, the companies will jointly drive new business opportunities for 5G. NEC group companies will work closely with Cisco to complement NEC’s ecosystem with optimized IP metro/access transport and edge cloud computing solutions. Cisco will support NEC’s customer engagements by offering best-in-class products, proposals and execution support.

The new agreement underlines NEC’s successful track record as a Cisco Gold Partner over two decades, and its proven engineering capabilities to provide Cisco products to its global customer base across multiple regions.

“We believe 5G is fueling the internet for the future, and accelerating our customers’ digital transformations,” said Jonathan Davidson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, Cisco. “Together with NEC, we are creating a powerful force to drive the critical changes needed in networking infrastructure to carry the internet into the next decade.”

“Collaboration across the network solution ecosystem is essential for continued success in meeting diversified customer requirements and establishing a win-win relationship,” said Mayuko Tatewaki, General Manager, Service Provider Solutions Division, NEC Corporation. “This powerful partnership strengthens our global competitiveness as a network integrator that drives the customer journey with innovative solutions.”

NEC and Cisco say they will make collaborative efforts to further enhance their joint solution portfolio and to optimize regional activities for advancing the digital transformation of customers across the globe.  Indeed, NEC has a long history of working with Cisco stretching back more than two decades. This includes the two working together on 4G LTE equipment that combined NEC’s RAN and backhaul assets with Cisco’s network equipment.

The two firms last year bolstered efforts in ensuring the security of their networking equipment. This involved using NEC’s blockchain technologies and Cisco’s fraud detection technologies to confirm the authenticity of network equipment used for security and critical industrial infrastructure before it was shipped to a customer, during the construction of those networks, and during operation.

NEC also participated in Rakuten Mobile’s 4G-LTE network deployment in Japan. NEC has so far gained the most from that deployment as it’s been tapped to provide a standalone (SA) 5G core network based on the specification it wrote with Rakuten Mobile.

NEC recently established an Global Open RAN Center of Excellence in the UK, which aims “to accelerate the global adoption of Open RAN and to further strengthen its structure for accelerating the global deployment of 5G.”

The company also developed (with Samsung) and demonstrated an O-RAN Alliance compliant 5G base station baseband unit (5G-CU/DU) on NTT DOCOMO’s commercial 5G network.

Source: NEC Corp.

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Cisco was initially part of Rakuten Mobile’s 4G-LTE deployment, but has been conspicuously absent from the Japanese carrier’s more recent 5G plans.  Cisco has been steadily bolstering its 5G focus with updates to its routing and networking equipment. This includes updates earlier this year to its router portfolio, and scoring a deal late last year with AT&T to assist with disaggregated IP routing technology for an edge routing platform.

Cisco has also been working with Japanese carrier KDDI on its 5G and network virtualization efforts. This included a proof-of-concept (PoC) last year that demonstrated cloud-native software with Cisco’s Ultra Packet Core platform.

Nonetheless, Cisco continues to lag behind the more established telecom vendors in providing 5G equipment.  They don’t make cellular base stations which limits their offerings to routers with 5G interfaces.

A recent Dell’Oro Group report placed Cisco a distant No. 5 among overall telecom equipment vendors, with its market share having shrunk by 1% from 2019 to 2020 to only 6%.

Top 7 Suppliers Year 2019 Year 2020
Huawei 28% 31%
Nokia 16% 15%
Ericsson 14% 15%
ZTE 9% 10%
Cisco 7% 6%
Ciena 3% 3%
Samsung 3% 2%

Source:  Dell’Oro Group

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References:

https://www.nec.com/en/press/202104/global_20210408_01.html

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/cisco-nabs-nec-to-expand-5g-reach/2021/04/

Japan’s NEC provides UK a 5G escape from Huawei

https://www.delloro.com/key-takeaways-total-telecom-equipment-market-2020/

Lumen Technologies and T-Mobile collaborate on edge compute for enterprise customers

Following this week’s Verizon-AWS announcement on Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC), T-Mobile US has entered the mobile edge computing business using wireline carrier Lumen Technologies (formerly CenturyLink) as its initial preferred vendor.

T-Mobile US has taken a decidedly different MEC approach compared to its two domestic rivals (Verizon and AT&T). The U.S.’s #2 wireless network operator effectively views the edge as a latter opportunity that doesn’t merit a large initial investment.  Its edge computing initiatives are exclusively focused on businesses and government agencies that fall under Lumen’s enterprise unit and T-Mobile for business.

“By pairing America’s largest and fastest 5G network with Lumen’s enterprise solutions, we can break down industry barriers and deliver unparalleled network reach to enterprise and government organizations looking to optimize their applications across networks,” Mike Katz, EVP for T-Mobile for Business, said in a prepared statement. “With our leading 5G network, Lumen and T-Mobile have the opportunity to accelerate business innovation in an era where the network is more critical than ever,” Katz added,

Enterprise applications will likely benefit from Lumen’s hundreds of thousands of fiber connected enterprise locations paired with T-Mobile’s “largest and fastest 5G network.”

“The Lumen platform, with 60 plus planned edge market nodes distributed on our high-capacity global fiber network enables application designs with latency of 5 milliseconds or less between the workload and the endpoint device,” wrote David Shacochis, VP of enterprise technology and field CTO at Lumen.

“Lumen’s fiber reach and edge computing resources can augment business solutions for T-Mobile customers, and private wireless solutions can augment business solutions for Lumen customers,” Shacochis added.

“The companies envision starting with metropolitan areas where they are already well connected, and expanding their joint go-to-market over time,” Shacochis wrote, adding that more details about commercial availability and services will be shared throughout 2021.

These efforts aim to address the pressing needs of enterprises to transform their networks to meet the data-intensive challenges across a variety of industries and use cases. Both companies will also continue to drive innovation in this space through T-Mobile’s labs and Tech Experience Center and the Lumen Edge Experience Center.

“Our relationship with T-Mobile aims to introduce a powerful trifecta – access to national 5G wireless and fiber connectivity, managed services across a range of technologies and edge computing resources,” said Shaun Andrews, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for Lumen Technologies. “T-Mobile’s expansive 5G footprint coupled with our extensive edge computing platform would provide enterprise developers with the best of both worlds to power the next wave of digital business.”

  • For a current list of Lumen live and planned edge locations, visit: https://www.lumen.com/en-us/solutions/edge-computing.html#edge-computing-map
  • The Lumen low latency network is comprised of approximately 450,000 global route miles of fiber and more than 180,000 on-net buildings, seamlessly connected to:
    • 2,200 public and private third-party data centers in North America, Europe & Middle East, Latin America, and Asia Pacific
    • Leading public cloud service providers including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure ExpressRoute & Azure Government, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud and Oracle Cloud

T-Mobile’s partnership with Lumen is likely just the beginning. “As in all things with 5G, I think a lot of our efforts have to be done through partnerships,” said John Saw, EVP of advanced and emerging technologies at T-Mobile.  Apparently, the network operator will form partnerships with many of the big vendors in the space, including hyperscalers (Google, Amazon, Microsoft), and other specialized mobile edge computing vendors.

Similarly, Shacochis said Lumen is also “open to and looking at” other partnerships in the wireless space. Lumen executives outlined a plan to offer edge compute services in August 2019. The company deployed its first block of edge nodes and obtained its first customer in Q3-2020, before formally launching its edge platform in December 2020.

Building on cloud partnerships with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services (AWS), Lumen bolstered its edge capabilities through additional deals with VMware and IBM.

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References:

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20210406005825/en/T-Mobile%E2%80%99s-Nationwide-5G-Network-the-Lumen-Edge-Computing-Platform-New-Choice-and-Flexibility-for-Enterprises

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/lumen-lands-t-mobiles-first-5g-edge-contract/2021/04/

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/lumen-strikes-edge-compute-deal-t-mobile

https://www.sdxcentral.com/edge/definitions/multi-access-edge-computing-vendors/

IBM and Verizon Business Collaborate on 5G, Edge Computing and AI Solutions for Enterprise Customers

 

 

Amazon AWS and Verizon Business Expand 5G Collaboration with Private MEC Solution

AWS and Verizon Business have expanded their 5G collaboration to provide private multi-access edge computing (Private MEC) for enterprises. Private MEC integrates edge computing infrastructure with private networks deployed on or near the customer’s premises. AWS and Verizon have integrated Verizon’s 5G Edge MEC platform with AWS Outposts [1.], a fully managed service that offers the same AWS Infrastructure, AWS services, APIs, and tools to virtually any data center, colocation space, or on-premises facility for a consistent, hybrid experience.

Note 1. Outposts is AWS’ on-premises option that involves data center equipment being installed at an enterprise facility. It uses AWS infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools to support a hybrid cloud service. Verizon is offering several form factor options of Outposts, include 1U and 2U deployments.

AWS initially launched Outposts in late 2019. “Instead of building this funky bridge between two things,” on-premises data centers and the cloud, Outposts brings native AWS services into on-premises data centers while “seamlessly connecting to AWS’s broad array of services in the cloud,” AWS CEO Andy Jassy explained at the time.

Outposts is similar to competing offers like Microsoft’s Azure Arc, Google’s Anthos, and IBM’s Cloud Satellite. AWS last month also struck a deal with Nokia to combine Outposts with the telecom vendor’s RAN and edge equipment to target the enterprise space.

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Verizon Business customers will be able to tap into the combination to deploy a fully managed private mobile edge compute network within their on-premises environment that can handle low-latency applications like intelligent logistics, robotics, and factory automation.

MEC deployment across different enterprise networks. Source: ETSI

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According to Amazon,  cloud migrations are often inhibited by residency or privacy constraints that prevent data from leaving the premises, strict compute latency requirements, or the need for cloud infrastructure to connect directly to onsite equipment. Similarly, many workloads involve huge volume of data, making transfers to the cloud infeasible due to limited available network bandwidth and timing constraints.

Furthermore, enterprise applications commonly depend on local wired or Wi-Fi networks to transport data locally. While wired networks can provide acceptable performance, they are expensive to upgrade, reroute, and extend. On the other hand, enterprise Wi-Fi offers simplicity and cost-effectiveness, but offers less manageability and suffers from coverage, capacity, reliability, security, and handoff issues.

The Private MEC solution deployed on AWS Outposts addresses these challenges by providing a secure, dedicated cloud computing platform and reliable on-premises wireless networking based on 5G, all using a single infrastructure deployment. The private 5G network offers better performance, control, reliability, and density than existing options. Combined with the AWS services brought by AWS Outposts, we are enabling Enterprise customers to deploy low latency, high-performance applications on their premises, leveraging both the benefits of 5G and the cloud, locally. By leveraging Private MEC enterprises can host workloads in emerging areas such as Industry 4.0; for example, Private MEC and private 5G can facilitate deeper integration between IT and operational technology (OT) systems in manufacturing facilities.

Private MEC also supports many use cases beyond the factory. Events and venues, such as sports, concerts, and theme parks can use Private MEC to provide enhanced experiences with AR/VR, live information overlays, multi-camera, multiple angle views, and personalized instant replays. Healthcare providers use Private MEC for real-time diagnostics over 5G for rapid access to radiological scans on-site and local processing of sensitive patient data. Schools and universities can benefit from Private MEC by servicing students in rural areas without adequate broadband coverage to run applications like virtual desktops. We are excited about the innovations that Private MEC solutions can unlock across industries, and continue to work with customers to power their innovation with edge computing.

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Amazon AWS is also working with Corning Incorporated, a leading materials science and advanced manufacturing innovator, and Verizon to deploy a Private MEC solution on AWS Outposts at the Corning factory in Hickory, North Carolina. Corning uses AWS Outposts to run computer vision software from Gestalt Robotics that provides autonomous navigation and advanced environmental sensing. Corning recently installed an AWS Outposts rack that places the power of the AWS cloud within the four walls of its optical cable plant in Hickory, North Carolina.

The AWS capabilities that Outposts delivers, combined with the ultra-low latency, high throughput of the private 5G network, provide a powerful platform upon which Corning will innovate with applications never before possible, such as real-time analysis of large volumes of high-resolution video streams from across the factory and integration of high-data-rate automation systems. In factory environments like this, Amazon EC2 instances with GPU acceleration provide the necessary computing power to run Computer Vision (CV) and AI/ML workloads efficiently, enabling real-time control of Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) that roam the factory floors.

The software running on the Private MEC service can guide the AMRs safely and speedily through a factory, avoiding people and obstacles while ferrying their payloads from point to point. The Private 5G network enables reliable, low-latency transmission of rich sensor data (lidar, vibration, temperature, audio) from these AMRs and other industrial devices located throughout the factory. Importantly, this enables operators to observe a live stream of video in near real-time and intervene when necessary.

The same computer vision technology used by the AMRs for navigation and safety can also be used to detect and inventory raw material and finished goods in a factory. Mobile video streams from the AMRs can be combined with feeds from cameras installed in the factory and onsite sensor inputs and RFIDs for accurate counting and tracking. In addition, integration with Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) running on Outposts enables real-time monitoring, automation, and optimization, as raw material is turned into the final product.

This opens up possibilities such as performing predictive maintenance and servicing of onsite machinery without the need to ship massive amounts of sensor data over network links into the cloud. Private MEC solutions like this enable factories to become even smarter and leverage the power of innovation that AWS brings to the cloud, while simplifying the deployment and management of on-premise networking with the latest 5G technologies.

References:

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/industries/aws-and-verizon-expand-5g-collaboration-with-private-mec-solution/

https://aws.amazon.com/outposts/

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/verizon-adds-aws-outposts-to-5g-edge-plan/2021/04/

Private MEC solutions

Verizon 5G Edge

https://www.etsi.org/images/files/ETSITechnologyLeaflets/MultiAccessEdgeComputing.pdf

Corning