Vodafone-Espana trial: 5G connected drone (UAS) enables Guardia Civil to improve surveillance in rural areas

Vodafone Spain has completed a trial with the Guardia Civil military police force to evaluate the viability of using 5G networks to improve surveillance using remote-controlled drones.

The pilot test consisted of using the 5G network to improve communication of the UAS  (unmanned aerial vehicle systems) drone for surveillance tasks in rural areas or areas with difficult access. The drone was remotely-controlled by the Guardia Civil.

The Tarsis fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle system of local provider Aertec Solutions coupled with a 5G smartphone for both high-definition and 4k camera communications, as well as flight command management.

Vodafone said its 5G network provided the maximum bandwidth and minimum latency required for the transmission of high-quality images and control signals in real time, allowing specialist pilots to operate the drone remotely from a control center.

In order to carry out teleoperation safely, it was necessary to broadcast high quality images from cameras installed in the UAS and to send remote control actions or reference coordinates by the pilot.

The pilot trial was the latest test in the Andalucia 5G initiative which has been promoted by Spain’s ICT development agency Red.es, which is being developed by Vodafone and Huawei.

This is one of the two projects that Spain’s Government has promoted through the first public call for aid to 5G pilots, resolved in the spring of 2019.

Presented in November 2019 in Seville, it includes 35 use cases that will apply the benefits of 5G technology in the sectors of energy, industry, smart cities, tourism, agriculture, health and dependency, security, emergencies and defense, society and digital economy.

Vodafone said the project’s budget is EUR 25.4 million, including EUR 6.3 million from Red.es.  It will cover the provinces of Seville, Jaen, Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva.





Deutsche Telekom tests 5G SA network via “Telekom cloud infrastructure”

Deutsche Telekom has started testing the “standalone” (SA) version of 5G, setting up its first 5G SA antenna site in the town of Garching, near Munich.  The site will be the first in Germany with 5G core network technology, which has yet to be standardized.

The antenna site will soon be connected to a 5G Standalone core network. The core network will be implemented via a Telekom cloud infrastructure. The hallmark of 5G Standalone is that the infrastructure in the core network will also be fully upgraded to a new, cloud-based 5G architecture. This is the next evolution of 5G and also a prerequisite for new deployment options.

Deutsche Telekom has already achieved 68% coverage of the German population with non-standalone (NSA) version of 5G, which uses the existing 4G-LTE network as an anchor for all non radio aspects.

“It is important for us to be at the forefront of the further innovation steps of 5G,” says Claudia Nemat, Board Member for Technology and Innovation at Telekom. “To ensure that our customers can take advantage of technologies such as network slicing or edge computing in the future, we continue to actively drive the development of 5G and its features.”

With 5G Standalone, the network structure and architecture is changing. The 5G technology currently deployed in Germany is based on the 5G Non-Standalone (5G NSA) network architecture. This means that today’s 5G offerings are still technically dependent on a simultaneously available 4G network (LTE) and virtually “piggyback” on this network, i.e., they do not yet function completely independently.

“5G standalone is one of the goals for us with 5G,” said Walter Goldenits, head of technology at Telekom Deutschland. “The network innovation in Garching is initially the first step for us into the 5G SA live network. It helps us to gain necessary and important experience with 5G SA. A rollout in the area will then also depend on the requirements of our customers. Technology and the market will play a joint role in further development.”

There are currently no terminals for customers that support 5G standalone. Telekom is therefore conducting the first tests with special development software on commercially available devices. The goal is to test various connections and applications that function completely standalone and without the support of 4G in the coming weeks.

“The further roll-out of 5G is the preparation of our network for the next steps in 5G development. We will use every opportunity to make 5G even faster and develop it further,” says Walter Goldenits.


Image courtesy of Samsung


Last month, Samsung and Deutsche Telekom conducted their first 5G SA trial in Pilsen, the Czech Republic, verifying performance of 5G SA multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO) technologies.

The trial used Samsung’s latest end-to-end 5G SA solutions. In the SA trial, the two companies achieved outstanding results with the MU-MIMO technology using Samsung’s 3.5GHz Massive MIMO radio. The spectrum efficiency was tripled in comparison to that of LTE under realistic conditions and the throughput was increased by about 2.5 times of SU-MIMO (Single-User MIMO).

“We are pleased to collaborate with Samsung to verify the performance of its 5G SA solution,” said Alex Choi, SVP Strategy & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom. “Together with strong partners we are consistently introducing advanced technical capabilities into our network, and we are very excited about the potential of 5G SA networks to further accelerate the 5G evolution.”

Samsung also said:  “5G SA architecture enables mobile operators to have more efficient and simple network operations, while empowering 5G networks to deliver immersive user experiences and new business models for enterprises.”








Huawei: 5G Technology Illuminates the Future + Huawei analysis

On the eve of  MWC Shanghai 2021Ryan Ding, CEO and President of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group, talked about “5G technology lights up the future.”

“2020 has been a difficult year. During that period, Huawei worked closely with our customers,” said Ding.

In 2020, Huawei supported the stable operations of more than 300 networks in more than 170 countries and helped operators offer online services and minimize the impact of the pandemic on their businesses. In collaboration with Huawei, the operators attracted 22 million new residential wireless broadband users around the world. Thanks to this, people can easily access telemedicine services and work from home.

“5G developed faster than we expected.”  More than 140 commercial 5G networks have been implemented in 59 countries.

According to Ding, more than 50% of these networks were built by Huawei. The ecosystem is also developing. In China , more than 68% of the smartphones distributed in 2020 were 5G phones. More than 200 industrial 5G modules and devices are currently available, supporting 5G applications in a wide range of industries.

Huawei’s Ryan Deng talking up 5G

According to reports prepared in 2020 by market research firms such as IHS, P3, OpenSignal and Meqyas, the best 5G networks in Seoul, Amsterdam, Madrid, Zurich, Hong Kong and Riyadh were the ones that Huawei built.

Ding highlighted that a good experience on the web is the foundation of commercial success and that these six cities are only the tip of the iceberg of its purpose of collaborative innovation with the operators.

For example, by implementing Huawei’s AAU 64T64R and market-leading multi-antenna algorithms, LG u + achieved greater spectrum efficiency and a network experience more than 25% better than other carriers. With Huawei’s Blade AAU, which can operate in the Sub3G and C bands, Sunrise reduced site acquisition time from 24 months to just 6 months and was the only operator with 5 consecutive outstanding ratings in Switzerland.

5G is becoming part of the core production processes of industries.  Looking ahead, Ding was optimistic about the prospect of a large-scale deployment of 5G industrial applications in 2021.

5G applications have been incorporated in more than 20 industries including manufacturing, healthcare, education and logistics. The manager pointed to examples of sectors in China where industrial 5G applications are already proving their value, such as in coal mining and steel fabrication and production, where the adoption of 5G technology has made production safer, smarter and more efficient. He also stressed: “5G is no longer exclusive to pioneer users, but aims to improve our daily lives. 2021 will be the 1st year with large-scale industrial 5G applications.

Operators will need new capabilities in planning areas network operations, implementation, maintenance, optimization and operations to achieve zero-to-one progress and replicate one-to-many success.

At the next MWC Shanghai, Huawei will hold in-depth exhibitions and discussions on these topics with stakeholders. of the sector, both online and through means that do not require connection. We will continue to innovate to help our customers develop the best 5G networks and achieve greater business success.”

SOURCE: Huawei


Analysis by Iain Morris of Light Reading:

Of today’s 140 “live” 5G networks, Huawei built more than half, said Ryan Ding, the head of Huawei’s networks division, during the company’s traditional briefing before the annual MWC Shanghai show (normally scheduled for June, it switched places with the bigger Barcelona show this year due to coronavirus).

Huawei can rely on a domestic market that has awarded almost 90% of all mobile infrastructure business to Chinese vendors. When the number of 5G base stations in a country hits 700,000, as it did last year in China, any pain elsewhere becomes tolerable.  Several hundred thousand more are planned in 2021. Contrast that with Europe, where the entire region in 2019 hosted fewer than half a million mobile sites, according to Ernst & Young.

Even in Europe, Huawei’s networks business has not suffered as badly as it might have done. Several big countries have resisted political pressure to copy the UK and exclude Huawei from the future 5G market. They include Germany, where Huawei last year accounted for more than half the country’s mobile infrastructure. Its government undoubtedly fears the ramifications of a ban for exports of cars and machine tools to China.

Huawei’s massive fixed-line business has also been allowed to chug on outside the UK, which is now weighing a final decision. Smaller than the radio access networks business, broadband products still generated more than $8.4 billion in global revenues last year, according to Omdia, a sister company to Light Reading. Some 43% of that went to Huawei. In France, where authorities have indicated they will not renew licenses for Huawei’s mobile equipment, Orange counts Huawei as one of its two main broadband vendors (the other being Nokia).


Several European operators, including Deutsche Telekom, Orange and Spain’s Telefónica, have previously bought Huawei equipment for the cloud services they offer to their business customers. “Huawei provides standards servers (with the so-called x86 architecture) for the Open Telekom Cloud,” said a Deutsche Telekom spokesperson, in an email to Light Reading, when asked if that equipment remained in use.




Report Linker: 5G Security Market to experience rapid growth through 2026

Report Linker forecasts that the global 5G security market will grow from USD 580 million in 2020 to USD 5,226 million by 2026, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 44.3% during the forecast period.

The 5G security market is gaining traction due to rising security concerns in the 5G networks, increasing ransomware attacks on IoT devices, rising attacks on critical infrastructure, and increasing IoT connections paved way for mMTC with enhanced security requirement. However, high cost of 5G security solutions will restrain the adoption by SMEs.

The implied negative flipside for operators and enterprises, of course, is that more money will have to be spent on tackling 5G vulnerabilities. The report pointedly notes that the high cost of 5G security solutions will limit adoption by SMEs.

Based on solution type, the DDoS protection solution segment is expected to grow with the fastest growth rate during the forecast period
The DDoS protection segment is projected to grow with the most rapid growth rate in 2020 to 2026.Enterprises use DDoS protection and mitigation solutions and services for adaptive defense against DDoS attacks.

These attacks further affect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of resources, which may result in billion-dollar losses for enterprises.

Enterprises segment to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period
Enterprises are undergoing digital transformation across different industries. Businesses are in various stages of implementing new technologies to develop new solutions, improve service delivery, increase operational efficiency, reduce cost, gain competitive advantage, and meet rising customer expectations. 5G will soon make it into the list of technologies enterprise will consider, with standalone 5G solutions that will enable various new industrial applications, such as robotics, big data analytics, IIoT and AR/VR in engineering and design, as well as new ways to provide remote support and training. As a result, enterprises will need 5G security mechanism to secure the entire network, applications, and devices.


Asia Pacific (APAC) region to record the highest growth and also account for largest markety share in the 5G security market
APAC region is set to dominate 5G, edge computing, blockchain, and 5G security technology, due to its size, diversity, and the strategic lead taken by countries, including Singapore, South Korea, China, Australia, and Japan.These countries have always supported and promoted industrial and technological growth.

Also, they possess a developed technological infrastructure, which is promoting the adoption of 5G security solutions across all industry verticals.  Moreover, the region has become the center of attraction for major investments and business expansion opportunities.

While Reportlinker.com praises APAC for leading in 5G security, Europe is way behind if a recent report according to a report from the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

A year-long ECA probe into how European Union (EU) member states are dealing with 5G security found that while “member states have started to develop and implement necessary security measures to mitigate risks, they seem to be progressing at a different pace.”

More worryingly, Annemie Turtelboom, the ECA member leading the audit, indicated that some EU countries were bypassing supplier security checks in order to speed up 5G rollout.


Companies such as ZTE (China), Samsung (South Korea), and Huawei (China) are heavily investing in the upcoming 5G technology and are initiating field trials together with some of the leading mobile service carriers, such as China Telecom (China), KT (South Korea), SK Telecom (South Korea), China Mobile (China), SoftBank (Japan), and China Unicom (China).

• By Company Type: Tier 1 – 62%, Tier 2 – 23%, and Tier 3 – 15%
• By Designation: C-level – 38%, Directors – 30%, and Others – 32%
• By Region: North America – 40%, Europe – 15%, APAC – 35%, and Rest of the World (RoW)– 10%

This research study outlines the market potential, market dynamics, and major vendors operating in the 5G security market. Key and innovative vendors in the 5G security market include A10 Networks (US), Akamai (US), Allot (Israel), AT&T (US), Avast (Czech Republic), Check Point (US), Cisco (US), Clavister (Sweden), Colt Technology (UK), Ericsson (Sweden), F5 Networks (US), ForgeRock (US), Fortinet (US), G+D Mobile Security (Germany), Huawei (China), Juniper Networks (US), Mobileum (US), Nokia (Finland), Palo Alto Networks (US), Positive Technologies (UK), Radware (Israel), Riscure (The Netherlands), Spirent (US), Trend Micro (Japan), and ZTE (China).

Research coverage
The market study covers the 5G security market across different segments.  It aims at estimating the market size and the growth potential of this market across different segments based on component (solutions and services), network component security, architecture, end user, deployment type, vertical, and region.

The study also includes an in-depth competitive analysis of the key market players, along with their company profiles, key observations related to product and business offerings, recent developments, and key market strategies.




5G Network Coverage Increases in Saudi Arabia; STC Selects Ericsson as Managed Service Provider

Saudi Arabia’s Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) has announced that seven additional cities and provinces were covered by 5G services in Q4 2020, bringing the total to 51 cities and provinces in various regions of Saudi Arabia.

CITC’s quarterly ‘Meqyas’ report highlighted that Zain led  in terms of 5G footprint in the Kingdom, covering 44 cities and provinces, followed by the Saudi Telecom Company (STC) with 22 and Mobily with 21 cities and provinces.

STC recorded the highest average 5G download speed of up to 342.35Mbps, followed by Zain (338.12MB) and Mobily (220.86Mbps). The Meqyas report also revealed that Zain has deployed 5G services in all regions of the Kingdom except Makkah, in which Mobily recorded the best performance during Q4 2020.

Separately, STC announced the deployment of its 5G network in 47 cities around the country.  It’s part of its plan to strengthen its leadership in reliable mobile coverage and deploy the largest 5G network in the Middle East. According to STC, phase 2 of the plan will increase 5G network coverage in Saudi Arabia to over 71 cities across the country.

As part of its infrastructure enhancement, the FTTH fiber optic network is also going to be expanded. This will enable higher broadband speeds and services to home and business users.  In addition, STC has also confirmed that it has been expanding its global Internet Gateway, progressively growing the capacity of the network.

Eng. Haithem Al Faraj, SVP, technology and operations, STC, said: “STC will continue to pursue an aggressive 5G expansion, together with growth in its advanced 4G network.”

Saudi Arabia 5G network industrial illustration, large cellular tower or mast on modern background with the flag - 3D Illustration Stock Illustration - 118596051







Posted in 5G

LightCounting: AT&T relinquishes leadership in network virtualization

AT&T made a lot of noise about its six-year push to virtualize 75% of its network functions, a goal it claims it reached in September 2020. The debt plagued network operator earned praise for being so outspoken about its software defined network (SDN) effort earlier than its competitors.

However, something changed in the last few months, and signs suggest AT&T has relinquished its leadership role, according to LightCounting.

In a recent blog post, LightCounting suggests AT&T has relinquished its leadership role. First, John Donovan left AT&T in October 2019.  Former CTO Chris Rice, who played a key role in AT&T’s SDN, virtualization and cloud efforts, left in August 2020. During that period, there were job losses at AT&T, but what wasn’t reported were cutbacks in research and some of the open networking projects that AT&T had initiated. And its active blog detailing its latest network transformation developments is largely about open networking developments it is involved in with other companies, rather than its own initiatives.

Could it be that AT&T set too fast a pace and the industry pack caught it up? Or is greater financial pragmatism needed to tackle its debt following its two huge media company acquisitions in recent years?

Many leading CSPs are pursuing network transformation, in addition to AT&T, but the industry has a few visionaries and AT&T until recently served this valuable role.  It remains to be seen if that will continue.

“If any one operator has sort of driven the whole vision of disaggregated, that software-defined networking, virtualization, white boxes, this is something that AT&T has pushed more than any other operator, and they put it into effect as well,” Roy Rubenstein, consultant at LightCounting, told SDxCentral in a phone interview.

“Its contributions, the various open source projects they then contributed to these open source organizations has been significant,” he said, adding that AT&T was, at least until late last year, “a real trailblazer.”

Grant Lenahan, partner and principal analyst at Appledore Research, has a less complimentary view of AT&T’s stature and success on virtualization. “It’s not clear how far ahead AT&T ever were,” he wrote in response to questions.


This author’s checks with AT&T employees (in 2019 and 2020) indicated that vendor proprietary boxes were still in AT&T Central Offices and Data Centers.  They had NOT been replaced by network virtualization software running on compute servers!  The big exception was AT&T’s deployment of “dis-aggregated core routers” running Israeli unicorn DriveNets network OS and Network Cloud solution software.  The DriveNets software then connects into AT&T’s centralized SDN controller that optimizes the routing of traffic across the core.

“We chose DriveNets, a disruptive supplier, to provide the Network Operating System (NOS) software for this core use case,” AT&T said in a  September 28, 2020 story on its website.

“We are thrilled about this opportunity to work with AT&T on the development of their next gen, software-based core network,” said Ido Susan, CEO of DriveNets. “AT&T has a rigorous certification process that challenged my engineers to their limits, and we are delighted to take the project to the next level with deployment into the production network.”


“There’s definitely been a change in terms of AT&T’s own vocality and in a sense the industry has lost an important evangelist of this,” Rubenstein said.

While AT&T’s 75% milestone suggests it still has another 25% to go, that math doesn’t really add up, according to Rubenstein. The operator has effectively virtualized everything it intends to operate with software in the core of its network and the remaining 25% represents network functions or services that will just be operated to the end of their life and then decommissioned, he said.

AT&T’s decision to frame its virtualization journey on a percentage basis was also an over simplification of the work involved and objectives it achieved, Lenahan explained, adding that most operators use this framework to make their results appear more flattering.

“It’s very unclear and early announcements were unlikely or unrealistic,” he added “Solid, well understood metrics would be really useful” to gain a better understanding of what exactly has been virtualized.

The biggest bottleneck on virtualization is the service life of equipment, and that’s why Appledore Research believes the virtualization journey will span roughly two decades throughout the industry, according to Lenahan. “It’s also worth pointing out that the entire idea of virtualization flies in the face of decades of [99.999% reliability] thinking and deep, precise control of all assets, and therefore is a cultural shift,” he said.

While AT&T’s 75% milestone suggests it still has another 25% to go, that math doesn’t really add up, according to Rubenstein. The operator has effectively virtualized everything it intends to operate with software in the core of its network and the remaining 25% represents network functions or services that will just be operated to the end of their life and then decommissioned, he said.

AT&T’s decision to frame its virtualization journey on a percentage basis was also an over simplification of the work involved and objectives it achieved, Lenahan explained, adding that most operators use this framework to make their results appear more flattering.

“It’s very unclear and early announcements were unlikely or unrealistic,” he added “Solid, well understood metrics would be really useful” to gain a better understanding of what exactly has been virtualized.

The biggest bottleneck on virtualization is the service life of equipment, and that’s why Appledore Research believes the virtualization journey will span roughly two decades throughout the industry, according to Lenahan. “It’s also worth pointing out that the entire idea of virtualization flies in the face of decades of [99.999% reliability] thinking and deep, precise control of all assets, and therefore is a cultural shift,” he said.


LightCounting argues that CSPs have just completed phase one of network transformation. The next phase extends the cloud to the network edge and embraces cloud-native software practices for network functions.  Telcos are now moving from Network Transformation phase 1.0 to 2.0 as per this figure:

5G is the catalyst for Phase 2.0. 5G has code-based network functions and SDN built in, and it brings capabilities that will enable new services and applications, so its rollout is a natural point to introduce new technologies. The opening up of the radio access network–Open RAN–which includes 5G, embraces all the techniques associated with network transformation.


More information on the report is available at:








Eric Schmidt: FCC C-Band Auction Dooms U.S. 5G Future

In an opinion piece published in the Financial Times (paywall applies), former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, said that the FCC’s C band auction would threaten U.S. telcos by drastically increasing their debt loads.  “It is a digital setback that America and its allies can ill-afford,” Schmidt said.  Here are other excerpts from Schmidt’s FT op-ed:

FCC Auction 107 issued 280MHz in the valuable “C-Band” spectrum (3.7GHz-3.98GHz)  — the ideal frequencies for 5G — to mobile telecommunications companies for network development.

But it imposed no meaningful requirement to build necessary network infrastructure. The massive sums winners paid for the spectrum will reduce their financial capacity to actually use it. Instead, it will probably result in disinvestment and downsizing.

At the same time, $81bn is merely a trifle for the U.S. government, equivalent to less than a month of US debt issuance and the money is unlikely to be spent on the 5G network the country needs. The outcomes are predictable: Americans will face higher prices and weaker digital services — yesterday’s internet tomorrow.

That is what happened when European telecoms companies paid over the odds during the 3G auctions of the early 2000s. Europe is still recovering from its lost digital decade. At stake are not just internet speeds but preserving prosperity. Today’s leading technology companies are American because U.S. companies built the core components of high-speed data infrastructure in the 4G LTE era, which meant their software was positioned to succeed.  That is not the case for 5G.

Only 24 per cent of Europeans had access to a 5G network last autumn. US 5G is more marketing than a true step change in data speeds. In contrast, China will soon have a national network with speeds of 1 gigabit a second. With China’s head start, the next generation of technology giants — and the products and services they build — are not going to be European or American but Chinese.

My research team estimates that a gigabit C-band network covering 80 per cent of Americans will require 1m new cell sites and cost $70bn to build. Without it there will be no 5G, and no base on which to build 6G. America’s digital economy will become an also-ran.  We need aggressive, innovative strategies to prompt rapid infrastructure buildout. It will show the world that there are viable alternatives to Chinese digital hegemony.

Here are three ways to do it:

  1. Congress should use the proceeds of Auction 107 for a special data infrastructure fund to provide direct aid to states that build physical 5G infrastructure.
  2. The money could be allocated to promote rapid and equitable buildout.
  3. The foregone revenue would be recouped by the documented economic boost brought by higher data speeds.

If the FCC auctions more spectrum, it should insist on getting infrastructure (built by the winning bidders). A true 5G network will require more than the C-Band auction’s 280MHz of spectrum.

Japan, China, South Korea, the UK and Canada will assign an average of 660MHz of mid-band spectrum each for 5G by 2023. Future auctions must set stringent build requirements, with penalties for underperformance.

Pursue alternatives to auctions. The defence department has proposed sharing government-controlled spectrum with commercial providers if they build infrastructure quickly.

Auction 107 has put what could be the penultimate nail in the coffin of U.S. global technology leadership. Policymakers must pursue all available means to bolster digital infrastructure rather than focusing on filling government coffers.


Although the identity of bidders and how much they’ve committed to spend will not be revealed until the assignment phase of Auction 107 is completed, there are signs operators shelled out much more than they anticipated.

Analysts at Credit Suisse, for example, reckon that AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will need to increase their aggregate debt load by a quarter, to $400 billion, to finance their expected purchases.

Ed Cholerton, who was recently promoted to Nokia’s president for North American customer experience, said, “Countries that seek to pad the treasury with these license fees hold back deployments and put themselves at disadvantage to China and others who don’t go down this path.”

Analysts at New Street Research have most recently estimated that AT&T would spend $24 billion on C-band, with Verizon estimated at $29 billion and T-Mobile at $13 billion. Meanwhile, analysts at Cowen have estimated AT&T’s C-band spend at $20 billion; Verizon’s at $35 billion; and T-Mobile at $10-15 billion.

AT&T recently filed an SEC Form 8-K, indicating that it has secured a $14.7 billion term loan credit with Bank of America, and that the purpose of the loan may include “financing acquisitions of additional spectrum.”

Schmidt Futures estimates that a gigabit C-band network, covering 80% of Americans, will require 1 million new cell sites and cost around $70 billion to build.  “Without it there will be no 5G, and no base on which to build 6G,” said Schmidt. “America’s digital economy will become an also-ran.”







Analysis: FCC’s C band auction impact on U.S. wireless telcos

Assessment of COVID-19 impact on telecom industry; C-Band Spectrum Update

Strategy Analytics: Global sales of 4G, 5G-enabled PCs rise 70% in 2020

Global sales of cellular-enabled mobile PCs grew by 70% to an annual record of over 10 million units for the first time in 2020 as home workers sought improved connectivity in response to the closure of office facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an analysis from Strategy Analytics.

North America accounted for nearly half of 3G, 4G and 5G-enabled PC shipments, while Europe and Asia-Pacific accounted for 45%. The researchers estimate that more than 26 million cellular-enabled PCs are now in use worldwide, an increase of 25 percent in twelve months.

Figure 1. Global Cellular-Enabled Notebook PC Shipments (millions)

While 4G-LTE dominated the market in 2020, accounting for 97% of cellular-enabled PC shipments, 5G notebook launches in 2021 are showing a greater diversity in price points, form factors and vendor participation, the study said. The researchers expect 5G to build its share towards 69 percent by 2025, a growth that will depend on improvements in customer education by vendors, carriers and retailers.

“What form new pricing plans take in the 5G world must be informed by a holistic view of the consumer, which devices they use where, and what they use them for,” says Chirag Upadhyay, Industry Analyst. “In the enterprise space, vendors, carriers and resellers must be able to explain how connected notebooks help save companies money in the field and help reduce security breaches compared to mobile hotspots or dongles.”

Eric Smith, Director, Connected Computing Devices, added: “We see this is a ‘when’ problem, not an ‘if’ problem. Cellular connected notebooks will become more commonplace over the next decade but the key to when that happens lies in how industry players introduce the idea to consumers. A clear view into how users choose cellular plans is crucial for vendors, carriers, and even retailers to understand how to better educate consumer segments of more cellular-embedded options.”




Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) defacto standard for 5G core and OpenRAN?

In Japanese, Rakuten stands for “optimism.” This philosophy lies at the core of the company’s brand.  They may be the leader is selling 5G mobile core network specs to global network operators in the absence of any ITU standards or 3GPP detailed implementation specs.

Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) has been sold to a total of 15 customers so far, according to the company’s mobile networking CTO Tareq Amin.

“We have already 15 global customers. A lot of people don’t know that the sales already started. And these are not small customers. Some of them are very, very massive,” he said this week during a virtual roundtable with members of the media. “I’m really delighted to see that we finally are reaching a stage where possibly in the next quarter or so we have a very large contract about the entire RCP stack.”

Regarding network performance, Amin explained that success factors are based on virtualization, standardization, optimization and automatizing. Combined, they lead to more cost efficiency, innovation, affordability and growth.

Rakuten Mobile was the first to deploy a large-scale OpenRAN commercial network and the first fully virtualized, cloud-native mobile network. And Amin refutes the perceived limitations of open radio access networks, arguing that Rakuten Mobile’s only limitation today is spectrum assets.

“With less than 20% of spectrum assets compared to our competitors, we are doing great.  OpenRAN does not mean we have an average network; the truth is that we have a world-class network,” he added, explaining that once Rakuten Mobile moves from five to 20MHz, there will be a significant improvement in performance, while 5G deployment is also accelerating.

Despite launching a commercial service during a global pandemic, Rakuten Mobile already has received more than 2 million applications, with the majority of applications made online rather than in stores.

Rakuten appears to have broadened its focus a few months later when it announced it acquired operational support system (OSS) provider Innoeye for the “Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP).”

Rakuten Mobile LTE Spectrum Assets

Rakuten officially took the wraps off RCP in October 2020 with an announcement that it was “bringing 5G to the word.” The business is based in Singapore and headed by Rabih Dabboussi, who previously worked at networking giant Cisco and cybersecurity company DarkMatter, according to his LinkedIn profile, before joining Rakuten in May 2020.

RCP essentially is the platform on which Rakuten is building its 4G and 5G networks in Japan. Amin explained that the offering consists of a number of different, interchangeable pieces including network orchestration, cloud management and artificial intelligence provided by a range of participating suppliers. RCP customers can pick and choose which parts of the platform they wish to use.

RCP essentially positions Rakuten against cloud giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft, companies that are also selling cloud-based network management and operational services to network operators globally. Indeed, Microsoft last year acquired Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks in pursuit of that goal.

Rakuten’s sales of RCP are directly linked to the success of the company’s ongoing 4G and 5G network buildouts in Japan. As a result, the company has been quick to address concerns over the performance of its mobile network in Japan which is both based on RCP.

“What we’ve done in 4G was enabling a world-first virtualized infrastructure. For 5G, we have a world-first containerized architecture, completely cloud-native radio access software that is (made up of) disaggregated micro services,” he explained.

“Between LTE, which is 40MHz and about 500MHz of spectrum assets, we think we have a very strong position to be able to increase capacity and demand.”

“We’re very confident about our business model and our business plan. And the idea to have zero churn in the network is also a unique value proposition that really emphasizes the critical role of the [Rakuten Mobile] ecosystem and the critical role of data for our long term viability,” said Amin.





Why It’s IMPORTANT: Telefonica, Rakuten MOU on Open RAN, 5G Core Network and OSS

Rakuten Mobile, Inc. and NEC to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network

Another Open RAN Consortium: 5G Open RAN Ecosystem led by NTT Docomo

Japan wireless network operator NTT Docomo has partnered with 12 companies to create the ‘5G Open RAN Ecosystem.’ The companies are: Dell Technologies Japan, Fujitsu, Intel, Mavenir, NEC, NTT Data, Nvidia, Qualcomm Technologies, Red Hat, VMware, Wind River and Xilinx.

Their plan is to accelerate open radio access networks (Open RAN) and help enable global network deployment to serve diverse company and operator needs in the 5G era.

The O-RAN Alliance, which NTT Docomo has helped lead since its launch, has developed specifications and promoted products that allow operators to combine disaggregated base station equipment. Docomo has been actively developing the products for its own 4G/5G network in Japan.

Docomo will start talks with the 12 companies on accelerating open RAN introduction to operators.

Specifically, NTT DOCOMO’s target is to package best-of-breed RAN and to introduce, operate and manage them based on demands from operators considering open RAN introduction. By leveraging its years of activities in driving open network and know-how (which realized the world’s first open RAN for 5G using O-RAN), NTT DOCOMO is committed to maximize companies’ strengths in furtherance of the 5G Open RAN Ecosystem, and providing high-quality and flexible networks.

5G Open RAN Ecosystem:

open ran viavi

Image courtesy of Viavi Solutions


Additionally, NTT DOCOMO will develop vRAN (virtualized RAN) with higher flexibility and scalability to further drive open RAN targeting commercialization in 2022. As COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) servers can be used and dedicated equipment are not required for vRAN, it is possible to realize flexible and cost efficient networks. As of today, NTT DOCOMO will start discussion towards verification of vRAN, including performance assessments. As for the vRAN verification environment that will be constructed, opportunities for remote usage will be made available for operators themselves to freely conduct tests.

NTT DOCOMO says it will continue to cooperate with various industry partners towards accelerating wide adoption of open network, especially O-RAN and vRAN, which can cater for diversifying needs with flexibility and agility.

Comment & Analysis::

As with the  two other Open RAN alliances (TIP Open RAN and O-RAN), the new 5G Open RAN Ecosystem does NOT have a formal liaison agreement with either 3GPP or ITU-R WP 5D (4G-LTE and IMT 2020 standards).  Yet they are all trying to implement disaggregated network elements/equipment for 4G and 5G.

Last month legacy mobile operators Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone Group established a collaboration or Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) covering the rollout and development of open RAN technology, in a bid to ensure the continent keeps up with early pacesetters, namely Rakuten Mobile and NTT Docomo in Japan.   

Today, Telecom Italia (TIM) said it has joined that initiative to support the development and implementation of  Open RAN as the technology of choice for future mobile networks across Europe.  TIM said it was committed to the development of innovative mobile network systems that used open virtualized architecture to facilitate increasingly agile, flexible, secure and functional 5G services.

However, there are no standards or 3GPPP specifications on Open RAN. Therefore, one must question if there will be different versions coming out of each consortium?  Will the virtualized Open RAN architecture be implemented consistently?  Will the 4G/5G endpoints be affected by different Open RAN implementations?

What is Open RAN is a good tutorial on this increasingly important subject.





NTT DOCOMO to Establish a 5G Consortium in Thailand

NTT Docomo and an international group of several other companies have recently established a consortium to provide 5G services, first in Thailand and later in other Asia Pacific countries with the possible inclusion of additional partners. The initial members of the 5G Global Enterprise solution Consortium (5GEC) will be Activio, AGC, Advanced Wireless Network, Exeo Asia, Fujitsu, Loxley Public Company, Mobile Innovation, NEC Corp, NEC Networks & System Integration, NTT Communications, NTT Data Institute of Management Consulting, NTT Docomo, and NTT Ltd.