Dish Network: 5G O-RAN compliant, multi-vendor network; Boost and Ting on board

5G O-RAN Network Progress, but no deployment schedule:

Dish Network President & CEO W. Erik Carlson said on Friday’s earnings call that the company was making progress in  “building the nation’s first O-RAN compliant 5G network and since the last call we’ve named several key vendors including Altiostar, OpenRAN, Mavenir, Fujitsu, and VMware.”  However, the completion date and deployment schedule were not revealed.

Charlie Ergen, Dish Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, added that there’s a lot of excitement about O-RAN radios and the path that Dish is taking there.  He said that Mavenir is doing some of the software for the baseband distribution unit and that VMware enables Dish to “stitch together the cloud” with its 5G O-RAN based network.  Containers and micro services are being used in this implementation, but exactly how was not revealed or discussed.

Highlighting VMware’s contribution to the 5G O-RAN project, Ergen said:

“But when you put all that together, you got to make it work and you got to make it work on different cloud providers and private clouds, and VMware allows us to horizontally go across the stack and stitch that stuff together. And the way we look at partnerships, VMware has done a lot of work for us already even before we signed the contract with them.

They’re learning a lot about Telco and O-RAN and so they’re getting a real R&D sandbox to play in and they’re making our business better and we’re making their business better. So it’s a really, really good win-win for both companies and they’ve been a tremendous vendor even before we signed a contract with them.

So the big picture thing is there is nothing — there is nothing that stops us from building really the best network in the United States. There is no law of physics — there’s no law of physics, there is no technology that really hasn’t changed. It’s really execution. It’s really execution risk for us and our vendors to make it happen. But we’re not reinventing science, we’re not reinventing anything. We’re just taking really good cloud providers and software providers and making what has been a very clunky, hardware-centered highly operational cost environment, very similar to data centers 20 to 30 years ago.

We’re going to make it (5G O-RAN) into a modern network. So everything exists to do that. And we’re just going to go do it. We don’t spend a lot of time talking about it externally because everybody is going to be skeptical up until we light it up and then people will have their opinion about it. So that’s what we’re going to do.”


Dish’s Other Wireless Network Businesses:

Earlier this week, Dish acquired Ting Mobile and announced a partnership with Tucows on technology services.  The company acquired T-Mobile assets including customer relationships and the brand in order to support Ting Mobile customers.

Dish closed the Boost Mobile acquisition (from T-Mo, but actually that spectrim came from Sprint) on July 1st and will report Boost results for the first time in the third quarter.  The company will report Boost results in their Wireless segment and will disclose key metrics such as ARPU and subscriber data.  As part of the T-Mo/Sprint merger, Dish acquired $3.6 billion of 800 MHz spectrum, which was Sprint’s entire 800 MHz portfolio.

Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson had this comment about Dish’s wireless business:

“Yes, they’ve chosen VMware and few other vendors. And small, private tower operators report some Dish activity – Dish sensibly seems to be focusing on smaller towercos first, as the majors will have more negotiating leverage and will therefore drive a harder bargain. And, sure, they’ve now bought Ting, a small operator to augment their Boost business (these pre-paid businesses were acquired after the end of the just-reported second quarter).

But they still haven’t started materially building. And they still haven’t found a strategic partner. They still haven’t gone to the capital markets for financing. And they still haven’t changed their capex guidance for wireless for this year – a paltry $250 to $500M, excluding capitalized interest.

Nor have they changed their longer term guidance of $10B to build a virtualized network, a number that we no longer have to caveat by saying we don’t believe.

Save for some slowly escalating wireless spending as they continue to gradually hire the people they’ll need to run the business – although even that is going far more slowly than one would expect – we’re left with a satellite business, and only a satellite business (OK, also an OTT business) in Q2 results.”

Craig, along with many analysts (including this author) believe Dish could take steps to unlock value by selling some or all of its significant spectrum assets.  Dish has a long history of buying spectrum and doing nothing with it. As FierceWireless wrote last year, “Dish has spent roughly $20 billion over the past decade to amass a significant spectrum portfolio, and has roughly 95 MHz of low-band and mid-band spectrum per market.”  That was before Dish bought Sprint’s entire 800 MHz (low band) spectrum assets, which are not included in this graph:

Just a reminder how much spectrum Dish is holding on to, while ...

Dish has promised the FCC that it “will deploy a facilities-based 5G broadband network capable of serving 70% of the US population by June 2023 and has requested that its spectrum licenses be modified to reflect those commitments.” Dish would have to pay fines of up to $2.2 billion if it fails to meet its 5G deployment deadlines.


Dish Network’s massive bet on deploying wireless spectrum it owns overshadows its declining cash-cow satellite television business. Dish reported a net loss of 40,000 net satellite television customers, half the figure a year ago as far fewer accounts deactivated service. The firm’s customer base likely skews towards customers that place less value on live sports and more on news coverage, which has delivered strong ratings during the pandemic and protests. Dish also lost (net) 56,000 Sling customers, better than the 281,000 lost the prior quarter, which had come following a large price increase at the start of the year. Price increases fueled a 7% year-over-year increase in average revenue per customer, roughly offsetting customer losses as total revenue declined 0.8%.

Moreover, Dish isn’t likely to become a full-fledged nationwide wireless network competitor, because Dish’s plan is only to cover 70 percent of the US population by June 2023. That could leave 100 million Americans without the option of a fourth wireless carrier (behind Verizon, AT&T, and the new T-Mo).  Finally, the whole O-RAN concept is unproven with no liaison arrangements between the ITU or 3GPP and either of the two O-RAN spec writing entities – the O-RAN Alliance (which Dish is implementing) and the TIP Open RAN project.

Dish’s plan of covering 70 percent of the 327 million people in the U.S. isn’t impressive compared to the major carriers’ current 4G LTE coverage, which is important because carriers admit that 5G won’t be much faster than 4G in rural areas where millimeter-wave deployments aren’t viable. Outside densely populated areas, Verizon says that 5G speeds will merely be like “good 4G.”

We are also of the opinion, that Dish’s physical 5G deployment costs will be much more than Dish has budgeted and can not be financed without Dish having to borrow significant amounts of money from the credit markets or partner companies..


References: (Dish Spectrum Maps)

Dish’s 5G network plan may be delayed for years as a result of COVID-19


5G Base Station Deployments; Open-RAN Competition & HUGE 5G BS Power Problem

According to Taiwan based market research firm TrendForce, the big three China and European telecom equipment manufacturers captured more than 85% market share in the global mobile base station industry in 2019, with Sweden-based Ericsson, China-based Huawei, and Finland-based Nokia as the three largest suppliers. However, owing to the U.S.-China trade war and the export controls issued by the U.S. government, Huawei subsequently was unable to procure key components from U.S.-based RF-front end manufacturers, in turn affecting the sales performance of its base stations in the overseas markets. As a result, Huawei is expected to focus its base station construction this year primarily in domestic China.

Total 5G base stations in China are projected to exceed 600,000 in 2020, while Japanese and Korean equipment manufacturers aggressively expand in the overseas markets.

By the end of 1st Half of 2020, the three major Chinese mobile network operators, including China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, had built more than 250,000 5G base stations in China. This number is projected to reach 600,000 by the end of this year, with network coverage in prefecture-level cities in China. In addition, emerging infrastructures such as 5G networks and all-optical networks will generate commercial opportunities for Huawei. According to the GSM Association’s forecasts, by 2025, more than a quarter of cellular devices in China will operate on 5G networks, occupying one-third of all global 5G connections.

On the other hand, thanks to successful 5G commercialization efforts in Korea, Samsung has seen a surge in its base station equipment. The company has provided base stations for the three major mobile network operators in Korea, including SKT, KT, and LG Uplus, in addition to collaborating with U.S. operators, such as AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon.

Broadcasting, transmission and distribution of internet signal from 5G antenna, communications tower, transmitter and satellite. Vector illustration

Open RAN Competitors:

The UK government is now targeting Japan-based NEC and Fujitsu as Huawei replacement suppliers of 5G network equipment.  As European and the U.S. governments  have implemented sanctions against Huawei, Japanese equipment suppliers now have the perfect opportunity to raise their market shares in Europe and possibly in the U.S. (with upstart 5G network providers that adopt “OpenRAN.”  Throw in O-RAN Alliance members Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, Robin, Altiostar and Radisys into the mix and there may be serious competition for the big three base station vendors, especially OUTSIDE OF CHINA (where Huawei and ZTE will surely dominate).


Sidebar:  5G Base Station Power Consumption Issue -China article 

by 海外风云 (courtesy of Yigang Cai)

A recent news report from China (used Google Translate to convert to English) highlighted the critical issue of network operators shutting down 5G base stations to save electricity bills.  Selected 5G base stations in China are being powered off every day from 21:00 to next day 9:00 to reduce energy consumption and lower electricity bills.  5G base stations are truly large consumers of energy such that electricity bills have become one of the biggest costs for 5G network operators.

  • Using this method of turning off the 5G base station at night to save power can save 15 Chinese yuan a day in electricity costs. The current 200,000 base stations can save 1.2 billion annually.
  • By the end of this year, 1 million 5G base stations will be built, saving 6 billion in a year.
  • If there are more than 2 million base stations, 12 billion electricity can be saved a year, which is equivalent to China Unicom’s total profit in one year.
  • If there are more than 2 million base stations and they are not turned off for 24 hours, then all the money earned by Unicom will be paid for electricity.
  • The more base stations, the greater the loss of revenues.

Huawei chart

How many 5G base stations will the future society need? If the transmission speed and coverage rate required by 5G are reached, the total number of base stations may exceed everyone’s imagination.

According to news reports, the North Bund of Shanghai’s Hongqiao District is the world’s first gigabit 5G high-speed demonstration zone, with 26 base stations per square kilometer. According to the plan, the total number of 5G base stations in Shanghai’s Hongqiao District will exceed 1,000 in two years. The total area of ​​Hongqiao District is 23.5 square kilometers.

According to the plan, about 50 base stations are required per square kilometer. If 5G base stations are covered nationwide, 9.6 million x 50=480 million base stations are required.

The electricity bill is equivalent to several hundred times the annual profit of China Unicom. Even if it only covers 1% of the country’s area, electricity bills can bankrupt the three major operators.

This is only the electricity bill and does not include any other costs. How much power does a 5G base station consume? Look at this test data, this is already the world’s top-level base station, produced by the world’s top suppliers, using the most advanced chips from Japan and the United States. 5G base stations consume several times more power than 4G base stations.

Editor’s Note:

A typical 5G base station consumes up to twice or more the power of a 4G base station, writes MTN Consulting Chief Analyst Matt Walker in a new report entitled “Operators facing power cost crunch.”  And energy costs can grow even more at higher frequencies, due to a need for more antennas and a denser layer of small cells. Edge compute facilities needed to support local processing and new internet of things (IoT) services will also add to overall network power usage.  Exact estimates differ by source, but MTN says the industry consensus is that 5G will double to triple energy consumption for mobile operators, once networks scale.


The total number of 5G base stations must be dozens of times more than that of 4G to achieve high-speed coverage. 02 Why does 5G need so many base stations? Why do we need so much transmit power?

A basic principle of communication: the higher the transmission speed, the greater the signal-to-noise ratio can ensure accurate transmission. In other words, the more you need high-speed propagation, the more power and shorter distances you need.

In order to achieve faster speeds, we must use higher frequencies, above 10 GHz, or even 300 GHz (mmWave). The higher the frequency, the lower the wall penetration ability (implying line of sight required for correct signal reception).

2.4G Hz WiFi is already impenetrable through two walls, and higher frequency penetration is even worse. In order to ensure the signal strength, the power must be increased. In order not to be blocked by walls, many base stations must be densely placed in the cell to avoid being blocked by too many walls.

If you want to enjoy the high speed of the 5G era, you have to increase the number of base stations more than ten times or even hundreds of times. There is no choice.

In the 5G era, everyone will not worry about the harm of electromagnetic radiation to the body, and everyone will no longer oppose the establishment of base stations in communities. Because no matter where you live in any community, there are densely packed base stations. There are 50 base stations in one square kilometer, and you can’t avoid them.

At that time, the street lamps, power poles and billboards you saw were probably 5G base stations in disguise. There is no way to avoid it. A few years later, if you find that not many people are sick due to electromagnetic radiation, you will believe that electromagnetic radiation is actually not harmful.

5G coronavirus conspiracy theory and arson attacks on cellphone ...


Early 5G Use Cases and Applications:

According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, 5G use cases have been in telemedicine and industrial IoT during the spread of COVID-19 in 2020.  Primary applications of 5G during this period include contactless disinfection robots, remote work, and distance learning.

Currently, China has been most aggressive in developing 5G networks, with more than 400 5G-related innovative applications in transportation, logistics, manufacturing, and health care in 1st Half of 2020. At the same time, the emergence of 5G services has created a corresponding surge in base station demand.

TrendForce research vice president Kelly Hsieh indicates that, from a technical perspective, the growth in mobile data consumption, low-latency applications (such as self-driving cars, remote surgeries, and smart manufacturing), and large-scale M2M (smart cities) requires an increase in 5G base stations for support. Constructing these base stations will likely bring various benefits, such as investment stability, value chain development, and interdisciplinary partnerships between the telecommunication industry and other industries.


T-Mobile Announces “World’s 1st Nationwide Standalone 5G Network” (without a standard)

T-Mobile USA claims they are the first wireless network operator in the world to launch a commercial nationwide standalone 5G network (5G SA).  The “Un-carrier” is also expanding 5G coverage by 30 percent, now covering nearly 250 million people in more than 7,500 cities and towns across 1.3 million square miles.

“Since Sprint became part of T-Mobile, we’ve been rapidly combining networks for a supercharged Un-carrier while expanding our nationwide 5G footprint, and today we take a massive step into the future with standalone 5G architecture,” said Neville Ray, President of Technology at T-Mobile. “This is where it gets interesting, opening the door for massive innovation in this country — and while the other guys continue to play catch up, we’ll keep growing the world’s most advanced 5G network.”

IEEE Techblog readers know that all previously deployed (pre-standard) “5G” networks focused on delivering new 5G radio (3GPP Rel 15 5G NR) in the data plane while leveraging existing LTE core networks, management and signaling in the control plane.  With a new 5G Core network, T-Mobile engineers have already seen up to a 40% improvement in latency during testing. T-Mo claims:

“This is just the beginning of what can be done with Standalone 5G.  When coupled with core network slicing in the future, 5G SA will lead to an environment where transformative applications are made possible — things like connected self-driving vehicles, supercharged IoT, real-time translation … and things we haven’t even dreamed of yet.”

In the near-term, 5G SA enables T-Mobile US to unleash its entire 600 MHz footprint for 5G. With non-standalone network architecture (NSA), 600 MHz 5G is combined with mid-band LTE to access the core network, but without SA the 5G signal only goes as far as mid-band LTE. With today’s launch, 600 MHz 5G can go beyond the mid-band signal, covering hundreds of square miles from a single tower and going deeper into buildings than before.

To make the world’s first nationwide commercial SA 5G network a reality, T-Mobile partnered closely with Cisco and Nokia to build its 5G core, and Ericsson and Nokia for state-of-the-art 5G radio infrastructure. OnePlus, Qualcomm Technologies and Samsung have helped the Un-carrier ensure existing 5G endpoint devices can access 5G SA with a software update, based on compatibility.

For more information about T-Mobile’s 5G vision, visit: To see all the places you’ll get T-Mobile’s current 5G down to a neighborhood level, check out the map here:


Comment and Analysis:  Specs for 5G Core (there is no standard)


T-Mo’s launch of standalone 5G is noteworthy considering there are no standards for 5G Core from ANY SDO!  ITU-T IMT 2020 non radio aspects SG’s aren’t even working on it!

Yeah, we know about 3GPP Rel 16 5G Core/Architecture specs:

  • TS 23.501 5G Systems Architecture, with annexes which describe 5G core deployment scenarios
  • TS 23.502 [3] contains the stage 2 procedures and flows for 5G System
  • TS 23.503 [45] contains the stage 2 Policy Control and Charging architecture for 5G System

Collectively, all three of the above referenced 3GPP Rel 16 5G Systems Architecture documents do not specify the detailed mechanisms, protocols and procedures to implement a 5G core network.

For example, there are many software choices for implementing a “cloud native” 5G Core: containers, virtualized network functions, kubernetes, micro-services. Each Network Function (NF) offers one or more services to other NFs via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).  And there is no standard for the APIs associated with a given NF!

The only 5G Core implementation spec we know of is from GSMA.  It’s titled: “5G Implementation Guidelines: SA Option 2.”  That document provides a checklist for operators that are planning to launch 5G networks in SA (Standalone) Option 2 configuration, technological, spectrum and regulatory considerations in the deployment. The current version of the document currently provides detailed guidelines for implementation of 5G using Option 2, reflecting the initial launch strategy being adopted by multiple operators. There is an implementation guideline for NSA Option 3 already available.

However, as described in “GSMA Operator Requirements for 5G Core Connectivity Options” there is a need for the industry ecosystem to support all of the 5G core connectivity options (namely Option 4, Option 5 and Option 7). As a result, further guidelines for all 5G deployment options will be provided in the future.

GSMA says “5G Stand Alone to Become Reality“:

“The deployment of fully virtualized networks using 5G Stand Alone Cores, thereby facilitating Edge Computing and Network Slicing, will enable enterprises and governments to reap the many benefits from high throughput, ultra-low latency and IoT to improve productivity and enhance services to their customers,” said Alex Sinclair, Chief Technology Officer, GSMA.


Other Voices on 5G Core Deployments:

1.  From Rakuten CTO Tareq Amin via email to this author:

– Containerization/Cloud native 5G Core from Rakuten-NEC:

3GPP specification requires cloud native architecture as the general concept like distributed, stateless, and scalable. However, an explicit reference model is out of scope for 3GPP specification (TS 23.501). Therefore NEC 5GC cloud native architecture is based on 3GPP “openness” concept as well as ETSI NFV treats “container” and “cloud native,” which NEC is also actively investigating to apply its product.

2.   Alex Quach, VP of Intel’s Data Platforms Group, said most operators around the world are still leveraging a 4G core network. “The way different service providers implement their 5G core is going to vary,” said Quach. “Every service provider has unique circumstances. The transition to a new 5G core is going to be different for every operator.” 

3.  Dell’Oro Group:  “Some SPs will operate multiple 5G Cores dedicated to consumers, enterprise, public safety, and Internet of Things (IoT). They believe that dedicated 5G Core networks will be able to deliver new agile business solutions at a quicker pace for their respective user bases and more efficient network management.”

4.  Asked if SK Telecom has now completed its 5G Standalone core network, the South Korean carrier was vague in an email reply to FierceWireless. “To commercialize standalone 5G service in Korea, we are currently making diverse R&D efforts including conducting tests in both lab and commercial environment. Our latest achievements include the world’s first standalone (SA) 5G data session on our multi-vendor commercial 5G network.


Other References:

5G Core – Are We Ready?

Gartner: Market Guide for Small Cells- 5G, virtualization, disaggregation and Open RAN


Small cells are increasingly used to boost network densification and expand coverage for both private and public networks. They will be increasingly important in the deployment of 5G mmWave networks because of the very short propagation distances which require many small cells for adequate coverage in a given geographical area.

5G small cell market is gaining momentum due to the higher bands like mmWave limitation, in-depth in-building coverage requirement and strategic area densification. However, despite the hype surrounding 5G, 3G/4G deployments are expected to remain the dominant technology in terms of volume shipments until 2022 when 5G small cell deployment will overtake 3G/4G. Therefore, because small cell densification is moving forward, integrated small cell platforms supporting both 5G and 4G radio are essential for the next five years.

Small cells deployed in strategic areas have also accelerated the new virtualized and disaggregated architecture adoption, aiming for greater cost-efficiency and flexibility. Together with edge computing, they are enablers for enterprise digital services such as manufacturing applications, smart harbor/terminal, local contextual applications and IoT services.

Definition of Small Cells:

Small cells are radio access nodes with low radio frequency power output. They are operating in licensed and unlicensed spectrums, with a cell radius of a few tens to a couple of hundred meters. They can be deployed in a variety of places including in-building, lampposts, street furniture, walls and rooftops.
Small cells can be 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G or carrier-grade Wi-Fi access points, and they increasingly support several of these technologies in the same access points. Small cells may use frequencies licensed by the CSP, but they may also use unlicensed or shared frequency bands. Examples of such products are those supporting Long Term Evolution Advanced (LTE-A) LTE-A over unlicensed spectrum (LTE-U), Long Term Evolution Licensed-Assisted Access (LTE-LAA), Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) and MulteFire.
Small cells complement the macro network to improve coverage, add targeted capacity, and support new services and user experiences. There are various types of small cells, with varying ranges, power levels and form factors according to use case.
Traditionally, small cell infrastructure is managed by a CSP or on a CSP’s behalf by a partner, and used for public access. However, our definition includes small cells for private networking.  We include the following form factors in our traditional small cell definition:
  • Femtocells
  • Picocells
  • Carrier-grade Wi-Fi
The femtocells and carrier-grade Wi-Fi are not the focus of this Market Guide. For detailed definitions, please refer to “Market Definitions and Methodology: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology.”

Gartner’s Key Findings:

  • The small cell solution is shifting from delivering in-build coverage to enable large-scale network densification. Increasing 5G and private network deployments further accelerate the trend.
  • In the small cell market, variety and diversity are replacing uniformity. Introduction of new spectrums, types of cells and architectures, vertical industries use cases, and business models like neutral host act as accelerators in this respect.
  • In addition, diversity increases the cost and complexity of small cell deployment and management, not just access points but also potentially edge computing, localized core and distributed radio units.
  • Traditional proprietary small cell systems are challenged by disaggregated, virtualized architecture. Communications service providers (CSPs) are looking for a more flexible, multivendor, cost-effective solution through breaking apart basebands and radio heads, and virtualizing some or all of the baseband functions in software.

Gartner’s Recommendations for Small Cell Deployment:

  • Build your small cell deployment strategy beyond coverage through prioritized investment in network densification and related digital services. Include 5G small cell and private networking requirements in your product plans.
  • Address diversity challenges through a multivendor approach. There is no one size fits all in the future small cell market, and a scenario-oriented product evaluations process needs to be implemented.
  • Reduce complexity and improve cost-efficiency through prioritizing the deployment feasibility as well as operation intelligence and automation.
  • Work closely with emerging suppliers and establish an objective and structured process to thoroughly evaluate and develop quick prototypes using disaggregated and virtualized architectures.

Small Cells Will Be at the Forefront of Virtualization and Open RAN:

The economic success of 5G is reliant on interoperable multi-vendor networks, which require open interfaces at both the silicon and network levels. Therefore, many CSPs are continually exploring the possibility of moving away from the proprietary hardware to more modern open and interoperable systems.

To support these, CSPs will need to adopt new network topologies such as cloud-RAN, virtualized RAN (vRAN) or open RAN (ORAN), together with integrated edge compute.The key to the open network lies in disaggregation — separating the key elements such as centralized units (CUs) and distributed units (DUs) — and the open reconfiguration — combining components from any suppliers because they are all interconnected in the same way.

For 5G, those central processes will usually be virtualized (run as software on off-the-shelf servers).The move to open network has been more advanced in small cell layer than macro network, and several suppliers already offer architectures in which a number of small cells are clustered around a centralized, virtualized controller. But there are two potential barriers to achieving a real multivendor environment: the need to be in agreement on where the network should be split between the central and the local elements and the need to be a single common interface between the elements in each preferred split.

Split RAN/SC architectures have multiple options, as identified by 3GPP. Of these, 3GPP has focused on Option-2 (RLC-PDCP), ORAN on Option-7.2 (PHY-PHY) and Small Cell Forum (SCF) on Option-6 (PHY-MAC). SCF will develop a 5G version of its networked FAPI spec, which will enable a split MAC and PHY in a disaggregated small cell network, supporting the 3GPP Option-6 split over Ethernet fronthaul and targeting, in particular, cost-effective indoor scenarios. SCF’s work on open interfaces such as nFAPI will play an important role in the market, alongside the work of partners such as O-RAN Alliance and Telecom Infra Project.

Many CSPs expect to take their first steps in their small cell layer, providing valuable experience of how to manage and orchestrate a network in which multiple radio units share common baseband functions, some of them deployed on cloud infrastructure. While there are still challenges in this domain, the disaggregation and virtualized architecture reduce the technology barrier to market and introduce new players into the market including software players as well as OEMs and ODMs.


Small Cell Hardware and Software Vendors:

The table below may be used as a quick reference guide to representative vendors and their 5G small cell solutions. It includes the major vendors who have a long history providing small cell, DAS solutions and also some new emerging vendors who are providing software-based small cell solutions.

Table of Small Cell Vendors:

Small Cell Software
Virtualized RAN Software
M-RAN Virtual Small Cell
5G Open Platform Small Cell
Enterprise Radio Access Network (E-RAN)
Radio Dot System, Micro Radio, Lightpole Site
LampSite Family, BookRRU, Easy Macro
 Viper Platform
Massive MIMO AAS Radio Unit
Flexi Zone, AirScale Indoor Radio system (ASiR), AirScale Micro Remote Radio Head (mRRH), AirScale mmWave Radio (ASMR), Smart Node Femtocells
Samsung 5G Small Cell
Qcell, 5G iMicro, 5G Pad RRU

UPDATED: Huawei now #1 global smartphone vendor

Despite the severe U.S. restrictions on Huawei, the company has succeeded in taking the top spot in the global smartphone market, according to figures from Canalys. The market research firm estimates Huawei shipped more smartphones worldwide than any other vendor for the first time in Q2 2020, marking the first quarter in nine years that a company other than Samsung or Apple led the market.

Note, however, that global smartphone sales DECLINED in the second quarter. Huawei shipped an estimated 55.8 million devices in the quarter, down 5 percent year on year. Samsung came second with 53.7 million smartphones, down 30 percent from a year earlier.

Huawei’s resilience was due to its strong position in China, where its shipments rose 8 percent in Q2. This offset an estimated 27 percent fall in its shipments abroad. Canalys estimates over 70 percent of Huawei’s smartphone sales are now in mainland China.  That helps explains why the company can be so successful in selling smartphones, despite not being able to use licensed Google Android and associated apps on its latest flagship devices (that’s because Huawei was placed on the U.S. Entity list last year).

Canalys said the situation would likely not have happened without the Covid-19 pandemic. Huawei profited from the strong recovery in the Chinese economy, while Samsung has a very small presence in China, with less than 1 percent market share, and suffered from the restrictions in key markets such as the US, India, Brazil and Europe.

Canalys: Huawei overtakes Samsung in Q2 2020

“This is a remarkable result that few people would have predicted a year ago,” said Canalys Senior Analyst Ben Stanton. “If it wasn’t for COVID-19, it wouldn’t have happened. Huawei has taken full advantage of the Chinese economic recovery to reignite its smartphone business. Samsung has a very small presence in China, with less than 1% market share, and has seen its core markets, such as Brazil, India, the United States and Europe, ravaged by outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns.”

“Taking first place is very important for Huawei,” said Canalys Analyst Mo Jia. “It is desperate to showcase its brand strength to domestic consumers, component suppliers and developers. It needs to convince them to invest, and will broadcast the message of its success far and wide in the coming months. But it will be hard for Huawei to maintain its lead in the long term. Its major channel partners in key regions, such as Europe, are increasingly wary of ranging Huawei devices, taking on fewer models, and bringing in new brands to reduce risk. Strength in China alone will not be enough to sustain Huawei at the top once the global economy starts to recover.”

As a result, it will be hard for Huawei to maintain its lead in the long term. Its major channel partners in key regions such as Europe are increasingly wary of stocking Huawei devices, taking on fewer models and bringing in new brands to reduce risk, as per the above Canalys quote from analyst Mo Jia.

Separately, Gartner estimates that 10% of smartphone shipments, or about 220 million units in 2020, will have 5G capability, but they’ll work on “5G” networks with a LTE core (5G NSA).


The logo of Chinese company Huawei at their main U.K. offices in Reading, west of London, on January 28, 2020.


Huawei’s just announced global licensing agreement with Qualcomm grants Huawei back rights to some of the San Diego-based company’s patents effective Jan. 1, 2020. It remains to be seen if Huawei will design smartphone components that use those patents in their next generation of 5G endpoint devices.




Update- August 3, 2020:

According to market research firm Omdia, overall Q2-2020 smartphone shipment volume was down a hefty 15.7%, year-on-year, to 229.7 million units.

Samsung will certainly hope there are better times ahead. Omdia figures show the South Korean behemoth lost its #1 position in Q2, dislodged by Huawei.  Samsung’s Q2 shipments plummeted nearly 28%, year-on-year, to 54.3 million.

Many of Samsung’s most important markets, were significantly impacted by COVID-19, especially emerging markets, which apparently accounted for more than 70% of Samsung’s overall shipments in 2019.

For its part, Samsung is hopeful of a Q3 smartphone recovery, helped by the launch of new flagship models, including the Galaxy Note and a new foldable phone.

Huawei, helped by a resurgent domestic market in China, snagged a 20% global smartphone share during Q2 (55.8 million units), up from an 18% market share the previous quarter. Year-on-year, Huawei’s Q2 shipment units were down a comparatively modest 4.9%.

Source: Omdia

Apple was one of the few OEMs to increase Q2 shipment volumes, year-on-year (up 13.1%, to 39.9 million units).  The iPhone SE, a model with mid-range pricing, coupled with the iPhone 11, helped Apple expand its unit shipments, and cement its third-spot position with a market share of 14% (up from 11% in Q2 2019).

“With the launch of the iPhone SE in April, Apple has released a long-desired product, with an attractive price,” said Jusy Hong, director of smartphone research at Omdia.

“For existing iPhone users who needed to upgrade their smartphones in the second quarter, the new SE represented an affordable option that does not require a large downpayment or high monthly repayment rates,” added Hong.




TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface spec advances to final step of IMT-2020.SPECS standard

Telecommunications Standards Development Society of India (TSDSI)’s 5G Radio Interface Technology (RIT) has met step 7 of an 8 step process of ITU-R WP5D, thereby paving the way for its inclusion in the IMT-2020.SPECS.   That impressive accomplishment was achieved at the ITU-R WP5D virtual meeting #35e which concluded on July 9, 2020.  From the WP 5D Technology WG meeting report:  “The RIT proposed in IMT-2020/19(Rev.1) (TSDSI) also passed Step 7 as “TSDSI RIT.”

As a penultimate  step, the description of the TSDSI technology has been included in the draft IMT-2020 specification document.  The TSDSI RIT is specified in Annex III. of the draft IMT-2020.SPECS standard, which is expected to be finalized at the WP5D meetings to be held in October and November 2020. Final approval is expected at the ITU-R SG 5 meeting November 23-24, 2020.

The TSDSI 5G RIT specification was described in a July 5, 2019 IEEE Techblog post.  The ITU-R had earlier adopted the Low-Mobility-Large-Cell (LMLC) use case proposed by TSDSI as a mandatory 5G requirement in 2017. This test case addresses the problem of rural coverage by mandating large cell sizes in a rural terrain and scattered areas in developing as well as developed countries. Several countries supported this as they saw a similar need in their jurisdictions as well.

LMLC fulfills the requirements of affordable connectivity in rural, remote and sparsely populated areas. Enhanced cell coverage enabled by this spec, will be of great value in countries and regions that rely heavily on mobile technologies for connectivity but cannot afford dense deployment of base stations due to lack of deep fiber penetration,  poor economics and challenges of geographical terrain.

Photo Credit:  TSDSI

TSDSI successfully introduced an indigenously developed 5G candidate Radio Interface Technology (RIT), compatible with 3GPP’s 5G NR IMT-2020 RIT submission, at the ITU-R WP5D meeting in July, 2019 (as noted in the above referenced IEEE Techblog post).  TSDI’s RIT incorporates India-specific technology enhancements that can enable larger coverage for meeting the LMLC requirements. It exploits a new transmit waveform that increases cell range developed by research institutions in India (IIT Hyderabad, CEWiT and IIT Madras) and supported by several Indian tech companies. It enables low-cost rural coverage and has additional features which enable higher spectrum efficiency and improved latency.

From TSDSI:  Acceptance of TSDSI RIT as a 5G radio interface standard, a first for India, catapults India into the elite club of countries with expertise in defining global standards. It is a trailblazer that establishes India’s potential to deliver more such solutions that are appropriate to the specific requirements of the developing world and rely on indigenously developed technologies – Design Local, Deploy Global.


Addendum:  Overview of TSDSI RIT

TSDSI RIT is a versatile radio interface that fulfills all the technical performance requirements of IMT 2020 across all the different test environments. This RIT focuses on connecting the next generation of devices and providing services across various sectors. In particular, this RIT focuses on:

1. Enhanced spectral efficiency and broadband access

2. Low latency communication

3. Support millions of IOT devices

4. Power efficiency

5. High speed connectivity

6. Large Coverage (in particular for Rural areas)

7. Support multiple frequency bands including mmWave spectrum

While, the current specifications provide a robust RIT, the specification also provides a framework on which future enhancements can be supported, providing a future-proof technology. In the following sections, we provide a basic description of the RIT. The complete details of the RIT can be found in the specification document IMT-2020/20 (ITU TIES account required for access).


India’s TSDSI candidate IMT 2020 RIT with Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) for rural coverage of 5G services

Executive Summary: IMT-2020.SPECS defined, submission status (?), and 3GPP’s 2 RIT submissions

Reliance Jio claim: Complete 5G solution from scratch with 100% home grown technologies


Deutsche Telekom: 40 million people have 5G coverage

Deutsche Telekom said today that its 5G network has reached 40 million people in Germany. This means that 50% of the population can use the new 5G mobile technology. Over 3,000 towns and municipalities received 5G after the company upgraded a further 18,000 antennas in recent weeks. In the coming weeks, Bremen and Dortmund, among other places, will receive high-speed 5G.

Deutsche Telekom uses spectrum on the 2.1 GHz band to supply as many people as possible with 5G. This band enables a long-range reach and increased speed. In rural areas, customers can surf at up to 225 Mbps, while in cities the network reaches 600-800 Mbps speeds at its peak.

With the 3.6 GHz frequency band, the network offers more speed and capacity. Antennas on this band achieve transmission rates of up to 1 Gbps. The company uses both the 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz frequency bands for the 5G rollout.

Deutsche Telekom said nearly 18,000 antennas have been upgraded for 5G and integrated into the live network in the past five weeks. This means that 40 million people can now have access to the telco’s 5G.

Deutsche Telekom 5G

Image Credit: Deutsche Telekom


“Half the population in Germany is now covered. 5G has arrived in all German states. This is a big step for our customers, our network and for digitization in Germany,” said Walter Goldenits, head of technology at Telekom Deutschland. The executive said that the carrier aims to cover two thirds of the country’s population with 5G before the end of the year.

“We will switch on 5G in 2.1 GHz in at least half of Germany already this year. 2.1 GHz is excellent for 5G because this spectrum range combines speed with good propagation,” the carrier’s CEO Timotheus Höttges recently said in a conference call with investors.

“We will have the top 20 cities covered with 3.6 GHz. Going forward, we will leverage other spectrum ranges, such as 700 MHz frequencies. So we have a mix of low band, mid band [and]high band, which is, compared to my competition, significantly better, and we will roll out faster than anybody else. So comparing the commitments of Vodafone with ours, we will have four times more coverage already by the end of the year with regard to 5G,” Höttges added.

As noted above, bands.Deutsche Telekom is using different frequencies for its 5G expansion. The focus is on the 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz frequency bands.  Deutsche Telekom kicked off the rollout of its 5G network in a limited number of cities across Germany at the beginning of July 2019.

LTE is also receiving a further boost from the technology offensive. Customers will receive a further frequency band for the use of LTE and thus more bandwidth. The use of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) will make additional spectrum available to LTE customers. As a result, they too can surf even faster than before.

With DSS, Deutsche Telekom operates two mobile communications standards in parallel in one frequency band. The new technology distributes the spectrum between LTE and 5G users according to demand. The network automatically adapts to the needs of the respective customers within milliseconds. This leads to an even better user experience.


Germany 5G subscriptions 2020-22 (in thousands) – Omdia forecast
Company 2020 2021 2022
1&1 Drillisch 702
O2 Germany 477 2,539
T-Mobile Germany 430 1,253 3,242
Vodafone D2 494 1,426 3,536


Rival operator Vodafone Germany in its financial results statement last week said it planned to cover 10 million people with 5G technology by the end of 2020.

Telefonica Deutschland aims to cover 16 million people with its 5G network by 2022, with coverage across Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne this year.

Meanwhile, the construction of 1&1 Drillisch’s 5G network has been experiencing delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to previous reports, 1&1 Drillisch expects to launch its 5G network in 2021.




Deutsche Telekom reaches half of German population with 5G


FCC CBRS Auction for 5G mid-band spectrum in the 3.5GHz band

The FCC’s Citizens Broadband Radio Systems (CBRS) auction is scheduled to start tomorrow, July 23, 2020.  271 qualified bidders are expected to bid for spectrum in what is referred to as the “5G mid-band.”

FCC Auction 105 will offer 22,631 Priority Access Licenses (PALs) in the 3550-3650 MHz portion of the 3.5 GHz band.

In 2015, the Commission adopted rules for shared commercial use of the 3550-3700 MHz band (3.5 GHz band). The Commission established the CBRS and created a three-tiered access and authorization framework to accommodate shared federal and non-federal use of the band. Rules governing the Citizens Broadband Radio Service are found in Part 96 of the FCC’s rules.

Access and operations will be managed by an automated frequency coordinator, known as a Spectrum Access System (SAS). When managing spectrum access, SASs may incorporate information from an Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC), a sensor network that detects transmissions from Department of Defense radar systems and transmits that information to the SAS. Both SASs and ESCs must be approved by the Commission. SASs will coordinate operations between and among users in three tiers of authorization in the 3.5 GHz band: Incumbent Access, Priority Access, and General Authorized Access.

Past sales offered licenses covering entire metropolitan areas at prices that only large carriers such as AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. could afford. This one offers smaller licenses — seven in each county in the country for a total of 22,631. That means smaller telecoms, and other companies with new uses for the technology, can bid on spectrum rights in their local areas.

Mid-tier telecoms like Carolina West Wireless and Cincinnati Bell are on the list as well as electric co-ops like the Benton Rural Electric Association and the Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inside Towers reported. Several businesses and schools plan to bid, including: Deere & Company, Duke University and Health System, and the University of Kentucky. Utilities and electricity distributors could use their winnings to expand wireless broadband networks, manage electricity distribution, and install remote meter-reading.

“It’s really a game-changer for all of these non-traditional users,” said Kurt Schaubach, chief technology officer with Federated Wireless, a company based in Arlington, Virginia, that helps coordinate use of the spectrum being auctioned.

“We’ve never had an auction of this size,” FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told Bloomberg. Auction winners can only buy four of the seven licenses available in each county, ensuring that no single user can get all of an area’s licenses. Each of the seven licenses provides rights to use the spectrum across an entire county.

A Raymond James analyst estimates the total value of the mid-band spectrum licenses at potentially $10 billion.


Posted in 5G

TrendForce forecast: Chinese 5G smartphones to hold 4 of top 6 spots by production volume in 2020

Annual 5G smartphone production is expected to reach 235 million units in 2020, an 18.9 percent penetration rate, according to the latest research from TrendForce. Total smartphone production is forecast to reach 1.24 billion in 2020.

Ranked by production volume, Chinese brands are expected to account for 4 of the top 6 spots for 5G smartphone brands in 2020. Huawei tops the ranking, and is expected to produce around 74 million 5G smartphones in 2020. Apple is in 2nd place with a forecast yearly 5G smartphone production of around 70 million units. Samsung will be in 3rd place with production of 29 million 5G smartphones. They are followed by Chinese brands Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi in 4th, 5th and 6th place with 5G smartphone production volumes of 21 million, 20 million and 19 million units respectively.

Note that this is a forecast, especially for Apple which has not yet announced a 5G smartphone.

Mid-to-low end 5G chipsets released by AP suppliers are expected to raise the penetration rate of 5G smartphones in 2021

TrendForce’s analysis of future developments in the 5G market shows that an aggressive push by mobile processor manufacturers will lead to the rapidly increasing presence of 5G chipsets in the mid-to-low end market, driving 5G smartphone production to surpass 500 million units in 2021, which will potentially account for about 40% of the total smartphone market. Once 5G chip prices reach a stable level this year, smartphone brands may look to gain additional shares in the 5G smartphone market by sacrificing gross margins. In doing so, they are likely to accelerate the drop of 5G smartphones’ retail prices, and the market may see the arrival of 5G smartphones around the RMB 1000 price level by the end of this year. Incidentally, it is worth noting that the penetration rate of 5G smartphones does not equal the usage rate of the 5G network, which depends on the progress of base station construction. Since the current 5G infrastructure build-out is pushed back as a result of the pandemic, the global 5G network coverage will be unlikely to surpass 50% before 2025 at the earliest, with complete coverage taking even longer.

Editor’s Questions:

In the absence of any true 5G standard, e.g. IMT-2020.SPECs, will any of these 5G smartphones work on a 5G network other than the one they are subscribed to?  Or will they fall back to 4G-LTE?  Will the 5G smartphones sold in 2020 be upgraded to comply with IMT-2020.SPECs and/or 3GPP Release 16 specs?


T-Mobile US: 5G SA Core network to be deployed 3Q-2020; cites 5G coverage advantage

Yet another wireless telco is moving to a 5G Stand Alone (SA) core network, without any standard or even specification (yes, we know about 3GPP TS 23.501 5G Systems Architecture spec in R15 and R16) in place.

In a blog post to assess the progress in the (new) T-Mobile US network four months after the Sprint acquisition, CTO Neville Ray wrote:

We’re also hard at work getting ready to light up standalone 5G this quarter, having recently completed the world’s first standalone 5G data session on a multi-vendor radio and core network, and the first standalone 5G data session of any kind in North America. Standalone 5G will expand our coverage and bring with it improved latency and faster uploads. It will also pave the way for applications that require real-time responses and massive connectivity such as mobile augmented and virtual reality, cloud gaming, smart factories and meters and even connected vehicles.


To the best of our knowledge, there are no 5G SA core networks deployed yet.  All the so called “5G” deployments are based on NSA or a LTE anchor via EPC.  With a rush of recent 5G SA core announcements, that will soon change

Yet it’s critical to note that ALL of the 5G core work is done in 3GPP– not in any SDO.  Moreover, ITU-T SG 13 which is responsible for IMT 2020 Non Radio Aspects recommendations has not received any of the 3GPP R16 documents.  And finally, URLLC for both the 5G radio access network and core are not yet complete as there has been no performance testing yet.  So how will “improved latency” be realized?

In the absence of any standard or detailed implementation spec, any 5G SA core network deployed within the next year (or longer) will be based on  a joint specification effort between the wireless network operator and its 5G core vendor (e.g. Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE, possibly Cisco and NEC?).

Here’s what Dell-Oro had to say about 5G SA/5G Core:

During 2020, the industry will progress toward 5G SA. Lab proof-of-concepts and field trials are well underway around the world. Vendors and SPs are working together to learn about the intricacies of implementing 5G SA, which primarily means implementing the 5G Core for 5G NR base stations (a.k.a. Option 2). Some SPs will operate multiple 5G Cores dedicated to consumers, enterprise, public safety, and Internet of Things (IoT). They believe that dedicated 5G Core networks will be able to deliver new agile business solutions at a quicker pace for their respective user bases and more efficient network management.

The 3GPP release schedule is highlighted to emphasize that 5G, and especially the 5G Core standard (3GPP TS 23.501, the overarching specification), still has a long way to go before the full potential of 5G will be achieved. While the industry has been touting 5G for several years, it cannot be realized without the 5G Core.

The 5G Core is known as a Service-Based Architecture (SBA). At a high level, it consists of the User Plane, the Control Plane, and the Shared Data Layer Network Functions. This enables a more resilient core network (CN). Hardware and software disaggregation creates what is known as stateless Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) that run on COTS Network Function Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVi). If a hardware failure occurs, a new virtual machine (VM) or Container can spin up on a new server without loss of data because it resides in the Shared Data Layer.

This structure allows for Cloud computing with container-based Cloud-Native Network Functions (CNFs) that permit microservices tailor-made for smaller groups of subscribers. CNFs enable SPs to build a web-scale core with greater degrees of orchestration and automation to bring new services to the market in a few hours or days, as compared to months or years.

More specifically,  TS 23.501 -Release 16 provides guidelines for 5G Core virtualized deployments, but does not specify how to implement any of those deployments.  Here’s the relevant text:

5.21.0 General

5GC supports different virtualized deployment scenarios, including but not limited to the options below:

A Network Function instance can be deployed as distributed, redundant, stateless, and scalable NF instance that provides the services from several locations and several execution instances in each location.

– This type of deployments would typically not require support for addition or removal of NF instances for redundancy and scalability. In the case of an AMF this deployment option may use enablers like, addition of TNLA, removal of TNLA, TNLA release and rebinding of NGAP UE association to a new TNLA to the same AMF.

A Network Function instance can also be deployed such that several network function instances are present within a NF set provide distributed, redundant, stateless and scalability together as a set of NF instances.

– This type of deployments may support for addition or removal of NF instances for redundancy and scalability. In the case of an AMF this deployment option may use enablers like, addition of AMFs and TNLAs, removal of AMFs and TNLAs, TNLA release and rebinding of NGAP UE associations to a new TNLA to different AMFs in the same AMF set.

– The SEPP, although not a Network Function instance, can also be deployed distributed, redundant, stateless, and scalable.

– The SCP, although not a Network Function instance, can also be deployed distributed, redundant, and scalable.

Also, deployments taking advantage of only some or any combination of concepts from each of the above options is possible.


Other T-Mo Highlights:

Ray referred to recent analysis from OpenSignal and Ookla on T-Mobile US’ 5G network availability. T-Mo’s reliance on far-reaching 600 MHz spectrum for its “5G foundation,” assures that its 5G footprint significantly outstrips the other national carriers’ 5G coverage areas.  Ray wrote:

new report from Opensignal ranks the T-Mobile network first for 5G availability, meaning Un-carrier customers get a 5G signal more often than customers on any other network – more than twice as often as AT&T and 56 times more often than Verizon! Plus, a new report from Ookla measuring 4G and 5G from over one million customer devices shows that T-Mobile has 5G in nearly 4X more cities than Verizon and AT&T (and 32X more cities than Verizon alone). And T-Mobile customers with a 5G-capable device experience faster overall download and upload speeds than Verizon customers.  And look at the Verizon availability score – yep – no typo here – that’s 0.4%…..

Verizon in particular relied on millimeter wave for its initial deployments, and AT&T has moved to a mix of high- and low-band 5G deployments. Verizon expects to be able to dramatically expand its 5G coverage via the use of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing later this year.

T-Mo’s 5G Spectrum holdings are depicted in this graphic (courtesy of T-Mobile US):



T-Mobile USA 5G Spectrum Holdings

Image Credit: T-Mobile USA


Regarding 5G speeds, low-band 5G performance tends to look pretty similar to 4G, while mmWave-based 5G is spotty but speedy. Post-Sprint merger, T-Mo is leveraging Sprint’s mid-band spectrum holdings to boost its 5G speed performance and also utilizes mmWave in some urban areas, per its “layer cake” 5G spectrum strategy as per the above graphic.

Ray said in his blog post that T-Mobile US is “rapidly deploying critical mid-band 2.5 GHz spectrum from Sprint” to increase capacity and speed, and announced that mid-band 5G from T-Mo is now live in parts of Chicago, Illinois; Houston, Texas; and Los Angeles, California.

Ray said that mid-band 5G testing is showing average download speeds of more than 300 Mbps and peak speeds of 1200 Mbps. T-Mobile US has also tested the reach of its low-band 5G, recently completing tests with Ericsson, Qualcomm and OnePlus that demonstrated a 5G connection reaching 60 miles from the base station (on 600 MHz).

The T-Mo exec also said that the carrier’s 600 MHz spectrum is finally repacked and cleared of broadcasters, a little more than three years after being auctioned. Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Richmond, Va., Topeka, Kan., Sussex County, Del., and coming soon in Buffalo, N.Y.

Related to the carrier’s commitments to the Federal Communications Commission as part of the merger with Sprint, Ray said that T-Mo is moving ahead with the expansion of its wireless broadband internet service pilot. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, the carrier has started offering the service to people who aren’t existing T-Mobile US customers. Ray noted that the carrier plans to offer T-Mobile Home Internet in more than 50% of all U.S. zip codes.


T-Mo plans to turn up SA 5G this quarter

5G Core – Are We Ready?

Posted in 5G