U.S. Wireless Carrier’s Aggressive Promotions for iPhone 12 explained

Business Insider:

  • The launch of the iPhone 12 has sparked a battle for U.S. carriers to entice devices upgrades.
  • AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s aggressive promotional pricing reflects the higher perceived lifetime value of attracting and retaining 5G wireless consumers.

The U.S. wireless carriers are betting that steep iPhone 12 promotions will more than pay off over time.  Here’s why:

  • U.S. wireless carriers are turning to promotions now in hopes that they will be able to secure new or retain customers throughout the 5G era. The most common time for wireless carriers to lose or gain subscribers is when customers switch smartphones, per The Wall Street Journal.
  • The unusually aggressive device promotions also likely reflect the higher lifetime value of 5G customers. By 2025, 5G subscribers are expected to generate 2.5x more revenue per connection for carriers than the average cellular connection, according to Juniper Research forecasts cited by Light Reading.
  • Wireless carriers are also likely attempting to meet US customers halfway, since so many people are cutting back on spending amid the economic slowdown. In Q2 2020, the average sale price of smartphones in the US sank to $503, representing a 10% year-over-year decline, according to Canalys.

Analyst colleague Craig Moffett generated this iPhone 12 Q & A in a blog post for his clients:

1.  Why was Verizon featured so prominently in Apple’s iPhone launch?

Answer: Their millimeter wave broadband, sparsely available though it may be, is the only credible showcase for what 5G can do.

2. Why do Apple’s new iPhone’s sold outside of the U.S. not support millimeter wave signals?

Answer: Millimeter wave drains battery life incredibly quickly, and generates unwanted heat in the handset.

3.  Why do Apple’s new phones in the U.S. default to turning off the very feature that is supposedly the reason to buy them?

Answer: To reduce heat and extend battery life.

4.  What are the use cases that make 5G worth having?

Answer: We don’t know yet.

5.  Why did AT&T decide to offer such a rich promotion – a free iPhone with almost any trade-in – for their existing subscribers?

Answer: Again, we don’t know.

6.  Will 5G produce a high ROI for wireless carriers?

Answer: Most expect that 5G will mean higher capital intensity (capex), and therefore lower ROI.

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References:

https://www.businessinsider.com/att-tmobile-verizon-usher-aggressive-promos-for-iphone-12-lineup-2020-10

https://www.moffettnathanson.com/?Section=Media%20/Telecom

C-Spire: Mobile 5G launch in Mississippi with 200Mbps peak speeds using a combo of 5G and LTE Advanced

C Spire today began rolling out its pre-standard 5G mobile service in Mississippi with plans to add more areas by the end of this year.  Brookhaven in south Mississippi’s Lincoln County and Columbus in north Mississippi’s Lowndes County were strategically chosen as the initial 5G markets as part of C Spire efforts to make the technology available and provide the best network experience for customers.

The C Spire 5G launch is occurring in conjunction with the launch of the latest Apple iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro required for 5G service.  More 5G-enabled smartphones from other handset manufacturers, including Samsung, will be available for use in early 2021 along with expansion in other markets.  The use of the Apple 5G iPhones implies this is a 5G-NR (3GPPP Rel 15) NSA implementation.

Specifically, parts of Hattiesburg, parts of Madison and Ridgeland in the greater Jackson metropolitan area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, are expected to be 5G capable by the end of 2020 with more areas of the company’s footprint coming soon, according to Brian Caraway, General Manager of C Spire’s wireless division.

C Spire Begins Rollout of Next-generation 5G Service in Mississippi Responsive image

“We’re bringing consumers the benefits of new 5G wireless network technology where they need it the most with fast speeds, better service and an improved experience,” Caraway said.  “Using a backbone of fiber optic infrastructure, we’re rolling out a better 5G network for now and for the future.”

5G implementation is part of over $200 million in recent network enhancements, including the deployment of additional Band 41 carriers with carrier aggregation, increased cell site antenna capacity using advanced features like 12-layer MIMO, 256 QAM modulation for better spectral efficiency, network-wide optimization for balanced data delivery and extensive coverage of 4G LTE Advanced announced previously this year.

During the transition to 5G across the network, Caraway said C Spire plans to continue to use improvements and enhancements offered from its current 4G LTE Advanced technology to ensure that customers have the best network experience uniquely designed for their needs and region.

“We’re deploying 5G at a variety of spectrums – so many customers will have a faster experience on a 5G network while others may still see the best performance on our 4G LTE deployments,” Caraway added.  “5G is a new technology that will improve with time, but regardless of where you live, C Spire is dedicated to providing the best network experience for the most customers possible.”  Indeed, C-Spire says that they are delivering peak speeds up to 200Mbps through a combination of the most advanced LTE and 5G technologies.

C Spire, a Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology services company, operates the nation’s largest privately-owned mobile services firm and sixth largest in the U.S. industry.  The rollout is part of the firm’s broader efforts to bring consumers and businesses next-generation 5G benefits now and in the future.  The company also installed new base stations and software at its 1,200-plus cell sites last year, resulting in a 20 percent average speed boost across its network.

References:

www.cspire.com/5g

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/c-spire-begins-rollout-of-next-generation-5g-service-in-mississippi-301158950.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/c-spire-rolls-out-real-5g-speeds-in-31-mississippi-counties-300992355.html

China Mobile has 114M “5G Package” subscribers vs 204M broadband wireline customers

China Mobile announced yesterday that it had approximately 946 million mobile customers as at 30 September 2020, which was down about 1 million from the previous quarter.  There were 770 million 4G customers and 114 million 5G package customers. The latter number is a 44 million increase in the past three months. However, the growth in 5G subscribers is not quite what it seems. Like China Telecom, China Mobile uses the term “5G package customers,” which counts 4G customers on 5G plans. [The 3rd state owned China telco – China Unicom – does not yet give a breakout of 5G subs from its mobile subscriber base.] The 4G subscriber base, reflecting some migration to 5G package plans, shrank by 10 million during Q3-2020.

During the first three quarters of the year, China Mobile handset data traffic increased by 35.0% year-on-year to 65.3 billion GB with handset data DOU reaching 9.1GB. Total voice usage dropped by 7.1% year-on-year to 2,258.0 billion minutes, showing a further reduced rate of decline. Total SMS usage rose by 15.5% year-on-year to 713.0 billion messages and maintained favourable growth. Mobile ARPU continued to demonstrate a flattened rate of decline, dropping by 2.6% year-on-year to RMB48.9 for the first three quarters of the year.

As of 30 September 2020, China Mobile’s total number of  broadband wireline customers was 204 million, with a net increase of 17.17 million for the first three quarters of the year. Wireline broadband ARPU amounted to RMB32.4.

Slight of hand: China Mobile's growth in subs includes 4G customers on 5G plans.

Image Credit: China Mobile

China Mobile said it will “continue to put in an all-out effort to implement the “5G+” plan, further promote scale-based and value-oriented operations and foster the all-round development of CHBN markets, thereby maintaining growth in telecommunications services revenue for the full-year of 2020.”  The Group acknowledged the increasing cost associated with 5G operations and maintenance, but did not elaborate on what those costs were:

Facing the challenges resulting from increasing costs incurred by 5G operations and maintenance and business transformation, the Group will allocate resources by adhering to the principle of ensuring a sufficient budget for areas essential to promote growth, while reducing and controlling expenses on certain selected areas. In addition, it will take further measures to reduce costs and enhance efficiency, alongside efforts to maintain good profitability. The Group will maintain stable profit attributable to equity shareholders for the full-year of 2020, continuously creating value for investors.

Ericsson, which previously received a $593 million 5G contract with China Mobile for base stations wrote in an email to Light Reading: “”We have been riding on the investments in China and there are likely to be more than 500,000 base stations by the end of the year in China launched on 5G and of course we are quite pleased to participate in that rather fundamental and quite strong rollout.”

Market research firm Dell’Oro forecasts that China’s 5G rollout will drive an 8% increase in worldwide sales of radio access network products this year. Excluding China, it forecasts no growth in the RAN infrastructure market. Additional highlights from Dell’Oro’s 2Q2020 RAN report:

  • 5G NR radio shipments accelerated 5x to 6x during 1H20, driven by robust growth in China.
  • Millimeter Wave 5G NR deployments continued to advance rapidly, with revenues growing nearly four-fold.
  • Initial estimates suggest that vendor rankings remained stable between 2019 and 1H20, while revenue shares changed somewhat as the Chinese suppliers reached new revenue share highs.
  • Near-term RAN forecast has been adjusted upward, to reflect the faster-than-expected growth in China.

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References:

https://www.chinamobileltd.com/en/file/view.php?id=237832

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/china-mobile-5g-subs-top-114m-in-q3/d/d-id/764778?

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/ericsson-rides-high-on-china-5g-boom/d/d-id/764770?

Huawei Executive: “China’s 5G user experience is fake, dumb and poor”-is it a con game?

RAN Market Growth Accelerated in 1H20, According to Dell’Oro Group

Huawei Executive: “China’s 5G user experience is fake, dumb and poor”-is it a con game?

At the opening ceremony of the China International Information and Communication Exhibition on October 14th, Ding Yun, executive director of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd  said that China’s 5G user experience has three problems of “fake, dumb, and poor.”  In particular, some users have a 5G LOGO on their mobile phones, but they are not connected to the 5G network, cannot make 5G calls, or frequently switch signals, according to an article by Xia Xutian on the Sina Tech website.

How could a Huawei executive say such things about its home country which supposedly has very close ties, impact and influence on the world’s top telecom equipment supplier and #1 or #2 global smartphone vendor?  See Comment and Analysis below for more on this.

While China has built the world’s largest 5G network, it has a gap in experience, coverage, and commercial closed-loop operation, Ding Yun said. For comparison purposes, that the 5G downlink rate in South Korea is more than 600 megabits while the average in China is only a bit more than 270 megabits.  South Korea’s 5G user penetration at the end of September reached 25%, while China’s penetration level is only about 8%.

“Objectively speaking, I am also a 5G user. We have just completed the first phase of 5G construction today. It is indeed a great improvement over the 4G experience, but our network still has many problems. I use three words to sum it up: fake, dumb, bad/poor.”

Huawei's Ryan Ding is scathing about China's much lauded 5G rollout. (Source: Huawei)

Huawei’s Ryan Ding speaking at the China International Information and Communication Exhibition about 5G in China

Photo Credit: Huawei

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What’s fake? In many cases the user’s smartphone has a 5G logo but no 5G coverage.  The experience is still 4G, but the display is 5G.  Those users are not connected to the 5G network and can’t make 5G calls.”

What is dumb? Some places in China have 5G signal coverage, but there is no 4G anchor station, so calls cannot be made.  He said the anchor point of 4G happens to be on the edge of multiple cells. The frequent handover of 4G and 5G results in a very poor user experience.

Ding Yun noted that although the number of 5G users in China has reached 150 million, the matching rate of networks, mobile phones and packages of 5G users is still very low. Many users have bought 5G packages, but their mobile phones are still 4G. There are also many users who have 5G mobile phones, but there is no 5G network coverage in their geographical area.

Ding Yun pointed out that operations and maintenance costs are also an unavoidable issue for 5G. At present, the peak rate of 5G is 25 times that of 4G, but 5G equipment (especially mmWave if and when deployed in China) will greatly increase the power consumption of 5G base stations, which poses a huge challenge to the entire power supply system (not to mention the huge electricity costs incurred by the 5G network operator).

“We have conducted a survey on the power consumption of China’s network. About 32% of the sites have insufficient power, and in some places, the battery capacity is also insufficient,” he added.

Ding Yun urged 5G network operators to:

1] build out 5G business ecosystems through innovative and differentiated applications;

2] reduce expenditure and optimize the TCO of operators from an overall perspective; and

3] look towards the future and upgrade the current operating platform as soon as possible to face potential problems such as the bill storm that 5G will bring.

In response to the 3rd objective, Huawei is using big data to connect user data, operational data, and terminal data, so that the machine, network, and applications can provide a better match.

In conclusion Ding Yun suggested the following:

  • To build the most successful 5G for thousands of industries, wireless network operators must first have a deep understanding of the industries they are targeting.  Different industries have different specific requirements for 5G in terms of latency, reliability/availability, throughput, security, etc. Therefore, to develop 5G industry applications, we first need to clarify the boundaries of capabilities, consolidate the ability base to serve thousands of industries, implement a replicable business model, and actively promote ecological construction, especially the development of application ecology.
  • As operators expand the construction of 5G industry applications from connection to connectivity + computing, and then to SLA (network) slicing, their corresponding business models will gradually shift from a direct sales model to a value sharing model that combines active integration and integration . Ultimately, the business model of 5G industry applications will develop in the direction of multi-path, closed-loop, and multi-win as operators choose their roles.
  • Unify (5G and other) standards and develop ecology. (What 5G standards is he referring to? There are none at this time).  The application development of the 5G industry is not only a matter for operators, but also requires the entire industry chain to “stretch it into one strand” and integrate the telecommunications industry with other industries to form industry standards. Only in this way can the development of 5G industry applications be accelerated.

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Comment and Analysis:

Ding Yun’s remarks are a refreshing change from the usual self congratulatory speeches given by 5G network operators and equipment suppliers (like Huawei).  We are astonished he can be so honest with the Chinese government and China Communist Party having so much control over telecommunications and other industries in China.

Here are a few copy/paste (and translated from Chinese to English) Sina reader comments:

“I have not found a demand for 5G in the current application (environment)”

“Haha, so embarrassing[Yun Bei][Yun Bei]

“China’s 5G, got up early. Experience the night episode (where there is no 5G service to conserve electricity costs for carriers)”

“In Qingdao, there is basically no real 5G SA network. When only the SA mode is selected, the 5G signal is gone, and now the operator’s 5G speed limit is 500M bps”

“The conclusion is that I continue to use my 4G”

“The worst is a three-year contract with China Mobile”

 “The three major operators are too hateful and must be punished.”

“China network operators are deliberately lowering the 4G signal, forcing everyone to use 5G. Just this dirty trick, give his grandma a whistle.”

“No 5G signal coverage.”

“Fake, dumb, and bad are synonymous with China’s three major network operators.”

“What is the conclusion? For 5G, it’s better to wait first, don’t worry about changing phones [Hee hee], let alone changing pricing packages. It’s not very useful and costs money.[Yun Bei]

“The basic meaning is, the operator, burn me[doge]

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Email from a very knowledgeable, anonymous Chinese 5G expert corroborates what Ding Yun said:

  • China claims they have 100 millions of 5G end point devices now.  Actually, those are mostly 4G handsets whose users were coerced to subscribe to a 5G package. The 3 major state owned network operators purposely lowered 4G-LTE speeds and forced subscribers change to the 5G package which only provides the previous 4G-LTE speeds.
  • China claims they have deployed 40,000 5G NR base stations. But without URLLC (ultra high reliability, ultra low latency) enhancements to 5GNR (3GPP Release 16) and mMTC (massive machine to machine communications) standards, 5G NR is not complete.  (3GPP has not set a date for the conclusion and evaluation of URLLC in the RAN performance testing which is supposed to be in the “frozen” 3GPP Release 16 set of specs)
  • There are no mmWave 5G base stations at all in China.
  • Currently China 5G  base stations consume huge amounts of energy, so the 3 major 5G network operators shut them down at night to reduce electricity bills.  Note the above readers comment, “Experience the night episode.”
  • Former minister of China Ministry of Finance and seated deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) recently publicly expressed concerns about China’s 5G development and investments.  They said China had made bad 5G investments and that China has not yet balanced the 3G and 4G investments made by its network operators).
  • What kind of joke is this?

References:

https://finance.sina.com.cn/tech/2020-10-15/doc-iiznezxr6037613.shtml

https://t.cj.sina.com.cn/articles/view/1642471052/61e61e8c02000ynrk?cre=tianyi&mod=pcpager_tech&loc=1&r=9&rfunc=3&tj=none&tr=9

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/ap-explains-promise/KEKKYBDSVGE4W66CY24PMOYMJA/

FCC Chairman Pai Reviews 5G FAST plan and importance of the C-Band (3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz) auction

Speaking at the Americas Spectrum Management Conference on October 12th, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai assessed the Commission’s 5G Fast Plan and highlighted the importance of this December’s C-Band auction for 5G spectrum.

Pai said the 5G Fast Plan, introduced in 2018, had three central planks: freeing up spectrum, promoting wireless infrastructure, and modernizing our regulations to encourage more fiber deployment.  Pai said the FCC has been freeing up high-, mid-, and low-band spectrum for 5G:

High-band spectrum enables ultra-high-speed, gigabit-plus wireless connectivity. Last year, the FCC successfully concluded our nation’s first two auctions of millimeter-wave spectrum for 5G services, in the 28 GHz and 24 GHz bands, respectively. Earlier this year, we concluded bidding in an auction of the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum bands. This was the largest auction in American history, releasing 3,400 megahertz of spectrum into the commercial marketplace.

All told, we’ve made available almost five gigahertz of high-band spectrum for commercial use though these auctions. To put that in perspective, that was more spectrum than was used before for terrestrial mobile broadband by all wireless service providers in the United States combined.

With respect to low-band spectrum, we’ve finished repurposing spectrum in the 600 MHz band, which was long used for broadcast television, for mobile broadband. To clear the 600 MHz band spectrum for wireless use, roughly half of our nation’s broadcast TV stations—nearly 1,000 total—had to change their transmission frequencies. This summer, we completed this enormous undertaking—known as the “repack.” Now, all of the valuable low-band airwaves sold in the ground-breaking broadcast incentive auction are available for wireless broadband service, and this spectrum is already being used to provide 5G service to areas where over 200 million Americans live.

Pai said the FCC has made the most headway on mid-band spectrum. Mid-band spectrum is appealing for 5G largely because of physics: it combines good geographic coverage with good capacity.  The FCC chairman claims the commission has systematically identified mid-band airwaves that were being underused and set plans to put these airwaves to work for the American people.

The FCC also targeted rule changes to bring the 3.5 GHz band into commercial use. The rules for this band had not been optimized to encourage 5G deployment.  But with the leadership of FCC Commissioner O’Rielly, new rules were promulgate to promote investment in the band. This August, the Commission successfully completed an auction of 70 megahertz of licensed spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band—the first-ever auction of mid-band spectrum for 5G. And we’ve completed the necessary technical work so that the band’s entire 150 megahertz is now available for commercial use.

Pai said the biggest move to free up mid-band spectrum for 5G is in the swath of spectrum from 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz—what is referred to as the C-band. This spectrum is mostly used by fixed-satellite companies to beam content to video and audio broadcasters, cable systems, and other content distributors. However, with advances in technology, these companies can now provide the same services using alternative technologies or considerably less spectrum.

This past February, the FCC voted to clear the lower 300 megahertz of the C-band and make 280 megahertz of this spectrum available for 5G through a public auction. All eligible space station operators currently using this spectrum have committed to an accelerated relocation to the upper 200 megahertz of the C-band—meaning that the lower 280 megahertz will become available for 5G two to four years earlier than otherwise would have been the case. The FCC will begin the auction of the lower 280 megahertz of the C-band on December 8th.

And just a couple weeks ago, at our September meeting, the Commission proposed to make the 3.45-3.55 GHz band available for innovative commercial operations while accommodating limited remaining operations by federal incumbents. This action follows through on the White House and the Defense Department’s August announcement that this 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum should be made available for 5G as quickly as possible. I am optimistic that we will be able to auction the 3.45 GHz band next year.

The bottom line of all these mid-band efforts is this: With the aforementioned auctions of the C-band, the 3.5 GHz band, and a 2021 auction of the 3.45 GHz band, the FCC is on a path to have a contiguous 530-megahertz swath—from 3.45 to 3.98 GHz—of mid-band spectrum available for 5G.

60 GHz dynamic spectrum sharing access

GSA: “Global regulators have sought to open up access to the C-band, which has become (initially at least) the most important spectrum band for 5G.”

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Pai asserts that he has presided over the most aggressive FCC in history when it comes to spectrum. He claims that the FCC has been similarly productive on the other two planks of 5G FAST PLAN: promoting wireless infrastructure and modernizing our regulations to encourage more fiber deployment.

For example, the number of new cell sites in the United States has skyrocketed. We added fewer than 7,000 cell sites from 2013 to 2016, but added over 87,000 from 2016 to 2019, with an increase of over 46,000 in 2019 alone.  He said that the FCC is focused on the integrity of the communications supply chain—the process by which products and services are manufactured, distributed, sold, and ultimately integrated into our communications networks.

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Comment and Analysis on the C-band auction:

Analysts at Morgan Stanley Research raised their C-band mid-point auction forecasts from $23.5 billion in proceeds to about $26 billion, with their high-end estimates at $35.2 billion.  The firm cited a relatively low turnout in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz auction as a catalyst, as well as improved macro environment and supportive credit markets. The lower-than-expected turnout by big carriers in the CBRS auction indicates they’re likely saving their gun powder for the big C-band auction, which offers more unencumbered mid-band spectrum for 5G.

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “One of the challenges the FCC faces is that the allocation of spectrum was first made from analog assumptions that have been rewritten as a result of digital technology.”  Consider the transition from analog to digital TV, where an analog TV signal took up 6MHz of spectrum and required guard bands on either side to avoid interference, four or five digital signals can fit into that one channel.

“I went through it with the [Department of Defense], with the satellite companies, and the fact of the matter is that one of the big regulatory challenges is that nobody wants to give up the nice secure position that they have based on analog assumptions,” said Wheeler. “I think you also have to pay serious consideration, but I found that claims of interference were the first refuge of people who didn’t like the threat of competition or anything else.”

“As we look at C-Band, it brings forward some use cases that could increase the size of the 5G opportunity for us,” Verizon CFO Matt Ellis said during a recent investor event.  While Verizon has purchased billions of dollars worth of unused millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum for 5G, such spectrum isn’t suitable for covering large geographic areas because transmissions in such bands can only travel a few thousand feet in the best of conditions and requires line of sight communications (no trees, walls, buildings between cell site and mmWave end point subscriber),

Indeed, analyst Craig Moffett forecasts that Verizon will need to spend as much as $20B on spectrum  in order to keep pace with T-Mobile, which currently enjoys a huge spectrum advantage by virtue of their 2.5 GHz spectrum. He says that even if Verizon acquires C-Band spectrum, its propagation shortcomings relative to T-Mobile’s 2.5 GHz spectrum suggest that Verizon will still be disadvantaged in either coverage or cost.

Craig believes that AT&T won’t be able to keep pace with Verizon’s bidding at the C-band auction. The New York Post reported that a sale of all of DirecTV (owned by AT&T) might yield less than what Verizon is expected to spend in the upcoming C-Band auction alone.   Without a large block of mid-band spectrum to compete with T-Mobile and Verizon, AT&T’s Mobility segment could fall behind for a generation.  Satellite-TV provider Dish Network, which is building out a 5G network, isn’t participating in the auction, according to several sources.

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References:

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-establishes-bidding-procedures-december-c-band-auction-0

https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/blog/2020/07/15/need-speed

https://www.fiercewireless.com/regulatory/analysts-beef-up-c-band-auction-forecast-to-26b-35-2b-range

https://www.networkworld.com/article/3584072/fcc-auctions-should-be-a-long-term-boost-for-5g-availability.html

https://nypost.com/2020/10/06/att-pushes-ahead-with-auction-of-directv-despite-lowball-bids/

https://www.tvtechnology.com/news/fcc-issues-c-band-auctions-draft-procedures

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20200106/spectrum/gsa-c-band-is-most-important-spectrum-band-for-5g

Apple announces 3 new 5G iPhone 12 models, but what version of 5G, what frequencies and which carrier networks?

Apple today unveiled its new 5G capable iPhone 12 set today, but other than Verizon’s Ultra-Wideband (5G mmWave) the company’s presentations and press releases did not identify which carrier networks (see Addendum below) or frequencies are supported.  Or when, if ever, the new new 5G iPhones would work on any 5G SA Core networks (vs 5G NSA which requires a LTE anchor) or with network slicing (which requires a 5G core network). However, the company said it has tested its 5G devices on 100 5G carrier networks in 30 regions, including mmWave in the U.S. (presumably for Verizon’s Ultra-Wideband network).

Apple said its new 5G iPhones will offer a “superior 5G user experience.”  The company wrote in a press release:

iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max deliver an advanced 5G experience on a global scale, engineered with a seamless integration of world-class hardware and world-class software. 5G on iPhone boasts improved speeds for faster downloads and uploads, higher quality video streaming, more responsive gaming, real-time interactivity in apps, FaceTime in high definition, and much more. Customers will also be able to enjoy a secure, fast connection, reducing the need to connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Featuring the most 5G bands on any smartphone, iPhone 12 Pro models offer the broadest 5G coverage worldwide.1 Models in the US support millimeter wave, the higher frequency version of 5G, allowing iPhone 12 Pro models to reach speeds up to 4Gbps, even in densely populated areas. iPhone 12 Pro models also feature Smart Data mode, which extends battery life by intelligently assessing 5G needs and balancing data usage, speed, and power in real time.
The iPhone 12 and 12 Pro are available for pre-order on Friday, and the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max will be available Nov. 6, Apple said.
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Apple’s new iPhone presentation included demonstrations of how 5G iPhones could be helpful in downloading important medical images and for remotely designing factory spaces—tacit acknowledgments that some of the most likely customers for the technology might be business users who can benefit from faster connections.  Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg talked up the carrier’s 5G mmWave (Ultra-Wideband) in crowded venues like NFL stadiums – locations that haven’t been populated this year due to COVID 19 restrictions.
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“This is a huge leap for iPhone, bringing the best 5G experience in the market and delivering our most advanced technologies to users who want the absolute most from their iPhone,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “Each generation of iPhone has changed what we expect from a smartphone, and now with 5G, iPhone 12 Pro provides a new generation of performance. Our tight integration of hardware and software enables incredible computational photography features like the expansion of Night mode to more cameras, and introduces support for HDR video with Dolby Vision. A state-of-the-art LiDAR Scanner means users can experience AR like never before, and also offers benefits to the camera with faster autofocus in low light and the introduction of Night mode portraits. These experiences and so much more make this the best iPhone lineup ever.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook sought to explain why 5G technology would improve iPhone users’ experience. He later called on Verizon CEO to give a “razzle-dazzle” pitch on that U.S. carrier’s mmWave and now nationwide 5G network.

Photo Credit:  Brooks Kraft/Apple

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Verizon’s CEO Gets Center Stage:

Tim Cook introduced Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg who announced that Apple’s new iPhone 12 sets would operate on Verizon’s Ultra Wideband (5G mmWave) network- the world’s fastest, he claimed.  Vestberg used this soapbox talk opportunity to announce the launch of Verizon’s nationwide 5G service using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS).

Perhaps in a nod to Verizon’s Ultra Wideband network, a lady from Apple said its new “smart data mode” would ensure that its customers stay on a 4G LTE network most of the time to reduce power consumption, but that would be auto switched to a 5G connection when they need faster download speeds.

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Comment and Analysis:

The big three U.S. cellular network carriers (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile) have been scrambling to roll out 5G service across the U.S., but coverage remains spotty  and it isn’t clear yet whether customers really want or need it.  Analysts like Craig Moffett of Moffett-Nathanson and others (see quotes below) are skeptical that many customers will buy a 5G phone without a must-have application or service to help them see the appeal of the new technology.
Analysts at research firms Canalys and IDC estimate that just 13 per cent of smartphones shipped globally in the first half of 2020 were 5G capable.  According to GSMA,  wireless network operators are expected to spend 80 per cent of their mobile capital expenditures, or nearly $8, on 5G networks in the next five years, resulting in a forecast of 1.8B 5G connections by 2025.
U.S. cellular networks are still being upgraded, and service might be disappointing in some spots for early adopters, especially on Verizon’s 5G Ultra-Wideband network if you’re not close to the cell tower or 5G base station.  5G speeds in the U.S. are slower than WiFi speeds according to the chart below:
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What’s inside the iPhone 12’s 5G network interface:
We believe the version of 5G supported on the iPhone 12 models is based on 3GPP Release 15 New Radio (NR) for the data plane and 4G-LTE for everything else (including signaling, EPC, network management, etc).  In other words, 5G NSA.  That is the safe bet as there are no implementable standards for 5G SA core network and all that goes with it (cloud native, virtualization, automation, network slicing, etc).  We have no idea what type of security is included in these new 5G iPhone as there are only 3GPP Release 16 specs on 5G security which have not been sent to ITU-T for evaluation and consideration as ITU Recommendations.
We assume the unannounced 98 (100-2) 5G NSA carriers that will support these iPhones on their licensed frequencies will be revealed in the coming weeks and months.  5G roaming agreements will also be important, but there have been very few and far between.
Finally, we think these 5G iPhones use the Qualcomm Snapdragon X60 modem chip set. TSMC is reportedly producing both that chip and the iPhone 12’s A14 Bionic processor (designed by Apple engineers).  As Apple acquired Intel’s 5G PC Modem chip set business for over $1B, we expect that entity to produce the baseband silicon and possible the RF front end for the next generation of 5G iPhones.
However, the internal vs external design will likely depend on which frequencies will be used by the wireless carrier’s that 5G iPhones support.  Most people don’t know that the frequencies for 5G have not yet been standardized (by ITU-R WP5D) and the last official version (revision 6) of ITU M.1036 – Frequency arrangements for terrestrial component of IMT- is over one year old!
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Analyst Forecasts and Opinions:

Analysts surveyed by FactSet, on average, predict iPhone revenue will rise 15% to $160 billion in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. That is about $6 billion shy of the record set in fiscal 2018, when the $1,000 iPhone X helped bolster sales even as shipments failed to reach a new high.

Katy Huberty, a veteran Apple analyst for Morgan Stanley, last week predicted the company could ship as many as 240 million iPhones this year, helped by customers who haven’t upgraded in several years and excitement for 5G. That would set a record, beating the 231 million devices sold in fiscal 2015. Sales at that level could send the company’s shares up 37% from Monday’s close to a market value of almost $2.9 trillion, she said.  “We expect this fall’s launch to be the most significant iPhone event in years,” she wrote in a note to investment bank clients.

“Now we have an iPhone that is capable of exploiting the benefits of the 5G wireless network, but we have an underdeveloped network,” said Tom Forte, a D.A. Davidson research analyst. “It could take a couple [of] years for that to happen. There are large parts of the country that may never have it,” he said. While Apple’s smartphone rivals Samsung and Google have already introduced phones able to connect to 5G, Forte said the challenge for Apple now is to manage people’s expectations. “When people get the new iPhone and can’t use the high-speed network, there is real potential for high levels of disappointment there,” he added.

Dan Morgan, a portfolio manager at Synovus Trust and longtime Apple investor, said iPhone sales peaked about five years ago. Every update since then has been more of a ripple than a wave, he said, noting that he does not expect the iPhone 12 to set any sales records. With so many working from home and using Wi-Fi as their main connection to the Internet, Morgan said a 5G connection may not be as attractive to those seeking faster speeds.  “If you really wanted to watch a Netflix movie or play a game, maybe you can just go and use your Wi-Fi instead right now,” he said.

Colleague Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson wrote in an email, “It’s striking to me that Apple is acting as though the network is the application. That’s a real departure for them, and it risks being a disappointment if consumers expect that there will be genuinely differentiated things they’ll be able to do with their new devices. That said, we have to be careful about being overly focused on the U.S. market. In China and Korea and a handful of other markets, the network is at least a little bit further along.”

“For some consumers, the experience on 5G might just feel a lot like 4G,” according to Daniel Hays, strategy partner at consulting firm PwC US. “I think the thing that we’re kind of seeing and experiencing at the moment is that the hype around 5G has far outpaced the reality at this point.”
The full 5G network roll-out is likely to take another five to seven years, Hays said.

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Addendum:  AT&T to offer iPhone 12 (carefully read the terms and conditions):
Shortly after Apple’s event ended, AT&T said that it would offer a free iPhone 12 to new and existing customers if they trade in their existing device – though there are plenty of caveats to the offer (AT&T may temporarily slow data speeds if the network is busy. Limited. time. Requires trade in of eligible device, $799.99 on 0% APR 30-mo. agmt. $0 down for well-qualified customers only. $0 after credits over 30 months. No credits for optional $5/mo. Next Up upgrade feature. If service is cancelled, device balance due. If service on other lines cancelled w/in 90 days credits stop. $30 Activation and other terms apply.)
Starting Oct. 16, AT&T customers can pre-order iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 at www.att.com with online and in-store availability starting Oct. 23. AT&T customers will be able to order iPhone 12 Pro Max and iPhone 12 mini beginning on November 6, with availability on November 13.
“Today ushers in a new era for the world’s best smartphone with the arrival of 5G on the iPhone 12 lineup and we’re excited to work alongside AT&T to introduce a powerful 5G experience to iPhone users,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With the seamless integration of world-class hardware and world-class software on iPhone 12 models combined with AT&T’s expansive 5G network, we’re able to provide customers with an advanced 5G experience that offers improved speeds for fast downloads and uploads, higher quality video streaming, and much more.”
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T-Mobile USA’s 5G network (presumably at “sub‑6 GHz” spectrum) is listed as a 5G carrier that iPhone 12 models will support in these specs from Apple.  However, T-Mobile has yet to make a formal announcement on availability or pricing at this time.  T-Mo continues to promote its  “low and mid-band spectrum” as providing the best 5G coverge.
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References:

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/10/apple-introduces-iphone-12-pro-and-iphone-12-pro-max-with-5g/

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2020/10/apple-announces-iphone-12-and-iphone-12-mini-a-new-era-for-iphone-with-5g/

https://www.apple.com/apple-events/october-2020/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-event-iphone-12-expected-with-5g-capabilities-11602581403?mod=djemalertNEWS

https://about.att.com/story/2020/apple_iphone.html

https://www.npr.org/2020/10/13/923314677/apple-unveils-iphone-12-with-5g-but-most-wont-feel-faster-speeds-anytime-soon

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/12/tech/apple-iphone-12-5g-experience/index.html

https://www.apple.com/iphone-12/specs/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/category/dynamic-spectrum-sharing/

https://www.itu.int/rec/R-REC-M.1036/en

Nokia Report: 5G will add $8T to global GDP by 2030; Barriers to Adoption & Catalysts Noted

In a just released 5G Readiness report commissioned by Nokia, market research firm Sapio surveyed 1,628 technology purchasing decision-makers in eight markets and across six industry sectors to get a broad sense of how professionals believe 5G is going to affect their business.

  • The markets (and participants) surveyed were as follows: Australia (203), Finland (200), Germany (203), Japan (203), Saudi Arabia (202), South Korea (200), UK (207), US (210).
  • The sectors were: energy and utilities (208 responses), mining (119), manufacturing (455), public sector (271), healthcare (445), transportation (130). Respondents from companies of less than 250 employees were only permitted for energy and utilities and mining companies.

The grand summary of this extensive survey and extrapolating exercise is that Nokia now forecasts 5G will add $8 trillion to global GDP by 2030.  A key message is that a lot of technological progress over the next decade will depend on 5G.  That remains to be seen, especially in light of the lack of standards for the non radio aspects of 5G and the ultimate number of 5G Radio Interface Technologies to be included in the 2nd version of IMT 2020.SPECS, sometime in 2021.

On average, whilst the importance of 5G adoption is well understood, a significant investment gap remains. 86% of decision makers said they have some kind of strategy for 5G, and over a third fear being outpaced by the competition should they not invest in 5G in the next 3 years. However, only 15% are currently investing in its implementation, and over a quarter (29%) of businesses are not planning any 5G investment in the next 5 years.

Image Credit:  Nokia

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The report breaks down the findings by country and also looks at specific events like the COVID-19 pandemic. How literally to take all these extrapolations from a company with a vested interest in driving the market is down to the individual, but at the very least it provides a good snapshot of industry expectations.  Here are a few survey results:

  • 43% of global technology decision makers have increased their overall investment in their strategic technology planning. This represents a 27% net increase in the number of budgets that have increased.
  • In the U.S., additional costs (44%), disrupted timelines (42%) and the emergence of new technology gaps (38%) have been the most prevalent impacts of COVID-19 on technology road maps.
  • 41% have C-Level sponsor for 5G implementation in their organization.  25% don’t have any 5G championing from management (23%).
  • Businesses are more likely to feel that their industry is middling in terms of 5G adoption, with 20% setting a high benchmark.
  • 43% of technology decision makers have a long term 5G strategy. Just over 1 in 10 have no strategy whatsoever (11%)
  • Over a third fear being outpaced by the competition should they not invest in 5G, while 27% feel whatever their 5G investment they will still be successful.

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                                                                             5G Investment Plans (SOURCE: Nokia):

Investment plan

Barriers to 5G adoption:

The gap between enterprise awareness of 5G’s benefits and current levels of adoption suggests there are notable barriers to implementation. The research identified five principal barriers to 5G adoption for:

  • Ecosystem availability: Limited availability of key infrastructure outside urban centers was cited by 28% of decision-makers.
  • Education and understanding: 17% said a key barrier is that decision-makers within their business do not understand 5G, while 14% said they don’t know enough about it themselves.
  • Awareness: Over a fifth of technology buyers (22%) said that 5G implementation is not a current priority for their business.
  • Cost and complexity: 15% said they were not confident their company would be able to implement the necessary technologies.
  • Security: Over a third (34%) said that they are concerned about the security of 5G.

Quotes:

“As organizations across the world move faster towards deployment of 5G enabled technologies, those who wish to be the first to leverage its potential cannot afford to lose more time,” said Gabriela Styf Sjöman, Chief Strategy Officer at Nokia. “To capture the tremendous opportunities of 5G, organizations must start or intensify their planning now and accelerate business model innovation to remain competitive in a rapidly digitalizing global economy. Beyond investment in the technology itself, this will require digitalizing operations, processes and ways of working to capture the full potential of 5G.

“5G adoption is categorically shown to fuel business success. Organizations that have integrated 5G stand to benefit from advantages that go way beyond faster, more efficient and reliable network services. As 5G enables businesses to transform, it will also accelerate wider technological and economic trends, with unimaginable possibilities for global economies and societies.

“The cities, hospitals and factories of the future depend on 5G and the unparalleled ability it offers to move, process and store vast volumes of data. Moreover, the biggest challenges we face as a society – from climate change to the pandemic – can be better tackled through at-scale use of the data and technologies that 5G will unleash.”

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5G Catalysts:

The report identifies three key catalysts for change in order to bring about improved understanding, confidence and ultimately adoption of 5G. These are: improved regulation, collaboration and willingness to innovate.

  1. A third of technology buyers said that government investment in infrastructure or subsidies to drive down costs would encourage them to invest more in 5G. Enterprises will not adopt 5G unless the supply from network operators is presented and priced appropriately, which in turn relies on governments and regulators making 5G spectrum in low, mid and high bands available and affordable.
  2. The lack of understanding that exists within some businesses around 5G must be directly addressed. Companies and consumers alike need more information about the technology and how it can both improve operations and solve real world problems, ranging from enterprise use cases to telehealth to green technology.
  3. As companies better understand 5G, they must boldly move to overhaul their operations to accommodate it, for example, exploring how they could use 5G to streamline and more effectively monitor their mobile workforce, fleet or supply chain.

 

References:

https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2020/10/11/2106580/0/en/Nokia-5G-set-to-add-8trn-to-global-GDP-by-2030.html

https://www.nokia.com/networks/5g/readiness-report/

https://www.nokia.com/networks/5g/readiness-report/about-this-report/

https://onestore.nokia.com/asset/210070?_ga=2.168806049.1042908821.1602549124-1767387886.1601396220

Nokia reckons 5G is the future

Nokia report says 5G could add $8 trillion to global GDP by 2030

Is a new 5G Patent War in the works? Expert Opinion + Review of 5G patent studies

Introduction:

A recent Bloomberg article sees an increasing amount of patent litigation arising from the use of 5G and other (unnamed) wireless technologies.  Wireless telecom patent producers, like Qualcomm and Nokia (along with many others not mentioned in the article) may reap royalties from many different types of  products that communicate using wireless networks.  Examples include “talking cars” (aka V2V or V2X), and IoT devices [1.] being planned in agriculture, medicine, appliances and other sectors.

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Note 1.  The 5G/IMT 2020 use case “Massive Machine to Machine communications” is the wireless connectivity used in the IoT.  Note that IMT 2020.SPECS includes NB-IoT as one of the Radio Interface Technologies supported by 3GPP, China, Korea, and India/TSDSI.

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“So many different types of companies have to find a way to get these deals done,” said Joe Siino, president of Via Licensing, a Dolby Laboratories Inc. unit that works with audio, wireless, broadcast and automotive industries. “It’s taking the problems we had with smartphones and multiplying it by 10.”

After noting the “4G smartphone patent wars,” Bloomberg says the new wireless patent disputes are potentially more lucrative, as sales of 5G devices is forecast to grow to $668 billion globally in 2026 from $5.5 billion this year, according to Allied Market Research.  Here’s a review of recent court rulings, again from Bloomberg:

Courts in the U.S. and Europe have in the past few weeks rejected efforts claiming the telecommunications companies’ licensing policies violated antitrust laws and confirmed their ability to limit the use of fundamental wireless technology by those who refuse to meet their licensing demands.

Those rulings have already favored the telecoms in cases brought by the automobile industry in Europe and the U.S. over the current wireless standards

In the past few weeks, judges in Germany sided with Sharp Corp.’s request to limit Daimler AG sales in its home country for using its mobile technology without a license. In an unrelated case a federal judge in Texas threw out an antitrust lawsuit filed by Continental AG, a Daimler parts supplier, against a patent-licensing pool (aka Patent Troll) set up as a one-stop shop for access to patents.

That pool, Avanci LLC, handles licensing patents owned by Qualcomm, Nokia, Sharp and other telecom companies. It charges $15 per vehicle for a range of patented inventions needed to comply with 2G, 3G and 4G standards, and is developing a plan to charge for the next generation, known as 5G.

In a letter to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Daimler and Ford Motor Co. warned that an appeals court ruling won by Qualcomm could “destabilize the standards ecosystem by encouraging the abuse of market power acquired through collaborative standard-setting.”

And a few selected quotes:

“Patent owners want to get paid because they are proud of what they created and continue to innovate,” Kasim Alfalahi, founder and CEO of Avanci. “You have to find a middle ground, you have to find a place where these things can meet.”

“The fact that more and more industries are going to start incorporating technology that has to be standardized means it’s going to be even more important to resolve these issues,” said Katie Coltart, a patent lawyer with Kirkland & Ellis’s London office.

“You’ve got a handful of companies that are investing billions of dollars in research,” said Mark Snyder, deputy general counsel for Qualcomm. “In a functioning market, you want people to engage in earnest negotiation. FRAND is a two-way street.”

Telecoms.com Scott Bicheno wrote: “Around half of Huawei’s 5G patent applications seem to have been made in China, and they account for half of all such applications made in China. While there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that, it’s worth noting that Samsung and LG, which are in the top three 5G patent applicants alongside Qualcomm, have hardly filed any applications in Korea. It’s almost as if the barrier to entry for patent filing in China is lower.”

5G Patent Expert Yigang Cai, PhD [2.] Comments:

Here’s why I would prefer to ban 5G patent litigations:
  • Currently, most companies generating 5G patents aim to license royalty revenues rather than to protect the intellectual property they have created.
  • A high percentage of the many patents granted are not essential (professionals call them garbage patents), or only quite least claims among those patents are useful. It is kind of a waste of financial expenses and resources worldwide.
  • Restrictions on the use of 5G patents will hurt most industries in the future, when 5G use cases and industry vertical applications are being developed.
Infringing on garbage patents truly is a waste of world resources and unnecessary cost to most industries.  Infringing on Standards Essential Patents (SEPs) is much worse.  Anyone might claim the equipment or devices complying with standards will infringe someone’s SEP patents.
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Note 2. Among other honors, Yigang Cai, PhD was awarded the first ever Alcatel-Lucent “Distinguished Inventor Award” (2013) with his inventive accomplishments and patent contributions throughout his career with the company. Yigang has filed a total of 1000+ patents globally, of which 669 are granted patents (including 196 U.S. granted patents as of this week).  Many of his inventions in wireless networks have been built into products and systems of 2G/3G/4G and 5G, and deployed worldwide. He is one of the pioneers and leaders in developing the principles and components of Machine Type Communications (MTC).  Dr. Cai generated many 5G inventions, including 5G New Radio (NR), 5G end-to-end architectures and use cases (both Access Networks and Core Networks), Network Slicing, MEC, 5G Machine Type Communications (MTC), and Device-to-Device Communications.

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Review of 5G Patent Studies:

1.   In a 2019 study by GreyB, a research company, Huawei was found not only to hold more 5G-related patents than any other company (some 13,474), but also to hold the bigger share of standard-essential patents (or SEPs) – about 19% of them vs 15% for Samsung, 14% for LG, 12% for each of Nokia and Qualcomm, and just 9% for Ericsson.

Authors of the study wrote: “Huawei holds the most 5G patents i.e. 13473 followed by Qualcomm and then Samsung with 12719 and 9299 respectively. China wants to have an upper hand in 5G therefore, it won’t come as a surprise to see Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE surpass some of the top companies worldwide.”

Here is the list of top 10 companies holding most 5G patents:

2.  In a January 2020 released study, Berlin, Germany based Iplytics found that the 5G standard is highly patented. In total 95,526 5G
declarations patents have been declared for 5G which breaks down to 21,571 unique patent families. Only 44% of these patent families have yet been granted.

As most 5G patents have been recently filed, we would expect the rate of granted patents to further increase in the next few years. Most 5G patents where declared between 2017 and 2019 showing a sharp increase year by year. And as the 5G standard development is not yet completed (that includes IMT 2020.SPECS and 3GPP Release 16)  further patent declarations are expected in the upcoming years.

It’s also interesting that 24% of the patents declared for 5G have before already been declared for 4G. This shows that some 4G technologies are still relevant for the new 5G specifications. As of January 1st, 2020 Huawei (CN) has declared most 5G patents followed by Samsung (KR), ZTE (CN), LG (KR), Nokia (FI), Ericsson (SE) and Qualcomm (US). All of those top 5G patent owners have already been active in the 4G standard development.

The study identified new market players. Here the Chinese companies Guangdong Oppo (CN), Vivo Mobile (CN), FG Innovation (CN), Spreadtrum Communications (CN) and the Taiwanese ASUSTeK Computer (TW) are new in the top patent owner list comparing 5G and 4G. The study shows however that the larger share of the Chinese newcomers’ patent portfolios is yet filed locally in China and are yet not granted. Given that 5G is a recent technology the study shows that the patent portfolios of these Chinese companies are still very young and could very well still be filed and granted internationally.

This study also investigated companies’ participation in the standards development, where technical contributions submitted to the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) – the spec writing organization that develops complete radio and non-radio telecommunications specs for 3G, 4G and 5G – were counted and analyzed.

The main 4G standard developers such as Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm, ZTE or Samsung and LG are again strong players for the 5G development. Here again the data shows increasing participation from new and upcoming Chinese players. When counting only approved 5G standard contributions, Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and Qualcomm are the strongest players.

3.  As of February 2020, The Times of India says that Huawei has filed the most 5G patents, but Samsung has been GRANTED the most.

Infographic: Huawei leads 5G tech patents filing race - Times of India

Conclusions:

Bloomberg believes that there may be some “bumps in the road” for 5G and other wireless patent owners. A Chinese court has issued an order that would limit InterDigital Inc.’s powers in a royalty spat with handset maker Xiaomi Corp., even though the legal fight is in India. And judges in Dusseldorf indicated they want the European Union’s top court to weigh in on the dispute between Nokia and Daimler, which could turn the tide against the former handset maker if the EU top judges side with the carmaker.

The concern is that if there isn’t enough money for patent owners, they won’t work together to develop a single system that can be used for anyone. Too much money, though, means manufacturers will increase their prices or opt to pass on using the latest technology, said Mauricio Uribe, a patent lawyer with Knobbe Martens in Seattle.  “Neither extreme is good for consumers,” he said.

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References:

FCC increases 3.45-3.55 GHz spectrum for 5G and local wireless services

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the release of more mid-band spectrum for mobile broadband services. An additional 100 MHz in the 3.45-3.55 GHz range will be made available for 5G services, while 50 MHz in the 4.9 GHz range will be available for state licensing of local wireless services.

The release of the 3.5 GHz spectrum remains subject to public consultation. If approved, the frequencies would be available for flexible-use service. The public review seeks comment on an appropriate regime to coordinate non-federal and federal use and proposes a band plan, as well as technical, licensing and competitive bidding rules for the band. Lastly, it seeks comment on details regarding the processes for relocating non-federal radiolocation operators to the 2.9-3.0 GHz band and sunsetting amateur use in the 3.3-3.5 GHz band.

Today’s FCC announcement follows last month’s by the White House and Department of Defense (DoD) that 100 megahertz of contiguous mid-band spectrum would be made available in the 3450-3550 MHz band for 5G commercial use while simultaneously minimizing impact to DoD operations.

With this 3.45 GHz band item, the upcoming December C-band auction of 280 megahertz of spectrum, and the recently completed auction for Priority Access Licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, the Commission is on track to make a wide swath of 530 megahertz of continuous mid-band spectrum available for 5G. Combined with the Commission’s work to make low- and high-band spectrum available for flexible use as well as its successful efforts to expedite the deployment of wireless infrastructure and fibe Federal Communications Commission r, the FCC is establishing a strong foundation for wireless innovation and investment and helping the United States lead the world in 5G.

The additional spectrum for 5G is made possible by an agreement earlier this year with the Department of Defense to vacate the 3.45-3.55 GHz range. This adds to the 3.55-3.65 GHz range just auctioned and the 3.7-3.98 GHz band planned for the FCC December auction.

The FCC said the latest announcement means that a total of 530 MHz in the range 3.45-3.98 GHz is set for release for 5G services.

What is CBRS? - LTE in 3.5 GHz Shared Spectrum and What it Means for IoT | Leverege

Under the new rules for the 4940-4990 MHz frequency range, states are allowed to lease this spectrum to third parties to boost wireless broadband, improve critical infrastructure monitoring, and facilitate public safety use cases. The frequencies are currently designated for public safety use, but are rarely used, and the FCC is hoping the new rules will increase applications of the spectrum.

The rules adopted establish a framework for states to allow new partnerships with electric utilities, AT&T FirstNet and commercial operators to increase usage of this spectrum, while protecting existing public safety operations. The wider possibilities are expected also to contribute to more equipment for the band being developed, a problem that has limited the spectrum’s use to date.

References:

https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-367236A1.pdf

https://www.fcc.gov/document/fcc-seeks-facilitate-5g-345-355-ghz-band

Media Contact:

Cecilia Sulhoff at (202) 418-0587, email: Cecilia.Sulhoff@fcc.gov

Posted in 5G