FCC permits Verizon to test 5G and carrier aggregation in CBRS spectrum band

The Federal Communications Committee (FCC) has given Verizon Wireless permission to conduct a series of tests in the 3.55 to 3.7GHz CBRS spectrum band using three radio stations in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Verizon said the tests will involve 5G and carrier aggregation technology. The FCC grant reads as follows:

Verizon Wireless is working with 5G base station and mobile device equipment vendors to
conduct product testing of 3.5 GHz in outdoor locations listed below.

Station Locations:
1. Minneapolis (HENNEPIN), MN – NL 44-48-26; WL 93-22-29; MOBILE: within 0.75 km
radius of center point location, within 0.75 km, centered around NL 44-48-26; 
2. Minneapolis (HENNEPIN), MN – NL 44-48-24; WL 93-22-29; MOBILE: within 0.75 km
radius of center point location, within 0.75 km, centered around NL 44-48-24; 
3. Minneapolis (HENNEPIN), MN – NL 44-48-24; WL 93-22-29; MOBILE: within 0.75 km
radius of center point location, within 0.75 km, centered around NL 44-48-24.

“Verizon and partners plan to conduct the proposed 5G tests using pre-commercial equipment in prototype form,” Verizon said in its FCC application. The operator did not name the device or network equipment partners it will be working with for the tests.

PCMag reported that Verizon has only been using CBRS spectrum only for 4G – LTE.  In Jackson Heights (Queens, NY), the CBRS-enhanced 4G clocked 456Mbps, while 5G DSS at the same times and similar locations hit 232Mbps.  The PCMag author previously observed Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband at about3.2Gbps.

Therefore, the move to 5G over CBRS is significant.  Verizon added that it plans to evaluate “intra-band and inter-band carrier aggregation between 3.5GHz and licensed (and/or unlicensed) bands,” including its licensed 700MHz, PCS and AWS bands.  [Carrier aggregation technology can be used to bond together transmissions across different spectrum bands, thus dramatically increasing users’ connection speeds.]

Light Reading’s Mike Dano says that Verizon has been adding support for the 3.5GHz CBRS spectrum band to its network for years. And last year Verizon spent $1.9 billion to purchase CBRS spectrum licenses across the country in an FCC auction.

Verizon’s tests roughly coincide with the operator’s three-year, $10 billion program to put its C-band spectrum licenses into use.  Verizon succeeded in more than doubling its existing mid-band spectrum holdings by adding an average of 161 MHz of C-Band nationwide paying $52.9 billion including incentive payments and clearing costs.

References:

https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/els/reports/GetApplicationInfo.cfm?id_file_num=0461-EX-ST-2021

https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/els/reports/STA_Print.cfm?mode=current&application_seq=106415

https://apps.fcc.gov/els/GetAtt.html?id=273078&x=.

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/verizon-aims-to-test-5g-carrier-aggregation-in-35ghz-cbrs-band/d/d-id/769336?

https://www.fiercewireless.com/operators/verizon-boosts-lte-speeds-philly-via-cbrs-spectrum

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-announces-c-band-auction-results

T-Mobile 5G hype vs Craig Moffett: “We’re not in the 5G era yet”

T-Mobile US reported total revenues of $19.8 billion and service revenues of $14.2 billion in the last quarter.  T-Mobile’s gain of 1.2M post-paid net additions was solidly ahead of Wall Street consensus of 1.0M, and was similar to last year’s pro forma gain of 1.3M.  The company  added 773K post-paid phone subscribers, dramatically better than last year’s pro-forma gain of just 104K, and blowing away consensus of 475K.

T-Mobile’s 773,000 postpaid phone customer additions during the first quarter handily beat AT&T’s 536,000 and Verizon’s loss of 178,000 customers, according to Walter Piecyk, a financial analyst at LightShed Partners.   They continue to take market share. Their annual post-paid subscriber growth rate of 3.9% marks a sharp acceleration from the 2.7% growth rate reported last quarter.

T-Mobile has already migrated 20% of Sprint’s customers, and 50% of Sprint’s traffic (a doubling from
last quarter), to the much more robust T-Mobile network. The vast majority of Sprint customers
are already enjoying service benefits from access (even with legacy handsets) to T-Mobile’s
lower frequency spectrum bands.

T-Mobile: America’s Largest, Fastest and Most Reliable 5G Network Extends its Lead

  • Extended Range 5G covers 295 million people across 1.6 million square miles, 4x more than Verizon and 2x more than AT&T
  • Ultra Capacity 5G covers 140 million people and on track to cover 200 million people nationwide by the end of 2021
  • Majority of independent third-party network benchmarking reports show T-Mobile as the clear leader in 5G speed and availability
  • Network perception catching up to reality with a nearly 120 percent increase in consumers who view T-Mobile as “The 5G Company” since Q3 2019

Image Credit: T-Mobile

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On the company’s earnings call, T-Mobile US CEO Mike Sievert said that “discerning customers” are choosing T-Mobile’s new Magenta Max pricing plan, which offers few limits in the amount of 5G data that customers can consume. T-Mobile’s new Magenta Max customers consume 40% more data than its other 5G customers, and fully 70% more data than T-Mobile’s average 4G LTE customers.

“The take rate has just been amazing,” T-Mobile CFO Peter Osvaldik said of Magenta Max. “There are premium customers that are attracted to this premium network.”

“We’ve never been able to outrun the insatiable demand that customers have,” Sievert said of Internet service providers in general. “So when you provide the industry’s only true, unlimited plan, they do what they do, they use it up.”

According to Sievert, that indicates that T-Mobile’s 5G network will be a big winner. “We’re really starting to pull away from the pack.  T-Mobile is positioned to maintain our 5G leadership for the duration of the 5G era.”

In a great example of braggadocio, Sievert said:

“We have again demonstrated that our unique winning formula and balanced approach enables us to grow share while delivering strong financial results. In our increasingly connected world, we recognize our role as stewards of this profitable company and industry, while continuing to use our Un-carrier DNA to bring change to wireless and broadband alike, to disrupt the status quo and ultimately benefit customers. And this quarter was no exception.”

T-Mobile said it now covers fully 140 million people with its 2.5GHz network, which it calls “ultra capacity.” By the end of this year, the company said that number will increase to 200 million people. Meantime, speeds available on that network will rise from an average of 300 Mbit/s today to up to 400 Mbit/s by the end of this year, the operator said.  5G speeds will continue to rise after that, according to T-Mobile’s network chief Neville Ray. “2022 is going to be even better,” he said.

Analyst Craig Moffett (who participated in the earnings call) put somewhat of a damper on all that 5G hype by stating: “But we’re not in the 5G era yet. We’re not even a year into the first generation of 5G iPhones. Less than 10% of Americans have 5G-enabled phones, and half of those probably only got a new phone because they needed a replacement. 5G isn’t really driving handset selection, or service provider selection, yet.”

“That T-Mobile continues to take share even in the twilight of the LTE era is reassuring.  In a world of roughly comparable networks, they are competing on the basis of price alone… and they are taking share rapidly. In 5G, they will compete not only on the basis of the industry’s lowest prices, but also the industry’s best network. As we’ve said before, T-Mobile’s ‘worst to first’ story is a generational one. Networks don’t achieve advantage overnight, and they don’t lose it overnight, either. Ten and twenty-year cycles in telecom aren’t unusual.”

“T-Mobile’s brand, and its network, have been ascendant for years. But they have, up to now, achieved only parity. Their path to network superiority is potentially even longer, and, we suspect, even brighter.”

T-Mobile continues to increase market share even in the twilight of the LTE era is reassuring. In a
world of roughly comparable networks, they are competing on the basis of price alone… and they
are taking share rapidly.  In 5G, they will compete not only on the basis of the industry’s lowest prices, but also the industry’s best network.

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References:

https://www.t-mobile.com/news/business/t-mobile-reports-strong-first-quarter-2021-results

https://investor.t-mobile.com/news-and-events/events-and-presentations/event-details/2021/T-Mobile-1Q-2021-Earnings-Call/default.aspx

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4424340-t-mobile-us-inc-tmus-ceo-mike-sievert-on-q1-2021-results-earnings-call-transcript

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/does-5g-make-difference-t-mobile-says-yes/d/d-id/769256?

 

Analysis of Dish Network – AWS partnership to build 5G Open RAN cloud native network

On its Q1-2021 earnings call, Dish Network Chairman and Co-founder Charlie Ergen did not provide any specifics regarding Dish’s deal with Amazon/AWS or its overall plan to build a nationwide 5G Open RAN, “cloud native” core network.  Are you a bit tired of cliché’s like this:

“We’re building a Netflix in a Blockbuster world.” All Netflix did was put video on the cloud. Instead of going to a physical store, you put it in the cloud. Right. All the business plans in the world, all the numbers, all the thought if they just did something simple they put it in the cloud and the technology was they were a little ahead of the technology but the technology got there. All we’re doing is taking all those towers that you see as you drive down the highway, we basically put them in the cloud. And so instead of driving to physical store and rent a movie, you’re going to get all your data and information and automation everything from the cloud. And so it’s a dramatic paradigm shift in the way network is built and it should and it’s an advantage over legacy carriers who have 30-year-old architecture.”  Of course, that’s incorrect as almost all 5G carriers plan to build a 5G cloud native core network.

Dish is planning to build the world’s first standalone, cloud-based 5G Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN), starting with the launch of a 5G wireless network for enterprise customers in Las Vegas, NV later this year.

Dish says it will leverage AWS’s architecture and services to deploy a cloud-native 5G network that includes O-RAN—the antennas and base stations that link phones and other wireless devices to the network. Also existing in the cloud will be the 5G core, which includes all the computer and software that manages the network traffic. AWS will also power Dish’s operation and business support systems.

“Amazon has made massive investments over the years in compute storage transport and edge, [and] we’ll be sitting on top of that and as we tightly integrate telco into their infra, then we can expose APIs to their development community, which we think makes and enables third-party products and services to have network connectivity, as well as enterprise applications,” said Tom Cullen, executive VP of corporate development for Dish, explaining some of the technical details of the arrangement during Thursday’s earnings call.

Ergen reiterated Dish’s plan to spend up to $10 billion on its overall 5G network and provided milestone date for completion of the first phase of the 5G build-out.

“All of that $10 billion isn’t spent by June of 2023, which is our major milestone,” Ergen said, pointing to the company’s agreement with the U.S. government to cover at least 70% of the population with 5G no later than June 14, 2023.  However, Ergen has an escape hatch:

“The agreement we have [with the FCC] recognizes that [there could be] supply chain issues outside of our control, and that the timelines could be adjusted. But we don’t look at it that way internally. There is always unforeseen circumstances, and this one might be particularly acute. But we’re not going to let anything stop us. We’re focused on meeting our timelines, and regardless of what the challenges are. And we’ll have to reevaluate that from time to time, but we’re focused right now on Las Vegas and we’re focused on the 20% build-out by June of next year.”

“We’re not going to let anything stop us, he added.  The $10 billion “does take us through the complete (5G) buildout.”

On the 5G cloud native aspect, Ergen said:

“Yes, we anticipated a cloud native network from the beginning, he said. “So the $10 billion total build-out cost that we announced a couple of years ago–I think people are probably still skeptical … But you can see where we’re headed. Most of your models will probably take a lot of capex off the board when you understand the architecture, and we’re not going to go through all the architecture in this call, but it’s certainly has a material impact on capex.”

Dish said last week it plans to run all of its network computing functions inside the public AWS cloud – a plan that represents a dramatic break from the way most 5G networks around the world run today.  Many analysts think that’s a huge cyber-security risk as the attack surface is much greater in a virtual, cloud based network.

Marc Rouanne — Executive Vice President and Chief Network Officer:

“Yeah, the way to think of our cloud native network is a network of networks, that’s the way it’s architected. So when a customer comes to us, it’s easy for us to offer one sub network, which we can call it private network and there are techniques behind that like slicing, like automation, like software defined, so I’m not going to go into the techniques, but natively the way to think of it is really this network of networks. Right. And then, as Stephen, you’ve seen that you plan this to the postpaid customers and telling you how they would shake lose sub networks.”

Stephen Bye — Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer

“Absolutely, yeah. No, I think we’ve talked to a number of customers across multiple verticals in different industry segments and is an increasing appetite in demand for the kind of network that we’re building, which is really to enable them to have more security, more control and also more visibility into the data that’s coming off the devices, so that they can control their business more effectively. So we’re seeing a terrific demand. And the network architecture, we’re putting in place actually enables and unlocks that opportunity for those enterprise customers and it’s again not restricted to any specific vertical.

We’re touching a lot of different companies and a lot of different vertical segments across the country and the other aspect of the opportunity that we see for ourselves is that while we build out a nationwide network, we are in the process of working with customers and prospective customers on private networks that are not limited by the geography of our national footprint. So we can deploy those within their environments to support their business operations as well. So the demand we’re seeing is terrific and we’re already engaged with a number of customers today.”

Ergen chimed in again:

“The cloud infrastructure as it existed a couple of years ago, really didn’t handle telco very well, there has been a lot of R&D and investment that they’ve had to make to transform their network into something that where a telco can operate in the cloud, because it’s a little bit different than their traditional IT infrastructure. And then today they are, they were best in class room for what we needed and whether it be their APIs and the documentation and discipline and vendor at the — community that supports them and their — the developers and then of course obviously reach into the enterprise business. So it was — so that’s the first and foremost.

And then the second thing I think is, is the company committed? I’m not going to put words in Amazon’s mouth, I’ll let them talk to their commitment, but they’ve done a lot of work for us to help us without knowing where they have the deal or not and very appreciative that it. I think it’s helpful that Andy will become the CEO because he’s owned this project from the start and he can — he will be able to move all the pieces within Amazon to focus on this. And so I think at the end of the day, I think we’re going to be their largest customer in cloud and I think they’re going to — they may be the largest customer in our network. I mean, but we have to build a network and prove it, and they have to build and prove it. I think that all other carriers around the world will, including the United States will look at Amazon as a real leader here because we’re just doing something different.”

Stephen Bye — Executive Vice President, Chief Commercial Officer

“Yeah. So just in terms of what the Las Vegas build looks like. I think there are several attributes that are really important to what we’re doing to build on Charlie’s comment. One is we are building a cloud native infrastructure. We are using an Open Radio Access architecture. But it’s also a 5G native network. We’re not trying to put 5G on top of 2G, 3G and 4G, the infrastructure that we’re deploying is optimized for 5G and the way we’ve designed the network from an RF perspective and a deployment perspective is to take advantage of the 5G architecture as well as the 5G platform. And so, what does that look like?

It’s basically a new network, it’s new infrastructure, it’s designed using all of the spectrum bands that we have and the RF is optimized to take advantage of that. So we’re on a path to launching that in the third quarter, but it’s one of a number of markets we have coming on. We just have announced those markets through the end of the year, but it’s the first, obviously a number that we have in flight today and we’ve got activity going on across the country to actually build out this network. So it will be the first one that people can touch and feel and get the experience, but it is really a 5G native network and we’ve proven that O-RAN from a technology perspective can work compared to that at the end of last year. Now we are in the execution phase, now we’re in the deployment phase and so you know Vegas will have to be the first one that it will be a fully deployed market that people will be able to touch and feel and experience.”

Bye added that the 5G build-out will be done in phases but the network is designed to support all customers across all segments.

5G Network End-to-End Architecture.   Image courtesy of AWS.

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In a note to clients, analyst Craig Moffett said that Dish was purchasing services from AWS rather than Amazon investing in Dish’s 5G network:

“It was a purchase agreement, albeit one freighted with lots of rather fuzzy jargon, and nothing more. Notably, Verizon already has its own relationship with AWS, and theirs does call for AWS to co-market Verizon services to AWS’s enterprise customers. By contrast, the Dish agreement calls only for Dish to market AWS services to Dish’s customers, not the other way around. Objectively, it is Verizon, not Dish, that has the more strategic relationship.

Amazon isn’t likely to market a service to its customers unless they are highly confident that its quality is first rate and that its staying power is assured. Perhaps Dish will get there. But it won’t be clear that they have arrived at that point until their network is successfully serving customers… without the safety net of the T-Mobile MVNO agreement. That’s not until 2027. That feels to us like a long time to wait.”

Regarding Dish Network’s new business model, Craig said “It is now fair to say that Dish’s core business is wireless rather than satellite TV. Not by revenues, of course; the wireless business is today but the modest reseller stub of what once was Boost (Mobile). But certainly by valuation….What does matter, however, is the extent to which the satellite TV business can serve as a source of funds for financing the wireless business.”

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References:

https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/04/29/dish-network-corp-dish-q1-2021-earnings-call-trans/

https://www.nexttv.com/news/dishs-aws-deal-to-put-5g-in-the-cloud-like-netflix-in-a-blockbuster-world-ergen-says

https://d1.awsstatic.com/whitepapers/5g-network-evolution-with-aws.pdf

https://www.lightreading.com/service-provider-cloud/ergen-hazy-on-dish-aws-deal-financials-5g-buildout-costs/d/d-id/769152?

https://www.lightreading.com/service-provider-cloud/dishs-5g-network-architect-explains-new-amazon-deal/d/d-id/768933

https://docs.aws.amazon.com/whitepapers/latest/cicd_for_5g_networks_on_aws/5g-networks-on-aws.html

 

 

 

Telecom Italia to be first Open RAN network operator in Italy

Telecom Italia (TIM) is among the first operators in Europe and the only one in Italy to launch the Open RAN deployment program to innovate 4G and 5G radio access networks.

The initiative is covered by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last February with the main European operators to promote Open RAN technology with the aim of speeding up the implementation of new generation mobile networks, in particular 5G, Cloud and Edge Computing.

TIM said it signed up to the MoU to commit to the development of innovative mobile network systems that use open virtualized architecture to facilitate increasingly agile, flexible, secure and functional 5G services.

The first city in Italy to adopt this open network model is Faenza.  Through collaboration with JMA Wireless – a leader in mobile coverage and the development of Open RAN software – TIM will use a solution that decouples or disaggregates the components (hardware and software) of the radio access network.

The radio node on the 4G network has been built by combining JMA’s software baseband with the radio units provided by Microelectronics Technology (MTI). Going forward, this venture will also extend to 5G solutions.

The deployment of Open RAN solutions in an open environment, in line with the objectives of TIM’s 2021-2023 ‘Beyond Connectivity’ plan, will unite the potential of the cloud and Artificial Intelligence with the evolution of the mobile network. Moreover, it will enable operators to further strengthen security standards, improve network performances and optimize costs in order to provide ever more advanced digital services such as those linked to the new solutions for Industry 4.0, the smart city and autonomous driving.

TIM is a member of the European Open RAN alliance launched earlier this year by Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telefonica and Vodafone to work together on developing and implementing open RANs for mobile.  TIM said that the initiative will provide strong impetus to the introduction of the broadband mobile network’s new functionalities, in particular the 5G ones, promoting an increasingly widespread deployment and improving its management.

That consortium may be in competition with the 5G Open RAN Ecosystem, which includes the following companies: Dell Technologies Japan, Fujitsu, Intel, Mavenir, NEC, NTT Data, Nvidia, Qualcomm Technologies, Red Hat, VMware, Wind River and Xilinx.

Of course there is also the O-RAN Alliance and the TIP Open RAN project group.  Yet no standards body (like ITU, ETSI, IEEE, etc) is involved and neither is 3GPP which is the main spec writing body for cellular networks.

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References:

https://www.gruppotim.it/en/press-archive/corporate/2021/CS-TIM-ORAN-Faenza-26-aprile2021-EN.html

Analysis: Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange, DT commit to Open RAN

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

https://www.gruppotim.it/en/press-archive/corporate/2021/PR-TIM-ORAN-en.html

 

Ericsson claims to be 5G market leader with strong revenues coming in 2022

On Ericsson’s 1st quarter 2021 earnings call this past week, CEO Börje Ekholm said that while Ericsson is focused on growing its core business of networks and digital and managed services, it’s also putting energy into building an enterprise business. The Swedish based company is “seeing a very strong development, strong demand for 5G and enterprise applications.”

The CEO believes that the 5G market cycle will be both longer and bigger due to entering a complete new application area with enterprise applications. What’s encouraging is the progress Ericsson is making on their product portfolio. In Q1-2021, the company announced the ultra-lightweight, high-performance Massive MIMO radio portfolio.

“We have continued to consolidate our position as market leader in 5G with 136 commercial contracts and 85 live networks in 42 countries. What’s also encouraging is that organically, FX-adjusted, we saw sales grew 10% during the first quarter. And if we actually add — or adjust for the IPR revenues, organic growth was 14% in our business. So that is really driven by a strong growth in networks that, again, if you would adjust for IPR, actually grew 19% in the quarter, which is fairly significant growth.

If we look at the market areas, we saw good growth in four out of five market areas. Northeast Asia, we grew by 80%, which is really driven by the non-Chinese markets, primarily. If we look at — the next one is Southeast Asia, Oceania, and India, where we saw good growth, driven by 5G in Australia, as well as 4G rollout in India, of a little touch more than 20%. Moving on to Europe, where we had good growth, 15% in Europe.But that was partly offset by more flattish development in Latin America. And, of course, Latin America suffers from the pandemic and the macroeconomic effects following the tough situation with the COVID-19. If we then look – MANA had a strong development based on continued rollout of 5G. And there, we see, actually, good progress also on our cloud-native portfolio in digital services.So we had a growth of 10% — more than 10% organically. And we’ve been able to also strengthen our market position, which is, long term, going to be very attractive for us. We also saw the completion of the C-band auction, so we expect that to result in deployments during the second half of the year. And if we look then at our last market area, Middle East and Africa, we saw sales falling by 16%.That is really an effect of the pandemic in Africa impacting the macroeconomic and the spend environment, but we’re also seeing a slowdown in Middle East following the large investments last year. So one of the cornerstones of our strategy has been to grow gross margin, and it’s a fundamental indicator of success or progress on the focus strategy. So it is encouraging that we continue to see our gross margin strengthen in the business, and we are able to see that strengthening despite lower IPR revenue. As a matter of fact, we fully compensate for the lower IPR revenue in the gross margin development.”

Ekholm also said that Ericsson is strengthening its position with Cloud RAN and has made their  supply chain resilient.  They continue to develop the Managed Services business growing gross margins by 20.6% in the quarter.  Ericsson’s cloud-native portfolio (5G stand alone based core network) strengthened and will be an increasing part of revenues in the near future.

In the enterprise market, Ericsson is starting to see good progress on its 5G IoT offering, but we’re also seeing that Cradlepoint becomes integrated into our business and seeing the growth opportunities now materializing in the numbers from Cradlepoint.

Ekholm said that the expects to see the U.S. C Band auction result in deployments during the second half of this year. Verizon, in particular, has indicated that it wants to have 7,000 to 8,000 C Band sites ready to go when the spectrum is cleared in late 2021.

Ekholm also briefly addressed Ericsson’s supply chain. AT&T CEO John Stankey raised the potential for C Band equipment supply chain issues this week during AT&T’s quarterly call with investors. Asked about the carrier’s plans for C Band deployment, Stankey said that global supply chains are “stretched” and as a result, he is “a little skittish,” adding that the company is “seeing dynamics that are occurring in the global supply chain where unexpected things are popping up, and it is possible that we could see certain element shortages that start to crop up as everybody’s racing to put stuff up on towers.”

The CEO categorized 2021 as an investment year for Ericsson, particularly in its Digital Services segment, and that the company is incurring costs ahead of revenues — some of which might come as soon as the fourth quarter, but “we’re really going to see revenues coming in 2022,” he said.

References:

https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2021/04/21/telefonaktiebolaget-lm-ericsson-eric-q1-2021-earni/

https://www.ericsson.com/4904ed/assets/local/investors/documents/financial-reports-and-filings/interim-reports-archive/2021/3month21-ceo-slides.pdf

Ericsson: Enterprise focus will mean a ‘bigger and longer’ 5G cycle

 

Telstra wins most lots in Australia’s 5G mmWave auction

Five companies have won spectrum in the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) latest spectrum auction in the 26 GHz band. The 26 GHz band has been identified as optimal for the delivery of  5G wireless broadband services.

Of the 360 lots available in the auction, 358 were sold, realizing a total revenue of Australian $647,642,100, equivalent to almost $0.0127/MHz/POP.  The new licensees will have rights to the spectrum for 15 years, starting from later in 2021 through 2036.

Dense Air Australia Pty Ltd won 2 lots for $28,689,900, Mobile JV Pty Limited won 86 lots for $108,186,700, Optus Mobile Pty Ltd won 116 lots for $226,203,100, Pentanet Limited won 4 lots for $7,986,200, and Telstra Corporation Limited won 150 lots for $276,576,200.

Further apparatus licenses in the 26GHz band will be issued next month by ACMA.

“This outcome represents another significant milestone for 5G in Australia. The successful allocation of this spectrum will support high-speed communications services in metropolitan cities and major regional centers throughout Australia,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

“This auction is one among a suite of licensing approaches that the ACMA has introduced in the 26 GHz and 28 GHz bands to encourage a wide range of innovative communications uses,” said Ms O’Loughlin.

Optus said it had secured “the most highly valued position at the top of the spectrum band” and foreshadowed new services such as AR/VR video, next-generation cloud gaming and massive simultaneous usage, as well as enterprise use cases such as automation and private networking.

In a blog post, Telstra CEO Andy Penn expressed similar expectations.  Penn said the new spectrum capacity was more than ten-times Telstra’s existing 5G spectrum holdings and would be deployed to increase capacity in high-traffic locations such as shopping centers, inner-city train stations and sporting stadiums.  Telstra’s mobile networks was increasing by an average of 40% annually.

Telstra is leading in 5G Australia deployments with its 3.6GHz spectrum network expected to reach 75% of the population by the end of June.

References:

https://www.acma.gov.au/articles/2021-04/outcome-millimetre-wave-spectrum-auction

https://www.lightreading.com/asia/australian-operators-pay-a$648m-for-mmwave-spectrum/d/d-id/768991?

Telenor trial of multi-vendor 5G Standalone (SA) core network on vendor neutral platform

Telenor Group [1.] today said it has established a 5G standalone core network environment using a vendor-neutral platform, with network functions from Oracle, Casa Systems, Enea and Kaloom, all running on Red Hat Openshift. It has deployed Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud Compute protection and a 5G New Radio (NR) cellular transmission system from Huawei. Telenor said its 5G standalone (SA) trial using commercially available components proves that a multi-vendor environment is possible.

Note 1. Telenor Group is a Norwegian majority state-owned multinational telecommunications company headquartered at Fornebu in Bærum, close to Oslo, Norway.

The Palo Alto Networks Next Generation Firewall is being used to securing internet connectivity for mobile devices, said Telenor. Red Hat’s Ansible Platform is being used as a scalable automation system, and Emblasoft is providing automated network testing capabilities. The Norwegian Armed Forces have tested Security as a Service enabled by the multi-vendor set-up, it added.

Patrick Waldemar, vice president and head of technology at Telenor Research, said:

“The main component of 5G-SA is the 5G mobile core, the ‘brain’ of the 5G system. Unfortunately, most 5G core deployments are still single vendor dependent, with strong dependencies on that vendor’s underlying proprietary architecture. This single-vendor dependency can be a killer for innovation. It restricts open collaboration from the broader 5G ecosystem of companies developing new technology, use cases, and services that the market expects.”

“To protect the 5G infrastructure from cyber threats, we deployed Palo Alto Networks Prisma Cloud Compute, and their Next Generation Firewall is also securing Internet connectivity for mobile devices. Red Hat Ansible Automation Platform is being used as a scalable automation system, while Emblasoft is providing automated network testing capabilities. The 5G New Radio (NR) is from Huawei,” says Waldemar.

Telenor’s 5G-SA trial, with commercially available components, demonstrates that a truly multi-vendor environment is possible.  However, this author has doubts that a multi-vendor 5G SA core network will go into production anytime soon.

“We believes that such a multi-vendor environment will stimulate innovation, reduce cost of the infrastructure, increase competition and accelerate the development of an open 5G-ecosystem which in turn will enable a range of new services for Telenor’s consumers, industry and government customers,” says Waldemar.

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Heavy Reading Survey:

One of the key choices for a 5G cloud native core network  is between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS).

A Heavy Reading “Cloud-Native 5G Core Operator Survey” published in March 2021 identifies a preference for an IaaS model (45%) over PaaS (32%) and vendor-integrated full stack (23%). Larger operators, however, prefer PaaS.

Respondents working for operators with revenue of more than $5 billion annually are somewhat more likely to select PaaS, with a score of 44% versus 41% for IaaS and 16% for the vendor full stack. Conversely, respondents working for operators with revenue of less than $5 billion reported a score 23% for PaaS, 49% for IaaS and 28% for the vendor full stack. This difference reflects corporate cloud technology strategies and, to some extent, the internal capabilities of the operator’s technology team.

Source:  Heavy Reading

The overall picture, according to the survey, is that both PaaS and IaaS models are likely to be used over the near and medium terms. This accords with Heavy Reading’s understanding that both models are already in use, in production, for 5G core. Nevertheless, Heavy Reading expect the PaaS model and the container as a service (CaaS) variant to prevail over the longer term, especially as 5G core workloads move closer to the edge.

For more information contact:

Stian Kristoffer Sande, Communication Manager, Telenor Group stian-kristoffer.sande@telenor.com

References:

https://www.telenor.com/media/announcement/groundbreaking-5g-solution-paves-the-way-for-new-digital-services

https://www.telecompaper.com/news/telenor-runs-5g-sa-trial-of-multi-vendor-core-on-red-hat–1380126

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/cloud-infrastructure-for-5g-core/a/d-id/768873?

Aviat Sells TIP compliant 5G-Ready Disaggregated Transmission Network to Africell

Austin, TX based Aviat Networks has announced an agreement to provide Africell with a 5G-ready disaggregated transmission network in several African countries. The new network will be designed, installed and maintained by Aviat. It will include Aviat’s WTM 4000 and WTM 4800 multi-band point-to-point radios and CTR microwave switches, and TIP (Telecom Infra Project) compliant disaggregated cell site gateways (DCSGs).  The DCSGs are Edgecore Networks running IP Infusion’s OcNOS® network operating system. The deployment, which will occur in Q2 2021, is Africell’s first Telecom Infra Project (TIP)-compliant DCSG endeavor.

Editor’s Note:  The DCSG offers an open, disaggregated, and software-controlled option for supporting mobile services roll outs, including for 5G. In 2019, Telefónica announced the deployment of Infinera’s  TIP compliant DCSG product.  Telefónica Peru will deploy Infinera’s DRX-30 hardware and Converged Network Operating System (CNOS) software to support 4G and 5G infrastructure as well as fixed services.

“Leading mobile operators like Africell recognize the operational advantages of a disaggregated solution and how its flexibility will enable the rapid delivery of broadband services,” said Peter Smith, CEO of Aviat Networks. “We are proud that Africell has placed its confidence in Aviat to meet the challenge of their first TIP-compliant DCSG project.”

“With escalating demand for high-speed mobile Internet services in our markets, and with 5G in our sights, we sought an approach that offers us fast deployment, maximum flexibility, and lowest TCO,” said Younes Chaaban, Africell’s Chief Technical Officer. “Aviat’s backhaul and DCSG solution was the clear choice to meet all these challenges and support the rapid network growth of our transmission network well into the future.”

About Aviat Networks    
Aviat Networks, Inc. is the leading expert in wireless transport solutions and works to provide dependable products, services and support to its customers. With more than one million systems sold into 170 countries worldwide, communications service providers and private network operators including state/local government, utility, federal government and defense organizations trust Aviat with their critical applications. Coupled with a long history of microwave innovations, Aviat provides a comprehensive suite of localized professional and support services enabling customers to drastically simplify both their networks and their lives. For more than 70 years, the experts at Aviat have delivered high performance products, simplified operations, and the best overall customer experience. Aviat Networks is headquartered in Austin, Texas. For more information, visit www.aviatnetworks.com or connect with Aviat Networks on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

About Africell    
Africell is one of the fastest growing mobile operators in Africa. The company currently operates in four countries – The GambiaSierra LeoneDemocratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda. Africell will launch operations in a fifth country, Angola, in 2021.  http://www.africell.com

Media Contact: Gary Croke, Aviat Networks, Inc., gary.croke@aviatnet.com

Investor Relations Contact: Keith Fanneron, Aviat Networks, Inc., keith.fanneron@aviatnet.com

SOURCE Aviat Networks, Inc.

Related Links

http://www.aviatnetworks.com

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cartoon courtesy of long time IEEE contributor Geoff Thompson:

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References:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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