SK Telecom today announced that it has successfully accomplished the world’s first standalone (SA) 5G data session on its multi-vendor commercial 5G network in South Korea.
1. T-Mobile claimed they were the first carrier to successfully test 5G SA operation which we covered in this article: T-Mobile Claim: 1st Standalone 5G Data Session on a Multi-Vendor Radio and Core Network.
2. Definition: 5G Stand Alone (SA) refers to using 5G specifications (in cells/base stations and endpoints) for both signalling and information transfer. All 5G deployments to date use NSA operation which uses 4G-LTE signaling and 4G-Evolved Packet Core (EPC) as well as LTE network management
SA operation requires the new 5G Packet Core (5GC) architecture from 3GPP instead of relying on the EPC to allow the deployment of 5G without the LTE network.
Ericsson provides 5G Standalone 5G facts:
- New cloud-native 5G Core
- Simplified RAN and device architecture
- The only option to provide same 5G coverage for low band as legacy system
- Supports advanced network-slicing functions (not standardized yet – may be in 3GPP Release 16)
- Facilitates a wider range of use cases for new devices
- Brings ultra-low latency (that won’t happen to completion of 3GPP Release 16 in June 2020 if then)
3. South Korea was the first country in the world to launch 5G services and currently has some of the most wide ranging 5G networks anywhere in the world. That’s largely due to government co-ordination with the three large South Korean wireless network operators – SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus.
With this major breakthrough in 5G, SK Telecom says it is now fully set to provide standalone 5G services. SK Telecom said that it plans to launch the world’s first 5G SA service in the first half of this year.
The standalone 5G data call took place on January 16, 2020 in Busan, the second largest city in Korea, using SK Telecom’s commercial 5G network deployed in that region.
To achieve this standalone 5G milestone, the company applied standalone 5G New Radio (NR) software to its existing non-standalone (NSA) 5G base stations, and completed multi-vendor interoperability between network equipment of Ericsson and Samsung.
SK Telecom has also applied key 5G technologies such as network slicing and mobile edge computing (MEC) to its standalone 5G network. Network slicing is being highlighted as an essential technology for providing optimal support for different types of 5G services by partitioning a single physical network into multiple virtual mobile networks. MEC minimizes latency by providing a shortcut for data transmission through installation of small-scale data center at 5G base station or router. MEC can improve the performance of ultra-low latency 5G services such as cloud gaming, smart factory and autonomous driving.
“With the successful standalone 5G data call on our multi-vendor commercial 5G network, we are now standing on the threshold of launching standalone 5G service, a key enabler of revolutionary changes and innovations in all industries,” said Park Jong-kwan, Vice President and Head of 5GX Labs of SK Telecom. “SK Telecom will offer the best 5G networks and services to realize a whole new level of customer experience in the 5G era.”
About SK Telecom
SK Telecom (NYSE: SKM) is the largest mobile operator in Korea with nearly 50 percent of the market share. As the pioneer of all generations of mobile networks, the company has commercialized the fifth generation (5G) network on December 1, 2018 and announced the first 5G smartphone subscribers on April 3, 2019. With its world’s best 5G, SK Telecom is set to realize the Age of Hyper-Innovation by transforming the way customers work, live and play.
Building on its strength in mobile services, the company is also creating unprecedented value in diverse ICT-related markets including media, security and commerce.
Related—Big 3 Korean carriers vow to offer seamless telecom service during lunar new year:
Korea’s big three mobile network operators have committed to provide “seamless” connectivity over the Korean Lunar New Year festivities, according to reports in the Korean press.
SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus all committed to provide extra capacity in their networks over the Seollal period, as Koreans travel home for the holiday, placing extra strain on the country’s networks, particularly in public spaces such as train stations and along the country’s roads.
“To respond to possible data traffic jams, LG Uplus checked out base stations for 4G and 5G networks and will run an emergency situation room. We will also increase the number of technicians for highly-populated areas such as airports,” the company told journalists from the Korea Times.
SK Telecom predicted that it would see a 24 per cent hike in data traffic over the holiday period, as vacationing Koreans make use of high demand services like UHD video streaming and geolocation services. SK Telecom identified 750 busy areas that will receive special attention over the period, while KT said that it would be proactively managing traffic in 970 locations across the country.
All three mobile network operators have said that they will have more technicians and service staff working over the holiday to help them cope with the increase in demand.
Technicians of SK Telecom check network quality at an airport, Sunday. Photo Courtesy of SK Telecom
LG Uplus will also run an emergency response center at its office in Magok, western Seoul during the holiday.
The company has completed inspections of 4G and 5G base stations installed at highway rest areas, SRT and KTX train stations and bus terminals throughout the country.
“To respond to possible data traffic jams, LG Uplus checked out base stations for 4G and 5G networks and will run an emergency situation room. We will also increase the number of technicians for highly-populated areas such as airports,” the company said.
KT designated 970 places including highways, department stores, bus terminals, airports, train stations and other busy areas in the country as data quality management zones.
South Korea was the first country in the world to launch 5G commercial services with the big three wireless carriers doing so on the same day.
Taiwan completed its 5G spectrum auction on 16 January, after 261 rounds of bidding. Total bids reached 138.08 billion TWD (approximately USD 4.6 billion), DigiTimes reports, citing a statement from Taiwanese regulator National Communications Commission (NCC).
- Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Mobile, Far EasTone Telecommunications and Taiwan Star Telecom won spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. Asia Pacific Telecom also participated in the auction. According to the same source, the unit price per 10MHz bandwidth in the 3.5GHz band reached TWD 5.075 billion, which made it “the most expensive 5G bandwidth in the world.”
- Chunghwa Telecom won 90MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz frequency band for TWD 45.675 billion and also secured 600MHz in the 28GHz band for TWD 618 million.
- Far EasTone won 80MHz in the 3.5GHz band with a bid of TWD 40.6 billion, as well as 400MHz in the 28GHz band for TWD 412 million.
- Taiwan Mobile secured 60MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz frequency band for TWD 30.4 billion and 200MHz in the 28GHz frequency band for TWD 206 million. Judging from Taiwan Mobile’s current business model, the company is likely to team up with Asia Pacific for rendering related 5G services, leveraging 60MHz bandwidths it won in the 3.5GHz band.
- Taiwan Star won 40MHz in the 3.5GHz band for TWD 19.708 billion, and
- Asia Pacific Telecom secured 40MHz of spectrum in the 28GHz frequency band for TWD 412 million.
- Chunghwa Telecom and Far EasTone secured 90MHz and 80MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, respectively. Digitimes says these two carriers are expected to compete fiercely in a number of 5G service segments, including IoT, AI and big data.
Bloomberg had this to say about Taiwan’t 5G spectrum auction:
The rising costs for licenses shows carriers expect the faster networks — due later this year in Taiwan — will provide a market advantage over competitors. The auction results so far are “blowing away expectations,” New Street Research analysts said in a note dated Jan. 6.
“There is no sign that the bidding will end soon,” Sheih Chi-mau, chairman and chief executive officer of the island’s biggest carrier Chunghwa Telecom, said Monday night in remarks at a company event. “It may take a few more days. The competition is fierce.”
While some other sales of 5G spectrum in similar bands have drawn bigger totals, Taiwan’s is the richest relative to population, according to New Street.
Taiwan’s bidding war suggests strong demand for mid-spectrum airwaves like the 3.5Ghz band in other markets, including for a U.S. sale of the so-called C-Band that could bring about $50 billion. Taiwan has about 29 million mobile phone accounts, an average of more than one per person, but its neighbor China has more than a billion. What makes Taiwanese subscribers especially attractive is that they’re the biggest consumers of data in Asia, according to researcher Tefficient. Average per-user data consumption at Taiwan’s carriers reached as high as 17.6GB per month, compared with 7.6GB in China and 8.5GB in South Korea.
South Korean carriers established the world’s first full commercial 5G services last April. They are expected to have reached 5 million subscribers by the end of 2019. Operators in other countries including the U.S., U.K., Japan and Australia have also offered limited services to the public with plans to introduce wider networks this year.
From LightReading— Robert Clark, contributing editor:
Taiwan’s 5G auction has completed its first round in near-record territory, with the five operators committing NT$138 billion ($4.6 billion) for more than three times the government reserve price.
Just over NT$137 billion went to the 3.5GHz band, putting the medium-sized Asian economy third behind Italy and Germany in aggregate spending and second in terms of spending per megahertz. Bids for the 28GHz frequencies raised about NT$1 billion.
But the auction isn’t over. The regulator, NCC, called a halt Thursday morning after the smallest player, Hon Hai-backed Asia-Pacific Telecom, withdrew from 3.5GHz bidding.
The process will resume on February 21, when the operators are expected to negotiate with each other for specific frequencies within the spectrum bands. The NCC said it would step in only if they are unable to reach agreement.
The biggest winners were Chunghwa Telecom, the number-two operator, which bid NT$45.7 billion for 90MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum, FarEasTone, which committed $40.6 billion for 80MHz, and Taiwan Mobile, which will pay NT$30.45 billion for 60MHz.
Table 1: Current Bids in Taiwan’s 5G Auction
|Chungwha Telecom||FarEasTone||Taiwan Mobile||Taiwan Star||Asia-Pacific Telecom|
|3.5GHz||90MHz; NT$45.67B||80MHz; NT$40.6B||60MHz; NT$30.45B||40MHz; NT$19.71M||N/A|
|28GHz||600MHz; NT$618M||400MHz; NT$412M||200MHz; NT$206M||N/A||400MHz; NT$412M|
|Source: NCC Units.|
Local credit agency Taiwan Ratings has warned that with debt loads already expected to rise to fund the 5G rollout, the unexpected high cost of spectrum is adding further pressure. It forecasts operators may “adopt a more conservative approach to infrastructure deployment.”
Investors aren’t too thrilled, either. Since the auction began a month ago, they’ve marked Taiwan Mobile down 4.4% and FarEasTone 2.1%. Chunghwa’s stock is unchanged.
Chunghwa Telecom, the part state-owned giant, has forecast annual 5G investment of up to NT$9-10 billion ($300-334 million), with total cost expected to significantly overtake its total NT$60 billion investment in 4G.
The official Central News Agency reported that telco execs have said privately that, because the sum raised far exceeds the government’s anticipated revenue take, they expect relief measures in the form of tax cuts, incentives, basestation subsidies or other measures.
So far none of these has materialized, but NCC Acting Chairman Chen Yaw-shyang says the government can introduce “administrative measures” to ensure consumers enjoy access to “high-quality and affordable” 5G.
He said the Taiwan cabinet would hold an interdepartmental meeting to discuss distribution of the auction proceeds, including investment in upgrading telecom infrastructure, Taipei Times reported.
The Taiwan Telecommunications Industry Development Association (TTIDA) has also called for 5G to be exempt from spectrum usage charges and for a delay on the issue of spectrum for private network services. (See Taiwan’s Telcos Seek Govt. Help as 5G Auction Blows Out.)
1. Samsung Acquires Network Services Provider TeleWorld Solutions to Accelerate U.S. 5G Network Expansion
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. today announced the completion of an agreement to acquire TeleWorld Solutions (TWS), a network services provider headquartered in Chantilly, VA.
TWS provides network design, testing and optimization services to mobile service and cable operators, equipment OEMs and other companies across the U.S. With network builds associated with 5G and 4G LTE enhancements advancing in the U.S, the acquisition will address the need for end-to-end support in delivering network solutions.
TWS, a privately owned company, will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Samsung Electronics America, Inc. The service offerings and customers of TWS complement Samsung’s growth among networks infrastructure clients. With competencies in radio frequency (RF) and network design service—as well as installation, testing, and optimization services—TWS will continue to serve its existing customers and clients they currently support with Samsung. The TWS leadership team will continue to manage the business and, together with Samsung, address the network upgrade cycle occurring in the US.
With a growing position in the US networks industry, along with its 5G technology leadership, Samsung Networks has collaborated with major U.S. network operators to fulfill 5G’s network expansion. As its growth continues through network operator agreements and enterprises seeking their own cellular networks, the combination of Samsung and TWS will help customers address next-generation demands.
2. SK Telecom Joins Forces with Bridge Alliance Members for Cooperation in 5G MEC
SK Telecom today announced the launch of the ‘Global MEC Task Force’ with Bridge Alliance member operators, including Singtel, Globe, Taiwan Mobile and PCCW Global, for cooperation in 5G mobile edge computing (MEC).
SK Telecom will share its lessons-learned in 5G and MEC areas with other members that are preparing to launch 5G, while making joint efforts for the development of MEC technologies and services. The company will also play a leading role in setting international MEC standards to build an interoperable MEC platform.
MEC is being highlighted as a key technology that can improve the performance of ultra-low latency services such as cloud gaming, smart factory and autonomous driving by creating a shortcut for mobile data communications.
Through the task force, SK Telecom expects to lead the expansion of the 5G MEC ecosystem to the Asian countries, and develop valuable overseas market opportunities for its 5G technologies/services including MEC.
As the first chair of the task force, SK Telecom will be hosting the first MEC workshop with Bridge Alliance from January 13 to 15 at its headquarters located in Seoul, Korea. The workshop will identify potential regional MEC-based use cases, and discuss business models and commercialization plans.
The company will introduce its 5G strategies, 5G MEC-based use cases including smart factory, and 5G clusters including ‘LoL Park.’
“As the global 5G pioneer, SK Telecom is committed to contribute to the expansion of the global 5G ecosystem,” said Lee Kang-won, Vice President and Head of Cloud Labs of SK Telecom. “SK Telecom will work closely with Bridge Alliance Member Operators to help accelerate their progress in 5G and MEC, and create a pan-Asian 5G MEC ecosystem.”
“As the role of telecommunications companies is expanding beyond simply providing mobile connectivity to offering new values based on infrastructure, Bridge Alliance believes that this cooperation will serve as a key driver for realizing win-win business opportunities to all members,” said Ong Geok Chwee, CEO of Bridge Alliance.Photo: (from left) Ha Min-yong, VP and Head of Global Alliance Group, SK Telecom, Ong Geok Chwee, CEO of Bridge Alliance, and Lee Kang-won, VP and Head of Cloud Labs, SK Telecom.
Here’s what AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon said about their 5G network rollouts, soon-to-be available devices, and Smart City plans at CES 2020:
AT&T on 5G Devices, Network Plans:
Carrier and media goliath AT&T talked about 5G devices at this year’s CES event in Las Vegas, NV. Currently, AT&T only sells one 5G-capable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, but AT&T plans to have 15 5G phones available for use on its low-band 5G spectrum during 2020 (see Comment in the box below this article). The Dallas-based service provider said that other mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and hotspots will also be available this year, but no exact number of products were provided.
AT&T’s low-band 5G network went live in December 2019 and is currently available in parts of 19 cities. The carrier’s other 5G network that is built on millimeter-wave and is referred to as 5G Plus is live in parts of 35 cities. AT&T said that it plans to cover 200 million people with its 5G network by this summer.
Sprint IoT, Smart City Updates:
Wireless provider Sprint could merge with T-Mobile any day now, but the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier hasn’t slowed down in the meantime. Sprint took to CES to launch several new offerings and update the market on its IoT plans.
Sprint unveiled its Certainty network design model, which unites its entire business wireline portfolio, including its wireless, IoT, and security solutions. The carrier also launched IoT Factory 2.0, a dedicated platform that solution providers and businesses can use to build custom IoT solutions for small-to-mid sized businesses in the food service, healthcare and agriculture space.
Chris Brydon, Regional Vice President Sales, Sprint Business Northwest Region via LinkedIn:
We believe hashtagIoT has the power to improve people’s lives. Here’s a story illustrating how an IoT application can be so much more than just a cold, lifeless piece of tech. Watch the very human difference it makes in the lives of a man and his family. https://lnkd.in/gdyeT9N hashtagWorksForBusiness
Sprint updated the market on its Smart City initiative on Tuesday. Specifically in Georgia, the provider said that in 2020 “micropositioning” technology, which combines next-generation wireless technologies and small cells will be installed within city infrastructure in areas to enable real-world navigation for autonomous machines, more connected sensors and IoT solution testing in its innovation Center for solutions such as refrigeration and monitoring, and security robots in Peachtree Corners’ Town Hall. Sprint also has plans to integrate additional Smart City technology in Greenville, South Carolina, and Arizona State University.
T-Mobile Talks 5G, Avoids Sprint Mega-Merger Talk:
T-Mobile didn’t address the main topic on everyone’s mind when thinking about the Magenta-colored carrier: its in-progress $26 billion mega-merger with wireless competitor Sprint. Instead, the “Un-Carrier” took to the show to highlight its 5G connectivity.
In a surprising move last month, the Bellevue, Wash.-based provider launched its nationwide 5G network using 600 MHz spectrum acquired in the recent incentive auction, as well as two 5G phones capable of using its 600 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile originally planned to launch the network in 2020.
Verizon 5G Devices and Ultra Wideband Availability:
AT&T’s biggest competitor, Verizon, also came to CES armed with 5G updates. Compared to AT&T’s 15 devices, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon vowed to have 20 5G-capable devices in 2020 and said these devices would be competitively priced anywhere between $600-$800. Currently, Verizon has four 5G-capable smartphones. Subscribers interested in 5G will have to pay an additional $10 on top of their current unlimited data plan, Verizon said, but the company didn’t name any specific device manufacturers.
Verizon’s ultra wideband 5G network is available in parts of 30 cities today, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, as well as Hoboken, N.J. Des Moines, Iowa; and Providence, RI. Please see Comment in the box below this article.
Mike Dano of Lightreading wrote that AT&T and Verizon made “vague (uncertain?) promises” for their 5G mmWave networks:
in a New Year-themed post, AT&T’s Scott Mair wrote that “you’re in for an exhilarating ride on the AT&T 5G network in 2020 and beyond,” but he did not offer any specifics about what the carrier will do with its “5G+” network. Then, during a subsequent appearance at an investor event this week, AT&T CFO John Stephens said only that the operator’s 5G network would “continue to improve and grow.”
Similarly, Verizon touted its “vision” for its network in 2020 in a release issued this week, but said only that customers should “expect more great innovations and technology advancements from us in 2020 including a more aggressive build out of our 5G network.” At that same investor event, Verizon’s Ronan Dunne said “we will be continuing to drive hard” in 5G, but didn’t offer any specifics.
The bottom line here is that neither operator is offering any concrete information on the number of cities, cell sites or customers it plans to touch with mmWave 5G in 2020. As Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown writes, it’s time for these operators to show their hands.
From a marketwatch.com article titled: The long-promised ‘Year of 5G’ arrives with more promises and little 5G
For years, telecommunications companies and gadget makers have invaded CES to talk about how big 5G was going to be in 2020.
At CES 2020 though the promise was still unfulfilled as the faster wireless service is still spotty and not entirely what was envisioned.
Without the premier connections that were promised, it is questionable how many consumers will buy the more expensive 5G-enabled devices that were introduced at the giant trade show this year, even though the same glowing predictions of a new future were readily available throughout Las Vegas.
5G promises faster data speeds, a reduction in lag time, and greater density for smart devices, all things that could eventually be catalysts for futuristic applications like autonomous driving and connected cities. More immediately, carriers are focused on exposing businesses and customers to those faster data speeds, where and when they can.
Verizon Communications Inc. expects to launch 20 devices with access to 5G by the end of the year, up from the seven that currently exist, according to Tami Erwin, who heads the company’s business group. AT&T Inc. mobility executive Kevin Petersen told MarketWatch at CES that accessibility will also be a key theme in the year ahead.
T-Mobile US claimed that it conducted a nationwide 5G rollout at the end of last year, providing access over a greater area but at slower data speeds than competitors. Verizon and AT&T both plan to add new cities to their coverage later this year, with AT&T still expecting to have nationwide coverage this year also.
Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, cautions that these upgrades won’t happen right away due to some technical aspects of the 5G rollout. The more exciting type of 5G, millimeter-wave spectrum, primarily works outdoors and on campuses where it’s been specifically deployed. Sub-6 5G service works indoors and offers some benefits in speed and latency, but it’s a less dramatic step up from the 4G service consumers have come to know.
“The pieces are coming together but the forward-looking benefits are still a few years off,” O’Donnell said. Part of the issue is that 5G currently runs on top of 4G, rather than in a stand alone manner. Moving to stand alone 5G requires that carriers “refarm” spectrum frequencies from 4G to 5G, but they’re hesitant to make that big leap right away while most customers are still using 4G connections and while few phones support 5G.
“That’s like opening a 10-lane highway only for people with electric cars,” he said, since only a small minority of drivers would have access.
Making 5G a reality is a bit of a “chicken and egg” scenario, according to O’Donnell, given that carriers thinking about moving away from 4G want there to be enough devices in the market to take advantage of the new wireless standard, and consumers want to make sure 5G networks are broad enough before investing in a mobile device that works on the network.
The device part of the equation showed signs of progress at CES, with connected PCs being one notable category. Lenovo Group Ltd. announced it will launch in the spring the Yoga 5G two-in-one device, which it says is the first 5G PC. Always-connected PCs let customers rely on cellular connectivity rather than hunt for WiFi networks, and the 5G products shown by Lenovo, HP Inc. HPQ, and others offer faster speeds than 4G ones currently on the market.
Those devices are more expensive than competitive gadgets without access to the technology, though, and that will most likely continue to be the case. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will be holding a smartphone launch in early February, where the company is expected to introduce a family of 5G Galaxy devices, and Apple is thought to be planning a 5G iPhone rollout later this year, with analysts expecting the 5G versions of those popular smartphones to carry a higher price tag.
Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal expects “a large increase” in 5G unit sales for 2020, up from a small base of sales last year, but he thinks most of these sales will come at the expense of 4G devices, rather than a rush of upgrades. He estimates that 5G could boost a phone’s retail price by at least $75.
Today’s devices tend to be in the $1,000-plus range, but consumers should “start to see prices coming down, which ultimately helps the adoption curve,” as more mid-tier devices come to market this year equipped with 5G capabilities. Verizon’s consumer chief executive Ronan Dunne said at a Citi investor conference earlier this week that there could be 5G devices priced below $600 by the end of the year.
AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told investors at the Citi conference that trying to predict 5G unit sales is missing the point a bit, since handset sales are “not a profitable enterprise for a business like ours.” The company sees various new service revenue opportunities from being able to compete “in the geographies where our service has gotten much better.”
The promise of 5G goes well beyond smartphones, and executives pointed out that the services that have developed in the past decade likely wouldn’t have existed without the move to 4G.
“If someone was watching a streaming video on a connection 10 years ago, you would’ve swatted the phone out of their hand and said they were going to use up the whole monthly data plan in 13 seconds,” Qualcomm’s vice president of engineering John Smee told MarketWatch. Now, streaming over wireless is commonplace. Verizon’s Erwin noted that the proliferation of ride hailing also wouldn’t have been possible without the upgrade in data speeds.
AT&T’s Petersen thinks it’s too soon to know what the killer use case for 5G will be, but he’s upbeat about its ability to provide upgraded experiences in gaming, translation and medicine. A reduction in latency, or lag time, could create better responsiveness for gamers and reduce awkward pauses when people are using mobile devices to translate from one language to another in real time. Doctors could more easily monitor patients remotely after procedures by using connected devices.
Over time, the expected benefits of 5G and the growth of accessible smart devices could change the way consumers and workers think about doing data-heavy tasks. Smee even suggested that it could replace the need for Wi-Fi for most users.
“If you think of your cable modem or your DSL and you look at the rates you get compared to the 5G data rate, all of a sudden wireless is the preferred medium and that’s a big game changer versus the idea that you have to have wired connectivity to have high data rates,” he said.
Nokia has reached 63 commercial 5G contracts worldwide, positioning it as a global leader in the delivery of end-to-end 5G solutions. The 5G customer list includes AT&T, KDDI, Korea Telecom, LG Uplus, NTT Docomo, O2, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Sprint, STC, T-Mobile US, Verizon, Vodafone Italy and Zain Saudi Arabia. Nokia said it expects to add “many more new deals” this year. The 63 signed commercial contracts exclude any other type of 5G agreements, such as paid network trials, pilots or demonstrations. If such agreements were to be included, the total number of 5G agreements would reach over 100, Nokia said. The group counts more than 350 customers for 4G-LTE.
The company noted that its equipment has been selected by many of the early 5G adopters. It’s working with all four nationwide operators in the US, all three operators in South Korea and all three nationwide operators in Japan. The early start should provide it with extra expertise to assist the next wave of operators launching 5G.
“This milestone highlights the quality and customer confidence in our 5G portfolio and we expect this to continue this year with the addition of many more new deals,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “Our global end-to-end portfolio includes products and services for every part of a network, which are helping network operators to enable key 5G capabilities such as network slicing, distributed cloud and the industrial Internet of Things. We are delighted that our technologies are helping to shape the delivery and deployment of 5G technologies worldwide and the myriad benefits these will bring to businesses and consumers alike.”
The 63 signed commercial contracts exclude any other type of 5G agreements, such as paid network trials, pilots or demonstrations. If such agreements were to be included, the total number of 5G agreements would reach over 100. Nokia is also a vendor of choice for almost all of the leading early adopter 5G markets.
“Nokia is the only network supplier whose 5G technology has been contracted by all four nationwide operators in the US, all three operators in South Korea and all three nationwide operators in Japan”, Uitto said. “We have more than 350 customers in 4G, but these first 63 customers represent some two thirds of our global Radio Access Networks business in a typical year. Further, these 63 contracts – across the most important pioneering markets, across low bands, middle bands and high bands, and across traditional and cloud network architectures – provide us with invaluable early experiences and insights for the benefit of the rest of the world. So, it is a great start”, he continued.
Nokia claims to be the only vendor with a globally available end-to-end product portfolio that covers all 5G network elements, including radio, core, cloud and transport as well as management, automation and security. This offers operators and enterprise customers with a simple and efficient step-wise upgrade to existing radio access, core and transport domains which helps customers to a faster path to 5G. Approximately 60% of Nokia’s 5G customers select more than just New Radio from its end-to-end portfolio.
Nokia also declared more than 2 000 5G patent families as essential for 5G, a year after making its first declarations for the 3GPP Release 15 specification. Nokia continues to contribute to 3GPP Release 16 as well as participate in ITU-R WP 5D where IMT 2020 radio aspects are being standardized.
We create the technology to connect the world. We develop and deliver the industry’s only end-to-end portfolio of network equipment, software, services and licensing that is available globally. Our customers include communications service providers whose combined networks support 6.1 billion subscriptions, as well as enterprises in the private and public sector that use our network portfolio to increase productivity and enrich lives.
Through our research teams, including the world-renowned Nokia Bell Labs, we are leading the world to adopt end-to-end 5G networks that are faster, more secure and capable of revolutionizing lives, economies and societies. Nokia adheres to the highest ethical business standards as we create technology with social purpose, quality and integrity. www.nokia.com
Phone: +358 10 448 4900
Investor’s Business Daily reports that Goldman Sachs‘ Rod Hall and Bank of America‘s Tal Liani issued separate notes Tuesday and Wednesday which came to the same conclusion: Despite the ultra hyped 5G buildup, they see overall telecom capital spending remaining soft in 2020.
Hall said, “Telco capital spending trends look set to be muted with China being the only driver of growth,” in his note, issued Tuesday. He sees 5G growth in China of 25% this year, but predicts only a 2% hike in global telecom capital spending.
Hall added: “The carrier environment is challenged globally by flat or declining revenue streams with 5G thus far offering limited or no additional revenue opportunities.”
BofA’s Liani concurred in his Wednesday note. He sees global telecom capital spending up only 1% to 2% in 2020, despite 5G network build-outs. The 5G build-out may fail to impress U.S. wireless customers over the next 12 months, he adds. “Contrary to the belief that the U.S. is an early leader with 5G, we see potential for users to be disappointed with either lack of coverage or lack of improvement, or both,” Liani said. Here is an excerpt of his January 8, 2020 note to clients:
5G becomes mainstream, but the U.S. will likely lag:
5G traction remains front and center for 2020, and we expect the first phase of a major smartphone refresh cycle in 2H20, with all major vendors launching 5G devices. In 2019, we saw initial network build-outs, and we expect the device/semiconductor ecosystem to catch up in 2020, supporting and enabling ubiquitous 5G devices. However, some regions may lag behind, particularly the US where a lack of quality 5G spectrum injects delays vs. certain parts of Europe, China, Korea and Japan where mid-band spectrum is more readily available. Our top pick related to this theme is Qualcomm as the semi provider benefits from 5G devices and the China launch.
Verizon Communications and AT&T likely will lower spending on existing fourth-generation networks, says Goldman Sachs’ Hall. They’ll also pare back spending on wireline networks. “Although U.S. 5G deployments should advance in 2020 our U.S. telecom team expects wireless capex to be roughly flat in 2020 as 5G increases are mostly offset by slowing non-5G spending,” Hall said.
Makers of electronic chips, network gear and fiber-optic technologies should gain from the 5G build-out, analysts say. Other5G stocks to watch will be tied to the deployment of “small cell” antennas, radio access network equipment as well as cloud computing infrastructure. Goldman Sachs favors fiber-optic play Corning. It’s cautious on gear makers Nokia and Ericsson.
Liani said Apple’s expected launch of 5G iPhones in late 2020 could be a game-changer. However, he says consumers may be disappointed in the 5G network coverage and 5G speeds provided by Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile US and Sprint. That’s because not enough mid-band radio spectrum is available yet for 5G services, Liani said.
In 2020, we see potential for mass device availability to usher in the first meaningful device upgrade cycle for 5G,” Liani added. “In 2021 and 2022, we expect the network equipment investments to potentially pick up once again as 5G usage accelerates and new applications emerge. Most importantly, however, spectrum availability drives both network upgrades and likely customer satisfaction with the new 5G networks.
Let’s close with an interesting graph from Dell’Oro Group which shows very little growth in telecom equipment/services through 2023:
Addendum: BoAML – Hardware vendors bow to the white box:
Hardware standardization and white box networking continue and drive changes in IT equipment purchasing behavior. Hardware vendors are increasingly being forced to react to three major realities:
1) public cloud capex represents the majority of growth and some companies (e.g. Cisco) find it hard to penetrate,
2) software is taking the forefront, with vendors of traditional networking gear, like ADC, switching, or routing, facing significant pricing pressure and a new breed of competitors, and
3) the value is also pushed to semiconductors, with Cisco’s SiliconOne semiconductor strategy and the proposed acquisition of Acacia designed to address the associated risk and opportunity
Lastly, the trends of software-defined networking, white boxes, and cloud migration come together to support our fifth major trend for 2020: the shift to software-defined branch/campus offices. In our view, this trend began with SD-WAN, continued with Cisco’s Catalyst 9k introduction, and comes fully together with the acceleration of WiFi 6.
by Stephanie Baghdassarian with Comments by Alan J Weissberger
The advent of 5G will bring opportunities for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) to renew their commercial approach to end users. Whether they propose new services or repackage existing ones, CSPs should focus on simplicity and flexibility to make the most of their offerings.
CSPs should differentiate their 5G services by selecting and combining pricing approaches that fit with their customer base but not limit themselves to pricing as a tool to promote 5G.
AJW Comment: This Gartner report is only available by subscription. However, we think it is very premature as “5G” networks continue to be deployed well before the IMT 2020 set of standards is completed ( IMT 2020.specs for RIT/SRIT won’t be completed till end of Nov 2020 at the earliest). Hence, CSPs really don’t have any foundation to charge for 5G services till at least 2021.
From the ITU 5G Backgrounder webpage:
IMT-2020, the name used in ITU for the standards of 5G, is expected to continue to be developed from 2020 onwards, with 5G trials and pre-commercial activities already underway to assist in evaluating the candidate technologies and frequency bands that may be used for this purpose. The first full-scale commercial deployments for 5G are expected sometime after IMT-2020 specifications are finalized.
Furthermore, spectrum is a scarce and very valuable resource, and there is intense – and intensifying – competition for spectrum at the national, regional and international levels. As the radio spectrum is divided into frequency bands allocated to different radiocommunication services, each band may be used only by services that can coexist with each other without creating harmful interference to adjacent services.
ITU-R studies examine the sharing and compatibility of mobile services with a number of other existing radiocommunication services, notably for satellite communications, weather forecasting, monitoring of Earth resources and climate change and radio astronomy.
National and international regulations need to be adopted and applied globally to avoid interference between 5G and these services and to create a viable mobile ecosystem for the future — while reducing prices through the global market’s economies of scale and enabling interoperability and roaming.
That’s why it was important for the additional spectrum to be used by 5G to be identified and harmonized at global and regional levels. For similar reasons, the radio technologies used in 5G devices need to be supported by globally harmonized standards.
India’s telecom minister has met with the major mobile network operators and invited them to start testing their 5G services. The government also confirmed that Chinese network infrastructure equipment vendors Huawei and ZTE would be allowed to participate in the trials.
The meeting was chaired by telecom secretary Anshu Prakash and was attended by senior representatives of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea, Reliance Jio and all equipment vendors, including Huawei, reports Live Mint. Indian television channel CNBC-TV18 reported the news first, citing a senior official. The trials will be held in January, according to the official, the channel reported.
India’s department of telecom expects to allocate spectrum soon (we’ve heard that before?) for trials, which should begin in Q1-2020, ahead of plans for a spectrum auction no later than April 2020.
India Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said earlier that 5G spectrum for trials would be available to all wireless network equipment (base station) vendors. In particular, he told reporters in India earlier this week:
“5G trials will be done with all vendors and operators. We have taken an in-principle decision to give 5G spectrum for trials.” On being asked specifically about Huawei, Prasad said that at this stage, all vendors are invited.
India Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad
The Indian government believes the trials, which were originally supposed to be held in 2019, will help in the development of the country’s 5G ecosystem. The Indian telcos will be conducting 5G tests with different vendors: Bharti Airtel plans to conduct trials with Nokia, Huawei and Ericsson, while Vodafone Idea wants to partner with Ericsson and Huawei. Reliance Jio, which currently works primarily with Samsung, has applied to conduct 5G tests with the South Korean vendor.
A senior executive at one vendor said the trials should have begun a year ago and now that global testing is over, it does not make sense to start from scratch in India, especially with the auction of 5G airwaves slated for March-April.
India’s telcos have been asking for clarity from the government regarding the participation of both Chinese vendors in 5G activities. Initially only a handful of vendors, including Cisco, Ericsson, NEC, Nokia and Samsung, received invitations to participate in the 5G trials.
The decision was welcomed by Huawei India in a statement, as well as comments from the Chinese ambassador in India on Twitter. Huawei is already active in the country, where it has deployed 4G networks for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea.
The inclusion in India’s 5G trials is of particular significance for Huawei, which faces trading restrictions in several countries, including Australia, New Zealand and the US, because of security concerns. The US has been lobbying the Indian government to exclude Huawei from the 5G market but, equally, China has been lobbying for Huawei and ZTE to be given equal opportunities in India’s 5G market.
The efforts of the US authorities to restrict Huawei’s business had an impact on the vendor’s sales in 2019, though with expected full-year revenues of almost $122 billion it is still by far the largest supplier of telecoms infrastructure globally and the number two player in the smartphone market.
During the past few years, Chinese vendors have provided crucial support to India’s service providers as they attempted to manage their costs and keep tariffs under control. Chinese network equipment is cheaper than the equivalent offerings from Western rivals, enabling traditional telcos to offer services in a market with one of the lowest average revenue per user (ARPU) figures in the world.
The exclusion of Huawei and ZTE from forthcoming 5G deals would almost certainly result in an increase in capital expenditure by India’s telcos: Sunil Bharti Mittal, the chairman of Bharti Enterprises, the parent company of Airtel, spoke out in support of Huawei during a recent event organized by World Economic Forum, stating that Huawei’s equipment was superior to that of its main European rivals, Ericsson and Nokia.
“Glad to know all players got equal chance to participate in 5G trial in India. A welcome move conducive to initiatives like Digital India,” said Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong in a social media message.
The Nikkei Asian Review reported on Friday that China will soon be completing its Beidou satellite-based positioning system as it moves to reduce its reliance on America’s GPS in both in telecommunications and for its military. The final two satellites for its Beidou satellite-based positioning system will be launched by June 2020, completing the 35-satellite network, Ran Chengqi, spokesperson for the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, told reporters in Beijing.
From modern farming to smart ports to a text messaging service, China is trying to build an ecosystem independent of the GPS and open it to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. This effort pushes decoupling between Washington and Beijing, which are poised to enter year three of a trade war, to the final frontier of space.
Over 70% of Chinese smartphones are equipped to tap into Beidou’s positioning services, Ran said. The system also plays a role in fifth-generation wireless communications (5G), an area where China’s Huawei Technologies is in the vanguard of technological development.
“The integration of Beidou and 5G is an important sign on the path toward China’s development of information technology,” Ran said. “As a major space infrastructure for China to provide public services to the world, the Beidou system will always adhere to the development concept of ‘China’s Beidou, the world’s Beidou, and the first-class Beidou,’ serving the world and benefiting mankind,” he added.
China’s goal for Beidou is to rely less on the US for both its telecommunications and its military and to build an ecosystem independent of the GPS that would be open to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.
Beidou was named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation. Beidou said its services will be enhanced by the end of next year. For example, the level of positioning accuracy will improve from within 5 meters to within centimeters, an advance that will aid search-and-rescue missions and also prove crucial for self-driving vehicles. Both Beidou and 5G will be employed by self-driving buses set to begin operation soon in the city of Wuhan. Beidou will also differentiate itself from GPS by supporting communication through its constellation of satellites.
China has launched 53 Beidou satellites since 2000, including those no longer in operation. The navigational system began worldwide services in late 2018. Beidou started offering positioning services to private-sector companies in late 2011.
The economic scale of services and production of goods tied to Beidou will grow to 400 billion yuan ($57 billion) in 2020, according to Chinese media.
Beijing aims to expand the system worldwide. China and Russia have allied on satellite positioning. Chinese officials are also pouring resources into collaborating with global organizations representing the airline industry and other sectors.
Space is one of the priority areas of Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan for boosting self-reliance in vital technologies. By 2030, China aims to become a “space power” alongside the US and Russia. The launch of a Martian probe is set for as early as next year, followed by the completion of a Chinese space station around 2022.
Most mobile 5G deployments to date are based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G NR” in the data plane and Non Stand Alone (NSA), with LTE for everything else (i.e. control plane/signalling, mobile packet core, network management, etc). 3GPP Release 16 will hopefully add ultra low latency, ultra high reliability to the 5G NR data plane. Equally important will be the 5G systems architecture-phase 2 that will be specified in Release 16. That spec includes a 5G mobile packet core (5GC) which is a forklift upgrade from the 4G-LTE Evolved Packet Core (EPC). It remains to be seen which ITU study group will standardized 5GC when 3GPP Release 16 is completed in late June 2020
From Gartner report published Dec 16, 2019:
As communications service providers move forward with 5G commercialization, New Radio infrastructure investment is prioritized and crucial for 5G rollout success. We analyze the market direction and the product strategies of equipment vendors to help guide product managers in CSPs.
By 2021, investments in 5G NR network infrastructure will account for 19% of the total wireless infrastructure revenue of communications service providers (CSPs), elevated from 6% in 2019.
Support for new subcarrier spacing
Massive multiple input/multiple output (MIMO)/beamforming
Enhanced scheduling by hybrid automatic repeat request (HARQ)
Cyclic-prefix orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (CP-OFDM) and discrete fourier transform spread orthogonal frequency-division multiple access (DFTS-OFDM)
Bandwidth part (BWP) and carrier aggregation (CA)
New Radio spectrum
Optimized orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing (OFDM)
Unified design across frequencies
The deployment of 5G New Radio (NR) products will accelerate in 2020, through high total cost of ownership (TCO), absence of “killer application,” unmatured millimeter wave ecosystem and inexpensive device availability that prevent rapid growth in capital investment.
Most of current commercial 5G sub-6 gigahertz (GHz) communications service providers (CSPs) also start building their multiband strategy which is in line with their business strategy; for example, sub-1GHz for coverage enhancement and millimeter wave for capacity.
Initial 5G deployment was based on non-stand-alone (NSA) architecture which couples the Long Term Evolution (LTE) with 5G NR radio layers to accelerate time to market and reduce cost. This coexistence will last for many years, though specific CSPs may move toward stand-alone (SA) deployment as early as 2020.
Open radio access network (RAN) and virtualized RAN (vRAN) have seen an increase in attention after Rakuten Mobile announced its commercial adoption in LTE. However, fragmented standards, incumbent vendor support, technology immaturity and poor fiber availability continue to hamper its success.
Baseband unit capacity
Recommendations for 5G Communications Service Providers (CSPs):
Build a step-wise 5G NR implementation strategy by initially focusing on best use of existing infrastructure investment, then simplifying the deployment in order to reduce the time to market and minimize risk.
Develop spectrum strategies based on business focus, frequencies available as well as ecosystem maturity. Choose the vendors that have preferred radio spectrum support with combinations of spectrum reframing and sharing.
Select the 5G NR solution by accessing a vendor’s capabilities of interworking with existing 4G/LTE networks and its ability to provide a high degree of continuity and seamless experience for users. In addition, explore a seamless software upgrade path to enable 5G SA evolution.
Build an end-to-end understanding of the Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) impact on network, operations, performance and procurement by conducting a proof of concept (POC)/pilot.
Acronym Key and Glossary Terms
Third Generation Partnership Project
Active Antenna Unit
application-specific integrated circuit
cloud radio access network
Citizens Broadband Radio Service
cyclic-prefix orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
customer premises equipment
communications service provider
Digital/Analog Front End
discrete fourier transform spread orthogonal frequency-division multiple access
digital indoor system
enhanced Common Public Radio Interface
enhanced mobile broadband
Evolved Packet Core
frequency division duplex
fixed wireless access
gigabits per second
Next Generation Node B
hybrid automatic repeat request
infrastructure and operations
instantaneous bandwidth (ZTE)
information and communication technology
International Mobile Telecommunications-2020
Internet of Things
International Telecommunication Union Radiocommunication Sector
Licensed Assisted Access
Long Term Evolution
Multiple Input/Multiple Output Adaptive Antenna
multiple input/multiple output
Massive Machine Type Communications
millimeter wave (frequencies above 24GHz)
multioperator core network
multicarrier radio access network
Multi-Operator Servers (Mavenir)
network function virtualization
Open Radio Access Network
original equipment manufacturer
orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing
proof of concept
physical resource blocks
quadrature amplitude modulation
research and development
radio access network
Radio Access Technology
RAN Intelligent Controller (Nokia)
Radio Frequency Integrated Circuit
remote radio unit
Low-band frequencies are those at 600MHz, 800MHz, and 900MHz.
Frequencies under 6GHz but above the low-band frequencies (2.5GHz, 3.5GHz, and 3.7GHz to 4.2GHz).
total cost of ownership
Time Division-Long Term Evolution
time division duplex
Ultra Broadband RRU (ZTE)
ultrareliable and low-latency communications
virtualized radio access network
Work Group 2
Work Group 3
CSP and vendor briefings, plus discussions
Associated Gartner research
Gartner market forecasts
Gartner client discussions
References- related Gartner posts: