According to a new report, “Quantifying the mmWave 5G experience in the US — July update“ by OpenSignal, the average U.S. mobile user connects to a 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) network less than 1% of the time. The difference between AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile’s 5G mmWave network access is miniscule with Verizon customers at 0.7% of the time, AT&T’s at 0.4% of the time, and T-Mobile’s at 0.2% of the time. OpenSignal’s latest mmWave 5G report features data collected from March to June, 2021. The network monitoring company obtained its data from software installed in more than 100 million smartphones around the world, which send back anonymized usage data to OpenSignal on a daily basis.
Regarding 5G mmWave network speeds, T-Mobile users experienced the fastest average 5G mmWave network download speeds of 618.4 Mbps with Verizon, which was nearly twice as fast as users’ average experience on T-Mobile, and more than two and a half times faster than what our users experienced on AT&T. Verizon users continue to experience the fastest average 5G mmWave download speed which Opensignal has seen to date. Users’ average download speed on AT&T’s 5G mmWave was 245 Mbps, while we recorded an average 5G mmWave download speed of 312 Mbps on T-Mobile. AT&T and T-Mobile’s scores were statistically tied.
T-Mobile users experienced the fastest average 5G upload speeds on 5G mmWave networks with a score of 39.9 Mbps, which was 29.7-33.1% faster than what was observed on both AT&T and Verizon. Average upload speeds for AT&T and Verizon’s mmWave 5G services were 30 Mbps and 30.8 Mbps, respectively.
5G technology promised to support high-speed mobile operations in the mmWave spectrum bands, thus allowing operators to raise their peak network speeds from around 100Mbit/s to above 1Gbit/s. However, distance is extremely limited and line of sight connectivity is required. Transmissions in mmWave spectrum can’t travel more than a few thousand feet, and usually cannot penetrate through glass or trees. So many small cells close to the 5G mmWave user are needed which are often difficult to get permits for and install on public property (like street lights, lamps, rooftops, etc).
In contrast, wireless transmissions in traditional, lowband cellular spectrum bands, such as 800MHz or 1900MHz, can often travel miles and reach deep inside homes or office buildings.
Furthermore, ITU-R WP 5D has not agreed on the revisions of ITU-R M.1036 Frequency Arrangements for terrestrial IMT which MUST include (but do not now) the mmWave bands approved at WRC 19. Therefore, there is no standard for exactly what 5G mmWave frequencies should be used along with their duplexing and other arrangements.
In a companion report on 5G User Experiences, OpenSignal found that T-Mobile doubled its lead in the 5G Download Speed category. T-Mobile users saw average 5G Download Speeds of 87.5 Mbps, ahead of our users on AT&T and Verizon which both scored 52.3 Mbps. Our T-Mobile users’ average 5G Download Speed has increased by an impressive 16.3 Mbps compared to our April 5G report, and 29.4 Mbps compared to our January 5G report. By comparison, our users on AT&T saw their average 5G Download Speeds reduce by 2.7 Mbps since our last report, while our users on Verizon experienced a 4.5 Mbps improvement.
T-Mobile won the 5G Upload Speed award with a score of 15.1 Mbps, which is statistically unchanged compared to our previous report. Verizon places second showing an improvement of 1.2 Mbps and reaching 14.2 Mbps, while AT&T follows behind with 8.8 Mbps — a 1.2 Mbps decline since our April 2021 5G report.
AT&T and Verizon shared the award for 5G Video Experience, scoring 61.3 points and 61.2 points, respectively. AT&T claimed the award in April 2021, while Verizon was the sole winner in January 2021. T-Mobile has placed third across all 5G Video Experience awards, this time scoring 54.8 points. Video Experience quantifies the quality of video streamed to mobile devices by measuring real-world video streams over carriers’ networks.
Finally, Verizon won the 5G Voice App Experience award scoring 83.3 points and moving past AT&T, which was the previous winner. Verizon has improved its score by 0.7 points since our previous report, while we have observed 0.6-0.8 points declines on both AT&T and T-Mobile. All three mobile operators place in the Good category (80-87 points). Voice App Experience measures the quality of experience real-time communications using over-the-top (OTT) voice apps. Examples of these types of apps include WhatsApp, Skype and Facebook Messenger.
IDTechEx has recently released “5G Small Cells 2021-2031: Technologies, Markets, Forecast,” a market research and business intelligence report exploring the key technical and industry factors that are shaping the fast-growing small cell market. The report forecasts that the overall number of 5G small cells will reach 45 million by 2031.
One of the challenges of mmWave (24–48 GHz) based 5G is signal attenuation (Another is the requirement for line of sight communications). That results in the signal propagation distance being much shorter compared to use of other frequencies in cellular networks such as 3G and 4G. Small cells are proposed to address this big challenge.
Deploying many small cells will also improve aggregate 5G bandwidth in dense urban area through frequency re-use. Creating an ultra-dense cellular network by deploying more small cells plays a key role in 5G as it allows it to complement the macro cell network and therefore boosts data capacity.
Small cells can be categorized into three types: femtocells, picocells, and microcells, depending on their output power. Because of their smaller size compared to macro base stations, the material choices and the overall technology trend will be different from their macro infrastructure counterparts.
As of mid-2021, the majority of the 5G commercial rollouts are still focused on enhanced mobile broadband. 5G network operators have mostly installed 5G macro base stations to provide networks with high capacity for consumers using mobile devices. However, the new use cases such as industrial IoT 4.0, cellular vehicle to everything (C-V2X), new entertainment experiences, and smart cities, are where the real innovations are occurring and the huge market potential lies. 5G small cells will play an essential role in supporting those industries to become fully digitalized and the potential realized.
IDTechEx’s analysis considers how the following variables evolve during the forecast period: the development and adoption rate of sub-6 GHz and mmWave in the world’s five regions, the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) for broadband and critical applications, 5G rollout potentials for enterprises, urban, and rural & remote purposes, and the utilization rate of different types of small cells for each scenario.
- 5G small cells vendor landscape analysis
- Supply chain and technology analysis on Radiofrequency (RF) components such as power amplifier and filters for 5G small cells
- Choices of semiconductors for 5G small cells
- Antenna-integrated package (AiP) solutions
- EMI shielding
- Thermal management for 5G small cells
The report offers insights into the global 5G small cells market for:
- Companies that supply materials and components for 5G small cells
- Companies that develop 5G small cells
- Companies that invest in the 5G infrastructures
- Companies that plan to step into 5G small cell business
- Companies that develop digital solutions for industries
Separately, the Small Cell Forum’s market forecast is claimed to be the industry’s most comprehensive analysis of small cell deployments globally from now until 2026. The most important input to the forecast is a survey of the deployers of small cells, including 84 MNOs (Mobile Network Operators) and 33 other service providers such as private network operators and neutral hosts.
Key findings from the 2021 report include:
- There is a rising number of industrial applications that require full 5G capabilities such as high availability, and these will accelerate adoption of 5G small cells, with a CAGR of 77% in 2019-2026.
- Access to a wider variety of spectrum, with more flexible licensing, will be the most important enabler of enterprise small cell roll-out in the early 2020s. Deployments in shared spectrum will overtake those in licensed bands in 2025.
- As small cells need to address increasingly diverse requirements from different industries and use cases, flexible, cloud-based architectures will become essential. Two-thirds of deployers expect to adopt small cell vRAN by 2025.
- One driver of vRAN expansion will be open small cell architectures. These will account for 77% of new deployments in 2026. There will be strong support for SCF’s Split 6 in the enterprise and industrial environments, where it will adopted by 58% of deployers by 2024.
- The trend for rising diversity of small cell deployers and business models will intensify as enterprise demand grows, and by 2026, over three-quarters of enterprise small cells will be deployed and operated by private network operators or neutral hosts.
The world’s first mobile 5G networks were deployed two years ago and everyone in the industry is still searching, waiting for 5G to deliver on its promise. Stéphane Téral, chief analyst at LightCounting, said during a panel discussion at MWC Barcelona 2021:
Most of the 141 live 5G networks at the end of April 2021 were operating in 5g non-standalone (NSA) mode. “Don’t believe it means no strings attached. Actually it’s the contrary, those networks are 4G on steroids. They are anchored into LTE Advanced,” he said.
“We only have eight standalone (SA) networks in the world,” Téral added. “Those eight 5G networks are working purely with a 5G core, not attached anymore to a 4G core, so this is the 5G which we have to shoot for.”
Criticism of the current status of 5G hit another level when he and a group of analysts were pressed to explain why GSMA held multiple sessions on 6G during last week’s event. “We’re talking about 6G because we’re going to call 6G all the stuff we overpromised with 5G that we can deliver,” Téral said.
Peter Jarich, head of GSMA Intelligence, noted that marketing, international competitive interests, and the general buzzworthy-ness of 6G are all at play. Improvements in radio access network (RAN) energy efficiency, sustainability, security, and the use of new spectrum require long-term planning, he added.
“We need to start now to make sure that we can iron those things out so we don’t end up with Chinese 6G, and American 6G, and European 6G,” Jarich said. “We need to start early because as much as everyone is talking about this will be a 2030 phenomenon, that’s not true. We know there was 5G before 2020.”
Roland Montagne, principal analyst at IDATE DigiWorld, said it’s too early to discuss 6G in detail because 5G remains largely unfulfilled. 5G rollouts, spectrum auctions, and 3GPP standardization efforts are all delayed in the wake of the global pandemic, he said.
While almost every layer of 5G needs further development, many potential leaps in wireless technology remain unaddressed and are unlikely to impact 5G at scale, Téral explained.
5G Very Unimpressive So Far
“We need to deliver and remember 3G under delivered, 4G over delivered; 5G very unimpressed so far. Let’s not forget that 5G is the first G that we cannot identify with a new waveform. We’re still in the OFDM (orthogonal frequency-division multiplexing) domain,” he said, pinning the blame for that on geopolitics.
Massive multiple-input, multiple-output (MIMO) and polar codes are “the only new things we have in 5G,” he said. New waveforms “would have been fantastic candidates to actually really boost spectral efficiencies and cut the latency to one millisecond. So we still have a long way to go.”
Meanwhile, 5G network operators remain on the hunt for new revenue streams from 5G and haven’t yet cracked the code, the analysts noted.
5G Enterprise Opportunity Remains Unfulfilled
“We all know that one of the hopes for 5G was that it would help the telco industry move into the enterprise more,” Jarich said, adding that 83% of operator CEOs surveyed by GSMA Intelligence said they expected enterprises to be the revenue upside from 5G.
Camille Mendler, chief analyst at Omdia, said the network operator business model has changed from connectivity to a quality of experience and digital enablement for businesses. “In point of fact, I think that service providers have a lot of work to do,” she said. “Even when talking about a small enterprise or a very large enterprise, these are sophisticated digital buyers and telcos have needed to improve their engagement.”
The COVID-19 crisis “has actually made them think more concretely about investments that they need to make to deliver digital experiences from prospecting to buying to managing services, and there’s still frankly a lot of work to be done,” Mendler added.
Mobile edge computing remains a critical part of mobile network operator’s enterprise strategy, but there’s scant agreement about what the edge is, where it resides, and why enterprises need it.
‘Edge Is Everything and Anything to Everyone’
“Edge is everything and anything to everyone, so everyone has an edge story. It’s everywhere from in the public cloud, to in the device, to in the enterprise where it kind of just looks like a server. Depending on who you are, you can kind of call it everything,” Jarich said.
Téral, underlining his point about other unused technologies that could boost spectral efficiency and lower latencies, said “everybody’s talking about the edge, but no one has a clear definition about edge so that’s pretty shaky. That’s a problem.”
Enterprises want access to mobile edge computing insofar as the requirements they’re seeking in network performance and latency, Mendler explained. “They know what they want in terms of performance. They want five milliseconds, they want less. We need to adjust to a world of near-zero latency and that’s what’s going to drive value, and the dollars are there,” she said.
“There’s a lot of opportunity in enterprise, but I think many people misunderstand where the opportunity is. We’re not going to recoup investments on 5G if we’re thinking just about ports, or we’re just thinking about airlines, or we’re just thinking about transportation,” Mendler continued. “99% of the world’s businesses are small businesses, and until we solve the equation of how to sell 5G services to those small businesses, I think we need to be concerned about return on investment, profits, and growth.”
Security Challenges Threaten Enterprise Push
Operators have also thus far failed to address enterprise security requirements, threatening the scope of the 5G opportunity, she explained. Security was a rare topic of discussion throughout the event.
“If service providers want to do more for enterprises, they need to reduce risk, and one way to reduce risk is to provide a single view of the truth. And the reality is, amongst enterprises that buy multiple services from telcos, eight out of 10 do not have a single view of the truth,” Mendler said. “I know this sounds like a dumb issue, but it’s critical for security and risk management. If you’re running from one portal to another portal to manage different telco services, and telcos are trying to sell more digital services to enterprises, you’re complicating and adding more risk. So that is a piece of housekeeping that must be addressed right now.”
Mendler also highlighted yet another 5G promise that has to ripen. Looking ahead to GSMA’s next annual bash that kicks off Feb. 28, 2022 in Barcelona, Mendler said she wants to see real examples of network slicing: slices of a 5G network that an operator is selling to an enterprise.
The mobile industry will need an average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum this decade to meet the ITU data speed requirements (ITU-R recommendation not stated, but this author believes it to be M.2410 (11/2017)) [1.]. Achieving this will also minimize environmental impact and lower consumer costs of 5G, according to a global study of 36 cities published by the GSMA but carried out by Coleago Consulting.
The “Vision 2030 Insights for Mid-band Spectrum Needs” study suggests that policymakers should license spectrum to mobile operators in harmonized bands, such as 3.5 GHz, 4.8 GHz and, 6 GHz to meet the ITU’s requirements by 2030. Without the additional spectrum, it will be impossible to realise the full potential of 5G in some cases. In others, the number of antennas and base stations needed will lead to higher carbon emissions and consumer prices. The additional spectrum will lower the carbon footprint of networks by two-to-three times while enhancing the sustainable development of mobile connectivity, according to the study.
This spectrum will also make 5G more affordable. Total costs would be three- to five-times higher over a decade in cities where a deficit of 800-1000 MHz would increase the number of base stations needed and increase deployment costs in each city by $782 million to $5.8 billion.
The actual amount of mid-band spectrum required varies significantly by city, mid-band being roughly 1500 MHz-6 GHz. Population density, spread of base stations, availability of small cells and WiFi offload, and 5G activity levels, amongst other things, will have an impact on how much spectrum any given city needs.
Hong Kong tops the list of 36 cities studied by Coleago Consulting with an upper estimate of 3.7 GHz of mid-band spectrum required, while Tehran ranks at the bottom with a requirement of up to 1.2 GHz. As such, the amount of additional spectrum each city needs is also variable. However, the important message is that all cities need more spectrum than they are set to have, and the additional amount required is “far greater” than that currently planned for release, the GSMA said.
“Without the additional spectrum, it will be impossible to realize the full potential of 5G in some cases. In others, the number of antennas and base stations needed will lead to higher carbon emissions and consumer prices,” GSMA warned.
Note 1. ITU-R M.2410 data rate requirements for IMT 2020 (11/2017):
Peak data rate: is the maximum achievable data rate under ideal conditions (in bit/s), which is the received data bits assuming error-free conditions assignable to a single mobile station, when all assignable radio resources for the corresponding link direction are utilized (i.e. excluding radio resources that are used for physical layer synchronization, reference signals or pilots, guard bands and guard times). This requirement is defined for the purpose of evaluation in the eMBB usage scenario. The minimum requirements for peak data rate are:
– Downlink peak data rate is 20 Gbit/s.
– Uplink peak data rate is 10 Gbit/s
Peak spectral efficiency: is the maximum data rate under ideal conditions normalized by channel bandwidth (in bit/s/Hz), where the maximum data rate is the received data bits assuming error-free conditions assignable to a single mobile station, when all assignable radio resources for the corresponding link direction are utilized (i.e. excluding radio resources that are used for physical layer synchronization, reference signals or pilots, guard bands and guard times).
This requirement is defined for the purpose of evaluation in the eMBB usage scenario. The minimum requirements for peak spectral efficiencies are:
– Downlink peak spectral efficiency is 30 bit/s/Hz.
– Uplink peak spectral efficiency is 15 bit/s/Hz.
User experienced data rate: is the 5% point of the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of the user throughput. User throughput (during active time) is defined as the number of correctly received bits, i.e. the number of bits contained in the service data units (SDUs) delivered to Layer 3, over a certain period of time. This requirement is defined for the purpose of evaluation in the related eMBB test environment. The target values for the user experienced data rate in the Dense Urban – eMBB test environment:
– Downlink user experienced data rate is 100 Mbit/s.
– Uplink user experienced data rate is 50 Mbit/s.
Mid-band spectrum availability also will enhance Fixed Wireless Access (FWA). The study shows that with the additional 2 GHz, five-times more households will be covered with each base station, allowing affordable high-speed internet to reach beyond the fiber footprint at a fraction of the cost.
The World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023 is a crucial opportunity to align global policies for mid-band solutions for mobile. This spectrum will ensure mobile operators can deliver the ITU targets of 100 Mbps download speeds and 50 Mbps upload speeds to meet future needs of consumers and businesses.
Therefore, the GSMA asks that regulators:
- Plan to make an average of 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum available in the 2025-2030 time frame to guarantee the IMT-2020 requirements for 5G;
- Carefully consider 5G spectrum demands when 5G usage increases and advanced use cases will carry additional needs;
- Base spectrum decisions on real-world factors including, population density and extent of fibre rollout; and
- Support harmonized mid-band 5G spectrum (e.g., within the 3.5 GHz, 4.8 GHz and 6 GHz ranges) and facilitate technology upgrades in existing bands.
“Coordinated regional decisions will lead to a WRC which enables the future of 5G and supports wider broadband take-up by increasing capacity and reducing costs,” the GSMA said.
Our esteemed colleague Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson says that the wireless market is now growing fast enough for both telcos and cablecos to meet their expectations. However, longer term growth that’s much above population growth is clearly unsustainable.
The market research firm has long argued that above-population phone growth in a more or less fully penetrated
market owes to the industry’s willingness to give away free phones in return for additional lines, even when those additional lines aren’t needed and won’t be used.
MoffettNathanson had earlier reported that it expects cablecos to continue to take wireless market share from telcos, bolstered by what is now much more competitive pricing from Comcast.
Craig wrote in a note to clients [we recommend you become one if not truly interested in telecom and/or cable]:
That leaves AT&T and Verizon to bear the brunt of the impact. AT&T has been growing its market share of late, but only because Verizon had been slow to match their aggressive retention offer. Now that Verizon has finally introduced its own, similar, retention offer, the two are likely to be in closer equilibrium… …which is to say, we believe they are likely to now both lose equally. Both companies have guided to low-single digit consolidated revenue growth in the near term, accelerating to the mid-single digits over the coming years.
With continued contraction in the Business Wireline segment all but a given, that means growth in wireless will have to be even faster than that. How? Their guidance seems awfully optimistic to us. We are also projecting significant losses for prepaid as low-priced post-paid plans accelerate pre-paid to post-paid conversions.
Moffett’s revised estimates are for mobile phone subscriber net additions to drop from about 6 million this year to approximately 4.5 million per year in the next few years. That works out to 5.8 million postpaid net adds vs. a loss of 1.3 million prepaid subscribers.
Moreover, the phone subscriber loss for mobile telcos will become more acute if the growth rate recedes from a recent increase of 2.5% year-over-year (a number five times higher than population growth), to more moderate levels – down to about 1.4% by 2025, according to Moffett’s forecast.
Moffett has significantly lowered his estimates for postpaid phone net adds for both AT&T and Verizon. T-Mobile’s sub growth will slow to a smaller degree, reflecting “greater competition from cable operators,” Moffett wrote.
- AT&T: For 2022, Moffett has cut an original forecast of 1.05 million postpaid net adds, to net adds of 505,000. Looking to 2025, he has lowered an original forecast of 888,000 postpaid adds, to 261,000.
- Verizon: For 2022, the analyst cut original expected postpaid adds of 1.03 million to 673,000. For 2025, he now expects Verizon, which does benefit from Comcast’s and Charter’s mobile businesses thanks to the aforementioned MVNO agreements, to pull in postpaid adds of 306,000, versus an original 1.09 million.
- T-Mobile: For 2022, Moffett has reduced his original postpaid net adds of 2.93 million, to 2.73 million. For 2025, he has lowered T-Mobile’s expected postpaid net adds to 2.97 million, versus an original 3.35 million.
Ahead of its national 5G network build, Dish Network remains largely a prepaid operator following its acquisiton of the Boost business from T-Mobile, along with a mix of pre- and post-paid subs coming from last year’s Ting deal. Moffett expects to see a faster decline at Dish’s Boost prepaid business as the company prepared to “compete more vigorously in post-paid.”
The wireless industry hasn’t grown mid-single digits in years, and, with competitive intensity rising, there is little reason to expect that to change. Unfortunately, MoffettNathanson is skeptical (to say the least) that 5G will create incremental revenue streams that fundamentally alter the industry’s growth trajectory. [1.]
Note 1. With URLLC performance requirements not met by either 3GPP Release 16 or IMT 2020 (M.2150), no ITU standard or 3GPP implementation spec for 5G SA core network (which is required for all 5G features like network slicing), no 5G SA roaming, and no ITU-R agreement on 5G mmWave frequencies (revision to M.1036 companion recommendation for M.2150), we think there are very few legitimate use cases for 5G at this time. Furthermore, the network build out costs, especially for hundreds of thousands of small cells with fiber backhaul) will overwhelm any revenue increases and result in a net LOSS for almost all wireless telcos that deploy 5G SA (T-Mobile may be an exception for many reasons).
And if AT&T and Verizon are both going to be share losers – this seems to us to be a relatively non-controversial assertion – in an industry that barely grows, then how on earth will they achieve faster than mid-single digit growth?
In sum, our calculation suggests industry phone growth – again, to be clear, this is before the minting of unneeded and unused additional lines – should be about 1.2% per year.
With Cablecos taking a bite out of that smaller pie, Craig expects growth of incumbent telco’s – AT&T and Verizon, in particular – to suffer.
MoffetNathanson July 6, 2021 Report: Cable Wireless: The Impact on TelCos (subscribers only)
Nokia and TPG Telecom today announced that they have switched on a live 5G standalone (SA) network in Australia on the 700MHz spectrum band – the first time this has happened in the world. Low band 5G coverage at 700MHz, which is the lowest 5G frequency band deployed in Australia with the largest range, will enable TPG Telecom to provide wide outdoor 5G services, as well as deep indoor 5G coverage in urban and suburban areas to its customers.
Under the partnership, Nokia is supplying equipment from its latest ReefShark based AirScale product range including its unique triple band remote radio unit that supports 700, 850 and 900 MHz bands. The unit also supports 3G, 4G and 5G simultaneously across all TPG Telecom’s low-band frequencies. TPG Telecom’s 5G SA service is now successfully activated in parts of Sydney and this means that the operator’s customers will benefit from having 5G available in more places.
Low band 5G goes further outdoor and deeper into buildings than existing 5G deployments and will allow operators like TPG Telecom to bring 5G to even more customers. TPG Telecom may be targeting the Internet of Things (IoT) with its 700MHz service, because that frequency provides a broader coverage area. Australian homes will contain over 47 million smart devices by 2022, estimates the country’s National Science and Technology Council.
Other network operators are pursuing 700MHz 5G service.
- Japan’s KDDI said in March that it is using Samsung equipment operating in the 700MHz spectrum as part of its goal of covering 90% of Japan’s population by early 2022.
- CBN/China Mobile have put out tender requests bids for 480,397 5G macro base stations in the 700 MHz band. China granted a 5G license for use of the 700 MHz frequency to CBN, the country’s fourth telecoms operator, in June 2019.
- AT&T’s 5G “low band” network mostly uses 850MHz, but its 700 MHz FirstNet public safety network uses hardware “that can be upgraded to 5G with a simple software release.” AT&T has not publicly announce when that might be done.
The 700MHz spectrum provides “deep indoor penetration, a reliable uplink and large coverage,” notes a Nokia white paper. 700Mhz spectrum was referred to as “beachfront property” in 2007-2008.
Barry Kezik, Executive General Manager Mobile and Fixed Networks at TPG Telecom, said: “We’re excited to be the first network in the world to realize the true potential of low band 5G SA at 700MHz. TPG Telecom’s low band 5G will expand our 5G coverage, supporting our goal of reaching 85% of the population in Australia’s top six cities by the end of the year and changing the way people and things connect to the TPG Telecom 5G network.”
Dr Robert Joyce, Chief Technology Officer at Nokia Oceania, said: “Nokia is proud to support another 5G world first. We have a long-standing partnership with TPG Telecom, and we have jointly developed our unique triple band radio solution specifically for them. Today we get to see the result of that joint effort and collaboration which will deliver premium wide area 5G SA coverage for TPG Telecom and its customers.”
Other 5G networks in Australia: Telstra’s 5G covers 200 towns and cities, and Optus recently announcing it has connected 1 million 5G devices to its network
A new report released by RootMetrics (owned by IHS Markit), shared the 5G performance results in four major South Korean cities in the first half of 2021. Three South Korean operators, KT, LG Uplus and SK Telecom, claim to have provided users with widespread access to 5G, remarkable speeds, and low latency.
According to the report, LG Uplus’s 5G network in Seoul has the fastest speed, the shortest latency, and the best coverage, providing end users with an optimal 5G experience. This is the third consecutive year that LG Uplus has maintained their position as a 5G industry leader. Of note, the report stated that LG Uplus made the most efficient use of the spectrum, despite only 80 MHz of 5G bandwidth, less than that of KT and SK Telecom, with 100 MHz each.
South Korea’s 5G availability and user speed, which are the two key components of a consumer’s 5G experience, are ahead of most of the rest of the world. RootMetrics considers LG Uplus in Seoul to be the best 5G network based on the 5G report results in four cities (see image below):
- Best 5G coverage: LG Uplus provides coverage in all scenarios, including outdoor, indoor, high-speed railway, metro, hot spots etc., with 95.2% 5G availability. That means the network is providing ubiquitous 5G access, far more than cities like New York and London city.
- Fastest 5G speed: The median speed of 5G users is 640.7 Mbps, which is much higher than in other cities with 5G access.
LG Uplus has built 5G networks with high-bandwidth massive MIMO, deployed 64TRx Massive MIMO at scale for outdoor scenarios and LampSite+distributed Massive MIMO for indoor scenarios to build “Everywhere” Massive MIMO. In addition, 5G AI+ has also been introduced. Together these technology build the strongest and most intelligent 5G network, according to RootMetrics.
The report says that the performance of the other two major operators in South Korea is also impressive. The 5G availability of the three operators has increased to over 93% and the median speed is over 461 Mbps, which means end users can access the 5G network no matter their location to enjoy the ultimate 5G experience. RootMetrics can’t help praise: South Korea is winning the global 5G race, with availability and speeds that are far, far ahead of others.
“5G is becoming the foundation of our connected communities and as important a piece of infrastructure as is water, roads, or electricity. We’ve tested performance in South Korea over many years. Our results continue to show that South Korean operators have taken a leading position in delivering the type of 5G experience that can help fuel new consumer and business activity,” said Patrick Linder, Chief Marketing Officer at RootMetrics. “As 5G continues to expand across the globe, the implementation strategies and performance seen in South Korea have set an impressive standard for other operators to follow.”
In sharp contrast to RootMetrics’ glowing praise for 5G in South Korea, many 5G customers there are extremely dissatisfied as per this Light Reading article:
Their gripe is that 5G is little better than 4G in terms of speed, while coverage is annoyingly patchy. Worst of all, they’re locked into much more expensive two-year contracts when compared to LTE tariffs.
Rather than just put up with their 5G lot, this unhappy crew is intending to take part in a collective lawsuit and seek compensation of at least KRW1 million ($890) each. South Korean law firm Joowon is spearheading the legal action.
“Considering that monthly 5G plans are around 50,000 won more expensive than 4G LTE plans, we expect around 1 million won in compensation for users subscribed to two-year plans,” explained Kim Jin-wook, a Joowon lawyer.
Kim indicated that South Korea’s “big three” had a case to answer. They initially advertised 5G download speeds as being 20 times faster than 4G LTE, when they first came out of the 5G traps in April 2019, but a government report last year apparently found that average 5G download speeds were just four times faster than 4G.
Korea Bizwire points out that the Korea National Council of Consumer Organizations, a consumer advocacy group, recommended last October that carriers pay as much as KRW350,000 ($309) in compensation to users who filed for mediation over what they saw as a mediocre 5G service.
As of January the number of 5G subscribers in South Korea was just shy of 13 million, which was less than 20% of all mobile network users in the country.
5G customer dissatisfaction is a worldwide phenomenon. In May, Reuters reported that “about 70% of (global 5G) users are dissatisfied with the apps and services bundled with their 5G plans, according to a study carried out by Ericsson ConsumerLab in 26 markets around the world.
“While early adopters are pleased with 5G network speeds, they are already expressing dissatisfaction with a lack of bundled new and innovative apps and services, which they feel were promised in the marketing pitch for 5G,” Ericsson said.
“Service providers need to offer exclusive content and services that could differentiate a 5G experience from 4G and promote a sense of novelty and exclusivity,” Ericsson said.
Finally, none of the South Korea carriers have deployed a 5G SA/Core network, despite Samsung’s bogus claim of November 4, 2020: “Samsung and KT announced they have successfully deployed Korea’s first 5G Standalone (SA) and Non-Standalone (NSA) common core in KT’s commercial network. KT will commercially launch its SA network when 5G SA-capable devices become available in the market.”
Well, that hasn’t happened yet, so KT’s 5G SA network has yet to be deployed! The major benefits of 5G, like network slicing, automation, secure communications, new QoS model, etc. are ONLY realized via a 5G SA core network.
The 5G SA architecture connects the 5G Radio (base station or small cell) directly to the 5G core network, and the control signaling does not depend on the 4G network as it does in 5G NSA. The full set of 5G Phase 1 services (defined in 3GPP Release 15) are ONLY supported in 5G SA mode.
GSMA has identified 12 5G SA networks worldwide. None are in South Korea:
At least 12 operators in nine countries/territories are understood to have launched (or close to launch) public 5G SA networks:
- China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom have all launched 5G SA networks (China Telecom and China Unicom sharing some of the network construction). China Mobile has deployed or upgraded 400,000 base stations to support standalone services, while China Telecom announced its service launch covering more than 300 cities.
- T-Mobile in the USA has launched 5G SA nationwide using spectrum at 600 MHz.
- RAIN has launched 5G SA in parts of Cape Town in South Africa to support 5G FWA services and DIRECTV in Colombia has launched 5G SA for FWA in parts of Bogota. China Mobile Hong Kong announced the launch of 5G SA in late 2020.
- Mass Response (Spusu) has launched a limited network in Austria and is progressing with a wider regional deployment and, most recently.
- Telefonica and Vodafone have launched 5G SA networks in Germany.
- STC has announced a commercial launch in Kuwait.
- Singtel has announced its launch in Singapore (with other operators in Singapore expected to go live very soon).
- In Saudi Arabia, STC has announced that it has activated its 5G SA networks, although GSA is waiting for confirmation of availability of commercial services for customers before classifying its 5G SA networks as launched. Also, in Saudi Arabia, ITC has announced a soft launch of a 5G SA network.
- In Australia, Telstra has deployed a 5G core network and has stated it is ready to launch its 5G SA network once a sufficient range of suitable devices is available in the Australian market.
Qualcomm’s new CEO believes that by next year his company will supply CPU chips for laptop makers competing with Apple. Last year, the Cupertino, CA based company introduced laptops using a custom-designed central processor chip that boasts longer battery life. Longtime processor suppliers Intel Corp and Advanced Micro Devices have no chips as energy efficient as Apple’s.
Qualcomm Chief Executive Cristiano Amon told Reuters on Thursday he believes his company can have the best chip on the market, with help from a team of chip architects who formerly worked on the Apple chip but now work at Qualcomm. In his first interview since taking the top job at Qualcomm, Amon also said the company is also counting on revenue growth from China to power its core smartphone chip business despite political tensions.
“We will go big in China,” he said, noting that U.S. sanctions on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd (HWT.UL) give Qualcomm an opportunity to generate a lot more revenue.
Amon said a cornerstone of his strategy comes from a lesson learned in the smartphone chip market: It was not enough just to provide modem chips for phones’ wireless data connectivity. Qualcomm also needed to provide the brains to turn the phone into a computer, which it now does for most premium Android devices.
Now, as Qualcomm looks to push 5G connectivity into laptops, it is pairing modems with a powerful central processor unit, or CPU, Amon said. Instead of using computing core blueprints from longtime partner ARM Ltd, as it now does for smartphones, Qualcomm concluded it needed custom-designed chips if its customers were to rival new laptops from Apple.
As head of Qualcomm’s chip division, Amon this year led the $1.4 billion acquisition of startup, whose ex-Apple founders help design some those Apple laptop chips before leaving to form the startup. Qualcom will start selling Nuvia-based laptop chips next year.
“We needed to have the leading performance for a battery-powered device,” Amon said. “If ARM, which we’ve had a relationship with for years, eventually develops a CPU that’s better than what we can build ourselves, then we always have the option to license from ARM.”
ARM is in the midst of being purchased by Nvidia Corp for $40 billion, a merger that Qualcomm has objected to with regulators.
Amon said Qualcomm has no plans to build its own products to enter the other big market for CPUs – data centers for cloud computing companies. But it will license Nuvia’s designs to cloud computing companies that want to build their own chips, which could put it in competition with parts of ARM.
“We are more than willing to leverage the Nuvia CPU assets to partner with companies that are interested as they build their data center solutions,” Amon said.
Smartphone chips accounted for $12.8 billion of its $16.5 billion in chip revenue in its most recent fiscal year. Some of Qualcomm’s best customers, such as phone maker Xiaomi Corp are in China.
Qualcomm is counting on revenue growth as its Android handset customers swoop in on former users of phones from Huawei, which was forced out of the handset market by Washington’s sanctions.
Kevin Krewell, principal analyst at TIRIAS Research, called it a “political minefield” due to rising U.S.-China tensions. But Amon said the company could do business as usual there.
“We license our technology – we don’t have to do forced joint ventures with technology transfers. Our customers in China are current with their agreements, so you see respect for American intellectual property,” he said.
Another major challenge for Amon will be hanging on to Apple as a customer. Qualcomm’s modem chips are now in all Apple iPhone 12 models after a bruising legal battle. Apple sued Qualcomm in 2017 but eventually dropped its claims and signed chip supply and patent license agreements with Qualcomm in 2019. Apple is now designing chips to displace Qualcomm’s communications chips in iPhones.
“The biggest overhang for Qualcomm’s long-term stock multiple is the worry that right now, it’s as good as it gets, because they’re shipping into all the iPhones, but someday, Apple will do those chips internally,” said Michael Walkley, a senior analyst at Canaccord Genuity Group.
Amon said that Qualcomm has decades of experience designing modem chips that will be hard for any rival to replicate and that the void in the Android market left by Huawei creates new revenue opportunities for Qualcomm.
Another challenge for Amon, a gregarious executive who is energetic onstage during keynote presentations, will be that Qualcomm is not well known to consumers in the way that Intel or Nvidia are, even in Qualcomm’s hometown.
“I flew into San Diego and got an Uber driver at the airport and told him I was going to Qualcomm. He said, ‘You mean the stadium?'” Krewell said, referring to the football arena formerly home to the San Diego Chargers.
Amon has started a new branding program for the company’s Snapdragon smartphone chips to try to change that. “We have a mature smartphone industry today. People care what’s behind the glass,” he said.
China Broadcasting Network (CBN), China’s fourth mobile operator, has issued a tender for the radio access portion of its national 5G network via its network partner China Mobile. Previously, the two companies entered into a 5G Network Co-construction and Sharing Collaboration Agreement along with other 5G collaborations.
The CBN/China Mobile tender requests bids for 480,397 5G macro base stations in the 700 MHz band which is roughly equivalent to the number of 2.6 GHz base stations already deployed by China Mobile. Based on past big 3 (China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom) tender results, Huawei and ZTE are expected to win approximately 85% of the business. That would leave only 15% for Ericsson or other well known 5G base station vendor, but probably NOT Nokia which was shut out of the last China 5G contract awards.
China granted a 5G license for use of the 700 MHz frequency to CBN, the country’s fourth telecoms operator, in June 2019. The other three obtained 5G licenses for 2.6 GHz and 4.9 GHz. Founded in 2014, Beijing-based CBN is the most recently established, so lacks users and infrastructure, which is partly why it is cooperating with China Mobile on 5G.
Concurrently, a bidding announcement for the centralized procurement of multi-band (including 700MHz) antenna products was also issued. This project is a centralized bidding project. The purchased products are multi-band (including 700M) antenna products. There are three types of 6 antennas: 4+4+4 antennas (700/900/1800MHz), divided into ordinary gain and high gain; 4+4+ 4+8 antennas (700/900/1800/FA), divided into long and short models; single 4 antenna (700MHz), divided into normal gain and high gain. The procurement scale is approximately 1.74 million antennas, of which 4.448 antennas require 1.14 million antennas, and the remaining model antennas such as 444 are 600,000 antennas.
China Mobile will complete the deployment of 700MHz 400,000 stations within this year. In the first half of 2022, they plan to open 480,000 seats and fully support 5G broadcasting services. Within two years full network coverage will be achieved.
There are now nearly 100 5G mobile phones supporting the 700MHz frequency band, covering high, middle and low end consumer groups. China Mobile earlier made it clear that in 2021, it will promote the joint construction and sharing of 700MHz to achieve 700MHz commercialization. It requires: starting from March 1, 2021, terminals of 4,000 yuan and above must support 700MHz; from October 1, 2021, The newly added terminal must support 700MHz.
The tender is a milestone for the China telecom sector, marking the start of the rollout of the new entrant, who is also the first network operator not linked to the Ministry of Industry and IT. CBN said the network will be configured around video and streaming to serve its existing cable TV customer base and to provide differentiation from the incumbent telcos. The rollout will include 5G mobile broadcasting capabilities, including 3,000 transmission towers.
The 700MHz frequency band is part of the wider ultra-high frequency (UHF) band used previously for terrestrial broadcasting. The 700MHz frequency band will improve connectivity in rural areas thanks to its ability to support better coverage in open spaces. Moreover, with its wide territorial reach and good penetration in buildings, the 700MHz band will help service providers meet the rising consumer demand for audiovisual content and other broadband services over wireless networks.
Li Shuang, Deputy Director of Department of Technology Development, CBN, said: “CBN always extensively cooperates with domestic and international industry partners with innovation-driven, open and win-win concepts in mind, promoting continuous maturation of the global industry chain of 5G 700MHz network and committed to building a high-quality nationwide 5G network in China. The successful test by Ericsson based on the 3GPP 5G specifications contributed by CBN, including the 700MHz technology standard and n28 band terminal enhancements standard, has improved the 700MHz network capability efficiently, which is of great significance to the innovation of low-band 5G networks in various scenarios.”
CBN and China Mobile are reportedly promising to deploy 400,000 base stations this year.
Robert Clark of Light Reading wrote, “That seems unlikely – it took the incumbent operators nearly two years to reach that mark – but it seems certain that CBN will offer its first commercial services late this year or early 2022. The bid documents state that the tender is fully funded, a positive sign for the cash-strapped CBN.
As Rakuten in Japan is learning, it is not easy to compete against big legacy players each with a large installed base and deep marketing channels. Even in the capital markets, CBN may find itself competing again with its industry rivals.”
LF Networking (LFN), which facilitates collaboration and operational excellence across open source networking projects, today announced seven new member organizations and one associate member have joined the community to collaborate on the 5G Super Blue Print initiative.
The 5G Super Blueprint project covers RAN, Edge, and Core and enables solutions for enterprises and verticals, large institutional organizations, and more. While Networking provides platforms and building blocks across the networking industry that enable rapid interoperability, deployment, and adoption. Participation in this nexus for 5G innovation and integration is open to anyone.
The new members are:
AQSACOM, a leader in Cyber Intelligence software solutions for communications service providers (CSPs) and law enforcement agencies (LEAs);
Radtronics, which provides secure and powerful private wireless network for Maximum Productivity with new applications and services, through Outcome based and cost efficient solutions enabled by strong innovation;
Turnuium, which enables channel partners to connect people, data, and applications through its turnkey multi-carrier managed SD-WAN;
SEMPRE, which secures 5G for critical infrastructure by moving compute to the edge and leveraging military-grade technology—the only HEMP-hardened 5G gNODEB with Edge; and
Wavelabs, a new-age technology company for the Digital, Cognitive & Industry 4.0 Era have joined LFN at the Silver level. New Associate members include: the Oman government’s Ministry of Transportation, Communications & Information Technology;
ICE Group’s (state telecommunications and energy operator of Costa Rica)
ANTTEC (ICE Group’s main union of technicians and engineers); and
High School Technology Services, which offers coding and technology training to students and adults, have joined as Associate members.
“As the center platform for enabling open source 5G building blocks, collaboration and integration is more important than ever for LFN, amplified by our recent developer event in early June,” said Arpit Joshipura, general manager, Networking, Edge and IoT, the Linux Foundation. “This impressive roster of new members across intelligence, government, enterprise and more are welcome additions to the LFN community. We look forward to continued collaboration that enables rapid interoperability, deployment, and adoption of 5G across the ecosystem.”
Leveraging the convergence of major initiatives in the 5G space, and building on a long-running 5G Cloud Native Network demo work stream, LF Networking is leading a community-driven integration and proof of concept involving multiple open source initiatives in order to show end-to-end use cases demonstrating implementation architectures for end users.
In April, the Linux Foundation and the World Bank launched an online course: 5G and Emerging Technologies for Public Service Delivery & Digital Economy Operations – Fundamentals of 5G Networks: Implications for Practitioners. The course is now available on the World Bank’s Open Learning Campus here. Aimed at decision makers and development practitioners, the course provides an introduction to open source and the critical role it plays in today’s networks.
Learn more about the 5G Super Blue Print during the Open Networking & Edge (ONE) Summit, the ONE event for end to end connectivity solutions powered by open source and enables the collaborative development necessary to shape the future of networking and edge computing. Taking place October 11-12, 2021 in Los Angeles, Calif., Registration will open soon.
New Member Support:
“With the dramatic growth of Private Wireless LTE and 5G networks over the coming years, the Open Source community will play a transformational role, which is the reason we’re joining the Linux Foundation Networking,” said Peter Lejon, co-founder of RADTONICS AB. “5G technology will have a huge impact on our future, driving positive changes for all of us. With enterprise and regional operators procuring solutions direct from the solutions providers, initiatives like 5G Super Blueprint and Magma Packet Core will be instrumental in serving a rapidly developing market that will include the next billion users on their journey of capturing value through digitalization. We believe that through Open Source and by working together, we can further accelerate the current pace of innovation and development. Change will never be this slow again,” added Lejon.
Marcus Owenby, SEMPRE’s Global CTO, affirmed “SEMPRE’s support for 5G Super Blueprint will enable enterprise and government organizations to leverage open source technology, while also securing 5G using military-grade technology purpose-built to protect critical infrastructure.”
“Wavelabs.ai is an ardent proponent of the ‘OPEN X’ network vision. We work with the entire ecosystems of clients & partners as an engaged, committed, and collaborative partner to realize 5G open and disaggregated ‘White Box’ network as a reality” said Mansoor Khan, CEO of Wavelabs. “LF Networking open-source 5G initiatives address major opportunities today and tomorrow. We believe this partnership will strengthen Wavelabs mission in accelerating the Journey to Future Connectivity by offering the unique blend of next-generation Digital, Cognitive, and Network technology services and solutions”