Sunrise is Switzerland’s #2 wireless carrier. It now claims its 5G network currently covers 80% of the population. Meanwhile, market leader Swisscom says it will have 90% 5G coverage by the end of 2019. #3 national operator Salt is working to launch 5G service sometime later this year.
Note that Switzerland is a very small country. At 41,284 km2, Switzerland is ranked 132nd worldwide. With a population of only 8.5 million people, it is listed at 99th globally.
From the Sunrise website:
Mobile data traffic over the Sunrise network doubles every 12 to 17 months. This means that more and more people and devices are communicating with each other. 4G cannot serve the current demand alone. The new 5G standard (this is an incorrect statement as the reference is to 3GPPP Release 15 which is not a standard nor is it 3GPP’s final submission to ITU-R WP5D for its IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT spec which will largely be based on Release 16) was developed for more efficient and powerful communication.
With 262 cities and towns already covered by Sunrise’s 5G network, Swiss consumers are being offered a connectivity bonanza few others can claim to match. Sunrise started operating its first 5G antenna in Switzerland in the summer of 2018. Less than a year later, the company now has the most expansive 5G network in the country. It is no coincidence that many of the locations equipped with 5G are outside densely populated areas. Sunrise is initially focusing on providing ultra-fast 5G Internet service to customers who lack fiber optic connections at home or at their businesses.
“At the start of April, we launched our 5G network for selected customers,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO of Sunrise.
“This makes us the first 5G provider in Switzerland and Europe. Since then, we have successfully extended our lead. The Sunrise 5G network is the biggest in the country and sets a benchmark in terms of coverage quality.”
“We do not differentiate between ‘fast’ and ‘wide’, between fast and slow 5G. Private and business customers want good and fast 5G coverage. That’s why we will also be offering 5G coverage in all Sunrise Shops by the end of the year. In addition to this, we will be launching a dedicated solution for companies, allowing them to benefit from 5G as soon as possible to aid their digitization.”
It’s worth noting that population coverage is very different from geographical coverage. Switzerland is a highly urbanized country, roughly 73% live in urban environments, easing the demands on network deployment. When one looks at the rural landscapes in Switzerland the challenges start to mount up very quickly.
This is a common trait in the majority of the markets where 5G has gotten off to a flying start. South Korea is another example of a market moving very quickly towards the 5G era, and once again, it is a highly-urbanized country. The UK is a third which has the advantage of a relatively small land mass, combined with a concentrated population.
Although these are factors which will simplify network deployment, that should not detract from the progress being made across the Swiss telco industry. In the absence of coverage obligations, good old competition and ambition is driving the agenda.
Swisscom has rolled out 5G in Zurich, Basel, Davos, St. Moritz, and many other cities. Switzerland’s #1 carrier says “5G will be available across Switzerland by the end of the year.”
“The best network is now even better. 5G is faster, more reliable and more powerful than ever before. It is opening up new opportunities – for our communities, for the economy and for Switzerland as a whole.”
Speed testing authority Ookla maintains a handy global map tracking various categories of 5G deployments–pre-release, limited availability and commercial availability. Even the most topical glance would tell you that Europe clearly has most of the global 5G deployments and, with a bit of zooming, it’s apparent that Switzerland is hands-down ahead of the pack. As one vendor executive put it, Switzerland is “massively in the lead.”
5G spectrum in Switzerland:
Switzerland’s Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) raised $379 million following a Jan. 29 to Feb. 7 auction. Licenses were awarded following a clock auction format, which allowed the bidders to bid on frequency blocks in all the available frequency categories simultaneously. ComCom said that the implementation of spectrum cap allowed the regulator to make sure that all mobile operators were able to acquire a wide range of 5G frequencies at reasonable prices.
Salt secured 20 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 80 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band and 10 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band. Sunrise purchased 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 100 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz range and 15 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band. The carrier also secured an additional 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, which are “supplemental downlink” frequencies that can be used to increase data download capacity in the future. Swisscom secured 30 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 120 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band and 50 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band.
“The frequencies will be assigned for 15 years, giving the operators long-term planning security to develop their networks. The outcome of the auction has been recorded in a decision that is contestable before the Federal Administrative Court,” ComCom said. “The awarding of frequencies is of key importance for the digitalization of Switzerland, and is in line with the Federal Council’s ‘Digital Switzerland’ strategy. In addition to powerful mobile communications, 5G will enable many new uses in future, including the internet of things, medical applications (eHealth), image processing applications (virtual reality, augmented reality) or self-driving vehicles. Switzerland is one of the first countries in Europe to already provide the 5G frequencies to network operators.”
Gartner Group forecasts that the worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will double between 2019 and 2020. [That’s really amazing since the IMT 2020 standard for 5G RIT/SRITs won’t be completed till December 2020. That means each and every 5G pre-standard deployment is proprietary to the wireless network operator].
The market research firm has predicted that the global 5G network infrastructure revenue will reach $4.2bn in 2020, an 89% increase from 2019 revenue of $2.2bn.
Additionally, Gartner forecasts that investments in 5G network infrastructure will account for 6% of the total wireless infrastructure revenue of communications service providers (CSPs) in 2019, and that this figure will reach 12% in 2020.
Gartner believes that 7% of CSPs across the globe have already deployed 5G infrastructure in their networks. However, all of those pre-IMT 2020 standard 5G networks use different frequencies and require a LTE network for the control and management planes.
“5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will nearly double between 2019 and 2020,” said Sylvain Fabre, senior research director at Gartner.
“For 5G deployments in 2019, CSPs are using non-stand-alone (NSA) technology. That means LTE signaling, EPC (LTE mobile packet core) and LTE based network management. In most, but not all 5G deployments 3GPP release 15 “5G NR” is used for the data plane.
3GPP 5G New Radio NSA enables wireless network operators to introduce 5G services that run more quickly, as 5G New Radio (NR) equipment can be rolled out alongside existing 4G-LTE core network infrastructure.”
In 2020, CSPs will roll out stand-alone 5G technology, which will require 5G NR equipment and a 5G core network.
Table 1: Wireless Infrastructure Revenue Forecast, Worldwide, 2018-2021 (Millions of Dollars)
LTE and 4G
Due to rounding, figures may not add up precisely to the totals shown.
Source: Gartner (August 2019)
5G services will launch in many major cities in 2019 and 2020, Gartner predicts, and services have already begun in the U.S., South Korea and some European countries, including Switzerland, Finland and the U.K. CSPs in Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Spain, Sweden, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have announced plans to accelerate 5G network building through 2020.
5G networks are expected to expand the mobile ecosystem to cover new industries, such as the smart factory, autonomous transportation, remote healthcare, agriculture and retail sectors, as well as enable private networks for industrial users.
CSPs Will Increasingly Aim 5G Services at Enterprises:
Although consumers represent the main segment driving 5G development, CSPs will increasingly aim 5G services at enterprises. 5G networks are expected to expand the mobile ecosystem to cover new industries.
Equipment vendors view private networks for industrial users as a market segment with significant potential. “It’s still early days for the 5G private-network opportunity, but vendors, regulators and standards bodies have preparations in place,” said Mr. Fabre. Germany has set aside the 3.7GHz band for private networks, and Japan is reserving the 4.5GHz and 28GHz for the same. Ericsson aims to deliver solutions via CSPs in order to build private networks with high levels of reliability and performance and secure communications. Nokia has developed a portfolio to enable large industrial organizations to invest directly in their own private networks.
“National 5G coverage will not occur as quickly as with past generations of wireless infrastructure,” said Mr. Fabre. “To maintain average performance standards as 5G is built out, CSPs will need to undertake targeted strategic improvements to their 4G legacy layer, by upgrading 4G infrastructure around 5G areas of coverage. A less robust 4G legacy layer adjoining 5G cells could lead to real or perceived performance issues as users move from 5G to 4G/LTE Advanced Pro. This issue will be most pronounced from 2019 through 2021, a period when 5G coverage will be focused on hot spots and areas of high population density.
This will be most evident between 2019 and 2021, when 5G coverage will primarily be used for hot spots and better coverage of high population density.
Key Challenges for 5G in the enterprise:
The potential performance benefits of 5G networks intrigue enterprises, but service providers have provided few granular details about the availability and full specifications of existing and planned 5G coverage, compatible endpoints and planned 5G corporate service plan structures.
Providers’ plans regarding pricing and service plan structures for 5G beyond initial launches remain unclear.
Mobile providers have not aligned their early performance claims for 5G with concrete plans to offer guarantees for throughput speeds, latency, network availability and security.
Enterprises with planned applications or use cases that are reliant on 5G attributes report getting little carrier guidance on how to implement or integrate with incipient 5G networks.
CSP Migration from Network Services to Digital Services:
Different access technologies will support the requirements of different connectivity use cases (such as using network as a service).
Network services remain important for CSPs that are diversifying into adjacent digital services. However, their most strategic asset will be the real-time information about network usage and behavior, which can be used to optimize experience based on context (such as mobile self-organizing networks do, for instance). This information also improves decision making for further infrastructure investment for capacity and performance. A drive to open-source infrastructure and software is also prevalent, not only in the core network elements, but also increasingly in the radio access.
(Gartner subscription required)
Chinese mobile operators may be soon working together to build 5G networks in order to limit the costs, the Nikkei Asian Review reports. And why not- all three are state owned!
China’s second- and third-ranked mobile carriers, China Telecom and China Unicom area already close to an agreement. Number one China Mobile hasn’t commented yet. Please see China Mobile chairman’s statement in the last paragraph below.
China Telecom Chairman and CEO Ke Ruiwen said that his company is in “deep consideration” to jointly build a 5G network with China Unicom. He confirmed that top management on both sides have already reached a “high level of consensus” on the matter and “substantial progress” has been made toward a final deal.
“Co-building and co-sharing would bring great savings in capital expenditure, operating expenditure, as well as improve resource utilization,” Ke said, without revealing any numbers that might quantify the cost savings.
The 5G partnership was hinted at by China Unicom Chairman and CEO Wang Xiaochu earlier. During the company’s first-half earnings briefing, Wang floated the idea of a “co-built, co-shared” 5G infrastructure. Wang left the door open to cooperating with China Mobile and China Broadcasting Network, which were granted 5G licenses in June, but said China Unicom was “mutually complementary” with China Telecom, noting their strengths in different regions of the country.
The Chinese government hopes that developing a 5G network will help buoy the economy, but the three major mobile carriers are concerned about expenses and profits. © AP ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
China Telecom’s Ke also mentioned these advantages at the operator’s first-half results presentation. Although Ke dodged questions from reporters in Hong Kong about the savings on investment and when an official agreement would be signed, he confirmed that top management on both sides have already reached a “high level of consensus” on the matter and “substantial progress” has been made toward a final deal.
Both mobile carriers are limiting their 5G investment budgets this year. China Telecom is keeping its budget unchanged from the beginning of the year at 9 billion yuan ($1.27 billion), while China Unicom is holding within the previously committed range of 8 billion yuan.
The chief uncertainty about such a 5G mobile carrier partnership is about exactly what facilities the operators would share? Making use of the same cell towers, poles and other “passive” infrastructure would be no great leap. Through China Tower-a jointly owned telecom infrastructure business- all three mobile network operators have already pooled mobile towers to reduce costs.
China Tower is a joint venture of the three major Chinese mobile carriers. Chairman Tong Jilu told reporters on Aug. 7 that the cell-tower builder has not changed its annual capital expenditure budget of 30 billion yuan since the beginning of the year. Tong stressed that his company’s investment “is up to the telecom operators,” adding the annual investment “would not likely exceed the budget.”
China Tower said earlier this month that it had received client demands to install 65,000 5G base stations to date, a number that it expects to rise to 100,000 by the end of the year.
Market leader China Mobile has pledged to allocate CNY 24 billion to 5G this year, above the CNY 17 billion suggested in March. Chairman Yang Jie said that its total capital expenditure for 2019 will be under CNY 166 billion, below last year’s CNY 167.1 billion. The company’s 5G investment this year is much smaller than the 38.7 billion yuan reported by Chinese media when 5G licenses were granted in early June. The government aims to spur job creation and support embattled equipment suppliers like Huawei and ZTE as the trade conflict with the U.S. drags on, but the carriers seem to have their own agenda.
Despite the government’s push for swift deployment of a network, Yang said “the peak period of 5G investment will be between 2020 and 2022.” This author completing agrees with that comment with the real investment not starting till 2021 after IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard has been completed by ITU-R.
By Christopher Mims
Editor’s Note: The following article doesn’t mention two huge issues with current “5G” pre-IMT 2020 standard deployments (based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G NR” NSA):
1. Ultra low latency/ultra high reliability is not specified (it will be in 3GPP Release 16) and hopefully it will be included in the IMT 2020 specs to be completed in late 2020 (last ITU-R WP5D meeting that year is November 2020).
2. There are no specifications, let alone any standards, for so many of the highly touted 5G attributes, e.g. network slicing, virtual RAN/virtual mobile packet core, cyber security/privacy, roaming (especially when different frequencies are used on service provider 5G networks), new service creation/ automation/ orchestration, network management, fault isolation and recovery/restoration, etc. These will be proprietary or NON EXISTENT for a very long time!
There is also the unpublicized issue of physical security to prevent damage/sabotage of deployed small cells mounted on street poles, traffic lights, other structures.
Jack Tibbetts, a member of the Santa Rosa, Calif., city council, knew he had a problem. It was early 2018, and he’d started getting calls from constituents at opposite ends of the political spectrum. The common thread: cellular antennas going up next to their homes, causing concerns over property values and health.
The weight of evidence suggests that if radio-frequency emissions have any effect on humans at all, it is, according to the World Health Organization, about on par with other “possibly carcinogenic” substances, including coffee and pickles. The Federal Communications Commission, citing input from the Food and Drug Administration, recently declared that existing limits on the amount of radio-frequency energy these antennas put out make them safe. A senior FCC official said there is nothing unique to 5G networks that poses additional health risks.
None of this has stopped the social-media-fueled conspiracy whirligig that allows health scares to thrive on the internet.
Cities and towns throughout Northern California are issuing ordinances that would exclude new 5G cell sites from residential areas, citing supposed health concerns. Residents of Portland, Ore., and Whitefish, Mont., have also cited these beliefs while lobbying for restrictions. Legislators in four states including New Hampshire have proposed bills that would mandate further study of health effects or else urge Congress to do so, and Congressman Thomas Suozzi (D., N.Y.) wrote to the FCC echoing these concerns.
For Mr. Tibbetts, it didn’t matter whether or not these new “small cell” antennas—which are used for 4G networks but can be upgraded for 5G—going up in Santa Rosa were actually dangerous. Some were attached to utility poles a mere 20 feet from people’s bedroom windows, and residents complained Verizon had put them up without notifying them. What mattered was that his constituents didn’t want these ungainly chunks of public infrastructure anywhere near them.
“I don’t like the idea of someone being in their home and it’s supposed to be a place of security, and they are having that feeling of insecurity,” Mr. Tibbetts says. “I won’t be surprised if in 10 years there’s no evidence of cancer from these towers, but my job is not to protect Verizon, it’s to protect people in their houses.”
Whatever the basis for residents’ objections to new cell towers, Mr. Tibbetts—as well as countless mayors, governors and council members across the country—have little or no power under current rules to act on their constituents’ wishes. Nor do they have the leeway they once did to set pricing for cell sites, a lucrative source of funding for civic initiatives. Those who do take action are creating ordinances that put their cities at risk of being sued by the telecoms, as happened this month in Rochester, N.Y.
Billed as the key to the future—of telecommunications, of global competition, of innovation and even of municipal infrastructure—5G has instead become a bone of contention. In addition to upgrading existing towers, it will require an estimated half-million new towers and small-cell sites on utility poles, lampposts and buildings. Experts also anticipate a long rollout period, potentially of a decade or more.
Most cities want 5G, but they don’t want to be told how, when and at what cost. Rules the FCC has already passed, meant to expedite 5G’s rollout, might well be creating acrimony that serves to do the exact opposite.
“My personal reason for doing this is I believe that humanity is threatened,” says Sandi Maurer, a member of the activist group EMF Safety Network, which lobbies to reduce people’s exposure to electromagnetic fields.
Partly as a result of such activism, many towns in Marin County, Calif., have passed ordinances or resolutions that limit 5G cell sites in residential areas. Towns like Mill Valley specify zones where towers aren’t permitted, and may also require them to be a certain distance from each other. In 2018, Verizon withdrew its application to install two small cells in Sebastopol, Calif., rather than sue the city or refer the matter to the FCC.
But since then, the FCC has rolled out its 5G Fast plan requiring cities and states to approve new 5G antennas within 60 or 90 days. It also limits what government leaders can charge carriers for the real estate on which the new infrastructure will hang—be it a utility pole, streetlight or even building facade.
Carriers love this plan. A spokesman for AT&T referred to a statement lauding the FCC’s new rules, saying they “will help ensure that, through tried and true free-market incentives, all Americans no matter where they live will enjoy the benefits of jobs, investment, and economic growth this new technology will foster.” A Verizon spokesman said, “We’re looking for reasonable access and reasonable prices so that we can deploy 5G effectively and promptly to communities and the people who live and work in them.”
FCC chairman Ajit Pai and President Trump have both said that widespread deployment of next-generation 5G wireless networks is critical to winning the race with China. A spokesman for the FCC referred to previous statements by the agency: “To enable broadband providers to enter new markets and deploy high-speed networks, access to poles must be swift, predictable, safe and affordable.”
City leaders say their power to zone and regulate infrastructure is being abridged. More than 90 cities and counties have joined together in a lawsuit, currently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that the FCC has overstepped its authority. A decision could happen as early as in the spring, but it could also take much longer.
San Jose, Calif., has already permitted 596 small-cell sites, all of which can be upgraded to 5G, says Shireen Santosham, the city’s chief innovation officer. When that rollout began, San Jose signed agreements with telecoms for between $750 a pole and $2,500 a pole for the new small-cell sites. If the cities lose their suit against the FCC, San Jose might be forced to charge less than the lowest amount it had previously charged per pole.
The city very much wants a 5G rollout, says Mayor Sam Liccardo. But like other cities, San Jose wants to be able to charge higher prices for use of its infrastructure, not only to fund staffing to expedite permits for new sites but also to supply the $1 million to $2 million needed to support a program to deliver broadband access to poor households.
“If we lose the money, the program pretty much grinds to a halt,” says Ms. Santosham. “Deployment will slow down, and the money to close the digital divide goes away.”
This sort of thing could happen in other cities, despite FCC rules that say permits are automatically approved after 60 or 90 days, says Mr. Liccardo. “There are lots of ways for local bureaucracies to make it difficult even when the federal government says they must,” he adds.
Blair Levin, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a former chief of staff for FCC chairman Reed Hundt, said, “What the wireless guys are asking is for cities to treat them totally different than every other entity asking for construction permits. I think it will backfire because, in the fullness of time, instead of a cooperative relationship you’ll get a hostile relationship.”
The prime example is Rochester, which was on the receiving end of a lawsuit filed by Verizon on Aug. 8. Verizon claims the city’s code violates FCC rules by “imposing upon wireless providers non-cost-based fees on the deployment and maintenance of small wireless facilities.” Translation: Verizon thinks the city is charging too much rent for space on its utility poles where 5G antennas would be installed. A city spokesman says the fees are in line with what other providers pay and calls the suit frivolous.
“The federal framework calls for nondiscriminatory access at cost-based rates, and that is what we are seeking,” said a Verizon spokesman. “That means the federal rules prohibit special treatment.”
Big and Ugly
The health argument is hard to take to court because the FCC has sole discretion over whether the emissions of an electronic device are safe, a right unquestioned by any current court cases or pending federal legislation. A different—and so far more successful—tack has been to challenge carriers on the size and shape of the 5G cells.
In a legal challenge to the FCC’s current rules undertaken by the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, the D.C. Circuit Court recently ruled against the FCC, asserting, among other things, that 5G “small cells” aren’t nearly as small as advertised.
In its brief, the industry has said these new antennas are only as big as a pizza box, and that in other respects they are comparable to home Wi-Fi routers. But the court said that, especially when they sit atop newly installed towers, they are in fact big and obtrusive enough that they require a review of their environmental impact, and that they are subject to historic-preservation rules.
“Even if only 20% of small cells required new construction, as one wireless company estimates and the FCC highlights in its brief…that could entail as many as 160,000 densely spaced 50-foot towers,” writes the court.
Despite all this conflict, most cities remain eager for telecoms to bring 5G to their streets, says Craig Moffett, founder and senior analyst at MoffettNathanson, a communications research firm. The industry is promising a veritable cornucopia of fantastical technologies will flow from ubiquitous, ultrafast wireless—a smarter city where your autonomous car, your augmented-reality headset and your self-emptying trash bin are always in constant contact.
“It may be in retrospect we look back and laugh at how silly we all were at wondering what applications this will be used for,” Mr. Moffett said.
Write to Christopher Mims at firstname.lastname@example.org
OVERVIEW OF RISKS INTRODUCED BY 5G ADOPTION IN THE U.S., by the Department of Homeland Security
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) assesses that Fifth Generation Mobile Network (5G) will present opportunities and challenges, and its implementation will introduce vulnerabilities related to supply chains, deployment, network security, and the loss of competition and trusted options.
Use of 5G components manufactured by untrusted companies could expose U.S. entities to risks introduced by malicious software and hardware, counterfeit components, and component flaws caused by poor manufacturing processes and maintenance procedures. 5G hardware, software, and services provided by untrusted entities could increase the risk of compromise to the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of network assets. Even if U.S. networks are secure, U.S. data that travels
overseas through untrusted telecommunication networks is potentially at risk of interception, manipulation, disruption, and destruction.
5G will use more components than previous generations of wireless networks, and the proliferation of 5G infrastructure may provide malicious actors more attack vectors. The effectiveness of 5G’s security
enhancements will in part depend on proper implementation and configuration.
Despite security enhancement over previous generations, it’s unknown what new vulnerabilities may be discovered in 5G networks. Further, 5G builds upon previous generations of wireless networks and will initially be integrated into 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) networks that contain some legacy vulnerabilities.
Untrusted companies may be less likely to participate in interoperability efforts. Custom 5G technologies that do not meet interoperability standards may be difficult to update, repair, and
replace. This potentially increases the lifecycle cost of the product and delays 5G deployment if the equipment requires replacement. The lack of interoperability may also have negative impacts on the competitive market as companies could be driven out if the available competitive market decreases.
by Joshua Builta, IHS Markit analyst
Editor’s Note: Video streaming would be considered to be a subset of Enhanced Mobile Broadband-the most popular 5G use case.
The 5G era is set to drive the next wave of growth in video streaming, with 78 percent of U.S. consumers indicating they will expand this activity as they adopt the next-generation wireless standard in smartphones and home-networking solutions, according to a survey conducted by IHS Markit Digital Orbit.
When asked to name which types of activities they are likely to increase due to the arrival of 5G, consumers ranked video streaming first, ahead of video calling, social media, mobile gaming, virtual reality and augmented reality. As a result, the deployment of 5G will help cause video usage to grow to account for 70 percent of mobile network traffic in 2022, up from 47 percent in 2015.
“The promise of faster video streaming through 5G is generating enormous enthusiasm among consumers,” said Joshua Builta, senior principal analyst for IHS. “Interest is particularly high for those younger than 50, with 81 percent of survey respondents in that age range citing video streaming as the top activity for 5G. Consumers are expressing strong interest in video streaming both on smartphones and for home internet services, which are equally supported by 5G.”
Smartphone streaming moves to 4K:
Current 4G wireless services already provide sufficient performance to support most types of video content commonly streamed today. As a result, 5G’s largest impact will be felt in emerging areas of the market.
One of these areas is 4K ultra-high definition (UHD) video. The 5G NR 3GPP spec enables 4K on mobile platforms because of its increased capacity and speed. When coupled with the growing demand and supply of 4K UHD content, the proliferation of 5G will help drive mobile consumption of UHD content.
The 5G standard (IMT 2020) will also be critical to promoting the consumption of general live video. This is particularly true for sports and live events, where lower latency and higher speed and bandwidth are critical.
Home 5G promotes video streaming:
In parallel with the trends in the smartphone market, US consumers are expressing intense interest in engaging in 5G video streaming via home internet access.
Most consumers say they are attracted to 5G (proprietary or 3GPP 5G NR) fixed wireless access (FWA) by its faster speeds. The average speed of broadband connections in the US in 2018 was about 35 megabits per second. In contrast, 5G can theoretically operate at up to 1 gigabit per second, although initial deployments will be much slower.
Survey respondents cited streaming of video, both prerecorded and live, as the most compelling reason to upgrade home internet service. A total of 74 percent of those surveyed named video streaming as the chief motivation for upgrading to 5G in the home.
This phenomenon is not surprising as IHS Markit forecasts that global over-the-top (OTT) video subscriptions will pass the 1 billion mark in 2021, up from 620 million at the end of last year. In 2022, OTT video subscriptions will surpass pay-TV subscriptions.
About IHS Markit Digital Orbit:
IHS Markit’s Digital Orbit report summarizes the results of a survey on how consumers perceive 5G and how they intend to use the new technology. The survey was conducted May 22-27 among 2,031 respondents, 95 percent of whom were US-based. The median age of the survey respondents was 43, and 63 percent lived in urban areas.
Pre-standard “5G” roll outs continue and the latest Evolution of LTE to 5G report from GSA identifies 884 operators actively investing in LTE, with 769 operational LTE networks in 225 countries, 194 VoLTE capable networks and 296 operators in 100 countries investing in 5G with 39 – 3GPP Release 15 (5G NR NSA) compliant 5G networks launched – some with limited service.
High end devices are also growing in popularity with more CAT-12 and above devices coming to market and 100 5G devices now announced. GSA expects 5G to be deployed much faster than 4G which took 7 years to reach 100 million subscriptions. We expect 5G to reach 100 million subscriptions in less than 5 years.
GSA Market Research Findings:
• 884 operators actively investing in LTE, including those evaluating/ testing and trialling LTE and those paying for suitable spectrum licences (excludes those using technology neutral licences exclusively for 2G or 3G services).
• 769 operators running LTE networks providing mobile and/or FWA services in 225 countries worldwide.
• 194 commercial VoLTE networks in 91 countries and a total of 262 operators investing in VoLTE in 120 countries.
• 304 launched or launched (limited availability) LTE-Advanced networks in 134 countries. Overall, 335 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced technology in 141 countries.
• Ten launched networks that support user equipment (UE) at Cat-18 DL speeds within limited geographic areas, and one supporting Cat-19 (in a limited area).
• 228 operators with TDD licences and at least 164 operators with launched LTE-TDD networks.
• 151 operators investing in NB-IoT in 72 countries; of these, 98 NB-IoT networks are deployed/launched in 53 countries. 62 operators are investing in LTE-M/Cat-M1 in 36 countries; of these, 38 LTE-M/Cat-M1 networks are deployed/commercially launched in 26 countries. • 296 operators in 100 countries have launched with limited availability, deployed, demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of mobile 5G or FWA 5G.
• 56 operators in 32 countries have announced the deployment of 5G within their live network.
• 39 operators have announced 3GPP 5G service launches (or limited service launches).
The drivers of LTE, LTE-Advanced, LTE-Advanced Pro and increasingly 5G, for operators are more capacity, enhanced performance and improved efficiencies to lower delivery cost. Compared with 3G, LTE offered a big step up in the user experience, enhancing demanding apps such as interactive TV, video blogging, advanced gaming and professional services. Deployment of LTE-Advanced technologies – and particularly carrier aggregation – takes performance to a new level and is a major current focus of the industry. Interest in LTE-Advanced Pro is high too, bringing with it new, globally standardised LPWA solutions – LTE Cat-M1 (LTE-M, eMTC) and Cat-NB1 (NB-IoT) – and new business opportunities. And while LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro solutions have yet to be deployed by the majority of operators, vendors and network operators are already looking towards 5G and its potential to meet future capacity, connectivity and service requirements.
Spectrum for LTE deployments:
Pressure for spectrum is high and operators need to deploy the most efficient technologies available. LTE, LTE-Advanced and LTE-Advanced Pro services can be deployed in dozens of spectrum bands starting at 450 MHz and rising to nearly 6 GHz. The most-used bands in commercial LTE networks are 1800 MHz (Band 3), which is a mainstream choice for LTE in most regions; 800 MHz (Band 20 and regional variations) for extending coverage and improving in-building services; 2.6 GHz (FDD Band 7) as a major capacity band; and 700 MHz (with variations in spectrum allocated around the world) again for coverage improvement. The now-completed LTE standards enable the possibility to extend the benefits of LTE-Advanced to unlicensed and shared spectrum.
There are several options for deploying LTE in unlicensed spectrum. The GSA report LTE in Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum: Trials, Deployments and Devices gives details of market progress in the use of LAA, eLAA, LTE-U, LWA and activity in the CBRS band.
Many recent allocations/auctions of spectrum have focused on licensing unused spectrum – including pockets of spectrum in the 2 to 4 GHz range, but also at lower frequencies – for LTE and future 5G services. This spectrum is sometimes dedicated to LTE, sometimes to 5G and sometimes allocated on a technology-neutral basis.
VoLTE global status:
In total GSA has identified 262 operators investing in VoLTE in 120 countries, including 194 operators that have launched VoLTE voice services in 91 countries. There have been recent launches in India, Hungary, Iran, Maldives, Kenya, Mexico, Tuvalu, Ireland, New Zealand and Nieu.
GSA is aware of at least 30 operators deploying VoLTE and nearly 40 other operators planning VoLTE or are testing/trialling the technology. The GSA report VoLTE and ViLTE: Global Market Update, published in August 2019, gives more detail.
LTE-Advanced global status:
Investment in LTE-Advanced networks continues to grow. By July 2019, there were 304 commercially launched LTE-Advanced networks in 134 countries. Overall, 335 operators are investing in LTE-Advanced (in the form of tests, trials, deployments or commercial service provision) in 141 countries.
Many operators with LTE-Advanced networks are looking to extend their capabilities by adding 3GPP Release 13 or Release 14 LTE-Advanced Pro features, e.g. those making use of carrier aggregation of large numbers of channels, or carriers across TDD and FDD modes, LAA, massive MIMO, Mission-Critical Push-to-Talk, LTE Cat-NB1/NB-IoT or LTE-M/Cat-M1.
The GSA report LTE in Unlicensed and Shared Spectrum: Trials, Deployments and Devices tracks the progress of LAA/eLAA, LWA and LTE-U. By July 2019, there were 37 operators investing in LAA (including eight deployed/launched networks), 11 operators investing in LTE-U (including three launched/deployed networks) and three investing in LWA (including one launched network). One operator had undertaken trials of eLAA.
Carrier aggregation has been the dominant feature of LTE-Advanced networks. Varying numbers of carriers and varying amounts of total bandwidth have been aggregated in trials and demos, but in commercial networks, the greatest number of carriers aggregated (where we have data) is five. Some trials and demos have also aggregated up to ten carriers, for instance SK Telecom’s trial in South Korea.
Pre-standard 5G global status:
GSA has identified 296 operators in 100 countries that have launched (limited availability or non-3GPP networks), demonstrated, are testing or trialling, or have been licensed to conduct field trials of 5G-enabling and candidate technologies (up from 235 operators in May 2019).
Detailed analysis of speeds and spectrum used for 5G trials to date is available in the report Global Progress to 5G – Trials, Deployments and Launches on the GSA website. Operators continue to provide clarity about their intentions in terms of launch timetables for 5G or pre-standards 5G. GSA has identified 56 operators in 32 countries that have stated that they have activated one or more 5G sites within their live commercial network (excludes those that have only deployed test sites).
The number that have announced the launch of commercial services remains much lower however, as operators have had to await the availability of 5G devices. These have now started to appear, removing the market blockage.
GSA has identified 100 announced devices (excluding regional variants and prototypes) and a handful of these are now available for customers to buy and use. See GSA’s report 5G Device Ecosystem, published monthly, for more details.
GSA knows of 39 operators who have (as of 6 August 2019) announced 3GPP compatible 5G service launches (either mobile or FWA, some with limited availability): we understand there are ten operators with FWA-only services, 15 with mobile-only services, and 14 with both mobile and FWA services. All services are initially restricted in terms of either geographic availability, devices availability, or the types and numbers of customers being provided with services.
Among recent service launches (or limited service launches) are those by three operators in Kuwait (Viva, Zain and Ooredoo), Batelco in Bahrain, T-Mobile and Vodafone in Germany, Vodafone in the UK, Digi Mobile in Romania, Monaco Telecom and Dhiraagu in the Maldives.
Cellular LPWANs for IoT:
The start of 2019 has continued to see strong growth in the number of cellular IoT networks based on NB-IoT and LTE-M. By July 2019, there were 151 operators investing in NB IoT in 72 countries, up from 148 operators in 71 countries in May 2019. The number of deployed/launched NB-IoT networks was 98 in 53 countries, up from 78 operators in 45 countries in January 2019. There are 62 operators investing in LTE-M networks in 36 countries, up from 57 operators in 34 countries in January 2019. Thirty-eight operators have deployed/launched LTE-M networks in 26 countries, up from 30 operators in January 2019. Orange Spain launched its LTE-M network in June 2019.
Altogether 55 countries now have at least either a launched NB-IoT network or a launched LTE-M network and 24 of those countries have both network types.
GSA will continue tracking the progress of 5G deployments worldwide. GSA reports are compiled from data stored in the GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices/Data (GAMBoD) database, which is a GSA Member and Associate benefit.
Much of the GSA activity is working on spectrum and the upcoming WRC-19 conference in October/November. If you would like to meet up with GSA in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt at the conference, please email email@example.com
Huawei’s 5G network equipment business:
Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s founder and CEO, says that his company will produce more than 2 million base stations over the next 18 months, regardless of whether the US decides to remove it from the Entity List. Zhengfei said that while the US’ decision to add Huawei to the entity list was profoundly unjust, it would have little impact on the company’s productivity – particularly with regards to its 5G network equipment.
How many more will they ship after IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT has been standardized by ITU-R in late 2020?
“First of all, please note that adding us to the Entity List was not fair. Huawei has not done anything wrong but was still placed on this list. This list didn’t have that much impact on us. Most of our more advanced equipment does not contain U.S. components, despite the fact that we used their components in the past. These newest versions of our equipment even function 30% more efficiently than before,” he said.
“In August and September, we will undergo a run-in period before we can mass produce these new versions. So, we can only produce around 5,000 base stations each month during that period. Following that, we will be able to produce 600,000 5G base stations this year and at least 1.5 million next year. That means we don’t need to rely on U.S. companies for our survival in this area,” Ren explained.
Ren Zhengfei, Huawei’s founder and CEO says the conflict with the U.S. has exceeded what he had previously thought.
While the impact on Huawei’s network infrastructure business is expected to be minimal, being added to the Entity List does create problems for Huawei’s handset business, particularly as the company looks to reel in its rival Samsung and claim top spot in the market. If Huawei were to be permanently added to the Entity List, it would lose access to Google’s Android operating system, which the company uses as standard on all its smartphone handsets.
“I could never have expected this controversy to be so intense though,” Ren said in a recent interview with Sky. “We knew that if there were two teams climbing up the same mountain from opposing sides, we would eventually meet on the peak and we may clash. We just didn’t expect this clash to be so intense and lead to this kind of conflict between the state apparatus of a country and a company.”
Ren has reportedly sent out another memo detailing the fallout of the conflict, which does finally seem to be hitting home. Job cuts are on the horizon, with replicative staff facing the axe and a simplified management structure promised. Contracts and payments will face higher scrutiny also, to keep an eye on free cash flow, while R&D seems to have been impacted also.
Android vs HarmonyOS on Huawei smartphones:
Huawei’s preference has always been to continue to use the Android operating system on its handsets, however, the US’ latest political campaign has forced the company to bring forward the release of its own OS, HarmonyOS.
“Google is a great company. We have a sound relationship with Google. We have signed many agreements with Google over the years. We still want to use Google’s system in our devices and develop within its ecosystem. Because of this, we hope that the U.S. government will approve the sale of Google’s system to us. There are billions of Android system users and billions of Windows system users around the world. Banning one or two companies from using these systems won’t help ensure the security of the U.S. as a country, so they should keep their doors open.”
“If the U.S. doesn’t want to sell the Android system to us, we will have no choice but to develop our own ecosystem. This isn’t something that can be achieved overnight. We estimate that it will take us two or three years to build this ecosystem. In light of all this, we don’t believe we will be able to become the number one player in the device sector any time soon,” Ren added.
Huawei is already the undisputed leader in optical network and cellular network equipment. They are destined to be #1 in 5G network gear sales, independent of the U.S. sanctions and bans. Huawei is also #2 in global smartphone sales (Samsung is #1). And they’ve introduced a host of new innovative products like the Honor Vision smart screen.
While Americans shamefully excuse the isolation of Huawei as a wise action rooted in “national security” and an aversion to thievery, they don’t realize that Huawei has 80,000 R&D employees (mostly in China) and it spent $15 billion on R&D in 2018 alone. Of course, the Chinese government may have directly or indirectly funded much of that R&D but it is what’s contributed hugely to Huawei’s success.
T-Mobile US just opened a brand-new device lab designed to analyze performance and pressure test devices across the Un-carrier’s range of current and future 5G spectrum, as well as all current technologies. The new, 20,000 square foot facility will test 5G devices as well as devices which enable License Assisted Access, narrowband IoT, LTE and 3G. The new T-Mo test facility, known as the Launch Pad, also houses the carrier’s 5G Tech Experience showcase for 4G and 5G, in addition to T-Mobile US’ network lab.
Why it matters: New technology requires new and innovative approaches to testing, and the new lab will help T-Mobile ensure customers have the best experience possible with their new 5G devices.
The Un-carrier said in a press release that the new lab consists of more than a dozen testing areas, ranging from radio frequency signal testing to voice call/sound quality, video optimization and data throughput testing; “in-depth testing” of software, applications and services; and durability testing including drop-testing, water testing and sensitivity to heat. Further, the lab has equipment to test devices across a range of frequencies from low-band and mid-band to millimeter wave — in both its “current and planned” 5G spectrum, which is expected to expand considerably, if its proposed merger with Sprint is finalized.
T-Mo said the new device lab “is equipped with new, rigorous tests to ensure smartphones, IoT devices and any other connected devices take full advantage of the high-, mid- and low-band spectrum from New T-Mobile 5G, if the merger is approved.”
T-Mobile US said that the Launch Pad is designed to bring device and network quality engineers together to innovate and refine technologies from end-to-end before delivering them to customers” — which it said it critical for 5G, which is a combination of new tech in both devices and the network itself.
“5G will unlock SO MANY new capabilities and opportunities for innovation. And with that comes new complexities in delivering the technology to customers,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile. “We’ve evolved in this new era of wireless to deliver continuous innovation and the best 5G experience possible — from the network to the devices in their hands — which is why I’m So. Damn. Proud. of this amazing team and cutting-edge lab,” he emphatically added.
The lab includes:
–Sub-6 GHz 5G Radio Performance Chamber: A test chamber for sub-6 GHz 5G testing, which has more than 50 antennas at different angles in order to assess signal quality transmission and reception.
–5G Millimeter Wave Antenna Range: A mmWave test chamber, complete with magenta “T” logo.
–Multi-band 5G SmartLab Chambers: A series of what the Un-carrier calls “5G SmartLab Chambers,” which support all of its current and planned 5G spectrum. T-Mo said that within those chambers, engineers can test devices across different combinations of spectrum and technologies.
–Software Performance Lab: A device software testing area, which contains machines that the carrier said are capable of “simulating a week’s worth of customer usage in just 24 hours,” including testing the device keyboard, battery life, and applications from voice calls and music to gaming, videos, texting, email and more. Devices have to run continuously for 24 hours and perform hundreds of tasks without any glitches or freezes, T-Mobile US added.
–Hardware Pressure Testing Room: A room for testing the durability of device hardware, where devices are put in machines which tumble and drop them, or that subject them to a wide range of temperatures to ensure that they continue to operate.
5G Smartphone Sales in U.S. are minuscule:
According to BayStreet Research via Lightreading, U.S. wireless network operators sold just 29,000 5G devices by the end of the second quarter. And the firm predicts that the number won’t grow much throughout 2019.
“It’s very small volume,” said Cliff Maldonado, the firm’s founder. “The value proposition [for 5G devices] isn’t clear.”
Pre-standard 5G is definitely in its infancy in the U.S. It only launched a few months ago, and it’s only available in a handful of cities on just a few phones. And those phones aren’t cheap: The Samsung Galaxy S10 5G for Verizon starts at an eye-popping $1,300, for example.
BayStreet Research says 5G phones haven’t been selling very well.
Unlisted in the above chart is the 5G Moto Mod, an accessory that customers can snap on to a handful of existing Motorola smartphones that will allow them to access Verizon’s 5G network. Maldonado estimated just 1,000 to 2,000 sales of that gadget.
BayStreet obtains its figures from public and private data sources. Maldonado pointed out that the company’s third and fourth quarter figures are estimates. He also noted that the forecasts of 5G phone sales in the coming quarters don’t — and can’t — include as-yet-unannounced devices.
Many in the industry have argued that the rollout of 5G in the US could ultimately take up to ten years, considering operators will need to deploy 5G across more potentially millions more small cells, using a wide range of spectrum bands and will have to invest in technologies like mobile edge computing. For now, in the early days of 5G, most potential customers are staying on the sidelines.
It’s extremely important to realize that a given 5G smartphone will only work on one carrier’s network, e.g. an AT&T 5G phone won’t work on Verizon’s 5G network. That’s because each pre-standard 5G wireless carrier uses different RIT specs (most are based on 3GPP Rel 15 NR NSA for the data plane with LTE signaling for the control plane and EPC for the mobile packet core) and different frequencies. So your so called 5G phone will fall back to 4G if you are not in range of your carrier’s pre-standard 5G network. That means limited mobility and certainly none when you travel to a city where your carrier doesn’t have 5G coverage.
All these pre-standard 5G deployments will be trashed and ditched when the IMT 2020 standard is completed and implemented in new standard IMT 2020 phones and base stations/small cells.
Separately, IHS-Markit reports that the cost of the initial wave of 5G phones is dramatically exceeding expectations, with the price premium as much as 29 times higher than many consumers anticipate, according to a new IHS Markit survey examining consumer perceptions regarding the technology.
A total of 91 percent of survey respondents said they expect to pay more for 5G devices compared to existing 4G LTE smartphones. Three quarters of respondents stated they foresee paying an additional 10 to 25 percent for a 5G-capable phone. With the average sales price (ASP) of a smartphone amounting to $319 in 2019, a 10 percent hike in pricing would add $32 to the cost, while a 25 percent increase would boost it by $80.
However, the actual pricing of the first wave of 5G phones is far higher. For instance, Samsung’s S10 5G phone is retail priced at $1,300, a 335 percent premium compared to the $388 average for the company’s existing 4G smartphone models. In dollar terms, this would represent a $912 increase in price, an order of magnitude higher than consumers’ expectations.
It should be noted that this comparison is of a flagship smartphone price against an industry ASP. Naturally, newer technologies almost always come first to premium smartphones, which typically are two to three times as much as industry ASP. Also, given the nature of 5G radio design, these early 5G smartphones are configured with larger-than-typical displays and packed with extra features such as time-of-flight (ToF) cameras to enable AR applications. All of these extras do contribute to a higher-than-expected retail price from a consumer perspective.
In another example, the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G smartphone carries a retail price of $1,200, a more than 400 percent premium compared to $295 for the company’s 4G models.
This pricing discrepancy could instill sticker shock among many consumers. While such pricing premium is not likely to impact early adopters, it could slow sales of 5G devices to the wider, more mainstream consumer market.
“The 5G market is primed for massive growth, with the transition to the new technology expected to occur at a much faster pace than any previous wireless generation during the first five years of deployment,” said Joshua Builta, senior principal analyst at IHS Markit. “However, as with each new wireless generation, the first wave of phones carries sky-high costs because of the additional electronics required to support the enhanced features. With smartphone brands passing these additional costs down to consumers, many buyers will be turned off by the high prices and will wait until they come down before purchasing a 5G phone.”
Expectation of price premium for 5G smartphones:
Fast wireless technology makes slow initial progress:
Global 5G handset shipments are expected to soar to 424.5 million units in 2023. However, shipments will start rather modestly, amounting to just 9.5 million in 2019—the first year of deployment—and only 73.7 million in 2020. This represents a slower initial rate than for 4G LTE when it first deployed a decade ago, although the longer-term outlook for subscriber growth for 5G is more optimistic than for 4G.
The early 5G smartphones analyzed by IHS Markit demonstrate why their cost and pricing is so elevated. For example, some 5G phones include a highly complex radio-frequency (RF) subsystem designed to support millimeter wave capability for high-speed data transfer. Specifically, in the U.S., the Moto Z3 with 5G Mod and a version of the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G both integrate multiple separate millimeter wave antenna modules that are strategically placed throughout the device to allow clear signal reception. When considering that most smartphone designs employ just one antenna module, it’s easy to see how this redundant design drives up costs significantly.
Lower prices for a bigger market:
However, just as occurred in the 4G LTE era, 5G phone pricing is expected to decline quickly. Prices will begin to decrease next year as phone OEMs use more efficient designs employing multimode modems. Within the next few years, prices will fall to between the $700 to $800 range, making them more affordable for price-conscious consumers. Elsewhere, markets such as China will deploy a standalone (SA) 5G network which will further simplify RF front-end design requirements to further push down the industry ASP.
Many consumers equate 5G with faster data speeds and aren’t aware of the technology’s other benefits. As a result, their low expectations for pricing premiums may not take into account all of the advantages and allures of 5G technology.
For example, improved immersive entertainment experiences like virtual reality (VR) have been cited as a key benefit of 5G. The 5G standard eventually can provide the kind of ultra-low latency that VR requires. However, fewer than 30 percent of survey respondents said they would increase their use of VR with the arrival of 5G.
As the market waits for prices to decline, brands may be able to overcome consumer reticence regarding pricing by promoting the other attributes of 5G beyond speed.
About IHS Markit Digital Orbit:
IHS Markit’s Digital Orbit report summarizes the results of a survey on how consumers perceive 5G and how they intend to use the new technology. The survey was conducted May 22-27 among 2,031 respondents, 95 percent of whom were US-based. The median age of the survey respondents was 43, and 63 percent lived in urban areas.
By Sara Castellanos of the Wall Street Journal
Samsung Electronics Co. is testing how 5G wireless networks can speed up connections at its chip-making factory in Austin, Texas, a pilot that aims to prove 5G is more than a buzzword. The company is experimenting with the new technology to show what ultra-fast speeds can do at its Austin chip factory
The company has teamed up with AT&T Inc. ’s communications division to develop a customized 5G network to experiment with how it could be used in chip manufacturing.
The fifth generation of cellular networking, 5G is designed to replace current 4G technology, also known as LTE. The ultrafast speeds and reduced lag that will come with 5G will buttress new applications such as augmented reality and self-driving cars. Peak download speeds using 5G are expected to be about 100 times as fast as with 4G.
The transformation that will come from widespread commercial 5G deployments in manufacturing, logistics, transportation and energy is still about a decade away, experts have said. That’s partly because it will take time to roll out the infrastructure to achieve full 5G coverage.
In the meantime, Samsung and other companies are testing 5G’s potential in limited pilots to show what the technology can do.
“We’re still in the experimentation phase, but we’re hopeful there’s value,” said Alok Shah, vice president of networks strategy, business development and marketing at Samsung Electronics America, the company’s U.S. unit.
Factories will be a big beneficiary of 5G connections, said Andre Fuetsch, chief technology officer for AT&T Communications, AT&T’s biggest division.
“We see 5G being a great solution for solving a lot of the Wi-Fi issues that typical factories have today,” he said. The technology, for example, could be used on manufacturing floors to power more reliable connections for computer-vision-scanning equipment that checks product quality.
AT&T has also rolled out consumer 5G networks in about 20 U.S. cities.
Samsung Electronics America and AT&T have invested millions of dollars in 5G innovation at Samsung’s chip-manufacturing facility in Austin. Thousands of employees work at the chip factory, which is the size of about 10 football fields, Mr. Shah said.
Chip-making uses a lot of water and toxic chemicals; 5G could help chip factories cut waste and alert workers to safety hazards.
For example, 5G would allow more sensors to be installed to detect air quality, Mr. Shah said. Streaming real-time data from the sensors over 5G networks would mean that a control center can immediately detect serious air-quality hazards and move people out of harm’s way. Sensors in factories today can’t rely on existing wireless networks to pass along warnings to a control center, Mr. Shah said.
“Being able to put thousands of sensors within a relatively small space is hard for other [networking] technologies to support,” Mr. Shah said. Certain networks can only support a finite number of devices. Fifth-generation wireless networks could support 1 million devices per square kilometer, up from about 100,000 devices per square kilometer with 4G LTE, he said.
Sensors on pumps and valves could also stream data about water usage over 5G networks so the facility can improve the efficiency of its water usage in real time and reduce waste.
Using 5G connections, workers could also learn how to repair equipment on the factory floor through augmented and virtual-reality headsets without any buffering or lags.
Other companies including New York Times Co. and German engineering firm Robert Bosch GmbH are testing 5G in pilots. The market for 5G, including related network infrastructure, is forecast to grow to $26 billion in 2022 from $528 million in 2018, according to research firm International Data Corp.
The tests are often “showcase demonstration pieces,” useful for proving that 5G could generate revenue through new services or make processes more efficient, said Jason Leigh, research manager for mobility and 5G at IDC.
“The sooner you can get something tangible, it makes it easier to have that discussion at a C-suite and board level about what 5G really is, and it’s not just this fad,” Mr. Leigh said.
Write to Sara Castellanos at firstname.lastname@example.org
Last September, AT&T and Samsung created the US’s first manufacturing-focused 5G “Innovation Zone” in Austin, TX. The zone, designed to test 5th generation wireless broadband technology, will be on Samsung Austin Semiconductor’s 160-acre campus in north Austin. The site will feature AT&T’s 5G wireless technology along with Samsung’s 5G network equipment, according to an announcement Wednesday from the two companies.
Technology experts say 5G — which is essentially ultra high-speed wireless connections — will not only power future waves of mobile devices, but also will evolve technology in other industries like automotive and health care. Companies expect 5G to be up to 100 times faster than the current 4G networks.
“This collaboration with Samsung Electronics America and AT&T will help us test how a 5G network can improve mobility, performance and efficiencies within our plant,” Sang-Pil Sim, president of Samsung Austin Semiconductor, said in a statement.
South Korea-based Samsung has operated in Austin since 1997. About 3,000 employees work in the 2.45 million-square-foot Austin chip making plant. Samsung has invested $17 billion in its Austin campus through the years.