Charlie Ergen of Dish Network and Michael Dell of Dell Technologies have a plan to open up little-used wireless frequencies to millions of customers with a new 5G service. However, another billionaire strenuously objects. Elon Musk’s SpaceX filed an objection with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which governs airwaves distribution, saying the “scheme” would wreck his broadband-from-orbit service.
Dish Network responded with an FCC filing that accused SpaceX of “flimsy” and “far-fetched” criticism. RS Access LLC, a Dell company, cited what it calls SpaceX’s “long history of misleading information, rule-flaunting, and ad hominem attacks.”
The billionaires paths collide in a swath of spectrum known as the 12 gigahertz band [1.] Ergen and Dell have asked the FCC to allow higher-power traffic in 12 gigahertz airwaves they control in cities around the U.S. That’s 82 markets including New York and Chicago for Dish, and 60 markets including Austin, Texas and Omaha, Nebraska for Dell’s airwaves company, RS Access.
Note 1. 12 GHz (more precisely 12.2-12.7 GHz Band ) is NOT one of the approved frequency bands in the revision to ITU Recommendation M.1036-6, which specifies ALL frequency bands for the TERRESTRIAL component of IMT (including IMT 2020).
The 12 GHz spectrum band is currently restricted to one-way use. License holders include SpaceX, AT&T/DirecTV, Dish and other satellite providers, as well as companies that use the spectrum for downstream fixed wireless communications.
Some license holders, including Dish and fixed wireless provider RS Access, want the FCC to allow two-way use of the band. To support that view, RS Access submitted the RKF Engineering study that concluded that two-way use of the band would not interfere with incumbent users to the FCC.
Roberson and Associates found that 1 MHz of 12 GHz spectrum can carry 3.76 times as much data as 1 MHz of 28 GHz spectrum under peak throughput conditions.
Long-time 12 GHz 5G proponent RS Access refers to a report that identifies recent technology advances for making the 12 GHz band very desirable for 5G, including Massive MIMO, beamforming and 5G carrier aggregation.
This raucous battle of billionaires stands out on the ordinarily placid docket of the FCC, which is more often limited to detailed technical concerns such as antenna characteristics and signal power/ attenuation. It reflects the fortunes to be made as the U.S. moves toward 5G networks that will be used in many places, depending on the use case. A government auction earlier this year of 5G airwaves brought in $81 billion as the largest U.S. wireless providers snapped up frequencies; another airwaves sale that could net $25 billion is under way.
“It says they ain’t making spectrum no more!” said Tom Wheeler, a former FCC chairman. Spectrum describes the array of frequencies that companies use to offer telecommunications.
Space X also uses the 12 gigahertz frequencies. In FCC filings the company says the proposed higher-power signals could overwhelm the faint broadband signals that travel from its orbiting fleet of 1,500 or more satellites to customers’ rooftop receiving dishes.
Currently, services in the 12 gigahertz band are limited to low power under FCC rules designed to avoid interference with other users. Airwaves with higher power are typically worth more money, since their signals can travel farther and reach more customers. The increased potency can also increase the risk of overpowering other users’ signals.
Dish “has mastered the use of empty promises and attacks on competitors,” SpaceX told the FCC in a filing. Dell’s spectrum-holding RS Access told the FCC that SpaceX is offering a “false premise.” Dish then accused SpaceX of mounting an “attempt to obfuscate the issues.”
The fight has been brewing for at least five years. Dish and other holders of 12 gigahertz airwaves in 2016 asked the FCC to boost power for terrestrial users of the airwaves, citing skyrocketing demand for mobile data. At the time SpaceX’s first Starlink broadband satellite was three years from its 2019 launch. Dish and its partners at the time suggested satellite services should lose rights in the band.
Dell’s investment firm had made its purchase of 12 gigahertz airwaves via RS Access, which reached for influence inside the Beltway. It hired former House telecommunications counsel Justin Lilley, according to an October 2020 filing. Lilley’s roster of clients has included spectrum innovator Ligado Networks, wireless giant T-Mobile US and Facebook.
Lobbying expenses surged. Dell’s MSD Capital with no lobbying expenditures since its founding in 1998, spent $150,000 on lobbying in 2020, according to data compiled by Open Secrets, a non-profit that tracks money in Washington.
Dell called then-FCC Chairman Ajit Pai twice, in September and November of 2020. Ergen and Pai spoke in July of 2020. On Dec. 23, Musk called Pai — after two earlier calls between the two, according to FCC disclosure filings.
The FCC began its formal consideration with a 4-0 vote in January 2021, during the closing days of Pai’s tenure. The Republican left the agency following the presidential election, leaving the issue to the current FCC that is split 2-to-2 on partisan lines.
Supporters formed a coalition that includes Dish, Dell, policy groups and two trade groups that include Dish as a member. RS Access presented a 62-page technical study that concluded coexistence between the 5G use and the satellite services can be achieved.
SpaceX, in a filing, said the airwaves are worth far less. Still it said RS Access and Dish were seeking “a windfall” by leveraging airwaves that today are useless.
“You don’t have to have them removed from the band at all,” V. Noah Campbell, chief executive officer of RS Access, said in an interview with Bloomberg. Campbell likened the proposal to a water main that’s been used at low capacity. “We just want the pipe open,” he said.
The spectrum in question could be worth as much as $54 billion if the FCC allows the change, according to a study submitted to the FCC by a Dell owned company. SpaceX, in a filing, said the airwaves are worth far less. The company said RS Access and Dish were seeking “a windfall” by leveraging airwaves that today are useless.
Dish Network has emphasized expanded demands for its 5G service, which is designed to connect not just mobile phones, but also IoT devices including baby monitors, vehicles, aerial drones, tractors, and factory gear. Dish has emphasized expanded demands for 5G service, which is designed to connect not just mobile phones, but also devices including baby monitors, vehicles, aerial drones, tractors, and factory gear.
“This band is really good for 5G.,” Dish Executive Vice President Jeff Blum said in an interview with Bloomberg. “And it would be a missed opportunity if the commission left the status quo in place.”
ITU-R WP5D has initiated the development of a draft new edition of the Handbook on Global Trends in International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT). Fast development of mobile broadband worldwide urgently requires up-to-date general guidance on issues related to the deployment of IMT systems and the introduction/development of their IMT-2000, IMT-Advanced and IMT-2020 networks.
The Handbook on Global Trends in International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) provides general information such as service requirements, application trends, system characteristics, as well as substantive information on spectrum, regulatory issues, guidelines for evolution and migration, and core network evolution. Since this Handbook was published in 2015, it requires urgent substantial updates to be a valid reference publication for the ITU membership.
Working Party 5D has invited contributions from the membership with the objective of completing the draft for consideration for approval by Working Party 5D at its 7-18 February 2022 meeting, with a deadline for contributions of 1600 hours UTC, 31 January 2022.
This Handbook identifies International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) and provides the general information such as service requirements, application trends, system characteristics, and substantive information on spectrum, regulatory issues, guideline for the evolution and migration, and core network evolution on IMT.
This Handbook also addresses a variety of issues related to the deployment of IMT systems.
Purpose and scope:
The purpose and scope of this Handbook is to provide general guidance to ITU Members, network operators and other relevant parties on issues related to the deployment of IMT systems to facilitate decisions on selection of options and strategies for introduction of their IMT‑2000, IMT‑Advanced and IMT-2020 networks.
The Handbook focuses on the technical, operational and spectrum related aspects of IMT systems, including information on the deployment and technical characteristics of IMT as well as the services and applications supported by IMT.
This Handbook updates previous information on IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced. It also includes new information on IMT‑2020 from Recommendation ITU-R M.2150. In addition, the work from Report ITU-R M.2243 – Assessment of the global mobile broadband deployments and forecasts for International Mobile Telecommunications, is referenced regarding any future considerations that are identified. This Handbook has been and will continue to be a collaborative effort involving groups in the three ITU Sectors with ITU-R Working Party 5D assuming the lead, coordinating role and responsibility for developing text for the terrestrial aspects; with ITU-R Working Party 4B responsible for the satellite aspects, ITU-T Study Group 13 responsible for the core network aspects and ITU-D Q.25/2 responsible for the developing countries aspects.
Special attention has been given to needs of developing countries responding to the first part of Question ITU‑R 77/5 which decides that WP 5D should continue to study the urgent needs of developing countries for cost effective access to the global telecommunication networks.
This Handbook also includes summary of deliverables and on-going activities of WP 5D in order to provide an update for countries which are not able to attend 5D meetings.
One year after the 5G launch, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 confirms their 5G network will cover over 50 percent of the German population by the end of 2022. The company is also on track to cover of over 30 percent of the population by the end of 2021. The basis for this 5G network expansion is the investment of around four billion euros until the end of 2022.
The focus of this 5G network expansion is on so-called “pure 5G” via the mid-band 3.6 GHz frequency. The 3,000th 3.6 GHz antenna just went live in the O2 5G network. Meanwhile, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is installing around 180 of these 5G antennas in the network every week, tendency further increasing. The company is expanding 5G twice as fast overall compared to 4G and is fully on track to supply all of Germany with 5G by the end of 2025.
As with 2G, 3G and 4G, we are also bringing 5G to mass market readiness in Germany through rapid network expansion, network investments in the billions and products with the best price-performance ratio,” said CEO Markus Haas on the first anniversary of the 5G launch in the O2 network.
“Since the beginning, we have aligned the 5G roll-out with the concrete benefits for private customers and businesses. This is the most effective way for us to drive forward the urgently needed digitisation for business and consumers. Today, one year after the launch, our 5G network is already live in a hundred cities. And current international tests confirm that it is the fastest 5G network in Germany. Now we will also quickly bring the O2 5G network to the area.”
The added value of 5G for private customers in this early expansion phase, beyond the performance advantages, lies primarily in the additional network capacities provided by the new mobile communications standard. In the first half of 2021, the O2 mobile network transported 1 billion gigabytes of data, an absolute record. Cities are data traffic hotspots. The growing number of urban 5G users is increasingly shifting parts of this data traffic to the 5G network, thus relieving the 4G network. In this way, the O2 5G network also ensures a consistently good network experience for 4G users of all Telefónica Deutschland / O2 brands and partner brands.
Market penetration with 5G is visibly gaining speed. In the meantime, 5G smartphones account for more than 50 percent of all end devices sold through Telefónica Deutschland / O2 sales channels. In line with this, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is now moving the 5G network expansion more strongly into the area. Here, too, the telecommunications company is focusing on so-called “pure 5G” via the 3.6 GHz frequency. In the future, it will provide private and business users with multiple gigabit data speeds and response times (latency) of just a few milliseconds.
This is where “pure 5G” differs from the combined 4G/5G via Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which currently prevails in other German 5G networks [1.]. 5G shares lower frequency bands with 4G at comparable performance levels. Where it is a useful 4G extension in selected areas, the company will also use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. In addition, it is partially rolling out 5G purely over the 700 MHz frequency to accelerate area rollout and lay the groundwork for the upcoming 5G Stand Alone in the O2 network. The first sites are already live.
Note 1. Both Vodafone Germany and Telekom Deutschland use DSS to facilitate the rollout of 5G by sharing spectrum between 4G and 5G networks: Vodafone has deployed the technology to switch 700MHz frequencies back and forth between 4G and 5G, while Telekom Deutschland is rolling out DSS as part of a 5G expansion drive and is apportioning 5MHz of its 2.1GHz resource for 4G and 5G as needed. Telefónica Deutschland, which has already said it would use DSS for deployment in rural areas, conceded it will use DSS for 4G expansion in “selected areas.” The operator also appeared to indicate that its 5G deployment over 700MHz will be only partially “pure,” in order to accelerate its network expansion.
Photo Credits: Henning Koepke / Telefónica Deutschland
Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is continuously increasing its 5G network expansion despite parallel major projects such as the 3G switch-off and densification of the 4G network. In addition, the company has set the course for its 5G network of the future in the last twelve months. Telefónica Deutschland / O2 was the first German network operator to bring the innovative open architecture Open RAN for the mobile access network out of the laboratory and into live operation.
The conversion to Open RAN will start before the end of this year. It will give the company greater flexibility in the choice of manufacturers and, as a primarily software-based solution, simplify and accelerate the upgrading of base stations. Telefónica Group has appointed NEC as systems integrator for open RAN trials in its four main markets – Spain, Germany, the UK and Brazil.
O2 plans to deploy Open RAN later this year
In addition, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 achieved the first frequency bundling in the 5G live network in this country via carrier aggregation, which further accelerates 5G for customers and ensures a stable high data throughput. The O2 network also recently saw the German premiere of the first voice call directly via the 5G live network. These 5G calls do not take a diversion via the 4G network and thus no longer interrupt ongoing 5G data connections. Finally, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 now operates an independent 5G core network (no explanation given for what that means?).
The company has thus created the basis for freeing the new network from its technical dependence on 4G and will provide a 5G core network for 5G Stand Alone (SA). In future, this will enable private and business customers to use even the most demanding 5G applications. Technically, the company is already in a position to roll out a nationwide 5G Stand Alone network.
As soon as 5G Stand Alone offers real added value for customers, O2 will activate the technology. For example, when enough end devices in the market support 5G SA. Telefónica Deutschland is working with Ericsson for its 5G core network, but noted that the deployment of open radio access network (RAN) technology will ensure access to a wider group of vendors.
Over the past year of 5G service, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 has started to move their 5G core network for industrial applications to the cloud. This will significantly simplify the establishment of 5G campus networks, accelerate the introduction of new industrial applications for companies and shorten the time to market for new products and applications, according to the company.
The rapid expansion of the 5G network helps Telefónica Deutschland / O2 to pursue its corporate goal of offering its customers the greenest mobile network in Germany by 2025. 5G transmits significantly more energy-efficiently than the predecessor standards. The conversion of 3G to 4G and 5G network technology alone will reduce the power consumption of the O2 network by up to 90 percent per transported byte. In addition, the company will make a significant contribution to achieving Germany’s climate targets overall. Its 5G network will pave the way for digital solutions and all-round connectivity, helping other industries to save CO2 emissions and develop sustainable business models.
Japan’s Rakuten Group today announced that they have resolved to incorporate Rakuten Symphony, a business organization of the Company, and start considering a capital and business alliance (in other words, investments).
As announced on August 4, 2021 in “Rakuten launches Rakuten Symphony to accelerate adoption of cloud-native, open RAN-based mobile networks worldwide,” alongside Rakuten Communications Platform (hereafter “RCP“), Rakuten Symphony, a new business organization, was newly launched by consolidating the products and services to be implemented.
Rakuten Symphony aims to provide a future-proof, cost-effective, communication cloud platform for carriers, businesses and government agencies around the world.
Rakuten Symphony is a global business organization that develops solution businesses in Japan, the United States, Singapore, India, Europe, and the Middle East / Africa. Through this incorporation, accountability (duties) will be clarified, flexible decision-making and business execution will be possible, and products, services, and solutions for telecommunications carriers will be consolidated across the board.
“We will be ready to provide 4G and 5G infrastructure and platform solutions to the global market.”
In addition, as announced in “1&1 and Rakuten agree far-reaching partnership to build Europe’s first fully virtualized mobile network based on new Open RAN technology” also on August 4, 1&1 has agreed to comprehensively adopt RCP. This business has been steadily accumulating its achievements. In order to further accelerate the global expansion of innovative mobile network solutions, Rakuten Symphony, Inc., a newly established corporation, will consider accepting capital, etc. in addition to business partnerships with strategic partners.
The Company will establish its position as a global leader in cloud-centric and virtualized Open RAN-based mobile networks, by expanding its communication platform business overseas, as well as its track record of expanding its mobile carrier business in Japan.
It’s no surprise that Rakuten is pulling out all the stops to make Symphony a success. The operation’s Symphony contract with flagship customer 1&1 in Germany is worth between $2.3 billion and $2.7 billion over a ten-year period, reports Nikkei Asia. By contrast, Rakuten made about $1.8 billion in revenues at its Japanese mobile business in the last year.
“This business has been steadily accumulating its achievements,” Rakuten wrote this week, pointing specifically to its 1&1 deal.
Light Reading reported in March 2020 of Rakuten’s plans to sell a networking platform internationally. The offering was initially dubbed Rakuten Mobile Platform (RMP), and then Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), but the company in August named it Symphony and said the operation targeted an addressable market of up to $100 billion.
Symphony is essentially the portfolio of technologies Rakuten uses in its Japanese mobile network – alongside other offerings from its partners – that it is now pitching to other service providers and networking hopefuls worldwide. According to Rakuten, companies can purchase all or parts of Symphony in order to quickly and easily roll out their own open RAN 5G networks.
Thus, Symphony is now on a collision course with a wide range of other players selling similar offerings. Ericsson, Amazon, Google and Mavenir are among the many providers hoping to assemble a product portfolio stretching across core networking, radio hardware and associated software and services, and then to rope in deals with customers ranging from enterprises to government agencies.
Samsung will deploy its cloud-native, fully virtualized Radio Access Network (vRAN) in KDDI’s 5G network, following the successful completion of a 5G Standalone (SA) call using Samsung’s vRAN and another vendor’s 5G Massive MIMO radios. Among other capabilities, virtualized networks will enable 5G network slicing. Samsung and KDDI will begin trials in Q1 of 2022, and start commercial deployment in the second half of 2022.
“We are delighted to extend our collaboration with Samsung and to become the first operator in Japan to use their 5G vRAN solutions, which are currently delivering superior performance in commercial networks,” said Kazuyuki Yoshimura, Chief Technology Officer of KDDI. “We believe in the power of virtualization, and this collaboration serves as a meaningful catalyst for driving the next phase of 5G innovation, and advancing our networks to offer best-in-class 5G services.”
With its latest 5G vRAN technology, Samsung brings a range of improvements to KDDI’s network. By replacing dedicated baseband hardware with software elements, vRAN offers more deployment flexibility, greater scalability and improved resource efficiency in network operation. With its cloud-native, container-based architecture, Samsung’s vRAN also simplifies end-to-end network management through automation, allowing operators to quickly introduce new services with minimal impact on deployment.
“With commercially-proven performance and reliability, our vRAN is an attractive technology option for operators — from both the deployment and operational perspectives,” said Woojune Kim, Executive Vice President, Head of Global Sales & Marketing, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics.
“We are excited to mark another milestone with KDDI, following previous network collaborations that include the commercialization of 5G in 2020, and the rollout of 700MHz 5G in 2021. We look forward to our ongoing work with KDDI to bring new 5G innovations to their customers.”
Virtualized networks will play a key role in supporting KDDI’s pursuit of new 5G use cases and next-generation capabilities. Last year, Samsung and KDDI demonstrated how 5G end-to-end network slicing could play a key role for mobile operators by enabling the creation of multiple virtual networks within a single physical network infrastructure.
Samsung has been at the forefront of vRAN leadership around the world, unveiling its fully virtualized 5G RAN in 2020, followed by successful commercialization with a Tier 1 operator in the U.S. In June 2021, the company was selected by a major European operator to bring vRAN to the U.K.
Samsung recently demonstrated its vRAN capability to support Massive MIMO radios on mid-band, reaching multi-gigabit speeds. The company also teamed with a Tier 1 U.S. operator to complete an end-to-end 5G vRAN trial over C-Band in a live network environment, demonstrating vRAN performance equal to that of traditional hardware-based equipment.
Canadian network operator TeraGo said it is on track to complete its planned 5G core network expansion projects for this year, as the company prepares to deploy 5G fixed wireless access services to its existing customer base and 5G private networking applications for new customers.
TeraGo plans to achieve its goal using the capital raised earlier this year to increase capacity and throughput in its core network and to its wireless hub sites. This initiative is necessary to provide the network bandwidth that 5G fixed wireless access and private networks will require.
5G private networking applications are expected to take advantage of the security, high speed, and low latency that TeraGo’s licensed mmWave spectrum offers (not that 5G mmWave frequencies have yet to be agreed on in the still uncompleted revision 6 to ITU-R M.1036).
TeraGo 5G: TeraGo has Canada’s largest nationwide millimeter wave spectrum holdings, including the 7 largest cities in the country. Throughout 2021 and beyond, TeraGo will continue to invest in 5G technology trials and proof of concepts to explore how 5G Fixed Wireless solutions can be brought to market and solve real-world problems for our customers.
- Largest mmWave spectrum holder in Canada, including the 7 largest cites in the country
- Edge Computing (requires 5G SA Core network)
- Industrial IoT Applications (can use 5G NSA or 5G SA Core network)
To enable these new applications, TeraGo is expanding its overall network capacity this year by five to six times its pre-expansion levels. Nokia supplies TeraGo with 5G network equipment with customer premises gear from Askey Computer and Inseego.
“We continue to diligently work through our network upgrade plan, which includes over 50 projects that we expect to complete by year-end,” said Matthew Gerber, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at TeraGo.
“Some of these projects include things like new fiber optic connections to our hub sites and core network link upgrades to 100 Gbps. We have completed over 40 of these projects to date and are currently on track to achieve our project objectives by the end of the calendar year. We will continue to target installing some of our first customer pilot installations over the next couple of months and remain confident in our ability to establish TeraGo as one of the first operators to launch commercial mmWave 5G fixed wireless and private networking services in Canada.”
TeraGo owns a national spectrum portfolio of exclusive 24 GHz and 38 GHz wide-area spectrum licenses including 2,120 MHz of spectrum across Canada’s 6 largest cities. TeraGo provides businesses across Canada with cloud, colocation and connectivity services. TeraGo manages over 3,000 cloud workloads, operates five data centers in the Greater Toronto Area, the Greater Vancouver Area, and Kelowna, and owns and manages its own IP network.
TeraGo offers a managed SD-WAN service as described in this blog post.
The Company serves business customers in major markets across Canada including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa and Winnipeg.
For more information about TeraGo, please visit www.terago.ca.
India based telecom equipment company STL (Sterlite Technologies Limited) has launched Accellus, its flagship solution for 5G-ready, open and programmable networks. This new product line raises the position of STL as a provider of disruptive solutions for Access and Edge networks. For the past 5 years, STL has been investing in research and development to expand its capabilities in converged networks based on fiber optic broadband and Open RAN.
India’s PLI Scheme
The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which represents service providers and network equipment vendors, said that the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme will boost local manufacturing, exports and also create employment opportunities. STL plans to take advantage of that initiative. Nokia (through its India subsidiary) said the guidelines were an encouraging initiative by the government towards making India a global manufacturing hub. “Nokia is committed to this vision with our Chennai factory that manufactures telecom equipment from 2G to 5G-making for India and the world.”
“India is already the second largest telecom market globally and this will go a long way in making the country a global hub for telecom innovation,” said SP Kochhar, director general, COAI.
STL’s Accellus is built on this industry-leading converged optical-radio architecture. The company expects the global adoption of this decision to accelerate at a rate of 250% on an annual basis, stimulating better TCO for customers and gross margin for shareholders. Accellus will allow four main benefits for network builders – scalable and flexible operations, faster time to market, lower TCO and greener networks.
Accellus will lead the industry’s transition from tightly integrated, proprietary products to neutral and programmable converged wireless and optical networking solutions. It offers wireless and fiber-based solutions:
1. 5G multiband radios: Exhaustive portfolio of RAN radios with single and multiband macro radios. Co-developed in partnership with Facebook Connectivity to build total availability for Open RAN-based radios
2. Internal small cells: O-RAN compliant, highly efficient internal 5G small cell solution, with level 1 edge treatment
3. Wi-Fi 6 access solutions: Outdoor Wi-Fi 6 solutions providing carrier-class public connectivity in dense environments
4. Intelligent RAN Controller (RIC): An Open RAN 5G operating system that allows the Open RAN ecosystem to use third-party applications to improve performance and save costs
5. Programmable FTTx (pFTTx): A complete solution that offers programmability and software-defined networks in large-scale FTTH, business and cellular sites (FTTx) networks
Commenting on the launch of Accellus, Philip Leidler, Partner and Consulting Director, STL Partners, said: “One of the goals of the O-RAN alliance was to expand the RAN ecosystem and encourage innovation from a wider base of technology companies worldwide. the message is the last indication that this goal has been achieved. “
Commenting on the launch of Accellus, Chris Rice, CEO of Access Solutions at STL, said: “Disaggregated 5G and FTTx networks based on open standards are becoming more common for both greenfield and brownfield deployments. These networks will require unprecedented scalability and flexibility, possible through an open and programmable architecture. STL’s Accellus will unlock business opportunities for our customers and provide a immersive digital experience worldwide.”
Optical fiber has evolved in its maturity and in its form factors to drive the infrastructure medium for the “wireline” side of the network. It continues to be the preferred medium for high-speed network delivery, Rice said.
Answer: “Upgrade the network backhaul and core IP infrastructure for the expected growth in bandwidth that 5G Applications will enable. The necessity of wireline 5G upgrades sometimes does not get the attention it deserves; this includes IP equipment (e.g. cell site routers) and the necessary fiber upgrades to the cell sites.
Perform the network planning for the new cell site builds required to get the coverage and capacity required for ubiquitous 5G at the speeds users expect. For 5G to pay off for Telcos, there have to be new capabilities and services to sell that deserve higher price points from consumers and business users.
Ensure that operational automation is available to keep operating costs reasonable, especially as the number of cell sites grows. CAPEX is typically only 20 to 25% of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for a RAN, meaning that operating costs are 3X to 4X what CAPEX is. The RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) is an example in ORAN / Open RAN that helps Telcos fulfil this need in an open way. It is essentially the operating system for Open RAN. It provides a platform for third-party applications to deliver these operational benefits and automation.”
How Is STL Helping Industry Stakeholders to Explain to Government Officials the Importance of Fiber for 5G or High-Speed Broadband?
Answer: “Network speed in the RAN air interface is essentially meaningless without the ability to ensure that the connected IP network can backhaul the required bandwidth. This fact necessitates additional fiber deployments to the existing cell sites (where it does not exist) and to new cells sites.”
In conclusion, Rice opined, “Our (STLs) newest business unit, the Access Solutions BU, focuses on fiber broadband and 5G wireless products. These products are based on open networking principles and give STL the opportunity to participate in the disruption that is occurring in the open networking markets, like ORAN and Open RAN initiatives. While Access Solutions BU is new, it has an R&D and innovation heritage of almost four years. During that time, a top talent team has been put in place, fundamental technology and innovation have been developed and matured, and now a well-defined product roadmap has been put in place as the BU launches many new products in its Accellus product line.”
AT&T CEO John Stankey was interviewed by Brett Feldman, Goldman’s U.S. telecom and cable analyst. AT&T is both a telecom and media company. We focus on the former for the IEEE Techblog. Here are selected telecom related comments Stankey made (BOLD font emphasis added):
We’re pulling (market) share back from our two largest competitors (Verizon and T-Mobile). I feel good about how we’re doing that. There’s more to be done as we invest in fiber, and we can compliment our wireless business with fiber. There’s opportunities for us to take communications further than what we’ve traditionally done at AT&T. And I think that business should be recognized for being a leading global communications business, like it is, very uniquely positioned with more fiber than any other communications company on the face of the planet, with a great wireless asset domestically in the U.S. and in Mexico, an opportunity to bring those things together, and run it incredibly effectively as a focused business. I think we’ve got a great story there.
I think AT&T is in a great position moving forward. I think the industry frankly is in a great position. I think there’s tremendous promise right now in what ubiquitous high capacity bandwidth with the kind of capabilities that 5G brings in terms of the density that it can afford, the number of devices, the ability to use technology to do things like network slice (requires 5G SA core network which Microsoft is building for AT&T) and begin to differentiate the network. I think this is going to be great for society. I think this is going to be great for the U.S. economy as a whole. If I had to bet, we don’t have the numbers for 2021, certainly can’t project 2022, but I have a sense of where this industry is going. (This author totally disagrees, largely because real, standards based 5G has yet to be deployed as there is only a standard for the RAN which doesn’t meet URLLC performance requirements. No standard for 5G SA core network.).
We’re probably going to see record infrastructure investment coming out of this industry in this period of time. And I think it’s going to equip the United States and our economy and our infrastructure in a way that we’ve never seen. I think that’s going to be incredibly powerful. And I think it’s not only going to be good for AT&T, because I think we have the right kind of wherewithal and the right kind of capability to be right alongside others that are investing at a high clip to bring that infrastructure forward. I think we’ll do just fine with where we are there. I believe when unleashed we have some of the best network minds in the country. I believe that dense fiber footprint that we have that’s denser than anybody else in the United States when engineered properly on top of a great spectrum assets and a great wireless business, it’s going to make our combined product offer and our business even better and more capable to deal with what customers need to do. So, I feel really comfortable about that. And I can do nothing more than not ask you to look at my prognostications, but look at how we’re performing in the market today.
We’ve now started doing some things quietly behind the scenes. We have another muscle to build here, which is how do we begin to work on software to differentiate our products and services in a way that makes our product better than what our competitors can do, because we do have a different asset base, and we are able to serve every corner of the market from the largest of enterprises to the smallest apartment somewhere in the United States. And I don’t think we’ve done as much as we can do in that vein, to actually make that real for our customers and the right products and the right services and the right offers. And so, rebuilding that product engine that we can do that and begin to differentiate allows us to do things that won’t necessarily just hinge on, can I get an attractive handset?
Brett Feldman: I believe your fiber network passes something around 15 million customer locations right now, you’re targeting to ultimately get to 30 million by 2025, that would still only be about half roughly half of the customer locations in the AT&T wireline footprint. Question we’ve gotten is how did you decide what the right target was? Why is it 30? And what really dictates the pace at which you build out fiber?
Stankey replied: Getting this kind of an engine (fiber optic build-out) ramped up to go from building 3 million to 4 million to 5 million homes (locations) past, working through the supply chain, all the logistics that are necessary to build network, it’s not a real simple undertaking. And as I’ve said, my goal is I feel very comfortable, we have places we can go to build 30 million homes (he really means residential and business locations combined) right now on an owned and operated basis, that have very attractive returns in the mid to upper teens. We’re demonstrating every day with our existing base, that we can operate that more effectively, we’ve now crossed over places where we have scale where we’re taking cost out of the business based on fiber replacement, the old infrastructure, we’re seeing that flow through in lower call rates, lower repair rates, better churn, all those things are going to continue to give us goodness moving forward.
Do I think there’s a magic number of 30? No, I don’t. I think there’s a combination of things. One is unlike the investment base, to recognize the good work we’ve been doing. And then in fact, we are building and adding value back to our shareholders. And when they start to recognize that in the form of the equity in the stock, do I believe my credibility and the team’s credibility goes up? Yes, do I believe there’s going to be other opportunities for us to come out, as we hit those scaling metrics that we have in place, the supply chain metrics that we might be able to go in and say, there’s more that we could possibly attack, I’d love to be in that position to do that. And I’ve kind of put that out as a challenge to the management team to say the only thing that stands in the way between you doing 30 million and doing more is your execution and performance.
Brett Feldman: Speaking of execution, execution really has two pieces. It’s deploying the network, and then it’s driving penetration of that network. I believe you had about 5.4 million fiber subscribers as of your most recent quarters, that’s about 35% penetration [1.]. What do you think is the right target for your fiber penetration and how are you going to get there?
Note 1. Fiber-based broadband has clearly established itself as a growth engine for AT&T, which added another 246,000 fiber subscribers in Q2 2021, ending the period with 5.43 million. With about 80% of new fiber subscriber additions new to AT&T, overall broadband revenue growth at the company has finally surpassed declines in its legacy, non-fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband business.
Stankey replied: If I look what’s happening right now, and kind of where we are in our maturity scale, one of the things I’m most excited about is our new net adds to fiber right now good, almost 80% of them are new to AT&T. So, we’ve now gotten to this place where we’ve been managing the base. And we’re now shifting over where got a lot of new customers coming in. And in fact, as you saw last quarter, we’re starting to get ourselves to a point where that consumer business is a growth business today, despite the legacy drag on historic telecom products, parts and the like of legacy data products, that the fiber growth is beginning to outstrip that where we have real growth in that business. And we’re now starting to turn that corner real EBITDA growth in that business. And so, I would tell you as I step back from that, we’re going to see consistent growth. But I’m not going to be happy until we have a 50:50 share split in places where there’s two capable broadband providers. And I think there’s no reason with the product is capable as what we have out there and how fiber performs and what we’re able to do and the differentials we see in our customer satisfaction to our most significant competitor often cable in those markets, we were looking at 10, 15 points of difference in satisfaction levels, between other players in the market and ourselves, that we shouldn’t be able to achieve that over time.
Brett Feldman: You had earlier made a slight adjustment to your fiber deployment for this year, you were hoping to do 3 million homes, it’s going to be closer to two and half million and you noted some of the well reported supply chain issues as being a factor. Any update there, is there any further disruption in your supply chains and your ability to secure labor?
And we’re talking about what’s probably effectively about a 90 day delay for us to hit those numbers, and really primarily in this case, got to fiber assemblies. The way fibers built in the distribution network is we engineer it, we provide detailed engineering to our manufacturer, the manufacturer in the manufacturing facility, pre-splices and pre-assembles some of that fiber before we receive it. So, when it goes in, we’re doing less field splicing. And we’re able to basically put it up in the air or bring it through infrastructure in a way that lowers labor costs coming in. And we’re having some supply issues in the factory partly labor driven because of COVID, individuals getting sick not being able to run enough shifts, and carry through and partly some raw material issues. But those have been worked through right now our deliveries over the last 30 days have tracked to what our expectations are.
So, we feel like we’re through that dynamic right now. We should be fine with it. But look the supply chain is fragile at all levels. It’s fragile on everything. Last week, it was the number of generators, we’re deploying for power backup on cell sites, there’s, we’re going to miss a target on some of those by a couple 100 because there’s a resin base connector in the harness and we can’t get the resin. And that resin base connector, it’s a $15,000 generator that’s been held up on something that’s $0.25 part, you see these things popping up, left and right, every corner of the business. So, I don’t know what next week brings, we’re aggressively managing it. We’ve got a great supply chain organization. We’re a scaled provider, with all of our vendors. So, we lean into that, we were able to work through the fiber dynamics because we are the largest consumer of fiber in the United States. We use that ability and that expertise to make sure we get what we need to move through. So, I feel we’re managing through it, okay. I don’t think there’s anything around the challenges we’re dealing with, it gives me concern on guidance where we stand right now, but it’s going to be choppy and a little bumpy moving forward on some of these things as we move through the years.
Typical fiber optic deployment to multiple homes via underground and aerial cable
Stankey wouldn’t say how the proposed U.S. infrastructure bill might also alter AT&T’s outlook in a way that encourages the company to explore a buildout that goes beyond 30 million locations.
“There’s a degree of uncertainty there,” he said of the bill. “But in its current form [and if] it does actually make its way into law, that’s going to change the landscape of the broadband business in this country … It will also change my posture and point of view on where we should be playing as a company.”
Nokia today announced the launch of FP5, its fifth generation of high-performance IP routing silicon. As the new heart of Nokia’s IP service routing platforms, FP5 will enable service providers to address today’s unrelenting requirements to efficiently scale network capacity, enable new higher speed IP services, and provide unmatched protection against escalating network security threats. Building upon four generations of industry-leading network processors, Nokia is raising the bar by adding support for high density 800GE routing interfaces, a 75% reduction in power consumption and new embedded line rate, flow-based encryption capabilities. Nokia FP5-based platforms will be available starting in the first half of 2022.
When Nokia unveiled the FP4 platform four years ago it did so amid great fanfare, positioning its in-house silicon as a major advantage over its rivals. In the intervening time Nokia has made some major strategic miscalculations on its proprietary chips, especially for 5G, so this latest launch has been much more muted. However, the FP5’s decrease in power consumption is impressive.
According to an interview in Light Reading, the power consumption reduction is partly a product of more a advanced semiconductor manufacturing process and partly incorporating more stuff on a single piece of silicon, thus reducing the need for interconnects. BT has long been a fan of Nokia routing silicon and is in at the start of this latest effort.
- Nokia FP5 network processing silicon delivers a generational leap in IP network capacity and power efficiency while introducing new capabilities for protecting network traffic from security threats
- FP5 is the industry’s first high performance routing silicon delivering integrated line rate encryption for L2, L2.5 and L3 network services at speeds up to 1.6Tbps
- Nokia’s fully programmable network processor is the first to bring 800GE routing interfaces for service provider applications to market while retaining the agility to adapt to new applications
- FP5 sets a new benchmark for sustainability in IP routing with a 75% reduction in power consumption over previous generations
As cloud architectures, 5G and Industry 4.0 continue to drive network transformation, service providers require mission critical IP networks to be increasingly secure, agile and sustainable. IP networks must provide guaranteed high performance and integrity in the face of growing threats from network-level attacks and security breaches. They must also be able to adapt to address unforeseen changes and to support service evolution over the lifespan of the network. In addition, IP networking equipment must become increasingly power efficient to minimize impact on the environment.
With the introduction of Nokia’s fifth generation FP5 network processing silicon, Nokia says it brings a new suite of IP routing solutions to market to help service providers transform mission critical IP networks to address these new and evolving requirements.
Nokia has long been at the forefront of providing an embedded approach to IP network security. With FP4, the company transformed volumetric DDoS defense with router-based detection and mitigation. FP5 brings an additional layer of network protection with the introduction of ‘ANYsec’ – a new line rate, flow-based encryption capability integrated directly into the chipset. ANYsec supports the delivery of secure IP services including MPLS and segment routing, on-demand and at scale without impacting performance or power efficiency. Service providers can now ensure the integrity and confidentiality of all data flowing through their networks.
With FP5, Nokia brings a generational leap in router network capacity to market. Nokia service router platforms are the first to support high-density 800GE and 1.6 Tb/s clear channel routing interfaces for applications including mobile transport, IP core, peering, BNG and provider edge. New FP5-based line cards will support 14.4 Tb/s (19.2 Tb/s with Nokia’s intelligent aggregation capability.) A new series of fixed form factor 7750 Service Router-1 platforms enable the benefits of FP5 to also be realized in smaller network locations.
Nokia’s FP5 network processors drive down power consumption per bit by 75%. As FP5 is backwards compatible with FP4 and fully integrated into the latest versions of Nokia’s Service Router Operating System (SR OS), all existing features are supported from day one on the new hardware. Through this aligned hardware and software evolution strategy, Nokia delivers unmatched and sustainable investment protection to its customers.
As a fully programmable network processor, FP5 enables the agility required to evolve the network as standards and applications change. Its deterministic performance combined with rich telemetry insight ensure network operators can drive a maintainable and serviceable IP network both today and into the future.
Neil McRae, Managing Director and Chief Architect, BT, said: “BT has a long-standing relationship with Nokia, and we are pleased to see that with FP5, Nokia continues to innovate to ensure IP networks have the scale, flexibility and features to help us stay ahead of escalating demand from our residential, mobile and business customers. In particular, we are very happy to see the focus on power optimization as we grow our network, with both BT and Nokia committing to significant reduction in carbon footprint. In the past 18 months, our lives have been turned upside down, and our reliance on networks has been dramatically increased and reliability for customers is crucially important. With security being ever more important for our customers, seeing Nokia’s approach to building more security features into the platform is fantastic.”
Hiroyuki Oto, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Core Network Development Department, NTT DOCOMO, INC., said: “Our network needs to continue to evolve to meet the demands from our consumers, communities, and businesses. With Nokia’s latest generation of silicon innovation and their careful attention to ensuring investment protection with the flexibility to adapt to new requirements, we believe Nokia is delivering the right foundation to ensure IP networks can efficiently scale and transform to stay ahead of ever shifting market demands.”
Christian Gacon, Vice President, Broadband Networks, Orange France, said: “We have had a long relationship with Nokia from the very first silicon processor release. As our network continues to evolve to meet the demands of our customers, innovations such as Nokia’s FP5 silicon will enable us to balance capacity, maintainability and security to deliver the best customer experience. Introducing this exciting innovation into existing platforms will ensure that we can gracefully evolve our networks as we look to manage both planned and unexpected demands in a sustainable way.”
Ray Mota, CEO and Principal Analyst, ACG Research, said: “Nokia does it again and shows its understanding and commitment to service providers, which has been key in its #1 momentum gain in the overall $12 billion service provider market. With the introduction of its fifth generation FP5 routing silicon, we believe Nokia is well-positioned to continue as a vendor of choice for service providers seeking to evolve their IP networks to become more agile, efficient, and secure all the while providing investment protection.”
Federico Guillén, President of Network Infrastructure, Nokia, said: “Of all the things that are surprising about human beings, perhaps the most surprising is our ability to be surprised. Our customers require their networks to be robust, agile and adaptable enough to handle everything life throws at them – from disruptive security threats to a global pandemic. FP5 is a significant step forward in performance, security and efficiency and – in combination with our software excellence and investment in network automation and tools – it opens the next chapter in Nokia’s long-standing leadership in IP networking and IP silicon innovation.”
“This is the industry’s most advanced network-processing silicon for service provider IP networks,” Heidi Adams, VP of IP and optical network marketing at Nokia, said in a phone interview.
- Webpage: Nokia FP5
- Video: Master the unexpected with Nokia’s new FP5 silicon
- eBook: Master the unexpected with Nokia FP5
- App Note: Nokia FP5 silicon innovation
- Webpage: IP Network security
- Media Library: Nokia FP5 image
Nokia and Indosat Ooredoo have launched commercial 5G services in Surabaya city, Indonesia. Under the terms of the deal, Indosat Ooredoo’s customers can explore new enterprise and industrial use cases powered by the new 5G network.
Nokia and Indosat Ooredoo, as well as partners, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology and the University of Oulu, will also open the Nokia 5G Experience Centre at ITS’ facilities in Surabaya. The site includes a Centre of Creativity designed for technology developers and ITS students to explore and develop new 5G use cases to drive innovation and socio-economic development in Indonesia. In addition, the facility includes a Center of Knowledge with 5G millimeter-wave capability to simulate a live 5G environment for testing a range of 5G uses cases. It also includes a Center of Excellence offering professional 5G certifications and other academic programs to support the development of local digital talent.
“I am deeply humbled and proud to launch Indosat Ooredoo’s 5G services in Surabaya aligned with our commitment to being the forefront of the 5G revolution in Indonesia,” said Ahmad Al-Neama (pictured), president director and CEO of Indosat Ooredoo. “This technology will help unleash many opportunities for the region’s education, people, and economy,” he added
Specifically, Nokia will supply equipment from its ReefShark based AirScale product range, which includes its AirScale Single RAN portfolio for both indoor and outdoor coverage. Once deployed, these solutions will deliver faster speeds and wider mobile coverage for Indosat Ooredoo’s customers, while at the same time cutting Ooredoo’s network operating costs.
In addition, Nokia will also deploy its dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) solution, which will allow Indosat Ooredoo to use its 4G networks spectrum for 5G services, decreasing the time it takes to get 5G up and running.
“We are excited to launch commercial 5G services in Indonesia with Indosat Ooredoo as its trusted partner,” said Tommi Uitto, president of mobile networks at Nokia. “Our AirScale portfolio will deliver best-in-class services to its subscribers and I look forward to working hand in hand with them on this project moving forward. The opening of the Nokia 5G Experience Center will also provide a platform to drive innovation in the country,” he added.
Further to this collaboration, Nokia and Indosat Ooredoo, as well as partners, Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology and the University of Oulu, will also open the Nokia 5G Experience Centre at ITS’ facilities in Surabaya.
The site includes a Centre of Creativity designed for technology developers and ITS students to explore and develop new 5G use cases to drive innovation and socioeconomic development in Indonesia.
The facility will also feature a Center of Knowledge with 5G millimeter-wave capability to simulate a live 5G environment for testing a range of 5G uses cases. It will include a Center of Excellence offering professional 5G certifications and other digital academic programs.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Nokia and Indosat Ooredoo to bring 5G innovation to Indonesia and specifically into Surabaya,” said Prof. Dr. Ir. Mochamad Ashari, Rector of Sepuluh Nopember Institute of Technology.
“Through such industry partnerships, we aim to provide a platform for young minds to collaborate directly with industry and business leaders and develop 5G solutions that will benefit the University and the wider community.”