France announces 11 mmWave trials at 26G Hz: Many different use cases and multiple tech companies participating

The French government has announced details of 11 trial 5G projects that will be awarded to use 26GHz spectrum.  The government and telecom regulatory agency (Arcep) said it had received 15 applications for projects, with 11 approved to be progressed.  Logistics, smart city, mobility, sports events coverage: more than a dozen projects responded to the call to create trial platforms.

Projects will be awarded 26GHz spectrum for a period of three years. They must have a working network by January 2021 and they must make that network available to third parties.  Arcep said it would be announcing more projects in the coming weeks.

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Background: In January 2019, the French Government and Arcep issued a joint call for the creation of 5G trial platforms that would be open to third parties, and using the 26 GHz band – aka the millimetre wave band. The aim of this call was to pave the way for all players to embrace the possibilities this frequency band provides, and to discover new uses for 5G.   Agnès Pannier-Runacher, France’s Secretary of State to the Minister for the Economy and Finance, and Sébastien Soriano, Chair of the Electronic Communications and Postal Regulatory Authority/ Telecom Agency (Arcep), presented the first eleven projects that have been selected.

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The 11 trials of mmWave technology in France will include several different use cases, while also involving different technology companies. Several of the projects are being led by enterprise tech companies which do not specialize in telecommunications:

The first project will be led by Universcience, at the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, and will focus on public engagement. The La Cité des sciences et de l’industrie 5G trial platform will showcase use cases to the public, through open events, as well as temporary and permanent exhibitions.

The second, at the Vélodrome National, will bring together Nokia, Qualcomm, Airbus and France Television to understand how 5G can aid sports media. Low latency and increased bandwidth will be key topics here, as will the integration of artificial intelligence for operational efficiency and augmented reality to improve consumer experience.

The third trial will pair Bordeaux Métropole, the local authority, with Bouygues Telecom and will endeavor to capitalize on public lighting networks to deploy new infrastructures.

The Port of Le Havre will lead the fourth trial alongside the Le Havre Seine Métropole urban community, Siemens, EDF and Nokia. This initiative will explore 5G applications in a port and industry-related environments, with use-cases such as operating smart grids and recharging electric vehicles.

At the Nokia Paris-Saclay campus, trials will be conducted in a real-world environment, both indoors and outdoors, thanks to Nokia 5G antennae installed at different heights on the rooftops, and in work areas. This project also includes a start-up incubator program.

The Paris La Défense planning development agency and its partners have submitted another interesting usecase. With 5G CAPEX budget strained already, the Government department will test the feasibility and viability of owning infrastructure and selling turnkey access to operators. This might erode coverage advantages which some telcos might seek, though in assuming ownership (and the cost) of network deployment, the 5G journey might well be a bit smoother in France.

The seventh trial will pair Bouygues Telecom with France’s national rail company, SNCF, at the Lyon Part-Dieu train station. Tests will focus on consumer applications, such as VR and AR, as well as how transportation companies can make best use of data and connectivity to enhance operations. The eighth trial will also be led by Bouygues Telecom, focusing on industrial IOT in the city of Saint-Priest.

Orange will oversee two trials at part of the wider scheme, with the first taking place in Rennes railway station with SNCF and Nokia. Once again, part of this trial will focus on consumer applications, making waiting a ‘more pleasant experience’, with the rest focusing on industrial applications such as remote maintenance using augmented reality.

The second Orange trial will focus on various 5G use cases in heavily trafficked areas, such as enhanced multimedia experiences for people on the move and cloud gaming. This trial is supposed to be generic, and another opportunity for start-ups to pitch and validate their ideas in a live lab.

The 26GHz spectrum band will allow us to explore new services based on 5G,” said Mari-Noëlle Jégo-Laveissière, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer of Orange. “We are aiming to set-up experimental platforms that will stimulate collaboration on these new use-cases across all economic sectors.”

With the spectrum licenses live from October 7th, the trials are now officially up-and-running. Each of the projects must have a live network operational by January 2021 at the latest and have to make it available to third parties to perform their own 5G trials.

This is perhaps one of the most interesting schemes worldwide not only because of the breadth and depth of the usecases being discussed, but the variety of companies which are being brought into the fray. Although the telco industry does constantly discuss the broadening of the ecosystem, realistically the power resides with a small number of very influential vendors.

This is a complaint which does seem to be attracting more headlines at the moment. If you look at the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) being championed by Facebook, the aim is to commoditize the hardware components in the network, while decoupling them from software. Ultimately, the project is driving towards a more open and accessible ecosystem.

France’s initiative here could have the same impact. By designating enterprise companies and local municipalities as leaders in the projects, instead of the same old telcos and vendors, new ideas and new models have the potential to flourish. This looks like a very positive step forward for the French digital economy.

References:

https://en.arcep.fr/news/press-releases/p/n/5g-6.html

http://telecoms.com/500186/france-pushes-forward-with-trials-of-much-hyped-mmwave-airwaves/

http://the-mobile-network.com/2019/10/arcep-picks-a-first-xi-for-5g-mmwave-trials/

China’s big 3 mobile operators have 9 Million 5G subscribers in advance of the service; Barron’s: China to lead in 5G deployments

According to Beijing News, the three major (state owned) China mobile network operators have already signed up 9 million advance orders for their yet to be launched 5G service.   As of October 5th, China Mobile’s 5G subscribers have reached 5.32 million, China Unicom has 1.75 million, China Telecom has 1.76 million, and the total number of committed 5G users is nearly 9 million.

The three China network operators haven’t set a date for the start of service, but will reportedly commence simultaneously, most likely later this month of October.  However, there are not many 5G smartphones (only two or three models) and no other endpoints (none announced yet) available from the three major China network operators.  The preferential price is between 150 yuan and 550 yuan.

On September 20, Xu Ximing, deputy general manager of the marketing department of China Mobile Group Corporation, said at the China Mobile 5G+ Innovation Cooperation Conference that China Mobile is accelerating the pace of 5G commercialization. The 5G package will be officially released in October, including basic packages and CPE packages. And upgrade plans for old users. Customers will enjoy the “three different fast” login to the 5G network, that is, the 5G terminal does not need to change the card, does not need to change the number, does not need to register, and multi-channel fast order 5G network service.

  • The China Unicom prices web page shows that the current campaign supports two mobile phones, Samsung Note 10+5G version offers 500 yuan, and vivo’s iQOO Pro 5G version offers 400 yuan. Telecom’s purchase discounts are 150 yuan for iQOO Pro, 300 yuan for ZTE Axon 10 Pro, and 550 yuan for Samsung Note 10+.
  • For China Mobile’s preferential prices, Xiaomi 9 Pro 5G version is offered for 300 yuan, China Mobile’s pioneer X1, Samsung Note 10+ 5G version  offer is 500 yuan. China Mobile told the Beijing News that more 5G models will be added in the future.

China Mobile Pioneer X1

China Mobile Pioneer X1 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset, a 6.47-inch AMOLED display with a  waterdrop notch. The display supports FHD+ resolution and also houses an on-screen fingerprint scanner. Housed inside the waterdrop notch is a powerful 20MP camera.

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Note: Although Samsung continues phone sales in China, last week the handset maker ceased its mobile phone production operations in China as it closed its last factory in the country, according to Reuters.

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China’s 5G network coverage is progressing rapidly and the 5G network is increasingly equipped with a formal commercial foundation. Recently, the official statistics of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Economics and Information Technology state that the three major network operators have completed more than 8,800 5G base stations in Beijing, covering areas along Chang’an Avenue, the World Expo, CCTV Broadcasting Center, and Shougang Park.

According to a message released by the Beijing Communications Administration, it is expected that by the end of 2019, Beijing will build more than 10,000 5G base stations.  According to the current construction progress, the number of 5G base stations in Beijing is expected to reach 12,000 by the end of the year. Among the other three first-tier cities, Shanghai plans to build 10,000 5G base stations in 2019 and 20,000 5G base stations in 2020; Guangzhou proposes to complete no less than 20,000 5G base stations in 2019, and 5G will be built in 2021. The base station is 65,000; the plan for Shenzhen is to build 15,000 5G base stations by the end of 2019.

With the spread of 5G networks, innovative applications in various 5G environments are emerging and even landing. On September 25, Daxing International Airport was officially opened. Eastern Airlines, Beijing Unicom and Huawei jointly released a 5G-based smart travel integrated service system at Daxing International Airport. Under the system, the user does not need to present the ID card and the QR code as usual, and only needs face recognition to complete the travel process such as ticket purchase, check-in, check-in, security check, and boarding.

China’s government is partially subsidizing 5G deployments as we note in several paragraphs below:

  • The Shenzhen city government is offering to pay operators RMB10,000 ($1,398) for every standalone 5G base station deployed, with a maximum payout of RMB150 million ($20.9 million).  Its 5G plan issued last month promises support for site acquisition and subsidies for base station electricity costs.  The tech-dominated Chinese city, home to Huawei, ZTE and Tencent, plans to install 15,000 5G base stations by the end of 2019 and 45,000 by next August (more on this below).
  • Almost every Chinese city or provincial government has a 5G development plan.  While many are light on specifics, some reveal big ambitions.  For example, the government of Zhejiang, the wealthy province near Shanghai, expects to have 30,000 base stations next year. It plans to complete its 5G rollout by 2022, by which time its coverage will “lead the country.”
  • The north-west province of Shanxi — not known for its advanced tech industries — has also made 5G a top priority. It has bench marked its 5G rollout against other provinces and, like Zhejiang, has set a target of 30,000 base stations by 2022.  And the city is also offering subsidies for base station power costs and help in site selection.

Image result for image of 5G in China

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From an article titled, “The Real 5G Winner Could Be China,” in the October 7, 2019 print edition of Barron’s:

Multiple Wall Street analysts are getting more optimistic about China’s 5G build out. For instance, Rosenblatt Securities notes that local governments in the Asian country are providing subsidies to “speed up 5G network deployments.” As a result, Rosenblatt says, more than 300 cities in China will have 5G networks by the end of next year. Even Hall, the Goldman Sachs 5G skeptic, expects 120 million 5G smartphones to ship next year, largely because of China’s aggressive build out.

In a report this past week, Piper Jaffray analyst Harsh Kumar cited a Chinese think tank that sees China-based companies spending $411 billion on 5G networks from 2020 to 2030. Of the 600,000 5G base stations expected to be rolled out worldwide next year, Kumar says half will be deployed in China: “We expect 2020 global [5G] deployments to largely be driven by the Chinese market.”

5G may come together slowly in the U.S. market, but China is serious about winning the race.

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References:

https://tech.sina.com.cn/t/2019-10-06/doc-iicezzrr0343842.shtml

https://www.lightreading.com/asia-pacific/china-telcos-rack-up-9m-5g-advance-subs/d/d-id/754643?

https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-real-5g-winner-could-be-china-51570228459

https://www.wsj.com/articles/in-the-race-to-dominate-5g-china-has-an-edge-11567828888

3GPP Release 16 Update: 5G Phase 2 (including URLLC) to be completed in June 2020; Mission Critical apps extended

NOTE This article is intended as a reference, which is especially important to debunk claims made about current pre-standard 5G deployments which are almost all based on 3GPP Release 15 “5G New Radio (NR)” for the data plane with LTE signaling and LTE mobile packet core (EPC) for Non Stand Alone (NSA) operation.  5G pundits continue to site 3GPP as the standards organization responsible for 5G which is doubly wrong because it’s not a standards body and submits its 5G/IMT 2020 proposals to ITU-R WP 5D via the latter organizations member entities.  As we’ve stated many times before, ITU-R is responsible for the radio standards for IMT 2020, while ITU-T is working on the non-radio aspects of IMT 2020.

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Summary:

3GPP Release 16 is a major release for the project, because it will bring the specification organization’s IMT-2020 RIT/SRIT submission (to ITU-R WP 5D) for an initial full 3GPP 5G system to its completion.  Release 16 will be put in a “frozen” state in March 2020 with a targeted  completion date of June 2020.

3GPP work has started on approximately 25 Release 16 studies, which cover a variety of topics: Multimedia Priority Service, Vehicle-to-everything (V2X) application layer services, 5G satellite access, Local Area Network support in 5G, wireless and wireline convergence for 5G, terminal positioning and location, communications in vertical domains and network automation and novel radio techniques. Further items being studied include security, codecs and streaming services, Local Area Network interworking, network slicing and the IoT.

Here are the new features planned for 3GPP Release 16:

Details of the features and work items under each 3GPP Release are kept in the corresponding, on-line, list of features and study items.

  • Enhancement of Ultra-Reliable (UR) Low Latency Communications (URLLC)
  • 5GS Enhanced support of Vertical and LAN Services
  • Cellular IoT support and evolution
  • Advanced V2X support
  • 5G Location and Positioning Services
  • UE radio capability signalling optimization
  • Satellite Access in 5G
  • Enablers for Network Automation Architecture for 5G
  • Wireless and Wireline Convergence Enhancement
  • Mission Critical, Public Warning, Railways and Maritime
  • Streaming and TV
  • User Identities, Authentication, multi-device
  • (Network) Slicing
  • Other cross-TSG Release 16 Features
  • NR-related Release 16 Features
  • Release 16 Features impacting both LTE and NR
  • LTE-related Release 16 Features

From 3GPP’s July 18, 2019 Webinar:

webinar ran84 slide7

“For the (industry) verticals, there are three distinct pillars that we are focused on: Automotive, Industrial IoT and Operation in unlicensed bands. For 5G based V2X, which builds on the two iterations of the LTE-V2X, we are now adding advanced features – primarily in the area of low latency use cases.

The second focus is industrial IoT and URLLC enhancements. Factory automation, in particular, is a strong pillar for 5G going forward. We are trying to ensure that the radio side covers all of the functions that all the verticals need for factory automation. What this means in practice is that we are trying to make sure 5G NR can fully replace a wired ethernet – currently used – by adding time sensitive networking and high reliability capabilities.

The third pillar is operation in unlicensed bands. We have seen different schemes for generic 5G licensing strategies in Europe and in other parts of the World. We have seen in some countries that certain licensed bands have been allocated for vertical use cases, though that is not the case for a majority of countries. The use of unlicensed bands provides a great opportunity – where licensed spectrum is not an option. We are now focused on not only what we have with LTE, which is the licensed assisted access scheme, but also on standalone unlicensed operation – to be completed in Release 16.

Release 16 also delivers generic system improvements & enhancements, which target Mobile Broadband, but can also be used in vertical deployments – Particularly; positioning, MIMO enhancements and Power consumption improvements.”

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Technical Reports (the result of the study phase) are also being developed on broadening the applicability of 3GPP technology to non-terrestrial radio access (initially satellites, but airborne base stations are also to be considered) and to maritime aspects (intra-ship, ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship). Work also progresses on new PMR functionality for LTE, enhancing the railway-oriented services originally developed using GSM radio technology that is now nearing end of life.

As part of Release 16, Mission Critical (MC) services will be extended to address a wider business sector than the initial rather narrow public security and civil defense services for which they had originally been developed. If the same or similar standards can be used for commercial applications (from taxi dispatching to railway traffic management, and other vertical sector scenarios currently being investigated), this would bring enhanced reliability to those MC services through wider deployment, and reduced deployment costs due to economies of scale – to the benefit of all users.

In December 2018, an adjustment was agreed at TSGs#82 – to allow a 3 month shift in the Functional freeze (of features) and the ASN.1 completion for both Release 15 and Release 16:
2019 NR schedule late drop pic3

IMT-2020 – Final submission

Release 16 will be “5G phase 2” and will be completed in June 2020 (TSGs#88) – See adjustment noted above.
Original schedule:
 imt timeplan1
This Release will meet the ITU IMT-2020 submission requirements and the time-plan as outlined in RP-172101:
Details of the work plan – to meet agreed IMT-2020 submission time plan:
Step 1: From Sep 2017 to Dec 2017, discussions in RAN ITU-R Ad-Hoc
  • Calibration for self evaluation
  • Prepare and finalize initial description template information that is to be submitted to ITU-R WP 5D#29.

Step 2: From early 2018 to Sep 2018, targeting “update & self eval” submission in Sep 2018

  • Performance evaluation against eMBB, mMTC and URLLC requirements and test environments for NR and LTE features.
  • Update description template and prepare compliance template according to self evaluation results.
  • Provide description template, compliance template, and self evaluation results based on Rel-15 in Sep 2018.

Step 3: From Sep 2018 to June 2019, targeting “Final” submission in June 2019

  • Performance evaluation update by taking into account Rel-16 updates in addition to Rel-15
  • Update description template and compliance template to take into account Rel-16 updates in addition to Rel-15
  • Provide description template, compliance template, and self evaluation results based on Rel-15 and Rel-16 in June 2019.

Some Background on Release 16

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References:

https://www.3gpp.org/release-16

https://www.3gpp.org/news-events/2058-ran-rel-16-progress-and-rel-17-potential-work-areas

 

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Illustration of functional elements in 3GPP Releases 15, 16, and (planned) for 17:

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Massive MIMO Deployments in India: Bharti Airtel vs. Vodafone Idea?

by Danish Khan  (edited and augmented by Alan J Weissberger)

The deployment of massive MIMO [1] technology has led to a series of claims and counter claims between India wireless network operators Vodafone Idea Ltd. (VIL) and Bharti Airtel. Both privately held telcos claim that they lead in terms of the deployment size of this pre-5G technology.

Note 1.  Massive multiple-input, multiple-output, or massive MIMO, is an extension of MIMO, which essentially groups together antennas at the transmitter and receiver to provide better throughput and better spectrum efficiency.

Moving from MIMO to massive MIMO, according to IEEE, involves making “a clean break with current practice through the use of a large excess of service antennas over active terminals and time-division duplex operation. Extra antennas help by focusing energy into ever smaller regions of space to bring huge improvements in throughput and radiated energy efficiency.”

Many different configurations and deployment scenarios for the actual antenna arrays used by a massive MIMO system can be envisioned (see Fig. 1). Each antenna unit would be small and active, preferably fed via an optical or electric digital bus.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Some possible antenna configurations and deployment scenarios for a massive MIMO base station.

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In a statement, Huawei said that Bharti Airtel has deployed more than 100 hops of enhanced MIMO microwave link based on the latest MIMO technology developed by the Chinese gear maker. The deployment, Huawei said, will deliver 1Gbps capacity over a single 28 Mhz spectrum, improving the backhaul capacity by four times.

“Bharti implements the largest-scale MIMO deployment around the world,” Huawei said in the statement. Airtel had made its first commercial deployment of massive MIMO in September 2017.

Bharti Airtel today (Sept 26, 2017) announced the deployment of India’s first state-of-the-art Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO) technology which is a key enabler for 5G networks. As one of the few commercial deployment of Massive MIMO globally, the deployment puts India on the world map of technology advancement and digital revolution. Airtel is starting with the first round of deployment in Bangalore & Kolkata and will expand to other parts of the country.

Deployed as part of Airtel’s ongoing network transformation program, Project Leap, the Massive MIMO technology will expand existing network capacity by five to seven times using the existing spectrum, thereby improving spectral efficiency. Customers will now be able to experience two to three times superfast speeds on the existing 4G network. Data speeds will now also be seamless, offering enhanced user experience even indoors, in crowded places and high rise buildings. It would enable multiple users and multiple devices to work simultaneously without facing any congestion or experience issues especially at hotspot locations.

But in an interview with ET last week, Vodafone Idea chief technology officer, Vishant Vora had claimed that it was the leader in MIMO deployments in India. “We have deployed over 10,000 massive MIMOs in India. This is the largest deployment of massive MIMOs in India and neither of my two competitors has that. They are 100-200 and we are at 10,000 plus. This is the largest deployment outside China and in the world,” Vora said.

Vodafone Idea told ET this past March:

Vodafone Idea has deployed more than 5000 massive MIMO, small cells and TDD sites across Church gate, Prabhadevi, Pali hill, Lokhandwala, Versova, Andheri, Jogeshwari, Bandra and Dadar among other regions.  The telco has also installed over 1900 indoor coverage solutions for high rises and commercial places.

“With meticulous pre-merger planning and rigorous post-merger execution, we have ensured that our customers remain confidently connected and enjoy uninterrupted services even as we integrate and optimize our network in a phased manner across circles,” said Vishant Vora, CTO, Vodafone Idea.

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Huawei is also providing 4G equipment and massive MIMO technology to Vodafone Idea in seven circles.  Huawei didn’t provide additional information.

The MIMO technology achieves four times capacity with same spectrum, allowing a telecom operator to build a 5G-ready transport network without investment in additional spectrum .  MIMO deployment also allows telcos to address the capacity-related network issues in urban areas in India, besides deploying new sites to provide coverage in rural parts.

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Jio has also started to deploy massive MIMO technology in some of the metro cities that are seeing huge traffic growth resulting in bad data speed experience.

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References:

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/massive-mimo-airtel-and-vodafone-idea-stake-claim-with-deployment-size/71404917

https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/6736761

https://www.airtel.in/press-release/09-2017/airtel-deploys-massive-mimo-indias-first-5g-capable-technology

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/vodafone-idea-enhances-network-capacity-in-mumbai/68359629

Far EasTone Telecommunications 5G Indoor Trials; Chunghwa Telecom 5G Field Trial for Driverless Cars

The telecom hopes the trials help companies transit to 5G technology more smoothly, vice president Philip Tseng told reporters in Taipei.

Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd of Taiwan said yesterday that it plans to set up an indoor 5G trial field next month at Neihu Technology Park for 100 enterprises or research organizations.  The announcement came a day after the telecom won the first approval to install a 5G-based Proof of Business network.  The Taiwan National Telecommunications Commission has approved six 5G proof-of-concept trials and is still reviewing other applications, it said, adding that it welcomes more applications to explore business opportunities or business models on 5G networks. Telecoms that win 5G spectrum licenses are expected to launch commercial 5G services in July next year (2020) at the earliest, the commission said.

The telecom said it plans to offer the trials in collaboration with Ericsson Taiwan at the Neihu Sports Center on a commercial 5G network using the 3.5 gigahertz band. As part of the trials, Far EasTone  is to supply free 5G SIM cards, routers and a 5G applications enablement platform (undefined?), allowing firms to test Internet of Things (IoT) business opportunities from this month to December 2019.  The average download speed of the 5G network will be at least 10 times faster than a 4G LTE network, the company said.

Image result for pic of Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd

“We hope the trials help upstream and downstream companies transit to 5G technology more smoothly,” Far EasTone vice president Philip Tseng told reporters on the sidelines of a news conference in Taipei. The telecom is teaming up with Taipei’s Smart City Project Management Office, Department of Information Technology and Department of Economic Development, as well as the Taiwan IOT Technology and Industry Association to launch the 5G trials.

Notebook computer maker Compal Electronics Inc and smartphone maker HTC Corp are to provide the 5G endpoints to be tested, the telecom said.

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Ericsson — Taiwan to beat Europe in 5G deployments:

In August, Ericsson said it expects Taiwan to ramp up 5G services faster than Europe once the nation’s 5G spectrum is auctioned, thanks to its strong position in the communications components manufacturing supply chain.

“Taiwan has an industry that manufactures a lot of components. That is not the case in many countries in Europe or elsewhere,” Nassif told a media briefing in Taipei. “Here you have the possibility of creating all kinds of ecosystems. You have a better chance of rapidly achieving scale.”

“Taiwan is getting ready and I have a good feeling that 5G will be here in Taiwan next year, thanks to the many initiatives that have been planned by local telecoms even before December’s 5G spectrum auction,” Nassif said.

Taiwan’s National Communications Commission plans to auction 2,790 megahertz (MHz) of bandwidth for 5G services, including 270MHz in the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) band, 2,500MHz in the 28GHz band and 20MHz in the 1,800MHz band.  The commission has not yet set the floor price.

Taiwan has shown a readiness to embrace 5G services, given its high data usage — 20 gigabytes per month, one of the highest in the world — and its tech-savvy mobile users, said Peter Fung,  head of networks for Ericsson in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.

Ericsson, which has secured 47 contracts from telecoms worldwide, is collaborating with Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信), Far EasTone Telecommunications Co (遠傳電信) and Asia Pacific Telecom Co (亞太電信) in the deployment of their 5G networks.

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About Far EasTone Telecommunications:

Far EasTone Telecommunications (FET) is a leading company in Taiwan which provides telecommunications and digital application services. Since its establishment in 1997, FET has strived to close the gap between people to achieve the objective of “Closing the distance”. As the 5G era approaches, FET has set its sights beyond telecommunications and has reinterpreted the brand statement in 2019, setting a new milestone with ” For Every Thought, We Go Further”. FET’s aim is, through Big Data, AI, IoT and other digital applications, to not only bring people closer together in mind, also to reduce the gap between people and new technology.

Since its establishment in 1997, FET has continued to introduce new products and services utilizing access technologies, including 2G, 3G, 4G and WiFi. As the popularity of smart devices grows rapidly, FET is investing heavily in the improvement of internet infrastructure, actively enhancing the speed and quality of mobile networks, upgrading base stations, and expanding the channel range.

FET has collaborated with the telecom equipment giant Ericsson to establish the first 5G Lab in Taiwan. In 2018, FET announced the establishment of the “FET 5G Pioneer Team,” the first in Taiwan to drive development of 5G connected vehicle technologies and ecosystem in Taiwan. In the future, it will further take on the challenge of reaching the fastest network speed with 4-band dual technology. We will also continue to develop IoT applications and polish our mobile services to become the preferred partner in the digital life and pave a solid path forward to the future of 5G roll-out.

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References:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2019/10/05/2003723392

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2019/08/13/2003720368

https://www.fetnet.net/corporate/en/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Communications_Commission

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In a related development — Chunghwa Telecom holds 5G field trial for driverless cars:

Chunghwa Telecom yesterday (October 3, 2019) conducted a 5G spectrum-based field trial for autonomous vehicles at a lab in New Taipei City’s Banciao District  to demonstrate vehicle-to-infrastructure technology developed by a subsidiary.  The telecom expects to provide more autonomous vehicle tests and trials using 5G networks at its lab in the future.

“Our aim is to help grow this 5G value chain ranging from chips and small cell stations to all kinds of applications,” Chunghwa Telecom chairman Hsieh Chi-mau  told reporters on the sidelines of the field trial.

The company focuses on the delivery of real-time information, such as traffic data to vehicles using high-speed and low-latency 5G technology, while Kingwaytek Technology Co (勤崴), a 26 percent held subsidiary, is helping to develop autonomous driving systems, particularly for shuttle buses, Hsieh said.  Kingwaytek is a supplier of high-definition (HD) electronic maps and vehicle navigation systems.

“We are developing a decisionmaking system for self-driving vehicles and a traffic prediction system, which will be combined with our HD electronic maps to complete our self-driving solution,” Kingwaytek chairman Alfred Ko said.  Kingwaytek plans to conduct a series of self-driving field trials next year in collaboration with Automotive Research and Testing Center via a sandbox program in Changhua County, Ko said.

The trial, if successful, would pave the way for the company to sell its self-driving solutions overseas in the next two to three years, injecting new revenue growth momentum into the business, he said.  Southeast Asian nations would be ideal markets, as Chunghwa Telecom’s strength in the region could provide leverage, he said.

President Tsai Ing-wen, sitting, tries out 5G-enabled technology at a news conference in New Taipei City yesterday. Photo: Lai Hsiao-tung, Taipei Times

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Kingwaytek operates one autonomous vehicle trial field in Changhua County and another in Taoyuan’s Hutoushan.

Chungwha Telecom and Taiwan Mobile Co both said separately that they have submitted their applications to bid for 5G bandwidth and are prepared to substantially invest in 5G network deployment.  Asked if Taiwan Mobile still aims to secure 100 megahertz of bandwidth at the auction, Taiwan Mobile president Jamie Lin (林之晨) said: “Only for a reasonable price.”

“Taiwan Mobile will make 5G [services] available in the second half of next year,” Lin said.

The telecom is in talks with multiple agencies about launching 5G trial fields, he said, adding that the company has one trial field in the baseball stadium in New Taipei City’s Sinjhuang District.

Reference:

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/biz/archives/2019/10/04/2003723337

 

 

 

UBS: 5G capex at $30 billion for India telcos; 5G spectrum auction by January 2020?

UBS analysts say that India’s top three telecom operators will have to spend a little over $30 billion on 5G base stations and fiber infrastructure. According to UBS, the need for a dense site footprint and fiber backhaul for 5G access networks will likely shift the balance of power towards larger and integrated operators with strong balance sheets.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea would need $10 billion capex each over the next five years.

“Bharti has solidly defended its market share and has narrowed the gap with Jio on 4G network reach, with improving 4G net adds. The company recently revamped its digital offering and launched converged digital proposition ‘Airtel Xstream’ offering digital content across TV, PC and mobile devices along with IoT solutions for connected homes. Further, Jio’s recently announced fixed broadband plans starting at Rs 699 are not as aggressive as we (and the market) feared and, therefore, do not pose significant pricing pressure on Bharti’s broadband average revenue per user,” UBS said in a research note to clients.

Reliance Jio’s incremental 5G capex is estimated somewhat lower at around $8 billion.  That’s because Jio already has more 5G-ready fiberised towers than the incumbents, having already spent around $2 billion on tower fiberization.

Analysts were skeptical about Vodafone Idea’s ability to sustain such big-ticket capex spends given its continuing market share losses and weak financials, which they said could limit its 5G deployment ambitions.

They also said the need for a dense site footprint and fibre backhaul in 5G would shift the balance of power towards larger and integrated operators with strong balance sheets like Jio and Airtel, while those with high gearing levels are at risk given the sustained high capex needs.

“Airtel and Vodafone Idea will each need to spend $2 billion annually on 5G radio and fiber capex spread across 5 years,” UBS said in a report, implying 65% and 85% of Airtel’s and Vodafone Idea’s current annual India capex run rates respectively.

By contrast, Jio’s 5G capex, “would be lower due to its larger tower footprint and higher proportion of towers on fibre backhaul compared with Airtel and Vodafone Idea.”  The brokerage firm also expects Jio to transition to 5G in a “time-efficient manner,” given its in-house data centres and investments in a content distribution network (CDN).

“Vodafone Idea’s stretched balance sheet will limit its participation in the 5G opportunity, and the company will require a significant improvement in network quality to arrest market share loss and revert to revenue growth,” UBS said.

Credit Suisse backed the view, saying, “Vodafone Idea will lose the most market share, and will need additional equity capital by FY2021, given our expectation of no price increase”.

UBS estimates that Airtel’s India mobile revenue will grow 5-6% in this financial year and the next even if interconnect usage charges – a source of revenue for incumbents – get scrapped from January 2020.

According to analysts, the India telecom sector can reduce overall estimated $30.5 billion 5G capex spends by 15-20% if Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Jio share towers and fiber resources.  However, there is currently no progress on that front.

“We estimate the sector can reduce overall capex by 15-20 per cent if the three Indian telcos share towers and fiber (either commercially or driven by the regulator) – third-party tenancy poses upside risks to our estimates,” UBS said in its report.

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India’s Department of Telecommunications wants to hold a 5G spectrum sale by January 2020 at the latest, according to referenced sources.

Credit Suisse doesn’t expect that 5G spectrum sale to attract much interest.  That’s due to a mix of “high reserve prices, telcos’ focus on monetising 4G investments, stretched balance sheets, a nascent 5G ecosystem and lack of significant 5G use cases for mass consumption.”

Rajiv Sharma, co-head of research at SBICap Securities, said that Vodafone Idea is unlikely to bid for 5G spectrum at current base prices “as the telco doesn’t have an existing pan-India 4G network that is essential for any telco planning to spend top dollars on 5G,” according to the report.

Analysts believe that Reliance Jio will probably take part in the process, as it is the only profit-making telco in the Indian market.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had recently asked the Trai to lower the starting prices, which the regulator refused.  “There was a chance for the Trai to reduce 5G prices. Let’s see what the DoT does now. But at current rates, Airtel won’t buy,” Airtel’s executive reportedly said.

Vodafone Idea CEO Balesh Sharma has previously said that the prices recommended by the regulator were ‘exorbitant.’ The telco said it will participate in the next auction but did not confirm if it would buy 5G spectrum.

Hemant Joshi, partner at Deloitte India, said it would be “prudent to defer the 5G auction till 2020 at least since at Trai’s recommended base prices, the industry response may be very lukewarm.” He also said that the reserve prices need to be lowered, taking into account the experiences in countries where 5G spectrum was recently auctioned.

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Analysts said there are three things that India’s Centre for Telecom Excellence (within the DoT) must do immediately to hasten the adoption of 5G:

First, lay down a clear roadmap of spectrum availability and specify frequency bands aligned with global standards (IMT 2020 from ITU-R). Given that 5G services will be supporting massive data applications, operators will need adequate spectrum.

Editor’s Note:  India’s TSDSI has proposed a candidate IMT 2020 RIT based on Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC), but it hasn’t yet been accepted by ITU-R WP 5D.  TSDSI posted a revised and more comprehensive proposal on 10 September 2019, which will be evaluated at the next ITU-R WP 5D meeting in December.

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Second, there is a need to move away from the existing mechanism of pricing spectrum on a per MHz basis. 5G services require at least 80-100 Mhz of contiguous spectrum per operator. If the Centre were to fix the floor price based on the per Mhz price realised in the last auction then no operator would be able to afford buying 5G spectrum. The pricing, therefore, will have to be worked out anew, keeping in mind the financial stress in the telecom sector and affordability of services.

Finally, the Centre must rapidly complete the national fiber optic network rollout as 5G high speed services will require huge back-haul support for which existing microwave platforms will not be sufficient.

References:

Orange-Spain not rushing to join the “5G” deployment scramble and reveals why not

At the 5G Core Summit 2019 in Madrid, Orange España’s Head of Product Engineering-Tomas Alonso said his company was taking its time to deploy “5G,” despite pressure from other telcos, like Vodafone-Spain and Telefónica Móviles.  During his conference session titled Orange Spain on the Road to 5G, Alonso said that 5G technology is still not mature enough to make any real difference to customers and Spanish authorities are not helping operators deploy it.

Obviously that’s true, because all pre-standard 5G deployments use LTE signaling/control plane and mobile packet core (5G NSA). Also there is no ultra low latency in 3GPP Rel 15 5G NR. More on this 5G core topic below.

“I would summarize our work in two words; testing and learning. We do not launch the technology because of the technology. We launch the technology to offer a better customer experience,” said Alfonso.

Orange Spain is currently trialing 5G at various locations throughout the country, though there are no plans to speed up the commercial launch, which is currently set for some point in 2020.

Spanish wireless network operators also lack sufficient spectrum they need to provide a high-quality 5G service.  Spain held its 5G auction way back in July 2018, when Orange collected 60 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6GHz-3.8GHz band. The trouble, it seems, is that telcos’ band plans look like a piano with missing keys.

“In almost all cases, the spectrum is allocated in different packets,” said Alonso. “We need to do some shuffling to have contiguous bands so that we can provide the best experience in 5G.”

“The earliest date [for an auction] is the first half of next year,” Alonso added. That spectrum will be needed for “effective and efficient” mobile rollouts, he said.

Equally important, Alonso believes the 5G network equipment currently available remains “too heavy” and too power-hungry. “To be efficient, we need to wait a bit more and then have a better ROI [return on investment] when we deploy the network,” he said. There will be a stronger business case for 5G deployment when the equipment has been improved.

Also, Orange Spain’s wireless backhaul infrastructure must be upgraded, with more fiber optics urgently needed. Orange is leveraging  its investments in fiber-to-the-home networks — which today reaches more than 14 million Spanish households — and extending fiber optics links to mobile sites. But the job is not yet nearly completed.

As for the scarcity of “5G” devices: “They are all very high end today and [each] costs more than €1,000 [$1,100],” said Alonso. None is yet available that supports the “standalone” (SA) version of 5G, which uses a new 5G core network in conjunction with the 5G NR technology.

As the IMT 2020 standard is over one year away from completion, there is no European operator that can deploy a 5G mobile packet core.  In the meantime, operators are deploying services based on the “non-standalone” (NSA) system, which hitches the 5G New Radio to an existing 4G core. Alonso does not sound overly impressed. “So far, we have completely defined the enhanced mobile broadband [eMBB] functionality and in the second and third steps there will be newer standards for latency and mobile IoT [the Internet of Things],” he said. “Standalone will be mature in a matter of months … The real technology that will provide all the promises of 5G is not here.”

Orange Espagne S.A.U., more commonly known by its trade name of Orange España, is a mobile network operator in Spain. It was previously known as Amena, a brand of Retevisión, (Amena means pleasant in an amusing way in Spanish) until 2005, when it was bought by France Télécom (now Orange S.A.)

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According to Alonso, the biggest challenge is to change how the company works. “The way we deliver value to customers will be completely different from the way we deliver value to customers with current technology and so we are spending a lot of time on that,” he said. That overhaul appears to involve setting up dedicated 5G teams within the company and breaking down some of the silos that currently separate technical and commercial departments.

A further requirement is for some type of certifications process for security of 5G technology.(from device to access network to mobile packet core to edge network to ISP/content provider point of presence)  That’s endeavor is made much more difficult with no de facto or de jure 5G security standard (the work in ITU-T on IMT 2020 security is in its infancy). “Security is something we talk about a lot, but we need the sector to complete the analysis to have certifications,” said Alonso. “That is something we need in the short term.”

–>As Vodafone and other telcos race to deploy pre-standard 5G, the lack of any security system is a huge weakness, in this author’s opinion.

Network sharing is another important issue which the Orange Spain team will have to consider.  This will probably not prevent the telco from launching 5G services, though it will impact the rollout strategy. Reports have emerged suggesting the team is in conversation with Telefonica and MásMóvil over sharing non-critical 5G sites.  The idea of network sharing is becoming increasingly popular with telcos around the world, and it is easy to see why. During her own presentation, Lucy Lombardi of Telecom Italia quoting research from McKinsey, suggesting network sharing agreements could save as much as 40% of deployments costs for a telco. 5G is going to be a very expensive business, and any opportunity to reduce the financial burden will be strongly considered.

Some might disagree with the position of Orange Spain, but being first doesn’t necessarily mean best. Orange has shown itself to be one of the more considered, long term focused and successful telcos in Europe in recent years, so it would be quite reasonable to have confidence in the team.

 

References:

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/orange-spain-demands-5g-progress-ahead-of-2020-launch/d/d-id/754366?

http://telecoms.com/499911/orange-spain-not-going-to-be-rushed-into-5g-fracas/

 

5G’s positive impact on Telemedicine + “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) problem of small cells

The IEEE Techblog post below is an excerpt of a November 1, 2019 article titled 5G Is the Future, by Eric  Boehm- a reporter at Reason magazine. Reason magazine- Volume 51; Issue 6; ISSN:00486906.   Edits and additional comments by Alan J Weissberger.  You can read the entire article by subscribing to Reason here.

5G Impact on Telemedicine:

The ability to move more data more quickly between devices will open the door to new medical technologies, giving doctors volumes of information about patients even without being in the same room. That means telemedicine could finally be ready to go mainstream.

Market Research Future, a firm that predicts business trends, expects the American telemedicine market to grow by more than 16 percent annually from 2017 to 2023, in large part because faster connection speeds and lower latency will let doctors talk to and diagnose patients via high-definition video streamed from a phone. That could be a huge development for access to medical care-one that would be a boon for residents of rural areas, for the poor, and for the elderly. And everyone will benefit from spending less time sitting in a waiting room. If 4G gives you the ability to play Angry Birds until the doctor is ready to see you, 5G may let you skip the in-person visit altogether.

Some telemedicine will be fully automated, with wearable sensors providing real-time information about vital signs, falls, or physical activity, giving doctors a better understanding of a patient’s health with fewer invasive procedures. A Stanford University study estimates that, in 2020, Americans will produce 2,314 exabytes of medical data (an exabyte is equal to a billion gigabytes), up from a mere 153 exabytes in 2013.

“Those troves of information become the foundation for biomedical research,” the Stanford researchers conclude. “We are beginning to reconstruct the relationship between genes and life and health in ways that are likely to be transformative.”

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5G’S NIMBY Problem:

Some of the U.S. government policies that will dictate 5G’s future are being made right now at the State Department, the Commerce Department, and the FCC. But equally important is what happens in places like Washington, D.C. office of Mayor Muriel Bowser and the city council.  During an October 2018 hearing there, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Ann Mladinov voiced concern about the “visual clutter” that could result from having “so many additional poles holding small cell boxes over sidewalks and in other public space.” At the same hearing, another attendee told the council it should protect D.C. neighborhoods’ aesthetic qualities from being “put at risk for more corporate gain.” Like tall buildings and other forms ofvisible urban development, 5G has a “not in my backyard” (NIMBY) problem.  For sure, it will be exacerbated with 5G mmWave spectrum which requires many more small cells due to limited range.

Those complaints, and many more like them lodged with city councils across the country, have to do with the physical hardware that will be necessary for widespread 5G adoption. Mobile providers are ditching the traditional cell tower, the backbone of cellular networks since they first emerged, in favor of so-called “small cell” antennas. These devices-some no bigger than a backpack, others as large as a refrigerator-will be affixed to telephone poles and buildings. Because each one has a considerably smaller range than a tower, covering a whole city requires a small cell to be placed every few blocks, a potential point of friction for residents who dislike change. But the benefits for users will be large.

Not only will the physical components be capable of making faster connections, but the physical proximity to users and greater bandwidth will allow more devices to be connected at once. A 4G network can handle about 4,000 devices per square kilometer. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg has claimed that 5G networks will be able to handle up to 1 million devices within the same space.

“It’s going to introduce more competition, that’s for sure,” says Ian Adams, a 5G policy expert with TechFreedom, a nonprofit advocacy group. Because 5G mobile networks will offer speeds similar to wired connections, cable companies and traditional internet service providers will have more rivals. This may force them to innovate or lower prices, and the likely result will be better, cheaper online access for all.  But if the tradeoff is greater “visual clutter” on and above city streets, some people won’t be on the side of innovation.

In letters to the FCCtelecom companies have complained about a wide range of local regulations that have slowed the deployment of 5G infrastructure-often a result of trying to apply rules written for large cell towers to the small cell antennas. For example, one Pennsylvania town requires that an eight-foot fence be erected around any structure containing a small cell antenna. That’s common sense for older, larger towers, but it’s nonsensical for a device that can be attached to a telephone pole.

Similarly, AT&T complained that it has had to pause or decrease small cell deployments in parts of California, Maryland, and Massachusetts due to high fees, and that some municipalities in Washington and New York have used restrictive zoning to limit the placement of small cell antennas. Timing is also an issue. The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA), an industry group, claims that about a third of all wireless antenna approvals exceed the 90-day limit for review that the FCC established in 2009. In one extreme case, the town of Paramus, New Jersey, spent five years considering a Sprint application for a new cell site before denying the request. In Greenburgh, New York, a small cell contractor faced a review process for a single antenna that “took approximately two years and nearly twenty meetings, with constantly shifting demands,” the WIA says. When a telecom company wanted to attach 23 small cells to the sides of Houston’s NRG Stadium, it first had to spend $180,000 in mandatory historic review fees. The stadium was built in 2002.

In taking action to curb the worst abuses, the FCC is attempting to strike a balance between innovation and local control. The agency estimates that streamlining the approval process will save telecoms $2 billion that can be put toward further expansion of their 5G networks.

But federal pre-emption is always going to be an imperfect solution. Ideally, telecom companies would negotiate with individual property owners to obtain the right to place small cell antennas on the sides of buildings or atop privately owned poles. But local governments generally control where such devices can be installed and how much companies are required to pay for the privilege.

It’s fine for residents to voice their opinions, of course, but “a local government shouldn’t get to impede the development of a national infrastructure,” says Adams. “Putting guardrails on particularly egregious local actions,” as the FCC has tried to do, is “important if we want to have uniformity of infrastructure.”

The local interference can indeed be egregious. In 2015, San Jose, California, started charging telecom companies $3,500 for each small cell antenna installed-far more than what similarly sized cities like Phoenix ($100) and Indianapolis ($50) charge for the right to install the same equipment. By 2018, it was apparent that the costs were causing San Jose to fall behind in the early stages of 5G deployment. So the city reconfigured the per-antenna fee into a $1 million one-time payment coupled with ongoing tax obligations. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo promised to use the revenue for a “Digital Inclusion Fund” that would spend $24 million bringing high-speed internet to 50,000 low-income households within the next 10 years.

The FCC’s new rules put an end to that shakedown. By capping the fees that localities can charge for installing 5G small cell antennas, it ensured that companies like T-Mobile and Verizon don’t have to pay off cities like San Jose for the right to bring residents high-speed mobile internet.

Shireen Santosham, the chief innovation officer within the San Jose mayor’s office, has called the FCC’s rules “a $2 billion taxpayer-funded subsidy to corporate interests.” But that’s hardly accurate. The new policy doesn’t require that taxpayers underwrite the 5G rollout. It only prevents cities from extorting telecom companies for the right to deploy small antennas. Keeping those dollars out of city tax coffers means the companies will be able to invest in infrastructure where they know it’s needed rather than where bureaucrats decide it should go.

Governments should strive to make “an honest assessment of where the market is,” says Pai, “recognizing that government can’t predict and shouldn’t micromanage the future, and getting rid of the red tape that stifles innovation and progress.”

FCC vs Dept of Commerce on 5G mmWave at 24 GHz:

In May, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which are jointly responsible for America’s fleet of weather-tracking satellites, complained to Congress that 5G cellphone signals in the 24 GHz band could interfere with satellites that read water vapor signals coming off the ocean. Among other things, those satellites are critical for forecasting the paths of tropical storms. In 2012, for example, they correctly predicted that Hurricane Sandy would make an unusual westward turn toward the New York City metro area. Without that tip, the disaster could have been far worse.

NOAA relies on a signal band that runs between 23.6 GHz and 24 GHz, so there won’t be direct overlap with the 24 GHz space that the mobile companies bought, which is currently unused. The federal weathermen say things could get cloudy along the very edges, where the bands run up against one another. Pai’s agency predicts sunny skies ahead because there’s already a buffer zone between the two bandwidths-and because independent testing commissioned by the FCC has concluded that there’s no need to worry.

“The assumptions that undergird [NOAA’s 5G interference claims] are fundamentally flawed,” Pai told the Senate Commerce Committee in June. Among other things, the NOAA study did not take into account the fact that 5G signals will be more focused (“beam-forming signals,” in industry lingo) than the signals sent by traditional cellphone towers, which broadcast in all directions.

In the two years since NOAA initially objected, the agency has not completed a follow-up study to confirm its worries about interference. FCC Chairman Pai told lawmakers he was frustrated by the holdups. “The Department of Commerce [which oversees NOAA] has been blocking our efforts at every single turn,” he said.

If the possibility of interference with weather satellites “is truly a technical problem,” says Joel Thayer, policy counsel for The App Association, which represents more than 5,000 app makers and mobile device companies, “then these agencies can solve it with technical solutions instead of performing political theater.”

Conclusions:

Realistically, 5G technology is going to make everyone better off, even if we can’t predict exactly how. When the first 4G smartphones went on the market in 2009, they were expected to usher in an explosion of new apps and other software. But few could have predicted the specifics, from Uber to Fortnite.

The same will be true for the 5G era. Brent Skorup, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, predicts we’ll get “warehouse-floor robots that self-organize shipments, remotely operated electric air taxis that carry passengers high above rush-hour traffic, or smart glasses that connect blind people with professional guides who use audiovideo feeds to help wearers get around.”

Fast mobile connectivity is the foundation for whatever future innovations may develop. It promises more jobs, better communication, more enjoyable leisure time, and medical advances that let us live longer. “The speed of our connections is the speed of commerce,” says Adams, who favors the mostly hands-off approach the FCC has been taking with the 5G rollout. Whether for work or for play, he says, “the availability of virtually unlimited data is only going to improve the quality of life.”

The ability to move more data more quickly will open the door to new medical technologies, giving doctors volumes of information about patients even without being in the same room.

KT has >1M “5G” subscribers; 5G roaming agreements announced with 3 European telcos

KT, South Korea’s second largest operator (SK Telecom is #1), has announced its (pre-standard) 5G subscriber base has gone past the one million mark just five months after its 5G service was launched.

More importantly, KT also said it has entered into 5G roaming agreements with operators in Italy, Switzerland, and Finland.   Specifically, KT has partnered with Telecom Italia Mobile in Italy, which is the largest telco in the country with over 31.7 million subscribers. The Italian telco is currently providing 5G services in Rome, Napoli, and Turin.  In Switzerland, KT has partnered with the local telco Sunrise. Sunrise currently provides 5G connectivity to 262 cities, including Geneva and Zurich. In Finland, it has paired with Elisa which provides in 5G services in five cities, including Helsinki.  That means that KT’s 5G subscribers will be able to use the 5G networks provided by those three operators in the three European countries.

KT has standing agreements with operators in 185 countries for 3G and 4G-LTE roaming. The operator aims to extend those agreements to 5G when 5G services go live in those countries. Prior to the agreements with the three European countries, KT had already set up a similar agreement with China Mobile, despite the fact it hasn’t launched services yet.

According to KT’s price proposals at the time of its 5G launch, customers on the starting package (paying KRW 55,000, or $46 per month) will have 8 GB roaming data while overseas, with the speed capped at 1 Mbps. Those on higher tiers (paying KRW 80,000 ($67) or KRW 100,000 ($84) per month) will have unlimited roaming data, but the speed will be capped at 100 Kbps. Customers on the premium tier of the 5G service (KRW 130,000, or $109, per month) will have the speed limited lifted to 3 Mbps.

Image result for image of KT - korea telecom 5G

KT’s “5G” Buses, which are equipped with transparent displays that give the South Korean passengers a taste of the 5G service, Giga-live TV.

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KT is not the first South Korean operator to tie 5G roaming partnerships.  We reported in July that SK Telecom 5G subscribers will be able to connect to Swisscom while travelling in Switzerland, while those on LG U+ will be able to connect to China Unicom’s 5G when travelling to its neighboring country, after the latter’s 5G service goes live.

A concern for KT 5G users intending to visit Europe is that the roaming can only be done on Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the vendor’s first 5G smartphone, though KT said the service will be extended to other devices soon. Earlier this month, at IFA in Berlin, Samsung announced that it had already sold 2 million 5G smartphones and expected to double the volume to 4 million by the end of the year.

Korean telcos  have also started performing tests on 5G standalone networks using mmWave spectrum. The standalone networks are expected to be deployed sometime next year.

References:

http://telecoms.com/499860/kts-one-million-5g-subs-may-now-roam-in-europe-and-stay-on-5g/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/kt-rolls-out-5g-roaming-services-in-europe/

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/07/15/sk-telecom-with-swisscom-worlds-first-5g-roaming-service/

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