Qualcomm unveils 5G and AI-Enabled Drone Platform

Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. is showing off what is says is the world’s first drone platform and reference design to offer both 5G and AI-capabilities, the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform.

The company says the drone reference design helps accelerate development for commercial, enterprise, and industrial drones, and unleashes innovative possibilities for industries looking to adopt drone solutions and realize the benefits of the intelligent edge.   5G connectivity — including mmWave and sub-6 GHz bands — and WiFi 6. The chip-maker says the networking tech can help support drone-to-drone communications and drone swarms. Both use cases are being explored across industries, from delivering and transporting goods to aerial light displays to military warfare.

The drone model below is includes an embedded Qualcomm® QRB5165 processor and a Qualcomm Spectra 480 Image Signal Processor that can capture 200 megapixel photos and 8K video at 30 FPS. In addition, the drone can record in 4K at 120 FPS with support for HDR.

Image Credit: Qualcomm


The company says that the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform brings cutting-edge capabilities to the drone industry by condensing multiple complex technologies into one tightly integrated drone system to support evolving applications and new use cases in sectors including film and entertainment, security and emergency response, delivery, defense, inspection, and mapping.

At its core, the Flight RB5 5G platform uses the QRB5165 processor and Kryo 585 CPU and Adreno 650 GPU, based on the Snapdragon 865 CPU. The AI enhancements come by way of the Hexagon Tensor Accelerator in the Hexagon 698 DSP. Third-parties that use the platform will also get access to a trio of software development kits for neural processing, computer vision and multimedia applications.

The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform’s high-performance and heterogeneous computing at ultra-low power consumption provides power efficient inferencing at the edge for AI and Machine Learning (ML) enabling fully autonomous drones.  Breakthrough camera capabilities deliver premium image capabilities and performance. With 5G and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, this platform enhances critical flying abilities beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) to support safer, more reliable flight. In addition, safety controls alone can no longer assure industrial and commercial drone safety, especially when scaling to Beyond Visual Line of Sight operations. The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform is equipped with a Qualcomm® Secure Processing Unit to support modern drone demands for cybersecurity protections as a key enabler of data-protection and safety requirements.

Qualcomm Technologies is working with Verizon to complete network testing of the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform for the Verizon 5G network, and expects the platform, which is 5G mmWave capable, will be offered via the Verizon Thingspace Marketplace.

The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G drone reference design is available for pre-sale now through ModalAI. The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G development kit is expected to be available in Q4 of 2021. For more information on the platform, including technical features, please visit the product details page here.


Qualcomm first got involved in drones in 2015, then ventured into robotics in 2019. Last year it combined the two technologies in its RB5 platform. Chad Sweet’s ModalAI, which in 2018 spun out of Qualcomm, will manufacture and distribute the drone platform, and says the first development kits will ship in the last three months of this year.

Qualcomm, which already commands a huge lead in the 4G/5G smartphone industry, is hoping its Snapdragon chipsets can be the silicon that pushes 5G into a wider range of other devices.  The company has made a series of drone platforms since its first, Qualcomm Flight, in 2018.


Global carriers and IoT ecosystem leaders showcase validation and support for Qualcomm Technologies latest drone solution:   

Asia Pacific Telecom

“As the leader in innovative telecom services in Taiwan, Asia Pacific Telecom Co., Ltd (APT) is excited to work with one of our most important strategic collaborators, Qualcomm Technologies on the support of 5G and AI-enabled drones. APT provides 5G and application integration services to advance the performance of robots and drones in different perspectives. We truly believe that 5G capabilities built into the platform will enable new autonomous drone experiences,” said Mr. Shang-Chen Kao, chief technology officer, network and technology center, Asia Pacific Telecom.


“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, including delivery, inspections, and search and rescue, which will require a highly secure and reliable connection. We are excited to see Qualcomm Technologies continue to innovate with their latest announcement on a platform for 5G drones,” said Kevin Hetrick, vice-president, access construction and engineering, AT&T.

China Unicom  

“The 5G-enabled digital era has brought wider boundaries for every industry and China Unicom is committed to pushing the boundaries of the traditional communications ecosystem and working together with the industrial chain to realize mutual complementarity. As one of our important collaborators, Qualcomm Technologies has been working with China Unicom to drive integration of 5G and IoT into vertical use cases and provide products such as 5G modules and 5G industrial gateways for automation and robotics use cases, with focused areas including industrial equipment, iron and steel manufacturing, transportation and port, mining and energy, and healthcare,” said Li Kai, chief product officer, IoT division, China Unicom Digital Technology Company Limited. “We believe the announcement of the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform will benefit more use cases. China Unicom is looking forward to deepening collaborations with Qualcomm Technologies in IoT and jointly creating a new blueprint for 5G in the future.”


“Use of drones to capture imagery for construction site topographic mapping, construction progress tracking, security surveillance and equipment tracking in combination with IoT sensors that are deployed on construction sites are revolutionizing how construction projects are delivered! 5G enabled data from drones can be leveraged to unleash the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms yielding massive improvements in the safety, efficiency and productivity of construction projects,” said Sandeep Pandya, chief executive officer, Everguard.ai.


“By working with Qualcomm Technologies, we have seamlessly installed  the FlightOps onboard software on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, allowing for unparalleled performance, compute power, low energy footprint, high quality video processing and high speed 5G connectivity to achieve high levels of autonomy and mission scalability,” said Shay Levy, chief executive officer, FlightOps.


“Qualcomm Technologies has been a leader of breakthrough technologies for years and their announcement of the world’s first 5G, AI-enabled drone platform – the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform – is the latest example of their continued innovation. We at Juganu are excited to work with Qualcomm Technologies as they continue to push the boundaries of technology and look forward to using these technologies to innovate across our own smart technology quickly, safely and securely,” said chief strategy officer, Eran Efrati, Juganu.

KT Corporation

“KT is excited to see Qualcomm Technologies bringing cutting-edge 5G drone technology based on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform. We’re leveraging our deep expertise in translating diverse services and use cases into reality across vertical industries,” said Byungkyun Kim, head of device business unit, KT. “We expect Qualcomm Technologies will expand the 5G–based drone industry and pave a way to the development of the drones based on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform.”

LG Uplus

“Qualcomm Technologies’ launch of the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform has great significance to the drone ecosystem as the integration of drones with 5G communication and AI technology can maximize drone usability and convenience,” said Youngseo Jeon, B2B service development director, LG Uplus. “We are expecting U+ smart drone service which contains telecommunication, control, and video will combine with the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and play a key role across diverse drone industry fields.”


“The reliability, availability, and low latency of 5G enable previously unavailable command and control of UAS, solving critical UAS safety considerations and enabling operation beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). With this connectivity and the added benefit of moving intelligence to the edge, we are now beginning to realize real solutions with significant impact on business and our everyday lives,” said Rakesh Kushwaha, managing director, MITRE Engenuity Open Generation. “The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform brings advanced intelligence to autonomous decisions, enabling detect and avoid (DAA) even beyond network connectivity. It is a game changer. We are looking forward to having Qualcomm Technologies participate in the MITRE Engenuity Open Generation.”


“ModalAI accelerates autonomy by providing innovators with robot and drone perception and communications systems. Since our founding, we have committed to enabling aerial and ground robot manufacturers with capabilities that can excel a broad set of industries. We are thrilled to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies to bring the first purpose-built 5G drone that opens cutting-edge computing to a broad set of integrators who can build their applications that take advantage of the coming aerial 5G wave,” said Chad Sweet, chief executive officer, co-founder, ModalAI.

Taiwan Mobile

“We are glad to see Qualcomm Technologies innovate on the 5G drone application continuously, including enterprise-related solutions. Taiwan Mobile offers “real 5G” services with safer and faster advantages to support creative development, and get together with Open Possible,” said Mr. C. H. Wu, vice president, chief enterprise business officer, Taiwan Mobile.


“TDK is extremely excited to join with Qualcomm Technologies on such a state-of-the-art drone platform,” said Peter Hartwell, chief technology officer, InvenSense, a TDK Group Company.  “TDK has a multi-technology focus on Robotics across a robust product portfolio – much of which can be found on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and TDK Mezzanine platforms.  Our decision to collaborate with Qualcomm Technologies to utilize breakthrough sensor technology alongside the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform, which I believe to be most innovative drone reference design in the world.”


“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, including monitoring critical infrastructure, crowd management, and emergency response which includes detection, containment and extinguishing of wildfires, reporting on crop health, monitoring of livestock and irrigation systems at large acreage farms, and much more. The large majority of these use cases require a highly secure and reliable connection that can be more readily supported with 5G connections. We are excited to see Qualcomm Technologies continuing to push the boundaries of innovation with their latest announcement on the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform and we at Veea are looking forward to using these technologies to innovate across our deployments of hybrid edge-cloud solutions such as at large farms, wildlife parks, stadiums, smart cities, large construction sites and similar projects,” said Allen Salmasi, chief executive officer, Veea.

Verizon Skyward

“The Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform provides a robust hardware platform that can be certified for the Verizon 5G network, offering the ecosystem of drone developers a simple path to get connected. That means drones built with the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform can leverage the massive capacity of Verizon 5G Ultra-Wideband to navigate the National Airspace System in safer and more productive ways than ever before,” said Eric T. Ringer, co-founder, chief of staff, Skyward, a Verizon company.


“Many of the anticipated benefits of drones will be further accelerated and strengthened with 5G, which provides a high bandwidth connection that is secure and reliable,” said Sanjay Govil, founder and chief executive officer, Zyter, Inc. “We are excited to begin leveraging and integrating the Qualcomm Flight RB5 5G Platform for 5G drones into our own SmartSpaces™ IoT solutions for smart campuses and cities, smart construction, and other applications.”

About Qualcomm (from the company):

Qualcomm is the world’s leading wireless technology innovator and the driving force behind the development, launch, and expansion of 5G. When we connected the phone to the internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our foundational technologies enable the mobile ecosystem and are found in every 3G, 4G and 5G smartphone. We bring the benefits of mobile to new industries, including automotive, the internet of things, and computing, and are leading the way to a world where everything and everyone can communicate and interact seamlessly.

Qualcomm Incorporated includes the company’s intellectual property licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of their patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of our engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of our products and services businesses, including the QCT semiconductor business.






ABI Research and Mobile Experts: Fixed Wireless Access CAGR >=70%

ABI Research and Mobile Experts forecast that 5G FWA connections will increase at a compound annual growth rate of 71% and “over 70%,” respectively.

Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will be among the most valuable use cases for LTE and 5G network operators, according to two new reports that predict compound annual growth rates in excess of 70%.

  • ABI Research expects global 5G fixed wireless access to exceed 58 million residential subscribers by 2026.
  • Mobile Experts predicts 5G fixed wireless access to serve 66.5 million customers by 2026.

FWA is a decades-old technology (that’s how WiMAX was deployed), but its prominence and rate of growth grew substantially during the last year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced billions of people worldwide to stay home (“shelter in place”).

Image Credit: Upward Broadband


ABI Research:

Remote working, online learning, e-commerce, and virtual healthcare drove high-speed broadband demand throughout 2020. The significant increase in the use of internet-based home entertainment such as video streaming and online gaming also pushed existing broadband users to upgrade their broadband service to a higher-tier package, while households without broadband access signed up for new subscriptions.

“Increasing adoption of internet-connected devices, smart TVs, and smart home devices, as well as consumers’ media consumption through internet applications, will continue to drive high-speed broadband adoption in the years to come. In addition, many businesses are allowing remote working for some of their employees after the pandemic, which will boost the need for home broadband services even further,” explains Khin Sandi Lynn, Industry Analyst at ABI Research.

FWA will be the fastest-growing residential broadband segment, forecast to increase at a CAGR of 71%, exceeding 58 million subscribers in 2026.

As residential broadband penetration saturates mature markets, competition among broadband operators is likely to create challenges to maintain market shares. “In addition to network upgrades, broadband operators need to invest in cutting-edge software and hardware to optimize network performance and support better user experiences. Providing advanced home networking devices, internet security, and home network self-diagnosis tools can help service providers reduce churn and improve average revenue per user,” Lynn concluded.


Mobile Experts:

Mobile Experts forecasts the number of global fixed wireless access connections will more than double to 190 million by 2026.  FWA services grew almost 20% yearly to over 80 million in 2020—Mobile Experts sees that number rocketing to almost 200 million by 2026. Around 8-11% of FWA connections over the next five years will be served via proprietary technology primarily deployed by small operators.

FWA equipment sales, including IEEE 802.11 based proprietary, LTE, and 5G CPE revenue, are projected to grow from $4.0 billion this year to over $5.5 billion in 2026. Meanwhile, the proprietary equipment market, including both access point and CPE sales, is expected to stay elevated around $880$940 million per annum over the next five years.

“Large mobile operators will leverage LTE and 5G for FWA services, and we expect the 5G mm-wave will become a key aspect of their long-term FWA plans—especially in ‘fiber-rich’ markets in the APAC region. That said, large and small operators will benefit from government funding to help build out hybrid fiber plus FWA networks for the next 5-10 years,” said Principal Analyst Kyung Mun.

This report includes 41 charts and diagrams, including a five-year forecast illustrating the growth of the market for infrastructure and customer premise equipment and fixed wireless access connections by technology. Key details such as technical breakdowns, equipment revenue, and market shares are included.








NTT launches “global” private 5G network as Network-as-a-Service platform

NTT today announced the launch of its Private 5G platform (P5G), the first globally available private LTE/5G Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) platform. The Japanese company states that NTT P5G will enable Chief Information Officers and Chief Digital Officers leverage the benefits of private 5G (?) to solve business problems and innovate to keep pace with the future of enterprise.

NTT says that their Private 5G platform provides a suite of services built to help Chief Information Officers and Chief Digital Officers drive business outcomes and unlock innovative business models that drive the future of enterprise across industries.

  • NTT Private 5G platform offers a single end-to-end management and service creation platform with global visibility, eliminating friction and increasing ROI.
  • NTT Private 5G is purpose-built to solve enterprise business challenges with a platform that goes beyond connectivity, providing security, device and edge management, application development, big data analytics and deep back-office integration.
  • Wireless industry leader Shahid Ahmed joins NTT as EVP of New Ventures and Innovation to pioneer the Private 5G service portfolio and accelerate ecosystem collaboration.

Running on a cloud-native architecture, the platform can be delivered via cloud, on-premises, or at the edge. The platform is pre-integrated with leading network and software partners (unnamed), allowing enterprises to secure, scale and segment their network flexibly. With patent-pending MicroSlicing™ technology (?), NTT P5G allows mission-critical apps to leverage the advantages of private 5G.

Fueling enterprise digital transformation with cloud-based economics and automation is at the heart of NTT’s vision for private 5G. NTT is focused on driving the global acceleration of private 5G to meet the fast-evolving needs of enterprises across industries, including automotive, manufacturing, healthcare, and retail to create unprecedented alignment of data, connectivity, security, and communications. NTT is the only provider that offers a best-in-class global network, deep vertical expertise, and a full suite of application development and management capabilities.

“As a key partner in our digital transformation journey, NTT has an impressive track record of building and supporting new technologies that help CXOs solve critical business challenges,” said Javier Polit, Chief Information & Global Digital Services Officer of Mondelēz International. “NTT’s unique approach to Private 5G offerings provides the kind of agility and insight that we will need to further accelerate our business.”

NTT appointed wireless industry leader Shahid Ahmed as EVP of New Ventures and Innovation to pioneer the Private 5G service portfolio, drive digital transformation outcomes for clients, and deepen ecosystem collaboration.

Shahid Ahmed, NTT EVP of New Ventures and Innovation

Shahid brings over 25 years of technology experience focused on business transformation, including key leadership roles at Accenture, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and Sprint. In addition, he is an appointed advisor to the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

“Global enterprises are looking for a single private 5G solution to deploy across multiple countries. They need one truly private network, one point of accountability, one management platform, and one solution partner that eliminates all the major friction points across the entire global footprint of the enterprise,” said Shahid Ahmed, NTT Ltd. EVP New Ventures and Innovation. “Our NTT P5G offering supports many of the CXO requirements today, and we will continue to invest in P5G as enterprise adoption evolves.”

“The private 5G technology has the potential to fundamentally change the way enterprises drive digital transformation,” said Ghassan Abdo, Research Vice President at IDC. “NTT has a strong track record of focusing on breadth of service, and NTT P5G capabilities extend far beyond basic connectivity to offer a comprehensive suite of services geared toward important business outcomes.”

“As data and mobility become more critical to business operations, 5G will enable enterprises to reinvent business operations. With faster speeds and more data, 5G will facilitate advances in artificial intelligence, automation, and IoT,” said Eric Clark, NTT Data Services North America Chief Digital and Strategy Officer. “How a company collects, stores, and uses that data in real-time will be critical to success, and NTT is well positioned to guide our clients on this journey.”

NTT group companies are jointly accelerating the adoption of open and virtualized 5G solutions globally in collaboration with ecosystem stakeholder. The company says this comprehensive approach enables NTT to provide a full suite of digital transformation services (undefined).


Missing Pieces:

Names of partner companies were not disclosed. The only reference was that NTT P5G was “pre-integrated with leading network and software partners.”

Mondelēz International, with a presence in over 150 countries, is a customer (see above quote), but it was unclear whether they were an active user of NTT P5G and, if so, in which countries.

No other customers were announced or quoted, although the Cologne Bonn Airport said in May that they had “partnered with NTT to develop a wholly private 5G mobile network across its 1,000 hectares premises.  Under this joint research and cooperation project, the duo will work on technological innovations, including border control and intelligent luggage checking. The aim of the collaboration is to enhance the operational efficiency of the airport.

Finally, NTT’s “patent-pending MicroSlicing technology,” was not defined other than it “allows mission-critical apps to leverage the advantages of private 5G.”

In conclusion, NTT needs to produce case studies which demonstrate the benefits that P5G brings to enterprise customers, such as Bonn-Cologne airport and Mondelēz International.  Also, more details on the functionality are urgently needed.






Dell’Oro: MEC Investments to grow at 140% CAGR from 2020 to 2025

Dell’Oro Group has published an update to its Multi-Access Edge Computer (MEC) 5-year forecast report. According to Dave Bolan, Research Director, Dell’Oro has lowered their expectations from the previous forecast, because of the slower start than anticipated for 5G SA buildouts, especially for federated MEC capability.

MEC investments are expected to increase at a 140% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in Servers and Packet Core User Plane Functions over the next five years. However, MEC specifications need to evolve for federated MEC networking to address broader requirements in the market.
“The cumulative five-year investment in MEC is expected to be $11B.  Approximately 60% of the revenues will come in 2025. Though it looks lopsided in terms of 2025 revenues, when you look at units, the MEC servers are split almost 50/50 between Public MEC and Private MEC (on-premises), wrote David Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group.
“Though the CAGR is the same as our previous forecast, the cumulative forecast has decreased due to a slower than anticipated wide-scale launches of 5G Standalone (5G SA) networks. This may be due to 5G service providers (SPs) investigating the role that Public Cloud SPs could play in their networks.”
Image Credit:  Dell’Oro Group (Dave Bolan)
“Another factor may be the need for specifications for federated MEC networking,” commented Bolan. “European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) MEC committee and GSM Association (GSMA) Operator Platform Group just released their requirements for federated MEC networking, identifying seven uses cases that the SP community needs,” added Bolan.
ETSI Model of MEC:
“While MEC can be done for both 4G and 5G, 4G networks need to be upgraded with control and user plane separation. That separation is inherent in 5G.  Another inherent characteristic of 5G is lower latency than 4G LTE. While the forecast has some 4G MEC, the vast majority is based on 5G standalone for MEC to reach its full potential.”
Dell’Oro Group’s Multi-Access Edge Computing Advanced Research Report offers a complete overview of the market opportunity for the Infrastructure Edge to reduce latency. MEC is a new networking technology designed to capitalize on the opportunity. The market is segmented by Public MEC and Private MEC, and offers a worldwide view of the total available market in revenue and units. The MEC Report includes Definition and Scope, Market Drivers, Use Cases, System Architecture, Vendor Ecosystem, US MEC System Deployment Model, and a 5-year MEC Revenues and Shipments Forecast for Servers and the packet core User Plane Functions.
To purchase the report, please email dgsales@delloro.com.

Dish Network’s 5G test network delayed; no firm date for commercial 5G service

We all know that Dish Network’s satellite TV business has been declining for years.  Their prepaid Boost Mobile MVNO business is also declining, but that isn’t very important either.

[Dish’s existing prepaid business is largely from the acquisition of the Boost business from T-Mobile, Dish lost 201,000 subscribers in the period, fewer than the -254,000 expected by analysts, but more than the -132,000 expected by New Street Research. Dish ended the quarter with 8.89 million retail wireless subs.]

What really matters is the 5G/O-RAN business they are building with help from Amazon’s AWS. We may not find out anything important about that business for months. See analyst comment at the end of this article.

Dish’s planned 5G test market in Las Vegas, NV will show us whether they can get the network to work. Will they be able to do it for less than the $10B CAPEX to which they have estimated?

That 5G test network is about a quarter behind schedule! The company now says it will run a beta trial for at least 90 days there before pushing ahead with a commercial launch in Las Vegas, possibly in early 2022.  However, the timing of commercial 5G is uncertain as per remarks by W. Erik Carlson, Dish President and Chief Executive Officer on their 2Q2021 earnings call:

“We have to see what — how our beta goes, right. So I’m going to beta test now, for service of a different sort then I think about nine months in the beta. So it depends on — we don’t think that’s where we are. But we have to get more data on the beta to know when we roll that. We want to roll — we get a first impression, and we want it to be a good first impression. Obviously we have — we do — and as soon as — everything we learn in Vegas goes directly into the other network, so we can line up it the same time. So the bottom line is that it’s going to be a minimum 90 days, and if we do our jobs correctly and our vendors do our jobs correctly, then we’re going to be ready for prime time at the first of the year.”


Dish will have 5G construction activities in Las Vegas “substantially complete” within the next 60 days and prior to the end of Q3 2021, Dave Mayo, Dish’s EVP of network development, said Monday on Dish’s Q2 2021 earnings call.

“I think we’ll be in beta for a minimum of 90 days,” said Charlie Ergen, Dish’s chairman, noting that the initial network launch there will feature Dish’s 5G core network being placed in the cloud.

Most of the traffic for the trial will run on Dish’s 5G network. But Ergen noted that the added integration of AT&T’s network in the wake of the recently signed network deal between Dish and AT&T, alongside work already underway to tie into T-Mobile’s network, is one of the reasons for the anticipated 3 month duration of the Las Vegas 5G trial. However, he expects most of the 5G network usage in Las Vegas to run on Dish’s network with AT&T’s network in support.

[Dish’s new MNVO agreement with AT&T means that their focus for the next five years can be on the FCC’s buildout requirements – 70% of each AWS-3 license by June 2025 – and they no longer need to worry after that.]

Dish has yet to announce pricing and packaging for the Las Vegas beta trial and beyond. “We will have a retail presence and we will have offers for consumers that we think will be competitive,” said Ergen. Dish is already seeking testers through its “Project Gene5is” sign-up site.

Dish has commenced 5G network construction on close to 30 “geographies” within the four regions and 36 markets being targeted via the company’s decentralized approach, said Mayo. Much of that early market activity centers on where Dish is collocated with tower companies.

“In that regard we’ve signed substantially all of the leases that are required to meet our 20% mandate for next June and have received notices to proceed on close to one-third of the sites,” said Mayo, noting that, in some cases, there are multiple geographies within a market that are being targeted.

Dish has signed tower lease agreements with each of the big four cell tower companies. Dish Network’s SEC 10-Q report states their “other long-term obligations,” which represent “minimum payments related to tower obligations, certain 5G Network Deployment commitments and satellite-related and other obligations.”

The total tower obligation is up from $8.5B last quarter to $8.8B his quarter, with the largest increase (more than $400M) now called for over the balance of 2021.

Ergen also allowed that it’s “plausible” that Dish could work with enterprise customers to help finance some of the 5G buildout, particularly among those that would use slices of Dish’s 5G network to power private networks.


Stephen Bye, EVP and chief commercial officer for Dish’s wireless business, confirmed that the deal does enable AT&T to deploy Dish’s spectrum for all customers on its network.

“We’re seeing significant traction and interest today in private networks and private 5G networks, and the architecture we’re deploying really enables a level of control and a much deeper layer of security that allows the enterprise to utilize that network for their own business operations,” said Bye.

He added that Dish is responding to multiple requests from enterprises and currently working on proof of concepts. “We’re seeing interest across every vertical and every industrial segment and we’re very well positioned to take the architecture that we’re deploying, being cloud native, but also the open architecture and the ability to do (network) slicing, it is distinctively unique compared to what the operators have in the market today.”


Dish has not announced a fixed wireless broadband for its upcoming 5G network, but Ergen said he wouldn’t rule it out amid ongoing government-backed subsidy efforts focused on unserved or underserved parts of the country.

“I think fixed wireless is a place where the wireless industry can go,” he said, citing Verizon’s and AT&T’s activity there. The amount of money being plowed into infrastructure is a “positive for all connectivity companies,” Ergen added.


Analyst and colleague Craig Moffett was not able to value Dish Network as a company, because of so many unknowns about their 5G/O-RAN efforts.  He wrote in a note to clients:

There is little one can do here to arrive at an empirically justifiable valuation. Making estimates for subscribers, ARPU, and operating margins would be, at this point, absurd; we have no basis for estimating any of those. So what’s left is merely… sentiment.

Is building a 5G network going to be a good idea? Can it be done at a reasonable cost? If one believes the answer to these questions is “yes,” then one will be positively inclined towards Dish’s equity. If not, then, well, not. It is very unlikely that we will learn anything more anytime soon. (Edited by Alan J Weissberger)








AT&T to be the primary network services provider for DISH MVNO customers

Analysis of Dish Network – AWS partnership to build 5G Open RAN cloud native network


ZTE and China Telecom deploy QCell 5G SuperMIMO solution

ZTE Corporation together with the Quanzhou Branch of China Telecom, have deployed the QCell 5G SuperMIMO solution in Quanzhou, China.

The Qcell 5G SuperMIMO solution can combine Super cell and MU-MIMO technologies, to adaptively perform multi-User Endpoint (UE) space division pairing. The solution is applicable to both digital QCell and traditional distributed antenna systems (DAS), which effectively solves the “interference” vs “capacity” tradeoff, while exponentially increasing user perception.

As the field test results show, the QCell super cell throughput is 1.07Gbps before SuperMIMO is enabled.  It reaches 2.2Gbps, 3Gbps and 4.05Gbps respectively after it’s been enabled. That greatly improves user experiences with 2 UE, 3 UE and 4 UE performing services at the same time.

In 2020, ZTE and China Telecom jointly launched the innovative 2.1GHz NR eDAS indoor distribution solution, which is the first 5G network performance improvement solution based on the traditional 2.1GHz NR indoor distribution system in the industry. The solution successfully overcomes the bottleneck of the traditional system.

SuperMIMO has developed into another innovative indoor distribution technology following the eDAS solution, thereby demonstrating the strength of the Quanzhou Branch of China Telecom and ZTE in the research and innovative applications of communication networks.

Moving forward, both parties will  be further committed to building high-quality 5G networks for their users through technical innovations.

Quanzhou, China.  Photo Credit: ZTE Corporation


Previously,  ZTE and the Jiangsu branch of China Telecom  deployed 5G 200 MHz Qcell 4T4R digital indoor distribution system in areas with high amounts of data traffic, such as shopping malls and subway stations, in Xuzhou, China.

The system provides high-quality 5G indoor coverage, and accelerates future 5G indoor system deployment. This commercial deployment has employed ZTE’s latest 5G Qcell ultra-wideband product series, which supports 200MHz continuous ultra-large bandwidth at 3.5 GHz frequency band, and 100MHz+100MHZ dual-carrier aggregation technology that doubles download rate.





Jio and Airtel against 5Gi standard; 2 GHz of mid-band needed for India 5G demand

Indian telecom operators have informed the India Department of Telecommunications (DoT) that the so-called Indian component of the ITU 5G RAN recommendation M.2150 (Low Mobility Large Cell/LMLC or 5Gi), doesn’t have a device ecosystem and it should only be considered as optional and non-mandatory for the telecom industry.  They said that making the 5Gi standard mandatory would increase prices of smartphones.


TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface Technology, referred to as LMLC or “5Gi” cleared the rigorous processes of  International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and has been approved by ITU-R WP 5D and then ITU-R SG5 as a part of Draft Recommendation M.[IMT-2020.SPECS] in its meeting held on 23rd November 2020.  That recommendation was approved by ITU-R as recommendation M.2150 early this year.

5Gi, the first  ever Mobile Radio Interface Technology contribution from India to become part of ITU-R’s  IMT recommendation, went through a rigorous evaluation process of the ITU-R working groups over the past 3 years before getting the approval.

This standard is a major breakthrough for bridging the rural-urban digital divide in 5G deployment due to enhanced coverage. It enables connecting majority of India’s villages through towers located at gram panchayats in a cost effective manner. It has found support from several countries as it addresses their regional needs from a 5G standpoint.

Indian telcos, vendors and chipmakers met the DoT Secretary last week for stakeholder consultation on the 5G ecosystem. The meeting was also attended by members from academia, ICEA, TSDSI, CDoT and chipmakers.

During the meeting, an Airtel representative told the secretary that 5Gi is not globally harmonized and will lead to costly devices and delays in rollout.

Reliance Jio representative also urged the department to avoid mandating any requirements for consumer devices for spectrum, features etc., as they are market driven. “No minimum technology specifications approach for 5G devices,” the company said as per the minutes of meetings accessed by ET.

COAI, which represents telcos and telecom equipment vendors, told the department that 5Gi doesn’t have a device ecosystem and efforts to be made as part of 3GPP [1.].

Note 1. That is a false assertion as TSDSI, which is a member of 3GPP, presented its 5Gi/LMLC to ITU WP 5D as a Radio Interface Technology (RIT) for IMT 2020. After numerous contributions and tests, it was accepted as an integral part of ITU-R recommendation M.2150.  LMLC was not contributed to 3GPP for inclusion in their 5G Releases 15 and 16.


“There will be implications if there is a separate handset production line for India which then can increase prices. We have sought clarification. It is claimed that there will be minor tweaks in handsets,” COAI director general S P Kochhar told ET.

Bharti Airtel once again raised the device ecosystem related issue with the department and said that 5G devices are required to support in all licensed bands auctioned in India including 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz in both standalone and non-standalone 5G modes.

“Handsets must support NSA Carrier Aggregation and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing in FDD and TDD spectrum bands,” Airtel said, adding that devices should also be capable of transmitting “26 dBm” both in NSA and SA modes.

Telecom operators reiterated the need for affordable 5G handsets to drive the uptake of high-speed service upon commercial availability. The cheapest 5G device is currently available at Rs 15,000 but only supports N78 band or the mid-band.

During the meeting, the COAI said that 5G standards should support both consumers, industry, and the Indian government must play a facilitating role.

“We are most happy if the local 5G standard is globally harmonized.  Globalization will help in lowering the cost of devices and achieving scale. It will also make India an export hub for 5G handsets. Harmonization with 3GPP is crucial even as there is substantial progress for 5Gi with the ITU,” Kochhar said.

Responding to ET’s queries, Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director IIT Madras, former Chair-TSDSI and Chief proponent of 5Gi said that 5G handsets require only minor firmware and software changes to become 5G+5Gi handsets, which will not lead to any increase in costs as confirmed by some handset solution providers and operators.

“Even earlier, “operator specific” changes have been implemented by the vendors – example – modems have region specific requirements such as bands, power levels and Dual SIM which involve hardware changes. Also, given the scale of the Indian market in terms of no. of connections and growth rate, the initial development cost of making these modifications, modest as it is, will get amortized very quickly,” Ramamurthi added.

“We should not see a situation where the industry is stuck. If 5Gi gets harmonized then it is a win-win situation. Otherwise the cost to the subscriber will be high,” Kochhar added.

The Jio representative also supported the technology neutral approach for 5G and suggested that India’s government must make efforts for global harmonization of 5Gi standards by making it part of 3GPP [2].

Note 2.  This assertion is also completely wrong. 3GPP is NOT a standards body.  All of their specs must be transposed by it’s member standards bodies (e.g. ETSI, ATIS, etc) or ITU-R to be considered as standards.  TSDSI took their 5Gi/LMLC directly to ITU-R WP-5D which accepted it as part of the first official 5G RAN standard-  ITU-R M.2150. Any harmonization of 5G standards must occur in ITU-R WP-5D and NOT 3GPP.


Samsung, which is the sole 4G equipment provider for Jio and India’s second largest smartphone brand, also supported telcos’ demand for a harmonized 5Gi standard during the meeting.

Both Jio and Airtel reiterated their demand for lowering the reserve price for 5G spectrum.

“Current pricing of mid-band spectrum is unrealistic,” Jio said, supporting the need to seek the reserve price from TRAI for all 5G spectrum bands for auction with a clear request that the reserve price be kept reasonable in order to meet the 5G proliferation goals.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) will seek a fresh base price from the telecom regulator for the 3300-3750 MHz as well as floor prices for other bands that can support 5G.


Jio also urged the department to make available 2 GHz of mid-band spectrum to meet the demands of 2025-2030 timeframe. Airtel, on the other hand, asked the government to auction spectrum in mmWave band along with mid band and 600 MHz band and earmark them for 5G.

Jio has also asked the India DoT to identify and incorporate in NFAP [3] the entire C band 3.3-4.2 GHz, mmWave 24.25-29.5 Ghz, 37 GHz along with E and V bands.

Note 3. The NFAP is a central policy roadmap that defines future spectrum usage by all bodies in India, including DoT, the Department of Space and the defense ministry.


Closing Comment:

It’s very disappointing that after all of TSDSI’s efforts to get 5Gi/LMLC included in the 1st official IMT 2020 RIT/SRIT standard (ITU-R M.2150) they couldn’t convince India telecom carriers or global equipment/chip vendors to endorse 5Gi/LMLC.



Reliance jio: Jio joins Airtel in fight against 5Gi standard; says 2 GHz in mid-band needed for India 5G demand, Telecom News, ET Telecom (indiatimes.com)

IMT 2020.SPECS approved by ITU-R but may not meet 5G performance requirements; no 5G frequencies (revision of M.1036); 5G non-radio aspects not included

India’s TSDSI candidate IMT 2020 RIT with Low Mobility Large Cell (LMLC) for rural coverage of 5G services

India’s Success in 5G Standards; IIT Hyderabad & WiSig Networks Initiatives

TSDSI’s 5G Radio Interface spec advances to final step of IMT-2020.SPECS standard

Reliance Jio claim: Complete 5G solution from scratch with 100% home grown technologies

Executive Summary: IMT-2020.SPECS defined, submission status, and 3GPP’s RIT submissions



Gartner: Worldwide 5G Network Infrastructure Revenues to Grow 39% in 2021

Worldwide 5G network infrastructure revenue is on pace to grow 39% to total $19.1 billion in 2021, up from $13.7 billion in 2020, according to the latest forecast by Gartner, Inc.

Communications service providers (CSPs) in mature markets accelerated 5G development in 2020 and 2021 with 5G representing 39% of total wireless infrastructure revenue this year.

“The COVID-19 pandemic spiked demand for optimized and ultrafast broadband connectivity to support work-from-home and bandwidth-hungry applications, such as streaming video, online gaming and social media applications,” said Michael Porowski, senior principal research analyst at Gartner.

5G is the fastest growing segment in the wireless network infrastructure market (see Table 1). Of the segments that comprise wireless infrastructure in this forecast, the only significant opportunity for investment growth is in 5G. Investment in legacy wireless generations is rapidly deteriorating across all regions and spending on non-5G small cells is poised to decline as CSPs move to 5G small cells.

Table 1: Wireless Network Infrastructure Revenue Forecast, Worldwide (Millions of U.S. Dollars)

Segment 2020 Revenue 2021 Revenue 2022 Revenue
5G 13,768.0 19,128.9 23,254.6
LTE and 4G 17,127.8 14,569.1 12,114.0
3G and 2G 3,159.6 1,948.2 1,095.2
Small Cells Non-5G 6,588.5 7,117.9 7,113.9
Mobile Core 5,714.6 6,056.2 6,273.3
Total 46,358.5 48,820.2 49,851.0

Source: Gartner (August 2021)

Regionally, CSPs in North America are set to grow 5G revenue from $2.9 billion in 2020 to $4.3 billion in 2021, due, in part, to increased adoption of dynamic spectrum sharing and millimeter wave base stations. In Western Europe, CSPs will prioritize on licensing spectrum, modernizing mobile core infrastructure and navigating regulatory processes with 5G revenue expected to increase from $794 million in 2020 to $1.6 billion in 2021.

Greater China is expected to maintain the No.1 global position in global 5G revenue reaching $9.1 billion in 2021, up from $7.4 billion in 2020.  With China’s government funding 5G development for the three state owned carriers, that’s no surprise.

The big beneficiaries of China’s 5G infrastructure spending will be its domestic equipment makers, Huawei, ZTE, and (state owned) Datang Telecom.  Despite clamoring for Sweden to permit Huawei 5G equipment to be deployed, Ericsson only received 3% of a joint 5G radio contracts from China Telecom, China Unicom and 2% from China Mobile, according to ReutersNokia, which was expected to take away Ericsson’s market share in China, did not receive any share, according to a tender document published by the Chinese companies.

In a way that’s a win for the Swedish vendor – and a brief share price hike backs up that statement – which won just 2% of an earlier deal from China Mobile. But if they want to secure their share of the multiple billions of dollars of global 5G infrastructure revenues forecast by Gartner, the likes of Ericsson and Nokia will need to keep winning contracts in their home markets.

5G Coverage in Tier-1 Cities Will Reach 60% in 2024:

While 10% of CSPs in 2020 provided commercialized 5G services, which could achieve multiregional availability, Gartner predicts that this number will increase to 60% by 2024, which is a similar rate of adoption for 4G- LTE in the past.

“Business and customer demand is an influencing factor in this growth. As consumers return to the office, they will continue to upgrade or switch to gigabit fiber to the home (FTTH) service as connectivity has become an essential remote work service,” said Porowski. “Users will also increasingly scrutinize CSPs for both office and remote work needs.”

This rapid shift in customer behavior is driving growth in the global passive optical network (PON) market as a preferred technology. The 10-Gigabit-capable symmetric-PON (XGS-PON) is not a new technology and with the price difference with other technologies narrowing, CSPs are willing to invest in XGS-PON to differentiate themselves in customer experience and network quality. Gartner estimates that by 2025, 60% of Tier-1 CSPs will adopt XGS-PON technology at large-scale to deliver ultrafast broadband services to residential and business users, up from less than 30% in 2020.

Gartner clients can learn more in the reports “Forecast Analysis: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology, Worldwide” and “Forecast: Communications Service Provider Operational Technology, Worldwide, 2019-2025, 2Q21 Update.”


Small Cells?

While Gartner did not split out small cells’ contribution to the overall 5G infrastructure segment, evidence thus far suggests the market is progressing more slowly than many had once believed.

Last month, Crown Castle increased its guidance for the second time this year due to a strong cell towers market, but halved the number of small cells it expects to deploy in 2021 to 5,000.  The company noted that wireless network operators have focused on tower-based 5G rollouts at the expense of small cells.




5G network kit revenues to near $20 billion this year — report


Singapore’s M1 launches True 5G SA network market trial

Singapore operator M1 has launched its True 5G network in an exclusive market trial, allowing both its existing and new mobile customers to access the 5G Standalone technology in Singapore. As part of an exclusive market trial, customers can now access the True 5G service by adding on a booster pack to their existing mobile plan.  However, a trial is NOT commercial service.
True 5G is an enhancement to M1’s cellular network, built on 5G standalone hardware. The Singapore operator claims it offers:

Image Credit: M1
As the first telco in Singapore to embark on 5G trials in 2018, M1 Limited has been a front-runner in the development of Singapore’s 5G SA network. Unlike the 5G Non-Standalone (NSA) launched in 2020, True 5G SA operates independently of 4G-LTE network infrastructure (like the 4G Evolved Packet Core/EPC). M1 says that with 5Go Boosters starting as low as $5 per month, customers can enjoy an enhanced and secured suite of capabilities.
M1 says that given its enhanced capabilities, innovative and diversified digital experiences such as 5G cloud gaming, real-time interactive streaming and entertainment, as well as immersive Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) applications can be enjoyed very soon (no date given).
M1 says the True 5G experience will support revolutionary applications and new business opportunities across a range of industries from robotics to maritime.

M1 customers can enjoy an elevated call experience via the world’s first Voice over 5G New Radio (VoNR) service [1.] on M1’s 5G SA network that reinforces the experience of crystal clear high-definition voice calls, improved productivity with 5G speeds on data-driven activities throughout the duration of the calls as well as faster call setup time.

Note 1.  Deutsche Telekom claims to have completed VoNR call this past June, which we documented here.


M1 is working closely with some of Singapore’s most exciting enterprises and SMEs to reimagine and redefine how businesses can leverage 5G to boost efficiency, fast-track innovation, and meet customer demands. Working in close synergy with its key shareholder, Keppel Corporation, M1 will continue to explore and develop more 5G-enabled business opportunities and collaborations across the Keppel group of businesses and open up limitless possibilities for corporations.

About M1:

M1, a subsidiary of Keppel Corporation, is Singapore’s first digital network operator, providing a suite of communications services, including mobile, fixed line, and fiber offerings to over two million customers.

Since the launch of its commercial services in 1997, M1 has achieved many firsts – becoming one of the first operators to be awarded one of Singapore’s two nationwide 5G standalone network licences, being the first operator to offer nationwide 4G service, ultra-high-speed fixed broadband, fixed voice, and other services on the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (NGNBN).

M1’s mission is to drive transformation and evolution in Singapore’s telecommunications landscape through cutting-edge technology and its made-to-measure offerings.


Rethink Research: Private 5G deployment will be faster than public 5G; WiFi 6E will also be successful


RAN Research, a division of Rethink Technology Research, says in a new report that private 5G network deployments will surge over the next few years faster than public 5G, reaching a peak in 2027 when they will generate $19.3 billion in equipment sales, before subsiding after that as saturation approaches.

There will be a similar boom in deployment of enterprise WiFi networks around the WiFi 6E standard (IEEE 802.11ax endpoints that are capable of operating at 6 GHz, as well as in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz spectra already used by Wi-Fi 6).  They will offer greater capacity and performance than the current WiFi generation (IEEE 802.11ac, 802.11n, etc).

WiFi growth will be confined largely to North America and Europe, and will peak earlier in 2024, after which an increasing number of sites will swing to 5G for more demanding use cases.

Private 5G networks will generate annual revenues of US$19.3 billion worldwide in 2027, up from $1.5 billion this year, according to a new report written by Rethink analyst Caroline Gabriel. Growth will be at its fastest in the 2022-2025 period, peaking in 2027 and then declining towards the end of the decade as market saturation approaches, she notes.

By 2028 there will be 26.6 million private 5G networks deployed globally, a significant increase on the 1.1 million expected to be rolled out this year.

Image Courtesy of Qualcomm

These are key findings of the latest report, “Private Networks Driving Opportunities in 5G and WiFi” from RAN Research, the wireless forecasting arm of Rethink Technology Research. The forecast drills down into regions and vertical industry sectors, identifying manufacturing as a major driver for private enterprise 5G in line with the industry 4.0 revolution, but with strong growth across the board. Healthcare, transportation, energy and government stand out as other industry vertical where deployments of private 5G and WiFi 6E will flourish.

Executive Summary:

Private 5G networks are on the verge of rapid take off to generate a surge in annual revenues for network equipment from $1.5 billion in 2021 to $19.3 billion in 2027. Growth will be fastest in most markets from 2022 to 2025 before tailing off and declining towards the end of the period after 2027 as saturation approaches.

By 2028 there will be 26.6 million private 5G networks deployed around the world, up from 1.1 million in 2021. This growth will occur in all regions but will be most striking in the four countries leading the private 5G field now, the U.S., Germany, China and Japan. Of these four, China stands out for facing stronger regulatory resistance to private 5G where roll out is dominated by the three great stateowned monopolies, China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. But strong upsurge from enterprises, including government agencies as well as manufacturers, looks like opening up the country ’ enterprise 5G field to rapid growth.

Image Courtesy of Qualcomm

Private wireless networks will be deployed at a faster rate than 5G as a whole in most markets, as mobile networks combined with edge compute become capable of meeting more use cases and enabling new applications in manufacturing process, UAVs, remote healthcare, advanced transportation and others.

WiFi 6E is on course for a similar growth trajectory as private 5G, tailing off later in the forecast period. It is true though that only the next generation WiFi 7 that will start being deployed after 2024 will close the gap on 5G in peak performance, capacity and low latency. Our forecast numbers for WiFi 6E also include early deployments of WiFi 7 without making any distinction. Certainly, until that 7th generation comes along, WiFi will lack the deterministic behavior required for the most demanding ultra low latency real time applications, such as control of UAVs. In these scenarios 5G will be preferred but WiFi will continue to coexist for applications where best effort performance is adequate. This will include some of those use cases touted for 5G under the eMBB category concerned mostly with high capacity, although WiFi 6E itself still has to justify investment in the upgrade from WiFi 5. 5G will emerge in some cases as an immediate alternative to WiFi 6E. There are also common factors affecting both private 5G and WiFi 6E roll out, such as chip shortages and other continuing impacts of the global Covid19 pandemic. All these will impede deployments in the short and medium term, with both service providers and their equipment suppliers reporting a slowdown resulting from changed working practices during the pandemic and disruptions within the supply chain.

For some enterprises where blanket indoor coverage is established there will be more concerted migration from WiFi to cellular for private wireless communications. But unless such 5G coverage is almost ubiquitous, users will continue with WiFi and indeed penetration will increase around new best effort use cases.

Copyright © 2021 Rethink Research, All rights reserved.





China to drive private 5G network growth despite regulatory headwind– research