GSA’s latest report provides a snapshot of the global status of national usage of spectrum above 6 GHz for 5G services. It is part of a series of reports which separately also cover spectrum bands below 1 GHz and between 1 GHz and 6 GHz. This report reflects a market that is in constant flux (which this author has repeatedly stated would be the case till the most important IMT 2020 recommendations have been approved by ITU-R and ITU-T).
- Sixty-seven operators in 13 countries hold licences enabling operation of 5G networks using mmWave spectrum.
- Fourteen operators are known to be deploying 5G networks using mmWave spectrum.
- Fourteen countries have announced formal (date-specified) plans for allocating frequencies above 6 GHz between now and end-2021.
- Fifty-nine announced 5G devices explicitly support one or more of the 5G spectrum bands above 6 GHz (though note that details of spectrum support is patchy for pre-commercial devices). Eleven of those devices are known to be commercially available.
5G deployments in bands above 6 GHz:
Spectrum bands above 6 GHz are being explicitly opened up to enable provision of 5G services. GSA is aware of the following usage for 5G. The 24250–29500 MHz range covering the overlapping bands n257 (26500–29500 MHz), n258 (24250–27500 MHz) and n261 (27500–28350 MHz) has been the most-used 5G mmWave spectrum range to date:
- 113 operators in 39 countries are investing in pre-standard 5G (in the form of trials, licences, deployments or operational networks) across this spectrum range.
- 66 operators are licensed to deploy 5G in this range.
- 12 operators are understood to be actively deploying 5G networks using spectrum above 6 GHz.
- Eight operators in seven countries have reported running 5G tests/trials at 15 GHz.
- One operator has reported running 5G tests/trials at 18 GHz.
- Band n260, covering 37–40 GHz, is also already being used, with three companies in the USA actively deploying networks using this spectrum.
- Thirteen operators in eleven countries have been evaluating/ testing/trialling 5G using spectrum from 66 GHz to 76 GHz.
- GSA has identified four operators that have run tests/trials using spectrum from 81 GHz to 87 GHz.
Figure 1: Use of 5G spectrum between 24.25 GHz and 29.5 GHz, countries plotted by status of most advanced operator activities
At WRC-2019 in November, delegates identiﬁ ed several new frequency ranges for IMT and IMT-2020 (5G). These encompassed many of the existing 3GPP specified bands plus some new spectrum ranges:
• 24.25–27.5 GHz
• 37–43.5 GHz
• 45.5–47 GHz
• 47.2–48.2 GHz
• 66–71 GHz.
Other spectrum being considered by national regulators and international standards bodies, or that has been used in operator trials, is between the 71–86 GHz range.
5G device support for bands above 6 GHz:
5G device support for spectrum bands above 6 GHz is still at an early stage. GSA’s GAMBoD database includes 59 announced 3GPP compliant 5G devices that do or will support mmWave spectrum bands. Eleven of those are commercially available. The numbers of devices identiﬁed as supporting speciﬁc bands is much lower, as details of spectrum support is patchy for pre-commercial devices.
USA (Federal Communications Commission (FCC)):
In the USA, any bands already used for mobile service can also be deployed for 5G; FCC doesn’t require any particular technology and the choice is driven by carriers. This means multiple historic auctions are relevant for 5G including but not limited to those for spectrum at 28 GHz (March 1998 and May 1999) and 39 GHz (May 2000).
The FCC is currently undertaking a range of activities with a view to opening up extra spectrum for mobile use. In 2016, the FCC adopted its Upper Microwave Flexible Use Rules to make spectrum at 28 GHz, upper 37 GHz and 39 GHz available (including for 5G). Then the new Spectrum Frontier order dated 16 November 2017 put in place plans to open up an additional 1.7 GHz of mmWave spectrum in the 24 GHz and 47 GHz bands for ﬂ exible terrestrial wireless use. FCC also enabled use of spectrum between 64 GHz and 71 GHz by unlicensed devices (subject to restrictions).
In October 2018, the Commission issued a notice of proposed rules that would open up the 5.925–6.425 GHz and 6.425–7.125 GHz bands for unlicensed use, subject to establishing a mechanism to prevent interference with incumbent services. It speciﬁ cally anticipates – depending upon the part of the spectrum concerned – the use of low or standard power WiFi or variants of LTE for indoor or outdoor use.
The FCC has been running auctions of spectrum in the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands. The auction of spectrum at 28 GHz (27.5–28.35 GHz) completed in January 2019, with bids totalling more than $700 million. Thirty-three bidders won 2965 licences.
The auction of spectrum at 24 GHz (24.25–24.45 GHz and 24.75–25.25 GHz) ended in May 2019 raising $2.02 billion in net bids. Twenty-nine bidders won 2904 licences.
In June 2018, FCC announced that it is also considering making an additional 2.75 GHz of the 26 GHz and 42 GHz bands available for 5G. In December 2018, FCC announced an incentive auction (Auction 103) covering spectrum at 37 GHz (37.6–38.6 GHz), 39 GHz (38.6–40 GHz) and 47 GHz (47.2–48.2 GHz) in order to free up more spectrum for 5G. Under the incentive auction, existing rights holders in those bands can choose either to relinquish their rights in exchange for a share of the auction revenue or alternatively receive modiﬁ ed licences after the auction consistent with a new band plan and service rules.
Auctions for 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz bands are planned by the end of 2019. Procedures for reconﬁguring the 39 GHz band, enabling existing licensees to relinquish or modify their licences were published in March 2019. Technical guides for bidding procedures were published in April 2019, along with the announcement of a process for sharing the spectrum at 37 GHz with the Department of Defense. Timelines for the reconﬁguration of existing rights were published in June 2019.
Planned 5G auctions and their dates:
Fourteen countries have announced formal (date-speciﬁ ed) plans for allocating mmWave frequencies between now and end-2021. A few other auctions/ allocations are timetabled to happen from 2022 onwards. Many countries are still deciding whether and when to hold auctions/ allocations for spectrum above 6 GHz.
Spectrum above 6 GHz, and in particular mmWave spectrum, has rapidly become important for mobile telecoms. It is clear, with the number of spectrum awards expected over the coming years, and the agreement of new mmWave spectrum bands at WRC-19, the investment in these spectrum bands by operators and commitments to launch compatible devices by vendors, that the importance of spectrum above 6 GHz is going to continue to grow. GSA will continue to track this trend. This report will be next updated in early 2020.
During the first day of the annual Snapdragon Tech Summit in Hawaii, Qualcomm Incorporated President, Cristiano Amon said that 2020 will be the year for mainstream 5G (that’s before any part of IMT 2020 standard is finalized) and provide more consumers around the world with 5G’s multi-gigabit speeds. The new Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 5G mobile platforms were said to define what is possible in flagship smartphones while enabling broad based 5G adoption across the growing number of commercial 5G networks.
“5G will open new and exciting opportunities to connect, compute, and communicate in ways we’ve yet to imagine and we are happy to be a key player driving the adoption of 5G around the world,” said Amon. “Our Snapdragon 5G mobile platforms announced today will continue to show leadership in the industry and deliver on the promise of scaling 5G in 2020.”
“One year ago, we were talking 5G future. In 2019, we’ll be talking about 5G,” said Cristiano Amon, Qualcomm’s president. Forty operators and forty OEMs across the world are investing in 5G, he said. By 2021, there will be more than 2.8 billion subscribers, with more to come he said.
Alex Katouzian, senior vice president and general manager, mobile, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., unveiled two new 5G Snapdragon mobile platforms to lead and scale 5G and AI in 2020. The flagship Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, which includes the Snapdragon X55 Modem-RF System, is the world’s most advanced, global 5G platform, designed to deliver unmatched connectivity and performance for the next generation of flagship devices. The Snapdragon 765/765G bring integrated 5G connectivity, AI processing and select Qualcomm® Snapdragon Elite Gaming™ experiences. We expect Snapdragon 865 and 765/765G to power the most advanced Android-based smartphones launching in 2020 – regardless of whether users are in 5G or 4G coverage. Full platform details will be shared tomorrow.
Katouzian also introduced our first family of mobile platform-based modules, the Snapdragon 865 and 765 Modular Platforms. These modular platforms are products of an end-to-end strategy to empower the industry with the tools needed to scale 5G with ease, offering our customers lower development costs while also more quickly commercializing products with new industrial designs for mobile and IoT devices. The first carriers announcing support of the certification program for Snapdragon Modular Platforms are Verizon and Vodafone, with more expected in 2020.
Quotes from Partner Companies (mostly customers) at the Snapdragon Summit:
“Given its role to date in helping advance the global 5G ecosystem, I’m excited to see Qualcomm Technologies announce plans for mobile platform-based modules designed to further scale products across the industry,” said Nicki Palmer, chief product development officer, Verizon. She added, “the Snapdragon Tech Summit is a great venue for ecosystem partners to collaborate and for Verizon to share our vision of where 5G will make the greatest impact on society.”
“5G is a focus for the entire Lenovo organization – from network infrastructure to personal devices, being the first to launch a 5G smartphone and preview a 5G PC,” said Sergio Buniac, president, Motorola. “As the mobile arm, Motorola will continue leading the 5G era with our expanded lineup of 5G solutions in 2020 — driven by the high-performing Snapdragon 765 and 865 Mobile Platforms, re-invigorating our place in the premium flagship space.”
“The 5G era opens up new opportunities and challenges. It brings great innovations and redefines how users interact with devices, audio, and video applications. The next generation of “Super Internet” will be an all-new model that combines 5G + AI + IoT, and Xiaomi will be at the forefront of this, developing and bringing 5G smartphones to the masses,” said Bin Lin, co-founder, vice chairman, Xiaomi Corporation. “In 2020 Q1, Xiaomi is proud to announce that we will be introducing our flagship Mi 10 – one of the world’s first smartphones to feature the flagship Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform.”
“OPPO and Qualcomm Technologies have maintained a close and strong collaboration, and today we are honored to witness the launch of Qualcomm Technologies’ latest 5G mobile platforms and be part of its global commercialized plan. In 2020 Q1, OPPO will launch its flagship product using the Snapdragon 865 Mobile Platform, together bringing a faster and superior 5G experience to users. In the era of 5G and intelligent connectivity, OPPO will continue to invest in 5G products, research, standard development and application scenarios, with Qualcomm Technologies and other partners in the industry, to bring more 5G values and possibilities to users around the world,” said Alen Wu, vice president and president of global sales, OPPO.
“Our highest priority for 2020 is making 5G more accessible – bringing an affordable yet premium grade, future proof 5G experience for the best possible performance in NSA and SA networks with the Snapdragon 765 Mobile Platform,” said Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer, HMD Global. “Aside from being an excellent mobile platform for best-in-class 5G connectivity, Snapdragon 765 mobile platform allows us to offer breakthrough entertainment capabilities combined with our PureDisplay technology, and our unique ZEISS powered imaging solutions that enable fans to create and share amazing content over 5G.
We also congratulate Qualcomm Technologies on the announcement of its Snapdragon Modular Platform. This innovative approach to making 5G more accessible to OEMs will dramatically streamline the development process and we look forward to exploring possibilities of working with Qualcomm Technologies on this exciting platform.”
This year’s Snapdragon Tech Summit keynotes are being live streamed daily Dec 3, 4 and 5 at 9:00 a.m. HST (11:00 a.m. PST / 2:00 p.m. EST / 7:00 p.m. GMT at www.qualcomm.com/snapdragontechsummit.
5G network test on a high speed train:
ZTE and China Telecom have jointly launched the world’s first commercial 5G maglev (magnetic levitation) high-speed network test in Shanghai, China. The test measured communications within a train travelling at a maximum speed of 500KM/h. During the test, the 5G commercial terminal was stable and easy to support various high performance mobile broadband services, demonstrating that the 5G network can provide high-speed maglev trains with ideal broadband communications.
Shanghai Maglev is the world’s first maglev line for commercial operation and at present it is also the fastest commercial high-speed train. It has been a business card for Shanghai and even for China since its operation. Built by China Telecom and ZTE together, the 5G network uses a full set of ZTE 5G system equipment, perfectly enabling passengers to get high-speed data access on a quick journey and enjoy services like mobile working, video conferencing, HD/UHD video or interactive games, ensuring a brand-new communication experience.
Due to special scenario restrictions, providing high-quality network coverage for high-speed trains has always been a challenge for both operators and equipment vendors. When a 5G network is deployed in a higher frequency than 2G, 3G and 4G networks, the situation will be even less ideal. To solve these problems, ZTE and China Telecom have made breakthroughs in multiple aspects by constantly challenging the technical limits through technological discussions and tests. With proprietary doppler frequency shift channel compensation technology, wireless channel deterioration caused by high-speed movement is eliminated. The solution can support a moving speed of over 500 KM/h, meeting the speed requirements of various high-speed trains. Besides, Multi-RRU (Remote Radio Unit) combination can realize single cell 6-12km belt shape coverage, reduce 90 percent of inter-cell handover and ensure continuous and stable access. Compared with the traditional 2T2R solution, ZTE is the first to introduce 8T8R RRU for high-speed railway coverage in the 5G industry. Multi-channel equipment, combined with 5G featured channels and beam scanning technology, can enhance the coverage significantly. It is also worth mentioning that the solution is implemented through technical innovation at the base station network side and has no special requirements for terminals.
The 5G network solution used for the Shanghai Maglev line can provide a complete set of network equipment for HSR (High Speed Rail) broadband communication. The radio units can support global mainstream 5G bands like N41 and N78. The top speed of Shanghai Maglev train is the highest among commercial trains in the world, which implies that this 5G network solution can be applied to various high-speed railways and maglev lines worldwide and has great market potential.
Over the years, ZTE and China Telecom have jointly provided broadband information channels for high-speed rail transit. LTE coverage has been deployed for multiple high-speed railway lines, which was highly appraised by users. Going forward, the two parties will continue to optimize the commercial performance of the 5G networks and steadily promote tests and verification according to specific service characteristics to facilitate ubiquitous high-speed broadband access.
Uplink enhancement FAST verification:
On November 27th, ZTE announced a partnership with China Telecom to complete the verification of the industry’s first FAST (FDD Assists Super TDD) solution at 2.1GHz and 3.5GHz in Shenzhen, China. Based on China Telecom’s uplink enhancement technology, this solution enables spectrum to reach its full potential by integrating time and frequency domains and constructing high-quality 5G networks with excellent performance and coverage.
Editor’s Note: FDD=Frequency Division Duplexing; TDD= Time Division Duplexing
China Telecom’s innovation of the “uplink enhancement” concept enhances the 5G uplink by using low frequency bands, such as 1.8GHz and 2.1GHz, to improve 5G network coverage and performance. For China Telecom’s existing 2.1GHz FDD and 3.5GHz TDD bands, ZTE and China Telecom has launched the uplink enhancement FAST (FDD Assists Super TDD) solution.
Based on the complementary qualities of TDD and FDD, in 3.5GHz weak uplink area, the terminal can transmit data at a high speed based on the 2.1 GHz frequency band. In addition, it can continue to make use of the advantages of 3.5GHz in bandwidth and large-scale array antennas to benefit from the downlink ultra-high rate.
In other areas with quality 3.5GHz coverage, the potential of 2.1GHz and 3.5GHz frequency bands can be fully utilized. This enables the terminal to transmit uplink data, in conventional UL CA mode, via three channels on two frequency bands at the same time. In the time domain, all the uplink frequency bands of FDD are fully utilized.
In addition, by deeply analyzing the features of frequency division duplex at 2.1GHz and time division duplex at 3.5GHz, the innovative CA with transmission mode switching in time domain, is based on multiple uplink carriers for time division transmission. This makes the full use of downlink timeslot resources.
To make the most effective use of the uplink resources of TDD and FDD, the terminals that only support two Tx-channel transmissions can flexibly switch between two channels of NR 3.5GHz and one channel of FDD 2.1GHz. At the same time, the downlink throughput can be improved in the FDD and TDD band aggregation mode, so that the best performance can be obtained in the uplink and downlink directions in the complicated wireless environment.
The test shows that, the uplink rate of a single user can be up to 40% higher than that of a single carrier (3.5GHz) when time division multiplexing (CA) is used. When conventional UL CA is used, the maximum increase of the single-user uplink rate is 60%. In addition, through high and low-frequency aggregation, the downlink user experience rate in both conditions can be increased by 20%, compared with a 3.5GHz single carrier.
In the future, ZTE will continue to partner with China Telecom to explore the application of new 5G technologies and functions in commercial networks, improve network quality, build 4G and 5G top-quality networks and provide better network services.
ZTE is a provider of advanced telecommunications systems, mobile devices, and enterprise technology solutions to consumers, operators, companies and public sector customers. As a part of ZTE’s strategy, the company is committed to providing customers with integrated end-to-end innovations to deliver excellence and values as the telecommunications and information technology sectors converge. Listed in the stock exchanges of Hong Kong and Shenzhen (H share stock code: 0763.HK / A share stock code: 000063.SZ), ZTE sells its products and services in more than 160 countries.
To date, ZTE has obtained 35 commercial 5G contracts in major markets, such as Europe, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (MEA). ZTE commits 10 percent of its annual revenues to research and development and takes leadership roles in international standard-setting organizations.
T-Mobile Netherlands announced on its website (in Dutch) that its mobile network in The Hague is now ‘fully equipped for 5G’ and will be ready to offer city-wide access to 5G services ‘immediately’ after the upcoming frequency auction expected by spring 2020.
Technical testing of the 5G infrastructure in the Hague has been completed using experimental frequency permits for the 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz bands.
“Various innovative 5G-IoT applications in the field of care, safety and mobility will be realized in the coming period,” T-Mobile said.
As noted above, T-Mobile plans to participate in the Netherlands spectrum auction next Spring, and assuming it acquires the necessary spectrum, it will then open up access then to the 5G network within the entire country. That would enable T-Mobile to create a national 5G network in 2020, leaping ahead of rival KPN. A quick roll-out of 5G was one of the promises made by T-Mobile as part of its takeover of Tele2 Netherlands at the start of this year.
The global network operator has been working with the municipality of The Hague to prepare for the 5G launch. At its Living Lab Scheveningen, T-Mobile has various projects underway with local partners in the health, security and mobility sectors. These are expected to help develop general business cases for 5G applications.
The European Commission has called for each EU country to have at least one 5G city in 2020. T-Mobile has upgraded its network throughout the city. KPN also announced recently that The Hague is the first city with its new radio network from Huawei. This means KPN also will be able to start 5G quickly there, once the 700 MHz band is available.
SK Telecom has selected Ericsson to deliver a Cloud Packet Core for its 5G network. Ericsson says its Cloud Packet Core (part of the company’s Cloud Core portfolio) helps service providers to smoothly migrate to 5G Core (5GC) stand-alone architecture.
Please see below for more information on 3GPP 5GC which is part of Release 16 and as yet has not been submitted to either ITU-R or ITU-T for IMT 2020 mobile packet core. There seems to be no independent work on a 5G mobile packet core within ITU, which is evidently waiting anxiously for 3GPP Release 16 to be completed and forwarded to various ITU-R WPs and ITU-T Study Groups.
Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core is at the business end of mobile broadband and IoT networks. It creates value, visibility and control of traffic and applications by determining the optimal quality of a service, then enforcing it through appropriate policy.
Jung Chang-kwan, Vice President and Head of Infra Engineering Group, SK Telecom, says: “By utilizing Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core network solution, which realizes simplified network operations, we will unleash the full potential of new 5G-enabled use cases with greater efficiency.”
Jan Karlsson, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital Services, Ericsson, says: “This deal, and the opportunity to work with SK Telecom’s Network Functions Virtualization Infrastructure (NFVI), has put us in the ideal position to further strengthen their 5G network. Delivering our Cloud Packet Core solution will positively impact SK Telecom’s network operations and will reinforce Ericsson’s position as a leader in 5G core.”
SK Telecom switched on its commercial 5G network in December 2018 after selecting Ericsson as one of its primary 5G vendors. Previously, Ericsson provided radio access network (RAN) products, including mid-band Massive MIMO.
3GPP 5GC (the only specification for a 5G mobile packet core):
The 5GC (5G packet Core), specified in 3GPP TS 23.501: System architecture for the 5G System (5GS); Stage 2, will be part of 3GPP Release 16, which won’t be completed till June 2020 at the earliest.
3GPP’s 5G System architecture is defined to support data connectivity and services enabling deployments to use techniques such as e.g. Network Function Virtualization and Software Defined Networking. The 5G System architecture shall leverage service-based interactions between Control Plane (CP) Network Functions where identified. Some key principles and concept are to:
– Separate the User Plane (UP) functions from the Control Plane (CP) functions, allowing independent scalability, evolution and flexible deployments e.g. centralized location or distributed (remote) location.
– Modularize the function design, e.g. to enable flexible and efficient network slicing.
– Wherever applicable, define procedures (i.e. the set of interactions between network functions) as services, so that their re-use is possible.
– Enable each Network Function and its Network Function Services to interact with other NF and its Network Function Services directly or indirectly via a Service Communication Proxy if required. The architecture does not preclude the use of another intermediate function to help route Control Plane messages (e.g. like a DRA).
– Minimize dependencies between the Access Network (AN) and the Core Network (CN). The architecture is defined with a converged core network with a common AN – CN interface which integrates different Access Types e.g. 3GPP access and non-3GPP access.
– Support a unified authentication framework.
– Support “stateless” NFs, where the “compute” resource is decoupled from the “storage” resource.
– Support capability exposure.
– Support concurrent access to local and centralized services. To support low latency services and access to local data networks, UP functions can be deployed close to the Access Network.
– Support roaming with both Home routed traffic as well as Local breakout traffic in the visited PLMN.
The 5G architecture is defined as service-based and the interaction between network functions is represented in the following two ways:
– A service-based representation, where network functions (e.g. AMF) within the Control Plane enables other authorized network functions to access their services. This representation also includes point-to-point reference points where necessary.
– A reference point representation, shows the interaction exist between the NF services in the network functions described by point-to-point reference point (e.g. N11) between any two network functions (e.g. AMF and SMF).
GSMA’s Position on 5GC:
The network evolution from 4G-LTE mobile packet core (EPC) to 5G Core (5GC) plays a central role in creating a powerful network platform that is capable of being exposed and automated for service providers.
5GC has been designed from its inception to be “cloud native,” inheriting many of the technology solutions used in cloud computing and with virtualization at its core. Virtualization of network functions enables 5GC to be redesigned and become open and flexible enough to meet the diversity of service and business requirement in 5G era.
5GC will also offer superior network slicing and QoS features. Another important characteristic is the separation of the control plane and user plane that besides adding flexibility in connecting the users also allows an easier way to support a multitude of access technologies, better support for network slicing and edge computing.
5GC proposes a service based architecture (SBA), which provides unprecedented efficiency and flexibility for the network. SBA is an architectural for building system based on fine-grained, interaction of loosely coupled and autonomous components called services. This architecture model is chosen to take full advantage of the latest virtualization and software technologies.
Service-based architectures have been in use in the software industry to improve the modularity of products. A software product can be broken down into communicating services. With this approach, the developers can mix and match services from different vendors into a single product.
Compared to the previous generation reference point architecture as EPC, the elements of service based architecture are defined to be the NF (network functions), which interconnect with the rest network functions across a single API calling interface and provide the authorized services to them. Network repository functions (NRF) allows every network function to discover the services offered by other network functions. A service is an atomized capability in a 5G network, with the characteristics of high-cohesion, loose-coupling, and independent management from other services. This allows individual services to be updated independently with minimal impact to other services and deployed on demand. A service is managed based on the service framework including service registration, service authorization, and service discovery. It provides a comprehensive and highly automated management mechanism implemented by NRF, which greatly reduces the complexity of network maintenance. A service will interact with other services in a light-weight manner, e.g. API invocation.
Virtualization and cloud computing have resulted in lowering the cost of computing by pooling resources in shared data centers.
- 5G core networks can be shrunk in size by using virtualization. Varies components of the core network can be run as communicating virtual machines.
- Moving the control plane of the 5G core network to a cloud provider lowers the deployment cost.
The 5G core is a mesh of interconnected services as shown in the figure below:
According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report, published earlier this week, global 5G subscriptions will exceed 2.6bn within the next six years and by that time Ericsson predicts that 5G will cover 65 percent of the world. It also believes that total mobile subscriptions, including to previous generation networks, will reach 8.9bn from 8bn over the next six years. More than quarter of the global subscriptions will be 5G by 2025 and will account for around 45 percent of worldwide mobile data traffic.
Additionally, Ericsson has also announced its partnership with NVIDIA in order to develop technologies that will enable communication service providers to build virtualized 5G radio access networks, which will boost the introduction of new AI and IoT-based services. The ultimate focus will be to commercialize virtualized RAN technologies to offer radio networks with flexibility and ability to enter the market in a shorter time for new services like VR, AR and gaming.
Siemens and Qualcomm have set up a private standalone 5G wireless network for industrial applications in a test center in Nuremberg, Germany. The test center network uses 5G NR (data plane) over the 3.7-3.8 GHz band to connect Simatic control systems and IO devices. It enables Siemens and Qualcomm Technologies to test technologies, solve problems, and come up with solutions for the future of private wireless applications in industrial settings. Qualcomm Technologies set up 5G industrial test devices along with a 5G standalone test network that includes a 5G core network and 5G base station with remote radio head. Siemens provided the actual industrial setup including Simatic control systems and IO devices.
“We are excited to announce our 5G private network proof-of-concept collaboration project with Siemens. This project will provide invaluable real-world learnings that both companies can apply to future deployments and marks an important key milestone as 5G moves into industrial automation,” said Enrico Salvatori, Senior Vice President, Qualcomm Europe, Inc. & President, Qualcomm Europe/MEA. “Combining our 5G connectivity capabilities with Siemens’ deep industry know-how will help us deploy technologies, refine solutions, and work to make the smart industrial future a reality.”
Using the network in the test center, vehicle makers can see automated guided vehicles interact live. The intention is to “drive forward the development and technical implementation of private 5G networks in the industrial sector,” said Eckard Eberle, CEO of process automation at Siemens.
In the course of this joint research effort at the Siemens Automotive Test Center, currently available industrial technologies such as OPC UA and Profinet will be tested and evaluated – technologies that require a 5G private network in order to work. In Germany, private networks can use the local broadband spectrum from 3.7-3.8 GHz, which has been reserved for industrial usage in local deployments. These private networks allow industrial sites to control and manage their own networks as they see fit, allowing for high reliability, low latency, and the ability to reconfigure the network to suit changing needs while at the same time keeping data onsite for added security.
Qualcomm Technologies and Siemens have a longstanding technical collaboration focused on cooperation in wireless technologies. This has resulted in over 15 years of success and the development of Siemens’ unique Scalance portfolio of industrial wireless products. With Qualcomm Technologies’ leading expertise in 5G technologies, this collaboration continues to evolve —leading into the first 5G private standalone network in an industrial environment using the 3.7-3.8GHz band. This allows solutions to be tested and developed which the industry will be able to use with the upcoming Release 16 of the 5G standard.
The two companies are also exhibiting elsewhere in Nuremberg, Germany at the Smart Production Solutions (SPS) 2019 conference that continues this week. At SPS, Qualcomm joined with Bosch Rexroth to showcase time-synchronized industrial devices over a live 5G network.
Time-sensitive networking (TSN) over 5G will provide greater flexibility for factory operations, said Yongbin Wei, vice president of engineering at Qualcomm. The company is planning to demonstrate full 5G TSN in the next 3GPP release 16 in 2020.
Bosch Rexroth makes a ctrlX Automation platform so that industrial machine makers can pick between real-time wired industrial Ethernet or real-time 5G wireless as needed, without having to change the machine application.
Elsewhere at SPS, STMicroelectronics and maxon showed off a $129 industrial servo control development kit for drives, robotics and automation. Called the Evalkit-Robot-1, it is designed to help users work with precise positioning and motion in servo drives and robotics. A maxon 100-watt motor with a built-in encoder is included in the kit as well as an intelligent three-phase motor controller with an inverter stage that includes ST power transistors.
The one area of the globe currently leading the way with 5G is Europe, said Sebastiano Di Filippo, senior director, business development for Qualcomm Technologies Europe. As an example of Europe’s advanced activity in this area, he noted that the European Commission recently announced that it is “harmonizing its 26GHz radio spectrum band for 5G.”
As for 5G’s application in industry, Di Filippo said “real time computing at the edge is a major application for 5G.” With this in mind, specific factory applications Qualcomm is investigating for 5G include wearable devices, automated guided vehicle, robots, wireless edge analytics, sensors, and computer vision.
Intel and MediaTek are partnering to make cellular-connected personal computers. Intel will “define” a 5G PC system spec (“Intel will define a 5G solution specification focused on deployment in key laptop segments”) while MediaTek will develop the 5G cellular chip for those PCs. The first products are targeting availability in early 2021. Dell and HP are expected to be among the first OEMs to deliver laptops enabled with Intel and MediaTek’s 5G solution.
Intel also will help make sure the 5G chip works properly and will help computer makers integrate their processor into PCs (“Intel will also provide optimization and validation across the platform and lend system integration and co-engineering support to further enable its OEM partners.”).
The partnership is also expected to increase the global presence for MediaTek’s 5G modems, which are mainly sold to Chinese smartphone makers. The 5G PC chip is based in part on, introduced earlier this year. From the Intel announcement:
“5G is poised to unleash a new level of computing and connectivity that will transform the way we interact with the world. This partnership with MediaTek brings together industry leaders with deep engineering, system integration and connectivity expertise to deliver 5G experiences on the next generation of the world’s best PCs.”
–Gregory Bryant, Intel executive vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group
The partnership helps MediaTek break into a bigger U.S. market and prevents Intel from being shut out of 5G-connected PCs. It also helps Intel defends one of its most important markets: computers. It has long made the majority of chips that go into PCs, but rival Qualcomm has been gaining market traction with its Snapdragon SoCs that were originally designed for smartphones. Qualcomm’s SoCs generally provide better battery life and connectivity that are not traditionally found in computers.
Image courtesy of Intel
The two companies are also working with Fibocom on the development of M.2 modules optimized for integration with Intel client platforms. As the first module vendor for this solution, Fibocom will provide operator certification and regulatory support, as well as lead 5G M.2 module manufacturing, sales and distribution.
Intel earlier this year, a multiple-company, multiple-year effort to make PCs more like computers. Devices are meant to wake instantly, sport brighter screens for outdoor use and have battery life that lasts all day. Project Athena laptops also need to be able to complete a biometric login process in a second or less after a laptop lid is opened, and Athena gets an additional second to connect to Wi-Fi. The first devices are due this year, but they’re not cellular-enabled. For that, users have to turn to Qualcomm-powered PCs.
Last year, Qualcomm unveiled its first processor designed specifically for computers, called the. Qualcomm partnered with Lenovo to introduce its the Snapdragon 8cx 5G compute platform in late May this year. “Consumers can expect more to come from Lenovo and Qualcomm in early 2020,” the Qualcomm said. The chip is powerful but also power efficient, giving users multiple days of battery life on a single charge.
Many PC makers have started using Qualcomm chips. That includes thewhich was unveiled in August and runs on the 8cx. The ultrathin, ultralight laptop has a 13.3-inch touchscreen and sports 23 hours of battery life. It also has built-in LTE.
Intel, on the other hand, struggled to make a cost competitive 5G chip for Apple’s iPhones and was losing lots of money on that project. it exited the cellular modem business After Apple and Qualcomm reached a multiyear chip supply agreement in April, Intel exited the 5G smartphone modem business. This past July, Apple and Intel jointly announced that Apple planned to buy Intel’s smartphone modem business for $1 billion. The deal likely gives Apple access to some of Intel’s work on 5G technology mostly from the latter’s acquisition of Infineon cellular division.
There are only four companies in the world making 5G chips: Qualcomm, MediaTek, Samsung and Huawei while only the first two sell into the merchant semiconductor market. Samsung and Huawei largely only use their 5G chips in their own devices (though a new phone from Vivo will use Samsung’s Exynos 5G modem).
MediaTek predominantly supplies modems to Asian (mostly China) handset makers. Its first 5G modem chip/chip set won’t work on any of the 5G networks that have been deployed in the U.S.
Intel and MediaTek now hope their efforts will be enough to fend off Qualcomm and attract PC makers. Other spin offs are also possible, depending on the success of this initial effort.
Qualcomm Competition or 5G Monopoly?
Qualcomm has supplied 5G modems for the vast majority of 5G smartphones sold this year. Intel wouldn’t partner with Qualcomm, a company it views as its chief rival in the semiconductor business. Michael Chertoff, former Head of U.S. Homeland Security penned an oped in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that Qualcomm’s Monopoly Imperils National Security. He wrote:
A monoculture technology system likewise poses substantial risks. If there is some critical flaw in the single system on which the U.S. is dependent, its failure would be catastrophic. These technical vulnerabilities are especially risky in security-sensitive industries such as telecommunications. American reliance on a single chip provider creates an inviting target for adversaries, who would need to find and exploit only one vulnerability to execute a destructive cyberattack.
In the Pentagon’s view, maintaining the company’s economic health is also essential because it is a critical player in the competition with China to develop 5G technology. To be sure, it’s important to support the viability of U.S. firms that can compete with China on 5G, but this hardly justifies the risks of a mono-culture in the defense-industrial base.
Further, the argument mistakenly links two national-security issues in an artificial way. Qualcomm doesn’t need protection in the wireless chipset market to strengthen its competitive edge in the 5G race. To the contrary, it has every incentive to develop leading 5G technologies even in the absence of protection in the chip market.
In the technology race against China, the U.S. should prefer to let competition drive innovation rather than support exclusive national champions. Apart from the economic inefficiency, a single-source national champion creates an unacceptable risk to American security—artificially concentrating vulnerability in a single point. The government’s argument in support of Qualcomm isn’t prudent, and if courts accept it, the result would be a self-inflicted wound to U.S. national interests. We need competition and multiple providers, not a potentially vulnerable technological monoculture.
China secured 870,000 5G mobile subscribers in just 20 days after the country kicked off commercialization of the (pre-IMT 2020 standard) 5G mobile technology on October 31st. About 113,000 5G base stations have already entered service and the number will hit 130,000 by the end of this year, marking China one of the world’s largest 5G deployments, the ministry said.
As China continues to expand its 5G market, it has never set limits on what percentage of the domestic market can be supplied and equipped by foreign tech brands, the nation’s top industry regulator said on Thursday, November 21st. Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, said the world is at a tipping point for large-scale 5G network construction, and it is wrong for any country to use the excuse of cybersecurity risks to practice trade protectionism.
“No country should ban a company in its 5G network rollout based on unproved allegations of cybersecurity risks,” Miao said at the opening ceremony of the 2019 World 5G Convention in Beijing. The event runs through Saturday. China highly values cybersecurity and deeply understands that ensuring cybersecurity is a prerequisite for better growth of new-generation wireless technology, he added. “China sticks to transparent, equal and fair principles when purchasing 5G telecom equipment. We never preset market shares for domestic and foreign enterprises,” Miao said. “China welcomes global companies and research institutions to jointly build a 5G network and share the benefits of its development,” he added.
As the top industry regulator, the ministry will oversee Chinese telecom carriers’ bidding processes, and it encourages competition, Miao said, adding that delivering quality 5G products and services is the only way for companies to increase their market share in China.
The minister also called for international cooperation to accelerate the global rollout of 5G, highlighting the need to establish an international mechanism for recognizing 5G-related patents in a bid to build unified global standards.
Ke Ruiwen, chairman of China Telecom, said the telecom operator has established close ties with foreign companies and international associations to promote maturity of the 5G industry chain.
Foreign telecom equipment makers including Nokia and Ericsson as well as US chip giants such as Intel and Qualcomm have actively participated in China’s 5G testing and trial operations. Now they are scrambling to tap into opportunities in the country, which has built the world’s largest 4G network and is eager to do the same in the 5G era.
Frank Meng, chairman of Qualcomm China, said the company is pleased to join hands with industry partners to accelerate development of 5G in China.
Qualcomm has partnered with Chinese smartphone makers to bring affordable and quality 5G handsets to the global market. Xiaomi Corp, for instance, said it will unveil at least 10 5G smartphones next year.
Nokia China President Markus Borchert said earlier this year that cooperation with multinational companies is highly regarded by the Chinese government. This makes the Finnish company more confident in the healthy, steady and sustainable development of China’s 5G industry, Borchert added.
China is set to become the world’s largest 5G market by 2025, with 460 million 5G users, according to the Global System for Mobile Communications Association.
The number of 5G users in China is expected to be higher than that in Europe (205 million) and the United States (187 million) combined by that time, the association said.
Raymond Wang, partner with global consultancy firm Roland Berger, highlighted China’s commitment to further deepen opening-up and said Chinese companies have the confidence to compete with their foreign counterparts on the global stage.
The World Radiocommunication Conference 2019 (WRC-19) concluded today as agreements signed by some 3,400 delegates from around 165 Member States were enshrined in the Final Acts of the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the global use of radio-frequency spectrum and satellite orbits.
New Resolutions approved at WRC-19 noted that ultra-low latency (pending 3GPP Release 16) and very high bit-rate applications of IMT 2020 will require larger contiguous blocks of spectrum than those available in frequency bands that had previously been identified for use by administrations wishing to implement IMT. They also pointed that harmonized worldwide bands for IMT are desirable in order to facilitate global roaming and the benefits of economies of scale.
While identifying the frequency bands 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, 45.5-47 GHz, 47.2-48.2 and 66-71 GHz for the deployment of 5G networks, WRC-19 also took measures to ensure an appropriate protection of the Earth Exploration Satellite Services, including meteorological and other passive services in adjacent bands.
In total, 17.25 GHz of spectrum has been identified for IMT by the Conference, in comparison with 1.9 GHz of bandwidth available before WRC-19. Out of this number, 14.75 GHz of spectrum has been harmonized worldwide, reaching 85% of global harmonization.
In addition, WRC-19 has also defined a plan of studies to identify frequencies for new components of 5G. As an example, to facilitate mobile connectivity by High Altitude IMT Base Stations (HIBS). HIBS may be used as a part of terrestrial IMT networks to provide mobile connectivity in underserved areas where it is difficult to be covered by ground-based IMT base stations at a reasonable cost.
IMT-2020, the name used in ITU for the standards of 5G, is expected to continue to be developed from 2020 onwards, with 5G trials and commercial activities already underway to assist in evaluating the candidate technologies and frequency bands that may be used for this purpose.
The first full-scale commercial deployments for 5G are expected sometime after IMT-2020 specifications are in force.
ITU will continue to work towards providing stable international regulations, sufficient spectrum and suitable standards for IMT-2020 and the core network to enable successful 5G deployments at the regional and international levels.
An overall presentation of WRC-19 results is still under preparation, but it is already evident that ITU is facilitating the development of 5G around the world.
In parallel, the ITU group responsible for IMT-2020 or 5G is continuing the evaluation of the proposed technologies that will allow network operators to offer 5G performances to their users for the next decade.
This evaluation will be completed in early February 2020 and will be followed by the finalization of the IMT-2020 standards.
ITU will make sure that the standards supporting all 5G applications will be in place in 2020 for the benefit of the entire telecommunication community.
Separately at WRC 19, protections were accorded to the Earth-exploration satellite service (EESS) as well as meteorological and other passive services in adjacent bands, such as the space research service (SRS) to ensure that space-based monitoring of the earth and its atmosphere remain unhindered. Satellite services supporting meteorology and climatology that aim to safeguard human life and natural resources will be protected from harmful radio-frequency interference, as will systems used by radio astronomers for deep space exploration.
Additional bands for IMT identified in the 24.25-27.5 GHz, 37-43.5 GHz, 45.5-47 GHz, 47.2-48.2 and 66-71 GHz bands, facilitating development of fifth generation (5G) mobile networks.
Earth exploration-satellite (EESS) service – Protection accorded to EESS with the possibility of providing worldwide primary allocation in the frequency band 22.55-23.15 GHz in order to allow its use for satellite tracking, telemetry and control.
Non-Geostationary Satellites – Regulatory procedures established for non-geostationary satellite constellations in the fixed-satellite service, opening the skies to next-generation communication capabilities. Mega-constellations of satellites consisting of hundreds to thousands of spacecraft in low-Earth orbit are becoming a popular solution for global telecommunications, as well as remote sensing, space and upper atmosphere research, meteorology, astronomy, technology demonstration and education.
Regulatory changes introduced to facilitate rational, efficient and economical use of radio frequencies and associated orbits, including the geostationary-satellite orbit.
High-altitude platform stations (HAPS) – Additional frequency bands Identified for High Altitude Platform Systems – radios on aerial platforms hovering in the stratosphere – to facilitate telecommunications within a wide coverage area below for affordable broadband access in rural and remote areas.
WiFi networks – Regulatory provisions revised to accommodate both indoor and outdoor usage and the growth in demand for wireless access systems, including RLANs for end-user radio connections to public or private core networks, such as WiFi, while limiting their interference into existing satellite services.
Railway radiocommunication systems between train and trackside (RSTT) – Resolution approved on Railway radiocommunication systems to facilitate the deployment of railway train and trackside systems to meet the needs of a high-speed railway environment in particular for train radio applications for improved railway traffic control, passenger safety and security for train operations.
Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) – ITU Recommendation (standard) approved to integrate ICTs in evolving Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) to connect vehicles, improve traffic management and assist in safer driving.
Broadcasting-satellite service (BSS) – Protection of frequency assignments, providing a priority mechanism for developing countries to regain access to spectrum orbit resources.
- Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) – Expanded coverage and enhanced capabilities for GMDSS.
Telecommunications network equipment sold to wireless network providers has always been a minor part of Samsung’s business, especially compared to memory chips and mobile phones – two sectors where it leads the world (also #1 in total semiconductor revenue and #1 or #2 silicon foundry vs TSMC). Last year, Samsung held only a 6.6% share of the overall telecom equipment market, compared with Huawei’s 31%. It ranked fifth in global sales of wireless base stations.
In fact, the South Korean conglomerate’s information technology and mobile communications business declined 7% last year to $87 billion, of which an estimated $85 billion was mobile device sales and $2 billion was network infrastructure. SK Telecom is probably Samsung’s biggest customer for network gear. In the U.S., Samsung sells its 5G network equipment (base stations/small cells) to AT&T, Verizon and Sprint (Samsung is also a part of the Sprint Spark initiative).
Yet this year, Samsung is benefiting from a first-mover advantage in with South Korea deploying nationwide commercial (pre-standard) 5G networks in April and leading the world in 5G subscribers. So the company’s initial 5G success story relies on its dominant positions in the South Korean and U.S. markets, where 5G services were launched earlier than in other regions. RCR wireless said this past April that Samsung Electronics had sold 53,000 5G base stations to Korean carriers.
Samsung also hopes to capitalize on Huawei’s U.S. ban and U.S. government attempts to bar it from other countries 5G networks. Yet despite Washington’s ban, the Chinese tech giant has so far won fifty (or more) 5G contracts from countries including Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Finland and even South Korea, according to a media report that quoted Ryan Ding, the president of Huawei’s Carrier Business Group. Huawei is also extremely well positioned thanks to the launch of Chinese 5G services early this month. It offers both price competitiveness and a technological edge, according to network operators that have tested Huawei’s gear. It also is the holder of the largest number of telecommunications equipment patents.
Kim Young-ki, the head of Samsung Electronics’ network business division, said last June that Samsung would capture more than 20% of the global 5G equipment market by 2020. And since Kim’s statement, Samsung has made major inroads. It now supplies 5G equipment to two of the three of the world’s first 5G service providers, SK Telecom and KT, both in South Korea, where (as noted above) nationwide 5G services began in April. Samsung also supplied the first 5G-enabled smartphones.
Beyond South Korea, Samsung provides 5G gear to AT&T, Verizon and Sprint in the U.S., which both run limited 5G services. Test supplies of Samsung 5G equipment have been provided to Telefonica of Germany, as well as AT&T and T-Mobile of the US. However, Samsung declined to comment to Asia Times on how those tests are proceeding.
In October, Samsung won a contract to supply 5G mobile network equipment to KDDI, Japan’s second-largest telecommunications company. It did not reveal the details of the deal, but local media reports said the 5G equipment supplied by Samsung was expected to be worth US$2 billion over the next five years.
Also in October, Samsung showcased advanced LTE and 5G technologies used in combination in dual-connected mode networks with Reliance Jio Infocomm of India at the India Mobile Congress 2019. Experts say India is not ready to launch 5G services, but Samsung is keen to pave the way in cooperation with Jio.
“Samsung has been working in close cooperation with Jio to bring a digital transformation including transition to 4G throughout India for seven years,” Paul Kyungwhoon Cheun, Executive Vice-President and Head of Network Business at Samsung, said in a press release. “Samsung and Jio will continue to join forces in bringing next-generation innovation across the country, harnessing the full 5G potential in driving further growth of digital India.”
According to the Ministry of Science and ICT of Korea, Samsung took 36% of global sales of 5G network equipment in the first quarter of this year – the top position – followed by Ericsson and Huawei, both with 28%, and Nokia with 14%. That improvement illustrates how far Samsung Electronics has come in the 5G market.
“Now, Samsung is posting a higher 5G equipment market share than its competitors as only a few countries, such as Korea and the US, have commercialized 5G service,” an unnamed industry expert told Asia Times. “We need to see how Samsung performs in the future … it is not likely to maintain its current position as more and more countries commercialize 5G services.” The expert added that 5G services will be launched in about 50 countries next year, creating new battlegrounds for the sector’s players to fight on.
Samsung’s 5G Future:
Gaining early traction in major markets is crucial for wireless network equipment makers. “Telecommunication service providers tend to keep their relations with existing suppliers once their network is set,” Kim Jong-ki of the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade told Asia Times. “It’s too early to speak of the future of Samsung’s 5G telecommunication business, but Samsung indeed has the potential to be a strong contender.
“Samsung’s participation in the world’s first commercialization of 5G network in Korea is a valuable asset for Samsung, and Samsung has R&D power and enough patents in the key area of 5G telecommunication – though its total number of patents does not match Huawei’s,” Kim added.
Pundits say that in addition to Samsung’s first-mover advantage, its position as an end-to-end 5G solution provider and its immunity to security concerns in the US are further strengths. Washington’s blacklisting of Huawei offers Samsung a particularly juicy opportunity to seize a major bridgehead in the world’s largest economy.
“Samsung’s telecommunications equipment business is expected to perform better in the 5G era [than in previous eras] as it took the initiative in the newly growing 5G market, as seen in its global market share in the first quarter of this year,” the expert said. “Now, Samsung’s position looks different from that in the 4G gear market.”
Moreover, there appears to be backing for aggressive moves into the sector at the very pinnacle of the electronics conglomerate – a critical factor in Korea’s family-dominated business groups.
“Samsung’s changed stance on the telecommunication equipment business is also expected to enhance competitiveness,” the expert added. “Lee Jae-yong, the heir of the Samsung business group, has shown a will to promote the business.”
While the IMT-2020 goals play a pivotal role in directing research and development, 5G networks will need to go far beyond numerical improvements in order to meet the requirements of evolving network usage that we are seeing today. Indeed, while 5G networks will enable the delivery of some very impressive services to the traditional mobile subscriber, dozens of previously unconnected industries are now incubating ideas that will completely transform the role of mobile telecommunications in today’s society.
In order to support these services, 5G radio access networks (5G RAN) will need to be flexible. They will need to be able to adapt to a wide range of different service requirements so that network and third party service providers alike can deploy new applications, services and devices seamlessly and sustainably. Through the evolution of the radio air interface, the implementation of ‘software-defined’ principles and more, the 5G RAN will enable transparent connectivity for a new generation of information-driven users and industries.
5G radio access deployments will be characterized by their highly dense, throughput focused and software-driven nature. Foremost among the differences between 5G and LTE will be the logical separation of each component of the 5G fNB (future NodeB). In particular, we will see the baseband split, with the lower layers of the 5G protocol stack merging with the radio unit to form a new element called the Access Unit (AU).
In an interview with an Ovum analyst, Samsung’s Dongsoo Park, PhD said:
“Having Korea as our home base affords us an incredible opportunity to commercialize the latest technology, which are reinforced by our current presence in the U.S., Japan, Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Russia. Our recent collaboration with Jio India further promotes Samsung’s firm commitment to the infrastructure business.”
We couldn’t agree more and are eager to see if Samsung can leverage that first mover advantage and potential Huawei blacklisting to gain share in the 5G network infrastructure market.