AT&T owns >630 MHz nationwide of mmWave spectrum + HPE partnership for Edge Networking & Computing

Following the close of FCC Auction 102, AT&T won 24 GHz spectrum in 383 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) for a nationwide average of 254 MHz. All of the licenses won were in the more valuable upper 500 MHz portion of the 24 GHz band, giving AT&T stronger nationwide coverage and additional spectrum depth and capacity in many top markets where demand is often greatest. In the top 10 markets alone, AT&T won nearly 286 MHz on average, including 300 MHz in 8 of those markets.

“We’re leading the nation in mobile 5G deployment and the large, contiguous block of spectrum we won in Auction 102 will be critical to maintaining that leadership,” said Scott Mair, president of AT&T Operations. “We’ve already been recognized for having the nation’s fastest1 and best2wireless network, and by further strengthening our spectrum position, we intend to build on our success. I’d like to congratulate and thank the FCC on the conclusion of another successful auction.”

The licenses it won cover all top 50 PEAs and 99 of the top 100 PEAs.  When added to the mmWave spectrum AT&T already holds in the 39 GHz band, AT&T’s average spectrum depth in mmWave increased by two-thirds to more than 630 MHz nationwide.

AT&T will use the spectrum to bolster its mobile 5G strategy. AT&T was the first U.S. wireless carrier to introduce mobile 5G service. The company’s 5G service is currently available in parts of 19 cities – more than any other wireless carrier – with plans to reach parts of 29 cities by the end of 2019. In the first half of 2020, the company expects to have the best combination of mobile 5G, providing high speeds and low latency service over mmWave spectrum and nationwide 5G service over “sub-6” spectrum.

The company spent about $980 million to win an average of 254 MHz of 24 GHz spectrum in 383 out of about 400 total partial economic areas (PEAs) nationwide. The winnings supplement the company’s previous millimeter wave spectrum holdings in the 39 GHz band.

The key appeal of millimeter wave spectrum is that large swaths of it are available, enabling the spectrum to support the highest speeds – although service deployed in the millimeter wave band has less range than service deployed in lower-frequency bands. AT&T’s initial 5G deployments have been in the millimeter wave band, but the company eventually expects to use a combination of millimeter wave and lower frequency spectrum to support 5G.

The average 630 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum that AT&T now holds in key markets would appear to position the company well to support high speeds, as the company previously achieved speeds of 1.2 Gbps in trials using a 400 MHz channel over a distance of 150 meters.

The company also has said that it has seen speeds as high as 400 Mbps on its commercial 5G network, although it cautioned that average speeds are lower.

AT&T also noted in a press release that the licenses it won in the 24 GHz band were in the “valuable” upper 500 MHz of the 24 GHz band and that the licenses cover all top 50 PEAs and 99 of the top 100 PEAs.

Late last year, AT&T was the first U.S. carrier to launch mobile 5G service, although the company did not have a smartphone available for use with the network until last week.  Customers initially used 5G-capable Wi-Fi hotspots that work with virtually any smartphone to access the network, which now covers parts of 19 cities.  AT&T plans to expand to parts of 10 more cities by the end of 2019 and to launch nationwide service in the first half of 2020.

The company’s initial target for 5G service is business customers – a decision that enabled the company to plan its initial 5G millimeter wave deployments for areas in which key business customers were located. The company also has said that it hopes to command a premium for 5G service in comparison with what it charges for earlier-generation services – a strategy that U.S. wireless carriers have not used previously.

References:

https://about.att.com/story/2019/att_enhances_spectrum_position.html

https://www.telecompetitor.com/att-average-5g-mmwave-spectrum-holdings-reaches-630-mhz-nationwide-potentially-supporting-gig-plus-speeds/

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Separately, AT&T said it will work with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to help businesses harness powerful edge capabilities. The two companies have agreed to a go-to-market program to accelerate business adoption of edge connections and edge computing.

Edge computing marks a giant leap forward in providing faster processing and potentially enhanced security for business applications. AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) Services enable businesses to take advantage of AT&T cellular coverage – including 5G as it becomes available – as well as new capabilities to manage cellular traffic through virtual network functions. HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems help create use cases where applications can reside on premises for lower latency processing.

“AT&T’s software-defined network, including our 5G network, combined with HPE’s intelligent edge infrastructure can give businesses a flexible tool to better analyze data and process low-latency, high-bandwidth applications,” said Mo Katibeh, Chief Marketing Officer, AT&T Business. “Bringing compute power closer to our network helps businesses push the boundaries of what is possible and create innovative new solutions.”

Enabling edge computing is a core tenet in AT&T’s strategy to help businesses get the most out of 5G. This is an important step in bringing these technologies to scale, so businesses can continue to transform how they will use networks in the 5G era.

“HPE believes that the enterprise of the future will need to be edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven to turn all of its data into action and value,” said Jim Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer, HPE. “Our go-to-market alliance with AT&T, using HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems, will help deliver AT&T MEC services at scale to help our customers more quickly convert data into actionable intelligence, enabling unique digital experiences and smarter operations.”

https://about.att.com/story/2019/att_and_hpe.html

 

AT&T to Focus new WarnerMedia Innovation Lab on 5G Experiences

AT&T’s WarnerMedia Innovation Lab in New York City will serve as a testing ground for leveraging 5G to provide innovative storytelling through advertising, according to company executives. The 20,000 square foot lab is being built in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan (this author’s home town) and is scheduled to open in early 2020. The WarnerMedia lab will also draw consumer insights and technology from AT&T’s Xandr ad sales unit.

“By working across AT&T, we’re able to combine the latest in 5G technology with immersive content experiences and cutting-edge advertising capabilities,” said David Christopher, president of AT&T Mobility and Entertainment. “The WarnerMedia Innovation Lab will be a space where developers, creators and visitors will be inspired to push the boundaries of entertainment, all powered by the company that first introduced the U.S. to the power of mobile 5G.”

“Storytelling is in our company’s DNA and part of that experience is how the content is enjoyed, including advertising. The Lab is a critical part of our testing and learning on the new experiences in advertising that we will be rolling out to market,” said Dan Reiss, head of advanced advertising and branded content at WarnerMedia Ad Sales.

“The Lab is more than a technology incubator, but also a dream factory for us to create the wonderment that fans have come to love and expect from WarnerMedia,” said Jesse Redniss, GM for WarnerMedia Innovation Lab, in a statement. He described the location as a place where WarnerMedia will “flex the best of [its] creative storytelling capabilities combined with cutting edge technology from AT&T and our partners to deliver experiences that will be talked about for a lifetime.”

“Every day, Xandr looks for new innovative ways to help marketers and create a better viewing experience for consumers,” said Kirk McDonald, CMO, Xandr. “Working with our colleagues at AT&T Communications and WarnerMedia, we are uniquely positioned to develop new advertising innovations that engage consumers and provide integral feedback for marketers and brands. The WarnerMedia Innovation Lab will accelerate the adoption of new advertising formats and provide an environment to showcase our collaborative work.”

Image Courtesy of WarnerMedia

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AT&T stated the new lab will be “[unveiling] a new balance in the relationship between advertising, technology and content” and said that its work would include mixed reality and/or virtual reality applications, “5G uses that enhance new advertising capabilities,” and better user experiences related to advertising.

Architectural firm Design Republic will head the design of the project, with work beginning this summer with completion scheduled for early 2020.

 

References:

https://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/at-t-focuses-innovation-lab-on-5g-experiences

https://www.rcrwireless.com/20190617/5g/warnermedia-lab-to-be-outfitted-with-att-5g

https://www.fiercevideo.com/tech/at-t-details-new-5g-equipped-warnermedia-innovation-lab

https://www.cordcuttersnews.com/atts-new-warnermedia-streaming-service-could-be-a-great-cord-cutting-tool/

https://about.att.com/story/2019/creating_5g_today.html

AT&T Fiber Build-Out Ahead of Schedule; Moffett report on AT&T Fiber questions subscriber growth

AT&T Fiber Build-Outs:

For the first quarter 2019, AT&T reported 297,000 AT&T fiber customer gains and 45,000 broadband net adds, with broadband revenue growing more than 8%.

As part of its 2015 acquisition of DirecTV, the FCC required that AT&T expand its deployment of its high-speed, fiber-optic broadband internet service to 12.5 million customer locations, as well as to E-rate eligible schools and libraries, by July 2019.

Speaking Wednesday, June 5th at the Credit Suisse 21st Annual Communications Conference (see webcast url below), AT&T Communications CEO John Donovan said that AT&T now has a large inventory of fiber-based assets and that their fiber build-out has already reached 14.5 million customer locations.

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Editor’s Note:

Indeed, AT&T is offering fiber based internet in the SF Bay area via a KCBS radio commercial.  However, they say availability is limited.

AT&T webcast url:  https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1245728&tp_key=70a2932a9e&tp_special=8

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AT&T will be a bit slower in future fiber build-outs.  Donovan said “We’ll continue to invest in fiber but we’ll do it based on the incremental, economic case. We’re not running to any household target.”

While it used to take AT&T 36 months to get fiber into roughly 30% of a market, AT&T can now reach 50% to 55% in 24 months time, according to Donovan.

“So I really like the cadence and the momentum that we’ve got in our brand, which is AT&T Fiber,” he said. “Where we have fiber we’re doing exceedingly well. Where we have slower speeds, sub 40 megabits per second, that’s where the majority of our churn is. But right now if you look at this year, we will add a million high-speed fiber broadband subs. And roughly two thirds of those come from cable. So we’re doing extremely well.”

AT&T’s pre-standard “5G” deployments, which will be launched in 29 cities by the end of the year, also benefit from the fiber build-out as fiber is needed for high bandwidth backhaul.  Note yet again that an AT&T representative chairs ITU-R WP 5D where IMT 2020 (radio aspects) is being standardized.

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Moffett-Nathanson report: “U.S. Broadband: Where Are AT&T Fiber’s Subscriber Gains Coming From?

However, LightReading says that the bulk of AT&T Fiber subscriber growth is coming from AT&T.  AT&T Fiber’s subscriber base is growing rapidly.  AT&T disclosed that AT&T Fiber — the expanding FTTP portion of its footprint capable of delivering speeds up to 1 Gbit/s — gained about 1.1 million subscribers over the past year, bringing the total AT&T Fiber subscriber base to about 3.1 million.

However, AT&T appears to be benefiting largely from speed upgrades from its existing high-speed Internet customers rather than by stealing share away from cable rivals, according to a new subscribers only analysis of the U.S. broadband market by MoffettNathanson titled “U.S. Broadband: Where Are AT&T Fiber’s Subscriber Gains Coming From?

“The short answer appears to be… from AT&T itself,” wrote Craig Moffett, lead analyst with Moffett-Nathanson, surmising that the bulk of new AT&T Fiber subs are coming from the company’s own broadband subscriber base, usually in the form of upgrades or migrations of existing U-verse customers.

Moffet said AT&T’s broader “IP Broadband” category” — which includes AT&T Fiber and U-verse/fiber-to-the-neighborhood customers — has posted comparatively modest subscriber gains over the past year.

(Source: Company reports, MoffettNathanson estimates and analysis)

Source: Company reports, MoffettNathanson estimates and analysis

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“Therefore, unless AT&T’s U-verse broadband customers are suddenly fleeing for other providers in droves (unlikely), one obvious possibility is that many, or even most, of AT&T’s fiber gains are simply migrations of their existing customer base from one product to another,” Moffett explained, estimating that about 81% of AT&T Fiber net adds over Q1 2018 to Q1 2019 were migrations from U-verse.

Moffett said that migration story isn’t necessarily a surprising one. While the initial U-verse deployments in the early 2000s targeted some of the densest parts of the telco’s footprint, AT&T has predictably targeted FTTP deployments in many of the same dense areas, he added.

Also of note: AT&T Fiber’s base tier is $60 per month for a symmetrical 80 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s, the same as the U-verse standalone broadband product. “Even if a customer doesn’t really need faster upload speeds, if AT&T offers to upgrade a customer for no added cost why wouldn’t they switch?” Moffett asks.

And though AT&T Fiber subscribers appear to be largely coming way of upgrades or migrations of existing AT&T broadband subs, Moffett said that doesn’t mean that AT&T Fiber won’t have a bigger impact on competitors (like cable operators) eventually. “It’s just that it’s not having much impact yet,” he wrote, adding that AT&T Fiber’s expansion, expected to pass 14 million residential and small business locations by June 2019, remains a threat to cable that’s “worth watching.”

According to Moffett’s report, US MSOs added 1.04 million broadband subs in Q1, up from 962,000 in the year-ago quarter. US telcos added just 23,000 broadband subs in Q1 fueled by ongoing depletion of legacy DSL subs, but improved from a year-ago loss of 44,000 customers. The US satellite broadband sector, still a small player, added 15,000 subs in the quarter.

Combined, US broadband providers added 1.07 million subs in Q1 — a year-on-year growth rate of 2.9% — for a grand total of 107.81 million subs. Broken down by provider type, US cable led with 71.58 million, followed by the telcos (34.4 million) and satellite (1.82 million).

VSG: 2018 U.S. Carrier Managed SD-WAN LEADERBOARD

AT&T, Hughes, Verizon, Windstream, CenturyLink, Aryaka, Fusion and Comcast are the leading providers on the first benchmark for SD-WAN services.
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AT&T was #1 in Vertical Systems Group’s (VSG’s) inaugural leaderboard for the managed software-defined WAN market. Verizon, Windstream and CenturyLink also ranking in the top five for 2018.  The top eight managed SD-WAN companies had the highest market shares of installed carrier managed SD-WAN customer sites in the U.S. at the end of last year.
Vertical Systems Group SD-WAN
VSG said telcos with lots of experience in deploying MPLS, Ethernet and IP technologies are likely to lead in the transition from IP VPN  to SDN.
“Providers in the carrier managed segment of the SD-WAN market have emerged as the best choice for delivering large scale, complex and resilient SD-WAN services end-to-end,” said Rick Malone, principal of Vertical Systems Group, in a prepared statement. “We believe that network operators with deep experience in MPLS, Ethernet and IP are most favorably positioned to support enterprise customers as they transition their networks to SDN.”
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Worldwide revenue for managed SD-WAN, MPLS and site-to-site VPNs combined is currently more than $40 billion. The carrier managed SD-WAN sector accounts for less than 5% of the market.  VSG said that the majority of the carrier managed SD-WAN installs to date have been hybrid configurations that included partial conversions of existing site-to-site and MPLS networks.
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Vertical Systems Group defines a managed SD-WAN service as a carrier-grade network offering for enterprise and business customers, which is managed by a network operator, and delivered over a software-defined network (SDN) service architecture that has separate control (overlay) and data (underlay) planes.

Logo

SD-WAN is one of three managed VPN segments that Vertical Systems tracks, along with MPLS and site-to-site VPNs. The top-five carrier managed SD-WAN companies are also leading providers of dedicated IP VPN services, which included landline and satellite connectivity.

VSG Research Highlights:

SD-WAN is one of the three Managed VPN segments that Vertical tracks, along with MPLS and Site-to-Site VPNs. Service migration analysis shows that the majority of Carrier Managed SD-WAN service installations to date are hybrid configurations that include partial conversions of existing Site-to-Site and MPLS networks.

  • The top five Carrier Managed SD-WAN companies are also the leading providers of Dedicated IP VPN services, including landline and satellite connectivity.
  • A number of SDN-based technologies are utilized to deliver Carrier Managed SD-WAN services. The fourteen LEADERBOARD and Challenge Tier providers use products from the following companies (in alphabetical order): Cisco/Viptela, Silver Peak, Versa, and VMware/VeloCloud, or employ their own internally developed technologies. Several SD-WAN service providers offer multiple solutions.

The 14 leaderboard and challenge tier providers used SD-WAN technologies from Cisco/Viptela, Silver Peak, Versa Networks and VMware/VeloCoud or deploy their own internally developed technologies. Several SD-WAN service providers, such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink, have multiple SD-WAN offerings.

https://www.verticalsystems.com/2019/05/21/2018-sd-wan-us-leaderboard/

AT&T Earnings Disappoint; 5G pricing ~ broadband fixed line & LAN replacement for business customers?

AT&T reported 2019 Q1 net income of $4.1 billion, or 56 cents per share, down from $4.66 billion, or 75 cents per share, in the same quarter the year before.  Earnings, adjusted for one-time gains and costs, were 86 cents per share, beating analysts’ estimate by 1 cent.  AT&T earnings  continued its streak of either missing or just hitting analyst expectations.  EPS was in line with expectations, while revenues were off $270M despite growing 17.8% Y/Y fueled by the Time Warner acquisition.  Revenue grew 18 percent to $44.83 billion in the period, which missed Street forecasts. Thirteen analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $45.09 billion.

The U.S.’s second-largest wireless carrier after Verizon added 80,000 cellphone customers who pay a monthly bill, the more lucrative type of wireless customer. AT&T also added “prepaid” cellphone customers.

During AT&T’s earnings call, CEO Randall Stephenson said that he anticipates that there is a chance 5G mobile plans could more closely resemble broadband internet plans versus current LTE plans. For example, with LTE plans, it is priced based on how much data you need, but other than that, a customer on a 1GB data plan versus a customer on a 50GB data plan will experience the same speeds.

However, with 5G, Stephenson said, “I will be very surprised if, as we move into wireless, the pricing regime in wireless doesn’t look something like the pricing regime you see in fixed line. If you can offer a gig speed, there are some customers that are willing to pay a premium for 500 meg to a gig speed, and so forth. So I expect that to be the case. We’re two to three years away from seeing that play out.”

“Right now, from 5G what we’re seeing is exclusively businesses,” said Stephenson. “It’s serving as a LAN replacement product.” Business customers are installing a 5G router, but when more devices start showing up on the market with embedded 5G modems, “then you don’t even need the router,” he said.

AJW Comment: A 5G private LAN competes with private LTE and IEE 802.11ax.  It’s hardly a slam dunk commercial success and is not even a use case for IMT 2020.  ONCE AGAIN, THERE IS NO STANDARD FOR 5G UNTIL IMT 2020 HAS BEEN APPROVED!

5g-spectrum

3GPP Rel 15 “5G NR” (not a standard)  is being deployed in two distinct sets of spectrum, with very different characteristics

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Stephenson noted that business customers pay more for higher speeds in AT&T’s fixed line offerings, and the company expects the same to hold true with 5G. Ultimately, the company expects a 5G “pricing regime” that will look similar to its fixed-line pricing regime. But it doesn’t expect that to play out for two to three years.

“We’ll have 5G coverage nationwide next year. We’ll offer 5G to both businesses and consumers.”

The AT&T CEO was also very bullish on the company’s FirstNet business for emergency services. FirstNet “has passed the halfway mark,” he said, adding that it serves 7,000 agencies with 570,000 subscribers. And he reiterated his point that FirstNet is helping AT&T speed the build-out of 5G.

AT&T CFO John Stephens elaborated, “We’re at 53% of our network buildout for FirstNet. For 5G we’re operational in 19 markets today, using that 39GHz mmWave spectrum.”

Stephenson added, “Turning up FirstNet is having exactly the impact we hoped it would have. The value proposition is now one of quality and speed and delivery of video.”  FirstNet is driving a non-inconsequential impact on subscriber gains. In addition, it’s giving AT&T more penetration in rural communities and allowing the company to take market share. “FirstNet is going to be strategic for us for a number of years,” said Stephenson.

2019 Open Network Summit: AT&T Virtualizes its Network; Deploys White Boxes in Toronto and London; 400G and Open ROADM

Last week at the 2019 Open Network Summit, AT&T  announced that its white box switch/routers, which  interconnect compute servers in the network cloud, are live and carrying 5G traffic. This is part of the company’s push to virtualize its network, which at the end of 2018 had 65% virtualized network functions.  AT&T’s goal is to virtualize 75 percent of its core network functions by 2020. “This year (2019) our goal is to get to 70 percent,” Fuetsch said in his Thursday morning keynote. “Why not faster progress this year?  We left all the hard stuff for last.”

AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch during his keynote address at 2019 Open Network Summit

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Sidebar:  AT&T 5G White Boxes

The radio access network (RAN) includes radios on towers, small cells and other types of equipment that traditionally “were specialized, expensive devices sold by a small number of (wireless network equipment) vendors,” said Fuetsch in a blog post. Those vendors “dictated costs, technical capabilities and upgrade schedules. They controlled the hardware and the software.”

This status quo no longer makes sense, now that carriers are deploying 5G wireless, which will support higher speeds and lower latency, Fuetsch argues. Wireless network traffic is expected to skyrocket, but carriers cannot afford to increase the price of service commensurately.

AT&T previously released specifications for a white box router for use in its 5G network and invited vendors to submit proposals to build the router. Feutsch’s blog post notes that the company is working on additional hardware specs with the O-RAN Alliance, an industry group focused on defining 5G white box requirements.

The other AT&T 5G white box initiative highlighted in Fuetsch’s blog post is something he calls the “network cloud white box,” which he said is now live in the AT&T network and carrying 5G traffic.  This device would be a switch that would interconnect servers in the edge data centers that AT&T is establishing to support low-latency 5G wireless applications. Some of these applications need more processing power than end-user devices can support, which dictates a cloud approach. But the cloud resources must be located near the end-user to provide low latency.

The servers in the edge data centers are powered by the ONAP open source network operating system that AT&T played a key role in developing.  The white box deployment uses a software stack that will be part of the open source Disaggregated Network Operating System (DANOS) Project, and AT&T plans to introduce its code contribution to the community soon

Also in the blog post, Fuetsch noted that AT&T has deployed white boxes in Toronto and London to support internet service for business customers and that the company plans to offer the devices in 76 countries by the end of the year. In addition, he  said AT&T is working on technology that would enable a single fiber optic wavelength to carry 400 Gbps.  For its 400G deployment, AT&T expects to use Open ROADM optical networking for interoperability, to achieve more competition, mix and match between vendors, and lower the barrier to entry for startup vendors, Fuetsch said.

“These white boxes and open source routing software that we’re deploying, the cell site router initiative that we’re putting in is going to 65,000 (domestic) cell sites over the coming years,” Fuetsch said.

AT&T contributed its white box specs to the Open Compute Project last year, which led to the development of the cell site router gateway that it’s showing at ONS this week. AT&T is demonstrating a white box router gateway from UfiSpace that was developed via the OCP specifications.

Fuetsch said AT&T planned to update 65,000 cell tower sites with the UfiSpace white boxes. While he didn’t provide a timeline, he said those efforts were ramping up this year.

“This is a hardware box that is based on Broadcom’s Qumran chipset, and it’s basically a cell site router that is a hardened for extreme environmental conditions,” Fuetsch said. “So think like negative 40 Celsius up to 65 degrees Celsius operating ranges. It’s also a box that basically can support interfaces from as low as 100 megs all the way up to 100 gig for both supporting our radio based RAN units as well as our backhaul needs.”

While AT&T hasn’t said which vendors it’s using for the internet white boxes, AT&T is running its Vyatta software stack on them, which Fuetsch said AT&T still planned to contribute into the Linux Foundation’s DANOS community at some point this year.  These open, white box systems allow AT&T to run 10 times as much traffic as the proprietary routers it previously bought at the same price. Fuetsch declined to give a time frame for when a majority of AT&T’s network might operate on open source-based hardware, but said certain aspects of it will in the coming years.

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Regarding AT&T’s motivations for open source, Fuetsch identified security, freedom of choice, flexibility, and interoperability. “As we shift from a hardware-centric network to a more software-centric network we needed a way to get our software to become more open, more flexible. We also were looking for software that’s more secure. Open source is inherently more secure because you have more eyeballs on it,” he said.

“We believe that not only having more open reference designs on the hardware level but also having more open source based projects in that ecosystem will drive more innovation, more economic solutions, more competition, thus a better experience and products and services for our customers,” he said. “Open source has really become a major foundation to a lot of our major network initiatives.”

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AT&T’s Network by the Numbers:

• 214 Countries & territories
• 1.1M+ Global fiber route miles
• 253 Petabytes per day

“5G” Deployment:

• 12 5G US cities launched (with pre-IMT 2020 standard, 3GPP Release 15 NR, NSA implementation)
• 9 additional 5G US cities coming soon
• Nationwide 5G early 2020 (IMT 2020 won’t be completed by then)

In the next 5 years [Source: Cisco Visual Networking Index Forecast & Trends 2/27/19]:

• 3x Increase global IP traffic
• 7x Increase mobile IP Traffic
• 71% Traffic from wireless devices

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References:

https://about.att.com/story/2019/open_networking_summit_2019.html

https://about.att.com/innovationblog/2019/04/open_source_and_white_box.html

https://events.linuxfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Fuetsch-ONS-2019-keynote-FINAL.pdf

AT&T CEO Talks up 5G: Deploying small cells, China/Huawei – Security or Critical U.S. Infrastructure Risk?

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said China still lags behind the U.S. in the 5G race (for dubious reasons- see comment in box below this article), but slow cell site permitting processes in the U.S. and heavy Chinese investment, coupled with Huawei’s 5G dominance, could change the situation. Also, European carriers that use Huawei equipment in 4G networks are unable to switch suppliers for 5G networks because “Huawei is not allowing interoperability to 5G-— meaning if you are 4G, you are stuck with Huawei for 5G,”  said Stephenson during an interview with Carlisle Group co-founder David Rubenstein at the Economic Club in Washington DC.

“When the Europeans say we got a problem — that’s their problem. They really don’t have an option to go to somebody else…To me, the biggest risk is not that the Chinese government might listen in on our phone conversations or mine our data some how if we use their equipment. That’s not the issue,” he said.

Stephenson is worried about how the 5G equipment could eventually be connected to millions of devices tied to critical  U.S. infrastructure — including autonomous cars, manufacturing floors, robotics, refineries and traffic management in cities.  “We have to ask ourselves a question: If that much of our infrastructure will be attached to this kind of (5G) technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology? We damn well better be,” Stephenson said.

AT&T’s CEO is very optimistic about 5G technology, claiming it “will be the most transformative of all the Gs … you can’t conceive all the services that 5G implies.”

But in a 5G world millions of “things” will be connected and located within a square mile.  To make that possible, AT&T will deploy hundreds of thousands of small cell sites throughout the U.S.  They will be placed on light poles, sides of buildings, roof tops and other structures.

According to the AT&T CEO, 5G is a more efficient technology, delivering a better smartphone user experience, but it won’t be cheaper than 4G.  AT&T has not “worked out what or pricing arithmetic looks like,” Stephenson said.

Regarding 5G replacing smartphone screens with Internet video enabled smart eye glasses, Stephenson said:

We carry around these devices and they’re bigger than they should be, because there’s a lot of computing in here, there’s a lot of storage in here. When you get to 5G, all that computing, all that storage goes away — it’s back in the network. These form factors, some would say they shrink.

I say they go away. It is conceivable that we’re going to be moving into a world without screens, a world where this [points to his eye glasses] is your screen. You don’t need any more of a form factor than this, once the computing and storage requirements move out and into the network. And guys like you [waving to the TV cameras in the back] can think very differently about how you deliver your content to your customers. It becomes a delivery without screens. It’s just a totally different experience. …

AT&T is right at the very center of all this because, if you ask yourself: Five years from now, in this room, will you be consuming more or less global bandwidth. More? Who thinks more? Will you be consuming more or less premium entertainment? More? Well, I like where we are on both of those.

You can watch and listen to Stephenson’s 52 1/2 minute talk here.

References:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/20/business/att-randall-stephenson-5g/index.html

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-att-ceo-huawei-tech/att-ceo-says-chinas-huawei-hinders-carriers-from-shifting-suppliers-for-5g-idUSKCN1R12TX

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AT&T says its leading wireless and fiber network, including investments in new technology such as 5G, will provide the network bandwidth required as customers increase engagement with premium video and emerging 4K and virtual reality content.

AT&T is now a software company: “Software is increasingly at the heart of everything we do. Whether a patent or an open source project, software is the future of AT&T. Software is our thing,” AT&T’s Mazin Gilbert wrote in a blog post.

 

AT&T tests 5G and network edge computing with Microsoft Azure; Partners with Vodafone Business for IoT

AT&T  announced  at MWC 2019 that it is working with Microsoft on a proof of concept to integrate network edge compute (NEC) capabilities with its 5G network and Microsoft Azure cloud services.  The solution would be important for the industries and Internet of Things (IoT) use cases of retail, healthcare, public safety, entertainment, and manufacturing, AT&T said, as it would provide businesses with lower latency, access to high compute power, and network routing without needing on-premises hardware.

“We’re testing our ability to substantially reduce latency and improve user experience by deploying advanced cloud services in specific geographic locations closer to business sites. A fully-scaled deployment will give businesses access to compute power, lower latency and optimized network routing without the need for dedicated on-premises hardware.”  These advantages will be important for the low-latency cloud and IoT solutions used by retail, healthcare, public safety, manufacturing and entertainment.

Last month, AT&T* announced its approach to 5G for businesses, laying out three key pillars: mobile, fixed and edge computing.

“Our collaboration will pave the way to enable Microsoft Azure cloud services to connect to more customers and devices across the US through AT&T’s nationwide wireless network,” Microsoft corporate VP of Azure Networking Yousef Khalidi said.   “Our two companies are working together to achieve the low-latency connectivity needed for the explosion of devices and immense amount of data being created by computing at the edge,” he added.

AT&T is using drones to test the network edge compute capabilities with Azure, working with Israel-based startup Vorpal in its foundry in Plano, Texas.  Vorpal’s VigilAir product detects and geo-locates drones in real-time, which could be used by law enforcement agencies and airports.

“By running their VigilAir application using Azure cloud services delivered through the Plano AT&T test environment, and connecting their drone-tracking sensors using AT&T LTE and 5G networks, Vorpal could achieve the low latency and compute scalability required,” the carrier said.

AT&T expects to share more details about NEC services with Microsoft Azure later this year. NEC is part of AT&T’s broader edge compute strategy that also includes AT&T Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC).

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Earlier at MWC 2019, AT&T announced it’s working with Vodafone Business on IoT applications for the automotive space, including safety, security, and entertainment.

“This alliance with Vodafone Business is a natural extension of our existing relationship,” said Chris Penrose, President, Internet of Things Solutions, AT&T. “We each have rich experience in connected vehicle technology.  By working together, we can innovate faster and help our global customers bring connectivity, entertainment and telematics to more vehicles across our respective footprints.”

“Our work with AT&T will benefit automotive manufacturers and their customers around the world as we simplify processes and provide a consistent experience to accelerate IoT adoption in this fast-moving market,” said Stefano Gastaut, IoT Director, Vodafone Business. “As technology complexity increases, this is the right time to make technology adoption easier for the automotive industry to help them achieve their business outcomes. This is the goal of this alliance.”

The two companies said they would develop connected car solutions across 5G and autonomous vehicle technology; vehicle-to-everything (V2X) capabilities; in-vehicle entertainment; connected car applications and services; global service quality models; and the intersection of connected cars and smart cities.

The companies will prioritize projects to enhance safety, security and entertainment capabilities. Key areas of focus will be:

  • 5G and autonomous vehicle technology
  • V2X capabilities (vehicle-to-everything)
  • In-vehicle entertainment
  • Connected car applications and services
  • Global service quality models
  • Connected car/ smart cities intersection

AT&T and Vodafone Business each provide connected car services and products for the automotive, fleet and insurance industries. They integrate electronic and telematics systems into complex vehicles, both at the point of manufacture and beyond. Together, the companies bring more than 50 years of experience in the automotive industry. And they collectively work with nearly 50 global automotive brands and connect more than 43 million cars and trucks on the road today.

References:

https://about.att.com/story/2019/att_nec.html

https://www.zdnet.com/article/mwc-2019-at-t-tests-5g-and-edge-computing-with-microsoft-azure/

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/att-and-vodafone-business-team-up-to-drive-internet-of-things-iot-connectivity-in-the-automotive-industry-300800916.html

AT&T to shut down 3G network in 2022; Verizon at end of 2019

AT&T will shut down its 3G network in early 2022 as the company shifts its focus to 5G implementation (?) and compatible 4G LTE networks. Research firm Ovum estimates that the number of devices using 3G exceeds 85 million, while AT&T reports that 3G was still the choice for 11% of the company’s postpaid users last year.

AT&T’s decision to shutter 3G, disclosed in a Wednesday regulatory filing, follows rival Verizon Communications’s  warning that it will disconnect 3G cellphones at the end of this year.  Verizon said in a recent filing it is “aggressively refarming 3G bands” for 4G but still needs more spectrum to keep up with its users’ demands.  Verizon executive Ronan Dunne told investors at a Thursday meeting that its 5G service will reach 30 cities this year. AT&T’s 5G service touched parts of 12 cities at the end of 2018, with nationwide service expected in 2020.

AT&T logo

The demise of 3G in the U.S. has been all but certain after cellphone carriers spent billions of dollars over the past decade to blanket the country with 4G service. That standard, also known as long-term evolution, or LTE, allows users to download data 10 times as fast as its predecessor and has paved the way for many smartphone apps that require ample mobile bandwidth.

Winding down obsolete versions is a habit for telecom companies. In the 1990s they pushed analog cellphone users to the first digital standards, and later persuaded 2G users to upgrade to one of several wireless technologies with the 3G label.

The companies are driven by necessity. Cellphone users with unlimited data plans stream more video on the go, testing the limits of what service providers can handle. Getting customers off 3G allows carriers to free up wireless frequencies for 4G signals over broader swaths of the radio spectrum.

Early 3G phones kicked off the smartphone era by giving customers a reason to use their devices for more than just talking and texting. Apple Inc.’s cellphone sales took off after it launched the iPhone 3G.

AT&T said 11% of its postpaid customers were using 3G service at the end of 2018. More than 85 million devices use 3G, according to research firm Ovum. They include smartphones, tablets and devices like vehicle-location trackers. The coming changes could also affect users of prepaid cellphone brands like TracFone that use other companies’ networks.

Telecom executives are already shifting their attention to the latest group of engineering standards known as 5G, which are expected to make video streaming and downloads even quicker. The specifications also support many more connections at once, allowing carriers to go after more types of gadgets.

The end of 4G LTE service, if it comes, is years away. ITU-R [1] and ITU-T haven’t finished writing 5G standards, and telecom companies say it will take years to make 5G commonplace. Companies are less motivated to kill 4G service because it can work in tandem with 5G, unlike previous generations that forced carriers to devote a band of wireless spectrum to one technology.

Note 1.  An AT&T representative chairs ITU-R WP 5D which is responsible for the IMT 2020 (official 5G) standard.  Another AT&T rep chairs the WP 5D SWG on Radio Aspects within the Technology WG.  Hence, AT&T has tremendous influence and impact on IMT 2020 yet it’s marketing communications department falsely claims the company has deployed “standards based” mobile 5G.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-t-gives-3g-service-three-years-to-live-11550765221

Have a 3G phone? Here’s why it’s time to start thinking about upgrading

 

 

AT&T’s 5G Use Cases at NGNM Conference on Licensing Practices in 5G Industry Segments

Dawn Of The 5G World –  AT&T Perspective

by Michael Robinson Director, Business Development AT&T Intellectual Property

Current “5G” Deployment:
• Live in 12 Cities: Atlanta, Charlotte & Raleigh, NC, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, FL, Louisville, KY, Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio & Waco, TX
• Millimeter wave spectrum

2019-2020 “5G” Deployment:
• Live in 9+ additional cities: Austin TX, Las Vegas, Nashville, New York City, Orlando, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, CA, (millimeter wave spectrum)
• Nationwide coverage available early 2020 (sub 6Ghz spectrum)

5G Use Cases:
1.  Healthcare
• Provide more effective healthcare and improve revenue realization for providers
• Minimize need for annual exams or office visits
• Wearables/Home Sensors provide near constant monitoring
• Alert healthcare providers of potential ailments or abnormalities
• Preventative Care: wearables will calculate daily recommendations, provide prompting based on medical records, real-time vitals, projected needs
• Hospital of the Future: collaboration with Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health

2. Retail
• Enable in-store 3D printers to create custom products
• AR/VR to try on clothing
• Home improvement stores use VR to create personalized demo of remodeling options

3. Finance
• Create highly customized financial/insurance experiences
• High resolution video enables customer interaction with in-person or AI representatives
• Security – AI cyber immune system to send threat intelligent defender cells from one edge of the network to the other
• Insurance companies
• Dispatch drones for claim investigations
• Holographic teleportation for adjusters – tour damaged property to provide benefits more rapidly

4. Manufacturing
• IoT neural network enables a ‘brain’ to react, calibrate and optimize end-to-end manufacturing process
• Robots mimicking human capabilities to carry out high-risk, dangerous tasks
• Network reliability and low latency enables manufacturing equipment to communicate wirelessly with back-end systems for time critical  operations
• Samsung Austin Semiconductor “Innovation Zone”
• Test bed for the Smart Factory
• Location services to improve safety
• Industrial IoT sensors – environmental & equipment conditions

AT&T Foundry (Plano, TX) – Use Case Development:
• Plano Foundry prototypes innovative solutions for AT&T customers in manufacturing, retail, finance, public sector
• 5G functionality (2019) to co-create 5G solutions:
• Using 5G-enabled network slicing in a manufacturing shop floor to create a separate network for operational equipment efficiency,
• Transform the retail buying experience for consumers through innovative solutions like digital signage, IoT-enabled smart shelving and auto-inventory tracking,
• Enabling life-changing healthcare technologies, like Aira, that use our IoT connectivity to bridge the physical gap between caregiver and patient,
• Deploying drones to rethink the damage assessment process for insurance companies, and ………………
• Applying AI or machine learning techniques to enhance situational awareness for first responders

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/Workshops-and-Seminars/itu-ngmn/Documents/2018/Michael_Robinson_Presentation.pdf

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NGMN Alliance Backgrouner:  by Peter Meissner, CEO NGMN

The NGMN Alliance was founded by leading international mobile network operators in 2006 with the “Objective to ensure that functionality and performance of next generation mobile network infrastructure, service platforms and devices will meet the requirements of operators and, ultimately, will satisfy end user demand and expectations.”

§ NGMN actively drives global alignment and convergence of technology standards and industry initiatives with the objective to avoid fragmentation and to guarantee industry scale.

§ A global presence has been established that comprises a leadership network of about 90 Partners: Operators, Vendors, Software Companies and Universities. These Partners are contributing to and delivering the results of the Work Programme with a focus on 5G. Several Cooperation Partners support the NGMN Alliance by two-way liaison statements.

§ The 5G Eco-System is different! New use cases beyond mobile broadband like massive IoT as well as highly demanding requirements from Vertical Industries on low latency, ultra-high reliability and security are causing substantial network transformation. Service Based Architecture, Network Slicing as well as Network Function Virtualisation are the solutions with major impact on network architecture and operations.

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/Workshops-and-Seminars/itu-ngmn/Documents/2018/Peter_Meissner_Presentation.pdf

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http://techblog.comsoc.org/2019/02/01/ngnm-alliance-holds-conference-on-5g-and-iot-licensing-ran-core-network-report-with-wba/

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