China Telecom reached a new milestone as its 5G narrow-band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) [1.]user base grew to more than 100 million. This is the largest number of 5G NB-IoT connections the industry has ever acquired, making China Telecom the world’s largest carrier for NB-IoT and the world’s first carrier to have developed such a large user base. News of this achievement came during the 2021 World Telecommunication & Information Society Day (WTISD) commemoration on May 17, in which e-Surfing Internet of Things Technology (e-Surfing IoT) released the latest 5G IoT achievements on behalf of China Telecom.
Note 1. NB-IoT is a narrow band radio access technology designed for the IoT, allowing connections between IoT devices that is faster and on a wider range. The connection is for devices requiring small amounts of data, over long periods and consumes less energy.
In July 2020, NB-IoT was officially endorsed as one of the global 5G standard technologies by ITU-R IMT 2020, paving the way for it to become an important part of 5G’s three major use cases.
A recent forecast by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) concludes that medium- and low-speed IoT connections will account for 90% of the total IoT connectivity by the end of 2025.
China Telecom was one of the world’s first carriers to start NB-IoT deployment, launching its services as early as 2017. After five years of extensive development, China Telecom has made breakthroughs in network coverage, user scale, platform services, chip modules, and industrial applications, demonstrating the role that NB-IoT has to play in forming the foundation for the digital economy.
China Telecom has built the world’s first and largest commercial NB-IoT network that delivers continuous coverage. With more than 400,000 NB-IoT base stations, users can leverage the most suitable spectrum resources, facilitating continuous network upgrades, network tests and service provisioning based on NB-IoT Release 14. Multi-carrier capacity expansion is also supported, adding extra flexibility to fulfil requirements for higher rate and larger capacity.
China Telecom has seen its IoT services used to support smart firefighting, security surveillance, urban facility management, smart homes, passenger car, charging device management, and smart appliances, with the total number of connections exceeding 100 million. It is the first time a carrier has acquired more than 100 million 5G NB-IoT users worldwide, making it an industry trailblazer. The company also leads in industry-specific use cases, with NB-IoT smart gas and water users numbering almost 30 million, making it the world’s largest provider of NB-IoT smart water and gas meter services.
China Telecom has deployed the industry’s first remote all-active NB-IoT device service platform to more than 100 million IoT devices with a 99% success rate of NB device data reporting. Its IoT Openness Platform, now in its fifth version — CTWing 5.0, offers a plethora of enhancements in smart congestion scheduling, remote upgrades, base station positioning, low power consumption, and quasi-real-time services. This means users benefit from massive-connectivity and low-power access, reducing overall terminal R&D costs while shortening R&D periods and improving NB-IoT experiences. The number of IoT device connections on the CTWing platform has exceeded 60 million, with an average of nearly 20 billion calls per month.
China Telecom has launched the industry’s first batch of NB-IoT chip modules which offer improved module performance, production efficiency, and reliability at reduced development costs, making them a powerful enabler of digital transformation.
China Telecom has also expanded NB-IoT applications to many other fields, from COVID-19 prevention and control to social governance, people’s livelihood, smart appliances, smart city, and smart agriculture, in the goal of evolving the “Internet of Everything” to evolve to “the Intelligent Internet of Everything.”
According to e-Surfing IoT, China Telecom’s NB-IoT technology has been applied in various industries, becoming a powerful enabler of industry digitalization and digital industrialization as part of the digital China vision.
To help contain the spread of COVID-19, China Telecom developed a smart door sensor, which has been adopted in several provinces across China, such as Heilongjiang, Guangdong, and Yunnan.
When it comes to social governance, China Telecom provides an array of smart community applications, such as NB-IoT smart smoke detectors, door status sensors, gas alarms, and manhole covers. These solutions improve the efficiency of community governance and property management while also encouraging the modernization of community governance systems, helping to support the digital economy.
In terms of people’s livelihood, China Telecom has rolled out tens of millions of NB-IoT smart water and gas meters. These meters enable automatic readings and alert solitary elderly to safety risks. China Telecom has also partnered with Goldcard Smart Group to turn Guangzhou into the world’s first city with over one million IoT gas meters.
China Telecom’s NB-IoT smart gas meters are now used by users reaching nearly 30 million people
As for smart home appliances, China Telecom and Haier Group have built the world’s first NB-IoT self-cleaning air conditioner, closing the gap of shared air conditioners for smart campuses and creating a new appliance consumption model for the sharing economy. China Telecom is also working with several home appliance giants in China to build a shared air conditioner leasing solution based on the NB-IoT technology, which is set to provide intelligent services for college students. These shared NB-IoT air conditioners have already been deployed in hundreds of colleges and universities in China.
China Telecom has helped build the country’s first city-level IoT platform in Xiong’an, a new national district in China. This platform is now the foundation for the city to build a digital replica.
In the smart agriculture, China Telecom is providing NB-IoT water quality monitoring services for an orchard town in Hunan Province. This helps to monitor water quality in real-time and implement intelligent agricultural breeding. Additionally, China Telecom’s NB-IoT technology is being used to enable smart cow services for a ranch in Xinjiang autonomous region.
With CTWing, its IoT Openness Platform, e-Surfing IoT will continue to advance the maturity of the IoT ecosystem, promote the scaled implementation of IoT applications, and enable digital industrialization and industry digitalization for the digital economy.
China Telecom media contact: [email protected]
Telstra has rolled out 5G network coverage to selected areas in 32 major and regional cities. It aims to deliver 5G into 35 cities by mid-year. “More than 4 million people pass through our 5G footprint,” said Telstra CEO Andrew Penn.
We’re busy rolling out 5G, and our coverage is growing day-by-day. Right now, we’re in 32 cities and regional centres across Australia – more than any other network. If you’re in an area without 5G Coverage, your device automatically swaps to 4G or 3G depending on the available signal.
This map shows where we have 5G coverage at 13 February 2020.
Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said internal testing of the 5G mmWave technology had begun and work was underway to roll out trial mobile sites in selected areas ahead of an expected auction of mmWave spectrum in 2021. 26 GHz will be the first mmWave band to be used for mobile services in Australia.
“mmWave will supercharge 5G. Its higher capacity and the potential to deliver even faster speeds as well as lower latency will help power the next generation of devices and innovations,” Penn said.
Telstra customers’ early access to its mmWave 5G network will initially be in selected areas. It will be made possible through ACMA 26 GHz scientific licenses that can be used for trials ahead of the spectrum auction early next year. 26GHz is set to become one of the most prevalent spectrum bands for mmWave 5G in the world, including Europe and Asia.
Telstra and technology partners Ericsson and Qualcomm Technologies recently tested live mobile base station in a commercial network using the 26GHz band.
Telstra earlier said its mobile footprint is more than 2.5 million square kilometers, at least 1 million square kilometers more than any other mobile network in Australia. Telstra has built more than 237 new mobile sites and upgraded 267 in the second half of 2019.
Average download speeds have increased from 200 megabits to 304 megabits per second now. Telstra also recorded about 1.9 gigabit in the live network. Data usage on 5G network has increased more than 28x in the first half of the year.
Telstra has expanded narrowband (NB-) IoT coverage (included in the not yet completed IMT 2020 specs) to nearly 4 million square kilometers from over 3.5 million. LTE CatM1 IoT coverage is around 3 million square kilometers.
Danish Khan | ET Telecom (editd and corrected by Alan J Weissberger)
Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea Limited are now preparing to launch commercial narrow-band IoT (NB-IoT) service in India in the coming months having brought various partners on board to develop a complete device and sensor ecosystem. Both Indian telcos are in currently in various stages of pilot runs in different circles.
Airtel is now deploying around 20,000 sites in Karnataka and Chennai to conduct NB-IoT trials. “We’ll be going with a pilot in a denser way rather than just a few trial sites..in a couple of months, we will be commercially rolling out,” Ajay Chitkara, Director and CEO, Airtel Business, told ET.
Vodafone Idea Limited, on the other hand, has already conducted commercial pilots in eight cities in India, and is now hoping to win its first commercial NB-IoT deployment deal in the coming weeks.
“We’re looking at winning our first commercial deployments over the next six weeks. So commercially we’re also seeing customers now, wanting to buy that. Once we contract them will go and deploy,” Nick Gliddon, chief enterprise business officer separately told ET.
Gliddon said that all eight pilots were conducted in cities like Kochi, Jaipur, Bengaluru, and Chennai and involved smart meters. “We’ve run a long-term trial with those guys to understand how the network and services work.
Airtel’s Chitkara said that the telco’s IoT services are already growing in the country and NB-IoT technology will help it address the demand. “We have around five and a half million subscribers on our IoT side and the way growth is happening, we need to eventually get into NB-IoT.”
Chitkara added that NB-IoT will offer scale as compared to traditional IoT technologies. “130 million devices need to be connected on meter and that is the reason people say that you can’t run on the existing ecosystem.”
Vodafone is also aiming to expand its NB-IoT in India in the next 12 months to tap specific opportunities in the smart city space along with other applications.
NB-IoT is a new 3GPP spec which will likely be included in IMT 2020. It is designed to broaden the future of IoT connectivity, providing significantly improved and deeper network coverage for communication between machines while lowering power consumption by devices.
Both telcos are taking a partner-led approach building a complete ecosystem including sensors, devices and to bring the overall cost down for devices.
Chitkara said that building applications is a challenge, thereby Airtel is bringing partners on board. “…another issue is with all the sensors and other things there is a cost involved so it’s a chicken and egg story…the cost of those 2G sensors still is cheaper so we are making sure at least this whole ecosystem is build up so that we can bring from some more sites,” he added.
Vodafone Idea has already brought over 25 partners on-board and is working towards doubling this number soon to build new use cases around the new technology. These partners are mainly startups and small and medium enterprises that will bring in hardware and software capabilities to enable new NB-IoT use cases.
Rival Reliance Jio Infocomm had last year launched an NB-IoT network with a commercial network available in Mumbai. It is preparing to foray into enterprise services and may expand its IoT services accordingly.
Jio recently claimed that it is the only telco in India to have the capability and network footprint for a nationwide launch of NB-IoT services. Airtel, however, countered the claim by saying that the company’s pan-India 4G network is also ready to support the technology, along with LTE-M.
Within the enterprise business, IoT is expected to be the growth area going forward, given that the consumer retail business continues to face competitive headwinds. India’s IoT market size is expected to increase to $9 billion by 2020 from $1.3 billion in 2016, according to consultancy firm Deloitte.
T-Mobile USA was the first U.S. wireless carrier to provide nationwide NB-IoT coverage last July. The “uncarrier” is very proud to have 81 million cellular customers and a very low churn rate. The company has invested billions of dollars in the last five years to modernize and transform its wireless network. As of February 7, 2019, T-Mobile’s LTE network now covers 325 million people, according to a recent earning report..
During his May 14th 2019 IoT World keynote, Balaji Sridharan, VP of IoT & M2M at T-Mobile US, described the challenges to overcome to realize massive IoT at scale and T-Mobile’s wireless networks that might be used for three different classes of IoT connectivity. Balaji also enumerate key features and attributes of NB-IoT and showed an interesting comparison chart of LPWANs. He said its 600 MHz spectrum is deployed throughout the U.S. 
Note 1. During its April 2019 earnings call, CTO Neville Ray said: “we have over 1 million square miles of 600 megahertz LTE rolled out. It’s working in 44 states and Puerto Rico. And we have a 100 million covered PoPs on 600 megahertz LTE. So we’ve said that in 2020, we’ll have a nationwide footprint on 5G.
IoT Classification and Characteristics [from Ericsson white paper]:
Massive IoT: Connecting billions of devices, small amounts of data volumes, (mostly) sent infrequently, low power required for long battery life (years not days, weeks or months).
Broadband IoT will need high throughput and/or low latency.; large data volumes.
Critical IoT will require ultra high reliability/availability and very low latency. Industrial automation (and robotic surgery) will require time sensitive information delivery and precise positioning of devices.
Industrial Automation is tailored for advanced industrial automation in conjunction with the other cellular IoT segments. It includes Radio Access Network (RAN) capabilities to facilitate the support of deterministic networks which, together with ethernet-based protocols and other industrial protocols, will enable many advanced industrial automation applications.
These applications have extremely demanding connectivity requirements and require very accurate indoor positioning and distinct architecture and security attributes. Industrial Automation IoT reinforced by Critical IoT connectivity is the key enabler for the full digitalization of Industry 4.0 for the world’s manufacturers, the Oil and Gas sectors as well as smart grid components for energy distribution companies.
Above chart courtesy of Ericsson.
T-Mo has wireless networks to meet all of the above IoT market segmants. In particular, NB-IoT, 4G-LTE, and (soon) 5G.
Challenges to overcome for Massive IoT:
- Support billions of devices at scale (that includes provisioning and (re) configuration).
- Long battery life (via low power consumption of devices/things)
- Coverage enhancements
- Global reach
NB-IoT meets the requirements for Massive IoT:
Operates in guard bands of T-Mobile’s LTE network. 
Wide range of devices to be connected to the Internet using existing mobile networks (rather then new network infrastructure).
Key benefits include: better battery life (again via low power consumption for connectivity), cheaper device costs ($5 certified NB-IoT module is now available), optimized data usage, reduced IP header and ability to transmit/receive non-IP data (which results in 30% to 40% less data transmission than if traditional IP was used), enhanced security via GSMA standards, licensed spectrum (no interference),, SIM based, and encryption.
Balaji said: “Improved network coverage is achieved via repetitions, which are used to enhance coverage.” [3.]
Note 2. NB-IoT can also be implemented in “standalone” for deployments in dedicated spectrum.
Note 3. From an IEEE published paper titled: Enhancing Coverage in Narrow Band-IoT Using Machine Learning:
NB-IoT needs only a small portion of the existing available cellular spectrum to operate without interfering with it. Hence, NB-IoT provides more reliability and more quality of service (QoS) as it operates in regulated spectrum. Moreover, NB-IoT uses existing cellular network infrastructure, which reduces the deployment costs.
However, since repeating transmission data and control signals has been selected as a major solution to enhance coverage of NB-IoT systems, this leads to reducing the system throughput and thereby a spectral efficiency loss.
Here’s a comparison chart showing: 2G, licensed spectrum NB-IoT vs unlicensed band Sigfox and LoRa (WAN):
Chart courtesy of T-Mobile USA
Balaji highlighted several Massive IoT applications that could effectively use NB-IoT for connectivity. Those include: asset tracking, smart metering, smart lighting, equipment monitoring, smart packaging, and intelligent waste management.
In addition to the $5 NB-IoT modules now available Balaji revealed T-Mo has a $5/year NB-IoT service plan.
T-Mo hosted the U.S.’ first NB-IoT Hackathon to develop IoT applications that would leverage NB-IoT as a viable wireless network. Sensing the presene of forest fires was an example he provided.
T-Mo partnered with Twillio to get NB-IoT to market. They created a new development kit that allowed Hackathon participants to access the NB-IoT network. [4.]
Note 4. More than 100 new and seasoned developers descended on T-Mobile HQ to help shape the future of NB-IoT at the Hackathon. 20 creative and unique IoT concepts for prospective IoT solutions emerged that could leverage the low cost and power efficiency of NB-IoT and its reliability over long distances.
U.S. Carrier Comparison for NB-IoT Deployments:
T-Mobile launched its NB-IoT network last July. AT&T’s NB-IoT network went live two weeks ago. Sprint said it is testing NB-IoT technology, but it plans to merge with T-Mobile in the not-too-distant future so may not roll out its own NB-IoT offering.
NB-IoT Chipset Forecast:
Research & Markets predicts the NB-IoT chipset market is expected to grow from USD 272 million in 2019 to USD 2,002 million by 2024 at a CAGR of 49.1%.
Verizon announced yesterday that its NB-IoT network is now available coast-to-coast covering more than 92% of the U.S. population. NB-IoT focuses on applications needing data rates below 100K bits/sec which makes it ideal for solutions that aren’t designed to be always mobile such as alarm panels, environmental sensors, industrial appliances, factory equipment and parking meters.
NB-IoT is specifically designed for IoT applications that could benefit from access to lower cost chipsets, superior coverage and significantly prolonged battery life. The NB-IoT Network provides the ability to manage both IP and non-IP data traffic. This ability to handle non-IP data traffic allows for the creation of much simpler and more cost-effective IoT devices which are ideal for solutions that aren’t designed to be always mobile such as alarm panels, environmental sensors, industrial appliances, factory equipment and parking meters.
Other viable use cases for NB-IoT include:
- Smart cities – improve citizen experience and municipal operations through parking sensors, waste management and smart lighting.
- Smart buildings – enhance building safety and incident response times through connected smoke detectors including regular auto-test, battery check and real-time alerts to the relevant parties in case of fire.
- Industrial – improved machinery maintenance cycles and factory safety through machinery control such as equipment status, factory control, and process and safety monitoring.
- Environment monitoring – increase focus on environmental responsibility through status reporting of manhole covers, fire hydrants and chemical emission levels.
- Agricultural – improve efficiency in the agricultural industry with livestock tracker, connected greenhouse, stationary tracking and monitoring of air quality, humidity, moisture, temperature, and weather conditions of air and soil.
- Asset Tracking – improve efficiency and decrease costs by using pallet tracking and geo-fencing.
- Utilities – improve efficiency and decrease waste by using gas and water metering, including smart meter consumption tracking and pipeline monitoring.
Verizon has partnered with chipset and module manufacturers for its NB-IoT network. The carrier said three module makers – Telit, SIM-COM and Quectel, are in the final stages of testing modules, and will be available for use in IoT development on the new network.
NB-IoT adds another connection option for businesses:
Verizon maintains a strong leadership position in IoT technology and solutions with a history of providing customers with many options to meet their needs including nationwide deployment of 4G LTE, LTE Cat 1, and LTE Cat M1 networks. While CAT-M1 targets a wide range of applications for business customers such as wearables, fleet and asset management, NB-IoT focuses on applications needing data rates below 100 kbps. NB-IoT technology occupies a dedicated frequency of 180 kHz bandwidth designated for IoT applications which does not share spectrum resources with commercial smartphone traffic.
“We have engineered our NB-IoT network in the Guard Band of our spectrum. By using the more complex Guard Band solution for our Narrow Band IoT Network, we are demonstrating very efficient use of spectrum assets while giving customers the breadth of options they need to best meet their needs. This strategic use of spectrum is one of the many variables that has resulted in Verizon’s continued performance superiority and strong capital management over the years,” said Bill Stone, Vice President of Technology Development and Planning at Verizon.
During his IoT World Tuesday keynote speech, Shamik Basu, Director of IoT Products at Verizon, said that massive IoT sensor networks could be deployed today using Verizon’s NB-IoT or LTE-M networks. “They make critical infrastructure intelligent….NB-IoT and LTE-M will co-exist in some networks (i.e. the IoT device module supports both as does the wireless base station). You don’t need gateways to deploy massive sensor networks today.”
Verizon is ready to support developers and manage commercial traffic:
Verizon continues to expand its already robust ecosystem of partners to help develop, bring to market, connect and manage IoT solutions. Verizon has partnered with leading chipset and module manufacturers so that IoT makers can immediately start working towards building their devices for the Verizon NB-IoT network. Three module manufacturers in final stages of testing – Telit, SIM-COM and Quectel – have modules on Verizon’s Network which are ready to be used in development efforts. Additionally, customers will be able to manage their connections securely using the integrated ThingSpace platform that supports connectivity management, location and device security.
Verizon has announced an initial NB-IoT Standard Price Plan, offering 50 KB of data with a $1.00 monthly access fee per device. The data allowance can be shared with other NB-IoT devices on the same price plan and on the same account.
Verizon at IoT World 2019, Santa Clara, CA: Booth 510
Verizon’s NB IoT demo, permits conference attendees to experience Verizon’s NB IoT network in action.
At Verizon’s 5G for enterprise demo, conference attendees will explore the possibilities that will result from the ultra-low latency and massively scalable characteristics of the Verizon’s 5G technology.
Mixed reality developer Arvizio will be on hand demonstrating their MR Studio mixed reality platform for XR experiences on Microsoft HoloLens. Arvizio has converged Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT platform and augmented/mixed reality technologies to transform how businesses connect and use the data flow from IoT devices.
At the ThingSpace Ready demo, conference attendees will learn about ThingSpace Ready, Verizon’s IoT Accelerator program, which enables easier IoT onboarding with Verizon. We curated partnerships with design houses, system integrators, module/modem providers, and SIM manufacturers, so OEMs (device makers) get easy access to the hardware and solutions needed to create the next generation of IoT devices, all with upfront and transparent pricing.
At the ThingSpace Manage demo, conference attendees will learn how Verizon’s ThingSpace Manage platform will enable customers to provision, monitor, diagnose and control their IoT devices using connectivity APIs, as well as value-added microservices. The exhibit will demonstrate key capabilities on the ThingSpace Manage Portal such as device activation, network diagnostics, and coarse location. A demonstration of SIM-secure will also showcase how Verizon can help protect devices if the SIM are removed.
At the Critical Asset Sensor demo, conference attendees will experience how Verizon made it simple for customers using public clouds to get the data they need to drive their businesses. Critical Asset Sensor is an Edge to Enterprise solution with 7 sensors, GPS, LTE-M connectivity, and the ThingSpace platform with APIs to consume data into Amazon Web Services or any other cloud platform that drives your business.
Deploying IoT Massive Sensor Networks:
In his IoT World keynote, Mr. Basu suggested that companies deploying IoT massive sensor networks match the technology to their needs. Those needs might include: long battery life (10+ years), long range (network) coverage, ubiquitous, low improvement cost, security, reliability/availability, and longevity. Putting a NB-IoT interface in a sensor module facilitates data collection in real time which can then be tabulated and analyzed at the edge or in the cloud.
Shamik recommended Verizon’s ThingSpace to manage a rich suite of services for IoT. Companies can then monetize their IoT solutions and use public clouds, like Amazon Web Services (AWS). By pre-integrating software on development kits pre-approved by Verizon and Amazon, developers have all the key building blocks to create an IoT solution out of the box. AWS’s reliability and scalability make it an ideal foundation for your solution.
The ThingSpace Cloud Connectors program allows you to build a powerful IoT solution by combining your AWS solution, the Verizon network and ThingSpace device lifecycle management tools.
In summary, NB-IoT combined with Verizon’s ThingSpace IoT accelerator/ management platform, new pricing and rich ecosystem of partners who have modules ready for development, enterprise customers have the ability to bring unique NB-IoT solutions to market quickly.
Editor’s Note: Caveat Emptor!
A demo or test is NOT equivalent to performance in a production network!
Telstra and Swedish telecom equipment and managed services vendor Ericsson have set a new record for NB-IoT range. Ericsson’s breakthrough distance extends the 3GPP NB-IoT spec based limit from around 40km out to 100km. Ericsson says the increased distance was obtained without any changes to physical NB-IoT hardware (only a software upgrade was required).
Emilio Romeo, Ericsson’s MD of Australia and New Zealand, says:
“This game-changing capability builds on Ericsson’s long history of delivering extended range cellular solutions. We’re partnering with Telstra to deliver its customers a world-leading capability in NB-IoT extended range cells and demonstrating the huge opportunity that IoT represents in rural and regional areas for both Australia and globally, particularly for logistics and agriculture.”
The upgrade builds upon Telstra’s existing leadership in Australia in NB-IoT as the only provider in the country, and one of the first globally, to offer both NB-IoT and LTE Cat M1 technologies. LTE Cat M1 was launched by Telstra last year and covered approximately three million square kilometres. This was followed by the launch of NB-IoT in January 2018.
With this latest innovation, Telstra’s NB-IoT network covers around three and a half million square kilometres; providing enhanced accessibility and reliability.
Channa Seneviratne, Telstra’s Executive Director of Network Engineering, comments:
“Telstra already had Australia’s largest IoT coverage with LTE Cat M1 across our 4G metro, regional and rural coverage footprint. With this NB-IoT extended range feature, we have now extended our coverage to more than three and a half million square kilometres, delivering our customers the best IoT coverage and capability in the country.
Once again Telstra, working closely in partnership with Ericsson, has delivered innovation that ensures the benefits of IoT technology can be enjoyed by the largest number of Australians, not just those in the cities and towns.”
Telstra and Ericsson first demonstrated the extended range NB-IoT network capabilities during the Telstra Vantage Conference held at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre on September 19-20, 2018.
“Whether it’s leakage prevention with smart water meters or environmental monitoring to keep our oceans clean and estuaries safe from contaminants, water utilities across the country are using IoT technology to better track, monitor, and conserve water,” the company said during the conference.
A Captis NB-IoT temperature sensor was used for the demo, located 94km from the Telstra base station on Mount Cenn Cruaich in New South Wales, Australia.
The performance of the network in reaching difficult areas was demonstrated with a sensor placed three floors below ground level in an underground parking lot in central Sydney that was beyond the reach of regular LTE signals.
Telstra and Ericsson have set a new record for NB-IoT range with nothing more than software upgrades according to the companies.
In July, Ericsson, Telstra and Intel made the first end to end 5G non-standalone 3GPP data call over a commercial mobile network. That data call, completed at Telstra’s 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast of Australia, was the first of its kind made over the 3.5GHz spectrum.
Despite skepticism from industry analysts and some recent prodding by the FCC, Dish Network Corp. is steadfastly confident that it can meet its service and buildout commitments for the wireless spectrum it owns. On it’s second quarter earings call (see excerpts below), Dish stressed that it’s “on track” to complete the first phase of a 5G-capable network, initially supporting Narrow Band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) services, by March 2020.
Author’s Note: Of course, NB-IoT is a 3GPP spec and is not part of true standardized 5G (ITU-R IMT 2020).
CEO Charlie Ergen on Dish’s 2Q-2018 earnings call earlier this week:
When we first started talking about it, I think there was a high degree of skepticism that an IoT network — that narrowband IoT network was the business. And of course since that time, you’ve seen Verizon, and AT&T, and T-Mobile now has a national plan all around the world Vodafone, companies in China very far ahead in IoT. So think it’s now recognized that narrowband IoT is in fact a major contributor in the world moving forward.
So we have a track record of being innovative, disruptive and it may be on the — maybe being on the very, very leading edge of where technologies go and we have another opportunity to do that in 5G…. I think that the FCC is maybe just like many people in this call and many investors and that there is some skepticism on DISH’s ability to execute that plan it’s a big project. And I think as the months go by, as people see the progress that we made, you turn that into people coming to the realization that we can in fact — we face same skepticism when we were going to launch satellites and compete against with — compete against incumbents and major corporations. And we never done that before, it was a big project for us. But with a dedicated team of people focused on the right direction we’re confident that we’ll be able to do that.
But the big paradigm shift in 5G, not the market in 5G that you’re going to hear about , but the real paradigm shift in 5G is Release 16 from 3GPP, which for standalone network is December of 2019, that’s when the specification comes out. It allows you to do three things that you can’t do in 5G today; it allows massive broadband; it allows massive IoT connectivity; and it allows the network to have low latency, so very, very low latencies.
Editor’s Note: That is absolutely correct- it’s 3GPP release 16, along with parts of release 15, that will be submitted to ITU-R WP 5D for consideration as an IMt 2020 RIT.
We also are in a position with clean sheet of paper to do one — two more things really; one is to virtualize the network in a day and virtualize every aspect of our network, not just portions of it; and to slice our network so that it looks like separate networks to potential partners and customers. So it’s a huge, huge paradigm shift in terms of being 100% 5G with Release 19. So that release comes out at December 19, which means that people have to go build product for that. So product becomes available sometime later in 2020.
The second thing that happens is that our uplink spectrum. Let’s take 600 megahertz as an example that is not cleared by the broadcasters fully cleared until July of 2020. So we can’t build a modern network. The state-of-the-art we can’t start building that until 2020. And we’re hampered today just as a sideline, we’re very hampered today in building network because our uplink spectrum — we only have 5 megahertz of uplink spectrum. You can’t build a massive broadband network with 5 megahertz of uplink spectrum. So we have a lot of downlink spectrum, but we don’t have corresponding uplink. So we’ve got to get that cleared. And it’s not — it’s the 600 megahertz, it’s still the DE issues that are outstanding, all those things need to get cleared up for us to be able to do it. But everything comes together in 2020 for us to build a modern network.
The competitors will start building hybrid networks, but they’re not going to get to a full 5G platform without ripping out what they already have. And they have hundreds of millions of customers with phones. So the phone customer is not going to see that much difference in latency. So that some of the things that we’re going to do aren’t going to be that attractive from a cost to benefit ratio to the incumbents. But if we want to lead in 5G, we want to lead in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, autonomous vehicles,, smart cities, you’re going to need a more modern network for that and we’ll play big part in that.
Dish expects NB-IoT deployments to start “in earnest” this fall, Tom Cullen, Dish’s EVP of corporate development said. He pointed out that this part of the buildout is already funded by cash on the company’s balance sheet.
As I mentioned on the last call, we’ve made a lot of good progress and it’s the number one priority here at DISH and we’ve got a dedicated team working on it day-in and day-out. And we’ll start seeing radios in the next in the coming weeks and the deployment will start in earnest later this fall and that as we’ve mentioned before, it can be funded off of cash on the balance sheet.
On the number of NB-IoT cell sites/towers, Ergen said:
We’re not, at this point, disclosing the number of towers. As you know — as you’re doing RF planning and deployment that’s a pretty fluid environment and the number of towers is changing as we make progress going down the road. So I can’t address that specifically other than, as I said earlier, we feel like we’re making good progress and we’ll have pretty meaningful insight I think in the next four to six months.
I think you can assume that we would have materially less towers in phase one than phase two as you get into some of 5G applications that once the Release 19 is that you’ll need a denser network for sure. We have disclosed that we expect to spend between $500 and $1 billion on wireless through 2020. So they give you’re a range where we think it is no matter how many towers it is, we’re probably going to be in that range. And we’re working with a third party for RF design in terms of how many towers. And then obviously once we get it to test, we could verify that the specifications that the RF design and the vendors have said to us, is accurate. And so we’re — the answer is we don’t surely know, but we do know it’s materially less towers than perhaps the incumbents have today on a nationwide basis just because the range is clearly farther to the spec.
Cullen on 3GPP NB-IoT coverage:
I would only say that the 3GPP standard spec) today is about 35 kilometer coverage. But the 3GPP is currently entertaining, changing the NB-IoT standard (spec) to 120 kilometers of coverage and some of the vendors we’re working with are able to provide 100 km. Now you can’t do that in every area, obviously, because of clutter and urban density and so forth. But that — because of that level of propagation, it reduces the number of towers necessary to provide the required terrestrial signal coverage as dictated by the license.
Ergen refuted persistent suggestions that Dish should just sell its spectrum, holding that Dish is committed to the network buildout because 5G is critical to the company’s future.
I don’t think you’ve heard me talking much about selling spectrum even, question number one. And then analysts have talked about that but I think that we see such an opportunity for 5G in terms of what that does realizes is our network is going to be different as a standalone network, it’s a little bit different. And we think the customer we might go after might be quite a bit different than the incumbents. And we see that as the long-term future of how this company is relevant 30 years from now. And so that’s a tough transition and tough on investors to be patient while it goes through that. But that has been our focus and has always been our focus.
We originally want to be built an LTE 4G network. We just — the rules on H-block got changed where we suddenly lost some of our — from interference perspective and we had to change course and then we had to go downlink this is all things that took place we had to wait for the next paradigm shift. And that’s — the good news is the 5G paradigm shift is much bigger than the LTE paradigm shift.
How much capital will be needed for the 5G build-out? Here’s what Ergen said:
There is no question that we need to raise capital for the build-out. But realize we’re two-thirds of the way there — more than two-thirds of the way there in terms of capital for total 5G network. So run the math on that and it’s something like dollar megahertz per pop with a totally standalone 5G network, right. The number of people that might be attractive to is very long. What way you might structure partnerships and the ability for capital are many, many, many, many options to how you might do that.
There isn’t an industry in the next decade that doesn’t need what we’re going to build; and tens of billions of dollars is going to autonomous vehicles, but they’re going to need a piece of what we have; tens of billions of dollars goes to healthcare, they need a piece of what we have; tens of billions of dollars goes in utilities, they need a piece of what we have; tens of billions dollars is going into artificial intelligence, they need a piece of what we have; tens of billions of dollars are going in virtual reality, autoimmune reality and need a piece of what we have; tens of billions dollars is going into smart cities, they need a piece of what we have.
How long will NB-IoT build out take and what comes next?
It takes three years to build this first phase (NB-IoT). But the first phase leads to the second phase, which I think everybody is going to be pretty thrilled about, including the FCCs and investors and consumers. The first phase is going to be important but it’s not going to be as massive as we all would like. But for our license that’s not required and there is practical reasons why we can’t make it more massive today.
1. AT&T buys AlienVault:
AT&T has announced plans to acquire cybersecurity company AlienVault. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Founded in 2007, AlienVault offers a number of tools for detecting and responding to security threats through its Unified Security Management (USM) platform, while its Open Threat Exchange (OTX) platform serves as an online community where security professionals and researchers can share their latest findings and threat data.
2. AT&T to offer NB-IoT:
AT& already offers cellular LPWAN services (LTE Category 1 and LTE Category M1) for its IoT customers who want to connect devices, assets and equipment to the cloud. Now, AT&T says NB-IoT opens up new use cases for IoT. However, the company did not reveal pricing for its NB-IoT data plan(s).
“We already are using LTE-M, and based on a lot of customer feedback we felt that we needed complementary services for other use cases, such as in a fixed asset tracking environment with very low bandwidth uses,” said Shiraz Hasan, VP, IoT solutions at AT&T. “The motivation is cost savings primarily, and the other thing is the ability to utilize the tech a little better because it penetrates even better than LTE-M.”
Shiraz said AT&T has a lot of customers in the security and alarm industries, and that many of these companies are evaluating IoT technology and learning that NB-IoT may serve their needs best. Alarms and locks are often located deep within buildings, so using cellular connectivity to monitor equipment health requires radio transmissions that can penetrate thick walls.
AT&T says it will launch a narrowband internet of things network across the US and Mexico in 2019. “Adding NB-IoT to our portfolio will expand our LPWA capabilities, help drive investment in our evolution to 5G, and support our customers as they deploy IoT solutions across the US and Mexico,” said Chris Penrose, AT&T’s president of IoT Solutions.
“Adding NB-IoT to our portfolio will expand our LPWA capabilities, help drive investment in our evolution to 5G, and support our customers as they deploy IoT solutions across the US and Mexico.”
“It really spans every industry out there, connected cars is one of our biggest verticals where we’re adding over a million cars every quarter; we’ve got tons going on in healthcare, agriculture, retail, manufacturing, and asset tracking,” Penrose told ZDNet.
“You name it, we’ve got different solutions out there, and I think we’ve really established ourselves as a true global player; that’s one of the things we also like to say, we can make it happen for you anywhere in the world.”
According to Penrose, AT&T sees smart cities as being a big area, with traction happening in four to five areas: Energy, such as smart lighting; water, including leak detection, smart irrigation, and water quality maintenance; transportation, for instance parking and optimising traffic flow; and smart infrastructure, including roads and bridges.
“We’ve got solutions in all of those different areas, where we’re able to bring to the cities these kind of solutions that they can deploy into their cities to be able to address those particular areas,” he said.
As a result, AT&T created a series of spotlight cities across Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Portland,, Montgomery County, Mexico City, and various college campus environments wherein it allowed the cities themselves to choose what they wanted to solve, and then worked with them to meet those needs.
Verizon will initiate its NG-PON2 deployments in Tampa, FL, with Calix network equipment. The telco is expected to use the technology for higher-speed enterprise broadband, small-cell and fixed wireless backhaul. “We’re looking at this platform to cover residential, business and wireless carriers,” said Verizon’s Vincent O’Byrne.
Verizon and other carriers are expected to use NG-PON2 to support higher-speed business services, as well as backhaul for small cell networks. In Verizon’s case, the technology also will be used to provide backhaul for fixed wireless, according to O’Byrne.
“As we go forward, we’re looking at this platform to cover residential, business and wireless carriers,” said O’Byrne. NG-PON2 will be the access portion of Verizon’s vision for the “intelligent edge” network, which also will comprise unified transport and core network changes, he said. “NG-PON2 is the part that hits customers,” he added.
Although the Tampa, FL NG-PON2 deployment will use equipment from Calix, Verizon continues to test a second supplier in the lab, O’Byrne said.
The NG-PON2 equipment that service providers initially will deploy will support four wavelengths, but providers can turn up just a single wavelength to start or can add an additional four wavelengths in the future, O’Byrne said.
Each wavelength can support 10 Gbps in each direction, supporting speeds of up to 8.5 Gbps for customer traffic. NG-PON2 standards specify a bonding option that would enable a service provider to combine multiple wavelengths together to support a single higher-speed connection, he explained.
Verizon has been testing NG-PON2 in the laboratory for several years. The Tampa customer trials, which will run for about three months, will make sure the carrier has the IT systems in place to support the offering, O’Byrne noted. A key function that will be examined is the ability to move services between wavelengths — a capability that will provide added protection from the consumer perspective and will enable Verizon to load balance. O’Byrne noted that during light traffic periods, Verizon might reduce the amount of power used by shifting customers to a single wavelength and turning off some line cards.
“You would have to be within Verizon to see the amount of positivity that is there that is similar to when we started to launch FiOS,” said O’Byrne, in an interview with Light Reading.
“We have a lot of big initiatives. These are exciting times. We do see ourselves on a positive cusp or tide of deploying new technologies and making a lot of changes to the network.” Vincent O’Byrne in an earlier video interview with Broadband World News. Vincent O’Byrne in an earlier video interview with Broadband World News. Those changes fit into what Verizon calls its Intelligent Network Edge strategy, designed to simplify and reduce costs across its network by eliminating the need for three separate network infrastructures and also speed its ability to deliver higher-speed services and bring fiber backhaul to the growing set of antennas that 5G deployment will require. Verizon had named two vendors for NG-PON 2 — ADTRAN Inc. and Calix.
It’s now moving forward initially with Calix because that vendor “was, from a timeline perspective, ahead and ready to go out and we have a need to get this deployment out there,” O’Byrne said.
Calix CEO and President Carl Russo shares O’Byrne’s excitement about what this move might mean for the bigger market. He credits Verizon with being willing and able to move quickly in adopting not just a new PON technology but a new overall approach to access networks. “When someone like Verizon, who is known for technical leadership and engineering orientation starts to deploy, it’s kind of like firing off the starting gun to the market saying, ‘Okay guys, this technology is go,’ ” he says in an interview.
“That doesn’t mean everybody rushes to it, it means you now have that legitimacy, that this is a production choice [operators] can make, as opposed to, ‘I’m not quite sure it’s ready.’ Now the market begins.”
Russo was impressed with the speed at which Verizon is working and the Agile processes it is using. “It has been an interesting partner approach because they have functioned as an Agile partner, it has been quite enjoyable,” he says. “It’s been hard, too, but they have engaged in a way that a lot of large customers find difficult to engage. There is a lot more exciting stuff coming, this market is real and it is going to get realer.” Verizon isn’t saying where it will initially deploy NG-PON 2 in Tampa because that will be a marketing decision, O’Byrne says, and will be driven by customer demand. Because NG-PON 2 can use the same physical fiber infrastructure that is already in use by GPON, Verizon will choose to deploy where customers need more than 1 Gbit/s service, he says. Because it’s newer, NG-PON 2 technology costs more than GPON, but those costs are offset by savings in many areas, as part of the transition to an intelligent edge and software-defined access.
For example, the AXOS E9-2 Intelligent Edge System combines subscriber management, aggregation and optical line terminal (OLT) functions into a single box, which offers both power and space savings and significant operational efficiencies, including greater automation, O’Byrne says. The net result is speeds up to 40 Gbit/s throughput and tunable optics for essentially the same cost. “The ability to move all three service sets into one box saves us an inordinate amount of money from processing, and just the ability to increase the speed at which we can provision systems reduces our OSS complexities that we would have,” O’Byrne says.
“That is why this overall intelligent edge network, we kind of see it as a big emphasis within the company.”
The Verizon executive says the company is continuing to work in the labs with Adtran. He calls it “standard practice” to work with two vendors, and move forward first with one and then the other. Thanks to the interoperability trial work that Verizon has already done, producing the Verizon OMCI specification — which is being incorporated into the ITU-T G.988 standard — Calix and Adtran gear will have common interfaces, he says. (See Verizon Proves NG-PON2 Interoperability). For Calix, however, this does represent market validation of its five-year journey to become a software platform company, Russo said.
“This helps people understand just how much that transformation has been completed,” he says. “AXOS being deployed at this level should make it clear what is going on with us, as a platform software company.” When Verizon was doing OSS work on FiOS we were working with the group in Tampa to make it operational. They were doing all the development there. That is consistent with your post Carol. The real question is this part of the rollout of 5G or is it a residential play. My guess is the former. Verizon was quiet open about the services to be offered when FiOS rolled out.
According to a Verizon spokesman, the company still has facilities in Tampa, and that is where they are doing the production testing of the systems and the various technology elements involved in the Intelligent Edge Network, including NGPON2. As Vincent O’Byrne says in the story, the company hasn’t publicly announced what services it will be offering as that is a marketing choice. The spokesman says that “over time we expect to support residential, business and wireless use cases. Once the testing is completed, I expect we’d have more to announce in terms of details.”
While the backhaul connection to the central office for GPON is 2.5 Gbps, that number rises to as much as 80 Gbps for NG-PON2, explained Calix CEO Carl Russo in a separate interview. But “that’s actually not the big thing” about NG-PON2, according to Russo. The big thing, he said, is “all the wavelengths and what they can do for you.”
The way Calix thinks about NG-PON2, he said, is that “it delivers the physical layer we’ve been in pursuit of for 10 years.”
The “efficiency of a shared PON,” he said, includes “the ability of a wavelength to run in a non-shared fashion – you can basically have a point-to-point connection.”
NG-PON2, he said, could be thought of as “the physical layer for unified access.”
Calix had to make some modifications to its existing NG-PON2 equipment to meet Verizon’s needs for its converged access network, Russo noted. A key requirement was the ability to switch wavelengths on the fly in less than 25 milliseconds.
“That is a very challenging target to hit,” Russo said.
According to Russo, Verizon also will use Calix’s AXOS software-based management system to support “always on” operation. Modifications can be made to the network without taking the network out of service, Russo said.
Russo expects to see carriers deploying both GPON and NG-PON2 for years to come. The technology that may get squeezed is XGS-PON – an alternative approach to boosting FTTP speeds and capacity that adds only a single wavelength to existing PON infrastructure and which some people viewed as an intermediate technology until NG-PON2 was available, he said.