Brussels based BICS [1.] today announced the successful conclusion of one of the first 5G Standalone (SA) roaming trials in the world, taking place within the BICS 5G Lab. The new innovation platform enabled data sessions and outbound roaming of test subscribers from Proximus to BICS’ test network environment. The 5G SA Lab’s successful results confirm a network operator’s readiness for an accelerated 5G roll-out.
Note 1. BICS is a leading international communications enabler, one of the key global voice carriers and the leading provider of mobile data services worldwide.
The BICS 5G Lab was announced earlier this year, and provides a test environment for operators and enterprises to test their readiness for next-gen services deployment of 5G Standalone, independently of the 4G core network. It follows BICS’ previous initiatives in promotion of 5G adoption, including the recent addition of borderless 5G connectivity to its SIM for Things solution earlier this year.
The trial successfully enabled a 5G data session for outbound roamers and demonstrated roaming interoperability between two 5G network providers – a critical element for the communications ecosystem to be able to meet the international needs of roaming devices and end users. It also established connectivity between the visited and home network via secured gateways (SEPP), hosted on BICS’ IPX network.
Mikaël Schachne, VP Mobility and IoT, BICS says: “BICS is perfectly positioned at the heart of the communications system to facilitate 5G Standalone readiness, ensuring operators and enterprises are fully prepared for roll-out. The insights BICS provides, harnessed from our unparalleled expertise in carrying over half the world’s data roaming traffic, can help businesses to accelerate their 5G strategies and provide first-class offerings to their customers.”
Geert Standaert, Chief Technology Officer, Proximus says: “5G represents a revolution of mobile communications and will accelerate the advent of the Internet of Things. The conclusion of this trial marks a major advancement in Proximus’ 5G Standalone rollout, which will bring unprecedented advantages to both end users and businesses.”
The scope for 5G SA use cases is expanding exponentially, from smart transport to industry 4.0 and beyond, with the pandemic having accelerated the demand for wireless technologies. As the world’s travel industries and businesses begin to re-open, operators and enterprises are set to experience a sharp increase in demand for international roaming across their 5G networks. This trial is a milestone in BICS’ commitment to enabling the international readiness for 5G adoption necessary to meet and capitalize on this growth opportunity.
Orange has said it is also ready to work with early 5G SA adopters on trials and proofs of concept for 5G roaming. In the absence of any standards or implementation specs, there are many different implementations of 5G SA core network and no standard for 5G SA roaming.
All network operators must sign new 5G bilateral roaming agreements and establish interconnections with peers. This can be bilateral, but, like today, the complicated management and rollout of roaming agreements will be simplified using IPX and roaming hub providers. Signaling interworking will require a SEPP, which ensures end-to-end confidentiality and integrity between source and destination networks. All signaling traffic across operator networks will transit via these security proxies. Authentication between operators’ SEPP is required to prevent unauthorized communication between networks. Operators will benefit from connecting to a 5G-compliant IPX hub as it offers adapted levels of security from all the other operators connected to the hub.
India’s telecom department has set the stage for another mega spectrum sale by sending a reference to the sector regulator, seeking fresh base prices for the gamut of airwave bands, including key frequencies like 700 MHz, 3.3-3.6 GHz and the coveted millimeter waves such as 26 GHz and 28 GHz that support 5G technology (but have not been agreed upon in revision 6 of ITU-R M.1036 Frequency Arrangements for Terrestrial IMT).
India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has also sought fresh base prices for 4G airwave bands such as 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 2300 MHz, two people aware of the matter said. But with the time usually taken for the consultation process, sources say it may be tough to meet government’s auction timeline of January-February, 2022.
The reference comes at a time when the government has acknowledged that high spectrum pricing is a prime reason behind the acute financial stress in the debt-laden telecom industry, and is also open to price rationalization in public interest.
In its reference, the department has sought recommendations from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on the terms of reference for the next auction and the quantum of airwaves proposed to be auctioned, one of the persons cited told ET.
“We have received a detailed reference from DoT about 2-3 days back, seeking our recommendations on spectrum matters and pricing…there are a number of spectrum bands involved, and the Authority is currently examining the reference and will respond to the government,” Trai secretary V Raghunandan told ET. He, though, declined to share details.
Sector analysts expect the potential annual cash flow relief stemming from the four-year moratorium allowed on statutory payouts to give Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio the financial headroom to participate aggressively in the next spectrum auction. They, though, don’t expect Vodafone Idea (Vi) to participate as strongly if it’s unable to close its much delayed Rs 25,000-crore fundraise.
Another official said that Trai will need to seek additional details from the DoT, before proceeding with its analysis and starting the consultation process.
After a DoT reference, Trai conducts a process which includes a four-week period for stakeholders to submit their views after a consultation paper is floated, followed by two weeks for counter comments. Then Trai holds open-house discussions before arriving at its recommendations. The whole process usually takes about four-five to months at least.
On March 1, India concluded its first spectrum auction of 2021. India’s Department of Telecom (DoT), through a Notice Inviting Applications (NIA) issued in January 2021, had put up spectrum for auction in multiple bands, including 700, 800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2300 and 2500 MHz bands. These frequencies cut across 2G, 3G and 4G service bands and included both FDD (paired) and TDD (unpaired) bands.
The auction was a qualified success. It netted the Government $10.6 billion and was almost double initial estimates. However, barely 37% of the total spectrum put up for auction had takers, while the 700 MHz band saw no bids at all.
The main takeaway from this auction is that the focus of India’s telcos is currently on 4G, not 5G. With several licenses coming up for renewal, it was imperative that telcos bid on expiring spectrum to renew but also to consolidate with new holdings. The biggest bidders were Reliance Jio ($7.8 billion), Bharti Airtel ($2.55 billion), followed by VodafoneIDEA a distant third with bids worth $272 million.
There was heavier than expected bidding in the 800 MHz band as well as the 2300 MHz band. All of the three operators bidding have taken different approaches to this auction. The common theme for both Jio and Airtel’s auction strategies was to shore up existing spectrum, acquire new frequencies to consolidate holdings per circle and boost capacity, and lay the groundwork for an eventual 5G network launch.
For its part, Vodafone IDEA (VIL) has taken a very frugal, optimization strategy to spectrum. Their public position has been that they have abundant spectrum and therefore are not hard-pressed to bid aggressively. This is true, with VIL holding ample spectrum, but there is no doubt that they would have had very limited means due to a stressed balance sheet.
IBM and Airspan Networks are launching a 5G-enabled Open RAN testbed across the IBM Watson IoT Center in Munich, Germany and IBM’s Global Industry Solution Center (GISC) in Nice, France. The facility will showcase long-distance control using 5G-enabled edge computing. The goal of developing this testbed is to help clients across Europe innovate and develop multi-vendor solutions designed to address different customer use case requirements, based on open, interoperable standards, while optimizing performance. IBM Global Business Services and Airspan plan to work together to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and its ecosystem incorporating IBM’s leading global hybrid cloud and AI orchestration services. IBM Global Business Services, a leading systems integrator in the telco industry, is focused on processes, methodologies, and edge experience to deliver value and transformational projects with emerging technologies.
Marisa Viveros, VP of Strategy and Offerings, Telecom, Media and Entertainment Industry at IBM, said: “Open approaches and standards-based technologies are vital to help unleash the full potential of 5G and edge computing. That’s why, in collaboration with Airspan, we hope to work to advance emerging use cases that harness Open RAN and bring new value to telecom clients. The planned expansion of the Open RAN testbed will allow us to demonstrate these capabilities as we accelerate 5G and edge computing innovation.”
The main goal of the new testbed is to help the European telecoms industry accelerate the development of multi-vendor solutions to address specific customer needs.
“Through critical collaboration with leaders like IBM and testing in these labs, which could help accelerate the development of Open RAN and 5G solutions and the open architecture ecosystem, we believe Airspan can continue to be at the forefront of innovation and industry disruption through end-to-end Open RAN solutions,” commented Airspan Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Henrik Smith-Petersen.
Airspan will contribute its Open RAN AirVelocity 2700 indoor radio unit and virtualized Open RAN Centralized Unit (vCU) and Distributed Unit (vDU) OpenRANGE software as part of the collaboration.
IBM, for its part, will provide its Global Business Services technology integration services, Cloud Pak for Network Automation, and Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps, to help customers to more efficiently manage and orchestrate their edge cloud implementations and applications.
This year, IBM announced the Open RAN Center of Excellence in Spain to accelerate the progress of Open RAN and standards-based technologies in Europe. In May 2021, Airspan announced the opening of a 5G Innovation Lab in the UK as a showcase and demonstration facility for partners, customers and government institutions, to focus on the development of Open RAN software, 5G sub 6 GHz and mmWave indoor and outdoor equipment, and private network use cases.
IBM Global Business Services and Airspan are working toward definitive agreements detailing joint plans to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and its ecosystem incorporating IBM’s leading global hybrid cloud and AI orchestration services. Statements regarding IBM’s future direction and intent are subject to change or withdrawal without notice and represent goals and objectives only.
Earlier this year, Airspan also announced plans to open a 5G Innovation Lab at its offices in Slough, UK. The lab will feature a full end-to-end 5G Open RAN solution and will be used to advance the development of the technology in addition to acting as a showcase and demonstration facility for partners, customers, and government institutions.
The UK has increased its support for Open RAN development following its decision to ban Huawei from national networks, a previously major vendor.
“We’re investing £450 million to explore how 5G can boost the economy while also building confidence and competition in this revolutionary technology,” said Matt Warman, UK Minister for Digital Infrastructure.
“Airspan’s new lab of telecoms innovators will develop cutting-edge 5G networks and help create jobs and a more secure and diverse UK telecoms supply chain.”
Equinix, Inc., the world’s digital infrastructure company™ [1.], today announced it has deployed a first-of-its-kind, fully functional 5G and Edge Technology Development Center which includes a fully operational, 5G NSA (non-standalone) network from Nokia to test and validate various 5G services and use cases. Equinix is investing in helping service providers and network operators bring innovative concepts to market by providing an agile production framework for assessing, incubating and testing 5G and edge solutions for end-to-end secure applications.
Note 1. Equinix’s business is Internet connection and data centers. The company is the leader in global colocation data center market share, with 229 data centers in 27 countries on five continents. The data center industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. According to Gartner, end-user spending on data center infrastructure for 2020 was $188 billion, a 10.3% decrease from 2019’s spending.
The 5G and Edge Technology Development Center—located at the Equinix DA11 International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data center in Dallas—brings together select ecosystem participants to develop end-to-end edge solutions by providing a production-ready interconnection sandbox environment from the radio network to the cloud. Mobile network operators (MNOs), cloud platforms, technology vendors and enterprises come together at Equinix to test, demonstrate and accelerate complex 5G and edge scenarios—key activities that will make 5G deployments available to enterprises in the future. Equinix Fabric™ directly, securely and dynamically connects distributed infrastructure and digital ecosystems on Platform Equinix®. Customers can establish data center-to-data center network connections on demand between any two Equinix Fabric locations within a metro or globally via software-defined interconnection.
“As we look to a future where 5G is ubiquitous, the way that IP traffic moves between networks around the world will change completely, and interconnected data centers will play a crucial role in this new 5G-dominated future,” said Sean Hemphill, VP Webscale Business at Nokia. “Equinix’s approach to digital infrastructure enables access to a large ecosystem of end users and service providers. Nokia IP solutions underpin Equinix Fabric, providing seamless interconnection between its global data centers. We’re pleased that Equinix Fabric will bring the power of interconnection to help customers test real-world 5G and edge deployments.”
The Dallas-based 5G and Edge Technology Development Center will initially focus on the following use cases:
- Mobile Hybrid Multicloud Connectivity: Assessing strategies for ensuring that 5G user traffic can reach multiple clouds and hybrid edge computing resources, effectively and efficiently.
- Network Slicing: Aiming to facilitate private wireless enterprise networks supporting secure, predictable, end-to-end quality of experience.
- Distributed Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: Investigating the optimization of AI/ML applications and infrastructure distributed across the edge, directly connected to 5G, and interconnected to clouds for enabling data-dense capabilities, such as scene and video analytics.
- Enablement and Orchestration of Infrastructure: Exploring optimal deployment strategies for 5G RAN, fronthaul, core and edge computing infrastructure and functions management across domains.
- Augmented and Virtual Reality: Validating a uniform experience, consistent quality and anywhere usage with high mobility and high motion.
- Gaming: Demonstrating responsive hosted-gaming, low-latency peripherals leveraging the metro edge for delivery.
Equinix is actively standing up novel 5G use cases. The first use case is Secure Edge from Exium, which enables highly secure, seamless multi-access edge compute functionality with tightly integrated security and network functions from the cloud, to edge locations, to the devices themselves. With Exium deployed at Equinix data centers, customers get close to on-prem performance with the benefits of cloud aggregation and also manage enterprise-grade traffic breakout in real time.
“Applications and artificial intelligence are moving to the edge, whether we’re ready or not,” said Farooq Muzaffar, COO, Exium. “As enterprises embrace digital transformation, automation and intelligence at the edge, it’s crucial to have a partner like Equinix. The 5G and Edge Technology Development Center has been an incredible resource for us and our customers as we incubate, develop and deploy secure edge AI services with 5G access.”
The Equinix 2020-21 Global Tech Trends Survey—which surveyed 2,600 IT decision makers—uncovered a crucial need for infrastructure technology exploration in this area. While most respondents agreed that the biggest impact of 5G is the ability it gives businesses to take advantage of new technologies, more than a third worried about the need to re-architect infrastructure to take advantage of 5G capabilities.
“As companies develop new 5G technologies and services, they need a real-world environment to test and bring their concepts to life,” said Justin Dustzadeh, CTO, Equinix. “With Equinix’s rich ecosystem of service providers, partners and clouds, the 5G and Edge Technology Development Center is an ideal place to fully test their concepts in a real way, enabling them to bring new capabilities to market, accelerate adoption and deliver new revenue streams faster.”
Jim Poole, VP Business Development, Equinix added, “We’re excited to invite private enterprises, commercial organizations and researchers across industries to Dallas to test, validate and accelerate complex 5G deployments and interoperability scenarios.”
Equinix Fabric, an automated interconnection service, connects customers to more than 10,000 clouds, networks, and third-party platforms. Customers can connect a pair of Equinix Fabric locations within a metro or globally via software-defined interconnection.
The continued testing and validation phase for 5G edge computing among various vendors and operators underscores the relatively nascent nature of the technology. Equinix CEO Charles Meyers earlier this year shared muted enthusiasm for edge computing.
“I think it’s going to play out over a longer period of time than people currently anticipate,” Meyers said at the Citi 2021 Global TMT West Conference.
The expanded effort with Nokia also follows Equinix’s edge strategy, which Meyers described at the time as a largely partner-driven approach wherein other companies provide “far edge real estate” that will require and benefit from interconnection and access back into Equinix’s services.
- Equinix 5G and Edge Tech Development Center Drives Innovation [blog]
- 5G is changing the game – right now. Is your infrastructure ready? [whitepaper]
- Learn more about Equinix Fabric™ [website]
- Equinix 2020-21 Global Tech Trends Survey [ebook]
- Equinix Expands Dallas Infomart Campus with New $142M Data Center and 5G Proof of Concept Center [press release]
Equinix (Nasdaq: EQIX) is the world’s digital infrastructure company, enabling digital leaders to harness a trusted platform to bring together and interconnect the foundational infrastructure that powers their success. Equinix enables today’s businesses to access all the right places, partners, and possibilities they need to accelerate advantage. With Equinix, they can scale with agility, speed the launch of digital services, deliver world-class experiences, and multiply their value.
Telecommunications networks funded and built by China are taking over Africa’s cyberspace, a dependence that analysts suggest puts Beijing in a position to exert political influence in some of the continent’s countries.
Bulelani Jili, a doctoral candidate at Harvard University’s Department of African and African American Studies, said that “Huawei is working and partnering with many governments across the continent, and it is those governments that are using quality technology to undermine democratic values.”
Huawei, the world’s leading seller of 5G network equipment is seen by the U.S. and other countries as a pawn of the Chinese government, which could use the company for spying, an accusation Huawei denies, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a think tank in Washington, reported in May that worldwide, “the majority of [Huawei’s] deals (57%) are in countries that are middle-income and partly free or not free.”
The CSIS report added that Huawei’s cloud infrastructure and e-government services are handling sensitive data, services that “could provide Chinese authorities with intelligence and even coercive leverage.”
The “intelligence and even coercive leverage” language stems from China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law, which stipulated that any organization and Chinese citizen should “support, assist and cooperate with the state intelligence work.” The law does not limit these activities to China.
Goals and needs
The African Union has set the goal of connecting every individual, business and government on the continent by 2030, an expansion that is supported by the World Bank Group.
Africa needs 1,000 megawatts (MW) of new facility capacity or about 700 new data center facilities to meet growing demand in the continent, according to the Africa Data Centers Association.
The scale of need for data centers to meet population growth “is astoundingly significant,” Guy Zibi, principal analyst at Xalam Analytics, who is tracking the African data center boom, told the website DataCenterKnowledge.
On June 22nd, the West African nation of Senegal opened a national data center just outside Dakar, the capital. Financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, the center was built with equipment and technical backing from Huawei. Senegal’s status declined from free to partly free in the Freedom in the World 2020 report from Freedom House.
In July 2020, Cameroon completed a government data center on the outskirts of Yaounde, the capital. It was funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, built by the Beijing-controlled China Shenyang International Economic & Technical Cooperation Corporation and equipped with Huawei gear. Freedom House in 2020 rated Cameroon as not free.
In April 2019, Kenya and Huawei signed a deal for a data center, a smart city and surveillance project, according to DataCenterDynamics. The site also reported Huawei was working with the government of Zambia on a $75 million data center. Freedom House rated Kenya as partly free in 2020.
Huawei’s e-government services include elections, document digitization, national ID systems and tax services, according to the CSIS report.
While the digitization of government records may allow greater surveillance, it can also mean more effective tax collection and less corruption, according to a March 2021 post on a tech site of the Brookings Institution a Washington think tank.
“As the continent recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, its leaders face a choice between harnessing emerging technology to improve government effectiveness, increase transparency and foster inclusion, or as a tool of repression, division and conflict,” said the TechStream post.
Over the past two decades, Huawei has built about 50% of Africa’s 3G networks and 70% of its 4G networks, according to the report.
The expansion began in 1999, when China launched its Go Out policy, which pushed Chinese companies to invest abroad and strengthen China’s global business presence.
By 2018, China had expanded to at least 40 African nations, according to Africa Times.
Cobus van Staden, a senior China-Africa researcher at the Johannesburg-based think tank South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), outlined why Chinese firms succeed in Africa.
“First is that the continent has very high demand for digital connectivity, at all levels, from network building to consumer handset sales,” he told VOA in an email.
Second, Chinese companies have easy access to large banks closely tied to Beijing. This, according to van Staden, means Chinese companies have the funding to roll out infrastructure quickly in a variety of environments.
Iginio Gagliardone, an associate professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has done extensive research on the rise of China’s presence in Africa and is the author of China, Africa and the Future of the Internet.
He said that the relationship Chinese companies have with state-affiliated banks means the companies can lower their prices and maintain a competitive advantage over other bidders.
“The Export-Import Bank [of China] has been able to offer large loans, as part of deals with African governments, with the condition that these loans will be used to deploy technology using a Chinese company,” he said in a phone interview with VOA Mandarin.
Chinese state banks provide such generous financing to Huawei’s customers that most commercial banks cannot match the terms, “making Huawei equipment cheaper to deploy at any price,” according to a 2020 report by the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank.
A third factor, according to van Staden, is that there has been relatively little attention paid to Africa as an emerging tech market. “There aren’t many credible competitors to Chinese companies on the scene,” he added.
Because Chinese enterprises are known players in Africa’s telecommunications infrastructure, countries transitioning to 5G often remain with the companies they know, according to analysts.
“Although the Trump administration’s policies successfully curbed Chinese expansion in Western countries, they did not address the growing presence of Chinese technology infrastructure on the African continent,” according to the Atlantic Council’s report. “In African markets, a lack of local champions and infrastructure financing and construction capacity constraints have created a dependence on Chinese-financed projects.”
Van Staden said that the dependence raises the question of possible political influence.
“Research has shown that Chinese companies are responsive to local regulations and governance. In both authoritarian and democratic countries, Chinese contractors have tended to follow local laws and to provide the systems these governments wanted, be these open and inclusive, or centrally controlled,” he said.
“There isn’t proof that China is ‘exporting’ its own domestic system or pressuring countries to emulate it,” he continued. “The issue is less that China is using data networks to influence local politics, and more that its position as a network provider is just one aspect of a much broader trade and investment presence. China’s role as a major trade, financing and development partner to many African countries naturally makes these countries less willing to cross any of Beijing’s ‘red lines.’ ”
Speaking at an Oppenheimer investor conference, Verizon’s CFO Matt Ellis said the telco is very optimistic about its fixed wireless business (that despite its FTTH leadership position with FiOS):
Yes, I’m very excited about it (fixed wireless). I think it continues to be a very significant opportunity for us as we think about the next few years ahead of us. We’ve talked about how great the LTE network is and it’s been obviously a very, very huge part of our success. But when you bring the bandwidth that comes in 5G, it really opens up the opportunity, not just do mobility wirelessly but also to do home broadband wirelessly as well. So as I think about fixed wireless in kind of 3 different buckets, the first is our millimeter-wave bucket and our 5G home internet. That’s now in almost 50 markets across the country, continuing to expand the number of open for sale as we build out the millimeter-wave network. The second piece that’s in market today is our 4G Home, which we launched late last year. It’s now available in over 200 markets in every — in parts of all 50 states. So we recently doubled the amount of the size of the footprint that our 4G Home is available. And then it comes back to my comment on to the previous questions around monetizing the network that we’ve built and where we have the capacity in addition to our Mobility customers to offer the LTE Home product. We’re doing that. We’re seeing good take rates on that. Customers are seeing great performance on it.
And then last month, we upgraded the hardware, you think the router that customers get. So it doesn’t just support LTE Home, it’s also got C-band in it. So as soon as we turn the C-band network on, that customer can upgrade to 5G Home on C-band without having to change out hardware. So we’re excited that we’re starting to populate the base of LTE Home customers with customers that already have a C-band-ready device and C-band being the third one of the levers here within fixed wireless access. So excited about the opportunity that will kick in when we turn C-band on later this year. But fixed wireless access gives us the opportunity to monetize the network in a way that we haven’t previously been able to, where we can offer not just mobility solutions for our consumers but also home broadband and also for businesses as well. We talk about fixed — LTE Home, but we also have the similar product in 5G Home for business as well. You think 5G office the same way. So it gives us the opportunity to take that network that you built out mobility and yet monetize it with another use case. We’re just scratching the surface here, and I think the next few years are going to be very exciting for us on fixed wireless access.
Ellis also commented about the $1T U.S. infrastructure bill that passed the Senate today (August 10th). He said it takes a technology-neutral approach to broadband funding which would allow Verizon to deploy a mix of fiber and fixed wireless access.
I think one of the important things in the way that the bill has been crafted at this point in time is that it doesn’t favor any particular technology. It’s more based off of outcomes. And so there’s areas where it could make sense to build more broadband. There’s areas where it makes sense to provide a better experience to customers through building out fixed wireless faster than otherwise may happen. So we think it’s a good approach that’s in the bill today. Obviously, it’s got to get all the way through the legislative process. But certainly, the requirement that we continue to build out high-quality broadband throughout the country is something that the bill is focused on, is something that we’re very supportive of. And now we’re looking at geography by geography, where do we think it would make the most sense to either deploy fiber or to deploy fixed wireless as a solution to bring that to the faster broadband to consumers and businesses.
Asked how C-band and mmWave deployments are performing versus your expectations, Matt replied:
For mmWave, we’ve been deploying it for a couple of years now. And we set a target this year to do another 14,000 sites. We’re ahead of pace on that already and that’s by design. We wanted to be ahead of pace in the first half of the year on millimeter-wave, so that when the C-band started picking up in the second half of the year, we had the capacity to do that as well. But the millimeter wave equipment is up and running, has been for a couple of years and is working very well.
On the C-band side, we said we’d have 7,000 to 8,000 sites up by the end of the year or when we launch in December, the expected launch date. But the vast majority of those radios, we already have in our warehouses. The rest of them, purchase orders are out there for the vast majority that we haven’t already received. So I know there’s been a fair amount of concern about the supply chain, just given what we’re seeing not just in our sector but across all sectors with chipsets. I can tell you that in terms of building out the radios for the C-band, those are in good shape.
And we’ve started to test those and we’ve got the first few sites up. Obviously, we can’t turn those on yet because we don’t have the licenses approved from the FCC until we get to the clearing date. But with the early testing we’ve been doing, we’re seeing the equipment perform as we would expect it to, which really isn’t a surprise. This is one of the things that made C-band such an attractive spectrum for us because it’s a global 5G band. And so our partners at Samsung and Nokia and Ericsson aren’t just building C-band equipment for the U.S. market. And so they’ve got the scale there to really have high-performing equipment available. So the supply chain ecosystem is bringing the radio equipment to market as we expected it to.
Noting that some competing telcos (especially AT&T) are looking to take advantage of cloud-based technologies to lower network costs, operating costs, the Oppenheimer moderator asked if Verizon was looking at doing the same? “Or what are you doing on that front?”
Absolutely, we’ve been deploying cloud technologies for the last few years now, both within the network and also within the core operations of the business. It brings significant efficiencies in the right place. We went through an interesting transition from cloud from the standpoint of initially being skeptical about it. Kind of how comfortable am I moving these applications and so on into the cloud?
Then you get comfortable with it and you say, okay, we’re going to move everything. And then if you look at it further, you think about there are some things that some should move and there’s some things that shouldn’t.
And so the team has done a really good job over the past few years of identifying where it makes sense for things to move (to the cloud), and we’ve got that underway. Some things have transitioned already. Other things are still in the process of transitioning.
And then there are some pieces where we don’t think it makes sense, because of the scale we have and so on, and there are certain pieces like the network core [1.], for example, is something that we have our own cloud product that we’re deploying there that we think that’s part of what makes Verizon.
So it’s an application-by-application analysis. That analysis is largely done. Where it makes sense to do to transition to public cloud, we have. Where it doesn’t, we won’t. But it really comes down to finding the most efficient and effective ways of running all parts of the business.
Note 1. Cloud Native 5G Core Network:
The 3GPP System architecture for the 5G System (5GS); Stage 2 [3GPP TS 23.501] specifies a Service Based Architecture (SBA), where the control plane functionality and common data repositories of a 5G network are delivered by way of a set of interconnected Network Functions (NFs), each with authorization to access each other’s services. “Network functions within the 5GC Control Plane shall only use service-based interfaces for their interactions.”
The latest 3GPP TS 23.501 V17.1.1 spec is dated June 24, 2021, so its a work in progress for 3GPP Release 17 (not yet approved).
Although the 5G Core (5GC) implementation is the choice of the network operator, in practice, the expectation is that 5GC will be deployed on software-defined infrastructure which implies a “cloud-native” deployment. In broad terms, this means 5GC implementations that use microservices, containers, centralized orchestration, CI/CD, open APIs, service meshes, and more such new cloud software jargon.
Network Functions are self-contained, independent and reusable. Each Network Function service exposes its functionality through a Service Based Interface (SBI), which employs a well-defined REST interface using HTTP/2.
ETSI (3GPP’s host and secretariat) is transposing their 5G specifications which then become ETSI standards. There is no equivalent work being done in ITU-T.
France’s spectrum agency ANFR [1.] has released a study (in French) of radio frequency (RF) exposure measurements collected in the immediate vicinity of 1,000 town halls across France during 2020. ANFR was requested by the Ministry of Ecological Transition (MTE) to renew the project to measure public exposure to electromagnetic waves over more than 1,000 town hall places. This campaign ran from March to December 2020 using the national monitoring of public exposure.
Note 1. AFNR:
AFNR, France’s National frequency agency, is a public administrative establishment that was created by the French 26 July 1996 telecommunications regulation Act giving it the mission of managing the French radio spectrum
The establishment was born through the merger of two main missions:
1. Inter-ministerial spectrum management, at the time within the remit of the Telecommunications Coordination committee and the Post and Telecommunications senior management;
2. The management and control of independent radio networks previously within the remit of the French National Radiocommunications Department
All the results are available at www.cartoradio.fr. This project of measurements follows on from the previous ones which were held in 2014 and 2017 in the same town hall squares. The cities were chosen during the first study for their representativeness of the French population. The objective of those studies was to provide an indicator of average radiation exposure at national level. The objective of this study is to present the exposure levels obtained in 2020 and to analyze their evolution since 2014.
The results of the current campaign are directly comparable with those collected in the same 1,000 locations in 2014 and in 2017, in order to analyze the evolution of radiation over time. The latest report shows a small increase in the average RF measurement compared to the previous campaign (0.54 V/m from 0.46 V/m in 2017). This follows the slight uplift reported between 2014 and 2017 (from 0.38 V/m to 0.46 V/m).
Commenting on mobile-related radiation, the agency said that exposure linked to LTE had increased marginally, while exposure linked to 2G/3G had remained broadly stable. The study was carried out before the launch of 5G in France.
The study was released alongside two other publications, summarizing the results from other measurements carried out by ANFR teams in France. Overall, these teams collected 4,700 data points in 2020 as part of their ongoing monitoring work on radiation exposure.
Earlier this month, the agency released the findings from a recent project focused on the 26 GHz millimeter-wave (mmWave) band, collecting measurements during the 5G pilot carried out by Orange and railway company SNCF at the train station in the city of Rennes. The study found that the exposure values were significantly lower than the regulatory limit of 61 V/m set for the 26 GHz band. They ranged from 0.4 V/m to 3.2 V/m depending on the conditions of the tests, which included both realistic and extreme scenarios.
The agency has also recently published the results of nearly 300 measurements collected near Linky smart meters last year, detecting values well below the regulatory limit.
Preliminary estimates from Dell’Oro Group suggests the overall telecom equipment market – Broadband Access, Microwave & Optical Transport, Mobile Core & Radio Access Network, SP Router & Switch – started the year on a high note, advancing 15% year-over-year (Y/Y) in the 1st quarter of 2021, reflecting positive activity in multiple segments and regions, lighter comparisons, and a weaker US Dollar (USD).
The analysis contained in these reports suggests the collective global share of the leading suppliers remained relatively stable between 2020 and 1Q2021, with the top seven vendors comprising around ~80% of the total market. Not surprisingly, Huawei maintained its leading position. However, the gap between Nokia and Ericsson, which was around 5 percentage points back in 2015, continued to shrink and was essentially eliminated in the quarter. In addition, Samsung passed Ciena in the quarter to become the #6 supplier.
Excluding North America, we estimate Huawei’s revenue share was about 36% in the quarter, nearly the same as the combined share of Nokia, Ericsson, and ZTE.
Additional key takeaways from the 1Q2021 reporting period include:
- Following three consecutive years of growth between 2018 and 2020, preliminary readings suggest the positive momentum that characterized the overall telco market in much of 2020 extended into the first quarter, underpinned by double-digit growth on a Y/Y basis in both wireless and wireline technologies including Broadband Access, Microwave Transport, Mobile Core Network, RAN, and SP Router & Switch.
- In addition to easier comparisons due to poor market conditions in 1Q20 as a result of supply chain disruptions impacting some segments, positive developments in the North America and Asia Pacific regions, both of which recorded growth in excess of 15% Y/Y during the first quarter, helped to explain the output acceleration in the first quarter.
- Aggregate gains in the North America region were driven by double-digit expansion in Broadband Access, RAN, and SP Routers & Switch.
- The results in the quarter surprised on the upside by about 2%, underpinned by stronger than expected activity in multiple technology domains including Broadband Access, Microwave Transport, RAN, and SP Routers & Switch.
- The shift from 4G to 5G continued to accelerate at a torrid pace, impacting not just RAN investments but is also spurring operators to upgrade their core and transport networks.
- At a high level, the suppliers did not report any material impact from the ongoing supply chain shortages in the first quarter. At the same time, multiple vendors did indicate that the visibility going into the second half is more limited.
- Overall, the Dell’Oro analyst team is adjusting the aggregate forecast upward and now project the total telecom equipment market to advance 5% to 10% in 2021, up from 3% to 5% with the previous forecast.
- Cisco was the top-ranked vendor for market share, followed by Huawei, Nokia, and Juniper.
- The SP Router and Switch market is forecasted to grow at a mid-single-digit rate in 2021.
- The adoption of 400 Gbps technologies is expected to drive double-digit growth for the SP Core Router market in 2021.
SiFi Networks is a privately owned, U.S. based company that builds and operates competitive fiber networks which service providers use to deliver first class service to their customers; internet, TV, phone and more. The company was founded in 2013 and operates using a wholesale model focused on getting carriers onboard as tenants. It is now offering 10 Gb/sec fiber access networks to U.S. operators, hoping to entice them to adopt a more European infrastructure model and sign on as tenants to its wholesale fiber network rather than building out the last mile themselves.
SiFi Networks is delivering open access fiber networks right across the US called FiberCities®, called so because fiber passes every single home and business in the city and Smart City access points are put in place as standard, developing a future proofed city for generations to come.
The company is a big advocate of dig once and only once, therefore removing costs and disruption that could be associated with future connectivity, and by operating the network independently of any end service provision it removes the requirement for others to go to the expense and disruption of building separate networks.
Earlier this month, the city of Salem, MA, signed a contract attracting over $35 million of private investment to create a citywide, fully fiber-based broadband network. The project will be privately funded by SiFi Networks, with no taxpayer subsidy. With projects like this, the company hopes to transform the U.S. broadband model by operating citywide networks that can be used by multiple service providers, mobile carriers and even the municipality itself.
SiFi president Scott Bradshaw told Fierce Telecom that SiFi has build commitments in place covering 13 cities across seven states. This will eventually yield a projected footprint of “well over” 40 million feet of fiber covering more than half a million homes and businesses, he said.
CEO Ben Bawtree-Jobson added it expects to announce several additional projects in the coming months. The CEO noted its open access network model is fairly revolutionary in the U.S. “It’s very much commonplace in other countries, in particular in Europe, but in the U.S. having last mile infrastructure that’s independently operated, that isn’t under the control of the service provider is a new model,” Bawtree-Jobson said.
Jeff Heynen, VP of broadband access and home networking at analyst firm Dell’Oro Group, explained in an email to Fierce this is primarily due to the “the legislative influence of the big telco and cable operators.” He said major incumbents like Verizon and AT&T “were able to successfully lobby legislators that they should own their networks and equipment because they bear the heavy cost of the initial deployment.” In states like North Carolina, these players even convinced lawmakers to “block the roll out of municipal fiber networks because they were argued to be unnecessary.”
While a handful of open fiber networks have sprung up in cities across the country, Heynen said, “The influence of the big carriers on legislation (local, state, and national) has limited their advance over the years.”
Bawtree-Jobson noted reactions to its offer have varied, with smaller ISPs “happy to get onto networks, share infrastructure and gain access to customers” without having to spend massive amounts in capex and opex. Incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) are a tougher nut to crack, he said.
Bolstering its pitch, though, is SiFi’s plan to roll out 10 Gbps capabilities from day one. Bawtree-Jobson said the idea is to be “ahead of the game in terms of philosophy, thinking, concept. Ahead of the game in terms of network architecture. Ahead of the game in terms of network capability and speed as well.”
SiFi is planning to use micro-trenching for its fiber rollouts, which is expected to help accelerate its deployments. Bawtree-Jobson said depending on the size of the project, its city deployments are expected to take anywhere from two to five years to complete.
Worldwide semiconductor revenue grew to $464 billion in 2020, an increase of 10.8% compared to 2019, according to the Semiconductor Applications Forecaster (SAF) from International Data Corporation (IDC). IDC forecasts the semiconductor market will reach $522 billion in 2021, a 12.5% year-over-year growth rate. IDC anticipates continued robust growth in consumer, computing, 5G, and automotive semiconductors.
Supply constraints will continue through 2021. While shortages initially occurred in automotive semiconductors, the impact is being felt across the board in semiconductors manufactured at older technology nodes. Much like a traffic jam and the ripple effect, a disruption on the semiconductor supply chain operating close to capacity will impact across the supply chain. The industry will continue to struggle to rebalance across different industry segments, while investment in capacity now will improve the industry’s resiliency in a few years. Looking forward to 2021, IDC sees continued strong growth in semiconductor sales worldwide as adoption of cloud technologies and demand for data and services remain unchanged. Global fiscal and monetary policy remain accommodative and will provide a tailwind for continued capital investments in long term infrastructure.
The market for semiconductors in Computing systems, such as PCs and servers, outpaced the overall semiconductor market, growing 17.3% year over year to $160 billion in 2020. “Demand for PC processors remains strong, especially in value-oriented segments,” said Shane Rau, research vice president, Computing Semiconductors. “The PC processors market looks strong through the first half and likely the whole year.” IDC forecasts Computing systems revenues will grow 7.7% to $173 billion in 2021.
Growth in Mobile Phone semiconductors was resilient in 2020. “Mobile phone shipments fell by more than ten percent in 2020, but mobile phone semiconductor revenues grew by 9.1% due to a shift to higher priced 5G semiconductors, more memory per phone, sensors, and RF support for more spectrum bands,” said Phil Solis, research director for Connectivity and Smartphone Semiconductors.
“2021 will be an especially important year for semiconductor vendors as 5G phones capture 34% of all mobile phone shipments while semiconductors for 5G phones will capture nearly two thirds of the revenue in the segment.” IDC forecasts mobile phone semiconductor revenues will grow by 23.3% in 2021 to $147 billion.
The Consumer semiconductor market segment rebounded in 2020. Robust sales of game consoles, tablets, wireless headphones and earbuds, smart watches, and OTT streaming media devices fueled segment growth by 7.7% year over year to $60 billion. “Apple, AMD, and Intel showed exceptional growth as consumers upgraded their digital spaces at home,” said Rudy Torrijos, research manager, Consumer Semiconductors. “New gaming consoles from Microsoft and Sony, continued strong sales of wearables from Apple, and the rise in smart home networks managed by Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant will accelerate growth in 2021 to 8.9% year over year.”
“Automotive sales recovered in the second half of 2020, but the supply constraints for the automotive semiconductor market for some products will last through 2021 as fires and fab shutdowns further impacted the automotive semiconductor market and it takes time for chips to move through the automotive ecosystem, specifically in the U.S. and Europe,” said Nina Turner, research manager, Automotive Semiconductors. For 2021, IDC forecasts that automotive semiconductor revenue will grow 13.6%.
“Overall, the semiconductor industry remains on track to deliver another strong year of growth as the super cycle that began at the end of 2019 strengthens this year,” said Mario Morales, program vice president, Semiconductors at IDC. “The markets remain narrowly focused on shortages across specific sectors of the supply chain, but what is more important to emphasize is how critical semiconductors are to every major system category and content growth that remains unabated.”
The IDC Worldwide Semiconductor Applications Forecaster (SAF) database serves as the basis for IDC’s semiconductor supply-side research, including our market forecasts and custom market models. This database contains revenue data collected from over 150 of the top semiconductor companies for 2015-2020 and forecasts for 2021-2025. Revenue for over twenty semiconductor device areas, five geographic regions, seven industry segments, and more than 65 end-device applications are included in the database and pivot tables.
For more information about the SAF, please contact Nina Turner at email@example.com
Separately, IC Insights believes that Samsung will again replace Intel as the leading semiconductor producer beginning in the second quarter of this year.
Intel was the world’s top semiconductor manufacturer from 1993 through 2016. However, after nearly a quarter of a century, the semiconductor industry saw a new number-one supplier beginning in 2017 when the memory market surged and Samsung displaced Intel. This unseating marked a milestone achievement not only for Samsung, but also for all other competing semiconductor producers who had tried for years to supplant Intel as the world’s largest supplier, according to IC Insights.
Samsung held the leading semiconductor supplier spot for six quarters before the memory market collapsed in late 2018 and Intel once again became the leading IC supplier in the fourth quarter of 2018, IC Insights indicated. The memory market plunge was so steep in late 2018 and early 2019 that Samsung went from having 17% more revenue than Intel in third-quarter 2018 to having 18% less sales than Intel just two quarters later. Intel endured its own sales slump in the first quarter of 2019, although it was nowhere near the decline exhibited by the memory producers.
With the DRAM market on the rise and the NAND flash market forecast to gain momentum in the second half of the year, it appears likely that Samsung will once again position itself at the number-one semiconductor supplier for the full year 2021, IC Insights said.