UScellular adds NetCloud from Cradlepoint to its 5G private network offerings; Buyout coming soon?

UScellular has added NetCloud Private Networks from Cradlepoint (part of Ericsson) to expand its portfolio of private cellular solutions. The company now offers Ericsson Private 5G and Ericsson’s Mission Critical Networks to its customers. By building on these capabilities, UScellular is able to support even more customers across varying areas of business.

Some existing private cellular network ecosystems are pulled together piece by piece from different providers, which requires additional training and agreements. This makes it difficult for enterprise IT teams to have seamless visibility across the entire network. NetCloud Private Networks is an end-to-end private cellular network solution that removes these complexities to simplify building and operating 5G private networks.

“With the addition of NetCloud Private Networks to our portfolio, we can better address business challenges for customers of all sizes to connect business, industry and mission critical applications,” said Kim Kerr, senior vice president, enterprise sales and operations for UScellular. “The agility, flexibility and scalability of NetCloud Private Networks helps improve coverage, security, mobility, and reliability for applications where Wi-Fi may not be enough.”

NetCloud Private Networks supports enterprises who need more scalable, reliable and secure connectivity than they are getting today with traditional Wi-Fi solutions. There is significant opportunity in warehouses, logistics facilities, outdoor storage yards, manufacturing and retail operations environments to provide more connectivity. This will alleviate manual work, improve safety, and provide increased visibility.

“UScellular is a leader in this space by showing how a public carrier enhances the value of private network solutions,” said Manish Tiwari, head of private cellular networks, Cradlepoint and Ericsson Enterprise Wireless Networks.

“By adding NetCloud Private Networks to their portfolio of Ericsson private networks solutions, UScellular unlocks new opportunities for organizations to have local network coverage and address their reliability and security challenges. With solutions available to cater to both OT and IT in industrial and business environments, their customers have a choice in adopting the right private network solution for their use-cases with secure, policy-based wireless connectivity at scale.”

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Separately,  The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that T-Mobile is seeking to buy $2 billion worth of UScellular and take over some operations and wireless spectrum licenses. A deal could be announced this month, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, Verizon is considering a deal for some of the rest of the company which is 80% owned by Telephone & Data Systems (TDS).   Last year, TDS put the wireless company’s operations up for sale, as it struggled with competition from national wireless telco rivals and cable-broadband providers.

Verizon is the biggest U.S. cellphone carrier by subscribers, while T-Mobile became the second largest soon after it bought rival Sprint. T-Mobile gained more customers this month after it completed its purchase of Mint Mobile, an upstart brand.

The rising value of wireless licenses is a driving force behind the deal. U.S. Cellular’s spectrum portfolio touches 30 states and covers about 51 million people, according to regulatory filings.

U.S. companies have spent more than $100 billion in recent years to secure airwaves to carry high-speed fifth-generation, or 5G, signals and are hunting for more. But the Federal Communications Commission has lacked the legal authority to auction new spectrum for more than a year. The drought has driven up the price of spectrum licenses at companies that already hold them.

The U.S. wireless business has also matured: Carriers have sold a smartphone subscription to most adults and many children, which leaves less room for expansion as the country’s population growth slows. AT&T and Verizon have meanwhile retreated from expensive bets on the media business to focus on their core cellphone and home-internet customers.

A once-crowded field of small, midsize and nationwide cellphone carriers in the U.S.  is now split among Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T, leaving few players left to take over. As one of the last pieces left on the board, U.S. Cellular has long been an attractive takeover target. For many years, the home of the Chicago White Sox has been UScellular field.

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About UScellular:

UScellular offers wireless service to more than four million mostly rural customers across 21 states from Oregon to North Carolina. It also owns more than 4,000 cellular towers that weren’t part of the latest sale talks. The company has a market value of about $3 billion.

UScellular provides a range of solutions from public/private hybrid networks, MVNO models, localized data (aka CUPS) and custom VPN approaches. Private 5G offers unparalleled reliability, security and speed, enabling seamless communication and automation. For more information:

https://business.uscellular.com/products/private-cellular-networks/

References:

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/uscellular-adds-cradlepoint-to-its-private-cellular-network-portfolio-302140782.html

https://www.wsj.com/business/telecom/t-mobile-verizon-in-talks-to-carve-up-u-s-cellular-46d1e5e6

Betacom and UScellular Introduce 1st Private/Public Hybrid 5G Network

Verizon’s 2023 broadband net additions led by FWA at 375K

At the end of 2023, Verizon’s total broadband base was 10.7 million, with fixed wireless access (FWA) customers making up the bulk of quarterly net additions.  For all of 2023, Verizon posted 375,000 net FWA additions, bringing its total fixed wireless subscriber base to over 3 million.

Total broadband net additions were 413,000, compared to 416,000 in Q4 2022. Although Verizon doesn’t post metrics for its DSL customers, overall wireline net adds were 38,000, implying the company lost 17,000 DSL subscribers in the quarter.

In the 4th quarter of 2023, Verizon added 55,000 Fios Internet customers, marking a year-on-year decline of 4,000. Consumer Fios revenue of $2.9 billion increased 1% from Q4 2022, but for the full year was relatively flat at $11.6 billion. Business Fios revenue for the quarter increased 2.6% to $312 million, while jumping 2.8% to $1.2 million for full-year 2023.

CEO Hans Vestberg noted on the earnings call broadband net adds for full-year 2023 totaled more than 1.7 million, “with more than one and a half million from fixed wireless access.” Fios net additions for the year came to 248,000.

Total Broadband:

  • Total broadband net additions of 413,000, represented the fifth consecutive quarter that Verizon reported more than 400,000 broadband net additions. Total broadband net additions included 375,000 fixed wireless net additions, bringing the subscriber base to over 3 million. In fourth-quarter 2023, more than 80 percent of Consumer fixed wireless gross additions were in Verizon’s first 76 C-Band markets. Verizon is ahead of schedule to achieve its goal of 4 to 5 million subscribers by the end of 2025.
  • 55,000 Fios Internet net additions, down 4,000 from the fourth-quarter 2022.
  • 10.7 million total broadband subscribers as of the end of fourth-quarter 2023.

Total Wireless:

  • Total wireless postpaid net additions for full-year 2023 increased 26 percent compared to 2022.
  • Total wireless service revenue of $19.4 billion, a 3.2 percent increase year over year.
  • Retail postpaid phone net additions of 449,000, and retail postpaid net additions of 1,460,000.
  • Retail postpaid churn of 1.18 percent, and retail postpaid phone churn of 0.93 percent.

“After delivering continuous improvement throughout 2023, we ended the year strong and continue to pursue the right balance of growth and profitability,” CEO Hans Vestberg said in the 4th quarter earnings statement.

References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-finishes-2023-strong-cash-flow-and-wireless-customer-growth

https://www.verizon.com/about/investors/quarterly-reports/4q-2023-earnings-conference-call-webcast

Ookla: T-Mobile and Verizon lead in U.S. 5G FWA

Verizon once again delays 5G Standalone (SA) commercial service

Verizon once again delays 5G Standalone (SA) commercial service

Like AT&T, Verizon has promised 5G standalone (SA) core network for a very long time.  The mostly wireless U.S. carrier initially said it would launch standalone 5G in 2020. Some in the industry thought it did so in 2022. But the company said the technology ‘is in testing now’ and is still not available commercially.

“We have it in trials only at this point. We don’t have it commercially available for our customers,” Verizon’s chief networking executive, Joe Russo, said on a podcast last month hosted by Recon Analytics. “So more to come in the next several months as Verizon will be entering the standalone core game.”

“It is absolutely a capability that we think will be another enabler to new use cases. But … the reliability and performance of Verizon’s network is what we stand for, and I don’t put technology out into the network that is a step back. It has to be a step forward. And all of the data that I see – both internal testing and with external testing that happens out there in the market – tells me that SA [standalone] needs a little bit more time.”

“We’re doing significant developing and testing to make sure that both the data session and the voice sessions in a standalone world are as good or better than what you would expect in our 4G network today. So we see that in the next several months we’re going to get there, but it was not my goal to be first in deploying standalone. It’s my goal to be best in deploying standalone.”

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Verizon spokesperson Kevin King clarified that “we have commercial traffic running on our 5G non standalone core. That is what we announced earlier in the year. Joe was referring to our 5G standalone core which is in testing now.”

That cop-out was contradicted by a statement made during a webinar for analysts on September 29th, which was obtained by Light Reading.  “People talk about the standalone core. Just terminology-wise, that’s the 5G core essentially. If you guys have read the stuff we’ve said publicly, certainly we serve some customers on portions of our 5G core,” said Mike Haberman, Verizon’s SVP of strategy and transformation, And then we have some internal stuff going on with other functionality on the core. We’re in the process of rolling out (5G SA) in a very smart fashion.”

“Here’s the deal: When you go to the standalone core, you can’t aggregate your LTE carriers. With the non standalone core I’m aggregating together both 5G and 4G. So when you go standalone you start to bifurcate the spectrum. So that’s the impact to the RAN [radio access network]. So you better be sure that your mobile [customer] distribution, where they are geography, makes sense. Or what will happen is those customers will experience a lower service level. No good. We want to be careful of that. So that’s why, when you do the standalone core, you have to pay very close attention to your radio access network because they are directly attached.”

On April 27th Verizon issued a press release describing the benefits of 5G standalone (SA) technology and how it’s “what sets Verizon apart.” However, the release doesn’t specifically say that Verizon launched the technology.  That despite Verizon last year announced it had begun moving traffic onto its new 5G core, which supports both the non standalone (NSA) and standalone (SA) versions of the technology.

Last year, Mobile World Live reported that Verizon was migrating “commercial traffic onto SA 5G core.” The article cited an unnamed Verizon representative. Mobile World Live also reported that Ericsson, Casa Systems, Oracle and Nokia supply Verizon’s 5G core.

Dell’Oro Group, in January 2023, listed Verizon among the few North American wireless providers that had commercially launched the technology.

“This is a moving target,” Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner told Light Reading. But Entner said Verizon’s position on the standalone version of 5G makes sense. “The benefits you can get today from standalone are limited.”

–>This author totally disagrees with Mr. Entner, because TRUE 5G=5G SA.  IN OTHER WORDS, ALL OF THE 3GPP DEFINED 5G FEATURES REQUIRE 5G SA!  That includes 5G security and network slicing.

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Light Reading’s Mike Dano wrote:

Verizon now appears to be roughly three years behind its initial standalone 5G rollout plans. In the summer of 2020, Verizon said it would begin moving traffic onto its standalone 5G core “in the second half of 2020 with full commercialization in 2021.”

Then, in early 2022, Verizon CTO Kyle Malady suggested that the operator would begin moving some of its fixed wireless access (FWA) traffic onto its standalone 5G core by June of that year. He also said at the time that Verizon would start putting smartphone traffic onto that core in 2023.

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T-Mobile US and Dish Wireless are the only two 5G carriers that have launched commercial 5G SA.   AT&T has made a lot of noise about it’s 5G SA plans but has yet to launch.

AT&T’s chief networking executive, Chris Sambar, wrote in a September 29th blog post that AT&T was moving some customers to standalone 5G. “Many of the newest mobile devices are ready for 5G standalone, and we continue to move thousands of customers every day. We also recently launched AT&T Internet Air home fixed wireless service, and from the start, this product rides on standalone 5G.”

References:

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/verizon-surprises-with-ongoing-delays-in-5g-standalone-rollout

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/5g-standalone-why-it-matters

https://about.att.com/blogs/2023/network-ready.html

AT&T touts 5G advances; will deploy Standalone 5G when “the ecosystem is ready”- when will that be?

Analysys Mason: 40 operational 5G SA networks worldwide; Sub-Sahara Africa dominates new launches

GSA 5G SA Core Network Update Report

5G subscription prices rise in U.S. without killer applications or 5G features (which require a 5G SA core network)

 

Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T brag about C-band 5G coverage and FWA

Verizon says it has approximtely 222 million people covered with its mid-band C-band network, [1.] a figure the company hopes to increase to 250 million by the end of next year. “C-band is a game change for our business,” CEO Hans Vestberg said on the telco’s 3rd quarter earnings call. “Our network is winning.”

Note 1. C-band sits between the two Wi-Fi bands, which are at 2.4GHz and 5GHz. It’s slightly above and very similar to the 2.6GHz band that Clearwire and then Sprint used for 4G starting in 2007, and which T-Mobile currently uses for mid-band 5G. And it adjoins CBRS, a band from 3.55 to 3.7GHz that’s currently being deployed for 4G.  ITU-R divided C-band into three chunks, referred to as band n77, band n78, and band n79.

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Verizon officials said the company is using the capacity in its mid-band 5G network to pursue opportunities like fixed wireless access (FWA) and private wireless networks. “We see demand for the product continuing to grow,” Vestberg said of Verizon’s private wireless network offerings.  He added that Verizon is working to transition its private wireless customers from pilots to commercial deployments. He also said the company is growing its ecosystem of suppliers for that business. 

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T-Mobile announced Tuesday it now covers 300 million people with its 2.5GHz mid-band network, reaching that goal three months earlier than the company had planned.   T-Mobile’s overall 5G footprint has expanded as well, now covering more than 330 million people or 98% of the population.

“We have been leaders in the 5G era from the start, deploying the largest, fastest, most awarded and most advanced 5G network in the country faster than anyone else,” said Ulf Ewaldsson, President of Technology at T-Mobile. “While the other guys are playing catch-up, finally beginning to build out their mid-band 5G networks, we are maintaining our lead and will continue offering customers the best network – paired with the best value – for years to come.”

“T-Mobile’s turnaround story is incredible, going from network underdog a decade ago to the undeniable network leader today,” said Anshel Sag, Principal Analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy. “T-Mobile has not only built out a robust 5G network with unmatched coverage and capacity, but the Un-carrier is also leading the way in rolling out new capabilities that will unlock the true promise of 5G.”

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Last week, AT&T said it ended the third quarter covering 190 million subscribers for its mid-band 5G network, and said it remains on track to cover 200 million by the end of the year. On the telco’s 3-2023 earnings call, CEO John Stankey said, “we continue to enhance the largest wireless network in North America and expand the nation’s most reliable 5G network. It’s no surprise that when you combine our high-value customer growth and rising revenues per user, we continue to grow profits in our wireless business.”

Regarding FWA, Stankey touted the company’s Internet Air offering.  “We have no issues selling Internet Air into the business segment. It’s a really attractive thing for us to do. It’s a really helpful product on a number of different fronts. It meets a particular need.

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References:

https://www.lightreading.com/private-networks/verizon-jumps-too-as-mobility-biz-surprises-in-q3

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20231024150793/en/T-Mobile%E2%80%99s-Ultra-Capacity-5G-Covers-300-Million-People-Months-Ahead-of-Schedule/

https://www.pcmag.com/news/what-is-c-band

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile-core/a-closer-look-at-the-5g-midband-buildouts-of-t-mobile-at-t-and-verizon

https://www.fool.com/earnings/call-transcripts/2023/10/19/att-t-q3-2023-earnings-call-transcript/

https://www.att.com/internet/internet-air/

 

U.S. Network Operators and Equipment Companies Agree: 5G CAPEX slowing more than expected

We noted in a recent IEEE Techblog post that the 5G spending slowdown in the U.S. is broader than many analysts and executives expected.  Well, it’s worse than that! The previously referenced negative comments from the CEO of Crown Castle, were corroborated by American Tower last week:

“The recent pullback was more abrupt than our initial expectations,” said Rod Smith, the CFO for cell tower firm American Tower, during his company’s quarterly conference call last week, according to Seeking Alpha. Smith was discussing the reduction in US operator spending on 5G, a situation that is now cutting $40 million out of American Tower’s margin expectations.  “The initial burst of 5G activity has slowed down,” agreed the financial analysts at Raymond James in a note to investors following the release of American Tower’s earnings.

Cell tower giant SBA Communications said it too is seeing the broad pullback in spending that has affected its cell tower competitors (i.e. American Tower and Crown Castle). But the company’s management sought to reassure investors with promises of continued growth over the long term.  During their earnings call, SBA executives said they expect activity to increase next year as T-Mobile looks to add 3.45GHz and C-band spectrum to its network, and as Dish Network restarts its network buildout.

The two largest 5G network equipment vendors that sell gear in the U.S. are seeing similar CAPEX cutbacks. “We see some recovery in the second half of the year but it will be slower than previously expected,” Nokia CEO Pekka Lundmark said earlier this month during his company’s quarterly conference call, in response to a question about the company’s sales in North America. His comments were transcribed by Seeking Alpha.  Ericsson’s CEO, Borje Ekholm, is experiencing similar trends: “We see the buildout pace being moderated,” he said of the North American market, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript

AT&T’s CFO Pascal Desroches confirmed the #1 U.S. network operator is slowing its network spending. “We expect to move past peak capital investment levels as we exit the year,” he said  during AT&T’s quarterly conference call, as per a Seeking Alpha transcript. AT&T’s overall CAPEX would be $1 billion lower in the second half of 2023 when compared with the first half of this year due to greatly reduced 5G network build-outs.

“This implies full year capex of ~$23.7 billion, which management believes is consistent with their prior full year 2023 capex guidance of ‘~$24 billion, near consistent with 2022 levels’ and includes vendor financing payments,” wrote the financial analysts at Raymond James in their assessment of AT&T’s second quarter results, citing prior AT&T guidance.

“Although management declined to guide its 2024 outlook, it has suggested that it expects capital investments to come down as it progresses past the peak of its 5G investment and deployments. We believe the trends present largely known CY23 [calendar year 2023] headwinds for direct 5G plays CommScope, Ericsson and Nokia. Opportunities from FWA [fixed wireless access] might provide modest offsets and validate Cambium’s business. AT&T’s focus on meeting its FCF [free cash flow] targets challenge all of its exposed suppliers, which also include Ciena, Infinera and Juniper,” the financial services firm added.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg told a Citi investor conference in January that CAPEX would drop to about $17bn in 2024, down from $22bn in 2022″  “We continue to expect 2023 capital spending to be within our guidance of $18.25 billion to $19.25 billion. Our peak capital spend is behind us, and we are now at a business-as-usual run rate for capex, which we expect will continue into 2024,” explained Verizon CFO Tony Skiadas during his company’s quarterly conference call last week, according to Seeking Alpha.

“After years of underperformance, perhaps the best argument for Verizon equity is that expectations are very low. They are coming into a phase where capex will fall now that they’ve largely completed their 5G network augmentation. Higher free cash flow will flatter valuations, but it will also, more importantly, lead to de-levering first, and potentially even to share repurchases down the road,” speculated the analysts at MoffettNathanson in a research note to investors following the release of Verizon’s earnings.

T-Mobile USA had previously said its expansive 5G build-out had achieved a high degree of scale and it would reduce its capex sharply starting in 2023.”We expect capex to taper in Q3 and then further in Q4,” said T-Mobile USA’s CFO Peter Osvaldik during his company’s quarterly conference call last week, according to Seeking Alpha. He said T-Mobile’s capex for 2023 would total just under $10 billion.  T-Mobile hopes to cover around 300 million people with its 2.5GHz midband network by the end of this year. Afterward, it plans to invest in its network only in locations where such investments are necessary.

Similarly, Verizon and AT&T are completing deployments of their midband C-band 5G networks, and will slow spending after doing so.  That’s even though neither telco has deployed a 5G SA core network which involves major expenses to build, operate and maintain.

Dish Network managed to meet a federal deadline to cover 70% of the U.S. population with it’s 5G OpenRAN in June. As a result, the company said it would pause its spending until next year at the earliest.

American Tower was a bit more hopeful that CAPEX would pick up in the future:

  • “Moderation in carrier spend following the recent historic levels of activity we’ve seen in the industry isn’t unexpected and is consistent with past network generation investment cycles,” explained CFO Rod Smith.  
  • “The cycles typically progress as there’s a coverage cycle. It’s what we’ve seen in past cycles, including 3G and 4G. It’s an initial multiyear period of elevated coverage capex, and it’s tied to new G spectrum aimed at upgrading the existing infrastructure,” said American Tower’s CEO Tom Bartlett. “And then later in the cycle, it will fill back into a capacity stage where we’ll start to see more densification going on. So I’m hopeful that our investor base doesn’t get spooked by the fact that this is a pullback. It’s very consistent. The cadence is really spot on with what we’ve seen with other technologies.”

In April, Dell’Oro Group analyst Stefan Pongratz forecast global telecom capex is projected to decline at a 2% to 3% CAGR over the next 3 years, as positive growth in India will not be enough to offset sharp capex cuts in North America.  He also predicted that wireless CAPEX in the North America (NA) region would decline 10% to 20% in 2023 as per this chart:

Now, that NA CAPEX decline seems more like 30% this year!

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References:

https://www.lightreading.com/5g-and-beyond/what-theyre-saying-about-5g-capex-in-2023-and-2024/d/d-id/785862?

U.S. 5G spending slowdown continues; RAN revenues set to decline for years!

USA’s 5G capex bubble will burst this year as three main operators cut back

GSM 5G-Market Snapshot Highlights – July 2023 (includes 5G SA status)

Worldwide Telecom Capex to Decline in 2023, According to Dell’Oro Group

https://www.fiercewireless.com/wireless/wireless-capex-north-america-expected-decline-10-20-2023

Dell’Oro: Telecom Capex Growth to Slow in calendar years 2022-2024

https://www.lightreading.com/5g-and-beyond/sba-acknowledges-5g-slowdown-but-offers-some-hope/d/d-id/785901?

 

 

Verizon Point-To-Multipoint network architecture using mmWave Spectrum

Verizon has unveiled a point-to-multipoint solution to expand high-speed internet access across various locations. According to the press release, a successful proof of concept in Texas  showcased the company’s approach, leveraging its extensive mmWave spectrum holdings and fiber infrastructure.

Verizon stated that its point-to-multipoint architecture is designed to cater to multi-dwelling units (MDUs) such as apartment buildings and townhomes, as well as distributed enterprise campuses and high rises. Intending to serve multiple end-user connections from a single origination location, Verizon said this solution promises reliable, secure, and efficient connectivity.

The company claims this network architecture is less expensive to build, quicker to deploy, and addresses the unique complexities of distributed end users in a single facility or small area such as a residential unit with a large population.

In this proof of concept, an airlink over licensed mmWave spectrum was established between a centralized, rooftop radio site and a radio atop a simulated multi end-point building. The signal was then transmitted via coaxial cable throughout the building to a data processing unit along with a corresponding modem. From there, the building’s existing wiring transported the signal to end user routers that provided broadband coverage throughout simulated distributed end points. Instead of transmitting the data through Verizon’s 4G and 5G wireless cores, this unique architecture uses a simplified Broadband Network Gateway to direct the traffic to and from the internet over Verizon’s public IP network. This means that data traffic will not add load on Verizon’s current wireless cores while at the same time providing excellent capacity and latency.

Source: Research Gate Point-to-multipoint FWA network architecture

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“Verizon has been building the infrastructure and assets for years to make this new design possible,” said Adam Koeppe, Senior Vice President of Technology Planning for Verizon. “Leveraging our significant fiber footprint in over 70 major markets nationwide and large amounts of ready-to-use mmWave spectrum, this new architecture means we will be able to provide point-to-multipoint architecture in a cost effective and efficient way.”

Leveraging Verizon’s current mmWave spectrum and fiber assets means this point-to-multipoint technology could reduce the cost of providing broadband to many locations. Depending on the various designs of buildings, office complexes and campuses, running fiber connections to individual buildings and individual units within buildings requires complex licensing, significant capital investments, long lead times and can be disruptive, making air links and established indoor cabling appealing alternatives for delivering services. Applications for this type of point to multipoint mmWave based technology could include distributed enterprise campuses, commerce areas, home broadband for multi dwelling units or other areas where air links could easily connect donor sites in the Radio Access Network to facilities with their own internal infrastructure.

Verizon is completing RFPs for the specialized radio access equipment for the licensed 37-39 GHz spectrum and expects to continue developing this technology throughout the year.

References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-develops-new-point-multi-point-use-case-mmwave-spectrum

https://www.verizon.com/about/our-company/5g/what-millimeter-wave-technology

Verizon deploys Private 5G at Wichita Smart Factory; 5G Radio’s an Issue?

Executive Summary:

Verizon Business announced that its private 5G wireless network is live at The Smart Factory at Wichita, a new immersive, industry experience centre convened by Deloitte. Verizon collaborates with Deloitte and other companies in the Smart Factory ecosystem to advance smart manufacturing deployment and allow manufacturers to quickly adopt cutting-edge Industry 4.0 solutions and technologies that support new business models that improve quality, productivity, and sustainability.

Verizon, as a builder-level collaborator in The Smart Factory at Wichita ecosystem of 20 leading global companies, intends to use this network of companies to help customers from various industries to innovate their approach to better connectivity and use of data to improve real-time coordination between people and assets. Verizon’s private 5G wireless network provides features that will help drive select use cases at The Smart Factory in Wichita, which include:

Select Use Cases at The Smart Factory:

  1. Improved shop floor visibility: Using predictive maintenance analytics on assets can improve uptime and productivity by addressing up to approximately 50% of the root causes of downtime.
  2. Improved quality assurance and reduced defects: Detection of potential defects in manufactured products or services before they reach customers, thereby improving the customer experience and reducing waste.
  3. Material handling automation: Orchestration and management of AGV and AMR fleets can improve the reliability, consistency, safety, and accuracy of moving material across the plant.
  4. Workplace safety: Reduces human error and manual workloads to minimize injury and productivity loss.

Commenting on the Private 5G Network Deployment, Jennifer Artley, SVP, 5G Acceleration, Verizon Business, said: “The Smart Factory at Wichita is a microcosm of industry 4.0 itself, with a wide range of enterprise partners, suppliers, researchers, and complementary technologies coming together in one ecosystem to make a supercharged impact. 5G brings massive bandwidth and incredibly fast data speeds to the equation to help make these impacts replicable in a plethora of business applications at virtually any scale — customers have the flexibility to dream big and start small.”

“5G is the backbone of Industry 4.0, and we’re so excited to bring it to Deloitte’s The Smart Factory at Wichita to help catalyze scalable, collaborative innovation,” added Jennifer Artley.

The Smart Factory in Wichita:

The Smart Factory at Wichita assists firms through their most difficult manufacturing challenges by showcasing modern manufacturing techniques in a variety of applications on a shop floor. The Factory, located on the Innovation Campus at Wichita State University, includes a fully operational production line and experiential labs for creating and researching smart manufacturing technology and strategy.

Visitors to the facility can explore smart manufacturing concepts that combine the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), computer vision, and more to create interconnected systems that use data to drive real-time, intelligent decision-making.

Verizon Private 5G:

By utilizing Verizon 5G and edge computing to create applications and solutions that drive both the manufacturing and retail industries, this work with Deloitte at The Smart Factory at Wichita strengthens the commitment between the two businesses to co-innovate.

Verizon Business announced that its private 5G wireless network is live at The Smart Factory at Wichita, a new immersive, industry experience centre convened by Deloitte. Verizon collaborates with Deloitte and other companies in the Smart Factory ecosystem to advance smart manufacturing deployment and allow manufacturers to quickly adopt cutting-edge Industry 4.0 solutions and technologies that support new business models that improve quality, productivity, and sustainability.

Verizon, as a builder-level collaborator in The Smart Factory at Wichita ecosystem of 20 leading global companies, intends to use this network of companies to help customers from various industries to innovate their approach to better connectivity and use of data to improve real-time coordination between people and assets. Verizon’s private 5G wireless network provides features that will help drive select use cases at The Smart Factory in Wichita, which include:

Commenting on the Private 5G Network Deployment, Jennifer Artley, SVP, 5G Acceleration, Verizon Business, said: “The Smart Factory at Wichita is a microcosm of industry 4.0 itself, with a wide range of enterprise partners, suppliers, researchers, and complementary technologies coming together in one ecosystem to make a supercharged impact. 5G brings massive bandwidth and incredibly fast data speeds to the equation to help make these impacts replicable in a plethora of business applications at virtually any scale — customers have the flexibility to dream big and start small.”

“5G is the backbone of Industry 4.0, and we’re so excited to bring it to Deloitte’s The Smart Factory at Wichita to help catalyze scalable, collaborative innovation,” added Jennifer Artley.

Could 5G Radios be a Problem for Private 5G?

CEO Hans Vestberg told a Citi investor conference this week:

“We need certain radio base stations for private networks, different price ranges. We need modems for certain things. You need more than the handset and the macro sites that is now in there,” Vestberg said at Citi’s 2023 Communications, Media, and Entertainment Conference. “We would now have offerings for cheaper private 5G networks with certain suppliers and more high level, high quality. We didn’t have this optionality, and that’s why we’re now sort of seeing that we’re actually meeting the customer demands of building private 5G networks.”

Vestberg added that the carrier now has “the ecosystem for radios so we are fully committed. We strongly believe in private 5G networks, and that’s a revenue stream we don’t have today because we’re not into Wi-Fi networks and optimization of a manufacturing site. We’re not into that today.”

Verizon Business CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath during an investor conference in November said it had dozens of private networks already deployed, with accelerating momentum.

“On the private networks, we are very bullish on that opportunity and I think things have gotten a little faster in the last 90 days than they’ve gotten in the last year or so,” Sampath said, adding most of Verizon’s initial private network deals have resulted in incremental spending by customers.

“For example, if we are providing wireline network services – I’ll call it more broadly network services – to 10,000 stores, and if the realtor wants 100 sites or 200 sites of private network, they’re going to come to us because we are already integrated into their service stack, we are integrated into their day-two operating model, we are integrated into their operating system, so when a ticket happens they know what to do and vice versa,” Sampath said. “It’s a very logical extension to our business when you’re managing large portions of the infrastructure to manage their private network piece to it.”

References:

Verizon Deploys Private 5G at the Smart Factory of Deloitte

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/verizon-mec-private-5g-efforts-tripped-by-radio-prices/2023/01/

https://www.fiercewireless.com/private-wireless/verizons-arvin-singh-discusses-private-5g

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-private-5g-network-aircraft-hangar

 

A Tale of two Telcos: AT&T up (fiber & mid-band 5G); VZ down (net income falls; cost-cutting coming)

AT&T said on Thursday that it added 708,000 postpaid cellular end point connections, a metric investors use to measure the strength of a cellular carrier’s main profit center. For the third consecutive quarter, the tally easily topped forecasts of Wall Street analysts, who had been expecting 552,300 connections in the third quarter.  AT&T executives said their core wireless business overshot their expectations during the third quarter, driving higher revenue and profits despite lingering worries about inflation.

“We’re in a much better place than the broader economy,” finance chief Pascal Desroches said in an interview. The company raised its targets for profit and core wireless revenue this year.

AT&T said that it has added more than 2.2 million wireless subscribers through three quarters, which it said it expected to top rivals.

Wireless-service revenue climbed 5.6%, an improvement the company attributed to rate increases, roaming fees and customer upgrades to premium plans. AT&T now expects full-year wireless service revenue to reach the high end of its previously forecast 4.5% to 5% growth range.

AT&T also added 338,000 customers to its fiber-optic network in the third quarter up from year ago additions of 289,000. That left AT&T with a fiber base of 6.93 million.. Chief Executive John Stankey said building new fiber optic lines remains a priority for the company.

Source: AT&T Q3 2022 earnings presentation

AT&T’s fiber strategy is driving average revenue per user (ARPU) upward. AT&T’s fiber ARPU for Q3 clocked in at $62.62, up from $58.17 in the year-ago period. Its general broadband ARPU in Q3 hit $58.63, up from $55.16 a year ago.

AT&T added another 500,000 fiber locations in Q3, extending its total to 18.5 million. Though the analysts at New Street Research thought that build cadence was a bit weak (they’ve been expecting AT&T to pass a fiber build rate exceeding 1 million per quarter this year), AT&T CEO John Stankey said on today’s earnings call that the company remains on track to achieve a target of 30 million-plus fiber locations by the end of 2025.

AT&T’s fiber penetration in Q3, at 37%, was unchanged even as the company continues to build out and light up more fiber locations. Stankey stressed that AT&T has been able to hit penetration rates of 30% “relatively quickly” with fiber, but acknowledged that the “next 20% takes a little bit longer.”

“I think the biggest change that’s occurred and penetration is how quickly we’re getting to the 20% level, versus historic numbers,” Stankey said. “But we’ve not made any assumption that once you hit that 30% level that the back end is going to go any faster.”

AT&T said it expects an adjusted full-year per-share profit of at least $2.50 from its continuing operations, a few cents higher than previously expected. And the company said its free cash flow, projected around $14 billion this year, should grow in 2023.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

In sharp contrast, Verizon (the largest U.S. cellular carrier in terms of subscribers) reported a net gain of 8,000 phone connections under postpaid billing plans during the September quarter, a sign that recent rate increases had prompted many of its most reliable customers to leave the service.

Verizon’s overall net income, excluding profits from interests in non-controlling entities, fell nearly 24% to $4.9 billion in the September quarter. Higher overhead costs and interest expenses contributed to the weaker earnings, though the company’s adjusted profit still topped Wall Street analysts’ expectations, according to data from FactSet.

Verizon also said its consumer business lost 189,000 wireless retail postpaid connections. That was offset by Verizon’s business unit, which added 197,000 postpaid phone connections, giving the operator a total of 8,000 net new wireless connections.

Finance chief executive Matt Ellis said in an interview that the improving profitability in Verizon’s core wireless business showed that its strategy was pointing it in the right direction. Many subscribers were paying their bills on time and upgrading to more expensive plans over the past quarter despite signs of stress in the broader economy, he added.

“We can continue to bring customers in and step them up to grow revenue” with more full-featured plans,  Ellis said. “If there’s opportunities to increase pricing, we obviously won’t be shy about doing that,” he added.

Verizon ended a four-year, $10 billion cost-cutting program last year, but has just started another one. The company revealed a new cost-cutting program on Friday that executives said will save $2 billion to $3 billion a year by 2025. The company didn’t detail how the initiative would trim expenses or how many, if any, jobs the move would affect.

“To further mitigate inflation impacts, we’ve started a new cost-savings program that we expect will provide a reduction in annual costs of $2-3 billion by 2025,” explained Verizon CFO Matt Ellis during the operator’s Q3 2022 conference call Friday. “This program will be focused on several areas in the business, including digitalization efforts to enhance the customer experience and streamlining internal operations with automation and process enhancements.”

Verizon’s headcount has declined from around 155,000 in 2017 to just 118,000 last year.

Verizon said it now covers 160 million people with its speedy C-band network, and expects to expand that number to 200 million in the first quarter of next year.

In contrast, AT&T said it is on track to cover 130 million people with its own midband 5G network by the end of this year, far ahead of the company’s initial projections.

During Verizon’s quarterly earnings call, CEO Hans Vestberg reiterated the company’s broad profit strategy: to gain new customers and to encourage existing customers to spend more money with the carrier. Specifically, he said Verizon is working to “step up” customers into more expensive service plans by offering goodies like streaming video subscriptions and faster 5G services.

Along those lines, Vestberg said 81% of Verizon’s customer base now subscribes to an unlimited data plan, and that 42% have selected one of its “premium” unlimited plans. He added that 60% of Verizon’s new customers selected a premium unlimited plan.

References:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/at-t-raises-outlook-on-wireless-customer-growth-11666263769?mod=article_inline

https://www.lightreading.com/broadband/atandts-fiber-sub-base-surpasses-its-non-fiber-base-/d/d-id/781215?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/verizon-vz-q3-earnings-report-2022-11666355231

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/amid-flagging-profits-verizon-starts-another-cost-cutting-program/d/d-id/781271?

Verizon launches 5G Ultra Wideband Innovation Hub with the University of South Carolina; Spectrum Update

Verizon and the University of South Carolina are exploring how 5G Ultra Wideband (mmWave) can transform industries including manufacturing, healthcare and civil infrastructure, among others. To do this, Verizon and the university launched the Innovation Experience Hub, powered by Verizon 5G housed in the McNair Center in Columbia, SC where students, faculty, entrepreneurs, and corporate partners can collaborate to test and create new solutions powered by Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, which is available in select areas.

Innovators at the hub will leverage 5G connectivity and solutions to help improve manufacturing processes with quality sensing and defect detection. In healthcare, they’ll test how 5G can enhance emergency response by enabling remote health monitoring and real-time analysis of patient vitals, as well as hospital connected asset management, to streamline asset retrieval and dispatch operations. When it comes to civil infrastructure, researchers will examine how 5G communications can enhance monitoring of roads and bridges with condition analytics and reporting, as well as drone-based visual inspection of roads, bridges and buildings, using AI-driven computer vision.

  • Verizon brings 5G Ultra Wideband service to Innovation Hub at University of South Carolina housed in the McNair Center.
  • With Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, innovators can develop and test real-world 5G solutions for use cases such as manufacturing, healthcare and civil infrastructure.
  • Initial projects will include manufacturing quality inspection and defect detection, healthcare connected asset management, and drone-based visual inspection of roads and bridges.

“Working with the University of South Carolina, we have a great opportunity to collaborate with dozens of partners to ideate and develop new 5G-powered solutions leveraging the latest technologies, including large-scale IoT, artificial intelligence, computer vision and augmented reality,” said Jennifer Artley, Verizon Business Senior Vice President of 5G Acceleration. “Verizon is the network America relies on. Giving researchers access to Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband, with its high bandwidth and low latency, can accelerate the innovation process, leading to new solutions that will transform how enterprises operate and grow.”

“Our relationship with Verizon exemplifies the benefits of partnerships between the University of South Carolina and the business community,” university president Michael Amiridis said. “This aligns with our focus on expanding research opportunities that solve problems and accelerate discoveries.”

This engagement is part of Verizon’s broader strategy to partner with enterprises, startups, universities, national labs and government/military organizations, to explore how 5G can disrupt and transform nearly every industry. Verizon operates several 5G Labs in the U.S. that specialize in developing use cases in industries ranging from healthcare to public safety to entertainment. In addition, Verizon is collaborating with various customers to establish 5G Innovation Hubs on-premises as part of an ongoing initiative to co-innovate and create new 5G applications.

Regarding Verizon’s wireless spectrum deployments, CEO Hans Vestberg told a Goldman Sachs Investor Conference last week:

“We have US 150 million POPs (Points of Presence) with the C-band and just reminder to all, we started in the first quarter deploying the C-band. That’s the pace we have right now and we have said that we’re going to pass plus or more than 175 million POPs by year end.

So this is going faster, but as you rightfully said, we’re using — we have 161 megahertz nationwide. We’re so far using 60 megahertz. We’re getting into 100 megahertz. We’ve talked a little bit about some market have 200 megahertz. So we have so much way to go here and improving the network. And what we see so far is of course, where we launch a C-band, we have a much higher step up ratio in those markets, which is a good indicator of that the C-band is really making difference.”

References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-launches-5g-innovation-hub-university-south-carolina

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4541047-verizon-communications-inc-vz-chairman-and-ceo-hans-vestberg-presents-goldman-sachs

Learn more about Verizon 5G technology here.

Verizon upgrades fiber optic core network using latest 400 Gbps per port optical technology from Juniper Networks

Verizon is tripling the capacity of its fiber core network by upgrading older router equipment with new equipment, capable of utilizing the latest 400 Gbps per port optical technology. When the overhaul of the fiber core network (the superhighway Verizon uses to move customers’ data) is complete, Verizon will be able to manage 115 Tbps of data, the equivalent of almost 24 billion streaming songs, at any given moment. This upgrade will significantly increase the bandwidth needed to support wireless, home internet, enterprise, small business and FIOS customers.

In addition to providing the increased bandwidth needed for data growth over the next decade, the new equipment provided by Juniper Networks, Inc. offers many additional operational benefits:

  • The equipment is half the size of the existing equipment, reducing space requirements in core facilities and driving down both power usage per GB and cost per GB to operate.
  • The new equipment offers an advanced level of automation, allowing for automated interfaces with other network systems to make faster decisions and changes, improving reporting telemetry to advance analytics and real-time adjustments to address congestion or other performance improvements, and incorporating protocols like segment routing to make more intelligent routing decisions. These automations will make the Verizon network even more reliable, programmable and efficient.
  • Additionally, because this new equipment is so dense with such large capacity, Verizon will be able to redesign its network architecture to spread the equipment out to additional facilities across geographies, building in an additional level of redundancy with the ability to reroute traffic onto a greater number of fiber routes when needed.

Verizon will replace its legacy 100 Gb/s packet network routers with Juniper’s latest PTX10000-series of modular routers. These use Juniper’s Express silicon that will eventually include the Express 5 platform Juniper introduced earlier this year. The Express 5 silicon can support up to 28.8 Tb/s of throughput, or the equivalent of 36, 800 Gb/s interfaces. This represents a 45% improvement in power efficiency over previous chipsets. The packet optical devices place data packets directly onto and receive them from an optical transport network. They are placed onto that network in what Juniper describes as an “optical transport envelope” that allows that data to bypass “much of the other external networking equipment needed to groom or otherwise process electrical or optical signals originating on the router.” This process reduces the chance of data corruption and allows for closer monitoring of that data.

“Our fiber network is the largely invisible foundation that is a key driving force behind providing the scalability and reliability our customers need and expect,” said Kyle Malady, Executive Vice President, President Global Networks & Technology at Verizon. “This new packet core will provide the reliability and capacity we need today, but more importantly will be able to scale to meet the forecasted future demands that will result from the incredible capabilities of our robust 5G network, the platform for 21st century innovation,” he added.

Kevin Smith, VP of planning at Verizon, said the PTX10000-series update will be replacing its legacy Juniper PTX3000 and PTX5000 routers that it deployed a decade ago. That legacy equipment tops out at 100 Gb/s throughput.  “The kind of traffic that is on this network is all of our public and private traffic, global FiOS traffic, all of our wireless traffic, as well as our former XO [Communications] network.  As we look ahead and we see both from an infrastructure as well as a customer perspective, a lot for 200-gig and 400-gig for both those places, and our current platform just can’t support that level of services,” Smith said.  He added that Verizon expects a 10-times improvement in total throughput with the Express 5 silicon and new chassis footprint.  Smith also said that the new equipment is upgradeable to support higher-performing optical protocols like 800 Gb/s and 1 Tb/s per-port optical technology. The current 400 Gb/s move can manage up to 115 Tb/s of data, which the carrier expects to meet network demands through 2032. Updating to 800 Gb/s or 1 Tb/s will increase support to 230 Tb/s of data.

Sally Bament, VP of cloud and service provider marketing at Juniper Networks, said those boxes will include the vendor’s four-slot, eight-slot, and 16-slot chassis housing Juniper’s line cards. Those boxes are more power-dense with a footprint half the size of the existing equipment. This results in each box requiring less power, which drives down power usage per gigabyte and the cost per gigabyte to operate.

Smith advised that the upgrades are just getting started and that it will take a couple of years to complete. This will involve overlaying the new equipment into the same locations as the current deployment as well as installing physically smaller options into more edge locations.  That legacy equipment will continue to operate for some time after the new network is turned on as it will need to continue supporting the large number of network elements that will eventually be migrated to the new core.

 

References:

https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-quadruples-capacity-fiber-network-core

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/juniper-snags-extensive-verizon-packet-network-upgrade/2022/08/

 

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