NEC in contention to supply 5G radio units and 5G cloud native core network in UK

Following last Friday’s announcement that NEC and Analog Devices (ADI) have cooperated to design a 5G Network Massive MIMO Antenna Radio Unit for Rakuten Mobile, the Japanese IT icon is in contention to supply 5G base stations in the UK.

The UK has said it will no longer allow the use of Huawei equipment in its 5G networks due to unresolved security concerns, and required network providers to remove already-incorporated equipment by 2027.  That’s largely due to the pressure the U.S. administration has put on allies to ban Huawei from their telecom networks based on the assertion that Huawei’s equipment could be used for cyberespionage, an allegation that the company denies.

With Huawei being banned from the UK’s 5G networks, Ericsson and Nokia, are the obvious choice to replace the world’s #1 telecom equipment company, other contenders are beginning to emerge.  Those include South Korea’s Samsung as well as Japan’s Fujitsu and NEC.  The latter probably has an edge due to their work with Rakuten Mobile on both 5G radio units and a cloud native 5G core network.

NEC’s 5G equipment utilizes highly accurate digital beamforming for efficient high-capacity transmission. The system also features seamless installation, achieved through circuit integration.

“Virtualization is a dependable and cost-efficient approach, and the world’s leading telecom providers are pursuing it as the next evolution of communications. ADI’s RF equipment allows us to provide the connectivity required to build an architecture that supports 5G full-spectrum systems,” said Nozomu Watanabe, Senior Vice President at NEC.

The U.K. government has decided to collaborate with NEC Corp. on the development of 5G ultrafast wireless communications networks. | BLOOMBERG

Working alongside Japanese companies will soon become even more appealing for the UK, with the government signing a historic post-Brexit trade deal with Japan last week.  As part of the diplomatic trip to Japan, British International Trade Secretary Liz Truss spoke to NEC Chairman Nobuhiro Endo about 5G, leading to the tweet below suggesting NEC will help rollout 5G in the UK and look towards the creation of a  5G Open RAN Center of Excellence.

Japanese tech giant @NEC_jp_pr to support roll out of 5G in the UK.

The UK-Japan trade agreement signed today will bring two of the world’s most technologically advanced nations & democratic allies closer together. https://t.co/l78q7w24Ur

Department for International Trade (@tradegovuk) October 23, 2020

With respect to Open RAN, last week NEC-Europe, together with Altiostar and Vodafone-Ziggo. teamed up to perform the first successful voice call over an open virtual RAN in the Netherlands.  If ties with NEC and Japan continue to improve, Open RAN may begin to gain even more momentum in the UK as we enter 2021.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

References:

https://www.nec.com/en/press/202010/global_20201023_01.html

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/10/26/business/corporate-business/japan-nec-5g-uk/

https://www.totaltele.com/507641/NEC-steps-in-for-5G-as-UKJapan-sign-free-trade-agreement

https://techblog.comsoc.org/2020/10/19/vodafone-and-nec-europe-trial-open-ran-technology-with-voice-call/

 

U.S. Wireless Carrier’s Aggressive Promotions for iPhone 12 explained

Business Insider:

  • The launch of the iPhone 12 has sparked a battle for U.S. carriers to entice devices upgrades.
  • AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon’s aggressive promotional pricing reflects the higher perceived lifetime value of attracting and retaining 5G wireless consumers.

The U.S. wireless carriers are betting that steep iPhone 12 promotions will more than pay off over time.  Here’s why:

  • U.S. wireless carriers are turning to promotions now in hopes that they will be able to secure new or retain customers throughout the 5G era. The most common time for wireless carriers to lose or gain subscribers is when customers switch smartphones, per The Wall Street Journal.
  • The unusually aggressive device promotions also likely reflect the higher lifetime value of 5G customers. By 2025, 5G subscribers are expected to generate 2.5x more revenue per connection for carriers than the average cellular connection, according to Juniper Research forecasts cited by Light Reading.
  • Wireless carriers are also likely attempting to meet US customers halfway, since so many people are cutting back on spending amid the economic slowdown. In Q2 2020, the average sale price of smartphones in the US sank to $503, representing a 10% year-over-year decline, according to Canalys.

Analyst colleague Craig Moffett generated this iPhone 12 Q & A in a blog post for his clients:

1.  Why was Verizon featured so prominently in Apple’s iPhone launch?

Answer: Their millimeter wave broadband, sparsely available though it may be, is the only credible showcase for what 5G can do.

2. Why do Apple’s new iPhone’s sold outside of the U.S. not support millimeter wave signals?

Answer: Millimeter wave drains battery life incredibly quickly, and generates unwanted heat in the handset.

3.  Why do Apple’s new phones in the U.S. default to turning off the very feature that is supposedly the reason to buy them?

Answer: To reduce heat and extend battery life.

4.  What are the use cases that make 5G worth having?

Answer: We don’t know yet.

5.  Why did AT&T decide to offer such a rich promotion – a free iPhone with almost any trade-in – for their existing subscribers?

Answer: Again, we don’t know.

6.  Will 5G produce a high ROI for wireless carriers?

Answer: Most expect that 5G will mean higher capital intensity (capex), and therefore lower ROI.

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

References:

https://www.businessinsider.com/att-tmobile-verizon-usher-aggressive-promos-for-iphone-12-lineup-2020-10

https://www.moffettnathanson.com/?Section=Media%20/Telecom

C-Spire: Mobile 5G launch in Mississippi with 200Mbps peak speeds using a combo of 5G and LTE Advanced

C Spire today began rolling out its pre-standard 5G mobile service in Mississippi with plans to add more areas by the end of this year.  Brookhaven in south Mississippi’s Lincoln County and Columbus in north Mississippi’s Lowndes County were strategically chosen as the initial 5G markets as part of C Spire efforts to make the technology available and provide the best network experience for customers.

The C Spire 5G launch is occurring in conjunction with the launch of the latest Apple iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro required for 5G service.  More 5G-enabled smartphones from other handset manufacturers, including Samsung, will be available for use in early 2021 along with expansion in other markets.  The use of the Apple 5G iPhones implies this is a 5G-NR (3GPPP Rel 15) NSA implementation.

Specifically, parts of Hattiesburg, parts of Madison and Ridgeland in the greater Jackson metropolitan area and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, are expected to be 5G capable by the end of 2020 with more areas of the company’s footprint coming soon, according to Brian Caraway, General Manager of C Spire’s wireless division.

C Spire Begins Rollout of Next-generation 5G Service in Mississippi Responsive image

“We’re bringing consumers the benefits of new 5G wireless network technology where they need it the most with fast speeds, better service and an improved experience,” Caraway said.  “Using a backbone of fiber optic infrastructure, we’re rolling out a better 5G network for now and for the future.”

5G implementation is part of over $200 million in recent network enhancements, including the deployment of additional Band 41 carriers with carrier aggregation, increased cell site antenna capacity using advanced features like 12-layer MIMO, 256 QAM modulation for better spectral efficiency, network-wide optimization for balanced data delivery and extensive coverage of 4G LTE Advanced announced previously this year.

During the transition to 5G across the network, Caraway said C Spire plans to continue to use improvements and enhancements offered from its current 4G LTE Advanced technology to ensure that customers have the best network experience uniquely designed for their needs and region.

“We’re deploying 5G at a variety of spectrums – so many customers will have a faster experience on a 5G network while others may still see the best performance on our 4G LTE deployments,” Caraway added.  “5G is a new technology that will improve with time, but regardless of where you live, C Spire is dedicated to providing the best network experience for the most customers possible.”  Indeed, C-Spire says that they are delivering peak speeds up to 200Mbps through a combination of the most advanced LTE and 5G technologies.

C Spire, a Mississippi-based telecommunications and technology services company, operates the nation’s largest privately-owned mobile services firm and sixth largest in the U.S. industry.  The rollout is part of the firm’s broader efforts to bring consumers and businesses next-generation 5G benefits now and in the future.  The company also installed new base stations and software at its 1,200-plus cell sites last year, resulting in a 20 percent average speed boost across its network.

References:

www.cspire.com/5g

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/c-spire-begins-rollout-of-next-generation-5g-service-in-mississippi-301158950.html

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/c-spire-rolls-out-real-5g-speeds-in-31-mississippi-counties-300992355.html

Analysis of AT&T’s Q3-2020 Earnings

AT&T today reported a drop in third-quarter revenues and profit, due mainly to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its entertainment business. Subscriber numbers showed some signs of recovery, with over 1 million postpaid net adds in the mobile market and broadband growth thanks to subsidised offers during the pandemic. AT&T said it now expects to generate free cash flow of at least USD 26 billion this year and pay out just over 50 percent of that in dividends.

Quarterly revenues fell to $42.3 billion from $44.6 billion in the year-ago quarter. WarnerMedia (-10%) was affected by the pandemic measures, while mobile service revenues (-0.3%) suffered from lower roaming. Legacy wireline services also continued to erode, and Latin America revenues were hurt by forex pressure. These declines were partly offset by higher mobile equipment sales (+6.4%) and higher advertising revenues as sports broadcasts resumed.

While operating costs were somewhat lower due to the slowdown in media production, operating profit still declined to $6.1 billion from USD 7.9 billion a year ago due to COVID-related incremental costs. In total, AT&T estimates the coronavirus crisis reduced EPS by 21 cents, including 2 cents in extra costs and 19 cents from lower revenue. The operator’s reported net earnings fell to $2.8 billion or 39 cents per share from  $3.7 billion or 50 cents a share in Q3 2019.

After capital expenditure (capex) was reduced to $3.9 billion and operating cash flow increased to $12.1 billion, AT&T was left with free cash flow of $8.3 billion in Q3. The company reduced net debt by $2.9 billion compared to the end of June, leaving it with leverage of 2.66x adjusted EBITDA at the end of September. Over the full year, capex is still expected at around $20 billion.

AT&T mobile revenues were up 1% to $17.9 billion thanks to higher equipment sales, while EBITDA was slightly lower at $7.7 billion. Subscriber growth rebounded from the slower second quarter, with a total 5.5 million net additions. That included 1.1 million postpaid net adds, with 645,000 new phones, and postpaid ARPU was up slightly from Q2 to $49.94. The operator also added 245,000 new prepaid lines, while the remaining growth was new connected devices, which rose to nearly 76 million in total on the mobile network.

Mobility is AT&T’s largest and most important business, accounting for 42% of consolidated revenues.  Analyst Craig Moffett wrote: “The subscriber results in Mobility were better than just “good.” They were a genuine positive. But can AT&T’s success be sustained in the face of a 5G investment cycle that favors T-Mobile today, and that will require big spending (to buy mid-band spectrum. e.g. C-band) tomorrow?”

AT&T managed to slow the decline of TV subscribers to losses of 627,000, half the number of the year-earlier period. That left the company with just under 17.8 million pay-TV subscribers at the end of the period (including 683,000 OTT customers), down 17.5 percent year-on-year. Pay-TV ARPU improved to $130.55 (excluding OTT).

For the first time in six quarters, AT&T’s IP broadband subscribers – FTTH and U-verse broadband subs, not including legacy DSL – posted growth. Broadband subscribers benefitted from relaxed terms to help people work and learn from home during the pandemic. AT&T added a net 158,000 subscribers, its first growth in six quarters, for a total base of 14.1 million at the end of September. The growth was entirely in AT&T Fiber, which grew by 357,000 subscribers to 4.7 million. Fiber connections finally grew fast enough to keep up with U-verse declines.  Growth of 2.4% YoY in premium broadband ARPU only (AT&T doesn’t report DSL ARPU) was probably enough to offset the aforementioned 1.4% YoY decline in total subscribers; total broadband revenue growth very likely turned positive in the quarter.

Total Business Wireline revenue was $6.3B, down 2.5% YoY. That’s a deceleration in the rate of decline from last quarter’s 3.5% (although excluding IP sales in the second quarter a year ago, the decline last quarter would have been a gentler 1.7%, so Q3 may be better seen as a small acceleration in the rate of decline). Still, the result was better than the expectation of $6.25B by 1.4%.

HBO also showed growth, reaching over 38 million paying subscribers in the US for the linear channel HBO and SVOD service HBO Max combined. That beat AT&T’s year-end target of 36 million subscribers. The total includes 28.7 million subscribers for HBO Max, up from 26.6 million at the end of June.

With respect to AT&T’s competition in the telco space, Moffitt wrote:  “AT&T’s positioning vis-à-vis the newly merged T-Mobile/Sprint demands attention. New T-Mobile will be competing on the basis of not only lower prices, but also a best in-class 5G network. T-Mobile has a much better mid-band spectrum position than either AT&T or Verizon. Both will need to spend money to keep up. Verizon is in a position to do so. AT&T is not. With the C-Band auction coming in December, AT&T doesn’t have much time to free up some balance sheet headroom.”

AT&T said in a slide presentation that the company is focused on market-based priorities:
• 5G wireless and fiber-based connectivity
• Expanding reach of software-based entertainment platforms
• Relentless commitment to customer experience

AT&T CFO John Stephens, speaking on the company’s Q3 earnings call, said AT&T is on track to grow its fiber base by 25% this year and add 1 million total new FTTP subscribers for all of 2020.  That’s very impressive!

“My intent is to exit next year (2021) … gaining subscribers, gaining share and growing the broadband business,” said AT&T CEO John Stankey on the earnings call . “We still have a lot of fallow fiber that we can sell into. You saw that this quarter.”   AT&T will look to expand its fiber footprint, but didn’t elaborate on how much more FTTP (AT&T Fiber) or how the associated capex it would spend to increase its fiber footprint.

“We think policy in the country, where it stands right now, is attractive for investment in infrastructure and attractive for investment in fiber. I don’t think we need policy to get better. We just need to ensure that the policy doesn’t whipsaw back to some place that is inconsistent with incenting infrastructure investment,” Stankey said.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

References:

https://about.att.com/story/2020/q3_earnings_2020.html

https://investors.att.com/financial-reports/quarterly-earnings/2020

https://investors.att.com/~/media/Files/A/ATT-IR/financial-reports/quarterly-earnings/2020/q3-2020/ATT_3Q2020_Earnings_Deck.pdf

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4380658-t-inc-t-ceo-john-stankey-on-q3-2020-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single

China Mobile has 114M “5G Package” subscribers vs 204M broadband wireline customers

China Mobile announced yesterday that it had approximately 946 million mobile customers as at 30 September 2020, which was down about 1 million from the previous quarter.  There were 770 million 4G customers and 114 million 5G package customers. The latter number is a 44 million increase in the past three months. However, the growth in 5G subscribers is not quite what it seems. Like China Telecom, China Mobile uses the term “5G package customers,” which counts 4G customers on 5G plans. [The 3rd state owned China telco – China Unicom – does not yet give a breakout of 5G subs from its mobile subscriber base.] The 4G subscriber base, reflecting some migration to 5G package plans, shrank by 10 million during Q3-2020.

During the first three quarters of the year, China Mobile handset data traffic increased by 35.0% year-on-year to 65.3 billion GB with handset data DOU reaching 9.1GB. Total voice usage dropped by 7.1% year-on-year to 2,258.0 billion minutes, showing a further reduced rate of decline. Total SMS usage rose by 15.5% year-on-year to 713.0 billion messages and maintained favourable growth. Mobile ARPU continued to demonstrate a flattened rate of decline, dropping by 2.6% year-on-year to RMB48.9 for the first three quarters of the year.

As of 30 September 2020, China Mobile’s total number of  broadband wireline customers was 204 million, with a net increase of 17.17 million for the first three quarters of the year. Wireline broadband ARPU amounted to RMB32.4.

Slight of hand: China Mobile's growth in subs includes 4G customers on 5G plans.

Image Credit: China Mobile

China Mobile said it will “continue to put in an all-out effort to implement the “5G+” plan, further promote scale-based and value-oriented operations and foster the all-round development of CHBN markets, thereby maintaining growth in telecommunications services revenue for the full-year of 2020.”  The Group acknowledged the increasing cost associated with 5G operations and maintenance, but did not elaborate on what those costs were:

Facing the challenges resulting from increasing costs incurred by 5G operations and maintenance and business transformation, the Group will allocate resources by adhering to the principle of ensuring a sufficient budget for areas essential to promote growth, while reducing and controlling expenses on certain selected areas. In addition, it will take further measures to reduce costs and enhance efficiency, alongside efforts to maintain good profitability. The Group will maintain stable profit attributable to equity shareholders for the full-year of 2020, continuously creating value for investors.

Ericsson, which previously received a $593 million 5G contract with China Mobile for base stations wrote in an email to Light Reading: “”We have been riding on the investments in China and there are likely to be more than 500,000 base stations by the end of the year in China launched on 5G and of course we are quite pleased to participate in that rather fundamental and quite strong rollout.”

Market research firm Dell’Oro forecasts that China’s 5G rollout will drive an 8% increase in worldwide sales of radio access network products this year. Excluding China, it forecasts no growth in the RAN infrastructure market. Additional highlights from Dell’Oro’s 2Q2020 RAN report:

  • 5G NR radio shipments accelerated 5x to 6x during 1H20, driven by robust growth in China.
  • Millimeter Wave 5G NR deployments continued to advance rapidly, with revenues growing nearly four-fold.
  • Initial estimates suggest that vendor rankings remained stable between 2019 and 1H20, while revenue shares changed somewhat as the Chinese suppliers reached new revenue share highs.
  • Near-term RAN forecast has been adjusted upward, to reflect the faster-than-expected growth in China.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

References:

https://www.chinamobileltd.com/en/file/view.php?id=237832

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/china-mobile-5g-subs-top-114m-in-q3/d/d-id/764778?

https://www.lightreading.com/5g/ericsson-rides-high-on-china-5g-boom/d/d-id/764770?

Huawei Executive: “China’s 5G user experience is fake, dumb and poor”-is it a con game?

RAN Market Growth Accelerated in 1H20, According to Dell’Oro Group

Microsoft and SpaceX Partner for Space-Cloud Initiative Challenging AWS

Microsoft Corp. is partnering with SpaceX to use the latter’s Starlink satellite internet service, as the software giant opens a new front in its cloud-computing battle with Amazon.com Inc. targeting space customers.  Starlink is SpaceX’s ambitious plan to build an interconnected internet network with thousands of satellites.  It’s designed to deliver high-speed internet service to anywhere on earth (just like satellite phones for voice communications).

Microsoft’s Azure Space , launched today (October 20, 2020), would help connect and deploy new services using swarms of low-orbit communications satellites to be built by SpaceX, and more traditional fleets of satellites circling the earth at higher altitudes. The Azure Space initiative is targeting commercial and government space businesses. It comes about three months after Amazon Web Services (AWS), disclosed its space-focused effort. Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft announced  a new service called Azure Orbital to connect satellites directly to cloud resident data centers.

A new “Azure Modular Datacenter” is essentially a mobile unit about the size of a semi-trailer. Starlink’s global coverage helps make these Azure Modular Datacenters possible, as Microsoft says the product is designed “for customers who need cloud computing capabilities in hybrid or challenging environments, including remote areas.”

“The collaboration that we’re announcing today will allow us to work together to deliver new offerings for both the public and the private sector to deliver connectivity through Starlink for use on Azure,” SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell said in a video. “Where it makes sense, we will work with [Microsoft]: co-selling to our mutual customers, co-selling to new enterprise and future customers.”

To date, SpaceX has launched over 800 Starlink satellites – a fraction of the total needed for global coverage but enough to begin providing services in some regions, including in the northwest U.S. The company has an ongoing private beta test of the service, and is also working with organizations in rural regions of Washington state to deliver satellite internet service.

Some analysts have projected that the total revenue from space-related cloud services could total about $15 billion by the end of the decade, at least several times higher than current levels.

Competition in the cloud between Amazon AWS, the market leader, and No. 2 Microsoft Azure has been heating up in recent years.  Amazon offers a service to connect its AWS cloud to satellites and is working on a competitor to Starlink called Kuiper – in addition to Bezos’ personal investment in his space rocket builder Blue Origin.  The pandemic has intensified competition between AZURE and AWS  as companies accelerate their shift to the cloud and make vendor choices that could last for years. At the same time, military and intelligence agencies are ramping up spending on a range of space projects.

Space is only the latest area where the two cloud giants are going head-to-head. In June, Amazon launched a dedicated business unit focused on securing space-related contracts. Amazon already has Maxar Technologies Inc. and Capella Space as customers, helping them manage data coming from satellites.

Microsoft’s goal is to create integrated, secure networks, linking various cloud, space and ground capabilities. The system, for instance, would accumulate and analyze huge volumes of data, supporting missions such as space-debris surveillance and missile warnings and helping to control the orbits of commercial satellites.

“The space community is growing rapidly, and innovation is lowering the barriers of access for public and private sector organizations.  What used to solely be the bastion of governments, the innovation developed by private space companies has democratized access to space, and the use of space to create new scenarios and opportunities to meet the needs of both the public and private sector space has been powering the world for a long time,” wrote Microsoft Corp VP of Azure Global Tim Keane in a blog post.  “We intend to make Azure the platform and ecosystem of choice for the mission needs of the space community,” Keane added.

In addition to working with SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Microsoft said it is in partnership with Luxembourg’s SES SA, which separately operates a network of larger satellites significantly farther from earth under the brand O3b. Microsoft executives declined to disclose the size of their anticipated investment, but the initiative targets some of the fastest-growing national-security endeavors in space, sometimes harnessing artificial intelligence.

SpaceX, which is in the process of deploying its Starlink project consisting of thousands of high-speed internet satellites intended to provide connectivity around the globe, makes a natural partner for Microsoft. A major reason is that Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is pursuing his own low-orbit satellite constellation. Jeff Bezos also owns Blue Origin, a rocket company competing with SpaceX.

Elon Musk has sparred with Bezos before. The SpaceX chief executive who also runs electric-vehicle maker Tesla Inc. this year called for a break up of Amazon after the retailer rejected a book about the coronavirus pandemic. Amazon later said it had taken the action in error.

Microsoft and Walmart Inc. struck a cloud-computing deal two years ago. And this year the software giant and FedEx Corp. struck a partnership. Months earlier, Amazon had temporarily blocked some of its vendors from using some FedEx services.

Amazon’s and Microsoft’s steps in space come as the U.S. Defense Department is moving rapidly to embrace such sprawling constellations of smaller spacecraft for communications, surveillance and other applications. Pentagon brass have said smaller, lighter and more maneuverable satellites are essential to protect U.S. assets from potential hostile actions in space.

Microsoft is “focused deeply on governments and defense,” said Tom Keane, a corporate vice president. The space effort, he said, provides an opportunity “to bring commercial technology and innovation to the military.”

Satellite in orbit

Image Credit: Microsoft

SpaceX recently won a demonstration contract for a new generation of missile-warning satellites, which industry officials say could serve as the backbone for eventual Microsoft forays into that arena.

The U.S. national-security establishment also is shifting to greater cloud use. Microsoft last year beat out Amazon for a potential $10 billion cloud-computing contract for the Pentagon. Amazon has challenged the decision, which has since been affirmed by the Pentagon.

References:

Connected Home IoT Technolgies and the EU TeamUp5G Project

by David Alejandro Urquiza Villalonga and Manuel José López Morales, researchers at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Introduction:

The concept of the “connected home” has gained a lot of attention in the last decade as a means to improve various aspects of life.  Entertainment, security, energy and appliance control, and electronic health monitoring are just a few representative applications. Recently, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become increasingly important due to the COVID19 pandemic.  With most employees working from home, remote access tools are booming because they connect people with their machines and assets. They enable people to remotely communicate with machines and perform virtual inspections, remote diagnostics as well as remote support.  

Therefore, the development of a dynamic IoT environment that adapts to each individual’s needs is essential to provide an optimal productivity scenario.  In this article, we describe an intelligent platform which interconnects several sensors and actuators using an IoT approach to collect and process big volumes of data. The IoT system, combined with a powerful artificial intelligence (AI) tool, learns the user’s behavior and offers improved new services according to their preferences [1] [2].

In this context, applications related to home security, remote health monitoring, climate control and lighting, entertainment, smart sleep, and intelligent shopping have been developed. 

Challenges in IoT development and deployment:

There are several challenges to support massive IoT deployments providing connectivity for both cellular and non-cellular devices. New technologies with higher energy and spectral efficiency are required to enable smart device-to-device (D2D) communications with reduced connectivity costs [3]. The technical requirements to fulfill include:

• The interconnection of several sensors in an intelligent management platform according to a massive machine-type-communications (mMTC) approach. In this sense, new spectrum access techniques and energy-efficient technologies to support the operation of a large number of devices are required.
• Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) communication to support video streaming for entertainment, remote working, and online teaching.
• Scalability: this will become an issue mainly in relations to generic consumers as the number of devices in operation rises.
• Dense and durable off-grid power sources: it would make a difference if power could be broadcasted wirelessly to smartphones and sensors from a distance.

Popular current smart home devices:

Some of the most popular smart home devices include the intelligent wireless speaker “Google Home” with a connected voice management system that interacts with the Google Assistant helping with music, calendar, news, traffic, etc. On the other hand, Amazon has developed its own intelligent devices, namely “Amazon Echo” (with Alexa) and “Amazon Echo Plus,” which includes a smart home Zigbee hub for easy setup and control of compatible smart home devices.

Far-field speech recognition is included in the  “Amazon Echo Spot,” which is designed with a smart alarm clock that can make video calls with a tiny 2.5-inch screen, or become a nursery camera. LifeSmart provides smart home solutions focusing on security, energy-saving, and bringing convenience to life with a complex network of automatic intercommunication devices that simplifies daily routines [4].

Renesas offers a wide variety of IoT solutions for security, comfiness, health, connectivity and others, for different sectors such as automotive, healthcare, industrial, and home appliances [5].

Supporting technologies for massive IoT deployment:

Nevertheless, many products offered by companies still provide IoT solutions that can be thought as of being in an infancy state. The underlying communication technologies have to increase their capabilities in order to overcome the challenging needs and provide an improvement to IoT solutions.

Therefore, new wireless communication technologies [including 5G (IMT 2020), WiFi 6 (IEEE 802.11ax), Bluetooth 5, etc.] will be combined with classical short range wireless technologies [such as ZigBee, NFC and others] and installed in homes and small business offices.  Low Power Wide Area Network  (LPWAN) technologies from cellular carriers are LTE-Cat M1 , narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) and LoRa/LoRaWAN.

Several studies reveal that higher frequencies are expected to be able to operate as complementary bands for the deployment of 5G networks with higher capacity. It is expected that millimeter wave (mmWave) ultra-dense small-cells supported by massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) will be able to offer the capabilities to interconnect multiple devices and to provide high-speed services even in indoor scenarios. These small-cells may be interconnected with each other and with the core network by means of a fiber optic connection or with a mmWave backhaul.

Editor’s Note:  Some wireless communications professionals believe that a 5G fixed wireless network, using massive multiple-input multiple-output (mMIMO) systems at millimeter wave (mmWave) frequencies, will be able to offer high throughput and low latency to support many WiFi connected home devices.  Verizon’s 5G Home Internet is an example of this.

On the other hand, network densification is a promising technology to overcome many issues in mmWave systems such as blockage and short-range coverage that can significantly increase the capacity of the network. Therefore, Ultra-dense networks (UDN) compound by small cells (SCs) is also considered to have an important role in IoT connectivity.

In addition, a fundamental feature needed to support massive IoT is scalability on the device and the infrastructure sides which can be provided by 5G cellular networks. 5G systems will be able to offer connectivity to an extremely large number of low-cost, low-power, low-complexity devices, based on an evolution of the current LTE narrow band IoT (NB-IoT) [3].

New radio access technologies will also be required.  For example, cognitive radio (CR) to allocate bandwidth dynamically and to handle high interference levels. In addition, the big data processing capabilities for the AI learning and prediction process is supported only by 5G networks.

TeamUp5G Project:

TeamUp5G [6] is a European Training Network (ETN) in the frame of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSCA ITN) of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 frameworkTeamUp5G’s EU funding adds up to 3.72 million Euros between 2019 and 2022.

TeamUp5G is currently working on the use cases, technical challenges, and solutions to facilitate the technical feasibility of ultra-dense small cell networks.

The research objectives of TeamUp5G are focused on solving three problems: (1) Interference Management, waveforms, and mMIMO, (2) Dynamic Spectrum Management and Optimisation, and (3) Energy Consumption Reduction. Among others, it can provide the technical solutions to make massive IoT Smart Home connectivity feasible. Some of their research results include [7] and [8].

Where in Europe is TeamUp5G:

What Is the TeamUp5G Project:

Image Credit:  TeamUp5G Project

In reference [7], the authors study a cognitive radio system with energy harvesting capabilities (CR-EH) to improve the spectral and energy efficiency according to the green communication paradigm. A novel optimal sensing policy to maximize detection performance of available spectrum and to protect primary users from interference is developed. The proposed scheme is based on the efficient use of harvested energy to implement spectrum sensing operations. Offline and online scheduling policies are derived with an optimal formulation based on convex optimization theory and Dynamic Programming (DP) algorithm, respectively. In addition, two heuristic solutions with low complexity are also proposed to dynamically manage the use of spectrum with high levels of energy efficiency which is essential for IoT deployment.

In reference [8], the authors demonstrated how scenarios with stringent conditions such as high mobility, high frequency selective, low SNR and short-packet communications can benefit from the use of non-coherent mMIMO. Non-coherent mMIMO avoids the need of channel state information (CSI) to extract the benefits of mMIMO. This avoids the waste of resources due to the overhead created by the orthogonal signals, which is more severe in scenarios with stringent conditions. These types of scenarios are very common in Home IoT, since low battery powered devices will be the most common, such as a variety of domestic sensors and actuators. Furthermore, in short-packet communications, the use of CSI is proportionally greater due to shorter useful data as also happens in Home IoT, in which many devices send short bursts of data from time to time, thus benefiting from the use of non-coherent communications.

Thus, it has been shown that new interference management techniques, energy harvesting, and non-coherent communications can overcome some of the technical challenges inherent in IoT networks for Smart Home applications.

Conclusions:

In this article, we have covered some aspects considered in IoT Smart Home 5G. We have first made an introduction with the basics of the use of IoT in homes, aided by 5G technology and AI. Secondly, we have presented some already existing solutions from companies such as Google, Amazon, LifeSmart, and Renesas, which work over legacy networks and thus do not extract all the potential benefits of 5G IoT Smart Home. We have continued stating the main technical challenges in IoT deployment. We have defined some technologies that will support the use of IoT at homes, including massive multiple-input multiple-output, millimeter waves, ultra dense networks, small cells, and cognitive radio. We have talked about the TeamUp5G project which partly focuses on the research of new solutions that can make the massive deployment of IoT Smart Home feasible.

From the perspective of the authors, the following decade will see an increase in the appearance of products based on the referenced  technologies, which will bring the concept of IoT Smart Home based on 5G closer to reality.

References:
[1] K. E. Skouby y P. Lynggaard, «Smart home and smart city solutions enabled by 5G, IoT, AAI and CoT services», en 2014 International Conference on Contemporary Computing and Informatics (IC3I), nov. 2014, pp. 874-878, doi: 10.1109/IC3I.2014.7019822.
[2] H. Uddin et al., «IoT for 5G/B5G Applications in Smart Homes, Smart Cities, Wearables and Connected Cars», en 2019 IEEE 24th International Workshop on Computer Aided Modeling and Design of Communication Links and Networks (CAMAD), sep. 2019, pp. 1-5, doi: 10.1109/CAMAD.2019.8858455.
[3] S. Ahmadi, 5G NR: Architecture, Technology, Implementation, and Operation of 3GPP New Radio Standards. Academic Press, 2019.
[4] https://iot.ilifesmart.com/
[5] https://www.renesas.com/us/en/solutions.html
[6] https://teamup5g.webs.tsc.uc3m.es/
[7] D. A. Urquiza-Villalonga, J. Torres-Gómez, y M. J. Fernández-Getino-García, «Optimal Sensing Policy for Energy Harvesting Cognitive Radio Systems», IEEE Transactions on Wireless Communications, vol. 19, n.o 6, pp. 3826-3838, jun. 2020, doi: 10.1109/TWC.2020.2978818.
[8] M. J. Lopez-Morales, K. Chen-Hu and A. Garcia-Armada, “Differential Data-Aided Channel Estimation for Up-Link Massive SIMO-OFDM,” in IEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society, vol. 1, pp. 976-989, 2020, doi: 10.1109/OJCOMS.2020.3008634.

Vodafone and NEC Europe trial Open RAN technology with voice call

Vodafone and NEC Europe Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, in partnership with Altiostar, have jointly announced the first successful voice call made on an open virtual Radio Access Network (Open RAN) on Vodafone’s network in the Netherlands.

Open RAN technology holds promise and potential for next-generation wireless infrastructure. It’s being driven by innovation and open specifications from various consortiums (O-RAN, TIP Open RAN, and ONF). Today’s announcement demonstrates Vodafone’s strong commitment to sustaining its technological leadership, by bringing in such technological advances.

During the course of this trial, Vodafone and NEC intend to integrate solutions of leading Open RAN technology vendors, such as Altiostar [1.] and various other radio vendors, including NEC’s own 5G radio products, using commercial off the shelf (COTS) hardware from third parties, enabling Vodafone to transform its network to a software-based one suiting multiple deployment scenarios.

Note 1.  It’s somewhat surprising that Altiostar was the only OpenRAN software vendor to be mentioned. Altiostar is part-owned by Rakuten and must therefore be near the front of the queue for its OpenRAN vendors. Rakuten has said it would make its Open RAN platform technology available to other operators. If successful,  NEC and Altiostar will be involved in more deals as OpenRAN gathers momentum.  Separately, there is the Rakuten-NEC 5G Core network (based on 3GPP 5G core “vision” specs) that Rakuten also wants to sell to global network operators.

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

Rakuten Mobile, NEC Start Production of Open RAN 5G Radio Units

Image Credit: Rakuten Mobile

“We are proud to embark on this journey together with Vodafone that will transform mobile network economics, while deploying technology with greater flexibility, greater efficiencies, and more agility,” said Yogarajah Gopikrishna, GM at NEC Europe. “By integrating best of breed solutions, NEC, as an experienced Open RAN System Integrator, is committed to bring transformative change to the telecommunications space leveraging our long history and experience in mobile network solutions.”

“We are delighted to work together with NEC towards the first live Open RAN site,” said Ruud Koeyvoets, Vodafone Mobile Networks’ Director. “The introduction of the technology enables us to introduce new suppliers, such as Altiostar, giving us greater flexibility when rolling out our mobile network. We’re proud to be pioneering the development of Open RAN and will be monitoring the performance of this pilot.”

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

About Vodafone
VodafoneZiggo is a leading Dutch company that provides fixed, mobile and integrated communication and entertainment services to consumers and businesses. As of June 30, 2020 we have more than 5 million mobile, nearly 4 million TV, nearly 3.4 million fixed broadband internet and 2.4 million fixed telephony subscriptions. VodafoneZiggo is a joint venture by Liberty Global, the largest international TV and broadband internet company, and Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest telecommunication companies.

About NEC Europe Ltd.
NEC Europe Ltd. is a wholly owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, a leader in the integration of IT network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. NEC Europe Ltd. is building upon its heritage and reputation for innovation and quality by providing its expertise, solutions and services to a broad range of customers, from telecom operators to enterprises and the public sector. For additional information, please visit the NEC Europe Ltd. home page at:
http://uk.nec.com/

 

References:

https://www.nec.com/en/press/202010/global_20201019_04.html

Why It’s IMPORTANT: Telefonica, Rakuten MOU on Open RAN, 5G Core Network and OSS

ITU-R: Future Technology Trends for the evolution of IMT towards 2030 and beyond (including 6G)

Preface:

This author is truly astounded with all the buzz about 6G when neither 3GPP or ITU-R WP5D (or ITU-T) have completed their 5G specs. However, there is work progressing in ITU-R WP5D on the evolution of IMT in the next ten years with a report scheduled to be completed in June 2022.

6g Stock Photos, Royalty Free 6g Images | Depositphotos®

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

Future Technology Trends for the evolution of IMT towards 2030 and beyond:

Considering the successful accomplishments by ITU-R for the evolution of IMT-2000, IMT‑Advanced and IMT-2020, similar actions are proposed for the evolution of IMT towards 2030 and beyond. The approach taken for IMT‑Advanced evolution towards IMT-2020 was to start with the work on the Report ITU-R M.2320 entitled “Future technology trends of terrestrial IMT systems” (approved in 2014) to develop the evolution for IMT-Advanced (aka “4G”).

At its 34th meeting (19-26 February 2020), ITU‑R Working Party (WP) 5D decided to start study on future technology trends for the future evolution of IMT.  A preliminary draft new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS] will be developed and will consider related information from various external organizations and country/regional research programs.

The scope of the new Report ITU-R M.[IMT.FUTURE TECHNOLOGY TRENDS] focuses on the following aspects:

This Report provides a broad view of future technical aspects of terrestrial IMT systems considering the time frame up to 2030 and beyond. It includes information on technical and operational characteristics of terrestrial IMT systems, including the evolution of IMT through advances in technology and spectrally-efficient techniques, and their deployment.”

For the development of this report, WP 5D invites the views of External Organizations on future technology trends for terrestrial IMT systems, including but not limited to the motivation on driving factors such as new use cases, applications, capabilities, technology trends and enablers. These technical inputs are intended for the timeframe towards 2030 and beyond and are proposed to be significantly advanced and different from that of IMT-2020.

A few potential aspects of the new report (subject to change based on inputs from external organizations):

  • Motivation on driving factors for future technology trends towards 2030 and beyond
  • Driving factors in the design of future IMT technology
  • Technology Trends and Enablers
  • Technologies to enhance the radio interface
  • Technologies to enhance radio network performance and precision
  • Technologies for native AI based communication
  • Technologies to enhance service coverage
  • Technologies to enhance privacy and security
  • Technologies for integrated sensing and communication
  • Technologies for integrated terrestrial and non-terrestrial communications
  • Technologies for integrated access and super sidelink communications
  • Technologies to enhance adaptability and sustainability
  • Technologies for efficient spectrum utilization
  • Terminal technologies
  • Technologies to support a wide range of new use cases and applications
  • Summary and Conclusion
  • Acronyms, Terminology, Abbreviations

WP 5D plans to complete this study at the 41st WP 5D meeting in June 2022.

References:

https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-R/study-groups/rsg5/rwp5d/imt-2020/Pages/default.aspx

International Telecommunication Union launches 6G research

Posted in 6G

Huawei Executive: “China’s 5G user experience is fake, dumb and poor”-is it a con game?

At the opening ceremony of the China International Information and Communication Exhibition on October 14th, Ding Yun, executive director of Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd  said that China’s 5G user experience has three problems of “fake, dumb, and poor.”  In particular, some users have a 5G LOGO on their mobile phones, but they are not connected to the 5G network, cannot make 5G calls, or frequently switch signals, according to an article by Xia Xutian on the Sina Tech website.

How could a Huawei executive say such things about its home country which supposedly has very close ties, impact and influence on the world’s top telecom equipment supplier and #1 or #2 global smartphone vendor?  See Comment and Analysis below for more on this.

While China has built the world’s largest 5G network, it has a gap in experience, coverage, and commercial closed-loop operation, Ding Yun said. For comparison purposes, that the 5G downlink rate in South Korea is more than 600 megabits while the average in China is only a bit more than 270 megabits.  South Korea’s 5G user penetration at the end of September reached 25%, while China’s penetration level is only about 8%.

“Objectively speaking, I am also a 5G user. We have just completed the first phase of 5G construction today. It is indeed a great improvement over the 4G experience, but our network still has many problems. I use three words to sum it up: fake, dumb, bad/poor.”

Huawei's Ryan Ding is scathing about China's much lauded 5G rollout. (Source: Huawei)

Huawei’s Ryan Ding speaking at the China International Information and Communication Exhibition about 5G in China

Photo Credit: Huawei

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

What’s fake? In many cases the user’s smartphone has a 5G logo but no 5G coverage.  The experience is still 4G, but the display is 5G.  Those users are not connected to the 5G network and can’t make 5G calls.”

What is dumb? Some places in China have 5G signal coverage, but there is no 4G anchor station, so calls cannot be made.  He said the anchor point of 4G happens to be on the edge of multiple cells. The frequent handover of 4G and 5G results in a very poor user experience.

Ding Yun noted that although the number of 5G users in China has reached 150 million, the matching rate of networks, mobile phones and packages of 5G users is still very low. Many users have bought 5G packages, but their mobile phones are still 4G. There are also many users who have 5G mobile phones, but there is no 5G network coverage in their geographical area.

Ding Yun pointed out that operations and maintenance costs are also an unavoidable issue for 5G. At present, the peak rate of 5G is 25 times that of 4G, but 5G equipment (especially mmWave if and when deployed in China) will greatly increase the power consumption of 5G base stations, which poses a huge challenge to the entire power supply system (not to mention the huge electricity costs incurred by the 5G network operator).

“We have conducted a survey on the power consumption of China’s network. About 32% of the sites have insufficient power, and in some places, the battery capacity is also insufficient,” he added.

Ding Yun urged 5G network operators to:

1] build out 5G business ecosystems through innovative and differentiated applications;

2] reduce expenditure and optimize the TCO of operators from an overall perspective; and

3] look towards the future and upgrade the current operating platform as soon as possible to face potential problems such as the bill storm that 5G will bring.

In response to the 3rd objective, Huawei is using big data to connect user data, operational data, and terminal data, so that the machine, network, and applications can provide a better match.

In conclusion Ding Yun suggested the following:

  • To build the most successful 5G for thousands of industries, wireless network operators must first have a deep understanding of the industries they are targeting.  Different industries have different specific requirements for 5G in terms of latency, reliability/availability, throughput, security, etc. Therefore, to develop 5G industry applications, we first need to clarify the boundaries of capabilities, consolidate the ability base to serve thousands of industries, implement a replicable business model, and actively promote ecological construction, especially the development of application ecology.
  • As operators expand the construction of 5G industry applications from connection to connectivity + computing, and then to SLA (network) slicing, their corresponding business models will gradually shift from a direct sales model to a value sharing model that combines active integration and integration . Ultimately, the business model of 5G industry applications will develop in the direction of multi-path, closed-loop, and multi-win as operators choose their roles.
  • Unify (5G and other) standards and develop ecology. (What 5G standards is he referring to? There are none at this time).  The application development of the 5G industry is not only a matter for operators, but also requires the entire industry chain to “stretch it into one strand” and integrate the telecommunications industry with other industries to form industry standards. Only in this way can the development of 5G industry applications be accelerated.

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

Comment and Analysis:

Ding Yun’s remarks are a refreshing change from the usual self congratulatory speeches given by 5G network operators and equipment suppliers (like Huawei).  We are astonished he can be so honest with the Chinese government and China Communist Party having so much control over telecommunications and other industries in China.

Here are a few copy/paste (and translated from Chinese to English) Sina reader comments:

“I have not found a demand for 5G in the current application (environment)”

“Haha, so embarrassing[Yun Bei][Yun Bei]

“China’s 5G, got up early. Experience the night episode (where there is no 5G service to conserve electricity costs for carriers)”

“In Qingdao, there is basically no real 5G SA network. When only the SA mode is selected, the 5G signal is gone, and now the operator’s 5G speed limit is 500M bps”

“The conclusion is that I continue to use my 4G”

“The worst is a three-year contract with China Mobile”

 “The three major operators are too hateful and must be punished.”

“China network operators are deliberately lowering the 4G signal, forcing everyone to use 5G. Just this dirty trick, give his grandma a whistle.”

“No 5G signal coverage.”

“Fake, dumb, and bad are synonymous with China’s three major network operators.”

“What is the conclusion? For 5G, it’s better to wait first, don’t worry about changing phones [Hee hee], let alone changing pricing packages. It’s not very useful and costs money.[Yun Bei]

“The basic meaning is, the operator, burn me[doge]

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

Email from a very knowledgeable, anonymous Chinese 5G expert corroborates what Ding Yun said:

  • China claims they have 100 millions of 5G end point devices now.  Actually, those are mostly 4G handsets whose users were coerced to subscribe to a 5G package. The 3 major state owned network operators purposely lowered 4G-LTE speeds and forced subscribers change to the 5G package which only provides the previous 4G-LTE speeds.
  • China claims they have deployed 40,000 5G NR base stations. But without URLLC (ultra high reliability, ultra low latency) enhancements to 5GNR (3GPP Release 16) and mMTC (massive machine to machine communications) standards, 5G NR is not complete.  (3GPP has not set a date for the conclusion and evaluation of URLLC in the RAN performance testing which is supposed to be in the “frozen” 3GPP Release 16 set of specs)
  • There are no mmWave 5G base stations at all in China.
  • Currently China 5G  base stations consume huge amounts of energy, so the 3 major 5G network operators shut them down at night to reduce electricity bills.  Note the above readers comment, “Experience the night episode.”
  • Former minister of China Ministry of Finance and seated deputy minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) recently publicly expressed concerns about China’s 5G development and investments.  They said China had made bad 5G investments and that China has not yet balanced the 3G and 4G investments made by its network operators).
  • What kind of joke is this?

References:

https://finance.sina.com.cn/tech/2020-10-15/doc-iiznezxr6037613.shtml

https://t.cj.sina.com.cn/articles/view/1642471052/61e61e8c02000ynrk?cre=tianyi&mod=pcpager_tech&loc=1&r=9&rfunc=3&tj=none&tr=9

https://www.wsbtv.com/news/ap-explains-promise/KEKKYBDSVGE4W66CY24PMOYMJA/