U.S. telcos on 5G rollouts (“vague promises”), devices, IoT/smart cities

Here’s what AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon said about their 5G network rollouts, soon-to-be available devices, and Smart City plans at CES 2020:

AT&T on 5G Devices, Network Plans:

Carrier and media goliath AT&T talked about 5G devices at this year’s CES event in Las Vegas, NV.  Currently, AT&T only sells one 5G-capable phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus 5G, but AT&T plans to have 15 5G phones available for use on its low-band 5G spectrum during 2020 (see Comment in the box below this article). The Dallas-based service provider said that other mobile devices, such as laptops, tablets, and hotspots will also be available this year, but no exact number of products were provided.

AT&T’s low-band 5G network went live in December 2019 and is currently available in parts of 19 cities. The carrier’s other 5G network that is built on millimeter-wave and is referred to as 5G Plus is live in parts of 35 cities. AT&T said that it plans to cover 200 million people with its 5G network by this summer.

Sprint IoT, Smart City Updates:

Wireless provider Sprint could merge with T-Mobile any day now, but the Overland Park, Kansas-based carrier hasn’t slowed down in the meantime. Sprint took to CES to launch several new offerings and update the market on its IoT plans.

Sprint unveiled its Certainty network design model, which unites its entire business wireline portfolio, including its wireless, IoT, and security solutions. The carrier also launched IoT Factory 2.0, a dedicated platform that solution providers and businesses can use to build custom IoT solutions for small-to-mid sized businesses in the food service, healthcare and agriculture space.

Chris Brydon, Regional Vice President Sales, Sprint Business Northwest Region via LinkedIn:

We believe hashtagIoT has the power to improve people’s lives. Here’s a story illustrating how an IoT application can be so much more than just a cold, lifeless piece of tech. Watch the very human difference it makes in the lives of a man and his family. https://lnkd.in/gdyeT9N hashtagWorksForBusiness

Sprint updated the market on its Smart City initiative on Tuesday. Specifically in Georgia, the provider said that in 2020 “micropositioning” technology, which combines next-generation wireless technologies and small cells will be installed within city infrastructure in areas to enable real-world navigation for autonomous machines, more connected sensors and IoT solution testing in its innovation Center for solutions such as refrigeration and monitoring, and security robots in Peachtree Corners’ Town Hall. Sprint also has plans to integrate additional Smart City technology in Greenville, South Carolina, and Arizona State University.

T-Mobile Talks 5G, Avoids Sprint Mega-Merger Talk:

T-Mobile didn’t address the main topic on everyone’s mind when thinking about the Magenta-colored carrier: its in-progress $26 billion mega-merger with wireless competitor Sprint. Instead, the “Un-Carrier” took to the show to highlight its 5G connectivity.

In a surprising move last month, the Bellevue, Wash.-based provider launched its nationwide 5G network using 600 MHz spectrum acquired in the recent incentive auction, as well as two 5G phones capable of using its 600 MHz spectrum. T-Mobile originally planned to launch the network in 2020.

 Verizon 5G Devices and Ultra Wideband Availability:

AT&T’s biggest competitor, Verizon, also came to CES armed with 5G updates. Compared to AT&T’s 15 devices, Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon vowed to have 20 5G-capable devices in 2020 and said these devices would be competitively priced anywhere between $600-$800. Currently, Verizon has four 5G-capable smartphones. Subscribers interested in 5G will have to pay an additional $10 on top of their current unlimited data plan, Verizon said, but the company didn’t name any specific device manufacturers.

Verizon’s ultra wideband 5G network is available in parts of 30 cities today, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, as well as Hoboken, N.J. Des Moines, Iowa; and Providence, RI.  Please see Comment in the box below this article.

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Mike Dano of Lightreading wrote that AT&T and Verizon made “vague (uncertain?) promises” for their 5G mmWave networks:

in a New Year-themed post, AT&T’s Scott Mair wrote that “you’re in for an exhilarating ride on the AT&T 5G network in 2020 and beyond,” but he did not offer any specifics about what the carrier will do with its “5G+” network. Then, during a subsequent appearance at an investor event this week, AT&T CFO John Stephens said only that the operator’s 5G network would “continue to improve and grow.”

Similarly, Verizon touted its “vision” for its network in 2020 in a release issued this week, but said only that customers should “expect more great innovations and technology advancements from us in 2020 including a more aggressive build out of our 5G network.” At that same investor event, Verizon’s Ronan Dunne said “we will be continuing to drive hard” in 5G, but didn’t offer any specifics.

The bottom line here is that neither operator is offering any concrete information on the number of cities, cell sites or customers it plans to touch with mmWave 5G in 2020. As Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown writes, it’s time for these operators to show their hands.

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From a marketwatch.com article titled: The long-promised ‘Year of 5G’ arrives with more promises and little 5G

For years, telecommunications companies and gadget makers have invaded CES to talk about how big 5G was going to be in 2020.

At CES 2020 though the promise was still unfulfilled as the faster wireless service is still spotty and not entirely what was envisioned.

Without the premier connections that were promised, it is questionable how many consumers will buy the more expensive 5G-enabled devices that were introduced at the giant trade show this year, even though the same glowing predictions of a new future were readily available throughout Las Vegas.

5G promises faster data speeds, a reduction in lag time, and greater density for smart devices, all things that could eventually be catalysts for futuristic applications like autonomous driving and connected cities. More immediately, carriers are focused on exposing businesses and customers to those faster data speeds, where and when they can.

Verizon Communications Inc. expects to launch 20 devices with access to 5G by the end of the year, up from the seven that currently exist, according to Tami Erwin, who heads the company’s business group. AT&T Inc. mobility executive Kevin Petersen told MarketWatch at CES that accessibility will also be a key theme in the year ahead.

T-Mobile US claimed that it conducted a nationwide 5G rollout at the end of last year, providing access over a greater area but at slower data speeds than competitors. Verizon and AT&T both plan to add new cities to their coverage later this year, with AT&T still expecting to have nationwide coverage this year also.

Bob O’Donnell, president of TECHnalysis Research, cautions that these upgrades won’t happen right away due to some technical aspects of the 5G rollout. The more exciting type of 5G, millimeter-wave spectrum, primarily works outdoors and on campuses where it’s been specifically deployed. Sub-6 5G service works indoors and offers some benefits in speed and latency, but it’s a less dramatic step up from the 4G service consumers have come to know.

“The pieces are coming together but the forward-looking benefits are still a few years off,” O’Donnell said. Part of the issue is that 5G currently runs on top of 4G, rather than in a stand alone manner. Moving to stand alone 5G requires that carriers “refarm” spectrum frequencies from 4G to 5G, but they’re hesitant to make that big leap right away while most customers are still using 4G connections and while few phones support 5G.

“That’s like opening a 10-lane highway only for people with electric cars,” he said, since only a small minority of drivers would have access.

Making 5G a reality is a bit of a “chicken and egg” scenario, according to O’Donnell, given that carriers thinking about moving away from 4G want there to be enough devices in the market to take advantage of the new wireless standard, and consumers want to make sure 5G networks are broad enough before investing in a mobile device that works on the network.

The device part of the equation showed signs of progress at CES, with connected PCs being one notable category. Lenovo Group Ltd. announced it will launch in the spring the Yoga 5G two-in-one device, which it says is the first 5G PC. Always-connected PCs let customers rely on cellular connectivity rather than hunt for WiFi networks, and the 5G products shown by Lenovo, HP Inc. HPQ, and others offer faster speeds than 4G ones currently on the market.

Those devices are more expensive than competitive gadgets without access to the technology, though, and that will most likely continue to be the case. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. will be holding a smartphone launch in early February, where the company is expected to introduce a family of 5G Galaxy devices, and Apple is thought to be planning a 5G iPhone rollout later this year, with analysts expecting the 5G versions of those popular smartphones to carry a higher price tag.

Instinet analyst Jeffrey Kvaal expects “a large increase” in 5G unit sales for 2020, up from a small base of sales last year, but he thinks most of these sales will come at the expense of 4G devices, rather than a rush of upgrades. He estimates that 5G could boost a phone’s retail price by at least $75.

Today’s devices tend to be in the $1,000-plus range, but consumers should “start to see prices coming down, which ultimately helps the adoption curve,” as more mid-tier devices come to market this year equipped with 5G capabilities. Verizon’s consumer chief executive Ronan Dunne said at a Citi investor conference earlier this week that there could be 5G devices priced below $600 by the end of the year.

AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens told investors at the Citi conference that trying to predict 5G unit sales is missing the point a bit, since handset sales are “not a profitable enterprise for a business like ours.” The company sees various new service revenue opportunities from being able to compete “in the geographies where our service has gotten much better.”

The promise of 5G goes well beyond smartphones, and executives pointed out that the services that have developed in the past decade likely wouldn’t have existed without the move to 4G.

“If someone was watching a streaming video on a connection 10 years ago, you would’ve swatted the phone out of their hand and said they were going to use up the whole monthly data plan in 13 seconds,” Qualcomm’s  vice president of engineering John Smee told MarketWatch. Now, streaming over wireless is commonplace. Verizon’s Erwin noted that the proliferation of ride hailing also wouldn’t have been possible without the upgrade in data speeds.

AT&T’s Petersen thinks it’s too soon to know what the killer use case for 5G will be, but he’s upbeat about its ability to provide upgraded experiences in gaming, translation and medicine. A reduction in latency, or lag time, could create better responsiveness for gamers and reduce awkward pauses when people are using mobile devices to translate from one language to another in real time. Doctors could more easily monitor patients remotely after procedures by using connected devices.

Over time, the expected benefits of 5G and the growth of accessible smart devices could change the way consumers and workers think about doing data-heavy tasks. Smee even suggested that it could replace the need for Wi-Fi for most users.

“If you think of your cable modem or your DSL and you look at the rates you get compared to the 5G data rate, all of a sudden wireless is the preferred medium and that’s a big game changer versus the idea that you have to have wired connectivity to have high data rates,” he said.

References:

https://www.crn.com/slide-shows/networking/ces-2020-top-telecom-carriers-talk-5g-new-devices-and-iot

https://www.lightreading.com/mobile/5g/heres-why-it-might-be-time-to-worry-about-mmwave-5g/a/d-id/756706?

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ces-2020-the-long-promised-year-of-5g-arrives-with-more-promises-and-little-5g-2020-01-10

Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley: Lots of Progress in Many Areas

Introduction:

Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley was held May 7-9, 2018 at the Santa Clara Convention Center.  In addition to highlighting the many new technologies deployed, practicalities such as financing, procurement, stakeholder engagement and program management were also discussed. For example, projects become a much easier sell if an agency can find alternative funding methods.  Panelists  outlined five of those methods: Monetizing infrastructure, Revenue sharing, Monetizing data, Fees and fare collection, Cost savings.

This article presents just a few highlights of this outstanding conference which should be a must attend for city officials everywhere.

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Summary of Selected Sessions:

May 7th Workshop: Industry Exchange: Smart City Technology and Planning Standards; Moderator: Zack Huhn – Founder, Venture Smarter

Standards and guidance documents play a critical role in describing good practice and clearly set out what needs to be done to comply with specified outcomes. They help in the planning, design, manufacturing, procurement and management processes to ensure goods and services supplied are fit for purpose.  This workshop discussed the emerging IEEE standard on developing a technology and process framework for planning a smart city.

IEEE PROJECT 2784 – Guide for the Technology and Process Framework for Planning a Smart City

This guide will provide a framework that outlines technologies and the processes for planning the evolution of a smart city. Smart Cities and related solutions require technology standards and a cohesive process planning framework for the use of the internet of things to ensure interoperable, agile, and scalable solutions that are able to be implemented and maintained in a sustainable manner. This framework provides a methodology for municipalities and technology integrators to use as a tool to plan for innovative and technology solutions for smart cities.

Approval Date: 28-Sep-2017 PAR Expiration Date: 31-Dec-2021 Status: PAR for a New IEEE Standard 1.1 Project Number: P2784 1.2 Type of Document: Guide

“We have been working to create agile, secure, interoperable and financially sustainable technology standards and planning guidelines for municipal leaders to support the vision of building smart cities and connected communities – regardless of socioeconomic or geographical barriers.” — ZACK HUHN

–>Much more in a forthcoming article about this IEEE Smart Cities Standards Project.

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May 8th Panel Session- Transportation Investments: the Building Blocks for Tomorrow’s City

Transportation officials addressed the progress city, regional and state agencies are making towards planning for the future of mobility through investments in transportation infrastructure. With objectives such as increasing transportation options, enhancing the quality of life and improving sustainability, practitioners will address how planning, coordination with other departments to bring a range of services, creative financing and public-private partnerships that modern mobility possible.

Moderator
Jason Goldman – Vice President, ITSA

Speakers
Roger Millar – Secretary, Washington State Department of Transportation
Stefano Landi – Global Sales, Business Development & Partnerships, Verizon
Dan McElhinney – District 4 Chief Deputy District Director, CalTrans

Some characteristics and attributes of smart cities are:  intelligent lighting and energy, smart traffic management, traffic data collection, driver aware parking, public safety, and intersection control through safety analytics. 

Verizon is partnering with cities to provide connectivity solutions including small cells, fiber backhaul, 4G/5G/WiFi, and NB-IoT. 

CALTRANS District 4 (SF Bay Area) is trying to control traffic congestion by ramp metering which is key element of the state’s Transportation Management System (TMS).  They are also working on Smart Corridors like Contra Costa I-80.

CALTRANS/CHP goal is to clear major highway accidents withing <=90 minutes of occurrence.  That objective was achieved in 75% of such incidents in Fiscal Year 2015/2016 (the latest year for which figures were available).

Somewhat surprisingly, CALTRANS is putting in a lot more fiber optic communications near roads and highways- mainly because of its reliability and future proof bandwidth capacity.   

A vision of the CALTRANS Intelligent Transportation System is depicted in the following figure:

Image result for pic of CALTRANS Smart Transportation systems

Image courtesy of CALTRANS

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Future Ready — Growing an Innovation Ecosystem in your Community — Learn from Experienced Practitioners:

Through governance, regulation and investment, the public sector can create an environment in which innovation occurs. Cities, counties, states and other units offer access to technology and data, set policies that support startups through simplified regulations and licensing, and host incubators and accelerators. In this session, you will hear from practitioners from the San Diego region, the state of California and an Australian NGO about their efforts to create a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Moderator
Emma Hendry – CEO, Hendry

Speakers
Marty Turock – Strategic Projects Consultant, Clean Tech San Diego
Erik Stokes – Manager, Energy Deployment and Market Facilitation Office California Energy Commission
Johanna Pittman – Program Director, CityConnect

It seems like the city of San Diego has made tremendous progress in intelligent clean tech and micro-grids, which may have replaced the “smart grid” so many experts were talking about several years ago.

Meanwhile, the California Energy Commission established BlueTechValley as part of a major $60 million initiative Commission launched about 18 months ago to really try to create a state-wide ecosystem to support clean energy entrepreneurship across the state.

“As part of this initiative, we created four regional innovation clusters to manage a network of incubator-type services that can encourage clean tech entrepreneurs in the region and really try to help make what can be a very tough road towards commercialization a little bit easier,” Erik Stokes said.

“BlueTechValley and their partners were selected to be the Central Valley cluster. A big reason for that was their strength and expertise in the food and agricultural sector,” he explained. One of the focus areas of the incubator is to find areas in farming to save costs and minimize greenhouse gases. “We really want to focus on those technologies that can help both reduce water use, as well as energy use,” Stokes added.   

In a private chat, Erike opined that a lot of the “smart grid” platform vendors had migrated their offerings to data analytics for energy consumption and prediction of future usage trends.

Future Ready Cities — The Robust Mobile Network and Why You Need it Now:    

Cities depend on mobile networks for day-to-day operations and delivery of citizen services, and this dependence is growing rapidly. In this session, mobile operators and local government officials will address the critical role of IoT applications for not only transportation, public safety and sustainability, but also for stimulating entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth.

Speakers
David Witkowski – Executive Director of Civic Technologies, Joint Venture Silicon Valley
Peter Murray – Executive Director, Dense Networks
Rebecca Hunter – External Affairs, Corporate Development & Strategy, Crown Castle
Geoff Arnold – CTO, Verizon Smart Communities
Dolan Beckel – Smart City Lead, City of San Jose

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Closing Quotes:

“We need to be talking about smart regions, not smart cities” -Joy Bonaguro, Chief Data Officer, City of San Francisco.

“Most cities measure performance and miss the boat on measuring effectiveness. You can quantify subjective well-being and should” – Shanna Draheim, Michigan Municipal League Policy Director.

“The idea that we have to disrupt to move forward has poisoned our thinking. We should not discount incremental steps toward a solution. We should ask ourselves – what are the small changes we can make that over time lead to significant outcomes?” – Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities – a public interest initiative helping cities that want fast, affordable, reliable broadband.

“The first-ever Smart Cities Readiness Hub at Smart Cities Week Silicon Valley paired cities that are starting their efforts with those who have already blazed a trail — and all gained useful insights.” – Smart Cities Council.  Watch the video here.

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About Smart Cities Council:

The Smart Cities Council, envisions a world where digital technology and intelligent design are harnessed to create smart, sustainable cities with high-quality living and high-quality jobs. A leader in smart cities education, the Council is comprised of more than 120 partners and advisors who have generated US$2.7 trillion in annual revenue and contributed to more than 11,000 smart cities projects. 

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Addendum:  Smart Cities Market:

Global Smart Cities industry was valued at approximately $343 billion in 2016 and is anticipated to grow at a rate of more than 24.4% from 2017-2025 according to Research for Markets. The  increasing demands for integrated security, safety systems improving public safety and the rising demand for system integrators are the key drivers for this market. Recent technological advancements in smart cities can also be included as a key driver.  

Some of the important manufacturers involved in the Smart Cities market are Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ericsson, General Electronics, Delphi, IBM Co., CISCO Systems Inc., Schneider Electric SE, and Accenture Plc. Those companies are investing in smart grid technologies. A major part of this is going into upgrading the outdated energy infrastructure with new and advanced infrastructure. Acquisitions and effective mergers are some of the strategies adopted by the key manufacturers.

Smart Cities Market 2018 Research Report Overview by Top Key Players, Opportunities, Key Drivers, Application and Regional Outlook To 2025

 

 

 



 

US Ignite adds 5 New Communities to Smart Gigabit Communities Program

U.S. Ignite’s smart cities project, called the Smart Gigabit Communities program, is a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded program that provides assistance to areas looking to advance gigabit technologies. The nonprofit group’s five new participants are Red Wing, Minn.; Eugene-Springfield, Ore.; Lexington, Ky.; Lincoln, Neb.; and the San Francisco Bay area.

Image result for pic of US Ignite smart city

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Backgrounder:

U.S. Ignite stimulates the creation of next-generation applications and services that leverage advanced networking technologies to build the foundation for smart communities, including cities, rural areas, regions, and states. The nonprofit organization helps to accelerate new wired and wireless networking advances from research to prototype to full-scale smart community and interconnected national deployments.

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U.S. Ignite said in a press release that each of the communities will begin participating by using their new SGC support to find answers to civic challenges through gigabit enabled apps, tools and other solutions. At the same time, they will also be expected to contribute their insights and technologies with fellow SGC communities. The sharing is designed to create a network for smart city collaboration, a group that now includes 25 national and international communities.

Representing leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area, executive director of the City Innovate Foundation, Kamran Saddique, said that the Bay Area’s participation represents significant support for local cities in developing advanced infrastructure and solving common social problems.

“Smart communities and the Internet of Things are a set of modern digital technologies, civic innovations and social changes that have come together to create the opportunity to drive fundamental changes in government, business and society,” Saddique said in a statement. “Our participation in the US Ignite SGC network will help us to leverage these technologies to enhance the quality of life for the San Francisco Bay Area.”

The City Innovate Foundation is responsible for a number of civic tech and smart city programs that involve the cities San Francisco, Oakland, San Leandro and West Sacramento. Two of its major initiatives include SuperPublic, a Bay Area smart city innovation lab, and the national Startup in Residence program that coordinates partnerships between cities and tech startups.

An SGC requirement is that all cities that join the program must be investing in gigabit connectivity. San Francisco is preparing for a $1.3 billion citywide municipal internet network that will spread high-speed connectivity throughout the city.

Like San Francisco, the other four recently added communities expressed a similar eagerness and optimism to receive SGC’s support. Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said he was “ecstatic” to join the network and looks forward to “unparalleled innovations in the coming months and years,” while in Eugene, Oregon, Mayor Lucy Vinis said she was “thrilled” and expected gigabit connectivity in the community to drive education, healthcare, transportation and advanced manufacturing.

In Lincoln, Nebraksa, Mayor Chris Beutler is counting on the smart city support to bolster its own gigabit internet service that is coming to the city by 2019. A partnership with the internet service provider Allo is expected to connect gigabit fiber to more than 105,000 residences and 20,000 businesses and government offices.

“This public-private partnership creates the digital infrastructure that gives our entrepreneurs and students high-speed internet, supercomputer access to researchers and other innovators across the nation to build next-generation technology,” Beutler said in a statement.

Reference:

https://www.us-ignite.org/news/us-ignite-inc-adds-new-communities-to-growing-smart-gigabit-communities-program/

 

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