Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Switching to businesses rather than consumers is the future of 5G

A newly released poll shows that a significantly larger percentage of wireless operators conducted 5G tests this year — and that they are increasingly focused on enterprise and industrial applications for the next-generation systems. Ericsson's latest 5G Readiness Survey, conducted in July, showed that 78 percent of respondents were involved in 5G trials this year, up from 32 percent last year. Participating executives also suggested that increasing saturation of the consumer 5G market prompted companies to shift to other markets. Although 52 percent of respondents planned for the consumer segment, 56 percent targeted business applications and 58 percent sought industrial applications. A majority of poll participants also said that the Internet of Things — and related collaboration with third-parties — would be critical to the development of 5G. “In the 2016 survey, 90 percent of the respondents pointed to consumers as the main segment in their 5G business planning," Ericsson 5G commercialization head Thomas Noren said in a statement. "This year, it is an even split between three segments and operators have identified business opportunities not only in the consumer segment but also with enterprise users and specialized industries.” The survey signaled that enterprise and industrial systems would be among the ways to monetize 5G, along with higher prices for new services, migration from 4G systems and increased market share. Respondents identified the media and entertainment and automotive and public transport sectors as the most attractive for 5G applications, but said health care and energy and utilities could also see significant interest. The report featured responses from 50 executives, in either business or technical roles, for 37 global operators with publicly announced 5G ambitions.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Qualcomm and the FCC

Qualcomm was granted FCC authorization to conduct experiments using a small 5G R&D development and demonstration network at 4.4-4.94 GHz in its hometown of San Diego.

Specifically, the location is within a 0.5-mile radius of Qualcomm’s campus in the Sorrento Valley area of San Diego. The authorization is effective until Oct. 1, 2019. The application lists 30 mobile units and four base stations to be used in a test network that will use a single TDD 100 MHz channel bandwidth. Qualcomm explained that the requested frequency range of 4.4-4.94 GHz is for technology development purposes only and not targeted for future nonfederal wireless communication deployment in the U.S.

Qualcomm said the network supported by the experimental license is critical for the company to develop, validate and then demonstrate 5G technology wireless communications systems. Engineers designed the network to generate the smallest amount of RF interference to incumbents in the requested frequency range while also providing the RF coverage area required for engineering development and showcasing advanced wireless technology for indoor, outdoor, static and mobility user environments, the company said. “The network is required to support both conventional passive antennas configurations as well as advanced beam forming technologies that will be utilized by 5G networks,” the application states.

The network as described uses four fixed sectors to provide the RF coverage area to a maximum of 30 mobile devices anywhere within the 0.5-mile coverage area. Three of the locations use one directional antenna while the third site has two directional antennas. The mobile devices can be used in static locations, in vehicles or in human mobility scenarios, according to the application. Most mobile testing will occur at ground level, but there’s a chance that some mobile may be located inside buildings exceeding one story.

RELATED: Apple, Facebook and more lobby for expanded unlicensed use of 6 GHz band for 5G devices.

Qualcomm is part of a broader coalition that is calling on the FCC to open up the 6 GHz band to unlicensed operations and allow them to bring faster service, lower latency and more pervasive coverage to consumers. They note that the timing couldn’t be better: the IEEE 802.11ax Task Group recently voted to extend coverage to the 6 GHz band, expanding 802.11ax from 5 GHz into new gigabit-enabled channels, and consumers will rely more heavily on Wi-Fi in the future to power new use cases. About 30 entities signed the filing, all agreeing that Part 15 access to the 5925-7125 MHz band (aka the 6 GHz band) is essential in meeting demand for the next generation of wireless broadband services.

The companies span the consumer equipment, internet media, software, cloud, semiconductor, enterprise, service provider and rural connectivity industries. Their proposal is in response to the FCC’s call for comments on expanding flexible use in midband spectrum between 3.7 and 24 GHz.

5G CHINESE strategy seeks comments

China’s Ministry of Industries and Information Technology (MIIT) issued a public consultation request dated June 5 seeking comment on plans to use the 3300-3600 MHz and 4800-5000 MHz bands for 5G, with 3300-3400 MHz limited to indoor use.

The 700 MHz spectrum is not part of this plan, but analysts at Jefferies said they don’t think that’s a cause for alarm. In a June 6 research note to investors, the analysts said they believe this consultation’s purpose is to ensure these currently available spectra are “truly clean and free.” For the 700 MHz spectrum, since it has been allocated to the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) for broadcasting purposes, it is technically “unavailable” or considered “not free,” they said. “We continue to believe that Unicom will be able to reach an agreement with SAPPRFT, which will give it access to the latter’s 700 MHz spectrum in exchange for an equity stake in Unicom,” the analysts wrote. “The MIIT will then re-allocate the 700 MHz spectrum that has been freed up by SAPPRFT for 5G applications.” Including the 100 MHz of spectrum restricted for providing indoor coverage, China’s MIIT plans to allocate a total of 500 MHz of spectrum for 5G, they noted. “Although this is only similar in total spectrum size to the current 2G/3G/4G allocation for the three Chinese telcos, which is 507 MHz, the major difference is that the 5G spectrum being planned is contiguous spectrum (300 MHz contiguous between 3300 and 3600 MHz, and 200 MHz contiguous between 4800-5000 MHz), while the current allocation is split into small parcels between 800 MHz and 2600 MHz,” the analysts said. “The ITU suggested a minimum contiguous spectrum size of 100 MHz for genuine 5G services, and it is very difficult for most countries to find such spectrum at a low frequency level (below 3 GHz). 

That is why 5G will, in most cases, take place at a higher frequency level and become far more expensive to build than 4G networks. In Europe, regulators decided that mobile operators will obtain exclusive access to the 700 MHz band (694-790 MHz) by June 30, 2020, coinciding with the expected deployment of 5G networks in Europe. Member states may, however, delay the reallocation by up to two years, but only in duly justified cases set out in the decision, according to the European Council of the European Commission. In the U.S., the FCC last year voted unanimously to make spectrum bands above 24 GHz available for 5G, opening up nearly 11 GHz of high-frequency spectrum for mobile and fixed wireless broadband—3.85 GHz of licensed spectrum and 7 GHz of unlicensed spectrum. 

RELATED: T-Mobile presses FCC to change 3.5 GHz framework to better align with 5G global requirements Regulations aside, T-Mobile USA more recently declared it’s going to be using the 600 MHz spectrum it won in the incentive auction for 5G, as well as the 200 MHz of spectrum it has in the 28/39 GHz bands. CTO Neville Ray said 5G can be deployed on any frequency, and in the future, all spectrum will be 5G spectrum running across low, mid and high-band. Interestingly, T-Mobile also has been pressing the FCC to revisit the 3.5 GHz CBRS band to make it better aligned in the U.S. with global spectrum for 5G. Executives visited with the FCC recently to explain that the 3.5 GHz spectrum is a core band for 5G deployment around the world and that the U.S. will miss a huge opportunity if it doesn’t create a structure aligned with global 5G requirements.

Crown Castle big time buy banking on 5G by spending $7.1 B

Crown Castle gets ‘crown jewel’ Lightower for $7.1B With a greatly expanded network, the company should be able to help its wireless customers prepare for 5G.

The reports were right on the money. Crown Castle International (CCI) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Lightower—technically LTS Group Holdings LLC—for approximately $7.1 billion in cash. That Crown Castle was considering the acquisition was first reported by Bloomberg.
Lightower owns or has rights to approximately 32,000 route miles of fiber located primarily in metro markets in the Northeast, including Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Following completion of the transaction, Crown Castle will own or have rights to approximately 60,000 route miles of fibre, with a presence in all of the top 10 and 23 of the top 25 metro markets.

That will make the company one of the larger fibre network operators. “We are excited about the addition of Lightower given its attractive fibre footprint and the value we believe it will create for our shareholders,” Crown Castle CEO Jay Brown in a statement. He added that Lightower’s footprint in top metro markets in the Northeast will be valuable for supporting small cell deployments by Crown Castle customers.

Crown Castle is widely understood to have both AT&T and Verizon as customers. The company bought several thousand of AT&T’s towers in 2013. Wireless carriers’ evolution to 5G technology will include using millimeter-wave spectrum that is less robust than centimeter-wave spectrum traditionally used in wireless communications. In order to provide reliable coverage, millimetre-wave systems will require far more base stations—small cells—than today’s 4G systems need.

The response of financial analysts has been generally favorable. Wells Fargo Securities refers to Lightower as a “crown jewel.” Analysts there say the deal will underscore the value of Crown Castle competitor Zayo, which will still be three times larger than the combination of Crown Castle and Lightower, and which also has a solid presence in dense urban markets where small cells are going to be needed in great numbers.

New Street has been skeptical that supporting small cells would be anywhere near as lucrative as the macro tower business, but believes the small cell portion of Crown Castle’s business will be small enough a portion of the company to give Crown Castle “the benefit of the doubt.”

Deutsche Bank Markets Research, like Wells Fargo and New Street, was pleased to see Crown Castle’s estimates that the deal will be more accretive than most previously expected. Crown Castle anticipates closing the deal by the end of this year.

Project Loon is perfectly timed for 5G?

Google expects Project Loon to be profitable in the next couple of years, stating that “helping out” is important “but that’s not the reason we exist”.

Project Loon, part of Google’s Alphabet X division, was launched in 2012, and uses helium filled balloons to provide 120 Mb/s Full Duplex broadband internet access to some of the world’s most remote locations or in cases of disaster, (to be installed over Puerto Rica specifically) with another example providing similar symmetrical broadband connectivity to areas in Peru, South America.

During trials in the country, Alastair Westgarth, head of Project Loon, said his team was able to turn on a live network, covering a landmass the size of Switzerland, to provide internet access to thousands of people that were disconnected after severe flooding. In doing this, the Google Loon team worked with Spanish telco, Telefonica to provide access to areas in which the operator was not present, while both collaborated on spectrum.

Westgarth opened up on how exactly the partnership model with operators worked. He said when the unit first started out, “people”, presumably referring to operators, “were quite nervous” Project Loon was Google’s attempt to try to build an over the top network. “We were absolutely not doing that,” he said. “We’re not our own MNO, we’re not even our own ISP.” 

He said Project Loon was now talking to “dozens and dozens” of telcos and operators around the world, and there was a long-term vision to build a durable business and an eventual revenue driver. “We exist to build a durable business model, and underneath that if we can help people and on occasion provide relief during a strenuous situation, a disaster situation, that’s great,” he said. “But we believe in the next couple of years we will be flying and providing service in a commercial context in partnership with the operators.” During the interview, Westgarth also opened up on how artificial intelligence technology would be leveraged further to control and monitor the balloons in flight at 20 km altitude.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Derailing the 5G opportunity in the UK after BREXIT

The Head of Ofcom, Sharon White, has come out swinging against providers' legal challenges to its spectrum auction proposals – accusing them of derailing Britain’s “golden opportunity” to take a lead in 5G. 

Both Three and EE have launched separate judicial reviews against the UK comms watchdog over its forthcoming auction for the 2.3GHz band, which will be used for 4G, and the 3.4GHz band, identified as central to the rollout of 5G. 

The auction had been due to begin at the end of this year, but instead the courts will fight it out over whether the 37 per cent cap on spectrum is guaranteed (which is Three's concern) and whether the separate bands ought to be auctioned separately so the cap doesn't apply to the 3.4GHz band (BT/EE's objection). In a letter to the Financial Times, White said: "The courts have agreed to fast-track litigation, but the benefits for mobile users will inevitably be delayed. We planned to complete the auction this year. "Now we will be in court in December. We believe that auctioning some 5G airwaves early would allow companies to start the vital groundwork to make 5G a reality as soon as possible." 

She noted that the UK government is putting up "significant funding" for 5G networks.
However, as one well-placed source remarked, Ofcom could well be playing up the potential 5G delay for "politically expedient" reasons. 

It is attacking operators over the perception they are delaying "innovative" new technology. "This isn't really about 5G," he said. "Ofcom is understandably fed-up with being litigated against." He said: "Those bands were only paired because they became available from the Ministry of Defence at the same time. 

When Ofcom decided to bundle them in 2014 it made sense, but since then things have changed." Because the EU scuppered the proposed £10.5bn merger between O2 and Three in 2016 - the two smallest providers - ensuring each provider has a fair amount of spectrum by introducing a cap became more of a priority. Had that merger gone ahead, Three and O2 combined would have had a 29 per cent share of the spectrum (as opposed to 15 per cent and 14 per cent respectively), making a spectrum cap less imperative. Without any spectrum cap, Three would not have begun a legal challenge and EE/BT would not have launched its own counter judicial review.

"The regulator has dug itself into a hole, as a consequence of the EU's and its own insistence over having four companies in the market," said the source. "It might be wise to revisit the decision to bundle the auction together, so we can get a move on with 4G and return to 5G later." He added that any delays to 5G are not really important, as that band of spectrum won't be available until 2020, and the extent to which the UK is in a position to become a world leader is "highly questionable". Kane Mumford, journalist at Policy Tracker, agreed that the hold-up to 5G is being over-egged.
"Internally, I can say Ofcom is more sceptical about 5G than Ofcom's Sharon White makes out in [the article]" he said in a tweet.

Update:
An Ofcom spokesman got in touch to say: “This is absolutely about 5G. It is very regrettable that the auction will now be delayed by this litigation, which will harm consumers, businesses and ultimately the UK economy.”

Monday, 25 September 2017

5G will make every industry and every part of our lives better.

At the San Feancisco Mobile World Congress Americas 2017 during the keynote session on the first day there was Meredith Baker, the president of the CTIA, taking the stage to talk about 5G and its many saving graces.

She explained that “5G will make every industry and every part of our lives better.” That seems very plausible considering the fact that 5G is 100 times faster, supports 100 times the number of devices and is five times as responsive as 4G.

To put it into context, 5G will introduce entirely new immersive forms of education. So we’ll be living in a new world where field trips won’t need permission slips or long bus rides – they can happen easily, instantly, and virtually (although our children will likely miss the fresh air). But in light of some of the recent hurricanes that have hit – and devastated – Texas and Florida, Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC, reminded the audience that “wireless connectivity was a lifeline for people affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma.

Many people were found because of wireless calls, like the 14-year-old girl who asked Siri on her iPhone to call the Coast Guard.” This is a very interesting point and one that may not always get the most attention when it comes to discussions about 5G.

It's extremely important, As Ajit Pai said, “For public safety, wireless communications are critically important in the recovery process.” I agree and would suggest that St. Martin and other islands hardest hit could be the first to take advantage of 5G as they rebuild their cellular phone network infrastructure. The key to making 5G’s benefits a reality will, of course, come down to how well devices perform on the new network.

According to GSMA’s 2017 Global Mobile Trends Report, early 5G deployments will focus primarily on high-bandwidth applications as an extension to 4G, notably 4K ultra-HD video and VR/AR apps. Aa a Q2 2017 State of Mobile Device Performance and Health Report noted, crashing apps are a common reality in today’s 4G world. So I can only imagine that apps may initially experience some lags and crash when 5G is first launched.

It is hard to predict the innovations that will arise from 5G. What impact will having faster internet from your tethered phone then get from your office network? IT administrators could lose control of the gateway where many critical security measures are enforced.

Employees will be able to move and send large files faster to the cloud than to local storage servers. 5G is going to unleash a myriad of security issues, not least among them controlling data flows. This is something data governance and compliance professionals should start thinking about today.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Charter partners with Samsung over 5G strategies

Guess you will collaborate on 5G Trials?

Charter Communications (NASDAQ:CHTR) and Samsung Electronics America are collaborating on 5G and 4G LTE wireless networks lab and field trials at various locations in the United States. The trials, which began this summer, are expected to run through the end of the year. The 5G trial is evaluating fixed use cases using Samsung's pre-commercial 28 GHz (mmWave) system and devices. The 4G trials are performed at 3.5 GHz (CBRS), utilizing Samsung's combined 4G LTE small cell technology in an outdoor environment to evaluate mobile use cases. "We are pleased to collaborate with Samsung on these trials, which provide Charter better insight into how our advanced, powered, high speed network - which currently passes 49 million homes and businesses - can be used to enable 5G services," said Craig Cowden, senior VP, Wireless Technology at Charter. "In addition, as we move closer to the launch of a Spectrum wireless service in 2018, our work with Samsung on trials of 4G small cell technology will support our overall wireless strategy." Tests will include Samsung's strand-mount 4G LTE outdoor small cell, which provides both 4G LTE and WiFi service over multiple frequencies.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Verizon perhaps has solved the 28GHz signal problem ahead of 5G

Verizon at the Mobile World Congress Americas trade show said it may have solved one of the key problems dogging the 5G space: how to transmit 28 GHz signals through windows that block UV rays.

While this might sound like a minor inconvenience in the multibillion-dollar buildup to 5G, it’s actually not. Getting millimeter-wave signals to travel anywhere is difficult, but it’s really hard to get those signals to travel through windows that are coated with material that reflects UV light (and most new homes and offices require this kind of coating in order to lower cooling costs).

This situation poses a big problem for Verizon, because the carrier wants to be able to use 5G to deliver superfast internet to homes and businesses instead of fiber. If those signals can’t get past windows, users would probably have to have Verizon technicians install antennas on the outside of their home or office. This kind of specialized installation would be expensive, to say the least, and would therefore significantly cut into any savings Verizon might score by using 5G instead of fibre.

So how exactly did Verizon (and its partner Nokia Bell Labs) solve this particular problem? As Edward Jack, lab manager at a Verizon Innovation Center, explains, the carrier employed a solution that’s both high-tech and simple at the same time. Basically, Verizon invented a two-part 5G modem: One part sits outside a user’s window, and the other part sits right on the other side of the window. The two parts are connected by magnets or some other method (in Verizon’s demo they were taped to the window) in a way that ensures the two halves line up exactly. The antenna, receiver and transmitter are on the outside of the window, while the power, display and connection ports are on the inside. The two halves communicate through the half-inch of glass wirelessly, but Verizon’s Jack said that the connection technology used there was the “secret sauce” of the design and he wouldn’t tell me exactly how it worked. Suffice to say, though, that the operator’s prototype modem functioned as advertised; Verizon was able to transmit a 28 GHz 5G signal from a transmitter to a receiver on the outside of the window, and then through the window to the internet port on the inside. Jack said the demo supported speeds up to 1.2 Gbps, but he noted that Verizon’s eventual 5G service would likely support much faster speeds than that.

So, why is this new solution important? Verizon is hoping to use its 5G Technology Forum network specifications, developed with Cisco, Ericsson, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm and Samsung, for a fixed wireless service in the 28 and 39 GHz bands. The company hopes to launch commercial service next year. Importantly, Verizon wants to make sure that users can install their own equipment for the service, because it’s a lot cheaper for Verizon to just mail a customer a 5G modem and have them attach it to their own window rather than have a Verizon technician install some kind of antenna on the outside of that home, office or apartment building.

Verizon has said it is testing its fixed 5G service in 11 markets around the country. If those tests are successful, Verizon could significantly increase its internet footprint beyond what it can serve today with its wired Fios service. Further, Verizon would also be able to challenge a range of existing wired internet players, like cable and telco providers, with a fixed 5G service—as long as Verizon can figure out a way of getting its millimeter-wave 5G signals from its towers to end users’ locations.

To be clear, though, Verizon’s new two-part 5G prototype modem is just one potential solution, and the design might not make its way into Verizon’s eventual commercial product. Or it might only be used in locations where UV window coating is common, like in the Southwest.

Further, UV coating on windows isn’t the only obstacle Verizon and other 5G providers need to overcome in the years ahead. Signals in the millimeter-wave bands (typically those around 28 GHz and above) in some cases have trouble passing through foliage and rain; they also don’t travel nearly as far geographically as traditional cellular services can.

Verizon’s Jack acknowledged that the carrier still has a number of problems to overcome in order to make its fixed 5G service a reality. However, he pointed out that Verizon’s two-part modem is a potential solution to a major obstacle in the race to 5G, and a further indication that the industry continues to apply its considerable engineering wherewithal to making 5G a reality. In talking to Jack, a soft-spoken engineer clearly geeking out his new prototype, it does feel like that kind of inventiveness is worth acknowledging, and maybe even celebrating a little.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

So how many 5G base stations are going to be installed?

The China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) announced 4G networks accounted for half of the 5.9 million base stations deployed across the country at the end-of June.

With 2.99 million 4G base stations in the mainland, China’s big three mobile operators certainly account for the lion’s share of the global 4G total – more than 40 per cent according to some analysts. But determining a precise percentage proved to be a challenge for Mobile World Live (MWL).

Phil Marshall, chief research officer at Tolaga Research, estimates the global number of base stations at 6.5 million sites, while Chinese equipment vendor Huawei puts the number at 7 million. Obviously China hasn’t deployed nearly all of the world’s base stations. Sites vs sectors The confusion arises from how you define base station. It seems CAICT, and China’s operators, are counting “logical” sites or sectors, while others use the more narrow definition by including only physical sites.

A physical site might house three to four logical sectors, and each can be counted as a “base station”. For example, a China Unicom base station supports GSM900, GSM1800, WCDMA2100 and LTE.
Most of the equipment is deployed in the same room at one physical site, but there are four bands, so there are four logical sites, a Huawei representative said. “We estimate 7 million physical base stations worldwide, but the number of logical sites would be considerably higher,” he said.
For the record, the number of 4G base stations China’s operators reported at end-June was significantly higher than CAICT’s total. China Mobile had 1.65 million, China Telecom 1.05 million and China Unicom 770,000, for a grand total of at 3.47 million.

China Mobile plans to add another 120,000 4G base stations in H2, while China Telecom said it will deploy another 110,000 by year-end. Marshall told MWL: “Given that China Tower has about 1 million towers, I cannot imagine how China could have more than 1.5 million 4G sites.

This is further supported by the fact that there are about 885 million 4G subs in China. We normally work on a ratio of between 500 and 1,500 subscribers per unique site depending on market conditions.”

By either measure, China is the global leader by a long shot, with no country having anywhere close to half the number of 4G sites or sectors.

At last! Pre-standard 5G arrives in Berlin

Deutsche Telekom and Huawei launched a pre-standard 5G network in central Berlin, a move the companies described as creating Europe’s first 5G connection.

In a joint statement, the companies said the connection used the latest 3GPP specifications to deliver a 2Gb/s connection over a 3.7GHz spectrum link. It will enable wide area applications and improve indoor coverage. The network uses a pre-5G technology based on standards being developed for non-standalone New Radio.

The network uses 4G LTE as a base while 5G NR technology provides improved data rates and reduces latency. Deutsche Telkom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn said: “With this real-world achievement, Deutsche Telekom is making its first important step towards a 5G network launch.
When the standard is defined, we will trial it in 2018 to prepare the ground for a wider deployment of commercial sites and the offering of devices for the mass market as they become available.”

The deployment is one of a number of networks being rolled-out around the world based on pre-standardised 5G technology. Results from many of these early trials or limited area networks are helping operators develop their 5G strategies and technology ahead of an anticipated commercial launch in 2020.

Friday, 25 August 2017

5g NR as a pre-standard version

As major industry players race to be the first ones to debut pre-standard versions of 5G, the current emphasis is on the millimeter-wave spectrum. The idea is to have 5G NR (typically millimeter wave) infrastructure provide additional capacity in hot spots or hot zones within LTE networks, seamlessly supplementing the LTE coverage.

In the 3GPP, the stakeholders are working on defining the 5G radio access technology, which is called simply the New Radio (NR).

Structurally, it builds on the groundwork laid by LTE. The radio is based on OFDM technology just like LTE. The fundamental numerology is still based on LTE’s 15 kHz subcarrier spacing and the same basic time unit of 32 53/96 nanoseconds derived from it: additional options (30 kHz and 60 kHz to begin with, with other figures up to 480 kHz for future consideration) are available for subcarrier spacing, and they are all 2X times 15 kHz. The frame and sub-frame durations are still 10 ms and 1 ms respectively.

In fact, it may not be wrong to say that for someone trying to understand the radio technology, 5G will be closer to 4G than 4G was to 3G, 3G was to 2G, and 2G was to 1G: the main difference will be in the scale. In 5G NR, several concepts that were developed in and for 4G LTE will be taken forward.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Pre standard versions of 5G will emerge first.

Major industry players race to be the first ones to debut pre-standard versions of 5G, the current emphasis is on the millimetre-wave spectrum.

The idea is to have 5G NR (typically millimetre wave) infrastructure provide additional capacity in hot spots or hot zones within LTE networks, seamlessly supplementing the LTE coverage.

In the 3GPP, the stakeholders are working on defining the 5G radio access technology, which is called simply the New Radio (NR). Structurally, it builds on the groundwork laid by LTE. The radio is based on OFDM technology just like LTE. The fundamental numerology is still based on LTE’s 15 kHz subcarrier spacing and the same basic time unit of 32 53/96 nanoseconds derived from it: additional options (30 kHz and 60 kHz to begin with, with other figures up to 480 kHz for future consideration) are available for subcarrier spacing, and they are all 2X times 15 kHz. The frame and sub-frame durations are still 10 ms and 1 ms respectively.

In fact, it may not be wrong to say that for someone trying to understand the radio technology, 5G will be closer to 4G than 4G was to 3G, 3G was to 2G, and 2G was to 1G: the main difference will be in the scale. In 5G NR, several concepts that were developed in and for 4G LTE will be taken forward.

Monday, 17 July 2017

$2 Billion spend is implied for 5G backhaul by 2022

Network operators will spend more than $2 billion on 5G backhaul by 2022, according to Communications Industry Researchers (CIR).

Nearly 60% of this money will go toward fibre-optic network deployments, the market research firm states in "Optical Networking Opportunities in 5G Wireless Networks: 2017-2026."

The "backhaul" figures include "fronthaul" and "midhaul" as well as classic backhaul, a source at CIR confirmed. Taken together in this way, operators in the United States will make more than half of the 5G backhaul networking investments over the next decade, according to CIR.

However, China and South Korea will offer the fastest-growing opportunities for those who hope to support 5G mobile backhaul requirements. CIR expects Chinese service providers will spend more than $130 million on 5G backhaul in 2022, while Korea will step up spending to support the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Among optical network technologies, NG-PON2 will emerge as the go-to fibre optic network architecture for 5G backhaul in CIR's estimation.

The market research firm points to Verizon's near-term NG-PON2 deployment plans as well as Huawei's support of the technology as indications of its market positioning.

However, CIR points out that the technology will have to meet cost expectations if it is to fulfill its promise as "NG-PON2 tunable transceiver work shows signs of progress".

Technology suppliers will experiment with both DFB and DBR lasers in the tunable transceivers NG-PON2 systems will require, CIR predicts.

Other new technologies that will receive scrutiny include new kinds of optical splitters and fibre designed to support space-division multiplexing (SDM) deployment, the market research firm believes.

So speaking of fibre, fibre-optic cable vendors are predicted to ship more than 280,000 fibre km of fibre cable in 2022 to support 5G backhaul.

Optical Networking Opportunities in 5G Wireless Networks: 2017-2026 report studies and discusses emerging opportunities for optical networking companies in the 5G backhaul sector, especially those in the Carrier Ethernet, WDM, SDM, and PON sectors among all of the major geographic markets.

The report provides 10-year forecasts for these areas, with volume and value projections of optical systems, modules, and the cable requirements for each. The report also forecasts niche opportunities for free-space optics and millimetre wave radio for 5G backhaul, as well as quantifies the potential role of dark fibre.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

No surprises as Apple turns its attention to 5G millimetre bands

Apple will evaluate millimetre wave (mmWave) technology as part of its planning for future deployments of 5G networks, after being cleared to conduct the tests by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The US regulator granted Apple an experimental mmWave licence, which the vendor requested, Business Insider reported. mmWave technology is designed to enable faster data speeds on mobile networks, and improve the cellular performance on smartphones, and Apple will use the licence to ensure compatability of its iPhone devices with future mobile networks. In its application to the FCC, Apple explained it was seeking to: “assess cellular link performance in direct path and multipath environments between base station transmitters and receivers using this spectrum.” “These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks.”

The licence will allow the company to test the technology from two locations in California. The testing process will take no longer than one year, according to Apple. Although 5G standards are yet to be released, operators in the US and beyond are already outlining their paths towards launching the technology, and have begun to conduct trials. AT&T, for example, recently detailed plans to launch 20 networks it said will lay the foundation for 5G during 2017, while rival Verizon agreed a $3.1 billion acquisition of Straight Path Communications, which holds hundreds of mmWave licences in the 39GHz and 28GHz bands – both of which the FCC cleared for use in 5G. Apple’s move is not a surprise, given its products rely heavily on mobile networks to run.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Ericsson expects average monthly data usage to be around 22 GBytes with 5G

Ericsson in its Mobility Report last year forecast average monthly data usage in North America is expected to rise from 5 GB in 2015 to a whopping 22 GB by 2021. And market research firm Analysys Mason added colour to that figure earlier this month when it reported entertainment accounted for 57% of data usage and nearly a third of all time spent on smartphones. In terms of fixed access, Sandvine found entertainment already represents 70 percent of peak period traffic, and it’s clear mobile isn’t far behind.

 As technology has shifted from a focus on connectivity to content, mobile carrier revenues have suffered. An analysis from Mobile Experts found that while the monthly expense for basic phone services has plummeted from the late 1950s to today, TV/radio and internet costs have increased exponentially.

But according to Mobile Experts, the move to 5G could provide some relief to struggling carriers. The firm indicated 5G is expected to deliver a 10x reduction in cost per bit compared with LTE. Rather than pouring that savings into new use cases, much of it will be directed toward various video services, Mobile Experts said. Why? Because that’s where the money is. “Personally, I don't believe that new 5G applications will drive a lot of revenue.

Virtual reality? No, that's short-range wireless, not mobile. Massive IoT? No, we have cheaper solutions for that. Critical IoT? Maybe, but that revenue will grow very slowly,” Mobile Experts Principal Analyst Joe Madden commented. “There’s no growth in the phone business – the phone line is simply a tether that keeps a subscriber connected to an access provider. Prices for data keep coming down, so while there is potential growth in delivery of data, the future profit potential is weak. On the other hand, people that produce quality video programs are all migrating to Netflix and Amazon, and making more money than ever before."

 Rather than being a race to provide the best access technology, Madden predicted the battles of the future will be fought over control of high-quality entertainment – movies, shows, games, and virtual reality experiences. While wireless operators obviously need to make video delivery more cost-effective, it would also behoove them to develop a strong repertoire of entertainment options, he said

5G connected home

Verizon and Ericsson are planning to demonstrate next generation use cases this week in a 5G-connected home participating in the carrier’s fixed wireless trial deployment.

VR and AR are Pushing Connectivity Limits- What Role will 5G Play?

With the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway as a backdrop, Verizon said it will use the home (located in Speedway, Indiana) to show off use cases that utilize the multi-gigabit per second speeds and ultra-low latency of 5G. The showcase will include viewing live sporting events – like the Indianapolis 500 – in 360-degree virtual reality streamed from the track in 4K.

Both Ericsson and Intel, which provided the in-home gateway, are partnering with Verizon on the demonstration. The demo will be broadcast live on Facebook this Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. ET, Verizon said. A pre-recorded test of 5G at the track can also be viewed here. Verizon said the latter video – in which a racecar driver navigates the track using VR vision from a live 5G feed alone – proves 5G technology will go beyond fixed wireless to serve a variety of mobile use cases in smartphones, cars, and other connected devices.

During the racetrack test, Verizon and Ericsson said they achieved speeds of 6.4 Gbps in a car traveling at over 60 miles per hour. Those speeds reportedly came courtesy of Ericsson’s radio, antenna, and processing technology, which include features like beam forming and beam tracking. Asha Keddy, VP and GM of Next Generation Standards for Intel’s Communications and Devices Group, said the tests with Verizon are an important step on the road to 5G.

“5G will bring new experiences and business opportunities like exciting virtual reality in 4K and ultra-fast wireless home broadband. Intel, Verizon, and Ericsson’s work in establishing early trials and testing is essential to deliver on our vision of making all devices smart and connected,” she said.
The demos are the latest news to come out of Verizon’s fixed wireless 5G trials, which are ongoing in 11 cities across the country. Earlier this month, Samsung and Cisco achieved end-to-end interoperability on Verizon’s 5G trial network in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Samsung finally joins the 5GAA

Samsung Electronics is now adding a board position to its 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) membership. Samsung’s representative on the board will be Jaeweon Cho, director of 5G technology strategy within Samsung’s next-generation communications business team. “This is a serious opportunity for Samsung and our industry partners to leverage the work we’re doing in diverse spaces such as mobile networks, home appliances and chipsets and apply it to the growing connected car industry,” he said in a press release. “I’m really excited to explore the potential opportunities here and help the 5GAA Board set its future direction.

What the 5GAA and Samsung are working on will be globally transformational.” In addition to joining the 5GAA board, Samsung was elected to serve as vice chair of the 5GAA’s Working Group 4, which is responsible for exploring connected car-related standards and radio spectrum opportunities. 

RELATED: Samsung pursues connected cars with $8B acquisition of Harman Samsung in March closed its acquisition of Harman, a major player in the connected-car market. More than 30 million cars are equipped with Harman's connected car and audio systems, which include embedded information and entertainment, telematics, safety and security. Samsung expects that the combination of this expertise paired with its own experience in mobile devices, wireless networks and chipset development will serve to empower the 5GAA’s mission to accelerate the commercialization of communications solutions that improve mobility and safety on transportation networks. Samsung joined the 5GAA in January.

The 5GAA was established in September with founding members Audi, BMW Group, Daimler, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, Nokia and Qualcomm. RELATED: 5GAA, NGMN argue for cellular, not DSRC, in NHTSA proposal A white paper (PDF) from 5GAA elaborates on why Cellular-V2X (C-V2X) technology at the radio level is an essential enabler to connected transportation services throughout the world. The 5GAA perspective is that 3GPP-based cellular technology offers superior performance and a more future-proof radio access than IEEE 802.11p and can leverage ETSI-ITS, ISO, SAE and IEEE upper layer standards and tests that have been refined by the automotive industry and others in the ITS community for more than a decade. Samsung Electronics America also was elected to the board of governors for 5G Americas earlier this year. Samsung’s representative on that board is Juha Lappalainen, vice president, technical solutions, networks division at Samsung.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

5G is going to be here faster than predicted

5G New Radio (5G NR), a flavour of the next-generation wireless network that's expected to be the global standard, should be available for large-scale deployments in 2019, a year earlier than anticipated, nearly two dozen companies each said last Sunday.

The companies who've vowed to reach a standard for 5G for that timeframe included a mix of wireless carriers, chip providers and device makers -- such as Qualcomm, Intel, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom -- that are part of the 3GPP standards group.

"For consumers, this means they're going to get an elevated broadband experience in 2019," Rasmus Hellberg, senior director of technical marketing at Qualcomm, said in an interview ahead of the news, which was announced at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain.

Qualcomm saying that 5G is the biggest thing since electricity does not make anyone salivate
nor does Qualcomm PR people announcing that their world's first 5G chip will take future phones "supersonic" but at least we all agree that there will indeed by far more than 5 amazing things you'll be able to do with 5G!

Notably missing from the list was Verizon Wireless, which is pursuing its own flavour of 5G. Verizon has said it will offer 5G to some customers in 11 cities by midyear. It's not yet full mobile wireless though. Instead it's a potentially different replacement for fixed broadband. Many carriers, like AT&T, had pushed for 5G technology to arrive sooner rather than later than 2020.

5G technology is expected to be 100 times faster than our current 4G LTE wireless technology and 10 times speedier than what Google Fiber offers through a physical connection to the home.
Experts say it should enable uses like virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as things we can't even think of today. And our phones should get a lot faster.

To that end, Qualcomm on Sunday separately unveiled its first modems that embed technology for 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G connections onto one chip. The processors, part of the X50 5G modem family, will be available in time for 5G NR device deployments in 2019.

Qualcomm in October unveiled its first Snapdragon X50 chip, but that processor only connects to 5G networks based on early standards of carriers like Verizon and Korea Telecom.

Phones typically have chips that support older wireless technologies so users don't drop calls or lose data connections when the newer technology's signal is weak. To hook up to an older 4G or 3G network, devices will need a second wireless chip. The initial X50 processor is aimed to appear first in phones in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. 

The new family of X50 chips, whose exact names Qualcomm hasn't yet detailed, won't require a second modem. They also can connect to 5G and 4G networks at the same time, which helps users maintain a strong wireless connection.

Qualcomm says the chips will first appear in mobile devices. Typically, new wireless technology first shows up in standalone devices such as wireless hotspots. "We're squarely targeting new family of modems at premium tier mobile devices first," Sherif Hanna, Qualcomm staff manager of technical marketing, said in an interview. "Thereafter, everything we've learned from mobile can extend to non-mobile applications ... [such as] fixed wireless broadband." Qualcomm declined to say when it will give test samples of the chips to customers but said they will be in devices in 2019.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

3.5GHz is the ideal 5G BAND?

Some are talking about 3.5 GHz as a 5G band, but Hutchison’s deal to acquire UK Broadband to bolster its 3UK arm is all about the good old fight for LTE spectrum. This deal shows that it is not just the US’s opening of its 3.5 GHz band, via its CBRS scheme, that has thrust this spectrum into the limelight. In many parts of the world, airwaves between 3.4 GHz and 3.9 GHz are more simply available than in the US, and are finally being appreciated for their potential to add capacity to wireless networks without waiting for 5G’s high bands, or trusting to the wild west of completely unlicensed spectrum. One of the promises of 5G is that it will support a dynamic, shared and varied spectrum framework, which will enable non-cellular licence holders to play in the wireless space. But the established MNOs are scrabbling for spectrum in the same old way, bidding in auctions and buying up smaller asset owners.

The main difference is that their attention is increasingly on higher frequencies, as their competitive differentiation shifts from coverage to high capacity. This was highlighted by the deal, announced last week, for Hutchison’s 3UK arm to pay £250m ($309m) for UK Broadband, currently owned by Hutchison’s sister company PCCW. UKB has 208 MHz of nationwide spectrum holdings, mainly between 3.5 GHz and 3.7 GHz – until recently, an area of the spectrum largely ignored by mobile operators because of its limited range and indoor penetration, and because it is often licensed only for fixed wireless usage. Now, however, it is starting to be seen as a strong band for high capacity TD-LTE deployments, and has gained new profile from the US’s creation of the CBRS service in 3.5 GHz – a very different band plan from that in the UK, but raising hopes that a device ecosystem will start to develop internationally.

 Even fixed-only spectrum is becoming more attractive as operators look to build quad play services, and eye the US leaders’ experiments with fixed 5G in millimeter wave bands. But the UK regulator was an early mover in permitting mobile services in 3.5 GHz, so UKB’s assets will also be relevant to 3UK’s core activities, in a world of small cell densification and the desperate race to build capacity for new 4G and future 5G services. Purchase draws parallels between 3UK and Sprint This could be a useful purchase for 3UK, putting it in a similar position to that of Sprint in the US. As fourth-placed players, both these operators have struggled to gain market share, and are disadvantaged in sub-1 GHz bands, which have driven 4G rollout until now.

 But they could both leapfrog rivals in some capacity-oriented deployments by harnessing plentiful higher frequency spectrum. Sprint plans significant densification in high value markets such as New York City, using its 2.5 GHz unpaired spectrum, which it will aggregate to its lower bands. This, it claims, will offset its lower holdings of spectrum in some lower ‘beachfront’ bands; and it enabled it to stay out of the bidding for 600 MHz licences, so saving money. It also means it will be in less of a rush to deploy unproven millimeter wave technologies since it has plenty of capacity left in 2.5 GHz. UKB does not bring 3UK such a rich spectral dowry as Clearwire did Sprint, but these will still be very useful assets for a company which is in a poor position in UK airwaves.

It controls about oneeighth of the total in use for wireless services, while BT/EE controls 45%. 3UK has been lobbying for BT, which will be excluded from the upcoming auction of 2.3 GHz licences, to be barred also from the 3.4 GHz sale, on the basis that these higher frequencies are becoming mainstream and valuable, and could be deployed more quickly than many operators have previously expected. Neglected bands can help redress spectrum imbalances If Ofcom ignores that call, at least 3UK will redress the balance somewhat with its new purchase, which will boost its current spectrum holdings totalling 74.9 MHz, by a huge 208 MHz. It has 124 MHz in the 3 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands; in the 3.7 GHz band, UKB has a hefty 2x84MHz of contiguous spectrum, and it also has rights in the 3.9 GHz band and, interestingly, the 28 GHz and 40 GHz bands, the former the focus of intense interest for pre-5G trials in various countries. Not that UKB’s actual customer base will do much to change the fourth MNO’s business – under its Relish brand, it serves only about 15,000 customers, offering fixed residential and business broadband wireless in parts of London and elsewhere. By contrast 3UK has 9.2m active subscribers.

 But if an ecosystem develops around the 3.5 GHz TD-LTE band over the next few years, including the all-important handsets, 3UK could find itself owning a mighty tranche of newly valuable airwaves, acquired at a bargain price compared to most auctions. In addition to the upfront price, it will make a £50m ($62m) deferred payment as credit towards a wholesale deal for UK Broadband on 3's network. Dave Dyson, CEO of 3UK, said that it would continue to operate the Relish service as a standalone business and with its fixed services sold alongside 3’s mobile offerings. He said that the acquisition “takes the risk out of the auction” but does not address the issue of 3UK’s competitive disadvantage in the sub-1 GHz bands. There are signs of momentum building behind 3.5 GHz as a band for TD-LTE densification. ZTE and Huawei have been particularly active in developing infrastructure and CPE, and have been working with two Italian ISPs – Tiscali and Linkem – to roll out LTE. The UK deal awaits regulatory approval, but is unlikely to face significant opposition, unlike 3UK’s attempt, last year, to merge with Telefonica’s O2 UK arm.

That deal collapsed in the face of opposition from EU competition authorities. UKB’s current owner PCCW, bought the spectrum licences in 2003 and the company has had various shots at deploying networks and services, initially using TD-CDMA technology, then WiMAX and most recently TD-LTE. While CK Hutchison is controlled by Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, PCCW is run by his son Richard Li. The UK firm’s 2015 accounts show that revenue more than doubled to £3.2m in that year, but it made a loss of £37.4m. 3.5 GHz initiatives outside the US The 3.5 GHz band has a newly high profile thanks to the US’s CBRS scheme. But in many other parts of the world, 3.5 GHz has long been open and established as wireless broadband spectrum (usually fixed, but increasingly regulators are allowing mobility). The Global Mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) noted in December that the 3.5 GHz ecosystem (bands 42 or 43) continues to grow, and 82 user terminals are now available in this band.

 Last week, Pakistan's Wi-Tribe said it would deploy the first LTE-Advanced network in the country from May, and the first in south Asia in the 3.5 GHz band. The former WiMAX operator says its network will reach peak speeds of 100Mbps, which it will boost to 200Mbps by the end of next year and 400Mbps the year after that, as terminals and fixed CPE support that. Huawei will supply the equipment. Wi-Tribe plans to invest over $25m in TD-LTE-Advanced over the next three years, and its owners have committed to reinvesting all profits from the company's operations over this time back into the business. Late last year, Huawei signed a deal to deliver TD-LTE equipment for 3.5 GHz to Italian ISP Tiscali. Huawei said that it was well positioned to supply CBRS equipment in the US because it had put considerable development into TD-LTE for 3.5 GHz elsewhere, and the tweaks will be minimal.

The same will be true of ZTE, which has also been very active in 3.5 GHz LTE, and also has an Italian contract for TD-LTE in this band, with former WiMAX provider Linkem. Many such deployments will be migrations from WiMAX, which was commonly rolled out in 3.5 GHz. Tiscali itself signed its €40m ($45m) contract with Huawei after acquiring former WiMAX operator Aria, which had already signalled its intention to shift to TD-LTE. As WiMAX ISPs make that move, larger providers, and even MNOs, are likely to pounce. The CBRS scheme in the US Meanwhile, across the Pond, the CBRS (Citizens’ Band Radio Service) scheme has set some interesting precedents for creative approaches to sharing spectrum. The CBRS spectrum, as defined by the FCC, sits in the 3.5 GHz band, at 3550-3700 MHz. Adopted back in April 2015, the scheme uses a similar dynamic access database as that used in TV White Spaces (TVWS). That access system has three tiers - Incumbent Access, Priority Access and General Authorized Access.

The incumbents include authorized federal and grandfathered fixed satellite services, currently in the 3.5 GHz band, and the FCC notes that they will be protected from interference from the Priority and General users. The priority users are going to be bidding on 10 MHz channels in the 3550-3650 MHz portion, with limits on the number of active licenses and their duration. Lastly, the general tier supports open and flexible access to the band, using any portion of the CBRS band that isn’t currently in use. Many of those pushing models for that portion are members of the CBRS Alliance, which aims to drive use cases and a broad ecosystem of devices. One way to do this is to carry out high profile demonstrations, and it doesn’t get much more visible, or challenging, than a motor race track. Nokia, Alphabet and Qualcomm demo CBRS at high speed Nokia, Alphabet, and Qualcomm teamed up to demonstrate what they say was the first instance of a private LTE network in the CBRS band.

They used the signal to send a 360-degree VR experience from a stock car racing around at the Richard Petty Driving Experience event, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hitting speeds of 180mph, the tech would allow a viewer to see what it is like driving one of these NASCAR racers – and the trio are pitching the technology as a way for venues to offer new services and experiences using a private LTE network in the CBRS bands. Nokia provided the radios and Qualcomm the in-car modems, while the demo used Alphabet’s spectrum access system (SAS) and YouTube Live Events for streaming. Nokia customized the private LTE CBRS network with the first multiframe configuration of a TD-LTE network using config 0 and 64QAM to boost the uplink data rate from the car, and config 2 for high downlink rates in the spectator area.

It also used Smart Scheduler configuration and Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) to reduce latency and support seamless mobility. Using CBRS bidding, Nokia, Alphabet, and Qualcomm envision a world in which sports venues and campuses would be able to fire up a private LTE network on a temporary basis, without the need to buy the type of spectrum licence that MNOs require for national operations. Using the LTE network, they could then push content and experiences to users in the vicinity. Private networks and slicing in shared spectrum This was also the first test of a private LTE network running in the CBRS spectrum. And Nokia said the demo showed how enterprises, venues and other organizations could deploy their own private LTE networks in shared spectrum and achieve similar levels of performance and reliability as in licensed bands. Of course, Nokia wants to supply or, better still, manage those networks. The Finnish firm is intensely interested in private networks these days, seeing them as a way to ex-tend its business beyond telcos and into direct sales and services for vertical and government markets. “Not only are we showing how the CBRS band can enable new business ideas using LTE, but also how such futuristic applications like this are possible,” Nokia head of strategy and business development for North America, Chris Stark, said.

 He added: “We want this trial to act as a catalyst for carriers and enterprises to start thinking about leveraging this band for new applications. Beyond the high speeds and amazing views this demo provides, the real opportunity is in the life-changing applications that will benefit from the 3.5 GHz U.S. CBRS spectrum and transform users' experience.” Progress is being made to ensure the CBRS spectrum can be harnessed for real world services using current wireless technologies, rather than waiting for 5G. Definition of standards and protocols is taking place via the Wireless Innovation Forum (WinnForum), whose members include Google, Ericsson, Nokia, Ruckus Wireless/Brocade – as well as Federated Wireless, which has devised an SAS. In December, the WinnForum announced public availability of its signaling protocols and procedures for the CBRS band. It also worked with Alphabet to demonstrate inter-operability between their respective SASs, using the SAS-to-SAS interface protocol defined by the WinnForum.

 In December, the FCC conditionally approved seven SAS administrators for the band, including Alphabet, Federated Wireless, Amdocs, Comsearch, CTIA, Key Bridge and Sony Electronics. The SAS is to coordinate the three tiers so the band is available for commercial use on a shared basis with existing federal and non-federal incumbents. Commercial access points for CBRS are expected to become available in the first half of this year, but device roadmaps are less clear. AT&T petitions for test licence for 3.5 GHz Also in 3.5 GHz spectrum, AT&T has asked for the FCC for a special temporary authority (STA) to conduct short term tests between 3550-3700 MHz, among other bands (which also include several millimeter wave bands). It wants to conduct these tests in suburban and rural environments in the California Central Valley including locations around Fresno and Bakersfield.

The aim is to collect continuous wave (CW) data for a propagation modelling study, evaluating path loss characteristics in outdoor environments in these midrange and high bands. The operator will use up to 40 base stations provided by test equipment company BVS. Last year, AT&T Laboratories was already active in the 3.5 GHz band, gaining an experimental licence to conduct tests in Georgia, using prototype 5G systems with integrated adaptive antennas. The company is also the most supportive of the CBRS shared spectrum scheme, among the major US MNOs, and the only one so far to join the CBRS Alliance. T-Mobile has also indicated it may consider CBRS as part of its future spectrum patchwork but the clearest attraction is for potential alternative operators such as Alliance co-founder Google.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

5G is a way to transform and digitise our EU industries. We should not wait for 5G!

Executives at the NGMN Industry Conference and Exhibition, here, this week welcomed a 5G alliance that was recently formed by car manufacturers and the telecoms industry, and called on other vertical sectors to form similar collaborations.

As noted by Deutsche Telekom CTO Bruno Jacobfeuerborn and others, unlike previous generations of mobile technologies, 5G will extend far beyond the traditional cellular base and will support multiple use cases in industry sectors ranging from the car industry through to utilities, agriculture, production and more.

“We are all affected by this one,” said Jacobfeuerborn.

The 5G Automotive Association (5GAA) was unveiled in late September with the goal of working on 5G and the evolution of LTE, including Cellular Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X) communication.

Founding members BMW Group, Daimler and Audi teamed up with Ericsson, Nokia, Intel, Huawei and Qualcomm to focus on applications such as automated driving and integration with smart cities and intelligent transportation. Vodafone Group also said on Friday that it has become the first telecoms operator to join the association.

Luke Ibbetson, Vodafone’s group head of research & development and technology strategy, will join the board of the association.

That, in turn, will bring the 5GAA closer to the work of the NGMN, and could see more operators and vendors join the alliance in future.

Alain Maloberti, SVP at Orange Labs Networks, noted that there is a requirement to embrace a wide ecosystem in the 5G era, which in turn will drive the need for cross-industry trials and pilots.

Thibaut Kleiner, deputy head of cabinet of Günther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for digital economy and society, explained that 5G “is a way to transform and digitise our industries.”

Kleiner added that the telecoms industry should already be engaging with verticals: “We should not wait for 5G. We should already start this conversation today.”

5G’s impact to likely to be equal to that of electricity or the automobile and will enable 11.5€ trillion of global economic output in 2035

During Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf’s keynote at CES 2017, he equated 5G’s impact to that of electricity or the automobile, raising more than a few eyebrows. Turns out, Qualcomm’s not the only one thinking such grand thoughts.

Qualcomm Technologies today released a study, "The 5G Economy," that examines the potential economic and social impact of 5G around the world. The study, commissioned by Qualcomm, was conducted by analysts at IHS Markit, which puts 5G in the same category as the printing press, the internet, electricity, the steam engine and the telegraph.

Each of those discoveries or inventions is part of an elite class of socio-economic mainsprings known as General Purpose Technologies (GPTs), which often are catalysts for transformative changes that redefine processes. It’s hard to imagine living for long without electricity, and now 5G is part of that elite group.


As Mollenkopf mentioned in his CES keynote, the study predicts 5G will enable 11.5€ trillion of global economic output in 2035, which is nearly equivalent to U.S. consumer spending in 2016 and more than the combined spending by consumers in China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom and France in 2016.

By 2035, the ubiquity of 5G will result in impacts that advance beyond the capability of existing technologies, platforms and industries, yet the proliferation of 3G and 4G mobile technology provide important analogues as the 5G economy blossoms, according to the study.

The report includes an economic impact study conducted by IHS Markit and validated by Dr. David Teece, director of the Tusher Center at the Haas School of Business, U.C. California, and principal executive officer of the Berkeley Research Group (BRG). It also includes opinion research about the expectations for 5G among business and technology leaders carried out by PSB. The combined findings show how 5G will profoundly affect the global economy and that business decision makers in technology and other industries overwhelmingly believe in the transformational nature of 5G.

Qualcomm has been boasting, at trade shows and elsewhere, for some time now about its leadership position in 5G. The X50 modem, which Qualcomm announced a few months ago, is the first in a family of 5G modems that will provide an anchor to early deployments of 5G and will be essential to the millimetre wave systems that will start trials and deployments in late 2017 and early 2018.

According to the PSB results, business decision makers across industries, especially in the United States, say technology industry standards are “very important” in helping companies deliver 5G,  and audiences across markets say companies with past experience delivering wireless connectivity solutions and expertise in a variety of technologies are best equipped to be leaders in 5G.

Interestingly, given Qualcomm’s enforcement of intellectual property rights, one in two respondents say intellectual property rights are “very important” in helping companies deliver 5G. Respondents who say IP rights protections are important to 5G say they’re necessary to motivate innovators and protect investments; the reasons for thinking IP rights are not important are varied: Some worry they restrict innovation, while others believe they promote unfair advantages.

T-Mobile reiterated its wait-and-see approach toward offering its own fixed 5G services.

As both AT&T and Verizon move closer to commercial launches of fixed wireless service based on initial 5G network standards, T-Mobile reiterated its wait-and-see approach toward offering its own fixed 5G services.

Indeed, a T-Mobile spokesperson said that the carrier isn’t ruling out an eventual fixed wireless service at some point in the future, but said the operator doesn’t have any current plans for such an offering. The spokesperson said the carrier sees “so many more options for 5G” beyond fixed wireless internet service.

Those comments align with past statements from T-Mobile executives. For example, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray wrote in September that “Verizon’s grand vision is that you can cancel your fixed broadband and watch Netflix at home with wireless Verizon broadband. Double yawn. How disappointing! So little imagination from these supposed network leaders!”

In December, Ray offered additional commentary on the topic: “The carriers’ current vision for 5G is mind-numbingly limited. 5G’s potential is so much larger than replacing in-home broadband and IoT. But they can’t see beyond their own wallets. AT&T wants to ‘connect your world’—including your bank account—to AT&T. Verizon’s grand vision is that you Netflix at home with wireless Verizon broadband. How is that game changing?”

Indeed, both AT&T and Verizon are moving forward with plans to at least test and potentially commercially deploy fixed wireless services that would leverage initial 5G technologies (industry executives expect the 3GPP to finalise the initial standard for fixed 5G in the coming months). Verizon, for example, has already installed 5G equipment for fixed wireless services in more than 10 U.S. cities. However, the company acknowledged that its equipment may not align with the 3GPP’s initial standards for 5G wireless services, and therefore Verizon may have to upgrade its physical equipment at its sites in the 10 cities in order to ensure that its services work with the 3GPP’s forthcoming 5G standard.

AT&T for its part announced earlier this month that it would conduct a trial in Austin, Texas, with residential customers streaming DirecTV Now video service over a fixed wireless 5G connection starting in the first half of 2017. As part of the trial, AT&T will also test additional next-generation entertainment services over fixed 5G connections in an effort to further advance its learnings about 5G, especially in how fixed wireless millimetre wave (mmWave) technology handles heavy video traffic.

(To be clear though, this is one of several different trials AT&T is conducting into various fixed wireless technologies.)

The opportunity around fixed wireless, over 5G connections or otherwise, is clear: It would allow a provider to offer home internet services without having to deploy or operate cabling to a users’ physical location. For example, Verizon could install a 5G base station in a neighborhood and beam superfast internet connections over 5G to nearby residents with receivers, without having to deploy fiber connections—an expensive proposition—to those homes.

Moreover, Verizon and AT&T aren’t the only carriers chasing the fixed wireless opportunity. Google has been rumoured to be investigating wireless technologies as a way to more broadly deploy its Google Fibre service; indeed, Google acquired fixed wireless provider Webpass last year. And startups like Starry and others are promising similar fixed offerings.

Part of T-Mobile’s aversion to fixed services may be due in part to its lack of fibre holdings. Verizon and AT&T own substantial fibre assets across the country, allowing the companies to keep their backhaul costs low. T-Mobile, meanwhile, must purchase fibre connections from other carriers. Such costs likely are a key aspect of any fixed wireless service since a fixed wireless offering would likely have to undercut the price of existing wired internet services from incumbent telco and cable service providers.

5G is really necessary or is it?

The headlong rush into 5G is an unnecessary technology treadmill, or so the great and the good of the wireless world have concluded.

Cambridge Wireless, a network which brings together senior players in the mobile industry, may have moved its annual shindig from the esteemed university to London's Emirates Stadium, but it brought with it the glorious tradition of the debating society with the motion “Do we need 5G?” The answer was “no". This, amazingly, came from a room full of the very people who are setting the standards and doing the deeply clever work on how to use higher frequencies and squeeze more bandwidth out of them.

The debate was chaired by Bob Schukai, head of advanced product innovation at Thomson Reuters. The “Yes” camp was championed by Howard Benn, head of standards and industrial affairs at Samsung Electronics Research Institute, while the victorious “No” camp had as its leader Tony Milbourn, strategy veep of embedded technology company u-blox. The debate focused on the current definition of 5G requirements as stated by the leading operator trade associations. Benn argued that 5G "is the next generation of mobile carrier incubated radio access network technology, ready for early service adopters by 2020." However, Milbourn countered that “we have benefited hugely from standards; 2G built a momentum big enough to justify significant R&D, which in turn drove down costs to make the market big enough for more R&D, and so on. But the standards-making machine has now moved to a point where it is defining things beyond the needs of the consumer".

"Essentially, it's like washing machines; there is a rapid growth in the supply of washing machines before everybody has one, but once people can wash their clothes easily it becomes a replacement market, where the differentiation is the colour of the knobs," he added. "Consumer cellular is at this point. The area for investment is coverage, not yet another standard that sucks capital out of operators and delivers something that consumers don’t need," said Milbourn. But Milbourn added that his argument does not apply to M2M or IoT.

“For a new connected world we do need new standards, urgently,” he told the audience. Speaking in defence of 5G, Howard Benn said “we need 5G because history tells us that we can’t predict what services will be popular from 2020 to 2030, so we need a super-efficient and super-flexible system to cover all bases.” Gooner Schukai, no doubt revelling in the venue, said “less than a billion people were online as we entered the 21st Century; by 2020 this figure will be four billion – largely in line with the predicted four billion smartphones in use by then." "Our insatiable appetite to consume content on a variety of screens means that we have a responsibility to think about the infrastructure needed to support this level of data consumption with speed and security across wearable devices, cars, phones, computers and sensors — in fact anything that needs a connection to the wireless infrastructure," he added.

The debate generated a wide range of comments from the floor, from the need for a wider field of influence into 5G standards, to concerns about the "technical debt" of the industry, including the burdens of IPR and standards. This conference was the first for Bob Driver, who has just taken on the role of CEO of the organisation. “The lively debate encapsulated the positive mood of the conference and need for rapid progress to support the next generation of wireless services,” said the newly installed Driver. “However, the vote against 5G reflected a strong feeling that 5G, and future of wireless connectivity in general, was so vital to every industry sector, and every citizen, that the development needed to embrace a wider constituency. It was clear that there is a need to consider the wider business models necessary to lead the industry, rather than only focusing on the technologies.”

Ericsson is asking the FCC for permission to use 27.5-28.35 GHz spectrum

Ericsson is asking the FCC for permission to use 27.5-28.35 GHz spectrum so that it can conduct tests using a 5G base station, but it’s asking that confidential treatment be given to details of what’s being studied and the antenna parameters.

The company seeks an 11-month license to do the tests but wants authorization by Feb. 28 in time to conduct a demo at the Verizon Board of Governors meeting, according to the application, which lists the station location in Palo Alto, California.

Ericsson says the information for which it seeks confidential treatment contains sensitive trade secrets and commercial information that would customarily be guarded against competitors.

“Ericsson has invested finances, planning and expertise into developing the ‘secret commercially valuable plan’ that is the program of research into 5G, and we will use this research to develop 5G products,” the company states in its documents. “The antenna parameters and testing details are part of this plan and that is not information we would disclose except for the need to obtain the STA.”

Ericsson does say it wants authorization to conduct pre-commercial outdoor field trials to validate key 5G concepts and associated performance. The tests will use only one base station and although the base station will be transported to different locations within the test areas over the course of the trials, the base station will remain fixed while it is operating.

The experimental base stations are not built to transit a call sign, so the company is asking that the requirement to transmit a call sign be waived for this experiment. It’s also coordinating with existing users in advance to address interference issues.

In a picture accompanying the application, a base station radio unit is mounted on a mast that is attached to a van; the mast will be raised to a maximum height of 12 meters, but Ericsson isn't publicly disclosing the antenna parameters.


Ericsson has applied for authorization to conduct multiple 5G tests over the past several months, including tests with U.S. Cellular and Charter Communications. It’s not unusual for companies to request information be kept confidential due to the nature of the tests as vendors like Ericsson are trying to differentiate their offerings.

During the company’s most recent quarterly conference call with analysts, Ericsson executives didn’t spend a lot of time talking about what 5G could bring to the company’s bottom line. Executive VP Jan Frykhammar said some use cases will call for deploying a lot of small cells but others will require only a mega radio on high band and so forth. “It depends a little bit on the use case. So from that point of view, I think it’s a little bit too early, but that’s also why we have more than 25 different MOUs working with customers on different use cases and trials to learn,” he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
New CEO and President Börje Ekholm did make a point of saying that even though Ericsson needs to get itself back into a position of growing profitability, it’s still spending. 

“We are in a technology industry,” he said. “We need to be technology leaders and stay at the forefront of the technology development. And here, Ericsson has a unique set of assets with our products, but we also have services and solutions and that package creates a unique position for us to compete in the market and that’s something we need to leverage, but it’s also something we continuously need to invest in and develop."

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Intel 5G modem chipset is launched at CES

Intel announced what it believes to be the world’s first global 5G modem, enabling initial 5G spectrum trials and deployments with a baseband chip that supports both sub-6 GHz and 28 GHz bands.

 Intel, which has been involved in 5G tests and trials in the U.S. with operators like AT&T and Verizon, says the modem goes hand-in-hand with its new 5G transceiver that supports both sub-6 GHz and millimetre wave spectrum, joining and working with the mature 28 GHz RFIC that’s part of the Intel Mobile Trial Platform. Supporting ultra-wideband operation and enabling multi-gigabit throughput with ultra-low latency, the modem pairs both with Intel’s sub-6 GHz 5G RFIC and 28 GHz 5G RFIC to deliver a global reach across the key bands of interest for 5G systems, according to Intel. And if it sounds too soon to support 5G—the 5G standards are yet to be finalized—Intel says it’s compliant with multiple industry forum 5G specifications, so no worries there. Key 5G New Radio features supported include low latency frame structure, advanced channel coding, massive MIMO and beamforming, according to Aicha Evans, Intel’s VP and GM of Communications and Devices Group. Evans explained that waiting for the standard to be finalized before starting to develop products would just mean everything would be too late. “We’re making sure to work with the industry,” including operators and OEMS, so that it all works standards- and pre-standards-wise and “we don’t want fragmentation in the industry," she said. With all the devices coming online, from drones to gateways to automobiles to manufacturing and so on, “it is essential that we don’t let the industry fragment and have many different specifications in many different countries and many different industries” because that would lead to a lot of inefficiencies for everyone.

 RELATED: Intel CEO: We're leaders in 5G right now Intel's 5G modem will achieve key 5G requirements, including expected speeds exceeding 5 Gbps, hundreds of MHz of aggregated bandwidth and ultra-low latency.

Evans declined to discuss exact latency numbers as those discussions are ongoing, but she said the goal of the industry is for latency to be low enough to support things like critical healthcare applications and autonomous driving, meaning latency will have to be extremely low. Intel said the 5G RFIC supports the 3.3-4.2 GHz portion of the sub-6 GHz bands, enabling deployments and trials in China and Europe with flexible sub-channelization. It also supports 28 GHz, for deployments and trials in the United States, South Korea and Japan, and it supports 2x2 and 4x4 MIMO configurations, including dual-polarization sub-channelization.

Intel also says it’s offering the first 5G-ready test platform for the automotive industry, allowing automakers to develop and test a wide range of use cases and applications ahead of the expected rollout of 5G in 2020. Of course, as some operators and analysts are saying, SDN and NFV are essential going into 5G, and Intel’s got that covered as well, boasting a holistic end-to-end strategy. Intel VP Data Center Group and Network Platforms Group General Manager Sandra Rivera’s group is very much leading the way there and “we do everything together,” Evans said, noting that there are not a lot of companies that have this entire portfolio end-to-end, although a lot of them are trying to do so. “We don’t make a move without each other and this is Intel’s differentiation,” she said.

As for legacy systems, a lot of stakeholders in 5G say that LTE isn’t going away anytime soon, and 5G will need to be compatible with LTE. Intel says its 5G modem pairs with LTE modems such as Intel’s XMM 7360 LTE modem to provide 4G fallback and 4G/5G interworking, so LTE won’t get left behind.

PCell SDR technology being trialled in Bay Area.

Artemis Networks, a startup that has been trying to disrupt the wireless space with its pCell software defined radio (SDR) technology, is finally getting some validation, with Dish Network not only supporting its endeavors but also showcasing them in its booth at CES. Artemis is currently leasing certain H-Block mobile spectrum from satellite TV provider Dish in the San Francisco area as part of indoor and outdoor trials of pCell LTE technology. Dish and Artemis have discussed the possibility of expanding to additional geographic licenses for future trials. Meanwhile, live pCell demos are being staged at Dish’s booth at CES in Las Vegas this week. “Dish and Artemis are aligned in the vision of developing 5G technologies to deliver ubiquitous, fast, and reliable wireless connectivity,” said Tom Cullen, Dish executive vice president of corporate development, in a press release. “We are investigating 5G options for our spectrum portfolio, which includes the support of pioneering endeavors like Artemis.” RELATED: Artemis leases Dish's H Block spectrum to build a live, commercial pCell network in San Fran Cable companies make no secret of their intentions to play in the 5G space, with companies like Comcast pledging to make 5G work and Charter Communications talking about plans to develop 5G-type technologies and applying for FCC permission to conduct tests in millimeter wave spectrum bands. Artemis founder and CEO Steve Perlman said the company is happy to work with anyone—not only cable companies but also mobile network operators, wireless ISPs (WISPs), MVNOs and others. Dish, for one, has been amassing spectrum over the years, prompting questions about when and how it will eventually use it. But firming up its connections with Dish is not the only thing Artemis is celebrating these days. It’s also introducing the pWave Mini, a much smaller version of its technology that interests cable companies because it can be used much the way they string cable. The smaller size means it won’t be required to go through the siting processes that its larger iteration requires. Artemis’ first product was nine inches wide.  At 15 mm in width, the pWave Mini base stations can be daisy-chained into cables that look just like cable TV cables, so they can be deployed anywhere a cable can be deployed—hidden on rooftops, along buildings, on streetlights or strung between utility poles or in homes, offices or stadiums. Perlman said they emit no more power than a home Wi-Fi router and are far less expensive to deploy or operate than conventional LTE technology—and they’ll also work with existing handsets and devices already in the market. Perlman said it’s almost like the old days when mainframes dominated the computer industry. Nowadays, “existing cellular systems are very much like mainframes, and we’re like the Apple II,” he said. RELATED: Nokia Networks plans to trial Artemis Networks' pCell technology with carriers To describe how the company was able to fashion the technology the size of the pWave Mini, Perlman likes to borrow a phrase from the movie “The Martian” and says “we had to science the sh** out of it,” removing basic functions that many people would consider standard in radios and rethinking how to make up for them in software. For example, GPS is included in a lot of radios, but it takes up a lot of space and doesn’t work indoors, so they pulled that out. They fiddled with mathematics and rethought the way radio waves work. And what they came up with is nothing short of what Perlman describes as the highest performance, highest density 5G technology in the world. It will support multiple protocols and promises to deliver over 50x conventional LTE spectral efficiency on iPhones, Android, iPad and LTE routers, with the ability to work at any frequency from 600 MHz to 6 GHz and with licensed or unlicensed spectrum. They also got the cost down to what should amount to less than $100 each in volume, so a newcomer to wireless could conceivably use Mini pCell technology to set up shop without having to build out a big costly network. “Anybody can deploy it,” Perlman told FierceWirelessTech. Granted, Artemis has won recognition prior to Dish's moves. WebPass, the point-to-point fixed wireless provider that Google Fiber bought in 2016, as well as Nokia’s networks division, have deployed pWave technology. WebPass is a WISP and it’s not set up like a Verizon, but it is deploying something that will support MVNOs at higher density and lower cost, Perlman said. Artemis has about 12 employees, but it works with a lot of contractors and ultraspecialists. Once the subject of naysayers from the academic community, Artemis has now won the respect of some leading experts in academia and is working with them. Jim Chiddix, former Time Warner Cable CTO, is an Artemis advisory board member. “Reducing high-density 5G wireless deployment to standard cable deployment with the pWave Mini is a game-changer for both mobile and fixed wireless,” he said in the press release. “Now, any ISP—from the largest to the smallest—can rapidly deploy high-density pCell 5G LTE and Fixed wireless by using well-established cable deployment practices.”