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The G in 5G means it’s another generation of wireless technology. And it will be awesome. We get more speed, boost the economy, infrastructure, jobs, VR, telemedicine, driverless cars and more. Everyone wants 5G, but widespread roll-out will take longer than we think.

Let’s cut through the hype surrounding 5G

#1: 5G devices

5G devices will need 4G to make initial connections before trading up to 5G when it’s available. All 5G superphones will still need to use 4G. But right now, there’s not a single 5G-ready smartphone on the market and when they do come to market in 2019, no widespread 5G network will be available.

#2: 5G will replace Wi-Fi

This is complete nonsense. In 2019, Wi-Fi will account for more than 50% of the total IP traffic from both mobile and WiFi devices. WiFi understands dense deployments. The 5G future is dense. Wi-Fi will be around for a long time.

Michael Boevink,
CEO,
Boevink Group

#3: Roll Out, But Not Yet

Two of the biggest countries, China and the US, will start commercialising 5G not earlier than 2020, so hold your horses. They are still writing the regulation manual. The FCC laid the groundwork for 2020 and China will be slow to adapt the process because of the governmental authorities who control the roll out. The UK networks had an auction in April 2018 and some small pilots like the O2 arena are being tested, but we will not see widespread 5G coverage in the UK until 2022, even then.

#4: Money Challenge

This is another reason to create hype about 5G but hold back on investments. Network operators have already spent billions building 4G networks and until they have fully milked them, 5G represents another unwanted cost. They do know it will be expensive and they need to ensure the service will be profitable. Consumers expect better coverage and more data for lower prices. Operators don’t have the slightest interest in meeting this consumer wish list.

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#5: Infrastructure

There is a lot of activity around 5G standards. Tests are ongoing, and phones are in the making. One challenge with higher frequency signals is that they don’t travel as far as lower frequencies, so multiple input and output antennas (MIMOs) will need to be used to boost and multiply signals anywhere 5G is offered. The shift to 5G is that new wavelengths require completely new kinds of receivers. Tests are being done and experiments with 16 antennae to make sure that at least a few of them pick up a 5G signal. So depending on the environment, operators will not always have the ability to place enough antennae in all locations because of cost.

#6: Who Will Benefit from 5G?

The first to benefit will be the next wave of technological advancements such as autonomous vehicles, smart factories, smart cities, virtual and augmented reality, edge computing, and health-care-specific IoT. The fact is that 5G is massively fast and will offer tremendous potential and business, but it won’t run fast to you and definitely not in 2019.

In the meantime, enjoy 4G if you have a signal!

Published in Technology & Solutions

Nokia and Telefónica Deutschland announced that have completed building their joint "Early 5G Innovation Cluster" in Berlin.

The "Early 5G Innovation Cluster" incorporates five sites in Telefónica's cellular network in Berlin-Friedrichshain. These sites, equipped with Nokia 5G Airscale radio and Wavence Microwave technology, will be used in the next months primarily to test and measure the performance and coverage of first 5G services in a dense urban area.

The enhanced Microwave technology tested in the innovation cluster is playing a key role as transport technology providing backhaul for dense 4.5G, 4.9G and 5G networks. Microwave backhaul (connecting a radio cell via radio to the network) is typically used to link small cells to fiber access points. Nokia Wavence microwave supports multi Gigabit throughput and Carrier SDN (Software Defined Networking), providing a higher degree of automation in the network.

Before being deployed in Telefónica's live network, all equipment was tested successfully end-to-end in the company's laboratory in Munich. Nokia's Wavence microwave solution showed data rates of 2 Gbit/s with Dual Band technology at 18 und 80 GHz, which can be software-upgraded to 10 Gbit/s. The tests also included Carrier Aggregation on the Nokia AirScale radio access technology. By using more than one carrier frequency, data throughput can be significantly enhanced. The "Early 5G Innovation Cluster" will utilize five carrier aggregation for download and two carrier aggregation for upload to achieve high throughput rates.

Cayetano Carbajo Martin, CTO, Telefonica Deutschland
With our joint Innovation Cluster in Berlin we push the further development of 5G forward together. Nokia's portfolio will enable testing the newest technology to keep moving forward fast with 5G in our network.

Detlev Otto, Customer Team Head for Telefonica Deutschland, Nokia
The insights we will gain from this cluster, located in a dense urban environment, are going to help both companies in preparing for 5G roll-outs and developing new services for Telefónica's subscribers.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Swisscom announced that half of all Swiss communities and more than three million homes and offices already enjoy bandwidths of 80 Mbit/s to 1Gbit/s.

The Operator is currently serving more than 3 million broadband connections or 60 per cent of the around 5.2 million homes and businesses in Switzerland. Saint-Barthélemy (VD) is the 1,111th community in Switzerland to have access to more than 80 Mbit/s in the Swisscom network. This milestone represents the halfway mark in the national network expansion, which benefits small villages and big cities alike. All 2,222 communities are due to be covered by the end of 2021.

The current expansion status of every community can be checked online at any time and for every home. With investments totalling CHF 1.6 billion annually in IT and infrastructure, Swisscom makes a key contribution to the digitisation of Switzerland, ensuring that even rural regions and areas with challenging topography to gain network access.

Markus Reber, Head of Swisscom Network Expansion
Expansion in Saint-Barthélemy and its neighbouring communities is a perfect example of our promise to bring the latest fibre-optic technologies to all communities in Switzerland. The second half of the expansion will continue in the same vein and will be completed in 2021.

​Optiva announced the deployment of a new mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) platform for a LATAM telecom provider. 

The full-stack OSS / BSS solution creates opportunities for the provider to deliver services to several mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) and offer customized billing and pricing plans, charging and multi-channel interfaces, said the Company. With its new Optiva MVNE deployment, the CSP is developing a pipeline of MVNO brands to join their network. This move allows the CSP to differentiate and further grow their portfolio and win new business.

An Optiva customer for more than five years, the telecom provider is the sixth largest mobile telecom operator in the world with over 360 million lines in 25 countries. They have expanded their partnership with Optiva in anticipation of a massive increase in IoT devices, the building of 5G networks and demand for high levels of capacity, customer connection and speed. 

Danielle Royston, CEO, Optiva
The new MVNE platform will create opportunity for MVNO brands to leverage our system without incurring the time-consuming and costly step of implementing a system themselves. This ensures faster time to market, affording them greater focus on their business. 

Published in Technology & Solutions

It’s increasingly popular for businesses to own less stuff. This is true whether they are B2B or B2C, but is most obvious in the new gig economy: Airbnb is, in effect, one of the largest hotel chains out there, but doesn’t own any hotels. Uber and its rivals have massive fleets of taxis that deliver food and people around cities - none of them owned by the company itself.

These businesses give consumers that own certain assets, such as cars and homes, the opportunity to use them as part of the business. But we can also see this happen between businesses too. Where we once expected a business to own most of what it provided to its customers, we’re increasingly seeing a value chain of suppliers, corralled together to create a service.

The popular perception of mobile operators is that they provide the masts and other infrastructure that makes mobile communication possible. But operators are, in some cases, already in the process of selling off their infrastructure. This means the perception is less true than ever before - independently-owned masts, network sharing and operators divesting their infrastructure means that fewer and fewer Communication Service Providers (CSPs) own the physical assets that make what they do possible.

For Airbnb, Uber, and CSPs, owning stuff that makes their businesses work is not important. Instead, the business is taking assets owned by other people and using them in a transformative way. 5G - in particular network slicing - has the potential to change how CSPs do business in a similar way, encouraging them to do more and own less.

Network slicing and virtual networks

Network slicing has already been described as a $66bn opportunity by ABI Research. The way it will work will be akin to the way virtualisation works in cloud computing. Before, connecting to a remote server meant just that - connecting to a grey box in a building somewhere. Now, cloud computing and virtualisation means that several virtual machines can run on the same physical machine and runs across several hosts to provide a failsafe. For those using the virtual machine, the experience is the same, but for those providing the service, it means being far more efficient and being able to offer many more services.

With SDN and NFV increasingly commercially deployed, networks now offer far greater flexibility. Traditional network architectures can be partitioned into virtual elements that can be linked together. Network slicing takes this concept one logical step further. With 5G, a single physical network can be “sliced” into multiple virtual networks.

This creates opportunities for the CSP. Previously, the same services all had to exist on the same network, but now they can be separated out on to their own networks. For example, IoT traffic no longer has to co-exist with data used by business customers. Financial services data no longer has to share the same network as streaming media.

The needs of a particular network slice will define how it is configured. So, for example, a slice dedicated for automotive use will need low latency if it’s used for assisted or autonomous driving, as well as continuity of service when moving between different networks, as the device in this case is likely to moving at high speed.

Another slice may be dedicated to the live broadcast of a sports event or a concert, potentially using virtual or augmented reality. This slice would require high bandwidth and very low jitter to guarantee quality of service. Each slice would have specific SLAs, and the operator would need to assure all of these different services in order to guarantee availability and meet these SLAs.

The changing CSP model

We’ve already had a preview of the new CSP model with MVNOs - operators that, to the consumer, are the same as any other mobile operator. MVNOs don’t own any infrastructure, but by buying capacity from those operators that do, they can target a specific market sector - for example those unwilling to be tied to monthly contracts, or those for whom customer service is more important than any other level of service.

Network slicing has the potential to make more operators MVNO-like, but instead of targeting specific consumer segments with unused capacity, the CSP will be targeting a vertical with a virtual network slice that’s been configured to meet their needs exactly. Network slicing means that an operator can do way more than provide connectivity - they can connect their customers to a network that’s tuned and configured exactly as needed. Network slices mean offering a network for automotive, a network for healthcare, a network for VR media, and so on.

This potential doesn’t come without a cost. Tuning these networks to meet specific demands is demanding, and while algorithms and machine learning can do much to help keep pace, operators will be maintaining many more virtual networks than they used to. This then raises the question: should they do this and continue to maintain the physical infrastructure too? We’ve already seen infrastructure sharing deals increase, and more “towercos” emerge, who buy up infrastructure and lease it back to the operator. We expect this trend to continue.

The business of being a mobile network operator is increasingly two businesses - that of maintaining the underlying infrastructure and the business of tuning and configuring the software that makes use of that infrastructure. Network slicing could be the catalyst that will make running these businesses as separate entities far more sensible. We’re used to seeing disruption in other industries - 5G could see operators becoming more like Airbnb and Uber than they now expect.

Published in Expert Opinion

Yandex, a technology company that builds intelligent products and services powered by machine learning, has unveiled its first smartphone, Yandex.Phone.

The company’s smartphone is the first phone that is fully powered by Yandex’s intelligent assistant, Alice, the leading AI assistant for the Russian market. Yandex.Phone is also the first phone that comes preinstalled with a suite of mobile services from the Yandex ecosystem.

Yandex’s smartphone uses AI to deliver a highly personalised mobile experience based on the users’ location, routine, and their usage pattern. In the morning, for example, Yandex.Phone can provide traffic updates for the daily commute along with turn-by-turn navigation from Yandex.Maps, suggest a personalized Yandex.Music playlist for the journey, or send forecast updates from Yandex.Weather.  

While mobile users have been able to utilize Alice for Yandex services on other devices, Yandex.Phone is the first smartphone in Russia in which the AI assistant can be used across the majority of apps and services. Regardless of what they’re doing on the phone, users can have Alice manage everyday tasks for them. For example, Alice can add an event to one’s calendar without any interruption while they’re watching a movie or playing a game. Users will also be able to interact with Alice remotely, as the assistant will respond to voice prompts when within range of the user.

Yandex.Phone users have access to over 34,000 existing Alice skills to help with tasks such as ordering food, booking flights, and calling a taxi. With the introduction of Yandex.Phone, Alice can now also place voice calls for users. Through the Yandex.Dialogues skills platform, third-party developers have created thousands of skills for Alice, with more being developed every day.  

The Alice-powered smartphone is also fully integrated with Yandex Business Directory, which provides users with a comprehensive list of businesses across Russia and includes detailed information and search options for goods and services. This feature allows Yandex.Phone to easily identify unknown business callers or contact a business simply by entering the name of a company or a service into the phone’s search function.

With the purchase of a Yandex.Phone, owners will receive a free six-month subscription to Yandex.Plus, which provides unlimited access to Yandex.Music and discounts for Yandex.Taxi and Yandex.Drive. Yandex.Phone buyers will also receive a 300 ruble credit for Yandex.Taxi and 500 rubles for their Yandex.Money account, along with 10% cash back on purchases made with Yandex.Money for three months.

Yandex.Phone runs Android 8.1 and is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor. It features a 5.65-inch Full HD+ screen with a 2160x1080 resolution. A fingerprint sensor lets the user unlock their phone with just a touch, while the NFC technology enables contactless payments. The Qualcomm Aqstic audio codec ensures quality sound for gaming and streaming video and music. 

Fedor Yezhov, Corporate VP of Ecosystem Products, Yandex
Yandex.Phone is built to offer Russian users a smartphone equipped with all the localized tools needed for users to navigate their daily routines. Users can interact with Alice and the most widely used Yandex applications in a new way on this phone.

Published in Smartphones

Vietnam is the latest country to provide the choice and convenience of Mobile Number Portability (MNP) to its residents with the rollout of a national solution on November 16, 2018.

The Vietnam Telecommunications Authority (VNTA) selected FPT Information System Corporation (FPT IS) to deploy Vietnam’s first MNP solution using iconectiv’s TruNumber Portability Clearinghouse. FPT worked closely with iconectiv—the authoritative partner of the global communications industry and number portability expert—to deliver the MNP solution, bringing additional convenience and choice to Vietnam’s 120 million-plus mobile subscribers.

MNP allows consumers to retain their phone number when switching mobile service providers. In addition to convenience for subscribers, this increases competition among mobile service providers seeking to retain or increase their subscribers—often resulting in competitive pricing, improved network coverage, enhanced services and improved customer care. It is also an essential element of a service provider’s business case and is key to creating additional revenue per customer.

In addition to Vietnam, number portability solutions from iconectiv and its subsidiaries have been implemented worldwide, including in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Greece, India, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Thailand, Tunisia, U.A.E., and the U.S.

Nguyen Van Khoa, CEO, FPT IS
We appreciate the opportunity to serve the VNTA and the residents of Vietnam, and are working diligently with our partner, iconectiv, the market leader in number portability solutions, to ensure the speedy and seamless, phased rollout in Vietnam.

Richard Jacowleff, President and CEO, iconectiv
This and other recent agreements in Southeast Asia expand iconectiv’s footprint in the region and demonstrate the trust these countries have in our ability to efficiently deliver a quality solution at scale.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Tigo Senegal has selected Ericsson for its nationwide network modernization project as it looks to accelerate digitalization in the expanding Senegalese market.

The terms of the new three-year deal cover over 1000 existing sites including the latest Ericsson Radio System (ERS) technology to refresh legacy infrastructure, roll out LTE across the country, and modernize and expand Tigo’s mobile backhaul network with Ericsson’s MINI-LINK.

Ericsson will also provide Cloud Packet Core and Cloud Data Management and Policy solutions for the modernization of Tigo’s core network to reduce OPEX and simplify the introduction of new user services. Additional solutions include Ericsson’s Mobile Packet Backbone Network (MPBN) and OSS migration toEricsson Network Manager.

Mass Thiam, CEO, Tigo
Senegal is on the brink of a huge digital transformation which will open up new business opportunities and revitalize the nation’s economy. To enable and speed up this process, Tigo, with Ericsson as its partner, is rapidly upgrading our legacy network systems to deliver the quality, capacity and overall network performance that our enterprise and subscriber customers demand.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East and Africa
Ericsson’s best-in-class LTE solutions will secure Tigo’s network performance and quality while delivering a differentiated experience to their subscribers.  By improving both indoor and outdoor network coverage, Tigo will be able to deliver digital services including mobile data and mobile financial services across the entire Senegalese market.

Published in Technology & Solutions
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