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Telenor Group is deploying a cloud-native core solution based on Nokia AirGile technology, including the AirFrame data center and Cloud Packet Core, in Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

The cloud-native core solution will deliver new flexibilities and capabilities in automation, enabling Telenor's networks to instantly adapt and scale services to meet the changing demands of people and connected things. The ability to quickly onboard virtualized network functions across a cloud-based infrastructure will reduce time-to-market for new services. With the introduction of 5G, the solution will enable network slicing, allowing Telenor to further expand its service offerings to meet the ever-growing and diverse demands of people and industries.

Nokia will deliver an AirGile cloud-native core and deploy its AirFrame data center and Cloud Packet Core solutions, including its Cloud Mobility Manager and Cloud Mobile Gateway, Nuage Networks SDN technologies, the CloudBand Management and Orchestration Software and third-party security solutions. Leveraging Nokia's open approach to architecture and collaboration, Telenor will be able take advantage of a rich ecosystem of Nokia and third-party applications. Nokia will provide its services expertise and use its Cloud Collaboration Hubs to optimize the deployment and support network operations.

This agreement follows Nokia's earlier successful deployment of a cloud-native core solution for Telenor's operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Morten Karlsen Sorby, EVP and Head of Telenor Group's Scandinavia Cluster
We are pleased to leverage Nokia's technology and services capabilities to help us transform our cloud networks in our Scandinavian markets and provide us with new efficiencies and capabilities as we make that journey.

Hilary Mine, Head of Nordics, Baltics and Benelux, Nokia
Nokia is able to draw on its extensive network and services expertise to deliver a cloud-native core network that will allow Telenor to speed service delivery and take advantage of new efficiencies in terms of scaling services and expanding capacity to meet demand. 

Published in Technology & Solutions

SaskTel, a leading regional operator in Canada announced expansion of its maxTV Stream that it launched in August in 11 more communities including Allan, Colonsay, Hudson Bay, Leask, Martensville, Meacham, Osler, Shellbrook, Viscount, Warman, and Young.

This new service combines the best of traditional television with advanced new features and the latest over-the-top (OTT) content from Netflix and YouTube. Loaded with over 110 channels to choose from and thousands of hours of Video-on-Demand (VOD) content, maxTV Stream raises the bar for television and entertainment with its innovative features, such as:

 - Restart TV – Restart live TV up to 72 hours in the past so you’ll never miss your show again.

 - maxTV App – Watch live TV and VOD programming on your smartphone or tablet, anywhere in Canada.

 - Built-in applications – Easily access Netflix, YouTube, and more right from your media box.

 - State-of-the-art equipment – Control your TV like never before with Bluetooth and voice command technology.

SaskTel plans to expand maxTV Stream to more than 350 communities by 2020. maxTV Stream comes pre-loaded with 55 channels, VOD, and all the features listed above, starting at $19.95/month when bundled with SaskTel Internet service.

Doug Burnett, Acting President and CEO, SaskTel
With its cutting-edge technology and impressive set of features, maxTV Stream is completely transforming television and entertainment in Saskatchewan. Plus, by leveraging our expansive broadband network, we’ll be able to deliver maxTV Stream to hundreds of communities, making it more widely available than any other wireline television service in Saskatchewan.

CommScope is partnering with Cheytec Telecommunications, a leading DAS systems integrator to provide radio frequency signal sources for distributed antenna system (DAS) and C-RAN antenna system deployments.

A key challenge for in-building wireless service is the timing and complexity of obtaining and connecting to service providers’ networks.

In-building wireless coverage is increasingly perceived as a utility alongside water and electricity – a default expectation of employees and customers. According to Mobile Experts, the portion of DAS installations funded by enterprises and building owners will nearly double over the next five years. As the market share leader in in-building wireless systems, CommScope has pioneered digital DAS and C-RAN antenna systems that deliver optimal mobile performance combined with attractive deployment economics. Partnering with Cheytec further accelerates deployments by eliminating the dependency on the service provider. 

Mike Shumate, VP of Business Operations, CommScope
CommScope’s advanced C-RAN and distributed antenna systems, combined with Cheytec’s operator relationships and pre-arranged service provider signal sources, enable a faster and smoother turn-up for our customers and a simpler path for future upgrades.

Jarrett Bluth, CEO, Cheytec
We are increasingly dependent on our cell phones, and that is driving our decisions on where we go, where we work and where we live. It has never been more necessary for building owners and enterprises to provide full indoor cellular connectivity if they want tenants and employees to come and stay.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Safaricom has began trial of a new and innovative network coverage technology aimed at enhancing coverage in urban areas.

Known as the TubeStar Base Station, the solution replaces the standard tower base station with a tubular structure that occupies up to 75 per cent less the land typically required. In addition, the TubeStar eliminates the need for a compound and perimeter wall around the base station by incorporating all equipment within the tower structure.

The TubeStar is targeted at urban areas which present a space constraint when putting up network towers. Placing standard towers in such locations has been difficult as most landowners have future plans for currently unutilised land or have already put up structures on the entire land leaving little space for a typical base station.The technology also eliminates the need for diesel generators by replacing these with high-performance lithium batteries, cutting down on pollution and emissions from network sites.

The first TubeStar has been deployed at Clay Works along the Nairobi - Thika Highway and will offer coverage along the Roysambu drift which has long been plagued by call drops. The location exemplifies challenges of providing coverage in urban areas as it is a depression where signals from surrounding base stations converge, resulting in interference and poor connectivity.

The new base station will exclusively provide coverage in the affected locality eliminating reliance on the other cells. Huawei launched the TubeStar innovative macro base station solution last year prior to the 2017 Global Mobile Broadband Forum.

Thubaud Rerolle, CTO, Safaricom
Over the last 18 years, Safaricom has established itself as a global innovation leader through constant and deliberate investment in innovative and ground-breaking technologies. Ultimately, our goal has been to provide our customers with world-class connectivity and networks. 

After much planning, discussion and testing, 2019 year will finally see the first meaningful deployments of 5G, and I think it’s fair to say it’s going to change everything. Inspired by some of the findings from the Mobile Video Industry Council, here are some of my thoughts on what 2019 might hold for operators as they plan for and deploy 5G over the course of the year.

#1: OTT surpasses pay TV – transforming mobile video

With 5G promising speeds of anywhere between 10 and 50 Gbps, magnitudes faster than anything 4G can offer, and with an increase in gigabit internet deployments across the globe, OTT content will become easier and faster to access than ever before. As a result, there will be more OTT subscribers than traditional pay TV consumers by the end of 2019. Indeed, subscriptions to streaming services have already begun overtaking pay TV in both the UK and the US.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, mobile will become an increasingly popular means of consuming OTT content, although it’s likely to be an additional screen rather than a replacement. And given the sheer volume of video content, and with the APIs it offers, 5G could soon be regarded as a video distribution network. Delivering a wealth of data for content providers and advertisers, it could truly transform the future of mobile video.

John Giere,
President & CEO,
Openwave Mobility

#2: HD video traffic is on the rise

While growth in mobile video content was entirely expected, many operators didn’t anticipate the exponential growth in HD content. Our own research found that, by the end of 2018, 50 percent of all mobile video traffic would be HD, and this is set to increase to around 60 percent in 2019. This growth in HD, in addition to longer viewing times, will drive a further increase in video traffic on mobile networks.

In addition, 2019 will see the launch of yet more streaming services; Apple, WarnerMedia, and Disney+ have already been announced. This is good news for millions of subscribers, of course, but mobile operators now face the challenge of having to handle the resultant increase in traffic and ensuing encrypted protocols which have the potential to wreak havoc on Quality of Experience (QoE).

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#3: Get set for 4G RAN congestion

As 5G makes its way through the hype cycle throughout 2019, many operators will be busy preparing the architecture for their own 5G networks. As they do so, and as the appetite of users for ever more data continues to grow, 4G networks - and 4G radio networks (RAN) in particular - will begin to burst at the seams. QoE will suffer as a result, especially when it comes to video streaming, with users gauging network quality based on their video experience.

To survive this, savvy operators must employ efficient, cost-effective solutions to tackle RAN congestion and its potential impact on QoE, while being sure to preserve CAPEX for their impending 5G deployments.

#4: Data management is about to change

Most of the discussion around 5G’s benefits has centered around its high speed, ultra-low latency, and increased connectivity. What few operators have addressed, however, is what it will mean for data management.

The advent of 5G will see an evolution from managing just subscriber data to managing a whole variety of data, from fast-changing session data to long lasting subscription data. 5G’s service-based data architecture presents operators with ‘stateless’ cloud service, however, which, rather than storing data from once session to the next, instead rely on common external data management.

Given the huge complexity of these and other new data management requirements, a ‘common’ data approach is therefore recommended, in which operators will be required to introduce a unified, distributed cloud-based data layer which will help to address a range of concerns around 5G, including network automation and efficiency, latency and mobile edge computing, and monetization and secure data sharing.

The arrival of 5G is going to transform the telecoms landscape, and I can safely predict that 2019 is going to be a year of exciting new opportunities for the industry. But there’s no escaping the fact that it’s also going to be a year of challenges. Operators must be mindful, therefore, that serious consideration must be given to ensuring the infrastructure is in place to deliver the best possible experience for their subscribers, while at the same time maintaining the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of their own internal operations.

Published in Technology & Solutions

We see 2019 as the year when mission critical communications (MCC) solutions and services finally get into the hands of First Responders be they the armed forces, police, ambulance or other emergency service groups, as well as professional radio users in the fields of transportation and mining among others. The year will see First Responders and professional radio users becoming better supported in their tasks through the applied use of technology.

#1: THE First MCPTT deployments by First Responders

The year 2019 will see First Responders begin to supplement the humble radio so trusted by multiple generations of firefighters, police officers and emergency workers over the years with smartphones. At first, these might also be dual-mode devices, combining LMR and LTE capabilities. Once smartphones become commonplace in MCC, all will be able to work faster and better.

#2: THE Immediate future belongs to dual-mode LMR/MCPTT devices

It is nice to envision how the new generation of technology replaces the old generation in just the blink of an eye - like how we see it in the movies. This is not how it happens in real life - the old and new must peacefully coexist for a while. Moreover, they do not just coexist, but rather interwork. The emergency worker’s device is not an interworking appliance, but instead, it can simply allow users to be connected to both worlds - simultaneously. We should see LMR devices being extended with MCPTT capabilities first before full-blown MCX(Mission Critical Services) devices completely replace them. We predict that quite a few dual-mode radios will appear in the market during 2019.

Anatoli Levine,
Director of Products and Standards,
Softil

#3: Mission Critical Communications for Trains will continue to advance

Mission Critical Communications for trains, commonly referred to as LTE-R, are already deployed, but on a limited scale. Today, South Korea is leading the railway world with new MCC LTE-R terminals deployed on its high speed rail networks. However, as the standards for MCC for Railroads are in the final stages with 3GPP Release 15 providing the base, and Release 16 defining the necessary changes in architecture, we expect many more LTE-R trials and deployments over the next 2-3 years - especially as GSM-R (old communication technology for trains) will sunset in 2025.

#4: Managing MCC through Dispatch Consoles

The Dispatch Console is a critical element of emergency communications - someone has to have a “10,000 foot view” of everything happening with First Responders in real time to coordinate all activities. This is where the dispatch console operator comes into play. As MCC over LTE trickles onto the front line in 2019, dispatch consoles will manage video streams, video communication, chats and more. The console will become the critical element in the interconnection of the LMR and MCX worlds and be in service before the end of 2019.

#5: First MCC Recording solutions

It is essential to keep track of what is happening on the front line - we need to create records of all the activities of emergency workers at all times. In the past, voice and some unassociated videos were recorded, but in the new MCX world, there is a mass of data that needs to be recorded and archived.

This spans audio, video, chats, locations and much more from a vast array of supplementary data from “Life-saving things”, commonly known as IoT devices. The industry will see the first recording solutions appearing in 2019 as they are critical for the overall MCS umbrella.

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#6: Private LTE becomes key to advancements in MCC for Mining

In the mining industry, communication is a key element of the ecosystem and on par with all the sophisticated machinery and tools in use. "MCC over LTE"s new communication capabilities, such as video, chat and file exchange, offer great advantages to miners compared to the traditional radio. However, common LTE towers cannot provide reliable connectivity inside mines and such deployments will require private LTE. We expect pilot Private LTE with MCS (Mission Critical Services) setups to go into trials in 2019, with full-scale deployments in 2020/2021.

#7: The impact of 5G on MCC will become noticeable

5G developments are advancing quickly, driven by the insatiable appetite for speed, bandwidth and full QoS/QoE spectrum of humans and machines alike. Core 5G trials are already under way around the world, but that doesn’t affect MCX at the moment. However, we expect to see some alignment of MCX technologies with 5G networks and architectures in the next 3GPP Release 16 (due December 2019) and further enhancements in Release 17. The year 2021 will most likely be the year when MCX will commercially start running on top of 5G, offering greater speeds and capabilities.

#8: First chipsets implementing Pro-Se will appear, first trials of D2D

ProSe is the 3GPP standard for direct, or so-called Device-to-Device communications. This is essential for MCC as it is always possible that in the course of emergency operations, the macro network will become unreachable. In this event, First Responders must still be able to communicate with each other, so there is a critical need to make daily use of MCX over LTE possible. The year 2019 might be the year when ProSe begins its journey. However, thanks to dual-mode devices, LMR will still be there for device-to-device communications.

#9: Voice Controls for First Responder devices will make their debut

Voice controls are not new - Siri and Alexa have been helping with everyday tasks for several years now, but as First Responder smartphones appear, we expect that voice controls will be elevated to the next level of importance in 2019 with commands such as “alert all my group members,” “show me the map,” “start recording my video,” and “switch my primary camera” becoming commonplace - all while wearing gloves.

#10: Virtual Reality UI should appear

Climbing mountains or even stairs is done one step at a time. MCC over LTE devices will get into the hands of users, adding the ability to use special goggles with embedded screen and eye control. This is already available in many virtual reality (VR) games and will become a natural extension. We do not expect VR UI to become mainstream in 2019, but some early market trials should be taking place.

#11: First implementations of AR, enabling capabilities of the “Black Mirror” style

Emulating the Black Mirror anthology TV series that explores how humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide, we expect that adding Augmented Reality capabilities to VR UI goggles will emerge in 2020/2021. Looking at a person’s face, a car’s license plate or a store’s name, these smart goggles will quickly produce and visualize all the information available on any person or object.

#12: “Internet of Life Saving Things” (IoLST) will challenge our imagination over the next 3-4 years

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a vast space of tiny sensors, devices, modules and systems - all communicating with each other and producing petabytes of data aided by AI capabilities to make sense of it all in real time.

When it comes to the world of public safety and emergency communications, IoLST holds tremendous promise, offering capabilities such as detection of “shots fired,” “officer down,” the ability for a firefighter in a building to take control over sprinkler systems and emergency valves from his/her MCX handset, and to connect and communicate with any car or infrastructure on the road (collectively known as V2X) and much more. Nothing is immediate with IoLST, but expect some interesting trials to begin in 2019, and practical solutions coming to market in 2022-2025.

#13: MCC might try to utilize blockchain technology over the next 4-6 years

Blockchain technology allows the establishment of strong, secure and unbreakable trust relationships amongst a large enclave of “things”. Every industry has jumped on the blockchain bandwagon looking for practical use and applications for such a promising technology. Without any regards to blockchain, MCC is currently living its own revolution in moving from the traditional radio to broadband technology. Once broadband MCX becomes mainstream, the public safety and emergency communications industries will look into blockchain technology as a possible solution to streamline and simplify day-to-day operations. However, it is unlikely that blockchain powering First Responder communication solutions will happen before 2023, if at all!

Published in Technology & Solutions

KT, South Korea's largest telecommunications company, has officially launched its 5G network commercial service with an AI-equipped robot named Lota being the first 5G subscriber to the newly launched service.

The new service has begun in the greater Seoul metropolitan area, in the country's most populated, major metropolitan cities outside Seoul and in isolated areas including Jeju, Ulleung and Dok islands. KT plans to expand its nationwide 5G network to 24 major cities, key transport routes such as expressways, subways, high-speed railways, large universities and neighborhood shopping areas.

The next phase of the new network will provide seamless 5G coverage through KT's latest network technology and innovation. Because of KT's Internet backbone with full mesh topology and edge communication centers based on control and user plane separation (CUPS) technology, its 5G service with ultra-low latency is uniquely advantaged over other carriers. Full mesh topology is an up-to-date technology in which every node in the network has a circuit connection to every other node. CUPS is an advanced architecture enhancement technology indispensable for standalone (SA)-based networks of 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards.

The first mobile plan available on KT's 5G network is 10 gigabytes of data for a mobile hotspot terminal at a monthly rate of 49,500 won(~USD43), the same rate applied to Lota. A smartphone with a mobile hotspot function provides an Internet connection for other mobile devices, such as notebook computers.

NTT DOCOMO will expand its Money Transfer mobile overseas remittance service to China and Thailand from December 17, bringing the total number of destination countries and regions to 42.

Remittances to 70 banks and financial institutions in China and 28 in Thailand will be possible for a flat fee of JPY 1,000 (tax free). DOCOMO's mobile overseas remittance service, which launched in 2011, enables Japanese subscribers to send funds with ease and convenience to children studying abroad or family working overseas. It has also been used increasingly by DOCOMO's foreign subscribers in Japan to remit funds to family back home. Many subscribers are now expected to use the service for remittances to China and Thailand, two countries with vibrant economies, says NTT DOCOMO.

DOCOMO's overseas remittance service can be used via a web browser or iOS/Android app on a DOCOMO feature phone or smartphone. The service is available anytime, except between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. JST. After registering, the user simply deposits cash into their docomo Kouza account at an ATM, bank or convenience store, or via Pay-easy, prior to making a remittance.

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