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Singtel announced that it has completed an end-to-end 5G video call with Augmented Reality (AR) between Singapore and Australia with Optus and Ericsson. 

Made with OPPO 5G test devices equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modems on 3GPP-compliant 5G networks in both countries, this call marks the latest 5G highlight for Singtel, Optus, Ericsson and OPPO.

Singtel and Optus engineers demonstrated the use of AR on a real-time 5G video call using Ericsson’s networks, making instant on-screen annotations to exchange views on their respective live 5G sites. AR provides users with a more inclusive form of communication, opening up new possibilities for enterprises, ranging from mobile collaboration between experts in different locations, on-the-job training to remote assistance. Examples of consumer use cases will include immersive gaming, virtual tactile shopping and holographic calls.

In Singapore, Singtel and Ericsson have achieved significant milestones in building a robust 5G ecosystem, including the launch of the 5G Centre of Excellence programme in October 2017, the first data call over a 3GPP compliant 5G network in one-north in November 2018, as well as the recent opening of the first live 5G facility - the 5G Garage - in partnership with Singapore Polytechnic. Conceptualised as a training centre, test bed and ideation lab, the 5G Garage will drive the adoption of 5G by enterprises in their digital transformations.

In Australia, Optus and Ericsson are partnering to build 50 new network sites and conduct critical inter-operability device testing. This will allow Optus to deliver a compatible 5G home broadband product to customers.

Allen Lew, CEO, Optus
Once again Optus has proven our 5G agility, working collaboratively with our colleagues in Singapore to successfully land a ground-breaking 5G inter-country AR video call. 

Martin Wiktorin, Country Head, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines, Ericsson
The success of this video call using 5G test devices and AR in a multi-party environment, brings us a step closer to having our mobile broadband experience transformed with a mere click.

Published in Technology & Solutions

RAD and ASPIDER-NGI, a leading IoT mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE) which is now part of KORE Wireless, announced the introduction of a joint solution that combines RAD’s recently released SecFlow-1v secure industrial IoT (IIoT) gateway with Edge Computing capabilities and ASPIDER-NGI’s advanced eSIM.

The SecFlow-1v is part of RAD’s Service Assured Networking (SAN) solution for critical infrastructure.

The joint solution allows immediate deployment of large-scale automated systems, such as RTUs, smart meter aggregation devices, load breakers, traffic control sensors, CCTV cameras, point of sale devices and more, with advanced visibility, control and cyber defense – anywhere in the world.

The SecFlow-1v spokes are deployed at the network’s edge, working with RAD’s SecurityGateway hub and VPN aggregator. They share threat intelligence and security event logs across all protected IIoT devices with the RADview security and event management suite.

KORE/ASPIDER-NGI’s remote SIM management allows for deployments in hard-to-reach or hazardous environments, while remote profile management enables constant optimisation of the available cellular provider’s network service. With its global ecosystem of local operators, ASPIDER-NGI provides unparalleled service reach, as billing issues are handled via the eConnect system. In addition, location-based profile selection increases device production efficiency.

RAD and ASPIDER-NGI’s joint solution is available now to industrial IoT system integrators around the world.

Ophir Fux, VP Critical Infrastructure Division, RAD
By bringing together secure Edge Computing that is specifically designed for mission-critical environments and operator-independent global managed connectivity, we offer an innovative approach to effectively address IIoT’s big three challenges: Security, automated operational processes and actionable data usability.

Jan Mooijman, MD ASPIDER-NGI, KORE Wireless Group Business Unit
Our universal eSIM is integrated in RAD’s next generation secure IIoT gateway to provide a flexible, ruggedized and cost-effective joint solution that deals with growing IIoT connectivity and security challenges. The on-board SIM cards are pre-provisioned, so that the secure IIoT gateway is ready to go right out of the box, making for truly fast deployments.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Global smartphone sales remain strong and reached $522 billion in 2018, however total sales declined by 3 percent to 1.44 billion units sold worldwide versus 2017, according to Gfk's findings.

The market research firm said smartphones represent the majority of the total spend on the global TCG market last year. This is expected to grow plus one percent in 2019.

While premium continues to fuel growth, dearth of appealing innovation continued

Around twelve percent (up from nine percent in 2017) of smartphones sold were priced at more than $800 in 2018. The mid-segment of $150-400 continues to be an important competitive battleground accounting for 46 percent of smartphones sold globally in 2018 (up two percent from 44 percent in 2017).

Technological convergence enabling richer experiences

GfK’s Consumer Life Study shows that consumer trends are changing when it comes to possessions. Not only do they “prefer to own fewer but higher quality items” that they will pay premium prices for, but they “value experiences more than possessions”. Whether it is memory size, larger screen size or a multiple high megapixel camera this innovation does not ignite consumers’ imagination and stimulate demand.

Igor Richter, GfK’s Telecommunication expert says: “Our research shows that although the new features in smartphones have comparable performance features and computing power with laptops, these high-end specs still need to be converted into new experiences. High end gaming has been reigned by the PC industry and is currently a major growth driver there. However, there is an untapped potential for more demanding gaming on the smartphone. Despite the relatively small smartphone screens compared with PC’s, their fast chipsets, sharp displays and increased battery capacity makes these gaming smartphones ideal handsets to deliver the processing power hungry gaming experience on the go. This explains why 55 percent of smartphone users worldwide played games on their smartphone in the last 30 days.” 

Demand in Central & Eastern Europe and Emerging Asia is only partially offsetting the decline in China

The Chinese market consumes the majority of the global smartphone production, as well as being the home of local brands that are becoming increasingly global. 40 percent of the Chinese brands' smartphone production in 2018 was purchased outside of China, that is up from 31 percent in 2016. 

F5 Networks announced several new solutions and enhancements designed to allow service providers to launch 5G services.

F5 announced an expansion of its NFV packaged solutions with a new Carrier Grade NAT (CGNAT) standalone package. The new packaged solution, which includes the F5 VNF Manager, will offer a broad set of tools that enable service providers to successfully migrate to IPv6 while continuing to support and interoperate with existing IPv4 devices and content, simplifying network planning, sizing, and purchasing. The CGNAT VNF package will be available in the first half of calendar year 2019.

F5’s NFV offerings will also see new performance enhancements through Intel Quick Assist Technology (Intel QAT), a feature of the Intel Xeon® Scalable processor. BIG-IP Virtual Edition support of Intel QAT for SSL/TLS acceleration and offload will provide up to four times the performance of encryption done in software, freeing up the CPU to perform other application delivery tasks including L7 inspection, policy enforcement, and programmability.

Higher performance and increased throughput will also be enabled with BIG-IP Virtual Edition support of the Mellanox ConnectX family of network interface adapters, including 100G. Working together, F5 and Mellanox solutions can boost data plane performance to near line rate using optimized drivers that reduce the overhead associated with processing packets. Mellanox network adapters will significantly improve the performance of the entire portfolio of F5 VNF solutions.

SP Essentials – F5 is announcing a new package of technical support and maintenance services designed specifically and available exclusively for service providers. SP Essentials will enable service providers to get the most from their F5 products with services that assist them with adoption and world-class technical support. 

F5 Automation Toolchain provides for programmatic deployment, configuration, and management of F5 devices and the services they support. NEBS Compliance – F5 is now providing a NEBS level 3 compliant solution for the i15000 ultra high-performance appliance series

James Feger, VP and GM, Service Provider, F5
We’re delivering virtualization solutions and custom services that help them maximize the substantial investments in their current 4G networks now, while optimizing their infrastructure to enable the scale required to deploy the 5G networks tomorrow.

Amit Krig, SVP, Network Adapter Group, Mellanox
ConnectX was developed to meet these needs both now and in the future. With multiple times the performance packed into the same infrastructure footprint, service providers working with F5 and Mellanox can maximize the return on their 5G network build-out and quickly reap the benefits of new 5G services.

Published in Technology & Solutions

Vodafone and TIM have signed a partnership for active network sharing and an expansion of their existing passive sharing agreement.

The Companies are also evaluating the feasibility and merits of a potential business combination of their respective passive towers located in Italy into a single entity. To facilitate the discussions around the Initiatives, Vodafone and TIM have entered into an exclusivity agreement. 

With reference to the Active Sharing Project, Vodafone and TIM intend to enter into an agreement that would enable them to jointly roll-out 5G infrastructure. The Active Sharing Project would support a faster deployment of 5G over a wider geographic area, at a lower cost. The Parties will evaluate the technical and commercial feasibility of jointly deploying active 5G equipment across the country, including certain larger cities where each party may wish to retain strategic flexibility and ensure that they are able to meet the needs of their respective customers.

Vodafone and TIM also intend to consider active network sharing for their existing 4G networks, in order to support 5G active network sharing; this may also generate further efficiencies. Furthermore, Vodafone and TIM intend to upgrade their respective mobile transmission networks, adding higher capacity optical fibre cables for backhaul.

This would enable customers to benefit from 5G’s new features, such as faster speeds and low latency, as well as provide both companies with greater economies of scale.The Parties intend to extend the existing Passive Sharing Agreement, from approximately 10,000 sites today (approximately 45% of the Parties’ combined passive towers), to a nationwide agreement.

The objective is to accelerate and enhance the deployment of 5G technology and use network infrastructure more efficiently, both in urban and rural areas. Vodafone and TIM have also agreed to explore a potential transaction that would entail the companies consolidating their 22,000 passive towers located in Italy into a single entity, potentially combining Vodafone’s passive tower infrastructure with the infrastructure of Inwit, the 60%-owned and publicly listed tower subsidiary of TIM. 

Aldo Bisio, CEO, Vodafone Italia
This partnership will allow us to generate significant benefits for our customers and other stakeholders, who will be able to enjoy the best 5G experience, made available in a shorter period of time and across a wider geographical area. 

Luigi Gunitosi, CEO, TIM
We believe that network sharing is key to do more, efficiently and better for the benefit of our clients and all stakeholders, in view of the process of change that will be triggered by the launch of 5G in the years to come and that will be paramount for the development and digitalization of our Country.

BICS announced the launch of a pioneering solution for any IoT application built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), to automatically on-board devices wherever they are in the world.

As a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN), BICS can now combine the worldwide multi-network cellular coverage of its SIM for Things solution with CESANTA’s VCON cellular connectivity module, allowing AWS customers to expand their geographic IoT footprint to over 200 countries.

Powered by BICS’ global network, the service is designed to enable IoT devices using ‘SIM for Things’ to be seamlessly provisioned and available to AWS IoT, and for managers of diverse IoT device fleets to utilise AWS's powerful suite of services. By leveraging SIM for Things’ multi-network support and roaming technology, combined with BICS’ 600+ operator partnerships, customers will be able to provision and remotely manage IoT devices throughout the world. The combination of SIM for Things and VCON provides a secure, ready-to-go AWS connectivity and provisioning solution, enabling data reporting, remote device control, and device software updates that optimise brand protection.

BICS and CESANTA have simplified the process for companies seeking to integrate cellular reach with AWS, accelerating the time-to-market of IoT propositions. The off-the-shelf connectivity solution significantly reduces engineering efforts, cuts the time required to develop new products, and minimises operating costs, due to the power and capabilities of AWS IoT.

Mikael-Schachne, VO Mobility and IoT Business, BICS
This is a huge step forward for cellular IoT. With faster time to market and lower development costs, AWS IoT customers who choose BICS’ SIM for Things and CESANTA VCON can guarantee true global connectivity for their products and solutions. 

Anatoly Lebedev, CEO, Cesanta
BICS’ SIM for Things and CESANTA VCON provide a ready-to-go secure AWS connectivity and provisioning solution. Data reporting, remote device control, and fail-safe device software update that guarantee brand protection, are delivered out-of-the-box.

Fortumo and the leading Polish classifieds platform (part of OLX Group) announced a direct carrier billing partnership. 

Consumers can now easily increase the visibility of their ads on by charging the payment to their mobile operator bill. The option to pay with carrier billing is available for all 38 million subscribers of Play, Orange, Plus and T-Mobile in Poland.

On the platform, consumers can increase the visibility of their classifieds through premium features such as highlighted ads and personalized pages. When paying for these features with carrier billing, consumers simply need to enter their phone number and confirm the payment with an SMS-based PIN code. Compared to credit card payments, carrier billing provides a shorter checkout flow as users do not need to enter any personal data during the payment process.

OLX launched carrier billing through Fortumo’s Hosted DCB product. By using Hosted DCB, merchants can cut down on the time and development resources needed to roll out carrier billing. This is due to the fact that only one integration is needed with Fortumo, who already has direct integrations in place with mobile operators.

Besides OLX, Fortumo’s direct carrier billing platform is used by Google Play, Spotify, iflix, Sony, Schibsted, HOOQ, Gaana, EA Mobile, Gameloft, Kinguin and thousands of other merchants. One integration with the platform enables merchants to collect payments from subscribers of more than 350 mobile operators.

Floriane Gramlich, Director of Payments and Monetization Products, OLX
OLX operates in the high growth markets where card penetration is rather low, and people prefer to pay using local payment methods. Carrier Billing helps us cater for all our customer segments and provide our users with a payment method they are able to use.

Andrea Boetti, VP of Global Business Development, Fortumo
Online marketplaces make it quick and easy for consumers to buy and sell items. Carrier billing supports this simplicity by providing merchants with a payment solution that increases their conversion and brings more paying users on board.

Service providers believe that greater focus on network slicing will be crucial to the eventual roll out of 5G services globally, according to new survey data from ECI, independently executed by ACG Research.

While the majority of respondents believe that 5G will be commercially available in the next 12-24 months, it’s likely that slicing will be implemented only a year or two afterwards.

Smart cities, autonomous vehicles and virtual reality are nearly synonymous with the arrival of 5G, and global service providers believe that network slicing will play a large part of making today’s advancements a future reality. 5G envisions a universal platform capable of supporting diverse services, and network slicing enables this “New Age of Services” by utilizing virtual, partitioned networks to better support the various applications based on their performance, reliability and latency requirements.

The survey, conducted by ACG Research on behalf of ECI, polled leaders in mobile, wholesale and fixed-mobile converged service providers in December 2018. A few additional findings from the survey include:

- Primary barriers to 5G commercial deployment: Several potential barriers remain that could delay the commercial deployment of 5G, including lack of available spectrum, immature standards like 3GPP, lack of networking equipment and the required investment.

 - Primary benefits of 5G: In addition to network slicing, many cited additional 5G transport benefits will include higher speed interfaces and increased network capacity. Interestingly, the 5G business case -- i.e., increased revenues and decreased costs (CAPEX/OPEX) -- is not cited among the primary benefits of launching 5G.

 - Primary slicing technology: There is no one slicing technology that was singled out – rather respondents noted they anticipate a combination of FlexEthernet, OTN and VPNs.

 - The vast majority believe that 5G transport networks will be rolled out separately: With ~40 percent suggesting that the 5G transport network will eventually migrate/converge with the 4G/LTE network, about 1/3 suggested the 5G transport network and the 4G transport network will remain distinct. Only 1/4 of respondents believe the 5G transport networks will be rolled out initially as converged with 4G transport.

 - Need for orchestration: Vast majority (70 percent) understand the need for a unified, multi-domain 5G network orchestration approach. Nearly half believe this will be made possible by evolving their existing solution (49 percent), while others mention embracing open-source orchestration modules such as ONAP (30 percent).

Tim Doiron, principal analyst at ACG Research said, “We believe this diversity of views is representative of the variety of service provider needs. Service providers need the help of vendors like ECI to evaluate the best path to 5G transport deployment as well as its migration over time. The right initial deployment strategy may not be right in the medium to long-term, where capabilities like network slicing will become increasingly important to support the range of 5G services and use-cases.”

“We understand that the transition to 5G is not a simple one. While it appears service providers are optimistic about its future, the responses indicate there’s a lack of consensus on just how to ensure a successful roll out,” said Jimmy Mizrahi, head of global portfolio at ECI. “Networks will no doubt evolve at their own pace and in their own manner. Today’s ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to mobile networks is just not viable. That is why we ensure our solutions support whatever migration path is chosen by the carrier.”

To meet market demand, ECI has made great strides in its 5G developments during 2018. Early in the year, ECI launched its dynamic, intelligent 5G connectivity fabric, which acts as a springboard to 5G. It enables operators to easily scale and build underlying infrastructure for addressing key 5G requirements such as ultra-low latency and hyper-flexible bandwidth, while simplifying and automating operational lifecycles. Throughout the year, the company consistently demonstrated advanced technology capabilities, such as segment routing (SR) and FlexEthernet, in labs, at industry showcases and at customer PoCs (proof of concepts). By the end of 2019, ECI expects to be one of the few transport vendors able to offer a full, access-to-core 5G transport solution.

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MWC Shanghai 2018