Displaying items by tag: 2018

US operator suffers drop in its revenue as it prepares for 5G

Written on Tuesday, 05 February 2019 08:13

US telecommunications operator Sprint has posted a disappointing performance in its financial returns for Q4 in 2018.

Published in Telecom Operators

When Rio de Janeiro was announced as the venue for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the world held its breath. Doubt gnawed at athletes who grew wary about the city’s cleanliness and safety, while Brazil’s political instability was also called into question. In the end, Rio pulled through and put on a spectacular show. But premium connectivity proved to be an issue with so many people uploading and downloading content on the go. With the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics set for 2018, 5G has been highlighted as the ultimate solution to deliver premium connectivity to attendees. South Korea is racing to deliver 5G on time, despite predictions for a 2020 launch.   

We’re living in the dawn of the online era. Sharing content online has become an essential tool at events like the Olympics for media and enthusiasts to share sporting victories and highlight intriguing controversies. Even though Brazil made its best effort to connect people by bringing in 180 mobile stations and 40 dedicated coverage stations in anticipation of the high communication volume, weak infrastructure was exposed as it attempted to deal with an estimated  27 million voice calls and three million SMS texts.

As the fifth-largest country in the world, covering 3.3 million square miles, Brazil faced unique challenges creating seamless connectivity for the 2016 Olympics. For instance, there are areas of rural countryside that require some degree of coverage but don’t have the same demands as the cities. What’s more, Brazil’s urban centers have huge populations making it all the more difficult to serve (Sao Paulo hosts more than 11 million people, while Rio hosts more than 6 million).

These obstacles have made Brazilian telecommunications services infamously unreliable and expensive. According to a report by Recode, SMS texts in Brazil cost 55 times more than in the U.S. As a result, Brazil has become famous for its widespread use of the free messaging service WhatsApp, with 96 percent of the population said to be using it as their primary channel of communication. At the Rio Olympics, every Snapchat sent, every Tweet and every Facebook post uploaded, put a strain on Rio’s mobile infrastructure.

To offer an immersive and connected experience for those who attend the Olympics, mobile operators are planning to introduce 5G at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, to provide innovative new services to spectators, viewers and organizers. If implemented by then, 5G could transform the experience of watching live sporting events, removing the obstacle Rio faced with so many people uploading and downloading at the same time, since 5G is expected to serve data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users, with added spectral efficiency compared to 4G, and reduced latency.

But will 5G be ready for deployment as early as February 2018? Korea Telecom certainly believes so. The telco has been selected as the official telecommunications service provider for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, which the company has dubbed the “5G Olympics”. KT plans to show the world how far it has gone in deployment and testing of 5G technologies. The company is working closely with American telecom operator Verizon as part of its effort to lead the development of a 5G standard, and will also be conducting 5G trials with a view to launching a live service ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

KT’s Jae Yoon Park spoke at the LTE World Summit in Amsterdam this year, where he presented the operator’s 5G vision and enabling strategy to achieve next-generation cellular connectivity. He suggested that achieving 5G connectivity will be as big an achievement as it was putting a man on the moon. After giving a technological and strategic overview of KT’s 5G roadmap, Park said a revolution is required in order to realize the full potential of 5G.

“5G evolution alone based on LTE is not going to realize its own potential, a revolution based on new industry architecture, a new radio access technology is required,” said Park. “KT will continually evolve its network and develop key technologies, like massive MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) with beamforming, as well as virtualization such as vRAN, SDN and NFV.”

Park discussed the spectrum requirements of 5G, and stressed the significance of MIMO and beamforming to help cope. “Coverage should be one of the main concerns, as well as throughput, latency and capacity,” he said. “It is speculated that 5G will utilize ultra-high frequencies beyond 6GHz. Massive MIMO and beamforming will be mandatory.”

KT is optimistic about launching 5G in time for the 2018 Winter Olympics – a target that will be a world-first. “We’re trialing a 5G network across Seoul, PyeongChang, Jeongseon, Bogwang, and Incheon International airport, using our revolution versus evolution model,” Park said. “We believe PyeongChang 2018 will be the first 5G Olympic Games ever.”

According to a recent post on the Netmanias Tech Blog, "KT is aiming to add 35,000 wired communication lines along the communication duct lines (1,391 km long) being placed across the town of the event. It also plans to install over 5,000 Wi-Fi APs, support 4G/5G/WiFi access, and deploy a mobile communication network capable of supporting up to active 250,000 devices concurrently.

“The company is also building a cloud-based data center to ensure more efficient and reliable mobile services through more stabilized networks even during traffic spikes with hundreds of thousands of concurrent users. The data center is scheduled to be completed in the first half of the year, and will become fully stabilized after trial operation in the second half of the year."

5G standardization

There is reason to doubt that 5G could be ready for deployment by 2018 because of its current lack of standardization. The 3GPP standards body is working on standardizing 5G as soon as possible, but the group isn’t planning to produce the first incarnation of Release 15 (the first 5G specifications) until June 2018. That means if 5G is introduced at the 2018 Winter Olympics, it will have to be pre-standardization. Even so, South Korea remains confident that it will be able to deliver 5G at its games, and beat Japan to the race.

The United Nations International Telecommunications Union has set a goal for 5G standardization by 2020, far from what South Korea expects, meaning that the technology might not even be fully defined until then. But in saying that, there are some technologies that are widely expected to be a part of 5G, such as the use of millimeter save spectrum, which according to the Korea Times, is an area of expertise of great interest to Verizon Wireless.

In February this year, KT joined with Verizon, as well as its South Korean counterpart SK Telecom, and Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, to set testing standards for 5G. The announcement was made at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The purpose of the alliance was to help network equipment manufacturers design 5G equipment more efficiently, and allow the wireless industry to test key technical components.

Verizon and SK Telecom have since announced further ties to strengthen their 5G network footprint. The telcos recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to merge their 5G technical specifications on a global basis. The partnership is said to produce a number of joint studies and research that will further be utilized for the development of 5G technical specification and innovative use cases.

Like KT, SK Telecom is eager for a pre-commercial 5G launch in 2017. The company plans to bring together an “end-to-end 5G pilot system in an outdoor environment” using the “key enabling technologies” it has identified for 5G which includes: millimeter wave (mmWave), high-frequency radio connectivity for devices and network, LTE, 5G and WiGig (60GHz) internetworking, virtualized RAN, network slicing and a distributed core network, all by the end of 2016.

SK Telecom also has ambitions for a large scale pre-commercial 5G deployment for more detailed assessment of the overall 5G system by 2017. In March, the company completed a 5G 28GHz radio test outdoors.

American operator AT&T has also made waves in the run-up to 5G, working with several other teclos to enable 5G deployment once 3GPP completes the first release of the official specifications, which will form the basis of the global standards for 5G. AT&T has reportedly entered preliminary discussions with Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Huawei, Intel, LG, Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK Telecom, Telstra, Vodafone and others to find and resolve key standards issues to boost commercialization of 5G.  

“We’re joining other tech leaders to find and resolve key standards issues early and bring 5G to market sooner,” said Tom Keathley, senior vice president, wireless network architecture and design, AT&T. “Interim and fragmented pre-standard specifications can distract from the ultimate goal. Linking trials to the standards process is the fastest path to large-scale global 5G deployment.”

AT&T has been trialing 5G this year, including lab tests in the second quarter and outdoor tests in Middletown, New Jersey and Austin, Texas over the summer. 5G speeds between 10 to 100 times faster than today’s average 4G LTE connections were anticipated by the AT&T, and it achieved this in June when its 5G data speeds reached up to 10 Gbps in the lab.

South Korea’s great ambition

South Korea is working aggressively to launch 5G by 2018 in order to set the record as the first country to launch the technology at an Olympic event. To get there, GSMA Intelligence indicates that the country’s R&D efforts are partially integrated with similar efforts taking place around the world. For example, some of the 5G research that is going on in South Korea is being partly financed by the European Union, through collaboration with the Korean government on 5G technologies.

A report by Mobile World Live says the Finnish University of Oulu’s research unit - The Centre for Wireless Communications – has been deployed to develop the necessary 5G radio solutions and integrating them into a functioning mobile network, to be ready for the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Similar arrangements are said to exist with operators, vendors and research institutes in Germany, France, Belgium and Korea. Swedish vendor Ericsson is specifically supporting KT’s efforts to develop 5G.

Tying into its smart-connected vision, in 2014, South Korea announced plans adopted by the government to build a broadband network dedicated to public safety using LTE technology to be deployed nationwide by 2017 just in time for the Winter Olympics.

In July, SK Telecom said it had established a demonstration network for its public safety long-term evolution (SP-LTE) service in Gangwon Province. The Korean carrier said it had completed its own demonstration PS-LTE network in the same region for the government’s trial project to prepare to launch a nationwide pubic security network service before the 2017 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

In the case of an emergency, the PS-LTE network will be able to seamlessly transfer multimedia information, such as high-resolution photos and videos, between related government departments and agencies, including fire departments, police and rescue teams, through high-speed LTE networks to support efficient relief activities, reports Korea Times. SK Telecom says it has passed all functional qualification tests and approval processes administered by the Ministry of Public Safety and Security.

SK Telecom has established new mobile base stations and an emergency recovery system to provide temporary networks incase network facilities are damaged by natural disasters. The telco said these technologies have been certified by the Telecommunications Technology Association for compatibility and security.

South Korea also launched its inaugural commercial, low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) network in July that will allow smart devices to communicate. The only other country to launch a nationwide IoT network is the Netherlands. SK Telecom was behind the initiative, which uses technology that will allow it to reach 99 percent of South Korea’s population.

Given the collected efforts of multiple telcos around the world to develop 5G, as well as a nationwide commercial IoT network, and forward-thinking network safety technology being put in place, South Korea could see its dream of 5G deployment come true at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Domestic competition between the likes of SK Telecom and KT, as well as considerable international interest could see 5G pushed into early deployment just in time.

Published in Featured

The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report, published on June 1, reveals that the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to overtake mobile phones as the largest category of connected device by 2018.

Between 2015 and 2021, the number of IoT connected devices is expected to grow 23 percent annually, of which cellular IoT is forecast to have the highest growth rate. Of the 28 billion total devices that will be connected by 2021, close to 16 billion will be IoT devices.

Western Europe will lead the way in adding IoT connections – the number of IoT devices in this market is projected to grow 400 percent by 2021. This will principally be driven by regulatory requirements, for example for intelligent utility meters, and a growing demand for connected cars including the EU e-call directive to be implemented in 2018.


Rima Qureshi, senior vice president & chief strategy officer, Ericsson, says: “IoT is now accelerating as device costs fall and innovative applications emerge. From 2020, commercial deployment of 5G networks will provide additional capabilities that are critical for IoT, such as network slicing and the capacity to connect exponentially more devices than is possible today.”

Smartphone subscriptions continue to increase and are forecast to surpass those for basic phones in Q3 this year. By 2021, smartphone subscriptions will almost double from 3.4 billion to 6.3 billion. Also revealed in the report, there are now 5 billion mobile subscribers – unique users – in the world today, which is testament to the phenomenal growth of mobile technology in a relatively short period of time.

Detailed in the report is a dramatic shift in teen viewing habits: use of cellular data for smartphone video grew 127 percent in just 15 months (2014-15). Over a period of four years (2011-15) there has been a 50 percent drop in the time teens spend watching TV/video on a TV screen, and in contrast an 85 percent increase in those viewing TV/video on a smartphone. This, and the fact that the upcoming generation of mobile users are the heaviest consumers of data for smartphone video streaming (Wi-Fi and cellular combined), makes them the most important group for cellular operators to monitor.

In 2016, a long anticipated milestone is being passed with commercial LTE networks supporting downlink peak data speeds of 1 Gbps. Devices that support 1 Gbps are expected in the second half of 2016, initially in markets such as Japan, US, South Korea and China, but rapidly spreading to other regions. Mobile users will enjoy extremely fast time to content thanks to this enhanced technology, which will enable up to two thirds faster download speeds compared with the fastest technology available today. 

Further highlights from the Ericsson Mobility Report include:

A global growth story: mobile broadband subscriptions will grow fourfold in the Middle East and Africa between 2015 and 2021; mobile data traffic in India will grow fifteen times by 2021; and despite being the most mature market, US mobile traffic will grow 50 percent in 2016 alone.

Data traffic continues unabated growth: global mobile data traffic grew 60 percent between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, due to rising numbers of smartphone subscriptions and increasing data consumption per subscriber. By the end of 2021, around 90 percent of mobile data traffic will be from smartphones.

LTE subscriptions grew at a high rate during Q1 2016: there were 150 million new subscriptions during the quarter – driven by demand for improved user experience and faster networks – reaching a total of 1.2 billion worldwide. LTE peak data speeds of 1 Gbps are anticipated to be commercially available in 2016.

Additional spectrum harmonization needed between countries planning early 5G deployment: 5G is expected to start more quickly than anticipated, and spectrum harmonization is needed between countries planning early roll-outs. This is in addition to the current process for WRC-19, which focuses on spectrum for commercial 5G deployments beyond 2020. 

The Ericsson Mobility Report is one of the leading analyses of mobile data traffic available, providing in-depth measurements from live networks spread around the globe. The report uses these measurements and analysis, together with internal forecasts and other relevant studies, to provide insights into current traffic and market trends in the Networked Society.

The Traffic Exploration Tool, which accompanies the report, can be used to create customized graphs and tables. The information can be filtered by region, subscription, technology, traffic and device type. The report defines a connected device as a physical object that has an IP stack enabling two-way communication over a network interface.

Published in Telecom Vendors

Telefónica’s USA-Brazil submarine cable planned for 2018

Written on Wednesday, 01 June 2016 11:00

Telefónica will deploy BRUSA, a new submarine cable nearly 11,000 km in length linking Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza (Brazil) with San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Virginia Beach (USA). The cable is expected to begin operations in early 2018 reinforcing Telefónica’s infrastructure leadership in the Americas.

BRUSA will increase route diversity on U.S.-South America routes with an entirely new landing point on the U.S. mainland. At present, no other cables land at Virginia Beach. Other existing and planned U.S.-Brazil cable systems either land or plan to land in Florida or the New York-New Jersey area. BRUSA will therefore offer a new diverse path on the U.S.-Brazil route. This diverse path helps to minimize the risk that a single event, such as a hurricane or anchor or fishing-net entanglement, will disrupt all U.S.-Brazil communications.

BRUSA will offer significant new capacity on a route where capacity demand is increasing substantially each year and where existing systems are nearing the ends of their useful lives. SAm-1, South American Crossing/Latin American Nautilus, and GlobeNeteach entered into commercial service in 2001, while Americas-II entered into commercial service in 2000.

This new system will consist of eight fibre pairs. BRUSA will provide critical new and replacement capacity on the U.S.-Brazil route. It will offer capacity in large increments until the year 2042, far beyond the useful life of most existing systems serving the U.S.-Brazil route.

BRUSA will have a total length of 11,200 kilometres, with a trunk between Virginia Beach, and Rio de Janeiro. It will have two spurs connecting to the trunk via branching units; one spur will connect to San Juan, while the other will connect to Fortaleza. BRUSA will consist of eight optical fibre pairs, with an initial capacity of 1 Tbps and a total design capacity of 108 Tbps. Four “express route” fibre pairs will connect Virginia Beach directly with Rio de Janeiro. Two fibre pairs will connect Virginia Beach, San Juan and Rio de Janeiro, and two fibre pairs will connect Virginia Beach, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro.

The BRUSA cable system will enhance competition by competing vigorously with other submarine cable systems on all of the international routes it will serve. Specifically, the BRUSA cable system will compete directly with the existing Americas-II, AMX-1, GlobeNet, and South American Crossing/Latin American Nautilus systems, which—on the U.S. end—land either in Florida, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. It will also compete directly with the planned Seabras-1 and Monet systems, which will land in New Jersey and Florida, respectively.

This new infrastructure will improve communication reliability and deliver enhanced resilience by increasing the number of USA landing points, overall network performance and end-to-end security. BRUSA will also provide one of the lowest latency communication links between the two largest economies in the region, Brazil and USA, and will offer a greater flexibility and scalability than previously deployed systems.

Construction

Telefónica and Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks (ASN) have signed a turnkey agreement to deploy a nearly 11,000 km submarine cable system linking Brazil to the United States. Named BRUSA, the system will increase end-to-end connectivity and the availability of ultra high-speed broadband services in the region. BRUSA will support ultrafast transmission allowing Telefónica to strengthen its offer in the wholesale market and addressing the exponential growth of data transmission generated by its business-to-business customers, telecom operators, webscale operators and end-users. Linking Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza (Brazil) with San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Virginia Beach (USA), the system will also deliver enhanced resiliency over the Brazil-to-US route.

Philippe Piron, President of Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks, said: “BRUSA comes at a moment of continued interest in the Brazil-US route to reliably carry increasing volumes of data traffic as global demand for ultra-broadband access rises. We are pleased to support Telefónica in seizing the growth opportunities of the global wholesale market and meeting its customers’ demands by making available our latest technology advancements in subsea wet design as an integral part of BRUSA.”

BRUSA will deploy Alcatel-Lucent Submarine Networks’ technology, which provides full scalability that covers large system deployments and web-scale connectivity. Thanks to stepless optical transmission tuning capabilities offered by ASN’s technology, operators can extract maximum capacity from the wet plant and dry plant and create economies of scale by offering fast and dynamic provisioning.

Other Americas Infrastructure

Telefónica has recently strengthened its infrastructure in the Americas with the deployment of the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS), a consortium submarine cable with a transmission capacity of up to 80 Tbps, which links Jacksonville (Florida, USA) with the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. In addition, Telefónica also manages the Unisur cable connecting Uruguay and Argentina and the SAM-1, a submarine cable system deployed in 2000, which forms a 25,000 km ring linking the USA, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

This new submarine cable reinforces Telefónica’s ambition to provide a more cost effective and reliable service to Telefónica companies as well as other telecom operators and content providers, allowing Telefonica to seize the growth opportunities of the global wholesale market.

José María Álvarez-Pallete, Executive Chairman of Telefónica explained that “the company has deeply changed since its origins, keeping the spirit of permanent change and the ambition to be relevant in our DNA: relevant in the digital ecosystem, in all our markets, and especially relevant to people.”

He also reminded us that the aim of the company is to become an Onlife Telco, a telco for and by the people. In this sense, Telefónica has the largest home fibre network available in Spain with more than 14.3 million connected real estate units, and is the European country with the largest number of clients connected with this technology. As for the penetration of LTE, this is 75% in Europe and 43% in Latin America.

He also highlighted that at this time of technological disruption where connectivity is the corner stone, Telefónica is building its future with the support of four major, distinctive technological platforms. Thus, the first of these platforms is made up of the company’s physical assets such as stores, data centers, etc., and the second of networks, operations and differential commercial systems “with unrivalled storage and processing capabilities”, explained Álvarez-Pallete. The third platform consists in the best products and services platforms, while the fourth platform that Telefónica is building is that of client knowledge, tightly linked to Big Data, and that will help the client to recover sovereignty over his/her digital life.

Telxius

BRUSA will become part of Telxius, the global company recently created by Telefónica to best optimize its infrastructure asset portfolio and that will gradually integrate certain of these assets including part of its tower and submarine fiber optic cable networks.

Telecom Review recently reported on this infrastructure overhaul when Telefónica announced the creation of Telxius, a new global company which brings together certain infrastructure assets of the Group.

Telxius will enable the management of the Telefónica Group’s infrastructure on a global scale with a more specialized and focused approach, with the aim of increasing the services provided to other operators, improving the return on capital invested and allowing Telxius to participate more actively in the growth opportunities that exist in the industry, including the possibility of incorporating third party assets.

The infrastructure assets which will initially be brought together in Telxius will include approximately 15,000 Telefónica telecommunication towers in Spain and other countries, as well as the Telefónica Group´s international network of 31,000km of submarine fibre optic cable, including SAM-1, a submarine cable that connects the United States with Central and South America.

Published in Featured