Displaying items by tag: 4G

Chinese telecommunications colossus ZTE has attributed its first-half net profit success to its investment in 4G infrastructure and handsets. The world’s fourth-largest vendor of smartphones has hit its projected first-half net profit target forecast of 30%.

Analysts said that domestic telephone network providers continued to invest in 4G infrastructure provided by ZTE, and the firm also enjoyed a significant growth in the sales of its mobile devices. ZTE’s profit was $344M, whilst revenue rose by 13% which incidentally was also ZTE’s projected target.

In a statement released to the press, ZTE acknowledged that the organization has been presented with many new opportunities and expressed its vision to deploy 5G products and services. 5G standardization is expected to be established in 2018.

The statement read, “Looking to the second half of 2017, the company faces new opportunities," ZTE said in a statement in Chinese. "4G users and traffic will enter a peak period and pre-5G products will have more application, while 5G's standardization, technology and testing will experience a breakthrough."

ZTE reported more growth in relation to its telecom equipment sector, disclosing that revenue in that business grew by 13%. Its telecoms sector focus primarily on constructing infrastructure such as communications towers and accounts for 60% of overall revenue. ZTE’s remarkable financial results were cemented with the fact that its consumer business had also increased by a whopping 24%.

In March of this year, ZTE was left reeling after it was found guilty by the US Commerce Department for breaching US trade rules. It was fined almost $900M for breaking exports regulations. It’s the only smartphone vendor with a real presence in the US, and it has recovered well since that setback earlier this year, remaining the fourth-biggest vendor in the US after Apple, Samsung and LG.

ZTE executives have insisted they will continue to aggressively invest in wireless and 5G technology, whilst also revealing it aims to invest more in international marketing in the second-half of 2017. Revenue from ZTE’s smallest business area which is government and enterprise services has declined by 18%.

In addition to this, ZTE confirmed that it has agreed to sell 10.1% of its smartphone subsidiary Nubia for 727 million Yuan. That will reduce its equity in the company to 49.9%.

Published in Telecom Vendors

UK telecommunications incumbent EE has threatened Ofcom with legal action if it doesn’t reverse its decision to set a spectrum cap on forthcoming 4G and 5G auctions. EE has been backed by rivals O2 UK as the fallout from the decision shows no signs of abating.

The UK regulator announced in July that it intended to impose a cap of 340MHz on all operators for spectrum expected to be usable by 2020, which was proposed in an effort to reduce the share held by EE, which is the country’s largest asset holder, and its parent company BT.

At the time of Ofcom’s announcement, both 02 UK and 3 UK expressed that the measures proposed fell short in their expectations, whilst EE believed the strategy was ‘unnecessary’. In addition to this, it was disclosed earlier this month that 3 were preparing to initiate a legal challenge, stressing that the regulator had failed to address competition concerns raised by the operator.

3 UK has been a long-term critic of the division of spectrum in the UK, and has vehemently opposed the current policy approach in relation to spectrum allocation. It has previously threatened legal action if Ofcom refused to address the market dominance currently enjoyed by both BT and Vodafone with its auction rules.

Analysts have now predicted that with legal challenges now likely, the 4G and 5G auctions for spectrum which were due to take place at the end of 2017, it will now be delayed until the issues raised have been resolved either through dialogue between Ofcom and the operator or through the courts. EE accepted the regulators decision on 4G, but stressed it wanted to be able to participate in the auction for the most of up-to-date 5G spectrum.

A spokesman for EE said it was reluctant to take legal action, but feels it has no other option to do so, citing that it had an obligation to protect its customers’ mobile experience. The EE representative said, “In response to 3’s action, we have made the difficult decision to challenge the proposed structure of the next auction of mobile spectrum. We need to protect our customers’ mobile experience, and help build the platform for the UK to have the highest quality 5G networks.”

Reports in The Financial Times suggest that Ofcom have declared that any legal action will put the future of mobile data at risk – and issued a warning that it could potentially have a knock-on effect on the rollout of 5G services.

O2 CEO Mark Evans declared that legal action would inevitably delay the auction, and criticized the approach that has been taken.  The CEO said, “Legal action will inevitably cause delay to the auction and gives no thought to the impact and harm this will have to UK customers, companies and economic growth. This country desperately needs more mobile airwaves. It is possible to hold the 2.3GHz auction now and grant immediate access to the newly-available spectrum. Ofcom can and must act,” he added.

Published in Telecom Operators

75 percent of end-user organizations would be willing to pay more for 5G mobile capabilities, according to a Gartner study in which over 200 IT and business leaders from the Gartner Research Circle participated in a survey conducted in the second quarter of 2017. The objective of the survey was to understand how demand for 5G is growing and to learn about adoption plans for the technology. 

“Those in the telecom industry are more likely to be prepared to pay more than those in other industries,” said Sylvain Fabre, research director at Gartner. “End-user organizations in the manufacturing, services and government sectors, for example, are less likely to be willing to pay a premium for 5G than telecom companies, which are willing to pay a 5G premium for their internal use.”

In addition to offering better prices for industries in which users are less convinced of the business benefits of 5G, communications service providers (CSPs) must create value propositions that entice customers to start 5G migration projects sooner, Gartner said.

Although most of the respondents think their organizations would be prepared to pay more for 5G, few (8 percent) expect 5G to deliver cost savings or increase revenues, the study found. 5G is seen principally as a network evolution (59 percent), and only secondarily as an enabler of digital business (37 percent).

The survey also found that respondents from the telecom sector are less persuaded than those in other industries that 5G will be a revenue enhancer. “They tend to see 5G migration as a matter of gradual and inevitable infrastructural change, rather than as an opportunity to generate new revenue,” said Mr. Fabre.

The survey found that almost half the respondents intend to use 5G to access videos and fixed wireless capabilities. More interestingly, though, the majority respondents (57 percent) believe that their organization’s main intention is to use 5G to drive Internet of Things (IoT) communication.

"This finding is surprising, as the number of deployed 'things' that need cellular connectivity won't exceed the capacity of existing cellular IoT technologies before 2023 in most regions," said Mr. Fabre. "And even once fully implemented, 5G will suit only a narrow subset of IoT use cases that require a combination of very high data rates and very low latency. In addition, 5G won't be ready to support massive machine-type communications, or ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, until early 2020."

This finding may also be a sign of confusion about 5G's applicability, as many proven and less expensive alternatives already exist for wireless IoT connectivity — use of Wi-Fi, ZigBee or Bluetooth, for example, would avoid the cost and complexity associated with cellular communications, Gartner said.

A degree of misunderstanding is probably also apparent in the expressed belief by a large majority of the respondents (84 percent) that 5G will be widely available by 2020. By contrast, CSPs' plans indicate that wide availability may not be achieved before 2022, the research firm added. 

Gartner predicts that, by 2020, only 3 percent of the world's network-owning mobile CSPs will have launched 5G networks commercially. "Although standards-compliant commercial network equipment could be available by 2019, commercial rollouts of 5G networks and services by CSPs before 2019 are likely to use pre-standard equipment," added Mr. Fabre.

CSPs' marketing organizations need realistic roadmaps for 5G coverage and typical performance, so that they communicate with customers accurately, Gartner said. They also need to publish clear 5G rollout plans for the years 2019 to 2021 to help innovators understand when and where 5G will be available for IoT applications.

Published in Internet of Things

South African telecommunications firm Vodacom has been forced to delay its planned rollout of 4G services in some of the most rural and remote locations in the country - after it ran out of spectrum. The company’s CTO Andries Delport confirmed that the operator had exhausted its spectrum which subsequently limited urban availability of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A).

In addition to this, Vodacom’s CTO said that its rural 4G coverage initiative had reached 44% of the population, but due to the exhaustive demands on spectrum it was unable to expand its coverage further until more bandwidth is released by South Africa’s regulatory authorities.

Vodacom’s Head of Innovation, Jannie van Zyl echoed the sentiments of her colleague and stressed that the LTE-A rollout was also being constrained by the lack of spectrum assets available. It’s been a long-term problem in South Africa, with the country’s telecommunication operators long raising its displeasure with the slow release of the country’s airwaves, amidst internal squabbles and rows about how the spectrum should be allocated.

Vodacom’s CTO highlighted delays in clearing sub-900MHZ airwaves currently used for analogue broadcast. He believes that allowing access to the airwaves would dramatically quicken and increase the availability of 4G in rural areas.

However, clearing the band has been a long drawn-out process in South Africa, and operators have encountered red tape over the years. South Africa’s authorities were initially working to a deadline of January 2011 in relation to switching off analogue TV signals. The deadline has been moved several times in the years, with the move to digital only occurring in February 2016.

Delays in allocating new bandwidth for wireless services in South Africa has also been a long-standing problem. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa came under intense pressure from operators and government departments over its long-awaited 4G auction. Despite pressure and criticism the process was also postponed from its initial date of January 2017, after a row broke out over communications in the country.

The South African government formally announced a shared network deal in an attempt to increase broadband coverage on a national basis. This would see an open access network created which any operator could access through wholesale agreements.

Published in Telecom Operators

Australian telecom operator Optus announced a further $17.5 million commitment to improve 4G mobile coverage in the Australian island state of Tasmania. The investment will deliver improved call quality and faster download speeds for mobile customers in and around the capital Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Tasmania’s east coast.

“Optus is boosting our investment in our Tasmanian network because we recognize the importance of reliable mobile coverage to our customers and the importance of connectivity to the state’s economy,” said Optus Vice President of Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Andrew Sheridan.

“In the next two years Optus will spend over $17.5 million building 35 mobile sites throughout Tasmania. This investment adds to the $5 million we have spent building ten new sites and $7 million spent upgrading 36 sites to 4G in the past year. Our investment will provide Tasmanians and the state’s 1.26 million annual visitors with more choice and better Optus mobile coverage, call quality and download speeds.”

Optus’ commitment to Tasmania includes new sites in Cradoc and Cradle Mountain to be built over the next two years. Earlier this year Optus announced a separate $6 million commitment to build 12 new sites around the state in the next two years.

The Optus standalone investment is in addition to the launch of Optus’ first Tasmanian site from the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, an initiative to improve and extend mobile phone coverage in regional and remote Australia. Located in Strathgordon, the site utilizes satellite small cell technology, which provides a flexible alternative to traditional mobile towers with the combined benefits of expanding mobile 3G coverage in a concentrated local area in remote and previously un-serviced locations.

The Minister for Regional Communications, Senator the Hon Fiona Nash, welcomed Optus’ investment, and in relation to the Mobile Black Spot Program sites, stated: “In total, Rounds 1 and 2 of the Coalition’s Program will deliver new coverage to 32,000 homes and businesses across 86,000 square kilometres including 7,600 of major transport routes via 765 new mobile phone towers,” Minister Nash said.

“I aim to help build the kinds of communities our children and grandchildren either want to stay in or come back to, and better mobile phone coverage is a big part of that,” the Minister added.

Optus’ 4G Plus network now reaches 96.1 percent of Australians. The Optus network handles over 45 million calls and 80 million SMS messages each day and carries 6,000 terabytes of data each week.

Published in Infrastructure

Ericsson is set to reduce more staff following the disclosure of its financial results for Q2 in 2017. The company has confirmed it will axe staff, although it didn’t speculate how many jobs were at risk, in addition to this it will also reduce its real estate footprint as part of its efforts to make $1.2 billion in cuts.

Ericsson remains in the red following the publication of its Q2 financial performance, and alarmingly indicates a 164% year-on-year decline in net income. However, Ericsson CFO, Carl Mellander, has claimed that the latest round of cuts is part of its strategy to make ‘real efficiency gains’ adding that the savings will enable them to address ‘underperforming parts of the business’.

Ericsson CFO also declined to identify which locations are likely to be effected by the cutbacks, but conceded that it was highly likely that the changes proposed will be implemented and executed internally in a quick fashion. The financial spreadsheet makes grim reading for the Swedish telco, net sales are down 8% year-on-year to SEK 49.9 billion, and its bottom line swung from a SEK1.6 billion profit in Q2 in 2016, to a loss of SEK1 billion for the same period this year.

Ericsson highlighted a number of contributory factors as to why it had endured such a poor financial performance, but stressed that the biggest issue was the faster than expected decline of the overall RAN (Radio Access Network) led by the reduction in demand from China and India. Industry analysts are predicted that the decline in the RAN market will accelerate even more in 2017.

Ericsson has made a number of decisions in recent years in an attempt to halt its slide, but none of these measures introduced have been unable to have the desired effect required. Following its Q1 results earlier this year, the firm pointed to ongoing restructuring programs as a reason for losses.

Ericsson’s new strategy includes focusing on the company’s core telecommunications sector, whilst also attempting to reduce the impact of under-performing units and reviewing long-running unprofitable contracts. Mellander has claimed that he doesn’t expect to see a tangible impact from its rollout of 5G technologies and services to its bottom line until 2019, citing that LTE still had a ‘lot to give’ as operators are faced with the continually requirements to increase capacity on their network.

The CFO said, “There are huge sections of the population not covered by 4G, so I think a lot will happen there. The 4G technology being brought in now is geared towards 5G evolution. Short-term I don’t want to be overly optimistic – we are seeing a decline in the market which is a bit larger than we thought – but longer-term we want to double our profitability beyond 2018.”

Published in Telecom Operators

India’s newest 4G telecommunications operator Reliance Jio has launched an investigation amidst claims that the personal data of over 100 million of its customers has been leaked on to a website. If the claims are found to be true, it would represent the largest ever data breach at an Indian telecommunications operator.

Published in Telecom Operators

5G subscriptions to surpass half a billion by 2022

Written on Tuesday, 27 June 2017 05:55

Full-fledged 5G is just around the corner, according to Ericsson’s latest June 2017 Mobility Report. The acceleration of 5G New Radio (NR) standardization will enable large-scale trials and deployments of 5G in 2019. Thus, the number of 5G subscriptions is forecast to exceed half a billion by the end of 2022.

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), the collaboration between groups of telecommunications associations, known as the Organizational Partners, approved acceleration of the 5G NR standardization schedule in March 2017 by introducing an intermediate milestone for an early variant called Non-Standalone 5G NR. This will enable early 5G deployments, according to Ericsson’s Mobility report, and support the requirements for enhanced mobile broadband services.

Ericsson anticipates that early 5G deployments will occur in several markets in the coming years. In 2022, the number of 5G subscriptions is forecast to reach more than 500 million. However, 5G subscriptions will require a device capable of supporting 5G services and use cases, and that is connected to a 5G-enabled network.

ZTE was the first to unveil a 5G smartphone, called the Gigabit Phone, capable of 1Gbps download speeds. With 5G on the horizon, a 4GB, 6GB or even 10GB plan won’t be enough when you’re dealing with download speeds that approach 1Gbps. ZTE’s Gigabit Phone unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2017, although not available for retail, was intended to showcase 5G and the lighting-fast upload and download speeds that will come with it once the technology is rolled out.

ZTE’s Gigabit Phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Chipset Platform, which features an integrated Snapdragon X16 LTE modem. The solution combines wireless carrier aggregation with 4x4 MIMO antenna technology and 256-QAM modulation to achieve download speeds of up to 1Gpbs. These impressive speeds are no longer theoretical – they represent the future of 5th Generation mobile technology.

It’s debatable whether ZTE’s Gigabit Phone is a “true” 5G device. The company calls it “pre-5G” because it features technologies that will help provide a significant speed increase to bridge the gap during carriers’ transition from 4G to 5G networks. It’s similar to HSPA+, the 3G technology that US telecom operators AT&T and T-Mobile spent time marketing as 4G. To the end user, the technology behind 1Gbps download speeds won’t matter very much while he/she is live-streaming 360-degree panoramic video content.

Over time, 5G will enable a wide range of use cases for massive Internet of Things (IoT) and critical communication, Ericsson reports. For now, GSM/EDGE-only (EDGE is considered a pre-3G radio technology) still constitutes the largest category of mobile subscriptions. However, LTE (high speed wireless communication based on the GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA technologies) is anticipated to become the dominant mobile access technology in 2018, the report highlights, and will likely reach 5 billion subscriptions by the end of 2022. By that time, it’s forecast that the number of LTE subscriptions will be more than seven times the GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions.

In developing markets, GSM/EDGE will still account for a significant share of subscriptions, and across all regions, most 3G/4G subscriptions will still have access to GSM/EDGE as a fallback option, says the report. In addition, GSM/EDGE will continue to play an important role in IoT applications.

Ericsson forecasts that mobile broadband will account for more than 90 percent of all mobile subscriptions by 2022. It’s anticipated that by the end of that year there will be 9 billion mobile subscriptions. In addition, mobile broadband subscriptions will likely reach 8.3 billion, thereby accounting for more than 90 percent of all mobile subscriptions. The number of unique mobile subscribers, according to Ericsson, is estimated to reach 6.2 billion by the end of 2022.

Today, 90 percent of smartphone subscriptions are for 3G and 4G. Devices are more affordable than they once were which is driving increased smartphone adoption, Ericsson highlights. At the end of 2016, there were 2.9 billion smartphone subscriptions, the majority of which were 3G and 4G. Ericsson predicts that by 2022, the number of smartphone subscriptions will reach 6.7 billion, and almost all of these will be for mobile broadband.

Regional subscription outlook

Across all regions mobile subscriptions continue to grow, according to Ericsson’s report, fueled by a strong uptake in mobile broadband. Mobile subscriptions account for between 50 and 85 percent of all mobile subscriptions in 5 out of 6 regions in the world. For many people living in developing markets, their first experience of the internet is through mobile networks on a smartphone.

From the perspective of Africa and the Middle East, the penetration of mobile broadband is currently lower than in other regions, but the number of mobile subscriptions is expected to increase significantly. The driving factors behind this growth, the Ericsson report indicates, include a growing young population and more affordable smartphone options.

Interestingly, it is not Apple or Samsung – the current top players in smartphones – that dominates Africa’s fast-growing smartphone market. In fact, it is Transsion Holdings, an obscure Chinese manufacturer that won over African consumers. Transsion offered handsets with two SIM-card slots, after research showed that Africans were carrying additional cards to avoid making out-of-network calls to save money. In addition, Transsion optimized its cameras to better highlight dark skin tones.

According to a recent report by consultancy Deloitte, Middle East mobile operators are expected to invest US$50 billion in network infrastructure from 2017-2021, with particular focus on 5G networks. These investments are particularly timely as the region is scheduled to host key events such as the Expo 2020 in Dubai where millions of people will be using their mobiles to send and receive SMS, video content and social media.

Ericsson predicts that over the next few years, Africa and the Middle East will dramatically shift from a region with a majority of GSM-EDGE-only subscriptions, to a region where 80 percent of the subscriptions will be WCDMA/HSPA and LTE. However, GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions will still account for a significant share of subscriptions by 2022. In comparison, WCDMA/HSPA and LTE already account for around 65 percent of all mobile subscriptions in South America, which is expected to increase to 95 percent by 2022.

Overall, North America has the highest share of LTE subscriptions because of rapid migration from CDMA and WCDMA/HSPA-based networks. This trend will continue with 5G, according to Ericsson’s report, as leading operators in the region have said their intention is to expand into pre-standardized 5G as early as 2017. This will result in North America having the highest share of 5G subscriptions in 2022 at 25 percent. In comparison, Western Europe’s regional share of 5G subscriptions in 2022 is expected to be 5 percent.

China, the world’s most populous country, has seen ongoing deployment of LTE and is expected to result in more than 1.3 billion LTE subscriptions by the end of 2022, according to Ericsson’s report, making up around 80 percent of all mobile subscriptions. However, across Asia Pacific, LTE will represent just 55 percent of all mobile subscriptions by the end of 2022. By that year, 5G will account for around 10 percent of Asia Pacific’s subscriptions, with deployments starting in South Korea, Japan and China.

Published in Reports

EE demonstrates fastest download speeds in UK with 4G+

Written on Sunday, 11 June 2017 10:10

EE, the UK’s largest mobile network operator and part of the BT Group, has switched on the next generation of its 4G+ network and demonstrated live download speeds of 429Mbps in Cardiff city centre using Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium, which launched on Friday 2 June.

The state of the art network capability has been switched on in Cardiff and the Tech City area of London. Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh city centers will have sites upgraded during 2017, and the capability will be built across central London. Peak speeds can be above 400Mbps with the right device, and customers connected to these sites should be able to consistently experience speeds above 50Mbps.

Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium is the UK’s first ‘Cat 16’ smartphone optimized for the EE network, and EE is the only mobile network upgrading its sites to be able to support the new device’s unique upload and download capabilities. All devices on the EE network will benefit from the additional capacity and technology that EE is building into its network.

“Sony has raised the bar in smartphone speeds, and we’re investing and innovating to match that and give our customers the fastest network speeds in the UK,” said Marc Allera, EE CEO. “What we’ve demonstrated live in Cardiff is more than ten times the average mobile download speed. We’re rolling out this new capability in Cardiff and London’s Tech City, and we’ll keep expanding to the busiest areas of the UK so that our customers always have a great connection to do the things they love.”

The sites that are capable of delivering these maximum speeds are equipped with 30MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, and 35MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. The 1800MHz carriers are delivered using 4x4 MIMO, which sends and receives four signals instead of just two, making the spectrum up to twice as efficient. The sites also broadcast 4G using 256QAM, or Quadrature Amplitude Modulation, which increases the efficiency of the spectrum.

These two cutting edge technologies applied to EE’s 4G network help to further improve customer experience by increasing capacity, meaning faster speeds and a more reliable data experience.

Published in Telecom Operators

French telecom giant Orange has launched its brand in Liberia in West Africa. From now on, Cellcom Liberia becomes Orange Liberia. The acquisition of the Liberian operator Cellcom was finalized by Orange, through its subsidiary Orange Côte d’Ivoire, on 6 April 2016, allowing the Group to reinforce its presence in West Africa.

In line with its Essentials2020 strategic plan, Orange has built up a considerable presence in this region, which offers strong growth potential and is a strategic priority for the Group’s development.

Following this rebranding, Orange Liberia will join one of the world’s most powerful telecom brands and stands to benefit from being part of a large international group. Orange will work to further strengthen the operator’s established network and enhance customer service in Liberia.

With over 1.6 million customers at the end of February 2017, Orange Liberia is the leading mobile operator in Liberia in terms of customers. Founded in 2004, the mobile operator has been a driving force in democratizing access to telecommunication services across the country, despite difficult market conditions.

It has always been a precursor in terms of network deployment and in 2012 was the first operator in Liberia to launch 3G (HSPA+) services following by 4G-LTE services in 2016. Orange will pursue this strategy and will continue to invest in the development of its network where the company is already a market leader.

With a population of 4.6 million people and relatively low mobile penetration rate (70% of the population) the country has a high growth potential for Orange. To support this development, the Group will work to reinforce the quality of access in several areas:

  • Investing in network expansion. For example, the construction of 39 sites in 2016 and 65 additional sites planned for 2017. Part of the plan is to accelerate broadband deployment and to expand 4G penetration across the country.
  • Strongly enhancing Internet quality by providing access to the Group’s submarine and international cable networks. Orange Liberia will benefit from two additional secure connection points in Abidjan and Paris that will multiply network capacity by four.

“With this new presence in Liberia, Orange extends its footprint in West Africa. The launch of the Orange brand confirms our confidence in the country’s ongoing economic recovery and our commitment to bring all the benefits of new digital services to Liberians,” said Bruno Mettling, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Group and Chairman and CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa.

Mamadou Coulibaly, CEO of Orange Liberia, added: “Even in 2017, an important part of the Liberian population is still waiting for basic telecom services. We will invest significantly in network roll-out across the entire country, develop e-recharge in order to ease the constraints of scratch-cards loading, launch Orange Money, a new robust platform to boost mobile banking services in the country. We will as well introduce new highly competitive offers and low cost Smartphones in order to boost digital inclusion. We intend to position Orange Liberia by 2020 as a true catalyst for the digitization of Liberian society”.

Orange is present in 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, where it has more than 120 million customers. With 5.2 billion euros in revenues in 2016 (12% of the total), this region is a strategic priority for the Group. Orange Money, its flagship offer for money transfers and mobile financial services, is currently available in 17 countries and has more than 31 million customers.

Published in Telecom Operators
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