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Airtel, Qualcomm team up to accelerate 5G in India

Inside Telecom Staff

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5G in India

India-based operator Bharti Airtel announced on Monday that it has partnered with American chipmaker Qualcomm to accelerate 5G within the country shortly following Airtel’s demonstration of 5G services in Hyderabad over its live 4G network.

The deal will allow the operator to effectively utilize Qalcomm’s 5G RAN platforms, through its network vendors and device partners, to roll-out virtualized and Open RAN-based 5G networks and applications for Industry 4.0 use cases and for driving innovations for Airtel’s global operations.

“With Airtel’s integrated service portfolio and Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G leadership, we will be well placed to usher India into the next era of hyper-fast and ultra-low latency digital connectivity,” Randeep Sekhon, chief technology officer at Bharti Airtel, said in a joint statement.

In parallel, the partnership will also include a collaboration to enable a wide array of use cases, including 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) that is designed to deliver broadband connectivity at Gigabit speeds to homes and businesses.

“This collaboration also aims to allow a faster rollout of broadband services in a cost effective and expeditious manner across India for ‘last mile’ connectivity challenges that are becoming increasingly important in today’s remote, mobile-first society,” the statement read.

It is worth mentioning that this is Qualcomm’s second partnership within India’s telecom sector, as it attempts to bolster its presence within a very key telecommunications market.

The previous deal took place back in October 2020, when Jio along with its wholly owned subsidiary Radisys Corporation teamed up with the U.S.-based chipmaker developed open and interoperable interface compliant architecture based 5G solutions with a virtualized RAN.

Jio and Qualcomm had then achieved over a 1 Gbps milestone on the Reliance Jio 5GNR solution, leveraging the Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms.

Airtel is looking to follow that success with its 5G solutions including FWA services to match the delivery of multi-gigabit internet speeds wirelessly to customers and open up a wide range of innovations.

“There is a compelling case to accelerate the roll-out of 5G networks in India, as it will help fast-track the country’s socio-economic growth and development. This collaboration is expected to play a critical role in Airtel’s plans to add 5G network coverage and capacity where and when it is needed the most,” said Rajen Vagadia, Vice President, Qualcomm India.

All three private Indian telcos are eyeing OpenRAN as a viable method to cut network-related costs and bring in more customizations as they upgrade their networks to 5G technology. They are in touch with various companies like NEC, Altiostar and Mavenir among others.

According to the statement, Airtel – which is a member of the O-RAN Alliance, expressed its commitment to driving the success of O-RAN and is working with Qualcomm Technologies to explore and implement the O-RAN approach for India.

“The flexible and scalable architecture of O-RAN will create new opportunities for small and medium-sized businesses to become viable players in the deployment of 5G networks,” it added.

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5G

STC Kuwait deploys Stand Alone 5G infrastructure

Inside Telecom Staff

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5G infrastructure

Kuwait telecoms giant STC announced earlier last week the successful commercialization step of implementing 5G Stand Alone (5G SA). The milestone is considered to be the second and most disruptive development of the comprehensive 3GPP 5th generation compliant network.

STC also successfully accomplished the widest scale of 5G deployment coverage on Sub-3GHz and 2.1GHz amongst other mobile service providers in the MENA region. Alongside these two achievements, the company enhanced its infrastructure with the deployment of an advanced automated Business Support System.

In a statement released by the company, STC indicated that it has been progressing with major 5G SA developments to advance its 5G network architecture, enabling the radical transformation of the telecom industry into an as-a-Service model in line with Kuwait’s 2035 vision.

5G SA technology will enable STC’s subscribers to enjoy higher uplink bandwidth, especially catering to specialized use scenarios, such as enterprise applications where uplink throughput is equally important as downlink.

Additionally, the technology will lower user-traffic latency to address key issues related to interruptions in gaming experience, while kicking off market interest in new rich forms of gaming technology like Virtual Reality (VR). 5G SA will also feature higher levels of security that utilize the best industry know-how to provide robustness to telecom networks.

Further empowering Multi-Access Edge Computing (MEC) deployment, 5G SA will enable STC to become not only Cloud Native, but Edge Native as well. This transition will allow service aggregation near subscriber premises.

From massive data processing in enterprise campus scenarios, real-time data processing in industrial control, and autonomous driving, to massive IoT use cases requiring analytics localization and better user experience for AR/VR/cloud.

5G SA enables different verticals to gain advantage from STC’s infrastructure by creating end-to-end isolated logical networks that share resources in a secured, isolated, and efficient way, also known as Network Slicing.

This allows public and private corporations increase their levels of efficiency and increase revenue when building their private networks, without the hassle of investing in new infrastructure, acquiring new spectrums, developing coverage, and getting capital assets.

STC will also be able to offer diversified digital services to verticals, such as guaranteed voice over 5G applications (VoNR), dedicated data access, dedicated internet access, as well as on-demand services such as, cloud CCTV capabilities to empower enhanced smart city services to citizens and assist businesses in innovating and generating new revenue streams in untapped markets.

Focusing on the user experience and enhanced 5G coverage, especially indoors and in weak coverage spots, STC started delivering Sub-3GHz 2.1GHz 5G NR with national wide implementation since mid-2020. 

Currently, 2.1GHz 5G NR sites have been strategically installed in dense districts. To further boost its infrastructure coverage, STC plans to deploy more sites in 2021.

The new deployment will play an important role for a number of years to come, providing enhanced Quality of Experience (QoE) for multiple 5G use cases, such as HD voice, 4K video streaming, online gaming, telemedicine and collaborative applications.

The services are offered over the most popular 2.1 GHz 5G NR supported smartphones and other 5G devices including Apple, Samsung, and Huawei devices. This will enable smoother access to 5G Carrier Aggregation (CA) Services and mass deployment for Internet of Thing (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) over STC’s 5G infrastructure offering enhanced smart city services to users, while assisting businesses in launching new-to-market solutions. 

In parallel, STC has been systematically working on monetizing its 5G infrastructure with advanced Business Support Systems toward native cloud Network architecture. The systems aim to introduce innovative Network-as-a-Service models capable of integrating 3rd party APIs and utilizing DevOps Tools to suit wide-ranges of industry transformations.

“STC positions itself to provide state-of-the-art 5G intelligent connectivity and agile 5G SA cloud native infrastructure to ensure mapping of business and government transformations,” Fahad Abdulrahman Al Ali, Chief Technology Officer at STC, noted in the statement.

The company’s strategic plans tie in new opportunities by utilizing new generation 5G infrastructure with rich multidimensional designs and a native cloud architecture to offer enterprises with guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

After the large-scale deployment of Sub-3GHz 5G, STC projects high levels of improved in-depth coverage and user experience of STC’s 5G network, laying a solid foundation for the sound development of 5G MBB services. 

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Polish Telco Play partners up with Samsung to conduct 5G trials

Inside Telecom Staff

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South Korean tech giant Samsung announced on Wednesday a partnership with Polish telco Play to conduct 4G and 5G trials in Warsaw.

According to a joint statement, Samsung and Play will verify the capability and performance of Samsung’s 4G and 5G network solutions in the trial, which will be carried out in Play’s labs and commercial networks, beginning in Q2 of this year.

The trial will also test the interoperability between Play’s 2G/3G legacy networks and Samsung’s latest solutions, which will see Samsung R&D Institute Poland taking part as well.

The Polish telco provides mobile voice, messaging, data and video services for both consumers and businesses – Play boasts over 15 million subscribers across the nation, covering 99 percent of the country’s population.

“At Play we are open to the innovative technologies offered by our partners. The partnership with Samsung is another initiative that allows us to choose the best solutions for the rollout of our network. It is its extension and modernization that have a direct impact on the comfort of our customers,” said Michał Ziółkowski, Management Board Member and Chief Technology Officer at Play.

For the trial, Samsung will provide its latest 4G and 5G solutions—including 4G radios, 5G Massive MIMO radios and baseband units—on low and mid-band spectrums. Samsung’s 5G Massive MIMO radios have been commercially deployed since 2019 and are currently in operation across the globe.

Slim and lightweight, Samsung’s Massive MIMO radios ensure easy installation and quick deployment for mobile operators and increase coverage, boost data speeds to enrich 5G experience for users.

The company’s baseband unit offers improved performance with enhanced capacity and throughput, while supporting both 4G and 5G frequencies in a single unit. With this solution, operators can increase flexibility in network management and achieve cost efficiency.

“This trial will serve as a meaningful milestone for the two companies’ collaborative efforts in Poland,” said Thomas Riedel, Head of Europe, Networks Business at Samsung Electronics. “Leveraging our advanced 5G solutions and technical leadership, we will continue to expand our global and European presence with leading operators like Play to take 5G user experience to new heights.”

Samsung Currently, Samsung operates its R&D centers in Warsaw and Cracow, Poland, where the tech giant’s highest-quality software is created, as well as 5G trials. The company is currently providing network solutions to mobile operators that deliver connectivity to hundreds of millions of users around the world.

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India approves 13 applications for 5G trials, Chinese vendors kept out

Karim Husami

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5G trials

India’s Department of Telecom (DoT) approved Tuesday the applications of domestic mobile operators to roll out 5G trials as telcos such as Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and MTNL can now kickstart their 5G trials on the local market.

The DOT aims to allow telco applications that seek to partner with non-Chinese equipment vendors to work on developing use cases relevant for India on the next generation technology.

The trials will initially last for six months.

Chinese players such as Huawei and ZTE were missing, however, from the list of 13 applications from telcos approved by the government, as a way to confirm that the two gear vendors would be excluded from the country’s 5G deployments.

“The trials will reduce the time gap between 5G spectrum auction and roll out of the networks. In the past, trials happened after auction, however, now we will be gaining time and telecom operators will be prepared in advance for the 5G network. They will be able to choose their vendors, technology and type of equipment,” Telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said.

“BSNL will conduct trials separately. Their applications will come soon,” Prakash added.

The telcos will also be permitted to use their existing spectrum owned by them (800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2500 MHz) for conducting 5G trials in India.

The deal also includes the operators partnering with original equipment manufacturers and technology providers such as Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung, and C-DOT. In addition, Reliance Jio will also be conducting trials using its indigenous technology.

“The applicant TSPs (telecom service providers) include Bharti Airtel Ltd, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, Vodafone Idea Ltd and MTNL. These TSPs have tied up with original equipment manufacturers and technology providers, which are Ericsson, Nokia, Samsung and C-DOT,” the DoT said in a statement Tuesday.

“In addition, Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd will also be conducting trials using its own indigenous technology,” DoT added.

“The trials can start Wednesday but there is no clarity on the timeline for the next spectrum sale, which will see 5G spectrum make its debut,” it noted.

According to the central government, the objectives of conducting 5G trials include testing 5G spectrum propagation characteristics especially in the Indian context; model tuning and evaluation of chosen equipment and vendors; testing of indigenous technology; testing of applications (such as telemedicine, tele-education, augmented/ virtual reality, drone-based agricultural monitoring, etc.); and to test 5G phones and devices.

“5G technology is expected to deliver improved user experience in terms of data download rates (expected to be 10 times that of 4G), up to three times greater spectrum efficiency, and ultra-low latency to enable Industry 4.0,” the government highlighted.

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