The race for 5G rollout is on.
As humanity edges closer to the fifth generation of mobile networks, the world’s key players that will spearhead this telecoms revolution begins as companies’ team up, while others are shunned and isolated.
On the European front, Swedish Ericsson and Finnish Nokia seem to be leading the line.
BT and Ericsson have signed another MOU that would see it benefit from Swedish manufacturer’s 5G Radio Access Network (RAN) connectivity following the company’s selection as BT’s 5G RAN provider in the UK capital London, in Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff and other major cities.
“Our customers deserve the best network, and we are delivering. We’re the UK leader in 5G and are excited to be working with Ericsson as a key partner to maintain that market leadership,” Philip Jansen, CEO of BT, said in a statement.
The announcement significantly strengthens both companies’ strategic partnership and builds on BT’s selection of Ericsson to provide the company’s next-generation cloud-native dual-mode 5G Core earlier this year, making Ericsson the end-to-end 5G partner for BT.
Once the deployment is completed, Ericsson will manage around 50 percent of BT’s 5G traffic, which will later lead to forging more opportunities for collaboration in next generation 5G-powered products and services.
“Having already been selected to partner in 5G Core, we are pleased to strengthen the relationship further with this deal that will deliver high performance and secure 5G to their customers across the UK’s major cities,” Börje Ekholm, President and CEO of Ericsson, said.
This is a win-win from every side, since Ericsson’s RAN platform technology also underlines BT’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, reducing the company’s energy consumption and optimizing costs.
“5G plays a critical role in meeting the UK’s digital ambitions, accelerating digitalization of the economy and stimulating next generation wireless innovation for consumers and enterprise,” Ekholm added.
A different approach
While companies are partnering up with large players such as Nokia, Ericsson, ZTE, NEC, Vodafone have chosen to undergo a different approach in terms of its RANs by pledging to use equipment made by smaller ‘open RAN’ vendors to provide 5G signals for a fifth of its UK network sites by 2027.
This plan comes as the UK continues its total phase-out of Chinese telecom tech titan Huawei in compliance with a government approved ban, as well as Vodafone’s attempt to break the stranglehold placed by big telcos.
Vodafone’s pledge to use emerging open RAN tech for at least 2,600 masts and rooftops is the largest confirmed promise made by a European carrier to embrace technology companies from outside the established supply chain.
Traditional mobile networks rely on radio access equipment — the kit that sits on masts and rooftops used to transmit mobile phone signals — that tightly bundles proprietary hardware with software provided by the biggest groups.
However, open RAN systems allow networks to chop and change those components and use kit from smaller companies.
The pledge follows British PM Boris Johnson’s decision to ban Huawei’s 5G equipment to expand networks by mobile providers across the UK.
This in turn would support the British government’s ambition to rebuild foothold in the telecoms equipment market if growing open RAN use is used to justify research and development subsidies and companies in the field based themselves in Britain.
5G mobile networks is expected to become the de-facto telecoms infrastructure that will set the stage for a wide array of services and products such as autonomous vehicles and the fourth industrial revolution.
According to the ban, mobile providers across the nation have a grace period until 2027 to dismantle and remove the Chinese tech giant’s equipment from their 5G networks, which will cost around $643 million, according to BT.
The U.S. government considers Huawei as a security risk and has urged allies to shun its equipment over fears it could serve as a Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence services.
Britain’s premier initially resisted the ban, allowing Huawei to rollout a new high-speed network in Britain back in January, but changed his mind later in July.
Huawei has pushed back against the accusations made from several western nations; “This report lacks credibility, as it is built on opinion rather than fact,” Huawei responded in a statement.
Across the Atlantic
In the U.S., T-Mobile announced another expansion of its 2.5GHz mid-band 5G network, which is now available in dozens of new cities, nearly doubling the coverage of its last major mid-band rollout from the end of September.
According to a statement by T-Mobile, this expansion places it to have mid-band 5G support in nearly 410 cities and towns in the United States. The expansion is perfectly timed, as it aligns with Apple’s release of the 5G-powered iPhone 12 lineup, which would boost its sales.
T-Mobile’s 5G network combines its widely available 600MHz low-band network with the faster 2.5GHz network along with its ultra-fast mmWave network.
The company already has nationwide coverage on its low-band network, thanks to its initial 5G launch last year. The goal of the current mid-band expansion is to bring actual next-generation speeds to more users in a way that the 600MHz network doesn’t.
On the road to digitization: Verizon expands 5G mobile and home service
The future holds many interesting facts regarding the fifth-generation technology in terms of its usage and benefits in many aspects in our daily lives leading to the digitization.
As such, Verizon announced the expansion of its 5G Ultra-Wideband (UWB) network to cover a greater number of homes and phones.
The American telecommunication company broadened its network to six more cities which will get Verizon’s home 5G service and three are getting its high-speed mobile 5G service this month, in parallel with its continued hard work of spreading fast millimeter-wave 5G across the country.
Details of expanding 5G
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Verizon Consumer Group, said “We create the networks that move the world forward, and our 5G network brings incredible capabilities that will drive us all.” He added that “We’re committed to providing our customers with access to the newest technologies and experiences that will shape our future.”
While Verizon notes that its nationwide 5G service is available for 230 million people across 2,700 US cities, the network also has greater reach, reuses 4G airwaves and has performance similar to 4G.
In addition, the carrier is offering 12 months of access to the new Discovery+ service which IGN describes as “the ultimate streaming platform for foodies, nature lovers, and home repair aficionados,” in order to encourage more customers to become 5G Home subscribers.
New customers also receive a free smart home bundle of Amazon devices including an Echo Show 5, Ring Stick Up Cam, Echo Dot, and Amazon Smart Plug.
5G in homes during COVID
During the pandemic, Verizon’s $50 home gigabit service is a more captivating concept for many people than its outdoor-focused UWB 5G mobile service, however, it’s hard to know how many people in each city can get the home system.
The carrier asks customers to enter their address into a qualifier form to register the service instead of having a coverage map for the home service. For example, Chicago and Minneapolis fell short of the UWB mobile coverage service back in October 2020.
Nonetheless, some measures would change that fact.
Verizon partner Pivotal Commware, discussed in-home repeaters that, when placed on rooftops or outside windows, can help stretch 5G coverage to more homes. Also, Qualcomm plans on setting better 5G antennas that are too large for mobile devices but can fit into home internet units.
Digitization will grow and increase by having 5G reach homes and phones with smart homeowners being able to better access video and images of their property and receive more data faster than before on their smart phone regarding the occurrences taking place in their home.
“We ended 2020 with 2,700 cities with Nationwide 5G service serving 230 million people, 12 cities with access to our 5G Home service; We’re rolling out new services to more customers continuing the digital transformation Verizon has been driving,” Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer for Verizon said.
Former SoftBank employee leaks 5G secrets to rivals
A former SoftBank Corp. employee has been arrested under the suspicion of illegally sharing 5G trade secrets with new employer, Rakuten Mobile, before the former was planning to launch their very own mobile network.
Tokyo Metropolitan Police have arrested Kuniaki Aiba who allegedly leaked classified company information, breaching the Unfair Competition Prevention Law as well as a non-disclosure agreement signed with SoftBank, according to local media.
Aiba is suspected to have sent trade secrets of his initial employer from his company email to his personal one, relating to SoftBank’s 5G technology on December 31, 2019, Tokyo Police stated.
“Even though the former employee had signed a non-disclosure agreement with us, during the period from resignation to departure, information related to our network technology corresponding to our trade secret was illegally taken,” a statement from SoftBank said, highlighting that it had consulted with the Metropolitan Police Department, reported the damage, and cooperated in the investigation.
It remains unknown whether Aiba has admitted to the allegations.
According to the statement, the information leaked pertained to the company’s 4G and 5G base station equipment, and fixed communication networks that connect base stations to each other, though no client data had been exposed.
In parallel, a Rakuten Mobile spokesperson told reporters that Aiba is indeed an employee of the company, which is fully cooperating with the police investigation.
SoftBank suspects that the leaked data has already been put to use by Rakuten, which may be stored on Aiba’s company computer, with plans to file a lawsuit to force its rival to destroy the information.
“We recognize that our trade secrets are stored on Rakuten Mobile’s business PCs used by the former employee, and that it is highly likely that Rakuten Mobile has already used our trade secrets in some way,” the statement read.
Rakuten Mobile, a subsidiary of Rakuten Inc., was down as much as 2 percent in Tokyo on Tuesday, while SoftBank Corp. was up just over 1 percent.
SoftBank stressed that information relating to the confidentiality of communications, and business partners of corporate customers who provide communication services to the company are safe.
“Until now, we have regularly concluded non-disclosure agreements and conducted security training for all employees,” the statement said.
This act of corporate espionage highlights the growing rivalry in one of the world’s most competitive telecom countries.
Rakuten’s strong presence within the local sector – launching the fourth major network in the country last year and pushing unlimited mobile data allowances – has put pressure on competitors such as SoftBank, NTT Docomo Inc. and KDDI Corp.
5G networks and devices have been a contested group within the country since they open up new applications, revenue streams, and opportunities. While SoftBank was one of the first to adopt 5G technology, its coverage remains shaky at best, as it is across most of the globe.
Rakuten, on the other hand, launched their service months after their rival and has consistently aimed to make large gains within the market using a single-priced offering at half price of its competitors.
Zain KSA to push for second 5G rollout phase
Zain KSA has announced that it will accelerate its second phase of 5G network rollout throughout the Kingdom in partnership with Infovista’s radio planning portfolio.
The company plans to spread and geographically expand the country’s 5G network aims to deliver the new 5G services to every corner and spot in Saudi Arabia, to ensure that citizens and residents alike have access to the latest, most advanced, and efficient internet services, reflecting positively on working and living conditions.
The rollout is in line with Saudi Vision 2030 and to support the comprehensive digital transformation of the Kingdom.
“As we accelerate the rollout of 5G services in the country with new cities being covered, we want to ensure we deliver best-in-class experience in the location of our customers and to better serve them. As well as provide residents and citizens alike with tools for innovation and development that will benefit the diversification and the competitiveness of the national economy,” Abdulrahman Al-Mufadda, Chief Technology Officer at Zain KSA, said in a statement.
Zain KSA has initially rolled out it’s the first phase of its 5G network during October of 2019 and was ranked first in its 5G in the Kingdom, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa, and fourth globally.
It is also recognized by ICT government authorities as the number one operator for covering all Saudi’s administrative regions, having the largest 5G reach within governorates, and covering to date 50 cities enabled by more than 4,700 towers.
Zain KSA has selected to partner with Infovista based on the company’s track record in network planning, testing, performance and application control solutions for that mission.
Leveraging crowdsourced dataset, including a large volume of social media data, for traffic map creation, Infovista radio planning solution helped Zain KSA reach high levels of accuracy in precise planning for densification to successfully introduce 5G in new cities of the Kingdom.
“We are committed to help Zain KSA deliver in its second phase the incomparable 5G experience to its customers throughout the entire Kingdom. Our radio planning software and optimization solution aims to support the fast and complete deployment of Zain KSA’s 5G network as well as help Zain KSA in creating a paradigm shift in the telecommunications infrastructure by leveraging network automation capabilities,” Faiq Khan, managing director, East Europe, Asia, and Africa at Infovista said in a joint statement.
Zain KSA will benefit from Infovista’s advanced End-to-End 5G planning capabilities, which covers radio to transmission in a synchronized and automated way, to reliably provide the best subscriber performance, capacity, and coverage.
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