Apple, Disney, and Google are all introducing new streaming services in November that are likely to create new levels of network performance challenges for broadband operators due to their use of 4K video and, in the case of Google Stadia, new uplink requirements.
Broadband operators should be able to monetize this new network usage in the form of upselling to higher-volume data plans. However, to do so, they will also need to invest in new network technologies to ensure they can stay ahead of demand.
• Gogo announced it will build out an air-to-ground 5G network supported by 250 towers in the U.S. Gogo expects the network to be available for business and commercial aviation in 2021, at which time all the major U.S. operators will be on their way to widespread 5G.
• Unfortunately, the number of customers that will benefit from 5G will remain small, and in many cases “elite.” Gogo continues to see strong ATG traction in the private jet segment, and those jets will be the first to benefit from Gogo’s new 5G network.
Gogo, which provides in-flight WiFi, announced plans to build a 5G network to support in-flight services. However, despite the headline, it’s clear from the announcement that most air travelers won’t see the benefit anytime soon.
Gogo announced in May that it will build out an air-to-ground 5G network supported by 250 towers in the U.S. Gogo expects the network to be available for business and commercial aviation in 2021, which aligns well with mobile operator deployment plans. All the major U.S. network operators, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile USA, and Sprint (alone or as part of T-Mobile USA if that proposed merger is consummated) are likely to be well on their way with 5G deployments by then. Continue reading “5G is Coming to Planes but Probably Not Yours Anytime Soon”→
• At this year’s analyst event, Huawei provided additional background on its approach to 5G core.
• Looking at the measured pace of 5G deployment expected from many operators, and the continued importance of VoLTE, Huawei has wisely stressed long-term LTE support alongside the new 5G core.
Huawei has devoted significant focus the last few months to providing the details about the architecture underpinning its common core solution, originally launched in February at MWC 2019. At its annual analyst conference last month in Shenzhen, China, Huawei provided additional details on the underlying architecture. While GlobalData has not yet rated emerging 5G core portfolios (watch this space), it appears at first blush that Huawei’s core-related R&D has resulted in a robust 5G core platform that focuses on the “three Cs”: “Cloud + Connectivity + Computing.”
All of these “Cs” are vital to the 5G core of course. A cloud-native architecture enables stateless operations and facilitates control/user plane separation. A 5G core platform must flexibly support multi-edge computing (MEC) and strike the right balance between placing computing power at the network edge and at the core. And – perhaps most importantly – the 5G core must support all of the other Gs – including 4G/LTE, 3G, and even 2G. (Ironically 2G support may emerge as more significant than 3G support as many operators appear likely to decommission 3G while maintaining 2G connectivity to support legacy M2M deployments.
Ultimately, the most important aspect of Huawei’s approach to the 5G core comes from the fact that it correctly recognizes that – for all the current 5G hype – 4G/LTE is and will continue to be the workhorse for most operator networks for the next five years. GlobalData estimates that 4G/LTE will grow to a majority of total wireless customers this year, and will continue to grow to nearly 2/3 of the total customer base by 2023. We expect that the 2G customer base will still be larger than the 5G base in 2023.
GLOBALDATA MOBILE BROADBAND FORECAST (March 2019)
One other important feature that stands out is its robust support for voice – and specifically voice over LTE. Operators of all stripes are quick to point out that, despite 20 years of speculation that voice is “going to free” – customers are still willing to pay for reliable, high-quality voice services. Eventually, that will mean 5G voice (voice over NR) but considering that 5G is likely to be deployed in a much more limited fashion than LTE for most operators, VoLTE will be the primary vehicle for most operators to transition away from circuit-switched voice services. This in turn means that IMS will continue to play a vital role in the carrier network for the next five to ten years to support VoLTE deployments.
Huawei’s strong foundation in VoLTE and IMS support plays to one of its strengths. GlobalData ranks Huawei as Leader in IMS, citing a solid customer base and success in offering virtualized IMS deployments supporting VoLTE. This should provide a solid base of customers looking to balance the desire for new 5G services with the need to maintain solid 4G core support for the foreseeable future.
WiFi continues to enjoy near-ubiquitous penetration of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. However, improved cellular speeds enabled by LTE may be creating an inflection point.
In looking at how 5G and WiFi are evolving to face emerging market requirements, significant changes are likely that will strengthen 5G’s value proposition in a number of use cases.
Two conferences offering significantly different visions for the future of ‘local’ wireless are poised to take place the week of May 21. In London, the Small Cell Forum will be showcasing a largely cellular-centric view focused on 5G densification and the regulatory challenges implied therein. In Atlanta, the Wireless Broadband Alliance will hone in on the role of WiFi 6 within the 5G era. The simultaneous timing of these two conferences, while unintentional, certainly underscores the increasing questions being asked by operators and network equipment vendors on the optimal role of WiFi and 5G technologies. Continue reading “Cellular and WiFi Figuring Out Their 5G Identities”→
• The wireless industry prepares to converge once again in Barcelona at MWC19.
• In addition to new 5G product and service launches and customer wins, political and financial concerns will serve as significant backdrops this year.
MWC19, the wireless industry’s largest event of the year, kicks off February 25 in Barcelona.
For network infrastructure vendors, MWC19 will serve as a launch point for a host of new products and services. Expect a number of 5G “plumbing”-related announcements from a host of vendors, including:
• Massive MIMO advancements
• Solutions designed to allow operators to support both 4G/LTE and 5G on a common core
• Similarly, flexible and programmable transport solutions that can support a host of to-be-developed 5G network slicing use cases
• Advancements in IoT platforms designed to help network operators do a better job of bringing the “connected X” proposition into a host of enterprises.
However, while 5G will obviously take center stage, as it has for the past three years, politics and financial concerns will serve as significant backdrops for this year’s event.
Huawei has endured a U.S.-backed campaign against it over the past year that has threatened its 5G prospects across the UK, Australia, Japan, and elsewhere. It will need to announce 5G-related deals at this year’s event to signal that it still has the support of a critical mass of the industry to thrive in the 5G era. Given the current urgency around this issue, Huawei will need to address security concerns more directly in its MWC19 messaging. Continue reading “Political Battles and Ongoing Restructurings Serve as Backdrop for MWC19”→