GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Since COVID-19 forced the cancellation of its flagship Barcelona event, MWCA exhibitors have been waiting for details on a rebate or refund program.
  • The package announced March 25 provides a cash refund for smaller exhibitors but realistically represents a ‘take it or leave it’ package of rebates toward future events.

Since the GSMA made the difficult decision to cancel its annual conference in Barcelona in February, exhibitors have been awaiting details on the association’s refund package promised by the end of March. Now that offer has been announced, and while cash refunds are being offered for some, the vast majority of exhibitors will need to accept a package of rebates – albeit generous – toward future shows. However, the package looks punitive toward exhibitors that acted responsibly in withdrawing from the conference before it was officially cancelled. Continue reading “GSMA to MWC20 Exhibitors: ‘Take It or Leave It’ on COVID-19 Refund Package”

Nokia-Marvell Partnership Targets Crucial 5G Performance Gap

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia announced a partnership with Marvell Technologies in March to address a significant gap in 5G radio.
  • The Marvell partnership should help accelerate Nokia’s deployment of SoC solutions, but the company’s ill-fated decision to deploy FPGA silicon will put a damper on its results throughout 2020.

Nokia announced a new partnership with semiconductor specialist Marvell Technologies in March, under which Marvell will develop silicon for Nokia’s 5G radios. The deal is a crucial factor in Nokia’s bid to regain momentum after making some design decisions that have left it struggling to compete with other radio vendors in winning new 5G business contracts. Continue reading “Nokia-Marvell Partnership Targets Crucial 5G Performance Gap”

HAPS Alliance Envisions an Alternative to Satellite for Connecting Remote Locations

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• The network will take years to develop, but the stratosphere’s stable climate and close proximity to Earth compared to satellite orbits could create a compelling value proposition. Bullets:

• The deep pockets of supporting companies, including Google/Alphabet, don’t hurt either.

A group of telecommunications, technology, aviation and aerospace companies announced on February 21 the formation of the HAPS (High Altitude Platform Station) Alliance, dedicated to the promotion of a new communications platform supported by aircraft hovering in the earth’s stratosphere.

Continue reading “HAPS Alliance Envisions an Alternative to Satellite for Connecting Remote Locations”

U.S. Government Control of Western Telecoms Vendors Would Be Naïve – and Damaging to U.S. Companies

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • U.S. Attorney General William Barr suggested the U.S. and its allies should consider buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson to compete more effectively in 5G.
  • Beyond being hypocritical and practically unworkable, the proposal runs counter to ongoing open RAN initiatives which could help U.S. vendors thrive in 5G by innovating.

Giving the keynote address at the U.S. Department of Justice’s China Initiative conference on February 6, U.S. Attorney General William Barr raised eyebrows by suggesting that the U.S. and its allies should consider buying a controlling stake in Nokia or Ericsson. The argument is that, while both vendors have proven successful in managing customers’ migration from 4G to 5G, they lack Huawei’s scale as well as the backing of a powerful country like China. Continue reading “U.S. Government Control of Western Telecoms Vendors Would Be Naïve – and Damaging to U.S. Companies”

Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2020

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData recently published its comprehensive set of 2020 predictions across mobile and fixed access, transport and routing, and telco software and services.
  • The predictions here represent some of the most intriguing industry trends that vendors and operators will need to track closely in the coming year.

Standalone 5G Rollouts: Mobile operators will begin to deploy standalone 5G, which doesn’t rely on an LTE core. Because the first wave of 5G, non-standalone, heavily incentivizes operators to simply add 5G to their existing 4G infrastructure, some operators will use standalone 5G as an opportunity to trial new suppliers and architectures, including virtual core suppliers and Open RAN architectures. The timing of deployments will depend in part on how quickly operators can transition their voice services, since 5G won’t offer a circuit-switch fallback option, as 4G did.

Proving 5G Value: Mobile operators will continue to struggle with proving the value of 5G mobile broadband to consumers, as indicated by recent reports of unimpressed 5G customers thus far in South Korea. At Mobile World Congress 2020 (the year that has been hailed for most of the previous decade as 5G’s arrival date), vendors will once again, for at least the third year in a row, emphasize that 5G is ‘here’ and ‘real.’ At the same time, they will also concede that the enterprise use cases at the heart of the 5G value story are still at an early stage of development.

Shifting RAN Vendor Landscape: It’s too difficult to predict whether more countries will follow the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and Japan in erecting barriers to Huawei and ZTE’s participation in their network infrastructure markets. But in any case, what has already transpired – combined with the cloud of uncertainty it casts over the future – will likely have several near-term effects in 2019. Continue reading “Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2020”

Artificial Intelligence Playing Larger Role in Preventing Communications Fraud – but Slowly

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • A new survey by the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) shows communications fraud remains a significant cost to network operators despite steady improvement over the past ten years.
  • A small but growing number of operators have begun implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence as crucial components of their fraud management systems, but most operators have not.

A new survey by the Communications Fraud Control Association (CFCA) shows both good news and bad news in network operators’ efforts to control communications fraud.  Communications fraud happens whenever a person or group uses communications services with no intention of payment.  In order not to encourage even more fraud, operators like Vodafone and AT&T are understandably reticent when it comes to revealing how their own fraud prevention mechanisms and procedures stack up against competitors.  However, these operators are more forthcoming in anonymously responding to the annual survey by the CFCA, which represents operators, security and risk management vendors, and law enforcement authorities. Continue reading “Artificial Intelligence Playing Larger Role in Preventing Communications Fraud – but Slowly”

Launch of Three New Streaming Services Represents Threat and Opportunity to Broadband Operators

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • 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.

Network operators are bracing for the introduction of a trio of high-profile, well-funded streaming services in November.  The new services are likely to introduce new challenges to network operators already struggling to keep up with growing demand for streaming video services.  This may provide a strong upsell opportunity for network operators, but it may also require a new wave of network investment for operators to stay ahead of the demand curve. Continue reading “Launch of Three New Streaming Services Represents Threat and Opportunity to Broadband Operators”

Huawei Selling 5G IP? Intriguing but Unlikely

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei offered to sell the company’s 5G-related intellectual property in a bid to address concerns over potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities.

• The idea is intriguing but ultimately unlikely to result in any actual outsourcing deals; however, making the offer results in positive PR for Huawei in any event.

Huawei Chairman and CEO Ren Zhengfei caught the industry’s attention several weeks ago when he indicated, in an interview with The Economist, that he was open to selling Huawei’s 5G-related intellectual property to Western firms. This would theoretically enable these vendors to change software code and eliminate concerns over Huawei potentially inserting “backdoors” and other vulnerabilities into operator networks.
Continue reading “Huawei Selling 5G IP? Intriguing but Unlikely”

5G is Coming to Planes but Probably Not Yours Anytime Soon

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• 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”

Huawei Expands 5G Core, but Sees Real World Coexistence with 4G

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• 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)

 

 

 

 

 

Source: GlobalData.

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.