The 5G Migration That’s Already Happening: RAN Vendors Launching 5G-Era Base Stations

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • New base station introductions in the run-up to 5G pose challenges depending on both their timing relative to competitors’ moves and their messaging relative to legacy products.
  • All major RAN vendors have faced challenges unveiling new base stations recently, including Huawei, which was forced to make big changes in response to shifting market demands.

Everywhere you look, people are talking about the coming migration to 5G mobile networks. A much less talked about – but perhaps no less challenging – transition is the one radio access network (RAN) equipment vendors are making from base stations that were optimized for LTE to ones designed to lead operators into the 5G era. Yet, in the waiting period before 5G’s true arrival, marketing new base stations aimed at future networks alongside the current generation of base stations is a balancing act akin to stepping from an unmoored boat to a pier. Read more of this post

RAN Vendors Targeting Enterprises Aren’t Waiting for 5G

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The lull between 4G and 5G operator spending motivates RAN vendors to penetrate enterprises before 5G, aided by new RAN technologies relevant to enterprises.
  • In penetrating enterprises, even RAN vendors with enterprise businesses face challenging organizational changes and market hurdles.

When RAN vendors talk about 5G, much of the discussion tends to involve targeting enterprise verticals and the Internet of Things (IoT). Take Ericsson, for example, demonstrating unmanned construction vehicles and remote surgery concepts. But, like many elements of their 5G discussions, RAN vendors aren’t waiting for 5G to target enterprises. Read more of this post

AT&T’s AirGig Announcement: Why Now?

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T wasn’t very candid in explaining how its latest lab project works, a twist on broadband over powerline.
  • Multiple forces might have given the operator reason to announce AirGig now, before it could say much.

AT&T’s announcement last week of a new technology dubbed AirGig was striking for a few reasons. One was the novelty of the technology itself, which enigmatically promised to transmit wireless signals around power lines rather than through them, putting a new spin on old broadband-over-powerline tech concepts and posing the possibility of self-backhauling mesh networks deployed along the power grid that could deliver 4G and 5G services to the home.

Another thing that was striking about AT&T’s announcement of AirGig was just how little about it the company was at liberty to discuss. For starters, how does the technology work, exactly? AT&T declined to elaborate much. How far could these networks (which use millimeter waves without necessarily being restricted to them and provide both access and backhaul) extend from a wireline backhaul source? It wouldn’t say. How would they be powered if, as AT&T offered, they wouldn’t need to physically connect to the power grid? Inductive (wireless) power transmission is one approach, the company said, but left it at that.

So, why announce a technology that is still being developed if you can’t say much about it? Read more of this post

What Does ‘5G-Ready’ Mean for Mobile Operators?

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Network equipment vendors have been pushing mobile operators to begin evolving their LTE networks toward 5G for some time.
  • Though vendors have their own reasons for this push, operators have several reasons to heed their advice.
  • At the same time, operators do need to avoid moving too early toward 5G.

For some time now, vendors of mobile access infrastructure have been urging operators to start evolving their networks toward 5G, well in advance of the technology being concretely defined.

Read more of this post

How Can Consensus Be Achieved in 5G?

Ed Gubbins - Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst, Mobile Access Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • 5G technologies and standards are being developed by a wide variety of entities and groups across the globe.
  • There are both hurdles to and incentives for these stakeholders to come to the necessary agreement on key topics.

A question came up at the end of the 5G webinar I participated in last week (an archive of which is now available).  More than a question, really; you could call it a concern.

During my presentation, I listed some of the organizations that are helping to develop 5G technologies and standards.  You know, industry groups (5GPPP, METIS, the 5G Forum, NGMN, IMT-2020, etc.), major universities (Harvard, Stanford, Cambridge, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, etc.), announced collaborations between specific equipment vendors and operators (Ericsson and LG U+, Huawei and Telefonica, Nokia and du, etc.).

I also made the point that achieving a certain level of unity on 5G is crucial for its stakeholders because no one wants to emulate the global division of 3G technologies that split the world into CDMA and WCDMA.

The question was: “How can consensus really be achieved considering the number of players?” Read more of this post

MWC16: Wireless Backhaul Roundup – Will a New Approach Improve E-Band’s Tepid Popularity?

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Multiple backhaul vendors are offering (or plan to offer) new solutions that bond E-band links with traditional microwave.
  • This approach has pros and cons, but it will need to overcome the sources of lackluster market traction for E-band backhaul thus far.

In the wake of Mobile World Congress, we at Current Analysis have offered up our takes on the most important takeaways from the show in terms of new radio access networks solutions, 5G activity, IP services infrastructure and more. When it comes to the area of wireless backhaul, the most notable developments related to E-band millimeter wave technology. Read more of this post

MWC16: What’s Already Happening at Mobile World Congress – A Focus on Rural Areas

Ed Gubbins

Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Mobile access infrastructure solutions focused on rural and remote areas are already a trend at MWC16.
  • Infrastructure improvements in rural areas pose the potential for growth from at least two primary sources.

The benefit of waiting too long to write a “What to Expect at Mobile World Congress” blog is that you get to write a “What’s Already Happening at Mobile World Congress” blog.

You can already guess many of the topics that mobile access infrastructure vendors will be talking about at MWC16: 5G, unlicensed spectrum, Internet of Things, etc. Some of the pre-MWC announcements they’ve already made have focused on an area you might not have predicted: remote and rural networks. Read more of this post