We’re Not Entering the 5G Era; This Is the Age of 4G/5G

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Both 4G and 5G will co-evolve in mobile operator networks for years.
  • Even standalone 5G will coexist alongside 4G/5G networks, as operators further monetize 4G investments.

For some time now, the telecom industry has been heralding the dawn of the 5G era, the time when operators are deploying 5G networks and launching 5G services. But, it would be more accurate to say we’re at the dawn of the 4G/5G era, as this is what operators are actually deploying. Both technologies will co-evolve in operator networks for years. And as operators ramp up 5G network investment, they can’t neglect LTE. Continue reading “We’re Not Entering the 5G Era; This Is the Age of 4G/5G”

ZTE’s 5G Field Test with China Mobile and Why It Matters

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • ZTE has completed a 5G New Radio (NR) field test with China Mobile in the Chinese province of Guangdong.
  • This tests demonstrates ZTE’s readiness to supply large-scale 5G rollouts and take advantage of the unique opportunities posed by standalone 5G in particular.

Network equipment vendors have been promoting their progress in 5G for years. So, when a vendor announces the completion of yet another 5G field test in early 2019 – many months past widespread industry pronouncements that “5G is here!” – it’s easy to casually disregard. It’s also easy to miss the real significance of this activity. Continue reading “ZTE’s 5G Field Test with China Mobile and Why It Matters”

MWC19: 5G Promises to Solve the Problems Caused by, Um, 5G

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• At Mobile World Congress, radio access network vendors are likely to promote features that simplify 5G networks, ease their deployment, and optimize their energy consumption.

• Ironically, these features are necessary to tackle problems exacerbated by 5G itself.

Cartoon character Homer Simpson once called alcohol the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” These days vendors of 5G infrastructure are making similar-sounding claims, as 5G hype has given way to a more, ah, sober reckoning of its implications.

As the telecom industry gathers at this year’s Mobile World Congress, we’re sure to hear that “5G is here!” and “5G is real!” – just as we have in previous years. But as the real-world challenges of 5G deployments draw nearer for operators, RAN vendors will need to devote some messaging to assuaging operators’ fears. In fact, this has already begun, and it takes the form of RAN vendors emphasizing 5G benefits that are, in fact, more like remedies to problems posed by 5G itself.
Continue reading “MWC19: 5G Promises to Solve the Problems Caused by, Um, 5G”

Samsung’s Bold Commitment to a 5G Future Gives Its RAN Business Short Shrift

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Samsung’s bold announcement of $160 billion investment in the future missed an opportunity to highlight its 5G mobile access infrastructure capabilities.

• At this crucial inflection point in the run-up to the 5G era, Samsung’s longtime-underdog RAN business shouldn’t take a back seat in high-level messaging.

Samsung this week announced sweeping plans to invest a total of KRW 180 trillion (or about $160 billion) over the next three years in future growth areas including artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, automotive electronics components, and biopharmaceuticals.

Given the intended impact of the announcement, it’s surprising that Samsung didn’t take the opportunity to make a stronger statement about its role in 5G mobile access infrastructure. True, the release does state that the Korea-based tech giant “will also invest aggressively to become a global player in the advanced markets for 5G chipsets and related devices and equipment.” If that last word can be read to include mobile networking gear, then at least part of a single word in the 820-word message was aimed at capturing 5G networking mind share – not exactly a ringing bell.
Continue reading “Samsung’s Bold Commitment to a 5G Future Gives Its RAN Business Short Shrift”

How 5G Could Kill Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)

Ed Gubbins – Senior Analyst

Summary Bullets:
• DAS will face steep hurdles in evolving to the 5G era.

• Vendors of distributed small-cell enterprise RAN solutions, once content to aim down-market from DAS, are increasingly aimed at competing with DAS head-on, exploiting DAS’s 5G vulnerabilities.

• However, any threat posed to DAS by 5G is likely to take years to have effect, increasing the long-term uncertainty surrounding these trends.

5G — in its early implementations, at least, aimed at mobile broadband, rather than the Internet of Things (IoT) — will be more evolution than revolution, boosting speeds that were already increasing steadily via advances in LTE technology. But in at least one respect, even 5G mobile broadband promises to do something truly disruptive: It could mean the demise of DAS.

That’s no small matter. Some estimates put the global DAS market well north of $6 billion annually. Walk into any stadium, hospital, shopping mall, or big-box store and make a mobile call; odds are you’re using a DAS, a carrier-neutral network that distributes the signals of multiple operators using shared antennas and other gear so that each operator doesn’t need its own separate in-building network. Continue reading “How 5G Could Kill Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS)”

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. Continue reading “The 5G Migration That’s Already Happening: RAN Vendors Launching 5G-Era Base Stations”

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. Continue reading “RAN Vendors Targeting Enterprises Aren’t Waiting for 5G”