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? Continue reading “AT&T’s AirGig Announcement: Why Now?”

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.

Continue reading “What Does ‘5G-Ready’ Mean for Mobile Operators?”

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?” Continue reading “How Can Consensus Be Achieved in 5G?”

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. Continue reading “MWC16: Wireless Backhaul Roundup – Will a New Approach Improve E-Band’s Tepid Popularity?”

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. Continue reading “MWC16: What’s Already Happening at Mobile World Congress – A Focus on Rural Areas”

C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • C-RAN’s adoption is likely to grow significantly soon, thanks in part to evolutions in the underlying technologies.
  • Long term, future RANs will see a dynamic mix of centralized and distributed functions.

In 2016, we’re likely to hear even more about C-RAN than we already have. It’s not a new concept, and plenty of operators have deployed mobile access network architectures in which the baseband processing units are centralized, stacked or pooled, linked to remote radio units elsewhere. As portions of the network become increasingly virtualized, baseband processing will become virtualized, too – thus, centralized RAN will evolve into cloud RAN. This won’t happen everywhere, of course, but its use is likely to spread thanks in part to some significant advancements in C-RAN technology coming soon. Continue reading “C-RAN Is About to Get More Serious, but No, the RAN Will Never Disappear into the Cloud”

WiFi Continues to Shape the Enterprise Small-Cell Space

Ed Gubbins
Ed Gubbins

Summary Bullets:

  • Recent trends illustrate how influential WiFi remains in the enterprise small-cell space.
  • Small-cell vendors must align their view of technologies, partners and competitors with this dynamic.

As RAN vendors continue with an attempt to kick in the door to the enterprise small-cell market, one of the primary dynamics influencing these efforts is WiFi’s dominance in enterprise environs. This is largely what led Cisco to use its WiFi market footprint to compete in the small-cell space, of course. But, even in late 2015, after years of driving the enterprise small-cell value proposition, some players are shifting their thinking toward an even greater respect for the importance of WiFi in this business. For example: Continue reading “WiFi Continues to Shape the Enterprise Small-Cell Space”