Cellular IoT: Understanding the “Value” of NB-IoT or LTE-M Key to Operator Success?

John Byrne

John Byrne – Service Director, Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

• NB-IoT and LTE-M deployments are proliferating. Proofs of concept abound, but neither technology appears to be generating significant momentum yet.

• Regardless of the technology, moving beyond connectivity is vital to mobile operator success in IoT.

In the past six months, cellular operators worldwide have been rapidly deploying narrowband (NB)-IoT and LTE-M. In June, the GSMA announced the success of its Mobile IoT Initiative, claiming nearly 75 operators deploying NB-IoT or Cat-M and 500 members in its Mobile IoT Innovators initiative designed to help operators add IoT value. The bulk of this focus has been on NB-IoT, which cellular operators are using to establish new use cases, including smart agriculture and a variety of smart cities applications involving lighting, parking meters, smart buildings and the like. For example, T-Mobile USA completed live NB-IoT smart city trials in July 2017 in advance of a planned national launch.

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NFV MANO – Entering Yet Another Bout of Turbulence

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Turbulence in the NFV MANO market is high; that can be good to shakeout problems, but it also makes for an uncomfortable flight.
  • Some operators have decided to take matters into their own hands; others are engaging a trusted vendor to “just make it work”.

As with any long haul flight, the risk of experiencing periods of turbulence is ever present.  The flight metaphor is also appropriate to long haul telecom network transformation projects, and NFV is certainly the largest to be navigated by the industry in the past 20 years. The NFV management and network orchestration (MANO) architectural block is a good indicator of the “flight status” of the whole NFV project, which now seems to be entering a new phase of turbulence. A couple of recent announcements have highlighted some major, and sometimes forgotten, basics: Read more of this post

Accelerating 5G: Leveraging IoT to Create Digital Industries

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • While the core use cases for 5G are well understood (enhanced mobile broadband, massive IoT, mission critical communications), it’s important to remember that a core objective of those use cases is enabling digital industries – helping service providers target vertical markets and not just broad swaths of consumers and enterprises.
  • Initial 5G specifications may be focused on enabling enhanced mobile broadband, but we’re already seeing how digital transformation will unfold thanks to LTE technologies like Cat-M and NB-IoT.

Today’s discussions of 5G, more often than not, focus on the core use cases promised by the technology and the new services they will enable.  Where early messaging scrambled to define 5G objectives broadly, narrowing them down is a welcome development, if only to ensure a common understanding of what 5G will focus on: enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive IoT (massive machine type communications – MTC), mission-critical communications (ultra-reliable low-latency communications, URLLC). Read more of this post

Accelerating 5G: Unleashing New Spectrum via Sharing

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:                 

  • In the run-up to 5G launches, new shared and unlicensed spectrum usage is helping to open up new business models for mobile operators.
  • Beyond the development of technologies like LTE-U, LAA, CBRS and MulteFire, development of the ecosystems around those technologies and examples of how they can be commercially put to use will drive their success.

To date, most commercial, mobile wireless services have been built on a foundation of licensed spectrum.  Going forward, 5G won’t change that.

Where the next generation of wireless technology requires a massive technology investment, mobile operators will want the network quality and availability assurances (not to mention competitive advantages) that licensed spectrum delivers.  5G will, however, bring an understanding that new spectrum access regimes are required that are tailored to the availability of spectrum, tailored to the requirements of the digital industries being targeted, and tailored to the opportunity to improve the efficiency of spectrum usage in unlicensed and shared spectrum bands.  Read more of this post

MWC Shanghai 2017: ZTE Addresses ‘5G Network Slicing Backhaul’ Requirements with New Solution

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst, Transport and Routing Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • Introduces Slicing for Backhaul: The ZXCTN 609 supports separate backhaul slices (tunnels), each with independent performance characteristics, meeting 5G demands for low-latency, high-speed, flexible connections.
  • 100G Backhaul Link Support: The ZXCTN 609 expands ZTE’s Flexhaul series to support 100G links to handle expected high-bandwidth 5G backhaul speeds, with high-availability features such as protection switchover and SDN control.

ZTE leveraged this year’s MWC Shanghai 2017 to further its stake in the emerging 5G infrastructure market by expanding its Flexhaul series backhaul platform to support 100G links. 100G is needed to cope with the massive capacity requirements expected as 5G comes to life in the next few years. The ZXCTN 609 also includes the company’s FlexE tunnel technology, which it announced as part of the ZXCTN 6180H launch, bringing the equivalent of network slicing to the backhaul network. ‘Flexibility’ is clearly the focus, with FlexE supporting a variety of service characteristics for applications such as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), massive machine type communications (mMTC), and ultra-reliable and low-latency communications (uRLLC), which have vastly different transport requirements. ZTE has collaborated closely with multiple operators to craft mobile network solutions that meet a range of application types and capacities. In addition to being visible in China Mobile and Ncell Axiata, ZTE successfully completed tests in seven major scenarios that are part of the second phase of China’s national 5G tests and set multiple records for network speeds and performance. Read more of this post

Accelerating 5G: Taking Gigabit LTE to the Masses

Peter Jarich

Peter Jarich – VP, Consumer Services and Service Provider Infrastructure

Gigabit LTE (LTE networks, services and devices supporting theoretical peak speeds of a Gigabit or more) has been a big part of 5G discussions in 2017.  But it’s also – as the name implies – an evolution of LTE.  3GPP R13 LTE-Advanced Pro, to be specific.

It’s fair to ask, then, what’s the link to 5G?

While it would be technically inaccurate to position Gigabit LTE as a 5G technology, there’s no denying that it will support 5G rollouts and services.  As 5G rolls out in targeted pockets, Gigabit LTE will ensure consistent network-wide user experiences.  Likewise, as service providers investigate the specific IoT and broadband use cases 5G will support, Gigabit LTE will help them understand the options and opportunities ahead of them not to mention fundamental 5G technologies that start getting introduced into the network with Gigabit LTE.    Read more of this post

TM Forum Live! 2017: Bringing Telco IT Up to Real-Time Network Speeds

David Snow – Principal Analyst, IP Services Infrastructure

Summary Bullets:

  • The 2017 edition of TM Forum Live! is in Nice, France next week, and with the nature of telco IT-network interactions undergoing radical change, the ‘Live!’ suffix is more appropriate than ever.
  • NFV MANO, advanced network analytics and 5G network slice management are all hot topics with operators and vendors alike, and all play their part towards the goal of autonomous network operation.

In the same way that Mobile World Congress has steadily evolved over the years to be far more than just a mobile network event, next week’s annual TM Forum event has continued to expand. It used to be the place for ‘telco IT’ systems and carrier operation based on OSS and BSS, and if there was any direct linkage to the telecom network, it would be largely in terms of non-real time network management interactions. In fact, the nearest to ‘real time’ these network-telco IT interactions operated at was as a continuous and one-way ‘blast’ from the network to the telco IT systems delivering such things as fault reports. OSS and carrier operations staff then had to filter all these reports, prioritize them and finally decide what to do about them; that was (and largely still is) very far from real time. Now, however, everything is changing with the advent of network functions virtualization (NFV) and NFV management and orchestration (MANO). These new telco IT-network interactions must be both two-way and very close to real time for the network to remain operational at all, similar to the manner in which some modern fighter aircraft would literally fall out of the sky without automated, real-time aerodynamic trimming. Read more of this post