After the Dali Wireless-CommScope Court Fight, Legal Uncertainties Linger in the Enterprise RAN

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprise RAN vendors CommScope and Dali each won damages in countervailing patent infringement cases last week, but an injunction against two Dali products may be of interest to the broader industry.
  • That injunction is suspended pending appeal. It may be rendered moot by expiring patents, and its impact may be mild even if upheld. Still, additional suits could foster lingering uncertainty in this space.

A legal battle over patent infringement between enterprise RAN vendors CommScope and Dali Wireless came closer to resolution last week, but a key aspect – an injunction that would prevent Dali from selling two primary products – remains uncertain. A Dallas judge upheld a jury verdict rendered last year that awarded damages to both companies in a patent infringement suit and related countersuit. CommScope was ordered to pay almost $9.5 million, plus additional interest, and Dali was ordered to pay about $6 million, plus interest. Continue reading “After the Dali Wireless-CommScope Court Fight, Legal Uncertainties Linger in the Enterprise RAN”

COVID-19: Operators Kick the Can Down the Road in Defining Impact to FY2020 Results

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

• In their first round of quarterly results since the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, network operators provided few specifics on the true impact of the pandemic on 2020 outlooks.

• Most operators remain hopeful that a fuller picture of the impact of the disease will emerge in time for Q220 earnings releases, but that is likely to vary significantly by region and country.

With most of the world’s largest network operators now having chimed in on Q1 2020 earnings, what is clear is that little remains clear in terms of how COVID-19 will impact them this year. Most operators have withdrawn full-year guidance and have indicated that a reliable picture will not emerge until the true trajectory of COVID-19 becomes clear. Since that answer can vary significantly from country to country, region to region, and city to city, most operators lack the tools to provide reliable guidance. Continue reading “COVID-19: Operators Kick the Can Down the Road in Defining Impact to FY2020 Results”

Nokia Left Out of China’s 5G RAN – Another Sign of Growing Polarity in the Global Ecosystem

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Nokia has been excluded from the latest wave of 5G RAN rollouts by major Chinese mobile operators

• Though Nokia has strategies to overcome this obstacle, the underlying trends of geographic polarization don’t bode well for the industry.

Reporting its Q1 2020 earnings today, Nokia acknowledged that it has essentially been shut out of the Chinese 5G RAN market – the largest such market in the world.

This news didn’t come as a shock to anyone who had seen recent reports that – despite a fresh deal to supply China Unicom with a 5G core platform – Nokia was not named as a supplier in the latest wave of 5G RAN contracts awarded by China’s three major mobile operators. As usual, these procurements went mostly to China’s two major equipment vendors, with Huawei earning the lion’s share, and ZTE’s much smaller share still towering over that awarded to Sweden-based Ericsson. Continue reading “Nokia Left Out of China’s 5G RAN – Another Sign of Growing Polarity in the Global Ecosystem”

COVID-19: Ericsson’s Proactive Approach Serves as a ‘How To’ in Crisis Management

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Ericsson provided the most level of detail yet on the steps it has taken, both internal and customer-facing, in the wake of COVID-19.
  • Advanced planning emerges as a key feature of Ericsson’s approach, helping drive a number of important steps that should serve as a template for managing future crises.

As it released its first earnings report since COVID-19 began its rapid global spread, Ericsson took the opportunity to outline the various steps it has taken, both internally and externally, to plan for the known impacts and to predict the unknown effects. The actions taken by the company, which was one of the earliest to make the difficult decision to withdraw from this year’s MWC event in Barcelona, should serve as a case study for ‘how to get it right’ in the case of a crisis. For example: Continue reading “COVID-19: Ericsson’s Proactive Approach Serves as a ‘How To’ in Crisis Management”

COVID-19 Could Accelerate Wireless Industry 4.0

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic could accelerate investment in wireless solutions for the digital, ‘big data’ transformation of enterprise verticals sometimes called ‘Industry 4.0.’
  • Changes made in response to both social distancing and recession-induced workforce reductions could last long after the threat of the virus subsides.

The COVID-19 global pandemic is already expected to transform society in fundamental and irrevocable ways that we can’t yet fully predict. One effect of this transformation may be to accelerate initiatives to deploy cellular network technologies, such as LTE and 5G, to fundamentally reorder industrial operations across a range of enterprise verticals. This trend is already underway, as enterprises investigate the benefits of wireless networks that provide more reliability, and lower latency, than WiFi. However, the sudden and severe disruption that COVID-19 has wrought could force near-term changes among enterprises that lead to lasting practices. For example: Continue reading “COVID-19 Could Accelerate Wireless Industry 4.0”

COVID-19 Could Spur Demand for Fixed Wireless Access – Both 4G and 5G

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to increase demand for fixed wireless access (FWA) solutions to fill gaps in fiber broadband networks.

• 5G FWA has a mixed reputation but is improving; meanwhile, LTE-based FWA may be useful for serving some immediate needs

The COVID-19 global pandemic has resulted in a sudden and widespread explosion in telecommuting, as countless employees who can work from home now do. In many cases, these new telecommuters are using live videoconferencing tools that are sharing home-broadband bandwidth with children who have been sent home from school. The result is a sharp increase in home broadband needs. Where residences have access to fiber, these capacity needs may not be hard to meet. But fiber doesn’t reach every residence; any number of obstacles – including geographical or regulatory ones, or even sheer distance – might get in the way. Thus, demand is likely to increase deeply for fixed-wireless access solutions to fill in the gaps in fiber broadband networks. Continue reading “COVID-19 Could Spur Demand for Fixed Wireless Access – Both 4G and 5G”

Huawei Launches New 5G RAN Gear, Including Massive MIMO and More

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

• Huawei promoted several new RAN solution launches at an event held in London this month, including a Super Uplink solution for increasing 5G network capacity and radios utilizing 400 MHz of bandwidth.

• Huawei also emphasized the value of both frequency- and time-division spectrum.

At an event held February 20 in London, Huawei updated press and analysts on its latest 5G moves. The vendor cited its ability to provide end-to-end solutions for 5G networks, including RAN, core, and Multi-Access Edge Computing, which helps deliver 5G’s low-latency requirements. This comprehensive approach could also enable more cohesive network slicing, a key capability for enabling 5G’s ultimate value proposition.

But Huawei also introduced some important new offerings in its RAN portfolio, along with messages that it hopes will aid its 5G RAN strategies. Continue reading “Huawei Launches New 5G RAN Gear, Including Massive MIMO and More”

New 5G Network Recommendations Complicate UK Operators’ Rollout Plans

Ed Gubbins – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • The UK government has proposed limits in how much Huawei 5G RAN gear mobile operators deploy.
  • Exactly how operators will implement those limits is unclear, raising several questions.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the UK’s technical authority on cybersecurity, made big headlines this week by issuing recommendations for UK operators regarding how to honor national security concerns in selecting 5G network suppliers. But, beyond the headlines – primarily regarded as a win for Huawei, since the NCSC allowed a role for Huawei in UK 5G networks despite pressure from the U.S. – the NCSC’s actions raise plenty of questions about how UK operators will source, plan, and deploy their 5G radio access networks (RANs). Continue reading “New 5G Network Recommendations Complicate UK Operators’ Rollout Plans”

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”

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.







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.