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.

GLOBALDATA MOBILE BROADBAND FORECAST (March 2019)

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Cellular and WiFi Figuring Out Their 5G Identities

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • WiFi continues to enjoy near-ubiquitous penetration of smartphones, tablets, and laptops. However, improved cellular speeds enabled by LTE may be creating an inflection point.
  • In looking at how 5G and WiFi are evolving to face emerging market requirements, significant changes are likely that will strengthen 5G’s value proposition in a number of use cases.

Two conferences offering significantly different visions for the future of ‘local’ wireless are poised to take place the week of May 21. In London, the Small Cell Forum will be showcasing a largely cellular-centric view focused on 5G densification and the regulatory challenges implied therein. In Atlanta, the Wireless Broadband Alliance will hone in on the role of WiFi 6 within the 5G era. The simultaneous timing of these two conferences, while unintentional, certainly underscores the increasing questions being asked by operators and network equipment vendors on the optimal role of WiFi and 5G technologies. Continue reading “Cellular and WiFi Figuring Out Their 5G Identities”

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”

Looking Into the Crystal Ball: GlobalData’s Most Intriguing Predictions in Telco Technology & Software in 2019

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • GlobalData recently published its comprehensive set of 2019 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.

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 2019”

Amazon-Enabled Federated Wireless Private LTE Initiative Should Serve as a Shot Across the Bow for Public Operators

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Federated Wireless announced a consortium designed to stake out a growth position in the emerging private LTE/CBRS market.
  • The consortium as comprised is incomplete; however, the announcement should serve as a wakeup call to public network operators that have thus far not taken a strong position in private LTE.

Amid the flurry of announcements emerging from this week’s AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, which is quickly becoming one of the most important networking events of the year, was the announcement of a private LTE network consortium that relies on a number of partners to enable fast deployment of industrial IoT applications. Specifically, the consortium, led by Federated, includes:

  • Federated Wireless – using its cloud-based Spectrum Controller to enable secure access to the 3.5 GHz band;
  • Ruckus – providing what it bills as the “industry’s first” indoor LTE access points to use the 3.5 GHz CBRS spectrum;
  • Athonet – which sells a cloud mobile core product specifically designed for private networks;
  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) – specifically, the AWS cloud IoT platform to connect, manage, and monitor IoT devices at scale (Athonet’s BubbleCloud resides on the AWS cloud).

Continue reading “Amazon-Enabled Federated Wireless Private LTE Initiative Should Serve as a Shot Across the Bow for Public Operators”

Nokia Partnering Up to Sharpen Focus on Enterprise Market: Is a CSP Clash Inevitable?

John Byrne – Service Director, Global Technology Telecom and Software

Summary Bullets:

  • Nokia continues to expand its partner and channel initiatives to better pursue enterprise opportunities, including a strategic alliance with Infosys announced in November.
  • The company sees major opportunities in the enterprise but may ultimately have to decide if pursuing them is worth alienating traditional CSP customers.

Over the past year, Nokia has been stepping up its focus on moving outside its traditional target market of communication service providers (CSPs) in a bid to diversify its revenue stream and tap into growth opportunities to offset flat or declining CSP spending. Based on the company’s ‘Future X for Industries’ vision, it believes there will be a EUR 22 billion market by 2023 for digital automation in the enterprise segment. Continue reading “Nokia Partnering Up to Sharpen Focus on Enterprise Market: Is a CSP Clash Inevitable?”

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”

AT&T SHAPE 2018: Visions of New Content Creation and Delivery Innovations

Erik Keith – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

  • AT&T SHAPE 2018 preceded AT&T’s federal court win and subsequent closing of its acquisition of Time Warner by just over a week, highlighting AT&T’s confidence that it had the firm legal standing/precedent to move forward.
  • The focus of AT&T SHAPE 2018 was dramatically different from the 2017 version; for 2018, AT&T and partner vendors highlighted how new content will be both created and delivered to its customers.

AT&T’s SHAPE event took place once again in Burbank, California, during the first weekend in June. In some respects, SHAPE 2018 built upon the foundation set at last year’s SHAPE event. As in 2017, the SHAPE 2018 showcased the content and creative assets AT&T would take ownership of (i.e., Warner Brothers Studios) by utilizing the WB campus again, perhaps to reiterate the magnitude, breadth, and depth of the WB assets, both physically and virtually, and the vital role AT&T sees them playing under the AT&T umbrella. AT&T’s own description of SHAPE was of “an immersive event that explores the convergence of technology and entertainment.” Continue reading “AT&T SHAPE 2018: Visions of New Content Creation and Delivery Innovations”