Midterm Observations on the Telecom Industry.

Observations - Telecom IndustryThree events were held this past week that provided an opportunity to get a midterm pulse of the telecom industry: the MWC-Shanghai, 5G World and WBA Congress. Having attended the last two, I wanted to summarize a few observations:

* The vision for 5G is converging; industry is aligning along common themes.  A few leading operators are racing to claim 5G capability for different reasons and interests. The absence of standards coupled with vendors’ urgent need for 5G, will lead to market confusion which will climax in the next two years as the olympics in Japan and Korea approach and companies and countries race to claim firsts. Expect to be inundated with terms such as ‘5G-Lite’, ‘pre-5G’, ‘5G-Phase1’, ‘pre-certified 5G’, ‘5G-ready’, etc. Read more of this post

Does the Short Road to 4.5G Mean a Long Road to 5G?!

4.5G vs. 5GBrowse through industry literature or conference proceedings and trade shows, and you’ll be inundated with talk about 5G. On the other hand little is to be found on “4.5G”, or technically speaking, LTE Release 12 and 13 branded as LTE-Advanced Pro [which incidentally I find to be a bad choice of terms that I prefer to use 4.5G even as I don’t like the nomenclature!]. Why is there little to discuss on 4.5 G and much to talk about on 5G? What does this tells us about 4.5G and 5G? And, is there something between the lines that we can read? Read more of this post

Comparative Look at LPWA Performance.

There are over a dozen LPWA technologies contending to provide connectivity for some of the billions of connected devices as projected by market analysts. How they all compare with each other is a hot topic in the race to markets. We recently published detailed analysis benchmarking these technologies in terms of capacity, range, throughput, power consumption and other characteristics*. In the process we developed a graphic for two parameters – range and throughput. Both are important parameters, but in the context of IoT, they are not the only parameters that need to be considered. Nevertheless, it is worth outlining some important aspects of this graphic. Read more of this post

Demystifying Cloud RAN Architectures

Imagine a wireless service provider can provide service anywhere there’s Internet connectivity at the click of a button. All they need is a small remote radio connected to the Internet. The baseband modems no longer reside at cell sites, but are hosted in data centers where powerful commercial servers execute all the functions of todays base station baseband units. The remote radios can even be self-deployed by the mobile subscribers. The service provider would have full control of the service features which can be configurable on the fly. Sounds like science fiction to some, but this is what virtualization of the radio access network aims to achieve.

No wonder then that the term Cloud RAN which meant centralization and virtualization of baseband became an overused term to denote all types of architectures. We live in the world of Anything as a Service (XaaS). Which investors would put money now in a hardware company? Read more of this post

C-RAN and the True 5G

5G Cloud RANWhile people may debate what 5G will be, there are a few key facts that cannot be changed. These facts will shape what 5G will be. Based on this we expect that new winners will emerge who can capitalize on new trends through innovating new solutions. Therefore, aside from the hype that dominates 5G talk, the key is to peel the layers that shroud the fundamentals. Over the last three years of researching the potential for Cloud RAN (C-RAN), I saw all the traits of a disruptive technology lurking in the background (2014, 2015). But with 5G, I think this can all change, and C-RAN will bolt to the foreground in more than one way. Read more of this post

MNOs Investments in LPWA: Strategic or Tactical Expediency?

Internet of Things LPWA IoTOver a year ago, SK Telecom invested in SigFox in a round that raised €100 m from a consortium of investors that included Telefonica and NTT Docomo. This week, SKT announces that it will build a LoRa network at a cost of more than $84 m over two years. In the meantime, SKT is working with Ericsson to evaluate the potential of LTE Cat-m2, the new designation for Narrowband-IoT (NB-Iot), which is the latest of a series of LTE-based standards for IoT connectivity. This is only one example among many of a mobile service provider taking a multi-pronged approach to address IoT connectivity. The moves by many MNOs in this space raise many questions, such as: Why are MNOs making multiple investments in IoT? What is the business opportunity? Are MNOs serious about LPWANs? Is this interest based on hype or is there a real business to be had?  Read more of this post

The State of IoT Connectivity

IoT: LPWA vs. NB-IoT LTEMWC16 was a great venue to check the pulse of developments in IoT connectivity. We summarized part of our observations which we shared and published (link). It caused many follow ups by colleagues and friends who voiced a wide range of opinions that I thought some further color would be useful.

To start, the main challenge in IoT is applications. The challenge is not technology which exists. Rather, the issue is in making the business case for IoT to arrive at a functional solution. That cycle is long and expensive. When we drill deeper into many IoT activities, the question becomes “who will pay for this service.” Technology can lower the cost, but there are many elements that are not technology related which gate the process. Read more of this post