Japan prepares for the 2020 Olympic Games with 5G trial system

Japan will be hosting the Olympic Games in 2020 and the nation plans to ensure attendees can keep up with the athletes, at least on their mobile.

The country has begun a trial of a 5G system in Tokyo and rural areas as it prepares for the games and the expected launch of the fifth-generation mobile technology in 2020.

Headed by Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIC), the trials are expected to continue for the next three years and will involve a myriad of private-sector companies to discuss and share their expertise as 5G-based technologies evolve.

Japan’s three biggest carriers – NTT Docomo, KDDI, and SoftBank – are expected to be lending their knowledge, while equipment manufacturers Panasonic, Sharp, and Fujitsu will be helping supply required hardware including base stations and handsets.

MIC expects 5G to be around 100 times quicker than the current, most widely-used, LTE networks in Japan today, and ten times faster than 4G. More than 40 projects have been proposed by the 5G Trial Promotion Group.

Yukihiko Okumura, the leader of the 5G Mobile Communications Promotion Forum Japan’s 5G Trial Promotion Group (5G-TPG) said during a keynote presentation at the 3rd Global 5G Event that more than 40 related utilization projects have been proposed by members of the 5G Trial Promotion Group.

The body summarised various utilisation projects across six use cases including Entertainment, which stipulates the use of the emerging technology for stadiums, event sites, theme parks and sightseeing areas; Security and Disaster Defense, which will include the deployment of surveillance and security systems; Logistics, Agriculture, Office and Factory; Remote Control and Surveillance of Robot and Drone; Connected Cars and Automated Driving and High-Speed Moving Vehicles.

Members of the 5GMF Trial Promotion Group include KDDI, NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, Ericsson, Sony, SoftBank, NEC, NTT, Nokia, Panasonic, Hitachi, Huawei, Mitsubishi Electric, Anritsu and Keysight Technologies.

What are your thoughts on the launch of the 5G trial system? Let us know in the comments.

Virgin Media claims its broadband has delivered a £1.4 billion boost to the UK

Liberty Global, owners of Virgin Media, claims their investment in UK broadband has delivered a “total social benefit” of over £1 billion.

The figure includes the company’s investment in higher broadband speeds, competitive pricing, and the improved productivity it has enabled between 2013 and 2017. Rather than a made up figure, the data comes from an Oxera Consulting report.

“Liberty Global’s significant investment in the reach and capability of its broadband cable network is creating considerable benefits for companies and households across Europe. With the digital economy expanding seven times faster than the rest of the economy, high-quality broadband networks are critical,” says Enno Eilts, Partner at Oxera. “As well as providing consumers with communication and entertainment services, fast and reliable broadband increases the productivity of businesses and provides individuals with access to substantial information and learning resources.”

Overall, Liberty Global has invested £11.6 billion in total capital expenditure – adjusted for inflation – across its European operations in new and existing infrastructure, customer premises equipment, business support, and other key services.

The report follows the November 2016 launch of Liberty Global’s GIGAWorld initiative, which outlines Liberty Global’s plans to bring gigabit internet speeds to the European countries in which it operates. Around 50 million homes in Europe have access to Liberty Global’s fibre-based “GIGAReady” networks, and the company expects millions more to be connected over the coming years through its previously announced network extension programs in Europe.

“GIGAWorld is our mission to build robust, reliable, superfast networks that can not only meet the connectivity and speed demands of consumers today, but also support the next-generation devices and applications of tomorrow that will fuel even greater demand,” comments CEO Mike Fries said. “Our significant investment clearly has a positive 2 impact for consumers and businesses across Europe, and we are proud that it simultaneously generates billions for the economy, while creating clear social benefits through improved speed, productivity and competition.”

One of Virgin Media’s most notable (and ongoing) UK investments is the operator’s £3 billion Project Lightning network expansion, which aims to cover a total of 17 million UK premises by 2019. Once complete, it should boost their coverage of the nation to around 60 - 65 percent.

The big question is when Liberty Global will begin the rollout of Gigabit-capable DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

Are you impressed with Liberty Global’s broadband impact on the UK? Share your thoughts in the comments.

NFV revenue to reach $38 billion: Assessing the market development

Open source hardware and software projects continue to gain momentum in the global telecom sector. However, after a relatively slow start, the network function virtualization (NFV) market will experience growth through ongoing technology investments by major telecommunication service providers.

According to the latest worldwide market study by ABI Research, North America will lead global growth, accumulating $13 billion in NFV-related investments during 2022. Meanwhile, Europe will experience the highest growth rate, at an estimated 53 percent CAGR between 2017 and 2022.

NFV technology market development

Early adopters of the technology claim several benefits to NFV-enabled systems - which include reductions in network CAPEX and OPEX, service agility, and reduced deployment times for new network elements.

"In 2015 and 2016, the market experienced some early successes but mostly reconsideration and failure with NFV," says Neha Pachade, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Early adopters conducted proof of concept testing and NFV-integrated system demonstrations with the aim to understand the true impact of NFV technologies. ABI forecasts indicate that NFV will become a sizeable opportunity for vendors, although it is not yet clear whether it will cannibalize existing hardware-based product lines.

ABI Research estimates that total NFV market revenues will reach $38 billion in 2022. Hardware spend - including servers, storage devices, and switches - will reduce with time, while software and services will have higher growth rates of 55 percent and 50 percent, respectively.

According to the ABI assessment, although the market is evolving and technical expertise is starting to mature, the standardization and multi-vendor involvement challenges will remain stagnant for the next couple of years.

Software and services vendors will have opportunities to identify NFV use-cases in enterprise verticals and apply these to offer end-to-end integrated systems.

"Early contracts and market trends illustrate the biggest winners are likely to be the established telecom vendors - including Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia, as well as specialists like Amdocs and Netcracker - with systems integration becoming more important each day," concluded Pachade.

Outlook for NFV application adoption

Several vendors also committed to open source software, which may increase business opportunities but may also create difficult choices for them in the future - particularly if telecom service provider interest in specific open source projects fizzles out.

For the time being, NFV is mostly considered as a cost-cutting exercise, since new revenue opportunities require a transformation in a much broader context, which ABI analysts believe is more likely to be driven by 5G wireless technologies, sometime after 2020.