EE streams live AR music gig to multiple locations using 5G

UK mobile operator EE has streamed a live gig to multiple locations using 5G and augmented reality technology.

Commuters passing through Birmingham's New Street Station were treated to the show by four-piece group Bastille, best known for their track Pompeii, in-person.

In a demonstration of how 5G is bringing live shows to consumers wherever they are, EE also streamed the show to people passing through Liverpool and Edinburgh city centres.

Nreal’s mixed reality glasses were used alongside the latest Samsung devices, including the Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G, to see the real-time performance.

Pete Jeavons, Marketing Communications Director at BT and EE, said:

“With 5G, our customers can enjoy immersive experiences no matter where they are, even during their commute and in the busiest places.

We’re saying goodbye to the days of refreshing our screens while waiting to get out of the station into a less congested area. 

This extraordinary AR performance from Bastille in three cities simultaneously is a great demonstration of what’s now possible for our customers with 5G.”

The 360-degree AR experience made it feel like each individual had a front row seat at Bastille's performance, getting even closer to the artist than they likely would if they'd attended an actual concert.

Furthermore, the AR provided an audiovisual treat including things like city walls tumbling down in addition to digital trains and more.

The experience was captured for a 5G advertising campaign EE is due to launch in January 2020. The campaign will highlight the new ways in which 5G can help elevate customers' experiences.

EE switched on its 5G network in May 2019 with coverage in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, and Manchester.

Last week, EE added 5G to Castlereagh, Guildford, Hamilton, Harlow, Hoddesdon, Kimberley, Lisburn, Maidstone, Sydenham, Watford, and Wolverhampton, and has switched on its first 5G sites in Liverpool, Glasgow, and Huddersfield.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

Telecoms.com Annual Industry Survey 2019

As we move towards the end of another eventful year, Telecoms.com has once again conducted its Annual Industry Survey, inviting fellow telecoms professionals to look back on 2019, and look ahead towards 2020 and beyond. In this report, we share with you the key findings of the survey as well as our analysis of them, with topics including: industry update, 5G, digital transformation, IoT, and OSS/BSS.

Here are a few highlights from the findings:
• Over half of the respondents think 2019 has been good, and three quarters believe 2020 will be better
• 5G, IoT, Cloud are among the priority investment areas
• Although 5G will keep rolling out aggressively in different parts of the world, 88% of respondents believe the industry should continue investing in 4G
• Budget alone will not guarantee digital transformation success, but the lack of it can be a deal breaker
• 81% of respondents see smart cities as the biggest IoT opportunity outside of home
• 70% of respondents believe BSS should undergo major changes in order to enable custom network services

We hope you enjoy the read.

 

The 5G hype is for real

The fast rollout of 5G services in different parts of the world has caused many in the telecoms industry to question how much of the 5G hype is for real. Telecoms.com and IBM recently conducted an industry survey that aimed to answer that question with first-hand findings. We trust you will enjoy seeing the results of the survey and reading our analysis of them in this report. Spoiler alert: it’s real, very real.

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India ignores industry on spectrum pricing complaints

The Indian Government has said it will not drop prices for spectrum licences in the next auction, despite persistent complaints from industry.

At conferences across the year, the Indian Government has been making suggestions it would reform the spectrum auction process, perhaps to appease the complaints from telcos, though this statement is quite the contrary. According to the Economic Times of India, after reviewing recommendations from the Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the Government has decided to maintain the current pricing structure.

And while telcos will always attempt to reduce investments made on spectrum, as well as bemoan the amount spent, you have to take these protests with a pinch of salt. There might be some credibility to the Indian complaints however.

In other markets, Germany for example, the telcos have been in uproar regarding the structure and pricing of spectrum auctions. The same complaints are being aired in India, though there is a slight difference in the outcome; spectrum is snapped up in Germany, suggesting the telcos can afford it, they just don’t like the price, but spectrum is remaining unsold in India.

According to Broadband India Forum (BIF), the high reserve prices placed on spectrum assets is a significant barrier. Since 2010, a period which includes six spectrum auctions, only 60% of the licences have been purchased. If such a valuable, and sparse, asset is remaining unsold, there is clearly something wrong with the status quo. Spectrum is arguably the lifeblood of a telco after all.

When compared to other nations, adjusted to take into account ARPU, BIF believes spectrum is 4X the price in India. As a result of these assets remaining unclaimed, $756 billion in economic losses have added-up over the years. This is very likely to be exaggeration, though there will of course be a dent to the progress and adoption of the digital economy when telcos are not in full-flight with all the relevant support from authorities.

The next spectrum auction is likely to take place in early 2020, starting with the 3.3-3.6 GHz spectrum band, some of the most prized assets due to the palatable compromise between speed and coverage. 275 MHz will be made available in the first instance, which the Government insists is enough to launch services, though industry and BIF disagree.

This could be an interesting auction, as the Government has ambitions to launch 5G services in India in 2020. Ericsson’s most recent mobile study suggests 5G connections will not be available in the country by 2022 to counter this point and considering the telcos are not happy with the current status quo, it does not look incredibly likely.

Once again, the Indian Government and regulator does not seem to want to work collaboratively with industry, taking a somewhat authoritarian approach as opposed to listening to how it could aid progress of the digital economy.

European Parliament reprimanded by Data Protection Supervisor

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) has launched a data protection probe into the European Parliament for continued work with a US firm.

The firm in question, NationBuilder, processes data collected though websites run by the European Parliament for citizen engagement, though it has fallen short of European standards on data protection and privacy. This is the second reprimand handed to the European Parliament concerning NationBuilder.

The website placed under current scrutiny, thistimeimvoting.eu, collected personal data from more than 329,000 people who had an interest in European Parliament elections.

“Strong data protection rules are essential for democracy, especially in the digital age,” said Assistant EDPS Wojciech Wiewiórowski.

“They help to foster trust in our institutions and the democratic process, through promoting the responsible use of personal data and respect for individual rights. With this in mind, starting in February 2019, the EDPS acted proactively and decisively in the interest of all individuals in the EU to ensure that the European Parliament upholds the highest of standards when collecting and using personal data.”

Although the details are relatively thin for the moment, the EDPS has issue involving the selection and approval of sub-processors used by NationBuilder. The sub-processors have not been named, though the EDPS has stated Article 29 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1725 are the rules in question.

Considering Europe’s position atop the data protection and privacy high-horse, this should be seen as quite an embarrassing incident. The European Parliament has taken a very condemning approach to those who flirt with data protection and privacy regulations, most notably Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. With this announcement from the EDPS, it does not appear the bureaucrats are listening to their own condemning words.

The collection and application of personal information surrounding elections is of course a very relevant topic today, not only because of numerous scandals and accusations, but also some very high-profile events on the horizon. Not only is the UK’s General Election taking place in a matter of weeks, the threat of a second Brexit referendum is a possibility, while campaigning for the US Presidential Election will hit full-steam over the next couple of months.

Posturing and rhetoric regarding the importance of data privacy and the application of data analytics in a responsible manner are more prominent than ever, but it seems to be nothing more than statements of intent. Data protection and privacy scandals will perhaps never be a thing of the past.

Huawei mobilizes is North American legal team once more

Embattled Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is reportedly going to challenge a recent FCC proposal, while there have been developments in the trial of its CFO in Canada.

Last month US telecoms regulator, the FCC, indicated it wants to ban Chinese vendors from receiving any money from its Universal Service Fund. Last week it formally proposed new rules ‘to remove bad actors from commission programs’. Specific bad actors weren’t identified, much to Hollywood’s relief, but the rules were clearly made with Chinese vendors in mind.

Now, according to the WSJ, Huawei is preparing a lawsuit to challenge the decision, with a formal announcement imminent. On the surface legal action such as this seems utterly futile, since the entire US state is clearly hostile to Huawei. But the US is supposed to have an independent judiciary devoted to due process, so anyone should be entitled to the safe treatment under the law, regardless of the political environment.

Meanwhile Huawei will also be hoping for impartial legal treatment in Canada, where its CFO Meng Wanzhou is under arrest, pending extradition to the US to be tried for a bunch of alleged crimes. The extradition hearing is due to take place in January and the CBC reports that Meng intends to ague that the crimes she is accused of don’t even exist.

“Initiating extradition proceedings in these circumstances would undermine Canada’s sovereignty and its independence on the world stage,” Meng’s lawyers reportedly reckon. “It is simply not Canada’s role to enforce American foreign policy through our laws, especially when such foreign policy is diametrically at odds with our country’s chosen legal framework.”

The core of the defense appears to be around ‘double criminality’, which means the act has to be a crime in both countries for extradition to be permitted. They seem to be saying financial deception Meng is accused of can’t be a crime in Canada because the sanctions it was supposedly designed to circumvent were US, not Canadian ones.

TIM dabbles in 5G surgery

Italian telco TIM is the latest to showcase 5G’s low-latency feature by enabling a surgeon to remotely get involved in an operation.

Remote surgery has been at the forefront of 5G hype ever since low latency became a thing. Being able to communicate over long distances with virtually no delay between sending and receiving data opens up all sorts of remote control opportunities. Remote surgery is the most graphic and emotive of these because it’s literally a matter of life and death, so it has become the default means of bringing publicity to the technology.

Professor Giorgio Palazzini used a VR visor to allow him to interact live with a surgical team in Terni, Italy, even though he was in Rome. The operating theatre had three video cameras, including a 360-degree 4K one and a laparoscopic one, which allowed the Prof to zoom in on the important bits when he felt the need. All this, we’re told, enabled him to offer real-time advice and guidance, but he didn’t get involved via robotic arms or anything like that.

“This is only the start of a new era of e-learning in all branches of medicine,” said Palazzini. “But its short-term future will be remote surgery, made possible by robots and 5G with virtually no latency. That means being able to operate on patients in any hospital that has 5G connectivity and robots, and real-time sharing of data-intensive diagnostic exams such as CT and MRI.”

“Today we have taken an important step forward in the world of surgery, made possible by bringing together the technological and healthcare capabilities of the future,” said Elisabetta Romano, TIM’s Chief Innovation & Partnership Officer. “New opportunities are arising for the sector to benefit from innovative solutions that serve both patients and the entire scientific community.

“TIM’s innovative 5G Digital Business Platform, combined with the specific characteristics of 5G, as well as robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Medical Things, are opening up some exciting but challenging scenarios. It is TIM’s goal to play its part in driving the growth of Italy and the company aims to extend the cutting-edge knowledge and techniques available in this area to as many people as possible.”

While the technology may exist to enable robo-surgery, there is likely to be a significant regulatory, legal and cultural lag before it becomes a regular fixure in the field. In that sense it has a fair bit in common with fully autonomous driving and it will probably take a while before people are relaxed about there being no human being physically present in high risk environments like roads and operating theatres.

Understanding 5G: A Practical Guide to Deploying and Operating 5G Networks

To help business executives and network professionals understand the path to 5G implementation and adoption, VIAVI is pleased to introduce a new book, Understanding 5G: A Practical Guide to Deploying and Operating 5G Networks.

The latest in our series of 5G industry references, Understanding 5G explores the revolutionary architecture and describes how each segment of the 5G network is redesigned to provide the promised characteristics and benefits. This indispensable reference breaks the complex technology into distinct categories containing the critical details necessary for multiple audiences. In addition, it addresses new use cases and applications that define the sixth technological evolution era. We invite you to explore the introduction and Chapter One free of charge.

Canadian complaints give regulator more ammunition for new telco

The Commission for Complaints for Telecom-television Services (CCTS) has said complaints against the telcos are at an all-time high, just as competition authorities are building evidence.

Usually annual complaints reports do not grab headlines, but this report needs to be placed into context. Earlier this week, the Canadian Competition Bureau has suggested new regulations should be introduced to encourage new entrants in the telco space, breaking the over-arching dominance of the ‘Big Three’; Bell, Telus and Rogers.

Looking at the CCTS report, for the last 12 months the Commission received nearly 19,300 complaints from telecoms customers, an all-time high for the organisation’s history.

The report suggests there is also a 42% increase in the number of service provider violations of the Wireless Code, most notably failure to provide important documentation to customers and to provide proper notice before disconnection of service. Complaints against Rogers increased 26.5% year-on-year, Telus’ jumped 70.6%, while Bell’s increased 24.2%.

Complaint Percentage of total
Billing issue 43.1%
Contract dispute 32%
Service delivery 21.8%
Credit management 3.1%

Looking at the long-term trends, complaints about wireless services have increased 90.6% over the last five years. The number of complaints about wireless on the whole increased year-on-year 53% for 2018/19, and accounts for 41% of all complaints directed towards telecoms and TV service providers.

Telco Number of complaints Percentage of total
Bell Canada 5,879 30.5%
Rogers 1,833 9.5%
Telus 1,610 8.3%
Virgin Mobile 1,253 6.5%
Freedom Mobile 1,253 5.9%

Telcos are traditionally very poor when it comes to customer service and delivering on the promised experience, so the poor performance described in the report will come as little surprise. However, those who are pursuing the introduction of new regulations to encourage additional competition will find the results very helpful.

As mentioned previously, the Canadian Competition Bureau has submitted a report to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) questioning whether the industry is in a healthy position. The report requests additional regulation which would encourage the creation of more MVNOs, as well as follow-ups which would assist these MVNOs in deploying their own, independent, scaled-networks. Ultimately, the Competition Bureau wants more competition across the country.

In general, competition authorities only pursue additional competition in markets when the status quo is deemed unsatisfactory. Introducing new dynamics are a means to ensure the consumer gets a fair price and a satisfactory service.

In the report submitted to the CTRC, the Competition Bureau suggests prices are 35-40% lower in regions where there is additional competition to drive the ‘Big Three’, and this competition only have to grab 5-10% of market share. Add the increased number of complaints into the equation, and the case for a competition shake-up in the Canadian market becomes stronger.

Canadian MNO/MVNO ARPU ($)
Bell Canada 51.05
Rogers 41.57
Telus 49.69
Freedom Mobile 28.47
Videotron 29.66

These are still the early days, but we suspect after a public consultation, efforts might be made to introduce additional competition into the market. This could mean forcing the existing telcos to lower wholesale costs to encourage the creation of new MVNOs in the short-term, it could also mean financial/regulatory assistance for these MVNOs to free-up capital for the deployment of infrastructure.

Another worrying development for the Canadian telcos is the up-coming 3.5 GHz spectrum auction which will take place next year. This is valuable spectrum for future 5G services, and should authorities want to introduce new competition, said competition would want a slice of the 5G airwaves. Perhaps limits will be introduced to the amount of spectrum the ‘Big Three’ can buy, and maybe it will be offered at discounted rates for new-players who commit to aggressive network deployment plans.

Country Price per GB ($) ARPU ($)
Canada 12.02 37.95
United Kingdom 6.66 17.65
United States 12.37 32.38
France 2.99 12.37
Japan 8.34 29.52
Australia 2.47 23.29

These are all guesses for the moment, though we strongly suspect Canada might be heading towards a situation where it wants to create additional competition. Prices are high in Canada in comparison to the rest of the world, $12.02 per GB a month and ARPU of $37.95, which is always a negative sign. Admittedly, the Canadian landscape makes it difficult to deploy networks cost-effectively, but the regulator wants to ensure the consumer’s wallet does not take too much of a beating.

It is unlikely to happen in the short-term, but the signs are not looking good for the status quo. The evidence is starting to point towards the need to introduce more competition in the Canadian telecoms market.

SK Telecom selects Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core to power its 5G network

SK Telecom has announced that it has selected Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core to power its 5G network. 

The Cloud Packet Core from Ericsson helps service providers to smoothly migrate to 5G Core stand-alone architecture. It also helps to create visibility, value and control of traffic and applications by determining the optimal quality of a service, then enforcing it through an appropriate policy. 

Jung Chang-kwan, VP and head of infra engineering group at SK Telecom, said: “By utilising Ericsson’s Cloud Packet Core network solution, which realizes simplified network operations, we will unleash the full potential of new 5G-enabled use cases with greater efficiency.”

According to Ericsson’s latest Mobility Report, published earlier this week, global 5G subscriptions will exceed 2.6bn within the next six years and by that time Ericsson predicts that 5G will cover 65 percent of the world. It also believes that total mobile subscriptions, including to previous generation networks, will reach 8.9bn from 8bn over the next six years. More than quarter of the global subscriptions will be 5G by 2025 and will account for around 45 percent of worldwide mobile data traffic.

Additionally, Ericsson has also announced its partnership with NVIDIA in order to develop technologies that will enable communication service providers to build virtualized 5G radio access networks, which will boost the introduction of new AI and IoT-based services. The ultimate focus will be to commercialize virtualized RAN technologies to offer radio networks with flexibility and ability to enter the market in a shorter time for new services like VR, AR and gaming.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.