Qualcomm hypes 5G one more time ahead of 2019 global roll out

At a big corporate event in Hong Kong Qualcomm took the opportunity to whip up the 5G hype one more time.

While we have seen some of the first green shoots of 5G in the wild this year, 2019 will be twhen the roll out of 5G in real life will explode. Judging by the endless stream of 5G test announcements, each one claiming its own infinitesimally incremental ‘first’, 5G is ready to go. Qualcomm has spent most of this year, when not engaged in corporate warfare with the likes of Broadcom and Apple, talking up 5G and this Hong Kong event represented the culmination of that effort.

5G is a pretty big deal for a variety of tech sector stakeholders, many of which made an appearance at the event, but it’s fair to say 5G is critical to Qualcomm. The company established a dominant position for itself as a modem player during the 3G era by owning a lot of the technology from which the standard was comprised. It wasn’t possible to repeat that trick in subsequent generations, so Qualcomm diversified into other types of silicon generally found in mobile devices.

The whole point of 5G is to bring cellular connectivity to pretty much everything. While this opens up a whole bunch of new opportunities it also complicates the business of dominating it. More than any previous generation this means partnerships, both within the telecoms and tech sectors but also across other industries.

Qualcomm’s first guest speaker was Thomas Noren, Head of 5G Commercialization at Ericsson (pictured above with Cristiano Amon of Qualcomm). The highlight of his appearance was a set-piece claiming to be the first 5G NR sub-6 GHz (specifically 3.5 GHz) call to a mobile form factor device. This latest ‘first’ actually took place in an Ericsson lab, but they decided to re-enact the whole thing live at the event to ensure we could fully appreciate the sheet majesty of it.

“Today’s call marks a significant milestone as we have now successfully made 3GPP-compliant calls in the sub-6 GHz and mmWave spectrum bands, which will facilitate mobile operators’ deployment of their 5G NR networks,” said Durga Malladi, GM of 4G/5G at Qualcomm, in the accompanying press release. “Sub-6 GHz spectrum is instrumental to the global 5G NR rollout as it will provide wide area, high performance connectivity and has been allocated and auctioned in numerous regions around the world, including the US, Korea and Europe, with others to follow shortly.”

In the main opening session of the event alone, the following companies all got their moment in the Qualcomm spotlight: Samsung, OnePlus, Tencent, NextVR, Microsoft, Geely, Honeywell, AWS and Xiaomi. Other announcements made at the event included some new 5G mm wave antenna modules, some 5G small cell tech with Samsung, a new Snapdragon SoC designed for mid-tier smartphones and a new 5G smartphone reference design that actually looks like a smartphone.

Qualcomm is determined to makes itself as synonymous with 5G as it did the previous two generations. To do that it needs to be involved in a wide variety of technologies and sectors and the Hong Kong event seemed designed to demonstrate that it’s doing just that. There is a very real danger that the reality of 5G in 2019 will fall well short of the hype, but Qualcomm is clearly prepared to take that risk.

AT&T and Verizon compete for yet more 5G ‘firsts’

US carriers AT&T and Verizon have completed what they both claim to be the world’s first data transfer to a smartphone form factor device over mmWave 5G live networks.

If we put together all the 5G ‘firsts’ claimed by the industry players it would make a long read, especially if we included cases where similar firsts have been claimed by different companies. In this most recent case, both AT&T and Verizon called themselves the world’s first to successfully transfer data over live 5G networks to purpose-built mobile devices, in Texas and Minnesota respectively.

Temporally, AT&T might have stolen a step ahead of its competitor. The AT&T test took place “over the weekend”, while news coming out of Verizon on Monday declared the success happened yesterday, but they were essentially the same kind of tests. Probably the most intriguing part of the story is that both carriers used Qualcomm’s terminals on networks supplied by Ericsson.

Even the technical details disclosed look very similar. Both tests were using smartphone form factor test devices from Qualcomm integrating the latter’s Snapdragon X50 5G modem and RF subsystem (see the picture), both were going through Ericsson 5G-NR capable radios connected to 3x virtual core networks.

These announcements followed hot on the heels of a couple of other 5G firsts in the last few days: last week Verizon and Nokia claimed to have completed the first over-the-air data transmission on a commercial 5G NR network in Washington DC, though the receiving end was not exactly a smartphone-like device. On Monday Nokia announced its demo with Sprint to conduct the first (in the US though) 5G NR connection over Massive MIMO.

Ericsson and Qualcomm claimed to have completed the first 5G NR ‘call’ to a smartphone-like device (which was pretty similar to the ones used in the AT&T and Verizon tests). That announcement itself came a couple of days after Ericsson announced another similar test with Intel. These two slightly earlier tests were conducted in lab environment while the latest AT&T and Verizon cases were done over live networks, or as AT&T emphatically stressed, “Not a lab. Not preproduction hardware. Not emulators.”

We understand the marketing departments of these companies must be busy generating as big a buzz as possible in the run-up to the Mobile World Congress America (starting tomorrow). Meanwhile we cannot discount that tests and announcements (and claims) like these do show the wider world 5G potentials when the commercial networks roll out in the coming months and years, though at the moment all these firsts still do not mean anything for consumers as no 5G terminals are available yet.

Another interesting angle to look at these tests is how active the US carriers are in pushing ahead 5G on mmWave, which contrast with how slow the European operators and regulators are moving. The European Commission launched a project to look into the feasibility of using mmWave for 5G deployment in the EU. A reporting session was organised in Brussels in June this year. The views were divided, and conclusions elusive. The main doubt from the industry looked to be the lack of compelling business case and the wrangling between the telecom industry and the satellite industry on the utilisation of the lower mmWave spectrum, hence the lack of contiguous bands for 5G buildout.

It may be a worthy reminder that we can never tell with full confidence what new technologies can do. Andre Fuetsch, AT&T Communications’ CTO was bang on when he said “… yet to be discovered experiences will grow up on tomorrow’s 5G networks. Much like 4G introduced the world to the gig economy, mobile 5G will jumpstart the next wave of unforeseen innovation.”

3GPP rubber-stamps standalone 5G standard

The 3GPP TSG #80 plenary meeting has approved the completion of the standalone (SA) Release 15 5G specifications.

This marks the completion of the next major 5G standardization milestone after the standard for non-standalone (i.e. still reliant on legacy infrastructure) 5G was approved last December. As implied this standard allows the deployment of 5G independently thanks to a new network architecture.

“The freeze of Standalone 5G NR radio specifications represents a major milestone in the quest of the wireless industry towards realizing the holistic 5G vision,” said Balázs Bertényi, Chairman of 3GPP TSG RAN. “5G NR Standalone systems not only dramatically increase the mobile broadband speeds and capacity, but also open the door for new industries beyond telecommunications that are looking to revolutionize their ecosystem through 5G.”

“The agreed completion of the stage 3 freeze milestone for the 5G standalone system has great significance,” said Erik Guttman, Chairman of 3GPP TSG SA. “5G promises a broad expansion of telecommunications, as an ever more central component of our economies, societies and individual activities. The 5G System opens the way for commercialization of services based on the New Radio and 5G Core Network and their advanced extensible capabilities. The new system provides the foundation for ongoing specialization for support of new business sectors, for unlike 4G and past generations, 5G supports the very specific requirements and individual service characteristics of diverse communications.”

“Two years ago, 5G was seen as a vision or even just a hype – with the closing of Rel-15 3GPP has made 5G a reality within a very short time,” said Georg Mayer, Chairman of 3GPP TSG CT. “The outcome is an amazing set of standards that will not only provide higher data rates and bandwidth to end customers but which is open and flexible enough to satisfy the communication needs of different industries — 5G will be the integration platform for heterogeneous businesses.”

That enough canned quotes for you? No? OK how about comments from EVERYONE else involved in this latest piece of 5G standards action? Here you go:

China Mobile

Mr. Li Zhengmao, Vice President of China Mobile, said: “The name of the host place, La Jolla, means “the jewel” in Spanish. As the name of the host place, 5G has been viewed as a “jewel” from its birth and bears the expectations and dreams of the entire mobile communications industry to provide faster and smoother mobile broadband services and more comprehensive and more effective communication solutions to vertical industries. The whole industry will carry the momentum to accelerate the maturity of the 5G end-to-end system, create a new ecology of cross-industry integration, cultivate a new model for 5G development, and make greater contributions to the development of the global digital economy.”

Anritsu

Takashi Seike, the Senior Vice President of Anritsu, said: “We are very pleased to see the next frontier of wireless communication coming closer to reality by the completion of Standalone 5G NR specification. Anritsu is committed to contribute to commercial success of 5G by ensuring device and service quality through close collaboration with customers and partners.”

Asia Pacific Telecom

Mr. Fang-Ming Lu, Chairman of Asia Pacific Telecom, said: “The complete of Rel-15 NR specification opens the door for introducing more intelligence into the world. We are very pleased to continue cooperating with global industry partner to explore new applications of 5G technology. More specifically, Asia Pacific Telecom is willing to create 5G+8K eco-system to enrich our digital life and provide Industrial IoT services to offer more innovative solutions for society.”

AT&T

“Commercial 5G services are closer than ever with the completion of 3GPP Release 15,” said Hank Kafka, VP Access Architecture and Standards. “This milestone will allow for more advanced testing using standards-compliant equipment and paves the way for our commercial 5G launch in a dozen cities later this year. We are proud to have been part of the process as the industry participants in 3GPP came together to achieve the acceleration, and now completion, of the first phase of 5G specifications.”

British Telecom

“BT recognises another significant milestone on the path of 5G.” said Neil J. McRae, Chief Architect at BT, “This step provides the crucial foundation to enable the power of 5G to deliver on low latency, scale and high availability- the foundation that our customers need to usher in the fourth industrial revolution and the era of ultra collaboration.”

CAICT

Ms. Wang Zhiqin, Deputy Director of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), said: “The on-time delivery of the first version of 5G specifications does not come easily. It is the result of wisdom and sweat of people who has devoted themselves to 5G standardization. The new end-to-end business capability of 5G will become an essential engine to open up an era where everything is inter-connected. IMT-2020 (5G) Promotion Group is going to work with industrial partners to promote the successful deployment and development of 5G.”

CATT

Chen Shanzhi, the Vice President of Datang Telecom Group (CATT), said: “The success of 5G NR first full specification comes from the joint efforts of the industry. SA operation can be regarded as a prerequisite of 5G supporting both mobile internet and IoT, and also an accelerator for 5G successful commercialization and even a multiplier for 5G showing its social value. Therefore, the successful completion of SA specification has laid a foundation for the overall launch of 5G industry. With 5G commercialization entering the final sprint phase, Datang Telecom Group will continuously endeavor to promote 5G into global commercial success.”

China Telecom

China Telecom EVP, Dr. Liu Guiqing said: “China Telecom is proud of being important part of the team for completing this historical 5G milestone. With this Rel-15 SA specification frozen, China Telecom plans to lead the efforts on verifying the specified performance and optimizing the innovative features through field trials in many cities. In parallel to the verification efforts of Rel-15, China Telecom looks forward to working with others in 3GPP to define Rel-16 that is critical for URLLC applications. To get ready for commercialization, China Telecom will work closely with the vendors and partners to promote 5G ecosystem and to explore new applications and business cases.”

China Unicom

Dr. Shao Guanglu, China Unicom EVP, said: “The 5G standard completed at this meeting is result of sincere cooperation of the whole industry. It is the result of wisdom and sweat of experts in communications, and carries high expectation and dreams of the whole society to form a more intelligent world. The completion of specifications is a milestone for 5G commercialization. 5G can meet various business requirements in different scenarios. It can not only provide high speed wireless access, but also enable vertical industry applications. It help us carry out the national strategies such as Internet+ and Made in China 2025. China Unicom will work together with the whole industry to build a good ecosystem and create a new dimension for 5G development, with the “five new” attitude”.

Chunghwa Telecom

Mr. Kuo-Feng Lin, SEVP and CTO, Chunghwa Telecom said: “We are delighted to see R15 5G NR specifications have been successfully and timely completed. It not only sets a remarkable milestone for the global ecosystem towards 5G eMBB commercialization, but also heralds the start of R16 5G specifications towards broader mMTC and uRLLC opportunities. We appreciate the efforts and contributions from 3GPP colleagues and stakeholders. Chunghwa Telecom will continue cooperating with the whole industrial players to enter the 5G wonderland.”

Deutsche Telekom

“We welcome the on-time completion of the Standalone Architecture with a cloud-friendly core network as part of the Rel-15 3GPP standard. This is another crucial milestone to realize a full end-to-end 5G system,” says Alex Jinsung Choi, SVP Research & Technology Innovation, Deutsche Telekom. “Deutsche Telekom recently implemented the world’s first non-standalone architecture trial in a commercial network in Germany. We now look forward to continuing our cross-industry collaboration to accelerate the 5G ecosystem development and explore the applications of reduced latency and network slicing, so that we can bring the full benefits of 5G to our customers.”

DISH Network

“Congratulations to 3GPP, we are excited to be a part of the completion of this important milestone,” said Mariam Sorond, Vice President of Technology Development at DISH Network.  “5G is set to be a paradigm shift for the industry and the completion of standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specifications will enable new entrants to usher in innovative solutions.  We look forward to contribute to future milestones which enable the full potential of 5G to address massive connectivity and solutions for other verticals beyond broadband.”

Ericsson

Erik Ekudden, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Ericsson, says: “5G is fast approaching commercial reality thanks to the dedicated, industry-wide standardization work lead by 3GPP, we together have accelerated the delivery of the standard well ahead of time. Together with our ecosystem partners we will sustain this momentum and ensure that communication service providers can successfully launch 3GPP standard-based 5G networks.”

Fujitsu Limited

Masayuki Seno, SVP and Head of Network Products Business Unit at Fujitsu, said: “Fujitsu is very proud to reach a major milestone by successfully completing standalone (SA) 5G NR specifications together with the world’s mobile operators and vendors. The 5G network is surely the foundation for the secure exchange of information between trusted communities in the hyper-connected world. Fujitsu will strive to provide 5G network products and connected services to co-create human centric innovation through digital technologies with our customers and partners all over the world.”

Huawei

Yang Chaobin, president of Huawei 5G product line, said: “With the development of 5G NR standardization, we are pleased to cooperate with global organizations to reach a great milestone that 3GPP 5G NR specification of Standalone(SA) have been completed, which is a critical step forward for the 5G standardization and industry ecosystem. Huawei will positively invest on the research and development of 5G key technology and product, continue cooperating with global industry partner, and promote the implementation of 5G commercial deployment and health industry ecosystem worldwide.”

Intel

Asha Keddy, Vice President and General Manager Next Generation and Standards, Intel: “As the world prepares for 5G network deployments later this year, Intel is proud to have worked alongside our industrial partners to complete the standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specification. This new air interface is another major step in our journey to power this first wave of 5G.  Intel, with our end to end network, cloud and client focus, and our partners are reimagining the network to deliver a true convergence of computing and communications.”

InterDigital

Dr. Robert DiFazio, Vice President, InterDigital Labs: “The completion of the 5G NR standalone specification and indeed all the new technologies that will make up 5G are the culmination of many years of work from all the companies and hundreds of engineers at 3GPP, and InterDigital is proud to have worked alongside them. InterDigital has been committed to playing a leading role in mobile industry standards across multiple generations of wireless, and we are excited to continue contributing our best technology as 5G deploys and brings amazing connectivity and economic opportunity throughout the world.”

Keysight Technologies

Satish Dhanasekaran, senior vice president of Keysight Technologies, and president of the Communications Solutions Group (CSG): “We are excited to enable the industry at a threshold of 5G acceleration and commercialization. The completion of the standalone (SA) 5G new radio (NR) specification marks a distinct milestone and offers a playbook for a connected ecosystem to move forward, in making 5G a reality and unlocking huge potential for society. Keysight’s is engaged with market leaders, contributions to the 3GPP standardization development and providing scalable 5G test and measurement solutions all the way from L1 to L7.”

KDDI

Mr. Yoshiaki Uchida, Senior Managing Executive Officer, Director of KDDI, said: “We are proud to have played a part in completion of 5G standardization as one of the leaderships of 3GPP TSG. With this successful completion of the 5G NR specification, KDDI will continue our collaboration with various business partners and prepare for the commercial 5G service launch in 2020.”

KT

Dr. Hongbeom Jeon, Executive Vice President and Head of KT’s Infra Lab., said: “Ever since our successful 5G trial at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February, we have sought to elevate 5G standards in 3GPP to a higher level of excellence. KT greatly appreciates the timely establishment of the full 5G specifications and will continue to lead the global efforts for the coming commercial launch of 5G.”

KYOCERA

Masahiko Inagaki, Senior Executive Officer, General Manager of Corporate R&D Group at Kyocera said: “The completion of the 5G NR SA specification marks a key turning point in the evolution of the next generation of wireless technology. Kyocera believes the new technology will fundamentally change the efficiency of network resource utilization, deployment flexibility and support of various applications with different QoS requirements such as IoT and V2X, some of which require high efficiency, ultra-reliable, low latency operations.”

Lenovo

Dr. Yong Rui, CTO&SVP of Lenovo Group, said: “The 5G has arrived at one of its key milestones, namely, the 5G NR SA specs has just been released in the 3GPP Plenary. The game-changing 5G has extremely broad implications for the telecommunications as well as many other industries that affect the most exciting and promising fields of the modern society for years to come. Lenovo has been working closely with key industry partners like China Mobile to accelerate the commercialization of 5G technologies to bring their full benefits to both our consumers and clients.”

LG Electronics

“LG is proud to be one of the key contributors toward the timely and successful completion of the 5G Phase-1 standard including 5G NR Stand Alone specifications, an important milestone to extend the application of 5G technologies to diverse deployment environments and emerging vertical sectors,” said Dr. I.P. Park, Chief Technology Officer of LG Electronics. “We are ready to deliver 5G-based intelligent mobile products and convergence services to worldwide markets and look forward to making significant contributions to the evolution of 5G standards.”

LG Uplus

Joosik Choi, executive vice president and Head of 5G Strategy Planning, said: “We would like to thank to 3GPP and all companies for great effort on 5G SA NR standard, Release 15. Based on this standard, LG Uplus is preparing for the successful deployment and commercialization of 5G in 2019. We will contribute to the continued development of 5G NR.”

MediaTek

MediaTek Senior Vice President Cheng-Te Chuang said: “The completion of standalone 5G NR specifications is another remarkable milestone in the progress of 5G and the goal of full coverage 5G SA networks. MediaTek is deeply involved in the standardization of 5G core technologies. With the completion of both SA and NSA specifications, MediaTek’s commercial-ready 5G chipset is getting mature and MediaTek will be one of the first-tier suppliers in 5G commercial markets.”

Mitsubishi Electric

Dr. Takashi Nishimura, executive officer in charge of Communication Systems Group, said: “It is our great pleasure to be a member of the group that has created a new 5G standard. Mitsubishi Electric wishes to contribute to the realization of a prosperous society that simultaneously achieves “sustainability” and “safety, security and comfort”, making the best use of the strengths of our existing businesses as well as the opportunities presented by this recently developed 5G standard.”

NEC

Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President and Head of the Network Service Business Unit at NEC, said: “NEC is proud to have contributed to the completion of 5G NR standardization. This is a significant milestone towards successful commercialization of 5G, which will enable new value and services through its secure and intelligent technologies. Going forward, NEC will continue to develop and provide innovative 5G solutions for society that enable advanced communications and a diversified range of sophisticated services.”

Nokia

Marcus Weldon, President of Bell Labs and Corporate Chief Technology Officer, Nokia, said: “Nokia is proud to have played a significant role in achieving this milestone with excellent global industry cooperation. This milestone connects the 5G radio (NR) to the new 5G Core Network, in line with Nokia’s Future X vision. It enables exciting possibilities for the digital transformation that 5G will bring us for a connected world. A whole new horizon is available to create a digital economy with vertical industries beyond mobile broadband. Nokia will continue to leverage our unique 5G E2E capabilities and bring this vision into reality together with industry partners.”

NTT DOCOMO

Dr. Hiroshi Nakamura, Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, NTT DOCOMO said: “I’m very glad that the first release of 5G specifications has been completed. This completion is the starting point of sustainable 5G development and expansion of 5G global ecosystem by leveraging unified NSA and SA. NTT DOCOMO has been collaborating with many partners across various industries to co-create 5G services through activities such as ‘DOCOMO 5G Open Partner Program’ and ‘DOCOMO 5G Open Labs’. We believe that the completion of the specifications will accelerate open innovation that will bring about solutions to social issues and new style creation for richer future for all. NTT DOCOMO will continue the collaborative effort aiming to spark the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

OPPO

Levin Liu, VP of OPPO & Director of OPPO Research Center, said, “The completion of 5G Standalone (SA) specifications marks the milestone where 5G NR truly becomes a complete system and thus is able to take full advantage of its high speed, low latency features. OPPO is willing to cooperate closely with China Mobile and other operator partners to provide richer and unprecedented user experience to end-users globally by introducing 5G capable devices at the earliest time.”

Orange

Arnaud Vamparys, SVP Radio Networks in Orange, said: “Orange welcomes the successful development of this new 5G standard release. This ensures more flexibility and freedom for our future 5G roll-outs, enabling 5G autonomous deployment, depending on each country’s specific context and corresponding strategy.”

Panasonic

Yoshiyuki Miyabe, the Senior Managing Executive Officer and CTO, Panasonic, said: “Panasonic is pleased this set for the 5G NR standard has been completed. 5G can be used not only for enhancement of voice and visual communication but also for new services such as IoT and autonomous driving, which ultimately contribute to resolving social issues. We would like to contribute to achieving ‘A Better Life, A Better World’ using 5G.”

Qualcomm Technologies

“We are proud to have worked with our industry counterparts in 3GPP RAN as well as in 3GPP CT and SA to achieve this milestone of including standalone 5G NR operation as part of the 5G global standard,” said Cristiano Amon, President, Qualcomm. “In addition to our leadership in developing and contributing new ideas and directions to 3GPP, Qualcomm Technologies is putting tremendous effort into making NR commercial through our 3GPP 5G NR spec compliant prototypes and interoperability testing and with the development of 5G NR modem chipsets which support both NSA and SA operation. We will continue to work with the industry to drive the evolution of 5G technologies as well as the worldwide commercialization of both SA and NSA 5G networks and mobile devices.”

Rohde-Schwarz

Mr. Andreas Pauly, EVP of R&S and head of Test and Measurement division said: “This is an important step of 5G development. In the process of 5G industrialization, Standardization is the cornerstone while test provides assurance. As a leading wireless test vendor, R&S participated in all stages of 5G standard development, and cooperated with industry chain partners to complete all 5G trial test. With formal freeze on 5G NR SA standard, R&S intensifies close work with all partners in 5G new technology and various 5G application fields, provides innovative test solutions to meet 5G challenges, and contributes to the prosperity of future 5G industry.”

Samsung Electronics

Seunghwan Cho, Executive Vice President of Samsung Research, said: “We are very pleased to see the completion of the first release of 5G standard. Samsung has pioneered breakthrough technologies for 5G and has been actively collaborating with key partners to achieve this milestone. We will continue our efforts for the commercial success of 5G and deliver a new level of mobile experience to everyone’s life.”

Sharp

Yoshiro Nakano, BU President, Mobile Communication BU at Sharp said: “I’m delighted that 3GPP has completed their work on global 5G specifications today. Utilizing the 5G standards, SHARP will accelerate development of innovative technologies, such as “8K” (ultra-high-definition imaging) and “AIoT” (people-oriented IoT), aiming to contribute to people’s rich lives and a sustainable society.”

SK Telecom

“It is a significant step that enables new levels of mobile innovation with 5G technology by taking full advantage of new 5G NR and 5GC features. We are proud to be one of the key contributors of this important milestone,” said Jinhyo Park, EVP, Head of ICT R&D Division, SK Telecom, “Timely completion of the 5G NR SA standard will encourage operators to quickly move towards 5G commercialization. We truly look forward to taking the first step in the 5G commercialization and keeping the momentum with all 5G ecosystem players.”

SoftBank

Junichi Miyakawa, Representative Director & CTO of SoftBank, said: “SoftBank would like to express our gratitude to the leading companies for the timely completion of 5G standardization in 3GPP. In 2020s, everything will be connected to the internet, guiding us to greater revolution than ever. SoftBank has a huge expectation toward the upcoming 5G era, and is willing to lead the whole industry to accelerate the commercialization of 5G.”

Sony Mobile Communications

Hidehiko Teshirogi, Director, EVP, Sony Mobile Communications, said: “Sony has been part of the 5G NR and SA standardization and recognizes the progress in 3GPP to reach the completion of the SA 5G NR specifications. Sony Mobile is ready for full-scale development of 5G NR smartphones to take benefit of the opportunities offered by the new standard.”

Spirent Communications

“Delivery of the standalone 5G NR specifications is a milestone for the industry,” said Wright Nigel, EVP Global Sales, Spirent Communications, “As a test solution provider, Spirent will continue to work with the industry to reduce the complexity and cost of 5G testing, and accelerate innovation and time to revenue for new 5G-enabled services. Spirent will continue the close cooperation with our industry partners that will help to bring forward the implementation of 5G commercial deployment worldwide.”

StarPoint

“Congratulations to 3GPP for successfully completing Rel-15 5G SA standard”, said Professor Zhang Ping, founder of StarPoint, “This is a pivotal milestone of 5G commercialization, which will profoundly change the way we live for many years to come. As a world leading mobile testing solution provider, StarPoint is proud of having played a part of this process and will continue to work closely with our partners and the whole ecosystem to ensure that our 5G testing solutions always meet what the industry requires.”

Sumitomo Electric Industries

Toshiaki Kakii, Managing Executive Officer of Sumitomo Electric Industries, said: “As a global leading manufacturer of infocommunication devices and infocommunication/automotive network systems, we are pleased that the first release of the 5G NR specification has been completed and are proud to be a member of the 5G NR pioneers. Sumitomo Electric will continue developing advanced products to support the introduction of 5G NR commercial devices and networks.”

TIM

Enrico Bagnasco, Head of Technology Innovation of TIM, said: “The timely delivery of Rel 15 is another big step forward in the adoption of 5G to expand the footprint of the current mobile network into new market segments. We at TIM are particularly proud to have contributed with the 3GPP family for this achievement. The availability of a full set of NSA and SA standards will open several options for the deployment of the new technology, boosting a new generation of devices.”

Unisoc

Mr. Jingming Wang, Chief Operation Officer of Unisoc, said: “The 5G SA mode can decently reveal the technical advances of 5G. It will extensively fulfill the technical needs of intelligent transformation of global society in the coming 5G era. The prompt finalization of 3GPP R15 consolidates the standard foundation for the successful commercialization of 5G in year 2020, aiming at which the 1st generation 5G terminal chip from Unisoc is under developing with full power.”

Verizon

Ed Chan, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Architect of Verizon, said: “I applaud 3GPP’s completion of Release 15 including the Standalone NR System specifications. This milestone mirrors our active contributions and collaboration in industry standards and our continued leadership in 5G with our vendor partners, like the creation of  Verizon 5G Technical Forum with key industry players in 2015 to accelerate the pace of 5G innovation.  Earlier this month, Verizon marked two important industry firsts in 5G development: the successful completion of outdoor data sessions based on the 3GPP NR standard and the successful completion of multi-carrier aggregation, boosting the signals into the gigabit range.  The pair of successes, based on 3GPP’s NR standard and Verizon’s 28GHz millimeter wave spectrum, proved the exciting potential of 5G technologies. It demonstrated the transmission of multiple live interactive virtual reality (VR) sessions with a latency of 1.5 milliseconds and simultaneous 4K streaming video.  We are working with our industry partners in leading the 5G fixed wireless and enhanced mobile broadband deployments.  Verizon believes 3GPP’s standardization of 5G technologies will further help us build the future as we embark into a new era of services for our customers.”

VIAVI

Ian Langley, SVP and GM at VIAVI, said, “The completion of the first-phase full-featured 5G NR standardization work is an exciting news for the entire wireless communications industry. Since the 3G era, VIAVI test solutions have been dedicated to helping the industry accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation mobile and broadband services. VIAVI will accelerate the development of TM500 test instruments supporting the 5G SA and provide comprehensive support for the development and verification of 5G network infrastructure.”

Vivo

Yujian Shi, SVP and CTO of vivo, said: “To provide better user experience in 5G, we joined 3GPP and made lots of technical contributions on 5G SA&NSA. We appreciate the great efforts made by thousands of telecommunication experts to accelerate the 5G standards. Vivo are stepping up the 5G smart phone R&D and strive to release 5G SA smartphone in 2019.”

Vodafone

Luke Ibbetson, Head of Vodafone Group R&D said “This is another important step towards being able to realise the full potential of 5G as we look ahead to the next decade of mobile innovation. This adds further capability to the 5G family of technologies including 5G NR, LTE evolution and LPWA.”

Xiaomi

Mr. Wang Xiang, the senior VP of Xiaomi, said: “Xiaomi always adheres to the concept of “Let everyone in the world to enjoy the fun of science and technology.” With this concept in mind, we have been actively participating in the 5G standardization. 5G will provide a broader platform and market for industrial applications. By making full use of the advantages of its ecological system and 5G technology, Xiaomi will continue to make contributions to the development of 5G industrial applications.”

ZTE

Mr. Zhang Jianguo, Senior Vice President of ZTE, said: “The complete Phase-I 5G standard published on schedule has embodied collective wisdom and painstaking efforts of operators and industrial partners, and will definitely accelerate the global 5G industrial process. A more open, agile, and smart high-speed full-connectivity era is coming in the blink of an eye. The development of enterprises and industrial applications will benefit the whole society. ZTE will continue to work together with industrial partners to make a contribution to global digital development.”

 

T-Mobile and Nokia proclaim another step towards 5G

T-Mobile and Nokia have jointly announced another incremental step towards 5G Nirvana with a bi-directional over-the-air 5G data session.

The test, which took place in T-Mobile’s Bellevue lab in Washington, is claimed to be the nation’s first bi-directional over-the-air 5G data session on a 3GPP-compliant 5G New Radio (NR) system, with a user equipment simulator and Nokia’s 3GPP-compliant high-capacity 5G solution in the 28 GHz band.

“This test is a big step forward in building real 5G that will work on actual smartphones,” said Neville Ray, Chief Technology Officer at T-Mobile. “We’re excited to continue our work with Nokia to move the future of wireless forward and bring 5G to customers!”

“This successful 3GPP compliant over-the-air data transmission represents an important step for T-Mobile and the commercialization of 5G,” said Marc Rouanne, President of Mobile Networks, Nokia. “By building on the tests Nokia has previously conducted with T-Mobile, T-Mobile is well on its way to 5G commercial deployment.”

Looking at the technical side, the 5G data transmission was conducted with the Nokia AirScale baseband and radio, AirFrame server, and AirScale Cloud RAN running 5G NR 3GPP-compliant software, building on other work such as T-Mobile’s deployment of its first inter-vendor 5G test platform.

Although genuine 5G is still years away, the news will add another bit of credibility to the T-Mobile 5G mission as it readies for battle against AT&T and Verizon, both of whom have put forward ambitious plans alongside the magenta army to be the first to deliver 5G in the US.

That said, it means very little for the consumer until 5G compatible handsets start to hit the market.

DT whacks up some 5G antennas in Berlin

German operator Deutsche Telekom has continued its crusade to claim 5G firsts by implanting some commercial 5G antennas in the middle of Berlin.

The six antennas – three in Leipziger Straße and three in Winterfeldtstraße and collectively referred to as a ‘cluster’ – are said to be compatible with 5G NR, and ready to rock once all the other 5G pieces fall into place. Nonetheless DT is already claiming this as a first European 5G data connection over a live network.

“We’re continuing on our strong preparation course for the rollout of 5G in 2020,” said Claudia Nemat, DT Board member for Technology and Innovation. “Today, right in the heart of Berlin, we’re taking the next decisive step – with the successful integration of commercial 5G technology into our network. We want to ensure that 5G is going to deliver on its promise of enhanced mobility, high speed and low latency.”

“5G New Radio in Berlin is another major step towards 5G for all”, said Walter Goldenits, CTO at Telekom Deutschland. “This 5G cluster in Berlin will serve as the basis for our future commercial 5G rollout in Germany. The antennas are providing important test results. At the same time, they are real elements of what will be our future 5G network. We are preparing the ground so that our network will be ready when the first 5G-capable smartphones appear on the market.”

The transmissions are using the 3.7 GHz band under a testing license. Huawei is the equipment partner and this seems to be a big deal for DT because they’ve done a video about it and everything. For a deeper dive into this check out Iain Morris’s take on it at Light Reading here.

 

Ericsson reckons it’s ahead of the chasing pack when it comes to 5G gear

We spoke to Ericsson CTO Erik Ekudden to get a sense of the kit vendor’s technology and product priorities ahead of Mobile World Congress 2018.

Ericsson seems to have been in some form of crisis for years now, as the maturity of the 4G market led to a drop-off in networking gear spend, and its varied attempts to diversify away from this channel have yielded limited results. The last year has been characterised by multiple, wholesale changes to the senior management team, which included the promotion of Ericsson lifer Ekudden to the top tech job at the end of May last year.

So, after 24 years at the company, this will be Ekudden’s first MWC as Ericsson CTO. We probably say every year that this will be a critical MWC for Ericsson and, lacking the fixed infrastructure offerings of its competitors, we assume its entire strategy hinges on positioning itself to exploit the 5G era.

Unlike last year, however, Ekudden was keen to stress that, while 5G radio gear is, and always will be, a big deal for Ericsson, the current messaging is all about the big end-to-end infrastructure picture, which includes distributed cloud, general IT, IoT platforms, etc.

As has already been extensively explored, all the cleverness and new opportunities promised by 5G will be impossible to realise without an unprecedented level of cleverness behind the scenes. Such is the level of computation required to process everything and provide the network-level flexibility needed, that things like orchestration, artificial intelligence are as important as the latest whizzy radios.

But having said all that, Ekudden certainly didn’t want to downplay Ericsson’s 5G radio offering, which he considers to be a significant competitive differentiator. In fact he thinks his company will be ahead of the other big network vendors when it comes to speed and quality of 5G NR products to market. One of the reasons for this, we were told, is that Ericsson has been deploying radios that are software upgradable to 5G since 2015.

Ekudden also reckons we’re ahead of schedule when it comes to 5G roll out. Some early outliers have already taken place, but 2019 (rather than 2020) is expected to be the year the ramping starts to significantly gather momentum. In fact Ericsson’s market planning assumes the general decline in global networking spend will slow this year, bottom out next year and spending will start to pick up again from 2020.

These observations tally with Qualcomm’s expectation that the first 5G devices will appear at the beginning of next year (see if you can guess what everyone will be banging on about at CES and MWC 2019). These early devices will be used to showcase the super-duper wireless download speeds that, in the context of 5G, are referred to as enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB).

We asked Ekudden if he thinks that will be the main use-case for early 5G and he said he did, but alongside fixed wireless access (FWA). The business case for FWA will initially be restricted to niche, high ARPU markets, which is probably why the US seems to be ahead of the game in this area. But Ekudden reckons it will become much more commonplace in, say, suburban environments and in the long term could account for as much as 10% of the broadband infrastructure market.

Other than eMBB and FWA, and to complete the acronym set, Ekudden reckons the other area early manifestations of 5G is likely to impact is massive IoT. Apart from NB-IoT radio this will be as much due to the new infrastructure as anything else, with things like network slicing enabling a much more optimal environment for managing zillions of connected devices.

All this feeds into the general consensus that 5G will very much be an evolution (a long term one, you might say), rather than a revolution, and its business benefits will be piecemeal and hard to predict. Operators could do the radio bit first (NSA 5G NR), the IT infrastructure bit first, or all at once, depending on how much of a business case they detect.

Whichever they do Ericsson, of course, wants to be the company they turn to for all their 5G needs. But the days of vendor lock-in and over-bundled, end-to-end solutions are behind us so, to achieve this, Ericsson needs to demonstrate its superiority in every specific component of the mix. That seems to be Ekudden’s biggest challenge ahead if his first MWC as Ericsson CTO.

Huawei, DT and Intel claim first ever 5G NR interoperability test

It’s all kicking off in China at the moment, with Deutsche Telekom, Intel and Huawei teaming up to do what they claim is the first 5G NR interoperability test on a commercial base station.

No sooner does Qualcomm cozy up to a bunch of Chinese smartphone vendors than Intel moves to steal its thunder. A perennial straggler in the mobile industry Intel has long been telegraphing its intention to make up lost ground in the 5G era. With that in mind it couldn’t have found two stronger allies in Huawei and DT, so that feels like a step in the right direction. What the US government will have to say about it, however, is another matter.

Of course everyone involved used this test as an opportunity to display their 5G credentials. “After delivering leading contributions to the 3GPP’s work on 5G standards, Deutsche Telekom, Huawei and Intel moved swiftly to jointly verify implementation progress through standards-based interoperability testing,” said Arash Ashouriha, SVP of Technology Innovation at Deutsche Telekom. “The success of our test is a significant step on the path to 5G ecosystem maturity and early 5G commercialization.”

“The success of this testing shows that Huawei and all parties have devoted themselves deeply to the new NR standard,” said Yang Chaobin, President of Huawei’s 5G product line. “As the standard continues to be updated, Huawei will continue to work with all parties to step up interoperability test and promote the 5G industry maturity process, and to welcome the arrival of the entire industry digitisation.”

“Intel has been actively working with leading 5G companies to take advantage of Intel’s unique end-to-end 5G NR technology and to accelerate 5G  testing and commercialisation based on the latest 5G NR technology,” said Asha Keddy, GM of Next Generation Standards at Intel. “The Intel XMM 8000 modem family maturity and time to launch will significantly benefit from this early multi-vendor interoperability progress and the realisation of a global 5G NR industry ecosystem, with initial launches in mid-2019 and large-scale scaling in 2020.”

We might be seeing the start of some entrenched factionalism ahead of the first commercial green shots of 5G. Intel itself is likely to benefit from the number of companies and regulators Qualcomm has managed to alienate in recent months and Huawei was conspicuously absent from Qualcomm’s recent smartphone vendor announcement. We wouldn’t be surprised to see it go with Intel 5G modems, so long as they’re up to scratch.

Qualcomm unveils 5G NR mmWave smartphone prototype

Mobile chip maker Qualcomm has come up with a testing platform designed to enable 5G New Radio OTA trials within weeks.

As with all ‘pre-5G’ announcements, this one is qualified with ‘3GPP-based’ in case you think they’ve gone mad and decided to invent their own version of 5G. This 5G NR platform operates in spectrum bands above 24 GHz, which Qualcomm is referring to as millimetre wave despite that generally accepted as 30 GHz up.

This being Qualcomm the press release is littered with statements that amount to “this all just goes to show how great we are”. While it’s understood that this is the essence of most press releases, a bit of subtlety never hurt anyone. Among the generic self-promotion is the revelation that this system is designed to road-test 5G NR communication in a smartphone form-factor, dealing with challenges such as hand-blocking of the signal with technologies such as beam tracking/steering.

“We are delivering on the promise of developing 5G NR mmWave technologies to enhance mobile broadband services,” said Cristiano Amon, President of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies. “Our 5G NR mmWave prototype system is proving that sustained mobile broadband communications and smartphone form-factor devices are progressing for 2019 launches — another powerful testament to Qualcomm Technologies’ continued leadership in developing next generation wireless technologies that push the boundaries of what is possible.”

Qualcomm has decided to share some of this awesomeness with Nokia, joining forces to try to accelerate 5G NR interoperability testing. Qualcomm did a survey recently that concluded half of consumers want a 5G phone, which it’s using as evidence that we need to get a move on. The testing will see the above Qualcomm prototype play nice with the ‘Nokia 5G FIRST solution’ to show off the full range of NR cleverness.

“The appetite for 5G technology is clear, amongst both consumers and communications service providers,” said Marc Rouanne, president of mobile networks, Nokia. “We firmly share Qualcomm’s view that the demand for wide-scale mobile 5G is accelerating, and that is why we are so enthusiastic to work jointly with Qualcomm on developing and driving commercial technology and applications based on 5G NR using our 5G FIRST.”

Amon also commented on this but it was more of the same. The testing is going to kick off later this later this year and is expected to involve operators around the world next year in the build up to the big Release 15 announcement in the second half of 2018. Here’s the latest 3GPP timeline that sort of clarifies things, we suppose.

3GPP release 15 timeline