GSA forms working group for Fixed Wireless Access

The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has announced the launch of a working group to standardise the quickly developing fixed wireless access (FWA) segment.

While there are pockets of enthusiasm for FWA solutions growing throughout the world, success to date has been muted. Perhaps the introduction of a formal working group will add credibility and validity to the technology.

“As technology has improved, operators have been turning to mobile networks to deliver home and office broadband services, in some cases offering mobile-based services as an alternative to fixed-line broadband technologies,” said Joe Barrett, President of the GSA.

“The home/office broadband services on offer are no longer limited to mobile data subscriptions associated with mobile phones, dongles, or even MiFi devices. They now include use of mobile technology to provide the main broadband connection for a home or business in the form of a fixed wireless access services.

“In a relatively short space of time, fixed wireless broadband access has become a mainstream service offer and the formation of this new GSA Working Group is testament to the acceleration in industry activity in Fixed Wireless Access.”

Originally positioned as an alternative to traditional broadband networks and services, the sustainability of this technology has been widely questioned. There are of course niche usecases which will ensure it has a permanent fixture in the connectivity landscape, but a mainstream challenge to the status quo is almost impossible in the developed markets.

For the developed markets, usecases for rural communities, where the deployment of traditional broadband infrastructure is cost prohibitive, are attractive, as are products for customers who might not consider their current dwelling permanent in the long-run, students for example. In less developed markets, there is a very interesting usecase for FWA.

Last week, Vodacom announced the launch of 5G services in South Africa. This might be considered a mobile push by some, but when you come a partnership with Huawei with low penetration of traditional broadband infrastructure, it looks slight a play towards FWA.

As Omdia’s Dario Talmesio points out, 5G FWA offers high-capacity services which are quick to deploy, cutting out the need to dig up roads or deal with the bureaucratic nightmare which planning permission can be. The broadband market in South Africa is there to be disrupted with new technology, and Vodacom has got a running head start on its rivals.

South Africa is one market where this is relevant, but there are numerous others. Regions where ARPU is lower making ROI more difficult or bureaucracy is high making progress difficult. India is another market which comes to mind, as does Indonesia.

The GSA has currently identified 395 operators in 164 countries selling FWA services based on 4G, while an additional 30 have 5G FWA services. This is a technology which has potential to take-off in certain usecases, though this is not going to dislodge traditional broadband networks.

5G devices pass 100 mark – GSA

The number of devices now available to 5G enthusiasts has now passed the 100 milestone, demonstrating how quickly 5G is being thrust onto the world.

The hype surrounding 5G cannot be under-played currently. Not only do you have numerous telcos bragging about the speeds available directly below one of the very few 5G cell sites around the country, the devices manufacturers are starting to join the race.

According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association, GSA, as of August 1 there are 100 identifiable devices which are compatible with the 5G connectivity euphoria. In comparison to 4G, not only are 5G networks being deployed much quicker, the devices are much more readily available. For those who suggest consumer and enterprise adoption will be quicker as well, such reports from the GSA will add a lot of credibility.

Looking at the list, 26 smartphones have been identified, nine of which are now commercially available, while eight hotspots (three commercially available) have been clocked and 26 CPE devices (eight commercially available). The commercially available devices might be expensive for the moment, however when more hit the market we suspect a price war might start to emerge as well as more mid-range devices.

Outside of the devices mentioned above, 28 modules are ready, two snap-on dongles, two routers, two IOT routers, two drones, one laptop, one switch, one USB terminal and one robot. There certainly is a wide variety of products available for everyone and anyone looking to get their 5G fix.

What is worth noting is this is only the beginning. 100 devices before a scaled rollout might seem like a lot, but consider the IOT promise in the 5G world, there will soon enough be thousands of different devices for all the different, ridiculous and unimaginable use cases which will be presented.

The number of commercial 5G devices almost tripled in Q2 – GSA

The latest data from the Global mobile Suppliers Association show the number of 5G devices being launched worldwide is accelerating rapidly.

If you take at look at the GSA data from the end of March only 19 vendors had announced forthcoming 5G devices, with 33 models officially confirmed. These numbers have now significantly increased, with the latest data showing 39 vendors have now announced upcoming devices and the number of officially confirmed devices has now nearly tripled, standing around 90.

Looking in depth at the recent data also provided by GSA, 28% of the 90 officially confirmed devices are phones (the number standing at 25). On top of that GSA found 23 CPR devices, 23 modules, seven hotspots with assorted dongles, routers and drones comprising the chasing pack. The devices contained 5G chipsets from just four vendors – Qualcomm, Mediatek, Samsung and Huawei, with Intel no longer in the game.

As expected, smartphone vendors have jumped on 5G for various marketing campaigns. The most conspicuous of these is Samsung, which released  the Galaxy S10 5G first in Korea on earlier this year and then in the UK on June the 7th . The S10, due to its 5G compatibility, has a wider array of VR and AR functions than other 4G phones. This new way to experience VR and AR is critical as it will reach further out towards the younger generations who enjoy mobile gaming or more specifically games like Pokémon GO and the more recent Harry Potter: Wizards Unite that heavily rely on the use of AR.

This latest batch of data from the GSA indicates the device ecosystem is fully ramping up its 5G output. How much of this is purely speculative rather than responding to specific demand is still unclear, but we should get the first lots of 5G device sales data before long, which will clarify things.

European connected car arm wrestle swings in favour of 5G

The Byzantine European bureaucracy is trying to pick a winner between competing connected car technologies and inevitably it’s taking ages.

Back in March we reported on the GSMA’s hissy-fit after the European announced a preference for the wifi-based Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS) approach to wireless networking between cars and the rest of the world. The mobile industry understandably prefers 5G-based cellular vehicle to whatever (C-V2X) technology and thinks the EC is barking up the wrong tree.

One of the few advantages of having such a bloated, multi-layered approach to running things is that every decision made by Europe has to be approved by countless parliaments, councils, committees and cabals. After a few months it was the turn of yet another of these to mull the matter over and it announced its decision this morning.

The Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the European Union is so morbidly obese they had to split it in two and it was the duty of Coreper II to make a call on the ‘delegated act’, which is what the word of the EC gets packed up us for consumption by lesser bodies.

While there had been considerable lobbying in favour of C-V2X in the build up to the decision, it still came as a pleasant surprise to see Coreper II dare to stand up for the Commission and reject the wifi C-ITS plan. A consortium of mobile industry lobbying bodies – GSMA, GSA, ETNO and 5GAA had written at length last month about what a bad idea excluding cellular from the continent’s connected cars would be and they seem to have been rewarded.

“GSA, along with other leading mobile and automotive industry associations, believe the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems  (C-ITS) ecosystem should neither be limited by technology nor place Europe and mobile and automotive companies at a clear disadvantage to other regions of the world,” said Joe Barrett, President of GSA.

“The decision by EU Member States to reject the Delegated Act on C-ITS and request the European Commission to reconsider its scope is great news for technology neutrality and signals a positive future for connected intelligent transport systems in Europe.”

The European Commission does allow light dissent every now and then, to maintain the illusion of accountability and due process. Normal procedure when something like this happens is for the EC to make cosmetic tweaks and keep putting the matter back to the vote until it gets what it wants. On such a binary matter of whether or not to back wifi-based C-ITS, however, it’s hard to see how such a fudge will be possible, so maybe this will end up being a rare defeat for the unelected Commission.

5G has already yielded 12 phones and five chipset vendors – GSA

The Global (mobile) Suppliers Association has launched what it claims is the first global database of commercial 5G devices.

Here’s what they’ve spotted so far:

  • 12 phones (plus regional variants)
  • 5 chipset vendors (Huawei, Intel, Mediatek, Qualcomm and Samsung)
  • 4 hotspots (plus regional variants)
  • 8 CPE devices (indoor and outdoor)
  • 5 modules
  • 2 Snap-On dongles / adapters
  • 1 USB terminal

“Commercial services need commercial devices, so the momentum behind 5G devices represents an important benchmark for the worldwide roll-out of live 5G services,” said Joe Barrett, GSA President. “While early 4G devices were modems and dongles, with 5G we’re seeing smartphones lead the way with early commercial availability. This gives an early indication of where the industry is expecting to see the first 5G opportunities.”

This is the latest component of the GSA Analyser for Mobile Broadband Devices (GAMBoD) database, a tool designed to help industry stakeholders keep track of all this stuff. By pure coincidence, or maybe not, its launch comes on the same day at the publication of the latest 5G Market Reality Check from Hadden Telecoms.

The eponymous Alan Hadden was for some time the VP of Research at the GSA, before deciding to go it alone with a similar set of analytical services. His company’s latest publication lists the 211 operators around the world known to be investing in 5G, but earlier this month it too was alking devices, as you can see in the slide below.

“Operators globally are preparing for the large-scale introduction of 5G, the first services have launched, and the devices ecosystem is rapidly building and poised for the imminent scale availability of a range of smartphone models,” said Hadden. “Dozens more operators are expected to launch their respective 5G services in the coming 12 months.”

Hadden 5G devices