Qualcomm announces ‘world first’ connection to a 5G modem chipset

Qualcomm has announced the world's first connection to a 5G mobile chipset in a demonstration conducted with Verizon.

The chipset used for the demonstration was Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X50 5G NR modem, which was featured in a reference design smartphone. Qualcomm expects the initial smartphones to be connected to 5G by their X50 modem during the first round of service launches anticipated for the first half of 2019.

Announced during Qualcomm’s annual 5G summit in Hong Kong, the company is teaming up with Verizon to deliver 5G connectivity before the expected mass rollout in 2020.

“Verizon has been working closely with Qualcomm Technologies and other technology leaders to accelerate a global 5G specification to help usher in the next generation of wireless innovation for customers,” said Ed Chan, senior VP at Verizon’s technology strategy and planning department.

“With the collaboration we’re announcing today, we are taking the next logical step towards extending our leadership position in the advancement of 5G,” Chan added.

The initial focus will be on 5G NR operation in the 28GHz and 39GHz mmWave spectrum bands. Multi-gigabit speeds are being targeted.

“Qualcomm Technologies is committed to delivering 5G NR mmWave technologies to meet the ever-increasing connectivity requirements for enhanced mobile broadband experiences,” comments Joe Glynn, VP of business development at Qualcomm.

Glynn continued: “We are excited to collaborate with Verizon in making 5G NR mmWave a commercial reality for mobile devices, including fixed wireless home routers, mobile hotspots, tablets and smartphones.”

Anywhere over a gigabit-per-second would be impressive and open up new opportunities. For perspective, a speed of 1.2Gbps could download a 60 minutes high-quality program on a service like BBC iPlayer in around four seconds.

Real-world trials will begin in 2018 and Telecoms will keep you updated with all developments as they occur.

What are your thoughts on Qualcomm’s partnership with Verizon? Let us know in the comments.

Android exposed by KRACK in WPA2 wifi security

The latest cyber security crisis concerns a vulnerability in the Wifi Protected Access II security protocol and seems to be especially problematic for Android devices.

In time-honoured fashion the first priority was to find a nice acronym for it, and little time was wasted in agreeing on KRACK as a sort of abbreviation of Key Reinstallation Attacks. We have the people who discovered the vulnerability to thank for that as well as the website krackattacks.com, which explains how it works in the video below, and also proposes an alternative definition for the word ‘nonce’.

There are some good top-tips in the Q&A section, where we’re told that changing your wifi password won’t help and that the target of the vulnerability is the device anyway, so the most important remedial step is for operating systems to be patched, rather than routers.

The Verge reports that Microsoft had already patched Windows a week ago, but kept quiet about it to let everyone else get their act together. Linux-based OSs such as Android appear to be most vulnerable, but it doesn’t look like Google is in any great hurry to address the matter, with even its own Pixel devices not expected to receive a patch until 6 November. Apple appears to be quicker off the mark, according to MacRumors.

Responsibility for this vulnerability presumably lies with the organizations in charge of the WPA2 standard. Cryptographer Matthew Green reckons the blame lies with the IEEE and at time of writing its website appeared to make not reference whatsoever to the matter and was instead focused on revenue generation. The Wi-Fi Alliance has managed to find a moment to address the crisis, but its announcement is largely defensive in tone and content.

This could just end up being one of those cyber security issues that gets quickly resolved and serves mainly to give security software companies something to issue one of their ‘this just goes to show that you should buy more security software’ press releases. Then again, especially since it doesn’t look like Android will be protected for a few weeks, this could yet snowball.

 

Huawei goes all-in on AI with Mate 10 smartphones

Having set the scene with the unveiling of its Neural Processing Unit a few weeks ago, Huawei has focused on the AI capabilities it apparently gives its new phones.

Those phones are the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, which we might previously have called phablets due to their 6-inch screen size. Huawei’s latest devices have all the bells and whistles you would expect from a flagship smartphone, but the Chinese giant seems to think it has found a rare point of differentiation with the chip.

The Kirin 970 SoC is Huawei’s own design with a fair bit of help from ARM, which provided the four Cortex A73 and four Cortex A53 CPU cores and the Mali-G72 MP12 GPU that go into every one. Unique to this chip, however is the NPU (neural network processing unit – so technically NNPU), which Huawei says enables the chip to provide 25x better performance and 50x greater energy efficiency for AI-related tasks, compared to one with just four Cortex-A73 cores.

A proper comparison would be between the Kirin 970 and an octacore SoC that also has four Cortex A53 cores. They are the low-power options in ARM’s bigLITTLE architecture, so the effect on energy efficiency is likely to be especially pronounced.

Anyway, Huawei chose not to make that comparison for reasons best known to them. The other elephant in the room is the question of why greater processing power and efficiency is something we need. Are AI-related tasks especially taxing on a chip? And surely most AI-related stuff on a phone, such as smart assistants, is processed in the cloud anyway.

“As we enter the age of intelligence, AI is no longer a virtual concept but something that intertwines with our daily life,” said Richard Yu, CEO, Huawei Consumer Business Group. “AI can enhance the user experience; provide valuable services and improve product performance. The Huawei Mate 10 Series introduces the first mobile AI-specific Neural Network Processing Unit, launching a new era of intelligent smartphones.”

The vanilla Mate 10 will cost €699 and the Pro, which seems to only be a minor upgrade, will cost €799 when they go on sale in a few weeks. If, for some reason, you feel like spending €1395 instead you can get one with Porsche written on it.

Huawei mate 10 porsche

Independent study: Humans vs. machines

How to stop your chatbot from lagging behind

Amdocs commissioned Forrester consulting to conduct a comprehensive global survey to assess how well service providers  are meeting customer expectations from virtual agents, i.e. chatbots.

Are CSPs investing in the right areas?

This survey, which polled thousands of consumers worldwide, as well as c-level executives from dozens of tier-1 service providers, uncovers that there is an enormous gap between the kind of service consumers expect from virtual agents versus the areas in which service providers are investing. 

Why Read this study?

Gain key insights and actionable recommendations on how to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to capture the chatbot opportunity, as well as:

  • What are the main attributes that bots need to help service providers win with customers;
  • What are the bot areas in which service providers should invest to deliver a ‘WOW’ experience vs. where they are primarily investing today;
  • What is the role of the bot vs. the live agent, and what is the optimal ‘division of labor’ between them.
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Qualcomm wants to ban iPhones in China

A report, subsequently confirmed by both companies, states that Qualcomm is seeking to ban the sale and manufacture of Apple’s smartphones in China.

The story was broken by Bloomberg, which said that Qualcomm had filed law suits at a Beijing intellectual property court, claiming patent infringement and seeking injunctive relief – i.e. a ban on commercial activity. A Qualcomm spokesperson offered a generic confirmation of the action while an Apple spokesperson gave a generic statement on how baseless it all is.

This is just the latest phase of a litigation arms race between the two companies. Apple doesn’t like how much money it has to pay Qualcomm for its chips and, as ever, the move to litigation is a consequence of negotiations between the two companies breaking down.

The dispute threatens to engulf the entire industry as the two protagonists seek allies and indirect ways of inflicting damage on each other. Qualcomm recently suffered another setback to its business model with Taiwan concluding it has been harming competition. It seems very unlikely that Apple will receive an injunction in China but a negative ruling in this case could significantly undermine its negotiating position.

Are you prepared for the revolution in consumer entertainment?

There’s a seismic shift taking place in entertainment – and its effect on digital service providers is profound. On-demand media consumption will change every facet of your service offering – and sooner than you think.

Leading service providers are already adopting new strategies to capitalize on the on-demand revolution. Download the new S&P analyst report: On-Demand – Video’s Present and Future.

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From Strowger’s Switch to NFV and 5G: Automating the Network

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece James Crawshaw, senior analyst with industry research firm Heavy Reading, presents his thoughts on the opportunities for automation in the telecom industry.

For me, the three key themes coming from this year’s SDN NFV World congress (9-13 October, The Hague) were automation, automation and automation. The basic concept of automation – the replacement of human activities with mechanized processes – is, of course, well established.

The telecom industry has been automating itself since Almon Strowger launched the first commercially successful electromechanical telephone exchange switch in 1892. However, competitive forces both within the telecom industry, driven by regulation, and from outside, driven by OTT, means telecom operators must continue to seek out new opportunities to automate their networks and operations.

There are no easy shortcuts to building an autonomous network. Many vendors would like their customers to believe that the path to full autonomy is simply a matter of installing their latest software. Reality is more complex, and few CSPs are likely to buy into the vendor fiction.

BSS and OSS automation has been a long-running quagmire for telecom operators. Many have spent the last decades wrestling with ways to integrate multiple B/OSS systems inherited through acquisitions or new technology rollouts (e.g. 2G, 3G, 4G mobile). Unfortunately, many of the big-bang style transformation programs have gone massively over budget, taken far longer to complete than initially planned and ultimately delivered less impressive results than hoped for. Nonetheless, investments in OSS/BSS automation are worthwhile as not only can they reduce the operating costs directly related to existing OSS/BSS activities (representing around 15% of a telco’s total operating expense), they can indirectly help to reduce the operating costs associated with the network itself (around 30% of total opex).

The move to the cloud is the key enabler of next-gen network automation. In traditional networks services are tied to the infrastructure – specialized hardware appliances. In the cloud model, services can be deployed via virtualized network functions, and easily changed without having to reconfigure the underlying hardware. This requires automation within the cloud platform itself as carried out by orchestration systems.

As service providers move toward virtualized networks, the entire network must operate as a closed-loop control system where the feedback mechanism is service performance. Automating service quality management and assurance starts to be a real requirement supported by a common data analytics, policy and machine intelligence layer.

Indeed, machine learning has a role to play in automating network management. Creation of Python scripts for automating network operations is now handled by human engineers; automating the script creation process through machine learning has the potential to cut development time significantly.

Some operators are already starting to reap the benefits of new automation initiatives. AT&T reports that its ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) platform (open sourced to the ONAP project within the Linux Foundation) has shown that service deployment time can shrink from weeks to minutes using an automated platform. Efficiency gains of orders of magnitude – with corresponding cost reductions – should be more than enough to convince other CSPs that the ultimate payoff for automation will be well worth the protracted initial pain of development.

But rather than focus on virtualization and automation as solely a cost and efficiency strategy, operators need to understand that automated networks are an essential requirement to service the growing automation (software, robotics, drones, IoT, etc.) of their industrial, enterprise, healthcare and government customers.

5G presents a compelling opportunity for mobile operators to increase automation. Although always disruptive, and often expensive, a shift in mobile network generations always brings an opportunity to improve operational efficiencies. Unlike previous, technology-led mobile generations, 5G is being defined as a services-led solution. As such, 5G is likely to become an integral part of mobile operators’ automation strategies.

 

James CrawshawJames leads Heavy Reading’s CSP IT & Automation research service. He examines the breadth of systems and software used by communications service providers in customer, business, service and infrastructure management. James’s areas of focus include BSS (CRM, monetization, order management), OSS (orchestration, intent-based policy, closed-loop service assurance) as well as horizontal applications such as robotic process automation and artificial intelligence. He is particularly interested in the operational challenges posed by SDN and NFV and how operators can boost their agility by adopting new IT practices and systems while running existing IT infrastructure more cost-effectively.

James will be presenting at Light Reading’s “OSS in the Era of SDN and NFV” event, now in its fourth year, which will take place in London on the 1st November. The following day he will be hosting a half day workshop, also in London, on “Automation & the New Carrier Network”.

FDD Massive MIMO Leading 4G Innovation

With the development of technology, a lot of services can be applied in smart phones, which brings us more colorful life. Especially, several 5G original services such as eMBB, which would require huge network capacity. High quality video (big video) will be realized soon, the exploration of mobile broadband access capacity significantly stimulates the demand for mobile Internet and boosts the growth in mobile data services, which in turn increases the demand for mobile network capacity.

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Huawei NE9000 Router has been Deployed Successfully in HKBN’s Backbone Network to Support HKBN’s High Growth Strategy

[Hong Kong, China, Oct 11, 2017] Huawei announced today that its NE9000 (NetEngine 9000) core router has been deployed by Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited (“HKBN”), to support HKBN’s rapidly growing residential telecom business. With a capacity estimated at 6 times that of HKBN’s previous network equipment, NE9000 promises to meet HKBN’s business development needs for the next 5 to 10 years. Huawei will help HKBN to deliver reliable ultra-high speed network connectivity for its customers in the face of a soaring demand for 4K OTT entertainment, online gaming or Internet of Things applications.

HKBN is the world’s first telecom operator to use Huawei NE9000. The core router posts leading-edge performance in equipment capacity, expandability and energy efficiency. It comes with 4Tbps line card capabilities, 80Tbps per chassis which greatly improves the equipment capacity on the live network, and is capable of supporting 8Tbps line card in the future. In line with more eco-friendly performance, the NE9000 delivers high energy efficiency at only 0.4W/G, representing an energy consumption reduction by two-third. It also effectively cuts down the forwarding costs, allowing HKBN to continue to provide Internet service at very competitive prices. After an initial series of rigorous testing, NE9000 is currently used to deploy services for HKBN’s residential business.

Gary McLaren, HKBN CTO and Co-Owner said, “As a leading innovator in Hong Kong’s telecom industry, HKBN is not only fulfilling customer needs today, but is also ready for the future. There’s no doubt that as 4K entertainment, Internet of Things and 5G networks and more continue to evolve, HKBN is at the forefront to lead the Hong Kong’s fiber broadband market and bring customers the best-in-class connectivity experience. We are pleased with the overall performance of NE9000, and we find Huawei’s program delivery, operation, maintenance and support services very comprehensive and competitive. ”

Jeffrey Gao, President of Huawei’s Router & Carrier Ethernet Product Line said, “The Huawei NE9000 is the industry’s largest core router platform which accelerates the innovation for high-end router technologies and network architecture. The Huawei NE9000 platform offers the operator a powerful forwarding capacity, high reliability and multi-service integrated bearer with low power consumption,” He said, “Huawei is delighted to work with HKBN to deliver exceptional video and data services to HKBN’s customers through its intelligent and efficient router network.”

To promote the development of the UBB industry and explore ways to boost service growth, Ultra-Broadband Forum (UBBF) 2017, is to be held from October 18 to October 19, 2017 in Hangzhou, China.  This UBBF will focus on the topics of “New Growth with B2B”, “Deliver the Video Dividends”, “Accelerate Gigaband Society”, and “Towards 5G Era” and on the innovation of All-Cloud Network solutions. For more information, please visit:

http://www.huawei.com/en/events/ubbf2017

 

About Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited

Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited is a subsidiary of HKBN Group (“HKBN” or “The Group”). HKBN Group is Hong Kong’s largest provider of residential high speed fibre broadband (symmetrical 100Mbps to 1,000Mbps) services by number of subscriptions, and a fast growing enterprise solutions provider. The Group offers a full range of telecommunications solutions for both the residential and enterprise markets, encompassing broadband and Wi-Fi network services, cloud solutions, data connectivity, data facilities, system integration, mobile services, entertainment and voice communications. HKBN owns an extensive fibre network in Hong Kong, which covers over 2.2 million residential homes passed, representing approximately 81% of Hong Kong’s total residential units, and more than 2,300 commercial buildings. HKBN embraces “Make our Hong Kong a Better Place to Live” as its core purpose, and takes great pride in developing its Talents into a competitive advantage. The Group is managed by around 340 Co-Owners who have invested their own savings to buy HKBN shares, representing the majority of supervisory and management level Talents in the Group. HKBN Group is part of HKBN Ltd. (SEHK Stock Code: 1310).

About Huawei

Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. Our aim is to enrich life and improve efficiency through a better connected world, acting as a responsible corporate citizen, innovative enabler for the information society, and collaborative contributor to the industry. Driven by customer-centric innovation and open partnerships, Huawei has established an end-to-end ICT solutions portfolio that gives customers competitive advantages in telecom and enterprise networks, devices and cloud computing. Huawei’s 180,000 employees worldwide are committed to creating maximum value for telecom operators, enterprises and consumers. Our innovative ICT solutions, products and services are used in more than 170 countries and regions, serving over one-third of the world’s population. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees.

For more information, please visit Huawei online at www.huawei.com or follow us on:

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