Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Ericsson: over half a billion 5G users in five years

A big question that must weigh on the minds of the directors at Ericsson is how soon 5G rollouts will begin. It has been a tough few years at Ericsson in particular, and for many other non-Chinese network equipment vendors in the mobile space as well. Many of the big mobile operators in the developed markets have already completed their 4G LTE network construction. Minor upgrades and fill-in projects continue, but for the most part the big spending campaigns have slowed to a trickle.  With mobile penetration rates exceeding 100% in many markets, the networks can only grow by poaching subscribers from local rivals. The good news is that traffic-per-user is surging and the networks gradually are filling up. On the horizon are many innovative apps that promise even heavier network loads, and when standards are fully-baked and new spectrum licenses secured, a healthy upgrade cycle to 5G should begin. In the meantime, there are LTE-A enhancements underway and Gigabit LTE deployments in progress. The big question for Ericsson is: when will 5G begin and how fast will the network upgrades occur?

The latest edition of the Ericsson Mobility Report has just been released. The company has updated this report on an annual or semi-annual basis for the past five years, providing its mobile operator customers and the market at-large with valuable predictions concerning technology and usage trends.

5G is perhaps the starring topic again in this edition of the Mobility Report, with the big finding that by 2022 Ericsson predicts there will be more than half a billion 5G subscriptions, with a population coverage of 15%.

This figure is bolder than what Ericsson has published before. For instance, in June 2014, Ericsson was still expecting a slower uptake for LTE to persist, particularly in Europe. In that forecast from 3 years ago, Ericsson predicted that by the end of 2019, LTE would make up around 50% of the subscriptions base in Western Europe. Of course, in 2014 not everyone had to carry a smartphone. In fact, only 65% of all phones sold in Q1 2014 were smartphones. The 3G network in Europe was well developed, so the Ericsson Mobility Report expected these trends to linger. The current report finds that GSM/EDGE still constitutes the largest category of mobile subscriptions, but that LTE will become the dominant mobile access technology in 2018, and will likely reach 5 billion subscriptions by the end of 2022, or more than seven times the GSM/EDGE-only subscriptions. This will be the final sunset for 3G.

In this year's report, Ericsson calculates that the total traffic in mobile networks increased by 70% between the end of Q1 2016 and the end of Q1 2017 - a huge leap! Incidentally, a big part of the gain is linked to Reliance Jio Infocomm launching its LTE network in India and offering free mobile data on a trial basis. Within six months of launch, Jio reached 100 million broadband and VoLTE customers, making it the fastest growing operator in the world for 2016. But traffic is surging for many other reasons as well.

5G New Radio specs will incentivise early rollouts

Earlier planning anticipated the 5G upgrade cycle to begin in the new decade, sometime after the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. At this year’s Mobile World Congress in February, major mobile network operators and vendors issued a call to accelerate the 5G New Radio (NR) standardisation schedule to enable large-scale trials and deployments as early as 2019, a year earlier than the previous expected timeline. In March 2017, 3GPP complied with this request by approving the acceleration of the 5G NR standardisation schedule to include an intermediate milestone for an early variant called Non-Standalone 5G NR.

Key findings

To follow are some interesting highlights on network evolution from Ericsson Mobility Report:

Ericsson anticipates that by the end of 2022 there will be 9 billion mobile subscriptions. Mobile broadband subscriptions will reach 8.3 billion, thereby accounting for more than 90% of all mobile subscriptions. The number of unique mobile subscribers is estimated to reach 6.2 billion by the end of 2022.

There are more than 1 million new mobile broadband subscribers every day.

LTE subscriptions reached a total of 2.1 billion in Q1 2017, up by 250 million new subscriptions during the quarter.

Operators are evolving their existing LTE networks to LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) networks with Category1, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 16 implementations, combining lower and higher frequency bands (both for FDD and TDD modes).

There are currently 591 commercial LTE networks deployed in 189 countries. Out of these, 194 have been upgraded to LTE-A networks.

Ericsson anticipates that the number of VoLTE subscriptions will reach 4.6 billion by the end of 2022, making up more than 90% of all LTE subscriptions globally.

The upgrade to LTE occurred significantly faster than the upgrade from 2G to 3G. In just 5 years, LTE was adopted by 2.5 billion users; it took eight years for 3G to reach this milestone.

Ericsson now expects some large-scale trials early commercial deployment of 5G in 2019 that will use the 5G NR specs.

The adoption rate of 5G mobile broadband is expected to be similar to that of LTE, with rollouts commencing in major metro areas.

Ericsson now expects North America to take a leading role in 5G rollouts as the major U.S. operators have each stated their intention to expand into pre-standard 5G. By 2022, Ericsson predicts that 25% of North American subscribers could be on 5G.

The first commercial use of 5G is expected to be for enhanced mobile broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA).

5G radio access lowers round trip latency to under 4 ms, as seen in a 5G test bed conducted by Scania and Ericsson in Sweden.

Attributes of 5G, including network slicing and low latency, will make safe public transport using autonomous vehicles a reality.

The full 2017 Ericsson Mobility Report can be downloaded here.

https://www.ericsson.com/en/mobility-report

NEC deploys 128 Technology in Japan

128 Technology of Burlington, Massachusetts, a provider of session-oriented routing solutions, announced that Japan's NEC Networks and System Integration (NESIC) has deployed the 128T Networking Platform (128T) to interconnect four sites in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka and Myanmar.

In addition to using the 128T platform for its own corporate requirements, NESIC will also offer 128T to its approximately 5,000 enterprise, telecommunication and government customers worldwide with the aim of improving the quality, security, and reliability of their WANs.

Headquartered in Tokyo with 62 offices worldwide, NESIC provides integrated ICT solutions and services, ranging from planning and consulting to system design and integration, construction and maintenance, operation, outsourcing and business process outsourcing.

The 128T solution is based on Secure Vector Routing (SVR) technology, which is claimed to offer a fundamentally new approach to networking that enables customers to build context-aware networks that can dynamically and securely extend across network boundaries without the need for complex tunnelling and overlay technologies.

128T can be implemented to address a range of routing applications from the branch office, across the WAN and within and between private and public clouds. The platform is software-based and can be deployed to either augment or replace existing network routing solutions. 128 Technology enables customers such as NESIC to both cost-effectively build and offer networks designed to provide greater agility, security and control between distributed locations.



  • Founded in 2014 and launched in 2016, 128 Technology announced in May 2017 that it had raised $21.5 million in Series C funding, bringing total funding to $57 million. Investors in the round included executive management and current employees of the company, individual investors, as well as G20 Ventures. 128 Technology stated that it would use the financing to expand its global presence and accelerate the expansion of the 128T Networking Platform

  • 128 Technology previously announced a seed funding round of $4 million in July 2014, a $12 million Series A round in December 2014 and a $20 million Series B funding round in December 2015.

Vodafone UK selects Ericsson technology for upgrade of 4G network in London

Ericsson announced that Vodafone UK has selected the company to evolve its 4G networks in London and southern England employing technologies including massive MIMO and carrier aggregation to help improve network capacity and end-user performance.

Ericsson noted that massive MIMO technology utilises advanced antenna arrays to improve the quality of radio signals and increase capacity, while carrier aggregation (CA) combines different cellular frequencies to increase capacity and data rates for end users.

Ericsson will also provide Vodafone UK with 5G radio technology as part of preparations for the introduction of 5G in London and the southern region of England.
The agreement between Vodafone UK and Ericsson encompasses technology trials, product validation and commercial deployment, as well as professional services. The two companies have also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering the following areas of collaboration:

1.         4G evolution, 5G radio non-standalone and standalone.

2.         5G site deployment scenarios.

3.         NR (new radio) simulations using the 3.5 GHz and mmWave bands.

4.         Development of 5G use-cases and proofs of concept for business services.

5.         Distributed cloud and network slicing proof of concept, including end-to-end latency and cloud-optimised network applications.

6.         Collaboration with King's College London.


7.         Implementing a 5G innovation technology incubation program.


ZTE and InfoVista certify interoperability of SD-WAN

ZTE and InfoVista, a major provider of network performance orchestration solutions, announced the completion of interoperability testing of their combined SD-WAN (software-defined WAN) solution based on integrating InfoVista's Application Performance Orchestration Solution, Ipanema, with ZTE's Micro Cloud Gateway (MCG) platform.

After successful verification testing, the combined SD-WAN solution provides a single box overlay networking solution for hybrid WAN connectivity that guarantees the performance of critical business applications while also supporting a secure overlay VPN, zero touch installation and one-button recovery. The joint product is designed to offer a cost effective solution for enterprises seeking to reduce IT networking costs.

In addition, Service providers can also utilise the new platform to deliver value-added SD-WAN services to enterprise customers as they implement hybrid WANs and seek to augment their enterprise networks.

The combined SD-WAN solution can replace a range of enterprise and communications equipment deployed in traditional WANs, enabling fast distribution, deployment, data backup, and disaster tolerance one-button recovery on a cloud-managed platform.

The joint solution provides enterprises with Application Performance Orchestration capabilities designed to protect and guarantee the end user experience for business-critical applications that form the basis for digital transformation strategies.


Recently, BT announced the launch of BT Connect Intelligence InfoVista-as-a-Service, a new application performance management solution delivered in the cloud that offers a scalable as-a-service pricing option for its applications performance management portfolio. The service provides InfoVista's Ipanema technology via the BT cloud and is designed to provide the capabilities organisations require to orchestrate the performance of business applications running across the network.

Earlier this year, InfoVista announced that BT business EE, the largest mobile network operator in the UK, had selected its Ipanema application-aware SD-WAN solution to protect the performance of in-store applications. EE was to deploy the Ipanema solution across all of its 553 stores via BT's managed service Connect Intelligence.


SFR and Huawei trial 4 x 4 MIMO enabling 628 Mbit/s

French telecom operator SFR and Huawei announced the completion of what is believed to be France's first pre-commercial field verification of 4 x 4 MIMO enabling a downlink throughput of 628.3 Mbit/s using a commercially available phone on SFR's 4.5G network.

Following the field verification, SFR plans to increase its investment in LTE technology as part of its objective of rolling out the fastest LTE network in France and provide customers an enhanced LTE experience.

Huawei noted that SFR began construction of its LTE network in 2012, and subsequently the increasing adoption of mobile video and real-time gaming services has led to mobile data traffic increasing at an average annual growth rate of up to 100% over the past two years. To address this rising demand, SFR launched a new unlimited data package in April this year and plans to focus investment on deploying a 4.5G network.

SFR is aiming to extend its 4.5G network coverage to 90% of its customers in France by the end of the year, and plans to increase this to 99% during 2018. Huawei noted that 4.5G technologies such as carrier aggregation (CA), MIMO and 256QAM can help increase network capacity, with MIMO, in particular enabling improved capacity and coverage, as well as an enhanced user experience, without the need for additional spectrum or base stations.

During the recent tests with SFR that involved a commercial phone operating on the live 4.5G network, the partners verified that the use of 4 x 4 MIMO, combined with 2 CC carrier aggregation and 256QAM modulation, can deliver throughput of up to 628.3 Mbit/s. Huawei noted that this data rate can allow mobile users to play HD video reliably and meet customer demand for smooth video viewing services.

Huawei stated that 4.5G Evolution technology enables operators to begin the introduction of 5G technologies into their existing 4G/LTE networks. This also allows operators to trial 5G-like services and develop new business models that 5G will be able to support in the future.


Regarding the trial, Michel Paulin, chairman and CEO of SFR Group, commented, "SFR's 4.5G network has achieved an average downlink throughput of 300 Mbit/s in over French 221 cities… and it (aims to) further increase the average downlink throughput to 500 Mbit/s by 2018… and will actively promote sophisticated 4 x 4 MIMO smartphones to offer users the best LTE experience".

Cisco and NetApp launch FlexPod SF

Cisco and NetApp have expanded their portfolio of integrated infrastructure and certified reference systems with a new FlexPod SF solution designed to address emerging business challenges by providing infrastructure for the data-intensive scale-out workloads key to digital transformation.

The new solution from Cisco and NetApp features NetApp's SolidFire all-flash, scale-out, cloud-connected storage and Cisco Unified Computing System (Cisco UCS) B-Series servers and Nexus switching. The new solution is designed to support enterprise and emerging architectures with storage capacity and performance tailored to address the needs of individual tenants in multi-tenant environments.

The companies noted that the joint solution extends the FlexPod technology portfolio that has been deployed by around 8,400 global customers and 1,100 partners in 100 countries.

The new FlexPod SF solution is designed to provide capabilities including:

1.         Predictable performance, offering the ability to run hundreds of applications on a single platform with guaranteed SLAs to independently set capacity and quality of service (QoS) at minimum, maximum or burst performance levels across the infrastructure.

2.         Programmable agility to help address business demands with SolidFire software-defined architecture, simplified management and scale by automating provisioning, management and reporting via programmable SolidFire storage and UCS B-Series servers.

3.         Scale-out performance to help customers align business expenses with growth by reducing initial capex, allowing customers to purchase the compute and storage required and to consolidate infrastructure and increase automation.

FlexPod offers a portfolio of pre-validated, converged infrastructure solutions that combine the Cisco UCS integrated infrastructure, Cisco networking and NetApp storage components. FlexPod is designed to simplify and modernise IT and deliver enhanced application performance, support for a range of cloud strategies and improved efficiency to accelerate data centre transformation.


The FlexPod family includes FlexPod Datacenter for core enterprise data centres and service providers, Express for medium-sized businesses and branch offices, and Select for data-intensive workloads. The portfolio is validated with major hypervisors, operating systems, systems management tools, and cloud management platforms.

Vodafone selects Kaltura OTT TV in Italy

Kaltura of New York, a provider of video delivery technology, announced that its Kaltura OTT TV technology has been deployed by global telco Vodafone for the launch of Vodafone TV in Italy.

Kaltura noted that Vodafone is already utilising the same TV set-top box in Spain. The set-top enables a cross-device TV experience over the Vodafone 4G network leveraging a new set-top-box featuring cloud DVR and an intuitive user interface.

The new Kaltura-based OTT TV service provides subscribers with access to a catalogue of content from a range of TV and OTT sources, which are available through live, VoD, catch-up, start over, cloud DVR and apps. In Italy, the services offers content libraries from services such as Netflix and Sky Italia Now TV, together with the traditional TV channels.

With the Kaltura TV platform, subscribers are able to access a personalised live and on-demand TV service, including with content discovery, cross-device interaction and watch lists. Kaltura's solution also allows Vodafone to introduce new price plan services and to expand its service via regular software updates.

The Kaltura OTT TV platform is designed for operators, broadcasters, media companies and content owners seeking to to launch advanced TV services quickly and cost-effectively.


Earlier this year, Kaltura announced a partnership with Nokia designed to facilitate the delivery of a more personalised viewing experience leveraging its TV Platform for OTT TV service and Nokia's IP video delivery and storage platforms. The two companies noted that, based on multiple live deployments for Tier-1 operators and media companies, they are able to offer a modular solution that integrates Nokia's Velocix products with Kaltura's TV Platform.


See also