Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Big shifts in the U.S. mobile market – Part 2


After years of rather stagnant market positioning and look-a-like services, suddenly a lot is happening in the U.S. mobile market. In the first part of this article, the move to unlimited mobile data plans and the new regulatory climate in Washington were covered. Part 2 will look at other key factors affecting the market.

The rapidly evolving spectrum map

The next big force that looks set to disrupt the U.S. market is the rapidly evolving spectrum map. A scramble is underway to lock down spectrum for 5G, with unlicensed spectrum coming into play. There is also the possibility of wildcard players entering the market, notably Comcast, which has already signalled its imminent launch of a nationwide mobile service using Verizon's network. This move could help revitalise its triple play bundles, now that home phone service no longer seems like a worthy leg to the three-part bundle. In fact, in Q1 Comcast reported a drop of 27,000 residential voice customers, although the number of business voice customers rose by 5,000 during the first quarter. Rather than launch an all-out attack on the big four mobile operators, Comcast is likely to pick up a smaller number of its existing cable customers who may not be heavy mobile users but are tired of separate bills for their communications services.

Broadcast Incentive auction spectrum

The FCC's 600 MHz broadcast incentive auction, which concluded in April, attracted bids totalling $19.8 billion (gross revenue) for 70 MHz of spectrum for nationwide mobile use. The FCC scored a major success with the undertaking, noting that the exercise ended among the highest grossing auctions ever conducted. More than $10 billion of the total sum will go to 175 broadcasters whose previously licensed spectrum was selected for the incentive auction; remaining funds go to the U.S. Treasury.

A total of 50 bidders won 70 MHz of licensed spectrum nationwide, including a total of 14 MHz of spectrum available for unlicensed use and wireless microphones. On a nationwide basis, 70 MHz is the most mobile broadband ever auctioned below 1 GHz by the FCC. Among the largest winners were T-Mobile, Dish, Comcast and US Cellular.

T-Mobile proclaims itself the winner

As the auction closed, T-Mobile US immediately declared itself the winner having secured 45% of all low-band spectrum sold, covering 100% of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, 'enabling the Un-carrier to compete in every corner of the country'. The acquired $7.9 billion in spectrum licenses represents 31 MHz nationwide, on average, and quadruples T-Mobile’s low-band holdings. It also represents the largest investment to date for T-Mobile US. T-Mobile's colourful CEO John Legere put it this way: 'T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country, that is a BFD for our customers!'.

The company anticipates that some of this 600 MHz spectrum will be clear and ready for activation this year. Ericsson and Nokia have announced 600 MHz infrastructure platforms and Qualcomm is expected to begin delivering chipsets supporting 600 MHz this year. T-Mobile already claims a performance advantage for its LTE network over AT&T and Verizon, and if all goes to plan T-Mobile feels that it will be in the position to bump up its performance to even higher levels.

For their part, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon separately stated that they did not need to bid for the 600 MHz licenses because they each have significant low-band spectrum already. While these band offer superior in-building penetration, AT&T and Verizon are racing for millimetre wave spectrum in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands for carrying 5G services. Sprint, on the other hand, has been the king of the 2.5 GHz spectrum since the days of the Clearwire WiMAX venture. These bands are not tied in via carrier aggregation for its LTE network.

Dish Network

Dish Network was the second biggest buyer at the 600 MHz auction with a commitment of $6.2 billion for nationwide licenses in urban areas. Earlier this year, working an FCC deployment deadline for 700 MHz licenses acquired in 2008, Dish unveiled plans to launch a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network. In FCC filings, Dish has said it intends to operate a 5G network geared toward IoT services rather than building a 4G/LTE network that would duplicate those of the wireless incumbents. Dish also holds AWS-3 spectrum and AWS-4 spectrum acquired for $2.8 billion from two bankrupt satellite companies (DBSD and TerreStar). Because an NB-IoT tower can cover over ten times the geographic area compared to the coverage of a typical LTE tower, Dish believes it will be able to scale up a powerful IoT network very quickly. In Q4 2016, Dish circulated a Request for Information (RFI) to over a dozen vendors for the construction of this NB-IoT network. Once technology and product selections have been made, Dish expects to roll out the full network by March 2020.


Comcast was another big buyer in the FCC broadcast incentive auction, spending $1.7 billion for spectrum licenses mostly in its current wireline footprint. Some of this cost was recaptured in the reverse auction, where NBC (Comcast's subsidiary) sold spectrum licenses in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York valued at $482 million. Unlike the T-Mobile licenses, may of those acquired by Comcast are currently in use and the process to clear these bands may take a number of years. For its forthcoming mobile launch, Comcast will operate as an MVNO on Verizon's infrastructure, although metro backhaul and the long-haul backbone conceivably could run over Comcast's network.  Following the auction, Comcast stated: 'Comcast made a strategically compelling investment at historically low prices… it has no current plans for the acquired spectrum and the spectrum will not be cleared by the FCC and available for use for several years... the launch and growth of the Xfinity Mobile product is not dependent on this purchased spectrum'.

While the company has stated that it has no immediate plans for the newly licensed 600 MHz spectrum, it would not have purchased it if mobile were not a big part of its future. This point is worth noting, as Comcast is known to be seriously interested in mobile. Verizon will be searching for media partners beyond AOL and Yahoo to provide exclusive, top-tier video content to compete with a revitalised AT&T + Time Warner, plus there could also bee a more hand-off approach at the FCC. So the time could be ripe for a deal.

Bidding begins for millimetre-wave spectrum

Several other twists and turns in U.S. spectrum also happened in the first part of the year. On April 10th, AT&T agreed to acquire Straight Path Communications, which holds a nationwide portfolio of millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum, including 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses. Specifically, AT&T agreed to buy 735 mmWave licenses in the 39 GHz band and 133 licenses in the 28 GHz band. These licenses cover the entire U.S., including the top 40 markets. The deal was valued at $1.6 billion, which includes liabilities and amounts to be remitted to the FCC per the terms of Straight Path's January 2017 consent decree. The bid for Straight Path was actually AT&T's second move to buy spectrum this year. Although AT&T did not participate in the 600 MHz broadcast Incentive auction, in late January it announced plans to acquire FiberTower, a privately-held company based in San Francisco that holds an extensive spectrum footprint in 24 GHz and 39 GHz bands. Financial terms of this deal were not disclosed. AT&T touted both deals as major enhancements to its IoT ambitions.

However, on April 25th Straight Path Communications issued a press release stating that it has received a superior offer from a multi-national telecommunications company, which the market takes to be Verizon Communications. This offer is valued at $104.64 per share (reflecting an enterprise value of $1.8 billion). It remains to be seen if AT&T will increase its bid or settle for a $38 million break-up fee should Straight Path ultimately choose the second suitor.

(A subsequent article will look at two other mega-trends that started to impact the U.S. mobile industry in the first part of this year: the FirstNet emergency network, which is finally getting underway, and the early 5G rollouts that are just over the horizon.)

Comcast and Charter to explore national wireless market cooperation

Regional cable operators Comcast and Charter have announced an agreement to explore potential opportunities for operational cooperation in their respective wireless businesses to help accelerate and enhance each company's ability to address the national wireless marketplace.

Under the agreement, the companies, which have each separately established mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) reseller agreements with Verizon Wireless, will explore cooperation in a number of potential operational areas in the wireless space, including: creating common operating platforms; technical standards development and harmonisation; device forward and reverse logistics; and emerging wireless technology platforms.

The efficiencies created are intended to help deliver greater choice, new products and competitive prices for customers across their respective service footprints. In addition, Comcast and Charter have agreed to work only with each other with respect to national mobile network operators through potential commercial arrangements, including MVNOs and other transactions in the wireless industry, for a period of one year.

Regarding the agreement, Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast, said, "(Comcast) is launching Xfinity Mobile in the coming weeks and… (will) work with Charter to explore ways it can make the respective wireless initiatives more efficient and cost effective… both companies have regional wireless businesses using the same 4G LTE network, and by working together the goal is to create better experiences for our customers".

* Comcast recently reported that as part of the FCC's Broadcast Incentive Auction, in the reverse auction its broadcasting operation NBC sold spectrum in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago for total proceeds of $481.6 million, while it purchased for $1.7 billion spectrum covering 88% of its service footprint and most of the footprint of its top 25 markets.

* Comcast serves nearly 29 million residential and business customers including over 23 million residential Internet and 10.5 million residential voice subscribers. Charter is the second largest U.S. cable operator, serving nearly 22 million residential broadband Internet customers and nearly 10.5 million residential voice customers.

Verizon selects Prysmian to supply optical cable under $300m 3-year agreement

Italy-based Prysmian Group, a major supplier of cable systems to the energy and telecom industries, announced has been awarded a supply agreement by Verizon Communications to support its U.S. network expansion.

The three-year contract is valued at approximately $300 million and will include the supply of more than 17 million fibre km (10.6 million miles) of ribbon and loose tube cables. To support this contract, as well as demand from other carriers, Prysmian plans to make a significant investment through 2018 in its U.S.-based optical cable operation. Prysmian's telecom division has been qualified as a provider of fibre, optical cable and connectivity solutions to Verizon for over a decade.

Prysmian noted that Verizon is expanding its infrastructure based on a next-generation fibre platform designed to support the deployment of 5G services, as well as enhance 4G LTE and other broadband capacity.

Prysmian added that Verizon believes demand for next-generation PON (NGPON2) technology will extend well beyond 2020 as new technologies such as 5G and the IoT experience increasing adoption.

Prysmian has an established manufacturing base in the U.S. for optical fibre and cable for a range of applications, with three telecom production sites, including two for the production of optical cable and one for optical fibre.

  • In April, Verizon announced a three-year minimum purchase agreement with Corning for the provision of fibre optic cable and associated hardware equipment to ensure coverage and capacity for its nationwide wireless broadband network. Under the agreement, Verizon is to purchase from Corning up to 20 million km (12.4 million miles) of optical fibre in each of the three years from 2018 to 2020, with a minimum purchase commitment of $1.05 billion.

CenturyLink Completes Sale of 57 Data Centers

CenturyLink completed its previously announced sale of its data centers and colocation business on May 1 to funds advised by BC Partners, in a consortium including Medina Capital Advisors and Longview Asset Management. The deal was valued at $1.86 billion. Cyxtera assumes ownership of CenturyLink's portfolio of 57 data centers which includes approximately 195 megawatts of power across 2.6 million square feet of raised floor capacity. Approximately 700 CenturyLink employees will transition to Cyxtera.

"This sale allows CenturyLink to drive greater focus on our network infrastructure while still having the ability to sell colocation services in these data centers," said Glen F. Post III, chief executive officer and president of CenturyLink. "CenturyLink provides reliable and secure network solutions that are critical to the success of businesses which increasingly rely on digital connections to help ensure the growth and success of their operations. Additionally, our hosting and cloud services, combined with our robust IT services and solutions, offer customers an impressive suite of complementary services."


Monthly update on the Indian telecommunications market - Part 4

Full article: Part 1Part 2 , Part 3Part 4

Preamble - note on RJIO coverage, update on BharatNet and the DTH market

It will be noted that while in Parts 2 and 3 a fair amount of detail was provided on the complex, wholesale restructuring of the Indian mobile communications market for three out of the four main groups - Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and RCOM - RJIO was covered somewhat peripherally in terms of its actual and potential relationship to RCOM, and there are several reasons for that. Firstly, RJIO is not being restructured, secondly its structure and situation and offer so far are all dramatic but not that complicated, thirdly, the company has been covered in detail from its first moves in 2010 and more specifically over the last 18 months, both in quasi-monthly updates on the market and in at least one dedicated series. In addition, it should be noted that however glorious its future may eventually turn out to be, the current situation is that RJIO is still very much a work in progress with as yet almost no revenue, no meaningful customer service history and no base of committed customers.

While India's mobile market is by far the largest part of its communications systems and OND normally focuses on this currently turbulent sector, the country looks poised for real economic lift-off, and could manage to double its wealth each decade, so that many of its smaller markets will start to be of greater interest.

BharatNet - India's National Optical Fibre Network

This project, launched by the Indian government in October 2011 at a proposed cost of INR 20,000 crore, as the National Optical Fibre Network, to link 250,000 small and medium-sized villages (gram panchayats) to a national fibre backbone and thus bring India's still huge unconnected rural population into one national digital internet community via fixed broadband rates of under INR 150 per month, has constantly missed connectivity targets set for it. This is largely due to difficulties of obtaining rights of way to lay the fibre. As of late February 2015, only 5,000 villages had been connected. In early April 2015, when 20,000 villages were reported to have been connected, the project, expected to cost INR 72,000 crore, was re-launched under the name BharatNet, with a target of completing the 250,000 connections by the end of 2016.

At the end of May 2015 at a meeting in New Delhi of representatives of the majority of Indian states, chaired by Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, it was revealed that several states, namely Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha. Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, all said to be dissatisfied with the rate of progress of implementation of the network (nominally being carried out under the management of SPV Bharat Broadband Network Limited and executed by CPSUs BSNL, RailTel and Powergrid) were considering, had proposed or were already engaged in implementing independent state versions of the network.

Specifically, in mid-January 2015 India's Economic Times had reported that the state government of Andhra Pradesh (with a population of over 53 million, or 4.0% of the national total) planned to provide broadband connections with speeds of up to 15 Mbit/s to 12 million households for a monthly fee of INR150 in the first stage of a local INR 50 billion optical fibre deployment project, and had requested India's federal government hand over its share of funds from the NOFN. Also, in mid-October 2016 the first minister of the State of Maharashtra (population - 121 million, or 9.29% of the national total) Defendra Fadnavis, was quoted by numerous sources as saying that the Maharashtra government was investing around INR 5,000 crore in the Digital Maharashtra project, which in the first phase would digitally connect 29,000 gram panchayats across the state under a program called MahaNet, described as part of BharatNet and designed to ensure education, healthcare, better access to government services and markets.

Similarly, in mid September 2015 NDTV reported that the government of the state of Tamil Nadu (population 78 million, or about 6.0% of the national total) would, using an ISP license obtained from India's Ministry of Communications and an investment of about $452 million, provide Internet services including IPTV via the state-owned CATV operator Tamil Nadu Arasu Cable TV Corporation and implement BharatNet linking over 12,500 local rural bodies in the state. TACTV has signed a pact with RailTel to provide high speed broadband services and 552 local cable operators have been selected for this operation so far. The broadband will be provided by a newly formed company, the Tamil Nadu Fibernet Corporation, which may later offer VoD services as well.

Meanwhile, on February 1, 2017 Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the government would allocate INR 10,000 crore ($1.6 billion) to expand the BharatNet project in fiscal 2018. Jaitley added that high-speed broadband over fibre would be available in over 1.5 lakh gram panchayats with hotspots and access to digital services at low tariffs by the end of 2017-18.

Commercial DTH market with 62.65m active subscribers

Since its introduction in 2003, Indian DTH service has displayed a phenomenal growth. DTH has attained a registered pay subscriber base of around 97.05 million (including 62.65 million active subscribers). As on December 2016 there were 6 pay DTH service providers, aside from viewership of the free DTH services of state-owned Doordarshan.

These six private DTH firms are Dish TV, Reliance BIG TV, Tata Sky, Videocon d2h, Sun Direct TV and Bharti Telemedia. State broadcaster Doordarshan also runs a DTH platform for free-to-air channels called DD Free Dish, which some sources claim has around 20-22 million users. Of the pay TV vendors, Dish TV is the market leader with a 25% share, followed by Tata Sky with a 23%, according to data for September 2016 from TRAI. Videocon d2h and Bharti Telemedia have 20% market share each.

In November 2016 Zee Entertainment Enterprises-owned DTH platform Dish TV and the DTH arm of Videocon Industries announced plans to merge into a new 55/45% entity to be renamed as Dish TV Videocon, which based on the most recent TRAI data above would have a 45% market share and serve 27.6 million customers within an overall market of 175 million TV households. Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has asked TRAI to assess whether this merger will violate any anti-trust laws.

Although the DTH market in India continued to grow during 2026 there is evidence that it is coming under pressure at the top end from OTT services from companies such as Amazon and Netflix, and at the bottom end from Doordarshan, which is believed to have gained customers recently partly due to the impact of India's demonetisation drive on rural populations.

Full article: Part 1Part 2 , Part 3Part 4

Seaborn selects Spread Networks as exclusive sales partner

Seaborn Networks, an independent developer-owner-operator of submarine optical cable systems, announced that Spread Networks is to act as its exclusive channel partner for sales to the financial vertical on Seabras-1, which links New Jersey with Sao Paulo in Brazil.

The agreement covers sales of SeaSpeed, Seaborn's proprietary ultra-low latency (ULL) solution that is claimed to provide the lowest latency connectivity between Carteret, New Jersey and the BM&F Bovespa Stock Exchange in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Seabras-1, which is scheduled to be ready-for-service in June 2017, is the only direct point to point submarine cable system between metro New York and metro Sao Paulo. Circuits are due to be activated on Seabras-1 for the financial sector in July of this year. The Seaborn Networks cable has been in development for over five years, involving a total project cost of over $520 million.

Seaborn is also engaged in building the ARBR cable system between São Paulo and Buenos Aires, which is expected to be ready-for-service in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Spread Networks is a privately-owned telecommunications provider that has built a fibre network that takes the shortest, most direct route from New York to Chicago to enable low latency together with diversity and reliability. Spread Networks provides secure, low latency fibre-based connectivity between New York and Chicago for carriers, the financial sector, government organisations and the research and education sector.

  • Seaborn announced in April an agreement with Grupo Werthein, an Argentine investment holding company with significant holdings in the telecoms sector, for the construction of a new subsea optical cable system, ARBR, between Argentina and Brazil. The ARBR cable system will also provide onward connectivity via Seabras-1. At that time, Seaborn stated that combined the ARBR and Seabras-1 cables represent a total investment of more than $575 million.

Flex Logix, developer of embedded FPGA technology, raises $5m

Flex Logix Technologies, headquartered in Mountain View, California, a supplier of embedded FPGA IP and software:

a.         Founded in March 2014 to develop solutions for reconfigurable RTL in chip and system designs employing embedded FPGA IP cores and software.

b.         Offering the EFLX technology platform designed to significantly reduce design and manufacturing risks, accelerate technology development and provide greater flexibility for customers' hardware.

c.         Which in October 2015 announced it had raised $7.4 million in a financing round was led by dedicated hardware fund Eclipse Ventures (formerly the Formation 8 hardware fund), with participation from founding investors Lux Capital and the Tate Family Trust.

Announced it has secured $5 million in Series B equity financing in a round led by existing investors Lux Capital and Eclipse Ventures, with participation from the Tate Family Trust.

Flex Logix stated that new funding will be used to expand its sales, applications and engineering teams to meet the growing customer demand for its embedded FPGA platform in applications including networking, government, data centres and deep learning.

Targeting chips in multiple markets, the Flex Logix EFLX platform can be used with networking chips with reconfigurable protocols, data centre chips with reconfigurable accelerators, deep learning chips with real-time upgradeable algorithms, base stations chips with customisable features and MCU/IoT chips with flexible I/O and accelerators. The company noted that EFLX is currently available for popular process nodes and is being ported to further process nodes based on customer demand.

The Flex Logix technology offers high-density blocks of programmable RTL in any size together with the key features customers require. The solution allows designers to customise a single chip to address multiple markets and/or upgrade the chip while in the system to meet to changing standards such as networking protocols. It also allows customers to update chips with new deep learning algorithms and implement their own versions of protocols in data centres.

Regarding the new funding, Peter Hebert, managing partner at Lux Capital, said, "I believe that Flex Logix's embedded FPGA has the potential to be as pervasive as ARM's embedded processors… the company's software and silicon are proven and in use at multiple customers, paving the way to become one of the most widely-used chip building blocks across many markets and for a range of applications".

While Pierre Lamond, partner at Eclipse Ventures, commented, "The Flex Logix platform is the… most scalable and flexible embedded FPGA solution on the market, delivering competitive advantages in time to market, engineering efficiency, minimum metal layers and high density… the patented technology combined with an experienced management team led by Geoff Tate, founding CEO of Rambus, position the company for rapid growth".

Fujitsu and Mirantis partner to deliver OpenStack-based cloud infrastructure

Fujitsu Limited and Mirantis, the managed open cloud company, announced the signing of a global, strategic collaboration agreement designed to facilitate the adoption of open cloud infrastructure based on OpenStack and related open source technologies such as Kubernetes.

Under the agreement, Fujitsu and Mirantis will work together to integrate Mirantis Cloud Platform, which was introduced in April along with a new build-operate-transfer open infrastructure delivery model, with Fujitsu hardware, software and support capabilities. As part of the collaboration, Fujitsu becomes Mirantis' strategic partner for the methodology and will introduce it to customers.

Mirantis noted that its approach to infrastructure delivery differs from the traditional software-centric method based on licensing and support subscriptions. Mirantis is developing an operations-centric approach, whereby open infrastructure is continuously delivered with an operations SLA via a managed service or by the customer. This model means that software updates are implemented incrementally with no down time.

Fujitsu currently offers a range of private cloud offerings, and through the agreement will introduce the new privately managed global OpenStack solution based on Mirantis Cloud Platform from June 2017 in Japan, with plans to expand availability to other regions in the future.

Mirantis released a commercially-supported distribution of OpenStack and Kubernetes, delivered in a single package, as well as the new build-operate-transfer delivery model, in April.

Mirantis Cloud Platform (MCP) 1.0 is an open cloud software offering a single platform for orchestration of VMs, containers and bare metal compute resources that expands Mirantis OpenStack to include Kubernetes for container orchestration. The platform complements virtual compute stacks with open source software defined networking (SDN), specifically Mirantis OpenContrail for VMs and bare metal, and Calico for containers.

The software features DriveTrain, providing the foundation for DevOps style lifecycle management of the open cloud software stack by enabling continuous integration, testing and delivery through a CI/CD pipeline. It also supports availability SLAs via continuous monitoring of the open cloud software stacks through a unified set of software services and dashboards with StackLight.

NEC teams with Red Hat for trial of KDDI next generation enterprise platform

NEC announced that it contributed to a successful trial of a next generation enterprise platform by KDDI of Japan, a telecommunications and ICT solution provider serving around 40 million domestic mobile subscribers and over 2,000 large enterprises, in collaboration with Red Hat K.K.

NEC noted that as adoption of 5G and IoT services increases, it anticipates that rapid and efficient development and operation of services will be required across a larger number of servers and network infrastructure systems. As part of its effort to deliver this, NEC participated in trials with Red Hat designed to verify the feasibility of KDDI's next generation integrated platform, which incorporates infrastructure and IaaS elements, and its ability to operate with multiple types of systems.

The recent trials with KDDI, which were conducted earlier in 2017, confirmed the feasibility of delivering advanced functionality including:

1.         The use of open cloud technology to deliver quality, reliable system infrastructure for telecommunications carriers.

2.         Integrated management of multiple services using simplified infrastructure, flexible services and efficient operations.

3.         The maintenance and replacement of servers and storage devices without service interruptions.

4.         The provision of advanced monitoring utilising distributed technology developed by the KDDI Research Institute.

NEC stated that the trials were based on the Red Hat OpenStack Platform, which was used to create an open cloud environment, with the infrastructure implemented and managed by NEC. NEC plans to continue working with Red Hat to help deliver the performance needed for KDDI's next generation platform.

Zain Saudi Arabia upgrades LTE network using Nokia centralised RAN technology

Nokia and Zain Saudi Arabia, which recently announced the deployment of Nokia's multi-access edge computing (MEC) platform in Mecca, have enhanced network upload speeds at Jeddah's King Abdullah Sports stadium by a claimed up to 50% utilising Nokia centralised RAN technology.

The centralised RAN deployment is designed to improve uplink connectivity and quality of experience for attendees at football matches and other events held at the venue, known as the Al Jawhara Stadium, Jeddah's largest stadium.

Nokia noted that the popularity of events held at the stadium has prompted Zain Saudi Arabia to seek technology to address spikes in uplink data traffic triggered by large numbers of fans sharing photos and videos on social media. Zain selected Nokia's centralised RAN technology to improve uplink performance, specifically by deploying clusters of LTE base stations within the stadium to optimise bandwidth performance and address uplink congestion in the 1800 MHz bands.

The Nokia solution also helps improve smartphone energy efficiency as less power is required when uploading content. For the project, Nokia also provided professional services to support the design, testing and optimisation the performance of the new centralised RAN technology.

The Nokia centralised RAN is deployed on Zain's LTE network that is based on Nokia Flexi Multiradio 10 base station. The Nokia centralised RAN technology enables more than 60,000 fans to share content with up to 50% higher upload speed, with the capacity improvement supporting a claimed 31% increase in uplink traffic for events held at the Al Jawhara Stadium.

Earlier in May, Nokia announced that following a successful trial, Zain had deployed the Nokia MEC platform, combined with Edge Video Orchestration capability, into its network using both macro and small cell base stations to enhance services for Zain's subscribers. The solution leverages Nokia AirFrame data centre technology to support high levels of data processing.