Strong pull from operators on 5G, says Ericsson
Industrial IoT 5G Insights discussed 5G with Håkan Andersson, head of 5G Product Strategy, Radio Business Unit, at Ericsson.
Bearing the promises of higher speeds and ultra-low latency, 5G is being promoted as a technological shift allowing new types of use cases. However, it has yet to be standardized: 5G specifications are expected to be ready by 2020. Judging by the multitude of vendor and operator announcements – here a world-first, there a speed record – one might easily get the impression that 5G is right around the corner. And in many ways, beyond the hype, it is indeed getting closer by the day. “The overall vision for 5G is fairly well established in the industry, 5G standards are progressing and 3GPP is moving forward rapidly,” said Håkan Andersson, head of 5G Product Strategy, Radio Business Unit, at Ericsson, to IIoT 5G Insights. There is indeed already a consensus on some of the technological building blocks. These will include Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), software-defined infrastructure (SDN), distributed cloud and network slicing.
Amid decreasing carrier CAPEX and squeezed 4G profitability, focusing on 5G is certainly one way to instill hope for a better future – and keep investors happy. Operators around the globe and equipment vendors are there competing to be first when it comes to testing and showcasing elements of the new technology. At the end of August, Ericsson presented the a commercial 5G New Radio (NR) for massive MIMO and Multi-user MIMO, with the first deployments coming in 2017. Earlier in June, the Swedish vendor announced 5G plug-ins, allowing service providers to take advantage of their existing LTE networks to support their evolution to 5G. Being early with these plug-ins is an important differentiator for Ericsson, says Håkan Andersson. Ericsson also announced in June a partnership with SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom to deploy the world’s first transcontinental 5G trial network. In June, Ericsson’s competitor Huawei announced for its part it had completed, together with Vodafone, the at 5G outdoor field test at E-Band reaching a peak rate of 20 Gbps for a single user device with high spectrum efficiency.
No dramatic transition
Asked about the role of vendors in the hype surrounding 5G, Andersson says that Ericsson has been experiencing strong demand from the operator community. “I have never seen such a pull from the operator community to do trials,” he told IIoT 5G Insights. “We have to hold back sometimes.”
Ericsson has established 5G agreements with more than 25 carriers, including China Unicom, Vodafone, SK Telecom and Deutsche Telekom. Ericsson competitor Nokia has also announced a number of carrier agreements, including with BT, Sonera, Tele2 and NTT Docomo. Chinese vendor Huawei is working with carriers including Vodafone, China Mobile and Deutsche Telekom.
Because the new air interface is expected to tightly work with existing networks, the shift to 5G should happen gradually. This also means that operators can already start deploying 5G technology available today. “LTE can live with the new interface for an extensive period of time. It is not as dramatic a revolution as previous generations,” said Andersson.
Looking for compelling use cases
The whole industry has underlined since the 5G discussion started back in 2012 the key role the technology would play in enabling new use cases, not least within the Internet of Thigs (IoT). But identifying compelling 5G use cases is giving service providers a hard time, according to Stéphane Téral, senior research director, Mobile Infrastructure and Carrier Economics, at analyst firm IHS Markit. “The entire mobile ecosystem is trying to figure out the uses cases for 5G. Every service provider on this planet that has jumped into the 5G race is trying to find convincing uses cases that can greatly benefit from the proposed ITU IMT-2020 enhancements,” he said in a research note.
Service providers and vendors agree that the IoT will be a major use case for 5G. In fact, service providers rated the IoT as the top use case for 5G, according to a survey by IHS Markit. In order to identify concrete use cases, Ericsson has applied a “learning-by-doing” approach and has 30 so-called proof of concept (PoC) within multiple vertical industries. “PoC are critical for us to understand more detailed requirements and see which technologies these verticals can use,” said Håkan Andersson.
The use cases for 3G and 4G were in contrast clear from the start: enable better voice and more data. But because 5G is in the making, it is difficult to predict the exact use cases that will benefit the most from 5G. “5G is the most exciting evolution when it comes to addressing new opportunities … With previous generations, we knew exactly what we were developing for. 5G is instead enabling new use cases and has therefore a built-in forward-compatibility to cater for what we don’t know,” said Andersson.
IIoT News Recap: Orange’s nationwide LoRa network deployment progressing faster than anticipated; Oracle signs MoU with India’s Maharashtra region to connect 29,000 villages; Telit and Intel partner on joint architecture for Intel IoT platforms; Softbank leads $750 million financing round in Uber rival Grab
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Smart cities: Oracle signs MoU with India’s Maharashtra region to connect 29,000 villages
The Western Indian state of Maharashtra signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oracle to create a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Mumbai to help connect 29,000 villages and accelerate the state’s digital transformation initiatives, Economic Times reports. Oracle’s CEO Safra Catz said the company will use experiences from this CoE to drive smart city initiatives in other Indian states.
IIoT: Telit and Intel partner on joint architecture for Intel IoT platforms
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Today’s startup: Grab raises $750 million in round led by Softbank
Singapore-based ride-hailing startup Grab has raised $750 million in an oversubscribed equity financing round led by Japanese operator Softbank. Grab’s platform counts 1.5 million daily bookings in 31 cities across six Southeast Asian countries where Grab operates private car, motorbike, taxi, and carpooling services. Grab plans to use the funds to further expand in Southeast Asia, especially in Indonesia, the region’s largest market with 250 million people. It will also invest in mobile payment capabilities. Today, 43 percent of the region’s population are unbanked and transactions are largely cash-based. “Our vision is to drive Southeast Asia transportation forward and transform the region’s mobile internet ecosystem. This latest funding, the largest in the history of Southeast Asia consumer technology, strengthens our ability to pursue those long-term goals as we continue to build on our market leadership. We are particularly excited about the growth opportunity in Indonesia, where we see an almost $15 billion market for ride-hailing services alone, as well as the potential to extend GrabPay’s platform regionally. I am confident in our technology, data science and machine learning platforms, which have continued to scale to support our bold ambitions in the region,” said Anthony Tan, Group CEO & Co-founder, in a statement.