International 5G News Stories

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In sub-Saharan Africa, 5G adoption rate will increase from 0.2% in 2022 to 17% in 2030: report

The report highlights that 5G should benefit most sectors of economic activity, even if the majority of the benefits expected by the end of the decade will be concentrated in the manufacturing and services, which have a high capacity for integrating use cases of this technology.

Sub-Saharan Africa is expected to have 226 million subscriptions to fifth generation (5G) mobile networks in 2030, an adoption rate of 17% compared to just 0.2% in 2022, according to a report published on 17 last October by the Global Association of Mobile Telephone Operators and Manufacturers (GSMA).

Titled “The Mobile Economy Sub-Saharan Africa 2023” , the report specifies that 27 operators have already launched commercial 5G mobile services in 16 countries in the region.

The deployment of 5G in sub-Saharan Africa should however be done in stages, starting with areas where the demand for associated services is highest such as densely populated cities, before expanding to other territories as the economic profitability of the technology will improve.

Operators active in the region have stepped up their efforts to modernize and prepare their networks for 5G, with a focus on the deployment of optical fiber for backhaul, as well as network automation and virtualization solutions for manage costs. However, Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) will be a primary use case for 5G in the region, given the growing demand for connectivity and the limited capacity of connectivity infrastructure. by optical fiber.

Compared to other regions of the world, the growth of 5G south of the Sahara will, in short, be slow but steady, while a growing share of operators’ customers will continue to migrate to 4G, the number of which Subscriptions are expected to almost double to 49% of total connections by the end of the current decade. At the same time, the number of 2G and 3G connections will drop to 2% and 33% respectively in 2030.

Industry and services, main beneficiaries of 5G

The report also highlights that 5G mobile networks are expected to represent, across their entire value chain, an economic contribution of $11 billion in sub-Saharan Africa in 2030, compared to less than a billion in 2022. While several Countries in the region are still in the early stages of deploying these networks, the economic benefits of 5G will increase as the technology becomes widely adopted.

5G is expected to benefit most sectors of the economy in sub-Saharan Africa, depending on their ability to integrate the use cases of this technology into their operations. By 2030, however, 32% of the economic impact should concern the manufacturing industry sector, thanks to applications such as smart factories and cities, and 29% the services sector (public administration, financial services, health, education).

The GSMA also indicates that the contribution of mobile telephony, all generations combined, to economic added value in sub-Saharan Africa should reach around $210 billion in 2030 compared to $170 billion in 2022, thanks in particular to productivity gains. and efficiency resulting from the increased use of mobile services. This increase in the economic contribution of mobile telephony will mainly result from the increase in 4G and 5G subscriptions.

At the regional level, the total number of subscriptions to mobile telephone networks (total SIM connections) is expected to reach 1.36 billion in 2030 compared to 980 million in 2022, while the number of unique subscribers to mobile telephone networks will increase from 489 million in 2022 to 692 million in 2030.

The mobile telephony penetration rate in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to reach 50% in 2030 compared to 43% in 2022.

Furthermore, the adoption rate of smartphones in the region will reach 88% (1.2 billion smartphone connections) at the end of the current decade compared to 51% in 2022, thanks in particular to improved financial accessibility. of these devices.


European mobile data traffic tipped to triple by 2028

The GSMA predicted rapid increases in data traffic across Europe in the next five years, citing a general expected increase in 5G adoption and migration to 4G in central and eastern European countries.

In its Mobile Economy Report Europe 2023, the industry association pointed to indications subscribers already using 5G services would be interested in adding high-bandwidth services to contracts.

This demand is attributed to the popularity of use cases requiring upgraded connectivity such as high quality gaming, XR applications and video content.

As the organisation and operators on the continent have raised a number of times over the last year, expected growth in data demand will require further network upgrade investment which, it noted, are already slated to top €198 billion by 2030.

In 2028 5G is predicted to become the continent’s dominant mobile technology, driven by growth in Germany and the UK.

Despite this march of 5G, the report highlighted continued growth was “tempered by concerns about the impact of policies holding back investment in next-generation network technologies in Europe, threatening the bloc’s digital leadership globally as well as its ambitious digital decade goals”.

For standalone 5G, it noted, the continent was trailing comparable regions last year with 5 per cent of live networks in Europe supporting this standard compared with 25 per cent in APAC.

In 2022 the mobile industry added €910 billion worth of value to Europe’s economies, the GSMA found, equivalent to 4.3 per cent of the continent’s GDP.

Other revelations in the report include “mobile-based productivity” contributing €670 billion of economic value across the region and 2.2 million jobs being supported by the ecosystem in 2022.

By 2030 the mobile sector’s economic contribution is expected to top a €1 trillion, driven partly by increased uptake mobile services by other sectors.


Industry rides mobile core rollercoaster as growth plummets

The global mobile core network market has just turned in its lowest quarterly growth rate for almost six years, hit by a difficult political and economic climate, as well as by slow rollouts of standalone 5G networks.

So says Dell’Oro, which has not published actual market figures, but shared its view on growth patterns over the past few years. The third quarter of this year was the weakest in growth terms since the fourth quarter of 2017, the analyst firm said.

The data arguably comes as a bit of a shock, given that it follows a strong second quarter. Q2 showed the highest growth rate since the first quarter of 2021, the firm noted.

Funnily enough, with numbers like that, Dell’Oro described the mobile core network market as “erratic” and “on a roller coaster ride,” Q3 bringing a big dip.

For many people, the most fun part of a roller coaster is the big dip, but clearly that is not the case for telecoms equipment makers keen to flog their wares to the operator community. Incidentally, Huawei was the leading mobile core network vendor in Q3, followed by Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE, but again, Dell’Oro did not supply any actual figures to give us an idea of market shares.

“Many vendors state that the market is volatile, attributing this phenomenon to macroeconomic conditions such as the fear of higher inflation rates, unfavourable currency foreign exchange rates, and the geopolitical climate,” said Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group.

But there is another reason for this up-and-down growth pattern: 5G standalone. Essentially, telecoms operators have been much slower in rolling out standalone 5G networks than most people in the industry expected.

In addition to subscriber growth in general, a major growth driver for the mobile core network market is the move to 5G standalone, because it uses a 5G core, Dell’Oro noted. But operators are still launching many more non-standalone 5G networks than standalone, and the pace of deployment for 5G SA has really slowed: last year saw the launch of 17 5G SA networks, but the figure has fallen to seven so far in 2023.

Dell’Oro is not the only firm highlighting disappointing 5G SA growth. In August the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) shared Q2 figures that showed just 36 operators worldwide has launched public 5G SA networks, including two soft launches, by the end of June, an increase of just one on the previous quarter.

In total, the GSA said that 115 operators in 52 countries had invested in public 5G SA networks – that includes actual deployments as well as planned rollouts and trials – by the end of Q2, with no new names added during the quarter, and an increase of just three on the end of 2022.

Dell’Oro’s records show that two new mobile network operators launched commercial 5G SA networks in the third quarter of this year: Telefonica O2 in Germany and Etisalat in the United Arab Emirates. And yet, the weakest performing regions in Q3 in the overall mobile network core market were EMEA and China, both having been among the strongest regions in the previous quarter. That said, there is of course a gap between operator equipment spend and commercial rollout.

All in all though, like the GSA, Dell’Oro is relatively upbeat about the future of 5G SA.

“We expect more 5G SA networks to be deployed in 2024 than in 2023, and we expect 2024’s market performance to be better than 2023,” said Bolan.

And that will presumably have a knock-on effect on the overall mobile core network space.


ETSI offers up ‘integrated sensing and communications’ as 6G selling point

European standardization body ETSI has launched a specialised group to nail down integrated sensing and communications technology and standards ahead of the emergence of 6G.

The Industry Specification Group for Integrated Sensing and Communications (ISG ISAC) is tasked with establishing the technical foundations for ‘ISAC’ technology, and standardization for 6G when it turns up.

Dr Alain Mourad from InterDigital was elected as Chair of the group by founding members, while Dr Ayman Naguib from Apple, Dr Richard Stirling-Gallacher from Huawei, and Professor Henk Wymeersch from Chalmers University are now Vice Chairs. All in all, 87 participants from industry and academia were involved in a kick-off meeting held at the ETSI office in Sophia Antipolis, France.

ETSI describes ‘sensing’ as ‘the use of radio signals to detect and estimate characteristics of target objects in the environment.’ Once this is integrated into a network it can acts as a ‘radar sensor’, using its own radio signals to ‘sense and comprehend the physical world in which it operates.’

What this does is allow the network to collect data on the range, velocity, position, orientation, size, shape, image, materials of objects and devices. This info can then be leveraged to enhance the network’s operations, augment existing services such as XR and digital twinning, and enable new services such as gesture and activity recognition, object detection and tracking, along with imaging and environment reconstruction, claims ETSI.

The point of this new group is so that ETSI members can coordinate their 6G pre-standard research efforts around ISAC ahead of the eventual standardisation process. It’s stated goals are to define a prioritised set of 6G use cases and sensing types, focussing on advanced 6G use cases and sensing types which are not expected to be covered by 3GPP Release 19.

It will also produce studies looking at the privacy and security aspects associated with sensing data within the ISAC 6G framework, and the impact of widespread deployment of ISAC on the UN sustainable development goals.

“Integrated Sensing and Communications add a new element of capability to the wireless network, enabling new innovative use cases in transport, urban environments, homes, and factories, ranging from object and intruder detection in predefined secure areas around critical infrastructures to fall detection and rain/pollution monitoring” said Dr Alain Mourad, Chair of the ISAC ISG.

The idea of using a network to sense objects was also offered up by Nokia at MWC this year as a potential 6G use case. Head of Europe Rolf Werner told

“Temperature, wavelength, infrared, you can do stuff which goes all around. You can tune an airport [so you] don’t have to show a passport… you walk through because the network is able to gain information from everything you have… there’s a lot of stuff coming around. 6G in 2030 is our visionary year, or that’s when we think it will kick in. Of course a lot of things have to happen before that.”

The fact that ETSI’s ISG ISAC group will be producing a study around the privacy and security aspects around sensing seems prudent, since there are bound to be some concerns raised about the potential implications of a network sensing all sorts of data points on people and objects if that becomes a key facet of the future 6G marketing machine.


Huawei launches intelligent network core platform for 5.5G operations

Huawei has announced the launch of a network intelligence platform for backbone 5G and 5.5G services. The platform was unveiled by George Gao, president of Huawei’s cloud core network product line, at a recent industry event, the 5G Core Summit. Gao’s presentation revealed that Huawei’s product focused on network and services intelligence, as well as operations and maintenance feedback in 5G and 5.5G settings.

Under the hood, the platform is able to support 10 Gbps downlink, 1 Gbps uplink and up to 100 billion IoT device connections. Huawei is touting the product as the answer to operators seeking greater harmonisation of network functions and operations sensing, incorporating intent-driven configurations and intelligent modelling of the network core.

Further value to operators could result from the platform’s “calling-advanced” features, which facilitate multi-modal network communications and content-based delivery channels, Gao added. 

Network data analytics function

Huawei’s network core platform also integrates a specific intelligent interface for running 5G network data analytics functions (NWDAF). NWDAF is a networking service integration that enables operators to specify aggregation of core network data, allowing them to produce and action data insights.

The Huawei implementation has various NWDAF-powered insights configured by default, for example for collecting data logs and key performance indicators, and building a central repository for AI model training, inference, and predictions. Huawei is also launching a unified distributed gateway protocol for usage on 5G core networks, including tools for shaping network traffic and differentiating frame-level packet schedules.

Finally, Huawei said the 5.5G Core platform has digital assistant capabilities aimed at operations and maintenance personnel. The assistant is able to advise on common network issues, based on AI algorithms taught to recognise networking core issues.

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