International 5G News Stories

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General

America Movil to invest in 5G in all its markets: CFO

Garcia noted that America Movil is on track to meet its capital investment forecasts for 2024, which will be $7.1 billion

Mexican carrier América Móvil will invest in 5G technology in all the markets in which it operates, the company’s CFO, Carlos García Moreno, said during a conference call with investors.

“We are going to invest in 5G in all the markets in which we work,” García said, adding that Peru will be a focus of attention for the operator this year, after it launched a new data center there in January.

America Movil operates in at least 10 markets, mainly in Latin America. In Europe, the telco partially owns Austrian operator Telekom Austria.

Garcia also said that America Movil is on track to meet its capital investment forecasts for 2024, which will be $7.1 billion, down from $8.6 billion last year. Earlier this year, America Movil had warned of a cut in its spending after several years of significant investment in spectrum and network modernization.

América Móvil added a total of 562,000 broadband accesses in the first quarter of the year, with Mexico accounting for 325,000 new clients, up 6.4% compared to the year-ago period.

“All the big investments in fiber that we have been doing for the last three years are working,” America Movil’s CEO Daniel Hajj told analysts during the call.

In Mexico, América Móvil has over 17 million fiber homes passed and 80% of fixed customers connected to fiber, registering 21.6 million revenue generating units in March.

Brazil accounted for 92,000 new subscribers during Q1, up 2.7% year-on-year, and Colombia for 23,000, an increase of 2.1%.

The number of broadband subscribers in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay combined rose 23.2% to 1.4 million, with 62,000 new ones in the first quarter of the year.

“What we are doing in Mexico is exactly what we’re doing in other markets. We are investing in 5G, we are improving and giving better plans, doing fiber,” Hajj added.

América Móvil added a total of 1.5 million mobile subscribers during the quarter, of which 1.3 million of which were postpaid customers.

“Our 5G network is working very good. We have over 125 cities [in México] with good quality. We’re not increasing prices and people are choosing higher plans with more data,” Hajj said.

America Movil’s Mexican unit Telcel has over 10 million users that are able to connect to 5G technology.

Telcel initially launched its commercial 5G network in February 2022 in 18 of Mexico’s largest cities, using infrastructure from Ericsson and Huawei.

Rival operators AT&T Mexico and Movistar also offer 5G technology in Mexico.

General

China Mobile, Qualcomm, ZTE achieve 5.4 Gbps with 3CC CA test

ZTE said the new 5G test was carried out in the city of Jiaxing, China

Chinese vendor ZTE has collaborated with Qualcomm Technologies and China Mobile’s Zhejiang branch to achieve 5.4 Gbps peak data rates, ZTE said in a release.

Through an end-to-end field test of three carrier component carrier aggregation (3CC CA) combined with 1024 QAM (1024-state Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) in Jiaxing, China, the test showcased a single-user downlink peak rate surpassing 5.4 Gbps. The achievement represents a significant boost in network capability and user experience, the vendor said.

“This validation harnessed new 5G-Advanced (5G-A) features to fully unlock the spectrum potential of 5G commercial networks, thereby enhancing network capabilities and user experience. Furthermore, it showcased the efficacy of 5G-A technology in fostering rapid and efficient collaboration across various segments of the industry chain, including system products, commercial chips, and terminals. This demonstration provides an important reference point for accelerating the commercialization of 5G-A,” ZTE said.

As one of the “5G-Advanced dual-chain integration innovation demonstration bases,” China Mobile’s Zhejiang branch is leveraging its commercial 5G network to gradually implement 5G-A air interface enhancement technologies with the aim of being in a position to fully cater to the demanding requirements of emerging services such as VR smart experiences, ultra-high-definition live broadcasting and glasses-free 3D, the company said.

The verification utilized ZTE’s commercial 5G network equipment and test device, in addition to Qualcomm Technologies’ 5G Advanced-ready modem and RF system, the Snapdragon X75. The field test results showed that the combination of 3CC CA and 1024 QAM can achieve a single user downlink data rate of over 5.4 Gbps, said ZTE.

“Moving forward, China Mobile’s Zhejiang branch, ZTE and Qualcomm Technologies will continue to drive innovative practices and technological advancements. Through the release of 5G’s potential via technical innovation and large-scale commercial use, they aim to further advance the transformation into an intelligent society, and enhance the quality and efficiency of the digital economy,” the Chinese vendor added.

ZTE had announced 5G-A products during MWC 2024, which took place earlier this year in Barcelona, Spain.

During the event, ZTE unveiled 10 5G-A products including UBR and FDD massive MIMO products,  mmWave products and non-terrestrial networks (NTN) ground base station to extend 5G-A scenarios, and the a series of products with integrated communication and computing for rich B2C, B2B applications.

During MWC, ZTE noted that 5G-A is about to enter large-scale construction, adding that it will work with all sectors in the industry to jointly promote the continuous iteration and commercial practice of 5G-A technology.

General

The future of 5G: elevating connectivity with non-terrestrial networks

In today’s evolving telecoms landscape, providers are faced with mounting competition and growing pressure to provide the best, most reliable service. Many experts in this sector understand the limitations of existing networks, realizing that the true way to establish the most seamless connectivity is to look to a higher atmosphere.

Several pioneers have begun steering the satellite industry toward a more connected and intelligent future built on smarter, hybrid networks. The key to driving innovation in network infrastructure is non-terrestrial networks (NTNs). Unlike terrestrial networks, whose base stations are located on the Earth’s surface, NTN satellites transmit signals to the Earth from space.

While this may sound like the plot of a science fiction movie, space-based connectivity is no longer a far-off concept. In fact, organizations have begun investing billions of revenue dollars into funding for challenges related to NTN, and it has been a hot topic at many industry-wide events.

So how can telcos get on board with this new technology, and what are the best practices that leaders should be equipped with as they embark on their future-looking network transformation?

Gaps in the market

The terrestrial networks that currently power our devices are unable to serve end users to the fullest extent. Consider users who enjoy hiking or want to board a cruise ship for vacation. With terrestrial networks, these activities will cause signals to drop, as it is impossible to cover such areas with Earth-bound base stations.

NTNs omit the whitespace associated with terrestrial networks, allowing users to be accessible in the most unreachable areas. The low-Earth orbit satellites that enable NTNs provide expansive connectivity and can send signals down into – even into remote locations.

NTNs address a critical gap in the market, and as we head towards a new era of connectivity, users are seeking the fastest and most reliable service available. The hybrid connectivity enabled by NTNs can power IoT devices with low latency and high data speeds — with signals that never drop.

NTN use cases

While NTNs have the capability to change the landscape of network connectivity, there are several prominent use cases that are already at the top of many boardroom discussions.

  • Isolated area connectivity: Hard-to-reach areas where connectivity is lacking can be connected using NTN backhaul.
  • Farming and agriculture: Often working in rural settings spanning miles of farmland, NTNs can assist farmers with tracking livestock health, resource distribution, and environmental conditions, which in turn will make farming more efficient and sustainable.
  • Tracking shipments: Shipping containers often move through areas with limited connectivity, specifically while crossing large bodies of water in transit. NTNs enable the seamless tracking of assets as they move through the shipping process to provide real-time updates and location services.
  • Disaster response: Fire, police, and other rescue operations can all be significantly enhanced with NTN connectivity. An always-on signal means that even in a disaster situation, personnel have the capability to phone for additional support or resources.
  • Oil mining: Many oil fields are in ‘no man’s land,’ with limited access to networks. With NTNs, critical data reporting can be completed onsite without the risk of compromising data accuracy in transit.
  • SOS communications: SOS technology in vehicles, wearables, and beyond can send signals from anywhere with NTNs, enabling critical lifesaving technology at all times.

These use cases, along with many others not listed, showcase how automation and connectivity can truly be possible in this next frontier of hybrid networks.

Weighing the benefits and challenges

As with all new technologies, there are factors to consider before widespread adoption of NTNs can occur. Comprehensive protocols and regulations should be put in place to define industry standards. This can be achieved by developing an association of NTN incumbents to help regulators define specific guidelines. Enterprises should also bake cybersecurity into these networks from day-one to avoid any potential jammers or attempted hacks. Safeguarding NTN against cyber threats and ensuring uninterrupted service delivery – even in adverse weather conditions or natural disasters – is key to success.

Additionally, telcos must prepare for roadblocks around network integration and interoperability to ensure seamless integration with 5G terrestrial networks. Complex engineering and logistics tasks such as launching satellites and coordinating deployments can take time and resources.

Telcos must also implement a strong interference management strategy to minimize the interference between TNs and NTNs for optimal performance. This ties closely to latency, as signals traveling through space can introduce a delay that can impact real-time applications and critical communications systems. Telcos must ensure that these delays are calibrated and corrected. Moreover, to provide seamless global coverage, factors such as optimal orbital altitudes, satellite constellation design, coverage patterns, and HO mechanisms must be considered.

What’s further, prioritizing sustainability and planning for the careful elimination of space debris is an important step to ensure that the environment will remain protected with NTNs. This includes optimizing energy consumption and addressing power requirements. That said, because the base stations for these networks are located in space, they are sustainable by design. These stations are required to be small, solar fuelled, and low-powered. Beyond sustainability by design, NTNs do not require the connectivity infrastructure needed for terrestrial networks.

But the true benefit of this technology is its potential to disrupt virtually every industry in the business landscape. Once a reliable and robust connection with low-latency and a good data rate is achieved, these networks can reliably power any use cases across sectors. Specifically, when pairing satellite communications with edge computing, users can access connectivity anywhere. Taking this one step further, edge can run on NTN, meaning users can create 5G private networks in any setting.

This level of intelligent networking is the missing component in the telco industry, and it is the next step for organizations looking to reinvigorate innovation in the network.

The telco industry is facing many important decisions. Users are demanding better experiences than ever and have become increasingly concerned with having reliable service both at home and on the go.

While many telcos are pushing to develop the best, most expansive network, few have taken the steps to evaluate how hybrid networks can alter the course of their business. NTNs are the future of seamless connectivity, and telcos must prepare to take this next leap of innovation.

General

Industry Voices: The 5G deep freeze is coming

Every 8-10 years, our industry feasts with another “G.” New spectrum opens up. The operators raise billions of dollars, and spend it on radio gear. But after a summer of love, there is always a winter. We are entering the deep freeze of that 5G winter now.

This time, I’m expecting one aspect to be different. Every previous slump in the mobile industry resulted in a major vendor losing their independence. After 2G, Motorola dropped out. After 3G, we saw the NSN joint venture, with Alcatel and Lucent joining forces. Nortel dropped out and became part of Nokia. And after 4G, Nokia acquired Alcatel-Lucent, with a multiple smaller players in Asia dropping out as well.

Players tend to drop out when the market resets and another major R&D investment appears on the horizon. Nortel simply could not invest enough cash to tackle 4G R&D, so they evaporated. Alcatel, Siemens, Lucent, Motorola and others all dropped out of the market with variations on the same theme. It’s expensive to stay in the game.

This time around, we only have three large suppliers of mobile infrastructure, so the type of consolidation that we have seen in the past is not likely. Ericsson holds the strongest share at about 37%, and Nokia is a solid #2 at 28% (excluding China). Samsung is no weakling — their mobile networks business is thriving and has reached a leadership position in vRAN. I don’t expect Samsung to drop out of the mobile networks market soon because their deep pockets and expertise in AI put them in a good position.

The Chinese vendors hold a small share of the market outside of China, and I don’t really consider them to be serious players anymore when it comes to the market outside of China. So we will simply ignore them in this analysis.

A different kind of consolidation

In fact, I do expect consolidation to happen, but it will be different this time. Instead of companies buying each other, let’s take the AT&T/Ericsson open RAN deal as a marker. That’s a case where the customer has chosen a single vendor for the software, moving the competitive action to the hardware side in order to keep costs down. This moves AT&T into a single-source position, but they will actually increase the number of suppliers involved as they introduce Cloud RAN, with various server vendors, chip vendors, and RU vendors. It’s less competitive in one aspect and more competitive in other areas.

I believe that vRAN software is becoming the strategic high ground of the RAN market. Will Ericsson dominate the vDU and vCU software, like Microsoft has dominated the OS software for PCs? Will Nokia be the ‘spoiler’ in the market, like Apple has been for non-Windows software? Or is Samsung far enough ahead in vRAN to take a key position?

We collapsed down to two major operating systems in PCs and in smartphones. Will the same dynamic play out in RAN software, with migration to the two ‘best in class’ software platforms? Or will the entanglements of legacy RAN prevent the migration?

My new vRAN report dives into some of these questions and provides a view of how vRAN will be adopted quickly as new spectrum comes into play.

Don’t forget the lessons of 2G, 3G, and 4G: We have a long winter ahead of us, as new spectrum will be scarce through about 2029. Companies that can’t keep investing in R&D to keep up will be left behind, and those that keep investing in cloud RAN software evolution will emerge stronger.

General

Samsung and Qualcomm complete FDD/TDD test call using 1,024 QAM modulation

Samsung and Qualcomm reported data from a cellular lab simulation that achieved a 20 percent lift to theoretical downlink through use of frequency and time division bands powered by 1,024 QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation). They claim this is the first time 1,024 QAM has been used for both FDD and FDD/TDD transmissions. 

The test was carried out on 20 MHz bandwidth on the 2.1 GHz (FDD) and 3.5 GHz bands, reaching 485 Mbps speeds downlink. The 20 percent estimate is based on a comparison with 256 QAM radio units widely used in commercial RAN networks at present. Modulating fidelity as high as 4K QAM is increasingly used for Wi-Fi routers in the consumer and enterprise spaces, particularly in Wi-Fi 7 or 6E products.

Samsung said it now plans to begin 1024 QAM testing in traditional RAN networks ahead of a potential commercial release later this year. The lab trial used a test device from Qualcomm Technologies with a mobile phone form factor powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X75 modem.

1,024 QAM is included in 3GPP Release 17 with the aim of enhancing standardised radio interfaces and access networks. Samsung suggests its usage in cellular RAN will optimise spectrum availability in bandwidth-intensive use cases like live video streaming and gaming.

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