Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Ice - bringing 5G to Norway

Norway has a population of 5.4 million with a mobile market dominated by Telenor Mobil and Telia, the only two operators with national coverage. Telia Norway has 2.3 million mobile subscriptions, while Telenor roughly 3.1 million mobile subscriptions.Both Telenor and Telia have outstanding 4G availability across the rest of the country, and as a result, Norway had the highest percentage of 4G use of any of the Scandinavian countries.

Ice is the third network upsetting this duoply, a much recent entrant, having only started commercial sales in 2015. They had 422 thousand smartphone subscribers as of 30 June 2018 and operate their own 4G network in some regions of the country, most notably major cities such as Oslo and Bergen, and claim to cover around 80% of the population with their own infrastructure. 

Norway has completed an auction of mobile spectrum in the 700 MHz and 2.1 GHz bands. The smallest operator Ice was the biggest spender, acquiring frequencies in both bands, and Telenor and Telia also bought licences for the 700 MHz band. In total, the auction raised NOK 735 million (€75 million / $85 million).

Ice acquired the 2x15 MHz offered in the 2.1 GHz band for the minimum price of NOK 75 million (€7.7 million / $8.7 million) as well as 2x10 MHz in the 700 MHz band for NOK 262 million (€26.8 million / $30.4 million). The operator is still building out its mobile network in Norway and noted that the new frequencies are a "bonus" not included in its original plan. As a result of the opportunities with the 700 MHz band, it will be able to reach the target of 95 percent population with fewer base stations, reducing capex in 2019 and 2020 compared to previous estimates. 

Telia spent NOK 217.9 million (
€22.3 million / $25.2 million) on 2x10 MHz in the 700 MHz band, and Telenor acquired the other 2x10 MHz in the 700 MHz band for NOK 180 million (€18.4 million / $20.9 million).

The 700 MHz spectrum will be available from 01 November 2019 and is expected to be a key component of 5G network roll-outs as well as boosting 4G capacity. The operators will be required to cover 40 percent of the population within five years with speeds of a minimum 5 Mbps with the new frequencies. 

Ice is is now building a 5G-ready network inn urban areas across Norway based on Nokia AirScale Radio Access technology, with approximately 1000 5G-ready base stations already deployed.
“With ice, Norway is at the forefront of the development of 5G network and services. ice is building a brand new 5G-ready mobile network with Nokia, one of the world’s leading suppliers of mobile technology. We continue to invest in and expand our national 4G network, even as we prepare for the next generation of mobile networks. We will always ensure Norway gets top quality services, and we look forward to exploring the new services we can introduce with 5G technology.” 
says Eivind Helgaker, CEO of ice Group.

And until 5G can be deployed in Norway, Ice subscribers will still benefit from optimized 4G performance, coverage and capacity due to the technology upgrade. Under the same agreement, Nokia will also further expand ice’s current 4G network towards nationwide coverage.

Ice has also started to modernize its core network, moving to Nokia’s 5G-ready Airframe cloud-native core technology. Virtualizing the core network infrastructure will enable ice to develop new services faster than currently possible. The cloud-native core network will also prepare ice to support future 5G-based service deployments.

“5G is not just approaching fast – it is here already. With the deployment of Nokia 5G-ready RAN and Cloud Core technology, ice is making a big step towards 5G and, together, we are ready to unleash its power. As a long-standing partner and network supplier of ice we have a deep understanding of the network and a long track record of successful projects. We look forward to continuing to support Ice on their journey.” 
says Pekka Sundstrom, CBT Head at Nokia.

Ice have already delivered the highest levels of Consistent Quality in testing across all operators in the Nordics, delivering a high quality cellular connection capable of delivering HD video calls more than 90% of the time.

For users outside of ICE’s own coverage, the network has a roaming agreement with Telia. According to Tutela’s data, ICE subscribers are on Telia’s network around 1/3rd of the time.

When roaming on Telia’s network, Ice users do benefit from Telia’s superior coverage, although data speeds appear to be a little slower for Ice users compared to Telia users. Ice users see download speeds 17% slower than Telia users in the same areas, although the speeds are still far in excess of the consistent quality threshold.

Ice, also has the least geographic coverage of any operator in Norway, but scores the best for consistent quality at 90.5% -- which is also the highest score for any operator in Scandinavia. The industry-leading consistent quality may be explained by Ice mostly building out its network in urban areas; in rural areas, where consistent quality is typically lower, customers instead roam onto Telia’s network.

Further Reading:

Monday, 10 June 2019

US mmWave Spectrum Auction Results in 24 GHz & 28 GHz

Fortune reported:

The federal government’s latest auction of airwave rights that can be used for super-fast 5G mobile phone service brought in only $2.7 billion, a fraction of the amounts raised in earlier sales for 3G and 4G airwaves.

AT&T and T-Mobile were the top bidders, with each spending almost $1 billion for rights in the 24 GHz and 28 GHz bands, the Federal Communications Commission said on Monday. Verizon, which already owned a considerable amount of airwaves in the 28 GHz band before the auction, spent $521 million.

Meanwhile, United States Cellular spent $256 million, Boston-based wireless broadband startup Starry spent $48 million, and data carrier Windstream spent $27 million. The auction didn’t draw any bids from cable companies and big tech players that have previously shown an interest in wireless.

The total was far less than the $20 billion to $45 billion that the wireless industry spent each at auctions over the past decade covering airwaves in the 600 MHz, 700 MHz, and 1700 MHz bands. Sometimes referred to as the millimeter wave bands, the high frequency airwaves sold at the latest auction can carry a tremendous amount of data, but they don’t travel nearly as far as lower frequency bands and can be blocked easily by buildings and trees.

FCC website:

  • Auction of 24 GHz Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service Licenses Closes; Winning Bidders Announced for Auction 102

Tables from Light Reading Article here.

Pie charts at the top from Allnet Blog post here.

Related Posts:

Friday, 7 June 2019

Telia 5G Strategy and Services

Telia is without doubt the leading European operator on 5G. They have partnered with Nokia among others for the introduction of 5G in Scandinavian countries like Finland and Sweden.

Telia' s 5G network which operates on test frequencies issued by the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority was launched on September 2018. However 5G growth is of course dependent on availability of standard-compliant 5G devices, like modems, tablets and mobile phones by terminal manufacturers.    

Here we are looking at some of Telia's innovative and exciting collaborations, bringing 5G technology to the daily lives of people in Scandinavia.

One such initiative is the autonomous robot that will help carry out service tasks at Helsinki Airport after being connected to Telia Company's third 5G network in Finland. The robot, yet to be named, will oversee airport operations and also study the flow of passengers through the T2 terminal.

Telia and airport operator Finavia, which is Telia's first 5G customer, will research how staff and passengers react to the robot through real-time video feeds.  The robot will be connected to a Nokia 5G base station operating in the 28GHz band. This will be the first time in Finland that millimetre waves have been used publicly and Finavia is Telia's first 5G customer.

Telia Finland 5G Program Director Janne Koistinen said:
 "5G will start with enterprise customers, especially for industrial automation and remote control. The low-latency connection and massive capacity of 5G will serve the airport well with its masses of passengers and data, and with the focus on security and fluency of services."
Wile Heikki Koski, Chief Digital Officer, Finavia, said: 
"The robot can deliver real-time video stream from the terminal and enable for example monitoring the terminal area through remote or autonomous control and see that everything is running as it should. The robot can also guide passengers in the terminal, and we aim to try different use cases during the project."

Another project has been this driverless electric truck which has began daily freight deliveries on a public road in Sweden on May 15 2019, in what developer Einride and logistics customer DB Schenker described as a world first.

Einride's T-Pod is 26 tonnes when full and does not have a driver cabin, which it estimates reduces road freight operating costs by around 60% versus a diesel truck with a driver.

Besides Schenker, Einride has orders from German grocer Lidl, Swedish delivery company Svenska Retursystem and five Fortune 500 retail companies, underpinning its ambition to have 200 vehicles in operation by the end of 2020. Freight operators are under pressure to reduce delivery times, cut emissions and face a growing shortage of drivers.

The T-Pod has permission to make short trips – between a warehouse and a terminal – on a public road in an industrial area in Jonkoping, central Sweden, at up to 5 km/hr, documents from the transport authority show.

Robert Falck, the CEO of Swedish startup Einride, said the company was in partnership talks with major suppliers to help scale production and deliver orders, and the firm did not rule out future tie-ups with large truckmakers. Falck said Einride would apply next year for more public route permits and was planning to expand in the United States.

The T-Pod is level 4 autonomous, the second highest category, and uses a Nvidia Drive platform to process visual data in real time. An operator, sitting miles away, can supervise and control up to 10 vehicles at once.

However they are constrained by the rollout of 5G technology, vital for electrification, this was lagging. For Schenker's pilot with Einride, Ericsson and Telia had to construct two new towers.

Nokia’s 5G networking equipment is also involved with Telia in the development of self-driving vehicles. Nokia has been working for some time on LTE based car communications and is a member of the 5G Automotive Association (5GAA), a strong proponent of 3GPP’s cellular-based technology called “cellular vehicle to everything” (C-V2X). This will enable the wide variety of communications that will be needed for the autonomous cars to run freely in our cities.

Nokia is busy not only with the creation of phones but also new 5G radios and software but with some other quite useful technologies.  Nokia has been testing together with Telia, and a company Sensible 4, a self-driving vehicle called Juto. Finnish people will know know that Juto is a word for a reindeer who always finds its way to home despite the weather condition. That word is an appropriate name for the self-driving vehicle that uses the 5G network to communicate with Nokia command center in real time.Nokia is doing tests with Juto on the streets of Espoo, and may expand to other cities in Finland. 

Telia has also partnered with Odeon in the development of the 5G cinema: so that big and little screens can share the same streaming technology.  Odeon is now operating the world’s first 5G movie theater, displaying films that have been transferred over a live 5G network.

As Odeon told ZDNet, the theater has found that livestreaming of theatrical films “works excellently” over 5G, though Odeon is largely using 5G to transfer the films to its own servers for repeated playback.

The distinction is critically important as it demonstrates that responsive, high-bandwidth 5G wireless could be a viable alternative to local storage, even in commercial settings where buffering or audiovisual degradation would be problems for hundreds of viewers at once. While 4G LTE networks may struggle to maintain fluid 720p video streams, theatrical films typically run at 4K or greater resolutions with far less compression.

Livestreaming 4K or higher-quality video at respectable frame rates is incredibly bandwidth-intensive, but Telia’s 5G network is up to the task. In its Odeon tests, Telia is achieving 2.2Gbps speeds, between 5 and 20 times the bandwidth of typical consumer 4G networks, and faster than the theater’s wired internet lines. That’s enough to let the cinema’s 5G hardware address its own downloading needs, as well as offering guest Wi-Fi access inside the building.

There are also positive implications for the speed of video distribution. In the past, theaters received physical reels of film that needed to be manually loaded into projectors for viewing, then rewound for subsequent playback, a process that was more recently replaced by less time- and space-consuming digital film distribution. With 5G, distribution can be instantaneous: Telia’s and Odeon’s observed 7-8 millisecond network response times are around one-fifth of 4G’s latency, which could allow theatergoers to participate in real time with live concerts or other events broadcast from remote locations.

Telia's 5G test network in Oslo has also made it possible to explore opportunities for individuals and families as well. At the home of a family of five, Telia and Get have set up what might be Norway's most modern home. The house has been filled with smart solutions from Futurehome, for example, accessing the latest entertainment from Get - all connected to the network through the 5G pilot.

“The family gets an easier, safer and more enjoyable everyday life. We like to call it everyday magic," says Torbj酶rn Aamodt, Product Director at Get and future head of Telia Consumer Home. 
"This family is far ahead of the rest of us, with a home filled with clever things connected through 5G. It is something the rest of us will not experience for several years, but it's really fun to see what we will get with the latest technology.”
Moreover, industrial applications of 5G will be one of the most important drivers for development and commercialization. One of the industries that will benefit greatly from the new technology is the construction industry. Telia cooperates with AF Group Bispevika, which will be one of the first to test 5G on one of its housing development projects. ¨

Telia Norway will contribute with mobile technology to help realize the ambitions of a site filled with sensors, phones, robots, artificial intelligence and expanded reality (AR)

According to Lars Petter Fritzs酶nn, Project Director of AF Byggfornyelse:

"The AF Group project in Bispevika is a lighthouse project and we are pleased to be among the first to use 5G. Today, efficient work processes at such a construction site are challenging, if the infrastructure is not yet available.”​
We look forward to following the progress of all these groundbreaking projects. What other Telia projects have you heard of? 

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

NTT Docomo's Green Base Stations

GSMA Future Networks detail a case study on NTT Docomo's Green Base Station:

NTT DOCOMO have developed Green Base Stations, a non-traditional, environmental-friendly and sustainable energy supply scheme for radio base stations.

Green Base Stations are equipped with photovoltaic (PV) panels, cycle-type Li-ion storage batteries, DC power controllers, and supply generated power to radio equipment with smart power control. They can make use of renewable energy by local PV power generation, therefore can reduce CO2 emission from commercial electric power use. Additionally, in case of a power outage due to disaster, they work longer time by PV power generation rather than relying on backup power alone.

Green Base Stations have been installed since 2013 and a total of 133 stations were installed by March 2018. The company aims to increase PV generation capacity to 2000 kW by 2020. Mobile network operators (MNOs), introducing 5G networks, will increase consumption of electric power for 5G network facilities in the future, and are expected to reduce power consumption both in terms of business and CSR requirements.

You can read the complete article here.

Couple of related articles were also published in NTT Docomo Technical Journal:

NTT Docomo Related Posts:

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Mobile Landscape in Nicaragua

Nicaragua's mobile communications sector is highly concentrated. The market is currently lead by Movistar Nicaragua and Claro Nicaragua, with a total combined market share of 99.6% as of year-end 2018; Chinese operator Xinwei, which entered the market in 2016 under the Cooltel brand, has yet to achieve expected growth and closed 2018 with only about 25,000 subscribers.

Millicom just announced it has closed the acquisition of Movistar owned by Telefon铆a Celular de Nicaragua, S.A., the number one mobile operator in the country, and will be adding it to the its brand TIGO Nicaragua. 

This is the first transaction to close since Millicom announced in February an agreement to acquire three subsidiaries of Telef贸nica in Central America in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Telefon铆a Celular de Nicaragua, S.A. adds approximately 4 million mobile customers to TIGO with a 4G network that is accessible to 51% of the population in Nicaragua. 

The deal accelerates the execution of Millicom’s fixed-mobile convergence strategy, it helps consolidate the company’s leadership position in Central America, and it diversifies and balances the geographic footprint of the company in its mission to build digital highways and opportunities therefore connecting more users and developing communities throughout the region.

The agreement was initially struck in February to buy three Central American units from Telefonica for $1.7 billion. Deals for Telefonica’s operations in Panama and Costa Rica are still undergoing regulatory review.

Millicom says the newly acquired assets complement its operations in Central America, and that it will now be able to cross-sell mobile services to its existing cable customers and cable services to Telef贸nica’s mobile customers.

All of the three Central American countries have among the highest disposable income levels in the region, but penetration rates for digital services are relatively low.

Millicom operates in Bolivia, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Paraguay under the Tigo brand, serving more than 50 million mobile telephone customers and 3.3 million households.

The chart above gives a good summary of the Spectrum in use in Nicaragua. At present 3G and 4G is in use but the coverage needs improvement in the future. 

Related Posts:

Friday, 31 May 2019

SK Telecom's 5G Strategy and Services

No doubt SK Telecom is one the operators leading the way on 5G. Here we look at some of their exciting upcoming initiatives that will change the everyday lives of their customers.

Firstly regarding autonomous driving: SK Telecom and Seoul Metropolitan Government have entered into an agreement to jointly develop and verify HD Map technologies for autonomous driving. They will cooperate on the development of services for HD Map covering a total of 121 kilometers of public roads. These roads have been selected by Seoul’s Cooperative-Intelligent Transport System (C-ITS) project, by installing 5G Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to 1,600 buses and 100 taxis. This project is designed to develop a transportation system infrastructure, including a 5G network and V2X system, on major roads of Seoul. In January this year, SK Telecom won a contract to deploy 5G infrastructure and services in the area. A total of 1,700 units of 5G ADAS installed in buses and taxis will collect 124 different types of road/traffic information and transmit the data via 5G network to support real-time update of the HD map. 5G ADAS, installed in public transportation vehicles, are designed to support vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication.

SK Telecom and the Seoul Government also intend to create an autonomous driving ecosystem by opening up related infrastructure such as HD maps and data collected by 5G ADAS. The operator has announced a collaboration with three Korean cities — Songdo, Yeongjong, and Cheongna — to use 5G for “HD maps” that will cover 132.9 square kilometers down to the centimeter, including lanes, road slopes, and speed limits. They expect that the maps will be updated in real time with changes including road conditions, all in the service of enabling self-driving vehicles to safely travel the roads.

Regarding the introduction of 5G technology into hospitals; SK Telecom has signed a MOU with Yonsei University Health System to provide digital solutions across 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and the Internet of Things (IoT) for their hospital intended to open in February 2020.

According to SK Telecom:
"The 5G-powered digital hospital will be equipped with SK Telecom's AI speaker NUGU to enable patients with physical difficulties to easily control their beds, lighting, and TV with their voice. They can even use NUGU Call service to get medical assistance in case of emergencies. Moreover, the 5G-powered digital hospital will offer AR-based indoor navigation service through the application of indoor positioning and 3D-mapping technologies to enhance the convenience of patients and visitors."
Patients in isolation wards will also be able to receive visitors via holographic projections, the carrier said, while facial recognition technology will be used for medical workers to improve security.

"Authorised personnel can automatically gain access to buildings, labs, and other rooms through a facial recognition access control system.Unlike other access control systems that require some kind of contact -- fingerprint, pass, etc -- the face recognition system allows contact-free entry to help reduce the risk of infection."
SK Telecom and the Yonsei University Health System will continue to apply innovative 5G-based hospital solutions to the Yongin Severance Hospital and then to all hospitals under the Yonsei University Health System.

Regarding augmented and virtual reality these are key areas of focus for the operator. Using augmented reality technology, the large fire-breathing dragon was streamed flying around the SK Happy Dream Park during the opening day of the Korea Baseball Organization.

The dragon was streamed both to the LED baseball scoreboard installed at the stadium and via sports broadcasting channels for fans watching the game on TV and smartphones.

To achieve large scale augmented reality streaming, SK Telecom used its self-developed augmented and virtual reality technologies including the eSpace and T real Platform solutions.

The demonstration arose from SK Telecom's focus on the development of 5G-based services to support its commercial network, which launched in December last year.

Another major way SK Telecom want to incorporate this new technology into everyday life is through 5G-powered offices.

One such technology applied to the 5G smart office is a “5G walking-through system,” where people can pass through the entrance via face recognition. Employees had been required to carry identification tags to get through security at the entrance.
Workers are also able to convene remote conferences similar to those seen in sci-fi movies. While not as advanced as creating holograms in the real world, attendees could talk to each other’s avatars in cyberspace.

The telecom company said it established the smart systems at its office in Seoul and has been operating it as a test bed. It plans to develop and specify business models in cooperation with cloud service providers as well as hardware and software partners.
SK Telecom said it installed IoT sensors at places such as ceilings and corridors of the office to collect information on temperature, brightness and humidity. Such information is delivered to servers in real time, and air conditioners and other devices are controlled automatically.

The 5G virtual desktop infrastructure (VID) docking system enables to workers to do their work even if they do not have a laptop or PC by connecting their smartphones to the docking pad. "T real telepresence" is a system combining VR and AR technologies, enabling workers at different locations to have a meeting and watch visual materials together though simultaneous log-ins. The 5G cafeteria offers an unmanned vending machine powered by AI technology as well as a barista robot.

In fact the South Korea’s government recently announced that it expects its robot industry to grow to 15 trillion won ($12.6 billion) by 2023, from 5.7 trillion won in 2018. On March 21 it said supporting the industry is a key national goal. Some of the growth will come from the use of robots in elder care, medicine, and logistics, as well as in entertainment and other service industries.

SK Telecom is making an AI speaker that will project holograms of K-pop stars and other celebrities. The technology is being developed for use in concerts and other performances. 

“AI would become like friends that could be accessible anywhere and anytime,” says Cho Ikhwan, a leader of the augmented-reality and virtual-reality development team at SK Telecom. “It’s a totally new experience to feel AI robots come alive.”

In the Brooklyn 5G Summit Recently, Mr. Jong Kwan Park, SK Telecom, gives a snapshot of the Korean 5G customer and the achievements of the company regarding its 5G journey and deployment specifications. The talk is embedded below:

Further reading on SK Telecom:

Sunday, 26 May 2019

NOS, Portugal demonstrates 5G for Smart Cities

NOS did a live demonstration of 5G at Portugal Smart Cities Summit. According to NOS LinkedIn company page (using Google translate):

NOS announces today the company's solutions to meet the challenges of digital transformation of cities and marks the event with the first demonstration supported in 5G Second, Manuel Ramalho Eanes, executive director of NOS: "With the NOS tomorrow's super cities are already being built today. All the partnerships we have been doing (...) aim to leave the municipalities already prepared for the potential of the new mobile generation. The 5G will be a key enabler in building 5.0 partnerships, where machines will be at the service of citizens. "

According to Telecom Paper:

Portuguese operator Nos is conducting a live 5G demonstration at the Portugal Smart Cities Summit in partnership with Huawei. The demo is focused on remote driving of vehicles, simulating a safety and emergency situation. 

Nos said the demonstration will show the difference the new generation of mobile communications brings in terms of response time (latency). It will also illustrate the application of technology in the field of safety in the community, with a view to future response capacity and autonomy of emergency prevention and combat services. In order to conduct the 5G demo, Nos requested from Anacom spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band.

According to PortugalResident:

It was a simulation of an emergency situation where vehicles had to be action “from a distance”.

Various reports have explained how NOS regularly tests its developing technology and has “absolute faith” in its Huawei partners.

“International concerns” are not going to do away with 18 months of work and investment within the company, said Ramalho Eanes, stressing that aside from its partnership with Huawei, NOS is “working with Nokia to ensure the availability to the Portuguese market of 5G masts and technology”.

Yesterday’s test event involved a Huawei mast being installed at the corner of FIL’s Pavilion 1.

“In the middle of the pavilion were two driving simulators with virtual reality goggles”, explains Observador.

Operators were able to show how, with 5G, its possible to control emergency vehicles, like fire engines, from a distance.

Granted, the speeds at which these vehicles travel do not exceed 20 km/ h yet, but the advantages, in terms of removing the risks to humans in hostile environments were highlighted.

NOS is not revealing for now how much it has invested in 5G, but Ramalho Eanes stressed the company’s commitment to rolling out the network in partnership with Huawei.

According to Algarve for explorers:

Portugal on the Smart Cities Summit in Lisbon NOS is in the process of being presented in five major themed areas: the environment, energy, waste, mobility and security. Installed in the data centers of the communication group's solutions are already being implemented in test communities, according to NOS. According to these figures, in the areas of energy efficiency in buildings, smart street lighting, remote management of water supply networks, weather-dependent irrigation in parks and gardens, waste management, smart parking, vehicle fleet management, reporting and event organization.

During the three-day event in Lisbon NOS representatives wanted to discuss the issue of cyber security and resource efficiency and other issues, according to the press release. Since Huawei's participation is likely to be one of the hotter iron.

Related items:

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Millicom targets Leadership Position in Central America with acquisition of Telef贸nica Subsidiaries

Millicom announced last week that it has closed the acquisition of Telefon铆a Celular de Nicaragua, S.A., the number one mobile operator in the country, adding to its existing cable operation of TIGO Nicaragua. This is the first transaction to close since Millicom announced in February an agreement to acquire three subsidiaries of Telef贸nica in Central America in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

Telefon铆a Celular de Nicaragua, S.A. adds approximately 4 million mobile customers to TIGO with a 4G network accessible to 51% of the population in Nicaragua. The transaction accelerates the execution of Millicom’s fixed-mobile convergence strategy, it helps consolidate the company’s leadership position in Central America, and it diversifies and balances the geographic footprint of the company in its mission to build digital highways that connect more users and develop communities throughout the region.

For people who are not aware, Central America consists of 7 countries, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Of these, Millicom is present in 5 of them with their brand Tigo.

This transaction in Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua will allow Millicom to accelerate its Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) strategy.

In Panama, after the acquisition:

  • #1 mobile operator in a four-player market with 1.6 million customers
  • 4G network covers 74% of population
  • Revenue and Adjusted EBITDA CAGRs of approximately 4% and 7%, respectively, in 2015-2018, in US dollar terms
  • 2018 revenue of $223 million and Adjusted EBITDA of $90 million, resulting in a margin near 41%
  • Dollarized economy and investment grade country increasing Millicom’s US dollar revenue sources

In Costa Rica, after the acquisition:

  • #2 mobile operator in a three-player market with 2.4 million customers
  • 4G network covers 85% of population
  • Revenue CAGR of approximately 13% in 2015-2018, in US dollar terms, drove much faster EBITDA growth over the period
  • 2018 revenue of $253 million and EBITDA of $60 million, resulting in a margin near 24%

In Nicaragua, after the acquisition:

  • #1 mobile operator in a two-player market with 4.7 million customers
  • 4G network covers 51% of the population
  • Revenue has declined at a 2.5% CAGR in US dollar terms in 2015-2018, due in part to a weaker currency and to slower overall economic activity
  • 2018 revenue of $232 million, nearly 50% of which are denominated in US dollars, and Adjusted EBITDA of $92 million, resulting in a margin near 40%

Finally, with regards to Spectrum the three countries:
Reasonable amount of spectrum is available for existing 3G & 4G services. Our assumption is that these will increase with arrival of 5G in these countries.


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Telus says 5G is just another 'G' (#5GJAG)

Ibrahim Gedeon, CTO of Telus, Canada said that and he's not happy with the industry's focus on speed. "We just spend more money and don't make more money," he said during a keynote presentation at Big 5G Event in Denver (embedded below). "5G is letting us down."

According to this Light Reading report:

Gedeon clearly isn't a fan of some of the more advanced "use cases" that are typically associated with 5G, either. "Can you please raise your hand if you would like to be one of the first people in the world to have a surgeon operate on you using a reliable network?" he joked. He seems equally unconvinced by talk of 5G-powered autonomous cars. Everyone appears to be doing their own thing, he said, perhaps alluding to some of the recent battles involving carmakers and telecom players over the technologies that will ultimately be used.

So what does Gedeon recommend? In a nutshell, he thinks there should be less focus on the radio side and more on how 5G will affect other parts of the telco network, and specifically the "edge" -- a promised land of opportunity for telcos that has been somewhat overlooked.

At least, it has been overlooked in some critical ways, according to Gedeon. While operators such as Verizon, in the US, and Deutsche Telekom, in Germany, are busy talking about their edge plans and trialing new services, the industry has yet to address some critical edge-related issues. Above all, if the edge means deploying the telco cloud and IT resources at customer premises, such as a sports stadium, then where is what Gedeon calls the "demark?" What does the customer actually own?

"We need to think of the demark. We need to think about APIs and gateways … Everyone talks about cloudifying, but everyone is busy doing EMBB [enhanced mobile broadband] and autonomous vehicles," said Gedeon.

It should be noted that Telus acquired reasonable amount of 600 MHz spectrum in Canadian spectrum auctions last month. Unfortunately that is the coverage layer spectrum and won't give good speeds.

The talk from Big 5G event can be viewed here.

Monday, 20 May 2019

The Maldives: Moving forward to 5G

The Maldives consists of numerous islands with a population of only 360,000. However their telecom market is bolstered by the steady and large influx of tourists. The vibrant tourist sector helps to account for the unusually high mobile penetration rate, though multiple SIM card use is also widely adopted. In addition a large number of expatriate workers require SIM cards on a semi-temporary basis

There are two licensed operators, Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun (Dhiraagu) and Ooredoo Maldives, they have both invested in HSPA and LTE infrastructure, providing coverage to all populated islands.  These developments have encouraged the take-up of mobile broadband services among subscribers. Both operators also provide fixed-line services.

Priority has been given to telecom infrastructure upgrades, with considerable success. There is a well-developed national network, though investment has been concentrated in the capital Mal茅 as well as in the tourist resort islands. The submarine cable connection to Sri Lanka improved international bandwidth and helped reduce access pricing for end-users. A second submarine cable linked the archipelago to India in 2006. Additional cables linking the main atolls has substantially strengthened domestic connectivity.

Dhiraagu is the leading and the largest provider of telecommunications and digital services in the Maldives. It's mostly owned by the Batelco Group from Bahrain and the Government of the Maldives. They have linked the Maldives from north to south through a 1,253 km long fibre optic submarine cable network which supports the nation's largest 3G and 4G/LTE and fixed broadband networks.

4G/LTE started in Male on 1800 MHz (band 3) frequency band and has been expanded in 2015 to a few more islands and the 2600 MHz (band 7). In 2016 they completed a campaign to provide 3G services to 100% of Maldivians on all inhabited islands, and its focus is now on offering nationwide coverage of its 4G/LTE network, which is currently available to 60% of the population. Dhiraagu is aiming to complete the 4G/LTEexpansion project by the end of 2017

Dhiraagu has installed about 35 WiFi hotspots in Male and more in a dozen other islands.
Dhiraagu has also completed the upgrade of the fixed broadband network in Mal茅, and  trialed 5G services in November 2018.

During the demonstration, Dhiraagu's Senior Manager of Brand, Marketing and Communication Mohamed Mirushan Hassan, initiated the download of a video, comparing the speed of a 5G network, and 4G network on two different screens.

While the 4G network took 11 minutes to complete the download, the 5G network took a mere 30 seconds. With this, Maldives has become the second South Asian country to demonstrate 5G services, with the first being neighbouring India. Mirushan declared that the 5G demonstration was made using the latest state of the art technology available and that showcasing this service is a step forward in Dhiraagu's role in the field of digital technology.

Speaking at the event held at Dhiraagu's head office, CEO Ismail Rasheed stated that 

"5G will increase speed. Without a delay, signals will be transmitted. Dhiraagu always looks at what the customer wants when introducing these services." 
He hoped to increase customer awareness for these technologies through these demonstrations.

According to Dhiraagu, 5G internet speeds will be 10 to 20 times faster than current 4G speeds. Furthermore, the company assured that the 5G network will be easier to sustain during natural disasters. Dhiraagu has made great advances in the fields of internet, communication and other digital services, with initiatives such as Dhiraagu TV and Dhiraagu-Pay. Apart from capital Male', the company has established high-speed internet to 45 islands.


Ooredoo was taken over and rebranded 2012 from Wataniya. It's the second mobile provider in the Maldives. LTE has started 2014 on 2600 MHz (band 7) in Male, now available to prepaid customers to be added by 2100 MHz (band 1).

Their coverage is good but not as good as Dhiraagu's, so make a network check before you buy a SIM card. In 2017 LTE coverage has spread to 40 inhabited and resort islands

Ooredoo and Huawei Marine complete nationwide submarine cable project;

Ooredoo Maldives has rolled out 4G network and upgraded its transmission network to full IP.Ooredoo became the first ever operator to provide 4G+ to all the islands of Maldives. In addition to this, Ooredoo also transformed their network to full IP and enhanced the data experience of their customers.

Ooredoo Maldives has also won 5G spectrum licence in February 2018 and showcased their 5G which utilizes internet of things (IoT).

The new revolutionary experience of 5G in 1.8 Gbps speed was showcased in the ‘Color run’ held on 23rd of November, and the service was inaugurated by the Vice President, Honorable Faisal Naseem.

The ‘Color Run‘ was held at Central Park of Hulhumale with over 5000 participants. As there is the fun of color play every 1 kilometer and since they do not hand out awards for those who finish early, this run became an opportunity to promote the fitness of the people and to have fun to the runner’s heart’s content.

Ooredoo proclaims that their companies top the efforts made to form the 5G ecosystem. Their work includes bringing network upgrades that lead to the human development and bring forth a revolution in the experiences that a customer goes through, and that this will prompt extensive inventions in a near future such as cars that run on 5G without drivers, flying taxis and delivery of goods with the use of a drone.