Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Vietnam on route to 5G

Vietnam is a fascinating country. Not just because of the stunning sights, sizzling beaches and sumptuous food for which the Rough Guides refer to it as magical, but also because of the mobile users.

According to Appota Group's Vietnam mobile app report:
Vietnam has a significant amount of young and middle-class consumer, along with high digital media consumption, as well as mobile gaming habit. Any enterprises who wish to tap into Vietnam should develop mobile-friendly websites, videos, pictures, apps, etc.  
  • 72% of the Vietnamese people own Smartphone. 
  • 68% of the Vietnamese come online via smartphone more often than computer 
  • 25% of the Vietnamese are frequent mobile internet users, engage in all online mobile-related activities. 
  • Many Vietnamese people own more than two Internet-connected devices, as the national average is 1.7%. 
  • 69% of The Vietnamese watch video and listening to music on their phone every day. 
The Vietnamese are willing to try new apps, but at the same time, they have the highest uninstall rate among APAC markets.
  • The Vietnamese people install five new apps every month on average resulting in a difficult challenge for publishers to retain user. 
  • Three apps are uninstalled every month on average by Vietnamese people.

There are 4 major GSM network operators in Vietnam: Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobifone and Vietnamobile.

Coverage and speeds are quite good for SE Asian standards: 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz. Viettel and Vinaphone introduced DC-HSPA in 2014, 4G/LTE is just being launched on 1800 and 2600 MHz (bands 3 and 7) after Viettel, Vinaphone, Mobifone and Gmobile received licenses in 2016, Vietnamobile in 2017. The three state-owned operators aim to increase 4G/LTE coverage to 95% each in 2019.

These four operators are tipped to receive licences to test 5G in January 2019. According to Nguyen Manh Hung, the country’s minister of Information and Communications:

“Vietnam should be among the first nations to launch 5G services in order to move up in global telecom rankings.” 
The country is pursuing a unique model of competition involving different state-owned operators to grow telecommunication networks.

Viettel is owned by the Ministry of Defence and thus the Vietnamese army. It's the market leader in Vietnam with about 40% (66 million subscribers) of all customers on its network.

It has the best coverage in remote places even on 3G. 4G/LTE was officially launched in April 2017 on 1800 MHz (B3) over 25,000 base stations in almost 95% of the country giving it the best 4G/LTE coverage in the country for now.

As prices don't differ so much between the 3 major operators, Viettel is usually the first choice when venturing into to rural areas.

Vittel plans to launch ultrafast 5G networks in 2021, a move expected to promote self-driving car systems and other cutting-edge services that depend on nearly instantaneous data communication. They have been working on 5G plans since 2015, and set up a research group for 5G technology and have mastered the software, core technology for 5G equipment, hardware design for high-frequency transmission and others. They intend to start making investments in infrastructure early next year and introduce the service first in big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Viettel already has the biggest telecom infrastructure, so the deployment will be quick.

For 5G, providers are ready with networks. The question is whether users are willing to use 5G and about the readiness of end-user equipment. When the market and end-user equipment are available, 5G deployment is very easy.

Vinaphone is the second operator in Vietnam. It's owned by the government through the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT). It has a market share of 30% and is the local partner of Vodafone. It gives a good coverage and speed throughout the country. 4G/LTE has been started on Phu Quoc island in 2016 and is now rolled out nationwide.

Vinaphone has installed more than 21,000 4G base transceiver stations (BTS) nationwide. This number will reach over 30,000 by 2019 to cover 4G VinaPhone service to 95% of Vietnamese population.

According to chairman Tran Manh Hung, Vinaphone are seeking permission from the Ministry of Information and Communications to beta test 5G. He said the test would help them master the technology and prepare to produce 5G equipment, adding Vinaphone is ready to provide 5G services as soon as it gets the ministry green light. Vinaphone has also partnered with Nokia on 5G development. 

Mobifone is the 3rd provider in the country with a 18% market share. It's in the process of privatisation. Speeds and coverage may be good in the centers and around the coast, but can be patchy.

Mobifone's 4G started in 2016 in Hanoi, Da Nang and HCMC on 1800 and 2600 MHz (B3,7) and is open for prepaid without surcharge.Earlier this year signed they an agreement with Samsung Electronics for engineering and commercial cooperation on 4G and 5G networks.

Vietnamobile is the smallest of the 4 providers and the only one that is privately owned. It gives out the best prices in Vietnam and has a market share of around 10%.

In 2011 they started with 3G services in Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang and Hanoi, but since then 3G coverage has been expanded to Ba Ria-Vung Tau, An Giang, Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Dong Thap, Long An, Dong Nai, Thai Nguyen and Binh Duong. In 2017 it covers 90% of the population in all 63 cities and provinces by 3G, but overage is still lower as on the state-owned providers. 4G/LTE is going to start and is already advertised in 2018 started as they were awarded a licence to provide 4G/LTE services in 2017.

Vietnam’s telecom market was estimated at more than $16 billion in 2016, with the three state-owned providers, Viettel, MobiFone, and Vinaphone, accounting for 95 percent of the market.

While MobiFone and Vinaphone are on the list of state-owned companies slated for privatization by 2020, Viettel will remain in government hands.

Vietnam has a unique model of competition; state-owned enterprises have driven a high level of mobile access including in rural areas. The launch of LTE networks and then 5G technology will drive up even more demand for higher-speed broadband.

The following report from Appota makes an interesting reading

Sunday, 2 December 2018

All three mobile network operators in South Korea launched 5G on Dec 1, 2018

Last week we mentioned that all three South Korean operators will be launching 5G jointly in March 2019. In the meantime a decision was made and 5G was launched on Dec 1, 2018. We hope to get more details in the coming few weeks but we added few videos and pictures on this on our tweets. They are embedded below.

The following is also a video from the 5G launch by SK Telecom

Friday, 30 November 2018

5G plans by UK Operators - Nov 2018

Vodafone: 1000 live 5G sites by 2020
  • Back in June, Vodafone announced 7 cities will be part of 5G trials starting in July.
  • In October, Vodafone announced that they have became the first company in the UK to carry full 5G over a commercial network. Live mobile data traffic was being streamed to and from the Internet exclusively over 5G from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester, connected to Vodafone’s nationwide converged fibre network.
  • Vodafone further said as a part of the same announcement that their network engineers were already achieving high-speed Internet connectivity and low latency from the Salford site using Active Antenna (Massive MIMO) technology. This effectively provides multiple-data ‘channels’ from a single antenna, coupled with the 3.4GHz 5G spectrum. Vodafone secured the largest block of this 5G spectrum at this year’s auction.
  • In September, Vodafone made UK’s first holographic call using 5G.
  • Vodafone is planning commercial network and 1,000 5G sites by 2020

The video of the first live holographic call is below:

EE/BT: 1,500 sites, 16 cities with 5G in 2019

  • EE, part of BT Group, has nine live 5G trial sites across East London.
  • Some of the learning as part of this announcement included the fact that rooftop sites often need significant strengthening to carry the new 50 kg 5G antennas – and some sites house three of these (3 sectors)
  • EE launching 5G within 16 UK cities in 2019, roughly 1,500 sites
  • EE is upgrading transmission to 10Gbps links at each 5G site
  • 5G Smartphones to be introduced alongside 5G Home router for 5G broadband
  • EE also building next generation 5G core network, with virtualised network functions on a cloud native infrastructure
  • BT Sport showcased first live trial of remote production broadcast live over EE’s 5G network

‘3’ UK Committed to Invest Over £2bn into 5G

  • According to Three press release: It’s committed spend to date covers the acquisition of the UK’s leading 5G spectrum position, new 5G radio equipment and cell site upgrades, high-capacity dark fibre network, the world’s first end-to-end cloud-based core network, and new digital systems that will enhance user experience
  • The first commercial quantities of 5G smartphone and home broadband devices are expected to be available by H2 2019. 
  • According to CCS Insight, Three now owns about 24 percent of all spectrum suitable for 4G and 5G services. This, it says, places it ahead of BT (21 percent), Vodafone (19 percent) and O2 (15 percent). The remaining 20 percent, which consists of 700 MHz and 3.6 GHz airwaves, is earmarked for sale by Ofcom in late 2019.
  • Customers of Three already use 7.6GB of data per month, more than three times the industry average. Based on projections from Ofcom, Dave Dyson, CEO, sees a scenario in which this usage surges to 90GB per month in 2025. Note that this prediction has increased from 56 GB per month in 2025 as we earlier reported.

O2: Massive MIMO Pilot to prepare for 5G

  • O2 has the least amount of announcements and information on 5G. In a recent press release, it announced that it has launched a pilot to boost London network ahead of 5G.
  • The pilot is effectively saying that O2 is working with Nokia on two Massive MIMO trials in Kings Cross and Marble Arch (in London), aimed at enhancing connectivity for O2 customers and paving the way for the future deployment of 5G across the capital.
  • The pilot is in the newly acquired 2.3 GHz spectrum.
  • The pilot will lay the foundation for the next-generation of mobile connectivity– 5G.
  • On the positive side, Ofcom confirmed that O2 had delivered against its commitment to provide 98% indoor 4G coverage and 90% geographical landmass mass coverage across the UK. 

Monday, 26 November 2018

South Korea Telcos: United in 5G Launch

South Korea has ambitions to be the first country to roll-out 5G and their three major mobile operators will work together to launch 5G networks at the same time in 2019 to “avoid excessive competition” and ensure the country is the first to launch the next-generation technology. This is discounting the fact that San Marino already launched nationwide 5G but its just a city state and the 5G launch does not really qualify to be considered a nationwide launch

SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus have agreed to jointly introduce 5G services on “Korea 5G Day”, which is likely to be sometime in March 2019.

The South Korean government in April of this year mandated that operators collaborate on 5G deployments by sharing core fibre infrastructure, rather than RANs, in a bid to reduce the cost of rolling out the technology and so enable operators to pass on the savings to customers.

The triumvirate of mobile carriers plan to provide 5G services using mobile routers providing mobile connections for Wi-Fi devices, first rather than smartphones. The services on smartphones will be available a month later.

In an interview with The Korea Times, ICT Minister Yoo Young-min stressed the need for the government and companies to closely cooperate to reach the goal:

"The world's first 5G commercialization is very meaningful in that Korea will have an advantageous position in the global market and take the leadership. Amid intensifying competition among global mobile carriers, it is significant for the government and companies to join hands and reach the goal together."

There has been much speculation and discussion on who would be chosen to supply the 5G network equipment.

KT has chosen Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Nokia. As expected, Huawei was excluded from the list. They elaborated:

“In choosing 5G equipment providers, the company considered a wide range of factors: the level of technology, investment costs and management stability based on the compatibility with the existing LTE network.”

SK Telecom named Samsung Electronics, Ericsson and Nokia as its 5G equipment providers. SK Telecom have recently opened one of their first commercial fifth-generation base stations in the central area of Seoul. Using equipment manufactured by Samsung Electronics, SKT introduced a 24-kilogram rectangular active antenna unit for the 3.5-gigahertz frequency band -- 1 meter in height and 23 centimeters in width -- installed at the rooftop of a small hotel building in Myeong-dong, one of the most crowded areas in Seoul. Compared to the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution antenna units hung at the rooftop railing, the 5G antenna unit consisting of a total of 32 individual antennas looked noticeably smaller and more compact, requiring just 10 square-meters of space for installation. 

Huawei was also excluded by them for the second time now despite having participated in internal tests along with the three selected.

SKT and KT’s choices were anticipated because both had used equipment from Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia for their 4G LTE networks.

LG U+ is the only one among Korea’s three mobile carriers that has not yet announced 5G equipment suppliers. The smallest mobile carrier is likely to include Huawei on its list. It partnered with the Chinese company for its 4G LTE network, along with Samsung, Ericsson and Nokia.

The biggest advantage of Huawei’s 5G equipment is cost efficiency. The Chinese company is known to charge prices that are 20 to 30 percent lower than other global competitors for high-quality 5G equipment. However the major issue with Huawei are the security concerns.
Due to its ties to the Chinese government, there have been worries that the company’s equipment may be used for spying. In August of this year, the U.S. and Australian governments banned Huawei from supplying equipment for their 5G wireless infrastructure citing security reasons. Britain said in July it “is less confident” about the integrity of Huawei products.

Huawei has been denying such allegations.

In a press release last month, the Chinese tech company highlighted that, despite ongoing security concerns, there has been zero cases of actual information leakage in the past.

Samsung is aiming to control 20 percent of the global market for 5G network equipment in 2020, the head of the company's network business has said. Samsung Electronics President Kim Young-ky claimed that the company is not a newcomer to the network equipment industry as it has been supplying products in this field for the past 20 years. According to the data compiled by industry tracker Dell'Oro, Samsung Electronics took up 11 percent of the global market for fourth-generation (4G) network equipment in the second quarter of this year.

Related Posts:

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Optus launching commercial 5G Fixed Wireless Access services in January 2019

Optus is the second largest telecommunications company in Australia. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of SingTel (a company headquartered in Singapore) since 2001.

As of 31 October 2018, Optus’ 4G network population coverage was 97.2% in Australia, with 7,011 sites upgraded to 4G of which over 5,990 have been upgraded to 700 MHz spectrum. The total 4G customer base reached 6.39 million (Including Enterprise customers, Optus’ total number of 4G customers reached 6.48 million) as of 30 September 2018. They believe that all Australians deserve high quality mobile coverage are committed to relentless improvement, especially to the roll-out of 5G.

During this quarter, Optus launched the 50th Federal Government Blackspot. In addition, Optus successfully concluded “live” 5G network trial in Sydney, paving the way for the commercial launch of Fixed Wireless Access services in Canberra and Brisbane in January 2019, and other capital cities by March 2019. 

Optus' road to 5G saw it begin switching on its 4.5G network in February last year, followed by the addition of Massive Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (Massive MIMO) and three-cell carrier aggregation to 4G at the end of last year.

According to chief executive officer Allen Lew, Optus has now finished trials at its HQ in Macquarie Park; its 5G Live centre in the Gold Coast is stage two of its 5G plan, as it will allow the telco to gather data on how consumers interact with and react to the low-latency, high-bandwidth capabilities of 5G and the technologies it enables.
Optus is also inviting "young entrepreneurs" to visit the showcase -- which utilises both indoor and outdoor 5G base stations -- and commercialise any ideas they come up with, which will also help Optus to decide who to partner with.
While according to Optus head of Networks Dennis Wong  5G is the final piece of the "industrialisation puzzle" -- due to its characteristics of low latency, high bandwidth, network slicing architecture, and massive machine type communications -- Wong said Optus is well positioned to deliver a 5G network thanks to its holdings in the 3.5GHz spectrum band.

To learn more about Fixed Wireless Access, see 3G4G Blog post here.

See also:

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

India: BSNL - WiFi Today, 5G in 2020

India is speeding ahead in a digital super-highway. The draft National Digital Communication Policy (NDCP) 2018 states following 2022 Goals:
a. Provide Universal broadband coverage at 50 Mbps to every citizen
b. Provide 1 Gbps connectivity to all Gram Panchayats of India by 2020 and 10 Gbps by 2022
c. Enable 100 Mbps broadband on demand to all key development institutions; including all educational institutions
d. Enable fixed line broadband access to 50% of households
e. Achieve ‘unique mobile subscriber density’ of 55 by 2020 and 65 by 2022
f. Enable deployment of public Wi-Fi Hotspots; to reach 5 million by 2020 and 10 million by 2022
g. Ensure connectivity to all uncovered areas

Digital India is already transforming the lives of 1.3 billion people. There is growth in e-governance, there is some progress towards cashless society, smart cities are growing and 'Made in India' smartphones are growing

With a view to narrow the digital infrastructure gap with the developed economies, the government is looking at establishing a ‘National Broadband Mission – Rashtriya Broadband Abhiyan’ to secure universal broadband access. The Draft NDCP 2018 has the following clauses:

(a) Implementation of the following broadband initiatives, to be funded through USOF and Public Private Partnerships:  i. BharatNet – Providing 1 Gbps to Gram Panchayats upgradeable to 10 Gbps  ii. GramNet – Connecting all key rural development institutions with 10 Mbps upgradeable to 100 Mbps  iii. NagarNet – Establishing 1 Million public Wi-Fi Hotspots in urban areas  iv. JanWiFi – Establishing 2 Million Wi-Fi Hotspots in rural areas 
(b) Implementing a ‘Fibre First Initiative’ to take fibre to the home, to enterprises and to key development institutions in Tier I, II and III towns and to rural clusters:  i. According Telecom Optic Fibre cables the status of Public utility  ii. Promoting collaboration models involving state, local bodies and private sector as necessary for provision of shared duct infrastructure in municipalities, rural areas and national highways  iii. Facilitating Fibre-to-the-tower programme to enable fiberisation of at least 60% base stations thereby accelerating migration to 4G/5G  iv. Leveraging existing assets of the broadcasting and power sector to improve connectivity, affordability and sustainability  v. Incentivising and promoting fibre connectivity for all new developmental construction  vi. By making requirement for telecom installations and the associated cabling and in-building solutions mandatory in in all commercial, residential and office spaces by amending National Building Code of India (NBC), through Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 
(d) Facilitate the establishment of Mobile Tower Infrastructure by:  i. Extending incentives and exemptions for the construction of telecom towers  ii. According accelerated Rights of Way permissions for telecom towers in government premises  iii. Promoting deployment of solar and green energy for telecom towers 
(e) Improve international connectivity and reduce the cost of international bandwidth by facilitating setting up of International Cable Landing Stations by rationalising access charges and removing regulatory hurdles  i. Encourage sharing of active infrastructure by enhancing the scope of Infrastructure Providers (IP) and promoting deployment of common sharable, passive as well as active, infrastructure;
There are other clauses related to spectrum that we would not discuss here
State owned Indian telecom corporation Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) announced in March of this year that they had deployed 18,000 hotspots around the country and planned to deploy a total of 1,00,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across India by the end of 2018.

On that day BSNL, in partnership with QuadGen,  launched free wi-fi services at Udwada village, Valsad district in Gujarat. The village has been adopted by Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Minister Smriti Irani under Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.

Speaking on the occasion, Irani - who is also Minister for Textiles - said,

"With the launch of wi-fi service today in Udwada village, population of 6,000 in the village, as well as its surrounding areas will be benefited. People in Udwada and surrounding areas will be able to use unlimited internet data and Udwada village has become digital village". 

The hotspots cover nearly 90 per cent of the village and will service multiple concurrent users at any point of time.

Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha hoped this service as part of the Digital India programme will fuel the availability of affordable data and voice services in the country. He asserted:

"The Digital India movement has ensured that the country has the cheapest data and voice services in the world. Today, India uses more data than the US and China, combined." 

More recently  BSNL has entered into a deal with Japan’s Softbank and NTT Communications to rollout 5G and internet of things (IoT) technology in India.

“We have signed an agreement with Softbank and NTT Communications to roll out 5G and IoT products and services in India. Under the agreement, we will look at solution specially for the smart cities,”

Stated BSNL chairman and managing director Anupam Shrivastava in an interview.
He said most of the BSNL competitors are still looking at monetising their 4G services and hence leading companies have started looking at the State-run firm for 5G services roll out. According to Mr Shrivastava:

“We have benefited by lead taken by our minister (Manoj Sinha). He has held various meetings at global level on 5G. We capitalised on those opportunities and signed agreement for the next generation technology. 3G was launched in India after seven years the technology was available in other foreign markets and 4G services after four years’ lag but 5G will be launched in India in 2020 as soon the standards are freezed by ITU."

Telecom minister Mr. Sinha has said that 5G service launch in India will happen at par with other leading nations.

Mr Shrivastava insists BSNL is working to finalise test cases where 5G can be used in India:
“We are in advance stages of starting 5G field trials. Government is in agreement to provide us 5G spectrum for trials. We expect to start field trials very soon,”

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recommended the auction of about 8,644 MHz of telecom frequencies at an estimated base price of ₹ 4.9 lakh crore. The government is yet to finalise details of allocation of spectrum for 5G services.

Under the agreement with Softbank, BSNL will look at collaborating with the Japanese firm for its satellite constellation which will have around 900 satellites to provide high speed internet services across the globe.

BSNL has signed an agreement with Nokia and Cisco as well for developing 5G ecosystem.

BSNL has also and Swedish telecommunication gear maker Ericsson have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) over 5G and Internet of Things. The two will create a joint roadmap for the development of 5G and IoT in India, a joint statement to the media said. This new partnership with see BSNL and Ericsson develop “5G use cases, knowledge sharing on 5G technology concepts, industry and innovation trends including 3GPP standardisation progress.”

Meanwhile a week ago Nokia announced that it will supply, install, commission and maintain the Smart Telecom Poles across India in all of BSNL's telecom circles.

Under the contract, Nokia will also integrate the poles with smart LED lighting systems, CCTV cameras, digital billboards and environmental sensors that provide strong revenue generation potential for the operator.
The smart pole has been designed for emerging markets and built in India based on Nokia's global services expertise. With its Smart Telecom Pole and services expertise, Nokia will help BSNL provide access to mobile connectivity and smart solutions for citizens while ensuring the poles meet the aesthetic and spatial needs in modern cities. Nokia will optimize the telecom infrastructure to provide a shared, secure and scalable platform that ensures the best use of urban resources and prepares BSNL for the needs of new technologies such as IoT and 5G. The pole can be adapted to diverse geographical environments and climate conditions. It also houses a custom-designed power backup solution to provide continuity of services during power outages.

No doubt with these ambitious deals and plans BSNL is very much competing with Reliance Jio and not taking the roll out of Jio GigaFiber lightly and is doing its bit to maintain its market share in the fiber to the home (FTTH) segment.

BSNL Broadband has apparently once more revised its FTTH broadband plans to now offer more data and faster broadband speeds. BSNL Broadband is offering up to 100Mbps speeds till 750GB, and up to 2 Mbps speed beyond that limit at Rs 1277 monthly and Rs 14,047 annual charges. This facility is available for all users in all circles. 

Jio GigaFiber is offering 100Mbps speeds as well but for free for a period of three months at a onetime security deposit fee of Rs 4500.

BSNL Broadband too is taking no charges for activation and installation, but users are required to pay onetime security deposit fee of Rs 500 and ONT along with ADSL WiFi Modem charges come at Rs 200 rental per month and security deposit charges (refundable) of Rs 1500.

BSNL Broadband also recently announced an exciting offer for the Chennai circle. BSNL Broadband plans priced at Rs. 999, Rs. 1,299, Rs. 1,699, Rs. 1,999, Rs. 2,999, and Rs. 4,999, have reportedly been revised and upgraded to offer more benefits with speeds of up to 100Mbps and high speed data limits of up to 3.5TB, refreshed on a monthly basis, according to a report on NDTV.

However, what may give Jio GigaFiber the edge is the fact that they are offering a ‘connected home’, which means that Jio GigaFiber router will be able to connect with the Jio DTH and Reliance Jio enabled smartphones, thus converting a house into a smart home. Reliance Jio is also expected to offer all this at prices as low as Rs 500 per month.

Ultra HD entertainment, multi-party video conferencing, virtual reality gaming, shopping and smart home solutions at an affordable price is what is being offered by Jio GigaFiber. So, how existing broadband players adapt to this challenge can be seen after the commercial rollout of Jio GigaFiber.