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.

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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. 

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