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Day Two at Mobile World Congress 2023

5G News India

The second day at the Barcelona event began with a keynote focused on telecoms innovation, and the impact that these pioneering technologies are having on global industries.

Some of the stalwarts including James Taiclet, Chairman, President, and CEO of Lockheed Martin; Raymond Dolan, Chairman and CEO of Cohere Technologies; Vicki Brady, CEO of Telstra; and Takayuki Morita, President and CEO of NEC Corporation were present.

The keynote opened with James Taiclet sharing his insights into the role that GPS and communication technologies are playing in NASA space explorations.

The second keynote asked the question – Are we entering an era defined by who your partners are? With technological innovations, CX developments, and the new ground being broken in 5G, the field is ripe for new collaborations, in both the physical and virtual worlds. After all, the fully connected and intelligent world of the future cannot be achieved by companies working in isolation.

One of the headline speakers of the day’s second keynote was Cher Wang, Chairperson and CEO, of HTC, sharing her insights into the emerging path of digital collaboration. “I believe that, by merging technology with humanity, we can unleash imagination and fundamentally change the way people communicate and interact in the world, forever,” said Wang. “A question I continue to find myself asking is, in the era of the metaverse, what are steps we can take to continue encouraging imagination, connection, and sharing our stories? I believe the answer to this lies in collaboration and co-creation. What I mean by this is, there is no single company or solution that can make this happen alone. But, by working together, we can not only create new and exciting experiences but also shape the future of technology and humanity itself.”

As the day progressed, as happens every year, when CEOs takeoff against the powers that be, Tim Hoettges, CEO, of Deutsche Telecom, argued Europe was all but dead in terms of global relevance, slating a regulatory environment that hinders operator consolidation and does little to make large web companies pay a fair share towards connectivity costs. Hoettges highlighted disparities between the European mobile market and its global counterparts, including a 5G coverage rate of 73 percent compared with 96 percent in the US and around 90 percent in Asia Pacific. European operators pumped €55 billion into infrastructure alone in 2022 compared with €1 billion invested in connectivity by hyperscalers.

Hoettges argued enabling operators to capitalize on their investments would bring broad benefits in terms of digitalization and even for the environment, citing the lower power consumption of 5G networks relative to earlier generations. And he called for action to bring “the masses into the luxury of the 5G system”, by making devices more affordable.

Hoettges seemed to have followed in the keynote wake of Orange CEO Christel Heydemann, who hammered home the message that telecom network business models are so limited that (once again) the European telco community is having an existential crisis, with some operators not expecting to be in business in the next decade.

Meanwhile, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market and member of the European Commission was also at the podium in Barcelona, seeking to position himself as objective and non-partisan, while also highlighting the complexity of all the issues in question. “Allow me to make a comment on the much-debated issue of ‘fair share’. The consultation has been described by many as the battle over fair share between big telco and big tech — a binary choice between those who provide networks today and those who feed them with the traffic. That is not how I see things,” stated Breton. The real challenge, according to the commissioner, is to ensure European citizens and businesses have access to fast and data-intense gigabit connectivity by 2030. “And for that, we need the connectivity networks – highways – of the future. That is the vision. It is not about whether one vested interest should prevail over another,” he stated. The Dutch government has reportedly cautioned against charging tech companies with a so-called ‘internet tax’. Finding a solution that doesn’t lead to years of legal battles and recriminations is going to be very tough.

The hyper scalers, however, seemed happy to be there. Amazon Web Services (AWS) made a number of announcements last week, and Microsoft Azure unleashed a slew of announcements tailored to the needs of communications service providers and, specifically, their enterprise customers at the Show. Microsoft’s main key customer reference is still AT&T, which is running its 5G standalone core on the platform, while Ericsson, Nokia, and Mavenir have all made their mobile core applications available via the Nexus platform.

Qualcomm and NEC, in a joint move to push the commercialization of next-generation networks, have introduced a new virtualized distributed unit (vDU) from NEC, powered by the Qualcomm X100 5G RAN Accelerator Card, HPE ProLiant DL110 Platform, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. According to NEC, the solution aims to tackle “the ever-growing capacity challenges and low latency needs of networks of the future and satisfy the demands of consumer digital experiences.” The offering is also set to help operators roll out future 3GPP release features, lengthen platform lifespan and reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) – all deemed critical to ushering in the next wave of digital transformation.

Qualcomm is also integral to another significant announcement that was made: Mavenir has launched a massive MIMO (mMIMO) radio featuring Qualcomm’s QRU100 5G RAN platform, which is touted as having “industry-leading energy-efficiency levels” using technology based on artificial intelligence (AI). The offering, called the OpenBeam massive MIMO (mMIMO) 32TRX Active Antenna Unit (AAU), is also set to boost network performance while enabling operators to simplify and lower the TCO of 5G rollouts.

Nokia also unveiled some new radio products and anyRAN, a new proposition for telcos and enterprises that allows network operators to choose from a range of hardware and cloud platforms to run Nokia’s Cloud RAN software stack. The company says that this has performance parity with its traditional RAN systems thanks to the development of a network interface card for in-line Layer 1 acceleration that can plug into servers from its partners.

Börje Ekholm, the CEO of Ericsson said that the vendor will focus on smaller acquisitions to beef up its enterprise offerings. Following the recent $6.2bn acquisition of Vonage and the $1.1bn takeover of Cradlepoint, Ericsson would prefer to consolidate what it already has and take the next steps following these moves. Apart from expanding its offerings for enterprises, the company is also said to maintain its focus on selling products to telcos and the long-term goal is for it to have “a more balanced portfolio”.

Some other announcements
“Open RAN has matured over the last months in both stability and performance, which has given us the confidence for an initial commercial deployment. Together with Nokia, Mavenir, and other ecosystem partners, we will use our collaboration as the springboard to accelerate open RAN development and create a path to deployment at scale.” Abdu Mudesir, Deutsche Telekom Group CTO & CTO Germany.

“4G was all about the consumer. And the majority of the value was captured outside of the telco industry. And 5G is all about enterprise. And the question is, how much can the telco industry capture it? And so I’m absolutely convinced that the 5G technology is going to be transformative. And in that sense, tech big tech and telco will come together because 5G technology will become even more pervasive in our lives than it has been so far. The question is what is the role of the telco in this in this market, some telcos are going very aggressive and realize that they need to go beyond horizontal capabilities because the real value is generated when you combine the connectivity with other things. And enterprise needs to always combine it with other capabilities. And so, telco operators will definitely have a role there whether that’s just supplying the connectivity and having somebody else do it, or a more active role depends on the telecom operator, but it’s going to happen. The only question is what role will the different actors take in the end on this market, but it will happen.” Richard Band, Solution Lead Mobile Core & 5G, HPE

“The GSMA has used this as an opportunity for us to work in a unified manner with the entire ecosystem. So if you think back to when we began negotiating and determining to roam so that mobile phones could travel across borders, this is similarly an opportunity for us to say, how do we want to work in this new framework that becomes web 3.0, and how we get greater cooperation there so that at the end of the day the consumer benefits by technology that’s more efficient, improves lives, etc.” Lara Dewar, CMO, GSMA after the launch of the Open Gateway Initiative.

“Advanced mobile network operators are transitioning quickly to 5G SA. Multi-component carrier aggregation propels 5G SA data rates to multi-Gigabit levels. With 5G Carrier Aggregation software, we enable our AirScale customers to provide the highest 5G data rates at more locations to their subscribers. With this successful 5CC CA test we once again highlight our leadership position in providing the technologies that support mobile operators in maximizing radio network performance and pushing them to the forefront of 5G.” Mark Atkinson, SVP, Radio Access Networks PLM, Nokia, at the showcase of successfully aggregating 5G Standalone (SA) spectrum using 5CC Carrier Aggregation (5CC CA) in sub-6 GHz spectrum along with Qualcomm Technologies and T-Mobile.

“We expect that Apple will do their own modem in 2024, but if they need ours they know where to find us.” Cristiano Amon, CEO, Qualcomm.

“From F5G to F5.5G, more than planning the future, we create it. Today, gigabit connectivity is rapidly growing more popular around the world. Looking towards 2025, diversified network requirements will require ubiquitous 10-gigabit connectivity. All industries need to work together to embrace F5.5G and stride to 10Gbps Everywhere. Huawei will join hands with global operators to accelerate network upgrades and the application of new technologies, helping operators continuously expand their business boundaries and seize opportunities with ultimate user experience to lead the future.” Richard Jin, President, Huawei’s Optical Business Product Line. During MWC 2023, Huawei launched three solutions — Huawei FTTR OptiXstar F30, the industry’s first commercial 50G PON, and Huawei OptiX Alps-WDM.

“5G growth will also come from key markets within APAC and LATAM, such as Brazil and India, which have recently launched 5G networks. India will be especially significant, with the expansion of services from Airtel and Jio in 2023 expected to be pivotal to the region’s ongoing adoption. GSMA Intelligence predicts there will be four 5G networks in India by the end of 2025, accounting for 145 million additional users.” Peter Jarich, Head of GSMA Intelligence

Having said that, there is an underlying negativity about 5G at the Show. Global 5G smartphone shipments have not revitalized the industry as much as expected, while carriers are struggling to monetize their expensive 5G network investments.

CT Bureau

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