5G industry news Acceleration & Innovation

Innovation Briefing Issue 10 | News Roundup

  • 18 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 8 Aug 2022
  • Last modified 2 Aug 2022
Round up of this issues top news stories

Enterprise 5G Requires New Models

BT and Ericssson have announced a partnership to work promote enterprise 5G that dips into BT’s new £100 million Division X fund. Hailed as the first agreement of its kind, the aim is for IoT and private 5G networks to be deployed more rapidly in the UK. Division X will fund deployment for such technologies, alongside edge computing, cloud computing, and AI.

5G Private Networks are expected to grow to $14 billion globally as organisations by 2028, as standalone 5G matures.

BT’s Marc Overton, MD for Division X, described 5G as “foundational”.

“5G private networks will also support smart factory processes and the advancement of Industry 4.0 which can realise significant cost savings and efficiencies for manufacturers,” BT said in a statement.

The two have already worked together, installing a 5G private network across 35 acres at Belfast Harbour. This enables a range of applications including CCTV, air quality monitors, drones and mi-fi dongles.  It is a subtle repositioning by industry, however.

“The original MNO vision of delivering enterprise networks as ‘5G network slices” partitioned from their national infrastructure has taken a back seat”, analyst Dean Bubley explained in a recent newsletter. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/telcos-should-focus-connected-data-just-edge-computing-dean-bubley/

“There is more interest currently in the creation of dedicated on-premise private 5G networks, via telcos’ enterprise or integrator units.”

But operators are keeping their options open. Vodafone, the leading IoT vendor according to a recent Juniper Research study – ahead of Tata and TNS – disclosed it is open to spinning its IoT business out completely. That would clear the way for a merger, which Ofcom said it is more inclined to approve, in principle, in February, dropping its long held commitmtent to four consumer mobile networks in the UK market.

5G private networks are predicted to grow at an average rate of 40 per cent a year between 2021 and 2028, by which time the market will be worth $14 billion (€13 billion).

Link: https://newsroom.bt.com/bt-and-ericsson-sign-multi-million-pound-partnership-to-provide-commercial-5g-networks/

gsma takes on Web giants

trade association GSMA has joined the call for European regulators to order services providers such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon to make additional direct payments to telecommunications companies. The GSMA echoes concerns from ETNO, the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association ,that “over the top” digital services such as YouTube and AWS reap the benefit from their own investment in infrastructure. This costs between €15 billion and €28 billion a year in the EU, or around ten times the amount OSPs (online service providers) have spent on infrastructure, according to ETNO. ETNO also argue that price negotiations are ‘asymetric’, since they cannot realistically refuse to carry their data to consumers. Both trade groups also cite cumbersome regulation and mandatory fees, such as spectrum costs.

“The online services and user interface segments are benefiting most from value-chain growth and generating the largest shareholder returns, whereas the internet access connectivity segment has generated relatively low and even single-digit returns on capital.” Shareholder returns have been “almost flat” for around six years, the GSMA says in a report prepared by consultants Kearney.

“Business leaders and policymakers need to fully appreciate the critical role of the internet infrastructure and work to ensure that market distortions, regulatory requirements or other factors are not limiting the ability of participants to make sufficient returns in all segments of the ecosystem and that all segments can make a fair return. This would sustain long-term investment, and not just those businesses that have the biggest platforms and scale,” the GSMA adds.

ETNO called for Meta, Alphabet, Microsoft and Amazon to make direct payments towards infrastructure projects, or to the telcos themselves. OTT providers such as Google and Netflix argue they have invested heavily in content delivery networks so largely carry the video traffic themselves, and lay lots of fibre cables. Some of the largest undersea fibre cables are being laid by Google and Facebook. Critics also compared the calls for “fair compensation” to shipping companies demanding an additional share based on the value of the goods packed in the containers.





Box of Tricks

After receiving funding from the UK Government via its FRANC competition, Loughborough-based CommAgility has introduced a small cell reference platform for use in industrial private networks. Designed primarily for indoor use it marries chipsets from Dutch chip company NXP Semiconductors with CommAgility’s phyiscal layer software.

The unit can be licensed or customised for the customer, and consists of four RF channels enabling a 4x4 MIMO downlink. It uses 16 ARM cores and  NXP Semicondictors digital signal processing cores and wireless accelerators.  CommAgility is part of the O-RAN Alliance which promotes open architectures and the new reference platform, targetted at the operator spectrum of N78 will support releases 16 and 17, the latest versions of the 5G standard.

Cybersecurity ARM Ten

The UK’s most successful semiconductor company ARM has been conducting a seven year research project to create a more secure hardware architecture, receiving funding from UK Research and Innovation since 2019.

The project explores using special instructions: Capability Hardware Enhanced RISC Instructions (CHERI) devised by computer scientists at Cambridge and the nonprofit Californian research institute SRI  (formerly Stanford Research Institute) to protect and box off the computer memory that each process is using: a common area for exploits. 

Finally UK companies can get to test the results, in the form of access to a prototype circuit board, Morello, as part of the ICSF Digital Security by Design challenge. The first ten companies chosen include Trèsbian, an open source Linux based on the instruction set, Inventia, which is creating a billing backend using the Morello board for mobile operators, and Praeferre, which is creating a secure data broker for consumers.

New CEO for CW

CW, the lead delivery partner for UK5G, has a new CEO. Mark Rayner has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of CW (Cambridge Wireless), the community for research into mobile wireless, internet, semiconductor and software companies. Rayner joins from St John’s Innovation Centre, where he was Innovation and Finance Specialist and was previously COO of supercar company BAC (Briggs Automotive Company), and a director at Pall Mall Partners.

Nokia QUERIES open ran

Nokia’s policy chief has said Open RAN raises security and environmental concerns Florian Damas said a move to COTS (commoditised, off-the-shelf) hardware resulted in much greater power requirements, particularly if Intel’s power-guzzling PC chips x86 are used.

“The reason why established vendors have custom-made system-on-a-chip hardware solutions is to ensure that we meet the targets when it comes to energy efficiency. We have to be very careful between everything on common platforms and the objective of the green deal to reduce energy consumption,” said Damas, in comments reported by Light Reading. “No one disputes that you can do Layer 1 [the transmission and reception of bit stream data such as radio signals] with an accelerator using x86 for wireless. The problem is you need a room compared to one box or a rack”.

The power consumption increase involved in moving away from specialist proprietary hardware from vendors like Nokia has been disputed. The Open RAN Policy Coalition, for example, points out that while datacenter computations have increased 550 per cent in the past decade, power consumption has increased 1.6 per cent. In addition, it argues, shifting radio and distributed functions to the cloud, or even pooling them, result in energy savings – which goes under the name CloudRAN or vRAN.

Damas also drew attention to security. Research from Strand Consulting noted over 50 Chinese companies have joined the Open RAN initiative: “it is not clear how trading one known insecure Chinese vendor for 50 unknown Chinese vendors is the path to greater security,” argued analyst John Strand.

“Nokia is a supporter of Open RAN and was the first major telco equipment vendor to join the O-RAN ALLIANCE” the company emphasised in a statement.

EU One Plug To Rule Them All

The European Union has announced that it wants one type of wired charging port for consumer electronics devices. The changes are part of the Radio Equipment Directive, and will require Apple to drop its decade-old Lightning connector for iPhones, first introduced with the iPhone 5 in 2012, as it has decreed that the USB C connector is the chosen one.  New labelling will be required to inform consumers of the power charging performance of both cables and power plugs, as these vary wildly within the USB C family of standards. 

The Commission cited “consumer frustration and e-waste” as the reasons, suggesting that disposed of and unused chargers 11,000 tonnes of e-waste a year. Apple has argued that mandating USB C will cause a rapid overnight increase in e-waste. Apple was the first to remove a bundled charger from new smartphones in 2019, and Samsung and others have since followed suit. Apple argues that decoupling the socket from the cable allows far greater re-use of existing chargers.

Ofcom Drones

Ofcom has proposed a new licensing framework for aerial drones, hoping to ease the path to commercial uses such as unmanned parcel delivery. Currently, Ofcom and the Civil Aviation Authority set the rules for drones, with most being license exempt so long as they confirm to certain rules on radio power transmission and usage. The owner and operator must self-register with the CAA, but most can operate in unlicensed spectrum. In practice this limits legal use to line-of-sight craft.

The new framework proposes the introduction of a new Unmanned Aircraft System Operator Radio license that allows drones that operate beyond the line of sight, at much greater altitudes, and over long distances. Examples cited include postal drones making deliveries to remote communities, the rapid delivery of urgent medical supplies, and the use of drones to inspect industrial machinery such as electricity pylons.

“A drone spectrum licence does not necessarily indicate that the CAA has permitted the equipment to be carried,” Ofcom notes. “Although the proposed licence provides the framework for authorisation of the use of mobile terminals on a commercial drone, the licensee would need to have obtained a written agreement from the mobile network operator prior to use.”

A consultation on Ofcom’s Spectrum for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) is open until September. 


mobileworldlive.com/latest-stories Ofcom Drones

Fibre in Water

The Government is catching on to a potentially much cheaper way of delivering fibre connectivity, without digging up fields and roads. In-pipe communications places the fibre inside existing water mains, allowing gigabit links to be established very quickly, with the minimum of fuss.

Civil works can account for 80 per cent of the cost of building new gigabit-capable broadband networks. If successful, it will also connect villages considered uneconomical for for fibre deployment.

Water companies are already using fibre optic in water pipes for their own reasons: to deploy sensors to help detect leaks faster.

Two years ago Severn Water installed a fibre optic cable to ‘listen’ for potential leaks, and also detect water “pirates”. vowing to install fibre in every water main eventually.

The Barnsley-Penistone scheme is the first trial of a £4m fund announced last August.

The idea isn’t new, and rural regions in the United States Europe are already benefitting from British know how to put fibre in existing water pipes. In Washington State, Craley Ltd helped install a 30km fibre that both connected premises, and spied for water leaks. It’s speedy to deploy, too: a 7km trunk in Tavèrnoles, a 320-resident municipality in ural Catalonia was deployed at 4,000 feet per day.

Craley is introducing Liner, a laminated recycled polymer layer within an existing duct, allowing for cracked or broken waste ducts to be fixed quickly, with optional fibre cable integration.

Following the evaluation of the initial trial, DCMS will look at funding larger projects if successful. This technology could be seen as a useful component in the challenge to roll-out of Project Gigabit.

Canada bans China, at last

Canada will ban equipment from Chinese telecoms vendors ZTE and Huawei being used in its 5G networks.

“In 5G systems, sensitive functions will become increasingly decentralized and virtualized in order to reduce latency, and the number of devices they will connect will also grow exponentially,” explained the government. Canadian companies can sign deals with the companies until September, but existing 5G equipment or services must be removed or terminated by June 28, 2024.  The UK announced a full ban in July 2020, explaining that US Sanctions made it impossible to verify the security of the products, with a termination date of 2027 – a seven year window.

In 2018, Meng Wanzhou, Huawei ‘s chief financial officer and the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested Vancouver and extradited to the US under suspcion of breaking sacntions in Iran. This led to a Meng to a deferred prosecution agreement. As part of the deal, Meng agreed to a “statement of facts”.  Two Candians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig were arrestd in China in what was seen as a revenge move.

As recently as 2019, Canadian forces helped train Chinese military staff up to one star general level at the Forces College in Toronto, and the two countries participated in cold weather training exercises, documents disclosed under Freedom of Information requests subsequently revealed.

The AR future never comes

Will Augmented Reality (AR) ever happen? It certainly seems further away after Facebook parent company Meta postponed plans to introduce AR glasses. Meta sells the most consumer virtual reality (VR) glasses today – with its best-selling Meta Quest 2 – formerly the Oculus Quest 2 - the only wireless success so far. But finding the right combination of lightweight headgear and software experiences is proving elusive, even for some of the biggest companies in the consumer electronics industry. Apple’s much delayed AR glasses have repeatedly failed to appear. Meta confirmed that the wait will continue.

“The path to groundbreaking products is not a straight line,” said Meta’s CTO Adam Bosworth in a Tweet. “As is common in our industry, we iterate on multiple prototypes in parallel & shift resources as we learn.” 

5GTT becomes FNP 

Those who have been following the progress of the 5G Testbeds and Trials programme from the beginning will have noticed the team in DCMS has not only changed significantly but also the remit that it covers has expanded massively.  It now covers over 50 projects spanning a number of different interventions including the Open Networks Programme, Shared Outcomes Fund and 5G Testbeds and Trials. The expanded scope of the team has been reflected in the new team name, the Future Network Programmes (FNP) team. This intends to provide a wrapper for all the programmes that the team helps to deliver and give stakeholders a clearer idea of the multifaceted focus of the team.

Using 5G will deliver a competitive advantage says 7 in 10 UK businesses

A survey of 300 businesses carried out by UK5G has found that 70 per cent are now using 5G or planning deployments. While barriers to adoption still exist, businesses are looking to build a commercial case for 5G that fully realises its benefits.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of the businesses surveyed were  confident that they understood the benefits of 5G, while 70 per cent have a plan for how they will use it to achieve competitive advantage. This is evidence of the maturation of 5G innovation driven by a growing understanding of the outcomes the technology offers. For example, two thirds (66 per cent) believe 5G will make a positive contribution to their corporate sustainability efforts as well as help improve customer experience (65 per cent).

While 5G is approaching the stage of early market adoption in the UK, there are still challenges that are preventing businesses from investing or maximising its potential.

Over three in five (63 per cent) businesses cited complexity and cost of infrastructure, installation and integration as the main challenge to overcome. As well as the cost of deployment, there is still an issue with organisations not fully understanding how to deploy 5G solutions, which over half (53 per cent) say is an inhibitor.

Despite these challenges, 45 per cent of businesses are planning to invest in 5G by 2023 and business leaders demonstrated an active curiosity in the best practices which will pave the way for a successful deployment.

Almost two thirds (66 per cent) said industry-specific benefits of 5G would incentivise them to invest. However, by their own admission technology leaders need education. Almost three in five (58 per cent) require further guidance on how to integrate 5G with existing infrastructure, while over half (51 per cent) would see value in best practice guides to assist with their deployment.

Generally, business leaders understand the value of innovation networks such as UK5G as they seek greater understanding of the potential benefits 5G can bring their organisations. Organisations also want to see further insight being shared by the technology and telecoms industry, with 46 per cent saying they will turn to big tech and 40 per cent looking to mobile network operators to improve their grasp on how to deploy 5G in commercially viable way.

UK5G’s Bob Driver said: “The UK has an established ecosystem of support for businesses looking to deploy 5G in a way that brings them competitive advantage and return on investment. UK5G brings together a host of expertise across the technology and telecoms industries and works with a broad spectrum of organisations to help them navigate 5G and support them”

Ubicquia and Movandi mmWave Streetlight Repeater promises low-cost deployments

A new mmWave repeater which will instantly plug into with 360 million existing streetlights worldwide could speed up 5G depolyments. Ubicquia, Inc. a company dedicated to making intelligent infrastructure platforms that are simple to deploy and monitor, has announced a strategic partnership with Movandi Corporation, a leader in 5G mmWave RF semiconductor technology. Under the terms of the agreement, Ubicquia will use Movandi’s technology to create a mmWave smart repeater that plugs into a streetlight’s photocell socket in minutes.

While mmWave technology enables up to 100 times more capacity than current 5G mid-band spectrum, its propagation distance is typically less than 250 metres, and it does not turn corners or penetrate buildings. As a result, 5G mmWave networks will require many more sites than mid-band networks.

Ian Aaron, CEO of Ubicquia said, “The only way mobile operators can deliver on the promise of mmWave 5G in any reasonable period is to leverage existing streetlight infrastructure. Our goal in collaborating with Movandi and integrating our IP and work developing streetlight solutions for Public WiFi, Public Safety and Carrier Small Cells, is to help mobile operators not just deliver 5G mmWave services to dense urban areas but make 5G mmWave services a reality for cities of all sizes.”


One-quarter of the world’s population now covered by 5G

Research by Ericsson for its annual Mobility Report has found that with more than 210 networks commercially launched across the world, 5G population coverage reached around 25 percent at the end of 2021. This is about 18 months faster than the time it took for 4G network build-out to reach 25 percent population coverage after its first commercial launch year. This makes 5G is the fastest-deployed mobile communication technology in history, and is forecast to cover about 75 percent of the world’s population in 2027.

Nokia and Elisa achieve over 2 Gbps 5G uplink speeds

Nokia, Elisa, and Qualcomm have hit record-breaking 5G uplink speeds of 2.1 Gbps. This was achieved in a live demonstration at the Nokia Arena in Tampere in Finland. The new record, which follows the 8Gbps downlink speeds announced in 2020. During the trial, Nokia provided its AirScale base station in 26 GHz mmWave spectrum over Elisa’s commercial 5G network. The network was connected to a 5G device powered by a Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System. Additionally, Nokia deployed its Carrier Aggregation technology to make the best use of the available spectrum assets. The Carrier Aggregation setup included four component carriers of 100 MHz each.

Nothing Phone

The first 100 5G handsets from boutique phone manufacturer Nothing have sold at prices over £2500 through an auction system. The phone has a spectacular system of reacting to user inputs and displaying its status through lighting inside its transparent case https://nothing.tech/

Correction –

A million apologies In Issue 9 of UK 5G Innovation Briefing we looked at how T-Mobile in the US is using cloud based technology from Mavenir.  In the piece we claimed that T-Mobile has 125 subscribers. This should have read 125 million subscribers. We would like to apologise for our mistake.